Friday Reads: Venal Reads and Ethereal Art

“White Rose and Red Rose” by Margaret MacDonald MacKintosh (Glasgow School of Art Nouveau)

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’m going to comfort us with some artwork from Margaret MacDonald MacKintosh who is one of the artists of the Glasgow School of Art Nouveau.  My grandmother went to college during this period of style and as part of the philosophy of the time she learned how to do an art.  She did wood burning.  My sister has one of her vases and I have two of her handkerchief boxes.

I fell in love with the stylized flowers and ladies of the artists of this period through her. She died when I was pretty young but I managed to scoop up all most all of the Art Nouveau things in the house that landed in the basement in my painting corner until they got drug off to my dorm room at university.  I have her gorgeous face powder jar with silver lid and embellishments sitting on my desk right next to this laptop.  I was fortunate–at 7–to be the only one interested in any of this.

So, it appears that KKKremlin Caligula may have fallen for the oldest NK trick in its book.  One that somewhat ensnared Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter during their terms.  Will this time be any different?

He’s agreed to meet “little Rocket Man” who the South Koreans insist is ready to disarm.  Like Charlie Brown facing Lucy’s football, we’ve seen this play before.  Is the son any more reliable than his father or grandfather before him?  Here’s alink to the Arms Control history between SK, NK and the US.

For years, the United States and the international community have tried to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and its export of ballistic missile technology. Those efforts have been replete with periods of crisis, stalemate, and tentative progress towards denuclearization, and North Korea has long been a key challenge for the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

The United States has pursued a variety of policy responses to the proliferation challenges posed by North Korea, including military cooperation with U.S. allies in the region, wide-ranging sanctions, and non-proliferation mechanisms such as export controls. The United States also engaged in two major diplomatic initiatives to have North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons efforts in return for aid.

In 1994, faced with North Korea’s announced intent to withdraw from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires non-nuclear weapon states to forswear the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons, the United States and North Korea signed the Agreed Framework. Under this agreement, Pyongyang committed to freezing its illicit plutonium weapons program in exchange for aid.

Following the collapse of this agreement in 2002, North Korea claimed that it had withdrawn from the NPT in January 2003 and once again began operating its nuclear facilities.

The second major diplomatic effort were the Six-Party Talks initiated in August of 2003 which involved China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. In between periods of stalemate and crisis, those talks arrived at critical breakthroughs in 2005, when North Korea pledged to abandon “all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” and return to the NPT, and in 2007, when the parties agreed on a series of steps to implement that 2005 agreement.

Those talks, however, broke down in 2009 following disagreements over verification and an internationally condemned North Korea rocket launch. Pyongyang has since stated that it would never return to the talks and is no longer bound by their agreements. The other five parties state that they remain committed to the talks, and have called for Pyongyang to recommit to its 2005 denuclearization pledge.

Embroidered panel circa 1902

This site has a link to all the efforts placed in chronological order.  It’s a good link to save and review as we take a look at Charlie Brown facing that football yet again.

The dotard is so hungry for a win and attention that he completely blindsided his State Department. The State Department just lost its chief North Korea expert on top of that.  He even rushed to the podium a few hours after the State Department had announced there would be no news on the Koreas.   Tillerson has already walked this back a bit insisting there may be “talks” but no “negotiations”.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson drew a distinction Friday between “talks” with North Korea and “negotiations,” arguing that President Donald Trump’s willingness to chat with Kim Jong Un shouldn’t be construed as anything more than that.

The stunning announcement that Trump had agreed to a meeting with the North Korean leader raised questions about what had changed after months of Tillerson and other Trump officials insisting the conditions weren’t right for negotiations with Pyongyang. Tillerson said that Trump has been open to mere talks and a meeting with Kim “for some time,” and had decided on Thursday that “the time was right.”

Indeed, the nation’s diplomats are trying seriously to not give North Korea what it so desperately craves.  That would be an air of legitimacy with no cost.

President Trump’s high-wire gambit to accept a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sets off a scramble among U.S. officials to assemble a team capable of supporting a historic summit of longtime adversaries and determine a viable engagement strategy.

State Department officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were playing down the immediacy of talks in the hours before the White House rolled out the South Korean national security adviser, who made the surprise announcement that Trump would meet with Kim.

The apparent lack of coordination marked a pattern of mixed messaging that has characterized the Trump administration’s North Korea diplomacy since Pyongyang launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile last year, sparking the Trump White House’s biggest national security crisis to date.

Now the White House has committed to an unprecedented meeting at a time when the administration lacks a fully staffed cadre of diplomats and advisers.

The U.S. point person on North Korea, special envoy Joseph Yun, announced his retirement in late February and has not been replaced. More than a year in, the administration has yet to nominatean ambassador to South Korea. And the Senate has not confirmed the top U.S. diplomat to eastern Asia.

The artist

Many politicians without a grounding in our Foreign and Diplomatic policy history naively agree to “meet with every one”.  This was something Obama said he would do at one point.  However, the State Department quickly brought him into the fold.  Obama’s first year was centered squarely on our allies.  

But perhaps his priorities have been hinted at in comments made by Hillary Clinton, the designated U.S. secretary of state, earlier this week.

“The new administration will reach out across the Atlantic to leaders in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and others including and especially, the new democracies.”

Hillary Clinton was pretty clear on the subject of just meeting with every one through out her career including during a debate in 2007 with then candidate Obama.

Q: Is Sen. Obama “not yet ready” to be president?

CLINTON: I’m running on my own qualifications and experience. It’s really up to the voters to make these decisions. I think we have a great group of candidates. You don’t have to be against anybody. You can choose who you’re for.

Q: But you did say that Sen. Obama’s views on meeting with foreign dictators are “naive and irresponsible.” Doesn’t that imply that he’s not ready for the office?

CLINTON: Well, we had a specific disagreement, because I do not think that a president should give away the bargaining chip of a personal meeting with any leader, unless you know what you’re going to get out of that. It takes a lot of planning to move an agenda forward, particularly with our adversaries. You should not telegraph to our adversaries that you’re willing to meet with them without preconditions during the first year in office.

OBAMA: Strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk with our adversaries. We shouldn’t be afraid to do so.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

My friend Tim Shorrock–whose an expert on the Koreas–thinks it’s possible this might be a good thing. He’s exploring things today on Democracy Now.  He’s met with the new SK President and knows the situation fairly well.  He believes this might work.

Well, the significance is that when President Moon took office last May, he said South Korea should be in the driver’s seat of the Korea peace initiative and in engagement with North Korea. South Korea should be in the driver’s seat. And he has remained there, and he has stayed there. He made offers last year to North Korea to meet. They rejected it. They didn’t respond for over a year, as they kept going on their nuclear and missile program to defend themselves against what they believe is a threat from the United States. And finally, on January 1st, Kim Jong-un said he would send a high-level delegation to the Olympics and would engage with talks with South Korea. And this is a result of the South Korean initiative.

And so, you know, the fact that Trump may have poked his head in there and may have heard about the meeting, briefing, at the last minute, shows that South Korea is in fact in the driver’s seat. And I think that’s very important. And, you know, the United States has been supporting these initiatives, despite the fact that Vice President Pence went to the Olympics and completely ignored the North Koreans behind him and was very rude to his Korean hosts. They know that these talks have been going on. And so, I think we really need to focus on the role that South Korea has played and the historical—you know, the history of North-South engagement and talks.

“Junirosen “1898

He also has inkled he might be  on Chris Hayes later today. You may want to read his earlier thoughts here at The Nation.

As a wide range of American experts and former policy-makers have argued, if the United States is serious about negotiations, it must respond to Pyongyang’s fears by offering an “off-ramp” with something in return. The dual-freeze proposal “could lead to a breakthrough in the impasse, but this would require Washington to seriously consider its own responsibility for resolving the nuclear problem,” wrote John Merrill, the former chief of the Northeast Asia division of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department, in a recent op-edfor the Japanese newspaper Nikkei Asian Review.

Specifically, that means addressing North Korea’s concerns, including its belief that nuclear weapons are its only defense against a United States that turned the country into ashes during the Korean War and is threatening to do so again. The North is also (understandably) worried about the war games, in which thousands of US and South Korean soldiers train for nuclear strikes as well as “decapitation” operations that would eliminate North Korea’s leadership. And therein lies the way out.

North Korea says that it will not negotiate until the United States formally ends the state of enmity that exists between the two nations—steps that both sides agreed to take during the only successful round of US–North Korean negotiations, in the late 1990s. It restated that formula in August, when Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told a forum of Asian diplomats that the North would not put its nukes and missiles on the bargaining table “unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. against the [North] are fundamentally 

Washington should see that as an opening and consider concrete steps to convince North Korea—as well as the South—that it wants to resolve this conflict without a war. Number one on that list should be an offer to curtail the military exercises that began in late August and will pick up again—with a far greater number of troops—next spring. But there’s only one way to know if this approach will work: Send Secretary Tillerson to Pyongyang, and start talking. Judging by his recent compliments to Kim’s “restraint,” that may be about to happen.

“Queen of Hearts” ; one of a set of the 4 Queens


Trump’s been fixated on just about everywhere but our allies and democracies.  Many feel that Trump is giving NK what it’s always wanted.

For more than two decades, successive North Korean leaders—first Kim Il Sung, then Kim Jong Il, and now Kim Jong Un—have sought to meet a sitting U.S. president as equals and enter comprehensive talks on the future of the Korean Peninsula. No sitting president has accepted; Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both went to North Korea, but after their terms had ended.

There was a good reason for this U.S. refusal to meet with any North Korean leader. Not only do the two countries have a deep history of mistrust and enmity, with Pyongyang not only regularly threatening nuclear war but also having defected from multiple diplomatic agreements, a one-on-one meeting with a U.S. president would serve as a major propaganda coup for the North.

Last year, when North Korea credibly demonstrated that it had mastered the technology required to throw thermonuclear payloads across the globe, to U.S. homeland targets, its envoys began referencing the idea of a “balance of power” with the United States. The idea was for Pyongyang to place itself in a stable nuclear deterrent relationship with the United States.

North Korea has long sought to be treated as an equal by Washington; nuclear weapons, in addition to the pragmatic survival and deterrence benefits they confer, undoubtedly also bring Pyongyang status. Kim hopes to convert that status into diplomatic capital, sitting down with Trump for a comprehensive discussion about the future of the Korean Peninsula, nuclear weapon state to nuclear weapon state.

It’s not clear that the Trump administration has internalized this.

Let’s add to the amazing level of corruption achieved by the Trump/Kushner Family Crime Syndicate with this tidbit. “Jersey Shore town seeks ferry to dock next to Kushner resort.”

The federal government has been advising a beach town on the Jersey Shore on plans to build a pier and start a ferry service that would speed New Yorkers to the doorstep of a resort co-owned by Jared Kushner.

Kushner’s resort sits right next to the proposed pier, which places the federal government in the awkward position of helping steer a project that would benefit President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Once the project is complete, a former city official said, it would boost property values at the Kushner resort, which is currently selling 269 condos for as much as $1.9 million each.

“The Mysterious Garden”

And this: “Michael Cohen used Trump company email in Stormy Daniels arrangements.”

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney used his Trump Organization email while arranging to transfer money into an account at a Manhattan bank before he wired $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence.

The lawyer, Michael Cohen, also regularly used the same email account during 2016 negotiations with the actress — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — before she signed a nondisclosure agreement, a source familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

And Clifford’s attorney at the time addressed correspondence to Cohen in his capacity at the Trump Organization and as “Special Counsel to Donald J. Trump,” the source said.


“The Three Perfumes”

Sam Nuneberg has showed up to the Grand Jury as ordered.

Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg arrived at District Court in Washington, DC, Friday morning, where he is expected to deliver federal grand jury testimony as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Nunberg is the first recognizable Trump campaign affiliate to appear at a grand jury hearing related to Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election by walking

through the main entrance of the federal courthouse and heading to the grand jury area. Other witnesses have presumably testified before Mueller’s grand jury since it started meeting last July, but none have made as public an appearance.

Nunberg did not speak to the press outside the courthouse or on his way into the grand jury area Friday morning. He was accompanied by his lawyer, and a court marshal led them into the grand jury area at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Are we all winning yet?  Is this how winning feels?

Well, check in and let us know what’s on your reading and blogging list today!

14 Comments on “Friday Reads: Venal Reads and Ethereal Art”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The artwork is lovely and I’m somewhat comforted. I was surprised to see that Tim Shorrock is in favor of the direct meeting. He attacked Rachel Maddow over it.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Love the artwork, dak!!

    I am too much of a cynic to be awed by this latest news that NK and President Unfit will meet in May.

    Trump is looking for an excuse to get away from the affairs at home (tongue in cheek here) and look as if he knows what he is doing. He doesn’t (think trade wars) and NK is well aware of his deficiencies.

    Will he give away the store because they “praise” him? Will he make secret deals in thinking they like him? Is this merely a stunt to appeal to his vanity? Could it be all a joke on us?

    This guy is too shaky emotionally to delve into diplomacy with this murderous lout. Throw him a parade and he will give in to every item on NK’s wish list. All he desires is a photo op to ensure himself that his “greatness” is on display. So no, I do not trust either side in this circus.

    Trump the Chump cannot escape Mueller no matter who he agrees to meet with.

    When will this carnival finally come to a full stop?

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. Sweet Sue says:

    Dak, great paintings: a water color combination of Beardsley and Klimt but Klimt (one of my total faves) without the gold leaf and Beardsley in color. Why have I never heard of this artist?

    Oh, yeah, I know why.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Looks like the Brits want to find out for certain just how Skripal’s wife and son died.

    • NW Luna says:

      • quixote says:

        Whoa. How persistent is this nerve agent? ?? I gather the educated guess are that it’s a new class of neurotoxins from Russian labs. In the same general group as VX?, but worse. Does VX not degrade for years? Yikes.