Castro, and the Reaction

Mom really did say that if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, especially a dead someone, then say nothing. It’s a good rule, helping avoid social friction and silly irritations.

But I’m not sure that it really holds for public discourse on the death of public enemies. I can’t really imagine Winston Churchill, or Harry Truman, mouthing empty platitudes about Adolph Hitler, can you? That’s why I think the last few days have been quite instructive. Tell me who a man idolizes, and I’ll tell you what he wants to be.

President Obama

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.

Former President Jimmy Carter

Rosalynn and I share our sympathies with the Castro family and the Cuban people on the death of Fidel Castro. We remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country. We wish the Cuban citizens peace and prosperity in the years ahead.

Jesse Jackson

In many ways, after 1959, the oppressed the world over joined Castro’s cause of fighting for freedom & liberation-he changed the world. RIP

Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau

It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.

Jeremy Corbyn (British Labour Party leader)

“He managed to bring good quality health services to all the people of Cuba, good quality education to all the people of Cuba and, of course, he had a foreign policy which was global, but particularly important in Southern Africa in supporting Angola against the apartheid regime.”

You can make what you wish of all that, I know I will. But around here we read (and have even lived some) history. And we know some things, such as Fidel Castro actually wanted a nuclear war, even though Cuba would have been wiped out in the first 15 minutes, since at that moment, better than half of the US military was targeted on it.

Here, via Powerline, is an excerpt from a letter Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev sent to Castro after the Cuban missile crisis:

 

In your cable of October 27 you proposed that we be the first to carry out a nuclear strike against the enemy’s territory. Naturally you understand where that would lead us. It would not be a simple strike, but the start of a thermonuclear world war.

Dear Comrade Fidel Castro, I find your proposal to be wrong, even though I understand your reasons. We have lived through a very grave moment, a global thermonuclear war could have broken out. Of course the United States would have suffered enormous losses, but the Soviet Union and the whole socialist bloc would have also suffered greatly.

It is even difficult to say how things would have ended for the Cuban people. First of all, Cuba would have burned in the fires of war. Without a doubt the Cuban people would have fought courageously but, also without a doubt, the Cuban people would have perished heroically.

We struggle against imperialism, not in order to die, but to draw on all of our potential, to lose as little as possible, and later to win more, so as to be a victor and make communism triumph.

But there really are rational people out there.

Former PM @TonyAbbottMHR says Fidel Castro was a brutal dictator and ‘his legacy is a bad one’. #agenda#auspolhttps://t.co/6efamtvlRp

— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust)

US Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX)

Fidel Castro’s death cannot bring back his thousands of victims, nor can it bring comfort to their families. Today we remember them and honor the brave souls who fought the lonely fight against the brutal Communist dictatorship he imposed on Cuba.

US Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL)

Fidel Castro seized power promising to bring freedom and prosperity to Cuba, but his communist regime turned it into an impoverished island prison. Over six decades, millions of Cubans were forced to flee their own country, and those accused of opposing the regime were routinely jailed and even killed.

Sadly, Fidel Castro’s death does not mean freedom for the Cuban people or justice for the democratic activists, religious leaders, and political opponents he and his brother have jailed and persecuted. The dictator has died, but the dictatorship has not. And one thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people.

And above all, President Elect Donald Trump.

Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.

Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.

While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.

Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.

I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.

That is a proper American statement on the death of a tyrant, who spent 60 years butchering his citizens err prisoners. I think Reagan would approve. Simple decency prevents us saying good things about almost purely evil people.

Assuming he likely did not make a good confession, may the Lord grant him his justice, and may his soul burn in Hell forever.

The First 100 Days

ap_16315299287682_tnmnteIf you know American history, you know that the first hundred days of a new president – especially one much different than his predecessor – have a legendary quality. That’s been true since 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt forced through all sorts of ’emergency’ measures (most of them unconstitutional) to supposedly relieve the depression. That they didn’t work is in some measure irrelevant.

But Donald Trump has picked up the idea in his “Contract with the Voters of America”. Some highlights.

FIRST, propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.

SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees
to reduce the federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health).

THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.

FOURTH, a five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.

FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

And then seven actions

FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205.

SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

THIRD, I will direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.

FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.

FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.

SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.

SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.

And Five more to do with security and “The Rule of Law”

FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.

SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.

THIRD, cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities.

FOURTH, begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.

FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered “extreme vetting.”

And there is also this

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Looks pretty conservative to me, better, in fact, than could be expected. In fact, there are things here I don’t agree with, but I can live with it, it almost has to be better than what is happening now.

