Friday, December 02, 2016

Global Warming Comes to the Land of the Rising Sun — For the Earliest Time in Half a Century

Tokyo Sees First November Snow in Over 50 Years

The Wall Street Journal reports (video) that
Snow falls in Japan’s capital in November for the first time in 54 years, gracing residents on Thursday morning.

What Is Communism? One group of rich people siccing the bedraggled masses on another group of rich people

At first glance, Castro might not appear to be a typical Marxist revolutionary
writes Benny Huang.
He was, after all, the son of a wealthy landowner. His fair skin betrayed his Spanish ancestry which afforded him special status in a nation with a definite racial hierarchy. He studied at the best Catholic prep schools on the island and earned his juris doctorate in 1950. By any measure, Castro had a pretty good life in Fulgencio Batista’s pre-revolutionary Cuba. His two closest lieutenants, brother Raul and the Argentinian transplant Ernesto “Che” Guevara, were also well off.

Yet Castro was not as much of an anomaly as one might think. As long as Marxism has existed it has presented itself as the movement of the dispossessed despite the fact that the dispossessed have rarely been at its helm. Instead they have relied on a few class traitors such as the Castro brothers to lead them. There are exceptions of course—Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro isn’t lying when he speaks of his humble roots. He’s a former bus driver. If you want to know what a country run by a bus driver looks like, witness the mismanagement and scarcity of today’s Venezuela.

Still, it seems that Marxism has rarely ever been the bottom-up movement it was supposed to be. A closer look at Marxism throughout the centuries shows that it has often been the pastime of rich people who care, or think they care, about the poor. It frequently takes the form of a therapeutic exercise in wringing the guilt out of unearned wealth. Naturally, some people won’t see the problem with this. If a few rich kids want to take up arms alongside the peasantry, what’s wrong with that?

Well for starters, communist revolutions are bloody affairs. Poor people, many of whom really were dealt a lousy hand in life, rise up against the wealthy and slaughter them wholesale before taking everything they have. It’s murder and theft, plain and simple. Some people don’t see anything wrong with murder and theft so long as it’s poor people doing it to rich people, but I do.

 … it isn’t poor people slaughtering rich people—which would be bad enough—it’s one group of rich people siccing the bedraggled masses on another group of rich people. In most cases, and certainly in the case of the Castro brothers, the rich Marxist cadre end up even richer after the gentry’s property has been seized and divided. Then they lie about it lest anyone come to suspect that their motives were impure. Fidel Castro, for example, often claimed during his nearly 50-year dictatorship that he survived on about $43 a month and that he lived in a fisherman’s hut when in fact he was living high on the hog. Castro did nothing admirable; all he did was steal the wealth of his country by promising to give the peasantry a cut when all was said and done. The lion’s share went to him and his sidekicks, Raul and Che.

 … Despite Karl Marx’s mockery of the uncooperative Lumpenproletariat he was in fact the furthest thing from a working man. Marx was a wealthy lad whose parents paid for him to spend years at the university and to travel extensively. His mother, Henriette Marx, once wrote in a letter to a friend that “If only little Karl had made some capital instead of just writing about it.” When Marx could no longer mooch off his rich parents he moved on to mooching off his even richer friend Friedrich Engels, the son of a successful textile manufacturer. It’s said that Marx never set foot on a factory floor yet he really believed that he had valuable insight into the lives of working people. Any workers who didn’t agree with his assessment were dismissed as mere Lumpen (rags).

 Ironically, it was Karl Marx’s economic background that allowed his ideas to flourish in mid-19th Century Europe. If he had been one of the laborers he claimed to represent no one would have paid him any mind and none of his books would have been published. In all likelihood the term “Marxism” would not exist if Marx had not been a son of privilege wiling away his days in Paris and London, scribbling about the struggles of people he did not know and could not relate to.

Again, I don’t mean to imply that Marxists have never found any support among the proletariat they claim to support, but it does appear that nearly all Marxist leaders have been at least moderately wealthy by the standards of the time and place in which they lived. Vladimir Lenin, for example, was the son of an educated man who taught the children of the nobility at a prestigious academy. He became a committed communist while studying at Kazan University, a prospect that was simply inaccessible to average Russians.

John Reed, the founder of the forerunner to the Communist Party USA, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Reed was essentially a ne’er-do-well who somehow managed to get into Harvard despite poor academic performance. He later settled in New York’s Greenwich Village and hobnobbed with the celebrities of his time. Reed travelled widely in Europe. In 1917, he trekked to St. Petersburg to witness the events of the October Revolution and fell in love with the ideals of the new communist state. He quickly wrote “Ten Days that Shook the World,” his account of the Bolshevik rise to power.

It isn’t difficult to see why these people—the Castro Brothers, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Reed—might see wealth and the capitalist societies that produce it as wholly illegitimate. By sheer luck of the draw, they had been born rich while a great mass of other people had been born poor. Meritocracy was, in their estimation, a sham.

It’s this kind of guilt that seems to drive rich men to don jungle fatigues and line their enemies up for the firing squad. But don’t be fooled. These people are poseurs trying to garner some street cred by acting like they grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. To make matters worse they usually do it out of the basest motives—to make themselves even richer than they already are.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Wanted, Dead or Alive

Wanted, Dead or Alive
by Branco

Electoral College: A Few Choice Remarks

Abraham Lincoln:
I now wish to submit a few remarks on the general proposition of amending the constitution. As a general rule, I think, we would much better let it alone.
 … I was once of your opinion … that presidential electors should be dispensed with; but a more thorough knowledge of the causes that first introduced them, has made me doubt.
The New York Post's Mark Cunningham:
[Hillary] Clinton “won” an election we didn’t have. Neither side was focused on a national-popular-vote win, because both knew the rules.

