Life Under Totalitarianism

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The most disturbing thing about the North Korean train disaster is, obviously, the tremendous loss of life. But I felt almost as big a chill when I read this detail in The New York Times:

North Korean television was broadcasting military songs and music—standard evening fare.

An explosion may have killed as many people as 9/11, and yet that's what you find in the local media. Is there any modern society more closed, more afraid of information, than this one?

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  1. I’ll bet that if North Korea went to war, it would be illegal for newspapers to take photographs of the coffins of dead soldiers. Good thing this country is more enlightened.

    Hey, wait a minute. . . .

  2. Hey Jennifer, you got a problem with Administration don’t you?

  3. You know, I was going to post a “joke” post under the name “Someone disguised as Jennifer”…

    … that said approximately what Jennifer just said for real. I guess some people are beyond parody.

  4. Dan, as I understand it, Jennifer is very angry at what Bush and his cronies are doing to this country. I’m sure I’m about to hear what Dubya nd the cronies have done?

  5. Joe L.

    What gave her away? 🙂

    Jennifer is OK with lies (if Clinton says them), she is OK with govt being strict with islamic terrorist types (if France does that), but boy the US govt (especially under that darned Bush) does something, Jennifer is all over it. I hope she doesn’t really believe that the US is causing all the problems all over the world!

  6. When I heard the accident reported on the radio, the report ended by saying that “Our Dear Leader” had happened through the station only hours before. I immediately thought of a chapter in Atlas Shrugged; the one in which all of the passengers on a train die tragicly.

    Special treatment of a government VIP preempted normal safety procedures in the book, and that was the most proximate cause of the accident. I couldn’t help but wonder if the most proximate cause of this tragedy was the very same thing.

  7. I’d be willing to bet it was sloppy management, compounded by antiquated equipment… Plus a measure of US fault because we embargo No. Korea, economically. I blame the bush Administration.

  8. Ken Shultz: I thought first of a different part of _Atlas Shrugged_. After John Galt’s grabbing of the airwaves for his speech is over, Mr. Thompson directs the radio stations to resume playing the usual music as if nothing has happened.

  9. Am I wrong in saying that journalists are not allowed to take photos of the coffins of the dead? What is it about pointing out the truth that makes you guys so infuriated? If I spread lies about the Bush administration, your contempt would be understandable. But when I take notice of the truth?

    Like Dan said, some administrations are just beyond parody.

  10. Hm, DPRK TV sounds like a Korean version of FNC’s “Fox and Friends”.

  11. Have you ever heard the way official “news” are being read in North Korean state-controlled media?

    It’s this hysterically SINGING voice, full of superlatives, endlessly praising the “Dear Leader” and the army… sounds completely psychotic, even if you don’t understand the language! North Korean “news”-readers ought to work as opera singers.

    -A.R. Yngve
    http://yngve.bravehost.com

  12. Jennifer,

    Well, you are long on invective and short on substance. In another posting you explained that you were angry with what Bush and his cronies were doing to this country. So, I’m a newcomer, enlighten me about the cronies et. al and there depredations. I’m not sure where THIS Administration differs from others, is it the deficit? The tax cuts? The War on Terror? I can see where Conservatives, Libertarians, Progressives might dislike the Administration, but you seem to have an especial case of the Ass for them?.

  13. So is the party line that you’re going to continue to blame this policy on the Bush administration even though you were already told, and conceded, that the policy was enacted in 1991 by GHWB and enforced by the Clinton administration? Does that, like, help your argument somehow? It would seem that it wouldn’t, but I’m just a simple unfrozen caveman.

    But outside of that, yes, I can see how living in the United States is EXACTLY LIKE living in a totalitarian dictatorship in every way. How could I have been so blind before?

  14. Zorel-
    When have I praised Clinton for lying? When have I criticized Bush for anything concerning American Muslims? I have certainly criticized other policies of his, but I’ve never accused him of Muslim-bashing.

    Criticize me for what I’ve actually said, not what you invent.

    I am still waiting to hear why I was incorrect about the coffin photos. In all seriousness, I am curious about the mindset which says “It’s all right for the President to do this, but not all right for people to notice that the President has done this.”

    Man. Some Bush fans are just beyond parody.

  15. Jennifer,

    Their contempt for the truth stems from their desensitization by our wonderful mainstream media. We’ve been taught, or rather, had it JAMMED DOWN OUR BLOODY THROATS, that everything and anything that happens is part of a partisan popularity contest. Everything is looked at through the lens of “what will this mean for the polls?” And so a great deal of this fool country has fallen victim of the idea that there is no truth, there are no lies…there are only partisan attacks.

    That’s what happened to the right when Dick Clarke came out with his book. Sure, they had trouble reconciling the fact that Clarke was a die-hard GOPer. Sure, they were a bit perplexed that this guy had served under 3 republican presidents. But that didn’t stop them from claiming that the book was just a big attack against our esteemed leader. And thus, you see what partisanship has done to our country. No truth. No lies. No right. No wrong. Only polls. Only image. If you say something about “our guy”, even if it is true, then you are just engaged in a partisan attack. And if we say something good about “our guy”, even if it is true, then we’re just blind partisans sucking up.

    It’s not that they have a problem with the truth, Jennifer. It’s simply that, for them, the truth no longer matters. It’s all a big fucking popularity contest.

  16. I’m still getting invective, here. Oh and Ewilliam, politics IS a popularity contest, just like the market place? Are you unhappy that your position is not popular? That is, gets enough votes to run something, anything, say even a school board?

    Now, Jennifer, just summarize the “Bush and cronies” and “doing to this country?” Is it the 2000 Election? The fight against Medical Marijuana in California, the increased deficit, the Medicare Bill, the No Child Left Behind Act, the War on Terror? These are things that folks legitimately disagree with the Administration on, but you know I don’t see any of them as a major break from the US tradition this century, so you’ll have to enlighten me as to what distinguishes BUSHCO from other politicians.

  17. Ewilliam-
    Thank you.

    I once made the following analogy: say you’re giving your beloved spouse a backrub and you notice a big, ugly melanoma which, if left untreated, will kill her. What do you do?

    A. Point out the problem, because you love your spouse and want him/her to fix anything wrong; or,

    B. Say nothing, because you love your spouse too much to ever admit that he/she could be anything less than perfect.

    Me, I’d choose option A.

    A few of my complaints with the current administration? The PATRIOT Act. “Anyone who worries about civil liberties at a time like this is helping the terrorists.” Crossing all mention of Saudi Arabia out of the State Department’s 9-11 report. Lying about WMDs. “The President can declare citizens to be enemy combatants, and the citizens have no way to fight these charges.”

    I just realized–none of this will convince you guys anyway. You already know these things, but you honestly do not care.

  18. Jennifer said: “I am still waiting to hear why I was incorrect about the coffin photos. In all seriousness, I am curious about the mindset which says ‘It’s all right for the President to do this, but not all right for people to notice that the President has done this.'”

    Well, some response to your post at the top of this thread might actually have more to do with the fact that you seemed to imply that broadcasting military songs following an accident that killed or injured thousands is in any way comparable to having a policy of not showing pictures of the coffins of dead soldiers (soldiers, incidentally, whose deaths are reported on a daily basis). Regardless of what you may think about the Pentagon policy (for what it’s worth, I think it’s horrible too), that’s just a wee bit absurd.
    I don’t know if that’s exactly what you meant by your first post, but I think it’s certainly a perfectly reasonable conclusion for readers to reach.

  19. J-
    Actually, my first post implied (correctly) that both countries are involved in at least some media manipulation, to keep some bad things out of the news. Yes, we are better than North Korea, but I don’t buy the attitude “As long as we’re better than they are, we have no need to improve.”

    On another posting, I notice that Dan said publishing the coffin photos would be “anti-war propaganda.” I see. There is no truth, there are no lies–there is only propaganda in support of your cause and propaganda against it. Just as Ewilliam said.

  20. I like what ewilliam said. I don’t know if he correctly characterized the psyches of the individual posters in question (individuals are always complex) but overall I suspect that the phenomenon he describes plays a role in politics.

    Think about how people line up so predictably on political issues. How many people out there opposed invading Iraq and think abortion should be illegal? (Not defending or criticizing either stance, just observing how consistently people tend to line up on certain unrelated but heavily partisan issues.) How many people oppose the Brady Bill and the Bush tax cuts? How many people supported the impeachment of Clinton but oppose capital punishment? How many people think that a dimpled chad should count and that the Patriot Act is a good thing?

    There may be perfectly good reasons to take a stance that happens to coincide with the partisan one on any or all of those pairs of issues, but there may also be perfectly good reasons to defy the partisan mold on any given pair of issues. Strangely, however, people tend to line up so predictably on issue after issue.

    Sure, some of the exceptions probably post on this forum, but this forum is oriented toward libertarians, a group that doesn’t always fit neatly into partisan labels. Overall, I suspect a lot of it is due to the “us vs. them” mentality of politics. If the “bad people” think a certain way on abortion or whatever issue gets your blood pressure up, then the “bad people” must also be wrong on taxes, dimpled chads, guns, the war, impeachment, etc.

  21. Thoreau-
    True enough, but consider this: things like abortion rights and gun control are OPINIONS, not FACTS. You cannot “prove” that abortion is right or wrong, you cannot “prove” that dimpled chads should or should not count, but you CAN prove whether or not there’s a law forbidding journalists from taking pictures of photos. You can prove whether or not Ashcroft said “Anyone who cares about civil liberties aids the terrorists.”

    I am not bemused by people who have different opinions than I do–I am trying to understand people who are in denial of cut-and-dried facts. Or rather, by people who see me spouting facts and then confuse those with opinions.

  22. Well, some response to your post at the top of this thread might actually have more to do with the fact that you seemed to imply that broadcasting military songs following an accident that killed or injured thousands is in any way comparable to having a policy of not showing pictures of the coffins of dead soldiers (soldiers, incidentally, whose deaths are reported on a daily basis).

    As Jennifer said, both are media manipulation. If we supposedly live in a “free” nation (Bush sure loves to go on about how we’re fighting for freedom!), then why does the government feel the need to censor the media in their favor? Why does it need to be involved at all. Don’t we have a first amendment to prevent that?

    Playing military songs after 3000 people are killed or injured….

    Forbidding the media from showing pictures of the 700+ young men and women who have died in their war….

    Honestly, what’s the difference?

  23. Jennifer,

    Please spare me, I believe the complaint was with your implication that the US was similar to North Korea because of policies that share some relationship (whethor or not that’s true….) and because of the fact that what the Bush Admin. does is the first thing that seems to come to mind when talking about train wrecks in North Korea. (?) I doubt the complaint was on the truth of what you said. Now, what that may say about the complaints is something else entirely…

  24. Jennifer-

    Good point. I guess that if you get accustomed to evaluating matters of opinion via a partisan lens, eventually matters of fact are seen via that same lens. Especially if one of “the good guys” says that the matters of opinion are really matters of fact. e.g. “It is a fact that the law says dimpled chads should/shouldn’t be counted/disregarded, so if they are/aren’t counted then [insert bad guy here] will have stolen the election from [insert good guy here].”

  25. Retraction of my last post.

    I don’t know enough about election laws to know whether I gave a good example or not. Maybe it is a fact that the law really is specific one way or another about dimpled chads. Or maybe the law is suitably ambiguous. Either way, in the absence of more information I withdraw my previous post.

  26. Ewilliam-
    Apparently, the difference is that we’re the good guiys and they’re the bad guys.

    No, seriously. Thoreau and I have had discussions on other posts concerning this growing mentality that, so long as the government’s not actually herding us into death camps or shooting us dead in the streets, there’s no reason to worry. North Korea is magnitudes worse than the US; therefore, ANY comparison between the two countries must be wrong.

    There’s also the “Hey, it could be worse” mentality. Whenever one makes an accusation about the administration, rather than deal with the accusations the Bushies will respond with one of the following:

    “Oh, yeah? Well, Clinton did bad stuff too!”

    “Oh, yeah? Well, it’s still better than (some scumbag country like Saudi Arabia).”

    Which does not solve a thing.

  27. “True enough, but consider this: things like abortion rights and gun control are OPINIONS, not FACTS. You cannot “prove” that abortion is right or wrong, you cannot “prove” that dimpled chads should or should not count, but you CAN prove whether or not there’s a law forbidding journalists from taking pictures of photos. ”

    Yeah you can prove that – but the relative weighting of importance that anyone assigns to such a fact or whether that is in any way comparable to anything done by a REAL totalitarian regime is ALSO strictly a matter of opinion – not fact.

  28. As a “damn furrener” I’d like to add the following: There is a big difference between love of country and blind sycophancy toward ones government. Jennifer strikes me as someone from the former, rather than the latter, group. Now where the hell is my regime change girl? You keep promising, and I’m still stuck with these bloody Liberal Party schmucks!

  29. Gilbert-
    The two ARE comparable; it’s a matter of degree, not a matter of kind. There’s also the possibility that the mild censorship we’re having now might be the prelude to more severe forms of censorship down the road. As I said before, I do not buy the argument that “So long as we’re better than other guys we have no need to improve.”

    Thoreau-
    Regardless of what the law says about chads, it is still possible to have differing opinions. LIke, the law clearly says drugs are illegal, but we can still disagree on whether that SHOULD be the case. You need not retract your argument–maybe just tweak it a little. Mine, too.

    Damn. I have to leave just when the conversation is getting interesting, too.

  30. Oh and Ewilliam, politics IS a popularity contest, just like the market place? Are you unhappy that your position is not popular? That is, gets enough votes to run something, anything, say even a school board?

    Unhappy that my position isn’t popular? Perhaps, in a way, but not for the mere sake of popularity. More because I find that the status quo politico is ruining this country, MY country. Surely, anyone who cares about their country and cares about their lot in life should care about why it is like that and where it is going. Considering that I believe in extremely limited government, and the “popular” politico stands for the propegation of government, it makes me unhappy to see them constantly in power, making government bigger and more powerful. It frustrates me, but not because of popularity in and of itself…because of the principles that I believe in.

    My point was not that politics is a popularity contest. Everyone already knows that, and I don’t need to trumpet the obvious. My point was that people care about popularity for its own sake rather than principles that they honestly believe in. It’s no longer that people vote party-line because of principles…they vote for their party (and defend it/attack the other one) as if they were sports teams. I love the ‘Skins…why? I dunno, I grew up loving them. Conversely, I was raised by a big democrat, and so I used to cheer for the democrats. But when I started thinking for myself, oh, maybe, about high school, I discovered that the Democrats didn’t have much worth fighting for. Neither did the gop. So it took a lot of thought to develop my positions on many things, and my political philosophy in general. I don’t cheer for any particular party like I would a sports team. I stand for my principles. My fear is that a great many people in this country (fed by the media) see it as a big sports contest. “My team vs. your team!” And too many people love their party like I love the Redskins.

