What The Hell Happened In Hawaii?

In Our Lifetimes, We’ve Never Truly Feared A Missile Attack Anywhere In The U.S. (And We Are Not Millennials)

President Trump might rightfully claim he is not directly responsible for the “error” which caused residents and visitors to the islands to be informed they were under a ballistic missile attack. But he is definitely directly responsible for escalating tensions with North Korea, to the point at which an entire state could believe the alert was anything but an “error”.

A resident of Oahu put it well, as reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

“On one hand, I’m relieved there is no missile threat to Hawaii. On the other, I hate that I live in a time where my family and I believed we could be facing our demise this morning.”

As to the explanation of what happened? Still not completely clear. Apparently, according to the State of Hawaii, an emergency management employee, intending to run a missile alert test, activated an actual missile alert instead. For some reason, while Rep. Tulsi Gabbard informed subscribers to her Twitter feed that the alert was in error within 15 minutes, it took the state nearly 40 minutes to take it down.

One thing’s for sure, the event underscores an argument made by some policy-makers: who warn a nuclear war could be triggered by a mistake or misunderstanding.


About the only thing Trump did not Tweet about this weekend (at least at the time of publication of this newsletter) was the errant missile attack warning. On the one hand, we can see why he’d want to distance himself from what happened. (At the time of publication of this newsletter, only FCC Chair Ajit Pai has spoken about it on behalf of the Administration). On the other hand, Trump might have scored some points by being on hand to reassure a lot of rightfully scared people.



First-Hand Account From Maui

Our friend, Tim Mccallum writes:

“Being awoken with a cell phone warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack sure as hell shifts your frame of reference in a big hurry. Everything extraneous falls away. If you can avoid falling into panic, you will immediately understand what in this life really matters to you. And if, on a deep level, you feel as if you’ve lived your life well, you may not even be afraid. My primary emotion was gratitude for my life, tinged with sadness that there wasn’t going to be more of it. 
In my opinion, this was no fat finger accident. It was a deliberate and cynical experiment. A trial balloon opinion poll, in real time and real life, about the prospect of a limited nuclear exchange.
People running this country, both on the right and the left, and the entrenched bureaucracy, have in my opinion completely lost touch with reality.
When you’re legitimately focus grouping nuclear war, you should step down and check yourself into a mental institution.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a beach park on Maui. I’m surrounded by family and friends, my son is 4 feet away and his vegetarian grandma is feeding him his first taste of Kalua pork. Soon we will break out our instruments and play some music and sing some karaoke. When the sun gets low we’ll get in the water for an end of day swim.
Seems like in the aftermath of our existential excursion, we’re all keen on the richness of simple pleasures. People who find that trite or twee? I respectfully suggest you’ve lost sight of what life is about.
As for the cynical power-seeking maniacs currently running this country into the ground, history will rightfully bury you side by side with the other criminals of this era.
Please do try to not exterminate all of us as you vie for your self aggrandizement.”



In Washington, This Week Will Be About Laying Blame As The Government Hurtles Toward A Shutdown

If there’s no agreement (or another last minute extension) by Friday, the government will shut down.

“Not it” says Trump”:

We’re not going to preach today. Just give you a few facts to keep in mind as all sorts of convolutions and confoundments rain upon you this week:

1) Less than a week ago Trump told a room full of Congresspeople from both parties: “I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with….If they come to me with things that I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it, because I respect them.”

2) There was a deal on the table. Put there by a bipartisan group of those very Congresspeople. Would it have passed with Trump’s blessing? We’ll never know.

3) What we do know is that it was enough of a threat for the anti-immigration zealots in the White House and in Congress (adviser Stephen Miller, Senators Tom Cotton and David Purdue) to parachute into the Oval Office ahead of the bipartisan group to convince Trump those folks were up to no good.

4) Trump torpedoes the agreement (not Democrats).

5) Why? Because it helps too many people from countries he does not approve of (who also happen to be mostly non-white), stay in or relocate to the U.S., while commenting he’d gladly take people from Norway (which is about 92% white). Whether he said “shithole” or not doesn’t matter! Last night, on his way to dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Trump labeled himself (not for the first time) as “the least racist person”.




DACA Injunction Causes Trump Administration To Reopen Renewals

The fact that the Department of Homeland Security has opened DACA extension applications back up following an injunction by a federal judge might just save the government from shutting down, since a DACA solution does not seem as urgent as it did a week ago.

Here’s the wording on the DHS website:

“Due to a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.  Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.”

Remember that DACA, as it relates to the Trump Administration, is a red herring. As the judge in the case concluded (and we’ve been saying for a long time):

“One…possibility suggested by plaintiffs is that the rescission [of DACA] was contrived to give the administration a bargaining chip to demand funding for a border wall in exchange for reviving DACA. A presidential tweet after our hearing gives credence to this claim.”

The New York Times suggests a side-effect of continued rulings like these (and previously, like those against the travel ban) could cause a legal backlash that will reach all the way up to the Supreme Court. Even we can agree it seems a little unbalanced that a single federal judge can countermand an order by the President of the United States. And this approach really wasn’t used much until the Obama Presidency, when Republican State Attorneys General saw it as a means to attack Executive Orders. That’s now flipped, the Democratic Attorneys General using it to countermand Trump’s orders. But Republicans are not as likely to put up with it, as Democrats did.



Editorial: Stop It! Please, Please Stop It!

We love Axios, but stories like this one about how Republicans are almost certainly going to lose control of the House next year do nobody any good. Yes, they’re probably right. At the same time, you probably could’ve written the exact same article in January, 2016 about how Trump was almost certainly going to lose.

November is a long way off! This is no time to get complacent!

Politico more helpfully points out that although the number of Democratic Governors across all states is at a record low: just 15, change could come next year. That’s because while Republicans will be defending Governorships in 13 states that Obama won (including Maine and New Mexico), Democrats will be protecting just one state Trump won: Pennsylvania.



Trump Vs. Wall Street Journal

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported in an exclusive interview with Trump, he said “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un“. Which raised all kinds of questions including during the interview about whether Trump had been in direct contact with the North Korean leader: “I don’t want to comment on it. I’m not saying I have or haven’t. I just don’t want to comment”, he said at the time.

Now he’s calling it all “fake news”:

The Journal says it stands by its story: Trump said “I”, not “I’d”. They provided audio of the conversation, which they link to below:

Now, it’s very hard to heard the difference between “I” and “I’d”. However there’s no confusing the fact that in the interview Trump is being deliberately coy about his relationship to North Korea’s leader. When the Journal asked him about the combative (we’d say childishly demeaning) tone of his Tweets aimed at Kim he replies:  “Sure, you see that a lot with me and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples.” So we’re solidly with the Journal on this one. (Note also that Trump mispronounces the name of Japanese Prime Minister Abe, which under another administration might’ve cause an international incident, but now just floats by, unnoticed).