Do note that he’ll be lucky to get more than a fraction of the things listed here, but instantly upon inauguration is the best shot he’ll ever have at it.

via Here Is Trump’s Contract With The American Voter — The First 100 Days | Truth Revolt

Kellyanne Conway becomes First Woman to Win Presidency!

downloadEventually, I’ll have something more to say about the election but, I simply didn’t believe Trump had much chance, and so I didn’t have my thoughts ordered. In fact, 2012 rather demoralized me, more than I knew, and nothing since has lifted that gloom. Your mileage may differ, but I bet I’m not alone. Meantime, an old friend of mine has written on it, and I pretty much agree, I think, with her. Enjoy!

Hooray, hallelujah, thank the Good Lord, the Wicked Witch has melted. The improbable Donald Trump slayed her, benefiting from the widespread dislike for Hillary Clinton across party lines. I went to my bed for an evening of crossword puzzles and reading (oblivion) as soon as I got a look at the earliest returns showing her way ahead in key states. I was resigned, and sad, and prepared to shed a tear, no more, when I turned on the computer in the morning to find “Madame President” splashed across the news. And when I did turn to the computer, I first went to email and there I found a message from someone I worked with in Bosnia, hadn’t heard from him for a long, long time — he was gloating at the upset– against all odds! he crowed. My heart leapt, I turned to Fox News to find that the glorious American people have thrown the bums out! And Ms. Conway became the first woman ever to guide a presidential campaign to victory. Wow. I did shed tears, but joyful ones, and I did praise God for the outcome. I had even prayed Tuesday evening with my birds that God would smile on Trump’s venture. My birds are as happy as I am, although less demonstrative.

Here is what we won: our future. Trump will name at least one if not more Supreme Court justices, thus securing the Court for the foreseeable future. And by the way, Ruth Bader Ginsburg publicly declared she would retire from the Court should Trump win. I’m waiting as are we all. That would be two wicked witches downed.

 

via Kellyanne Conway becomes First Woman to Win Presidency! | Ooobie on Everything

The Immortal Memory

The Battle of Trafalgar by J. M. W. Turner (oi...

Image via Wikipedia

The British Empire got its start as a Tudor Enterprise as Henry VIII established the Royal Navy and as men increasingly saw how England could challenge Spain on the sea. Britain was well placed for this as an island off the coast of Europe. And so St Vincent made the now famous remark: “I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea.” And so it has always proved. And part of that was one of the Earl of St. Vincent’s protegé. This is his story.

I referred several times to President Jefferson’s open letter regarding the return of Louisiana to France from Spain, where he commented that “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and people”, and later commented “that from that day forward France shall end at her low water mark”. This is the day that France (and Spain) would forever lose control of the sea to Great Britain.

Today is the anniversary of a battle to rank with Salamis, with Waterloo, and with Yorktown. For today the English-speaking peoples with their concepts of individual liberty and rights took control of the sea. We have never relinquished it.

That battle is Trafalgar. The battle was fought off of the southwest coast of Spain between the British Squadron with 27 Ships-of-the-Line and the combined French and Spanish fleets with 33.

The Franco-Spanish fleet was under orders to sail for Brest to help accomplish the invasion of England, which was, by far, Napoleons most steadfast enemy.

Remember these were sailing ships, completely dependent on the wind. and at Trafalgar, there was very little. The French and especially the Spanish were short-handed and had to fill their ship’s companies with soldiers. The British, on the other hand, had been blockading the coast for years and had been drilled mercilessly. Their commander, himself, had not been off the flagship for more than two years.

Alfred Thayer Mahan in his classic The Influence of Sea Power upon History puts it this way: “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.

And so today, in 1805, the battle was joined. The British had the weather gage and a very unusual plan. Because of the light wind, they would divide their battle line in two, with each squadron approaching the Franco-Spanish line at an acute angle. With a well-trained enemy, this would have been nearly suicidal but, under these conditions it allowed the British to engage the entire fleet and win the battle in a single day.

The British were under the command of a man who had had his introduction to naval war in the American Revolution, he fought in several minor battles off Toulon, was integral in the capture of Corsica, was captain of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. At the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm, he won a decisive victory over the French at The Battle of the Nile and against the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen.

At Trafalgar the British fleet went into battle with this signal flying from the flagship:

That flagship is, of course, the HMS Victory, which is now the oldest naval ship in regular commission in the world.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory , HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

The Admiral in command is Horatio, Lord Nelson.

Or to give him his full name:

Admiral Lord Nelson

The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronté in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim

as it is inscribed on his coffin in St. Paul’s cathedral, for he was killed by a French marine during the battle.

The first tribute to Nelson was fittingly offered at sea by sailors of Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin’s passing Russian squadron, which saluted on learning of the death.

King George III, upon receiving the news, is reported to have said, in tears, “We have lost more than we have won”.

