Saturday, November 30, 2019

PLATT - send TMD

TMD: What to Expect in December

Is USMCA happening? How about prescription drug legislation?

Nov 29Public post
Happy Friday! Whether you were watching Mitch Trubisky and the Bears squeak past the hapless Lions, Thor the bulldog bring home the National Dog Show gold, or Astronaut Snoopy floating low over Manhattan, we hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by family, friends, and food.

Quick Hits: What You Need To Know

  • President Trump made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Thursday, visiting with troops and meeting with Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani. Trump told reporters that peace talks with the Taliban have been reopened, and that he hopes to reduce the U.S. presence in the country from 14,000 troops to 8,600.
  • Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law on Wednesday night, standing with the protesters in the region and angering China’s President Xi amid contentious trade talks.
  • The Justice Department’s inspector general report due out early next month is expected to thwart President Trump’s claim that the FBI was spying on his campaign.
  • Gordon Sondland, President Trump’s ambassador to the EU and star impeachment witness, was accused of sexual misconduct by three women earlier this week.

On the Agenda: The House and USMCA

In Wednesday’s TMD, we gave you a brief overview of what to expect next in the House’s impeachment inquiry. This morning, we wanted to take advantage of the holiday lull in those proceedings to talk about another important matter currently before the House: approval of the Trump administration’s trilateral trade deal, USMCA. 
For the past 25 years, the United States has enjoyed essentially free trade with both Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. President Trump spent much of his 2016 campaign railing against NAFTA, and the first half of his term threatening to pull the U.S. out of it and slap heavy tariffs on Mexican and Canadian imports. Fortunately, that never came to pass: Instead, last September, the White House managed to strike a new trade deal with our neighbors, dubbed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. USMCA is essentially a face-lifted, modernized NAFTA: Among other tweaks, it gives the U.S. access to Canada’s dairy market and includes new provisions governing intellectual property and digital trade, sectors of the economy that the 20th-century agreement didn’t cover. By and large, however, the new agreement serves the same purposes as did the old.
Which works just fine: The three nations get to keep their mutually beneficial trading relationship, and Trump gets to claim he won a fantastic new victory for American workers. Everybody wins!
The pact’s path to law was complicated, however, when Democrats reclaimed the House a year ago. Instead of enjoying a cakewalk through a GOP-controlled Congress, Trump needed to secure Nancy Pelosi’s go-ahead for the deal. Since June, a working group of Democrats has been negotiating with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for a number of tweaks related to issues including agreement enforcement and protections for labor. Pelosi originally hoped to hammer negotiations out by Thanksgiving; now, with talks seemingly dragging along just at the final stage, it’s an open question whether they’ll strike a deal by Christmas—and vanishingly unlikely it will come before the House for a vote before the new year.
The USMCA is an odd bill—a new trade agreement whose primary purpose is to maintain the status quo—and it’s currently at an odd stage. Everybody involved wants to pass the thing; free trade between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada is an incredible economic boon to all three countries. (The pressure to hustle is not too strong, given that NAFTA remains in force pending USMCA’s ratification.)
But Democrats are determined that USMCA’s eventual passage not be seen as a victory for the White House alone: Pelosi wants swing-district members of her caucus to have the opportunity to run on the bill in 2020 as well. By using her control of the House as a lever to twist the White House’s arm, she’s given some of those members the opportunity to put their fingerprints on it. 
The result has been a slightly comical public standoff between Pelosi and Trump. Although the bill they’re hashing out is, for all intents and purposes, NAFTA 2.0, both leaders have a political incentive to denounce the old agreement as broken and unworkable. And although they’re on the verge of an amicable resolution that they both want to see, they are still publicly accusing each other of dragging their heels—Pelosi, characteristically dry, pointing out that Democrats are waiting for Lighthizer to make the last move; Trump, characteristically bombastic, telling reporters Pelosi is “incapable of moving it” and tweeting that USMCA is “dead in the water.”  
Even besides USMCA and impeachment, there’s plenty else that the House has to attend to as well before Christmas. Pelosi’s own marquee piece of drug pricing legislation (which is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate) is out of committee and needs a vote on the House floor. And there’s a little matter of keeping the lights on: Congress and the White House have until December 20 to negotiate a new spending bill, or failing that, pass another continuing resolution to fund the government temporarily. When the House reconvenes Monday, they’ll have two weeks to work with before everyone heads back to their districts Dec. 11. Better get cracking. 