And if the rules were different, the whole campaign would’ve differed, too.

 … The thing is, every one of these features is vital to securing our great democracy, which is actually, in the famous 1787 words of Benjamin Franklin, “a Republic — if you can keep it.”

And the whole anti-democratic package is what has allowed us to keep it these 200-plus years. Let’s go back to “republic”: Democracy is all about majority rule; the word actually means “rule of the people.” A republic is about the self-rule of a nation of free people.
Investor's Business Daily:
 … from the 1787 crafting of our Constitution, our presidential elections were never designed to be popularity contests. They were designed to give the individual states a voice in who would lead them. There would have been no United States of America without this provision, since from the beginning the small states were terrified of being dominated and bullied by the bigger states if they joined the union.

The genius of this system is that it gives everyone a voice and everyone a stake in the election's outcome.

 … With our current system, candidates have to take even small states seriously. They have to run as national candidates, not as "California" or "New York" or "Florida" candidates.
Reason's John Yoo:
Democrats attack the Constitution’s method for selecting the president as fundamentally undemocratic. … These liberal officials have a point. The Electoral College is not democratic, if by democratic they mean rule by simple majority.
 … The Electoral College further encourages candidates to campaign state by state, particularly in the large “battleground” states that Clinton ultimately lost, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. If Democrats had their way, candidates would ignore the states and campaign solely in the population centers that Clinton easily won, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
But the Electoral College’s exaggeration of the power of the states is not some bizarre mistake or a constitutional version of the appendix.
The Framers specifically designed the Electoral College to dilute democracy and favor the states.
Reason's David Harsanyi: "so that every part of the nation has some kind of say over the next executive while preventing large swaths of the nation from being bullied"
We have 51 separate elections. This is done so that every part of the nation has some kind of say over the next executive. The president, after all, is not a monarch. He does not make laws. Not even President Barack Obama was supposed to do that.
 … Diffused democracy weakens the ability of politicians to scaremonger and use emotional appeals to take power. It blunts the vagaries of the electorate.

 … Need it be repeated again, the Electoral College, and other mechanisms that balance democracy, create moderation and compromise—they stop one party from accumulating too much power. It is certainly possible that Obama's unilateral governance over the past eight years had a lot to do with the pushback of three consecutive losses in the Senate and Congress, and the election of Donald Trump.

To some extent, the Electoral College impels presidents and their political parties to consider all Americans in rhetoric and action. By allowing two senators for both Wyoming, with a population of less than 600,000, and California, with a population of more than 38 million, we create more national cohesion. We protect large swaths of the nation from being bullied.
The difference between democracy and repusblic, wrote Harry Jaffa, is that the first is majority rule while the second is majority rule coupled with the defense of minority rights. He also has this choice quote, the best ever that defines the government of a free people:
Those who live under the law have an equal right in the making of the law, and those who make the law have a corresponding duty to live under the law.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Who Raised the F***in' flag on Iwo Jima? (Oscar Brand, 1920-2016)

It's been two months since the death of Oscar Brand, but it's never too late to commemorate the least politically correct of songwriters (although it seems he self-identified as a leftist), my favorite of whose works is the Marine Song (also known simply as "The United States Marines").

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What is the "tragic truth" about "America’s millennials" in addition to other Western leftists?

A month ago, progressives were having a conniption fit over Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the election 
notes Bruce Thornton on Front Page Mag.
So of course, now that Trump has won, they are rioting, vandalizing, staging “cry-ins,” ditching class, group-hugging, tweeting threats, calling names, seeking counseling, and doing everything in their power to make sure that their party declines even further. If this behavior continues, and if––a big “if” –– Trump governs the way he promised, we may be witnessing the start of the progressive disintegration.

Start with the melting snowflake millennials, all those “cocksure women and hensure men,” as D.H. Lawrence once described feminists of both sexes. These layabouts have become used to throwing tantrums whenever they don’t like something or they feel “unsafe.” Most of them are spoiled brats, the pampered detritus of the middle class. But don’t forget the Alinskyite activists who manipulate these juveniles and bus them in on George Soros’ dime. These two-bit Leninists are adept at using “useful idiots” in order to further their aim of destroying America’s political and social order. They’re skilled at manipulating empty slogans like “income inequality,” “fair share,” “social justice,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” and all the other bumper-sticker bromides in order to consolidate and increase their power and influence.
If the delicate millennial Eloi were really interested in reforming their team instead of indulging phony moral exhibitionism, they would start with the Democrat party. No true leftist would have sat still for the nomination of a candidate so obviously part of the fat-cat ruling class as Hillary Clinton. (And no, he wouldn’t be happy with Bernie Sanders either, a bumbling blowhard who thinks imitating Sweden’s “social democracy” ––which means an overregulated capitalism leavened with over-generous social welfare benefits––is somehow an epochal revolutionary change.) It was electoral malfeasance to choose a geriatric insider and establishment plutocrat with no charisma and a long record of abusing her privilege and power. So, kiddies, go protest against the DNC and Barack Obama. They’re the reason the Republican party is the strongest it’s been since 1928.

Next, look at yourselves. As Piers Morgan––no conservative he––said recently,
The tragic truth is that America’s millennials are a bunch of phone-addicted, selfie-obsessed, hashtagging, snapchatting, kale-munching, twerking, lazy, whining, ill-informed, politically correct, cossetted narcissists who find absolutely everything mortally offensive and believe there are 165 ways to sexually identify.” 
It follows that your politics are merely symbolic, expressions of your inflated self-regard, privileged life-style, and arrogant pretensions to sophistication and intelligence. Unsurprisingly, as Morgan points out, according to the National Institutes of Health, 40% of you think you should be promoted every two years despite performance, 77% of you can’t name a senator from your home state, and 80% of you think you’ll be richer than your parents, even as you pile up student debt earning junk “studies” degrees utterly useless for employment in the real world.

