The Bookworm Beat 8-26-15 — the “gruesome GoPro” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265The revolution will be televised — thoughts on the shooting in Virginia

Back in 1969 or 1970, during the height of the 1960s era upheavals, Gil Scott-Heron wrote a poem/song claiming “the revolution will not be televised.” The lyrics implied that the media would be so anodyne that, while revolution was on the streets, those watching their TVs would see only pabulum. What Scott-Heron couldn’t perceive was that, thanks to technological advances, the revolutionaries would create their own television spectacles. We see that most dramatically with ISIS, which enjoys filming and televising its trail of murder, rapine, and destruction, as well as with the American activists who turn life’s frictions into catalysts for riot and revolution.

And today we saw something that managed to have roots both in a protest against life’s friction and in ISIS’s sadistic voyeurism: It turns out that Vester Lee Flanigan, the man who murdered TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, and seriously injured Chamber of Commerce representative Vicki Gardner, (a) committed the murder in part because Parker allegedly made racist comments before Flanigan and Parker ever worked together and (b) GoPro’d the murder:

Murderer's eye view Flanigan Parker

The revolution will be televised, and it will be the revolutionaries, especially the sadistic voyeurs, doing the televising.

Oh, and because the usual suspects have used this horrible murder as ammunition in their war on the Second Amendment, you might want to have as your own talking point the fact that gun crime has dropped 49% since 1993, something the vast majority of Americans do not know.

Donald Trump and Univision’s Jorge Ramos

I do not like Trump. I do not believe he’s a conservative. I do believe he’s a megalomaniac. I sincerely hope he burns out soon, so that more serious candidates (my current faves are Cruz and Fiorina) can get their rightful place in the limelight.

Having said that, I totally understand why people are so enthusiastic about Trump’s demagogic candidacy. Part of it the support comes from people’s sense that a lawless administration needs to be reined in about illegal immigration.

Incidentally, I just made an important point, if I do say so myself. Contrary to Leftist claims, those who support Trump are not xenophobes, trying to lock Hispanics out of the country. They are, instead, ordinary lawful citizens who are horrified by the fact that the current executive branch in this country is willfully violating laws that Congress passed to preserve this country’s sovereignty. It’s not racist to ask your government to enforce its own laws. But back to Trump….

What people like about Trump is his absolute refusal to play by the PC rules that Leftists have long used to stifle conservative speech and action. Ramos was out of line to use his Hispanic heft to muscle into a speech at the Donald’s press conference, and the Donald rightly put him in his place. Then, when Ramos played by the rules and waited his turn, Trump again put him in his place by answering in straightforward fashion questions about the border, pnce again blogging Ramos’s speechifying.

Leftists are bullies who work hard to control speech and thought through whatever means are available. In Trump, they’ve met an even bigger bully than they are.  While I’d hate to see Trump in the driver’s seat at the White House, it’s a pleasure to see him out bully the Left on the campaign trail.

Daniel Pipes on the possibility that Tehran rejects the deal

To those of us watching Obama work hard to hand billions of dollars and unlimited nuclear capacity to the Iranians, it seems inconceivable that the Iranians might reject the deal. Moreover, if that were to happen, I think most of us would have, as our instinctive first response, the thought that it’s good to see Obama humiliated in such a way.

Daniel Pipes, however, argues that the possibility is real that Tehran could reject the deal and that, absent some careful groundwork, if it were to happen, it could have unpleasant ramifications, not for Obama, but for Israel and other opponents of the deal:

Leaders of fanatical and brutal government such as Khamenei’s invariably make ideological purity and personal power their highest priorities and he is no exception. From this point of view – its impact on the regime’s longevity – the deal contains two problems.

First, it betrays Ayatollah Khameini’s vision of unyielding enmity to the United States, a core principle that has guided the Islamic republic since he founded it in 1979. A substantial portion of the leadership, including Khamenei himself, hold to a purist vision that sees any relations with the United States as unacceptable and bordering on treachery. For this reason, Tehran has long been the world’s only capital not seeking improved relations with Washington. These rejectionists disdain the benefits of the deal; they refuse it on grounds of principle.

[snip]

Second, Iranian opponents of the JCPOA worry about its eroding the Islamist values of Khameini’s revolution. They fear that the businessmen, tourists, students, artists, et al., perched soon to descend on an newly-opened Iran will further tempt the local population away from the difficult path of resistance and martyrdom in favor of consumerism, individualism, feminism, and multiculturalism. They despise and dread American clothing, music, videos, and education. Khamenei himself talks of the U.S. government seeking a way “to penetrate into the country.” From their point of view, isolation and poverty have their virtues as means to keep the Iranian revolution alive.

[snip]

Back in the West, opponents of the deal will, of course, rejoice if Khamenei rejects the deal. But his doing so also presents them with a problem. After claiming that Obama has given away the store, they must confront the awkward fact that the Iranian leadership turned down his offer. As Obama emerges as an apparent hard-liner who protected American interests and out-bargained the bazaar merchants, their argument collapses. His accusation about their “making common cause” with the Iranian rejectionists will look newly convincing and terribly damning. Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, currently in Obama’s dog house, is especially at risk of being dismissed as foolish.

To avoid this fate, the deal’s opponents must immediately prepare for the possibility of an Iranian “no.”

Read the whole thing here.

The 14th Amendment is not intended to extend birthright citizenship to people who are here illegally

The 14th Amendment’s reference to birthright citizenship was intended to give American blacks citizenship. Blacks did not come to America voluntarily. Whites brought them here forcibly, and then kept them captive. The least America could do was make them and their children citizens of this country.

The 14th amendment was not intended (a) to provide an incentive for people to make a voluntary illegal journey here and then to use the subsequent birth of their children as an anchor to stay in perpetuity or (b) to entice monied people to come here solely for their child’s birth, before returning to their own country. It’s not complicated; it is, instead, a grotesque perversion of our Constitution to hold otherwise.

I actually have thought a fair bit about birthright citizenship because my father was the child of a German Jewish woman and a Polish Jewish man of Romanian decent. His mother had been in Germany for centuries and was a German citizen. His father was a legal immigrant in Germany, but retained his Polish citizenry. My father, although born in Germany in 1919 to a German mother, was a Polish citizen. That’s why, when he and my mother sought to immigrate legally to America in the 1950s, it took him years to get a visa — America wasn’t thrilled at the time about getting more Polish residents. I always thought it was unfair to my father, that he was born in Germany to legal residents, but was a Pole.

The same does not hold true in my mind for people who should not be here in the first place. They weren’t invited, they weren’t forced here, and they didn’t follow the legal process to get here. They are, to my mind, non-people under American law and they should not get any of the benefits that either the law or the constitution extend to people born here, invited here, forced here, and legally welcomed here.

Of course, the media is doing its best to hide from everyone the fact that birthright citizenship is not the reward for every cheat who enters this country.

Yet another blow to the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt

Okay, the story below isn’t really a blow to the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, because a media that (a) worships Roosevelt and (b) isn’t going to let Americans get a glimpse into the sordid side of Roosevelt’s personality and presidency will never cover it.

The fact is, though, that Roosevelt was either a racist or an exceptionally petty man — or both. Certainly Roosevelt didn’t care that Jews were being slaughtered. He didn’t integrate the WWII military. And he refused to congratulate Jessie Owens in 1936:

Back home, ticker tape parades feted Owens in New York City and Cleveland. Hundreds of thousands of Americans came out to cheer him. Letters, phone calls, and telegrams streamed in from around the world to congratulate him. From one important man, however, no word of recognition ever came. As Owens later put it, “Hitler didn’t snub me; it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send a telegram.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, leader of a major political party with deep roots in racism, couldn’t bring himself to utter a word of support, which may have been a factor in Owens’s decision to campaign for Republican Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election. FDR invited all the white US Olympians to the White House, but not Jesse.

“It all goes so fast, and character makes the difference when it’s close,” Owens once said about athletic competition. He could have taught FDR a few lessons in character, but the president never gave him the chance. Owens wouldn’t be invited to the White House for almost 20 years — not until Dwight Eisenhower named him “Ambassador of Sports” in 1955.

The gay rights movement is not the same as the civil rights movement

I have to admit to being surprised (rather pleasantly) to see the New York Times run an op-ed from someone pointing out that the gay rights and civil rights movement are not the same. John Corvino is a philosophy professor, so his writing made my eyes role into the back of my head (I could almost see my brain), but I appreciate his careful effort to explain that, while the movements share similarities, they are not the same and that it’s an error to impose draconian government speech restrictions on those who, for reasons of faith, aren’t anxious to embrace gay marriage. Indeed, Corvino makes an argument I’ve been making for years, which is that the civil rights movement saw individuals protesting government conduct while the gay rights movement is using the government to enforce private conduct:

When civil rights laws were passed, discrimination against blacks was pervasive, state-sponsored and socially intractable. Pervasive, meaning that there weren’t scores of other photographers clamoring for their business. State-sponsored, meaning that segregation was not merely permitted but in fact legally enforced, even in basic public accommodations and services. Socially intractable, meaning that without higher-level legal intervention, the situation was unlikely to improve. To treat the lesbian couple’s situation as identical — and thus as obviously deserving of the same legal remedy — is to minimize our racist past and exaggerate L.G.B.T.-rights opponents’ current strength.

Leftists are so damn smug

I’ve had the link to this video on my spindle for about a week now. In the elapsed time since I first tagged it, but didn’t get the chance to write about it, it’s gone viral, even to the point of Ellen Degeneris sending out a tweet. In it, a father videos himself celebrating the fact that his little boy got a “Little Mermaid” doll at the toy store.

Why did I tag it to bring to your attention? Because the father is so smug. Smug is not the right response to a personal family decision. Instead, it’s apparent that this guy knew precisely what kind of traction this video would get and desperately wanted his 15 seconds of fame.

Leftists are so damn greedy

You’ll know without my comments what to make of a lawyer saying that blacks and other oppressed people should steal from big retailers, because the fact that retailers have insurance means that it’s not a crime. Separate from the immorality and racism of what he says, he needs an economics lesson courtesy of Bastiat.

Even Israel supports sharia law

One of the hallmarks of a free society is free speech. One of the hallmarks of a sharia society is that, whether through word or deed, you’re not allowed to criticize any aspect of Islam, especially the pedophile prophet. Yet in Israel, a free country chronically under attack by the pedophile’s followers, the government enforces sharia on Islam’s behalf:

Israeli police arrested a fourth person for calling Mohammed a pig. Avia Morris, the first person arrested described being taunted with cries of “Allahu Akbar” and “Kill the Jews” along with signs of support for ISIS. But it only became a legal matter when the twenty-year-old woman retorted, “Mohammed is a pig.”

Daniel Greenfield has a great deal more on Mohammed’s piggishness and on Western government’s enthusiastic willingness to become an arm of the sharia police when speakers point out Mohammed’s many, many failings:

The response to Muslim violence has been greater extremes of censorship. There is a direct connection between the amount of protective censorship imposed on any criticism of Islam and Islamic violence. The Clinton administration rant about Tatiana’s cartoon took place after the World Trade Center bombing. And yet it would have been unthinkable then to lock up a Mohammed filmmaker, as Hillary and Obama did after the Benghazi massacre. Each new atrocity creates new momentum for censorship.

The Israeli police behave the way they do because the authorities are desperate to keep some kind of peace and it is always easier to censor, arrest and control non-Muslims than Muslims. That is also why the authorities in European countries are far more willing to lock up those who burn the Koran or criticize Islam than the Salafis who patrol the streets as Sharia police and call for a Caliphate.

This is not tolerance. It’s appeasement. It’s cowardice and treason.

Need I point out that these are the same governments that are entirely comfortable with Christs in urine, Marys in elephant dung, and horribly antisemitic pictures of Jews?

No matter how nice Obama makes with Cuba, Cuba is still a nasty place

We have diplomatic relationships with all sorts of nasty regimes. What’s disgusting about Obama and Co. is that they’re pretending that Cuba isn’t a nasty regime. Cracked, of all sites, points out that the Left is lying — Cuba’s a bad place, let by ugly, violent people.

Income inequality and poverty are not the same thing

Writing at Forbes, Harry Frankfurt makes a very important point in response to hysterical screams about income inequality, all of which end up with demands for government mandated wealth redistribution:

It isn’t especially desirable that each have the same as others. What is bad is not inequality; it is poverty. We should want each person to have enough—that is, enough to support the pursuit of a life in which his or her own reasonable ambitions and needs may be comfortably satisfied. This individually measured sufficiency, which by definition precludes the bur­dens and deprivations of poverty, is clearly a more sensible goal than the achievement of an impersonally calibrated equality.

[snip]

It is not inequality itself that is to be decried; nor is it equality it­self that is to be applauded. We must try to eliminate poverty, not because the poor have less than others but be­cause being poor is full of hardship and suffering. We must con­trol inequality, not because the rich have much more than the poor but because of the tendency of inequality to generate unac­ceptable discrepancies in social and political influence. Inequality is not in itself objectionable—and neither is equality in itself a morally required ideal.

Ben Shapiro and my sister sort of agree

My sister is a rather indifferent libertarian who pays as little attention to the news as possible. However, we had a conversation when I spoke about the fact that voters cannot make informed decisions when the media deliberately hides data. My example was the Planned Parenthood videos showing Planned Parenthood facilities engaging in the sale of human body parts in a way that (a) appears to show them violating laws against profiting from that sale; (b) appears to show them failing to notify the women having the abortions what will be done about those body parts; and (c) makes it clear how revolting the traffic in fetal body parts really is.

When I described the videos to her, my sister was horrified. Libertarian she may be; secularist she may be; government out of my womb she may be — but she understands that there is a moment when that fetus is a viable life and at that moment she believes, as do most Americans, that it’s murder to vacuum it out of a woman’s body and kill it without a damn good reason for doing so. Although she won’t watch it, she would find herself agreeing with Ben Shapiro’s video:

More climate lies

Just in case you wanted to know, NOAA committed the usual acts of climate-based scientific fraud with Oklahoma temperature data.

If you need some inspiration today…

Corporal Todd Love will inspire you.

Dubai — impressive or disgusting?

I’m not a fan of conspicuous consumption, so I find Dubai’s excess disgusting. Having said that, it’s disgusting in a kind of fascinating way.

Pitbull — Middle aged suburban mom loves the music and respects the man

It’s a standing joke in our family that Mom — middle-aged suburban housewife that I am — really, really likes Pitbull.  I love the way he does mash-ups of classic songs from the 50s through the 80s, and I like his cheerful, self-deprecating rap.  He’s on my playlist, and I don’t care if the children groan when we’re driving in the car and, suddenly, there’s Pitbull.  As you can see from these videos, he’s rather salacious, but that’s hard to avoid nowadays, and I just . . . well, I just like him:

Today, I also find myself in the rare position of not just liking a musical artist’s performance, but actually respecting his views.  Why?  Because Pitbull was disgusted with pop stars Beyoncé’s and Jay-Z’s much talked-about trip to Cuba.  Jay-Z said of his visit:

“I done turned Havana into Atlanta,” Jay-Z raps. “[…] Boy from the hood, I got White House clearance… Politicians never did s— for me except lie to me, distort history… They wanna give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime.”

[snip]

Jay Z later raps: “Hear the freedom in my speech… Obama said, ‘Chill you gonna get me impeached. You don’t need this s— anyway, chill with me on the beach.’”

Both of those vapid airheads (Jay-Z and Beyoncé) seemed very pleased with themselves for having visited a communist country that keeps its people imprisoned in grinding poverty, under the constant eye of the state police.

Pitbull was not impressed.  He did a pro-American rap, which he promoted on his Twitter account (click on image to get to Pitbull’s tweet):

Twitter  Pitbull I'm cuban american i was born ... - Mozilla Firefox 4142013 81836 PM.bmp

Pitbull — thank you!!! Next time my children tease me about loving your music, I’m going to tell them that you’re not just a great rapper/musician, you’re also a principled and decent man. Woo-hoo!

Yet another Tom Lehrer song proves to be prescient

I blogged the other day that Tom Lehrer’s MLF Lullaby, although about Germany, worked well with Islam in the starring role.  It turns out that Tom Leher was prescient about folk songs too.  First, the New York Times story:

When one of Cuba’s best-known musicians landed in the United States, his first appearance was not onstage, but on Capitol Hill.

Carlos Varela, often referred to as Cuba’s Bob Dylan, had come to remix an album with his good friend Jackson Browne. But he also hoped to help reshape relations between the United States and his homeland.

So before going to Hollywood to work on the album, he stopped in Washington early this month for meetings with legislators and a lunch with a senior White House official. Later he held a jam session in the House Budget Committee meeting room.

Almost everywhere Mr. Varela, 46, went during his weeks here, including at universities and policy institutes, small talk about music gave way to pressing, albeit polite, questions on policy.

“I don’t represent any government or political party,” he said. “But perhaps that’s why governments and politicians might be willing to listen to what I have to say.”

Yes, it is a Cuban folk song army. And yes, Tom Lehrer wrote more than forty years ago about folk song armies:

One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk-song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on. The nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good. I have a song here which I realize should be accompanied on a folk instrument in which category the piano does not alas qualify so imagine if you will that I am playing an 88 string guitar.

We are the Folk Song Army.
Everyone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs.
Yeah, but we regard ’em with scorn.
The folks who sing ’em have no social conscience.
Why they don’t even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don’t have to be clever,
And it don’t matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English,
And it don’t even gotta rhyme–excuse me–rhyne.

Remember the war against Franco?
That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

So join in the Folk Song Army,
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready! Aim! Sing!

