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.
Until yesterday, when the State Department concluded that one of two outcomes (Assad stopping the violence or Assad stepping down) could be worked to its credit, the United States hadn't taken much of any position. State did make the marvelously stupid move of having the Ambassador reach out to and meet with dissidents. Now we have not only managed to alienate all parties who matter in Damascus, we have been turned a paper tiger.
...the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Ja'afari, ... accused the United States of "instigating further violence in the country, and giving the wrong message to the armed terrorist armed groups that they are under American and Western protection so that they go ahead with their insurrection and destructive activities in the country." - New York Times
Case in point: Israel, right now, where hundreds of thousands of people, to a large degree young Israelis, are protesting against right-wing policies, economic and otherwise, and demanding social justice. To understand what's happening in Israel - and, more broadly, in any country where the right wingnuts hold significant power (like our own) - I strongly recommend this article, by writer and business professor Bernard Avishai. Here are highlights of Avishai's main conclusions, all of which are integral features of the U.S. Teapublican Party, and also descriptive of what's been happening here economically and politically under Reagan, Bush, Bush, DeLay, Boehner, Can'tor, etc.
1. CRONY CAPITALISM/THE RICH GET RICHER: Israel has a high degree of income inequality, in which, due largely to the Israeli right wing's "freewheeling approach to market regulation − so much like that of American Republicans...The wealthiest 16 families own 20 percent of the top 500 companies." Sound familiar? Well it should: here in the United States, "the top 1 percent control 40 percent [of the wealth]," and rakes in "nearly a quarter of the nation's income every year." That income inequality is growing, year by year, as (to paraphrase Jim Webb) the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class gets squeezed. In both America and Israel, guess who fosters the policies that lead to rapidly growing income inequality? You guessed it: conservatives, the right wing, whatever you want to call them. It's always the same people, engaging in what they perversely call "class warfare" (accusing Democrats of the very thing THEY do, on an enormous scale), but in a Reverse Robin Hood manner, robbing from the poor to give to the rich (who don't need it), using the power of government to reward favored industries - oil, coal, big ag, big pharma, etc. - in exchange for campaign contributions. It's called "crony capitalism," and it appears to be alive and well wherever the right wing wields significant power.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of yesterday's bombing in Jerusalem. The return of terrorist violence to Jerusalem is a disturbing and discouraging sign that too much time has passed since Israelis and Palestinians have engaged one another in a meaningful way to resolve their conflict.
"Along with the horrific murders in the West Bank settlement of Itamar and the escalating violence in Gaza, yesterday's attack is a reminder that innocent people suffer the worst effects of this conflict. Whatever message the misguided author of this act intended, the message for those of us who seek peace is clear: the Obama Administration, the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority and the international community must move urgently toward serious, substantive negotiations toward a durable peace before it is too late."