The China Test

State Hillary Clinton, Xi Jinping

TOKYO—Anyone paying even passing attention to the news from East Asia knows that the rise of China has taken a bad turn in recent years, and that our closest allies in the region feel threatened by the increasingly belligerent policies of President Xi. It’s not clear, however, that even well informed Americans realize how dire the situation is. It’s time they paid better attention, because China’s lawless pursuit of resources and territory is coming to resemble nothing else so much as the behavior of the Japanese empire before World War Two—a disconcerting comparison I have heard more than once from analysts and government officials here, where I have been traveling with a group of journalists and policy experts on a trip arranged by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

How a DNC Staffer’s Murder Is Being Used by Russia

AP

No one knows for sure why Seth Rich, a 27-year-old staffer at the Democratic National Committee, was shot to death last month in D.C., but the circumstances strongly suggest he was the victim of street crime, and very possibly a robbery gone awry. The killing happened at 4:20 in the morning on Sunday, July 10th, near the house Rich rented with friends in Northwest D.C.. Some reports describe Bloomingdale—the neighborhood where the killing occurred—as “affluent,” but this is a partial truth at best. Bloomingdale is a recently gentrified part of Washington, and was until only a few years ago the scene of regular gun violence and a robust narcotics trade. As recently as 2012 there were signs posted in the neighborhood by the D.C. government stating that people arrested for buying drugs there were liable to have their cars seized. Today, it still borders unsafe areas, and is easily the kind of place where a criminal, or group of criminals, could prey upon an unprepared young man who had been drinking.

The Magic Party

AP

She is not a good speaker, and there was no chance she was going to transform magically into one for the purposes of her acceptance speech. Hillary is a careerist, an operator, a loving custodian of the artisanal political machine she and her husband have handcrafted from locally-sourced Manhattan ingredients.

Am I a Kremlin Tool?

2016 Democratic National Convention

PHILADELPHIA—Am I a Kremlin tool? This unsettling question occurred to me at an inauspicious hour of the morning at the Penrose Diner here in South Philly, host to the Democratic National Convention and still recognizably the working-class Italian neighborhood where Rocky was filmed. Fox News was broadcasting from the diner, and I was on site to labor on the pre-dawn shift, commenting for a couple of segments that focused on the Democratic Party’s stolen emails. It was just about primetime in East Asia, where Fox is probably available through some sort of digital feed, so it can’t be as bad as it looks.

Evening in America

Donald Trump

I had been of the mind that if only Donald Trump stuck to his prepared remarks and delivered them with some discipline, he would be the recipient of positive attention following his speech in Cleveland tonight, perhaps even in quarters that go beyond his natural base of support. But after that long, dark, angry, bridge-burning, personality-cult-driven, blood-and-soil speech, a kind of Buchanan-for-Dummies remix of the ’92 convention, I can’t see how this will be the case.

When the Communists Came to Cleveland

RNC

CLEVELAND, Ohio—I was loitering in this city’s attractively redecorated Public Square at about half past three, trying to take a decent picture of some sort of social justice quilt without being knocked over by two middle aged women holding a banner that demanded an end to chem trails, when shit went down. A loud bang caught the attention of the scores of journalists gathered in the southeastern corner of the square, and within a few seconds, there was a media stampede—50 photographers and Fox correspondents and helmeted members of the foreign press running in the direction of the convention center, bravely toward the sound of the guns, like the Big Red One landing on Omaha Beach, or Marines reinforcing Khe Sanh, only better dressed.

Melania Trump’s Pseudo-Crime

Republican National Convention - Day One - Cleveland

If it hadn’t been reported that convention speeches fall under the purview of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, I’d suspect Trump’s three eldest children—the fruit of his marriage to Ivana, all of whom have a significant role in their father’s campaign—of intentionally doing step-mom Melania in. Fun as that thought is, the truth is of course more likely to do with garden variety incompetence in a gonzo campaign. It does heighten the moment that the counterfeit passages have to do with hard work and integrity, doesn’t it?

Still. Rather than being outraged over this particular incident, I’m sympathetic to Nate Silver’s observation:

The Circus Comes to Cleveland

Stop Trump

CLEVELAND, Ohio—It is flattering to be in Cleveland for the GOP convention as a member of the press, because everything that happens here is really for me. Not me specifically, of course, or even primarily for writers at online newspapers—TV stations with large audiences are obviously higher up on the press heap—but the media as a whole, with its ability to broadcast events and to shape public opinion about them, is the whole reason-for-being of this vast, tense pep-rally.