An unsayable truth, &c.

President Obama listens in.


I was reading about a new book on the 2012 presidential campaign. I was particularly disgusted by this passage, from the report:

. . . Mr. Clinton’s praise, in the spring of last year, of Mr. Romney’s business record as “sterling” infuriated top Obama advisers and even prompted Mrs. Clinton to tell her aides that “Bill can’t do that again.”

Yes, the truth must not be blurted out.

I was quite surprised to read the below, given my general views on Canada and its political culture:

Toronto police said Thursday they have obtained a video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking a crack pipe — a video that Ford had claimed didn’t exist and has been at the core of a scandal that has embarrassed and gripped Canada for months.

Holy mackerel. (I’m quoting from this report, by the way.) You know what I’m reminded of? Years ago, there was a man elected to the Senate from Louisiana, and he seemed utterly bland. I thought, and probably wrote, “This is a Louisiana politician?” And then the guy had a prostitution scandal. And I thought, “Ah!”

Anyway, maybe the mayor of Toronto could run for office in Louisiana and increase his vote?

Lately, there has been a lot of chatter about ally-on-ally spying. We’ve been bugging Merkel’s phone and whatnot. Hearing about stuff like this, I’m always reminded of Richard Helms on the David Brinkley show.

Helms, you recall, was DCI (director of Central Intelligence) under LBJ and Nixon. I think that the topic on Brinkley was the Jonathan Pollard affair. Helms probably said that it was routine for allies to spy on allies. Sam Donaldson said, with maybe some mock theatricality, “Well, surely, Mr. Helms, the United States isn’t spying on its allies, is it?” Helms answered, matter-of-factly, “I certainly hope so.”

I loved the guy. (Had some correspondence with him once.) (Do you know that in his career as a journalist, he interviewed Hitler?)

Every now and then, I write about a case in China — although you could write about 100 of them a day. There is a brave woman named Cao Shunli. She was at the Beijing airport on September 14, to fly to Geneva for human-rights work, when they “disappeared” her. What that means, of course, is that the Communist authorities caused her to disappear.

She has now resurfaced, in prison. She is in bad shape, as you’d expect.  Sick, weak. On October 21, they asked her to sign an official arrest document charging her with “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” She refused.

How in the world do people summon that sort of bravery, that sort of defiance in the face of a gigantic police state? They just do. To read a report on Cao, from the organization called Human Rights in China, go here.

Every now and then, we should probably inquire into what is happening in North Korea — although not wanting to inquire is perfectly understandable. Recently, a defector gave testimony. I will quote just one paragraph, just the opening paragraph, of a news report — nothing more:

Her father was tortured in detention in North Korea and died. Her elder sister went searching for food during the great famine of the 1990s, only to be trafficked to China. Her two younger brothers died of starvation: one of them a baby without milk, whose life ebbed away in her arms.

Some years ago, I did a study (just a minor one) of the genocide in Darfur. (For the piece, go here.) Very commonly — I imagine this is still going on — a woman or girl would have to venture forth for firewood. She’d have to venture farther and farther. And rape was something like inevitable.

Will no one stop this evil? No, actually.