A Masterclass on Negotiation

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So last Wednesday was a weird one.  Without even getting into the insanity and outright Republican trainwreck which was the Michael Cohen hearing, Donald Trump also went to Hanoi, Vietnam to hang out with his buddy Kim Jon Un and did…nothing.  Like, not a damn thing.  Which is weird.  Like, don’t get me wrong, Trump’s incompetence is foregone, but it seems like Trump’s negotiation team, lead by Mike Pompeo had already hammered out a few small things, including a possible declaration that the Korean War was over (I mean, it’s technically been a cold was since the 50s), which might very well have cinched up that Nobel Peace Prize Trump has been coveting, but in a wild turn of events, Trump pulled an about face and walked away from negotiations before doing ANYTHING.  I know Trump supporters are saying some dumb thing about good deal making allowing for the possibility of walking away at any time, and I suppose there is something to that, but part of that you walking away with the most leverage.  And while North Korea would LIKE to have their sanctions eased, they clearly don’t NEED it. They’ve been dealing with crazy sanctions on some level or another for a couple of decades now, ever since we found out about the severe human rights violations that are the way of life for North Korean citizens.  So what was the point of this summit at this point?  It was just a colossal waste of time and money, which is really going to end up being the tagline of this administration.


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Donald Trump’s attitude towards Kim Jong Un is starting to get remarkably unsettling.  It was unusual when he defended the behavior and overall personality of Kim.  It was gross to hear him say that they “fell in love”, and it’s downright disturbing that he’s passing notes through the South Korean president with a message that says he’s ready to “fulfil his wishes”.  That’s…a weird thing to say to anyone, much less a hostile foreign power.  I mean, what’s next between those two?  How much weirder will it get when they meet again?  It get’s more worrying still when you consider that Kim isn’t fulfilling any of his promises.  He’s still moving forward with his nuclear programs, still firing off test missiles.  So what exactly is the win here?  That Trump has a new boy crush?  It feels like everyone is losing out here…

Buying Loyalty

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Donald Trump’s wholesale support of Mohammed Bin Salman and his involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is disturbing and wrong, and for more reasons than him taking the word of a potential hostile foreign power over his own intelligence which has categorically concluded that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was directly involved with the order.  I mean don’t get me wrong, that is bad.  But considering his dismissal of his intelligence officials in the past, especially regarding the Kremlin’s interference into the 2016 election.  So that part, while awful and discouraging, is less than surprising.  It’s only when you take a closer look into Trump’s logic of sticking by the Saudis does this whole thing start feeling more gross.  So, Trump says that he doesn’t want to ruin potentially lucrative deals between the US and Saudi Arabia.  He cites a “$110 billion arms deal” and falling gas prices as important factors in his decision to side with them.  But even if it were acceptable to worry about business dealings over human rights violations (it isn’t), the logic doesn’t hold up on closer inspection.  Seriously, think about it.  His $110 billion arms deal is mostly a fiction.  While I suppose there is a potential for that kind of purchase, deals like these have been made many times over the years, often leading to only a fraction of the sales negotiated.  At this point, Saudi Arabia has only purchased about 10% of the $110 billion they might buy.  Also, the “falling gas prices”?  Still worse than they were even 2 years ago.  Trump is lying to prop up business deals which are by his own measure of success, bad.  So why would Trump go to bat for the Royal Family?  Well, I can’t say for sure.  It could be he is just genuinely friendly with them, likes them and wants to protect them, but I would wager it might have something to do with all the things they buy from Trump.  He’s sold them apartments, and even an whole floor of the Trump Tower in New York.  They stay at his hotels, they bought a yacht from him in the 90s.  Make no mistake, they have invested in Trump’s own personal wealth to a substantial degree.  And if that’s what it takes to avoid rebuke on a political level, then I hope no one starts suggesting to Kim Jong Un that he goes apartment hunting with Trump any time soon.

The Greatest Love Story

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You know, people, myself included, have been making jokes about Donald Trump’s weird admiration for Kim Jong Un since the summit in Singapore.  It was easy to make jokes about the idea that they are buddies based entirely on his lack of criticism, his weird inability to call him Kim out on his atrocities, and his willingness to applaud his despotic tendencies.  It wasn’t much to go on, but it was still an easy enough connection to make.  Then, at a rally in West Virginia, Trump flatly says “We fell in love.” He went on to talk about the beautiful letters Kim wrote him, and reiterated, for anyone who wasn’t clear, that they “fell in love.”  I mean…what?  Kim Jong Un is a despot who subjugates his citizens, keeps them starving and impoverished, and propagandizes his divinity and superiority over the rest of the world.  This is a man who Donald Trump openly says he fell in love with.  Good to know where Trump’s sense of perspective is.


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So the White House has announced that they are planning another summit with the leadership of North Korea.  And to that I ask…why?  What is the point?  Listen, I think it’s important to continue to dialogue with North Korea, and to try and get them to do what they agreed to do, but these ceremonial “talks” are nothing but theater if all that’s going to happen is a victory declared, and then nothing changes.  And listen, I don’t know what the right move going forward with North Korea is. But it’s clear that neither does Donald Trump.  If the only purpose that an event like this is for Trump to meet with a dictator, and then come back and tell us all what a swell guy he his, and how good of friend they are, then it’s clear to me that there are more effective ways to be spending time.  I don’t know.  Maybe that’s just my opinion.  A summit with a leader of a hostile foreign nation isn’t supposed to be two bros bro-ing out for some bro-laughs.  Not when avoiding a nuclear holocaust is on the table.  It just occurs to me that the taxpayers should have to foot the bill for a glorified sleepover.

Trump Rules the World: Season 2

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The San Diego Comic Convention has come and gone, and all the new movie and tv previews are hitting the internet.  And I felt like when I was watching the previews for shows like the Walking Dead and Titans…that fiction was feeling less strange than reality.  Honestly, if it turned out that there actually ARE Lizard People are running the government and that Donald Trump was one, or that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have been turning Congress into an undead, zombie horde, echo chamber of yes men, that would be less surprising than ANYTHING I saw in the Aquaman trailer.  If 5 years ago, I pitched the actual events of the Trump presidency to AMC as their new Breaking Bad, I’d be a wealthy man right now.

Everything is Awesome

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He’s still pretending everything is cool with North Korea!  Despite literally everything seemingly falling apart, North Korean officials all but saying so.  Also, those remains that Trump kept harping on?  Where are they?  They’re certainly not here.  North Korea has continued accelerating their nuclear program on a number of levels…it’s a fiasco guys  It’s a FIASCO.  And there Trump is, saying “No! No! It’s all cool guys! Seriously, look at this totally legit letter that Kim Jong Un sent me! That’s more legit than literally everything else!”  I mean…is he just going crazy now or what? Because at a certain point, he can’t pretend everything is fine, can he?

Man of His Word

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Despite Donald Trump’s constant self back pats about his unprecedented success in North Korea, there seems to be a growing cause for concern that MAYBE Kim Jong Un isn’t as committed to de-nuclearizing the peninsula as he first might have seemed.  In fact, intelligence reports seem to indicate the exact opposite, with him expanding nuclear research sites and funding into fuel for nuclear weapons.  Basically the EXACT opposite of what Trump “negotiated”.  Now, pettier people might go for a fun little “I told you so!” number complete with laughter and finger pointing, but I do feel like it’s appropriate to point out that he’s not the first guy to get that promise out of a Kim on the exact same thing that never came to fruition.  Though it might ache a little harder for Trump considering he couldn’t help talking up how unprecedented this whole thing was.  I just wonder how long Trump will feel it’s appropriate to stay in denial about it before he finally decides he’s been had?

Rat in Wolf’s Clothing

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So while Trump continues to toot the horn of Kim Jong Un, insisting that he’s a good, true leader with integrity and loyalty, Kim Jong Un continues to show why he is very much none of those things.  Recently a story broke that Kim ordered the execution of a Lieutenant General.  Not for insurrection or corruption.  Not for going off the rails as a military leader.  No, this man’s crime was feeding his soldiers and their families.  The Fiend!  Seriously, in case anyone had forgotten, Kim Jong Un is a cruel dictator who keeps his people scared, hungry, and traumatized.  The very last thing anyone, most especially the leader of the free world, should be doing, is trying to sell the merits of a monster.

Relationship Advice

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So, Trump reportedly gave Kim Jong Un his personal phone number, a direct line to him…which is weird.  I get the feeling most leaders of nations actually allied to the US don’t have that, but a murderous dictator who has a history of sabotage and subterfuge, and of murdering family members, does.  Now, there are some legit security concerns with that.  There is a lot that a tech savvy person could do with a phone number, or if you’re not tech savvy, but do have an army of hackers at your disposal.  But more than that, why would you want a crazy person having the ability to call you and chat?  I feel like Trump should know better.  If you’ve ever dated a crazy person who calls you at 3 in the morning to spread their crazy, then you know better.