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New Year’s Eve, 2014

We had ambitions to write something about the latest economic news today, but that requires too much research and reasoning, the weather is too dismal to deal with the dismal science, and the date on the calendar makes it too easy to put off such serious matters until next year. New Year’s Eve is best spent at leisure, recuperating from the year past and readying oneself for the one ahead.
Some people celebrate the occasion by getting rip-roaring drunk, which might be useful for recuperating but is not conducive to readying. Others prefer a quiet and contemplative evening at home, but even their most thoughtful resolutions are usually long forgotten by the time the weight loss programs and smoking cessation drugs and health club membership ads have disappeared from the airwaves sometime in early February. Our preference is for something in between, with a couple of convivial libations along with a hearty repast in the company of few old friends before heading home to quiet and solitude to steel ourselves for the the coming months of cold and barren winter and whatever might come after that. A few inexplicably lucky folks will spend the day golfing on some publicly funded by otherwise private golf in warm and sunny Hawaii, but we’ll forgo our rants about that guy until another day.
Tomorrow is a day off for almost everyone, which is certainly worth celebrating, and we still have a few tweaks left on a novel that will be e-published any minute now and a few other important end-of-the-year chores to attend to, so we’ll leave the macro-economics and the rest of that big picture stuff until next week. Whatever plans you might have for the rest of the day, we thank you for spending a moment of it here and hope the rest goes even better.
Happy New Year.

— Bud Norman

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Another Year “Tweets” By

We rarely “tweet,” partly because it sounds so newfangled and sissified, partly because we can’t compress even a quick cussing into so few characters, but there’s no denying that Twitter is now the national soap box. Whatever people are “tweeting” about is what people are talking about, no matter what topics the big-time editors and producers might prefer, and we try to pay some heed to the vox populi.
With the year winding desultorily down and all the pundits writing about their looks back with regret, we were especially intrigued by a chart showing what topics “trended” on Twitter over the past months. The chart suggests that the public’s news judgment is no more astute than those of the big-time editors and producers, and that passing fancies can be become national obsessions before they pass, and that our own priorities are as usual markedly different from the average American’s.
One of the first noticeable spikes on the chart came after President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union, which we had forgotten completely. We’re sure we wrote something or another about it, probably something snarky, but otherwise have no recollection of the event taking place. If anyone can recall a single line of the speech, they’re unlikely to be “tweeting” it now. There’s a conspicuously smaller spike following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but we suppose that doesn’t fit into “tweet” size as neatly as a State of the Union speech. A far bigger spike followed the release of a wiretapped audio recording of a professional basketball team owner’s racist rant to his young mixed-race mistress, and given that he was an already disliked old man and the mistress was young and kind of hot there’s an understandable interest in such eavesdropping, but we had also forgotten about that matter. Another biggie was the Supreme’s Court Hobby Lobby decision more or less upholding religious freedom over Obamacare, a matter we followed closely, but we recall that many of the “tweets” were lamenting that some mean old church-goers weren’t being forced to pay for abortifacients.
Then “MH 17” pops up, and we had to go to a search engine to find out that meant the Malaysian airliner which went mysteriously missing back when the weather was better, which was an intriguing puzzler but never came to any satisfactory conclusion and was suddenly cancelled like one of those endlessly plot-twisting network series. The shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, produced the highest total of “tweets” all year, most of them decrying such outrageous abuses. Some pro football player beating up his girlfriend provided another spike, then an even surge came after the mid-term elections installed Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress for reasons having little to do with anything people were “tweeting” about. After some “tweeting” about the Ebola Virus, which we haven’t acquired yet and had largely forgotten about, the biggest spike came when a grand jury declined to indict that Ferguson police officer, apparently because of the overwhelming physical evidence and eyewitness testimony that he had acted in self-defense, and then there was “tweeting” about Sony’s computer getting hacked and it’s widely-planned comedy release being blackmailed.
Much of “tweeting” public is admirably apolitical, and prefers to express pithy opinions about personal matters, so we were further interested to see what topics had produced the most “tweets” from liberal and conservative “activists.” We’re not sure how these people were identified, but it’s a plausible comparison. Apparently conservatives were most concerned with guns, Iraq, Obamacare, Benghazi, Israel, the Ferguson matter and another black man’s fatal encounter with police, then immigration and the mid-terms. This seems to comport with our conversations with conservatives, although the order would be re-arranged. We’re told that liberals were most concerned with the Ferguson matter, the mid-terms, Obamacare, Iraq, guns, the Koch Brothers, Israel, Russia and Ukraine, then marijuana. Our encounters with liberals suggest they have little interest in foreign countries so long as American corporations are not profiting there, but the rest of it, especially about the Koch Brothers and marijuana, sounds about right.
International crises and cops and robbers and the resulting racial contretemps and the occasional scandal from the sports world will no doubt keep Twitter twittering through the next year, along with the Koch Brothers and marijuana and State of the Union addresses and all the other perennial topics, but we’ll try to form our own judgments of what’s important. We can’t do any worse than the general public or those big-time editors and producers.

— Bud Norman

The End-of-the-Year Clearance Sale

The news is still on vacation, even if the working stiffs are back on the job and hoping to get another four-day weekend out of the last of the holidays, and the pundits are left with their usual year-end wrap-ups or predictions for the coming twelve months. The predictions are rarely useful, and always put forth with confidence that they will be long forgotten by the time they do not come to pass, but there’s something to be said for taking a brief look back at the year’s events.
Looking back on a year such as 2014 feels uncomfortably like Lot’s wife looking back on burning Sodom, but it is almost worth being turned into a pillar of salt to recall what seemed temporarily important during all those black-letter days on the calendar. So many stories mesmerize the public for a few news cycles, then suddenly vanish as thoroughly and mysteriously as that missing Malaysian airliner that was all the talk a few months back, and it is good to reminded of the ones that still matter. Those girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria are still in the most horrible sort of captivity, despite the flurry of hashtags that well-intentioned and utterly ineffectual westerners sent out for they disappeared from the headlines. Russia is still control of a large chunk of what used to be Ukraine, the Islamic State is still mass-murdering in much of what used to be Syria and Iraq, Iran is still progressing steadily toward nuclear weapons and talks about it are still ongoing, and China is still making trouble for all its neighbors. Further infuriating relegations about the Internal Revenue Service are coming out, Obamacare is still a mess, those many tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America who showed up last summer are still in the public’s care somewhere or another, a memorandum or executive order or some strange constitutional go-around are still inviting a few million more illegal immigrants, the labor participation rate remain low and the number of people dependent on government assistance remains high, and Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress are still going to be installed in a few long days because the public was fuming about it all less than two months ago.
The year-end wrap-ups are hard to reconcile with the popular predictions, but the press will press on. Since the mid-term elections, which were so far back it was almost two months ago, the prevailing storyline has been that happy days are here again and that the president is going to reap the popularity and the Republicans will be sorry they ever messed with him. Such giddy optimism is all the rage now, but we’re going to stick with our old-fashioned gloom and doom. There’s nothing the press can do about the international situation except avert its gaze, the Obamacare rate hikes will arrive in the nation’s mailboxes even the media does avert its gaze, the Republican majorities in Congress will be able to force the media gaze on the IRS and any other scandals that pop up, the government’s restraints on the economy will still be apparent to the industries driving those suspicious but hopeful statistics that the press are touting, and that illegal immigration policy that the press is calling a great political victory remains unpopular in a highly motivating way. It all seems rather messy at the moment, and we expect that will continue for a while.
Which is not to venture any prediction, mind you, other than that some things will get worse and some things will get better. That prediction has never yet made us look foolish, so we will go that far.

— Bud Norman

Nothing Today

Christmas has passed, but the lights on our block will stay up into the New Year and a sort of holiday atmosphere will prevail through the last of the college football games, so we see no reason to concern ourselves with the latest events until then. After New Year’s it’s just a long, hard slog through the snow and the cold and the imperceptibly diminishing darkness toward spring, or “tornado season” as we call it around here, so there will be plenty of time and an appropriately gloomy atmosphere to consider the state of the world.
There are still the final fiddlings to be added to a novel soon to be e-pulished, too, and the house is still rather messy. A few old friends we can think of really should be contacted, as well, and with so much to do we can’t be expected to provide our usual profundities. We can only wish you a lingering holiday spirit, and thank you for your loyal readership, and hope that will suffice.

