Gingrich predicts a lot of global conflict over trade

Newt Gingrich, who works closely with Donald Trump, suggests a lot of conflict over Trump’s approach to international trade.

“I think if you apply a new standard, which is, is this good for the United States economy, as opposed to, is this good for some kind of global system, you’re going to be in a lot of conflict with a lot of countries.”

In some ways a global trade shake up may initiate some change for the better, but it also risks changes or the worse.

This comes down to trying to impose one sided trade conditions using one’s ‘enormous leverage’ versus conducting good bi-lateral trade relationships.

Taking a heavy handed bully approach may achieve some short term benefits for the US, but in the longer term it is likely to discourage trade with the US and encourage trade agreements and relationships between other countries.

And there could also be negative consequences in the US as well, financially for the country as well as politically for some.

“Trump is becoming a failed president”

Donald Trump has been struggling to score any significant policy wins, he gets bogged down with petty squabbles, and there seems to be growing disagreements and splits amongst the Republican Party.

I think it’s too soon to judge his presidency, a major policy win or a war could turn things around quite quickly, but in the absence of substance beyond his at times extreme rhetoric there is growing commentary about his failures, and speculation about his failure as a president.

Juan Williams: Trump is becoming a failed president

 

A Morning Consult poll released last week found Trump losing support in states he easily carried last year. He is down 23 points in Tennessee since his inauguration in January, down 21 points in Mississippi, down 20 in Kentucky, down 19 in Kansas and down 17 in Indiana.

Overall, 55 percent of the country disapproves of the job he is doing as president, according the most recent RealClearPolitics average. At the three-quarter mark of his first year in office, Trump is the least popular new president in history.

On Capitol Hill, House and Senate Republicans are also walking away from Trump.

In part, this is due to his attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Then there are the threats to incumbent Republicans from Stephen Bannon, formerly Trump’s chief strategist.

Bannon said last week he plans to challenge incumbent Republican senators in seven states, including Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Mississippi’s Roger Wicker, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, Nevada’s Dean Heller and Wyoming’s John Barrasso.

“Creating a civil war inside the Republican Party may feel good, but I think as a strategy, it is stunningly stupid,” former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said of Bannon’s plan.

That looks like team Trump in disarray.

One Republican who has always doubted Trump’s credentials (and has been attacked by Trump) is Senator John McCain.

McCain, in speech, denounces ‘spurious nationalism’

…his speech was one of warning, and seemed very much directed at the leadership approach of President Donald Trump and his supporters.

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

Trump has been having spats with various sports people. One respected coach has responded.

The Nation:  ‘A Soulless Coward’: Coach Gregg Popovich Responds to Trump

We’ve all seen the San Antonio Spurs’ future Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich in a state of exasperation on the sidelines, or in postgame news conferences. Many of us have also heard him speak with great vexation and clarity about the direction of this country and the actions of Donald Trump, particularly on Trump’s “disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.” But I have never heard this man more frustrated, more fed up, and more tense with anger than he was today.

Coach Pop called me up after hearing the president’s remarks explaining why he hadn’t mentioned the four US soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger. Trump said, “President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”

Maybe it was the bald-faced nature of this lie, maybe it was Pop’s own history in the military, but the coach clearly had to vent. He said, “I want to say something, and please just let me talk, and please make sure this is on the record.”

This is Popovich  on the record.

“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”

“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets.

“We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day.

“The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

I think that the last comment about those who work with the president is in part at least unfair. I think that some of those working with and for Trump have the interests of the country at heart and are trying their best to cover for the inadequacies and irrationality of Trump.

They are trying to control Trump and limit the damage he does – and especially, they will be aware of the damage trump could do if he runs amok with the US nuclear arsenal (I think they have about 9,000 nukes).

But outside the White House Trump remains unpopular, and there are growing concerns being expressed about his fitness to remain as president.

Unfortunately Trump has said a lot of stupid and unhelpful and unpresidential things, but he hasn’t done anything (that we know of) that is troubling enough to demand he steps down.

It’s possible Trump may get what is required of being president, but there is little sign of his current obnoxiousness and incompetence being turned around.

We – not just the US but the world – may have to wait until Trump does something bad enough to step him over the line, and others step in to put a stop to him.

That is if the US or the world is in a state to do anything then.

 

Scalise shooting – unity and recriminations

It is no surprise to see condemnation of the shooting of the republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise from across the political divide.

CNN: GOP House Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition

But there have already been political swipes.

Dan Balz: After the shootings, calls for unity amid recriminations and finger-pointing

In the charged environment of 2017, it took only a few hours for a baseball diamond to be transformed from a peaceful practice field to a horrific crime scene and then to a vivid symbol of the tensions between the angry politics of our time and the better angels of the American people.

From President Trump to congressional leaders of both parties to ordinary citizens came calls for prayers for the victims of the shootings in Alexandria, Va., praise for the Capitol Police officers who prevented an even worse tragedy and, above all, words of reconciliation and unity.

But barely on the edges of those remarks was another round of recriminations and a renewed debate about what has brought the country to a point of such division, what is to blame for what happened on that baseball field shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday and what, if anything, can be done to lower temperatures for more than a few minutes.

Large taps of anger can’t be just turned off, even after wake up calls as serious as the shooting of a politician.

The country has been in this place before, perhaps too many times after violence that has left Americans feeling shaken and insecure. At those times, elected officials have reached across the aisle, embracing one another in friendship and unity. Ordinary citizens have rallied behind those leaders as one nation, vowing to put aside partisanship and recalling what it means to be an American.

The 911 attacks united and galvanised the country, for a while.

Trump spoke as other presidents have done in times of tragedy or terrorism, saying, “We are strongest when we are unified and when we work for the common good.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) called on his colleagues to set an example. “Show the world we are one House, the people’s House, united in our humanity,” he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) implored her colleagues to make the Congressional Baseball Game an occasion “that will bring us together and not separate us further.”

But their are too many people in the US with their own entrenched agendas.

But with past as prologue, other voices and other emotions threatened to drown out the words of the nation’s leaders. Six years ago, after the shootings that left then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) badly wounded and six others dead, it was the political right that was on the defensive.

Those on the left charged that the incendiary rhetoric aimed at then-President Barack Obama and his supporters during his early years in office gave rise to a climate that made violence possible.

But the sides have changed.

On Wednesday, it was the political left that became a target from some on the right. The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson III, who was pronounced dead at a hospital after the shootout, was a longtime critic of the Republicans and a particularly harsh critic of the president. His Facebook page included angry and vulgar words aimed at Trump.

Some Republicans viewed the shootings as evidence that the president’s critics have crossed the line of decency in their opposition and fostered a climate that could produce what happened on Wednesday morning.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and a strong supporter of Trump:

Speaking at midday on Fox News Channel, decried what he called “an increasing hostility on the left,” whether from comedians, from artists, from politicians or from ordinary citizens posting their views on social media.

“You’ve had a series of things that send signals that tell people it’s okay to hate Trump,” he said. “And now we’re supposed to rise above it?”

Some major irony there as he justifiably condemns hostility from the left against Trump, but ignores Trump’s own record of hostility against opponents and critics, notably but not only directed against Hillary Clinton – and also Trump’s deliberate efforts to stir up hatred against Clinton and promoting some fairly extreme consequences.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whose many past statements have inflamed the debate about illegal immigration, was near the Capitol when the shootings took place.

Without referring to the shooter, he said critics of the president have created a climate of hate that threatens the country. He pointed to the massive demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere the day after Trump was inaugurated, and protests that have continued since.

Without referring to the shooter, he said critics of the president have created a climate of hate that threatens the country. He pointed to the massive demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere the day after Trump was inaugurated, and protests that have continued since.

“America has been divided, and the center of America is disappearing and the violence is appearing in the streets and it’s coming from the left,” he said.

Some of it is certainly coming from the left, but division and intolerance has also come from the right as well.

Just last week: Fearing for her life, Iowa Democrat abandons race to unseat GOP Rep. Steve King

The Democratic candidate running against anti-immigrant Republican Congressman Steve King (IA) announced Saturday that she is dropping out of the race for her own safety.

In a Facebook post published Saturday night, Kim Weaver wrote, “Over the last several weeks, I have been evaluating personal circumstances along with the political climate regarding this campaign. After much deliberation, I have determined that the best decision for me is to withdraw my candidacy for the US House race in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.”

She explained that beginning during her 2016 campaign, she has been receiving threats of physical violence and murder, and said that “recent events at my home” were forcing her to re-evaluate her decision to run against King.

“While some may say enduring threats are just a part of running for office, my personal safety has increasingly become a concern,” Weaver said.

King didn’t mention this when criticising hostility from the left.

Back to the Balz article:

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), whose district cuts across central Illinois to the Mississippi River just above Hodgkinson’s home town of Belleville, was on the baseball field when the shootings took place.

Davis condemned what he called “political, rhetorical terrorism” practiced by both sides. He appealed passionately for everyone to step back and find a better way to hash out and then resolve their differences.

“Is this America’s breaking point?” he asked on CNN. “It’s my breaking point. We’ve got to end this.”

But when it again becomes a blame game between left and right the end looks nowhere in sight.

Wednesday’s shootings can act as a temporary circuit breaker to some of the hostilities, and Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game can become an emotional and poignant coming together.

But will that be enough to prevent a swift return to the kind of debilitating political conflict that has become so accepted as the norm? History shows how difficult that could be.

Some of the reactions to yesterday’s shooting also show how difficult it could be.

 

Fox retracts Seth Rich story

Fox News and especially Sean Hannity have pushed a story about murdered Democrat staffer Seth Rich. Kim Dotcom has been given airtime by Hannity.

Salon: Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity keep Seth Rich conspiracies alive

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared on “Fox and Friends” on Sunday morning, only to use his platform to further promulgate the previously debunked conspiracy theory that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated because he was the source that provided Wikileaks with tens of thousands of hacked Democratic Party emails.

“We have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee, who apparently was assassinated at 4 in the morning, having given WikiLeaks something like 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments,” Gingrich told Fox News. “Nobody’s investigating that, and what does that tell you about what’s going on? Because it turns out, it wasn’t the Russians. It was this young guy who, I suspect, was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He’s been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigative his murder. So I’d like to see how [Robert S.] Mueller [III] is going to define what his assignment is.”

Gingrich didn’t just say it could be a possibility that Rich was the Wikileaks source or that the murder may be worth some sort of further investigation, he baselessly asserted that Rich was the source — on national television — and that it effectively negated any alleged Russian involvement.

But Gingrich isn’t even the only notable person peddling this theory, it’s also being peddled by Sean Hannity, and more recently Kim Dotcom, the internet entrepreneur who founded Megaupload.

Hannity who has increasingly gone on Trump-like twitter sprees over the recent months has not been able to contain himself from spreading this theory along with the hashtag #SethRich to his nearly 2.5 million followers.

Dotcom on the other hand, has has recently inserted himself into this situation, and claimed that he has irrefutable evidence that Rich was the Wikileaks source, and will be releasing some sort of statement on Tuesday, though it’s currently not clear what that will consist of.

Hannity has been busy on Twitter.

Fox has now retracted: Statement on coverage of Seth Rich murder investigation

On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.

We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.

Dotcom announced this week — seemingly out of nowhere — that he would release the information on his website Tuesday, but the supposed bombshell drop that many were desperately hoping for was quite anticlimactic.

“I KNOW THAT SETH RICH WAS INVOLVED IN THE DNC LEAK,” Dotcom — who is fighting extradition charges to the U.S. from New Zealand — wrote on his site.

I know this because in late 2014 a person contacted me about helping me to start a branch of the Internet Party in the United States. He called himself Panda. I now know that Panda was Seth Rich.

Panda advised me that he was working on voter analytics tools and other technologies that the Internet Party may find helpful.

