Wacky Reads for a Surreal Saturday

easter-bunny reading

Good Morning!!

Things are looking a bit surreal to me this morning. I babysat for my nephews last night and they managed to stay up until almost midnight! I sent them to bed around 10PM and they both claimed they couldn’t get to sleep. So I was up till all hours watching some strange kid show–a cartoon version of those “Survivor” reality TV programs. It was veeerrrrry strange. I slept too late, and when I checked the news headlines, I saw lots more strange stuff.

So What’s the deal with North Korea anyway? Kim Jong Un seems even crazier than his dear old dad. Supposedly North Korea is now “entering ‘state of war’ with” South Korea.

North Korea said on Saturday that it was entering a “state of war” with South Korea, following a call to arms by the country’s young leader Kim Jong Un and days of increasingly belligerent rhetoric from the isolated state.

The North’s official news agency KCNA published the joint statement issued by the government, political parties and other organizations.

“From this time on, the North-South relations will be entering a state of war and all issues raised between the North and the South will be handled accordingly,” it said.

The statement also warned that if the U.S. and South Korea carried out a pre-emptive attack, the conflict “will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.”

WTF?!!

According to an unnamed “senior administration official” it’s all a bunch of hooey.

“North Korea is in a mindset of war, but North Korea is not going to war,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer insight into the latest administration thinking on the volatile situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The official said North Korea is doing two things that signal it is not spoiling for war: maintaining continuous and unfettered access to the Kaesong Industrial Complex six miles north of the Demilitarized Zone and by continuing to promote tourists visits to North Korea, even amid its banging of war drums.

“There is pot-banging and chest-thumping, but they have literature attracting tourists that explicitly says pay no attention to all that (public) talk about nuclear war or another kind of war,” the official said.

Kaesong is a hive of business activity and about 200 South Koreans travel there daily. It produces about $2 billion of annual trade and commerce revenue for the North. Many experts consider its fate and status the best signal of North Korea’s hostile intentions.

On Saturday, the North renewed its threat to close the complex, reportedly saying through its state-controlled news agency that references to its ongoing operation as a source of capital “damages our dignity.”

I wonder why this “senior official” felt he/she had to remain anonymous?

Some “analysts” who didn’t feel the need to conceal their identities told NBC News that North Korea[‘s] threats [are] predictable but Kim Jong Un is not.

Analysts said Friday there’s a familiar method to the madness coming out of North Korea, where the rookie supreme leader has put rockets on standby, threatened to “settle accounts” with the U.S., and posed near a chart that appeared to map missile strikes on American cities. On Saturday, North Korea said it had entered a “state of war” against South Korea, according to a statement reported by the north’s official news agency, KCNA.

Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather were also serial saber-rattlers when they headed the secretive regime, and experts said there are clear strategic reasons why the world’s youngest head of state is ramping up the rhetoric now, after little more than a year in power.

But if the bluster is predictable, the results may not be.

Jon Chol Jin / AP
North Koreans punch the air during a rally at Kim Il Sung Square in downtown Pyongyang, North Korea, in support of their leader Kim Jong Un’s call to arms.

North Korea has enhanced its nuclear capabilities and Kim Jong Un has something to prove to his people and the world. Some outside observers are warning that a misstep, or overstep, by Pyongyang could bring north Asia to the brink of war.

Read all about it at the above link.

Kim Jong Un

Finally, at the Lede blog, Robert MacKey has some humorous tweets about the North Korea situation, along with an interview with

B. R. Myers, a North Korea analyst atDongseo University in the South Korean port city of Busan. Mr. Myers, whospent eight years studying the nation’s propaganda for his book “The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters,” answered questions from The Lede on Friday via Gchat. Below is a transcript of the complete conversation, edited for clarity. (The Lede also added links to some of what Mr. Myers wrote, for the benefit of readers who want to know more about the historical context.)

You can read that at the NYT link if you’re interested. The tweets and photos are pretty funny.

Did you know there are 19 doctors in Congress? Only one of them is a Democrat, Jim McDermott of Washington. The rest are pretty much wingnuts. It makes me wonder if going to a doctor even makes much sense. Anyway, there’s a new GOP potential candidate that has been in the news who is supposedly a famous surgeon at Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon! His name is Ben Carson, and he has made some incredibly bizarre comments about gay marriage.

Now he’s apologizing.

