David Thornton – The Resurgent https://theresurgent.com Committed to Freedom, Faith and Family Mon, 20 Jan 2020 18:58:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.5 https://theresurgent.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-favicon-32x32.png David Thornton – The Resurgent https://theresurgent.com 32 32 104855451 Trump Outraises Individual Dems But Is Behind the Pack https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/20/trump-outraises-individual-dems-but-is-behind-the-pack/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/20/trump-outraises-individual-dems-but-is-behind-the-pack/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2020 20:00:39 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58777 The combined fundraising of the Democrats is more than triple that of Trump.

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CNBC reports that President Trump’s 2019 fundraising haul far outpaces that of his Democratic rivals. The flip side, however, is that the combined group of Democratic hopefuls has more than tripled Trump’s take.

By the end of 2019, the Trump campaign had more than $100 million on hand after raising more than $46 million in the fourth quarter. The nearest Democratic contender was Bernie Sanders, who raked in $34.5 million. Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner, raised only $22.7 million. That’s the good news for Team Trump.

The bad news for Mr. Trump is that when all 14 Democrats are taken into account, the Trump campaign was outraised by $515 million to $143 million, 28 percent of the amount raised by the Democrats. If only individual contributions are considered, the president lagged the Democrats by $76 million to $471 million, 16 percent of what Democrats raised.

Trump’s fundraising gap is the worst of any recent incumbent. In 2011, President Obama raised 92 percent of the amount raised by his Republican rivals while George W. Bush raised more than his Democratic challengers in 2003.

“The field is trouncing Trump in fundraising and that is unprecedented,” Sarah Bryner, director of research and strategy at the Center for Responsive Politics, told CNBC.

The fact that Trump is running virtually unopposed in the Republican primary means that the president will start the general election campaign with a cash advantage over his Democratic challenger. The Democrats are earning smaller amounts and will have higher burn rates through the first half of the year as they wage primary battles against each other.

The big question is how effective the eventual Democratic nominee will be at uniting the party and rallying fundraisers to support his or her campaign. If the Democrats can keep the rate of contributions high through November, they may be able to drown out Trump’s messaging in the closing days of the campaign with a deluge of ads and outreach to voters.

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Impeachment Update: A Dem Says ‘Fine’ To Hunter Biden Testimony While GOP Considers ‘Kill Switch’ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/20/impeachment-update-a-dem-says-fine-to-hunter-biden-testimony-while-gop-considers-kill-switch/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/20/impeachment-update-a-dem-says-fine-to-hunter-biden-testimony-while-gop-considers-kill-switch/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2020 17:44:26 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58767 If Republicans want to make the trial brief, why do they want to call witnesses who have no knowledge of the phone call and the aid freeze?

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As the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump gets underway, senators are establishing ground rules for the proceeding. As we’ve reported before, it now seems likely that the Senate will hear witnesses and at least one Democratic senator is agreeable to the idea that Hunter Biden could be called to testify. At the same time, Republicans are floating the idea of a way to rapidly end the trial with a dismissal vote if things get out of hand.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said yesterday that he thought it would be “fine” if Hunter Biden was called to testify before the Senate. The son of Joe Biden, Hunter’s association with Ukrainian energy company Burisma has been called unethical by Republicans and is at the root of President Trump’s decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine.

“We take the position that we want to hear from the witnesses. I don’t know what Hunter Biden has to do with the phone call the President made,” Senator Brown said. “The point is we need witnesses, we need to know who they are with the right to call witnesses, additional witnesses later. But I don’t understand how you come to the American public, make the case that this is a real trial, if there are no witnesses and there is no new evidence.”

On Fox News, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said that the Senate guidelines would include reciprocity of witnesses.

“What does that mean?” Cruz asked rhetorically. “It means if the prosecution gets a witness, the defense gets a witness. If the prosecution gets two, the defense gets two. That means if the prosecution gets to call John Bolton, then the president gets to call Hunter Biden.”

There is so far no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of either Hunter or Joe Biden, but Republicans were critical of the House decision not to allow the Bidens to be called as witnesses during impeachment hearings in the lower body.

In other impeachment news, Fox reports that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is close to finalizing a rule that would implement a “kill switch” for the impeachment proceedings. The provision would act as a “safety valve” to prevent the trial from dragging on into the primary election season.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) told Axios that the resolution would “give the president’s team the option to either move to judgment or to move to dismiss at a meaningful time…” Hawley said that he would be “very, very surprised” if the organizing resolution for the trial did not include such a provision.

The difficulty for Republicans is that even if the rules for the trial allow the president’s supporters to move for a summary dismissal, so far there is not enough support among Republican senators for such a vote to pass. As Resurgent detailed last week, the Republican leadership has acknowledged that there are currently not enough votes to dismiss the matter without a full hearing.

The Senate is expected to pass an organizing resolution on Tuesday. The text of the resolution has not been released but CNN reports that it is expected to delay the issue of whether witnesses will be called until after opening arguments have been made. At a later point, senators will have an opportunity to vote on whether witnesses should be called. Polling has indicated broad support for calling more witnesses during the Senate trial.

The two Republican initiatives seem at odds with each other. The threat to call extraneous witnesses such as Hunter Biden would prolong the trial without offering insight into what Rudy Giuliani’s introductory letter to President Zelensky referred to as a private mission rather than one that involved Donald Trump’s role as president.

Republicans could accomplish their stated goal of keeping the trail brief by limiting witnesses to people who are material to the charges against President Trump, people who were involved with the phone call and the subsequent aid freeze. In that vein, one would expect Trump’s defense team to call witnesses who could exonerate the president on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction such as Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Mike Pence.

I wonder why they won’t.

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Voting Strategies For Trump Critics https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/19/voting-strategies-for-trump-critics/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/19/voting-strategies-for-trump-critics/#respond Sun, 19 Jan 2020 21:32:55 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58713 Before you obsess too much over how to vote in the presidential election, keep in mind that your vote will almost certainly not make a difference (unless you live in a swing state).

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The first caucuses and primaries are fasting approaching and that means it is almost decision time. The “decision” aspect of the upcoming primary season is especially difficult if you are conservative who doesn’t support President Trump. Maybe you opposed Trump in 2016. Maybe you are a past Trump supporter who now finds that yourself unable to vote for a second term for the president due to any of a number of reasons. Regardless, the question for many conservatives is how to vote if you don’t want to cast a vote for Donald Trump and aren’t crazy about any of the Democrats either.

The question is really two-fold. The first part of the decision is how to use your primary vote and the second part is the ultimate decision on how to handle the general election next November. Where you live may influence your choice in both cases.

Before I go any further, let me state plainly that the opinions in this article are my own. Most of my colleagues here at Resurgent have indicated that they plan to support the president’s re-election, some wholeheartedly and some with reservations. In my case, I opposed Trump in 2016 and then tried to give him the benefit of the doubt after he took office, hoping, as many others did, that he would rise to the occasion. In the end, however, the only significant way that Trump has changed since 2016 is to become a worse candidate. Needless to say, I won’t be voting Trump and had hoped to vote for a Republican alternative.

I live in Georgia, however, where the state Republican Party, in its infinite wisdom, decided not to allow challengers to Trump on the primary ballot. Even if you have other Republicans on your presidential primary ballot, however, you may not be happy with the alternatives or you might simply see it as a futile exercise to vote for a different Republican when Donald Trump has 80-90 percent support in the GOP.

In my case, there is little reason for me not to cross over and vote Democrat in Georgia’s open primary. Rather than submit a write-in vote against Trump, I can influence the Democratic primary by taking William F. Buckley’s advice and voting for the most conservative candidate who can win. In the Democratic primary, there won’t be any real conservatives (a statement that also applies to the Republican presidential primary in many states this year), but they are not all equally liberal. Joe Biden is not Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar is not Elizabeth Warren. There are several quizzes on the internet, such as this one from the Washington Post, that match your beliefs with candidates. A conservative won’t find a perfect match among Democrats but you can see which candidates are closest to your views.

Voters in states where Republican challengers are on the ballot face a more difficult choice. They must decide whether to vote in their Republican primary and register opposition to Trump or cross the aisle and vote for a moderate Democrat.

If you are considering changing parties in the primary, you should check with your local election officials. Not all states have open primaries that allow you to decide at the last minute. Some states require you to register as a party member to vote in the primary or caucus. Those deadlines for registering are rapidly approaching and may have already passed in some cases. You can find an online roundup of voter registration data here but check with your state and local officials to be sure.

After the primaries are decided, it will be time for the big decision. Who will I vote for in the general election? At this point, I don’t know.

Barring a miracle, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate but, we don’t yet know who the Democratic candidate will be. The obvious choice will be between Trump and the Democrat. Some have decided that any Democrat will be preferable to Donald Trump, but I am not there yet. There are Democrats that I would consider holding my nose and voting for and there are Democrats that I would not cast a ballot for any more than I will vote for Trump.

As a constitutional conservative/libertarian, it is painfully obvious that I’m not going to agree with either party nominee on policy. With Trump and the Republicans, I may like about half the policy but I’m not going to like the corruption and abuses of power. With Democrats, I’m not going to like much, if any, policy but I can hold out hope that they will at least be honest and law-abiding. I could see myself supporting such a unifying, caretaker Democrat but not a radical revolutionary Democrat.

The matter may become more complicated. Rep. Justin Amash, who I also agree with about half the time, is considering a third-party run as a Libertarian. I could also see myself supporting Amash, particularly if a Democrat from the progressive wing of the party is nominated.

If no candidate emerges that I can vote for without feeling the need to shower afterward, I reserve the right to use a write-in or a third party to cast a protest vote. For the first time in my life, I may also just sit out the election and let the chips fall where they may.

An additional consideration is whether to vote for down-ticket Republicans. Few, if any, Republicans have fulfilled their 2016 promises to hold Trump accountable. Are they deserving of re-election? If you base the answer to that question on how well they held Trump’s feet to the fire then the answer is almost invariably negative.

One strategy that I’m considering is to delay a decision on whether to support my local Republican congressman and senator until just before the election. If Trump looks likely to win re-election, I would be likely to support the Democrats, who have been willing to hold the president accountable where Republicans have not. If the Democrats are favored to win the White House, I would lean Republican. As an independent voter with a healthy distaste for both parties, my interests may be best fulfilled by preserving the stalemate between the executive and legislative branches.

Before you obsess too much over how to vote in the presidential election, keep in mind that your vote will almost certainly not make a difference. Given the numbers of voters in your state and the structure of the race with 50 states and the Electoral College to consider, your vote for president really doesn’t mean much. The 2016 election hinged on less than 100,000 votes confined to a handful of swing states.

In my home state of Georgia, the state is almost certain to vote for Trump no matter what I do, even though the president’s approval here is at -2 in the latest Morning Consult poll. If the election is ugly enough for Trump that the outcome in Georgia is in doubt, the outcome will have already been decided in the swing states. As a result, I feel no pressure to pull the lever either way. If you’re an independent voter in a swing state, the choice will be tougher.

For most of us, however, our biggest impact will be in congressional and local elections. In the presidential election, we are one vote out of 128 million before being diluted by the Electoral College. However, I am one out of 3.9 million voters in my state and one out of 292,000 in my congressional district who actually cast ballots in 2018. It doesn’t take a genius to see in which elections your vote carries more weight.

Do your research on the candidates and then, as Ted Cruz said several years ago, “Vote your conscience.”

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Watching The Movies: 1917 https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/18/watching-the-movies-1917/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/18/watching-the-movies-1917/#respond Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:00:52 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58711 The best World War I movie you'll see this year.

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2019 was a year of good movies, but I suspect that 1917, which saw limited release on Christmas Day, will be one of the standouts.

There really haven’t been that many WWI movies. The Great War has been overshadowed by its mid-century sequel so much that I could only think of Flyboys (2006), All Quiet On The Western Front (1979), and The Young Indiana Jone Chronicles (1992). I suppose we could add the 2017 reboot of Wonder Woman to the list as well if we want to move from the war movie genre to superhero flicks.

1917 is definitely a war movie, however. The story centers around an urgent mission undertaken by two British Tommies, the British version of American “GIs” or “grunts,” in April 1917. Lance Corporals Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) are tasked with getting a message to another British unit in time to stop an attack from meeting certain disaster. One of the soldiers they are attempting to save is Blake’s brother. The pair must travel across no man’s land, the area between the opposing trenches, and German lines to fulfill their quest. In some ways, the movie reminded me of Saving Private Ryan (1998) with its journey across a battlefield to save a life.

To some extent, WWI is a footnote in American history. The war began in 1914, but the US didn’t get directly involved until April 1917. The war ended about a year and a half later on November 11, 1918, a date familiar to modern Americans as Veteran’s Day. In those 19 months, the US lost 116,516 soldiers with more casualties due to the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic than combat. Compare this to about 7,000 American dead in the War on Terror.

In contrast, the other belligerents suffered about 10 million dead soldiers and another 10 million or so dead civilians in four years of fighting. The war devastated an entire generation in Britain, France, and Germany. WWI was a blend of modern weapons like machine guns, gas, tanks, and airplanes and old tactics like mass charges across open ground. The result was a bloody mess. By the end of the war, much of Europe, France in particular, was devastated by the fighting, the combatants were broke, and Russia was embroiled in a communist revolution.

But 1917 doesn’t focus on the big picture. The movie is centered on the two infantrymen and their quest. [I don’t plan to include plot spoilers so read on even if you haven’t seen the movie.]

I had heard the cinematography of 1917 was spectacular. After watching the movie, I can vouch for this.

1917 is filmed in one-shot style in which there is only one obvious cut, a transition from day to night. Otherwise, the viewers stay with the characters as they make their journey. This is different from most other films and lends to a feeling of immersion into the story.

The journey begins in a pastoral camp and continues through the trenches, a staple of the battlefields of the Western Front. From the dizzying and claustrophobic maze of trenches, the two Tommies move across a hellish landscape that includes the no man’s land, as barren as the lunar surface but filled with bodies, and a gutted and burning French city where German soldiers lurk like demons. Death is omnipresent in this world and one can only imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers who lived in it for months or years on end.

One of these soldiers was Alfred Mendes, the grandfather of writer-director Sam Medes. 1917 is not based on a true story, but it was inspired by the war stories that Lance Corporal Mendes told his children and grandchildren in his later years.

Even though 1917 is rated R, it is not inappropriate for older kids. It is suspenseful and dramatic and violent but the scenes of violence are no worse than you would see on network television. There is profanity in the form of F-bombs and some coarse joking, but much of this is almost unintelligible if you aren’t accustomed to the various British accents. Depictions of dead bodies could be disturbing.

One complaint about the film was the typical war movie complaint that the enemy soldiers don’t shoot well. Leaving the theater, my daughter commented that the Germans shot about as well as stormtroopers did.

1917 is a gripping war story, but it is also an anti-war movie. It reminds us that the soldiers who fight wars also make up the majority of the victims, along with the civilians who inhabit the areas being fought over. War is sometimes necessary because mankind is too often in the habit of being evil, but war is always a waste.

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Can Lev Parnas Be Trusted? https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/17/can-lev-parnas-be-trusted/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/17/can-lev-parnas-be-trusted/#respond Fri, 17 Jan 2020 18:52:17 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58699 The former Giuliani flunkie is naming names and presenting documentation for his claims.

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Lev Parnas, an indicted Republican fundraiser, has dropped a bombshell into the impeachment hearing in the form of mountains of notes, text messages, voicemails, pictures, and other documents relating to Rudy Giuliani’s shadow diplomacy in Ukraine. Parnas is naming names from President Trump on down as he spills the beans on what happened behind the scenes as the Trump Adminstration allegedly pushed President Zelensky to announce an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden. The big question is whether Parnas can be trusted.

The short answer is no. Parnas lacks credibility and has plenty of incentive to bend the truth in order to ingratiate himself to Congress and bargain his way out his own legal troubles. The longer answer is that what Parnas lacks in credibility, he makes up for in documentation.

For those who haven’t been following the emerging situation, Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested last October at Dulles International Airport just prior to leaving the country on one-way tickets. The pair were charged with attempting to funnel money from foreign governments to American elected officials. Both men were associates of Rudy Giuliani and were involved in Giuliani’s Ukrainian fishing expeditions for dirt on Joe Biden. Though both men were US citizens, Parnas was born in Ukraine and Fruman was born in Belorus, both former republics of the Soviet Union.

In early November, Parnas agreed to cooperate with the House impeachment probe. It was only this week, however, that a trove of documents from Parnas was made public by House investigators after receiving judicial approval. The document releases can be viewed here.  

Since Parnas himself is not a credible character, the documents that he has presented are more important than his own testimony, which so far has not been under oath. Some of the documents are more credible than others. For example, Parnas’ handwritten notes are questionable but a letter from Giuliani to Zelensky is more compelling.

The Giuliani letter is important in that it undercuts one of President Trump’s strongest defenses, namely that he was acting in the national interest. In the letter, Giuliani specifically claims that he represents Trump “as a private citizen, not as President of the United States.”

Also compelling are the series of text messages between Parnas and Robert Hyde, another Republican donor who is currently running for Congress in Connecticut. The pair’s now-famous message exchange indicated that US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was under their surveillance to the extent that they knew not only her location but whether her phone and computer were on. If the messages are genuine, it is very difficult to explain why they were keeping tabs on Yovanovitch for any reason that is not either creepy or sinister. If the messages are not genuine, it is difficult to explain why they were constructed to include Hyde, an unknown.

Interesting but not as damaging is Parnas’ undated note on a Ritz-Carlton-Vienna pad. One item on the to-do list reads, “Get Zalensky [sic] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.” The note supports previous testimony that Trump’s goal in withholding the Ukrainian aid money was to force the announcement, but without context such as a date, it is impossible to know if it is genuine or was created later.

While there may be some doubt about the note’s legitimacy, there is no doubt that Parnas himself is the real deal. Among the releases are text messages between Parnas and Giuliani, including one in which Giuliani told Parnas that he needed to get then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prosecutor General Lutsenko “on the record about the ambassador and Biden” and asked, “Can you make it happen?”

Parnas also appears in photographs with a veritable Who’s Who of Republican and Trump Administration officials including Giuliani, Kellyanne Conway, Mike Pence, and numerous poses with President Trump. Most of these officials deny knowing Parnas and say that they don’t recall taking the photos.

The piece de resistance, however, is a copy of an email from Jay Sekulow in which the president’s personal attorney writes to John Dowd, another lawyer who was also once an attorney for Trump, on the subject of “Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.” Sekulow told Dowd, “I have discussed the issue of representation with the president. The president consents to allowing your representation of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Furman [sic].” The obvious question here is why Donald Trump is involved at all in the legal representation of two low-level flunkies.

Lev Parnas is a sketchy character and his claims should be questioned and verified, but that does not mean that they are irrelevant. In the end, Parnas is one more link in the chain of evidence against Donald Trump along with the OMB and Pentagon emails released under the Freedom of Information Act that pointed to Trump as the source of the aid freeze, and the new GAO assessment that the president violated the law in withholding the aid. Parnas’ claims and evidence must be viewed within the context of other evidence and testimony to help complete the picture of what happened.

The revelations of the past few weeks both underscore the mistake Democrats made in rushing the impeachment vote and the fortunate decision of Speaker Pelosi in delaying the referral of the articles to the Senate. Without the delay, the new information would still be coming out but the Senate might already have dismissed the case. On the other hand, if Democrats had taken their time, they could have transmitted a more complete case to the Senate, where many Republicans seem determined to ignore any new information that has come out since December 18.

As the impeachment trial gets underway in the Senate, the one thing that seems is clear is that the more information that comes out, the worse things look for Donald Trump. While it is still extremely unlikely that Senate Republicans will vote for removal, Congress and the media will keep shining lights on the actions of Trump and his agents in Ukraine. If the president survives impeachment, the tales of his abuses of power and corruption may mean that his stay in the White House is only prolonged by a few months.

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We Had To Pass The China Trade Deal To Find Out What Was In It https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/15/we-had-to-pass-the-china-trade-deal-to-find-out-what-was-in-it/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/15/we-had-to-pass-the-china-trade-deal-to-find-out-what-was-in-it/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 23:35:41 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58628 Regardless of the details, avoiding more tariff escalations (i.e. tax increases) is a win for American business.

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President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed the “phase one” trade agreement today to much fanfare. The 86-page agreement was trumpeted by the president as a “big, beautiful monster,” but details of the deal were uncharacteristically absent prior to the signing.

The US Trade Representative published a two-page fact sheet about the deal more than a month ago after the agreement was announced, but the link was broken when I tried to retrieve it for this article. Nevertheless, the site does give some broad details such as, “The United States will be maintaining 25 percent tariffs on approximately $250 billion of Chinese imports, along with 7.5 percent tariffs on approximately $120 billion of Chinese imports.”

New fact sheets and the text of the entire agreement are now on the Trade Representative site. You can access those documents here. Among the items in the agreement are:

  • Intellectual Property concerns regarding pirated and counterfeit goods
  • Protection against unfair technology transfers
  • Increasing China’s purchases of US goods by $200 billion over 2017 levels
  • Commitments by China to refrain from devaluing its currency

Other, more difficult issues, such as Chinese industrial subsidies, are slated to be addressed in subsequent agreements. President Trump has hinted that there may be as many as three phases to the China deal.

Under the new deal, Mr. Trump’s tariffs are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future, but at least new rounds of tax increases have been staved off. The executive agreement does not have to be ratified by Congress.

As late as this morning, even Fox News had conflicting information from each side. US sources told Fox that Chinese purchases of US goods would “total $205 billion to $210 billion over two years while Chinese sources indicate the buys would be between $215 billion and $220 billion.” These figures include purchases of US agricultural products, manufactured goods, energy, and services. As noted above, the number cited by the US Trade Representative fact sheet is actually $200 billion.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox, “There’s a very detailed dispute-resolution process. This is an enforceable agreement just as the president dictated it would be.”

The Washington Post reports that the enforcement provisions a “process of consultations” to resolve disputes. The consultations will be backed up by the threat of – you guessed it – more tariffs.

Regardless of the details, markets have cheered the agreement. The most important detail may be simply that, at least for the time being, no new trade taxes will be applied to Chinese imports and exports. Even though the trade taxes remain higher than before the onset of the trade war, which has offset much of tax reform’s boost, the prospect of avoiding looming tax increases is a boon to beleaguered US agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

President Trump declared victory after the signing, saying, “Today we take a momentous step, one that has never been taken before with China, towards a future of fair and reciprocal trade.”

Now that the deal is signed and the agreement is public, economists and business groups can finally determine just how momentous that first step really is. Regardless of the details, avoiding more tariff escalations (i.e. tax increases) is a win for American business.