I communicated with Panda on a number of topics including corruption and the influence of corporate money in politics.

“The Rich family has reached out to me to ask that I be sensitive to their loss in my public comments. That request is entirely reasonable,” he continued. “I have consulted with my lawyers. I accept that my full statement should be provided to the authorities and I am prepared to do that so that there can be a full investigation. My lawyers will speak with the authorities regarding the proper process.”

In reality, the Rich family thanked Fox News for retracting the story, according to CNN reporter Oliver Darcy.

US polls closing, Gringrich tetchy

The US presidential polls seem to be closing heading in to the last two weeks of the campaign, but Hillary Clinton appears to still hold an advantage over Donald Trump.

The RealClear Politics poll average has closed up to +4.4% for Clinton. Polls still vary widely:

rcppolls20161026

FiveThirtyEight also shows a gradual closing trend in expected result:

538polltrend20161026

Meanwhile Republican Speaker had a rancorous interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News, discussing the polls and sexual predators, and accuses Fox of being anti-Trump like the rest of the media.

Republicans “in a state of panic”

NZ Herald focusses on the apparent disarray and dismay in the Republican Party over the Donald Trump problem.

It’s an odd time to be panicking, two weeks after confirming Trump’s nomination.

Republicans in state of panic

Senior Republican figures were growing increasingly concerned about Trump’s behaviour following his criticism of the family of a dead Muslim American soldier and his refusal to back the re-election campaign of Paul Ryan, the House speaker.

Frustration at Trump’s divisive tactics and insulting comments reached new heights yesterday, with several extraordinary developments:

Intervention plot

Senior Republicans including GOP chairman Reince Priebus, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were reportedly considering an “intervention” meeting with Trump. They hoped to talk Trump into “a dramatic reset of his campaign”, NBC reported.

“A new level of panic hit the street,” Scott Reed, chief strategist for the US Chamber of Commerce, told the Washington Post. “It’s time for a serious reset.”

Gingrich, a Trump ally, said his friend currently stood no chance of beating Hillary Clinton in November. “The current race is which of these two is the more unacceptable, because right now neither of them is acceptable. “Trump is helping her to win by proving he is more unacceptable than she is.”

Reince Priebus, chairman of the GOP, was said to be “livid” over Trump’s behaviour.

A Plan B candidate?

There were reports that some Republicans were exploring what the process would be should Trump himself pull out of the race. ABC reported that if Trump pulled out before early September, it would be up to the 168 members of the Republican National Committee to choose a successor.

Changing candidates now would probably be no less disastrous. Howe gas the ‘Grand Old Party’ got itself into this dire situation?

Trump was remorseless yesterday, taking to Twitter to state: “There is great unity in my campaign, perhaps greater than ever before. I want to thank everyone for your tremendous support. Beat Crooked H!”

Manafort also attempted to give the impression that there was no panic within the Trump camp, telling Fox News: “The candidate is in control of his campaign and I’m in control of doing the things that he wants me to do in the campaign. The only need we have for an intervention is maybe with some media types who keep saying things that aren’t true.”

The Trump campaign accusing “some media types” of saying things that aren’t true is more than a little ironic.

Trump doesn’t just say things that are untrue, he keeps repeating them even when they have been proven to be untrue.

Trump was given a lot of political oxygen by the media through his campaign, he used them and they used him for attention seeking.

Now the media seems to have largely turned highly critical of Trump his campaign team seems at a loss as to how to deal with that and also the poll slide.

I think this was all inevitable.

The reactions terrorists want

Terrorists, whether acting alone or part of a group, want to perpetrate of course but they are usually trying to provoke reactions that further inflame things. And they know that some prominent people and some powerful countries will feed their frenzy.

Anything said from France can be probably be excused at this stage.

But reactions like that of Newt Gingrich are very disappointing.

UK Independent: Newt Gingrich: Politician who almost became Donald Trump’s VP calls for Muslim deportation after Nice attack

One of Donald Trump’s top picks for vice president has demanded the government deport Muslims who follow Shariah law following an attack in France which left 84 people dead.

