The coalition problem was that she needed support from the leftist Greens and pro-market Free Democrats.
She couldn’t find common ground between them.
Comment: Her larger problem is that she’s past her “sell-by” date and has a tin-ear for ordinary Germans’ disgust with open borders, which have led to millions of immigrants and serious problems with unassimilated Muslim populations.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Democrats win big in off-year elections. The most important: a surprisingly large victory in the Virginia Governor’s race
Comment: NJ returning to a Democratic governor is not surprising. In Virginia, which is shifting from purple to a blue state because of the DC suburbs, the surprise is not Ralph Northam’s win but his 9-point margin over a good Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie.
Northam’s margin tells me Democrats are motivated, even after a divisive primary. Hillary won Virginia by 5 points. Down-ballot Democrats are also doing very well.
◆President Trump’s begins his biggest stop: Beijing
There are three major issues on the table: North Korea, China’s expansion in the South China Sea, and China’s asymmetrical trade relations with the US.
The 2015 Department of Defense Inspector General report analyzed a sample of 1,102 convictions, including felonies, handled in the military court system and found the Navy, Air Force and Marines failed to send criminal history or fingerprint data to the FBI in about 30 percent of them. –Fox News
Senate Finance Committee votes unanimously on these sanctions, just as Pres. Trump lands in Beijing.
The U.S. Senate Banking Committee unanimously backed new sanctions targeting Chinese banks that do business with North Korea on Tuesday, just before President Donald Trump visits Beijing for the first time since taking office….
Washington so far has largely held off on imposing new sanctions against Chinese banks and companies doing business with North Korea, given fears of retaliation by Beijing and possibly far-reaching effects on the world economy.–Reuters
The story about Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson and Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, comes from one of our best investigative reporters, Catherine Herridge.
The co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the unverified Trump dossier, met with a Russian lawyer before and after a key meeting she had last year with Trump’s son, Fox News has learned. The contacts shed new light on how closely tied the firm was to Russian interests, at a time when it was financing research to discredit then-candidate Donald Trump….
Simpson and Fusion GPS were hired by BakerHostetler, which represented Russian firm Prevezon through Veselnitskaya. –Catherine Herridge for Fox News
Comment: So, Fusion GPS was simultaneously working for this Russian firm and the Clinton campaign. That could be an innocent coincidence . . . or it could lead to some “synergies.” So far, Fusion GPS has taken the 5th before Congressional investigative committees and fiercely resisted subpoenas for any records of their financial transactions.
The bureaucracies did not inform each other, so none had a full picture of the lethal danger he posed.
Some of this information might have blocked gun purchases
Comment: As we learned after 9/11, you can’t connect the dots if bureaucracies don’t share information. In the 9/11 case, the failure was the predictable consequence of laws blocking such sharing between the FBI (focused on domestic crime prosecution) and the CIA/NSA (focused on foreign issues, not crime, and prohibited from domestic spying). Terrorists exploited those “stovepipes” by moving across borders.
In the Texas case, it was simply the military’s failure to enter info in shared databases. In the case of the shooter’s escape from a mental hospital, we don’t know why that information was not entered into shared databases, where it could have blocked gun purchases.
Even if the information is available, there is so much of it that local law enforcement may not be able to sort through it and use it effectively.
◆Very tight governor’s race in today’s Virginia election:
UPDATE: Democrat Wins
The state has been trending Democratic for some years, fueled by population growth in the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia.
Hillary won the state by 5 points and Trump’s unpopularity in North Virginia is why he didn’t campaign for the Republican, the first Presidential no-show in half a century.
That’s why the Democrat tried to make it a “national” election while the Republican tried to make it “local.”
Beyond the usual impact on policy, the winner will influence Virginia’s redistricting after the 2020 Census.
Comment: Mostly North Korea but also some trade issues.
For the US and its strong ally, Japan, the problem is South Korea’s leftist president, Moon Jae-In.
He was soft on North Korea before the election, a long-held, principled position. He has been somewhat firmer since then because of Kim’s provocations.
The main problem, though, is that he wants much closer relations with Beijing and is willing to back away from the US to get that. Beijing is concerned about US anti-missile defense in South Korea and would be very concerned if the US returned nuclear weapons to the peninsula. South Korea’s Moon has essentially caved to Beijing’s demands.
China’s leaders will be taking the measure of Trump’s clout during his visit to Seoul. If he can get real strategic, security cooperation from Moon, China will be more inclined to cooperate with Trump’s initiatives. If not, not.
Xi and his advisers were doubtless pleased by Trump’s offer to negotiate with North Korea. So was Moon. But Trump, unlike Obama, believes in negotiating from a position of strength, not making “feel good” concessions without reciprocity. He won’t do anything that hints he is taking harsher actions off the table.
The key, then: The visit to Seoul is mostly about Beijing, and all the stops are about Pyongyang.
In U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Fusion GPS, the dossier’s financier via the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign money, is fighting a House committee chairman’s bid to find out if the opposition research firm paid journalists.
In U.S. District Court in Florida, a self-described dossier victim wants a judge to order the news website BuzzFeed, which published the dossier in full, to disclose who gave it to them. –Washington Times
Comment: Fusion GPS is fighting so tenacious to prevent any disclosures of their receipts and expenditures, you can’t help but think they might have something to hide.
Pleading the 5th Amendment before Congress was also a hint.
Hat Tip to
◆ Tim Favero for the Vassar, William Jacobson story
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ There are three stories today about Russia’s involvement in US politics, and all three are bad for the Democrats
How big the stories become–how serious the resulting scandals–depends on additional investigation and investigative reporting.
◆ Story #1: That scandalous, largely-discredited “Russian Dossier,” which led to the federal investigations of the Trump Campaign, was financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary’s Campaign
The Washington Post broke the story (link here) They report that the Clinton campaign, using a Washington lawyer as a cutout, retained Fusion GPS to do the dirty work. Fusion GPS has fought strenuously to prevent any disclosure of who paid them and invoked their 5th amendment privilege against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before Congress.
The Clinton campaign, like others, used a lawyer to hire these contractors so their communications would be protected by attorney-client privilege.
The Clinton people have never acknowledged a connection to Fusion GPS or the dossier.
◆ Story #2: Mueller’s Russia Probe turns toward key Democratic insiders
Paul Manafort is also a major target but, according to reports, this top Republican operative worked closely with the Podesta Group, closely aligned with the Clintons.
A thus-far-reliable source who used to be involved with Clinton allies John and Tony Podesta told Tucker Carlson that press reports appearing to implicate President Trump in Russian collusion are exaggerated.
The source, who Carlson said he would not yet name, said he worked for the brothers’ Podesta Group and was privy to some information from Robert Mueller’s special investigation.
While media reports describe former “Black, Manafort & Stone” principal Paul Manafort as Trump’s main tie to the investigation, the source said it is Manafort’s role as a liaison between Russia and the Podesta Group that is drawing the scrutiny.
The “vehicle” Manafort worked for was what Carlson called a “sham” company with a headquarters listed in Belgium but whose contact information was linked to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. –Fox News
Comment: National news media have not reported this news.
◆ Story #3: Russian bribery, money-laundering, speaker fees to Bill Clinton, and over $100 million to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was Sec. of State and the Russians were federal approval to buy US uranium assets
Actually House Republicans announced two new investigations (link here):
In the first of two back-to-back announcements, the top Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees said they would formally examine the Obama Justice Department’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s emails. Less than an hour later, Republicans from the Intelligence and Oversight Committees said they were opening a separate inquiry into the administration’s approval of a 2010 agreement that left a Russian-backed company in control of much of the United States’ uranium. –New York Times
Comment: The NYT story downplays the significance and suggests it is all simply partisan squabbling about a now-departed administration.
I think they underestimate the possible ramifications of both investigations.
The Uranium One deal is a particularly thorny issue for the Clintons and the Obama Administration because Obama’s FBI and DOJ knew of Russian bribery and other criminal activity before the deal was approved. Congress was not informed, as it should have been. Their objections might have blocked the deal. The public was kept completely in the dark. Mueller was head of the FBI at this time. One of the Russians reportedly involved in this illegal activity was given a US visa twice during this period by Hillary’s State Department. One major question is whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from these Russia issues, will appoint a Special Counsel to investigate this and perhaps the Clinton emails, where then FBI-director Comey wrote a memo clearing Hillary long before key witnesses had been interviewed.
The most important implication: The FBI (under Mueller) looks to be deeply compromised.
◆Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will not run for re-election. He and Sen. Bob Corker (D-TN), who is also retiring, lacerated Pres. Trump in speeches, interviews, and social media. Their rebukes are reported here(Reuters)
Flake’s attack was on Trump’s conduct and dishonesty. Flake’s actual voting record is very supportive of Trump legislation.
Flake, who has very high disapproval numbers in his home state, was likely to lose his primary contest.
All seven members of the Party’s Standing Committee were in their 60s. Rising stars in their 50s were not included.
Comment: The absence of an heir-apparent, Xi’s cult of personality, and his name’s inclusion in the party constitution all raise speculation he might eventually seek a third-term, which had been ruled out after Mao’s death.
“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” [Prof. Rochelle] Gutiérrez argued [in a book aimed at K-12 math teachers].
Truly, you cannot make this up. Here’s what the professor writes:
If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”
To fight this, Gutiérrez encourages aspiring math teachers to develop a sense of “political conocimiento,” a Spanish phrase for “political knowledge for teaching.”
Comment #1: Please note, Prof. Gutiérrez thinks it is rank racism to judge people in a math class on whether they can reason abstractly. In fact, math is abstract reasoning.
Comment #2: Why, Professor, does all this whiteness and white privilege in math not seem to hold back Asians and Asian-Americans in US math classes? This is not a trivial issue or mere debating point. Note, too, that many of the Asian-American students come from lower-income families. Hmmmm.
Comment #3: Gutiérrez is a professor of education, where this kind of political blather, masquerading as scholarship, is commonplace. Poor scholarship and political propaganda are major problems in Ed Schools across the country. So is the soft curriculum, which leads to adverse selection (namely, compared to other students, those who major in education consistently have some of the lowest SATs and lowest GPAs outside their majors).
I remember all the justified complaints by feminists when a Barbie doll said, “Math is hard.” They said, rightly, that the comments were demeaning to women and sending the wrong message to girls. Sorry to see Prof. Gutiérrez sending the same message to minorities and dressing up in the costume of social justice.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Biggest story of the week is just under the radar: China’s Xi is consolidating his power to become most powerful leader since Mao
Comment: This week’s Party Congress, held every five years, is the moment when Xi will try to push aside many of the constraints installed after Mao to prevent one-man rule. He has already done a lot of that, installing his people in the military and using the anti-corruption campaign to remove adversaries (and leave political friends and family untouched).
By the end of the week, we’ll know if Xi has succeeded since some rule-breaking will be obvious by then (particularly waiving a rule that would require his political enforcer to retire because of age).
The FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.
Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.
They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill. –John Solomon and Alison Spann in The Hill
◆Austria’s new leader: very young (31), very opposed to floods of new immigrants(x)
Under Mr. Kurz, the staid, traditionally conservative People’s Party was refashioned into a social-media-savvy political movement that attracted hundreds of thousands of new supporters in a campaign focused on limiting immigration and strengthening the country’s social welfare system.
Kurz will need to form a coalition government.
