Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has just won a major victory “after his gamble to call a snap election on Sunday (Oct 22) paid off handsomely. The LDP-led coalition is on track to secure a two-thirds “super majority” in the powerful Lower House of parliament, The Strait Times (Singapore) reports. Only three months ago, Abe was reeling from two corruption scandals and given up as political road kill.
Abe’s hunch was that his opposition would be too divided to effectively oppose him — a gamble that proved correct. But the real boost to his victory came from an unexpected source — North Korean Kim Jong-un’s threats. By sending a missile over Japan and threatening Japan with total destruction, Japanese voters decided they’d better stick with the strong-on-defense incumbent and his governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) than vote for the pacifist-heavy opposition. Abe will now have the mandate the two-thirds vote in the legislature to modify Japan’s constitution, whose anti-military provisions have been thwarting a defense build-up.
However, one of the opposition parties, Kibo no To (Party of Hope), led by Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, has been calling for reforms — deregulation, privatization, and reduced government spending — which are badly needed but which Abe and the LDP have stalled in implementing.
Europe’s independence and autonomy movements received reinforcement yesterday from North Italy’s autonomy votes. The non-binding referenda took place in Italy’s two wealthiest regions, Lombardy and the Veneto. They were legal and will be used for autonomy negotiations with the central government in Rome. Several other Italian regions have already been granted some autonomy.
The European Union’s excessively centralizing policies have already led to the U.K.’s departure, “Brexit.”
The U.S. was conceived as a federal not national state. A number of so-far unsuccessful Republican plans to reform Obamacare feature the transfer of health care back to the states. Although unsuccessful to date, these reform efforts have both the Constitution and common sense to recommend them. Regional health costs, availability of doctors, and income and health levels differ significantly from state to state.
Another damaging inheritance from the previous administration, former ambassador and State Department undersecretary John Bolton writes, is that “Thanks to Obama, America is two steps behind Iran,” which has a two-pronged plan to establish Mideast hegemony. “The battles for Raqqa and Kirkuk reveal much about the mistakes in U.S. strategy for defeating ISIS, and the consequences of not supporting Iraqi Kurdish efforts to establish an independent state.” [hat tip: Nicomachus]
On the U.S. policy mistake of abandoning the Kurds, see also this earlier Founders Broadsheet.
Secretary of State Tillerson is now pressing “Saudi Arabia to counter Iran’s influence in Iraq by deepening ties with Baghdad as Iraq looks to rebuild itself after a three-year war against Islamic State,” today’s Wall Street Journal reports. That’s fine, but it won’t help the Kurds.
Democratic hopes increase
Republicans are beginning to worry — and Democratic hopes increase — at news that “historic number of well-funded candidates have flooded Republican House districts ahead of 2018,” Politico writes. “Democratic candidates are reporting historic early fundraising totals.”
Not only are the Democrats out-fundraising the Republicans, but it’s likely that Republican campaign funds will be drained by incumbent primary races against challengers fielded by Steve Bannon.
The Democrats are also hoping to turn around their embarrassment from the Weinstein sex scandals by bringing forward women with sexual harassment complaints against President Trump.