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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Death Wins One

Back in California. Just made it in time for my father's death.

He was 94, and, as the all-knowing "they" say, he had a pretty good run. As readers of this little blog might remember, he came from a town in Morocco in the part of that North African country that formed the "Spanish Protectorate." He was born a Jew in a Muslim country under Catholic Spanish rule. He always seemed to find the odd niche to fill, the hard-to-categorize, he was, shall we say, an off-brand. This failure to stay within easily defined boundaries would follow him for the rest of his life, both professionally and personally.

He arrived, by ship from England, in New York City on Christmas Eve 1950, with an American visa, $200 in tens, and the address of the local YMCA in his pocket. He had always wanted to live in America. He briefly flirted with the idea of living in Britain, but the UK in 1950 was not a cheery place. It certainly was not America. So, off he went. My mother followed shortly after.

We moved a lot. We lived all over the country (NY, VA, Territory of Hawaii, and many places in CA) and spent a great deal of time overseas as he had to return on several occasions to deal with family issues in Morocco and Spain.  It was not easy getting his Spanish credentials accepted in the USA of the 1950s. The AMA had successfully blocked most foreign graduates and required extensive retraining and internships. He waged a constant battle to get accepted as a doctor, and some of his most colorful stories involved dealing with hospital administrators and doctors to get himself established. He, however, spoke several languages, had excellent surgical skills, and went on to became a highly successful doctor (psychiatry, neurology, and neurosurgery) and one who found 90% of medicine to be "nonsense," his favorite word.

He was restless, and kept a passport, a .38 revolver, and several thousand dollars in a cigar box under his bed, "When you're Jewish and have lived in Europe, you learn to be ready to go immediately." He was an ardent defender of the Second Amendment. He thought it amazing and a tribute to the wisdom of the nation's founders that a private citizen legally could arm and defend himself.

Back to his views on medicine. He would often say that the only real discoveries in medicine were aspirin, codeine, laxatives, and antibiotics--everything else was, well, "nonsense." Did he really believe that or was he trolling? Hard to tell. He certainly had little respect for psychiatry, but at the same time used his considerable analytical skills honed in psychiatric practice to evaluate people and, frankly, as noted, to make a lot of money in businesses not even remotely related to medicine. He was also something of a celebrity expert witness in countless civil and criminal trials. He was famous for interrupting cross-examining defense lawyers with, "Stop that nonsense! The man knew exactly was he doing. He deserves the gas chamber."

He made a lot of money, helluva lot, but didn't seem to care much about the stuff. Aside from his medical practice, he was something of a stock market and real estate wizard. We, however, lived very middle class lives, no particular luxuries, one b/w TV, older cars, and never knew we were quite wealthy. I only got an inkling when once, in the late 1960s, I glimpsed his IRS returns and was stunned by the yearly income; I felt sure there was a misplaced decimal point. I never saw him attach any importance to money except as it provided a means to achieve independence, and get away from the "idiots." He was always searching for ways to get away from the "idiots." He lived frugally, drove old and battered cars, dressed modestly, and rarely splurged on anything except cigars and wine. He had, yes, a rusty three-cylinder Geo which he drove to fancy Beverly Hills restaurants and parked next to the gleaming Bentleys, BMWs, Cadillacs, etc., of the ostentatiously and supposedly rich. Tired of the constant jibes about his car, he had business cards made to hand sneering parking valets and dinner partners reading, "Yes, but unlike you, I actually have money."

He smoked four or five cigars daily until about year or so before his death, drank copious amounts of wine and cognac, ate prodigious amounts of red meat, devoured chocolate chip cookies, and never did an hour's worth of exercise in his life: "Just like Churchill," he would say. He laughed off advice to stop smoking, start exercising, and "clean up" his act. "Doctors don't know anything," he would say while he sat in his office wearing his Louis Farrakhan bowtie, puffing on a cigar, reading Bertrand Russell ("An idiot, but he writes well") and waiting for patients.

He passed much of his life in Malibu. My mother refused to live there and spent her time at a huge house in San Marino. The Malibu house sat, quite literally, on the edge of the continent, right where the ocean and the beach do battle. Unless you lived on a boat, you couldn't get closer to the sea. During storms, the house would get hit by waves--even a seagull and an odd fish or two got flung into the living room through the always open sliding glass doors. We kids hated and ridiculed the place--everything was wet, rusted, or moldy. He, however, loved living there especially when the tourists were blocked by coast highway closings caused by mudslides, brush fires, earthquakes, storms, or some bizarre Malibu car accident, e.g., a drunk wrapping a Ferrari around a telephone pole and bringing the thing crashing down on the road. Why did he live there? He apparently had a perverse pride in living in a very uncomfortable place, and he loved the sea lions and the whales that paraded by the house. He actually worried about the whales, "Poor things, always in that cold water." And dogs. He loved dogs. He hated anybody who abused animals.

He lived surrounded by but oblivious to the Hollywood set. For years, for example, his neighbor, was a very famous comedian and actor, of whom my father had never heard. On the rare occasion he would go to the local temple, he would meet the Hollywood elite--and genuinely have no idea who they were. The last movies he had seen were "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Gigi." He wouldn't go to movies because he was no longer allowed to smoke in the theater, and, yes, "they are all nonsense made by homosexuals and Communists." Mind you, he said this decades ago.

Smoke. As a child, my world was enveloped in cigar smoke. Everything, houses, cars, clothes, and his offices, smelled of cigars. In addition, it seemed that everywhere in those houses and offices, every conceivable space, was packed with books. He loved books and insisted that I read them, too. I was the only kid in Miss Sarzin's fifth grade class who had read Winston Churchill's six-volume history of WWII, and gave ponderous book reports on Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer," Sir James Frazer's "The Golden Bough," and Sigmund Freud's "Moses and Monotheism." I was unbearable--a trait I have nurtured. At least, however, I didn't smoke cigars or swill cognac, well, not in class.

He thought America was the best country on earth, thanks to "the rednecks. They defeated the Nazis, nobody else did." He detested Europe, "pretentious anti-semitic idiots." He also thought that America was headed for serious trouble as it got further and further away from its Anglo roots. He refused to call the left "liberals," and decades ago took up calling them "Communists," to the chagrin of the very PC Malibu and West LA crowd. He saw the 1965 immigration law as the biggest disaster in our history, and loathed America's secularized Jews, "They don't appreciate what we have here." He, himself, of course, was an immigrant with no Anglo roots, had a love of Chinese culture and history, and rarely went to temple. He was a strong supporter of Israel, gave lots of money to the country and even to Rabbi Meir Kahane, but openly stated he could never live there, "A nation of New Yorkers!" He hated New York, and loved Los Angeles and Miami. He also, by the way, hated universities, saying no great idea ever came out of a university--but, nevertheless, insisted that all of us go to university. "Get that stupid piece of paper, but don't pay attention to those stupid professors," was his advice re "higher" education.

Soon after becoming a US citizen, he had voted for JFK and LBJ, but after 1964, became a 100% Republican voter. He had a deep understanding of politics and hated political correctness. He correctly predicted not only that Obama would become President well before he was a major player, but, most surprising, started telling me around 2004 that Trump was destined to become President. He voted for Trump, and one of the last things he saw was the TV coverage of the American Embassy opening in Jerusalem. "Trump knows how to play the game," he said.

Neither he nor I was ever sure if he approved of my choice of career. He had a pretty low regard for the State Department. I remember shortly after I joined in 1978, he asked what my salary was. I proudly told him, $14,700. He looked puzzled, puffed on his cigar, and said, "OK, $14,700 a month is OK, but ..." When I noted that it was $14,700 a year, he was horrified, "You'll never be independent!" He, nevertheless, did visit us at several assignments, but almost died in Bolivia from the altitude.

It's hard to say things about people like him because there's so much to say, and it doesn't all make sense. There is no well-defined narrative. His funeral is Friday--we are trying to get all the kids in for it--and I have been asked to speak. Don't know what I am going to say, but maybe the best thing would be to play Frank Sinatra's version of "My Way." He certainly did do it that way. Maybe that's the narrative.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Friendly Snark: The Royal Wedding

Heading back to California tomorrow for a family emergency. Just going to put up a quick and snarky post.

OK, OK. I should pretend as some others do, not to be aware that there is a Royal wedding underway today in the UK. But, I can't. The media won't let me. Do I wish the newlyweds all the best? Of course. Is this the most important event in the world and of our time? Uh, no, no it's not. It's not even close to being the most important event of the past couple of days or so. It's an A-list celebrity thing. It's pretty and nice, and nobody does these sorts of events better than the Brits. The Royal family is the greatest tourist magnet on the planet. Whatever they cost, they are worth it in tourist jobs, hard currency and the endless number of movies and TV shows that saturate the airwaves, clog the studios, and provide lots of jobs.

The Royals themselves? Meh. I have said before, and will again that QEII is a class act. I wish her and her irascible Prince Phillip many more years gracing the world scene. Her kids and grandkids? Well, most of them fell pretty far from the ol' QEII tree. Now, I will modify that a bit. Many years ago, I declared Harry to be an idiot for wearing a Che shirt while partying. I dismissed him as just another in a long line of callow youths produced by the Royal family, almost stupid enough to be a Kennedy.

I have to take some of that back, however.

