Friday, October 25, 2002

A Very Sad Day For America

The United States lost a really good guy today. Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, his daughter Marcia, three campaign workers, and two pilots died today in a plane crash in Minnesota.

There are very few politicians willing to take unpopular stands, even if it means losing their jobs; there are very few politicians willing to vote against big money and on behalf of the little guy every time; and there are very few politicians with the courage to speak their minds in the face of overwhelming opposition. Paul Wellstone was one of those few.

The son of Russian immigrants, Paul Wellstone grew up in Arlington VA and was a star wrestler at the University of North Carolina (where he went undefeated and won the 1964 ACC Championship at 124 lbs). Wellstone taught for 21 years at Carleton College in Northfield Minnesota (on the short list of where I'd want my son to go to school). While teaching, he was tireless in his efforts at community organizing and political activism. In 1990, Wellstone got pissed off enough at the incumbent Senator, Rudy Boschwitz, to run against him. His campaign was short on money but long on spirit, and, to the surprise of everyone in politics, he won.

During his 12 years in the Senate, Wellstone was known as the guy most likely to be on the wrong end of a 99-1 vote, as he wasn't likely to change his position just because it was unpopular. His support of veterans, of public education, and of the rights of workers was second to none. He was on the good side of almost every political battle you can name.

More than the sum of his parts, Paul Wellstone was a fundamentally good guy. We need more like him, and he'll be missed.

You can buy Wellstone's book here.

Economics or the Law?

I've noticed that many of the best bloggers are either Economists or Lawyers. This may be because smart people go into Economics and the Law, or it may be the natural frustration of people who know damned well how the world should be run but haven't been given the chance (I'm guessing a little of both). I happen to find both specialties fascinating (I am a bit of a nerd), and am anticipating a major change in both location and vocation when my son finishes high school. So I've got a question for anyone who feels like answering:

Should I go to grad school for Economics or the Law?

I'd actually like to teach and write at the same time, preferably with some knowledge on the subject at hand. So I'd be looking at getting a PhD in Econ and teaching college or getting a JD and teaching in law school (I guess a JD would be enough, or would I need an LLM?). I guess I could also teach college government classes with a JD, but I'm not sure.

Some relevant information:
1) I'm gonna have to finish up my undergrad work either way, but it probably won't be at my original school for financial reasons
2) I have a shitty background in math, but I'm a fast learner
3) I have the attention span of a hummingbird on crystal meth
4) Even so, I retain information pretty well and am very good at applying it to new situations
5) I know damned well how the world should be run but haven't been given the chance
6) I test very well, so the LSAT and GRE shouldn't be much of a problem
7) I seem to have an intuitive grasp of economic principles that some of my classmates didn't share
8) The quarter I never went to class (don't ask), I still got an A in Robert Eisner's Intermediate Macro class (better than any of my friends)
9) I'm smart enough to have invited Prof Eisner to lunch, and a big enough idiot to have turned down a chance to do research with him (but we did have a really nice talk, he was a hell of a guy)
10) I've been representing myself pro se in my father's 15 year long Probate case (don't ask) for over a decade
11) I've been told I have a good grasp of legal principles
12) I'm a dilletante by natural inclination, but feel the need to start learning things in depth
13) My Mother insists I'm just like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men
14) I've always taken this to mean that I'm not as lazy or shallow as I appear to be (but I can appear pretty damned lazy and shallow)
15) Allowing me to mold the leaders of tomorrow would probably be the last straw in the Death of the West
16) I'm a loudmouth
17) But a very quiet one
18) I don't suffer fools gladly
19) I had such an allergic reaction to Political Correctness that some of my classmates probably thought I was a right-winger
20) I'm not
21) I'm naturally contrary
22) I'd also be willing to consider grad school in Geography, History, or Political Science, but I'm scared by the job prospects (does anyone know how hard it is to get a gig teaching Law compared to other specialties?)
23) I have a Tourette's-like inability to stop cussing (but it ain't Tourette's)
24) Some of my best friends are lawyers (no, honest)
25) Even my girlfriend (the lovely and talented Emilia) is a lawyer
26) I still think lawyer jokes are really funny
27) I don't know any economists
28) Economist jokes are only funny if you know a lot of economics
29) Because of #10, I used to be really down on the legal profession
30) Now I think the problem is less the Law than many of the people who practice it
31) This could be said about many other professions, but few affect people as much as the Law
32) I almost used impact as a verb in the last point
33) I hate people who use impact as a verb
34) I don't have to make a shitload of money to be happy
35) Since I'm terrible with money, this is a good thing

Any advice would be appreciated.

Forget and Remember

Forget the sentimental notion that foreign policy is a struggle between virtue and vice, with virtue bound to win.
Forget the utopian notion that a brave new world without power politics will follow the unconditional surrender of wicked nations.
Forget the crusading notion that any nation, however virtuous and powerful, can have the mission to make the world over its own image.
Remember that diplomacy without power is feeble, and power without diplomacy is destructive and blind.
Remember that no nation’s power is without limits, and hence that its policies must respect the power and interests of others.

- Hans Morgenthau

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Dishonest, Idiotic Writing

Made the mistake of looking at a recent piece by Anne Coulter (I refuse to link to it, but it'll be easy to find). I made it one and a half sentences before I found something so fucking stupid that I yelled:
The anti-death penalty lobby never sleeps. Unable to convince the public that savage murderers should be given radio shows rather than lethal injections,
I, for one, think that life imprisonment is actually worse punishment than execution. Being locked in a cage for decades would be enough to make me pine for death.

If anyone cares, Coulter seems to think that all DNA evidence proving the innocence of a convict has been fabricated. All of it.

Risk Assessment

Now that they appear to have caught the sniper, I'd like to say a few words about the way people view certain risks.

The last few weeks have been ones of (perhaps understandable) panic in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. Not only have football games and other extracurricular events been cancelled at schools, but people have kept their kids home and refused to send them to school until the sniper was caught. Outdoor events have been cancelled or sparsely attended. The local news even featured one couple who flew to Nashville to avoid the sniper. Essentially, people have been severely curtailing their schedules as a way to limit their exposure. This is perfectly understandable behavior (I'd be freaked if a sniper was stalking suburban Nashville), but doesn't really make a lot of sense. Let me explain.

Literally millions of people live in the suburbs of Washington D.C.. Dozens of them die every day. They die of heart failure, of diabetes, of drug overdoses, of stroke, and (most relevant to my discussion) of car accidents. In fact, I'd be willing to guess that far more people have died during the last 3 weeks from car accidents in the affected area than from sniper attacks. Of course, now that the sniper has been caught, people will continue to die from auto accidents at the same rate as before, yet no one will raise an outcry over the slaughter on our highways.

But, you say, the sniper is different because he added risk to our already risky daily routines. I'll counter that a rainstorm adds far more risk to the lives of far more drivers than a lone sniper, but we don't stop driving when it rains. I'll add that the risks we take in traffic are even more avoidable than the risks we may be exposed to from random violent strangers. After all, we can't predict when some loon is going to start killing innocent people for no good reason at all and few of us would want to cut ourselves off from human contact, but we can easily predict when traffic is most dangerous.

Rush hour, rain, snow, late weekend nights, and fog all add risk to our daily commutes, yet we choose to accept these risks as if they are unavoidable. But they're not. Living within walking distance of work and taking public transportation are two easy ways to avoid (but not completely eliminate) traffic risks. Yes, they would require real changes to our lifestyles and inconveniences for all of us, but so did radically changing the routines of millions of people because a sniper was on the loose. I'm willing to guess that the same couple who flew to Nashville to avoid the sniper would never consider taking public transport to avoid traffic risks. Why is this?

We, as humans, seem to have real trouble weighing the relative risks of different activities. It seems that we give less weight to the risks of everyday activities and to ones within our control and much more weight to risks which seem exotic and beyond our control. We may worry about sharks at the beach, but we don't stop to think that we're much more likely to drown, to get skin cancer, or to die in a traffic accident on the way to the beach than we are to even see a shark. We have (some) control over traffic accidents and drowning, but sharks seem like something completely beyond our control. So we avoid the sharks but don't pay any attention to the other risks associated with swimming or with driving to the beach. In a related way, we cancel football games because of a sniper but we don't stop to think that our kids are much more likely to die in a car wreck on the way home from the game than from a sniper's bullet at it. Next time a carload of teenagers dies leaving a football game, I really doubt we'll see anyone calling for us to cancel all future games (nor should we do so).

This is not to minimize the loss of the people who that asshole sniper killed, but simply to point out that the lives of people who die in other ways are just as important. And to ask that we try to be realistic in assessing the various risks we face every day.

BTW: You may also want to look askance at the claims of Market Fundamentalists who claim that the market will cure all our ills. If we're so bad at assessing the risks of everyday activities (and, hence, end up doing stupid and risky things against our own interests), why should we always make economic decisions correctly? While letting us fuck up if we want to is usually the best policy, we shouldn't base our decisions on the fiction that people always act rationally. We have tons of proof that they don't.

Two Recent Emails


Dear Sir,

It is with heart full of hope that I write to seek your help in the
context below.
I am Isa Bamaiyi the first son of the former Nigerian Chief Of General
Staff under the Late Head Of State General Sani Abacha
whose Sudden
death occurred on 8th of June 1998.

Having gotten your particulars from the internet. I have no doubt about
your capacity and good will to assist me in receiving this consignment
into your foreign Account, the sum of US$32Million willed and deposited
in my favor
in a security company by my father who is currently in
prison under the charges of embezzlement which is a lie perpetrated by the
present government of the day to frustrate all former officials in
government before them.

This money is currently kept in a trust security company in Europe
under a fictitious name as the present government has on assumption in
office setup a panel of inquiry to the financial activities of my father
with a decision to freeze all his assets respectively which they have
succeeded so far except for this sum in question .

The Government had earlier placed Foreign Travelling Embargo on all our
family members and sized all known local and International outfits of
our business empire.

The situation has been so terrible that we are virtually living on the
assistance of well wishers. In view of this plight therefore, I expect
you to be Trust Worthy and Kind enough to respond to this call soon to
save family and I from a hopeless future
I hereby agree to compensate your sincere and candid effort in this
regard with 20%
while 10% goes to offset all expenditure including
transport and all used to ensure the proper claim of this funds when finally
received in your Local Bank Account.

Please endeavor to keep this under strict confidentiality so that
nobody knows about this funds as it is our only hope.

May Allah Bless You.

Best wishes,

Isa Bamaiyi.











All my worries are over. I'm going to be rich, I tell you, rich.

Just a Taste of the Future

found via See the Forest

Bush Enlists Government in GOP Campaign
President Bush has harnessed the broad resources of the federal government to promote Republicans in next month's elections. From housing grants in South Dakota and research contracts in Florida to Air Force One rides and photos in the White House driveway, Bush has made Republican success on Nov. 5 a government-wide project.

More than 330 administration appointees, some of whom were told by White House officials that they needed to show their Republican credentials, have taken vacation time and are being flown by the party to House and Senate campaigns in states where control of Congress will be decided. The appointees will organize volunteers, work the phones and go door to door............

............A recent e-mail to the 6,100 full-time headquarters employees of the Environmental Protection Agency reminded them of the provisions of the Hatch Act, which was designed to protect federal employees from political pressure. But some employees said they were surprised by its emphasis on participating in, not abstaining from, campaign activities. The memo said they "are permitted to take an active part in partisan political management and campaigns," subject to limitations, and reminded them they are free to "express support for the president and his program" when they are off-duty.

Bobby L. Harnage Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal workers, said he has been hearing increasing complaints about what his members consider politicization of their work, and said the effect is dampened morale. He asserted that Republicans' use of the federal government is the most aggressive he has seen in 34 years as a union official. "Bush and his administration are making no attempt to cover up what they're doing," Harnage said.

Election-year politicking has been honed through many presidencies. In 1992, top aides to Bush's father held "funnel meetings" to dispatch federal largess to states with upcoming primaries.........

.........many of Bush's Cabinet members have been appearing with Republican candidates in their official capacities. Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans presented an "Export Achievement Award" in Iowa yesterday at a food-processing plant, where he was introduced by Rep. Greg Ganske, a Republican challenging Sen. Tom Harkin (D). Ganske said the message was Bush's trade agenda, not Republican politics.

"No mention was made of my opponent," Ganske said. "This was not campaigning."
Evans will make a similar appearance today at a trash-compactor manufacturing plant with Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.), who is in a tough reelection race...........

...........Back in January, Bush declared himself "a proud party man," and he followed through by raising a record amount of party money for a midterm election, more than $144 million, at 67 receptions in 34 states and the District of Columbia. Vice President Cheney collected more than $22 million with 74 appearances, and Democratic officials counted 200 other fundraising events by top aides and relatives to Bush and Cheney.

Undeterred by preparations for possible war with Iraq, Bush embarks today on 12 days of barnstorming in battleground states and districts, with a break Friday and Saturday for meetings with world leaders in Texas and Mexico.

Imagine how the "Liberal Media" would've treated this if it had been Clinton or Gore?

It wasn't too long ago that Republicans were insisting that Clinton shouldn't be out campaigning for Gore (they made up some imaginary "tradition" for outgoing Presidents). They would've gone apeshit if Clinton's whole Cabinet had been out campaigning with government money (and rightly so).

WTF? part II

Clement Backer Claims Alexander Hurt Finger
A supporter of U.S. Senate hopeful Bob Clement filed a police report yesterday accusing Clement opponent Lamar Alexander of assaulting him after a Republican rally here........

........''He was very angry when he saw those. He crinkled them into my hand, tightened down his grip and went to my index finger and twisted it and said, 'What is your name? What is your name?' Two policemen pulled him off me.''

As much as I appreciate him taking one for the team, Alexander Kicked In Testicles After Yanking Some Guy's Finger would not only have made a much funnier headline, but it probably would have lost Alexander the election by making him look like an unstable psychotic just as we start early voting (Yes, Tennessee voters are that gullible. see Frist, Bill; also Bush, George W). If you're gonna pull some stupid stunt to make a feller look bad, might as make sure it gets maximum exposure.


found via ArchPundit

"Righteous Judges" Prayer Alert
Hopes for a national revival hinge largely on the contested appointment of the right judges, according to a national prayer leader who has called for three weeks of concerted intercession.

The appeal has gone out from Dutch Sheets, a Colorado Springs, Colo., pastor and noted author and speaker, whose rallying cry for "fervent prayer" during the 2000 presidential elections became a focal point for many Christians in the United States and overseas.

He wrote then of "the greatest prayer burden I have ever experienced," and warned that God's man would only be elected if there was a massive prayer effort. Sheets says the urgency of his new call, being circulated by e-mail, is "close, if not equal" to that of two years ago.

In it he says that God spoke to him through the book of Nehemiah - which tells of the restoration of Jerusalem - that while America's walls may have been rebuilt, her gates - representing the courts - were not in place. "I knew immediately that our journey toward revival in America was absolutely dependent upon seeing our gates, the courts, restored," he writes.

"The most effective 'gate' or entry point Satan has used to force humanistic, anti-biblical ideologies into the fabric of America has been our judicial system," he adds. "Decisions which promote biblical immorality, the forcing of God out of our culture, and even the taking of innocent life have flowed out of this now largely anti-God judicial system.".......

.......Sheets suggests a 21-day national fast beginning today, with nightly prayer meetings and even turning some entire church services over to prayer. "This judicial issue is a major key to determining whether revival or further spiritual decline occurs for America," he says. "We will either see this 'gate' properly restored or America will turn further away from God."

I'd suggest Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, and Spencer Abraham get right on that 21 day fast.

And doesn't Dutch Sheets sound like the best gay porn name ever?

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

What I Would Do About Korea


1) Start moving troops into Korea and ships off the coast as fast as possible

2) Freeze all aid to North Korea (of any kind) and any bank accounts we have access to

3) Declare a blockade of all Korean ports (ships can go out, but none can enter without being sunk)

4) Get the Chinese to declare a similar blockade of North Korea's border crossings on land (see below), with the proviso that food and medicine may enter (but not fuel)

5) Demand that North Korea cease it's nuclear weapons program and allow inspectors unfettered access to any damn place they want anywhere in the country, at all times.

Under the Radar:

1) Quietly explain to Pakistan that any further aid to North Korea's nuclear program will result in the suspension of all aid, in the cessation of all trade, and in us giving the green light to India to do anything the fuck it wants about Kashmir.

2) Explain to China that we want it as a partner in our dealings with North Korea (which will enhance its prestige in the region) but that we will act alone if necessary (which will cause great loss of face for China). Convince them to close the border to North Korea and to quietly start massing troops on it.

3) Emphasize to China that a nuclear North Korea would cause us to support the rearming of Japan (which China definitely does not want).

4) Also emphasize to China all the ways in which it would be safer and better off if North Korea was not a nuclear power.

5) Advise China that unwillingless to back our play in North Korea would be reason for us to rethink aid to China, the number of Chinese students studying in America, and our recent policy of relatively free trade (which is China's #1 source of foreign capital).

6) Advise China that any overt attempts to thwart our policy in North Korea could result in the cessation of all trade with the United States (we may benefit from cheap imports, but they rely on trade a great deal more than we do). If we aren't willing to use trade as a weapon to keep the world safe, we're just as shallow and venal as our enemies accuse us of being.

7) Remind South Korea and Japan how bad it would be to face a nuclear North Korea. Also promise them help in repairing any damage caused in a war with North Korea.

8) Very quietly inform the North Koreans that, if we are forced to go to war, that we will not only topple the current regime but that we'll make sure Kim Jong Il and the other leaders of the North Korean state don't live very long. That's right. We should explicitly threaten their lives if we go to war, but very quietly.

9) Offer to exchange Noam Chomskey and Alexander Cockburn for North Korean nuclear scientists (okay, this part's a joke, but how else am I going to know if anyone reads this far in my posts?).

As you may have noticed, China is the key to forcing North Korea to comply. Not only does it control their only friendly border crossing, but it also represents a huge threat to the North Korean leadership (should China side with the US). As they've proven in Vietnam, the Chinese are quite willing to invade fellow "communist" neighbors who piss them off. In fact, they're a lot better prepared to invade North Korea than we are.

Some of you may not like my calling for us to quietly threaten the lives of North Korea's leaders, but I think it's the best policy. The leadership couldn't give a damn if we kill a bunch of draftees who don't even know what's going on, but I'm sure they want to live. A threat like this, done quietly so as not to cause another festive round of overseas America-bashing, would do the trick.

For much the same reason, I thought that we should have quietly threatened the lives of Saddam Hussein and his generals before the first Gulf War (a realpolitik version of Don't make me come in there). If he'd pulled out, he and his generals get to live. If they force us to invade, then he dies. Given the choice, i'd much rather kill a handful of bad guys than a hundred thousand innocent draftees, and I think we have the choice (even if it's ugly on paper, it would work in practice).

In fact, as a sidebar to my earlier Psychos can't have nukes, we could add Any psycho who tries to get nukes is gonna get whacked. That would get attention and respect in a way that trade sanctions never will (but, for purely cosmetic reasons, it would have to be understood American policy, but not official policy).

Why the Illustrious Leader Can't Have Nukes

Commenter Plig writes
I've never been able to follow the logic of an argument that says "Sorry - we're allowed to have a huge nuclear arsenal, but you're not allowed to have even a small one".
How do you square that with your defence of the right to bear arms? I know the scale is different, but the principle's the same.

Taking the second question first, my view on guns is predicated on the fact that we're already saturated with guns. There are millions and millions of guns owned by millions and millions of gun owners. We've got so many guns, in fact, that anyone who wants a gun can get one whether or not they're allowed to own one legally. Banning guns wouldn't change this, it'll just make a bunch of otherwise law-abiding people into criminals (much as drug prohibition does) without making anyone safer.

Nukes are a different matter (even if we ignore the obvious differences in lethality). Very few people have them, and they're obviously not readily available to people not part of them club. I think they should stay that way.

The short answer to why we can have nukes and Kim Jong Il can't is that we're not nuts, and he is. The long answer isn't much more complicated.

For the most part nuclear weapons are now confined to countries that won't use them unless nuked itself. This gives everyone a reasonable sense of security, and makes the world a safer and more comfortable place for all of us (including people in non-nuclear countries). This is why we bribe convinced some of the former Soviet republics to give up their arsenals. In its our interest to keep the number of nuclear powers as small as possible.

But who should be allowed to have nukes? As I've stated earlier, we could make Psychos can't have nukes into official policy and it would suit me just fine. We could add to that Unstable countries, aggressively anti-social countries, and really poor countries that might use nukes for blackmail can't have nukes, either without any tears here in NashVegas.

Basically, if Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, or Japan wanted nukes, I wouldn't be freaked out in the way I am at the thought of North Korea or Iraq having them. They would be unlikely to use them, which seems to be why they wouldn't want them in the first place (they know old Uncle Sam would stomp anyone likely to threaten our sources for tax avoidance, supermodels, standup comedians, or fuel efficient cars, respectively). It's the countries that desperately want nukes so they can be a big shot that scare me.

A really bad analogy:
If I go to my Mother's house, and she reaches into kitchen drawer for a knife, I'm not going to freak. I know Mom won't be threatening me or anyone I care about with the knife and would be really unlikely to hurt anyone with it.

If I find myelf at the house of an aggressively paranoid monomaniacal psycho who dresses like Prince and acts like Stalin and he reaches for a knife, I'm going to do anything I have to do to keep him from getting that knife. If I can keep him from getting that knife by convincing him or even bribing him into swearing off knives forever, I will. If that's not an option, or if (as in the case of North Korea), he promises not to get the knife and then lunges for the drawer, I will jump him and beat him into submission. If necessary, I will kill him to keep him from getting that knife. If I'm convinced that the lunatic with the perm and the lifts is a danger, I'll do what I have to do even if the room is full of other people who stand by without doing anything themselves. I'll do it even if there are people who may stand up for the raving psycho or argue that I'm overreacting. My safety and the safety of those around me who can't protect themselves is my responsibility, and I'll take action when I deem necessary.

Why? Because he can't be trusted with it. That's what it comes down to. There's are some countries or regimes which can be trusted with nukes and some that can't. Unfortunately, there's no hard and fast rule to know which is which. But as the man said about pronography, I know it when I see it.

This matter of who can be trusted and who can't, is also why I think we need to lean really hard on Pakistan not to share their technology (as they've been accused of doing with North Korea) and would be willing to cut off all trade with Russia to prevent this.

Iraq v North Korea

A few things to think about when comparing unilateral action versus Iraq qith the same against North Korea:

1) An invasion of North Korea would not provoke more terrorism worldwide, as there is virtually no one who sympathizes with or identifies with North Korea (although I'm sure Alexander Cockburn will find a few nice words to say). There are millions of Muslims, however, who are going to be pissed that a non-Muslim country is attacking a Muslim one (this is not to say that we should never attack Muslim countries, just that reaction should be taken into account).

2) Rebuilding North Korea would not require a long-term American military occupation, nor would it require creating civil society from scratch. South Korea would be perfectly happy to do the job for us.

3) Given the thousands of North Koreans pouring across the border with China to escape famine and repression, it doesn't look like the common people of North Korea would mind if we put a bullet into the head of their Illustrious Leader.

4) No friendly countries would be destabilized by an invasion of North Korea, though South Korea would likely take some shelling.

5) Disarming North Korea would put the lie to claims that we just don't like Muslims, and would actually help our PR efforts in the Arab world.

6) North Korea has a better military than Iraq, but no oil of it's own. A blockade could make the North Korean war machine grind to a halt quite quickly.

7) China may not like a unilateral invasion of North Korea but I'm sure it would join us in a bilateral one. Not only would they be disarming a nutcase neighbor with nucler ambitions of its own, but China always likes the chance to throw its weight around. In addition, we have billions in trade with China to use as a cudgel to get its cooperation.

8) As bad as the lives of Iraqis are, the lives of North Koreans are infinitely worse. They are starving to death while their Illustrious Leader builds palaces and nuclear weapons. Taking out Kim Jong Il could be justified on humanitarian grounds alone.

9) As I mentioned before, North Korea is a priority right now while Iraq can be put off for a while.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Kim Jong Il Is Still a Nutcase

My esteemed colleague Armed Liberal has the temerity to disagree with my unproven, hysterical assertion that North Korea should be a bigger priority than Iraq:
The North Koreans probably have or will shortly have a Bomb. Pakistan has a Bomb. India has a Bomb. South Africa may well have a Bomb (or that could have been an Israeli bomb). There are too damn many Bombs out there for comfort (as I've noted ). But at this point, I don't see the pattern of behavior (in the last 40 years) that would lead me to believe that North Korea would use their bombs belligerently (as opposed to, maybe selling them to a terrorist organization).

