Paul Krugman: A Quisling and His Enablers (New York Times link): Congress is controlled by Republicans. And their response to a president whose actions are manifestly not just un-American but anti-American has been … a few sad tweets from a handful of senators who are unhappy about Trump’s behavior but not willing to do anything real. Most Republicans haven’t even gone that far: They’re just silent.
Why are Republican politicians unwilling to discharge their constitutional responsibilities? Relatively few of them, one suspects, actually want a trade war, let alone a breakup of the Western alliance. And many of them, one also suspects, are well aware that a de facto foreign agent sits in the Oval Office. But they are immobilized by a combination of venality and cowardice.
On one side, tax cuts for the rich have become the overriding priority for the modern G.O.P., and Trump is giving them that, so they’re willing to let everything else slide.
On the other side, the party’s base really does love Trump, not for his policies, but for the performative cruelty he exhibits toward racial minorities and the way he sticks his thumb in the eyes of “elites.” So any Republican politician who takes a stand on behalf of what we used to think were fundamental American values is at high risk of losing his or her next primary. And as far as we can tell, there is not a single elected Republican willing to take that risk, no matter what Trump does.
“Hey, he’s a tough guy. When you take over a country—a tough country, tough people—and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have. If you can do that at 27 years old, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that. So he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator,” Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier.
When pressed further, Trump responded: “Yeah, but so have other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.” Last year, the president made a similar argument when dismissing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s human rights violations. “What do you think, our country's so innocent?” he said at the time.
Golden sunrises. Gleaming skylines and high-speed trains. Children skipping through Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, North Korean flags waving between images of Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the Lincoln Memorial. In a split-screen shot, Kim Jong Un waved to an adoring crowd while President Trump stood beside him with his thumb in the air. The pair appeared over and over again, like running mates in a campaign video.
The film went on like this for several minutes, with brief interludes of missiles, soldiers and warships interrupting the fanfare. Some journalists, unable to understand the Korean-language narration, assumed they were watching one of Pyongyang's infamous propaganda films. “What country are we in?” asked a reporter from the filing center.
But then the video looped, playing this time in English. And then Trump walked onto the stage and explained that the film was not North Korean propaganda. It had been made in America, by or on the orders of his White House, for the benefit of Kim. “I hope you liked it,” Trump told the reporters. “I thought it was good. I thought it was interesting enough to show. ... And I think he loved it.”
Speaking to reporters at his hotel in Singapore, Kim said that the rising tensions between the North American neighbors were posing an “intolerable threat to world peace.”
In addition to offering to host U.S.-Canada talks in Pyongyang, Kim urged the immediate creation of a demilitarized zone along the border separating the two hostile nations.
“In exchange for Canadian Mounties agreeing to stand down on their side of the border, the United States, in turn, would dismantle its nuclear weapons,” Kim said.
Although stating that “North Korea stands ready and willing to be an honest broker” in peace talks between the two countries, he urged Trump to dial back the “inflammatory rhetoric” that he aimed at Canadians over the weekend.
“Violent language and threats have no place in international diplomacy,” Kim said.
The high-stakes diplomacy between the United States and North Korea has come to a wrap in Singapore. The summit—the first-ever between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader—stayed mostly on-script. But there’s little question that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un got the better end of the bargain out of the meeting; for Donald Trump, like previous U.S. presidents, the prospect of setting North Korea along the path to disarmament remains remote.
From the onset of the summit, which began with the much-anticipated first handshake between the two leaders at the Capella hotel in Singapore, it became clear that no matter what, North Korea would walk away with important propaganda coup.
“Just tell us what Vladimir has on you. Maybe we can help,” former prime minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstaft tweeted. The photo was originally posted to Merkel’s Instagram, where it was described as a “spontaneous meeting between two working sessions.”
Verhofstaft was likely referencing the U.S. special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and salacious allegations in the Christoper Steele dossier about Putin possessing incriminating information on Trump.
The quip follows an explosive weekend of meetings between Trump and the rest of the G-7 group in Canada, which ended with Trump agreeing to some language on trade but then pulling out of signing a joint agreement, leaving the summit early and tweeting an unhinged rant of attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Yet, here is the thing. The math is not exactly in his favor. The Korean War ended in 1953. While at close to 100 years of age they technically could still be alive, it is unlikely that they are attending a campaign event calling for the return of their sons’ bodies. There is also the problem that according to Trump’s account, it is not just one very elderly parent of a Korean war veteran, but more than one, as evidenced by use of the word “we.”
“When you can, president, we’d love our son to be brought back home — you know, the remains,” he recalled them saying, despite the fact he just said he was on the campaign trail and not POTUS yet.
A look at some of Trump's statements and how they compare with the facts:
TRUMP'S TWEETS: "Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea ... Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President (Barack) Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer - sleep well tonight!"
Those details could prove major sticking points in the future while North Korea is believed to maintain a nuclear arsenal capable of threatening the U.S mainland. Independent experts say the North could have enough fissile material for anywhere between about a dozen and 60 nuclear bombs, and last year it tested long-range missiles that could reach the U.S.
Trump is also wrong to say there was an assumption before he took office that the United States would go to war. It wasn't until Trump's tenure that North Korea began testing an intercontinental ballistic missile and the bellicose rhetoric between the two leaders ramped up. Fears of conflict were particularly acute after Trump called Kim "Rocket Man" and Kim pledged to "tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."
Rodman, while not formally invited to the Singapore summit this week, arrived in the city-state promising to "give what support is needed" to the two world leaders. Sporting a shirt blazoned with the potcoin logo, surrounded by the slogan “peace starts in Singapore,” Rodman pushed through crowds of reporters and gave a rambling, incoherent interview to CNN.
As a result of his appearance in Singapore the Potcoin price jumped by 20% last night, adding $4 million to its market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap data.
"So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have 'begged' for this deal-looked like war would break out," Trump tweeted. "Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!"
His screed came after earlier tweets in which he made the dubious claim that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat.
Trump met with Kim on Tuesday in Singapore, where the two leaders signed a vaguely worded agreement that has been criticized by members of both political parties.