North Korea’s Missile Test This Morning Seems Designed To Prove Unequivocally It Could Hit Guam With A Missile Right Now, If It Wanted To
The missile launched from just outside the capital city of Pyongyang, crossed over Japan, and crashed into the Pacific.
It traveled farther than any missile North Korea’s launched before: almost the same exact distance as it would take to reach Guam.
South Korea reacted immediately, launching 2 smaller missiles of its own, while the North Korean one was still in the air. One landed in the ocean too, after going precisely the distance it would’ve taken to hit the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. The other one failed.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson immediately calling on China and Russia to take “direct action” against North Korea. He’s mainly talking about cutting off its supply of oil. Despite a very active morning on Twitter, Trump interestingly did not mention this launch (at least not before time of publication for this newsletter).
The Guardian has live, comprehensive coverage. The Atlantic asks: “Can America Live With A Nuclear North Korea?”
Police Say Explosion On London Underground Train This Morning Was A Terrorist Attack
And there’s speculation the device did not go off properly, causing less damage than intended. About two dozen people were hospitalized, none thought to have life-threatening injuries. Commuters report hearing a boom, and seeing a wall of fire. Several took photos of this bucket, with flames, and wires protruding. That’s what’s led to the speculation the improvised device might not have fully exploded.
Trump’s reaction? Renewed calls for a clampdown on freedoms and rights. He first Tweets the terrorists responsible for this morning’s attack were under surveillance by Scotland Yard (which as far as we know, is a detail British police have not yet shared).
He then calls for a “more specific” travel ban, and internet “cut off” for “loser terrorists”. He wraps up by comparing himself favorably to President Obama in waging war against ISIS: “Must be proactive and nasty!”
What Exactly Happened Yesterday Again?
The Condensed Version: Trump Denies He Did Deal With Dems. But Then Endorses What Pelosi And Schumer Said He Agreed To. And Then Says A Deal Is “Fairly Close”. But Then Again, Maybe Not.
Trump’s kicking up a stunning amount of dust, even by his standards. So is there a deal? Depends on your definition of a deal:
• If you consider a deal to be Trump and Democrats agreeing to work together on a second piece of major legislation, to the exclusion of Republican leadership, and deciding on the basic framework of that legislation, then the answer is yes.
• If you consider a deal to be a highly specific result of bargaining that includes when, how, how much, and what’s it going to look like, all addressed in detail, then the answer is no.
We break it down for you:
• “Chuck and Nancy” go over to the White House for a meal. While dining on Chinese food and chocolate cream pie, they hash out a framework with the President for a deal where up to 800,000 undocumented immigrants, most of whom arrived as children, can stay in the country. Quick and dirty like the President always says he’s famous for. Trump last week cancelled the Obama-era DACA program, citing a pending legal challenge led by Texas’ Attorney General. (Or rather, he let a gleeful Attorney General Jeff Sessions make the announcement; we’ll get to that).
• The top Dems emerge from the dinner to say in exchange for Trump agreeing to protect the “Dreamers”, they’d agreed to a border security funding package, but pointedly add it does not include a border wall.
• That mobilizes Trump’s base…against him. Radical Right Wing Anti-Immigration Isolationist Nationalists get very little sleep. They call him all kinds of names. They call him a “Conventional President” (whatever one may think of Trump, there is no way he will ever be a “Conventional President.”) They are right about Trump reneging on a central campaign promise: Trump pledged to do away with DACA his first day in office. Trump hears them. (Did he not realize how rabid his base is? Or did he never imagine they’d come for him?)
• Trump Tweets a denial that anything resembling a deal ever took place:
Wait a sec! We know the answer do this one: Yes! A lot of people “want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving the the military”. Really! They’re called your base! They’re called your hand-picked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom the New York Times reports stayed on in his job after you repeatedly berated and humiliated him partly because he wanted to see DACA’s trashing through.
• By now, everybody involved, and a lot of observers, are angry, hopeful, confused, or a combination of any 2 of the 3.
Enter “The Wall”
• The White House had already spoken out about the Dems contention on this:
Interestingly, a Schumer spokesperson had already gone out of his way to clarify that his boss didn’t mean to imply the President was giving up on “the wall”, just that is was not going to be part of this deal.
Trump Departs For Florida
• This is when all the wheels come off. Or get put back on. We don’t know: we’re confused too! Trump again pulls a U-ey saying yes indeed a deal with Democrats is “fairly close”. And while he asserts that deal must include a package funding “massive border security” (what Schumer and Pelosi said), he also avers that “the wall will come later“. (Also what they said). Watch it here:
At this point, Trump also contends Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are already “on board”. Although he doesn’t seem too sure about that. And it says a lot that reporters follow up by asking something along the lines of “did you actually talk to them”? (Apparently, the actual answer is he’s talked to McConnell by then, not Ryan, whom he subsequently talks to on the plane on the way to Florida). As we said, there is no way he will ever be a “Conventional President”. You can watch that part of it here:
In case you missed it above the helicopter noise and all, Trump says: “92% of the people agree on DACA.” While almost certainly a plurality, Trump’s number is well above anything we’ve seen.
Meanwhile, Republican Leadership looks really mad. If we were to base our opinion on a photo, we wouldn’t be too sure they’re “on board”.
Upon Arrival In Florida, Trump Wiggles Again: “If We Don’t Have A Wall, We’re Doing Nothing”
Now Trump says while the deal on the table does not include “the wall”, if he doesn’t get a guarantee Democrats won’t try to obstruct funding for a wall in the future, he won’t do it. He adds: “If I don’t get the wall, then we will become the obstructors.” And you can watch that here:
Epilogue (Or New Prologue?)
• What are the chances that a major piece of legislation will come out of this, and pass? We think pretty good. Why? Our main reason is something surprisingly no one else (except for John Cassidy in the New Yorker) has mentioned: the Koch brothers support DACA. While the Bannon camp derided the Ultra-Conservative masterminds as washed-up and out of touch, with Bannon gone, their influence in the White House is ramping up. Trump’s Director of Legislative Affairs, Marc Short, used to run a major political fundraising network for the Koch Brothers. And since McConnell or Ryan won’t be taking the lead on this bill, since neither of them were in on its inception, it probably falls on Short to be the point person. While the White House doesn’t seem to be in the business of writing bills these days, you know who’s very good at it? Any of a number of Koch-affiliated Foundations. And they still hold sway over a lot of old-school Conservatives. If they see Trump isn’t wavering, and won’t make them look like fools, enough of them should jump on. So the Kochs could very much be in the driver’s seat.
• What will DACA look like when and if it returns? That’s not at all certain. After arriving in Florida Trump asserts: “We’re not looking at citizenship. We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here.” But Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker says that’s not how Democrats see it. They don’t want DACA going back to the way it was before: with indefinitely renewable work permits, but no path to citizenship. They’re looking for the bill to include a path to citizenship. Otherwise, it really doesn’t sound to us like a suitable long-term fix. But just like “the wall”, maybe that comes later too.
Why Are Schumer/Pelosi Democrats Ignoring Charlottesville? Answer: They Aren’t
But instead of using it as a reason not to do deals with the President, they’re using it as an argument to get the President to do deals with them. According to the New York Times, when Chuck Schumer was pitching the DACA deal, Trump stopped him and asked him: “What’s in it for me”? Schumer’s reply? Trump’s public image was tarnished by, among other things, his “failing to unequivocally denounce anti-Semitism and racism in the wake of the Charlottesville violence”, implying he could improve it proving himself a real leader.
Except, a day later Trump again ignored the blow-back to his “on many sides, on many sides” comment on Charlottesville, taking a page out of the Steve Bannon playbook and doubling down on it, telling reporters Antifa’s also got “a lot of pretty bad dudes”. And that “since Charlottesville…a lot of people are saying…’Gee, Trump may have a point.'”
Trump’s comments follow right on the heels of a meeting with South Carolina’s Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate. After Trump’s remarks, Scott put out a statement saying, in part, “Antifa is bad and should be condemned, yes, but white supremacists have been killing and tormenting black Americans for centuries. There is no realistic comparison.”