So North Korea just detonated an explosive device that may or may not have been a miniature nuclear weapon. I've heard radiation test results that both confirm and deny the existence of a nuclear bomb. I've also heard that the bomb tested was approximately one kiloton - roughly 1/60 the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It can still do some damage, but it's hardly apocalyptic.
Anyway, this is another Kim-Jong-Il-wants-attention moment. I guess no one hugged him when he was a kid. I'm glad to see China and Japan start punishing North Korea for the test (there's very little we can do since we don't actually have any sort of relationship with the Hermit Kingdom). I wonder, however, how much closing NK off will actually help the situation. Kim seems perfectly happy torturing his own people with hunger and poverty as long as he gets his self-aggrandizing sideshow taken care of. Any economic activity that ceases because of sanctions will probably not hurt Kim at all.
So what is to be done? Opening ourselves up to NK makes it look like we tacitly approve of nuclear proliferation (not a good message to be sending right now, especially with Iran waiting in the wings). Threats of warfare don't work - I'm sure the entire world knows that we won't be as eager to invade the Korean Peninsula as we were to invade Iraq. (Hell, if Bush applied the same standard to the two countries North Korea would be a parking lot right now.) Some people want to deploy nukes to South Korea - fortunately, Condi thinks that this is a bad idea given our goal of denuclearizing the peninsula.
Is being open to the North and trying to convince them to enter the global marketplace the best idea? Increased openness broke down the Soviet Union as citizens there discovered what they were missing. But NK's propaganda machine is so good that their people might not respond as expected to the discovery of the fruits of prosperity in other places. Hell, they've been living next to booming South Korea for fifty years (though SK only started booming a couple of decades ago). What may be needed is a massive human intelligence program aimed at undermining Kim's propaganda machine and popular support, and once an opposition forms, we'd have something of an opening to work with. But what do I know about foreign policy?
Also: Congress may have failed to address immigration reform, health care, the minimum wage, the tax laws, or much of anything for that matter. But they've banned Internet gambling. The opponents want to ban Internet gambling because it's addictive and because it's populated with dishonest bookies. The dishonest bookies, of course, would be taken care of by legalizing Internet gambling and regulating it - such criminals are only encouraged by making the whole shebang illegal. As for its addictiveness - aren't the supporters of this bill (conservative Republicans) the same people who vote against smoking bans? I hear there are other other addictive Internet games out there, too - are we banning them? Or coffee - I hear that's addictive?
At least the bill the ban was attached to did something good - procured more money and resources for port security. It's probably the best thing the 109th has done, and it's a shame that the news of this got lost in the douchebaggery of the gambling ban.
The Washington Post reveals the real reason Democrats will retake Congress in November - we're way hotter than the Republicans. Think about it. Hillary or Condi? Maria Cantwell or Liddy Dole? Ladies, Barack Obama or John McCain? It's an easy call. Because obviously we should be casting our votes based on physical attractiveness.