Joel Pett in China: June 10

June 10, 2012 

Beijing June 10, 2012

OK, I know this is alarming to all true patriots, but I am in China for two weeks on a low-level State Department diplomatic mission. By “low level” I mean that I’m pretty sure the current chain of command is Obama>Hillary>me.

I’m to give a series of speeches on press freedom, specifically how U.S. cartoonists make relentless yet utterly ineffective mockery of our elected officials, something that cartoonists around the world aren’t able to do, at least without risking censorship, incarceration or bodily harm.

Since I was never required to serve my country by drone-striking or waterboarding suspected terrorists, or strafing anyone with Agent Orange, it seems the least I can do is talk about political cartoons.

More on that as the trip progresses. For today, my primary charge is to stay awake long enough to adjust to the time difference, which I plan to do by exercising, then drinking beer.

I think I’m on the precise opposite side of the earth….not sure it matters what direction you go from Chicago…just take off and go straight for 14 hours, go down through the smog and you’re in Beijing.

Killing time on flights makes even wretched movies seem good. (“Men In Black 2?...yay, roll it!) However, since I was in Bidness Elite (big quandary: as a card-carrying member of the liberal media, I’m supposed to be against bidness but for the media and intellectual elites) I was able to choose “Casablanca” and “The Big Chill” two great flix. I’d forgotten what a cool sound track BC has.

Met an 11-year old kid from Indy on the plane, his first trip overseas….I think it will change his life. (here’s looking at you, kid)

Spectacular airport, rebuilt for the Olympics a few years ago. Very happy to see the guy with my name on his sign. My embassy driver didn’t speak a word of English….I can’t believe it….almost everyone in Lex speaks pretty decent Chinese…

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