The Family

Portrait of a family at war: Kim Jong Il purges relatives after alleged coup bid,” by Jasper Becker, The Independent,, 29 December 2004 (from Democratic Underground).

Kim Jong Il is imprisoning those closest to him

North Korea’s Kim Jong Il has purged some of his closest relatives, accusing them of trying to seize power, reports in Beijing and Seoul said.

The purge began some months ago when Kim Jong Il put his brother-in-law, Chang Song-taek, under house arrest along with 80 other officials and their family members. Many have reportedly been sent to North Korea’s Gulag in the largest purge in a decade.

But me may have god reasons to be afraid

A trickle of reports coming out of North Korea paint a picture of a regime in its dying days, with leading members of the ruling family at each other’s throats.

Government sources in Seoul said Austrian intelligence was reported to have foiled an attempt last month to assassinate Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of Kim Jong Il, when he was visiting the country. Austria’s Foreign Ministry has denied the story.

Another report circulating in Seoul says that in September Kim Jong Il’s sister, Kim Kyong-hee, was seriously injured in a traffic accident, which is assumed to have been an attempt on her life.

Let’s hope they kill each other off… or that someone else saves them the trouble

Not long after the purge, Kim Jong Il paid an official visit to China and, around the time of his return, there was a huge train explosion at Ryonchon, close to the Chinese border. Official reports said it was an accident and that Kim’s train had passed through hours before, but there are persistent rumours that he escaped by only 20 minutes. Whatever the truth, diplomatic sources say Kim has been treating the train explosion as an attempt to kill him. He has dismissed senior officials responsible for his safety, including the interior minister in charge of internal security, and ordered the confiscation of all mobile phones in May this year. A mobile phone is thought to have been used to set off the explosion.

Even if it is the People’s Liberation Army

But with the re-election of George W Bush, Kim Jong Il has little realistic chance of realising his hopes, and there are growing signs that even China is beginning to lose patience with him. Beijing has moved some 60,000 troops from the Shenyang garrison to the border in case it needs to intervene.

Chinese sources also claim a growing flight of senior and middle-ranking officials and generals, with one report alleging as many as 130 generals have sought refuge in China.

Football and Cars

No, the answer then isn’t choice,” by “Aaron,” tdaxp,, 29 December 2004.

Aaron offers a well worded apologia to throwing money at the problem.

“No, the answer then isn’t choice. The answer is money.

Then why is American public school expenditure exploding with no increase in performance?

I’ll be the first to tell you that my low-cost university education was sub-par at best. I know I’d have learned a ton more and had many more opportunities at MIT or even UMN or U. of IA. However, I couldn’t afford to go to them.

Expensive high-quality education is affordable. It is much more affordable than “free” poor education. Saying that expensive things are easier to afford for rich people doesn’t change this fact. Nor does it directly affect the issue of choice.

At this point, I would posit that Dan would have a bevy of “amortize the cost of education out over your whole life” arguments. However, the difference between Billy Cheney having an expensive schooling paid for and walking into the real world debt-free, and [tdaxp] leaving college with a fair amount of debt is astronomical. Why move this harsh reality up 15 years in a student’s life? Do mom and dad have to mortgage the house to send Dan to a good primary school? Do they have to jump through endless hoops and tax chicanery to qualify for vouchers?

If society is concerned about the fairness of the situation, create government-funded scholarships or vouchers.

Aaron says money is the problem. If that is the case, the cost of education will go up anyway. Making individuals pay for their children’s education in a free market would be no more or less than making individuals pay for their children’s education, instead of relying on property tax.

So the distance between the rich and poor increases. The poor kids attend poor schools, the wealthy kids attend good schools. What will the requirements be for the voucher program? Hard to say.

It’s certainly less well known than the current classist system.

The fact is, if you’re rich you almost certainly get a better funded public education than if you’re poor. Public education is usually partially paid for out of local property taxes. As the property values are much higher in wealthier districts, wealthier districts get more money.

The only saving grace of the current regime is that every student is trapped in a choiceless monopoly. So poor kids (disproportionately latin or black) serve their sentences in decrepit buildings, while rich kids (disproportionately white and asian) waste time in style.

I know I was happy to come up in public school. I know the people who wanted to get ahead did. I know the people who were content to revel in a social experiment didn’t.

Again, I make my case, the problem isn’t the school, it’s the culture. America equals football and cars.

Some generational causality is obvious: if a child is abused, he is more likely to be abusive when he grows up. Some, less so: if a child is hugged often, he is more likely to make an effective white-collar worker, but less likely to make an effective blue-collar worker. But the connection between failing, monopolistic schools and Aaron’s posited wrongheaded culture is clear.

Children are captives of schools most days of the week for most weeks of the year for most years of childhood. Children come into school naturally academically curious, and come out believing “America equals football and cars.” There is no connection?

Schools are a means of imposing a dominant culture. Many countires choose to impose, through their monopoly schools, a vision of their future. Perhaps its conformaty to authority, pacifism, militarism, or social justice. Some schools actually stress academics. In America, we brainwash students into believing in “football and cars.” Great.

You have a choice in school. Succeed or don’t.

Truer words have never been said. Except in Brown v. Board of Education.

The quality of schools affect the quality of graduates. “Students succeed if they want to” is an excuse for all tyrants, whether racists or monopolists or other.

Would people prefer their children to have a one-sided education, where they could be indoctrinated to solely their parents’ values? Dan might say that’s a good thing. His parents were “right”. That was convenient for him. Let’s say Dan’s parents had been crazy Jehovah’s Witnesses or worse and Dan learned that the solution to life’s problems, financial and otherwise, was a hefty dose of self-flagellation… At least in a public setting, he could’ve learned about the wonders of “science” and “math” and all these other crazy things that you need in life.

What to criticize? That public schools (presumably) do not offer a “one-sided education”? That public schools teach “science” and “math”? Or that public schools teach “other crazy things you need in life”? Why not all three?

Because most children are incapable of critical thought, education is going to be propoganda. This is true in all schools, but its most hurtful in public schoools, as we all must subsidize this choiceless PR.

How many times will a public schoolchild hear the following from teachers:

1. Nazis are/were bad
2. Racism is bad
3. Sexism is bad
4. Brown v. Board of Education established “seperate but equal is inherently unequal”?

Forcing these unquestionably on a society is dangerous.

At my graduate university, I detected a clear admiration for Hitler among many foreign students, combined with a complete disregard for his racism (after all, if you’re from southern India, Jews, Germans, and Russians all look the same). All morality aside, a resurgence of National-Socialism would be a catastrophe, because it is a philosophy that brings great-power war.

How are Americans supposed to combat this? If you say “Nazis are bad,” a less doctrinaire “not all bad” is replied. If you say “Racism is bad,” they say “I agree.” By simpliying our enemeis to characatures, monopolistic public education has disarmed us in the war of ideas.

Likewise, the PC-for-the-1970s philosophy spouted by public education paints a far too simplistic view of the world. Whatever you think of them, the terms “racism” and “sexism” are not interchangable. Further, they are often confused with the more complex issues of tribalism and genderism. Societal discussion of race and sex will naturally trend towards different directions, and painting both with the same brush of “prejudice” dumbs-down discussion of both.

Likewise, one of the most important Supreme Court decisions in a hundred years is routinely misdescribed by drones who do not know better. Brown v. Board of Education upheld Flessy v. Fergeson. If was not the first SC decision against racial segregation, and unlike earlier decisions it changed almost nothing — ten years later, almost all southern schools were still segregated. How are we preparing pupils to be future crusaders for one America when their understanding of American history is so cartoonish?

Second, U.S. public schools clearly do not teach science and math. Its empirically shown in study after study.

Third, if by “other crazy things” Aaron is refering to a basic understanding of consumer finance or how to file a small-claims case, schools fail here too.

U.S. public education: still terrible.

A Defeat

Iraq to dissolve National Guard,” BBC News,, 29 December 2004.

A set-back in the Global War on Terrorism (Second Battle of Iraq)

Iraq’s interim rulers say the National Guard (ING), currently spearheading anti-insurgency activity, is to be dissolved and merged with the army.

The merger was originally planned for much later, after ING defeated the insurgency with the help of US force.

As a comparison, imagine that the mafia had proven so intractable that the FBI was dissolved. The ING was supposed to be the “big guns” on which the Iraqi police would rely. The National Guard proved helpful in dealing with the Shia holy places in Najaf, but has suffered terrible casualties.

A little mystery further on

The paramilitary ING, which is responsible for internal security, has more than 40,000 troops, according to figures given to the United Nations by US forces occupying Iraq.

The regular army is thought to number barely one tenth of that.

I’m unsure what Iraqi “regular army” the article is talking about. This is the first I have heard of it.

This is the clearest sign yet the Iraqi government expects an ongoing civil war. If the Sunni insurgency does not stop, already existing militias (including the Kurdish Peshmerga, the armed wing of the Surpeme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraqi, and even al Sadr’s Mahdi Army) would be more reliable than the ING troops, many of whom are jobless Sunni Arabs.

American Left Statism

Recruitment, war force look at draft,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader,, 29 December 2004 (from South Dakota Politics).

The famous Democratic Sioux Falls Argus Leader gives a facile analysis of the military

America’s National Guard is desperate to reverse a disturbing trend of recruitment shortfalls. We’re doing OK here in South Dakota, in fact ranking No. 1 in maintaining troop strength. But nationwide, the picture is grim: 7,000 short last year, 10,000 short this year and an even bigger goal for the coming year.

Will the new efforts work? Let’s review the cause of the trouble:

• We’re in the middle of a war. Guard units are in harm’s way, just like regular Army soldiers. In some cases, they’re in even more danger.

• Unexpected, lengthy deployments are causing financial and emotional stress on families.

• Even when enlistments are up, soldiers are kept in the service and in the field.

Everyone’s dancing around the real effects of this, though. The recruiting shortfalls call into question the continued viability of our all-volunteer military. When 40 percent of the troops in Iraq are made of National Guard and Reserves, it’s easy to see why there’s concern.

Followed by the ever-so-regreful “fear”

As distasteful as the idea may be, we may have little choice but to consider a draft.

SFAL is correct that the National Guard system is outdated. But its perspective is horribly short. We are not “in the middle of a war.”

The Global War on Terrorism is not going to end soon. Indeed, the front-runners for the White House in ’08 (Senators McCain and Clinton) are both more hawkish than President Bush. Tom Barnett was recently asked how we will know we are winning the Middle East — he answered we will know when we find ourselves in central Africa instead.

We cannot expect our forces to come home, and applauding the de facto merging of the National Guard and Army is insane. We need one force to take out nations and deter China. We need another to fight the dirty wars of peace. The first must be kill-oriented, the second life-oriented. A draft army is neither.

But Sfal gains two things by discussing a draft army. More generously to the editorial board, it seeks to embarras the President by scaring the people. Perhaps more honestly, it advances the American-left infatuation with statism.

Don’t control your schools? Don’t controll your retirement? Don’t control your life in war? Vote leftist.