Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Boston bombings: America's bad press
There's been a good deal of hand-wringing and casting of insults over the lack of knowledge that Americans exhibit on the Chechnya. Well, "we" at Unforeseen Contingencies would like to take this opportunity to defend our fellow Americans. No, not the imbeciles who confused the Czech Republic with Chechnya, there's no excusing that idiocy, but if people aren't very familiar with Chechnya, I can hardly blame them. Following the MSM (mainstream media) would not have helped. The MSM currently seems utterly confused by the Chechen connection.
On Philadelphia Public Radio (WHYY) on April 19 the Marty Moss-Coane Show* carried an interview with Chechnya "expert" Emma Gilligan of University of Connecticut. She was supposed to talk about the history of Chechnya and the conflict with Russia, to help explain how this fits in with current events. I was quite interested, expecting to hear about the origins of the conflict in the 1700's and the long tumultuous history that followed. Instead we were treated to a brief bit about how it all began with Boris Yeltsin. Then Gilligan expressed surprise that Chechens would be involved in an attack outside Russia, since they are really only concerned with Chechnyan independence.
Good grief. If that's what 'experts" think, no wonder the MSM is lost. I would think anyone who lived in Russia for a spell would know better than this. I am certainly no expert, but I've followed Kavkaz Center (KC) for some time. KC articles regularly refer to an alleged international conspiracy of nation-states warring to destroy Islam, an alliance of the United States, Russia, Israel, and India. Leaders interviewed in KC see themselves as part of the Caucasian Emirate (sometimes the Northern Emirate) and the front line in the ongoing battle to establish a world caliphate. But you don't have to read KC to know that Chechens have regularly fought in the war of radical Islam against the rest of the world, including in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.
But following the MSM won't help much. One would have to read the foreign press for that. Of course, until recently, most Americans didn't have much need to know about Chechnya. But now that it's of interest and possible importance, the MSM -- which should know what the hell is going on -- seems lost. Why? At one point I didn't believe this, but I think it's obvious now that the MSM frequently sees its role as one of advocacy first, news as an afterthought, and is often poorly equipped to do news and serious analysis.
This morning I read in Haaretz that the Tsarnaevs are being investigated for possible involvement in a 2011 triple murder. This story appeared in the U.K. press two days ago. So far as I can tell, NPR, NYT, and WaPo are still oblivious, although Fox had it yesterday and CNN seems to have just picked this up. I would think that this is worth noting, even if the investigation proves a dead end. But the "most serious" "news" outlets have been asleep at the switch. Perhaps WaPo just has been too busy explaining why it is utterly irrelevant that the Tsarnaevs were Muslims and that Islam doesn't have any unique problem with extremist maniacs, while NYT has its hands full trying to explain the rejection of Obama's plans for gun control: he's just too kind and gentle, it seems.
That's why "we" at Unforeseen Contingencies maintain links to the foreign press from around the world. They cover more than "all the news that fits." It still might not be enough to really know what's going on in the world, but at least one will have a better chance than those who stay in the NYT/NPR/MSM echo chamber do.**
* Incidentally, I don't mean to criticize Marty Moss-Coane here. Her show is is one of the most thoughtful I've heard and her guests tend to be extremely interesting. BTW, I'm unsure of the link I've provided here, because the URL references "Orphan Master," a different interview on North Korea...one that is well worth hearing.
** I nearly forgot to mention: BBC is reporting that Chinese military sources say North Korea is preparing another nuclear weapon test. Not "fit to print," I guess.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
The Spirit of Liberty: Mike Vanderboegh in Hartford Connecticut
He asks that this be spread far and wide, so have at!
My name is Mike Vanderboegh and I'm a smuggler. I am from the great free state of Alabama and I am a Three Percenter.
If you need to pigeonhole my politics I consider myself a Christian libertarian. I believe in free men, free markets, the rule of law under the Founder's Republic and that the Constitution extends to everyone regardless of race, creed, color or religion.
I most especially believe in the right of the people to keep and bear arms as the ultimate guarantor of liberty.
I have also been called a "seditionist" by members of the current regime. If faithfully fulfilling my oath to the Founders' Republic and unrelenting hostility to those who would undermine and overthrow it makes me a "seditionist" then I cheerfully plead guilty.
The Three Percent movement I founded has been denounced by that paragon of moral virtue Bill Clinton and I am a perennial "honorable mention" on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of dangerous folks. I have even been the subject of an eighteen and a half minute rant by Rachel Madcow on MSNBC and the current Attorney General of the United States knows -- and despises -- me by name because of the Fast and Furious scandal that, with my friend David Codrea, I broke the news of on the Internet. Eric Holder would not be surprised to know that the feeling is mutual.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence calls me an "insurrectionist" because I don't believe, as they do, in a government monopoly of violence, but rather in a literal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment as a bulwark against tyranny. Well, as my friend Kurt Hofmann says, "It is better to be despised by the despicable than admired by the admirable" and I suppose my remarks here today will only reinforce my enemies' opinions of me. I think I can bear the burden.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, but also of the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in 1943 and that of the Branch Davidians at Waco fifty years later to the day -- two examples of what happens when governments exercise a monopoly of violence.
It is proper, then, to contemplate the lessons of the date in history -- April 19th -- then, now and in the near future. What I say now I say with reluctance, sadness and not a little bit of dread, but say it I must.
FOR SILENCE IN THE FACE OF TYRANNY IMPLIES CONSENT -- AND I DO NOT CONSENT!
Neither do I believe that you consent, for you would not be here today if you did. But what I say is not easy to say nor easy to hear and many of you will not like it.
"An unconstitutional law is void." So says the standard legal text American Jurisprudence. That is certainly true. The tricky part is how we are to make that point when the local, state and federal executive and legislative branches as well as the courts are in the hands of the domestic enemies of the Constitution. Every one who is currently trying to take away your right to arms starts out by saying "I support the 2nd Amendment." Let me tell you a home truth from Alabama -- Barack Obama supports the 2nd Amendment about as much as Adolf Hitler appreciated Jewish culture, or Joe Stalin believed in individual liberty. Believe what politicians do, not what they say.
So what shall we do about this current spate of tyranny breaking out all over?
The facsimile of a semi-automatic pistol that some of you hold in your hands was smuggled into your state from the South. Manufactured in Georgia, trans-shipped to Alabama, it came across your state line in the trunk of a car. The fact that the authorities of your state have not yet banned "sponge guns" is immaterial. It could as easily been a whole trunk full of real pistols. Indeed, before this year no one thought that other firearms and related items would ever be banned -- but they have been. No one thought that the authorities of your state would pass laws making criminals out of the previously law-abiding -- but they did. If they catch you violating their unconstitutional laws, they will -- when they please -- send armed men to work their will upon you. And people -- innocent of any crime save the one these tyrants created -- will die resisting them.
Yet despite the cost, these unconstitutional laws MUST be resisted. For if not now, when? And if not us, who? This is no longer a "slippery slope" leading to firearm registration and eventual confiscation -- it is a precipice that some states have already plunged over and that the federal government threatens to follow. Arrests are happening NOW. When, if not now, shall we resist? Will we allow ourselves to be shoved back once again, from the free exercise of our God-given, natural and inalienable rights to liberty? -- Shoved back once more, muttering but compliant?
THAT IS HOW WE GOT TO THIS PLACE --- WE NEVER SHOVED BACK WHEN WE COULD DO SO WITHOUT VIOLENCE. Where does it stop? When we are all disarmed slaves?
The Founders knew how to answer such tyranny. When Captain John Parker -- one of the three percent of American colonists who actively took the field against the King during the Revolution -- mustered his Minutemen on Lexington Green, it was in a demonstration of ARMED civil disobedience. He might have retreated at the British approach, but he didn't. He might have ordered his men to lay down their arms, but he didn't. His defiance was silent but plainly stated. A veteran of the French and Indian War, he did not want a war. He knew intimately the horrors of war. BUT HE ALSO KNEW THAT SOME THINGS ARE WORSE THAN WAR. The British could not tolerate his silent defiance -- and someone fired a shot.
But even before the shot heard 'round the world, the colonists understood their weaknesses and their military needs and did something about it. They smuggled. They smuggled Dutch gunpowder and French flints. They smuggled tents and uniform cloth and artillery and ammunition. Boston was the high headquarters of anti-British smuggling and John Hancock was its prime minister. Connecticut was a small empire built on patriotic smuggling. The colonists knew what to do and they did it, regardless of the risk -- regardless of all the King's ministers and the King's soldiery.
They defied the King. They resisted his edicts. They evaded his laws and they smuggled. Lord above, did they smuggle.
Now we find ourselves in a similar situation. The new King Barack and his minions have determined to disarm us. We must determine to resist them.
No one wants a new civil war (except, apparently, the anti-constitional tyrants who passed these laws and the media toadies who cheer them on) but one is staring us in the face. Yes, a civil war is staring us in the face. To think otherwise is to whistle past the graveyard of our own history. We must, if we wish to avoid armed conflict, get this message across to the collectivists who have declared their appetites for our liberty, our property and our lives --
WHEN DEMOCRACY TURNS TO TYRANNY, THE ARMED CITIZEN STILL GETS TO VOTE.
Just like King George, such people will not care, nor modify their behavior, by what you say, no matter how loudly or in what numbers you say it. They will only pay attention to what you DO.
So defy them. Resist their laws. Evade them. Smuggle in what they command you not to have. Only by our ACTS will they be impressed. Then, if they mean to have a civil war, they will at least have been informed of the unintended consequences of their tyrannical actions. Again I say --
Defy. Resist. Evade. Smuggle. If you wish to stay free and to pass down that freedom to your children's children you can do no less than to become the lawbreakers that they have unconstitutionally made of you. Accept that fact. Embrace it. And resolve to be the very best, most successful lawbreakers you can be.
One last thing before I go. On Thursday I smuggled a half-dozen 30 round AR-15 standard capacity magazines into Connecticut in deliberate disobedience of the new state diktat.
So to Martin Looney, Mike Williams, Larry Cafarro and John McKinney I'd like to say this:
I JUST COMMITTED A "D" CLASS FELONY, YOU TYRANNICAL MORONS -- PROVE IT -- WHICH YOU CAN'T -- AND CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.
And I'll tell you something else. When the new ammo restrictions go into effect the first week of July, I'll be back -- with two full crates of 7.62x39 ball ammunition and I will transfer said ammunition into the hands of a Connecticut citizen without the state's permission or paperwork.
And after I break their unconstitutional laws again, I'll be sitting in Frank Pepe's Pizza down in New Haven waiting for Looney and Company to come arrest me --
ANY TIME THEY THINK THEY CAN MAKE IT STICK AND FEEL FROGGY ENOUGH TO TRY.
Thank you.I agree. Resist the tyrants.
Two items you may have missed
2. spiked has a biting review of Andrew Simms' new enviro book Cancel the Apocalypse. The end is nigh, says Simms: "Climate change, financial meltdown, the global peak and decline of oil production, a mass extinction event of plant and animal species, overuse of fresh water supplies, soil loss, economic infrastructure increasingly vulnerable to external shocks - it’s the age of the complex super disaster." But if we just follow Simms' remedies -- consume less, stop economic growth, get rid of free markets, live green -- we can avert doomsday. Hooray!
Here's a bit of spiked's response: "Now, aside from the reheated neo-Malthusian nonsense about the finitude of natural resources – history has repeatedly shown that there is nothing finite or natural about resources – what is striking is the function science performs in Cancel the Apocalypse. Simms effectively dresses up a moral-political vision of how we should live – informed by an essentially Romantic-Aristocratic rejection of modernity – in the garb of science. Moral-political demands that we change our behaviour, that we become content with less, that we stop seeking to better ourselves materially (a staple of left-wing aspiration for two centuries), are passed off as scientifically backed statements. If we don’t change our behaviour, if we don’t become content with less, if we don’t stop seeking to better ourselves materially, then we’re not just challenging Simms’ vision of the not-so Good Life - we’re defying the laws of nature. Likewise, the scientifically verifiable apocalypse – which is actually neither scientific nor verifiable – performs the same function: it turns the political demand that we live differently into a science-backed imperative. An argument that effectively devolves upon an ‘or else’."
"The difficulty for Simms and pals is that the vast majority of the globe actually wants the gains of modernity - political, social and material. And right now, with the economy continuing to flatline, I’m pretty sure most of us in the UK would also like quite a bit of the economic growth that Simms and his cohort of wellbeing-spouting plonkers think is so spiritually deleterious. And this is Simms’ other big problem: environmentalism is not only profoundly unpopular - its demands are pitted against the people."
I particularly like the line "there is nothing finite or natural about resources." That's something hardly anyone understands, but it is absolutely true. <== free book!
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Gun Control: Thanking a Senator
I hadn't blogged on the Senate gun control votes when they were upcoming, but did spend a fair amount of time contacting members of the Senate urging "NO" votes, and writing friends asking them to do the same. Despite what the president and his media advocates claim, it appears that senators were swamped with communications from constituents opposing gun controls. Note that 54 senators voted against Lautenberg's magazine ban, and a full 60 senators voted against Feinstein's "assault weapons" (sic) ban. Wall Street Journal has an excellent analysis of the dishonest political maneuvering by Harry Reid and the White House that led to this crushing defeat for Obama's agenda.
In short, Reid could have had these amendments hinge on a simple majority vote, instead of needing a 60 vote margin. But that would have required that the amendments be subject to a floor debate and also that additional amendments could be proposed. Reid and Obama were dead-set against public scrutiny of the amendments because the truth of these proposed laws would have been exposed (Manchin-Toomey did enable the creation of a federal gun registry, for one thing). And there were pro-Second Amendment proposals that Obama & Co. opposed that would have had a good chance of winning. For example, the Cornyn national reciprocity amendment had 57 "YES" votes. (Why isn't Obama throwing a tantrum that this one was defeated by a minority vote?) Other amendments could have been offered as well; a straight majority vote could have resulted in an even greater debacle for the gun grabbers, and Reid blocked this. The entire affair was an attempt by "progressives" to cram gun control on an unwilling country.
Anyway, I wrote to various Senators urging them to vote "NO" on Tommey-Manchin. After the vote, I again wrote them and either thanked them or demanded an explanation for what they'd done. In return, I received an interesting reply for Sen. Max Baucus (D. MT), who voted against Manchin-Toomey. I forwarded it to my aforementioned list of friends, along with a brief message from yours truly. I post these below. I don't agree with everything that "Max" says (e.g. these inane laws don't make sense in other states, either), but what we need from him isn't philosophical perfection -- we need him to vote the right way. And in this case, that's what he did. Thanks, Max.
Here's my email.
Subject: Why I Opposed Expanding Gun Control
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2013 18:44:34 -0400
To unsubscribe from Max's newsletter, please visit the unsubscribe page
or go to http://www.baucus.senate.gov/?p=newsletter_unsub
Friday, April 19, 2013
This should satisfy everyone! (Warning: Lew Rockwell Fever Swamp Alert!)
Oh, I suppose blaming the NRA might seem a stretch, but no evidence or connection at all is necessary if that's your goal. Note that the brothers Tsarnaev were violent. What more evidence do you need?
Of course, not everyone believes that the Tsarnaevs were responsible. Alex Jones on Info Wars calls them "patsies" and says the whole thing "stinks to high heaven." I won't bother linking to Jones' stuff; it would only be surprising if he said there wasn't a conspiracy.
But the "libertarians" of LewRockwell.com are having fits as well. They, like Jones, are absolutely convinced that the government has done this and that the Tsarnaevs are patsies, set up to take the fall. It's all "false flag," you know. I reproduce some of their posts here for readers' edification, with my own commentary following each post. They've really outdone themselves this time. Study these carefully and you too can learn to be an expert at making anything at all that you observe into "evidence" for your preconceived political fantasies. Wow! Enjoy!
Steele's comment: The New York Post seems to be the only member of the "corporate print media" to have claimed the two high school track runners were suspects. The Post also claimed that 12 people had been killed in the bombing and all sorts of other nonsense, and was quickly called on it by the rest of the corporate media. Most of the hysteria over people spotted in various photos seems to have been amateur "sleuths" posting on social media. However, Alex Jones' Info Wars very quickly ID'd the two high school track stars as the likely culprits. I hope these kids sue Jones and the Post. Then Walter Block can come to the defense of Jones and the Post, since he and Lew et al. believe that libel and slander laws are among the worst crimes of statism. There would be so many delicious ironies in the ensuing circus.
It only adds to the delightfulness of Dan's post that after excoriating the media for sensationally pointing to suspects simply because they supposedly look suspicious, he does exactly the same thing himself. (Alex Jones also highlighted these guys as suspects.) Brilliant insight, Dan! Original LRC post here.
Steele's comment: Let's see... there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon that killed or maimed nearly 200 innocent people, and then the apparent culprits begin hijacking citizen vehicles and engaging in running gun and grenade battles with the police. Obviously this is the fruit of Waco, Iraq, and Afghanistan, all of which were designed to lead up to this. And reporting on it is simply agitprop. Brilliant insight, Karen! Original post here.
Steele's comment: Let's see... there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon that killed or maimed nearly 200 innocent people, and then the apparent culprits begin hijacking citizen vehicles and engaging in running gun and grenade battles with the police. At least one of these guys remains on the loose, and police urge citizens to stay inside. Obviously this is "enhanced martial law," done at the behest of the crony capitalists who are giving the orders. Brilliant insight, Lew! (Now please explain what "enhanced martial law" is.) Original post here.
Original post here.
Dear readers, if you like this stuff, you'll also enjoy the dissection of the Boston conspiracy theories of Comrade Lew and Commander Alex by Skeptical Libertarian. They have a very nice analysis of specific arguments, plus an exceptionally clear explanation of how conspiracy theorists can twist anything at all to fit their fantasies. Highly recommended!
Update: (23:58 EDT) Predictably, Lew Rockwell is bitterly upset that Dzhokar Tsarnaev has been caught. So he's projected his own paranoid fantasies in a made-up "FIB (sic) Press Conference." It's bizarre stuff, but that's Rockwell... a nasty, dishonest, lunatic. Just wait. I predict that before this is done Lew will be condemning everyone who rejoiced that the Tsarnaevs were caught, and claiming the Tsarnaevs are the real victims.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Manchin-Toomey defeated, Obama resorts to crying and hate-filled rant
Manchin-Toomey would have made legal a national firearms registry, a prerequisite for firearm confiscation. The bill explicitly mandated federal background checks for almost all transfers of firearms, and forbade only the Attorney General, and no one else from using the data generated to establish a national registry. This would have changed American law, which currently bans establishment of a registry, period.
There were other serious problems with Manchin-Toomey, and the bill was a shameful sellout by two despicable blackguards, Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin. It would be interesting to know what they were promised for selling their souls to Chuck Schumer, but I suppose we'll never know. Happily, both are now humiliated, as are Feinstein, Schumer, Lautenberg, and their ignominious ilk.
For an explanation of what was wrong with Manchin-Toomey, see these two pieces by law professor David Kopel in Volokh Conspiracy and National Review Online.
In the run up to the vote, there was a bit of drama as one pro-Second Amendment organization, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, suddenly endorsed Manchin-Toomey. The head of the group, Alan Gottlieb, insisted that Manchin-Toomey was a great bill for gunowners (hard to believe since Schumer was behind it, and Bloomberg and his legal team behind him). Gottlieb ended up retracting his sellout and has humiliated and discredited himself. This Sipsey Street post and this one and this one tell the story.
Speaking of humiliation, in the wake of this crushing defeat of his gun control agenda, Barack Obama gave possibly the most embarrassing and unPresidential Presidential address ever given. It was a bitter, hate-filled rant against his political opponents, calling us "liars." That's a viciously dishonest charge, as Kopel's analyses show. Standing next to him, Joe Biden looked like he was crying. It's fine to mock them, but remember that these two are very dangerous. They are unfit for any public office, yet have almost four years ahead of them to try to wreak vengeance on those of us. Well, that's four years for us to give these totalitarian scoundrels hell. I hope they enjoy it.
This is a matter of the highest importance. Obama really is trying to transform America into a progressive utopia, and that would necessarily be a totalitarian socialist state. This is a battle over who is the highest authority, the individual or the state and the elites who run it. It is crucial that Obama's side disarm their opposition; you cannot dictate to an armed freeman. Obama's side just lost an important round. Let's keep that going.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Updates: Boston blame, DPRK, Economics
1. A "progressive" pundit (i.e. unprincipled scoundrel) is hoping a 'white male" is the Boston bomber. You see, in our "racist" society, if it turns out to be someone "of color" there will be massive crackdowns on civil liberties, while if it's a white male our "racist" society will do nothing because of "white privilege."
Political correctness is pretty close to being "the real Philosophy X," please note.
2. A defector from North Korea says what finally pushed him to escape was the realization that if he didn't, he too would become a cannibal.
North Korea is Hell on Earth.
3. Finally, not an update but just a short note on economics... a Hampden-Sydney College econ major, Alex Cartwright, has written a particularly nice succinct piece on why the left doesn't understand economics. In short, the left sees "the economy" as a given pie, and thinks the only question is how to divide it up. That essentially eliminates 100% of economics, which is about the knowledge problem, entrepreneurship and wealth creation, and the allocation of resources. I've left a comment which isn't up yet as I post this.
I notice he plans to do a Ph.D. in economics. Good.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The Dark Consequences of Philosophy X
In the aftermath of the Newtown massacres, news media types, pundits, and politicians kept talking about "trying to understand why this happened, what motivated the killer." It was a commonly repeated theme. But unless one is a psychologist or psychiatrist, I think there's very little point in "trying to understand" someone like this. I certainly didn't waste time "trying to make sense" out of his actions, because I doubt it is really possible. And I'm skeptical that when we do manage to get an explanation for homicidal behavior of this nature, that it is really understanding and not simply a rationalization that we find satisfying.
The cruel, murderous attack in Boston was probably terrorism, with some political or religious theme to it. So here's what is more likely to happen, once the perpetrator(s) is/are identified. The perpetrators will have done the vicious deeds on behalf of some as-yet-unidentified set of ideas, call it Philosophy X. Once we know what Philosophy X is, pundits will race to explain how the ideas of Philosophy X lead to this sort of thing, that acts like the bombing are implied by Philosophy X itself. Counter-pundits will then object that no, instead this is a perversion of Philosophy X. And the discussion will go on and on. But the discussion will be nonsense.
Remember Anders Brevik, the Norwegian who murdered 69 people? Ostensibly he did it because of his opposition to Islam and to multiculturalism. He said so, rather clearly. But what's the real link between his actions and his professed ideas? He as easily could have claimed to have been acting in defense of Islam, or Marxism, or in opposition to the white race, and his behavior would have made as much sense. And that will be the case when the criminals of Boston are uncovered. Regardless of what Philosophy X proves to be, there will be nothing in it that suggests one should set off explosives in the midst of crowds watching the Boston Marathon to kill and maim random onlookers. Unless...
One thing I was wondering. What if it happens that this wasn't an act of terrorism. What if someone just did it for the sake of the act itself, not for any political purpose. What if someone did it just for, say, fun? One might wonder how committing such a terrible crime could be fun. Well, suppose a person has no empathy -- an assumption which does not strain credulity at all, but seems a necessary precondition for someone to engage in such a bombing. Given this, think what a challenge pulling off this crime poses: building workable bombs, then placing them in public locations while in full view of thousands of people, including numerous police, and finally detonating them successfully. Those aspects could be quite exciting. A person with any kind of moral sense would be appalled, but someone with none might find this quite a thrill. Such a person might have, in addition, some sort of political or religious feelings that provide a rationale for their actions, but I suspect that this is often closer to window dressing than real motive. I suspect -- and it is just my own speculation -- that Brevik, the 9-11 hijackers, and many other terrorists -- have two main driving forces behind their actions: they don't like people, and they are doing something exciting. The philosophy is just an excuse.
Adam Smith observed that a man with no empathy at all, and no sense of justice, was a fearful monster who should be hunted out of society like a dangerous beast. So if there really is a "Philosophy X," it is anything that destroys a person's empathy and moral sense, that leads one to see other human beings as mere objects, or as nothing but means to one's own ends. This seems to be an important component of most political philosophies these days, so in that sense these killers are motivated by ideas. But it's not this particular aspect of their ideas that the pundits will focus on; this will strike too close to home. Instead the pundits will focus on the Islam, or the right-wing-extremism, or the Juche, or whatever else this proves to be, and miss the fundamental problem.
*** *** *** *** *** ***
Mediaite has collected the "Ten Worst Media Reactions" to the Boston bombing. Chris Matthews says it was Republicans, Michael Moore says it was the Tea Party, Alex Jones says it was the government, etc. etc. Every single example is simply someone blaming the people they hate the most, with no evidence at all.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Happy Birthday, Kim Il Sung
North Koreans starve.
North Korean concentration camps.
What about North Korea?
One of the difficult things about making any pronouncement about the DPRK is that no one really seems to know what is happening within the leadership. Certainly there's no way for an outsider, with access only to the news, to tell. Heck, you can't even tell what is happening outside the DPRK. China is massing its military forces on the border, only actually it isn't, except that it is, although no it isn't, and, well, maybe they are just prepping for NBC war. (Notice that China's own Global Times is the source of many of these conflicting reports.)
Trying to figure out what is going on inside North Korea is much harder. Kim Jong Un might be seriously considering an attack. He might be bluffing. His strange pronouncements might be aimed at winning support of the military leadership, or maybe of the people, or maybe it's entirely designed to scare the West into negotiations. Maybe the Chinese are putting him up to it. Maybe not. Some interpretations seem more reasonable than others to me, but I've read pundits and seen news stories that support every one of these interpretations, and others as well.
Here's my own interpretation of what's happening. I think it's sensible, and it's in keeping with what some North Korean defectors, military analysts, and news reports suggest. But like all the rest it's armchair analysis. The cost to me if I'm wrong is zero, and it's worth every penny the reader must pay for it.
I think Kim Jong Un has no intention of starting an all-out war. His "declaration" referred to responding to any attack, not initiating one. There are three purposes for his wild and belligerent rhetoric. 1) He's responding to the increased sanctions placed by the U.N. after DPRK's most recent nuclear test. He has to respond vigorously; the rest of the world must appear as an existential threat to a regime like his. He also needs foreign support to keep the country from starving. 2) This response is particularly aimed at strengthening his support within the military. North Korea's policy of Songun puts the military above all else -- indeed there's not much else to the DPRK economy and power structure. Either Kim is a strong man among dangerous thugs, or he goes. They devour him. 3) The country is starving. The way to make people continue to accept this is to keep them thinking that no matter how bad it is, things could be much worse. That, and continue the deification of the Kim dynasty. Hence tell people that World War III is coming, that the imperialist devils of the United States and their South Korean puppets are about to attack... and then, when nothing happens, glorify the courageous and resolute response of Kim III for making the enemy back down and saving the world.
In my interpretation, Kim isn't crazy or stupid. He likely has some ways of understanding the world that we'd find very odd -- he might believe to some extent in Juche and his own deity status, for example. And he's certainly very dangerous. Analyses that begin "he should realize that such a move [war] would signal the end of the DPRK " or that assert the DPRK leaders "are not suicidal" make no sense to me. They assume as fact the very thing that needs to be established in figuring out what to do about North Korea. Why should we think Kim III understands that he'd lose a war? Or why assume he's not suicidal? Without knowing what is happening within the leadership, how do we know there isn't some high level internal struggle occurring within the leadership, and the losers understand they'll be fatally purged and thus are willing to play a very high stakes game of chicken? (One South Korean report that I can't find now claimed this, and named names; Kim Jong Il's sister and her husband are among the alleged warring parties.) Or consider this: I read one analysis by a man who defected from North Korea some years ago claiming that the 1976 ax murder incident and accompanying hostilities had actually been instigated by Kim Jong Il to establish himself as a strong figure, and that he had to be reigned in by father before the confrontations got out of hand. The defector suggested that Kim Jong Un is now engaged in the same sort of thing, establishing his reputation as a strong leader. He also lamented that the chances of miscalculation and war are extremely high.
It makes sense to me that the U.S. not respond verbally and publicly to bellicose language but be ready to smash North Korean military targets in the event of any attack. At present, North Korea probably cannot put a nuclear weapon on a missile and get either it or the missile to work. Why wait until then can? If they start something, it ought to be suicide for the regime.
In that light, the best single thing I've seen on how to respond to North Korea is this, from our Virtual President's recent new conference:
Saturday, April 13, 2013
So much for personal matters. I'll have something up very soon about the political situation in the U.S., plus Unforeseen Contingencies first ever Kim Il Sung birthday special!
Monday, April 08, 2013
Tribute to Lady Thatcher
Back in action...kind of...
Assuming I'm not just rising up one last time before collapsing in my death bed, I should be back to blogging soon.
Note: the inset picture bears a remarkable likeness to how I appeared for most of the past three weeks.