In contrast to symbolic politics, real politics is grubby hard work: knocking on doors, registering voters, and not just preaching to the choir, but converting new voters. Follow Obama’s advice to Republicans three years ago: “You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election” (HT Cal Thomas). By the way, you won’t win many elections by demonizing nearly half of voters as ignorant, racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and cisgendered “irredeemable deplorables.”

More important, you need to vote. Only half of your 24-million-strong cohort voted in this election. You also need to understand that not everybody between the ages of 18-29 thinks exactly like you. Thirty-seven percent of millennials voted for Donald Trump. Instead of crying and vandalizing and screaming question-begging epithets, you should figure out how to talk to your fellow millennials and make persuasive, fact-based arguments based on coherent principles. But of course, if you could do that, you wouldn’t be progressives.

Then there are the Dems. They long ago embraced a balkanizing identity politics based mainly on demonizing those white voters who pulled the lever for Trump. They pander incessantly to race hucksters and rich women and sleek “Hispanics,” most of whom never cut grapes or even speak Spanish. They embrace counter-factual nonsense like “white privilege,” when they of all people should know that the color of privilege in America is the currency shade of green. They and their wholly owned subsidiaries, the mainstream media and the educational industry, enforce a preposterous political correctness that is intellectually lazy and morally bankrupt. They trade in group-identities often based on stereotypes and generalizations that old-school Jim Crow segregationists relied on. The blatant hypocrisy of a political correctness that never protects Christians, poor whites, or conservatives finally angered enough voters to set aside their distaste for Trump and put him in office.

Yet despite that rebuke, after the election the Democrat elite indulged the same old nonsense. [They] tried to play the “sexist” card to explain Hillary’s defeat, posited a preposterous “whitelash” of racists, tarred the careerist James Comey as a Republican mole, whined about the Electoral College while trying to suborn Electors, conjured up sinister Klansmen and alt-right storm-troopers, insulted 49 million Americans as haters, and prophesized an imminent fascist coup engineered by Trump’s goose-stepping Goebbels, Steve Bannon. Rather than come up with new ideas, they’re doubling-down on the stale paradigm that demography guarantees them a permanent coalition comprising various identity-groups united by the promise of more set-asides and wealth redistribution, and bicoastal plutocrats who compensate for their privilege by catering to the minority masses they make sure never enter their gated compounds except to make the beds and mow the lawn. They don’t consider that Trump’s victory could make that plan obsolete if he follows through on his promise to tighten up on immigration.

Finally, instead of rethinking their exploded economic myths and abandoning a divisive identity politics, many Dems want to keep steaming full speed ahead toward the next electoral iceberg. Look at the two candidates touted as replacements for the tarnished DNC interim chair Donna Brazile. Howard “Screaming” Dean, erstwhile presidential candidate and governor of a state with fewer people than Fresno County, is a tax-and-spend, “fair share,” regulation-happy, identity politics tribune and radical egalitarian redistributionist of the kind whose policies have given us sluggish growth, job-killing regulations, and astronomical debt. The other choice is Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, a zealous Muslim convert by way of the ultra-racist Nation of Islam. He is tainted with anti-Semitism, apologetics for Iran and terrorists like Hamas, virulent hatred of Israel, wacky 9-11 conspiracy theories, and the usual progressive blame-America-first foreign policy and magical-thinking economics. No surprise that he has been endorsed by the Jacobin Cherokee Elizabeth Warren, and ex-Senator Harry Reid, Obama’s legislative Luca Brasi.

The few sane Democrats counseling a change of course are unlikely to halt the self-destruction of so many failed progressive gods. Only Trump can prevent that “consummation devoutly to be wished” by failing to keep his campaign promises.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Electoral College remains an essential constitutional safeguard of American liberty

In addition to The Daily Signal's Jarrett Stepman and his "pre-election explanation of how the Electoral College works and why the Founding Fathers created it" (Why We Use Electoral College, Not Popular Vote), the American Thinker's Robert Curry takes on the attacks on the Electoral COllege as well as on the Constitution itself:
The progressives are determined to get rid of the Electoral College. Of course they are. Abolishing the Electoral College would complete their project of overthrowing America's unique federal system, begun about one hundred years ago.

The direct election of senators was the first and greatest victory of the progressives over the Framers of the Constitution. Made possible by the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, it mortally wounded the Founders' system. Abolishing the Electoral College will finish the job. And the progressives mean to do just that.

If we want to understand the efforts of the Framers during that hot summer in 1787, we must see them as trying to design self-government with a sober assessment of human nature in mind. When in the next century Lord Acton wrote that "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," he captured in a ringing aphorism the view of the Founders.

This understanding of the effect of political power on human nature explains the Framers' focus on defining and limiting federal power. They did so by distributing power among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government; preserving the political independence of the states; and creating a zone of liberty around the individual – even by further dividing the (supreme) legislative power itself, crafting two legislative bodies with separate powers and potentially competing interests.

Jefferson put it this way:
What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body.
And Lord Acton put it this way:
Liberty consists in the division of power. Absolutism, in concentration of power.
The Framers of the Constitution aimed to preserve your unalienable rights and mine by preventing the concentration of political power in the central government.

They began with "the Virginia Plan," the original proposal written by James Madison and presented by Edmund Randolph at the Constitutional Convention. This initial proposal opened the discussion and became the basis of the debate. David O. Stewart in his book The Summer of 1787 describes the Virginia Plan like this:
The people would elect the "first Branch" of the legislature[.] … That "first branch" (the future House of Representatives) would choose the "second branch" (the future Senate). Together, those two houses would select the president and appoint all the judges.
Self-government meant that in America, the people and their elected representatives were going to populate the government all the way to the top. But how? The important feature of Madison's plan was that it provided a way to accomplish that. To do so, Madison made a decisive break with England's parliamentary system. The problem with the English model was that the House of Lords was in the hands of the hereditary nobility, and the executive was in the hands of the hereditary monarch. Since America was not going to have a king or a House of Lords, there was no way to make the English model fit America's needs.

It is all too easy for us today to fail to recognize how much of Madison's proposed system of representation actually made it into the Constitution of 1787. This is because the original system of federal elections was significantly different from the one we have today. Only the way we now elect the members of the House is according to the original Constitution.

According to Madison's Virginia Plan, the voters would only directly elect the members of the first branch. The Constitution of 1787 preserved that basic feature. Members of the House of Representatives were the only federal officers directly elected by the voters. The indirect election of U.S. senators was also carried over from the Virginia Plan to the Constitution. U.S. senators were elected by each state legislature; the state legislatures did the selecting in place of Madison's first branch. This followed Madison's proposed format of indirect representation for the upper chamber, with the additional advantage of also providing each state with representation within the federal government.

This modification of Madison's original plan by the Framers was brilliant. Having the first branch of the federal legislature choose the second branch would have had the effect of binding the two branches close together. The selection of senators would also have been a collective process by the first branch. By using the state legislatures as many different channels through which the voters populated the Senate, the Constitution's original design dispersed the process of selecting senators over the whole extent of the republic, state by state. In addition, making the selection process for the two chambers separate in this way put their independence of each other on a firm electoral foundation, preventing the concentration of federal legislative power that would have resulted from the Virginia Plan.

Finally, there can be little doubt that the most important benefit of the constitutional system was that it worked to preserve the political independence of the individual states.

That was the electoral system for Congress America once had.

The direct election of U.S. senators, the system we have today, bypasses the state legislatures. Direct election began a process of putting an end to America's unique federal system. The independence of the states and their ability to counter-balance the power of the central government has withered away. The Senate had been a barrier to the passage of laws infringing on the powers reserved to state governments, but the Senate has abandoned that responsibility under the incentives of the new system of election. Because the states no longer have a powerful standing body representing their interests within the central government, the power of the central government has rapidly grown at the expense of the states. The states increasingly are relegated to functioning as administrative units of today's gargantuan central government. The Tenth Amendment has become a dead letter.

Instead of retaining many of their powers and responsibilities, and surrendering only a limited number of their powers to the central government, as the Framers intended, the states are more and more entangled in administering programs of the central government and in carrying out mandates of the central government. As the central government has metastasized and the states have lost their independence, liberty has diminished. Getting rid of the Electoral College would complete this project.

The Electoral College was another brilliant modification by the framers of Madison's plan. Instead of having the two branches of Congress together choose the president, once again, the voters initiated the process at the state and local levels by choosing the presidential electors. The model for this system was the slates of delegates who had represented the people of the individual states at the Constitutional Convention. Leading citizens well known to the voters were to be chosen by the voters for the special purpose of selecting the president. The electors would assemble in the state in which they were selected, deliberate, and then cast the votes allotted to that state.

Though it does not function as the Founders originally intended, the Electoral College remains an essential constitutional safeguard of American liberty. Each state is allotted as many electoral votes as it has senators and members of the House of Representatives. To become president of the United States of America, one must even today win the national election state by state. Eliminating the Electoral College and electing the president by the popular vote, as the progressives are determined to do, would transform the office. Its occupant would in effect become the president of the big cities of America, and the last vestiges of political autonomy guaranteed the individual states by the Constitution's electoral system would be swept away.

We must preserve and protect the Electoral College at any cost. Repealing the Seventeenth Amendment instead would be a great idea, though. It would be victory for the Founders' vision and a defeat for the progressives. It would make possible a return to America's unique, liberty-preserving federal system.

Throwing Tantrums: You Know How Cruel Children Can Be

Time Out and Appearances
at Chris Muir's Day By Day

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A fellow revolutionary who fought with Castro and Che to overthrow Batista's "vile" dictatorship compares life (plus prison conditions) under Batista and under Fidel

A fellow revolutionary of Castro's who fought with Fidel and Che Guevara to overthrow the "vile" dictatorship of Batista compares life (plus prison conditions) under Batista and under El Comandante
(From Romanticists Overlook Allende's Many Faults (as well as those of many other leftist strongmen)):
Again and again, the truth eventually reveals how the sequels "of arrests, death, torture, and exile" are often worse under would-be leftist authoritarian régimes than under rightist ones. Stalin, of course, killed far more people than Hitler did, and a recent best-seller (Checas de Madrid by César Vidal) teaches that the Spanish Republicans ran a series of sinister detention centers patterned on the Soviet Checas, which savagely tortured and often slaughtered its prisoners, without the slightest hint of legality; the dead and disappeared in the province of Madrid alone were, in only a couple of years, almost four times as numerous as the victims over 17 years of none other than… Chile's Pinochet (almost 12,000 in Madrid versus some 3,000 in Chile). In the Miami Herald, Carlos Alberto Montaner added that before going after alleged criminals abroad, such Europeans as Judge Baltasar Garzón would perhaps do better to start bringing their own killers (both left and right) to justice.

Is it too much to say that more Chiliens would have died and suffered (if only economically), had Allende's party remained in power? Maybe. But if the past — and other leftist systems — serve as any kind of example, that has often been the case, including in Latin America. In that perspective, the testimony of a Cuban dissident is instructive: the jails of Fidel Castro are far worse than those of Fulgencio Batista, he says. Who is the writer? A capitalist reactionary? An imperialist? A (neo-)fascist? A Batista ally? No. Gustavo Arcos Bergnes is Castro's fellow revolutionary, imprisoned with the future Líder Maximo in the mid-1950s. And he experienced Castro both as a fellow cell-mate and (twice) as a warden.

Castro's violent revolutionaries of the 1950s were treated far more humanely by the dictator Batista than non-violent human rights activists are treated by Castro today, he says as he recalls getting special treatment (hospital rooms as cells, private cooking facilities, etc) and pardons after only 21 months. (Since Castro's coming to power, incidentally, there have been 20,000 summary executions, but — unlike Pinochet's 3,000 victims — these are not of any more concern to "human rights activists" than those killed by Spain's Republicans in the 1930s.)
Read the whole thing™ (Romanticists Overlook Allende's Many Faults).

Ted Cruz echoes Gustavo Arcos Bergnes in The Truth about Fidel and Raul (gracias por Señorita Sarah) about "a new, even more brutal, form of repression" replacing the Batista dictatorship after la revolución of 1959:
My father, Rafael, had been an early supporter of the revolution against Fulgencio Batista — and spent a time in prison getting his teeth kicked in for his efforts. He fled the island, only to return to what he hoped would be a liberated Cuba. Instead, he found a new, even more brutal, form of repression had taken hold. In 1960, he left again, never to return. His sister, my Tia Sonia, bravely joined the resistance to Castro and was jailed and tortured in her turn.
The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby: Castro shed far more blood than the dictator he replaced.
According to the Cuba Archive, which is documenting the deaths of each person killed by Cuba's rulers since 1952, Batista was responsible for approximately 3,000 deaths. Castro's toll has been far higher. So far the archive has documented more than 8,000 specific victims of the Castro regime -- including 5,775 firing squad executions, 1,231 extrajudicial assassinations, and 984 deaths in prison. When fully documented, the body count is expected to reach 17,000 -- plus the tens of thousands of Cubans who lost their lives at sea while fleeing Castro's Caribbean nightmare.
Related: Fidel Castro dies. Justin Trudeau issues statement. Much hilarity ensues. #TrudeauEulogies

Here is one of No Pasarán's tweets:

The Final Countdown: Presidential Election Debate at HEC in Jouy-en-Josas

Nous avions le plaisir de recevoir [lundi] soir Jonathon Holler, de Democrats Abroad France, et Erik Svane, de Republican Abroad France, pour un débat passionné sur les élections américaines du 8 Novembre prochain. Retour en photos sur l'évènement !
Thus write the HEC students on the debate team's Facebook page about the debate The Final Countdown.

Jonathon Holler, from the Democratic Party, and Erik Svane, from the Republican Party, came to HEC Débats on October 24th to discuss the main issues of the American presidential election, confronting Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Popularity with the "Bankrupt Left" and in the Rest of the World in a Nutshell

 … the bankrupt Left shrugs, “She may be a crook, but she’s our crook.”
writes Victor Davis Hanson as the National Review columnist explains the popularity of Hillary Clinton, in America as well as abroad, in a nutshell.
A Hillary presidency would [have given] the Clintons unprecedented Peronist-like power, in a manner unlike any couple in American history. 
Of course, the Clintons are not only corrupt but cynical as well. They accept that the progressive media, the foundations, the universities, the bureaucracies, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley honor power more than trendy left-wing politics; they well understand that their fans will, for them, make the necessary adjustments to contextualize Clinton criminality or amorality. Sexual predations, the demonization of women, graft, and unequal protection under the law are also of no consequence to the inbred, conflicted, and morally challenged media – who will always check in with the Clinton team, like errant dogs who scratch the backdoor of their master after a periodic runaway.
The Clintons have contempt for the media precisely because the media are so obsequious. They smile, that, like themselves, the media are easily manipulated and compromised — to the extent of offering their articles, before publication, for Clinton approval (as the New York Times’ Mark Leibovich did; leaking debate questions to the Clinton campaign (as Donna Brazile did); or saying (as Politico’s chief political correspondent did), “I have become a hack. . . . Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I f**ked up anything.” The Clintons view such sycophants not with affection, but with disdain, given that they are moochers no better than the Clintons, with the same base desires, albeit better camouflaged by their pretense of objectivity.

… They have long ago lost any sense of shame — Bill is hourly caricatured as a sexual predator, and the best that can be said of Hillary’s character is that the bankrupt Left shrugs, “She may be a crook, but she’s our crook.”

Shaka, the legendary king who warred across South Africa forging the modern Zulu nation: There’s battle, conquest, siblings turning on each other and murdering each other — it’s better than “Game of Thrones,” and it’s all true

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah was drawn by Jillian Tamaki for an interview with the New York Times.
 … And now for a movie or TV show that has yet to be made: Tell us about your ideal adaptation of any book.

Someone needs to make a movie about Shaka, the legendary Zulu king who warred across South Africa forging the modern Zulu nation. There’s battle, conquest, siblings turning on each other and murdering each other — it’s better than “Game of Thrones,” and it’s all true.

 … What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I was a voracious reader as a kid. Being the mixed child of a black Xhosa mom and a white Swiss dad, my existence was illegal in South Africa at the time. When I was little I spent a lot of time indoors so my parents could avoid going to jail, which would not have been fun for any of us. Books were my escape. I loved getting lost in fantasy worlds. I’d read anything by Roald Dahl: “James and the Giant Peach,” “The BFG,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I also loved “The Chronicles of Narnia,” but I only got to read them after convincing my very Christian mother that Aslan was a Christ figure and not a false idol.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

I’d love for him to read my book, actually, if only to satisfy my curiosity of knowing what he thinks about it. I’ve always felt a connection with President Obama through our shared experiences of being mixed race and both having African roots.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Never designed to be popularity contests: The genius of the Electoral College is that it gives everyone a voice and everyone a stake in the election's outcome

Over at the Investor's Business Daily, John Merline points out that
if California was more like the average Democratic state, Trump would currently have a 400,000 vote lead in the nationwide popular vote.

 … As IBD pointed out in a recent editorial, the Electoral College was specifically designed to prevent candidates from winning the presidency simply by appealing to a few heavily-populated, highly partisan regions of the country. The Electoral College forces candidates to compete nationwide if they want to be president. That's a good thing.

Trump was right to say that, if the election were based on the popular vote, he'd have campaigned differently, particularly in states like California and New York where he had no hope of winning the popular vote but could have cut into Hillary's outsized margins and won more votes than her nationwide.

Yes, the Electoral College occasionally produces the odd outcome where the popular vote winner is the election night loser. But without the Electoral College, abnormally partisan states like California could permanently dominate the nation's politics.

To quote directly from the IBD editorial:
The Electoral College is a unique institution, one that has functioned well to balance our nation's broad demographic and geographic interests. To destroy it would destroy what is special about our presidential elections. It's what has made our presidential successions so smooth and peaceful over more than 200 years, longer than any other comparable system for changing leadership in an orderly, democratic fashion.

To begin with, from the 1787 crafting of our Constitution, our presidential elections were never designed to be popularity contests. They were designed to give the individual states a voice in who would lead them. There would have been no United States of America without this provision, since from the beginning the small states were terrified of being dominated and bullied by the bigger states if they joined the union.

The genius of this system is that it gives everyone a voice and everyone a stake in the election's outcome.
Imagine for a moment if there was no electoral college, and we decided our elections based solely on popular vote. California, New York, Florida, Texas and a handful of other heavily populated states would dominate. The smaller states would have no say.
A popular mayor or governor in, say, California, might be able to cobble together enough votes to win without even being close to a majority of the votes. Dozens of smaller, less-populated states would have virtually no voice in what happened. They would soon be dominated by the highly populated coastal corridors and their mostly left-wing politics. The anger would soon explode, and you'd have secession movements springing up all over the country.

Such a system would increase the rewards for voter fraud and cheating, and make our system rife with voter and legal challenges. Think 2000 was bad? We'd soon be acting like some of the chaotic, autocratic nations that we now look down upon if we got rid of the Electoral College.

As author Robert Curry argues at the American Thinker, a president elected by popular vote "would in effect become the president of the big cities of America, and the last vestiges of political autonomy guaranteed the individual states by the Constitution's electoral system would be swept away."

With our current system, candidates have to take even small states seriously. They have to run as national candidates, not as "California" or "New York" or "Florida" candidates. They have to learn what issues matter to everyone, not just a regional few. That, arguably, was Hillary Clinton's failure — she didn't listen to the angry middle-class voters in the Midwest and South who were suffering from economic changes, and wanted their voices heard.
"Modern candidates have to accommodate farmers in rural states, factory workers in industrial states, and software engineers in tech-dominated states," writes Jarrett Stepman, an editor at the Heritage Foundation's DailySignal. "The president must consider the needs and opinions of people across the country instead of just the views of a few, highly populated urban centers."

Not My President — The Difference Between 2008 and 2016

That Was Then
This Is Now
by Branco

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Cartoons from the New Yorker

Ten Thanksgiving cartoons from the New Yorker

(See also Art Buchwald's attempt to explain the
holiday to the French (and to other foreigners))

Kilomètres Deboutish and le Jour de Merci Donnant

An American tries to explain Thanksgiving to the French.

For four or five decades, this Art Buchwald column from the 1950s was printed every year in the (Paris-Based) International Herald Tribune, on the last Thursday of November.
One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant.
Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pélérins) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World ( le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their hearts’ content.
They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine ) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pélérins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pélérins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pélérins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pélérins.
In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pélérins’ crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pélérins than Pélérins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.
It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilometres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant :
“Go to the damsel Priscilla ( allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.
“I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden.”
Although Jean was fit to be tied ( convenable à être emballe), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l’étonnement et la tristesse).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: “If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?” (Ou est-il, le vieux Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas aupres de moi pour tenter sa chance?)
Jean said that Kilometres Deboutish was very busy and didn’t have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilometres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, Jean?” (Chacun a son gout.)
And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes and, for the only time during the year, eat better than the French do.
No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well-fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

Related: Ten Thanksgiving cartoons from the New Yorker

Electoral College: Democracy is all about majority rule; A republic is about the self-rule of a nation of free people

Clinton “won” an election we didn’t have
writes Mark Cunningham acidly in his New York Post article on protests concerning the 2016 election:
Neither side was focused on a national-popular-vote win, because both knew the rules.

And if the rules were different, the whole campaign would’ve differed, too.

Just for starters, a lot more Republicans would’ve voted in California. They had no reason to turn out when everyone knew Clinton would carry the state — and the US Senate race was between two Democrats.

It’s also just plain easier to vote in Democrat-dominated states; Oregon is entirely vote-by-mail. That runs up Dems’ national total, too.

 … Mind you, the Electoral College isn’t even remotely the most “anti-democratic” feature of our government: You could make a better case for that being the US Senate, the Supreme Court or even the states. Not to mention the Bill of Rights . . .

Heck, even the House of Representatives — the most “popular” part of the federal setup — is anti-democratic in key ways: The party that wins the most votes in House races nationwide often winds up scoring the minority of actual house seats.

The thing is, every one of these features is vital to securing our great democracy, which is actually, in the famous 1787 words of Benjamin Franklin, “a Republic — if you can keep it.”

And the whole anti-democratic package is what has allowed us to keep it these 200-plus years.
Let’s go back to “republic”: Democracy is all about majority rule; the word actually means “rule of the people.” A republic is about the self-rule of a nation of free people.

The two words yield a lot of insight into the different thinking of Democrats and Republicans — why, one side loves early voting, vote-by-mail and such schemes, for example, while the other is more eager to honor the profound ritual of going out and casting the ballot on Election Day.

This is much of why the “moral outrage” crowd outrages me: Because they generally don’t even recognize the existence of a different way of thinking, let alone understand it.

Or, God forbid, grant it a shred of legitimacy — even though it’s the actual basis of our entire system.

Look: The Founders were deeply worried about the perils of democracy — its historic instability, its record of oppressing the minority and other potential disasters.

It’s not right to let the majority have its way on everything: Hence the Bill of Rights protections for free speech, a free press and so on.
And full-on democracy — every citizen voting on every law, for example — just doesn’t work at large scale, or last long even on a small level. So we elect representatives to do the law-making, and break the country into states so that local decisions largely get made by locals.

More, the Founders focused on creating a republic that would be stable (not static) and strong: They’d actually gathered for the Constitutional Convention because the government set up after the Revolution was neither.

Yet not too strong: Small states didn’t want larger ones to call all the shots, so we got the Senate (where New York is equal to New Hampshire, etc.) to even the playing field.

And the Electoral College protects a similar value — pushing candidates to fight it out state by state, rather than relying on what today would be some godawful national advertising war. (One that, incidentally, would make money even more central to our politics.)

But here’s the biggest thing for the “morally outraged” to ponder: The whole system is set up to ensure that no single election decides all that much — particularly a “fluke” election like the one we’ve just had.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Earth to Democrats: It ain't about race!

Normal Americans are thinking about their paychecks, their job security, their health insurance, the price of goods and services and the safety of their children
writes Herman Cain.
Because they always do.

The political class and the media are thinking about race. Because they always do.

So as Donald Trump prepares to take office precisely because he convinced Americans that he is in tune with the same things that are on their minds, you have the astonishing spectacle of Barack Obama during his final overseas tour, warning that he doesn’t want to see America fall under a tribalist nationalism in which everyone sees themselves as members of their group rather than as part of a unified nation.

You first, Mr. President. You first, Democrats. You first, media.

I don’t exactly know how it came to be that the political class is quite so obsessed with race.

 … I find that most of these issues really have very little to do with anyone’s skin color. Tax rates aren’t about skin color. Foreign defense alliances aren’t about skin color. Maintaining roads and bridges isn’t about skin color.

Unless, of course, it’s in your political interests to insist that it is, because everything is about race. And that’s pretty much been the mantra of the left for the past several decades. When they can’t win an argument on substance, they scream racism. And when they’re having trouble defeating a Republican candidate, they manufacture a pretext for calling that person a racist even if any fair and objective assessment of him would suggest that he is not.

 … That said, if Obama is concerned about tribalist nationalism, where does he think it might be coming from? Here’s a thought: Maybe the people who are constantly categorizing people by skin color, nationality and gender have spurred an understandable instinct in people to defend who and what they are.

When Hillary stood there weeks before the election and accused Trump supporters of being racists, sexists, homophobes and xenophobes, it may have had the effect of inspiring people to not only defend their character but also to defend the group from which they came. They might have never thought about it, or considered it very important, if Democrats and the media weren’t in their faces about it all the time.

Maybe every time there’s a shooting that involves the police, America wouldn’t instinctively see it as a racial story . . . but for the fact that this is always the way the news media presents it. Who keeps bringing race into the conversation? Hmm?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Do red state Americans and blue state Americans live in the same country anymore?

This election year has been one for the history books
writes Benny Huang
—a jolting roller-coaster ride of scandals, vitriol and clashing world views. And it’s not over yet. As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to assume office the nation is smoldering with riots and miscellaneous mayhem.

As a political junkie, I simply can’t avert my eyes. Sometimes I think that I should tune out for sanity’s sake but there’s just no off switch. This year has made me wish there were.

Do red state Americans and blue state Americans live in the same country anymore? This has gone way beyond the donkey/elephant dichotomy. It’s white vs. black, professionals vs. the working class, rural vs. urban, makers vs. takers, and the faithful vs. secular humanists.

Have we always been this divided? No. But have we ever been this divided? Yes. America has torn itself apart many times before. Between 1861 and 1865 the division was literal. Thank goodness we aren’t as divided now as we were then or else we’d be taking up arms.

It’s usually a war that splits us—first the War of 1812, then the Mexican War, the Civil War, World War I to a lesser extent, and the Vietnam War. There are still plenty people alive today who can remember that last war (er, police action) and still bear its scars, literal and figurative. It was a time when the Greatest Generation asked their sons to march off to war just as they had—and many of their sons said no. Because I was not born until seven years after the last US troops left that country I did not realize how deeply that war affected my elders’ generation until I did some research on it for a book that never got published. The pain is still there, always lurking beneath the surface. It will die with the last baby boomer and not one second sooner.

Memories of the Vietnam War were still very raw when I was a child in the 1980’s though I was blissfully unaware. President Reagan did a lot to stitch our national wounds when he delivered an address at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 1984 before the internment of a nameless Vietnam War serviceman at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was a moving speech that a lot of Vietnam veterans had waited a long time to hear. In short, he said thank you—something a lot of them were not accustomed to hearing.
Ronald Reagan
The Reagan era was “morning in America again” to borrow a phrase from Reagan’s 1984 campaign commercial. Though not explicitly mentioned in the ad, it was a reference to the Vietnam War as much as to the “malaise” of the Carter years. Suddenly it was okay again to be a proud American. With a common identity to bind us together, the near constant strife of the 60’s and 70’s finally abated. We disagreed on issues of course but we settled our differences like people from the same country rather than people from different solar systems.

A taste of things to come arrived with the 2000 Florida recount. The national consensus of the 80’s and 90’s was starting to unravel because a significant portion of Americans truly believed that their candidate had been cheated of his rightful victory. They were wrong, of course—George W. Bush was never behind in the vote tally and the Supreme Court did not “select” him—but they really believed it. I suppose I’d be angry too if I labored under their misconception.

Shortly thereafter came 9/11 and a brief period of national unity that I’m not convinced was ever genuine. Iraq tore us apart, as did drones, wiretapping, and Guantanamo. By the time the 2004 election rolled around I was sure we Americans were at the apex of acrimonious division. It couldn’t get any worse, right? How wrong I was. In 2008 we elected a man who ran on the twin slogans of “Hope” and “Change.” Half the population—the half that was still upset about the two previous presidential elections and “Bush’s wars”—swallowed these platitudes and were shocked when we didn’t. Barack Obama divided us further with his identity politicking, his arrogance, and his heavy-handed response to dissenting voices. By 2016 the nation was a powder keg.

That’s the short history of how we got here. But how do we get out?

I have no easy answers. The gap between the utopian Left and the traditionalist Right seems unbridgeable.
 … on the other side of the country, rioters were venting their rage through wanton destruction. Fearful that the election of Donald Trump would spell the dawn of fascism in America, they let loose their primal scream. I don’t mean to mock them as melodramatic—the overheated rhetoric (“fascist”) is theirs not mine. That’s the other America, the one I don’t know.

It occurs to me that people on the Left might perceive my call to reconciliation as nothing but a sore winner’s luxury. Sure, now that my guy won let’s all stand together, right? There’s just one problem: Donald Trump is not “my guy.” Bobby Jindal was my guy until he dropped out and then Ted Cruz was my guy. Mr. Trump was never for one second “my guy.” I took joy in the final election result only because Hillary Clinton lost and because a lot of working stiffs were finally heard after years of being brushed aside.

But perhaps there’s a kernel of truth to the idea that the winners always call for rapprochement simply because they’re the winners. To dissenters, “national unity” always seems like a con job and sometimes they’re right. It can be a polite but disingenuous way of telling others to get in line. It certainly felt that way to me when the triumphalist Barack Obama took office in 2009 with his “elections have consequences” rhetoric. He steamrolled us and shamed us for speaking up with what little voice we had left. We were “obstructionists” and worse, racists. Yet the opposition wanted us to come together around the president so we could get to work fixing our nation’s problems—all of which were Bush’s fault, naturally.

All I can say to those who hear a coded message in this article (“shut up”) is that I don’t mean it that way. I’d like to talk to my countrymen again and I don’t mean shouting across the barricades. Perhaps one way to do that is to revive the principles of federalism so that red states can be free to be “bitter clinger” territory and blue states Prius-land. It will mean that the federal government, and particularly the judiciary, will have to restrain itself and desist from their outlandish definitions of “interstate commerce” and “equal protection,” two phrases that have been misconstrued to gut our ability to craft policy close to home. If that doesn’t work, or if people aren’t even willing to try, I wouldn’t be opposed to a cordial divorce. If a few states have to secede from the Union (California? Texas? Oregon? Hawaii?) to make this life in this country bearable again, that’s a price I’d be willing to pay.

America is two very different countries within the borders of one nation and it will probably remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Growing Number of French Citizens Demand the Right to Bear Arms and to Self-Defence

After the long list of attacks that have shaken France, from Le Bataclan to Nice, Le Figaro's Esther Paolini reports on a growing number of voices demanding that French citizens be allowed to carry a gun…

Between 2011 and 2015, the number of Frenchmen learning how to shoot has risen by 38% and, needless to say, the politically correct climate makes member of the élites deny any link with the terrorist attacks.
 … la Fédération française de tir (FFT) et son président, Philippe Crochart, réfutent un quelconque lien entre le climat post-attentat et l'augmentation du nombre d'adhérents: ils étaient 145.365 en 2011 et ont dépassé les 201.450 tireurs en 2015, soit une augmentation de 38%.

Pourtant, des Français inquiets et souhaitant s'armer, il en existe. Et ils sont nombreux, à en croire la relative popularité de l'Arpac, l'Association pour le rétablissement du port d'arme citoyen, rassemblant près de 15.000 personnes sur sa page Facebook. L'un de ses représentants se fait appeler Pierre Bourguignon. Il garantit: «Beaucoup de Français sont inquiets depuis le Bataclan et Nice. Leur revendication est plus assumée. Ces personnes ne souhaitent pas rivaliser avec la police mais ils ont conscience que ces dramatiques événements vont se répéter et ils ne se sentent pas assez protégés.» Édouard, l'administrateur de la page Facebook «Droit de porter des armes» depuis quatre ans, explique que, depuis les attentats de novembre 2015, le nombre de ‘likes' a été multiplié par trois sur sa page, pour dépasser les 16.000.

L'Arpac milite notamment pour faire reconnaître «le droit naturel à se défendre», et espère faire évoluer la législation vers l'autorisation du port de l'arme à feu dans l'espace public, sous condition d'une formation théorique et d'une pratique égale à celle dont bénéficie la police (avec notamment une obligation de passage au centre de tir). Et Pierre Bourguignon d'évoquer l'assassinat de Charb. Le dessinateur de Charlie Hebdo, qui pratiquait le tir sportif, avait réclamé, sans succès, l'autorisation de porter une arme.