Politics & Policy

The curious case of the Commie cadet, &c.

(Image via Twitter)
West Point’s weirdest, the ‘Populist International,’ a letter to JFK, the LaRouche view, Milwaukee, and more

Just when you think you’ve seen everything, you meet the Commie cadet — the graduate of West Point who is a devotee of Communism. When did he graduate? Last year. We now have pictures of him at graduation.

See this Newsweek article, for example.

The cadet holds up a fist and shows the inside of his cap — on which he has written, “Communism will win.” He also opens up his uniform, to reveal the T-shirt underneath: a Che Guevara shirt.

Newsweek’s writer says, “Sounds like the kind of thing that would rile up the right, yes?” He further notes that conservatives indeed “erupted with rage.”

Considering Communism and its record — the millions of murders, the endless misery, the denial of basic human rights — why should it be only conservatives who are riled up, etc.?

Strange.

‐Anne Applebaum writes about what she calls the “Populist International” — an out-and-out movement, recognized as such by its leaders, proudly. Just the other day, Nigel Farage was talking about this movement: “the whole global movement.”

Applebaum wrote about him, specifically, here.

Farage, as you know, is the former UKIP leader in Britain. And he was campaigning in Alabama, for Senate candidate Roy Moore. Farage had come from Germany, where he campaigned for the AfD, a.k.a. Germany’s alt-Right. (“AfD” stands for “Alternative für Deutschland.”)

The Populist International consists of the AfD, of course, and Marine Le Pen and Viktor Orbán and the “Freedom” party in Austria and the “Law and Justice” party in Poland and so on. Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks are part of it all too. And hovering over the movement is the ruler in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin.

Earlier this year, two Republican congressmen, Steve King and Dana Rohrabacher, huddled with Madame Le Pen. They discussed what King called “shared values.” No doubt.

Lately, I have heard much more enthusiasm for Orbán from my fellow American conservatives than I have for, say, Paul Ryan. To say nothing of Mitch McConnell.

A lot of conservatives — good, normal, Reagan-appreciating conservatives — think they can ride the nationalist-populist tiger. “Pas d’ennemis à gauche,” goes the old line of French radicals: “No enemies to the left.” There are many, many who hold to “Pas d’ennemis à droit” — “No enemies to the right.”

I think they are going to be very sorry, these good conservatives.

‐Yesterday on Twitter, Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, circulated a letter. It was written in 1961 by Lou Saban, the coach of the Boston Patriots (later the New England Patriots). (The late Coach Saban was not a relative — at least not a close relative — of today’s famous coach Nick Saban.) The recipient of the letter was President Kennedy.

Saban tells him the Patriots could use him as a receiver. He also encourages him to watch a game or two. But I was most struck by the end of the letter: Saban wishes the president well in his “battle for democracy and freedom.”

Did Americans ever talk that way? Yes. And more recently than 1961. And they can again.

‐Thomas Massie, a Republican congressman from Kentucky, elected in 2012, said something very interesting. I will quote the Washington Examiner:

“I thought they were voting for libertarian Republicans,” Massie said of the Republican voters who had delivered the Tea Party victories. “But after some soul-searching, I realized when they voted for Rand and Ron [Paul] and me in these primaries, they weren’t voting for libertarian ideas. They were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race. And Donald Trump won best in class.”

For the article, go here.

‐Lyndon LaRouche is still kickin’ — he is 95 — and so are his followers. I saw them in New York City the other day. They had set up prominent stands in a prominent place: Columbus Circle. They were all for Trump and all against Robert Mueller — saying that the Russia investigation was a fraud, etc.

Huh.

‐After Roy Moore defeated Luther Strange in the Republican primary (Alabama), President Trump deleted his tweets — the ones in which he had praised and boosted Strange.

Huh, again. I did not figure Trump for a tweet-deleter. I thought he was more an “own it” — an “out and proud” — kind of guy.

‐I was enthusiastic about several of Trump’s cabinet picks, including Mattis at Defense, DeVos at Education, and Price at HHS. As far as I was concerned, Tom Price was the No. 1 Republican congressman on health care. A doctor himself, he spoke impressively on the subject. I thought he was just the right guy in the right job: HHS secretary. He was the one, I thought, who would guide the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare.

