Kim Jong Il is Dead; New Tyrants Come

While you were sleeping our already-roiling world took another hit to its tenuous stability:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died at the age of 69, state-run television has announced.

Mr Kim, who has led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994, died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital, the announcement said.

He suffered a stroke in 2008 and was absent from public view for months.

Pyongyang described his son Kim Jong-un as the “great successor” and urged North Koreans to unite behind him.
Kim Jong-il’s death leaves a hole in the communist state that is difficult for outsiders to understand. As only the country’s second leader and the son of its founder, Kim Jong-il was more than just a national figurehead.

State propaganda elevated him to a demi-god, credited with superhuman powers of wisdom, leadership and military prowess. Now that focus has moved to his younger son, Kim Jong-un. He has been publicly positioned as his father’s successor for just over a year. But this is perhaps the toughest test of North Korea’s stability.

Kim Jong-un, who is thought to be in his late 20s, was named as his father’s successor just over a year ago.

Read more here

Funnily enough
, my son Buster and I were just talking about Kim Jong Il last night — he was reminding me of a documentary he’d seen speaking precisely to the North Korean perception of the tyrannical “dear leader” as a demi-god. Now the tyrant is gone, and a new one will step in.

It reminds me of a line I remember imperfectly from Harry S. Truman — post presidency he was asked about a current crisis and said (I paraphrase) “old tyrants die; new ones take their place. It’s all very tiring and distressing…”

Indeed, it is. And speaking of new tyrannies — which Mark Shea and I really think we must, because so few seem inclined to — Glenn Greenwald debunks three myths about the detention bill that just passed through congress and is headed for Obama’s signature.

Mark sums it up:

Myth # 1: This bill does not codify indefinite detention
Myth #2: The bill does not expand the scope of the War on Terror as defined by the 2001 AUMF
Myth #3: U.S. citizens are exempted from this new bill

But you really need to read Greenwald’s whole piece.

Haven’t heard about that, as you’ve been Christmas shopping and watching football and thinking about Kim Kardashian? Distracted by the media illusions of “Occupy Wall Street” and the sudden prominent valuation of “The (media-approved) Protester”? Listen up!

YouTube Preview Image

We have to ask ourselves why this bill? Why this congress and president? Why now?

We are told that Washington is broken — that the two parties are so polarized they can agree on nothing, get nothing done — and yet they’ve managed to come together to on this.

And the president, that beacon of civil rights who was going to repair the constitution left “shredded” by his predecessor? Well, yeah — he was originally going to veto the thing, until it got rewritten, with more powers extended to the president. Now, hey…he’s on board.

Never, ever forget that this is one of Obama’s campaign promises: a “fundamental transformation of America”

Why now? Perhaps they’re hustling this through at this time because they know we’re fed up, that public trust in our institutions is at an all time low, and that once our “holiday” distractions are over, we might start paying attention and wondering, “hey . . . is this still America?” We might object and protest — and we’d be the wrong sort of protesters, not “media-approved.”

“If once (the people) become inattentive to the public affairs,
you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors,
shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general
nature, in spite of individual exceptions.”
Thomas Jefferson

Shea says:

They do this because the dynamic in our country is no longer left/right/conservative/liberal. It is our Ruling Class vs. the Populace. The law spells the end of the US as a free country. From now on, we are permitted “rights” only on the sufferance of our Ruling Class, who can strip us of both liberty and life on the unilateral fiat of the Executive without arrest, evidence, trial, judge, jury or verdict.

Yes, it sounds very dramatic. That’s because it is very dramatic. A few years ago I wrote a piece — now lost to all of my moves — suggesting that we were not far from the day when the ruling elites would be driving by in their limos, applauding the rest of us for “keeping it real” while the rest of us kept our heads down and waited on line for our hand-outs.

I suspect we’re almost there.

Don’t forget this other dramatic situation, one which some of us have been writing about, and expanding on for a while.

And then, of course, there’s this threat
to the internet

Meanwhile, I’m not liking the sound of this, and Glenn Reynolds remarks:

Gingrich is very good at tossing a stinkbomb over the transom, and letting the ensuing reaction demonstrate that there’s something rotten about the status quo. It’s not so clear that this talent is desirable in a President, however. And, even if it is, it’s even less clear that it’s conducive to being elected President. What’s more, I’d say that Gingrich, if elected President, will share one of Barack Obama’s flaws: The tendency to say things that might be interesting if said by a professor, but that have a lot more impact than is desirable when said by a President.

Unlike Mark Shea, I do not believe Ron Paul
is the answer. I do not know if this Republic can survive with any of the current players still holding power. The whole boiling of them need to be ousted, but that will not happen. Absent that, it’s just illusion upon illusion.

In 2005, I thought there was still hope at we could snap awake from the illusions and prevent the painless coup.

Now…call me fatalistic, if you must
, but I am not so sure.

So, yeah. Kim Jong Il is dead. North Korea has lots of nukes. Tyrants abounding.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    Yes, it is a potentially terrible time. Darkness zeroes in, just as it has, age upon age. While our darkness appears so much worse, it is all relative to the time in which we live perhaps. Perhaps not, but perhaps.

    This I do know on December 19, 2011. We are less than a week away from the time when a New Light came upon us. If we truly believe in what we say we believe, we have to have some kind of hope.

    I have not commented here in awhile as the tone of the blog has been dark in many of these political posts and I do not want to fight with you or others… even if I sometimes do. That said, I have kept you in my prayers, as I always do; however lately your mood appears (from afar) to be really tense, tight, fearful even. I don’t know – after all, I don’t even really know you. But I have seen brighter days here.

    Don’t give way to the darkness. Miracles happen in the most unlikely places and in the most unlikely ways and seemingly to all the most unlikely people. Christmas and pretty much everything else, including and especially Easter, attest to that.

    Be of good cheer the best you can be, dear Anchoress.

    [Hi Fran, good to see you here. I'm not fearful at all. You've read me long enough to know that I see this sort of thing and think we need to go though muck to get to the glory; I'm loaded for bear and ready for a good fight! But I am grim -- I'll give you that. It all seems resolutely grim, to me, and I'm feeling not afraid, but grimly resigned that yes, a fight there will be. The outcome? I'm perfectly sure that in the end, the light wins! :-) admin]

  • dry valleys

    Oddly enough, civil liberties supporters don’t just pack in and go home once they’ve got someone they like elected. It’s always much easier for oppositions to talk about restraining the security state than governments. I remember under the last British government, the likes of David Camoron and Nick Cleggover were full of talk about civil liberties, and now it’s suddenly not an interest of theirs, but Labour have magically acquired an interest in something they never cared about for 13 years!

    That’s why, essentially, there is always a need for people like, erm, the ACLU. And if anyone thinks such campaigns are too easy on Obama, then it’s right for them to join in themselves.

    I am quite glad to see Kim Jong Il gone, alongside his fellow dictators, and let’s remember how many scalps there really have been in 2011. Not every loss this week will be mourned, in all honesty, in the way that Hitchens and Havel were. Let’s consider how many oppressors of their people are no more and how good a year it actually has been despite the setbacks towards its end. And I’ll tell you that I celebrated Gaddafi’s downfall, which was very much like Mussolini’s downfall, and I don’t recall any Italians or people of any other country in 1943 whinging about the way in which he was killed.

    (Yes, in North Korea the son will nominally be the heir, but his chances in my view are scarecely better than Gamal Mubarak’s or Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s were).

    What we should be hoping for is that other dictatorships won’t make it through the year, such as Zimbabwe, or Syria, or that perennial in Iran.

  • dry valleys

    They are even showing hardcore signs of unrest in China, did you hear about that?

    [yes, indeed. I'm praying for the people! :-) admin]

  • dry valleys

    Also I suppose things will no longer be looked at!

    (I’ll see myself out).

  • dry valleys

    Evidently I am talkative today… it has occured to me that North Korea is in an even worse state than these Arab countries, in that there are virtually none of the people who can sustain an independent-minded civil society.

    One of the main reasons, I think, that Islamism has had such regrettable popularity in North Africa is that the dictators weren’t against fanatical religion, they were only against threats to their own power. So the people were suppressed but the climate of ideas was such that Islamists could capitalise on what were semi-officially encouraged feelings. Whereas the ideas and organisations that are the lifeblood of European and American democracy were ruthlessly crushed, and that’s why they struggle to establish themselves now.

    Of course this is even more the case in North Korea. Given how famously insular the country is, they presumably won’t take to being ruled by foreigners. Who exactly is it, then, that will foster a new democracy? I can only think of South Koreans, and even that is a huge problem, probably even worse than the problems faced by absorbing East Germany into the liberal democracy (the scars from which have yet to fully heal, btw).

  • Holly in Nebraska

    I didn’t have time to go through all the links (I have to make Christmas cookies), but I will comment that I’ve always felt the church(es) needs to give up its tax-exempt status. As the gubmint takes more power, they will use the IRS as a threat. We need to go ahead and pay taxes in order to say whatever needs saying in the churches. Either that or dare them to do something. What in the world could they do anyway?

    But, I’m Scarlet O’Hara this week. I have too much to do. “I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

    Except on Wednesday. Adoration is on Wednesday.

  • Richard Johnson

    As the father of a soldier stationed at Camp Humphreys in South Korea, I am *very* thankful that she is, at this moment, safely in a Boeing 777 somewhere over the Pacific on her way home for the holidays. I can only hope that things stabilize by the time she must return.

  • Old Line State Dad

    Instapundit has a quote up on his page from Josh Trevino about Kim:

    TED TURNER ON KIM JONG IL BACK IN 2005. Ted thought he was swell. Of course. Plus a much bigger roundup of reactions, including Josh Trevino’s tweet of the year: “I’d like to think God let Havel and Hitchens pick the third.”

  • Bill M.

    I’m bracing myself for more of this.

  • piotr

    Now Hitchens has a companion… in hell.

  • Ryan Haber

    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper

    Easy Piotr. I am no fan of Hitchens. It is nonetheless bad form, at least, to speak ill of the dead. A prayer or two would never do him or us harm.

  • Todd

    I’m with Fran. I have to say that while I haven’t given up on commenting here, I have pretty much given up on clicking our host’s links. Not enough variety. Too much group-think reinforced from the Right. I can’t stand a steady diet of Left blogs and media outlets, so I sure can’t figure out why it’s so appealing from the other side.

    Speaking for myself, and my own frustrations with national politics, I suppose I much prefer a retreat to the local. I can get a lot more accomplished in my parish and my university town. I endure the endless polls calling me asking me what I think about candidates and issues I sure won’t be voting for in a few weeks.

    Yes, the confluence of this president and congress is alarming in the civil liberties department. It’s interesting that what the president had to say about protesters in the Muslim World does not apply here at home with OWS.

    I’d be happy to cast a vote for a progressive non-main party candidate if someone on the Right wants to write in Ron Paul. Or somebody. If there was some way we could drain poll support away from major party national candidates, I’d be all for it. Otherwise, I can pretty much promise you I won’t be checking any presidential boxes on my ballot next year.

  • Brian English

    “Too much group-think reinforced from the Right.”

    You consider Glenn Greenwald to be from the Right? You must be to the Left of Lenin.

  • Klaire

    I have to say I agree with Todd on the “group think”, at least with Catholic Bloggers at Patheos. I mean no disrespect, you are all certainly wonderful writers and from all I can tell good Catholics/people, but I find myself only reading one blog a day, usually yours or Deacon Gregs, as most of it is now all advertising for each other and or repetative posts.

