Call It NAFTA 1.1, Not 2.0

[ Posted Monday, September 2nd, 2019 – 16:51 UTC ]

First of all: Happy Labor Day to everyone!

On yesterday's Sunday morning political shows, you might not have even realized it was Labor Day weekend. There was a big hurricane to cover, and yet another shooting to argue about. What with all of that going on, Labor Day was barely mentioned, except on one network. Much to my surprise, Fox News Sunday was the only show to have an actual Union leader on as a guest. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, spoke on all sorts of topics near and dear to Labor's heart: the trade war with China, the plight of farmers who are paying the price, the minimum wage, health insurance, and the politics surrounding all of them.

Trumka was also asked about trade agreements, and he didn't have any warm words for the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which he called "unenforceable." But this reminded me of something I've been meaning to write about for a while, and Labor Day seemed to be a good time to do so. While the U.S.M.C.A. has been negotiated between the three countries, it has yet to receive congressional approval here. At some point during the next few months (or even next year), the White House will be making a big push to get a vote on the new agreement in Congress. So sooner or later, it'll be what people are talking about inside the Beltway.

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Friday Talking Points -- Cavuto Dumps On Trump!

[ Posted Friday, August 30th, 2019 – 19:02 UTC ]

You know things are getting bad in Trumpland when Our Dear Leader is openly attacking Fox News for not being servile enough.

In a series of angry tweets, Trump this week called Fox News "HOPELESS & CLUELESS" and ended his rant with:

The New @FoxNews is letting millions of GREAT people down! We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn't working for us anymore!

What set him off, apparently, was the fact that a Democratic party official was interviewed on Fox, and the host didn't immediately drive her from the stage with a pitchfork or burning torch. Or something -- with Trump, it's always hard to guess what he's thinking.

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Do Democrats Have A Shot At Retaking The Senate?

[ Posted Thursday, August 29th, 2019 – 17:20 UTC ]

While almost all the election attention from the media so far has been on the presidential race (and, more specifically, the Democratic nomination race), there are other races out there which might be more important in the grand scheme of things, because the fight for the Senate is really the determining factor for what will get done in the two years after the presidency is decided. This holds true no matter who wins the White House, in fact, because if Trump gets a second term, facing a Democratic Senate and House would severely constrain his ability to enact his agenda. If Trump loses to a Democrat, it won't matter how many sweeping campaign promises get him or her elected, because control of the Senate will determine whether any of it will get a chance.

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The Great Winnowing

[ Posted Wednesday, August 28th, 2019 – 17:24 UTC ]

Barring any surprise last-minute polls, the stage is now set for the third round of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates. Note that singular "stage" in there, because for the first time the debate will only take place on a single night, with 10 candidates appearing together onstage while 11 others got shut out in the cold. Yes, the time of the Great Winnowing is upon us.

Again, barring any last-minute surprises (the deadline for polling results isn't until midnight tonight), the candidates who will be facing off against each other are (roughly in descending order of support in the polls): Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Julián Castro, and Beto O'Rourke. Those last five names are really kind of interchangeable in position, since they're all struggling to even hit three percent in the polls -- only the top five are regularly polling above five percent.

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Nuke The Hurricanes?

[ Posted Tuesday, August 27th, 2019 – 16:58 UTC ]

It should be taken as a given that the current president of the United States is crazy as a loon. I mean, it's pretty obvious for those who have eyes to see. In the past few days, he boasted of two phone calls from the Chinese to resume trade negotiations. It turns out, though, that these phone calls did not actually happen. The stock market didn't seem to care, and reacted the way Trump wanted, so nobody's making that big a deal of the fact that Trump just made up some (as he would call it) self-serving "fake news." Trump also lied repeatedly about what was talked about during the G-7 meetings, saying that all the other leaders agreed with him on various things like readmitting Russia to the group, the meanness of the American media towards Trump, Trump's stance on Iran, and anything else he dreamed up that he thought he could get away with bragging about. Of course, none of the other world leaders agreed with him on any of it, and a few actually dared to say so. Trump barely even noticed, because he obviously lives in his own personal fantasyland where contradictions and criticisms magically turn into laudatory personal praise. But while all of that is run-of-the-mill craziness for Trump, the wilder story that broke was that Trump has repeatedly suggested that the way American can avoid massive hurricane damage is to just drop nuclear weapons right in the middle of them before they get to our shores.

The Axios story that broke this news is pretty jaw-dropping (containing quotes from White House aides such as: "You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting"), but if the report is to be believed, all of this happened just after Trump took office, so perhaps with enough time he's been convinced that this is a monumentally stupid idea. Or maybe not -- the article doesn't make clear whether Trump has actually given up on the notion or perhaps just forgot he ever had it in the first place.

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The Risks Of Joe Biden's "Most Electable" Strategy

[ Posted Monday, August 26th, 2019 – 17:08 UTC ]

Joe Biden is making the case that his own electability is why he should be nominated, rather early in the Democratic 2020 presidential primary race. This strategy, however, is not without a measure of risk for Biden, because while his numbers have indeed been the most impressive so far, this could always change. Two recent polls may be indicating just such a change is underway, but at this point it is still too early to determine whether this is a real trend or an outlier polling blip for Biden. Even if it is a blip, though, it shows the risks of leaning so hard on being the most electable Democrat this far out.

Biden's argument -- delivered both by his first big campaign ad and in person by his wife recently -- is that he is dominating not only the Democratic polling, but also (and more importantly) the head-to-head polling against President Donald Trump. Biden is the best candidate for Democratic voters to back, this argument goes, because he is the one who can resoundingly beat Trump next November.

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Friday Talking Points -- Something Misbegotten In The State Of Denmark

[ Posted Friday, August 23rd, 2019 – 18:20 UTC ]

The great fear of those who did not support Donald Trump's election in 2016 was that if America hit a crisis point -- a virtual certainty, over a span of four years -- Trump would prove to be dangerously unstable and not know how to deal with it. The consequences could be alarming, as Ted Cruz joked about on the campaign trail at the time:

I don't know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way, having his finger on the button. I mean, we're liable to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark.

That was supposed to be a joke, mind you. This week, no actual nukes flew (whew!) but President Donald Trump did call off a trip to Denmark this week because their prime minister called the idea that they would sell Greenland to Trump "absurd." She was being honest, but Trump went into a snit and called her "nasty" (a label he's used more than once to describe female politicians who don't agree with him) By week's end, the Republicans were fundraising off the whole misbegotten fiasco by selling T-shirts that depict the United States, now including Greenland.

You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

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The Third Nuclear Option

[ Posted Thursday, August 22nd, 2019 – 17:49 UTC ]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears worried. He's concerned that not only may the Democrats take control of the chamber away from him next year, but that they could then move to abolish the legislative filibuster altogether. The idea does seem to be gaining some momentum among Democrats, although not everyone's convinced it would be a good idea as of yet. But should the Democrats, if they get the chance, 'drop the third nuke' and get rid of the filibuster for once and for all, or should they retain this undemocratic Senate tradition, perhaps with some reforms?

Harry Reid may have spurred McConnell to write today's New York Times opinion piece, since Reid argued in the same pages earlier this month that Democrats should indeed just do away with the legislative filibuster in order to get some things done. Reid used to hold the same leadership position that McConnell now does, so this is a real battle of Senate heavyweights, past and present.

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Trump Can't Have It Both Ways On Israel

[ Posted Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 – 17:09 UTC ]

In today's episode of "Irony Is Dead," we have a president who not only just committed the same sin he is accusing another of, but who then went on to flirt openly -- twice! -- with the concept that he should be deified.

Sigh. Just another day in Trumpworld....

Never in a million years would I have thought I'd ever write about a United States president considering the concept of deification. Even as a joke. But here we are. Donald Trump, in a retweet, praised a conspiracy theorist's words, which included the statement that Israeli Jews "love him like he is the second coming of God." Then in answer to a question from the press on China and trade, Donald Trump proclaimed: "I am the chosen one," while turning his gaze skyward. In other words, we're through the looking glass, folks.

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Trump Versus The Democratic Field

[ Posted Tuesday, August 20th, 2019 – 17:16 UTC ]

I've got to warn everyone up front, this is going to be another horserace column -- this time, examining the race between Trump and the Democratic frontrunners. If you don't like that sort of thing, then I'd suggest you stop reading now.

For everyone else, I thought it was time to take a first look at how the leading Democratic presidential contenders are measuring up to Donald Trump in head-to-head polling. This was mostly brought on by Trump himself, who lashed out at Fox News for the most recent of these nationwide polls, which showed Trump losing to pretty much any Democrat who wins the nomination -- by a wide margin, in most cases.

In this Fox News poll, Kamala Harris beats Trump by 6 points (45/39), Elizabeth Warren beats Trump by 7 points (46/39), Bernie Sanders beats Trump by 9 points (48/39), and Joe Biden buries Trump by a whopping 12 points (50/38). No wonder Trump's annoyed, as this bad news came from his favorite news source -- not some "lefty media" or "lefty pollster."

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