Ooobie on Everything

Gun Control: Cui Bono?

OrtegaHere we are in the midst of what passes for a democratic debate these days, this one on guns. Our friendly Marxists in the Socialist Democrat Party want us to be part of a universal gun registry (yes, they are interested in this data even on Neptune) so that the Obama regime can take one or all of the following actions: a) tax us; b) relieve us of our weapons; c) distribute our names and addresses to their party base — I mean criminals, excuse me — with an invitation to break into our homes and take the guns for the commission of real crimes. I guess I should add under (b) “drag you out of your home in chains” as this seems to be the preferred method of confiscation.

This subject in all its ramifications is being hashed out vigorously by both the left and those of us who think having an arm or arms is part of our Constitutional rights, but today I have a little story, one I’ve referred to before, to remind Americans why one should never, ever give up their guns short of being shot to death or dragged out of your home in chains.

carter and ortegaThe story starts in 1979, when James Earl Carter happily greased the skids for a takeover of sunny Nicaragua from the Somozas by Marxists with the snappy moniker “Sandinistas.” (Sandino was a Nicaraguan cowboy who raged against American imperialism in an earlier age, but he was most definitely not a communist.) The Sandinistas owed their ascent to dictatorial power in great part to Jimmy, who had apparently made up his mind that what Nicaragua needed was another dictatorship, this one of the left. The Nicaragua debacle was one of the earliest known examples of Carter’s by now decades-old gross stupidity in foreign relations, topped only by his jettisoning of the Shah of Iran and the subsequent and consequent Iranian hostage crisis and rescue attempt.

As part of ensuring domestic tranquillity and harmony in the post-Somoza Nicaragua, Carter gave his blessings to a scheme whereby every single member of the old National Guard, those who had not managed to flee the country, would be disarmed and sent to the United States, leaving the Sandinistas as the only guys with guns. There was controversy over this decision. Some thought it might be wiser to purge only the top leadership, who were political cronies of Somoza (or even relatives), leaving in place the non-political grunts who were the bulk of the Army. Some thought this might act as a brake on whatever the Sandinistas had in mind for the Nicaraguan public. But blind rosy optimism ruled Jimmy’s day, then as ever, and he opted for the lethal option of “Sandinista weapons only.”

The tricky part of this scheme was getting all those little guys to turn in their weapons peacefully, rather than fleeing to the mountains and prolonging the civil strife. But the chance of being flown out of the country to Miami, gratis, proved too great a temptation to resist. And so the big charade began. The Sandinistas set up a congregation point near the airport in the Free Zone (a customs term at the time rather than a political one) and began taking possession of the weapons and corralling the donors for onward disposition. Meanwhile, the International Red Cross, charged with overseeing the process, stood around striking through “things to be done” on their clipboards.

All went well until, having assured themselves that everybody they could get was in place, the Sandinistas set up an armed cordon and began building a prison around the men. (There were a number of non-Guard members caught in the trap, too, people who had dropped by to say goodbye to friends or deliver clothes or other needed items — but what the heck, nothing is perfect.) This became the infamous Zona Franca political prison that for all the years of the first Ortega dictatorship provided barred cells and interrogation and torture for the unfortunates who ended up within its walls. If you were around at the time, you wouldn’t have heard much about that prison because it wasn’t on the tour provided to European and American leftwingers who regularly arrived to enjoy the exhilarating freedom of a Marxist paradise and write home to their Red Army cells about it. As for the foreign press who did know about it, they didn’t feel it was worth comment. In fact, the black-out on coverage of this torture center was so complete that today I cannot find a single image of the prison on any search engine.

As you can imagine, the International Red Cross had egg on its face, but they were not in any physical danger so it wasn’t that bad. On the other hand, inside the prison walls the Sandinistas had begun summary executions of the prisoners and continued doing so for a couple of months while their IRC co-criminals occupied their idle time wringing their hands. Day and night, the Sandinista guards would appear in the corridors and call out the names of the condemned, who were dragged into the courtyard, executed by firing squad, and buried on prison grounds. I guess just collecting the victims wasn’t enough satisfaction, or maybe there was a little anxiety about prisoner rioting, because sometimes the Sandinistas would lob a stun grenade into the cell before removing the prisoners. Those lucky enough not to have their names called that day were, however, now deaf.

Finally, having satisfied their initial blood lust, the Sandinistas agreed with the brave IRC that the summary executions should let up. Perhaps the Sandinistas were confident they had taught a good lesson to the rest of the country and those not yet dead in their cells. And in any case, the prisoners weren’t going anywhere and the Marxist overlords knew they could look forward to the consolation of years of daily torture sessions. The sound of firing squads stopped inside the prison, and the Nicaraguans in the area could get some sleep at night.

scan0174Alas for the Sandinistas, their faithlessness served as a very good lesson indeed for all kinds of people in the country, including the small farmers who had supported Somoza’s Liberal Party and whose land the Sandinistas were expropriating at a rapid clip to create “nature preserves.”  The war the Sandinistas mocked as “contra” — that is, against the Marxist revolution — began with the flight of these farmers to the mountains with their rifles or small arms, where they banded together and eventually drew the substantial support of the US government and thousands of Nicaraguans who had learned how good it was to be ruled by the communists.

And that, my friends, is the moral of the story. The day you give up your weapons to the people who are thinking only of the general welfare is the day your freedom runs out. That’s why my motto is “pry it out of my cold dead hands.”

