Political gestures 1

A social worker named Wendy Sherman was employed by President Clinton to negotiate the 1999 non-proliferation nuclear arms deal between the US and the hereditary dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-il.

The Obama administration was so pleased with her achievement that they got her to negotiate a similar deal between the US and Iran in 2015.

Neither the Iranian rulers nor the present North Korean hereditary dictator Kim Jong-un have any intention of abiding by the terms of their respective “deals”.

CNN reports:

North Korea has successfully launched a satellite into space, its state-run TV said …

Carrier rocket Kwangmyongsong blasted off from the Sohae Space Center at 9 a.m Sunday local time …

U.S. officials have said the same type of rocket used to launch today’s satellite could deliver a nuclear warhead. …

According to multiple experts, North Korea has at least a dozen and perhaps as many as 100 nuclear weapons, though at present it lacks sophisticated delivery mechanisms.

Or did, until now.

The Daily Beast reports:

Nuclear nonproliferation experts agree: Obama, they claim, is responsible for the failure of America to prevent North Korea from expanding its nuclear program. …

The Obama administration concept of ‘strategic patience’ emerged early on in the administration after the scathing experience of North Korea’s 2009 nuclear test. The strategy essentially demanded that North Koreans recommit to concrete steps towards denuclearization — such as allowing inspectors and freezing fissile material production — as a precondition of any future talks. …

It is a strategy that has proven to be a failure, given the most recent nuclear test. North Korea has simply accepted sanctions and international isolation as the cost of a slow and steady expansion of its nuclear weapons program. …

By demanding that North Koreans take denuclearization steps before talks that would focus on denuclearization, it put the onus for talks on the authoritarian state, thereby buying them time to creep towards strengthening its nuclear arsenal.

“Given that North Korea equates its nuclear weapons with the survivability of its regime, it is extremely unlikely that Pyongyang will take steps toward denuclearization absent assurances of the state’s security,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association. “The overthrow of Qadhafi, several years after Libya gave up its nuclear program, likely increased North Korea’s concerns that absent a nuclear deterrent, its regime would be at risk.”  …

So when presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio says that “North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama stood idly by”, and Jeb Bush blamed the “Obama Clinton foreign policy”, they’re on the mark.

One thing is for sure: North Korea’s nuclear program has dramatically expanded over the past decade — during the course of the Obama administration — and the threat is now greater than it has ever been.

Well meaning, good-doing ladies like Wendy Sherman are indispensable to modern politics, especially to a sentimental foreign policy.

They are Mistresses of the Empty Gesture.

Kim Jong Jesus 1

A laugh is needed in the depths of winter. So here it is.

 

(Hat-tip our TAC Facebook commenter, Tina Bradshaw)

Posted under Humor, Videos by Jillian Becker on Thursday, January 9, 2014

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In Chile a revolt against economic success presages disaster 1

This information was given to us as a comment on our post Saved from Communism – and flourishing (September 15, 2013) by our reader – and citizen of Chile –  Carlos. It confirms the two reports we quoted, which praise Chile for its spectacular economic achievements since 1973. But it is also a reality-check and corrective to their optimism, because it also tells the distressing story of how the Left is trying to sabotage the system that worked so well and return the country to failed collectivist policies:

The information you cite on this post is correct. The country I grew up in was entirely different from the one my parents knew. Latin American nations have always been poor in ways someone that hails from the Anglo-Saxon world can’t fathom, and it’s been like that since the Spaniards came hundreds of years ago.

My parents, the son and daughter of poor country workers (the kind that toiled the land without technology or electricity), are now medical professionals, wealthy, and have traveled to all continents. It’s the kind of story you hear in those once poor third world countries that lead free market reforms, or about first generation immigrants that arrive to the US as paupers and then, after some decades, amass the kind of wealth only a small percentage possess in their countries of origin.

Besides [and because of] having the highest per capita income of the region, the people of Chile surpass others in South America on eating and drinking alcohol, so much that, just like the US, obesity and diabetes are a major health concern of all ages.

With all this, you would think that the Chilean people would be happy and elated about their progress …

Yes, progress – because obesity and diabetes are bad effects of eating too much, not too little …

…  but that could not be farther from the truth. The political consensus, accepted by pretty much everyone, is that the Chilean economic system is immoral and awful; a system built on “inequality and greed”.

Like in the US and Europe, the political Right has abandoned the Universities and intellectual spheres, leaving them to the Left to reign supreme. Socialism of all stripes is discussed on all political talk shows, while the greatest and most successful economic reforms in Chile’s history (the greatest reduction of poverty in recent years, for one) are scorned as “neoliberalism” and not egalitarian, and capitalists are despised with the same animus as your lefties [in the US] inveigh against the “one percenters”.

While the European welfare states are teetering, the people here hate the privately managed social security, accusing them of being thieves. The general belief here is that if something, whether minerals, forests, social security funds, etc., is owned by the State it is the property of everyone, which is good (no matter how much it costs or how much the national debt rises), but if it is private then someone somewhere is stealing from them (with commodities this is believed even if the prices are low).

