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Sunday, December 8, 2013
Purple State Of Mind News
Tracking Purple State of Mind across America…
For anyone sick of turkey, great news! We’re about to sit down to several weeks of lame duck. Senator Lindsey Graham has already made clear that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ won’t be repealed in this last bit of session before the end of the year, but what else won’t get done?
While we play the guessing game, there’s plenty elsewhere to distract us. In fact, if we’re not mistaken, an air of crisis seems likely to pervade the final days of 2010. Everywhere we look, we see signs of disturbances in the field.
Has anyone looked up the word Koreanness lately? For the past decade, that term has governed relations between the North and South on the Korean peninsula. At some level, Koreanness refers to an over-arching ethnicity, signified, for instance, by the national dish of kimchi, which citizens of Seoul and Pyongyang share in common. But it also means the policy of detente that has existed between the two countries for the past ten years at least, an attempt to ratchet back tensions, to ease up on opposition, to reach across the DMZ and declare a form of provisional brotherhood.
By most accounts, the missiles that North Korea sent flying into civilian populations in the Yellow Sea last week reduced the concept of Koreanness to rubble. Two people were killed, and buildings on the island of Yeongpyong were destroyed, which is bad enough, but the principled attempt to get along begins to look equally vulnerable. Koreanness allowed both sides to see past their differences just enough to forget they were essentially still at war. Maybe it was just denial, but sometimes that’s better than the altenative.
China has proposed six-party talks, but what will be on the table? And what the conditions? Once one country has killed citizens of another country without provocation, the terms of any discussion must be fraught.
Speaking of fraught, the United States government looks to be experiencing its Napster moment with the threatened release of hundreds of thousands of classified State Department documents by Wikileaks. The White House has asked Wikileaks bad boy Julian Assange to put the cap back in the bottle and return every last one of the documents, no questions asked, but that seems an optimistic sort of request. Here at Purple State, it looks to us like the problem might be systemic. Assange or no Assange, has the idea of privileged government information become now as old-fashioned as that of a music copyright or a hardback book?
If Assange backs off, that will give State a reprieve, but it’s probably wise to anticipate more trouble. Our notion of personal privacy has been eroding for years under the pressure of advancing technology. How can that erosion fail to impact the governments of the world?
Finally, guaranteed to spark discussion in coming days, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens weighs in on the death penalty in the latest issue of The New York Review Of Books. Turning the tables on decades of conservative activism, Justice Stevens accuses unnamed of his colleagues on the bench of judicial activism in the effort to undermine protections for those facing the death sentence.
Oh snap, ss the Justices like to say.
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