Bad year for despots, dictators and the despicable

This time, it’s Kim Jong Il.

The North Korean despot and reliable punchline has died at 69. RIP and exit ASAP, Mr. Jong.

Before, it was Muammar Gaddafi. Any way you spell it, the Libyan madman is dead and left in an unmarked and mostly unmourned grave.

And before that it was Osama bin Laden. American forces finally caught up with bin Laden and left him dead and on the bottom of the ocean.

And of course, there are also the Middle East dictators, tyrants and murderers who were forced from power during the Arab Spring. They ruled for decades and killed, stole and terrorized.

All in all, as 2011 draws to a close, so have the lives and crimes of several evil men who wished the USA and its people harm. While it’s in poor taste to celebrate the death of anyone, few tears will be shed for these despicable characters.

How does this impact the world, war and peace and the 2012 election? It should offer promise, if also danger, to the world, and somehow, it seems clear this is continued good news for President Obama, who played a large role in some of these departures.

Thune runs to the front

Members of the Mount Runmore team that competed in the ACLI Capital Challenge in Washington, D.C., Wednesday were, from left, Becky Engelstad, Erin Klein, Jon Abdnor, AshLee Strong, Dakota Bixler, Sen. John Thune, Dave Schwietert and Jim Long. (Submitted photo)

Sen. John Thune was once again the fastest member of Congress in the ACLI Capital Challenge, a three-mile footrace at Hains Point, which is in East Potomac Park in southwest Washington. The race was held Wednesday.

Thune finished in a time of 18 minutes and 54 seconds, 25 seconds faster than he ran the race in 2010. He finished first among members of Congress in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Thune sat out the 2008 race because he had recently had knee surgery.

He said former Sen. John Sunnu, of New Hampshire, put his success into perspective a few years ago.

Being the fastest member of Congress, “that’s like being the best surfer in Kansas,” Sunnu told him, Thune recalled with a laugh during a phone interview with The Daily Republic.

See more on Thune’s run to the front in Tuesday’s Daily Republic.

While he was on the phone with us, Thune offered a few comments on the evolving story on the American raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Thune said while details change, it was a great moment for America.

“It was still a remarkable operation,” he said. “It got the results we wanted: We took bin Laden out.”

Thune said he’s not surprised the initial story, which said that bin Laden was armed, there was an extensive firefight and that his wife was killed when she was used as a human shield, turned out to be filled with errors and was later corrected.

“There’s always going to be a certain amount of that,” he said. “Sometimes you get out a little bit ahead of the story, need to let the facts catch up.”

Thune said he feels the success of the mission will impact American policies toward Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as interrogation strategies and detention policies for years down the road.

Do you want to see the photos?

Is it important to you to see a photo of Osama bin Laden with a bullet in his forehead?

Or is President Obama’s word that the world’s most wanted terrorist died at the hands of a Navy SEALs attack good enough for you? In other words, do you need to see the death certificate a week after Obama finally released his birth certificate?

The pic has been described as gory and gruesome by the people who have seen it. The problem is, apparently, that other photos that were taken, including some after bin Laden’s body was washed and prepared for burial at sea, don’t look as much like earlier images we have seen of the terrorist mastermind.

I admit to curiousity and would probably look at the photo or photos. Do you want to see them?

A death worth cheering?

As news spread that Osama bin Laden had been killed by American forces Sunday, some were cheering, toasting the terrorist’s demise and posting celebratory notes online.

There were reports of loud noises across Mitchell Sunday night and many of them seem tied to the news of bin Laden’s death.

Was that proper? Should America and our allies be pleased that Osama is dead and by our hands? He repeatedly expressed his hatred of our nation and people and masterminded attacks on the United States that killed about 3,000 of our people, most of them civilians who had done nothing to him.

I admit to feeling good, almost giddy, at reports of his death. Should we regret such emotions? Is the death of any human a thing to mourn?

Or was this justice for a terrorist, a hate-filled man who murdered innocent people?

Here’s the story from The Washington Post: