Let's Fix This Country

north korea

With North Korea, Are We Back at Square One?

When President Trump walked away from Kim Jong-un's offer, Democrats began breathing again after fearing he would give away too much and called the summit a failure. Republicans tried to make it a success, applauding Trump for toughness in turning down a deal that no fool would have accepted.

The summit failed for lack of preparation, for neither side knowing the other's demands, for not having worked out agreements well beforehand by each
country's negotiators, for not thereby following the usual protocol of the heads of state only then arriving to shake hands, sign the finished document, enjoy a fine dinner punctuated by flowery toasts, and go home.

But Mr. Trump wants to substitute his personal, one-on-one diplomacy, cutting the deals himself in the belief he is a master deal-maker who will charm foreign leaders into accepting his position. Instead, Mr. Kim offered only to dismantle an important nuclear facility, demanding in return that the U.S. lift sanctions in their entirety. All other weapons facilities would be left in place with the hermit country free to continue development of fissionable material and missiles. It wasn't an offer; it was an affront. It came as a rude surprise to the flummoxed Mr. Trump who who said "Sometimes you have to walk away" and cut out early.

So where does that leave us? The U.S. has not even sorted out its own position. At last June's Singapore summit we said that if North Korea commits to complete…

Trump Will Not Go Gently

Signaling he'll fight leaving office

The last thing Michael Cohen said as a day of hearings before the House oversight committee ended was, "Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power". Far-fetched? In an interview with Breitbart last week, Trump said this:

"I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the toughest people, but they don't play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad".

Donny Deutsch, something of a New York fixture — he founded a marketing communications agency, became a business television personality, and now

often comments on left-wing talk shows — knows Donald Trump and is a good friend of Michael Cohen. He knows what Cohen knows about Trump. Deutsch has repeatedly sounded the alarm about the president. In January he said about impeachment:

"He's going to tell people to take to the streets. He owns 50-60 [million], how many voters, about 30%?. He's going to say 'They're trying to take your president away. Don't let them do it. We're going to the streets. We're going to…

governing

Trump Defies Intelligence Chiefs and Shuns Briefings Say Leaked Schedules

In a dangerous world, he finds national security threatened only on the Mexican border

Once again we were made aware of the chilling disconnect between President Trump and his intelligence chiefs when, after their annual briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee of the threats we face around the world, he tweeted the
Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: L. to R.: Christopher Wray, head of the F.B.I.; Gina Haspel, C.I.A. director; Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence                


next morning that the chiefs were “passive and naïve” and suggested they “should go back to school”.

The disconnect was simultaneously borne out by a Time magazine article citing officials who witnessed "multiple, in-person" instances of the president exhibiting "willful ignorance" at his daily intelligence briefings, and by a leak to online…

intelligence

What the Intelligence Chiefs Said. What Trump Thinks

In the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings at the end of January, the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, had this to say:

"The composition of the current threats we face is a toxic mix of strategic competitors, regional powers, weak or failed states and non-state actors using a variety of tools in overt and subtle ways to achieve their goals.

President Trump often has a more benign view. Below are some of his statements, each followed by what one or another of the intelligence chiefs had to say in the hearing.

Toe to toe

July 18, 2018: Reporter: "Is Russia still targeting the U.S. Mr. President?" Donald Trump answered: "Thank you very much. No."

January 29, 2019: Coats: "We expect Russia to continue to wage its information war against democracies."

January 12, 2019: Trump: On Fox News with Jeanine Pirro: "The whole Russia thing, it's a hoax. It's a…

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fact check

Trump Says Asking Russia to Find Clinton’s Email Was Just Good Fun

At CPAC, the annual gathering of conservatives in the first weekend of March, President Trump said about his request for Russia to find Hillary Clinton's 30,000 missing emails that the media can't take a joke:

If you tell a joke, if you're sarcastic, if you're having fun with the audience, if you're on live television with millions of people and 25,000 people in an arena and if you say something like 'Russia, please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton's e-mail. Please, Russia, please. Please get us the e-mail! Please!'.
So everybody's laughing, we're all having good time, I'm laughing, we're all having fun and then that fake CNN and others say [Trump shifts to an announcer's deep voice] 'He asked Russia to go get the e-mails. Horrible!'"

