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Ex-CIA chief: Trump handed ‘big concession’ to North Korea for nothing

Trump came bearing gifts when he met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on Monday, offering up a rather stunning concession in the process, according to former CIA director Michael Hayden.

Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would suspend military exercises on the Korean Peninsula, while dismissing the “war games” as “provocative,” means North Korea has already bagged a significant victory.

“The North Koreans did not come with anything new” to the summit, Hayden stressed during a Tuesday interview on CNN. “The new element is that we agreed to stop our annual exercise cycle with our South Koran allies. That’s actually a pretty big concession.”

All the U.S. got in return was a vague assurance that there would be “follow-on negotiations” led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a high-level North Korean official “at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes” of the summit meeting, the New York Times reported.

Calling off the military exercises is a big deal because, “We’ve got a fairly light footprint in South Korean,” Hayden explained.

“We’ve got a brigade up by the Demilitarized Zone and then an Air Force fighter wing or two. The whole defense of South Korea is based upon our ability, and the North and South Korea’s knowledge of our ability, to flow forces to the peninsula quickly for the defense of South Korea. That’s why we do the exercises. They’re about the defense of the south.”

Worse, Trump adopted North Korea’s rhetoric in the process. “The president calling them ‘provocative,’ unfortunately, takes the language out of the North Korea propaganda machine,” said Hayden.

Trump downplayed the significance of the military exercises, claiming they were a waste of money.

“You know, we’re spending a fortune, every couple of months we’re doing war games with South Korea, and I said, ‘What’s this costing?’ We’re flying planes in from Guam, we’re bombing empty mountains for practice,” Trump told ABC News on Tuesday. “I said ‘I want to stop that and I will stop that, and I think it’s very provocative.”

Note that the Pentagon’s annual budget is $700 billion, which comes out to nearly $2 billion per-day. It’s unlikely that the military exercises on the Korean Peninsula have been straining the budget.

While offering up concessions, Trump also managed to play right into North Korea’s hands by elevating the despotic leader’s standing on the world stage:

N.Koreans were adamant summit optics portray US & NK on level footing, per US official involved. “They wanted to make sure both in ceremony and in security…that we’re presenting to the world an image that presents them as equals. The N. Koreans were very conscious of that.” pic.twitter.com/GEdCEqILcU

— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) June 12, 2018 

Mission accomplished.


Ted Cruz defends Trump policy of ripping kids away from parents

Ted Cruz is just fine with Trump’s inhumane policy of separating families, but he blames the media for daring to cover it.

There is no depth to which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) won’t stoop to stay in Trump’s good graces, including defending the cruel policy of family separation that may have led one father to take his own life recently.

In a KERA radio interview that was taped last week, but aired Monday afternoon, Cruz offered a lengthy and lie-riddled defense of the Trump administration’s child separation policy that even included the slur “illegal aliens” as he blamed the Obama administration for Trump’s policy as well as the media, for covering the horrific stories of family separation.

“Recently, the press has been focusing a great deal on the issue you specifically asked, about about separating children from parents,” Cruz told interviewer Krys Boyd. “Well, I’ll tell you, there’s a reason why, under the Obama administration, that often didn’t happen because when they apprehended people here illegally, they just left them go, and when you let them go, you didn’t separate children from parents.”

Child separation “is the inevitable consequence of somebody being arrested for a crime,” Cruz said, and then blamed the media for covering it.

“This is an issue that I think the media has largely constructed, because what’s shifted is that the Trump administration is endeavoring, when people cross the border illegally, to arrest them, not to let them go,” Cruz added.

“So when you see reporters, when you see Democrats saying don’t separate kids from their parents, what they’re really saying is ‘Don’t arrest illegal aliens.’”

Cruz’s lies are many, but the most obvious one is that undocumented immigrants are only either arrested or “let go,” when it is the government’s choice whether to prosecute unauthorized immigrants, or to send them back to their home countries using the civil removal process.

It was the Trump administration that implemented the “zero tolerance” policy of ripping children away from parents at the border. White House chief of staff John Kelly said the policy is supposed to be a “tough deterrent” to asylum-seekers and others crossing the border. Trump has shamelessly tried to blame Democrats for his own racist policy.

