Jeb Bush’s column in yesterday’s WSJ is making the rounds:
Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: “The right to rise.”
Think about it. We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn’t seem like something we should have to protect.
But we do. We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.
That is what economic freedom looks like. Freedom to succeed as well as to fail, freedom to do something or nothing. People understand this. Freedom of speech, for example, means that we put up with a lot of verbal and visual garbage in order to make sure that individuals have the right to say what needs to be said, even when it is inconvenient or unpopular. We forgive the sacrifices of free speech because we value its blessings.
But when it comes to economic freedom, we are less forgiving of the cycles of growth and loss, of trial and error, and of failure and success that are part of the realities of the marketplace and life itself.
Increasingly, we have let our elected officials abridge our own economic freedoms through the annual passage of thousands of laws and their associated regulations. We see human tragedy and we demand a regulation to prevent it. We see a criminal fraud and we demand more laws. We see an industry dying and we demand it be saved. Each time, we demand “Do something . . . anything.”
Read the full column here. Naturally, this has led to a resurgence of speculation that another Bush will seek the White House in 2012. Jeb clarified his position on running:
The talk Monday came a few days after unsubstantiated reports bounced around the political world that someone — it was never clear who — might have been polling, or push-polling, on Bush’s behalf in New Hampshire. Reporters got in touch with former top Bush White House aide Karl Rove, who emailed Bush himself for comment.
“I am not push-polling, or polling, and I am not running,” Bush emailed back to Rove. Later, Bush added that he does not know of anyone who might be polling or push-polling on his behalf. The answer is definitive, Rove said: Bush just isn’t running. “Please, get grounded,” an exasperated-sounding Rove suggested.
Other well-connected insiders say the same thing. “Absolutely not,” says one. “I do not believe for a minute that [the article] signals any intent or plan on his part to enter the political fray.”
More here. In related news, Emily Ekins tells us that 54 Percent of Americans Fear Government Action Will Hurt the Economy:
Reeling from the onset of the 2008 financial crisis, politicians and candidates alike seemed to think everyone agreed that government needed to do something to combat the crisis. Now in 2011 the Reason-Rupe poll asked Americans what concerned them more—that government would fail to take action or that the government would take action but in so doing make things even worse. In response, a majority of Americans said they fear that government action will make things worse, rather than better, while 40 percent said they are afraid that the government will fail to take action.
This lack of confidence in government’s ability, or even capability, is reflected in Congress’ low approval rating of just 13 percent. Confidence in President Barack Obama is roughly split, with 49 percent approving of his performance and 47 percent disapproving.
Continuing the look at the death of Kim Jong-Il, Ira Stoll tells the stories of some of his victims:
The pictures accompanying the news of the leadership change in North Korea are those of the dead dictator, Kim Jong-Il, and his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-Un.
But there are some other Koreans whose names and photos, though absent from the front pages, tell the real story.
Ri Hyon Ok was a 33-year-old mother of three who was publicly executed by the North Korean government on June 16, 2009, for the crime of giving away bibles. Her husband and children were banished to North Korea’s vast political prison system the day after she was killed.
Son Jong Nam was tortured by North Korean authorities and imprisoned for three years, from 2001 to 2004. He lost 70 pounds while in captivity and emerged walking with a permanent limp. Arrested again in 2006 after police found bibles at his home, he was sentenced to death by firing squad.
Soon Ok Lee is a survivor of the Kaechon prison camp. She testified on April 30, 2003, at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Human Rights that women political prisoners in North Korea “were unconditionally forced to abort because the unborn baby was also considered a criminal by law.” She testified, “Women in their 8th or 9th month of pregnancy had salt solutions injected into their wombs to induce abortion. In spite of these brutal efforts, some babies were born alive, in which case the prison guards mercilessly killed the infants by squeezing their necks in front of their mothers. The dead babies were taken away for biological tests. If a mother pleaded for the life of her baby, she was publicly executed under the charge of ‘impure ideology.’”
Kang Chol Hwan is another survivor of the North Korean prison camps. He met with George W. Bush in the Oval Office in June 2005. He’s spoken of how when one prisoner was hanged, “thousands of prisoners were made to form one line and passed by the hanged person and threw stones at the dead body, shouting, ‘Let’s get rid of the people’s traitor.’ And because of throwing so many stones by thousands of prisoners, the faces and muscles were all torn up. Some women with weak heart, they didn’t obey and didn’t throw the stone. Then the officers condemned them, saying your ideology is doubtful. And beat them.”
And those are just a few whose names are known in the West. As the American special envoy for human rights in North Korea stated in a January 2009 report, “The names and stories of most of the approximately 200,000 political prisoners in North Korea are unknown outside of the country.”
A few minutes after the news of the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il flashed across computer screens on Sunday night—Monday morning on the Korean Peninsula—I received an email from a North Korean defector. The man, who is now living in Seoul and is a Christian, was exultant: “God blesses all of us,” he wrote. The defector’s sentiments will be shared by many, especially his long-suffering countrymen.
The best-known aspect of Kim Jong Il’s legacy is a nuclear North Korea. During his rule, which began in 1994 after the death of his father Kim Il Sung, the younger Kim accelerated the nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs initiated by the elder Kim. He went on to proliferate both technologies to Iran, which today would not be on the brink of being a nuclear power if it were not for his assistance.
Kim Jong Il will also be remembered as a master manipulator of the Western powers, especially the U.S. The history of the failed denuclearization agreements says it all. On Pyongyang’s part, it is a history marked by lies, broken promises, and clandestine programs. On the part of the U.S., the history is marked by gullibility and wishful thinking. North Korea’s path to developing nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them would have been far more arduous had Bill Clinton and George W. Bush not accepted Kim Jong Il’s promises of future good behavior in return for economic benefits.
The late dictator leaves another legacy too: presiding over the world’s most repressive modern state. Kim Jong Il’s name belongs on the list of the most evil tyrants of our time.
Second, John Bolton discusses what comes next:
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il’s death opens a period of intense danger and risk, but also potentially enormous opportunity for America and its allies. Kim’s health had obviously been poor for some time, and his regime has worked to ensure an orderly transition to his son, Kim Jong Eun. The Kim family and its supporters, with everything obviously at stake, will work strenuously to convey stability and control. Indeed, the official North Korea news agency has already referred to Jong Eun as “the great successor to the revolutionary cause.”
But the loathsome Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) is not a constitutional monarchy like Britain. While DPRK founder Kim Il Sung was powerful enough to impose his son, no guarantees exist that the North’s military, the real power, will meekly accept rule by his utterly inexperienced grandson.
Under the surface in Pyongyang, the maneuvering has almost certainly already begun. There is no reason whatever to believe that opinion among the military leadership will be unanimous, either to support or oppose the regime’s succession plan. In fact, the early reports are that Kim Jong Il’s death went undisclosed publicly for days, perhaps indicating a power struggle already under way. Many generals may simply not accept that Leader 3.0 is competent or merits their support.
Today’s WSJ is related and called Breaking the Kim Dynasty.
Paul Gessing has posted a link to his year end radio conversation discussing 2011 and previewing 2012. Visit Errors of Enchantment here for more.
Yesterday, Heath Haussamen noted Richardson’s refusal to comment on the grand jury investigation of his conduct:
Former Gov. Bill Richardson refused to comment earlier today on a pending grand jury investigation into an accusation that he had supporters pay off a woman to keep quiet about their alleged extramarital affair.
Richardson was asked about the grand jury probe by KOB-TV’s Gadi Schwartz, who ran into him at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Capitol Report New Mexico’s Rob Nikolewski recorded video of the encounter.
Richardson’s response when Schwartz asked if he had any comment on the probe? “Merry Christmas.” Then the former governor left the building while the reporters followed him.
Visit NMPolitics.net here to view the video.