Ukraine and Trump

When corrupt officials are praised as good,  then those just doing their jobs are bad because they see what is happening.  They know too much.    So bad becomes good, and good becomes bad.   Trump lauds praise on Ukraine’s former chief prosecutor as follows:

     TRUMP: “Good [responding to Zelenskiy’s comment that investigations will be done openly], because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.  A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved.”

The chief prosecutor Trump is referring to, is likely Yuriy Lutsenko, who did not leave office until August 2019.  He was clearly not a “very good man” and is very likely the unnamed co-conspirator in the federal indictment against recently arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.   He has been charged with embezzlement and abuse of office.  Incredibly he did not have a law degree.  The Chief Prosecutor position  in Ukraine is a very powerful position, as the conviction rate is approximately 99%.

The former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, as shown on the left, has 33 years of experience and served under six presidents.  Her qualifications for Ambassador are excellent.  See the Wikipedia summary of her experience.

In March 2019, she was asked to extend her term through 2020.  But then in May, she was ousted.  She was called “bad news” by Trump  and the newly elected President, Zelenskiy surprisingly agreed with him, stating on the July 25, 2019 phone call, “she admired the previous President and she was on his side.”   I found Zelenskiy’s comments incredible, but I have a feeling that Giuliani and friends had told him what would please Trump.

It’s also possible that this rough transcript left out a lot, because she was gone before he became president.   From her testimony, she seemed very positive about the new president.   I have included her opening remarks to the House Intelligence Committee, currently conducting an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.   She was asked by the State Department to refuse to testify.  Marie Yovanovitch was ousted because of unfounded accusations  from Rudy Giuliani and others, that she was disloyal.    Please read her opening remarks.

The current impeachment inquiry will go deeper on Giuliani’s partners who had put making profits far ahead of political gains.   When you are working with corrupt officials,  what they will say or agree to, is just a matter of price.  See “Trump allies pressed Ukraine over gas firm in links.”

We are at the tip of the iceberg, as far as I can tell.   The Global Energy Partners (GEP)  with Lev Parnas,  Igor Fruman and Harry Sargeant III  as partners sought lucrative LNG export contracts from Ukraine, but met opposition from CEO  of Naftogaz,  Andriy Kobolyev.  So, through pressure from the US, they wanted to oust Kobolyev,  and replace him with a friend of Giuliani’s  Andrew Favorov.  Now there is nothing wrong with trying to increase US LNG exports. but definitely wrong when you meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine, just to get better contract terms.  So,  for a country trying to reduce corruption, the Trump administration was going the opposite direction.

There is a whole lot more to come out.   For those who really want to get the full story – it’s all out there, from Poroshenko, Viktor Shokin (prior corrupt chief prosecutor),  and Representative Pete Cotton (Republican from Texas, who wanted Yovanovitch gone in a hurry).   Certainly,  there are some big GOP donors out there, who did not want an honest and very intelligent ambassador in their way.  From the AP news story:

“As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.

Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.

Their plan hit a snag after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection bid to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry of Trump.

But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.”

It really sounds like something a hostile country might do – not one with principles and values.   I believe Mike Pompeo and Rick Perry are doing Trump;s dirty work, or at least turning a blind eye.    This is really an evolving story.

it is important to remember that Trump repeatedly praised Manafort as a “good man”  whose dealing in Ukraine made him rich.  Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort and  National Defense Advisor,  Michael Flynn both ended in prison.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

The President of Ukraine has been referred to as Zelenskyy and Zelensky, however I found recent articles prefer Zelenskiy.    Also Ukraine is often refer to as “the Ukraine.”

CNN: Giuliani’s case rests on two Ukrainians with checkered pasts and suspect motives

Wikipedia:  Yuriy Lutsenko

AP: Trump allies pressed Ukraine over gas firm

Wikipedia: Marie Yovanovitch 

Trump-Ukraine-transcript

Yovanovitch Opening Remarks at House Intelligence Committee (closed door hearing)

Ukraine Envoy Says She Was Told Trump Wanted Her Out Over Lack of Trust

Lutsenko is unnamed Ukrainian who led plot to oust Yovanovitch, says official

Donald Trump ad misleads about Joe Biden, Ukraine and the prosecutor

Two business associates of Trump’s personal attorney Giuliani have been arrested on campaign finance charges

Impeachment inquiry

Just want to make a few points.  First, the impeachment inquiry is valid.  Trump’s actions really put it over the top.   Legal experts  agree that Congress does not have to pass a resolution in front of the full house, before proceeding with an inquiry.

The inquiry will examine the evidence of wrong doing by Trump.  It will be highly contentious.  No way to get around that.

Finally, I like Representative Adam Schiff.  He’s the right man to lead the inquiry.   He is intelligent, patient and does not engage in name calling like some people we know.

I suggested previously that this will end in the Senate with a vote of not guilty on all articles, with the voting split along party line.  For this reason, I wish the whole impeachment process can be concluded rapidly  and we can resume looking at who would be the best next president.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

 

 

 

 

 

Still against impeaching Trump

If you are a Democrat, you’re supposed to be wildly enthusiastic about impeaching Trump and if you’re a Republican, you call it a coup.  So call me a Republican, who cares! I don’t support impeaching Trump.  I support letting the voters decide in November 2020.

Impeachment will end  badly with the Senate voting down every article of impeachment, and Trump will declare he prevented an illegal coup.  This is the hard cold reality of impeachment.  The two times in our nation’s history that the Senate has voted on articles of impeachment, it has been in a highly partisan manner, No president has ever been thrown out of office by impeachment.  Nixon resign, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson both won.    There just are not enough Republicans in the Senate that will vote to convict.

Secondly, a recent article in the Washington Post (yes, the Washington Post that Trump hates)  makes excellent arguments why there really is no legal obligation for Congress to impeach a president for what they consider impeachable offenses.  It is really time some members of Congress get off their high horse, and see that impeachment is a radical solution, overturning the results of an election.  The US Constitution only states that our Congress has the sole authority to impeach elected officials for high crimes and misdemeanors and conviction means they are removed from office.

Congress need not vote to impeach.  They can stop after the inquiry, and simply say for the good of the country,  let Trump complete his last 6 months in office, in deference to the electorate that put him there.    Congress is not a law enforcement agency, but should act in what is best for the country.     Further, the trial of impeachment is not a fair trial with an unbiased jury.  It is just the opposite, a highly emotional and partisan trial.  Every American has the right to a fair trial except the President in the removal of office.  The question will be not whether Trump actions  were wrong,  but whether they rise to the level of impeachable offenses?

The inquiry will get bogged down with a long list of subpoenas and nuances about who said what.  It is going to be difficult to have a simple clear summary of the offenses.   Trump will claim that the Democrats are inventing their own facts and  grandstanding.     Sure,  there are important  questions here related to the Mueller report and  the whistleblower scandal.  At the end of the day,   Democrats will cry guilty on all accounts, and Republicans will cry innocent.   Trump has recently added to his international dirt finding mission, by enlisting Australia and China’s help.  Yes, things are getting nutsy at the White House as Trump tries to the old “distract and deflect” tactics over his reckless actions.   One commentator opined that Trump is trying to normalize recklessness and hubris.

If I were in Congress, I wouldn’t support impeachment.   Impeachment means months will be wasted ignoring very important issues:  climate change, China trade wars,  the stalled out talks with North Korea, and the worsening relations with Iran, potentially putting them back on to developing nuclear weapons.   Domestic issues are important and our immigration problems are not solved just by wll construction.   Yes, I’d like elections to be called right now, but this isn’t Britain.

I have no confidence in Trump and want voters to show him the door in November 2020.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

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Trump’s new occupation – Farming

Actually, he’s been at it for a long time.  Trump loves “dirt” and somehow I really believe he thinks it puts him out in front of the others.   He uses a blended mix, some actual facts mixed in with pure cow manure.  He connects up with experts in this area, who know how to concoct a good story and spread it on social media.   Trump did not write “Clinton Cash”  a book  filled with false accusations against Bill and Hillary Clinton, but he quickly connected with those involved, including Steve Bannon.

Trump has crossed the line between legitimate accusations and complete fabrication so many times,  he just doesn’t see the line anymore.    If you want to see a pattern of behavior that is so ingrained in Trump, you have to go back to his failed Taj Mahal casino, where he not only blasted a financial analyst who said his hotel was in trouble, but Trump was actually able to get the analyst fired from Barrons.  In this case, the story does have a happy ending, as the casino failed just as the analyst predicted, because revenues came up short during New Jersey’s winter months, and the analyst sued his investment firm and won.  I wrote about this in a two part blog, “I’ll see you in court”   See link

He needs help on his farm.  Sean Hannity, a commentator with Fox News is one hand who is so predictable and loyal to him.    “Sean, throw dirt on ___” and Sean will do it.  Lou Dobbs is another one.   The dirt farm bankers are the Koch brothers and Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire hedge fund manager, Robert Mercer.   Rebekah gets her way because she’s got so much ready cash.   She’s on the board of the Heritage Foundation and other conservative organizations.  The Mercers contributed 25 million dollars to Trump’s campaign, in 2016.   Trump aided by Steve Bannon was lambasting Hillary’s connections to wealthy elites, and Trump as an independent with a self funded campaign.  This was a joke.

Need more support for the dirt farm?  Got money  and we’ve got the time,  Ready and willing conspiracy inventors includes Peter Schweizer, who is a master in world wide conspiracy theories.   It used to “all about Bill” or the Clinton Foundation.   I haven’t  read any of his books because from all serious writers, they are filled with unsubstantiated accusations. For 3 years, we’ve had a Department of Justice, CIA and FBI, all run by Trump nominees.   Yet,  no indictments.  The person leading the “Lock her up” chants at the Republican Convention, Michael Flynn went to jail.   He’s since is trying to get into the Republican conspiracy racket.

A lot of investigations are started with little information.   But, at some point, prosecutors at either the state of federal level, have to decide whether a crime been committed.   Now, the right wing conspiracy promoters were forever saying there was a massive coverup, because  Obama’s DOJ was not charging either Bill or Hillary Clinton with anything criminal.   Sean Hannity or Lou Dobbs had  already concluded there was enough on them that any half wit prosecutor could come and haul them to jail.   Trump gave the impression he would and for the last 3 years, the FBI, CIA and the Department of Justice did not charge the Clintons or anyone associated with the Clinton Foundation.  Note that the Department of Justice employs 11,000 lawyers.

In preparation for the 2020 election,  Trump has extended his search for dirt to the Ukraine, Australia and China.  I’ll have to do each of the dirt expeditions later.   It does remind one of the McCarthy era, where there were communist agents hiding our FBI, State Department  and finally the Army.   Joseph Welch, representing the Army finally let him have it, after McCarthy

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”  Welch asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” 

Why do commentators like Sean Hannity continue to be Donald Trump’s messenger boy?  Because it’s great money.  Sean makes approximately 36 million  dollars a year.   This stuff really pays!  Remember, that Trump  loved to talk about draining the swamp.  Well the swamp is huge now.

So,  even after allegations are found to be shot full of holes by real investigative  journalists, the myths live on in their own little world.   And stations like Fox News really don’t care.  That’s the real tragedy.

The conspiracy theories tend to morph themselves into huge cover-up fantasies.  The Hillary email scandal “cover-up” now extends over both Democratic and Republican administrations and now, via Trump’s call, extends to a potential hidden server in the Ukraine.  Pure tabloid trash.  It’s the only way for advocates to keep the story alive without admitting that it was a myth.    I call it the hot air balloon effect.  To keep a hot air balloon rising, it must be constantly fed more hot air.   Conspiracy theorists like to link a lot of myths together, which include FBI and CIA covering up crimes, in  smokey back rooms, to mislead people the directors of their respective agencies (which happen to be Trump appointees) in the fantasized “Deep State.”  I guess now the Deep State extends to the Ukraine, China and Australia.  Where to next?

Hot air balloons tend to use up all their fuel eventually.

I think the farm has enough cow made fertilizer to last for the next 15 months.

Dave

Links:

Feds say Michael Flynn is pushing conspiracy theories in bid to hinder case

“Have you no sense of decency?” Sen. Joseph McCarthy is asked in hearing

Wikipedia- Sean Hannity 

-Sean’s latest target is Adam Schiff, which seems to involve mostly name calling.

 

I want it all, I want it now!

Wonderful lyrics from Queen + Adam Lambert, which was the closing act of the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York City.  Really powerful.

Even Donald Trump would like the lyrics, but with a slight change:

“I want all the credit, and none of the blame”

The stock market goes up, it is an affirmation of his good work and in defiance of all the naysayers from the left.

The stock market goes down, it can’t be the trade war with China.  Has to be the misguided Federal Reserve.

So it goes.  And Trump often takes credit for things he didn’t do.

I’m certain that’s not the meaning of these lyrics.  Wanting all from life, and not waiting for things to happen are the right messages.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Trump’s impeachment

Do I dare go there?  There is some excellent coverage already, and I just can’t see adding much.  I believe this scenario:  House will vote in favor of impeachment.  Trump and his supporters will immediately claim they did because they knew that they’ll never win at the polls in 2020, and will stop at nothing to throw him out.   The Senate will fail to get the 2/3 needed and the rest is history.

I’ll let others figure out how this affects Trump’s popularity.   So far Gallup polls don’t show much change up or down.  I would like the time spent discussing other important issues.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

 

African News and Tabloid News

I lived and worked in Angola during the 1980’s.  The media (newspapers, television and radio) were controlled by the government,  Television’s lead story was how successful the government leaders were in areas of health, housing, job creation, and many other social areas.  Medical care for most Angolans was horrible.  Nobody really believed it.  I’ll call it African news, but it is probably a terrible label, as state controlled media exists in every continent.

Then there is the tabloid news.  Fox News is probably the worse as they allow guests on who generally see large looming conspiracies.   The “Deep State” is total nonsense.    It is based on the idea of some “Obama loyalists” inside the Justice Department, FBI,  and the intelligence community, all plotting (currently and in the past) against Donald Trump.   What is true, is the people Donald Trump fired, and really wants prosecuted for anything have not, because they didn’t do anything illegal.  This includes James Comey and Andrew McCabe, who served as the Director of the FBI and Acting Director.  Similarly with FBI agent Peter Strzok, whose name comes up constantly as part of the deep conspiracy,  Not only have McCabe and Strzok not charged with anything criminal, they are suing the government because they were forced out for political reasons.

If Fox News wants a guest to slam opponents hard and go on about deep state conspiracy stuff, they call up Attorney Joe diGenova who recently said on the Laura Ingraham’s (Fox News) podcast:

JOE DIGENOVA (GUEST): We are in a civil war in this country. There’s two standards of justice, one for Democrats one for Republicans. The press is all Democrat, all liberal, all progressive, all left – they hate Republicans, they hate Trump. So the suggestion that there’s ever going to be civil discourse in this country for the foreseeable future in this country is over. It’s not going to be. It’s going to be total war. And as I say to my friends, I do two things – I vote and I buy guns.

This is the lawyer that Trump wanted as his personal lawyer, but due to a conflict of interest, never was hired.   Fox News should have banned diGenova, but it looks like they are using him more and more. I guess it helps their ratings.  It is a short step from “buy guns” to “use guns” because everything (government/the media) is now controlled by evil democrats.

Good news is comprehensive reporting from journalists around the world.  It comes from investigation.   Today’s New York Times just arrived, and of course the headline story was the  whistle-blower/Ukraine  scandal.  And I’m sure they will be doing their best to get to the facts straight, not just repeat what Trump has said.  This is not African news, nor Tabloid news, it is solid and credible reporting and it’s what I want to pay for and what I spend my time reading.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Frequent Fox News guest tells Laura Ingraham “we are in a civil war;” suggests everyone buy guns to prepare for “total war”

Behind the Whistle-Blower Case, a Long-Held Trump Grudge Toward Ukraine 

 

Saudi Arabia attack – Who do you trust?

“Half of Saudi oil production wiped out” was the headliner.   I predicted that Saudi Arabia had shut down a lot of their processing and storage facilities simply as a precaution while inspections were underway.  Saudi Arabia yesterday announced that 70% of their production was restored.  They are able to maintained contracted tanker liftings using their reserve oil.  WTI oil prices are around $58/bbl, about what they were before the attack.

The question still remains, as to whether the Houthis or the Iranians were behind the attack.   I don’t know.   Our President is a non-stop liar.    According to politifact.com,  69% of the 720 statements he has made were in the category of Mostly false, false or pants on fire.   Only 4% of his statements were true.

If you work with Donald Trump,  then you have to toe the line, and you better find a way to support him, or you will be out the door in a second.   So, I guess the question keeps coming around, who do you believe?

Not Trump nor Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.  And that doesn’t leave me believing the Iranians either.   I believe more in that the drones or any missiles were not sent from Iran, because it is not in Iran’s national interest to provoke a war with the Saudi’s.     But, there are a number of UN inspectors, which I feel will be far more impartial.

It definitely was the crisis that wasn’t.  The petroleum industry including  oil rigs, processing and export facilities, refineries and petrochemical plants are all vulnerable to drone attacks.  They were before the attack, but the public awareness wasn’t there.

It is easy to accuse Iran, but as I said, it just doesn’t make any sense they would provoke a war with the Saudis.  Of course, the Houthis are completely different.   They are already at war with Saudi Arabia.

 

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Links:

https://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

 

 

 

 

The loss of our “soft power”

I just felt that the transcript of Fareed Zakaria’s My Take  fit so well within the last blog on the Saudi attack.   Fareed looks at all the crises:  North Korea Disarmament talks, China Trade war,  Israel – Palestine conflict,  Afghanistan disengagement and talks with the Taliban,  and concludes Trump has failed badly,  because he isn’t a good negotiator.

But he held out some hope for a US-Iran deal, something which would allow the Iran nuclear deal from unraveling.  Fareed’s piece was likely concluded just prior to the drone attack on Saudi Arabia.   The US now threatens to bomb Iran, in part because that’s what the Saudi’s would like.   Now,  none of these conflicts are new, except the hostilities between the US and Iran.  This occurred because Trump and the Republican party waged war against the Iranian nuclear deal.  The China trade wars are new, but the problem of China’s unfair trade practice are not new.

So, bottom line, Trump hasn’t really resolved any of the international conflicts he inherited from Obama, and has added Iran nuclearization to the heap of threats.   I would add climate change as sixth major threat, which Donald Trump has taken a giant step backwards by pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord.   The next president will arrive in 2020 with his or her plate full.

Diplomacy is the art of the compromise.   It is our strength.   It is why the US pushed for international organizations, like the UN, World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Commission which is still doing the inspections in Iran, and many others.   It is soft power, and it looks like we are losing it.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

 Trump’s foreign policy is in shambles (Fareed Zakaria)

Soft Power

 

Saudi attack – Part 2

There’s a lot of news and commentary out there.  The big one is how long until the Saudi’s production is restored.  Of course, the damages are still being assessed.  Saudi Arabia will draw from emergency supplies, so for the immediate future, there will be no disruption in tanker liftings. Some production will be restored in days, but it appears to be weeks or months before all the oil production is back.  Oil prices are usually quoted in terms of Brent or West Texas Intermediate (WTI) on the futures market.  As I write this at 6:30 am on Monday, I see WTI at $59.53/bbl up 8.53% when trading began on Sunday.    This is down from $61.14/bbl as of Sunday night.  I’ve included the website oilprice.com in the links for those who like this stuff.   Looking at the chart on WTI, they hit a bottom on Dec 25, 2018 at $42.53/bbl then peaked on April 22, 2019 at $65.55/bbl.   So, this “incredible spike”  is unusual because it occurred on one day, but movements of 10% or more in a couple of months are pretty common.  These are traded futures values of oil, and include the anticipated price changes based on reported inventory levels and geopolitics.   I believe in a month or two,  this event will be buried in the usual fluctuations in crude prices.