    Getting back more on track, I sense we are heading for some “hard times” for sure, and like you say Anchoress, probably necessary. As much as I abhor any loss of freedom, I can “almost” form a logical argument that sadly we do have “American Citizens” who are most certainly the enemy, where a law like this might be to the advantage of America, but I say that with great hesitation, only trying to see a sliver of a silver lining in what will probably be a nightmare.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    According to Todd:

    1. It is always the fault of Conservative group-think.

    2. If it is not the fault of Conservative group-think, see #1, above.

    (There is, of course, no such thing as progressive group-think! Sarc.)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I’m sorry, Klaire, there is no “Silver Lining” in this.

    There is no “probably”; it will be a nightmare. It will not be of advantage to Americans. Nor will it help in fighting terrorism. The State Department, and the FBI, among others, have already let it be known that the groups that actually commit terrorism, and have been attacking America, will not be named, and must be reached out to. Nor have they stopped immigration from terrorist sponsoring countries.

    That being the case, which American citizens, exactly, is our government planning on going after, and holding indefinitely?

    Gird yourself.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Todd, you claim to be progressive, yet you support Ron Paul as a Republican candidate?

    (Talk about your cognitive dissonance!)

  • Oregon Catholic

    Perhaps there are more ‘Americans’ like al-Awlaki out there who are known to the CIA but not our media. There were plenty of people, including Ron Paul, who criticised his assasination for no other reason than that he was a US citizen. Please! That guy gave up his citizenship long ago. You can’t put people like that on trial because of the need to protect intell and sources and you can’t put them back on the street because they will plot against us again. They have made themselves enemy combatants in a war that can’t be fought with the old rules or definitions of enemy. Put the blame where it belongs.

    We went through all this paranoia before during the Bush era where the gov. was going to listen in on all our phone calls and would round up and detain citizens for no good reason. Well, there have been no new major attacks in the US and if screening some overseas phone calls is to credit for that, I’m OK with it.

  • Todd

    RS, reading comprehension seems a problem, as usual, my friend. You’re way off past the left field bleachers in your 10:41 comment.

    As far as your 10:47 comment is concerned, let me spell it out plainly.

    I don’t believe the GOP has the cujones to nominate Ron Paul. But I know he has loyal supporters from the far Right. If someone in Iowa wants to write him in to show their distaste for Mr Romney, I will alter my projected none-of-the-above vote next November to someone to the Left of Mr Obama. Are we crystal yet?

  • Old Line State Dad

    For those going on about all the “group think” on this, blog, they might want to consider that Elizabeth allows their comments to be posted, and does not delete them. Unlike certain prominent left-of-center blogs, where non-conforming posts and opinions are ruthlessly purged.

    Every time I hear the term “group think,” two things come to mind: an undergraduate sociology course, and the Monty Python Constitutional Peasant skit.

    “There you go bring class into it again!”

    “But that’s what it’s all about! If only people would listen!”

    Simply substitute group think for class.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Nope, Todd, no crystal yet.

    Your scheme honestly makes no sense.

    Do not vote for Ron Paul. Do not vote for Obama, and certainly don’t vote for anybody who might be to the left of him!

    Vote for someone who’d be good for the country. Or vote for nobody, if there’s really no one you can support. This isn’t a game, it isn’t bean counting; “Well, I’ll vote for so-and-so, if you’ll vote for someone some people in your party might support, to make some sort of point, that proves something or other!” Makes sense. Not.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Oregon Catholic, yes, you’re okay with it.

    And you will be, until the new laws start affecting someone you know: friends, family members, co-workers, maybe even yourself.

    By then, it will be too late.

    Those who trade freedom for security wind up with neither.

  • Todd

    “Unlike certain prominent left-of-center blogs, where non-conforming posts and opinions are ruthlessly purged.”

