Andy Garcia Reacts

Garcia, the actor and director known for such films as “The Godfather: Part III” and “The Untouchables,” was born in Havana, Cuba.

“It is necessary for me to express the deep sorrow that I feel for all the Cuban people both inside and outside of Cuba that have suffered the atrocities and repression caused by Fidel Castro and his totalitarian regime,” Garcia wrote. “The promises of his so-called revolution of pluralism and democracy, were and continue to be a false promise and a betrayal of all basic human rights.”

I think we're going to be subjected to all of Hollywood and the allegedly anti-authoritarian left wailing and rending their garments for poor Fidel, so I thought I'd get some sane reactions as well.

Babalú Blog Reacts

Babalú Blog used to be one of my hangouts. It is a group blog run by a man whose parents fled Castro's Cuba. Here is a roundup of some of their reactions (although it's worth just clicking over and reading down the page):

fidel castro Dead at Age 90:

The news is still trickling in, but it’s confirmed this time: fidel castro is dead. May he rot in hell for all eternity.

I’d always imagined this moment much differently. I’d always imagined myself in sheer joy, ecstatic, triumphant. But, alas, that is not the case. Sure, make no bones about it, I’m glad the bastard is dead. I’m glad the pots and pans are blaring in the streets of Miami tonight. And some day, if his legacy of hate and injustice ever ends, I will piss on his grave.

But the damage is done. The real Cuba is gone. A memory. A faded sepia image.

Brace yourselves, folks. The next few days will be heartbreaking as we will be assaulted by the accolades from the media. Tears will rain down from celebrities and world leaders will pay endless tributes to the bearded devil. It will be nauseating.

But please do take a few moments to revel in this news. fidel castro is dead. Roll the words around in your mouth like a fine wine. Take it in and let it soothe you and warm you and embrace you like a favorite blanket: fidel castro is dead. ...

Image of the Day: Poetic Justice

This next article is rough. It includes film footage of executions carried out under Castro, as well as some details about the slaughter he is responsible for.

Mass-Murderer/Mass-Torturer/War-Monger/Terror-Sponsor Fidel Castro Dies–Media Continues Spreading Romantic Fairy Tale About HIM!

And the inevitable crackdown ...

Breaking News: Cuban dissidents rounded up in the wake of the monster's death

There's more, and they will almost certainly keep covering it from the Cuban refugee / emigrant angle in the days to come.


The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro:
“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.

“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

“I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”

And in response Twitter lit up with #TrudeauEulogies. The National Post and USA Today both covered it, and here are some samples:

8m 8 minutes ago
The world mourns the passing of Uncle Joe Stalin, an innovative pioneer who taught us so much about Photoshop.

Today we mourn the passing of Osama Bin Laden a revolutionary in the aviation and demolition fields.
13m 13 minutes ago
Best known as a style icon for many, Cruella De Vil shall also be remembered as an untiring advocate for animal rights.
14m 14 minutes ago
Today we mourn Dr. Josef Mengele, who's controversial experiments helped pave the way for modern medicine
18m 18 minutes ago
"An accomplished painter and cinemaphile, Adolf Hitler united a troubled nation using his trademark wit and passion."
19m 19 minutes ago
Today we mourn the passing of Judas Iscariot who, with a mere $30, successfully launched a brand new religion.
51m 51 minutes ago
It saddens us that we lost Jack The Ripper today. He was responsible for helping prostitutes get off the streets.
59m 59 minutes ago Virginia, USA
Though a divisive figure, Fidel Castro brought us Justin Trudeau's & Jill Stein's serious mental breakdown on Twitter.
7h 7 hours ago
As we mourn Emperor Caligula, let us always remember his steadfast devotion to Senate reform.
9h 9 hours ago
"While controversial, Darth Vader achieved great heights in space construction & played a formative role in his son's life"

The End of Fidel Castro

It's interesting having a diverse group of friends. Seems like half of them are cheering his demise, and the other half are posting what they consider his most inspirational quotes.

Certainly, he was a man of consequence. Most of those consequences were bad.

Speaking of Guns

A position paper from the Trump team calls for national reciprocity for concealed carry permits.

Check Your (Stability) Privilege

An argument against gun control:
The American left supports gun bans, magazine bans, and the abolition of the 2nd Amendment wholly as a function of what I’m calling “Stability Privilege.” Almost no one out there on the left can remember a time when America was not economically and politically stable, relatively speaking. It’s been half a century since a president was assassinated, and even then, the transition of power was seamless. It’s been a little less time since a president was forced out of office. Again he left quietly, not a shot fired...

They don’t believe they can be rounded up and shot, because “that could never happen here.” They don’t believe someone would break down their door for the food in their pantry, and slaughter them if they resist. They don’t believe they could be rounded up and raped by the truckload for worshipping God differently than their next-door neighbor. They don’t really believe that any of these things are happening anywhere. If they do on any level, they seem to think they can hashtag it out of existence. They believe all of this because of their stability privilege, because they’ve never seen it with their own eyeballs, and so they think “It can’t happen here.” All they’ve seen themselves is firearms misused near them, and so that is the one thing they can wrap their heads around. They don’t see the use, the purpose, the importance of the 2nd Amendment and modern arms....

Try to remember that Sarajevo once hosted an Olympics. Remember that Beirut used to be called “The Paris of the Middle East.” Remember that women used to wear lipstick and miniskirts in Tehran. Most of all...remember that it CAN happen anywhere. It can happen here. The bubble can break. The bubble WILL break.
It's an interesting theory, but I'm not at all sure it's correct. The reaction to Donald Trump becoming President Elect has not convinced me that people on the left believe that stability and nonviolence are dependable features of American life.

Take these recent nominations for cabinet positions. Some of them have come from the right, like Jeff Sessions. Others have been lifelong Democrats, like Mike Flynn. Harold Ford is supposedly going to head up the infrastructure plan, and he was a Clinton supporter. Mitt Romney is supposedly in the pole position in the race for Secretary of State, and he's a centrist Republican who strongly criticized Trump. Jim Mattis is apolitical. To me, this looks like the choices of a guy who is largely non-ideological, rewarding some allies but also making outreach efforts to potential supporters he didn't win over during the campaign. But to my left-leaning friends, the right-winger appointments prove Trump's pending evils; and the centrist and Democrat choices are traitors, to be forever despised for not standing strong against the man. [UPDATE: Apparently NPR agrees with me, more or less.]

I think they really believe not that they're safe, but that many of their fellow citizens -- and especially the sort who buy guns or vote for Trump -- are barely restrained Nazis who dream every night of murdering gays and lesbians and people of color. The fact that we actually live in the safest place and time in human history, in a political system that if anything is too stable* for its own good, doesn't seem to be a conviction.

So the longing to disarm the citizenry makes sense, not because they don't see any good to guns, but because they're terrified of us.

* Is it possible for a political system to be too stable? I don't think Aristotle would say so, but it strikes me that stability is not an unalloyed good. Instability is dangerous, but it also enables adaptation. The United States might be better off if it changed some aspects of its political system to reflect the fact that we no longer have regional diversity, as was well served by the state system, but rather a rural versus urban split. It's easy to see from the county-level election maps that there aren't really red states and blue states, but blue urban cores inside a massive red country. Does it really make sense to have Atlanta in the same "state" as the rest of Georgia, or Charlotte in the same state as the mountains of Western North Carolina? The system of states is stable, but insofar as this creates new tensions and clashes, it may be "too stable."

I Hope You All Enjoyed a Non-Confrontational Holiday in a Culturally-Appropriate Safe Space

Romance and Waiting

An academic argues that women always wait:
Literature bears out Barthes’s claim and my experience: In books, it is always women who wait. In the Odyssey, Penelope awaits the return of her husband for twenty years, weaving a funeral shroud for her father during the day and unraveling it during the night to put off intermediary suitors, one of whom she will wed when the interminable tapestry is finally complete. Penelope is the product of an oral lyrical tradition that excluded women, and it is only fitting that a male authorship relegated her to the sort of maddening inactivity that waiting so often entails.
The whole tradition of chivalric literature runs the other way. In the literature of a thousand years, the man -- the knight -- serves patiently in the hope of a woman electing to reward him with her love. This is often described as "mercy" or "grace," as she is not in any way required to do so by the forms of the literature.

Consider this bit from Le Morte D'arthur, in which the good knight Beaumains has fought a number of the great knights of the world, and overcome them, in order to free a lady who was being besieged by them. Her sister says to go and see her, but when he gets there...
NOW turn we unto Sir Beaumains that desired of Linet that he might see her sister, his lady. Sir, she said, I would fain ye saw her. Then Sir Beaumains all armed him, and took his horse and his spear, and rode straight unto the castle. And when he came to the gate he found there many men armed, and pulled up the drawbridge and drew the port close.

Then marvelled he why they would not suffer him to enter. And then he looked up to the window; and there he saw the fair Lionesse that said on high: Go thy way, Sir Beaumains, for as yet thou shalt not have wholly my love, unto the time that thou be called one of the number of the worthy knights.
My guess is that there's a lot more literature like this, even outside the chivalric tradition. Waiting for a beloved, even forever, is a sadly universal experience.

DB: Obama's Pardoned Turkey Defects to ISIS

Full story here.

More guides for Thanksgiving harmony

We won't have any use for these; our gathering today won't have much ideological diversity.
Agree that America has a terrible gun crisis – many Americans simply cannot afford to purchase the multiple firearms each citizen should own. Inform him that his opposition to your plan for “gun vouchers” to allow all Americans to take part in the defense of themselves, their families, communities and the Constitution, is “super racist” and that you support “caliber diversity.”
Last night we had neighbors over, and everyone stayed strictly away from politics. It was a lovely dinner. Today we make a roundtrip roadtrip to the Houston vicinity visit my mother-in-law.

Happy Thanksgiving

I have a sixteen-pound bird that I am slow-roasting at 165 degrees for twenty hours. This approach means you cannot possibly overcook it, as the bird will eventually be exactly the temperature you want it to be throughout. I have a few other side-dishes planned, but it will be a simple Thanksgiving this year. With my father's death, my mother has gone out to Wyoming to be with my sister and the new baby. It doesn't seem like it's worth doing things quite as extravagantly without them.

This day of all days I remember Iraq. I was there two Thanksgivings in a row. This year some five thousand paratroopers, a Division's special troops battalion, and a bunch of special operators are in Iraq. More are in Afghanistan, where they serve the interests of a President who never intended for them to win their war. Others are in Africa, and points East.

Think of them today, at least during the holiday prayer.

I wish you all a very fine day.

Terminal Lance on General Mattis

The comic -- by a now-former Marine Corps infantry Lance Corporal -- mostly treats the various indignities and hardships of a life that wasn't quite what the recruiter promised. Usually anything "moto" (i.e., overly motivational) is mocked viciously. Life in the Corps is about standing in the mud and the rain, punishing deployments, being screwed over by your chain of command, and so on.

But there is a heartfelt exception for General Matts.

Just in time for Christmas

Over at WeaponsMan, a hot tip on a gift for the ages- an incredibly high quality reproduction of the manuscript I.33, which, Dating from around 1310 is the earliest known surviving European Fechtbuch (combat manual).  He's done a great job linking various related sites, including the site for information to purchase, should you be so inclined, so go over and enjoy the splendor of an amazing publication (at least virtually).  Just be forewarned- it's not cheap!

A Symbol of Fear

A liberal arts college in western Massachusetts has taken down the American flag on campus –leaving the flagpole bare until next semester –in hopes it will free up students to have a “direct, open, and respectful conversation.”

The flag at the center of Hampshire College is viewed by some as a symbol of racism and hatred and following the election and news of Donald Trump’s victory – many students called for its removal....

Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash wrote: “By removing the flag, the college will seek to focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.”

A spokesman for the college told the Boston Globe that some people view the flag as “a powerful symbol of fear they’ve felt all their lives because they grew up as people of color, never feeling safe.”
Indeed there are people who should fear the American flag. May it ever be so.

No Nazis Welcome

In a far-ranging interview with the New York Times, the US president-elect was quoted as saying: "I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn."

He said he did not want to "energise" the group, which includes neo-Nazis, white nationalists and anti-Semites.

Alt-right supporters were filmed on Saturday in Washington DC cheering as a speaker shouted: "Hail Trump."

In the video, Richard Spencer, a leader of the "alt-right" movement, told a conference of members that America belongs to white people, whom he described as "children of the sun".
They really didn't do themselves any favors at this weekend's conference, especially right at the end. My guess is that there were some 3 martini lunches.

In fairness, at least one of their leaders has called for an end to any sort of Nazi symbolism.

Swimming is good for you, but some people need it more than others.

Trump Breaks Campaign Promise

I didn't really expect him to prosecute Clinton. It goes against all the rules of a class to which he himself belongs, and to which he will himself someday have to appeal for his own personal safety.

However, it is disappointing to see that the law remains for the "little people."

"You $*%@ed Up. You Trusted Us."

Undocumented immigrants learn a lesson from Animal House.
More than 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought here as kids, myself included, have willingly handed over our personal information to the federal government as part of a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program, started by President Obama through executive action in 2012, was supposed to temporarily shield us from deportation and give us temporary employment authorization.
And people wonder why the NRA is so dead-set against a gun registry.

I get it now

"The President Can't Have a Conflict of Interest."

That's not true, boss. It was the whole problem with the Clinton Foundation, in fact.

Trump's sense of self is completely tied up with his business empire. I'm guessing nobody can talk him into liquidating his interest in it, or giving up a sense of personal control over it. That means this whole Presidency is going to be one scandal after another.

Glam Dicenn

In ancient Ireland, bards were supposed to be able to perform a kind of satire that was so punishing that it could cause boils to rise on the head of its target. This satire, glam dicenn, was traditionally reserved for very bad kings -- especially kings who didn't pay their bards.

The power of satire is something I've been thinking about lately. It is a more powerful weapon than we readily acknowledge, one that really does have the potential to destroy. Sarah Palin, once a successful and highly popular governor, was asked what in her experience qualified her for the job of Vice President. She made a reasonable argument that governors have to handle civil defense matters as the head of the National Guard for their state, and that Alaska has an unusually sensitive position because of the issue of Russian aerial incursion given its proximity. Almost no one remembers her answer, or the responsibility that really does attend to such a position. What everyone remembers is Tina Fey's satire: "I can see Russia from my house!"

The result of such mockery, carried on day and night at a national level, seems to have destroyed Ms. Palin. She ended up reduced to a caricature of the successful, plucky woman she was in 2008. She discovered that being willing to play that caricature was lucrative, as people loved the idea of her as a ridiculous figure so much that they would pay for it. In the end, she made herself over into what they mocked her for being.

I was thinking of this when I saw John Oliver's treatment of Trump -- and Mike Pence. It's a long bit, and the only part I'm interested in really is what is pointed at the VP. He was mocked as being a Salem Witch Trials-era figure. This is intended as punishment for the sin of taking traditional moral positions on things like marriage and abortion. These positions are shared by many millions of Americans of all races. In the case of marriage, his position was quite modest compared to the resistance pushed by Roy Moore of Alabama: he signed a law protecting moral objectors from being dragooned into wedding ceremonies they found blasphemous, and then revised it when objections were raised. This willingness to reconsider his position given further argument is described as him being "forced to sign" another bill, but in fact you can't force a governor to sign anything. Nobody was there with a gun making him sign it. He was reasoned with, which proves that he's reasonable.

