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Impeachment Delayed is America Imperiled

It looks to me increasingly likely that the Trump presidency will end with his removal from office through impeachment (despite the effort of the...

Saturday News: Corrupt, Incompetent Trump “risks diplomatic blowup in Asia”; Sarah...

by Lowell Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, December 3. Also see President Obama's weekly address, which...

Hillary’s Waterloo Is Along the Road to Damascus

Hillary Clinton photo 130904Hillary_Clinton_zpsf69a494b.jpg This has to be a particularly uncomfortable moment for Hillary Clinton. She was an architect of this Syrian dilemma by omission and commission. Her team has been hoping we would ignore that. The statement that was released on her behalf was nuanced for deniability. Like her vote on Iraq, spineless.

"Secretary Clinton supports the president's effort to enlist the Congress in pursuing a strong and targeted response to the Assad regime's horrific use of chemical weapons."

There is no escape for this pretender this time. And it really doesn't matter that the situation in the Middle East is the culmination of a decade or more of national arrogance that overlays a crumbling economic foundation. Ms. Clinton bought a permanent stake in this when she cast her vote at that very important moment supporting George Bush's war. When she had an opportunity to redeem herself and demonstrate her moxie as Secretary of State, she didn't.

There have been too many missteps to count regarding Syria alone. And throughout this period, her understudy, Susan Rice, now the National Security Advisor, was completely ineffective in her role as Ambassador to the United Nations. Every bit of this has Hillary's signature all over it. And this will weigh her down throughout her campaign for 2016.

The Russian reset is part and parcel of this situation; Hillary owns that. At a time when Clinton's State Department team was sending out feelers to Assad's opposition, inviting representatives to meet with our Ambassador to Syria, we were handing Assad's benefactor a trump card. Unexpectedly, as the opposition transitioned to the use of organized violence, something happened to change Hillary's opinion of Assad and to cast him as a reformer. No wonder the Russians and their client read the tea leaves the way they did. Meanwhile, Senator McCain was allowed or maybe even encouraged to traipse around the region as though he had any ability to discern the situation on the ground. But that fit with Hillary's penchant for wanting to have it both ways. The United States could be seen supporting both sides.

Rachel Maddow’s Take-down of Mitt’s Minimal Foray into Foreign Policy.

Mitt Romney is so incompetent in the area of foreign policy, he mostly just doesn't talk about it. It was absent altogether from his acceptance speech. It has surfaced only minimally on other occasions, notably to make outrageous statements about the Arab Spring.

This week Rachel Maddow presented some really important information about Mitt's foreign investments as they relate to his foreign policy. Rachel's done some excellent shows of late. But this video demonstrates how she drives me crazy.  She is a brilliant woman. So, someone must have told her to dumb things down, to talk painfully slowly, to take nineteen minutes to explain something that can take much less. We have a limited amount of time to inform the public about what's wrong with the GOP argument. This will not do.

So here 'tis abreviated:

* 2005: CNOOC tried to take over Unocal, a California oil company.  This was blocked by the US Interagency Committee on Foreign Investments, headed by the US Treasury Secretary.
* Then it tried to by a Canadian oil company,, which drills in our Gulf Coast, within US territorial waters.

IKEA, Stihl, Others Staying Without Handouts

Without gifts from the Governor or a phone call while he was in town, they're still here. McDonnell's European itinerary ignored business partners. Apparently his concept of trade is soybeans, timber, and wine in exchange for German autos. Potentially a long-term barter arrangement is in the cards; never industrial expansion.

Bent on turning Virginia into an agrarian backwater where oversimplified mantras can survive in the protective bubble of isolation, Governor McDonnell continues to push products for which there is plenty of demand and very little justification or opportunity for increased production. And even if the demand justifies expansion, the number of middle class jobs that could be created remains at the margin. Raw materials rather than manufactured goods seem to be the order of the day...skipping the entrepreneur and any hope of value added. See McAuliffe's efforts to turn raw timber into finished, high demand wood pellets.

McDonnell’s Incompetence Saved Tarnish of Corruption

McDonnell's failed trade mission to China, an expensive effort at personal aggrandizement that netted two jobs (in Shanghai) may have had a blessing in disguise. After all is said and done, his bumbling attempt to conduct economic diplomacy saved him from an association with Bo Xilai's venal Chongquing administration.

With no trade success to report during last year's trip, much of the press coverage of McDonnell's boondoggle was filled with other issues like Virginia's own Republican Delegate Phil Hamilton scandal. The Governor never managed to meet with officials in the municipality that was to be the focus of his visit to promote Virginia tourism, wines, or anything he could claim as an accomplishment. Just as well, these fellows play for keeps, way out of the league of an international neophyte.

'You cross me - never come to China, you'll never get out of jail'. Gu Kailai, wife of Bo, warning a British businessman attempting to start up a tourism venture.

