…The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea…

  ……..parsing our way ever closer to justifying a first strike…………begs the question………….

On the ground in Pyongyang: Could Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump goad each other into a devastating confrontation?

A guard at the D.M.Z. This summer, the prospect of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and North Korea, the most hermetic power on the globe, entered a realm of psychological calculation reminiscent of the Cold War.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

1. The Madman Theory

The United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, so there is no embassy in Washington, but for years the two countries have relied on the “New York channel,” an office inside North Korea’s mission to the United Nations, to handle the unavoidable parts of our nonexistent relationship. The office has, among other things, negotiated the release of prisoners and held informal talks about nuclear tensions. In April, I contacted the New York channel and requested permission to visit Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The New York channel consists mostly of two genial middle-aged men: Pak Song Il, a husky diplomat with a gray brush cut; and his aide-de-camp, Kwon Jong Gun, who is younger and thinner. They go everywhere together. (The North Korean government has diplomats work in pairs, to prevent them from defecting, or being recruited as spies.) Under U.S. law, they can travel only twenty-five miles from Columbus Circle. Pak and Kwon met me near their office, for lunch at the Palm Too. They cautioned me that it might take several months to arrange a trip. North Korea periodically admits large groups of American journalists, to witness parades and special occasions, but it is more hesitant when it comes to individual reporters, who require close monitoring and want to talk about the nuclear program.

Americans are accustomed to eruptions of hostility with North Korea, but in the past six months the enmity has reached a level rarely seen since the end of the Korean War, in 1953. The crisis has been hastened by fundamental changes in the leadership on both sides. In the six years since Kim Jong Un assumed power, at the age of twenty-seven, he has tested eighty-four missiles—more than double the number that his father and grandfather tested. Just before Donald Trump took office, in January, he expressed a willingness to wage a “preventive” war in North Korea, a prospect that previous Presidents dismissed because it would risk an enormous loss of life. Trump has said that in his one meeting with Barack Obama, during the transition, Obama predicted that North Korea, more than any other foreign-policy challenge, would test Trump. In private, Trump has told aides, “I will be judged by how I handle this.”

On the Fourth of July, North Korea passed a major threshold: it launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile powerful enough to reach the mainland United States. In response, on July 21st, authorities in Hawaii announced that they would revive a network of Cold War-era sirens, to alert the public in the event of a nuclear strike. Trump said that he hopes to boost spending on missile defense by “many billions of dollars.” On September 3rd, after North Korea tested a nuclear weapon far larger than any it had revealed before—seven times the size of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—the U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, warned that a threat to America or its allies would trigger a “massive military response.”

A few days after the July 4th missile test, Pak told me that I could book a flight to Pyongyang. I submitted a list of people I wanted to interview, including diplomats and Kim Jong Un himself. About the latter, Pak only laughed. (Kim has never given an interview.) After Pak stopped laughing, he said I could talk to other officials. I wanted to understand how North Koreans think about the kind of violence that their country so often threatens. Were the threats serious, or mere posturing? How did they imagine that a war would unfold? Before my arrival in North Korea, I spent time in Washington, Seoul, and Beijing; many people in those places, it turned out, are asking the same things about the United States.

About a week before my flight to Pyongyang, America’s dealings with North Korea deteriorated further. On August 5th, as punishment for the missile test, the U.N. Security Council adopted some of the strongest sanctions against any country in decades, blocking the sale of coal, iron, and other commodities, which represent a third of North Korea’s exports. President Trump, in impromptu remarks at his golf club in New Jersey, said that “any more threats to the United States” will be met “with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” A few hours later, North Korea threatened to fire four missiles into the Pacific Ocean near the American territory of Guam, from which warplanes depart for flights over the Korean Peninsula. Trump replied, in a tweet, that “military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.”

Suddenly, the prospect of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and the most hermetic power on the globe had entered a realm of psychological calculation reminiscent of the Cold War, and the two men making the existential strategic decisions were not John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev but a senescent real-estate mogul and reality-television star and a young third-generation dictator who has never met another head of state. Between them, they had less than seven years of experience in political leadership.

Brinkmanship, according to Thomas Schelling, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who pioneered the theory of nuclear deterrence, is the art of “manipulating the shared risk of war.” In 1966, he envisaged a nuclear standoff as a pair of mountain climbers, tied together, fighting at the edge of a cliff. Each will move ever closer to the edge, so that the other begins to fear that he might slip and take both of them down. It is a matter of creating the right amount of fear without losing control. Schelling wrote, “However rational the adversaries, they may compete to appear the more irrational, impetuous, and stubborn.” But what if the adversaries are irrational, impetuous, and stubborn?

Three days after Trump’s “locked and loaded” tweet, I flew from Beijing to Pyongyang. The flight was mostly empty, except for some Chinese businessmen and Iranian diplomats. I was accompanied by the photographer Max Pinckers and his assistant, Victoria Gonzalez-Figueras. In the air, I deleted from my laptop some books about North Korea; the government is especially sensitive about portrayals of the Kim family. (When you buy a North Korean newspaper with an image of Kim Jong Un on the front page, the clerk folds it carefully, to avoid creasing his face.) The airport was quiet and immaculate. At customs, when I opened my suitcase, I saw that I had forgotten to discard two books: “The Great Successor,” an account of Kim’s ascent, and “The Impossible State.” The customs officer called over a colleague, who flipped through the pages and alerted his superiors. I was led to a room, where an officer told me that the books are “very disparaging about the D.P.R.K.” He wanted to know where and when I had bought them, and whether I had read them. After some discussion, I was told to write a statement promising “never to bring them to the D.P.R.K. again.” I signed it, the books were confiscated, and I hustled on.

I was approached by a smiling man in a crisp white short-sleeved button-down shirt with a small red pin on his left breast, bearing a likeness of Kim Il Sung—Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, and the first leader of North Korea. (Citizens over the age of sixteen are expected to wear a badge celebrating at least one of the Kims.) He introduced himself, in English, as Mr. Pak, of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for American Studies, and said that he would be my guide. I followed him outside, where the air was clear and still. Pak presented the others who would be accompanying us: two drivers and a slim young man with a military bearing named Mr. Kim, who provided only one-word answers to my occasional queries. Pak and I climbed into a Toyota S.U.V.

Pak—by coincidence, he has the same full name, Pak Song Il, as the senior member of the New York channel—is thirty-five years old, with short bushy hair and a placid demeanor. Most of North Korea’s twenty-five million people are not permitted to travel abroad, but Pak’s job has allowed him to visit several countries, which he described in terms of their cleanliness: Switzerland (very clean); Belgium (not so clean); Bangladesh (not clean at all). In 2015, he went to Utah (clean) for a nongovernmental exchange affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The experience convinced him that Mormons have a lot in common with North Koreans. “When the L.D.S. started, they were hated,” he told me. “They were sent to the desert. But they made it thrive. They are organized like a bee colony, where everyone works for one purpose and they would die for it. And they make huge output, as a result. We understand each other very well.”

Pak spends most of his time analyzing American politics and news reports, trying to divine America’s intentions regarding North Korea. Since the election of Donald Trump, he said, the task had become more demanding. “When he speaks, I have to figure out what he means, and what his next move will be,” he said. “This is very difficult.”

That would probably please Trump, who prides himself on being unpredictable. Many commentators have drawn comparisons to Richard Nixon and his “madman theory” of diplomacy, in which Nixon sought to leave his adversaries with the impression that he possessed an unstable, dangerous state of mind.

Later, I asked Pak what he and other North Koreans thought of Trump.

“He might be irrational—or too smart. We don’t know,” he said. They suspected that Trump’s comment about “fire and fury” might be part of a subtle strategy. “Like the Chinese ‘Art of War,’ ” he said. “If he’s not driving toward a point, then what is he doing? That is our big question.”

For Pak and other analysts in North Korea, the more important question about the United States extends beyond Trump. “Is the American public ready for war?” he asked. “Does the Congress want a war? Does the American military want a war? Because, if they want a war, then we must prepare for that.”

Commuters on the Pyongyang Metro. The capital, marooned by politics, presents a panorama from another time.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

A chair used by Kim Jong Un during his visit to the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, in a room dedicated to commemorating his visit.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

We arrived at the Kobangsan Guest House, a small, three-story hotel on the outskirts of Pyongyang, surrounded by corn and rice fields. The place had an air of low-cost opulence—chandeliers, rhinestones, and pleather sofas. We were the only guests. The Foreign Ministry uses the hotel for “Americans and V.I.P.s,” Pak said. (In 2013, Eric Schmidt, the former C.E.O. of Google, was put up there.) In North Korea, no visitor is left unattended, and Pak had a room down the hall from mine. I paid a hundred and forty-one dollars a night—a month’s income for the average citizen. “From time immemorial, there is a tradition of giving foreigners the best service,” Pak explained. “The No. 1 thing is to protect them, unless they are spies or enemies.”

We had dinner that night with Ri Yong Pil, a Foreign Ministry official in his mid-fifties, who is the vice-president of the Institute for American Studies. Gregarious and confident, he served eight years in the Army, learned English, and became a diplomat. He raised a glass of Taedonggang beer and toasted our arrival. We were in a private hotel dining room that felt like a surgical theatre: a silent, scrubbed, white-walled room bathed in bright light. Two waitresses in black uniforms served each course: ginkgo soup, black-skin chicken, kimchi, river fish, and vanilla ice cream, along with glasses of beer, red wine, and soju. (The U.N. says that seventy-two per cent of North Koreans rely on government food rations, and the country is experiencing a historic drought. But in Pyongyang a foreign guest eats embarrassingly well.)

Ri made a series of points, waiting for me to write each one in my notebook:

“The United States is not the only country that can wage a preventive war.”

“Three million people have volunteered to join the war if necessary.”

“Historically, Korean people suffered because of weakness. That bitter lesson is kept in our hearts.”

“Strengthening our defensive military capacity is the only way to keep the peace.”

“We are small in terms of people and area, but in terms of dignity we are the most powerful in the world. We will die in order to protect that dignity and sovereignty.”

After several more toasts, Ri loosened his tie and shed his jacket. He had some questions. “In your system, what is the power of the President to launch a war?” he asked. “Does the Congress have the power to decide?”

A President can do a lot without Congress, I said. Ri asked about the nuclear codes: “I’ve heard the black bag is controlled by McMaster. Is it true?” (He was referring to H. R. McMaster, the national-security adviser.)

No, the President can launch nukes largely on his own, I said. “What about in your country?”

His answer was similar. “Our Supreme Leader has absolute power to launch a war,” he said.

I turned in early. My room was furnished in the style of Versailles by way of Atlantic City—champagne-colored leather and gold-painted trim. The room was equipped with a TV, but, instead of North Korean programming, the only options were Asian satellite channels. There was no news to be found. I flipped past a Christian evangelist and a Singaporean cooking show, and drifted off to the sight of sumo wrestlers colliding.

Trump is the fourth U.S. President who has vowed to put an end to North Korea’s nuclear program. Bill Clinton signed a deal in which North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear development in exchange for oil and a civilian reactor, but neither side fulfilled its commitments. George W. Bush refused bilateral negotiations, then switched tacks and convened negotiations known as the Six-Party Talks. Obama first offered inducements, and later adopted a stonewalling policy called “strategic patience.” Under Trump, the U.S. has led the U.N. Security Council in its passage of the eighth round of sanctions against North Korea in eleven years. The Kims’ nuclear program is still going. “They have managed to play an abysmally bad hand for more than seventy years,” Evans Revere, a former head of Korean affairs at the State Department, told me.

U.S. intelligence has often underestimated the progress of North Korea’s weapons development. But now the basic facts, accumulated by American, European, and Chinese intelligence agencies, are clear. North Korea has between twenty and sixty usable nuclear warheads, and ICBMs capable of hitting targets as far away, perhaps, as Chicago. It has yet to marry those two programs in a single weapon, but American intelligence agencies estimate that it will achieve that within a year. The U.S. is in the process of upgrading its ability to shoot down an incoming missile. It reportedly tried to derail North Korea’s weapons development through cyber sabotage, but it only delayed the progress. A former U.S. official said, “You spend millions putting it in place and then you ask, ‘Did it work?’ And the answer comes back: Maybe.”

In recent talks, when Americans have asked whether any combination of economic and diplomatic benefits, or security guarantees, could induce Pyongyang to give up nuclear weapons, the answer has been no. North Koreans invariably mention the former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. In 2003, when Qaddafi agreed to surrender his nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, Bush promised others who might do the same that they would have an “open path to better relations with the United States.” Eight years later, the U.S. and nato helped to overthrow Qaddafi, who was captured, humiliated, and killed by rebels. At the time, North Korea said that Qaddafi’s fall was “a grave lesson” that persuading other nations to give up weapons was “an invasion tactic.”

After-school swimming lessons at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

A view of the Ryugyong Hotel from the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, who visited Pyongyang in 2014, told me, “The North Koreans are not going to give up their nuclear weapons. It’s a non-starter.” The American national-security community is now nearly unanimous on this point, but the government cannot say so openly, because that would cede leverage in a future negotiation, and raise the risk that other countries will try to follow North Korea’s example. “Whether it’s pressuring, threatening, negotiating, or trying to leverage China, everybody’s tried all of that—and it’s not working,” Clapper said.

Inside the Trump Administration, there is disagreement about how to handle North Korea. Shortly before Steve Bannon, the President’s former chief strategist, was fired, in August, he told an interviewer, “There’s no military solution here, they got us.” But Mattis and McMaster argue that Kim Jong Un must be contained. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in June, Mattis called North Korea “the most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security,” supplanting Russia as the No. 1 threat to the U.S. In an e-mail, McMaster told me, “Their provocations seem likely to increase—not decrease—over time. The North Koreans have also proliferated just about every capability they’ve ever produced, including chemical weapons and a nuclear reactor. Then there’s the matter of what other countries do—in the region and beyond—when they see that a rogue regime developed nukes and got away with it.”

Experts can’t say definitively why Kim wants nuclear weapons. Are they for self-defense, as North Korea claims, or will Kim use them to achieve the unfulfilled ambition of the Korean War—forcing reunification with South Korea? A senior Administration official told me that members of Trump’s national-security team are not convinced that Kim will stop at self-protection. “There are fewer and fewer disagreements about North Korea’s capabilities now, and so then, inevitably, the question of their intentions becomes critical,” he said. “Are they pursuing these weapons in order to maintain the status quo on the Peninsula, or are they seeking to fundamentally alter the status quo?” The official added, “Sometimes dictators are able to kid themselves that ‘Hey, once I’ve got that weapon, I’m invincible, and I have a free hand to launch conventional wars and subversion and assassination campaigns against my neighbors.’ ”

The White House could try to deter North Korea from using or selling its weapons—or it could start a preventive war. Deterrence relies, at bottom, on the assumption that an adversary is not suicidal, but this Administration suspects that Kim’s recklessness could trigger his own destruction. The official said, “Saddam Hussein was not suicidal, but he committed suicide.” In 2003, as the U.S. threatened to attack Iraq, Saddam was surrounded by sycophants and cut off from reliable information. He doubted that America would actually launch a full-scale attack, and, as a result, he miscalculated the odds of destroying himself and his regime.

A warm drizzle was falling on Pyongyang the morning after my arrival, as we left the Kobangsan Guest House to see the city. More than any other capital that has been marooned by politics—Havana or Rangoon or Caracas—Pyongyang presents a panorama from another time. Soviet-era Ladas and ancient city buses ply the streets, while passengers stick their heads out the windows in search of cool air. Buildings are adorned with Korean-language banners hailing the “Juche ideology,” the official state credo, which glorifies self-reliance and loyalty. On an embankment near a major intersection, workers in gray coveralls were installing an enormous red sign that praised the “immortal achievements of the esteemed Supreme Leader, comrade Kim Jong Un, who built the nuclear state of Juche, the leader in rocket power!”

Pyongyang is a city of simulated perfection, without litter or graffiti—or, for that matter, anyone in a wheelchair. Its population, of 2.9 million, has been chosen for political reliability and physical health. The city is surrounded by checkpoints that prevent ineligible citizens from entering.

For decades, there were few cars on the streets, but now frequent foreign visitors marvel at the growth in traffic. Pyongyang is the emptiest, quietest capital in Asia, but it is changing, slowly, driven by the legacy of famine. Between 1994 and 1998, a combination of mismanagement, droughts, and flooding paralyzed North Korean food production, killing up to three million people. Hundreds of thousands of people went to China in search of food and work, and many returned to their families having seen a better quality of life.

Since the famine, “the majority of today’s North Koreans have learned to lead an economic double life in order to make ends meet,” according to “North Korea Confidential,” a study of markets and daily life, by Daniel Tudor and James Pearson. North Koreans, outside their state-assigned jobs, sell homemade noodles in thriving markets; they drive private buses; they rent out apartments by the hour for courting couples. Government insiders import housewares, medicine, and luxury products from China, giving rise to an entrepreneurial élite known as donju—“masters of money.” Kim has allowed limited economic reforms, letting people accumulate profits, which has fuelled the growth of black markets, including in real estate. Officially, there is no private homeownership, but, in practice, people pay for better units. An ordinary one-bedroom apartment in Pyongyang costs three or four thousand dollars; the most luxurious offerings sell for hundreds of thousands.

The weak enforcement of sanctions, and continued demand from China and Russia, has allowed North Korea’s economy to grow with surprising speed in recent years. According to South Korea’s central bank, North Korea’s G.D.P. grew an estimated 3.9 per cent in 2016, the fastest pace since 1999. (South Korea’s, by comparison, grew 2.8 per cent.)

Students at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, which is housed in a new brick-and-steel complex. In a class of ten- and eleven-year-olds, one boy asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us?”

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

On the streets of Pyongyang, there are flashes of modernity, even style. Some women can be seen wearing stilettos and short skirts, though these can be no higher than two inches above the knee, according to Workers’ Party regulations. (Jeans are still practically taboo, because of their association with America.) Now and then, I saw people hunched over cell phones. Since 2013, Pyongyang has had 3G mobile service, but most people have access only to North Korea’s self-contained intranet, which allows them to send e-mail inside the country and to look at some Web sites. But many North Koreans have had some exposure to Chinese, American, and South Korean entertainment, smuggled over the border on SD cards that are small enough to be inserted into a phone. (Kim Jong Un, sensing the danger that information poses, has denounced foreign movies and music as “poisonous weeds.” In 2015, his government warned that people caught with illegal videos could face ten years of hard labor.)

“The regime does not really want the living standards to rise fast and too much, because that could shake the nation,” Alexandre Mansourov, a North Korea analyst who did an advanced degree at Kim Il Sung University and served as a Soviet diplomat in Pyongyang in the nineteen-eighties, said. “It’s the revolution of rising expectations. They want to manage that.” Kim Jong Un promotes economic growth on his own terms. Every year since assuming power, he has unveiled a new residential complex in the capital, as well as theatres, a water park, and a new airport. This past spring, he attended the opening of more than three thousand new apartments on Ryomyong Street, and Mr. Pak was eager to show off the buildings. The green-and-white complex, which includes a seventy-story high-rise, has circular columns and bulging round balconies that give it a “Jetsons”-like look.

I passed couples whispering on park benches, and a grandmother following a toddler across fresh asphalt. A black Lexus, buffed to a high shine, honked its way through pedestrians. (Officially, most private cars are provided as gifts from the Supreme Leader, but insiders acquire cars by registering them in the names of state enterprises.) We came upon a van fitted with oversized loudspeakers on its roof. Pak said that the message it played was a “warning about American aggression.” He explained, “We have a propaganda unit in every district.” Nobody seemed to be paying much attention.

I spent ten years abroad as a foreign correspondent, mostly in China, Egypt, and Iraq, but little of that experience is comparable to reporting in North Korea. Based on my requests, the government gave me an itinerary and then escorted me from place to place. A reporter cannot venture out into the city or the countryside independently without risking detention or compromising the safety of any North Korean who coöperates. But the country has become incrementally more open to scholars and reporters. In 2000, journalists who accompanied Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on a visit travelled on a bus with covered windows and were warned not to take photographs. Today, the constraints are more subtle. I asked to visit an ordinary apartment in Pyongyang—any apartment—and was told that it was “too late to be arranged.”

I’d asked to see some schools, so I was taken to the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School—a brand-new brick-and-steel complex with an Astro-Turf field for four hundred lucky pupils. The principal, Pak Yong Chul, ushered me into a permanent exhibition on the ground floor, dedicated to the two-hour visit that Kim paid to the school on July 2, 2016. The walls of the exhibition are lined with photographs of Kim in his signature gray suit, striding through the facilities, holding an unlit cigarette between his fingers. On a large wall map, a red dashed line marked Kim’s route through the corridors. The students visit the exhibition every month, to “move along in the footprints of the Supreme Leader,” the principal said.

I stood in front of a large photo of Kim touching a red fuzzy blanket. The principal stepped aside, and, with a flourish, revealed, in a Plexiglas box, the blanket. “He personally touched it,” he said. So it was with other specimens—the white painted chair that he blessed with his presence in the lunchroom; the simple wooden chair from the language lab, on which he rested from his labors—all preserved under glass, like the relics of a saint. I asked Pak Yong Chul how it felt to be visited by the leader, and his eyes widened. “That moment is unforgettable. I would never have dreamed of it,” he said.

Upstairs, I stopped by a history class, where ten- and eleven-year-old students sat in perfect rows. I introduced myself as an American and asked if anyone had a question for me. After a long pause, a skinny boy with two medals pinned to his chest stood and asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us? And what right do they have to block us from building our own nuclear weapon?” This did not seem the occasion for rigorous analysis or debate. I mumbled some bromides about hoping that things would get better. The boy seemed unimpressed.

II. A Marxist Emperor

Before Kim’s accession, in 2011, he was almost completely unknown, even inside the country. His name had first appeared in the state press a couple of years earlier. The C.I.A. had little more than a single photo of him—as an eleven-year-old, according to Sue Mi Terry, a former Korea analyst at the agency. In 2008, when Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke, Randal Phillips, a senior C.I.A. officer overseeing operations in Asia, met a Chinese counterpart to share analyses, as they sometimes did. But Phillips discovered that Chinese intelligence “didn’t know what was happening,” he told me. “I think the Chinese know a hell of a lot less than people assume.” Compared with other American adversaries, North Korea is the “hardest target,” Terry said. “There’s no other country that’s like that,” she told me. “It’s just pieced together.”

Kim Jong Il suffered a heart attack, and died in December, 2011. At the funeral, Kim Jong Un, the youngest of his seven children, appeared pale and childlike, weeping as his father lay in an open casket. Afterward, he led the pallbearers, including spy chiefs and Army bosses, decades his senior. Some prominent analysts predicted that Kim would not be as secure in his power as his grandfather and father had been; his regime could succumb to a coup or could implode for other reasons. Victor Cha, who had been George W. Bush’s lead adviser on Korea, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Times, “North Korea as we know it is over.” Cha told me recently, “I thought he would not last for more than a couple of years.”

At first, Kim worked under the guidance of three Party elders who served as “regents,” according to Ken Gause, a specialist in North Korean politics at the Center for Naval Analyses, a nonprofit research group in Washington. Kim and his mentors made shrewd choices that helped to establish his authority. Physically, he transformed himself into a near-reincarnation of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who was much more popular than Kim Jong Il. He bore a natural likeness to his grandfather, and, to accentuate it, he gained weight, cut his hair in a shorn-sided pompadour, and began wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a panama hat. (When foreign media suggested that he had undergone surgery to enhance the similarity, the state news agency condemned the speculation as “sordid hackwork by rubbish media.”)

Politically, Kim put himself forward as a more candid and practical leader. His father never permitted discussion of flaws in the socialist paradise, but in April, 2012, Kim acknowledged the failure of a rocket that, upon launch, quickly crumbled into the Yellow Sea. The next month, during a televised inspection of the Mangyongdae amusement park, he made a show of bending down to pull weeds from the sidewalk, and chastising the managers: “How could you not see these? How could you be so negligent and complacent?”

Kim gradually shed the control of his regents and presented himself as a socialist of the modern age—he was seen in North Korean media flying on a luxuriously appointed Ilyushin jet, typing on a MacBook, and enjoying an amusement-park ride at the Rungna People’s Pleasure Ground. He appeared in public with his wife, a stylish former cheerleader named Ri Sol Ju, whom he married in 2009. (They are believed to have three children.) As always, the propagandists were attentive: foreign analysts who track the use of Photoshop on North Korean state images say that official pictures of Kim are often altered around his ears, possibly to mask some sort of blemish.

Kim also sought to convey an ease with brutality, and embarked on North Korea’s most violent Party purge in decades. He executed two of his father’s seven senior pallbearers—his uncle Jang Song Thaek and the Army chief Ri Yong Ho—and expelled three others. His father had also executed senior cadres when he came to power, but killing Jang, an influential family member with deep ties to China, was an act of extraordinary boldness. The charges against Jang ranged from “treachery” to applauding “halfheartedly” when Kim entered the room. Many of Jang’s children and aides were also put to death, in ways that were intended to capture attention. Some were killed by flamethrowers; others were shot by anti-aircraft guns before outdoor audiences. (Media reports that Jang himself was fed to dogs proved to be false. He was executed by firing squad.)

Evan Medeiros, who was President Obama’s chief Asia adviser, told me that Kim Jong Il’s “approach to managing élites appeared to be more incentive-based than coercion-based, making sure that they all got goodies and spoils. The son’s approach appears to be ‘If you screw with me, I’m just going to kill you—and I’m going to kill you in a really nasty way.’ ”

That principle was expressed most dramatically earlier this year. The target was Kim’s estranged half brother, Kim Jong Nam, who had been living in semi-exile in Macau for more than a decade. In recent years, Kim Jong Nam had given interviews that were critical of the young leader, telling Yoji Gomi, a Japanese journalist, that North Korea was “likely to become weak under the third generation.” In a fateful comment, he called his half brother “just a figurehead.”

On the morning of February 13th, Kim Jong Nam was at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in Malaysia. At home in Macau, the Chinese government provided security guards, but he travelled alone. An airport security camera captured his arrival and movements. He wore jeans and a summer blazer, and carried a backpack. As he stood before a check-in kiosk, two young women approached, smeared liquid on his face, and then fled. Agitated, he approached a security guard. He grew dizzy and was taken to an airport clinic, where his condition rapidly deteriorated. In a photograph, he is slumped in a chair, arms splayed, eyes closed. He died in an ambulance, less than twenty minutes after the attack. Based on samples taken from his eyes and skin, Malaysian authorities accused North Korea of its first known assassination by the nerve agent VX, a tasteless, odorless chemical weapon. South Korean and Japanese media reported that he may have enraged his brother by preparing to defect or by aiding foreign intelligence services.

The killing caused a diplomatic crisis: North Korea demanded the return of the body and of several North Korean citizens, who were sought by police for questioning. When those demands were refused, North Korea sealed its borders to departing Malaysians, trapping nine embassy workers and their families. After two weeks, Malaysia released Kim Jong Nam’s body, and North Korea allowed the workers and their families to leave. The two women involved in the attack, who face first-degree-murder charges, are in custody in Malaysia; they have told investigators that they worked in local night clubs and were paid ninety dollars each for what they thought was a TV-show prank. After the attack, the women washed their hands, suggesting that each may have been given separate, harmless chemical components that became toxic when mixed together. They are scheduled to go on trial in October.

Six years into Kim Jong Un’s reign, some analysts in Seoul argue that senior Party officials can overrule or direct him, but U.S. intelligence believes that Kim is in sole command. The assassination of the half brother could not have happened without Kim’s approval, a U.S. official who works on Korea told me. “He’s the top decider, you might say,” the official said. “He’s the only guy that counts.” Many analysts worry that, as Kim moves deeper into confrontation with America, he does not have advisers who speak candidly to him. “We can’t identify an internal or external channel of information flow that’s effective in communicating the risks of the course that he’s on,” Scott Snyder, a Korea specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “What general is going to be willing to risk his stars, if not his life, in order to tell Kim Jong Un he’s doing the wrong thing?”

The U.S. has investigated the question of Kim Jong Un’s hold on power and has found no evidence of a potential coup or a challenge from disaffected élites. At the moment, Kim’s most visible vulnerability is his health: he is overweight and perhaps diabetic. In North Korea, the leader’s health is closely monitored by an agency called the Longevity Research Institute. Barring the unforeseen, Kim could rule North Korea for decades.

On the way to lunch one afternoon in Pyongyang, I noticed that the latest American threats had already been inscribed on the cityscape. A full-color billboard depicted a barrage of missiles descending on a bombed-out shell of the U.S. Capitol. Across the wreckage of Washington, it said, according to Pak’s translation, “Preëmptive Strike” and “Military Option.”

In the days after the President’s “locked and loaded” remarks, the U.S., following the doctrine of a standoff, was seeking to convey ambiguity—the sense that North Korea should tread carefully because it doesn’t know what might trigger a violent American response. But the message was getting garbled en route to Pyongyang. That morning, we had awoken to discover that Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had published a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that was clearly an attempt to ratchet down the tension. They wrote, “The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea.”

Pak, who is one of the government’s seasoned interpreters of American media, had a hard time following it all. In the car, he turned and asked, “How common is this, for the Secretary of State and the Defense Secretary to write a joint editorial?” Not very common, I said. He nodded, and turned back around. He could not understand how the two Cabinet members could so clearly contradict the President. At other points during the week, Pak tried to clear up some confusing details about the American media. “So the Wall Street Journal is conservative?” he asked. The editorial page is conservative, I said, but the news coverage is straight. He took this in and nodded again.

Occasionally, Pak misread something that was hard to discern from far away. He told me, “The United States is a divided country. It has no appetite for war.” On some level, that was true—the United States is a divided country, and it is tired of fighting wars in the Middle East, in South Asia—but he would be wrong to assume that these facts would, with absolute assurance, prevent the Trump Administration from launching a strike on North Korea.

We pulled up to a large blue-and-white boat that doubles as a restaurant, moored on the banks of the Taedong River. A sign over the entrance memorialized two visits by the Supreme Leader: “General duty ship Moojige received on-the-spot guidance by the esteemed comrade Kim Jong Un.” The restaurant’s distinguishing charm is that you can catch your own lunch in its tanks. On the way to our table, we passed a man standing on a ladder, holding a net, trying to nab a large fish with long whiskers. We reached a dining room where several tables were occupied by families, whose members ranged in age from a grandfather in a Mao-style suit to a couple of kids chasing each other around the table.

We ordered beef, cold noodles, rice cakes, and sashimi. A television in the corner was tuned to the main state channel. Three other channels, devoted to sports, entertainment, and education, broadcast only occasionally. Pak said that we were watching a classic North Korean drama called “The Lighthouse.” He patiently explained the plot: “A man lived alone on a remote island with a lighthouse. Under the Japanese, he was like a slave, but, when the Great Leader Kim Il Sung came to power, he said this man should be acknowledged, and—”

The movie cut off abruptly and a matronly news anchor appeared on the screen.

“There’s news,” Pak said.

New apartment buildings on Ryomyong Street.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Women along a street in Pyongyang.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

The broadcast showed photographs of Kim Jong Un in a dark pin-striped suit, surrounded by military men in uniform. The announcer reported that the missile unit had been tasked with preparing to strike the Pacific Ocean near Guam. Another photograph showed Kim beside a screen bearing a satellite image of Andersen Air Force Base, in Guam. The announcer quoted Kim as saying that he “would watch a little more of the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” before making his final decision to launch. The segment ended with orchestral music over a video montage of missiles soaring from the launch pad, rockets blazing out of their launchers, and soldiers cheering as fighter jets screamed overhead. I glanced around the room and noticed that the other diners were engrossed in lunch.

I was confused. “So is he going to launch them or not?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Pak said. “It depends on whether the United States sends another nuclear asset, like a B-1B, over the Korean Peninsula.”

“Does the U.S. know that’s the determining factor?” I asked.

“We haven’t told them! But they should know, because we said they should not send any further ‘nuclear provocations.’ ”

The mentions of war and weaponry were everywhere: on television, on billboards, in the talk of well-rehearsed schoolchildren. When I attended a show at Pyongyang’s Rungna Dolphinarium, in which dolphins flipped and jumped and performed tricks, the finale featured a video montage that included the image of a missile soaring across the sky. I asked Pak what connected dolphins with missiles. He said, “It’s inspiring to the people. We’re going to have everything we want. A dolphinarium. Nuclear weapons. One by one.”

At lunch, I asked Pak, “If your country would be destroyed in a nuclear exchange, why are you really entertaining the idea?”

North Korea, he said, is no stranger to devastation: “We’ve been through it twice before. The Korean War and the Arduous March”—the official euphemism for the famine of the mid-nineties. “We can do it a third time.” The argument is embedded in North Koreans’ self-image. They are taught to see themselves as inhabitants of a land shaped by a history of suffering, a sense of hostile encirclement, and a do-or-die insistence on survival.

But, to state the obvious, I said, risking a premature end to a friendly meal, a nuclear exchange would not be comparable.

“A few thousand would survive,” Pak said. “And the military would say, ‘Who cares? As long as the United States is destroyed, then we are all starting from the same line again.’ ” He added, “A lot of people would die. But not everyone would die.”

“We must envelop our environment in a dense fog,” Kim Jong Il once said, “to prevent our enemies from learning anything about us.” As a result, interested parties have to be creative. The South Korean intelligence service employs lip-readers to watch what Kim says away from the microphones at political events. To chart who is gaining and losing power, American scholars and analysts, like Cold War Kremlinologists, monitor the choreography of official funerals and dissect photo captions and propaganda reports. Over time, those efforts have started to cut through the fog around North Korea’s first family.

The Kim dynasty began in 1945, after the defeat of Japan. In a hasty redrawing of the map, the Americans and the Soviets divided the Korean Peninsula; in effect, each would control half. The Soviets installed Kim Il Sung, a nationalist guerrilla who had been living in the Soviet Union, as the leader of North Korea. After the humiliations of occupation and war, Kim presented himself as a Marxist emperor of sorts, who would revive Korea’s racial superiority and rebuild the nation as a fortress, impenetrable to imperialists. He restricted the entry of foreigners and curtailed his people’s freedom to leave or dissent. As he aged, Kim Il Sung sought to avoid the havoc that followed the deaths of Stalin and Mao by appointing his son as his successor, in the first hereditary transition in the Communist world. But Kim Jong Il, who assumed power in 1994, was not a natural demagogue. He was a cinéaste, plump and sedentary, who made his own version of “Godzilla.” (His favorite films also included “Rambo” and “Gone with the Wind.”)

Kim Jong Il grew isolated and paranoid. He allowed his voice to be heard in public only once, when he said, at a 1992 parade, “Glory be to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People’s Army!” On foreign trips, his aides brought home his feces and urine, to prevent foreign powers from hijacking the waste and evaluating his health. He was five feet two inches tall, and insecure about his height. In 1978, he ordered the kidnapping of his favorite South Korean actress, Choi Eun-hee, and greeted her by saying, “Small as a midget’s turd, aren’t I?” (Choi was forced to act in North Korean films until 1986, when, during a trip to Vienna, she escaped.) Jang Jin-sung, a poet and a high-ranking propagandist who defected to South Korea in 2004, told me that, when he was brought to meet Kim Jong Il, an aide instructed him, “Don’t look him in the eye. Look at the second button down from his collar.” Jang went on, “Before you met him, you were given a moist towelette to wash your hands and asked to remove your wristwatch or any metal in case it could do him harm.”

And yet Kim Jong Il came closer than any other North Korean leader to forging peace with the United States and ending his country’s isolation. Madeleine Albright, the only U.S. Secretary of State who has visited Pyongyang, spent more than twelve hours with Kim over two days, in 2000, negotiating the terms of a deal regarding his missile program. She found him odd—he personally choreographed a dance that was performed for her delegation—but also pragmatic and well informed. When members of the delegation asked highly technical questions, he answered many of them without consulting experts. Wendy Sherman, a diplomat who accompanied Albright on the trip, and later became President Obama’s chief negotiator with Iran, sensed the single-mindedness that has driven North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons. “We think in two-year, four-year, six-year time frames. They don’t. They’ve had a long-term vision since Kim Jong Il’s father, and they have stuck with it,” she told me.

In the final months of the Clinton Administration, Albright and Sherman believed that Kim was close to accepting a freeze on long-range missile tests. But the disputed election of 2000, and Clinton’s pursuit of a deal in the Middle East, consumed the Administration’s final weeks. They never returned to Pyongyang. Sherman told me, “If our team had gone, and if Kim agreed to our terms, I would have had a date in my pocket on which the President of the United States would have come.”

Once in office, George W. Bush declined to reaffirm a Clinton-era communiqué that pledged “no hostile intent” toward North Korea. Then, in his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush included North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, in his famous formulation, the “axis of evil.” The relationship has deteriorated ever since. In 2009, when Clinton visited Kim to secure the release of two imprisoned journalists, Kim lamented that, once Bush came in, “we found ourselves missing the earlier, better relationship with the previous Administration.” According to American notes from the meeting, which were later divulged by WikiLeaks, Kim added, “The United States would have had a new friend in Northeast Asia in a complex world.”

For all Kim Jong Il’s eccentricity, he cultivated his relationship with America in ways that his son has not. Jerrold Post, who founded the C.I.A.’s psychological-profile unit, and later studied Kim Jong Il’s decision-making, told me, “He always seemed to know the boundaries of his adversaries’ tolerance for provocation. He would go so far, then pull back just in time. He had finely tuned antennae.” Post said that he worries that Kim Jong Un has been thrust into a complicated scenario with little time to hone those skills. “His father had two decades in the wings before he formally took over,” Post said. “The son had two years.”

There was nothing preordained about which of Kim Jong Il’s children would run the country. Evans Revere, the former Korea expert at the State Department, said that Kim Jong Un became the successor largely on the basis of attitude and aggression. When Kim was a child, he would wear a Soviet military uniform on his birthday. The palace staff took to calling him Comrade General. He gave off an “inner strength,” according to Kenji Fujimoto, a Japanese chef who spent part of his time as a playmate for the children. Fujimoto, who later wrote a memoir, entitled “Kim Jong Il’s Chef,” gave the young Kim video games and remote-controlled cars as gifts and, because the boy loved basketball, arranged for his sister to send VHS tapes of Chicago Bulls games.

In 1996, Kim joined a brother, Jong Chul, in Bern, Switzerland; they stayed with an aunt. At school there, Kim went by a pseudonym, Pak Un, and was introduced to other students as the son of the North Korean Ambassador. “One day, he said to me, ‘Yeah, I am the son of the leader of North Korea.’ But I didn’t believe him, because it was a normal school,” his classmate João Micaelo recalled, in a television interview. “He was very quiet. He didn’t speak with anyone. Maybe it was because most of the people, they didn’t take the time to understand him. He was competitive at sports. He didn’t like to lose, like every one of us. For him, basketball was everything.” Kim drew pictures of Michael Jordan and slept with a basketball, according to Ko Yong Suk, the aunt who cared for him. She took him skiing in the Alps, swimming on the French Riviera, and to the Disney park in Paris. He showed flashes of stubbornness. If he was scolded for not studying, he’d refuse to eat. “He wasn’t a troublemaker, but he was short-tempered,” Ko told the Washington Post last year. (She and her husband defected to the U.S. and now run a dry-cleaning business, under assumed names.)

When it came time for Kim Jong Il to choose an heir, his four daughters were ineligible, because of their gender. His eldest son, Jong Nam, was more a playboy than a statesman, and, in 2001, he was caught trying to enter Japan on a forged passport, to take his four-year-old son to Tokyo Disneyland. The next-oldest son, Jong Chul, was reserved and gentle. While in Switzerland, he had written a poem called “My Ideal World,” which began, “If I had my ideal world I would not allow weapons and atom bombs anymore. I would destroy all terrorists with the Hollywood star Jean-Claude Van Damme.” According to Fujimoto, Kim Jong Il said that Jong Chul was unfit to rule “because he is like a little girl.” (He now works as an aide to his brother, and is thought to be his natural successor.)

At lunchtime on a boat on the Taedong River, the state TV channel broadcasts images of artillery, missiles, and fighter jets.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

That left Jong Un, who had received a degree in physics from Kim Il Sung University, had trained as an artillery officer, and was active in security and political work. In 2009, North Korea specialists began hearing that Jong Un, then twenty-five, was the likely successor. “He had never been in charge of anything, had never checked any of the boxes that you would normally expect someone to check on their way up through the ranks,” Revere said. “But clearly he had some personality characteristics and traits that appealed to his father, and those included a level of authority and aggression and self-confidence—some traits that his father didn’t have.”

Before assuming power, Kim involved himself in a brazen military operation that provided a preview of his tolerance for risk, according to U.S. intelligence. In March, 2010, the North torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, killing forty-six personnel. It also shelled Yeonpyeong Island, killing two people. These acts could have generated a fierce response, but, in the end, Seoul did not retaliate.

Alexandre Mansourov, the former Soviet diplomat in Pyongyang, told me that Kim’s role in the attacks reassured élites that he wasn’t averse to confrontation. “It was domestic positioning,” Mansourov said. “He needed to prove to them and his father that he could stand up.” That fall, Kim was promoted to the rank of general and made his first public appearance by his father’s side, signalling to the world that he was the chosen successor.

In his rapid rise, Kim acquired defining habits of mind. Mansourov said, “He’s a person who was never told no. Nobody drew the red line, and said, ‘Not a step further.’ Nobody punched him in the face, made him feel hurt. We say, ‘A man begins to grow his wisdom tooth when he bites more than he can chew.’ With Kim Jong Un, he has never yet bitten more than he can chew. Whatever he sets his sights on he gets. He keeps pushing, and pushing, and pushing. We don’t know where his brakes are, and I suspect he doesn’t know where he can stop.”

III. “Single-Hearted Unity”

After a couple of days in Pyongyang, I was eager to get some glimpses of life beyond the capital. My minders agreed to an outing. Up before dawn, we climbed into the Toyota and headed toward the demilitarized zone, which marks the border with South Korea. Leaving Pyongyang, we passed through a checkpoint, and smooth asphalt eventually gave way to potholes brimming with rainwater. The nation’s wealth and modernity, such as it is, is largely limited to the capital. The road emptied first of cars, then of bicycles, until we passed only clusters of farmers. A woman balancing a load on her head walked along railroad tracks to a point unseen. Without the industrial haze that hovers over much of East Asia, the North Korean landscape is an incandescent green, with layers of hills beyond. Eighty per cent of the country is mountainous. (American military planners liken the terrain to Afghanistan’s.)

We stopped to stretch our legs beside a closed restaurant and spotted two busloads of foreign tourists. On September 1st, American tourists would be banned from visiting North Korea, under a State Department order prompted by the death of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who had been convicted of “a hostile act against the state,” for trying to remove a propaganda poster from the wall of a hotel in Pyongyang. In June, American officials, having discovered that Warmbier had been in a coma for more than a year, secured his release. He died six days after returning home.

I mentioned the upcoming ban, and Pak said that it was a pity, because, after years of internal deliberations, North Korea had been preparing to accept more foreign visitors. “The military used to be very unhappy about tourists coming here, because they might see the secrets of what we’re doing. But now we have gained strength.”

In recent months, I’d spoken to American negotiators involved in Warmbier’s case, and they wondered why it had ended tragically. (In the past two decades, at least sixteen Americans have been detained while visiting North Korea, but no others have suffered as much harm.) Warmbier was arrested in January, 2016. After a show trial, he was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor. Pyongyang reported that Warmbier contracted botulism, was given a sedative, and entered a coma. But doctors in Cincinnati who treated him after his release found no traces of botulism. Many North Korea specialists wondered if he fell ill and was given a catastrophic overdose of medication. Others suspected that he was beaten or interrogated to the point of collapse, but that would be out of the ordinary; most American detainees in North Korea are not beaten, because they are considered bargaining chips.

Negotiators for the Warmbier family, such as Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, had been frustrated in their efforts, and I asked Pak why the government had stonewalled them. Pak blamed an Obama Administration decision, in July, 2016, to impose personal sanctions on Kim Jong Un and other top officials. “Obama blacklisted our leaders, and smeared them by name,” Pak said. “At that point, we could not accept it. We cut off the New York channel and we adopted wartime measures. From then on, we said, the situation will stay as is.”

A mural at the Museum of Natural History.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Families enjoy National Liberation Day (August 15th) at the Rungna Dolphinarium.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

I told him that Warmbier’s death had done more damage to North Korea’s reputation in the U.S. than he probably realized. Pak was unmoved. “He broke our rules, and we take that very seriously,” he said. That morning, the news from America was about the racist demonstrations in Charlottesville, and Pak explained, “In the D.P.R.K., the military thinks Americans come here and try to do whatever they want, like white supremacists are doing in the United States.” (Three Americans are still detained in North Korea: Kim Dong-chul was convicted of spying and is serving a ten-year sentence; Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim are being held on unspecified charges.)

By midmorning, we had reached the D.M.Z., an open gash across the Peninsula, a remnant of the Korean War. For most Americans, the war is overshadowed by other dramas of the twentieth century, but it’s impossible to understand North Korea’s hostility toward the U.S. today without looking at the history. In June, 1950, North Korea, seeking to unify the Peninsula under Communism, invaded the South. The United States and China entered the war on opposing sides, and by 1953 President Eisenhower had concluded that the conflict had reached a stalemate. That July, after more than four million people had been killed, the sides signed a ceasefire, but not a peace treaty.

The regime’s efforts to cultivate paranoia and contempt for America are rooted in the scale and the devastation of the bombing during the war. Dean Rusk, who later became Secretary of State, recalled, in an oral history in 1985, that the United States bombed “every brick that was standing on top of another, everything that moved.” General Curtis LeMay, the head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984, “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off—what—twenty per cent of the population.” After the ceasefire, each side walked back two thousand metres, creating the D.M.Z., a buffer zone two and a half miles wide. Large numbers of troops are stationed on both sides, and outbreaks of violence have killed several hundred soldiers over the years. In the most recent incident, in August, 2015, two South Korean soldiers were wounded by land mines.

The Korean People’s Army assigned Lieutenant Colonel Pang Myong Jin to show me around. Pang is in his late thirties, with prominent cheekbones and a sharp chin. He wore a green uniform and an officer’s cap as broad as a dinner plate. We drove down a narrow road, through a gap in the tank traps and the barbed wire, to a clearing in the forest, which the North Koreans have turned into a shrine, called the North Korea Peace Museum. In their version of the conflict, the United States started the Korean War; the singular leadership of Kim Il Sung led to a humiliating defeat of the Americans, who have tried, ever since, to provoke another war. “This was the first time that the U.S. was defeated by the Korean people,” Pang told me. He led me to a tall stone tablet with a Korean inscription:

The great leader, Comrade Kim Jong Il, visited this spot four times, including on July 19, 1972. The esteemed high commander, Comrade Kim Jong Un, visited on March 3, 2012. They taught us the valuable lesson of preserving and passing on this historic site—where invading Americans knelt before the people in surrender—to the next generation, in a reunified homeland.

Every country valorizes its war record, but North Korea’s mythology—the improbable victory, the divine wisdom of the Kim family, and America’s enduring weakness and hostility—has shaped its conception of the present to a degree that is hard for the rest of the world to understand. In something close to a state religion, North Korea tells its people that their nation may be small, but its unique “single-hearted unity” would crush a beleaguered American military. That’s a volatile notion. Robert Jervis, a Columbia University political scientist, who studies the origins of war, once observed, “War is most likely if you overestimate others’ hostility but underestimate their capabilities.” It can be hard to know where North Korea’s reverie ends and realism resumes.

At our last stop, we drove through a grove of ginkgo trees, and arrived at a blue-painted hut that straddles the border with South Korea. North Korean guards in helmets watched us approach. When the two sides hold negotiations, they meet at a heavy wooden table that sits in both countries. I took a seat. “The microphones are the dividing line,” Pang said. I walked across the hut to stand, for a moment, in South Korea. When we stepped back outside, Pang said, “This is a very dangerous place, but the respected leader came here during the military exercises, at the highest level of tension. Do you think Trump would dare to come here?”

Yes, I said. He looked disappointed.

I asked Pang if he thinks the U.S. and North Korea will find themselves at war again. He reminded me that Kim had threatened to fire missiles into the Pacific Ocean. “We will fire a warning shot at Guam, and if that doesn’t work then we will fire a warning shot at the mainland United States. We want to achieve world peace, but if this isn’t possible then we are prepared for war.”

Citizens over the age of sixteen are expected to wear a badge celebrating at least one member of the Kim family.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

If you fire at Guam, I asked, how do you expect the U.S. to respond? He thought for a moment. It was quiet, except for the drone of cicadas. Then Pang cited a comment by Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, in a recent appearance on the “Today” show, which had filtered through translations and reached Pang more or less intact. Graham recounted his conversations with Trump, in which the President said he was prepared to strike Korea because the casualties will be “over there.”

“Trump said if there is war, then it will happen in the D.P.R.K., not in the U.S.,” Pang said. “So clearly he is preparing for war. He understands what he’s saying.”

What, exactly, are America’s options with North Korea? Many Korea specialists in Washington favor a major increase in pressure tactics, known as “strategic strangulation.” The U.S. would expand the use of cyber hacking and other covert methods to disrupt missile development and unnerve the government; it would flood the North with smuggled flash drives loaded with uncensored entertainment and information. It would also attempt to close off North Korea’s illicit trade networks, by interdicting ships, expanding sanctions against Chinese companies, and freezing the assets of individual leaders. “Make hundreds of millions of dollars of North Korean deposits in a Swiss bank disappear,” Evans Revere said. “The goal of this is not to cause the collapse of the regime. The goal of this is to convince the North Koreans that collapse is just over the horizon, and, if Kim Jong Un is a rational actor, then he will understand that.” Critics of the plan say that North Korea has perfected its ability to absorb pain, and that the plan is not fundamentally different from what previous Administrations have attempted.

There is also scattered support for a less confrontational option, a short-term deal known as a “freeze for freeze.” North Korea would stop weapons development in exchange for a halt or a reduction in U.S.-South Korean military exercises. Proponents say that a freeze, which could be revoked if either side cheats, is hardly perfect, but the alternatives are worse. Critics say that versions of it have been tried, without success, and that it will damage America’s alliance with the South. Thus far the Trump Administration has no interest. “The idea that some have suggested, of a so-called ‘freeze for freeze,’ is insulting,” Nikki Haley, the U.N. Ambassador, said before the Security Council on September 4th. “When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard.”

Outside the Administration, the more people I talked to, the more I heard a strong case for some level of diplomatic contact. When Obama dispatched James Clapper to Pyongyang, in 2014, to negotiate the release of two prisoners, Clapper discovered that North Korea had misread the purpose of the trip. The government had presumed that he was coming in part to open a new phase in the relationship. “They were bitterly disappointed,” he said. Clapper’s visit convinced him that the absence of diplomatic contact is opening a dangerous gulf of misperception. “I was blown away by the siege mentality—the paranoia—that prevails among the leadership of North Korea. When we sabre-rattle, when we fly B-1s accompanied by jet escorts from the Republic of Korea and Japan, it makes us feel good, it reassures the allies, but what we don’t factor in is the impact on the North Koreans.”

Clapper went on, “I think that what we should do is consider seriously, in consultation with South Korea, establishing an interest section in Pyongyang much like we had in Havana for decades, to deal with a government that we didn’t recognize. If we had a permanent presence in Pyongyang, I wonder whether the outcome of the tragedy of Otto Warmbier might have been avoided. Secondly, it would provide on-scene insight into what is actually going on in North Korea—intelligence.”

A fruit stall outside a station of the Pyongyang Metro.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Table-tennis gear at the Kobangsan Guest House, on the outskirts of Pyongyang.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Ultimately, the Trump Administration must decide if it can live with North Korea as a nuclear state. During the Cold War, the United States used deterrence, arms control, and diplomacy to coexist with a hostile, untrustworthy adversary. At its height, the Soviet Union had fifty-five thousand nuclear weapons. According to the rand Corporation, the North Koreans are on track to have between fifty and a hundred by 2020; that would be less than half the size of Great Britain’s arsenal.

Susan Rice, who served as Obama’s national-security adviser, argued, in a Times Op-Ed last month, that the U.S. can “rely on traditional deterrence” to blunt North Korea’s threat. But McMaster is skeptical that the Soviet model can be applied to Pyongyang. He told me, “There are reasons why this situation is different from the one we were in with the Soviets. The North Koreans have shown, through their words and actions, their intention to blackmail the United States into abandoning our South Korean ally, potentially clearing the path for a second Korean War.”

If the Administration were to choose a preventive war, one option is “decapitation,” an effort to kill senior leaders with a conventional or even a nuclear attack, though most analysts consider the risks unacceptable. Such a strike could rally the population around the regime and cause a surviving commander to respond with a nuclear weapon. Another option is akin to Israel’s 1981 stealth attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor, the linchpin of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons development, which set back Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons by at least a decade. “That’s a textbook case of a preventive war,” the senior Administration official told me.

But the comparison between Osirak and North Korea is limited. In 1981, Iraq had yet to make a bomb, and it had just one major nuclear target, which was isolated in the desert and relatively easy to eliminate. North Korea already has dozens of usable nuclear warheads, distributed across an unknown number of facilities, many of them hidden underground. Even destroying their missiles on the launch pad has become much harder, because the North has developed mobile launchers and solid-fuel missiles, which can be rolled out and fired with far less advance notice than older liquid-fuel missiles.

The Obama Administration studied the potential costs and benefits of a preventive war intended to destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Its conclusion, according to Rice, in the Times, was that it would be “lunacy,” resulting in “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of casualties.” North Korea likely would retaliate with an attack on Seoul. The North has positioned thousands of artillery cannons and rocket launchers in range of the South Korean capital, which has a population of ten million, and other densely populated areas. (Despite domestic pressure to avoid confrontation, South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, has accepted the installation of an American missile-defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or thaad.)

Some two hundred thousand Americans live in South Korea. (Forty thousand U.S. military personnel are stationed in Japan, which would also be vulnerable.) A 2012 study of the risks of a North Korean attack on Seoul, by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, estimates that sixty-five thousand civilians would die on the first day, and tens of thousands more in the days that followed. If Kim used his stockpiles of sarin gas and biological weapons, the toll would reach the millions. U.S. and South Korean forces could eventually overwhelm the North Korean artillery, but, by any measure, the conflict would yield one of the worst mass killings in the modern age.

In dozens of conversations this summer, in the United States and Asia, experts from across the political spectrum predicted that, despite the threats from Trump and McMaster, the U.S. most likely will accept the reality of North Korea as a nuclear state, and then try to convince Kim Jong Un that using—or selling—those weapons would bring about its annihilation. John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University, in Seoul, said, “If, one day, an American President comes along—maybe Trump—who understands the problem is the hostile relationship, and takes steps to improve it, then the slow train to denuclearization could leave the station.”

Managing a nuclear North Korea will not be cheap. It will require stronger missile defenses in South Korea, Japan, Alaska, and Hawaii, and more investment in intelligence to track the locations of North Korea’s weapons, to insure that we pose a credible threat of destroying them. Scott Snyder, of the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “I think we’re going to end up in a situation where we live with a nuclear-capable North Korea, but it will be a situation that is incredibly dangerous. Because, at that point, any unexplained move that looks like it could involve preparations for a nuclear strike could precipitate an American preëmptive response.” Even that risk, by almost all accounts, is better than a war.

IV. “We’re Not Going to Die Alone”

On the morning of August 17th, I awoke and found a new tweet from @realDonaldTrump: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision. The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable.” What decision was the President referring to? After poking around online, I discovered that Trump had picked up on Kim’s comment that he “would watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” before deciding whether to fire missiles at Guam. To Trump, this was Kim standing down. He was pleased. (A few days later, Trump told a rally in Phoenix, “He is starting to respect us.”) But, it seemed, Trump was misreading the signals. “He only read one half of the statement,” Pak said, in frustration.

That morning, I was scheduled to interview a senior diplomat named Jo Chol Su, who had served in the Embassy in Geneva before being assigned, recently, to work on the United States. We spoke at my hotel, seated in a pair of giant armchairs, beside an especially large pair of Kim portraits.

Jo arrived with a young colleague to translate for us and carried a sheaf of printed remarks. Jo asked if he could begin with “an overview of the current situation and the history” of relations between our countries. He studied my face and added, “I’ll make it brief.” He spoke for seventeen minutes, lambasting the latest sanctions and hailing the ICBMs as a new era. “Today, we’ve got everything we need in our hands, and it’s preposterous to think that new sanctions and new threats will change anything.”

When he finished, I mentioned that, overnight, Trump had issued a tweet about Kim Jong Un. Jo looked stricken. There was nothing in his prepared remarks about it. He asked me to read it aloud, and he jotted it down as I read it. When I was done, Jo looked up and said, through his translator, “Once more, please.”

I read the tweet again. Jo stared at his paper. After a pause, he reiterated some of his speech and then improvised: “The U.S. should put an end to its high-handed practices and unilateral compulsion toward the D.P.R.K. and just leave us alone.”

Commuters reading the official newspaper on a Pyongyang Metro platform.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Jo wrapped up with a grand farewell. “I know that The New Yorker is very influential and I’ve received good feelings through our dialogue today,” the translator said. “I’d be grateful if you just write articles which are conducive to the improved bilateral relations between the D.P.R.K. and the U.S.”

The three of us walked to the lobby. Jo lit a cigarette, ordered a coffee, and turned to me and said, in nearly perfect English, “I’m sorry—I should’ve asked first if you’d like a coffee. Can I order you one?”

Diplomats, no matter what their language skills, often use a translator on formal occasions, but I was impressed by how swiftly Jo eased out of his official mask. We chatted, and I asked him if he’d been to the United States. Never, he said. I had wondered what it must be like to experience the United States through the fog of Twitter. It turned out that it wasn’t much different from Americans trying to make sense of North Korea through its propaganda.

After breakfast one morning, Mr. Pak drove me to a subway station in downtown Pyongyang, and announced, “This is for the nuclear war.”

By now, I was accustomed to his chipper declarations about an imminent cataclysm, but this one baffled me. He explained, “Everything here has a dual-use purpose.” He pointed to an underpass, beneath an intersection, which he said can serve as a shelter. In the back yards of apartment blocks, residents can take cover in storage cellars. Surrounded by commuters, we boarded an escalator, heading down to the station.

Built in the seventies, with Russian help, the Pyongyang Metro lies a hundred metres underground, nearly twice as far as the deepest platform in the New York City subway. Pyongyang stations are equipped with large blast doors. “During the Korean War, we were threatened by nukes,” Pak said. In 1950, President Truman raised the possibility of using the atomic bomb in Korea. “It touched our people’s minds,” he said, adding, “We don’t want that to happen again. And now we’ve got nukes and we can comfortably say, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

In the event of a nuclear war, American strategists assume that North Korea would first launch a nuclear or chemical weapon at an American military base in Japan or Guam, in the belief that the U.S. would then hold its fire, rather than risk a strike on its mainland. I mentioned that to Pak, but he countered with a different view. “The point of nuclear war is to give total destruction to another party,” he said. “There are no moves, no maneuvers. That’s a conventional war.”

When we reached the subway platform, we were treated to patriotic orchestral music playing on the loudspeaker. Broadsheet newspaper pages were hung behind glass for people to read while they waited for the train. The scene reminded me of thirty-year-old photos I’ve seen of Beijing. We rode the train awhile, and then got on the escalator for the long ascent to the surface.

I was glad to be back in the open air. We got in the Toyota, and Pak said, “If the U.S. puts sanctions and sanctions and sanctions and sanctions, if they drive us to the edge of the cliff, we will attack. That’s how the world wars have started.” He thought awhile and then said, “Don’t push us too hard, because you’re going to start a war. And we should say, we’re not going to die alone.”

This was a familiar refrain. Some of the American officials in Washington who are immersed in the problem of North Korea frequently mention the old Korean saying “Nuh jukgo, nah jukja!” It means “You die, I die!” It’s the expression you hear in a barroom fight, or from an exasperated spouse—the notion that one party will go over the cliff if it will take the other down, too. Krys Lee, a Korean-American author and translator, said, “My mother also used it on me!” Lee finds that it’s hard for Americans and Koreans to gauge each other’s precise emotions because Koreans tend to use “more abstract, dramatic, and sentimental language.” She has heard that many Korean literature students find Raymond Carver—the most laconic of American authors—“very dry, and that he didn’t translate well.”

On my last morning in Pyongyang, I visited the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. Shortly after Kim came to power, he renovated and expanded it; the museum is now nearly three-quarters the size of the Louvre. Choe Un Jong, a captain in the Korean People’s Army, showed me around. We were the only visitors. (It was a Friday, when, Choe said, the museum is open only to foreigners.) A tall woman in her twenties, Choe had stylish wavy hair that fell to her shoulders. She said, apologetically, “Today I cannot show you all of the museum. It takes three or four days.”

We stood beneath a three-story granite statue of a barrel-chested young Kim Il Sung, looking indistinguishable from his grandson. I told Choe that I had trouble telling their statues apart. She was thrilled. “Without any explanation, people think that that’s Marshal Kim Jong Un!” she said. The exhibits made use of life-size wax figures: there was a Korean commando crouching in the woods, and a dead American soldier with his eyes rolled back and a raven picking at his chest. We walked past captured howitzers and tanks, and a U.S. plane that she said delivered “germ bombs” loaded with “malaria, cholera, and typhoid.” (That claim has been widely debunked.) Choe sat me down for a video called “Who Started the Korean War?,” in which the narrator said, “The Korean War was precisely a direct product of the aggressive foreign policy of the United States to dominate the world.”

The mythology was no surprise, but one exhibit contained a stark implication for the current crisis. Beside the museum, we boarded the U.S.S. Pueblo, a Navy spy ship that was captured in January, 1968, long after the end of the Korean War. The seizure—during a surge of hostilities not unlike the present—was an audacious gamble on North Korea’s part. One American crew member was killed and eighty-two were detained. Lyndon Johnson considered retaliating with a naval blockade or even a nuclear strike. But he was consumed by the war in Vietnam, and, in the end, he did not retaliate. After eleven months, the U.S. apologized for spying and won the release of the prisoners.

The Pueblo incident nearly started a war, but Kim Il Sung drew a powerful, and potentially misleading, lesson from it. In a private conversation in 1971, Kim told Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Romanian President, that the Pueblo and other standoffs had convinced him that Washington backs down. “The Americans don’t want to continue this fight,” he said, according to documents in Romania’s state archives. “They let us know it’s not their intention to fight the Koreans again.”

Van Jackson, a scholar of international relations who served in the Pentagon from 2009 to 2014, spent years analyzing the Kim family’s handling of crises, including the seizure of the Pueblo. The grandfather’s theory of victory still drives North Korea toward provocation, he said, but the regime also knows its limits; to survive, it chooses violence but avoids escalation. “When South Korea blares giant propaganda speakers at the North from the D.M.Z., North Korea fires warning shots nearby but doesn’t dare attack the speakers themselves,” he said. “When South Korean N.G.O.s send propaganda leaflets into North Korea using hot-air balloons—which really pisses them off—North Korea threatens to attack the N.G.O.s but instead just fires at the unmanned balloons.” In Jackson’s view, North Korea is not irrational, but it very much wants America to think that it is.

Jackson believes that the Trump Administration’s threat to launch a preventive war opens a new phase. “Trump may abandon the one thing that has prevented war in the past: U.S. restraint,” he told me. In embracing new rhetoric and rationale, the U.S. risks a spiral of hostility in which neither side intends to start a war but threats and intimidation lead to ever more aggressive behavior. Trump and Kim may goad each other into the very conflict that they are both trying to avoid.

In 1966, Thomas Schelling, the deterrence expert, wrote that brinkmanship hinges, above all, on “beliefs and expectations.” Our grasp of North Korea’s beliefs and expectations is not much better than its grasp of ours. To go between Washington and Pyongyang at this nuclear moment is to be struck, most of all, by how little the two understand each other. In eighteen years of reporting, I’ve never felt as much uncertainty at the end of a project, a feeling that nobody—not the diplomats, the strategists, or the scholars who have devoted their lives to the subject—is able to describe with confidence how the other side thinks. We simply don’t know how Kim Jong Un really regards the use of his country’s nuclear arsenal, or how much North Korea’s seclusion and mythology has distorted its understanding of American resolve. We don’t know whether Kim Jong Un is taking ever-greater risks because he is determined to fulfill his family’s dream of retaking South Korea, or because he is afraid of ending up like Qaddafi.

To some in the Trump Administration, the gaps in our knowledge of North Korea represent an argument against deterrence; they are unwilling to assume that Pyongyang will be constrained by the prospect of mutually assured destruction. But if the alternative is a war with catastrophic costs, then gaps in our knowledge should make a different case. Iraq taught us the cost of going to war against an adversary that we do not fully understand. Before we take a radical step into Asia, we should be sure that we’re not making that mistake again. ♦

This article appears in other versions of the September 18, 2017, issue, with the headline “On the Brink.”
Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, and covers politics and foreign affairs.


……..and now what Buckwheat?…..that’s a long read and I understand that few will read  it all ….which I really don’t understand but who gives a hoot?……. I’ll go back for another read before Updating with any comments at there end.  May not be any….or there could be too many…….remains to be seen. ……………..w

……..if no comments…this will be it……. as in


…….The Racist and The Pussy Grabber…..

 ….so…?…Heard the one about The Racist and The Pussy Grabber?………

Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff, represents in miniature what President Trump would like to be more maximally—a successful American authoritarian.

The White House Press Office issued a statement that President Trump had pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

President Trump had little to offer that was specific or coherent in the rambling, hate-filled speech that he delivered in Phoenix this week—the one that he later assessed in a self-congratulatory tweet as “enthusiastic, dynamic, and fun.” The speech lurched between schoolyard bragging (“I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment” than the “élite” and “I live in the White House, too, which is really great”), the usual whining about reporters (“sick,” “bad,” “dishonest” people), and insults to Arizona’s two Republican senators, one of whom is currently battling brain cancer. The rhetorical flourishes borrowed from Fascist tropes, with their distinctive mix of vague language and unmistakable menace: the virtuous “we” and the unspecified “they,” who are trying to take away “our” customs and culture; the “thugs,” who protest the leader’s vision of America.

But there were a few moments when Trump got very particular, and one of them was when he chose to express his keen admiration for Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County. In July, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court, for defying an earlier court order to stop detaining people solely on suspicion of their immigration status. In Phoenix, Trump hinted that he would pardon Arpaio. He said that he wasn’t going to cause controversy by issuing a pardon then and there, but Sheriff Joe “can feel good,” he pledged, and was “going to be just fine.” Trump is likely a fan of Arpaio’s because Arapio is a fan of his—an early supporter who also went all in for birtherism, at one point sending members of a so-called Cold Case Posse to Hawaii to dig up something incriminating about Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

But Trump probably also likes Arpaio because the former sheriff represents in miniature what the President would like to be more maximally—a successful American authoritarian. Earlier this month, in a conversation with Fox News, Trump called Arpaio “an outstanding sheriff” and “a great American patriot.” It’s worth considering what it takes, in Trump’s view, to deserve such tributes. Arpaio, who served as the sheriff of Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, from 1993 until he was voted out of office, in 2016, has a long-standing reputation for flouting civil rights, particularly those of Latinos.

In 2011, an investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found that Arpaio’s sheriff’s department engaged in egregious racial profiling in its traffic stops and discrimination in its jailing practices. In Maricopa County, Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped than “similarly situated non-Latino drivers,” and about a fifth of traffic stops, most of which involved Latino drivers, violated Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable seizures. Sheriff’s department officers punished Latino inmates who had difficulty understanding orders in English by locking down their pods, putting them in solitary confinement, and refusing to replace their soiled sheets and clothes.

The investigation found that sheriff’s department officers addressed Latino inmates as “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “fucking Mexicans,” and “stupid Mexicans.”

Arpaio, throughout his tenure, specialized in meting out theatrical punishments both petty and cruel. He required that detainees wear old-fashioned, black-and-white striped uniforms and pink underwear, presumably for the dollop of extra humiliation such costuming offered. He brought back chain gangs, including for women and juveniles. He housed detainees outdoors, under Army-surplus tents, in Phoenix temperatures that regularly soar well above a hundred degrees. “I put them up next to the dump, the dog pound, the waste-disposal plant,” Arpaio told my colleague William Finnegan, who wrote a Profile of Arpaio, in 2009. The sheriff called detainees “criminals” when they had not been convicted and once referred to his jail as “a concentration camp.” Finnegan described a federal investigation that found that

deputies had used stun guns on prisoners already strapped into a “restraint chair.” The family of one man who died after being forced into the restraint chair was awarded more than six million dollars as the result of a suit filed in federal court. The family of another man killed in the restraint chair got $8.25 million in a pre-trial settlement. (This deal was reached after the discovery of a surveillance video that showed fourteen guards beating, shocking, and suffocating the prisoner, and after the sheriff’s office was accused of discarding evidence, including the crushed larynx of the deceased.)

Like Trump, Arpaio regards reporters, activists, and critics of his policies as personal enemies as well as enemies of the people. The Justice Department investigation found that his department had “engaged in a pattern or practice of retaliating against individuals for exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.” It had “arrested individuals without cause, filed meritless complaints against the political adversaries of Sheriff Arpaio, and initiated unfounded civil lawsuits and investigations against individuals critical of MCSO policies and practices.” As Finnegan wrote, when the Phoenix New Times ran an investigation of Arpaio’s real-estate dealings that included his home address, the paper received a “broad subpoena, demanding, among other things, the Internet records of all visitors to its Web site in the previous two and a half years.” Sheriff’s deputies then “staged late-night raids on the homes of Michael Lacey and James Larkin, executives of Village Voice Media, which owns the New Times. The deputies arrested both men for, they said, violating grand-jury secrecy. (The county attorney declined to prosecute, and it turned out that the subpoenas were issued unlawfully.)” Local activists who applauded when someone made critical remarks about Arpaio at a Board of Supervisors meeting were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Arpaio had a private investigator follow the wife of a judge who had ruled against him. And so on.

Plenty of Maricopa County’s residents evidently liked Arpaio’s “colorful” reputation as America’s toughest sheriff. Crime rates in the county decreased during some years of his tenure, though crime rates declined across the country, too, so it would be difficult to ascribe the reduction to Arpaio’s policing practices. And his “toughness” came at considerable cost to the taxpayers, who have had to pay for the tens of millions of dollars it has cost the county to respond to lawsuits against the former sheriff. Meanwhile, reporting by the Associated Press and several Arizona media outlets revealed that Arpaio’s department, preoccupied with going after illegal immigration, had failed to properly investigate some four hundred sex crimes over a three-year period in the mid-two-thousands.

Arpaio was scheduled to be sentenced for the contempt-of-court charge on October 5th, and he could have served up to six months in prison. Choosing to pardon him is a gift to the white nationalists. But it also signals a broad-brush contempt for fundamental rights in this country. As Paul Charlton, a former U.S. Attorney in Arizona, told the Washington Post earlier this week, “If you pardon that kind of conduct, if you forgive that behavior, you are acknowledging that racist conduct in law enforcement is worth the kind of mercy that underlies a pardon—and it’s not. And it’s an abuse of the President’s discretion. It’s an injustice, and speaks volumes about the President’s disregard for civil rights IF this pardon takes place.

…….perhaps there are more chapters to this one……..

Last week, President Trump tried to use the cover of Hurricane Harvey to deflect attention away from his abrupt pardon of notorious racist and human rights abuser Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

But instead of having the whole affair slip under the radar, Trump and the Justice Department are now looking at a protracted and very public legal fight, according to the Arizona Central.

While District Judge Susan Bolton has approved the request to throw out Arpaio’s sentencing hearing, she’s not letting him walk away so easily.

This morning, Bolton ordered that the Department of Justice file a memo and scheduled a hearing for October 4th where the Trump team must publicly argue why a man who was so racist he was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to end his discriminatory racial profiling policies deserves to walk free.

The state of Arizona will have their own chance to argue why Arpaio should not be pardoned, allowing them to publicly, and in great detail, list the full extent of the heinous crimes and misdeeds of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, which include running what he refers to as a concentration camp, torturing his inmates, forcing a woman to give birth in shackles, and refusing to investigate sex crimes against Latina children.

160 people have died in his jails, with little explanation and no consequences for the abusive guards or entire absence of oversight.

Trump is about to find out the hard way that in the United States of America, the President is not king. He cannot simply clap his hands and subvert the legal and judicial system of our nation because he wills it – a warning that all those currently under questioning in the Trump-Russia investigation would do well to remember.



….for crying out loud…..peeking …..at leaking?………….


……..this is like playing pin the tail on the donkey……….with a Real Donkey…………

Justin Sullivan/Getty

The leaks won’t stop

There’s a solution, but they’re not going to like it.

The Trump administration can sure try. It can make a renewed effort to identify and punish leakers in intelligence agencies — something Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to do in the coming days. It might prevail on FBI director nominee Christopher Wray to entertain the possibility his predecessor James Comey reportedly balked at: throwing reporters in jail for leaked information. It can even turn against itself: On Wednesday night, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci accused White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of leaking Scaramucci’s financial disclosure forms, and threatened to call the FBI to have Priebus investigated.

It won’t work.

This isn’t just because the president himself is allegedly cavalier with classified info, like the details he reportedly told Russian emissaries in May that could lead to the identification of Israel’s best source on ISIS, or his tweet in July that confirmed a covert program in Syria(in the course of insulting a Washington Post story about it).

It’s because of the way the president runs his government.

Donald Trump and his advisers have created an administration in which there is no way to get the president’s attention, or to resolve problems, through normal channels.

The only way to make sure an issue will get any attention whatsoever — much less have a prayer of actually getting fixed — is to leak.

Trump doesn’t read memos. But he watches Fox & Friends.

Imagine you’re a somewhat senior government official — one who doesn’t get a lot of face time with the president, but who has access to pretty important information — and you need to send a message to President Donald Trump.

You can try to write him a memo, or get the message into a briefing paper his staff is preparing. But the staff is trying to squeeze a ton of information into the incredibly narrow aperture of “what the president is actually going to read.”

Your message had better be less than a page (ideally a lot less, so that it can fit on a page with all the other messages all the other officials like you are trying to send). It had better include a visual aid — a map is good.

If you can find some way, however gratuitous, to mention the president’s name in the text, that’s great — unless he’s already stopped reading before he even gets to what you’re trying to say because someone else didn’t jam his name into a paragraph.

You’d better not need the president to actually make a choice between multiple options. You should be able to tell him the pros and cons of how something will play in the press — which doesn’t give you a lot of options if you’re trying to get him to deal with something that shouldn’t be publicly known. And whatever you do, don’t tell him he can’t do something: That’s reportedly “the quickest way to get him” to do just that.

Or you can go the easier route: You can just leak the information to someone so that it ends up on Fox & Friends.

You know the president watches Fox News’s morning show, because everyone knows the president watches Fox News’s morning show. His early-bird tweetstorms are timed to the topics of their segments. He even favorably tweets about articles about how much he loves Fox & Friends. Advertisers, including lobbyists, are paying a premium to air on shows Trump is known to watch.

Why should lobbyists outside the government have a more reliable way of reaching the president than people inside it? You go where the president is likely to see you.

This isn’t a product of the federal government. It’s a product of organizations Trump runs. His campaign was famously leaky. His transition team was so leaky that pretty much every major Cabinet appointee was known in advance. His White House is hardly in a position to lecture executive branch agencies about leaking, given how liable they are to dish about their boss and each other to any of several reporters.

It’s perfectly understandable. They, too, are simply giving themselves the best chance of reaching the president’s ear.

If you refuse to take bad news the easy way, you force yourself to deal with it the hard way

The information flow could, in theory, be fixed — if Trump wanted to. But to want to fix it — to be willing to slog through detailed memos and limit his screen time — he’d have to confront a deeper problem: The most powerful man in the free world is simply unwilling to hear bad news.

This is one of the biggest reasons the information he gets from staff is so limited — reports indicate that to keep him in a good mood, staffers deliberately pad packets of press clips with positive coverage. But even dissent that manages to get through to him might go unheard or rejected — it could even ruin his mood and cloud his decision-making for the rest of the day.

That defeats the whole purpose of telling the president bad news in confidence. It makes leaking the obvious choice.

Erick Erickson wrote about this back in May, when discussing a friend who witnessed the meeting in which Trump divulged classified information to the Russian officials:

The President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.

So some of the sources are left with no other option but to go to the media, leak the story, and hope that the intense blowback gives the President a swift kick in the butt. Perhaps then he will recognize he screwed up. The President cares vastly more about what the press says than what his advisers say.

This is a feature of Trump’s personality, but it isn’t confined to Trump. You can see it throughout his administration — in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s distance from staff, in Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly’s insistence that any criticism of his agents is a direct attack on morale.

Trump appointees can’t be trusted to be objective when dealing with internal issues because the president appears to feel no compunction about attacking people for disloyalty — as his sustained attack on Attorney General Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government has made painfully clear. Obama appointees run the risk of getting shoved out at any time if they cause any problems. And then there are all the positions in government sitting empty, simply preventing conflicts from being resolved because there’s no one senior enough to resolve them.

The Trump administration, to all appearances, has only one way to deal with bad news: shoot the messenger. If the messenger stands up and identifies himself in a private meeting or a memo or a recusal, they know where to shoot. If the messenger leaks to a reporter, they don’t — and besides, they might, just might, realize it was their problem to begin with.

Bad news doesn’t simply go away if you don’t want to hear about it. The Trump administration has created an environment in which leaks are fulfilling the function of basic executive processes, like resolving internal disputes, correcting course, and simply giving the president an accurate sense of what’s going on.

If the Trump administration really wanted to stop the leaks, it would change to make leaking unnecessary. But that would require the president to shut up and listen to people he’s already decided are part of the “deep state” out to get him. It would require him to acknowledge that he can’t drain the swamp without getting drowned in leaks.

…thanks to VOX 

Updated by Jul 27, 2017


……..for crying out loud……

……….and this …I am the pussy grabber …….mistake we have in the white house …..is the commander in chief of the most destructive force ever……… great work America …..

…..Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why?…………

…….serious history being written these days…….. many issues in dispute…..facts are facts…..try some of these……w

It was a breezy, surprisingly pleasant summer week in Washington as the frenzy around potential Trump-Russia revelations reached near-carnival levels. On Thursday, brightly clad groups scattered across the lawns of Capitol Hill could almost have been picnickers — if not for the mounds of cable leashing them to nearby satellite trucks. Every news studio in D.C. seemed to have spilled forth into the jarring sunlight, eager for the best live backdrop to the spectacle that awaited. Bars opened early for live viewing of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.

Political ads against Comey — who isn’t running for anything — aired during coverage of the hearing, often back-to-back with vibrant ads praising President Trump’s first foreign trip, where he “[united] forces for good against evil.”

Only D.C.’s usually opportunistic T-shirt printers seemed to have missed the cue, forced to display the usual tourist “FBI” fare in rainbow spectrum but offering no specialty knitwear for the occasion. The conversion of America’s political arena into a hybrid sporting event/reality show was nonetheless near complete.




Russian state media — eagerly throwing peanuts into the three-ring circus in the days before by endlessly looping Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s mockery of America’s “hysteria” on all things Russia, and on the day after by running headlines of American “collusion” with ISIS — was dead silent on both of this week’s Senate hearings, during both of which intelligence leaders offered bleak and candid assessments of the cascading Russian threat against America.









And this is perhaps the banner flying over the investigations circus: Missing from the investigation of the supposed Russia scandal is any real discussion of Russia.

The starkest aspect of Comey’s prepared statement was the president’s lack of curiosity about the long-running, deep-reaching, well-executed and terrifyingly effective Russian attack on American democracy.









This was raised more than once in the hearing — that after Trump was briefed in January on the intelligence community’s report, which emphasized ongoing activity directed by the Kremlin against the United States, he has not subsequently evinced any interest in what can be done to protect us from another Russian assault. The president is interested in his own innocence, or the potential guilt of others around him — but not at all in the culpability of a foreign adversary, or what it meant. This is utterly astonishing.

Since the January intelligence report, the public’s understanding of the threat has not expanded. OK, Russia meddled in the election — but so what? Increasingly, responsibility for this is borne by the White House, which in seeking to minimize the political damage of “Trump/Russia” is failing to craft a response to the greatest threat the United States and its allies have ever faced.


Even if the president and his team were correct, and the Comey testimony definitively cleared the president of potential obstruction of justice or collusion charges — even if that were true, that does not also exonerate Russia. Nonetheless, this is a line the president seems to want drawn.

So here are the real issues — about Russia; about the brutal facts we have yet to face; and about some hard questions we need to ask ourselves, and our political leaders, and our president.

1. No matter what is true or not, we have moved toward the fractured, inward-looking, weakened America that President Putin wants to see.

An honest assessment of where we are reads like the setting of a dystopian spy novel. Paid advertising is defaming private American citizens viewed as opponents of the president, while political ads praise our glorious leader. The policy process is paralyzed while both party caucuses, once well-oiled legislative and messaging machines, have factionalized into guerrilla-like cells. The same can be said of many government agencies, whose halls remain quiet, awaiting political appointees who may never arrive. Policies are floated and tweeted and drafted and retracted. There are uneasy relationships between the White House and the intelligence community, and between the White House and Congress, and between the White House and other parts of the White House — which is bleeding over into how the intelligence community interacts with the Congress, as well.

This factionalization mirrors a deep and deepening public divide, which has been greatly accelerated by a war on truth. The Russian narrative is increasingly being echoed by far right media, and finding its way into mainstream conservative media. Episodes of violent unrest, and the potential for wider chaos, don’t seem far off.

Meanwhile, no one seems to be watching what Russia is still doing to us. No one is systematically speaking about the tactics of Russian hybrid warfare, and that these go beyond “fake news” and “hacking” into far-reaching intelligence operations and initiatives to destabilize Western countries, economies and societies. No one is talking about how Russia provides training for militants and terrorists in Europe, even as U.S. generals say it is supporting the Taliban as it attacks American forces in Afghanistan. No one is leading a unified effort to roll back Russian influence in Europe or Asia or the Middle East. No one is commenting on Russia’s new efforts to entrench its presence near eastern Ukraine, escalate the fighting there and destabilize the government in Kyiv. 

No one is commenting on how Russia is sparking and fueling Middle Eastern wars — first a physical one spiraling out from Syria, and now a diplomatic one that sweeps across the region. In a very real sense, if you want a glimpse of the world that Putin’s “gray Cardinal” Vladislav Surkov imagined when he described nonlinear warfare — “all against all” — the current churn throughout the Middle East, the Gulf states and North Africa is a pretty good example. This is a massive realignment that deeply affects U.S. interests, and which will cost us, in blood and treasure, in immeasurable ways.

But no one is commenting on the new hardware and manpower that Russia has deployed to the eastern and southern Mediterranean, or to its eastern and western borders. Our trenches will draw nearer again after the summer exercise season, but who will man them on the Western side is more uncertain. Europe’s newfound fortitude is absolutely critical — but their military capabilities will lag their ambitions for years to come.

Our relationships with our truest allies are frayed and fraying — and not just in headlines, but in trust and intelligence sharing and functionality, even as critical ambassadorships and administration jobs gape open. Those who remain, especially from the Pentagon and military commands — Defense Secretary James Mattis and the EUCOM and SOCOM commanders, notably — have been patrolling Europe with trips and reassurances, good work that was undone when the president removed mention of Article 5 from his speech at NATO headquarters. Though he committed to the principle of collective defense on Friday during a news conference with the president of Romania, that one act of petulance is devastating to years of NATO’s strategic planning.











Even behind closed doors, Trump reportedly did not once mention Russia to the NATO heads of state — not to discuss Russian attacks against our allies, and not to discuss Russia’s menacing of NATO skies, seas and borders. Instead, he browbeat our allies. Maybe it’s news to the White House — but it was Russia’s aggression, not Trump’s hectoring, that inspired the alliance to boost national military spending. Days later, the sting still on the slap, Trump lashed out at the mayor of London following a terror attack. These words and images, next to those of the president yukking it up in the Oval Office with the Russian foreign minister, add a dangerous element of fragility to the greatest military alliance in history.











It leaves us to wonder — who does President Trump imagine will come to our aid after the next attack on our soil? Who does he imagine will stand next to our troops and ease the burden at the front lines in the many wars he is fighting?

For while our attention is on the center ring and who may next find their head inside the lion’s mouth, we are engaged in expanding special warfare in Africa, a tense standoff on the Korean peninsulaexpanding operations in the Middle East. The president has requested a military budget to match this operational appetite — even if his inability to manage Congress makes it near-certain this will be trapped behind a continuing budget resolution until after the midterm elections. The Pentagon is clear on the purpose and direction of these operations, but the president’s tirades against countries hosting our men and military assets — Qatar, South Korea, Germany, etc. — complicate our ability to execute on-task.

Even Putin admits that “patriotic” Russian hackers were behind the attack on America — a fact the president will still not mention without caveat. Trump is isolated, manages those around him with Stalinesque puppeteering, and rightly views himself as under attack. But even if given every benefit of the doubt about the election, it is clear he does not think Russia is a threat.

2. Russia has altered American policies, our relationships with our allies and our view of our place in the world.

To be clear: I am not saying Trump did not win the election, or that he didn’t have considerable momentum toward the end of the campaign. Candidate Trump had a narrative that captured many hearts and minds — but this did not happen in a vacuum, but rather a landscape awash in Russian active measures.

A constantly misunderstood narrative was revisited during the Comey hearing — questions about whether Russian actions “changed” the vote. The focus on whether this means Russia physically changed votes is the greatest diversion tactic of all. Ironically, D.C.’s political class — whose existence is based upon the ability to deploy narratives that get some people to vote, and others not to — refuses to admit that outside interests could change a small percentage of votes in the Rust Belt.

If the Trump campaign itself has openly discussed its use of data-backed information operations to conduct targeted voter-suppression campaigns, possibly at the individual level — why would we believe the Russians wouldn’t be experimenting with the same tools and tactics? Do we really think Russian-friendly parties, oligarchs and state-owned interests hire U.S. political consultants and pollsters and technology firms merely to run ad campaigns, rather than to learn how to use these things against us?

These tools and tactics in the information space work better against America than anywhere else because there are a lot of us, and because English is the language of the internet — and the amplification factor because of these things is staggering, especially when one of our presidential candidates was borrowing and repeating Russian narrative and disinformation. What possible claim could any sensible American politician make that these factors had no impact in the decision making process of the American voter?

In fact, you can track the radical changes in the belief of certain narratives during the time period Comey identified as when the most intensive Kremlin-led activities were underway (beginning in summer 2015 through present day). During this time frame, Republican views on free trade agreements dropped 30 points, from roughly the same as Democrats to radically divergent (Democratic views remained relatively steady). Putin’s favorability rating increased, even while unfavorable views remained constant, fueled by a 20-point increase among Republicans and an 11-point increase among Independents. Between early 2016 and now, Republican views of whether media criticism can help keep political leaders in line — which for the previous five years was almost identical to Democratic views — dropped by 35 points.

An isolationist America that is softer on Russia and more in favor of authoritarian traits in leaders fits right into the narratives that the Kremlin nurtures and spends billions to promote. And if views changed so dramatically on these aspects of Russian narratives — why is it we believe their efforts didn’t change any votes?

In many ways, the trust-based, state-based U.S. voting system is surprisingly resilient to basic hacking or meddling. Every state, sometimes every county, runs its own elections with its own rules with its own machines (or not) serviced by their own vendors. Certainly, there are easy ways to hack this infrastructure — technicians servicing software, unsecured machines, etc. — but the decentralized system makes it a complicated affair. It’s uncertain and it’s messy and it would leave a trail of money and evidence that can be found and exposed.

Far simpler, it turns out, is just hacking people — getting them to change their views over time without realizing that they are doing so on the basis of deliberately coercive and false information that is targeted at them because they exhibit certain traits and habits that “data scientists” have profiled. And no one can prove anyone did anything.

And yes, this is indeed terrifying. So yes, it would be great if everyone would move on from denying the existence of the “hacked votes” no one is looking for to looking instead at the far more important issue: that Russian information warfare has come of age thanks to social media. Perhaps then, the tens of thousands of “programmers” working for Russia’s three largest data companies will make a lot more sense.

3. It will happen again; it is still happening now.

One final point, on the tactical weaponization of discrete pieces of information. Ours was not the only case where hacking introduced info or disinfo that came to dominate specific parts of the information space (particularly when massively amplified by botnets that know how to game the algorithms).


Just this week, the planting of a single false report, allegedly by Russian hackers, was used to justify a diplomatic rift that will fuel the realignment of the Middle East. Russia has been working to accelerate this process since 2011, when it used the Syrian civil war as a pretext to deploy to the region. It is no accident that this realignment has meant a proxy war that has empowered Iran — which has been helping kill Americans in Iraq since at least 2004 — and special efforts targeting countries that the U.S. has relied on for regional basing and power projection — including Turkey, Egypt, Qatar and Iraqi Kurdistan.

This tactic works because it prays on doubts and grievances that are already present — as the best information warfare does. Truth doesn’t matter. Once we know how we feel about something, who cares what the truth is? And information is just one act of Russia’s shadow war.


So this is where we are, six months after first taking stock of what Russia did to America. We are paralyzed and divided, watching a salacious sideshow of an investigation while Russian initiatives are underway in countless places, completely unchecked. The American president, eager to be rid of this “cloud,” has equated dismissing Russia’s global imperialist insurgency with loyalty to him.

As I wrote for Politico in January, Russia is clear about what its objectives are. When I said then that Russia was at war with the United States, this was an edgy, controversial view. Now, it is regularly repeated by senators and TV commentators. But our societal understanding of the war we face has not expanded fast enough.

Even looking only at the advance of Russian military assets — men, materiel, supporting infrastructure — the picture is grim. And yet the most concise encapsulation of the Russian concept of hybrid warfare — the chart depicting the “Gerasimov doctrine,” developed by the Russian chief of the general staff — shows that information warfare is the constant through all phases, and that the ideal ratio of nonmilitary to military activities is 4:1. The more important war is, by far, the shadow war. And yet we still refuse to accept what’s happening.

I don’t know why we just choose not to believe what Russia says, when they have repeatedly outlined what their strategic goals are and then moved to achieve them by force and guile. But it’s a bridge of disbelief we need to be willing to cross.

The war is in the shadows. And, right now, Russia is winning. There is only one question that we should be asking: What are we going to do to protect the American people from Russian acts of war — and why doesn’t the president want to talk about it?

Molly K. McKew (@MollyMcKew), an expert on information warfare, also advises governments and political parties on foreign policy and strategic communications. She advised Georgian President Saakashvili’s government from 2009-2013, and former Moldovan Prime Minister Filat, who has been a political prisoner since 2015, in 2014-2015.


……..I understand when people say they don’t read deep much anymore…..not understand really…..but saddened to hear it………….

…..reading pays off……..like TV for smart people……..Read it again! w



…..tic toc tic toc… goes the doomsday clock…..tic toc tic tic tic tic

……have a nice day?……

…..what is that sound?…………


…now aren’t you glad you clicked it?……..


…….now wasn’t that just another fun thing for the……………….back….of your …………………………..mind…………………w



















…A Vision Of Trump at War….

…..once upon a time…..

How the President Could Stumble Into Conflict

 Just a few months into the Trump administration, it still isn’t clear what course the president’s foreign policy will ultimately take. What is clear, however, is that the impulsiveness, combativeness, and recklessness that characterized Donald Trump’s election campaign have survived the transition into the presidency. Since taking office, Trump has continued to challenge accepted norms, break with diplomatic traditions, and respond to perceived slights or provocations with insults or threats of his own. The core of his foreign policy message is that the United States will no longer allow itself to be taken advantage of by friends or foes abroad. After decades of “losing” to other countries, he says he is going to put “America first” and start winning again.

