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Monday, April 24, 2017

Le Séisme?

French election results seem to confirm the two surviving candidates of the crowded first round of Presidential voting as Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. As of this writing, a bit over 2% separates first-place finisher Macron from Le Pen. That means, absent some last minute vote surge by one of the other approximately 3,570 candidates, Macron and Le Pen will do battle May 7 to see who becomes the next President of France.

Macron, of course, is now the new darling of the French and global media, who now portray him as the last chance to save France from the Le Pen apocalypse. Those more familiar with French politics than I please feel free to correct me, but it seems that both candidates project a vaguely non-establishment aura, although young Macron, born in 1977, has a record as a former Socialist Minister for the Economy (2014-2016) and, presumably, will have to explain/defend France's lackluster economic performance during his tenure. Le Pen, labelled by almost all the press as "far right," despite a lack of evidence for that label, has run a very populist campaign with many of the same themes that we saw Trump use in his successful drive to the White House. The MSM, of course, are calling for unity against Le Pen, and the pollsters predict Macron will beat her handily next month. That happened to her father in 2002, when the establishment factions joined forces to defeat him, but we'll see if the past is prologue.

Whether this new Le Pen wins or not, however, we, in my view, have seen a seismic event in French politics. The established political parties of the Fifth Republic got sidelined. Le Pen's performance, in particular, has sent a mighty shiver down the collective spine of the globalist elite who run the EU, the World Bank, the IMF, the UN, etc, -- perhaps even more so than the "surprising" Trump victory in the US. I also would note that Marine Le Pen's possession, presumably, of a vagina gets her no support from the Progs. "Far right" vaginas don't count.

Why do I say this has the potential to prove even more of an earthquake than Trump's win?

France arguably is the mother of modern progressivism; it is the French who gave us the concept of "right" and "left"; it is the French Revolution, not its elder American sister, that has served as the model for revolution for the past two hundred years all over the world. Prog talk (To the ramparts!) is full of references--see Marx--to the French Revolution of 1789, and to the Paris revolts of 1832, 1848, and 1968. The progs are drawn to the grotesque dramatics and hypocrisies of the French Revolution, where terror, mass murder, and imperial wars were launched in the name of freedom and brotherhood. Why? Because there was a self-annoited arrogant "intellectual" elite in charge of all things, in charge, most notably, of shaping the sans-culots into progressive killing machines at the beck-and-call of the revolutionary elite. Progs see themselves as the inheritors of that elite. Lest we forget, France, more than any other country, is the producer of the original cigarette-smoking, beret-wearing "radical intellectual," e.g., Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir, who questioned and derided everything about the very bourgeois society that gave them fame and, in many cases, riches.

In rides Le Pen. For all her flaws as a campaigner, she has thrown a massive stink bomb, perhaps even bigger than her father's, into the progressive world. She has shown, again, that underneath the PC culture, underneath the censorship, and the atmosphere of ridicule for those who believe in something other than the state, there is a living breathing body of citizens and voters who will not be silenced, who want to see an end to the destruction of their country and culture. Progressivism is skating on thin ice. That is the message, and while the progs might well manage to patch over the holes in the ice this time, what about the next time? And the next?

Let's see what happens.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Diversity is Our Strength, Part 2

OK, I've written about this before (here) and in light of what just happened on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in the once magnificent city of Paris, I will repeat a lot of it.

First, of course, condolences to the slain officer and best wishes to the wounded. Second, I hope the shooter rots in hell, and, of course, congratulations to the cop who sent him there. I wrote last February that,
"Diversity is Our Strength" seems something that the pig rulers in Orwell's Animal Farm would have posted with their original seven commandments. This phrase gets repeated regularly with such conviction and energy by the proper thinkers and politicos in North America, Western Europe, and Oceania that one hesitates to ask "Why? Why is it our strength?" <. . . >"Diversity" must now join that legion of words appropriated and deformed almost beyond recognition by our progressive overlords. It joins "gay," "liberal," "male," "female," "fascist," "racist" and many more words that now form the core of modern progressivism's narrative. All perfectly good words that now have become unrecognizable and put into the service of the progressive "vision." < . . . > We see in the ongoing debate over immigration in the West that the proper thinkers want ever more "diversity." < . . . > The progressives seek to destroy our culture, and replace it with . . . what exactly? The progs can't or won't say, but we can certainly get a glimpse of what's to come if they succeed. Has "diversity" of the progressive kind made Europe a stronger and a better place to live? I think that hundreds of victims of Islam in Paris, Nice, Brussels, London, etc., might have an interesting answer to that.
Another round of murder at the hands of the usual suspects. I already have heard the apologists pointing out, as they did after a couple of similar shootings in the USA, that the miscreant who did the killing and terror was "native born," not an immigrant. True, but his Islamist ideology was imported, his orders to kill were imported, in sum, and above all, his personal identification was not with the country and culture of his birth, it was with fellow "radicalized" followers of Islam living in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, North Africa, etc.

And it is culture that's the key. Race and racism bores me. I hate discussions about race, and put great distance between racists and myself. Talk about race tells you little to nothing useful. I note, for example, that several of the soldiers on the streets of Paris are black, they look very professional and presumably are willing to take a bullet for France. We are involved in a massive war over culture that we are losing. Until such time that we reassert our pride in our culture, and hold up its values as superior, we will continue to be plagued by the sort of criminality we saw yet again on the streets of Paris. The Melting Pot was the idea; we need to get back to it. The perverted cultural "diversity" of progressivism is a formula for murder and chaos.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Climbing out of the Obama Foreign Policy Hole (Part 2)

A bit over three years ago I posted a piece titled "Climbing Out of the Obama Foreign Policy Hole." It was one of several in which I surveyed the disaster that was our foreign policy under the late, unlamented Obama misadministration, and provided some general prescriptions, and made the following observation,
our president should matter more to foreigners than to us. We hear nonsense from progressives about the president "running the country." Wrong! Our presidency was not designed to run the country--anybody who thinks that it was has not read the Constitution. The executive branch is not the country. The president must concentrate on the executive branch and the main tasks assigned it by the Constitution. Instead of promoting disastrous health care initiatives, listening to every phone call in Iowa, using the IRS to suppress dissent, beating up on Israel, yammering about fictitious global climate change, or demanding a costly and pointless relabeling of food products in the supermarket, the President should focus on his primary responsibility, the national defense. We must have a military capability second to none, and, in fact, greater than any foreseeable coalition of powers that might oppose us. We must stand with our allies; our word must be a gold coin; our enemies and friends must know we say what we mean and mean what we say, to wit, we have the biggest gun and will pull the trigger. The enemy is real and dangerous--a look at the forcibly altered NYC skyline should be proof enough of that. The "end of history" silliness should have died in the rubble of the Twin Towers.
I had written one earlier than that, some four years ago (time flies!) in which I also focussed on,
the disaster that is Obama's foreign policy, a policy of defeat. In its defense, let me say that to call it a policy designed for America's defeat gives it too much credit. My experience at State and the NSC, has shown me that most Obamaistas are not knowledgable enough to design anything. Foreign policy for the Obama crew is an afterthought. They really have little interest in it; many key jobs went vacant for months at State, DOD, CIA, and the NSC. The Obama foreign policy team is peopled by the "well-educated," i.e., they have college degrees, and as befits the "well educated" in today's America, they are stunningly ignorant and arrogant leftists, but mostly just idiots. They do not make plans; they tend to fly by the seat of their pants using a deeply ingrained anti-US default setting for navigation. They react to the Beltway crowd of NGOs, "activists" of various stripes, NPR, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Relying on what they "know," they ensure the US does not appear as a bully, or an interventionist when it comes to our enemies: after all, we did something to make them not like us. Long-term US allies, e.g., Canada, UK, Israel, Japan, Honduras, Colombia, on the other hand, they view as anti-poor, anti-Third World, and retrograde Cold Warriors. Why else would somebody befriend the US? Obama's NSC and State are staffed with people who do not know the history of the United States, and, simply, do not understand or appreciate the importance of the United States in and to the world. They are embarrassed by and, above all, do not like the United States. They look down on the average American, and openly detest any GOP Congressman or Congresswoman  . . . They have no problem with anti-American regimes and personages because overwhelmingly they are anti-American themselves
As we come up on the 90th day of the Trump administration (Only three months! Time crawls!) are we making progress in climbing out of the hole Obama made for us?

I think the answer is, "yes."

In just a scant ninety days, Trump has reestablished the USA as a force with which to be reckoned. It is a remarkable achievement, and one done solely on the basis of leadership. Even under the miserable Obama reign, the USA was the world's foremost economic and military power--at least on paper. We, however, had Obama, Clinton, and Kerry as the architects of a bizarre foreign policy which in essence assumed that the US had to atone for past sins, and should adopt a foreign policy worthy of perhaps Liechtenstein (I mean no offense to Liechtenstein), and not worry about whether America was "winning." We caught an eight-year "glimpse" into what a post-America world would look like. As I have said before, (herehere, for example) Russia parlayed its much weaker hand into a winning one on the basis of superior leadership on the part of Putin and Lavrov; they, and all our other rivals, knew how to take advantage of the foreign policy clown car careening around in DC.

You can have aircraft carriers, stealth bombers, the US Marine Corps, and an awesome fleet of nuclear subs but if leadership is missing, you got blather, you got convoluted word salads, you got angst, you got, well, you got dystopian Obama World in which our enemies ran amok while we ran amuck. To repeat, what was missing was American leadership. That's no longer the case.

As I have noted before, you can like Trump or not, you can agree with him or not, but the man makes decisions, and moves on. I don't see the "flip-flops" that some of his old critics greet with the same glee that  some of his old supporters bemoan. If these first three months are any indication, I think he will prove a master negotiator and game changer in the foreign policy arena. Trump is not flip-flopping, the world is; it is coming his way, not the other way round.

The Russians and the Chinese certainly have taken note of the change in Washington, and I suspect that the regimes in Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela, and the fetid leaders of ISIS and the other radical Islamist death cults have, as well. We can see positive change all around; we see it in the willingness of the Chinese to work much more energetically to control Krazy Kim and deal with the unbalanced nature of our bilateral trade, we see it in the Russian acquiescence to our blasting their Syrian ally, we even see it on our border where illegal crossings have plummeted as the coyotes fear the new sheriff.

I am optimistic that we have begun the long climb out of the Obama foreign policy hole.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Taxes

Sorry for the lag in blogging.

I have been engaging in that annual American ritual know as "Paying Taxes." I always delay, put it off, I don't know I guess in the expectation that it will all hurt less if I wait . . . but, no. I took a huge hit this year, much more than I had expected.

I don't mind paying as long as we spend my money on things like this,

US drops LARGEST non-nuclear bomb in combat for FIRST time 

THE United States has dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb – the largest non-nuclear weapon in its arsenal – on an ISIS tunnel target in Afghanistan.
The bomb – twice the size of the nuke dropped on Hiroshima – was dropped on Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, the Pentagon has confirmed.
The blast radius is believed to be over 300 meters and the weapon is described as "the father of all bombs".


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Thoughts on Over There & Over Here: A Bit of Hope, but . . . .

It's a tired cliche, I know, but, here goes, the world's a mess, well, most of it.

Much is just the usual and ageless human inability to get along, but a lot of it, a great deal of the contemporary mess, results from progressivism and the cruel and inhuman policies it promotes and the delusions it fosters.

