Hello and welcome to the Top 5 by Sam Jenkins. The Top 5 consists of the top five things happening right now in politics. Be sure to click that like button, leave a comment, or let me know if I’m #FakeNews. Thank you for reading!
1 Big Thing: National security
John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), will be President Trump’s third National Security Advisor. Bolton’s nomination as U.S. Ambassador to the UN was blocked by the Senate in 2005 because of claims he bullied subordinates (he was later appointed while the Senate was on recess). He also full-heartedly supported the Iraq war before and after the invasion.
- Bolton was the U.S. Ambassador to UN in the Bush Administration when the Clinton-era agreement with North Korea over its nuclear program fell apart. Now, he will advise the President on the upcoming talks with North Korea. However, most importantly, Bolton has called for a pre-emptive military strike as the best way to resolve the nuclear conflict.
- In regards to Iran, Bolton has called for the U.S. to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal because it is fundamentally flawed. Instead, he argues for targeted bombing to ultimately stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
- Bolton differs from Trump on a central issue, Russia. He thinks the U.S. should engage in a retaliatory cyber warfare campaign to inflict high costs and, therefore, thwart any future attempts. The dynamic between a Russian critic and a president who has refused to criticize Russia will be interesting one.
Back in February, Congress reached an informal deal to fund the federal government by a March 23rd deadline. This month-long window gave legislators time to formalize the deal with the passage of appropriations bills, which would focus on certain, smaller segments of the budget deal. Instead, they waited until the last minute – like many of us – to pass an omnibus bill, which encapsulated the entire budget deal.
- This time in between the informal and formal deals allowed anger to resurface about the original concerns of the agreement, including DACA, the border wall, and increased spending.
- Many people from both sides of the aisle were not happy with the bill. To start, many disagreed with certain provisions of the bill due to the compromising nature of it. Then, the rollout of the bill left many without an opportunity to read and, therefore, understand the vital 2,232-page bill.
Global trade War
On Thursday, President Trump ordered tariffs on $50 billion dollar worth of Chinese imports. This announcement follows the recent steel and aluminum tariffs, which also affects China.
- Trump cited two reasons for the tariffs: 1) the coercion and then theft of U.S. intellectual property by China and 2) $375 billion dollar U.S. trade deficit to China.
- China responded by imposing tariffs on $3 billion dollar worth of U.S. imports. They also stated, “China’s not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war.”
- Trump hopes to reassert the strength of U.S. manufacturing and economy with these tariffs. However, a trade war could hurt the economy in significant ways, including agriculture.
Cambridge Analytica, a political firm, improperly obtained information from 50 million Facebook users and then used it to help the Trump campaign with voter targeting.
- The firm used one’s identities, friend networks and likes to assess one’s personality. This assessment allowed the firm to target specific audiences with measured digital ads.
- This incident is part of a larger story of Facebook’s failures in many respects, including fake news dissemination, Russian election meddling and dictators’ fondness and utilization of the platform.
- In response, Facebook is reviewing if the improper data still exists. Additionally, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said he would be “love to see” regulations on transparency and would be “happy” to testify before Congress after calls to do so from legislators.
McConnell v. Sports Radio Host
Each time Mitch McConnell, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, calls into Kentucky Sports Radio, the host asks him to about his basketball allegiances between the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville. McConnell refuses to answer the question because he attended both schools and doesn’t want to offend either passionate fan base.
However, the host, Matt Jones, isn’t an ordinary sports radio talk show host. He’s a liberal populist who might challenge McConnell in 2020. Jones uses McConnell’s middle of the road approach to the heated and divisive Kentucky rivalry as a metaphor that speaks to his malleable character and membership in the Washington establishment.