Trump as president is scarier than North Korea with nuclear weapons

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Let’s face it: they’re both nuts.

Now that North Korea is believed to have in their possession strategic nuclear ordnance, Trump and North Korea have been engaging in a war of words. North Korea having nuclear weapons is a scary concept, but to me Donald Trump as president is a hell of a lot scarier.

Of course, we don’t want North Korea to have nuclear capability, but even if they do they are still not on equal footing with the United States and they know that. Kim Jong Un might be a fat, megalomaniacal sadist, but he isn’t stupid. He knows what will happen if they launch a nuclear attack: North Korea will be no more. That will be the end of them. North Korea doesn’t want this to happen. A nuclear North Korea is a danger but the power in that mostly lies in the leverage it gives them. North Korea must realize that they have nothing to gain in actually launching a nuclear attack, but somewhat more to gain in threatening to do so. I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous about it, but I don’t think a nuclear attack by North Korea will happen unprovoked. This current rhetoric by Pyongyang is straight from their playbook. They’ve been doing it for years.

But the problem is Donald Trump doesn’t realize this. Donald Trump has already proven himself embarrassingly ignorant of the North Korea problem. Furthermore, he doesn’t listen to staffers and advisors who are familiar with the issues. It is rather incredible that Trump improvised his “fire and fury” response:

North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States…They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen … he has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.

Here is Trump trying to sound like a tough guy, when this is the exact opposite of what he should be doing. For one, he’s playing Kim Jong Un’s game; by responding to a threat with a threat he legitimizes North Korea. Secondly, and maybe more importantly, what Trump basically said was, if you threaten us we will respond with “fire and fury,” which I have to take to mean as some sort of attack. So, if they merely threaten us again (which they have time and time again before), Trump is going to launch an attack? If this happens it’s a guarantee that North Korea will respond in kind and maybe worse.

What I fear is that Trump is escalating this issue unnecessarily. Trump doesn’t know shit about shit, yet he has all the power of our nuclear arsenal in his tiny little hands. If there is a war between the US and North Korea, nuclear or not, I have no doubt that we will win, but it would be a Pyrrhic victory at best. The Korean peninsula would be devastated. South Korea would bear the brunt of the damage, unlike the distant mainland US, and North Korea would be an unrecoverable mess. The human cost would enormous. This isn’t like launching a Tomahawk attack on Syria. This is world-changing.

Kim Jong Un is a dick, for sure, but he’s a dick who would like to have a nice, long life of being a dick and I don’t see him doing anything to jeopardize that. North Korea is doing what they do: talking big, making threats and stubbornly trying to keep their dying nation rolling. Nothing new. Trump, with his own stupid rhetoric, is liable to make this war of words something much, much worse.

TFS: Trump Fatigue Syndrome

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Trump will eat your soul in a taco bowl.

I think I’m suffering from TFS–that is, Trump Fatigue Syndrome. It’s now about six months into the Trump presidency and, considering all the craziness of his term so far, I’m a little surprised that I hadn’t succumbed to TFS earlier. On the 4th of July, Independence Day, I thought I’d declare independence from Trump. It was a nice break, but we have to return to the real world sooner or later and Trump isn’t going away until 2020 or he gets impeached, whichever comes sooner. We’ve gotta just deal with it. But dammit if it isn’t tiring.

It’s always one thing or another. Whether it’s the Trump family’s shady, tax-evading business practices, continuing revelations of the torrid love affair between Trump and Russia, or his continuing war against a free press, there is always something new to make me shake my head in disbelief and take refuge in the warm embrace of three fingers of scotch.

I’m sure Trump supporters are feeling it, too. I mean, their guy won, but Trump supporters seem to feed on fear and enmity. If it wasn’t for the “liberal media,” “fake news” or “radical Islam,” I think they’d melt away. They live for their fears. It defines them. They’ve now had six months of a right-wing circle jerk. I’m sure it takes a toll.

Meanwhile, there are immediate, prescient threats, like North Korea, to deal with and I have zero confidence in Trump’s ability to handle these threats with any sort of finesse. If you are one of those “preppers” with a bomb shelter and three years worth of Spaghettios stashed away, maybe you aren’t so crazy after all.

Maybe this was Trump’s plan all along: to just wear all of us down with a continuous assault of ridiculousness. Nah. It’s just Trump. I swear, no one would want to be his friend if he wasn’t rich (or the president). But I’m still pretty worn out from it all.