— Bud Norman

Christmas Day, 2014

Today’s big news comes from The Gospel According to Luke.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
We have nothing to add, except our thanks to you for dropping by and our wishes that you have a Merry Christmas.

— Bud Norman

Christmas Eve, 2014

There’s plenty of news out there, no doubt, but today we will pay it no heed. Today is Christmas Eve, and except in the unlikely event that the civil defense sirens start blaring we will not concern ourselves with the cares of the world.
Christmas Eve is better spent running the last minute chores required to host large gatherings of family and friends, and then enduring their petty squabbles and oft-told stories, but our solitary and ascetic lifestyle spares us such enviable hassles. Instead we will sleep late, enjoy our annual playing of the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s swinging “Nutcracker Suite,” maybe put on that great old Mahalia Jackson Christmas album that an old girlfriend with a knack for gift-giving once gave us, then give the old place an overdue straightening-up, and put some final obsessive meddling into a novel we’ve written which is almost ready for e-publication. At some point in the evening we’ll get together with some old friends, then cook up some steaks that have already been thoughtfully provided as an early Christmas present by some parents with a knack for gift-giving, and perhaps we’ll play that Christmas album by Brave Combo, the fabulous punk polka band from Denton, Texas, or reach into the vinyl for our family’s ancient copy of Gene Autry singing about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and ¬†we’ll savor the once-a-year feeling of Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve was always a big event in our childhood, a time when the family ate pizza or some other non-traditional fare and played that same old Gene Autry album as well as a Mitch Miller sing-along on the hi-fi, then opened all the gifts from all the Okie relatives and all our gift-giving friends. The more extravagant gifts from Santa Claus were put off until Christmas morning, but even the folks offered a few small tokens that were almost worth the obligatory slide shows documenting our goofy-looking younger days, and we had a lot of love and laughter. This year the family is scattered from one end of the United States to the other, with us inconveniently located somewhere in the middle, Santa Claus is is busy with the younger children who have been nicer and less naughty than ourselves, and a few of the most beloved of those Okie relatives are bravely battling the most brutal of diseases, and many of the family and friends who populate our most cherished memories of Christmas Eve will celebrate in their afterlives. Still, there’s something about the number on the calendar will bring us all closer together.
At some point today we will say a prayer for our Okie relatives, who are far better people than ourselves, and for anyone else that a reader who has wandered to this page might know who is similarly afflicted, and we will give thanks that we have this day together on God’s good earth. We’ll say a prayer about all that other news, too, whatever it might be, but will prefer to consider the good news that the world celebrates tomorrow. The winter solstice passed on Sunday, shortly after the preacher at the West Douglas Church of Christ had delivered us a heartening sermon on the greatest gifts we receive in life, and we are certain the days will grow longer into summertime, and that great things will yet come, and we are resolved to be grateful and hopeful. On this Christmas Eve we wish you all good health and a happy life, and care little about anything else.