It could be that Trump is simply staking out tough bargaining positions as a tactical matter, the approach to negotiations he has famously called “the art of the deal.” President Richard Nixon long ago developed the “madman theory,” the idea that he could frighten his adversaries into believing he was so volatile he might do something crazy if they failed to meet his demands—a tactic that Trump, whose reputation for volatility is firmly established, seems particularly well suited to employ.

The problem, however, is that negotiations sometimes fail, and adversaries are themselves often brazen and unpredictable. After all, Nixon’s madman theory—designed to force the North Vietnamese to compromise—did not work. Moreover, putting the theory into practice requires the capacity to act judiciously at the appropriate moment, something that Trump, as president, has yet to demonstrate. And whereas a failed business deal allows both parties to walk away unscathed if disappointed, a failed diplomatic gambit can lead to political instability, costly trade disputes, the proliferation of dangerous weapons, or even war. History is littered with examples of leaders who, like Trump, came to power fueled by a sense of national grievance and promises to force adversaries into submission, only to end up mired in a military, diplomatic, or economic conflict they would come

Will that happen to Trump? Nobody knows. But what if one could? What if, like Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles DickensA Christmas Carol, Trump could meet a ghost from the future offering a vision of where his policies might lead by the end of his term before he decides on them at its start?

The problem is that negotiations sometimes fail, and adversaries are themselves often brazen and unpredictable.

It is possible that such a ghost would show him a version of the future in which his administration, after a turbulent start, moderated over time, proved more conventional than predicted, and even had some success in negotiating, as he has pledged, “better deals.” But there is a real risk that events will turn out far worse—a future in which Trump’s erratic style and confrontational policies destroy an already fragile world order and lead to open conflict—in the most likely cases, with Iran, China, or North Korea.

In the narratives that follow, everything described as having taken place before mid-March 2017 actually happened. That which takes place after that date is—at least at the time of publication—fiction.


It is September 2017, and the White House is consumed with a debate about options for escalation with Iran. Another dozen Americans have been killed in an Iranian-sponsored attack on U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and the president is frustrated that previous air strikes in Iran failed to deter this sort of deadly aggression. He is tempted to retaliate much more aggressively this time but also knows that doing so risks involving U.S. troops even further in what is already a costly and unpopular war—the very sort of “mess” he had promised to avoid. Looking back, he now sees that this conflict probably became inevitable when he named his foreign policy team and first started to implement his new approach toward Iran.

Well before his election, of course, Trump had criticized the Iran nuclear agreement as “the worst deal ever negotiated” and promised to put a stop to Iran’s “aggressive push to destabilize and dominate” the Middle East. Some of his top advisers were deeply hostile to Iran and known to favor a more confrontational approach, including his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn; his CIA director, Mike Pompeo; his chief strategist, Steve Bannon; and his defense secretary, James Mattis. Some of Mattis’ former military colleagues said he had a 30-year-long obsession with Iran, noting, as one marine told Politico, “It’s almost like he wants to get even with them.”

During his campaign and first months in office, Trump whipped up anti-Iranian feelings and consistently misled the public about what the nuclear deal entailed. He falsely insisted that the United States “received absolutely nothing” from it, that it permitted Iran to eventually get the bomb, and that it gave $150 billion to Iran (apparently referring to a provision of the deal that allowed Iran to access some $50 billion of its own money that had been frozen in foreign accounts). Critics claimed that the rhetoric was reminiscent of the Bush administration’s exaggerations of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs in the run-up to the Iraq war. In February 2017, in response to an Iranian ballistic missile test, Flynn brashly declared that he was “officially putting Iran on notice.” Two days later, the administration announced a range of new sanctions on 25 Iranian individuals and companies involved in the ballistic missile program.

Trump whipped up anti-Iranian feelings and consistently misled the public about what the nuclear deal entailed.

Perhaps just as predictably, Iran dismissed the administration’s tough talk. It continued to test its missiles, insisting that neither the nuclear deal nor UN Security Council resolutions prohibited it from doing so. Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, even taunted Trump for his controversial immigration and travel ban, thanking him on Twitter for revealing the “true face” of the United States. Tehran also continued its policy of shipping arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen and providing military assistance to Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, neither of which proved particularly costly to the Iranian treasury. U.S. efforts to get Russia to limit Iran’s role in Syria were ignored, adding to the White House’s frustration.

To the surprise of many, growing U.S. pressure on Iran did not immediately lead to the collapse of the nuclear deal. As soon as he took office, Trump ended the Obama administration’s practice of encouraging banks and international companies to ensure that Iran benefited economically from the deal. And he expressed support for congressional plans to sanction additional Iranian entities for terrorism or human rights violations, as top officials insisted was permitted by the nuclear deal. Iran complained that these “backdoor” sanctions would violate the agreement yet took no action. By March 2017, U.S. officials were concluding internally—and some of the administration’s supporters began to gloat—that Trump’s tougher approach was succeeding.

Iranian ships take part in naval war game in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz in April 2010.

Iranian ships take part in naval war game in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz in April 2010.

Different behavior on either side could have prevented relations from deteriorating. But ultimately, the deal could not be sustained. In the early summer of 2017, real signs of trouble started to emerge. Under pressure from hardline factions within Iran, which had their own interest in spiking the deal, Tehran had continued its provocative behavior, including the unjustified detention of dual U.S.-Iranian citizens, throughout the spring. In June, after completing a review of his Iran policy, Trump put Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations and announced that continued sanctions relief would be contingent on Iran’s release of all U.S. detainees and a return to negotiations to address the nuclear deal’s “flaws.” Instead of submitting to these demands, Iran responded with defiance. Its new president, a hard-liner who had defeated Hassan Rouhani in the May 2017 election, declared that in the face of U.S. “noncompliance,” Iran would resume certain prohibited nuclear activities, including testing advanced centrifuges and expanding its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. Washington was suddenly abuzz with talk of the need for a new effort to choke off Iran economically or even a preventive military strike. 

The Trump administration had been confident that other countries would back its tougher approach and had warned allies and adversaries alike that they must choose between doing business with Iran and doing business with the United States. But the pressure did not work as planned. China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom all said that the deal had been working before the United States sought to renegotiate it, and they blamed Washington for precipitating the crisis. The EU even passed legislation making it illegal for European companies to cooperate with U.S. secondary sanctions. Trump fumed and vowed they would pay for their betrayal.

As the United States feuded with its closest partners, tensions with Iran escalated further. Frustrated by continued Iranian support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Pentagon stepped up patrols in the Strait of Hormuz and loosened the rules of engagement for U.S. forces. When an Iranian patrol boat aggressively approached a U.S. cruiser, in circumstances that are still disputed, the U.S. ship responded with deadly defensive force, killing 25 Iranian sailors.

The outrage in Iran bolstered support for the regime and led to widespread calls for revenge, which the country’s new president could not resist. Less than a week later, the Iranian-backed militia group Kataib Hezbollah killed six U.S. soldiers in Iraq. With the American public demanding retaliation, some called for diplomacy, recalling how, in January 2016, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke directly to defuse the situation after U.S. sailors drifted into Iranian waters. This time, the EU offered to mediate the crisis.

But the administration wanted nothing to do with what it considered the Obama administration’s humiliating appeasement of Iran. Instead, to teach Iran a lesson, Trump authorized a cruise missile strike on a known Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence headquarters, destroying three buildings and killing a dozen officers and an unknown number of civilians.

Trump’s advisers predicted that Iran would back down, but as nationalist fervor grew in Iran, Tehran escalated the conflict, calculating that the American public had no desire to spend more blood or treasure in the Middle East. Kataib Hezbollah and other Shiite militias in Iraq, some directed by Iran and others acting independently, launched further attacks on U.S. personnel. Tehran forced the weak government in Baghdad to demand the Americans’ departure from Iraq, which would deal a huge blow to the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State, or ISIS. 

As Washington reimposed the sanctions that had been suspended by the nuclear deal, Iran abandoned the limits on its enrichment of uranium, expelled the UN monitors, and announced that it was no longer bound by the agreement. With the CIA concluding that Iran was now back on the path to a nuclear weapons capability, Trump’s top advisers briefed the president in the Oval Office. Some counseled restraint, but others, led by Bannon and Mattis, insisted that the only credible option was to destroy the Iranian nuclear infrastructure with a massive preventive strike, while reinforcing the U.S. presence in Iraq to deal with the likely Iranian retaliation. Pompeo, a longstanding advocate of regime change in Iran, argued that such a strike might also lead to a popular uprising and the ousting of the supreme leader, an encouraging notion that Trump himself had heard think-tank experts endorse on television.

Once again, nervous allies stepped in and tried to broker a diplomatic solution. They tried to put the 2015 nuclear deal back in place, arguing that it now looked attractive by comparison. But it was too late. U.S. strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities in Arak, Fordow, Isfahan, Natanz, and Parchin led to retaliatory counterstrikes against U.S. forces in Iraq, U.S. retaliation against targets in Iran, terrorist attacks against Americans in Europe and the Middle East, and vows from Tehran to rebuild its nuclear program bigger and better than before. The president who had vowed to stop squandering American lives and resources in the Middle East now found himself wondering how he had ended up at war there.


China's national flag is raised during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Bird's Nest Stadium, August 2008.

China’s national flag is raised during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Bird’s Nest Stadium, August 2008.

It is October 2017, and experts are calling it the most dangerous confrontation between nuclear powers since the Cuban missile crisis. After a U.S.-Chinese trade war escalated well beyond what either side had predicted, a clash in the South China Sea has led to casualties on both sides and heavy exchanges of fire between the U.S. and Chinese navies. There are rumors that China has placed its nuclear forces on high alert. The conflict that so many long feared has begun. 

Of the many foreign targets of Trump’s withering criticism during the campaign and the early months of his presidency, China topped the list. As a candidate, Trump repeatedly accused the country of destroying American jobs and stealing U.S. secrets. “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” he said. Bannon, who early in the administration set up a shadow national security council in the White House, had even predicted conflict with China. “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to ten years,” he said in March 2016. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Not long after the election, Trump took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, breaking with decades of diplomatic tradition and suggestinga potential change in the United States’ “one China” policy. It wasn’t clear whether the move was inadvertent or deliberate, but either way, Trump defended his approach and insisted that the policy was up for negotiation unless China made concessions on trade. “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?” he tweeted. “I don’t think so!” In February 2017, after a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump announced that the United States would honor the “one China” policy after all. Asia experts were relieved, but it must have infuriated the president that so many thought he had backed down. “Trump lost his first fight with Xi and he will be looked at as a paper tiger,” Shi Yinhong, a professor at Renmin University of China, told The New York Times.

There were other early warning signs of the clashes to come. At his confirmation hearings for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson appeared to draw a new redline in the South China Sea, noting that China’s access to islands there “is not going to be allowed.” Some dismissed the statement as overblown rhetoric, but Beijing did not. The state-run China Daily warned that any attempt to enforce such a policy could lead to a “devastating confrontation,” and the Global Times said it could lead to “large-scale war.”

Then there were the disputes about trade. To head the new White House National Trade Council, Trump nominated Peter Navarro, the author of The Coming China Wars, Death by China, and other provocative books that describe U.S.-Chinese relations in zero-sum terms and argue for increased U.S. tariffs and trade sanctions. Like Bannon, Navarro regularly invoked the specter of military conflict with Beijing, and he argued that tougher economic measures were necessary not only to rectify the U.S.-Chinese trade balance but also to weaken China’s military power, which he claimed would inevitably be used against the United States. The early rhetoric worried many observers, but they took solace in the idea that neither side could afford a confrontation. 

It was the decisions that followed that made war all but inevitable. In June 2017, when North Korea tested yet another long-range missile, which brought it closer to having the ability to strike the United States, Trump demanded that China check its small ally and announced “serious consequences” if it refused. China had no interest in promoting North Korea’s nuclear capacity, but it worried that completely isolating Pyongyang, as Trump was demanding, could cause the regime to collapse—sending millions of poor North Korean refugees streaming into China and leaving behind a united Korea ruled by Seoul, armed with North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and allied with Washington. China agreed to another UN Security Council statement condemning North Korea and extended a suspension of coal imports from the country but refused to take further action. Angry about Trump’s incessant criticism and confrontation over trade, Xi saw the United States as a greater danger to China than North Korea was and said he refused to be bullied by Washington.

At the same time, the U.S. current account deficit with China had swelled, driven in part by the growing U.S. budget deficits that resulted from Trump’s massive tax cuts. That, combined with Chinese intransigence over North Korea, convinced the White House that it was time to get tough. Outside experts, along with Trump’s own secretary of state and secretary of the treasury, cautioned against the risks of a dangerous escalation, but the president dismissed their hand-wringing and said that the days of letting China take advantage of Americans were over. In July, the administration formally branded China a “currency manipulator” (despite evidence that it had actually been spending its currency reserves to uphold the value of the yuan) and imposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports. To the delight of the crowd at a campaign-style rally in Florida, Trump announced that these new measures would remain in place until China boosted the value of its currency, bought more U.S. goods, and imposed tougher sanctions on North Korea. 

The president’s more hawkish advisers assured him that China’s response would prove limited, given its dependence on exports and its massive holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds. But they underestimated the intense nationalism that the U.S. actions had stoked. Xi had to show strength, and he hit back.

All Trump wanted to do was get a better deal from China.

Within days, Xi announced that China was taking the United States to the World Trade Organization over the import tariff (a case he felt certain China would win) and imposed a 45 percent countertariff on U.S. imports. The Chinese believed that the reciprocal tariffs would hurt the United States more than China (since Americans bought far more Chinese goods than the other way around) and knew that the resulting inflation—especially for goods such as clothing, shoes, toys, and electronics—would hurt Trump’s blue-collar constituency. Even more important, they felt they were more willing to make sacrifices than the Americans were.

Xi also instructed China’s central bank to sell $100 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds, a move that immediately drove up U.S. interest rates and knocked 800 points off the Dow Jones industrial average in a single day. That China started using some of the cash resulting from the sales to buy large stakes in major U.S. companies at depressed prices only fueled a nationalist reaction in the United States. Trump tapped into it, calling for a new law to block Chinese investment. 

With personal insults flying back and forth across the Pacific, Trump announced that if China did not start treating the United States fairly, Washington might reconsider the “one China” policy after all. Encouraged by Bannon, who argued privately that it was better to have the inevitable confrontation with China while the United States still enjoyed military superiority, Trump speculated publicly about inviting the president of Taiwan to the White House and selling new antimissile systems and submarines to the island.

China responded that any change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan would be met with an “overwhelming response,” which experts interpreted to mean at a minimum cutting off trade with Taiwan (which sends 30 percent of its exports to China) and at a maximum military strikes against targets on the island. With over one billion Chinese on the mainland passionately committed to the country’s nominal unity, few doubted that Beijing meant what it said. On October 1, China’s normally tepid National Day celebrations turned into a frightening display of anti-Americanism. 

It was in this environment that an incident in the South China Sea led to the escalation so many had feared. The details remain murky, but it was triggered when a U.S. surveillance ship operating in disputed waters in heavy fog accidentally rammed a Chinese trawler that was harassing it. In the confusion that ensued, a People’s Liberation Army Navy frigate fired on the unarmed U.S. ship, a U.S. destroyer sank the Chinese frigate, and a Chinese torpedo struck and badly damaged the destroyer, killing three Americans.

A U.S. aircraft carrier task force is being rushed to the region, and China has deployed additional attack submarines there and begun aggressive overflights and patrols throughout the South China Sea. Tillerson is seeking to reach his Chinese counterpart, but officials in Beijing wonder whether he even speaks for the administration and fear Trump will accept nothing short of victory. Leaked U.S. intelligence estimates suggest that a large-scale conflict could quickly lead to hundreds of thousands of casualties, draw in neighboring states, and destroy trillions of dollars’ worth of economic output. But with nationalism raging in both countries, neither capital sees a way to back down. All Trump wanted to do was get a better deal from China.

Chinese soldiers drive their armoured vehicles to Tiananmen Square as others are shown on a screen during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, in Beijing, China, September 2015.

During the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Beijing, China, September 2015.


It is December 2018, and North Korea has just launched a heavy artillery barrage against targets in Seoul, killing thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands; it is too soon to say. U.S. and South Korean forces—now unified under U.S. command, according to the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty—have fired artillery and rockets at North Korea’s military positions and launched air strikes against its advanced air defense network. From a bunker somewhere near Pyongyang, the country’s erratic dictator, Kim Jong Un, has issued a statement promising to “burn Seoul and Tokyo to the ground”—a reference to North Korea’s stockpile of nuclear and chemical weapons—if the “imperialist” forces do not immediately cease their attacks.

Even Trump’s harshest critics acknowledge that the United States had no good choices in North Korea.

Washington had expected some sort of a North Korean response when it preemptively struck the test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States, fulfilling Trump’s pledge to prevent Pyongyang from acquiring that ability. But few thought North Korea would go so far as to risk its own destruction by attacking South Korea. Now, Trump must decide whether to continue with the war and risk nuclear escalation—or accept what will be seen as a humiliating retreat. Some of his advisers are urging him to quickly finish the job, whereas others warn that doing so would cost the lives of too many of the 28,000 U.S. soldiers stationed on the peninsula, to say nothing of the ten million residents of Seoul. Assembled in the White House Situation Room, Trump and his aides ponder their terrible options.

How did it come to this? Even Trump’s harshest critics acknowledge that the United States had no good choices in North Korea. For more than 20 years, the paranoid, isolated regime in Pyongyang had developed its nuclear and missile capabilities and seemed impervious to incentives and disincentives alike. The so-called Agreed Framework, a 1994 deal to halt North Korea’s nuclear program, fell apart in 2003 when Pyongyang was caught violating it, leading the George W. Bush administration to abandon the deal in favor of tougher sanctions. Multiple rounds of talks since then produced little progress. By 2017, experts estimated that North Korea possessed more than a dozen nuclear warheads and was stockpiling the material for more. They also thought North Korea had missiles capable of delivering those warheads to targets throughout Asia and was testing missiles that could give it the capacity to strike the West Coast of the United States by 2023.

Early in the administration, numerous outside experts and former senior officials urged Trump to make North Korea a top priority. Accepting that total dismantlement of the country’s nuclear and missile programs was not a realistic nearterm goal, most called for negotiations that would offer a package of economic incentives and security assurances in exchange for a halt to further testing and development. A critical component, they argued, would be outreach to China, the only country that might be able to influence North Korea.

But the administration preferred a more confrontational approach. Even before Trump took office, when Kim blustered about developing the capacity to strike the United States with a nuclear weapon, Trump responded on Twitter: “It won’t happen!” On February 12, 2017, North Korea fired a test missile 310 miles into the Sea of Japan at the very moment Trump was meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago estate, in Florida. The next morning, Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, announced that the United States would soon be sending a signal to North Korea in the form of a major military buildup that would show “unquestioned military strength beyond anything anyone can imagine.” Later that month, Trump announced plans for a $54 billion increase in U.S. defense spending for 2018, with corresponding cuts in the budget for diplomacy. And in March 2017, Tillerson traveled to Asia and declared that “the political and diplomatic efforts of the past 20 years” had failed and that a “new approach” was needed.

In the ensuing months, critics urged the administration to accompany its military buildup with regional diplomacy, but Trump chose otherwise. He made clear that U.S. foreign policy had changed. Unlike what his predecessor had done with Iran, he said, he was not going to reward bad behavior. Instead, the administration announced in the summer of 2018 that North Korea was “officially on notice.” Although the White House agreed with critics that the best way to pressure North Korea was through China, it proved impossible to cooperate with Beijing while erecting tariffs and attacking it for “raping” the United States economically.

Thus did the problem grow during the administration’s first two years. North Korea continued to test missiles and develop fissile material. It occasionally incited South Korea, launching shells across the demilitarized zone and provoking some near misses at sea. The war of words between Pyongyang and Washington also escalated—advisers could not get the president to bite his tongue in response to Kim’s outrageous taunts—and Trump repeated in even more colorful language his Twitter warning that he would not allow Pyongyang to test a nuclear-capable missile that could reach the United States.

When the intelligence community picked up signs that Pyongyang was about to do so, the National Security Council met, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff briefed the president on his options. He could try to shoot down the test missile in flight, but shooting carried a high risk of missing, and even a successful intercept might provoke a military response. He could do nothing, but that would mean losing face and emboldening North Korea. Or he could destroy the test missile on its launch pad with a barrage of cruise missiles, blocking Pyongyang’s path to a nuclear deterrent, enforcing his redline, and sending a clear message to the rest of the world. Sources present at the meeting reported that when the president chose the third option, he said, “We have to start winning wars again.”


These frightening futures are far from inevitable. Indeed, for all the early bluster and promises of a dramatic break with the past, U.S. foreign policy may well turn out to be not as revolutionary or reckless as many fear. Trump has already demonstrated his ability to reverse course without compunction on a multitude of issues, from abortion to the Iraq war, and sound advice from some of his more seasoned advisers could moderate his potential for rash behavior. 

On the other hand, given what we have seen so far of the president’s temperament, decision-making style, and foreign policy, these visions of what might lie ahead are hardly implausible: foreign policy disasters do happen. Imagine if a ghost from the future could have given world leaders in 1914 a glimpse of the cataclysm their policies would produce. Or if in 1965, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson could have seen what escalation in Vietnam would lead to a decade later. Or if in 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush could have been shown a preview of the results of the invasion of Iraq. In each case, unwise decisions, a flawed process, and wishful thinking did lead to a catastrophe that could have been, and often was, predicted in advance. 

Maybe Trump is right that a massive military buildup, a reputation for unpredictability, a high-stakes negotiating style, and a refusal to compromise will convince other countries to make concessions that will make America safe, prosperous, and great again. But then again, maybe he’s wrong.


………that’ll scare the pants off some folks…..or not…………………………………………..


…..baffled ben carson says…. people pushed out of windows….. get unique opportunity to fly through air……





By Andy Borowitz March 7, 2017

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told reporters that people who are pushed out of windows are “extremely lucky” because they get “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly through the air.”

“Ever since the dawn of civilization, mankind has been enchanted by the dream of flight,” Carson said. “People who get pushed out of windows get to realize that cherished dream.”

“That’s what makes America a great country,” he continued. “People are pushed out of windows every day here.”

Carson said that, while he had never personally been pushed out of a window, “it’s on my bucket list.”

On a subject more pertinent to his new job at hud, Carson said that people without housing “enjoy the rare satisfaction you can only experience by building your own dwelling out of cardboard.”
Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report for newyorker.com.


……thanks and you’re welcome Andy…

……number 1: don’t be discouraged or intimidated…….

….“I’m worried — based on early indications — that we can be in for a major shift in the culture around science and technology and its eminence in government.” ……


BOSTON — If there’s a subtext to this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest gathering of scientists of the year, it’s anxiety for the future.

John Holdren, the top science adviser to President Barack Obama, who spoke at the conference, summed it up like this:

“I’m worried — based on early indications — that we can be in for a major shift in the culture around science and technology and its eminence in government. We appear to have a president now that resists facts that do not comport to his preferences. And that bodes ill on the Obama administration’s emphases on scientific integrity, transparency, and public access.”

