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Tags: North Korea

Cue Rockwell’s ‘I Always Feel Like . . . Somebody’s Watching Me!’



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Today’s Morning Jolt, the last of the week, features an unexpected Republican speaker at the Davos World Economic Forum, the problem with the mostly enjoyable new action film, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and a feeling somebody’s watching Marco Rubio.

Pretty cool picture, sent by Marco Rubio’s office, from his overseas trip that included a visit to South Korea and the DMZ:

A North Korean soldier takes a picture of Senator Marco Rubio through the window as Rubio stands in a conference room in the De-militarized Zone between North and South Korea.

Yeah, that photo’s going in some intelligence file somewhere.

UPDATE: I hang my 80’s music-fan head in shame; the headline originally said, “I gotta feeling . . . somebody’s watching me” when the lyric is “I always feel like . . . somebody’s watching me.” I guess I’m not as astute on this as I thought I was; apparently I’m just an average man . . . with an average life.

Tags: Marco Rubio , North Korea

Fluff Stories Conveniently Distract from the Government Failures Around Us



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From today’s Morning Jolt

Forget the Rest of the World; President Personally Calls Some Athlete You Never Heard Of Before

Hey, remember North Korea? They’re detaining a U.S. citizen.

Unless the Syrian rebels figured out some way to fake the presence of Sarin in the bloodstream of some volunteers, the Syrian regime used chemical weapons and crossed the red line… and no one can come up with a way to demonstrate the consequences of crossing that line.

Oh, and the guys we may soon intervene to help, the Syrian rebels, may have just tried to shoot down a Russian airliner.

Remember Boston?

But U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) told ABC News yesterday that the FBI is also looking into “persons of interest” in the U.S. possibly linked to the Boston bombings.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said he’s spoken with the FBI about the probe into possible trainers the brothers had.

“Are they overseas in the Chechen region or are they in the United States?” he said. “In my conversations with the FBI, that’s the big question. They’ve casted a wide net both overseas and in the United States to find out where this person is. But I think the experts all agree that there is someone who did train these two individuals.”

Remember Boston, again?

State lawmakers have launched an investigation into whether the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings improperly received public benefits.

Sources who have seen the 500 pages of documents sent to the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight told News Center 5’s Janet Wu that the Tsarnaev family — including the parents of the two bombing suspects, the two suspects themselves, their sisters, the widow of the suspect killed and their child — received “every conceivable public benefit available out there.”

Remember the economy?

We’re still stuck in the muck.

That’s the conclusion to draw from the new report on gross domestic product. The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, which was an improvement from the weak 0.4 percent of the final months of 2012… We’re muddling along at basically the same pace we’ve been at for nearly four straight years of this dismal recovery, with growth too slow to make up the lost economic ground from the 2008-2009 recession.”

National debt? $ 16,756,644,393,707.05,as of Friday. (That’s $16.7 trillion.)

Remember Obamacare?

In total, it appears that there will be 30 million to 40 million people damaged in some fashion by the Affordable Care Act—more than one in 10 Americans. When that reality becomes clearer, the law is going to start losing its friends in the media, who are inclined to support the president and his initiatives. We’ll hear about innocent victims who saw their premiums skyrocket, who were barred from seeing their usual doctor, who had their hours cut or lost their insurance entirely—all thanks to the faceless bureaucracy administering a federal law.

With all of this going on, guess what the top story was on Memeorandum, measuring what bloggers and news sites are writing about?

An NBA player coming out of the closet as gay. Wait, there’s more:

A groundbreaking pronouncement from NBA veteran Jason Collins — “I’m gay” — reverberated Monday through Washington, generating accolades from lawmakers on Twitter and a supportive phone call from President Barack Obama.

Hours after Collins disclosed his sexuality in an online article, Obama reached out by phone, expressing his support and telling Collins he was impressed by his courage, the White House said.

Collins, 34, becomes the first active player in one of four major U.S. professional sports leagues to come out as gay. He has played for six teams in 12 seasons, including this past season with the Washington Wizards, and is now a free agent.

This president can’t get squat done about North Korea or Syria, and so he doesn’t want us to focus on those far-off lands. His policies have done diddlysquat for most of the long-term unemployed. He’s not interested in throwing people off public assistance, even when they don’t deserve it, and he wants to insist that every terror attack is a one-time occurrence, instead of connected bits of an international ideological movement dedicated to killing Americans. Obamacare’s a mess, and he’s hoping you don’t notice. The debt continues to increase, even with the alleged horrors of sequestration.

“God, gays and guns.” That’s what he’s got left. And that’s what he hopes stays on your mind, for as many days between now and November 2014 as possible.

Tags: North Korea , Syria , Economy , Debt , Barack Obama , Boston Marathon Bombing , Obamacare

Dennis Rodman, the Kissinger of Our Time



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The first Morning Jolt of the week features some good news on the search for a cure for AIDS, a few recommendations on folks to keep an eye on in the political online world, and then this… utterly bizarre bit of weekend news:

Shocking News: Dennis Rodman Meets With North Koreans! Also, Dennis Rodman Is Still Alive!

This weekend was dominated by perhaps the very weirdest of news:

In his first interview since returning to the U.S. from an unprecedented visit to North Korea last week, former NBA star Dennis Rodman said he bears a message for President Obama from the country’s oppressive leader, Kim Jong Un.

“He wants Obama to do one thing: Call him,” Rodman told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.” “He said, ‘If you can, Dennis – I don’t want [to] do war. I don’t want to do war.’ He said that to me.”

The athlete also offered Kim some diplomatic advice for potential future talks with President Obama.

“[Kim] loves basketball. And I said the same thing, I said, ‘Obama loves basketball.’ Let’s start there,” Rodman said.

Rodman’s comments come just days after the basketball star shocked the world with an unexpected trip to Pyongyang, North Korea, becoming the first known American to publicly meet with the mysterious Kim since he assumed command of the totalitarian nation after the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il in 2011.

This is one of those news stories I hate, because the news itself is so spectacularly absurd, it’s almost impossible to mock.

Almost.

Boy, quite the “get” there, huh, George Stephanopolous? You advised Clinton and anchor Good Morning America, and now you have to treat the NBA’s equivalent to Ruby Rhod like he’s the second coming of Henry Kissinger. You know, back in 2008, we mocked Obama as a “celebrity.” Now we’ve reached the point where guys who can’t qualify for Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice are running around the world holding summits with the world’s most dangerous men. It’s enough to leave you yearning for the gravitas and seriousness of Jesse Jackson’s freelance diplomacy.

Next week, Scottie Pippin tries to talk down Bashir Assad, and Phil Jackson is supposed to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, because talking the Iranians out of their nuclear program will be easier than picking up the pieces of what’s left of the Lakers after this year.

You should have stuck it out with him, Carmen Electra! Anyone could have seen this man was going places!

The entire bizarre spectacle left Bethany Mandel fuming:

Upon leaving the country, Rodman promised that Kim would have a “friend for life” and declared that Kim Jong-un was an “awesome guy” and that his father and grandfather, other homicidal leaders of the country, were “great leaders.”

What could have prompted this effusiveness from Rodman? Despite the country’s total lack of infrastructure, freedom and food supply, enormous shows and basketball matches were put together for Rodman, the Harlem Globetrotters and their entourage. It’s not likely Rodman was aware of the dire situation for most North Koreans given that as he boarded his flight he tweeted about looking forward to meeting South Korean pop star Psy. Even as he was about to enter the country, Rodman couldn’t differentiate between the poverty-striken North and the affluent and capitalist South.

Many stories in the news media of the visit included reports of the human rights situation in the country. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer declared Rodman achieved a “diplomatic triumph,” however a report from his own network told a different story:

It was unclear whether Rodman, who is accompanied by Globetrotters Bull Bullard, Buckets Blakes and Moose Weekes, will be taken to North Korea’s countryside, where aid groups say malnutrition is rampant.

According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds of thousands of people remain enslaved in prison camps, which are “notorious for horrific living conditions and abuse.”

It appears the North Koreans provided the group with “a feast” amidst a reported famine

She points out that the silver lining is that North Korea’s brutality is back in the headlines again.

One other upside? For once, we can’t blame the Obama administration for going over and treating one of the world’s most ruthless regimes as if they’re hunky dory. Unlike some people we know…

All in all, the trip represents an opportunity missed: why couldn’t the North Koreans keep Rodman?

Finally, maybe this can all be chalked up to sleepless nights: “North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un is a new father after his wife secretly gave birth to a child that intelligence officials believe could emerge as the communist dynasty’s fourth hereditary dictator.”

Tags: George Stephanopolous , North Korea

North Korea Blows Up Chance to Dominate the News Cycle



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The last Morning Jolt of the week features polling news and more Rosen, but begins with last night’s big news . . .

North Koreans Launch New Three-Stooge Rocket

I love it when “Korean Peninsula Tensions” stories turn out like this . . . and dread the day they don’t:

North Korea launched a multistage rocket Friday morning, again defying countries that want it to stop pursuing advanced weapons, but it reportedly blew up less than two minutes into flight and parts crashed in the Yellow Sea off South Korea.

The rocket took off around 7:39 a.m. local time from a new launch facility in the country’s northwest corner and flew south towards Japan’s Ryuku Islands, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.

About 90 seconds into flight, roughly the time its first stage should have burned out and second stage kicked in, the rocket flared brightly and apparently exploded, according to ABC News, which cited U.S. defense officials. Parts fell into water near South Korea’s Jeju Island, South Korean media reported.

Intel bonanza, people!