Just hours after a lone lorry driver killed scores of people in Nice during Bastille Day celebrations, former house speaker Newt Gingrich told Fox News that he is “happy” with “modern Muslims” who do not follow Shariah law but all other Muslims should not be allowed to stay in the US.

“Western civilization is in a war,” he said.

“We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.”

Gingrich’s blanket intolerance is more incompatible with the civilised world.

Perhaps the US should test people for competence before they become politicians.

Fox News host Sean Hannity said he “wholeheartedly agreed” with Mr Gingrich’s claims.

And before they become media hosts.

They both agreed that they would blame president Barack Obama for “lacking the guts to do what is right” – and Mr Hannity questioned whether the US government could ascertain if incoming refugees “really wanted to assimilate”.

This is almost as horrifying as the terror attack in Nice and has the potential to do more damage on a much wider scale. It is doing exactly what terrorists want, promoting terror and escalating a volatile situation.

And unsurprisingly Donald trump also played on fears and increased the tensions of terrorism.

Daily Maily (Australia): ‘This is war. When will we learn? It is only getting worse’: Donald Trump quickly seizes on ‘horrific’ Nice Bastille Day attack:

  • Donald Trump quickly seized on reports of another deadly attack in France
  • He took to Twitter to say: ‘When will we learn? It is only getting worse’
  • The billionaire said ‘it’s about time’ Obama used the term ‘radical Islam’
  • If elected, he said he would ask Congress for declaration of war on ISIS
  • He also used the opportunity to reiterate his plan on banning people from ‘terrorist nations’ from entering the United States

And worryingly, as Tim Stanley (Telegraph) says: The Nice terror attack is why Donald Trump might win

Trump embodies not legalistic niceties but rough justice – at a time when Western society seems, to many voters, far too tolerant and weak. “Another horrific attack,” he tweeted in the aftermath of Nice. “When will we learn? It is only getting worse.”

The appeal is three dimensional. First, Trump says it how it is. A grim tradition has emerged since 9/11 of treating every terrorist attack like a mystery: politicians seem to wonder who did it and why.

Trump simply points the finger at radical Islamism. And while every other statesman sends “thoughts and prayers”, Trump talks about arming citizens and toughening up. In the aftermath of the Dallas shootings, he downplayed the race angle and put himself squarely behind the police.

Second, Trump’s ego offers the hope of action. Obama has allowed his presidency to be cast as reactive – responding to crises in a cool way that is temporarily reassuring but begs the question “what was he doing to prevent this from happening in the first place?” Trump’s constant tweeting about the need to smarten up suggests vigilance.

And, third, Trump’s policies contrast starkly with the suggestion that terrorism is something Americans just have to live with. He will build a wall to keep the illegals out. He will stop Muslims from migrating to America.

Never mind that there are plenty there already – roughly three million – and that they are law-abiding citizens with constitutional rights.

So if the terrorists help to get Trump elected President of the United States what then?

Mass destruction, genocide?

Trampling over the legal and constitutional rights of millions of people?

Vilifying hundreds of millions of people due to the actions of a few thousand extremists?

Trump on The O’Reilly Factor:

“It’s out of control. We have a president that doesn’t want to call it what it is,” he said. “And you know you look at World Trade Center, you look at San Bernardino, you look at Paris – 130 people killed and so many injured in Paris from that attack, and you look at Orlando. It’s out of control. … 

“Unless we get strong and really strong and very, very smart leadership, it’s only going to get worse.” 

Mr Trump previously said on Thursday night that he would prevent terrorist attacks in the US by making it “very hard for people to come into our country [from] terrorist areas” by requiring “extreme” documentation.

Would tattooing people be extreme enough?

Terrorists kill and create terror, but that happens in relatively isolated circumstances.

The leaders of major powers also have records of killing and creating terror, on a much larger scale.

I fear that’s where the world is headed. The reaction terrorists want.

I’m grateful I live in a relatively sane and tolerant country. A country remote from the worst that is likely to happen, but not immune to it if we react badly.