Trump Caves on Mexican Wall to Prevent Government Shutdown -- Donald Trump's signature campaign promise was a vow to erect a wall along the southern border of the US and force Mexico to pay for the construction. As president, he has said Americans will pay for it, and then somehow, Mexico will reimburse the US Treasury. In his latest climbdown, he insisted that any legislation that funds the government beyond midnight Friday (when current funding runs out) must include a down payment on the wall. That insistence held up for about 24 hours. When one looks at this and at his behavior in the healthcare fiasco, it becomes clear that Mr. Trump bluffs a great deal, and that one can take everything he has simply by calling his bluff. [25 April]
Macron, Le Pen in French Presidency Second Round -- The first round of voting in the French presidential election was yesterday, and the results are exceedingly bad for the established political parties. Emmanuel Macron, who started his own political grouping a year or so ago, garnered the most votes with 23.9% of the ballots cast. Marine Le Pen of the fascist Front National was second with a troubling 21.4%. They will advance to the second round in thirteen days' time. For the first time since 1965, no established party of the right, center or left will be involved in the run-off. The next French revolution is underway. [24 April]
Britain's Local Elections in May Won't Forecast General Election Result -- The June 8 general election in the UK will follow by five weeks elections to some of the country's local councils on May 4. The temptation among pundits, pollsters and politicians will be to try predicting the June outcome based on the May results. The data will be fresh, the interval between the two elections is close, the parties involved will all be the same (save of course for the candidates themselves). Analysts will demand to know how the local elections could not possibly be an indicator of the general election outcome. The answer is simply that the similarities are deceiving, and the differences are too great for the events to be linked. [21 April]
Trump Rattles Sabres Toward Iran -- Having just demonstrated to the world that it cannot dispatch an aircraft carrier and its escort ships to Korean waters in a direct and timely fashion, the Trump foreign policy team has turned its attention to Iran. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged yesterday that the Iranians are abiding by the 2015 agreement governing their nuclear program. He then announced, "An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it." After that, he announced a review of the nuclear deal, which is actually a check on Iran. One must wonder whether the problem is a basic ignorance of foreign policy, an unfamiliarity with the fundamentals of logic or an inability to use the English language. [20 April]
US Aircraft Carrier Wasn't Headed to Korea After All -- When North Korea launched a test missile that failed almost immediately, the American response was measured, decisive and prudent. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its escort ships were sent to the region as a show of American resolve. It would provide extra air power and logistical support in the event things on the peninsula got violent. North Korea would be deterred, South Korea and Japan would know America had their backs. The only trouble is that the Trump, administration lied. The battle group wasn't going to Korea. [19 April]
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