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.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0134 GMT (0934 HKT)
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations