The Jury Talks Back


Good Morning From The President Of The United States

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 10:53 am

[guest post by Dana]



A Tale of Two Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 3:09 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here are a couple of interesting news items involving books. They are not necessarily related, but are similar in that they involve high-profile individuals, books they authored, and politics

The first item involves a former Baltimore mayor:

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and tax charges on Thursday a day after she was indicted on numerous federal counts in an alleged scheme involving the publishing of her children’s books, officials announced.

Pugh, 69, allegedly defrauded customers of Healthy Holly books, a company she owned, for her own political and personal gain, including funding her mayoral run, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In all, she earned $800,000 for book deals that Maryland’s chief accountant called “brazen, cartoonish corruption,” according to The Associated Press.

She is also accused of using funds from sales of fraudulently obtained Healthy Holly books to purchase, and then renovate, a house in Baltimore City, according to the statement.

She plead guilty to: “conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and two counts of tax evasion…The facts she stipulated to in her plea agreement with prosecutors included most of the allegations outlined in the 11-count indictment against her… They included her double-selling copies of her books to multiple buyers, hiding the proceeds from the Internal Revenue Service, and improperly funneling some of the funds into her mayoral campaign in 2016.”

What a piece of work:

[S]he was evading taxes on the income she received from the sales. In 2016, she allegedly claimed her income was $31,020 and the tax due was $4,168, when in fact, Pugh’s taxable income was $322,365, with an income tax due of approximately $102,444.

Behind every Healthy Holly lurks a very unhealthy author.

The next item involves the RNC and Donald Trump, Jr.:

Donald Trump Jr.’s new book, Triggered, hit the top of the New York Times’ bestsellers list this month with the help of nearly $100,000 in purchases from the Republican National Committee.

Federal Election Commission records list a $94,800 payment — identified as “donor mementos” — to on Oct. 29. That same day, the president’s son signed an RNC fundraising email promising signed copies of the book to those who contribute at least $50 to the party. “This limited-time opportunity ends SOON,” Trump Jr. wrote, “so be sure to claim your signed copy of my new book NOW.”

The FEC filing was first noticed by a New York Times reporter. RNC spokesperson Michael Joyce confirmed the expense in an email to BuzzFeed News.

“We have netted $500,000 for the party fundraising off the book,” Joyce added.

An RNC official told BuzzFeed News earlier this month that there hadn’t been “a large bulk purchase,” but that the party was “ordering copies to keep up with demand.”

“Using books as a means to fundraise is standard practice from political parties on both sides of the aisle,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, added at the time. “Triggered has been very popular among our supporters, helping us raise funds to support the reelection effort.”

The report goes on to say that if the RNC just wanted to resell the books, they could have gotten the books directly from the publisher for far less money. Why pay the higher price to BooksAMillion for the books? Well, to make it look like these were “real” sales.

If you donate to the RNC (or DNC, for that matter), it behooves you to find what your hard-earned money is supporting.


Democratic Congresswoman Changes Mind On Impeachment

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 3:07 pm

[guest post by Dana]

A quick little post here, involving a bit of that was then, this is now from Democratic Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, who represents a very blue district:

Over the summer, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence fully backed the move to impeach President Trump, but the Detroit-area Democrat said over the weekend that she has since changed her mind.

“I feel we should begin that process,” Lawrence told CNN on June 12. “If we impeach him, he is still sitting in the White House because the Senate must act.”

“Our democracy is bigger than Donald Trump, and we need to act,” added the congresswoman, who since 2015 has represented Michigan’s 14th District, which includes eastern Detroit.

Now, however, Lawrence said she sees things differently.

“You can censure, you don’t have to remove the president,” Lawrence said Sunday on No BS News Hour with Charlie LeDuff. “Sitting here, knowing how divided this country is, I don’t see the value of kicking him out of office, but I do see the value of putting down a marker saying his behavior is not acceptable.”

“I’ll be g-damned,” the host said at one point in response to Lawrence’s remarks. “To hear you say, and you are a Democrat, and you are a liberal minded person; I know you don’t like Trump For the betterment of all of us, in an election year, it’s unwise to tear him from the chair. Is that how you think?”

“Yeah,” Lawrence responded.

At this point in time, Nancy Pelosi remains mum on whether censuring Trump will be an available option. Regardless, Lawrence’s flip on this has got to be the last thing that Pelosi wants the public to hear coming from her side of the aisle.

With that, CNN is reporting that, since the impeachment hearings began, not much has changed:

Half of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 43% say he should not. Neither figure has changed since October, with support for impeachment remaining at its highest level thus far in CNN polling. The partisan divide over the President persists as well, with roughly 80 points between Democratic support for Trump’s removal and Republican support for it.

