Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Kim Jong-un

Impeachment is a Mistake

Remember 2017? President Trump tried to repeal and replace Obamacare. Over the summer, the Senate debated various permutations of healthcare legislation, and Trump’s approval rating sagged. When the House leadership introduced their first plan, on March 6th, Trump’s approval rating was 44%. When the Senate defeated even the “skinny repeal” bill on July 28th, Trump’s approval rating had been reduced to 38%. From there, the president turned to cutting taxes for rich people. When the tax legislation was first introduced, on November 2nd, Trump’s approval rating remained 38%. When the Senate passed the legislation under budget reconciliation a month later, Trump’s approval figure sagged as low as 36%. Over the course of that year, Trump had lost about 18% of his approval, and he’d lost that approval betraying his core supporters on issues that mattered to them. He had tried to take their healthcare away, and he had taken their money and handed it to rich people. Many Americans who voted for Trump could see that this stuff was not cool. The opposition was making real progress.

Then, everything changed. By February of 2018, Trump’s approval rating was back over 40%. A year later, it was 42%, and as I write this Trump’s approval rating is over 43%. Virtually all of the progress the opposition made in the first year of the Trump presidency has been rolled back. What happened? We stopped talking about issues and started talking about the culture war and character issues. Let me show you the steps.

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Let’s Stop Pretending We Might Fight North Korea

President Trump wants to convince North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un that if he keeps running his jaw, we might fight him:

Many in the press have been happy to jump all over this, acting like the two countries are on the brink of war. But while this sells newspapers and gets clicks, it disinforms the public. Here’s what I think is really going on.

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The Interview: How We Should Respond to Terrorist Nonsense

American funnymen James Franco and Seth Rogen made a comedy called The Interview for Sony in which their characters attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Someone really didn’t like this movie and really didn’t want Sony to release it–a mysterious organization known as “Guardians of Peace” hacked and leaked a series of Sony e-mails and threatened a 9/11 style terrorist attack if the film were released as planned. No one is certain, but the US government suspects that the Kim regime is behind the threats. It is, at the very least, supportive of them. North Korea’s National Defense Commission says:

The hacking into the Sony Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the [North] in response to its appeal.

Amazingly, Sony and the major American movie theater chains capitulated, cancelling the release. Was this the right thing to do?

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“Never Again” and North Korea

Last week, the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea released a harrowing report that claims that North Korea is a historically bad place in which to live. North Korea’s badness is “unparalleled in the contemporary world”, and the chairman of the UN committee, Michael Kirby, even went so far as to bring the Nazis into it:

At the end of the Second World War so many people said, ‘If only we had known, if only we had known the wrongs that were done in the countries of the hostile forces’…there will be no excusing the failure of action because we didn’t know–we do know.

The implication of his claim is that the world’s people are all complicit participants in the awful things that happen in North Korea because we allow those things to happen and do not take sufficient action to stop them. This claim, which I call the “Never Again” claim, is widely made whenever any great man-made violent tragedy occurs in the world. I’d like to challenge it.

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I’ve Still Got Dennis Rodman’s Back

Over the last several days, an old piece of mine from March 2013 has spontaneously, seemingly out of nowhere, popped back up in my daily blog statistics–Leave Dennis Rodman Alone. Some formulation of the question “is Dennis Rodman retarded?” has led more internet wanderers here over the last couple of days than any other query. The cause? Hall of fame 5-time NBA champion Dennis Rodman has returned to North Korea, this time with a team of retired NBA players to play a game in honor of Kim Jong-un’s birthday. Rodman once again has been put on the defensive by many in the American media for fraternizing with a terrible dictator and for refusing to advocate for the release of Kenneth Bae, an American who is currently held prisoner in the country. Nonetheless, I’m still backing Dennis Rodman. Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry »