38 thoughts on “News/Politics 4-29-17

  1. AJ, I was wondering what are China and Russia’s stance on North Korea, and what would be their response if the US were to intervene?

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  2. RKessler, Here is an article that contains quite a few relevant facts and gives the orthodox response to your question.

    http://thediplomat.com/2017/04/whats-behind-sino-russian-cooperation-on-north-korea/

    As usual, my conclusion is more cynical:

    I think China may actually want the North Korea situation to continue to percolate. The Chinese President has attempted to present himself as the voice of reason who is attempting to keep peace between the volatile Kim and the unpredictable Trump. This role increases China’s standing in Asia and the rest of the world. If that is correct, is it not possible that China may actual encourage some of Kim’s more outrageous acts?

    The situation may be seen as a win/win by China. Their position to the rest of the world would be that either:
    1. Their President skillfully prevented a war by taming the worst instincts of Kim and Trump; or
    2. Despite their best efforts, Kim and Trump started a new Korean War that cost the lives of tens of thousands.

    The Chinese could conclude that either outcome would increase their standing in both Asia and Europe.

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  3. On China and North Korea, an explanation heard from a person from China is that North Korea basically blackmails China for support. How you ask? I’m not exactly sure, but if NK doesn’t get support from China, NK threatens to go and cause a war.

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  4. RKessler;

    It’s hard to say. R and C are partly only allies because the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Especially with Russia. They seek closer ties to NK because it’s in their interest to befriend a US enemy. Russia’s support is also for economic reasons. China also has some pretty strong economic reasons to support NK as NK mostly imports everything from China. China also backs them because they want the US out of SK, a sentiment shared by NK. And if NK collapses, China will have a serious refugee crisis on their hands as well. The status quo is better than the alternative in their eyes.

    But I think they are growing a little dissatisfied with the current leader of NK. They seem to be saying they’ll go along with UN action to denuclearize NK.

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/04/28/China-Russia-agree-to-stop-North-Korea-denuclearization-joint-exercises/1741493398420/

    “China and Russia are cooperating closely on the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons in New York, and have been meeting ahead of a special session of the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

    Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov met with Beijing’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday, during a meeting of foreign secretaries of the Security Council, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

    Wang told the Russian diplomat the “current situation on the Korean peninsula is dangerous enough to lose control,” Beijing said Friday.””
    —————————-

    http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/the-renaissance-in-russia-north-korea-relations/

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/02/12/why-china-still-supports-north-korea-in-six-little-words/?utm_term=.8e6e3d84f6d3

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  5. Defrauding taxpayers out of millions and using it to buy a corrupt Dem politician.

    Another dirty Dem money man goes down. Hopefully the scumbag Senator from NJ who took the bribes goes down too when his trial starts.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/florida-eye-doctor-found-guilty-of-scamming-medicare/ar-BBAv1zr?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U452DHP

    “A U.S. jury on Friday found a Florida eye doctor guilty of defrauding Medicare by as much as $105 million by using false claims, including charging for eye tests of blind patients, according to a federal court document.

    The ophthalmologist, Salomon Melgen, is also part of a separate corruption case in which prosecutors say he bribed U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.

    The bribery case is set for trial on Aug. 23. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Menendez’s bid to have the case involving donations from Melgen thrown out.

    Federal prosecutors in that case say Melgen contributed $700,000 to political committees that helped the senator win re-election in 2012.

    Menendez is not a defendant in the Florida case, which involved a 32-day trial in West Palm Beach.

    The eye doctor was found guilty on 67 counts of federal health care fraud against him, according a verdict sheet filed in U.S. District Court. The Palm Beach Post newspaper reported that Melgen was originally charged with 77 counts, but not all made it to the 12-member jury.”

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  6. Rationality on climate change (or the scientists who cried wolf for far too long and too often)

    Climate of Complete Certainty

    ____________________________

    “When someone is honestly 55 percent right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60 percent right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God.

    But what’s to be said about 75 percent right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100 percent right? Whoever says he’s 100 percent right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.”

    — An old Jew of Galicia

    … Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong. Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts.

    None of this is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences. But ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism. They know — as all environmentalists should — that history is littered with the human wreckage of scientific errors married to political power.

    I’ve taken the epigraph for this column from the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, who knew something about the evils of certitude. Perhaps if there had been less certitude and more second-guessing in Clinton’s campaign, she’d be president. Perhaps if there were less certitude about our climate future, more Americans would be interested in having a reasoned conversation about it.
    ___________________________

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  7. We played Trump golf this morning. We slept late and didn’t tee off until 8:00 a.m. and we rode in carts because it was a tournament. One of the cheerleaders was in my Sunday School class and another is the daughter of my daughter-in-law’s secretary. Good times!

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  8. DJ, I think Stephens got a raise with the move from the WSJ to the NYT. However, he has moved from a friendly readership to the camp of the enemy.

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  9. I find this quote entirely unconvincing. From the link above:

    “Not a single word of a plan was on paper, several administration officials said, and Treasury officials worked all weekend to draft a one-page summary of his principles because the president promised a Wednesday news conference. ”

    I have all kinds of plans on paper for things I haven’t finalized or even seriously started working on yet. The President has been talking about a tax plan for weeks, but Politico wants us to believe that his staff hasn’t put “a single word” for his plan on paper? Bunk.

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  10. Debra, If you were on his staff, how would you begin to put the constantly changing, contradictory clump of gibberish that he has been “talking about” for weeks on paper?

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  11. Debra, Here is the point of the article and the multiple White House staffers who were sources for the article:

    When a sane adult is President, he carefully prepares his tax proposal after consultation with economic advisers, budget analysts, business leaders and Members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees. When he thinks he has a plan that can pass, he begins to sell it to the public in a well-orchestrated blitz in which he is the leader, but most of his party, and others participate armed with detailed economic data. This process takes time. Trump’s economic advisers and his Treasury Dept. were in the early stages of the process.

    Then the loon decreed that the completely undrafted tax bill must be passed within a few days (before the end of the 100 days) in an attempt to notch an accomplishment and hide his incompetence.

    This article was sourced by his competent advisors. If his behavior doesn’t change, they may quit and he will be left with only the Spicers and his family to guide him.

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  12. It would actually probably be very helpful for Trump and his supporters to take a 12th grade Civics or Government course that explains how our form of government works. It could be co-taught by a high school teacher and one of the prettiest Fox Reporterettes and could be shown during O’Reilly’s old time slot.

    This would take nine months, but there aren’t really any issues that need Trump’s participation until he obtains some basic understanding of the Constitution, his role, and the roles of Congress and the Courts. Trump would be tested and graded and he would have to get at least a “C” before he would be allowed to make public statements, issue directives to his staff or visit with foreign leaders.

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  13. Ricky,

    “When a sane adult is President, he carefully prepares his tax proposal after consultation with economic advisers, budget analysts, business leaders and Members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees. When he thinks he has a plan that can pass, he begins to sell it to the public in a well-orchestrated blitz in which he is the leader, but most of his party, and others participate armed with detailed economic data. This process takes time. Trump’s economic advisers and his Treasury Dept. were in the early stages of the process.”

    Please. You have no idea whether any of that happened or not. But because of your intense dislike for all things Trump, you’ll take the word of cowardly, anonymous “sources”. Most Presidents aren’t dealing with constant leaks and rebellion from the prior admins minions either. This is happening because disloyal, entrenched bureaucrats want it their way.

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  14. AJ, I have actually worked on a tax bill that was passed and signed into law. I know what Treasury staff and House and Senate Committee staffers do. I paid a little attention in the 12th grade and understand the process.

    During the election educated conservatives feared that Trump would pull the Republican Party and conservatism to the left and toward idiocy. Happily, the leftward drift has not yet started. However, I am continually amazed at Trump’s ability to inspire his followers to defend both lying and idiocy.

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  15. Ricky @10:47 “This article was sourced by his competent advisors.”

    I don’t claim to know the quality of Politico’s sources like you do, but it’s interesting that you assume the best of the President’s unnamed advisors and the worst of the President. On the other hand, I suppose it’s quite possible that Bush loyalists who have reportedly been hired to fill many vacancies in the White House may well be to blame for the leaks. At any rate, such leaks to a hostile press are certainly NOT evidence of competence—whatever else they may be.

