Out-Crazying Kim Jong-Un–What Could Go Wrong?

Trump’s apparent use of “madman theory” logic to get his way (whatever that is on any given day) on healthcare probably won’t intimidate Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer.  Will Trump-as-madman succeed any better on the Korean peninsula?  Are we the people ready for an American president who can actually out-crazy Kim Jong-un?  We elected him.  We knew that no-drama-Obama was getting old.  We wanted a little excitement.  How much excitement?  That’s what China is wondering!  Their foreign minister just put our president on the same level as Kim by urging “all parties” to stop “provoking” each other. Should we blush with embarrassment?  Trump, who says he comprehends very well, listened to Xi Jinping explain thousands of years of Korean history in ten minutes (or less, believe me) and now grasps very very well how to put America first by using the craziest words and threatening to use the biggest bombs.  And why worry that Kim might be even more unpredictable than our president?  North Korea has an excellent system of checks and balances, many people say.  Their National Security Council is far more fully staffed than ours, so I hear.  Their family dynasty, as Mr. Xi no doubt explained to his U.S. counterpart, is much more experienced than ours.  So they will surely do the right thing.  Oh right, we still have to worry about Trump–oops.

Obama to Us: Make My Day

In or near Silicon Valley today, just a short copter ride away from Harry Callahan’s SF, President Obama said he was tired of all the fear-mongering over Obamacare. Then he let all of us know that he did not “want the whole day to be a bleeding press conference.” And then he took a question or two about secret surveillance and told us that if we did not realize that “the folks you all vote for as your representatives in Congress” were on top of this, and that if they weren’t there were federal judges with life tenure looking over their shoulder, and that “if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.” Kind of makes me feel (to switch movie references) like I can’t handle the truth!

President Obama says “I welcome this debate.” (Ezra Klein asked if Obama might actually be the leaker. Very funny? But the creepily named Palantir operation is right down the road from where he was speaking–coincidence?) Furthermore Mr. Obama is within his rights, as it were, to point to “tradeoffs” between safety and privacy, whether or not he thought he could transcend such tradeoffs when he was a younger man or younger President. But when he complains about information being leaked “willy nilly” he reminds us precisely why there is a trust problem. We are mature, serious, conscientious blah blah. . . Those leakers are infantile, unstable, DSM-5 material. Is that so? Problems indeed.