Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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Without Leverage

Trump’s Apparent Indifference to Hong Kong < China’s Indifference to Trump

There are lots of articles you can read right now on your screen of choice about the U.S. president’s relative silence on the fate of the protesters in Asia’s World City, who are no longer shutting down the airport, but whose thirst for freedom and for support from the outside world continues to burn powerfully.

Typical is Politico: “Lawmakers and government officials across Washington, including some of President Donald Trump’s top advisers, are growing increasingly alarmed about the unrest in Hong Kong. One person, however, seems less concerned than most: Trump…..To date, Trump has said relatively little on the Hong Kong crisis, sparking criticism that he is more worried about getting a trade deal with China than supporting movements for democracy.”

And/but if Trump said more, there is no indication it would have a tangible impact on Beijing’s behavior.  For instance, see Tom Friedman’s latest column, and this New York Times news analysis suggesting the U.S. now has little influence on the behavior of leaders throughout Asia.

My take: The Chinese Communist Party cares as much about what Donald Trump thinks about the protection of legal and human rights in Hong Kong as Miley Cyrus cares about what David French thinks about her split from Liam Hemsworth. Which is to say: not at all.

Markets Rally on Trump China Tariff Reprieve

Delay until December pleases traders and establishment voices, such as the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Says said ed board: “The wiser heads in the White House want calm lest they damage broader economic confidence. It’s notable that Administration sources leaked that one reason for the tariff reprieve was that U.S. negotiators had a productive call with chief Chinese trade negotiator Liu He.”

My take: Donald Trump cares as much about what the Wall Street Journal editorial board thinks about his tactical use of tariffs as Joe Biden cares about what Rachel Maddow thinks about his chances of winning the Democratic nomination. Which is to say: somewhat. 

House Democrats “Pressure” McConnell on Guns

Press conference intended to force Senate action, as Trump talks to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.

And/but there is no indication the Kentuckian will change course.  That will require pressure from Trump, the American people, and a large number of Republican Senators who have previously opposed gun safety measures.

My take: Mitch McConnell cares as much about what Steny Hoyer and House Democrats think about how he should run the Senate as John Bolton cares about what the State Department bureaucracy thinks about….anything. Which is to say: not at all.

Follow-up on Trump’s Enemies List

Thank you all for the many responses to Tuesday’s list.   Here are clarifications and explanations in reply to the most frequent suggestions I received:

1. James Comey wasn’t on the list because he is on his own Trump list that is a lot more cosmic than a mere enemies list.

2. The Clintons weren’t on the list because Donald Trump doesn’t hate the Clintons at all — he likes them. If it weren’t for the Clintons, Trump wouldn’t be president.  Hillary, in particular, served and serves as a useful foil for him.  Rather than being on his enemies list, the Clintons are on his “thank you” list (along with another of your suggestions, The Squad).

3. I am pretty sure Donald Trump has not given John Kasich half a second thought in a long, long time.

4. Some of you suggested I misspelled the name of former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn on the extended list.  While Trump is not all that fond of Cohn any more, the name on the list was, in fact, that of New York Mets play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen. It could not be learned by press time why the president has developed such negative feelings towards the broadcaster.

5. Jeff Bezos might well belong on the list. That requires more reporting.

6. The president loves Don Lemon so much he wants to BE Don Lemon.

Top sports story: Sale eclipses Pedro as fastest ever to 2,000 K’s

Top business story: Retail stocks surge after tariffs for clothing, footwear delayed

Top entertainment story: CBS, Viacom Reach Long-Awaited Merger Agreement to Reunite

Big Four


Busy week of campaigning in Iowa shows how style, enthusiasm differ among Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders.

In Iowa, Pete Buttigieg releases new policy to help rural America.

Governor backs wind industry but will listen to concerns.

New Hampshire

Sanders looks to reclaim leader status during two-day swing through N.H.

Sanford mulls GOP challenge to Trump, heads to N.H.


Court rules for US in fight over Nevada plutonium shipment.

South Carolina

GOP lawmakers try to fast-track an SC abortion ban. Critics say they’re being sneaky.

Dreadful heat, humidity invade South as misery continues.

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