    Oh posh. Censorship is a character flaw of both the Left and the Right. I never said otherwise. I’ve been banned on any number of blogs. I know I’m insufferable to many conservatives. I freely admit I relish the role.

    Group-think and censorship is a human trait, not an ideological one.

  • Elizabeth K.

    Todd & Klaire et al, with all due respect, Salon and the NYT (which is linked to through Salon’s piece) are hardly right wing sources. The reporter at MoxNews is hardly a Republican and definitely not a right-winger. The only examples of group-think I’m seeing are those who seem to think that Obama’s so nice, this bill can’t be what it is. I voted for Obama, I WAS a lifelong Democrat–until this administration has cured me of that affiliation. This bill should be of serious concern to EVERYONE, which is why the ACLU and Human Rights Watch are so appalled. You really should read Elizabeth’s links. We really are way, way beyond partisanship at this point–or we all ought to be. This is far more serious than politics as usual.

  • Greta

    I find it amazing that anyone here would look at anchoress as being some far right wing conservative driven by group think who posts:

    “tone of the blog has been dark” excuse me, but have you looked at the status of America. It is as dark as it has been since Jimmy Carter. In fact, Obama and his party are doing to America what Carter tried to do and failed. If we give bozo a second term, we may not have a country left and the courts will certainly being set up to continue killing babies for another generation.

    And gott to love Todd. “I have to say that while I haven’t given up on commenting here, I have pretty much given up on clicking our host’s links.” This is someone who has lost it. If you do not go to the links and understand what is being said in the post by Anchoress, who cares what you comment. I bet he reviews movies he has not seen and books he has not read as well.

    And when he sets out to make something crystal clear, it is usually anything but. Try to figure out this one:

    “I don’t believe the GOP has the cujones to nominate Ron Paul. But I know he has loyal supporters from the far Right. If someone in Iowa wants to write him in to show their distaste for Mr Romney, I will alter my projected none-of-the-above vote next November to someone to the Left of Mr Obama.”

    So let me understand this post Todd. What is your goal in voting for the next President of the USA? You are waiting to see if someone you see as far right votes for Ron Paul because he does not like Romney and if you somehow learn of this action, you will cast your vote for someone to the left of Obama. You sound like a little kid on the playground threatening to take your marbles and go home because of some perceived slight or even worse, to do something that will harm everyone if you are somehow offended. It could be we are in the crapper because people cast their vote with this much lunacy.

  • Oregon Catholic

    I heard all the same worries about the gov. 6 years ago. I poo-pooed the alarmists then too and I’m still here, with all the same constitutional rights. I frankly think people should worry far more about the private info they are willingly giving up to Facebook and their smartphones recording their keystrokes and GPS locations and how it is/can be used without their knowledge and by whom. Now that’s scary…

  • Todd

    “This is someone who has lost it. If you do not go to the links …”

    Two things.

    I followed our host’s links for a handful of political posts a few months ago. I was very unimpressed with the narrow range of far-Right connections she made.

    Too many darn links. Elizabeth is a fine writer. More of her. Less of the crackpot Right.

  • Brian English

    “I heard all the same worries about the gov. 6 years ago. I poo-pooed the alarmists then too and I’m still here, with all the same constitutional rights. ”

    Exactly. The same people getting hysterical about the new law are the same ones who got hysterical about the Patriot Act. Worry about reality folks, not phantom fears premised on paranoid delusions.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Todd can’t be bothered following the links, because he was traumatized by some of the Anchoress’s “right-wing” links, months ago. Hence, even Salon, and NYT, have magically become “right-wing”, and he can’t bear to look at them.

    Elizabeth K, these are Todd’s rules:

    1. If something’s going wrong, it’s always the fault of Conservatives.

    2. If it isn’t the fault of Conservatives—see Rule #1.

    (And Oregon Catholic is still here, after having heard people worry about the government 6 years ago—hence, all is swell! Why are we so worried, anyway? We should concern ourselves with something more important, like the menace of Facebook. Okaaaaaaaay!)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    So, what are you saying, Todd?

