Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Q Thanks. And second, does the administration have a sense as to whether China is ready to cut banking ties with North Korea, as the U.S. and Japan are pushing?
MR. GIBBS: I know that actions surrounding infrastructure at both banks and ports is part of discussions that are being had in the process of dealing with the reaction to North Korea's actions over the past few days. The Chinese have been helpful in those discussions, but I don't want to get ahead of where the U.N. might be or where the individual government might be. But I think they -- I would characterize overall their actions and their reaction to the events of the past few days as being very helpful.
Q Does the administration want China to go beyond words of condemnation, though?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think that's exactly what the countries are working on right now.
North Korea responded the next day by test-firing another short range missile.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Anyway, we went to see Star Trek. It was great and we recommend it. It was fun, exciting, interesting, and very affirming for white Iowan farm boys. Not only will they still be in charge centuries from now, but the hot women will be even more mysterious and exotic--more colors, more facial types, more...
Don't get me wrong, there do seem to be several women in important positions. There are female students and officers; Spock has a mother; Kirk has a mother; and a green-skinned, red-headed girl takes Ensign Kirk to bed. Lt. Uhura still steams the screen with her boots and mini skirt. She also seems to have some talent with languages and oral stimulation.
James T. Kirk is extremely handsome, bold, strong, and assertive. He is a natural leader raised fatherless on an Iowa farm and the sort of bad boy that attracts all the ladies. His father was a hero and died in battle as his mother was giving birth. He has a swagger, but is vulnerable. You want to have his children and take care of him all at once. My daughter really missed something by not joining us. She did Google the actor, Chris Pine, and I believe I detected a sigh; from both of us.
Despite all the new worlds and cooperative aliens, the Federation still has to rely on American men to get the job done. When the rogue Romulan attacks it is always the steely blue-eyed American boy who becomes a man in the battle. First it is Kirk's father, and then himself. While extremely intelligent, in the end it is always his brute strength that wins that day whether it is hand-to-hand combat after a space jump or proving to Spock who is the better man. He bleeds but does not sweat.
In the end, so the movie shows us, there is something behind that self-assured white male that wants to right the world. If there is a crisis, especially one that needs seat of the pants improvisation and a fist-fight, our man is white and mid-Western. He is Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, and now Chris Pine.
As Alex Baldwin in the popular sitcom, 30 Rock, reprimands his warring staff,
"I'll tell you who has it the hardest: White Men. We make the unpopular, difficult decisions - the tough choices. We land on the moon and Normandy Beach and they resent us."
So white boys, you are back. You are still needed. There is nothing like you; there is no need to change.
But, I am going to have to change. I have to figure out how to make myself more exotic.
May 26, 2009
U.S. to Respond to North Korea with 'Strongest Possible Adjectives'
Obama: 'We are Prepared to Consult Thesaurus'
One day after North Korea launched a successful test of a nuclear weapon, President Obama said that the United States was prepared to respond to the threat with "the strongest possible adjectives."
In remarks to reporters at the White House, Mr. Obama said that North Korea should fear the "full force and might of the United States' arsenal of adjectives" and called the missile test "reckless, reprehensible, objectionable, senseless, egregious and condemnable."
Standing at the President's side, Vice President Joseph Biden weighed in with some tough adjectives of his own, branding North Korean President Kim Jong-Il "totally wack and illin'.
Later in the day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the North Korean nuclear test "supercilious and jejune," leading some in diplomatic circles to worry that the U.S. might be running out of appropriate adjectives with which to craft its response.
But President Obama attempted to calm those fears, saying that the United States was prepared to "scour the thesaurus" to come up with additional adjectives and was "prepared to use adverbs" if necessary.
"Let's be clear: we are not taking adverbs off the table," Mr. Obama said. "If the need arises, we will use them forcefully, aggressively, swiftly, overwhelmingly and commandingly.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Ok, and so the Obama Administration has begun the process of treating Japan like Great Britain and like a normal nation. It is about to nominate for ambassador to Japan a presidential crony and big money fundraiser--just like the traditional emissaries to the Court of St. James or France or Italy or Bermuda.
Tokyo is now like any other "glamourous" posting. A politically savvy First Friend will guide the "relationship" with parties and chamber of commerce meetings. Out of the hands of a small coterie of managers, American diplomacy with Japan will strive to treat Japan like all the other G-7 countries. No more specially trained diplomats like we send to trouble spots and Third World countries.
U.S. ambassadors do more than-talk to foreign ministers. They are also public-relations men with a whole nation for a client. They make speeches, inspect public works, judge flower shows, organize charities. They talk to labor leaders, opposition politicians, businessmen. And while they talk, they listen. For the other side of their job is to be the U.S.'s eyes & ears. On their reading of tempers and political moods Washington bases much of its timing and many of its decisions. [Time Magazine, December 1951]
Q I only have one question.
MR. GIBBS: All right, one more.
Q One question. The U.S. Ambassador to Japan was recently appointed to John Roos, California attorney. What's the background on this?
MR. GIBBS: I'm sorry, say that again? John Roos?
Q John Roos was appointed to Japanese Ambassador. What's the background on this?
MR. GIBBS: Let me get -- we'll get you information on his nomination and his background and experience.
Q Thank you, Robert.
...no, thank yoou...
Later: The question was asked by Ms. Ayumi Hattori. She is TV Asahi's feisty new associate producer. Go Girl.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
This is “Major Major.” He is the People's Liberation Army Major assigned to take care of me. I think I drive him nuts. His English name is “Tony” and I, of course, asked him if he had ever heard of Tony Soprano. No.
I am in China for unknown reasons. I presented a paper on the European Coal and Steel Community as an example for scientific cooperation to a PLA university. The only problem is that in the middle of my research, which was pretty shoddy, I found out there was little S&T going on in the ECSC. No problem, I am an American, trust me, I will find a way to make it work.
So somehow I succeeded in suggesting that Jean Monnet and the ECSC has some lessons for Asian regional integration, even though every reputable scholar says no. Maybe not as an institution, but the process of cooperation needed to establish the ECSC is worth studying. The Monnet Method of gradual agreement over small objectives is effective and reflects how scientists work among themselves. Monnet did spend a few years in China. Yep, I was all over the map.
Major Major stayed up most of the night Sunday waiting for me to finish writing my presentation so he could turn it into a PowerPoint. The 14-some hours on the plane was not enough time. So I stayed up all night to get it done. He took my PowerPoint draft and turned it into a better one as I had no idea how. I did warn him it would not be done until 6:30am. My talk was at 8:30am.
It was very sweet of him and I really appreciated his help. But, I constantly pester him. Major Major, I ask: “so if I call the numbers on these cards shoved under my hotel room door will they talk dirty to me in Chinese? Why is the Chinese breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the hotel all the same? What kind of country does not get CNN on TV? Where can I get Lei Fang t-shirts? How about a Chairman Mao lighter? What, no Starbucks?!
The conference is all about national defense and scientific “cooperation.” The PLA apparently has a new policy: be nice to Americans, make one a friend. Thus, a theme is all about “mutual understanding” and “building trust.” I, of course, told them that “mutual understanding” reminds of the Japanese and that Americans will trust them when they stop their cyberattacks and do the right thing in Dafur. Jeeze, what did they expect…the food has been bad.
This was this PLA university’s first international conference. They have a lot to learn, starting with getting better coffee and some souvenir t-shirts. I think the real objective was to expose PLA academics to all sorts of spoken English (American, Canadian, English, New Zealand, Greek) and survive through very boring presentations. I really think 99% of the young PLA university students attending the conference had no idea what was said. Lucky them.
Anyway, I have done my part for "mutual understanding." Major Major now knows how to say: schlep, chutzpah, and putz.
Trust? Well, I'll work on that another day.
[This is not actually a picture of Major Major, but it would look a lot like the one I would take of him if he let me take it. He said it was some sort of violation. Probably just plain silly. Anyway it is probably better.]
PS: Our Man, I am simply stunned that someone actually missed me. I have no capacity to understand this. The usual response is to block, defriend, and cast me off.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
It is my pleasure to offer warm wishes to boys and girls in Japan on the May 5 occasion of Children’s Day. On this holiday, Japanese families celebrate the joys of childhood and family life. Children are, indeed, a national treasure, and both the United States and Japan share a strong commitment to childhood health, safety, and education. It is a responsibility for all of us to work together to ensure the protection of children. It is our hope that one day children from all countries will be able to celebrate the carefree joys that children in Japan celebrate today.State’s press office said the statement was merely part of a new policy of recognizing selected “seasonal holidays” around the world. He is probably right, but like most things Japanese what seem innocuous are not.
Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi, こどもの日 ) is an annual Japanese national holiday. It is on May 5, the fifth day of the fifth month, and is part of the Golden Week. It is a day set aside to respect children's personalities and to celebrate their happiness.
It was designated a National holiday by the Occupation authorities in 1948 as part of the effort to eliminate militarism from Japan. The day was originally called Tango no Sekku (端午の節句), and was celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th moon in the lunar calendar. It is the festival for boys and warriors. The holiday’s symbols are the carp and the samurai helmet. The carp is supposed to symbolize success and the helmet is self-explanatory.
It is common today in Japan to see figures of Colonel Sanders standing in front of KFC in full samurai regalia for the holiday. This definitely makes you think twice about the benefits of globalization.
In addition, to the historical issues that surround this holiday, it is possible that Tokyo may read the Secretary’s statement as having some contemporary message. It does come on the heels of North Korea Freedom Week where rightist Japanese Diet members and Abductee representatives traipsed around Washington pleading for stronger sanctions against North Korea. Maybe the Children's Day message was a nod to the Adductee families.
On the other hand, pressure has been mounting from Congress for the State Department and the White House to take a strong tack with Japan regarding the child abduction issue. Draft resolutions are floating around Congress asking for action. The Secretary did mention the issue in her talks with officials in Japan. Last month, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and his chief of staff joined a protest on child abduction outside the Japanese Embassy.
And maybe it just meant nothing and was merely an ill-considered gesture.