North Korea “Road Show”: Stunt Or Something Serious?

Senate Field Trip To The White House

Senators have been invited to the White House for a briefing on North Korea. All of them. Usually briefings like this take place at a secure location on Capitol Hill. White House aides told the Washington Post, it was President Trump’s idea to do it at the White House.

You might ask “who cares where they meet?” But here’s why it might matter, in this Administration which seems to care more about appearance than substance. First, there’s speculation Trump might use the event as a photo op just before his 100th day in office. He could drop by the briefing, and get photo evidence the entire Senate came to his house, all united.

Another theory is this is a sign Trump is serious about military action in North Korea and something might happen on that front soon. There’s also the possibility it means nothing special other than showing Washington that Trump does things different.

Here’s a neat new resource for learning who North Korea’s friends and foes are around the world.

Afghanistan Also At Crisis Point

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis made an unscheduled visit to Kabul, on the heels of the resignation of Afghanistan’s Defense Minister and Army Chief of Staff. They took responsibility for the murder of 140 Afghan soldiers by the Taliban during a raid on an army base. The Taliban controls large swaths of that country, and ISIS is there too. Nearly 9,000 U.S. troops are also still there.

“Blame Canada”

You might’ve had your money on China or Mexico, but looks like Canada will be the first target of major protectionist tariffs under Trump. The dispute is over lumber. And the punitive tariffs will be in the 20% range. Canada now holds about 1/3 of the U.S. softwood lumber market, its 3rd biggest export after energy products and cars. U.S. Customs will begin collecting the tariffs immediately, and will seek to collect from some lumber companies retroactively. Trump has long expressed dismay with NAFTA, the free trade agreement that includes Canada and Mexico. Canada, meanwhile, is exploring a free trade agreement with China.

Trump Holocaust Speech Slotted For Today

The President is scheduled to give a speech at an event run by the DC Holocaust Museum, although he won’t actually visit the museum for some reason (security issues?) even though it’s only 5 minutes away from the White House. This Politico story does get one thing right: about Trump appointing a powerful colleague from New York real estate to oversee the museum. One thing to watch for: whether Trump mentions his campaign pledge to 100% move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Tax Cut For Companies

President Trump showing where his loyalties really lie, announcing tax relief for corporations, before offering any concrete plans for middle class tax breaks. And he wants those corporate cuts even if they increase the deficit.

President Trump reportedly caught his team off guard, surprising his aides that he planned to make an announcement on his tax plan on Wednesday. He plans to cut the corporate tax rate to 15%, which he did propose during the campaign. But it wasn’t one of those issues you heard his base chanting about.

The Wall Street Journal [paywalled link] reports Trump isn’t concerned if his plan would increase the deficit. That would be a very hard sell to the deficit hawks in the Republican party.  They seem more concerned about deficits when Democrats are in charge, but even for Trump, this will be far from a slam dunk. Look for some eventual tax relief for the middle class so Trump can counter the argument that his plan is just a tax cut for the super rich. We’ll be looking at the details (if there are any) and seeing where the bulk of the cuts will really go.

And Maybe If That Makes A Big Enough Splash, We Won’t Notice This Abomination

Also on Wednesday, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order directing the Interior department to review the status of national monuments: not just those designated by President Obama, but everything from the last 21 years.

We Watched Fox News Today, Just For A Change Of Pace

And were shocked to see an ad that appears to at least jocularly support that climate change is real, despite the network’s continuing parade of doubters.

This ad for a $3,000-$10,000 contraption that freeze dries food so it’s good for decades, seems to show a family enjoying a meal 25-years from now with a non-stop apocalyptic storm raging in the background. In another ad, the family is under water. Perhaps in reaction to the “science” of the other ads, there’s also one where they appear to be stuck on an ice floe.

Why There Hasn’t Been More Of This To Fight Fake News?

The founder of Chobani is suing conspiracy-theorist radio host Alex Jones, for alleging the yogurt maker was at the center of a sexual assault case involving children. Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya has been an outspoken supporter of refugees. Breitbart reported similar stories, but was not named in the lawsuit. The answer to our headline question is that it’s very hard to win these types of cases, because most of the time, to be liable for damages, the publisher of the story has to admit they knew they were lying.

A Rare Moment of Introspection?

Mainstream media wasted no time savaging the President’s performance in a rambling interview with the AP. We won’t waste your time rehashing a bunch of stuff he’s more-or-less said before. (If you want to read the entire transcript, it’s here.) We do want to call your attention to a moment that nobody (as far as we can tell) covered. Where Trump says:

“Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government, involves heart, whereas in business, most things don’t involve heart….In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it.”

This from the man who said he’d run the country like a business. Is he now experiencing an odd revelation or is this completely a deke, designed to make it seem like he cares?

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