Open thread, or whatever

[Bumped up to keep an open thread on top.]

Busy with some big events. But want to share some links and open a thread now that the ones below are running out of steam.

First, a superb book review on the life of China’s female migrant workers who leave the countryside for work in cities like Dongguan.

The women’s road from village to factory job is lined with manipulators and cheats, and the schools, which busily copy one another’s curriculums, in turn teach the virtues of lying as a means of getting ahead. “People who are too honest in this society will lose out,” one instructor told the author.

That’s true in a lot of places. Here especially, for lots of reasons.

Second, a surprisingly intelligent Dowd column of Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama and the knee-jerk revulsion so many Americans feel at the notion of a Muslim in their midst.

In a gratifying “have you no sense of decency, Sir and Madam?” moment, Colin Powell went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and talked about Khan, and the unseemly ways John McCain and Palin have been polarizing the country to try to get elected. It was a tonic to hear someone push back so clearly on ugly innuendo.

Even the Obama campaign has shied away from Muslims. The candidate has gone to synagogues but no mosques, and the campaign was embarrassed when it turned out that two young women in headscarves had not been allowed to stand behind Obama during a speech in Detroit because aides did not want them in the TV shot.

Violence in Taiwan:

Taiwanese television showed Zhang Mingqing, vice chairman of a mainland association handling cross-strait relations, lying on the ground beside his eyeglasses. Other footage showed an elderly woman hitting his car window with her cane and a pro-independence activist with a green headband stomping on the roof of the car.

That followed an incident Monday in which about 200 demonstrators yelled, cursed and heckled Zhang as he took the podium at Tainan National University of the Arts. Zhang was in Taiwan for an academic symposium, ostensibly in a nonofficial capacity. Taiwan and China often communicate through unofficial channels, given their strained relations.

Finally, Pomfret sounds gloomy about how the global financial crisis will affect China.

Any time the official New China News Agency files a piece with the headline: “Experts: China’s economy has ability to recover from slowdown,” it’s time to worry about China’s economy. You’ve already heard the news, no doubt.

Five straight quarters of slower growth. China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced this week that the nation’s economy grew at an annual rate of 9 percent in the quarter ending Sept. 30, the lowest since 2003 — when the SARS epidemic turned the economy upside down. Exports are shrinking so fast that some economists are predicting the sector will not grow at all next year.

More ominously for “social stability,” however, are the lay-offs. More than half of China’s 7,000 plus toy makers are out of business. More than 67,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises have gone belly up in the first nine months of this year, according to a report in the China Business News this week. There are an increasing number of reports about labor unrest among those turfed out of work.

For the record, I think Pomfret’s view is way too bleak. China has what it takes to deal with the situation: Money.

I think the only good news today is that Al Qaeda “endorsed” McCain. They endorsed Kerry the last time and look what happened.


Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 119 Comments

An article in The Times discusses some more charming aspects of that bigoted fundamentist bible-bashing psychotic zealot who still stands a mathematical chance of becoming POTUS:

“But Howard Bess swears such a list did exist, and that his book was on it. “Sarah Palin entered politics in the middle of a fierce culture war here in the valley,” he says. At the heart of it was abortion – she is said to have picketed a hospital that carried out terminations. Gun control was an issue too: she campaigned for the right of gun-owners to carry concealed weapons. “Sarah Palin’s world is divided into the whitest of white and blackest of black. If she thinks she is right about something, she will wage all-out war, and her history shows she is always at war with someone,” says Bess. “Her mental structure is little different than that of an Islamic fundamentalist. The churches she attends are understood by some to have an apocalyptic view of the future, and believe she will be the leader of a new world order when Jesus returns.”
The Wasilla Assembly of God Pentecostal church, which Palin attended for nearly 20 years and where worshippers “speak in tongues” when overcome by the Holy Spirit, has become particularly sensitive to media scrutiny since the appearance of a three-year-old video showing Palin being blessed there against the evils of witchcraft. Its senior pastor, Ed Kalnins, tells me he has been instructed not to talk to the press until after the presidential election, and warns me not to talk to any members of the congregation about Palin. On my way out of the church, I notice a leaflet promising “Deliverance from PMS”, explaining how premenstrual problems are the work of Satan.

While happy to talk about the Alaskan psyche, pastor Larry Kroon of the Wasilla Bible Church, which Palin now attends with her family, also refused to discuss her beliefs. But some of them are a matter of record. She has campaigned for creationism to be taught alongside evolution in schools. She has also said she does not believe global warming is man-made or driven by pollution. She supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has sued the federal government to block a listing of polar bears as an endangered species. She also allows big-game hunters in Alaska to shoot wolves and bears from low-flying planes.
“Some people may try to demonise Sarah Palin, and that is unfair. She is a true believer.””