Dr. Benjamin Carson, the famed Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, apologized Friday for his “choice of words” and use of examples in discussing gay marriage on Fox News earlier in the week.

During Sean Hannity’s show on Tuesday, when asked about the matter before the Supreme Court, Carson said, “Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.”

The comparison of gays to members of the North American Boy/Man Love Association and those who engage in bestiality set off a backlash of criticism in the media, online and on campus. There is now a petition circulating at Johns Hopkins Medical to have Carson removed as commencement speaker in May at the School of Medicine.

“I think people have completely taken the wrong meaning out of what I was saying,” the 61-year-old surgeon said in a telephone interview Friday. “First of all, I certainly believe gay people should have all the rights that anybody else has. What I was basically saying is that as far as marriage is concerned that has traditionally been between a man and a woman and nobody should be able to change that.”

But despite his “apologies” Carson told Politico that

“Marriage is a very sacred thing and we need to maintain it as a sacred thing. When I say we don’t want to change it or degrade it by calling everything marriage, that’s not aimed at any particular group,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is, the Bible and God have set very specific standards. It’s very clear what’s being said. God doesn’t change, man changes. Our duty is to allow for that change and to still love them and in terms of what happens with them, that’s a decision that’s up to God, that’s not our decision.”

Can anyone explain to me when marriage supposedly was defined? As far as I know, not all that long ago, marriage was opening viewed as an economic contract in which a woman was basically handed over to a man by her father so she could bear children and do servant work for her husband–who basically owned her as property. Marriage is still mostly an economic agreement, and if the definition has changed from slavery to equal partnership, that seems like a good thing. Why don’t any of the TV interviewers ask about that?

Frank from Donnie Darko

Frank from Donnie Darko

Adam Liptak of The New York Times asks the question: Who Wanted to Take the Case on Gay Marriage? Ask Scalia

Why did the Supreme Court agree in December to hear a major same-sex marriage case and then seem to think it had made a terrible mistake on Tuesday when it came time for arguments?

The answer lies in the gap between two numbers. It takes four votes to hear a case and five to decide one….

As it turns out, it would seem that the conservative members of the court, making a calculation that their chances of winning would not improve with time, were behind the decision to take up the volatile subject.

The aha moment came on Tuesday.

After Justice Anthony M. Kennedy suggested that the court should dismiss the case, Justice Antonin Scalia tipped his hand.

“It’s too late for that now, isn’t it?” he said, a note of glee in his voice.

“We have crossed that river,” he said.

That was a signal that it was a conservative grant.

You should read the whole thing if you want to understand what happened, but apparently the conservative justices wanted to hear a gay marriage case. Did they think they’d be able to get away with claiming gay marriage is unconstitutional? Who knows? But now they know that attitudes in the country have shifted dramatically since 2004 when many states were passing same-sex marriage laws and even since 2008 when Obama and Clinton both claimed to oppose marriage equality. It must have been a shock for Scalia to learn that.

Finally, here’s something truly surreal from Chris Cillizza: The best Supreme Court chart ever. The chart is from the Pew Research Center.

Screen-Shot-2013-03-29-at-1.20.42-PM

Less than three in ten people were able to name John Roberts as the current Chief Justice. More than half didn’t know who it was — and they, actually, come out looking great for not knowing. That’s because nearly one in five people named Thurgood Marshall (deceased AND never Chief Justice) while four percent chose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who is, of course, not on the Supreme Court.

Sigh . . .

I know everyone is probably busy today, but if you find some interesting links out there, please post them in the comments. Have a wonderful Spring weekend!!!!


36 Comments on “Wacky Reads for a Surreal Saturday”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. roofingbird says:

    And.. there are aspects of this slavery still around. It wasn’t more than a few years ago, I was looking for a piece of property, and the male realtor refused to talk to me unless I brought my husband.

    The unspoken same sex argument is about real equality of of the partners to each other as much as to society at large. That tears at the whole idea of the submissive woman’s role, and breaks the grip of the patriarch.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Looks like the “baby ruler” of North Korea has played one too many video games. The poor people of his country who have been brainwashed from birth have another 50 years or so of this idiot as leader since he is only 29 yrs old. Imagine, one stupid person who could set the entire region in flames simply because he can!

    The GOP is making much of Dr. Ben Carson. He’s black. He went after Obama at C-PAC and apparently this was enough to propel him into the possible POTUS spotlight since he has been all over the dial as of late spouting the same rancid message put out by the GOP.

