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.

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.

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.

Tried and True

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So, naturally, the G7 summit went swimmingly. And by “swimmingly, I mean, it was a total disaster that further isolated the United States from our closest global allies.  Not only did Donald Trump continue to push unnecessary and ill thought out tariffs against our friends, but then he called the leader of Canada a liar publicly.  He’s really taking this idea of “nationalism” to an uncomfortable level.  It’s like he found out that the people of North Korea are told to worship Kim Jong Un as a god, and Trump asked his advisors how that happened and is following a road map: discredit the free press? Check. Isolate the country from the rest of the world? Check.  Make friends with classically evil dictator figures? Double check.  I wonder what Kim and Trump talk about over dinner?

Keeping Score


Listen, I think it’s fair to give Trump some credit over this North Korea thing.  Not even just because Trump has a bad habit of escalating problems.  Frankly, even if Trump was a more laid back character, North Korea likes to be provocative in their own right.  So the fact that the summit in Singapore seemingly went off without a hitch, and that some semblance of peace was established for the near future is positive.  I won’t try to say that isn’t a victory.  BUT, Trump and staff is trying to establish his summit as some unprecedented victory, as if North Korea has never made these promises before and for less.  In fairness, I didn’t know until I bothered to look.  But the reality is that North Korea has agreed to scrap their nuclear program no less than half a dozen times in almost 30 years, going as far back as when Kim Il Sung was still alive.  In 1994, the they agreed to scrap the program and stop researching plutonium and uranium enrichment for food aid.  Trump promised to stop our military maneuvers in South Korea, something we’ve done for 50 years, for a re-affirmation of their earlier promises from the last 30 years, with no time table or verfication process, things they’ve given in the past.  Hell they didn’t even bother to promise to stop their Uranium program.  In fact, by all appearances…the great negotiator got out negotiated.  Again, I want to point out, the world feels a little less close to nuclear destruction than it did a week ago, and that’s a positive development.  But that Trump secured a loose promise of Denuclearization…well, that feels less impressive.

Slip of the Tongue


One of the hosts of Fox and Friends called Donald Trump a dictator, and I could not be more tickled about it.  Seriously, I’ve watched the clip like 4 times, and I laughed equally hard every time.  The only big shame is that the camera wasn’t on Abby  Huntsman or any of the other jackasses, including Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci, at the time, so I couldn’t see them look deer in headlines.  That would have been television magic on par with the moon landing.  Huntsman later went on to clarify that it was just a slip of the tongue in the moment on Live TV.  I’d like to offer an alternative explanation: She said what she thought was true at the time and had to be corrected later.  I can’t prove that, but I think we all know it’s the truth in our heart of hearts.