Archive for November 2010

GOP South Looks Sort of Like South Dakota

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:11 am
By: RadioActive Chief
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Democratic South finally falls

Once upon a time, the South was known as the “Solid South” for the Donkey Party and “yellow-dog Democrats” kept it that way. (The name came from a proudly stated determination that they would vote for a yellow dog, if it was on the Democratic ballot.)

Times have changed, and this report on the current situation shows a real similarity between what’s happening in the south and the current condition of party politics in SOUTH Dakota.

For Democrats in the South, the most ominous part of a disastrous year may not be what happened on Election Day but what has happened in the weeks since. After suffering a historic rout — in which nearly every white Deep South Democrat in the U.S. House was defeated and Republicans took over or gained seats in legislatures across the region — the party’s ranks in Dixie have thinned even further.

THe gory details of what’s happening in Dixie have some resemblance to events in SD:

In Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama, Democratic state legislators have become Republicans, concluding that there is no future in the party that once dominated the so-called Solid South.

Hmmm. Nygaard’s jump in the SD Senate comes readily to mind.

The realignment in the South has resulted in more similarity to SD – with the GOP in control of both houses of the legislatures…in many cases for the first time since the post-Civil War reconstruction ended in the 1870′s.

The losses and party switching, one former Southern Democratic governor noted, “leave us with little bench for upcoming and future elections. There’s little reason to be optimistic in my region,…We can opportunistically pick up statewides every now and then, but building a sustainable party program isn’t in the cards.

Looks like the situation of the SD Donkeys at this point. While the benefits of a vigorous “loyal opposition” certainly are worth talking about…there is no entitlement for any party to hold power, win elections, etc. At some point, a pattern of overwhelming defeat HAS to be a big clue that there is a lack of situational awareness, and that there is a major disconnect between the afflicted party and the voters.

If any party continues to advocate and stand for policies and principles that the sovereign voters decide they want no part of, then what else could be expected than a pattern of electoral defeat and political stagnation. In the here and now, as long as the Democratic Party continues, like a stubborn donkey to adhere to the failed liberal-progressive paradigm, they will continue their slide, and IMHO, will deserve nothing more.

Meanwhile, if the Republicans assume they now have a license to play “politics as usual” and turn away from principles, they can easily end up in the same political dust-bin as the Democrats. Time will tell.

Wikileaks, Persian Psychosis, and American Mullahs

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 8:00 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Bob Ellis will surely consider this post treason as well.

Among the documents in the latest Wikileaks release is this August 1979 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to the State Department. Deputy Ambassador Victor Tomseth, who was among the American hostages taken three months later, wrote home with some less than flattering observations on the Persian psyche. Tomseth remarked on the incompatibility of Ayatollah-style fundamentalism and reason:

Coupled with these psychological limitations is a general incomprehension of casuality [sic]. Islam, with its emphasis on the omnipotence of God, appears to account at least in major part for this phenomenon. Somewhat surprisingly, even those Iranians educated in the Western style and perhaps with long experience outside Iran itself frequently have difficulty grasping the inter-relationship of events. Witness A Yazdi resisting the idea that Iranian behavior has consequences on the perception of Iran in the U.S. or that this perception is somehow related to American policies regarding Iran. This same quality also helps explain Persian aversion to accepting responsibility for one’s own actions. The deus ex machina is always at work [Victor Tomseth, Deputy Ambassador to Iran, cable to U.S. State Department, 1979.08.13, as published by Wikileaks].

Hmm… fanatic faith clouding grasp of causality and consequences… why does this sound familiar?

The earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood. … I do believe God’s word is infallible, unchanging, perfect [Rep. John Shimkus, quoted in David Gibson, "Bible Protects Against Global Warming? Energy Chair Hopeful Tells Us So," Politics Daily, 2010.11.27].

That’s Republican Congressman John Shimkus from Illinois, whose Lutheran (?!?) faith apparently tells him human actions don’t have earthly consequences. We can emit all the greenhouse gases we want without destroying the world. By the same logic, we could stop using crop rotation and no-till farming, or unleash biological weapons, or just throw a global thermonuclear war and not see crops fail or the world end.

