December 12th, 2014

I ♥ Kate Middleton’s dress

I don’t care if you think me superficial. I love, love, love this dress. I love the color, so perfect for us brunettes. I love the style. I love the material. And it’s even more astounding that Kate Middleton is about five months pregnant in these photos:



It turns out that Kate’s worn the dress before, in her non-pregnant state. How versatile of her!

The dress also reminds me a mite of another I’ve featured before—Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress, especially the top part of it—although the color, material, waistline, skirt, and drape are different:


December 12th, 2014

When is a big bad government shutdown not a big bad government shutdown?

When a liberal’s pushing it.

December 12th, 2014

On the passage of the funding bill known as “CRomnibus”

Moderates from both parties united to squeak the so-called Cromnibus funding bill through. The right is railing against the passage of the bill, and the left isn’t too happy either. You can see some of the opinions and analyses if you go to memeorandum, and if you want to read an analysis from a blogger on the right who can’t stand the Republican Party, take a look at Drew’s piece at Ace’s.

My reaction?

I observe once again that politicians are concerned with money, especially with rewarding the donors on whom they depend. They don’t want to bite the hands that feed them. This is not going to change unless something fundamental changes (something I don’t see changing, by the way), and it affects both parties and all future parties and politicians as well. You can’t exactly say it’s human nature, but it’s certainly the nature of politics. Most Republicans and the Democrats who voted for this bill were motivated strongly (although not wholly) by these considerations, and it is not surprising.

In addition, a majority of the American people seem to have decided (quite some time ago; during and after the New Deal) that they don’t want to give up their federal largesses, either. So although conservatives clamor for fiscal austerity, when push comes to shove the majority of voters will say “austerity for him, not for me!” So big government has grown apace.

To change these things requires a patient and long-term education (or re-education?) of the American people. It wouldn’t be easy, and it wouldn’t be quick. Another way these things could change, of course, is by the occurrence of some really catastrophic event (financial collapse, for example), but catastrophic events can just as easily lead to tyranny (actually, can more easily lead to tyranny) than they can lead to conservative principles being universally recognized as true and desirable to implement.

Those who say, “That’s it; no more voting for Republicans!” are ignoring the fact that that would be essentially committing political suicide for conservatives and insuring the triumph of the left. I say (as I’ve said many times before): expend your efforts to effect the ascendance of conservative candidates at the grass-roots level, vote for the conservative candidate in the primaries if there is a good one available and running, and work on the big three (media, education, entertainment). But don’t abandon the political process, and once the primary is over, if there’s no conservative candidate vote for the Republican in the general (it will most likely be better than the Democratic, especially in areas such as the appointment of federal judges, an extremely important issue).

Back to CRomnibus. An important element there is that those who thought having another huge budget battle was going to help defund Obama’s immigration order may have been mistaken, because apparently the order is self-funded and not dependent on the budget or Congress at all:

It would be “impossible” to defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration through a government spending bill, the House Appropriations Committee said Thursday.

In a statement released by Committee Chairman Hal Rogers’s (R-Ky.) office hours before Obama’s scheduled national address, the committee said the primary agency responsible for implementing Obama’s actions is funded entirely by user fees.
As a result, the committee said the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) agency would be able to continue to collect fees and carry out its operations even if the government shut down.

“This agency is entirely self-funded through the fees it collects on various immigration applications,” the committee said in a statement. “Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its operations, including the issuance of immigration status or work permits, with the exception of the ‘E-Verify’ program. Therefore, the appropriations process cannot be used to ‘defund’ the agency.”

Others have challenged the statement, saying that indeed it could be defunded at least partially.

For what it’s worth (and I have no idea whether it’s worth anything), Republican opponents of Obama’s immigration order are talking tough:

Steve Scalise, the new Republican whip, crowed after the vote that “tonight we set the stage for a battle with the president on his illegal actions when we have a Republican Senate in just four weeks.” He then added “that battle will be very viciously fought.” The question is whether the cromnibus, which won’t tie the immigration fight to a potential government shutdown, hurt the GOP’s leverage in that fight. Some ardent Republicans like Steve King of Iowa were “not optimistic” about what immigration hawks could do in the next Congress if the cromnibus passed.

