Monday, April 30, 2012

More on North Korea

Blane Harden
Brian Lamb had a great Q & A with Blaine Harden (video link) last night on C-SPAN about Harden's book "Escape from Camp 14".  Here is a dump from the C-SPAN web page:
Shin Dong-hyuk
Washington, DC
Sunday, April 29, 2012

This week on Q&A, author Blaine Harden discusses his historical narrative "Escape From Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West." Harden tells the story of a young man named Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in captivity at prison camp 14, located in central North Korea. Shin escaped in 2005. Harden says that Shin is the only individual actually born in a labor camp to escape. In his book, Harden explains that Camp 14 holds approximately fifteen thousand prisoners and is the toughest of six camps in the country because of the brutal working conditions and vigilance of the guards. He relates how Shin witnessed the execution of his mother and brother, whom he had reported to guards after overhearing them discuss the possibility of escape. He was severely beaten and tortured for information about his mother and brother until he convinced the guards that he had turned them in to authorities as required. Harden details Shin's escape through an electrified fence by climbing over a dead companion's body and his hazardous journey through China into South Korea. Harden talks about the process Shin undertook to learn about society and civilization, and how he ended up meeting him in 2008 while writing a story for The Washington Post. In addition, Mr. Harden discusses his early career as a writer and his motivations for becoming a journalist.

Blaine Harden currently reports for PBS Frontline and contributes to The Economist. He was a correspondent for the Washington Post in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia, as well as in New York and Seattle. He was also a national correspondent for The New York Times and a writer for Time Magazine. He won the Ernie Pyle Award for coverage of the siege in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.
It sounds like a great story and I found some video of Harden and Shin that I will post here later posted below.  It was hard for me to find anything to object to in the interview, save one quibble.  Harden kept calling the North Korean regimes after Kim Il-sung totalitarian.  Perhaps under sloppy modern usage of totalitarian it is true, but the more accurate word would be dictatorship.  Harden correctly points out that Kim Il-sung was a popular leader when his regime began. That is totalitarian in the Mussolini style of totalitarian, all in this together, stronger together than individually, etc.

However, at some point in the Kim Il-sung regime that totalitarianism was no longer a universal free choice and became a dictatorship.  Certainly every moment under Kim Jong-Il was a dictatorship, as with his successor Kim Jong-un.

For more on this story, go to National Review Online and read:  
A Child of the North Korean Gulag
Shin Dong-hyuk flees Camp 14 in search of meat.
By Joseph A. Rehyansky

More video on this via the Frontline Club and it opens with plenty to object to, but otherwise is excellent:

First, from the description - Little is known about the prison camps of North Korea where it is estimated that 200,000 are imprisoned. Bullshit.  The prison camps of North Korea are some of the best documented operating camps in the history of the world.  Little was known about the Soviet Gulags before Khrushchev made his 'secret speech' and little was known about German concentration camps before they were liberated.  Today, we have 30,000 North Koreans who have escaped and now live in Seoul.  Several prison camp escapees live in Seoul right now, willing to talk about the inner workings of the camps and satellite photos of the camps are available from Google Earth.

Another objection I have is to Harden's introduction and slide show.  He claims that Red China stopped being "totalitarian" after Mao.  He uses totalitarian interchangeably  for things that can better be described as authoritarian or dictatorial, which Red China still is to this day.

The big difference between the Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet Gulag system or the North Korean Gulag system is simple: Socialism cleanses all sins with "fellow travelers" who write the news today.  They denied the Soviet system, even after Khrushchev's speech was leaked to the world, they ignored the Red Chinese version and they ignore this while they bitch and whine about the National Rifle Association and create an imagined American Gulag constructed with lies:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Smartest President Ever: Barack Hussein Obama

In the exhibit above, you will discover that radio personality Don Imus has a measured Intelligence Quotient of 164, while President Barack Hussein Obama's is 160.  There are also some valuable moments taught by the President, who cannot pass up a Teachable Moment, on pronunciation, geography, and sports.

For the book, I wanted to avoid current politicians.  However, since the topic is Statism and Socialism, our current President became a person of focus and the only person depicted on the cover.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Boneless Chicken Ranches for All!

Gary Larson's "Boneless Chicken Ranch" comic.
This Gary Larson Far Side comic is a new favorite of mine.  It reminds me of the numerous crazy schemes that Leftists fall for and want so desperately to impose on the rest of us, at gunpoint.  Crazy schemes like these: Wind Power and Electric Cars.

AMC Pacer ad
By all means, if you want to erect a windmill on your property or replace your car's gas tank with batteries, go right ahead.  Maybe you would prefer a French name on your electric roller-skate, with the comfort of knowing others built them before.  Just leave me out of it, okay?

The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the Liberties of the Forest

The Magna Carta is a good document to know.  I recall seeing a copy in the United States National Archives and pausing to admire its beauty.

Oddly, the only instance that I recall the Magna Carta's mention in a fictional television show was on Magnum PI, Season 5, Episode 17, The Love For Sale Boat.  I wish that I could find the clip where Higgins explains freedom to three young Japanese women.  All I found was this clip, via Asian American Literature.  I wish that I could find the portion where Higgins does the explaining to the sisters, but I share the love of the "Magna Carta!" battle cry with Dr. Scanlon. The "When Abraham Lincoln signed the Magna Carta" line was cute, in that write-a-silly-line for a foreign character way.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ayn Rand and the Lying Liars Who Hate Her

Ayn Rand smoking on left and with Alan Greenspan on right
I happen to be one of those folks who has never read more than a page or two of any fiction by the greatest selling single author in the history of the world, Ayn Rand.  There are a lot of her quotes out there that I like and I pass them on when I come across them, however I have no doubt that if I read Atlas Shrugged my assessment would be similar to those of Whittaker Chambers and William F. Buckley, Jr.  If I had met her in person, I have no doubt that I would 'like' her as much as Buckley too.  However, that has never spared me the tired, scripted speeches from Stalinist Leftists who have some sort of pathological hate for the woman.

This hate is not a puzzling one, it is one that is easily explained by a core trait of the Leftists in general: Authoritarianism.  You see, if they don't like something then nobody else is supposed to like it either.  Rarely do they bother with a substantive critique, no they launch into a bunch of fashion/taste/emotional issues.

Below is an example of one of those scripts and I have finally found a reason to say something nice about Paul Krugman.  He made an attribution of the slam, which is quite rare for the Rand attackers.  In person, nobody has made any sort of attribution in my presence. It is as if they all spontaneously came up with the same words, in the same order, independently.  Something like the "herd" of independent thinkers that Dinesh D'Souza used to talk about on his book tours.

Here is a great one via Paul Krugman:
September 23, 2010, 3:34 PM
I’m Ellsworth Toohey!

So says one of my commenters (sic). And for my sins, I actually get the reference.

The best line I’ve ever heard about Ayn Rand’s influence:
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
Funny thing, someone I went to high school with used that quote when responding to a Rand non-fiction quote I posted in 2011.  I asked him where he got it, because I had seen it before, and he said he made it up himself.  Coming from a former editor, communications director, budding novelist, and ardent devotee of Paul Krugman, this level of plagiarism can be easily explained by another trait of the Leftist: Any lie will do when trying to "win" an argument, even if nobody was arguing.

The absurdity only increased on that topic.  He had a fit that Rand based her philosophy on "selfishness."  Which brought a big "so what" from me and she always struck me as being for self interest, which is different.  Another whine of his was that she thought philanthropy was "stupid."  Again, so what?  I don't think that and believing every word any person says as gospel is just stupid.  He later once told me that I need to make a "choice" between Ayn Rand and being a Christian.  Of course, this edict did not come as a question, it came as an order, which resulted in literal laughing-out-loud on my end of the internet.

