Part of complete coverage from
Podcast: Kim's tantrum--with nuclear weapons
April 5, 2013 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
- This week's CNN Radio podcast features CNN Opinion contributors on top three stories
- Podcast offers views of John Avlon, Margaret Hoover and Dean Obeidallah
- Panelists exchange views on N Korea threats, N.Carolina push for a state religion
- Panelists also discuss poll showing conspiracy theories run along partisan lines
(CNN) -- This week on The Big Three we tackle North Korea's nuclear threats, North Carolina's push for an official state religion and a new poll that shows conspiracy theories proliferate along partisan lines across the USA.
North Korea: Objectively, the presence of a nuclear rogue state threatening the United States with missile attack is grave and serious news. But the fact that this is North Korea -- a communist dictatorship prone to throwing tempter tantrums on the geopolitical stage solely for attention and cash infusions--cuts the solemnity with a Groundhog Day quality. We've seen this movie before. But this is a dangerous game for all involved -- especially South Korea and the 30,000 U.S. troops in the DMZ. With the escalation ongoing, all we can say for sure right now is that Dennis Rodman's naïve try for personal diplomacy with North Korea was an air ball.
A state religion?: In North Carolina, social conservatives seem to have set up a collision course with the U.S. Constitution, in a bid to assert that Christianity is the official state religion. This effort was inspired by an ACLU lawsuit that attempted to force county officials to stop beginning meetings with a prayer, illustrating the cycle of incitement that too often pulls our political arguments off-center. But the subsequent debate about separation of church and state is not one that will help the national Republican Party with its rebranding.
Partisan paranoia: Finally, a new poll found that absurd conspiracy theories are sadly alive and well in the USA. These range from the self-evidently absurd (an alien race of lizard people secretly run the world) to old chestnuts like the moon landing was faked.
But of more serious concerns are the partisan divides beneath the competing conspiracy theories, including majorities of Republicans believing that global warming is a hoax and majorities of Democrats believing that the Bush administration intentionally lied about WMD's in Iraq to get the USA to invade (Margaret and Dean have a particularly lively debate on that one).
Most distressing to me is the finding that 20% of Republicans believe that Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. Not much to say about that, except to once again point out how much hyper-partisan media is corroding our country's capacity for rational debate. As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."
That idea is the foundation of our debates here on The Big Three. We hope you enjoy.
Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.
Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.
The opinions in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.
Part of complete coverage on
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says a poll of 14 Muslim-majority nations show people are increasingly opposed to extremism.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spending more on immigation enforcement isn't going to stop the flow of people seeking refuge in the U.S.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Faisal Gill had top security clearance and worked for the Department of Homeland Security. That's why it was a complete shock to learn the NSA had him under surveillance.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
Kevin Sabet says the scientific verdict is that marijuana can be dangerous, and Colorado should be a warning to states contemplating legalizing pot.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
World War I ushered in an era of chemical weapons use that inflicted agonizing injury and death. Its lethal legacy lingers into conflicts today, Paul Schulte says
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Tom Foley and Ben Zimmer say Detroit's recent bankruptcy draws attention to a festering problem in America -- cities big and small are failing to keep up with change.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Mel Robbins says many people think there's "something suspicious" about Leanna Harris. But there are other interpretations of her behavior
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Newt Gingrich warns that President Obama's border plan spends too much and doesn't do what is needed
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
Amy Bass says Germany's rout of Brazil on its home turf was brutal, but in defeat the Brazilian fans' respect for the victors showed why soccer is called 'the beautiful game'
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
Errol Lewis says if it really wants to woo black voters away from the Democrats, the GOP better get behind its black candidates
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
Aaron Carroll explains how vaccines can prevent illnesses like measles, which are on the rise
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Aaron Miller says if you think the ongoing escalation between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will force a moment of truth, better think again
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died so blacks would no longer be viewed as inferior but rather enjoy the same inherent rights given to whites in America.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1147 GMT (1947 HKT)
Alex Castellanos says recent low approval ratings spell further trouble for the President
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0349 GMT (1149 HKT)
Paul Begala says Boehner's plan to sue Obama may be a stunt for the tea party, or he may be hoping the Supreme Court's right wing will advance the GOP agenda that he could not
July 6, 2014 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
The rapture is a bizarre teaching in fundamentalist circles, made up by a 19th-century theologian, says Jay Parini. It may have no biblical validity, but is a really entertaining plot device in new HBO series
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1749 GMT (0149 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette: President Obama needs to send U.S. marshals to protect relocating immigrant kids.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Norman Matloff says a secret wage theft pact between Google, Apple and others highlights ethics problems in Silicon Valley.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
Naseem Tuffaha says the killing of Israeli teenagers has rightly brought the world's condemnation, but Palestinian victims like his cousin's slain son have been largely reduced to faceless, nameless statistics.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2028 GMT (0428 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says charging the dad in the hot car death case with felony murder, predicated on child neglect, was a smart strategic move.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
Van Jones says our nation is sitting on a goldmine of untapped talent. The tech companies need jobs, young Latinos and blacks need jobs -- so how about a training pipeline?
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
A drug that holds hope in the battle against hepatitis C costs $1,000 per pill. We can't solve a public health crisis when drug makers charge such exorbitant prices, Karen Ignagni says.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1133 GMT (1933 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says our political environment is filled with investigations or accusations of another scandal; all have their roots in the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon
July 6, 2014 -- Updated 1814 GMT (0214 HKT)
Sally Kohn says Boehner's lawsuit threat is nonsense that wastes taxpayer money, distracts from GOP's failure to pass laws to help Americans
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Speaker John Boehner says President Obama has circumvented Congress with his executive actions and plans on filing suit against the President this month
Today's five most popular stories