by baldilocks

Was Bush right? It depends, of course, on what the topic is.

Zero Hedge points to Statista and YouGov polls containing the following information:

Americans have consistently identified ISIS as the biggest threat to their nation across multiple polls. Traditional foes, such as the countries making up George W. Bush’s infamous “Axis Of Evil”, have been pushed into the background by the rise of non-state actors like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. In recent years however, Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes that the threat presented by some of America’s traditional enemies has started to manifest itself once again. Russia’s annexation of Crimea came as a reality check to the Obama administration while as recently as last Saturday, North Korea conducted a ballistic missile test.

YouGov conducted a poll to find out which countries Americans perceive as their nation’s biggest enemies. North Korea has continued to make headlines even after that missile launch with news emerging earlier this week that Kim-Jong-un’s half brother was allegedly poisoned in an airport in Malaysia. Both incidents have illustrated the unpredictability of the nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang and it comes as little surprise that 57 percent of Americans consider North Korea their enemy.

Recall that George W. Bush named Iraq, North Korea and Iran as the Axis of Evil. In spite of the big headlines that feature Russia as the biggest Bad Guy, the Russians come in sixth on chart–which, of course, does not mean that they aren’t a bigger threat than is perceived by the polled. (Aside: while reading all the reportage about Russia today, I briefly felt 25 years-old again, but my hair color is telling a different story.)

Iran came in second. Syria and Iraq came in third and fourth, respectively–ISIS; and Afghanistan is fifth.

Does the American public have a better handle on who America’s enemies are than their leaders do, both of the recent past and the present? Time will tell. But I think that these polls may show one thing: that Mainstream Media propaganda isn’t as effective as it may seem to those of us who lament its existence. That’s cause for hope.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done on February 2017! Follow her on Twitter.

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baldilocks

By John Ruberry

This year could end up being the most tumultuous year since 1968. During that year there was of course a heated presidential election, the Democrats nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who represented the status quo, one that was not especially popular. The Republicans chose a former vice president, Richard Nixon, whose critics decried as someone who presented a dark vision of America. Sound familiar?Chicago Police SUV

Missing of course in 2016 is a third-party presidential candidate who can win electoral votes; in 1968 avowed segregationist and renegade Democrat George Wallace fed on racial discord–and there is plenty of that this year, most of it brought on by leftist groups such as Black Lives Matter, which seems very keen on protesting the rare shootings of African-American criminal suspects but is largely on silent on the daily carnage in cities such as Chicago, where so far this weekend over thirty people, most of them black, have been shot. In most of these shootings it’s very likely that other blacks pulled the trigger.

What is largely forgotten about the 1968 election is that it was the first presidential contest since Reconstruction in which a southern blacks voted in large numbers.

We’ve progressed far.

The penultimate year of the turbulent 1960s also brought us the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War, North Korea’s seizure of the USS Pueblo, the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King–the anger from the latter caused dozens of deadly riots in American cities–the May Insurrection in France, and the turmoil of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

John ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

I’m sure I overlooked something.

This year has seen several deadly Islamist terrorist attacks, including last month’s Orlando night club shooting and the Nice, France truck killings, two assassination tragedies–one in Dallas and the other in Louisiana–where multiple police officers were killed, “Brexit,” Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the attempted coup in Turkey, and of course the frenzied US presidential campaign.

Remember: We still have five more months in 2016.

On the positive end, the Apollo 8 mission brought the moon within reach at the end of 1968.

Let’s hope 2016 ends with good news.

Oh, it was also in late 1968 when Star Trek’s “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode aired. Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura delivered American television’s first kiss between a black and a white, and this embrace was not an innocent peck on the cheek.

As Mitch Albom wrote in Tuesdays With Morrie, “Love wins. Always.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. And yes, he was alive in 1968.

Michael Corleone: Senator? You can have my answer now, if you like. My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.

The Godfather Part II 1974

The North Koreans are once again making threats, holding wargames and firing missiles into the sea.

The purpose of these moves is to remind us of their power and cause us to quake in fear.

Given these facts here is my suggested public response to these provocative moves by North Korea

Nothing.

No statements by the press, no interviews on the news warning of the danger, no diplomats entreating China to make sure North Korea behaves.

To be sure our military should pay attention, the actual Generals and soldiers whose job it is to make sure the North Koreans don’t actually invade the South or to make sure no North Korean Missile hits Japan or anywhere else.

But the reality is the North Korean crime family is only sustained by their patron China and will not attack without their permission or by their command.  We need to keep an eye on their attempts to sell their bombs but we should pay them no more attention than the FBI should a neighborhood crime boss, small time crooks trying to make themselves look big.

They just signed a two trade and scientific-technical development protocols.

No, the Cuban communists and the North Korean are not in the States Sponsors of Terrorism list.

Yes, they have been caught playing footsie with 240 metric tons‘ worth of Soviet-era weapons and fighter jets hidden under sacks of sugar at least once (maybe attempting a second try), while negotiating the U.S. easing the so-called “embargo”.

Yes, a stolen Hellfire missile was shipped to Europe via commercial carrier in early 2014 (again, while the Obama administration was finalizing its easement of relations with the Communist dictatorship), and months later, in June, “Lockheed Martin officials realized the missile was missing” but is likely in Cuba.

Yes, Cuba and North Korea officials have been visiting each other recently,

In June 2015 Raúl Castro hosted Kang Sok Su, the secretary of international relations for the North Korean Workers’ Party. In September Mr. Kim received Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel in Pyongyang. Cuba’s state-owned newspaper Granma reported that Mr. Kim sent “an affectionate greeting” to the Castro boys during the visit. It also said that Messrs. Díaz-Canel and Kim discussed the two countries’ close relations and mutual cooperation.

And now they have put it on paper, for “the transaction of goods through the barter mode of exchange.” Makes you wonder,

Maybe this new “scientific-technical development” protocol involves the stolen U.S. Hellfire missile that Castro refuses to return, despite Obama’s endless diplomatic overtures and economic concessions.

Also in the news today,

Meanwhile, Japan has placed its military on high alert today over the possibility of a North Korean ballistic missile launch.

What could possibly go wrong?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

[Spoilers ahead. Proceed accordingly.]

It was Christmas Day, the gifts were opened, brunch was done, and I have watched The Princess Bride and A Christmas Story enough times I can lip-synch them, but I felt like watching something.

Of course, I had to watch The Interview.

Mind you, for as long as I can remember, I have made it a point to watch/read banned films/books. The Interview is available on YouTube, my TV can play YouTubes, so I plunked down $6.

It was worth it. It’s a very funny serious movie.

Claudia Rosett found The Interview

crude, vulgar, silly, tedious at times and crammed with what we might politely call locker-room gags, presumably meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator of modern pop culture.

I’m cool with that.

But,

as a graphic jab at North Korea’s totalitarian system, including its third-generation current tyrant, Kim Jong Un, The Interview — despite its lavish dose of rubbish — is a standout achievement. It is a burlesque laced with moments of truth that anyone can understand.

Rich Klein finds that “The Interview” really does subvert North Korea’s regime.

Much has been said about The Interview’s scene where Kim Jong Un gets blown up to smithereens. The real-life Kim probably threw a hissy fit over that, but what should keep him awake at night is the interview itself, which celebrity talk show host Dave Skylark (played by James Franco) starts with pre-scripted questions and hits gold by asking

why the country can spend billions of dollars on a nuclear weapons program but needs $100 million in UN aid each year to feed its people.

Kim (played by the very funny Randall Park), a master manipulator of the media, had wooed Skylark with everything from orgies to Soviet tanks in preparation to the interview. It reminded me of Fidel Castro taking Barbara Walters for a ride back in the day, by land,

and by sea,

in preparation for Barbara Walters’s interviews of Fidel Castro (you can watch the 20/20 here).

In real life, however, Barbara refers to Fidel as “charismatic, magnetic,” so she didn’t do an interview like The Interview.

Rich Klein, again,

Think of the movie as Chernobyl for the digital age. Just as the nuclear catastrophe in the Soviet Union and the dangerously clumsy efforts to hide it exposed the Kremlin’s leadership as inept and morally bankrupt, overseeing a superpower rusting from the inside, so does The Interview risk eroding the myths, fabrications and bluster that keep the Kim dynasty in power.

Those who know how ought to dub and make the Interview available in North Korea, and in every country where tyrants thrive on personality cults. Venezuela. Cuba. And the stops in the Jennifer Lopez dictator tour.

(The Interview has plenty of foul language, sexual situations, gore and violence, so you do not want your children around when it’s playing.)

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Don Corleone: . And if by some chance an honest man like yourself made enemies they would become my enemies. And then, they would fear you.

The Godfather 1072

Do you need a last-minute Christmas gift for someone who is hard to buy for? The North Korean Government has the perfect gift for you!

The Government of North Korea would like to thank the people at Sony & Paramount for making this new source of foreign capital possible.

Incidentally Sony, when murderous bastards try to intimidate you, this is how you respond.

Olimometer 2.52

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By baldilocks

Over at American Thinker, Rick Moran comments upon the latest acts of devotion in the bromance between former NBA player/infamous weirdo Dennis Rodman and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. This time, Rodman has enlisted other former NBA players to join him for an All-sort-of-Star game in a place chock full of prison and labor camps; a place where electricity and food are reserved for the nomenklatura, or whatever the Korean-language designation is for the elite of the Hermit Kingdom.

Hall of Fame basketball player Dennis Rodman didn’t much like the questions about his “basketball diplomacy” with North Korea coming from CNN host Chris Cuomo. So the former Detroit Pistons “bad boy” lit up the screen with a screaming tirade directed at Cuomo who only wanted to know if Rodman would bring up the case of American Kenneth Bae held for more than a year by the North Koreans for his missionary work.

From Mediate:

Let us know why this man is being held?’ If you can help them, will you take the opportunity?” Cuomo asked.

“The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand — if you understand what Kenneth Bae did,” Rodman said with a pause, then added “Do you understand what he did? In this country?”

“What did he do?” Cuomo said. “You tell me.”

“You tell me,” Rodman shouted. “You tell me. Why is he held captive?”

“They haven’t released any charges,” Cuomo said. “They haven’t released any reason.”

“I would love to speak on this,” Rodman said, again waving Smith off.

“Go ahead,” Cuomo urged.

Instead, Rodman went off on Cuomo for the remainder of the interview, screaming at him to recognize the sacrifice being made by his fellow players.

The video is available at both links.

Here’s the thing: why would anyone expect a guy with demonstrable mental issues to care about political prisoners or tyrannies? And like all too many professional athletes–like the other sheep he’s leading–he cares only about being kowtowed to–since retirement, not much of that anymore for any of these guys. Enter the basketball fan, Kim Jong Un.

So now, in Rodman’s warped mind, Kim is his friend and anyone who has angered his friend is an enemy and must be wrong, morality be damned. It’s gangster logic and lunatic reasoning, the two not necessarily being mutually exclusive.

Rick says that Rodman’s mental stability is questionable. No it isn’t. He’s nuts and has been for a long time.

Rodman’s first team was the Detroit Pistons, whose coach, the late Chuck Daly, was a surrogate father to him. Rumor has it that Coach Daly would make sure that his All-Star defense-man took his medication. But after Daly retired and Rodman was traded, the latter seemed to come off the spool and, if the rumors about the medication are true, there remained no one to keep him accountable in that area. In the years following came the tattoos, the piercings, the dyed hair, the off-the-wall behavior…and the wedding dress. (Warning: have eye bleach handy, though he looks strangely…pretty. Strangely, being the operative word.)

So we have a former athlete with a suspected personality disorder leading several other former athletes of equal political ignorance and arrogance to a charity benefit in North Korea–probably the worst country to ever be caught in either accidentally or on purpose. One wonders if these scarily uninformed and uncaring men are being lulled into becoming prisoners themselves. Wouldn’t that be a great propaganda coup for the ever more unhinged Kim Jong Un? Or maybe they are being groomed for something even more sinister…

They are pretty hungry over there.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel,Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in January 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

GoFundMe: Arlen’s Harem
GoFundMe: The Kenya Project

As I continue to look at North Korea story I find two things going on.

First I find myself yawning. North Korea’s “economy” is based on two things, Nukes & Blackmail. What they do is every few years they make threats until people give them money and then they stop for a while. It shocks me that nobody seems to have noticed.

Even if the current leader is to use the technical term: “Batshit Crazy” he knows if there is an actual “war war” the 2nd thing that will happen is he will be blown into so many pieces he’ll be used as a pattern in a Mensa puzzle contest, and if we are talking a nuclear exchange we might not wait until after the NK Army is destroyed.

Every single North Korean general knows this, in the same way that every single Egyptian general knows who actually won the 1973 war. Every general in the north walks on the head of a pin, he needs to keep himself from getting executed by a madman without allowing that same madman to do something that not only gets him killed but removes his comfortable (By North Korean) standards.

So North Korea will push, and push and push but won’t cross the line, because they day they do the “Kim Jong” dynasty becomes the “Kim Gone” dynasty. If anything happens it will be by accident.

But the second thing I do when I watch all the talking heads speak on TV saying China holds the key to a solution to the “Korea” problem is wonder: “Are they really that stupid?

When will people learn this is not a problem for China, as far as China is concerned this is what North Korea is for.

I know people like to pretend otherwise but let me spell it out for you: All the trade, all the exchanges and all the other little things not withstanding; China is our enemy. It’s been our enemy for 60+ years and it remains our enemy today..

This is the truth.

China acts against us through it’s actions on the net, through its diplomacy and through its support of some of the real nasties of the world. The express purpose? Drain us of treasure & keep us busy.

And not only keep us busy and worried but to make us dependent on them. After all if we need China to help keep North Korea in check we certainly have to keep them happy so we must keep quiet about human rights, military muscle flexing, trade issues and supporting nations like Sudan.

We and the rest of the west are pretty much being played as we are every few years. North Korea will be used like this by China until they think they are no longer of use to distract us or unless they think it will push Japan to the point were they decide to re-arm.

The wild card for China isn’t: Will an Obama administration fight to defend South Korea if North Korea tries to invade? (Answer, No Obama would without question allow them to be conquered and enslaved) the wild card is the fact the Japanese are clever enough to become a nuclear & biological weapon power in pretty much 17 minutes and that includes time enough for a quick snack.

It is that and nothing else that restrains China and thus North Korea.

So if it was up to me I’d ignore everything NK says, refuse to pay them a thing, let them play with their toys and strike if and when necessary if they try to spread their technology to other enemies.

Once the game is over it will be interesting to see what China decides to do with the north but I refuse to lose a second of sleep over it.

Update: More Hot Air from North Korea at HotAir

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Tuesday and for the first time in 3 weeks the $300 paycheck stands an excellent chance of not only being made but being made early. I only need 5 readers willing to kick in $20 today and the thermometer can be retired until next week.

I won’t be watching the blog much today because of my Anniversary but not having to worry about the paycheck for the rest of the week would dandy.

Your call:

My youngest came down the stairs just as he was crashing for bed to give the good news that Kim Jon Il, dictator is dead.

It’s a nice thing but I’d guess it means very little.

Unlike Saddam and Gaddafi his death was not caused by either a US invasion or a popular revolution supported by the west that means the people of North Korea having any kind of say in what happens is highly unlikely.

Let’s go right down the line who WILL have the final say in North Korea?

It is unlikely to be his son Kim Jong Un. As the successor to an absolute ruler this is by nature the most vulnerable time for him. Also as a youngest son the question of if his older siblings have connections that might give him grief is up in the air. So the next people to check with is….

The North Korean Army. they are the only group in the country that is both well fed and armed so what they say will go. HotAir notes that there is a problem between the haves and the have nots even there.

How loyal will the military be to new supreme honcho Kim Jong-un? On the one hand, the old guard was reportedly fulsomely obsequious towards him when the regime started rolling him out last year as the heir apparent. Could be that they were acting that way simply to avoid being sent to Camp 22 by his pop if they didn’t, but it could also be that his pedigree as a Kim is enough to warrant absolute devotion. Remember, this is a country so deeply, insanely cultish in its worship of the leader that Kim Il-Sung — Kim Jong-Il’s father, and a man who’s been dead for nearly 20 years — is technically still president.

The Koreans have been subject to this cult for long enough that those alive today likely do not remember a time before the cult. (In a country where the people are starving to death I don’t suspect we see a lot of octogenarians outside of the elites).

Bottom line if the Military wants something they will bet it unless a veto is imposed, but who could impose a veto on the 4th largest military in the world? Simple…

China. A lot of people forget that the only reason there IS a North Korea is because Chinese troops poured over the border to push us back. With the fall of the Soviet Union it is safe to say that nothing happens in North Korea without the permission and/or approval of China. I would go venture as far as to say that China likely has been the real people running the show for a while. Not only does it allow for a positive contrast but any mischief that China wants to do internationally can be done through NK giving them plausible deniability.

My thought? China will use the situation in North Korea to it’s fullest to achieve two immediate goals.

1. Keep the west off-balance. Western nations will come hat in hand to ask China to help keep Korea “Stable” meaning “Not falling apart and attacking the south.” There is no danger of this as the NK Army and elites exist only as long as China allows them to but western nations will still give China concessions to make sure.

2. Wukan? Never heard of it? As long as the Korean peninsula is in crisis the west is going to totally ignore the revolt in Wukan. China will play this to the max using the Korean situation to keep the west from making demands concerning the rebellious city (in exchange for their “help” in Korea) while giving the western press something else to think about. My prediction? This means that NK will be up in the air up at least until China finishes off Wukan, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese helped things along for the late Kim to provide this distraction.

The only big winner is ….Jon Huntsman as it highlights the value of his experience in China but other than his campaign, you won’t see any kind of benefit for anyone else.

of worst overall president of the last 50 years from him.

One should never discount the unlimited capacity for imbecility in any single person but even I find it hard to attribute this to stupidity rather than evil.

Glenn Reynolds has called Jimmy Carter the “Best case scenario” for Barack Obama but no matter what I think of him I sincerely believe President Obama would never do something this evil.