Friday, September 29, 2006

Political Gotcha Runs Both Ways

Hillary Clinton:

"I'm certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled 'Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States' he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team."

My reaction to the title of that memo was a big yawn. Of COURSE he was planning attacks. He had openly declared it on previous occasions. It was no surprise. To pretend that the title of this memo should have set off alarm bells is silly and disingenuous.

To add fuel to the fire, James Taranto reports that

...the 9/11 commission reported that on Dec. 4, 1998, President Clinton received a Presidential Daily Briefing titled "Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Ultimate Renewal Resource

Children's energy!

This is an awesome idea. They hook a children's merry-go-round toy to a water well system, and the energy from that pumps the water out of the ground. It's wonderful for developing countries because it provides a safe place to play and (presumably) safe water to drink. And the moms don't have to use their precious energy to get it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bill Clinton Defends His Record on Fighting Terror

This video clip on YouTube taken from Fox News Sunday is Bill Clinton defending his record on fighting bin Laden and terrorism. For all the beating Clinton takes from the right-wing talk shows, it is useful to hear Clinton's side of the story. We've hammered Clinton for not taking certain actions. Clinton asserts that he wanted to take some of those actions but was unable to do them because he didn't have the support he needed to pull it off.

So many times issues are oversimplified to make people look like white hats or black hats. Just because I may think Bill Clinton has done some sleezy things, it doesn't mean he doesn't genuinely care about the safety of the people of this country. Just because I don't like things Clinton has done doesn't mean he wears a black hat.

Byron York has a well reasoned rebuttal to some of Clinton's arguments.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Orwell's Korea

While working late one evening, I flipped on the television as I was doing some manual labor. The show playing was a documentary "Welcome to North Korea." I was only half paying attention as I moved computer equipment and cables around the room. But the more I heard and the more I watched, the less important my labor became and the more I was pulled into the documentary.

What I saw, if accurate, was grotesque and scary. There is no other place I know of that so closely parallels George Orwell's world of "1984." We saw tourist attractions with no tourists; only tour guides pre-approved by the government that give tours filled with honorific references to the late leader Kim Il Sung. Streets are devoid of old or handicapped people; they have been sent to outlying areas to live. War museums explain the atrocities of the Americans during the Korean war and we feel the genuine hate for America that still boils in the blood of the military men that were interviewed on camera.

We heard from a North Korean defector who now lives in South Korea. He used to be a "reporter" in the propoganda department. He told of the time he was sent to report on a story where thousands of birds had spontaneously gathered to "bow their heads to Kim Il Sung." When he arrived, he was greeted by party officials who explained that the birds had just left but that it had been an amazing sight. The reporter later asked a farmer if he had noticed anything out of the ordinary. No, was the reply. I assume he returned home and wrote up the story about the birds and their honor for the Beloved Leader.

We heard about the attempts by North Korean officials to create a mythology about Kim Jong Il, the current leader of North Korea and son of Kim Il Sung. For example, the story was told that Kim Il Sung was born in a mountain cottage. Soldiers nearby felt that something very special was occuring and carved an inscription in a tree to commemorate the event. The site became a tourist attraction where Koreans could come learn to adore their new leader. One day, a Japanese botanist was touring the site. Upon hearing the story of the carving in the tree, he noted that the story was impossible given that the tree didn't exist when Kim Il Sung was born. The tree was cut down and the site was closed.

The video footage we saw of the people in genuine anguish at the death of Kim Il Sung was painful to watch. If only these people understood the pain he had caused for them!

North Korea is a sad commentary on socialism and communism. The desire to make everyone equal, while seemingly noble, has worked to grind the faces of this people into the ground. What is astonishing is that they don't recognize it but instead venerate the very villians that have crushed them. This people, stripped of ambition, have submitted to a monstrous regime. I pray for their eventual deliverance.

One thing that was never mentioned in the documentary, but everywhere visible, was the beautiful Korean culture. The dances were intricate and beautiful. The North Korean people are a beautiful and worthwhile folk. They deserve better than the devastation that is being heaped upon them.

Here is another review of the film. I can't find a place to purchase it online, so you may have to wait until it is shown on public television again if you want to see it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

More on the Electoral College

Keryn wrote recently about the Electoral College. She read me another piece that is also worth linking to on the subject. This was was from Pete du Pont on Opinion Journal.

Du Pont points out that direct election of presidents would probably lead to candidates focusing only on large cities and the issues important to city dwellers. This would strike at the heart of the compromise forged by the Founders that led to the bicameral legislature. Small states and large states get equal representation in the Senate while representation in the house is aportioned by population.

The other convincing argument from du Pont's piece was the probability of weaker presidents elected by a smaller percentage of the population. Without an electoral college with a winner-take-all system, you'd have more candidates running for a slice of the pie. There is no such thing as a run-off election (which would require a change in the constitution), so a candidate could become president by only winning 15% of the vote in a crowded field of hopefuls. Such a president would lack a mandate that comes from majority votes.

(Incidentally, I tend to favor a proportional allocation of electors as mentioned by gsbbyu in this comment.)

Reach Upward said it well in his recent comment, "Our Founders constantly turn out to have done a pretty fine job." Amen.