“Rocket Man”

World Leaders Meet At U.N. This Week; Trump Sets The Stage With A Series Of Bizarre, Angry, And Misogynistic Tweets

Those Tweets and Retweets most infamously include the one we’re sure you’ve all seen by now of a doctored clip where Trump hits Hillary Clinton so hard with a golf ball that she falls over.  If not, it’s here. As well as novelist Stephen King’s scalding response.

They also include one where President Trump refers to Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man”, following North Korea’s launch of a missile last week which it crashed into the ocean, but had the distance to reach Guam:

So far, North Korea’s propaganda machine has not taken Trump’s bait. This morning, statements scolding South Korea for its ties with the U.S., but nothing aimed directly at the U.S. President. Also this morning, Reuters says the U.S. and South Korean troops ramped up a joint show of force by operating bombing exercises on the Korean Peninsula. Meanwhile, to the North, Russia and China (which share North Korea’s Northern border) conducted joint naval exercises, which Chinese news agencies insists are routine. The U.S. continues to push a harder line that it is close to running out of non-military options.

Kim Jong-un views a missile launch from a nice desk on a tarmac


All of Trump’s mad Tweeting seems like an effort to pacify his base, many of whom were angered at his breaking bread and cutting deals with Democrats last week. Something along the lines of: “I see you and all your neat stuff; I’m still playing in your sandbox!”

An enterprising reporter at Bloomberg spoke to some analyst who was willing to put a dollar figure on what Trump’s Tweets mean to Twitter’s bottom line. The number: $2-billion or nearly 20% of Twitter’s total market value. How they came up with that number is a bunch of gobbledygook (“multiple compression”, “intangible value”)… Still, Trump loved the story. He Retweeted it.

But North Korea is no joke. And that should become clear as the week moves ahead and world leaders meet for the United Nations General Assembly, which is normally a cacophony of global bombast and horrendous New York traffic jams, but might actually mean something this year. Trump speaks Tuesday.

UN General Assembly


Following last week’s missile launch it seems absolutely clear North Korea now has the ability to hit the U.S. (as we said, the missile traveled an almost identical distance as needed to reach Guam). And it has a continuing supply of a type of rocket propellant called UDMH, which is needed to ensure its missiles can travel that far. The New York Times suggests the likely source of this fuel is China, although Russia’s started making it too in the past few years.

North Koreans watch missile launch in Pyongyang

In addition to any new approaches on North Korea and climate change, world leaders will also be listening to President Trump for guidance on how he might proceed on the many outward-facing campaign promises he has not yet executed.  These include:

• Ripping up the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA

• Ripping up Iran Deal

• Ripping up Free Trade Agreement with South Korea

• Starting a trade war with China 

• Starting a trade war with the EU (or at least with German automakers)

• Moving US Israel Embassy to Jerusalem

Tread Lightly, Nikki Haley 

Reuters headline this morning: “Trump, Nikki Haley to share U.S. spotlight at U.N. gathering.” That’s the type of coverage that can be the kiss of death for a Trump cohort: ask Bannon, ask Scaramucci (she can probably visit the latter at his steak house just a few blocks away from the U.N.)

Because Trump doesn’t share the spotlight.

We are not suggesting anything’s imminent: in fact, Haley’s sidestepped a lot of Trump’s wrath despite not always publicly agreeing with him, and undisguised political ambitions.

Best Hope For Renewable Energy: The Wind’s Not Going To Stop Blowing, The Sun’s Not Going To Stop Shining

A great piece in Bloomberg suggests that many corporations are trying to move exclusively to renewables, not out of the goodness of their own hearts, or because they think it’s good marketing, but because it reduces their risk.

We recently saw how a hurricane in Texas led to a spike in gas prices as refineries and pipelines were temporarily shut down. Companies don’t want to have to deal with that. But most don’t have their own refineries. However, they can have their own wind or solar farms.

Anheuser-Busch InBev wind farm

Eric Cantor, Voice Of Reason

Remember what an obstructionist, sanctimonious jerk we all thought former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was? And how we cried no tears when he was unceremoniously ousted? Even if you don’t, it’s a real sign of how much has changed that we find ourselves cheering his ideas in an Op-Ed piece this weekend in the New York Times. He strongly urges protecting people covered under DACA, and giving them a path to citizenship.

He recounts his own experience as a warning that it may not be smooth sailing: attacked from the left for focusing only on the Dreamers and not broader immigration reform, attacked from the right for granting “amnesty” (which has become such a dirty word!)

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

Or maybe it’s not that much of a surprise that a Conservative icon would be supporting DACA. It was after all, a Republican plan to begin with. As was the basic framework for Obamacare.

Speaking Of Which…

Mainstream media woke up this weekend to something we’ve been reporting to you for weeks: the “half court buzzer beater of a health plan” that Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy are promoting, has got a shot at passing. While we don’t believe Bill Cassidy’s assertion that he’s only one or 2 votes shy right now, this is something Trump and Republican leadership really want. And if Republicans have got the votes, or close, it’ll start moving really, really fast.

The bill, at its heart, takes all the Obamacare money and sends it to states in the form of block grants to administer however they want. And cleverly, it rewards the mostly red states that did not expand Medicaid when Obamacare first came out by doling out funding on a “per person” basis, meaning they will get an equal amount for each eligible person, even if they’re not currently providing benefits. That also means it punishes the mostly blue states that embraced Obamacare wholeheartedly by sending less funding their way.

We think some of the newfound momentum is also due to:

• Republicans wanting to prove to Trump they can do right by him. Maybe then he’ll stop spending so much time with Democrats.

• Who’s Who of Democrats lining up behind Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all.” Even though it has no chance of passing, it might someday, and that can certainly be made more difficult if the federal health care bureaucracy is drastically slimmed down. This bill will certainly do that.

Interior Department’s Report On National Monuments Is Just About Done, And It’s Everything We’d Expected It To Be

The Interior Department’s argument goes like this: previous Presidents wrongly designated National Monuments because they don’t protect anything (as Teddy Roosevelt intended when he gave himself and future Presidents that power), and only serve to prevent economic activity.

So according to the Washington Post, which got a copy of the still unreleased report, that’ll mean shrinking some Monuments, and at other sites, allowing more mining, and logging, and in undersea areas, commercial fishing.

Katahdin Woods National Monument, Maine (soon to be open to more commercial logging?)

Sinclair Forces Pro-Trump Segments Into Local News

This story in the Providence Journal provides a close-up look at the impact station group owner Sinclair Broadcasting is having on a local news operation. It says the Sinclair owned station in Providence is now forced to run several segments in its nightly newscast produced for the parent company by people closely allied with Trump.

We remember editorials by station managers as a staple of early-morning broadcast TV when we were kids, but they were always identified as such. They were never presented inside a nightly newscast as “real” news. And to those that argue local newscasts should really be focused on local news, Sinclair has its own diabolical retort: running these extra segments will give local reporters more time and flexibility to cover their beats.

Something That Didn’t Happen That May Be As Important As Anything That Did

This is one of our favorite recurring segments. Today we discuss what many in the media fearfully touted as a “perfect storm” of mayhem descending upon Washington, with the pro-Trump “Mother Of All Rallies”, a promised contingent of Antifa, and–to top it all off–a rally of the Insane Clown Posse’s “Juggalo” fans, all scheduled for the same weekend.

Only nothing really happened, mainly because not that many people showed up. Attendance at the “Mother Of All Rallies” was estimated to be about a thousand at most, far shy of the million the promoters suggested. The Juggalos actually turned out in greater numbers, and had a substantial grievance: they claim they are essentially a loose-knit “family” of fans, yet are classified by the FBI as a “loosely organized gang”.