Saturday, December 31, 2005

I don’t even like the Left and this was still troubling….

A recently unearthed letter from Upton Sinclair reveals that he knew, prior to publishing Boston, that Sacco and Vanzetti were actually guilty. That’s according to conversations he had with their lawyer. Sinclair struggled with his obligation to tell the truth – and then proceeded to keep the secret beyond his grave.

Next thing you know, it’ll turn out that there weren’t bits of people being ground into hamburger meat.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Sometimes it’s best to run roughshod over the opposition….

In Kanryo, a fascinating book about Japan’s bureaucracy, journalist Tadahide Ikuta laments that the strong political leadership that would be needed to reform these entrenched agencies simply did not exist. That was true in the mid nineties, when the book was written, but, thanks to Koizumi, times have changed. Here’s a summary of Koizumi’s resolve and tactics in dissolving the lower house and getting his Postal reform passed. Notice how many nervous nellies and political opponents he had to stiff-arm to see it through.

VDH takes it to the hole

The gist: Mr. Hanson asks - why are DNC leaders bitching and moaning so loudly? Mr. Hanson answers - because we're winning the war. Good stuff.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The country formerly known as Burma continues to play hell with map makers

Is the Burmese government’s relocation of the capital to another area of the country a reflection of a new center of power? Apparently not:

The decision to shift the government of Myanmar (Burma) to a mountainous inland
hideaway has flabbergasted the world--and the military regime's government
Perhaps the new locale was chosen because of its convenience and comfort?

It's [Pyinmana] … prone to malaria, full of poisonous snakes and generally a
miserable backwater. No one understands why anyone would choose to move there.

Well, no doubt, the government planned the relocation well and will have everything set up for the arriving government workers, right?

…. When they arrived, they found there were no apartments built yet, so
they are sleeping at their offices. They eat meals prepared by co-workers.

Fortunately, the current government workers can choose to leave their posts so they can stay with their families and choose to join the private sector. Psych!

By law, government officials cannot resign without permission--which is not
often granted.

Sounds like the government is trying to make itself less accessible to the people.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Let's give a shout out to our Polish allies

The reality community holds these assertions to be self evident

The Mao’s little red book hoax reminds me of a similar fake-but-accurate story a few years ago at UCO where a middle eastern student was told by immigration officials that he/she (the gender changed with the telling) would have to give up Islam and convert to Christianity to become a citizen. It never happened, but I’m sure the myth lives on. In this case, Ted Kennedy is more than happy to keep the belief alive.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Peter Cushing

If there was a vampire lurking about, snatching pretty girls in the neighborhood and tossing aside their bloodless husks, this is the Van Helsing I’d want on the case.

His best quality? His main strength as a vampire killer? He’s able to take command of the situation – always. He stays calm and he thinks and you never see him lose his nerve. He’s a man of action, but he’s also book learned. He tends to create the opportunities to turn tragedies into successes.

Ever wonder what you should do if you got bit? Follow and learn:
First, heat an iron –

Then sear the bite thoroughly –

Dowse generously with holy water –
Wait – Heaven takes care of the rest –

He enters a room without hesitation – though he's mindful of the danger. I’m not sure where his confidence comes from since he never seems foolhardly or reckless. Quite the contrary, he’s inquisitive and direct, as here, where he deduces the fears of the local innkeeper right in front of him – tells him he knows what they are afraid of and that he knows it is evil:
And when it’s time to confront evil, face to face, his steely nerves allow him to act unassuming and casual. Because he knows the vampire is not an athiest.

And you can always count on a good finish, as in Brides of Dracula, where Cushing turns a windmill into a crucifix.

Stills from the Horror of Dracula and The Brides of Dracula.

China prefers no reform at the UN

Vice-Foreign Minister Qiao Zonghuai Monday reiterated China's position in the
reform of the United Nations (UN), saying "priority (of the reform) should be
given to increasing the representation of developing countries especially
African countries."

Translation: the 2nd largest economy in the world should not be on the security council.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Is Newsweek even trying anymore?

Arlene Getz wants to know where the outrage is regarding the NSA story. The answer: in newsrooms across America and few other places. She goes off on a ridiculous parallel between the U.S. and S. Africa that would embarrass any person living north of the Bush Fever Line:

Back in the 1980s, when I was living in Johannesburg and reporting on apartheid
South Africa, a white neighbor proffered a tasteless confession. She was "quite
relieved," she told me, that new media restrictions prohibited our reporting on
government repression. No matter that Pretoria was detaining tens of thousands
of people without real evidence of wrongdoing. No matter that many of them,
including children, were being tortured—sometimes to death. No matter that
government hit squads were killing political opponents. No matter that police
were shooting into crowds of black civilians protesting against their
disenfranchisement. "It's so nice," confided my neighbor, "not to open the
papers and read all that bad news."

Yes, the comparisons are obvious, aren’t they? But the manure doesn’t stop there. Getz describes Desmond Tutu’s reaction – not to the spy story, but to the 2004 election?

Tutu recalled teaching in Jacksonville, Fla., when Bush won re-election in 2004.
"I was shocked," he said, "because I had naively believed all these many years
that Americans genuinely believed in freedom of speech. [But I] discovered there
that when you made an utterance that was remotely contrary to what the White
House was saying, then they attacked you.

I know I’ve been living in the Bush bubble, but what is the Tutu talking about and what does the 2004 election have to do with anything?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Friday, December 23, 2005

This is about right

And there's more Lileks here from the Hewitt show. Lileks makes the following observation:

"...the people who are worried about civil liberties in this case, being somebody from Karachi calling somebody in San Diego and telling them where to plant the little nasty sticks. That's one level of civil rights violation, if it is. The other level of civil rights violation is martial law, because Washington has been taken out, and we have to take our orders from somebody in a NORAD bunker deep in the southwest. And you want to see civil rights violations, you ain't seen nothing yet."

Scroll down on Radio Blogger to see the Thursday Mark Steyn segment - where he discusses the House of Lords, aka the Senate.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

If it looks like treason, smells like treason and acts like treason….

then it must be something we should not question. To me, at least, it seems clear that the liberal death star laid down some suppressing fire to give Democrats cover while they killed the Patriot Act. There are other possibilities for the timing of the NSA spy story: they could’ve used it to drown out the Iraqi elections or simply to coincide with the author’s book. Maybe the editors felt they had a damning story that they could release at an opportune moment. Perhaps a combination of all those. One thing is certain: it ain’t news and no matter how you feel about the program – legitimate scandal or a bunch of hooey – national security interests were the editors' least concern.

Another thing is certain: this president can’t fart sideways without his opponents screaming that he’s stifling debate or lashing out. It’s not every day that Newsweek sounds as unhinged and hysterical as kos or nonfamous.

UPDATE: This is a house of cards. Drudge did a little spade work and found executive orders from Clinton and Carter authorizing warrantless searches and surveillance. I, for one, have never been as impressed with Carter as in this instance. And here's Andrew McCarthy's take. Make no mistake, Democrats will proceed with the rhetoric of fear.

Meanwhile: Hugh Hewitt had Jonathan Alter, the writer of the Snoopgate piece, on his show. You can see a transcript of the interview here.

And finally - goodbye.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

It's about his sche-du-al....

Honestly, does a week go by when Biden isn't on Meet the Press or Face the Nation? I just switched on the boob tube and there he was again - I call it the Sunday Sermon. He and McCain have some sort've tag team going on.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ted Rall should be this clever....

via Ace of Spades

Freedom on the march

The Iraqi's have been able to voice their opinion so much this year that this vote almost seems like old news. What a great thing. Anyway, Iraq the Model has been posting extensively on it. Also, Pajamas Media is on the beat.

UPDATE: Since I didn't brave the car bombs to cast an Iraqi ballot, I feel like dying my finger purple is not the best way to show my support. However, what better way to express support and confidence with the Iraqi people than buying dinars? It's a win-win: you're telling them that you believe the economy is going to boom, and when it does, you stand to make a killing - though not in the self whacking sense. Just be sure that the bills are legit (i.e. - no Saddam picture).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Israel's going to need a bigger fence

Abbas is giving money to relatives of suicide bombers, former Israeli settlements are now being used as terror camps, the Iranian loon wants Israel to move to Europe, lock, stock and barrel….or be destroyed or preferrably both. And it’s a small wonder that the UN doesn’t care for Israelis – they, too, don't even think they should exist.

Lileks has a 2005 year in review that will be funny to some, real to others

Monday, December 12, 2005

Gateway Pundit also has comprehensive coverage of the Iraqi elections

so far. Lots of stuff on Iraq, Australia & China - just keep scrolling.