Further evidence of his being reasonable occurred this weekend, with the Hamilton mini-controversy. Mike Pence strikes me as a good guy. I think we don't agree on everything, but I never expect that. He's a very ordinary Republican in most respects.

So, when Oliver says that Pence is "even worse" than Trump, and goes on to mock him viciously, I'm wondering what the effect of this unconstrained use of satire must be. Trump deserves all the satire he gets, I think. Hillary Clinton likewise deserved to be mocked. Yet if we use satire against everyone, we lose anyone with whom we can reason. Everyone becomes, in our minds, a mockery. No one is left to talk with.

I would propose a restriction of the weapon of satire on the order of the ancient bards. It's a weapon that should be used with care. As an opening position, is it possible to construct a list of figures in American life who don't deserve to be treated this way? I am especially interested in figures from the opposition: people who deserve to be treated with a modicum of respect, even though we disagree. Any nominees?

Yet More Thanksgiving

Heterodox Academy has a placemat for you to put out on your tables.

My Colleague's Opinion Makes Him A Monster

In the new political climate we now inhabit, [David[ Duke and [Mark] Lilla were contributing to the same ideological project, the former cloaked in a KKK hood, the latter in an academic gown. Both men are underwriting the whitening of American nationalism, and the re-centering of white lives as lives that matter most in the U.S. Duke is happy to own the white supremacy of his statements, while Lilla’s op-ed does the more nefarious background work of making white supremacy respectable. Again.

Mark Lilla and I both teach at Columbia University, and I acknowledge that this is a harsh indictment of my colleague. But these are harsh times.
Here's Lilla's piece, which I take to argue that identity politics isn't really working out well for Democrats and they ought to rethink it. I'd have thought this was a bit of advice obviously intended to help the Democratic Party win elections, and thus less likely to come in for a charge of "white supremacy" than if it were aimed at helping the Republican Party. Apparently not, but see what you think. Maybe the KKK aspect of his piece is eluding my eye.

If this is where people's heads are, this is going to be a rough little while.

My sense is that it's not going to work, though. The election of Donald Trump was a very close-run thing, and I don't know that he has a lot of deep support as a person. But while the election of Trump was narrow, the rejection of political correctness as an approach to life was broad and deep. The fact that Trump got through the Republican primary shows that Republicans are done with it. The fact that he was taken seriously as a major party candidate in the general shows that the American people are, mostly, done with it.

Hillary Clinton wondered aloud why she wasn't ahead by 50 points, given all the things Trump said and did. It was a good question. The only workable answer lies in collapsing the assumption that violating PC norms was fatal.

That's going to give us a very different public discourse. We'll see how it improves, and whether it also harms, public life. These attempts to stand the PC norms back up, though, isn't going to work. A Trump administration is going to be a continuing bulldozer to such norms. Every day there will be a new lesson in how they don't apply any more.

UPDATE: Bernie Sanders asks about going "beyond identity politics." He should realize how offensive this is, says Vox.

Harleys are Awesome, But...

John Wayne on a Honda should pretty much end the idea that only Harleys are fit bikes for American riders.

Which movie do you think this still is from? He wore suspenders all across his career, from Stagecoach to The Searchers to the Cavalry movies and onwards. He's older, here. Big Jake?

More Thanksgiving Talk

If Donald Trump is racist, does that mean you think your family is racist for voting for the man? Is Kanye West racist now? You think I like the fact that a rich New York jagoff with verbal diarrhea is going to be president? I just voted for the guy, I didn’t sign on the dotted line in blood. If he starts throwing people in camps, I’ll be the first guy to form a militia. But until then, I can’t be bothered to keep up with all things that are racist these days.