Time to Dust Off the Firing Squad

I see that our sage Pentagon decision-makers, who have no trouble launching robot assassins against guilty and innocent alike without due process, are trembling in their shiny boots at the suggestion that they call that bearded porker Nidal Hasan a terrorist. This is by now an old bone of contention: was the gunning down of 13 soldiers and wounding of 30 others at Ft. Hood a case of workplace violence adjudicable by OSHA or deliberate mass murder carried out by a terrorist underling at the behest of his terrorist leader? Was Nidal Hasan’s murderous rage triggered by the sight of a BLT or someone making the sign of the cross, or was he looking for glory in the war against the infidel? Hmm, tough one, isn’t it? Who can possibly know what was in the mind of the hate-filled Moslem major who found time in his murderous rampage to remember the Lord our God by shouting of His greatness in a foreign language. (Or he might have been speaking in tongues, which is also a kind of foreign language, although one not so far taught in those debate-free zones we call schools and colleges.) All the head-scratching is made worse by the fact that our president hasn’t felt it necessary to gather together all the family members to tell their stories of grief while a symphony orchestra plays a funeral march and tears drip down the Big O’s Howdy Doody face.

Yikes. God is great, but the Pentagon brass most assuredly are not. In fact, I’m starting to feel like the real terrorists are the guys in charge of the lives of our military men and women. After all, the point of terrorism is to instill fear, and what is more frightening than the idea that our national defense is in the hands of morons?

What has resurrected this knotty issue — terrorist? disgruntled employee? — is the stubborn insistence of family members that their loved ones be treated as victims of war and get their Purple Hearts. Unfortunately for the victims and their families, there are stumbling blocks to recognizing the dead and injured as heroes. First off, you have to believe that the demons of Jihad are engaging in terrorism; second, you have to believe that what we’ve been sending our military men and women to die for is a war on terrorists; and finally, you have to think that following the orders of a terrorist leader and wreaking havoc on a US military base is an act of war.

That makes three things normal Americans and our so-called leaders don’t agree on. Getting no sympathy from the White House for their quest, the families have turned to members of Congress for support via legislation, thus forcing the Department of Defense to fight back by issuing a position paper. The fifth columnists at the Pentagon argue that if they honor the victims of Hasan’s terrorist act it would deprive poor Nidal of a fair trial by prejudicing potential court-martial panelists, witnesses, and military commanders. I’m trying to figure this out: is the Department of Defense saying that if the families keep mouthing off about some kind of honor for their dead, or, God forbid, get legislation mandating the honors sought, they risk letting Major Hasan off scot-free? According to the attorney representing the families in their suit against DoD that is exactly what the Pentagon pinheads are saying. These are the same deep thinkers who planned on giving Purple Hearts to the button-pushers who launch drones against people who never got a trial, much less a fair one, and this despite the fact that the so-called heroes were never in danger of anything but boredom.

If Hasan were a terrorist, wouldn’t it be time to oil up the rifles and put the bearded terrorist up against a wall? Why not ship him over to the Middle East and then send a drone after him? That would save us the trouble and expense of a trial for the murderous bastard and obviate the problem with an unbiased proceeding. I guess that isn’t in the cards, though, because the Pentagon doesn’t want to give the idea Americans are brutes. We want to be fair. And this was, after all, just workplace violence.

In fact, given the scale of this workplace violence, it seems clear the only solution is to disarm all the soldiers on our military bases; who knows which one of them will snap next and turn his weapon on others? I suggest we ban those weapons. I mean, maybe the MPs could have them, but keep them out of the hands of the dangerous soldiers. Such a step would fit in neatly with the ongoing effort to disarm our veterans. If we can get to a point where the only people with a gun are the people filling out your ballots for you, nobody would ever have to worry again. Really.





There is the no-no kind of persecution and then there is the other kind

millipusAs I’ve mentioned a time or two in my past postings, some Americans can be persecuted til the cows come home and the US government millipus doesn’t mind a bit. On the contrary, it almost certainly chuckles when it occurs if it doesn’t actually get out its pom-poms and lead a cheer. These saps are white people, old people, Christian people, conservative people, and gun-owners. Also, let’s not forget darker-hued people who are simultaneously conservatives, as expressing the wrong views automatically reverts your skin color to white in the color-blinded eyes of our overseers.

But then there are the other groups of people, the ones whose rights are so very precious that they require special laws to give them special protection and extra rights not available to groups noted above. They include, and this is surely just a partial list, homosexuals, sexual deviants of every stripe including child lovers, atheists, terrorists on the left, communists, and socialists (but I repeat myself). In their case, persecution is not a joke, not something to turn a blind eye to or to encourage, implicity, tacitly or through overt hostility. Persecution against these people requires hours and hours of coverage by the left-stream media, punitive measures by the State, and loss of whatever limited rights they may still retain.

