President Trump is very confused about what constitutes good relations with the United States. “The suspected murder of a prominent Saudi journalist exposed a growing rift on Thursday between the White House and Congress over American policy on Saudi Arabia, as Republican lawmakers demanded an investigation of Jamal Khashoggi’s whereabouts even as President Trump declared his relations with Riyadh ‘excellent.’ ”
Congress should not be confused about the Saudis’ conduct; it should act boldly if Trump does not. “President Donald Trump’s desire to maintain strong ties to Saudi Arabia is facing its biggest test yet: allegations that Riyadh ordered the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist who had been living in the United States. Calls are mounting for the Trump administration to find out what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have taken steps to force a government investigation.”
A few years ago, you might have been very confused had someone predicted this: “Michelle Obama in an interview early Thursday described former President George W. Bush as her ‘partner in crime’ during every official function, explaining the former president handing her a cough drop at Sen. John McCain‘s (R-Ariz.) funeral.”
Hillary Clinton might be confused, Michelle Obama suggests in rebuking Clinton’s recent remarks. “Fear is not a proper motivator. Hope wins out. . . . As someone who is a role model to young girls, we want them to grow up with promise and hope. And we can’t model something different if we want them to be better than that.” Good for her.
The late senator John McCain was not confused about our preference for democracies. “McCain’s worldview — marked by an instinctual affection for the democrat over the dictator, and for the weak over the strong — is fundamentally at odds with the reigning “America First” ideology of the current president. True, the Trump administration has taken tough measures against Russia, increased military cooperation with Georgia, and resumed the arms sales delayed by [President Barack] Obama. But the tone out of Washington, exemplified in Trump’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, ominously foretells of a world in which every nation is out for itself. And that is a world in which small countries like Georgia will suffer.”
The markets evidence confusion and uncertainty. “Wall Street tumbled again on Thursday, as choppy trading gave way to broad-based stock declines late in the afternoon. Investors are contending with multiple concerns, including rising borrowing costs that could dampen economic growth, to growing tensions between Beijing and Washington. Worries about rising interest rates eased briefly early in the day after a report showing muted inflation helped send yields on government bonds lower.”
If you are confused as to what spooked the markets, Steven Rattner provides clarity. “Over the past year, the average rate on new 30 year mortgages has risen by a full percentage point, from just over 4% to just over 5%. That puts the cost of a new mortgage at the highest rate since early 2011. The increase has been largely driven by a similar rise in rates on US Treasuries. . . . While the government deficit has been rising, its interest expense has remained relatively stable (until now) because rates were low. But now, interest expense will become a bigger cost for the government than Medicaid in 2020 and by 2023, interest expense is projected to be higher than the entire cost of our military budget.” Read the whole thing.