Watcher’s Business

This is a long one.  Last week’s winners, followed by this week’s posts, each of which has the obvious potential to be a winner.  First, from last week:

Winning Council Submissions

Winning Non-Council Submissions

And now, this week’s submissions, which I’m enjoying tremendously:

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

Doing business in California — NOT

[David Foster has again been kind enough to take seriously my request for guest blogger content. I wish more of you would. There's so much going on out there that, even if it weren't for my time constraints, I couldn't handle it all.]

A FOUNDRY SAYS FAREWELL

…to California.

For 60 years, Gregg Industries, a subsidiary of Neenah Enterprises, has run a foundry in a Los Angeles suburb. Employing 200 people, the foundry made components like engine and turbine casings, for companies like Honeywell and Caterpillar.

Last Wednesday, the plant closed down. It’s not because of a lack of business–the work will be moved to another Neenah facility, probably in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. Primary cause of the closure is continuing problems with local air quality regulators, who say the foundry violates standards on odor even after the expenditure of $3 million to mitigate the issue. But that’s not the only reason. “I think there are so many special interests in California, there is no common interest,” said Neehah CEO Bob Ostendorf. “It’s just a lot easier to do business on the electrical costs, lot easier to do business on the environmental costs, lot easier to do business on the quality of work-life costs (OSHA),” outside of California, he says. “I love the state, I love the people…but you sure as heck can’t do business here.”

Another company mentioned in the article is a much newer enterprise called Metalast, founded in 1993 and described as “a metal finishing company that has moved into “green” chemical solutions for companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing.” The writer observes that “these are exactly the kinds of jobs Governor Schwarzenegger has been touting as being California’s future.” But when Metalast wanted to expand and build, founder/CEO David Semas decided to move to Nevada. “Between taxes and traffic and just the bureaucratic red tape required to build a business or build a technology center, in California it would add three years to the process, as opposed to building the same kind of technical center here in Nevada.”

The Democrats talk a lot about saving “good manufacturing jobs,” but when it comes to maintaining an environment in which manufacturers can thrive, the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party–which now by far the dominant obstancle in that party–is usually the greatest obstacle.

I fear that the “progressives” are going to do to the country as a whole the same kind of damage hat has already been done to California.

link via ShopFloor

David Foster blogs at Photon Courier and also at Chicago Boyz.

Swine flu hits home — sort of *UPDATED*

Our school system is dealing with a very fluid situation, as information about the swine flu changes from minute to minute.  My sense, currently, is that it’s real, it’s out there, it’s spreading fast (as if it was November, not April) and, in the U.S., it’s not a very serious threat as compared to any other flu.  As to that last, it may be because our flu shots provide limited immunity; because we’re healthier than people in Mexico; because we have better medical care; because, being a combination of flus, we in America have already been exposed to part of it; or something else I haven’t thought of.

The school system’s current policy — today’s policy — is that any kids with any symptoms (headache, sniffles, cough, fever, vomiting) have to go home.  As you notice, the last two symptoms are significant in any event of something bad.  I don’t send a feverish or vomiting child to school.  Those middle two, though, are pretty significant right now because they’re precisely the same symptoms as your average April allergy.

My son always has sniffles from March through May.  His allergy symptoms have never been serious enough for me to medicate him.  They’re worse in the morning but, by the time he’s blown his nose and run around, they’re gone.  My laissez faire policy, however, bit me in the butt today.  The school, very politely, refuses to take my child until he’s symptom free — or until he has a note from his doctor.

He already saw the doctor early this week (“kids’ fine, no flu, maybe a slight cold and, definitely allergies”), but I didn’t get a note, because it didn’t occur to me to do so.  By today, however, the poor doctor is so overwhelmed, as is the entire system in which he works, that I can’t get a note.  Until then, I’ve stocked up on allergy meds.

As I said, the school is dealing with a fluid system, and I do believe in “better safe than sorry.”  Until we have more information about the flu’s reach and impact, the schools here are doing the right thing.  Having said that, I’ve got a sniffly, bored, and entirely healthy little boy at home, for the third day in a row, and neither of us is very happy.  I wonder how often this scenario is being played out, right now, across the U.S.  And although I’m situated so that I can manage having him home (I work at home, and am a second income, and I’m in a slow period of work anyway), I wonder how many other Moms and Dads are scrambling to deal with a healthy child at home.

