October 18, 2018

Death of Saudi Journalist Khashoggi

The U.S. has asked Turkey for a recording that could reveal gruesome details of what happened to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump said Wednesday... [Trump] has repeatedly noted Saudi leaders’ denials since [Khashoggi’s disappearance] and insisted the U.S. must know the facts before taking action."

AP News

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From the Left

The left is condemning Trump’s tepid response.

“For decades, successive US administrations pursued a similar path in the Middle East: security, military and diplomatic cooperation with repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, at the expense of promoting human rights and democracy. But several former presidents, including George W Bush and Barack Obama, obscured that reality with lofty rhetoric about respecting human rights. Trump dropped that pretense...

“By abandoning the veneer of US concern about political reforms and protecting dissidents, Trump... emboldened the region’s autocrats to become even more reckless and brutal.”

The Guardian

“This is the president who said it’s ‘great’ that Xi is declaring himself ruler for life, praised Duterte for the ‘unbelievable job’ he was doing ‘on the drug problem,’ congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan for winning a rigged referendum that spelled the death of Turkish democracy and declared his ‘love’ for Kim Jong Un of North Korea... This is a good time to be a dictator — and a dangerous time to be a dissident. Trump has given every despot on the planet a license to kill without worrying about the U.S. reaction. Because, in all likelihood, there will be none."

Washington Post

“If the Trump administration is eager to give the Saudis the benefit of the doubt, there is some reassurance to be had from the continuing pressure being applied from other quarters – an unlikely, but welcome, assortment of politicians, diplomats, human-rights organizations, free-speech activists, journalists, and bloggers... If more details emerge, Trump and the Saudis may find that controversies can no longer be so easily parked in the age of social media."

Bloomberg

Many argue that “despite relentless Republican attacks, the benefits provided [by the ACA] -- guaranteed insurance and coverage of pre-existing conditions -- are now seen by many as a benefit to which they're entitled. Moving to Medicare for those who want it is a logical next step toward a single-payer option, one that maintains choice for millions of Americans… 56% of Americans say they support full Medicare for All… [but] when voters are presented with the full details of the Sanders and Warren plans, support falls dramatically… I believe it's critical for Democrats to maintain their advantage on health care going into 2020, and the best way to do that is to reject Medicare for All and embrace Medicare for those who want it.”
Joe Lockhart, CNN

The political calendar and Trump's approach could give grounds for optimism. Kim, who has presided over a limited form of economic development inside North Korea, is under pressure to deliver improvements in the lives of his people… So he has an incentive to try to seek economic benefits or aid from the United States and wants punishing economic sanctions lifted — a potential opening for US negotiators… Kim must realize that his chances of basking in this kind of legitimacy with a US President other than Trump are slim. So if he fears Trump could lose in 2020, he may reason the time may be ripe for a deal. And Trump wants nothing more than a big diplomatic breakthrough months before the election.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right condemns Khashoggi’s alleged murder, but worries about the geopolitical consequences of punishing Saudi Arabia.

From the Right

The right condemns Khashoggi’s alleged murder, but worries about the geopolitical consequences of punishing Saudi Arabia.

“Punishing [Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman] and his underlings is absolutely necessary. America must deter such behavior and show its revulsion. But Saudi Arabia hasn’t been a paragon of human rights at any time during our century-old alliance. Meanwhile, the Iranian regime chants ‘death to America’ and behaves as badly as the Saudis, or worse. Tehran mustn’t emerge as a winner from our justified outrage against Riyadh."

New York Post

“President Trump must exact a meaningful and public price for the Khashoggi affair but tread a fine line that maintains a commitment to the bilateral relationship [with Saudi Arabia]... the Saudis will squawk publicly over this, but privately will understand — and so will the rest of the Arab/Muslim world, which will be watching closely."

Daily Caller

Some argue that “militarily the Saudis have been a major customer for U.S. arms and aircraft but have done little with them to support allied interests... A realistic policy needs to be based on honest intelligence estimates, telling the truth to the American people about the Saudi role in funding terrorism and a serious assessment about what role the Saudis can play in the Middle East."

Washington Times

Finally, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) states, “We should not send one more dime, one more soldier, one more adviser, or one more arms deal to the kingdom... It isn’t enough to talk tough and then give the Saudis what they want. We have to force their hand into real reforms, internally and abroad. With the outrage caused by their recent actions, now is the time for bipartisan corrective action.”

Fox News

“Not only did [Trump] attack the ‘squad,’ he managed to do it in a way in which no other prominent Democrat can continue to criticize them publicly, lest they be perceived as echoing the president’s contention that they should go back where they came from. At the exact moment the accusations and counter-accusations were set to do lasting damage, Trump just had to jump in and give them an attack that would unify them all. It often seems like Trump would rather have a bad news cycle that focuses on him than a beneficial news cycle that focuses on someone else… Everyone around the president can read a poll and knows that his rage-tweeting is a liability; it is perhaps the biggest liability in a presidency that, with prosperity and a perception of peace, ought to be comfortably cruising to reelection.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

New Zealand votes tipsy pigeon bird of the year.

BBC

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