The Strange Men in Blue

I wonder if parts of San Francisco will likewise find itself under Chinese law, at least when those strange Men in Blue are there…

Questions raised over mysterious ‘men in blue’ – Home News, UK – The Independent
Shortly after Konnie Huq finished her brief leg of London’s farcical Olympic torch relay on Sunday, she called a friend on her mobile phone. “Did you see those blokes in the blue tracksuits?” the former Blue Peter presenter whispered down the line. “They were bloody aggressive, weren’t they?”

Huq had just been involved in a tussle with a protester, so it was surprising that what appeared to concern her most was the praetorian guard of Chinese officials who formed a wall around her during the short dash, rather than the demonstrator intent on wrestling the Olympic torch from her grasp.

But for any of the athletes, protesters, journalists and even police who found themselves guided, barged or fighting with this particularly committed group of Chinese minders, the identity and function of the “boys in blue tracksuits” was of paramount importance.

Little is known about the mysterious guards accompanying the flame on its “harmonious journey”, apart from the fact that they are well-trained security officers under the remit of the Beijing Games co-ordinators, who have sweeping political powers in China.

Officially the minders are “flame attendants” employed by the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee (Bocog), which has organised the global relay. Their role, in theory, is to be constantly on hand to ensure the flame never goes out. At night and during airline flights, when the torch is kept in specially-made closed lanterns, three attendants guard it at all times. Should the flame be extinguished during a relay, they are responsible for relighting it.

So far, so good. But, although Commander Bob Broadhurst, the Metropolitan Police officer in charge of the route, insisted that flame attendants had no executive powers in Britain, their behaviour on Sunday indicated otherwise – or at least hinted that they were being allowed to overstep the mark.

Given the history of cooperation between the FBI and the Chinese government when it comes to counter-terrorism, it is likely that the Blue Men are in western countries legally, and that Western governments are turning a blind eye to their abuses, much as few people care when a paparazzi is manhandled by a star’s bodyguard.

Strange Blue Men

But advocates for a more harmonious China are not paparazzi. If the Men in Blue are really going to follow the Olympic torch everywhere it goes, no wonder they are thinking of shortening its world tour. It would be the objective of every protester to be blooded by these Blue Men.

And that’s a risk of embarrassment the Communist Party would be brave to take.

The Kennedy Analogy

Supporters of Barack Obama, who acknowledge Obama’s deception of naivte on crucial issues, nonetheless defend him because he is part of a “new generation.” Obama is like Kennedy, we are told, and so will learn on the job, leading to a fundamentally better American policy.

Now, Kennedy was preceded by Eisenhower (who continued the Cold War), and was followed by Johnson (who continued the Cold War), so I am not entirely sure what these people are talking about. Still, it’s enlightening to see other leaders who have been hopefully compared to Kennedy.

Hu [Jintao, 胡锦涛] is at the forefront of a new generation of Chinese leaders. There is almost a determination among China’s well-wishers to find in him the sort of freshness and dynamism still associated with the coming of John F. Kennedy to the American presidency in 1961. The analogy is not completely fanciful. With Hu, as with Kennedy, teh torch is has been passed from an older generation to a younger one. Born in 1942, Hu grew up after the communists came to power. He is the first Chinese leader of whom this can be said. He was already being groomed for the top job when in his forties, and came to the Chinese presidency with a reputation as someone, somewhat like Kennedy, who was highly articulate, able to listen to advice, and keen to gather intelligent people around him.

(Thanks to Lexington Green of Chicago Boyz for sending me the book this quote is from, page 174 of Thunder from the Silent Zone.)

A bit later, the book compares Hu Jintao instead to Peter Stolypin, who shared Hu’s basic political beliefs and existed in a similar politico-economics environment. Unsurprisingly, the comparison to Stolypin holds up better.

So instead of comparigon Obama to Kennedy because both are young, who is it better to compare Obama too? Who shares his basic politico-economic beliefs, and lived in a similar politico-economic environment?

Bush Right, Democrats Wrong, on Immigration and Free Trade

Homeland Security (which is under President Bush’s control) extends the work permit of foreigners who graduate from American universities with Master or Doctoral degrees from 12 to 19 months.

Congress has not acted to increase the H1-B limit, meaning perhaps 100,000 high-skilled workers will be turned away, leading to a large loss of human capital and moving high-skill industries away from the United States. In spite of this, Bush’s USCIS will accept as many applicants as possible — even perhaps exceeding the Congressional cap.

And meanwhile Bush pushes for a free-trade agreement for Columbia, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unfavorable compares to ‘a foreign-aid package’!

As the Asia Times writes:

In any case, the AFL/CIO and its cheerleaders among the Democrats in Congress appear to have found a way to kill even bilateral trade agreements, by demanding US levels of union protections, benefits and environmental restrictions in the relatively poor countries with which they are generally negotiated. A world full of bilateral trade agreements is not flat but mildly bumpy; a world in which even these have become impossible requires serious landscaping.

The issues are too important to trust the Democrats with the Presidency.

Vote John McCain.