    Other people seemed to understand my point quite easily.

  31. eWilliam,

    Indeed, you make a very good point. I’ve found that exact scenario to be more often the case than not, unfortunately. In fact, I don’t fully understand it with sports teams, let alone politics.

  32. Ewilliam said: ?Playing military songs after 3000 people are killed or injured….
    Forbidding the media from showing pictures of the 700+ young men and women who have died in their war….
    Honestly, what’s the difference??

    Are you kidding? What?s the difference between a gov?t saying _nothing_ about 3000 dead/injured and a gov?t not allowing pictures of dead soldiers (soldiers whose deaths we already know about) in their caskets? The difference is that we at least know they?re dead, and to some degree how they died. The difference is that when I get up in the morning and turn on NPR, I hear a count of the latest casualties in Iraq, not Battle Hymn of the Republic.
    Yes, both are media manipulation, and yes both are abhorrent to the notions of transparency and accountability that are required of gov?t in truly free societies. And yes, I would agree with Jennifer and many others who post here that there is certainly reason to worry about the erosion of civil liberties and lack of gov?t transparency and accountability that in many ways have gotten worse in the past several years. But I think the difference in degree between the NK and Bush administration actions in this particular case is pretty fucking obvious.

  33. “Gilbert-
    The two ARE comparable; it’s a matter of degree, not a matter of kind.”

    Well you are entitled to your OPINION. Just as I said – such things are a matter of opinion – not fact.

  34. It’s ridiculous to discuss freedom in the US (or the West in general), and the complete lack thereof in North Korea, in the same breath. It’s the difference between a hangnail and a heart attack. For Jennifer to immediately reply to North Koren problems by noting that America has policies she doesn’t like, too, is absurd. To say the two countries freedoms are comparable is not a discussion worth having, and to note that America isn’t perfectly free is too lame a point to respond to.

    PS Clarke is a Democrat, even though he’s tried to misrepresent this fact. It doesn’t really matter, but I’m surprised people are still trying to claim otherwise.

  35. “My point was that people care about popularity for its own sake rather than principles that they honestly believe in.”

    What most people primarily care about is advancing their own personal self-interest – as they perceive it to be – regardless of whether that is “popular” with anyone else or not.

    That is why they vote with their pocketbooks.

  36. Sorry to interrupt the Jennifer-bash-a-thon, but 3000 may have died in a train crash in North Korea, the leader is (according to the official news of NK) not in any way harmed or hurt.

    Pardon my skepticism, but doesn’t this sound a lot like “Our Dear Leader was assassinated today, but we haven’t the freedom to disclose that fact, so let’s get back to People’s Top Hits of 1954!”

  37. Loving the Redskins is like loving freedom. It’s not something I do; it’s who I am.

  38. Not related to the Korea reports, but here’s another case of Atlas Shrugged deja-vu from Zimabwe last year.

  39. If I spread lies about the Bush administration, your contempt would be understandable. But when I take notice of the truth?

    When you take notice of the truth, you always find a way to work in some snivelling about how Bush is evil and our country was a fuckin’ Utopia before he was elected.

    I mean, seriously, what kind of a fuckwit responds to the news of thousands of dead North Koreans by complaining about the U.S. military’s policy on photographing soldiers’ coffins?

  40. Almost 40 comments and still no one mentions the official reason the photographs of the caskets returning to the US. The privacy of the families of the deceased soldiers.

    I agree Jennifer that it is a matter of degree. Just like a mountain and a mole hill. After all, they are both composed of rock and dirt. It just seems like all you are worried about is the mole hill. To me, it seems like the mountain should be more important.

  41. I watched a sample of a North Korean news broadcast during Kim Dae Jung’s state visit. It reminded me mostly of the gasping-for-air style of some Appalachian preachers.

  42. Jennifer, you fucking one-note comment spammer:

    Thank you for singlehandedly ruining the comments sections of Hit and Run.

  43. “Almost 40 comments and still no one mentions the official reason the photographs of the caskets returning to the US. The privacy of the families of the deceased soldiers.”

    Privacy? Yeah, right! It’s so easy to identify the dead underneath that flag and casket. Why, just yesterday I saw one that had this gnarly head wound. Another one had only half a torso! It was so cool, though I’m sorry I invaded the families privacy with my X-ray vision.

  44. Apparently I’m the only one around here wondering if what actually happened here is that someone tried to take out The Beloved Leader and missed.

    I know it’s a long shot but this story reminds me of how the Soviet Union used the media to cover up their big disasters.

  45. Um, in all the Jennifer noise I didn’t notice that ‘jon’ had the same thought. Good.

  46. But why would anyone wish ill of our ‘Beloved Leader’?

  47. Me Superman. Me not concerned with other people. Their think not important. Me too scared to post real name. Me privacy too good to me. Other people think might get through.