More on that:

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions said during a panel hearing on the “cromnibus” Wednesday that Republicans plan to bring up legislation similar to an amendment offered by Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina that would prohibit the president from carrying out his immigration action.“Mr. Mulvaney has given us an amendment that works perfectly well,” Sessions said, saying he will “guarantee” that the Rules Committee, “in the new Congress, in the first two weeks,” would have a meeting to put that legislation on the House floor.

Sessions said he believed those in the country posed a threat to national security, and that the “rule of law” must be upheld. But he made it clear that the Rules Committee did not intend to have a fight over the president’s executive action in the cromnibus, thus effectively saying the amendment would not be made in order.

GOP leadership is trying to present the argument that the best chance for success is after the new Congress is sworn in. “We should not put a government shutdown on the table when Republicans have minimal leverage to change this law, particularly when Republican control of the Senate is a month away,” Sessions said.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (as opposed to Rep. Pete Sessions, quoted above) is the member of Congress who has been consistently tough on immigration, and is a smart and principled guy as well (for a politician, that is). This is what he had to say:

…[T]the legislation that passed tonight funds through September of next year many policies that the House itself rejected only a few months ago. In effect, the omnibus provides the Administration with billions of dollars to carry out President Obama’s resettlement plan for illegal immigrants in U.S. communities. The legislation also continues to allow the recipients of the President’s amnesty to receive billions of dollars in government checks in the form of tax credits and to participate in programs through myriad government agencies such as Social Security and Medicare.

The American people are justly worried about their jobs, their schools, and their communities. They have rightly demanded a lawful system of immigration that serves their interests – not the special interests. They have correctly pleaded with their lawmakers to finally adopt immigration policies that put their needs – the needs of American citizens – first. So, to them I say: we are only just beginning. We are going to fight harder than we ever have before.

Those who think that this issue will recede, or fade away, are mistaken. The voice of the American people will be heard.

I wish we could clone Sessions and fill the Senate with those clones. But short of that I hope he finds enough allies to win his fight. It will be interesting—extremely interesting—to see which of the “establishment” Republicans join him and which ones do not.

December 12th, 2014

You can’t make this stuff up

Even Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Stephen Glass combined couldn’t make this stuff up.

December 11th, 2014

The president of Smith College slips up…

…and mistakenly declares that “all lives matter.”

Then she apologizes for her grievous error:

“I regret that I was unaware the phrase/hashtag ‘all lives matter’ has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against Black people,” she wrote.

In her apology e-mail, McCartney also shared some of the student emails she received.

She quoted one student as saying: “It minimizes the anti-blackness of this the current situation; yes, all lives matter, but not all lives are being targeted for police brutality. The black students at this school deserve to have their specific struggles and pain recognized, not dissolved into the larger student body.”

I am sure that after a short sojourn in the stocks McCartney will be perfectly okay and will not have to forfeit her job as a result of her faux pas, or go to the re-education camps.

This statement of MCartney’s is the logical extension of a trend that began (or reached critical mass) at Cornell during the 60s. As I wrote about that incident:

In previous posts of mine about Allan Bloom’s highly-recommended book The Closing of the American Mind, I’ve mentioned that one of the most riveting parts of the book is when Bloom describes the moral collapse of the faculty and administration of so many universities during the 60s, their abject and craven failure to defend their own principles, and their eager willingness to cave to threats and intimidation…

In the following excerpt Bloom is describing an incident that occurred when he was a faculty member at Cornell during the late 60s, when black militants with guns occupied a campus building and made demands. Bloom had gone to the university provost to speak up for a black student of his (unnamed in the book, but actually Alan Keyes—who happens, in a strange twist of fate, to have been the person Barack Obama soundly defeated in his 2004 US Senate race, when Keyes was put on the Republican ballot as a hasty substitute for Jack Ryan). Keyes had earlier been threatened by a black professor at Cornell for refusing to take part in a demonstration. Here’s what Bloom says transpired [emphasis mine]:

The provost had a mixture of cowardice and moralism not uncommon at the time. He did not want trouble. His president had frequently cited Clark Kerr’s dismissal at the University of California as the great danger…At the same time the provost thought he was engaged in a great moral work, righting the historic injustice done to blacks. He could justify to himself the humiliation he was undergoing as a necessary sacrifice. The case of this particular black student clearly bothered him. But he was both more frightened of the violence-threatening extremists and also more admiring of them. Obvious questions were no longer obvious. Why could not a black student be expelled as a white student would be if he failed his courses or disobeyed the rules that make university community possible? Why could the president not call the police if order was threatened? Any man of weight would have fired the professor who threatened the life of the student. The issue was not complicated. Only the casuistry of weakness and ideology made it so…No one who knew or cared about what a university is would have acquiesced in this travesty. It was no surprise that a few weeks later—immediately after the faculty had voted overwhelmingly under the gun to capitulate to outrageous demands that it had a few days earlier rejected—the leading members of the administration and many well-known faculty members rushed over to congratulate the gathered students and tried to win their approval. I saw exposed before all the world what had long been known, and it was at last possible without impropriety to tell these pseudo-universitarians precisely what one thought of them.

It was also no surprise that many of those professors who had been most eloquent in their sermons about the sanctity of the university, and who had presented themselves as its consciences, were among those who reacted, if not favorably, at least weakly to what was happening. They had made careers out of saying how badly the German professors [during the Nazi era] had reacted to violations of academic freedom. This was all light talk and mock heroics, because they had not measured the potential threats to the university nor assessed the doubtful grounds of academic freedom. Above all, they did not think that it could be assaulted from the Left or from within the university…These American professors were utterly disarmed, as were many German professors, when the constituency they took for granted, of which they honestly believed they were independent, deserted or turned against them…To fulminate against Bible Belt preachers was one thing. In the world that counted for these professors, this could only bring approval. But to be isolated in the university, to be called foul names by their students or their colleagues, all for the sake of an abstract idea, was too much for them. They were not in general strong men, although their easy rhetoric had persuaded them that they were—that they alone manned the walls protecting civilization. Their collapse was merely pitiful, although their feeble attempts at self-justification frequently turned vicious. In Germany the professors who kept quiet had the very good excuse that they could not do otherwise. Speaking up would have meant imprisonment or death. The law not only did not protect them but was their deadly enemy. At Cornell there was no such danger…There was essentially no risk in defending the integrity of the university, because the danger was entirely within it. All that was lacking was a professorial corps aware of the university’s purpose, and dedicated to it. That is what made the surrender so contemptible.

In the forty-five years since that capitulation at Cornell, much has happened. University presidents such as McCartney are usually already so leftist themselves that their “surrender” isn’t really a surrender at all, merely an acknowledgment of a momentary slip-up in an otherwise seamless web of leftist PC thought, from administration to professor to student and back again, everyone dancing in a ring.

Circle dancing is magic. It speaks to us through the millennia from the depths of human memory. Madame Raphael had cut the picture out of the magazine and would stare at it and dream. She too longed to dance in a ring. All her life she had looked for a group of people she could hold hands with and dance with in a ring. First she looked for them in the Methodist Church (her father was a religious fanatic), then in the Communist Party, then among the Trotskyites, then in the anti-abortion movement (A child has a right to life!), then in the pro-abortion movement (A woman has a right to her body!); she looked for them among the Marxists, the psychoanalysts, and the structuralists; she looked for them in Lenin, Zen Buddhism, Mao Tse-tung, yogis, the nouveau roman, Brechtian theater, the theater of panic; and finally she hoped she could at least become one with her students, which meant she always forced them to think and say exactly what she thought and said, and together they formed a single body and a single soul, a single ring and a single dance.

December 11th, 2014

Truth in liberal journalism…

…all-too-frequently seems an oxymoron, as Mollie Hemingway documents in this Federalist article.

Most readers of blogs on the right know this, and have known it for many years. Not only that, but bloggers and other pundits on the right have been saying and proving it, over and over, for many years. Why has this fact not penetrated more into public consciousness?

For liberals, there is really no motivation to doubt the veracity of media sources the person has relied on for most of his/her life. In fact, it can be very threatening and disturbing to look into claims that the The NY Times, The Boston Globe, etc., are riding on years of misplaced trust.

When I try to discuss this topic with friends, I’m met with one or more of the following:

(1) Lack of interest: the person is not paying much attention to news, and usually just reads a headline and the first paragraph or so of a story.

(2) Lack of critical thinking: the ability to follow a logical argument and see the flaws in a story is not a universal trait, even in intelligent people. It is actually quite rare, but the ability to see through propaganda depends on it. That is why propaganda works so very well.

(3) A cynical kneejerk equivalence: “Oh, both sides do it equally.” When I try to explain that one of the reasons for my political change was that I discovered—not because anyone told me to think it, but through close reading of newspaper articles and comparison with original sources—that the liberal press was far more inaccurate than the conservative press, and often purposely/obviously so, people typically tune me out and say that I’m only seeing what I’m looking for. When I say that I made the observation back when I was a liberal, and therefore it was information I was not looking for but which thrust itself upon me until I could not deny it, they have no answer but manage somehow to go onto another topic.

For leftists rather than liberals, there’s a fourth reaction (if they’re being honest, which they sometimes are):

(4)Truth doesn’t matter in furtherance of the proper narrative, and the ends justify the means if the ends benefit the left.

You can see all of these reasons in the reaction to the unraveling of the Rolling Stone UVA story.

December 11th, 2014

ISIS: a bunch of…

entrepreneurial ghouls:

Middlemen with ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have turned to a grim new method of trying to secure funds in recent days. With the group having failed to strike deals to ransom the U.S. hostages in its custody — instead beheading three of them since July — its intermediaries are now trying to negotiate the sale of the body of at least one of the men it killed.

Vile, but not really new. Palestinian terrorists have been trading Israeli bodies for live prisoners for a long time. And here is an exchange that featured the sides reversed. In general, though, I’m not aware of any Palesinian/Israeli body exchanges that involved money.

December 10th, 2014

No wonder Jackie wanted Rolling Stone to take her out of the story before it was published

After reading this article in the WaPo, we can safely say that it now appears likely that UVA’s Jackie didn’t just lie about whether she was raped at a fraternity. She appears to have lied about almost everything connected with whatever did or did not happen during some sort of incident that may or may not have occurred, and about the immediate aftermath.

Other than that, a very believable narrator.

Or maybe it was reporter Erdely who is responsible for some of the lies. At this point, we can be forgiven if we have trouble sorting it out.

According to Erdely, Jackie told three friends of the sexual assault shortly after it supposedly happened, and they suggested she keep mum. But the friends say that the story she told that night was not about a rape by nine men, but about being forced to give a group of five men oral sex.

Erdely not only did not try very hard to interview the alleged rapists, she also never interviewed Jackie’s three confidantes, and claimed that one of them refused to allow her an interview. But funny thing, now they are talking to the WaPo, and they’re telling a very different story:

The [Erdely] account alleged that the students worried about the effect it might have on their social status, how it might reflect on Jackie during the rest of her collegiate career, and how they suggested not reporting it. It set up the article’s theme: That U-Va. has a culture that is indifferent to rape.

“It didn’t happen that way at all,” Andy [one of Jackie's three friends] said.

Instead, the friends remember being shocked. Though they did not notice any blood or visible injuries, they said they immediately urged Jackie to speak to police and insisted that they find her help. Instead, they said, Jackie declined and asked to be taken back to her dorm room. They went with her — two of them said they spent the night — seeking to comfort Jackie in what appeared to be a moment of extreme turmoil.

The students also expressed suspicions about Jackie’s allegations from that night. They said the name she provided as that of her date did not match anyone at the university, and U-Va. officials confirmed to The Post that no one by that name has attended the school.

And photographs that were texted to one of the friends showing her date that night actually were pictures depicting one of Jackie’s high school classmates in Northern Virginia. That man, now a junior at a university in another state, confirmed that the photographs are of him and said he barely knew Jackie and hasn’t been to Charlottesville for at least six years.

The friends said they never were contacted or interviewed by the pop culture magazine’s reporters or editors. Though vilified in the article as coldly indifferent to Jackie’s ordeal, the students said they cared deeply about their friend’s well-being and safety. Randall said that they made every effort to help Jackie that night.

“She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma,” Randall said. “I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before and I really hope I never have to again. … If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”

The Rolling Stone article also said that Randall declined to be interviewed, “citing his loyalty to his own frat.” He told The Post that he never was contacted by Rolling Stone and would have agreed to an interview…

You really, really, really have to read the whole thing, because that’s just the small stuff; it actually gets worse from there. But the summary version of the rest is that the mysterious date that started the entire chain of events, “Drew” or whatever his name might have been given as, seems most likely to have been a fantasy person constructed by Jackie with the possible motivation of making “Randall” (one of the three student friends of Jackie) jealous. The photos she supplied of this Drew guy were of the aforementioned high school classmate. My guess (and believe me, this is just a speculation) is that that’s how the whole sorry mess began, as a way to make Randall more interested in dating her, and she later added on the assault story in order to make him feel sorry for her.

