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Monthly Archives: August 2009

What’s the frequency?

August 25th, 2009 - 7:19 pm

Bernard Goldberg brings an interesting new perspective into the Rathergate story which centered around a 60 Minutes presentation in which faked documents were presented to “prove” that future President George W. Bush received special treatment from his National Guard commander so that he did not have to go to Vietnam.


A rumor of war

August 25th, 2009 - 5:12 pm

Michael Yon’s embed with British forces was canceled for reasons that are still unclear. He writes in his latest post that “the British Ministry of Defence canceled my embed after today’s dispatch.  Please Read “Bad Medicine”. My own guess is that his dispatch was too high resolution for the British to be comfortable with, the question being in what respect. Bad Medicine is a textbook example of how a “journalist” should describe a combat scene. You get a sense of terrain, tactical advantages and disadvantages on each side, morale and fire support. You get almost none of these in your standard journalist’s report.

Yon talks about Afghans who patrol with sandals and scrawny dogs, the comical misunderstandings of the battlefield, about civilians who know about Michael Jackson but have never heard of Canada, which kinds of fire support the troops like best , the primitiveness of French airplanes and the valor of their pilots, of British amusement at Southern accents, of the lethality of Death From Above, at what the British Army feels like to be surrounded in perpetuity, about how men who step on bombs disappear never to be found again. He describes a terrain flat as a billiard table, intersected by fifteen foot thick walls that make it like fighting in a maze, with no high ground. In short, he describes the war like a journalist who is also an ex-special forces soldier. And that makes him dangerous from a public relations point of view.


The mandate of heaven

August 24th, 2009 - 10:51 pm

The most problematic dimension of decisions is their futurity. It’s not what decisions are about that is most worrisome. It’s what they will lead to that we don’t anticipate that causes the most problems. A turning changes a trajectory in a fundamental way. Take choosing a pair of sunglasses. If you buy an expensive pair, they’ll look funny unless you have a shirt to match, which will look strange unless you’ve got pants to go with them and they in turn will force you to buy a good pair of shoes. You can get a whole new wardrobe from a choice of sunglasses. Here’s another example from those familiar with the tabloids. Newly divorced or widowed men who for some reason think to date a supermodel-type girlfriend may soon find they’ve acquired more than a new romantic interest; that they’ve bought into a whole new lifestyle — as their purchases of hair gel, tooth implants, gym training and contact lenses will soon prove.

This happens in politics too. Take electing Barack Obama. Some of his supporters may have believed that his ideology was decoration at the margins: that things would stay the same and go on much as they always have; that Obama’s edginess could simply be blocked off in one little corner while he governed from the center. Only one really leftist thing leads to another: bailouts, cap and trade, health care. It’s a serial which once begun seeks an ending. Those events are not disconnected from news that the Obama administration is going to question CIA officials about the interrogation of terrorist suspects. Hot Air quotes news sources as saying that Leon Panetta had a vociferous argument with an unnamed senior administration official over plans to prosecute the CIA and “now officials tell ABC to expect some turnover in national security positions”.

Why so serious? Maybe it’s because it sends the signal that successor administrations are prepared to prosecute their predecessors. If pursued in all but the most limited and circumscribed manner, then the way lies open to for each successor to power to criminalize those who came before. Like the sunglasses or the supermodel girlfriend, maybe one thing leads to another and the leftist mission creeps gradually forward and has no logical end until the makeover is complete or it encounters some constraint.


“A Tribute To Our Decency”

August 22nd, 2009 - 9:07 pm

Kevin McKenny writing in the Guardian about the release of the Lockerbie Bomber, says that “Kenny MacAskill’s decision to free Megrahi is a tribute to our decency”. He describes the how the Scottish minister walked the lonely road for truth, justice and the compassionate way.

Nothing in his experience of life or politics could have prepared Kenny MacAskill for the walk towards that podium last Thursday and I wondered if he would endure the ordeal ahead. Scotland’s justice minister, an honest journeyman in the minority part-government of a relatively unimportant country, had nothing beyond a desire to see that natural justice must prevail as he pondered his decision to show compassion to Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.

In other news the Independent says “British trade with Libya set to soar”. Greg Walton writes “with the Lockerbie bomber’s release, Gaddafi’s gates swing open to UK firms as his massive building programme begins”. Both articles appeared within a short time of each other and it makes you wonder how the public will ultimately regard the entire issue. Personally I don’t think the public will mind much.  They are resigned to being sold out by politicians. They’ve come to expect it. If there’s any reaction, it will be at the sanctimony which they may find irritating.


What a wonderful world

August 21st, 2009 - 8:48 pm

Two headlines from Britain. The first describes how the Lockerbie bomber, convicted of killing 270 people, was released to a hero’s welcome in Libya on “compassionate grounds”. The second describes how an 18 year old girl has been jailed for bullying someone on Facebook. For the first story, let’s turn to Andrew McCarthy at the NRO who explains the half-hearted attempts to keep the Abdel Baset al-Megrahi in custody.

The Obama administration did nothing meaningful to stop it from happening. Perhaps the White House and the State Department were too embarrassed to try. In June, when they made arrangements with Bermuda’s prime-minister to transfer four of the Uighur detainees (trained jihadists) from Guantanamo Bay to the tiny island, they cut the British government out of the secret negotiations — even though Britain, aside from being our closest ally, is responsible for the foreign policy and national security of Bermuda, its protectorate. Laughably, the president is reported to have called for the terrorist to be placed under house arrest and to have “warned” Colonel Gadhafi “not to give him a hero’s welcome.”


