September 11, 2018

North Korea’s Military Parade

“With no long-range missiles on display, North Korea staged a military parade on Sunday focused on conventional arms, peace and economic development as it marked the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding... The parade [highlighted] themes of military accomplishment, national development, and international engagement.” Reuters

President Trump tweeted on Sunday, “This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea. Thank you To Chairman Kim.” Twitter

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stated that President Trump “received a ‘very warm, very positive’ letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un asking for a second meeting and the White House is looking at scheduling one.” Reuters

Meanwhile, NBC News reported that according to three senior US officials, “the newest intelligence shows Kim’s regime has stepped up efforts to hide its nuclear weapons production,” pushing the Trump “administration to take a much more aggressive stance toward Pyongyang.” NBC News

See past issues

From the Left

While the absence of long-range missiles could signal a step forward in nuclear talks, many on the left remain skeptical of Kim Jong-Un’s intentions and Trump’s eagerness to declare victory.

Like India, Pakistan, and Israel, “the country may [now] avoid talking about its nuclear capabilities, even though the world knows it has bombs... So looking at this another way, North Korea just acted like an established nuclear power and received praise from Trump for it. That could lead Kim to think the US will accept North Korea’s arsenal as long as he doesn’t boast about it."

Vox

“Despite the lack of any clear movement toward denuclearization three months after their summit in Singapore... Trump has sought to portray his detente with Kim as a foreign policy triumph."

Los Angeles Times

Counterpoint: According to a former US ambassador, President Obama had “essentially told Trump… that ‘if North Korea continued their tests — and they need more tests to have a survivable weapon — that we would strike, probably a limited strike’... Trump hasn't made North Korea's nuclear weapons go away, but he has helped make the immediate danger they pose to the US take a hike for now."

Business Insider

The big question now is what happens with the sanctions imposed last year... As Trump threatened military action against North Korea over its nuclear tests and numerous missile launches, China overcame its usual reluctance to implement international sanctions against North Korea and cracked down on border trade like never before. Now, with diplomatic talks underway, albeit in fits and starts, China has no need to continue blocking North Korean exports."

Washington Post

The political calendar and Trump's approach could give grounds for optimism. Kim, who has presided over a limited form of economic development inside North Korea, is under pressure to deliver improvements in the lives of his people… So he has an incentive to try to seek economic benefits or aid from the United States and wants punishing economic sanctions lifted — a potential opening for US negotiators… Kim must realize that his chances of basking in this kind of legitimacy with a US President other than Trump are slim. So if he fears Trump could lose in 2020, he may reason the time may be ripe for a deal. And Trump wants nothing more than a big diplomatic breakthrough months before the election.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right is cautiously optimistic about the latest developments.

From the Right

The right is cautiously optimistic about the latest developments.

“The Hermit Kingdom revels in showing off its latest and deadliest toys, especially to mark holidays and anniversaries, so the absence of ICBMs, which can theoretically deliver a nuclear payload to the US, was notable... possibly an indication Kim is making good on pledges to suspend long-range missile development."

New York Post

“Kim Jong Un surely was under pressure from top military and government officials to showcase Pyongyang’s might at a time when the country is under tremendous pressure, its economy contracting at the sharpest rate in 20 years, thanks to tough economic sanctions... Yet, Kim showed restraint."

The Hill

Some suggest that the primary audience was not Trump but South Korean President Moon Jae-in: “Kim brandishing the ICBMs would have made it all the harder for the South Korean president to claim that [the] North Korean dictator is negotiating in good faith. In other words, Kim just made it a whole lot easier for Moon to write him a check."

Weekly Standard

Counterpoint: Kim Jong-Un is “willing [to] forego nuclear testing and certain missile tests. He’s also willing to stop showing off his nuclear-armed missiles in his parades. And in exchange, he’s expecting the United States and its allies in Asia to stop complaining about it... But this does not mean that Kim is offering to give up those weapons."

The National Interest

“Trump is lavishing praise on Kim as a manipulation (as Kim is with Trump) while turning up the heat [via sanctions enforcement] to force Kim into denuclearization. This way Kim has room to claim that it’s his idea... Trump needs to hold firm against [relaxing sanctions] and force Kim into real, verifiable concessions first.”

Hot Air

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

Nietzsche, Nicole and a number: How a mass email brought 240 Calgary women together.

The Star Calgary

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