The Daily(ish) Review

The Daily(ish) Review: Artful Wording

I'm in Portland for a couple of days. I came down to shoot some photos of a band recording a new album. I don't want to steal their thunder, so I'll leave it at - great band, the new album is going to be excellent.

Fueled up on some free coffee in the hotel lobby. It's no Nescafé Clasico, but it's very good.

I read some online news and tweets this morning. It sounds like Trump is in Europe damaging decades old relationships. Opinions on NATO vary widely across the political spectrum. It will be interesting to see how people respond. Actually, it will only be moderately interesting, for a short time. We can probably come up with a couple of hypothetical replies that will cover most of the responses.

Trump (paraphrased): Germany is under the control of Russia because it relies on Russian natural gas. Why should we pay to defend Germany when Germany turns around and sends billions to Russia.

Hypothetical Reply: Trump is tougher on Russia than his predecessors and NATO.

Hypothetical Reply: Trump wants to weaken NATO, which will strengthen Russia and make it easier for right leaning governments in Europe to get cozier with Russia. His claim here is more about causing tension within NATO than it is about actual concern over Russian influence.

Hypothetical Reply: The American people are tired of footing the bill for everyone's defense while they hand out money like candy to their citizens and immigrants. Trump is a straight-shooter who is finally putting America first.

I suspect we'll hear variations on those themes throughout the NATO summit. Questioning the mission, purpose, and scope of NATO is always fair game. We should do that with any treaty or policy. But it's a little embarrassing (to me at least) to hear the United States act as if it were tricked into the whole arrangement.

We played an important role in setting it up, and we believed that it was vital to our security. Sure, we paid a lot of money into it and provided most of the military deterrent. But Europe was rebuilding after World War II, and they were the ones providing the land for U.S. bases. Their countries would suffer devastating destruction if conflict broke out between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. There would have been at least some chance that cooler heads would prevail before the United States or Russia proper were threatened. I'd say the two big kids on the block got a pretty good bargain.

Enough of that. I also saw an article on CNN discussing some of VP Pence's comments about Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh, and Russia. His comments on Russia were a masterclass in the art of the vague dodge.

Pence: 'I do' still want Roe v. Wade to be overturned (Claire Foran)

"How is somebody who your own intelligence community says was involved in meddling in American elections not a foe of America?" Bash asked.

"Well, I think the President's word today was 'competitor,'" Pence said. 

"You don't think he's more than that -- an actual adversary?" Bash pressed. 

"I don't think we have any illusions about Putin or about Russia," Pence said.

He also said of a planned one-on-one meeting next Monday between Trump and Putin, "The meeting in Helsinki will be an opportunity for the President to sit down and, I think, evaluate the leader of Russia in a fresh way."

- "I don't think we have any illusions about Putin or about Russia." That, kids, is an artful dodge. I need to remember that one. It seems like it says so much, but in the end it doesn't say anything. Is he emphasizing that they've got an accurate handle on the Russia Factor, or is he signaling that the administration knows that Russia shouldn't be trusted. Neither? Both?