BREAKING: House votes to proceed with impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. gavels as the House votes 232-196 to pass resolution on impeachment procedure to move forward into the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. The resolution would authorize the next stage of impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, including establishing the format for open hearings, giving the House Committee on the Judiciary the final recommendation on impeachment, and allowing President Trump and his lawyers to attend events and question witnesses. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)



The House of Representatives voted Thursday morning in a 232-196 vote to proceed with the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. In her remarks on the House floor, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was sober and reflective. “I doubt anybody in this place, or anybody that you know, comes to Congress to take the oath of office to impeach the President of the United States unless his actions are jeopardizing honoring our oath of office.”

The chairmen leading the inquiry were equally reflective. Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said, “The task before us is a solemn one.” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler was resolute, saying, “I support the resolution because we have no choice.” In concluding the debate, House Rules Chair Jim McGovern said, “History is testing us and I worry, based on what we have heard from the other side, that some may be failing that test.”

Republicans were predictably callow. House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried to be clever: “It’s only fitting you take this vote on Halloween.” He failed. Recommend 156  Share  Tweet183 Comments 183 New

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boran2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:32:11 AM

“It’s only fitting you take this vote on Halloween.” 

Fitting because the color orange plays such a prominent role for both Trump and Halloween.  ReplyRecommend81Recommended


NorthBronxDemboran2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:33:31 AM

It’s also the new black.ReplyRecommend41Recommended


Superribbieboran2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:34:11 AM

Hopefully the color orange will play an even more prominent role for Trump in the future.ReplyRecommend48Recommended


Bobs TelecasterSuperribbieOct 31, 2019 at 12:22:08 PM

Long red ties  — hard to make work with orange fabric, but maybe he can make a go of it. ReplyRecommend3Recommended


mortimersnerdBobs TelecasterOct 31, 2019 at 01:02:04 PM

Where Trump is going, they don’t allow ties.ReplyRecommend6Recommended


Bobs TelecastermortimersnerdOct 31, 2019 at 01:39:42 PM

Or “Just for Men” or hair loss drugs, or tanning beds. He could be a quite different looking fellow. ReplyRecommend4Recommended


keybeaterBobs TelecasterOct 31, 2019 at 02:04:27 PM

Gentlemen, start your Photoshops!ReplyRecommend1Recommended


kjallenboran2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:41:54 AM

Halloween — when the doors open to spirits.  Perhaps the ghosts of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Franklin, and Lincoln will pay a visit to the orange guy tonight, ala Ebenezer Scrooge.  Maybe they can “teach” him something about democracy, honesty and integrity where everyone else has failed.ReplyRecommend28Recommended


eBearcatkjallenOct 31, 2019 at 11:49:12 AM

I wonder if the boos and “lock him ups” of Game 5 called up those ghosts of United States Past, allowing the Nats could head back to Houston and beat the ‘Stros twice more to win the WS :)ReplyRecommend9Recommended


Upstate NYawkerboran2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:43:29 AM

Kevin McCarthy also got illegal campaign money from Rudy Guiliani’s 2 Kremlin linked thugs Lev and Igor.  The entire GOP, like Trump are up to their eyeballs in Russian mob money and they are shitting themselves that if Agent Orange gets taken down, he will take all of them with him.  Its also why they refuse to defend the country from the traitor in the white house because they are complicit in the treason.ReplyRecommend47Recommended


Pool House DoctorUpstate NYawkerOct 31, 2019 at 11:49:57 AM

Well that’s what happens when you choose to superglue yourself to an anchor.  Sometimes the anchor gets dropped.ReplyRecommend18Recommended


January1938Upstate NYawkerOct 31, 2019 at 02:06:17 PM

Kevin McCarthy is a stain on our Irish heritage !ReplyRecommend0Recommended


A Citizenboran2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:58:06 AM

What, they should have had it tomorrow, on All Saints Day?ReplyRecommend6Recommended


Alvin Kboran2Oct 31, 2019 at 12:01:18 PM

Let’s carve this pumpkin!ReplyRecommend9Recommended


kevmichboran2Oct 31, 2019 at 01:07:49 PM

Looks like a jackass-o-lantern to meReplyRecommend7Recommended


barskinOct 31, 2019 at 11:33:11 AM

I’m dreaming of an Impeachment Christmas.ReplyRecommend33Recommended


barskinbarskinOct 31, 2019 at 11:34:07 AM

As a matter of fact, let’s hope we can give thanks for an Impeachment on Thanksgiving.ReplyRecommend18Recommended


PilotsharkbarskinOct 31, 2019 at 12:00:40 PM

Kind of like a ThanksImpeachmentGiving.

A giant deep-fried pumpkin with lots of MoscowMitch sprinkled on along with the assorted RWNJ`s sauces.ReplyRecommend7Recommended


stevo86barskinOct 31, 2019 at 11:50:52 AM

One size fits all!  and better than a sweater!ReplyRecommend5Recommended


FolkManbarskinOct 31, 2019 at 01:26:23 PM

Actually later is better.  Let the investigations continue on well into next year (there’s plenty to investigate!), with a steady stream of incriminating revelations along the way.

Once the impeachment gets to the Senate, Moscow McCocaine will acquit the Putin-Pleasin’ Treason-Weasel Tangerine Rage-Baby in 10 minutes.  They will claim Total Exoneration: Partisan Witch Hunt!  And sweep all of it under the rug.

Better we keep the atrocities front and center all the way to the elections next year (or close to), to keep these criminals fresh in the voter’s minds.  No on is going to be removed via the impeachment process.  We are going to have to vote the rat-fuckers out.ReplyRecommend6Recommended


CholwaHuFolkManOct 31, 2019 at 02:05:18 PM

I used to agree with you 100%. I am wavering from that position now. This wavering is due to two related factors. First I have allowed hope that the senate might actually convict if the public opinion turns enough to seep in. The second is because he whom to be compared to is always an insult to that which he is compared (rat, piece of shit, crotch rot, ….whatever) is a cornered animal at this point and is only going to behave worse as the impeachment process goes on. There is nothing this malignant narcissist / sociopath will not do if he thinks it will distract or deflect.  He will keep committing more damage to the country and the world as long as he is in office.  We need to get him out ASAP and then follow up with endless stream of criminal prosecutions for the innumerable crimesReplyRecommend1Recommended


FolkManFolkManOct 31, 2019 at 02:24:21 PM

No on = No one.  But of course you knew that.ReplyRecommend0Recommended


CathyMOct 31, 2019 at 11:33:54 AM

It is kind of appropriate for Hallow’s Eve — the gate to Hell is more open than usual, and the ancestors are closer — I hope Nixon and crew are coming back to drag the Rethugs down. The Dems recognize the solemnity and the Rethugs cry “not fair!” as if they were on the school grounds and had gotten caught bullying… ReplyRecommend26Recommended


Captain FrogbertCathyMOct 31, 2019 at 11:41:56 AM

It’s utterly pathetic the GOP cannot even CONCEIVE of this as being anything more than naked partisanship. They see everything through the lens of corruption and crime.

They know damn well that their impeachment of Clinton was nothing but a hatchet job to get the Democrat and they are so blinded by their corruption they cannot see the obvious crimes of Trump. Rather, they see the crimes but don’t care. They think the law should apply only to Democrats.

They are a disgrace to their oaths and a disgrace to America.ReplyRecommend49Recommended


PissedGruntyCaptain FrogbertOct 31, 2019 at 11:44:48 AM

It’s utterly pathetic the GOP cannot even CONCEIVE of this as being anything more than naked partisanship. 

It goes back to every accusation they make being projection. They cannot conceive that THEY would do something that ins’t partisan.ReplyRecommend23Recommended


DrOrphCathyMOct 31, 2019 at 11:54:43 AM

Sometimes it feels like they opened the gate to Hell a week late in 2016, and forgot to close it for 3 years…ReplyRecommend16Recommended


anastasia pCathyMOct 31, 2019 at 12:39:50 PM

Indeed. I just saw a scary Halloween monster when I turned on C-SPAN and Gym “See No Evil” Jordan was speaking. I immediately turned it off. That’s too scary even for Halloween.ReplyRecommend3Recommended


CO DemocratOct 31, 2019 at 11:34:01 AM

How McCarthy’s “joke” went down.  




WI LurkerCO DemocratOct 31, 2019 at 11:37:00 AM




lynn47CO DemocratOct 31, 2019 at 11:39:40 AM


Or this one…though hopefully this is the train carrying all of the republicans who carry water for their cult leader.ReplyRecommend19Recommended


Paul COct 31, 2019 at 11:34:22 AM

Did any Democrats vote against democracy?  Did any Republicans vote for democracy?ReplyRecommend13Recommended


gchaucer2Paul COct 31, 2019 at 11:35:40 AM

Two Dems against.  Zero GOPers for.  Amash voted with Dems.ReplyRecommend36Recommended


voomergchaucer2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:37:48 AM

Which Dems voted against?  Pathetic.  Also so pathetic that no Republicans could muster any courage and integrity.ReplyRecommend19Recommended


gchaucer2voomerOct 31, 2019 at 11:38:47 AM

Van Drew from NJ is one I don’t know the other.ReplyRecommend8Recommended


jqjacobsgchaucer2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:58:18 AM

Jeff Van Drew NJ
Collin Peterson MNReplyRecommend16Recommended


first lastjqjacobsOct 31, 2019 at 12:20:40 PM

Brindisi (NY) had said he wouldn’t earlier, but looks like he did unless he abstained.ReplyRecommend3Recommended


jqjacobsfirst lastOct 31, 2019 at 12:40:09 PM

Just now from his local media: 

Bob Joseph@BinghamtonNow

JUST IN: Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Utica Democrat, votes to support a measure setting up rules for a Trump impeachment inquiry. #NY22 Brindisi Votes in Favor of Formalizing Impeachment InquiryRep. Anthony Brindisi voted to support a measure setting up formal rules for a presidential impeachment inquiry.wnbf.com312:38 PM – Oct 31, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Bob Joseph’s other TweetsReplyRecommend9Recommended


first lastjqjacobsOct 31, 2019 at 12:43:07 PM

Thanks.  ReplyRecommend0Recommended


RudyardvoomerOct 31, 2019 at 11:45:18 AM

Two Democrats, Congressman Collin Peterson (MN) and Congressman Jeff Van Drew (NJ), voted against the resolution.ReplyRecommend11Recommended


charliehall2RudyardOct 31, 2019 at 11:53:49 AM

Peterson absolutely gets a pass on absolutely everything. Trump carried his district by 31 points. Anyone who calls for a primary against him is acting against our interests. 

Van Drew’s district isn’t quite so bad in terms of statistical margins — Trump only carried it by 5  points — but the Republicans there are so rabid that even though their nominee against Van Drew was so horrible that the Republican Party disowned the guy Van Drew only won by 6 points. He is a prime target for the Republicans. 

I suspect Nancy told both of them to do what they needed to do. ReplyRecommend29Recommended


A Citizencharliehall2Oct 31, 2019 at 12:00:14 PM

My hometown is in Peterson’s district. When he retires, that district is very likely likely to go Republican, barring a real wave election.ReplyRecommend12Recommended


voomercharliehall2Oct 31, 2019 at 12:09:36 PM

Thanks for the perspective.ReplyRecommend10Recommended


kevmichcharliehall2Oct 31, 2019 at 01:13:54 PM

Sorry, not sorry. If Peterson can’t muster up enough courage to do the right thing for his country on this, he doesn’t deserve to be there. This isn’t, and shouldn’t be about party, or keeping his job. This is about his primary responsibility – putting the country above all else. Obviously, he is not up to the task or his oath of office. He needs to go.ReplyRecommend3Recommended


healthykevmichOct 31, 2019 at 01:27:31 PM

If Democrats find an excuse (keep their job ) not to vote for impeachment, not to put country over political interests.. How can we expect Republicans to vote for it?ReplyRecommend1Recommended


jayfrenchstudioscharliehall2Oct 31, 2019 at 01:22:02 PM

I don’t understand why you say that about Peterson.  What good is having a Democrat in that office if he’s not voting with us?  In fact, that’s rather counter-productive.ReplyRecommend2Recommended


mainstreet52jayfrenchstudiosOct 31, 2019 at 01:51:54 PM

Yes and no. Situation is different if his vote impacts the result. But it passed without him, and the Speaker knew that.ReplyRecommend0Recommended


PissedGruntyjayfrenchstudiosOct 31, 2019 at 02:05:01 PM

538: Different between actual and projected “Trump agreement%” in the 116th Congress: -74.5%.

Massively Negative means massively not with Trump.ReplyRecommend0Recommended


lynn47RudyardOct 31, 2019 at 11:54:50 AM

Only recommending as it has the info..(:-) Thanks!!ReplyRecommend4Recommended


PadreMellyrngchaucer2Oct 31, 2019 at 12:04:36 PM

Well now at least we can throw it back in their face, it wasn’t ‘Strictly along party lines’ per se.ReplyRecommend2Recommended


DemSignOct 31, 2019 at 11:34:27 AM

232? Did Tulsi vote against it or was she absent?ReplyRecommend6Recommended


SuperribbieDemSignOct 31, 2019 at 11:36:56 AM

One D and 3 Rs absent. No word on who yet.ReplyRecommend6Recommended


DemSignSuperribbieOct 31, 2019 at 11:42:46 AM

Katie Hill was marked absent on yesterday’s roll calls.ReplyRecommend4Recommended


LealexDemSignOct 31, 2019 at 11:55:28 AM

According to NYT she voted Y.ReplyRecommend3Recommended


anastasia pLealexOct 31, 2019 at 12:47:59 PM

Katie was staying for this vote, as the smartest, hardest-working and more effective member of the freshman class, bound for stardom which apparently some vindictive men didn’t like. She’s supposed to be making her farewell speech today. Am I pissed that instead of defending the bullying and harassment that drove her out of Congress, a lot of progressives are blaming her, usually pointing to the one part of the story that is unproven? You bet!ReplyRecommend10Recommended


SuperribbieSuperribbieOct 31, 2019 at 12:53:19 PM

Per Politics1, the four absentees were Donald McEachin (D-VA) (serious health issues), Jody Hice (R-GA) (father died), William Timmons (R-SC) (reservist on active duty), and John Rose (R-TN) (unknown).ReplyRecommend3Recommended


Mark LippmanDemSignOct 31, 2019 at 11:41:19 AM

The roll call hasn’t been posted yet. Gabbard was absent yesterday and also for many other roll calls this year. ReplyRecommend4Recommended


charliehall2Mark LippmanOct 31, 2019 at 11:56:04 AM

Gabbard missed all three votes on Turkey although she has recently been blistering in her attacks on Erdogan. That puts her barely ahead of Omar, who seems to have become a Turkish asset. :(ReplyRecommend2Recommended


Mark Lippmancharliehall2Oct 31, 2019 at 12:12:58 PM

As of Oct 23, Gabbard missed 167 our of 583 roll call votes.

For context, her supporter would probably point out that former Presidential candidates Eric Swalwell and Tim Ryan missed 205 and 165, respectively, this year. 

The absentee leader, so far this year, is Republican Ralph Abram, LA-05, who was running for Governor but failed to qualify for the runoff. He missed 255 roll call votes.ReplyRecommend8Recommended


CaliSistaMark LippmanOct 31, 2019 at 12:24:03 PM

For context, her supporter….




anastasia pMark LippmanOct 31, 2019 at 12:43:48 PM

In Swalwell and Ryan’s defense, both have dropped out, and Swalwell did so very quickly. Gabbard shows no signs of doing so.ReplyRecommend3Recommended


apotropaiccharliehall2Oct 31, 2019 at 12:43:10 PM

One vote against sanctions where she stated fears of causing humanitarian suffering means she’s an asset of Turkey? Get some perspective.ReplyRecommend3Recommended


chaseapotropaicOct 31, 2019 at 12:54:21 PM

I’m seriously considering flagging that bullshit.ReplyRecommend1Recommended


6412093chaseOct 31, 2019 at 01:18:01 PM

Not even Tulsi deserves libels.ReplyRecommend0Recommended


LealexDemSignOct 31, 2019 at 11:52:59 AM

According to NYT she voted Y. (Thanks to peagreen for link.)ReplyRecommend3Recommended


MikeTheLiberalDemSignOct 31, 2019 at 12:28:06 PM

Tulsi voted Yes.ReplyRecommend1Recommended


fewsorangeDemSignOct 31, 2019 at 02:17:29 PM

Tulsi voted Yes

But she shouldn’t have been allowed to vote because she is a Senator

I know she is a Senator because Ann Coulter told me.

