November 24th, 2010

Godzilla, default

More from the Korean Peninsula:

The United States and South Korea evidently plan as scheduled to hold their war games despite North Korea attacking civilians.

South Korea's leader's called for massive retaliation against North Korea.

In my opinion these are good things, but double-edged swords. North Korea's dictatorship is the most triumphant example of brinksmanship and kleptocracy of the present day. They are thus for a damned good reason, a lot of people are starving there and even the most monstrous and repressive society can only remain such for a time before the bottom falls out.

I see nothing at all good coming of an actual war here. This is a case where reg'lar ol' artillery is a lot more dangerous than nuclear weapons. There is literally nothing the United States can do at this point to prevent the outright destruction of Seoul, and the destruction of of one of the top 10 global financial centers will plunge the world into a second recession that made the first one look like a pipsqueak. In my opinion this is yet another game of chicken where North Korea is simultaneously seeking for more aid via its usual blackmail system as it navigates a transition to yet another member of the Kim Dynasty. The DMZ was already two guys facing each other at point-blank range with flamethrowers. Now we're talking the same situation in a room soaked in fine dust.

In my opinion also the most dangerous moment for any authoritarian society and moreso for its neighbors is a succession. For North Korea it's infinitely moreso, it's the only contemporary society where the head of state is a dead man (insert Zombie Reagan jokes here). North Korea is also a poor state which is armed to the teeth surrounded by a bigger neighbor that never really had much love for it and props it up solely to delay a catastrophe bound to happen as it is, and on the other side it's surrounded by a rival Korean state and Japan.

The regime in part brings its siege mentality on itself and in part it does have a reason to fear the PRC and ROK (again by this point most of that was self-inflicted, as their invasion virtually wrecked South Korea far more so than applied to the North). But a society in a state of siege is the most dangerous society because to those, any atrocity can be deemed excusable in pursuit of basic security and protection of itself. Which of course is where the problem comes in, because there passes a point where those societies feel any concession on their part makes them weak and their neighbors are no longer able to concede anything either.

If Kim Jong Un takes over without any major war breaking out things will be the usual nightmare for a while longer. Until or unless the man's secure in power the perpetual potential flashpoint in Korea will remain something to watch closely, as the consequences just like in 1950 will not be limited to the Koreans alone (and even if they were they would still be evil).
Si se puede

The Wealth of the Nation

A member of this community made a reading recommendation for a thin tome on plutocrats. I looked in vain for the text at our local public library, so I went to the regional library system to find that only two copies of the book were available. The request was satisfied by a suburban Catholic college library. In essence, the book holds up a half dozen plutocrats throughout the history of American industrial development as paragons of virtue. The author makes the argument that these esteemed gentlefolk created the wealth of the nation.

In order to come to such an understanding, the author, Burton W. Folsom, Jr. had to completely ignore the processes of wealth creation and focus solely on the processes of wealth accumulation. His blinders caused him to see the apex of the pyramid with the remainder shrouded in a fog of delusion.

Folsom's tribute to the plutocracy is not without merit. It shows us why some people value capital accumulation and the people who have exceeded in the Rat Race. It also shows us how competing plutocrats use the tools of governance and deception to accomplish their ends. By looking at the way Folsom ignores the loose cannon aspects of the policies of a plutocrat such as James Jerome Hill, we can come to an understanding of the essential distinction between a Left-Libertarian and a Right-Libertarian.

What is wealth? How is wealth created? How is wealth destroyed? How is wealth preserved? Who is ultimately responsible for managing the wealth of any given nation?
  • mijopo

Salon's hack list

So, on my (liberally biased) slice of the internet everyone's all atwitter about the Salon hack 30.  In some ways I think there very act of compiling such a list constitutes bullshit of the sort I was referring to recently.  But I suppose that its saving grace is that arguably it's taking many of these commentators to task precisely for the sin of bullshitting, at least that was the impression I had in reading many of the summaries. 

The criteria were the "most predictable, dishonest and just plain stupid pundits in the media"  Obviously, this is Salon, there's a heavy left wing bias.  But having said that, this seems to have mostly left the heart of the Fox batting order alone, no Beck, no O'Reilly or Hannity.  It also leaves out other obvious contenders from elsewhere, e.g., Scarborough, Limbaugh and, dare I say, Olbermann.  Do you think that this is because these people, with the exception of Olbermann, are viewed as being "beyond contempt" or something?   Can't even take them seriously enough to call them hacks?  Because, come on, if Beck doesn't fit the criteria, who does?

Rightees, who would you put on a hack list?  Canadians?  Any obvious candidates that Salon missed, anyone on the list who shouldn't be? 

Thanksgiving Day fun

Berkley Plantation, Virginia

Thanksgiving is a day of prayer, service, family, food, the Macy's parade, college football, and gearing up for the onslaught of buying presents, or even putting up the Christmas tree after dinner. As a proud Virginian, we in the Old Dominion will remind our fellow Americans, that the first Thanksgiving dinner was held at Berkley Plantation on December 4, 1619. 38 men from Berkeley Parish in England vowed "Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God." So take that, you rapscallion commonwealth of Massachusetts (and BBJ)! :-p

I'm preparing the traditional fair-- roasting a fresh Butterball, sage sausage dressing, mashed taters, King's Arm Tavern styled sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet tater pie, collards, green bean casserole, and a nice bottle of champagne. Also a 7-layer chocolate fudge cake, and Challah bread. And Starbucks Christmas blend coffee and lemon tea.

So what are you plans? Any special recipes you'd like to share? :-D
  • kinvore

I guess you CAN touch this

Former Republican Senator from Texas Tom DeLay was found guilty of money laundering today. "The Hammer" faces up to life in prison for this crime.

Does anyone think this will change anything in American politics or will it continue to be business as usual? Rhetorical question, I think we all know the answer to that one.

What we have in place is a form of legalized bribery. As long as money is considered speech then the rich will always have a stronger voice than the poor and will always have unfair leverage over our government.

Still it's always nice to see justice prevail, even if it won't change anything.