Second,  Trump’s reaction is way over the top.  He announced he’s given approval to make withdrawals from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve if needed.    It won’t be necessary.    He’s threatening to retaliate against Iran, which seems ridiculous to me.   Yes, Iran helped arm the Houthis, but around the world, the US helps governments or their enemies, without a second thought.   Libya comes to mind, when we assisted the civil war there in 2011.   Our assistance to insurgents in Syria was very open.

Finally, the comments from Mike Pompeo to blame Iran and not the Houthis, even after they claimed responsibility for the attack, still seems weak.  Others have spoken out.   Senator Rand Paul arguments closely align with my own – see link.  The UN is the right place for presenting everything we know about the attack.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Oilprice.com 

CNN:  Sen Paul: Don’t bomb Iran

CNN: US is ‘locked and loaded’ 

NYT:  Saudi Oil Photos implicate Iran, US Says

Maybe it should state “US thinks” as it is clear the evidence is weak reading through the article,  I guess I’d like to know if cruise missile attack did occur, could it have been seen from satellite photos?  Good article.

The attack on Saudi’s oil installation

The recent attack on Saudi’s oil installation, was incredible with 5.7 million barrels of oil per day shut-in, roughly half of their oil production. For comparison the US produces about 12 million barrels per day.  So, economically, Saudi Arabia is losing 300 million dollars per day.  However, the New York Times reported that analysts who closely follow the Saudi oil industry, were hearing the damage to the facilities was not severe resulting in only a few day’s outage,  This sounds like some of the shutdown was really just a precaution.   The oil analysts are predicting a rise in oil prices when trading begins Sunday (September 15) night, likely to change quickly as engineers assess the damage.  Spot oil prices in the next week will be a reflection of how long until Saudi production is restored.

The question is, right now, who did this?  The Houthi’s are claiming responsibility for the drone attack, yet the Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, claims it was Iran.   I beginning to get the idea that the US just doesn’t know where the drones came from, and Iran seemed a convenient culprit.  The US is not taking this to the UN Security Council, which would be the obvious place to begin to show all that we know.   Pompeo did not say that the drones were sent from Iran, just that they were responsible for the attack.

The attack took place 500 miles from Yemen.   UN investigators have reported that the Houthi’s had drones capable with a range of 930 miles.  The Houthi’s said the attack was done by 10 drones.

The current war in Yemen began in 2015, and the civilian losses due to war or starvation have been terrible.  It is a proxy war, with Saudi Arabia and the US helping the Yemen government with aerial bombing and Iran’s support of the Houthis.    There are excellent summaries of the conflict on Wikipedia.

I think Trump is looking for a pretext to attack Iran.  Also, he has no problem of supplying Saudi Arabia with a pretext to attack Iran.  It also makes no sense that, given the current conflicts between the US and Iran, that Iran would be involved in an attack on Saudi Arabia.   Iran is suffering economically due to the sanctions imposed by Trump.  It is desperately trying to convince the rest of our allies not to be pressured by the US in extending these sanctions.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Houthi Movement

 

 

 

 

Weaker alone and it’s getting worse (China, Iran, Climate Change) + Over the top distractions

Trump has started a number of highly disruptive “wars” without a clear end in sight.  The two big ones is his economic war with China and the political war with Iran.   A third huge division among us and our allies is our recent action against international cooperation in climate change.  Our Department of Justice is currently waging war against our automobile manufacturers who are working with California to improve exhaust emissions standards.  I guess the idea is that we all must breathe the same polluted air.   I’ll leave this last one for separate blog.

— Trade War – No end in sight.

The trade war with China, just seems to get worse every month.  According to experts, China has engaged in unfair trade practices.  But, the current trade wars are just the US and China.  We failed to obtain international support.  We created the World Trade Organization to address issues such as unfair trade practices and currency manipulation.  Now we take action without their involvement.  Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) which included 12 countries (China not one of them) and would have been the best counter measure against China’s unfair practices.  Trump has correctly stated that prominent Republicans and Democrats were against it.   Likely, if Clinton were elected president, then she would have attempted to make  changes in the agreement.

The TPP agreement is long and complex.  It has survived without the US in a new agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP).   The US was insisting on certain provisions which would be best for the US. and none of the other countries before we signed it.  See links below.  When Trump pulled out, all the contested provisions were pulled out.  It includes however, what seems at the top of Trump’s wish list – respect for intellectual property as follows:

It [CPTTP] includes the most detailed standards for intellectual property of any trade agreement, as well as protections against intellectual property theft against corporations operating abroad.

Manufacturing as measured by the US ISM manufacturing employment index, last month hit a two year low of  47.4 in August 2019, down from a high of 60.17 on September 2017.  See link.

Trade wars are a lose-lose proposition.   There are 18 countries which are party to the CPTPP agreement including Japan, Mexico, Australia, Singapore and Canada.  They are stronger together, and the US is now weaker as it stands alone.

—  IRAN

Now Iran.  As long as the sanctions were lifted, Iran obeyed by its commitments.  They had a strict monitoring program.  The agreement basically called for the US to lift sanctions as long as Iran was in compliance.  When Trump imposed economic sanctions by refusing to import oil from Iran, it put the US in violation of the agreement.  Further, the US was pressuring other countries and companies not to lift Iran’s oil.

Thus, Iran correctly stated that they had the right not to be bound by the terms of the agreement, primarily on the amount of uranium it could enrich.   None of our European allies want Iran to get nuclear weapons, so they are pleading with the US, to drop the sanctions, so Iran can be brought back into compliance.  President Macron is leading this effort.  The head of the UN atomic energy watchdog agency (IAEA)  is in Iran now,   Iran makes no secret of its violations of the treaty and in fact will comply with thorough IAEA inspections,   It is simply tit-for-tat against actions taken by the US.

Trump’s theory, that once Iran felt the pain of sanctions, it would do anything to please the US hasn’t worked at all.  In fact, it has been a terrible failure.   Treaties are tough to put together, but much easier to fall apart.

I’ll stop here.  I’ve got a lot more to say on Trump’s misguided policies on reducing our carbon emissions and minimizing the real threat it is creating throughout the world, including droughts and extreme weather events.  But that will be a separate blog.

— DISTRACTIONS

I have to contend with a huge number of distracting events in July and August.  It’s really nuts.  Vice President Mike Pence wants an American on Mars by 2024, about 6 years earlier than planned, price tag around 500 billion dollars (a trillion here and there eventually adds up to real money) plus the militarizing of space with the Star Wars themed “Space Force.”   Then the trip to Ireland, was a publicist nightmare.  His grandfather was Irish, but he fled Ireland as a refugee escaping violence and poverty, just the folks Trump is trying to ban from the US.  Plus,  it was a terrible snub to stay at the Trump hotel, far outside of Dublin, for “security reasons.”  Nobody bought this one.   See link.

What else:  Trying somehow link Bill Clinton and Jeff Epstein by repeating social media nonsense,  buying Greenland and insulting Denmark (whose next?), the Trump drawn hurricane maps to include Alabama, pulling funds for Puerto Rico hurricane rebuilding effort to build the Mexican border wall (seeing just how far the National Emergency Act can be stretched), and a barrage of tweet attacks against Jay Powell for basing his decisions on interest rates on economic data and Fed Reserve objectives, rather than Trump’s polling numbers.  Remember, Jay Powell was Trump’s nominee to the Fed and highly qualified for this position by both Democrats and Republicans.

I’m not sure if any of the above means much. Our policies on Iran, China and Climate Change are real issues where an immediate course correction is necessary.  More like 180 degree turn, as we are “stronger together.” This will have to wait until the 2020 elections.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Manufacturing Unemployment index is down

Wikipedia: Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP)

Atomic watchdog chief in Iran for high-level talks

The distractions:

Mars Confusion 

Pence’s disasterous trip abroad

The Irish love anyone who can drink beer and has a bit of Irish heritage.  I believe they’ll make an exception with VP Mike Pence.

Irish Times Review of Mike Pence’s visit

 

 

 

 

 

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