So why did they do it? CNN suggests too much upside, too little downside:

The United States and its allies had been if anything unambiguous with their thoughts on the launch. So just why did Pyongyang go ahead with the launch? There is no shortage of answers or theories to that question, but many analysts who follow the country say the regime simply does not have that much to lose, and thus need not weigh much in the way of costs versus benefits going forward.

“How much more isolated can you get?” asks James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The United Nations has sanctioned North Korea many times over for its provocative acts of the past, and the country’s largest economic and political benefactor China, is unlikely to support any additional penalties at the Security Council this time. “There may be some financial sanctions that the United States and its friends can unilaterally apply, but this is already by a long way the most isolated country on Earth,” Acton said. “The truth is that our ability to inflict significant costs on North Korea is not all that large.”

The timing of the launch was not coincidental, and that too played into the North Korean calculus. For years, North Korea has been planning to mark 2012 as a year in which it would show the world it has become a great and prosperous nation. In homage to the centenary of the country’s founder Kim ill Sung, his son and successor Kim Jong-Il had ordered the launch of the satellite around the birthday of Kim Il Sung on April 15.

I would note that when we keep offering them food aid in response to tantrums, well . . . they seem to sense that we’ll always come around and capitulate sooner or later.

Zero Hedge: “North Korea is redefining the term, ‘minuteman’.”

Patrick Kronin, Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security, remarked dryly, “Next time, we should not have to rely on North Korean technical incompetence for our security.”

The endlessly irreverent Duchess Rebecca: “Imagining Kim Jong-Un sitting alone, crying, listening to ‘Rocket Man’ on repeat.”

Chris Albon: “Dear Kim, Angry Birds Space is not a rocket guidance system.”

Cuffy Meh: “CNN guy just said the people of North ‘Carolina’ are starving.”

Well, maybe the barbeque hasn’t been served yet.

John Noonan: “So nice to be an Air Force ICBM vet tonight, a stark and cheerful reminder that our missiles actually work.”

I’d just add, may we never have to demonstrate that to the world.

Andy Levy: “C’mon, NoKo, this isn’t rocket science!”

Cameron Gray: “That North Korean rocket broke up faster than Kim Kardashian and . . . fill in the blank.”

Tags: North Korea

Jimmy Carter, Increasingly Beyond Parody



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week . . .

Cam and I talked about this a bit last night — he’s shocked that Jimmy Carter went to North Korea and accused the United States of abusing North Koreans’ human rights by withholding food aid; I’m not surprised anymore. If you’ve gone to bat for Saddam Hussein, it’s no great leap to go to bat for Kim Jong Il.

Chris Suellentrop at Slate recounted how Carter did everything possible to dissuade U.S. allies from cooperating with American foreign policy he disagreed with: “During the buildup to the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, Carter unsuccessfully worked to undermine the foreign policy of America’s democratically elected president, George Bush. Carter behaved as the Imperial Ex-President, conducting a guerrilla foreign-policy operation that competed with the actual president’s. What’s disturbing about this behavior is not that Carter opposed war with Iraq. Many Democrats opposed going to war, and they worked within the American system to try to prevent a war that many predicted would be bloody (which it was, for Iraq). But Carter went further than merely lobbying Congress to oppose military action or speaking out in an effort to tilt popular opinion against the coming war. He used his status as a former president to engage in foreign policy, a deliberate effort to subvert the democratic process.

. . . Right up to Bush’s Jan. 15 deadline for war, Carter continued his shadow foreign policy campaign. On Jan. 10, he wrote the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria and asked them to oppose the impending military action. “I am distressed by the inability of either the international community or the Arab world to find a diplomatic solution to the Gulf crisis,” he wrote. “I urge you to call publicly for a delay in the use of force while Arab leaders seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. You may have to forego approval from the White House, but you will find the French, Soviets, and others fully supportive. Also, most Americans will welcome such a move.” Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft later accused Carter of violating the Logan Act, the law that prohibits American citizens from conducting unofficial foreign policy.

Bryan Preston, writing at Pajamas Media, concludes, “Jimmy Carter really has never forgiven Americans for firing him in 1980, has he? In the former president’s mind, here’s the logic of his latest statement, transcribed below: If American taxpayers don’t pony up to pay for the food of people on the other side of the world who have been brainwashed to want to exterminate us in nuclear Armageddon, we are violating their human rights . . . You, American, are violating North Koreans’ human rights by not automatically opening up your wallet every time Kim gets lonely and starts threatening to turn the Korean peninsula into a sea of fire. Jimmy Carter wants you to be ashamed. It’s not like Carter arrived at this strange position due to experiencing the personal charisma of the Dear Leader himself: Kim reportedly wouldn’t even meet with him.”

We knew Jimmy Carter was so deluded that he didn’t know when he was being used. But now we know he’s so deluded he doesn’t even know when he’s being snubbed.

By the way, Carter is implicitly accusing President Obama of human rights violations. Any lefties want to criticize the peanut farmer over this?

Tags: Jimmy Carter , North Korea

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