What brings out these off-the-rails ravings is beyond me.  Seriously, I doubt that Mussolini showed up every time one of his classmates went to Church and challenged God to strike him dead on the steps of the cathedral, followed by a demand that said friend either renounce Samuel Clemons or the Lord.

By that logic in the modern day, I would have to stop enjoying Seinfeld and stop quoting atheist Larry David (MP3), or renounce Christianity.  Video here:
One of the Krugman commentators appears to have the same experience as me, with regard to hearing these things before:
D. Taggert
I always heard it as "involves Hobbits." Of course, I never read fantasy, as I was too busy building my railroad empire.
Sept. 24, 2010 at 10:08 a.m.
The most often heard Ayn Rand "take-down" I've encountered is the one that goes "the only people I've met who read Atlas Shrugged were teenage girls . . ." and every time I hear it, it is exactly the same, while at the same time it is so vapid  that I can never remember the whole thing until I hear it again.  Rarely am I ever able to find it online, probably because I am not wording it correctly for a search engine to find it.  If anybody reading this knows what I am talking about, please comment or forward.  In a concise impact statement, the speaker tries to make the implication that only maladjusted teenage girls and equally damaged males would appreciate her fiction.  A long-winded version can be found here, but I cannot find the short trite version as I write.  The same author decided to rip-off Winston Churchill's famous quip: Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains. like this:
This is a sign, mind you, of developmental disability. When you’re 19, you are permitted to find the Fountainhead inspiring and brilliant. If you still find it so when you’re 39, instead of seeing it correctly as turgid, overwrought garbage, then you are experiencing some form of mild intellectual retardation.
Again, every time these people find me in person, mentioning that I've never read, nor claimed to have read Atlas will stop the speech that each speaker claims as his own.

It is like those intense Ford vs. Chevy guys on loads of pot.  Most car guys respect each other and their rides.  There are a few of those Ford or Chevy guys who hate each others brands, but they usually shut up when they find out that you are in neither camp, but not always.

I suppose the least frequent Ayn slam, but frequent enough to include, would be the "I've never met anybody who said they read Atlas Shrugged (or Ayn Rand) who has actually read a word of it."  It usually comes from people who speak in absolutes about others, but hold the notion that there are no absolutes.  Somehow they have managed to live over half of a century without meeting a single person who has read the biggest selling author ever, but they have no trouble meeting people willing to lie about it.

That one was tossed at me by the 'editor' mentioned above and by another high school classmate who is now a professor.  When I mentioned to the Professor that Editor had said the same thing, the Professor claimed no knowledge of anybody ever saying that before, it was his own personal observation.  Of course, I was supposed to believe that the identical wording had to be a coincidence that repeated itself at least a dozen times over the years.

It took a while for the professor to "get it" when I said, several times, that I've never read Atlas, nor have I ever claimed to.  As for both of them, I see that not having any contact with them for a couple of decades was no loss, not just because of the Rand thing.  As with most people non scripts, conversing with them is annoying at best and impossible at worst.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Frontline Series: Money, Power And Wall Street

Note:  I have no idea why searches for the "torrent" version of these videos keep getting directed here, but I don't have a clue about "torrent" and it is not here.

This appears to be a pretty good series from anybody, especially PBS.  Unknowingly, PBS exposes how Nationalized Socialism was fast tracked by the Republican George W. Bush administration and injected with steroids by the Barack Hussein Obama administration.

The first is mostly about the sub-prime mortgage beginnings.

Moral Hazard: This episode is fantastic if you know what to look for.  It shows how the moral hazard risk of a relatively free market (segments of little regulation within a heavily regulated industry) was short circuited by the federal government.

Episode Three - The Obamatrons take over. When Obama comes face to face with the biggest bankers in the United States, he folds like cardboard against a blowtorch giving the bankers all the money they wanted with no strings attached:

Episode Four - From shady American municipalities to shady European governments, public officials around the globe jump into financial transactions they had no business getting near and the schemes blow up one by one:

Would You Like Borders With That Socialism?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Leftist, Statist Double Standards

I've mentioned Sheryl Crow's Confederate flag pants over at the Suki fiction series blog and I finally got around to making a big picture of her wearing them for you to show your friends when they call you a liar about their favorite one-square-of-toilet-paper tree hugger:
If only I had made this image before Texanna Edwards decided on her prom outfit.  She could have had some ammunition for the statists at Gibson County High School, "LOOK! Sheryl Crow wore Confederate flag pants in a tribute to a pot smoking actor!  I demand equal freedom!"*
Texanna Edwards: Rights under siege.
If you are unfamiliar with Sheryl Crow's tribute to Steve McQueen (featuring Dale Earnhardt, Jr.), take a look:

*I support individual rights. Wearing clothes; making, selling and drinking moonshine; as well as smoking pot are just a few examples.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Left Narrative in full Glory

In time I am pretty sure that the Romney vs. Obama dog love festival will be less than a footnote in history a decade from now, mostly due to general disinterest.  Of course, the mainstream media will do its part to help, by erasing it from their archives.  The true Right is already doing that at Reason, apparently for different reasons.

Here are a couple of videos I created about the Obama eating dog event.  What is interesting is the comments from an Obama supporter that showed up in response to the short video (included my comments too):
  • A 10 year old child is served a meal which is common in the country he is living. Big deal. Romney, a grown man, knowingly commits an act of cruelty. The dog crapped all over the place and they still kept him up there? Duh!
  • You Leftoids are hilarious! If Obama chased the dog down himself, skinned, cooked, and ate it, giving the pelt to his mother as a shawl you would still say sticking a dog in a carrier is worse. Keep it up and don't miss the Seinfeld Lost Episode now linked to in the video!
  • Obama was 6 years old, you moron. How old was Romney when he casually committed animal cruelty? This is true Romney, an out of touch blue blood and a narcissist.
  • Safe transport of a dog is "casually committed an act of cruelty" to you. Check.  You don't know the meaning of the words you use, just like your name calling.
Another subthread:
  • If Obama eats dog, I wonder what kind of meat does Michelle like?
  • She prefers her arugula flavored: wouldyoulikeborderswiththatsoc­­el/Condoms
  • Eventually all loony wingnuts reveal not only their severe lack of intelligence but their true rotten core.
If this were a discussion in person, there is little doubt that "liberalmann" would be on the verge of throwing food at this point. Throwing food is the ultimate expression of deep ideas for the Leftist.

The "Seinfeld Lost Episode" mentioned above:
Side note: If you want Leftoid comments, make your video very short. If you are trying to get libertarians or people of the true right to watch it, make it long. Just look at the stats and comments on the videos in my channel and see.

Friday, April 20, 2012

In America, Politics Never Change

The Democratic Platform Is For The White Man
The Republican Platform Is For The Negro
It really is not so much about Left vs. Right as it is about Statist vs. Individualist.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Secret Service Prostitution Scandal and the Seinfeld Connection

I love Seinfeld connections.  Made this video today and posted it on the Suki Project. This is a Droid version. HD version here.
If you prefer longer and bigger, try this.
As any libertarian should know, prostitution should be legal, but public servants misbehaving should not be condoned.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Angela Davis: Queen of the Gun Straw Purchase

Angela Davis: Queen of the Straw Purchase
Shouldn't gun straw purchases be called Angela Davis purchases?

The Left likes to feign ignorance of their positions as soon as those positions are inconvenient to their goal of a totalitarian Utopia.  Take for instance the right to purchase or posses firearms.  When the Marxist-Stalinist Left was armed to the teeth, blowing up Soho and robbing banks, their advocates embraced the American right to keep and bear arms, especially since Marxists of most stripes consider armed struggle to be the path to "freedom."  Back then, not-so-Left American politicians wanted to restrict ownership in the name of public safety.

At first glance, these positions appear to be at odds with each other, like polar opposites, but they really are not.  They are both manifestations of statism through different means.  One to overthrow the existing state and replace it with something more authoritarian and the other to preserve the power structure by restricting freedom to "preserve freedom" as it were.

In the hearts and minds of old-line Leftists, Angela Davis is seen as a heroine who stood up against "the man" by helping arm the revolution.  Ask the same people if it is okay to purchase guns for people who might not be able to purchase them and, well, you will get a decidedly different reaction most of the time.

In fact, that is exactly what Angela Davis did, and she was acquitted, and it is what made her famous.  Don't take my word for it, listen to what her lawyer Dennis Roberts had to say about it after the trial. Angela Davis speaks near the end in a 2010 retrospect.  Neither of them express any remorse over the deaths of six people that began as a courtroom breakout attempt with guns purchased by Davis and given to seventeen year old Jonathan Peter Jackson.
Update: Call me shocked (literally), there is an idealistic connection between Angela Davis' gun purchases for the revolution and the man she says is "Of the Black Radical tradition": President Barack Hussein Obama.  After all, his Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms bureau did order legal gun dealers to sell to Mexican revolutionary drug-lords.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Quentin Hardy on "Parasite States"

Quentin Hardy
Updated with clips from a DOE video at the bottom.

I have been looking for the video or transcript of this November 27th, 2004 airing of Forbes on FOX for ages.  If anybody has the video, I would appreciate a copy.  FOX does not have a video archive with the article.  When I saw it live, I could not believe that I was seeing a mainstream Leftist talking about "Red State parasites".
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief: Well, I doubt that David (Asman). Most immigrants, in general, seem to be going to blue states like California and New York, where people pay more to the federal government than they get back. The red states, the parasite states that take more from the federal government than they give, don’t draw as many immigrants. Now what does this tell you? Immigrants aren't’t (sic) taking as many services as other people do. They put more into the economy, legal or illegal.
The important part here is not the part about immigrants, nor is it Hardy's perennial hypocrisy on "from each according to their ability," the point is what Hardy calls "parasite States." The red states, the parasite states that take more from the federal government than they give, This has been a long standing indictment by the Left against States that have 'benefited' from massive, Democrat initiated, federal programs and dare to show their ingratitude by voting Republican.

Growing up in Tennessee I used to hear this nonsense from my father (hardcore Democrat), and then in college from Leftist faculty members.  The reasoning goes: FDR and LBJ gave all of these magnificent public works to these people, but they show no gratitude at all.  Usually a helping of bumpkin/hillbilly was added to sweeten the argument that only served as identifying the speaker as an ass.

Norris Dam construction: People used to live here
The Leftists of course, never see the downside to the jackbooted statist implementation of these grand plans (TVA, Manhattan Project, National Parks), they only see the results and they cannot even manage to look at the results honestly.  The ungrateful bumpkins happen to know families, now their descendants, that were thrown off of their land for all of these grand projects.

In East Tennessee the federal government came rolling in to make the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and kicked out families across the Smoky Mountains.  Many from the Cades Cove area left, eventually getting some money for their land, and resettled in the Clinch River Valley.  About ten years later the feds came in again and kicked them out to build Norris Dam and lake.  Of course, in both cases the feds did not come in and negotiate with anybody who already lived there, no they just took their land and gave them arbitrary amounts of money for their property.  Negotiations were made with developers and contractors, of course.

Y-12 under construction. People used to live here too.
Then, about ten years after that the biggie came.  People in the Bear Creek Valley, now know as Oak Ridge, TN, many who had just arrived from Norris ten years earlier, were greeted with notes tacked to their doors telling them they had a short time to vacate.  The bulldozers rolled in and destroyed everything to erect the weapons manufacturing facilities for the Manhattan Project.  The property owners were given some money for their land months later.

War Department Land Grab Notice
If I had left out the government element in this story of the plight of farmers in East Tennessee, one might have thought it a story of big, mean corporations driving people off of their land in search of profits, just like in the movies.  Fact is, no company can do that without the help of the government.  In this case, no corporations were involved, it was all government.  A government with all of the resources in the world to pay farmers a fair, or even a generous price for their land.  If you don't believe me, feel free to find the next showing of watch A Nuclear Family: Y-12 National Security ComplexHow the Manhattan Project changed life in East Tennessee.  If it was on CSPAN I could give you a link to the video, but it is on the Public Broadcasting System, so you are on your own the federal government bought a copy (watch it all here).

Watch the relevant portion here:
Now you know why many in the Tennessee Valley wished the federal government stayed in DC.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Hard Lesson for Joan Baez

Some history is escaping from the Internet Black Hole
Google archive of this 1979 article.
We seem to be emerging from another period of hidden news and hidden history.  Since the Internet became popular (I will peg that in the 1990s just for discussion's sake) there has been a tendency of people to not believe anything unless they could find it online.  Like most things, there is a good and bad to that approach.  I recall telling people quite often "you need to look that one up in a library" when items like the rift between Joan Baez and the hardcore Left came up.  With Google's newspaper archive, those who wish to find original articles can save a few trips to the library.

In this case, I had heard about Joan Baez catching flack over daring to acknowledge thousands of people were fleeing the newly united Communist Utopia of Vietnam.  You see, Joan Baez was one of the pacifists that the hard Left used for propaganda against anybody not as Left as them.  Once the Communists took control of all of Vietnam, she was supposed to shut up about any injustices that happened under the Ho Chi Minh City regime.  She didn't.

Folk singer Joan Baez
Joan Baez found out in short order that under no circumstances can anybody on the Left complain about any action of a Communist country and get away with it.  For those unfamiliar with the Vietnamese Boat People issue, it was another case where people fled in droves away from socialism.  It is one of those reality rules that Leftists ignore at best, or lie about at their worst: People always flee Socialism, the more hard-core the Socialism the greater the number of refugees.  When Vietnam was divided into North/South, the exodus from the North numbered an estimated one million people.  Some say "they fled both ways," which is technically correct and laughable at the same time.  Yes, over 100,000 Communist operatives "fled" North, on Soviet and Polish ships.  The stampede South overshadowed this just a little.

In 1979, (as recorded in the Toledo Blade on 2 July, 1979), Baez was urging President Carter to use the US Seventh Fleet to rescue the latest wave of refugees.  Of course, the Left view was the refugees were "nothing but assassins and colonels".  Jane Fonda had some angry words for Baez about Baez' Open Letter to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (in full at the end of this post).

Jane Fonda pretending to operate NVA Anti-Aircraft System.
Joan Baez, Jane Fonda duel over Vietnam issue - AP via Milwaukee Sentinel, 3 July 1979

Ms. Fonda responded with a letter to Ms. Baez. questioning the reliability of her sources and her definition of repression.
"I don't know if we can expect the Vietnamese people to turn free those millions of people overnight, people who were involved in a war much more hideous than any repression," Ms. Fonda wrote.
"I hope you will reconsider the assertion of your ad: that the Vietnamese people are 'waiting to die.' Such rhetoric only aligns you with the most narrow and negative elements in our country who continue to believe that Communism is worse than death," she added.
Baez had an excellent counter to Fonda's boilerplate defense-of-Communism-by-any-means-necessary.
"What we're (sic) really saying is that I'm betraying 17 or 18 geriatric Stalinists who are running the government - not the people."
"I've said it for 22 years, till I'm blue in the face . . . I believe in people, not systems. I don't have any ideological yoke around my neck that binds me to human rights violations."
This is a bit of history that I have been trying to document for over a decade.  I had no luck with search engines in the 1990s - 2000s, they are of course limited by what is out there to search.  For some strange reason, every bit of Joan Baez information related to Vietnam was centered on her days supporting the North over the South.  I try to run a fair and balanced blog here, and nothing is more fair than the truth.  In my attempt to find any of the famous video of Baez singing in a North Vietnamese bomb shelter (clips I will add if anybody wants to send me links to them), the best I could find was not even close.  So here is the introduction to her appearance on Firing Line (link is to Amazon DVD of full show), with the great William F. Buckley, Jr. where Baez lays out her non-aggression position (clip lasts 4:46).
In the clip, Baez mentions her Quaker roots.

The Baez open letter, in full:
Open Letter to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Four years ago, the United States ended its 20-year presence in Vietnam. An anniversary that should be cause for celebration is, instead, a time for grieving.

With tragic irony, the cruelty, violence and oppression practiced by foreign powers in your country for more than a century continue today under the present regime.

Thousands of innocent Vietnamese, many whose only "crimes" are those of conscience, are being arrested, detained and tortured in prisons and re-education camps. Instead of bringing hope and reconciliation to war-torn Vietnam, your government has created a painful nightmare that overshadows significant progress achieved in many areas of Vietnamese society.

Your government slated in February 1977 that some 50,000 people were then incarcerated. Journalists, independent observers and refugees estimate the current number of political prisoners between 150,000 and 200,000.

Whatever the exact figure, the facts form a grim mosaic. Verified reports have appeared in the press around the globe, from Le Monde and The Observer to the Washington Post and Newsweek. We have heard the horror stories from the people of Vietnam from workers and peasants, Catholic nuns and Buddhist priests, from the boat people, the artists and professionals and those who fought alongside the NLF.

The jails are overflowing with thousands upon thousands of "detainees."

People disappear and never return.

People are shipped to re-education centers, fed a starvation diet of stale rice, forced to squat bound wrist to ankle, suffocated in "connex" boxes.

People are used as human mine detectors, clearing live mine fields with their hands and feet.

For many, life is hell and death is prayed for. Many victims are men, women and children who supported and fought for the causes of reunification and self-determination; those who as pacifists, members of religious groups, or on moral and philosophic grounds opposed the authoritarian policies of Thieu and Ky; artists and intellectuals whose commitment to creative expression is anathema to the totalitarian policies of your government. Requests by Amnesty International and others for impartial investigations of prison conditions remain unanswered. Families who inquire about husbands, wives, daughters or sons are ignored.

It was an abiding commitment to fundamental principles of human dignity, freedom and self-determination that motivated so many Americans to oppose the government of South Vietnam and our country's participation in the war. It is that same commitment that compels us to speak out against your brutal disregard of human rights. As in the 60s, we raise our voices now so that your people may live.

We appeal to you to end the imprisonment and torture-to allow an international team of neutral observers to inspect your prisons and re-education centers.

We urge you to follow the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights which, as a member of the United Nations, your country is pledged to uphold.

We urge you to reaffirm your stated commitment to the basic principles of freedom and human dignity ... to establish real peace in Vietnam.

Joan Baez
President, Humanitas/International Human Rights Committee


Ansel Adams
Edward Asner
Albert V. Baez
Joan c. Baez
Peter S. Beagle
Hugo Adam Bedau
Barton J. Bernstein
Daniel Berrigan
Robert Bly
Ken Botto
Kay Boyle
John Brodie
Edmund G. "Pat" Brown
Yvonne Braithwaite Burke
Henry B. Burnette, Jr.
Herb Caen
David Carliner
Cesar Chavez
Richard Pierre Claude
Bert Coffey
Norman Cousins
E. L. Doctorow
Benjamin Dreyfus
Ecumenical Peace Institute Staff
MiIni Farina
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Douglas A. Fraser
Dr. Lawrence Zelic Freedman
Joe Fury
Allen Ginsberg
Herbert Gold
David B. Goodstein
Sanford Gottlieb
Richard J. Guggenhime
Denis Goulet, Sr.
Bill Graham
Lee Grant
Peter Grosslight
Thomas J. Gumbleton
Terence Hallinan
Francis Heisler
Nat Hentoff
Rev. T. M. Hesburgh, C.J.C.
John T. Hitchcock
Art Hoppe
Dr. Irving L. Horowitz
Henry S. Kaplan, M.D.
R. Scott Kennedy
Roy C. Kepler
Seymour S. Kety
Peter Klotz-Chamberlin
Jeri Laber
Norman Lear
Philip R. Lee, M.D.
Alice Lynd
Staughton Lynd
Bradford Lyttle
Frank Mankiewicz
Bob T. Martin
James A. Michener
Marc Miller
Edward A. Morris
Mike Nichols
Peter Orlovsky
Michael R. Peevey
Geoffrey Cobb Ryan
Ginetta Sagan
Leonard Sagan, M.D.
Charles M. Schultz
Ernest L. Scott
Jack Sheinkman
Jerome J. Shestack
Gary Snyder
I. F. Stone
Rose Styron
William Styron
Lily Tomlin
Peter H. Voulkos
Grace Kennan Warnecke
Lina Wertmuller
Morris L. West
Dr. Jerome P. Wiesner
Jamie Wyeth
Peter Yarrow
Charles W. Yost

Friday, April 6, 2012

Libertarians in Media are clueless about the military

Gun Toting Socialist, David Weigel
There's no warfare like class warfare.

One of the sad things about the true Right, which includes libertarians, is the utter absence of military knowledge in the ranks of their scribes.  It is not an issue that many of us with decades of military experience are not libertarian, no it is just odd that magazines like Reason cannot manage to assign a single story that relates to the military to anybody with a day's worth of experience in uniform.  Worse than that, a basic item of being libertarian in America is actually knowing what is in the US Constitution.  This works out great when libertarians publish articles about marijuana legalization or abuses of police power, but they seem to have skipped Article 1, Section 8 when topics like Marines badmouthing the Commander-In-Chief pop up.

In his latest David Weigel impression, Mike Riggs tosses this bit of class warfare into the cloud:

Mike Riggs, David Weigel Impersonator
Dissenting While Enlisted Will Get You Fired, Dissenting While Commanding Gets You Retired

Riggs tosses out the false comparison between the treatment of a General who illegally badmouthed Vice President Biden and was summarily retired, with the treatment of a Marine Sergeant who was discharged, with nine years of service, for badmouthing the President.

Article 1, Section 8, states in part:
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
The Congress is empowered, actually commanded by the States to regulate the affairs of military people in a manner that they cannot do to civilians through the "organizing, arming, and disciplining" portion of the document that most libertarians hold dear.

In this case, it is a simple principle that crosses both government service and private employment grounds: badmouthing the boss can have severe consequences.  On a related point, Riggs' lack of knowledge is telling:

Could those remarks be interpreted as "prejudicial to good order and discipline"? I guess that depends on your rank. They were bad enough that Obama told McChrystal to resign or be fired, but they weren't bad enough for McChrystal to be discharged. 

Riggs' concept of what "be fired" means for a soldier amounts to getting a transfer to a new department, or being moved to a smaller office, like some screwup at the EPA.  Not the case.  Be fired means getting booted from the service, but it usually does not mean losing one's pension.

I know a retired Command Sergeant Major who was famous for this with the senior NCOs within his domain for infractions arguably much more severe than this, usually dereliction of duty related violations.  He would show up where the NCO was supposed to be working, knowing full well that they would not be there, track the NCO down and shove a resignation letter and a list of charges before the NCO, giving the NCO his choice of retiring or fighting the charges.  They always chose retirement.

Additionally, Riggs appears to be under the impression that a Sergeant got screwed out of a retirement check.  As most all Service Members know (as well as many other people), you are not eligible for retirement after only nine years of service.  If this Marine had 20 good years of service, odds are overwhelming that he would have been forced out as a retiree, just like the General.  Fact is, he was not even half-way to retirement so the point is moot.

Another factor here is the liberaltarian leanings of Reason magazine.  Their writers and readers tend to have the same attitude toward the US Military as college Liberal Arts professors and their fellow travelers at The Daily Worker, The Nation, Slate and MSNBC.
Update: Looks like Nick Gillespie, aka The Jacket of Reason, get it but he does not get to expand on how he came to his correct conclusion. Redeye from 5 APR 2012.