Inquiring minds go “Hmmmm’

A five-item ‘Review of the The News’ about That Big Bad Balloon from Communist China.

Oklahoma City — In reverse chronological here are five items about A Big Bad Balloon that make an inquiring mind go ‘HMMMM.”

And so: First, from NBC a powerful national news organization, even in the age of declining “mainstream” news organization resources.

Chinese spy balloon gathered intel from sensitive military sites and had a self-destruct mechanism

A brief summary, in case you are too busy (and who’s not busy, in the era of cell-neck and 24/7 sensationalism posing as news?): “The Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites. …”

“China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time” — that’s according to “two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior [Biden] administration official.”

And: “China has said repeatedly that the balloon was an unmanned civilian airship that accidentally strayed off course, and that the U.S. overreacted by shooting it down. Officials have not said which company, department or organization the balloon belonged to, despite several requests for comment by NBC News.”

Patrick B. McGuigan, The City Sentinel

Second, from Oklahoma’s sole female member of Congress, elected to that position by the good people of Central Oklahoma: Combating the Chinese Communist Party, Congresswoman Stephanie Bice, February 25, 2023.

Concerning the Big Bad Balloon, Bice wrote in late February, “This progress is not for self-defense. They are seeking to intimidate and threaten the U.S. and our allies.

“As Americans recently saw, the Biden Administration allowed a CCP surveillance balloon to traverse across the United States, including over some of our country’s most sensitive military sites.

“This balloon was not only a violation of Americans’ privacy, but it was a direct threat to our national security. Make no mistake, this balloon was not for research as the CCP claimed. It was an intentional act to exert force, and unfortunately Biden responded with weakness.” My favorite college writing professor used to tell his students (I took every class from that I could) that is a good practice to let facts speak for themselves, unless it was absolutely necessary to pound something into the reader’s brain (that’s a paraphrase).

The distinguished gentle-lady from Oklahoma wrote about five weeks ago: “The balloon should have never been allowed to enter U.S. airspace and it should have been shot down over the Pacific Ocean, not the Atlantic.”

Third, a few days before the Bice commentary, news of the balloon’s recover was carried in a brief story from the Patriot Sentinel:

China Spy Balloon Payload Recovery Complete, Stevie Leff, The Patriot Sentinel, February 17, 2023

The Patriot Sentinel item from Mr. Leff quoted the U.S. Northern Command, telling those interested the following: “Recovery operations concluded Feb. 16 off the coast of South Carolina, after U.S. Navy assets assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully located and retrieved debris from the high-altitude PRC surveillance balloon shot down Feb. 4, 2023.”

Leff writes provocative commentaries from time to time. In this case he let some facts speak for themselves, to wit: “The FBI is currently analyzing recovered contents of the balloon at a lab in Quantico, Virginia, according to officials. Agents are focusing on analyzing recovered electronics for information on the balloon’s purpose.”

Fourth: Chinese Spy Balloon finally shot down, Stacy Martin, February 4, 2023

The fact-statement of the shoot-down of the balloon can be found in this item from The Patriot Sentinel, in the efficient summary-style of Stacy Martin — my colleague from The Oklahoman era of my career, since then a frequent collaborator on news research projects and over the past two years again a colleague at The City Sentinel.

Stacy reported on February 4: “The U.S. shot down the Chinese Spy Balloon that had travelled the country for the past five days, officials said. Sources claimed that Biden gave the green light to shoot the balloon down days ago but the Pentagon had decided to off until it was over the Atlantic Ocean for reasons unknown.

“Given the fact that the payload was so heavy and the balloon was so large it is it is almost certain that the balloon and its electronics will sink to the ocean floor. Recovering the electronics and data will now be a challenge in hoping that they are still functional and working.”

She promised in her brief report: “This is a developing story. There will be more to come.”

For fulfillment of the “more to come” promise, see above.

Fifth and finally (first, in chronological order): Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Floating over Montana: Pentagon Just Monitoring It. Why?

The Patriot Sentinel, February 3, 2023, “Unknown object crosses into US airspace.

“A suspected Chinese surveillance balloon has been hovering over the northern U.S. for days according to the Pentagon and it was decided not to shoot it down but to closely monitor it for undisclosed reasons.

F-22 Raptors from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, flew to surveil the balloon but did not engage with the object.”

The late Joe Sobran, a controversial conservative writer who was wrong on a few things that mattered and absolutely right on a lot more things that mattered, used to say that one item or another reported in Americans news stories over the course of his life was demonstrable proof of the accuracy of what he called “The Law of Inadequate Conservative Paranoia.”

Were he alive today, I believe my pal Joe (who always forgave me for our disagreements, but who in each case retained the view he was right and I was wrong) would ruefully smile through the tears, and toss out a couple of rhetorical questions:

“Communist China’s ambitions? A threat to our existence? One that might not be recognized by our rulers until too late?”

A well-known expression comes to mind: “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”

And, to elaborate on the “inadequate paranoia” reflection, as given from my best recollection: “The actual long-term result of nearly every new liberal policy or practice that raises moral, intellectual and practical concerns among conservatives is eventually in actual-face much worse than the initial, over-the-top and rhetorically excessive initial conservative response.”

Overly dramatic, to make a point? Yep.

On the other hand, what’s NOT dramatic about the summarized events?

Pretty much on-point from the start?

Damn Right.

A final and hopefully adequate thought: The Big Bad Balloon did not become news when NBC decided it was news. It was news right from the start.

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