Tough Talk, Delusion And Realpolitik

Tough talk and delusionary braggadocio evidently play well with GOP “true believers,” but people who actually know something about diplomacy and international relations can tell the difference between actually accomplishing something and putting on a reality TV show.

In the wake of the hyped summit between Trump and “little rocket man,” the analysis from knowledgable folks of both parties has been pretty devastating.

In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof summarizes the summit in his very first sentence, writing that  “It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.”

Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.

Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.

And what did our President–the self-proclaimed “deal-maker” who had no need to prepare for delicate international negotiations and who would “feel” how things would go within the first minute or so–get in return?

In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.

Had Trump prepared for the meeting, perhaps he would have known that the commitment he is trumpeting is recycled pap. For that matter, Kristof notes that Trump achieved much less than North Korea had agreed to during prior negotiations.

The most remarkable aspect of the joint statement was what it didn’t contain. There was nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

Kim seems to have completely out-negotiated Trump, and it’s scary that Trump doesn’t seem to realize this.

What is truly scary, as Paul Krugman points out in his own analysis of Trump’s abysmal performance at both the G7 and the meeting in Singapore, is the complicity of the congressional GOP.

As he notes in his introduction, there is no longer a question where Trump’s “loyalties” lie; any reasonable doubts about that were “put to rest by the events of the past few days, when he defended Russia while attacking our closest allies.”

[T]his isn’t a column about Trump. It is, instead, about the people who are enabling his betrayal of America: the inner circle of officials and media personalities who are willing to back him up whatever he says or does, and the wider set of politicians — basically the entire Republican delegation in Congress — who have the power and constitutional obligation to stop what he’s doing, but won’t lift a finger in America’s defense….

Krugman joins the chorus of commentators who have pointed out that Trump’s accusations about trade with Canada have been debunked by his own administration. GOP members of Congress know that he is manufacturing this dispute.

Why are Republican politicians unwilling to discharge their constitutional responsibilities? Relatively few of them, one suspects, actually want a trade war, let alone a breakup of the Western alliance. And many of them, one also suspects, are well aware that a de facto foreign agent sits in the Oval Office. But they are immobilized by a combination of venality and cowardice.

Venality because the GOP prioritizes tax cuts for its donors over the common good; cowardice because the Republican base continues to drink Trump’s Kool-Aid.

It’s hard to disagree with his conclusion.

What all this tells us is that the problem facing America runs much deeper than Trump’s personal awfulness. One of our two major parties appears to be hopelessly, irredeemably corrupt. And unless that party not only loses this year’s election but begins losing on a regular basis, America as we know it is finished.


  1. As Mika said on “Morning Joe” during a discussion about Trump, “No one can do nothing better than him.” What a great tee shirt and bumper sticker slogan: “No one can do nothing better than Trump”.

    Bringing the Republican lack of action to a local level; thanks to the help of 8 or 9 Democratic City County Councilors, the requested IPL rate hike (2nd one in 18 months) has been denied. Not one Republican came forward. Again, it was the Democratic City County Councilors who submitted a proposal to stop all sales of assault level weapons; this was defeated by the Republican Councilors whose spokesman claimed their reason was, (paraphrased) no one knows exactly what assault weapons are.

    We are in the middle, being assaulted by Republicans on all sides and all levels of government; they have tightly circled their wagons around us, we are under siege.

    “Why are Republican politicians unwilling to discharge their constitutional responsibilities? ” Quite simply; because they CAN, the Constitution states they have the power to act to protect this country from one such as Trump…it does NOT REQUIRE THEM TO USE THAT POWER. Locally; Republicans are working against our Indiana State Constitution as are all other Republican states. Their actions against or refusing to use state Constitutions to protect their constituents gives them a firm foundation which supports Congress. And Trump, with full Congressional support, continues to heap adoration on our enemies and alienates our one-time strong allies.

    “Venality because the GOP prioritizes tax cuts for its donors over the common good; cowardice because the Republican base continues to drink Trump’s Kool-Aid.”

  2. “And unless that party not only loses this year’s election but begins losing on a regular basis, America as we know it is finished.”

    What’s the big deal? Why are Kristof and Krugman making such a big deal over what is now apparent, the eventual loss of America’s Bill of Rights? What’s stopping states, like for example Mississippi, from adopting their own Bill of Rights? What’s the problem with that scenario?

    Is Shelia just making a mountain our of a mole hill?

  3. “What all this tells us is that the problem facing America runs much deeper than Trump’s personal awfulness.”

    Yes. But something must be proposed and followed up on by the Dems for the disaffected Trump voter. Between 1999-2017, 6M manufacturing jobs were lost in America or about a third. And this contributed significantly to overall wage stagnation and income inequality. (See: “Staying the Invisible Hand” in the New York Review of Books June 28, 2018) Some sectors and communities were hit especially hard. Furthermore, rural America lays in ruins- neglected, undeveloped and starved in resources.

    Trump lied to them but at least (from their perspective) he spoke to them and purportedly for them. The Dems need a vision and some bold initiatives. They need to show they care as much about them and their problems as any other group in society. They haven’s done that.

    Trump won’t be beat by his personal awfulness; Hillary’s campaign strategy proved that.

  4. Let’s face it. The Republican Party has made their decision. Liberal democracy and White Power are not a good mixture. One or the other has to go. I wonder which one? It looks like to me, at this point, there’s at least a 50/50 chance that Donald Trump is going to be hailed as the father of what will be called: The New America.

    I wonder, will George Washington University be forced to change its name?

  5. I’ve made phone calls. I’ve written letters. I’ve sent e-mails. I’ve joined protests and marched. And now I anxiously await November to vote. But there must be more I could do… more we all could do. Now, this summer.

    How about a bit of ridicule for the Republican leadership and its base? How about some Kool-Aid for the cult? Those little packets you can buy at the store say, with Trump’s name clearly written on the face of them, sent to the Republican of your choice. Such a humiliation may do little or nothing…. except spread a bit of a smile on your face and mine.

  6. Since they own most of the guns, why should the Republican Party and their supporters worry much about a REVOLUTION? A financial depression, loss of our allies, martial law, climate control out the window, are nothing to worry about?

    This should all be clear by November. Why shouldn’t the opposition just wait and see? What’s the big hurry?

  7. I had a thought about WHY people (who at one point did NOT seem nuts), are now willing to go along with all things Trump.
    What if:
    Perhaps Trumps friends in the Soviet spy agency have started using their data on American political figures to force them into going along with the Trump/Russia plans.
    Do they have something on Paul Ryan, for example, that could be keeping him quiet?
    Just a theory but It COULD explain some of this.
    They probably DO have files on many Americans.
    From the Russia/Trump point of view, this would be a good time to USE that data.

  8. Which one of those educated men said this:

    “One of our two major parties appears to be hopelessly, irredeemably corrupt.”

    This kind of political rhetoric in 2018 is the problem with this country. Depending on the channel you tune to reinforce your biased beliefs, the other party is corrupt and killing off America’s democracy experiment.

    I see the same bunk on social media…the 99% attacking each other over the righteousness of one political party while attacking the other. Divide and conquer.

    Our political system is corrupted by money…both parties have sold out the people. This means we don’t have a democratic system or a republic. Our government doesn’t serve the people…it serves their donors. The USA is nothing more than a Fascist State – a merger of corporate interests and government.

    I believe Gerald and Marv were discussing RICO cases…the Supreme Court made it legal to bribe public officials. The USA is a RICO case. Justice Scalia wrote, “There is no clear evidence of reciprocity between donor and politician.”


    Our free press, the Fourth Branch of our government, should be dissecting Citizens United (RICO) cases all across the United States in print, airwaves, and television. Instead, crickets.

    Those who are holding our corrupt players accountable are censored and placed on a Fed’s list of “disruptive elements” within society. Disruptive to who, EXACTLY??