Donald Trump has yet to select people for several top science jobs in the administration — such as NASA administrator, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and director of the National Institutes of Health.

But with the appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, he’s signaled that his administration will be making big changes to environmental regulation. One of the first bills he signed as president killed an Obama-era rule that made it harder for coal companies to dump waste in streams.

One of the names floated for Trump’s science adviser is Will Happer, a former Princeton physics professor who recently told ProPublica the science on global warming was “very, very shaky.” I asked Holdren if a science adviser whose opinions conflict with the scientific consensus on climate change is better than none at all. “Absolutely,” he told me. “Because somebody who knows about some domains of science and values science would still offer advice on those topics.”

“Happer is a distinguished physicist,” Holdren says. “He has views that I think are wildly wrong on climate change and immigration. And he’s not particularly diplomatic. But it would still be beneficial to have someone like Happer whispering in the president’s ear on the importance of basic research. …”

In the meantime, Holdren offered five points of advice for the hundreds of scientists assembled:

Number 1: Don’t be discouraged or intimidated.

Two: Keep doing your science … don’t change what you do or how you think about what you do or its importance.

Three: Besides your own science, become more broadly informed about science and scientific issues.

Four: Tithe at least 10 percent of your time to public service … including activism.

And last: We as a community need to think carefully about how to focus and utilize our activities to try to insure the continuation, momentum, and the integrity of science in this new era.
Scientists are becoming more politically engaged in the Trump era, and it shows here at AAAS. Later in the day, Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes got a standing ovation after speaking on how scientists can — and should — be “sentinels” for the public, and shouldn’t fear a loss of credibility for getting more politically engaged.

Soon, Congress and the president will be making another set of decisions that are worrying for scientists — the 2018 fiscal year budget. Republicans want to cut taxes while possibly expanding defense and infrastructure spending. That is costly, and it may mean cutting back on discretionary spending, including scientific research and development.

Science funding often enjoys bipartisan consensus. But in this unsure era, researchers are extra anxious to make their voices heard.


…..thanks and you’re welcome VOX….








…..Press Says Transcript of Trump’s ABC Interview is ‘Bonkers’ and ‘F*cking Nuts…..

rumps-oval-office-interview-jan-17…..Swiped from Politicususa…….thanks and you’re welcome………


Press Says Transcript of Trump’s ABC Interview is ‘Bonkers’ and ‘F*cking Nuts’
By Hrafnkell Haraldsson on Thu, Jan 26th, 2017 at 8:57 am
“This was the stuff that it took Manafort team months to essentially duct-tape him from saying (violating int’l law)”

ABC News made quite a scoop last night when they scored a lie-filled one-on-one interview with Donald Trump in the White House. Trump was at his best, which means his worst, and the entire interview has to be seen to be believed.

If you – like many of us – can’t stand listening to Trump’s voice as he trolls the world with lies, you can always read the transcript to find gems like our earlier report on Trump’s lies about his wall, or this attack on the interviewer’s network:

The entire transcript can be viewed here. It makes good reading. By good, I mean illuminating. That doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying. And “Read the whole thing before he has it taken down,” warns writer/producer Amy Berg.

The Washington Post‘s Senior Politics Editor Steven Ginsberg says, “The Muir-Trump transcript is a must read,” and it is for any American concerned about a Trump presidency.

Keep in mind, this is a president who, as Trump’s Toronto Star fact checker Daniel Dale put it, believes “people who think plunder is illegal are ‘fools.’” It is statements like this that led Dale to tweet:
Here is another example:
At one point, Trump denied that he ever said there were millions of illegal voters. This prompted Muir to read the tweet in which Trump did say exactly that. Trump’s response was to ignore the facts. The response of Trumpists was to decry Muir as “anti-Trump.”

DAVID MUIR: … those people who are on the rolls voted, that there are millions of illegal votes?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I didn’t say there are millions. But I think there could very well be millions of people. That’s right.

DAVID MUIR: You tweeted though …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: And I also say this …

DAVID MUIR: … you tweeted, “If you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally, I won the popular vote.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP: David, and I also say this, if I was going for the popular vote I would’ve won easily. But I would’ve been in California and New York. I wouldn’t have been in Maine. I wouldn’t have been in Iowa. I wouldn’t have been in Nebraska and all of those states that I had to win in order to win this. I would’ve been in New York, I would’ve been in California. I never even went there. You know, because facts.

The New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman was equally aghast:
Author and screenwriter JoJo Moyes tweeted, “Transcript of Trump’s interview last night. If I wrote this as fiction, my editor would send it back as unbelievable.”

As noted earlier, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler said, “This interview is so filled with inaccurate and misleading statements by Trump I don’t even know where to begin.” But then we shouldn’t expect anything less.

It is difficult not to see this granting of an interview with ABC News rather than Fox as a trial run of sorts, to see if ABC News would toe the line. In that, we have to suspect they failed, as Muir repeatedly brought Trump face to face with his own words and Trump repeatedly attacked the press and ABC News specifically.

Alternately, the interview may have been designed to make an object lesson of dissenters among the press, to show them exactly the kind of treatment they can expect for not repeating Trump’s lies without question.

One suspects either way that next time, a more congenial and propaganda-friendly Trump apologist, Bill O’Reilly of the new state TV Fox News, will get the nod.


On Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, ABC News “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir interviewed President Donald Trump in the White House. The following is a transcript of the interview:

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, it’s an honor to be here at the White House.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, David.

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you, has the magnitude of this job hit you yet?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It has periodically hit me. And it is a tremendous magnitude. And where you really see it is when you’re talking to the generals about problems in the world. And we do have problems in the world. Big problems. The business also hits because the — the size of it. The size.

I was with the Ford yesterday. And with General Motors yesterday. The top representatives, great people. And they’re gonna do some tremendous work in the United States. They’re gonna build plants back in the United States. But when you see the size, even as a businessman, the size of the investment that these big companies are gonna make, it hits you even in that regard. But we’re gonna bring jobs back to America, like I promised on the campaign trail.

DAVID MUIR: And we’re gonna get to it all right here.


DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I want to start — we’re five days in. And your campaign promises. I know today you plan on signing the order to build the wall.


DAVID MUIR: Are you going to direct U.S. funds to pay for this wall? Will American taxpayers pay for the wall?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Ultimately it’ll come out of what’s happening with Mexico. We’re gonna be starting those negotiations relatively soon. And we will be in a form reimbursed by Mexico which I will say …

DAVID MUIR: So, they’ll pay us back?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, absolutely, 100 percent.

DAVID MUIR: So, the American taxpayer will pay for the wall at first?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: All it is, is we’ll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico. Now, I could wait a year and I could hold off the wall. But I wanna build the wall. We have to build the wall. We have to stop drugs from pouring in. We have to stop people from just pouring into our country. We have no idea where they’re from. And I campaigned on the wall. And it’s very important. But that wall will cost us nothing.

DAVID MUIR: But you talked — often about Mexico paying for the wall. And you, again, say they’ll pay us back. Mexico’s president said in recent days that Mexico absolutely will not pay, adding that, “It goes against our dignity as a country and our dignity as Mexicans.” He says …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: David, he has to say that. He has to say that. But I’m just telling you there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand what I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico.

We wanna have a very stable, very solid Mexico. Even more solid than it is right now. And they need it also. Lots of things are coming across Mexico that they don’t want. I think it’s going to be a good thing for both countries. And I think the relationship will be better than ever before.

You know, when we had a prisoner in Mexico, as you know, two years ago, that we were trying to get out. And Mexico was not helping us, I will tell you, those days are over. I think we’re gonna end up with a much better relationship with Mexico. We will have the wall and in a very serious form Mexico will pay for the wall.

DAVID MUIR: What are you gonna say to some of your supporters who might say, “Wait a minute, I thought Mexico was going to pay for this right at the start.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’d say very simply that they are going to pay for it. I never said they’re gonna pay from the start. I said Mexico will pay for the wall. But what I will tell my supporters is, “Would you like me to wait two years or three years before I make this deal?” Because we have to make a deal on NAFTA. We have to make a new trade deal with Mexico because we’re getting clobbered.

We have a $60-billion trade deficit. So, if you want, I can wait two years and then we can do it nice and easily. I wanna start the wall immediately. Every supporter I have — I have had so many people calling and tweeting and — and writing letters saying they’re so happy about it. I wanna start the wall. We will be reimbursed for the wall.

DAVID MUIR: When does construction begin?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: As soon as we can. As soon as we can physically do it. We’re …

DAVID MUIR: Within months?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I would say in months. Yeah, I would say in months. Certainly planning is starting immediately.

DAVID MUIR: People feel …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’ll be having some really good, really solid plans within a short period of time.

DAVID MUIR: When people learn of the news of this wall today there are gonna be a lot of people listening to this. And I wanna ask about undocumented immigrants who are here — in this country. Right now they’re protected as so-called dreamers — the children who were brought here, as you know, by their parents. Should they be worried — that they could be deported? And is there anything you can say to assure them right now that they’ll be allowed to stay?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: They shouldn’t be very worried. They are here illegally. They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody. We’re going to have a very strong border. We’re gonna have a very solid border. Where you have great people that are here that have done a good job, they should be far less worried. We’ll be coming out with policy on that over the next period of four weeks.

DAVID MUIR: But Mr. President, will they be allowed to stay?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m gonna tell you over the next four weeks. But I will tell you, we’re looking at this, the whole immigration situation, we’re looking at it with great heart. Now we have criminals that are here. We have really bad people that are here. Those people have to be worried ’cause they’re getting out. We’re gonna get them out. We’re gonna get ’em out fast. General Kelly is — I’ve given that as his number one priority.

DAVID MUIR: Senator Jeff Sessions, your pick for attorney general, as you know during his confirmation hearing said that ending DACA, this is President Obama’s policy protecting the dreamers — that, “Ending it certainly would be constitutional.” That you could end the protection of these dreamers. Is that a possibility?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re gonna be talking with — attorney general. He will soon be the attorney general. He’s done fantastically well. We’re all very proud of him. I thought he was treated very, very unfairly. He’s a brilliant man and he’s a very good man. He’ll do a fantastic job. I’ll be speaking to him as soon as he’s affirmed.

DAVID MUIR: So, it’s a possibility.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We will be talking to the attorney general.

DAVID MUIR: I wanna ask you about something you said this week right here at the White House. You brought in congressional leaders to the White House. You spoke at length about the presidential election with them — telling them that you lost the popular vote because of millions of illegal votes, 3 to 5 million illegal votes. That would be the biggest electoral fraud in American history. Where is the evidence of that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So, let me tell you first of all, it was so misrepresented. That was supposed to be a confidential meeting. And you weren’t supposed to go out and talk to the press as soon as you — but the Democrats viewed it not as a confidential meeting.

DAVID MUIR: But you have tweeted …


DAVID MUIR: … about the millions of illegals …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure. And I do — and I’m very …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: … and I mean it. But just so you — it was supposed to be a confidential meeting. They turned it into not a con… Number two, the conversation lasted for about a minute. They made it — somebody said it was, like, 25 percent of the … It wasn’t. It was hardly even discussed.

I said it. And I said it strongly because what’s going on with voter fraud is horrible. That’s number one. Number two, I would’ve won the popular vote if I was campaigning for the popular vote. I would’ve gone to California where I didn’t go at all. I would’ve gone to New York where I didn’t campaign at all.

I would’ve gone to a couple of places that I didn’t go to. And I would’ve won that much easier than winning the electoral college. But as you know, the electoral college is all that matters. It doesn’t make any difference. So, I would’ve won very, very easily. But it’s a different form of winning. You would campaign much differently. You would have a totally different campaign. So, but …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: … you’re just asking a question. I would’ve easily won the popular vote, much easier, in my opinion, than winning the electoral college. I ended up going to 19 different states. I went to the state of Maine four times for one. I needed one.

I went to M– I got it, by the way. But it turned out I didn’t need it because we ended up winning by a massive amount, 306. I needed 270. We got 306. You and everybody said, “There’s no way you get to 270.” I mean, your network said and almost everybody said, “There’s no way you can get to …” So, I went to Maine four times. I went to various places. And that’s the beauty of the electoral college. With that being said, if you look at voter registration, you look at the dead people that are registered to vote who vote, you look at people that are registered in two states, you look at all of these different things that are happening with registration. You take a look at those registration for — you’re gonna s– find — and we’re gonna do an investigation on it.

DAVID MUIR: But 3 to 5 million illegal votes?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re gonna find out. But it could very well be that much. Absolutely.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: But we’re gonna find out.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: In fact, I heard one of the other side, they were saying it’s not 3 to 5. It’s not 3 to 5. I said, “Well, Mr. Trump is talking about registration, tell–” He said, “You know we don’t wanna talk about registration.” They don’t wanna talk about registration.

You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes, in my opinion. Now …

DAVID MUIR: But again …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m doing an …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: … investigation. David, David, David …

DAVID MUIR: You’re now, you’re now president of the United States when you say …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Of course, and I want the voting process to be legitimate.

DAVID MUIR: But what I’m asking …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The people that …

DAVID MUIR: … what I’m asking that — when you say in your opinion millions of illegal votes, that is something that is extremely fundamental to our functioning democracy, a fair and free election.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure. Sure. Sure.

DAVID MUIR: You say you’re gonna launch an investigation.


DAVID MUIR: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It’s been called …


DAVID MUIR: … false.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, it hasn’t. Take a look at the Pew reports.

DAVID MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter …


DAVID MUIR: … fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?

DAVID MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: According to Pew report, then he’s — then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.

DAVID MUIR: So, you’ve launched an investigation?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re gonna launch an investigation to find out. And then the next time — and I will say this, of those votes cast, none of ’em come to me. None of ’em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of ’em come to me. But when you look at the people that are registered: dead, illegal and two states and some cases maybe three states — we have a lot to look into.

DAVID MUIR: House Speaker Paul Ryan has said, “I have seen no evidence. I have made this very, very clear.” Senator Lindsey Graham saying, “It’s the most inappropriate thing for a president to say without proof. He seems obsessed with the idea that he could not have possibly lost the popular vote without cheating and fraud.” I wanna ask you about something bigger here. Does it matter more now …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There’s nothing bigger. There’s nothing bigger.

DAVID MUIR: But it is important because …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you know what’s important, millions of people agree with me when I say that if you would’ve looked on one of the other networks and all of the people that were calling in they’re saying, “We agree with Mr. Trump. We agree.” They’re very smart people.

The people that voted for me — lots of people are saying they saw things happen. I heard stories also. But you’re not talking about millions. But it’s a small little segment. I will tell you, it’s a good thing that we’re doing because at the end we’re gonna have an idea as to what’s going on. Now, you’re telling me Pew report has all of a sudden changed. But you have other reports and you have other statements. You take a look at the registrations, how many dead people are there? Take a look at the registrations as to the other things that I already presented.

DAVID MUIR: And you’re saying …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: And you’re gonna find …

DAVID MUIR: … those people who are on the rolls voted, that there are millions of illegal votes?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I didn’t say there are millions. But I think there could very well be millions of people. That’s right.

DAVID MUIR: You tweeted though …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: And I also say this …

DAVID MUIR: … you tweeted, “If you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally, I won the popular vote.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP: David, and I also say this, if I was going for the popular vote I would’ve won easily. But I would’ve been in California and New York. I wouldn’t have been in Maine. I wouldn’t have been in Iowa. I wouldn’t have been in Nebraska and all of those states that I had to win in order to win this. I would’ve been in New York, I would’ve been in California. I never even went there.

DAVID MUIR: Let me just ask you, you did win. You’re the president. You’re sitting …


DAVID MUIR: … across from me right now.


DAVID MUIR: Do you think that your words matter more now?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, very much.

DAVID MUIR: Do you think that that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous to this country without presenting the evidence?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Not at all because many people feel the same way that I do. And …

DAVID MUIR: You don’t think it undermines your credibility if there’s no evidence?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all because they didn’t come to me. Believe me. Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me. I don’t believe I got one. Okay, these are people that voted for Hillary Clinton. And if they didn’t vote, it would’ve been different in the popular.

Now, you have to understand I — I focused on those four or five states that I had to win. Maybe she didn’t. She should’ve gone to Michigan. She thought she had it in the bag. She should’ve gone to Wisconsin, she thought she had it because you’re talking about 38 years of, you know, Democrat wins. But they didn’t. I went to Michigan, I went to Wisconsin. I went to Pennsylvania all the time. I went to all of the states that are — Florida and North Carolina. That’s all I focused on.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, it does strike me though that we’re relitigating the presidential campaign, the election …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, no. We’re looking at it for the next time. No, no, you have to understand, I had a tremendous victory, one of the great victories ever. In terms of counties I think the most ever or just about the most ever. When you look at a map it’s all red. Red meaning us, Republicans.

One of the greatest victories ever. But, again, I ran for the electoral college. I didn’t run for the popular vote. What I’m saying is if there are these problems that many people agree with me that there might be. Look, Barack Obama — if you look back — eight years ago when he first ran — he was running for office in Chicago for we needed Chicago vote.

And he was laughing at the system because he knew all of those votes were going to him. You look at Philadelphia, you look at what’s going on in Philadelphia. But take a look at the tape of Barack Obama who wrote me, by the way, a very beautiful letter in the drawer of the desk. Very beautiful. And I appreciate it. But look at what he said, it’s on tape. Look at what he said about voting in Chicago eight years ago. It’s not changed. It hasn’t changed, believe me. Chicago, look what’s going on in Chicago. It’s only gotten worse.

But he was smiling and laughing about the vote in Chicago. Now, once he became president he didn’t do that. All of a sudden it became this is the foundation of our country. So, here’s the point, you have a lot of stuff going on possibly. I say probably. But possibly. We’re gonna get to the bottom of it.

And then we’re gonna make sure it doesn’t happen again. If people are registered wrongly, if illegals are registered to vote, which they are, if dead people are registered to vote and voting, which they do. There are some. I don’t know how many. We’re gonna try finding that out and the other categories that we talk about, double states where they’re — registered in two states, we’re gonna get to the bottom of it because we have to stop it. Because I agree, so important. But the other side is trying to downplay this. Now, I’ll say this — I think that if that didn’t happen, first of all, would — would be a great thing if it didn’t happen. But I believe it did happen. And I believe a part of the vote would’ve been much different.

DAVID MUIR: And you believe millions of illegal votes …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re gonna find out.

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you this …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re gonna find out. And — and, by the way, when I say you’re gonna find out. You can never really find, you know, there are gonna be — no matter what numbers we come up with there are gonna be lots of people that did things that we’re not going to find out about. But we will find out because we need a better system where that can’t happen.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I just have one more question on this. And it’s — it’s bigger picture. You took some heat after your visit to the CIA in front of that hallowed wall, 117 stars — of those lost at the CIA. You talked about other things. But you also talked about crowd size at the inauguration, about the size of your rallies, about covers on Time magazine. And I just wanna ask you when does all of that matter just a little less? When do you let it roll off your back now that you’re the president?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: OK, so I’m glad you asked. So, I went to the CIA, my first step. I have great respect for the people in intelligence and CIA. I’m — I don’t have a lot of respect for, in particular one of the leaders. But that’s okay. But I have a lot of respect for the people in the CIA.

That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking Sean — “Well, were they Trump people that were put–” we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.

That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take — take out your tape — you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. I could’ve …



DAVID MUIR: You would give the same speech if you went back …


DAVID MUIR: … in front of that wall?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won’t put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.

That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did. The people of the CIA loved the speech. If I was going to take a vote in that room, there were, like, 300, 350 people, over 1,000 wanted to be there but they couldn’t. They were all CIA people. I would say I would’ve gotten 350 to nothing in that room. That’s what the vote would’ve been. That speech was a big hit, a big success — success. And then I came back and I watched you on television and a couple of others.

DAVID MUIR: Not me personally.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: And they tried to demean. Excuse me?

DAVID MUIR: Not me personally.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Not you personally but your network — and they tried to demean the speech. And I know when things are good or bad. A poll just came out on my inauguration speech which was extraordinary that people loved it. Loved and liked. And it was an extraordinary poll.

DAVID MUIR: I guess that’s what I’m getting at. You talked about the poll, the people loving your inaugural speech and the size of your …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, because you bring it up.

DAVID MUIR: I’m asking, well, on day one you …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you just brought it up. I didn’t bring it up. I didn’t wanna — talk about the inauguration speech. But I think I did a very good job and people really liked it. You saw the poll. Just came out this morning. You bring it up. I didn’t bring it up.

DAVID MUIR: So, polls and crowd size and covers on Time, those still matter now that you’re here as president.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you keep bringing it up. I had a massive amount of people here. They were showing pictures that were very unflattering, as unflattering — from certain angles — that were taken early and lots of other things. I’ll show you a picture later if you’d like of a massive crowd.

In terms of a total audience including television and everything else that you have we had supposedly the biggest crowd in history. The audience watching the show. And I think you would even agree to that. They say I had the biggest crowd in the history of inaugural speeches. I’m honored by that. But I didn’t bring it up. You just brought it up.

DAVID MUIR: See, I — I’m not interested in the inaugural crowd size. I think the American people can look at images side by side and decide for themselves. I am curious about the first full day here at the White House, choosing to send the press secretary out into the briefing room, summoning reporters to talk about the inaugural crowd size. Does that send a message to the American people that that’s — that’s more important than some of the very pressing issues?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Part of my whole victory was that the men and women of this country who have been forgotten will never be forgotten again. Part of that is when they try and demean me unfairly ’cause we had a massive crowd of people. We had a crowd — I looked over that sea of people and I said to myself, “Wow.”

And I’ve seen crowds before. Big, big crowds. That was some crowd. When I looked at the numbers that happened to come in from all of the various sources, we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches. I said the men and women that I was talking to who came out and voted will never be forgotten again. Therefore I won’t allow you or other people like you to demean that crowd and to demean the people that came to Washington, D.C., from faraway places because they like me. But more importantly they like what I’m saying.

DAVID MUIR: I just wanna say I didn’t demean anyone who was in that crowd. We did coverage for hours …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I think you’re demeaning by talking the way you’re talking. I think you’re demeaning. And that’s why I think a lot of people turned on you and turned on a lot of other people. And that’s why you have a 17 percent approval rating, which is pretty bad.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. Trump, let’s talk about many of the things that have happened this week. Chicago. Last night you tweeted about the murder rate in Chicago saying, “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible carnage going on I will send in the feds.”


DAVID MUIR: You will send in the feds? What do you mean by that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s carnage. You know, in my speech I got tremendous — from certain people the word carnage. It is carnage. It’s horrible carnage. This is Afghanistan — is not like what’s happening in Chicago. People are being shot left and right. Thousands of people over a period — over a short period of time.

This year, which has just started, is worse than last year, which was a catastrophe. They’re not doing the job. Now if they want help, I would love to help them. I will send in what we have to send in. Maybe they’re not gonna have to be so politically correct. Maybe they’re being overly political correct. Maybe there’s something going on. But you can’t have those killings going on in Chicago. Chicago is like a war zone. Chicago is worse than some of the people that you report in some of the places that you report about every night …

DAVID MUIR: So, I will send …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: … in the Middle East.

