War of Words

“I’m not going to enter a war of words with anybody, including the American president,” Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, told a Danish television channel on Wednesday.  Ok, that’s right.  Don’t back down and don’t escalate,

A few days ago, I was already to post a slightly humorous comment on Greenland, saying the Prime Minister should have told Trump, “Well, if you want Greenland, then give us Puerto Rico. ”  That was going to be my joke.  Then, it came out that the White House actually discussed swapping Puerto Rico for Greenland.   That’s super crazy.

Buying Greenland was a crazy distraction.  The Prime Minister of Denmark,  Mette Frederiksen, was absolutely right to call the idea “absurd.”   Even more absurd is the cavalier way Trump proposed this.   Trump was right that this had been considered during Truman’s presidency in 1946.   But, this was done under tight security, and no one knew about it for 45 years, when it was discovered by a Copenhagen newspaper in declassified documents in the National Archives.

Today, we have a military base (Thule air base) on Greenland.   Denmark has been a strong ally of the US.  Danes have fought with the US in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.    However, unlike Trump,  the Prime Minister is a strong environmentalist, and Denmark is making great strides in reducing carbon emissions.  It would be hard not to be a strong believer in climate change, as it is so evident in Europe and of course, in Greenland.

So, Trump hopped into Air Force 1, to attend the G7 meeting in beautiful Biarritz, France where the hot issues will be Iran, trade issues and climate change.

On climate change,  President Bolsonaro  of Brazil in making his country  great again, has done great harm to the Amazon.  I warned this was going to happen.   The people who voted for him are now choking on smoke in Sao Paulo.    Donald Trump intensified the Trade War, not only with China but with our European allies.  EU is trying desperately to save the Iran Nuclear agreement, after the US pulled out.

So, the G7 meeting will be a “war of words”  with the US now more as  the trouble maker than the problem solver.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/16/trump-greenland-purchase-harry-truman-denmark/

Who will win the 2020 Presidential Election?

States where democrats or republicans won big in 2016 are likely to do the same in 2020.  It is all about who can win  the big swing states.

These states, and their electoral votes  are:  Michigan (MI, 16 votes),  Wisconsin (WI,10), Pennsylvania (PA, 20), Florida (FL, 29), Arizona (AZ, 11).   All total, these 5 states have 86 electoral votes.

There’s not universal agreement on the swing states.  Some forecasters include North Carolina (NC, 15),  New Hampshire (NH, 4) and Iowa (IA, 6) adding another 25 electoral votes to the “who really knows” category.

There’s also a lean republican category, which includes Georgia (GA, 16) and Ohio (OH, 18) for another 34 votes.  Some feel Florida should also be in this category.

So, the lazy man’s approach is to take the solid atates’ vote (Rep 125, Dem 188), and all the possible swing states (86 + 25 + 34 = 145) and divide by 2, giving each party 72 votes.  Nobody gets 270 votes, but the Democrats with 260 votes are a lot closer than Republicans with 197 electoral votes.

This approach didn’t work in 2016 and it’s not likely to work in 2020.  It isn’t enough for the candidates to convince voters that they should be president for the next four years, they must be able to get their supporters to show up at the polls.

Another perverse aspect of forecasting – any positive results are likely to make supporters of a particular candidate less likely to show up at the polls, because they figure their vote is unnecessary.  This is the complacency factor, that dogged Hillary Clinton.

However,  the 9 states  (WI, PA, FL, AZ, NC, NH, IA, GA, OH)  is where all the action will be centered.  Well maybe just 8 hot spots because NH has only 4 electoral votes.   Pennsylvania and Florida are super hot spots.

Still very early but let the games begin!

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Trump should not be impeached

No one would travel down a blocked road.  They would turn back once they knew the road was blocked.

If the House  passes articles of impeachment, it would then go to the Senate, and the Republican majority would vote against impeachment.   So, Trump would win and declare victory.  After all, he has said that the Russian investigation was a big hoax.  The Mueller report did not exonerate the President on obstruction of justice.   Democrats are right that there is a lot of evidence to support impeachment proceedings.