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  16. Ricky, from your link this quote from Mnuchin last month clearly indicates that those “competent advisors” Politico allegedly quoted were lying— or Politico was, for obvious reasons.

    “We’ve been working the last two months on tax reform,” Mnuchin said. “This is something we are designing from scratch and running through a lot of scenarios.” If they had tried to start the tax overhaul right away, he said, “we would not have been ready … but now we are.”

    Apparently, you are not the only enemy Trump has in the Republican party. Though I give you credit for much more integrity. ;–)

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  17. Ricky @ 1:00 I also thought there would be a “leftward drift”. In fact, when it comes to healthcare reform, I was hoping for it. I still am hoping that Republicans AND Democrats can be brought to the table before anything is passed. This must work for the whole country not just partisans. A Singapore approach with universal coverage, in which basic health insurance is strictly non-profit, would be interesting. I’d like to see it at least discussed. [I guess that’s my non-conservative ‘left’ brain talking. :–)

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  18. Debra, Mnuchin and Cohn are Trump’s top advisors on economic and tax policies. They are not conservatives; they are Wall Street guys. They are not the people I would have appointed, but they are competent and they are both Trump political appointees.

    Everything in the Mnuchin interview confirmed the legislative process I described and is consistent with the Politico article. Mnuchin and Cohn have been working with Treasury staff and Congressional staff to craft a bill that achieves some of Trump’s stated goals and can be passed by both Houses of Congress. If you read all of the article, you see that although Mnuchin said they were “ready”, he did not believe a bill could be passed until after August. He also said it would be “premature” to talk about specifics. Cohn and Mnuchin actually want a bill to pass, and they realize that a premature rollout of the specifics could be harmful. Remember the healthcare disaster.

    There is an ‘enemy’ at work in Washington who is constantly taking steps to reduce the chances that any of Trump’s legislative agenda will pass. Hilariously, it is the lunatic himself.

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  19. Debra, I have good news for you and I want you to remember that you heard this prediction here first. Your leftward drift is coming and here is how it will happen:

    1. 2018 will be a disaster for Republicans. The Democrats will be enraged and inspired. Conservatives will be dispirited. Trump cultists will blame Ryan and other Congressional Republicans for Trump’s incompetence and failures.

    2. Following the 2018 election, Trump will be more desperate than ever for some “accomplishment”, any “accomplishment”.

    3. To Trump’s rescue will ride his old friend and donee, Chuck Schumer. Expect them to work together to pass liberal legislation. The logical centerpiece would be an expansion/rescue of Obamacare leading to an unbelievably expensive single payer system.

    4. The liberal press will gush about how Trump has grown in wisdom, tolerance and favor with his fellow man.

    Then the question is: What happens in 2020? Trump relies on his old adage: Most Americans can only remember things for about two weeks. There is a partial merger of The Trump Cult and liberals who backed Sanders. Who knows? Maybe Trump replaces Pence with a liberal VP. In any event, there is a good chance that a Trump lurch to the left could get him re-elected. Most of his cult followers will stay with him no matter what he does.

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  20. Ricky, I’m sure they all want more time, and it might even be a good thing if they got it. But it might not. It may sound cynical, but giving big business and other entrenched interests in DC too much time to wiggle and wrangle their deals with our representatives just doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

    PS. Stop calling my President a lunatic. (If he falls out of favor, I’ll withdraw the complaint.) :–)

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  21. I have an offer for you, Debra. If your guy can go a week with no displays of idiocy, I won’t call him a lunatic. That means no lies about “tapps”, crowd size or millions of fraudulent voters costing him the popular vote, no Tweets against Schwarzenegger or Nordstroms, and no fights with Australia or our other key allies.

    PS. There was another whopper about crowd size in last night’s speech, so he is still on “0” Days Without Lunacy.

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  22. Debra @ 2:44 The problem you described is the exact reason you never do a premature rollout. Once you announce a bill, you want the President, Congressional, business and civic leaders to blitz the country with speeches in support of the final product and push forward for a relatively quick vote. It is true that special interests are lobbying as we speak. However, if the final product is leaked, the groups who lose deductions or other benefits will mobilize their people to descend on Congress and kill the bill before the rollout and the accompanying blitz takes place.

    For a good analogy, see the Battle of Kursk, 1943. The Russians (through spies) knew exactly when and where the Germans would strike and not only were completely prepared, but initiated a preemptive artillery barrage.

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  23. Help me out. Are high school students still taught How a Bill Becomes Law in Government or Civics class or is that class solely a diatribe against white men?

    The only report I heard from my son’s high school Government class was one of my proudest moments as a parent and a coach. His Government teacher was also the sponsor of the local Tolerance for Perversion chapter. I am not sure, but those things now may be federally mandated. This teacher assigned my son and a bunch of the boys I had coached to produce posters in support of perversion. I have heard conflicting reports about whether that assignment was given to all students or was some sort of punishment for behavior that was seen as “homophobic”. In any event, the boys produced a series of posters which each contained a double entendre. Read literally, each poster seemed to support perversion. However, a student equipped with the mind of a subversive 17 year old could perceive the actual intended meaning of each poster. Sadly, the posters were only on display for a few minutes before the ruckus they produced led to their removal.

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  24. Ricky, I confess that my looking glass into the future is not very detailed. However, my broad strokes are at odds with yours. And that, I think, is because in your mind you exaggerate the stupidity of the American people, who you believe will vote for a bankrupt and completely broken down Democratic party. I predict:

    #1 Republicans will be the winners in 2018. Democrats are not going to take the House or the Senate, nor will they make inroads in the Governors’ races (and there could even be a pleasant surprise for Republicans there).

    #2 The Freedom Caucus/Koch Conservatives will be continue to be belligerent. Neo-Cons will continue to egg Trump toward wars and rumors of wars to come. Establishment Republicans will diverge. Some will continue to be petulant. The more pragmatic will condescend to cooperate where there is something to be had.

    #3 Schumer will work with Trump on an infrastructure initiative. If they do this first, there may be some hope of a real dialogue on healthcare. If not, your prediction on healthcare may come true.

    #4 Pence will continue to be a bulwark for the White House agenda. As long as jobs continue to increase, and the re-industrialization of the nation progresses, he will get a second term as VP.

    #5 In the end, Trump will not be feted by the press or achieve the beatification that St. Reagan’s followers heaped upon him. But this will not be a problem, because there will be an announcement from the White House that the goal has been achieved. “Bigly. And it was a better deal than anyone else ever made before. Everybody says so….“ All will be well in TrumpWorld. :–)

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  25. Interesting predictions, Debra! We need to compare notes in 2020.

    I do have a couple of questions for you:

    1. Since it was Ivanka who most effectively pushed Trump into a new military adventure (Syria), is she a Neo-Con?

    2. As additional scenes from Idiocracy become reality on a regular basis, is it possible to exaggerate the stupidity of the American people?

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  26. Bob, In the movie Idiocracy, the President of the United States was (like Trump) both a former participant in professional wrestling and a person who had appeared in pornographic movies. I still marvel that Mike Judge got those things right over a decade ago. However, the modest Judge noted that he had predicted that it would take 500 years for the US to become an Idiocracy, and he was off by 490 years.

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  27. Another conservative in Congress decides to retire. There will be others. They may all simply decide to let the Democrats and Trumpkins fight it out in 2018.

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  28. 1- About Ivanka, I’m not sure. But if I had to peg her and Jared, I’d say they are generally pro-family, pro-Israel, establishment Democrats. That may be very inaccurate, but the Jews I’ve known, and most I know of, have been Democrats, even if their personal lives and behavior are rather conservative.

    2- Difficult, but yes, I think you can. We’ve been stupid to be lulled with promises of ‘good jobs’ and cheap goods while allowing our government to incentivize the de-industrialization of our country. But I think the election in November is evidence that you can’t fool people forever…..at least, not in the same way. To continue the game, you have to change the con, and hand the baton off to another con artist, because the one you’ve been running for the last few decades has finished its course. :–/

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  29. Fareed Zakaria is a bright guy. I completely disagree with him on global warming. I found his book on Illiberal Democracy to be very good. His opening monologue today was great. Trumpkins, Just skip the first 2:15 minutes. The segment from 2:15 to the 4:00 minute mark explains why America is currently ungovernable. He does it in a much nicer way than I have done.

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