Most of  Europe, once the very core of Western civilization and of what most of us considered the civilized world, is in a rapid slide with only a few glimmers of hope that the avalanche can be halted. The delusional "politics of diversity" continue to exact victims on a daily basis. Jumped up jihadis driving trucks into crowds, placing bombs in airports and railway stations, slashing passers-by, etc., have become as London's criminally idiotic Muslim mayor put it, a "part and parcel" of life to which we must adjust.

These members of the Muslim Murder Machine are, of course, precisely those whom the tolerant "progressive" societies of Western Europe welcomed with open arms and wallets. While the dopey youth of Europe run about with their "COEXIST" slogans, the murderous youth of Islam laugh at, rape, rob, and murder them. Europe and the West, in general, as I wrote a long time ago, are clearly not at war with Islam, but we certainly are under attack from Islam. They are at war with us--a war they have waged for some 1400 years.

We see some hope-inducing signs that Europeans have begun to awaken from their progressive induced slumber. We, for example, saw the ballot success of Brexit, which was not driven primarily by economic issues but by,
something much, much more important . . . reclaiming the soul of Britain; preserving and restoring that which made Britain, notably England, one of the world's greatest countries, a nation of stunning consequence. It is about deciding whether the great British traditions and innovations that have made our modern world are worth saving or should be discarded . . . I think that the British, not known for welcoming invaders, have had enough. Well, those who are still British and appreciate their country and its history. Let us not forget that there was a deliberate Labour policy to alter irreversibly the social composition of Britain so as to make it much less British.
The progressive counterattack to nullify Brexit has been, as expected, as undemocratic and dishonest as it has been fierce, but it seems losing. Britain looks firmly headed for the door, and away from the lethal embrace of the EU and its deadly delusions. We live with the hope that Britain will become Britain, again, and give up the mad fantasies driving it toward becoming a sharia-besotted, metric using, offshore Muslim ghetto.

The Eastern Europeans, a people schooled in the hard realities of life, and who know a thing or two about invaders, do not seem fooled by the progressive siren song of "diversity is our strength." The Poles and the Hungarians, most notably, have proven very strong resisting the Islamic invasion and have been hammering the EU to recognize reality before it destroys them all. In the Netherlands and France, too, we see stirrings of popular revolt against the progressive world order. The terrific Dutch politician Geert Wilders is slowly but steadily increasing his political clout within Islam-besieged Netherlands and bringing a refreshing Nigel Farage-sort of common sense to the national debate. The fiery Marine Le Penn, too, has brought common sense back into the French political equation; she, however, faces a withering attack from the world's progressive elite, who attempt to dismiss her with the catch-all label "far right." I wish her well, but the decay in France is so pronounced that I have doubts she can succeed in reversing it. I still find incredible that after the enormous bloody slaughters suffered by the French people at the hands of the Muslims whom they welcomed into their country, so many continue willfully blind to the brutal reality. As Orwell noted, "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."

As I have stated many times before, there is an "arc of insanity that runs from Mauritania to Iran." Delusional policies emanating from Obama's Washington aimed at reducing Western influence and empowering the Muslim masses have further aggravated the traditional strife in the Middle East. The latest manifestation, of course, is the suffering and woe we see in Syria and Iraq which are direct consequences of the deliberate elimination of Western power in the region, and the "empowering" simultaneously of mad murderous Shia Iran and mad murderous Sunni organizations such as ISIS. The results we see in daily news reports. As we see in Egypt today, the region's Christians are being murdered and otherwise eliminated just as the Jews were previously. Muslims apparently do not believe that "diversity is their strength," diversity is only for our countries.

