Sunday, April 19, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"The universe of low lifes"

Another case in which two men, each with a purpose driven life, meet and dispel all pretense of illusion.
James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

The inability of the literate class to deal with life's gritty realities has been a theme in literature at least as far back as Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh and was witheringly portrayed by Emil Jannings in The Blue Angel. One argument for the tradition of equating the governing class with the military officer corps was that active service is an education in the practical arts and the limits of theory. The practice of agriculture has similar effects and the governing class were traditionally engaged in landed pursuits rather than trade or the learned professions. Indeed the academic life was reserved for younger sons, whose advice was deeply suspect, and the clergy was infamously reserved for the fool in the family.

I think this is important. True he has said this before and is out of power but I wonder if complacent dinosaurs felt the tectonic plates shift and knew that the old safe world was passing.

Japanese politician is thinking of the unthinkable.
Nakagawa floats sobering option: going nuclear
Kyodo News
Japan should consider possessing nuclear weapons as a deterrent to a neighboring threat, former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa suggested Sunday.

In a speech in Obihiro, Hokkaido, in reference to North Korea's rocket launch earlier this month that many believe was a ballistic missile test, the hawkish lawmaker said: "It is common sense worldwide that in pure military terms, nuclear counters nuclear."

In Sunday's speech, Nakagawa said he believes North Korea has many Rodong medium-range missiles that could reach almost any part of Japan and also has small nuclear warheads.

"North Korea has taken a step toward a system whereby it can shoot without prior notice," he said. "We have to discuss countermeasures."

He added that public discussions must be promoted on what has long been considered a national taboo: whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons.

Nakagawa stepped down as finance minister in February over what appeared to be drunken behavior at an international news conference in Rome.

He has called for debate in the past on whether Japan should go nuclear, telling a TV program as chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council in October 2006 that the Constitution does not rule out Japan possessing nuclear arms.

Pyongyang that month carried out a nuclear test.

The side story to this reporting by the NY Times, on the less than novel fact that intelligence and police officers collect information from prostitutes, might be a play on the get out now sentiment that underlays much of their reporting. Remember how excited they got by the reports that the CIA was handing out Viagra™ to Afghan Warlords? They had the feminists seriously bleating, "We can't be a party to marital rape. Get out now." Once again they can demonstrate that our cause is tainted and immoral and therefor not worth fighting. It makes a good antidote to the heroic patrol piece.

Besides, there is no king,
be his cause never so spotless,
if it come to the arbitrement of swords,
can try it out with all unspotted soldiers
So, if a son that is by his father sent about
merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the
imputation of his wickedness by your rule, should be
imposed upon his father that sent him: or if a
servant, under his master's command transporting a
sum of money, be assailed by robbers and die in
many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the
business of the master the author of the servant's
damnation: but this is not so: the king is not
bound to answer the particular endings of his
soldiers, the father of his son, nor the master of
his servant; for they purpose not their death, when
they purpose their services. Besides, there is no
king, be his cause never so spotless, if it come to
the arbitrement of swords, can try it out with all
unspotted soldiers: some peradventure have on them
the guilt of premeditated and contrived murder;
some, of beguiling virgins with the broken seals of
perjury; some, making the wars their bulwark, that
have before gored the gentle bosom of peace with
pillage and robbery. Now, if these men have
defeated the law and outrun native punishment,
though they can outstrip men, they have no wings to
fly from God: war is his beadle, war is vengeance;
so that here men are punished for before-breach of
the king's laws in now the king's quarrel: where
they feared the death, they have borne life away;
and where they would be safe, they perish: then if
they die unprovided, no more is the king guilty of
their damnation than he was before guilty of those
impieties for the which they are now visited. Every
subject's duty is the king's; but every subject's
soul is his own. Therefore should every soldier in
the wars do as every sick man in his bed, wash every
mote out of his conscience: and dying so, death
is to him advantage; or not dying, the time was
blessedly lost wherein such preparation was gained:
and in him that escapes, it were not sin to think
that, making God so free an offer, He let him
outlive that day to see His greatness and to teach
others how they should prepare.

(who noted that post 9-11 the US can only bribe people of "good moral character")
We can only pay bribes to law abiding figures who do not take bribes. Joseph Heller would be proud.
Robert Torricelli was a Senator at the time of that piece of arrogance.
The British were famous for being more realistic about the way things work. In Miles Copeland's The Game of Nations he recounts that the Americans sent efficiency experts to Egypt in the 1950s who offered Nasser a plan to improve government services while reducing staff and cutting costs. The British sent a delegation who showed him how at a small cost in efficiency he could hire twice as many low paid clerks to do the same job. Nasser thanked the Americans politely and did business with the British.

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