Tuesday, October 8, 2019


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DONALD TRUMP’S AMERICA
A partial list of those unhappy with Donald Trump’s on-again-off-again-who-knows-again decision to give Turkish troops the go-ahead to head into Syria: Mitch McConnell; the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New York Post, and Washington Post editorial boards; Israel; the Kurds; Lindsey Graham; European allies; Trump national security officials; and almost every member of Congress of both parties except Rand Paul.
 
Reuters: “Over the span of just a few hours, U.S. President Donald Trump upended his own policy on Syria with a chaotic series of pronouncements, blindsiding foreign allies, catching senior Republican supporters off guard and sending aides scrambling to control the damage.”
 
“’He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation,’ tweeted Brett McGurk, who served as Trump’s envoy for the international coalition to combat Islamic State and quit after the December Syria policy uproar.”
 
My take: Donald Trump wants to end America’s military presence in wars he believes are unwinnable. He ran on this position as a candidate. There are many Americans who agree with him in the abstract. In this case, Trump and the administration had to do an about-face because the president chose to blurt out his “decision” at the wrong time, in the wrong way, about the wrong conflict.  I hate to sound clichéd, but what would be for a normal presidency a historically bad national security catastrophe is known in the Trump administration as Sunday-into-Monday.  There is plenty of falling action to come, but all the walking back of the original statement by Trump himself and the administration will likely move this storyline out of the lead position shortly.
 
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The NBA’s Hong Kong mess is no more popular than the president’s Syria mess.
 
My take: This is about the clearest case in American history of a business putting profits over support for liberty and human rights.  Much of the damage that has been done cannot be undone. And the NBA doesn’t seem interested in undoing it.  This is a grim moment for America, the league, and those who love freedom.
 
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Two impeachment notes for you:
 
1. Gordon Sondland is expected to testify behind closed doors on Capitol Hill today.
 
“Lawmakers want to know what Mr. Sondland knew and said about Mr. Trump’s effort to press Kyiv for investigations, and whether the administration relied in doing so on promises of a White House visit or military assistance.” (Wall Street Journal)
 
My take: There is no way to know if this will be one of the biggest moments to date in the impeachment inquiry or just a step along the way. Only time will tell.
 
2. As most Republicans continue to hide from the public and the press to avoid sharing their views on the president’s Ukraine actions, here are two interesting straws to consider:
 
* “I certainly wouldn’t vote to impeach on the basis of what I’ve seen so far,” says veteran Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a former executive director of the Republican National Committee. “I’m not going to rule it in or out.”
 
* “[John] Kasich told Don Lemon that he ‘did not see a clear quid pro quo’ but expressed his support for an investigation.”
 
My take: The whole world changes when the congressional recess ends. Scores of reporters will be peppering scores of Republican members of Congress about their views of impeachment. Every utterance that sounds more anti-Trump than Representative Jim Jordan is going to raise the stakes.
 
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“The government ran a budget deficit of just under $1 trillion in the just-closed fiscal year, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday. The $984 billion deficit tally for 2019 came in more than $200 billion more than last year’s, despite very low unemployment and continuing economic growth.” (Associated Press)
 
My take: There is no leading Democratic presidential candidate or Republican congressional leader in a position to do anything about the Trump administration’s runaway spending.  There is no discussion of entitlement program changes; no sign of robust enough economic activity to grow our way out of the deficit; no apparent appetite to put together a package of spending cuts and revenue increases to address this matter; and, perhaps most determinatively, no indication that the American public has the slightest interest in dealing with this.  The chances that Donald Trump signs into law any policies to seriously grapple with this problem, even if he is reelected, are about as close to zero as one can imagine.
 
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Top sports story: New York Yankees’ ALDS sweep shows they don’t have to bash to win
The Yankees win 5-1
ESPN 
 
Top business story: Southwest Airlines pilots sue Boeing over 737 Max grounding
CNBC
 
Top entertainment story: Oscars: Record 93 Countries Submit Entries for Best International Feature Film
Variety

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