Over The Holidays, We Overheard A Lot Of Chitchat In Diners, Barber Shops, Coffee Shops Outside Of Major Metropolitan Areas, And It Was Encouraging…
Long before The Chaos Report existed, long before the 2016 election, one of our editors wrote a blog post saying they thought Trump might have a good chance of winning. It was largely based on a conversation they’d overheard in a rural diner, where a group of men was chatting about “if he could deal with the unions in New York City and still build skyscrapers, he’ll be able to deal with the mess in Washington”. And another at a small-town barbeque where a very sweet genteel lady said “I really dislike Trump, but what choice do we have: Hillary’s just so terrible?!”
Now the talk (at least the talk we heard these past 2 weeks) has completely shifted. And we can sum it up in two general statements (we are summarizing and paraphrasing perhaps a dozen conversations):
• “I thought he’d be tough and get things done, but he’s just plain cruel. There’s a difference between tough and cruel”.
• “I like that he’s shaking things up. But I am sick and tired of all this fresh chaos, these Tweets, every single day.”
Now, in both cases, maybe it was just dumb luck on our part, and we picked two exceptional days to eavesdrop. Or perhaps there were Hillary supporters in the bunch two years or so ago that were just too bashful or confident to speak up, and maybe there were Trump supporters in the bunch we listened to the past couple of weeks who were similarly muffled. But we don’t think so: in both cases the sentiment was so clearly stated and singular.
There’s a great story in Politico Magazine that comes to a couple of conclusions:
• “When it comes to Trump and the world, it’s not better than you think. It’s worse.”
• “At some point you have to sort of stop saying, you know, ‘This is terrible, it shouldn’t be this way.’ It is this way.”
And part of the point of the story is the insiders and diplomats who are interacting with Trump really don’t have the power to change anything, or do anything about him, or stop him from pulling the rug out from under them on a whim.
It’s the people in the diner, barber shop, coffee shop who do have the power to stop him. They were the ones who got Trump elected. And they’re the only ones who can undo it. Who even knows if they’ll still feel that way in 2020? But as a very unscientific sample of sentiment in 2018, it’s a hopeful start.
South Korea’s Been Calling North Korea; Today North Korea Calls Back
They didn’t talk about much of anything. They just checked the line out, which hasn’t been used in 2 years, and then called it quits for the day. South Korea’s been trying to use the line since yesterday to talk to North Korea about scheduling a face-to-face meeting for next week in a room the countries have set up for that purpose in the DMZ. But until today, North Korea had not answered.
The phone call comes after a New Year address in which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he’d like to talk about the North Korean Winter Olympic team (which is really just 2 figure skaters) participating in the Olympics, which are in South Korea in about a month. He also suggested they could talk about other things, too.
The test calls come after Trump posted a Tweet referring to that same New Year address, in which Kim also stated “It’s not a mere threat but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office….All of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike”.
Reuters says U.S. officials are accusing North Korea of trying to drive “a wedge of some sorts” between South Korea and the U.S., and the U.S. will not take any unilateral talks seriously unless they’re focused on nuclear disarmament. The South Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper takes it one step further: saying the hotline simply allows the North to buy time so it can complete more nuclear missile tests.
Still, we don’t think Trump had those political considerations in mind when he Tweeted. The first thought we had when we heard Kim’s statement was “Trump’s gonna want his own bigger button“. We’re surprised it took him a whole day to reply.
Trump Starts The New Year Off Tweeting About Everything Else Too
The President didn’t waste any time jumping back on Twitter upon his return to D.C. following his lengthy winter interlude in Florida.
Iran: Huge anti-government protests in Iran have so far resulted in the deaths of more than 20 people and hundreds of arrests. Trump’s Tweeted several times condemning the Iranian regime.
According to Reuters, Iran is accusing the U.S., U.K. and Saudi Arabia of fueling the riots, which were sparked by sudden steep inflation. The White House called those accusations “nonsense”.
Still, it reminded us of what Trump Tweeted when U.S. citizens were protesting him:
Israel-Palestine Peace Talks: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence when he visits later this month, after Trump announced he’s moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. So Trump’s now threatening to cut off aid (which comes from the U.S. mainly in the form of payments to a U.N. agency focused on Palestinian refugee relief):
DACA: Democrats swore they’d move before Christmas on helping children of undocumented immigrants, many who have been in this country all their lives, stay. However, they didn’t. And with a government shutdown again looming, Trump and Republicans are posturing in an effort to coerce Democrats into negotiating away other stuff they want in order to get something Trump and many Republicans actually also want.
Goodbye Orrin Hatch, Hello Mitt Romney?
Despite efforts on the President’s part to get him to stay, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch won’t run for reelection. Hatch, who will celebrate his 84th birthday before he retires, has been in the Senate since 1977.
It’s widely expected that Mitt Romney will run for his seat, which should be interesting, and fun. You’ll remember the President publicly humiliated Romney when he lobbied Trump for the Secretary of State position (despite having been on the receiving end of some very mean Trump Tweets).
Will this be Romney’s opportunity for revenge? (He’s criticized Trump pretty regularly since). Or did Romney’s falling for Trump’s initial sucker-punch already prove himself incapable?
Guess we’ll probably find out. Because either way, Fivethirtyeight shows Romney with an outrageously huge chance of winning. They say: “If Romney runs, he’d be as big a favorite as favorites get”.
The Atlantic has a look at how many Senators and Representatives have announced they won’t run for reelection or will run for a different office this year. So far: 30 Republicans, 16 Democrats.
And two new Democratic Senators will get sworn in today at around noon: Doug Jones, who beat Republican Roy Moore in Alabama, and Minnesota’s Tina Smith, who’s replacing Al Franken.
Term Of The Day: “Bomb Cyclone”
The Washington Post says think of it as a “winter hurricane”, bringing a huge storm to the entire East Coast, with the potential for hurricane force winds and blizzard conditions in Eastern New England tomorrow. Already, the whole country’s been in a deep freeze for several days, with every single state showing some location below freezing, and very South Florida and California being the only places with relatively normal temperatures.
This model shows the worst of the storm thankfully staying way offshore, but high wind gusts still a strong probability:
Trump Also Takes All The Credit For Nobody Dying In A Plane Crash Worldwide Last Year
Was this a reference to his Administration’s temporary ban on laptops in the cabins of some airlines after getting “great intel” about a terrorist threat involving laptops? You know, the one he told the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador about in the Oval Office? And then said he never said it was Israel that gave him the intel, so then we all knew it was Israel (which we all already kinda knew anyway…)?
Or does he just think no planes are crashing because “Trump”?
Let’s try to answer this:
• If Trump’s been so “strict” why hasn’t he named a replacement for FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, an Obama appointee who Trump has been highly critical of for being “not a pilot”, and not knowing “what the hell” he is doing? Huerta’s term is up in just a couple of days.
• If Trump’s taking credit for the air traffic system currently in place, why’s he trying to completely tear it down? Unless he’s changed his mind since this summer, Trump’s siding with a plan supported by airlines in which air traffic control would be overseen by airlines, not the government.
Finally, we really liked this response from the actor, Bryan Cranston: