Thursday, September 21, 2006


A Daily Smorgasbord

I don't have time for much in-depth blogging today, so I'll just link to a few things that caught my eye.

It seems that Thailand has experienced a bloodless coup -- its first coup in fifteen years, according to the LA Times -- and is under martial law for the time being. The population seems happy enough that the corrupt ex-Prime Minister Thaksin has been ousted, and General Sondhi Boonyaratkalin -- who is now chief of state, it seems -- promises to hold free elections "by October 2007" and to have a new interim Thai constitution "within weeks".

Well, my hat's off to the Thai military for managing a bloodless coup; they couldn't have done it unless avoiding bloodshed was a top priority for them. Apparently it was, which speaks well for them. Nonetheless, much as I'd prefer a bloodless coup to a bloody one, the idea of open-ended martial law gives me the creeps. (Remember, we have a brand-new ball game in Thailand now... and, under martial law, the law is whatever Gen. Boonyaratkalin says it is. Can we count on him to keep his promises, now that he's effectively appointed himself chief of state? We don't really know; we'll just have to wait and find out.)

As I commented on Smash's site, though, statements like this really bother me:
"I heard about the coup this morning when I woke up," said Jay Brooker, a 23-year-old British traveler walking in Khao San, a neighborhood popular with backpackers and foreign youths.

"My friends back in North London were e-mailing me to see if I was all right. I told them that I was just fine. Other than the soldiers, the place hasn't changed one bit."
Well, I'd consider the soldiers patrolling the streets to be a big change. Perhaps that's just me. Then again, the argument that "life goes on" under a dictatorship never made much sense to me. Let's wait and see what happens.

Closer to home, Frank Warner notes that popular American support for the war in Iraq is increasing... and wonders why the mainstream media isn't making a bigger deal about it. (They made a big deal about the "increasingly unpopular Iraq war", didn't they? Perhaps now we'll see a lot of headlines about the "decreasingly unpopular Iraq war"... or maybe "Expected declines in popular support for Iraq war fail to materialize; some experts worried".)

In a related topic, Frank also asks an interesting question. Given that tens of thousands of Bronze Stars have been awarded in the Iraq war, along with more then 10,000 Purple Hearts, nearly 200 Silver Stars, and even a Medal of Honor, where are the heroes' stories? In an era when Americans are crying out for heroes -- have you seen the movie marquees lately? -- there are genuine heroes, who put their lives on the line to save their comrades, who volunteered to fight on distant shores so that we wouldn't have to fight at home.

You don't have to agree with their purpose in fighting. They volunteered, and their heroism counts. Where are the stories? We desperately need to hear them... for we need to know that such people are among us. In the words of Billy Dean: "That's why we call them heroes, and the best thing they ever do / Is point to the best in us all -- and say, 'If I can, you can too...'".

Matt at Blackfive has done great work, in his Someone You Should Know and Someone You Should Know (Radio) series. But, as he and others point out, the Department of Defense really should be doing this. It would cost virtually nothing to set up a central clearinghouse for these stories... and it would provide an invaluable public service.

In re the speech by Ahmadinejad at the United Nations -- which sounded almost sane and reasonable compared to Hugo Chavez's speech at the UN the next day -- well, people have written a lot of good stuff. But the comment that caught my eye was Varifrank's, who points out that the West was facing an onslaught from Persia nearly 2500 years ago... and that the rhetoric then was frighteningly similar. Have a look.

UPDATE: I almost missed this:
By choosing not to cover it, the MSM not only violated basic principles of journalism (and the NYT its own credo), but missed the most important story of the day.
What story was that? Well, first of all, it's the 35,000-strong crowd demonstrating outside the UN. As many have pointed out, an anti-Bush rally could have gotten front-page coverage with 35 people. But it was a pro-Israel rally -- focused mostly on "bring the kidnapped soldiers home!" -- and the mainstream media ignored it completely.

But actually, the story was even bigger than that:
When there is a demonstration involving tens of thousands of people, on the steps of the United Nations, when the attendees include the Governor of New York, a Foreign Minister from a nation in the Middle East, three Ambassadors, prominent individuals such as Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz, and when -- in addition -- one of the speakers is . . . the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, you might (if you’re the MSM) check in and see if he says anything significant, since he is appearing at an important moment in a highly visible public forum.
And, indeed, John Bolton did have some things to say. Rick Richman of Jewish Current Issues, reading between the lines, says that the message was subtle but unmistakable -- that Iran is an important threat, to the United States and to the world, and that President Bush will deal with that threat before he leaves office.

Well, I certainly hope so! -- I would not want to leave this festering sore for the next generation to have to deal with. Read the whole thing, and see if you agree.

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