One area of remarkably stable public opinion

As much as American’s views have shifted fairly dramatically on gay rights and many other social/morality issues in recent years, the stability of abortion issues is all the more compelling.  Check out these charts from Gallup’s latest:

Line graph: Americans -- pro-choice or pro-life? 2018: 48% pro-choice, 48% pro-life. Highs of 56% pro-choice (1995), 51% pro-life (2009).

Line graph: Under what circumstances should abortions be legal? 2018: Under any (29%), under certain (50%), illegal in all (18%).

Actually, given the ongoing secularization of America, this is actually kind of surprising.  Like, what’s going on underneath the surface to keep these numbers so stable while America’s broader demographics and general attitudes towards morality continue to change.  It’s almost like some political scientist should look this.  If only I knew one with an interest in public opinion on abortion.

The worst deals

Just wow.  What can you even say about Trump and North Korea.  For a guy elected to be a “dealmaker” he is amazingly bad at this.  Of course, that was pretty obvious going in.  Kristof with a great take:

It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.

Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un. [emphases mine]

Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.

In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.

“They were willing to de-nuke,” Trump crowed at his news conference after his meetings with Kim. Trump seemed to believe he had achieved some remarkable agreement, but the concessions were all his own.

The most remarkable aspect of the joint statement was what it didn’t contain. There was nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

Kim seems to have completely out-negotiated Trump, and it’s scary that Trump doesn’t seem to realize this. 


So far, Kim Jong Un has gotten a summit that treated him as an equal on the world stage. He’s gotten an end to US-ROK military exercises. He’s gotten the United States to ignore his appalling human rights record. And he’s gotten lots of new leverage in his relationship with China.

Donald Trump has gotten—nothing. [bold is mine; Drum in italics] Actually, that’s not quite right. He’s gotten less than North Korea has promised other presidents in previous negotiations. There was only the vaguest gesture toward ending its nuclear program. There was no promise of a testing moratorium. There was no promise of a development moratorium. There was no mention of “tangible” or “irreversible” or “permanent,” all of which had been previous US demands.

This. Is. F***ing [my family-friend edit]. Nuts.

I also appreciate Drum pointing out the non-thinking (and therefore, ultimately beneficial to Trump) stenography of so much of the media.  The LA Times, gets it, though, “Trump-Kim Jong Un summit fails to produce disarmament plan.”

And Chait on Trump’s absurdly positive comments about North Korea:

Trump: Well, we’ve given him — I don’t wanna talk about it specifically, but we’ve given him — he’s going to be happy. His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor.

If you fail to demonstrate a sufficient level of public fervor for the Kim family, you are at risk of being imprisoned, tortured, or killed.

International relations often require making deals with evil regimes. But it doesn’t require actually endorsing the internal character of those regimes. American presidents can still speak out about human-rights abuses, or hold their tongues strategically. Republicans used to fetishize the willingness of their leaders to boldly stand tall to the world’s dictators, imagining that the correct combination of inspirational rhetoric would eventually tear down the gulags by sheer force of oratory. Indeed, they lavished praise on Trump for this very thing as recently as a few months ago. It is telling that he can reverse himself so easily and completely as to now stand as the world’s most prominent North Korean apologist.


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