Gateway pundit has the most complete coverage

of the People's Government crackdown on the People - that I've seen, at least.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

One of the great ones dies

Richard Pryor died of a heart-attack at 65.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Iranian nuke situation may escalate into discussions....

According to the BBC headline, El Baradei warned that the world is losing patience with Iran. That's pretty meaningless left on it's own, but after reading the story, he's never even quoted as saying that. Instead (and perhaps this is the result of lost patience) the story says:

Mr ElBaradei said European negotiators should continue talking to Iran.

"The parties need to sit together, discuss their grievances and reach a solution," he said.

"If we can do that without escalating the problem, all the much better."

Give that man a Nobel Prize!

Stop the NYTimes presses: Tax cuts work!

Here's an impressive graph. And the House is working on more tax cuts. Notice that the Krugman cat index hasn't been updated in a while - perhaps because the puss is orbiting beyond the range.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

While it's important to remember December 7th

It's also important to remember the years that followed. I believe the photo is of the USS Pennsylvania, followed by the Colorado moving towards the Philippines, 1945.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rumsfeld delivers a stellar speech on Iraq

"the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong..."

"I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening."

"I think we need a strategic redeployment over a period of two years," Dean said. "Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately. They don't belong in a conflict like this anyway. We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don't have enough troops to do the job there and its a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We've got to get the target off the backs of American troops."

Note to GOP: Dean just handed you the stick, now beat him over the head with it. We'll see how many of the Democrats in Congress side with him over the President.

LDP wants to allow Internet campaigning

A wake-up call for who?

Here’s a curiously incoherent piece by Fareed Zakaria. Summation: China is using soft power to out-charm us, but they’re not really that charming, but it’s working anyway and the U.S. is missing the boat by not being invited to the upcoming Asian summit that was designed by China to leave us uninvited, though this year we did receive an open invitation from China though we’re not going. Still with him? He goes on: the region resents American involvement in the region to counteract Chinese power…I mean soft power…though they are now realizing that Chinese power…I mean soft power….isn’t in the region’s interest so they expanded participation in the summit to Australia, New Zealand and India…and the U.S., which is still not going. And the above countries don’t share U.S. interests so our interests will not be represented? Oh yeah, and anti-Americanism is rampant all over Asia, including, Zakaria tells us, Japan. According to Zakaria, an Asian government with close alliances to the U.S. is at a political disadvantage if there be voting in that country…

To believe that last statement, you’d have to disregard the pro-American leaders recently voted in by the people in places like Indonesia, Australia, Mongolia and…Japan. And I’d bet that the Taiwanese people feel safer and freer under the U.S. military than that of China. And if push came to shove, I would bet on the S. Koreans to come to their senses and side with the U.S. instead of China. And if the Burmese could decide for themselves, little doubt they’d cling to the U.S. over their own autocracy or China’s.

Zakaria, like most other Newsweek and Time reporters, apparently believes that overly hedging your bets is the best way to create an aura of objectivity. As in a recent piece of his where hs was saying that China is a growing threat, war might be on the horizon, but then again it’s unlikely, but there are ominous clouds nonetheless. Does the future belong to China? Maybe, maybe not. What’s the point? The problem is that by layering caveat over caveat, Zakaria convolutes everything until his article is practically meaningless.

If you dig down deep enough in his current article to hit the thin vein of logic therein, that the U.S. needs to pay more attention to Asia as a whole, then you’ve reached a conclusion the that Bush Administration reached quite some time ago. Zakaria laments that everyone in Washington is too dense to know that the charming/uncharming China is out-charming/uncharming us…but hold on there, Fareed! Bush just got back from the region where he tried to put a focus on American relations to the region. Bush deftly criticized China’s human rights record and encouraged reform there as well. He also did so through other countries in the region, and behind the cameras, Rice was doing the same. Bush was the first president ever to visit Mongolia – an ally on the war on terror and a country that worries about its southern neighbor. Bush’s message was comprehensive, dynamic and forward looking – touching on increasing freedom, reforming government, taking care of health crises and improving trade, etc. The press, of which Zakaria is a member, had little interest in Bush’s message. I happened to watch much of Bush’s visit on Japanese television & it seemed that every time an English speaking journalist opened his/her mouth it was to ask about Iraq or prison abuse or the Mertha deal – just to let you know what they consider the pressing issue to be. True enough, Iraq has occupied much of the President's time. Yet, he still has not forgotten about all the things that the press has forgotten: Afghanistan, trade issues everywhere, bird flu (though if that can be used against the President, they’ll quickly remember), Taiwan, etc. It’s true that Zakaria has been warning about Chinese power for years, but when he frets that there is nobody in Washington to define the long term American role in Asia, he betrays his bias against the President who has been defining that very role since his first day in office. Perhaps the wake up Zakaria seeks is for his own colleagues.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Squirrel padawons

I'm not sure if the squirrels that killed the dog in Russia were Syth lords, or not

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

This is not really a Thanksgiving post, but I will say that I'm thankful to live in a country where the net sum of our national heroes are not just celebrated in the U.S., but in other countries as well - as this statue of Commodore Perry located in the Japanese port city of Hakodote demontrates.

I had a great time in Japan, but the trip was far too short and I did not want to return. Hokkaido was pretty cold at times, but the weather wasn't too bad. Sapporo is a tiny town (about 1.5 million) compared to the mega city that is Tokyo. It's also pretty new, which means it had a easy to navigate grid structure to the roads. Highlights? The fish and crabs were plentiful and tasty as was the beer and sake. My tongue is not so acute as to notice the difference between fish in Hokkaido and fish in the Kanto area - but Tomoe's was and she was the one that marked the trip as an eating tour. Hokkaido is also known for dairy products and chocolate and lamb. Not things you normally associate with Japan. The milk was exceedingly delicious and I made sure to have some every morning with our lunch buffet. Through the miracle of Japanese cuisine, I stuffed myself repeatedly and still lost weight.

Sapporo has a lot of western influences in the architecture. I wish I'd taken more photos of some of the government buildings and Christian churches. Regardless, there were several picturesque landmarks such as this TV tower.

But you can't go to Sapporo without visiting the fish markets. Oddly, a place like the fish market below has no fish smell and a floor almost clean enough to lick - only in Japan.

Within that market were little sushi stalls.

Check out the generous serving of salmon!

I didn't get any pictures of the breweries there, but here's a diagram of the sake making process found at the Sake Musuem (which was not really a museum so much as a store).

Hokodate is a much smaller town towards the southern tip of Hokkaido - but well worth a visit because of a lot of little museums, convenient street cars and historic buildings (again, with a western influence) like this government building

Not the best of pictures, but you get the idea. There's also the Goryaku, a large western style fort built at the time of the Meiji revolution (1860s) - which we did not have time to visit. Photo from this site.

We took a tour of the harbor and I was pleased to see signs of Japanese military vessels like this destroyer.

And this Coast Guard vessel, which, according to the guide on the ship, routinely plays cat and mouse with N. Korean vessels in the area. This is actually the larger of two vessels which lends helicopter support to the smaller one (not shown).

The rest of the trip was spent in Tokyo & unfortunately I didn't get very many sightseeing pictures from there. But I did get plenty of photos of Tomoe's two nephews - who where not the least bit afraid of the ugly pink-skinned monster.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I`ve been in Japan for the past few days

and have had little inclination to navigate a Japanese keyboard to post - until now. My jet lag has me up early in the morning waiting for Toe to get up. We`re currently in Hokkaido and trying to decide which brewery to tour. I favor the Sapporo brewery where you can cap the tour off with a variety of fresh Sapporo beers and all the Genghis Kahn style barbecue mutton you can stuff down your pie hole. Toe wants to go to the Kirin brewery, which offers a sushi buffet. Sushi has been the main part of every meal here thus far. Perhaps we`ll make it to a ramen place, but I doubt it will be today.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Friday, November 04, 2005

With a density reminiscent of Dan Rather, Kristoff more or less makes a correction

“First, he denies that he stated that the Vice President's office, not the
CIA, sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger, only that Cheney wanted an investigation
by somebody. But Kristof admits: 'In fairness, though, it is true that Cheney
apparently didn't know that Wilson had been dispatched. If I'd known that I
would have said so.'

"Then he turns to the matter of his column reporting that Wilson had
actually seen (forged) documents on the uranium deal, when he didn't. Kristof
explains: 'Wilson has said that he misspoke when he made references to the
documents to me and to two other journalists.'

“'But it does seem to be true that Wilson claims to have debunked the Niger
deal more firmly than some people remember him debunking it.'”

Translation – Wilson debunked nothing. Close enough, though, for the NYTimes.