I realize that Saddam Hussein gets a lot more press than The great leader Kim Jong Il, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but I think I can sum him up in a single sentence. He's fucking nuts. Let's take at look at North Korean actions over the last couple of decades:

Kim Jong Il: Playing a Poor Hand Skillfully
In a news conference after his defection, Hwang warned of a growing possibility that his homeland might launch an attack. "The preparation for war exceeds your imagination," he said.

Hwang described Kim Jong-il as a strong-willed dictator who is short-tempered and ruthless when it comes to punishing anyone who questions his policies.

Missile with a Message
Early last week, a powerful new missile lifted off from a secret base on North Korea's eastern coast and streaked toward Japan. Dumping its first stage off the western coast of Japan, the rocket sped high over the country and plunked down into the Pacific Ocean.......

.......With a range of up to 1,240 miles, far greater than anything else in the North's arsenal, the Taepo Dong-1 can reach all of Japan--and the 41,000 U.S. troops stationed there. The missile also raised the prospect of new threats to the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East, where Pyongyang sells its missiles to clients like Libya and Iran. More worrisome still is what the launch says about Pyongyang's aggressive missile program. Some experts believe North Korea is well on the way to building even more muscular missiles, capable of reaching Alaska, Hawaii and even the western part of the continental U.S.

South, North Korea Clash at Sea
South Korea said its patrol boats noticed one North Korean boat venture past the sea border off the west coast of the Korean peninsula shortly before 10 a.m. local time and warned it to turn back, Lee said.

About 30 minutes later, several North Korean fishing and patrol boats had emerged and began firing at the patrol boats, according to the South Korean defense ministry.......

....... Saturday's clash followed a recent series of incursions by North Korean navy ships into South Korean waters. On Friday, two North Korean patrol boats briefly crossed the border -- the tenth such violation this year.

In June 1999, several border violations by North Korean ships sparked the first naval clash between the two Koreas since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Commandoes Infiltrated Into Korea Via Submarine
Around 00:55 a.m. on September 19, 1996, a Korean taxi driver discovered 2 prowlers on a highway near Kangdong-myon, Kangnung City on the east coast of Korea, and then spotted a strange vessel run aground nearby. He informed this to the police immediately. The stranded boat was identified as a North Korean submarine.........

........... During the operations, the Korean troops collected from the dead body of one of the North Korean infiltrators a roll of film which contained detailed pictures of Kangnung Airport, Yongdong Power Plant, and other facilities which the infiltrator had taken after he entered the area. These infiltrators were estimated to have been on a mission to assassinate Korean VIPs who were scheduled to participate in a National athletic event slated to take place in Chunchon.

Inside Kim Jong Il
In 1978, film director SHIN SANG OK, 76, was kidnapped and taken to North Korea to make movies for cinema buff Kim Jong Il. Shin, who got to know the Dear Leader well, has just released his memoirs.

Profile:kim Jong Il
South Korean accounts portray Kim as a vain and capricious playboy, with permed hair and lifts in his shoes, and a penchant for foreign liquor.

They have also consistently reported rumours of young women being kidnapped in Japan and elsewhere to be his companions in a string of luxury villas.

There's a more sinister side too - for years Kim Jong-il has been suspected abroad of being the man behind the 1983 bomb attack in Rangoon that killed several members of the South Korean Cabinet, as well as the bombing of a South Korean airliner in 1987.

Some analysts also believe the younger Kim was responsible for developing North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons programme.

So, we've got an aggressively paranoid monomaniacal psycho who dresses like Prince and acts like Stalin with a penchant for building long range missiles and selling weapons to Middle Eastern unfriendlies. I'd say we better never let that particular psycho get nukes. In fact, we could make Psychos can't have nukes into official US policy.

The reason this psycho is more important than the one in Iraq is that this psycho is a lot closer to getting nukes. If Hussein were closer, I'd say we should deal with him first.

Jeb Is Still a Crook

Gov. Bush Reveals Lobby Effort
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has released documents outlining a sustained lobbying campaign by his office on behalf of a major Republican donor, which included efforts to get political appointees of President Bush to overrule career employees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).