Bill Owens: This Week's Confounding And Confusing Events 2/7/19

Feb 7, 2019

The State of the Union went off without any significant or unusual outbursts or demonstrations.  POTUS gave the anticipated speech and the Democratic response was similarly what was anticipated.  There were no remarkable disclosures that had not been previously vetted in the news media, particularly as it relates to the Wall, North Korea and the economy.  There was one startling event and that was the Anchor’s interview with Mr. Trump in the afternoon preceding the State of the Union, in which POTUS trashed, and I want to emphasize, trashed, Mr. Biden- he’s dumb, again referred to Senator Warren as Pocahontas- not sure there is enough DNA to prove that one, and, Mr. Schumer was called a nasty son of a *****, and Governor Northam as “choking like a dog.”, maybe that’s appropriate.  Then POTUS talked unity and working together- go figure.  

Huawei is in the news again, as the US doubles down alleging industrial spying.  The US continues to seek the extradition of a Huawei executive from Canada.   China trade talks recently concluded with the US issuing a statement on January 31, 2019, and enumerating the issues addressed and ended with a strong threat on tariffs with POTUS claiming tremendous progress.  China asserted in the South China Post that the talks were frank and made important progress. 

The US and the Taliban announced a framework for peace which raises all kinds of interesting questions.  Will the Afghan democratically elected government be able to continue in power, or will the Taliban simply overrun it and impose a dictatorship?

Seventeen Democrats and Republicans have formed a House Conference Committee made up of appropriators from both Houses, and based upon my knowledge of a majority of these people, they are intelligent, sensible and rational.  Most importantly, there are no hardliners on immigration on the Republican side.  It strikes me that Mr. Trump will get some wall money for a more substantive immigration reform including the “Dreamers”, of course this fickle President could easily change his mind after a deal is struck, and either renege on it, or simply fail to enforce it.  If a deal is not struck, I doubt the government goes into shutdown again.  I am equally confident that President Trump will exercise what he believes to be his national emergency powers.  This will allow the promise to be kept, but the matter will be tied up in litigation for years so it is unlikely that wall construction will actually occur. 

Ann Coulter, and other conservatives lost their minds when the deal was struck to reopen the government without any wall funding.  Lou Dobbs stated that Trump was “whipped” by Pelosi.  Mr. Trump constantly refers to members of DHS as fully supporting the wall and saying it is essential.   Then again, Mr. Trump said with much derision, during the shutdown, that most federal workers were democrats.  So if most DHS employees are democrats, do they support the wall; following POTUS logic, I think the answer is no. I doubt that very few Americans have any actual knowledge of how to achieve the greatest level of security at the southern border.  

The acting Attorney General announced this week that he believes Mr. Mueller’s investigation is just about done, and will wrap-up shortly.  The indictment of Roger Stone and Roger Stone’s announcement that he would cooperate may create an interesting twist.  Of course, Mr. Stone followed-up by saying that he would not “flip” on the President, if he did, he would be lying.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t others who he is not quite so loyal to in the Trump family, that he might flip on?

A polar vortex swept through the mid-west, and seems to be less intense in our region.  The world has had a number of ice ages and as I am wondering as the world warms, is there a potential for it to suddenly flip from warming to freezing?  The impact of an Ice Age would be equally devastating as global warming. 

Russian Su-35 fighters buzzed the US coast, and of course, Russia asserts that they chased away American fighters.  What is really interesting to me, is the deafening silence from the White House.  If this was any other President there would have been a major announcement about the inappropriateness of this activity by the Russians, and a pledge to defend the United States.  Silence!

The Administration’s National Security Team briefed Congress earlier in the week of January 28th and conveyed an assessment of North Korea, China and Syria that was at significant odds with the President’s views.  The President’s response was to say that they needed to go back to school, I think he may be confused as to whom should be going to school. He subsequently indicated that he had a meeting with this group and they were all on board.  The silence from the National Security Team after these statements raised questions about the accuracy of the President’s statements.   Is this more of Mr. Trump playing to Mr. Putin? Or is he simply unable or unwilling to rely on the people who actually have the knowledge and experience.

The Super Bowl happened this past Sunday, with Tom Brady being the oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl.  Bill Belichick created a defense that stymied the Kansas City Chiefs and the Rams entered the Super Bowl as a result of a blown call (actually two blown calls on the same play).  It was old school defensive football.  All those who say Coach McVay had changed the NFL, might have to think again, actually, it was Coach Belichick who took it back.

Mr. Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford Owens in Plattsburgh, NY and a Senior Advisor to Dentons to Washington, DC.

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