Belmont Club

News Roundup -- December 8, pm

Revolving door: “Call it the triumph of ideology over national interest and honor. Having dithered for nearly three years, the Obama administration has only a few weeks to bring to justice a Hezbollah terrorist who slaughtered five U.S. soldiers in Iraq in 2007. Unfortunately, it appears more likely that Ali Musa Daqduq will instead be transferred to Iran, to a hero’s welcome. … With U.S. troops set to exit Iraq at the end of December, all detainees in American custody there have been transferred to the Iraqis except for Daqduq. He is set to be turned over in a matter of weeks. Based on past experience with released detainees who were in Iranian employ, U.S. officials know that Daqduq will promptly re-emerge in Iran, shaking hands with dignitaries and leading parades, before rejoining his Hezbollah colleagues.”

One thing you can say for Iran is that it fights its corner. Which is more than you can sometimes say for the administration.

Fast And Furious Proves Private Citizens Shouldn’t Own Guns: “Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.” That makes sense; sort of, kind of.

Obama Sending Syrian Ambassador Back To Damascus: “Ford’s presence in Syria was a symbolic part of President Barack Obama’s effort to engage Damascus, which was without a U.S. ambassador for years after the Bush administration broke ties over Syria’s alleged role in the 2005 assassination of a political candidate in neighboring Lebanon.” He was withdrawn after a revolt broke out against President Assad. But if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

Iran shows film of captured US drone: “Brig General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace unit, told Iranian media that the drone “fell into the trap” of the unit “who then managed to land it with minimum damage”. He said Iran was “well aware of what priceless technological information” could be gleaned from the aircraft.” Fortunately America has leaders who will not be discouraged by such rebuffs. The day will surely come when even the hardest Iranian heart melts at the sincerity, honesty and patience of the administration. All we are saying “is give peace a chance”.

Fracking Harms the Planet: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday for the first time that fracking — a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells — may be to blame for causing groundwater pollution. … The EPA announcement could add to the controversy over fracking, which has played a large role in opening up many gas reserves, including the Marcellus Shale in the eastern U.S. in recent years.”

What could go wrong?

When MF Global’s Jon Corzine said (see previous thread) that ‘he had no idea where the money went’ — the $1.2 billion his customers gave him — there was the possibility that he was enjoying himself at everyone else’s expense. There is the quaint notion that con men retain some semblance of remorse; that they feel a suppressed pang when taking the last dime off a widow or the orphanage fund. But in many cases con men adopt their professions as much for the psychological income as for the monetary gain. Some people feel a sense of exhilaration akin to power, a supreme affirmation of their own cleverness and worth, in the mere act of putting other people down.

The sheer reckless disregard for appearances embodied in the actions of senior administration officials or persons who were formerly close (or are still close) to the powers that be is hard to explain except in terms of the thrill that comes when people can flaunt their authority. It is gratuitous, shameless and utterly uncaring. “Look at me, Ma. I can continue to do irrational things because no one can stop me!”

It must have been in this spirit that the French aristocrats were once said to utter to the starving, “if they have no bread, then let them eat cake”. The average person probably cannot imagine how good it feels to toss a cigarette butt in the punchbowl people are presently drinking out of, knowing that you can. Power at its purest is not the ability to do something; it is the ability to do something for caprice. To have a man executed for murder is something many an elected or appointed official can do. To have a man executed because you feel like it, now that is real power.

But it may not be wholly impertinent to point out that this kind of wild abandon is often associated with the last days of a fading and failing ruling class. Not for nothing was the saying “those who the gods wish to destroy they first make mad” coined. It expresses an ancient empirical observation, often rendered as “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. These are the kinds of people who hypnotize themselves into believing that a General Steiner will come to save their sorry butts because he always has. But the day that he can’t will to them be no different from any other. The dawn of doom will come with no warning because they’ve turned all the gauges off. In the stupor of power they will not know when they have gone too far; not the day nor the hour.

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $3.99, print $9.99
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