    This country was a failed experiment a long time ago…the role of our media run by the entertainment complex is to create a reality show for people to watch. It’s all a facade while the thieves extract trillions from the people.

    So, which corrupted department of our government (ran by political appointees) are going to bring RICO charges on the cabal running our country?

    For those who have the app on their phone, Indiana is under an “Air Quality Alert” this weekend due to high temps and calm air flows. The warnings address what we citizens can do to reduce our impact on the ozone. No mention at all about the four super polluting coal-burning plants in Indiana. You would think our Governor and IDEM would be screaming bloody murder about how these carbon-burning facilities are killing their constituents. Crickets.

    Our version of a representative republic is our politicians and government representing corporate interests…look at the Koch’s and Duke Energy donations to Indiana politicians. And those who protest the destruction of our air and environment are arrested by the police for “breaking the law”. The journalists who write about the truth get placed on a list shared amongst our Federal government.

    “What a strange world we live in…Said Alice to the Queen of hearts” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

  9. patmcc; I have said repeatedly that we need to know WHY the Republican party dumped 16 qualified Republican possible presidential candidates so quickly and pushed Trump and his Fascist, White Nationalist campaign foundation on the country? It is a strong possibility that the Trump/Russia connection is the basis. Possibly Robert Mueller will dig out the the money sources and destinations because we know “Follow The Money” is the basic foundation with this group. Probably known and planned for prior to and the reason for enacting Citizens United.

    Here in Indiana the ugly untrue rumor campaign by Republican candidate Braun against Senator Donnelly has begun. Blaming Donnelly outright for the outsourcing of Indiana jobs to Mexico. The nation watched as president-elect Trump with president-elect Pence at his side state they had saved those 1,400 jobs at Carrier Division, paying them $6 million of our tax dollars to maintain the jobs in question. Within 2 months almost every one of those jobs were gone, no mention of UTEC who soon after Carrier’s outsourcing followed suit. Senator Donnelly did own stock in Stewart Superior who outsourced jobs to Mexico; he sold his stock in that company on August 11, 2017 and the proceeds from that sale went to local charities. He maintained stock profits he had earned prior to the outsourcing – and why not? We must keep track of our local political races and take time to research the ugly accusations which will be forthcoming – they are starting early here in Indiana with Republicans dumping millions into Braun’s campaign. IF – and it is IF – Senator Donnelly is reelected, will he remain the Republican party’s favorite Democrat in the Senate or will he grow a pair and begin to fight for democracy and uphold the Constitution as he promised when he took his oath of office?

  10. One of the mistakes HRC admitted to during her campaign was use of the word “deplorables”. Perhaps it was a political mistake, there’s no way to tell, but I’m not so sure that it was a error in terms of accuracy.

    What we have to ask though is why did the country sort itself out in the way that it did over the last 3 or 4 decades? I have to believe that over the first half of my life R’s and D’s were pretty interchangeable. What dragged roughly half of our culture one way and left the other half unaffected?

    I have posited here over time that it was oligarchical propaganda broadcast over entertainment media, which certainly had an impact, but why did one party fall for it so hard while the other party pretty much shook it off? Again, I’ve thought the split could be explained as the ends of a personality scale from liberal to authoritarian with authoritarians anxious for power, especially now when their apple cart seemed to be overturned by a world moving exorably towards collaboration replacing competition, equality over diversity and devisiveness.

    “Branding” of course is a marketing strategy and the would be oligarchs behind this PR campaign would be pretty proficient in it, in fact we’d have to count it as among the skills of a group accomplished in wealth concentration their way. They built the brand “deplorable” to define a culture of those who valued separation, authority, position, exclusion, entitlement, in short, power, and gave it a theme of “freedom lovers”. (That was actually a well tested effective theme from the beginning of the last century by Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, who convinced the whole female gender to revolt against established norms then by calling cigarettes “torches of freedom” thus enslaving them with freedom.)

    The key word to unleash this brand a la the movie “The Manchurian Candidate” was “overreach”. Reflexes were trained into them such that when they heard that word their knee jerk unthought fear and anger reflex was “freedom” = power for them but unspoken was the power behind the words for oligarchs by less government regulation.

