Wednesday's HOT MIC

Welcome to HOT MIC, PJ Media's new daily liveblog. Join our editors and contributors for news updates and conversation throughout the day, and add your thoughts to the mix in our comments section at the bottom or by clicking on the comment bubbles on individual posts. Scroll down or click here for Liz's Morning Briefing.

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My contribution for today's meme features Bill Nye and the ghosts of some fairly mortified science guys.

So apparently the apocalypse has a fifth horseman.

At the University of Akron this semester students can take a course called "Trump's Triumph." According to the school's website:

The three-credit-hour course will focus on Trump’s win, his ability to assemble a diverse coalition of supporters, his beliefs and principles, and why the polls and pundits consistently got it wrong. Students will also dig into the reasons why people supported Trump throughout the campaign and ultimately decided to vote for him.

The course is offered through UA’s Department of Political Science in association with the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics. Undergraduates and graduate students of any major may enroll in the class.

Congressman Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) was a guest speaker at a recent class. Renacci, who is running for governor of Ohio, is an enthusiastic Trump supporter who cites Washington gridlock as one of the main reasons he wants to get out of Congress.

Notice how nobody in the picture is protesting or setting anything on fire? Unlike at Berkeley, they still tolerate some modicum of free speech at Ohio's government-funded schools.

Meanwhile, Kent State, that perpetual bastion of liberalism just a few miles east of UA, is offering a course called "Hillary Clinton Case Study: Perspectives on Gender and Power" and acting like it's something new and original. Sounds super fun.

UPDATE FROM NEWS & POLITICS DESK IN WASHINGTON: After tour buses shuttled senators from Capitol Hill to the Eisenhower executive office building for a White House briefing on North Korea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats declared in a joint statement that "with each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland."

The trio, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, said they briefed lawmakers on the results of a previously ordered presidential review of North Korea policy. President Trump's approach, they said, "aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners."

"We are engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on the DPRK in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue. We will maintain our close coordination and cooperation with our allies, especially the Republic of Korea and Japan, as we work together to preserve stability and prosperity in the region," the Tillerson, Mattis, Coats statement added.

"The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies."

The bell is tolling at ESPN. The sports network that recently published guidelines on how to rant about politics on air is laying off 100 people -- many of them on-air personalities.

Some tweets from a few of the more notable ESPN talent who have become a victim of ESPN's blatant left turn in politicizing sports:

Some on-air talent, like Karl Ravech, one of the premiere baseball analysts in the country, will see their on-air roles reduced.

Part of ESPN's problem has been the growth of individual sports networks like NFLTV, MLBTV, etc. Depending on the season, most die-hard sports fans would rather keep up to date with their sport on a network that supplies wall-to-wall coverage.

How much did ESPN's politicization of their network have to do with their financial fall? Hard to say, but it's equally difficult to imagine it had nothing to do with it.

The stock market didn't much like Trump's tax reform proposal and started tanking the moment Treasury Secretary Mnuchin started speaking.  The reason is unclear, since most of what Mnuchin said had been linked previously.  Partly it may be because of lack of detail and partly out of skepticism Trump can actually get his reforms passed.  Given the nature of our Congress, it's hard not to share that skepticism.  Also, there is fear of the deficit blowing up.  But there always is.  La plus ça change, la plus c'est la même.

You're welcome: Researchers say that eating boogers may help prevent cavities. In future-world, synthetic mucus "could be added to toothpaste or chewing gum." Next time you catch your kid with a finger up his nose, remind yourself that he may be saving you money on future dental bills.

President Trump is readying an executive order that would enable the US to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Politico:

A draft order has been submitted for the final stages of review and could be unveiled late this week or early next week, the officials said. The effort, which still could change in the coming days as more officials weigh in, would indicate the administration’s intent to withdraw from the sweeping pact by triggering the timeline set forth in the deal.

The approach appears designed to extract better terms with Canada and Mexico. President Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail to renegotiate NAFTA, a trade deal signed in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton that removes tariffs and allows for the free flow of goods and services between the three countries in North America. Trump in recent weeks has stepped up his rhetoric vowing to terminate the agreement altogether.

“NAFTA’s been very, very bad for our country,” he said in a speech last week in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all.”

Peter Navarro, the head of Trump’s National Trade Council, drafted the executive order in close cooperation with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. The executive order was submitted this week to the staff secretary for the final stages of review, according to one of the White House officials.

Generally speaking, I think the value of trade deals is overblown. NAFTA certainly had some intended and unintended consequences that have damaged some industries -- and boosted some others. If the president is using this executive order as a means to pressure Canada and Mexico, more power to him. But there's a chance that this will make our neighbors even more stubborn. Political leaders in both countries are democratically elected and appearing to cave in to President Trump's demands would not be popular.

It should be noted that the proximity to both Canada and Mexico means that no matter what happens with NAFTA, trade among the North American countries will continue. After all, these were our biggest trading partners before NAFTA and I suspect they would be in a world without the deal.

Update on the #CokeButtonGate  story I brought you earlier.

Ohhhhhh. Never mind.

Steve, we'll know Alexa's AI has become really advanced when Alexa knows to avoid answering the question "Does my butt look big in this?"