Congressman Shimkus also wants to be chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Expect policy based on rejection of the conservation of matter and energy.

Folks who fret that President Obama is related to Muslims are missing the point. Considering what Ambassador Tomseth said about our Iranian friends, it’s the fundagelical Republicans who act more like the mullahs.

Bonus Causality Quiz: To restore your ability to recognize cause and effect, connect these dots.

…Shimkus and the Bible-believing skeptics of climate change have powerful allies in the emergent Tea Party movement, which in turn has extensive support for the oil and coal industry [Gibson, 2010].

Incompetence, National Security, & Whether HIGs Have Wings

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 12:38 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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maxwell smartThe Administration’s deft handling of the Wikileaks boondoggle reminds me of HIG.  You remember, the High Priority Interrogation Group that the Administration decided, last year, would replace Bush’s interrogation apparatus?  HIG is supposed to be an elite team prepared to question “high priority” suspects and detainees whose information may be critical to stopping the next terrorist attack.  Suppose you capture a member of a terrorist cell who knows where the anthrax bomb is hidden.  Bring in the A Team.

After the Christmas Day Bomber failed to light up a Northwest Airlines Flight, it turned out that HIG wasn’t quite shovel ready.  From CBS last May:

The White House was furious when it found the HIG had not been officially formed in time to question Christmas Day bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab despite a direct order from the president last fall, according to one current and one former senior counterterrorist official. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to speak to the news media.

HIG sounds like the kind of thing we might need.  We didn’t have it when we needed it last Yuletide.  Do we have it yet?  CBS has more:

The unit as it exists now is run by the FBI and headed by an FBI employee with two deputies – one from the CIA and one from the Defense Department, the officials said. Its three regional teams – their locations have not been disclosed – will be staffed by a full-time team of experts, including everything from linguists to terrorist analysts to professional interrogators.

Notice the future tense: “Its three regional teams will be staffed by a full-time team of experts.”  I take it that, as of May of this year, a year after the Administration decided to form the team and five months after the team forfeited the Christmas Day bombing try out, HIG still wasn’t staffed.  The locations of the regional teams are “undisclosed,” I suspect, for the simple reason that it is difficult to locate something that doesn’t exist.  So far as one can tell from the article, there are as many agents in HIG as there are letters in the acronym.

Should these permanent teams ever be staffed, what would the staff be expected to do?

The permanent teams will be supplemented by other government specialists, depending on the suspect. The teams’ duties include everything from questioning suspects to researching the best ways to get the most information out of them.

The HIG’s mobile teams also won’t necessarily be the first investigators on the scene, the officials say. Inside the U.S., it might be the FBI or an existing Joint Terrorism Task Force unit that responds first. The HIG’s teams would then be deployed on a case-by-case basis to supplement those efforts stateside or overseas at military bases or foreign detention centers if the suspect is held by a willing U.S. ally.

Senior administration officials say while the HIG’s teams were not designed to gather evidence for prosecution, they’ll work to preserve evidence that might be needed in court.

Did you get all that?  HIG will question suspects and research the best ways to get information out of suspects.  Hey, they can kill two birds with one water board by doing both at the same time!  If he sings, Joey, write it down.

But they won’t be the first investigators on the scene.  They’ll “supplement the FBI or an existing Joint Terrorism Task Force,” and “be supplemented by other government specialists.”  They’re a kind of bureaucratic interrogation sandwich!  I am not sure if exposing a terrorist suspect to all these layers of bureaucracy doesn’t count as torture.  But at least the FBI really exists.  Doesn’t it?

The HIG teams “aren’t designed to gather evidence for prosecution, but they will work to preserve evidence.”  So while they are waiting to supplement and be supplemented by all these other diligent public servants, at least they can pull on some plastic gloves and put cigarette butts into test tubes.

There are two possible interpretations of this story.  One is the Administration concluded that the HIG was a bad idea and decided that relying on existing agencies was the best thing.  They just didn’t have the honesty or courage to admit it.  The other is that these people couldn’t find their own ass if both hands were duct taped to it.  I wish I knew which it was.

