Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pastor from England at Church Tonight

I was hoping he would bust out with the following in his thick as fog on the moors British accent: "Disease and deprivation stalk our land like two giant stalking things."

But alas, he did not.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

European Defense Forces as a Challenger to NATO?

Leaders of the United States and Europe are challenged by changes in fundamental security interests. The first challenge to Transatlantic Dialogue is the perception that European leaders are not serious about security. Posen asserts that “the EU is balancing US power.” (Posen, 151) Posen argues that the Europe’s creation of EU Security and Defense Policies (ESDP) is the structural realistic approach to countering US global hegemony. However, Posen’s support for this assertion highlights the lack of seriousness with which Europe is pursuing this “balance.” In real terms, the ESDP is a force of 60,000 or so European troops from various countries. To put those numbers into perspective, these 60, 000 troops are meant to balance the 1.44 million personnel that the United States has under arms. (DOD) This calls to mind the time France advised Stalin to be more accommodating to Catholics so his standing with the Pope would improve. Stalin asked dismissively: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” (Churchill, 121) President Bush could well ask a similar question of the ESDP.

Another challenge is the erosion in the common background of Europe and the US. Since the settlement of North America, the leadership class had descended from traditional European ethnic groups so there existed, in general terms, a shared point of view. However, demographic trends have pulled Europe and the US toward different policy concerns. Europe’s native ethnic groups no longer reproduce at replacement rates. (Steyn, 10) However, European social programs require immigrants to supply the tax payments to support those programs. These new immigrants are Muslims who are less supportive of aggressive anti-terrorist foreign policies they see as both driven by the US and as anti-Muslim. The US population is becoming increasingly Latino, whose security interests are more related to violent drug gangs threatening their families in the US and in their native countries. These growing populations have little interest in threats to European security, which represents yet another vector pulling US and Europe security apart.

Sources cited:

Churchill, Winston (1986) The second world war: the gathering storm. London: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Department of Defense. (2008) “DOD personnel and military casualty statistics” (October 31) http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/MILITARY/ms0.pdf accessed 18 December 2008.

Hason, Stephanie (2008) Mexico's spreading drug violence.
Council on Foreign Relations Daily Analysis (November 21) http://www.cfr.org/publication/17817/mexicos_spreading_drug_violence.html accessed 18 December 2008.

Posen, Barry R. (2006) European Union security and defense policy: Response to unipolarity. Security Studies, 15, no. 2 (April-May) pg 149.

Steyn, Mark. (2006) America alone: The end of the world as we know it. Washington: Regnery Publishing.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!



Bing and Frank sing a song written by Mel Torme. God really is Good.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Greatest Ponzi Schemes in History!

Check it out. Including the most brazen and nefarious one at #9

Monday, December 22, 2008

Unsolicited Political Advice

Blagojevich should appoint Patrick Fitzgerald to the Senate, it is his only hope. Blag could say something like, "I have decided to live up to the promises I made the US Attorney, and so I will appoint him to serve out President Elect Obama's term in the Senate."

Blag impugns the prosecutor just by making such a crazy offer and on the off chance Fitz accepts, Blag gets some breathing room while the replacement US Attorney gets up to speed.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Alliances support security

Transformation, per Donald Rumsfeld, involves “new combinations of concepts, capabilities, people and organizations that exploit our nation’s advantages and protect our asymmetric vulnerabilities to sustain our strategic position….” (Lamb, 1) While including new alliances in the list may seem to be stretching the concept of “transformation,” upon consideration, carefully chosen and monitored new alliances with democratic governments would do much to improve US defense.

Some of the most damaging foreign policy mistakes have resulted from problems with imprudently selected allies, like the Shah’s Iran. The United States foolishly backed the Shah and became overly identified with him, even as his policies continued to alienate the people and set the conditions for a radical revolution. In another situation, the US allowed itself to become the de facto ally of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, which in retrospect looks like an overreaction to the Soviet presence there. Unfortunately, the combination of American arms and geopolitical neglect allowed for the rise of the Taliban. In Sherwood-Randall’s romantic description of allies, Iran was like a “long marriage,” while the Mujahedeen were like the “summer romance.” (Sherwood-Randall, 3-4) In both cases, the break up resembled the ending of the movie “Fatal Attraction.”

On the other hand, well chosen and well monitored allies provide two potential advantages. Alliances with strategically positioned countries can send a signal to potential rivals that the US is willing to defend its foreign interests. The strategic location of the Ukraine, a nascent democracy on the Black Sea, situated between Poland and Russia would prove to be useful to the US. The Ukraine would allow the US to open yet another site of influence on the Russian border, and offers a potentially new location for missile defense sites. Alliances with democratic governments of countries that formerly provided shelter to terrorists would safeguard the US by squeezing terrorists into more inhospitable locations. Afghanistan and Iraq as allies would provide that service, as would Somalia, were it to develop into some kind of democracy.

Sources cited:

Lamb, Christopher J. et. al. (2005) Transforming defense. Washington: National Defense University Press.

Sherwood-Randall, Elizabeth (2006) Alliances and American national security. Strategic Studies Institute (October).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Applause



Ok, So there I was, watching Rachel Ray make a shepherd's pie while I was waiting to see the doc at the GI clinic. The recipe actually sounded really good, (minus the mushrooms, which I, under no circumstances will cook with or eat). So I am sitting there, contentedly watching when suddenly RR says, "now I will spread the mashed potatoes on top of the pie in the skillet." The audience breaks into wild applause while she is pouring mashed potatoes over the pie. She gets more applause when she announced she was spreading some cheese on top. The audience could not have been more delighted if RR had announced that she was going to make it rain by throwing a bag of $50s in the air over everyone watching in studio. Strange.

I like shepherd's pie as much as the next bloke, but I have a hard time believing I would applaud like I was watching Harry Reid doing the Blagovich perp walk out of the Capital Building even if some hottie was pouring mashed potatoes over meat pie.

A Coup in 2012?

If there were a coup, it would not be lead by the Generals. They are of the same class as the politicians and indistiguishable from them. Look for some fire-breating Lieutenant Colonel who has had it with the corruption in Washington. Hypothetically, I could see it playing out this way: Seize XM radio there in Washington, run all of congress, the Supreme Court and the staffers into RFK, and call for national elections, pronto. Some might say: "THAT is change we can believe in."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Believe or not?

My question for Patterico is why do you have a problem with the exclusiveness of Christians? If Christians believe they have the way to Life, and you don’t believe it, so what? How does their faith effect you at all?

Sure, some Christians are stupidly smug that they are going to Heaven and you are not. Their attitude is incredibly off-putting and counter-productive to growing the Kingdom of Heaven. However, the majority of Christians would be happy to have you accompany us home; all you have to do is believe. If you don’t want to believe, that is fine. All we would ask is to be left in peace, and we will leave you in peace.

For my non-believing friends (and for my parents) I take solace in the words of Christ from the Apocalypse of Peter. The book is not canonical, I know, but if you read it, I am sure you would understand why the Church would not want it in the Bible. In that book, Christ reveals Hell to Peter but assures him that for even the souls in there, because of the prayers of the faithful, there is hope: ‘My Father will give unto them all the life, the glory, and the kingdom that passeth not away,’ . . . ‘It is because of them that have believed in me that I am come. It is also because of them that have believed in me, that, at their word, I shall have pity on men.’

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Link Between Freedom and Prosperity

In general terms it would appear that countries with a high gross domestic product (GDP) are considered “Free” on the Freedom House assessment of “Freedom in the World” while those countries with the lowest GDP are considered “Not free.” Personal freedom depends on governments that respect individual rights and a judiciary that upholds those rights by respecting the rule of law without arbitrary rulings. For capitalism to thrive and produce high GDP requires the same things as personal freedom. The ruling institutions must respect the rights of property and the courts must impartially enforce contractual obligations. Trends in freedom and prosperity go in tandem since they rely on fair, well functioning governmental institutions.

