Now that Kim Jong Un has gotten everything he always wanted from the United States for free, thanks to the truly amazing negotiating skills of President Trump, it turns out—wait for it—he lied the whole time:
U.S. intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months — and that Kim Jong Un may try to hide those facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the Trump administration, U.S. officials told NBC News.
The intelligence assessment, which has not previously been reported, seems to counter the sentiments expressed by President Donald Trump, who tweeted after his historic June 12 summit with Kim that "there was no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea."
Analysts at the CIA and other intelligence agencies don't see it that way, according to more than a dozen American officials who are familiar with their assessments and spoke on the condition of anonymity. They see a regime positioning itself to extract every concession it can from the Trump administration — while clinging to nuclear weapons it believes are essential to survival.
I wonder if Trump believes, as a lot of the people he duped, screwed over, or stole from over the years must have believed, that he was too smart a guy to get taken in by a con. Well, as it turns out...
Josh Marshall says that, despite what will probably come from a hard-right Supreme Court over the next few years, this isn't the end of the left:
Elections have consequences. Often they are profound consequences stretching years or decades into the future from their inception point. Trumpism is civic poison. There is a temptation to think that this is another reverse coming after Trump’s election, the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, the reversal of DACA protections and more. I don’t see it that way. These jolts are really only absorbing, fully recognizing the consequences of what happened in November 2016. Once we ingested it into the body politic all sorts of outcomes became either inevitable or possible. [Trump appointing a second conservative justice] is just one more of them, though perhaps the most consequential yet.
Jeffrey Toobin says Roe v Wade will be overturned and abortion in 20+ states within 18 months. This is far from the only change we are likely to see in short order. The most visible, high-profile Court issues tend to be those centering on questions like abortion rights, LGBT equality, religious liberty. Far less visible, though no less consequential, are the issues I expect a new Court to focus on most: using the scaffolding of the law to block legislatures from addressing key economic questions facing our society, much as the Court did in the late 19th and early decades of the 20th century. They are all important; they’re all down by six runs in the 9th inning.
How do we react? I wrote yesterday that we can’t expect the courts to save us. That was clear with yesterday’s decisions. It’s even more overwhelmingly clear today. Litigation remains critical. But the fight for voting rights, for instance, will be won at the ballot box. Change will come through robust political coalitions — at the local and state level, building to the federal level. Everything else must follow the same path. We are on our own, left to our own devices. The history, whatever mistakes, misfortunes and interventions, is simply the terrain we now grapple with.
Remember, the American populace will continue to look less white and less conservative as the years go on. And the Supreme Court will, with its coming 5-seat right rump, make decisions that more and more Americans find distasteful. The Republican Party have chosen the losing side, but like all people, they will fight harder to keep what they have than they fought to get it in the first place.
We've seen startlingly rapid reversals in American history, even when things looked the worst. The Court blocked FDR's first attempts to fix the economy in 1933-1935, but ultimately relented in the face of overwhelming popular support, which contributed to us getting out of the Great Depression.
Things look bad. But they always do right before they get better.
Justice Kennedy is retiring.
In a pair of 5-4 decisions today, the Republican Party's theft of Merrick Garland's seat on the Supreme Court paid dividends again.
The modern-day Taney court, with the Roberts minority plus Gorsuch voting one way and a majority of the country voting the other, ruled that President Trump's ban on immigration from Muslim countries was constitutional, but found that California's law requiring unlicensed "crisis pregnancy centers" to post a notice that they aren't licensed was not constitutional.
Add those to their decisions on Ohio's voter roll purge, American Express's gag orders, and mandatory workplace arbitration, and the Republican program to empower business at the expense of individuals continues apace.
Meanwhile, Michelle Goldberg says "we have a crisis of democracy, not manners," and says Trump Administration officials deserve public shaming.
One might hope that June 2018 will be the high point of right-wing retrenchment, but no, it'll get worse before it gets better. Enjoy.
This past weekend included the Chicago Gay Pride Parade and helping a friend prepare for hosing a brunch beforehand. Blogging fell a bit on the priority list.
Meanwhile, here are some of the things I'm reading today:
Back to debugging service bus queues...
Now that ICE and CBP feel like they have carte blanche to "do their jobs," stories like this will only become more frequent:
The coast of White Rock, British Columbia, in western Canada looks to be an ideal place for a run, with its sweeping views of the Semiahmoo Bay to the west and scores of waterfront homes and seafood restaurants to the east. That's what 19-year-old Cedella Roman thought when she went jogging along the area's smooth beaches — in a southbound direction, notably — on May 21.
