What in the heck is going on with Evan McMullin? Tweeting that the President of the United States is a "domestic enemy" isn't that strange these days - we saw that frequently and from many sources over the last two Administrations. I'm talking about his overt Russophobia.
Is Russia still the heart of a lingering "evil empire?" When the USSR subjected everyone within it's very big but not very beautiful walls, that was an easy sell to a peace-loving western population. But today, they carry our astronauts to the International Space Station for goodness sake! The wall came down in nineteen-hundred and eighty nine. Remember?
And yet, today, Evan McMullin appeared on CNN's New Day this morning to tell Alisyn Camerota that Donald Trump wants to "weaken" the U.S. intelligence community because "he knows as long as he has the issues he has with Russia the intelligence community and he are not going to get along."
What are President Trump's "issues with Russia?" Well, there's the unsubstantiated claim of stealing the election. Each of us must discern whether or not to believe the various claims and counterclaims on that one. But one unambiguous conflict with the "intelligence community" is Trump's willingness for rapprochement with modern Russia.
Camerota asked Steve Hall, the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations about Trump’s press conference yesterday. Hall answered that,
"I don't think there is very much good news especially after we saw the press conference Donald Trump conducted yesterday ... he said things like it wouldn't be so bad if we had a good relationship with Russia."
The horror! The next we know, he'll be sending Rex Tillerson on a mission to "reset" U.S. relations with Russia. Who sets U.S. foreign policy, really... the C.I.A.? The Council on Foreign Relations? Senator John McCain? How about the elected Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the armed forces? Seems I read that in some old dusty document once.
There's clearly something really big going on here, behind the scenes of geopolitics. Past presidents have apparently been willing to let the puppetmasters have their way, in complete secrecy. President Trump on the other hand has a penchant for, shall we say, speaking his mind? And for doing so it is boasted that Trump will "die in jail" as the Intelligence Community prepares to "go nuclear" on him.
What was that old Dwight D. Eisenhower quote? "Beware the military-industrial complex" or something like that? Well, the Sting lyric, "I hope the Russians love their children too" can perhaps be updated to "I hope American Spooks love their children too."
You know it's a red-letter day when this humble blogger links to The Nation, but I find a lot of anti-Leviathan love here. I've never heard of Patrick Lawrence but he self-identifies as a progressive and writes about 'The Perils of Russophobia.'
"Russian aggression" has to go down as one of the great, pernicious phrases of our time - requiring no further scrutiny whenever deployed. The Russians invaded Ukraine and then stole Crimea without prior provocation. Now they threaten to invade the Baltic states. They cultivate extreme-right nationalists in Europe so as to debilitate the European Union. The Russians are guilty of war crimes in Syria. They have just invaded us, too, corrupting our democratic process and throwing the 2016 election to Donald Trump and his houseful of "Kremlin lackeys."
This is the stuff of our reigning Russophobia. Let us try to identify what it is actually made of.
Every sentence in the above list has four attributes: (1) It is broadly accepted as fact just as written; (2) there is little confirmed, published evidence from impartial sources, if any, supporting it; (3) it is either one or another form of disinformation or misleads by way of omission - or both; and (4) it is a source of delusion. And in the matter of the last it is very weird. Our policy cliques do well enough deluding Americans to the effect that Russia now presents America with "an existential threat" - a thought Pentagon and NATO brass are making common currency, believe it or not - but they appear to think a nation deluded by their incessant repetitions is somehow a fine and sturdy thing.
I can be convinced that Iranian and North Korean nuclear ICBM's pose an "existential threat" but Russia has had them pointed at us for so long, and us at them, that nobody truly fears "mutual assured destruction" anymore. And what is a contemporary term for unsubstantiated delusional disinformation? "Fake news."
We can argue about such things. But such arguments are a privilege -- and an obligation -- of free people. We get to decide where the public good takes precedence over the private. We get to debate the trade-offs between order and liberty, virtue and freedom. Us. Not them.
This is particularly true when the "them" in question is a crapulent pajama-wearing psychopathic dictator who starves his own people while cramming caviar down his gullet. When the Pillsbury Doughboy from Hell tries to tell us what kind of movies we can make or see, the only honorable response is "Go f**k yourself." -- Jonah Golberg [subscribe]
I can go "all-in" defending our rights to watch a terrible movie, but I do not want to look foolish when this is all exposed as a product of the SONY Pictures' PR Department.
In the wake of Sony Pictures decision to mothball their movie "The Interview" in the wake of terror-like threats against movie theaters, even so far as invoking the images of 9/11 (what, are they going to fly jetliners into the Cineplex?) the punditry today has turned to criticism of Sony for "backing down" or "caving in" to terrorists.
Let's think about that for a moment...
Has this happened before?
And did it work then too?
So those who lecture Sony that their decision will have a chilling effect on the movie industry should look in the mirror and ask themselves, "Did I feel the same way about Muhammad cartoons?"
Weakness in the face of those terror threats was arguably the foundation for the Sony hacking, and for the strategy the state-worshipping North Koreans chose for spiking the film about their "Dear Leader."
I'm ready to give the President something of a pass on this, as there is probably no great alternative. I don't think a fiery, Sharansky-esque, appeal to universal freedom is in his repertoire. And I'm jaded enough these days to wonder if that would do any good.
And yet: "Obama: N. Korean rocket test would isolate regime"
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Warning North Korea from its doorstep, President Barack Obama said Pyongyang risks deepening its isolation in the international community if it proceeds with a planned long-range rocket launch.
I'm suspending the rules of de mortuis nil nisi bonum (more a guideline, actually...)
This guy watched as hundreds of millions were released from tyranny and privation, only to grab the reins of despotism more tightly. May Hitch and Ms. Rand be wrong, as there should be a hell -- if only to house this man.
Photo Credit and more sic semper tyrannis-y goodness: AP
Listening to that little chia-head dictator in North Korea threaten to "wipe the US off the globe once and for all" can't help but remind The Refugee of the 1959 comedy "The Mouse that Roared" starring Peter Sellers. In the movie, the backward little country of Duchy of Grand Fenwick, on the brink of economic collapse, determines that the best course of action is to attack the US, lose, and wait for reconstruction. The Refugee won't spoil the plot for all Netflix subscribers, but you get the idea.
Kim Jong Il is rumored to be a real movie buff, so is this the Big Screen coming to life? Maybe, but The Refugee is still more inclined to bet on syphilitic insanity.
50 years from now you'll be able to tell your grandchildren, "I was alive when plain English was spoken at the U.N." Sadly, those days are behind us now. But the man who did so is still riding shotgun on America's diplomatic corps as it whistles past the graveyard that is the DPRK.
The reports raise three separate issues. First, what exactly is the intelligence judgment about North Korea's enrichment activities, and how valid was it in 2002? Second, what are the implications for the administration's ongoing negotiations with North Korea? And third, is Mr./Ms. ASO speaking for the Bush administration, or for those elements in the permanent bureaucracy that have consistently opposed key elements of the Bush foreign policy, at least as conducted until recently?
He then elaborates on the second issue:
North Korea's aggressive mendacity puts it near the top of the list, perhaps tied with Iran for the lead, of countries that need the most transparent, most intrusive, most pervasive verification systems. For America to agree to anything less would be to make our national security, and that of close friends and allies like Japan, dependent on North Korea's word--never a safe bet. And yet, it is precisely this extensive verification system that the North cannot accept, because the transparency we must require would threaten the very rock of domestic oppression on which the North Korean regime rests. North Korea's negotiators understand this contradiction. So do ours.
The only way around this problem is to conclude it doesn't exist, or is so minimal it can be "fixed" in negotiations. That's why Mr./Ms. ASO was busy, laying the foundation to argue that further deals with North Korea do not require much, if any, verification beyond what little the International Atomic Energy Agency can provide. If we continue this approach, what is already a bad deal will become a dangerous deal, whether we make it with North Korea directly or in the six-party talks. (As Nick Eberstadt has put it, a bad agreement with six parties is no better than a bad agreement with two parties.)
Bolton concludes by challenging the president to reign in the "permanent bureaucracy" and hold Pyongyang's feet to the fire. Personally I think Bush and Cheney have decided to put this issue on simmer, leave it for the next administration, and focus on the signature foreign policy issue of this administration: capturing or killing big name terrorists. The Iraq "surge," the Afghanistan "spring offensive," the 82nd Airborne deployment to the Afghan/Pak border, and Cheney's recent trip to Pakistan's capitol all bode well for this assumption.
A German pensioner who won a prize and worldwide fame for breeding his country’s largest rabbit — Robert, a 10.5kg (23lb) bruiser the size of a dog — has been offered an unusual opportunity to exploit his talents overseas.
Karl Szmolinsky has been given a contract by North Korea to supply giant rabbits to help to boost meat production in the reclusive Communist country, which is suffering severe food shortages. The only problem is that such huge rabbits consume vast quantities of food themselves as they grow.
Are these giant rabbits going to be bred for food, or to put "frickin' laser beams on their heads?"
Unfortunately, as soon as Chavez gets his way (completely gets his way), Venezuela won't be all that far behind.
Pastor Buck is a rescuer. It's a job title that applies to a courageous few--mostly Americans and South Koreans and predominantly Christians--who operate the underground railroad that ferries North Korean refugees out of China to South Korea, and now, thanks to 2004 legislation, to the U.S. Mr. Buck, an American from Seattle, says he has rescued more than 100 refugees and helped support another 1,000 who are still on the run. For this "crime"--China's policy is to hunt down and repatriate North Koreans--he spent 15 months in a Chinese prison. He was released in August.
The plight of the tens of thousands of North Korean refugees in China is a humanitarian crisis that has received scant world attention. It won't be on the agenda of the six-party talks, which are scheduled to restart today in Beijing. But the experience of Pastor Buck and other rescuers is worth noting as negotiators sit down with Kim Jong Il's emissaries. North Korea won't change, they believe, so long as Kim remains in power. Follow that logic, and regime change is the proper goal.