The outliers to these trends are China and Russia. Both China and Russia have high GDPs but do not protect the civil liberties or political freedom of their people. Russia’s economy has benefitted from worldwide increase in demand for raw materials that are produced there even as the government has attempted to roll back political reforms started after the fall of the Berlin Wall. According to the CIA World Factbook entry on Russia, “in tandem with its prudent management of Russia's windfall energy wealth, which has helped the country rebound from the economic collapse of the 1990s, the Kremlin in recent years has overseen a recentralization of power that has undermined democratic institutions.” China economy has also benefitted from an increase in worldwide demand for products by producing those products. This increase in industrial production has increased the country’s GDP. China has nonetheless held onto it traditional authoritarian political structure that has been handed down for thousands of years. As noted in the CIA World Factbook entry for China, “DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. for much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight.” This assessment generally comports with the Freedom House rating.

The countries at the bottom of the GDP table either do not have raw materials worth exploiting or are ruled by dictators who do not respect the rights of individuals or both. Zimbabwe’s despotic ruler, of late, has not respected individual rights nor have the courts been willing to respect property deeds. As a consequence, the country is “Not Free” and the GDP is the lowest in the world. In the words of the CIA Factbook: “Robert MUGABE, the nation's first prime minister, has been the country's only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country's political system since independence. His chaotic land redistribution campaign, which began in 2000, caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities.” Niger, the most free of the bottom of GDP table has had a working democracy on and off since 1991, but basically has an economy based on subsistence agriculture. Malawi, one of ”the world's most densely populated and least developed countries” has a economy based on subsistence agriculture” according the CIA World Factbook entry. While Malawi recently held elections, irredentist factions continue to vie to overturn the government, resulting in crackdowns that lower the Freedom House assessment.

Where TO Evaluates Data From the Last Two Presidential Elections

According to the data, it would appear that the typical Republican voter is from the western or southern states with median household incomes below those of states that vote heavily Democratic. The typical Republican voter appears to vote in rough proportion to the “white only” percentage of the state. The typical Republican voter appears to come from states with lower educational achievement than the voters from states that vote heavily Democratic. Since the table uses educational achievement as a proxy for white color employment, it would also appear the Republican voters come from states with less white collar employments and proportionately fewer residents in urban environments. To sum up, according to the data, it appears that the typical Republican voter is relatively rural, less educated, more likely to be white, with a lower median income than the typical Democrat voter.

It would appear that the typical Democratic voter is from the northeastern states with relatively high household incomes. The typical Democratic voter appears to vote in higher percentages for the Democrat the higher the percentage of all residents who live in urban settings. More research is needed to determine why heavily Democratic Vermont is such an outlier in the percentage of urban dwellers. Democrats in states with strong ties to the Democrat candidate tend to vote in high percentages for the Democrat. States with very high percentages of minorities appear to vote in large numbers for the Democrat, but the inverse does not appear to be true, as low minority population in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont nonetheless vote heavily Democratic. The typical Democrat tends to come from states with high levels of educational achievement. Since the table uses educational achievement as a proxy for white collar employment, it would appear from the data that Democratic voters come from states with more white-collar employment. To sum up, according to the data the typical Democratic voter is relatively urban, from the Northeast or from States where minorities represent the majority of the population. Further, the typical Democratic voter is more educated and with higher levels of income than the typical Republican voter.

There were two different criticisms of my analysis of the Presidential election. One criticism is that I did not address whether the electorate has become more liberal. Since that question was not asked in the packet or in the assignment, I did not think to attempt to glean an answer from the data sets. Had I been challenged to do so, I would not have been able to determine if the population of the US had become more liberal. None of the data sets that we were required to evaluate serve as a valid proxy for political attitudes. If having the political attitude of being “liberal” is equated with voting for the Democratic candidate, then the word “liberal” loses all meaning. A case study would be West Virginia voters who elect Democratic senators, to include a former Klu Klux Klansman, but nonetheless voted for the Republican candidate. Another case study would be Maine, a state the reliably votes for the Democratic presidential candidate but has two Republican senators. California voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic presidential candidate, but passed a constitutional restriction on same-sex marriage, something that would be unthinkable in a truly liberal electorate. The data appears to show that voting patterns are a poor proxy for determining whether a population has a “liberal” attitude. Since Census data is comprised of objectively quantifiable attributes, until someone can make the case that there is an objective measure that correlates directly to a subjective attitude, then any assessment from this data about whether the electorate has become more “liberal” would be pure speculation.

The second criticism was regarding the technical observation that the District of Columbia is not a state and should not be included in the data collection exercise. I actually debated whether to include DC in the assessment for exactly that reason, that DC is technically not a state. Eventually, I decided to include DC since it has 1) the exact same weight in the Presidential election as seven actual states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming) two of which are the home states of individuals on the tickets for the major parties. 2) The population of DC is actually larger than Wyoming, a state that appeared in the exercise. 3) For the purposes of the Electoral College, DC is a state so it was valid to include its characteristics in an assessment of voting patterns.
This criticism: “With DC, there is a minority population factor that can affect the ‘outcome’ of your assessment” was particularly puzzling. The data appears to show that people from areas with high numbers of urban residents vote for the Democratic candidate. The data appears to show that States and Districts with electoral votes where minorities are in the majority in the population, such as in Hawaii and DC, vote for the Democratic candidate. That is an interesting trend and a valid outcome for the analysis. I remain unclear regarding the “factor” about DC’s minority population would otherwise affect the outcome of the analysis. DC is virtually a control subject for both these population characteristics in the data collection exercise.

TO's Opinion of Obama


Someone asked me what my opinion of Obama. I am paraphasing myself so quote me or the paraphrase, but I said something like this: "He is just another corrupt scumbag mobbed up Chicago criminal politician." How right I am.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I love me some kimchi!


Here are thousands of Koreans making it at once. YUM!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Couple of Motivational Quotations

"The people have spoke—the bastards." - Dick Tuck

"The tree of Liberty needs to be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson

Simpering dolts

Here is a whole crowd of Obamaniacs at http://www.zefrank.com/from52to48withlove/ wanting to be friends after trashing President Bush for 8 years and Sarah Palin for the last 3 months.

No thanks. I am not interested in reconciling with that corrupt bunch. Good luck, Obama but don't expect any help from me, don't expect any salutes and don't expect any respect. America is not the president and the president is not America. I salute the flag, I love the people in real America out in the heartland, I love the Marine Corps but I look at those corrupt, anti-American democrats, city dwellers and their propaganda arm in the media and think "the enemy really is in the seat of power."

No amount of pictures of morons begging to be friends is going to change that.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Where TO explains his heritage, and skewers Obama at the same time

Long time readers may know that TO is of French - Acadian Heritage. Some like to call him a "coon-ass." Be that as it may, some of my coon-ass cousins from Sout Loooziana produced a pretty cool campaign video. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

TO’s Johnny Cash Memorial “This stuff is too hot for you, so don’t even try it” Chili

2 lbs 81% lean ground beef

Wick Fowler’s Two Alarm Chili Mix

2 table spoons crushed red pepper

2 cans DelMonte Diced Cut Tomatoes with Jalapenos

1 can Rotel Tomatoes with Habaneros

10 recently picked jalapeno peppers sliced long ways then diced

1 medium red onion

Brown ground beef, pour off fat. Mix Wick Fowler’s in as directed. Substitute 2 cans of DelMonte Diced Cut Tomatoes with Jalapenos for the can of tomato paste and water. Add crushed red pepper. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add masa as directed, Rotel Tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and onion. Simmer 20 minutes. Enjoy immediately. Put the rest in the refrigerator and savor it for the rest of the week, because none of your weak and worthless family members or friends will touch it and it will all be for you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A public service to you, bringing you McCain's latest ads by guest directors

"Address your argument to cowards and knaves"

That is what I said to someone who said, "TO, I think we are going to lose this one, and I fear for the country."

Here is the full context of the quote: "Address that argument to cowards and to knaves; with the free and the brave it will effect nothing. It may be true; if it must, let it...The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just...Let none falter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But if after all, we shall fail, be it so."

Who said that? Abraham Lincoln when people questioned his support for William Henry Harrison in 1840. Interestingly, Harrison improbably won that election because of stalwarts like Lincoln.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Police are ready for post-Obama loss riots



I'm ready.

Are you ready?

Lord have Mercy! I love her!

Sarah Palin re Biden's list of Obama inspired crises: "But I guess the looming crisis that most worries the Obama campaign right now is Joe Biden's next speaking engagement."

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's not a black thing, so I knew you wouldn't understand



A quote from Colin Powell's endorsement of Barry: "As a soldier, I craved civilian leadership that grew up on the mean streets of Hawaii, did loads of coke, and turned the South Side of Chicago into a latter day Eden through his community organizing. Further, Obama's "uhhhs and ummmms" when his teleprompter goes down, display exactly the kind of clear thinking and quick wittedness someone of my meagre ability would find impressive in a president. It is therefore with confidence that I can shoot the bird at those who showed such undeserved confidence my ability and stood loyaly behind me even as I fumbled and dissembled through my stint as Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, and who appointed my son to be head of the FCC. Oh, and it has nothing to do with the fact that Obama is black. Haha suckers."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Keeping hope alive, fighting prejudice, and being proud!



Representative Obama supporters.

This is good stuff

Fast loading videos that tell the truth about Obama's positions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My olive branch to Obama and his supporters

I offer him the same deference and consideration they have offered President Bush and Sarah Palin. Or as expressed by a certain Mr Gately:

I consider myself a libertarian/conservative. Like many people of that bent, I was uncomfortable with Bush when he was nominated. But Al Gore's increasingly-erratic behavior during the 2000 election made me hope Bush won.

Once Bush won, and it became clear that the Florida democrats were trying to steal the election, I became something of a Bush loyalist. Throughout his first term, I took note of all the really horrible things that were said about him, saw that a large portion of the left would rather see Bush fail than see America succeed, and was alarmed by the complicity (and often, participation) of the MSM and mainstream Hollywood. It wasn't far into his second term that I succumbed to Bush Fatigue, due to his inability to make the case for his foreign policy to the American people, and his inability to find the veto pen. He has truly been a terrible steward of the Republican brand, and because of this, the Conservative and libertarian causes are suffering.

I'm no fan of McCain , but as I dislike Obama (and love Palin), I'll be pulling the lever for McCain in November.

This is surely small of me, but if Obama wins, I plan on giving him as much of a chance as the Democrats gave George Bush. I will gleefully forward every paranoid anti-Obama rumor that I see, along with YouTube footage of his verbal missteps. I will laugh and email heinous anti-Obama photoshop jobs, and maybe even learn photoshop myself to create some. I'll buy anti-Obama books, and maybe even a "Not My President" t-shirt. I'm sure that the mainstream bookstores won't carry them, but I'll be on the lookout for anti-Obama calendars and stuff like that. I will not wish America harm, and if the country is hurt (economically, militarily, or diplomatically) I will truly mourn. But i will also take some solace that it occurred under Obama's watch, and will find every reason to blame him personally and fan the flames.

Obama's thuggish behavior thus far in this election cycle - squashing free speech, declaring any criticism of his policies to be "racist" (a word that happily carries little weight with sensible people these days), associating with the likes of Ayers, Wright, and ACORN - suggests that I won't have to scrape for reasons to really viscerally dislike Obama and his administration. And even if he wins, his campaign's "get out the vote fraud" activities are enough to provide people like me with a large degree of "plausible deniability" as to whether he is actually legitimately the president.

I've seen a President that I am generally-inclined to like get crapped on for eight years, and I've seen McCain and Palin (honorable people both, despite policy differences I may have with them) get crapped on through this election season. If the Democrats think that a President Obama is going to get some sort of honeymoon from the folks who didn't vote for him, as a wise man once said: heh.


I could have written that myself, if I had any actual writing talent. Just let me add: I recommend you arm yourself in self defense immediately. If McCain wins Obama supporters will be stupified by the defeat and will looking to take it out on someone. If Reginald Denny is not around, you will do. If Obama wins, your ability to buy guns and ammunition for your own defense will be severely curtailed. If it is good enough for Chicago, it is good enough for you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Here is a great idea from your Federal Judiciary

Release Muslim terrorists into DC! I think we can all feel a little safer knowing that some Bill Clinton appointee carefully weighed the evidence and decided that the best place for jihadist terrorists was the Capital of the Great Satan! Good work, Ricardo!

Too bad we didn't grease those terrorists when we had the chance. Now, we are all at the mercy of the liberal judges.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ms Obama, I am sorry I don't feel guilty. No, really


A friend of mine sent me this op-ed which her local cat box liner/Democrat talking points delivery device, the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star, just published. It is written by Tim Wise, the guiltiest white man, a huckster who conducts "White Privilege" seminars that companies and governments are extorted into paying for. (I apologize in advance for linking to that).

The most succinct rebuttal to that article is that if Obama were white, he would be Joe Biden. Biden, who won exactly zero primaries, and just a few more votes than that. Obama is the democrat nominee BECAUSE he is black.

I think the strongest argument FOR "white privilege" is the condition of places that have explicitly rejected it: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Haiti, DC, Detroit. Ask anyone if they would prefer to live in these bastions of "people of color" privilege, and I think we all know the answer.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Way to End the Housing Crisis

I wrote this to my congressman. Feel free to use the text.

If this bailout bill ends up passing, I would really appreciate you including a provision to raze any house to which the government gets title. Once the house it razed, the land could then be turned over to the National Park Service to stand as a national park in perpetuity.

This would do three things: 1) Provide good jobs in the house razing industry that can't be outsoursed.

2) Reduce the number of empty pre-existing homes that are depressing the value of other homes in the surrounding area.

3) Provide needed green space that would enrich the lives of the children in the neighborhood and serve to bolster the values of homes going forward.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Children's Happy Tune

(Hum along to yourself to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon")

Explodey the Floundering Whay- ale, Lives in the Sea
And went aground in the Aussie Waves, in the windward and the lee
He can’t swim away at all, and can’t stay upon the land
So everyone down under came to stand upon the sand

Explodey the Floundering Whay-ale, listing to and fro
Veterinarians got in a boat, and then began to row.
They looked at his tail, they looked at the middle too
Then they looked at his big whaley head and decided what to do

They called for plastic explosives, called for some hand grenades
Called for lethal munitions and called for a cannonade
Then they changed their minds, and called for this instead
They put a bomb right near his brain so they could blow up his head

Oh, Explodey the Floundering Whay-ale, soon to be without a snout
Asked the children on the sand to laugh and play, and never again to pout
“They are coming to blow up my bray-ain, and really, that is that,
You should all smile and think of me when you feed my blubber to your cat!”

Why do we need an AFRICOM?

Even if it is causing "suspicions" among Africans? Um, could it be because China is trying to enslave the place and we want to stop it? Nah, it is probably because George Bush is racist.

Et tu, National Review?

Parker's suggestion that Palin should resign for the good of her party was just stupid. I read it as something a RINO would write in the hopes that McCain would do something sensible and pick Lieberman so that when the Republicans lose, the Dems would be more kindly disposed towards us. I am sure she got a ton of congratulatory emails from the Kos Kids and Obama for President.

I sure Ponnuru wrote his post blaming Republicans (who, incidentally, stood behind him during his "Party of Death" days) in order to come in out of the cold with his Dem pals. Ditto on the emails.

Both the article and the post were deeply disappointing, and the fact that you let them pass makes me wonder if you yourself aren't wishing you could come in out of the cold, given the reception your abortion views have among your journalist friends. It is bad enough that we are subject to Derb's libertarian claptrap, must all of you start "evolving" away from conservatism at once?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What is the biggest news out of China today?

A spacewalk made possible by purloined American technology? (Thanks, President Clinton!) Or the Chinese food industry once again poisoning children?

Answer: Poisonous food. The Chinese kill our dogs, now they kill their own children. Look for executions of milk plant managers soon, but don't expect anything to change.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Profoundly Sad Pictures


North Korea has so much potential, but they are in the grip of madmen and despots. Our children are going to ask us why we did nothing for their children.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Czabe and TO vs Olbermann

People are always asking me, "TO, why don't you watch 'Football Night in America' with us?" To which I always answer: "No f-ing way. I don't watch anything with Olbermann in it."

Lately, Steve Czaban, the great sports commentator, now heard five days a week on XM Channel 142 6-9am, has been asking if anyone avoids 'Football Night in America' like he does because of Olbermann? The answer, I know I am not the only one. That guy hates the military and hates anyone who does not agree with him. Why would I want to contibute, even in a small way, by watching a commercial television with him on it? I would rather boycott anything he is on, than view one advertisement, the purchase of which goes to pay his salary. The sooner he is off the air and no longer undermining America with his propaganda, the better.

Madison Ave Real Estate Tough Guy Takes on Palin

Emile Leplattenier, aka "The Road", fresh off his triumphant victory over etoys.com, takes on Jim Treacher by emailing his searing take-down of Sarah Palin which he cross-posted in the comments section of a hippie radio station blog. Too bad art school, a foppish name and a Madison Ave real estate job still don't guarantee that you have enough brains or balls to accurately criticize a war hero or a middle class mom who managed to get herself elected governor.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Listening to Laura Ingraham is not good for my blood pressure

Laura, Geez, stop beating up on McCain on economics. He said the fundamentals of the economy are strong, and you disagreed and criticized him. He now says that financiers need adult supervision and he is going to give it to them, and you criticize him. Meanwhile, his proposals have been resoundingly approved by Wall Street and have caused the value of your investments to go up, something that you said you were sweating. You should thank John McCain rather that beat up on him.

You sound like an ignorant Pelosi-style harpy. Stop talking about things that are out of your depth, and go back to blathering about pop music, and your pals who are Dems and your dog. You are good at that stuff

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dem Governors Against Prosperity but Still Firmly Anti-Bush!

Listening to Sarah Palin talk about the program in Alaska that returns oil royalties to the citizen in the form of a yearly check, it seemed to me that would be the perfect argument for opening drilling off the coasts of the US. States would receive royalties for the oil drilling in their coastal waters, and that money could be returned to the people! Although, who am I kidding? If New Jersey suddenly started getting big checks from the oil companies for royalties, Corzine would blow it on some stupid government program. Ditto Tim Kaine in Virginia. But it seems that the prospect of a big windfall from the oil companies to coastal states should be considered if they were serious about balancing budgets, reducing the cost of gasoline and giving people a tax break.

Further, you would think these states’ governors would be interested in huge number of high paying jobs that drilling would bring AND the taxes that they would pay into state accounts. But no, Bush wants drilling, so it must be bad. All that other stuff, lower taxes, more jobs, more solvency in state budgets, we don’t want that if it means Bush is right.

Stupid.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Barack's Terrorist Buddy Has a Ring Made From McCain's Downed Plane?

This post got me to thinking: John McCain's plane was shot down over Vietnam, and the wreckage would have been particularly symbolic to the Vietnamese since McCain was the son of CINCPAC. A ring made of that wreckage was just the kind of thing the Vietnamese would have presented to traitors like Ayers and Dohrn. Wouldn't it be ironic that the first hand Obama shook after declaring he was running for the presidency from Ayers' living room had a ring on it made from a relic of McCain's plane?

Laura Ingraham ticks me off, again

She send me an email in which she said this: "Brooks's main argument against Palin is that she lacks the type of experience and historical understanding that led President Bush to a 26 percent approval rating in his final months in office."

So I sent her an email back:

Well, I take issue with your characterization that Bush is a poor president because he has a 26% approval rating. This analysis is on par with your shallow, vapid observations about which movies or songs are good based on the box office receipts or number of downloads. Pres Bush is unpopular because he refuses to accomodate every shifting political peccadillo of an electorate that gets its day to day cues about what is popular from late night comic monologues. For someone who purports to be so true to her conservative ideals, you put a lot of stock in the approval ratings of a great man and president that have been relelentlessly driven down by the attacks from entertainment and news media elites.

I am sure you and your pals in the gym and at the arugula salad bar and in line when you are picking up your daughter from private school there in DC all tut tut about President Bush and giggle over the latest line from Jon Stewart, but my fellow Marines and their families know courage and greatness when we see it, and he has it. Pity you neither see it nor have it, yourself.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jim Rockford for VP, either ticket

Pros: California law and order tough guy bona fides; Korean War veteran; constant fishing shows environmental streak; already has really cool Secret Service code name given to him by Isaac Hayes: "Rockfish"

Cons: Seems to have a glass jaw during fist fights, so might mean he is not be able to stand up to intense media scrutiny; wardrobe of plaid jackets and wide, white belts might be alarming to casual TV viewers

Reaction to this controversial proposal:

Mxymaster: isn't he a felon? Which is how he knew Hayes' character (not to mention Angel). That could be sticky.

Also, Jim has a bad tendency to send cars over cliffs where they erupt in balls of fire. He always ejects to safety, but what about his secret service detail?

LarsWalker: I believe it was established in the pilot that Jim Rockford had received a full pardon for his felony conviction. I don't think a convicted felon could have obtained a Private Investigator's License either.

But Jim's not VP material. Can you imagine him taking the heat for the boss? Swallowing his own opinions to follow the Official Line? Spending a whole day doing serious work at a desk or in a conference room?

He became a PI to avoid that grind.

Bgbear: They could move Jim Rockford's trailer onto the West Lawn and rent out Number One Observatory Circle.

Also the Camaro would replace the VP's limo.

I also think Angel could get the word on the street about Osama Bin Laden.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Obama Slurs, Maligns Disabled Veteran

"Our economy wouldn't survive without the Internet, and cyber-security continues to represent one our most serious national security threats," [Obama spokesman Dan] Pfeiffer said. "It's extraordinary that someone [McCain] who wants to be our president and our commander in chief doesn't know how to send an e-mail."

Why in the world would someone not bother to learn to send emails? HAHAHAHAHA Probably because John "Geriatric" McCain is old and out of it, like Gramps in the old folks home drooling his pea soup. HAHAHAHAHAHA Loser!

But could it be that McCain never bothered to learn to send emails because he can't use a computer keyboard due to the injuries he suffered at the hands of his Vietnamese torturers? Yes.


People ask, "TO, why are you so agin B. Hussein?" Answer: Because of stuff like this.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Obama call Palin a "pig"

Disagree? Screw you, "macaca"-philes. And you, McCain house counters. And you, Trent Lott baiters. And you too, all you claiming McCain wants 100 more years of troops in Iraq.

Face it, the Wizard of Uhhhhhs, Uhhhbama blew it on this one. He should go back to reading off the teleprompter.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Few More State Quarters

Tennessee Date Quarter Released: January 02, 2002 (16th) Statehood: June 01, 1796

This quarter is just sorry. The three musical instruments represent the three musical traditions of the three regions of Tennessee and the three stars ALSO represent the three regions. Ok, we get it, three regions and three types of music. But no banjo? Clearly, a disastrous oversight. In case you did not get the message about music and regions, Tennessee thoughtfully included a banner with the simple declarative: “Musical Heritage.” Tennessee has a musical heritage, how unique among the states.

Tennessee has an outstanding nickname already, “the Volunteer State.” Tennessee is home of heroic patriots since 1812 and the War for Texas Independence. Too bad the current residents could not have figured a better way to commemorate this heritage.

Ohio Date Quarter Released: March 11, 2002 (17th) Statehood: March 01, 1803

This quarter is very well done. Ohio is known for two things, being the birthplace of presidents and for being the home of the Wrights and of the more famous astronauts. Recognizing this heritage, Ohio chose to commemorate that, rather than make up something phony and contrived (see: Tennessee).

The design itself was really well done, featuring the state outline, which I really like and a couple of design elements: the Wright flyer and a lunar astronaut. While I think the astronaut is supposed to be Neil Armstrong, a proud Buckeye, the design is based on the famous picture, taken BY Neil Armstrong, of Buzz Aldrin of New Jersey. So, like North Carolina, Ohio puts a native of another state on their quarter.

Louisiana Date Quarter Released: May 20, 2002 (18th) Statehood: April 30, 1812

Sometimes, it is the little things that knock down an otherwise first rank quarter design. Louisiana’s entry was really promising outline of the state, within the outline of the United States. Special bonus points to the graphical depiction of history with the outline of the Louisiana Purchase included in the design. There is also a pelican standing off to the side, its feet in Mexico and its head in New Mexico. There is no problem with the pelican since it is the state bird and is actually featured on the state flag.

Where the design goes wrong is the incorporation of a trumpet stuck up in Canada with three musical notes being tootled out of it. The design has a theme: the history of Louisiana and an official symbol. The addition of the trumpet muddies the effect and clutters the design. Too bad, there was real potential here.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gotta love that naughty librarian vibe!


I have to agree with Mark Steyn, WOW. I am actually going to vote for McCain/Palin with relish.

What really did it for me is on this video. Check it out.

Turns out, it wasn't lost at all, thanks to George W Bush and the Marines


The US is handing over control of Anbar province back to the Iraq government. Congratulations for the George Bush for his sound judgement and courage to stay the course with his surge and the the courageous Marines who did the dirty work that had to be done to save Anbar.

Let us not forget the author of the comment that "Anbar is lost" is Marine Colonel Pete Devlin. His assessment has to rank among the worst intelligence assessments of all times. You would think that such a manifest failure would hurt his career, but you would be wrong. I suspect that he will be promoted to General some day. Watch for it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Basic Instinct for Faith

I read a really interesting article about Joe Eszterhas, the screen writer of movies like Basic Instinct and one of my all time trashy movie favorites (at least for a while), Showgirls. It seems that although Eszterhas had been riding high, making money off depicting the dark side of humanity, he knew there was a whole in his soul. Things got so bad for him that "He plopped down on a curb and cried. Sobbed, even. And for the first time since he was a child, he prayed: 'Please God, help me.'" The author of the piece likened what happened next as similar to Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus.

However, to me, Esterhas' story reminded me of Nebuchadrezzar who ruled as king of Babylon, but lost it all and was crawling around like an animal until he suddenly decided to pray to the God Daniel had introduced him to. 34And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.

TOGA!


I just got access to the newest Obama campaign poster before his big speech from the steps of the Roman Coliseum, er, Mile High Stadium and I thought I would share it with you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"We should be led by Osama bin Laden, I mean Obama and Biden."

According to Charlie Wilson. Yes, THAT Charile Wilson.

Reminds me of this great clip from the formerly drunk and dissolute, now drunk, dissolute and brain damaged Senior Senator from Massachusetts: Watch!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

a/k/a Barry Obama


This lawsuit, filed in Federal Court in Pennsylvania by a Democrat no less, is pretty entertaining. It is entertaining not because I think there is much in this lawsuit on the merits, but mostly because of all the “a/k/a’s” the Plaintiff included. Barak Hussein Obama, a/k/a Barry Soetoro, a/k/a Barry Obama a/k/a Barack Dunham a/k/a Barry Dunham.

Regarding the merits of the case, Article 1 Clause 5 of the Constitution requires that a person be born a citizen of the US in order to be eligible to be president. Further, US law that the time of Barry Hussein’s birth i.e. 24 December 1952 to 14 November 1986, required that children born of a US citizen and a foreign national, like Barry Hussein’s mom and his Kenyan dad, required that that the US citizen had been one for 10 years, five years of which had to have been after the parent's 14th birthday. Of course, all this is moot if the child is born in the US, as the pregnant Mexicans desperate to drop across the Rio Grande can attest. The suit maintains that Barry Hussein. The final part of this suit against Barry Hussein and the a/k/a’s is that the evidence that he was actually born in the US is forged and in fact he was born in Africa to a US woman who was too young to have spent 5 years after her 14th birthday as a citizen in order to confer natural born citizen to little Barry.

There is also some concern that Barry Hussein maintains some kind of dual loyalty to Kenya or Indonesia, which while not technically against the law, might be troublesome in a President. This is the least compelling part of the case, since everyone knows BHO’s fiercest loyalty is to his own ambition, not to some flag or fatherland.

I think the standard of proof will be too high in this case, and I think there will be a presumption that the Hawaii birth certificate, even though many are convinced it is a forgery, will carry the day to prove Barry Hussein was born in the US, but it is an entertaining suit to be in the courts during the Dem convention.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

He's the ONE!

And I am not talking about the real one: Keanu Reeves. It's Barry Hussein!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dems Grok B. Hussein



At the big Triumph of the Will style rally that B. Hussein is going to have in Denver, a move is afoot to have everyone salute the dear leader with a particular hand signal (Note: not the one I would give him).

I have included a picture of some actual supporters demonstrating the new signal. "We grok you, Barry. We hope you grok us back!"

Friday, August 08, 2008

President Bush Visits Yongsan Garrison, Korea

He got an appreciative reception from the troops assembled there. TO's special Korea correspondent weighed in with the following report:

"I met The President Yesterday it was kind of neat, but a little underwhelming. I expected a more commanding presence but it just wasn't there. He appeared to be a pretty down to earth guy that you could just hang out with and shoot turtles."

I can think of no higher praise for or about any man.

Taiwan Marine Master Sergeant Completes USMC Staff NCO Advanced Course


At Camp Pendleton, good on her. Notice she is wearing her uniform, or at least a uniform. Usually, Taiwanese have to wear a suit or some other civilian clothes when they come to Marine Corps courses. I really like the fact that the Marine Corps has allowed the Taiwanese to wear a uniform while they are training. I am more heartened by this, than any of the saccharine stories coming out of Beijing during the Olympics.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

China’s Influence on Post-Cold War North Korea: The Whale and the Shrimp

Kim Il Sung’s demise and the crushing of the communist coup against Yeltsin in Russia following soon after left North Korea without its founder and without its major benefactor. China stepped up to support Kim Jong Il, ostensibly out of socialist solidarity but probably because neither has many other options. Both countries suffer from poor relations with other countries in the world. China is a feared bully in the region and North Korea is a reckless pariah. “Arguably China and North Korea cling to each other because they have nowhere else to turn―each believes that close cooperation with the other is vital to its own national security.” 1

The official Chinese line is that China and North Korea are as close as brothers, each relying on the other. “China needs peace and stability along its border, in order to ensure its rapid modernization. Likewise, the DPRK needs China’s cooperation, in order to press ahead with its socialist construction. Since both countries need each other for these economic and social purposes, stronger bilateral relations are inevitable. 2 The reality is that China perceives the need for North Korea to serve as a buffer against the forces of the United States and Japan. “With a shared border of 1,400 kilometers, North Korea acts as a guard post for China, keeping at bay the tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea. This allows China to reduce its military deployment in Northeast.” 3 China places great value on this buffer, but North Korea has not always reciprocated this feeling or had much appreciation for being such a buffer.

 Nonetheless, circumstances have thrown China and North Korea together, and now the world looks at them as big brother and little brother. With North Korean leadership’s apparent recklessness and willingness to engage in brinksmanship, diplomats have striven to leverage what influence can be brought to bear on the actions of the DPRK. This paper will examine how China came to be perceived as the one country in the world with influence over North Korea and whether this perception comports with reality.  

 

North Korea’s traditional patron had been the Soviet Union. After World War II, with China exhausted from the long running battle with Japan and a crushing civil war, Stalin saw an opportunity to grab part of the peninsula at relatively little cost. Why this particular conflict mattered to Stalin is unknown, but eventually it paid off richly for him and the Soviet Union. 4 Stalin permitted the establishment of a proxy force led by Kim Il Sung to rule the area and to be beholden to the Soviet Union. Kim Il Sung, by his good fortune and loyal service to the Soviet Union was installed almost by accident as leader of newly liberated North Korea in early 1946. However, the real power remained in the hands of the Soviets. “The Soviet authorities and the apparatus of advisors had a decisive influence on the life of the country and in the first years of the DPRK, Kim was only nominally ruler.” 5

Kim shrewdly assessed his position and eventually seized the opportunity that he was presented to consolidate his rule in Stalinist fashion he had been taught during his time as and officer in the Soviet Army. After the indecisive Korean War, when the frontier had returned to its antebellum approximation, Kim purged his government of potential rivals and began to play the Soviet Union and China off one another, first tilting towards one, then the other. 6 Kim proved quite adept at this type of stratagem and eventually became a willing participant in the Soviet’s Cold War against the West. In return, the Soviet Union provided material goods and energy to the North Korean economy. “The Soviet Union supported North Korea with massive military and technical aid, but after the Cold War, North Korea lost this support, and its economy seriously deteriorated.” 7 With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, North Korea’s most powerful friend and the basis for their economy suddenly went away.  

With the loss of the Soviet Union, Kim was forced to find another patron to prop up his decrepit economy. Lacking any other really options, he solicited China for support. This was a problematic strategy because Kim and many North Koreans believed that with the opening towards the US and the recognition of South Korea, Chinese had committed a serious affront. In the words of a Chinese analyst, the Chinese “betrayed them [North Korea]. We [the Chinese] embraced the U.S. and the enemy in the South.” 8 This betrayal was a particularly bitter one for Kim and North Korea. Kim had sought desperately to prevent China from recognizing South Korea but when his efforts came to naught, “North Korea accepted the blow with official silence.” 9 Kim was forced to bear his betrayal in silence and find some accommodation with the Chinese because he was out of options. The economic situation was dire, with many observers reporting that North Koreans were starving to death. “By the end of 1992, the North Korean government began to impose strict limits on food consumption, limiting individual intake to one-fourth of basic requirements.” 10

The degree to which Kim Il Sung was willing to put aside his historical wariness towards the Middle Kingdom and his bitterness at the recognition of South Korea in order to adopt a conciliatory attitude towards China was an indicator of how perilous the economic and political situation of North Korea actually was. The North Korean people were starving and the world was alarmed at North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. North Korea needed friends but there always existed a concern that North Korea would turn on those who tried to help them. China seemed poised to move into the vacuum created by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but remained somewhat wary. An observer noted that “nobody has a greater knack [than North Korea] for alienating friends and enemies alike.” 11 Even with their dire economic and political situation, North Korea continued to pursue their own policies even when those policies gave headaches to the Chinese leadership. Nonetheless, China continued to shield North Korea. China’s reason for doing so involved internal calculations about their own political requirements.  

Lord Palmerson, British Prime Minister, in a speech to Commons in 1848 noted that “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” 12 In slightly less elegant prose, China expressed the same sentiment: “The fundamental basis for the formulation of China’s national defense policy is China’s national interests… China takes all measures necessary to safeguard its national interests.” 13 China’s overriding interest has always been security. Even the nickname for China, “the Middle Kingdom” implies that there are areas on the periphery that serve to impede invaders before they can get to the vital, center of the nation. Korea has historically been one of those buffers, serving to keep the Japanese away and more recently, keeping the Americans away. In the estimation of most observers, the status quo on the peninsula which features a stable North Korea balancing South Korea to be the best possible buffer and one that best serves China’s interests. Later, we will examine whether a tranquil Korea is truly in China’s interest in their own estimation.

Another of China’s interests has traditionally been not to become entangled in alliances which might reduce their freedom of maneuver. Ironically, the only formal bi-lateral alliance China has is with North Korea, the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance Between the People's Republic of China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea signed in 1961. 14 China generally does not attempt creative or risky diplomatic gambits and is extremely risk adverse when it comes to international relations. China is not above bullying or bluster, but they have little stomach for confrontation with the US. 15 Some of this risk aversion towards confrontation with the US lies in the fact that China lost more than 800,000 troops in the Korean War against American forces. 16 Of late, China has observed the US military fight and win battles year after year while the People’s Liberation Army has done little more than line its own pockets with business ventures. It is likely that the Chinese leadership has assessed that they are as likely to experience a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Americans as they are to win such an encounter.

This does not mean that China is unwilling to contest areas where they feel their national interests are in the balance. Although China is risk adverse, they are nonetheless still willing to commit overwhelming force when they feel that their core interests are threatened by some outside aggressor. The most obvious example of this was the willingness to commit millions of troops and to take frightful numbers of casualties, to prevent the US from entering China during the Korean War. China sees its buffering areas, Korea, Manchuria, Western China and Tibet, as tripwires, encroachments on which are signals to act. The reason that China was willing to suffer almost a million casualties was the specter of the well trained and equipped US army pushing into traditional Chinese lands over the Yalu River. Chinese commitment of troops showed dramatically “the sensitivity of the Chinese to any encroachment on their borderlands, their buffers, which represent the foundation of their national security.” 17

 Similarly, Chinese diplomats will expend political capital and will make daring diplomatic gambits when the Chinese leadership estimates that there is a significant threat to Chinese sovereignty. The last such bold diplomatic initiative occurred in 2003. China assessed that President Bush was unpredictable and likely to attack North Korea as he had Iraq. “The Chinese leader reportedly was alarmed that U.S. military action against North Korea might be imminent in the aftermath of Iraq and believed Beijing had to act promptly to avert war on the Korean Peninsula.” 18

The combination of North Korea’s desperation and China’s alarm at the intentions of the United States on the Korean peninsula might suggest that the two neighbors along the Yalu River would be find their diplomatic interests to be aligned. Conventional wisdom has long accepted that China has some influence over North Korean foreign policy. There are literally hundreds of web pages listed when one types “China’s influence over North Korea” into an internet search engine. However, savvy observers have learned to be cautious about observing “2+2” with regards to China and North Korea and assuming “4.” There remains much about North Korean and Chinese decision-making and internal political calculation that is unknown, especially in the aftermath of the death of Kim Il Sung and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  

Circumstances would seem to indicate that China should have influence on North Korean policies perhaps in moderating some of North Korea’s brinkmanship. However, North Korea has been stubbornly resistant to this supposed Chinese influence. There are competing hypotheses about what is actually going on in this relationship. One is that North Korea is stubbornly contrarian, doing the opposite of what China has urged in order to exemplify North Korean commitment to “juche” or “self-reliance.” Alternately, it is possible that China is not actually trying to influence North Korean behavior in any tangible way because of fear on the part of the Chinese that they worry that they actually do not have any influence over Kim so they are not willing to risk doing anything. The last and perhaps most worrisome explanation of the circumstances is that North Korea is actually doing EXACTLY what China wants. North Korea keeps the US, South Korea and Japan off balance by appearing reckless and unreasonable and this allows China to appear statesmanlike and reasonable. Further, North Korea’s alarming behavior encourages the other participants in the Six Nation Talks to more readily accede to North Korean (and, as the theory goes, Chinese) demands.  

Let us examine the evidence for each hypothesis in turn. One explanation for North Korea’s stubborn resistance to China’s influence is that for die-hard communists, political concerns are more important than economic leverage, even for an impoverished economic basket-case like North Korea. In other words, ideology trumps all other considerations. Professor Yan Xuetong of Qinghua University in Beijing argued that even though economic ties have increased between the countries, political ties have remained strained. "This is a common phenomenon after the Cold War. Economic relations don't necessarily mean that the political relations of the two countries will be good or one has more political influence on the other." 19 
For some, the evidence of this lack of influence is apparent. The chief negotiator for the US in the Six Party Talks expressed surprise at the lack of respect and ingratitude that North Korea showed to the Chinese: 

I don't know about the Chinese people, but I would have been a little surprised to have seen a senior Chinese delegation go to Pyongyang with a rather fair request and to see the DPRK not receive the delegation at an appropriate level. 
And what was interesting was, of course, at about the same time there was a DPRK delegation in Beijing that was received at an appropriate level. Your President who's a very busy man, who has -- your President has worldwide responsibilities, and without stretching the imagination too much, I suspect he has more responsibilities than Kim Jong-Il does. And yet he found time to meet with the DPRK delegation and Kim Jong-Il did not find time to meet with the Chinese delegation. 20

Whether this lack of respect for Chinese views is childish ingratitude, reliance on juche or just hardball international socialist politics is probably unknowable, but for many observers, there is a clear lack of influence on the part of China over North Korea.

 Others are not so sure that China is actually doing anything to influence North Korea. This theory is that given Chinese geopolitical situation and ingrained North Korean intransigence, there does not appear to be any room for Chin to exert influence. North Korea’s own unique approach to diplomacy makes it problematic for anyone, including their ostensibly close ally, China, from having any influence on the Hermit Kingdom. Since China is closest to the situation it recognizes its own limitations. There is a risk that by over-pressuring North Korea, China would cause a backlash of resentment and perhaps create an unpredictable and dangerous enemy on their doorstep. 21 Conversely, if China were to attempt to pressure North Korea and be simply ignored this would make China seem ineffective and week. Christopher Hill’s emphasis in the quote above about Kim’s snub of the Chinese delegation was playing on this perception. Rather than be seen as ineffective, the Chinese leadership prefers to do as little as possible while appearing engaged and concerned. Observers call this the “mini-maxi principle,” with China trying to maximize the credit they receive for the appearance of effort, while actually doing the minimum possible. 22 Doing nothing because they have no real influence is thus turned into a net plus for the Chinese.  

 For others observers, China is pursuing a realpolitik advantage against their rivals in North East Asia. Regarding the geo-political situation, China is best served by North Korea keeping the other four member of the Group of Six off balance. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Chinese leadership sees these other countries as China’s main competitors in the world. To the extent that the US, Russia, Japan and South Korea must scramble to react to the latest North Korean provocation, China reaps the benefits. It is possible that instead of China attempting to moderate the excesses of the North Korean, China is actually encouraging and exacerbating North Korean unpredictability because of the consternation and distraction it represents to China’s rivals. In the zero sum game of balance of power politics, a disadvantage to China’s rivals represents an advantage to China, an advantage that China readily seizes. Although conventional wisdom may see that China would benefit from a peace and tranquility on the Korean peninsula, China’s perception may be very different. 

 The lack of real information out of either Beijing or Pyongyang makes it possible that any or all of the dynamics outlined above are at work at any given time. There also exists the possibility that none of these scenarios represents reality since all assume a high level of shrewdness and coordination between powerful leaders on both sides that probably has not existed since the passing of Kim Il Sung and Stalin. The two countries’ close proximity and similar socialist governments had made it easy to assume there is close coordination between the two. However, North Korea, known as a “shrimp among whales,” 23 has become adept at keeping all sides off balance. It is quite difficult to ascertain how much influence is wielded by anyone and on whom.  

Notes:
1. Scobell, Andrew. China and North Korea: From Comrades-in-Arms to Allies at Arms’ Length (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute) 2004, p 28.
2. Xiao Zan, “Beijing and Pyongyang Get Closer,” Beijing Review, September 27, 2001, pp 9-10.
3. Shen Dingli, “North Korea’s Strategic Significance to China,” China Security, Autumn 2006, p 20.
4. Friedman, George. “The Geopolitics of China: A Great Power Enclosed” Stratfor Reports, 12 June 2008.
5. Lankov, Andreń≠ Nikolaevich. From Stalin to Kim Il Sung: The Formation of North Korea (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press) 2002, p 59.
6. Oberdorfer, Don. The Two Koreas (Basic Books) 2001, p 10.
7. Center for Non-proliferation Studies, “North Korea,” WMD 411, no date, at http://www.nti.org/f_WMD411/f2d1.html accessed 20 July 08.
8. Hutzler, Charles and Gordon Fairclough, “The Koreas: China Breaks With Its Wartime Past,” Far Eastern Economic Review, August 7, 2003, p. 27.
9. Oberdorfer, ibid, p. 248.
10. Ahn, Ilsup. “North Korea Human Rights Crisis and Christian Response: A Korean American Perspective” unpublished paper presented to the Samford University Christianity and Human Rights National Research Conference, 11-14 Nov 2006 at http://www.samford.edu/lillyhumanrights/papers/Ahn_North.pdf accessed 20 July 2008, pg 8.
11. Eberstat, Nicholas. “Reckless Driving” Time Magazine, M ay 5, 2003 at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,449513,00.html accessed 20 July 2008.
12. Hansard, Thomas Curson. Hansard's Parliamentary Debates (London: G Woodfall and Son) 1848, Pg 122.
13. Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. “China's National Defense in 2002,” Xinhua Net at http://news.xinhuanet.com/zhengfu/2003-02/27/content_748657.htm accessed 20 July 08.
14. Peking Review, Vol. 4, No. 28, 1961, p. 5.
15. Scobell, ibid, p. 31.
16. Zhang Aiping, Chief Compiler, Zhongguo Renmin Jiefang Jun [China’s People’s Liberation Army] Vol. 1, Contemporary China Series, Beijing: Dangdai Zhongguo Chubanshe, 1994, p. 137.
17. Friedman, ibid.
18. Scobell, ibid, p. 21.
19. Newhouse, Barry. “China's Influence Over North Korea in Question” Voice of America website 27 July 2006 at http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/china/2006/china-060727-voa01.htm accessed 20 July 2008.
20. Hill, Christopher. “Foreign Press Center Briefing” State Department East Asia Update July 21, 2006 at http://fpc.state.gov/fpc/69311.htm accessed 21 July 2008.
21. Scobell, ibid.
22. Kim, Samuel S. The Two Koreas and the Great Powers. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 2006, p 61.
23. Snyder, Scott. Negotiating on the Edge (Washington: United States Institute of Peace Press) 1999, p20.

Bibliography
Ahn, Ilsup. “North Korea Human Rights Crisis and Christian Response: A Korean 
American Perspective” unpublished paper presented to the Samford University Christianity and Human Rights National Research Conference, 11-14 Nov 2006 at http://www.samford.edu/lillyhumanrights/papers/Ahn_North.pdf accessed 20 July 2008.

Center for Non-proliferation Studies, “North Korea,” WMD 411, no date, at 
http://www.nti.org/f_WMD411/f2d1.html accessed 20 July 08.

Eberstat, Nicholas. “Reckless Driving” Time Magazine, M ay 5, 2003 at 
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,449513,00.html accessed 20 July 2008.

Friedman, George. “The Geopolitics of China: A Great Power Enclosed” Stratfor 
Reports, 12 June 2008.

Hansard, Thomas Curson. Hansard's Parliamentary Debates (London: G Woodfall and 
Son) 1848.

Hill, Christopher. “Foreign Press Center Briefing” State Department East Asia Update 
July 21, 2006 at http://fpc.state.gov/fpc/69311.htm accessed 21 July 2008.

Hutzler, Charles and Gordon Fairclough, “The Koreas: China Breaks With Its Wartime 
Past,” Far Eastern Economic Review, August 7, 2003.

Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. “China's 
National Defense in 2002,” Xinhua Net at http://news.xinhuanet.com/zhengfu/2003-02/27/content_748657.htm accessed 20 July 08.

Kim, Samuel S. “The Making of China’s Korea Policy in the Era of Reform ,” in David L. 
Lampton, ed., Chinese Foreign and Security Policy in the Reform Era (Stanford: Stanford University Press) 2001.

----- The Two Koreas and the Great Powers. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 
2006.


Lankov, Andreń≠ Nikolaevich. From Stalin to Kim Il Sung: The Formation of North Korea 
(New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press) 2002.

Newhouse, Barry. “China's Influence Over North Korea in Question” Voice of America 
website 27 July 2006 at 
http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/china/2006/china-060727-voa01.htm accessed 20 July 2008.

Oberdorfer, Don. The Two Koreas (Basic Books) 2001.

Peking Review, Vol. 4, No. 28, 1961.

Scobell, Andrew. China and North Korea: From Comrades-in-Arms to Allies at Arms’ 
Length (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute) 2004.

Snyder, Scott. Negotiating on the Edge (Washington: United States Institute of Peace 
Press) 1999.

Shen Dingli, “North Korea’s Strategic Significance to China,” China Security, Autumn 
2006.

Xiao Zan, “Beijing and Pyongyang Get Closer,” Beijing Review, September 27, 2001.

Zhang Aiping, Chief Compiler, Zhongguo Renmin Jiefang Jun [China’s People’s 
Liberation Army] Vol. 1, Contemporary China Series, Beijing: Dangdai Zhongguo Chubanshe, 1994.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Relative Costs of America's Choices in Korea

Cha and Kang identify six strategies for engaging North Korea. These six strategies include 1) robust defense and deterrence against the North, 2) trilateral coordination between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo on any action that takes place and 3) a continuation of the sunshine policy of family and cultural exchanges between the North and South. Cha and Kang also advocate 4) continuing unrestricted food aid to the North, 5) encouraging China to use their leverage on the North and 6) making it clear that retaliation for bad behavior on the part of the North Koreans would be swift. Before I can answer the question of which of these strategies would be least costly to the US, I must first compare the absolute cost of each.

For the US, participating in the robust defense against the North is just a small marginal cost on the overall defense budget. There are only approximately 30,000 troops stationed in the ROK, a significant portion of whose billeting and upkeep is paid for by South Korea. The attack aircraft and bombers that support the troops have other missions in addition to the South Korean mission and the remaining of the US Armed Forces that remain on call all have other missions as well. If Korea suddenly became a non-issue, the US would not see much savings because the cost, at the margin, for South Korean defense assistance is not that great, given the myriad of other defense responsibilities the US has in the region and around the world.

Trilateral coordination is another policy that does not cost anything at the margins. Already, the US, Korea and Japan are robust political allies and trading partners with massive positions in each other’s economies. Since there are numerous engagements on many different levels among all three countries, keeping North Korea on the agenda represents a policy of almost no recognizable cost to the United States. The benefit is quite substantial to this type of collaboration since South Korea and Japan recognize a North Korea to be a much more compelling threat that does the United States. Yet, since the US is willing to engage in and be an active part of the strategy to deal with the problems, South Korea and Japan are very grateful for the assistance. That gratitude is expressed through support of other US initiatives and requirements around the world that Japan and the ROK would not be a part of, except for their relationships with the US. For instance, both the ROK and Japan have been part of the coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan and have provided aid in reconstruction. Certainly, neither nation would have, had it not been for their relationships with the US.

The sunshine policy is another area virtually without cost to the United States. The US itself uses cultural engagement with enemies. In fact, at the time of this writing, the Iranian Olympic basketball team is traveling the US playing tune-up games against American competition prior to the Olympics. The cost to this type of engagement is negligible, and the exchanges are important to Koreans on both sides of the DMZ. How tangible the benefits are to such exchanges is difficult to ascertain, but since there is not downside, other than the potential for espionage, which exists anyway, these exchanges represent a low to no cost advantage to the US. 

Unrestricted food aid is a costly endeavor for the United States. With world population increasing and domestic US demands for bio-fuels increasing as well, the absolute value of US food stocks increases with its scarcity. The US government must pay for food that it then distributes to an enemy without requiring payment. Since North Korea is relieved of the responsibility to feed itself, it then has more resources to direct towards its nuclear and conventional forces. So, the US faces a situation in which the US taxpayer subsidizes the nuclear program of the North Koreans. This policy of food aid thus represents an enormous direct cost to the US and an even larger diplomatic and military cost since the improved North Korean forces continue to represent a threat that the US is supporting.  
 
Encouraging China also has hidden costs for the US. China is a ruthless bargainer and does not sell its supposed influence in North Korea for free. China demands concessions in other areas, like eliminating freedom of navigation transits in the Bohai Gulf, reducing engagement with Taiwan and eliminating Western criticism of Chinese atrocities inside the Middle Kingdom and in Africa. Also, the food aid that the West provides North Korea relieves China of some responsibility to feed and house economic migrants. Although encouraging China has many costs, there do not seem to be many tangible benefits from Chinese engagement with the North Koreans which suggests one of two things. Either China does not have any influence with North Korea, making any cost to the US simply not worth it at all. Or, China takes what the US and the West offers, and does not utilize the leverage it actually does have, making the US a sucker in the bargain.  

Blustering threats about retaliation directed towards North Korea have an enormous cost to the US. Idle threats discount American credibility and encourage bad behavior on the part of the North Koreans. Further, threats that are not carried out make the whole rationale for maintaining US forces on the peninsula moot. If the US is not going to use the forces arrayed there, then the cost of maintaining those forces, albeit marginal, is not worth it. Similarly, making threats that are not carried out encourages North Korea to continue pushing the frontier on what it can get away with. North Korea detonates a nuclear weapon, exports drugs to the US, and engages in massive state supported currency counterfeiting, yet the US never acts in response. The cost of idle American threats goes up as North Korea continues to engage in behaviors that should provoke a response of the US, but do not.

The most costly engagement strategy for the US is the policy of unconditional food aid to the North. The raw cost and the subsidy from the American taxpayer to the North Korea war machine make it doubly expensive. Clearly, the least costly engagement strategy for the US is the sunshine policy. People chatting, singing together and competing in tae kwon do is cost free, and has the potential, as yet unrealized, of actually bringing an end to the standoff on the peninsula.

North Korea's Early 90's Nuclear Program

North Korea’s nuclear program and the crisis that arose in the early 1990’s should be seen in the geopolitical context of the time. Many different influences were coming to bear on North Korea during this time. 1) The Soviet Union had broken apart, and the remaining states were virtually bankrupt. 2) Even prior to the breakup, Gorbachev was wooing the South Koreans in order to gain capital resources for his own economy, which proved to be an alarming development to the North Koreans. 3) China was making overtures to South Korea as well, in order to gain access to their capital and markets. 4) The US viewed the breakup of the Soviet Union and looked forward to a break in the international diplomatic tension that had existed since the beginning of the Cold War. In fact, some analysts were talking about the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, meant essentially “the end of history.” Without the
US actively engaged, there would be little reason for anyone else to pay attention to North Korea and their needs. I will examine each of these factors in turn.

 45 years of a command economy and the accelerated arms race with the US during the Reagan years essentially bankrupted the Soviets. The size of the Soviet Economy and the deprivation that they forced their people to endure did provide for some measure of capital that the Soviet Union distributed to other Communist countries and proxies around the world in an attempt to spread Communist hegemony and push back US interests. However, this policy proved unsustainable as the US economy and defense budgets continued to grow even though the US was aggressively countering the USSR around the world and continuing to upgrade its conventional and nuclear forces. Gorbachev had learned his lesson about the inability of communism to keep up with the West and attempted various political and economic reforms to stimulate the economy. However, he essentially let the “Freedom genie” out of the bottle. Soon events took a course of their own, with the former Warsaw Pact asserting their own destinies which culminated in the tearing down the Berlin Wall. As the empire of the Soviet Union, there was no longer any rationale to support client states all over the world, so these clients were cut off. North Korea clearly felt threatened by not having their long-standing ally to support them against a resurgent South Korea and the might of the US stationed literally across the DMZ.

Even prior to the formal dissolution of the Soviet empire, Gorbachev was running around the world, offering to reduce tensions in exchange for capital. South Korea proved to be an eager audience for this approach. So even prior to the formal cutting of ties with North Korea because there was no longer a geopolitical justification for the Soviets to maintain their empire, the Soviet Union had turned to the South Koreas for capital and markets. North Korea attempted to counter this diplomatically with appeals to the brotherhood of socialism but was forced to confront the fact that ideological purity could not compete with capitalism. Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il realized that North Korea could not rely on anyone else to provide their security, they would have to provide security for themselves.

China was also looking to the South Korea for money and markets and proved quite willing to throw North Korea aside to gain access to the ROK. Once again, even though the North Koreas appealed to socialist solidarity and shared enmity with South Korea and the US, the Chinese believed they needed South Korea to continue growing their economy. North Korea had their paranoid suspicions about being unable to rely on any one else for their security confirmed.
 
Victory in the Cold War lead many in the US to hope for a reduction in tensions around the world and a “peace dividend” that would allow political leaders to focus on domestic priorities. American leaders eagerly looked forward to the time when they would not have to think about and fund the responses to crises around the world. For North Korea, being ignored by the US would be s very dangerous thing. As the balance of power had shifted on the peninsula, the ROK army had developed capabilities in training and materiel that made them at least the equal of the DPRK in conventional forces. The lack of resources had caused the forces in the North to deteriorate relative to those in the South. The trends in that equation would continue to favor the South Koreans until the South had an overwhelming advantage. Given that eventuality, North Korea knew that the one safeguard they had to prevent the ROK from rushing North to finish the Korean War was the presence of the Americans. If the Americans lost interest in the Korean situation, seeing it as a vestige of a Cold War that had ended, then there was a significant chance the US would pull out. 

Such a withdrawal, blowhard KCNA pronouncements notwithstanding, would be extremely perilous for the North. Even short of an attack by the South, should the US pull out, there would be very little leverage to get the US back into negotiations for economic incentives . Given these considerations, since Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Il were not willing to capitulate or make total accommodation with the South, the only logical course of action remaining was to build a nuclear weapon. Conventional wisdom has long held that states with nuclear weapons are immune from conventional attacks and that they get attention from great powers. North Korea’s overt pursuit of a nuclear weapon and the crisis it provoked bore out this wisdom. North Korea managed to get massive infusion of aid to stave off starvation, acquired capital from the South Koreans and kept the US engaged on the peninsula. The significance of the North Korean nuclear program which it pursued out of self interest showed other countries that having nuclear weapons is the best way to prevent regime change by the West. It is apparent that Pakistan, Iran and perhaps even Syria have learned this lesson.