Defending the inhumane practice of separating families is despicable on its own. But it is even more shocking coming from a person whose own father sought, and was granted, asylum in the United States.

For Cruz, however, other families don’t deserve the same kindness and opportunity that his own family had. And he thinks it’s perfectly OK for the Trump administration to be tearing families apart. He just thinks the media shouldn’t cover it.

Published with permission of The American Independent.


GOP stays silent as Trump attacks people with pre-existing conditions


Once upon a time, these Republicans swore they’d protect people with pre-existing conditions. Now the states they represent are attacking health coverage for the sick.

The Trump administration isn’t exactly known for making wise or politically savvy decisions. But even for this executive branch, the Department of Justice’s latest move on health care is a breathtakingly bad idea that seems guaranteed to backfire: arguing it’s unconstitutional for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to require health insurers to cover everyone, regardless of their pre-existing conditions.

In a highly unusual move, the DOJ is refusing to defend the federal law against a frivolous lawsuit filed by the attorneys general and governors of 20 conservative states.

The legal argument is downright kafkaesque: because Republicans in Congress got rid of the ACA’s individual mandate, people who lack health insurance will no longer face a tax penalty.

But, the lawsuit argues, when the Supreme Court upheld the ACA in 2012, it did so because the individual mandate was considered a tax. No more tax, no more constitutional justification for the entire rest of the law, conservatives now claim — as if Congress never passes legislation that amends existing law.

By supporting this absurd argument in court, University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley argued, the DOJ is demonstrating “enormous contempt for the rule of law.”

But attacking the guaranteed issue of health coverage to sick people isn’t just illogical and immoral. It’s also political self-sabotage.

Despite all the heated political battles the ACA has faced over the years, it’s more popular than ever among Americans, and health care will be a top issue on voters’ minds in the midterms.

But even when the ACA was less popular overall, its protections for people with pre-existing conditions were so popular that most politicians — even Republicans who argued for repealing the law, and even Trump himself — talked about them like they were sacrosanct.

Trump has repeatedly said he wants to keep protections for pre-existing conditions intact, and has also lied about whether Republican proposals to repeal Obamacare would take those protections away.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who chairs the Senate’s health committee, once promised: “Pre-existing conditions will stay. There is no way the Congress is going to repeal pre-existing conditions.”

It’s not hard to see why Republicans made promises like Alexander’s. It’s pretty monstrous to tell people with diabetes, kids with cancer, women who have been pregnant at some point, and even migraine sufferers that they might be totally uninsurable, or at least have to pay astronomically high premiums, just like in the bad old days before Obamacare was passed.

Awkwardly for Alexander, however, his own state of Tennessee is one of the 20 states fighting to kill pre-existing conditions protections in court.

And so far, Alexander hasn’t made any public statements about the lawsuit or the Trump administration’s defense of it. The Senate’s top GOP health care guy is staying completely mum about a major existential threat to basic health care coverage for nearly one-third (32 percent) of his non-elderly constituents, and for an estimated 52 million Americans under 65 nationwide, per the Kaiser Family Foundation.

And Alexander is not alone.

Most of the Republican senators from the other 19 states attacking pre-existing conditions protections have also publicly supported them in the past.

Some, like John Boozman of Arkansas, said these protections were one of the few parts of Obamacare they wanted to keep. Others, like Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, claimed that the Obamacare repeal bill of their choice would totally still protect people with pre-existing conditions — even though most of them were either mistaken or lying about that.

Still others, like Georgia’s Johnny Isakson, vaguely argued that the private sector is somehow the best way to protect people with pre-existing conditions — even though Obamacare kept private-sector health insurance very much intact.

But almost none of them have said anything publicly about the attacks their states are making on this basic consumer protection for 52 million Americans.

On Monday, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked Cassidy point-blank whether people with pre-existing conditions would have a gap in coverage as a result of the lawsuit. Cassidy, who co-sponsored last year’s ill-fated Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill, dodged the question with a bizarre claim that “subsidies will continue” for people who already have subsidized coverage — even though those subsidies are a key part of the health care law that Cassidy wants to repeal.

Updated: June 12, 2018 — 8:48 pm

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