An Expected Lack of Principle

The United States military used military action in a sovereign state, a nuclear power with whom we’re not at war, and killed Osama Bin Laden. Hey, I’m a fan.

What I find sort of stunning and mostly not, though, is the triumphalism of my left-leaning friends who want to put the President back on his pedestal as though the President’s authorization of military action based on intelligence gleaned from interrogations he previously decried at a military base he previously decried represents a re-apotheosis instead of a continuation of ongoing action started by the previous administration.

If the previous administration, or a McCain administration, or a Palin administration, had undertaken this action, these same people damn well would have stamped their feet at it and warned about creating another martyr, about summary dispensation of justice without a trial in Manhattan, and so on. You know it, I know it, and some of them know it.

I’d like to think that the enemies of the American Republic will see this as an example of the long memory and long reach of the American military. However, it will be too convenient and too accommodating to their particular narrative that this is the feckless action of a single American leader acting to prop up his flagging regime, and if this serves his purpose, he will leave them to plot and arm again. Some Americans will believe this is true. Perhaps it is at some level, but this is a continuation of American policy. The President did the right thing no matter who thinks so.

Will it stop al-Qaida? Hardly. I don’t even know how much of a figurehead bin Laden was nowadays. We haven’t heard about communications from him for some time. The loose organization of the outfit means you cannot stop it like you can topple a despotic regime by forcing the leader into exile or killing the leader.

Still, it’s good news.

I just hope it doesn’t lead to a Pakistani nuke making its way to Los Angeles or Long Beach.

UPDATE: Two wiser men than I speak: Richard Fernandez and Steven Den Beste, although Den Beste is merely predicting that which already happened as of 10:30 last night.

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On the Whole, It Balances To Some People

Someone on my twitter feed retweeted this:

The next time someone says something bad about Pakistan compared to the US, I’m going to point them to this:

Pakistan has taken the landmark decision to allow transsexuals to have their own gender category on some official documents.

You know, in the United States, we don’t have climate of fear over blasphemy laws:

This is where Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti was shot dead in March. Bunches of flowers, many now dry and brown, are piled on the kerb. Large colour posters showing his picture are displayed alongside.

On seeing the media, guards from his mother’s home nearby rush out to explain what happened.

Mr Bhatti had just left her home, they say as they walk me through the short distance, when another car blocked his path at the junction and the gunmen inside it opened fire.

Mr Bhatti’s murder shocked Pakistan.

It came just weeks after the shooting of another prominent politician, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.

Both men had dared to speak out about the need for debate and possible reform of the controversial blasphemy laws.

And both men paid with their lives.

So, a checkbox on a government form for transsexuals and maybe transvestites. On the other hand, you have killing members of minority religions and people who think you shouldn’t probably kill members of minority religions.

And it’s a wash to some people. One merit, one demerit. Maybe two merits since it’s Christians and their defenders who are dying.

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Oh, Brave New World

Tam remarks on the UN resolutions on the Libyan government and says:

As a side note, I was completely unaware that whether a government is “legitimate” or not is up to the UN Security Council…

She says she’s going to have fun with this For some of us, the laughter represents actual hysterics.

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A Good Metric

Iraq wants the US to pay for damage to Baghdad:

Iraq’s capital wants the United States to apologize and pay $1 billion for the damage done to the city not by bombs but by blast walls and Humvees since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The city’s government issued its demands in a statement on Wednesday that said Baghdad’s infrastructure and aesthetics have been seriously damaged by the American military.

Harvey zooms in on this piece:

Baghdad’s neighborhoods have been sealed off by miles of concrete blast walls, transforming the city into a tangled maze that contributes to massive traffic jams. Despite a sharp reduction in overall violence in recent years only 5 percent of the walls have been removed, officials said.

Harvey sez:

Baghdad’s biggest problem isn’t secret police, torture rooms, mass graves, or a brutal dictator with a bad moustache, it’s traffic jams.

I think that means we won.

I say: Almost.

We won’t truly have won until Baghdad has built enough bike paths, banned indoor smoking, and issued enough personal diversity statements. And maybe graduated enough comic book historians.

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The Day The JFK Comparisons Died

Barack Obama and JFK. Less close than they appear:

Among the two most alarming revelations is the already completed sale and delivery, to Venezuela by Russia, of nearly 2,000 advanced, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles capable of hitting aircraft as high as 19,000 feet. Equally and perhaps more alarming is an October agreement between Iran and Venezuela. The agreement establishes a joint ground-to-ground missile base on Venezuelan soil and calls for the sharing of missile technology and the training of technicians and officers. In addition, Venezuela may use the missiles as it chooses for “national needs” and in case of “emergency.” Several types of missiles will be deployed, giving Venezuela the ability to strike targets throughout South and Central America and throughout the U.S.

The dangers arising from the Marxist, cult-of-personality rule of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez are many. These weapons are only the largest and most destructive purchased or finagled by Chavez. He has also purchased an enormous number of Russian assault rifles — the real thing, fully automatic military rifles, not the non-existent “assault weapons” of gun control imaginations and press releases — and related weapons and ammunition.

Keep in mind that these are only the sales and transfers about which American authorities and the public are aware.

Well, looks like history is back from its hudna. Hopefully, someone at my children’s school will remember enough to teach them to duck and cover.

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UN Official Acknowledges America’s Sovereign Rights

Embedded here:

It’s America’s sovereign right to do whatever is good for them. But don’t tell us what is good for China.

About damn time. And a Chinese UN official.

Oh, wait:

China’s top-ranking UN diplomat embarked on a drunken rant against the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, telling his boss he’d “never liked” him, and adding for good measure that he didn’t like Americans either.

Well, I guess we can discount that now that apologies have been issued and others have tried to explain it as inscrutable Chinese attempts at Austrian humor or something.

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Gun Control Prevents Gun Massacre

Instead, it became a knife massacre:

A knife-wielding man attacked a kindergarten class of 4-year-olds in eastern China on Thursday, slashing 28 children in what an expert said was a copycat rampage of two other episodes at Chinese schools in the past month.

Bonus takeaway: mental health control in an actual Communist country:

China’s inadequate mental health network has left millions of unstable people without the help they need.

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He Also Didn’t Mention The Spanish Inquisition

Pope doesn’t mention sex scandal in Palm Sunday homily:

Pope Benedict XVI opened Holy Week on Sunday amid one of the most serious crises facing the church in decades, with protesters in London demanding he resign and calls in Switzerland for a central registry for pedophile priests.

Benedict made no direct mention of the scandal in his Palm Sunday homily. But one of the prayers, recited in Portuguese during Mass, was “for the young and for those charged with educating them and protecting them.”

I think it stuns journalists that religious leaders behave differently than the celebrities that journalists have trained to react to negative publicity with groveling, insincere half apologies, and elaborate shows of unfelt penance.

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In The Olden Days, Troops Would Have Gone Over The Border

Mexico gunmen kill American consulate staff:

Gunmen in the drug war-plagued Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez killed two Americans and a Mexican linked to the local U.S. consulate, an attack U.S. President Barack Obama said “outraged” him.

An American woman working at the consulate in Ciudad Juarez, just over the border from El Paso, Texas, and her U.S. husband were fatally shot by suspected drug gang hitmen in broad daylight on Saturday as they left a consulate social event, U.S. and Mexican officials told Reuters.

Undoubtedly, the Mexican gangsters even now are wilting under the President’s outrage.

In the old days, that is, the beginning of the 20th century, American forces streamed over the Mexican border for this sort of thing. But we’re in a different world now, one where your American lives overseas are unprotected by the virtue of your being an American.

That said, do I think we should invade Mexico? Well, they do have oil. But it would be better if the Mexican government could take care of its own problems or ask for help from its militarily talented good neighbor to the north.

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I, For One, Fear The Austrians When Provoked

U.S. missile shield is provocation: Austrian minister:

Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos has called U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe a “provocation” reviving Cold War debates.

“That the United States are installing a defense shield in eastern Europe is a provocation in my view,” Darabos was quoted as saying in an interview with daily Die Presse on Thursday.

It’s the dreaded Austrian Navy that I fear most.

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The Coming Russo-Canadian War

Canada joins rush to claim the Arctic:

“Our government has an aggressive Arctic agenda,” Dimitri Soudas, Mr Harper’s spokesman, said on Wednesday.

“The Russians sent a submarine to drop a small flag at the bottom of the ocean. We’re sending our prime minister to reassert Canadian sovereignty,” said a senior government official, according to Canadian press.

Since the Russian expedition was discovered last month, Mr Harper has faced increasing pressure to fight back.

The twenty-first century promises to be as odd as all the others that preceded it. I mean, it almost takes a suspension of disbelief to believe that the French once dominated Continental Europe with its army or that the Belgians had colonies. Looking forward to the 21st century, how many other almost inconceivable things remain to come.

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TradeWars 2007

China wants to play:

Chinese food inspectors have banned meat products from seven U.S. companies from being imported into their country after finding a range of contamination issues in shipments checked on Saturday, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua.

The suspension of meat imports from the American companies — including Tyson Foods — comes just weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would hold all farm-raised catfish, basa, shrimp, dace and eel shipments arriving from China until they are tested for residues from drugs not approved by the U.S. for use in farm-raised fish.

People are dying from certain Chinese products, but to China, it’s a game of oneupmanship.

The title, of course, refers to an ancient BBS game which I had the pleasure of playing in the late 1980s. The game was called TradeWars 2002, and I played it on WWIV Bulletin Board Systems, you damn kids!

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Fighting Words Threshold Lowered

China says U.S. warning on toothpaste irresponsible:

China has branded a U.S. warning against using its toothpaste as irresponsible, saying low levels of diethylene glycol (DEG) were not harmful.

“So far we have not received any report of death resulting from using the toothpaste. The U.S. handling (of this case) is neither scientific nor responsible,” China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement posted on its Web site over the weekend.

This from a government who thinks bumping an electronics surveillance plane is responsible piloting.

In some quantum universe, this is one of the beginning shots in a war between China and the United States. When its exports collapse because the Chinese Administration of Quality Supervision (motto: Good Enough For Government Work Is Good Enough For Everything) doesn’t actually stop the country from exporting poisonous substances as consumables and customers die, China’s economy collapses. To save face amongst its preening ruling elite, the country makes its desperate gamble for Taiwan and thar she blows.

Part of my gift as a writer and a paranoia shidoshi is the joy of extrapolating the worst possible scenario from a bad press release.

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No Hue and Cry; No Hue Or Cry; Very Little Notice

Wow, has this fallen off the front page already? Moscow May Break Arms-Reduction Treaty, Russian General Says:

A top Russian general said yesterday that Moscow may unilaterally opt out of a Soviet-era arms reduction treaty with the America, Russian news agencies reported.

General Yuri Baluyevsky, the chief of the Russian military’s general staff, was quoted by ITARTass and Interfax as saying that Russia could pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, negotiated between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan in 1987.

Can’t anyone muster up some no nuke signs for outside the Russian embassies worldwide?

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George Orwell Smiles Knowingly at the Concept of Space Missile For Peace

The Chinese know how to sound all the right notes: China tries to reassure the world on space missile ‘aimed at peace’:

China signalled yesterday that its first missile strike against an orbiting satellite was intended to force the US into talks aimed at abolishing weapons in space.

As it faced an international chorus of protest against its test — the first such launch for 20 years — its officials insisted that they wanted space to be free of weapons.

“As the Chinese Government, our principle stand is to promote the peaceful use of space,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “We oppose the militarisation of space. In the past, in the present and in the future, we are opposed to any arms race in space. Of this everyone can be confident.”

Obviously, the Chinese have been paying attention. Blowing stuff up as a precursor to peace plays well to the International Community of media and those who would be easily cowed.

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Border Guards Open Fire On Poor Oppressed Palestinians

Oh, wait, it was Palestinian border guards opening fire on rival Palestinians:

Hamas militants, angry that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was prevented from returning to Gaza from Egypt, burst into the Rafah crossing Thursday, sparking a gunbattle with the guards at the border terminal.

Never mind, that interrupts the official narrative and higher truth, that it’s the damn Israelis that are the source of all conflict in the Middle East. Best we not consider this bit of information then. Carry on.

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As If Millions Of Sophisticates Suddenly Cried Out In Terror And Were Suddenly Silenced (I)

Monster truck rallies. In Paris.

Six of the world’s most legendary Monster Jam® monster trucks had the fans at Bercy’s Omnisport Arena on their feet throughout four action-packed performances in the tour’s first-ever stop in Paris.

Grave Digger®, Hot Wheels®, El Toro Loco®, Slingshot, and the Superman and Batman monster trucks delighted the 20,000-plus fans at the Hot Wheels-sponsored Monster Jam. Grave Digger and the Hot Wheels monster trucks stole the show, earning multiple wins in the wheelie competition, the racing competition, and freestyle competition.

“We’re continually amazed by the enthusiastic support we receive at every European Monster Jam tour stop,” said John Seasock, driver of the Hot Wheels monster truck. “Hot Wheels really supported our tour here in Paris, and I’m so happy to put together some wins for them here.”

Oh, some Frenchmen must have spontaneously combusted for this degradation of their celebrated culture.

But, come to think of it, what exactly is that celebrated culture? Nothing but imports. I mean, the most famous painting in their fancypants museum was painted by an Eyetalian, wasn’t it?

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Britain To Reward Silent Killers

‘Big Brother’ cameras listen for fights:

The system works by putting microphones in CCTV cameras to continually analyze the sound in the surrounding area. If aggressive tones are picked up, an alarm signal is automatically sent to the police, who can zoom in the camera to the location of the suspect sound and investigate the situation.

“Ninety percent of violent cases start with verbal aggression,” Van der Vorst said. “With our system, the police can respond a lot quicker to a violent situation.”

Aggressive foreign powers can continue quietly poisoning dissidents, though.

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