Strangely, when President Barack Obama was elected with ease in 2008 and had a comfortable Congressional majority he didn’t really capitalize on his advantage. He may have gotten elected promising ‘change’ but he didn’t make many when he made it into the big seat.
Now, perhaps sensing the end of his term as President, and in spite of the Democrats’ recent crushing defeat, he is becoming ‘Obama the bold’, maker of decisions, changer of things.
Hence his recent decisions to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and an amnesty for five million illegal immigrants in the US.
JFK imposed the embargo on Cuba way back in 1962, in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In JFK’s day the embargo was America’s way of thumbing its nose at the Soviet Empire. Cuba was less than 100 miles from the continental US and its defiance of the mighty Uncle Sam was an embarrassment, particularly after the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
Curious therefore that Obama cannot see the similarities with Putin’s stance in the Ukraine, but that’s another story.
However, getting back to the Cuban embargo, it was a decision that has been condemned by almost every nation in the world ever since. I think it smacked too much of the big rich kid in the schoolyard picking on the little poor kid.
But, like a lot of things that are half a century old and more, the Cuban embargo was well past its sell-by date. Not least because it didn’t work!
Neither of course did the Cuban system, which failed mainly due to the disintegration of the Soviet Empire that had kept Cuba financially afloat long after Castro’s communism would have bitten the dust if left to its own devices.
In Cuba today there is a realism and a recognition of that very fact. Fidel Castro himself admitted that their model “….no longer works even for us,” when he was speaking in support of his brother Raúl’s “liberal” reforms announced a few years ago.
For the moment, that ‘liberalization’ in Cuba means allowing employees, most of them former civil servants, to become the owners of the small businesses that employ them.
I call that capitalism. What do you think?
Lots of US corporations are queueing up to develop their business interests in Cuba. Big names, like American Airlines, Hilton Hotels and PepsiCo are already in the starting blocks.
It will be interesting to see what happens when the new US regime sweeps into power.
In the meantime I think I’ll buy a nice big box of cigars.
It was either a title with a pun in it or just call today’s post “The Sunday Sermon”, but as you can see the pun got the better of me as usual.
If you hadn’t guessed, this one is my take on the goings on in North Korea.
Here we go….
Before the sermon starts I should preface it by saying we are in the current mess because politicians faffed about instead of stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons when they had the opportunity. It’s their mess, but unfortunately we are all in it with them.
JFK had Cuba and now BHO has North Korea, both countries run by dictators and both in their time posing a nuclear threat.
Why do the Democrats always get the best crises? Poor old Dubya and his greedy and power hungry ally in Britain, Tony Blair (often deliberately spelled Bliar for good reason), had to make up an excuse to start a war with Saddam Hussein. Remember the Weapons Of Mass Destruction that never actually existed?
Of course, when JFK was doing his statesman like thing, during his brief breaks between his girlfriends, I was far too young to know or care about nuclear threats or more world wars.I had other more important things to be getting on with like battling invaders from Mars or trying to pluck up the courage to explore that eerie wood just a short distance from the bottom of our garden.
So what I know about the Cuban crisis of the early 1960s is all gleaned from books and reports from that period which are now a matter of history. (We’ll leave the debate about just how accurate and reliable that is for another time.)
The truth seems to be that the Cuban nuclear crisis had very little to do with Cuba or Castro. It was a posturing competition between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, and to a lesser degree a pissing contest between Kennedy and Khrushchev.
In both Washington and the Kremlin, although there were the warmongers, there were more people who were sensible enough to realize that devastating each other’s countries would leave them both weaker and achieve very little.They were able to reach that conclusion simply because they were people who were not completely insane or delusional.
It probably seemed difficult at the time, but for JFK it was a relatively easy crisis to manage.
The ‘nuclear crisis’ facing Obama, if indeed it is that, is a different kettle of fish because Kim Jong-un shows all the signs of being both delusional and ever so slightly insane.
He can’t be held entirely to blame for this. He is the son of a long time dictator, who himself suffered from multiple delusions. And he was brought up in a militaristic and jingoistic regime, which is what dictators like to create for themselves simply because it makes their own people easier to control. North Korean propaganda has taught the public that military goals and economic goals are intertwined and therefore that Kim Jong-un’s actions are for the good of his people.
In the latest moves to up the ante, the North Koreans have told Britain and Russia that they should consider the evacuation of their embassies in Pyongyang. They have also moved another missile to their east coast as a further threat to US Pacific bases.
This in itself is just the latest response to UN sanctions and South Korea-US military drills, both of which have done nothing to ease tensions and in fact have annoyed the North Koreans immensely.
Now the North Korean army is saying that it has received final approval for military action, possibly involving nuclear weapons, against the threat posed by US B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers taking part in the joint drills.And all this has been accompanied by a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks.
The trouble with all this posturing is that Washington, which always gets a ‘F’ for ‘FAIL’ in Foreign Policy, very seldom, if ever, gets it right at the right time.
Washington doesn’t seem to understand that the macho culture in many other countries makes it extremely difficult for them to be seen by their own people as the one who blinked first. Losing face has a terrible stigma for them.
Further military ‘exercises’ and posturing will probably have the result of leaving the Jong-un regime with little alternative (in their eyes) but to act aggressively.
How that aggression will manifest itself is anybody’s guess. Least likely would be an attack on America – it’s too far away for the type of missiles North Korea currently has.
An attack of some kind on the US base at Guam is possible, as is an attack on neighboring South Korea. The latter, depending on the scale and the number of casualties, could spark of retaliatory strikes by the US-backed South Koreans and from there it is a short step into a conventional and probably very bloody war.
And we should remember that the Korean war during the 1950s was a spectacular waste of human lives. Generals sacrificed their men for years and ended back at the 38th parallel, more or less the same place they started.
Admittedly things might be a lot different this time if China decides that the North Korean regime is too out of control to support militarily.I doubt very much if it is in China’s long term interest to have a whacky dictatorship armed with nuclear weapons on their doorstep. After all it’s only 1,000Km to Beijing and more than 5,000Km to Hawaii, the closest state of the US to North Korea. At the same time would China want an economically united and strong US dominated state on its borders?
The jury is still out on that one.
Another thing that Washington gets badly wrong is that it thinks that because it is the most powerful military nation on earth – and it is by a long way – that therefore other countries will be afraid to take it on.
Rather than a comparison with the Cuban Crisis that everyone is concentrating on, I see parallels between North Korea today and Imperial Japan in the 1930s.Both are/were jingoistic regimes with an ’emperor’ having complete control, and both created a military style regime more as a way to suppress and control their own people, and therefore to cling to power, than to attack another nation.
But things being what they are, and people being so bloody stupid it’s unbelievable at times, there comes a time when those in power in such regimes lose their sense of reality and get carried away believing their own propaganda.
Hence Pearl Harbor when Imperial Japan forgot that when something big and powerful is asleep you should never poke it with a sharp stick, coz when it wakens up it will kick the crap right out of you!
And hence, the North Koreans are not afraid of taking on America. They should be, but they aren’t, which again makes some kind of attack more possible the more they are backed into a corner.
Thankfully there are some signs that Washington might be getting the message and preparing to step back from the rapidly approaching brink.American officials have reportedly decided to “pause” the recent show of US force in Korea because
– wait for it, it’s a good one –
they are surprised at the intensity of the North’s response.
I mean who could have seen that coming? Well the answer is just about everyone except for the cretins in Washington!
What is surprising, however, is that the most sense talked about the whole affair recently has been from the world’s number one cigar salesman, Fidel Castro. In fact, make that doubly surprising, in that he has said some things that I am in agreement with and that he is still around to say it!
He said “If a war breaks out there, there would be a terrible slaughter of people” in both North and South Korea “with no benefit for either of them.” And also that the “duty” to avoid the conflict is in the hands of Washington “and of the people of the United States.”
Castro hasn’t quite figured out that once elected US Presidents do whatever THEY want, not whatever the PEOPLE want.
But what he must have figured out is that politicians like to be liked because he also warns President Obama that his second term, “would be buried in a deluge of images that would portray him as the most sinister personality in the history of the United States.”
Equally, he cautions the North Koreans that now they have, demonstrated their “technical and scientific advances, we remind them of their duties with those countries that have been their great friends.” And he urged them to remember that “such a war would affect … more than 70 per cent of the planet’s population,” and decried “the gravity of such an incredible and absurd event” in such a densely populated region.
Do you think he is hankering after one of those Nobel Peace Prizes, like the one Obama got for not being George W Bush?
And who knows what is going to happen in the Koreas?
Today’s significant number is fifty-seven, or treble nineteen if you are a darts enthusiast.
As usual there is more to it than meets the eye.
The Number Fifty-Seven 57
In the original complete King James Version of the Bible (not the abridged edition some use today), the 57th book is the Gospel of John.
The 57th word of the King James Version of the Bible’s Old Testament Genesis = it (light) – Genesis I.1-4
In the 57th Psalm, David praises God with his harp in a cave.
In Isaiah Chapter 57, God withholds peace to the wicked.
Fifty-seven is the sixteenth discrete semiprime and the sixth in the (3.q) family.
Although 57 is not a prime number, it is jokingly known as the “Grothendieck prime” after a story in which Grothendieck supposedly gave it as an example of a particular prime number.
As a semiprime, 57 is a Blum integer since its two prime factors are both Gaussian primes.
57 is a 20-gonal number.
It is a Leyland number since 25 + 52 = 57.
57 is a repdigit in base 7 (111).
57 is the atomic number of Lanthanum (La), the first of the Lanthanides. Lanthanum is a silvery white, malleable, ductile rare-earth metal.
Messier object M57
Messier object M57, is a magnitude 9.5 planetary nebula in the constellation Lyra, also known as the Ring Nebula.
The New General Catalogue object NGC 57, an elliptical galaxy in the constellation Pisces.
STS-57 was a Shuttle-Spacehab mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour that launched 21 June 1993 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
On board were Ronald J. Grabe(Commander), Brian Duffy (pilot), and Mission Specialists G. David Low (Payload Commander), Nancy J. Sherlock, Peter J. Wisoff and Janice E. Voss.
During the course of the ten-day flight, the astronauts successfully conducted scores of biomedical and materials sciences experiments inside the pressurized SPACEHAB module. Two astronauts participated in a spacewalk and EURECA (European Retrievable Carrier) was retrieved by the crew and stowed inside Endeavour’s payload bay. EURECA was deployed from the Space Shuttle Atlantis in the summer of 1992 and contains several experiments to study the long-term effects of exposure to microgravity.
In books, music and movies
In the first storyboard draft for Pixar’s film Cars, the main character, a race car named Lightning McQueen was going to have number 57 as his racing number, in reference to director John Lasseter’s birthdate, January 12, 1957. But in the final cut, Lightning’s racing number changed to 95.
The climax of the movie Eraser occurs on Pier 57
C-57D is the designation of the spaceship featured in the movie Forbidden Planet, and is referenced in the movie Serenity as well.
Passenger 57, is a film starring Wesley Snipes
There are supposed to be 57 movie references in the movie Scream
Havana 57 is a 2012 movie depicting mainstream Cuban life in 1957 and illustrating the destruction Cubans have endured since the Castro regime took power in the Revolution
Summer of Fifty Seven is a 2005 novel by Stephen C. Joseph, M.D.
Marvel Comics’ character Vision debuts in issue #57 of The Avengers
The Fabulous 57 were disk jockeys on WMCA 570 Radio, New York during the 1960s
Agent 57 is the name of the master of disguise in the television series Dangermouse
Exit 57, a sketch comedy show that aired on Comedy Central from 1995-96 featured Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Jodi Lennon, Mitch Rouse and Amy Sedaris
The 57th Overlanders is a fictional brigade mentioned in the television series Firefly.
West 57 was a weekly news-magazine show on CBS, 1985–89, hosted by Meredith Vieira
The Cartoon Network program Metalocalypse has a fictional television station WHYK-57
The Robot Chicken sketch “Pluto Nash Day” notes that 57 people at 20th Century Fox Studios died amid rioting and suicide
A Robot Chicken parody of the NBC TV series Heroes uses the episode title “Chapter Fifty-seven: Uncle Glen”
Studio 57 was a dramatic anthology series in 1954, starring Brian Keith and Carolyn Jones
Incident on 57th Street is a song by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, from their 1973 album, “The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle”
57 Channels (and Nothin’ On), a song by Bruce Springsteen, from his 1992 album “Human Touch”
“57” is the name of a song by Biffy Clyro on their 2002 debut album, Blackened Sky
Model Shure SM57 is considered the workhorse of recording microphones
Slick 57 is an Alternative country band
Studio 57 Productions, record label of Andy Warstar and the Warstars, which produced Alien Porkchops in Brisbane
57th Street is a novel (1971) by George Selcamm about professional musicians, the forces that drive them to search for perfection and recognition along with the hunger for love.
57 is the model name of a Maybach car
Bugatti also produced models designated T57 including
Chevrolet model 57, better known as the ’57 Chevy
The Romnian ARO IMS-57 was produced from 1957 until 1959; around 2000 units were made. It is considered that ARO IMS-57 was inspired from the Russian model GAZ
USS Lake Champlain (CG 57)
USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), a Ticonderoga class cruiser in the United States Navy and the third ship to be named Lake Champlain
HMS Andromeda (F-57)
HMS Andromeda was a Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy. She took part in the Falklands War and The Second Cod War and was sold to India in 1995, where she was renamed INS Krishna. She was finally decommissioned in May 2012 at Mumbai, 44 years to the day after her launch.
USS MITSCHER DDG 57
The USS Mitscher is a United States Navy guided missile destroyer.
A replacement for the Douglas B-26, the Martin B-57 was a light tactical bomberand a by-product of the English Electric Canberra, the first British-built jet bomber, initially flown in 1949.
Testing of the 2 imported Canberras revealed design faults that could affect the safety, utility, and maintenance of the future B-57. Then, one of the British planes crashed; Martin’s subcontractors could not meet their commitments; and the J65 prototype engines consistently failed to satisfy USAF requirements. In June 1952, further test flights had to be postponed for a year because of continuing engine and cockpit troubles. As a result, the Korea-bound B-57 did not fly before 20 July 1953, just 7 days before the conflict ended. Production of the crucial RB-57 (reconnaissance version) was also delayed and only entered service in mid-1954
Delivered too late for combat in Korea, the RB-57 in May 1963 and the B-57 in February 1965 began to demonstrate under fire in Southeast Asia the basic qualities justifying the Canberra’s original selection. In 1970, other reactivated and newly equipped B-57s, known as Tropic Moon III B-57Gs, were deployed to Southeast Asia, where they made valuable contributions until April 1972.
The FN Five-seven, trademarked as the Five-seveN, is a semi-automatic pistol designed and manufactured by FN Herstal in Belgium. The pistol is named for its 5.7-mm (.224 in) bullet diameter, and the trademark capitalization style is intended to emphasize the manufacturer’s initials—FN.
The Five-seven pistol was developed in conjunction with the FN P90 personal defense weapon (the weapon carried by SG-1 in the TV series “Stargate SG-1” and the FN 5.7×28mm cartridge. The P90 was introduced in 1990, and the Five-seven was introduced in 1998 as a pistol using the same 5.7×28mm ammunition. Developed as a companion pistol to the P90, the Five-seven shares many of its design features: it is a lightweight polymer-based weapon with a large magazine capacity, ambidextrous controls, low recoil, and the ability to penetrate body armor when using certain cartridge types.
Sales of the Five-seven were originally restricted by FN to military and law enforcement customers, but since 2004, the pistol has also been offered to civilian shooters for personal protection, target shooting, and similar uses. Although offered only with sporting ammunition, the Five-seven’s introduction to civilian shooters was met with vocal opposition from gun control organizations such as the Brady Campaign, and the pistol has been subject to ongoing controversy in the United States.
The Five-seven is currently in service with military and police forces in over 40 nations, such as Canada, France, Greece, India, Poland, Spain, and the United States. In the United States, the Five-seven is in use with numerous law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service. In the years since the pistol’s introduction to the civilian market in the United States, it has also become increasingly popular with civilian shooters
Heinz 57, is a brand of sauce, and the number of varieties of foods claimed to be produced by the H.J. Heinz Company. In 1896, Henry John Heinz noticed an advertisement for “21 styles of shoes.” He decided that his own products were not styles, but varieties. Although there were many more than 57 foods in production at the time, because the numbers “5” and “7” held a special significance for him and his wife, he adopted the slogan “57 Varieties.” Thus, a new advertising campaign was launched for Heinz 57 Varieties— and the rest is history!
“Prop(osition) 57”, is one of a number of anti-ketchup packet groups on Facebook designed to bring attention to the shortcomings of take-out condiment packaging; its name is a reference to Heinz Co., which debuted a new design in test markets in early 2010
57 is the name of a fast food dinner in Pereira, Colombia
Tiffanny produces a stylish wristwatch model t57
57 is the number of the French department Moselle
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway, New York City, has 57 floors.
Carnegie Hall is a concert hall located at West 57th Street & 7th Avenue in Manhattan, New York City.
57th Street & 6th Avenue is an IND subway station in Manhattan, New York City.
57 is the code for international direct dial phone calls to Colombia
British scientist John Dalton (1766-1844) who developed the atomic theory of matter, kept a meterological journal for 57 years from 1787 to 1844.
The Sweet Fairy Rose is a cupped flower that opens flat into a rosette shape has 57 petals. It is 16 inches tall with mauve light lavender color, and is exceedingly fragrant.
During the Crusades, the Knights Templar (founded 1118) who could not attend choir were required to say the Lord’s Prayer 57 times a day.
In 1970, Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002) crossed the Atlantic (3270 nautical miles) from Safi, Morocco to Barbados in 57 days on a reed papyrus boat.
And finally, Barack Hussein Obama, two term President of the United States of America thinks the country he is in charge of has 57 states.