Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Insight into TO

People are always asking, what do you collect? Well, I collect postcards from my travels, which I am compiling into a book which I will first serialize here. And I also collect viewmaster reels. I love those things. They combine two of my favorite things, three-dimensional representations of life and cultural artifacts from the 40's and 50's.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thank you, George W Bush

Before our long national nightmare begins, with the corrupt Chicago pol who used to be a cokehead Hawaii stoner about to occupy the Oval Office, I want to take a minute to thank a man who displayed real class and leadership while president. Thank you, Mr Bush. I actually knew George W. Bush, before he was even governor of Texas, back in 1988. He used to come into the bookstore where I worked, usually to buy a paperback and some books for the girls. He was incredibly personable, and very gracious.

I have voted for him four times with enthusiasm. The first time was because I knew him and since then, because I have been impressed with his leadership. I know him to be an honorable man, and I have never once been disappointed. He has served honorably, done what he thinks is right, and showed real courage. I will never forget him striding out on the mound in the 2001 World Series in Yankee Stadium and throwing a strike right over the plate. That was amazing, and I still get choked up thinking about it.

I have friends who have been on deck at Bethesda when the President has gone through the wards, without fanfare, and they all say what a wonderful, inspirational man he is.

I catch flak from people who can't believe I am such a passionate fan of George W. Bush, but I always tell them "His critics cannot stand him because he stands for something. He believes in God, he believes in the US and the negative perception of him is based entirely on caricatures perpetrated by the enemies of the United States, namely, the mainstream media." As Christopher Hitchens says, "George Bush jokes are ones that stupid people laugh at."

God bless you Sir, and thanks again. Semper fidelis.

Gateway Pundit has a great retrospective and comparison.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Computer program predicts text of Obama's Inaugural

My fellow Americans, today is a rancid day. You have shown the world that "hope" is not just another word for "flatulence", and that "change" is not only something we can believe in again, but something we can actually hump.

Today we celebrate, but let there be no mistake – America faces foetid and flaccid challenges like never before. Our economy is ghastly. Americans can barely afford their mortgages, let alone have enough money left over for baggies of crack. Our healthcare system is punchdrunk. If your ass is sick and you don't have insurance, you might as well call a manicurist. And America's image overseas is tarnished like a greasy drainplug. But bumping together we can right this ship, and set a course for your mamma's backyard.

Finally, I must thank my gassy family, my boring campaign volunteers, but most of all, I want to thank you morons for making this historic occasion possible. Of course, I must also thank you, President Bush, for years of blessing the American people. Without your noble efforts, none of this would have been possible.

Try it yourself

Thursday, January 15, 2009

China India

I do not envisage imminent China-India cooperation for two reasons. First, China’s ambitions will eventually run up against India’s own goal to be “hegemon in South Asia.” (Elkin, 463) China sees its relations to its neighbor defined by “whole-hearted submission to a ruler” achieved through diplomacy or force. (Zhang) Clearly, this is incompatible with India’s interests.

Secondly, India’s military increasingly chafes under civilian control and is asserting its own prerogatives. (Pai, “Overseas”) The Indian Army, more distrustful of Chinese intentions since both sides have been arrayed opposite each other for 60 years, is unlikely to acquiesce to civilian negotiated agreements.
It is much more likely that the US will align with India for the following reasons. 1) India and the US share the same enemies and competitors. China has not renounced its hegemonistic designs on the region, and the Taliban is moving towards control of nuclear Pakistan. China will not resist the lure of Siberia as Russia implodes. The Chinese Army on the move would be deeply disturbing to India and the US, driving those countries together. 2) India is a functioning democracy, and therefore a more natural friend to the US than Communist China.

Tellis points out that India has long sought, as part of its “non-aligned” movement, to develop its own weapons. This effort has faltered, and this failure represents a blow to Indian nationalism. The question will be whether India will address its technology gap by purchasing foreign arms or continue sinking money into failed indigenous technologies? Purchasing US arms would solidify the US relationship to effectively challenge China, yet hurt Indian pride, while continuing to go it alone will probably result in falling yet further behind China, to India’s political detriment.

Sources cited:

Elkin, Jerrod (1994) India. Defense policies of nations: A comparative study third edition edited by Douglas Murray et. al. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Pai, Nitin (2008) Overseas military deployments & defence decisionmaking: India needs to rethink its defence decisionmaking system. Week 6 Packet (12 November).

Zhang Quanyi (2009) Resolving China's border disputes. Global Survey (January 8) accessed 9 January 2009.

Keepin' Hope Alive!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gran Torino

I read a review of Gran Torino written by Green Mamba on the website, Big Hollywood. "I just saw ‘Gran Torino’ and I have to say I thought it was awful. Yes, Eastwood has his special charisma and the ending is undeniably satisfying, but most of the film is embarrassingly clunky, key moments are entirely predictable, and the Asian lead actors are especially amateurish and unconvincing."

He, or she, is right on with that comment. Unfortunately, what the Mamba (Green) wrote applies to everything Eastwood has done since Unforgiven. He’s cheap, he doesn’t bother rehearsing, and amazingly, it shows.

By the way, isn’t it good that we can count on Hollywood to zero in and investigate the most troublesome fault-line in American race relations, whites vs Laotians? That is similar to the way that Tom Cruise wanted a fresh look at people exhibiting courage in confronting evil. So, he chose to star in a movie about soldiers fighting Islamic terrorists, oops, check that, by showing Nazis fighting Nazis. Yawn.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Advice to Hollywood

I would offer a compromise with the Hollywood types who make these anti-war bombs. I will watch your movies, regardless of the "message," if you portray the Marines in them straight-up. Marines sometimes do crappy things and Generals make some decisions with an eye on the domestic political situation and their future job prospects. However, there are a lot more Marines who do noble and even heroic things. If you, Mr Hollywood Producer, want to make movies in which some Marines do terrible things as a metaphor for the "heart of darkness," roger that. Just realistically portray the other Marines around them. I know from experience that most of us will fast forward past the eye-roll inducing message scenes, and revel in the motivational Gunny Hartman squadbay tirades or Col Jessep's "you want me on that wall" -type soliloquies.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

All time Favorite Movies

1. Casablanca – “Oh, he's just like any other man, only more so.”

2. Holiday Inn – “Count your worries, instead of sheep”

3. Singles – “The thing about Cliff is, he has all this fierce integrity.”

4. Honeymoon in Vegas – “You took me to Las Vegas, and you turned me into a whore, Jack!” “I HAD A STRAIGHT FLUSH! It’s like, unbeatable! Like unbeatable is not unbeatable, Jack. Hey I KNOW THAT NOW!” “Will you please stop crucifying me with this!?!” “Do you find Chief Orman attractive?” “What are you going to do, put me in airport jail?”

5. Chicago – “Mister Cellophane / 'Cause you can look right through me / Walk right by me / And never know I'm there.”

6. High Noon – “People gotta talk themselves into law and order before they do anything about it. Maybe because down deep they don't care. They just don't care.”

7. Scaramouche – “You have a demon in you, this fine day. Lose it or you'll not live to see another.”

8. Bridges at Toko Ri – “Where do we get such men?”

9. Destination Tokyo – “There's lots of Mikes dying right now. And a lot more Mikes will die. Until we wipe out a system that puts daggers in the hands of five-year-old children.”

10. Detective Story – “I hate criminals. I don't believe in coddling them.”

11. Casino Royal – “Do you want a clean kill or do you want to send a message?”

12. 300 – “This is Sparta!”

13. Henry V – “For he today that sheds his blood with me, Shall be my brother”

14. Caddyshack – “Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in / And you’ve got the stock market beat. / But the man who’s worthwhile, is the man who can smile / When his pants are too tight in the seat.”

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

China's Strategic Position

China is repeating the mistake made by the USSR in the 80’s by challenging the United States to an arms race with an economy unable to support the expenditures. (Arbel) Chinese banks are insolvent and the prosperity seemingly evident in gleaming Chinese cities has not made it to the 23% of the population who are unemployed. (Wolf) The Chinese might be able to, for a time, produce armaments comparable to those of the US, but there is no way the Chinese defense output could match an aroused US defense industry abetted by the Koreans and Japanese.

The Chinese economy is hollow. The Chinese government decided to allow banks to ignore non-performing loans in the interest of keeping manufacturing companies open, confident that Western consumers would continue buying goods to allow the economy to grow out of all the bad paper the banks are carrying. However, Western consumers stopped buying goods in October, and the Chinese economy started to grind down. Given the miserable fundamentals of the Chinese economy and the intrinsic corruption, there is little likelihood that additional foreign capital will do anything but line the pockets of those at the top.

It is possible that China could reform their economy to make it to actually competitive with the US, but that would require the ruling class to relinquish their corrupt control on banking and manufacture. I think that is an unlikely occurrence short of revolution. However, when China descends into revolution as history predicts, contemporary analysts will be as flummoxed as they were by the breakup of the USSR, wondering how they missed the signs so apparent in retrospect.

China is not really a competitor for the United States in developing indigenous technology. However, given that extensive Chinese espionage in the United States “saves China the time and cost of researching and developing advanced technologies,” (Claburn) there has been some question as to whether China will be able to close this gap. The answer remains unknown.

Sources cited:

Arbel, David and Ran Edelist (2003) Western intelligence and the collapse of the Soviet Union, 1980-1990: Ten years that did not shake the world. London: Frank Cass.

Claburn, Thomas (2007) Chinese espionage cited as top risk to U.S. technology industry. InformationWeek (November 19);jsessionid=GRWRJSCRV2IDKQSNDLOSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleID=203103255&_requestid=188221 accessed 3 January 2009.

Wolf, Jr., Charles, K. C. Yeh, Benjamin Zycher, Nicholas Eberstadt, and Sung-Ho Lee (2003) Fault lines in China’s economic terrain. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Russian Domination

Russia’s economy is based on exploiting hydrocarbons, which requires the participation of Central Asian republics. Since Putin would rather dominate than cooperate with neighbors, he has attempted of late to recreate the USSR by bullying smaller countries, hoping thereby to intimidate other former Soviet republics. (Torbakov) This strategy will be unsuccessful since the gambit exposed the inherent weakness of Russia, rather than communicating strength. (Isachenkov) Further, Central Asia is Muslim with surging populations while Russia is Christian with a collapsing population. (Mamadazimov) These fundamental differences and the exposed weakness of Russia will result in a geopolitical rupture with the Central Asian Republics.

There are two reasons Putin will ultimately prove unsuccessful at bringing the Muslim Central Asian republics back into his sphere. The first is the relatively decrepit nature of his armed forces. Should Putin actually attempt some kind of empire building adventure, Russia would face insurgencies there that the Russian military has shown no ability to counter. Secondly, Russia has tried, largely successfully, to repair its image among Muslims aggrieved by the Chechnya situation to avoid terror attackes directed against its interests. Intervention in Central Asia would destroy those efforts, and bring unwanted terrorist attention.

The rupture is likely to occur in slow motion. The Central Asian republics will forge their own foreign policies, balancing approaches from the US, Iran, Arab States and China as well as Russia. The more freedom of maneuver these countries experience in the international sphere, the better they will be at it and the less likely they will become satellites of any power. I think it is unlikely that the Central Asian members of the CIS would look to the EU, considering how unwelcome Turkey, a full member of NATO, has been in the EU.

Sources cited

Isachenkov, Vladimir. (2008) War reveals Russia's military might and weakness. Associated Press Wire (August 18) accessed 25 December 08.

Mamadazimov, Abdugani. (2004) Tajikistan’s national security: problems and prospects. Central Asia and the Caucus Journal of Political and Social Studies 26: 2 (March) pg 87.

Torbakov, Igor (2003) Parliamentary elections signal growing Russian assertiveness towards CIS neighbors. Eurasia Insight (December 18) accessed 25 December 2008

Friday, January 02, 2009

A look into the mind of TO

People are always asking me, "TO, why are you the way you are?" The best answer goes back to the time I spent as a child in my grandparents' house. They had these pictures framed, always staring down on me, and I was seriously weirded out by them. I think at a glance, you will see that individually these paintings are alarming, but as decor, are monstrous. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Make time to watch cool old movies on Turner Classic Movies, or listen to some radio shows from the '50's. You will thank me.