Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Death of My America

It seems fitting somehow that this year there is no barbeque, no celebration around here, for I cannot remember a time when I have been so pessimistic. I was brought up to love this country. To my child eyes, it was a magical place, a place of wonder, of perfection even, a ready contrast to the long night of repression already falling on the country of my fathers.

The United States stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity. I watched my parents, their friends, arrive with barely the clothes on their backs, wash dishes, bus tables, work in factories, start little businesses and rise- move out to the suburbs, send their children to college, and in essence achieve the American Dream. There was no affirmative action for them. No one provided scholarships to Yale or Harvard, which wouldn't have let them mow the lawn let alone enter their hallowed halls- no matter what intelligence or ability their maker had given them. No, they achieved what they did through the sweat of their brow, by dint of countless hours of work and careful use of their resources.

Although I long ago realized that my country is not faultless, I have never wavered in my belief that the United States represents the best that the government of men has to offer. So it is with a heavy heart that I see the country in which I grew up evaporating before my eyes. We grovel in front of those who would hurt us, apologize where no apology is required, align ourselves with the forces of repression in some cases and kowtow in others. Our Congress is pestilential, awash in a tide of corruption practiced with impunity; our ship of state is navigated by fools and scoundrels.

Soon we are to be told what we can ingest, what we can drive, when we can sell our homes. All of these fiats will be enforced with all the might and power, through legislation and tax policy, of the government. Candidate Obama once complained of the Constitution that it was a document of negatives when it came to the powers of the government, as if it were a failing on the part of the founding fathers and not an intentional omission. Those far-sighted men did not offer supplemental income, tuition, health insurance. They promised nothing but life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One can only imagine what they would think of the nonsmoking, bran-eating, seatbelt wearing, New York Times reading public potentates who would decree how the rest of us should live.

Monday, June 29, 2009

On the Horns of a Honduran Dilemma

Yesterday practically dawned with news that the military in Honduras had staged a bloodless coup and exiled President Manuel Zelaya. Within 24 hours, the denunciations of the same came fast and furious. Demands for the deposed president's reinstatement came from the US, UN, and Venezuela among others, including ironically the OAS, that defender of democracy which just voted to reinstate an illegitimate regime in Cuba which has never been elected in a fair and open plebiscite, which has kept the jackboot solidly balanced on the Cuban population for half a century. It seems pretty obvious that the equation is "democratically elected, good; military coup, bad... although some coups are more equal than others."

But there are some pesky details here. It seems that Honduran Presidents are limited to a single term. Mr. Zelaya, who was on his way out, took a page from the Chavez playbook and attempted to hold a referendum to change the law. Unfortunately for Mr. Zelaya, the Honduran Supreme Court went against him. The military informed him that they would not support him. Undaunted, the once and wouldbe future president, proceeded with plans to hold the referendum anyway. It was this process the military stopped.

I cannot blame them. They have witnessed in Venezuela, somewhat in Bolivia, how antidemocratic forces have learned to use the machinery of democracy to quash it. Even as Hugo Chavez threatened to invade Honduras, crowds marched in Caracas in an attempt to save the lone opposition media voice. It is in order to avoid this fate, the military acted.

And how did they proceed after the coup? They announced that the elections scheduled for January would proceed. The leader of congress assumed the presidency. The former president was deposited in Costa Rica. The ruling of the Supreme Court upheld. And what should they have done? Stood idly by while Zelaya flouted the Supreme Court? The military? Congress? His own party? Who are we to demand that Zelaya be returned? Talk about American arrogance.

The lesson to be learned here is how the left has subverted the process. Chavez complained that you can't "change the rules of the game." The game is that you get yourself elected, then change the precise rules that allowed you to gain power with a witches brew of electoral machination, exercise of executive power, the threat of force, and most importantly the appearance of democracy.

I suggest that Mr Obama begin work on a new apology, one to the Honduran people for demanding they go meekly into night. If only the administration had shown the same reticence to get involved that they demonstrated toward Iran. Incredible.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday People and Places

Clueless in Wichita. Back from a humanitarian mission, the author of this piece, is struck not by the suffering of the Cuban people- they're used to it- but by how hip it is to travel there. Hits some truths; misses the point altogether.

The Last Time I Read about Havana. Looking for some reading material? Here's a useful and exhaustive annotated bibliography of Cuba-themed books in English via the Simon Fraser University. The list ends at 2000. I have to say I've read quite a few. What about you?

Life Without Father. Roundabout Fathers' Day, NRO came up with a column on five myths about fatherhood to watch out for. No one needs to convince me about the importance of fathers, particularly for little girls. An interesting dynamic, indeed.

The Naked Politician. Included just for the scandal, no, not Sanford, Musselwhite. The headline here bruits Florida mayor arrested for public indecency. Apparently the onetime Gainseville mayor was arrested-in his birthday suit- at a Georgia campsite. Authorities suspect he was the naked man walking down the side of the road earlier. He denies. Of course.

Parallels and Possibilities

Recently Yoani posted on San Lazaro, a decaying street in Havana. In religious statuary, San Lazaro, the saint, whose feast day is December 17 (incidentally my wedding anniversary-no parallel there), is usually depicted on crutches, open sores running, dogs trailing. The gruesome nature of this last touch was one that eluded me as a child when I wondered why anyone would have a statue in their home of an ugly man and his pets. I didn't know about Santeria then, obviously. Also elusive was the American name of the saint. Could it be Lazarus, the one Jesus raised from the dead? But one would think, he would be in better shape. Then there is the notion I have that the statue Lazaro is a leper. Whatever the translation, whichever saint or former saint- let's not forget Barbara- the parallel Yoani draws is not lost, as the video glides by the ruins of the body civic festering in the sun. Watch it.