  48. Concerning the military songs getting played; I have not seen NK media and I don’t know what is currently going on, but one thing I do know, if I hear “God Bless America” one more fucking time, I’m gonna……

    A song I used to sing with my classmates in elementary back in the day is now sending scary shivers down my spine! And it only took one week after 9/11 for this to develop.

    And one more thing, American politics is defined by voting for the lessor of two evils. That, in itself, is the problem with America. But, thank god we get to vote for the least evil do’er!

  49. Superman also made an atrocious apostrophe error. Luckily, he did so anonymously. Unless you manage to click on the link or something…

  50. Forbidding the media from showing pictures of the 700+ young men and women who have died in their war….

    Are you retarded, or just ornery? The media is not forbade in any way from publishing any such pictures. I, personally, have seen hundreds of photos of both servicemen and -women and civilians who have died in this war, in all sorts of media. What I have not seen is pictures of their remains, nor the containers within which those remains are being transported, and neither have you.

    Is it that you don’t believe they’re dead unless you see a coffin? The pictures of them when they were alive, and their greiving families being quoted in print or on the broadcast news outlets, aren’t sufficient?

    Is there anybody — aside from, like, some complete hydrocephalics — who thinks that the lack of coffin pictures is really hiding anything? Every day I can go to the NYT or the WaPo or Yahoo! News and see “More Americans killed this month than in any other in Iraq.” I can see daily body counts. I can see interviews with the families, and hear whether the death of their loved one has changed their position on the war. Every hour of every day, this information is available.

    And yet there are actually people stupid enough to think that, because they aren’t allowed to see actual coffins with actual human remains in them, that this information is being hidden.

    So, to answer my own initial query, I’m voting for “retarded.”

    By the way, Jennifer, I didn’t vote for Bush and won’t vote for him in ’04, so there goes that little theory.

  51. After personally videotaping the WTC’s collapse, I’m not much interested in seeing the NK train wreck in all its catastrophic glory. But my videotaping experience makes me wonder…

    Does no one in NK have a video recorder? Or digital phone with a camera in it? How about a film camera? Surely, not even the government can have driven every photographic device from its shores. If it hasn’t, then why don’t we ever see (or perhaps we have and I’ve just not noticed) pirate images from NK? How, in this age, can any sizable part of the earth with a huge population remain utterly opaque?

    Curious and confounded,
    AL

  52. “Is there any modern society more closed, more afraid of information, than this one?”

    Is North Korea a modern society now? When did that happen?

  53. “Does no one in NK have a video recorder? Or digital phone with a camera in it? How about a film camera?”

    It’s hard to believe there aren’t a few cameras somewhere in the country, but would anyone take pictures of the train wreck, which is presumably crawling with government types, at risk of being sent to the gulag if they are seen. It is less likely that the average North Korean would have any idea how to get the picture to the outside world, and worse, any concept of why they might want to bother.

  54. Mr. Lynch,

    Considering NK’s malnutrition problems, I don’t think many North Koreans would have video recorders or digicams. And even if they did, they’d have an awful lot of trouble getting near the crash site and then sending the video or images out of the country.

  55. “Sent to the gulag?” The whole fucking country is a gulag. People in the rural areas eat grass for Christ’s sake. The wonder isn’t that somehow a couple of trains exploded. It’s how they manage to keep ANY type of industry going, and why this shit hasn’t happened more often.

  56. I doubt very seriously that private citizens in NK are allowed to, or even have the money to, own film or video cameras. I would be really shocked if it were otherwise. How many pictures of North Korea have you seen? That weren’t released by NK’s own state-run media?

    And even if people did, what would they do with them? Send photos and videos to their local TV stations or newspapers?

  57. Dan left me the following message:

    “When you take notice of the truth, you always find a way to work in some snivelling about how Bush is evil and our country was a fuckin’ Utopia before he was elected.

    When you take notice of the truth, you always find a way to work in some snivelling about how Bush is evil and our country was a fuckin’ Utopia before he was elected.”

    Actually, I was responding to Jesse Walker’s original comment, that the North Korean media blackout was almost as disturbing as the explosion itself. And what I said was, basically, “North Korea wouldn’t let photos be shown; neither would we.” Never a word about Bush until you guys brought it up.

    My next question: what kind of fuckwit accuses me of things I did not say? Perhaps the type of fuckwit who thinks calling someone “fuckwit” is an effective form of debate.

  58. Whoops. I completely forgot to cut and paste the part where Dan did in fact throw the charming “fuckwit” expletive my way. Kind of lost the point of the thread, huh?

  59. Jennifer,

    It’s one thing to double-post your own message, but another to double-post Dan’s! 😀

  60. Does no one in NK have a video recorder? Or digital phone with a camera in it? How about a film camera? Surely, not even the government can have driven every photographic device from its shores.

    Andrew, apparently you are missing some basic facts about the North Korea.

    This country is for the most part on the infrastructural and economic level of Europe ~300 years ago. If you’re basing your impression of N. Korea on pictures of Pyongyang, forget it; That’s mostly a Potemkin phony. In the part of the country where the accident occurred there are no department stores, no fast food, no fashion trends, and no weblogs. Nobody in North Korea has ANYTHING but what the state provides them after verifying their loyalty. Nobody so much as breathes without the knowledge that a state agent could be watching. If anyone defies the state outright, he’s headed to the gulag and his whole family is on the state’s s***-list.

    Therefore, the idea of anyone breaking his carefully-monitored daily routine to drive(!) over to the rail yard and snap pictures is absurd. Furthermore, I’ve read several defector interviews, and none of them has ever mentioned the existence of any organized dissent in the country.

  61. And what I said was, basically, “North Korea wouldn’t let photos be shown; neither would we.” Never a word about Bush until you guys brought it up.

    Do you honestly think anyone buys into that horseshit?

    “Oh, I just *coincidentally* mentioned that we don’t allow photos. It has nothing to do with Bush. Nevermind that at this very moment I am whining about how the reason we don’t show photos is purely to cover Bush’s ass.”

    Sheesh. And you say Bush lies.

  62. I read that the North Korean government cut the phone lines almost immediately, to try and prevent word of this from getting out. Haven’t been able to confirm it.

  63. Apparently somebody in NK must be breaking the law, however, because there’s a non-zero black market exchange rate for the NK currency. If everybody was living life according to the will of the despot there would be no exchange of foreign currency for NK currency.

    No, I’m not saying that this black market is huge, nor am I suggesting that life isn’t as bad as it’s been portrayed. I’m just saying that clearly a few people are thumbing their noses at the regime, and I salute them.

    Of course, half the people in that black market are probably government employees, but still. To whoever is busy subverting the regime in their own tiny way, keep up the good work!

  64. Didn’t I read somewhere recently that NK is now possibly the poorest country on earth? If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if not a single private citizen owned a videocamera. I’ve seen reports on the famines there that remind me of Africa in the 80’s. I just have this suspicion from what I’ve read and seen that NK is even worse than we imagine, and probably will prove to be even worse than that if and when it finally opens up to the outside world.

  65. Patrick-

    I suspect that there probably are a few wealthy private citizens, even in NK. The black market is an amazing thing. In college I knew a few eastern European women whose fathers did quite well for themselves during Communism. Of course, survival in the black market required a certain amount of bribery, so I guess technically they still owed their living to the public sector. Nonetheless, somewhere in North Korea I have no doubt that a few people are living quite comfortably thanks to the black market.

    This is not to in any way diminish the evils of Kim Jong Il. If anything, it’s an indictment of Communism that only a handful of people can prosper, and only then by participating in a black market that is, almost by definition, full of bribery and violence.

  66. That’s an interesting theory, thoreau, but who knows??? Just as a personal anecdote: I *did* visit East Germany at the height of its “glory” (mid-80’s), and it was depressing as all get out, but most people seemed to be doing OK. I have also been to China recently, and it was much brighter in “feel” than East Germany, but obviously there are still large areas of poverty there. But I suspect North Korea is orders of magnitude worse than anything Communism had to “offer” in Eastern Europe or in (recent) China. Anyway my point is that I think it’s a mistake to get too optimistic about North Korea when we know so little about it. Plus I think that anyone who’s doing well in North Korea is doing so only with the permission of Kim Jong Il.

  67. “Do you honestly think anyone buys into that horseshit?”
    What in the hell is Dan talking about?

    When Jesse Walker asks (in reference to N.K.) “Is there any modern society more closed, more afraid of information, than this one?”, Jennifer’s first comment seems completely apropo.

    Jennifer: 1 demerit for a minor thread hijack, 10 brownie points for pissing Dan off.

  68. I apologize, but I’m not going to read all the previous comments, so if this has already been talked about, sorry… but I found this paragraph from a news report hilarious (well, it would be hilarious if it weren’t in reference to such a terrible tragedy):

    >A YTN reporter in Seoul, speaking on condition >of anonymity, told AP the network’s casualty >count came from a South Korean government >official, whom he declined to identify.

    An anonymous source cites an anonymous gov’t official. And no, I won’t tell you where I found this paragraph!

  69. Jennifer,
    I think you are way out of line. I mean you can say whatever you want, but what are you going to do next? Bring up Guantanamo bay when someone talks about the holocaust?

    I think you have an unhealthy obsession with Bush. You should look deep and figure out what it really is. Any one can mention 10 bad things about any administration off the top of their heads. Why are you really so obsessed with Bush?

  70. Kwais-
    Seriously, how does “Neither North Korea nor the United States allows photos of soldiers’ coffins” become an anti-Bush rant? Are you and your friends suggesting that nobody be allowed to make observations that might cast the current administration in a bad light?

    Nobody seems to criticize the facts I point out; you’re criticizing the conclusions the facts force you to draw. Well, too bad. Whether you like Bush or hate him, the fact remains that the Pentagon doesn’t want Americans to be given dramatic visual evidence of the number of deaths caused by this war.

    When the Branch Davidian compound went up in smoke I criticized that, too, but no one accused me of having an Anti-Clinton or anti-Reno bias. What’s the difference here?