There were so many missteps, it is difficult to fix a cause for the failure. McDonnell's front man for commerce, Jim Cheng might have been one reason for the failed effort to engage. As a practical matter, Cheng's close ties to Taiwan aren't the bona fides the Chinese look at good naturedly. Whether it was that or McDonnell's inept planning, they dodged a bullet. An association with the disgraced Bo would not curry favor with the likes of Hu Jintao, China's leader himself, who is said to have been the subject of Bo's wiretapping. All of this could have been avoided by leveraging State Department resources in China. Or it easily could have been poor relations with staffers in China that set things headed downhill.  

A Return to a Clean Energy Policy Agenda

Even though President Obama has made some courageous moves on the environmental front (most notably, his decision to delay the decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline), clean energy has seemingly taken a back seat on the president's agenda as election time moves closer to the present. With 80% of the U.S.'s energy consumption coming from fossil fuels, the U.S. stands poised to help reduce the international community's carbon footprint with more aggressive moves towards clean energy. With an increasing worldwide energy demand, it has become more important than ever to move away from fossil fuel sources of energy towards cleaner forms.

Unfortunately, clean energy is not an issue that gets many politicians cookie points. President Obama will continue to hammer away at themes of economic growth, job creation, and the like, giving little attention to clean energy until the next presidential election has passed. If this moves President Obama back into the White House for another four year term, one could argue that ignoring clean energy for the moment is an appropriate political route to take. What's the alternative, Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich in the White House?  

Two Trade Missions to Asia. One Governor Nabs $85 Million in...

Two neighboring state governors - Democrat Martin O'Malley of Maryland and Republican Bob McDonnell of Virginia - go to Asia on trade missions, seeking foreign direct investment in their states. I'll give you one guess which governor came back with "$85 million in immediate foreign direct investment" to his state, and which governor came back foreign direct investment at all. Need another hint? Try this photo from one of the governor's Facebook pages.

That's right, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) of Maryland went to Asia, and reported back: "I'm pleased to announce that our economic development mission to Asia has already resulted in $85 million in immediate foreign direct investment into Maryland!"  Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) of Virginia went to Asia and reported back on a "new marketing office in Shanghai," plus "an historic cultural exchange agreement," plus...uhhhh. Well, there's this: "agricultural exports including soybeans and chicken...[m]ore specific details will be announced in the upcoming weeks and months." Wow.

As Rebecca Jaramillo notes (major h/t to her on this story!), "It's wonderful that McD sold our chickens and agricultural good (which of course means that it is good we didn't pass those anti-immigration laws and end up like GA -- without our workers), but that isn't the same as 'direct investment.'" Bottom line: the Democratic governor brought back serious foreign direct investment to his state; the Republican governor brought back...a cultural exchange, some chickens and hog sales, and something or other to be named later. Surprise, surprise.

McAuliffe Calls for a 21st Century Economy

Trade can be a good thing. Governor McDonnell has a plan where China trades goods China produces in China for goods China produces in Virginia. Apparently Virginia's role is to feed the industrialists with Virginia's agricultural abundance. Terry McAuliffe would rather present his children the opportunities of a diversified economy.

Aside from commodities, McDonnell said he's also looking for "a dramatic increase in direct foreign investment in Virginia." - Richmond Times Dispatch

McAuliffe spoke last week at the York Poquoson Democratic Banquet, telling the spirited gathering that Virginia needs to compete with other states for investment. The state has not been in the running for opportunities that have presented themselves. That should also encourage proprietorship over the means of production so that the return can be reinvested in Virginia and not overseas; unlike the outcome of McDonnell's scheme.

I went to China and bought one of their big electric car companies and moved a manufacturing company from China to the United States of America. -Terry McAuliffe

Instead, Governor McDonnell has wasted time on a dog and pony show that could have been spent planning for an investment in the future: education and transportation would be a good start. Apparently for his own children the future is vested in the economy of a 17th century agricultural colony and includes drawing a pension from a foreign entity that has wrung all the profits out of doing both sides of business in Virginia.

McDonnell Trade Charade: China 1 – Virginia NONE

Governor McDonnell's biggest announcement thus far on his journey through Asia is that he has created a job; in Shanghai. The most mature cooperative venture between Virginia and China, the trade relationship between Waynesboro and Chongqing is off the agenda. But he's exporting a government position from Richmond to China.
"Gov. Bob McDonnell has opened a marketing office for Virginia in Shanghai. The governor is on a two-week job creating and marketing mission in Japan, China and Korea." - The Roanoke Times
This effort underlines McDonnell administration's paucity of business and international experience. While setting up the post hoc ergo proctor hoc fallacies for claims that he has "created jobs" out of this journey, he has arranged visits that are little more than photo opportunities. No substance from any of the dispatches. And he assumed (or his staff is truly incompetent) he could waltz into China and doors would fly open. They didn't and those with a bit of experience in this area can tell you that China sent a very clear message to McDonnell: "Just who do you think you are?" As reported in The News Virginian McDonnell said Tuesday in a conference call from Shanghai that he's "sure something will work out in the future." Yes, that's how those international deals are done: something works out. Ask George Mitchell.