Tag Archives: Trump

No News is No News

Just watched the 20 minute Chrystia Freeland “news” conference.

Apparently she’s promised “not to negotiate in public” which means she is unwilling to address any substantive questions at all.

This week’s talks have ended but they will be back at it Wednesday of next week.

Just one problem, which Freeland, of course, dodged, Trump has basically said that he is not moving on any of the key points and that he’d be just as happy to drop a 25% tariff on Canadian made cars. Kinda tough to negotiate around that.

Which means that, after a week of “intense” negotiations Freeland is going back to Canada with nothing except the fact that The Donald is planning on taking his bilateral agreement with Mexico and notifying Congress that it will be signed 90 days from now.

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Here’s Hoping

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Sundance is a remarkably well informed American commentator who pays attention to trade. The above is not confirmed but if that turns out to be the Canadian position the politics will be fascinating.

A complete capitulation to Trump would make Trudeau look like the wimp most of us already think he is. It would also give us a chance to catch the tailwind of the current American economic boom.

It would, I suspect, cause the left in Canada to implode simply because it would suggest that their hero Justin takes business more seriously than posturing. And when you give up posturing what does the left have left?

As Trump would say, “We’ll see what happens,” but real Canadian patriots have to hope that common sense prevailed and that we are on the road to genuine free trade with our friends to the south.

[Note seeing much action on the CDN/USD front. If the above is true I would expect a fairly sharp rise in the value of the Canadian dollar.]

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So, Justin, nice little country you got there….

Trump, Trudeau, trade, Mexico“Canada will start negotiations shortly. I’ll be calling the Prime Minister very soon. And we’ll start negotiation, and if they’d like to negotiate fairly, we’ll do that. You know, they have tariffs of almost 300 percent on some of our dairy products, and we can’t have that. We’re not going to stand for that.

I think with Canada, frankly, the easiest thing we can do is to tariff their cars coming in. It’s a tremendous amount of money and it’s a very simple negotiation. It could end in one day and we take in a lot of money the following day.” President Trump in phone call with President of Mexico announcing bilateral trade deal

The orange bully, poopy head is being mean to our mighty Prime Minister and his trade negotiators. Basically the US, having been insulted by our PM and getting thoroughly fed up with the gender equality/climate change/social justice pretensions of the Great White North, cut a deal with the Mexicans. Sunset clause and all.

Now, Trump may call Justin – assuming Justin is in the office – and he may be willing to do a bilateral trade deal, but there is no particular reason the US needs a deal. And they certainly don’t need one with big dairy tariffs and gender equality.

See the big stick? Yup, auto tariffs. Which is to say the end of Ontario’s economy.

Now, our brilliant Prime Minister and his advisers are pretty convinced that the path to their next majority lies in running against Trump. Because Canadians hate Trump and they line up to demonstrate their patriotism by supporting Justin when he stands up to the orange ogre.

Here’s the thing: Trump and his people don’t care.

Justin’s tough guy stance has reduced Canada to the status of ankle biter among nations. We used to box above our weight internationally – or at least we told ourselves we did. Trump is a realist. He doesn’t need Canada. And he certainly doesn’t need a dim, virtue signalling Canadian Prime Minister to tell him about climate change and indigenous people.

So, realistically, it may be a while before the Prime Ministerial phone rings.

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Memo II

Pretty much as expected the Nunes memo exposed the fact that the FBI/DOJ sought FISA warrants on the basis of a dossier which they knew was the product of people retained by the Clinton campaign. And, apparently, they failed to disclose the dossier’s origins to the FISA Court.

There is a lot of partisan back and forth about the appropriateness of the memo and whether it is factually correct and if it discloses all the facts; but none of that matters. The simple, non-partisan and non-disputed pith of the thing is that the FBI/DOJ used unvetted evidence from a questionable source to obtain the Court’s permission to spy on an American citizen.

