Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Green party resolution

It would appear that the Green Party (as in a majority of the Arcata, California city Council?) has begun actively pursuing its "watermelon" (stressing the red over the green) agenda in support of those who machine gun travelers at the Rome airport, slaughter Olympic athletes, blow up crowded pizza parlors and murder wheelchair-bound Americans. These socialists have entered the lists against a fellow socialist state (Israel) in favor of the erstwhile (Jodanian) Palestinian effort to recover what was lost in an aggressive war designed to eradicate the Israeli state to wit: "RESOLUTION Adopted by the Green Party of the United States, November 21, 2005: 1. The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) publicly calls for divestment from and boycott of the State of Israel until such time as the full individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people are realized. To maximize the effect of the Green Party's support for divestment and boycott of Israel: 2. The party calls on all civil society institutions and organizations around the world to implement a comprehensive divestment and boycott program. Further, the party calls on all governments to support this program and to implement state level boycotts. 3. The party urges the Campus Greens network to work in cooperation with other campus organizations to achieve institutional participation in this effort.

Since the demise of the Soviet State the collectivists have redirected their efforts toward other anti liberty groups such as the environmentalists and militant feminists. Leonidas' evidence for this is in the activities of Mrs. Leonidas' Swedish schoolchum who has ended her vacation trips to the Black Sea resorts and now chairs several groups advocating additional "aggression " taxes on males in Sweden and ADDITIONAL restrictions on the speech of those who disagree with the enviromental wackos in that unfortunate nation.

In California:
The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill

Designed "intelligence"

Several years ago some of our collectivist "leaders" were calling for the abolition of the Central Intelligence Agency. With the recent performance of that agency, they may be on to something. Not only was the "intelligence" prior to the Iraq operation less than up to date, but we are now witnessing the total politicization of the agency.

"Well, it's pretty much all over for America. Valerie Plame, the "glamorous secret agent" who has been the linchpin of U.S. national security, "will retire next month from the CIA after 20 years tracking proliferators of weapons of mass destruction," the New York Post reports. "She remained at the CIA for the past year in order to be eligible for a full government pension." Or at least that's her cover story." <>

"Al Qaida leaders Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi haven't been found 'primarily because they don't want us to find them and they're going to great lengths to make sure we don't find them,' [CIA director Porter] Goss said in the interview broadcast Tuesday on ABC's 'Good Morning America.' "--Associated Press, Nov. 29

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Illegal Immigration?

With all the recent hand wringing over the U.S. being over-run with illegal immigrants, it is useful to review the facts. Several million illegal immigrants are living in the country at present. Why have they come? It is obvious that their desire for a better life is a motivating factor. Those willing to work can find willing employers for their limited skills for wages which, although low by U.S. standards are considerably higher than in their home countries. Those unwilling or unable to work can often find alternatives available from government programs. They routinely work for wages that most native residents will not accept therefore the jobs go begging. Why? The illegal immigrants are competing with unskilled native American workers in a market that is not free. Legal U.S. residents are eligible for a plethora of government programs that make low wage employment an undesirable option. These programs are: welfare, unemployment insurance, minimum wage laws and medicaid to name but a few.

The cost to employers of raising wages to attract those who are eligible for the government programs would force them to raise the prices they must charge for their goods and services and thus make them less competitive. Employers will always attempt to keep their costs as low as possible in order to compete. In this case the employers are competing with the government i.e. the taxpayers. This competition is unlikely to end as there is no political will to reform the welfare state. Indeed, the welfare state appears to be expanding at the behest of the majority in both of the major political parties.

One of the alternatives propounded by many of those on the right and left of the political spectrum is to divert more resources to “security” measures such as a militarized border and increased enforcement of the immigration laws. All of these options were tried by the Roman empire unsuccessfuly and led eventually its descent into chaos. The Roman system of welfare (bread and circuses), once the provinces had been bled of tribute, led to the need to allow more barbarians into the empire to settle the land and produce the food as well as fill the ranks of the legions. The barbarians eventually assumed control of the military and dictated the succession to the imperial throne. This signaled the end of the empire.

A study of history reveals the life cycle of societies based on liberty and self government to average about 200 years. Our “constitutional” government is now 214 years old and showing signs of what Alexis DeToqueville described as “the citizens voting themselves largess from the public treasury”. Can the process be turned around or even arrested? Stay tuned.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Real Cuba III

The Real Cuba III

After a week at the Marina Hemmingway we obtained a “Despacho” (cruising permit) to continue sailing eastward along the Cuban north coast with stops at various anchorages. Most countries require “despachos” to keep track of foreign cruising boats along their coasts and this includes the U.S. We left for the first leg late in the afternoon to take advantage of the lighter trade winds which blow from the east during the night. The distance to Varadero was 65 nautical miles. We were constantly shadowed by a mysterious darkened motor launch and entered Marina Chapelin the next day about noon after being escorted in by a motor launch sent out by the marina. The employees of the marina were extremely helpful and friendly even to inviting us to a “night club” performance at one of the nearby tourist hotels as well as a Cuban ice cream parlor. Afterwards we decided to dine out and got in the long line at the only restaurant that was open. After several minutes the management discovering that we were foreigners escorted us past the line of waiting Cubans to a table. We were embarrassed by this treatment in the “workers paradise” but no one seemed disturbed.

We continued eastward anchoring at several beautiful coves and arrived at Puerto Padre, anchoring near the commercial dock to check in. We noticed that the local ferry was traveling more than a mile from its route in order for the passengers to view the “strange blue sail boat” flying the U.S. flag and its Canadian companion. No one had seen a U.S. flag vessel in Puerto Padre in living memory.

The bus trip to Puerto Padre was about 30 min. and gave us the opportunity to meet many friendly and curious Cubans including one old man who refused to believe that I was in fact an American. I produced my Los Angeles County Sheriff retirement badge and ID and he simply shook his head and walked away muttering “why would you want to visit Cuba?” to which I replied: "to meet charming people such as you and your grandson".

We continued eastward to the village where we intended to turn northward to sail to the Bahamas. I rowed the local commissar and a soldier out to the anchored boat to examine our paper work. Upon coming aboard he insisted that I take down the American flag which flew from the staff on the stern. I refused and indicated the Cuban courtesy flag that was flying from the ensign halyard on the starboard spreader. He examined all the papers and found them in order but again ordered me to take down the American flag. I refused and at this time the soldier interrupted stating that it was the ships flag and displaying it was indeed proper. This seemed to settle the issue and they returned ashore. The next morning at dawn we weighed anchor, waived farewell to the local guard tower and sailed the 70 miles to the Bahamas. This last out of the way village was the only occasion where the official representative was less than friendly. For the most part the officials bent over backwards to be helpful. In one anchorage the crew of one patrol boat gave us gifts of fish and fruit.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Herd

Mark Helprin makes an excellent point here on the view of the collectivists (left) with regard to the defense of the nation. "The nature of one's reaction to aggression against one's country will often be determined by whether one sees the polity primarily as individuals who must struggle with the imperfection of being bound into a collective, or as a collective that must overcome the circumstantial imperfection that it comprises individuals. For wildebeest thundering across a plain in Africa, it takes a village. The herd defends itself by sacrificing a minuscule proportion of its number and moving on. If the herd were to turn upon the jackals preying upon it, the jackals would be pulverized almost instantly. Nonetheless, if the price for the escape of ten thousand is the sacrifice of only a few, that is how it is done when the collective is paramount." The whole article is worth the read.

The Real Cuba II

The Real Cuba II

Contrary to widely held belief, Cuba welcomes ALL foreign visitors warmly and they are free to travel wherever they wish. Travel to Cuba by those subject to U.S. law is not prohibited, however “trading” with Cuba is forbiden. This includes spending any money in that country. The U.S. does prosecute violators of this proscription, so U.S. tourists are non existent there.

Leonidas notified the Cuban port authority via side band radio from the Dry Tortugas of an e.t.a. of 72 hrs. for 1 U.S. and 1 Canadian sail boat and was instructed to enter at Marina Hemmingway 7 nautical miles west of Havana. Upon arrival, the harbor entrance was in the opinion of the two sailboat skippers unsafe due to adverse weather conditions and so advised the Cuban coast guard. A motor launch was sent out and led the two North American vessels safely inside where they tied up to the customs dock and cleared in the country. The officials were courteous but spoke no English. After completing the paper work the boats were led to a dock in the mostly empty marina. Our companion boat was Canadian and from this time forward we were officially “guests “ of the Canadian couple on that boat.

The marina management brought welcoming gifts of Cuban rum and baskets of fruit for both vessels and insisted over our protests that we enjoy the free telephone service offered by the marina. During our stay we always placed the telephone on the dock when we wished to converse privately. This was especially true when we entertained the U.S. interests officer and his wife for dinner aboard. An interesting social event indeed.

The trip to Havana was a 30 minute bus ride from the stop in front of the Communist Party high school across from the marina. The Buses were usually crowded with people getting on and off mostly not depositing any fare in the crude wooden box provided. We had no Cuban coins but gave them 5 swedish kroners.

Havana is a charming city which has seen no paint on its buildings since 1960. We were warned to not expect to be able to obtain food in Havana and thus brought snacks from the boat. We attempted to hail several taxis but as we were obviously foreigners they were not allowed to pick us up. Only special tourist taxis authorized to transport those with hard currency are allowed to pick up foreigners. The few cafes that were open had long lines waiting to be served. The menus, though having several options listed, invariably offered only one item. Most of the locals recognizing us as foreigners were surprised to learn Leonidas spoke Spanish instead of Russian. This resulted in lots of smiles and good cheer.

A shop at the marina selling items such as imported beer and canned goods to foreigners for hard currency had some lettuce which they refused to sell us saying that the scale to weigh it was broken. I estimated that the weight was 1 kilo and offered to buy it for the price of 2 kilos and this was refused. We returned on each of the next 2 days to buy the lettuce which was beginning to wilt. On the 3rd day with the scale still not repaired I asked to negotiate with the manager. Two phone calls were made to Havana and the merchant finally got permission to sell the head of lettuce for the 2 kilo price. No tomatoes were available in spite of viewing fields of ripe tomatoes on the TV. I asked why, and was advised that the tomatoes were rotting in the fields as the Russians had failed to send the wood necessary to make shipping crates. An apparently insoluable problem to the party leaders. When I advised that I had seen tomatoes transported in California in dump trucks and other tublike containers the informant looked at me as if I were insane.

We remained at Marina Hemmingway for 7 days and obtained a “despacho” (permission) to continue cruising eastward to the resort of Varadero.

Continued in The Real Cuba III

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Real Cuba!

Recently we have witnessed several testimonies for and comparisons between some of the surviving socialist (communist) regimes and the western countries. Leonidas has visited at least a score of countries and found that the most fascinating such visit was to Cuba during the early 1990’s aboard his 34' sail boat. A command of theSpanishh language was extremely useful in avoiding reliance on government “guides” and translators.

We found the Cuban people including the military to be extremely helpful and friendly. Every facet of life in Cuba is rigidly controlled and the citizens require ration books to purchase all food items even though the countryside is obviously suitable for agriculture. The country seems to be completely supplied with electrical power and a television set down to the smallest rural hut and we learned the reason for this. All tv broadcasting is superseded on a daily basis by Communist Party officials’ (usually Castro) 2 to 4 hour speeches during prime time.

Due to the U.S. trade embargo the pre revolutionary (1959 and earlier) vehicles have not been replaced and consequently many classic old cars and trucks are seen on the streets in various states of repair. No proper replacement parts are available. The Cubans seem quite resourceful in keeping them running by fabricating parts and adapting parts from Russian and Eastern European cars.

Tourists are able to rent Japanese cars that display distinctive license plates enabling them, with the use of special permits to obtain gasoline which is in very short supply and extremely difficult for ordinary Cubans to buy. This situation may recently have changed, though I doubt it, with the help of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Cuba has some oil fields along the north central coast but appears to have difficulty operating them. The Russian equipment in the fields is very poorly maintained and much crude oil is spilled and polluting the nearby streams and coast line. No one seems to be concerned with this situation. I suspect that environmentalists are not as influential in Cuba as in the “western world”.

The Cuban people for the most part are very curious about North America and this suggests that the official portrayal of the U.S. as oppressive, bigoted and racist is not as widely accepted as their leaders would wish. The ordinary citizens for the most part do not have access to many basic items such as toilet paper, tooth brushes, matches, tooth paste, coffee etc. but are skilled at making substitutes. Communist Party officials and tourists with foreign hard currency are able to shop in special shops that deny access to ordinary citizens. The shops and stores allowing access to ordinary citizens are for the most part empty. When some items do appear in them long waiting lines are generated.

The begging and aggressive peddlers so pervasive in most of the other islands and countries in the region are totally absent in Cuba. The beaches, cayos and countryside are mostly unspoiled and definitely uncrowded. The beaches outside the tourist areas are closely watched from government guard towers and patrol boats, apparently to discourage emigration but we thoroughly enjoyed the friendly and charming people of Cuba both bureaucrats and others.

This is by no means an exhaustive account of the 5 week cruise along the northern Cuban coast. If an interest is shown Leonidas will add to it.

Fighting in the shade

In the year 480 BC the Persian King Xerxes invaded Greece with his army of more than 100,000 men. The Greeks determined to resist the invasion and sent a detachment of hoplites (heavy armed infantry) to resist at the pass of Thermopylae. The Greek force was led by the Spartan King Leonidas and consisted of his 300 hoplite bodyguard and 1200 other infantryman from several Greek city states. Upon encountering the blocking force, the Persian king sent a herald to Leonidas stating "Deliver up your arms." Leonidas replied: "ΜΟΛΩΜ ΛΑΩΕ which romanized reads MOLON LABE" and translates: "Come and take them". After loosing several thousand of his best soldiers in the resulting next two days of fighting, the Persian king sent a further demand to the Greeks to surrender or he would have "the sun blocked out by the clouds of arrows" from his Persian archers. The Spartan reply: "Then we will fight in the shade"