Escape Socialism: Come to South Dakota!

Posted: Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:17 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Ah, so that’s why Sarah Palin left Alaska: she was fleeing socialism!

Mr. Gibilisco points me toward a fun little MSNBC article that calculates the most socialist states in America. There’s no squawking about smoking bans or climate change legislation or other misapplications of the S-word. Greg Bocquet of MainStreet.com works from the “from the core definition of socialism as a form of government in which the state owns the means of production and allocates resources to its citizens at its discretion.”

Bocquet thus divides state expenditures by state GDP and ranks the states by that percentage high to low. His top five: West Virginia, Alaska, Alabama, Vermont, New Mexico.

Surely we all want to know how South Dakota ranks, but the article doesn’t provide a full spreadsheet. I thus go hunting for my own table. USGovernmentSpending.com comes to my aid, providing an even better dataset: combined state and local government spending. The results: South Dakota state and local government spending in Fiscal Year 2009 was $6.1 billion, 15.9% of our $38.3 billion GDP. We’re not quite one-sixth socialist… which ranks us 49th nationwide! Only Delaware is less socialist than we are!

State State & Local Spending (billions) State GDP (billions) Govt/GSP “Socialism” Rank
Alabama $40.60 $169.90 23.9% 9
Alaska $14.30 $45.70 31.3% 1
Arizona $58.40 $256.40 22.8% 17
Arkansas $21.30 $101.80 20.9% 29
California $437.10 $1,891.40 23.1% 15
Colorado $44.70 $252.70 17.7% 46
Connecticut $37.10 $227.40 16.3% 48
Delaware $9.50 $60.60 15.7% 50
DC $14.90 $99.10 15.0% 51
Florida $168.60 $737.00 22.9% 16
Georgia $82.90 $395.20 21.0% 28
Hawaii $14.40 $66.40 21.7% 23
Idaho $11.70 $54.00 21.7% 24
Illinois $123.30 $630.40 19.6% 38
Indiana $52.10 $262.60 19.8% 35
Iowa $27.40 $142.30 19.3% 39
Kansas $26.00 $124.90 20.8% 30
Kentucky $37.20 $156.60 23.8% 10
Louisiana $51.40 $208.40 24.7% 7
Maine $11.50 $51.30 22.4% 18
Maryland $55.00 $286.80 19.2% 40
Massachusetts $71.50 $365.20 19.6% 36
Michigan $87.00 $368.40 23.6% 11
Minnesota $54.80 $260.70 21.0% 26
Mississippi $25.60 $95.90 26.7% 4
Missouri $48.40 $239.80 20.2% 33
Montana $8.80 $36.00 24.4% 8
Nebraska $20.00 $86.40 23.1% 14
Nevada $23.10 $126.50 18.3% 43
New Hampshire $10.60 $59.40 17.8% 45
New Jersey $96.60 $483.00 20.0% 34
New Mexico $20.50 $74.80 27.4% 2
New York $277.30 $1,093.20 25.4% 5
North Carolina $77.90 $398.00 19.6% 37
North Dakota $6.00 $31.90 18.8% 41
Ohio $105.60 $471.30 22.4% 19
Oklahoma $28.80 $153.80 18.7% 42
Oregon $37.10 $165.60 22.4% 20
Pennsylvania $114.70 $554.80 20.7% 31
Rhode Island $11.10 $47.80 23.2% 13
South Carolina $43.10 $159.60 27.0% 3
South Dakota $6.10 $38.30 15.9% 49
Tennessee $50.10 $244.50 20.5% 32
Texas $208.00 $1,144.70 18.2% 44
Utah $24.70 $112.90 21.9% 22
Vermont $6.30 $25.40 24.8% 6
Virginia $67.80 $408.40 16.6% 47
Washington $71.10 $338.30 21.0% 27
West Virginia $14.80 $63.30 23.4% 12
Wisconsin $52.10 $244.40 21.3% 25
Wyoming $8.40 $37.50 22.4% 21

Note that when we include local spending, Alaska takes first place for socialism. They can’t just see Russia from their front porches; they live Russia, spending nearly twice as much of their state wealth as South Dakota does on state and local government.

Secondhand Smoke Kills 600K/Year

Posted: Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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In the debate over South Dakota’s new smoking ban, I’ve occasionally run across some dedicated pro-tobacco trolls who throw out pre-fab arguments claiming there’s no evidence that secondhand smoke causes significant health harms.

Does 600,000 deaths a year sound significant to you?

Last Friday, British medical journal The Lancet published a study that finds 600,000 people worldwide died from disease attributable to secondhand smoke. The findings:

Worldwide, 40% of children, 33% of male non-smokers, and 35% of female non-smokers were exposed to second-hand smoke in 2004. This exposure was estimated to have caused 379 000 deaths from ischaemic heart disease, 165 000 from lower respiratory infections, 36 900 from asthma, and 21 400 from lung cancer. 603 000 deaths were attributable to second-hand smoke in 2004, which was about 1·0% of worldwide mortality. 47% of deaths from second-hand smoke occurred in women, 28% in children, and 26% in men. DALYs [disability-adjusted life-years) lost because of exposure to second-hand smoke amounted to 10·9 million, which was about 0·7% of total worldwide burden of diseases in DALYs in 2004. 61% of DALYs were in children. The largest disease burdens were from lower respiratory infections in children younger than 5 years (5 939 000), ischaemic heart disease in adults (2 836 000), and asthma in adults (1 246 000) and children (651 000).

[Öberg, M., Jaakkola, M. S., Woodward, A., Peruga, A., & Prüss-Ustün, A., "Worldwide burden of disease from exposure to second-hand smoke: a retrospective analysis of data from 192 countries, The Lancet, 2010.11.26]

That data is pretty plain. Indoor smoking killed more people in 2004 than did al-Qaeda. Cigarette smoke is a deadly indoor pollutant. We can drastically reduce if not eliminate these 600,000 deaths with simple, common-sense rules that say, “You can’t emit that pollutant in a confined space.” We can save those lives without big military spending, fancy technology, or humiliating and unconstitutional patdowns at the airport.

Secondhand smoke was responsible for 1 in 100 deaths worldwide in 2004. Add those deaths to the 5.1 million annual deaths from direct smoking, and you get a clear picture of tobacco as a serious threat to mankind’s health and welfare.

South Dakota perspective: run a straight ratio of deaths to population from the Lancet study, and you get about 70 deaths a year in our fair state from secondhand smoke. There are still some idiot parents out there smoking in their cars and homes with their kids present, but our new smoking ban in bars and restaurants should save at least some of those unlucky 70 from an early tobacco-induced death.

Don Rose and the other bar owners who tried stopping the smoking ban argued that the ban was really about freedom. They’re right: banning indoor smoking is about freedom, the first freedom listed by our Founding Fathers: life.

The Illusion that Climate Change Policy is about the Environment

Posted: Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 12:14 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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Magic_Is_MightMaybe he thought that he could get away with it because he said it in German.  Ottmar Edenhofer is, according to Powerline,

the deputy director and chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the joint chair of the IPCC’s [International Panel for Climate Change] Working Group 3, and will co-chair the Working Group “Mitigation of Climate Change” at the upcoming summit in Cancun.

Here is a portion of an interview with Edenhofer in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14 November 2010.  The translation is from The Global Warming Policy Foundation.  The latter is clearly hostile to the global warming movement, but using my meager German and Google translator, it looks to be correct.  Bold face type is the interviewer.

The new thing about your proposal for a Global Deal is the stress on the importance of development policy for climate policy. Until now, many think of aid when they hear development policies.

That will change immediately if global emission rights are distributed. If this happens, on a per capita basis, then Africa will be the big winner, and huge amounts of money will flow there. This will have enormous implications for development policy. And it will raise the question if these countries can deal responsibly with so much money at all.

That does not sound anymore like the climate policy that we know.

Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War. Why? Because we have 11,000 gigatons of carbon in the coal reserves in the soil under our feet – and we must emit only 400 gigatons in the atmosphere if we want to keep the 2-degree target. 11 000 to 400 – there is no getting around the fact that most of the fossil reserves must remain in the soil.

De facto, this means an expropriation of the countries with natural resources. This leads to a very different development from that which has been triggered by development policy.

First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.

Wow.  This is, of course, what libertarians and conservatives have always suspected about the climate change movement: that it’s really about putting the economies of the developed world under the control of a handful of bureaucrats standing at a great remove from ordinary voters and not much at all about the environment.

Still, it’s one thing to recognize that, and another thing for an IPCC official to actually come out and call internationale Klimapolitik what it really ist.

The international movement to purge the climate of democratic emissions seems to have hit a snag in the U.S. with recent elections.  Again from Powerline:

Last year’s [Climate Change] conference in Copenhagen occurred to much fanfare. President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Speaker Pelosi all attended. This year, they all apparently will be absent. The U.S. delegation will be led by a state department official named Todd Stern.

Mr. Stern’s presence in Cancun will suggest to the Klimacrats how things ist in the U.S.

SD Women Use Web to Share Breast Milk

Posted: Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 8:24 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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The dairy industry probably frowns on this: a friend recently sent me a link to the South Dakota chapter of a relatively new organization, Eats on Feets. The group started just last summer in Arizona to facilitate the sharing of human breast milk. Eats on Feets does not collect or sell breast milk; they simply provide a forum where moms can make connections and arrange their own deals to share the best food for babies.

Eats for Feets also provides all sorts of information on a topic that makes some people unreasonably queasy. Today’s fun facts:

  1. If you bottle breast milk, don’t shake it! If you do, you’ll mess up the molecules. Really!
  2. There is no documented case of HIV transmission from a single shot of breast milk. Chemicals in breast milk work with time and cold to destroy HIV in expressed breast milk. But if you’re sharing breast milk, you should still ask suppliers about their health background.
  3. Various studies find that if we humans behaved more like our primate relatives, we would wean our offspring from breast milk at age 5 or later.

The Eats for Feets SD page links to ladies offering milk in Vermillion, Sioux Falls, and the Black Hills. Remember, moms, that milk has good bacteria eager to colonize your babies’ tummies and keep them healthy!

But be careful, ladies: the dairy industry hates competition.

Who the Hell Do You Think You People Are?

Posted: Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 12:41 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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Nigel Farage is leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party and a Member of the European Parliament from South East England.  In the clip below he addresses his fellow Eurocrats and demolishes their bloated pretensions so thoroughly that you could bury what’s left of them in a hollowed out pepper corn.

Nigel Farage Speech

That, gentle readers, is political rhetoric.  Allow me to highlight the two themes of this brief, brilliant, and utterly unmerciful statement of the obvious truth.  Powerline, where I first saw the clip, has a transcript.

We had the Greek tragedy earlier on this year, and now we have the situation in Ireland. Now I know that the stupidity and greed of Irish politicians has a lot to do with this: they should never, ever have joined the euro. They suffered with low interest rates, a false boom and a massive bust.

But look at your response to them: what they are being told as their government is collapsing is that it would be inappropriate for them to have a general election. In fact [EU Economic and Monetary Affairs] Commissioner [Olli] Rehn here said they had to agree to their budget first before they are allowed to have a general election.

Just who the hell do you think you people are?

That is the first thing.  The grand project of European unification has been, from the start, anti-Democratic.  This was partly so of necessity.  The European Union is composed of a number of nations with very different national cultures.  The cultural differences are linguistic, historical, demographic, political, and, last but not least, economic.  There is no way you can unify such a gaggle of cultures except by imposing a heavy hand from above.

But the European Union is also anti-Democratic due to the political culture of the Eurocrats, who are quite sure that they know better what is good for the peoples of Europe than the peoples do.  They were quite happy to circumvent democracy in the process of ratifying the European Constitution Treaty (which failed) and the Lisbon Treaty (which passed).  Now they are prepared to tell the Irish when they can hold a general election for their own damn government.  Just who the hell do you think you people are?

