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Archive of Articles in the "China" Category

Friday Talking Points [494] -- It's Always Silly Season Now

[ Posted Friday, July 27th, 2018 – 15:44 PDT ]

The beginning of August, in any normal political year, is when we would usually devote at least one column to trying to predict what the upcoming "silly season" will bring. August may be the dog days for most folks, but in politics it is usually the silliest season of the year. Congress scarpers off to enjoy a month-long vacation, which leaves a vacuum of political news in Washington, which leaves political reporters and commenters desperate for an angle to write about -- any angle at all. This normally leads to focusing on some extraordinarily silly subject matter (to the exclusion of all else), for weeks on end -- hence the season's unofficial name. But these are not normal times, of course, and part of the abnormality that Donald Trump has ushered in is such a vast extension of the silly season that it can now be accurately said to have encompassed the entire calendar year. There is no more silly season anymore, in other words, because it is now silly season all the time. Just check Trump's Twitter feed on any given day, if you require proof.

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Trump Takes His Trade War To Iowa

[ Posted Monday, July 23rd, 2018 – 17:12 PDT ]

President Donald Trump is going to attempt to pivot this week to domestic policy, after his disastrous summit with Vladimir Putin didn't exactly turn out as planned. Trump has a meeting with a European leader this week where Trump's proposed European automobile tariffs will be high on the agenda, and Trump will also head out to Iowa to hit the campaign trail for Republicans. Iowa is already one of the front lines of Trump's trade war, since a lot of soybeans are grown there. So far, his farm country base seem to be supporting Trump's trade war (for the moment), but their patience isn't going to be inexhaustible. At some point blind faith in Trump's dealmaking prowess is going to hit the brick wall of reality, in the form of a seriously depressed agricultural market.

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Friday Talking Points [492] -- Super Callous Fragile Ego Trump You Are Atrocious

[ Posted Friday, July 13th, 2018 – 17:57 PDT ]

We certainly can't claim authorship for that rather brilliant title. It was seen on a protest sign in the midst of the 100,000 people who marched in London in opposition to President Donald Trump's visit to Britain. Accompanying the march was a giant "Trump Baby" blimp floating in the breeze, which depicted Trump in diapers with a cell phone in his tiny, tiny hand. The wranglers of the blimp all wore outfits with "Trump Babysitter" written on them, for extra emphasis. Where is Mary Poppins, when you need her the most?

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Donald Trump's Delusional Worldview

[ Posted Thursday, July 12th, 2018 – 17:10 PDT ]

Lying about the scope of his electoral victory is rather minor, though. Having a delusional worldview while meeting with other nations' leaders is quite another. That impacts America as a whole, because it serves to undermine our standing in the world. In Trump's rather unique worldview, Europe and Canada are our enemies, while Russia and North Korea should be our friends. That would be a jaw-dropping statement to make about any U.S. president, but with Trump it is merely par for one of his many golf courses. Trump has shown, in two recent multilateral meetings between America's closest allies, that he is deeply distrustful of America's staunchest friends and is quite willing to punish them for all their perceived faults. Trump has actually instituted tariffs against our allies using an obscure clause in U.S. law that allows the president to do so unilaterally (without the consent of Congress, in other words) when "national security" is at stake. Trump has claimed (with zero proof) that Canadian steel and European cars sold in this country actually threaten our national security. Again, this is simply jaw-dropping stuff, but so far Congress has not bothered to directly challenge Trump's delusions. The Senate just passed a very weak "perhaps you shouldn't do this" state-of-the-Senate resolution against Trump's national security tariffs, but they failed to even vote on any stronger measure which would have removed Trump's ability to singlehandedly levy such tariffs. So they've dipped one very timid toe in the water, but they refuse to dive in yet.

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The Battle Of The Bluster

[ Posted Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 – 16:52 PDT ]

There are more imminent foreign policy problems for Donald Trump than North Korea this particular week, but I'm sure we'll have plenty of time to talk about NATO, Trump's visit with the Queen of England, and the summit between Trump and Vladimir Putin in the days to come. For now, I think it's worth turning our attention to the apparent deterioration of the comity between America and North Korea. Trump, a master blusterer if ever there was one, has been overselling what happened between him and Kim Jong Un pretty much since the two men parted in Singapore. He sees the meeting and the agreement as a great achievement, thus he has his own political reasons for praising Kim and the North Koreans. However, the North Koreans are no slouch in the blustering game themselves, as they proved this week by hurling insults and mockery at Mike Pompeo after the first high-level meeting since the Trump-Kim summit. Pompeo appeared blindsided by this bluster, after already having publicly said that it was a productive meeting. So far, Trump has been too busy with other matters (foreign and domestic), and has not really responded to the deterioration in relations. But sooner or later, he's going to have to address it in one way or another. We've seen some potshots, but the full-on battle of the bluster has not yet been truly joined, to extend the metaphor.

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Friday Talking Points [491] -- FART Act, Pruitt Out

[ Posted Friday, July 6th, 2018 – 16:55 PDT ]

We are (of course) not drawing any onomatopoetic comparisons to Scott Pruitt's last name with that title -- perish the thought! -- because it is merely a reference to two political stories which bookended this week. That's all. Ahem.
We begin with a little history. Benjamin Franklin was a funny guy, and was [...]

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White House Rips Out A Real Stinker Of A Proposal

[ Posted Monday, July 2nd, 2018 – 16:31 PDT ]

In the midst of the opening salvos in Trump's worldwide trade war, Axios just uncovered a very interesting story. Apparently, President Trump is now considering backing out of the World Trade Organization, one way or another. He feels constrained by its restrictions, he (of course) feels it is unfair to America, and he would much prefer realigning all of America's trade into bilateral agreements that he will personally negotiate with each country on the planet. But what was most amusing was one of the ways the White House is considering achieving this. They've drafted a piece of legislation that would give Trump full control over tariffs (removing Congress completely from the equation) and also allow Trump to essentially ignore the W.T.O. and all their pesky rules. Pretty much par for the "I alone can fix this country" course, really. But whichever Trump policy flunky put this legislation together needs a quick refresher course on creative acronyms, because the proposed bill is currently named the "United States Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act." Yep, that's right, the "U.S. FART Act" (or, if you want to be pedantic, the "U.S. FaRT Act"). Either way, it's a ripe and fetid stinker of a proposal.

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Friday Talking Points [490] -- Full Court Press

[ Posted Friday, June 29th, 2018 – 17:04 PDT ]

Liberals had a very bad week at the Supreme Court last week. There's no denying it. Almost all of the final decisions of the year went against them, and that was before the news of Justice Anthony Kennedy's impending retirement hit Washington like a bombshell. Fears that President Donald Trump will pick an ultra-conservative to replace him mean that bedrock decisions such as Roe v. Wade are now hanging in the balance. Democrats are vowing to fight hard against the next justice's confirmation, but this is quite likely a fight they are going to lose.

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Friday Talking Points [488] -- Suffer The Little Children

[ Posted Friday, June 15th, 2018 – 18:20 PDT ]

Fox News unwittingly (how else?) spoke a deep truth this week. Or perhaps a deep fantasy -- it's tough to tell, coming from Fox anchors. As President Trump descended the stairs from Air Force One in Singapore, Fox And Friends gushed: "This is history. Regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators, what we are seeing right now -- this is history." Um... how many dictators was that, again? The host later tried to walk back her unintentional gaffe, but is it really all that far off the mark?

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Trump's Second Presser

[ Posted Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 – 17:02 PDT ]

Very early this morning (American time), President Donald Trump did something he's only done once before as president: he held a formal solo press conference. It has been almost 500 days since his last one, which he gave during his first month in office. This is rather extraordinary, considering that if any other president had gone such a long time without formally speaking to them there would have been an enormous outcry from the press. It's always been somewhat of a mystery to me why this hasn't happened with Trump, personally. But now Trump has finally given his second solo press conference, so I guess we can expect the next one in another year and a half.

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