Now we are going to get, probably, a Supreme Court ruling that says screw all you people who think marriage is a religious rite, not a State rite. Screw the religions of the world that have decreed that this rite is reserved for one man and one woman. There is great anticipation that the men and women in black robes will decree that the marriage rite must be extended to any human being and any other human being because sexual deviancy is not a grounds for denying them the same treatment as heterosexual couples, even if the treatment occurs in the realm of religion and not government. At least one of the Justices thinks this must be done because of the hurt done to poor little children (who shouldn’t even be raised by homosexuals). But if hurting little children is the standard for changing the law by decree, then I can think of a bunch of other things that need outlawing, too, starting with homes with two working parents.

wedding dogAlmost certainly down the road, they will decide that marriage is fine between any group of three or more people. And then inevitably between any two or more animate objects that can be made to suggest consent. No doubt it will include small children, and possibly one day you can put Bowser in a suit (two barks means yes) and walk him down the aisle to make an honest dog of him. But it is all in a day’s work for man and Superman, the latter being anybody who is both a social anarchist and state totalitarian.

State intervention in religion is now par for the course, so get used to it. Watch for suits arguing that the Bible has to be rewritten to prevent the encouragement of prejudice against a whole plethora of special protected groups — strike the part about Onan, and for Gods (oops!) sake, remove that bit about the poor being with us always. In fact, maybe it would be best to throw all Bibles (except the Koran) onto huge bonfires because they are so filled with hate speech.

But hold on — I  just remembered another group of people who don’t deserve the protection our Constitution used to provide individuals. Maggie’s Notebook today carries a story that suggests we are getting another special class of Americans who can be discriminated against and persecuted at will: veterans! Yes, please ride the link to her site. Read about a veteran with a physical ailment who was visited by Storm Troopers, who were tipped off by the eyes and ears of the State otherwise known as medical personnel, who have now become one of the many arms of the millipodal beast. This man was disabused of his notion that there were any constitutional protections for a man of his ilk — which is, I guess, a vet with a spinal injury. It simply boggles the mind to think that making an appointment with your doctor can now lead to God (oops!) only knows what. No doubt anything but medical treatment. You might get your head blown off, or have your children taken from you, or be put on a diet of bread and water in solitary, or be denied medical care forever or even be put on the Shining Pathway to a benevolent death through opiate cocktail.

What use is the Supreme Court if all they are doing is expanding the rights of one group of people at the expense of the rights of another group? It’s like redistribution of wealth, only in this case it is intangibles like freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion. All the things happening in the US today that involve those entrusted with protecting our fundamental rights are of a kind: squeezing inexorably the sphere of God-given freedom and rights until they are the size of a walnut and creating a freakish world where up is down and right is most definitely wrong.

Meantime, we hear that the lunatic mayor of New York wants to do something about people like yours truly and any others who use Facebook or Twitter to say something he doesn’t like. He realizes it could be a complicated issue (and this guy made billions, can you believe it?). He is joined in his crusade to stamp out Other Think by super-haters like Jim (I’m supposed to be taking my lithium) Carrey or Roseanne (I REFUSE to take my anti-psychotics) Barr.

Let me say something in closing today’s exercise of logic: I started this blog just so I can say all the things that the left insists cannot be said. I plan in particular to say all the things that are deeply offensive to them. It’s good for them, it will make them strong like bull. And if the Storm Troopers come after us free speechers (I’ve just given them another epithet to use against us, like birthers or constitutionalists or veterans), that will be okay, too. Sometimes a revolution needs a trigger, and nitwits like Bloomberg are trying desperately to give us one.





No Polonium for Berezovskiy

ripThe British authorities have carried out their preliminary investigation into the unexpected death of oligarch Boris Berezovskiy and their initial conclusion is death by hanging — no third parties involved. At least he went fairly quickly. (Too bad he didn’t have a gun, which is even faster, but the UK has outlawed guns for the average Joe and no bad guys managed to break into his Ascot estate and kill him with theirs).

All information thus far suggests that it was his effort to pad his massive holdings by suing a former Russian business rival for several billions that finally sunk his boat. When the British judge decided he was an outright liar, Berezovskiy was left having to pay off his lawyers and those of the defendant. That alone probably ran to billions. (But let’s not rein in lawyers; let’s tie the doctors into knots, instead.)

I felt like crying as I read of his money problems; he was actually forced to put two fabulous homes in the south of France on the market and he had to cheat his common-law wife and their two children out of a promised settlement of five million pounds because he had debts to pay. Charity obviously began at home with Berezovskiy, but only for him — not the wife and kiddies.

Oh, well, they say not to speak ill of the dead. It’s just that in the case of Boris Berezovskiy, that’s a tough bit of advice to follow. And since I can’t think of anything good to say, let this be the end of my comments on the miserable thief. Please, rest in peace Mr. Berezovskiy.

Death of an Oligarch

boris berezovskiyUK authorities are going into hyper-drive to discover if Boris Berezovskiy, one of the greatest thieves in history, was done in by the evil forces of Russia. They think he might have been because a) he was one of the greatest thieves in history; b) he was a pal of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko who undoubtedly was done in by Russians of one kind or another; and c) he talked endlessly about bringing down Putin. In fact, his fights over money made him a lot of enemies beyond the Russian Government and he was in no condition to ever make good on his threats against the Russian President, or Prime Minister, depending on the month. When you live your life on a high-wire, Putin isn’t the only man you don’t want to cross, and I imagine Berezovskiy crossed as many people as he had to in pursuit of fabulous wealth. After an incredibly long run with other people’s stolen wealth, Berezovsky had fallen on hard times. He was past his prime, had lived fabulously well but had counted his chickens before they hatched. Of late, or so they say, he was – gasp – worried about money. His lawyer said that “”[a]ll he had was debts…he was practically destroyed. He was  selling his paintings and other things.” Berezovskiy’s money woes were linked in part to a suit brought in the UK against fellow Russian super-thief Roman Abramovich over Sibneft Oil.  (Sibneft is a Russian acronym that stands for Siberian Oil, hence the name Siberian Oil Oil). Berezovskiy claimed he was intimidated into selling his shares to Abramovich cheap, getting only 650 million dollars when it was worth twice as much. Unfortunately for Berezovskiy, the UK court was convinced only that Berezovskiy was a shameless liar and the ruling went against him. Here is what the judge had to say when the trial came to a close:

On my analysis of the entirety of the evidence, I found Mr Berezovsky an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes…At times the evidence which he gave was deliberately dishonest; sometimes he was clearly making his evidence up as he went along in response to the perceived difficulty in answering the questions.

