The Beginning Of Progress In The Trade War With China

It is no surprise that trade negotiations with China have moved slowly. President Trump is attempting to level a playing field that has been tilted for a long time. China has manipulated its currency to gain trade advantage, China has stolen intellectual property, and China has used slave labor to manufacture products at ridiculously cheap prices. We have looked the other way, ignoring human rights abuses. We have also looked the other way in terms of the censorship of speech in China. Google has helped develop a search engine that will meet the requirements of the Chinese censors. We have complied with things that are against our principles for the sake of money. The trade deal being negotiated is not going to change that, but at least it will be a beginning attempt to level the playing field.

Fox Business is reporting today that the U.S. and China agreed to a “phase one deal” in the trade war.

The article reports:

The deal, which has been agreed to in principle and will take three to five weeks to write, includes China agreeing to raise its agricultural purchases to between $40 billion and $50 billion from $8 billion to $16 billion, in addition to making reforms on intellectual property and financial services. The U.S. will not be raising tariffs from 25 percent to 30 percent on Oct. 15. A decision has not yet been made on the tariff increase scheduled for Dec. 15.

A comprehensive trade deal will have two or three phases, according to Trump. China’s trade team is calling the agreement a “pause” in the trade war, and not a deal.

China is not a free country, and the Chinese negotiators who are working out this trade deal will pay a high price if the deal is not totally acceptable to the leadership in China. The fact that a phase one deal has been reached is good news, but China does not have a great track record on keeping promises or abiding by trade agreements.

Wondering If This Will Actually Happen

The Washington Examiner posted an article today about the negotiations surrounding the trial of Jeffrey Epstein.

The article reports:

Jet-setting financier and convicted sex offender Jeffery Epstein’s trial on child sex trafficking charges won’t start until next June, at the earliest.

Federal prosecutors clashed with lawyers representing the jet-setting financier Wednesday over when the trial should begin, with the government arguing it should kick off next June, while the defense advocated for a post-Labor Day 2020 start date.

The judge didn’t make a definitive ruling, though he said June 2020 is the earliest the high-profile trial, expected to last four to six weeks, would commence.

Martin Weinberg, one of Epstein’s attorneys, claimed that the defense had one million pages of discovery to wade through and argued that a September 2020 trial date would be preferable because “thirteen months sounds like the appropriate amount of time it takes to prepare a case of this magnitude.”

A federal prosecutor countered that the trial should start sooner than that, telling the judge that a delay is not in the public interest and arguing that Epstein should be tried as “swiftly as possible.”

Judge Richard Berman, who finds himself in the national and international spotlight while presiding over this case, hinted the trial might begin around June 8, 2020, but said he’d revisit the exact timing of the Epstein trial in the future.

There are a lot of people who do not want to see this trial take place. Many of them are in very powerful positions in our government. In my mind there is a real question as to whether Jeffrey Epstein will survive in prison long enough to be tried. Prisoners are not known for their compassionate treatment of men who sexually assault underage girls. There are also a lot of famous people who visited his island–some on a fairly regular basis.

Stay tuned.

The Plot Thickens

On Monday, John Solomon posted an article at The Hill stating that in early June 2017 prosecutor Andrew Weissmann quietly reached out to the American lawyers for Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash with a tempting offer: Give us some dirt on Donald Trump in the Russia case, and Team Mueller might make his 2014 U.S. criminal charges go away. Wow.

The article further reports:

The DOJ, Mueller’s office and Weissmann did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment on Monday.

At first blush, one might ask, “What’s the big deal?” It’s not unusual for federal prosecutors to steal a page from Monty Hall’s “Let’s Make a Deal” script during plea negotiations. 

But Weissmann’s overture was wrapped with complexity and intrigue far beyond the normal federal case, my sources indicate.

At the time, pressure was building inside the DOJ and the FBI to find smoking-gun evidence against Trump in the Russia case because the Steele dossier — upon which the early surveillance warrants were based — was turning out to be an uncorroborated mess. (“There’s no big there there,” lead FBI agent Pete Strzok texted a few days before Weissmann’s overture.)

Likewise, key evidence that the DOJ used to indict Firtash on corruption charges in 2014 was falling apart. Two central witnesses were in the process of recanting testimony, and a document the FBI portrayed as bribery evidence inside Firtash’s company was exposed as a hypothetical slide from an American consultant’s PowerPoint presentation, according to court records I reviewed.

In other words, the DOJ faced potential embarrassment in two high-profile cases when Weissmann made an unsolicited approach on June 4, 2017, that surprised even Firtash’s U.S. legal team.

To some, the offer smacked of being desperately premature. Mueller was appointed just two weeks earlier, did not even have a full staff selected, and was still getting up to speed on the details of the investigation. So why rush to make a deal when the prosecution team still was being selected, some wondered.

Please follow the link to read the entire article.

The article concludes:

Weissmann long has been a favorite target of conservatives, in part because his earlier work as a prosecutor in the Enron case was overturned unanimously by the U.S. Supreme Court because of overly aggressive prosecutorial tactics. Former DOJ official Sidney Powell strongly condemned Weissmann’s past work as a prosecutor in “Licensed to Lie,” a book critical of DOJ’s pressure tactics. 

It is now clear that Weissmann’s overture to a Ukrainian oligarch in the summer of 2017 is about to take on new significance in Washington, where Mueller is about to testify, and in Austria, where Firtash’s extradition fight has taken a new twist.

This is reminiscent of Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, head of Stalin’s secret police. He told Stalin, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”.  It seems as if that was the approach of the Mueller investigation of President Trump, regardless of who was actually leading the investigation.

Tariffs And Trade Negotiations

John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line today about the ongoing trade negotiations with China. It is an open secret that China has been stealing American intellectual property for years. They have also engaged in other unfair trade practices such as manipulating their currency. What is happening now is that President Trump is trying to make the playing field more level. There will be opposition. There also may be some short-term losses for Americans, but the President is doing what needs to be done.

The article includes the following cartoon:

That about sums it up.

Blaming The Other Guy When You Are Not Willing To Talk

The Daily Caller reported today that the Democrats refused to negotiate with President Trump on the wall and then blamed President Trump for the government shutdown that is the result of unsuccessful negotiations.

The article reports:

Democratic leaders walked away from the negotiating table Thursday in the midst of a government shutdown over funding for border security, a senior White House official tells The Daily Caller.

The government partially shut down shortly before Christmas after President Donald Trump refused to sign an appropriations bill that did not contain his requested $5 billion for border wall funding. Since then, Republicans and Democrats — who will take control of the House in the New Year – have been looking to strike a deal to reopen the government.

…The new development all but confirms that the government will remain shut down through the New Year — until Democrats take over the House and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gets confirmed as Speaker. House Republicans confirmed on Thursday that there are no votes scheduled for the remainder of the week.

Pelosi promised that when she assumes the speakership, she will put forth appropriations legislation that does not include any of the president’s demands.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have repeatedly sworn not they would not budge on funding for Trump’s border wall.

There are actually very few people in Washington who want a border wall. However, there are many people throughout America who want the wall. So what is the disconnect about? It’s about money and votes. The Democrat Party sees illegal immigrants as people who will eventually become citizens and Democratic voters. The Republican Party sees illegal immigrants as a cheap source of labor for their corporate sponsors. One of the major lobbying groups and campaign contributors is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce–a group that loves cheap labor. Unfortunately neither political party is willing to address the danger to Americans caused by an open border.

I Have Decided To Communicate With You To Inform You That I Will Not Communicate With You????

Hot Air posted a story today about a telephone call President Obama made to Speaker John Boehner.

The article reports:

After a week of reports about 90-year-old vets being barricaded out of war memorials and federal park rangers trying to cone off the roads in front of Mt. Rushmore, The One’s decided it’s time for a messaging reboot. He’s holding a snap presser at 2 p.m. ET to remind America that (a) Republicans are suicidally stubborn and unreasonable in digging in when the debt limit is approaching and (b) that he himself is dug in and categorically refuses to negotiate even though the debt limit is approaching.

Speaking of which, evidently we’ve reached the crucial “communications about not wanting to communicate” stage of the negotiations. Next comes negotiations over whether or not to negotiate, and then finally a triumphant agreement to punt this whole process to next year sometime, when we’ll do it all again.

There is a way out of this, but I can guarantee that we won’t find it if people continue saying things like, “I will not negotiate.” As you hear the spin, remember that the House of Representatives has passed numerous bills to fund various parts of the government and that Harry Reid has refused to bring those bills to the floor in the Senate. This is political theater. I only hope that the Americans who have been evicted from their homes and those who have had their businesses closed will be able to recover from this impasse quickly.

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Let’s Put The Budget Together Right After The Company Christmas Party

Putting the budget together for a business right after the company Christmas party is ridiculous, right? Well, evidently the United Nations has done that consistently in the past.

ABC News posted a story today quoting Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella, who represents the U.S. on the U.N.’s budget committee.

The story reports:

Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella, who represents the U.S. on the U.N.’s budget committee, said Monday that the tense process of negotiating the world body’s annual budget is made more complicated by the number of diplomats who turn up drunk.

The U.N. budget is finalized in December, when holiday parties apparently lead to some revelry spilling over into budget negotiations.

The U.S. is making “the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone,” Torsella said during a private meeting of the budget committee. The U.S. mission released a transcript of his remarks.

It’s mostly American money, so why should they worry?Enhanced by Zemanta

Spiking The Football Before You Make The Touchdown Is Never A Good Idea

I have no problem with victory celebrations in football. It is a competitive sport and in that setting they are appropriate, but I will admit that President Obama is getting on my nerves with his political victory celebrations. Being President does not mean that you have to destroy the other political party–it means that you have to lead the country and create unity. I guess President Obama never got that message.

Last night Breitbart.com reported on the current state of the fiscal cliff negotiations. It appears as if a deal may have been reached (the question is whether or not the deal will pass in the House of Representatives). With passage in the House not a given, it was rather unwise of the President to spike the football–unless he wants the deal to fail so that he can blame Republicans. I hope that is not the case, because that would be putting politics over the welfare of the country, and I don’t like to think any President would do that.

The article reports:

However, there are several reasons a deal could fail. One is the President’s bizarre press conference earlier today, at which he appeared to mock Republicans and hinted at further tax hikes in the future. The event, timed at a sensitive stage in the negotiating process, irked Republicans and damaged whatever trust might have begun. Obama seems to have been torn between the desire to strike a victorious posture, and the real fear–driven, perhaps, by sharply falling approval ratings–that he would be blamed if the “fiscal cliff” caused a new recession.

The article also reminds us that we have already hit the debt ceiling:

Negotiations will also take place about the debt ceiling. The Treasury reports that the U.S. has officially hit the $16.4 trillion limit on what it can borrow, and that the government must resort to “extraordinary measures” to cover additional borrowing, which it can only do for a few more weeks. Congress will revisit the debt ceiling negotiations of the summer of 2011, even as it struggles with the aftermath of the “fiscal cliff.”

The problem is excessive spending–not lack of revenue!Enhanced by Zemanta