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Archive of Articles in the "China" Category

The End Of The Castro Era

[ Posted Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 – 16:32 PDT ]

Cuba is about to go through only its second transfer of power since its revolution. For the first time in my lifetime, this will mean a Castro won't be running Cuba. For almost six full decades, Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl ran the island in what amounted to a communist cult of personality. For the first time since the 1950s, Cubans are about to have a government without a Castro in charge. It is the end of an era, in other words.

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Friday Talking Points [480] -- Unnecessary Immature Potshots

[ Posted Friday, April 13th, 2018 – 18:09 PDT ]

James Comey's long-awaited tell-all book is out (to reviewers) and Republicans from the Oval Office on down are already freaking out. So far, the winner of the "most hilariously ironic attempt at spin" award is unquestionably Kellyanne Conway. Conway, of course, absolutely personifies one of the lyrics from Trump's favorite Rolling Stones song ("You Can't Always Get What You Want"), as she easily could have been the inspiration for the line: "She was practiced at the art of deception." In an article about the White House's reaction to the book, Conway was quoted dismissing the book as "a revisionist view of history" and (even more hilariously) accused Comey of taking "unnecessary immature potshots." The ironic part? The very same article begins with: "President Trump lashed out Friday at former F.B.I. director James B. Comey on Twitter, calling him a 'weak and untruthful slime ball' who deserved to be fired 'for the terrible job he did.' " So Comey's book was full of "unnecessary immature potshots," but calling a former F.B.I. director a "weak and untruthful slime ball" is downright presidential. Got it, Kellyanne. Oh, and there's a bridge in New York City we'd like to sell you, too.

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Friday Talking Points [479] -- Welcome To The Trump Trade War

[ Posted Friday, April 6th, 2018 – 18:33 PDT ]

First, Donald Trump announced new tariffs on steel and aluminum. Then China reacted with $3 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods (mostly farm goods -- fruit, nuts, and pork). Trump hit back with the threat of tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods. The Chinese, not to be outdone, announced that if this happens they'll be slapping their own tariffs on $50 billion in American goods -- most notably, soybeans. Trump then tripled down, announcing further tariffs on $100 billion of Chinese goods. So begins the great Sino-American trade war of 2018. Or, as we like to call it, the Trump trade war. Why not give proper credit where it is due, after all?

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Red State Unrest

[ Posted Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018 – 17:26 PDT ]

Red-state teachers are currently in open revolt against the failure of conservatives to deliver on their economic promises. Republicans in these states embraced tax cuts because (as they told everyone) this would unleash the economy and prosperity for all would soon follow. What happened instead is the same thing that always happens when supply-side economics is attempted -- falling tax revenues which force massive cuts to what were formerly untouchable parts of the budget. Like education. But the teachers are tired of taking it on the chin and are now fighting back. They're sick of being paid a pittance (compared to teachers in other states), they're sick of the lack of resources for their students (books and classrooms that are falling apart), and they're sick of dodges like four-day weeks which desperately try to paper over the hard, cold fact that if you cut taxes on a massive scale, you will have less money to spend to educate your children.

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Friday Talking Points [477] -- Read The Bill!

[ Posted Friday, March 23rd, 2018 – 18:00 PDT ]

Add this week in Congress to the enormous mountain of steaming Republican hypocrisy, we suppose. Remember back when Republicans got their knickers in such a big twist over Democrats passing lengthy bills without adequate time for congressmen to understand? When the Affordable Care Act passed, some Republicans even chanted "Read the bill!" in protest during the vote. Those were the days, eh? When Republicans retook Congress, they did so in part on a promise that every bill would have a 72-hour period between when it was released publicly and when the vote would happen, in both chambers of Congress. That statement, as they say in Washington, is no longer operative. The Republican-led Congress just passed a 2,200-plus page omnibus budget bill mere hours after the text was released (the House voted 17 hours after the bill was filed, which fell 55 hours short of their promise). Neither the House nor the Senate got anywhere near three days to read the bill. Which is one more big dump on top of the rest of "GOP Hypocrisy Mountain," raising it to new malodorous heights.

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A New Tariff In Town

[ Posted Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 – 17:22 PDT ]

President Trump's White House made two announcements on tariffs today, which was likely not a coincidence. The big announcement was that Trump will be levying new tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese goods. Specifics will follow, within a few weeks. The timing of this may have been intentional, because the Trump administration also revealed today that the steel and aluminum tariffs aren't going to be anywhere near as tough as Trump initially stated. If the idea was for one bit of tariff news to hide the other, this largely seems to have worked. However, the big tariff news caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to react by plummeting 700 points.

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Friday Talking Points [475] -- Stormy Weather

[ Posted Friday, March 9th, 2018 – 19:00 PST ]

This week, porn star Stormy Daniels sued the president, to nullify the hush agreement between them which resulted in her getting paid $130,000 hush money mere weeks before the 2016 election.

We will now take a pause for everyone to consider exactly what would be happening right now in Washington if this story was exactly the same except for the name "President Barack Obama." Just imagine what the response would have been from congressional Republicans! Especially if the porn star were white.

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Friday Talking Points [474] -- "Trade Wars Are Good!" (As Hope Leaves The Building)

[ Posted Friday, March 2nd, 2018 – 18:18 PST ]

Once again, it is the end of another fun week at the White House. Let's see, we had the president's son-in-law stripped of his top secret security clearance (right as two brand new Jared Kushner scandals were revealed, just as icing on the cake). We had a cabinet member in hot water over buying a $31,000 table for his office, assumably so he could be more comfortable while slashing billions of dollars for poor people. The top North Korea expert at the State Department quit, out of frustration with Trump's incoherent policies. Trump met with the N.R.A., but then seemed to agree with everything Democrats proposed during a meeting on gun control -- after which, the N.R.A. met with Trump again in a desperate move to yank him back to their extreme positions. We had Trump smacking his own attorney general around again, and amusingly learned that Trump sometimes calls him "Mr. Magoo" behind his back. Trump so annoyed the president of Mexico in a phone call that he cancelled a planned meeting with Trump in Washington. We had Russia announce a new nuclear arms race, and Trump announce a new trade war -- apparently because he was so annoyed at all the other bad news that he wanted to create some of his own. After the inevitable pushback, he insisted on Twitter that "Trade wars are good, and easy to win!" Well, we're all about to find out, aren't we? And to cap the week off, one of Trump's closest advisors, Hope Hicks, testified before Congress that her job required her to tell "white lies" to the public on a regular basis. The next day, she announced she was leaving the White House.

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All In The Family

[ Posted Tuesday, February 27th, 2018 – 18:16 PST ]

Jared Kushner's security clearance has been downgraded, the Washington Post reported today, from the highest level of access to the nation's secrets to the second-highest. This may not sound like much, but it will severely limit the information legally available to him -- he should no longer be able to read the president's daily briefing document put together by the national security apparatus, for example. This is important because it was recently disclosed that Kushner does actively read these daily briefings (or, at least, did so before last week). What it will mean in the larger sense for both Kushner and the rest of the Trump White House going forward is unclear, at this point.

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Friday Talking Points [471] -- Trump's Kim Jong Un Envy

[ Posted Friday, February 9th, 2018 – 18:25 PST ]

There's an old joke in Washington that the press knows how to ask politicians questions that can't be answered in any acceptable way. The classic example, of course, is: "So, Senator, have you stopped beating your wife?" This week, however, the Trump White House has been getting a variant: "So, how long was a wife-beater who couldn't get a security clearance allowed to work for the president, and why?"

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