Trump will have some excellent lawyers come to his defense the moment the House Judiciary Committee begins hearings.   One of them is renown legal expert Alan Dershowitz who wrote a book, “The Case Against Impeaching Trump” which I have not read, but got the essence of his arguments from numerous appearances on cable television, mainly Fox network.   The legal defense will begin with there is no evidence that the President directly interfered with the Mueller probe.  Trump really went through others in an effort to impede the investigation.  Secondly, any obstruction attempt  was unsuccessful.   Finally, his lawyers will charges against him do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses.

It should be difficult to impeach a President, because the President is chosen by the electorate.   A trial of impeachment is never a fair trial.  The argument for maintaining a high threshold for impeachment, is that the legislature, in a political trial, is overturning the decision of the electorate.   I can see why civil libertarians  like Alan Dershowitz  will side with the president.  The  right to vote becomes much less important if the legislature can easily remove a sitting president.  Impeachment has none of the safeguards of protecting the rights of the accused, to be innocent until proven guilty.

We have only two precedents on the Senate impeachment trials, Bill Clinton (1999) and Andrew Johnson (1868).  Both trials failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to remove the president.  Voting in both trials coincided with  party lines, clearly demonstrating the partisan nature of the trial.  In Clinton’s case.  the Senators deliberations were conducted in a closed door session.

Thus, in these  critical months before the election,  the real issues take not center stage, as they should.  The only proper and successful way to remove Donald Trump from office is through the ballot box based on the fact that there are better candidates to lead our country.  Anything else is a distraction.   My cable news station has 3 channels which are strongly Republican (2 on Fox and OAN) and they will be lambasting the impeachment hearings every minute they can.   All Democrats will be doing is creating political theater, likely to turn off voters.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Trade Wars and Protectionism

Stocks rose yesterday, and will probably give back their gains today.  Lots of slow down, but no melt down like 2008.

Per the Wall Street Journal on August 13:

The Trump administration abruptly suspended plans to impose new tariffs on about $156 billion in goods from China, saying the move was driven by concerns about the impact an escalating trade fight would have on businesses and consumers ahead of the holiday shopping season. The shift fueled a rally on Wall Street, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.44% to 26279.91. But it wasn’t immediately clear if the retreat marked a significant step toward resolving the more than yearlong trade conflict between the U.S. and China.  Under the reprieve, the U.S. agreed to postpone until Dec. 15 tariffs of 10% on smartphones, laptops, toys, videogames and other products that were set to take effect on Sept. 1. The value of those goods imported in 2018 was about $156 billion, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

Did Trump just now realize that tariffs could result in higher cost to consumers?

The New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman,  yesterday (Aug 13)  had some comments which sounded complimentary of Trump:

Trump was right in arguing that America should not continue to tolerate systemic abusive Chinese trade practices — intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, huge government subsidies and nonreciprocal treatment of U.S. companies in China — now that China is virtually America’s technology equal and a rising middle-income country.

Friedman quickly changes his tune.  Good objectives coupled with a failing strategy  leads nowhere.  Actually, tariffs hurts rather than helps the US economy.    Friedman mentions Trump is obsessed with the trade deficit.  As long as workers are paid low wages in China, it is not really a fixable problem.

See Thomas Friedman’s column, Trump and Xi Sittin’ in a Tree.   If you don’t know this song, the next line goes  K I S S I N G.  However, this is another tree, where the sides are too far apart for meaningful discussions, and neither has a way down from their high perches.   Friedman writes,  “Both men have overplayed their hand and are desperate to be seen as the winner in their trade war.”

Fareed Zakaria gave a more broad perspective of how imposing tariffs on a country do not accomplish anything but an immediate retaliation, and the consumer pays the price every time.   CNN link 

Finally,  our Make America Great Again President can no longer claim that the stock market made exceptional gains since he’s been in office.   See  CNN comparison.

Stay tuned,

Dave