Farage’s second point is that the Eurocrats care a lot more about a cherished a sacred dream than they care about actual people.

You are very, very dangerous people indeed: your obsession with creating this euro state means that you are happy to destroy democracy, you appear to be happy with millions and millions of people to be unemployed and to be poor.

Creating a free trade zone in Europe was always a good and manageable idea.  The United States managed it more than two hundred years ago.  Creating a European government and monetary union was something else.  It was never clear what benefits it would bring to the peoples of Europe beyond a quixotic ambition of returning Europe to superpower status.  I think that the Eurocrats have long forgotten why they set out on this path.  They have continued on it for the simple reason that they became more powerful as it progressed.  Farage may be right that they game is now up.

Untold millions must suffer so that your euro dream can continue. Well it won’t work, because it’s Portugal next. With their debt levels of 325 percent of GDP they are the next ones on the list, and after that I suspect it will be Spain, and the bailout for Spain would be 7 times the size of Ireland, and at that moment all the bailout money has gone – there won’t be any more.

But it’s even more serious than economics, because if you rob people of their identity, if you rob them of their democracy, then all they are left with is nationalism and violence. I can only hope and pray that the euro project is destroyed by the markets before that really happens.

That first paragraph is, paradoxically, hopeful.  European monetary union is headed toward collapse.  So far, only the economic power of Germany has sustained it, and German charity is not without its limits.  If and when German voters overrule the ambitions of their Eurocrat elites, the electorate in other European countries will jump ship.  Farage sees this salvation, and he may be right.

That’s because his second paragraph above is terrifying.  As Europe is divided by people’s speaking different tongues, so each European nation is divided by ethnicity, ideology and class.  There are only two ways to manage these tensions.  One is by authoritarian power imposed from above.  The other is democracy.  All the factions compete for a share of the powers of government.  What happens if you take away democracy at the national level?  Farage thinks that all that is left is nationalism and violence.  He may well be right.

To answer MEP Farage’s question, we know who the Hell these people think they are.  The problem is, they never thought things through and stopped thinking at all a long time ago.

The North and South Korea equation

Posted: Friday, November 26, 2010 at 10:26 am
By: David Newquist
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North Korea makes the rest of the world sit up and take notice of it through a bellicose intractability and a violent belligerence that is beyond any effort to reason. It is the national version of the guy who is so threatening and violent that restraining orders are issued on him, but everyone knows that restraining orders do nothing to control a nitwit bent on mayhem and murder.  North Korea has a protective buddy in China, and China is kind of blackmailed by North Korea in that a collapse of a North Korean regime would result in hordes of North Koreans surging over the border into China looking for help and survival.  Bent on becoming a major economic player in the world, China fears anything that might hinder its economic development.

The recent shelling of the South Korean-held island off the Korean coast poses the problem.  South Korea has been trying for fifty years to create a situation where families split by the divide of the two Koreas can be reunited.  It also realizes that a decisive retaliation by the Republic of Korea might lead to the defeat of North Korea, but not before South Korea, and most likely Japan, are devastated in the process.  The Korea situation is a cold war circumstance with South Korea not having the bargaining chip of nuclear weapons, while North Korea has been rushing into the development of nuclear capabilities.  And this leaves the U.S., which is committed to the defense of South Korea by treaty, hanging on tenterhooks.

The restrained action by South Korea to the shelling incident has already forced the resignation of the defense minister because he did not take decisive action.  The South Koreans did return fire, but there is no appraisal of what retaliatory effect, if any, the return fire had.  The shelling  and killing of South Korean troops and civilians in the ordinary strategies of war would have resulted in a retaliatory strike that cost North Korea heavily.  In this case, we have just learned from a U.S. scientist that North Korea has a battery of centrifuges at work refining uranium, which gives it the capability of producing nuclear bombs.  The ideal counter-strike would have been to target that facility and other known nuclear sites with a missile blitz.  The problem is that South Korea does not have that capability.  The U.S. does.

There is no doubt that some of the missiles based in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana have those North Korean sites programmed into their guidance computers.  They also have key targets in Iran identified.  And there are other U.S. units stationed throughout the world, both nuclear and non-nuclear, that could reduce the nuclear facilities to rubble.  But such action taken by the U.S. puts the country at war and, as Colin Powell’s pottery barn rule applies, it gives us ownership of such a war.  And after Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, most of us realize that such wars are not  winnable in the sense that World War II was winnable.  And furthermore, such action would most likely open up hostilities with China, who literally owns the U.S. right now.

Over the years, the U.S. has proposed and discussed setting up missile defense systems with Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea that would provide them with defense against attack as well as retaliatory capability.  South Korea has declined to participate in a Theatre Missile Defense system which would give it and its regional allies the power and capability to deal with the likes of North Korea.

Part of what most people in the U.S. do not grasp is that small nations such as North and South Korea want national autonomy.  We see that assertion in the belligerent acts of North Korea, but we do not often see that it is also operative in South Korea.  South Korea has persistently turned down offers to engage in a missile defense program, and has in fact attempt to develop an indigenous missile system.  At times it has explored buying its own system, considering competing bids from the U.S. and Russia.

While we in the U.S. may regard North Korea as a swaggering little bully who we can one-punch, South Korea has considerations regarding its relationships within its region and its cultural interests that have kept it from assuming more aggressive and effective means of defense within its own control.  If North Korea decides to go on the full offensive, the U.S.will have to take the action.

That means that we will own one more war.  And the U.S. has not had the courage to face up to what our wars are doing to our economy and our morale.  It is easier to blame Obama for all the problems.  And if things work out, we can own another war.

Read more on what binds China and North Korea together at the Washington Post.

Giving Thanks

Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 1:41 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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thanksgiving peanutsThanksgiving is a good day to reflect on our blessings.  I will take the occasion.

I am very thankful that I was born.  I did nothing to deserve it.  I am thankful for my parents, my grandparents and great grandparents going all the way back to the beginnings of life on this world.  I am grateful for my mother whose smile drew me up out of nothing.  I am grateful for my father, whose presence I now have to do without, but whose love I will never have to do without.  I am grateful for my brother, whose big heart and pernicious sense of humor explain why God bothered to create humankind.

I am thankful that my wife and my children were born.  I am thankful that, so far, nothing really bad has happened to me or, what would be the same thing, to them.  I am grateful for every moment that any one of them is present before me or in my thoughts.  I am grateful for the opportunity to love them and for the sometimes astonishing fact that they love me back.  Whatever good I may have done in this world, it has not been nearly enough to earn such treasures.

I am thankful for friends that somehow tolerate me.  I am especially grateful for my best friend Kenny Shelton who has been giving me grief for more than thirty years.  I am grateful for my dog.

I am thankful that I get paid to talk to wonderful people about fascinating things.  I am thankful for my students, especially Miranda, who repay me with more questions than I can answer and more challenges than I can meet.  I am thankful that they do not just write down and accept what I say, but get all cheeky when something I say doesn’t seem quite right.

I am thankful that the world is ceaselessly entertaining both on its surfaces and down to its very depths.  I am thankful that I have the meager ability to appreciate how interesting everything is.  I am grateful for St. Paul, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Darwin, Miles Davis, and baseball.

I am thankful that I was born in a Republic.  I am thankful that I enjoy the liberty to say and write what I think, without fear.  I am thankful for the fact that I do not believe easily but that no belief I may hold can ever be illegal.  I am thankful for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.

I am thankful that the tribes into which I and my fellow citizens divide ourselves solve our differences with bellicose speeches and ballots cast, instead of iron and blood.  Having seen the beginning of Private Ryan, I am grateful that I was born in the right half of the twentieth century.

I am thankful for my laptop, this blog, and all the people who have seen fit to read it or comment on it.  I am thankful for my friends and foes on the blogosphere, and for those who are both.  I am thankful for my friend Ken Laster whose jazz podcast is one of the joys of my life, and for my own jazz radio show.  I am thankful for my cast iron smoker and for the fact that God made pigs with ribs.   I am thankful for beer.

That is no complete list of my blessings.  These are some of the highlights.  God bless everyone and all of you, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.