This thinking is also applied to education.

Throughout 2011, huge protests broke out clamoring for free university education and the end of the voucher system for funding school education for poor families. The protesters were led by a member of the Communist Party, who was acclaimed and embraced by the fawning media. The protests ended up with more than a thousand policemen injured (beaten, burned by molotov bombs, etc.) and damages to schools on strike (by their own students, if not older members of left wing fanatic groups) that, according to the Minister of Education, amount to the cost of building 11 all-new schools.

Street violence is now a staple of the national life, with policemen attacked with a shower of rocks, molotov bombs, and acid (yes, ACID). Even the horses that policemen use have been the subject of horrible knife cuts. The last protest to commemorate the 40 years of the coup ended up with a policeman with his face (nose, teeth, cheek) destroyed by a rock blow, as several others had their hands burned with acid. (See videos of the riots here  – where a fallen mounted policeman is stoned – and here and here.)

All of this without counting the crude and disgusting language the police are subject to by the crazed mass that revels in violence.

The two greatest universities of the country are hostile grounds for Presidents of all stripes. Years ago, Ricardo Lagos, a Socialist President, was verbally abused in the Law faculty of the University of Chile and paint was hurled at him for the crime of not been socialist enough. And just three or two years ago, the current President, Sebastián Piñera and other political colleagues where attacked in the Catholic University of Chile by a group of students that behaved like a group of crazed baboons hooting and jeering.

The “secular religion” of the Left, besides the sanctification of the “Dear Leader”, is the adoration of the martyrs of the Revolution.

At the tax payer expense, a Museum of the Memory was built to commemorate all the 3000+ victims of the Pinochet dictatorship, all under a language of Human Rights violations. Of course, there is no mention of Allende’s association with the Soviet Union, one of the greatest Human Rights violators ever, only surpassed by others that applied the system of Scientific Socialism, which Allende and the Left adhered to and admired. There is no mention, also, of the more than 400 police and military men that were murdered by the paramilitary groups; no mention of the human disaster that Allende government was (with a ridiculous high inflation, shortages of the basic victuals, rationing lines, out of control political violence, aggressive taking over of land and industries, the State controlling most of the economy); no mentioning of the language the Left used during Allende’s reign: the threat of violent Revolution, and, most disgusting of all, the claims that, after killing the men of the Bourgeoisie, they would take their women ‘to the bed’, a nice and blithe euphemism for rape.

Our Communist Party has expressed, openly, their grief for the passing of the lunatic dictator Kim Jong-il, and gave vocal support to the Assad regime on the glorious duty of massacring their own people (a very Communist endeavor, you know). These horrendous, ignominious, disgraceful acts in support of murder and evil that boggle the mind are met with total (yes, that is the word) indifference by the general populace, while Pinochet’s dictatorship is routinely condemned.

Michelle Bachelet, a member of the Socialist Party who governed Chile between 2006 – 2010, will return again as a candidate for the next election. While in her first mandate she tended to be Center-Left, supported by a somewhat moderate coalition, and applying as much fiscal sanity as a Socialist can have, this time she comes at the head of a new political group that includes the Communist Party and is bent on changing the “Neoliberal” system, increase taxes and all the litany of reforms that scares investors and ruins long term economic projects. She enjoys the support of nearly 40 – 45% of voters, mostly because of her motherly appearance and the fact that she is a woman.

The problem with Chile is that, as Ayn Rand would say, its very core, its spiritual, cultural and historic center, is complete and powerfully rotted with Altruism. It is embedded in the national soul. Its roots lie, I believe, with the Catholic creed, and is something that most Chileans embrace. This allows for any right, any value to be sacrificed on the altar of the Collective, Public, Tribal good.

This is the reason I am writing this to you, because I think that in some years, Chile will utterly fail in its quest for economic development, and it will be a disaster.

Economic liberalism, individualism, is the antithesis of Altruism.

The Left has learned NOTHING from the experience of Allende’s government: the living members of his administration have publicly refused to ask for forgiveness for ruining the economy and the coexistence of a nation that some three years before was peaceful and stable. The younger members of the Left believe that the CIA and the Right ruined the economy just to get rid of Allende. The lessons of History only apply to their enemies.

It is a very bleak picture that I have painted of the current situation of Chile, but it is one that any of us living here would profess, any of us that believe in freedom, private property and the secular Rule of Law focused on defending individual rights.

The dying of the light 2

The Obama administration is growing ever longer arms and ever more grasping fingers, to reach into every aspect, activity, and setting of our lives: our homes, our possessions, our habits, our tastes, our choices, our  minds; to regulate, manipulate, constrain, constrict, direct, control us. Their aim? For them,  power beyond the imaginations of all former tyrants; for us, helpless dependence, obedience, submission.

An exaggeration? Let’s see.

