Good Wednesday morning. The WashPost's Capital Weather Gang says a blizzard-like "bomb cyclone" will blast the East Coast, Georgia to Maine, beginning tomorrow: "[P]ressure is predicted to fall … fast, an indicator of explosive strengthening. The storm could rank as the most intense over the waters east of New England in decades at this time of year."
President Trump's boast last night that he has a "bigger & more powerful" Nuclear Button (caps, Trump's) than North Korea has some administration insiders worried that we could blunder into war.
But, but, but: Trump insiders caution that the media tends to over-interpret and over-cover statements that Trump has made just to stir the pot, and with little prior thought.
Why it matters: The danger here is that Kim is also an unpredictable actor, and not one fully understood by U.S. intelligence.
Be smart: Some West Wing insiders remain convinced that the risk of war is higher than most outsiders realize.
Reality check: No button — just a football and a biscuit ... "[T]he president doesn't actually have a physical button," by AP's Matthew Pennington notes:
Same for Kim ... Per the N.Y. Times: "[O]fficials ... dismissed Mr. Kim's comment that he now has a 'nuclear button' on his desk as a rhetorical flourish"
After Trump's Twitter tantrums yesterday — calling for the jailing of a political opponent and bragging his nuclear button is bigger than North Korea's — CNN used its powerful platforms and people to suggest the president is mentally unstable.
Why it matters: Trump has been known to watch CNN at that hour, and Stelter ended his item: "Was Trump watching?"
"For decades, those living in Iran's provincial towns and villages were regarded as the backbone of the country's Islamic regime. They tended to be conservative, averse to change and pious followers of the sober Islamic lifestyle promoted by the state," N.Y. Times Tehran bureau chief Thomas Erdbrink writes:
"In less than a decade, all that has changed. A 14-year drought has emptied villages, with residents moving to nearby cities where they often struggle to find jobs.""Access to satellite television and, more important, the mobile internet has widened their world."Be smart: These small town have now led a rolling uprising that has thrown Iranian politics and life into chaos. And they have done the unthinkable: unified a lot of America leaders in cheering them on.
CFR President Richard Haass tells me that the title of his book a year ago, "A World in Disarray," actually understated the situation.
Key points Haass added for this edition:
The unsurprising announcement by Senate President Pro Tem Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), 83, that he's retiring at the end of this term — and his likely replacement by Mitt Romney, who yesterday changed his Twitter location to "Holladay, UT" — is "another political setback for Mr. Trump," per N.Y. Times' Jonathan Martin:
Salt Lake Tribune: "[O]ne Romney confidant ... said Tuesday was 'Orrin's day' and the Romney circle didn't want to intrude on that [with a campaign announcement]. But the trajectory seems set."N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Hatch: "I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I've brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington. But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching."
"One of the biggest names in Silicon Valley is placing a moonshot bet on bitcoin," the Wall Street Journal's Rob Copeland writes on A1:
PEOPLE magazine's forthcoming cover story, with the announcement yesterday that Hoda Kotb (HOH'-dah KAHT'-bee) will join Savannah Guthrie as co-anchor of NBC's "Today":
"Our fresh start: One month after Matt Lauer's shocking dismissal, the show's first-ever female anchor team open up about friendship, forgiveness and what's next," by Charlotte Triggs:
Cover story of the forthcoming N.Y. Times Magazine ... "The Case for the Subway: It built the city. Now, no matter the cost — at least $100 billion — the city must rebuild it to survive," by Jonathan Mahler: