Quote of the day: Mark Steyn on Arizona

April 30, 2010

The inimitable Mark Steyn on Mayor Gavin Newsom’s  boycott of Arizona, ordered in a moment of self-righteous grandstanding response to the Zonies’  new immigration law:

All official visits to Arizona have been canceled indefinitely. You couldn’t get sanctions like these imposed at the U.N. Security Council, but then, unlike Arizona, Iran is not a universally reviled pariah. Will a full-scale economic embargo devastate the Copper State? Who knows? It’s not clear to me what San Francisco imports from Arizona. Chaps?

Three points, nothing but net.  Rolling on the floor


A tremendous insult to women

April 29, 2010

I know it shouldn’t, but this just leaves me flabbergasted: the UN has elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women:

Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged “immodest.”

Just days after Iran abandoned a high-profile bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, it began a covert campaign to claim a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women,” according to its website.

Buried 2,000 words deep in a U.N. press release distributed Wednesday on the filling of “vacancies in subsidiary bodies,” was the stark announcement: Iran, along with representatives from 10 other nations, was “elected by acclamation,” meaning that no open vote was requested or required by any member states — including the United States.

No state that implements sharia law should be anywhere near anything resembling a human rights body, especially one concerned with women. Iran is one of the worst. Women are brutally repressed in Iran: they face death by stoning; their political and legal rights are severely restricted; they face rape in prison by government officials; and they are even gunned down in the streets.

And almost as appalling is that the United States didn’t speak out against this travesty. Yet another glorious moment in the history of Smart Power.

LINKS: More at Hot Air. And thanks to Liberty Pundits for the link!

UPDATE: Allahpundit quotes this at the Hot Air link, but it’s worth posting here, too. Jennifer Rubin on Obama’s pusillanimous diplomacy:

The U.S. couldn’t muster a word of opposition — not even call for a vote. That would be because . . . why? Because our policy is not to confront and challenge the brutal regime for which rape and discrimination are institutionalized policies. No, rather, we are in the business of trying to ingratiate ourselves, and making the U.S. as inoffensive as possible to the world’s thugocracies.


By Obama, you’ve made enough money!

April 29, 2010

Wrapped up as I was in the desperate efforts to protect the President from terrorist grannies, I missed this gem from his speech in Quincy, Illinois:

Excerpt via Ed at Hot Air:

We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.

That was not in his prepared remarks, and I’m sure TOTUS wasn’t happy.

Is there any clearer expression of the statism at the heart of this administration? Not only do Obama and the (Social) Democrats claim the power and the requisite wisdom to regulate broad swathes of the economy, but the President himself claims to know better than you when you’ve earned enough money, beyond which, we assume, one enters the realm of “unfair.”

It also shows (again) that he just doesn’t “get” capitalism or market economies. The promise of possibly earning more money is what encourages people to start a business, hire more people (Remember jobs, Mr. President?), and take risks. That incentive system, coupled with a relative lack of government interference,  is why our economy has been phenomenally successful. By saying “you’ve made enough,” you take away any incentive for people to work harder. Why should I or anyone risk capital in an investment, or take a job that eats up most of my time, if you are going to tell us we can only make so much from it? What’s next, wage and price controls a la Diocletian and Nixon?

And the arrogance! That a man who has never worked in private business, whose whole adult life has been in academics, non-profit, and government work should think that he knows how much a businessman or an investor should make in return for their effort and risk? A man who knows next to nothing about economics? How is this even in Washington’s purview?

How about trying to do the jobs the federal government is assigned, rather than everything it isn’t?


Riot police called out to crush dangerous right-wing extremists!

April 28, 2010

It was horrible. Our savior, President Obama Lightworker, was visiting Quincy, Illinois, to reinforce that feeling of hope and change among the desperate people of western Illinois, when he was confronted by a vicious mob of racist, hate-filled Tea Partiers! Quincy authorities did what they had to do to protect the President from a mortal threat, sending the riot squad to contain hordes of savage little old ladies who…. Wait a minute…

Little old ladies?

Yeah, they look plenty violent to me. Nailbiting

Jim Hoft has the story and more pictures.

Methinks the Quincy PD beclowned itself.  Clown

LINKS: And Allahpundit has glorious video.


Suntans cause earthquakes, too?

April 28, 2010

Well, the connection hasn’t been drawn directly, but it can’t be far off; Iran has announced it will begin arresting women for being suntanned:

Suntanned women to be arrested under Islamic dress code


Iran has warned suntanned women and girls who looked like “walking mannequins” will be arrested as part of a new drive to enforce the Islamic dress code.

Brig Hossien Sajedinia, Tehran’s police chief, said a national crackdown on opposition sympathisers would be extended to women who have been deemed to be violating the spirit of Islamic laws. He said: “The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social misbehaviour by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values. In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins.

“We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them.”

Just think: tanning salons in Iran could be their version of Prohibition-era speakeasies: “Psst! Hey, bud! You know where a girl can get a good tan in this town?”

All kidding aside, this is another, albeit small, example of Islamic misogyny and how the woman is made responsible for the man’s sexual behavior.

LINKS: Don Surber looks at the politics of tanning in the US; The Jawa Report.


Sowell: slavery, distorted history, and filtered facts

April 27, 2010

At Real Clear Politics, a curious incident leads Thomas Sowell to think about how the history of slavery is taught, and how its one-sided presentation leads to the wrong lessons:

Just as Europeans enslaved Africans, North Africans enslaved Europeans– more Europeans than there were Africans enslaved in the United States and in the 13 colonies from which it was formed.

The treatment of white galley slaves was even worse than the treatment of black slaves picking cotton. But there are no movies or television dramas about it comparable to “Roots,” and our schools and colleges don’t pound it into the heads of students.

The inhumanity of human beings toward other human beings is not a new story, much less a local story. There is no need to hide it, because there are lessons we can learn from it. But there is also no need to distort it, so that sins of the whole human species around the world are presented as special defects of “our society” or the sins of a particular race.

If American society and Western civilization are different from other societies and civilization, it is that they eventually turned against slavery, and stamped it out, at a time when non-Western societies around the world were still maintaining slavery and resisting Western pressures to end slavery, including in some cases armed resistance.

Only the fact that the West had more firepower than others put an end to slavery in many non-Western societies during the age of Western imperialism. Yet today there are Americans who have gone to Africa to apologize for slavery– on a continent where slavery has still not been completely ended, to this very moment.

Sowell argues that those teaching only one aspect of the story of slavery, how America enslaved Africans, for example, are doing so because they have an agenda: the derogation and slighting of the civilization in which they live. They also miss the real story, that of the dangers inherent in letting one group of people have unconstrained power over another.

And thus they do their students no favors.


Aussie PM comes to his senses, ditches cap-and-trade

April 27, 2010

No, not because he realized anthropogenic global warming is a fraud and a farce. It is, after all, the great moral imperative of our time (said the noted ear-wax eater). Rather, he shelved the bill because he realized he couldn’t forcve the bill through in the face of firm opposition:

AFTER months of avoiding even mentioning an emissions trading scheme Kevin Rudd has formally dumped Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme until at least after the next election, and possibly the one after that.

After months of refusing to defend or promote the answer to the greatest moral and economic challenge “of our time” or to propose an alternative the Prime Minister has simply put it off as an inconvenient political truth and tried to blame the Coalition and the Greens for obstruction in the Senate.

It was an odd coalition: the Liberal-National alliance opposed plan on skeptical grounds, while the Greens thought it didn’t go far enough. Regardless, the effect was to block a scheme on which Canberra had already wasted hundreds of millions and would cripple large portions of the Australian economy if implemented.

No matter how it came about, I call that a win for good policy and common sense. Let’s hope President Obama meets similar success in our own Senate as the Democrats’ cap-and-trade legislation is brought to the floor.

(via WUWT)


Wait. Wasn’t this supposed to be the post-racial presidency?

April 27, 2010

Then why is President Obama appealing to voters by citing their ethnicity? Oh, and their age demographic and gender, too?

I guess Jim Geraghty should add this to his comprehensive list of Obama promises that have expiration dates.

Jennifer Rubin provides this analysis:

Several things are noteworthy. First, so much for the post-racial presidency. We are back to naked pleas for racial solidarity. This comes from a man who told us that there were no Blue States or Red States, and that we should stop carving up the electorate into ethnic and racial groups. It was moving and appropriate and now it’s inoperative.

Second, this also suggests that just about everyone else in the electorate is a lost cause — whites, men, independents, and older voters. The Obama coalition has fractured — a little later than Hillary Clinton predicted, but it has. It seems he is reduced to the core left, not a recipe for successful governance or re-election.

Click though to see why she thinks this means the Democrats may be in big trouble in November.

Of course, appealing to voters on the basis of what we now call “identity groups” is nothing new in our history and, as recently as 2004, John Kerry was nakedly pandering to Catholic voters on the basis of shared identity. But it’s something I’ve always found offensive and self-betraying in a nation founded on political principle (often honored in the breach, but, nonetheless).

And it’s doubly so coming from Barack Obama. He is President of the United States and Chief of State – of the entire State. For him to toss aside all the eloquent words (“Just words.”) he said about getting beyond those things that divide us and to make a blatant appeal for votes based on those same divisions is cynical beyond belief.

It’s also desperate.

(via Fausta)

LINKS: More from Sister Toldjah.


They really do think we’re that stupid

April 26, 2010

Late last week, I started seeing commercials from General Government Motors announcing to the world that GM had paid off its government loan – early and with interest. I thought that was good news, a sign that the company was recovering, jobs would be saved, and the government could unwind the majority ownership stake it had taken in the company.

Then the other shoe dropped and I realized we were being played for suckers:

Uncle Sam gave GM $49.5 billion last summer in aid to finance its bankruptcy. (If it hadn’t, the company, which couldn’t raise this kind of money from private lenders, would have been forced into liquidation, its assets sold for scrap.) So when Mr. Whitacre publishes a column with the headline, “The GM Bailout: Paid Back in Full,” most ordinary mortals unfamiliar with bailout minutia would assume that he is alluding to the entire $49.5 billion. That, however, is far from the case.

Because a loan of such a huge amount would have been politically controversial, the Obama administration handed GM only $6.7 billion as a pure loan. (It asked for only a 7% interest rate–a very sweet deal considering that GM bonds at that time were trading below junk level.) The vast bulk of the bailout money was transferred to GM through the purchase of 60.8% equity stake in the company–arguably an even worse deal for taxpayers than the loan, given that the equity position requires them to bear the risk of the investment without any guaranteed return. (The Canadian government likewise gave GM $1.4 billion as a pure loan, and another $8.1 billion for an 11.7% equity stake. The U.S. and Canadian government together own 72.5% of the company.)

But when Mr. Whitacre says GM has paid back the bailout money in full, he means not the entire $49.5 billion–the loan and the equity. In fact, he avoids all mention of that figure in his column. He means only the $6.7 billion loan amount.

But wait! Even that’s not the full story given that GM, which has not yet broken even, much less turned a profit, can’t pay even this puny amount from its own earnings.

So how is it paying it?

As it turns out, the Obama administration put $13.4 billion of the aid money as “working capital” in an escrow account when the company was in bankruptcy. The company is using this escrow money–government money–to pay back the government loan.

In other words, they used their Visa to pay off their American (Taxpayer) Express. Pardon my language, but this is bullshit.

The American people are still bailing out a company that should have been allowed to go bankrupt, the US and Canada still own nearly three-fourths of the company, and not a dime has been repaid. All they did was move money from one pocket to the other.

And the worst part is that Treasury and their lackeys at GM think we’re such gullible children that we wouldn’t see this for the insulting con game it is.

Congratulations, guys, you’ve given us something else to remember in November.

LINKS: Sister Toldjah, Dan Mitchell, Hot Air, Fausta, Power Line (and here).

RELATED: Senator Grassley is not amused.


There’s also the violence card

April 26, 2010

In an earlier post, I wondered if the race card was the only card left in the (Social) Democrats’ deck. The answer is “no,” as Jack Kelly reminds us in a column at Real Clear Politics. They also can and do play the “angry, violent mob” card, accusing conservative protesters of near-sedition and having a potential for terrorism:

It is a despicable smear to attempt to link critics of the tax, spending and regulatory policies of the Obama administration to [Oklahoma City bomber Timothy] McVeigh. Imagine how Mr. Clinton and Mr. Klein would howl if it were asserted that those who protested the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were responsible for the shooting at Fort Hood last November which left 13 dead.

No prominent conservative has asserted that, of course. But it’s a meme among the eminences of the left that the tea party movement is comprised of “angry” knuckle-dragging bigots one Rush Limbaugh broadcast away from insurrection and murder. All this despite the fact the only violence reported at tea party rallies has come when left wingers assaulted protesters.

Kelly then recounts two incidents of left-wing violence from among the several that have happened over the past year. But, one wonders, why do the progressive-statists feel the need to smear the opposition as barely contained rioters? Kelly offers one potential answer:

What really terrifies Democrats is not just the number or size of tea party rallies, but that they are occurring at all. For more than a century, the protest demonstration has been almost exclusively a left-wing thing. Conservatives just don’t demonstrate. The tea party indicates a level of street activism on the right unprecedented in our history.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Dec. 16 indicated the tea party was more popular than either Democrats or Republicans. Respondents approved of the tea party, 41 percent to 23 percent. More disapproved of both the Republican Party (28-43) and the Democratic Party (35-45) than approved of them.

So the tea party must be smeared, lest it gain even more adherents.

I think he’s on to something, but it’s not just fear of the other side developing its own mass movement. As I wrote yesterday, the progressives realize they cannot win the argument based on policy ideas or empirical results, most of the nation rejects what they offer and hates what they’ve done. So all they have left is to try to distract moderates and independents by painting Tea Partiers and other activists concerned by what’s going on in Washington as racists on the edge of violence. For all the Left accused then-President Bush of distracting people from the real issues by playing to their fears, they themselves are doing it in spades.

Yet more and more people are on to the game they’re playing, and each time they lay down the “race” or “violence” cards, their power to intimidate shrinks just a bit more.


Is the race card the only card in their deck?

April 25, 2010

In the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Salena Zito looks at the increasing frequency with which the Left plays the race card -accusing opponents of racism, denying that they could have any legitimate grievance- and sees it losing its force as it becomes overplayed:

Racism isn’t what it used to be. Back in the day, it was horrible in-your-face humiliation hurled for reasons that included fear, insecurity, hate or an utter lack of decency.

Today, the word “racism” is used so flippantly in politics that its true heinous intent often is diluted.

Race has taken political center-stage once more with generalizations that all people who participate in tea party events are racists because they oppose President Barack Obama’s policies.

Racism also often is cited by Washington insiders as the reason for the downward trajectory of Obama’s public approval.

Yet racism has nothing to do with Obama’s falling numbers — or, for that matter, those of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who also is black.

Both men were given the benefit of the doubt when elected to their positions. Only now, after having an opportunity to witness their behavior and performance, have people decided they don’t approve of the jobs Obama and Steele are doing.

Racists never would have given either man an opportunity to begin with. Americans’ dissatisfaction with both men and their performance has more to do with these individuals than with their skin color.

The real story for both Obama and Steele is the same as that for many high-profile (and usually white) politicians. They began with high expectations and then their approval ratings fell over time, as people got to know them.

Zito then compares the rise, fall, and rise-again of Howard Dean and sees him receiving the same treatment, even though he’s White. She rightly points out that both Obama and Steele might also have benefited by a race card being played in their favor. And she notes the boomerang effect of playing it against average Americans, many of whom are becoming politically active in the Tea Party movement, who are feeling ever more condescended to and even insulted for opposing Obama on grounds of policy and performance.

The increasing use of the race card reveals two things: first, that it’s the Left that obsesses over race and the need to see everyone as part of groups, rather than as individuals concerned with principles. As Shelby Steele points out in White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era, racism on the Right was largely burned out when it became socially unacceptable to be racist during the civil rights era. The liberal Left, on the other hand, adopted a form of racial group-think to absolve itself of “White guilt,” atonement for which requires one to explain everything in terms of race and racism.

Second, and perhaps more immediate, the progressive-statists know instinctively that the American people largely reject their preferred policies. Barack Obama ran as a post-partisan, above-all-politics moderate, and the electorate, tired of years of snarling partisanship under Clinton and Bush, hired him to put all that to rest. Then he dropped the mask and, in conjunction with the progressives who dominate the Democratic Party in Congress, has governed as a hyper-partisan Leftist. I’m convinced that, had the public in 2008 known the truth about what Obama and his allies intended if they came to power, then the Democratic ticket wouldn’t have garnered 30% of the vote. (That Obama got away with this is largely the tale of a media that abdicated its responsibilities shamelessly in order to promote Obama, but that’s another story.)

Faced with the reality of a growing rejection, the Left more and more has dealt the race card to smear and intimidate citizens exercising their rights as citizens. But the plain fact is that the opposition that’s arisen is in response to policy and incompetence, and the opponents largely don’t give a damn about anyone’s skin color.

The race card may be the only card left in the progressive’s deck, but it’s hardly a trump anymore.


Sunday book review: The Real Global Warming Disaster

April 25, 2010

For years now, we’ve been warned the world faces catastrophe because man and his polluting activities are making the world too hot, principally by pumping too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This anthropogenic global warming, the Wise tell us, will wipe out species, cause the spread of disease, submerge islands and coastal cities as the seas rise, while turning much of the world into a desert. Britain may come to resemble a Mediterranean country, while, in one dire scenario, Man’s folly will leave Antarctica as the only inhabitable continent.

Scary stuff, indeed.

But what’s more frightening, according to Christopher Booker, author of The Real Global Warming Disaster, is that so many have fallen for this nonsense and that the major nations of the Western world, notably Great Britain and the United States, stand on the verge of doing near-fatal harm to their own economies in order to fight a problem that does not exist.

Booker’s is not a work of science, but a book about the corruption of science, journalism, and politics, and how they have combined to create one of the greatest public scares and manias since Dutchmen thought tulip bulbs were a sound investment. Scientists who placed ideology and pride ahead of empirical truth; journalists who failed in their most basic responsibility, to be skeptical of what they were told; and politicians who didn’t understand the science , but jumped on a bandwagon and then found it going too fast to jump off. Booker traces these and other intellectual and social threads back for over 60 years to see how we arrived at the verge of economic suicide.

What’s truly disheartening about a book such as this is how figures in whom we are supposed to place great trust –scientists, journalists, and politicians– can be so incompetent and petty. And vicious, given how they have treated those who have questioned the vaunted “consensus” regarding man-made climate change. The story of the global warming craze, which has yet to play to its end and may still trap us in its delusional green fantasies, serves as a warning to the public in democratic societies to never let down their guard. When someone says, “There is a crisis, and we must surrender our liberties and spend trillions to fix it – just trust me,” we should be at our most wary and skeptical.

The Real Global Warming Disaster is available through Amazon; I highly recommend it.

(And yes, FTC, I do get a few pennies should someone click on the link. )


Pat Condell: What I know about Islam

April 24, 2010

British humorist and devout atheist Pat Condell explains to us all he knows about Islam:

One certainly can’t accuse him of beating about the bush.


Kids say the darndest things, Islam edition

April 24, 2010

In this case, a child preacher on Egyptian television warns of the vast conspiracies (Western and Jewish, of course) against Islam and the Muslims, and that a “levy of blood” will be paid for Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque:

From the transcript, a point worth bearing in mind:

My brothers in Islam, the tidal waves of the infidel West approach us from all directions, revealing the truth about what the (West) has been saying for years in order to deceive us: that they are men of peace. The Jews are men of peace vis-à-vis all the other religions – all the religions that were not sent down by Allah – but not vis-à-vis the religion of the Lord of heaven and earth.

