Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

This bit of political gossip broke a few days ago and has since grown to just below political nightmare for the Obama administration. Beyond the willy nilly selection of dealers that seem to ignore whether or not said dealer is profitable, this bit from Reuters:

Lawyer Leonard Bellavia, of Bellavia Gentile & Associates,
who represents some of the terminated dealers, said he deposed
Chrysler President Jim Press on Tuesday and came away with the
impression that Press did not support the plan.

"It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom
of terminating 25 percent of its dealers," Bellavia said. "It
really wasn't Chrysler's decision. They are under enormous
pressure from the President's automotive task force."

Remember President Obama's assertion that the government has no place in running automakers. That assertion seems to be, at last in part, in doubt.

And now Gateway Pundit's round up, which you can read in full here.
Earlier it was reported that the Obama Administration may have targeted GOP donors in deciding which Chrysler dealerships would have to close their doors.
** Last night it was discovered that a Big Dem Donor Group was allowed to keep all 6 Chrysler dealerships open.... And, their local competitors were eliminated by Obama's task force.
** The closings also tend to be in "Red" Counties where Obama lost.
Gateway Pundit is an obvious partisan but the evidence presented is remarkable even if it's not conclusive. President Obama is looking a potential political conflagration in the eye well beyond that of his recent Supreme Court selection, which may be an inadvertent and temporary media buffer. He's got some 'splainin' to do and the sooner the better. Other "small matters" like North Korea, Pakistan, Israel and Iran loom.

Image via the AP.

I am in whole hearted agreement with the sentiments expressed by Chirol at Coming Anarchy in his latest post detailing North Korea's second apparent nuclear test. The six party talks have been an abject failure in containing North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Quite the contrary they've been little more than international acquiescence to North Korean extortion. Elam Bend, writing in the commentary of Chirol's post, links a Wall Street Journal article written by John Bolton four days before yesterday's test. I agree with Elam Bend that Bolton is often a bit over the top in his bluster and rhetoric. This article is not, however, one of those occasions. An excerpt:
A second nuclear test is by no means simply a propaganda ploy. Most experts believe that the 2006 test was flawed, producing an explosive yield well below even what the North's scientists had predicted. The scientific and military imperatives for a second test have been strong for over two years, and the potential data, experience and other advantages of further testing would be tremendous.

What the North has lacked thus far is the political opportunity to test without fatally jeopardizing its access to the six-party talks and the legitimacy they provide. Despite the State Department's seemingly unbreakable second-term hold over President Bush, another test after 2006 just might have ended the talks.

So far, the North faces no such threat from the Obama administration. Despite Pyongyang's aggression, Mr. Bosworth has reiterated that the U.S. is "committed to dialogue" and is "obviously interested in returning to a negotiating table as soon as we can." This is precisely what the North wants: America in a conciliatory mode, eager to bargain, just as Mr. Bush was after the 2006 test.

If the next nuclear explosion doesn't derail the six-party talks, Kim will rightly conclude that he faces no real danger of ever having to dismantle his weapons program. North Korea is a mysterious place, but there is no mystery about its foreign-policy tactics: They work. The real mystery is why our administrations -- Republican and Democratic -- haven't learned that their quasi-religious faith in the six-party talks is misplaced.
It's too early to say with certainty what the ultimate response to North Korea's test will be. The response thus far has been united but predictable condemnation:
Such provocations will only serve to deepen North Korea's isolation. It will not find international acceptance unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery
The Chinese side vehemently demands North Korea abides by its denuclearisation promises, stop any actions which may worsen the situation and return to the six-party talks process.
North Korea's latest actions cannot be evaluated as anything other than a violation of UN Security Council 1718, which among other things requires Pyongyang not to carry out nuclear tests.
As it is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, [Japan] condemns and protests it strongly. It is a challenge to the whole of the international community and increases tensions. We, as the only atomic-bombed nation, need to take stern action.
South Korea:
We are seriously concerned about North Korea's second test of a nuclear device. It's a direct threat against the peace and stability in the region as well as to the world.
I would however state, with certainty, that this is a pivotal moment for President Obama in which he must decide between continuing or abandoning a process which clearly hasn't worked. The former will be the easier choice but will, I would opine, accomplish little more than enabling the North Korean regime. The latter will be the more difficult choice as it will entail Obama doing the unthinkable; actually pissing somebody off as China will be less than happy with any course that both isolates the North Korean regime and deviates from the six party talks. Given the blatant failure of the six party talks thus far, this choice is the only one feasible "next step" if continued nuclear development by North Korea is to be stopped.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