UPDATE:  And the problem seems to be with Mexico, not with the flu.  That is, the flu is probably a mild one, but Mexico is unable to deal with it.

It’s all about Me, Me, Me

Lest you needed a reminder that, in his own mind, at least, Obama was crowned king for the world, and wasn’t simply elevated to an important public servant job, the Daily Mail tell us that he released 300 (300!) (300!!!) photos of himself to commemorate his first hundred days.  So you too, you lucky son of a gun, can watch Obama watch TV.  The thrills running down my leg are indescribable at this point.

Off the top of my head *UPDATED*

Sick kid, work, 200 backlogged real world emails — haven’t yet formed coherent thoughts based on this morning’s reading.  Having said that, I’m still thinking, and offer these off the top of my head paragraphs.

Arlen Specter’s re-labeling is meaningless.  He’s long been a RINO, and he’s merely aligning his party affiliation with his votes.  Some have commented that he looks terribly ill, so this may be akin to a deathbed conversion.  If he is indeed ill, I hope that whatever ails him resolves itself with the minimum of pain and inconvenience (and that is true whether he ultimately recovers or not).

I’m beginning to wonder about his whole swine flu thing, not least because it’s forcing me to keep a kid with an ordinary cold home from school.  If this were truly a serious epidemic, the first thing to do would be to close the borders (the official borders, at least) to Mexico for a couple of days, despite the potential economic hits.  Two days of a closed border, and closed flights, of course, is a lot less serious than America in thrall to a deathly epidemic.  The fact that Obama hasn’t done this tells me (a) he’s an idiot or (b) he knows something about the flu deaths in Mexico that we don’t know.  I think it’s (b), especially given that his first agenda item with regard to the flu was to push his socialized medicine plan, and that despite the fact that Mexico, the country in which people are dying, is a socialized medicine country.  [UPDATE:  And this just makes my point about Obama creating or using a created epidemic for his own ends.]

The most interesting thing I’ve heard about the flu is that, since new flus are combinations of viruses from old flus, it is entirely possible that Americans have had a version of this flu before, while the Mexicans haven’t.  That’s why we’re getting in but, so far (and thank God) not dying from it, while the Mexicans are very hard it.  Mexicans may also be dying, of course, because of that socialized medicine problem, but who knows?

As you may have noticed, Charles, at LGF, is waging quite the war with certain European and European oriented blogs, based on his contention that they are neo-nazis, because they comport with neo-nazis.  That got me to thinking about Europe and political extremism.

As I see it, one of the problems with Europe, and it’s an old problem, is that the Europeans, for all their wonderful old-world sophistication, are lousy at moderation.  Perhaps it’s because, if one ignores the Muslim outsiders, each European nation, aside from being geographically small compared to America, is pretty damn homogeneous and inclined to statism (either monarchical or parliamentary).  That means that these cultures can turn on a dime, and turn hard.

Big, noisy, genuinely multicultural, opinionated, individualist America is about as wieldy as a large ship.  Creating a mass movement is difficult (Obama mania notwithstanding, especially because a mere 53% of the popular vote means that the real mania is confined to the media).

The end result is that, when indigenous Europeans identify a parasite in their midst, whether a harmless Jew or a harmful, fully wired Islamist, these same Europeans go from 0-60 in seconds in terms of mounting a united offense.  Moderation gets by-passed, and they go into full “kill the alien” mode.  In America, at least before the dawn of a 24 hour a day lockstep media, that kind of swift movement is difficult to orchestrate.  There are too many competing voices, and there is (or, pre-media, was) too much land to cover.

Europe has also been in thrall to PC so long that the only ones who even squeaked about Muslim extremism were the extreme right organizations.  Now that the lumpen masses are starting to squeak, and the government is refusing to acknowledge that there may be validity to those squeaks, the only ones they can turn to are the pre-existing neo-nazi organizations.

All of which is to say that, once you make common cause with those Europeans who are worried about Islamists, you seem invariably to fall into bed with the neo-nazis.  The European moderates are still moving lumpenly through the PC mist, and only the extremists are reacting — and they’re doing so extremely.

I don’t know if I brought any clarity at all here, but I’m not sure that approving the fact that some Europeans have correctly identified a problem in their midst is the same as falling in, hook line and sinker, with the more extremist views of those same Europeans.  On the other hand, if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

And that’s off the top of my head.  Back at ya’ later.

UPDATE II:  One more thought for this hodge-podge.  Charles Johnson has pointed out that the Ron Paulians have infiltrated tea parties.  I don’t like the Ron Paulians because they make unabashed common cause with American neonazis who, in turn, are unabashedly proud of their violent racism and antisemitism.  However, I don’t think the fact that Ron Paulians — all of whom call themselves libertarians — are involved should taint the tea parties.

Genuine libertarianism, free from the icky Ron Paul taint, is very simple:  less government.  I think that the tea parties were a true, grass roots expression of classic libertarianism — American citizens rising up to oppose increased statism.  Certainly that was true in my neck of the woods, because I know many of the people who attended and they are true small government people who simply want less government interference, while maintaining a strong defense.  They are also pro-Israel and not racists in any way, shape or form.

The fact is, though, that Ron Paulians are everywhere, and it would be silly to imagine that they wouldn’t want to attend an event like the tea parties.

The thing is that, just because the crazies like it, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.  The goal is to limit the crazies to participating roles and make sure that they don’t get the power.  Essentially, we’re facing the flip side of what happened on the left, which is that a whole lot of good ideas (such as equal opportunities and treatment for blacks and women) got co-opted by the radical left, who turned these good ideas into identity politics and vehicles for the Communist idea of equal outcomes for all, as opposed to the American idea of equal opportunities.

UPDATE III:  I haven’t commented on PlaneGate, and really can’t add to what Power Line has to say.

UPDATE IV:  And I have to say that Michelle Malkin’s tribute to Obama’s 100 days is the must-read of the morning:

Come on, who’s surprised? The White House-engineered photo-op of low-flying Air Force aircraft that caused terror in New York City this week epitomizes the Age of Obama. What better way to mark 100 days in office than with an appalling exercise in pointless, taxpayer-funded stagecraft.

The superficiality, the unseriousness, the hubris, the obliviousness to post-9/11 realities: They were trademarks of the Obama campaign and they are the tattoos on his governance.

He never leaves home without his teleprompter. All the Obama world’s a stage. Or a world ready to be staged.

So, is it any wonder he would staff his White House Military Office with a clueless paper-pusher who saw nothing wrong with spending inordinate government resources – and recreating 9/11 havoc — to update Air Force One publicity shots? And who planned, believe it or not, to do the same in Washington, D.C., next month, where 53 passengers and 6 crew members on board American Airlines Flight 77, and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the Pentagon were murdered by the 9/11 jihadists?

All for some damned publicity shots.

No one should be shocked. Remember: Barack Obama is the frivolous man who concocted his own presidential-looking Great Seal before he was elected. An ego big enough to publicly display a ridiculous “Vero Possumus” (“Yes, we can” in Latin) motto and a regal eagle with the Obama campaign logo emblazoned on its chest is an ego capable of far more reckless things. Obama orchestrated a grand photo-op in Berlin, Germany, to declare his world citizenship at the Siegessäule Victory Column – a soaring monument of arrogance championed by Adolph Hitler and Third Reich architect Albert Speer. He manufactured his own Open Temple of The One in Denver for the Democratic National Convention last summer, replete with fake Greek columns.

Read the rest here.

Lucky Obama

October 2008:  McCain finally looks poised to lead in the polls, the market collapses and cool, calm, collected, Ivy League educated Obama vaults forward to victory.  April 2009:  It starts to look as if both the American public and Congress may be getting leery about Obama’s proposal to nationalize healthcare (i.e., have the government take control of America’s medical system) and the swine flu hits.  Obama has a plan:  “Hey, kids!  Let’s nationalize healthcare!”

Facts about epidemic funding in the U.S.

Michelle Malkin has caught on to the fact that the Left side of the blogosphere has a new meme:  they contend that, should there be a pandemic, it can be traced to the always evil GOP because Rove/Collins opposed flu pandemic funding in the porkulus bill.

The only problem with this is that it’s a lie.  As Michelle explains, it was good ol’ Chuck Schumer who opposed that funding.  Whoops!

But you all had better get this fact-duck neatly lined up, because I can guarantee you that this false argument isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

Even the earth is out to get Mexico

Questions swirl (a little bit) about whether the fatal swine flu plaguing Mexico is a “man-caused disaster” or just the run-of-the-mill Nature triumphs kind of thing.  There can be no doubt, however that the earthquake  that just struck is Nature’s little reminder that she is now, and always will be, in charge.
From Twitter’s breaking news:

  1. URGENT — People have been evacuated from buildings in Mexico City after a major 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck 100 miles away.

  2. BULLETIN — USGS UPGRADES EARTHQUAKE MAGNITUDE IN MEXICO TO 6.0.

  3. A moderate and shallow earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.6 has struck Guerrero, Mexico. No word on damage or casualties.

  4. BULLETIN — MEXICAN EARTHQUAKE HAD PRELIMINARY 5.6 TO 5.8 MAGNITUDE.

  5. A spokeswoman for the United States Geological Survey says an earthquake has rocked central Mexico; news agencies say “powerful” quake.

  6. BULLETIN — “POWERFUL” EARTHQUAKE SHAKES BUILDINGS IN MEXICO CITY, NEWS AGENCIES REPORT.

They loooove Obama

I can’t add anything to what brutally honest says here and Flopping Aces says here.  Obama love, as touted in the media, is a product of media love, while polls with over-the-top adulation for Obama are either push polls or polls in which the numbers are seriously skewed.

Okay, I can add something or, rather, Mark Twain (or maybe Benjamin Disraeli) can:  “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

Swine flu and the new administration

Here are a few tweets from minutes and hours ago, almost all concerned with swine flu (culled from BNO news at 5:49 PST on 4/26):

  1. California school closed as officials investigate suspected swine flu case; second case being investigated in Ohio: http://adjix.com/axm7

  2. Kyodo: Government expects Japan’s economy to shrink postwar worst 3.3% in FY 2009.

  3. Authorities investigate eleven possible swine flu cases in Colombia and Minister Palacio says the government is on high alert – local media.

  4. JUST IN — Local authorities say that 6 more people have died from suspected swine flu in Mexico, which would raise the death toll to 92.

  5. Two people have been taken to an hospital in Queensland, Australia with swine flu symptoms, Sky News Australia reports.

  6. Medical staff has been dispatched to Auckland Airport and all passengers from the Americas are being screened before entry into the country.

  7. The New Zealand Ministry of Health says another student, suspected to have been infected with swine flu, has been hospitalized.

  8. Reuters: Exit poll says Ecuador’s president Correa re-elected with 54 percent of the vote.

  9. NEWS ALERT — NY Gov. David Paterson is holding a news conference regarding the swine flu epidemic. @mpoppel is covering it live.

  10. Texas officials say they have found a number of additional suspected swine flu cases. The 14 closures will take effect immediately.

  11. KSAT-TV: Texas closes 14 schools and district facilities in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District due to swine flu.

Here’s the problem with that oh-so-efficient Obama administration:

The Obama administration declared a “public health emergency” Sunday to confront the swine flu — but is heading into its first medical outbreak without a secretary of Health and Human Services or appointees in any of the department’s 19 key posts.

And here’s Obama’s response to the whole thing:

President Obama went golfing and the Department of Health and Human Services is short a secretary, so other U.S. officials took the controls Sunday as the Obama administration ramps up efforts to find and isolate U.S. cases of swine flu.

As the Watcher of Weasels points out, Obama’s getting a pass on this cavalier attitude from precisely the same people who still, to this day, castigate George Bush for having the presence of mind not to run screaming from a room full of elementary school children when he first heard about the Twin Towers.  (The Watcher points out a whole lot more stuff that’s worth reading on this topic, too.)  There’s a difference between no panicking people (George Bush) and not caring (Obama).

Obama may be right up there with God, but I’m not feeling very good about having his administration in charge right now.

Dalai Lama — as good and stupid as Gandhi

The Dalai Lama spoke today in Berkeley, and reminded me strongly of Gandhi.  This was Gandhi’s approach to the Nazis, as expressed to the English (who were, you remember, the nation against which he was rebelling):

“I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity.  You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. . . .   If these gentlemen [a word Gandhi apparently used without irony] choose to occupy your homes you will vacate them.  If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them”  (Non-Violence in Peace and War.)

As an interesting historical aside, it appears there was a lot more talk than action behind Gandhi’s non-violence stance, and he seemed to preach it most aggressively to those whom he disliked and who happened to be in the Nazi line of fire.  Nevertheless, he is the standard bearer for the coffee klatch approach to dictatorships, which is that one should just walk into their lair for some peaceful chit-chat, after which everything will be well.

Of course, Hitler walked all over countries (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium) and peoples (Jews, Gypsy’s, homosexuals) who hadn’t done a damn thing to him and who had been strikingly non-violent.  He did it because he could.  Nonviolence against someone determined to be violent works only when you negotiate from a position of peace.  The wagging tail is great when you can back it up with sharp teeth.  Otherwise, you’re just a victim in the making.

Turns out the revered Dalai Lama espouses the same view as Gandhi:

The Dalai Lama told a standing room only crowd of some 7,000 at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on Saturday that peace and nuclear disarmament can be accomplished if only the world’s leaders could talk to one another in a compassionate and understanding way.

The exiled spiritual leader of Buddhist Tibet chose the university where the Free Speech Movement began more than 40 years ago to endorse President Obama’s philosophy of establishing dialogue, even with reviled world leaders.

“We must promote dialogue with full respect and consideration of others’ interests,” said the world’s best known Buddhist as he sat cross-legged in a maroon robe on a cushy chair placed atop a platform covered by a rug, presumably Tibetan.

Unsurprisingly, the DL managed to be exceptionally nasty about George Bush, ostensibly praising him and then slapping him ungraciously across the face:

“As a human being, very nice person,” the Dalai Lama said, “but not, like, a great leader or good politician.”

I think the DL will be surprised when he discovers that Obama’s kissy-face across the table from the Chinese, rather than bringing in a new era of love and sunshine, will see a resurgent China, more determined than ever to stomp on the DL’s beloved Tibet.

The DL also showed himself to be no student of human nature:

“Everybody, including animals, want peace. It is clear,” he said. “Our long-term goal should be a more compassionate humanity.”

So untrue. As studies show, war appears to be hard wired into human beings. (See, for example, Nicholas Wade’s Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors.)  People do want peace, but only on their terms. Also, some people actually crave warfare — the excitement, the power, the volatility, the clarity, etc.

Lucky Chinese. Their avowed enemy, the one who goes around the world opposing them, is an idiot preaching the approach most likely to defeat his own interest.

Roxana Saberi

One of the things I periodically try to do at this blog is get away from political labels and focus on the core difference between governments:  lots of government control versus less government control.  I prefer the latter, although I’m not foolish enough to crave absolute anarchy.  Iran is an example of the former, as filtered through a theocratic mold.

The latest outrage (for those keeping count) is Iran’s decision to sentence American journalist Roxana Saberi to 8 years in an Iranian prison for “espionage.”  So far, the Obama government has been almost completely silent about this attack on an American citizen, but I’d like to think that the administration is working diligently behind the scenes to secure her release.

Until then, it’s up to us, the public, to make a noise about Roxana.  Michelle Malkin is sponsoring a blog burst as part of that noise, so considering me a little pop and fizzle aimed to highlighting how one of the ultimate statist regimes in the world treats people unlucky enough to fall into disfavor while in its ambit.  Realize, too, that once it acquires nuclear weapons, its disapproving ambit expands exponentially.

Torture, real and imagined

Paul Begala wrote an article at HuffPo contending that, following WWII, Americans executed Japanese as war criminals for water-boarding.  While I’m certainly willing to concede that water-based tortures numbered amongst the myriad tortures the Japanese used against POWs, it is absolutely ridiculous to believe that these Japanese soldiers were executed because of the water tortures.  In the grand scheme of things, that was nothing.

One of the Anchoress‘ readers forwarded to her a letter someone wrote (maybe as a comment to Begala’s own article) pointing out that actual historical documents put the lie to Begala’s claims:

Good Afternoon,

I have spent the better part of the morning reviewing the International Military Tribunal for the Far East’s indictment, trial, some testimony, the  sentences and the execution of sentences, e.g.; the Tokyo Trials.

