Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It Appears to Be Shingles, Again

Or how I despise the Herpes Zoster virus.

I’d preferred an allergic reaction, but now that I’m hurting like a band around the chest I recognize the symptoms.  At least it is a light case of it compared to the last time – that episode really hurt. It may be that the pain management I do is helping as well.  So I will have to ride this out, since I hate what prednisone does to me.

Now most people would go to the doctor over any little thing, but I don’t unless I can’t get an illness to end (exempting CFS, of course).  Bronchitis, pre-pneumonia, and sinusitis I’ve had so many times that I’m a pro at dealing with them.  That and antibiotics barely working on me anymore makes the choice to endure rather easy. Not to mention it doesn’t waste more tax payers dollars than necessary.

The itching is at a minimum, at least!

As much as I hate whining, perhaps it would be wise of me to document my health issues for posterity here on the blog.  Somehow, I doubt I’ll be consistent on it. Spreading negativity isn’t my idea of fun and it is inconsiderate of others. But hey, there aren’t that many readers, right? Have to find a silver lining somewhere…

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

It feels strangely like the calm before a storm and I’m not talking about the weather.  A feeling of melancholy lingers in the air as I listen to 60’s music while writing this.

While it has been decades since the Vietnam War ended, Memorial Day is reminding me of it and other conflicts, past and present. Names like Bosnia, Gettysburg, Mogadishu, the Ardennes, Bougainville, Restrepo, Fallujah, Normandy, Okinawa, and many more flit through my distracted mind, but Vietnam keeps coming to the fore.  I suppose that is because of my half-brother Steve, who served two tours there.  While he came back unlike those we honor today, he didn’t come back undamaged.

So many have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and I’m deeply grateful for the lives they led and gave.  In an era of fewer and fewer serving in the military, a price has been paid by the general public.  That price is detachment from the sacrifices made as the burdens have fallen on a shrinking number of families. My prayers and thanks go out to those families.  Let the deaths of those soldiers not just be remembered – let them be not in vain.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Ill again, this time with a spotty rash that started on the face last night after midnight but has spread to the chest and back.  I feel punchy at best and while not having a fever I’m staying put until it clears up.  Hopefully it is an allergic reaction of some kind rather than something communicable.

This is what I get for going out to do things two nights in a row, I suppose.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thor (2011)

I just got back from seeing Thor in 3D at the Spring Grove Cinema tonight.  It was better than I expected and Kenneth Branagh proved he can handle a big budget action film better than most directors. Clearly his directing got the most from all the actors and nobody acted like they were sleep walking through their part.

The cast was excellent and Chris Hemsworth was perfect as Thor.  But the real scene stealer was Tom Hiddleston as Loki, which is appropriate since Loki is always a scene stealer in the comic books and even the original Norse mythology.  I even like Natalie Portman in it, which is a first for me!  Anyone complaining about Idris Elba playing Heimdall just needs to go see the movie – he captures the gravitas of the character and is a proper guard of the Rainbow Bridge.

While there are plenty of explosions, vicious fights, and effects galore, the main story is very Shakespearean. At the heart of the movie is a classic story about two princes trying to be worthy of their father, Odin the king.  One is fair and foolish, the other dark and cunning, but both crave their father’s love and approval.  A shaky truces between races, old age, and intrigue complicate things enough, but the brash arrogance of Thor starts a tragedy.

Having proven himself to be stupid and vain, Thor gets himself a one way ticket from the realm of Asgard to Midgard, aka Earth, as punishment. Stripped of his powers and rank, he has to prove himself worthy to regain his godhood.  That sets up some of the drama and all of the comedy as we get to see the now mortal god deal with being a mere man. It also is chance for him to gain some humility and find out what really matters through his interaction with Dr. Jane Foster (Portman) and her colleagues.

Effects were excellent, if overwhelming at times.  One scene did annoy me greatly and that was because the humans hit with shattered glass came out of it uncut.  Nice 3D effect, but come on!  The 3D wasn’t that exciting to me and certainly not up to the standards of other films I’ve seen in the format. At least it wasn’t distracting.

Now for some comic book geekery.

The Destroyer was interestingly and well done.  In the comics, it was an engine of destruction capable of taking on gods and it lived up to that. It was a little fragile in this rendition, but it was faithful to the look and menace I remember as a kid.

The art design was a loving tribute to Jack Kirby’s designs and I saw hints of Walter Simonson’s renditions as well. Asgard and Jotunheim were both sufficiently alien to be believable.

The Warriors Three translated well into live action and were the characters I always enjoyed.  The SHIELD agent description of them and Lady Sif cracked me up.

The way Mjolnir was used was faithful in all ways to the comic and we pretty much got to see every variation except one: the ability to transport across dimensions.  Even the twirling was used multiple times.

Hawkeye’s unnamed cameo wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

All in all, Thor was a good movie. Not a great movie, but a good one. Worth seeing and stay after the credits for a very big hint about The Avengers movie it sets up.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What a Tsunami Does to a Nuclear Power Plant

Over at The Mainichi Daily News they have some amazing photos of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant being hit by the tidal wave. The car being throne up into the building is particularly impressive and give an idea of scale.  It truly shows how gigantic the wave was and it was amazing that events weren’t worse at the reactor – even as bad as they were. 

Looking at this and other articles there, I realized that I want to post about such events here and not on Facebook like I did in March. Things get lost there and aren’t easy to find again for posterity, since it is a very superficial place. Events like the devastation of Japan by the tsunami is not something to readily forget, but human memory is what it is and that is limited.

It will be interesting to see if I can divorce the reality of what happened there from the fantasy of Godzilla movies the next time I watch one. Watching the footage and viewing the photographs was surreal, because in a way I’d already seen things like that happen in Japan thanks to the movies.  These photos did not help with that and I wonder if I’ll be able to enjoy those films again.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good News for the World

The butcher of Srebrenica has finally been arrested after all these years. Ratko Mladic, the rat who commanded the Serbian troops, was captured by Serbian intelligence and will be extradited to face war crimes charges. While the timing is suspect, since Serbia wants to join the European Union and had plenty of opportunity to nab him, it is still glad tidings.  I remember ranting at the Clinton administration to do something about “ethnic cleansing,” which was a brand new phrase at the time and waiting for a small eternity to see action taken.

For people who think modern countries can always peacefully work things out internally, the disintegration of Yugoslavia should be a cautionary example. It is a very fine line between civilized and barbaric behaviors – something that should never be forgotten and carefully monitored.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mama’s, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Otaku’s–Part 3

Pandering to an otaku audience goes to far when you make them the stars of the show.  Everything becomes too incestuous and closed to outsiders, which eventually leads to both moral and financial decline.

Part 1 can be found here.

Part 2 can be found here.

There is a great danger when any group only “preaches to the choir” whether it be in religion, politics, art, entertainment or business.  One thing that a lot of outsiders to manga/anime notice is how almost everything is currently set in high school or the protagonists are high school age.  It is as if the only valid beings in existence are teenagers.  But there are some reasons for this and it doesn’t have to do with the physical age of the audience the producers are catering to.  It has more to do with their emotional age and the curious attitude that life ends when you become an adult in modern Japan.

While young protagonists have always been part of the genre, they were often university students and you used to see more adult characters in the casts.  That’s what I remember from the 1980’s and 1990’s, so I looked through archives on the Internet to see if I was misremembering things.  It turns out that I wasn’t and that things had started changing around the turn of the century.

Perhaps this is the end result of a declining population and an entertainment driven society, but I also suspect that the pressure to succeed and conform is a major factor. Rather than deal with reality, the plethora of media to distract has become a potent drug, much like Aldous Huxley predicted in Brave New World.  The otaku’s represent this more than the average citizen, I expect.

But back to the changing protagonists.  They are nearly always high school (or sometimes middle school) students and quite often are perverts.  By this, I mean they are into sexually deviant behavior such as peeping, collecting pornography, exhibit sado-maschistic tendencies, and collect harem’s.  This includes both male and female characters in both shounen (boy) and shoujo (girl) stories. 

To make things worse, the shounen leads usually fall into two types:  rude idiots or wimpy whiners.  Sometimes they manage to blend the two, but they are usually outcasts at school.  Gone are the strong good guys out to save the day at the first opportunity; instead they have to be dragged into taking action or doing good at all.

Does that sound like a bunch of emotionally arrested anti-social misfits?  Ah, that would be the main consumer of this dwindling market, wouldn’t it? 

If that wasn’t direct enough pandering, many series are now featuring otaku’s of both genders as leads or main cast members.  Even mangaka’s (comic book creators) have become the focus of series! I’ll give a pass to Bakuman as it has been a great expose on how the industry works while still managing to be entertaining.

So what has happened is that the pandering of the industry to its dwindling customer base has resulted in a self perpetuating limit, since more and more you need to be a die hard otaku to get all the references and in jokes. But a problem with having such closed community is that things get boring fast as only very formulaic stories get purchased, achieve high ratings, or get votes.  Yes, voting is a big factor in manga success.

Because so many stories are printed in weekly magazines such as Shonen Jump, the editors rely on sent in votes from the readers on what titles are succeeding.  At least the comic books in the United States are stand alone titles and sink or swim on their own merits.  In Japan, a tiny amount of readers hold vast sway over what lives or dies.  These are the most motivated and obsessive otaku’s who have been handed immense power over the content published – simply because they bother to vote when most readers don’t.

No wonder things have gotten to such a point.

Getting back to boredom with content being a problem; there are only a few ways to break that.  One is new and innovative stories and ideas, but the otaku’s aren’t really interested in that.  Their behavior is that of a drug addict instead.  What they want is a more intense high, or in other words, the same old tropes but taken to ever greater extremes.  So more sex, more perversion, bigger battles, and anything else that is titillating to break the boredom.

Don’t get me wrong, there are good series of manga’s and anime’s being produced.  But much like the decline in television shows here, it is like panning for gold in a sewage treatment plant.  I don’t foresee things improving at all in the short or long terms.

So parents, check out what your children are watching or reading, especially on the Internet.  A lot of people view comic books and cartoons as innocent fun, but those days are long gone.

Well, after writing this extended rant, I’ll have to be fair and do some writing about some of the nuggets of gold I’ve found in manga and anime.  But that will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Follow Up on the La Crosse Tornado

Much to my relief, there were no serious injuries. But there is a lot of property damage as can be seen over at The La Crosse Tribune’s gallery of pictures.  From what I’ve heard back from church members, one had his work trailer crushed by a tree and possible house damage.  I know someone who works at the damaged K-Mart and he wasn’t working that day, but I imagine it will make his job interesting for awhile.  Given what happened to Joplin, which is roughly the same size city, I’m very grateful things turned out the way they did.

La Crosse probably won’t get federal disaster relief but Governor Scott Walker has toured the damage. 

Locally, I still haven’t gotten out to see any of the damage near Caledonia, but might today. 

Meanwhile, the people of North Minneapolis and Joplin need our prayers.

It was a tense night and early morning following from wondering how people I know in the area fared.  Most I contacted didn’t suffer any damage and only a few haven’t gotten back to me yet.  This is one of few times no news being good news is true, I think.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tornado Hits La Crosse

What had been a good weekend turned ugly this afternoon when a violent storm system ripped through the area.  While where we live in Yucatan was close to the path of the tornadic part of the storms, but we got off light with one tree limb down on the property.  I’ve been through intense rains, many storms, and a tornado before but this was the heaviest rain I’ve ever seen.

Reports are still coming in but it appears nobody was killed or seriously hurt despite tornados touching down in multiple places in Fillmore, Houston, and La Crosse counties. It sounds like there was a tornado near Houston, barns destroyed near Hokah, and damage north of Caledonia.  Also, power line poles were knocked down around Valley High west of Hokah. 

South side La Crosse took a lot of damage though, with K-Mart and the Pepsi bottling factory having their roofs torn off.  Lots of trees and power lines are down in the initial reports.  Thankfully, the gas main leak was contained quickly near Gunderson Lutheran Hospital and evacuations were rescinded.  I am concerned about the homes near the K-Mart being said to be badly damaged as I have friends who live in that neighborhood.

Meanwhile, North Minneapolis, MN and Joplin, MS got hit by other tornadoes today.  It looks like the damage was extensive, especially in Joplin.  One fatality reported in Minneapolis, an unknown amount in Joplin, but so far none locally.

All I can do at the moment is pray for all involved.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mama’s, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Otaku’s–Part 2

The amount of perverted behavior in manga’s and anime’s is astounding.  This is not healthy imagery for our children and teens to be exposed to.  Parents need to be aware of this.

Part 1 can be found here.

Diving into the world of the otaku’s was an unpleasant experience and downright nauseating at times.  I quickly learned that I was better off reading spoiler filled threads in fan forums before even sampling an anime or manga.  Explicit sex, rape, naked girls who look ten or younger, incest, sadism, bondage, bestiality, and other perversions all can be found – and is readily available through fan translations of material not imported to the United States.

Don’t expect me to name titles; I’m not going to help the kiddies using search engines to find smut.  I will, however, go into some plot lines that are out there in successful shows and comics.

And just after I posted Part 1, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced the first titles they state have to be moved to 18 and over categories.  One involves a comedy manga about a 24 year old married to a 12 year old and depicts child rape. Another is very popular (and one I accidently stumbled upon to my horror) about a high school brother and sister who are having an affair .  That is the tip of the iceberg for that title, as it is far, far worse than just that.  The rest all involve sex at school, rape, group rape, and incest.  Such cheerful and amusing topics.

No doubt somebody will come along and read my posts with growing outrage that these topics are considered bad or damaging.  One of the most disturbing things about reading posts in the fan communities is the amount of support for all these perversions, especially the lolicon (pedophile) stuff.  The argument of it being fiction, and cartoon fiction at that, is often bandied about with the insinuation that it doesn’t really hurt anyone.  They should have to deal with real life victims of such things and then say that.

That said, there are people raising concerns and complaining about the content, not to mention the declining quality of stories as the publishers pander to the otaku’s. That illustrates why manga and anime will never be big in the United States, as we still have some of our morals intact – at least where it comes to protecting kids.  Though I’ll sadly admit that’s declining too as we have outfits like Ambercrombie & Fitch selling padded push up bikinis aimed at seven year olds.

It is the focus on underage girls that has caused the local government in Tokyo to crack down.  With the immense power of being the main market in the country, this will effect the entire industry. The sheer amount of prepubescent looking females in scanty attire in anime and manga is mind boggling.  Add that to most of the females being teenagers in the genre and it becomes clear that they are pandering to a bunch of perverts.

One of the more insidious and less obvious showcases for this is the “magical girl” subgenre.  These stories feature girls who magically transform into costumed super powered heroines fighting evil.  The most famous series would be the Sailor Moon anime adaptation that was so huge more than a decade ago.  For the U.S. airings, there was quite a bit of censorship that Americans were unaware of, including cutting the lesbian content.

Interestingly, the “magical girl” characters have changed over the years.  Originally, they were teenager who turned into adult forms to fight evil but somewhere along the way it changed to loli’s (derived from lolita) turning into teens and finally into loli’s turning into skimpily dressed loli’s.  The transformation scenes have been known to have hidden frames with the character completely nude.  Since the producers of this material are pandering to their audience, it says a great deal about said audience.

Yet otaku’s wonder why they have such a bad reputation.

Personally, every time the Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, slams the industry it makes me smile. Those who do the right thing will always be vilified and he is truly hated by the otaku’s worldwide.  He may be a bit of a loud mouth, but he gets it.

Part 3 will wrap things up and cover how the pandering has hit ridiculous heights as protagonists have changed over the years.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Debunking Myths: Mormon Edition

Over at LDS Living, there is a good article on some of the Mormon myths that have sprung up within the faithful members of the church. I highly recommend reading it as I’ve been told some of them.  We have a duty to be truthful in all things and I’m glad this article has been published.

There is one myth that has been spread quite a bit of late amongst politically minded Latter-day Saints and that is the Joseph Smith prophecy about how the Constitution of the United States of America would “hang by a thread” and be “saved by men from the church.” While I understand the human need to find comfort in dark times, relying on something that isn’t official church doctrine or even accurate in the first place is not a good thing.

Finding out the origins of this particular piece of Mormon folklore was a pleasant surprise this morning.  With it having emerged fifty years after the Prophet Smith’s martyrdom, I have to wonder how many times those dismayed with the country’s direction have repeated it at any given time. Certainly we are in times that make the myth very attractive again.

For me, the following quote from the article says it all:

President Joseph F. Smith, who spoke after his son at that conference, re-emphasized his son’s remarks by calling the content of the prophecy “trash.” He said, “It is simply false. That is all there is to it.”

So I hope those LDS faithful who think our country is guaranteed to be saved at the last possible will open their eyes – especially to the faults of candidates they might vote for simply because they are fellow church members.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mama’s, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Otaku’s–Part 1

If you are a parent with kids interested in Japanese anime (cartoons) and manga (comic books), you need to be looking very closely at what your kids are into.

What is an otaku? Simply put, they are obsessive fans of pop culture, but I’m specifically writing about the ones involved in manga, anime, and video games. Of late, otaku has assumed negative connotations due to just how extreme the subculture has gotten. This is for very good reasons, which I will go into later. In the United States, the word mainly self-applied by fans of Japanese culture and hasn’t become such a negative term. Hopefully, it will become a negative term amongst parents given what I’ve run into online. There are far too many anime’s and manga’s that are pure sleaze masquerading as comedy or action.

I always wondered if the Japanese comic books and cartoons were really more intelligent and sophisticated than American efforts as their fans claimed.  The other point I’d read and heard since the 1990’s was how more accepted they were in the culture and were, in fact, respectable.  So as an ex-comic book collector and aficionado of things foreign, I decided to delve into the otaku world while going through two bouts of bronchitis earlier this year.

It wasn’t like I was a complete stranger to the genres involved, since I remember Robotech from the late 1980’s and Battle of the Planets from a little earlier.  Due to glowing reviews everywhere, I watched Spirited Away and became an instant fan of Studio Ghibli. Younger friends had introduced me to Bleach, a typical fighting anime that at least had interesting characters.  While I had Netflix, I sampled some anime series to get an idea what teens were into and did find some quality productions.  In fact, that led to an automated recommendation that became the first anime box set I purchased, Area 88.

So I don’t come into this with a hatred for anime or manga as a format. Well done comics and cartoons can be just as emotional or complex as a novel or theatrical movie.  In fact, I dare anyone to watch Grave of the Fireflies without shedding tears. But most of this, just like American comic books, is no longer for children. The main audience has become terminally arrested adolescents in their twenties to forties.

It is also a dwindling audience both here and in Japan.  With the Japanese birth rate well below replacement rate, there simply aren’t enough children being born to keep things afloat and industry sales have decreased.  Here in the states, the manga and anime boom peaked around 2005 and has imploded since then.  Unlike Japan, those who consumed anime and manga outgrew it in their later years.  So the great dream of mainstream acceptance went up in a puff of smoke.

There are consequences to shrinking markets in entertainment and one of the most interesting is what happens to a niche market.  Just like comic books in the U.S., it shrinks to specialty shops and a ever smaller and more hardcore clientele. At some point,  the whims of that small group begins to exert more and more control over the product put out.  While not nearly as bad off in Japan as it is here, other cultural factors have produced an even more disproportionate influence by the hardcore fans over manga and anime.

I should note that video games are very intertwined with manga and anime.  Many properties are adapted back and forth between all three media types.  The peculiar popularity of dating and pornographic romance simulators in Japan is something we don’t have here in the States.

Why am I bringing this up?  It has to do with many Japanese males dropping out of adult society, ones who have no real social lives, no wives, and no girlfriends.  They spend their days as NEET’s, playing video games, reading manga, watching anime, and avoiding growing up at all costs.  I’ve always liked the saying that “idle hands are the devil’s plaything” for good reason.  Too many men with nothing to do is never a good thing. Combine a culture that is far more permissive in regards to sexual mores with pornography centered around school girls and you may get an idea of what I’m talking about.

To be a little more clear, we are talking about arrested adolescents who fantasize constantly about teen and, appallingly, preteen girls.  With their disproportionate influence as very vocal consumers, the producers of anime and mange pander to this group constantly.  This is called “fan service.”  Jiggling breasts, sex jokes, nudity, and the ever popular camera shots of highly detailed panties are a staple of the medium. 

But that’s just the beginning of the problems. 

In the next post, I’ll go into how the themes of misogyny, incest, and pedophilia have become mainstream.  Thankfully, the Japanese government has finally moved to do something about this but it still applies to what has been put out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Smallville Final Episode

Just finished watching the finale of Smallville and, as I suspected, it was fairly anticlimactic.  They setup so many things in the tenth and final season that it became a footrace to cram every loose end into the last two hours of the series. It figures that the same problems that plagued most of the season finales would be present in the final episode.

Far too much time was spent on the wedding in the first hour, which compounded the problem.  There was a heavy overdose of second thoughts, doubts, and generalized wimpiness from Lois and Clark dominating what was supposed to be the big debut of Superman. It also dragged out and didn’t get interesting until the battle that, of course, derailed the wedding at the last moment.   After that, the second hour was much better but things were crammed into that short span that would have benefited greatly from more time.




The return of Lex Luthor felt as rushed as could be, but no surprise there as they weren’t sure the actor would be involved.  The death of Tess was no surprise, nor was alternate universe Lionel Luthor becoming the host for Darkseid in an ultimately disappointing appearance as the big bad guy. 

What surprised me was that we never got the iconic Superman pose or a clear full on shot of Tom Welling in the costume.  That is utterly baffling as fans have waited ten years for this.  Yes, he was seen in costume, but blurred, obscured, or CGI’d the entire time.  That and he wasn’t officially called Superman until the seven years later segment really annoyed me.

Smallville was never deep or consistent in quality, but it usually was entertaining.  It was too much to expect a really well done ending, I’m afraid.

Now for some more positive notes. 

Apokolips was very well rendered and the red skies were a nice tribute to Crisis on Infinite Earths. 

The omega symbols being revealed as part of the Anti-life Equation was a nice nod to the comics. 

Jonathon Kent handing the costume to Clark was very nicely done as the two fathers sent their son off to be a man.

Chloe and Ollie apparently having a son in the seven years later bookends was kind of sweet.  Better yet, Chloe didn’t die!

Lex having his memory erased by Tess as she was dying at least explains how he wouldn’t know Clark was Superman in the future.

Jimmy Olson MK II was the surprise cameo at the end in the seven years later bit.  So the little brother at Jimmy’s funeral did replace him in the mythos.

Still, it was a disappointing end to the series and felt more like a setup for something more.  It lacked the emotional impact that Superman’s first public appearance should have given us.  They simply fumbled the ball one yard from the end zone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Faux Expert Opines on China’s Stealth Fighter

One of the problems with the modern media is that there are many vaunted “experts” on any given subject who simply don’t know what they are talking about.  The Australian military aviation specialist Carlo Kopp is a prime example of this, which is why you should never quote him in a serious aviation forum – you’ll get laughed off the message board.  Yet here he is, getting the spotlight once again by proclaiming the Chinese J-20 is equal to the F-22A Raptor.

Worse yet, he claims his “analysis” of the prototype shows it is more stealthy than the F-35 Lightning II from certain angles.  This is the same guy who argued for upgrading ancient F-111 Aardvarks with the F-22’s engines!  Another one of his ideas is a F-22 fleet for Australia and he’s still championing that despite the simple fact the country can’t afford them.   Anything that threatens that dream is attacked, so Kopp has savaged the F-35 every chance he can.  Fortunately, the Australian government is more sane and want the JSF as it suits there needs quite well.

Now I’ll admit the J-20 will be a serious threat to our allies in the Pacific, but the F-35 will outclass it in stealth, avionics, and weapons.  That’s my armchair opinion based on the history of competing weapon systems over the years and Lockheed’s proven track record with stealth warplanes.  But don’t accept me as any kind of expert and do the research yourself.  You’ll probably come out more informed than Mr. Kopp.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Really Is Dead Now

Courtesy of the U.S. Navy SEALs.

Good roundup of the events here.

I received an email from a friend about it just before going to bed last night and I was too tired to feel much about it.  At the moment, I feel satisfaction that we finally got the butcher after 18 years from his attacking the United States.  By that, I’m referring to the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.  It has been a very long time coming.

The fact he was living in luxury an hour away from the capitol of Pakistan was no surprise to me.  He always had close ties to their government through the ISI security service and I’ve long thought he was being sheltered there.  Also no surprise that we did this solo without Pakistani cooperation as they cannot be trusted.

What is surprising is how the White House is refusing to give the Pakistani government any kind of political cover on this. For all their vaunted efforts at reaching out to Muslim countries, they have shown themselves to be diplomatically tone deaf.  This operation most likely will make already difficult relations with Pakistan openly hostile in the future.

I expect the near future to see more calls from both the Left and Right to withdraw from Afghanistan now that Bin Laden is literally sleeping with the fishes. In an era of highly personalized attack politics, we just removed the figurehead for the enemy and so support for the war will evaporate quickly. The Left are anti-military and anti-Bush, while the rising specter of isolationism is firmly entrenched within the Right. 

Meanwhile, I can’t help but contrast how Saddam Hussein was dragged from a hole in the ground to Bin Laden being gunned down in a compound at a luxury resort area. The irony of the guy thought to be hiding out in caves going out that way while the dictator of many palaces was found wallowing in mud is profound.