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Archive of Articles in the "China" Category

Friday Talking Points -- Mr. Trump's Wild Ride

[ Posted Friday, December 7th, 2018 – 17:44 PST ]

As is now normal, the past week in politics was a pretty wild ride. The stock market went up, then way down, then a bit back up, then way down again -- and that was in a week with only four trading days (Wednesday was a national day of mourning for George H. W. Bush, so the markets were closed). Trump drove much of this confusion, after meeting with the leader of China last weekend to discuss trade. Adding to the confusion was the arrest of the leader of a giant Chinese corporation on Canadian soil at the request of the American Justice Department, and a weaker-than-expected jobs report today.

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What's Good For GM Is Not Good For Trump

[ Posted Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 – 18:06 PST ]

General Motors just announced several plant closures and over ten thousand layoffs, in a bid to restructure their operations for the future. Americans aren't buying so many sedans any more, so GM is shuttering some plants that make these cars. This includes a plant in Ohio, after President Trump personally promised workers that no factories would be shutting down there. Trump even went further, by personally advising Ohio workers not to sell their houses and move since manufacturing jobs would be such solid future prospects. So the GM announcement came as a rather personal blow to the president.

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Friday Talking Points -- Liar In Chief

[ Posted Friday, October 26th, 2018 – 17:10 PDT ]

In 2003, Al Franken wrote a book called Lies: And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them, which was written about Fox News (Bill O'Reilly, in specific). Though the title now seems prophetic in the age of Trump, even Franken would have had a hard time believing back then how far the right wing would eventually go down this rabbit hole.

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One Month To Go

[ Posted Monday, October 8th, 2018 – 17:05 PDT ]

Four weeks from tomorrow, America will vote in the 2018 midterm congressional elections. We're officially in the homestretch now, in other words. And even with all the recent political events, things stand pretty much how they have all year -- Democrats are still favored to take control of the House of Representatives, but Republicans are still favored to retain control of the Senate. The political pundits right now are focusing too tightly on possible effects of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court fight, but the bigger picture hasn't really shifted all that much.

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Changing Dynamics For The Midterm Races

[ Posted Monday, October 1st, 2018 – 17:08 PDT ]

Five weeks from tomorrow, the 2018 midterm elections will happen. But, as we all know, a lot can happen in five weeks (especially these days). Up until about two weeks ago, the conventional wisdom had coalesced into a belief that the Democrats were more likely than not to take control of the House of Representatives, but also that they'd probably fall short in the Senate. However, within those two weeks, the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight has taken an unexpected turn. And today, perhaps as a very early "October surprise," President Trump announced a new trade deal with both Mexico and Canada. So it's time to consider what impact these two events might have on the midterms, if any.

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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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