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House Refers Impeachment To Senate: Here Are The Details https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/15/house-refers-impeachment-to-senate-here-are-the-details/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/15/house-refers-impeachment-to-senate-here-are-the-details/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 22:21:14 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58623 The trial will start tomorrow as the Senate meets to lay out ground rules .

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The delaying tactics ended today as the House voted to send the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate. The impeachment will now move to the majority-Republican upper house for the trial of President Trump.

The vote to refer the articles and appoint impeachment managers fell mostly along party lines. The only defector in the 228-193 vote was Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) who voted with Republicans against the measure.

The impeachment managers who will present the case against the president are headed by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cal.), head of the intelligence committee, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), head of the judiciary committee. Other members of the prosecutorial team include Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), Rep. Jason Crow (D-Col.), and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas).

There was speculation that Pelosi would reach out to former Republican Rep. Justin Amash to join the impeachment team, but CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that Amash said that the Democrats never reached out to him. With Amash considering a presidential run, it makes sense that Pelosi would not want to give him a platform to gain national notoriety.

The first step for the Senate will be to pass an agreement defining the rules of the impeachment trial. This process will start tomorrow, January 16. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he would like the trial to follow the model set in the impeachment of President Clinton in 1999.

In the Clinton trial, witnesses were deposed behind closed doors in video-recorded sessions. Following the witnesses, each side presented closing arguments and the Senate deliberated behind closed doors. Senators were not allowed to speak during the testimony but were each given 15 minutes during the deliberations. Votes were held after deliberations concluded.

The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the impeachment trial. For Mr. Trump, that means that John Roberts is in charge of the proceedings. This induces a measure of uncertainty since McConnell cannot drive events as he normally does in the Senate. No one knows how active Roberts will be in his role. In the Clinton trial, William Rehnquist was largely a fly on the wall.

As I reported yesterday, Republicans now seem to lack the votes to dismiss the impeachment outright so the trial is likely to last for several weeks as witnesses present sworn testimony.

The prospect of witnesses leads to speculation that former National Security Advisor John Bolton will be invited to testify. This could set up another showdown since Bolton has previously said that he would honor a Senate subpoena, but the president has threatened to invoke executive privilege in an attempt to silence his former advisor.

Another early fight shaping up regards press access. Some senators have advocated new restrictions on the press for the duration of the trial. There is bipartisan opposition to these new rules, however.

For now, we’ll have to wait to see what ground rules senators agree to as the trial gets underway tomorrow.

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There May Be More Witnesses At Senate Impeachment Trial After All https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/14/there-may-be-more-witnesses-at-senate-impeachment-trial-after-all/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/14/there-may-be-more-witnesses-at-senate-impeachment-trial-after-all/#respond Tue, 14 Jan 2020 23:47:02 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58595 The only logical reason to oppose further investigation is if you believe that additional evidence will undermine your preconceived ideas about what happened.

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All hope is not lost for those who would like to see a real impeachment trial in the Senate rather than a pro forma acquittal of the president. When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced last week that he had the votes to move forward on a quickie trial without Democratic input, it seemed that the impeachment would be over in a jiffy. Now, however, it looks as though the House impeachment managers may have a chance to call witnesses in the Senate after all.

On Tuesday morning, CBS News reported that unnamed “senior White House officials” said that they expected several Republican defections in the upcoming vote to establish ground rules for the trial. In addition to the usual dissidents, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Mitt Romney of Utah, the report also named Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Corey Gardner of Colorado, and Rand Paul of Kentucky as Republicans who might possibly vote to hear additional witness testimony.

 Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the Senate’s number four Republican, confirmed Tuesday afternoon to The Hill that Republicans did not have the votes to dismiss the impeachment articles out of hand, saying, “I think our members generally are not interested in a motion to dismiss. … Certainly, there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to dismiss.”

McConnell, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, also said in a Fox News report that “All 53 of us [the Republican caucus] have reached an agreement,” but he did not say exactly what that agreement entailed. McConnel did hint that a decision on witnesses would be made “at the appropriate time” and that “both sides will call witnesses they want to hear from” at that time.

The possibility of more testimony and evidence is even more important in light of evidence that has come to light since the House impeachment vote last month. First, a Freedom of Information Act request unveiled emails that directly implicated Donald Trump in the freeze of aid to Ukraine. Then former National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate. Then Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, turned over thousands of pages of documents, text messages, and photos to House investigators. The Senate should also subpoena White House officials and Rudy Giuliani, who ignored subpoenas from the House.

The cracks in Republican opposition to a trial that allows new evidence may be the result of polling that shows voters strongly oppose a dismissal of the articles of impeachment. Morning Consult found that voters supported a trial with more witnesses by more than two-to-one. Majorities of Democrats and independents favored more witnesses while Republicans were almost evenly split on the question.

While it is by no means certain that the Senate will call additional witnesses, it is at least no longer a foregone conclusion that Senate Republicans will block additional testimony. Regardless of which side of the impeachment debate you stand on, this is a good thing. Hearing more witnesses and seeing more evidence would present an opportunity for the Senate to get to the truth of the matter.

If you are a Trump supporter and believe the president is innocent, then you should support additional testimony and evidence that may exonerate the president and, in so doing, embarrass the Democrats. If you are a Trump critic, you should support the deeper inquiry because further evidence may help build a more compelling case that Mr. Trump abused his office. The only logical reason to oppose further investigation is if you believe that additional evidence will undermine your preconceived ideas about what happened.

As Louis Brandeis famously said, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” American voters want sunlight to shine on the details of the Ukraine scandal and let the chips fall where they may. The Senate should honor their wishes.

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The Difference Between Iran And North Korea https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/13/the-difference-between-iran-and-north-korea/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/13/the-difference-between-iran-and-north-korea/#respond Mon, 13 Jan 2020 17:14:44 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58537 President Trump seeks new talks with North Korea while he threatens Iran.

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Call it “A Tale of Two Dictatorships.” There are two rogue nuclear states in the world (now that Saddam Hussein is gone) and the approach that President Trump (and past American presidents) differs starkly between the two. That difference was on display in recent weeks as the president attacked Iran, both literally and figuratively, while proposing new talks with North Korea.

Two weeks after a drone strike on Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani brought the two nations to the brink of war, Axios is reporting that President Trump has proposed new talks with North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un. The story cites national security advisor Robert O’Brien, who is quoted as saying, “We’ve reached out to the North Koreans and let them know that we would like to continue the negotiations in Stockholm that were last undertaken in early October.”

President Trump has met with Kim twice at this point, first in June 2018 and again in June 2019. Despite assurances, North Korea has continued testing missiles. Talks broke down last October when North Korea issued a statement accusing the US of a “hostile policy towards the DPRK.”

Throughout the process, President Trump has maintained a friendly attitude towards Chairman Kim. The president covered for the diminutive dictator’s missile launches, denying that the test launches violated their agreement and showing “no interest” in North Korea’s missile program according to aides. The president even sent birthday greetings to Kim earlier this week.

Contrast President Trump’s behavior towards North Korea with his approach to Iran. After the Soleimani strike and Iran’s retaliatory missile attack, the president said in his address to the nation, “As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”

While both Iran and North Korea are state sponsors of terrorism and international pariahs, the big difference between the two is that North Korea already has a nuclear weapon while Iran does not. Therefore, North Korea is feted while Iran is threatened.

This calculus was undoubtedly under consideration when Iran’s leaders announced the withdrawal from President Obama’s nuclear deal following Soleimani’s death. It is probably clear to Iran’s leaders that they would not be subject to drone strikes if they had their own nuclear weapon.

While Obama’s nuclear deal was a bad idea that, at best, delayed the Iranian nuclear program and always included the possibility of cheating, the IAEA said as recently as May 2019, almost a year after President Trump canceled the deal, that Iran was still in compliance with the terms of the deal. Afterward, Iran began taking progressive steps to breach the deal in hopes of convincing the US to return to the table. Now, Iran has totally canceled compliance which speeds up the timetable for a confrontation over the nuclear ambitions of the mullahs.

Questions in the aftermath of the Soleimani attack have also undercut President Trump’s credibility. The Trump Administration claimed that there was information that the Iranian general was plotting imminent attacks against what President Trump claimed were four US embassies.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper threw the president under the bus yesterday, telling interviewers, “I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies.″

There are no easy answers to the problems of North Korea and Iran. President Trump’s charm offensive against Kim Jong Un seems to be stymied and the Soleimani attack makes quashing Iran’s nuclear efforts more difficult. Without the deal, there is less time to find a solution and the president’s propensity to bend the truth makes putting together a coalition more difficult.

In the end, neither North Korea nor Iran is ever going to voluntarily end their nuclear programs. They realize that nuclear deterrence may be the only thing that prevents a US-led “regime change” effort or more targeted drone strikes. The two countries will always be willing to talk but the talks will never lead anywhere.

North Korea’s nuclear genie is out of the bottle and won’t be going away short of a long, bloody war. Iran can be stopped but doing so may similarly lead to a prolonged conflict. The irony is that stopping either the North Korean or Iranian nuclear programs may spur other countries to decide that they too need a nuclear deterrent.

After the 1991 Gulf War, India’s chief of army staff said that a lesson of the conflict was “Don’t fight the Americans without nuclear weapons.” Iran and North Korea have both learned that lesson well.