On the Agenda: Everywhere Else

Outside the House, things are less frenetic—for the moment. 
In the Senate, business proceeds pretty much as it has since the midterms: Mitch McConnell ignores the bills the House sends his way and spends his session days busily confirming one Trump-appointed judge after another. Meanwhile, his caucus fidgets and keeps an eye on impeachment proceedings, bracing for a trial in the new year. 
The Supreme Court is working through its case docket, preparing for, in particular, a pair of potential landmark cases to be argued early next year: One involving the constitutionality of the Obama-established Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the other considering Louisiana’s recent very restrictive abortion law. In the shorter term, however, they may find themselves forced to weigh in on impeachment-related matters: The Trump administration seems determined to fight some congressional subpoenas all the way to their door, and Chief Justice John Roberts will preside in the event of a Senate trial. 

Worth Your Time

Too much hard news isn’t a good beginning to a morning spent working off a half-pound of stuffing, so we’ll leave it there for now. Instead, we recommend you use that time to sit back, loosen your belt, and enjoy a few of these great longreads:
  • The indispensable Matt Labash turns a baleful eye toward a subject near and dear to our hearts—podcasting—in a great new piece for Spectator USA. In it, he laments the current deluge of downloadable yakkery that haunts our age: “Podcasts have achieved such ubiquity that I might even host one or two myself, and just can’t remember what they are or where to report for duty. … [S]ince Serial took off in 2014, studies I’ve fabricated but that should exist show there are now more true-crime podcasts than criminals.” (Naturally we maintain a couple episodes of The Remnant would turn this thing right around for him, although we’re a little nervous to broach the subject in person.)
  • The United States has certainly been more divided than it is right now (hundreds of thousands died in the Civil War), but it sure feels like polarization is at an all-time high. In looking for a solution, Andy Ferguson asks: Can marriage counseling save America? Check out his piece in The Atlantic here.
  • One of the oldest family-owned farms in the country is calling it quits after 240 years and seven generations. Check out Corey Kilgannon’s piece in the New York Times to learn why Frank and Sherry Hull are far from alone: “Scores of small farms across the country close each year because their aging proprietors don’t have successors.”
  • Ryan Lizza’s profile of Barack Obama for Politico is a must, delving into 44’s life after the presidency, what he thinks about Trump, and the role he is playing in the Democratic primary.
  • For National Affairs, Donald Schneider took a look at the modern American economy, elites, and why populism has taken root on both the left and the right.
  • In 1963, Filmmaker Michael Apted began his documentary series 7 Up! by interviewing a group of 7-year-olds in London in 1963. He has checked in on the kids—as they became teenagers, young adults, and old adults—every seven years. The newest edition, “63 Up,” attempts to answer the question: “Does who you are at 7 determine who you are at 63?” Gideon Lewis-Kraus explores.

Presented Without Comment

Something Patriotic

Amazing what a little moral leadership can do. This clip may bring a tear to your eye:

Toeing The Company Line

  • No days off for David, who pumped out a French Press yesterday despite the holiday. The topic? Gratitude, naturally. Give it a read here
  • Jonah was also in the Thanksgiving spirit, delivering a midweek G-File on identity politics and why we don’t need them at the dinner table. He was also joined by Yuval Levin on The Remnant podcast to discuss gratitude and the importance of community.

Let Us Know

Whether you (correctly) believe that the Christmas season begins November 1 or you’re the type to stay Scroogey until after the Thanksgiving wishbone’s been cracked, there’s no denying it now: It is now officially the most wonderful time of the year. Alas, peace on earth and goodwill among men hasn’t yet entirely swept through the office at The Dispatch, as evidenced by some in-house holiday beverage bickering.
Dear reader, help us settle the question: Is eggnog indispensable festivity fuel, or a lardy emblem of the dreaded holiday hangover?
Reporting by Declan Garvey, Andrew Egger, and Steve Hayes.
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Thursday, November 14, 2019


Horrific home inspections: The strangest, scariest things inspectors have seen during their visits

Facing ???Certain Death,??? Teenager With Vaping Injury Gets Double Lung Transplant [???What I saw in his lungs is like nothing I???ve seen before, and I???ve been doing lung transplants for 20 years,??? Dr. Nemeh said.]