Roman, who lives in France, had been visiting her mother in nearby North Delta, British Columbia. During Roman's run, she was admiring the scenery when she unwittingly crossed the border from Canada into the United States, Roman told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
On May 22, Roman was taken to ICE's Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., about 140 miles south of the border point where she had been arrested. She remained detained until June 5 when, after two weeks of paperwork and processing, Roman was taken back to the border “and removed to Canada,” Cutrell said.
Two weeks in detention—basically, a kidnapping—because she didn't have her French passport with her while jogging. CBP commented:
If an individual enters the United States at a location other than an official port of entry and without inspection by a Customs and Border Protection officer, they have illegally entered the United States and will be processed accordingly. It is the responsibility of an individual traveling in the vicinity of an international border to maintain awareness of their surroundings and their location at all times to ensure they do not illegally cross the border.
Here's what the border looks like just 4 kilometers from where Roman was arrested:
That's what almost our entire border with Canada looks like. That's because, since its founding in July 1867, Canada has remained the United States' closest friend and ally.
Arresting visitors to Canada who accidentally jog across an invisible line and holding them for two weeks is not how you treat a friend. But this was a discretionary arrest and detention; the CBP agents had the authority to shoo her back across the border without an incident.
This is what happens when the guy at the top gives people at the bottom permission to behave like assholes: some of them will.
Meetings and testing all day have put these on my list for reading tomorrow:
And with that, it's the weekend.
Yesterday I worried aloud that the Sessions/Miller/Trump immigration policy separating children from their parents at the border was a move in a longer game to get rid of Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller without making it obvious that was the goal. With the President's apparent policy reversal yesterday, that no longer seems the case. Josh Marshall has a new hypothesis taking into account yesterday's executive order:
And there you have it. DOJ confirms that the White House knows the President’s executive order is in fact illegal on its face. What it does is set a 20 day countdown until Trump blames a court for forcing him to separate more families again.
The Post agrees:
[I]t remained highly uncertain whether the president’s hastily drafted order to keep families together in federal custody while awaiting prosecution for illegal border crossings would withstand potential legal challenges. And senior administration officials said the order did not stipulate that the more than 2,300 children already separated from their parents would be immediately reunited with them.
At the same time, a senior Justice Department official told reporters that the administration had little legal recourse but to release the families after 20 days unless a judge grants an exemption to a 1997 court settlement and subsequent rulings limiting the detention of children.
Trump’s order “seeks to replace one form of child abuse with another,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “Instead of protecting traumatized children, the President has directed his Attorney General to pave the way for the long-term incarceration of families in prisonlike conditions.”
Remember, the immorality of the administration's immigration policies is a feature, not a bug.
The Supreme Court handed down its ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. this morning:
Brick-and-mortar businesses have long complained that they are disadvantaged by having to charge sales taxes while many of their online competitors do not. States have said that they are missing out on tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that helped spur the rise of internet shopping.
On Thursday, the court overruled that ruling, Quill Corporation v. North Dakota, which had said that the Constitution bars states from requiring businesses to collect sales taxes unless they have a substantial connection to the state.
South Dakota responded to Justice Kennedy’s invitation by enacting a law that required all merchants to collect a 4.5 percent sales tax if they had more than $100,000 in annual sales or more than 200 individual transactions in the state. State officials sued three large online retailers — Wayfair, Overstock.com and Newegg — for violating the law.
Here's a really interesting bit: "KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS, GINSBURG, ALITO, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., and GORSUCH, J., filed concurring opinions. ROBERTS, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined."
Ginsburg siding with Thomas and Alito against Roberts, Sotomayor, and Kagan? That's just weird.
I had a thought last night that disturbed me. It goes something like this:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being set up as the heel, so the President can fire him without it looking like a step in shutting down the Mueller probe.
Think about it. Sessions has doubled down on a monstrous policy decision that almost the entire Republican Congressional caucus wants to stop. He has become almost a comic-book villain now, taking responsibility for a policy that actually came directly from the White House. Even he has to see how unpopular the policy is, as Republicans in Congress certainly do because their jobs are on the line. Why would he persist?
So this gives Trump an opportunity to be the hero that fires Sessions, reverses the policy, and (oh, incidentally) installs a new Attorney General much more likely to fire Rod Rosenstein. That this policy came directly from the Oval Office, and that firing Sessions would be a complete reversal of everything Trump has said about it for weeks, really won't make a difference.
If this sounds like a pro-wrestling storyline, don't forget where Trump came from. He doesn't really care about policy; he cares about ratings. And this story has given his reality show tremendous ratings. Never mind that thousands of real children will never see their parents again. When has this administration cared about real consequences?
As the President frequently says, "we'll see what happens." If this is, in fact, the play, I expect it to happen in the next week, before Congress can pass a law that would set the President up for a veto fight with his own party.