Independents are closely divided on the question, 47% in favor, 45% opposed. Opinions on both sides are deeply held, with about 9 in 10 on either side saying they feel strongly in favor or against it.

The President’s approval rating has also held about even since October: 42% say they approve, 54% disapprove.

Although views on impeachment and removal have not moved, the poll finds that 53% say Trump improperly used his office to gain political advantage, up from 49% who said the same in October. More, 56%, say the President’s efforts to get Ukraine to launch investigations into the Biden family, a Ukrainian energy company and the 2016 election were more to benefit himself politically than to fight Ukrainian corruption.

The public is about evenly divided over whether there is enough evidence now for the House to vote to impeach the President and send him to trial before the Senate (48% say yes, 47% say no). And a narrow majority (52%) say the Democrats have exercised their constitutional powers properly during the impeachment inquiry, 40% say they have abused their constitutional powers.

This is isn’t the only poll that’s found things unchanged.

UPDATE: New Quinnipiac poll:

While 40 percent of all registered voters approve of the job President Trump is doing, 54 percent disapprove. This compares to a 38 – 58 percent approval rating in an October 23 poll, and falls within the range of where his job approval rating has been over about the last two years.

…While 45 percent of American voters think President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 48 percent don’t think he should be. In an October 23 poll, 48 percent thought he should be impeached and removed and 46 percent didn’t think so.



Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 182

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:33 am

It is the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s Bach cantata is “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen: (King of Heaven, welcome):

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 23:33-43:

When they came to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

(This translation is a bit of a mishmash. I stole a couple of lines from the King James Version and incorporated them into the New International Version, which I generally prefer.)

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Jesus, Your passion
is pure joy to me,
Your wounds, thorns and shame
my heart’s pasture;
my soul walks on roses
when I think upon it;
grant a place in heaven
for me for its sake.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 9:20 am

[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start.

First news item: Elizabeth Warren has been accused of lying about sending her children to public school:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a voter that her children attended public schools despite reporting that claims otherwise.

The 2020 Democrat was confronted by a woman after her Atlanta, Georgia, campaign rally Thursday night who was concerned about school choice. The woman, identified as Sarah Carpenter, referenced reports that Warren’s children attended private schools.

In footage obtained by the Reason Foundation’s director of school choice and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, Corey DeAngelis, the woman told Warren, “We want the same choice that you had for your kids because I read that your children went to private school.”

Warren denied the reports, saying, “No, my children went to public schools.”

Second news item: Power mongers in race for even more access to the levers of power, willing to ignore the law:

Third news item: The epic fail of modern culture summed up in one tweet:

Fourth news item: In spite of his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, Elon Musk is still worth $20 billion:

The bad news just gets worse for Elon Musk, whose design chief smashed what was described as a bulletproof, unbreakable window at the unveiling of Tesla’s cyber truck this week. “It is literally bulletproof to a 9mm handgun,” Musk said as Franz von Holzhausen smashed a metal ball into the driver’s side window, shattering it. “It didn’t go through, that’s the plus side,” he then quipped as von Holzhausen tried it again, causing a second shatter. Forbes reports that fail sent shares in Tesla plummeting 6 percent, sinking Musk’s net worth by $768 million in a single day.

Fifth news item: Why faith?:

Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.

Have a great weekend.



John Bolton: Free At Last

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 12:51 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Today, John Bolton, who hasn’t tweeted since Sept. 10, started his morning by posting a a couple of cryptic tweets:

Bolton, who has declined to testify at the impeachment inquiry, left the teaser sitting there. In the meantime, President Trump was asked during his call-in interview on Fox and Friends, whether he played a part in freezing Bolton’s Twitter account. The president denied any involvement:

“No, of course not,” Trump said. “I had a good relationship with John.”

He also admitted that he and Bolton had had their share of disagreements.

Just minutes ago, Bolton blamed the White House for his absence from Twitter:

Was the president lying about his involvement, or did his people make the decision to refuse Bolton access without Trump’s knowledge, thus making the president look unaware? Of course, the really important question is, will Bolton talk now??

Stay tuned…


Trump Can’t Let Go of Crazy Conspiracy Theory Letting Russia off the Hook for the DNC Hack

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:52 am


It’s like the expression of the faces of relatives around the Thanksgiving dinner table while the crazy uncle holds forth on chemtrails, except the crazy uncle can nuke you.

Also he can fire an FBI director and brag about how it’s a good thing he did because the FBI director was coming after him:

Well, so he’s corrupt domestically, but at least his foreign policy doesn’t suck, right?

Oh. I forgot he has to sell out the protesters in Hong Kong to try to get himself back to Square One, or something approaching it, in trade talks with China so he can declare a Big Win.

Four more years of this insanity? No thanks.


Impeachment Hearings: Yesterday and Today

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:44 am

Gordon Sondland is testifying today, and so far he has made it clear that there was indeed a quid pro quo (at least for a White House meeting) and that everyone was acting at Trump’s direction. Meanwhile, I have a few thoughts on the parts of yesterday’s hearing I was able to see or listen to.

First, in excellent questioning by the Democrat counsel, it was made clear that Trump didn’t really care about corruption in Ukraine as a general matter — a legitimate concern that is part of U.S. foreign policy. All he cared about was Burisma and the Bidens — an illegitimate and corrupt concern, based purely on selfish political motives, that is improper to raise as a condition to giving military aid. Lt. Col. Vindman testified that when Trump first called the Ukraine president in April to congratulate him on his election, Trump’s talking points included a reference to the importance of rooting out corruption.

Trump didn’t mention it.

This issue that was supposedly so important to him that he withheld military assistance over it? Not mentioned at all in his first call with the Ukraine president.

It was only once Trump had the apparatus set up to have Rudy G. make very specific appeals to investigate a very specific political opponent that Trump began to care about investigations — and even then, he cared only about investigations into two very specific things. First, an investigation into a loony conspiracy theory that would let Russia off the hook for the DNC hack, and second, an investigation into his (then) likely opponent for the presidency in 2020.

In the face of that evidence, what did the Republicans have?

They repeatedly tried to out the whistleblower, on a day when Trump himself was insulting one of the witnesses (Vindman) who still works for the federal government.

They complained about hearsay, on a day when two people testified who had actually heard Trump’s call and found it inappropriate, even (in the case of Vindman) shocking.

Republican Senators have already made up their minds. This is wholly a proceeding for the benefit of the American people, to show what Republicans will not only tolerate but full-throatedly defend, should the people re-elect Donald Trump in 2020.


Email Purporting to Be from John Cornyn: Trump “Did Nothing Wrong”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 10:34 pm

I got an email today from the email address It purports to be from Texas Senator John Cornyn, and bears his name at the end of the email like a signature. It seeks money for Rep. Elisa Stefanik, a partisan Republican hack who has been throwing dust in the air for Trump during these hearings. Cornyn describes her as someone whom the Democrats are trying to destroy “all because she had the audacity to stick up for a president we all know did nothing wrong.”

Cornyn Says Trump Did Nothing Wrong

Pay close attention to what Cornyn is saying here: not just that Trump didn’t commit an impeachable offense, but that he “did nothing wrong.” And that “we all know” it.

He’s not even pretending to withhold judgment until the evidence is in.

This is a political exercise, to be sure. And in this political exercise, voters are entitled to watch the evidence come in, knowing that the Republican Senators do not care in the slightest what the evidence says.

I’m sorely tempted to send my first check to a Democrat. Not because I think Stefanik’s opponent is a better candidate. She almost certainly would support fewer of my policy views than Stefanik has. (Putting aside anything having to do with Donald Trump.) But she’s one of 435, and people are seeing this fundraising contest as a proxy for support for Trump’s corrupt actions in bending the foreign policy apparatus of this country to his own personal political advantage.

To hell with Trump and to hell with Elise Stefanik. And to hell with John Cornyn and the rest of the Republicans. If they go down in flames in 2020 I will do a dance. And then cringe at the policy nightmare to follow.

Chick-fil-A Caves To LGBTQ Activists

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 3:41 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The news broke this week:

[T]he charitable arm affiliated with Chick-fil-A revealed that it had overhauled its donation strategy and had stopped giving money to several organizations — donations that had long angered LGBTQ activists.

The Chick-fil-A Foundation announced in a statement that it planned to concentrate its giving in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger, and that it planned to work with a smaller number of charities than it had previously. It plans to reassess its giving annually, instead of entering into multiyear arrangements with charities, it said. The groups it gives to “could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities,” the foundation said.

But the bigger news was which organizations would not be getting millions in Chick-fil-A money: A representative confirmed to The Washington Post that it had ceased giving to Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army, two religiously affiliated charities, after multiyear commitments ended in 2018.

It’s particularly sad to see the Salvation Army on the donation hit list, given their incredible service to those in need. Whether one is a victim of a natural disaster, or hungry, in need of shelter, combatting addiction, unemployed, homeless, elderly, or a victim of domestic abuse or human trafficking, the Salvation Army stands at the ready. But the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and this time it’s the LGBTQ activists selfishly protesting Chick-fil-A’s support of the wonderful organization because hurt feelings. Oh, boo-hoo. This makes me angry. When one considers that Chick-fil-A’s support of the charity has allowed untold numbers of hurting individuals to be helped, those complaining should be ashamed. Would these activists wish that the untold numbers helped by the Salvation Army via Chick-fil-A’s financial support, not have been helped but instead left to continue in their suffering? Would they take back those meals, the shelter, the clothing, the life-saving efforts made on behalf of the wounded and lost? Will they themselves now step into the breach with the same help and service to any in need? Will their hands be willing and open to anyone, of any faith, of any color or stripe, as are the Salvation Army workers? It’s tragic that this decision comes as a result of a selfish group of angry activists who hate Christian organizations that won’t toe the required line of wokeness and instead dare to brazenly go about the quiet business of offering love and hope, and lending a hand to those in need.

And how does the Salvation Army feel about the LGBTQ folks? Let’s read the organization’s own mission statement specific to that group:

Because LGBTQ Americans living in poverty often experience unacceptable homophobia and transphobia, many become homeless.

A majority of homeless LGBTQ people end up on the streets before they turn 18, and one in four is homeless before turning 16.

The Salvation Army is committed to serving the LGBTQ community through shelter…job training…help with substance abuse…food insecurity…and teenage suicide.

In a statement released in response to Chick-fil-A’s decision, the Salvation Army reiterated their willingness to serve the LGBTQ community, and made it clear that their actions back up their words:

“We’re saddened to learn that a corporate partner has felt it necessary to divert funding to other hunger, education and homelessness organizations — areas in which The Salvation Army, as the largest social services provider in the world, is already fully committed. We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population. When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor, is at risk. We urge the public to seek the truth before rushing to ill-informed judgment and greatly appreciate those partners and donors who ensure that anyone who needs our help feels safe and comfortable to come through our doors.”

Additionally, here is a portion of the organization’s non-discrimination policy:

“A diverse range of views on homosexuality exist within The Salvation Army — as among the wider Christian (and non-Christian) community,” the statement reads. “But no matter where individual Salvationists stand on this matter, The Salvation Army does not permit discrimination on the basis of sexual identity in the delivery of its services or in its employment practices.”

The Salvation Army stands against homophobia, which victimises people and can reinforce feelings of alienation, loneliness and despair. We want to be an inclusive church community where members of the LGBTQ community find welcome and the encouragement to develop their relationship with God.

Enraging, right??

Here is how the LGBTQ community responded to the news:

… LGBTQ activists were not immediately impressed. “If Chick-fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family,” said Drew Anderson, director of campaigns and rapid response for GLAAD, in an emailed statement. “Chick-fil-A investors, employees, and customers can greet today’s announcement with cautious optimism, but should remember that similar press statements were previously proven to be empty.”

Chick-Fil-A can certainly support whatever charity they choose, but caving in to the complaints of a small group of individuals because they don’t like the beliefs of those coming to the aid of hurting people is disgusting. Make your stand, and let the chips fall where they will knowing that the ultimate reward comes later, and is for all of eternity. Chick-fil-A consistently fills a unique niche in the evangelical community. Their supporters have long shown their loyalty to the organization that has been unabashedly pro-faith and lived out their ideals in their business dealings. All of this makes it confusing as to why they would choose to surrender to the angry mob.

I’ll leave with this thought: If I were hurting, hungry, homeless, or facing any sort of the devastating things that can happen in this life, and a group came alongside me offering a hand of hope and solace, sustenance and shelter, I don’t think I’d question their views on any social issue because, not only would that be a luxury I could ill afford, but all I would care about was that I was being handed a lifeline. I’m pretty sure my heart would be overflowing with gratitude. This offering of hope and help wedded together represents the vibrant, earth-shattering-life-changing thunderously deep, quiet love God has for His creation. Like many of you, I also know this because I’ve had any number of opportunities to be on the flip-side, and come alongside those in need. Not once did they, nor did I care about political stands or personal causes. And really, why would I? Why would the person who is in pain, and suffering? Besides providing help, all I really cared about was that they knew that at that very moment in space and time, someone cared about them. That they mattered. And judging from the responses, that’s all that people who are hurting care about too.


Gettysburg Address: 156 Years Ago Today

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 10:22 am

[guest post by Dana]

[Ed. Understanding that most readers have done their own extensive reading on Lincoln and this particular speech, consider this brief overview a jumping off point.]

Today is the 156th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. A little more than four months after one of the worst battles in the Civil War took place at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – a three-day battle in which the combined casualties reached a staggering 51,000 – President Abraham Lincoln marked the end of the ceremonies dedicating the battlefield cemetery with a short, 272-word speech known as the Gettysburg Address.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate we can not consecrate we can not hallow, this ground The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

As has been previously noted, it was not a well received speech at the time, and it wasn’t until quite some time later that it got a most-deserved second look:

In the days that followed Abraham Lincoln’s 272-word speech to thousands of onlookers in this small Pennsylvania farm town, few newspapers in the country immediately reported on the speech.

When they did, explains historian Michael Kraus, it was mostly dour examination, filled with misquotes of the 16th president’s words.

“There were a lot of mistakes in those first reports. Words weren’t heard well, order was mixed up. The speech didn’t appear in every newspaper the next day, or the next day, or the next day,” Kraus said from his artifact-filled basement office at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, where he serves as the curator.

When it finally did, the reviews were sharply critical.

“A paper in Boston ripped it to shreds; so did other papers across the North,” said Kraus.

Even the local Harrisburg paper, the Harrisburg Patriot and Union, dismissed it as mindless gibberish. “We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of,” it opined.

In truth, it took decades for anyone to think much of the speech, or even think of it all.

“It wasn’t until well over a quarter-century later that it began to emerge in the American psyche across the country that this speech was more than a speech, it defined who we were for eternity,” said Kraus days before the 155th anniversary of a speech that took less than two minutes to give and nearly a 100 years to reach the reverence it holds today.

Interestingly, President Lincoln was not the featured speaker that day. Rather, he was an afterthought:

The invited featured speaker at the dedication was Edward Everett, the former president of Harvard College and one of the 19th century’s most celebrated orators. Everett spoke for two hours. Following his long presentation, Lincoln, in a black suit, tall silk hat and white gloves, spoke for two minutes, delivering a powerful speech that has remained one of the most inspirational and eloquent expressions in the English language. From the time of its first delivery, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has stood as an American touchstone, offering comfort and inspiration to the living by honoring the sacrifices of the dead.

Lincoln formulated the Gettysburg Address with great thought, but the brevity of the President’s address was in such contrast to Everett’s long oration that the audience was surprised and slow to respond, so that Lincoln feared his effort had fallen short. Everett afterwards wrote to the President: “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as close to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

Everett’s own Gettysburg address can be found here. And here is a wonderful thread about Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address.


Trump Demands Mo’ Money from South Korea for U.S. to Pursue Its Own Interests There

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:55 am

It’s all about the Benjamins, baby:

The United States broke off talks with South Korea on Tuesday over how to share the cost of the two nations’ military alliance, injecting fresh tension into the relationship over Washington’s demands that Seoul pay sharply more.

President Trump has demanded South Korea raise fivefold its contribution to cover the cost of stationing 28,500 U.S. troops in the country, asking for nearly $5 billion, officials on both sides said. But that demand has triggered anger from Korean lawmakers and sparked concerns that Trump may decide to reduce the U.S. troop presence in the Korean Peninsula if talks break down.

The top U.S. negotiator, James DeHart, said the U.S. side decided to cut short the negotiations on Tuesday morning, the second of two days of planned talks. In a rare public show of disunity between the allies, he blamed South Korea for making proposals that “were not responsive to our request for fair and equitable burden sharing.”

“As a result we cut short our participation in the talks today in order to give the Korea side time to reconsider,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to resuming our negotiations when the Korean side is ready to work on the basis of partnership, on the basis of mutual trust.”

I guess our troops are still mercenaries in his eyes. The thing where he made the Marines troops for hire by Saudi Arabia was not a one-time thing.

There is a disturbing pattern here. Trump praises North Korea and antagonizes South Korea. He praises Putin and antagonizes England. He praises Erdogan, Mohammed bin Salman, and Duterte, and antagonizes the leaders of France, Germany, and Canada.

I don’t think he’s a paid stooge of Putin. But if he were, it’s hard to see how he might act differently.

P.S. Inevitably people will argue that this is just a negotiation tactic, and that Trump is just an awesome negotiator (he’s actually a terrible one but put that fact aside for the moment). If that’s the defense, it just reveals the fact that I’m bothered by the idea of cost-sharing to begin with. If it’s in our interest to have troops in South Korea, it’s in our interest to have troops in South Korea. Let’s separate the issue of cost from whether we are going to have troops there, and make cost-sharing a factor in how much foreign aid they get, not whether we are stationing troops there to begin with. There is no amount of money we should take that is high enough to do something that is not in our national interest, and no amount of money low enough that we should do something that is not in our national interest.

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