Stalemate

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Just finished The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un, Anna Fifield’s masterful biography of North Korea’s third dictator.

Long story short, the West has underestimated his dictatorial acumen ever since he assumed power. He’s much more like his grandfather than his father, meaning especially brutal, strategic, and politically shrewd. His position inside North Korea is extremely strong.

North Korea’s economy has improved under KJU whose loosening of rules, or looking the other way rather, has freed up market activity throughout the country. Far from an “invisible hand” though, entrepreneurs have to pay off local authorities to ignore repressive laws on the books. No one is starving anymore, but some people are malnourished due to a lack of variety in their diets.

On the other hand, and most importantly, concentration-like labor camps packed with alleged political dissidents continue to operate with the same brutality. I suspect the people in those camps face the most inhumane living conditions on the planet. No one has ever been known to escape one.

And yet, President Trump shows no concern for those victims. Instead he talks of condos at North Korea’s Wonson beach resort.

Despite cozying up with KJU, the New York Times reports, “U.S. Braces for Major North Korea Weapons Test as Trump’s Diplomacy Fizzles“.

On Impeachment—It’s a Pretty Simple Calculation

Moderate Republicans (not sure I should have used the plural) are using an “inappropriate, but not impeachable” line of defense to sleep at night. But what about the True Believers? Here’s how they think:

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The ends always justify the means.

Impeachment Winners

Highfalutin Washington D.C. lawyers.

When candidate Trump promised to “drain the swamp” it sent shivers up their collective spine. How would they make ends meet at something less than $1,000/hour? Rumor has it some began playing public golf courses, others went plant-based to save on groceries, still others enrolled in certificate programs at Prince George’s Community College.

But based upon the live blogging of Michael S. Schmidt, a New York Times Washington Correspondent, it looks like D.C. legal beagles are going to be able to hang onto their Georgetown brownstones.

As the hearing slows down a bit, I’ve been doing back-of-the-envelope math on Sondland’s legal fees. He had a nine-hour deposition in October and preparation time for that. He submitted an amended statement two weeks later. Then he had more prep for today’s testimony. It is certainly over $100,000 and likely much much more.

Quotes of the Week

Steve Kerr on being singled out by the President of the (dis)United States:

“I realize the horse was out of the barn a long time on this. But for me personally, this was my experience with, wow, has the office sunken low. My hope is that we can find a mature unifier from either party to sit in that chair and try to restore some dignity to the Oval Office again, and I think it will happen.”

Randi Mayem Singer on Twitter where she has changed her name to Randi Great and Unmatched Wisdom Singer:

“BREAKING: The president is refusing to be impeached on grounds that if he were impeached, then he would be impeached.”

Ruth Whippman in a New York Times essay, “Enough Leaning In. Let’s Tell Men to Lean Out.”

“So perhaps instead of nagging women to scramble to meet the male standard, we should instead be training men and boys to aspire to women’s cultural norms, and selling those norms to men as both default and desirable. To be more deferential. To reflect and listen and apologize where an apology is due (and if unsure, to err on the side of a superfluous sorry than an absent one). To aim for modesty and humility and cooperation rather than blowhard arrogance.”

The backlash in the comments from Whippman’s male readers speaks volumes about the validity and importance of her insight.

The Bullshit Pulpit

A week ago the President of the (dis)United States tweeted, “There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have.” Who knows why he capitalized “country”, and why he always plays the victim, something Republicans are never supposed to do.

Trump often wields the phrase “in the history of our country” like Senator-to-be Stuart Smalley using self-affirmations to feel better about himself.

Trump admiring himself in the mirror. . . “Greatest President in the history of the nation.” “Accomplished more than any administration in the history of the country.” It’s like Fox News using “fair and balanced” for their slogan. Continuously repeating it doesn’t make it true.

There’s a problem with these bizarre assertions beyond their laughable inaccuracy. Trump has admitted to not reading, so where is he getting the necessary historical understanding to proclaim himself King of Kings?

The next time he spouts his “history of our country” lunacy, it would be nice to see at least one journo quiz him on what other administrations have accomplished. Rest assured, he will not get the highest score in the history of our Country.

Trump May Save My Marriage

Yesterday, as you may have noticed, the gravity of the Ukrainian/whistleblower situation compelled Trump to hold his first formal presser since forever.

Odd that the figurehead of “the most transparent administration ever” only took four questions. And LOL, he told the army of journos the type of questions he wanted.

Specifically, near the very end, he said, “An economic question. I want a question about the economy.”

Watching that I had an epiphany. The next time The Good Wife asks “if we can talk,” I’m going to say “Yes, of course.” Then I’m going full on 45.

“A popular culture question. I want a question about current movies.” Or maybe, “A sports question. I want a question about UCLA’s miraculous comeback against Wazzu.” Or “A weather question. I want a question about the forecast for this weekend.”

And then, when she tries to pivot to feelings, “Thank you, that’s all the time we have.”