DEVELOPMENTS HOME AND ABROAD.The biggest news on the international front of the North Korean crisis appears to be China's apparent willingness to think about strong punitive measures. I'm not sure what to read into this, as "tough measures" undoubtedly means something radically different in Beijing than in Washington or Tokyo. Nevertheless, China is one of a very small fraternity of countries with serious influence over North Korea, so any indication of willingness on their part to use leverage is good news. I doubt, though, that any set of carrots and sticks will get Pyongyang to give up its remaining weapons. Indeed, the current level of tough talk is likely to push them into another test.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PROBLEM POLITICS.Harold Meyersonwrites about the GOP's penchant for ignoring real problems while concocting fake ones for political purposes. In the latter vein, he recounts a kooky subcommittee hearing in September discussing the dangers of "mixed unions":
655,000 DEATHS. A staggering figure from Johns Hopkins University researchers assessing the number of deaths in Iraq caused, directly or indirectly, by the American invasion. These researchers, who published their findings in the British journal Lancet, are the same ones who did the controversial death count survey in late 2004 that also produced far higher numbers than people had expected. That survey came in for much drubbing from pro-war pundits and even folks like Fred Kaplan.
NAVAL DOCTRINE. Speaking of maritime issues, two days ago Kim Jong Il bequeathed a wondrous gift on the Navy and the Air Force. Because the Army is deeply engaged in Iraq, it has been requesting additional funds to the point that the fiscal division-of-spoils between the Army, Air Force, and Navy has been threatened. As Defense Tech and Arms and Influence point out, any military confrontation with North Korea would most immediately be handled by the USAF and the USN.
1000 SHIP NAVY. Probably the biggest concern that the North Korean nuclear program presents is the problem of proliferation. One solution that's been floated (so to speak) is the establishment of a maritime inspection regime that will limit Pyongyang's ability to export nuclear technology. Any such effort would need to be multilateral. Coincidentally, the latest thing in maritime circles is the "1000 ship Navy". This isn't an effort to triple the existing USN; the Navy is looking for 313 ships, and won't get that.
ONE WHAT? As much as I hate to risk the wrath of the Tapped Grammarians again, I have to point out that this advertisement, which is causing a stir in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, is an even cheaper shot than it would appear at first glance -- and, at first glance, incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kerry Murphy Cuchulain Tir na Nog Healey ought to be thoroughly ashamed of it.
However, pay close attention to the last two lines, which say: "While lawyers have a right to defend admitted copkillers, do we really want one as our governor?"
The Times has an interesting article about a plan to get low-cost laptops to children in the developing world. To keep costs down, the computers will use Linux, an open source operating system, instead of Windows. The article reports that Bill Gates doesn't think it's a good idea to use laptops to connect the world's poor to the web and that cell phones would be better. Is this a surprise?
I tried really hard to ignore this, but I do have the business section of the Washington Post sitting on my dining room table staring at me. And it says, "You Might Have to Thank Him for Your Job." Yes, that is the headline of the Washington Post's article on Edmund Phelps winning the Nobel Prize.
FEAR THIS OPERA. It's not at all clear why Jonah Goldberg is so obsessed with hyping the threat to Idomeneo, but responding to Jews convincing the Polish Embassy to cancel a talk by Tony Judt, he writes: "But, tell me, did Foxman threaten to cut off Judt's head?"
GOTV.Jay Cost's post explaining the trouble in measuring the actual impact of the GOP's much-vaunted voter mobilization scheme is an important one. Their GOTV advantages -- microtargeting, the 72-strategy, etc -- are being sold as a secret, even insurmountable weapon. But there's precious little data supporting that. To be sure, Bush's largest vote increases in 2004 came in Democratic areas, which certainly speaks to the power of microtargeting.