    Lately I’ve thought that the ad campaign has moved into another phase typified by the always confusing “virtue signaling” thus making being deplorable honorable by not living a life requiring you to tell people that you have good intentions, that you are morally motivated.

    Like all cultural changes what’s been brought about appears as normal for us. It’s how people like us do things. That means the world is stuck with American deplorables for the foreseeable future. It’s who half of us are.

    We’re stuck with them but I’ll bet we can still outvote them now that we are awake.

  11. Pete,

    “We’re stuck with them but I’ll bet we can still outvote them now that we are awake.”

    I wonder, what good will that do by November? At the rate we’re going, voting might be a thing of the past by then.

  12. Why would North Korea give up their Nukes and ICBMs?? The North Koreans can look back and see what happens to countries when the USA is determined to make a regime change. The installation of the Shah in Iran in 1953. The best estimate is 3.5 million South East Asians killed or missing during the Vietnam War. We – The USA- dropped more bombs on South East Asia during the Vietnam War than in all of WW 2.

    The USA invaded Iraq under Bush the Younger under false pretenses – the WMD’s, that were never found. By the way Hillary voted with Bush the Younger to give Bush the legal right to invade Iraq. Millions of Asians dead, wounded, missing or refuges as a result.

    It was decided somewhere during the Obama Regime, that Qaddafi in Libya needed to be taken out. You can watch Hillary here cackling – Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died. A despicable performance by any normal standard, except the standards set by the USA. Libya today is fractured by fighting.

    I will not list the numerous countries in Latin America that were subjected by USA to Regime Change.

    So why would Kim Jong-un, give up his Nukes and ICBMs??? Trust the USA, not a good idea.

  13. Yes, neither party is perfect, just as no person is perfect, but only one of our two major parties is blatantly dismantling our Constitution and disrupting the rule of law that we have counted on from the beginning of our country. Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein wrote, “It Really Is Worse Than It Looks,” in 2011. In that book they said that the biggest contributor to our decline was the Republican Party.

    So you can spend your time pouting about how bad the Democratic Party is. You can refuse to vote for a Democrat Are you prepared for what follows?

  14. also, we may be witnessing the n koreas stage to come onto the world market,im sure kim is tired of black market and getting little for his money. though we all look at the news,and china,when they,petitioned for free trade,the wto bent over backwards just for the population involved. we seen russia dump thier crap of communism for market trade. like kim, western educated,hes laughing at trump,not agreeing. he has the wto in his pocket,and pompeo looking like a smug ass,,,,. if you forego the rehtoric,and look at money over kims arsonal,maybe you would see that,hes claimed his fame,like trump in front of his people,and now he can move to the end of a war,get a handshake from moon,and a smile with chinas might. i see us being kicked to the curb here,after this is all smoothed out. and china,would like nothing better than to have the asian mainland,boot our warmongering mind out of the western pacific. trump is a puppet,and hes just the useful idiot he is. if any other president was here at this time and place i believe this still would have become as mentioned above,without a useful idiot…. imagine,a trump hotel in n korea,sick…one point, when we sanctioned n korea,on coal and fuel,russia was sending it back channel. read the news,not the rhetoric..

  15. Paul Krugman >>.”One of our two major parties appears to be hopelessly, irredeemably corrupt. And unless that party not only loses this year’s election but begins losing on a regular basis, America as we know it is finished.”<<> IF- Senator Donnelly is reelected, will he remain the Republican party’s favorite Democrat in the Senate or will he grow a pair?? The answer is No. He had what 5 1/2 years to show us what he is made of. Well I guess in sense Donnelly has shown us what he is made of.

    So – one party is hopelessly, irredeemably corrupt. What is the response from the other party??? Nothing of substance. The Corporate-Establishment- Democratic Party decided early on to fight the next war (election), using the same strategy, which is opposition to Agent Orange, even though that strategy was a loser.

    What are the unifying principles or platform of the Democrats?? Who knows, it is certainly not Universal Heath Care or Single Payer. It is not free higher education. It is not backing the Unions.

  16. “I will not list the numerous countries in Latin America that were subjected by USA to Regime Change.”

    Monotonous; the 1999 Freedom of Information Act uncovered many of these USA interferences into Latin American and other countries. One of the most heinous stories was of American Charles Horman and his wife, Joyce, being caught up the 1973 Chilean Coup. Part of their story is on Wikipedia. Per Wikipedia, “It is unlikely Horman would have been killed without a green light from the CIA, according to papers released in 1999 under the Freedom of Information Act. Efforts to determine his fate were initially met with resistance and duplicity by the U.S. Embassy officials in Santiago.” Thousands were killed, many never identified and the number of Americans is unknown; so our interference also results in deaths of Americans not in a war situation we are officially involved in. This was during the Nixon administration while we were distracted by his criminal activities here.

  17. When I read the political news daily I read about several Congressional Democrats doing everything that they can to prevent the destruction that the Executive Branch is currently trying everything that they can to leave in their wake.

    On the other hand Congressional Republics almost to a person seem to have taken their direction from Nero so long ago and are fiddling as the capitol burns.

    My intention coming up is to repeal and replace the Republicans who who seem to be mere hands content to just watch the ranch burning.

    Let’s see, who can we replace Republicans with?

  18. Marv @ 9:21 am >> “CAPITULATION”

    You are so right. Cowardice and betrayal in the face of the enemy and hope that Robert Mueller can pull a rabbit out the hat. It is mind boggling the gross ineptitude of the Democratic Party -item the DNC Lawsuit against Wikileaks, Trump Campaign and some Russians. I suppose the high command at the DNC thinks this stupid lawsuit is going to rally the voters -HURRAH.

  19. The Indiana republicans are following their gas tax increase to fund transportation infrastructure with a donor-conducted “study” for making all interstate highways toll roads. It’s only been a few months since they assured us that it was necessary to restore our roads. Of course when the study shows the benefits of tolling, the next step will be to privatize the tollcollections by hiring another donor or friend of Mitch Daniels to run those operations. It’s running all out on all levels and the drowsy voters need to start looking out for themselves.

  20. “…Donald Trump is going to be hailed as the father of what will be called: The New America.”

    We are headed in that direction. Trump has most of his armory staged and ready to take over. He expects and awaits the trigger, which will be activated the instant he is prosecuted/impeached. He is ready to resist his removal, a move Nixon wanted to make but was not prepared to make. But Trump is prepared…or very nearly prepared. He has a brutal base much larger and more dangerous than Nixon’s or Hitler’s to enforce his move on the street. He has moved sympathetic Generals into positions of greater power ready to protect Trump’s takeover in the event some western country tries to intervene against his coup. He has cowed the fourth estate and is in the process of remaking it into a National Reeducation Department. He is almost finished bringing the justice department to heel. And he has loaded the Supreme Court so that it will support his coup.

    All hail the king we who…

  21. Larry,

    “Trump has most of his armory staged and ready to take over.”

    You’re right. But what will be left when Trump accomplishes his mission. It will be an America without a WORTHWHILE FUTURE. Isn’t that what he is marketing? He’s preaching to a choir of fools. What they really need is a strong dose of reality, but who is going to administer the dose?

    One thing for sure, it won’t be the DNC led Democratic Party.

  22. All this is very enlightening and many of you are making excellent arguments. But the only thing you must do from now until Trump and Pence are out of office is to vote the democratic ticket from top to bottom. Not because the democrats are perfect of even good in all casse, it is because if the democrats do not take over at least the House, our country as we know it will end. It is just that simple. Continue to debate amoung yourselves, it is enlightening and educational, but you must vote straight democrat until Trump and Pence are gone.

  23. Amen Charlie. Congressional Republicans and many Trump appointees to federal courts are unwilling to be a check and balance on the abuses of power by the Trump administration.

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