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Here and There
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Here and There

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Taxes First

On one level the Democrats truly backed out of a fight. In all the posturing over the numerous decisions which Congress is addressing it prioritized its race to beat Santa Claus to their homes for Christmas over legislating. It has been suggested that they could find no procedural method to force the Republicans to address the budget bills and a possible Government shut-down, before the GOP’s tax bill was passed. The tax bill was considered under reconciliation procedures while the funding bills lingered around to be finessed during the true crunch time, as chaos engulfs Washington politics.  

The fact is that the Democrats were unwilling to threaten a government shutdown in return for more of their programs or priorities being addressed before the final vote on the tax bill.  While the Democrats do not control the legislative calendars in either chamber, they could have made themselves much more vocal.  They could have insisted first consideration of the budget resolution, protecting healthcare, and DACA. The Democrats now have little or no leverage since the tax bill was the entire game for the GOP. 

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U.N. Mischief

As expected the United Nations Security Council sought to issue a meaningless resolution condemning the Trump Administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel which all knew would be vetoed by the U.S. While not applauding the unnecessary and provocative nature of this ill-timed decision taken by the Trump Administration, this resolution was a waste of time. It was a classic example of the U.N. not losing an opportunity to bash Israel rather than addressing many more of the world’s glaring ills.

The U.N. faces an array of serious confrontations and dangerous global crises. Spending time once again deliberating a matter related to Israel is just a further example of grossly confused priorities in which the U.N. engages, as it continues to work for global peace. Seeking to criticize a symbolic policy decision by the U.S. Government was doomed to failure. No U.S. Government would accept any threat to its sovereignty, especially not the Congress. 

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National Security

President Trump does not speak in public on policy matters unless he knows his audience will love him or he is confident that the audience is totally neutral; the military, police, government workers.  His happiest moments are when he does campaign style pep rallies before his hardcore fan base. So it was when he spoke to his audience on Monday when he presented what was billed as his National Security Strategy.  

The address was largely a reiteration of his Administration’s accomplishments and a critique of his predecessors’ policies. He paid little attention to detail and gave no sense of a broad-based national security agenda other than to remind the audience composed of largely military and political appointees that he was making American Great Again. He then repeated his pledge to conduct a foreign policy that considered American First.

The problem was that his national security staff had produced a major study detailing a direction for U.S. policy as well as a framework for the future. The President kept it light. He was self-aggrandizing and gave few details.  As is his style with domestic policy, once again the President does not reflect any serious deep thinking or vision. This absence in the field of national security policy can produce very grave consequences.  

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