Boy, was I wrong. I am surprised and saddened. I expected his tenure to be superb. Damn.

‐Over the years, I have read many, many articles on the Castro regime’s doctors racket: They send doctors abroad, making serious money for themselves — for the regime — while paying the doctors themselves very little. Often, the doctors defected to the United States, until President Obama blocked them from doing so.

Anyway, I have never read a better article on the subject than the one the New York Times published on Friday (here). It is by Ernesto Londoño and is datelined Rio de Janeiro. Let me quote a little:

In a rare act of collective defiance, scores of Cuban doctors working overseas to make money for their families and their country are suing to break ranks with the Cuban government, demanding to be released from what one judge called a “form of slave labor.”

Thousands of Cuban doctors work abroad under contracts with the Cuban authorities. Countries like Brazil pay the island’s Communist government millions of dollars every month to provide the medical services, effectively making the doctors Cuba’s most valuable export.

But the doctors get a small cut of that money, and a growing number of them in Brazil have begun to rebel. In the last year, at least 150 Cuban doctors have filed lawsuits in Brazilian courts to challenge the arrangement, demanding to be treated as independent contractors who earn full salaries, not agents of the Cuban state.

“When you leave Cuba for the first time, you discover many things that you had been blind to,” said Yaili Jiménez Gutierrez, one of the doctors who filed suit. “There comes a time when you get tired of being a slave.”

‐Let’s have a little language. Thanks to a horrific hurricane, many American TV reporters are saying “Puerto Rico” — and saying it kind of funnily. I wrote a piece about all this — the pronunciation of foreign place-names and related issues — 15 years ago. Go here. Kind of interesting, kind of amusing (I hope).

By the way, Mark Helprin, in a recent novel, writes “Porto Rico” and “Porto Rican” — old-fashioned orthography, and not so bad.

‐A little music? I wrote a brief post, publishing a letter — a letter about a young couple’s first experience with the opera. Try it here.

‐Some more music? For my “Salzburg Chronicle,” published in the new New Criterion, go here.

‐Some sports? On Saturday night, Andrew Romine of the Detroit Tigers played all nine positions — all nine positions in one game. He became the fifth major-league player to do it. To read about this feat (or stunt?), go here.

Why did the Tigers do it? Well, Romine is a versatile guy, and they were showing that off. He even pitches, yes. But also, the Tigers are like the worst team in baseball — and were just goofing off at the end of the year.

‐I was interested to read an obit of Kenneth Silverman, a scholar of our colonial period. He won the Pulitzer prize for his biography of Cotton Mather. He also worked in other fields — writing biographies of Edgar Allan Poe, Samuel Morse, and John Cage.

And Houdini.

Now, when young, Silverman performed as a magician. A real live magician. I love the way this obit ends:

Adhering to the magician’s unwritten code, he refused to reveal the secrets behind Houdini’s most famous tricks. Historian and magician struggled. In the end, Pulitzer or no Pulitzer, the magician won.

‐When you’re out and about in Milwaukee, people say hello to you. Amazing. So friendly.

‐They have a spanking-new skyscraper downtown: the Northwestern Mutual building. Glassy — crystal-like — and attractive.

‐You ever had September 7 cake? I hadn’t. Pretty good. (It’s cake, after all.)

‐When my nephew was little, he was served a bowl of chicken-noodle soup. His grandmother said, “Chicken-noodle soup: What could be better?” He answered, “Cake.”

‐On the subject of food: If I’m ever on Death Row and have the opportunity of a last meal, my choice is this: a grilled-cheese sandwich (cheddar), a Diet Pepsi, and a vanilla custard shake, all from Northpoint in Milwaukee.

‐There is a Northpoint in the Milwaukee airport. There is also my favorite sign in all of America. You see it just after you go through security. “Recombobulation Area.”

‐I mentioned this on Twitter. A man sent me a picture of a favorite sign of his — a bronze plaque in the Pittsburgh airport. It shows the Statue of Liberty. And it quotes the Emma Lazarus poem: “From her beacon-hand glows worldwide welcome.”

‐When I got back to New York, a cabbie asked me where I had been. He is a relative newcomer to America. I said, “Milwaukee.” He said, “Is that in Hawaii?”

Good guess. I never realized how Hawaiian “Milwaukee” sounds.

 

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