So I’m going to pace myself. I can’t comment on every stupid fucking thing that Trump does, nor do I feel that makes any difference. But I refuse to let Trump beat me into submission. And remember: while all this bullshit sensationalism is going on, there is a very real active investigation going on led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and these things take time. It won’t happen right away, but I have to believe that justice will prevail over the likes of short-fingered vulgarians like Trump.

Trump’s dumb tweet to China: Oh, well! Nice try!

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“Oh, well! At least you tried, China! Unlike Obama!”

Sometimes Trump just dumbfounds me. Trump tweeted today:

While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!

@realDonaldTrump, 6:38 PM – 20 Jun 2017

As in, “Oh, well! Thanks for trying, China! You win some, you lose some! At least you tried!”

Of course, Trump’s tweet begs the questions, what hasn’t worked out? and how do you know China tried?

Apparently, Trump administration officials are as confused as I am with one saying bluntly that they didn’t know what Trump was referencing when asked what the tweet meant, reports CNN.

So what does this tweet mean? Is he trying to portray a friendliness with China, or is he calling them losers for failing to “work out” a deal with North Korea? Whatever this deal was, why is he tweeting about it publicly, bypassing normal diplomatic protocols?

Trump is completely out of his depth when it comes to East Asia diplomacy, and this tweet shows that he has no clue how to conduct any sort of diplomacy. Unless he’s got some sort of so-crazy-it’s-gotta-work plan, conducting diplomacy through Twitter is sheer nonsense.

Despite Trump’s bluster, I don’t think Trump is taking North Korea seriously and careless tweets like this may undermine serious efforts by the State Department to deal with North Korea.

Trumps use Warmbier tragedy for political points in callous tweet

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Otto Warmbier, in better days

Otto Warmbier, an American student held prisoner in North Korea, died today. He recently was returned to the United States having been a captive in North Korea for 17 months and in a coma for the past year. He never recovered from his coma and died at the Cincinnati hospital where he had been receiving treatment. The White House issued the following statement:

June 19, 2017
Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Passing of Otto Warmbier

Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing. There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him.

Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency. The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.

It’s a heartbeaking outcome for an ordeal that had little hope of coming out well. North Korean officials state that Warmbier fell into a coma after “contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill” in March 2016. He returned to the US in a vegetative state after the US State Department negotiated his release. US doctors have not found any indication of botulism. I think it should be fairly obvious that Warmbier died as a result of mistreatment by the North Korean regime.

Understandably, Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father, was dissatisfied with the lack of results during the Obama administration with attempts to get his son returned. “The results speak for themselves,” Mr. Warmbier said when asked whether the Obama administration had done enough. He said President Trump had called him on Wednesday night and told him, “We worked hard, and I’m sorry this is the outcome.”

To be fair, negotiating with any autocratic regime like North Korea is extremely difficult. Warmbier was imprisoned in March 2016 and I think it would have been very unlikely that the Obama administration could have produced a result in the time it had left. Also, in his time as president thus far Donald Trump has shown very little understanding of East Asia politics, particularly in the North Korea problem. It’s my impression that much of the credit to Warmbier’s release goes to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has performed thus far beyond my admittedly low expectations of him. I’d also wager that Warmbier’s physical condition played a factor in North Korea’s decision to release him; they probably saw that he was declining and would rather have him die outside of North Korea.

But I won’t deny a man his grief, and his gratitude toward the Trump administration for getting their son back is entirely understandable. What the Warmbiers have endured is beyond anything I could imagine and is another reminder of the brutality of the North Korean regime. What I have a problem with is the callousness that the Trumps have shown by using this tragic injustice for political kudos.

On June 18 a tweet by Donald Trump Jr. that was subsequently retweeted by his father Donald Trump read:

Not surprising at all!
Father Of Otto Warmbier: Obama Admin Told Us To Keep Quiet, Trump Admin Brought Him Home
@DonaldJTrumpJr
9:29 AM – 18 Jun 2017

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No “Welcome home, Otto,” or “we’re glad to have you back,” but Junior Trump goes straight into the sniping and the bragging. Otto Warmbier was in a bad way when he arrived in the US. He was brain-damaged and unresponsive. Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump by retweet did not express wishes for his recovery. Instead they criticize a former administration and brag about a dubious success.

“Not surprising at all!” indeed. For Donald Trump it always was all about “me.” His son has learned well. I’m not surprised at all that the human impact of the Warmbiers’ ordeal has completely gone over their heads as they focus on their favorite topic: Trump. The Trumps’ use of the Warmbiers’ tragedy for political bragging rights is repugnant.

Trump calls North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “pretty smart cookie;” shows that he himself is not.

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“Really? He said that about me? Well, shucks…”

Again, Trump displays his massive ignorance of East Asia matters in an interview with John Dickerson on the CBS show Face the Nation. In this interview, when asked how he assesses North Korea leader Kim Jong-un Trump said that Kim was a “smart-cookie.” Specifically:

I have — I really, you know, have no comment on him. People are saying, “Is he sane?” I have no idea. I can tell you this, and a lot of people don’t like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others.

And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.

It’s wise to not underestimate Kim Jong-un and dismiss him as a madman, but it’s also just stupid to overestimate him and misunderstand his role in the North Korean context. Trump said, “…at a very young age, he was able to assume power,” I’m sure not even realizing that Kim Jong-un’s assumption of power was a foregone conclusion.

North Korea was founded by Kim Il-sung. After his death, his son, Kim Jong-il, took over. And then, after Kim Jong-il’s death, his son, Kim Jong-un, took the reigns. Kim Jong-un did not have to be a “smart cookie” to take over when his father died. There was very little competition. The only competition he had was his brother Kim Jong-chul, who was passed over for succession for unknown reasons, and half-brother Kim Jong-nam, whom some believe was recently assassinated for his pro-reform views. Much of the power the North Korean government has over its population is the narrative of Kim Il-sung’s legacy. Kim Jong-un did not have to be smart or tough to take power. This is what nepotism is, something Trump should know a little about.

Trump said, “A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else,” and this is also an uninformed statement. No one in North Korea is going to question the authority of Kim Il-sung’s grandson. The only question is how much power Kim Jong-un has on his own and how much he is influenced by others.

Trump makes Kim Jong-un appear to be more capable than he actually might be, when that’s a short-sighted way of looking at it. What we really need to look at it is the base from which political power in North Korea is generated, and a big part of that lies in the founder Kim Il-sung’s legacy in the eyes of the North Korean people. Trump’s statement that he think’s Kim Jong-un is a “pretty smart cookie” just shows that Trump is knows nothing about North Korea.

Furthermore, Trump criticized North Korea’s recent attempt missile test in a Tweet:

North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 28, 2017

which, in turn, was criticized by Sen. (D-DE) Chris Coons, who said, “The way to conduct diplomacy is not through Twitter but by leadership by the National Security team at the Trump administration.” This is a good point, but also, do you really think North Korea gives a shit that they “disrespected” China? If Trump knew anything about North Korea he would know that they don’t. In one tweet Trump has probably degraded diplomacy not only between North Korea and the US, but also North Korea and China, who might actually be able to help us in this matter.

Hey, it’s no shame to not know stuff. But Trump could have the most knowledgeable people in the United States advise him and he could actually learn a little about what’s going on before he opens his mouth. But he doesn’t do these things. And that’s what makes Trump stupid. When it comes to a dangerous state like North Korea, stupid ain’t gonna help.

Trump’s pettiness will not solve the North Korea problem

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The hubbub about the US missile strike against Syria sort of came and went in the media amidst the seemingly daily whirl of controversy the Trump White House generates. News outlets were abuzz with speculation that the missile strike may have negatively impacted the US-Russia relationship, thereby, in my opinion, playing into the hands of the White House, who wishes to distance Trump from any connection with Russia. From my perspective, I don’t see any appreciable degradation of the US (Trump)-Russia relationship yet, but I guess we’ll see.

A far more volatile situation now is North Korea. In his 2012 book The Impossible State: North Korea, past and future, Asia expert and former NSC official Victor Cha wrote, “I believe that the forty-fifth president of the United States will contend with a major crisis of governance in North Korea before he or she leaves office,” and it appears that crisis may already be beginning. The question is: does Trump have the team he needs to deal with this crisis? In my estimation, the answer is “no.”