Among the people he has appointed to “czardom”, the unelected ideologues who have real executive power, are “behavioral scientists” and “behavioral economists”, who are actively trying to “usher in an era of profound social reform by getting us to change the way we behave, little by little, every day”, to quote an article by Christine Rosen in the July/August issue of Commentary, titled Now Behave. She names in particular Cass Sunstein, co-author of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth,  and Happiness, whom Obama has appointed his “regulation czar”. What he and his fellow philosophers now governing the Republic are doing is, in Rosen’s words:

.. reconciling political theory with the scientific study of human behavior since, they argue, the old categories of political theory no longer apply. … Personal responsibility? Impossible in a complicated world governed by complex ‘systems’ and limitless choices.  The result is a kind of [Pavlovian] stimulus-response politics that promises to liberate citizens from having to make complicated choices in exchange for limiting their freedom.

Promises to liberate us from liberty?

It’s all for own good, of course, as every tyranny has ever been for the good of the tyrannized. But it’s not just for our own individual good. No  – as always it’s for the good of “society”.

Rosen explains:

The new behaviorism isn’t interested in protecting people’s freedom to choose. Its core principle is the idea that only by allowing an expert to limit choices can individuals learn to break their bad habits. … Contemporary behaviorists want to nudge us, but not merely to make us happier, better people. They have specific hopes for the social effects this nudging will achieve: fewer smokers, thinner Americans, higher savings rates.

Now we see the dream in  detail. It’s not exactly the same as the grand, vague, Marxist utopian dream of a proletarian paradise. It’s a more mundane, banal projection, concerned with correcting trivial behaviors that insult the puritan eye, nose, and tight fist. A largely aesthetic ideal based on parsimony, satisfying a taste for sparseness and austerity, with everyone skinny and no more unsightly fatties impeding passage through the mall. The venting of a petty and stingy enviousness that cannot endure the sight of abundance. A drive for conforming discipline, with a Spartan adulation of rude health, conjuring up images of medicine-ball, gym-slip, girls’ organizations in the early twentieth century.

The intelligentsia of the Western world, the elite that always classes itself with the rulers rather than the ruled, think all this is wonderful, great, brilliant. If you doubt it, read what distinguished critics and academics say about Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge, quoted proudly in it. Eg: “a wonderful book”; “this gem of a book”; “insightful and amusing, practical and deep … a must-read for anyone who wants to see both our minds and our society working better … it will make the world a better place“.

They see no contempt in it. No evil will. After all, it’s not a plan to force us, the masses; just to plant certain ideas in our minds so we can mull them over and come to accept them as better ideas than our own.

Not forcing us? Are they not already taking steps to regulate how much salt and fat we eat? To limit how much credit we may have so we don’t go and buy something just because we want it? The way you live in your own home will be scrutinized and corrected. Think you can cheat? They have technologies unavailable to earlier totalitarians, and they’ll use them to mold us to their heart’s desire.They are putting X-ray vans on the streets from which they can look into your house and see if you’re just lolling about when you should be working out (in either sense of the phrase). Complain about it? They’ll know. They’re working on censoring your internet communications.

Let’s look at an example of government interference in our home lives, at one way our betters are limiting the choices we can make in small and necessary things.

Ed Feulner, president of that splendid stronghold of conservative principles, the Heritage Foundation, writes today in Townhall:

So, are you ready to comply with the federal government’s ban on incandescent light bulbs? Me neither.

Starting in January 2012, a little over a year from now, the phase-out begins. Simple, inexpensive lighting will become a time-capsule item. Compact-fluorescent lights, or CFLs — the bulbs that look like a twisted ice-cream cone (and won’t fit in many light fixtures where space is tight) — will become the new norm.

Anyone who has priced CFLs knows they’re not cheap. Supposedly they’re worth the extra money because they’ll last longer. That’s cold comfort, though, given the dull, unnatural glow that these bulbs throw off.

Worse, CFLs are full of mercury. If one breaks — and who hasn’t dropped a light bulb now and then? — you have an elaborate clean-up process ahead of you. It’s on the EPA’s website, and it involves evacuating the area of all people and pets, and using duct tape and damp paper towels to get everything up. (Go to www.epa.gov for complete details.) And no vacuuming, or you may disperse the mercury – which, after all, is a toxic substance.

So why are we making the switch? … The theory, of course, is that we’ll consume less energy. It’s all part of the green agenda. The same agenda that the president insists will produce scads of high-paying, earth-friendly “green jobs.” Tell that to the 200 workers in Winchester, Va., who are losing their jobs as General Electric closes its incandescent-bulb factory there. Or to the Americans who work in other plants that have been shuttered.

Yes, some jobs will be created, thanks to the ban. Unfortunately, those jobs won’t be here in the U.S. — they’ll be in China, where CFLs can be made cheaper. …

But at least we’ll be saving energy, right? Not according to a recent study sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. It found that energy use under newer “efficient” lighting will actually go up rather than down.

But their will be done.

One of the most profoundly troubling things about all this is that it’s being done to us so easily. Who is crying out against it? Even those who are aware that it is happening are not raising a hullabaloo, not threatening – let alone taking – action to prevent it. Christine Rosen, though she reports, explains, and objects to it, does not  seem appalled by it. Ed Feulner, a champion of individual liberty, says of the light-bulb diktat: “This whole affair is a prime example of bad ‘unintended consequences’ resulting from well-intentioned plans — plans imposed by devotees of big-government solutions for nearly every problem.”

Well-intentioned? Can no one see that what we are being subjected to, stealthily nudged into, is a subservience more absolute than Orwell visualized, or Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and Kim Jong Il achieved?

Or are these absurd comparisons? True, no cruel punishments, no forced starvation, no mass killings are written into the scenario. The program wears a smiley face. Its authors, the rulers, wish only the happiness of all mankind.

Didn’t they all?

Jillian Becker    September 28, 2010

To eat or not to eat? 2

PART ONE.  ETHICAL EATING: THE THEORY

One of the latest fads of the elite who know what’s best for the rest of us is “ethical eating”.

The Financial Times recently carried a long article about it. Reviewing three books on the subject, the author, Simon Kuper, castigates us for eating beef, chicken, rice, and salad:

Suppose that you and your partner go out for dinner tonight. You order steak and salad while your partner has chicken with rice. Now inspect your plates. Your cow spent almost all its life in a shed, burping methane that heats the planet. It was then slaughtered, often incompetently: it may have been still alive when its head was skinned and its legs cut off. Your “salad”, doused in dressing, is really “fat with a little lettuce”.

Your partner’s chicken lived for six weeks, diseased and crammed so closely with other birds that it cracked several bones. After torture, came slaughter: the bird was shoved into a truck, taken to the slaughterhouse, and shackled upside down. It died screaming and excreting on itself in terror. The rice comes from plants bred by scientists in the 1960s. Both your meals are lathered in the extra fat, sugar, salt and chemicals to which you have become addicted. Enjoy your meal. …

“… if you’re self-indulgent and sadistic, and care not a whit for the planet”, is not said in as many words, but strongly implied.

The author goes on:

People are increasingly wondering whether they should enjoy today’s food.

Millions of animals experience horrible deaths after worse lives. Constantly sick, they give us our flu pandemics. They occupy and degrade nearly a third of the world’s land, use up and pollute water, and warm the planet. According to the United Nations [and who could possibly doubt them?], animal agriculture is the single biggest cause of climate change. It contributes 40 per cent more to global warming than all forms of transport combined…. Certainly, in rich countries, logic should impel us to close factory farms and turn meat back into a luxury food such as caviar and truffles, to be eaten on special occasions only. …

In the past [when the expectation of life was less than half what it is now, but let not that spoil the argument], “Americans typically chewed a mouthful of food as many as 25 times … now the average American chews only 10 times.” The industry has mastered what it calls “hedonics”: how to make food feel and taste delicious. The new food is also addictive, like drugs. … Many Americans now suffer from “conditioned hypereating”, wolfing down fat, sugar and salt as a habit.

Our betters despise us for that.

“Elites want elite foods,” the FT article asserts. “healthy ethical food.” Do they? Or do they just want the rest of us to eat saltless, unsweetened, undressed mouthfuls of hunted or gathered foods that need to be chewed 25 times?

This sort of moralizing is a great luxury. It should be classed with truffles and caviar.  At the same time, it’s all intensely puritan. The old puritans wanted to drain pleasure out of life for the good of your soul. The new puritans want to do the same for the good of your body.

Environmentalists go even further. They don’t want us to eat at all. The existence of the human race annoys them. We eat. We cook. We make things. Almost everything we do endangers the planet. The planet must be saved from us. For what? The animals, presumably.

Don’t they eat too?

Yes, but you see they’re good, we’re bad. We humans are a disgusting, cruel, greedy species that the earth and all the other creatures would be better off without.

They really do think this way.

If it were the obsession of a few madmen it would be merely a curiosity. But it is the settled opinion of thousand of our species, many of whom have the power to regulate our lives.

Since we cannot be eliminated, or not immediately, we must at least be regulated.

*

PART TWO.  HEALTHY EATING: GOVERNMENT STEPS IN

The solution that our betters propose to the “problem” of us eating what we like, is as always a collectivist one. Government should, say the food police, compel us to eat what it deems good for us, good for our health. Healthy eating by force. The new ethics.

This is from Canada Free Press, by David Pietrusza:

The Invisible Hand moves amber waves of grain from farm to factory to freezer.

We all get fed.

Until now.

This month, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand decided she would allocate another $1 billion the federal treasury on building 2,100 grocery stores nationwide. [Capitalism has been called ‘the incredible bread machine’. It works as long as it’s not interfered with. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand doesn’t know this, and wouldn’t believe or even understand it if it were spelled out for her.] She is an Obama mainstream kook. Her “Healthy Food Financing Initiative” is merely upping the ante on a proposal already found buried in Barack Obama’s 2011 budget to expend $345 billion on a similar fool’s errand.