So much for the champion of truth and justice.

Fox News online described Berezovskiy as mathematician-turned-Mercedes dealer.  Ha ha. That’s like calling George Soros a poor Hungarian Jewish boy turned real estate agent and coin collector. (Capitalist vulture Soros, by the way, also had a falling out with Berezovskiy, whom he described as a robber baron. No comment.)

I grabbed from Wikipedia the following bits I know to be true about Berezovskiy’s life and his incredible journey from shabby mathemetician (all Soviets were perforce shabby, as nothing but shabby was available to them in stores) to billionaire.

Berezovsky made his fortune in Russia in the 1990s when the country went through privatisation of state property and “robber capitalism”. He profited from gaining control over various assets, including the country’s main television channel, Channel One. In 1997 Forbes magazine estimated Berezovsky’s wealth at US$3 billion. He was at the height of his power in the later Yeltsin years, when he was deputy secretary of Russia’s security council, a friend of Boris Yeltsin‘s influential daughter Tatyana, and a member of the Yeltsin “family” (inner circle). In a 2000 article in the Washington Post Berezovskiy proclaimed the right of “oligarchs” to meddle in the nation’s politics, arguing that in the absence of civil society “it is acceptable — indeed, necessary (for the rich) to interfere directly in the political process” in order to “protect democracy.”

I bet even my readers who know nothing about Russia can smell the ripeness of that last bit of high-minded baloney from Berezovskiy, who had as deep an attachment to democracy as Josef Stalin. Democracy was useful to him because it allowed him to carry on his shady dealings without being hauled off to the hoosegow without due process. Ask yourself, how does a mere mathematician, even one who was a member of the prestigious Soviet Academy of Sciences, become a billionaire practically overnight? It seems to have been pretty easy to do for a whole slew of vultures who were able to fatten themselves up magnificently on the carcass of the Soviet Union. Illustrious Americans from Harvard helped Russian officials set up the infamous “voucher system” whereby everybody in Russia got a bit of paper in exchange for everything they had endured under communism; with these pieces of paper, they could claim anything from a room in a communal apartment to a factory– but believe me,  most got the room in the communal apartment. The problem was that many people looked at the piece of paper they  held in their hands as just more paper, or perhaps more accurately, just more promises. Having lived under communism they were not willing to trust that the paper was actually worth anything. Many sold their rights for immediate cash, at a much-discounted sale that allowed them to survive by eating with what they got in exchange. But the smart guys, the number guys, the mathematicians and friends of Tatiana Yel’tsin, for example, managed to accumulate millions of such pieces of paper and to take over whole industries. Berezovskiy started out pillaging the Russian automobile industry, airlines, media, and then moved on to the really big time, oil. The last venture proved to be a big bust, because the one thing the Russian powers would not tolerate was the loss of their biggest asset, their hard-currency earner, the sine qua non for Russia’s survival.

As I believe I mentioned in an earlier post, the so-called oligarchs, a euphemism for thieves as the Russian public well understood, later fell afoul of the Russian Government when the befuddled and alcohol-ruined Boris Yel’tsin — who had his own quarrels with Berezovskiy, by the way — ceded supreme power to the tough ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin. Putin was willing to tolerate the oligarchs, they had their uses, but not their political meddling — especially when the meddling was done through stolen State media assets. It may be a long time if ever before we know exactly what propositions were put to these billionaires, but I would guess it went something like this: there will be no more stealing; there will be no using of the stolen wealth to buy power; and if you don’t like it — there are other avenues of action. Some of the men, like Roman Abramovich, seem to have made peace with the new regime and he continues to live high. Others, like Mikhail Khodorkovskiy and Boris Berezovskiy, refused. Khodorkovskiy is still in prison (he was also involved in the Sibneft shenanigans) and Berezovskiy fled to the sanctuary of England, where he made headlines selling himself as a champion of liberty in Russia who was being persecuted as a Jew and a reformer. And now he is gone, perhaps by another’s hand or perhaps by his own. It doesn’t matter in the long run.

Who knows what the Brits will turn up under all those rocks during their investigation. Maybe they will find that the same shady guys who bumped off Litvinenko with polonium also took care of Berezovskiy, but it doesn’t make that much sense. The reality is, Berezovskiy vastly over-extended himself, counting on the great democratic nation of England to save his bacon with the Sibneft suit. It failed, and Berezovskiy was in over his head. He may have been under threat from people he owed money to. Whatever the case, Berezovskiy has gone to meet his Maker. I think he won’t be telling any fibs this time.


Puppets and More Puppets: Global Government in a Nutshell (or a sock)

sock puppetsI’ve linked under Good Reads two reports of some length, but both well worth reading and both written by Christopher Snowdon, a Brit, who describes himself as follows:

…an author, journalist and researcher who focuses on lifestyle freedoms, prohibition and dodgy statistics. He is a research fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, writes for City AM and Spiked, and regularly appears on TV and radio discussing social and economic issues. He wrote Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking (2009) and The Spirit Level Delusion (2010). His most recent book is The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition since 1800 (2011) which looks at the prohibition of alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Born in North Yorkshire, he now lives with his wife and daughter in Sussex.

Snowdon is an iconoclast after my own heart. He has given the reader a lot of food for thought in his analysis of how the Europhiles/Eurocrats are using front groups, otherwise known as non-governmental organizations, to support the European government’s own policy goals. His insight is of particular relevance to the US, where we experience much the same phenomenon.

Back when I was assigned to the US Embassy in Sarajevo, the crabby Croats called NGO’s “travelling dung beetles.” I was managing a US-funded 12 million dollar program to get people back to their homes after they had been displaced by ethnic foes during the ugly civil war in the 1990s. I was not myself, per se, one of those dung beetles, but we did our work through those groups. Even though I resented the implications (the Croats most assuredly did not want Serbs or Moslems coming home to communities the Croats had cleansed or taken over, or their own people going back to places dominated by the others), I could see what they were getting at. The NGOs undoubtedly made their living off the crap left behind by war and would be out of a job if the killing and hate ceased.

Today NGOs have found a wider purpose, that being to play the role of independent, nay, holier-than-though groups who just happen to think that whatever the European Union or the European Commission or the European Parliament wants is the right thing for everybody to want. The catch, of course, is that a great many if not most of these NGOs exist solely because of government (that means taxpayer) funding, even though the taxpayer has no say in who gets the money or what they do with it.

Read and learn. It gives new meaning to “one world.”

Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer

armand hammerI am re-printing below the entire text of an excellent review of the book Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer. It will give you a little insight into the sordid activities of those who feed on the oppression that is the speciality of the left while feathering their own nests to a degree that makes the head spin. Many thanks to the blog sites Hard News and Free Republic, the sources for this information, and special thanks to Edward Jay Epstein for writing this book.

Armand Hammer was one of the odder, more odious characters of American business and politics, “famous” chiefly because he was rich enough to promote his mammoth ego. He has met his match in investigative writer Edward Jay Epstein, who performs the ultimate unmasking of a man who deceived, even betrayed, his country, his family and the hired toadies who posed as his friends.

The public persona that Hammer polished, at great expense, was that of a renegade oilman who made billions from Libyan oil, chummed around with politicians up to White House level and adorned acres of galleries with paintings, some priceless, others fake. Hammer’s lawyers bedeviled honest journalists who tried to write otherwise while he was alive, and they mostly succeeded. Steve Weinberg, author of an earlier critical biography, estimated to me that his British publisher spent $2 million defending a libel suit; it died when Hammer did, at age 92, in 1990.

But now that the wretch is dead, let’s get on with the deferred fun. For Mr. Epstein, the story actually began in 1981, when he interviewed Hammer for the New York Times Magazine. Hammer put on the charm, taking Mr. Epstein to dine with the paper’s publisher, Arthur O. “Punch” Sulzberger, and treating him to six months of travel aboard the Oxy One, owned by his Occidental Petroleum.

Unfortunately for Hammer, another of Mr. Epstein’s sources, James Jesus Angleton, head of counter-intelligence for the Central Intelligence Agency, whispered a tip about a Soviet agent of influence whom a defector identified as “The Capitalist Prince.” Mr. Angleton would not accuse Hammer directly but suggested that “another side” of his activities could be found in documents in a 1927 raid on Arcos, the Soviet trade mission in London.

Mr. Epstein’s Times article suggested that Hammer’s trade with the Soviet Union helped Soviet interests, including espionage, but he had no direct proof. Now the evidence is at hand, and in damning detail, straight from old Soviet archives. The account is of a man who bribed and cheated his way to great wealth — and started with Soviet gold.

Hammer came to communism legitimately. His father, Julius, a Russian immigrant, linked up with Vladimir Lenin at a socialist conference in Berlin in 1907 and “agreed to become part of the elite underground cadre that Lenin would depend on to change the world.” A physician by training, Julius built a small drug chain into Allied Drug and Chemical, purveyor of skin creams and herbal medicines.

When the Bolsheviks seized Russia in 1919, Julius worked with Ludwig Martens, Lenin’s de facto “ambassador” in the United States. Julius used Allied, of which Martens was the covert half-owner, to launder sales proceeds of smuggled diamonds — money that financed a revolutionary Communist Labor Party (CLP) dedicated to “overthrowing the government, expropriating banks, and establishing a proletarian dictatorship.” Julius held card No. 1. The CLP eventually became the Communist Party USA and part of the Communist International (Comintern).

On another level, Julius used Allied Drug to ship equipment to the Soviet Union for which the U.S. government refused export licenses. Julius certified that the shipments were bound for Latvia; in fact, they continued on to Russia. The Soviets were so pleased with Julius’ services that they offered Allied a trading concession that stood to earn him millions.