Harry served his country well and bravely in combat in Afghanistan--per American sources I heard that he performed quite admirably. Anybody who does that, well, he gets a pass for a lot of stupidity. In addition, he has gone on to devote a considerable amount of time and effort trying to better the lot of wounded veterans both in Britain and the US. Again, he gets some serious points for that. So, let's say he has atoned for his youthful stupidities. Marrying the very politically correct Meghan Markle? Uh . . . well, who knows? The only thing I could think of was poor ol' Nazi-symp Wallis Simpson muttering, "Hey, MM! That's my act you've stolen!"

Bottom line: All the best to the couple, but let me repeat what I said back in 2012,
July 4, 1776. That's the date on the official excuse note. It was signed by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, and others, and delivered by George Washington. As of that date, it's official: We Americans don't have to worry or care about monarchs. And I don't.
My "I don't care about Royals" permit is still valid.

Thanks, Founding Dudes!

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Thought or Two on "Resist!"

It's almost midnight at the quasi-baronial Diplomad estate. There is a huge tropical storm raging outside with some spectacular lightning and thunder displays. The surrounding woods are quite spooky and even creepy. If I see a clown running around out there, I am moving.

Clearly, Gaia is upset about something, and whatever it is, her reaction has my two giant dogs quivering and crying like little puppies. Once again, we see that Gaia is a cruel mistress who spends all her time trying to find ways to terrify and kill all those who dare to live in her house. Once again, we see the wisdom of the Diplomad's dictum, to wit, that the history of civilization is the history of man's fight against Gaia; the most successful civilizations are those most successful in that battle.

All this Gaia "sound and fury" outside has got me thinking about the leftist antics we see since the election of Donald Trump. Driving around Durham, near Duke University, I noticed several yard signs that screamed out in bold font, "Resist!" Ah, yes, these bold signs clearly identified bold members of the bold resistance to the man who, of course, is quite literally Hitler, our own Donald Trump.

Before I reach the perhaps unjustified conclusion that the "resistance" is just a "tale told by an idiot," let me ask a few questions, and make some observations about this bold and virtuous resistance.

If Donald Trump is literally Adolf Hitler, why would a member of the "resistance" identify himself/herself/zheself as a member? Strikes me that is a clear violation of the rules of resistance to a repressive regime. Did Max Manus put such a sign in front of his house to shout out his defiance of the Nazis and Vidkun Quisling? Did Anne Frank? Seems an odd thing to do if the Gestapo is out and about.

What does this "resistance" do? I know what the resistance did in Norway and Yugoslavia, but this one? What does it do? I mean, of course, aside from going to notoriously right-wing Starbucks to demand free bathroom usage. What exactly are they resisting? OK, I understand that just like Hitler, Trump is strongly pro-Israel, has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law, and, just like Hitler, used the power of the state to bring back three non-white hostages from North Korea. Yes, I see the similarities, but . . . well, now that I think about it, I guess Trump is actually worse than Hitler because Trump, unlike Hitler, is not a vegetarian!

But, but I still remain puzzled.

It seems odd that many members of the "resistance" want the state to take away all of our guns. The resistance hates Trump so much they want him and his henchmen to have our weapons. I guess the resistance to Hitler did the same thing, no? Maybe I've got my history mixed up, I don't know, perhaps the thunder and lightning are throwing off my aging brain waves.

So to sum it up for the resistance: The anti-semite Trump is the best friend Israel has ever had. The racist Trump has instituted policies that have produced the lowest unemployment figures in decades for black and hispanic Americans. The woman-hating Trump had a woman running his campaign (no, not Mrs. Putin), has a woman as Ambassador at the UN, another as the head of DHS, another as head of Education, yet another as White House spokesman, and now has made a woman the head of the CIA. The oligarch Trump has instituted tax and other policies that are putting more money into more ordinary people's pockets than has happened in many years.

All just like Hitler did . . .

Ah well, tomorrow will be another day in the Reich in which to ponder all this . . .

Monday, May 14, 2018

Jerusalem: Reality as a Foreign Policy

I thought I would never live to see the day when the US Embassy would be in Jerusalem. It seems that only Israel has to fight to have its capital recognized, and not even its closest ally had the guts--until now--to recognize that capital, and to pursue a reality-based foreign policy not only towards Israel but across the board.

In November of 1995, the US Congress overwhelmingly passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act  which stated that the US Embassy should be in Jerusalem. No President since then acted upon it, until now. It was never the right time. It was too expensive. It had to be part of a "comprehensive deal." The Europeans didn't like it. The Palestinians would be outraged. We would have war with Saudi Arabia . . . yeah, yeah. And, yet, Trump has done it, insisted on recognizing reality, and, yet, the sun rises and life goes on. Amazing.

I remember back in the 1980s, when I was just a young inconsequential State Department buck before I would grow into being an old inconsequential State Department stag, telling a colleague, who would go on to become quite senior in the Bureau of Near East Affairs, "Why don't we just declare our Consulate General in Jerusalem our Embassy?" His answer was an exasperated eye-roll followed by a condescending, "You can't do that." That was it. The wisdom as revealed by the State Department, "YOU can't do that."

And, yet, and, yet, guess what just happened?

You can do that. WE can do that. The U.S. Embassy is now in Jerusalem, having temporarily, in effect, swapped places with the ConGen while a new building goes up. And, yet, and yet, the sun will rise tomorrow.

The bien pensants, of course, are all besides themselves. Even many Democratic politicians--pace Chuck Schumer--who voted for the move now blather on about this is the wrong time; it sends the wrong message; the European "allies" oppose it; and, of course, what about the PEACE PROCESS? THE PEACE PROCESS?!? The Palestinians are never going to believe that we are honest brokers! My strand of pearls just broke!

So when will be the right time? When will the so-called Palestinians say so? The Peace Process, huh? More people have died during this 70-year "Peace Process" than in many a "War Process." All Israel's fault, of course--if only they were willing to help in their own murder . . .

The Europeans? I refer you to the Diplomad's number one rule of American Foreign Policy, "Never listen to the Europeans." They are just about always wrong. They are about keeping things the way they are at any particular moment, unless that moment favors the USA, and about making simple problems, complex, and complex ones, impossible.

Let's be clear. There are only two countries with any say about where the US puts its Embassy in Israel. Any guesses which two? Hint: Neither is in the EU.

Final thought on Europe: Maybe we should move our Embassy in Paris to Vichy?

Yes, before some MSNBC prog points it out, the Jerusalem Embassy Act had some vague language about the final status of Jerusalem being determined in some future peace process. Fine. That's up to the Israelis and with whomever THEY negotiate that, if they negotiate that. As far as I am concerned, and I'd love to hear our President say it, there already is a two-state solution in Palestine: Israel and Jordan. Up to them if they want to add a third state. Meanwhile, our foreign policy and interests in the Middle East cannot be held hostage to some future possibility that the leadership of the so-called Palestinians will finally stop trying to destroy Israel. I wrote about this here,
Let's start with basics. The whole Palestinian homeland bit is a massive scam. Palestinians are Arabs just like the folks in Jordan and Egypt--Arafat was born in Cairo. When the Arab states invaded the nascent state of Israel in 1948, they did not do so for a Palestinian homeland. They just wanted to kill Jews, drive them into the ocean, and eliminate Western influence from the region. Egypt, Jordan, and Syria intended to take the tiny parcel of land allocated to the Jews by the UN and keep it. No Palestinian homeland, no "two state solution," just another "final solution" which would have seen tens-of-thousands of Jews killed, including those born in "Palestine," yes, Jews were also "Palestinians." That's all. Period. 
After the Arab states got their clocks cleaned, we began to hear the baying about a Palestine homeland which just so happened to coincide exactly with the boundaries of Israel. Amazing how that happens! Wherever Jews lived, THAT formed part of the Palestinian homeland. Jordan, of course, had the West Bank from 1948 to 1967; at no time was that then considered part of this definition of the "Palestinian" homeland. It was part of Jordan. There were no international cries to free that portion of Palestine from Jordanian occupation. The West Bank became part of the "homeland" only when Israel took it from Jordan in the Six Day War. 
We also saw the amazing phenomenon of Palestinian refugees. Arabs displaced by fighting started by Arabs were dumped by Arabs on the tender mercies of the UN. The Arab countries wanted nothing to do with them. The UN being all about programs, of course, created the monstrosities known as Palestinian refugee camps, and established a massive money-sucking bureaucracy to administer them and beg for ever greater amounts of money--most of it from Western countries, including the USA.
Anyhow, Trump, former reality show star, insists on having a foreign policy based on the reality of the world. As I noted  before, about his domestic and foreign policy approach,
He is calling, in no uncertain terms, for an end to the phony and destructive internationalism of the past few decades, the internationalism that has devastated towns and cities throughout the Western world, hollowed out once proud industrial centers, and made legions of mountebanks and blow-hards rich and powerful at the expense of the average Joe. He intends to use America's considerable clout to end that. He makes a good unvarnished case that doing so will benefit the "forgotten communities," and enable them, in the US, at least, to achieve a major portion of the American Dream, to wit, a good job, with good pay. 
The world is formed of nation-states, and Donald Trump wants us to act in accordance with that reality. 
Reality. What a revolutionary concept . . . .
Happy 70th Israel. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Trump Rolls On

OK. Are there any other world leaders out there? If so, they shouldn't bother coming to work. Take a holiday. Enjoy the coming summer in the northern hemisphere and the coming winter in the south. Just go home. Relax. Trump's got ya covered.

