Trump May Be About To Make Nobody Trust The U.S.

President Poised To Disrupt Iran Nuclear Deal, Even Though Iran Is Technically In Compliance

According to the Washington Post, Trump will soon “decertify” the international deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interests of the U.S. You will hear a lot of talk about Iran not complying with “the spirit of the agreement“.

However, none of that that means the deal’s completely dead either. It’s complicated:

Congress could reapply sanctions that were lifted when the deal was made, but it’s likely they won’t right now.

Congress could potentially pass a law that lifts the requirement the President recertify the deal every 90 days, but that’s also unlikely with so little time left.

The White House could renegotiate with Iran, something Iran is already saying it won’t do.

There were some legit reasons to be against the Iran deal. Still, what Trump is doing now makes little sense. Mainly because the deal was very front-loaded. The value to Iran: the bulk of the money that it’s going to get, it’s already got. That happened when its accounts were unfrozen when it first went into effect.

Iran, Meet North Korea

If Trump decertifies it would go against the advice of his Secretary of Defense. And there’s good reason for that, because therein lies the real danger. Even if the U.S. doesn’t leave the deal fully behind, Iran could argue the U.S. is in violation, and pull out on its own.

If that happens, expect Iran to be spiteful. Ask yourself: what would you do? You negotiated a 10-year deal in good faith to not develop nuclear weapons, and you kept to that deal. (Yes you did a lot of nasty things, but they weren’t part of the deal.) Now the main party on the other side is reneging. And likes to talk about preemptive military strikes a lot. Would you continue to not build nukes? Or would you go out and build as many nukes as you could, as fast as you could? Even if you hadn’t really planned to before?

Perhaps even more significantly, moving away from the Iran nuclear deal makes the possibility of a diplomatic solution to the North Korea crisis much harder. Because why would North Korea trust the paper an agreement with Trump is written on?

Maybe Trump wants to see himself as a double-crosser in the model of Putin. (Get Ukraine to transfer all its Soviet-era nukes back to Russia, then invade Crimea). And he may get his way: coupled with his pullout from the Paris Climate Accords, nobody will have any faith in Trump sticking with any deal.

That’s not being leader of the free world. That’s abdication of that role.

Trump’s Baffling “Calm Before The Storm” Comment

At a photo-op following a meeting with military leaders, and before a dinner with them and their spouses, Trump cryptically said: “Maybe this is the calm before the storm.” He then repeated it for effect. He then smiled broadly. When a reporter asked what storm the President was talking about he replied: “You’ll find out”. Here’s the clip:

As with everything Trump it could mean nothing, or it could mean everything.

The Statement By The NRA Almost Everybody Is Characterizing As Surprising, Is Not Really That Surprising

The New York Times calls the NRA’s statement “a small but notable shift“. But while it does call for restricting the “bump stock” device likely used by the Las Vegas shooter, a close read reveals next to no change in the group’s maddeningly stubborn approach, and plenty of the distortions and half-truths it’s famous for.

There’s a very important distinction to make off the bat: the NRA is calling for regulation, not legislation. That is, while it calls on the ATF to better oversight of “bump stocks”, it actually calls on Congress to loosen gun laws.

Far from representing a real shift, it’s a simple preemptive tactic: proactively favoring tighter controls on an accessory in an effort to preempt any real discussion about regulation of firearms. Charting a course for itself and Congress where both can appear to be doing something to address the horror of the Las Vegas massacre, while not really doing anything at all.

It’s also a move to protect major gun manufacturers: they don’t make “bump stocks”. So in order to get out in front of an existential threat to the industry, the NRA is willing to turn a few doo-dad makers into sacrificial lambs. (Bloomberg points out those small manufacturers are doing very well for themselves right now with “bump stock” prices soaring on the expectation they will be banned.)

Here’s the NRA’s short statement in its entirety (if the typeface is too small on your device, their actual web page is here):

Let’s unpack it a little further:

• Item #1 “Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks. This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world.”

Not true. Australia banned automatic and semi-automatic weapons after a mass shooting there that killed 35 people. The government bought back and destroyed 650,000 guns. There have been no mass shootings since.

• Item #2 “Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions…”

Misleading. While the ATF did approve the sale of the devices during that time, President Obama also enthusiastically embraced comprehensive gun control legislation, that included making “bump stocks” illegal. It did not pass.

• Item #3 “We urge Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry reciprocity…”

Now THERE’S the NRA we know! The NRA closes out by advocating what would be one of the biggest loosening of gun control laws ever: meaning if you had a permit to carry in one state, you could cross state lines with your gun, even into states with far stricter laws.

Trump Continues Carpet Bombing Obamacare

Vox’s Sarah Kliff says as early as this morning, the Trump Administration could chop the birth control mandate from Obamacare. That means any employer could stop offering birth control coverage for virtually any reason. Birth control is one of 8 women’s preventive health benefits Obamacare required at no cost to patients. (Houses of worship were exempt from the requirement from the beginning, as were some private businesses after a Supreme Court ruling.) The upshot: many women who currently receive free birth control, will have to pay out of pocket, or stop using it.

Meanwhile the Trump Administration is foiling attempts by states to get premiums lower for their citizens next year. For instance, the Washington Post asserts Trump saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about Iowa’s innovative approach and personally ordered it shut down.

Similarly, in Oklahoma (this is Oklahoma: which Trump won by the 3rd biggest margin of any state!) the State Secretary of Health says “the lack of timely waiver approval will prevent thousands of Oklahomans from realizing the benefits of significantly lower insurance premiums in 2018.”

The Attorney General Is Supposed To Protect Civil Rights: That’s Why The Justice Department Has A Civil Rights Division

But apparently not anymore, if you’re transgender. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the Justice Department to no longer defend transgender people under a law that prevents workplace discrimination based on sex.

Here’s a link to the original 2-page memo, initialed by the AG.

It expressly instructs all U.S. Attorneys to interpret “sex” as “biologically male or female”. And just in case he’s not making his position clear enough, Sessions later writes that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964  “encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.” So there!

Slate points out that almost immediately as soon as Sessions’ memo went out, the DOJ challenged a suit against the President’s ban on transgender troops.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Remember when y’all were feeling sorry for Jeff Sessions after Trump yelled at the Attorney General and called him names and publicly humiliated him. How you feeling about that now?