Ramadan celebrations spread beyond Paris, beyond Ramadan

Instapundit has a pretty good roundup on riot posts. Drudge has a report that the riots appear to have been planned, according to the French Interior Minister. Hmm. LGF remembers a call to action from an Algerian Islamist organization back in September. (Now why would "French youths" care about an infitada?) Mr. Johnson also relays a report about a disabled woman lit on fire. Thus far, French authorities do not believe Eminem is involved.

A good day for the Alaskan carribou

they're one step closer to getting some relief from ANWR mesquitos.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ramadan festivities continue in Paris

Gateway Pundit has a good roundup. Plus, Roger Simon posted a fascinating letter.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

That was quick...

Bush's new pick has conservatives purring like kittens.

Humorous exchange between Howard Dean & Chris Matthews

Does this qualify as standing up for what you believe in?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Here’s a perfect example of the difference between Japan and China.

Whereas Japanese school boards may choose textbooks that gloss over WWII (their loss), there is nothing stopping the publication of a book strongly criticizing Japanese leaders or Japanese conduct in China. I’ve never seen a Chinese textbook, but I’d imagine that they tend to completely misrepresent the 20th century – by the command of Beijing. What’s more, no criticism of its leadership is tolerated in the publication industry at all. As the latest example, Mao: The Unknown Story has been banned in China (mentioned at the bottom of the article).

Reading the article, you can almost piece together the missing verses from the song “Imagine”

Imagine no food
No tableware or pots and pans
Nothing to masticate or digest
Except the tree bark and grass
Or the flesh of your neighbor….

Okay, I’m no songwriter, but you get the idea.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Kerry still hasn't found his voice on the war

Tim Blair noticed a Kerry-ism in an email the senator sent out to his supporters about his then upcoming “major Iraq” speech:

Later today, I will deliver a major speech on the war in Iraq.

It asks a hard and essential question: how do we bring our troops
home within a reasonable and responsible timeframe, while achieving what needs
to be achieved in Iraq?

One thing is certain. It isn’t by continuing to pursue the Bush
administration’s “stay for as long as it takes” rhetoric.

Blair: Pretentious blowhard. If “achieving what needs to be achieved in Iraq” is key, how does one avoid the requirement to “stay for as long as it takes”?

Indeed. And his speech? (excerpts here) Well, he likes to talk about asking the hard questions, but never seems to get around to the hard questions. When he finally drones his way to the "plan" portion of his argument - he provides absolutely nothing useful. He thinks there should be a political solution between the Sunnis and Shia - yet, he refuses to acknowlege that that's what all the constitution business is about. He thinks we need to build up Iraqi security, but refuses to acknowlege that that's what the U.S. has been doing. In short, any good ideas that he has are already in motion. And the meat of his plan? for Bush to provide a ....plan:
"The Administration must immediately give Congress and the American people a
detailed plan for the transfer of military and police responsibilities on a
sector by sector basis to Iraqis so the majority of our combat forces can be
withdrawn. No more shell games, no more false reports of progress, but specific
and measurable goals."

Not only is that not a plan, but it's just a bad idea. Bush's timelines are right on - transfer authority here, elect a temporary government here, develop a constitution here, etc. Those timelines are good to make known. They keep the wheel turning. That's the plan that Kerry is too blind to see. His timelines are geared towards withdrawal. Personally, I'd like to see no mention of pulling troops out - even when it is happening. If we cut our troop levels in half, best not to even acknowlege that we did it until years later. Hold those cards close to the vest. As Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down - that's as specific as you should get.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ugh! Miers withdraws.

I was in the pro-Miers camp and thought she should at least get her hearings. The split among conservatives was, for the most part, a healthy thing, though I fail to see how her withdrawal benefits anybody, especially Bush. You’d think his record on judicial appointees would have earned some trust. Oh, well. Throughout the debate, I thought Hugh Hewitt was exceptional in his defense of Miers. He took on pretty much everyone (including what seemed like the entire NRO staff) and bested them one by one. Too bad he wasn’t on the winning side. Apparently, the anti-Miers portion of the base will not be happy unless Bush breaks out the pole and feeds the Democrats an uber conservative nominee like a Chinese man feeds a duck. I’m prepared to support that, too. I only hope the jelly-kneed Senate is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tough negotiations between two grown-up nations results in win-win solution

Straddling the fence

"Clinton said she doesn't support a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq nor
does she support leaving our troops there for an open-ended period."

Sounds like a Democrat.

French treachery?

Here's a month old story about the forged Niger documents claiming that they were apparently deliberately manufactured at the behest of the French government to derail the arguments for the war.
"Italian diplomats have claimed that, by disseminating bogus documents
stating that Iraq was trying to buy low-grade "yellowcake" uranium from
Niger, France was trying to "set up" Britain and America in the hope that
when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it
wanted to prevent."

And yet the pith of the 16 words remains firm.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

i agree: the use of torture should be beyond debate in a civilized society

we should take the high ground. from the article:

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, "The president's made our position very clear: We do not condone torture, nor would he ever authorize the use of torture."

good. then we have nothing to worry about.

Another pro-American leader gets reelected

this time in Poland. When the big picture looks bright, you can weather all the nasty little bumps along the way.

Pistol Packin' Mamas providing security in Iraq

Congratulations to the Iraqis for passing their constitution!

Meanwhile, the left has the champagne on ice, waiting to celebrate 2,000 dead or Fitzmas - whichever presents itself first.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Chinese hysteria

A recent opinion piece on the Peoples Daily Online, entitled How can Koizumi Win Trust from World? expresses how bent out of shape the Chinese are over the Prime Minister’s fifth trip to the Yakusuni shrine:
Despite the strong opposition from China and other Asian countries and their peoples as well as from the people of insight in Japan, Koizumi provoked disturbances and randomly hurt the feelings and dignity of the victimized countries and their peoples during the war and seriously undermined Sino-Japanese relations. The move evokes great indignation in Chinese people.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the victory in China's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. Such a move challenges the human conscience and international justice.

In April this year, Chinese President
Hu Jintao put forward a five-point proposal on the Sino-Japanese relations at the Asian-African summit. Koizumi's action ignored the sincere wishes of the Chinese government and people for improving the Sino-Japanese ties...

This 5 Point Plan should not be confused with Jintao’s 5 Point Plan aimed at improving relations with Thailand, or the 5 Point Plan on how to handle the Middle East, or the 5 Point Plan to improve relations with India or the 4 Point Plan in dealing with Taiwan. Was that last plan missing a Point? Indeed it was, but not to worry, there was also a 5 Point anti-secession law that was passed this year and another 5 Point proposal for relations between the KMT and the People’s government. That’s 14 Points towards Taiwan alone, if you’re keeping score. But those aren’t freedom leaning Wilsonian points. One might assume that Hu’s 5 Points issue resolution schematic extends to other areas as well:

5 Point Strategy to oppressing religious minorities,
5 Point Strategy to establishing an obedient press,
5 Point Strategy to defending Tinnamen Square from freedom,

maybe you could throw in…

5 Point Strategy to increasing fireworks production in elementary school factories,

or, closer to the boudoir….

4 Point Strategy to pleasing Mrs. Hu (the fifth point banned by the one child policy).

If Hu were to team up with a big name publisher, his 5 Point strategies could replace all the 8 Step strategies currently in the Diplomatic self-help section of your local Borders.

Adopting a numerically consistent method to solve issues is fine, in itself. The unavoidable generic and vague types of steps like “…economic and trade cooperation should be expanded” say little, but may help keep the eye on the ball. Yet, it hardly represents a great vision forward. And when you don’t respect those basic generic principles in the first place, it fails to mean anything at all. Going back to Japan, check out Hu’s 5 Points:

First, friendly and co-operative Sino-Japanese relations orientated towards the 21st century should be developed on the basis of the three political documents, namely, the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement, the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship and the Sino-Japanese Joint Declaration.

Second, the issue of history should be taken seriously by adhering to the principle of "taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future." Japan should back up its remorse on wartime aggression with action and deal with historical issues in a serious and prudent manner.

In the first point, China believes that both parties should respect previous agreements (here, here and here) in order to look forward. In the second point, China shucks away the the idea of looking to the future expressed in the first point and starts dwelling on the past. History is a mirror, alright, but only when it concerns Japan, it seems – never China. When China urges Japan to “action” in backing up it’s “remorse”, it means reparations, yet the Joint Communique, one of Hu’s cited agreements, explicity states:

5. The Government of the People's Republic of China declares that in the interest of the friendship between the Chinese and the Japanese peoples, it renounces its demand for war reparation from Japan.

Oh, well. China is more concerned in holding Japan accountable to the People's interpretation of agreements Japan made with the KMT regarding Taiwan than it is about holding itself accountable for it’s own direct agreements made when it was the negiotiating party of China. For it’s own part, Japan has kept the agreements it made to the KMT and honored them with the communists.

With almost all the agreements betweent the two countries, China plays fast and loose with the proclaimed spirit of the negotiations while Japan follows that spirit as closely as possible while maintaining its right of sovereignty. Consider some more of these points alluded to in the agreements cited in Hu’s 5 Points:

from the 1972 communique –

“Neither of the two countries should seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and each is opposed to efforts by any other country or group of countries to establish such hegemony.”

What imperial ambitions have the Japanese expressed or taken action to achieve since 1945? None. Yet, China has gobbled up Tibet, initiated a border war with Vietnam, built up massive military resources geared toward an invasion of Taiwan and poured a million troops into the Korean penninsula to ensure that it was either communist or divided. And it appears that China will be prone to future sable rattling, if not military action, over the Sino-Russo border. It’s obvious that Imperial China, thirsty for land and resources, is alive and well and seeking Asian hegemony.

From the 1998 Declaration:

Both sides express support for the reforms of the United Nations including the reform of the Security Council, in order for the United Nations to further embody the common wish and collective will of all Members in its activities and policy decision making process.
Yet China is vehemently opposed to letting the second largest economy joining that same Security Council. And any reform of the Security Council that might do something about places like Sudan and Iran has been stiff armed by China.

Both sides stress the importance of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons, and oppose the proliferation of nuclear weapons in any form whatsoever, and furthermore, strongly call upon the nations concerned to cease all nuclear testing and nuclear arms race, in order to contribute to the peace and stability of the Asian region and the world.
Well, not quite, when it comes to China. The People’s government is not very concerned with N. Korean nuclear capabilities, unless it will mean nuclear bombs in S. Korea, Japan or [gasp] Taiwan. When or if Japan resorts to attaining nuclear weapons, it will not be because of an imperial quest, but to ensure its defense.

Believe it or not, there was a brief moment in history when China acknowleged Japanese economic benevolence:

The Chinese side expressed its gratitude for the economic cooperation extended by Japan to China. The Japanese side reiterated that it will continue to support China's efforts for the early accession to the WTO.

And as an aside, Japan did keep it’s commitment to China and the latter is currently a WTO nation.

Continuing with the 5 Point Plan:

Third, the Taiwan question should be handled properly.
To China, this means repeated threats of invasion backed by hundreds of missiles pointed at the small islands as well as military simulations of an amphibious assault. To Japan, it means recognizing the one China solution where the two entities (Taiwain and China) can willing and peacefully unite, and in that light, Japan will help defend the island from a mainland invasion until peaceful and mutual reunification can occur.

Fourth, the differences between China and Japan should be dealt with through dialogue and negotiation on equal ground.

Yet, Point 2 denies Japan that equal ground.
Lastly, friendly non-governmental exchanges and co-operation should be further enhanced to strengthen mutual understanding, expand common interests and develop a healthy bilateral relationship.
Which apparently allows China to stoke the anti-Japanese fire so fully that Japanese students in China cannot be guaranteed of personal safety from angry mobs and Japanese businesses (and even businesses perceived to be Japaneses) face the possibility of damage and looting during the all to common anti-Japanese protests.

How does the People’s government stoke those fires? Well, how about the official Chinese claim that Japan is responsible for 38 million deaths in China? No prudent method of estimation could get anywhere close to that number. The actual damage caused by the Japanese occupation is bad, there’s no need to exaggerate it. Yet, the Chinese completely neglect the hardships it inflicted on itself through not only the sixty plus years of civil strife before 1949. To them, one big pile of Chinses bodies is one big pile and it’s better to blame it all on the Japanese than take any responsibility for it. And that’s not to mention the monumental damage caused Mao, himself, since the People’s Party has been in power. To this day China maintains a record of oppression, whether it’s cracking down on democratic movements or just good old fashion religious persecution. When the government’s official position is based on crap information, then it’s not a surprising to see misguided assumptions like the one made in that recent People’s editorial:
The Japanese militarism hurt the Chinese people the most in the modern history.
Especially, if the editorialist has a state provided portrait of Moa glaring down at him. A reasonable man can only concede to that statement under the threat of torture. Otherwise, it is misleading and serves absolutely no purpose in strenthening “mutual understanding, expand common interests…” with Japan.

The editorial relies on misinformation throughout – just as the People’s diplomacy relies on its own insincerity:

The Osaka High Court made a ruling recently that Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni violated Japanese constitution and Koizumi's visit made light of the law.
Not mentioned is that Koizumi made the visit as a private Japanese citizen and not as a public official, which is what the weak kneed Osaka High Court objected to in it’s statement. Perhaps Koizumi might propose ceasing his personal visits to the shrine if the People’s government would agree to putting up a memorial honoring the dead students at Tinnamen Square. On second thought, that would violate “the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity” set forth in the Joint Communique. One would think that same principle of sovereignty would allow Koizumi to go where he pleased on Japanese soil, so long as he wasn’t stirring up Japanese hostility towards China. But no, such action by Koizumi “evokes great indignation in Chinese people..” and presumably threatens the future relations between the two contries. After all, as the editorial points out, the day Koizumi paid tribute at the shrine “was a day when the Chinese people warmly congratulated the successful landing of China's manned Shenzhou VI. So his action is a serious provocation against the entire Chinese people.”

When you’re dealing with such sensitivity, you can’t expect rational negotiations.

Why do the Chinese people, whose feelings were seriously hurt, cannot say no?

The truth is that the Chinese can forever say “no” to Japan. Is Japan obligated to listen? The only time that the Chinese citizen is not allowed to say “no” is when it comes to disagreeing with his own government.

The editorial concludes:
Just think, how does a country, that has no rational knowledge and correct attitude towards its own aggressive history and war crimes, win trust from the world, and the leader of the country goes his own way and ignores human moral principles? If really wanting to win confidence from its Asian neighboring nations and the international community and playing an active role in
international affairs, Japan must take compelling actual actions to show that it "has history as lessons and faces the future''
Japan has shown without a shadow of a doubt that it is a responsible benevolent country. Its textbooks may gloss over its imperialist past, but its actions in the last 60 years indicate that it has learned the lessons of its crimes. China has not. It continues to violate any expression it has made towards creating a peaceful and prosperous region. Perhaps Hu has a 5 Point Plan to fix that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Misunderestimating Bush: take 32,457

What will the giddy columnists and lefty bloggers do if Rove and Libby don't get 22 indictments today? I'm guessing that they will easily deceive themselves into thinking that the two were indicted and found guilty and sentenced to the pokey. After all, the left's powers of self deception are remarkably advanced. Take Dan Simpson. He thinks we're losing in Iraq, that inflation is out of control and that the bird flu has pretty much doomed us all. And he still gets paid for his opinions! If only he was alone in those beliefs. Here he is talking about the perceived motives of a Syrian invasion:

The Bush administration would claim that it is expanding the war in Iraq into Syria to try to bring it to an end, the kind of screwy non-logic that kept us in Vietnam for a decade and cost 58,193 American lives in the end.

Others [Dan Simpson perhaps?] would see the attacks in Syria as a desperation political move on the part of an administration with its back against the wall, with a failed war, an economy plagued by inflation --1.2 percent in September, a 14.4 percent annual rate if it continues -- the weak response to Hurricane Katrina, grand jury and other investigatory attention to senior executive and legislative officials, and the bird flu flapping its wings toward us on the horizon. The idea, I suppose, is to distract us by an attack on Syria, now specifically targeted by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

Of course, such an invasion would never have anything to do with winning the War on Terror. Why, that's just too absurd to even consider. Mr. Simpson even believes that the current state of Iraq is worse for Israel than when Saddam was hiding missile programs and cutting checks to the families of Palestinian self whackers:

Could anyone argue that Israel is made safer by a burning conflict in Iraq that has now attracted Islamic extremist fighters from across the Middle East, Europe and Asia? Saddam Hussein's regime was bad, but this is a good deal worse, and looks endless.

By this description, one might get the idea that Simpson sees the insurrection as made up largely of outsiders trying to destroy the U.S. mission in Iraq. But just wait until he has to crap on the president from another direction - he'll completely ignore that role of outsiders to paint the "insurrection" as a native germ because all Iraqis are against the U.S. Whatever fits the moment.

In regards to our options in Syria, I believe David Ignatius is orbiting a little closer to earth in his column:

An angry Bush administration, meanwhile, was actively exploring a policy of regime change several months ago. Bush was furious at Assad for not controlling the insurgents who are using Syria as a base for their attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, and the president pressed his national security team to explore whether there were good alternatives to Assad.

But the administration pulled back from its regime-change enthusiasm in recent weeks, and officials now speak of the need for "policy" change. A big factor is the new director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, and his analysts at the National Intelligence Council. They have been warning Bush that if Assad is toppled, the result isn't likely to be better in terms of regional stability, and it could well be worse.

I don't know how accurate that is - whether that's what Negroponte is saying or whether he's right if he is saying it. But when it comes to invading Syria, I would put money on Bush mulling over security concerns and not just running cover for other perceived disasters.

Rumsfeld urges openness and democracy in China

Will it make a dent? Probably not, but it's the kind of stuff the Chinese people need to hear. His comments to a group of Chinese students:

"Every society has to be vigilant against another type of great wall that can be a burden on man's talents and is borne from fear of them -- a wall that limits speech, information or choices..."

"While there is no model that is perfect for every nation at every time in its development, a look across the globe suggests that societies that tend to encourage more open markets and freer systems are societies where people are enjoying the greatest opportunities..."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

If Ronnie Earle is on a mission from God

you'd think God might help him provide some evidence. Unless the mission is for Earle to make an ass of himself.

Steyn on Smurfistan

I hadn't seen the Unicef video, but I'm surprised that they apparently omitted the Smurf rape rooms and the mass graves and beheading videos. From Steyn:
Good luck to Unicef and all. But I can't help thinking that, if you are that concerned for children in war zones, you might have done something closer to what real conflict is like in those places. In Rwanda, Sudan and a big chunk of west Africa, air strikes are few and far between. Instead,
millions get hacked to death by machetes. Even on the very borders of Eutopia, hundreds of thousands died in the Balkans in mostly low-tech, non-state-of-the-art ways.

In 2003, Charles Onyango-Obbo wrote a fascinating column in the East African musing on the resurgence of cannibalism, after reports that Ugandan-backed rebels in the Congo were making surviving members of their victims' families eat the body parts of their loved ones.

"While colonialism is bad," he said, "the coloniser who arrives by plane, vehicle or ship is better - because he will have to build an airport, road or harbour - than the one who, like the Ugandan army, arrived and withdrew from most of eastern Congo on foot." Just so. If you're going to be attacked, it's best to be attacked by a relatively advanced enemy. Compared to being force-fed Grandfather Smurf's genitals, having his village strafed in some clinical air strike is about the least worst option for Baby Smurf.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The non-issue that won't go away

It is the "sensitive" year according to Hu Jintao, so Koizumi shouldn't be so darned insenstive. Actually, this issue can be easily remedied. All Hu has to do is order Google and Yahoo to filter out any mention of Koizumi's visit to the shrine and the Chinese can pretend like it never happened.

Meanwhile, the Japanese face certain threats that they shouldn't ignore. And they are not.

Mugabe criticizes Bush & Blair and is applauded...

the picture at the top of the story says it all. Out of curiosity, I'd like to know who applauded - something that wasn't specified in the story.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Postal reforms are passed in the lower house

and, in continuing the topic of Japan, TCS had an article about Asian economic prospects.

"I believe this is the last statement I can make."

and so it was for Ghazi Kenaan, who whacked himself after a radio interview.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

the battle for smurf village

Gargamel is almost positive that papa smurf sought yellowcake from niger. and why else would smurfs need those aluminum tubes?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Schroeder concedes

He held on like a Democrat.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Great speech today

Bush pegs the war & puts forth a sturdy argument to pursue it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The party of the first part will hereby remain the party of the first part

Polls tend to be screwy, but according this one, it won't matter much anyway. Will the self-whackers be fairly represented? Will the Sunnis sympathize with the head hackers?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Steyn looks at Bali and terrorists in general

"....nobody seriously thinks what happened in Bali has anything to do with Iraq. There are, in the end, no root causes, or anyway not ones that can be negotiated by troop withdrawals or a Palestinian state. There is only a metastasising cancer that preys on whatever local conditions are to hand. Five days before the slaughter in Bali, nine Islamists were arrested in Paris for reportedly plotting to attack the Metro. Must be all those French troops in Iraq, right? So much for the sterling efforts of President Jacques Chirac and his Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, as the two chief obstructionists of Bush-Blair-Howard neo-con-Zionist warmongering these past three years."

Election Move Seems to Ensure Iraqis' Charter

interesting. i glad we don't have this rule in our democracy.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Shining trailer

I thought there would be more discussion about last week’s Bob Dylan documentary on PBS….

but I was mistaken.

John Derbyshire had a typical piece – mainly about where he was when he first discovered Dylan. While a testament to the artist, it had little to do with Scorcese’s film. Bulldog at Ankle Biting Pundits, apparently not a Dylan fan, asked his readers to explain why Dylan was such a big deal. Sadly, the readers weren’t much help. In fact, few even came to his defense - and of those few, nobody praised Dylan’s singing ability. That’s a pity, since, by my seemingly singular estimation, he’s the best singer out there.

David Yaffe at Slate had an actual review, though he seemed to take exception that Dylan’s new documentary came “complete with a Starbucks tie-in, an Apple logo”. Such is life, Yaffe, such is life. He also faulted it for not mentioning drugs. Neither gripe warrants much attention. Dylan was an opportunist at 19 and he still is at 64. Like all rock stars. And drugs? Such an omission in No Direction Home is very minor, especially when you can just look at the young Dylan and tell the score. Yaffe seemed to notice this:

…to the bleary-eyed near rock 'n' roll suicide of '66. We witness him singing "I'm not weary" in a '66 performance of "Mr. Tambourine Man," but he looks weary as hell. Has any 25-year-old ever been so jaded?

Yaffe makes other good observations, but treats Dylan’s control over the project as he would some politician engaged in a cover up:

But before you get too excited about this crossroads meeting [Dylan/Scorcese], viewer, beware: This project was co-produced by Dylan's manager Jeff Rosen. Scorsese was brought in well after Rosen had already conducted the interviews and approved the material. What will all these assholes be saying about Dylan? In this "Martin Scorsese Picture," whatever the Dylan people want.

Mickey Kaus had the most thoughtful take on Dylan:

The excellent PBS Dylan documentary last night convinced me he was neither the voice of his generation nor all that influential--more of a sui generis artist. If he hadn't done what he did nobody else would have. Chuck Berry, on the other hand, was influential--he diverted a mighty river of popular music. But if Chuck Berry hadn't done what he did arguably somebody else would have, soon enough.

I thought No Direction Home was excellent as well, perhaps the best thing Scorcese has done since his Personal Journey through American movies. What impressed me most, though, was that it showed a consistency to his character – something that the litany of Dylan biographies have yet been able to do. Much credit for that should go to the new interviews with Dylan (from about 10 hours of material! Bootleg, please!). Granted, he doesn’t say much, specifically, yet generalities allow him to be more candid than otherwise possible. He was even downright talkative. The sum total of the other interviews contributed to this consistancy.

Scorcese constantly cuts forward to Dylan’s ’66 tour – seemingly to draw a stark contrast to his chronological counterpart in the narrative, but those contrasts are drawn ever closer in the narrative.


Dylan’s a young lad way up north in Hibbing, MN. Small town life interrupted by terrible freezes. According to Dylan: “It was so cold, you couldn't be bad." I remember the Minneapolis weatherman describing it as “pipe-busting batter-drenching” cold – so cold that it couldn’t snow. And so it was. Scorcese manages to show Hibbing as a small vibrant community. A place with a main street and parades – the circus and sideshow barkers. But those barkers weren’t the only links to the rest of the country. AM radio was another. There’s a nice sequence between young boy Dylan listening to the radio and a shot of the thin Minnesota night sky, receiving those remote signals – Hibbing was an outpost.

Dylan doesn’t seem to mind parting with his home, or his family. He’s remarkably cold when it comes to that stuff. By all accounts, he’s a cocksure young buck soaking up influences like a super-duper-kwicker-picker-upper. He describes himself as a “musical expeditionary”. He is.

He rolls into the village of freaks, and out freaks them all with his Huck Finn demeanor! No one ever thought to ask him about his okie accent. Meanwhile, he’s soaking. And singing. And soaking. He taps into the protest scene, makes the best protest songs they ever heard, and walks away.


Part two goes through the transition pretty well up through the Newport ’65 show. Although attention is paid to the Highway 61 sessions, there is no mention of the Blonde on Blonde sessions, which could have been a natural counterweight to the chaotic tour. The documentary breaks down and ends abruptly. Instead of the motorcycle accident as an ending (as forshadowed) we end during the ’66 tour and a few titles mentioning the accident. And curiously no mention of his wife! Yet part two is half an hour shorter. Dylan’s people could have reconsidered.

