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Sunday, May 19, 2019

From the volume of bellicose rhetoric in China's state media, you might think Beijing is digging in for a bloody fight to the finish in its trade conflict with the United States. But after the US administration this month jacked up import tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 per cent, and threatened equal tariffs on another US$340 billion, the Chinese government faces a huge problem. The policy responses it is considering are all either impossible, impractical, ineffective or expensive. This leaves Beijing with difficult and limited options.

Hit by a hike in US tariffs China could:

1) respond with equal tariffs (impossible given the trade imbalance);

2) dump US Treasury bonds (ineffective and impractical since China only holds 5% of all treasuries);

3) let the yuan weaken (expensive and devastating to their economy); or

4) give in to Trump and lose face (for Xi, unthinkable).

With no good options, China is not in an enviable position at all.


Democratic leaders in Congress proved the perils of "jumping the shark" this month, which phrase, as most people know, defines instances of desperation. With the many overhyped political moments of the last two years, it is not clear when the partisan shark jump occurred. Soon after the Mueller's appointment, legal "experts" and commentators on air began confidently declaring the crimes of Trump campaign "collusion" were obvious and established, with a finding of criminality as a virtual given.

Yet, Mueller then stated that his investigation did not find that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government. The Russia investigation without criminal Russia collusion was like Geraldo Rivera opening the safe of Al Capone only to find empty bottles.

Democratic members of Congress continue to assure Americans that Trump is guilty of impeachable offenses and that they want to open an inquiry, but without impeachment, Democrats do not even have a shark to jump.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

House Democrats are backing away from plans to hold a blockbuster hearing this month with Robert Mueller after talks stalled out with the special counsel and his representatives. read more


Humorist Fran Lebowitz apologized late Friday after telling Bill Maher on "Real Time" that President Trump "deserves" the same treatment that journalist Jamal Khashoggi received at the hands of the Saudi government -- who are widely believed responsible for the Washington Post columnist's 2018 murder and dismemberment.

Twitter lit up almost immediately after Lebowitz's comments, which began with a riff on how she believes Trump should be impeached for the actions detailed in the Mueller report. "Certainly, he deserves to be impeached. I mean, impeachment is just the beginning of what he deserves. Not even scratching the surface of what he deserves," Lebowitz told Maher. "Whenever I think about this and what he really deserves, I think, ‘We should turn him over to the Saudis, you know, his buddies. The same Saudis who got rid of that reporter, you know. Maybe they can do the same for him.'" read more


Zimbabwe's collapse under Robert Mugabe. The fall of the Soviet Union. Cuba's disastrous unraveling in the 1990s. The crumbling of Venezuela's economy has now outpaced them all. Venezuela's fall is the single largest economic collapse outside of war in at least 45 years, economists say. read more


Comments

This is an OpEd from Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University who was one of three Democratic experts that were called by Chairman Nadler to testify on executive privilege and the legality of releasing redactions and other legal issues when Mueller didn't show last week. Here is what he had to say about that:

Democrats had called for Mueller to appear before them on Wednesday. Mueller did not show, despite Barr showing a willingness to have him testify. Instead, the committee called for a hearing with constitutional experts to discuss the executive privilege claims raised by the White House. I was one of those experts, and the hearing did not exactly turn out as the Democrats planned. They have insisted that President Trump had already waived privilege to undisclosed evidence shown to Mueller. The committee witnesses, however, agreed that there is no such waiver.

Worse, the witnesses agreed that Barr could not release the "full and unredacted report" to Congress including any grand jury, or Rule 6(e), evidence. That is in direct contradiction to weeks of demands for the unredacted report along with a subpoena that demanded disclosure of the entire report. The committee maintained that "neither Rule 6(e) nor any applicable privilege barred disclosure of these materials to Congress." Yet, the expert witnesses it called on have now testified that is not true.

As I noted to the committee, the subpoena, which is the very basis for the earlier contempt vote, was demanding an unlawful act from Barr, and the committee then held him in contempt for not committing that unlawful act. The key to setting up someone for contempt of Congress is to draft a subpoena that he might actually be able to legally fulfill. Notably, despite all of the punditry and cable news coverage of it, the contempt citation has not yet been submitted to the full House for a vote, let alone to a court for review. That is probably not because the contempt case is too strong.

The House committee also had problems with its demand for the other redacted material. I noted to the committee that roughly 2 percent of the redacted material was grand jury material barred under Rule 6(e). That leaves 6 percent, to which Congress, but not the public, has access now. However, most of that material was redacted as part of ongoing litigation and investigations. Indeed, the judges handling cases like those of Trump associate Roger Stone or resigned national security adviser Michael Flynn have imposed court orders. Barr could not simply release that material as demanded by Congress, and no witness disagreed during the hearing.

That would cover virtually all of the redactions that Democrats spent a week highlighting as the primary issue in their minds.

When someone like Professor Turley is calling the Democrats out for not starting impeachment proceedings, you know that there is something seriously wrong with the Democrats so called "plan."

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