Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday roundup

The United States is characterizing the North Korean threat differently than it ever has before:

A senior administration official warned Tuesday that the "clock has run out" for North Korea and suggested the administration could resort war to solve the problem.
"The clock has now run out and all options are on the table for us," the official said during a briefing by senior administration officials for reporters about the upcoming bilateral meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping
The administration officials said the situation in North Korea, which has recently conducted a spate of missile tests, has become "urgent." Trump himself said in an interview published Sunday that the United States would solve the North Korea problem with or without China.
Chinese president Xi is coming to the US for a meeting with DJT, and while the administration anticipates a substantive exchange, it doesn't have its hopes up for getting the matter wrapped up in a tidy package:

Trump and Xi will tackle tough issues like trade and North Korea's nuclear ambitions this week during their bilateral summit at Mar-a-Lago, senior administration officials said Tuesday.

But that doesn't mean the two leaders will agree on how to handle their disagreements by the end of their roughly 24 hours together.
"I don't anticipate there'll be a resolution on those issues," one administration official said.

One of the worst chemical bombings in Syria turned a northern rebel-held area into a toxic kill zone on Tuesday, inciting international outrage over the ever-increasing government impunity shown in the country’s six-year war.
Western leaders including President Trump blamed the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and called on its patrons, Russia and Iran, to prevent a recurrence of what many described as a war crime.
Dozens of people, including children, died — some writhing, choking, gasping or foaming at the mouth — after breathing in poison that possibly contained a nerve agent or other banned chemicals, according to witnesses, doctors and rescue workers. They said the toxic substance spread after warplanes dropped bombs in the early morning hours. Some rescue workers grew ill and collapsed from proximity to the dead.
The opposition-run Health Department in Idlib Province, where the attack took place, said 69 people had died, providing a list of their names. The dead were still being identified, and some humanitarian groups said as many as 100 had died.

Bet this was a swell time:

Hundreds of LGBTQ protesters gathered outside the home of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Saturday night for a “Queer Dance Party for Climate Justice at Ivanka Trump’s House!” The purpose of the event was to “send the clear message that our climate and our communities matter” -- because the best way to persuade someone to take your side on an issue is to hold a queer dance party in front of their private residence. It's a sassy, whimsical, and fun way to make friends and influence people --  it's not inappropriate or weird at all.

Jonah Goldberg has a spot-on piece at NRO today entitled "The President is This Presidency's Worst Enemy."

 Trump brings the same glandular, impulsive style to meetings and interviews as he does to social media. He blurts out ideas or claims that send staff scrambling to see them implemented or defended. His management style is Hobbesian. Rivalries are encouraged. Senior aides panic at the thought of not being part of his movable entourage. He cares more about saving face and “counterpunching” his critics than he does about getting policy victories. 

The comment thread underneath is full of "you-still-don't-get-it-do-you-Jonah?" nonsense. Here's a taste of the level of insight to be found there: "Goldberg, you and Bill Kristol together couldn't muster a three-digit I.Q." 

Re: the rivalries of which Jonah speaks, it will be interesting to see where this development germinated. Bannon said some time ago that he fully expected the Jared-Ivanka camp to get him ousted from the administration:

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been removed from his seat on the National Security Council, reversing one of the most controversial decisions of the young Trump administration. 
A filing on Tuesday in the Federal Register did not list Bannon as a regular attendee of NSC "principals committee" meetings, as he previously was. The change adds Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, back to the committee.
Despite the move, Bannon retained his security clearance, NBC said.

And speaking of television, here's one for the doubling-down-on-a-formula-for-failure file:

On Tuesday morning, ESPN – which has been in a losing battle to keep its subscribers – issued a new set of guidelines “recognize[ing] connection between sports, politics.” ESPN public editor Jim Brady acknowledged the oddity of releasing guidelines after a presidential election, but said, “we are living in unique political times…which explains the revised guidelines for discussion of political and social issues.” According to ESPN vice president Craig Bengtson said that Trump’s election was the essential factor behind the new guidelines.
The first part of the guideline is a recommitment to “objective” journalism: “our audiences should be confident our original reporting of news is not influenced by political pressures or personal agendas.” Of course, that’s not going to help much: CNN believes the same, and their reporting is slanted heavily to the left. The left’s version of objectivity states that a story, once decided upon, must not be overtly political; this ignores selection bias, which decides which stories are important to cover. ESPN’s heavy focus on Caitlyn Jenner, for example, pushes a political agenda through selection bias.
ESPN does make two more important changes to their policy: first, they say that hard news reporters and editors at the company should not make any public statements in any forum that would reveal their political biases. That’s absurd, and doesn’t solve the problem of political bias in reporting itself.
But the most important change is the encouragement of more political talk from commentators:
Outside of ‘hard’ news reporting, commentary related to political or social issues, candidates or office holders is appropriate on ESPN platforms consistent with these guidelines….The presentation should be thoughtful and respectful. We should offer balance or recognize opposing views, as warranted. We should avoid personal attacks and inflammatory rhetoric.
In other words, talk politics, so long as it’s leftist. 
Who saw this one coming? Barry Manilow comes out as gay.


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