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The fried-egg school of politics – CNN

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Actually, at least one thing definitely did stick to Reagan: Schroeder’s label. And Teflon, discovered by accident in a DuPont lab in 1938, proved versatile as a political tag. President Bill Clinton, for example, was “teflonish,” Schroeder told CNN’s Charles Bierbauer in 1997.
Reagan’s grandfatherly mien and Hollywood stage presence helped him weather two terms in office, though he did shoulder blame for many controversies. With President Joe Biden two-thirds of the way through his first 100 days, one emerging question is where he will ultimately land on the Teflon scale: as a president stuck with blame for the crises occurring on his watch — or one who largely manages to avoid it?
At his first presidential press conference Thursday, “the President took tough questions from journalists without making any significant mistakes or verbal stumbles, defended his administration vigorously, and showed a deep and nuanced understanding of a wide range of issues — and the politics needed for results,” wrote Frida Ghitis.
In the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin observed, “Try as they might to seem ‘tough,’ the media did not succeed in knocking Biden off message. Biden spoke in great detail and length to show not only his mastery of the issues but also to suck tension and conflict out of the room.”
All around him, difficulties abound —a struggling economy he’d like to push toward a big recovery, the complicated rollout of an enormous Covid-19 vaccination program, the aftermath of mass shootings — a week apart — in Colorado and metro Atlanta, a surge of unaccompanied children over the southern border.
“Buffeted by unanticipated events and lines of questioning — and complicated by the President’s tendency to occasionally drift off point — the White House communications machine is hard to control,” wrote David Axelrod before the press conference.
Still, Biden enjoys approval ratings much higher than Donald Trump ever achieved — an average of 54%, according to FiveThirtyEight.
The President is putting his focus on touting the benefits of the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill he maneuvered through Congress without any Republican support and aiming to build on it with an infrastructure plan, possibly as big as $3 trillion, he promises to announce this coming week in Pittsburgh. But many of his initiatives, along with a measure to buck new state GOP clampdowns on voting access, may be blocked by Republicans using the Senate filibuster.
Biden told reporters the “filibuster was being abused, apparently not recognizing that his own party, a minority in the US Senate for the last six years, used it quite liberally during the Trump administration,” wrote Scott Jennings. “In fact, he took it a step further and said he agreed with former President Barack Obama that the filibuster was ‘a relic of the Jim Crow era.’ Does he not remember his 2005 Senate speech passionately defending the filibuster?
Yet many agree with Obama in connecting the filibuster to Jim Crow. In Salon, Amanda Marcotte wrote that Republicans are depending on the filibuster to keep any bill “to secure voter rights” from passage in the Senate. “After Donald Trump, the GOP understands their party exists because of racism and white grievance. Rather than try to moderate those views and appeal to more diverse voters, they instead are laser-focused on trying to prevent people of color from exercising their right to vote.”
As Nicole Hemmer pointed out, “Jim Crow, a name derived from racist minstrel shows that would come to stand in for the entire segregationist regime of the South, emerged in the late 19th century as a series of anti-Black laws: laws that stripped Black men of the right to vote, segregated public spaces, barred Black people from certain types of jobs.” Stacey Abrams has called Georgia’s new voter restrictions law “a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie.” But Hemmer noted that Jim Crow “never really went away.”
Jim Crow “marches hand in hand with both state violence and mob violence, as we were once again reminded during the insurrection at the Capitol. In fact, it’s precisely because Jim Crow has always been clothed in respectability during the day and worn a hood at night that we should be on alert when we see a Jim Crow-like figure in a business suit, because if history is any indication, that’s not the only way we’ll see him before all is said and done.”

Seven mass shootings in seven days

A man carrying a semiautomatic weapon killed 10 people at a Boulder, Colorado supermarket Monday. As SE Cupp noted, it “was the seventh mass shooting in seven days. That is a nauseating number. It’s also a wake-up call. The Boulder shooting, which followed the Atlanta spa shooting, is an awful reminder that we have not come close to solving our gun violence problem in this country.”
To do so, she argued, the US should have comprehensive background checks of gun buyers, an improved database of criminals, more studies of gun violence and safety and better ways to stop people with mental health issues from acquiring guns.
“Congress and the President should pass common-sense gun control laws, complete with stringent background checks, and an assault weapon ban that would reduce the likelihood of mass shootings and gun violence,” wrote Peniel E. Joseph. “Our public schools and institutions of higher education should be leading a national, data-driven conversation about gun violence as a national public health crisis.”
In the metro Atlanta region, families are grieving the loss of eight people, six of them Asian American women, in last week’s shooting at three spas. The killings, Pawan Dhingra wrote, came after “months of mounting concerns over anti-Asian violence during the coronavirus pandemic.” He argued “the federal response is woefully inadequate when it comes to preventing violence against Asian Americans. In order to effect lasting and meaningful change, we need an educational campaign starting in K-12 schools that reveals the strength and complexity of Asian Americans — just like any humans. People’s lives depend on it.”

The little red icon

Annika Olson‘s dream is to buy a house in the “absolutely bonkers” real estate market of Austin, Texas. The 26-year-old checks new listings before work. “I look at a house one day, and the next day a little red icon says “pending.” … In short, I’m toast.”
“I’ve scrimped and saved for years, working for AmeriCorps for $1,000 a month and doing everything I could to build up my credit score and savings account so I could buy a house. But with inventory so low, it barely seems possible.
Millennials, already hard hit by the pandemic downturn, are getting shut out of many other cities due to high prices, she wrote. “We, as a country, need to find a way to allow young people a slice of the pie, an opportunity to grow their wealth and invest in something that is important for their future.”

Florida man’s boast

The wars of the 20th century were personally disastrous for many people in Britain — but not for everyone. Hence the phrase that became popular to describe those who came through them with an enhanced reputation: he or she “had a good war.”
We’re beginning to see people claim to have had a good pandemic. For example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “Florida cut against the grain of elite opinion and bucked the media narrative. The result is open schools, comparatively low unemployment and per capita Covid mortality below the national average.”
Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, an infectious disease specialist, isn’t buying it. “As of March 22, over the last seven days, Florida has had the most Covid-19 cases in the country, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 12th highest per capita case-rate, the fourth highest number of deaths, and the 17th highest death rate.”
New York’s lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, pointed to the pandemic’s continuing impact on women. “When the Covid-19 tsunami hit us one year ago, the tidal wave swept over our most vulnerable. Now left in the wake are women of all ages struggling because for them, this pandemic has been a living hell.
For more on Covid-19’s impact:
The ramifications of former President Donald Trump’s big lie that the election was stolen from him continue to ripple out. Prosecutors have charged hundreds of people with crimes as a result of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Sidney Powell, a former Trump lawyer responsible for some of the most outlandish and groundless allegations about the election, is trying to defend herself from a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems (the company also filed a suit against Fox News Friday).
“Powell now argues that she did not defame Dominion because her statements were not factual in nature at all, but instead were merely her opinions,” Jennifer Rodgers wrote. But Powell was doing more than just offering her opinion. She and her colleagues “were doing everything in their power to convince Trump’s supporters that the election was stolen from him through fraud. They created and fed the big lie.”
Despite all of the video evidence to the contrary, Trump claimed on Fox News that the Jan. 6 riot “was zero threat. Look, they went in, they shouldn’t have done it. Some of them went in, and they are hugging and kissing the police and the guards, you know, they had great relationships.”
As Michael D’Antonio pointed out, “While one officer appeared to pose for a selfie with a rioter and others opened the barricades to allow the mob to enter the grounds of the US Capitol, many Capitol and DC Metro police officers also risked their lives and engaged in hand-to-hand combat trying to protect the lawmakers who were certifying the results of the 2020 election inside. During the melee, some officers were beaten and sprayed with chemicals. At least 138 sustained injuries including burns, concussions and rib fractures. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died from injuries sustained during the attack, and two others later died by suicide.”
Meanwhile, an adviser said Trump is readying a new social platform to air his views, now that he has been banned from Twitter. “Trump hates not being heard,” wrote Julian Zelizer. “But it won’t be easy for him to regain his hold. After all, the former president is now officially a political loser.”
A 1,300-foot container ship called Ever Given gave the world of international shipping a body blow Wednesday. It ran aground in the Suez Canal, a waterway that carries 12% of the world’s shipping, and blocked traffic, stranding hundreds of ships.
“A failure of machinery, human error or natural events — high winds and reduced visibility — may have caused Ever Given to run ashore in the Suez Canal,” wrote Salvatore R. Mercogliano, a history professor and former merchant mariner.
“But its impact will resonate far from its banks as it has blocked the jugular of one of the largest trade routes in human history.”

