Saturday, November 24, 2007

Upton Sinclair - Al Gore has been studying failed campaigns

This mornings ten minute research project? .... getting to the bottom of an intriguing quote.
At 8:30 a.m. I had my nose buried in a fascinating article, "Open-Source Warfare" [IEEE SPECTRUM online] how terrorist warfare is morphing into the ability of tiny groups to wage war on large nation states. I didn't find the article myself. It is flagged today in SLASHDOT, a news aggregator which is on my my morning check sheet.

The author of the SPECTRUM piece quotes Upton Sinclair, an American Socialist writer who was a personal favorite when I was still a young and impressionable student. I've read his brilliant novel THE JUNGLE (1906) at least twice. I have half a dozen of Sinclair's other works on my shelves, but not "Oil!", which has just been filmed. The buzz is that the movie, There Will Be Blood, is destined to be win Best Picture and Best Actor at the next Academy Awards.

What was the Sinclair quote and how was it used? "It is hard to get a man to understand something if his living depends on him not understanding it.” The author's thesis is that the U.S. military has been too slow to adapt to the agile and techno-savvy Muslim terrorists and worse, that the costly lessons learned will be quickly squandered once the Iraq insurgency is declared over and the U.S. military begins to shed Iraq and move on to new missions.

I wondered where a man with the author's cold background would find the time to read Upton Sinclair so I Googled his quote selection. It turns out the quote is from Al Gore's documentary essay AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (2006). Al may not have persuaded everyone as to his "truth", but it seems clear that he resurrected a dusty old American political quote and endowed it with a hip new currency. I noticed one odd thing though. Current users are tweaking Upton's sentence to suit their taste - "living" "job" "salary" etc.

It turns out that the exact quote is "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." The sentence appears in a book which Sinclair wrote about his failed attempt to become the Governor of California. It is entitled I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935). I think it reveals something more interesting about Al Gore and his reading habits (and his stealth campaign for the Presidency) than it says about the adaptability of the U.S. war machine.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” - Upton Sinclair, 1935.

University of California Press reprint edition of Sinclair's 1935 book, and the source for quote used in Al Gore's bio-pic AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.

And so I learned that the musings of a rather good man (and occasionally a terrific novelist), but who was also an unhappy, defeated candidate for the Governorship of California, were recycled by a very frustrated modern Democratic Party aspirant for the Presidency. That the quote is now found useful, deemed as some sort of "truism," by a specialist in Electronic Warfare... that is the leap in logic which I must wrestle with.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Innovative B.C. Drug Smugglers Still Hammering the U.S. Border

B.C. Export Product - KOMO News was the only news desk to show a photo of the B.C. manufactured "party drug" known as ecstasy. These 93,000 pills were concealed in a false compartment of the smuggler's Ford pickup truck.

Yet another sizeable drug bust occurred on the 49th Parallel, Thursday November 15, and it underscores the fact that B.C. drug smugglers are continuing to find innovative ways to breach the security systems of the Canada- U.S. border. The Bellingham Herald reported the arrest with a brief newser "Ecstasy found in gas tank": "BLAINE — A Delta, B.C., man was arrested Thursday [Nov 15] at the Peace Arch crossing after U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers said they found more than 93,000 ecstasy tablets — about 53 pounds — hidden in the gas tank of the truck he was driving. The border agency identified the suspect as Tavinder Singh Randhawa, 28, a student at Bellingham Technical College. Randhawa had used a NEXUS frequent traveler card for daily trips across the border, the border agency reported in a press release. According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, an X-ray inspection of his 1991 Ford pickup truck detected the hidden gas tank compartment and led to his arrest on suspicion of possession with intent to distribute the drug, plus a conspiracy charge. Randhawa appeared Thursday before a U.S. magistrate in Seattle and was kept in custody pending a hearing on his suitability for pretrial release. "

In keeping with the media imposed blackout on showing the faces of British Columbia drug smugglers, no news outlet even bothered to secure Randwana's arrest photo. He will remain an anonymous shape shifter, along with the legion of his clever and prosperous friends who live happily among us.

Bellingham Technical College is now shy one Canadian "student". Delta, B.C. resident Tavinder Singh Randhawa has been arrested and charged.

Another recent case, which I had missed but tripped over when reading about Mr. Randhawa, is that of a female drug smuggler Robbyn Dee Blankinship. A few details of her story are found in the Blaine, Washington newspaper, The Northern Light, on September 6:

"Border agencies seize cocaine at Blaine crossing -
A Canadian woman will face federal drug smuggling charges after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) outbound inspection found a million dollars worth of cocaine in her car. “We nailed ‘em,” said CBP public information officer Mike Milne.

Robbyn Dee Blankinship, 29, is a Canadian citizen living in Vancouver who was returning to Canada on Labor Day when CBP officers searched her Ford Explorer and found 77 pounds of cocaine packed in and around the vehicle’s spare tire. She was arrested at the port and had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court on September 4th. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is continuing to investigate the case.
“This case illustrates the bi-directional nature of smuggling along the U.S.-Canadian border here in the Pacific Northwest,” said acting port director Jay Brandt.
Milne explained that CBP officers intercept smugglers with bulk currency, marijuana and ecstasy as they enter the U.S. while Canadian inspectors pick up smugglers with “cash, cocaine and guns."

This is a photo (from a U.S. Gov website) of Ms. Blankinship's 77 pounds of smack, worth a million dollars on the streets of B.C. This is the shit which "lifestyle" conscious B.C.'ers just can't get enough of... the toot which gets dozens of people shot in the head each year. Oh, and by the way, we're not allowed to see what Blankinship looks like. It's a secret. Shhhhh!