What inspired me to get into looking at the charges and subsequent trial and eventual execution, was former Clinton hack and current Obama insider who manipulates information on CNN, Paul Begalia’s recent claim  that we executed individuals for waterboarding in 1948.  Here is Begalia’s recent column, note that he does not name who it is that we purportedly executed for this “crime”:

Yes, National Review, We Did Execute Japanese for Waterboardin

Instead of a mainstream publication, Mr. Begalia chose to go to a far left extremist publication, the Huffingtion Post, which shows the level of their journalistic skills, and what their reputation should be….I mean, if I can find this information in a few hours, so should any journalist be able to uncover Mr. Begalia’s lies, but I digress.

Begalia on CNN the other evening while discussing the alleged “atrocities” by the Bush Administration with former White House Spokesman Ari Fleicsher, stated that we had executed members of the Imperial Japanese Army for waterboarding, or water torture.  Fleischer called him on it, stating that he believed that Begalia has his “history mangled” and later, the National Review called him to task, believing that Begalia was referencing Yukio Asano, who was convicted of torturing Fliipinos by tying them to stretchers and drowning them, as well as burning them with cigarettes.  Mr. Asano was sentenced to fifteen years hard labor, and this sentence was hardly for waterboarding.

Begalia then goes into some song and dance, naming individuals who I have personally never heard of, that claims we did in fact execute indivuals for waterboarding.

Thankfully, Yale University has an excellent web site called the Avalon Project, which lists all of the documents, transcripts and pleadings from both the Nuremberg Trials and the Tokyo Trials.

Here is the actual Indictment:

There were seven individuals who were executed for war crimes stemming from the International Military Tribunal for the Far East:

General Doihara Kenji, spy (later Air Force commander) Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36, and 54

Baron Hirota Koki, foreign minister Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54 and 55,

General Itagaki Seishiro, war minister , Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36 and 54

General Kimura Heitaro, commander, Burma  Expeditionary Force Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54 and 55

General Matsui Iwane, commander, Shanghai Expeditionary Force found guilty of class B and C war crimes; e.g.; for his participation in the atrocities committed at Nanking.

General Muto Akira, commander, Philippines Expeditionary Force Convicted of Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54 and 55.

General Tojo Hideki, commander, Kwantung Army (later prime minister) Convicted of Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54 and 55

http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/International_Military_Tribunal_for_the_Far_East_-_Sentences/id/1508175

http://www.trial-ch.org/en/trial-watch/profile/db/facts/akira_muto_82.html

None of these individuals were convicted for “waterboarding”!!   Although  some of the Defendants were convicted of Count 55, which was failing to observe and protect prisoners of war from the Allied forces as per the laws and customs of war, it is a far far, downright impossible stretch to conclude that any of the Generals who were convicted and hung were convicted and executed because of their involvement in anything that remotely resembles modern day waterboarding!

Do you think Mr. Begalia will offer an apology for his lie?  Do you think anyone from mainstream media will call Mr. Begalia to task for his lie?

I think not.

Shame on you Paul Begala!!

Keith In Tampa

In other words, while water-boarding might have been in these individuals’ repertoire, it was not the sum total of their acts.

As for me, I have my own reasons for doubting Begala’s history. My Mom was a 17 year old Dutch citizen living in Indonesia when Pearl Harbor took place. What a lot of people forget is that, after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese didn’t just take the Philippines, they also swept over Malaysia and Indonesia. My Mom ended up being interned for the duration of the war. She was shipped from camp to camp.

For reasons I don’t understand, the conditions the Dutch experienced were much worse than those that the American civilians experienced in the Philippines. The camp leaders treated these civilians with unimaginable brutality. This was separate from the “ordinary” horrors of disease and starvation.

The routine torture (that is, one that happened on more than one occasion) that lingers with my Mom, the one that still gives her nightmares so many years after the war, is when the prisoners were collectively punished by being made to stand for 24 hours in the tropical sun, without food, without water, without bathroom breaks — indeed, without any breaks at all. The weak, the sick and the elderly died where they stood. The survivors carried the memories. Her best friend’s father, imprisoned in a men’s camp, was beheaded for some infraction. This was routine.

There was one commandant who was worse than the rest. According to my mother, he had “moon madness,” and every month he went crazy and embarked on his own round of random torture directed against the women and children under his command. My Mom won’t even talk about what he did.

I mention all this to make a point: Of all these Japanese prison commanders who routinely inflicted the most horrible tortures on the Dutch civilians in their charge, the guy with the moon madness was the only one executed after the war. Just knowing that fact makes Paul Begala’s assertions absolutely ridiculous on their face.

Incidentally, if you’re interested in an incredible novel about the civilian experience under the Japanese during WWII, I highly recommend Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice. Although it’s ostensibly about an English woman in Malaya, it’s actually based upon the true story of a Dutch woman in Indonesia.

All of this brings me to one more point about whether something is “torture” or not.  In a psychiatric, self-actualized, self-realized, navel gazing world, torture can be anything that makes you unhappy.

Many years ago, Wendy Kaminer wrote a wonderful book called I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help, in which she pointed out that psychiatry, especially pop psychiatry, needs psychic pain in order to exist. Without in any way denigrating psychiatry’s usefulness, Kaminer points out that its spread through popular culture in the 1970s resulted in a leveling, with all pains being equal.  She noted that women who had escaped Cambodia’s killing fields and women dealing with suburban angst were treated as sufferers of exactly the same magnitude in pop culture parlance.  Both felt pain, therefore both were victims and both deserved precisely the same amount of sympathy.

With this kind of leveling (a leveling, that incidentally takes place at the opposite end of the spectrum, where an athlete or actor is accorded “hero,” rather than merely “star,” status), how in the world can our culture reasonably differentiate between true torture, which is the infliction of immense physical or emotional pain, and mere high stress infliction, against self-styled warriors who have taken upon themselves the task of killing our own citizens in the hundreds, thousands or even millions?  If someone is made unhappy, it must be torture, right?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Drudge headlines that do not make me happy *UPDATED*

I just copied the following from Drudge:

Possible Swine Flu Outbreak At NYC Prep School…
Most fatal flu victims aged between 25-45…
Swine flu could infect trade and travel…
Schwarzenegger has ‘rigorous’ plan…
WHO ready with antivirals…
The mysterious respiratory illness…
CDC says too late to contain…
60 DEAD: Mexico City launches huge vaccination campaign…
CLOSE TO 1,000 SUSPECTED CASES…
Heighten Risk of Pandemic…
Concerns in California, Texas…
Mutated from pigs, transmitted to humans…
Mexico has not suffered serious flu epidemic before…

Considering the last headline, and considering that flu epidemics have always originated in the Far East, my conspiracy mind thinks only one thing:  Al Qaeda/biological warfare on our borders.

UPDATE:  And if you want more stress, Laer has more for you.

Obama administration targets the real enemy

For those who were worried that Obama would not know how to fight, if necessary, and would always cry craven, you can set those doubts aside.  It turns out that Obama not only knows how to fight, he knows how to fight dirty.  This can be useful — UNLESS YOUR PRESIDENT DECIDES THAT THE ENEMY IS HIS OWN MILITARY!

We’ve already seen the financial phase of this assault with the only cuts in Obama’s multi-trillion dollar plan being aimed at the military, despite the fact that our military is fighting a hot war on two fronts and a cold war on all fronts.  Now, in response to ACLU demand for more “torture” photographs, the military CIC, instead of challenging a request that is sure to turn American military personnel into Islamist targets worldwide, President Obama happily obliged.

Steve Schippert is livid:

The photos are not egregious. Not even rising to the level of panties on heads. But no matter. The assault is on. And your president — your Commander in Chief — supports it.

The release of these images serves no practical purpose, except perhaps for “enhanced prosecution techniques” against our own. Understand clearly that the purpose of the release — and the Obama administration’s decision to do so willingly if not energetically — is to denigrate the American Warrior and to further the assault on the American psyche.

Those we were detaining (rather than summarily executing in the field, mind you) were being locked away at a time when beheadings were commonplace, men were being killed by slowly lowering them into 55-gallon drums of acid, and teens refusing to join al-Qaeda in Iraq were being crucified — literally crucified — in the public square and given just enough water to keep them alive and their public suffering great enough to serve as AQ’s example to the rest. The children of resistant families were baked in ovens, folks.

[snip]

This has me so angry I’m practically spitting out my own teeth. I’ve had enough. Apologizing to Europe and the Muslim world for America, the warm reception of Chavez, blaming America for Mexican drug cartels’ murderous rampages, and the threat of prosecuting Bush administration officials because of their legal opinions on what does and does not constitute torture.

And now, the American warrior class is openly and clearly in the crosshairs in a media campaign to denigrate them and cast dishonor upon them and, once again, America.

The aim of the release is to assault America in the court of public opinion, using the wholly owned media PR subsidiary as the armored assault vehicle. And the administration, through its acquiescence, is at minimum enabling this, choosing consciously to end the public defense of the American warrior class and its very legacy. Perhaps the administration is acting with willful disregard for them by taking direction from the ACLU/Soros/Moveon.org hard Left in a form of electoral quid pro quo. At worst, the administration is directly aligned with them and acting in concert rather than taking direction from them.

Even those who are not spitting out their own teeth are deeply upset by the President’s willingness to paint a giant target on the backs of his own troops. Bruce Kesler, writing with blue heat, not red hot white heat, also shudders at the dangers to which Obama exposes a military that, unlike all other militaries in the world (except, perhaps Israel’s), goes to extraordinary lengths to treat its enemies with humanity:

So, there we are, tortured for the past six years by tendentious and selfish attacks from within upon our ability to withstand and overcome tenacious, brutal and serious attacks from without.Now, due to the Obama administration’s irresponsibility, we face at least three more years of torture, of undue agony, that fruitlessly weakens our unity and resolve and exposes us all to potentially greater physical threats to our well-being and very lives. Our troops on the frontline are not bemused by this Obama administration recklessness with their safety and missions, nor should be the rest of us placed closer to frontline dangers as our intelligence professionals seek cover by retreating from their duties.

Others upset about this including the NoisyRoom, Kim Priestap at Wizbang, Brutally Honest, and Pierre LeGrand.

Welcome to statism

Americans should be forced to read British newspapers every day, because it gives them an insight into the world of abasement to Muslims, big government and managed care.  Today’s horror story is one in which a senile old lady was snatched from her daughter’s loving care.  You can also read about the British government’s ongoing war against the Gurkhas, something that completely baffles me.  The Brits cravenly allow every two bit, anti-Western, misogynistic, homophobic, antisemitic Islamist into the country, but resolutely refuse to provide a home for those Gurkhas who were willing to fight and die for Britain.

An important article from Bruce Bawer

As you may recall, I was very enthusiastic about  pushed Bruce Bawer’s book While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. I’m now equally enthusiastic about his City Journal article (now published in the Wall Street Journal), about the way Europe is trending right as a response to the damage caused by decades of unlimited Muslim immigration and socialist economics:

The past few decades in Europe have made three things crystal-clear. First, social-democratic welfare systems work best, to the extent they do work, in ethnically and culturally homogeneous (and preferably small) nations whose citizens, viewing one another as members of an extended family, are loath to exploit government provisions for the needy. Second, the best way to destroy such welfare systems is to take in large numbers of immigrants from poor, oppressive and corruption-ridden societies, whose rule of the road is to grab everything you can get your hands on. And third, the system will be wiped out even faster if many of those immigrants are fundamentalist Muslims who view bankrupting the West as a contribution to jihad. Add to all this the growing power of an unelected European Union bureaucracy that has encouraged Muslim immigration and taken steps to punish criticism of it—criminalizing “incitement of racism, xenophobia or hatred against a racial, ethnic or religious group” in 2007, for example—and you can start to understand why Western Europeans who prize their freedoms are resisting the so-called leadership of their see-no-evil elites.

Ironic, isn’t it, that, as Europe finally learns the error of its ways, Obama is dragging America, willy-nilly, in those failed directions?

The Year Zero on the Obama calendar

From Rich Lowry:

The calendar says Pres. Barack Obama took office in 2009, although that’s only a technicality. In his own mind, Obama ascended in Year Zero, a time of ritualistic cleansing in preparation for the relaunching of an America free from its past sins.

Has an American president ever appeared less vested in his nation’s history than Barack Obama? He shrugged off a rancid attack on the United States by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega at the Summit of the Americas, including a rant on the Bay of Pigs operation in 1961, by saying he’d only been 3 months old at the time. Nothing to do with me.

It’s Obama’s own personal novus ordo seclorum. Or as an Obama official put it, “His expectation is that these debates of the past can remain that, debates of the past.”