Trump Lashes Out, Merkel Looks for Successor

German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17, 2017
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

An apt headline from Politico: Trump attacks everyone but Russia.

Since thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian entities were indicted on Friday for violating criminal laws to interfere in the 2016 election, the president has lashed out at CNN, the FBI, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee — everyone but the people who tampered with American democracy.

The New York Times reports that Trump’s “conspicuous silence” on Russia’s actions, and his acceptance of Vladimir Putin’s denial, has startled experts and leaves the country leaderless as it fends off more cyberattacks.

Both left-wing blogger Heather Digby Parton and conservative author Max Boot can think of only two ways to explain Trump’s behavior:

  1. The best-case scenario: The president was an unwitting dupe and is actively covering up the scandal to assuage his fragile ego.
  2. The worst-case scenario: He conspired with a foreign power to win the election.

If there is a third option, I’d love to hear it. Read more

What We Know About the Midterm Elections in the United States

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013 (Jeffrey Zeldman)

The map is biased against Democrats, but don’t overestimate the Republican turnout advantage. It wouldn’t take that much for a Democratic wave to turn into a tsunami. White women and college graduates are likely to decide the outcome.

Here is what we know about the upcoming congressional elections in the United States. Read more

Lies and Distraction from Trump, Putin’s Dangerous War in Syria

American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017
American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

First the lies:

Just like they don’t want to solve the DACA problem, why didn’t the Democrats pass gun control legislation when they had both the House & Senate during the Obama Administration. Because they didn’t want to, and now they just talk!

  1. It’s the president who unilaterally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last year and who is now blocking a compromise. Democrats and center-right Republicans are ready to do a deal.
  2. Democrats tried to get tougher guns laws under Barack Obama. They were frustrated at every turn by Republicans, who turned the filibuster into standard operating procedure in the Senate, as a result of which it now takes sixty votes to get anything of consequence done. When Democrats could briefly muster sixty votes in the early years of Obama’s presidency, they used that opportunity to reform health care. Read more

Trump Rejects Immigration Compromise, Mueller Indicts Russians

Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Andrzej Duda of Poland deliver a news conference in Warsaw, July 6, 2017
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Andrzej Duda of Poland deliver a news conference in Warsaw, July 6, 2017 (KPRP/Krzysztof Sitkowski)

American president Donald Trump has for the second time torpedoed a bipartisan immigration bill by threatening to veto it.

The reason, NBC News reports, is that he wants to keep immigration as a political issue to rally his base going into November’s congressional elections.

The cynicism is astounding. Chris Hayes points out on Twitter:

  • First the president unilaterally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, creating uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as minors.
  • He gave Congress six months to fix the problem (he had created), promising to sign whatever bill lawmakers would put in front of him.
  • He was promptly brought a bipartisan deal, which combined increased border security with a pathway to legal status for the so-called Dreamers. He rejected it.
  • He was then brought a second bipartisan deal with even more support. He rejected that.

Clearly the president isn’t interested a solution. He lied — as usual.

Also read David A. Hopkins, who argues Trump has pushed Republicans to the right on immigration, and Greg Sargent in The Washington Post, who points out that the Republican position on Dreamers is far to the right of Middle America’s. Read more

How Is the Liberal World Order Holding Up?

German chancellor Angela Merkel gestures at American president Donald Trump during the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 8, 2017
German chancellor Angela Merkel gestures at American president Donald Trump during the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 8, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

Donald Trump’s election caused many foreign-policy hands to worry that America could abandon its stewardship of the liberal world order: that constellation of alliances and institutions that has promoted peace and prosperity since World War II.

One year into Trump’s presidency, the results are mixed.

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, four experts reflect on the state of the world. Their consensus: The world America built has by no means disappeared, but there is no time for complacency. Read more

EU Balkan Enlargement Is Hardly Too Slow. It May Be Too Fast

Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner for enlargement negotiations, gives a speech in the Montenegrin parliament in Podgorica, February 9
Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner for enlargement negotiations, gives a speech in the Montenegrin parliament in Podgorica, February 9 (European Commission)

Central and Eastern European countries want to speed up the EU accession of Western Balkans.

Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov warned this week, “If there’s no enlargement now, there’ll be no other time for enlargement… Otherwise what China, Russia, Turkey are planning for the region, they will start today.”

Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó agreed, calling the 2025 target date set by the European Commission for the accession of Montenegro and Serbia “very late”.

In fact, it is extremely ambitious, as an analysis by former Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt for the European Council on Foreign Relations makes clear. Read more

Corbyn’s Spy Career, Catalan Language War

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn meets with in Highbury, North London, January 8
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn meets with in Highbury, North London, January 8 (Catholic Church England and Wales)

The Sun reports that, as a freshman parliamentarian, Jeremy Corbyn was targeted for recruitment by the Czech secret police in 1986 and met at least three times with an intelligence officer posing as a diplomat.

Corbyn says he never knowingly consorted with an East Bloc agent, but John Schindler, an intelligence expert, points out that only one year before the Labour politician was approached, Britain had expelled 25 Soviet “diplomats” who were really KGB officers “and the high-profile case got nonstop coverage in the British media.”

For Corbyn not to have considered the possibility he might be meeting with a spy would have been incredibly naive.

Moreover, Czech human rights abuses under communism were well-known even at the time. What was Corbyn thinking?

Corbyn, I’m sure, will argue it’s important to hear both sides. That’s what he said when he was asked to defend inviting Hamas and Hezbollah representatives to London in 2009. Except he never invited or met with Israeli representatives, just as he didn’t seek meetings with American officials during the Cold War.

Corbyn has a long history of instinctively siding with enemies of his country and the West, from Irish republican terrorists to Fidel Castro to Hugo Chávez to Muammar Gaddafi. Michael J. Totten wrote a good overview in The Atlantic last year. That’s what makes the Czech spy story, despite coming from the notoriously sensationalist The Sun, so believable. Read more