— Bud Norman

The City and the ’70s

The headline at the Drudge Report shouted “Tensions in NYC like ’70s,” and we shuddered at the thought. We well remember what New York City was like during that dismal decade, and had hoped it would never again get so bad.
Those too young to recall the urban nightmare need only watch the movies of the era, now running on late night television as cautionary tales. In “The Out of Towners” Jack Lemmon is mugged, kidnapped, beset by mass transit and sanitation strikes, nearly killed by a manhole explosion, and attacked by protestors outside a United Nations embassy, and that’s a light Neil Simon comedy to start off the decade. “Panic in Needle Park,” Fort Apache: The Bronx,” “Death Wish,” “The French Connection,” the gunning gag about Central Park muggings in “Where’s Poppa,” and of course “Taxi Driver,” with its memorable lines about a hard rain washing all the scum off the streets and its blood-splattered climax, are all more realistic accounts. “The Warriors” and “Escape From New York” belong to the decade’s vast genre of dystopian futurist movies, by they’re not far off the mark. The era is still fondly recalled by the coke-addled denizens of Studio 54 and the artsier sorts who thought all the graffiti-covered and trash-strewn mayhem was somehow invigorating, but those who had to make their way to work and back home to an exorbitantly-priced have no such nostalgia.
We still recall a telephone conversation during the late ’70s with a college chum who had moved to the big city. Expecting to be regaled Runyon-esque tales of Gotham, we were surprised to hear him describe an urban nightmare more redolent Heironymous Bosch. Our friend was a small town Kansas boy, but he was also a pony-tailed hippie and a liberal, and he frankly confessed that he had no idea how the time might go about saving itself. Taxes were already so sky-high that any further increases would only drive more taxpayers away thus result in even less revenue, he conceded, and social services were generous enough to lure all sorts of troublesome characters to the streets, and the criminals were being treated with as much sensitivity as even America’s most progressive city could muster, so our friend was stumped. The best advice he could offer was to not let our own hometown get in such bad shape.
Not long after that the city was so short on ideas that it elected Rudy Giuliani as Mayor, and he famously cut taxes, but new restrictions on social services, and started enforcing order on the streets. Although counter-intuitive to New Yorkers, the program put the city’s finances in good enough order to fund basic services, the economy improved enough to provide jobs for former welfare cases, and the crime rate fell so dramatically that tourists were tempted to take walk through Times Square or Central Park. It worked so well, in fact, that New Yorkers took the good times for granted and assumed it was safe to return to the city’s old ways of doing things.
Higher taxes on the richest workers who have largely supported the city, more free stuff for the ones who aren’t working at all, and more sensitivity toward the criminal class were the platform that got Mayor Bill de Blasio elected. When several of his officers were involved in a fatal encounter with an unarmed man who was illegally selling cigarettes and was unwilling to be arrested for it, he didn’t call for an investigation of the questionable methods that caused the death, or ask for the city’s respect for a grand jury that declined to press charges, or question the city’s tobacco policies that created the black market the man was dealing in, but rather spoke of how his biracial son was endangered by the city’s police and egged on the protests that chanted for the murder of police. The chanters got their wish on Saturday, when two New York City police officers were gunned down by a man who had proclaimed his motive of revenge on the internet, and already the headlines liken the tension to the ’70s.
The cops in New York have no desire to return to that violent decade, and we hope that the rest of the city is similarly disinclined. People seem to have to relearn the lessons of the past from time to time, however, even when those lessons are playing on the late night movies.

— Bud Norman

Officers Ramos and Liu, RIP

The many recent protests regarding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have often featured chants for the murder of police officers, and such evil wishes came true on Saturday. Two of New York City’s finest were shot down in cold blood, apparently in retaliation for the highly publicized deaths of two unarmed black men by police, and many of those who stoked the angriness of the protests are offering their condolences.
In Brown’s case an unassailable array of physical evidence and numerous eyewitnesses eventually corroborated the officer’s claim of self-defense against an intimidatingly large man who had gone for his gun, and in Garner’s case a videotape of the unhealthy man’s fatal encounter with a neck hold and pile of officers demonstrated what was arguably excessive force against his attempt to resist arrest but not murderous intent, yet both were widely exploited as proof of a deadly war by law enforcement against law-abiding black men. The use of deadly force by police officers has declined in recent years along with the crime rate, black men are still far more likely to die at the hands of another black man, and the death tolls for everyone would be far higher without police officers willing and able to defend themselves on the streets, but none of that stopped the usual racial provocateurs from egging on the protests that chanted for the murder of cops.
The ubiquitous Al Sharpton was on the scene, of course, along with the New Black Panther Party and the rest of the soap box orators who haven’t yet secured a network news gig or frequent invitations to the White House. Hollywood celebrities chimed in, as always, and professional athletes took to the field with the thoroughly disproved “Don’t shoot” slogan of Brown’s purported mayrtrdom or Garner’s sadly true last words of “I can’t breathe” emblazoned on the high-dollar shoes that the big time sneaker companies provide them. Much of the media did its usual muckraking, too, happy to let the fanciful but useful notion of cops murdering innocent black men in cold blood linger. This time around the crowd included the the Mayor of New York City, who publicly lamented that he had to teach his black son to be fearful of the city’s police, the President of the United States, who sent an emissary to Brown’s funeral and told the United Nations that Brown’s death left his country unable to assert its moral authority in the world, and his Attorney General, who launched an investigation of the department involved in Brown’s death even as evidence of the officer’s innocence was accumulating.
Some of those soap box orators are exulting about the murders on social media, which is the soap box of our high-tech age, and the same platform that the killer of those two New York City officers used to proclaim his vengeful motives, but the provocateurs who need to retain some level of respectability are now obliged to offer either sympathy or at least a respectful silence. Hollywood celebrities have publicity agents who will shrewdly advise against any comment, and any athletes who take the field with slogans in solidarity with the murders will likely lose his shoes. The rest have ratings or circulation figures or poll numbers to worry about, and have said all the right things.
Members of the New York City Police Department nonetheless turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, and in the most literal sense of the phrase. The broader public might have a similar reaction to the suddenly kind words offered to the police by erstwhile supporters of the protests that until Sunday had chanted for the murder of police. There’s no plausible way for the media to report the deaths of a Hispanic and an Asian police officer who were involved in a training exercise to deal with potential terrorist threats that will support the narrative of a white racist war against black men, and the killer’s race and name will make it impossible to blame the usual Tea Party suspects. That national conversation on race that the race provocateurs have long hoped to start has suddenly shifted to the facts that the deadly use of force by police officers has been declining along with the crime rate, that black men are far more likely to die at the hands of other black men, and that the death toll for everyone would be much higher if there weren’t officers willing and able to defend themselves and the rest of us against a threat that suddenly seems all too real.

— Bud Norman

Even “Team America” Can’t Rescue Free Speech

Although we are not fond of the comedy of Seth Rogen, we were nonetheless dismayed to hear that his latest motion picture is being pulled from theatrical release because of terroristic threats by the North Korean government. When the tinpot dictator of a third world basket case can determine the choices of the American movie-going public it is a blow to free speech, and we are fond free speech. When the likes of Kim Jong Un can even halt a screening of “Team America: World Police,” the kind of movie that free speech was invented for, we are doubly outraged.
“Team America: World Police” isn’t a movie we recommend to everyone, as it is only suited to certain unrefined tastes. The polite word for its style of humor is Rabelaisian, but such a highfalutin term isn’t quite appropriate to such a deliberately foul-mouthed and dirty-minded puppet show. Those whose minds are already in the gutter and whose stomachs are strong enough for such fare will find it hilarious, though, and notice it has more shrewd points to make than the next ten indie flicks that will play your local art house put together. First released in 2004, the movie spoofs the Bushian patriotic fervor of America in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, but that’s mostly rendered with the sort affectionate understanding that the great Preston Sturges brought to his classic satires “Hail the Conquering the Hero” and “Miracle of Morgan’s” during the similarly proud days of World War II. By far the harshest barbs are aimed at Islamist terrorists, the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, and their equally anti-American sympathizers in Hollywood. “Team America: World Police” is such a convincingly scathing indictment of Hollywood’s limousine liberalism that it’s a wonder Hollywood ever released it, but at the time Hollywood didn’t have the ready excuse of not wanting to offend any of the various Kim Jongs of North Korea.
Since the original release of “Team America: World Police” the North Koreans have been cast as the villains in several movies, including that awful remake of “Red Dawn” which somehow retained all the stupid improbabilities and bad acting of the original but somehow omitted all the popcorn-chomping patriotic fun, probably for lack of politically correct and liability-proof options. Hollywood stopped doing commie villains as soon as the Cold War ended, and even wound up re-making “The Manchurian Candidate” with some vaguely Koch Brothers-ish corporation as the bad guys plotting world domination, and was more likely to release an adoring bio-pic of Che Guevara. Neo-Nazis still make an occasional appearance in the movies, but that beloved cliche has mostly played out from overuse. Christians and Republicans and especially Christian Republicans can always been employed to stop a high school dance or say unpleasant things about a cross-dresser or complicate someone’s abortion or provide some other villainous plot twist, but that’s only good for the women’s market, and is insufficiently violent for the action-adventure fare that brings in the really big box office, and it probably doesn’t translate well to the foreign market.
Islamist terrorists are widely unpopular domestically, a sentiment that probably prevails in a profitable segment of those foreign markets as well, but of course they’re terrorists and might prove more expensively dangerous to offend than whatever’s left of the Neo-Nazis or the Koch Brothers-ish corporations or Christians or Republicans or even Christian Republicans. From the still-in-hiding Salman Rushdie to that besieged Danish magazine that published the Mohammad cartoons to the murdered Theo Van Gogh, criticizing the Islamists has never proved a profitable enterprise. The same ribald fellows who did “Team America: World Police” also do the foul-mouthed and dirty-minded and frequently brilliant “South Park” cartoon, but when they dared to depict Mohammad in solidarity the Comedy Central network did not air the offend segment. The same network’s Stephen Colbert recently received the effusive thanks of the Democratic party for his long service to its cause, which they will cite as proof of how very daring they are, but they are by no means alone in Hollywood in their preference for a safer sort of daring.
Kim Jong Un has apparently noticed this tendency, if that reports that it’s actually a big publicity push for some otherwise unsaleable Seth Rogen flick can be discounted, and now he can enjoy the same immunity from Hollywood villainy as his friends in Iran and Cuba. The studio has already suffered from a cyber-attack that has revealed e-mails and other internal documents confirming that everyone in Hollywood is as self-absorbed and shallow as you’d always thought, and apparently believes that the North Koreans can make good on its more deadly threats. A few theaters decided to show “Team America: World Police” as a protest against the Sony Corporation’s capitulation to the terrorist threat, but the studio decided to pull even that worthier production from the theaters as well. Any other tinpot dictators of third world basket-cases seeking some say in which pictures get green-lighted can expect the same response, and it will likely have an inhibiting effect on the American cinema. At this rate, the next James Bond will have the intrepid secret agent saving the high school dance that one of those creepy Christian Republicans was trying to shut down.

— Bud Norman

Normalizing Dictatorships

A communist dictatorship seized power in Cuba the year of our birth, and has been nothing but trouble to the world ever since. The dictatorship pointed nuclear weapons at the United States which almost triggered an apocalyptic war, fomented similarly dictatorial revolutions throughout Latin America and Africa, emptied its prisons onto American shores, and even after the demise of its Soviet patron has continued to abet the mischief of its fellow pariah states and imprison its own population in a totalitarian gulag. Now we read that America will normalize diplomatic relations with this cruel government, and can only wonder that it has taken so long.
The left hasn’t had much enthusiasm for opposing any sort of communism at least since George McGovern won the Democratic nomination, after all, and has always had a special sympathy for the Cuban variety. Countless documentaries and feature films, pamphlets, symposia, and the breathless testimonials of too many hipsters in Che Guevara t-shirts have portrayed Cuba as a tropical workers’ paradise where rhythmic and revolutionary cumbias fill the air and high-quality free health care is available to all. We never heard of anybody tying a bunch of inner tubes together and trying to get to Cuba, while hundreds of thousands have resorted to such desperate measures in order to get out, but the myth persists. Normalizing diplomatic relations with the communist dictatorship will prolong its power, but the left no longer sees this as a problem.
In his last campaign debate the president chortled to his opponent that the Cold War was long over, clearly amused that such confrontational thinking still happened, and indeed that epic conflict was so long ago that the collective memory has faded and only the liberal myths prevail. It was so long ago that the current president was smoking that high-quality Hawaiian pot with the “Choom Gang” when the west was winning the conflict, and went on to tell an adoring crowd of Germans at the former site of the Berlin Wall that it was because the world stood as one, and the former long-haired hippie who testified to Congress that it was futile for American to resist communism is now the Secretary of State, and the idea that communism wasn’t really so bad after all is now a fixture of the campus curriculum. The hammer and sickle never achieved the same intolerable status as the swastika, even if it represented the same brutal totalitarianism, and the likes of the mass-murdering Che Guevara became fashionable attire.
By now the decision to open an embassy in Havana will probably be of little political consequence. The left will be pleased with their president’s daring, the Americans of Cuban heritage will be mostly outraged but of few numbers, maybe not even enough to swing to Florida’s electoral votes back to the Republicans, and the old-timers such as ourselves who proudly recall a time when America was the reason communism’s evil didn’t prevail probably would have voted Republican in any case. The Cold War is long over except for those unfortunate folks in Ukraine and Cuba and the South China Sea who are dealing with its unpleasant aftermath, the threat of a nuclear conflagration has been downgraded to the possibility that Iran or North Korea or another of Cuba’s allies will someday launch one, and the left is already looking for rationalizations if that ever happens.

— Bud Norman