  71. http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm

    Creepy. And I find it very odd that this website is based in Japan (.jp).

  72. Patrick, the difference you refer to, could it be what “they” did as differentiated from what “we” did? Most of the “news” is little more than a commercial for the progressives. Most of the Bush commercials are straight news that didn’t make the P.C. cut.
    I still haven’t figured whether Jennifur was Fiddle or Faddle.

  73. Patrick, my favorite quote from the site you cite involves the Chinese “deepening the bilateral understanding and confidence, strengthening mutual exchange and cooperation in all fields, intensifying the exchange of views on important international and regional issues, negotiations and cooperation as regards them and boosting economic and trade cooperation between the two countries so as to put the bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation on a new level and inject steady vitality and vigor into the traditional bilateral friendship under the new situation.”

    I read it three times before I realized that all those words mean absolutely nothing. Long live the Ministry of Information.

  74. Actually, Japan is the place to go for North Koreans. There are a lot (a lot) of criminals is Japan with strong connections to NK. Most of the criminal activities of North Korea (money laundering, kidnapping, etc) are done in Japan. Too difficult to get to SK, and China helps them enough.

    For the few nutballs that have joined the NK utopia have been visiting from Japan.

  75. I am old, so give me some help here.
    Showing people jumping from the WTC, bad.
    Showing WTC victims in a Bush ad, bad.
    Showing soldier caskets, good.
    Showing a picture of Dianna dieing, good.

    Today’s news once again confirmed the pride I have held since 1950 that I helped save South Korea from hell. [I might have saved the North if Asshole Ike had not traded away the freedom of the north to buy an election.]

  76. Seriously, what is the problem with Jennifer’s comment? Reducing the visibility of war dead ISN”T something totalitarian dictators do? Embargoes on information that could be damaging to the regime ISN’T standard practice for dictators?

    Or is it just that she was rude to the Maximum Leader?

  77. Joe-
    The hell of it is, I WASN’T being rude to our Dear Leader; I simply pointed out a similarity between our country and theirs.

  78. Well, Jennifer, they’re very sensitive to that sort of thing.

  79. Joe-
    Sensitivity is one thing, but self-delusion is another. I don’t mean to be self-centered here, but these dudes are seriously spending a lot of mental effort to hate me for things I NEVER SAID.

    Imagine an argument about gun control: I make a neutral, factual comment like “Several thousand Americans die from handgun deaths every year,” and folks pretend I actually said “Anybody who opposes gun control is an asshole and THESE DEATHS ARE ALL BUSH’S FAULT.” And they respond accordingly.

    Seriously, now–what the hell is up with that?

  80. Jennifer-

    I think you just blamed the Glorious Leader for handgun deaths. You traitor, you belong in Gitmo! Or else you should go to the Middle East where they’ll force you to wear a burka!

    Oh, wait, you just made an innocuous statement. Hmm…

  81. “Nobody seems to criticize the facts I point out; you’re criticizing the conclusions the facts force you to draw.”

    Facts never “force” anybody to draw any conclusions.

    What the other posters are criticizing is your OPINION that prohibiting pictures of flag draped coffins is comparable to the suppression of information that goes on in North Korea.

  82. Gilbert-
    Interesting take on the word “opinion.” If I say “Charlie Chaplin had a mustache just like Hitler’s” does this mean I am of the OPINION that Chaplin was a Nazi?

  83. Because really, I don’t think Chaplin was a Nazi at all. But his mustache really was Hitlerian.

  84. Jennifer, imagine if gun deaths had jumped by several thousand the year after Bush led a charge that repealed all gun laws. You can imagine how jumpy his supporters might be if you start talking about gun death statistics.

    It’s really not a big mystery where the hostility is coming from. If I were a big supporter of the Iraq War and George W. Bush, I’d be feeling a little defensive right about now, too.

  85. “Gilbert-
    Interesting take on the word “opinion.” If I say “Charlie Chaplin had a mustache just like Hitler’s” does this mean I am of the OPINION that Chaplin was a Nazi?”

    An irrelevant analogy.

    What you did was post a comment about something the US government did in a thread about North Korea’s supporession of information. If you weren’t trying to assert that there was some parallel there, you wouldn’t have said anything about it to begin with.

    If you had thought the prohibiiton of flag drapped coffin pictures was of no import, you wouldn’t have said anything to begin with.

    Your OPINION that that fact IS of ANY import is just that – your OPINION.

  86. As we recoil at the Hell that is the North Korean communist regime, shouldn’t Jennifer’s point in the first post be well taken?

    Isn’t the government’s policy on newspapers taking photographs of the coffins of dead soldiers, not to mention some of its other actions, (such as the restriction of protest to “free speech zones”) a step in the North Korean direction?

  87. 3000 dead yesterday became about 50 dead today. Not surprisingly, all kinds of reports seem credible when information is withheld.

  88. “Thank you for singlehandedly ruining the comments sections of Hit and Run.”

    No…that would be all the Bush-fellating Republicans recently trolling this site (and you know who you are).

    “Most of the Bush commercials are straight news that didn’t make the P.C. cut.”

    Which commercials would those be? The one where Bush proudly proclaims he “has a plan.” Is that “news”?

    “Most of the “news” is little more than a commercial for the progressives.”

    Huh? Which specific news stories are you referring to?

  89. Let’s just all stop our petty bickering for a moment, step back and remember how wonderful it is that we don’t live in a society like North Korea.

    Then, let’s all step forward again and get back to work making sure that we don’t become a society like North Korea.

    On the big political spectrum, our positions are all so close as to be virtually indistinguishable.

  90. That’s true. On the other hand, the early death counts after a disaster are almost always exaggerated. On 9/11, you’ll recall, there were reports that 10,000 people had been killed in the attacks.

  91. Showing people jumping from the WTC, bad.
    Showing WTC victims in a Bush ad, bad.
    Showing soldier caskets, good.
    Showing a picture of Dianna dieing, good.

    Which one of these things is not like the others? (Hint: look for the word “ad”). Anyway, you will not find *me* arguing that the first item is “bad” (unless it were used in an advertisement…). I don’t have a problem with the airing of any footage that is readily visible by the public, even if it offends the sensitive, as long as it is accompanied by suitable warnings.

  92. Most of the Bush commercials are straight news that didn’t make the P.C. cut.

    LOL

    But seriously now… the problem I have with using such images in advertising vs. news is that most advertising is blatantly misleading. In fact, I generally consider advertising to be a vile, foul business. A necessary one, perhaps, but still vile. The news, however, is biased mainly by what they leave out while advertising is deliberatey, manipulatively, biased. With news, it’s possible to keep digging thru many different sources to get the full story. With advertising, you’re just supposed to sit there and swallow what they tell you. Get it?

  93. So advertisement doesn’t count as free speech? Not even political advertisement? I thought ads had just as much potential to communicate ideas as other forms of speech. Apparently you DO have a problem with the airing of certain footage. I swear sometimes I think some of you actually support the Dems or the GOP. Sickos.

  94. “If you had thought the prohibiiton of flag drapped coffin pictures was of no import, you wouldn’t have said anything to begin with.”

    You clearly don’t understand how the H&R Comments section works.

    “Most of the Bush commercials are straight news…” Put the partisan blinders aside for a moment. George Bush is a politician. He lies for a living, like all politicians. He’s one of those people who walks up to strangers on the street with a button with his own name on it, and starts talking to them about how wonderful he is – except on a much grander scale. For you to claim that the million dollar ads put out by such a person’t multi-million dollar campaign organization are “straight news” demonstrates a faith in politicians that is deeply misguided. Read what you just wrote, Walter.

  95. Gilbert, the government banned people from taking photographs of the coffins because they feared the political fallout of the public seeing that imagery. You really don’t see how that is similar to something that a totalitarian dictator would do?

  96. TJ-
    Thanks for your support, but on the other hand pissing off somene like Dan is kind of like swatting flies with the Empire State Building. No challenge at all. Anyone incapable of crafting a response without some variant of “fuckwit,” “fuckhead” or “horseshit” probably wasn’t Captain of the Debate Team in high school, if you get my drift.

    Incidentally, memoryhole.org wona Freedom of Information act request to show the pictures of the coffins.

  97. Hmm. Just re-read the whole post. Not to bring about another round of me-bashing, but am I the only one who’s noticed that “fuckwits” like Dan are perfectly willing to throw expletives my way when other posters back them up, but as soon as others agree that I might have a point, the venomous ones all slink away?
    Pffft. Wussies.

  98. http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2004/200404/news04/23.htm#7
    http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm

    If you believe what you read here, you might be a redneck, er, communist, er something…

  99. Drudge is saying those coffins aren’t actually war dead. FWIW.

  100. Testing-
    I know. The Pentagon was forced, under the Freedom of Information act, to turn over the photographs, and they turned over the wrong ones. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was an honest mistake; one flag-draped coffin looks pretty much like any other.

  101. Joe-
    Did you ever take psychology in college, or read it on your own? Remember that whole thing about “projection?” The cheating husband accuses his wife of adulterous thoughts. The repressed homosexual cries “faggot” to every man below the spaghetti-Western level of masculinity. The dolts on this thread cry “partisanship!” at any comment other than “Three cheers for the red, white and blue.”

  102. Unfortunately for joe, thoreau, Jennifer and others who either view gun owners with outright contempt(like joe), or just like to make smug condescending comments about them under a thin veil of amateurish sarcasm and mediocre subtlety (thoreau, Jennifer), gun deaths probably wouldn’t go up by the thousands if all gun laws were repealed anyway.

  103. Joe said:

    “You clearly don’t understand how the H&R Comments section works.”

    The only response necessary to that is:

    Sez you!

  104. Gilbert, the government banned people from taking photographs of the coffins because they feared the political fallout of the public seeing that imagery. You really don’t see how that is similar to something that a totalitarian dictator would do?

    Your assertions as to the reasons for the Pentagon ban on the photos is merely your OPINION – not a fact.

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