From the Bild (Germany), sort of their NY Post:
Warum wir den Kampf gegen ISIS gerade verlieren!
From a local paper:
Obama finaliza su histórica visita a Cuba
From Paris, some gems from Le Monde (their official paper), such as a commentary on the need for every citizen to be vigilant… but also an interesting wake up call: Après l’attaque de Bruxelles, l’example israélien examiné de près. You get the drift, the Israelis defend themselves, hadn’t thought o’ that!
I am presently on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, a cute and peaceful little tropical country that has no terrorist emergency and practically no security forces. They established diplomatic relations with Cuba about eight years ago, I gather, without much changing their view of Cuba, which is that it is a sad story, a nice island captured by a grim totalitarian gang half a century ago, its people held hostage. It appears the U.S. is going to finally cough up the ransom, which amounts to this: You keep your filthy Yankee noses out of our affairs and we will tell you what it costs to do business here. Keeping the gangsters in business being the first order of business. And needless to say, Yankee traders will jump right in. They always do.
Returning to my headlines, I’m not really surprised. Either about Brussels or the Euroreaction to Brussels, or about our president doing what he likes to do. Sure, it’s embarrassing. As between Mr. Trump’s rhetorical style and Mr. Obama’s policy-making style, there are those who say the one led directly to the other. They are mistaken, because if you want to play the blame game, we have had nothing but failed presidencies since Ronald Reagan, and finally the bill’s come due.
It’s come due in the form an administration that has spent two terms getting — by design — into completely unnecessary trouble, while consistently and without the slightest suggestion that a little introspection might be called for, rejecting the very suggestion that it might have some responsibility for anything that’s gone wrong.
The bill’s also come due in the form of a candidate who is saying out loud what a lot of people think but are afraid to say. Because part of the problem with three failed presidencies is that it has given a very wide opening to what we call politically correct speech but what Eric Blair far more aptly termed “smelly little orthodoxies.” The inability of grown men to resist them, despite the stink, is really quite remarkable. On the tennis tour last week, Raymond Moore, director for some three decades of the Indian Wells tournament that is currently owned by Larry Ellison, made a comment on pay parity between men and women players. Practically every one in tennis jumped on him as a “sexist,” and Larry Ellison, one of the richest men on earth, accepted his resignation. Novak Djokovic, after getting beat up by the tennis press for a mild suggestion that the comment was not without some economic merit, backtracked with the usual apology and confessed to supporting “women power.” What is the point of being the world’s richest man or the world’s best tennis player if you cannot speak freely?
But we must not overlook the difference, which is substantial. One fellow, some people find him offensive. But hey, it’s a free country and he is a candidate without the responsibilities of office. The other fellow, he is offensive. People are suffering, and you can even make the case, dying, because of official United States policies, for which he is responsible. The buck has to stop somewhere, you know? That is a substantial difference and it is as far as I want to get into the pro and anti Trump debate because my pals on this paper are doing fine without me. TAS is the one organ of the right where there actually has been some debate rather than dismay at the thought of the help getting uppity. Because that, frankly, is the substance of the case they’ve been making against Donald Trump.
When I am away from home, even in a little tropical surf camp where the only matter on any one’s mind is the kind of waves we’re going to have today, I can’t help glancing at the local press, and that leads to getting curious about the foreign press generally, and with the Internet — definitely a mixed blessing of techno-scientific progress, but so is the automobile — a guy with my weaknesses just can’t resist. Some day I guess I’ll grow up and be able to resist. But I get up at dawn and check the air and figure the beach is out there and there’s a wave coming in from over the horizon with my name on it, and by the time it gets here I can check out a few news stories, dismal and depressing.
Pal of mine, lives on some public courts on the east side of Washington and hell of a player despite advancing age, always says, “Whatcha worryin’ ’bout what yo’ caint do nothin’ ’bout, anyhow?” In the version of a west side sharpie who has made a fortune living on the public trough, the same wisdom comes out: “If you are unhappy here, go west. Or south. Whatever.”
Well, the Brussels attack comes about four months after the second wave of attacks on Paris, and you have to agree with Bild when they say that as matters stand we (they are talking about the Europeans) are losing the war. You would think that with the Paris attacks planned and coordinated out of Brussels, all of Flanders and Wallonia would be in a state of highest alert for at least four months, and improving its defenses by the day, preparing to go on offense, etcetera.
You would think after decades of blaming Israel for all the woes of the Middle East, a paper like Le Monde would have a little more respect for the fair-and-accurate rule than to say blithely and without apology that maybe the security system at Ben Gurion Airport — best in the world, it acknowledges grudgingly — ought maybe to merit a look-see.
You would think maybe instead of saluting a totalitarian and terror-exporting regime in Havana, the President of the U.S. would make a stop at San Jose, capital of this little tropical success story here that is, as it happens, the only country in the region that functions well. The only Spanish-speaking one, I mean: there is us, as we are in the same hemisphere, and if you want to leave us out of the comparison, there is Barbados, English-speaking gem, which was Alexander Hamilton’s home. Or maybe he was from Trinidad, I always forget. Hamilton, Adams — can you imagine those men standing in front of a mural depicting a serial killer in a hostile enemy country and saying Yeah, man, America is so full of evil I can dig your position on what a bunch a’ sh**s we are! And hey, I dig your m.o. with those b**s in white, gotta hand it to you. Good line for my hip-hop pals, I’ll pass it to them — “B** in white, think yo’ so right, wait ’till yo get a taste o my might!”
Whoa, sitting on the beach is inspirational for poets, ain’t it!
You would think that after 50 years of totalitarianism in Cuba, a few foreign editors would be around to tell their reporters to refrain from being useful idiots. Even the perfunctory lines about how the prez would meet with dissidents was a kind of insult to the captive nation, because it leaves so much out, including the simple fact that while he is meeting with this or that acceptable dissident, the others are being tortured and murdered.
How in the world, a proper editor would ask himself, can we run that pic of the prez on the Plaza de la Revolución with el comandante Che in the background mural, and not instruct his rewrite man to make sure to include Guevara’s most famous line, “Do we shoot people? Of course we shoot people!” I’ve scoured the media in vain this week for that and come up empty.
The actual line, if you want to know — the man pronounced it in New York City, at the U.N. in fact, and we neither (a) closed down the U.N. nor (b) arrested the perp on the spot — was as follows: “Fusilamos, y seguiremos fusilando en cuanto sea necesario. Nuestra lucha es una lucha a muerte.”
So, you kind of understand the Bild’s editorial about warum wir den Kampf verlieren or what-all about why we’ve just lost the battle. My German’s for the birds, but Mr. Pleszczynski’s is I bet damn good. Him know Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, and the rest. Speaking of Ukrainian, another result of being out here in the tropics with Internet access, I was unaware of a case that just got wrapped up in a Russian court room: A courageous Ukrainian pilot got 22 years for complicity in the murder of a couple of Russian journalists during the Russian-launched Russo-Ukrainian war. This in spite of the fact that there is evidence, which her defense counsel produced in court, that she was already in the hands of the pro-Russian militia in the Donbas (eastern Ukraine) when the reporters were killed, apparently shot in a crossfire between Ukrainian regulars and the pro-Russian separatists.
Her name is Nadejda Savchenko. Vladimir Putin hinted that an exchange of prisoners might be possible (the Ukrainians have some Russian military under lock and key and “Nadiya” is in the Ukrainian Air Force). Let me know if you hear of John Kerry, due in Moscow this week, broaching the issue. Though why should he? Did his boss ask any of the tyrants he met in Havana when they planned to apologize to the families of all the men the comandante sent to the pelotón?
We’re in a war to the death, Guevara said. He meant it, of course, and even proved it in the end. I have to admit I still do not understand why the American people, my people, elected a man whose friends, maybe he himself, thought Guevara was some kind of hero. There was a poster of him that was often seen in the rooms of the individuals whom Mr. Obama hung out with in his college days. It is a dreadful poster, gives a bad name to the beret, a headgear I rather like, among other reasons because it was worn by Jean Borotra. Raise a generation with Guevara posters on the walls in their rooms and nobody knows who Borotra was, tells you at least some of what you need to know about warum wir verlieren. I know, I know, I’m repeating myself. Sometimes, Eric Blair notes somewhere, that’s what simple honesty requires us to do.
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