Nevertheless, this is fine documentary. The live performances are great and Scorcese ties all the material into a gripping story. It would be a real shame if No Direction Home isn’t followed up with two other installments covering the remainder of his career.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

the $100 laptop

this is a great idea in the interest of bettering our world. here is the actual site. check out the cool illustrations.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

Icing on the cake

or in Japan I guess it would be a sweet bean roll. The LDP victory has influenced the DPJ party in ways positive for the U.S.:

"For much of the past two years, Koizumi's DPJ critics have squealed about Iraq and questioned his buddy-buddy rapport with President Bush. In its recent election manifesto, the DPJ pledged to withdraw Japanese troops from Iraq by Christmas. Meanwhile, party leader Katsuya Okada signaled his opposition to America's Futenma Air Base being stationed in Okinawa.

Immediately after the Koizumi landslide, Okada resigned as DPJ boss. His replacement, Seiji Maehara, 43, is a well-known security expert and longtime favorite of U.S. Japan hands such as Richard Armitage. The new DPJ chief favors a more robust Japanese military posture overseas. To that end, he has repeatedly suggested tinkering with Article 9 of the constitution--which renounces war--to afford Japan the right of collective self-defense. Tsuneo Watanabe, an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, reports from Tokyo that Maehara is 'a very strong supporter of the U.S.-Japan alliance.'"

Stay on target!

This was the feel good piece (for me, anyway) that I read yesterday. During a time when conservatives are getting antsy about spending money in the wake of Katrina - this piece is a refreshing glass of cold water thrown in the face, a few slaps and a "pull yourself together man!"

I also like the Redstate article Thomas Lifson linked to, which is a spirited defense of deficit spending. Borrowing and spending until the sun burns out may be overstating the case, but he provides plenty of food for thought. Personally, I never understood the argument that China has us at a disadvantage because they're loaning us money. It sounds like a win-win to me. They get a better return, we get to use the money. And if that money goes to fight the good fight, well, at least the Chinese are being supportive in some sense. Perhaps someday the national debt will become unmanageable - but Nick Danger doesn't think it will happen.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Huffington Toast has the skinny on Bush's bathroom note

E.U. buckles?

The next round of last chances won’t begin anytime soon. The E.U. sees staunch Chinese opposition that won’t be swayed, but believes that Russia, who currently is against referring the issue to the Security Council, might climb aboard soon. If that was the gist of it, that would be one thing, but what has the E.U. done to indicate they have any desire to take this issue to the next level? Here’s a telling statement:

"In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the U.S. and European initiative to refer Tehran to the Security Council as counterproductive, saying it 'will not contribute to the search for a solution to the Iranian problem through political and diplomatic means.'"

In other words – the search for the solution hasn’t even begun - merely the search for the search of a solution (I may have skipped a few ‘searches’).

Not that the 6 party talks are progressing any better. I was skeptical about the recent statement about a deal with N. Korea, but held out some hope that it might produce something. However, when Fred Kaplan thought it was good, I knew it was completely hopeless. Sure enough, within 24 hours, N. Korea went into schizo girlfriend mode, making ridiculous demands and unhelpful accusations. And what’s with Ted Turner’s looniness?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

If I had any say at the NYTimes

I know the first job I would cut. In fact, I would suggest that the paper get rid of the entire fiction division. I’d also push to have the paper change to a quilted two-ply. This wouldn’t reduce the operating costs, but it would reduce irritation to my rectum.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Redstate ponders the circumstances around the British jail break

Kidnapped, beaten, drugged and coerced

those aren't the claims of a contract worker helping to rebuild Iraq, but that of a suicide bomber. And based on this Fox report, similar claims are becoming more frequent. What's Zaqawi's dwindling supply of virgins looking like these days? Or has he switched to a barrel of monkeys?

No doubt Jay will want to go to the barricades over this

via Roger Simon.

ugly from every which way you look at it

Army storms jail to free seized soldiers

Monday, September 19, 2005

Another ex-CEO goes to the slammer

Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski faces 8 1/2 to 25 years.

Message: I Care About the Black Folks

this is one of the best ones i've read. i like the last paragraph:

"What comes next? Having turned the page on Mr. Bush, the country hungers for a vision that is something other than either liberal boilerplate or Rovian stagecraft. At this point, merely plain old competence, integrity and heart might do."

Reuters Explains Photo Of Bush Bathroom Note

interesting background of the highly circulated bush bathroom note.

The score might have to be ammended

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pejman ponders Biden's recent opinion piece

here's Biden's piece.

Scorecard: Bush 7, Axis of Weasels 1

via Instapundit.

And lest we forget the democracy that's still chugging in Afghanistan. Check out the Afghan ladies exercising their voting rights.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Another big election this weekend...

This time in Germany. I'm rooting for Angie Merkel, though I can't say I've been following this one very closely. Schroeder has narrowed the gap in the past couple of weeks, but it's not looking like it'll be enough.

UPDATE: And it wasn't.

Department of Homeland What?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hurricane expert Bacharach criticizes Bush

One [more] last chance

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei called yesterday for Iran to be given a final chance to address IAEA concerns.

"Everything points in the direction of a need for more time. So it would be in everybody's favor to give it some three or four weeks," a senior diplomat close to the IAEA told Reuters news agency on the condition of anonymity.

If Iran fails to take advantage of this last chance, then, presumably the issue will go to the National Security council where several dozen more last chances will be issued.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

It must be the mercury tainted salmon.

Tom Plate on Koizumi

Here’s a hit and miss piece about Japan’s remarkable prime minister. I believe that some of Koizumi’s support in the election came from his foreign policy stance, though as Plate says, it was not the center of debate. I don’t believe this article credits Koizumi for what he’s done in that arena.

"But now, like Bill Clinton in his second term, Koizumi needs to turn to foreign affairs and work some magic there. At least he needs to make a better effort.

"Getting along with one's neighbors is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Without seeming to kowtow to China, this brilliant politician must work more closely with China on key bilateral and regional issues, including North Korea and Taiwan."

I suppose Plate doesn’t consider Taiwan a neighbor. Through Koizumi, Japan has taken unprecedented steps to tighten ties with this democratic island. He’s also done so with the democratic Australia. See a pattern? That’s not to say that he’s ignored China. Economic ties are increasing each year. But part of having a good relationship requires some movement from the other side.

"China is not always right in its disagreements with Japan, nor is South Korea. "

Try hardly ever. Even S. Korea has been acting immature when it comes to hot button issues with Japan.

"Getting along with one's neighbors is not a sign of weakness but of strength."

Knowing when someone is trying to use and abuse you is also important – as is standing your ground. Biting your lower lip, Clinton style, does not work on the People’s Party, which is why Clinton’s dealing with the Chinese counts as one of the lower points of his foreign policy.

"While Koizumi has demonstrated that he is a masterful domestic politician, history's judgment is still to be rendered on his performance as a world statesman."

The dye has already been cast and Koizumi will no doubt be seen positively as a major foreign policy leader. Mr. Plate should see that.

Krugman's column will no longer be free online

However, the Krugman Truth Squad will still be available.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Whale curry served at lunch in Japanese junior high - for the first time in 38 years

Curious. Lady T____ used to eat whale meat quite often when she was in school in Tokyo – though I’m not sure what kind it was. During my last trip there I had the chance to eat whale sashimi. It has little taste but was rich, if that makes any sense. I found out that it was best eaten raw (as with seafood in general). I’m not the only one who thinks this way. As Stubb instructed the Pequod’s cook, Fleece, in Moby Dick after the latter served him a whale steak:

“Well then, cook; you see this whale-steak of yours was so very bad, that I have put it out of sight as soon as possible; you see that, don't you? Well, for the future, when you cook another whale- steak for my private table here, the capstan, I'll tell you what to do so as not to spoil it by overdoing. Hold the steak in one hand, and show a live coal to it with the other; that done, dish it; d'ye hear?”

He went on to order more delicacies:

“And now to-morrow, cook, when we are cutting in the fish, be sure you stand by to get the tips of his fins; have them put in pickle. As for the ends of the flukes, have them soused, cook. There, now ye may go."

But Fleece had hardly got three paces off, when he was recalled.

"Cook, give me cutlets for supper to- morrow night in the mid-watch. D'ye hear? away you sail, then. - Halloa! stop! make a bow before you go. - Avast heaving again! Whale-balls for breakfast - don't forget."

Whale balls, eh? I wonder what they would call those at Cattleman's....Leviathan fries.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Massive 9/11 roundup on Winds of Change

via Instapundit. Hugh Hewitt had a good memorial post, which started by featuring heroes from the war.

Japanese Election update: Big Win for Koizumi and LDP

Koizumi’s LDP gets an outright majority in the Lower House. The party needed 269 and it looks like it got 296 – better than expected. It’s the first time the LDP has had a outright majority in 15 years. The party will try to urge Koizumi to stay in office for a year after his planned resignation in September of ’06, though he says he won’t.

Katsuya Okada, the head of the LDP’s main opposition party, the DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan), will step down from his position after failing to win a majority. Incidentally, Okada had vowed to bring troops home from Iraq if his party gained a majority.

About half of the LDP dissidents look like they'll survive.

The Nikkei site has some different numbers than Kyodo, but those numbers are displayed in a nice table showing the primary coalitions. What's a little odd is that in a country where you'd be hard pressed to find many people who would profess an interest in politics, the voter turnout is expected to have been up around 67%.

UPDATE: The blogosphere slowly awakes. Roger Simon, who return from Japan last week (and had some good photos here and elsewhere) says that Koizumi looked like a winner last week.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A couple of remarks

When I switched templates, I wasn't thinking and all the comments disappeared. I apologize for this error.

Also, I've had little inclination to post on Katrina. Nothing I would have to say hasn't already been said by others at least a dozen times. After tempers wind down and the rescue efforts fade away, I might change my mind and post on it. Of course, that shouldn't stop anyone else from doing so.

Things are getting cooler in Bagdhad according to this fellow.

Even though people continue to get killed, the numbers have fallen off
noticeably. The number of car-bomb explosions has dropped very sharply in the
past 30 days or so. The factors responsible for this good news are something of
a mystery. The passage of a Constitution gets some of the credit. If that is
true, then the details of how it came about are so arcane as to be

Something else that gets credit is the Iraqi Army. There truly are signs
that this army is starting to have some impact on events here. The terrorists
can't simply walk up to a checkpoint, kill everyone in sight, and not take a
very strong risk that they might all be killed in return.

What continues to be whispered, and what I have reported here once or
twice, is the claim that the Iraqi Army is killing hundreds of the terrorists
whom they do arrest. No trials. No niceties. Just a quick shot in the head. I
can neither confirm nor refute this persistent report. But, I hear it so often
that I do tend to believe something along those lines is happening. The victims
of the Army killings (if they are happening) are the former Saddam loyalists who
form the core of the terrorist groups.

It's noteworthy that absolutely no one is bothered by this evidence of an
army that is perhaps running amok.

He seems to have a little different take than he did last month.

Cross your fingers!

In addition to being a day of remembrance, this Sunday is also notable because of the elections in Japan. I know what you’re thinking…since George Bush has taken office, it seems that you can’t sling a dead cat without hitting a significant election, some in places where such events are a true precedent. Of course, Japan has had free and fair elections for many decades – as it is a shining example of U.S. nation building. This particular election is significant for two main reasons. The election, itself, is billed primarily as a referendum on Koizumi’s reform agenda – and specifically his privatization plan for the Japanese postal system. It is also important to the U.S. because Koizumi's fate is tied directly to the election and he has been a strong ally in Iraq as well as with our defense posture in Asia.

On the domestic front, Koizumi has done much to push tough reforms through that have added to the long-term economic health of Japan. The more radical parties would say that he hasn’t gone far enough and that as an LDP member he's still subject to special interests, etc. However, considering the resistance to reform that Koizumi faced when coming into power, his performance has been impressive – most visibly with Japan’s banking system. Indeed, he’s met resistance every step of the way. Now he’s pushing his postal reform bill, which has been a keystone of his reform agenda. This bill seeks to privatize – more or less – an institution that is, in addition to a postal service, the largest financial institution in the world as well as an insurance company. The effects of his proposed reform, so far as I understand it, will reap little short-term benefits but will lay groundwork for future growth. When the lower house of the diet defeated the bill with the aid of 30+ LDP defectors, Koizumi quickly dissolved the parliament and set the upcoming elections. At that time it looked like he had a steep uphill battle, with victory unlikely. If he loses, he will have to resign and his reform agenda will be severely crippled, if not completely abandoned. If he wins, he will remain until the end of his term in 2006 and should be able to push the postal reform through. The boldness he displayed is rare in Japanese politics and has created a level political excitement in a country that is not very politically exciting.

On a party level, the LDP is something else. It’s managed to be the dominant party for over half a century. And it hasn’t done so in the same ways that Mubarak in Egypt has done or the People’s Party in China has done. Opposition parties have been free to campaign and try to win the people’s support. The past decade has seen some erosion of LDP support, but thanks largely to Koizumi, they are expecting a reversal in this trend. And this support seems to be coming from younger people and coming in urban areas – again, showing a reversal to recent trends.

From an American perspective – long term Japanese growth is certainly important for a variety of reasons. A prosperous Japan is good for trade, but it’s also good for a healthy diplomatic landscape in Asia. As mentioned before, it’s important for us that Japan emerge from its pacifist period and become an increasing participant in the War on Terror.

While foreign policy doesn’t seem to be a main deciding factor in the upcoming election (except, perhaps, in regards to the issue of kidnapped Japanese in N. Korea), foreign policy will be affected. Koizumi has led the way in an important transition. He’s sent troops to Iraq – to his own political detriment, he’s reinterpreted the idea of Japan’s national defense and solidified support for the defense of Taiwan, he’s also strengthened ties with Australia, and he has had our back with the 6 party talks. These stances would each suffer a blow if Koizumi finds himself on the way out next week. Inevitably, Japan’s prosperity and survival will rely on these shifts. A Koizumi defeat will make the transition that much more difficult and painful.

For an American, regardless of whether you think Bush is a unilateral knucklehead or a spreader of freedom, you would be hard pressed to justify rooting against Koizumi – unless you are also rooting for a U.S. defeat in Iraq and elsewhere. After all, isn’t it the tagline of Bush haters that we don’t have enough allies? And isn’t Japan one of our main allies? Likewise, our N. Korean strategy (and yes, there is one) would also be compromised and our leverage in dealing with China weakened without a fast friend like Koizumi. In short, no good can come of a Koizumi defeat.

The U.S. has been lucky thus far. The political leaders that make up the Coalition of the Willing have fared well in elections. While we lost Aznar in Spain, Blair and Howard both won. It seems likely that Schroeder will be out and Chirac seems to be weakening (granted, not because of Iraq so much as the domestic issues). A Koizumi victory would continue that trend. The world needs more courageous political leaders like him. Cross your fingers!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My mistake

I'd mentioned previously that Arthur Chenkroff was not doing the Good News series anymore - but that was incorrect. He's still doing them.

Pretty funny stuff

The LA Times is complaining that the Cookie Duster threw in some last minute amendments to reforms that are supposed to be voted on in September - and it might derail the process. I will assume that the paper is speaking for Democrats who filibustered him for months. As for the substance of the amendments - the LA Times is funny there as well.

Monday, August 29, 2005

How to Win in Iraq

here is a well-written piece that is similar to ashley wilkes' article (before it's too late in iraq) in that it cites the bush administration's incompetence in dealing with iraq. the opening paragraph:

"Despite the Bush administration's repeated declarations of its commitment to success in Iraq, the results of current policy there are not encouraging. After two years, Washington has made little progress in defeating the insurgency or providing security for Iraqis, even as it has overextended the U.S. Army and eroded support for the war among the American public. Although withdrawing now would be a mistake, simply 'staying the course,' by all current indications, will not improve matters either. Winning in Iraq will require a new approach."


"As President George W. Bush has stated, 'Our strategy can be summed up this way: as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.' But the president is describing a withdrawal plan rather than a strategy."

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A day late and a dollar short

So does this mean the war is not over yet? Pretty much any valuable advice Ashley Wilkes has to offer in the post below is stuff that is already being done as part of the plan that, believe it or not, has existed and evolved since the occupation began – even during that “wasted first year”. You have to be blind or devoted to the NYTimes front page not to see a buzz of activity in Iraq that incorporates everything that the retired General is clamoring for. The strategy in place is operating on his three prongs and then some. His refusal acknowlege those efforts makes it virtually impossible to take him seriously. Setbacks? Yes, here and there and all over. No plan? Preposterous. I would suggest that anyone who sees Iraq as a downward spiral skim through just the last Chenkroff Good News in Iraq post (it’s a shame that Chenkroff is no longer doing these long posts – but that doesn’t mean the positive news has stopped). You'll notice winning hearts and minds and infrastructure repair and foreign commitments, et al. No doubt about it: Iraqis are steadily building a new and prosperous country.

