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Archive of Articles in the "Russia" Category

Friday Talking Points [426] -- Who To Believe?

[ Posted Friday, February 24th, 2017 – 18:29 PST ]

That question is becoming more and more acute for the rest of the world, in reference to President Donald Trump versus the rest of the Trump administration. If you were the foreign minister from a country in Europe, for example, would you believe what Trump says about American policy towards Europe and Russia, or would you believe his minions, such as the Vice President Mike Pence or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson? This dilemma could become a sort of low-level ongoing crisis, since Trump's comments are so far removed from what others in his administration are saying. Who are you going to believe? The boss, or the underling who is making much more sense? That's a pretty risky geopolitical gamble to make, no matter which side you choose to believe.

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Friday Talking Points [425] -- Stress Conference

[ Posted Friday, February 17th, 2017 – 19:32 PST ]

Before we begin, two quick notes. That subtitle above isn't ours, but when we heard what CNN's Brian Stelter called the hot mess we saw yesterday, we had to agree it was the perfect description. Stress conference indeed! Secondly, our opening metaphor to describe our own personal reaction is going to need a rather roundabout explanation, just to warn everyone in advance.

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Too Little From Congress, Too Much From Trump

[ Posted Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 – 17:54 PST ]

The relative speed differential between the Trump White House and the Republican Congress is already starting to cause problems, it seems. Because the Trump administration is moving so quickly and Congress historically moves at a pretty glacial pace, the unspoken bargain between congressional Republicans and President Trump is already showing cracks. The basic deal was going to be that GOP leaders in Congress would back Trump up on some of his (shall we say) more esoteric campaign promises, while Trump's end of the bargain would be to sign pretty much anything Republicans could manage to get past Congress, even if it contradicted some of what Trump promised his supporters (like gutting Medicare and Medicaid, to cite the most obvious candidate). GOP leaders would allow Trump to build his wall in exchange for Trump allowing them to shred the safety net and bestow generous tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy. That was the plan, at any rate.

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Just The First To Go

[ Posted Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 – 18:11 PST ]

It hasn't even been four weeks yet, and the first top aide to President Donald Trump has been forced to resign. This must be some kind of historical record, folks. The exit of Michael Flynn was no real surprise -- he's been relieved of high-level duties before, for what would be described on an elementary school report card as: "does not play well with others." But the speed of his departure and the fact that he was the first out the door was a bit surprising, since Flynn has been loyal to Trump for some time now, and Trump values such loyalty above all else.

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Friday Talking Points [424] -- Trump Thumped!

[ Posted Friday, February 10th, 2017 – 18:28 PST ]

Donald Trump just got thumped by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There's no denying it. Even Kellyanne Conway can't spin her way out of this one. Three judges unanimously wrote a 29-page opinion explaining why Trump needed to be thumped. This means he can't even whine that it was a "partisan" decision, since these judges were appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents. Even more satisfying is the fact that even if the temporary restraining order which blocked implementation of Trump's Muslim ban is appealed to the Supreme Court, a 4-4 tie vote would just reconfirm the thumping the Ninth Circuit just gave Trump. We certainly hope this turns out to be just the first in a long line of setbacks the court system deals out to Trump, on a regular and continuing basis.

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Immoral Equivalence

[ Posted Monday, February 6th, 2017 – 18:11 PST ]

President Donald Trump will doubtlessly continue to add more new phrases to the American political lexicon throughout his term in office. This weekend -- in an interview on Fox aired as part of the Super Bowl extravaganza, no less -- Trump made a downright astonishing statement, comparing America to Putin's Russia. This was not an example of moral equivalence, instead it has to be properly called making the case for immoral equivalence.

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Pondering Cultural Consolidation

[ Posted Monday, January 16th, 2017 – 17:43 PST ]

Today is when America celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's birthday, so I thought it would be an appropriate day to discuss a cultural change in America over the polite terminology used to identify what might be called characteristics of (take your pick) race, ethnicity, or cultural identity. I'll warn you from the start, however, that this is not the usual discussion most people would associate with today's holiday, but rather something which has left me scratching my head trying to figure out the reasoning behind. I will begin with one of the usual discussions people have today, and then branch off from there, in an attempt to relate it all in a loose fashion to Dr. King's holiday.

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Friday Talking Points [421] -- Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

[ Posted Friday, January 13th, 2017 – 17:47 PST ]

We know there's that pesky clause in the Constitution and all, but doesn't it seem like today would have been more appropriate for Donald Trump's inauguration? That's our way of saying "Happy Friday the 13th" to everyone, we should point out. Ahem.

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Trump Presidency Scenarios

[ Posted Thursday, January 12th, 2017 – 17:57 PST ]

I've been taking a look back at the Obama presidency this week, so I thought it'd only be fair to look forward today and lay out the possible outcomes of the presidency of Donald Trump. Now, before I even start, I realize this is largely a fool's errand, for any number of reasons. But that's never stopped me before, and today I intend not to make predictions of what will happen, but rather run the whole gamut of what could conceivably happen. If rampant speculation without a shred of conclusion isn't your cup of tea, then I'd advise just skipping today's column altogether.

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My 2016 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]

[ Posted Friday, December 30th, 2016 – 18:22 PST ]

Welcome back to our annual year-end awards column!

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