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.
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.
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.
North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho warned Saturday that it is “inevitable” that his country will launch a missile toward the mainland United States in revenge for the insults President Trump has directed at leader Kim Jong Un.
“None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission,” Ri said. –Los Angeles Times
US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday (Sept 23), in a show of force the Pentagon said demonstrated the range of military options available to President Donald Trump. –Reuters
Comment: The US flights are not only a message to Pyongyang, they are a message to China that a war could break out and the US would use overwhelming firepower. Only that prospect, and the related prospect of Japan and South Korea going nuclear themselves, has moved China to act.
My hunch is that Beijing is trying to figure out what kinds of pressure they can use to change North Korean policy or, alternatively, if they want to risk backing a coup.
◆From the serious (North Korea) to the ridiculous (Trump versus the NFL, NBA): What happened? And what makes it important?
The tweets and text below explain what happened.
It’s important because it exemplifies America’s techtonic cultural and political divide, particularly over race and patriotism.
And it highlights what Trump’s supporters like about him (straight talk, forthright defense of America) and what his opponents loathe (vile language that worsens an inflamed situation).
On Twitter and at his big rally in Huntsville, AL, Pres. Trump attacked NFL players who “took a knee,” rather than stand for the National Anthem. That behavior has spread among NFL teams this season.
A flurry of counter-attacks came from the NFL, led by Commissioner Roger Goodell. This kerfuffle spread to the NBA when LeBron James called the president “a bum” and Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry decided not to visit the White House.
The President took a traditional position in an untraditional way. It is hardly surprising that a President supports American patriotism and its prominent symbols.
It is beneath the dignity of the office to call the players “sons of bitches.”
The players have free-speech rights.
Pros don’t have to stand for the national anthem unless their contracts say otherwise.
College and high-school players are in a more complicated situation. The coaches and school administrators can set rules of behavior.
Fans have rights, too, and can boo the players, refuse to buy products they advertise, refuse to go to games, and so on.
Three points have been missing in this discussion, which seems to be a big deal on cable TV.
Professional athletics is entertainment. The athletes are entertainers, same as Hollywood actors, Nashville singers, or sports networks like ESPN. Taking controversial political stances will narrow their audience appeal, as they are finding out. NFL owners know that. They must be beside themselves.
The country’s racial and political divide was bound to spread beyond the normal boundaries of politics. Black athletes were drawn in to this controversy, just as they were drawn into the Black Power controversies of the 1960s.
Now, the activists on all sides will mobilize and get involved. This is Al Sharpton territory.
This could well be brilliant politics for Trump
It plays perfectly to his base and to the majority of Americans who respect the flag and other patriotic symbols. Trump knows that in his gut and he moved to exploit it. (His own crude language may undercut some of that support.)
The NFL fan base–and Trump voters–hate the players’ disrespect for the flag and national anthem.
With NFL attendance and viewership down this year (for whatever reasons), Trump can take credit for leading a parade that was already marching down the street.
The only thing that could be better for Trump would be for leading Democrats to support the kneeling athletes. That would be a gift to Trump, but the Democratic base may force prospective presidential candidates to take that position, just as it is forcing them into support for single-payer health care.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Pres. Trump’s speech to the UN was blunt and aimed squarely at North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela
It combined two main elements:
A traditional Republican assertion of US military strength and global engagements
Trump’s own nationalist, anti-globalist agenda, praising “strong sovereign nations” (not international institutions) as the basis of global order
The blunt language attracted a lot of attention. Conservatives (including many who don’t support Trump) were positive. Liberals cringed, longing for Obama’s soft tone, soft policies, and strategic patient.
He called the nuclear deal with Iran “an embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into.” He spoke of Iran’s aggressive support of terror and expansion in the Middle East. He specifically spoke about the threat from “Radical Islamic Terror,” words his predecessor never used (and that Trump himself has used less often in recent months).
He said nothing about “democracy promotion,” a centerpiece of George W. Bush’s foreign policy.
His comment on Venezuela was equally blunt, saying they had turned a rich country into an impoverished failure and done so not because it misapplied socialist policies but because it applied them exactly as they were intended.
Without using the term “axis of evil,” his speech clearly echoed those themes from Pres. Bush’s War on Terror.
As someone said on Twitter, never before has been there so much murmuring of “holy sh**” in so many different languages.
◆ Two natural disasters:
Cat 5 Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico with 175 mph winds, the second major hurricane within a month
Mexico suffers a 7.1 magnitude quake.
Numerous casualties and fatalities from both, unfortunately.
Comment: The best way to keep up with news about each is with your favorite breaking-news site online. The cable channels will show you the gritty aftermath but take hours to give you the hard news you can get in a few minutes reading.
Senate Republicans, abandoning a key fiscal doctrine, agreed on Tuesday to move forward on a budget that would add to the federal deficit in order to pave the way for a $1.5 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years.
The Republican lawmakers, under mounting pressure to score a legislative win on taxes, say a tax cut of this magnitude will stimulate economic growth enough to offset any deficit impact.
Yet critics say a deficit-financed tax cut is at odds with longstanding Republican calls for fiscal discipline, including that tax cuts not add to the ballooning federal deficit.
Comment: Tax bills must originate in the House, which is dribbling out some information but not the key details. Those should come in the next week or so.
He and his gang of corrupt officers were tripped up in 2001 when they tried one ripoff while the dealer happened to be on the phone with his girlfriend. She mistakenly thought another drug dealer was the robber and called the cops. Honest cops showed up, saw what was happening, and that was the beginning of the end.
◆Turkey increasingly uses its thuggish, dictatorial tactics in Western democracies. It did it again this week
They did it in May, 2017, when Turkish security officers assaulted peaceful demonstrators in Washington, DC. (New York Times report here.)
This week, they tried to stop a speaker at a conference in Philadelphia. The event was hosted by the Middle East Forum (MEF) for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, known as NATO-PA.
NATO PA organizers asked that MEF remove a speaker, Emre Çelik, from the program in response to a demand issued by the office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. MEF removed the speaker from the program, but invited him to address the gathering anyway.
When Çelik rose to speak, the Turkish delegation grew visibly agitated and acted quickly to shut down the event. –Middle East Forum
Daniel Pipes, who heads the Middle East Forum, spoke plainly about the incident, which was captured on video:
President Erdoğan’s attempt to stifle free speech at a Middle East Forum event today was despicable. We did not accept it. –Daniel Pipes
“If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” [Manafort’s spokesman said].
“The U.S. Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent,” he said.
The special counsel’s office and the FBI both declined to comment on Maloni’s statement. They also did not comment on CNN’s original report about surveillance of Manafort. –Reuters
Comment: There are several disturbing aspects of this story, all requiring serious investigation. Manafort’s role is obviously one. So is the apparent release of secret information, the presence of a government wiretap on the manager of a political campaign, the possibility President Trump was picked up on the surveillance, and the statements by several Obama administration intelligence officials that they knew of no such surveillance. It is unclear if those officials made false statements under oath.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Trump’s campaign manager wiretapped. That’s a big deal.
The story was broken by CNN: Exclusive: US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman, starting in 2014 and continuing, off an on, until this year. The tap, authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), would include periods when he was known to speak with Donald Trump. (Manafort also owned an apartment in Trump Tower; that might be relevant because Trump spoke of wiretaps in Trump Tower.)
There is increasingly strong public speculation that Manafort will be indicted by Robert Mueller’s office.
At this point, we do not know who the FISA warrant(s) targeted.
Comment: At this point, we simply don’t know enough about this surveillance. (In fact, the information released to CNN was almost certainly a felony violation of secret proceedings.)
Anti-Trump people think the fact that a federal judge would authorize surveillance on such a senior figure in the Trump campaign suggests something very bad was afoot and that collaboration with the Russians may have been Manafort’s aim (if not necessarily that of others in the campaign).
Pro-Trump people think this information vindicates his repeated claims that he was wiretapped.
And, of course, a lot of people, myself included, want to know more before they reach a conclusion.
I think a lot of people will agree with Dan Drezner (a centrist and no friend of Trump’s):
Comment: Trump’s speech was an unusually blunt, full-throated defense of America’s interests, as opposed to globalism, and included particularly sharp and detailed attacks on Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.
Critical responses to the speech line up as expected.
◆More censorship calls on campus, this time because a professor wrote a scholarly article called “The Case for Colonialism”
The article, by Prof. Bruce Gilley of Portland State, was published in a peer-reviewed journal that is very anti-colonial, which presumably thought the piece was serious, well-researched, and would spark scholarly debate. The basic argument does not deny the evils of colonialism but says they must be balanced against the benefits and that anti-colonialism has itself carried high costs.
Recently, Gilley publicly resigned from the American Political Science Association for its ideological bias.
Comment: Given the political climate on today’s campuses, especially those on the coasts, what Gilley’s article sparked was not discussion but calls for him to be fired, censured, and tarred-and-feathered.