Monday, April 24, 2017

Last Call For Public Enemy Number Un

It looks like the Trump regime is getting pretty serious about taking military action against North Korea, and soon.  First, Trump is pushing the UN Security Council for a new round of sanctions against Pyongyang.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday the U.N. Security Council must be prepared to impose new sanctions on North Korea as concerns mount that it may test a sixth nuclear bomb as early as Tuesday.

"The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable," Trump told a meeting with the 15 U.N. Security Council ambassadors, including China and Russia, at the White House. "The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs."

"This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not. North Korea is a big world problem and it's a problem that we have to finally solve," he said. “People put blindfolds on for decades and now it’s time to solve the problem.”

U.S. officials have told Reuters tougher sanctions could include an oil embargo, banning North Korea's airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks and other foreign doing business with Pyongyang.

The State Department said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would chair a special ministerial meeting of the Security Council on North Korea on Friday to discuss ways to maximize the impact of existing sanctions and show "resolve to respond to further provocations with appropriate new measures".

Secondly, the entire Senate, all 100 members, will be briefed on North Korea on Wednesday.

All 100 senators have been asked to the White House for the briefing by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Monday.

While administration officials routinely travel to Capitol Hill to address members of Congress on foreign policy matters, it is unusual for the entire Senate to go to the White House, and for all four of those officials to be involved.

Wednesday's briefing was originally scheduled for a secure room at the Capitol, but President Donald Trump suggested a shift to the White House, congressional aides said.

Taken together, this seems like a move designed to look for an excuse to take military action based on a "provocation" from North Korea.  In other words, Trump has found the one person who can be baited easier than he can, and the results are going to be spectacularly bad.

Should North Korea make that nuclear test however, who knows.

Tom And Bernie Must Fight, It Is The Way Of All Things

If people somehow needed more proof that the Bernie Sanders Show Featuring That Tom Perez Guy Or Whatever Tour was an abject failure, this weekend both men appeared to not-so-subtly take shots at each other.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders apparently hasn't changed his message in the least, calling the Democratic party "failing" on CBS's Face the Nation.

“I think what is clear to anyone who looks at where the Democratic Party today is, that the model of the Democratic Party is failing,” Sanders told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Sanders cited President Trump’s win, the GOP-controlled Congress, and Republican victories in state legislatures as reasons why Democrats are in trouble.“Clearly the Democratic Party has got to change. And in my view, what it has got to become is a grassroots party, a party which makes decisions from the bottom on up, a party which is more dependent on small donations than large donations,” Sanders said.

Sanders, who ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016, also emphasized the need for Democrats to connect to working-class and middle-class voters.

“The Democratic Party has got to take the lead, rally people, young people, working people, stand up to the billionaire class,” said Sanders.

“And when we do that, you’re going to see voter turnout swell. You’re going to see people coming in and running for office. You’re going to see Democrats regain control of the United States Congress.”

Nowhere in Sanders's message did he mention "black people, brown people, or women" which is I guess why he thinks it's failing.  Meanwhile, DNC chief Tom Perez fired at Sanders on Friday with a very clear statement on Democrats supporting a woman's reproductive rights.

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez became the first head of the party to demand ideological purity on abortion rights, promising Friday to support only Democratic candidates who back a woman’s right to choose.

“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said in a statement. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”

“At a time when women’s rights are under assault from the White House, the Republican Congress, and in states across the country,” he added, “we must speak up for this principle as loudly as ever and with one voice.”

Perez’s statement follows the DNC’s controversial embrace of Heath Mello, a Democratic mayoral candidate in Omaha, Nebraska, whose years-long history of voting against abortion rights in the state Legislature drew fire from progressives this week. Daily Kos, a liberal website that raises money for lesser-known Democratic candidates, pulled its endorsement of Mello this week after discovering his history on the issue, and NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue slammed the DNC for adding him to its cross-country unity tour.

“The actions today by the DNC to embrace and support a candidate for office who will strip women — one of the most critical constituencies for the party — of our basic rights and freedom is not only disappointing, it is politically stupid,” Hogue said in a statement.

So yeah, the "unity" tour was a horrible idea because the guy who refuses to be a Democrat wants the party to change, and the guy running the party has decided that the Dems need to actually start standing for something, full stop.

And away we go.

Shutdown Countdown, Trump Edition

It's that time of year again, when Congress has to get its act together long enough to pass a budget or the government shuts down.  This time around in addition to the GOP being in control of the House and Senate, Trump's a factor too.  Given that Republicans can't pass their own legislation at this point, I'm fairly certain they'll find a way to screw it up.  They've got until Friday night at midnight, or the government shuts down on Saturday -- Day 100 of Trump's regime.

Congressional leaders and White House officials have steered the nation to the brink of a government shutdown that virtually all parties agree would be a terrible idea.

While lawmakers seem eager to forge a deal before government funding expires Friday, the Trump administration wants to use the deadline as a point of leverage that Democrats — and at least a few Republicans — do not believe they have, raising the prospects of a shutdown that had seemed unlikely.

President Trump’s team is straining to demonstrate progress on key campaign promises like money for a border wall and increased military spending, hoping to project success before Mr. Trump’s 100th day in office on Saturday. But any measure will require bipartisan support, and Democrats are unlikely to budge.

The standoff continues a Washington trend, as banal now as it is nonsensical to veterans of the Capitol: legislative cliff-jumping in the name of brinkmanship, frustration or some combination thereof, with no clear endgame.

The last government shutdown was in 2013, encapsulating an era of bitter partisanship and Republican opposition to President Barack Obama. The distinction this time is that the Oval Office, Senate and House are controlled by the same party.

The confrontation also comes as Mr. Trump has said he will reveal a “massive” tax cut proposal on Wednesday and has suggested advancing a retooled version of the health care bill that failed last month in the House.

In Congress, where the completion of even one major task at a time can overwhelm its institutional bandwidth, elected officials remain highly skeptical of their own capacity to juggle successfully.

The Trump factor comes in when you figure that he's desperate for a victory after the complete and utter failure of his first 100 days, and that victory is "getting money for his wall to keep brown people out." a shutdown on Day 100 would simply be the exclamation point on his "worst 100 days ever!" award.

The most likely outcome is a punt where we just get a continuing short-term bill as nobody seems to be eager to shut down the government at the beginning of a congressional term, especially after Trumpcare collapsed.  Surprise, nobody wants to go to bat for a guy with approval ratings in the mid-30's.

Still, time is running out and a punt is not assured.  And who knows if Trump would sign it without the border bill funding?

We'll see.


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