Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley wants his party to lean forward. In an interview this morning with ABC News, O'Malley said that Democrats "have to look to the future." And he wants his party to have more debates.
"As a party, we need to wake up, we need to start having debates about the issues that really matter, like making college more affordable for more families, making wages go up and not down, making the investments that allow us to move to a 100 percent clean energy future as a nation so we can square our shoulders to the challenge of climate change," said O'Malley.
"Until we start having debates and offering those ideas that move our country forward, we’re going to be bogged down by questions of ‘what did Hillary Clinton know and when did she know it?
"And we cannot allow our Party to be branded by those sorts of questions of the past. We have to look to the future and we have to offer the ideas that move our country forward for the future. That’s why these debates are so important."
In an interview this morning with CNN, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson indicated that he might be open to being Donald Trump's vice presidential pick.
"Dr. Carson, would you be willing to serve as Donald Trump's vice president? This is something that was sort of bandied about in the media this week," the CNN host asked Carson. "It is summer of the outsider. In just about all the polls, the top two Republicans are yourself and Donald Trump. Would you serve as his running mate? Would you want him to serve as your running mate?"
"All things are possible," said Carson, "but it is much too early to begin such conversations."
Next year will be the most consequential presidential election in two generations. Given how difficult it is to hold the White House for three straight terms, and given President Obama's shaky approval numbers, Republicans will have a good chance to win. On the other hand, Democrats had a good chance to win in 1988, taking on an uninspiring successor to a twice-victorious incumbent. Indeed, the Democratic nominee was ahead in the polls into the summer of 1988. But that nominee was Michael Dukakis.
Are we sure the GOP isn't on course to nominating their very own Dukakis? Are we confident one of the current field is up to the job of winning—and governing?
Perhaps one of the current candidates will prove to be just fine. Perhaps we're getting a distorted view of the quality of the field because of the tidal wave that is Donald Trump. Perhaps the other candidates haven't therefore been able to emerge as clearly and impressively as might otherwise have been the case. Perhaps over the next couple of months Marco Rubio or Scott Walker or Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush, or someone else currently in the field, will turn out to fit the bill.
On the other hand, it may be that the lesson of the Trump surge—like that of the shorter-lived Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann boomlets in 2011—is that the rest of the field isn't what it should be. We'll have a better sense of that in a couple of months. But what if come October all we have is Bushies lacking all conviction, Trumpers full of passionate intensity, and a bunch of uninspiring also-rans? I devoutly hope this isn't the case. But what if it is?
Shouldn't Republicans be open to doing what Democrats are now considering? That is: Welcoming into the race, even drafting into the race if need be, one or two new and potentially superior candidates? After all, if a new candidate or new candidates didn't take off, the party would be no worse off, and someone from the current field would prevail. If the October surprise candidate caught fire, it would be all the better for the GOP--whether he ultimately prevailed or forced one of the existing candidates to up his game.
Who could such a mysterious dark horse be? Well, it's not as if every well-qualified contender is already on the field. Mitch Daniels was probably the most successful Republican governor of recent times, with federal executive experience to boot. Paul Ryan is the intellectual leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives, with national campaign experience. The House also features young but tested leaders like Jim Jordan, Trey Gowdy and Mike Pompeo. There is the leading elected representative of the 9/11 generation who has also been a very impressive freshman senator, Tom Cotton. There could be a saner and sounder version of Trump—another businessman who hasn't held electoral office. And there are distinguished conservative leaders from outside politics; Justice Samuel Alito and General (ret.) Jack Keane come to mind.
None of them now plans to run. None of them wants to run. None of them may be required to run for the sake of the country. But isn't it worth at this point pushing the door a bit ajar?
There are times when excessive attention to monthly data reporting what’s up, what’s down, can be allowed to obscure underlying structural changes in an economy. With the game of what-will-Yellen-do-next in full flow, this is one of those times. No, the proverbial tectonic plates are not shifting, whatever that phrase might mean when applied to an economy other than one in the throes of an irreversible Margaret Thatcher-style revolution. But there are significant trends underway, trends that are unlikely to be reversed and which, as they play out, will result in an American economy considerably different from the one we have today.