My brothers, this conflict is not a few days old, or even a few years old. This conflict is 1, 431 years old. It started when the Prophet Muhammad began to preach the word of Allah.

This is why it’s addlepated to think that peace between Israel and its Muslim neighbors can come simply by trading bits of land taken in 1967 for leaving the original, pre-1967 Israel alone. Jihadist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah, and foreign states such as Iran, see it as their religious duty to wipe out Israel, because all the land was given to them as a waqf, an endowment for the Muslims, from Allah himself at the time of the Islamic conquest:

The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

(Hamas covenant, Article XI)

To leave any part of that land under the rule of the Jews is intolerable. Just ask a child.


Friday Night Funnies

April 23, 2010

The latest NewsBusted, with Jodi Miller:


Where our oil money goes

April 23, 2010

Oh, well. I suppose it’s better than having it go to bin Laden: Arabs Spend 5 Billion Dollars Annually on Magic and Sorcery

Dr. Fahd Bin Abdulaziz al-Sunaidi, a Professor at the Department of Islamic Studies of the King Saud University has revealed that Arabs spend a total of 5 billion dollars a year on practices of magic and sorcery, and that there is one magician for every 1,000 people in the Arab world.

During a lecture at the Department of Education in Najran entitled “The Media and Educations; Cooperation or Discord” Dr. Sunaidi said that the media campaign against magic and sorcery has significantly contributed to reducing the influence of this phenomenon in the Arab world.

In 2009 a study by the Center for Research and Study, which is affiliated with Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice [CPVPV] set procedural guidelines in an effort to combat magic and those who practice it.

The report in question included scientific definitions of magic, witchcraft, divination, fortune-telling and other similar practices and a model in order to help uncover such practices.

The good doctor also recommended that efforts be made to fight Internet sites and other communication media that promote magic.

And I don’t think he’s talking about the card game.

Then again, maybe that link will get me in trouble with the CPVPV. Oh, what the heck. I’ve always wanted a fatwa of my own.

RELATED: They aren’t going to kill the sorcerer – yet.


When science fiction becomes real: US Space Marines?

April 23, 2010

Okay, so they won’t be as cool (yet) as the armored chap pictured above, but the Marine Corps has begun serious development on an orbital space plane that would be able to deliver combat troops anywhere in the world in under two hours:

After decades of unsuccessful development, military space planes are finally getting some respect. On April 19 the U.S. Air Force plans to launch the X-37B, an unmanned space plane that will circle the planet a classified number of times before making an autonomous landing. (Popular Mechanics profiled the effort as the magazine’s cover story in April.) The idea of a pop-up reconnaissance platform, to be used if a satellite is not available or is disabled, is an importantrationale for the Air Force’s project.

The Marines’ space plane takes the Corps’ slogan of “first to fight” to the extreme: It could transport a squad of Marine riflemen to anyplace on earth within 2 hours, and then extract them after their mission is complete. Though the goal is appealing—imagine delivering well-armed Marines at hypersonic speed to a suspected Osama bin Laden hideout or besieged embassy—the concept seemed outlandish to many when it was first proposed.

Of course, the idea of orbital insertion of combat troops and drop-ships or space planes isn’t a new one, but it always fascinates me how these ideas seem to start bearing fruit much sooner than science fiction usually assumes.

Neat stuff!

(via Confederate Yankee, who has thoughts on other applications)


Klavan on the Culture: The New York Times Answer Man

April 22, 2010

Another installment of Andrew Klavan’s satirical look at society. This time, it’s the Paper of Record’s turn:


What’s “gird your loins” in Korean?

April 22, 2010

I haven’t written about the sinking last month of the South Korean naval corvette Cheonan, because, while it looked and smelled like something North Korea would do to provoke an incident and grab the world’s attention, the South Korean and US militaries were being very cautious. Besides, I just couldn’t imagine that even Kim Jong-Il, dictator of the world’s largest prison camp, could be this crazy.

I may have been wrong:

South Korean ship sunk by crack squad of ‘human torpedoes’

A South Korean warship was destroyed by an elite North Korean suicide squad of ‘human torpedoes’ on the express orders of the regime’s leader, Kim Jong-il, according to military intelligence reports.

The attack on the 1,220-ton Cheonan, which sank on March 26 with the loss of 46 of its 104 crew, was carried out in retaliation for a skirmish between warships of the two nations’ navies in November of last year, South Korea claims.

The South Korean government has refused to comment officially on the reports but Defence Minister Kim Tae Young told a parliamentary session that the military believed that the sinking was a deliberate act by North Korea.

Officials in military intelligence say they warned the government earlier this year that North Korea was preparing a suicide-squad submarine attack on a South Korean ship.

“Military intelligence made the report to the Blue House [the presidential office] and to the Defence Ministry immediately after the sinking of the Cheonan that it was clearly the work of North Korea’s military,” a military source said.

According to the article, this may have been a suicide mission launched by commandos in specially modified midget submarines, rather than from a leftover naval mine from the Korean War. The explosion clearly took place outside the vessel’s hull.

Whether it was an attack by a normal torpedo or the human kind, this puts both Seoul and Washington in a very difficult situation. Lee Myung Bak, the South Korean president, was elected on a platform that included getting tough with North Korea and ending the accomodationist policies of his predecessor. Now that it’s clear that one of his country’s naval ships was sunk and sailors killed in an act of war, he can’t do nothing for fear of appearing craven and pusillanimous, something sure to weaken him at home and encourage a psychotic predator like L’il Kim. Yet, striking back too hard risks full-scale war; South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is near the border and very exposed to the thousands of artillery pieces the North has placed there.

For President Obama, this could turn into a nightmare. Already under heavy (and deserved) criticism for a weak foreign policy of appeasement, pressuring our allies in Seoul to overlook this, or worse, equivocate in our support of Seoul, would invite a furious political assault. Yet a reopening of the Korean War would be a huge expense on top of all the debt he’s accumulated already, not to mention the strain it would put on the military both from likely heavy casualties and from being stretched thin already.

(And, don’t forget: much of the Obama debt is funded by China, North Korea’s patron. This is a good example of how massive foreign debt limits our actions and makes us vulnerable.)

So, what to do? Contra the analysts quoted in the article, President Bak almost has to retaliate, but he cannot go overboard. My guess would be some sort of forward mobilization near the DMZ as a sign of resolve toward the North and the eventual sinking of a North Korean vessel in a tit-for-tat response. Economic punishment is possible, too, but the loss of life aboard the ship makes it difficult to present that to the South Korean public as sufficient.

The other question is why would Kim do something so mad, so rife with potentially disastrous consequences? The Telegraph article speculates that this was payback for an earlier skirmish in which a North Korean boat was sunk, but there’s another possibility: there are signs of growing unrest in North Korean, and Pyongyang’s grip may be slipping. Could it be that Kim ordered this to scare his population into obedience by the threat of war with the “hated imperialist aggressors?” Or maybe he’s just ronery?

Who knows what goes on in that warped little man’s mind?

LINKS: More from Hot Air and the Times.

POSTSCRIPT: To answer the question in the subject line, Joe Biden’s warning to “gird your loins” renders in Korean as, according to Google Translate, Jolong saengsig!


Presidential mistakes

April 21, 2010

At NRO, David Pryce-Jones, author of Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews and The Closed Circle: an interpretation of the Arabs, lists four mistakes President Obama is making regarding Israel and its conflict with the Arabs. Here’s the second:

From his way of thinking, Obama goes on to conclude that Israeli-Palestinian peace holds the key to Middle East stability. Second mistake. If there was genuine peace tomorrow and a state of Palestine, it would make no difference to the Sunni-Shia divide, to the ambitions of Osama bin Laden or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to the civil war in Yemen, to the sectarian conflict in Lebanon, to the hard-wired despots in Egypt and Syria, and so on and on.

Click for the other three.

The key isn’t Israeli occupation of Arab lands, but Israel’s very existence and the hatred of the Jews hardwired into Islam itself.