Elliot: Trump flounders on North Korea, tax reform

Confused with today’s political climate? You’re not alone. But so often, it just feels that way.



North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over a military parade held in Pyongyang to mark the 105th birthday of late founder Kim Il-sung on April 15, 2017. (Yonhap News/Newscom/Zuma Press/TNS)

Given our times (and they are the only times we’ve been given), “confusing” seems to be the word of the day. If we have a word of the day. That’s another point of confusion.

Take North Korea. No, really. It’s all yours. The rest of us have no grand designs on ever wanting North Korea. I mean, we’re able to get good kimchi in the United States and have been able for some decades.

It’s hard to tell, at least on a good day, what U.S. policy toward North Korea exactly is, except that Our Great Leader is full of fire and fury. Oh, and he included North Korea on his latest travel-ban list. Meaning, of course, North Koreans can’t journey to the great U.S. of A., at least not until a court blocks the newest travel ban as the courts did with the previous bans.

It’s all rather curious, because only around 20 North Koreans ever want to come here in the first place. So, um, yeah. Confusing. Maybe that’s called taking a bold stand.

There was a glimmer of hope a few days ago (you know, that faint glimmer that keeps recurring in books we’d rather not admit we read). Secretary of State Rex Tillerman, who was in Beijing and could get all the tea he wanted, said the administration had some kind of means of communication with North Korea.

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Well, yeah, that’s the proverbial faint glimmer, but it’s better than the two leaders shouting insults at each other over the Pacific and demonstrating a rather thorough lack of imagination. I mean, “dotard”? Really? What’s next? Your plum jelly is full of prunes?

Naturally, all that wasn’t confusing enough, so the Bot-in-Chief weighed in on his tweet horn: Tillerman is “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man. Save your energy, Rex, we’ll do what has to be done.”

No, that’s not a bit confusing. Are we on the verge of war? (Don’t we have enough wars going on? Can you ever get enough war?) On the verge of bluster? (If this is the verge, we’re not so sure we want to stick around for the real bluster.) Is Our Great Leader trying to goad the North Koreans? Or is this a not-so-subtle message to Tillerman that he’s the next Cabinet secretary on his way out?

Confused enough? If not, you’re not really trying.

All right. If you want the real confusion, forget North Korea (which is what most Americans try to do anyway, as much as possible.) Try taxes.

Lately, there’s been an onslaught (well, OK, a spurt) of GOP types popping up in various locales, touting the “middle-class tax cut.” Very earnest, very pleased with themselves.

Except that, as bits of the plan dribble out as if they were classified hyper-top secret, we discover that the bottom half on the economic scale would get 10 percent of the tax cuts, the top 0.1 percent 30 percent.

So under the Trumpster’s tax plan, middle-class people (especially upper-middle) would no longer be able to deduct state and local taxes from their federal income tax. Yeah, we know: taxes, taxes, deductions, crickets.

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But here’s something. There are five states with relatively high state and local taxes that could no longer be deducted: California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Ding-ding. Yes, they are also states that traditionally vote heavily Democratic.

Just a coincidence, of course. Republicans would never design a tax plan aimed at crunching Democratic voters, would they? Of course not. Coincidences abound in this crazy world, and what can one do?

Be confused.

And no, there’s not an app for that.

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