Don’t miss

Ban Ki-moon and Patrick Verkooijen: Start planning for a world with a lot less water

Fagradalsfjall is no Eyjafjallajökull

People around the world are spending an uncountable number of hours watching webcams of Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano “which woke up this month after 700 years and is putting on a mesmerizing lava show,” wrote Einat Lev of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “They are calling it a Disneyland eruption.”
But Lev, a volcanologist, cautioned that “volcanoes are not amusement parks” and it’s hard to predict “where an awakening volcano will fit on the wide span between a thrilling spectacle and a deadly catastrophe.”
In 2010, plumes from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption severely disrupted air travel, and in 1783, the Laki volcano “released so much sulfur dioxide and other toxic gases over eight months that about 9,000 people in Iceland died — about a quarter of the population. It changed the weather and caused more deaths across Europe.”
What will happen to the new, and so far mild, Iceland eruption? Lev wrote, “Nobody knows now whether it will stop in a few days or continue for years and become an unparalleled tourist attraction.”

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Beijing huddles with friends, seeks to fracture U.S.-led ‘clique’

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By Gabriel Crossley and Yew Lun Tian

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is shoring up ties with autocratic partners like Russia and Iran, as well as economically dependent regional countries, while using sanctions and threats to try to fracture the alliances the United States is building against it.

Worryingly for Beijing, diplomats and analysts say, the Biden administration has got other democracies to toughen up to a rising, more globally assertive China on human rights and regional security issues like the disputed South China Sea.

“China has always resolutely opposed the U.S. side engaging in bloc politics along ideological lines, and ganging up to form anti-China cliques,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement to Reuters.

“We hope relevant countries see clearly their own interests…and are not reduced to being anti-China tools of the U.S.”

After last month’s stormy talks between top U.S. and Chinese diplomats in Anchorage, Beijing also appeared to engage more urgently with countries like Russia, Iran and North Korea, which are also on the wrong end of U.S.-led sanctions.

COLD COMFORT

“China is very worried about U.S. alliance diplomacy,” said Li Mingjiang, associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, pointing to what he calls attempts to “huddle for warmth” with governments shunned by the West.

Days after the Alaska meeting, the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, received Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who called for Moscow and Beijing to push back against what he called the West’s ideological agenda.

A week later, Wang flew to Iran and signed a 25-year economic pact, which Renmin University professor Shi Yinhong said “effectively exposes every Chinese company participating to direct or indirect U.S. sanctions.”

President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, exchanged messages with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling for a deeper partnership with another country whose ambitions for nuclear arms has drawn sanctions.

China is also wooing its economically dependent neighbours. Wang hosted foreign ministers from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea in China’s southeastern Fujian province in recent weeks.

Li said Beijing will be holding out promises to help these countries revive their economies after the COVID-19 pandemic, making them think twice about siding with the United States.

After Philippines diplomats and generals accused China of sending militia-manned vessels into their waters, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was not going to let territorial disputes in the South China Sea get in the way of working with China on vaccines and economic recovery.

BUILDING BLOCS

Biden has continued to pressure Beijing on many of the same issues the Trump administration did, but with a more alliance-focused strategy.

At a meeting between Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday, the two countries presented a united front against China’s assertiveness, on issues ranging from the disputed East China Sea islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, to rights issues in China’s Hong Kong and Xinjiang region.

Last month, the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada imposed coordinated sanctions over reports of forced labour in China’s western Xinjiang region, while over a dozen countries jointly accused China of withholding information from an investigation into the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Canada and France all recently joined the United States in sending warships through the disputed South China Sea, or announced plans to do so.

Washington also said it wants a “coordinated approach” with allies on whether to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, amid concerns over human rights violations, particularly related to the treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

BREAKING THE ‘CLIQUE’

China has responded angrily to shows of unity by Washington’s allies, with its diplomats dubbing Japan a “vassal” and Canada‘s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “running dog” of the United States.

China’s strategy to weaken this unity revolves around encouraging U.S. allies to engage independently with Beijing, and put the economic benefits first, while punishing them if they engage in joint-action against China.

Beijing responded to the EU’s sanctions of Chinese officials over Xinjiang with disproportionately harsh counter-sanctions, analysts said, potentially torpedoing a long-awaited investment agreement.

Janka Oertel, director of the Asia Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, believes Beijing is prepared to sacrifice economic benefits for core interests if they are threatened by the U.S.-EU alliance.

Xi drove home the message in a recent phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, telling her that he hoped “the EU will make a correct judgment on its independence”.

But China still needs European technology and investment, said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China.

“They still talk to us, despite the sanctions, business keeps going, and that’s very reassuring.”

Beijing has not given up persuading Washington that cooperation is better than competition, as demonstrated last week when it assured U.S. climate envoy John Kerry of support for Biden’s virtual climate summit this week.

“China hopes Washington can appreciate that it is in U.S. interests to have China as a friend rather than as a foe,” said Wang Wen, a professor at the Chongyang Institute of the Renmin University of China.

 

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Tony Munroe & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Prince Philip took a keen interest in Canada, but stayed above politics, former GGs and PM say

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When former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien met the late Prince Philip for the first time, he told him that for an Englishman, his French was very good.

“He said ‘I’m not English and I’ve spoken French since before you were born,’” Chrétien told the Star Friday, commenting on his many encounters over 50 years with the Duke of Edinburgh.

“He was not dull, let me put it that way,” Chrétien said. “He had some strong views. Sometimes he had to show discipline to not speak up more than he would have wished.”

Philip, born in Greece in 1921 and husband to Queen Elizabeth II for over 73 years, died at the age of 99 on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he first met Philip when he was a little boy, described him as “a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others.”

Former prime ministers and governors general spoke of a man who understood his role and knew not to get involved in politics, but who was very knowledgeable about Canada and took a keen interest in the country’s success.

“I was always impressed by their knowledge,” Chrétien said of Philip and the Queen, Canada’s head of state.

He said he can recall Philip asking about the prospect of Quebec separating from the rest of the country. “Not in a very political fashion, just in terms of interest. Of course he was interested to not see Canada break up. He would certainly say that to me.”

 

Statements from former prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper highlighted Philip’s devotion to the Canadian armed forces and charitable organizations, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, an international self-development program for young people.

Former governors general David Johnston and Michaëlle Jean, through their role as the Queen’s representative in Canada, were also able to get to know Philip more intimately, particularly at the Queen’s Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland.

Jean recalls being “overwhelmed” by all the protocol recommendations ahead of a Balmoral visit with her husband and six-year-old daughter prior to taking office in 2005, only to find Philip and the Queen greeting them at the door, with Philip paying special attention to her daughter.

“The memory I keep of Prince Philip is that of an affable, caring, elegant and warm man,” Jean told the Star, adding he was a man who was very attentive to detail.

She recalled attending a barbecue on the Balmoral estate, just the four of them, and Philip telling her, “Don’t forget to congratulate Her Majesty for her salad dressing, because she made it herself.”

What Jean also saw was a man sometimes hampered by the limitations of his role, like when he talked about one of his favourite topics, the environment.

“He said ‘I do a lot about it, I raise awareness, I take actions…I feel that whatever I do, no one cares,’” Jean recounted. “What I got from that is how lonely he felt…There was a sense of not feeling appreciated in proportion to his contributions, a feeling of being misunderstood.”

Johnston, who succeeded Jean, said Canada’s constitutional monarchy — where the head of state is politically neutral and separate from elected office — is an “important and precious” form of government, and Philip was key to making it work.

Philip showed leadership as a servant, Johnston said, “not taking centre stage, but by ensuring that the Queen and the monarchy were front row and centre.

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“He played such an important structural role, and did that with great diligence and commitment. He was selfless in that respect,” Johnston said in an interview.

For Matthew Rowe, who works on the Royal Family’s charitable endeavours in Canada, the Duke of Edinburgh’s political value to Canada was precisely that he was not political — that he, along with the rest of the monarchy, provided a stabilizing force outside of the partisan fray.

He was dynamic, irascible, exasperating, intriguing. And he was always three steps behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth, who utterly adored him throughout their 73-year marriage, flaws, faux pas and all.

“His presence, and the role of Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family, has been to be able to represent the nation, to represent Canadian interests, and commemorate Canadian achievements without being tied to a particular political ideology or regional faction,” Rowe, who met Philip at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in 2010, said in an interview.

 

Philip’s role meant he could speak more frankly than the Queen in public, and spoke “quite thoughtfully” about the constitutional monarchy in Canada, said University of Toronto history instructor Carolyn Harris.

At a press conference in Ottawa in 1969, Philip famously said that the monarchy doesn’t exist “in the interests of the monarch…It exists solely in the interest of the people. We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

Philip had a good, joking relationship with Johnston’s wife, Sharon. He recounted how the two joined the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral in August 2010, prior to Johnston’s swearing-in later that year.

One evening, they were returning to the castle from a barbecue at a renovated shepherd’s hut on the estate — just the four of them, the Queen driving with Johnston in one land rover, and Philip driving with Sharon in the other ahead of them on narrow, highland roads.

“We were coming home at about 10 p.m., as black as could be, he and Sharon were ahead, kind of weaving, and we could hear these gales of laughter coming out. They were cracking jokes at one another,” Johnston said.

“I had a vision of him going over the edge and down half a mile into the valley, and my first thought is: Do the Queen and I rustle down to rescue them?”

Chrétien said “it must be terrible” for the Queen to now find herself alone after a marriage that lasted for more than 70 years. He noted it’s been almost seven months to the day since he lost his wife, Aline.

 

“It’s a big change in life but she’s an extremely courageous person and she will face the situation with the strength that she has been able to show to the world for the almost 70 years she’s been queen,” Chrétien said.

With files from Alex Boutilier and Kieran Leavitt

 

 

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After warning, McConnell softens posture on corporations’ taking political stances

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., softened his stance on corporations’ getting involved in politics Wednesday, a day after he warned companies not to weigh in on hot button issues.

“I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are,” McConnell told reporters. “My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill.

“They got intimidated into adopting an interpretation … given by the Georgia Democrats in order to help get their way,” he said.

McConnell was referring to a controversial voting law recently passed in Georgia, which came about in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of falsehoods about the election result in the state last fall.

The law led the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola — which are based in Atlanta — to condemn the measure. And last week, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest. The game will, instead, be played in Colorado.

In recent weeks, McConnell has excoriated corporate America for boycotting states over various GOP-led bills. He said Tuesday that it is “stupid” for corporations to take positions on divisive political issues but noted that his criticism did not extend to their donations.

“So my warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell said in Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s not what you’re designed for. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of one of America’s greatest political debates.”

Major League Baseball’s decision drew the most outrage from Republicans, as Trump called for a boycott of baseball and other companies that spoke out against the Georgia law. McConnell said Tuesday that the latest moves are “irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.”

McConnell, long a champion of big money in politics, however, noted Tuesday that corporations “have a right to participate in a political process” but said they should do so without alienating “an awful lot of people.”

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said. “I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don’t like a particular law that passed. I just think it’s stupid.”

Source:- NBC News

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