Friday, August 22, 2014

A Good Day for Drying Clothes

A Good Day for Drying Clothes
Near St. John, New Bruswick, Canada.
[Photo By: KPA]

From a recent post:
I provided my own image of a close up of water from a fountain to Edith Wharton's short story A Cup of Cold Water in my previous post, Summer Air. I got the idea from this line: White skirts wavered across the floor like thistle-down on summer air... But the same short story (in fact, the same line) gave me an idea for another image: that of sailboats on Lake Ontario. The white skirts wavering could be white sails billowing.
I remembered this photograph filed away, and thought it suited the excerpt even better than the "billowing sails" or the frothy water droplets in "Summer Air."
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Flowers, Coffee and Books

Shadows at C-Cafe

Rose of Sharon, behind glass protection
Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Garden, Mississauga

A place to sit by the hibiscus

Roadside Hosta

[All Photos By: KPA]

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

The Pace of Obama's Disasters

The Wall Street Journal allows one to read an article the first time, and subsequent links to the article result with a subscription form with only a portion of the article. I've posted the full article below, another of Bret Stephens' analysis of the Obama presidency.

The Pace of Obama's Disasters
Bergdahl one week. Then Ukraine. Now Iraq. What could be next?

By Bret Stephens
June 16, 2014


Was it only 10 months ago that President Obama capitulated on Syria? And eight months ago that we learned he had no idea the U.S. eavesdropped on Angela Merkel ? And seven months ago that his administration struck its disastrous interim nuclear deal with Tehran? And four months ago that Chuck Hagel announced that the United States Army would be cut to numbers not seen since the 1930s? And three months ago that Russia seized Crimea? And two months ago that John Kerry's Israeli-Palestinian peace effort sputtered into the void? And last month that Mr. Obama announced a timetable for total withdrawal from Afghanistan—a strategy whose predictable effects can now be seen in Iraq?

Even the Bergdahl deal of yesterweek is starting to feel like ancient history. Like geese, Americans are being forced to swallow foreign-policy fiascoes at a rate faster than we can possibly chew, much less digest.

On Thursday, Russian tanks rolled across the border into eastern Ukraine. On Saturday, Russian separatists downed a Ukrainian transport jet, murdering 49 people. On Monday, Moscow stopped delivering gas to Kiev. All this is part of the Kremlin's ongoing stealth invasion and subjugation of its neighbor. And all of this barely made the news. John Kerry phoned Moscow to express his "strong concern." Concern, mind you, not condemnation.

If the president of the United States had any thoughts on the subject, he kept them to himself. His weekly radio address was devoted to wishing America's dads a happy Father's Day.

Also last week, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria seized Mosul. Then ISIS took Tikrit. Then it was Tal Afar. Mass executions of Shiites in each place. The administration is taking its time deciding what, if any, aid it will provide the government in Baghdad. But it is exploring the possibility of using Iraq's distress as an opportunity to open avenues of cooperation with Tehran.

So because the administration has a theological objection to using military force in Iraq to prevent it from being overrun by al Qaeda or dissolving into potentially genocidal civil war, it will now work with Tehran, a designated state sponsor of terrorism for 30 years and a regime that continues to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in Gaza and Bashar Assad in Syria, to help "stabilize" Iraq. At least the White House has ruled out military cooperation with Iran. But give it time.

Here, then, is the cravenness that now passes for cleverness in this administration: Make friends with a terrorist regime to deal with a terrorist organization. Deliver Iraq's Arab Shiites into the hands of their Persian coreligionists, who will waste no time turning southern Iraq into a satrapy modeled on present-day Lebanon.

Deal brusquely with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki —who, for all his manifest shortcomings as a leader nonetheless wishes to be our ally—and obsequiously with an Iranian regime that spent the better part of the last decade killing American soldiers. Further alienate panicky allies in Riyadh and Jerusalem for the sake of ingratiating ourselves with the mullahs.

Hand those mullahs some additional strategic leverage as they head into the next (supposedly final) round of nuclear negotiations.

"We are, I am afraid, drifting in a state of semi-animation, towards the rapids." Those were the words of Hugh Dalton, Clement Attlee's chancellor of the exchequer, describing the state of Britain in the winter of 1947, on the eve of the end of Empire.

Back then, the U.K. had spent a quarter of its national treasure fighting World War II. It was still spending 19% of its GDP on its military budget. The coldest winter in its history had frozen the country's stocks of coal, causing electricity blackouts and putting two million people out of work.

The U.S. faces no such crises today. Mr. Obama blew more money on his stimulus plan in 2009 than we spent on the war in Iraq. Defense spending in the U.S. amounts to 4% of GDP. Our economy is sluggish, but it isn't crumbling.

Yet when it comes to leadership, we have our very own Clement Attlee at the top, eager to subtract the burdens of international responsibility so he can get on with the only thing that really animates him, which is building social democracy at home. Actually, that's unfair to Attlee, who could count on a powerful ally to pick up England's dropped reins, rescue Europe, stop the Soviets. Mr. Obama's method is to ignore a crisis for as long as possible, give a speech, impose a sanction, and switch the subject to climate change or income inequality.

America's retreat needn't end in tragedy, and even the Obama presidency is a survivable event. But the strategic blunders and international disasters are accumulating at an unsustainable pace. This is what the real post-American world looks like.

The $787 billion stimulus bill of 2009 exceeded the estimated $770 billion appropriated by Congress for the war in Iraq. An earlier version of this article stated that the stimulus exceeded the costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Post-Pax Americana

Bret Stephens, Foreign affairs correspondent
for the Wall Street Journal
interviewed on Fox News

I really thought after Obama's latest press conference that he was going to leave his vacation behind, and resume his official duties.

When he didn't, that is when I began to wonder if he really has no interest in changing (I would say improving) the world's events, but rather he wants to reduce America's strength.

Below I've transcribed Bret Stephens' interview on Fox News, where he discusses his Wall Street Journal article The Post-Pax Americana World. This transcript is only of the first 21/2 minutes of the five minute interview.
The question is why is [this administration's foreign policy] failing. And there are three schools of thought. Basically, what liberals will tell you is that the world is this terribly complicated place. America is in decline. The President simply can't control events around the world. And Obama sometimes likes to explain himself that way. The second theory, somewhat more convincing, is this a simply an out of touch president who is not really giving this job his full attention. Maybe its because he won reelection he feels his legacy is secure. But time and again, the President is caught flat-footed by events. Some of his best advisers complain that he is just indifferent to the details of governance.
This is a very important insight:
The argument that I'm making in this article is it's not simply that. This is a president whose pursuing an ideological goal, which has reduced America's footprint. Environmentalists say reduce, reuse, recycle, in a sense that's Obama's view for the United States. He wants a smaller footprint for the United States around the world, and as American power and influence shrinks, you have all of these groups coming up, seeking to fill the void.
And his optimistic analysis, with which I agree:
America is in retreat, but I don't think America is in decline. When people tell you "you know, America is in decline,' hey, this is a country where fracking is happening, this is a country where iPhones are being made, I mean in so many ways there's a renaissance of American ingenuity, [which is] simply being gummed up by a regulatory state, but a president who doesn't believe in the very things that make this country great. The resources, the ingenuity, the capacity for self-renewal is in this country. The problem is not having an administration that is taking advantage of it.
I've been waiting for someone to corroborate my thoughts on the current state of affairs regarding President Obama's decisions. My thoughts are that Obama's decisions on domestic and foreign affairs are not due to incompetence, as many commentators have written, but that they are ideological decisions. I don't believe that Obama likes America as it is now, and is determined to change it.

It was by chance that I tuned into the last twenty minutes of the above O'Reilly Report on Fox New. I don't usually watch O'Reilly's program, although other Fox commentators (Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace, Bret Baer and Brit Hume) provide intelligent insights.

This is the first paragraph from Stephen's Wall Street Journal article:
[We] are not in a post-American world of diminishing U.S. influence. We are in a post-Pax Americana world of collapsing U.S. will. Britain, it was once said, gained her empire "in a fit of absence of mind." Now Barack Obama is relinquishing U.S. dominance with about the same degree of mindfulness, and Americans seem content to go along with it.
The Islamic world can make three conclusions about the United States' current position:
a. America, or the American president, is not taking this enemy seriously
b. America, or the American president, is too weak to retaliate to this enemy
c. America, or the American president, agrees with the positions of the "enemy"
Stephens has articulated that "c" is the most likely explanation for Obama's behavior.
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

I've been waiting for someone to corroborate my thoughts on the current state of affairs regarding President Obama's decisions. My thoughts are that his decision in domestic and foreign affairs are not due to incompetence, as many commentators have written, but that they are ideological decisions. I don't believe that Obama likes America as it is now, and is determined to change it.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Straus Park, New York

Straus Park in Bloom
[Photos By: KPA]

I am slowly processing and filing all the photographs I took during my recent trip to New York.

Here are some of Straus Park.

I have already taken several of the Park in my previous visits, but I managed to find a floral display before the statue at this visit.
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

A Corner for Reading

[Photo By: KPA]

Here is a corner, with the flowers nearby, that I've managed to get whenever I go for my early morning coffee at C Cafe.

We've been having storms, rain and wind. But, the patio remains open.
Posted BY: Kidist P. Asrat