The Widdershins

I’m late…

Posted on: November 12, 2013

Good afternoon Widdershin friends.  I’m running horribly late today in posting so I apologize.  In penance, I offer the life advice* of “Dance until your feet hurt, sing until your lungs hurt, act until you’re William Hurt.”  (*Unlike Rand Paul, I understand plagiarism, the quote comes from Phil Dunphy on Modern Family.)Map South China Sea

The tragedy facing the Philippines reminded me of an excellent piece of old-school long journalism I recently read in The New York Times Magazine.  While an investment of time, it is the best thing I’ve read about the challenges facing us in the coming decades as we pivot from a foreign policy captivated by the Middle East to an Asian-centric foreign policy.

I highly recommend this article and slide show.  With beautiful photography, it details the ongoing struggle in the South China Sea over approximately 160,000 square miles centering around the Spratly Islands.  Western maps of the 18th Century detail the expanse as “Dangerous Ground,” a term that has stuck to the present day.  The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency still concludes, “Avoidance of Dangerous Ground is the mariner’s only guarantee of safety.”  In the coming decades, it appears we will be unable to obey our own advice.

With abundant fishing and possibly 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, this area could very well be the new flash point in international diplomacy.  Here is the opening paragraph:

In a remote corner of the South China Sea, 105 nautical miles from the Philippines, lies a submerged reef that the Filipinos call Ayungin.  There’s little to commend the spot, apart from its plentiful fish and safe harbor.  In most ways it resembles the hundreds of other desolate reefs, islands, rock clusters and cays that collectively are called the Spratly Islands.  But Ayungin is different.  It sits on the southwestern edge of Reed Bank, an area rumored to contain vast reserves of oil and natural gas.  And it shallows are home to a World War II-era ship called the Sierra Madre, which the Philippine government ran aground on the reef in 1999 and has since maintained as a kind of post-apocalyptic military garrison, manned by eight Filipino troops struggling to survive extreme mental and physical desolation.  Of all places, the scorched shell of the Sierra Madre has become an unlikely battleground in a geopolitical struggle that will shape the future of the South China Sea and, to some extent, the rest of the world.

I’m reminded of Charlie Wilson’s War where after supporting the Afghani people in their struggle against the Soviets in the 1970’s, we became pound wise and penny foolish.  Instead of continuing foreign aid to build things like schools and roads, we unadvisedly withdrew only to spend trillions twenty years later and be sucked into the country’s longest war ever.  With the devastation facing the Philippines now, so far we have offered a paltry $20 Million in aid when Filipinos are facing at least $15 Billion in rebuilding costs.  We might be well-served to learn from our myopic shortsightedness in Afghanistan.

Turning to another subject of shortsightedness, over the weekend I was interested to see how 60 Minutes would treat their colossal and quite epic fail of their Benghazi story from two weeks ago.  As detailed in both The New York Times and the Washington Post, the 60 Minutes story was riddled with accusations and accounts seemingly manufactured from whole cloth.

BenghaziThe story was ballyhooed in promotions for nearly a week before it ran.  It ran in the coveted “A block” of 60 Minutes and was supposedly “new” information from a rental security officer promoting a new book which since has been cancelled.  This rental mercenary went by the name “Morgan Jones,” but we have learned his real name is Dylan Davies.  It seems Mr. Davies made up more than his name.

This Huffington Post article details the problems associated with Mr. Davies on camera accounts being at odds with his previous statements to the FBI and investigators.  It is quite interesting since those statements were almost a year old and yet, after 60 Minutes said they had been investigating for a year, they only came to know about Davies’ previous statements last Thursday.  Curious!

More curious is the fact that there was nothing new in the 60 Minutes piece but for the statements of Davies.  This new fictitious story-spinning led to a new round of Benghazi-mania on Fox where their self-congratulatory back-patting reached momentous levels — anything to take a swipe at Hillary.  “You can’t start denigrating a potential candidate too soon” is written in 36-point type in Roger Ailes’ playbook.

The most curious part is this:  After countless ads trumpeting this Benghazi report, after running the 15-minute piece at the beginning of 60 Minutes, where does the apology appear for getting it so horribly wrong?  In the last 90-seconds of the show just before the clock ticks down.

So much for the liberal media bias.

Just a quick word of warning — Sarah Palin is out peddling a new book.  Beware of billowing bits of bogus bull-pucky.

This is an open thread.

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21 Responses to "I’m late…"

so far we have offered a paltry $20 Million in aid when Filipinos are facing at least $15 Billion in rebuilding costs

Prolix, don’t expect a lot more from this Congress and House. When they argued and bickered over the funds for Sandy last year I don’t expect to see a lot of charity from this crew. However, I seem to recall that the Navy or some organization brought in two giant generators that enabled them to power back part of Port-au-Prince after Haitian earthquake. Perhaps they’ll be able to do something similar.

@1, we can only hope we find it within ourselves to be more generous.

We’re not exactly a chatty bunch today. Might be the weather. It’s in the low 40s here, windchill in the 30s and supposed to go down to the 20s tonight and tomorrow night. If I saw the weather correctly Prolix, it looked like parts of KY may be in for some solid precipitation!

I have been to the Philippines in 1988. What a nation of warm and friendly American Loving People. To be blunt lets not fuck this up. We need to Go big on recovery aid for our former Commonwealth. The Philippines is our responsibility.

fuzzy@4: I hate to say it but don’t count on it. If the military, the Navy, can send in some support that will be great Put those Seabees to work helping in the cleanup! However, I just don’t expect the House to be willing to do a great deal.

well how about the fact that there are over 3.4 million self identified Filipino American voters most located in Republican districts like San Diego, Pensacola, Norfolk, Jacksonville and Charleston….

Do the Republicans really need another minority pissed at them?

@3: It snowed here last night. Early for us. Also college basketball has started. IU is not playing very well so far. It could be a long painful season with much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothing.

I agree with Fredster @1. I don’t expect this Congress to be generous with the Philippines. Shame on them. I hope the Navy will be able to provide some help.

Beata@7: The weather that’s giving you all the snow is what’s giving us 37 degrees with a wind chill of 29. Brrrrrr!!!

Fredster@9: Try to stay warm. I think it’s going to be a hard winter for most of the country. The low here tonight will drop to 16 degrees ( actual temp, not wind chill ) . Oy.

Beata@10; Oh my! *you* stay warm too!!!

The AC is still on here LOL have a draft on my dashboard of my first post hope I am doing this right.

Fuzzy, did you send me an email? I had replied to you asking you to do that. I’ll take a look at your post and see if you have it in the right place.

Fuzzy, I replied to you. I’ll give you a call this evening.

***UPDATE***
MB has gotten swamped with work once again so we’re leaving Prolix’s fine post up for another day. And Chat is feeling poorly right now so for tomorrow we’ll have Fuzzy’s first post as a frontpager…YAY! That way our dear Chat can have a day of R. and R.

Looking forward to your post Fuzzy.

Chat, hope you are feeling better — we need you around to help us think correctly.

Fredster, yes, we had snow yesterday. A little warmer today, but still chilly.

Beata, I fear you are right about the weather this winter. If the old adage about caterpillars or whatever fuzzy worms that crawl around are, I saw one the other day. The weather adage is the more dark fuzz, the worse the winter will be. This little critter, was almost completely dark fuzz — not a good sign..

Hey everyone is Fredster around got delayed at work

Congrats, Fuzzy! Looking forward to your post.
@Chat, rest and recuperate.

Very interesting post. I always learn something new here. I’ve been around SE Asia a little, but never heard of this area.

It was strangely warm today. I keep wishing for rain.

Yes, take care chat! And MB, and everyone! Look forward to Fuzzy’s post!

I think you all will enjoy Fuzzy’s post. It’s very timely!

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