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House War Powers Resolution Gets Bipartisan Support https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/10/house-war-powers-resolution-gets-bipartisan-support/ https://theresurgent.com/2020/01/10/house-war-powers-resolution-gets-bipartisan-support/#respond Fri, 10 Jan 2020 15:47:03 +0000 https://theresurgent.com/?p=58476 Perhaps Congress should revisit the authorizations for Afghanistan and Iraq instead.

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Seeking to head off an escalated confrontation between the United States and Iran, the House passed a resolution yesterday that would “terminate” hostilities between the two countries unless Congress declared war or force was needed to defend against an “imminent” attack against the US or its forces. The resolution may be largely moot now that the Trump Administration and the Iranians both seem to be standing down, but the resolution does raise interesting constitutional questions.

The Constitution specifically grants Congress the ability to declare war but makes the president the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Many, such as Rep. Justin Amash, read these passages of the Constitution to understand that the president cannot commit troops offensively without congressional authorization. The problem is that the Constitution does not say this explicitly.

A second problem is that presidents have been sending troops on offensive missions without congressional authorization for about as long the United States has been a country. Max Boot has fallen out of favor with Republicans since he became a “Never Trumper” but his excellent book, “The Savage Wars of Peace,” is the definitive history of America’s undeclared wars. One of the earliest examples is Thomas Jefferson’s war against the Barbary pirates all the way back in 1801.

Today, the water is further muddied by the 1973 War Powers Resolution. Passed in the closing days of the Vietnam War, the WPR, which became law over President Nixon’s veto, requires that the president “consult” with Congress before deploying US forces into combat “in every possible instance.” In any case, the president must report such deployments to the Speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate within 48 hours. The report must include the circumstances, the constitutional and legislative authority which led to the deployment, and the estimated scope and duration of the employment. The WPR also places a limit of 60 days on the use of military forces without a declaration of war or a congressional authorization.

This does not constitute a blank check for short-term military action, however. The WPR stipulates that, in the absence of a declaration of war or statutory authorization, the president only has the authority to commit troops if there is “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

Presidents of both parties have often considered the WPR to be an unconstitutional limitation of their constitutional authority but no court has ever ruled on the issue. Presidents have largely abided by the law’s requirements for consultation and notification with a few notable exceptions. President Clinton exceeded the 60-day limit with his 1999 bombing campaign in Kosovo but ultimately received a congressional authorization. In 2011, President Obama never received authorization for his bombing campaign in Libya but claimed that his actions were legal because US involvement had been decreased to a supporting role under NATO’s leadership.

In the case of the War on Terror, the situation gets muddier still. Congress did not declare war on either Afghanistan or Iraq but did pass authorizations to use military force (AUMFs) in both cases. While people who claimed that the wars were illegal because Congress did not declare war are wrong, the matter is complicated by the fact that current interventions are still being carried out on the basis of these nearly-20-year-old authorizations with no expiration date.

There is debate among conservatives as to whether this is kosher. Rep. Amash says “no,” particularly when it comes to new hostilities in Iran.

On the other hand, David French argues that the 2002 AUMF covered the initial attack against Soleimani since it took place in Iraq where US troops were operating under congressional authorization. What’s more, Soleimani was a combatant who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of US troopers. However, retaliating in Iran would require new congressional authorization in French’s view.

That authorization to use force against Iran, as well as the loophole for short deployments, is what House Democrats want to deny President Trump. The new resolution, which will go to the Senate where it will die a slow and painful death, is even more restrictive than the 1973 WPR. The bill, which runs just longer than four pages, expressly prohibits the president from striking Iran without permission from Congress unless it is to “defend against an imminent armed attack.”

Even though the resolution will not become law, it does have bipartisan support. Three House Republicans, Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), and Francis Rooney (Fla.), voted in favor of passage, as did former Republican Justin Amash. In the Senate, Republicans Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) have expressed support for the measure.

Even though the resolution will ultimately fail, President Trump should not take that as a green light to strike Iran. First, the president’s January 5 tweet, which he claims serves as notice to Congress, does not meet the requirements of the WPR. Second, after almost two decades of fighting in the Middle East, voters oppose a new conflict with Iran by large margins. There is very little public support for escalation so an AUMF against Iran would be difficult to pass.

The bottom line here is that the Democrat resolution won’t pass, but President Trump doesn’t really have the authority or public support to launch a pre-emptive war against Iran anyway. With both sides de-escalating, the crisis appears to have passed, at least for the moment.

Rather than wasting time on restating the president’s authority with respect to Iran, Congress might be more productive revisiting the old AUMFs that have been on the books for almost two decades. These open-ended resolutions defer too much congressional authority to the executive branch and ought to be updated to address current threats. Congress should also add an expiration date.

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