And what’s with this line:
On the political side, the timeline[s] for the agreements on the Constitution are less important than the substance. It is up to American leadership to help engineer a compromise that will avoid the "red lines" of the respective factions and leave in place a state that both we and the neighbors can support. So, no Kurdish vote on independence; a restricted role for Islam, and limited autonomy in the south. And no private militias.
Is he not aware that the deadlines are postponed as we speak (though they are still relevent) while the three factions hammer out support and substance for the constitution? I don’t understand how Wilkes breezily makes the transition from we’re-moving-too- slow to timelines-are-less-important-than-substance. But regardless, the constitution appears to have many positives, including a prohibition of militias and and quotas for women in the Council of Deputies & much more that will hopefully stay in tact through presenting the draft and getting it ratified. Again, Wilkes seems unaware that most of what he’s calling for is in the process of happening or has already happened. Good thing that the Iraqis are taking the constitution more seriously than the retired general.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Before It's Too Late in Iraq

a must-read article from retired general wesley clark

Reenlistment well over forecast - again

What does Frank Rich think this means?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A very good, though very long, piece by Lee Harris

Take 2 on the Intelligent Design/Evolution debate.

A comedian with nards?

from the Washington Times:
NORWAY Gunmen target Muslim comic
OSLO -- Unknown assailants yesterday fired shots at an Oslo restaurant owned by the family of a Pakistani-born female comedian who has achieved prominence for lampooning conservative Islam.
Shabana Rehman, 28, whose sister owns the restaurant, called the incident "an appalling act of terror" and said it would not deter her from continuing her work. Miss Rehman has made a career of joking about the cultural divide between Norway's 4.5 million people and its 76,000-strong Muslim community.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Monday, August 22, 2005

ACLU: Effort to Marginalize Indians Succeeding

slightly old

Michael Barone discusses the changing attitudes in the Middle East

His summation:
Two generations ago, Americans, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of
deaths, changed minds in Germany and Japan. The Pew Global Project Attitude's
metrics give us reason to believe that today's Americans, at far lower cost, are
changing minds in the Muslim world.

Captain Ed is the go to place for details on Able Danger

he's been posting pretty heavily on it. Keep scrolling.

Sounds like the Israeli settlers borrowed from the Palestinian playbook

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

As Sharon is leading Israel through an extremely difficult period

and proving himself to be a tough, far thinking leader - the U.N. is funding Palestinian propoganda.

Earlier today, I decided to take the two tests

that Mat linked to and wondered at the criteria he used to prefer those to mine. I realize the bias in my test as well as the bias on the other two test. However, I noticed that of the two tests, there were 5 questions out of the 20 multiple choice that did not offer a correct answer at all, regardless of your political slant (#1 & #5 on Test One, and #1, #2, #5 on Test Two).

Consider this example:

1. The anti-war movement supports our troops by urging that they be brought home immediately so they neither kill nor get killed in a unjust war. How has the Bush administration shown its support for our troops?
a. The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee voted to
cut $25 billion in veterans benefits over the next 10 years.

b. The Bush administration proposed cutting $172 million from
impact aid programs which provide school funding for children of military

c. The administration ordered the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to
stop publicizing health benefits available to veterans.

d. All of the above.

The question asks what the Bush Administration has done to show support for the troops, but then only offers choices that make Bush look bad. What’s more, "d" says "all of the above," instead of none of the above. Perhaps the test writers actually believe that the Bush Administration actions they cited do support the troops? To make this a legitimate question, a "none of the above" option should be included or an actual example of how Bush supports the troops should be added. There are plenty of examples the test writers could have offered – most soldiers know these, the test writers should, too. If the test writers were graded on answerable multiple choice questions provided, they would have a combined average of 75%.

Then there are several questions that were too steeped in subjectivity and chaff to have any adequate answer. The worst examples were #4, #9, #10 from Test One and #4, #10 from Test Two. For example, #4 asked what the al Qaeda threat today is and then offered 3 quotes saying its worse, with a fourth option of “all of the above.” Simple quotes are not facts, and in this case, the quotes did not provide any sort legitimate choice to answer the question. The question could have asked, which of the following are quotes from such-n-such critics of the war. Any college professor that’s not far to the left (I know I’ve narrowed the field quite a bit) would throw these questions out, bringing the test writers average down to 50%. If one were to grade the answer key, the score would be considerably lower.

Some of the questions confused me. Test One Question #7, which mentions that there was not mass slaughter in the Iraq war as in Dresden and Hiroshima, lists some troubling (but unprecendentally light as wars go) examples of Iraqi suffering (which I can’t vouch one way or the other for – accuracy-wise.). What was the purpose of the question? Surely the test writers do not believe that we fought a relatively delicate war that sought to avoid civilian bloodshed? I mean, I believe that, but I have hard time thinking they do.

Test One Question #9 did not stand the test of time too well. I’m sure the line of conspiracy theory has been redrawn a few times since then. Test Two Question #3 has “d” as the correct answer, but option "a" is incorrect. And there seemed to be plenty of that throughout both tests.

I could be wrong (and let me know if you think so), but after going back over the format of my test, I concluded that while admittingly projecting a hawkish view, at least all the questions had correct answers. It’s a shame that the other tests did not – especially since it seems apparent that those fellows spent a great deal more time writing their tests than I did mine.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

i like this quiz better

and here's another.

Take the War on Terror Quiz

For those struggling with the answers, they will be posted in the comments section.

Identify the party most likely to share the sentiment of each statement:

1) No WMDs were found in Iraq, therefore Iraqi WMDs do not exist.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
2) Invading Iraq was a diversion from the Global War on Terror; the London bombing was a result of the Iraqi invasion.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
3) America cannot endure a long and bloody conflict.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
4) America must not endure a long and bloody conflict
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
5) The Iraqi war was a war of choice.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
6) A free and democratic Iraq will promote liberty to the rest of the region.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
7) America can and will be successful in creating a representative government in Iraq with a prosperous economy.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
8) The abuses uncovered at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo have destroyed the US “moral authority” to wage a war on terror. (choose 2)
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
9) If taken prisoner, a warrior should falsely allege abuse.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
10) God’s language is Arabic and our Holy Book expresses His exact words.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
11) God’s voice is beyond human understanding and our Holy Book is a translation so that humans can understand Him despite their own limitations.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
12) God has no place in the town square.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
13) There are instances of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, therefore the war is unjust. (choose 2)
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
14) There is no difference between Saddam’s regime and Bush’s regime. (choose 2)
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
15) If an enemy combatant does not wear a uniform, is not affiliated with a state military, deliberately targets civilians and murders hostages, he is still entitled to POW status should he be captured. (choose 2)
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
16) Mother Sheehan’s authority to criticize the war is absolute, and those critical of her are part of a smear campaign.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
17) Iraq is the central front in the War on Terror. (choose 2)
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
18) Israel has the right to exist and we support that right.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
19) Saddam had no ties to al Qaeda.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
20) If the U.S. retreats from the Middle East and withholds support for Israel, terrorism will go away.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
21) If the war effort is not perfect, then it is an absolute failure.
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists
22) The U.S. should immediately pull its troops out of Iraq. (choose 2)
a. the Right
b. the Left
c. Islamofascists

Monday, August 15, 2005

This looks like it’s going to be difficult.

Here’s praying for a smooth pullout. Will the international community remember this Israeli sacrifice?

Dean wants to be first in line to paint the Iraqi constitution as a failure

His answer back in 2004 was to turn everything over to the U.N., because they would presumably protect women’s rights. Funny how he thought (and may still think) that there was a reservoir of international troops ready to go in once we said pretty please with sugar on top. It’s telling that the party that sees no future sees every bit of news, good or bad, as total defeat.

How’s the government supposed to provide aid to the Palestinians if Mother Sheehan won’t pay her taxes?

Friday, August 12, 2005

The 9/11 Commission omission does the following:

1) Reaffirms the need to tear down the intelligence wall (one of the main reasons to support the Patriot act). In fact, this story points to the possibility that the intelligence wall may have been directly responsible for keeping us from stopping the attacks.
2) Reaffirms my point that the 9/11 Commission is a bipartisan committee that negotiated a report based on facts they could agree on. That the commission would neglect evidence because it did not fit its pre-conceived conclusions makes clear just how unserious the commissioners were in approaching their job. The report may have been interesting because it compiled a timeline, but it was little more than that.
3) It makes me wonder anew what was in Sandy Bergler’s pants.

I say we need to have a commission to look into the commission to find out what they knew and when they knew it. And perhaps another commission to look at the general state of commissions. Why not create a new cabinet post – The Secretary of Commission Overviews, who will answer directly to the President. In turn, the President will answer directly to this secretary. Of course, there will be an independent council to oversee both.