North Korea's second nuke test

Via the New York Times:

North Korea said it had successfully conducted a nuclear test on Monday, raising the explosive power and level of control of its nuclear device to a new level, its state media said. 

"We have successfully conducted another nuclear test on May 25 as part of the republic's measures to strengthen its nuclear deterrent," the North's official KCNA news agency said.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency also quoted a ruling party official as saying that a test was conducted.

US Geographical Survey recorded unusual seismic activity near the site of North Korea's previous test in 2006 shortly before the NK government's claims:

Unusual earthquake activity was reported in North Korea's nuclear test area on Monday morning, the United States Geological Survey reported. The agency said the earthquake, which happened at 9.55 a.m. local time, had a preliminary magnitude of 4.7.

The timing is interesting as it comes a day after the suicide of South Korean ex-prime minister Roh Moo-Hyun

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Robert Gates on pink boxer shorts

"Any soldier who goes into battle against the Taliban in pink boxers and flip-flops has a special kind of courage. I can only wonder about the impact on the Taliban. Just imagine seeing that - a guy in pink boxers and flip-flops has you in his crosshairs."

Via NPR.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On gay marriage

Early last month my home state, Vermont, became the first state to legalize gay marriage via statute. Our governor, Jim Douglas opposed the bill citing first, the states civil union law (passed a near decade ago) as a sufficient legal measure to extend same sex unions legal benefits similar to traditionally married couples and later vetoed it, citing the ever important economic crisis as a matter of priority. In the end the Vermont legislative branch overrode the governor's veto and same sex marriage was legalized. The state of Maine has followed in similar suit today and New Hampshire is on the brink.

I'll be honest and admit that I, during the heated and much publicized governmental battle, remained largely ambivalent regarding the outcome. My personal perspective on this was (and remains) that any lifestyle that doesn't directly threaten my personal safety, the safety of my fellow citizens or the general structure of the civilization on which the latter two depend upon for their existence, should be accepted socially and legally.

That said, I am an activist in only "all things me and mine" and, given my lack of personal identification with it, this cause simply didn't fall into the narrow confines of "matters to be critically considered." Someday I may have to answer for that bit of selfishness but in the meantime life is complicated, busy and very much not in accordance with what I'd resigned myself to years ago. So you'll excuse me if, upon hearing of the reversal of governor Douglas' veto, I didn't lift a fist in celebration or whoop it up, rather merely nodded and thought "makes sense."

I've had discussions on this topic both online and off and never have I met a coherent argument against gay marriage that didn't include either religious prejudice or blatantly subjective bias. No argument has ever convinced me that, on the whole, the recognition of gay marriage is an inherent danger to me, my fellow citizens (beyond their selective and imaginative discomfort) or my society. Now, a decade after legalized civil unions and a month after legalized gay marriage, I've yet to see even circumstantial evidence here in my state to support the cause of those in opposition, much less anything strictly empirical.

I welcome any contrary (or supportive!) views as this subject, despite the addition of (essentially) two states, is far from being a historical matter. There are already concerns in Maine regarding a referendum which may well reverse the statute.

Monday, May 04, 2009

What's in a name?

This is where twenty bucks and too much time on your hands can lead:

A British 19-year-old has officially changed his name to "Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined."

The Glastonbury, England, teenager -- originally named George Garratt -- said his new name, which is thought to be the world's longest, has so outraged his grandmother that she is no longer speaking to him, The Telegraph reported Monday.

The teen said he used an online service to officially change his name for a $20 fee.

"I wanted to be unique," Captain Fantastic said of his name choice. "I decided upon a theme of superheroes."