The nine trillion

August 21st, 2009 - 5:13 pm

Don Surber links to a Reuters story saying that President Obama plans to borrow 28% more than previously planned: “$9 trillion over the next 10 years”. Reuters says that “record-breaking deficits have raised concerns about America’s ability to finance its debt and whether the United States can maintain its top-tier AAA credit rating.” For those who are interested, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel at the Library of Economics and Liberty argues that while many believe the country will inflate itself out of debt, “it is far more likely that the United States will be driven to an outright default on Treasury securities, openly reneging on the interest due on its formal debt and probably repudiating part of the principal.”

Others argue that the US government will find increasing difficulty borrowing money at any affordable interest long before it needs to repudiate debt. One interesting point that is raised is that if the US public’s willingness to support the Federal Government has a ceiling of between 20-25% of GDP, then eventually controlling spending is the only way of ever getting the books back into balance.

Unto Caesar

August 21st, 2009 - 1:29 pm

President Obama invokes religious duty in support of health care “reform”. The New York Times reports:

WASHINGTON — President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans. “I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” Mr. Obama told a multidenominational group of pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders who support his goal to remake the nation’s health care system.

I suppose that only God knows what politicians truly believe in their hearts, but it’s a safe bet that, whatever their theological inclinations, they believe in their own political ambitions. Jake Tapper at Politico notes that the Gospel is already being augmented.

Mr. Obama called on the religious leaders to help him share the good word about health care reform and set the record straight. “I need you to knock on doors, talk to your neighbors. I need you to spread the facts and speak the truth,” he said.

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asked. In politics, the truth is that most politicians want and like to keep power. Was that “false witness” or “false witless”?


Czar struck

August 20th, 2009 - 4:56 pm

Russia had but one Czar, but Obama has appointed a whole plethora. Glenn Reynolds discusses the galaxy of Czars in the new administration’s universe. Onward to progress, and here’s just the soundtrack to do it with.


Healthy debate

August 20th, 2009 - 4:53 am

Two headlines from the Drudge Report illustrate the use of carrot and stick.  The first link describes what happens when you do get with the program, the second describes the outcome when you don’t.

  1. Firms with Obama ties profit from health push
  2. Insurers Fear Probe By House Dems Is Reprisal for Opposing Part of Obama’s Plan

Well it’s politics, right?  Politics is about making deals and that means positive and negative payoffs. But the really amazing thing is how health care has turned into a kind of vortex into which the energies of the opposing sides are being sucked. The story on reprisals really illustrates to what extent politicians will go in order to “reform” health care debate or keep it from being “reformed”. Who knew they cared so much?

In a move some fear is a reprisal for opposing President Obama’s health care plan, Democrats sent 52 letters to health insurers requesting financial records for a House committee’s investigation. Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Bart Stupak, D-Mich., sent a letter warning health insurers that the House Energy and Commerce Committee is “examining executive compensation and other business practices of the health industry.”


The Collaborators

August 20th, 2009 - 4:04 am

Although the most of the Filipino population fought against the Japanese during the Second World War, there were a considerable number of prominent men who supported them.  Some were former leaders of the Aguinaldo government which had been defeated during the Filipino American War and who never stopped regarding the United States as the enemy. The most interesting of these was Artemio Ricarte, who seemed to have a knack for choosing the losing side. Ricarte was a general in the losing side who was exiled to Guam and returned surreptitiously in 1903 in order to rekindle an uprising against the US government, only to be turned in by some of his former colleagues. He was rearrested and imprisoned for six years and released. Ricarte eventually made his way to Japan, where he languished in obscurity.

But when the Japanese military fortunes began to decline, Tokyo shipped him back to Luzon where he attempted to organize anti-guerilla unit called the Makapili in December, 1944, at the very moment when other collaborators were beginning to have second thoughts about the light of Nippon suffusing the Orient. That went over like a lead balloon and pursued by American and Filipino forces, Ricarte died as the war ended in Mountain Province, where Yamashita had made his last stand. Interestingly, my mother saw Ricarte’s daughter as she was doing the rounds of Manila schools speaking on behalf of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, the moniker for the Japanese Empire in Asia. My mother, who was in grade school then, recalls her as a beautiful woman wearing riding breeches and extolling the virtues of Greater Japan. Her fate is not disclosed on the Internet, though doubtless some historian can take up the story.

Most of the collaborators, however, were in it because they thought they had found a winning side. How popular they were is shown by the fact that the President of the collaborationist Republic was shot by his own bodyguard while playing golf. The bodyguard, later executed by the Japanese Kempetai, may have been affiliated with the guerrillas. Many of accounts of that troubled period were subjected to amazing revisionisms when the tide turned against Japan. Today there are some who would actually argue that the Japanese were the victims rather than the aggressors in the Pacific.

One interesting character about whom a movie will soon be made is General Masaharu Homma, the victor of Bataan. If anyone looked the part of the central casting Japanese officer, it was Homma.  Tall, shaven-headed and heavily built, he was known as the poet-general, and was a playwright and painter to boot.