The idea, if it may be termed that, is to provide grants and loans to fund groceries in so-called “food deserts,” areas “under-served” by the right kind of food emporia, those not providing “fresh” food and thereby fueling the national “obesity epidemic.” …

“By building new grocery stores in underserved areas across the state,” says Gillibrand, up for election this year, “we can give people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives, save billions in health care costs, and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.”

Getting specific, Gillibrand estimates that her act will “create” 26,000 of those “good-paying jobs.” It’s funny how expropriating money from the private sector to fund tin-horn politicians’s hobby-horses always “creates good-paying jobs.”

Much of the rationale for combating these alleged “food deserts” relies on data as bogus as the “facts” that support the current global warming (er, excuse me, “climate change”) hysteria. Michelle Obama [she who heads the food police] has recently contended that 23.5 million people—included 6.5 million children—now live in these “food deserts,” defined by Ms. Obama as “communities without a supermarket.” Oddly enough, many of these folks are not poverty-stricken. Some are quite well to do. And thanks to the genius of Henry Ford and American capitalism many of them still own cars, so living that distance from a supermarket, translates into driving a whole 4.5 minutes more to a supermarket. …

And that translates into another federal crisis — another federal program.

But beyond jobs and geography, there is health. There is always health, nowadays.

“This initiative,” contends Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Vasquez, “is about empowering families to make healthier food choices so they live longer.” [A  perfect example of Obamaspeak, that!]

Let’s see what happens when a government “empowers” people to make the choices it wants them to make.

*

PART THREE.  NO EATING: THE END ACHIEVED

One government that tries to make the people do what it knows is best for them is in North Korea.

How has Kim Jong-il’s food solution work out for the North Koreans? These extracts come from Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick :

Kim Jong-Il had taken an even harder line against individual enterprise than his father. “In a socialist society, even the food problem should be solved in a socialist way. Telling people to solve to solve the food problems on their own creates egotism among people,” he said in a December 1996 speech, one of the few in which he acknowledged the food crisis. Other than vegetables grown at home, food was not supposed to be sold on the market. To sell rice or any other grain was strictly forbidden; North Korea considered it illegal and immoral, a stab in the heart of Communist ideology. Any private endeavor fell under the rubric of “economic crime” and the penalties could include deportation to a labor camp, and, if corruption was alleged, possible execution.

North Korea started running out of food, and as people went hungry, they didn’t have the energy to work and so output plunged even further. The economy was in free fall…

All staples are grown on collective farms. The state confiscates the entire harvest … [As famine intensified] the North Korean government offered a variety of explanations, from the patently absurd to the barely plausible. People were told [for instance] that the United States had instituted a blockade against North Korea that was keeping out food …

Enduring hunger became part of one’s patriotic duty. …

How do you tell a mother her child needs more food when there is nothing more to give? Dr Kim would write out a slip admitting the child to the hospital, knowing she had no cure for this condition. The hospital didn’t have any food either

[Many] victims of the North Korean famine … did not go passively to their deaths. When the public distribution system was cut off, they were forced to tap their deepest wells of creativity to feed themselves. They devised traps out of buckets and string to catch small animal in the field, draped nets over their balconies to snare sparrows. They educated themselves in the nutritive properties of plants. … They stripped the sweet inner bark of pine trees to grind into a fine powder that could be used in place of flour. They pounded acorns into a gelatinous paste …

North Koreans learned to swallow their pride and hold their noses. They picked kernels of undigested corn out of the [old] excrement of farm animals. Shipyard workers developed a technique by which they scraped the bottoms of the cargo holds where food had been stored, then spread the foul-smelling gunk on the pavement to dry so that they could collect from it tiny grains of uncooked rice and other edibles.

If you got out to the mountains, you could maybe find dandelion or other weeds so tasty that people ate them even in good times. Occasionally, Mrs Song [one of the author’s sources] would find rotten cabbage leaves … She would take the day’s pickings home and mix it with whatever food she had enough money to buy. Usually it was ground cornmeal – the cheap kind made from the husks and cobs. If she couldn’t afford that, she would buy a still cheaper powder made out of the ground inner bark of the pine, sometimes extended with a little sawdust. … [Nothing] could disguise the god-awful taste. She had to pound away and chop endlessly to get the grasses and the barks into a soft-enough pulp to be digestible. … All she could make was a porridge that was flavorless and textureless. … a porridge mad out of bean and corn stalks … was bitter and dry, and stuck in her throat like the twigs of a bird’s nest…

In the year after Kim Il-sung’s death the only animal product she consumed was frog… North Korea’s frog population would soon be wiped out by overhunting. …

In a famine, people don’t necessarily starve to death. Often some other ailment gets them first. Chronic malnutrition impairs the body’s ability to fight infection and the hungry become increasingly susceptible to tuberculosis and typhoid. The starved body is too weak to metabolize anti-biotics, even if they are available, and normally curable illnesses suddenly become fatal. Wild fluctuations of body chemistry can trigger strokes and heart attacks…

The killer [starvation] has a natural progression. It goes first for the most vulnerable – children under five. They come down with a cold and it turns into pneumonia; diarrhea turns into dysentery. Before the parents even think about getting help, the child is dead. Next the killer turns to the aged … then makes its way through people in the prime of their lives. Men, because they have less body fat, usually perish before women. The strong and athletic are especially vulnerable because their metabolisms burn more calories…

The killer targets the most innocent, the people who would never steal food, lie, cheat, break the law, or betray a friend. …

By 1998, an estimated 600,000 people had died as a result of the famine, as much as 10 percent of the population. … Exact figures would be nearly impossible to tally since North Korean hospitals could not report starvation as a cause of death.

Between 1996 and 2005, North Korea would receive $2.4 billion worth of food aid, much of it from the United States… While big ships laden with donated grains from the U.N. World Food Programme started docking at Chongjin’s port in 1998, the relief was off-loaded into trucks by the military and driven away. Some food reached orphanages and kindergartens, but much of it ended up in military stockpiles or sold on the black market. …

Death was a virtual certainty for people who didn’t show some private initiative. A human being needs at least 500 calories per day on average to survive; a person subsisting on a diet of what could be foraged in the woods would not survive more than three months. …

Hyuck [a homeless boy] found a small and friendly stray [dog], wagging its tail as it followed him into his friend’s yard. Hyuck shut the gate behind them. He and his friend grabbed the animal and shoved it into a bucket of water, holding down the lid. [It took about ten minutes to die.] They skinned it and barbecued it. Dog meat was part of the traditional Korean diet, but Hyuck liked animals and felt bad, though not so bad that he didn’t try it again – although by mid 1996 dogs too were scarce. …

Among the homeless population, a disproportionate number were children or teenagers. In some cases, their parents had gone off in search of jobs or food. But there was another, even stranger, explanation. Facing a food shortage, many North Koreans families conducted a brutal triage of their own households – they denied themselves and often elderly grandparents food in order to keep the younger generation alive. That strategy produced an unusual number of orphans, as the children were often the last ones left of entire families that had perished…

In the first years of the food shortage, the children at the train station survived by begging food, but before long there were simply too many of them and too few people with food to spare…

When begging failed, the children … formed themselves into gangs to steal together …

It was a dangerous life… There were strange stories going around about adults who … would drug children, kill them, and butcher them for meat. Behind the station near the railroad tracks were vendors who cooked soup and noodles over small burners, and it was said that the grey chunks of meat floating in the broth were human flesh. …

The stories got more and more horrific. Supposedly, one father went so insane with hunger that he ate his own baby. … It does appear that there were at least two cases … in which people were arrested and executed for cannibalism…

Even without cannibals … the children couldn’t survive long on the streets…

People … spoke of the large number of bodies scattered around the station and on the trains …

At the station, employees from the cleaning staff regularly made round through the public areas, loading bodies onto a wooden handcart… Some days they removed as many as thirty bodies from the station…

Why doesn’t the government just leave us alone to live our lives?” the women at the [black] market would grumble among themselves.

THAT IS THE QUESTION.

The shaming of America 0

It looks increasingly probable that America’s long military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan are ending in failure and ignominy.

Bush’s surge succeeded. Iraq was won. It seemed at least possible that the country’s experiments with democracy might continue. But Obama has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. His premature withdrawal of American troops is bringing its logical consequence – a resurgence of terrorism and civil strife.

And his announcement that American forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan next summer works like an instruction to the Taliban merely to have patience and they’ll be left a clear field.

Frank Gaffney writes:

Back in February, Vice President Joseph Biden declared: “I am very optimistic about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration.”  Even for a politician much given to strategic ineptitude compounded by foot-in-mouth disease, that was a doozy.As has been pointed out innumerable times since, if Iraq turns out to be a truly “great achievement” in any ordinary sense of the word, Mr. Biden and Barack Obama – two of the most insistent opponents of George W. Bush’s efforts to consolidate Iraq’s liberation – are among the last people in Washington who should take such credit.

Worse yet, unfortunately for the Iraqi people and others who love freedom, it looks increasingly as though the Obama administration will have the loss of Iraq as one of its most signal accomplishments.

Three murderous suicide bombings in Baghdad over the weekend are but the latest indication of the renewed reality there: Those determined to use violence to destabilize the country, foment sectarian strife and shape Iraq’s destiny can do so with impunity.

The fact that the Iranian embassy was one of the targets suggests Sunni extremist groups – perhaps including the once-defeated al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) – are responsible for this round of attacks. Elsewhere in the country though, Shiite death squads that may or may not have ties to the pro-Iranian factions currently running the country are ruthlessly liquidating prominent tribal leaders and others associated with the movement in Anbar Province known as The Awakening. The latter were instrumental to the success of the U.S. surge and to the opportunity thus created for an Iraqi future vastly superior to its despotic and chaotic past.

Among the objects of the growing violence are individuals who stood for office in the recent parliamentary elections. This amounts to post facto disenfranchisement of the Iraqi voters whose turnout of over 60 percent – in the face of threats by anti-democratic forces that voting would be deemed a capital offense – powerfully testified to their desire to exercise the right enjoyed by no others in the Mideast except Israelis: to have a real say in their government and future.

Sadly, all other things being equal, that popular ambition seems unlikely to be realized. There is an unmistakable vacuum of power being created by President Obama’s determination to withdraw U.S. “combat” forces no matter what, starting with the cities a few months ago and in short order from the rest of the country.

Increasingly, that vacuum is being filled by Iran and its proxies on the one hand and, on the other, insurgent Sunni forces, both those aligned with al Qaeda and those that have, at least until recently, been suppressing the AQI. On what might be called the third hand, Iraqi Kurds are experiencing their own internal problems as well as an increasingly ill-concealed inclination to assert their independence from the rest of the country.

The signal of American abandonment was made the more palpable by Team Obama’s decision to dispatch Christopher Hill as its ambassador to Iraq. Hill is the diplomat best known for his determination during the Bush 43 years to appease, rather than thwart, the despot most closely enabling the realization of Iran’s nuclear ambitions: North Korea’s Kim Jong Il. The unreliability of the United States as an ally – a hallmark of the Obama presidency more generally – is reinforcing the sense that it is every man for himself in Iraq.

The prospects of any “great achievement” in Iraq are being further diminished by the direction to the Pentagon to shift personnel and equipment from Iraq to Afghanistan. The President himself reinforced that commitment during his speech to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base last week. The detailed planning and ponderous logistics associated with such a transfer increasingly foreclose options to change course. Our commanders will soon be hard pressed to preserve today’s deployments of American forces in Iraq, let alone to have them take up once again the sorts of positions in the urban areas that they held to such therapeutic effect during the surge.

The inadvisability of relocating U.S. forces from the strategically vital Iraqi theater to the marginal Afghan one is made all the greater by another grim prospect: The mounting evidence that our troops will be put in harm’s way in Afghanistan simply to preside over the surrender of that country to one strain of Shariah-adherent Taliban or another. There, too, President Obama has publicly promised to begin reversing his mini-surge by next summer, again irrespective of conditions on the ground. And his insistence on “engaging” at least some of those who allowed the country to be used as a launching pad for al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks augurs ill for the Afghan people (especially the female ones) – and for us. …

The repercussions of the Obama administration losing Iraq will cost us dearly in the future as adherents to Shariah around the world are reinforced in their conviction of that our defeat and submission is preordained. Even if, at the moment, we cannot fully comprehend the implications of such a perception, we will know from here on out whose “great achievement” precipitated the resulting horror for America and the rest of what was once the Free World.

Or was it just a Christmas card? 1

Obama has sent a letter to Kim Jong Il, the contents of which are not disclosed to the American people who pay the president to conduct their foreign relations. What on earth has he written? Does he imagine that something he says can suddenly transform the murderous little squirt who tyrannizes over North Korea into a nice reasonable guy who only wants the best for everyone?

Or does the letter ask for advice on how to attain absolute power?

From Investor’s Business Daily:

The fact is, Kim, while cunning in his pursuit of self-preservation, is a sociopath, a mass murderer of his own people, responsible for the death by famine and torture of as many as 3 million North Koreans. The idea that you can make a rational appeal to his moral conscience is, well, beyond silly. …

By some estimates Kim has killed 3.5 million people or more out of a population of 23 million. The murder toll includes children and infants. The deaths have come from starvation, beatings, torture and inhumane incarceration in hellish concentration camps.

It’s bad enough that we tolerate genocide. But someday soon, he — or his ally, Iran — will have the means to attack us. Just last week, a North Korean plane was detained in Bangkok carrying 35 tons of missiles, explosives and other weaponry. Where it was going, no one’s sure. No doubt we’ll send them a stern letter in rebuke.

Posted under Commentary, communism, Diplomacy, North Korea, Totalitarianism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Thursday, December 17, 2009

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Who are you calling insane? 0

As he indicated in his United Nations speech (co-written, rumor has it, by the Teletubbies), Obama wants to bring about the disarmament of all nuclear-armed and potentially nuclear-armed nations. He will disarm America first to set an example to the rest.

It’s a charming idea. Kim Jong-il and Ahmadinejad, who are acquiring nuclear weapons only to defend themselves against the fearsomely threatening United States,  will go all misty eyed when they see what Obama is doing, and hasten to do the same. The consequent scene of world-wide peace, love, caring, and big hugs will be such as to  soften and warm the hardest hearts.

From Ben Johnson at Front Page Magazine we learn who it is that the President relies on for advice to preach and set about realizing this sweet dream:

He and his advisers, most notably Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher, share the view that the United States must demonstrate sincerity by exposing itself to increased danger.

What qualifications does this Ellen Tauscher have, what experience that proves she may be trusted in matters of defense, in what circumstances did she find opportunity to look deep into the minds of dictators, tyrants, religious fanatics,  torturers, mass murderers, war lords, and holy warriors and see the teddy bear inside their rough exteriors, such that the President of the United States feels he may confidently rely on her advice?

Why, she has a degree in Early Childhood Education. She is qualified to be a pre-school teacher.

If this information doesn’t make you feel safe, you must be insane.

Posted under Commentary, Defense, government, Iran, jihad, North Korea, United Nations, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Monday, September 28, 2009

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US security will depend on the kindness of (evil) strangers 0

There is serious trouble ahead among the nations as a result of Obama putting away American power as he creates a weak, poor, socialist state out of what has long been the strongest and most successful country in history.

Mark Steyn comments accurately on Obama’s ever more disastrous foreign policy (read all of what he writes here):

You’ve got to figure that by now the world’s strongmen are getting the measure of the new Washington… The Europeans “negotiate” with Iran over its nukes for years, and, in the end, Iran gets the nukes, and Europe gets to feel good about itself for having sat across the table talking to no good purpose for the best part of a decade. In Moscow, there was a palpable triumphalism in the news that the Russians had succeeded in letting the Obama fellow have their way. “This [the breaking of the promise by the US to provide  anti-missile shields to Poland and the Czech Republic] is a recognition by the Americans of the rightness of our arguments about the reality of the threat or, rather, the lack of one,” said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma’s international affairs committee. “Finally the Americans have agreed with us.”

There’ll be a lot more of that in the years ahead.

There is no discreetly arranged “Russian concession.” Moscow has concluded that a nuclear Iran is in its national interest – especially if the remorseless nuclearization process itself is seen as a testament to Western weakness. Even if the Israelis are driven to bomb the thing to smithereens circa next spring, that, too, would only emphasize, by implicit comparison, American and European pusillanimity. Any private relief felt in the chancelleries of London and Paris would inevitably license a huge amount of public tut-tutting by this or that foreign minister about the Zionist Entity’s regrettable “disproportion.” The U.S. defense secretary is already on record as opposing an Israeli strike. If it happens, every thug state around the globe will understand the subtext – that, aside from a tiny strip of land [on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean], every other advanced society on earth is content to depend for its security on the kindness of strangers.

Some of them very strange. Kim Jong-il wouldn’t really let fly at South Korea or Japan, would he? Even if some quasi-Talibanny types wound up sitting on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, they wouldn’t really do anything with them, would they? OK, Putin can be a bit heavy-handed when dealing with Eastern Europe, and his definition of “Eastern” seems to stretch ever further west, but he’s not going to be sending the tanks back into Prague and Budapest, is he? I mean, c’mon …

Vladimir Putin is no longer president but he is de facto czar. And he thinks it’s past time to reconstitute the old empire – not formally (yet), but certainly as a sphere of influence from which the Yanks keep their distance. President Obama has just handed the Russians their biggest win since the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Indeed, in some ways it marks the restitching of the Iron Curtain. When the Czechs signed their end of the missile-defense deal in July, they found themselves afflicted by a sudden “technical difficulty” that halved their gas supply from Russia. The Europe Putin foresees will be one not only ever more energy-dependent on Moscow but security-dependent, too – in which every city is within range of missiles from Tehran and other crazies, and is, in effect, under the security umbrella of the new czar. As to whether such a Continent will be amicable to American interests, well, good luck with that, hopeychangers.

In a sense, the health care debate and the foreign policy debacle are two sides of the same coin: For Britain and other great powers, the decision to build a hugely expensive welfare state at home entailed inevitably a long retreat from responsibilities abroad, with a thousand small betrayals of peripheral allies along the way. A few years ago, the great scholar Bernard Lewis warned, during the debate on withdrawal from Iraq, that America risked being seen as “harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.” In Moscow and Tehran, on the one hand, and Warsaw and Prague, on the other, they’re drawing their own conclusions.

Creepy crawly Clintons 0

For years now North Korea has been hoping for direct talks with the US. By granting ex-president Clinton the release of two illegally held American journalists that he had to come and beg for, Kim Jong Il now gets just what he wanted. The one-on-one negotiations will legitimize the North Korean regime. (They ought to delegitimize the Obama presidency.)

Hillary Clinton lies about what happened. Is anyone taken in? Is anyone surprised?

From the New York Post

One week after North Korea released two imprisoned American journalists, the Obama administration announced its willingness yesterday to hold direct talks with the rogue nation over its nuclear weapons. “The ball is in their court,” said America’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, along with the rest of the administration, insisted that former President Bill Clinton’s trip to North Korea to secure the release of the two journalists was not a negotiation with the country, led by dictator Kim Jong Il, but she said she hoped it would improve relations with them. “What we’re hoping is that maybe, without it being part of the mission in any way, the fact that this was done will perhaps lead the North Koreans to recognize that they can have a positive relationship with us,” Secretary Clinton said on CNN’s “GPS.”

Posted under Commentary, communism, Defense, News, Totalitarianism, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, August 12, 2009

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