Then, disaster. Julius ran a small clinic in which young Armand worked while attending medical school. In 1919, the wife of a czarist-era Russian diplomat went to the clinic for an abortion; she died the next day. Julius would not deny that an abortion had been performed, but he insisted that it had been medically justified. A judge disagreed and sent him off to three and one half to twelve years of hard labor. Years later, Armand Hammer confided to a mistress that the wrong Hammer went to jail, that in fact he had performed the fatal operation. Julius had reasoned that a licensed doctor might beat the charge but that a medical student stood no chance.

With his father in jail, in 1921 Armand took over the import deals and left for Moscow on the first leg of an odyssey that would make him “one of the great con men of the twentieth century,” in Mr. Epstein’s words.

Hammer’s cover story was that he helped feed starving Bolsheviks. This was a lie. The Soviets, from Lenin on down, saw him as the ultimate “useful tool” in breaking the Soviet Union out of economic isolation and in providing a conduit through which Moscow could finance espionage and subversion abroad. Mr. Epstein tells in gripping detail how the Soviets used the willing Hammer as a financial errand boy.

Lenin’s grand scheme was to “advance the image of a non-threatening and potentially profitable Soviet Russia.” Lenin relied on capitalist greed to make U.S. German and British businesses vie for Russian concessions and to force their governments to lift trade restrictions. When one of Lenin’s aides asked where he would obtain the rope with which to hang the capitalists, he replied famously, “They’ll supply us with it.”

Lenin used Hammer as his opening pawn in this economic chess game, offering him an abandoned asbestos mine in return for a promise to bring in wheat. Everyone concerned realized the mine was worthless, but it gave the Soviets a means to transfer money to Comintern agents. Lenin issued orders to” make note of Armand Hammer and in every way help him on my behalf if he applies.” There were admonitions to keep the relationship secret lest there be a “fatal effect” on Hammer.

Expansion was swift. Hammer persuaded automaker Henry Ford to move into the Soviet Union to develop the “Fordson” tractor. There were fur deals, and a Hammer pencil factory was given a Soviet monopoly. The Soviets permitted Hammer sweetheart deals on sales abroad of precious czarist art. (When Hammer depleted his stock of Faberge eggs, no problem: He counterfeited them in New York.)

The most important element was Allied Drug, which acted as the Soviets’ de facto banker in the United States, laundering millions of Soviet dollars through sham transactions. Hammer eventually made millions in such enterprises as liquor, oil refining and art. The constant element, according to Mr. Epstein, was bribery and sharp dealing, including his capstone deal, the acquisition of Libyan oil rights for his Occidental Petroleum Co.

Hammer never deceived the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, who in 1919 began creating a massive file, “61-280 — Armand Hammer, Internal Security — Russia,” scrawling across the front, “a rotten bunch.” Hoover knew that Hammer financed Comintern agents but did not move, knowing that “it is often more profitable not to arrest a detected courier” when there is no assurance that the replacement will be detected.

Hammer recognized the utility of buying politicians, and here Mr. Epstein understates one of his juicier stories: how the impecunious Senator Albert Gore Sr. got the wealth to enable him to live in splendor in Washington’s Fairfax Hotel and to send son, Al Jr., now the vice president, to the pricey St. Albans school.

In 1950, Hammer made Mr. Gore “a partner in a cattle-breeding business, from which the Senator made a substantial profit.” Thereafter, Gore was Hammer’s designated door-opener in official Washington. When Mr. Gore retired, Hammer made him president of Occidental’s coal division, where he “earned more than $500,000 a year.”

Son Al next put the family’s Senate seat at Hammer’s service. At the 1981 inauguration of Ronald Reagan, Junior managed for Hammer to be seated in a section reserved for senators. Hammer lurked in the doorway, hoping to glad-hand the president, but Mr. Reagan brushed by him without a glance, and with reason. Years earlier, Alexandre de Marenches, the head of French intelligence, had warned him that Hammer was a Soviet “agent of influence.”

If Hades has a reading room, I hope, for the sake of various souls who are damned to share eternity with this sleazy character, that it stocks Mr. Epstein’s book. A rousing read!


Blow, Ill Wind-bag, Blow Away


wind, bag : noun, derogatory, a person who talks at length but says little of any value

I don’t know if you remember that old Billie Holiday song “Blow, Ill-Wind, Blow Away,” but it sprang to mind as I listened to an audio clip on Fox News of that dangerous buffoon and gigantic windbag Michael Bloomberg. His latest shot across the bow of personal liberty was his considered judgment that the invasion of privacy has become so pervasive and will become so much more pervasive with the use of drones that the concept of privacy is now passé– just think of  all the cameras going up in every nook and cranny, he says. But he can live with it and as far as he’s concerned you can’t stop it, so don’t waste your time trying. His advice, which could soon become an edict for New Yorkers if I know Bloomberg, was get used to it. Since he personally can’t get enough of the cameras, he wants to share his predilection with you.
bloomberg dartboard
Hold on while I throw a sharp object right into the center of Bloomberg’s forehead adorning my dartboard — right there, where there should be a brain but isn’t.

This is what happens when one person accumulates too much money and can’t buy the vision or personal character that ought, in a decent world, to accompany it. This phenomenon is particularly pronounced among the ultra-rich far left (apparently NOT an oxymoron!). One of the earliest known exemplars of left-wing frauds was Armand Hammer, a man close to the Kremlin’s heart during the dark years of communism, and one who profited enormously from that association. No selfless do-gooder he! My next post concerns an article on the book Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer by Edward Jay Epstein. The details offered in this review are so relevant to the activity of today’s jet-set ideologues that I will reprint it in full. You won’t want to miss it  — you will discover that consorting with the enemy is not the exclusive domain of Al Gore Jr., but was handed down to him, like his name, from his dear departed Daddy.

