Fire and Not So Furious, Finger Pointing

Fire and Fury:  Some senior American officials are trying to play down President Trump’s inflammatory remarks about North Korea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he sees no reason to believe war with North Korea is imminent. “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,” Tillerson said on returning from a trip to Asia.

President Trump on Tuesday threatened North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” and North Korea said they’d hit Guam.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was not backing down. In a statement, he said North Korea risked “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people” if it did not “stand down” from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. “It must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth,” Mattis said.

The NY Times reports that Trump’s stunningly undiplomatic remarks came as a surprise to his aides at an event during which he was supposed to be talking about the opioid addiction crisis. The paper reports that, “The president, people close to him say, believes he has a better feel for Mr. Kim than his advisers do. He thinks of Mr. Kim as someone used to pushing people around, and Mr. Trump thinks he needs to show that he cannot be pushed.”

Max Fisher writes in The Interpreter column for the Times that it’s not time to head for the bomb shelters. He says that in international relations, actions matter more than words and “empty threats neither damage a state’s global credibility nor create pressures forcing it to follow through on those threats.”

The Russia Cloud: FBI agents staged a dawn search late last month at the home of Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, looking for tax documents and foreign banking records as part of the investigation into Russian election influencing.

Manafort had talked to Senate investigators and given them notes about a meeting with a Russian lawyer offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton, but the FBI search is a sign that Special Counsel Robert Mueller doesn’t trust Manafort to reveal everything.

A spokesman for Manafort said, “Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well.”

Finger Pointing: The President was up early this morning, attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Twitter. “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!”

Trump’s complaint came in response to McConnell’s remarks about having an amateur in the White House. He said, “So part of the reason I think people feel we’re underperforming is because too many artificial deadlines — unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating — may not have been fully understood.”

The Crisis: Fifty refugees from Ethiopia and Somalia drowned when they were forced into the ocean off the coast of Yemen. Survivors said their smuggler saw authorities on the beach and made all his passengers jump.

Many of the passengers were teenagers who fled the Horn of Africa looking for work in rich Gulf countries.

Terror Beat: French police shot and arrested a suspect in yesterday’s incident in which six soldiers were hit by a car. The man is described as a 37-year-old Algerian legally living in France.

The Anchor Chair: Suspended Fox News host Eric Bolling has sued the Huffington Post reporter who filed a story saying the television face man sent pictures of male genitalia to female colleagues. Bolling wants $50 million.

As an editor once said to a reporter, “Well, have you got it?”

The network suspended Bolling following the report. Reporter Yashar Ali tweeted, “Just received a summons. Eric Bolling is suing me for defamation — $50 million in damages. I stand by my reporting + will protect my sources.”

Heavy Weather: Government forecasters say the hurricane season could end up being somewhat severe this year, producing up to 19 major storms including two to five hurricanes along the Atlantic Coast. A more typical season is 12 named storms and three major hurricanes. A hurricane is a storm category three or above (out of five) with sustained winds of 111 mph or more.

Thin Crust: An 18-wheeler hit a bridge support yesterday in Little Rock, slicing open the trailer and spilling Tombstone and DiGiorno frozen pizzas all over Interstate 30. It’s a terrible thing. Pizza should never be frozen.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Page Two

Jaw Meet Floor

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Small President

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cuba Diaries

Sunday, March 13, 2016

An Alphabet of Maladies

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Healthcare Confusion Act

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Freedom from Speech

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Too Big to Fire

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Probable Than Not

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's Been Said

"The greatest absurdity of our time is You Know Whom, which goes without saying but I will anyway. What his election showed is that a considerable number of people, in order to demonstrate their frustration with the world as it is, are willing to drive their car, with their children in the back seat, over a cliff, smash the radiator, bust an axle and walk away feeling good about themselves. No other president in modern times has been held in contempt by a preponderance of people from the moment he said, 'So help me, God.'"

-Garrison Keillor on President Trump

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