He does it, yet again.

He has killed the Iran nuclear "deal."

Trump knows how to do foreign policy.  We've had to put up with decades of condescending lectures from the traditional foreign policy "elites" on how difficult foreign policy is; how it's just more complex than YOU could ever understand; don't try it at home; and just leave it to the experts. Seems that our President is following in the foot-steps of Ronald Reagan, and even blazing a few paths of his own when it comes to foreign policy. Amazing how a clear articulation of purpose, a demonstration of strength, and a refusal to accept the standard bromides produces different results. What's that definition of crazy? Shall we say, President Trump is destroying the world order in order to save the world? Sounds good.

The mullahs in Teheran, the murderers in ISIS, Pyongyang and Damascus, as well as the virtue-signaling, pearl-clutching bien pensants in Hollywood, media, academe, and all the capitals of the Far Abroad, now know they're dealing with a different sort of U.S. President. Thank the Lord this President has followed the Diplomad's long-standing foreign policy dictum, "Do not listen to the Europeans,"
[T]he surest way to lose American lives and treasure is to listen to the Europeans. Europe has not gotten anything right on the world stage since, well, since . . . well, since at least the French Revolution.
Let's not forget that since the USA became a significant player, the principal aim of European leaders has been to embroil the USA in Europe's wars, have the USA fix the messes caused by European leaders, but have the USA take instructions from Europe's leaders. Even Churchill, whom I admire immensely, was not immune; he desperately wanted the mighty US in WWII, but wanted to dictate the how and the where of the application of US power. We, of course, previously saw the same thing in WWI. In that conflict, 100 years ago, the geniuses in the European high commands needed US troops to halt a resurgent Germany after the exit of Russia from the war, but did not want an independent US force. Pershing successfully resisted them. Vietnam and Libya were also two messes in which we became involved to bail out Europe. Let us also not forget that the long years of the Cold War involved the US footing the bulk of the bill for defense, allowing Europe to maintain Legoland militaries and spend their own wealth building cradle-to-grave social welfare systems, which, of course, relied on the despised US military for protection.

It goes on and on . . uh, well, not any longer. Just as Reagan did before in rejecting European advice on how to handle the USSR, it seems that Trump has a very clear home-grown idea of how to do things in the interest of the United States. About time.

The "deal" with Teheran was a classic convoluted mess so favored by the Euros and their admirers such as John Kerry. I have written a great deal about that "deal" (here, herehere, and here, for example, and there's lots more). Don't want to repeat all I have said before except to restate that this was a classic con job.

Of course, the Iranians and the Europeans are upset over President Trump's bold announcement that we are walking away from this "deal." As I have noted before, the "deal" guaranteed Iran's acquiring a nuclear weapon, while, mostly European and Russian companies make a lot of money off the Iranian regime whose bank accounts became flush with billions of dollars and euros magnanimously provided by the Obama misadministration in the dead of night.

As to American opinion, I conducted my own highly "scientific" poll. Yesterday, I was at my local gun store, doing a little shopping in the wake of having received my concealed carry permit. Four "customers" were siting in the back of the little semi-rural gun store ("Green Acres"!) when the president came on TV to announce the end of the Iran so-called deal. All four broke into spontaneous applause, with one elderly gent wearing a Korean War Vet cap, telling his wife, "The President has done a great thing!"

There the science is settled, and now . . .

Let the fainting begin!

We hear cries of outrage from Obama, Kerry, and Clinton, of course, who see their "legacy" coming apart. The Iranians are running to Russia and Europe trying to save a vestige of the "deal" to make sure the goodies keep flowing. Kerry, of course, is repeating his anti-American antics of decades ago: just as he did with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations in Paris during the Vietnam War peace talks, he has been in Europe trying to strike some sort of new "deal" with Iran to undermine the US president. Kerry does treason quite well.

Among the many curious things being said is that Trump's walking away from this "deal," imperils our ability to reach a deal with North Korea. Well, yes, it does imperil the ability to reach a "deal" like the one with Iran, but that's what we don't want! While the fainters fainted, newly minted SecState Pompeo flew into Pyongyang to set up the forthcoming meeting between Kim and Trump, and flew out bringing home three American hostages. Sounds like Kim is more than willing to deal, and Trump has his measure of the man.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy is opening in Jerusalem, and the pearl-clutchers can't believe that the world has not come to an end, yet again. The Saudis and other Arabs are making friendly noises towards Israel, clearly seeking Israeli support against Iran, and have supported Trump's move on the faux deal. They know from whence the threat comes, and it's not from Tel Aviv Jerusalem. The mullahs are rightfully in panic mode.

I can't wait for President Trump to turn his full attention to the threat on our southern border and put an end to Mexican interference in our politics.

Roll on!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

California and Chappaquiddick

Just back from my week-long foray behind enemy lines in the formerly Great State of California. Managed to get in and out before the enemy knew I was there.

While there, the "news" came out that California had climbed back to its number five position on the world GDP scale. The West Coast Progs were celebrating having put the UK in the rear-view mirror as some sort of vindication for years of progressive misrule in that once Great State of California. We have an economy bigger than the UK's! Nonsense, of course. First of all they're picking on the once Great United Kingdom, a victim of even more decades of progressive misrule and rot than even California. That's akin to the Mexicans celebrating defeating the French on Cinco de Mayo--a low bar to clear. I told one proggy acquaintance, who argued that this proved that the once Great State of California could go it alone, to try the numbers without the Federal spending in that once Great State, and try it with sufficient revenue raised just in California to pay for all those great things in that once Great State, e.g., essentially free and unlimited schooling and medical care for millions of illegal aliens, whacky environmental policies, etc. The numbers don't add up, at least not positively.

Anyhow, on to something more "pleasant." By that, of course, I mean thanking Australia, once again.

I have previously thanked the Aussies for Sir John Monash, Errol Flynn, Rupert Murdoch, Robert Taylor, John Howard, Tony Abbott, the redesigned Chevy Camaro, and Banjo Paterson, now I must thank that Great Country for Jason Clarke. While in that once Great State of California, I sneaked off to a nearly empty movie theater to watch "Chappaquiddick." If you don't know because you've recently arrived on earth from the moon, and the moon plays an important though uncredited role in "Chappaquiddick," this is the sorry tale of how Senator Ted Kennedy got away in 1969 with killing a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne--another in a long line of women who ran afoul of the Kennedy crime family.

Jason Clarke was born and raised in Australia, but he was destined to play Ted Kennedy. In more innocent times, I would have said he deserves the Oscar for his performance, but given the cesspool that the Academy has revealed itself to be, nobody short of a pedophile or serial rapist should want that body's recognition and praise. Let's just say that Clarke nails it. He is Ted Kennedy. Not only does he have the physical appearance, mannerisms, and the Boston accent down, he manages the empty look of a man out of his depth and living a life he has not chosen. He puts on a stand-out performance as this very shallow, callow man who could not escape the shadows of his elder bothers, the fear for his horrific father, and the ever-present gang of family advisors and fix-it men, and who kinda, sorta "wanted" to be President but didn't really know why except that it was expected of him.

The film relies on straight-up story telling. Nothing fancy or convoluted. It leaves some aspects vague, e.g., whether Kennedy was having an affair with Kopechne. The scenes when Kennedy's Oldsmobile flips off the bridge, and into the water prove harrowing, to say the least. The film rightly notes that contrary to most press reporting of the time, Kopechne did not drown: she suffocated, probably living at least twenty minutes after the accident thanks to an air pocket in the rear of the car. Her death was excruciating, and had Kennedy or his advisers promptly reported the accident, possibly avoidable. The film does an admirable job of laying out the empty, soulless world of the Kennedy clan, and how it destroys lives. A terrific film, and an indictment of the sort of politics we all had hoped lay in the past, but . . .

OK, back to the Russian collusion nonsense. . .

Friday, April 27, 2018

Trump's Seoul Train

Just a quick post as I get ready to go out the door to get a flight to California. Be back in a week.

A most remarkable diplomatic development is occurring right in front of our eyes. The Korean War is about to end, or at least, there's a great probability that it will. The press reporting here in the USA on this incredible development is rather low-key, muted, and often buried below stories about Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, Royal baby photos, and, of course, the never-ending Jim Comey book tour and interview extravaganza.

The Korean War, often referred to as the "Forgotten War," proved a bitter, horrible conflict that few if any saw coming or were prepared to handle. The war, which began June 25, 1950 with a Stalin-encouraged invasion of the South, "ended" with an armistice on July 27, 1953. It cost somewhere above 2.5 million lives, perhaps as many as three million--including some one million Chinese "volunteers." (Personal note: In 1979, I talked to a Chinese diplomat who had been a "volunteer." He said he had never seen firepower like the one that US forces could bring to bear on the battlefield-- "brutal," he called it.)

That old armistice has been an on-and-off affair with lots of violent and deadly incidents since then. The two Koreas remain divided by one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world, and that division has been a potential WWIII flashpoint since 1953. The end of the Cold War did not see an end to the tense situation along that divide, and, in fact, saw an increase in tensions as North Korea went on a drive to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon. The dictatorship in Pyongyang has been one of if not the most reprehensible regime in the world. The people of North Korea live not only with the constant threat of war thanks to their leaders, but exist under horrific daily conditions. North Korea has to be the most miserable country on earth, and one of the few that regularly threatens global destruction.

We are now seeing the leaders of the two Koreas meeting, vowing to formalize the end of the war and to seek a way to denuclearize the peninsula. Huh? What happened? It must have been some tweet from Hillary or Obama, or some wise statement by Pelosi or Corbyn that did it. Gotta be. Or that Kim Jung-un, he's really just a pussy cat who loves his people and peace. Can't possibly be the man in the White House, because we all just KNOW that he's a clown and a loudmouth who doesn't know what he's doing, and thank God, that at least Putin controls him, or who knows what would happen, eh?

Sorry, scoffers. Trump gets the credit.

President Trump played Kim like Perlman plays a violin. Trump quickly got the measure of the dictator and checked him at every move, despite the pearl-clutching and couch-fainting in the West. Kim launched rockets; Trump labelled him "Rocket man" and ridiculed his pretensions. Kim bragged about his nuclear button, Trump fired back that his was much bigger and, unlike Kim's, it was guaranteed to work. SecDef Mattis, in his low-key USMC way, reminded the world that, if need be, we have a military solution to the Korean problem. The US Navy closed in on the peninsula and the USAF deployed bombers. US-ROK military exercises went ahead. Trump went to the Chinese and drove home their responsibility for keeping Kim under control and, not so subtly, asked the Chinese whether their relations with the US were less important than their relations with Kim. Kim got the message; met with the CIA Director; has agreed to a one-on-one with Trump. We have now the first real opportunity since 1953 to turn the page on the Korean War. Things can, of course, go wrong, but they seem to be going quite right.

Trump gets the credit.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Unhappy with the 21st Century? File a Lawsuit

Back in 2004, or so, while I was at the US Embassy in Jakarta, we would get a lot of demonstrations outside our gates. These were big affairs, usually after Friday prayers, with thousands of angry people hurling rocks, bottles, and, to steal from Monty Python, "insults in our general direction." They would place themselves near our double-plus-good walls, mill around with angry signs bearing various accusatory slogans, recite some chants over their bullhorns, and then, after a bit, they would melt away: the traffic would resume, the food vendors would come back, and the visa lines would reform--the protestors, it seemed, had left no more mark than one would, to steal from Bolivar, after "plowing the sea."

"To plow the sea." I always loved Simon Bolivar's evaluation of his life as a revolutionary in Latin America. It conjures up the sense of futility he felt in the waning days of his life as he saw his vision of a united Latin America fall apart under the hammer blows of corruption, egomaniacal generals, and endless war.

All of this came to me as I sat in a seemingly interminable meeting of our home owners' association, in which we "plowed the sea" with great vigor and determination. After two hours, I left to "plow the sea" of the internet with probably the same end result.

As I set about sharpening my plow for the soggy and futile task ahead, I found somebody even more of an insane plowman than I! Yes, I refer to the wild and whacky Democratic Party--the world's oldest political party, I remind you, and one which has not aged well as evident from the clear signs of dementia.

I wrote on February 19, 2017, that the election of Donald Trump as our President had provoked an outbreak of pure madness, wonderfully inchoate, among the progressives in our dear Republic,
As far as I can tell they are for children but also for killing unborn ones with no restriction, no apology, and no need for a fee. They are for LBGT and women's "rights," but ally themselves with Muslims who practice FGM, oppose abortion, treat women like cattle, promote and engage in honor killings, and advocate death for LBGT people. They are for women's rights, but want men who think they are women to use women's washrooms. They are for free speech, but shut down anybody who disagrees with them, and, of course, they ally themselves with Muslims who oppose freedom of speech and thought as part of their core dogma. They are against racism but try to stir up old racial animosities and conflicts that had long been resolved, buried, and forgotten. They are for poor working people, but oppose the tax and the regulatory structures that create jobs. They are for poor working people but favor unrestricted immigration that drives down wages, crowds out jobs, and absorbs the funds of public welfare schemes. They want free education for all, but oppose letting poor and middle class people have the right to choose their schools, unlike the rich people who do. They shout "Love Trumps Hate!" as they bash opponents with bricks and poles. They have spent decades denouncing the military, the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI as oppressors of the people, but now want those agencies to sabotage an elected president. The wealthy ones denounce gun ownership and walls but live behind protective shields of men with guns and walls around their exclusive properties. Hollywood stars who made millions living in the land of make-believe denounce non-existent Trumpian "brownshirts" and bravely proclaim their resistance! They are for the environment and prove it by flying to environmental rallies in their private jets. They, well . . . you can go on with this sad litany. 
For these leftists, facts don't matter. Logic is absent, abhorred, and shouted down. The emotion is the thing. The posturing is the thing. The slogan is the thing. 
I think, when all is said and done, we have to conclude that there is a large element of mental disturbance. 
They are crazy.
If anything they have become even crazier since those words were penned, or digitized, or whatever the appropriate label is nowadays. It seems they have attempted every single means, including outright violence, of pulling off a coup d'etat against our legally elected President--none of which has worked. Trump remains President, a fact for which I am grateful every day.

Now they have hit on a new tactic. Yep, they have gone back to their friends in the courts and filed a lawsuit against Trump, Wikileaks, Russia, and perhaps even Winnie the Pooh--I don't know, the list is long, and who knows? WTP might be there. Yes, they are unhappy with the results of the elections of November 2016. I guess all those blue collar workers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, etc., who handed Trump his victory better lawyer up. I am sure Putin will help with legal expenses.

The geniuses behind this move are to be congratulated for showing clearly the madness that rules the DNC. Even some senior Democrats have distanced themselves from this stunt, clearly fearful, on the one hand, of the ridicule and, on the other, of the possibility that the Trump people might take it seriously and begin the process of discovery. The DNC, by now, should realize that its best course of action is to keep its many skeletons deeply buried, and not have them dug out in court.

Buy stock in Orville Reddenbacker. Watch the DNC plow the sea!

Meanwhile, I am going to file a lawsuit against those demonstrators in Jakarta, and against anybody and everybody who had anything to do with that Madame Secretary TV show.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Comey is a Mess

Over the past several months, I have written (here and here, for example) how I thought that the once vaunted FBI had been led to disaster. This is no longer the FBI of men in white shirts, ties, and fedoras doggedly tracking down the Rosenberg spy ring and dismantling the Mafia. This is now the FBI infiltrated at the top by the progressive snowflake products of our decrepit universities and willing to sacrifice the honor of the institution in pursuit of a political agenda.

On Comey, himself, I went from willing to give Comey the benefit of the doubt on his personal qualities to where I now find myself, to wit, Comey is a mess, a huge stinking mess of contradictions and foibles that make him unfit for command of a banana stand much less the FBI, the world's most powerful law enforcement and intel agency.

The man has some very real problems. I am not a psychiatrist, and don't play one on the internet, but I think he needs some serious help in the mental health area. I hope he gets it before he does any more damage to the country or himself. The words "narcissist," "egomaniac," "paranoid delusions of grandeur and persecution," "fabulist" all easily spring to mind when trying to describe Comey. Such strong words, however, require mental health experts--such as they are--to analyze them carefully for their applicability to Comey. I am not an expert, so I will just give my cheap seats' view.

There's so much out there that he has said and done that makes no logical sense that I can't even begin to look at it all. There's some good commentary, as always, at Legal Insurrection, dealing with the complaints from the Hillary camp against Comey--as I had noted before that,
Dems, once full of praise for Comey, have exploded in anger calling Comey the most foul of names imaginable, including the foulest of all, "Republican." The Dems are desperately trying to put the focus on Comey and take it from the core issue: Hillary Clinton's despicable behavior. 
But do they have a point? Yes, somewhat.
Even the Dems now realize that Comey, initially useful to the libs in going after Republicans, became a man who came to see himself as above the system: he could act on his own to usurp the authorities of the Attorney General; he could decide what sort of deceptive and incomplete information to give President Trump and the FISA court (never told him or the court that the Dossier was not only unverified but bought and paid for by the DNC); and that, as he told Congress, he could leak documents because, apparently, he had a higher moral purpose and end-game. Even Dem operative and Clinton ally, Lanny Davis now has some choice words for Comey, not hesitating to calling him a "liar."

His reasoning for holding that famous July press conference in which he slammed but exonerated Hillary Clinton is bizarre. You can the read the excerpts from his book in which he says he assumed Hillary would beat Donald and that he was trying to do her a favor by bringing the email investigation into the public domain as a way of clearing the air so that President Clinton would not have persistent stories of a cover-up hounding her. What? The bottom line is that he was letting politics determine the path of a criminal investigation--and he admits it was a "criminal investigation"--and he did so in full knowledge that it could have an impact on the election. That's outrageous. He clearly treated Clinton and Trump -- and the voters -- unfairly by inserting himself into the electoral process (and later the governing process) and trying to become some sort of king-maker.

In the wake of Clinton's loss, Comey, in my view,proved totally at sea in the world that came in with Trump. The old establishment "truths" were no longer held as sacred; the old regime of "Washington First!" was being replaced by "America First!" Change is not Comey's forte, particularly when it's not Comey driving that change.

I have previously noted that, perhaps, Comey's single greatest failing was that he insisted on becoming known. He wanted not just fifteen minutes of fame but constant adulation and praise as the Last Boy Scout. Unlike other FBI Directors--J.Edgar excepted--he wanted to be famous, a celebrity. Are we to see him soon on "Dancing with the Stars"?

His catty descriptions of both Obama and Trump are not worthy of a serious adult; his purple overblown prose is the stuff of a juvenile romance novel. His comparing Trump to a mob boss is disgusting, and shows that Comey does not know decisive leadership when he sees it. His constant claims to having been nauseous, depressed, frightened are, again, not worthy of a leader or--shall I say it?--of a real man. I know it's not politically correct, but watching Comey brought back memories of certain people in my high school. Back then we called them "Big Sissies," and I am hard put to come up with a better non-psychiatric label for six foot eight inch James Comey, the ultimate Beta-male.  


Friday, April 13, 2018

Road to Damascus, Part II

Some years ago I wrote about another voyage down the road to Damascus (here). It seems we are on that road, again, under a new tour guide.

US, UK, and French forces have launched a series of attacks on Syrian facilities.

The initial press reporting is somewhat garbled so it will take time to get the details right, but it seems that we are attacking to degrade Syria's ability to conduct future chemical warfare. That's pretty vague, I know, but as I said we will have to wait for further details. Such "degrading" could involve attacks on chemical weapons' stores, manufacturing centers, military units capable of conducting such warfare, supporting infrastructure of various types, and, of course, on Russian and Iranian support mechanisms. The attacks could also be aimed at degrading Assad's military capabilities, in general, and at embarrassing the Russians and Iranians by demonstrating to Assad that his friends can't spare him the pain we can inflict. In recent weeks, as Secretary-designate Pompeo confirmed, we, in fact, have been in direct combat with Russian "mercenaries," killing hundreds of them, it seems. I trust we will not go for the regime change brass ring, a la Libya, but we will see.

President Trump inherited a mess in Syria. "Mess" is too kind a word. Even the Israelis who have a vested and primordial interest in Syrian developments do not seem to have it figured out except for the part of being very reluctant to knock off Assad--something which the Israelis could have done almost time in the past many years.

Although located in "far away" Syria, that mess posed a threat to America and the West. We could not go on with Obama's lackluster (at best) efforts to contain the growing ISIS caliphate and its rising prestige in the Islamic world. That mess also involves a multi-sided civil and international war with shifting alliances, Kurds, murky rebel groups of undetermined loyalty and reliability, Russian "mercenaries," regular Russian forces, Turkish forces, Iranians and their proxies, and, of course, Assad who when dealing with the West poses as the bulwark against ISIS, but who is perfectly happy to kill Kurds and others who do most of the actual fighting against ISIS.

My default position which comes from 34 years in government service is to shut up and support the troops once they go into action. The time for debate is over. I just hope that we have a plan with a realizable and positive goal, and that we are not just floundering as we did under Obama/Clinton/Kerry.  I certainly trust the instincts and leadership abilities of President Trump, NSC chief Bolton, and SecDef Mattis much more than I did those of the late and unlamented Obama misadministration.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mueller Must Go

It's time for the Mueller Circus to follow the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus into retirement. The Ringling/B&B died from declining ticket sales and the persistent assault by animal lovers, especially the elephant lobby's charges that the pachyderms were being mistreated. Fine. I never cared for the circus, and found the animals in it to look tired and unhappy; I never liked an institution that depends on clowns for its viability. The same can be said about the Mueller version of the Greatest Show on Earth.

The President should fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Mueller, and take a deep, deep look into the functioning of the DOJ and the FBI. There will be a political uproar; the Dems and their media acolytes will scream about obstruction and impeachment. Yeah, yeah. They're doing that, anyhow, so let's get this Mueller monstrosity over and done with. Either that or begin naming Special Counsels right and left: one for Hillary Clinton; one for Loretta Lynch; one for Eric Holder; one for James Comey; one for Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her Pakistani gang; one for Chuck Schumer; one for Nancy Pelosi; one for Governor Brown; and, of course, why not name one to investigate Bob Mueller, himself?

No need to push or cut in the queue, folks! We have a line of Torquemada wannabes stretching to the horizon! The government has lots of money! Everybody gets a Special Counsel!

The FBI raid on President Trump's private attorney should be the final straw that breaks the poor abused camel's back. The raid took place, apparently, as a consequence of something that Mueller found out while investigating something else entirely, or so they say. Who knows? In my view, the raid on a private attorney's office and the taking of client files was simply outrageous and of questionable legality.

I know, I know. We are seeing the prog media and others go on about how such a raid could and would be approved only after multiple levels of safeguards had been gone through, so if all those honorable people cleared off, there must be "something," right? Nonsense. After all the abuses of federal power that we have seen these past few years, who the hell believes that? We can be just about 100% certain that the "process" was a Swamp Freak asking a Swamp Clown, "Hey about this for an insurance policy to prevent Trump from being President?" To name just a few abuses, we have seen the progs use the IRS, the EPA, the ATF,  the BLM, the CIA, the NSA, and, of course, the FBI/DOJ misuse of the FISA process to wage war to keep the Swamp Creature Freak Show in the center ring. The progs also have formed alliances with the high tech gurus of Silicon Valley to spy on and silence critics by "de-platforming" them with charges of "hate speech." I got hit with that myself.

Zero doubt now exists, if ever any did, that Mueller forms part of the prog effort to delegitimize the Trump Presidency, and to destroy it and him, personally, for daring to question the established wisdom of "how things get done." This effort was underway during the election when FISA, relying on a fake DNC-purchased dossier, was used to monitor the Trump campaign. The "unmasking," the salacious leaks, all of that failed to prevent Trump's victory in November 2016. Immediately after that election, the progs launched attacks on the vote totals ("Recount!") and on the electoral college ("Electors defect!"), as well as on Trump's patriotism ("Russia! Russia!") They launched riots in the streets, and even before he had taken office demanded and plotted impeachment.

No human's character and reputation now or in the past could withstand an investigation into every facet of his or her life by a prosecutor armed with a political and personal agenda, an unlimited budget, an open-ended mandate, and all the time in the world. Nobody could make it through that unscathed.

Beria and Himmler, looking up from hell, smile.

This must stop.

Fire Ringmaster Rosenstein and Chief Clown Mueller. Shut down this show.


Monday, April 9, 2018

A Quiet Place

I continue avoiding doing my taxes and writing about politics.

Instead, I, reluctantly, went to the movies with a couple of my sons and one of their significant others. They insisted we go see "A Quiet Place." As noted, I went reluctantly as I generally do not like modern "creature feature" sic-fi such as "Alien" and others of that ilk.

So . . . surprise! This film was actually very, very good--excellent, in fact, and I highly recommend it.

John Krasinski--he of "Office" (US version) and "13 Hours" fame--is the director, co-writer, and one of the stars along with his real-life wife Emily Blunt--she of "I am ashamed of my US citizenship!" fame--and a set of very talented children actors. By now you probably all know the premise: a post-apocalyptic world where the few human survivors struggle against a generally unseen horde of carnivorous creatures that react to sound. Humans survive by being quiet. Was this funded by a librarian lobby?

The film is beautifully shot in rural upstate New York. Krasinski, frankly, does a masterful job as director. It is, in fact, one of the best directing jobs I have seen in a long time. The tension in the movie is intense and unrelenting; the pacing is superb. I also liked that instead of having some introductory text scroll across the screen explaining the disaster and setting the scene, or some off-screen narrator filling us in, Krasinski cleverly, almost casually, provides some of the back story to the apocalypse: passing shots of dirty old newspapers announcing the disaster; a faded bulletin-board in the background with pictures of missing persons; the family looking for medicine in a ransacked and decrepit supermarket (an Aldi?) which still has a full stock of loud crunchy chips--no scavenger, no matter how desperate, wants those, and for good reason--and a wonderfully understated scene in which the family lights a fiery beacon at night, and in the background wilderness we see faint widely-scattered beacons from other families.

The barefoot characters hardly talk with each other, and use American sign language, instead. The acting is superb by all involved as the players must convey a range of emotions and thoughts almost always wordlessly to avoid the sound-seeking creatures--which make rare but heart-pounding appearances in the film.

The film has flaws, of course: e.g., the family farm still has electricity for which no explanation is given; the lack of defensive barriers, including, for example, an electric fence or barbed wire is puzzling; and the presence of a strategically placed nail is not explained. Why, furthermore, doesn't the family join forces with other survivors? But, never mind that stuff. This is a great and thoughtful horror movie with a surprisingly conservative theme.

I don't know if Krasinski and Blunt, two typical Hollywood libs, meant to do it, but their movie provides a strong depiction of the power of a traditional family--it does not take a village to raise, educate and protect these kids. This film pounds home the at-times gut-wrenching responsibility parents have to protect their children from the monsters out there--and that parents despite their best efforts don't always succeed. We see a pro-life stance (in a Hollywood movie!) as the Emily Bunt character becomes pregnant and gives birth despite all the risks. The birth scene is quite harrowing, and Blunt does a tremendous acting job. The family also prays silently before dinner--not a vegan meal, by the way. Both father and mother understand their equal but different roles in protecting the children. There is even a pro-gun element: a mother's love and a Remington 870 prove a useful combination when fighting monsters.

Go see it . . but make sure your phone is off and you don't eat anything crunchy . . . you never know what might be lurking out there in the dark.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Marginalia

No great insights today. Have been a bit unplugged from the news and politics. Instead have been exploring the Raleigh-Durham area in the absence of the Diplowife who's in California. Joined a very nice gun range (Triangle Shooting Academy) and took a couple of my S&W 40s to blast away at some hapless targets. Fun time was had by the Diplomad.

I earlier went "shopping" at an ALDI supermarket--didn't actually buy anything. That chain, of course, is quite popular in Europe and has begun to move into the US market. I don't know. I was not impressed. The irritating and very European habit of having to insert a coin to get a shopping cart, I did not find charming. Who the hell carries coins anymore? I found the store somewhat dim and dreary; it evoked old memories of shopping in socialist third world countries.

The products? Boring, over-priced, and poorly packaged and exhibited. Truth be told, however, I probably won't buy organic tofu burgers no matter how nicely packaged, so, I guess, you should not waste any marketing glitz on me, Herr ALDI. As far as I could tell, ALDI seems to be where angry social justice progressives, clutching recycled shopping bags and driving expensive cars, go to shop. I did not detect a whole lot of Trump supporters there. Am I  being unfair? Probably, but, hey, since I got kicked off of Twitter, I have to vent against somebody . . .

What news I did see is just more of the same. I, however, was impressed with Trump taking some significant steps on the immigration front. If, for example, the press reports are correct and he has suspended "catch and release," and asked the military to help not just in intercepting illegal aliens but holding them as they await their deportation hearings, that's a major development--perhaps. I am sure the policy will face all sorts of legal challenges, lots of virtue-signaling and tear-jerking accounts of this or that wonderful illegal alien imprisoned "unjustly," and, of course, it's only temporary since the next President can reverse it. Congress, however, remains MIA on immigration, so the President does what he can with what he has.

That's all I have got for now. Have to do my taxes. Been putting it off for as long as I can. This will, however, be the last year I pay California taxes, so there is that silver lining.


Monday, April 2, 2018

The Central American Caravan

A couple of days ago I posted a piece on Trump's foreign policy with a reference to the ancient Arabic saying, "The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on."

News reports tell us there is another sort of caravan on the move. Some 1000-1200 Central Americans, aided it seems by progressive groups and the Mexican government, are "marching," driving, hiking, riding a train, whatever, on their way to the USA. It is some self-proclaimed "freedom caravan" that intends to arrive on our border, stream across, and then claim asylum in the USA from the violence in Honduras.

This seems to be a new take on the Moroccan "Green March" of 1975 used against Spain in the Western Sahara. The idea is defy the superior armed Western power to use force against a "popular" march which seeks only some altruistic goal. Very touching. You will notice these sorts of tactics are not used against certain countries known to shoot without compunction.

Anyhow, this little stunt is outrageous as it is being, as noted, aided by a nominally "friendly" country, Mexico (see my take on Mexico's friendliness here and here). Not only that, but legally the marchers have no case. If they are fleeing Honduras, they can seek asylum in Mexico, the first stop in their "escape." Mexico has the responsibility to grant them asylum, turn them over to the UN, or return them to their country of origin.

It is political season in Mexico, and the presidential candidates are trying to outdo each other in "standing up to the gringos." If this stunt succeeds, there will be a flood of similar "marches" very quickly. We either have a border or we don't. We either have a regime of laws or we don't. We either have a country or we don't. This is an existential threat as much if not more so than any actions by Russia, China, or the jihadi crazies.

We cannot just have the dogs bark. They have to bite.

One of the articles I link above noted that Mexico has over fifty diplomatic and consular missions in the United States; Honduras has about dozen missions here. All of these, the Mexican ones especially, are centers of political and immigration activism. The Mexicans, as I have noted before, have been quite open in their meddling in our internal affairs, including in the last elections.

We need to tell these governments in no uncertain terms that we intend to shut down half of their missions immediately, and will shut down others in accordance with their behavior. We, furthermore, need to tell them that we will cease issuing visas, and even shut the border to normal trade and tourism if these sorts of officially tolerated and sponsored events occur.

This is no joke. Serious as a heart attack.

Back from the Republic's Imperial Capital

Yes. I just got back from a few days in The Most Exalted Imperial Capital of Washington DC. Visiting my kids who live there and taking in the sights and the restaurants. The weather cooperated--mostly--and we generally had very nice days and nights, and the people were generally very nice as long as one did not raise politics. As I have said before, DC looks very good--a far cry from how it looked some forty years ago when I first lived there. Government is good business; wish I had bought stock in it.

The dogs stayed with my daughter and had to ride an elevator for the first time in their doggie lives. It was quite funny watching their reactions to the "room that moves." I believe it was the late great Robert Heinlein who said, "One man's magic is another man's engineering." I saw the look of awe in my dogs' eyes as the doors slid close on one scenario and then opened on another. Magic! The science is settled: technology is magic.

There was some weirdness afoot. I was walking down Massachusetts Avenue, and saw people coming out of a Methodist Church after Easter services. It was a racially mixed crowd and the people all seemed friendly with each other. I was somewhat taken aback by a large sign on the church building that read,

REPENT

We Repent for Our Origins in White Supremacy.

OK, I thought this actually is not a fun group of people. I walked more quickly before I could be asked by somebody to repent for something some long distant ancestor might or might not have done. Moses, after all, was kinda rough on the Egyptians . . .

Oh, well. It was all made good by the one thought running through my head, "Hillary Clinton is still not President." Can't be better than that.



Thursday, March 29, 2018

Trump's Foreign Policy: The Dogs Bark, but the Caravan . . .

Perhaps it's that great minds think alike, or, perhaps, it's just coincidence. I have started a couple of drafts of a piece on President Trump's foreign policy gains, only to find that a few others have done the same--and probably better. I have vowed not to read anymore of them until I write my own little piece. You can find the competition in National Review, Powerline, and elsewhere.

We have heard a great deal from the media and the bureaucracy about the "hollowing out of the State Department." To give an idea of my thoughts on that, I direct my six readers to the blurb next to "my" photo at the side of this blog:
W. Lewis Amselem, long time US Foreign Service Officer; now retired; served all over the world and under all sorts of conditions. Convinced the State Department needs to be drastically slashed and reformed so that it will no longer pose a threat to the national interests of the United States.
Maybe President Trump read that? Judging from that long-ago written blurb, you could correctly conclude that I do not find it at all alarming to have the State Department asked to do with less. That, friends, is a good thing. We, of course, see moaning about those "deep cuts" to the State Department budget that will "gut" our diplomacy. Rubbish. Even with "deep cuts" the budget for State/AID remains in the $40 billion ballpark, which is a pretty big ballpark. The U.S. Foreign Service consists of over 8,000 diplomats, another over 7,500 "specialists," e.g., support personnel, plus AID officers, and a smattering of people from other agencies, such as the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce. In addition, 11-12,000 Civil Service employees work for State, most but not all in Washington, DC. So State has some 28,000 or more full-time employees, plus contractors, interns, and so on. That's a well-staffed Army division. That's a lot of people. That's too many people.

I long have held that you could cut this workforce by about one-third in a flash, and nobody would notice--well, except for those getting cut, and their landlords and real estate agents. With a little planning you could cut the whole thing in half, and have a much more nimble and productive organization. I, therefore, was not aghast, or in shock with horror, because a few positions got left vacant under the Trump Administration, or when the budget proposals were not as grand as in the past. No great foreign policy calamity will befall the Republic because a few "professionals" get their noses out of joint, or some useless programs get cut back. Cut! And cut some more! I've got lots of ideas of where to cut.

In a post written long, long ago (March 12, 2012), I noted that under the late and unlamented Obama/Clinton foreign affairs team, "there is no foreign policy coming from the White House, except a default position of apology, appeasement, and accommodation." It was all just show, what now would be called "virtue signaling." Not all of that, of course, was the fault of Obama or Clinton or her even more despicable successor, John "Christmas in Cambodia" Kerry.  There is a culture at State which I described as revolving,
around public displays of affection for the Secretary; more than that, it is based upon open adoration of the Secretary, who quickly becomes an almost mythical figure possessed of unbounded wisdom and insight. What we have, in other words, is a diluted version of North Korea. You go to staff meetings, and they ring with statements, such as "the Secretary has said," "the Secretary wants," and "the Secretary was right on point this morning." You have not seen grown people--mostly men--try to outdo themselves praising the Dear Leader until you have gone to a morning meeting at State chaired by somebody who just attended a prior staff meeting chaired by the Secretary. As the kids say, "OMG!" People you thought reasonable, lose all reason, all critical faculties as they rush to appear the Most Loyal Servant of the Secretary. These are supposed to be Americans, defenders of the Great Republic, but you expect them to break into Anna's song, absent the irony, 
"Yes, Your Majesty;No, Your Majesty.Tell us how low to go, Your Majesty;Make some more decrees, Your Majesty,Don't let us up off our knees, Your Majesty.Give us a kick, if you please, Your MajestyGive us a kick, if you would, Your Majesty Oh, That was good, Your Majesty!"
I haven't walked through the doorway at 2201 C St., NW, in quite some time, but I doubt things have gotten better. In fact, from all I hear sure they've gotten worse; I detect a sense of abandonment by the bureaucracy since the Trump Administration doesn't seem to worry too much about what the bureaucrats at Foggy Bottom have to say about foreign policy.