Here at home, progressives are reeling but regrouping after their unexpected loss in the November election, an election which has given us a dash of Brexit-type hope here in the USA. As noted before, they are conducting a campaign of sabotage against President Trump. Relying on the useful idiots pumped out by our decrepit institutions of higher "learning," the effort to delegitimize and paralyze Trump is fierce and unrelenting. The progressive left, of course, has struck what I have previously called a Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Islam. As I also noted, in a subsequent piece,
Progressivist policies are now second only to the Koran as the greatest support to international Islamic terror. The Progressive hatred for Western Civilization makes a perfect match with Islam's hatred for Western Civilization. As noted before, in effect, what we have is a Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Progressivism and Islam. We see in Germany, for example, this Progressive hatred translated into the active encouragement of Muslim "immigration" into the heart of Europe--perhaps as many as one million, mostly young men, in the past few months. The results are catastrophic, and we are only seeing the beginning. Even before this latest "refugee" crisis, we had hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants living in Europe, many if not most on some sort of public assistance--just like the murdering brothers in Boston--and seething with hatred for the "white dude" culture that took them in, feeds them, gives them housing, etc. The Progressive hatred for our Civilization is so complete that even when Muslim "refugees" attack favored constituencies of Progressives, e.g., women, Progressives make excuses for the Muslims and advise women to "cover up" and "keep an arms length" from men. Progressive media is full of stories worrying about the potential "backlash" against the "refugees" because of the stories (oh so carefully worded) of mass rapes and assaults by the "refugees." 
As stated previously (here, for example), the Gates of Vienna have been breached, well, better said, opened from the inside. Our political betters have decided to transform fundamentally our culture into a copy of the savage cultures where Islam rules--and we are not to resist.
The progressives use their dominance of the media, the universities, and the courts to block perfectly common sense measures to try to prevent further importation into the USA of the sort of murderous nonsense we see in Europe and saw in Boston, Orlando, and San Bernardino--to name just three. The struggle in the US against the ravages of progressivism will be a long and hard one, and one made even harder if we allow the globalist sorts to drag us into silly wars where we have few if any vital interests at stake. There is, after all, an apparently insatiable desire by progressives for pointless strength-draining wars. As I predicted about our then-impending operation in Libya, progressives,
love to send America's youth off to war but only if there is no U.S. interest to be protected or furthered--and, of course, liberals themselves don't have to tote a gun. The Euros, the Arabs, the gathered lefties of the world will be happy, well, until that first CNN/BBC/MSNBC report comes in on an errant US bomb that crashes into a school, a bus, a senior citizen's home, or, of course, that jeep-full of Spanish and Italian journalists. Then the attack on the US and its "trigger-happy" military will begin.

Friday, April 7, 2017

On Syria: The Morning After

Mixed thoughts, conflicting views on the military action against Syria. That means this post will likely ramble on a bit more incoherently than is even my wont.

I wrote just yesterday that, "Clearly events are pushing Washington to do 'something' about Syria and Assad." A few hours after that post went up, we saw that "something." It was, as I had speculated we might in that same post, "a hail of death and destruction on his air force."

From initial reports (here, for example) it seems that the cruise missile strike on Shayrat air base, a facility used jointly by Syria and Russia, proved effective; the 59 sea-launched Tomahawks hit their designated targets in a remarkable demonstration of US military prowess, technology, and firepower. Let's put it this way: nobody else could have done it--not Europe, not Russia, not China, not Israel. I also must express admiration for Trump's decision-making style. He listened to his people, digested the info provided, quickly decided to hit Syria, and then turned to deal with the visiting Chinese President (more on that). That is a marked difference from the dithering and endless specifying of the recently closed and tiresome eight-year play Obama Agonistes. Trump makes decisions, and moves on. That is a plus for the Presidency of the United States, the country, and the beleaguered community once known as the West. You can like him or not, you can agree with him or not, but the man is a leader.

Was the attack on Syria, merely symbolic as some (here and here, for example) have claimed? Really? I want to find the brave soul who says that while having nearly 60,000 pounds of precisely targeted high explosives rain down on him. I am no military guru and don't play one on the web, but I think this strike was more than symbolic. It, presumably, was also much more robust than what hapless Secretary John "Xmas in Cambodia" Kerry had in mind when he  talked about giving Assad one week to turn over his gas stores and then threatening him with an "unbelievably small" attack, which, in fact, never materialized. Kerry later claimed a deal to have Russia remove Syria's gas stores--same sort of deal to prevent Iran's nukes . . . The Trump attack might--we have to wait for the formal damage assessment--have put a serious crimp in Assad's offensive ability and willingness. It might also prompt the Russians to keep him on a shorter leash (more on that).

