Archives for March 2013

The North Korean Appeasement Routine May Not Work This Time

Many believe that the recent troublemaking by North Korea is a repeat of that country’s tried-and-true pattern of threats and military muscle-flexing followed by appeasement in the form of food and energy aid by the free world.

This time, however, there’s a key difference: North Korea has a new leader. He’s young and inexperienced, and probably hotheaded and cocky, without the learning that comes with years of governing. And there’s probably no elder around to give him wise counsel, because in North Korea all power is in the single leader. It is presumed by North Koreans that he is all-knowing, and there’s likely no one whose rank and status are close enough to his to be in a position to give him that counseling. Perhaps if a cooler head tried that, he’d be purged or shot.

Now we, and especially South Korea, should start to worry. North Korea announced that it’s tearing up the armistice between it and South Korea. It’s done that before, but not with a brand new inexperienced leader. Last Saturday it announced it had formally entered a “state of war” with South Korea, and that and “all matters between the two Koreas will be handled according to wartime protocol.”

That was talk, but now there’s action. There are reports of a big jump in activity at North Korean missile sites.

This is serious. A wrong move by either side could turn into a hot war. The way Kim Jong Un has been acting, that even may be what he wants. After all, a long-held goal of the North is reunification with the South. Under Communist rule.

Given that there’s probably no one within the North Korean government with the rank or stature to counsel Kim Jong Un with the right advice, China needs to send emissaries there to do so. And/or Russia. And if the Obama administration isn’t already urging China and Russia to use their clout with the North Korean leader to help defuse this situation, then it most certainly should start doing so.

Obama’s Selective Speech Police

Where’s the Obama speech police?

Saturday Night Live recently featured a skit that mocked Jesus, depicting Jesus slaying with a sword Roman soldiers. “He’s risen from the dead,” said the narrator, “and he’s preaching anything but forgiveness.” Apparently it caused enough of a hoopla to prompt Sears and JC Penney to pull their advertising from the show.

Last year the Obama administration strongly supported a U.N. Human Rights resolution (# 16/18)  that  “deplores” and “condemns” advocacy of “religious hatred”.

At a U.N. “High-Level Meeting on Combating Religious Intolerance” last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration would use “some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming” against those who do “what we abhor.”

So did the Obama administration use old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming against Saturday Night Live? Did it bring peer pressure or shame upon artist Andres Serrano or those who exhibited his “Piss Christ” in New York City last fall?

No, but it certainly did against the filmmaker of “Innocence of Muslims” – the amateurish YouTube video that the administration erroneously claimed sparked the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which three Americans including the ambassador died. The filmmaker was sentenced to a year in jail. To be sure, the charges didn’t pertain to the content of the film, but it’s doubtful  he would have been arrested if not for the film.

In other words, such shame and peer pressure is only reserved for those who criticize Islam.

This is certainly not to suggest that the Obama administration should go after those who mock or criticize Christianity. Instead, it should refrain from condemning the mocking of any religion, be it Christianity or Islam – because apart from implicit restrictions on freedom of speech, it could lead to explicit ones. Condemnation should come from those outside of government.

So here we have a situation where the U.S. government vows to speak out against the mocking of Islam, yet provided funds and sponsorship for the mocking of Christianity (when the National Endowment of the Arts sponsored the “Piss Christ” exhibition).

When it comes to matters involving religion, the Obama administration is not an equal-opportunity shamer.

Adding a Log to the Distrust of the Media Fire

Overwhelming majorities of Americans say they don’t trust the media because of instances like this:

In covering remarks by President Obama, NPR reporter Ari Shapiro commented, “The American people agree with the president’s solution to the problem, combining spending cuts with tax revenues. Even a majority of Republican voters support that approach.”

That statement is suspect. It appears to be based on old polls taken prior to the Jan. 1 tax hike. I did a Google search for polls taken within the last month regarding support for further tax increases, and came up dry.

Moreover, you’ve probably noticed that any commentary that NPR adds to news stories, such as in this instance, is leftward biased. They want to try to make the listener think that the tax increases are right because that’s what “the American people” supposedly want.

Prior to conducting open heart surgery, does a heart surgeon take a poll to find out what the American people think is the best way to conduct the operation? Prior to building a bridge, does a bridge engineer take a poll to find out what the American people think is the best method to construct it? Prior to designing a new piece of software, does a computer programmer take a poll to find out what the American people think is the best software code to use?

So if the American people as a whole aren’t qualified to offer advice on the nitty-gritty of surgery, engineering, or computer programming, what makes NPR think that the American people are qualified to offer advice on the nitty-gritty of economics? Raising taxes is an intensely economic undertaking, with economists going to years of schooling in order to best analyze what effects raising taxes will have on the economy and society.

Moreover, of course a majority of the American people would like to sock it to the rich. Such a thought is emotionally satisfying to most people. Shadenfreude, particularly directed at the rich, is a common human trait. But economic policy should not be based on emotion, especially based on the emotions of a majority of the American people. In other words, NPR’s commentary that it snuck into its news story is not only suspect in terms of its accuracy, but it’s also absurd.