Glorious Time to Be Russian – Free Speech in the Moscow Springtime

What a glorious time to be Russian.  Governed by a constitution that provides “freedom of ideas and speech” for everyone.1  And other wonderful freedoms, including a “freedom of conscience” and a “freedom of religion.”  A Russian can’t “be forced to express his views and convictions or to reject them.”  Thank God “censorship shall be banned.” A Russian “shall have the right to association” and “the freedom of activity of public association shall be guaranteed.”  In fact “fundamental human rights and freedoms are inalienable and shall be enjoyed by everyone.”  Yes, it’s a glorious time in Russia!

Oh sure, there’s the little matter that “the propaganda or agitation instigating social, racial, national or religious hatred and strife shall not be allowed.”  Not to worry if a few of these terms aren’t defined.  Actually, none of them are.  But we Russians have a long history of trusting our leaders.  We’re quite sure our freedom of speech and right to public association won’t be impaired by these couple of undefined tawdry little words.  And yes, we know that our exercise of “the rights and freedoms of man and citizen shall not violate the rights and freedoms of other people.” But in government we trust. Continue reading “Glorious Time to Be Russian – Free Speech in the Moscow Springtime”

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Trump, Russia and the Democrats – A New Dreyfus Affair

Trump, Russia and the Democrats.  A 2017 Dreyfus affair, but without any espionage.  A “scandal” looking for an act.  The cause?  Childish and churlish behavior from a President and Senators and Congressmen.  In one corner tweets the petulant president.  He agitates and provokes with no discernible or conceivable advantage to the interests of our country or its people.  A president who would do himself a world of good to study the life of George Washington.  There was a man revered and respected by friend and foe alike because he lived and breathed honor and virtue.  But not this President, version 45.

And in the other corner a sanctimonious group of opposers who fire at every decoy and launch aimless attack waves.  They’ve formed a phalanx to battle every twitch.  They shrill for resignations and special prosecutors but come to the public’s court with nary a scintilla of evidence or basis in fact.  They too care not for the deep wounds they inflict on the country, harms they will never appreciate so long as it all furthers their selfish interests.  Oh, they plead that they do it for us.  Balderdash!

Trump, Russia, they scream!  The country has been overrun.  And they, with their infinite wisdom and Yoda-like virtue, will save us from it all! Continue reading “Trump, Russia and the Democrats – A New Dreyfus Affair”

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A Trump-China Deal With North Korea? The Door is Now Open if Trump Will Walk Through

A Trump-China deal with North Korea may now be possible.  The stars are apparently aligning for a joint U.S.-China approach to North Korea.  And perhaps much sooner than conventionally believed.  With respect to North Korea, it appears that the Chinese have finally taken U.S. concerns seriously. President Trump may have a clear opportunity to work along side China and consummate a meaningful agreement with North Korea.

The President had signaled during his campaign that he was open to direct negotiations with North Korean President Kim Jong Un.  He had also suggested that the Chinese were not pushing hard enough on the North Koreans.  China’s new actions show that this dynamic has changed.  It is time for a joint Trump-China deal with North Korea.  We explain. Continue reading “A Trump-China Deal With North Korea? The Door is Now Open if Trump Will Walk Through”

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Defense of Free Thought in the Face of Illiberalism – The Pillars of Free Thought

We live in interesting times.  They are times of uncertainty and danger. They are times that threaten our core principles of freedom and the fabric of our society.  It is time to make a defense of free thought.

Illiberalism and a Defense of Free Thought

A growing tide of illiberalism surrounds us from both sides of the political spectrum.  An illiberalism that burns in our hearts, that forces us further apart. An illiberalism that seers our conscience and spreads through our communities.  Some on the right lead it.  They promote social inequalities and class vitriol that threaten the left.  Some on the left also lead it. They repudiate tolerance and free expression and seek to muzzle and silence those with whom they disagree. Both sides seek to use government – force – to impose their views on others.  Both are unwilling to lay down their arms and compete in the open marketplace of ideas. Continue reading “Defense of Free Thought in the Face of Illiberalism – The Pillars of Free Thought”

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Trump’s Moral Leadership – It’s Time to Start, Mr. President

When America leads from the moral high ground, it leads best.  The United States is an imperfect country, but it need make no apologies for its imperfection.  Others have a different moral compass than Americans. They do not share our country’s vision for human life. We think Russia, Iran, and China, for starters.  They may prefer control, restriction, repression, and more over their own peoples.  They have visions of imperialism and domination over others, and a willingness to utilize force and murder to achieve that domination.  We expect American leaders to face down these philosophies of tyranny, oppression and domination.  And that starts with moral leadership on the world stage.  Which leads us to President Trump’s recent comments regarding Russia.  And to Trump’s moral leadership.