Perhaps the most notable is the change in how Americans choose to live. We seem to be in what might be called “the full-closet era.” No more stuff. More “experiences.” Consumers are spending more but department stores, from Macy’s, a dominant player in that sector (sales at stores open at least a year down 2.1 percent), to Kohl’s (sales flat, profits down), are watching those dollars pass them by as consumers use their money for gym memberships, to dine out, travel, buy apps, and find more and more unfree uses for their cell phones. Perhaps the only sector in which stuff trumps experience is the booming auto sector, but even there much of the increased revenue and profit is coming from the experiences consumers want their cars to deliver in addition to getting them from here to there: videos in the back seats to reduce the incidence of the famous question, “Are we there yet, mommy?”; Apple CarPlay in the front to provide the driver access to unlimited musical entertainment; heated and air-cooled steering wheels.
There are exceptions. Affluent consumers are keeping the tills and credit card machines busy at high-end retailer Nordstrom’s (sales up 5 percent), and sales of yoga pants to bedeck the sleek torsos of trainers and the not-so-sleek bodies of their clients at the nation’s gyms are on the rise, as are sales of multi-coloured bikers’ outfits to so many consumers that a current joke has a wife telling her un-thin husband, “I have tolerated your drinking, your womanising, but I will not tolerate your biker outfits.”
Retailing is not the only sector in which the rules of engagement with consumers, who account for about 70 percent of the nation’s GDP, are changing. Americans’ choice of what sort of roof to put over their heads in very different from it once was. Only about a decade ago, in 2004, 69.2 percent of all homes were occupied by their owners; the home ownership rate has since fallen to 63.4 percent, the lowest in almost fifty years despite some of the most attractive mortgage interest rates on record. In part this is due to the difficulty young couples have in qualifying for a mortgage, as once-burned, twice-fined and increasingly risk-averse banks, looking over their shoulders at their regulators, raise their lending standards.
ABC Newsreports that the United States suspended and then resumed joint military exercises with South Korea this week after North Korea fired artillery shells across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Assistant Secretary of Defense David Shear gave reporters the news Friday, August 21, at a Pentagon briefing. Shear said the suspension was to allow for talks with South Korean allies "on the subject of the exchange fire across the DMZ." The exercises have since resumed, he said.
This brought to mind a similar decision made more than two decades ago. Back in the winter of 1992, when I was U.S. consul in Busan, Korea, and living on the U.S. military base, Camp Hialeah, I received some startling news: the George H.W. Bush Administration had decided to cancel the annual Team Spirit military exercises conducted with our South Korean allies. U.S. diplomats and their families at the time were required to have housing on a U.S. military base for security reasons: anti-American students had previously attempted to set fire to the U.S. consulate building downtown. So my family and I had grown used to the annual winter ritual of seeing stateside soldiers from places like Fort Lewis, Washington, setting up tents around our housing as the exercises commenced.
Seoul and Pyongyang had just entered into a Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, negotiated in December 1991, where the two governments agreed “not to test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons; to use nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes; and not to possess facilities for nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment.” On January 30, 1992, more than six years after first acceding to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Pyongyang also concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
It was therefore determined in Washington, in consultation with our South Korean allies, that the annual large-scale joint Team Spirit military exercise, scheduled for March 1992, was an irritant to North Korea and should be cancelled in the interests of promoting the denuclearization agreement.
In September 1992, however, IAEA inspectors, after conducting initial inspections of North Korean nuclear facilities, discovered “discrepancies.” Following the November 1992 U.S. presidential election, the Bush Administration thus handed over a brewing nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula to the incoming Clinton Administration.
The Yankees’s C.C. Sabathia is not having a stellar season. With a 4-9 record and a 5.24 ERA he could be forgiven for feeling a sense of frustration. Even one serious enough to get him into a near brawl with fans in, of all places, Toronto.
Canadians brawl? Who knew.
Anyway, it was more shouting match than anything else, though Sabathia seems to have come away from it without one shoe. And feeling, as the New York Times reported, some contrition.
“A bad decision on my part,”
That the episode resulted in media coverage at all demonstrates just how far the game (and the society) have come since the days when brawling was
... not uncommon among ballplayers …
… [Ty] Cobb may have been in more than his share of fistfights, some of which went way beyond a few shots to the jaw. The temper and the fistfights might have been permitted a lesser player, but not Cobb. According to legend, he became not just a hot-tempered brawler but a racist bully and killer.
Cobb’s legend was poisoned forever, though a recent biography has helped correct the record. Sabathia’s moment, by contrast, was captured on TMZ. Which means that it was forgotten in hours.
MSNBC reports that a "federal judge is calling Hillary Clinton's use of a private server a 'violation of government guidelines.'"
Clinton operatives are trying to calm Democrats' concerns behind the scenes. Chuck Todd notes, "last week, you had Democrats privately complaining. This week, they're going public." He cited statements from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) who said Clinton's campaign hasn't handled the scandal well, and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) who said he thought the scandal could upend Clinton's campaign.
This has put eyes on Joe Biden, with a majority of Democrats wanting him to run.
Watch the full clip, posted by the Republican National Committee, here:
At National Review,Yuval Levin remembers who he calls "the best teacher I ever saw in action." Here's an excerpt:
Amy Kass, who died yesterday after a long and courageous struggle with cancer, was without a doubt the best teacher I ever saw in action. What she did so masterfully was, in a sense, simple: She would throw a great work of fiction in front of a group of eager, overconfident students, invite them to open it up and turn it over and over together, and then gradually help them discover that it had actually opened them instead. What resulted were some of the most remarkable conversations I’ve ever witnessed—not just among students at the University of Chicago, where she taught for decades, but also among the reading groups of (even more overconfident) adult Washingtonians she led occasionally at the Hudson Institute, where she worked for the last decade of her life.
Amy’s teaching and writing were driven by the conviction that the stories we tell shape our souls and bind us together, and by the worry that we too often now fail to take care about how our souls are shaped and how (or whether at all) we are bound together in community. She tried to help her students realize that what they longed for—intellectually, spiritually, even romantically—but too often felt they were denied by modern life was only denied to them as long as they failed to really understand their longings. They could come to better understand them through the study of great works of literature.
The 1998 best selling book, The 48 Laws of Power, is a Machiavellian Bible of sorts. Donald Trump, author of his own many books telling people how he thinks they can get ahead, is also a student of Machiavelli.
How does Trump's success comport with Robert Greene's 48 laws? Let's dive in:
Law 1 -- Never Outshine the Master: At best, Trump rarely abides by this law. He represents himself as a master of many things, and won't let voters on the campaign trail forget it. To Trump, Trump is the master -- it's who he is.
Law 2 -- Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How To Use Enemies: Trump is not relying on his old political friends to make a splash—the Donald is the splash. Potential opponents he has supported or given money to (Hillary Clinton; much of the GOP field) are now the butt of his jokes. "If you have no enemies," Greene writes, you should "find a way to make them." It's safe to say Donald Trump is well on his way to making more enemies than ever, and in a short period of time. Why? Friends can turn on you, as Greene observes, and if you "hire a former enemy ...he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove."
Law 3 -- Conceal Your Intentions: Trump did this from the very start, since in the past he has flirted with running for elected office a few times. The press doubted his seriousness, and they were wrong. Trump did everything they said he wouldn't and it created a spectacle. Whether this campaign is a legitimate one or one of the most brilliant PR campaigns ever is something we're not likely to ever know.
Law 4 -- Always Say Less than Necessary: This is one of Trump's areas of specialty. When asked at a town hall meeting recently whether he'll put out "comprehensive" plans (and by comprehensive, we're talking six page plans) on other policy issues, Trump demurred. Saying less than necessary provides flexibility. And, as Greene writes: "Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike."
Law 5 -- So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard it with your Life: The Donald knows this more than any candidate in the field, as his reputation is his life. Past woes and troubles notwithstanding, Trump always finds a way to spin yarn into gold and mask the smell of doo on his shoe after he's stepped in it. And whenever Trump is attacked, his PR machine goes to DEFCON 1 to defend the Donald and attacks those who question him.
Law 6 -- Court Attention At All Cost: I don't think this needs any further examination.
Law 7 -- Get Others To Do the Work for you, But Always Take the Credit: Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Senator, "helped" Donald Trump concoct his immigration plan. Who really did the intellectual heavy lifting there and who got the credit? Similarly, many of Trump's properties are joint ventures, but Trump usually gets the credit—and the naming rights.
Law 8 -- Make Other People Come To You – Use Bait If Necessary: Trump's remarks regarding Megyn Kelly and his supposedly bad/tough/unfair treatment at the Fox News Debate in Cleveland was the bait. Guess who came running?
The Washington Nationals’s winning streak ended Thursday night in Colorado. After two games. But when recent performance includes a six game losing streak that helped the team fall from first place, by 4 and a half games in their division, to trailing the Mets by four, then you take what you can get. With the loss last night putting an end to a 3-7 road trip, the Nats are plainly a team that is not hitting on all cylinders. They were thought to be contenders before the season began. And after a slow start, they seemed to pull things together but now ...
Blame what you want for the late-August urgency. Choose from injuries, underperformance and/or bad luck to explain why these Washington Nationals are trailing in the National League East. Whatever the reason — and there are many – the consequence is this: The Nationals need to rally in the season’s final six weeks to salvage a season whose early promise is still unfulfilled.
So how about this for a theory: The Nats are a Washington team, so perhaps their collapse is not so much a baseball phenomenon as a manifestation of the Washington habit of taking the month of August off. The president goes to the Vineyard to play golf. Members of congress head home to solicit votes and money. Everyone who can skips out of town and makes for the beach or the mountains. And the people who remain – including the ballplayers – just phone it in.
The Nats have a crucial – not to say do-or-die – home series with the Mets in early September. Maybe their heads will be back in town … and back in the game.
Concerns over immigration from our neighbors to the south have loomed large this primary season, with the GOP candidates in agreement regarding the dangerous exports of one country in particular: Mexico. However, before we erect more walls between us and our third largest trading partner, it behooves our would-be presidents to walk the streets of Mexico City, or tour the Baja California region, and see Mexico through the lens of its most recent market trend: craft beer.
In 2010, SAB Miller and ACERMEX (a trade association representing Mexican microbrewers) launched a complaint with Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission (CFC) castigating the two largest beer producers, Grupo Modelo and Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, for abusing market power by forcing exclusivity agreements on their customers. (The duopolists, who control 98% of the Mexican market, provide incentives and disincentives to restaurants, bars, hotels and convenience stores that effectively keep their competition off the shelves.) After three years of debate, the CFC ruled in favor of SAB Miller and ACERMEX, though fell short of full market liberalization. Currently, the CFC guarantees open and unrestricted access to “on-trade” channels (bars, restaurants, hotels) and caps exclusive arrangements made on “off-trade” channels, (convenience stores) to 20% of market. The result has been a doubling of the total number of craft breweries and triple-digit growth for the larger Mexican craft brewers such as Cerveceria de Baja California (Baja) and Cerveceria Minerva (Minerva).
Historically, Mexico’s duopolists offered just two types of beer: standard lager and stout. But younger Mexicans, with their thirsty, youthful palates, demand greater selection and a quality product. Unsurprisingly, the west coast American beer culture has found a natural home in the Mexican state of Baja California, birthplace of Baja and their Cucapa line of beer. The selection of craft products is dazzling for a region with limited beer selection. Next to standard fare like Cucapa Clasica, a blonde ale, one can pick up Cucapa Chupabras, an American inspired pale ale, the Cucapa Barley Wine, or the Cucapa La Migra Imperial Stout. And while the combined craft beer market still holds less than 1% of the marketplace, it has been growing at more than 50% a year. Minerva, which started in 2004 with three employees, now has a staff of 48 and a new production facility that will likely push production beyond 1.5 million liters next year.
The Obama administration spent the last two years telling lawmakers and reporters that any deal with Iran would require the Iranians to provide International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors robust access to the Parchin military base, where the Iranians conducted hydrodynamic experiments relevant to the detonation of nuclear warheads. The IAEA needs the access to determine how far the Iranians got as a prerequisite to establishing a verification regime. Here's Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in 2013: the Joint Plan of Action requires Iran to "address past and present practices... including Parchin"; Sherman in 2014: "as part of any comprehensive agreement... we expect, indeed, Parchin to be resolved"; State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf in 2015: "we would find it... very difficult to imagine a JCPA that did not require such [inspector] access at Parchin"; etc.
Last month Republican senator Jim Risch suggested in an open Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing that the West had collapsed on the requirement and that instead the Iranians had worked out a secret side deal with Iran under which the Iranians would be trusted to collect their own samples for the IAEA. Kerry refused to confirm the arrangement citing classification issues, but the Associated Press's Vienna reporter locked it down anyway.
White House officials and validators continued to declare that in no way would the IAEA ever agree to that kind of arrangement, since it would preclude the agency from securing a chain of custody over the evidence. But the administration refused to transmit the side deal to Congress—which would have resolved the debate—and instead claimed that the U.S. couldn't get the text because it was a confidential Iran-IAEA bilateral agreement. Business Insiderconfirmed that in fact U.S. diplomats can call for the agreement at any time because Washington sits on the IAEA's Board of Governors. Nonetheless Kerry told Congress that not only did the U.S. not have the text, but that he hadn't even seen the final wording, though he added that maybe "Wendy Sherman may have" (she subsequently clarified she hadn't either).