Honestly, I am completely fed up with these people who can actually buy and sell countries, who could live a thousand years and never eat into their wealth, telling the rest of us schlemiels how to live, what to buy, what not to buy, what to think, and whom to vote for. These are the same galoots who told conscientious white people several generations ago that it was criminal to have more than two kids, while the rest of humanity was alleviating the boredom of life in the Third World by begetting five or eight or fifteen kids they couldn’t feed. Which in turn led to the same boneheads telling us we were using up too much of the world’s resources because there were a gazillion non-white people whose kids were starving. And of course leading to the current situation in which all that can be seen of white people globally are the hands thrashing as they sink under the sea of other-hued people.

The all-knowing, all-wise and all-bull, all-the-time leftists offer us advice that invariably involves something that will have a huge impact on our own lives, but will be less than a gnat on an elephant to them. Like drone warfare, their advice is risk-free and so very easy. And always, inevitably, far more righteous than anything you might want to do. Things like paying more of your earnings to the government to help finance, expand, and make mandatory all the things they find peachy-keen and spend their pin money on.

Let’s hear what wisdom these people have to dispense:

It is sort of a disease when you consider yourself some kind of god, the creator of everything, but I feel comfortable about it now since I began to live it out. ~ George Soros, June 3, 1993

dracula(Rumor has it that George Soros actually began living out that dream millenia ago in a small village in Rumania, but there’s nobody around to confirm it, Vladimir Lenin having succumbed to death some time ago. Or we think so. The Russians have got his waxy yellow self  under a seal so tight he’ll never escape, even if he is among the undead.)

Here’s another insightful comment uttered only recently, this one from that chubby-faced Boy Wonder, Bill Gates:

[I]t’s ironic that right now it feels like I wish there was slightly more power in the presidency to avoid some of these deadlocks. So I think what he [Obama] wants to do and what he’s actually able to do, the gap is so big there that it’s hard to know in some ways.”

Okay, so that last quote is probably as close as we can get to reproducing in words the wimpy half-formed character of Bill Gates, who wears glasses so you can’t see there is nothing behind his eyes. This comment nevertheless suggests that he doesn’t see any problem with the enormous gap between what our Constitution allows Obama to do unilaterally and what Obama would like to do to America (maybe the world) unilaterally. It appears the flaw is with our Constitution and not with the megalomaniac in the White House. I want to console Mr. Gates, reminding him that the unfettered use of his and other left-wingers’ money to play at God may well succeed in remaking everybody’s lives but theirs, sooner rather than later, at least here at home.

But let’s get back to Michael Bloomberg, because I want to point out that this blow-hard dictator, a man of unlimited funds and even more self-satisfaction, was originally voted into office in New York under the banner of the Republican Party despite the fact that theretofore he had been a Democrat. When the Republican currency began to lose its value (in which I see the hand of that crafty currency-crasher Soros), he jumped ship, becoming an independent. Now he appears to have become a Marxist. I suspect these super-rich imps will soon form their own party to the left of Marxism, something special for the new world, perhaps called WOY (We Own You). It will have a paid membership — they will pay you to belong– and as many top spots as there are megabillionaires, excluding only the lonely Koch brothers. Since they all lack intellectual creativity or diversity of thought, they could easily rule jointly, with any one of them speaking for the others at any given moment.

blobIs it any wonder that the Republican Party is drifting the way of the dinosaur, when it runs for office such high-morphability candidates as Bloomberg and Charlie (Hallo, Sailor!) Crist, while turning its back on candidates who have some principles? The new logo of the Republicans shouldn’t be the elephant, it should be The Blob. And the new logo of the Bloomberg party should be The Hammer and Camera.

Hey, Bloomberg — there are other options available for those of us who believe in limited government than just to let you thugs walk all over us and our fundamental rights. If you knew any US history, you could figure out what those are, or you might want to consult the Constitution, the one you don’t give a damn about. You could ask Mad King George about what happens when ultra-rich people use other people like floor mops. There will be developments that derive from the massive abuse of power by people of your ilk, and all your money won’t protect you from it. Cant’ stop it, don’t try. Just get used to it.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

kangaroo courtJust a word more relating to my item on Syria and chemical weapons of March 20 — I was listening to the news yesterday and admit that even I, cynic that I may be, was mouth agape at the latest twist in the story. I wanted to be sure I had not misunderstood, so I went online this morning to check it out. It was as I thought. Now it appears that it doesn’t matter if it is Syria’s armed forces who use the chemical weapons or if somebody else uses them, including the “rebels” aka party to civil war whom we are supporting. That tracks with what Israel’s Intelligence Minister said yesterday — it doesn’t matter who uses them. Here is what Fox News reports:

President Obama said Wednesday that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would  be a “game-changer” that would demand action from the international community,  though he stressed that the U.S. and other nations are still trying to determine  whether those weapons were used.

So, it’s all up to us. If we determine chemical weapons were used, who cares by whom, it will demand action. An expert on chemical weapons says it is by now impossible to confirm if they were used, but I don’t think it will be a problem. He’s a nobody, not the President of the United States or France or Prime Minister of the UK. He’s not SACEUR NATO.