Trump's Moral Leadership
Seneca, the Stoic

A leader must persuade.  To persuade he must have integrity; he must be trusted.  Moral leadership requires a leader who can guide by example.  A moral leader for the United States is someone who understands America’s core values, and who will represent them.  He represents those values accurately and consistently. As the stoic Seneca put it, “noble example stirs us up to noble actions.”  Can President Trump be a moral leader for the United States? Continue reading “Trump’s Moral Leadership – It’s Time to Start, Mr. President”

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French Outsider Presidential Candidates Get Boost From Scandal – Risks to EU Grow

A scandal in the French presidential election campaign involving the integrity of the leading candidate is feeding directly into the growing popular distrust of the political class.  The new developments, centered on Republican party front-runner Francois Fillon, cast an ominous cloud over the hopes for a win by the mainstream candidate.  It has ratcheted-up the unpredictability of the election outcome.  It increases the possibility of a win by the outsider presidential candidates, far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen and newcomer Emmanuel Macron.  Continue reading “French Outsider Presidential Candidates Get Boost From Scandal – Risks to EU Grow”

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Trump’s Supreme Court Strategy – The Game is On

President Trump has apparently whittled his Supreme Court nominee down to three.  Thomas Hardiman, William Pryor, and Thomas Hardiman are each Federal appellate court judges who are well regarded in conservative circles. But what will be Trump’s Supreme Court strategy? Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer has laid down the gauntlet to President Trump: “If the nominee is not bipartisan and mainstream, we will absolutely keep the seat open.”  Further, “we are not going to make it easy for them to pick a Supreme Court justice” he said previously.  “It’s hard for me to imagine” Democrats supporting any nomination submitted by President Trump.  With the filibuster rule in place, at least for now, how will President Trump elect to play this nomination game? Continue reading “Trump’s Supreme Court Strategy – The Game is On”

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How Did WikiLeaks Get the DNC Emails? President Obama Extends the Mystery

So how did WikiLeaks get the DNC emails?  The DNC-Russian hacking analysis remains incomplete.  One thing is certain. The United States intelligence community does not know how WikiLeaks received the Democratic National Committee emails.  Former President Obama confessed as much in his last press conference:

The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.

How Did WikiLeaks Get the DNC Emails?- Electronic Transmission

If the Russians electronically transmitted emails to WikiLeaks, it is reasonable to conclude that the National Security Agency (NSA) knows it.  It may even be likely that the NSA knows it.  Here’s the analysis. Continue reading “How Did WikiLeaks Get the DNC Emails? President Obama Extends the Mystery”

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Jefferson’s Advice to President Trump – Words from the Sage of Monticello

The powers and responsibilities of the Presidency are just days away for Donald Trump.  While the winds of invectiveness continue to howl, what better source of soothing balm for the President-elect than the words of President Jefferson?  We bring forward Jefferson’s advice from his first inaugural address.

Jefferson’s Advice

March 4, 1801 was Jefferson’s first inauguration day.  It was the first inauguration to witness a change in power across political parties.  It was also the first inauguration held in Washington, D.C.  Jefferson walked to the ceremony early that afternoon to deliver his address.

Jefferson's Advice
The Capital in 1801

So here is Thomas Jefferson’s advice to President Trump, words that resonate for any President in the role of President: Continue reading “Jefferson’s Advice to President Trump – Words from the Sage of Monticello”

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Major Changes Coming in U.S. Foreign Policy – Trump’s New Relationship With China

All signs point to President-elect Trump implementing a major shift in the U.S.-China policy that has been in place since 1971.  A primary purpose of President Nixon’s rapprochement with China was to leverage China against the former Soviet Union.  The economic benefit of the rapprochement, though unforeseen at the time, was the development of a major bilateral trade and economic relationship between China and the U.S.  Currently, there is over $700 billion in trade flows between the two countries.

U.S.-China Policy shift in the 1970s led to strong economic ties
President Nixon and Chairman Mao

However, recent years have witnessed growing cries of Chinese exploitation of this relationship, ranging from widespread intellectual property and industrial theft, to mercantilistic currency manipulation in order to advantage Chinese trade.  Military issues exist in the South China Sea.  The U.S. position with respect to mainland China’s one-China policy is apparently being reconsidered.

Introduction of Peter Navarro Into the Mix

President-elect Trump’s appointment of Peter Navarro as director of trade and industrial policy and as head of the new White House National Trade Council has amplified the likelihood of a major shift in U.S.-China policy.

US-China policy to take a new turn
Peter Navarro, new head of the White House National Trade Council

Among other things, Mr. Navarro has previously blamed China for the loss of 25 million American jobs.  In his writings Navarro portrays China as a menace that cheats on trade in a variety of ways, including through the theft of intellectual property and illegal export subsidies.  He has stated that the U.S. is already in a trade war with China and needs to fight back.

The President-elect has suggested that his goal is to level the economic playing field with China.  Creating a variety of pressure points to achieve that objective may be wise.  However, implementation of those pressure points may be tricky, if not outright dangerous.  The risk of a tactical miscalculation is real.

We will explore these issues in more detail in a subsequent Opinion in the coming weeks.

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