‘Tis The Season

For another war, because why not? The ones the last Republican President started are going so well.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that he was ready to start talks with North Korea without precondition. “We’ll talk about the weather if you like,” he said. He omitted the part about their having to give up their nuclear weapons and missiles first. But then his own spokesperson undercut him.

North Korea is making some signs that they would be open to discussions of – something – but definitely not giving up their nukes. So Tillerson’s offer was well-timed. But others in the administration, likely including National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, have something else in mind. The problem is that nobody knows what it is.

A number of Washington-based nuclear experts on my Twitter timeline say that the administration seems determined to strike North Korea preventively. That’s likely a war crime, but let that go for now. Dan Drezner is worried, and Joshua Pollack lays it out in a tweet thread. Selected tweets from that thread:

Lindsay Graham is beating the war drums. “Time is running out.” On whose timetable? In the 1950s, his arguments were made on hitting the Soviet Union to prevent them from getting a nuclear arsenal. In the 1960s, it was China. While it would be pleasant for us if they didn’t have nuclear weapons, we’ve all managed to live together for the past 60 years or so. We’ll manage with North Korea too.

It’s possible that the war talk is designed to convince China to magically fix things with North Korea. But they can’t. The US administration doesn’t seem to understand that.

If North Korea is attacked, it will devastate Seoul with conventional artillery. That’s been true for many decades, so Graham and McMaster should know that. Japan would probably take some hits too. My guess is that North Korea still doesn’t have a lot of nuclear-armed missiles deployed, but how about just a couple on Seoul, three on major cities in Japan, and one or two on the US West Coast? That could be pretty ugly, and dropping a bunch of nukes on North Korea wouldn’t bring back those millions of people. The scenario is worked out in more detail here and here.

Meanwhile, Nikki Haley is doing a Colin Powell to convince us that war with Iran is a good idea.

As badly as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone, war with North Korea or Iran would be worse. While you’re calling Congress to stop the tax plan, you might want to say that you wish Congress would hold hearings on administration plans for war against North Korea.



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Things Get Better, Eventually


What’s on the agenda, as we start an unexpectedly bright day?

From the Washington Post:

Doug Jones’s odds-defying victory in Alabama — handing Democrats a vanishingly rare Senate win in the Deep South — scrambles President Trump’s legislative agenda for the coming year, threatens to heighten Republican infighting and sounds an alarm for the GOP’s prospects in November’s midterm elections.

Any dent in the two-seat advantage Republicans hold in the Senate would carry major governing consequences, but the loss of what had been considered one of the party’s safest seats carries a special sting for the GOP.

One consequence is Democrats’ much more plausible path to the Senate majority next year. The 2018 map was widely seen to favor Republicans, with 10 Democrats seeking reelection in states President Trump won last year and only two Republican seats clearly at risk…

Some Republicans view the Alabama seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as the first casualty in an internecine GOP battle that has pitted establishment Republicans personified by McConnell against populist insurgents led by former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

“It should be a hurricane siren for every Republican,” said Josh Holmes, a former top aide to McConnell. “This is what the death of a party looks like, and without an immediate course correction and rejection of the Steve Bannon view of the world, you can lose races in states like Alabama.”…

Barring a new effort at bipartisan dealmaking that has been largely absent so far under the Trump administration, the GOP appears on track to head into the November midterms with only one major accomplishment to tout: a tax-cut bill that has polled poorly and delivers most of its direct benefit to corporations and the wealthy…

Holy Moly

Update 1 from Japa21

Well, the good scotch is coming out.

Dave +1

Alabama Special Election Open Thread

Some early tweets –

That’s approval/disapproval.

Watch it to the end.

The New York Times has those dial things again. I can’t bear to watch them.

The polls close at 7 Central Time. I’m sort of determinedly neutral, don’t want to hope for too much. But I will be watching.



Sunday Evening Open Thread


What’s on the agenda as we wrap up the weekend?

Sunday Morning Open Thread: Joyous Season

Minor household crisis here — we haven’t put up a tree for the last couple years, but enough progress has been made in the ongoing stream of renovations (aka, the Great Niggle) that we were ready to Do It Right again. First step, take out the big box of precious, personal, mostly irreplaceable ornaments I’ve been collecting, one or two per year, since the mid-1970s. Went to the closet shelf where it’s always lived, off-season, and the box IS NOT THERE.

Spousal Unit swears of course he didn’t throw it away, not even accidentally, not even when The Guys had the utility dumpster in the driveway and they removed 2500lbs of basement walls & partitions and stuff. He wouldn’t throw away his own personal dinosaur ornaments, after all! The box could be in the (unlighted, overstuffed) shed in the back yard… or maybe in the rental storage unit (only open during weekday business hours)…

And, yes, there’s more important things in life than tchotchkes, even ones with 40 years of memories behind them. But I’ll be much more ready to enjoy The Holidays if (when) that box turns up!

What makes “the season” special to you?

What’s on the agenda as we prepare to count down to the new calendar year?

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Already Exhausted With 2017

This year in one tweet!

What’s on the agenda as we grind down towards year-end?

Thoughts & prayers (yes, I know exactly how useless that sounds) for those on the Wildfire Coast. It seems miraculous that “only” one death has been attributed to these fires, as of now.

NB: There will be a separate post about the Pensacola rally later today, because ugh.