I’m old enough to remember when John Boehner was the only man crying on Capitol Hill.

Boehner cried when he got the House gavel. He cried with the Pope. He cried with kids. He even cried with Arnold Palmer, fer cryin’ out loud.

I was glad he retired.

Now the tears are in the Senate. Cory Booker:

“I hurt!” he yelled. “When Dick Durbin called me, I had tears of rage when I heard about his experience in that meeting, and for you not to feel that hurt and that pain and to dismiss some of the questions of my colleagues … when tens of millions of Americas are hurting right now because of what they’re worried about what happened in the White House, that’s unacceptable to me!”

Really.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The former mayor of Newark, N.J. – not exactly the garden spot of the Garden State – allegedly did not live there during his term. He spent a large part of his time away from the city in speaking gigs, while still being paid by his former law firm. It was Cory Booker’s Newark Mirage

The criticism that Booker was not focused on his day job stuck. The Newark-based Star-Ledger tracked the days Booker was out of the city 118 days in one 18-month stretch, often earning lucrative fees for speaking gigs. (The newspaper later did the same for Gov. Chris Christie, who shared a similar reputation for being an absentee executive.)

That reputation for detachment didn’t help when the bad headlines hit.

There was a corruption scandal at the Newark Watershed Conservation Development Authority that centered on Booker’s friend and ally, Linda Watkins-Brashear. One watchdog group said the authority had gone “Hog Wild,” while overseeing Newark’s water and sewer infrastructure. Top officials were convicted of taking millions in bribes, kickbacks and engaging in other misuse of public money. Booker had to distance himself with the sheepish, yet accurate, excuse he had not been paying attention, had not been to meetings.

The water authority has since gone into bankruptcy.

More (emphasis added),

Months after he first entered the Senate, the New Jersey comptroller alleged that under Booker’s watch—or, more likely, because he was not watching—corruption ran rampant at a publicly funded water-treatment and reservoir-management agency, where Booker’s former law partner served as counsel. And speaking of his former law career: Despite having resigned from his law firm once entering the mayor’s office, Booker received annual payments until 2011, during which time the firm was profiting handsomely off of Brick City. That would be the Brick City that Booker professed to love with the fire of a thousand suns, but did little to fundamentally change. Murder, violent crime, unemployment, and taxes all rose dramatically under his stewardship.

Some 250,000 people live in Newark. After crying over “tens of millions of Americans”, did Booker save any tears for them?

Four years ago, Politico was saying,

“Beware of men who cry,” the writer Nora Ephron once cautioned. “It’s true that men who cry are sensitive to and in touch with feelings, but the only feelings they tend to be sensitive to and in touch with are their own.”

Remember that the next time Booker starts emoting.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

The Trump Era News Cycle is a pattern of
1. Trump tweets or says something,
2. Sh**storm develops over the tweet or the remark,
3. Important international or national developments go ignored.

The latest storm is over Trump’s remark,

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

Just as before, the outrage is all over social media and the cable news cycle.

There’s an accusation of racism, as the remark apparently referred to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries. If that is the case, I certainly condemn it.

The problem that will endure after any presidential term limits, however, is with the countries.

I’ve been blogging about Latin America for fourteen years. The conditions in Haiti are the worst in our hemisphere. El Salvador is riddled with crime. Venezuela has declined to the point it may qualify for a spot on the list.

So, I’d like to ask all who are insulted by having a country described as a “shithole,” where were you when the Clintons became the King and Queen of Haiti?

El Salvador became the homicide capital of the world: One murder every hour, reports The Guardian. Gang members are killing people in the US and sending the videos to their bosses in El Salvador. Were you aware?

Were you outraged when Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez declared himself a Marxist and took over private property and the media? Would having people kill zoo animals for food qualify a country as a shithole?

And if one is to look at racism, are you traveling to Cuba “before it changes”?

If you are so offended by the obviously crude terminology, could you consider ways for these benighted countries to retain their best and brightest citizens and get out of the hole?

But herein lies the good news: the shithole status doesn’t have to be permanent; in fact, quite often, it is transitory. The country that was shithole yesterday might not be so today, because the factors that made it shithole in the first place have changed: it is now peaceful and safe, the government is better, and the institutions have evolved.

It’s not necessarily an easy process, particularly when there are ingrained cultural and religious reasons for being shithole. But being shithole is never inevitable.

Are you wiling to examine what is causing the problem and do the hard work to effect change?

Or is all your bluster saved for social media?

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Back in 1950 Akira Kurosawa made Rashomon, IMDB as describes the plot,

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.