New York Identifies Hospitals and Nursing Homes With Deadly Fungus

Pneumonic Plague Is Diagnosed in China

Polio in Nigeria: 'I opposed vaccinations until my son caught polio'

Excessive brain activity linked to a shorter life

When my son Googled me, we both learned a painful lesson about the Internet

I need a digital mood ring

Rogue Report

Where Civility Is a Motto, a School Integration Fight Turns Bitter

Disney+ slaps content warning for 'outdated cultural depictions' on classic animated movies

Missouri high school football coach, team under fire for ???illegal??? prayer after complaint from atheist group

???Right to Repair??? Does Not Mean the Right to Intellectual Property

Mandatory Shortages

Boys and girls have an equal aptitude for math ??? so why are there are so few women in higher paying STEM jobs?

England floods: What is making them worse?

The wonderful world of insects -- 11/13/19

Electric car future may depend on deep sea mining

Malware developers are betting you'll be fooled by 'Donald Trump Screen of Death'

iSpy? Facebook Is Using Your iPhone???s Camera Behind Your Back

No, There Is NO Major 'Hate Crime' Problem

Next in Google???s Quest for Consumer Dominance: Banking

Google defends amassing health data on millions of people

Court finds fault with warrantless searches of global travelers' laptops, phones

China wants to build its own Yellowstone

New impeachment czar will glue together unwieldy White House strategy

Dems trot out new charge as initial focus of impeachment hearings falls flat

GOP senator: Republicans don't have votes to dismiss impeachment articles

Trump denies knowledge of call mentioned in impeachment hearing [The aid was eventually released and Ukraine did not make a public statement about the investigations.]

Appeals court clears way for Congress to seek Trump financial records

Mayor Pete Buttigieg catapults ahead of Dem field in new Iowa poll

Warren Will Win The Dem Primary Race

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end ??? 
which you can never afford to lose ??? with the discipline to confront
the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."
        - VAdm James Stockdale, USN (1923-2005)


Krauthammer:?? The authoritarian temptation

A game you can't win

Who Should Win the Nobel Peace Prize?

University of Virginia Cancels 21-Gun Salute to Appease Snowflake Students

??? Food and Wine magazine says PepsiCo is test marketing a Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew in college campuses. You can't make it up, the finest chemists that money can buy are busy testing the refreshment value of cheese-flavored taco chips mixed with Mountain Dew. It sends a clear message to the world from America, and that message is this: we will get to the cure for Ebola when we get to it.

The News in Zingers

N.F.L. Invites Teams to Watch Colin Kaepernick Work Out on Saturday

Spain and Mexico's silver curse -- 11/12/19

Warren???s ???2 Cents??? Come at Your Expense

Most Destructive Hurricanes Now 3x More Frequent Than They Were a Century Ago ( .. or, maybe not ...)

NYT Science Times: Ultra-Black Is the New Black

Is China gaining an edge in artificial intelligence?

Space war threats from China, Russia getting new U.S. assessment

???The Suspect??? Review: Collateral Damage

Antivirus guru John McAfee thinks Jeffrey Epstein was murdered

Iowa paid a security firm to break into a courthouse, then arrested employees when they succeeded

Google???s ???Project Nightingale??? Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans

Project Nightingale: Google accesses trove of US patient data

Google???s ???Project Nightingale??? Triggers Federal Inquiry

Iran nuclear deal: IAEA finds uranium particles at undeclared site

The Court and the Dreamer Pawns

Divided Supreme Court leans toward allowing Trump to end DACA

After the Great Orange Whale

Gregg Jarrett: The Trump impeachment inquiry is already in big trouble. Here's who Democrats have to thank

There???s a Surprisingly Plausible Path to Removing Trump From Office

'Money-making enterprise': Intelligence officer files complaint over whistleblower donations

How the Senate can stop a purely partisan impeachment

Burisma Cited Biden as It Lobbied Government To Reverse Corruption Charges

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end ??? 
which you can never afford to lose ??? with the discipline to confront
the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."
        - VAdm James Stockdale, USN (1923-2005)