Archive for December, 2011


Read this blog post by James Fallows over at The Atlantic. Fascinating and sobering in terms of what it means for the present state of governance in the country and what it could mean for the future.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Here is CBS’s radio broadcast announcing news of the attack.

Here is video of FDR’s famous “day of infamy” speech:

The National Archives has put together this blog post and a video about its Pearl Harbor-related documents and records:

A bit of sad news on this anniversary… According to the New York Times, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will disband at the end of the year, faced with the realities of the passage of time and the dwindling health and numbers of its members.

And finally, to end the post on a humorous note, leave it to the fine folks at The Onion: “Kamikaze Swimmers Finally Reach Pearl Harbor.”

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad did his best Officer Barbrady impression during his interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters:

In his interview with Walters, his first sit down with an American journalist since the protests began, Assad denied he ordered a crackdown and blamed the violence on criminals, religious extremists and terrorists sympathetic to al Qaeda he claims are mixed in with peaceful demonstrators.

He said the victims of the street violence were not civilians protesters battling decades of one-party rule, he insisted.

“Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government, not the vice versa,” he said. The dead have included 1,100 soldiers and police, he said.

Assad conceded only that some members of his armed forces went too far, but claims they were punished for their actions.

“Every ‘brute reaction’ was by an individual, not by an institution, that’s what you have to know,” he said. “There is a difference between having a policy to crackdown and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference,” said Assad.

“But you have to give the order,” countered Walters.

“We don’t kill our peopleā€¦ no government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person,” Assad said.

At another point he said, “There was no command to kill or be brutal.”

The whole thing is well worth reading and watching, if only to ask yourself if he really does believe what he’s saying. If he doesn’t, he’s a bold-faced liar who won’t take responsibility for his own actions. If he does, he is drinking way too much of his own Kool Aid. I’m not sure which of the two possibilities would be more disturbing.

Andrew Sullivan did a pretty good job juxtaposing images of the unrest in Syria [Warning: Graphic photos/videos] with al-Assad’s comments to Walters.

Kudos to Walters and ABC for getting the big interview and pressing al-Assad on his regime’s crackdown against the opposition.

The National Journal’s Marc Ambinder has uncovered some more details about that ill-fated drone mission the Iranians have been claiming they shot down.

The super-secret drone that Iran claims to have recovered was on a CIA “Focal Point” mission, gathering intelligence and likely crashed though it remains uncertain whether it was able to self-destruct, U.S. officials told National Journal on Tuesday.

Controllers lost contact with the prized stealth unmanned aerial drone, the RQ-170 “Sentinel”, last week over western Afghanistan, said one government official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Based on its projected glide path, officials assume it fell just inside the Iranian border.

Though the CIA has used the Sentinel to monitor Iranian nuclear convoys before, the precise nature of the mission this time is not known.

The Sentinel is the top-of-the-line UAV, with highly sensitive cryptographic and stealth technology. If it indeed reaches Iranian hands undamaged it will represent a compromise in the latest of U.S. stealth technology, said officials with knowledge of the program.

The key question here is whether or not the drone’s self-destruct mechanism was activated before it went down. If it worked and some of the equipment and technology onboard was destroyed, that would at least mitigate some of the damage to U.S. national security. Regardless, as was the case with the stealth helicopter that went down during the Osama bin Laden raid in May, the Pentagon should assume that if the Iranians do indeed have custody of the downed drone, they will be studying its capabilities and will at a minimum attempt to reverse engineer it themselves, or bring in outside help from China or Russia.

Check out this amazing time-lapse video of traffic in Ho Chi Minh City:

Having been there myself a few years ago, I can personally attest that yes, traffic in HCMC is indeed that insane.

Talk about the pot and the kettle… During an interview on “Fox and Friends” this morning, the Donald made the following comments:

“Ron Paul’s not going to win. He’s got no chance.

You have a better chance right now of winning, and you’re not running, and so he’s not going to win.

He’s a joke candidate.

Here’s a man who doesn’t care if Iran has a nuclear weapon that can wipe out Israel. He doesn’t care. He says ‘Let them do whatever they want. They can make their own nuclear weapons’.

It’s ridiculous, so he’s not going to win, he’s not going anywhere, he’s cutesy, he’s got some nice, little slogans.”

Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who teased a possible presidential run based in large part on taking the birther issue to absurd new heights, was savagely mocked to his face for it by President Obama and Seth Meyers, withdrew from the race, and recently teased the possibility of entering the race as a third party candidate just as Newsmax announced he would be moderating their Republican debate on December 27. By the way, he made the Ron Paul comments during an interview to promote his new book.

I’m not for or against Paul or Trump, but the timing and substance of Trump’s comments – coming shortly after Ron Paul’s campaign chairman blasted the Newsmax debate – is disingenuous. Trump has a propensity to inject himself in the political debate to generate buzz or attention for himself and his brand, whether it be his TV show or his book. Ron Paul has been in public office for decades and run for president three times. Who’s the joke candidate here?

Two must-reads about recent developments in Iran… Both articles are analytical/speculative, but still worth reading and considering.

First, Danger Room’s skeptical take on Iran’s claim at having forced down an RQ-170 drone flying over western Afghanistan.

Second is this report in the L.A. Times connecting several events on the ground in Iran as evidence of possible covert actions against the regime to sabotage its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Although both articles are largely based on analysis and interpretation of events, they are well worth reading.