Ann Coulter@AnnCoulter

No she didn’t. Tulsi is a SENATOR, meaning she’s in the SENATE and doesn’t vote on HOUSE resolutions. …Catturd@catturd2For all you foolish Tulsi Gabbard fans …

She just voted for the illegal impeachment coup.

She’s just a better looking Nancy Pelosi.
3,9531:14 PM – Oct 31, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy11.9K people are talking about thisReplyRecommend0Recommended


gchaucer2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:35:05 AM

McCarthy has the nerve to say anything — he who knew the psychoperv was being paid by Putin.  That should be brought up every damned time he opens his yap.

Besides Van Drew of NJ, does anyone know who the other Dem chickenshite is who voted with the GOPers?  Amish voted with Dems.ReplyRecommend16Recommended


Superribbiegchaucer2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:37:52 AM

Collin Peterson of the Trump +41 district.ReplyRecommend12Recommended


gchaucer2SuperribbieOct 31, 2019 at 11:39:10 AM

Thank you — still cowardly. ReplyRecommend5Recommended


DemSigngchaucer2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:43:29 AM

Especially since he isn’t running for re-election.ReplyRecommend5Recommended


CO DemocratDemSignOct 31, 2019 at 11:46:50 AM

He usually does not announce until later in the cycle.  So, we don’t know whether or not he is running for re-election.ReplyRecommend3Recommended


charliehall2gchaucer2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:57:07 AM

No, smart. ReplyRecommend4Recommended


CO Democratcharliehall2Oct 31, 2019 at 12:14:05 PM

Agreed.  I’ll give Peterson a pass. Van Drew, not so much.ReplyRecommend3Recommended


charliehall2CO DemocratOct 31, 2019 at 12:21:55 PM

Van Drew’s district is more complicated, as I explained in a comment above. ReplyRecommend1Recommended


anastasia pgchaucer2Oct 31, 2019 at 12:44:08 PM

McCarthy is a moron.ReplyRecommend2Recommended


BlueToTheCoreOct 31, 2019 at 11:35:17 AM

Any news on the vote breakdown?  I can’t see Twitter at the office and all of the links are Twitter links.ReplyRecommend3Recommended


gchaucer2BlueToTheCoreOct 31, 2019 at 11:37:04 AM

Last I saw — 2 Dems voted with the GOPers and Amash, indie, voted with the Dems.ReplyRecommend4Recommended


BlueToTheCoregchaucer2Oct 31, 2019 at 11:43:22 AM

Thank you!

I can’t wait to confirm who from the Dems voted with the RethugsReplyRecommend3Recommended


charliehall2BlueToTheCoreOct 31, 2019 at 11:57:44 AM

Peterson and Van Drew, both of whom probably were told by Pelosi to do what they needed to do. See my comment above. ReplyRecommend5Recommended


BlueToTheCorecharliehall2Oct 31, 2019 at 01:19:09 PM


Thank you.  I figured as much.ReplyRecommend0Recommended


libredOct 31, 2019 at 11:36:39 AM

It’s hard to imagine how miserable our lives would be if there had been no blue wave last election.  But it’s important to remember that we can win when we get out the vote. ReplyRecommend37Recommended


jqjacobslibredOct 31, 2019 at 12:01:40 PM

You mean the 2018 “coup” right?  🙂

Ari Berman@AriBerman

For all those people calling impeachment vote a “coup,” worth noting Trump lost popular vote by 2.9 million votes while Dem House candidates won it by 9.7 million votes in 20182,05011:40 AM – Oct 31, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy655 people are talking about thisReplyRecommend16Recommended


stevembOct 31, 2019 at 11:38:13 AM

Have the blasts of explosive Twitterrhea from Napoleon Boneyspurs started yet?ReplyRecommend7Recommended


jqjacobsstevembOct 31, 2019 at 12:06:37 PM

Do trees grow in the woods? 

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump · 3h

The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!


