FOR LOVERS OF JAZZ; MARIAN McPARTLAND R.I.P.- TERRY TEACHOUT When Marian McPartland died last week at the age of 95, the obituaries devoted roughly equal time to her career as a jazz pianist, her second career as the founder and longtime host of NPR’s “Piano Jazz,” and the fact that she was a woman. That’s fair enough: “Piano Jazz” was the most influential […]


Miley Cyrus, take note: Acting out lewdly at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards might have garnered some stinging public criticism for the former Disney child star. But consider the fate of Hyon Song Wol in Pyongyang.

According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, Hyon, a popular North Korean singer, was arrested August 17 and executed three days later, along with a dozen members of her orchestra. The charge was that she had made a sex tape, later released in China, with another musician, and, incongruously, that they also had Bibles in their possession. “‘They were executed with machine guns while the key members of [their bands] as well as the families of the victims looked on,'” the Chosun reports, citing a source. The families of the executed were then sent to prison camps.

Hyon was also the ex-girlfriend of “Great Successor” Kim Jong Un, the North’s 29 year-old dictator. The Chosun reports that the two had been an item a decade ago but were ordered to break it off by Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il. The younger Kim then married Ri Sol Ju, a former bandmate of Hyon, who married a soldier.

This being North Korea, it’s hard to tell if the executions are a case of Kim’s vindictiveness as an ex-boyfriend, Ri’s jealousy as a wife, or something else. The executions coincide with the reported purging of Kim Ok, Kim Jong Il’s last wife and Kim Jong Un’s stepmother. That would be in keeping with Kim Jong Un’s broader effort to purge his father’s military and political cronies as he consolidates his power.

The manic cruelty of the North Korean regime, reaching from the bottom of society to its upper echelons, may sometimes seem like a subject best suited for parody. But it was no joke for Hyon, her fellow musicians or their families. That’s something for South Korea, the Obama Administration and the rest of the civilized world to remember when they seek the next rapprochement with the Kims.

A version of this article appeared August 30, 2013, on page A12 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Breaking Up Badly in Pyongyang.

DAVID MALPASS: A DEBT CEILING STRATEGY FOR THE GOP Republicans can’t force major changes to ObamaCare. But they can make Democrats vote for bigger government. When the debt limit expires later this year, it will provide one of the few remaining opportunities to slow the Obama administration’s expansion of government. The $831 billion 2009 stimulus package has morphed into trillions of dollars of […]

DAVID ISAAC:America’s ‘Peace Process’ Playbook With U.S.-brokered, Arab-Israeli talks in process, it’s helpful to become familiar with U.S. tactics, which follow a continuity little changed. This isn’t surprising given the American objective is to force Israel to make concessions which it shouldn’t, but always does. The State Department knows better than to mess with success. The first tactic […]

ROGER KIMBALL ON SYRIA   Aristotle gives Obama a lesson about Syria. What is the right thing to do about Syria? On the one hand you have the thuggish Assad regime, which has murdered thousands in the past year. I doubt whether Vogue will be running more pieces like “A Rose In the Desert” any time soon. That now-notorious […]

JIM VANDEHEI: THE IRONIC WAR PLAN Imagine Dick Cheney in a “Saturday Night Live” skit fantasizing about Barack Obama handling the pressures of going to war. Cheney’s sitting there, yucking it up with Rummy and the boys, eating yellow cake. He laughs off his own reckless rush to an unwinnable war fought on flawed grounds. His thought bubble pops up. […]

THE ALLIES RESPONSE TO ACTION ON SYRIA British lawmakers reject military action in Syria, in setback for Obama administration Read more: British lawmakers on Thursday voted against military intervention in Syria, in a major setback for both British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Obama administration in their push to punish the Assad regime for an alleged chemical weapons strike. […]


Bill Siegel is the author of The Control Factor: Our Struggle to See the True Threat published by Hamilton Books.

Many today are questioning the policy behind the possible kinetic military activity President Barack Obama has threatened in Syria. The administration is claiming that, while compelled to act in response to illegal chemical weapons use, such action is in no way to be considered a step toward any meaningful change in the balance of power in the region.

On its face, such an approach is patently ridiculous; perhaps the predictable outcome when the foreign policy children that populate this administration — the Ladies of Syria (including Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Samantha Power) along with others such as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry (who both Peter Principled their way up years ago) — are truly incapable to lead our nation in any adult fashion.

Yet even this group must be fully aware that a simple kinetic bombing cannot be contained. If the US is to simply hit and run, what is to be accomplished? Do they trust that the other players in the region will stand by for an action that does nothing? Do they think the glaring contradictions with former stances taken against the Bush administration’s Middle East policies will go unnoticed? Do they not see that such action will afford many interested parties the rationale for further anti-US action; be it al Qaeda, Syria, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Russia, China, and so on?

It is certainly true that Obama put himself in this position by drawing a red line for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Our nation’s Left Wing media has so effectively trained Obama that he scores points when he employs his “Big Daddy” attitude and threatens Congress or Israel or others who dare to complicate his job. Unfortunately, most of the world — from Vladimir Putin to Li Keqiang to Kim Jong Un to Egyptian General Al Sisi — responds differently from Sasha and Malia. One too many times Emperor Obama exposed himself wearing no clothes.


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Attempting to quell criticism of his proposal for a limited military mission in Syria, President Obama floated a more modest strategy today, saying that any U.S. action in Syria would have “no objective whatsoever.”

“Let me be clear,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Our goal will not be to effect régime change, or alter the balance of power in Syria, or bring the civil war there to an end. We will simply do something random there for one or two days and then leave.”

“I want to reassure our allies and the people of Syria that what we are about to undertake, if we undertake it at all, will have no purpose or goal,” he said. “This is consistent with U.S. foreign policy of the past.”

While Mr. Obama clearly hoped that his proposal of a brief and pointless intervention in Syria would reassure the international community, it immediately drew howls of protest from U.S. allies, who argued that two days was too open-ended a timeframe for such a mission.

That criticism led White House spokesman Jay Carney to brief reporters later in the day, arguing that the President was willing to scale down the U.S. mission to “twenty-four hours, thirty-six tops.”

“It may take twenty-four hours, but it could also take twelve,” Mr. Carney said.

“Maybe we get in there, take a look around, and get out right away. But however long it takes, one thing will not change: this mission will have no point. The President is resolute about that.”

SARAH HONIG: SO THE WORLD IS AGAINST US Around our troubled planet, constructing an apartment for a Jewish family in a vibrant veteran Jewish neighborhood – an indivisible part and parcel of the Jewish state’s capital – is decried as an unpardonable a sin against all the kind-heartedness and fair-mindedness that the international community purports to effuse. This isn’t just the clichéd […]