As the Syrian civil war slouches toward its brutal end, it’s time to take stock of one of the most significant diplomatic and military failures in my lifetime.

More than 200,000 civilians have died, including more than 25,000 children, and many more have been critically injured.

Six million refugees have created havoc in Europe and the Middle East.

For the first time in more than two decades, Russia has a significant stronghold in the Middle East.

Shias have cut a swath of religious intolerance through Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Much of the blame can be placed at the foot of the Obama administration, which ignored the potential impact of the war that began during the Arab uprising of 2011.

In 2014, President Obama invited over a dozen  leaders from both parties to the White House to talk about foreign policy. Obama became visibly agitated when confronted by bipartisan criticism of the White House’s policy of delaying Syrian rebels’ repeated requests for arms to fight the Assad regime.

The president defended his administration’s actions on Syria, saying that the notion that many have put forth regarding arming the rebels earlier would have led to better outcomes in Syria was “horse shit.”

During the civil war, the self-proclaimed Islamic State gained a significant foothold in Syria. Obama once referred to ISIS as the “junior varsity.” It’s a comment he probably would prefer to take back, but he did little to root out ISIS, too.

Note: ISIS, which is Sunni, also fought the Assad regime, which is related to the Shia sect, for its own vicious reasons, including the importance of a piece of real estate to train terrorists.

It took President Trump to defeat ISIS in Syria because Obama couldn’t figure out what to do about Assad and/or ISIS.

As a reporter for ABC News and Newsweek, I spent a lot of time in Syria. Although a brutal dictatorship ruled the country, I traveled to many historic spots, such as Palmyra, which ISIS tried to destroy. The market in Damascus, Al-Hamidiyah Suq, was one of my favorite haunts as were the road where St. Paul found God and the Umayyad Mosque, which then-Pope John Paul II visited during a Middle Eastern trip.

I remember a visit to Lebanon in 2011, where I spoke on a panel with prominent reporters from The Washington Post and NPR.

I argued that the United States faced an important decision in Syria. I said that the U.S. needed to provide significant aid, including American boots on the ground. The other reporters, voicing the conventional wisdom of the swamp, said my position was over the top, although the mainly Lebanese audience agreed with me.

At a time when the media seem preoccupied with myriad issues, Syria, unfortunately, has dropped off their radar when we should look critically at what went wrong and what lies ahead.

We are in the 4th day of a complete media talking heads meltdown over the Trump Summit with Putin.

I had thought actually that it has produced one of the few errors of the Trump administration, not the original remarks mind you but the clarification.

It was my thought that there was no percentage in it, after all it’s quite apparent that while some of the conservatives who were upset at his remarks were pacified, the left’s continued unabated calling his remarks inadequate and trying to use it as club against him and his policies.

This proved once again that Trump is a better media guy that me, because it’s precisely that overreaction that is a Godsend to him.

Here’s a test. Leave DC or New York, drive a few hours out to America, find a random guy on the street and ask, “Hey, don’t you think it’s awful that Trump wants our allies to increase their contributions to their own defense to just about half of what the U.S. pays?” You can safely assume he’ll respond, “Wait, why only half?”

That’s Kurt Schlichter noting that Trump’s demands on Nato that completely freaked out the left sound pretty reasonable to normal people, in fact a lot more reasonable that what his foes are saying:

On MSNBC, where illiterate histrionic analogies litter coverage every day, a contributor compared Donald Trump’s meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin to Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht, just to be safe.

Social media is teeming with similar hyperbole — “treason,” “traitor,” etc . — and not just from anonymous trolls. It’s difficult to accept anyone with a working brain actually believes this rhetoric, and they certainly don’t act like it. But if well-heeled pundits keep telling everyone The Fourth Reich is imminent before retiring to their townhouses in Capitol Hill every night,

The problem of with this narrative of course is the last sentence when the people insisting that Trump is a Nazi and that the world is about to end are able to go home in complete safety unafraid of retaliation for taking on someone who is only worse than Hitler in that he’s really crappy at being Hitler who would have already executed and silenced his critics by now.

But that’s why Trump keeps winning, you can’t spend two years screaming that the world is going end at a time when the economy is booming and people are doing great. If you to that you get one or both of these results.

People think your crazy

People ignore you

The latter was illustrated during Tim Blair’s latest US trip

Anyone who has not visited the US since Trump’s hilarious 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton might be surprised by the utter absence there of Trump in daily life. Everyday Americans are mostly just getting on with things, as normal, non-obsessive people tend to do. The apparent civil war we keep hearing about just isn’t happening.

Of course, certain precautions must be taken to avoid being drawn into a vortex of anti-Trump mania. During my visit I carefully avoided tiny outposts of Trump fixation, including Hollywood celebrity households, the offices of any former Clinton staffers and newsrooms at the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post and MSNBC.

In fact he discovered that if you don’t go to places like college campuses at stick with areas where things are actually made and done, the president isn’t really a topic of conversation:

If people from either side of the alleged Trump divide wished to speak out, I was there to hear them.

Except that nobody wanted to talk about Trump, Clinton or politics in general. This wasn’t due to apathy or lack of engagement. It was because there are more interesting topics of conversation, such as, well, just about everything. Work. Family. Sport. Music. Weather. Cars. Food. The semi-trailer carrying a few tons of bourbon that crashed and caught fireon the interstate. You know, topics people care about outside of election years.

Or put simply people were more interested in reality than what the media cared about and the louder they shout the more they are ignored.

Put simply Trump has taken the left/college/media/entertainment bubble that they all live in and managed to reinforce it to the point where they not only can’t seem to get out of it but he’s managed to sound proof it to the point where you have a bunch of people essentially talking to themselves.

And while that might keep people in the beltway in wine, steaks and oysters I suspect it’s not going to win a lot of votes in November.

By John Ruberry

Until the latest leftist outrage—the need to eliminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)–the gripe about President Donald J. Trump was that he is the leader of a cult.

It all started when outgoing US Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said that his party was in a “cult-like situation” over Trump.

The left-wing media pounced on the remark and ran with it.

Not surprisingly there is a personality cult in American politics and of course it involves the left, which invented what Nikita Khrushchev condemned as “the cult of personality” that surrounded Joseph Stalin, and it’s centered on Barack Obama.

The sheep in Orwell’s 1984 chanted “All animals are equal” and the Obama minions chanted “Yes we can.”

Especially during the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama followers would speak of an Obama-way-to-do-this and ask “What does Obama think about that?” The Obama campaign “O” symbol served as a 21st-century version of the Soviet hammer-and-sickle. The mainstream media was along for the ride. The best example was the “God of All Things” cover on Newsweak. oops, make that Newsweek.

The Is Barack Obama the Messiah? blog did a stupendous job collecting worshipful images from the Obama cult.

But like most demagogues, Obama stunted the next generation of leadership. So the Obama cult continues. Although he hasn’t really gone away, Democrats are clamoring for Obama’s return, in a sort-of leftist version of Joseph Campbell’s hero journey, which will end, Beowulf-like, when Obama slays the orange-haired dragon–the Russian usurper!–and completes the work of his presidency by eliminating private-sector health care, instituting an open borders policy, and of course shutting down Fox News.

As for “the Trump cult,” many backers of the president were furious with him–including myself–when Trump signed into law the fiscal 2019 budget. And if Trump commutes the prison sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, I’ll be angry with him over that.

There is no Trump cult.

UPDATE 7/19/18: Oops. I meant to write Orwell’s Animal Farm up above, not 1984. My mind was on my upcoming vacation when I wrote this post!

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Admiral Theater billboard outside of Chicago

Stormy Daniels was in Chicago last week, taking her clothes off and dancing for 15 minutes. Yep, a quarter of an hour, that was, at least on Thursday, the duration of her show.

Although I was off work on Thursday and the Admiral, an old vaudeville house that has been a strip club for decades, is just 10 miles from my home, I wasn’t there. Tickets to her show were pretty cheap, $30-$50. Compare that to the usual $25 entrance fee to the strip club, plus a one-drink minimum for a non-alcoholic beer which will set you back another eight bucks.

I assume the owners of the Admiral had to pay Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, a hefty fee for her appearances. If so, they had to make back their money elsewhere, so a photo meet-and-greet was organized–$20 bucks a pic–which ignited a spat that led to the Admiral’s owner, Sam Cecola, cancelling her Friday and Saturday night gigs.

Oh, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last six months, Daniels claims to have had sex with Donald Trump twelve years ago. Trump’s former lawyer, the embattled Michael Cohen, paid $130,000 to Daniels to keep quiet about it.