Andif anybody out there thinks the punitive action will be against the “rebels,” you might want to think again.

So now the guy we’re trying to oust as head of government doesn’t even have to cross our red line or be culpable of the action we deplore. If anybody at all crosses that red line, or if the chemical weapons come from Syria or some other country, like Turkey, or some ill-intentioned actor, like Al Qaeda, it’s curtains for the Assad regime. NATO will send up the bombers and play the big, chest-thumping hero again. And the men who are really planning to take over Syria will be waiting in the wings. They won’t be the good guys, because the good guys are incompetent and focused only on the short-term.

Doesn’t that give a hell of a lot of power to players like Turkey or Qatar or (dare I say it?) the US to create all by themselves the pretext for a military action? You bet it does. It pays to be the big bully on everybody’s block rather than the little bully on your own block — we are in the age of “power without borders.”

I found at Wikipedia a statement by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that came to mind as I write this. It shows how long we have been in this militaristic mode:

According to Albright’s memoirs, she once argued with Colin Powell for the use of military force by asking, “What’s the point of you having this superb military, Colin, if we can’t use it?”

Maybe those pushing relentlessly to start a new war in the Middle East will reconsider their plans. I hope they will. But I don’t think so. That amorphous “international community” that has proven so useful to our military adventurism will soon be demanding that NATO take action, waging war in the service of peace. Since it is unlikely that Assad, much less all those Syrians who support him, will lay down and play dead, you can figure out what comes next. Once more we will take reckless but easy military action to assert our point of view. Bombing is easy. It’s only the fallout we can’t contain.


Syria: Moving Right Along into Another War

chemical weaponsSo here is where we are: the US has warned loudly and repeatedly that if Syria uses its chemical weapons, there will be no choice but to go to war to remove from power yet another government. Chemical weapons use = red line = NATO assault. Syria, as far as anyone knows, has not used such weapons. But now it seems, or at least the Syrian government claims, that the rebels, supported by illustrious war-makers in the West, have used chemical weapons against government supporters. And medics at the hospital in Aleppo who are treating the victims claim evidence of choking and the presence of phosphorous. But we are told by Assad opponents and activists that phosphorous isn’t a chemical weapon and is found in weapons used by regime forces. The attack took place close to a police academy taken over by rebels but surrounded by government troops and it wasn’t rebels who were hurt, but government supporters. Are you dizzy yet?

I promise, you are going to get even more confused about all this before you get things straight when the NATO propaganda campaign goes into high gear and explains it all. Already the rebels, the Turks supporting the rebels, and Qatar, also supporting the rebels — two Islamic regimes against the secular Syrian regime — all say “not us — how could we possibly have chemical weapons?” I thought immediately of all those chemical weapons stockpiled all over the place that the West fears because they could so easily end up in the hands of the bad guys. That means Al Qaeda and all its numerous affiliates, not the Syrian regime, who are also bad guys but who already know where the weapons are.

If you haven’t heard it yet, you are going to hear the people who are practically wetting their drawers for a chance to launch NATO again (that would be France and UK and a whole slew of Americans like John McCain) claiming that it was the Syrian government that actually killed its own supporters to sully the good name of the rebels. That would, of course, mean that Syria had crossed the red line and provide the pretext certain NATO leaders want to start the bombing. Listen to this, from the Wall Street Journal of 20 March:

“We are deeply skeptical of a regime that has lost all credibility,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. The White House and State Department suggested Damascus’s charge may be a cover for President Bashar al-Assad regime’s own use of chemical or biological weapons. “We would also warn the regime against making these kinds of charges as any kind of pretext or cover for its use of chemical weapons,” Mr. Carney said.

And this, too:

Russia’s Foreign Ministry backed the Syrian government report, saying rebels
detonated a munition containing an unidentified chemical agent, the Associated
Press reported.

And from ABC news:

A senior Israeli official said Wednesday that it is “apparently clear” that chemical weapons were recently used in Syria…The statement by Yuval Steinitz, the newly appointed minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, conflicts with U.S. assessments that there is no evidence behind accusations traded the day before between Syrian rebels and the Bashar Assad regime of a chemical weapons attack in a village in the north of the country.

And finally, this:

The Russians appear to be “taking the regime’s word” for the charges, said
Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman.

(And that last comment comes to you from the spokeswoman for the Benghazi stonewall.)

Meanwhile, the leader of the Syrian opposition, Syrian-American Ghassan Hitto, was installed as head of an unelected “government in exile”  in NATO’s Turkey amid accusations from opposition circles that this business executive turned humanitarian worker was pushed into that role by the hard-line Islamists fighting Assad. Whatever the case, Hitto made it known immediately that, because of the attack with chemical weapons — well, maybe — by the Assad regime — really? — there is no use negotiating with the Syrian government. His comments come in the midst of a debate among the opposition about whether or not to negotiate with Assad.

Ah, it all brings back old times, when NATO set up the bogus Rambouillet negotiations after they finished bombing Serbia.

smoke and mirrorsSmoke and mirrors, mirrors and smoke. The only thing you can be sure of is NATO sticking its explosive fingers in there, sooner or later. Perhaps they can arrange for the assassination of Assad in the process.

Pat Buchanan thinks the anti-interventionist wing of the conservative movement is growing. I’m saying my prayers. It’s long past time to put the NATO bombers back in their hangars until such time as there is a real threat to the Alliance, not just a chance to get rid of somebody you don’t like.