It should be miserable to be a Democrat or a mainstream newsroom editor right now. If you thought this week's news was bad (losing the OSHA vaccine mandate, 7% inflation, Sens. Senama and Manchin saving the filibuster, and gutting a partisan voting rights bill), fasten your seatbelts. Things will only get worse.
Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report wrote last week after speaking with strategists from both parties and conducting focus groups: The 2022 midterms will be a referendum on the current president, not the former one. Translation: Independents, on whom the midterms will turn, will evaluate their electoral choices based on what the Democrats have accomplished since January 6, 2021, not what a few crazy Trump supporters did on January 6.
The Left will continue to keep January 6 alive, of course, through public hearings and subpoenas. The New York Times is already trying a new storyline: Republicans will push new "Big Lies" that January 6 was not a big deal or a left-wing plot.
But there is considerable risk in relying on January 6 to do all the heavy lifting. And other things are not looking good.
The teachers' unions, reliable foot soldiers for the Democrats, are openly revolting against keeping schools open. The Left grudgingly conceded that this story could mean a major headache for the Democrats. The coverage is directly related to others over which the Democrats supposedly had solutions but have failed to deliver.
The Build Back Better framework would extend the enhanced child tax credit, putting cash in families checking accounts each month. It separately promised the largest investments in child care in the nation's history. Both these proposals are dead in the wake of Sen. Joe Manchin's steadfast opposition. If schools remain shut down, parents are forced to stay home and miss work or hire child care, impacting their pocketbooks when inflation is raging. This is not a good story that excites Democratic supporters.
The source of the teachers' frustration is what plagues every American: the novel coronavirus, which the Times says is resulting in disruption, dismay, and dissent. The Biden administration, gifted with vaccines already out the door before it even assumed office, has bungled pandemic management after initial successes. Americans are confused about what to do as authorities are unclear about guidance and warnings - and officials often contradict each other. Americans don't know how long they should isolate after being infected or whether to take a Covid test after recovery.
The lack of available tests is also an unfavorable storyline. How could the government not see this situation coming? What did it do with the trillions in Covid spending?
The Democrats' media friends are fighting hard to spin each day's news cycle, which they never did when Trump was in office, with themes such as "the Omicron variant does not make people as seriously ill as Delta." But such stories conflict with the administration's argument in the Supreme Court that the coronavirus presents a grave threat to employees.
Another strategy has been to minimize the impact of rising case counts, which have gone up five times since December. Some stories quoted "experts" saying that using case counts as a determinant of the pandemic does not tell the story, so we should perhaps abandon keeping counts altogether. That's right. When you can't win the game, move the goalpost.
And there is the economy. Everybody knows that jobs are plentiful, but there is a severe worker shortage. Inflation is a real issue as the prices of everything continue to rise even as federal support, such as for rental assistance, is depleting fast.
With such an inhospitable set of new stories, even the usual Democratic playbook of using race is failing. Even some progressives walked away from President Biden's Atlanta speech excoriating half the nation as racist. And when Sen. Synema delivered the fatal blow to a hastily packaged voting rights bill by vowing to protect the filibuster, even Biden practically conceded defeat.
This week, our Golden/TIPP poll asked respondents if Biden should run for office in 2024. Only 32% answered yes in a rebuke of the president's policies and leadership. 54% answered someone new, but who can carry the mantle?
For six years, newsrooms could fill out an entire newspaper by covering Trump's tweets and reactions to them. With Trump excommunicated from social media, reporters must still file stories, so about what will they write? Democrat retirements? Party infighting? The southern border? Kamala Harris and the 2024 race?
They should ask Maureen Dowd. She wrote an entire column about how former Vice President Cheney, the reviled political figure, is now Darling Dick for the Democrats for appearing at the Capitol on January 6. Of course, it had to be January 6.
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The Chinese South China Sea claims are the largest, covering up to 90 percent of the sea.
The 47-page 'Limits in the Seas' report, released on Wednesday, also states that China's claim to "historic rights" over the South China Sea is unlawful – a finding that concurs with the decision of the 2016 international arbitration tribunal in a case brought by the Philippines.
In the report, the U.S. reiterates its call for the People's Republic of China (PRC) to conform its maritime claims to international law and to comply with the decision of the tribunal, as well as "to cease its unlawful and coercive activities in the South China Sea."
China has yet to respond to the report, but in the past, Beijing has insisted that it holds "historical rights" to most of the South China Sea and declared the arbitration tribunal's ruling "null and void."
tippinsights editorial: Sansha City – Building A City To Claim A Sea
tippinsights editorial: What You Need To Know To Understand China's Hegemonic Designs In The South China Sea
MI5 has issued a rare warning that an alleged Chinese agent has infiltrated Parliament to interfere in U.K. politics.
An alert from the security service said Christine Ching Kui Lee "established links" for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with current and aspiring M.P.s. She then gave donations to politicians, with funding coming from foreign nationals in China and Hong Kong.
One of the M.P.s funded by Ms. Lee was Labour's Barry Gardiner, who received over £420,000 from her in five years - but he said he had always made the security services aware of the donations.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey also received a £5,000 donation when he was energy secretary - but he said his local association accepted the money. It was "the first time he has been given cause to be concerned."
The 14th round of talks between military commanders did not yield a breakthrough.
A joint statement released on Thursday in New Delhi and Beijing indicated progress had been made but that further work was needed to arrive at a resolution.
The statement said the two sides "agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue via military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest" and "also agreed that the next round of the Commanders' talks should be held at the earliest."
Around 50,000 troops from each side remain deployed in forward areas. De-induction and a return to peacetime positions remain a far-off prospect, with both sides still yet to disengage in all friction areas and yet to discuss de-escalation or a return to depth areas, which would be the next step.
Taliban Threats To Uzbekistan, Tajikistan Underline Tension Between Militant Group And Central Asian Neighbors
Central Asia's relationship with the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan is far from smooth and could potentially turn bad quickly.
The Tajik government did not communicate directly with the Taliban. In August, it was made clear when the militants captured Kabul that until the Afghan government is "inclusive" -- meaning the large ethnic Tajik population is represented in government -- Dushanbe will not consider recognizing the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government.
However, Since the Taliban seizure of power, Uzbekistan has worked to keep cargo, including humanitarian aid, moving across the Uzbek-Afghan border, and officials from the two sides -- from local leaders to foreign ministers -- have met to discuss issues of common interest.
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have been supplying electricity to Afghanistan for years as part of deals reached with the Afghan government of 2001-2021.
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that more American diplomats were reported ill in Paris and Geneva.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported additional illnesses among officials serving in U.S. diplomatic missions in Paris and Geneva, where the United States and Russia held security talks on Monday over Moscow's troop buildup near the Ukraine border.
Blinken said the United States has raised the illnesses with the Russians but still cannot decide who was responsible.
The mysterious ailment carries migraines, nausea, memory lapses, and dizziness. It was first reported among U.S. officials in the Cuban capital in 2016.
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