Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Guess I should give a nod to my Irish heritage here.d

A reader sent me this:

Erin go bragh.

Sure, Luxembourg came by again. Where the fuck is Lichtenstein?

I've had multiple visits from Luxembourg, one of the smallest countries in the world. Andorra has come by. Small place. Lots of small countries have come by. So where the fuck is Lichtenstein? Monaco? San Marino? What about Kosovo, or Montenegro? You people need to come by.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

I would say I'm not sure what's wrong with the New York Times, but I am sure

Yet another post I've been sitting on for a while, mostly because I haven't been posting much, not because the post isn't worthwhile. But late last year, The New York Times launched a series of articles telling us how wonderful Soviet Communism was. They did so without a hint of irony, apparently:
The Trump administration marked this week’s 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution by declaring a National Day for the Victims of Communism. The New York Times marked the same anniversary in a different way: by running a series of articles extolling the virtues of communism.
The irony of the series’ title, “Red Century,” seems lost on the Times’s editors. The 20th century was “red” indeed — red with the blood of communism’s victims. The death toll of communism, cited in “The Black Book of Communism,” is simply staggering: In the USSR, nearly 20 million dead; China, 65 million; Vietnam, 1 million; Cambodia, 2 million; Eastern Europe, 1 million; Africa, 1.7 million; Afghanistan, 1.5 million; North Korea: 2 million (and counting). In all, Communist regimes killed some 100 million people — roughly four times the number killed by the Nazis — making communism the most murderous ideology in human history.
Never mind all that. University of Pennsylvania professor Kristen R. Ghodsee writes that Communists had better sex: “Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women . . . [who] had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.” She has tough words for Joseph Stalin because he “reversed much of the Soviet Union’s early progress in women’s rights — outlawing abortion and promoting the nuclear family.” Yes, that was Stalin’s crime. Not the purges, not the gulag, but promoting the nuclear family.
I guess the Times has a long history of loving them some communists. They didn't start with supporting North Vietnam in that conflict, after all:
The Times’s series is in the tradition set by former Times Moscow bureau chief Walter Duranty, who wrote glowing reports on Stalin’s rule that included repeated denials of the mass starvation from Stalin’s engineered famine in Ukraine. “Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda,” he wrote, while millions starved to death. And besides, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”
Now, after a century of slaughter, the Times is back at it, portraying communism as a noble cause, the murders carried out in its name simply aberrations. Never mind that there is not a single example of a country where communism was tried and it did not result in terror, purges, massacres, starvation and totalitarian misery. Yet take any of the opinion pieces above and replace the word “Communist” with “Nazi,” and then try to imagine that anyone would publish them, other than perhaps the Daily Stormer.
And, no, the Times never gave back the Pulitzer Prize that Duranty was awarded. The prize remains on display in the newpaper's building along with all of the paper's other Pulitzers. Duranty knew what was going on but declined to report on it. It is not clear whether he simply wanted to retain access to top Soviet officials or whether he agreed with them, but I know which choice I'm going with. And either way, Duranty was scum. So was -- and is -- his employer. It would be difficult to find a more biased "news" outlet.

What the fuck is wrong with Portland?

Portland, apparently, is determined to out-California California when it comes to being a sanctuary city. Deputies in the county that includes Portland were investigated for -- sit down -- potentially cooperating with federal immigration officials. Amazingly, they were cleared of any "wrongdoing:"
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office cleared deputies of violating internal policies by tipping off immigration officials.
Multnomah County released a statement Friday saying the Sheriff's Office's investigation revealed that the deputies didn't intentionally break Sheriff Mike Reese's protocols around enforcing federal immigration law. Reese has directed all staff to not release any more information than is given to the general public or provide special access to immigration authorities if contacted by them, according to a staff memo obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
I sat on this for a while because I had a hard time believing this could be true. Alas, it is. I don't know what the fuck is wrong with Portland. OK, maybe I do. Worse still is this line from the news report:
Multnomah County and Portland leaders have said that they are committed to remaining sanctuary jurisdictions for undocumented immigrants.
It remains unclear to me why cities or states that refuse to cooperate with federal law on immigration believe they should nonetheless continue to receive federal law enforcement money. But that's what they believe.

Remembering Tet, 50 years later

Fifty years ago, more or less -- not sure of the day -- my family got a telegram and, later that day, a visit from a Marine officer to let us know that my father, who was in Khe Sanh at the time, had been wounded. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart in that action and claimed forever after that he put a band-aid on it. The Tet Offensive was in full swing in early 1968, and the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army were trying to deliver a knockout blow.

We didn't go to school that day. My mother shut herself in her room, and when I asked my brother -- the oldest child, four years older than me -- why we weren't going to the bus stop, he told me, "Shut up. Dad got shot." I was seven, and I will never forget it.

The other thing I will never forget is Walter Cronkite telling me we had lost the war. As it turned out, he was right, but mostly, I think, because of Cronkite and similarly situated people saying that. Lyndon Johnson was the consummate politician and didn't want to piss anybody off who might vote for him. Once his party went anti-war, we were done. Thousands of our best lost their lives because the media convinced Johnson and the public that we were losing the war while Johnson, simultaneously, thought it would look bad if we just pulled out. He diddled, and people my family knew died as a result. All because, I think, of the media pushing a message that simply wasn't true.

Cronkite, a dedicated leftist who never skewed from the Democrat party line, put it like this:
To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations.
But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
What Cronkite willfully ignored and what was painfully clear to anybody willing to actually look was that the Tet Offensive was a massive defeat for the communists. The Viet Cong, clearly sent into action by the North Vietnamese for set-piece battles for which they were ill-suited, were essentially eliminated as a fighting force and were irrelevant for the rest of the war. The NVA suffered horrific casualties, especially at Khe Sanh but elsewhere as well, from which they never really recovered. the battle of Hue, one of South Vietnam's largest cities, was portrayed by the media at the time as a massive U.S. defeat.

The Marine Corps, rightly so, views Hue as one of their finest moments. It wasn't pretty, but in house-to-house fighting, the Marines blasted the NVA and Viet Cong out of that city, one building at a time. Because the NVA and VC were ordered not to retreat, enormous numbers of them died in place. Marine casualties were high, but nowhere near what the communists suffered. Hue was the last truly major battle of the war, as the North Vietnamese afterward settled for nipping at the edges. That steady stream of casualties eroded the U.S. will to fight, largely thanks to Cronkite and company convincing the public we were fighting a losing war. It was a self-fulling prophecy. But it wasn't true:
The communist attack on Hue, South Vietnam’s third largest city, was part of North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive. Viet Cong units infiltrated the city dressed as ordinary civilians and after midnight on Jan. 30, 1968 they seized key strongpoints. Five thousand North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops also swarmed down on the ancient provincial capital.
. . .
Besides being outnumbered, the Marines were hampered by bone-chilling cold weather and rain that limited visibility and air support. They also fought under strict rules of engagement that excluded the use of heavy artillery and air strikes within the bounds of the historic city.
Apart from a handful of tanks, Marines had to retake Hue only with the weapons they could carry on their backs against a fanatical Viet Cong and NVA armed with mortars, rockets and heavy machine guns – and ready to fight to the death house by house, sometimes room by room.
. . .
Though completely outnumbered, the Marines managed to clear the enemy from the southern and eastern sectors of Hue less than two weeks after the battle started. Then they relieved exhausted South Vietnamese troops to retake the city’s historic citadel.
By Feb. 24, the Marines had regained almost all of Hue. On the 25th, Marine Capt. James Coolican led soldiers from South Vietnam’s elite Black Panthers in storming the last NVA stronghold, the Imperial Palace.
On Feb. 28, Marines moved to cut off the remaining NVA forces fleeing the city. On March 2 Operation Hue City officially ended, after 216 Americans had been killed in action and 1,584 were wounded. Communist losses were more than 5,000 killed and wounded.
Fuck Walter Cronkite and what he did to this country. You can argue that we shouldn't have been in Vietnam to begin with -- and you might be right -- but that one's on John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Once we were there, fight the damn war. Johnson never fought anything but the next election, and he begged off of that, choosing not to seek another term because he knew he'd fucked up. Tet was a win for the U.S., but like Barack Obama decades later in Iraq, Johnson let the media turn it into a loss. And, yeah, a single Marine regiment held off four NVA divisions at Khe Sanh and rendered two of them combat ineffective.

Minnesota really wants to ban conservative t-shirts

Minnesota, a mondo-liberal state, has a law that bans people from wearing politically themed tee-shirts at polling places when they go to vote. No, of course this does not violate the First Amendment. How could it, since it is applied equally across the board, no matter what the political message might be. Right? Um, maybe not so much.

The statute is being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. A man named Andrew Cilek attempted to vote in 2010 wearing a shirt that bore an image of the "Don't Tread on Me" flag from pre-revolution days and wore a button that said "Please I.D. Me." A poll worker told him he had to remove the shirt and button. Hat tip to Hot Air.

Cilek, being a reasonable person, sued, contending that the standard for enforcement was arbitrary because poll workers are chosen by local political parties. To say the least, Minnesota's attorney before the Supreme Court recently didn't do much to dispel that notion. In fact, he pretty much made Cilek's case for him:
JUSTICE ALITO: How about a shirt with a rainbow flag? Would that be permitted?
MR. ROGAN: A shirt with a rainbow flag? No, it would — yes, it would be — it would be permitted unless there was — unless there was an issue on the ballot that — that related somehow to — to gay rights.
JUSTICE ALITO: How about a shirt that says “Parkland Strong”?
MR. ROGAN: No, that would — that would be — that would be allowed. I think -­ I think, Your Honor -­
JUSTICE ALITO: Even though gun control would very likely be an issue?
MR. ROGAN: To the extent -­
JUSTICE ALITO: I bet some candidate would raise an issue about gun control.
MR. ROGAN: Your Honor, the — the -­ the line that we’re drawing is one that is -­ is related to electoral choices in a -­
JUSTICE ALITO: Well, what’s the answer to this question? You’re a polling official. You’re the reasonable person. Would that be allowed or would it not be allowed?
MR. ROGAN: The — the Parkland?
MR. ROGAN: I — I think — I think today that I — that would be — if — if that was in Minnesota, and it was “Parkland Strong,” I — I would say that that would be allowed in, that there’s not -­
JUSTICE ALITO: Okay. How about an NRA shirt?
MR. ROGAN: An NRA shirt? Today, in Minnesota, no, it would not, Your Honor. I think that that’s a clear indication — and I think what you’re getting at, Your Honor -­
JUSTICE ALITO: How about a shirt with the text of the Second Amendment?
MR. ROGAN: Your Honor, I — I — I think that that could be viewed as political, that that — that would be — that would be -­
JUSTICE ALITO: How about the First Amendment?
MR. ROGAN: No, Your Honor, I don’t -­ I don’t think the First Amendment. And, Your Honor, I -­
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: No — no what, that it would be covered or wouldn’t be allowed?
MR. ROGAN: It would be allowed.
MR. ROGAN: It would be. And — and I think the — I understand the — the idea, and I’ve — I’ve — there are obviously a lot of examples that — that have been bandied about here –
JUSTICE ALITO: Yeah, well, this is the problem. How about a Colin Kaepernick jersey?
MR. ROGAN: No, Your Honor, I don’t think that that would be under — under our statute. And I think -­
JUSTICE ALITO: How about “All Lives Matter”?
MR. ROGAN: That could be, Your Honor, that could be — that could be perceived as political. And I — I think obviously, Your Honor, there — there are some hard calls and
there are always going to be hard calls. And that — that doesn’t mean that the line that we’ve drawn is — is unconstitutional or even unreasonable.
JUSTICE ALITO: How about an “I Miss Bill” shirt?
MR. ROGAN: I’m sorry, Your Honor? I didn’t –
JUSTICE ALITO: “I Miss Bill,” or to make it bipartisan, a “Reagan/Bush ’84” shirt?
MR. ROGAN: Yes, Your Honor, I believe that that’s political.
So the First Amendment is OK, but the Second Amendment isn't? No NRA shirts, but Parkland Strong is OK? I don't know who Mr. Rogan is -- presumably someone in the office of the Minnesota Attorney General, or at least someone in the employ of that office -- but he did a really shitty job of arguing that the law is even-handed in barring political speech at polling places. In fact, a law based on the content of speech would be suspect to begin with. One that is defended in the manner that Mr. Rogan employed likely is doomed from the beginning. Rogan made it clear that enforcement will be arbitrary, as Mr. Cilek contends, or worse, that it will skew in favor of leftists in enforcement.

This should be a 9-0 decision to overturn the law. It won't be. It will be 5-4, because the four progressives on the court will vote to uphold it regardless. I hope I'm wrong on that, but I doubt it.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Mozambique, not for the first time, but the best time

Mozambique came by. Had a visit from Mozambique in the past, noted how much I like the Bob Dylan song of that name from the album "Desire," but couldn't find a cut. Found one. Turn it up:

Love me some Bobby. Thanks to Mozambique for coming by.