March 9, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 12:49 PM


Dennis Rodman Is Happy His Pals Trump and Kim Plan to Meet (Adam K. Raymond, 3/09/18, New York)

Posted by orrinj at 10:56 AM


Donald Trump has given North Korea what it wanted: to be treated as an equal (GEORGE EATON, 3/09/18, New Statesman)

[T]he agreement to talks is, in itself, a reward. North Korea is close to achieving what it has long craved: a meeting with the US on equal terms. Far from being crazed, the Stalinist state's nuclear programme has long rested on rational foundations. The fearsome project grants the isolated country diplomatic leverage. For Kim, the lesson of the fall of Saddam and Gaddafi is that tyrants pay a price for relinquishing their arms. The threats from the US have strengthened the regime by reinforcing a siege mentality.

North Korea will not now turn swords into ploughshares without a security guarantee and the softening or abolition of sanctions. Indeed, it may have no intention of doing so at all. By forcing the US to address it as an equal, on the eve of its 70th anniversary, North Korea has already achieved a remarkable victory.

Posted by orrinj at 4:39 AM


As the Trial of Omar Mateen's Wife Begins, New Evidence Undermines Beliefs About the Pulse Massacre, Including Motive (Glenn Greenwald, Murtaza Hussain, March 5 2018, The Intercept)

NEWLY RELEASED EVIDENCE today calls into serious doubt many of the most widespread beliefs about the 2016 shooting by Omar Mateen at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which killed 49 people, along with Mateen himself. Because the attack occurred on the club's "Latin night," the overwhelming majority of the victims were Latinos, primarily Puerto Ricans.

In particular, Mateen went to Pulse only after having scouted other venues that night that were wholly unrelated to the LGBT community, only to find that they were too defended by armed guards and police, and ultimately chose Pulse only after a generic Google search for "Orlando nightclubs" -- not "gay clubs" -- produced Pulse as the first search result.

Several journalists closely covering the Mateen investigation have, for some time now, noted the complete absence of any evidence suggesting that Mateen knew that Pulse was a gay club or that targeting the LGBT community was part of his motive. These doubts have been strongly fortified by the new facts, previously under seal, that were revealed by today's court filing.

Posted by orrinj at 4:38 AM


New peril for moderate Dems: Voters happy with Trump's economy (Alexi McCammond, 3/09/18, Axios)

Half of all voters in the 10 states that voted for Trump but have Democratic senators say the economy is better off now than it was a year ago, according to new Axios/SurveyMonkey polls. And in nine of the states majorities approve of the GOP tax law. run against the economy during a global boom?

Posted by orrinj at 4:35 AM


U.S. allies line up for exemptions from Trump's tariffs (Robin Emmott, Ruby Lian, Aaron Sheldrick, 3/09/18, Reuters) 

Brazil, which after Canada is the biggest steel supplier to the U.S. market, said it wanted to join the list. "We will work to exclude Brazil from this measure," Acting Trade Minister Marcos Jorge told Reuters after meeting U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Argentina made a similar case.

Japan, the United States' top economic and military ally in Asia, was next in line. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Japan's steel and aluminum shipments posed no threat to U.S. national security.

Posted by orrinj at 4:35 AM


Trump's Trade War Backfires As Red States Defy Him (Eric Boehlert, March 9, 2018,

More than 100 Republican members of the House have signed off on a letter condemning Trump's looming tariffs. That's a rare occurrence for a GOP whose obsequiousness to Trump has become a hallmark.

Rushing in to try to stop Trump as he blindly readies his plan to impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, angry Republican politicians, especially red state representatives, are getting an up-close look at what it's like dealing with an erratic, illogical president.

In Wisconsin, which went for Trump by the narrowest of margins, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has warned that tariffs could hurt the state's canning and beer industries. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has also condemned the looming trade war. And Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) lamented how the White House doesn't understand today's global economy.

Red state leaders are freaking out, and not only because most of them oppose Trump's protectionist agenda: Many realize the real damage could come when U.S. trading partners strike back -- and the states that are going to pay the highest price are the GOP states that voted for Trump.

Posted by orrinj at 4:24 AM


God Wills it! The War on Terror as the Launching of an American Crusade (James Carroll, 3/09/18, Middle East Online)

A fever dream of a war "This is a new kind of evil." So said the president that September 16th, standing on the South Lawn of the White House. "And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while." In that way, only five days after the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush elevated a band of petty nihilists to the status of world-historic warriors. "And the American people must be patient," he continued. "I'm going to be patient."

He, of course, is long gone, but what he initiated that day is still unspooling. It could have been so different. September 11th was a tragic moment, but the initial reactions of most Americans to those collapsed towers and a damaged Pentagon were ones of empathy and patriotism. The selflessness of first responders that day had its echo in a broad and surprising manifestation of national altruism. The usual left-right divides of politics disappeared and the flag, for once, became a true symbol of national unity. The global reaction was similar. From across the world, including from erstwhile adversaries like Russia and China, came authentic expressions of support and sympathy, of grief-struck affection.

But in every phrase the president would speak in those weeks -- "this is war... with us or against us... dead or alive" -- he chose to take this country on quite a different path into the future.

Two days before invoking the Crusades, for instance, he presided over a religious service, which, though officially defined as "ecumenical," took place in the neo-Gothic National Cathedral. "Just three days removed from these events," he said from that church's pulpit, "Americans do not yet have the distance of history. But our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil... This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing."

In a specifically Christian setting, that is, George W. Bush answered the criminal attacks of 9/11 not by calling on international law enforcement to bring the perpetrators to justice, but by a declaration of cosmic war aimed at nothing less than the elimination of Islamist evil. 

The difficulty, for Mr. Carroll, is that Donald, like he, is an isolationist/Realist, who would have been fine with just killing a few terrorists but leaving the Middle East stuck in genocidal dictatorship and authoritarian misery.  The truth that those who oppose the WoT elide is that their position is pro-Saddam, pro-Assad, pro-Qaddafi, pro-Mubarak, pro-Sa'ud, etc. It is literally no different than opposing the removal of Hitler and the USSR.