Weekend Quick Takes

Quick takes on news of the week, including announcement of a new summit between North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un and President Trump, the De-valuing of America and children-or at least those acting like children-in high government office.

North Korea (again)

The President of North Korea and President Trump announced that they will hold a second summit and meet face to face to talk about differences.

If you recall, the first summit between the two ended with tremendous optimism as North Korea said it would end its nuclear program and start dismantling its nuclear facilities and the United States said it would end its embargo, cut its military presence on the Korean peninsula and help North Korea’s economy.

However, since that first summit almost nothing has changed. North Korea must have been betting that this time would be like all the others and so they acted accordingly. When President Clinton reached what at the time was called an historic agreement with North Korea, the United States kept its side of the bargain immediately on the promise of North Korea doing the same. Of course, President Kim of North Korea backed out of his agreements, but he had already gotten the relief from the US that he wanted so he got the ‘best of both worlds’.  And that was not the only time. North Korea had done similar things with the UN and with other US Presidents.

However, this time was very different. The US had gotten the United Nations to agree to economic sanctions and then later went back and got another agreement to enforce them more vigorously.  After the first Trump-Kim summit, the US refused to take away sanctions until North Korea began denuclearization. The North Korean economy, already suffering from years of hardship, would continue to hurt until it stopped threatening attacks on Japan and the US, and until it started to dismantle its nuclear and ballistic missile facilities. Of course, Kim never intended to do that, as his past actions had shown. So little changed. Except that Kim has now come back now and asked to meet with President Trump again.

It’s obvious the pressure is slowly building, and the US should not relent until North Korea acts on its promises. If possible, the US should increase the pressure if that doesn’t happen within the next few months. We know that Kim doesn’t care about starving his own people, as reports over the years have put the number that have died in that way in hundreds of thousands. But we can hope that he will give up his delusions of grandeur if he sees that it’s not only costing his people but his economy is being slowly strangled and he won’t be able to get money for the massive military and security spending that keep him in power. His visions of himself as a powerful world leader with nuclear weapons may change if the pressure gets so great that the clique that keeps him in power starts to suffer, too.

America’s Moral Compass

As a culture, we have gotten so that we are very hesitant to talk about morals or values. This is somewhat understandable in the sense that ‘morality’ can be more subjective than many other topics. As a result, in many ways we have defaulted to an attitude that-with the exception of some very obvious things like murder or racial hatred- there is no true or basic morality, and that one person’s moral views are not better than anyone else’s and so the most important ‘morality’ is to accept everything and everyone.

Setting aside the broader discussion on the topic, it’s an example of how far we’ve come that USA Network is reviving a TV series called “Temptation Island”. The whole purpose and premise of the show is to take couples, put them on an island and then separate them. And after doing so, to surround them with several men or women whose goal is to see if they can get them to ‘cheat’ on their significant other. And then at the end the show, the network sees how many couples stay together or how many split up.

How far have we, as a society, come when we have a show where people are paid to do nothing but tempt other people to cheat and it’s considered entertainment to try to break up couples?  And, more, how crazy is it that there are couples who decide that it would be ‘fun’ to be tempted and to go and spend intimate time on national TV with someone other than the person you say you love?

And then we wonder why divorce rates are so high, why we have so many children growing up without both parents in the home and why childhood suicide rates are rising because children don’t feel loved and supported unconditionally.

Children at Play

As the partial government shutdown continues for a fourth week, both sides are trying to find leverage, or maybe just political talking points. The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who by tradition normally gives the invitation to the President to come to speak before Congress and give a ‘State of the Union’ address, last week said that she wasn’t going to do that until the shutdown ends and refused to invite President Trump to speak to Congress in late January as is normal.

Never one to take a personal slight without firing back, President Trump then informed Speaker Pelosi that government aircraft and security personnel would not be available for her upcoming trip overseas and that she would have to fly Economy class without government security if she still wanted to go on her Congressional ‘fact-finding’ trip.

Ms. Pelosi, you should have learned from the Republican primaries in 2016 that if you start to decide you want to get in the mud or act childish, you aren’t going to be able to do it as well as Donald Trump can.

Of course, as a country, it’s sad that the highest office holders of both political parties are more interested in taking personal shots at one another than in solving our country’s problems.

 

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