And the Times reported:

We do not know whether we should mourn or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England; but it has been dearly purchased.

And so tonight in the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth navies, and at least in some places in the United States Navy and even in other navies and places will be drunk the one naval toast that is drunk in total silence:

The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him”

The traditional music to follow the toast is Rule Britannia.

In a remarkable coincidence, the other remaining warship of the period USS Constitution was christened on this day in 1797 at the Boston Navy Yard. While HMS Victory is the oldest ship in commission, USS Constitution (nicknamed “Old Ironsides”) is the oldest warship still afloat and able to sail on its own. Victory is in permanent drydock.

4 Reasons Globalism Won’t Retreat Anytime Soon

holocaust-e1459342376327Rachel Lu brings a whole load of common sense for us to ponder…

Globalism is in full-on retreat, or so I’ve been given to understand. Cosmopolitans, your name is mud. This is the year when conservatives start thumbing their noses at soft borders, interventionist foreign policy, and even free trade. We’re sick of liberals and their snooty multiculturalism. Up with nationalism, localism, boosterism, protectionism, and mom’s apple pie! It’s a big world, after all.

Why is this happening? If you’ve paid even a modicum of attention to recent discussions of Brexit, Trumpism, and related cultural currents, you’ve fully grasped by now that the common man is feeling alienated and marginalized, and doesn’t intend to take it anymore. That prompts a further question, however. To what extent can globalism really retreat?

People have been tilting against this particular windmill since the end of the Cold War. (Remember the ’90s and the protests against the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and other international organizations?) Conservatives have traditionally held (with our pinkies prominently elevated) that there are fundamental truths about our globalized world that are bound to resurface however we try to bury them. Even conservatives, though, have started flooding the anti-globalization bandwagon in this election year.

Peering through the murk, what we see in our current political memes is a noisy celebration of half-truths and half-baked ideas. Yes, there are some real insights to glean from the currents of this tumultuous year.

Read it all at: 4 Reasons Globalism Won’t Retreat Anytime Soon

I don’t have all that much to add to what she says since I pretty much agree. I do want to emphasize that no matter what, and no matter how much I (or you) want the 50s and 60s to return, they aren’t going to. We, like each generation, have our own challenges, which we have to solve to the best of our ability. The past can be a useful guide, but it still depends on us to find the right answers for our time. Some things are eternal, but most aren’t. Nick today at All along the Watchtower speaks of how we were created in the image of God. He’s right, we are, but part of that is that He left us to figure out most things for ourselves, using our God-given intelligence. So we’d best get on with it, and quit kicking cans down the road.

While you’re pondering all this, also think about this. The poorest person in America or the UK today, is amongst the 1% of people that have ever lived. We never had it so good. I wonder if that isn’t the problem, we have so much time to bitch because the living is so easy.

Freedom of the Seas

We are the world’s most prolific trading nation, we inherited this title someplace in the late 19th century from Britain, the traditional “Nation of Shopkeepers” Why is this, how did it occur and what does it mean?

Note that my title does not refer to the UN Law of the Sea or anything other than the traditional meaning.

We all know that the Britain we rebelled against was a mercantilist nation, whose ruling class believed that colonies existed for the benefit of the motherland, hence duties on sugar and tea and most of the articles of domestic life. It also led to a ban on manufacturing in the colonies. That all well and good, for the motherland, anyway. The American colonists weren’t particularly happy about it, however, seeing as they believed (as it said in their charters) that they were Englishmen with all the rights and duties pertaining to that status.

A side note that we should make in these times is that those colonies were almost all corporations. Yes, they were, from Virginia and Massachusetts Bay on down to Georgia. Free associations of people banding together for a common purpose. And you thought America wasn’t grounded in business, what could be more American than that, the very founding of the 13 colonies was by business. The Empire in India came about similarly, most of the conquering was done by the British  East India Company, the government took over later.

Anyway, the mercantilist vision wasn’t working all that well. First, the Americans revolted and made it stick, then they screwed up the triangular trade with the ban on the import of slaves after 1800, and then they were taking a lot of the trade in British bottoms away, too.

It was time for a rethink. A goodly part of the British upper class (as with America) had read their Adam Smith and were beginning to think about capitalism instead of corporatism. Obviously, it wasn’t anywhere near this clear-cut. We can’t say that on 2 February 1809 Britain abandoned mercantilism, it was a gradual shifting of view and traces of mercantilism remain to this day, that’s part of what tariffs and VAT taxes are about.

But by the time the Napoleonic Wars had ended, Britain looked around and found that they made far better profits by trading with everyone from Andorra to Zimbabwe, and ruling only enough to keep their shipping (and Navy) supplied. They also found that with other maritime powers in the world (The United States, the Dutch, and maybe the French) while their profit was lower (per item) but there were many more items.

From this came a new doctrine: Freedom of the Seas. Essentially this doctrine was pretty much the American position leading up to the War of 1812. International waters are free for the passage of all upon their peaceful pursuits. It has always been modified in time of war. The blockades of the Confederacy in the Civil War, of Germany (and England via the U-Boats) in World Wars 1 & 2, and of Japan in World War 2. They are still being used as sanctions against such countries as Syria and Libya today.

By 1815 Great Britain had found that the free republics of South and Central America had become quite large trading partners as had the United States (which had no small maritime fleet either, up till the Civil War when the Confederate raiders made insurance too expensive, the US was usually rated second only to Great Britain itself).

You may recall that I have referred to the War on the Barbary Coast (where Marine Officers got their sword), this was all about freedom of the seas, the Barbary coast pirates (an early form of state sponsored terrorism) were in the habit of demanding tribute for passage through the Mediterranean and often got it. When the USS Philadelphia went aground off the Tripoli Harbor, was captured and the crew enslaved the United States got fed up. Here’s a short story from Wikipedia.

Burning of the USS Philadelphia

Burning of the USS Philadelphia, via Wikipedia

She cruised off Tripoli until October 31, 1803, when she ran aground on an uncharted reef off Tripoli Harbor. Under fire from shore batteries and Tripolitan gunboats all efforts to refloat her failed, and she surrendered; her officers and men were made slaves of the Pasha.

The Philadelphia was too great a prize to be allowed to remain in the hands of the Tripolitans, so a decision was made to recapture or destroy her. Under the guise of a ship in distress in need of a place to tie up after having lost all anchors in a storm, on 16 February 1804 a volunteer assaulting party of officers and men under LieutenantStephen Decatur, Jr. boarded her from the ketch Intrepidand burned her where she lay in Tripoli Harbor. Horatio Nelson, known as a man of action and bravery, is said to have called this “the most bold and daring act of the age.”

Eventually, the Pirates learned that American ships were formidable fighters and pretty much left them alone after a regime change or two.

Meantime after the defeat of Napoleon, Great Britain had become anti-slavery and acting (again in consort with the United States) had forbidden the slave trade to the new world. They also provided the muscle to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, because their trade with Latin America was too great to risk losing. They also opposed the annexation of Texas by the US for the same reason.

Bases for the fleet in anticipation of the Panama Canal was one of the unstated reasons for the Spanish-American War, where we flirted for the first (and thankfully) last time with an Empire. We gained Puerto Rico, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Philippines (temporarily) from that conflict.

During the last half of the 19th Century, while we weren’t paying much attention to it, we became the largest trading nation in history, first as an importer and then as our industrial revolution went on as an exporter. This was also the era when the American harvest became an important thing worldwide. We had begun to feed the world and do it better than it had ever been done before.

By World War 1 we had become indispensable, although nobody really knew it yet. But the U-boat campaign nearly starved Great Britain, and the Allies nearly bankrupted themselves buying from such companies as Colt and Winchester. (And you thought the 2d Amendment was about politics, it’s about freedom, all over the world.)

At the end of the war, in the Washington Naval Conference, Great Britain ceded to the United States naval parity, knowing that it would turn into superiority. Here begins Britain descent into the second rank of powers, and the American duty of freedom of the seas.

It took a while for Americans to realize it of course, until 7 December 1941 to be exact. Since then we have never looked back, the paramount fleet in the world has been supplemented with both the paramount Army and Air Force. Is there really anybody in the free or quasi-free world that would have it any other way. Do we, or the Australians, or the South Koreans, or even the Indians, really want control of the seas to reside, even partially, with the Chinese?

Freedom of the Seas mostly kept the peace for most of the 19th Century with the Royal Navy in charge, and for the last 65 years with the United States in charge, those two periods have witnessed the largest growth in living standards all across the world ever seen. And it has averted many wars, including the unthinkable: a thermonuclear war between the United States and Soviet Russia in October of 1962, when the maritime exclusion zone was instituted (selectively, to be sure) around Cuba. Control of and freedom of the seas has been America’s first line of defense as long as there has been America.

Here’s John F. Kennedy’s take:

“Events of October 1962 indicated, as they had all through history, that control of the sea means security. Control of the seas can mean peace. Control of the seas can mean victory. The United States must control the seas if it is to protect your security….”

President John F. Kennedy, 6 June 1963, on board USS Kitty Hawk.

We seem to be seeing a resurgence of the isolationism that we had before the Second World War, their shortsightedness led to the Second World War. As much as we need to change the paradigm in Washington D.C., and we really, really do. I don’t think we want to risk World War Three, either.

First published on 13 December 2011.

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