Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Curious George misses the point

The Mandarin is continually amazed at the absolutely intractable density of our Decider-in-Chief. Especially his tantrum today:

I strongly reject the artificial timetable for withdrawal and/or Washington politicians trying to tell those who wear the uniform how to do their job.

Listen, former 1LT Shrub, TxANG (click here to see how he dishonored his uniform), those politicians, not to mention the voters who sent you a Democratic Congress, are not telling your Generals how to do their jobs, they are telling YOU (a Washington politician) how to do YOUR job. Get it?

How do you say "Duh!" in Mandarin?

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Choose.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

China's domestic car makers - heading the wrong way?

Here's another in the Mandarin's continuing series of letters to the editors of the Wall Street Journal that they won't print:

The Mandarin couldn't help laughing when he saw the articles in the March 20, 2007 edition of the Wall Street Journal on Roewe and Wuling, two up-and-coming Chinese car makers who are challenging the US and European majors in the Chinese home market.

In an era where no piece of intellectual property seems safe in China, trademarks are no exception. "Wuling" 五菱means "five diamonds" (well, literally "five water chestnuts," but you get the idea) and the name and logo are obvious rip-offs of Mitsubishi 三菱, which means "three diamonds" (san ling in Mandarin). If three diamonds are good, then five diamonds must be better.

And Roewe 荣威 is not just an obvious imitation of "Rover," it is also another of those notorious Chinese malapropisms: the two Chinese characters used to write Roewe are pronounced in Mandarin as rong wei. Another target for Beijing's pre-Olympic language police?

Of course, on the off chance that the WSJ actually does print the Mandarin's letter, then his cover will be even flimsier. Unless his loyal reader(s) can keep a secret....

Friday, April 20, 2007

Alberto's "Eagleton Moment"

Yesterday, after a performance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee described by one anonymous White House insider as "like clubbing baby seals," attorney General Alberto Gonzales had his Eagleton moment. Shrub's acting Press Secretary Dana Perino was asked:

Q Dana, does Attorney General Gonzales's testimony on Capitol Hill have any bearing whatsoever on his job status?

MS. PERINO: As I've said many times, the President has full confidence in the Attorney General. The Attorney General looked forward to the hearing that is taking place right now. Of course, the President has not seen any of that testimony....

Q So is it fair to say that no matter what the testimony, no matter what the back-and-forth, that the President plans to stick with Attorney General Gonzales?

MS. PERINO: I think -- yes. I think the President has full confidence in the Attorney General and whenever that changes for any public servant, we'll let you know, and I see no indication of that.

This reminded the Mandarin of 1972, when George McGovern gave a ringing endorsement of his initial Vice-Presidential running-mate, Senator Thomas Eagleton, when Eagleton revealed he had once been treated for depression: he was behind Eagleton "one thousand percent." Three days later, Eagleton was a footnote to history.

There are also obvious echoes of Shrub's steadfast support of Donald Rumsfeld right up to the eve of his firing the day after the 2006 mid-term elections.

Also, Alberto has clearly satisfied the requirements of the "Galbraith Rule" (anyone who denies four times that he will resign, will resign).

Alberto is clearly toast.

Something tells the Mandarin that John Ashcroft is sitting by the phone somewhere, tanned, rested and ready. And if his phone rings, we better raise the threat level to ultra-violet.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Choose.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Counting Bodies

The story of the 32 people shot today at Virginia will unfold in its full horror over the next few days. There will be inevitable comparisons to Charles Whitman, who killed 15 people on August 1, 1966, of whom 13 were shot from the emblematic Texas Tower on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Today’s killer has more than doubled Whitman’s body count.

Fifteen then and 32 today are both shocking numbers. And while the Mandarin has no personal connection to Virginia Tech, he had been a member of the Austin High School class of 1966 before moving away the year before. So he was not in Austin that day, by the grace of God not hanging out on “the Drag” like his friends and classmates Paul Sonntag and Claudia Rutt, who were bodies #12 and #13.

The murder of 15 or 32 people all at once seems shocking in a supposedly peaceful country like ours, but consider two things.

First, there were approximately 10,000 people killed by guns in the U.S. in 2005. That works out to one Virginia Tech every 28 hours. Not all in one place, not all killed by the same person, but on average, in our country, one person is killed by a gun every 50 minutes, day in, day out. And the Mandarin wagers that very few of the killers were part of “a well-regulated militia,” thus Constitutionally permitted to keep and bear arms.

We need gun control in this country, and we need it now. Write your Congressional Representatives and let them hear your voice.

Second, look at Iraq. Iraq’s population is about one-twelfth of the U.S. In the four years since Shrub’s 2003 invasion, perhaps 64,000 civilians have been killed by us or by each other. That is an average of about 45 a day. The impact of death at that rate would be like the U.S. suffering almost 800,000 civilian deaths: 530 a day, day in, day out, for four years.

Or one Virginia Tech every 90 minutes.

We to get our troops out of Iraq now. Write your Congressional Representatives and let them hear your voice.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Choose.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Well, it had to happen: the Mandarin is banned in China

Yesterday, the Mandarin was browsing some of the other blogs in a grass-roots group called "Out of Iraq Blogroll." Scroll down a bit and you'll see the list on the right-hand side of this page.

One of them, "Real's World," displayed a banner that said it had been banned in China. There was a hot-link on that banner to a web site called Red Firewall of China where anyone can test a web link to see if it will get through the firewalls run by the censors of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Well, sure enough, the Mandarin is banned in China, along with such other subversive sites as Wikipedia, CNN, IMDB, the BBC, the Vatican, the list goes on and on.

It must have been the Martin Scorsese review.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Name, rank, serial number and date of birth

Not to be mean to our gallant British allies or anything , but the Mandarin was stuck in a time warp during the recent captivity of the "heroic" British sailors and marines in Iraq. The time warp was a trip down memory lane to the summer of 1969, when Private Mandarin (not Lieutenant Mandarin yet, that came later) was in basic training at Fort Bragg, NC.

A lot of us had orders for Vietnam at that point, so we were taught that we were expected to do everything humanly possible to avoid capture, including, believe it or not, fighting back unless we were out of bullets or something. If captured, we were expected to reveal only our name, rank, serial number and date of birth. Beyond that, we were to say nothing. We were to resist our captors to the maximum extent possible, and to make every reasonable attempt to escape. Cooperating with our captors in any way, no matter how small, was, as the British say, right out.

Now, the Mandarin was not present when these British sailors and Marines were captured a couple of weeks ago, so his comments are in the realm of the hypothetical, but if we were still in the simpler world of 1969, and if some hypothetical American sailors and Marines had been released after behaving as this lot did in captivity, they would not have been welcomed home as heroes.

They would have been in deep and serious trouble.

Oh, by the way, here is the quaint little litany we had to memorize back then. We also got it on little laminated wallet cards, although we weren't supposed to take our wallets into combat and the Viet Cong would probably have taken them away from us anyway...

It was called the "Military Code of Conduct:"

1. I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

2. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

3. If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

4. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

5. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

6. I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

Leaving aside whether the war in Iraq satisfies the condition of article 1,
the fighting in defense of our way of life bit, the way the Brits handled themselves seems to have been as the Brits say, a bit dodgy.

But that was then and there. And this is here and now.

Crossposted at Watching Those we Choose.