    I predict the SC will make some concession to Prop 8 but not sanction anything remotely associated with basic civil rights when it come to gay marriage. Scalia won’t stand for it, Thomas will go along with whatever Scalia wants, Alito and Roberts won’t fold, and Kennedy will stand with them. They are planting the seeds for the 2016 campaign for those candidates today to run on.

    And I am not surprised in the least to hear how few know “who’s who” in government. After watching Jay Leno conduct his “man on the street” interviews over the years it only validates that with as much technology for learning at our fingertips few people have any idea about anything.

    But I bet they can tell you who Taylor Swift is dating,or when Kim Kardashian’s due date will arrive.

    No wonder more morons are emerging as leadership material when so many do not possess a clue as to what they are about. As long as they look, speak, and are considered a “celebrity” there is little interest in the issues at hand.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Roberts won’t vote with Scalia, IMO. He doesn’t want to go down in history as a wingnut hater. He cares about his legacy too much.

      • jawbone says:

        Plus, Roberts has bigger fish to fry (as in making it toast) — the voting rights bill.

        His supporters are trying to get back to Jim Crow, maybe just Jim Crow Lite, but trying desperately to find ways to limit voters who turn out for any opposition to the Republicans.

  4. ecocatwoman says:

    North Korea worries me, especially since they have nuclear weapons. With an unstable leader anything is possible.

    I thought Ben Carson sounded familiar so I googled him. He turns out to be the doctor I thought he was. I never heard the conservative side of him, only raves for his accomplishments as a pediatric neurosurgeon and modest childhood. He was lauded as heroic. I even think he was profiled in Vegetarian Times (he’s 7th Day Adventist). Here’s his Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Carson

    Watched MHP this AM. Pretty good show except for the HRC bashing at the beginning. I guess the bashing from the Left will start soon. I feel stuck in a continuous loop of history repeating itself. She did cover the Pycon conference incident. Here’s a link to the story at Mother Jones: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/03/pycon-2013-sexism-dongle-richards A female tech developer tweeted a sexist, offensive conversation between 2 men sitting behind her, then she blogged about it. One of men lost his job, then she lost her job.

    Good post bb. Hope you get some rest today.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t think they have any nukes that can reach us. I seriously doubt if they’ll use what they have anyway. They’d be bombed into oblivion.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        The worry isn’t for the US but simply setting off a nuclear bomb. The needless & horrendous carnage of innocent people, animals & plants, along with the long lasting devastation. Seriously the word nuclear makes my skin crawl.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, of course. I simply don’t believe they’ll do it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Ben Carson was supposed to give the commencement speech at Johns Hopkins, but now the students want him replaced. He has agreed to withdraw.

      He got a medal of freedom from GWB. He also thinks the theory of evolution is “immoral.”

      This isn’t the first time a graduation address by Carson has caused concern. Last year, about 500 students and faculty at Emory University signed a letter raising concerns about remarks Carson had made attacking the theory of evolution as immoral, although they stopped short of calling on the school to replace him as their commencement speaker.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        I think it’s interesting that the coverage I’d seen & read about him never touched on his political positions nor his ridiculous opinion of evolution. Up to this point everything I’d seem was “glowing.”

    • bostonboomer says:

      As for Ben Carson, if his thinking processes are as disordered as he has sounded in his TV appearances, there is no way in hell I’d take a child to him. There are other neurosurgeons. Vegetarianism is fine and healthy I’m sure, but there are plenty of crazy vegetarians too. The man is a complete wingnut.

    • Fannie says:

      They are just having a hissy fit, and are pissed because nobody is paying them any attention………

    • NW Luna says:

      The Mother Jones story on Adria Richards is disheartening. Basically it’s the old “Hey, women — don’t take misogyny so seriously — can’t you take a joke? You didn’t go down on your knees to avoid hurting our feelings — so you’re fired.”

  5. ecocatwoman says:

    I don’t know if ya’ll’s NPR stations repeat Terry Gross’ shows on the weekends. If they do it will be replaying part of the Chris Hayes interview. I know many of you don’t like him, but I still do. I found the interview interesting & really enjoyed it. Just throwing this out there in case anyone is interested.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I heard part of it, but I’ll probably go listen to the whole thing later on. Thanks for the reminder.

      I can’t imagine who wouldn’t like Chris Hayes. I guess I missed something.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        A couple of folks have said, in response to comments I’d made about him or his show, that they didn’t like him. I just got the impression that he wasn’t particularly popular with some SD readers.

  6. jawbone says:

    Zombie Lie, Cyprus Version — I’m hearing over and over on our “vaunted free press,” aka propaganda arms of the Powers That Be, that Cyprus savings account holders now being wiped out or nearly so were for the most part Russian Mafia-types laundering money, Russian Oligarchs looking for a tax haven (and Romney does not do that?), or, somehow, Cypriots knew their banks were dodgy and deserve to lose their savings (that should play well when Morgan, Citi, other Too Big To Bail banksters let the gov’t raid our savings accounts when the next or so bank crisis hits and we have to “save the economy” in any way necessary, ways developed in secret and passed in rush legislation….).

    Anyway, several articles have shown that, guess what? Cyprus was was not money laudering; it was offering slightly higher interest rates to attract deposits. As of now, most really big depositors had access to British branches of Laiki and BofC, and somehow managed to get a lot of their money out. (I need to find links for this info; I read it mostly on econ blog comments.) Retirees and small to medium businesses had their operating expense money in their accounts. They will probably go bankrupt.

    Here’s one example of a retiree, this one a Cypriot who went to Australia, built up a small business, saved his money, and retired to Cyprus to care for his 90 year old mother with about a million Australian dollars in Laiki. He was told by his bank manager friend there were NO clouds on the horizon. Next morning he woke with no access to his money. I’d heard a similar story on the BBC of a British retiree who’d lost his life’s savings.

    Yves Smith wrote this about the Cyprus situation — ,a href=”http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/03/repeat-after-me-cyprus-is-was-not-a-tax-haven.html”>Cyprus was an international banking center. Period. Nowhere even close to the Cayman Island level for tax haven. It was not a tax haven — unless FL is a tax haven for retirees from NY or NJ because it doesn’t have an income tax. However, many Russians had close ties to Cyprus from the Cold War era, so, yes, there were Russian savers. But our nation is using this, as is the EU, to demonize Russia, which is not playing the lap dog role to our hegemonic empire.

    Back on 3/19, Atrios linked to this inteview with Chris Pissiardes, a Cypriot Economics Prize Winner. Prof. Pissiardes noted no one could name any Russian dirty money, and the EU central bank had been auditing the two big Cypiot banks.

    I’m posting this because we need to pay special attention to anything our MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) chooses to emphasize. And to what they ignore, which is much harder to find. In this case there is information from some media and from overseas sources.

    Just remember: We’re forced to swim in the information pool the MCM (emphasis on the Corporate) chooses us to be in. We have to look elsewhere for the information they don’t want us to know about.

    I’d appreciate comments from anyone who’s found other sources undermining this Zombig Lie.

    • jawbone says:

      Typo at end — Zombig Lie, while huge, is Zombie Lie.

      Also, I hadn’t seen the Russian doll Cyprus banks cartoon when I posted. And there it is: simplified and clarified– Bad Russians equal Bad Banks. Ack!

    • quixote says:

      Just because the MCM lie all the time doesn’t mean there can’t be some truth mixed in there somewhere.

      Cyprus has an economy about the size of Scranton, PA (from Krugman). Six times its GDP was parked in its banking system. That, to put it mildly, is impossible with nothing but legitimate deposits.

      Also, Cyprus is a much bigger investor in Russia (and only Russia) than the hundreds of times bigger economy of Germany. That’s also not possible if those were all legitimate Cypriot bank accounts.

      That’s not to say richer Cypriots aren’t getting screwed by their country’s pathetic leadership. They shouldn’t be. The fix should apply to the money launderers. But that would take time and once you’re smack dab in a crisis, time is what you don’t have. So the crimes get compounded.

      Somebody pointed out that Cyprus wasn’t laundering money like the Seychelles. More like, say, Delaware, which provides criminally favorable terms for incorporation, so practically all US companies are headquartered there, even whan all they have there is a PO box, and the rest of the country gets screwed.

  7. ecocatwoman says:

    Totally OT but this interview with South African reggae artist Nkulee Dube got me movin’ this morning. There’s just something about reggae: http://www.npr.org/2013/03/30/175583890/in-south-africa-a-reggae-legacy-lives-on I’m an old American Bandstand Rate the Record girl – it’s got a good beat. Sadly I tried to find her music on Amazon & Pandora – nothing.

  8. Delphyne had a hell of a link on her Facebook…I hope she post it here. (Hint….hint.) 😉