sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, January 30, 2015

Who Should it be?

I've had a lot of people ask me who the next president should be lately. There is a big field of contenders on the Republican side and only Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side as the Clinton Machine sweeps the field of obstacles.

These my thoughts:

(1) Whoever would be president needs to have experience running a business outside government. Rant against me if you will (to somebody else). The President needs to understand what it is to make a payroll and have the government as your ADVERSARY. You can't do that as a US Attorney (Christie) or as a political drone (Clinton). We need an executive branch that is not used as a hammer against political opponents (Obama) and has the goal of enabling the nation to be successful.

(2) America is not evil. We need a leader who loves America and Americans (most of the people with an R after their names) and is optimistic about what can be. Oil is being produced in America DESPITE the government's refusal to allow leases on federal land. America is much tougher to kill than her enemies (including the Manchurian Candidate now in office) thought that it would be. The next president must have the philosophy, "drill baby, drill." The US and Canada together has a substantially larger proven supply of oil than any other group on the planet.

(3) Yes, we need to thank Barack Obama for overseeing the largest firearms and ammunition sales into private hands in the history of the republic. A tepid thanks to him.

The next President needs to grasp the inconvenient truth that those places in America which ban firearms from honest, law-abiding people only enable violence on the part of the lawless, who will be armed irrespective of the law. Open carry laws tend to make criminals nervous and they look for the low hanging fruit and the easy mark elsewhere. I know that the liberal establishment quakes at the thought even while they surround themselves with armed men for protection.

(4) Supply side economics works. Reduce taxes, broaden the base, and get people employed. It's not that tough. America's enemies don't want to see that, so that's what the next President should do.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Being Barack

Being a populist president...

Of course we know that any real interview must include a teleprompter.

The President elevates deserters in the face of the enemy to heroic status, honors dead thugs as civil rights martyrs, and revels in the attention he's getting from a woman made popular by taking a bath in breakfast cereal.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday Tune

I'm not posting this for any reason other than I like the music. Having a pretty girl play the violin makes it all the better.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cuba Libre

There are a few problems with the US normalizing relationships with Cuba. They fall under the same rubric as normalizing relationships with North Korea. 

President Obama who leads the executive branch of government has sympathies for communist dictatorships because of his roots. His parents, grandparents and those who he admired growing up were all communists. And America must love that because they put him in office and returned him to office. It can all be boxed together with his promise to "radically transform America" (and create an Orwellian paradise where we all love Big Brother).

President Obama currently enjoys a 50% approval rating and most of those people who support him couldn't find either Cuba or North Korea on a map,  but they love their ObamaPhones and free air time. So much for the American voter. If they like Barack, they'll love Hillary.

However the love affair between Barack and the Brothers Castro is blooming, team Castro is has no plans to reimburse the $6 billion seized from US businesses when Fidel came to power
According to the Helms-Burton Act, which enforces the sanctions, the embargo cannot be lifted until there is "demonstrable progress underway" in compensating Americans for their seized and annexed property. 
Add to that layer of the onion, the inconvenient truth that Americans voted against Barack by handing control of the US Senate to the Republican Party and advancing the majority that the Republicans hold in the House of Representatives. Congress would need to vote to end the embargo and I don't see that happening in the next two years.

Elections have consequences, Barack.

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Monday

Movietone News reports that nobody knows why HMS Barham's after magazine blew up though the proximate cause must have something to do with the German torpedoes. I attribute it to "Monday", whether or not it happened on a Monday.

HMS Barham - before Monday karma kicked in.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Hellenic Republic

I take pick-up work from time to time if the money is right. I met with a friend and took a bit of work that will take me to Greece again. I included the YouTube video below because it's somewhat representative of the Plaka (old town Athens). When in the greater Athens area I prefer to stay in private residences in  the Piraeus Harbor area or in the old city. The food is better in the Plaka and you walk where you need to go until you need to go outside the old city. 

Or sometimes you don't. When I was there in 2003, I tried to catch a taxi but they were on strike. I asked a guy why and he explained that the prostitute's union went out on strike and the taxi drivers union went on strike in support of them. It makes sense in Greece. Much of the time that I was in Greece, I was hauled around in an armored Mercedes Benz with an armed escort. It's never a bad idea. There is a riot almost every day in front of the US Embassy and getting in and out (even through the back way) can be a hassle because the streets are very congested. Taxis just drop you off in the middle of the riot because they don't want to get involved.

If you ask the people who are rioting and demonstrating why they are doing it, they never have much of an answer. Usually it's simply because it's the thing to do. It's Greece. There are a lot of Albanians in Greece. The Greeks don't like them. I got along well with the Albanians. I don't know what that says about me. The Albanian Mafia is far more reasonable than the Athens Mafia and if you need to get things done downtown, you go to the Macedonian Mafia for results. Just saying. You run the turf, you have to know who you can rely on.

Greece in the winter is COLD. Unless you've been there, you really can't relate. Tourists don't visit in the winter and they don't understand that Athens can get 6" of snow and Thessaloniki can get even more. The photo (right) was taken on a clear day overlooking Athens - and as best I recall, it was taken in February. 

It's almost impossible to get proper Greek food outside of Greece unless you have a Greek person from the old country actually doing the cooking. Greek from Brooklyn doesn't cut it. Even then they have to get the ingredients from Greece or it won't taste right. 

When in Greece, I run with Greeks (or Albanians) or Macedonians if there's a problem and I need armed back-up) It means that I'm not cheated on the bar tab (most bars are run buy one of the several mafia groups - to include Bulgarians) or anywhere else. It's also a lot more fun because these folks LIVE TO PARTY. I have never been to a country where the party has an absolute priority over work EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE WEEK. Naturally, that is reflected in the tepid Greek gross national product.

I have a few things to do before I go to Greece and may be able to stretch the trip for a month until the weather improves. Athens today, high of 55 and a low of 46. That's about 20 degrees colder than Southern California, and far too cold to go for a swim in the Aegean. Then again, there is ozou, and while it warms the blood, it has the side effect of immobilizing you.

One of my favorite places to visit when in Greece is Mt. Athos (LINK). Women can't visit the Holy Mountain because it's made up of ancient monasteries, but it's an incredibly cool place to go, particularly if you are invited.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Magic Kingdom

In Saudi Arabia, King Abdallah died. His half-brother Crown Prince Salman is King and his brother Muqrin is the new Crown Prince, Neither man is young, but the succession is clear for now.

the king is dead, long live the king

The instinctive reaction of living systems is to contract during times of internal stress, and even more so during a leadership crisis. The protective and defensive instinct also applies to policies. That instinct ensures the continuation of the bedrock principles of a state, but not necessarily more discretionary initiatives. In Saudi Arabia, the monarchy, Wahhabism, the tribal heritage and oil are four of the bedrock principles. Experiments in modernity are expendable.
Under King Abdallah, Shiism expanded more than at any recent prior time. This was not necessarily because of any failure of Saudi policy, but the King could not stop the spread of "heresy" that others facilitated. Iraq came under more open and direct Iranian influence. The Baathist/Alawite government in Syria survived. Lebanese Hizballah emerged as into a regional influence beyond the borders of Lebanon. Hamas lost a war with Israel, but did not return to the Arab fold. Egypt's Mubarak, a strong and steady ally, was overthrown in a phenomenon called the Arab Spring.
A new Saudi King might conclude that the US-backed attempt to overthrow Asad in Syria backfired by expanding Iran's regional importance. Worst of all, the distraction of the Arab Spring diverted the Kingdom's attention from the metamorphosis of al-Qaida in Iraq into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and its declaration of itself as a caliphate and the leader of Muslims.

Abdallah's foreign policy legacy can be understood as producing a succession of setbacks for Sunni Arab causes and a succession of qualified victories for the Persian ayatollahs. A new King, concerned about stability, might question the value of the US relationship as it existed when Abdallah was King because American policy decisions contributed to the expansion of the power and influence of heretics and takfiris, in a Sunni Arab perspective.

Domestically, Wahhabi imams might argue that King Abdallah was far out in front of his people, meaning he was out of touch. His attempts to promote modernity - promoting co-education, giving women limited voting rights, and hosting inter-faith councils, for example - undermined the moral authority of a devout Islamic monarch.

The legacy of King Abdallah is beyond praiseworthy in a Western tribute. He did more to modernize Saudi Arabian culture than most of his predecessors. He was a dependable ally to the US in fighting Islamic terror. He was a good man.

Saudis might draw other conclusions. Saudi influence contracted under Abdallah and the enemies advanced. The US withdrew prematurely from Iraq. The US failed to back a program of overthrowing the Alawite abomination, in a Sunni view, in Damascus. Abdallah could not prevent or mitigate the effects of these actions by the Kingdom's closest Western ally.

Any logical analysis of the special relationship that the Saudis enjoyed with the US must include the  Saudi perception of the reliability of the United States. Under President Obama, that relationship has been unreliable and fraught with contradictions. A more fundamentalist Saudi Arabia would naturally view Hillary Clinton, who took credit for the disastrous Arab Spring - as very unreliable. As a female whose credentials are all based around her gender, Clinton's ascendency would only serve to convince the Saudis to go it alone and buy their own atomic bombs to counter the Iranian threat. (they can buy them from Pakistan or China)