Still more ….

View image on Twitter

11411:02 AM – Oct 31, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Chris’s other Tweets

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump · 3h

The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!

john Mitchell@j_r_mitch

Actually it is your trade policy.

View image on Twitter

4610:59 AM – Oct 31, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee john Mitchell’s other Tweets

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump · 3h

The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!

Daniel Miller@DanielMillerDC

Uh oh!

View image on Twitter

13211:32 AM – Oct 31, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy24 people are talking about thisReplyRecommend10Recommended

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is Trump’s best defense?

Who could have foreseen that crimes have consequences?

Trump pumps up another Saudi deal


 By Salvador Rizzo  Email
 President Trump has a soft spot for Saudi Arabia, notwithstanding the CIA’s conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.In 2017, he falsely claimed the Saudis agreed to $350 billion in arms purchases and private sector investments in the United States. In 2018, he falsely claimed that $110 billion had been agreed to when looking only at arms sales.Now, after the administration announced Oct. 11 that it was sending to Saudi Arabia an additional 3,000 troops and nearly four dozen Air Force fighters and Patriot antimissile batteries, Trump claims: “Saudi Arabia is paying for 100 percent of the cost, including the cost of our soldiers. And that negotiation took a very short time — like, maybe, about 35 seconds.”We were naturally skeptical, given the president’s track record of exaggerating deals with the Saudis. Lo and behold, Trump’s secretary of defense and the State Department both said that the agreement between the two countries encourages “burden-sharing.” When you share a burden, you’re shouldering some of it yourself. That’s not compatible with saying one side is paying 100 percent of the cost.We gave Three Pinocchios to Trump.


Meet your Professor


Contact Information: 

Email: Use Course email; if EMERGENCY, contact me at, but that ss faculty email. I check course email more often.

Phone Number: 914-763-1888

Office Hours: All the time by telephone; I will meet you Mercy or if that is inconvenient at a location North of Dobbs Ferry ( live near Katonah)

The risky game Mike Pompeo is playing with an ‘authoritarian president’

The Fix Analysis

Some intriguing new information about Mike Pompeo and the deft but dangerous game he is playing with an unhinged president.~blog editor

By Aaron BlakeAugust 19 at 1:37 PM

The New Yorker@NewYorker

A 2016 video obtained by @sbg1 shows Mike Pompeo warning Kansas voters that Donald Trump—like Barack Obama—would be “an authoritarian President who ignored our Constitution.” Read Susan Glasser’s new Profile of the Secretary of State: 2,1017:10 AM – Aug 19, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy1,682 people are talking about this

The New Yorker’s big new profile of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is getting buzz for two reasons: 1) the newly discovered video above, in which a 2016 Pompeo warns that President Trump would be “an authoritarian President who ignored our Constitution,” and 2) an anonymous quote that describes the modern-day Pompeo as “like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.”

But focusing on those two quotes does the piece and its author, Susan Glasser, a disservice. Around those two narrative-building elements is a nuanced, thoughtful piece about the game Pompeo is playing with Trump. And as someone who has regularly spotlighted Pompeo’s sycophancy and willingness to pretend for Trump that up is down, I think it raises important questions.

Throughout the piece, Pompeo is described not as a hapless yes-man but, instead, as one of the smartest members of the president’s inner circle. He’s painted as a man so adept at playing “the Game” that he has navigated his own past comments about Trump and a worldview that departs from Trump’s in significant ways to become the president’s longest-lasting and perhaps most influential national security aide.How to provoke the ire of Mike PompeoWhen asked about something President Trump said, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is prone to belittle the questioner rather than answer the original question. (Video: JM Rieger/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Even critics praise his remarkable political skills.

“Pompeo’s singular ability is in navigating power,” says Raj Goyle, the Democrat he beat for his Kansas U.S. House seat in 2010 — and against whom Pompeo ran a nasty race. “On that I give him massive respect: the way he mapped Wichita power, the way he mapped D.C. power, the way he mapped Trump.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) calls Pompeo “very bright, very politically shrewd,” “with a certain pugnacious quality to his persona.” Foreign policy analyst Ian Bremmer says Pompeo has “in a sense become the real adult in the room. It is less the case than he would like, but vastly more the case than anyone else.”