Thus, the Rashomon effect,

The Rashomon effect occurs when the same event is given contradictory interpretations by different individuals involved. The effect is named after Akira Kurosawa‘s 1950 film Rashomon, in which a murder is described in four mutually contradictory ways by its four witnesses.[1] More broadly, the term addresses the motivations, mechanism, and occurrences of the reporting on the circumstance, and so addresses contested interpretations of events, the existence of disagreements regarding the evidence of events, and the subjects of subjectivity versus objectivity in human perception, memory, and reporting.

We live in Rashomon times.

On the one hand, there’s the Wolff book, where the author admits he’s lying (emphasis added):

Wolff’s sourcing note in an excerpt explains many of the myriad inaccuracies, saying, “Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.”

Anti-trumpers aiming to throw Pres. Trump out of office through a “25th Amendment solution” by declaring him mentally incompetent are relying in this book’s anecdotes.

On the other hand, there’s yesterday’s meeting, aired live for the full 55 minutes. Some things you need to see for yourself, so I encourage you to watch,

Try, if you may, to focus on not on what was said, but on how he managed the meeting:

He invited nearly everyone at the table to have their say. He urged bipartisan cooperation, promising to sign whatever bill Congress brings him.
. . .
He joked, listened, accepted flattery, told anecdotes and presided over a positive tone on an issue that has eluded a legislative solution for a decade or more.

Call it political theater, if you may, but, as I tweeted yesterday,

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Check out the reactions to that tweet.

Wolff could ask, ‘Whom do you believe, your eyes or my words?’ “ By now even CNN is skeptical.

Kurosawa would have had material for a great movie.

UPDATE
Michael Knowles highlights what Pres. Trump was doing during the meeting. Pay attention,

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, was released today, amid a bombogenesis of free publicity. Winter storm Grayson’s flurries were nothing compared to the controversy.

During his short stint, Steve Bannon apparently had Wolff at the White House, blabbing away on everything and anything concerning his employer.

Debunked,
The NY Mag article preceding the book’s release has Bannon explaining that “Trump didn’t want to win,” for starters. Trump was spending his own money and flying his own plane to six rallies daily, but, that aside, I’d be curious to know how that jives with the Russia collusion story. Either you are “treasonous and unpatriotic” (in Bannon’s words), plotting with Russia-Russia-Russia to throw the election in your favor, or you don’t want to win: you can’t have both.

Conservatives who know Bannon have turned on him, and they are not kind. Ben Shapiro considers him a bad person who should not be at Breitbart,

Bannon is far more of a liability than an asset: he doesn’t have the ear of the Breitbart-investing Mercers, he doesn’t have the ear of the White House, and he doesn’t have the ear of the base.

Andrew Klavan states in his podcast that “The press goes crazy over Michael Wolff’s new book “Fire and Fury,” but what we’ve seen so far is absurd crap.” Klavan started yesterday’s podcast with “the meeting [Bannon] didn’t attend during campaigns he hadn’t joined” and lets it rip,

Klavan debunks several other points; as he puts it, “Fire and fury signifies nothing,” while the media perpetuates its narrative. Just bear in mind that if it’s too good to check, it probably isn’t true.

Bothered,
President Trump has a nickname for Bannon,

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Bewildered,
Following the above tweet, a bewildered Michael Moore took exception and thinks Pres. Trump is unfit to serve because Moore was sloppy first,

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Althouse has an explanation for Moore,

I get the impression that he [Trump] feels disgust toward men who are fat and don’t discreetly encapsulate the fat in a standard business suit (as he himself does).

Good tailoring matters.

On a separate topic,
I see that my post on Hurricane Irma preparation was one of the duds of 2017. Luckily, the hurricane did not cause any damage.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Florida!

The Sunshine State . . . but not this week.

Florida temperatures this week are certainly not tropical: As I write this post, it’s 37F. “Feels like 30,” says Weather.com. The UV Index is 0 out of 10 due to the pouring rain.

Yesterday they had snow in Titusville, south of where I live. The forecast shows ‘Bomb cyclone’ to blast East Coast before polar vortex uncorks tremendous cold late this week, but at least the “bomb cyclone” is expected to affect coastal locations from Georgia to Maine. Or so we hope.

Floridians are in full freak-out mode.

Tourists at the Orlando amusement parks are shivering.

People are lining up at Walmart buying windproof jackets lined with fleece, sweaters, hats, and what gloves and scarves they can find.

Snowbirds laugh at the panicking locals, remarking that, “back in Fargo, we’d be wearing flip-flops and shorts when the temps hit 30.”

Everybody is talking about the weather. But what to do during bad weather?

I stole this post’s title from Carlos Eire’s magnificent Waiting For Snow in Havana. If you want to curl up and read a good book during the storm,  read this beautifully incandescent memoir. Goodreads describes it,

Narrated with the urgency of a confession, Waiting for Snow in Havana is both an exorcism and an ode to a paradise lost. More than that, it captures the terrible beauty of those times in our lives when we are certain we have died — and then are somehow, miraculously, reborn.

Eire earned a National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003. The New York Times (of Duranty Pulitzer fame) never reviewed Waiting For Snow because it did not meet the Times’s narrative on Cuba.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Newsweek’s Monday headline blared out, MELANIA TRUMP ORDERS REMOVAL OF NEAR-200-YEAR-OLD TREE FROM WHITE HOUSE.

Not just any old tree, but the tree that Andrew Jackson brought some 200 years ago from Tennessee for his wife.

Notice Melania’s sideways glance,

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Oh the humanity! She looks askance and down comes Jackson’s magnificent tree!

But, as Ace puts it, CNN, for once, has the real story, rather than Newsweek’s fake news.

Short story: The tree is in danger of falling unexpectedly. It is currently only being held up by artificial support (cables, etc.), but those cables aren’t enough to keep the thing from crashing to the ground and maybe killing someone or damaging the White House.

I admit it, I’m worse than Melania:

My Princeton house had two dozen trees on a half acre. The prior owners thought any tree was a good tree, so there were saplings sprouting off the ground all over the place, and those had to go as soon as we moved in.

Then there was the female gingko that had been (unsuccessfully) semi-chopped down sometime in its past, and periodically covered a large expanse of the front lawn with gummy, stinking, rot.

And let’s not forget the large cedar leaning over the neighbor’s little house, a.k.a. a lawsuit in the making.

Last, but not least, the 50′ tall elm that rotted from the inside, leaving a huge, HOLLOW diseased carcass still standing.

Melania wisely reviewed the information from the specialists at the United States National Arboretum and decided the tree had to come down. I don’t have that kind of resources, so we got rid of the saplings and the gingko without asking anyone else.

I did consult with the local arborist who did our tree maintenance (yes, Virginia, trees need regular maintenance) regarding the cedar and the elm.

The cedar was healthy, so it was turned into mulch for the other trees. The mulching was done after the chipper had been sanitized to avoid possible contagion from trees that had been put through that chipper.

The elm was dead and came down, much to my elderly neighbor’s dismay, as he could not understand that it was a hazard.

So Melania has a ways to go before her total of felled trees nears mine.

The moral of this story is, trees are living things, and, as such, have life spans. Chop responsibly.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

The photo above of the front yard is four years old. No trees were harmed during the writing of this post.

On Sunday, Guatemala’s President announced plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Guatemala follows US in planning Israel embassy move

Guatemala, along with 12 other countries, had their embassies in Jerusalem until 1980, when they moved them to Tel Aviv after Israel annexed East Jerusalem, in a move not recognised internationally. All other countries still have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Guatemala and Israel have a long history of political, economic and military ties.

Guatemala is the first country after the U.S. to announce this decision.

The facile answer to “Why Guatemala?” is, of course,

The Central American country is also a major recipient of US aid – something which Donald Trump threatened to cut to states that voted in favour of the UN resolution.

But Raphael Ahren looked into historical reasons:

Guatemala played a key role in the Jewish state’s creation and has enjoyed Israeli security assistance ever since. It doesn’t hurt that its leader is deeply religious.
. . .
There are several reasons for Guatemala’s dramatic step. The country’s well-established historic friendship with Israel and ongoing deep security and trade ties are one key part of the story. The personal character of the country’s current leader is the other.

Specifically,

Seventy years ago, Guatemala’s ambassador to the UN, Dr. Jorge Garcia Granados, a member of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, played a crucial role in convincing Latin American countries to vote in favor of General Assembly Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.
. . .
Guatemala was one of the first countries to recognize the nascent State of Israel in 1948, and the friendship has remained strong ever since.

Ahren lists intelligence teams, security and communications specialists and military training, along with civilian technology – including agriculture – and tourism among the ties between the two countries.

The BBC reports that Israel is in talks with more than 10 countries — including some in Europe — about potentially moving their respective embassies to Jerusalem, according to officials.

Guatemala’s announcement beat them to it.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Happy Christmas weekend!

I want to write about the Obama administration alleged cover up for Hezbollah in Latin America story, since I’ve been blogging about Hezbollah‘s (Hizballah Hizbollah) inroads in our hemisphere for the last decade. It’s 8:30 in the morning and this post is due at noon, so I’m doing a bit of research while having breakfast, and will remain in pajamas until I’m finished with this post.

A story from the NY Post related to the Obama-Iran deal popped up in my Facebook feed, so I go to the NYPost, and find the op-ed by David Harsanyi, A deafening media silence on the Obama-Hezbollah scandal,

Even when outlets did decide to cover the story, they typically framed it as a he-said/she-said. “Politico Reporter Says Obama Administration ‘Derailed’ Hezbollah Investigation,” reads the NPR headline. Did Josh Meyer of Politico say something about Obama or did he publish a 14,000-word, diligently sourced, document-heavy investigative piece? If you get your news from NPR, you’d never know.

The investigative story Politico published has two on-the-record sources, and myriad well-sourced details.

I have been blogging on Hezbollah and Iran in Latin America for well over ten years. Before I did yesterday’s post at my blog, I printed out and carefully studied Mayer’s long article.

I could not find one thing that contradicted what information I have read on Hezbollah and Iranian presence in Latin America during the past decade. As far as I could see, his information on the drug trade is rock-solid.

More importantly, the revelation that the Obama administration not only threw obstructions in front of investigators but failed to prosecute major players in the enterprise is a Very Big Deal, a bigger deal than Iran-Contra, where

The Reagan administration was forced to admit that it had covertly continued to fund the [Nicaraguan] Contras by means of arms sales to Iran which were themselves illegal and in breach of a trade embargo against that country.

Indeed, with billions of drug trade money funding terrorists, and tens of thousands of lives ruined, The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook makes Iran-Contra look like pikers.

But, as Harsanyi puts it,

The preponderance of editors, journalists, pundits and bookers, on the other hand, still coddle Democrats. They may do it on purpose or unconsciously, but it’s destroying their credibility. Because as David Burge once noted, “Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.”

On the other hand,
I am elated that Meyer’s thoroughly researched piece came out. He deserves accolades for this.

Little bloggers like myself come across information – such as Hezbollah’s inroads in our hemisphere – that makes us wonder why none of the big fish ever write about. It really is a big deal when one does.

Will the story, having come out during the holiday season, continue to be ignored?
That remains to be seen. It may be up to alternative media to keep it in the limelight, but, no matter what, The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook warrants a most rigorous congressional investigation.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

The Senate passed the Trump tax reform bill last night. The House has to vote on it again due to some changes in the bill.

Nancy Pelosi calls it “Armageddon,” and Libs are breaking into hives over newly-found concerns over budget deficits.

Paul Ryan says Tax Reform Means Your Paycheck Will Grow. I’m all for that.

Conservatives realize that the U.S. has the very uncompetitive highest corporate taxes in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Out of the 34 countries in the OECD, America ranks first with a 39.1 percent corporate tax rate, compared to an OECD average of 24.1 percent. The OECD figure is what’s called the statutory rate, meaning the base rate applied to corporate profits.

Drudge has a 

Followed by a less exultant side bar,

Christmas Comes Early for Trump With Tax Win…

Biggest overhaul in 30 years…

After elation, hangover may loom…

At the WSJ,
GOP Nears Tax Victory as Bill Passes in Senate. Measure will return to the House for a final vote Wednesday

Real Clear Markets has,

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of the Trump Tax Bill

The WaPo goes Interactive: Will your taxes go up or down under the GOP bill? Had I stayed in New Jersey, they would have gone up.

Stuart Varney praises it as “a return to politics of growth.”

The NYPost had one small headline halfway down the page.

The BBC asks,

Elsewhere (h/t Instapundit),

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Hardly “Armageddon.” But if it is, at least I’ll get some reading done.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

After all,
Wasn’t the world supposed to end last week because of net neutrality?

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

If you decide to join the jerks who visit cool countries and travel to the island-prison, there are a couple of things you may want to keep in mind.

First, there are the weird symptoms: On Sept. 29, the State Department recalled 21 employees of the American Embassy in Havana, Cuba.

The group (along with three Canadians) were all suffering from an odd combination of symptoms: “hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ticked off in an official statement.

On Wednesday, an upcoming report to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by doctors at the University of Miami, the University of Pennsylvania, and government medical experts was reported by the AP to include evidence that the 24 victims showed clear patterns of brain abnormalities.

Whether they were due to sonic attacks or poisoning remains to be determined.

Two: Reuters reports (emphasis added),

American tourists strolling the ample squares and narrow streets of colonial Havana may not know it, but from novelist Ernest Hemingway’s famed Floridita bar to Sloppy Joe’s eatery, they are probably patronizing businesses owned by Cuba’s military.

Three: Big brother will be watching you.

Including that quaint house at El Vedado you saw at Airbnb,

Airbnb over the last week has suspended or banned hosts—both in Europe and the United States—for violating a strict Airbnb prohibition on undisclosed cameras on the properties.

However, the company has not responded to several Washington Free Beacon inquiries about whether it warns U.S. or other tourists traveling to Cuba about the potential for Cuban government’s electronic surveillance of guest quarters and long history of the Castro regime’s security police gaining access to rented rooms.
. . .
The government can easily track foreign guests because it requires Airbnb hosts to report their passport numbers to Cuban immigration authorities, according to a report last year in the Miami Herald.

The latter article has more information on the dismal financial arrangements the oppressive communist regime imposes on its people.

And last,
If you insist on spending a winter holiday in the island prison, remember the old phrase, forewarned is foretold.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog