Saturday, November 26, 2016

Repost: He Made a Wasteland Out of Cuba, But It's Okay: He's Deeply Spiritual

The day after the long-awaited death of Fidel Castro is announced seems a good day to re-publish a post that originally went up on February 26, 2007.  

It also seems like a good day to congratulate ourselves on having elected as president a man who comes up with absolutely the most appropriate response to the death of Castro (after praying for his spotted soul and celebrating with cigars and madeira):
Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.
While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.
Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty. I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.
At long last, the Washington Post brings us the news the English-speaking world has been waiting for: a joyous end to its long deprivation of the English language translation of Fidel Castro's Cartas del Presidio, the 21 letters the future Maximum Leader (shown here spooning with Nikita Khruschev) penned from the hoosegow in the early 1950s. Gushes Ann Louise Bardach, co-editor of The Prison Letters of Fidel Castro: "[T]his collection of Castro's writings -- virtually the only unofficial writing he ever did -- has become something of a Rosetta Stone for historians, biographers and journalists seeking to understand the man who would become Cuba's ruler for life." She goes on: "The letters amply illustrate Castro's many gifts: his formidable erudition, strategic thinking and natural leadership. They are also an early indicator of his Machiavellian cunning and his genius for public relations. And they dramatize his resentments and rages....What must this intensely proud and private man have felt about the public disclosures of his recent medical travails, in which every inch of his intestines has become fodder for the world media?"

Coming up for air out of our barf bags, we see what it is that passes for deep spirituality in the insane world of Castro and his fawning minions. Immediately after describing how, in 1969, Castro outlawed the celebration of Christmas in Cuba, Barlach, apparently impervious to irony, rhapsodizes: "And yet the letters suggest that Castro was a man of unusual spiritual depth -- and a fervent believer in God." Exhibit A: a polysyllabic-word-laden excerpt from a letter to the father of a fallen revolutionary thug:
I will not speak of him as if he were absent, he has not been and he will never be. These are not mere words of consolation. Only those of us who feel it truly and permanently in the depths of our souls can comprehend this. Physical life is ephemeral, it passes inexorably. . . . This truth should be taught to every human being -- that the immortal values of the spirit are above physical life. What sense does life have without these values? What then is it to live? Those who understand this and generously sacrifice their physical life for the sake of good and justice -- how can they die? God is the supreme idea of goodness and justice.
Castro certainly ought to know about the ephermeral nature of human life, as a life-long specialist in rendering as ephemeral as possible the lives of anybody who gets in his way. As to God being the "supreme idea" of goodness and justice, somehow Barlach misses this clue to Castro's true belief system, pursuant to which it is held that man created God, instead of the other way around. But no matter: at long last, the Left has found a "fervent believer in God" that it can live with -- one who proves his "unusual spiritual depth" by:

-- Being ruled by pride, as when he flew into a rage upon discovering that his wife, Mirta, accepted a modest government stipend in order to keep body and soul together while Castro rotted in prison: "I never imagined that Rafael [his brother-in-law] could be such a scoundrel and that he had become so corrupted; I cannot conceive how he could have so pitilessly sacrificed the honor and name of his sister, exposing her to eternal shame and humiliation...." Meeting life's basic requirements is counterrevolutionary.

-- Learning the wrong lessons in the School of Suffering: "It is a chore to push away the mortal hatreds that seek to invade my heart. I do not know if there is anyone who has suffered more in these past days. It has been a terrible and decisive test, with the capacity of quashing the last atom of kindness and purity in my soul, but I have made a pledge to myself to persevere until death. . . . After such weeping and sweating of blood, what is left for one to learn in the school of sorrow?" Any number of real martyrs could have supplied him with a few ideas.

-- Getting divorced and waging all-out war from the joint for custody of his son: "I do not care one bit if this battle drags on till the end of the world. If they think they can exhaust my patience and, based on this, that I am going to concede -- they are going to find that I am wrapped in Buddhist tranquility and am prepared to reenact the famous Hundred Years War -- and win it! To these private matters, add my reflection on the political panorama -- and it will not be difficult to imagine that I will leave this prison as the man of iron." A paragon of parental love and self-sacrifice.

Taking a mistress, Maria Laborde: "The inscription on your card was so beautifully written, I have set my hope on the pleasure of soon receiving a letter from you, with the only variant that you use 'tu' instead of 'usted.' Could this be too much to hope?" Apparently not, since he went on to father an illegitimate child with Laborde.

This is to say nothing of what Castro would go on to do over the course of an ignominious career:

-- Impose Communism on his hapless people and reducing them to a state of grinding poverty

-- Suppress individual liberty, including freedom of worship

-- Threaten the United States with nuclear war

-- Aggress against neighbors, such as the Carribbean island nation of Grenada

-- Imprison and torture political dissidents for decades without a trial

-- Murder political dissidents and other threats to his regime

It's true: the Castro letters from the joint reveal a great deal about the man -- a great deal too much, if his partisans were not too blind to see it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cui Bono?

"The famous Lucius Cassius,
whom the Roman people used
to regard as a very honest and
wise judge, was in the
habit of asking, time
and again, 'Cui bono?
 To whose benefit?'"
Can today's level of liberal dismay and cognitive dissonance be overstated?  For a long time, and especially the last eight years, the liberals have, or seem to have had, a lock on society at all levels, all over the world.  Even the Catholic Church is choked with leftists, all the way to the top of the hierarchy.  The liberals were certain of their hegemony.  But in A.D. 2016, the bunker has been busted.  In June, the United Kingdom voted to detach herself from the Soviet Union's velvet-upholstered successor, the European Union.  And now, in the States, a man who has never held political office or served in the military, who has been relentlessly ridiculed and savaged in the media, has trounced the heiress-apparent to Obama's neo-Marxist empire.  Not only that: the Party of Hillary has failed to gain a majority in the House or the Senate, and has lost control of all but five states and numerous local offices.

And the left is stunned.  Their frenzy and hysteria could not be greater if Old Scratch himself were elected president (assuming they believed in such a person).  Yet there is a clear disconnect for liberals between their outrage over the election of Chief Deputy Devil Trump and real life.  How do they handle their friends and relations who they know voted for Trump?  How do they account for people they know who have never hitherto shown the slightest inclination toward racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, phobophobia, etc., etc., etc. suddenly popping up and voting for a candidate they say embodies all these things?  Are they to believe that every single one of these people was a crypto-[insert prejudice-du-jour here] and it never emerged until now, despite countless opportunities to forward an Agenda of Hate?  The Hillary supporters I associate with daily have not changed their behavior toward me, as surely they should if I am really as low as I'd have to be to vote for a guy that is really as evil as they think Trump is.

It is hard to have to face up even to the possibility that one's world view might be somewhat off.  So for the last week the liberals have been taking comfort in the wearing of diaper pins, and in the notion that their side is being vindicated by events.  I refer not to the professional rioters out pillaging big cities to prove that Trump's election was fixed -- although we could talk about that -- but specifically to the "hate crimes" and "harassment" that minorities are allegedly suffering at the hands of Trump supporters.  See? they say.  We told you so!  We told you America would become a mean, dangerous place with Trump in the White House, and it's already starting even before the electoral college!  Ideology is so important to some people that they clearly devoutly wish it to be true that their fellow, flesh-and-blood human beings are being subjected to torments and degradations in Trump's name.  I think there are many out there who would be positively crestfallen to discover that this is not happening.

And I shall enjoy seeing their crests fall.  It is daily becoming more obvious that these harassment stories are being weighed in the balance and found wanting.  A woman who claimed a redneck in a Trump hat stole her hijab in Lafayette, Louisiana, later admitted to having made the whole thing up.  A story about a racial assault in Philadelphia, with enough idiotic specifics to check against the facts, proved to be groundless.  And then there is the gay Canadian filmmaker and his unsubstantiated story that even Snopes cannot get on board with.  Even anti-Trump types have come under fire as far-right fanatics, like the guy in San Francisco who flew a Nazi flag over his home to protest the election result.

But even setting aside debunked stories, I am calling Bravo Sierra on these "hate crimes" allegedly committed by Trump supporters.  These stories simply do not pass the smell test:

1. I voted for Trump, and I do not recognize myself in the caricature of Trump voters that is being put out there.  These "hate crimes" clearly reflect the left's cartoonish image of Trump supporters and what they believe, rather than reality.

2. The evidence offered to support these stories ranges from non-existent to...well, next-to-non-existent.  Mostly the existence of a report of an incident is the only evidence, even though an accusation is never evidence.  Many reports are pure hearsay, or hearsay upon hearsay.  The person passing on a report often claims or implies that the source is unimpeachable, but never names this source or tells us whether he questioned the source live and in person, or read it on social media, where anybody can say anything about anything.  Some people cite to the existence of photos or videos, as if these can never be photoshopped or staged (and where, by the way, is the moral outrage at the cameraman who is videotaping an assault with his phone instead of using that phone to call the police?).  Others cite to the sheer volume of reports as proof of their believability, adding another honoree to the Non Sequitur Hall of Fame.  Instead of producing competent evidence of Trump-supporter malfeasance, the proponents of these stories accuse anyone who so much as questions them of "creating an environment" that "silences" the victims.  In other words, (a) it doesn't matter whether these reports are true, and (b) my use of my right to free speech oppresses assault victims.

3. Fraudulent hate crimes are a standard leftist tactic.  During my university days, radical activists liked to stage some sort of "assault" at one of their sparsely-attended demonstrations, or claim to have "found" a racist message on a chalkboard in an empty classroom, just to liven things up.  The evidence that these incidents were other than the work of those who reported them was nugatory at best; and the question that never got answered was why, if this is such a racist/sexist/bigot/homophobe/etc.-ophobe society, there was a need to gin up fake evidence to prove it.

4. Conservatives prefer to stomp liberals in the voting booth rather than in the street.  We work hard to earn the money to buy clothes and would rather not bloody them up needlessly.

5. Conservatives would not profit by resorting to desperate tactics of street-thuggery after chasing the Party of Hillary out of the White House, the House, the Senate, 45 governorships, and numerous local offices.

6. Conservatives are too busy trying to lead productive lives to engage in brigandage.  This may come as a shock, but we are really quite ordinary, boring people whose idea of raising hell is to add an extra tablespoon of melted butter to the popcorn.  We do not live for the thrill of imprisonment, as this would interfere with getting up and going to work in the morning.  (Probably most people who vote Democrat are the same way; otherwise, we wouldn't need professional rioters to loot and pillage in the wake of an election.)

All we really need to do is ask ourselves: who wants these "hate crime"/"harassment" stories to be true?  Who needs these stories to be true?  Who profits if they are true?  Is it really plausible that Trump supporters want to look like a bunch of bigots?  Or is it more plausible that liberal leftists want Trump supporters to look like a bunch of bigots?

Cui bono?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

President Trump

Before I read any commentary on the election, a few of my own thoughts.

Am I happy Trump won?  I am happy Hillary lost.  My support for Trump was based not on personalities, but on issues.  Trump has articulated positions congenial to conservatives, but is in some ways an unknown quantity: he has never held public office -- which I don't hold against him -- and he has changed his tune over the years on certain things.  I cannot be certain he will defend and advance authentic conservative values across the board.  Plus, Trump has a reputation, deserved or not, of being a rude, crude dude.  Hillary, on the other hand, is an absolute certainty.  She is certainty a hard leftist, and will advance the causes dear to hard leftists.  She supports the dismantling of bedrock societal institutions and the killing of babies in their mothers' wombs.  She is a sworn enemy of religious freedom in general, and the Catholic Church and all that the Catholic Church stands for in particular.  She thinks deeply held religious beliefs that are not congruent with her own ideology must be changed, and has said so publicly.  How would she propose to "change" these deeply-held beliefs, except by means of the coercive police power of the state?

Neither of these candidates was A-list, in my judgment, but I did not see this election as a question of choosing the lesser of two evils.  Rather, the question was how to minimize the damage and choose the course that had the better chance of turning out well.  Which one of these candidates would be more likely to further America's best interests?  Which one would unquestionably be an unmitigated disaster?  The answer seemed to me clear.  It was essential that Hillary be defeated.  The stakes seemed to me too high for sitting out the election to be an option, so the question was, where would I cast my vote?  When I weighed the certainties of Hillary against the uncertainties of Trump, and factored in the utter futility of supporting any third-party candidate, the decision to vote for Trump seemed to me a no-brainer.  Other people came to a different conclusion and either sat out the election altogether or voted third-party.  I can understand their reasoning, though I do not agree with it.  Happily, the abstainers and the third-party voters were not numerous enough to make a difference to the result.

So we will see what happens from here.  The future is uncertain (though it would have been certainly bad if Hillary had won), but there are hopeful signs.  That all the right people are under a black cloud this morning is encouraging.  Donald Trump is clearly hated and despised by the establishment types, including the media.  This was obvious in how the media held out calling Florida for Trump even with more than 99% of precincts reporting; and the broadcast media, including Fox News, held off calling the election for Trump even after the New York Times threw in the towel.  Leftists in Europe are clutching their pearls.  Celebrities are threatening to leave the country (promises, promises). 

Unfortunately, many of my friends and colleagues are in the doldrums too; but, to the extent they truly esteem me, I wonder if they thought through the fact that they supported a woman who would have subjected me, an observing Catholic, to all-out persecution if she had attained power.  Perhaps some of them are really indifferent to my well-being.  Perhaps their animosity toward the Catholic Church takes priority over any interest in my well-being. Perhaps this is an example of the incoherence of post-modern thought, pursuant to which beliefs are merely comforting abstractions that you can hold without actually applying them in real life; and since many of them pay lip service to beliefs which they clearly do not actually live out, they assume that I must do the same with my Catholic faith -- little thinking that if I take my faith seriously, then opposition to it must ultimately mean opposition to me personally.  But the reality is that there is indeed a connection between ideas and real life, and therefore there is personal responsibility for the consequences of the ideas one holds.

To echo a well-known blogging priest, I would have voted for the rotting, decaying corpse of Millard Fillmore to keep Hillary out of the White House.  Some would probably say I have; some might think I have done worse than that.  I dissent from their views, and choose to look out over the horizon with hope.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Getting Out the Vote: Election Thoughts

We created a haven of freedom in a world governed by brutal tyranny. 
We invented the airplane, mass-manufactured automobiles, and pioneered space travel. 
We produce enough food to feed ourselves and the rest of the world. 
We give massively to charity and send emergency relief to disaster areas around the world. 
We crushed Hitler, bankrupted the Soviet Union, and beat those commie bastards to the moon.
We brought the Apollo 13 astronauts back home using pencils, papers and slide rules.
We have been the freest country on earth, where millions have flourished throughout her history. 
No matter what happens today, nobody can ever take any of this away from us.

-- What was the point of early voting?  Let people vote on Election Day.

-- I was at my polling place before it opened this morning, and there was already a line starting.  By the time I got my ballot and got into my voting booth, the joint was jumping.  As the poll worker looked for my name through her roster of registered voters, I noticed that a lot of people were marked as having already voted. I don't recall things being so busy and lively at the last presidential election.
One Idaho county reports that they ran out of ballots and had to have more printed.

-- While I do not think Donald Trump is another Reagan, I do see similarities between this election and 1980.  Reagan was widely ridiculed by the media and the intelligentsia, as Trump is.  Reagan was not beloved of the GOP establishment, as Trump is not.  Reagan had been divorced, like Trump.  Reagan polled behind Carter, like Trump has polled behind Clinton.  And, of course, Reagan absolutely crushed Carter in a landslide, and repeated his performance on an even greater scale four years later against Mondale.

-- My conclusion about this election is that it is absolutely essential to defeat Hillary.  Trump is in some ways an unknown quantity; we know what he says now about the issues, and that this does not match what he has previously said about those same issues.  Hillary, however, is very much a known quantity, and a very bad quantity.  We can be absolutely certain that her victory would be a disaster.  That is why I decided that it would be a waste to vote for a non-viable third-party candidate.  A vote for a third-party candidate nearly always constitutes a vote for the Democrats.

-- This election also makes me think of the 1990 election of Violeta Chamorro in Nicaragua, when the voters dumped socialist Daniel Ortega.  P.J. O'Rourke covered this election and reported having gone in with a sense of discouragement over the widespread belief that the Sandinistas would win.  He said the high level of turnout should have been a clue that the conventional wisdom was not so wise after all.  People do not show up in their droves, from the ass-end of nowhere, he remarked, to maintain the status quo.

-- Hence my theory of this election: high turnout means a victory for Trump.  I doubt people will flock to the polls to vote in Obama 2.0.

We shall see.