Category Archives: History


I know what I’m going to get my college-age niece for Christmas.

Che Is A Douche Shirt

[Update a couple minutes later]

Fidel Castro dies, Justin Troudeau hardest hit:

And so, from far-off Antananarivo, Madagascar, where he was attending the 80-government gathering of La Francophonie, Trudeau’s lament for the last of the Cold War dictators ended up confirming every wicked caricature of his own vacuity and every lampoon of the Trudeau government’s foreign-policy lack of seriousness.

Twitter lit up with hilarious mockeries under the hashtag #trudeaueulogies. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wanted to know whether Trudeau’s statement came from a parody account. The impeccably liberal Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic magazine, called Trudeau’s praise of Castro “a sad statement for the leader of a democracy to make.”

Whether or not Trudeau saw any of this coming, he didn’t appear to notice that he was delivering a speech to La Francophonie delegates in Madagascar that emphasized justice for lesbian, gay and transgender people, while from the other side of his mouth he was praising the legacy of a caudillo who spent the first decade of his rule rounding up gay people for “re-education” in labour camps. Homosexuals were irredeemably bourgeois maricones and agents of imperialism, Castro once explained.

To be perfectly fair, Trudeau did allow that Castro was a “controversial figure,” and nothing in his remarks was as explicit as the minor classic in the genre of dictator-worship that his brother Alexandre composed for the Toronto Star 10 years ago. Alexandre described Castro as “something of a superman. . . an expert on genetics, on automobile combustion engines, on stock markets. On everything.” As for the Cuban people: “They do occasionally complain, often as an adolescent might complain about a too strict and demanding father.”

This kind of Disco Generation stupidity about Castro has been commonplace in establishment circles in Canada since Pierre’s time, and neither Alexandre’s gringo-splaining nor Justin’s aptitude for eulogy are sufficient to gloss over the many things Cubans have every right to complain about.

….For all the parochial Canadian susceptibility to the propaganda myth that pits a shabby-bearded rebel in olive fatigues against the imperialist American hegemon, by the time he died on Friday night Castro was one of the richest men in Latin America. Ten years ago, when he was handing the presidency to Raúl, Forbes magazine calculated that Fidel’s personal wealth was already nearly a billion dollars.

In his twilight years, Castro was enjoying himself at his gaudy 30-hectare Punto Cero estate in Havana’s suburban Jaimanitas district, or occasionally retreating to his private yacht, or to his beachside house in Cayo Piedra, or to his house at La Caleta del Rosario with its private marina, or to his duck-hunting chalet at La Deseada.

Fidel Castro was not merely the “controversial figure” of Justin Trudeau’s encomium. He was first and foremost a traitor to the Cuban revolution. On that count alone, Castro’s death should not be mourned. It should be celebrated, loudly and happily.

Indeed. I’ve found the Trudeau worship even more ridiculous than the adulation of the God Obama. I’d be profoundly embarrassed to be a Canadian.

Fidel Castro

He’s dead.

Hardest hit: Colin Kaepernick.

OK, actually, in the wake of that, NFL is hardest hit.

More substantial thoughts tomorrow.

[Update a few minutes later]

If we can lose a few more tyrants, that wouldn’t be a bad way to end the year.

[Sunday update]

Castro, Chavez, and “bad luck.”

[Monday-morning update]

A dictator dies a failure:

Lee Kwan Yew, Augusto Pinochet, Francisco Franco, Chiang Kai Shek, Park Chung-he: all of these dictators and authoritarians can mock Fidel Castro. They left their countries better off than they found them, and while many of them committed terrible crimes, they can also point to great accomplishments. Fidel has only the crimes.

Fidel never wanted “normalization” of economic relations with the United States. Normalization would mean the end of his dream. Without barriers, Cuban-Americans in Miami would buy back much of the island from its current owners, re-installing themselves as leaders in the society from which he hoped to banish them forever. Amrerican trade and American tourism would once more become the most important factors in Cuba’s economy, and American cultural and poltiical influence would flow unrestricted across the island on a tide of American media.

The openings Castro allowed, very limited in the Clinton years, wider in the Obama years, were forced on him by economic necessity. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s forced Castro to allow more remittances from Miami and to open up the island to more tourism to stave off a crisis at home. The collapse of Venezuela in the Obama years has once more driven Cuba to the wall. In the end, Fidel became what he hated most: a failed Latin caudillo, presiding over a corrupt and despairing society, propped up by the Catholic Church and the United States.

Nobody knew this better than Fidel Castro, and he must sometimes have cursed the fate that let him outlive not only the global socialist movement led by the Soviet Union but the regional socialist resurgence led by Venezuela. The failure of the Venezuelan revolution stripped the last shreds of credibility away from Fidel’s socialist dream. Not even a country awash in oil, facing no U.S. trade embargo, can make socialism work in Latin America. And it was the failure of Venezuela, and the loss of the economic subsidies that Chavez lavished on his mentor and inspirer Fidel Castro, that plunged Cuba back into its post-Soviet poverty and forced Fidel to remain silent as his brother Raul accepted the return of American tourists and an American ambassador to Havana.

Fidel leaves a shattered society and a desperately poor country behind him. Cuba is more divided today than it was when he conquered it; it is less able to shape its destiny than it was in 1959, and its future will likely be more closely linked to the United States after his death than before his seizure of power.

The good thing is, he died.

[Update a few minutes later]

Where’s the omelet?

As Heinlein once noted, a good cook can make a tasty meal from good ingredients, while an incompetent one can create an inedible mess from the same materials. Cuba had, and still has, great ingredients. As Will notes, Castro broke the eggs, but the meal never appeared.

[Tuesday-morning update]

Castro bet on the wrong horse, and died a failure.

Well, if you consider dying filthy rich by stealing from the people you oppressed and murdered a failure, I guess.


The Democrat Party

lurches to the Left:

This contrasts with the 1990s, when a group of party activists consciously rebuilt the party to appeal to middle-class Americans. Groups like the Democratic Leadership Council — for whose think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, I worked for several years — pushed notions of personal responsibility, welfare reform, tough crime policies and economic growth that, embraced by Bill Clinton, expanded the party’s base in the Midwest, the Appalachians and even the Southeast.

Such a shift to the middle is unlikely today. Progressives generally see Hillary Clinton’s loss as largely a rejection of her husband’s neoliberal policies and want to push the party further to the left.

This parallels developments in the United Kingdom, where, following their defeat in 2015, the Labour Party promoted a far-left figure, Jeremy Corbyn, as its leader. This was driven by grassroots progressives — deeply green, multiculturalist and openly socialist. Many, including several high up in Labour’s parliamentary party, believe the party has little chance to win under such leadership.

Democrats face a similar dilemma. Driven by their dominant academic and media “thought police,” any shift to the middle on issues like crime, climate change or regulation now seems unimaginable. Self-described progressives who now dominate the party generally adhere to a series of policies — from open borders to draconian climate change policies — that are unlikely to play well outside the coastal enclaves.

Obama’s only legacy will be the loss of the House, the Senate, dozens of statehouses and governor’s mansions, and the White House:

Whatever precise form Mr Trump’s administration takes, we know this: Mr Obama’s legacy will be purged. In many cases all it will take is the stroke of Mr Trump’s pen.

The Obama erasure will go far deeper than undoing domestic laws, or foreign deals. Mr Trump will repeal Obamacare, or alter it beyond recognition. He will “keep an open mind” about whether to pull the US out of the Paris agreement on climate change and quite probably blow up the US-Iran nuclear deal. These acts would undo Mr Obama’s most visible achievements. Less obvious ones, such as the ban on Arctic drilling and enhanced interrogation techniques and the intention of closing Guantánamo Bay (never completed) will also be consigned to the dustbin. It will be as if Mr Obama was never here.

And in most cases, that will be a good thing. Live by the pen and the phone, die by the pen and the phone. And I hope that Nancy Pelosi survives as the minority “leader.” It will simply continue the historically racist party’s decline.

Animals Living In Our Houses

Why is it happening?

As that great philosopher Homer J. Simpson once said, “Animals are crapping in our houses, and we’re cleaning it up. That’s not America! It’s not even Mexico!”

Seriously I’d say that we domesticated dogs, but cats (along with grass) domesticated us. And it’s worth noting, which the article doesn’t, that cat’s haven’t really been domesticated; they too have been tamed, and generally require taming from birth. Feral cats, after a certain age, regardless of their ancestry, will generally remain wild.

Trump, And Anti-Semitism

Yes, like Bethany Mandel, I’d take them a little more seriously if they’d ever shown any concern about it when it comes so abundantly from the Left:

The increased focus on anti-Semitism has, of course, only been borne out of the fact that the supposed offender and his supporters have a capital R after their names. Would the media have been so concerned about an outbreak of hatred against a religious group had it originated out of a Democratic campaign? Given the water-carrying the media has been willing to do for Democrats who on one hand breathlessly warned about a “War on Women” in 2012 while still eulogizing Ted Kennedy, a beloved Democrat who killed an actual woman in 1969, it would be a good bet to wager that maniac supporters and a few campaign dog whistles would’ve been hastily ignored from a different party.


Quantity Versus Quality

This is an old post, but it’s worth a repost with all of the nonsense this week about how Hillary should be president because she won (or is winning — I think they’re still counting) the popular vote:

It would be perfectly constitutional for the electors to be chosen by throwing darts at a phone book, by elimination from a reality show, or a mass tournament of pistols at dawn, as long as the legislature so stipulated. That was the degree to which the Founders thought that the states should have leeway in determining how they determined their electors. This is a very important point to make when arguing with modern democraphiles about ending the Electoral College and electing the president by popular vote.

Not also my broader point:

Many (in fact, many too many) in government imagine that their job is to create more government. As three examples, legislators think they’re supposed to pass legislation, diplomats think that (among other things) they’re supposed to get treaties signed and ratified, and regulators think that they’re supposed to create regulations. They are encouraged in this by many fools in the press who actually consider legislation sponsored and passed into law (particularly when it has a lawmaker’s name on it) to be a figure of merit to be touted as part of his record for reelection, or election to a higher office. Legislators who have passed lots of legislation, or secretaries of state who get lots of treaties ratified are lionized in the media, while those who do neither are denigrated as “do nothings.” All this, of course, despite whether or not the legislation passed, treaty ratified, or regulation created was actually a good idea.

But in fact, those are not their jobs. Their jobs are described in the Preamble. They are: “…to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [common spelling at the time], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Passing legislation, ratifying treaties, promulgating regulations are means to those ends but, despite the title, it is not a legislator’s job to legislate per se. It is not a diplomat’s job to ratify a treaty per se. It is not a regulator’s job to regulate per se. Those are simply tools granted them by the Constitution to carry out their true jobs, as defined above.

I’d also note that, contra the more-recent nonsense about how the Senate wasn’t “doing its job” with regard to Merrick Garland, it has no Constitutional “duty” to advise and consent. It only has the power.

In Flanders Fields

Poppy Fields

It’s hard to believe that in two years, it will have been a full century since the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the armistice was signed, silencing finally the guns and ending the Great War. Almost a century ago, my paternal grandfather, a recent immigrant from what is now Poland, was sent back to Europe to fight in it. Unfortunately, the war’s end only planted the seeds for another worse one, and a little over two decades later, his only child, my father, at the age of eighteen, flew in a B-25 Mitchell bomber to Italy via Ascension Island to man a radio and waist gun in it.

No one who fought in the first one is any longer with us, and the ranks of those who fought in the second one are rapidly diminishing, as it too passes out of living memory. I didn’t serve, but if I had, I’d have wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force (my prescription for eyeglasses in the third grade put an end to that). But I remain grateful to all who have.

I hope that one of Trump’s highest priorities is to fix the VA system, the lack of addressing which is one of the many things for which Barack Obama would be ashamed, if he had any shame. And if you want to see how a single-payer government healthcare system would work, just ask a vet.

[Update a while later]

The Washington Examiner agrees with me on the latter point:

Now that the long, bitter 2016 election is over, Americans are free to stop thinking about the VA scandal as a partisan issue. It’s a new day, and partisans need not become defensive about the agency’s disgraceful treatment and broken promises.

Vets will now turn to President-elect Trump with their concerns. He won many of their votes because he was willing to shine a light on the problem, rather than dismiss it, as his opponent did, as “not widespread.”

“The VA is, really you could say is almost a corrupt enterprise,” Trump declared at one point. At another: “Our vets, our most cherished people, thousands of people are dying waiting on line to see a doctor.” His simple promise: “We are going to make it efficient and good.”

Let’s hope he does. Bold words will not be enough. We sincerely hope Trump follows through ruthlessly on this promise. If so, he will have done the nation a true and necessary service, and he will deserve the gratitude even of the tens of millions who voted against him.

We’ll see.

Political Ignorance

It’s time to start taking it seriously:

You don’t have to be a libertarian skeptic about government to worry about political ignorance. Indeed, the greater the role you want democratic government to play in society, the more you have reason to worry about the quality of voter decision-making. The more powerful the state is, the greater the harm it can cause if ignorant voters entrust that power to the wrong hands. Here too, the rise of Trump is a warning we should take seriously. He is not the first or (most likely) the last demagogue of his kind.

I have long argued that we can best alleviate the dangers of political ignorance by limiting and decentralizing the power of government, and enabling people to make more decisions by “voting with their feet” rather than at the ballot box. Foot voters deciding where they want to live or making choices in the private sector have much stronger incentives to become well-informed than ballot box voters do. There is much we can do to enhance opportunities for foot voting, particularly among the poor and disadvantaged. Limiting and decentralizing government power could also reduce the enormous scope and complexity of the modern state, which make it virtually impossible for voters to keep track of more than a small fraction of its activities.

But I am open to considering a variety of other possible strategies for addressing the problem, including voter education initiatives, and “sortition,” directly incentivizing citizens to increase their knowledge, among others. Perhaps the best approach to is a combination of different measures, not relying on some one silver bullet.

A large part of the problem is the public-education system (and academia), which is doing a terrible job of explaining civics (and history), because the Left finds an ignorant populace not only convenient, but essential.