    That the Anchoress shouldn’t be allowed to link to any outside sites, to support her writing?

    (Now, stop being paranoid, everybody, and start worrying about reality! Or, at least, about Facebook!)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I know, Greta, I tried to figure out what Todd was getting at with the Ron Paul thing, and couldn’t.

    Now I must go worry about the menace of Facebook. And smartphones. “Worry about reality!” I tells myselff. Worrying about the government isn’t reality! It’s—well, actually the government, and the laws it passes, do seem to me to be pretty real. Could it be we’re not suppsed to worry about the current one because the president has a “D” instead of an “R” after his name?

    When in doubt, always remember the rules!

    1. If something goes wrong, it’s always the fault of Conservatives.

    2. If the Conservatives aren’t at fault—see Rule #1!

    (And watch out for smartphones!)

  • LisaB

    Tsk, tsk! What are you people thinking by agreeing with the Anchoress, shame on you. Don’t you all know by now you should be individuals and think like Todd.

  • Greta

    I wish more folks, including myself on many occasions, would go through the thought process obvious in Anchoress posts. She says she has evolved over time from what I understand was once a very liberal lady into one that leans conservative, but without becoming one who does not look hard at the arguments. It is why I often come here first. I also like the fact that she takes a position letting you know where she stands on the issue rather than just throw the bomb into the street and see what happens. She is willing to open herself up to bashing as we have seen here and elsewhere. As you can tell, I have become a strong admirer of Anchoress and respect her opinions which she supports with links elsewhere while at the same time, often linking to those who are not in full agreement. That is what irked me about someone bashing her while admiting they no longer look at the links she provides.

    Anchoress, ever thought about doing a post on your thought process and your background that helped develop your skill sets in writing?

  • Oregon Catholic

    Go ahead and mock, RS. Far more people in this country are harmed by identity theft (and it’s ripple effect on all of us) than what you are worried about. The FTC says 1/4 million people were victims in 2010.

    Now that IS the reality which you have such disdain for. We haven’t begun to see the way all this personal data we have left lying along the internet superhwy is going to be mined and come back to haunt us when it gets into the wrong hands.

  • Rhinestone Suderman


    Identity theft, and people using our personal information, is bad.

    Therefore, it’s not allowed for us to also be concerned about our constitutional rights? Because, it’s a well known fact that you cannot be concerned about two different issues at the same time. (Sarc.)

    No one is forced to go onto Facebook. You do not have to have a Facebook account, if you don’t wish to. However, if the government starts collecting information on us, we won’t be allowed to opt out. We’ll all be on “Facebook”—or else.

    As for identity theft, yes, it’s bad. It’s made worse by the fact that it’s a crime that frequently goes unprosecuted, and uncorrected, even when reported to the authorities.

    The same authorities who are going to have the power to decide if you’re a threat to the state, and maybe you should be detained indefinitely, without trial, until the end of hostilities?

    Now think about this; they can’t stop identity theft—but the president will have absolute power to send you away, if he considers you a danger, without a trial, or being able to argue your innocence or call your lawyer. And, of course, the government is so wise, and so efficient, it will know right away if somebody’s hacked into your accounts, or stolen your identity for a jihadi, right? /Sarc. You think the terrorists aren’t going to use this strategy? If the constitutional safeguards are gone, how is the government going to know who’se innocent, and who’se guilty? Or will they even bother trying to find out? Hey, your records prove you’re an enemy of the state! You say you’re innocent, that you’re a victim of identity theft? Tell it to the judge! No, wait—there won’t be any judge for you! You’re an enemy of the state, indefinite detention for you, until this conflict is over.

    We’ll be the ones to decide when it’s over.

    Talk about your personal data falling into the wrong hands.