Saturday, January 26, 2008

Report From Hell

Surprisingly, being cut off from the outside world was actually somewhat enjoyable for the five days I spent in North Korea. I quite liked the freedom of not being tied to my cell phone and email and relished in the ignorant bliss of not being exposed to troubling international news. This isolationist cocoon where the state controls everything you hear and see, however, would not have been fun for too long. Living an entire life under such conditions would be hell.

The Same Name

Consider the "great" Rousseau, who had five children with his companion, but abandoned them all without a moment of remorse. In a letter, he casually commented that they were all "put out as foundlings. I have not even kept a note of their dates of birth, so little did I expect to see them again." None of his contemporaries -- including enemies -- chided him for this.

Even under the best of circumstances, about half of children had lost at least one parent by the time of adolescence. So to say that attachment, bonding, and intimacy could not flourish under such circumstances is not to criticize them. Again, the great mystery is how modern people broke through that emotional barrier and became.... modern people.
In fact, multiple children would often be given the same name, assuming that only one would survive to carry it into the future.
As I recall, even my mother recounted the story of how "the first Audora died".


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Yes, how did the Swift Vets, on their budget, talk Industrial Light & Magic into digitally inserting Kerry into footage of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations back in 1971, and pay Rich Little for doing an outrageously over-the-top Boston Brahmin accent? (But c'mon Rich--JJJJJennnghis Kahn? isn't that a bit too much? Nobody will believe it!) To complete the ultimate scam, ILM then digitally inserted Kerry, much like Hollywood's Forrest Gump a decade ago, onto the set of the Dick Cavett Show from that same year. And they talked C-Span into running that footage in 2004. Amazing!

Derangement Reconsidered

Earlier this morning, I noted that some Democrats have discovered that the Clintonian Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy meme may actually have been drizzly pap. In the Los Angeles Times today, Jonathan Chait reluctantly comes to that conclusion. He writes that the conservatives who have long railed against the lies and dirty tactics of the Clintons have been somewhat vindicated by the primary campaign tactics of Bill and Hillary:

The Clinton campaign is trying to make it seem as if the complaint is about negativity, and it is pointing out that Obama has criticized Hillary as well. That's what politicians are supposed to do when they compete for votes. But criticism isn't the same thing as lying and sleaze-mongering.

Lying. Sleaze-mongering. False claims. Well, no one can say that conservatives didn't warn everyone -- repeatedly -- about these Clinton characteristics.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Appeasement: Deja Vu All Over Again

Wait a minute; Spain withdrew all her troops from Iraq after the Madrid train bombings, and Spanish politicians have been doing their best to bash Israel and appease resident Islamists ever since. So why the suicide bombing plot?

MADRID, Spain - Police acting on a tipoff that a radical Islamic group was plotting suicide attacks in Barcelona moved against the cell last week even though it had not amassed enough explosives to make bombs, Spain’s police chief said Thursday.

“They had the will but not the means,” National Police chief Joan Mesquida said a day after a judge in Madrid sent 10 suspects to jail pending further investigation. Judge Ismael Moreno said the cell had been planning suicide attacks last weekend on the public transport network in Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city.

Chinese Cherish Copperheads (Part 92635)

The Chinese would first launch “concentrated and unexpected” attacks ... Chinese fighter jets would scramble to intercept aerial refueling tankers and cargo planes sent to shuttle in fuel, munitions, supplies or troops. High-explosive cluster bombs would target pilot quarters and other personnel buildings.

But these would take out only a fraction of American combat power. Most US strength is deployed far back.

In fact, Chinese military planners have expressed the professional opinion that any such surprise attacks would be like “throwing an egg against a rock.” If so, why are the Chinese even contemplating such scenarios?

Because the American public is “abnormally sensitive” about military casualties, according to an article in China’s Liberation Army Daily, killing U.S. airmen or other personnel would spark a “domestic anti-war cry” on the home front and possibly force early withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Memory Hole: The Collapsing Context

Janes reports that North Korea is in a bad way -- in a really bad way -- bad even by its own abysmal standards. "Kim Jong-Il's regime could collapse within six months, bringing chaos to North Korea, observers and intelligence sources in Asia have told Jane's. ... The centrally controlled economy has also now ceased to function and the food distribution system is near breaking point. With loyalty to the regime at an all-time low, another sign of trouble is the regime's diminishing ability to prevent people from leaving the country." But the most alarming sign involves Kim Jong-Il himself.

"Tellingly, the 'Dear Leader' is in the process of moving financial resources to ensure that his assets are portable should he have to go into exile, according to some sources." Kim, who amended the North Korean constitution in 1996 to declare himself "president for eternity" is estimated by the CIA to have "$5 billion in Swiss bank accounts, six villas in Europe, one in Russia and one in China".

Condi Jong-Il's Memory Hole

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A note about that terrific speech on North Korea, delivered last Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute by the U.S. special envoy for human rights in North Korea, Jay Lefkowitz. In his speech, Lefkowitz broke ranks with the State Department’s charade of progress in disarming Pyongyang. Explaining that four years of Six-Party Talks on North Korea have been a failure, he urged a change of course. Coming from someone at State, it was an extraordinary exercise in facing facts; more in my post last Friday on “Man Bites Dog — State Department Envoy Speaks the Truth About North Korea.”

On Friday, as can still be found in the cached version on google, Lefkowitz’s speech was posted on the State Department web site, as an entry under “Remarks” for 2008.

But today — hey, presto! — the speech has vanished! As I write this, there are no Lefkowitz “Remarks” for 2008. They’re down the Memory Hole.

The Faker?

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Saddam still wouldn't admit he had no weapons of mass destruction, even when it was obvious there would be military action against him because of the perception he did. Because, says Piro, "For him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong, defiant Saddam. He thought that [faking having the weapons] would prevent the Iranians from reinvading Iraq," he tells Pelley.

He also intended and had the wherewithal to restart the weapons program. "Saddam] still had the engineers. The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there," says Piro. "He wanted to pursue all of WMD…to reconstitute his entire WMD program." This included chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, Piro says.

And Here's Why Bill Is An Economic Moron

The top chart above shows the decline in the U.S. share of world stock market capitalization from more than 50% in 2001, to less than a third in 2007 (32.8%), using data from the World Federation of Exchanges. Even though the U.S. Stock market capitalization has increased in each of the last five years, the explosive growth in many of the emerging markets has caused the U.S. share of world stock value to decline. In other words, the relatively poor countries are getting richer, and the relatively rich U.S. gets richer, but the "poor" are getting rich even faster. That's great.

Likewise, even though U.S. GDP has increased this year at a healthy 3.1% rate, our share of world GDP growth has fallen below 30% (see bottom chart above), due to the even greater growth in the emerging economies like China and India.

The Big Guilt Hits Bill

According to the front-page of today’s Wall Street Journal, Bill Gates is issuing a clarion call for a kinder capitalism to aid the world’s poor. Mr. Gates says he’s grown impatient with the shortcomings of capitalism. He thinks it’s failing much of the world, and he’s slated to say as much in a speech later today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

This from a guy worth around $35 billion. (Give or take a billion.)

It appears Gates is ignoring the global spread of free-market capitalism that has successfully lifted hundreds of millions of people up from poverty and into the middle class over the last decade or so. Think China. Think India. Think Eastern Europe (and maybe even France under Sarkozy). Gates wants business leaders to dedicate more time to fighting poverty. But the reality is that economic freedom is the best path to prosperity. Period.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Iceberg

Perhaps one reason why the West has proved so helpless in the face of threats like al-Qaeda is that it is culturally unable to resist, or even to condemn, extremist Islamic agitation in its pre-militant phase. By fighting only those who have crossed the sharp legal border between religious hate-mongering (which is tolerated as a multicultural right) and actual belligerency it is permanently restricted to chipping away at the tip of the iceberg, while nine-tenths of it is allowed to grow unchecked beneath the surface.

The West Point analysis points out that many of the problems which beset Iraq have their origins elsewhere; in so-called allied countries and even within communities in the West.
A foreign suicide bomber is man who by definition was ready to explode before he even got to Iraq. The country itself provided him with a graveyard, but the process which gave him birth is still in full swing.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ignorance Is Strength

"I think the Pope's visit is not a good thing because science doesn't need religion. The university is open to every form of thought but religion isn't," said Andrea Sterbini -- a computer science professor who was one of 67 academic signatories of a document protesting the pope's visit.

In those two sentences my reader may see exposed the grounding assumption of every politically-correct proposition in the post-modern, so-called “liberal” mind. The speaker assumes there is an official "open-minded" position, that must be protected by law or force. He then insists on banning any deviation from this official “open-minded” position.

George Orwell made it his life's work to expound the way in which the plain meaning of any English word could be inverted in minds contaminated by ideology. The “open mind” becomes indistinguishable from the closed one.
“Peace” means war. “Freedom” means slavery. “Ignorance is strength.”

Welcome To Canada -- Land Of Kangaroos

A great Mark Steyn piece on the insanely Orwellian Canadian “human rights” commissions: It’s all very odd, ‘that’s for sure’.

Who has availed themselves of the “human rights” protected by Section XIII? In its entire history, over half of all cases have been brought by a sole “complainant,” one Richard Warman. Indeed, Mr. Warman has been a plaintiff on every single Section XIII case before the federal “human rights” star chamber since 2002 — and he’s won every one. That would suggest that no man in any free society anywhere on the planet has been so comprehensively deprived of his human rights. Well, no. Mr. Warman doesn’t have to demonstrate that he’s been deprived of his human rights, only that it’s “likely” (i.e. “highly un-”) that someone somewhere will be deprived of some right sometime. Who is Richard Warman? What’s his story? Well, he’s a former employee of the Canadian Human Rights Commission: an investigator. Same as Shirlene McGovern.

Good On Spencer

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On November 15 of last year, I wrote this about the controversy over whether anti-jihadists should support the Vlaams Belang party or not:

But there is cultural defense and then there is a white supremacism that is based on some idea of racial superiority and inferiority, and has via Hitler a historical link to genocide. They are not the same thing, and a distinction needs to be made between the two. If VB and SD have really made a clean break with the past, make it a complete one: let them deal with the ties to LePen and Haider, and make a distinction between cultural defense and white supremacism that is completely clear and distinguishes their position from the neo-fascists.