That could be wrong. Maybe it’s “Randall” who’s lying, but since his story seems to be corroborated by the others (at least as far as I can tell; it’s a bit unclear), I’d bet on his veracity over Jackie’s (or Erdely’s).

There’s more, lots more, but you get the idea. It’s becoming more and more apparent that Jackie is most likely a fabulist, perhaps with some pre-existing mental/emotional problems, and that it’s time for Erdely and the editors at Rolling Stone to choose another profession. However, I wonder whether there will be any repercussions for any of this.

December 10th, 2014

Why did Feinstein release the report now?

In my earlier post about the release of the Senate’s Intelligence Committee’s report on harsh interrogation practices under the Bush administration, I characterized the report as a partisan attempt to return to the good old days of Bush-bashing, when Democrats were riding high. But it’s a bit puzzling that it was Senator Dianne Feinstein—who is a partisan Democrat who sometimes actually seems to show regard for the security of the US and to be a hawk on terrorists (at least, a hawk compared to most other Democrats)—who ordered that release over the request of the current administration’s John Kerry.

So, why now? Feinstein’s answer is here, and the gist of it is that it was the Democrat’s last chance:

Timing, for Feinstein was a big factor. “I realize the Senate changes leadership in January, and so the likelihood of the report coming out next year was slim and none, so we had a limited opportunity after five and a half years of work to get this out,” she said. She conceded that the safety situation abroad was “difficult,” but, she continued, “It’s going to remain difficult.”…

There are many critics of Feinstein who point out that what is covered in the torture report is in the past, that President Obama ended the practices portrayed within it early in his administration. Feinstein’s great hope in publicizing the report now, at the last possible moment that she can, is that the harsh light it shines on the CIA’s practices in the early years after the 9/11 attacks will help ensure that those practices remain in the past. Cordes asked her whether it was fair to revisit what was done, given that the techniques used are different now.

“Read the report,” Feinstein said, “and you tell me if you think this is how you want the country to behave.”

Which is not an answer to the question, is it? At least, not a direct one.

It’s pretty clear what happened here. After the Republicans refused to work on a Democrat-controlled report that Republicans perceived from the start would be a predetermined hit job on the previous administration and the CIA (for example, the Democrats declined to follow the usual standards and did not interview the parties involved—sort of like Rolling Stone, if you think about it), the Democrats worked long and hard to write this. Realizing that in just one month they would no longer control the Senate committees they’ve been in charge of since 2007, it was now or never to dump the report on the public and the world.

Feinstein has a more personal reason to want revenge on the CIA:

A turning point for Ms. Feinstein [in her decision about whether to release the report] came in March with the disclosure that C.I.A. workers had infiltrated the computers used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff members to write the report. The C.I.A. also had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department of some of the committee staff members, accusing them of improperly gaining access to secret agency material.

Incensed at what she saw as a breach of the separation of powers and an effort to intimidate her staff, Ms. Feinstein went public on the Senate floor and exposed the rift between the agency and the Senate. John O. Brennan, the director of the C.I.A., was forced to apologize to the Senate for his agency’s conduct, and no inquiry was pursued against the staff members.

The fact that these practices are in the past considerably weakens Feinstein’s case for release of the report. Note also that this secret CIA monitoring of committee members (which was clearly wrong) was done under the aegis of the Obama administration, not Bush, and it was directed towards Democrats, not Republicans. Feinstein only seems concerned about violations of the separation of powers when it directly involves a violation of her powers, not the other myriad ways in which Obama has crossed that line.

ADDENDUM: Here’s Feinstein being asked a tough question by Wolf Blitzer:

December 10th, 2014

The Nazis were socialists…

…but they continue to be labeled right-wing by leftists with an agenda who would like to disavow them and tell the right “bounces off me and sticks to you.” Daniel Hannan attempts to correct the record:

On 16 June 1941, as Hitler readied his forces for Operation Barbarossa, Josef Goebbels looked forward to the new order that the Nazis would impose on a conquered Russia…[In] the place of debased, Jewish Bolshevism, the Wehrmacht would deliver “der echte Sozialismus”: real socialism.

Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk.

So total is the cultural victory of the modern Left that the merely to recount this fact is jarring. But few at the time would have found it especially contentious.

Read the whole thing, and send it to your leftist friends if you want them to stop talking to you.

December 10th, 2014

The Senate report on the CIA’s harsh treatment of terrorist prisoners under Bush

There is little question that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of a report on harsh interrogation techniques during the Bush era is politically motivated. One way to tell is that Bob Kerrey, Vietnam vet and ex-Senator and governor of Nebraska and Democrat, is harshly critical of the process that led to the report. Read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

I regret having to write a piece that is critical of the Democratic members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Most of them are former colleagues and friends. I hope they will remain friends after reading this…

I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.

When Congress created the intelligence committees in the 1970′s, the purpose was for people’s representatives to stand above the fray and render balanced judgments about this most sensitive aspect of national security. This committee departed from that high road and slipped into the same partisan mode that marks most of what happens on Capitol Hill these days.

I have written many times about the dilemma presented by harsh interrogation techniques that segue from uncomfortable to actual torture, where to draw the line, and whether they are effective (see this for one of my earliest pieces on the subject, and for more you can do a search for the word “torture” on this blog). Ever since the so-called War on Terror began in earnest, post 9/11, this debate has been ongoing.

So why this report, and why now? My hunch is that the goal is to take us back to the wonderful days when Bush was president and particularly the last couple of years of his second term, when it was a Bush-bashing festival every single day, and Democrats cast themselves as the principled heroes. It’s the same partisan fight over something that should be above partisanship. Haven’t we walked this same road before—many times before?:

This investigation marks a new low for congressional oversight of intelligence because of its naked partisanship and refusal to consider all relevant evidence. The report was written entirely by the committee’s Democratic staff. The investigation included no interviews — it is based only on a review of documents. Because the report lacks Republican co-authors or interviews of people who ran the enhanced-interrogation program, it has no credibility and amounts to a five-year, $50 million Democrat cherry-picking exercise to investigate the Bush administration.

This didn’t have to happen. There are congressional Republicans who have problems with the enhanced-interrogation program and wanted an honest, bipartisan assessment of it. This is why all but one Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve the probe in March 2009. However, all of the committee’s GOP members withdrew their support six months later when it became clear that this inquiry would be a witch hunt against the Bush administration and the CIA and not a balanced, bipartisan investigation.

And what will this report tell us that we don’t already know? New details about enhanced-interrogation techniques and Democratic objections to them won’t be news. According to press leaks about the report, it will claim the program was poorly run and that CIA personnel exceeded their legal authority in running the program and lied about it to Congress and the White House. Such charges are hard to take seriously, because CIA officers accused in the report of improper and illegal activities were not interviewed by the committee’s staff investigators. Most of them were not even allowed to read the report — that privilege was limited to former CIA directors and deputy directors, and they were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements by the committee before they were given access to it.

Here’s a roundup of quotes about the report, to give you an idea what’s being said by many sources.

December 9th, 2014

Teaching English in North Korea

This article by Suki Kim is an excerpt from her book Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, based on her experience teaching English in North Korea. From a review of the book in the Chicago Tribune:

Remarkable…A deeply unsettling book, offering a rare and disturbing inside glimpse into the strangeness, brutality and claustrophobia of North Korea… Kim’s book is full of small observations that vividly evoke the paranoia and loneliness of a nation living in fear and in thrall to its ‘Great Leaders’…Her portraits of her students are tender and heartbreaking, highlighting the enormity of what is at stake.”

Even the small essay conveys much the same picture. It’s a depressing read, but a good description of the totality of mind control in North Korea and the way it stunts the people there.

That, of course, is the goal of the North Korean government. By completely controlling the information that comes in, the rulers are able to fashion a world in which Korea is superior to every nation on earth. We already knew that is what they try to make people think, but the essay manages to describe how it effects young people’s thought processes and makes other ideas almost literally unthinkable. It even keeps the students from understanding the basic concepts behind writing an essay, where one must prove a thesis by marshaling facts.

Read it and weep for the captive minds of North Korea, whose government has managed to realize some of the goals so well described by George Orwell when he wrote about Newspeak in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four:

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought — that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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