Something Huge Is About To Happen In China

Term Limits Likely To Be Removed From China’s Constitution, Allowing President Xi To Potentially Stay In Office For Life

 

China this weekend revealed several proposed amendments to its Constitution as reported by China’s official Xinhau news agency and buried about halfway down the list is a proposal to remove language that limits the President to two consecutive 5-year terms. Meaning President Xi could theoretically serve forever.

 

China’s President Xi

 

What’s interesting about this is the timing, which is incredibly premature, since the 64-year old Xi hasn’t yet even entered his second 5- year term yet. But that also underscores why it’s so significant.

Ostensibly, the reason is that Xi might need more than 10 years for China to realize his vision for the future, his plan for which is set to be enshrined in China’s Constitution at the same time.

And it also sends a strong message to foes and allies alike: China’s going to stick to its vision, and countries entering trade or other deals with it don’t have to worry about someone Trump-like coming along and tearing everything down that his predecessor had built up. (Trump’s reportedly got a bunch of massive punitive tariffs aimed at China ready to roll out any day. But in the long term that won’t matter much).

Of course China’s not a Democracy, so it’s less surprising for something like this to be happening there than say Turkey, or Russia. Except, wait a minute, it’s already happened in both those “Democracies”. Where Putin and Erdogan have already managed to ensconce themselves for life it seems. With China jumping on board, this global trend really starts to solidify, and become a lot more dangerous.

And it also represents a reversal for China, which following the unquestioned, brutal and often ruinous rule of Chairman Mao, has been working to decentralize power within its single ruling party. This move represents a huge reversal from that initiative.

So why should Americans worry about it? Couple of reasons:

  1. It might give Trump ideas. Not that he doesn’t have them already.
  2. More importantly, it increases the likelihood that one of the lasting legacies of the Trump years will be the ceding of a lot of world economic leadership to China. And that may not be reversible after too much longer. Xi may only have this unique opportunity because Trump has made it clear that the U.S. is no longer interested in being the leader of the global economy and is pulling out of international trade partnerships and treaties, leaving China to fill the void with massive expansion and investment around the world.

 

Xi literally rolls out the red carpet for Trump in Beijing last November

 


 

Congress Returns From Vacation To Talk Of Gun Legislation

Several bipartisan bills are already on the table, and there’s a lot more in “idea” form (including Trump’s proposal to arm teachers), but it’s unclear which if any will get enough support to pass.  The Hill has a good review of what’s out there right now. Most involve things the N.R.A. has already said it can live with, like stricter background checks. The one issue where the President appears to differ with the N.R.A. is on raising the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21. (Of course that wouldn’t prevent someone from getting it from a parent).

Meanwhile, Florida will take up a whole bunch of proposals on guns this week: everything from banning semi-automatic firearms outright to making it easier to take guns away from people whom police determine to be dangerous. Florida’s an interesting case, as the Miami Herald points out, because even though it’s a swing state, only about 10 of the 120 state congressional districts are considered competitive, with all the others being deep red or deep blue. So there’s typically great political risk for legislators to compromise, and almost none to hold fast.

 

Memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as it looked on Sunday (Miami Herald)

 


 

Trump Keeps Lying About The Visa Lottery, And No One Calls Him Out On It

We guess when the President lies all the time about so many things, it’s hard to keep up.

Here’s what he said late last week at a speech before CPAC, a powerful right wing political gathering: “You have a country, they put names in. Do you think they are giving us the good people?…So we pick out people and they turn out to be horrendous. And we don’t understand why. They are not giving us their best people, folks. Use your heads.

Except that’s not how it works at all. Not even close.

Whether you support with the visa lottery program or not, shady governments are not forming their own Olympic teams of scoundrels, and we’re not just opening our arms to the lot. In fact it would be a very inefficient way for governments to get rid of criminals and miscreants because 99.5% of the people who apply under the program are rejected. In addition, governments don’t nominate anybody. The applications are available online, free-of-charge, to individuals.

 

Lyin’ to CPAC…

 

Politico points out (in a really great story), that just 2 years ago Trump skipped the CPAC event because of a planned walk-out by Conservatives who opposed his candidacy. Now he owns them.

 


 

Trump Rebuts The Memo Rebutting “The Memo”

Here’s a link to the Democrats’ document. It’s longer and more redacted than what the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee produced. It does a pretty good job of debunking Committee Chair Devin Nunes’ claim that the the F.B.I. improperly launched its investigation into ties between Trump campaign associate Carter Page and Russia. Here’s a good summary of important points from the New York Times.

But we were wondering if anyone really cared at this point. (We even suggested Democrats were making a mistake pressing for release of their rebuttal since the original Republican document from Committee Chair Devin Nunes was such a dud).

Well, at least one person does care: Trump. He felt so strongly about it he called in to his buddy Jeanine Pirro’s show on Fox and against suggested there should be an investigation into the people investigating his people. Never mind they’ve gotten close to 2 dozen indictments including a brand spanking new guilty plea from Trump campaign associate Rick Gates.

And this being Trump, there’s a huge lie at the center of his rebuttal too, as explained by CNN’s Brian Stetler via Twitter.

 


 

Some Other Important Developments, In Brief:

 

Will the diplomatic thaw continue between North and South Korea? And will the U.S. possibly join in? A really pretty exciting Winter Olympics ended, with Ivanka Trump representing the U.S. at the closing ceremonies. Top officials from North Korea were there too. And while they didn’t talk directly, South Korean officials say North Koreans attending the games indicated they’re willing to sit down with the U.S.

 

Ivanka Trump with South Korea’s President and North Korean officials in a VIP suite at the Olympics

 

Russia launches cyber-attack on Olympics, tries to pretend it’s North Korea. That’s according to U.S. intelligence officials quoted by the Washington Post. The hack that occurred in the hours before the opening ceremonies left many people without the ability to retrieve and print out their tickets.

The Supreme Court today will hear arguments on a case that could further weaken the power of labor unions in the U.S. The Court has heard this case before, but ended up split 4-4 after the death of Justice Scalia. So it’s not hard to predict how it’ll probably go. Here’s a preview from Scotusblog. Politico discusses what kind of impact it might have on 2018 campaigns, since unions have traditionally been big sources of funding for mostly Democratic candidates, and this could leave them with much shallower pockets.

California Democrats endorse no one for Senate. This story is largely being reported along the lines of “California Democratic Party Won’t Endorse Dianne Feinstein“. But they couldn’t agree on anyone. This is ridiculous. Feinstein is 85-years old, so many argue it’s time for “new blood”. But this level of bickering and backbiting already when Trump’s about to hand you your best chance to win back the House and Senate in years? And Feinstein’s been the Democrats’ most outspoken gun control proponent for years. Hey, if there’s a better choice, fine. Make it. Stop embarrassing yourselves.

And why the hell was Mexico’s President even thinking about visiting Trump in the first place?! Anyway, that visit’s now been cancelled after a heated phone exchange in which Trump apparently refused to promise not to publicly humiliate his Mexican counterpart about “the wall”.

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