The refugees, Pastor Buck argues, are the key to regime change in North Korea and, by inference, the key to halting the North's nuclear and missile programs. Help one man or woman escape, he says, and that person will get word to his family back home about the freedom that awaits them on the outside. Others will follow, and the regime will implode. This is what happened in 1989, when Hungary refused to turn back East Germans fleeing to the West, thereby hastening the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret about his country's nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to international nuclear talks if Washington backs off a campaign to financially isolate the country, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.
"If the U.S. makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks," Kim was quoted as telling a Chinese envoy, the mass- circulation Chosun Ilbo reported, citing a diplomatic source in China.
Kim told the Chinese delegation that "he is sorry about the nuclear test," the newspaper reported.
If President Bush continues to ask North Korea to "kneel," war "will be inevitable," and it would begin on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean Gen. Ri Chan Bok told "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer, in an exclusive interview inside North Korea.
If only we had a topical quotation from Hugo Chavez, Robert Mugabe or Fidel Castro, then we'd have a crazy trifecta.
A general who impliments policies of a government who's crazy to respect a religion that can't respect itself, or it's gays, or it's women, or religious minorities, or... or... or... ad nauseum.
The U.S. military spokesman says there has been a 22 percent jump in attacks during Ramadan and the drive to secure Baghdad has "not met our overall expectations."
The spike in violence during the Islamic holy month of fasting was "disheartening" and the Americans were working with Iraqi authorities to "refocus" security measures, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said.
Note 1: Out of respect, weren't we supposed to scale back our military activities around Islamic holy days? I'm glad the other side got the message. As a reward, we should treat their prisoners nicely. Maybe they'll stop the beheadings.
The top U.S. diplomat said she reaffirmed President Bush's pledge, made hours after North Korea's Oct. 9 underground test blast, "that the United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range — and I underscore the full range — of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan."
In my other life, as a Romanian intelligence general, I was at the beck and call of another 5’4” dictator involved in building nuclear weapons in a defiant bid for survival and respect, and nothing short of death was able to deter him from achieving that goal. Not even the defection of his top nuclear-weapon adviser — myself.
Eleven years later, in 1989, Ceausescu was executed for genocide, and Romania’s new government reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had discovered plutonium separated in a Triga nuclear reactor. The amount of plutonium found at that time was small, but the act was a clear violation of Romania’s commitments made under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to a Canadian study, “a more extensive nuclear weapons program may have been covered up.”
The west never stood a chance of stopping Kim Jong Ill.
RedState provides a list of the provisions of the United Nation's North Korea Resolution.
Demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
Requires all countries to prevent the sale or transfer of materials related to Pyongyang's unconventional weapons programs, as well as large-sized military items such as tanks, missiles and helicopters.
Demands nations freeze funds overseas of people or businesses connected with North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Allows nations to inspect cargo moving in and out of North Korea in pursuit of non-conventional weapons.
Calls on Pyongyang to return "without precondition" to stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear program.
Is not backed up by the threat of military force.
I'm not war mongering by any means, but that last item there pretty much guarantees that this will fail.
I'm not a "typical right-wing pedophile apologist" excusing Foley. But, in case you haven't noticed, he's gone. He quit quicker than his instant message. And, true, he's since done the usual contemptible redemption shtick, announcing he's going into alcohol rehab, etc., when the reality is he'd be a better man if he drank more and IMed teens about the size of their wedding tackle less. And yes, he'll get a book deal, just like New Jersey's revolting ex-governor. But no one will buy the book -- and besides, what do you want? When a member of the House of Lords went abroad after a homosexual scandal, King George V is said to have remarked, "Good God, I thought fellows like that shot themselves." It may, indeed, be a less revolting spectacle for a chap to take a tumbler of whiskey and a loaded revolver into his study than to go on "Oprah" and bore on about his personal demons, abusive father, etc., etc. But we live in different times. Foley's history; he's the first footnote in history to a page in history. So the only question now is whether there is any larger issue here worth spending 10 minutes on.
North Korea said Monday it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test. The country's official Korean Central News Agency said the test was performed successfully and there was no radioactive leakage from the site.
"The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to the our military and people," KCNA said.
The hullabaloo (not yet a kerfuffle) over baby Kim's Fourth-of-July fireworks show amongst the media and Democrat pols is truly baffling. "Madeline Albright tells us that North Korea is stuck in the 1950's as a society, to which I say, "Didn't they have electric lights back then? I don't know, I'm not that old." But the point is, how can you impose economic sanctions on an economic null?
"General" Wesley Clark and Governor/Ambassador/Senator Bill Richardson calmly lecture that this is just North Korea's way of "behaving like a spoiled child" in order to "get our attention" and "force us to negotiate incentive agreements" with them. Then they both suggest, in the very next breath, that we engage them in direct talks. Clark says, and I'm paraphrasing, "We are the world's superpower and it is our responsibility to defuse this situation, and the only way to do that is to talk with them." He also said, "We need to work with them, and work against them." Multilateralists hearts must be all aflutter at this stunning display of nuance.
My prescription for North Korea: Exactly what the adminstration has done, and nothing more. If these missiles got close, they'd have been swatted. If one gets through and, NED forbid, a nuclear warhead explodes on US soil, there's a special red button in the Oval Office with North Korea's name on it.