A believer in what? Her own cartoon-like version of Christianity? I’m starting to feel an overwhelming compulsion to spew when I see her face. Next time you see your children, tell them that you love them. Cos if this lady ends up running the country, she’s gonna make George Bush look like a statesman.

October 26, 2008 @ 7:51 pm | Comment

Did you read what she said about fruit-fly research? Go here now. Literally unbelievable. she must never get anywhere the White House.

October 26, 2008 @ 8:00 pm | Comment

I say without the slightest hint of exaggeration, that woman is a national fucking disgrace, and it’s a sad comment on the US political system that she could make it as far as she has.
A decade or so ago we had a similarly stupid populist right whinger in Aus called Pauline Hanson (see who was known mainly for her immortal line in her maiden parliamentary speech “I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians.” She didn’t get anywhere near the top job, thank god, (she would have had nowhere near the nous to survive the party maching politics in Aus anyway) and now she is considered a distastefully curious political fossil. I hope that Palin will go the same way….she should do….but you these are strange days.

October 26, 2008 @ 8:12 pm | Comment


“If you are indeed referring to me in your previous comment,…”

No, I wasn’t refering to you, or anyone else, in particular.

October 26, 2008 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

Speaking of conspiracy theories, remember the episode of “The X-Files” where Skully and Mulder are in the hotel room. The lights are off. Both are BUCK naked except that each are carrying flashlights. Skully shines her flashlight on Mulder’s “Thang”.

Skully: “My God, Mulder it’s HUGE!”

Mulder: “Yes, Skully, it wasn’t like that a minute ago. It’s a mystery wrapped inside a riddle, wrapped inside an enigma. Quick…DO IT…before the Worm Hole closes!”

[Skully then goes down on Mulder.]

I always loved the X-Files.

October 26, 2008 @ 8:28 pm | Comment


It sounded from how you worded the previous comment that you were offering $1000 bet. I guess I misread it. So the bet in on for dinner.

Btw, how can I put stuff in italics in a comment?

October 26, 2008 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

for italics use the <> and <> keys before and after the text you want to italicize. Inside the <> before the text, type an “i” and inside the <> at the end type “/i”. Don’t type in the quote marks.

October 27, 2008 @ 12:28 am | Comment

I also didn’t know that. Thanks a lot, Richard!

October 27, 2008 @ 1:13 am | Comment

I dont understand why America elite liberals hate Palin so much. Yes she’s not very sophisticate nor elaborate, she’s perhaps deeply religious. But she has street smarts, she speaks her mind, and she’s really a good person. That “heartbeat away from president” argument doesnt hold water either, who would be more likely not able to finish the presidency? a 72 yr old extremely rich white guy or a black president? my bet is the latter one. And then you have that old fool in Biden! Absolutely horrifying ……

October 27, 2008 @ 2:57 am | Comment

This is starting to be really scary. I just came back from a dinner, where my friend at one point told me about his “doubts” about his GF from the last 2 years.

Maybe I should just quit on these issues. It’s seriously taking shape into an Hollywood movie now. And I never asked for that. At one point during the discussion, we switched to another language,and he looked at me, very serious, and told me: Be careful, be very careful, don’t speak openly about these issues in China.

More to come about Gold: Buffet, Silver, Next treasury chief, connect the dots you sleepers. Google is your friend.

Bao’s out. For tonight.

October 27, 2008 @ 3:04 am | Comment

Coldblooded, it’s not only “elites” who “hate” Palin. It’s across the board and includes all classes. She was the kiss of death. Its not hate at all -it’s the fact she is a fundamentalist, anti-science, inarticulate birdbrain. No one with any brains at all is comfortable with her and her witchdoctor leading the free world.

October 27, 2008 @ 8:44 am | Comment


October 27, 2008 @ 10:21 am | Comment

“This is starting to be really scary. I just came back from a dinner, where my friend at one point told me about his “doubts” about his GF from the last 2 years.”

Given the level of corruption in Chinese society and the fact that many Chinese teachers/parents teach the young to be dishonest, it would be surprising if there weren’t lucrative opportunities for the girlfriends of some target foreigners to sell information about such target foreigners.

October 27, 2008 @ 11:07 am | Comment


Let me get this straight: the globalists elites would sacrifice the United States, in terms the economic melt-down, in order to carry out this financial attack against China?