The dispute, according to the Chicago Reader, was not limited to Daniels’ objection to the photo ops. Keep in mind, this is a person who has sex, often unprotected, with men and women, and sometimes both at the same time, on camera. The Admiral also wanted Daniels to mimic Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” routine she offered to John F. Kennedy in 1962. Thursday was Trump’s 72nd birthday. She declined, another woman lip-synched Marilyn. Cecola says Daniels was an hour late for Thursday’s show, she demanded a bigger cut from that photo receiving line, and she didn’t rehearse her act. The porn actress also was perturbed by the presence of a Trump impersonator hired by the Admiral.

Sheesh, it’s only because of her claims about the real Trump that so many people, including myself of course, are paying attention to her.

By Friday afternoon Cecola and Daniels–metaphorically speaking, of course–kissed and made up. The shows were back on.

As you know, I didn’t attend any of the Daniels performances, but I’ve been to the Admiral a few times. (A blogger’s life brings me to many surprising places.). What kind of place is it? Muscular bouncers are everywhere and there is a no-touch policy in regards to the strippers–they prefer to be called dancers of course–although the last time I was there a friend of mine paid $100 for a booth dance. VIP rooms are even more. But table dances are just $10.

Blogger at Chicago’s Trump Tower

The seedy side of the Admiral, in what the Chicago Tribune Morgan Greene called “a wide ranging interview” with Daniels about the Chicago dust up and her life as a mainstream celebrity, was not covered, nor was the content of her porn movies. Anyone who makes the president look bad must be taken seriously by the Trump-hating media. Greene says that Stormy isn’t interested in politics but a quick Google search uncovers that in 2010 she was briefly a Republican candidate for the US Senate seat then held by incumbent David Vitter of Louisiana, who once was a client of an escort service. Hey Greene, it’s called research.

At 39, Daniels doesn’t have much time left to cash in on her notoriety. If she doesn’t squirrel away her money, she might be on the washed-up celebrity bartender circuit in a few years and collecting money from photo meet-and-greets. Men wearing Trump wigs will be welcome, I am sure.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Donald Trump is about to enter into completely unknown and unexpected waters this week.

Unknown because we really haven’t seen this kind of an initiative by a US president on the Korean Peninsula since, well ever.

Unexpected because even if you were one of the few people who three years ago concluded that the figure going down that escalator in NY would be President at this time, I very much doubt that you, in your wildest dreams saw him meeting the leader of North Korea at a summit.

The fact that the president has arranged this is an amazing thing but the really amazing thing is he is in a completely no lose situation.

If worst comes to worse then we are faced with confronting a dictatorial mass murdering madman with nuclear capability that hate us….which is exactly what we’ve been doing for the last 20 years anyways.

If 2nd worst comes to worse, then any deal made is reneged by the Norks which is to be expected anyways as mass murdering communist dictators don’t have a real good record in the honesty department.

I am a supporter of Donald Trump but I’m not so much of a supporter that I’m blind to the fact that both the worst and 2nd worst are real legit possible results but even if they come Trump will be able to say:  “We gave it a shot and it didn’t work out so now we know where we stand”

However it is also possible that progress is made on peace, on trade, on disarmament etc.  Even a small amount of progress would be an astounding thing and an epic change from the status quo.

It’s even possible that a major breakthrough could take place, but again we are in completely uncharted waters here so such a result shouldn’t be expected.

I admit I have no idea what is going to happen and no matter what anyone tell you it’s likely nobody else does either, but there is one prediction that I can make that I’m felling pretty secure of.

No matter what the result the Never Trump Di Niro left will dub it a failure and fault the President for trusting the communist dictator, if so it will be the only time anyone on the left has decided that trusting communists is a bad thing in my lifetime.

by baldilocks

After previously denying it, James Clapper admitted that the FBI “might have been” spying on the Trump campaign.

Real Clear Politics:

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN’s Don Lemon Thursday night that the president’s claim that the Obama administration spied on his campaign is “hyperbole” but if it is true, it is a “good thing.”

“They [the Obama admin’s FBI] may have had someone who was talking to them in the campaign, but, you know, the focus here… is not on the campaign, per se, but what the Russians were doing,” Clapper said.

But if there was an intelligence agent “observing” the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia, “that’s a good thing because the Russians posed a threat to the very basis of our political system.”

If true? He doesn’t know? Yeah, okay. Clapper was Obama’s DNI.

Yesterday, Sharyl Attkisson pointed out that the corruption in our intelligence agencies long precedes the existence of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

These intelligence shenanigans aren’t new to anyone who has read Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.

It has been a number of years since I read it, and, at 702 pages, the hardback version definitely qualifies as a tome. However, I read it, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library, very rapidly due to great and building amazement. And by amazement, I mean horror.  This entity of the government, allegedly dedicated to our security, is and has always been a failure. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time.

Now that I have become more cynical and more paranoid, it seems to me that the agency, the OSS(the CIA’s World War II incarnation) and all the other investigative arms of the government — including the longer-standing FBI — have been very successful at doing what they were created to do.

The CIA and all of the other intelligence agencies exist to Keep the Gates. Gathering them all under the DNI banner made that easier, or so it seemed.

But their gates aren’t the same gates as our gates. That is certain.

What a waste.

RELATED: The CIA’s Long List of Failures

UPDATE: Confirmed: John Brennan Colluded With Foreign Spies to Defeat Trump

An article in the Guardian last week provides more confirmation that [President Obama’s Director of Central Intelligence] John Brennan was the American progenitor of political espionage aimed at defeating Donald Trump. One side did collude with foreign powers to tip the election — Hillary’s.

Seeking to retain his position as CIA director under Hillary, Brennan teamed up with British spies and Estonian spies to cripple Trump’s candidacy. He used their phony intelligence as a pretext for a multi-agency investigation into Trump, which led the FBI to probe a computer server connected to Trump Tower and gave cover to Susan Rice, among other Hillary supporters, to spy on Trump and his people.(…)

The Guardian story is written in a style designed to flatter its sources (they are cast as high-minded whistleblowers), but the upshot of it is devastating for them, nonetheless, and explains why all the criminal leaks against Trump first originated in the British press. According to the story, Brennan got his anti-Trump tips primarily from British spies but also Estonian spies and others. The story confirms that the seed of the espionage into Trump was planted by Estonia. The BBC’s Paul Wood reported last year that the intelligence agency of an unnamed Baltic State had tipped Brennan off in April 2016 to a conversation purporting to show that the Kremlin was funneling cash into the Trump campaign.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar for his new not-GoDaddy host!

Or hit Juliette’s!

By John Ruberry

Roseanne cast pre-revival via Wikipedia

Last week after two decades in rerun stasis the sitcom Roseanne returned to ABC with massive ratings, even higher than its final episode of its first run in 1997.

Formerly a liberal, the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, declared that she was a supporter of Donald Trump two years ago. While Trump isn’t explicitly mentioned in the debut reboot episode, her character, Roseanne Conner, ends a family prayer, one that began by asking her pussy-hat donned leftist sister (Laurie Metcalf) if she preferred to “take a knee,” Colin Kaerpenick-style, with a bang: “Most of all, Lord, thank you for making American great again!”

The Conners live somewhere in northern Illinois in the fictional town of Lanford. Yes, my state voted for Hillary Clinton, but stick with me for a bit. One of the appeals of the old and new Roseanne is that it focuses on the struggles of a blue collar family headed by two overweight parents, Roseanne and Dan Conner (John Goodman), whose bulkiness refreshingly is not a target of unvarying jabs. They are regular folks trying to get by. During the television interregnum the Conners came close to losing their home to foreclosure. In the 1980s these type of families were Reagan Democrats. But since the first run of Roseanne, the Democrats have pivoted to the left, and in the last few years, to the far left. For evidence, look at the rise of Bernie Sanders, the only out-of-the-closet socialist in the US Senate.

“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party,” Ronald Reagan, who was born and reared in northern Illinois, notoriously remarked, “the party left me.”

The 21st century Democrats–the secular progressives–also left the Conners. This TV family represents the base of the new Republican Party.

Where the Conners live in Illinois was always a bit murky, originally it was Fulton County, a rural county south of Peoria. Yes, the old and new Roseanne, as the old vaudeville expression went, “plays in Peoria.” In 1988, when the show hit the airwaves, Michael Dukakis prevailed over George H.W. Bush in Fulton County, beginning a seven-election presidential winning streak for the Democrats there.

Ronald Reagan Trail north of Peoria

But in 2016 Donald Trump won Fulton by 15 percentage points while four years earlier Barack Obama prevailed by over twenty points. And for the GOP there plenty of room for growth in the Fulton counties of America. In southern Illinois lies Wayne County, where Trump bested Clinton by over 70 points.

Call that the Roseanne vote.

And even in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, there is hope for the Republican Party.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

It’s not easy to find a hardcore Trump supporter in London and Paris, but there is a grudging acknowledgement that the president isn’t as bad as many Americans think.

During a recent visit to the not-so-united United Kingdom and France, almost everywhere I went people noticed my accent and wanted to talk about Trump. I didn’t hide my support. What was amazing was that Brits and French actually listened to my point of view—something that rarely happens in the United States.

A former British diplomat and his wife, who worked as a journalist, can’t believe the importance given to the Michael Wolff book on the Trump administration. Such tales wouldn’t appear in much of the respectable press in Britain.

Moreover, they see the press failing apart with its constant attacks on Trump, losing any sense of credibility on many matters. The couple subscribes to The New York Times, but they find it appalling how politics have crept into the Gray Old Lady.

“I don’t care what the opinion writers say. They don’t have to be fair. But opinions are constantly creeping into the news pages,” the former diplomat said. His wife said she’s tired of the news organization looking at everything through the lens of Trump. Moreover, DaTimes has moved way left of center when it comes to social issues such as transgenderism.

Another friend, who also served in the British Foreign Service, noted that the Americans are lucky that they are unraveling Obamacare. In the United Kingdom, for example, the nationalized health service announced that all nonemergency surgeries were canceled this month because of a shortage of cash.

A longtime friend who’s an expert on the Middle East lauded Trump for cutting off aid to Pakistan because of its ties to terrorism. A retired French banker, who is Jewish, praised the decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, while a longtime Arab friend disagreed.

A London cabbie said he understood why Americans turned against Hillary and voted for Donald. “The elites have ruined the States and England,” he said. “Now it’s time for others to try to put things right.”

What was most important was how I could actually have a conversation about Trump rather than a shouting match. It’s one of the first times in months that I felt comfortable about stating my views in public with such a cross-section of people. It’s odd to have to travel outside of the United States to have a civil discussion.

Illinois bicentennial flag on the bottom

By John Ruberry

Illinois will have one of the most-closely watched gubernatorial contests this year. Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner has been a tremendous disappointment to me and just about every conservative voter I know. I enthusiastically backed the then-political newcomer in 2014, but this time around, as I explained here at Da Tech Guy, I’m supporting Rauner’s Republican challenger, state representative Jeanne Ives in the March primary election.

Ives is attacking Rauner, and to be fair, the Dems are too. Rauner has much to answer for. Actually he has little to answer for–as Rauner has not accomplished much of anything. For her part Ives is promoting common sense reforms that only public-sector union bosses and their enablers oppose, such as amending the state constitution so pension benefits can be changed, that is, so payment increases can be lowered, and having new state employees enroll in 401(k) plans.

Meanwhile Democrats are battling scapegoats, used here in the classical sense, that is, using something else to accept the sins of a people.

Deals with the Democrats’ state worker wing, the public-sector unions, that some Republican governors signed off on–but not Rauner–have burdened the Prairie State with $250 billion in pension debt. Retiring at 50 with full benefits is nice–except for chumps like me who have to pay for it. Illinois’ current budget is $36 billion and a whopping one-quarter of it goes to government worker pension payments. Illinois has suffered from the worst credit rating among the states for years, currently that rating is just one level above junk.

Illinoisans are responding sensibly and predictably–for four straight years Illinois has had negative population growth.

There is little to celebrate during Illinois’ bicentennial year.

Two candidates on the Democratic side are getting most of the attention from the media and presumably it’s a race between them, as there is currently no polling data on gubernatorial race. Billionaire investor JB Pritzker, a scion of the family that own the Hyatt Hotel chain, has collected the lion’s share of endorsements from prominent Democrats and the party’s union allies. He the only Democratic candidate regularly running ads on radio, television, and on the internet. The other prominent contender is Chris Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy who used to run Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

Neither have much to say about Illinois’ long-running fiscal crisis and solutions for it, other than “taxing the rich.” But they don’t even talk much about that.

Pritzker on the left protesting Trump

Pritzker’s web advertisements are a daily presence on my Facebook and Pandora pages–in these Pritzker almost always attacks Donald Trump, as he does for instance in this YouTube ad. Trump has not visited Illinois since he was elected president.  Last year, in front of Chicago’s Trump Tower, Pritzker released his five-point plant to resist the president. And when the inevitable spring tornado tears through Illinois bringing death and destruction, who will Governor Pritzker call for help?

Since Trump has been monopolized as a scapegoat by Pritzker, Kennedy is left with smaller prey. One of his targets is a worthy one, at least for scorn. That one is Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios, who is also the chairman of the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization, better known as the Chicago Machine.  Pritzker owns a mansion on Chicago’s Gold Coast. He purchased a smaller mansion that sits next to his. The billionaire didn’t maintain it–and then he successfully appealed his property tax assessment with Berrios’ office because the other mansion was “vacant and uninhabitable,” saving Pritzker a bundle of cash. Berrios has been under attack by the Chicago Tribune for his assessing practices, which the Chicago Tribune says favors the rich over the poor. Kennedy is calling for Berrios to resign as assessor, but the tiny yet powerful law firm where the longtime state House Speaker and state Democratic Party chairman, Michael Madigan, is a partner was hired to lower the property taxes of a company owned by Kennedy’s Merchandise Mart.

Oops.

Last week Kennedy moved  on to another unpopular target, Chicago’s embattled mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

“I believe that black people are being pushed out of Chicago intentionally by a strategy that involves disinvestment in communities being implemented by the city administration,” Kennedy said at a press conference held in a predominately African-American neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. “I believe Rahm Emanuel is the head of the city administration and therefore needs to be held responsible for those outcomes,” he added.

Phrased succinctly, Rahm, according to Kennedy, is driving blacks out of Chicago.

Oops again.

For a variety of reasons, including most notably high crime and execrable unionized schools, in sheer numbers and by percentage, the black population of many large cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and even Detroit has been falling, as I stated in my own blog when I reported on this story. Kennedy’s claim is tin-foil hat stuff.

Blogger at Chicago’s Trump Tower

And what does Trump and Emanuel have to do with Illinois’ pension debacle? Nothing with the former and a just a little bit in regards to the latter, since Rahm, a longtime prominent Illinois Democrat, was silent about the festering fiscal disease that is devouring ILL-inois. As for Berrios, I’ll place the party boss somewhere in the middle.

But the role of scapegoats, using the term in the modern sense, is to defer attention away from larger problems. And Kennedy and Pritzker don’t have solutions–or if they do they don’t care to share them with voters.

Boss Michael Madigan’s use of “Illinois math” to kick the pension problem down the road isn’t an option anymore. Illinois has reached the cliff.

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Illinois resident, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

The National Congress of the Communist Part of China, which sets the course of the nation’s leadership and policies every five years, opens next week during one of the most critical times in the relations with the United States.

President Xi Jinping, [pronounced she] who will be elected to a second, five-year term, faces some interesting problems, including the probable retirement of some top leaders, the ongoing North Korea nuclear program, and relations with President Trump.

It has been customary for leaders to retire at the age of 68. That would include five of the seven most powerful leaders in China, including Wang Qishan, Xi’s right-hand man and anti-corruption campaign leader.

SupChina, a great source for anyone who wants to follow developments in China, provides as excellent backgrounder at http://supchina.com/2017/09/26/will-happen-19th-party-congress-fall/

As SupChina notes: “Contrary to many who have posited that Wang is too important to Xi’s agenda to be sidelined, the Macro Polo initiative at the University of Chicago has come down firmly on the position that retirement norms will be followed this year. The initiative’s experts assigned only a small chance to the ‘norm-wrecking’ scenario that keeps Wang in his position, saying that ‘even with a very strong Xi Jinping, [this] would face significant criticism and pushback at every level of the CCP.’”

Xi is likely to opt for a selection of loyalists that both accelerates the ascension of some people leading to more attention “devoted to focusing on executing the many economic reforms that have stalled or taken a backseat to politics.”

On North Korea, China has initiated steps to implement the latest United Nations sanctions. That doesn’t mean that China and the United States are on the same page, but the relationship is better than most legacy media types would have us believe. An exception is a recent Reuters story at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-usa-congress/china-support-for-north-korea-clampdown-growing-u-s-official-idUSKCN1C32J2

Only a few weeks after the China meeting, President Trump will visit Asia, where he will travel to five countries from November 3 to 14, attending summits held by both the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Expectations for a shift in U.S.-China relations are high, according to the influential South China Morning Post.

POLITICO also reports that the Trump Administration is conducting an extensive review of policy toward China. See http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/28/white-house-china-policy-review-243274

During the past three years I have spent visiting China, I found that the Chinese, particularly business people, see Trump as someone they can deal with. It may not be a perfect marriage, but neither is it as vitriolic as it was under President Obama. Moreover, U.S.-China relations would have been disastrous under Hillary Clinton. Simply put, China was rather curious and somewhat relieved when Trump became president.