The most likely coalition partner appeared to be the nationalist, populist Freedom Party, which initial results showed winning 27.1 percent of the vote. The party complained during the election campaign that Mr. Kurz had stolen its playbook, seizing on issues like limits to immigration and the threat posed to Austrian identity by Islam.–New York Times
Comment: Kim Jong Un’s desire for a deliverable nuclear arsenal is comprehensible as a defense for his regime. These kinds of threats are not comprehensible–or are badly misjudged. Presumably, they are trying to move the US off any military option. But Kim’s statements do highlight the very real danger of accident or inadvertent escalation.
◆Trump and McConnell show unity . . . at least for now
Comment: It is all tactical, and it’s all about the tax reform bill, which is essential politically for Republicans on the Hill.
They will also look for other areas to notch some wins, including judicial nominees, which have moved far too slowly through the Senate, as conservatives see it. Democrats have used every delaying tactic on the nominees and Republicans have let them get away with it.
No specifics on how the league plans to ensure it or act toward players who do not stand.
Comment #1: ESPN broke into their political coverage to cover this sports story.
Comment #2 re Trump vs NFL kneelers: ZipDialog predicted
(a) the league would cave after seeing the fans’ and advertisers’ reactions,
(b) Trump was politically smart to make this an issue; most people respect the flag, and ALL his base does; and
(c) when Trump won on this issue, he wouldn’t be shy about saying so.
Comment: Now that he has been destroyed, the powerful people and institutions will finally speak.
I completely understand why the weak and vulnerable kept quiet; they are victims. But the powerful and well-entrenched who knew about this have no such excuses.
◆ The next phases of the Weinstein story, as I see it
Comment: Here are some obvious angles. The question is whether the media wants to investigate, given that they are directly implicated, along with their powerful friends:
Democrats who were close to him will have to defend themselves and offer stories about their ignorance (some true, some false)
Many are now saying they are “shocked, shocked” to find out this about Mr. Weinstein. Gimme a break.
Why did Hillary, Barack, and all the others wait five days after the NYT broke the story before commenting?
Why did all the late-night comedians (except John Oliver) maintain radio silence, as Saturday Night Live did? They will jump on Weinstein’s figurative corpse now, but where were they after the story broke?
The media will be all over the Weinstein story but they will downplay or ignore the media’s complicity or the Democrats role in it (just as the conservative media will harp on it)
The NYT, the most MSM of MSM outlets, deserves lots of credit for breaking the story. But they need to explain why they didn’t dig further a decade ago, when they first had the story. Lots of women were harmed in the intervening years.
What about the media outlets, like the NYT and NBC, that had the story and didn’t run it? What about the gossip sites like TMZ? Why didn’t they investigate this well-known rumor?
What about the others sexual harassment and exploitation in Hollywood? Will the media investigate or wait for Gloria Allred? There have been rumors for years about pedophilia, but no real reporting.
◆Henry Kissinger meets with Trump. What’s that about?
Comment: Kissinger has made one of the most sensible and serious proposals about working with China to resolve the North Korean crisis. He is also the most trusted intermediary to broker a deal between Beijing and Washington and to carry back-channel messages between the two. (Kissinger’s proposal was contained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, subscription)
My guess: Trump listened to Kissinger, said “great, if Xi is willing to do it. But if he won’t or it doesn’t work, tell him the US will act unilaterally in a wide variety of ways that the Chinese won’t like.”
Hat Tip to
◆ Randy Helm for pointing out that the NYT deserves credit for breaking the story
Trump added a personal insult to the North Korean leader, calling him “Little Rocket Man.”
The NYT says the President “seemed to undercut” Tillerson.
Comment: There are four possibilities.
First, personal pique: always insults adversaries. Not at all helpful here. Could prompt irrational action by Kim.
Second, it could be “good cop, bad cop.” Quite likely.
Third, Tillerson is sending a message to Pyongyang, while Trump is sending one to Beijing. Virtually certain.
Finally, it is possible that Trump thinks, “We will ultimately have to use force here. If so, it is far better if Kim does something that China (and other international actors) consider so provocative that the US must respond. Let’s see if I can goad him into that since it will build international support for something we will have to do anyway.”
In any case, this situation is lethally dangerous. That’s been true for some time. Trump’s strategy depends on keeping the heat up, not turning it down. That’s the only way to get China to act.
Trump has directed federal agencies to lower the overall cost of their regulations during fiscal 2018, the Washington Times reported. Specific dollar figures were not available.
But Neomi Rao, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, told the Times that new rules enacted by the Trump administration have so far saved U.S. businesses some $300 million in annualized costs.
By contrast, Rao said the Obama administration saddled businesses with $80 billion in costs over eight years.
Comment: Really important initiative, vastly underreported because there are no visuals and MSM does not like Trump. When they do report on regulations, they emphasize harm to individuals.
Catalonia’s defiant attempt to stage an independence referendum descended into chaos on Sunday, with hundreds injured in clashes with police in one of the most serious tests of Spain’s democracy since the end of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s.
National police officers in riot gear deployed in thick phalanxes as they fanned out across Catalonia, the restive northeastern region of Spain, to shut down polling stations and seize ballot boxes. –New York Times
The Tribune actually uses the AP story and gives it the correct and informative headline. Kudos.
The AP doesn’t just bury the lede. It deliberately makes the headline less informative, presumably for PC reasons
The Tribune website does not give my attention to the story. It treats it as a minor one. That’s not necessarily wrong. In fact, it tells you that lethal attacks in European public spaces where the Islamist killer yells his religious motivation are now so common that they receive only modest attention unless the death toll is high.
Most people, included sophisticated foreign policy professionals, think Trump was flying off the handle when he attacked Kim Jong-Un personally.
But I want to briefly discuss another possibility which has been ignored: Is there a “mad man” strategic logic in Trump’s personal attacks?
At this point, it’s simply impossible to say, but we cannot rule it out.
The Conventional View
Most commentators think
Trump was speaking primarily to a US audience, which wants to see America project a strong image in the world.
Trump certainly does that often enough.
Trump was doing what he habitually does, attacking anyone who attacks him, as he did on the campaign trail, and going beyond the normal bounds of political language.
In other words, it was unprofessional, personal pique.
Those are the main interpretations I’ve seen.
Those could well be right, but there is another possibility.
Keeping the Language Hot Makes War Seem Credible
That’s the Only Way to Get China to Act
This third possibility is interesting and quite plausible for a skilled negotiator.
3) Trump’s over-the-top language is a rational bargaining strategy. He is continuing to ratchet up the language and pressure because
Only China can resolve this issue, and
China will not act unless they genuinely fear the alternative is even worse: unilateral US military action
Since starting a preventive war would be so costly for the US (and everybody else), it is hard to make that alternative credible.
Indeed, it was not credible under previous US presidents, despite their language that “all options are on the table.” Adversaries did not think those options were credible.
Trump has already changed that. He has made China fear the possibility of US military action. That’s the reason why China’s central bank acted (or says it has), stopping domestic banks from cooperating with North Korea.
Still, to keep China working on this, Trump has to keep the pressure high, and he has to make war seem like a real possibility for Beijing, either because the US wages a preemptive war or because Kim starts one accidentally. (Btw, Kim Jong-Un’s “mad man” language has no international strategic rational. It scares Beijing and prompts the US to act, not back down. Of course, Kim’s language may be directed as his generals and other key figures in the regime.)
Trump’s language does keep the international pressure up. And the hint of a “mad man” in his hot rhetoric turns up the pressure even more.
Bottom Line: Trump Might Use Hot (Mad?) Language to Make War Seem Credible
I am not saying that Trump’s language is part of a deeply-considered negotiating strategy.
I am saying we cannot rule it out–and it would dovetail with his overall approach to North Korea.