That’s sound far fetched, but certainly possible. There is a definite real possibility that the elites have planned to reduce America, to de-industrialized the U.S since the 70’s. THe current situation is the latest in a series of steps towards one world government. So perhaps you are right. However, I’ve also heard that the elites wants to prop up China, for the Chinese style system is well suited in their twisted ideals for this new world order. So they say. But I really how the Chinese government can be so ideal for them. For in terms of efficiency they can get a lot further with a totalitarian western government. The only thing holding them back of course is the people themselves, for they would never support it. Hence their plans to destabilize the U.S.? It all seems so far-fetched. Would they really do a sacrifice pawn move like that? Who knows… The elites are crazy.

October 27, 2008 @ 11:25 am | Comment

Who are the elites?

October 27, 2008 @ 11:53 am | Comment

lirelou wrote: “The fact that its author is a military officer does not make it official. It may surprise you to learn that in most U.S. military officers professional schools, students are taught to think “outside the box”. My impression is that you don’t quite understand what is implied in that term, but your research efforts are certainly worthy of respect.”

“Think outside the box”—this was one of Rumsfeld’s pet slogans.

October 27, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | Comment


The fingers are pointed mainly at the Bilderberg Group. I think there is probably ans East Asian equivalent of this group, but I don’t know about it.

As for the conflicting geo politic events and the NWO agenda, I think it all make sense when you start envisioning the possibility that the first level is used to push the higher goals and objectives. The mass focus on the wars, the economy, through different masquerade events, while the globalization goes on.

So basically, maybe there is only one level, and the world just goes on as usual, with the black and white sides fighting each others. Or maybe they are all hand in hand playing the same game, while making us believe that it’s not the case.

Now we are starting to hear about a world trade currency in the news, and it’s been the subject of serious talks in the recent past.

Also, some rumors state that the reason why Buffet is buying so much Silver and pushing the market is because we might see in the near future another episode of Gold Nationalization by the next president.

October 27, 2008 @ 2:59 pm | Comment

Let the Palin-bashing continue, I say.

“Alaska’s top newspaper today endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for the White House, saying it would be too risky to put their Republican state governor Sarah Palin just “one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world”.

The Anchorage Daily News, the leading daily in the overwhelmingly Republican state, called Palin’s vice-presidential nomination “an improbable and highly memorable event” and added that “many Alaskans are proud to see their governor, and their state, so prominent on the national stage”.

Nevertheless, the newspaper editorial deemed her not yet ready to serve in the White House, and saying the hometown boosterism “does not overwhelm all other judgment”.

The paper was even more scathing in its assessment of the top of the Republican ticket.

“Our sober view is that her running mate, Senator John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation,” the daily wrote.
“Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office,” the Anchorage Daily News said”

Cast her away, and let her never been seen in this space again. A sports show on Fox is an approriate medium for her folksy charm, photogenic appearance, and love of sports.

October 27, 2008 @ 3:21 pm | Comment

Man, it just gets more surreal. Who could have made a better choice of potential VP, even with the freakshow at the far religious right of the party? How about this guy?

“SOMEWHERE in Minnesota, ya sure, you betcha Tim Pawlenty’s shaking his head.

The amiable, respected Governor – a “salt-of-the-earth guy”, according to John McCain’s closest adviser, Mark Salter – was certain to be running for vice-president until yet another of thecatastrophic tactical blunders that have come to define, and willprobably bury, the McCain campaign.

McCain’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, might have a hard time finding work after this race given his woeful inability to sell his man – and this ticket – to the punters. Schmidt’s choice over Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, was, in American football parlance, a risky long throw for a touchdown from a team that panicked because it was losing ground, even though the game at the time was far from over.

With less than two weeks to go, the game now looks out of reach.

Pawlenty, according to insiders, feels betrayed by McCain, a man whose presidential aspirations Pawlenty championed even when the Arizona senator was on the nose with most Republicans and running out of money. In other words, at a time last year when Pawlenty had nothing to gain in sticking by McCain. Other than he believed in the man.

In this campaign obsessed with “narratives”, Pawlenty – whose star may burn bright in the 2012 presidential race – had a story totell.

He and his four siblings were raised by their father, a milk-truck driver, after their mother had died of cancer. He came up the hard way, became a lawyer, progressed through local politics and made it to the Governor’s mansion. For good measure, in a left-leaning state – Barack Obama has a 19point lead in the latest polls in Minnesota – this Joe-the-Governor Republican was re-elected in 2006 with an increased margin.

Raised Roman Catholic, he married an evangelical Christian and converted. There is no doubt his religious faith would have seen Pawlenty connect to the Republican conservative base, which still views Senator McCain with suspicion, without alienating independents, who could easily have embraced his moderate centre-right political views.

Instead, McCain was persuaded to gamble on an untested-if-attractive unknown from Alaska and, if the polls are to be believed, he bet on the wrong governor”,25197,24555050-5013948,00.html

October 27, 2008 @ 4:16 pm | Comment

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