Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kim Jong Ill: Hopefully on Last Leg

Kim Jong Ill was recently photographed looking frail and decrepit before his nation’s legislature. Some have speculated that his recent alleged stroke has made the left side of his body paralyzed, and this picture gives credence to that theory.

(HT ROK Drop)

Friday, April 10, 2009

and now, this moron

(HT Allahpundit)

Obama and Clinton Enjoy the Playground

From Dayo Olopade at the Root.

Please Andrew, Just Stop

Andrew Sullivan just can’t let the “Bristol Palin is Tripp’s mother and not Sarah Palin” conspiracy. Writing about the recent feud between the Palin and Levi families over recent media appearances by the Levi family upon which they dished on all their tawdry private laundry, Andrew said:
“Jason Zengerle responds. To explain my own interest: yes, I suspect that, in the absence of a press corps capable of asking awkward questions and getting substantive answers, a little family tension might help unravel some of the remaining mysteries of 2008.”

Give it a rest buddy.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

North Korean Student Defectors in the South

Wide Angle on PBS has a new documentary up about Hangyeore High School, a special boarding school an hour outside of Seoul, founded in 2006 to help North Korean teens adjust to life in the South.

(HT - OneFreeKorea)

불영사 Temple

In Uljin county at the "Shadow of the Buddha" temple with some of my fellow comrades.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Rebirth for the European Left?

An interesting piece by Honor Mahony at the EU Observer, concerning the lack of political strength the Left has gained in EU politics during this economic crisis.
“The economic crisis is not expected to result in a major swing to the left in the European elections, new statistics predict, while the nature of the European Parliament is expected to be changed by an increase in eastern European politicians in the biggest political group.

Some socialists have suggested that the ongoing economic crisis, largely seen as being the result of laissez-faire right wing policies, would see them cash in at the ballot boxes in June.

However, the research suggests this will not happen due to the predicted results in the EU's six largest member states – Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Spain and Poland, accounting for 56 percent of the seats in the parliament – where the centre-left is "not expected to do well.”

In related news, the Drink Soaked Trots bring to my attention this news from Moldova.
The ruling Communist Party has won the general election in Moldova.

The party, which is led by President Vladimir Voronin, had secured 50% with almost all of the ballots counted.

Vadim Denisov seems to think that the communists winning will bring about a "Twitter Revolution." He writes:
"Ever since yesterday's announcement that Moldova's communists have won enough votes to form a government in Sunday's elections, Moldova's progressive youth took to the streets in angry protests. As behooves any political protest by young people today, they also turned to Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness about the planned protests and flashmobs. Led by youth NGOs like HydePark and ThinkMoldova, the protests began very peacefully - as a flashmob, where young people were simply supposed to hold lit candles in the vicinity of the square.

However, this morning things got out of hand - and, with or without Twitter's help, the crowd got much larger, reaching as many as 10,000 people, who first picketed Election Commission headquarters, the president’s residence (windows are reported to be broken - and there are also reports that this building has been stormed), and other government buildings before storming the building of the Moldovan Parliament, which happens to be just across the road."

Monday, April 06, 2009

Get Your Pointing Finger Ready

I have never been a fan of Andrew Sullivan, and this surely doesn’t improve my opinion of the man. Newsbusters, a conservative media watch group, has brought to my attention some of Andrew’s recent comments concerning the murder of 3 Pittsburgh police officers last weekend, putting part of the blame for the crime on moronic talk show hosts like Glenn Beck. Andrew writes:
Many of us have worried that the heated, apocalyptic rhetoric of the anti-Obama forces might spill over at some point into violence in the hands of individuals prone to lashing out. We now have what seems to be a clear instance of that and three dead police officers. One wonders whether Fox News or the Second Amendment fanatics will chill it out a little. And then one realizes who we're talking about.”
The mental imprudence of that statement says a lot about Sullivan’s reasoning process, but Andrew’s defenders can take comfort in the fact that he wasn’t as contemptible as some lefty bloggers at the Daily Kos. Dan Houle wrote and was then echoed by Markos Moulitas:
With no Veep to shoot people, folks are taking things into their own hands.”
Classy guys. From what we can gather, the gunmen who killed the Pittsburgh officers was a nutcase who believed Obama was out to ban guns, that the Jews controlled the country, and other various conspiracy theroies. And since I have no intention of defending Glenn Beck; the man is an utter buffoon. But to say that some right wing radio hosts are responsible for this murder’s actions is up there with those who believe Lovelle Mixon went on his homicidal rampage because he couldn’t find a job; or because the police in Oakland don’t have a good reputation with some of the city’s residents. Mixon was a rapist, a thug, and a murder: to blame his actions on variables faced by countless other individuals that don’t produce the same disgusting result should discredit such an asinine theory. The same is true of this nutcase in Pittsburgh.

How about the man who killed his five children in Washington this weekend, because he was apparently angry that his wife was leaving him: is it fair to say liberals and feminists who have pushed for equal rights for women in martial relationships are responsible for this man’s actions? Or can we, as a reasonable adult society, recognize that many people go through break-ups and don’t murder their children, and that giving any credence to the idea that anyone other than those directly responsible for such vile actions are to blame is wrong.

Nor am I carrying water for the Right in America: portions of the Right have shown their true paranoid colors as of late (with talk of Obama concentration camps being built and the like), but murders happen regardless of the administration in office or what is being said about said executive in the press, so let’s drop the idea that these crimes are anything but cowardly disgusting crimes committed by sick and terrible people.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t assail and address outlandish paranoia from both right and left wing pundits; lord knows I have spent a great deal of time addressing nonsensical arguments made on the right and left. But let’s also recognize that these cranks are not gods that control the minds of men.

Nor am I arguing that cultural norms and media narratives can not slowly legitimize criminals or vigilantes, and fuel their actions. History has shown that the furthering of conspiracies and justifying violence can have disastrous and bloody consequences. But as Noel Sheppard writes, “when an unstable, highly-armed, recently laid off guy who was kicked out of the marines for throwing a food tray at his drill sergeant gets into a fight with his mother and shoots three police officers, it is absolutely irresponsible for people to blame it on anyone BUT the man pulling the trigger.”

More importantly, moderate Republicans and conservatives need to put a large chasm between themselves and individuals who peddle fringe nonsense. David Horowitz has recognized the irrational obsession that has developed with some right wing figures over the Obama administration, and how it is starting to look a bit like the Bush years, where all civility and intellect were discarded by those only interested in vilifying a sitting president. He writes:
ODS [Obama Derangement Syndrome] refers to the wildly overstated views of the president as a demonic and even dictatorial figure, sometimes even as the Manchurian candidate of the Osama bin Laden crowd. The other night I hung up on a rightwing talk show I was being interviewed on when the hosts insisted on returning to Obama as a "foreign occupier." This goes to the heart of the ODS problem which is a refusal to accept that Obama won the election -- creating an exact parallel with those Democrats who refused to accept George Bush as their president and justified this by absurdly comparing him to Hitler or claiming that he deceived Democrats into voting for a war they subsequently betrayed. Obama got 63 million votes. Calling him a foreign occupier is tantamount to saying 63 million Americans are idiots and their votes mean nothing. This is not a rejection of Obama anymore than the attacks on Bush were a rejection him. They are a rejection of democracy, no conservative should be party to that.”
Well said.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Coming Asian Conflicts

It’s been generally a bit slow around here lately when it comes to original pieces. I have a great deal on my plate in my private life, and so most of my effort and writing has gone into work/school. I will look to get back into the cycle next week.

In the meantime, Michael Auslin has an excellent piece in Foreign Policy Magazine concerning the coming hegemonic rifts in Asia, a topic I write a great deal about in my academic life. He writes:
Simply put, without the Japanese strategic and political base, the United States may find itself less able to play a flexible and effective role in providing stability, public goods, and humanitarian aid in the Asia-Pacific region.

Some will welcome that development, believing that America should cede its position to Asian actors who will shape the region according to their own visions. Yet it is a leap of faith to believe that any vacuum caused by a diminished U.S. role in Asia (with or without Japanese retrenchment) will be smoothly filled. Even absent aggressive policies on the part of the region's countries, miscalculation and distrust might well lead to tragic outcomes. In that sense, Japan remains the lynchpin of the U.S. position in Asia as well as a powerful voice for democratic governance, civil rights, and peaceful national policies
I find that those who claim this financial crisis has spelled the end of American unipolarity fail to see the large gap between our nation’s wealth and ability to project power, but that does not mean that the US will be committed to its presence in Asia forever. Those who have argued that the US presence in Asia is to cause for many of its hardships will likely have their theory tested when China, Japan, and Russia all vie for top dog in the neighbourhood, and something tells me the lack of the American military in Asia will not further the cause of peace.

And now Ladies and gentlemen, Lightnin Hopkins