Mixed Messages

Wednesday, August 9, 2017Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 11.24.55 AM

Good Thursday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
— The First Draft Team
The Interpreter

Trump’s Threat of War With North Korea May Sound Scarier Than It Is

A rally in Pyongyang on Wednesday in support of North Korea's stance against the United States.

A rally in Pyongyang on Wednesday in support of North Korea’s stance against the United States. Kim Won-Jin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

American anxiety over North Korea spiked on Tuesday when President Trump warned that, if the country makes any more threats against the United States, it “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Social media filled with nervous jokes and at times outright panic over whether Mr. Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, could bluster their way into unintended nuclear war. Some posted maps showing what the blast areas of a nuclear strike in Washington or New York might look like. Others asked whether it was time to build a bomb shelter.
The Trump administration seemed to cultivate this sense of alarm. Sebastian Gorka, a White House adviser, told Fox News that the standoff was “analogous to the Cuban missile crisis,” which nearly brought the United States and Soviet Union to war.
North Korea’s nuclear program is deadly serious, but research on the nature of foreign threats and nuclear weapons, as well as North Korea’s own track record, suggests that Americans can hold off on building those bomb shelters.
Read more to learn why the danger may not be as scary as you’ve heard »
Portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, the first two leaders of North Korea, in Pyongyang, the capital. Intelligence suggests the country has nuclear weapons small enough for an intercontinental missile.

Answers to 4 Crucial Questions About North Korea


Keeping track of the weapons tests, sanctions and diplomatic efforts can be dizzying. Here’s a rundown of the standoff.

An Applebee’s in Tamuning, Guam. Though Guam, an American territory, is used to threats from North Korea, several residents said the current situation felt more dangerous.

North Korea’s Potential Targets: Guam, South Korea and Japan


Pyongyang has the capability to launch a devastating military attack on Seoul, and its leader has missiles could hit Tokyo and perhaps Guam.

Employees at a foreign exchange trading company in Tokyo watch Donald Trump give his presidential victory speech on Nov. 9, 2016. Since early January, the dollar has lost more than 6 percent compared with the Japanese yen.

In the Age of Trump, the Dollar No Longer Seems a Sure Thing


Long the ultimate safe haven in the global economy, the U.S. dollar may be losing some status as investors grapple with an uncertain political climate.

Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, arrived at the Capitol last week for a final vote before August recess.

Even on Break, a Congress Weary of Trump Gets No Respite From Him


So much for relaxing. The president is in meetings and taking calls, he said on Twitter, keeping the capital on edge when it badly needs a breather.

Demonstrators gathered in front of the White House in July.

5 Transgender Service Members Sue Trump Over Military Ban


The lawsuit was filed by two rights groups, but others say they are holding off until the Trump administration takes steps toward implementing the ban.

The Veterans Affairs Department building in Washington.

V.A. Plans to Fire Its D.C. Medical Director — Again


The department’s secretary intends to use the authority given to him in a new law that makes it easier to fire deficient employees.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders answering journalists’ questions in an off-camera briefing last month.

Just Months Later, Another Press Secretary Profile


“I didn’t expect to be writing a second one so soon.”

Passengers aboard a Metro train. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs mass transit services in and around the nation’s capital, has a policy prohibiting advertisements that are “intended to influence public policy.”

Citing Free Speech, A.C.L.U. Sues Washington Metro Over Rejected Ads


Milo Yiannopoulos, PETA and others are united in a lawsuit against the Washington, D.C., Metro agency, which prohibits ads that aim to “influence public policy.”

Voters at the University of Maryland in College Park in November 2008. The City Council is considering opening local elections to noncitizens.

Maryland City May Let Noncitizens Vote, a Proposal With Precedent


College Park is considering allowing green card holders, students with visas and undocumented immigrants to vote in local elections, a practice that was once normal nationwide.

Rafael Márquez has represented Mexico at the last four World Cups.

Mexico’s Rafael Márquez Accused of Aiding Drug Kingpin


The Treasury Department placed Márquez, the captain of Mexico’s national soccer team, on a list of individuals and entities that it is accusing of providing support to drug traffickers.

Thousands of people are expected to descend on Charlottesville, Va., Saturday to participate in, or protest against, a white nationalist rally. Above, counterprotesters at a Ku Klux Klan rally in the city in July.

Airbnb Cancels Accounts Linked to White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville


Participants may have trouble finding a place to stay — and agreeing on where to gather, since the city has asked that the demonstration be moved.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, had said President Trump “had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”

Mitch McConnell’s ‘Excessive Expectations’ Comment Draws Trump’s Ire


The president lashed out at the Senate leader over health bill failures, perhaps the most potent evidence yet that he is willing to train fire on allies.

President Trump boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews last week.

Trump Claims Undue Credit for Revamping Nuclear Arsenal


President Trump made several assertions in a tweet about his role in the nation’s nuclear arsenal — many of which were false or misleading.

Senator Luther Strange, Republican of Alabama, last week in Washington.

Trump Rewards Loyalty in Alabama Senate Race by Tweeting Endorsement


The president threw his support to Senator Luther Strange in a special Alabama election in which Republicans have fought to appear the closest to Mr. Trump.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
• Jim Geraghty in National Review:
“For all of his flaws — and he has many — Trump isn’t really the problem here.”
Regardless of how the president responded to North Korea’s provocations today, Mr. Geraghty argues, the fact remains that the North is still making miniaturized nuclear warheads, and will continue to test its ballistic missiles. Unless China changes its tune, he writes, “either this president or the next will face a devastating choice among bad options.” Read more »
From the Left
• Mark Hertsgaard in The Nation:
“We need to get Donald Trump’s finger off the nuclear button. This is not a partisan plea.”
Last month, Mr. Hertsgaard wrote this article outlining the process by which a president could deploy nuclear missiles. While presidents have historically had unfettered authority to launch these weapons, he writes, there is precedent for the military to “veto an ill-advised attack order.” “The system” by which the commander in chief can launch nuclear missiles, Mr. Hertsgaard writes, “must change.” Read more »