Alabama election aftermath
The centrist “Republican establishment” fears a wave of primary challenges to incumbents following conservative firebrand Ray Moore’s decisive 55% to 45% victory over Senator Luther Strange in Alabama’s Republican primary runoff election yesterday. Moderate Senator Bob Corker, faced with the likelihood of similar challenges in his home state of Tennessee, announced yesterday that he would not run for reelection.
Democrats notched one small victory — the flipping of a Florida state senate seat from Republican to Democratic in a Miami special election also yesterday.
U.S. opposition to popular sovereignty abroad
Senator Corker is the chairman of the important Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and from that post declared his opposition to the Kurdish independence vote. Despite the Kurds being the key U.S. ally in the region, Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis also opposed the referendum.
President Trump has denounced Catalonia’s independence bid, overruling an earlier State Department statement that the scheduled Catalan referendum was an “an internal matter” in which the U.S. took no position.
The U.S. continues to support the over-centralized constitution that it helped impose on Afghanistan, despite that country’s decentralized history and the fact that resentment against centralization is assisting Taliban recruitment.
The U.S. similarly imposed a centralizing constitution on Iraq, despite strong sentiment by Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds to form separate governments right after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. U.S. proconsul to Iraq, Paul Bremer, prevented this coming to a vote.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush opposed Ukraine independence from the collapsing Soviet Union in his notorious “chicken Kiev” speech.
New refugee policy, Jones Act preserved for Puerto Rico
President Trump has cut the Obama administration’s refugee admissions by half, and now more Christians are being admitted than Moslems.
The one complaint against the Trump administration’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico that could gain traction is the administration’s refusal to lift the Jones Act to speed relief to the hurricane-battered island. The protectionist Jones Act is notorious for making the cost-of-living high in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Hawaii.
Russia meddling in U.S. politics
There’s now no question Russia has been deliberately fostering partisan divisions in the U.S. The media are divided, so too the politicians, and the FBI is stonewalling a House Intelligence Committee request for documents on the Trump Russia dossier.
Real Clear Investigations has just published an expose on Glenn Simpson, whose Fusion GPS opposition research firm produced the dossier that led the FBI to investigate alleged Russian-Trump campaign collaboration. (*)
The ensuing probes by Special Consul Robert Mueller have burdened the Trump associates being investigated with huge legal bills.
Disinformation campaigns are a professional specialty of the Russian secret services, of which President Putin is a veteran. Russia’s manipulation of the U.S. population via Facebook ads is now well known.
Within Russia itself, the corruption of Russian police and security services is a barely hid scandal. A Russian cannibal couple who lured to their death possibly thirty citizens and feasted on their remains went undetected by police for years, and the perpetrator of a hit-and-run killing of a traffic policeman was spirited off from the crime scene in a Federal Security Service (FSB) car — license plates removed.
China – another manipulator
China also has government institutions whose mandate is to shape policy abroad in China’s interest. This has become a public issue in Australia and New Zealand.
In the U.S., the issue foremost for the administration and the public is China’s mercantilist policies. Foreign Policy magazine argues that the Trump administration’s two best weapons to counter China’s snookering of the U.S. is to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and practice strict reciprocity — you don’t get this here if you don’t give us that there. The U.S. should also stop subordinating trade issues to security matters.
No to controversial bad art, yes to everything else
Protesters have succeeded in forcing the Guggenheim Museum in New York City to remove three controversial art works from China that used animals to make their point. Neither the protesters nor the press have addressed the question of whether the rest of the exhibit is of any artistic value or is just a collection of post-modernistic junk.
* Hat tip: Eaglebeak