Rep. Diane Watson probably isn’t that into toilet paper anyway

This morning, I sort of glossed over the story of Representative Diane Watson (a Dem, of course), singing Castro’s praises to high heaven, as part of a broader attack against all of the One’s racist enemies, who are trying to destroy America just to destroy a black man:

Here’s the money quote:

It was just mentioned to me by our esteemed speaker did anyone say anything about the Cuban health system?  Now let me tell you, before you say “Oh [uintelligible]”, you need to go down there and say what Fidel Castro put in place.  And I want you to know now you can think whatever you want to about Fidel Castro, but he was one of the brightest leaders I have ever met.  And you know, the Cuban revolution that kicked out the wealthy, Che Guevara did that.  And then after they took over, they went out among the population to find someone who could lead this new nation.  And they found, well, just leave it there (laughs) an attorney by the name of Fidel Castro.

(Hat tip:  Hot Air)

As I said, I ignored the story because it was just another far Left Dem bad-mouthing America by praising Castro.  I would have continued to ignore it if Sadie hadn’t sent me an email that left me wondering if Ms. Watson would be quite so impressed if found herself in a Cuban hospital, wiping her butt with old newspaper:

There’s good news and bad news in Cuba.

The bad news: There’s a shortage of toilet paper, and officials in Havana say it will not ease until the end of the year.

The good news: Day-old copies of the Communist party’s newspaper Granma, a traditional substitute, are available for less than a U.S. penny. And that’s six to eight full, if rough, pages per day.

Cuban officials say the shortage is the result of the global financial crisis and three devastating hurricanes last summer, which forced cuts in imports as well as domestic production because of reductions in electricity and imports of raw materials.

But CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria says that “at the bottom of this toilet paper shortage is Cuba’s continuing commitment to its bizarro world of socialist economics.”

[snip]

The toilet paper shortage is no joking matter for Cubans.

Toilet paper is not included in the ration card that covers basic goods at highly subsidized prices, so Cubans have long been forced to buy their supplies at so-called “hard currency stores” or use alternatives — Chinese and North Korean magazines have been a favorite because of their soft paper.

I, for one, am betting that, if Ms. Watson visits Cuba, she’s put in a luxury, party-run hotel with lots of Charmin, and taken to the same beautiful, shiny clinics that treat Castro, his buddies, and just about no one else.

Random thoughts about Obama *UPDATED*

Obama made much of the fact that his father was an African immigrant from a small village with goats (or something like that).  Few people have made anything of the flip side of that little bit of bio, which is the fact that the first black president has no connection to America’s slave culture.  This is consistent with the fact that the blacks who get ahead in America tend to be the children of recent immigrants from Africa and the Carribean (think:  Colin Powell), rather than from blacks who trace their American roots much further back than I can trace mine.  I draw no conclusions from this; I just observe.

Obama’s decision to close Gitmo (sort of, maybe) in a year is nicely symbolic, but creates more problems than it solves (and what it solves is merely symbolic too, in that it placates the nutroots).  Closing Gitmo means shutting down a physical site, but one is still left with the problem of the prisoners.  American prisons don’t want them, especially because they’re already struggling with the rise of Islam in prisons, a rise that does not make for docile prison populations, but rather, one that increases the sense of aggression and entitlement.  Releasing these prisoners who, in their own minds, continue to be at war with us, simply puts them back on the field.  The 18th Century concept of a parole (which saw released prisoners promise to refrain from fighting for 18 months) really isn’t a workable concept today.  The most logical option is to build a new facility that’s like Gitmo in all ways except that it’s not called Gitmo — which would be a perfect triumph of form over substance, something I suspect we’ll see with increasing frequency in the “image is everything” Obama presidency.

Also on the subject of Gitmo, this is precisely what John Kerry promised back in 2004 — we’ll turn this icky, politically incorrect war into a police action.  Releasing Gitmo detainees into the criminal justice system is just the first step.  But as many commented back in 2004, police actions are ex post facto.  The person commits the crime and then you catch him.  Bush’s system, mercifully for Americans for all these years, was pro active, stopping terror before it started.  You’re right, Bob, about the inevitable consequences of Obama’s instant back-down.

One more thing:  Suek is absolutely correct that this decision is going to give American troops a much greater incentive to “take no prisoners.”  The POW concept, which is a fairly recent and humane one, removed fighters from the battlefield without killing them.  If the battlefield is going to be turned into a revolving door, the only way American fighters can assure themselves that they won’t find themselves staring down the barrel of the same gun a second time is to disable that gun (and its operator) permanently.

Are any of you surprised the Obama is refusing to speak to the press?  I’m not.  He was able to leapfrog from being a nobody to being a president thanks to the gift the press gave him during the candidacy, which was their willingness not to make serious efforts to speak to him.  He still has nothing to say, but he’s now in a position to impose the cone of silence from above, without being dependent on their slavering good will.

I notice that Obama is urging Israel to create a permeable barrier between itself and Gaza. In the same spirit, I think Obama should do away with the Secret Service.  Indeed, to the extent no one has yet tried to kill Obama (and I pray that no one will), he’s actually in a better position security-wise than Israel, which actually has concrete proof that the people in Gaza mean to put their murderous threats into effect.  To date, I’ve been less impressed with Obama’s much vaunted intelligence than others have been.  I have absolutely no doubt that his is a feral, not a thoughtful, mental strength.  This kind of stupid statement proves me right.

And on a totally un-Obama note, are you as impressed a I am with the progress they’re making in plastics (or is it wax) in Cuba?

UPDATE:  I like Laer’s Gitmo solution, which is sort of the mirror image of my suggestion about Obama, Gaza and the Secret Service.

The upside of technology

It’s often frightening to see how terrorists use technology against freedom. It’s therefore uplifting and refreshing to see people using technology to advance freedom. The New York Times, which has always been dizzyingly respectful of Castro, has pulled a fast U-turn and written a very good article about young people using technology to circumvent Cuba’s dictatorship:

A growing underground network of young people armed with computer memory sticks, digital cameras and clandestine Internet hookups has been mounting some challenges to the Cuban government in recent months, spreading news that the official state media try to suppress.

[snip]

“It passes from flash drive to flash drive,” said Ariel, 33, a computer programmer, who, like almost everyone else interviewed for this article, asked that his last name not be used for fear of political persecution. “This is going to get out of the government’s hands because the technology is moving so rapidly.”

Cuban officials have long limited the public’s access to the Internet and digital videos, tearing down unauthorized satellite dishes and keeping down the number of Internet cafes open to Cubans. Only one Internet cafe remains open in Old Havana, down from three a few years ago.

[snip]

Yet the government’s attempts to control access are increasingly ineffective. Young people here say there is a thriving black market giving thousands of people an underground connection to the world outside the Communist country.

People who have smuggled in satellite dishes provide illegal connections to the Internet for a fee or download movies to sell on discs. Others exploit the connections to the Web of foreign businesses and state-run enterprises. Employees with the ability to connect to the Internet often sell their passwords and identification numbers for use in the middle of the night.

[snip]

Some young journalists have also started blogs and Internet news sites, using servers in other countries, and their reports are reaching people through the digital underground.

Yoani Sánchez, 32, and her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, 60, established Consenso desde Cuba , a Web site based in Germany. Ms. Sánchez has attracted a considerable following with her blog, Generación Y, in which she has artfully written gentle critiques of the government by describing her daily life in Cuba. Ms. Sánchez and her husband said they believed strongly in using their names with articles despite the possible political repercussions.

[snip]

Because Ms. Sánchez, like most Cubans, can get online for only a few minutes at a time, she writes almost all her essays beforehand, then goes to the one Internet cafe, signs on, updates her Web site, copies some key pages that interest her and walks out with everything on a memory stick. Friends copy the information, and it passes from hand to hand. “It’s a solid underground,” she said. “The government cannot control the information.”

It is spread by readers like Ricardo, 28, a philosophy student at the University of Havana who sells memory sticks to other students. European friends buy blank flash drives, and others carry them into Cuba, where the drives available through normal channels are very expensive and scarce.

Like many young Cubans, Ricardo plays a game of cat and mouse with the authorities. He doubts that the government will ever let ordinary citizens have access to the Internet in their homes. “That’s far too dangerous,” he said. “Daddy State doesn’t want you to get informed, so it preventively keeps you from surfing.”

I consider this article a very nice companion piece to the other recent surprising Times article exposing the fact that, when trapped between a fascist local religion and Western Democracy, more and more young Iraqis are doing the politically incorrect thing and opting for the latter.

Thumbing our noses at tyrants

One of the things that puts the Kumbi-ya crowd into an absolute frenzy is President Bush’s refusal to deal directly with murderous dictators. Forgetting the example set by Neville “Peace in Our Time” Chamberlain, this crowd is certain that, if they can just wrest a smile from someone evil, they’ll be halfway to ending all the wars in the world. To that end, Nancy Pelosi gets pally with Syria’s Assad, Columbia rolls out the welcome mat for Ahamdinejad, the New York Philharmonic makes beautiful music for Kim Jong-Il, and presidential contender Barack Obama announces that dictators of the world should line up at his office, because he’d just love to have a chat with them.

Right off the bat, it’s apparent that, for a supposedly smart man, Obama is pretty damn stupid. Negotiation works when both parties have a goal that, in a rational world, can be achieved without destroying the other party to the negotiation. Each side may have to give a little to get a little, but both will walk away have achieved their primary ends. But how do you negotiate with someone whose primary end is your own destruction? What Neville Chamberlain learned, and what Israel demonstrates daily, is that it is impossible to have a good faith negotiation with someone like that. There are only two outcomes in such negotiations: either the other party will lie through its teeth to set the preconditions for your destruction, or you’ll just have to agree to shortcut the whole process by committing suicide.

Such statements about an open door policy for negotiation with any and all comers are especially stupid coming from a man who is not only (at least in theory) a lawyer, but also a law professor. It’s a fundamental principle of law that negotiations, to be valid, have to be in good faith. Otherwise, as any person with on the ground experience knows, they are, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, terribly destructive.

Faced with Obama’s manifest idiocy, George Bush, showing himself to be a smart and righteous man, got all hot under the collar:

At a news conference where Bush showed unusual passion for a president in his waning months, he said “now is not the time” to talk with Castro.

“What’s lost … by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs?” he said. “What’s lost is, it’ll send the wrong message. It’ll send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It’ll give great status to those … who have suppressed human rights and human dignity.

“The idea of embracing a leader who’s done this, without any attempt on his part to … release prisoners and free their society, would be counterproductive and send the wrong signal.”

Warming to the subject, Bush continued: “Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him. He gains a lot from it by saying, ‘Look at me. I’m now recognized by the president of the United States.’”

Good old horse sense, which is sorely lacking on the academic Left, demonstrates the truth behind Bush’s words — you don’t validate evil by treating it as ordinary and respectable. But I don’t need horse sense alone to reach this conclusion. I have testimony from someone who lived under one of the world’s most evil regimes — Communist Russia — and who writes with deep conviction about the strength it gave the Russian anti-Communist opposition to know that, out in the wider world, there were people and governments who willingly and loudly called out evil when they saw it. The testimony of which I speak comes from famed Soviet dissident and political prisoner Natan Sharansky, and is found in his book The Case For Democracy : The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.

Sharansky’s book is a sustained attack against “detente” or normalization of relationships between dictatorships and democracies.  (And isn’t that what Obama is really proposing?)  After detailing the various sophistic arguments (many well-intentioned) that supported the broad detente policy the West adopted vis a vis the USSR, Sharansky explains why it was such a bad policy when it came to dealing with a totalitarian dictatorship:

Fortunately, there were a few leaders in the West who could look beyond the facade of Soviet power to see the fundamental weakness of a state that denied its citizens freedom.  Western policies of accommodation, regardless of their intent, were effectively propping up the Soviet’s tiring arms.  Had that accommodation contined, the USSR might have survived for decades longer.  By adopting a policy of confrontation instead [as Reagan did], an enervated Soviet regime was further burdened.  Amalri’s analysis of Soviet weakness [Andrei Amalrik’s 1969 dissident treatise explaining the fatal cost to a dictatorship of having to “physically and psychologically control[] millions of its own subjects”] was correct because he understood the inherent instability of totalitarian rule.  But the timing of his prediction [that the Soviet Union would not outlast the 1980s] proved accurate only because people both inside and outside the Soviet Union who understood the power of freedom were determined to harness that power.  (p. 11.)

Obama preaches pabulum from the ivory tower; Sharansky speaks truth learned the hard way in a totalitarian society.  Who are you going to believe?  I’m with George Bush, who accepts and understands a Democracy cannot and should not prop up dictators by treating them before the world as if they are just “regular guys.”

This kind of thing could lose Florida for Obama

Little things mean a lot, and some Cuban voters in Florida, who might otherwise have been leaning towards Obama, may back off if they get a gander of his fellow travelers — Obama campaigners who are loud and proud in their support for Castro-ite Cuba and Che Guavara.  There is no indication at all that Obama authorized or even supports what’s going in Texas, but he’d certainly better disassociated himself from it very quickly.

Worshipping killers

The Left (both at home and abroad) likes to revile the infamous American President “Chimpy-BusHitler,” but they seem to be taking a pass on some people that even the Left would have to concede have a bit more blood on their hands. Mike Adams and the American Thinker take on the results of that, shall we say, imbalance in beliefs.

Mike Adams’ target is the Che Guevara worship that infects the self-styled “intelligentsia,” who like to swan around in Che shirts, purses and (my personal favorite), darling little clothes for their babies. Che, after all, say the intellectuals, was a “sincere, “Christ-like” “martyr.” Adams’ suggestion is that his University (UNC-Wilmington) acknowledge all this Che worship and build a Che memorial on campus. He further suggests that the University use the Jefferson Memorial as its guide, and that it cover the walls with Che’s own words:

“A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” Che Guevara.

“If the nuclear missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of America, including New York City.” Che Guevara.

“We will march the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims… We must keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm.” Che Guevara.

“Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial bowl.” Che Guevara.

“Don’t shoot! I’m Che, I’m worth more to you alive than dead.” Che Guevara.

“(T)o execute a man we don’t need proof of his guilt. We only need proof that it’s necessary to execute him. It’s that simple.” Che Guevara.

Wasn’t it Jack Nicholson who blasted Tom Cruise with the words “You can’t handle the truth“? I wonder what the Che faithful will do when confronted with their hero’s blood-soaked feet of clay.

In Britain, they’ve done away with that problem altogether, according to a letter republished at the American Thinker, by simply coming up with an alternative history when it comes to teaching about Hitler:

So waiting for the Dolphin swim at Discovery Cove in Orlando, my daughter Nikki and I were seated with a Brit family–mom, daughter and son. After small talk about the great value of the pound vs the dollar etc, I mentioned that Churchill was one of my heroes. The son, no more than 16 countered that he really liked Hitler, and his sister Gandhi. I was stunned and sickened.

According to him, Hitler was a great leader and did great things for the German people. He brought them out of depression. His quest for land was only to provide “living space” for the German people. The reason for the London bombings was because Britain “carpet bombed” German cities. Hitler had to attack France, for they were a treat to his effort to gain land for living space. The atrocities of the Holocaust were attributed to the fact that he was “mad”, so it wasn’t his fault. In general, his intentions were noble.

In speaking privately with his mother after my discussion, she stated that this is the new curriculum in the British schools to combat “prejudice” against Germans. They teach the children not to “judge” Hitler.

Of course, this won’t be a problem much longer in England. The British have decided to do away with Hitler altogether, along with such iconic British figures as Queen Elizabeth I and Winston Churchill. Makes you wonder how much longer America’s Europe loving intellectuals can continue to pretend that Europeans out pace us educationally.

Delayed recognition re a Castro photo

In yesterday’s Best of the Web, there is a photoshopped picture of Osama Bin Laden.  It took me a minute to recognize that it was pasted over an August picture of Fidel Castro that the Cuban government released to prove that he’s still alive.  Am I only the who finds it ironic that the longest-lasting Communist leader in the world is wearing an Adidas shirt — a perfect capitalist symbol?

Castro’s death watch

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that Fidel Castro is not in some luxury Cuban hospital suite recovering from surgery.  If he were, the press would be inundated with pictures of him, propped him in his hospital bed, holding a cigar, and waving to the camera.  I see him in a secret room with embalming fluid being pumped into him.  This way, once the situation in Cuba is locked up, his body can be paraded around with the assurances that he died unexpectedly, minutes before his body was put on view.

The charade being played out around Castro’s death is, of course, identical to the charade that we saw when Arafat died.  The only difference here is that the perfidious French aren’t hosting the charade.  In the latter case, to the world’s press, the French still had enough credibility to add an air of verisimilitude to an otherwise unconvincing narrative.  There’s no such French cachet here, although the Press seems perfectly content to sit and wait.

In any event, both these dictators’ attenuated, secretive deaths underline the horrors of totalitarian political systems.  Because these leaders rule by force, the assumption is that, if the people learn of their deaths, they will explode in an effort to avoid a new totalitarian dictator from filling the recently vacated shoes.  After all, the transition from one dictator to another is a crack in the system that could be exploited by a disaffected people.  (Ironically, with regard to the Palestinians, those poor people have been so brainwashed that, when they had the chance, they voted in an even worse dictatorship.)

Only a free society can see an orderly transition of power.  That’s why free societies have no compunction about informing the people should a leader die.  For one thing, as in America, with its chain of command, the people already know who will take over.  Indeed, the Vice President is part of the package people consider when electing the President.  In addition, people know that, even if they’re less than thrilled about the temporary leader, they’ll soon get a chance to state their preferences at the polls.