Goddess (and powerful son-in-law) invited to Central Kingdom

Beijing has invited Ivanka and Jared, and the way Chinese social media treats them, I’m not surprised. I lived in Taiwan for over a year, and one of my continuing interests was the fluidity of translating English idioms, technology, and proper nouns into Mandarin. My IR colleague down the hall who studies Sino-American relations has been telling me about how the Chinese on the mainland see the Trumps–in particular how their names (and nicknames) are translated, and they are more flattering than John Oliver was last year. There is a spare literalness that informs the rules of bringing English into Chinese, so Ivanka is typically “nu shen,” or “goddess.” Who didn’t get treated quite so well? Poor Kelleyanne Conway. The Secret Service call her “blueberry,” but in Chinese social media, she’s Kang Wei, or “healthy, leathery hide.”

When the news knows little

The media coverage of this morning’s shooting repeated an unhealthy but seemingly unavoidable pattern: breathless descriptions of mobile phone video, police tape, and repetition of scant facts. I was reminded of a thoughtful conversation on On The Media with Indira Lakshmanan regarding how the media can do a better job. She discussed how ISIS profited from the way the TV journalism especially covered the Manchester bombing. Her prescriptions are not precisely relevant for the lone gunman style terrorism seen today, but worth repeating.

Veteran issues make bipartisanship easier

veterans_administration_31084With hyperpartisanship the new norm on Capitol Hill before Donald Trump became president, finding issues on which Republicans and Democrats can agree is difficult. Today, away the drama and sparks flying in the Senate Intelligence Committee with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Congress passed (with 368 yeas in the House) the “Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act,” tightening up rules that will make it easier to terminate the small number of “bad apples,” to use sponsor’s Jon Testor’s words, working in the VA. Voting against veterans is a tough vote in the legislature, as veterans’ issues are one of those small number of valence topics in American politics–issues on which there is large consensus. This particular bill scratched just the right combination of itches: firing bad bureaucrats helps some on the right, while strengthening the VA is something most legislators can consider a win. Bereft of legislative victories elsewhere on his agenda, President Trump is almost certainly going to sign this bill soon. (NPR story)

Navy vet hopes to challenge Frelinghuysen

ms-01While we have some time before the primaries that will decide it, Navy veteran Mikie Sherrill hopes to be the Democratic nominee in the New Jersey eleventh district. The long time incumbent (remembering that his family name holds even longer incumbency) has made some unforced errors recently that may have opened the door to higher quality challengers and greater out-of-district fundraising. Frelinghuysen’s 11th district was very closely balanced between Clinton and Trump in last year’s general election, so we’re keeping an eye on this race. (NJ.com post)