As I said in my earlier post, this memo is the beginning of a process. It opens the door for further and deeper investigation. While it should lead to the appointment of special counsel to look at actual crimes – fraud upon the Court is an actual crime – I doubt the memo, in itself, will be enough. The Democrats and the mainstream media are going to fight every step of the way because they know that once a special counsel is appointed it is only a matter of time before the misconduct of the FBI/DOJ with respect to the Clinton email server and the Clinton Foundation comes to light. And they also know that the behaviour of the Obama White House with respect to the unmasking of American persons (for no good national security reason) will be scrutinized. And the behavior of the DOJ with respect to the Clinton server and the IRS investigations. And so on. The term “can of worms” barely begins to cover what will occupy much of political Washington over the next couple of years.

It is too early to tell if the assertions in the Nunes memo as to the misconduct of the FBI/DOJ before the FISA Court will affect the Mueller investigation. I have no doubt that lawyers for Flynn, Manafort and Gates will be suggesting that the evidence against their clients is tainted by this misconduct; but that is a long bow to draw on today’s disclosures. A position which may change as more information surfaces.

As usual, the big winner in today’s revelations is Donald Trump. He said he’d been wire tapped and was laughed at. The memo does not say Trump was wiretapped, but it does suggest that the FBI/DOJ was not above using phoney documents to surveil a minor member of Trump’s campaign team. Which, in its turn, suggests that Trump claiming to have been wiretapped is not such a crazy, outlandish thing to say.

Tick tock.

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Interests

“No nation has friends only interests.” (Charles de Gaulle)

As I write the estimable Nikki Haley (2024…you go girl) tweeted to the assorted thugs who are ambassadors to the UN,

“At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”

Oh my…

Here’s a suggestion to the ethically challenged (and frankly, what a crock) Prime Minister of all the Canadas…Pay attention.

Canada has no skin in the game as to the location of the US Embassy to Israel. And we have no reason to believe that the capital of Israel is anywhere other than Jerusalem. While we are certainly “Yah, Peace.”, recognizing reality is a very important step to that peace.

But we have all manner of issues on the table with our American cousins. NAFTA, F-35s, border security, softwood lumber, pipelines.

From a Canada First perspective, who matters more? The US or a rag tag bunch of intransigent Palis and their European enablers?

Justin has the opportunity to end Trump’s isolation on the Jerusalem issue. We can vote with our American friends. We can announce that we are seriously looking at moving our Embassy.

The fact is that The Donald wants to be liked. He wants friends. He wants “respect”. We can take an issue which is literally of no consequence to Canada’s interests and run up points in Trumpland.

The Donald is a guy who remembers his friends.

Canada needs to be a friend.

It is in our interest.

 

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The Mighty Flynn

Ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is pleading guilty to a single count of misleading the FBI about conversations which he legally had with the Russian Ambassador to the US.

As various people have pointed out, the take away from this is never to talk to the FBI. Ever. No matter what.

Andy McCarthy and David French have excellent analysis over at the National Review.

There is much speculation about what Flynn will testify to and why all he was charged with is a rather bogus process crime. The more you hate Trump the more you are inclined to see this guilty plea as the modern equivalent of jailing Al Capone for tax evasion. But there was a reason Capone went to the Big House for tax; the prosecutors could not get him for anything else.

As French and McCarthy point out, there is nothing illegal about the National Security Director-designate having discussions with Russians nor is there anything illegal about directing him to have such discussions. It is, in fact, what reasonable people expect National Security Director designates to do as the new Administration is formed.

What it is not is any evidence of collusion with the Russians with respect to the actual election – which is what Mueller is supposed to be investigating.

Added to today’s excitement was the very real possibility that Jared Kushner asked/told Flynn to make the call to the Russians to try and postpone a vote on an Israeli matter. Oh Dear. The horror. The Trump son ion law asks/tells the National Security Adviser designate to reach out to the Russians on a matter of policy. To make a perfectly legal call with a perfectly legal request. Yikes.

Let’s hope Jared either a) didn’t speak to the FBI, b) was smart enough, to tell the truth if he did.

This is all pretty low-level stuff. And if it is the best Mueller can come up with it is well past time for him to wrap up his investigation because it is increasingly obvious that there has been no actual crime committed.

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No there there

The mighty Mueller and his gunsels have rooted and dug and investigated and produced indictments: for doubtful business dealings predating Manafort’s involvement with the Trump campaign.

The dummy brigade is going nuts with our own Warren “Lying Jackal” Kinsella announcing, “And there can be no doubt, now, that Trump’s campaign was effectively run out of the Kremlin.”

As there is nothing at all in the indictment of Manafort and Gates which relates to the Trump campaign Warren and his ilk are forced to rely on the boiler plate “Conspiracy Against the United States of America”. As it is this “United States of America” which is proffering the charges and this same entity in its guise of the Department of Justice and Department of the Treasury whom Manafort is alleged to have defrauded, it is difficult to imagine how else Mueller would have framed the charges.

But, dummy chorus aside, is there anything in the indictment which puts the finger on Trump? On a quick reading I would say there isn’t. It may not have been the smartest thing in the world to hire a guy with Manafort’s connections to doubtful dictators and assorted oligarchs; but against that is balanced the fact that as Trump became aware of those links he first demoted and then fired Manafort.

Maybe these charges are part of a clever leverage scheme to get Manafort, facing an eternity in Federal Prison and the forfeiture of any assets the Feds can trace, to sing. Right out of G-man 101. That is, at best, a maybe. The fact the charges were brought at all suggests that whatever Manafort knew was not enough to avoid liability for his alleged sins. He has, after all, been interviewed by the Special Prosecutors’ office on several occasions and that would have been the time to cut a deal. That these charges have been proffered suggests no deal was done. Now there is, of course, still time for “all of this to go away” if Manafort has something interesting on Trump. But why would he have held it back? I doubt he thought Mueller was just joking around in those earlier meetings.

All of which leads me to suspect that Manafort does not, in fact, have “it” where “it” is the smoking gun of Trump/Russia collusion. And I also suspect that Manafort has a pretty good defence worked out. (And he may be backstopped by the promise of a pardon but I would doubt it; no reason for Trump to pardon a guy on stuff he did a decade ago unless that guy had the real, live, smoking gun.)

Trump, correctly in my view, is taking the position that nothing in the Manafort/Gates indictment has anything to do with Trump or his campaign.Which leaves the partisan ankle biters at CNN with nothing much more than the guilty plea of a campaign volunteer named Papadopoulos. What was he guilty of? Lying to the FBI regarding dates upon which he, apparently on his own initiative,  had conversations with various Russians. Not a great moment for the Trump world but also a very long way from proving collusion. And, with the guilty plea in place, assuming that Papadopoulos had anything to tell, chances are pretty good he’s told it.

Mueller has been on the job for months. He has a team of prosecutors and agents who have looked at every element of the Trump campaign. They have come up with some pretty routine alleged tax evasion and a guy lying to the FBI about the dates of meetings and conversations with Russians. Is Mueller saving “the good stuff” for Christmas? Is he hoping that Trump will suddenly begin to conspire to “cover up” and render himself vunerable? Hard to say but, at a guess, this wimpy set of charges about business activities predating Manafort’s involvement with the Trump campaign are pretty much the best Mueller has. That could change, but he will have to do much better than this to provide impeachment ammunition. Much better.

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Political Junkie 2fer

I’ll write a bit about Comey below but, realistically, the only major stories seem to me to be a) that Comey leaked to the NYT, b) that Loretta Lynch directly interfered in an ongoing FBI investigation for political purposes. The Russia Trump collusion story is dead and the “hope” = order view of obstruction of justice is on life support and failing fast.

Meanwhile, the exits from the UK from Order-Order.com (the comments range from hilarious to hysterical.)

Tories – 314 (-17)

Labour – 266 (+34)

SNP – 34 (-22)

Lib Dems 14 (+6)

Plaid – 3

Green – 1

UKIP – 0

If those hold May does not have a majority. A Lab/SNP/Lib Dem coalition could govern with periodic support from the tiny parties.

Early days but this was not what the polls or the betting markets were predicting.

Update: I suspect this is going to be a long night for the Brits. Having an eight hour time advantage means I can go to bed knowing who won. If any one won.

Imagine the joy of these words: Prime Minister Corbyn…Oh shit.

Meanwhile the pound is down against the dollar and euro but not by a lot, a couple of cents.

Update #2: About the only thing obvious in the UK election is that UKIP appears to be collapsing. Which makes a lot of sense with Brexit in train. It will be a while before any other trend will be detected.

Thinking about Comey I get the sense that Trump, while not out of the woods, had a good day. While Comey called him a liar a few times – mainly about opinions rather than facts – he also said that he did indeed tell Trump he was not the subject of an investigation three times.

For the anti-Trumpists the collapse of the “Russians and Trump collaborated to defeat the sainted Hilly” story is going to be sad. They will keep hope alive with the “Trump fired Comey because Comey would not back off Flynn” story alive for a while but that is pretty thin gruel for an impeachment story, especially as Trump apparently encouraged Comey to look into the activities of his “satellites”.

Politically the loonier Democrats will try to keep the story and the investigations alive; but the danger to the Democrats lies in the fact those investigations are slowly turning to the behaviour of the Obama White House. Unmasking for political purposes is an actual, serious, crime. Telling the Director of the FBI to refer to the “Clinton matter” rather than the “Clinton investigation” is not obstruction in itself, but it illustrates how far Lynch was prepared to go to protect Hilly. I suspect even the loonier wing of the Congressional Democrats will be happy to let the entire thing die when summer recess rolls around.

Update #3: Time for a G&T. The constituencies reporting are all pretty safe Labour or Tory enclaves and 22 to 10 is not unexpected given the seats reporting. The collapse of the UKIP vote puts a lot of Northern and Midlands Leave ridings into play. right now it looks like Labour has a slight edge in picking up that vote. We’ll see.

I have to bet that absent a majority May is gone in a week. But the really interesting question is whether Corbyn will be able to hold on given that the Parliamentary Labour Party thinks he’s a loonie.

Update #4: Again, it is fairly early but Labour seems to be holding a 4-5% margin in the popular vote. Over at Guido’s the comments are even nastier than usual about May’s failings. Apparently, she simply did not connect with the British electorate. Which I can believe given how Boris Johnston was trotted out in the dying days of the campaign having been under wraps for the first month and a half. Now it could all switch over in the next couple of hours; but this election was called when May had a 20-25% advantage in the polls. It is a rare politician who can turn that sort of a lead into a squeaker. And it is not as if Corbyn suddenly became any saner. Nope, if the Conservatives lose or lose their majority Mrs. May needs to be gone by the weekend.

Update #5: Votes are coming in from the South and while Labour holds a 15 seat edge its lead in the popular vote has dropped to 2%.  In other news, odds on Boris Johnston becoming leader of the Tory party which had been 60:1 this morning are now at 5:1. Still 400 seats to go and a lot of those are in the south and the rural bits of England. But now Labout is 20 seats ahead.

Update #6: 492 seats declared. Lab 218, Cons 219, popular vote tied.  This is going to take a while. What is evident though is that Labour is picking up seats and May isn’t. (Although there are Tories in Scotland for the first time in years.) Regardless of how the night turns out I can’t imagine May retaining the leadership.

Update #7: 303 for the Conservatives, 42 to 40 in the popular vote. Does not look as though May will get a majority. She says she’ll stay.

The night was very reminiscent of Brexit where it took several hours for the Leave vote to roll in. The home counties came through. But what Parliament looks like when the dust clears is complicated. Annoyingly, the Lib Dems increased their seat count, though the awful Nick Clegg managed to lose to my great delight. This may have been a “change” election in disguise.

Corbyn looks safer in his seat than May does in hers. He ran his campaign his way and picked up 28 seats. He will have a rather good argument to take back to his caucus. He increased Labour’s share of the popular vote by 9%. The Parliamentary party may not like him but I can’t see him going anywhere soon.

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Trump and Paris

Should be starting now: Trump can either dump Paris and stick with serious science and economics or he can fudge. I am hoping he’ll dump but I expect a fudge.

Update: Either way Trump is keeping us waiting…12:09.  According to You-tube there are 51,418 people watching this stream. 12:20, 62k and change. Trump is keeping us on the edge of our seats.  !2:27…on a different feed Steve Bannon looks very happy.

Update #2: Pence let the cat out of the bag but what colour is the cat? LOL, Trump is trolling hard. You want to hear about Paris? You have to listen to the commercial messages about how great Trump’s administration has been. “Fair and reciprocal trade.”

Update #3: Keeping my campaign promises. The United States will withdraw!!!

Update #4: But we’ll renegotiate a new deal….getting out but start to negotiate.

So Trump is basically treating Paris as a trade deal that the US was screwed on. He is not going after the science. Just the trade and economics. Kills “Green Climate Fund”. Could cost 2.7 million lost jobs.

Update #5: Goes after the Green Fund. Points out the rest of the world is not contributing. Blames Obama for taking money from anti-terror for Green Fund. Says no one knows where the money is going. Points to US debt.

Update #6: Reassertion of America’s sovereignty.

Update the Last:  And he is done. If Trump accomplishes nothing other than the Gorsuch appointment and pulling out of Paris he will be a grand President.

At a guess, after the media has gone crazy, the effect of today’s announcement will be to collapse the crazier end of the Greenie cult. Other countries will walk away from the agreement. The science will be scruitinized. The 97% consensus lie will be exposed and, with luck, “climate change” will be looked at carefully, with a mind to the inherent uncertainties of the science and the cost/benefits of action in the face of those uncertainties.

A great day for America and the beginning of the end for the hysterical, expensive, group think which climate change has occasioned.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bully! A Splendid Little War

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So The Donald has sent in the cruise missiles in response to the Syrian sarin gas assault on its own people.

Sending 59 cruise missiles with conventional warheads and then sitting down to dinner with the Chinese President pretty much establishes Trump as a “tough guy”. But will he be smart enough to leave it at that?

In a very real sense, Trump has redrawn the “red line” which Obama and Kerry allowed to fade to palest pink. Served notice that “there is a new Sheriff in town” to quote an awful lot of pro-Trump blogs. Which, I suspect, most international players had already noticed.

The question is whether Trump is able to enjoy an American casualty free battle and move on to the next thing on his agenda. Obama demonstrated in Libya that regime change may, or may not, be for the better. Generally, it seems to be a bad idea in the Middle East simply because the next regime may be worse than the one you “changed”. During the campaign, Trump seemed to get that. Does he now?

Assad needs to go. Murderous barbarian and all. However, he needs to go when there is some idea of a better thing to replace him. That might be a new regime or it might be the carve up of both Syria and Iraq and the end of the Sykes-Picot travesty which has haunted the Middle East for nearly a hundred years.

Regime change could be accomplished with a lot of money, a few Russian Spetsnaz and a dozen bullets. But what then?

Unwinding Sykes-Picot is a much larger and, strategically, more intelligent enterprise. Defeat ISIS and then carve out the Sunni, Kurd and Shia enclaves being sensitive to the worries of the Turks and the position of the minorities. That is the work of a negotiator and a statesman. And it is something which will involve Putin as well as Trump. No bad thing that.

Right at the moment, Russia is hanging on by a thread. Demographically, economically it is in huge trouble. For Putin to survive he needs to seem indispensable. Trump can give him that. Putin can give Trump essentially nothing. Other than his nukes and his special forces, he is the Tsar of a gradually dying nation and only massive help from America can really save him. Monkeys can climb a very long way up trees, it is the getting down part which is tricky.

Syria offers Putin the opportunity to act as and be seen as a statesman.  With Trump’s help, he can open the book on Sykes-Picot and facilitate the reformation of Syria and Iraq into a loose confederation of ethnically and religiously homogenous statelets. Between the Americans and the Russians, all of the factions can be brought to the table and, with luck, disarmed and sent on their way. None of the resulting states will be heard of again for generations.

Trump has played the first card of a strategy which will likely take a few years to play out. By being willing to punish actions which are against all agreed-upon international norms Trump makes it clear that hard power is a real thing for America again.

Trump knew the world was watching and he gave them a show. Now we’ll see what he does with the attention.

 

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