September 3, 2017

Sunday School 9/3/2017

I decided to stroll over to the CNN classroom today, and see about the State of the Union.  Dana Bash was hosting today.

Guests were the governor of Texas, Gregg Abbott, and California Congressman Adam Schiff, the Democrat's number one on the House Intelligence Committee. And, the other Arizona Republican senator who is not named by president Trump - not the one who cost us the Obamacare repeal and replace; the other guy:
And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who's weak on borders, weak on crime, so I won't talk about him. Nobody wants me to talk about him. Nobody knows who the hell he is. And now -- see, I haven't mentioned any names.
Yeah, that guy was on the show, and that's where today's lesson will focus.

Bash talked with that guy, Senator Jeff Flake (a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), about what's going on in the Koreas, starting with Trump's critical tweet about South Korea, in which he noted "appeasement won't work." Flake refused to characterize the president's tweet, but noted that South Korea "certainly will be with us in whatever we decide." Bash wondered whether Trump's rhetoric was backing us into a corner.
Well, what we have been doing over the years has certainly not slowed the advance of their nuclear program, but I don't think that harsh rhetoric does either.... Certainly, sanctions are - are not, you now, arresting that development either. So just about nothing we have done so far has helped slow it down. They seem intent on moving forward.
Bash shared this statement from the president's personal white nationalist, Steve Bannon.
There's no military solution to North Korea's nuclear threats. Forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don't know what you're talking about. There's no military solution here. They got us." 
Flake responded:
But obviously, that's something that they have to consider and everyone dealing with this situation has to consider. This -- there -- there - you know, it becomes cliche to say there are no good options here, but there really aren't. 
Bash threw another grenade at Flake, this time quoting former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, and wondered if Flake shared Clapper's concern:
I worry about,frankly, you know, the access to nuclear codes. If in a fit of pique, he decides to do something about Kim Jong-un, there's actually very little to stop him.
Here's his answer (there was a follow up nudge from Bash in here):
Well, I -- I do have good confidence in our national security team and those who are advising the president. And the president doesn't have experience in this -- in this kind of situation, but few presidents do when they come into office. And I'm confident that the people around the president are giving him good advice, and I believe that he will follow it. I sure hope he does. Obviously, you like a leader that's measured and sober and consistent. Our allies want to hear that. I think our adversaries need to hear that. But we have got a good team around the president... I have had my concerns, I think everyone has, at some of the statements that have been made by the president with regard to NATO and other areas in foreign policy. Like I said, I think we -- we want somebody who is -- who is measured and sober and consistent and conservative in this regard. But he has a good team around him, and I have confidence in them. 
She closed this part of the interview asking Flake for his opinion on Trump's threat to pull out of our trade deals with South Korea -- an ally of ours, by the way:
I -- I don't think that that would be good in any circumstances. Now, it's particularly troubling, given what South Korea is faced with. I think that we need to do more trade, not less. And withdrawing from trade agreements is a very troubling sign. 
Moving on to the potential that Trump will cancel DACA, the program that protects from deportation those children brought here illegally by their parents. Flake believes we need to "take immediate action to protect DACA kids." (As I was working on this post, word came that Trump will indeed cancel DACA, but with a 6-month delay, assuming he sticks with the decision.)

Bash asked if this Trump should go back on his promise, "very popular among Republicans in places like your state" to repeal DACA? 

Flake's answer is spot on.
Because it would be the right think to do to go back on a promise. Obviously you hope that presidents keep some of their campaign promises and you hope that they ignore others. This is one that he ought to ignore.
There are 800,00 DACA kids, kids who were brought across the border. The median age, I think, is six years old when they came across the border.  They should not be punished for the sins of their parents. That's just the basic principle that we ought to follow here. They are in -- either in school or have graduated and are working. Almost all of them, I think 90-some percent of them, are in the work force. To remove them from the country, to split up families like this, is just not the way we ought to go. 
Bash's follow up question? "If the president says that he will extend the protections for dreamers, but do it in exchange for funding from Congress, from you for his border wall, would you go along with that compromise?"
Obviously, all of us believe in border security. It depends on what he means by the wall. And we still really haven't seen what he means by the wall. If that's a metaphor for border security, we can certainly support that. But if he's talking about a solitary brick and mortar 2,000 mile edifice on the border, then no, nobody ought to support that. So, we really  haven't seen what the president is really talking about when he talks about the wall. 
Other than it must be aesthetically pleasing, maybe solar, and perhaps see through so we can be safe from the sacks of drugs being tossed over it.

Or, maybe, so we can duck from the agricultural workers and laborers jumping over it to steal jobs from Americans.

See you around campus.