Folks, that's a good thing--unless you think foreign policy and diplomacy consist of doing what we always have done and getting the same results over and over. I remember, for example, the consternation at State when Reagan & Co. told us that we would have as our objective to roll-back the USSR. Horrors! "You can't do that! What about the UN? What about the Europeans? The World Order of the past 40 years? That's not how it's done!" I remember horrifying some arms control officials when I expressed that the best way to get Soviet disarmament was to increase ours and drive home to Moscow the futility of competing with the world's biggest economy. Lots of anger, especially from folks who made a very nice living conducting these seemingly endless disarmament negotiations in nice places such as Geneva and Helsinki with generous per diems. Innovation and questioning are not hallmarks of the State Department.

This President, perhaps more so than any other we've had, approaches foreign affairs with the cool detachment of an experienced businessman and negotiator concerned about the end result, not just the inputs. He asks, "Why? Why are we doing that when the USA doesn't benefit?" He is the exact opposite of the State Department belief in--irritating word--"deliverables." Prior to a top-level meeting with a senior foreigner, Department staff try to find a "deliverable," some sort of goody for our leadership to hand the alien potentate as a sign of our willingness to give more in the future. This President has the opposite approach: "I know what they're getting from us, what do we get from them? What's their 'deliverable' to us?" Shocking. He has no problem questioning the way things are--something not, as noted above, a strong point at State, or for that matter, of the usual international elites who get easily shocked by things such as Brexit, labelling Mad Kim as "Rocketman," threatening tariffs, backing out of the destructive Paris Climate Accord, etc.

Trump's approach, with or without the involvement of State, seems to be working. NATO is in better shape than it has been in  years. There is a glimmer of hope of meaningful progress on the Korean peninsula. The Middle East is doing much better now that ISIS has been virtually annihilated. We are moving our Embassy to Jerusalem with barely a peep out of the Arab world. The Saudis and Israelis (as predicted by this humble blog some years ago) are getting together in their opposition to Iran. Iranian boats have stopped harassing our fleet (wonder why?) The Chinese seem to be backing down from their threat of a trade war. Russian influence is on the wane. We have good relations with many African nations in the fight against the jihadis. These and others out there are good signs. A lot of this can be reversed, of course, but, for now, the Trump Caravan moves on even as the assorted prog dogs grow hoarse from barking.

Not bad.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

More Stupid Ideas of March (UPDATE)

Along with other cities, Washington DC today played host to a large (How large? Who knows?) "March for Our Lives" allegedly put together by and for the students of a Parkland City high school in the wake of the mass shooting there last month. I have expressed on numerous occasions my distrust and dislike of these sort of marches (here and here, for example.) It is never completely clear what the real agenda is and who are the masterminds. (One guess what the real agenda is in this case.)

This demonstration saw the classic stupid prog props, the overwrought rhetoric and performances, including vomiting on stage by a young speaker and, of course, lots of children. Yes, children. Children placed prominently. Children as props. I have a particular disgust for people who bring small children to marches and demonstrations, and hand them pre-printed signs with cutesy sayings.

Children do not belong in such events. I have seen these affairs, in Spain, for example, go south real fast: terrified children being scooped up to get them out of the way of charging police horses, other running marchers, counter protestors, rubber bullets, tear gas, etc. The progs love to bring kids to potentially dangerous events, much like the Palestinians do.

If you're an adult, come as an adult, and brave the currents and tides of fortune as an adult--don't put children at risk. One has to wonder if deep down, some of these folks want to see a child get hurt. Anything for that CNN coverage?

Speaking of less-than-bright, a number of uber rich entertainment celebrities, protected by men with guns, made their presence known at the various anti-gun rights marches: e.g., Oprah, Clooney (who fled his mansion in "gun-less" Britain in fear for his children) and, most galling, Sir Paul McCartney who marched in New York.

We have enough homegrown idiots without need to import them. We are self-sufficient in stupidity. Why doesn't Sir Paul go home to march against knife violence and jihadi terror? Somebody said to me, well, his friend John Lennon was shot and killed in New York. Yes, well, my Foreign Service colleague Marie Burke was stabbed to death in her flat in London. Let's also not forget that Sir Paul's other buddy, George Harrison, was stabbed in his own palatial home near London. I guess I will head for London for the long-delayed anti-knife march . . . hope I don't get acid thrown in my face or run down by a jihadi in a rental van. Sir Paul, I am sure, will join me, and let me borrow his bodyguards.

Marches and marchers . . .

UPDATE! See the interview with my bearded Diploson 3 and his friends at the DC march. Don't tell me he doesn't look like Henry VIII or some Hell's Angel . . . Wonder when YouTube will take it down.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Snow," Bombs and News from Norway

Sitting in my house surrounded by what I would normally call "snow." That can't be, however, since the Prophet Al Gore (Praises to his Name) has told us that "snow" is a thing of the past. I don't want to be accused of being a "Climate Denier," or of denying "Settled Science," so I will just assume that the white stuff out there is, uh, "tree dandruff" produced by man-made pollution and climate change. Yeah, that's it, tree dandruff. Kinda cold, though, well, I mean, cold, you know, for a warming planet and all, but I must be wrong about that.

I see the Austin bomber has apparently blown himself up. The press, of course, can't be happy with reporting some good news so they have to try to meld the episode into their typical progressive narrative. I see the always "reliable" Daily Mail, among other commentators, quick to label this loser as a "devout white Christian."

Notice how quick the MSM is to identify his race. Notice, also, that there is no evidence that he was a "devout" Christian. The press go back to some blog entry he supposedly wrote in 2012 in which he expressed opposition to gay marriage and abortion. Hmmm? My Orthodox Jewish cousins are opposed to gay marriage and abortion. Muslims are, too. I guess that means they're all really devout Christians. I did not know that.

Balancing the good news of the death of the Austin creep comes some bad news from Norway.

Norwegian Justice Minister Sylvi Listhaug was forced to resign her position, apparently for being too pro-Norway and for worrying too much about the safety of Norwegians. I am not an expert on Norwegian politics and don't play one on the internet, so I will leave the in-depth analysis to those who know much more. According to the Washington Post and other American media she got herself into trouble for posting something on Facebook critical of the opposition party's stance on dealing with Islamic terrorists.

I don't know if that's true. I suspect that she was just too patriotic and too much Norway First for the usual globalist elitists, who have to keep reminding us of the July 2011 rampage by Anders Breivik every time anybody mentions Islamic terror.

Bottom line: I hope Listhaug remains a force on the Norwegian political scene, and can help Norway avoid the horror that has befallen much of the rest of Europe.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Beware the Ideas of March

OK.

We see "students" staging a protest against gun violence by "walking"--some got pushed-- out of their classes and participating in a variety of staged events, e.g., mass "die-ins," violent protests, and, of course, lots of marching about and waving signs. As usual, the proggy left is behind all this nonsense.

I wrote before about my profound disgust with this sort of "march" in the wake of Islamic terror,
[The Paris "peace" march] was a very typical, in fact, an extremely typical leftist/progressive/narcissist manifestation akin to so many others we have seen over the years. It was replete with the usual trademarks of progressivism: prancing and preening; empty slogans and rhetoric; and equally empty gestures and cartoonish props, e.g., giant pencils, rakishly worn bandanas, silly make-up, etc. It was a manifestation on steroids by people who would put lame bumper stickers <...> on a PRIUS.
That, I think, pretty much applies to this march, as well, with the added feature that these "brave" marchers were encouraged even forced to hit the streets by tax-payer paid prog politicians and bureaucrats who facilitated the protest by letting the kiddies out of their tax-payer funded schools, provided them tax-payer funded transportation, and ensured them a respectful hearing from the echo-chamber prog media.

We were all supposed to be in awe of the wisdom flowing the mouths of babes, and run off screaming in support of those who march to take away our Constitutionally guaranteed rights and limit our freedoms.

Emotion substituting for thinking.

The "Ideas" of March.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Quick Thought on the Pennsylvania Special Election

I have admitted many times that I am a blundering ox when it comes to US domestic politics. So, I will try not to be TOO STOOPID in a quick comment on the Pennsylvania special election which took place yesterday.

As of this writing, the election result is too close to call but it SEEMS (I use that word a lot) that the Democratic Party candidate, Conor Lamb, will beat his GOP opponent, Rick Saccade, by about 700 or so votes out of some 227, 000 votes cast. Not many elections get much closer than that!

The media is going to be full of analysis of how this is a major blow to Trump and a sure sign of a coming Blue Wave in November's mid-terms.  I don't know (I use that phrase a lot, too). One robin does not a spring make . . . and all that jazz. Look, undoubtedly this is not a good thing for the GOP and it shows that Trump's popularity (he won that district overwhelmingly in 2016) does not necessarily translate down-ticket, as the wise ones say. The same was true about Obama. It seems (that word--TW) that BIG political personalities such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump do not always transfer their appeal to others. Not surprising. I mean, well, my wife is more liked than I am, and I can't seem (TW) to transfer that to myself. Life is like that, it seems (TW).

Perhaps the only thing we can draw as a conclusion from the election on Tuesday is that in many districts it helps to have a good candidate who can run a good campaign. From all I have read, I conclude that Lamb was the first and did the second. He seems (TW) to be a moderate Democrat--pro-life, pro-gun, pro-tax cuts and tariffs--who didn't make many if any missteps. It seems (TW) that many voters, especially those not absorbed by BIG politics and the grand scheme of the political balance, can be won over by a good candidate with a good campaign.

A note of warning to both parties.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Movie of the Year: Death Wish

Took the Diplowife, Diploson 1, Diploson 2, and Diploson 2 Girlfriend to the movies tonight.

We saw the Eli Roth/Bruce Willis movie, "Death Wish."

It's the movie of the year.

Hands down.

No other film comes close.

OK, it's a remake. Sort of. It has the same basic storyline that the 1974 Michael Winner/Charles Bronson "Death Wish" had--well, sort of.

In both films, the wife and the daughter of the protagonist, Paul Kersey, are brutally attacked at home by some thugs. The wife dies; the daughter is left in a coma. Mild-mannered Paul--in the original a New York architect, in the new one a Chicago ER trauma surgeon--goes to the police, and does everything a good citizen should. The cops, of course, are nigh on useless, swamped by unsolved crimes, understaffed, and just plain numb to the suffering.

In the original, Paul has an epiphany after visiting a friend and business associate in gun-loving Arizona, who tells him the cops won't protect him, and gives him a revolver. In this version, Paul has his epiphany after taking his wife's body home to her family in gun-loving Texas, and hearing from his gun-toting father-in-law (played by excellent Canadian actor Len Cariou) how the police won't protect him and a MAN, yes, a MAN, has to protect what's his. In both films, Paul subsequently goes on a rampage against the thugs on the street, with the added twist in the new version of his seeking the actual thugs who attacked his family.

I won't give the rest away, but you're guaranteed to have a rollicking time in the theater--and watch out for that bowling ball!

How can you resist a movie which portrays the gun store clerk as an attractive, young, smart, funny, and sympathetic woman? How can you resist a movie which has a college student reading from Milton Friedman? How can you resist a movie with conservative talk jock Mancow Mueller playing conservative talk jock Mancow Mueller? How can you resist a movie that constantly cites the murder stats in Chicago? How can you resist Bruce Willis agonizing over how he failed as a MAN, yes, a MAN, in his duty to protect his family? How can you resist a movie in which the main detective (played by the always great Dean Norris of "Breaking Bad" fame) spits out an organic, gluten-free, protein bar in disgust? How can you resist a movie that gives out good advice on proper handling of a firearm, and approvingly cites and demonstrates the wisdom of the phrase "when seconds count, the police are minutes away"? You can't. Resistance is futile.

OK, it's got a few technical flaws.

First, as Diploson 2 pointed out to me, nowadays just about no college student would be assigned to read Milton Friedman--not PC. Second, the availability of fully automatic weapons is just way off--you'll see what I mean at the end. Third, too many of the Chicago street thugs are white.

Put those quibbles aside, however, forget I even mentioned them; watch a movie that the liberal/progressive critics are hating, blasting, and ridiculing as a paean to a dying white patriarchy but which audiences are loving. Go to Rotten Tomatoes, if you don't believe me, and see the striking disparity between the views of "professional" critics and those of real people.

Offend the critics. Watch it.

Movie of the year.

Friday, March 9, 2018

California, North Korea, South Africa, Seychelles: Things are Happening

So much is happening that it is difficult to see it all, much less boil it down to comprehensible lumps; and then, hardest of all, discuss the lumps with some intelligence. I am going to give it a try--well, not discuss it all, but some of it, and see if I can reduce a few of these "things" to lumps I can see and understand. No guarantees. The intelligence part nails me every time.

My old home state of California is in the news, again, and not for good things. My once beloved California, in days now gone the envy of the globe--the generator of so much of what now comprises the modern world such as amazing aerospace technologies, television, music, movies, computers, cars, freeways, video games, "smart" phones, surfing, birth control pills, Uber, Lyft, Google, Twitter, shelled walnuts, and so much more, is now a place caught in a death spiral.

Uber, yes, that's a word we will use a lot in describing California.

The politics and bureaucracy of the ol' Bear Republic, along with those of its counties, cities, and once-formidable and world-beating education system have fallen into a deep, deep progressive hole from which there seems no escape--the digging continues at a furious pace. Just about any sensible person who can do so (there's the rub) has left or is making plans to leave the state. Businesses are closing up, unable to survive the increasingly oppressive rule of new regulations, taxes, and the most extreme sort of political correctness. It has become a state of the uber rich and the uber poor, many imported from abroad, and its key politicians proudly proclaim that California is the future for America!

It is a state in which national laws, including the Constitution, no longer seem to apply. Illegal aliens by the millions are welcomed, given bounty from the declining treasure chests of the state, cities and counties, protected from law enforcement for the crimes they commit, and allowed, nay, encouraged to vote. The cities of San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles (to name just three) are now third-world repositories of disease, with fecal matter adrift in the air and water, massive tent cities, and uber violent street gangs. The authorities respond to the chaos in the streets by making it increasingly difficult for the law-abiding to defend themselves and their families. The mayor of Oakland, once a great city, and now . . . well, go there and see for yourself . . . warns violent, criminal aliens that ICE raids are forthcoming, making it possible for them to escape the long-arm of the Feds.

The progressives are up in arms, alarmed, driven by a righteous woke anger, because the Trump administration has had the temerity to suggest that California must comply with the law and Constitution, or pay the consequences. For the Jefferson Davis clones of California, this is a war on immigration! Persons of color are being targeted! California authorities appear looking for a Ft. Sumter to attack and make known their intention to secede from the Union! We'll see how this turns out, but I see no happy ending.

North Korea's "Little Rocket Man"--Surprise!--has realized that he has come up against somebody, Donald Trump, quite different from what he and his reprehensible family have faced in the past. President Trump and Secretary Mattis made clear that Kim Jong-Un was heading for the most terrifying 20 minutes of his existence. He is today making noises that well, maybe, he and Trump should talk and work something out, because, he might be thinking, that, maybe, having a little nuclear force is not worth the cost of getting his country, regime, and himself (above all) vaporized and turned into radioactive dust. It seems (remember that word) Trump has gotten the measure of Kim. We'll see how this turns out, but there is, just maybe, a possibility for a happy ending. I am sure the progressives will be heaping praise on Trump . . . right.

South Africa. Complicated place with a complicated history which few outside of the Boers and the Zulus seem to understand or appreciate. When I was at the UN in the 1980's I had to deal with the South African "Issue." Israel and South Africa, of course, were the greatest evils facing mankind, and the UN spared no effort to crush them both. I would, on occasion meet, quite discreetly, the harried and tired-looking South African diplomats assigned to New York and Geneva. I remember their Mission in NY had no identifying flag or symbol; you knew you were entering South African property only because the door handle read "Trek." A giveaway, that. The British, Israelis, and we were about the only ones who argued for a more moderate treatment of South Africa. In the end, of course, our policy likely would have produced the same thing that eventually happened, to wit, the death of Africa's richest and most productive country.

In dealing with South Africa back then, we viewed it as some sort of replay of our own civil rights struggle and fight against Jim Crow. That, of course, was nonsense, but few of us had the knowledge or courage to say so. The Boers, especially, had about as much claim to South Africa as did the Zulus. Both were conquering tribes. Traditional enemies of the British, the Boers and the Zulus, in fact, had reached a sort of accommodation and seemed tacitly united against the massive influx of outsiders that finally did alter irrevocably the demographics of South Africa. Immigration did the place in. Yes, evil South Africa under the evil Boers was a net recipient of immigrants and refugees, almost all black and Asian from other parts of Africa. For a time, of course, big business such as in the diamond, gold, and agricultural sectors welcomed these migrants as a source of cheap labor. Well, as we can see at home and in Europe, cheap labor can get very expensive very quickly especially once it gets politicized by "progressive" forces. So, evil apartheid was destroyed; Mandela and his ANC took power, and--Surprise!--South Africa has become a hellish place for everybody, black, white, Zulu, Boer, Anglo, Asian, etc.

We now see the South African parliament declaring that white-owned property (about ¾'s of the most productive agricultural land) can and should be seized without compensation, in the style of Zimbabwe. We have prominent South African politicians calling for the murder of whites. The world reaction seems, to say the least, muted. I see no calls for a meeting of the UNSC, or emergency human rights meetings in NY or Geneva. Silence in the face of genocide. White Lives Don't Matter!

The freak show known as the Mueller investigation into Trump-Russian collusion has moved on to the Seychelles. This small African island republic was APPARENTLY the setting for a meeting in January 2017 between Trump reps and the Russians brokered by the real-life all-purpose Orwellian Emmanuel Goldstein known as Eric Prince. Mr. Prince, once the head of Blackwater, features prominently in the progressive pantheon of evil ones; the fact that he's also the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos makes him a double-plus-good bogeyman. It seems, per this silly story, that Prince sought to help Trump set up a back channel to the Russians shortly before the President-elect took office. The story is rubbish. Why would the President of the United States need a double-plus secret back channel to Moscow when we have infinite number of channels to Russia? Why would Trump, whom, we should remember, according to the DNC had been bought and paid for by Putin, need Prince to broker such a deal? Presumably the Russians had all the "channel" they needed . . . Nonsense. Total rubbish.

Well, of course, there's more, but what would I write about in the days to come if I spelled it all out now?