Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Art of the Schlemiel

Simon Tisdale in The Guardian runs down the Hanoi summit in which the U.S. president slobbered all over the most ruthless mass murdering dictator currently on the planet and shat his pants in the process. That he is an incompetent fool is not news, but we did get confirmation that he has surrounded himself with sycophants and dilettantes and there is no longer anyone to rescue him from his idiocy.

Kim Jong Un stood to benefit from a summit with no tangible outcome by getting propaganda photos of himself hobnobbing with the U.S. president and footage of said president praising his leadership and character. Yep, the same guy who holds something like 100,000 political prisoners for crimes such as watching a South Korean movie, who murdered his own uncle with an anti-aircraft gun and who tortured an American student to death for (allegedly) stealing a poster -- oh wait, the U.S. president says that didn't actually happen, and he knows because Kim denies it.

But a competent State Department staff would have had a substantive agreement in place, ready to sign, before ever setting up a summit. That's how it's done. Apparently John Bolton had the wit to prevent his addled boss from giving away more than he did -- and he did apparently drop the long-standing demand for a full accounting of the North Korean nuclear weapons program -- but the U.S. standing in the world just took another tumble. I don't suppose the president's cultists care that the rest of the world is contemptuous of the guy they worship, but no, America isn't Great Again, it's a laughingstock. We have got to get rid of this malignant clown.  

15 comments:

Anonymous said...


Do you want to engage N Korea or do you want to go to war?


Cervantes said...

Yet another opportunity to teach about logical fallacies. This one is called a false dichotomy. Of course I don't want to go to war. I also don't want to kiss Kim Jong Un's ass and get nothing for it. I want to engage with the DPRK effectively, but that requires not being an incompetent, narcissistic fool.

Anonymous said...


NK was already on the path to war.

Calling Chairman Kim out on all of his failings (ruthless dictator, commie bastard, etc.) while the whole world is watching is a losing strategy.

Flattery costs nothing and gets you everywhere. This isn't the last meeting. There will be more negotiations.

I think Trump is playing the long game.

mojrim said...

What you say is true, but the idea of a "full accounting" of the DPRK weapons program is nothing more than a maximalist fever dream. No functioning state in full possession of its territory would ever give such a thing unless it had already agreed to give them up. Since the US still has 28,000 troops in the ROK and a state of war in place, that simply is not going to happen. Given the record of Libya and our current delusional sabre rattling vis Iran, Kim would be treasonously stupid to do so.

Cervantes said...

Anonymous, you are a fool. North Korea is not on a path to war, that would be suicidal and the last thing Kim wants is to commit suicide. And flattering him certainly isn't going to get anywhere. He's keeping his nukes because that's all he's got. There was no reason for Dump to meet with him in the first place, with no viable agreement in place. But to slobber all over him is disgusting.

Mo, it's true that the DPRK is not likely in reality to give a full accounting, but keeping the demand in place that they do so as part of any agreement seems essential. The only long game here is the hope that Kim's position domestically will weaken. This is a long and complicated story but there are reasons why previous administrations haven't been able to solve it and the current president is delusional to think that he has some sort of magical power of personality that's going to change the situation. Giving up something for nothing is not progress.

Don Quixote said...

Oh, there's an emergency because a little country has a few nuclear warheads many thousands of miles from the USA, which has thousands and thousands of nuclear warheads that it's willing to use to vaporize the little country that poses no threat because it doesn't really want to commit suicide! Emergency in N. Korea! Emergency at the Texas border! 24-hour news cycle--give us our next dose of emergency!

The only emergency is in continuation of the ruling oligarchy in the USA, which cares not a whit for life or the continued existence of Homo sapiens. Or any other species. Can you say functionally insane? There will always be people like "Anonymous" willing to jump and dance to the tune that the insane system fiddles. But open your eyes, and all becomes clear.

Bruce Cockburn's Lyrics to "Maybe The Poet"


Maybe the poet is gay
But he'll be heard anyway

Maybe the poet is drugged
But he won't stay under the rug

Maybe the voice of the spirit
In which case you'd better hear it

Maybe he's a woman
Who can touch you where you're human

Male female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see

Don't let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

Put him up against the wall
Shoot him up with pentothal

Shoot him up with lead
You won't call back what's been said
Put him in the ground
But one day you'll look around

There'll be a face you don't know
Voicing thoughts you've heard before

Male female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see

Don't let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

Anonymous said...


Cervantes,

No president has faced the issue of NK having missiles that could reach the US mainland other than Trump. NK was an issue that was easily kicked down the road in the past. Not so much anymore.

I'm grateful that the president has not ignored this problem and is attempting to engage, instead. We'll see if he is successful in the long run or not.

The short run has already been successful in halting nuke and missile testing and restoring some temporary stability to the region.

John Bachtell said...


f I had a rocket launcher, if I had a rocket launcher
If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die

--Bruce Cockburn

Cervantes said...

Sorry, but it just ain't so. Kim stopped testing because he doesn't need to -- he's already demonstrated that the stuff works. And I wouldn't lose any sleep over him attacking the U.S. As I say, he's not suicidal.

Cervantes said...

Well, that's out of context John. Cockburn's song is about the Guatemalan civil war, when the government was committing genocide against the indigenous population. Don't see what it has to do with this discussion.

mojrim said...

I'm sorry, Cervantes, but you're tripping on the same product as guys like Bolton if you think that demand is anything but counterproductive or that the Kim government is being replaced anytime soon. The entire stupid impasse, in fact the entire DPRK nuclear weapons program, is the fault of america's failed maximalist foreign policy. We had a chance to buy out the weapons program in the 90's but congress, huffing "indispensable nation" gas, refused to appropriate funds. There is a path to stability on the peninsula but it requires us to repudiate Albright & Co.

1. Recognize the DRPK as a legitimate nation-state, sign a peace treaty, and normalize relations.
2. Trade removal of US troops from the ROK for elimination of the DPRK nuclear program. Build a civil power program under IAEA supervision.

Obviously this happens in a number of smaller steps but it begins with letting go of hopeless demands as a precondition to real negotiations and recognizing that the DPRK has legitimate security concerns vis the united states.

Cervantes said...

Not really taking your point Mo. Trading removal of troops for elimination of DPRK nuke program requires providing full inventory of same, a fortiori. But yes, I think that's the only way, China isn't going to accept an agreement that doesn't include removal of U.S. troops. PRK is far more powerful than DPRK militarily and doesn't need U.S. protection sans nukes. I never said the Kim government is likely to go away soon. On the other hand I don't think a real agreement was possible in the 90s. The only thing the regime has ever cared about is self-preservation.

Cervantes said...

Of course I meant RoK, not PRK.

Mark P said...

Whatever Kim might be, he's almost certainly not stupid. He knows that the surest way to prevent the US from attacking NK is by having nuclear weapons that can hit the US. I seriously doubt the US could provide sufficient assurances that Kim would actually dismantle his missile and weapons programs. After all, even if the US removed its troops from the south, "we" could bring them back much quicker than the north could remake their weapons programs.

mojrim said...

Obviously it requires a full inventory but it's absurd to expect one prior to signing the agreement that eliminates them altogether. Aside from that I think we're in agreement. At this point those folks (with spouses and children, FFS) largely serve as a tripwire to an american nuclear response. However, the former CinC NATO gave the game away when he admitted on telle that that duty station exists to provide influence in the region more than anything else.

This is an empire problem through and through.