DAVID MUIR: … you mentioned federal assistance. There’s federal assistance and then there’s sending in the feds. I’m just curious would you take action on your own?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want them to fix the problem. You can’t have thousands of people being shot in a city, in a country that I happen to be president of. Maybe it’s okay if somebody else is president. I want them to fix the problem. They have a problem that’s very easily fixable.

They’re gonna have to get tougher and stronger and smarter. But they gotta fix the problem. I don’t want to have thousands of people shot in a city where essentially I’m the president. I love Chicago. I know Chicago. And Chicago is a great city, can be a great city.

DAVID MUIR: And if they’re unable to fix it?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: It can’t be a great city. Excuse me. It can’t be a great city if people are shot walking down the street for a loaf of bread. Can’t be a great city.

DAVID MUIR: And if they are unable to fix it, that’s when you would send in the feds?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, so far they have been unable. It’s been going on for years. And I wasn’t president. So, look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can’t have that.

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: They weren’t shot at the speech. But they were shot in the city of Chicago during his speech. What — what’s going on? So, all I’m saying is to the mayor who came up to my office recently — I say, “You have to smarten up and you have to toughen up because you can’t let that happen. That’s a war zone.”

DAVID MUIR: So, this is an “or else.” This is a warning?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want them to straighten out the problem. It’s a big problem.

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you about a new report that you were poised to lift a ban on so-called CIA black sites of prisons around the world that have been used in the past. Is that true?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’ll be talking about that in about two hours. So, you’ll be there and you’ll be able to see it for yourself.

DAVID MUIR: Are you gonna lift the ban?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You’re gonna see in about two hours.

DAVID MUIR: The last president, President Obama, said the U.S. does not torture. Will you say that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I have a general who I have great respect for, General Mattis, who said — I was a little surprised — who said he’s not a believer in torture. As you know, Mr. Pompeo was just approved, affirmed by the Senate. He’s a fantastic guy, he’s gonna be the head of the CIA.

And you have somebody fabulous as opposed to the character that just got out who didn’t — was not fabulous at all. And he will I think do a great job. And he is — you know, I haven’t gone into great detail. But I will tell you I have spoken to others in intelligence. And they are big believers in, as an example, waterboarding.

DAVID MUIR: You did tell me …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Because they say it does work. It does work.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, you …


DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, you told me during one of the debates that you would bring back waterboarding and a hell of a lot worse.



PRESIDENT TRUMP: I would do — I wanna keep our country safe. I wanna keep our country safe.

DAVID MUIR: What does that mean?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: When they’re shooting — when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when ISIS is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?

As far as I’m concerned we have to fight fire with fire. Now, with that being said I’m going with General Mattis. I’m going with my secretary because I think Pompeo’s gonna be phenomenal. I’m gonna go with what they say. But I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence. And I asked them the question, “Does it work? Does torture work?” And the answer was, “Yes, absolutely.”

DAVID MUIR: You’re now the president. Do you want waterboarding?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t want people to chop off the citizens or anybody’s heads in the Middle East. Okay? Because they’re Christian or Muslim or anything else. I don’t want — look, you are old enough to have seen a time that was much different. You never saw heads chopped off until a few years ago.

Now they chop ’em off and they put ’em on camera and they send ’em all over the world. So we have that and we’re not allowed to do anything. We’re not playing on an even field. I will say this, I will rely on Pompeo and Mattis and my group. And if they don’t wanna do, that’s fine. If they do wanna do, then I will work for that end.

I wanna do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally. But do I feel it works? Absolutely I feel it works. Have I spoken to people at the top levels and people that have seen it work? I haven’t seen it work. But I think it works. Have I spoken to people that feel strongly about it? Absolutely.

DAVID MUIR: So, you’d be okay with it as …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I wanna keep …

DAVID MUIR: … president?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: … no, I wanna — I will rely on General Mattis. And I’m gonna rely on those two people and others. And if they don’t wanna do it, it’s 100 percent okay with me. Do I think it works? Absolutely.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I wanna ask you about refugees. You’re about to sign a sweeping executive action to suspend immigration to this country.


DAVID MUIR: Who are we talking about? Is this the Muslim ban?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re talking about — no it’s not the Muslim ban. But it’s countries that have tremendous terror. It’s countries that we’re going to be spelling out in a little while in the same speech. And it’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems. Our country has enough problems without allowing people to come in who, in many cases or in some cases, are looking to do tremendous destruction.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: You look at what’s happening …

DAVID MUIR: Which countries are we talking about?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: … you’ll be hearing about it in two hours because I have a whole list. You’ll be very thrilled. You’re looking at people that come in, in many cases, in some cases with evil intentions. I don’t want that. They’re ISIS. They’re coming under false pretense. I don’t want that.

I’m gonna be the president of a safe country. We have enough problems. Now I’ll absolutely do safe zones in Syria for the people. I think that Europe has made a tremendous mistake by allowing these millions of people to go into Germany and various other countries. And all you have to do is take a look. It’s — it’s a disaster what’s happening over there.

I don’t want that to happen here. Now with that being said, President Obama and Hillary Clinton have, and Kerry have allowed tens of thousands of people into our country. The FBI is now investigating more people than ever before having to do with terror. They — and it’s from the group of people that came in. So look, look, our country has a lot of problems. Believe me. I know what the problems are even better than you do. They’re deep problems, they’re serious problems. We don’t need more.

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you about some of the countries that won’t be on the list, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. Why are we going to allow people to come into this country …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You’re going to see — you’re going to see. We’re going to have extreme vetting in all cases. And I mean extreme. And we’re not letting people in if we think there’s even a little chance of some problem.

DAVID MUIR: Are you at all …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: We are excluding certain countries. But for other countries we’re gonna have extreme vetting. It’s going to be very hard to come in. Right now it’s very easy to come in. It’s gonna be very, very hard. I don’t want terror in this country. You look at what happened in San Bernardino. You look at what happened all over. You look at what happened in the World Trade Center. Okay, I mean, take that as an example.

DAVID MUIR: Are you at all …


DAVID MUIR: … concerned — are you at all concerned it’s going to cause more anger among Muslims …


DAVID MUIR: … the world?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There’s plenty of anger right now. How can you have more?

DAVID MUIR: You don’t think it’ll …


DAVID MUIR: … exacerbate the problem?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: … David, I mean, I know you’re a sophisticated guy. The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What? You think this is gonna cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place. All of this has happened. We went into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gotten out the way we got out.

The world is a total mess. Take a look at what’s happening with Aleppo. Take a look what’s happening in Mosul. Take a look what’s going on in the Middle East. And people are fleeing and they’re going into Europe and all over the place. The world is a mess, David.

DAVID MUIR: You brought up Iraq and something you said that could affect American troops in recent days. You said, “We should’ve kept the oil but okay maybe we’ll have another chance.” What did you mean by that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we should’ve kept the oil when we got out. And, you know, it’s very interesting, had we taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS because they fuel themselves with the oil. That’s where they got the money. They got the money from leaving — when we left, we left Iraq, which wasn’t a government. It’s not a government now.

And by the way, and I said something else, if we go in and do this. You have two nations, Iraq and Iran. And they were essentially the same military strength. And they’d fight for decades and decades. They’d fight forever. And they’d keep fighting and it would go — it was just a way of life. We got in, we decapitated one of those nations, Iraq. I said, “Iran is taking over Iraq.” That’s essentially what happened.

DAVID MUIR: So, you believe we can go in and take the oil.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We should have taken the oil. You wouldn’t have ISIS if we took the oil. Now I wasn’t talking about it from the standpoint of ISIS because the way we got out was horrible. We created a vacuum and ISIS formed. But had we taken the oil something else would’ve very good happened. They would not have been able to fuel their rather unbelievable drive to destroy large portions of the world.

DAVID MUIR: You’ve heard the critics who say that would break all international law, taking the oil. But I wanna get to the words …


DAVID MUIR: … that you …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Wait, wait, can you believe that? Who are the critics who say that? Fools.

DAVID MUIR: Let, let me …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t call them critics. I call them fools.

DAVID MUIR: … let me talk about your words …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We should’ve kept — excuse me. We should’ve taken the oil. And if we took the oil you wouldn’t have ISIS. And we would have had wealth. We have spent right now $6 trillion in the Middle East. And our country is falling apart.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Our roads — excuse me. Our roads, our bridges, our schools, it’s falling apart. We have spent as of one month ago $6 trillion in the Middle East. And in our country we can’t afford to build a school in Brooklyn or we can’t afford to build a school in Los Angeles. And we can’t afford to fix up our inner cities. We can’t afford to do anything. Look, it’s time. It’s been our longest war. We’ve been in there for 15, 16 years. Nobody even knows what the date is because they don’t really know when did we start. But it’s time. It’s time.

DAVID MUIR: What got my attention, Mr. President, was when you said, “Maybe we’ll have another chance.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, don’t let it get your attention too much because we’ll see what happens. I mean, we’re gonna see what happens. You know, I told you and I told everybody else that wants to talk when it comes to the military I don’t wanna discuss things.

I wanna let — I wanna let the action take place before the talk takes place. I watched in Mosul when a number of months ago generals and politicians would get up and say, “We’re going into Mosul in four months.” Then they’d say, “We’re going in in three months, two months, one month. We’re going in next week.”

Okay, and I kept saying to myself, “Gee, why do they have to keep talking about going in?” All right, so now they go in and it is tough because they’re giving the enemy all this time to prepare. I don’t wanna do a lot of talking on the military. I wanna talk after it’s finished, not before it starts.

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you, Mr. President, about another promise involving Obamacare to repeal it. And you told The Washington Post that your plan to replace Obamacare will include insurance for everybody. That sounds an awful lot like universal coverage.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s going to be — what my plan is is that I wanna take care of everybody. I’m not gonna leave the lower 20 percent that can’t afford insurance. Just so you understand people talk about Obamacare. And I told the Republicans this, the best thing we could do is nothing for two years, let it explode. And then we’ll go in and we’ll do a new plan and — and the Democrats will vote for it. Believe me.

Because this year you’ll have 150 percent increases. Last year in Arizona 116 perecent increase, Minnesota 60 some-odd percent increase. And I told them, except for one problem, I wanna get it fixed. The best thing I could do as the leader of this country– but as wanting to get something approved with support of the Democrats, if I didn’t do anything for two years they’d be begging me to do something. But I don’t wanna do that. So just so you unders– Obamacare is a disaster.

It’s too expensive. It’s horrible health care. It doesn’t cover what you have to cover. It’s a disaster. You know it and I know it. And I said to the Republican folks– and they’re terrific folks, Mitch and Paul Ryan, I said, “Look, if you go fast — and I’m okay in doing it because it’s the right thing to do. We wanna get good coverage at much less cost.” I said, “If you go fast we then own Obamacare. They’re gonna put it on us. And Obamacare is a disaster waiting to explode. If you sit back and let it explode it’s gonna be much easier.” That’s the thing to do. But the right thing to do is to get something done now.

DAVID MUIR: But you …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So I wanna make sure that nobody’s dying on the streets when I’m president. Nobody’s gonna be dying on the streets. We will unleash something that’s gonna be terrific. And remember this, before Obamacare you had a lot of people that were very, very happy with their health care.

And now those people in many cases don’t even have health care. They don’t even have anything that’s acceptable to them. Remember this, keep your doctor, keep your plan, 100 percent. Remember the $5 billion website? Remember the website fiasco. I mean, you do admit that I think, right? The website fiasco.

Obamacare is a disaster. We are going to come up with a new plan ideally not an amended plan because right now if you look at the pages they’re this high. We’re gonna come up with a new plan that’s going to be better health care for more people at a lesser cost.

DAVID MUIR: Last question because I know you’re gonna show me around the White House. Last question on this. You’ve seen the estimate that 18 million Americans could lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed and there is no replacement. Can you assure those Americans watching this right now that they will not lose their health insurance or end up with anything less?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So nobody ever deducts all the people that have already lost their health insurance that liked it. You had millions of people that liked their health insurance and their health care and their doctor and where they went. You had millions of people that now aren’t insured anymore.

DAVID MUIR: I’m just asking about the people …


DAVID MUIR: … who are nervous and watching …


DAVID MUIR: … you for reassurance.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: … here’s what I can assure you, we are going to have a better plan, much better health care, much better service treatment, a plan where you can have access to the doctor that you want and the plan that you want. We’re gonna have a much better health care plan at much less money.

And remember Obamacare is ready to explode. And you interviewed me a couple of years ago. I said ’17 — right now, this year, “’17 is going to be a disaster.” I’m very good at this stuff. “’17 is going to be a disaster cost-wise for Obamacare. It’s going to explode in ’17.”

And why not? Obama’s a smart guy. So let it all come do because that’s what’s happening. It’s all coming do in ’17. We’re gonna have an explosion. And to do it right, sit back, let it explode and let the Democrats come begging us to help them because it’s on them. But I don’t wanna do that. I wanna give great health care at a much lower cost.

DAVID MUIR: So, no one who has this health insurance through Obamacare will lose it or end up …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You know, when you …

DAVID MUIR: … with anything less?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: … say no one I think no one. Ideally, in the real world, you’re talking about millions of people. Will no one. And then, you know, knowing ABC, you’ll have this one person on television saying how they were hurt. Okay. We want no one. We want the answer to be no one.

But I will say millions of people will be happy. Right now you have millions and millions and millions of people that are unhappy. It’s too expensive and it’s no good. And the governor of Minnesota who unfortunately had a very, very sad incident yesterday ’cause he’s a very nice guy but — a couple of months ago he said that the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable.

He’s a staunch Democrat. Very strong Democrat. He said it’s no longer affordable. He made that statement. And Bill Clinton on the campaign trail — and he probably had a bad night that night when he went home — but he said, “Obamacare is crazy. It’s crazy.” And you know what, they were both right.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, thank you.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.


Watch Video Original Interview







…..enemy at the gates?… my ass!……they are way ….WAY………..past the gates kids……

…….is it time to wake up yet?…….


……unless there’s some last minute hail Mary that gets us out of this nightmare…..this friggin nightmare is going to go from bad to worse…..maybe way worse…..depending on who you are……angry white guys are probably going to do just fine….for awhile…. since it’s their ilk that is making that last gasping sound….. fading from influence….way too slowly…..

…….Angry White Guys…..


….they’ll probably move towards their favorite targets first…..

Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman says…….

As 2017 dawns and the Republicans prepare to take control of both houses of Congress and the White House, a life or death matter looms for millions of Americans who currently have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare: The GOP says it’s full steam ahead on repeal of the ACA. Why are they so damn eager to eliminate healthcare for tens of millions? Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman says the GOP’s motive goes beyond their free market zeal.

For years, Republicans have been hoping and praying for a predicted Obamacare death spiral, but it has yet to materialize, and now the GOP faces a much more terrifying prospect:

“Despite higher premiums, enrollments in the exchanges are running ahead of their levels a year ago. Meanwhile, analysts are reporting substantial financial improvement for insurers: The premium hikes are doing the job, ending their losses.”

Should the Republicans let the program continue to grow and expand, becoming more popular and financially stable with each passing day, it would be even more difficult for them to rip coverage away from millions of Americans who have decent, affordable heath insurance.

“Republican congressional leaders like Paul Ryan nonetheless seem eager to push ahead with repeal. In fact, they seem to be in a great rush, probably because they’re afraid that if they don’t unravel health reform in the very first weeks of the Trump era, rank-and-file members of Congress will start hearing from constituents who really, really don’t want to lose their insurance.”


At a much deeper level, the real reason the GOP hates the Affordable Care Act so much can be distilled down to two main points:

The ACA is paid for in part by higher taxes on wealthy Americans. Now that the GOP is in control, they are going to do everything they can to give their rich contributors as many tax cuts as they can.
Republicans don’t think the government should play any role in improving the lives of average Americans. It doesn’t fit into their Ayn Rand theory of Objectivism. The GOP thinks that if you don’t have decent healthcare, it’s all your fault.
Krugman concludes his analysis with this reminder:

“When the number of uninsured Americans skyrockets on their watch, they’ll claim that it’s not their fault. Like everything, it’s the fault of liberal elites.”

And it’s our job to call them out for their lies.

Paul Krugman

Nobel Prize winning economist



….are you shitting me?……this is how we’re going to do this?…….go along to get along?…..Really?….shouldn’t we be screaming?…


Why the hell aren’t there more voices?…………












What part of clear and present danger gives you trouble?…..exactly…….








…..but if it is a case…. of us……somehow finding the necessary heroes to avoid this fucting catastrophe…..which would be great if you’d all come forward….say…before the 19th………shit….that’s tomorrow!……….




……yes alice….it’s exactly that crazy…….

…..wait….it’s our American Spring….yeah that’s it….that’s the ticket!….


Pat Buchanan: If Trump Loses, There Could Be A Revolution

Brian Tashman

In a column yesterday, Pat Buchanan warned that if Donald Trump loses the election in November, America could experience a revolution.

Buchanan, citing Trump’s recent suggestion that the election could be “rigged,” said that if Hillary Clinton defeats Trump, “would that not suggest there is something fraudulent about American democracy, something rotten in the state?”

“[T]he Republican electorate should tell its discredited and rejected ruling class: If we cannot get rid of you at the ballot box, then tell us how, peacefully and democratically, we can be rid of you?” he continued. “You want Trump out? How do we get you out? The Czechs had their Prague Spring. The Tunisians and Egyptians their Arab Spring. When do we have our American Spring?”

Buchanan then quoted John F. Kennedy’s remarks on U.S.-Latin American relations: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged,” Donald Trump told voters in Ohio and Sean Hannity on Fox News. And that hit a nerve.

“Dangerous,” “toxic,” came the recoil from the media.

Trump is threatening to “delegitimize” the election results of 2016.

Well, if that is what Trump is trying to do, he has no small point. For consider what 2016 promised and what it appears about to deliver.

This longest of election cycles has rightly been called the Year of the Outsider. It was a year that saw a mighty surge of economic populism and patriotism, a year when a 74-year-old socialist senator set primaries ablaze with mammoth crowds that dwarfed those of Hillary Clinton.

It was the year that a non-politician, Donald Trump, swept Republican primaries in an historic turnout, with his nearest rival an ostracized maverick in his own Republican caucus, Sen. Ted Cruz.

More than a dozen Republican rivals, described as the strongest GOP field since 1980, were sent packing. This was the year Americans rose up to pull down the establishment in a peaceful storming of the American Bastille.

But if it ends with a Clintonite restoration and a ratification of the same old Beltway policies, would that not suggest there is something fraudulent about American democracy, something rotten in the state?

Specifically, the Republican electorate should tell its discredited and rejected ruling class: If we cannot get rid of you at the ballot box, then tell us how, peacefully and democratically, we can be rid of you?

You want Trump out? How do we get you out?

The Czechs had their Prague Spring. The Tunisians and Egyptians their Arab Spring. When do we have our American Spring?

And if, as the polls show we might, we get Clinton – and TPP, and amnesty, and endless migrations of Third World peoples who consume more tax dollars than they generate, and who will soon swamp the Republicans’ coalition – what was 2016 all about?

Would this really be what a majority of Americans voted for in this most exciting of presidential races?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” said John F. Kennedy.





……picture a snake swallowing its tail?………


By Andy Borowitz…………………………AUGUST 11, 2016

“I’ll say something at a rally and I look out and see all these TV cameras taking every word down,” Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity. “No one in politics has ever been subjected to this kind of treatment.”

“It’s unbelievable and, frankly, very unethical,” he added.

At a rally in Florida, the candidate lashed out at a TV cameraman whom he caught in the act of recording his words for broadcasting purposes.

“Look at him over there, picking up everything I’m saying, folks,” Trump shouted. “Get him out of here.”

In his interview with Fox, Trump hinted that he might drop out of this fall’s televised Presidential debates if the media continues its practice of reporting the things he says.

“I’ve always said that I would be willing to debate if I’m treated fairly,” Trump told Hannity. “But if the media keeps recording everything I say, word for word, and then playing it back so that everyone in the country hears exactly what I said, I would consider that very, very unfair.”


…….scares the crap out of me that Mike might be right when he says there are………..



I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. And now I have even more awful, depressing news for you: Donald J. Trump is going to win in November. This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full time sociopath is going to be our next president. President Trump. Go ahead and say the words, ‘cause you’ll be saying them for the next four years: “PRESIDENT TRUMP.”

Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now.

I can see what you’re doing right now. You’re shaking your head wildly – “No, Mike, this won’t happen!” Unfortunately, you are living in a bubble that comes with an adjoining echo chamber where you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president. You alternate between being appalled at him and laughing at him because of his latest crazy comment or his embarrassingly narcissistic stance on everything because everything is about him. And then you listen to Hillary and you behold our very first female president, someone the world respects, someone who is whip-smart and cares about kids, who will continue the Obama legacy because that is what the American people clearly want! Yes! Four more years of this!

You need to exit that bubble right now. You need to stop living in denial and face the truth which you know deep down is very, very real. Trying to soothe yourself with the facts – “77% of the electorate are women, people of color, young adults under 35 and Trump cant win a majority of any of them!” – or logic – “people aren’t going to vote for a buffoon or against their own best interests!” – is your brain’s way of trying to protect you from trauma. Like when you hear a loud noise on the street and you think, “oh, a tire just blew out,” or, “wow, who’s playing with firecrackers?” because you don’t want to think you just heard someone being shot with a gun. It’s the same reason why all the initial news and eyewitness reports on 9/11 said “a small plane accidentally flew into the World Trade Center.” We want to – we need to –hope for the best because, frankly, life is already a shit show and it’s hard enough struggling to get by from paycheck to paycheck. We can’t handle much more bad news. So our mental state goes to default when something scary is actually, truly happening. The first people plowed down by the truck in Nice spent their final moments on earth waving at the driver whom they thought had simply lost control of his truck, trying to tell him that he jumped the curb: “Watch out!,” they shouted. “There are people on the sidewalk!”

Well, folks, this isn’t an accident. It is happening. And if you believe Hillary Clinton is going to beat Trump with facts and smarts and logic, then you obviously missed the past year of 56 primaries and caucuses where 16 Republican candidates tried that and every kitchen sink they could throw at Trump and nothing could stop his juggernaut. As of today, as things stand now, I believe this is going to happen – and in order to deal with it, I need you first to acknowledge it, and then maybe, just maybe, we can find a way out of the mess we’re in.

Don’t get me wrong. I have great hope for the country I live in. Things are better. The left has won the cultural wars. Gays and lesbians can get married. A majority of Americans now take the liberal position on just about every polling question posed to them: Equal pay for women – check. Abortion should be legal – check. Stronger environmental laws – check. More gun control – check. Legalize marijuana – check. A huge shift has taken place – just ask the socialist who won 22 states this year. And there is no doubt in my mind that if people could vote from their couch at home on their X-box or PlayStation, Hillary would win in a landslide.

But that is not how it works in America. People have to leave the house and get in line to vote. And if they live in poor, Black or Hispanic neighborhoods, they not only have a longer line to wait in, everything is being done to literally stop them from casting a ballot. So in most elections it’s hard to get even 50% to turn out to vote. And therein lies the problem for November – who is going to have the most motivated, most inspired voters show up to vote? You know the answer to this question. Who’s the candidate with the most rabid supporters? Whose crazed fans are going to be up at 5 AM on Election Day, kicking ass all day long, all the way until the last polling place has closed, making sure every Tom, Dick and Harry (and Bob and Joe and Billy Bob and Billy Joe and Billy Bob Joe) has cast his ballot?  That’s right. That’s the high level of danger we’re in. And don’t fool yourself — no amount of compelling Hillary TV ads, or outfacting him in the debates or Libertarians siphoning votes away from Trump is going to stop his mojo.

Here are the 5 reasons Trump is going to win:

  1. Midwest Math, or Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit.  I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest. Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states. When Trump stood in the shadow of a Ford Motor factory during the Michigan primary, he threatened the corporation that if they did indeed go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States. It was sweet, sweet music to the ears of the working class of Michigan, and when he tossed in his threat to Apple that he would force them to stop making their iPhones in China and build them here in America, well, hearts swooned and Trump walked away with a big victory that should have gone to the governor next-door, John Kasich.

From Green Bay to Pittsburgh, this, my friends, is the middle of England – broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we use to call the Middle Class. Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people who were lied to by the trickle-down of Reagan and abandoned by Democrats who still try to talk a good line but are really just looking forward to rub one out with a lobbyist from Goldman Sachs who’ll write them nice big check before leaving the room. What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here. Elmer Gantry shows up looking like Boris Johnson and just says whatever shit he can make up to convince the masses that this is their chance! To stick to ALL of them, all who wrecked their American Dream! And now The Outsider, Donald Trump, has arrived to clean house! You don’t have to agree with him! You don’t even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the center of the bastards who did this to you! SEND A MESSAGE! TRUMP IS YOUR MESSENGER!

And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.

  1. The Last Stand of the Angry White Man. Our male-dominated, 240-year run of the USA is coming to an end. A woman is about to take over! How did this happen?! On our watch! There were warning signs, but we ignored them. Nixon, the gender traitor, imposing Title IX on us, the rule that said girls in school should get an equal chance at playing sports. Then they let them fly commercial jets. Before we knew it, Beyoncé stormed on the field at this year’s Super Bowl (our game!) with an army of Black Women, fists raised, declaring that our domination was hereby terminated! Oh, the humanity!

That’s a small peek into the mind of the Endangered White Male. There is a sense that the power has slipped out of their hands, that their way of doing things is no longer how things are done. This monster, the “Feminazi,”the thing that as Trump says, “bleeds through her eyes or wherever she bleeds,” has conquered us — and now, after having had to endure eight years of a black man telling us what to do, we’re supposed to just sit back and take eight years of a woman bossing us around? After that it’ll be eight years of the gays in the White House! Then the transgenders! You can see where this is going. By then animals will have been granted human rights and a fuckin’ hamster is going to be running the country. This has to stop!

  1. The Hillary Problem. Can we speak honestly, just among ourselves? And before we do, let me state, I actually like Hillary – a lot – and I think she has been given a bad rap she doesn’t deserve. But her vote for the Iraq War made me promise her that I would never vote for her again. To date, I haven’t broken that promise. For the sake of preventing a proto-fascist from becoming our commander-in-chief, I’m breaking that promise. I sadly believe Clinton will find a way to get us in some kind of military action. She’s a hawk, to the right of Obama. But Trump’s psycho finger will be on The Button, and that is that. Done and done.

Let’s face it: Our biggest problem here isn’t Trump – it’s Hillary. She is hugely unpopular — nearly 70% of all voters think she is untrustworthy and dishonest. She represents the old way of politics, not really believing in anything other than what can get you elected. That’s why she fights against gays getting married one moment, and the next she’s officiating a gay marriage. Young women are among her biggest detractors, which has to hurt considering it’s the sacrifices and the battles that Hillary and other women of her generation endured so that this younger generation would never have to be told by the Barbara Bushes of the world that they should just shut up and go bake some cookies. But the kids don’t like her, and not a day goes by that a millennial doesn’t tell me they aren’t voting for her. No Democrat, and certainly no independent, is waking up on November 8th excited to run out and vote for Hillary the way they did the day Obama became president or when Bernie was on the primary ballot. The enthusiasm just isn’t there. And because this election is going to come down to just one thing — who drags the most people out of the house and gets them to the polls — Trump right now is in the catbird seat.

  1. The Depressed Sanders Vote. Stop fretting about Bernie’s supporters not voting for Clinton – we’re voting for Clinton! The polls already show that more Sanders voters will vote for Hillary this year than the number of Hillary primary voters in ’08 who then voted for Obama. This is not the problem. The fire alarm that should be going off is that while the average Bernie backer will drag him/herself to the polls that day to somewhat reluctantly vote for Hillary, it will be what’s called a “depressed vote” – meaning the voter doesn’t bring five people to vote with her. He doesn’t volunteer 10 hours in the month leading up to the election. She never talks in an excited voice when asked why she’s voting for Hillary. A depressed voter. Because, when you’re young, you have zero tolerance for phonies and BS. Returning to the Clinton/Bush era for them is like suddenly having to pay for music, or using MySpace or carrying around one of those big-ass portable phones. They’re not going to vote for Trump; some will vote third party, but many will just stay home. Hillary Clinton is going to have to do something to give them a reason to support her  — and picking a moderate, bland-o, middle of the road old white guy as her running mate is not the kind of edgy move that tells millenials that their vote is important to Hillary. Having two women on the ticket – that was an exciting idea. But then Hillary got scared and has decided to play it safe. This is just one example of how she is killing the youth vote.
  1. The Jesse Ventura Effect. Finally, do not discount the electorate’s ability to be mischievous or underestimate how any millions fancy themselves as closet anarchists once they draw the curtain and are all alone in the voting booth. It’s one of the few places left in society where there are no security cameras, no listening devices, no spouses, no kids, no boss, no cops, there’s not even a friggin’ time limit. You can take as long as you need in there and no one can make you do anything. You can push the button and vote a straight party line, or you can write in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. There are no rules. And because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can. Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy and daddy mad. And in the same way like when you’re standing on the edge of Niagara Falls and your mind wonders for a moment what would that feel like to go over that thing, a lot of people are going to love being in the position of puppetmaster and plunking down for Trump just to see what that might look like. Remember back in the ‘90s when the people of Minnesota elected a professional wrestler as their governor? They didn’t do this because they’re stupid or thought that Jesse Ventura was some sort of statesman or political intellectual. They did so just because they could. Minnesota is one of the smartest states in the country. It is also filled with people who have a dark sense of humor — and voting for Ventura was their version of a good practical joke on a sick political system. This is going to happen again with Trump.

Coming back to the hotel after appearing on Bill Maher’s Republican Convention special this week on HBO, a man stopped me. “Mike,” he said, “we have to vote for Trump. We HAVE to shake things up.” That was it. That was enough for him. To “shake things up.” President Trump would indeed do just that, and a good chunk of the electorate would like to sit in the bleachers and watch that reality show.

(Next week I will post my thoughts on Trump’s Achilles Heel and how I think he can be beat.)

ALSO: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/michael-moores-5-reasons-why-trump-will-win

Michael Moore

…..Let’s chew on that a bit………w





…….special kind of stupid……copy and paste…..


The Republican convention……..Melania Trump’s excruciating blunder …..Jul 19th 2016….. BY J.A. Cleveland at The Economist ….

IT HAD been billed as the high point of the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland—a speech by Donald Trump’s beautiful, Slovenian-born wife, Melania, on July 18th, in which she was expected to paint the presumptive Republican candidate in a new and softer light. Mr Trump’s advisers have described that rebranding exercise as their big objective in Cleveland; Paul Manafort, the campaign’s manager, says the four-day coronation of Mr Trump as the Republican nominee will show a “very personal” side to him. Interviewed on her way to deliver the speech, Mrs Trump claimed to have written it herself, “with a [sic] little help as possible”.

She did not, in fact, say anything terribly new or personal about her husband. Introduced by the man himself—after Mr Trump, emerging from a light-filled backdrop, to the sound of “We Are the Champions”, had made a memorable first appearance at his coronation—Mrs Trump delivered a familiar panegyric. She praised her husband as an “amazing leader” whose “achievements speak for themselves”.

She offered no clue on how Mr Trump might differ in private from the thunderous braggart he has made for public consumption. Neither did she say anything to support his claim that she is one of his most astute political advisers. Mrs Trump offered instead an anodyne portrait of wifely devotion—with no acknowledgement of the potentially humanising strains or peculiarities inherent, it might be assumed, in her match to a difficult man a quarter of a century older than her.

In any event, her speech went down well with the Republican crowd. Mrs Trump is thought to be a nice person. And her speech was, at least, a pleasant change of tone from the noisy, ill-tempered events of earlier that day. The afternoon had been dominated by a row between the convention’s organisers and a group of delegates from Virginia and elsewhere, whose effort to register their dissent against Mr Trump had been ridden over roughshod.

The evening of speeches that followed was then filled with windy harangues against Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump’s presumptive Democratic rival, offered by an assortment of B-list actors—including Scott Baio, a television star of the 1980s—former soldiers and Rudy Giuliani. It was noisy, nasty and, with the exception of Mr Giuliani, who delivered a powerful, foam-flecked denunciation of Mrs Clinton, often low-grade speaking. Mrs Trump’s speech, by comparison, was at least peaceful.

But then things went badly wrong for her, her husband, and what is already shaping up to be a strange, modestly provisioned and poorly attended convention, from which most of the party’s luminaries are absent. Two passages of Mrs Trump’s speech, it emerged, had been lifted, more or less exactly in places, from Michelle Obama’s address to the Democratic convention in 2008.

“Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do,” Mrs Obama said in a speech richly praised at the time by, among others, Mr Trump.

“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect,” said Mrs Trump.

“And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation,” Mrs Obama’s speech continued. “Because we want our children—and all children in this nation—to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Or as Mrs Trump put this: “That is a lesson I continue to pass along to our son, and we need to pass those lesson on to the many generations to follow, because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Mrs Trump is not her husband. So her apparent plagiarism is not about to kill his campaign—as happened, for example, to Joe Biden’s fledgling presidential run in 1988, after he was shown to have unwittingly ripped off speeches by both Robert Kennedy and Neil Kinnock, the then leader of the British Labour Party. Yet Mrs Trump’s blunder is still worse than embarrassing.

It points to the inadequacy of Mr Trump’s campaign effort, which is lagging behind that of Mrs Clinton, his presumptive rival in November, in cash and organisation by any measure. Late last month, Mr Trump was trying to roll out a national campaign with less than a hundred employees; meanwhile, he sought to preserve the close-knit, deeply loyal and scattily amateurish spirit of the skeletal operation he constructed during the primaries. That one of his speechwriters appears to have ripped off Mrs Obama suggests he might wish to buck up that idea. That this error or idiocy was not picked up in the weeks-long editing process that followed is remarkable.

Worse, the scandal raises an obvious question about the straight-shooting honesty of Mr Trump’s campaign that is one of his main boasts. Plainly, Mrs Trump was trying to reinforce just that impression by claiming, falsely, to have written the speech herself. She now looks a phony, which makes Mr Trump look like a phony, too.

He would now seem to have two ways of dealing with the fallout. He could admit the error and fire the errant speechwriter. Or Mr Trump, who almost never admits to possessing any weakness, may choose to ignore the blunder and simply blame the media for making an unnecessary fuss. His spokesman, in a statement released shortly after the foul-up was noticed, suggested Mr Trump preferred the second path.

“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” it ran. That contained at least an admission that Mrs Trump was wrong to have claimed authorship of the speech. But America’s media, long bullied and abused by Mr Trump, and now delighting in his embarrassment, are going to want to see more of a climb-down than that.

“Maybe [this is] the funniest fuck up in the history of political conventions,” tweeted the conservative commentator David Frum. It really was.



……walking down into the basement….in the dark….

CURIOSITY MARS ROVERToday is about NAUTILISsmart…….at least we’ll start off that way…

….get it?………….                                                                                never mind……moving on now…….survived the weekend with the dust still settling from the BREXIT vote and aftershocks that followed….From The Economist….

Britain is sailing into a storm…………. with no one at the wheel

IT WAS a troubling exchange. On live television Faisal Islam, the political editor of SkyNews, was recounting a conversation with a pro-Brexit Conservative MP. “I said to him: ‘Where’s the plan? Can we see the Brexit plan now?’ [The MP replied:] ‘There is no plan. The Leave campaign don’t have a post-Brexit plan…Number 10 should have had a plan.’” The camera cut to Anna Botting, the anchor, horror chasing across her face. For a couple of seconds they were both silent, as the point sunk in. “Don’t know what to say to that, actually,” she replied, looking down at the desk. Then she cut to a commercial break.

Sixty hours have gone by since a puffy-eyed David Cameron appeared outside 10 Downing Street and announced his resignation. The pound has tumbled. Investment decisions have been suspended; already firms talk of moving operations overseas. Britain’s EU commissioner has resigned. Sensitive political acts—the Chilcot report’s publication, decisions on a new London airport runway and the renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent—are looming. European leaders are shuttling about the continent meeting and discussing what to do next. Those more sympathetic to Britain are looking for signs from London of how they can usefully influence discussions. At home mounting evidence suggests a spike in racist and xenophobic attacks on immigrants. Scotland is heading for another independence referendum. Northern Ireland’s peace settlement may hang by a thread.

But at the top of British politics, a vacuum yawns wide. The phones are ringing, but no one is picking up.

Mr Cameron has said nothing since Friday morning. George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, has been silent. (This afternoon I texted several of his advisers to ask whether he would make a statement before the markets open tomorrow. As I write this I have received no replies.) The prime minister’s loyalist allies in Westminster and in the media are largely mute.

Apart from ashen-faced, mumbled statements from the Vote Leave headquarters on Friday, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have also ducked the limelight; Mr Johnson is meeting friends and allies today, June 26th, at his house near Oxford in what are believed to be talks about his impending leadership bid. Neither seems to have the foggiest as to what should happen next. Today Mr Gove’s wife committed to Facebook the hope that “clever people” might offer to “lend their advice and expertise.” And Mr Johnson’s sister, Rachel, tweeted: “Everyone keeps saying ‘we are where we are’ but nobody seems to have the slightest clue where that is.”

Ordinarily the opposition might take advantage of the vacuum: calling on the government to act, offering its own proposals, venturing a framework. But Labour has turned in on itself, a parade of shadow ministers resigning this afternoon in what seems to be a concerted coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s useless leader. In a meeting tomorrow Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, is expected to call on Mr Corbyn to quit. Of the need for stability and leadership following Thursday’s vote the party has little to say.

No one seems capable of stepping forward and offering reassurance. The Leavers, who disagreed on what Brexit should look like, do not think it is their responsibility to set out a path. They reckon that falls to Number 10 (where they have appeared in public, it has mostly been to discard the very pledges on which they won the referendum). Number 10, however, seems to have done little planning for this eventuality. It seems transfixed by the unfolding chaos; reluctant to formulate answers to the Brexiteers’ unanswered questions. As Mr Cameron reportedly told aides on June 24th when explaining his decision to resign: “Why should I do all the hard shit?”

This could go on for a while. The Conservative leadership contest will last until at least early October, perhaps longer. It may be almost as long until Labour has a new chief, and even then he or she may be a caretaker. The new prime minister could call a general election. It might be more than half a year until Britain has a leader capable of addressing the myriad crises now engulfing it.

The country does not have that kind of time. Despite arguments for patience from continental Anglophiles, including Angela Merkel, the insistence that Britain immediately invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, launching exit negotiations that can last no longer than two years, is hardening. Soon it may be a consensus. Britain could be thrust into talks under a lame-duck leader with no clear notion of what Brexit should look like or mandate to negotiate. All against a background of intensifying economic turmoil and increasingly ugly divides on Britain’s streets. The country is sailing into a storm. And no one is at the wheel.


Well….we’ll have to let that simmer for now …….SCOTUS is making news today…..and the first one comes out of Texas……where they can’t pass on any opportunity to control women’s bodies……. and will somebody PLEASE explain to me who voted for Louie Gohmert!

….sorry……this is serious…..LOONEY TUNE LOUIE GOHMERT





…from The New York Times

WASHINGTON — “The Supreme Court on Monday struck down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state to about 10 from what was once a high of roughly 40.

The 5-to-3 decision was the court’s most sweeping statement on abortion rights since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. It applied a skeptical and exacting version of that decision’s “undue burden” standard to find that the restrictions in Texas went too far.

The decision on Monday means that similar restrictions in other states are most likely also unconstitutional, and it imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

The decision concerned two parts of a Texas law that imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.”

…….ya….MR OOPS…… kinda miss him……..NOT EVEN A LITTLE!…………..

…….another kill zone…….what number is this?……


……Orlando, Florida ……..

Swiped from The Economist.……THE MURDER in the early hours of June 12th of at least 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, apparently by a 29-year-old American-born Muslim wielding an assault rifle and handgun, was swiftly and loudly seized upon by political partisans as a vindication of everything that they already believe about Muslims, the fight against terrorism and the exceptional prevalence of private gun ownership in America.

The slaughter—the deadliest mass shooting in American history and the worst terrorist attack since September 2001—will not lead to tougher federal gun controls. It will not pave the way for even the most modest step advocated by Barack Obama and other gun-safety advocates each time that the country endures a fresh massacre by firearm: namely, more consistent screening of gun buyers against existing watch-lists of those with serious criminal histories or severe mental illness. If public horror were ever going to have pressured Congress to pass new legislation making it harder for dangerous people to own powerful weapons, it would have done so after the Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings of December 2012 when a deranged young man murdered 20 small children in cold blood, as well as six adult members of staff.

Instead, the Florida massacre prompted a shouting-match, liable to change no minds but only to harden hearts. As so often recently, the most strident voice belonged to Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, who has openly mused in the past about how previous terror attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, California boosted his campaign. On Sunday—at about the same time as police began counting bodies in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, steeling themselves to ignore the constantly ringing mobile telephones of the dead, as loved-ones desperately sought news—Mr Trump took to Twitter to report that he was being praised for his foresight in having said that radical Islamists pose a threat to the West. Mr Trump wrote: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Elaborating on his theme in a later statement, Mr Trump sharply criticised both Mr Obama and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, for not using the words “radical Islam” when they denounced the Orlando massacre. Mr Trump called on Mr Obama to resign over his choice of words and added: “If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency.” Though the property developer’s campaign statement did not repeat his call for a temporary entry ban on Muslims, he did cast Muslim immigration as an unstoppable menace. “Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term—and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalising,” he said.

There are several ways to explain the horrible slaughter that the gunman, Omar Saddiqui Mateen, from Fort Pierce, about 120 miles southeast of Orlando, was able to carry out before being shot dead by police when they broke into the club with an armoured vehicle. One way is to note that he appears to have been able to purchase an AR-15 military-style rifle legally, and that to note that that style of high-powered rifle has been the killing-machine of choice for several mass shooters.

He was able to buy the rifle and a handgun even though, according to FBI press briefings, he had been interviewed by agents in 2013 after making statements praising radical Islamic propaganda, and then again in 2014 by agents probing his ties with an American who travelled to the Middle East to become a suicide bomber. Both times the interviews were inconclusive, FBI agents told reporters in Florida, adding that the killer was not under investigation at the time of Sunday’s shooting.

Though more details will emerge in further days, it is the case that such high-powered weapons are unusually common in America, when compared to other large, rich countries. Though no central database exists, there are thought to be almost as many guns in private hands, or about 300m, as there are Americans. After previous mass shootings, applications for new gun permits and gun sales have risen sharply, as gun-owners hear dire warnings that the government is coming to disarm them.

It is also the case that Republicans in Congress have moved to block Democratic proposals to block gun sales to people on federal no-fly lists for those suspected of terror links, citing the rights of those who may be on such lists by mistake. It is not yet known whether the Orlando killer was on any such list.

Another way to explain the slaughter in Orlando is to ponder the hatred in the shooter’s heart, and its apparent links to religious extremism. The killer is reported to have called the 911 emergency telephone line and declared his allegiance to the fanatics of Islamic State. His father, who is from Afghanistan, told NBC television that his son had recently seen two men kissing in Miami, and “got very angry”.

It is surely reasonable to suggest that two different sorts of problem help to explain how one man could carry out such evil in Orlando: on the one hand, the menace posed by radical Islam and on the other, the easy availability of very powerful guns. It is predictable that Mr Trump and other Republicans only want to talk about the former cause and not the latter. After terrorist shootings in Paris and in San Bernardino, indeed, Mr Trump carefully adopted a favoured talking point of the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups, and said that innocents died in such places as the Bataclan Theatre in Paris precisely because they were not armed. In a recent speech to NRA members, Mr Trump (without evidence) accused Mrs Clinton of wanting to abolish the Second Amendment that guarantees the right to bear arms, and promised to abolish “gun-free zones.”

The cheers for Mr Trump are more than predictable, they are depressing and alarming. For, to be clear, in turning his back on any suggestion of limiting the availability of powerful guns that make it possibly to kill a lot of people rapidly, Mr Trump is rejecting a practical policy that has been actually tried in developed Western democracies, from Australia to Japan or Britain, and which has worked.

A brief note here about pesky facts. One of the favourite ploys of pro-gun lobbyists in America is to claim that Australia and Britain have been plagued with violent crime since each of those countries endured a big gun massacre and responded by tightening gun laws dramatically. The pro-gun lobby’s numbers do not add up. Australia outlawed assault rifles, semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns. Australia has not had another mass shooting since its laws changed in 1996, and a University of Sydney study shows that firearm homicide rates fell 7.5% per year after the introduction of the new laws, with no offsetting rise in other homicides. Australian robbery and break-in rates have also fallen since 1996.

As for Britain, the number of violent assaults in America is comparable to those of other western countries, yet murders are much more common. Guns are used in two-thirds of all murders. Americans are five times as likely to be murdered as Britons but over 40 times as likely to be murdered with a gun.

Worse, Mr Trump is not just dismissing out of hand a policy—gun control—that has been used with success in other countries. Instead he is urging Americans to make him president so he can try a vague, detail-free policy to keep the country safe by somehow closing the country to dangerous Muslims: a policy that has been tried with success by precisely no country, anywhere.

Does Mr Trump really believe, for instance, that uttering the magic words “radical Islam” would make terrorism go away? If he thinks that America should go around saying that it is at war with radical Islam, does he think that would make it easier to recruit Muslim allies at home and abroad, and if not, how does he propose to beat Muslim extremism without their help? What does he mean when he says that America has “no way” to screen Muslim immigrants or to stop the second generation from radicalising? Is he proposing to expel American-born Muslims such as the Orlando killer?

In any context, Mr Trump’s fairground-huckster approach to politics would be alarming. After an event as horrible as the slaughter in Orlando, it is also a disgrace.

link to story http://goo.gl/GJJYnw






Neither Trump’s immigration ban nor Clinton’s no-fly-no-guns plan would have prevented Orlando shooting by an American not on no-fly list.

Why the gun control debate gets more intractable every time there’s a mass shooting …..   http://goo.gl/V8DO1K


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