Was the attack on Syria the opening salvo in yet another war? I have written repeatedly that in the Middle East we have to get out of the "regime change" business. We have right now, as far as I know, no replacement for Assad, and do not have a clear understanding of what much of his opposition consists. I think, I hope, I trust that President Trump knows that. To remove Assad and have him replaced, for example, by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or some other apocalyptic lunatic would hardly comprise progress. I don't think we are seeing the start of a new war; I doubt that President Trump would commit to a full-blown offensive against Assad when the end-game remains so murky, fraught with peril, and, frankly, so marginal to core US interests. I have stated repeatedly that the Israelis who presumably would have the most interest in killing off Assad and his evil clan, have not, despite having the ability to do so. They know how power vacuums get filled in the region. One job for President Trump will be to resist calls for "regime change" from the likes of Senator McCain, Hillary Clinton, and others who seem incapable of learning what that actually means.

How will our opponents view this? Russia is clearly unhappy. I expect that the quickness and ferocity of the US response might have caught the Russians by surprise. They might well see the arrival of Trump on the scene as a sign that their free ride in the region is over. They will come to miss the days of Obama and Kerry.

Putin, however, is not a mad man or a crazy "all on black" gambler. His government issued the expected condemnations, but the response, actually, has been rather subdued. Whatever the Russians say, they must appreciate that our military gave theirs a short-lead heads-up so that they could move assets out of the target area. As far as I know, Secretary Tillerson is still on for his visit to Moscow next week. The world has not come to an end. Russia probably will now try to exercise a bit more control on Assad in exchange for propping him up. I suspect that the price for Russian support just went up. We'll see if Assad and Russia learn to tread more carefully in the future. If they don't? We will have to decide just how important Syria is to us.

China, North Korea, and Iran must not be happy campers this morning. I wonder how pleased the Chinese president is to have been in Florida with President Trump when the US attacked Syria. There must be a mix of chagrin and admiration for Trump. The lessons for Iran and North Korea could not be clearer. Trump apparently will act without a lot of warning. Fat Boy Kim must be eating a lot of Ben & Jerry's as comfort food right now. The Mad Mullahs are probably gathered and wondering what has happened to the cushy deal they previously had with the USA.

Now to some basics. I have written before wondering why it is that death by gas strikes us as more horrific than, say, death by napalm or by a .223 round. As I noted in the just linked piece which I wrote almost four years ago,
Despite the temptation, the US did not use gas against well-entrenched Japanese troops in the Pacific, even when gas likely could have saved many American lives. FDR did not want to be known as the President who used gas--he, of course, was developing an atomic bomb . . .
We wouldn't use gas against Japan but used two atomic bombs to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to mention burning nearly all of their other cities to the ground, and flushing their troops out of caves with flame throwers--all justifiable, by the way.

Would we have bombed Assad, if he had merely used conventional explosives delivered by either artillery or aircraft to kill 80 civilians? Are those killed by gas more dead than those killed by explosives? Last July, vacationers in the beautiful French city of Nice were attacked by a jumped up jihadi driving a large truck; he killed over 80 persons. I saw no visible French retaliation against the Muslim world or truck makers.

OK, I don't want to push this too far, but let me just conclude with a question: Is Assad, despicable as he is, and his alleged use of gas a threat to the United States? We, as noted above, will all have to decide, I guess.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Syria: The Siren Song of War

The press is full of reporting about what apparently is a horrific sarin gas attack in Syria (here, here, and here, for example). US Ambassador to the UN Haley gave an impassioned and eloquent address slamming Russia and the Assad regime for the attack. President Trump also let fly a not very subtle threat to the Assad regime in the wake of the attack which came during Jordan King Abdullah's visit to Washington. The calls of "Assad must go!" and for some sort of US action in Syria are increasing in the media and in the political world.

I wrote in this humble blog some 3½ years ago that then Secretary Kerry, for all his blathering on and on about Assad and gas, was not at all serious about addressing the issue (here); about Neville Chamberlain Obama's "Red Lines" and his "Peace in Our Time" agreement with Russia on Syrian gas (here), an agreement, of course, which was supposed to end the Assad regime's ability to conduct gas attacks; and even a post where I expressed some doubts about the gas attack reports.

Clearly events are pushing Washington to do "something" about Syria and Assad. Let me state, yet again, that Assad is, as was his his father, a pencil-necked murdering SOB. Let us not forget that it was progressive politicos, e.g., Nancy Pelosi, who thought Assad a "reformer" with whom we could deal. Nobody else was fooled by Assad, except, of course, for the progressive media types who hailed Assad as a reformer with Western proclivities and a beautiful wife. With a confused (understatement) multiparty civil war now underway in Syria, Assad faces serious challenges to the survival of his Baathist Shia minority regime. He receives considerable backing from Russia, eager to reinsert itself as a major player in the Middle East, and from his fellow Shia thugs in Iran, who want to keep a Shia-controlled regime in power on the border with Israel.

Before we do "something" about Assad, let's hope that the President is getting good intel about what is and is not happening in Syria. Perhaps our intel agencies can be distracted from what apparently has been their primary mission for the past eight years, i.e., listening to every phone in America and smearing the Democrats' political opponents, to developing as accurate a picture of events in Syria as possible. I don't want us marching into a war on the basis of NGO and press reports--please, remember to "Remember the Maine!"

Did Assad/Russia carry out a gas attack? What's the evidence pro and con? If so, what's that say about the "deal" Kerry brokered with Moscow? Why would Assad use gas when other just as lethal means are at his disposal and attract less attention, especially when Abdullah is in Washington? And above all, what US interests are threatened? Do we want to knock Assad off his perch? Who or what would fill the vacuum? Let's remember Libya, shall we? Are we risking a shooting war with Russia over Syria? America First, remember?

Talk to Russia. Find out what their game is in all this. What do they want aside from looking like Assad's saviors? How willing are they to risk a shooting war with us over Assad? Unfortunately, the climate right now in Washington is not conducive to serious, adult conversations with the Russians. The media seem to want a US-Russia confrontation, and it's a brave politician who says, "Stop the Russia nonsense. We need to deal with these people."

Talk to Israel. If there's one country in the world that would like to see Assad and his family roast in hell it's Israel. They've had long experience with the Assad clan, fighting them in open wars and in bloody covert actions of various types. The Israelis have had for years the ability to knock out the Assads, but never have done it. They similarly had the ability to kill Arafat but never used it. They know something crucial about the Middle East: what you have and know is probably better than what you don't have and don't know. An evil, murdering but presumably rational actor such as Assad is better to have in power than some member of the apocalyptic murdering evil ISIS or some other Islamic death cult.

If the evidence ("Slam dunk"?) comes in that Assad did use gas, and we determine that key interests of ours are at stake--including our credibility, if we keep talking--then we have means to curtail Assad without necessarily destroying his horrid regime. We, for example, can unleash a hail of death and destruction on his air force or his gas stores; we can also cause him great economic damage via a variety of means. Then let him know and the Russians, too, that there's more death and destruction from where that came if certain activities do not cease.

Bottom line: Do we have the ability to "repeal" Assad? Yes. Do we have the ability to "replace" Assad? I doubt it. What comes after Assad could make us miss Assad a great deal.

I worry that we might have yet another administration sidetracked by war, and prevented from carrying out vital reforms at home needed to preserve our prosperity, culture, and national strength.

Monday, April 3, 2017

On Spying, Again

The details keep coming out fast and furious. I've written several prior posts about Russian spying and the story that the Russians "hacked" the election to favor Trump. Please review my golden words (here, here, and here, for example) if you have the stomach. I will make a few quick observations in light of recent developments.

Let me cite something I wrote almost three weeks ago,
The Dems claim that Trump is in bed with the Russians; Trump denies it and countercharges that the Dems had him under surveillance. We have here a problem. If the Dems have official intel on Trump's connections with Russia, how did they get it? . . . I think there was surveillance of Russian activity, probably by the NSA, and it found nothing to show that Trump had contacts with the Russians; the Obamistas and the Clintonistas then made up the accounts of Russian interference.
We now have coming out that former National Security Advisor Susan "video killed our people" Rice was apparently involved up to her neck in the Obama administration's surveillance of the Trump campaign and, later, of the Trump transition team. As more information appears, the details will change so let's keep to a bird's eye view.

It seems Rice demanded that names of Americans, apparently those working for Trump, be "unmasked" and sent around to the various intel agencies in Washington. Those Americans had their names collected, it is claimed, incidental to legitimate surveillance of foreign targets, especially Russians. Rice, it seems, asked that the names be shared around--no explanation given. Her actions seem (that word) of a piece with one of Obama's last executive decisions allowing NSA raw data to be distributed to all intel agencies.

Why would they do this?

Well, simply put, it's a way of not leaving your own fingerprints on the inevitable leak of those names. If you pass around politically loaded names to hundreds of people, you know, you absolutely know, that the names will leak, and it becomes very difficult to find the leaker. The names, I repeat, will leak and this leak gives the aura of a massive criminal enterprise underway by the Trump people to sell out the USA to Russia. It is an act of sabotage of President Trump of the grossest kind.

We still have no evidence of the Russians hacking the election to favor Trump. No evidence has been provided as to why the Russians would want Trump to win. No evidence has been provided of how the Russians would know something the pollsters did not, to wit, that Trump would, in fact, win the November election. Above all, there is no evidence that Trump or his cohorts were in league with Russia--what would they get out of it?

I think, furthermore, that my initial impression that the Democrats made up the story proves the best explanation. They told a big lie. This Russia story provided the excuse to conduct surveillance of Trump and his campaign and his transition teams. Just as the Obama people sold guns to Mexican drug cartels and then sought to blame the "gun trafficking" on the second amendment ("the drugs flow north but the guns flow south"), they justified their surveillance of political opponents with the Russia story. The overwhelming conceit was that they just assumed Hillary would win the election and the story would remain buried. Once they saw she had lost--presto!--Obama's executive order spreading the info all over town making it hard to find the culprit leaker/unmasker.

This is getting very nasty, and the Trump-Russia story is blowing up in the face of the Dems.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

President Maduro: Can't Even do Dictatorship Right . . .

Turns out Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the Curly Howard of Latin America, can't even do dictatorship right. The country, holder of the world's largest proven oil reserves, is in an unprecedented social, economic and political meltdown as it experiences the inevitable results of nearly 20 years of socialism.

Just a couple of days ago, I noted how Maduro had ordered his compliant Supreme Court to declare the Congress in contempt of the Constitution and had the judges strip the legislators of their powers and immunities, i.e., meaning they can be arrested at will for their words and deeds in Congress. In the wake of the domestic and international outrage this action provoked,  Maduro "convinced" the Court to take another look. Like the obedient little worms they are, the judges nullified their own ruling.  Maduro grandly declared "the crisis is over!"

No, President Maduro, the Ralph Kramden of Latin America, the crisis is not over. It's building up a head of steam. The only thing worse than being a dictator is being a bumbling one. Maduro has shown that he can be beaten and forced to retreat in the most embarrassing sort of way. The opposition will take note as will many in his immediate circle already getting sweaty palms over their prospects for the future. I note that with Trump in power in the USA, a cushy exile in Miami, the traditional resting ground for disgraced Venezuelan elite, is not very likely. To the moon!