There was no arena, there weren't 25,000, no one was laughing, no one was having a good time. It was July 27, 2016. Trump was in Florida standing at an indoor podium taking questions from the media:


Double-click to expand and play video. Press ESC to close.

MSNBC television reporter Katy Tur asked,

"Do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government, Russia, China, anybody -- to interfere, to hack into a system of… Read More »

slicing the pie

Welcome to the Roaring Teens

The 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the 150 million Americans who comprise the bottom 60% of the wealth pyramid. That was brought to light in a new study by University of California at Berkeley economists who say that U.S. wealth concentration has arrived at the levels of the Roaring Twenties Comment?
old school tithe

And he said Obama played too much golf

Here's some good news: Donations to universities is 2018 totaled $46.73 billion. Not so good: Just 20 colleges, serving only 1.6% of the nation's 19.9 million undergraduate students, got 28% of that money. Leading the pack were Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia, and three of which already have gigantic endowment funds. Comment?
old school tithe

Does your alma mater need the money?

Here's some good news: Donations to universities is 2018 totaled $46.73 billion. Not so good: Just 20 colleges, serving only 1.6% of the nation's 19.9 million undergraduate students, got 28% of that money. Leading the pack were Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia, and three of which already have gigantic endowment funds. Comment?

trade

Something Tells Us the China Trade Deal Will Not End Well

March 1 was to have been the deadline on which President Trump intended to raise tariffs on $200 billion of imports from China from 10% to 25% if a trade agreement were not reached. It hasn't and the deadline has been put off. Mr. Trump is claiming that the two sides are "very, very close" to a deal, but more truthful accounts say that there are intractable issues.

Trump had already put off the meeting with China's President Xi Jinping that was to have taken place before the deadline, and is now poclaimng that there will be a "signing summit" with Mr. Xi on a date not yet specified. The concern is that after months of hard-nosed negotiating by the U.S. Trade Representative,
A recent Wall Street Journal article reports a wave of farm
bankruptcies to which the lost sales to China in retaliation
for tariffs play the major role.

Robert Lighthizer, the president, who has made friendship the priority with Mr. Xi, might be easily swayed by the Chinese strongman and give away too much. "I find China, frankly, in many ways to be far more honorable" than the Democrats blocking his wall, he said on the way to his helicopter days ago. In a one-on-one meeting that he might undercut whatever gains have been achieved in negotiations is the worry. "This president wants a deal", said Kellyanne Conway.

Trump is fixated on the trade deficit and has repeatedly signaled that his priority is for China to buy more goods from the U.S. Far more important than selling more commodities to China is forcing an end to their mercantilist practices that favor their own industries and economy to the disadvantage of its trading partners.… Read More »

trade

Maybe Tariffs Aren’t All That Bad

We have become so immersed in free market doctrine since the debut of Reagan conservatism that "tariff" has become a dirty word. Between the simple-minded insistence by the right for unadulterated free trade unencumbered by regulation, and the go-along embrace of globalization by the left, we have succumbed to the belief that these mechanisms, left to their own devices, will result in an equitable sharing among peoples. Billions have been lifted out of poverty, yes, but jobs in the millions have been transferred across borders and serious imbalances in deficits and debt have arisen between nations.

Donald Trump, with an anger first aimed at Japan and then at China that dates from public declarations by him unchanged from three decades back, has waded in with a mission to engineer trade parity. Past presidents from Clinton onward have allowed China unrestricted access and exports to the United States, while allowing China to block a broad swath of service industries from entering their country and extracting trade secrets from those American companies allowed in. To his credit, Trump has challenged… Read More »

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