Trump himself has already shown himself to be a big dummy when it comes to Asia. He’s going to need smart people with knowledge and experience of east Asian policy and the temperament to deal with the hot-headed North Korea. But it appears that Trump does not have this team and according to an article by The Washington Post, the White House has even disregarded some Asia experts based solely on their opposition to Trump. From the article:

Some top Asia experts have been deemed persona non grata in Trump world because of their opposition to the president during the campaign. Other top former officials were more careful talking about Trump but are nevertheless in limbo. Former NSC senior director Victor Cha has been discussed internally for a top position but was never offered a job or explicitly told he was not wanted. Ashley Tellis, a top India expert, was initially considered strongly for ambassador to India, but was later taken out of consideration for allegedly not disclosing some of his anti-Trump statements.

If you disregard people who disagree with Trump, well, that’s a lot of people. A lot of smart people. This pettiness-and let’s face it, that’s what it is- can’t help the situation and may very well make a bad situation worse. Every region, whether it be Europe, Africa, South America or wherever, has a complex history and set of relationships. North Korea’s isolation and almost cartoonish belligerence belies its complexity and position in the region and the world. Donald Trump’s tough talk about North Korea might be great for cable news, but it sucks for getting things done.

The danger of North Korea needs to be looked at realistically. Despite a couple of ridiculous films like 2012’s Red Dawn remake and the 2013 film Olympus Has Fallen, North Korea ain’t invading the US of A anytime soon. They can barely feed their own people. But they do have the capability to inflict devastating damage to South Korea and Japan, which would be a human and economic catastrophe that would be felt around the world.

The North Korea problem is not reality TV: it’s reality. And it’s not going away unless Trump can get over himself and hire some smart people with cooler heads.

The similarities of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un

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(Courtesy of The Daily Dot)

Recently Trump received a history lesson from China’s president Xi Jinping regarding North Korea and why China does not have the influence over North Korea that Trump thought they did. “After listening for 10 minutes[to Xi Jinping], I realized it’s not so easy,” Mr Trump said. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you would think.”

No, Mr. President, it’s not what you would think. I, as probably most other semi-informed people, already knew the North Korea issue is a complex one. Trump, though, is famously stupid when it comes to history and it appears that Trump is having some eye-opening moments regarding the complexities of foreign policy. But this is stuff he should have known before he even thought about running in the election.

Saturday was the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founder and North Korea’s rotund despot Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung. Being North Korea’s most important holiday, they used the occasion to parade new weaponry including what appeared to be three new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles through the streets pf Pyongyang, the capital. With both North Korea and Trump’s attempt to wrestle with the North Korea problem in the news recently, it occurred to me: Trump and Kim Jong-un have a lot in common. Of course, Trump never, to my knowledge, ever killed anyone, but in many ways they share a lot of similarities:

Goofy hair.

‘Nuff said.

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They both love spectacle.

Although North Korea’s recent holiday was one their biggest occasions to parade their military through city streets and shower praise on the fat little shit otherwise known as Kim Jong-un while ignoring a starving and impoverished population, such spectacle is not uncommon.

Donald Trump likewise loves the pomp and circumstance. We all remember his inauguration ceremony, which the White House claimed was the biggest ever but Trump fumed when it was pointed out that it paled in comparison to Obama’s.

They both love playing soldier, despite not being soldiers.

Reportedly Kim Jong-un graduated from the most prominent military academy in North Korea but I don’t think he could knock out a single push up.

Trump, who dodged the draft during the Vietnam conflict, once made the claim that he had “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military,” referring to his days as a youngster in a military-like prep school.

They both rely on nationalistic platforms.

Despite North Korea’s origins, North Korea is not a communist country. It could be best described as a nationalistic dictatorship that relies on a cult of personality. North Korea’s ideology, termed juche, is basically a North Korean nationalism based on hero worship of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung and his descendants Kim Jong-il and now Kim Jong-un.

Trump’s commitment to nationalism now is debated among many folks, but the platform he ran on during the election was one of America-first, leading him to become embraced by white nationalist groups during his election campaign.

Both are big believers in nepotism.

Kim Jong-un is the son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who was the son of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung, so there you go.

Trump, however, has to be more careful about his nepotism because, you know, America. Still this has not prevented him from installing his son-in-law Jared Kushner and “piece of ass” daughter Ivanka in the White House.

Both tend to fail “bigly.”

North Korea’s big-deal missile launch on Sunday failed spectacularly, much like Trump’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Similarities aside,

Trump, of course, is not as bad as Kim Jong-un. After all, he’s not a murderous dictator. But don’t encourage him.