Ronald Reagan’s Missing Overcoat


Dennis Sanders

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Aaron David says:

    I am sorry Dennis, but this is an assinine post.

    Did Trump get something, not get something, we don’t, and can’t, know at this time. Only history will tell. But, it keeps talks going. And you have to start somewhere.

    To keep the dialog going, you have to talk. It might not go anywhere, as that is just how life works. But if you do want it to go somewhere, you have to put a foot forward. After 70 odd years, there is going to be a whole lot to unwind, to get clear on, and this will not be a simple matter of being offered a raincoat. Indeed, to bring North Korea into the fold might not happen as long as Kim is in charge, but we still need to show we are the more generous people. And this might take humility, a humbleness.

    And let us be clear here, I am not coming at this from some place of love for this, or any president. But I am also not blinded by hate, which this post seems to be.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    Good post Dennis. What is one of the most absurd thigns about T’s meetings with Kim is how he seems to have completly cut the South Korean’s out of it. Granted seeing everythign as all about the US, happy 4th everybody, is an American tradition. But we aren’t actually the primary player there. It is SK and NK who are the players, we a supporting actor. Going by himself makes any agreement inherently less likely since the SK’s aren’t part of it. Nor is there view or voice even heard among the chattering ijits that make up most of the press. But Kim ain’t making any deals with us without knowing what SK is going to do and what he is getting from them. They are his primary foe. NK isn’t going to attack us nor are they a remote threat to us. They sable rattle for attention which they have been given. And if there was ever a clear statement to every dictator that getting a nuke will make you super powerful this is it.Report

  3. Avatar George Turner says:

    Trump didn’t drop in on North Korea to make a deal, he dropped in to re-open contacts because it seemed Kim was sliding backwards, having recently launched some shorter range missiles, while North Korea’s harvest has failed abysmally, creating a threat of severe famine.

    The importance of the visit is to make sure Kim’s impression of Trump comes from chatting with Trump at length, and not from some wacko set of delusional North Korean generals, advisers, and foreign analysts who, even if they had some grasp of the outside world, certainly wouldn’t reveal it to their superiors.

    Trump wasn’t making a sell, he was making a “customer service” visit like any good salesman. “Keep us in mind, because we love you and we’ve got great deals!” Always be closing.Report

    • Avatar Stephan Cooper in reply to George Turner says:

      So in your preferred narrative, Trump is the new shitty salesman who burning effort to land a marginal account while the large existing client base his predecessors built up are being ignored, insulted and becoming disgruntled.

      Sounds like you boys landed yourself a real winner down there.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stephan Cooper says:

        On the day Trump took office, Obama told him that North Korea had been his most pressing and intractable problem. North Korea was testing nuclear weapons and long range delivery systems with abandon. We were headed toward a large conventional or medium sized nuclear war.

        By the time the 2020 campaign is in full swing, Pyongyang will probably be filling up with US fast food franchises.Report

        • Avatar Stephan Cooper in reply to George Turner says:

          Probably implies a likelihood greater than 50%. How much money would you stake on a bet on those odds, friend?Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stephan Cooper says:

            NBC news obtained a CIA report stating that Kim wants a US burger franchise in Pyongyang, probably a McDonald’s, which Kim thinks Trump will see as a concession and sign of goodwill.

            The actually already have one US burger franchise in their capital, a Waffletown based out of Virginia Beach, but it was started by a man from Singapore. None of the locals had ever seen a hamburger, and they don’t have a name for it yet.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to George Turner says:

              I wonder if Kim understands that Facebook would destroy his country?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I used to think “any country that could be destroyed by Free Speech should be!” and, as such, my first thought for your comment here was “Any country that could be destroyed by Facebook should be!”

                And then I realized that, yeah, in a handful of worst-case scenarios for the USA over the next couple of years, they all have Facebook somewhere in there.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                Picture someone in NK posting “today was a really great day, we’ll remember it for a very long time, everyone in my family had enough to eat!”

                And then someone in SK says “dude, that happens every day here!”

                That kind of comparison probably makes the US look pretty good, thus the immigration issue.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter says:

                No obesity crisis, though.

                If you look at the photo essays of the country, everybody is fit.

                Their carbon footprint is also much better per capita than the average person in the US.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Dark Matter says:

                NK could keep Facebook under control because the police sometimes round up everyone in a village and search them for thumb drives and other forbidden Western technology. Those caught in possession of such materials are generally never seen again. Most are probably fatally starved and tortured in the North Korean death camps.

                Occasionally dissidents manage to smuggle out videos of the roundups and lectures, which look like something out of a WW-II movie where the Gestapo lectures the villagers before having a few shot to make an example.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner says:

          If Obama told Trump that he was completely wrong. We are not in danger of war with NK. They aren’t going to attack us. Heck they aren’t going to attack SK. They do not have a suicide wish. They saber rattle for attention and to make the weak kneed nervous. China is our major long term potential advisory. NK is a largely contained dictatorship with no ability to project power farther then a few tens of miles into SK before they get crushed and offer a distant threat they can only use if they want to be annihilated. Heading towards a war?!….JFC…it would be laughable if suckers weren’t warping policy around it.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to greginak says:

            So what were the Democrats screaming about when Trump was calling Kim “Rocketman”?

            Oh, I remember.

            South China Morning Post story from January 1, 2018:

            US and North Korea closer to nuclear war than ever, warns US ex-military chief

            Also in 2018, Foreign Affairs magazine was saying

            To have any chance of success, U.S. strategy toward North Korea must be guided by an accurate sense of how Kim’s regime thinks and what it knows about Washington. Failure to do so could lead the United States to stumble into the worst conflict since World War II.

            Obama had considered attacking North Korea’s nuclear facilities, but ruled it out because the casualties from a North Korean counter strike might be in the millions.

            Trump was threatening them with total annihilation at the UN. Analysts said it was the closest we’d been to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

            NK is a largely contained dictatorship with no ability to project power farther then a few tens of miles into SK before they get crushed and offer a distant threat they can only use if they want to be annihilated.

            NK has been a seriously bad actor in the past, pretty much constantly has shown that they have zero understanding or respect for international norms, and them having nukes is roughly the equiv of Tony Soprano and/or Jim Jones having nukes.

            And note that not only do you need to trust that Tony/Jim won’t blow stuff up because it would be bad, but you need to trust that none of their crew do anything stupid.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

              Oh yeah they are a bad bad dictatorship. Of course one might then think giving them wonderful PR victories is bad. But they have no conventional military that is a threat to the US. They are a threat to SK and i’m fine with us being a backstop for SK. The only threat they pose to us directly is to lunch one or a handful of missles for which we would anihliate them over. Sort of that MAD thing. They can hurt us and we can destroy them. Why would they ever attack us??? Suicide by Superpower? What do they have to gain by being obliterated by us? SK is their primary adversary and where their focus is.

              I’d be all for them denuking, but without complete regime change that ain’t happening. To much of the forever war, the drive to see every regional conflict as about US and intervening all over the damn place is the absurd fear of every nutjob across the world. Not that there aren’t’ plenty of bad bad nutjobs but really very few are even a remote threat to us.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to greginak says:

                The trouble is, most North Koreans are convinced that they would wipe the US off the map in any nuclear exchange. Sure, they know that their country would be badly damaged, but would survive, whereas nobody in the US would survive their mighty nuclear strikes. Nobody.

                Many interviews with random North Koreans confirm that they’re that delusional. There’s something to be said for their argument, too. If we nuked a North Korean city, could most of the residents really notice much of a difference? In contrast, taking out a Seattle coffee warehouse might cause societal collapse over here.

                Sure, a few tens of millions in West coast cities like LA, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Sacramento, Seattle, and Portland would be inconvenienced by fireballs and fallout and die later from radiation and cancer, but we’d decimate Pyongyang, Chongjin, and Hamhung.

                Sadly, after that we’d be down to attacking cities the size of Stockton and Cincinnati, because North Korea only has three cities with over 500,000 people, and only 27 cities with populations over 100,000.

                And that’s why we don’t want to play nuclear chicken with a crazy man who’s got nothing to lose, especially one running a country of brain-washed crazy people who would believe their government if it told them that fallout will give their children mutant super powers.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner says:

                Urm…i’m not sure public opinion of brain washed cult members matters all that much to Kim. But you would have more knowledge about that than i.