Go, California!

...and take Seattle with you.

A Message From Donald Trump

Wretchard asks: "Does it make sense? If not what happens next? If it makes sense, does it have a chance?"

I'm a big fan of killing the TPP.

A Neat Tool

So, we all know that we can use the Internet Archive (also known as the Wayback Machine) to try to find old internet pages.

Did you know, though, that they have an extensive archive of live music?

It turns out to be especially good for Grateful Dead fans, which is a category I'm guessing overlaps neatly with "people who work on the Internet Archive."

The value of price

You have only to see how afraid the Venezuelan government is of price information to see what a powerful economic tool it is.

I absolutely love it when information is enough to destroy a totalitarian regime.

ATF: "Medicinal" Marijuana Trumps 2nd Amendment

A number of states have recently passed medicinal marijuana laws. I do not have a strong opinion about these, although I do know of a young girl here in Georgia whose seizures were finally brought under control by its use. (Georgia's own very limited such law was brought on by a similar case, but not the same one.)

The ATF would like you to know, however, that if you obtain a card allowing you to purchase medicinal marijuana, you are barred from owning a firearm.
Under the ATF’s policy, not only are users of marijuana prohibited from possessing firearms, but a person may not transfer a firearm to an individual if the transferor knows that the transferee holds a medical marijuana card.

Importantly, this second prohibition applies even where the cardholder does not actually use any marijuana.
I could see an "under the influence" law pertaining to carrying or using a firearm. An ownership ban seems excessive to me.

The Bubble

FP Needs A Class on Military Science

One of the mysteries about the ongoing offensive in Mosul, where Iraqi security forces are now pressing into the northern, eastern, and southern edges of the city, has been the apparent decision to leave unattended the desert between the battlefield and Syria. Unless this was a baffling oversight, the 20-mile-wide corridor of desert seemed intended to give Islamic State fighters an escape route to the group’s strongholds in Syria, perhaps to limit the destruction in Mosul.
Sun Tzu said, ""When you surround the enemy always allow them an escape route. They must see that there is an alternative to death."

The reason is not to 'reduce the destruction' of the city, although it would be nice if that occurred. The reason is to reduce their will to fight to the death. If there's no choice, every man will resist to the last to the utmost of his powers. If there is, an increasing number of men will opt out and take to the road.

There's a second issue, which has to do with American technological advantages, that I won't discuss for OPSEC reasons. Still, it's not that baffling why a route through the open desert was left free for Sun Tzu's purpose.

The rest of the article is worth reading, as it pertains to the history of Tal Afar in the battle of Sunnis and Shia. I always think of Col. McMaster and the 3rd ACR when I think of that place. Tal Afar was one of the places where we learned how to win against the insurgents' influence on the population. The Shia militas are not going to be able to make that strategy work, and they are not strong enough to effect the Sri Lankan solution to an insurgent population.

Biker in Chief is Not Offended

There's a minor brou-ha-ha over the fact that VP-Elect Mike Pence was addressed by the cast at a performance of Hamilton. They told him that a lot of people were worried by the recent election, especially that the incoming administration wouldn't protect all Americans equally, and expressed hope that he'd found in their show some inspiration to adhere to American ideals.

A lot of people were angry on Pence's behalf, including the President Elect.

Pence himself, who is a biker, was not the least bit put out. In a very classy response, he complimented their show and the cast themselves, urged others to see the show, and said he was not at all offended by their remarks.

He then went on to say "But I want to assure people...."

CBS News cut off the rest of his remarks. I haven't found a longer version of the clip, so I'm not sure what he wanted to assure us of, but my guess is that he went on to say something comforting to those Americans who feel frightened by him or the incoming administration.

That's just a guess, though, because CBS didn't think that part mattered.


What he said was, "I just want to reassure people that what president elect Donald Trump said on election night, he absolutely meant from the bottom of his heart. He is preparing to be the president of all of the people of the United States of America."