                Yeah i’m sure man on the street interviews are really useful in a brutal dictatorship. Also unsurprisingly egotistical dictators like to stay alive and do things to maximize their length of time to be maniacs. They ain’t going to attack us. They are crazy pants and it would be better if they didn’t have nukes of course, but the the only thing crazier then Kim is thinking Kim is coming after us.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

                The only threat they pose to us directly is to launch one or a handful of missiles for which we would annihilate them over.

                They could sell nukes, perhaps to whatever comes after ISIS.

                They already do a lot of seriously criminal “Tony” type stuff. They’ve already engaged in technology exchanges with other bad actors.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

                They already have sold some nuke tech years ago i believe. I’m not saying they aren’t bad actors, they are. There just is not a reason to fear them attacking us. It would be great if they got rid of their nukes but, as i’ve said, short of regime change that isn’t going to happen. Heck even with a regime change they likely wouldn’t get rid of nukes since having them gives a lot of protection. And there is no silly “deal” that is going to get them to get rid of their nukes. They have invested to much time/treasure in them and they give far to much protection to just give up.

                Every countries foreign policy isn’t’ based around us. China has far more leverage on NK then us and has a lot invested in them. There is no deal with NK w/o SK being involved.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

                There just is not a reason to fear them attacking us.

                By this standard ISIS wasn’t a problem either. At the moment NK can nuke Korea and perhaps Hawaii but not the mainland US… assuming they don’t accidentally or deliberately sell nukes to terrorists.

                So the good news is you’re right. The bad news is that’s not even close to being enough.

                Sooner or later they’re going to collapse, and then we enter the magic world of worrying about desperate nuclear armed criminals in an failed state, and we’ll need to also wonder if they’re insane by normal modern definitions.

                There is no deal with NK w/o SK being involved.

                True. And as China gets richer and more cynical about ideology it gets less willing to tolerate having a nuclear cult on its doorstep.

                The only reason they continue is because they don’t want to deal with NK’s collapse.

                However at some point that logic will change, either because China becomes too rich or NK too unstable. “Too unstable” can mean anything from an economic collapse to something out of a doomsday cult.Report

  4. Avatar George Turner says:

    The Daily Mail had an interesting tidbit

    Kim Jong-un’s impromptu meeting with Donald Trump last week has gone down badly in North Korea where people are unsure why their leader rushed to meet the U.S. President, it has been claimed.

    Kim’s eagerness to meet Trump has undermined the picture that Pyongyang paints of a powerful and proactive leader, a source told Korean media.

    A North Korean source told Radio Free Asia: ‘The authorities propagandise that North Korea is the most powerful country in the world and Kim Jong-un is leading the world with his outstanding ability and courage, so why is he hurrying to meet President Trump in Panmunjom?

    If what they’ve always heard is true, Trump should’ve come crawling to Pyongyang, instead of dropping by on a whim and having their Most Glorious Leader rush to the DMZ to meet him.

    In a regime based on lies, sometimes it’s the little slip ups that cause the most problems. Gorbachev related that their government propaganda really screwed up when they said Reagan’s economic changes were so devastating that the elderly were being forced to eat cat food. In most countries that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow, but in the Soviet Bloc everybody thought “OMG. The West is so rich that they make special food just for cats!!!!”Report

  5. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    I think the biggest point in this essay is that the American president has demonstrated that he has absolutely no loyalty or sense of responsibility to the people he ostensibly serves.

    Worse, he has none to any other nation or people either. He is utterly indifferent to the fate of anyone other than himself.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Perhaps true, but this case doesn’t demonstrate that. He’s not blessing NK’s nukes. He’s not even sending them money and resources for promises of future good behavior.

      Trump is indulging in narcissistic random bullshit to raise the level of drama. I’m opposed to that if it gets in the way… but previous Presidents have tried literally everything. Trump randomly shaking things up may be an improvement in the sense that everything else has failed and I don’t think NK can survive outside reality.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

        We have an international conflict where the fate of millions of Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese are at stake, and the American president responds by “indulging in narcissistic random bullshit”.

        What does this demonstrate, if not a sociopathic indifference to anything but his own ego?Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          That he’s playing three dimensional chess and most people can’t understand checkers.

          Kim stopped firing long range missiles, and is no longer threatening to blow up half the planet. He has come to the table to try and get a deal, and probably for the first time ever, a North Korean leader is singing the praises of a US President.

          Or, to better illustrate your question, if you were the hyper-intelligent alien parasite that controls Trump via his brain stem, would you really care about the fate of the planet’s other potential host bodies? Of course not. They are just meat-taxis.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner says:

            And there you go. Kim was never going to blow up the planet. He threatened to do things for attention and internal politics and try to get stuff. But he was never going to start flinging missiles in anger since that would have been suicide. There is no deal happening, just a lot of hot air and photo shoots.

            Who cares if a terrible dictator is saying good things about an our prez? Really who cares?Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to greginak says:

              That’s certainly not what the left was saying in 2017. That’s also not what the military, defense analysts, and world community was saying either.

              There was a strong feeling that the US would have to use a nuclear first strike to wipe out North Korea’s capabilities before they grew large enough to present an existential threat to the entire region, Hawaii, and the US west Coast.

              Even China thought the balloon had a very high chance of going up.

              But if Trump is as you folks describe him, he’d let Kim wipe out many of our Western cities because it would possibly flip their states to red, and if not, certainly reduce their number of electoral votes, which would be reapportioned to red states after the next census.

              But he’s not doing anything remotely like that, unless of course he’s behind the left’s claims that Kim’s nuclear program isn’t a real threat, so as to let him continue with it, leading to the obliteration of West Coast liberalism and casting the Democratic party into the dustbin of electoral history.

              Bwuha! Bwuhahahaha!!!!

              Or maybe he’s trying to get North Korea to choose a much brighter future for everybody.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner says:

                Nonsense. Just pure nonsense. You guys are doing nothing to refute what i’m saying. But have there been people panicked over NK. Well yeah, i’ve said that repeatedly. That is one of the problems that has led us to our forever wars. To many people can’t rationally evaluate the risks from various actors so they default to just being terrified of every nutbag. Hell that was Cheney thing, any actor that had a tiny chance of attacking us had to be dealt with as a major threat. That didn’t work out that well.

                Nuke first strike?! Oh please. If someone said that then that is a good sign never to listen to that person again.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to greginak says:

                We were dispatching aircraft carrier fleets, strategic bombers, and had our fighters lined up for elephant walks in South Korea. We were installing anti-missile defense systems all over the place, and Guam and Hawaii were holding nuclear attack drills. All the while Kim kept launching missiles over Japan, was testing missiles capable of reaching deep into the US, kept testing more powerful nuclear warheads, and kept saying that he would vaporize us.

                Did you sleep through all that?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner says:

                oh my, oh dear. He said he would vaporize us…..eeeeekkkk. Well darn, all hands on deck then. Sigh. It was in all the papers. They tested all their weapons, got a lot of attention, as they had done many times. They finished their testing program and got the results they wanted. And were never going to attack because they had no reason nor desire to commit suicide. They have their nukes so they are safe, that is why countries want nukes.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

                And were never going to attack because they had no reason nor desire to commit suicide. They have their nukes so they are safe, that is why countries want nukes.

                Any bets on whether NK lasts another decade? 5 decades?

                So… what does a collapsed failed country with nukes look like?

                I’m less concerned about “suicide” than I am “what happens after they’re dead” or even “what happens when they KNOW they’re going to die no matter what they do?”

                Do they go quietly into the night? Do they take as many people with them as possible? Is it everyone man for himself and nukes end up on the black market?

                Does China or the US invade after they fall apart and take the nukes and damn the other side effects?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to greginak says:

                Since Trump has accomplished exactly jack and squat about NK, the previous state of affairs must be wildly exaggerated to the point of absurdity, to provide a pretext for a claim of improvement.

                We are at war with North Korea. We have always been at war with North Korea.

                Until the Dear Leader rode in on horseback, like George Washington liberating Reagan National Airport , just before Jesus handed down the Constitution.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Ah, so we must ignore the documented reality that’s all over the Internet, where Democrats were screaming that Trump was going to start a regional Armageddon, or wasn’t doing the right things to prevent North Korea from starting one, to cling to a fantasy image of Trump in which he can’t have changed anything, so nothing could have changed.

                If he kicks back into a more bellicose mode, I’m sure we’ll hear that we’ve always had good relations with North Korea.Report