The dilemma raised by Pompeo is a familiar one in Trumpworld, but it’s perhaps most pronounced — and consequential — in his case: What is the balance between serving Trump, managing him and enabling him?

It’s a balance we dealt with after that New York Times op-ed by a still-unnamed senior administration official, whom some critics said should have resigned rather than trying to, in the author’s estimation, salvage a bad situation from the inside. It’s one that’s even more important today, as internal critics are pushed out and the pool of replacements inevitably veers toward yes-men and -women (because, after all, who else would want to put up with all that?).

And perhaps the defining moment in that evolution, as Glasser notes, was Trump’s hastily announced Syria withdrawal. That was the moment at which Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — perhaps the most respected man in the administration — finally cut bait. It was also a highly symbolic moment for Pompeo, who in contrast with Mattis defended a decision he disagreed with.

Glasser puts it well in the piece’s penultimate paragraph:

This behavior is the reason that Pompeo has succeeded in becoming the lone survivor of Trump’s original national-security team. At the start of his Administration, the President had bragged about “my generals.” But, now that he has pushed out the actual generals who served as his chief of staff, his national-security adviser, and his Defense Secretary, it seems clear that Trump was uncomfortable with such leaders, and rejected their habits of command and independent thinking.

Then Glasser adds, “He wanted a Mike Pompeo, not a Jim Mattis, a captain trained to follow orders, not a general used to giving them.”

Beautifully put. But as with everyone in politics, we shouldn’t just admire someone because they’re good at playing a difficult game; we should ask what they get out of it. If Pompeo is doing this because of raw ambition — because he wants to be president or something like that — he’s playing a dangerous game as the nation’s top diplomat. If he’s doing it because he feels he can keep righting what has become an increasingly rickety foreign policy ship, then that could be seen as even admirable — especially given that he’s often lighting his own credibility on fire.

The Syria withdrawal is perhaps an example of when that approach can and does work. Despite Mattis resigning over it, Trump later backed off his initial decision to withdraw completely. Pompeo got something he wanted — albeit long after all eyes were trained on the internal drama of it all — by using the kid-gloves approach.

On the flip side, though, Trump is rewriting the rules of the presidency in precisely some of the ways Pompeo warned about. Trump has warmed to authoritarians and authoritarianism, similar to Pompeo’s warnings. Shortly before becoming Trump’s pick for CIA director, Pompeo tweeted that Trump should “make the undemocratic practice of executive orders a thing of the past;” Trump has instead taken it to new heights. The secretary of state who once assured that soldiers “don’t swear an allegiance to President Trump or any other President; they take an oath to defend our Constitution” has shown an almost-unmatched allegiance to Trump.

Some in the foreign policy establishment apparently want to believe it could all be for the best — that Pompeo can, on balance, be a force for good. But we’ve seen their hopes dashed when it comes to another man in whom they invested some wishful thinking, Attorney General William P. Barr.

Pompeo might be the other most consequential man in Trump’s Cabinet. And the narrative of his tenure is very much up in the air — and dependent upon the man he once derided as a dangerous commander in chief.ADVERTISING 57 Comments

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Aaron BlakeAaron Blake is senior political reporter, writing for The Fix. A Minnesota native, he has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Follow 

Tom Steyer spends more than $7 million on ads in first month, hammers early primary states



One reader responded argued Steyer’s spending millions could better be devoted to funding Democrat Senate Campaigns!

Tom Steyer spends more than $7 million on ads in first month, hammers early primary states

CHARLESTON, SC – DECEMBER 04: Anti-Trump Billionaire Tom Steyer hosts a town hall meeting on December 4, 2018 in Charleston, South Carolina. Steyer, founder of NextGen America and Need to Impeach, is testing the waters for a 2020 presidential run. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Tom Steyer (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)In the month since Tom Steyer jumped into the Democratic presidential field with a promise to spend $100 million on his own campaign, the billionaire activist and former hedge fund manager has made his name known across early primary states with millions in ad buys.

But it remains to be seen whether Steyer, a major Democratic donor who made headlines in recent years for his calls to impeach President Donald Trump, can convert name recognition into a spot on the Democratic debate stage in September and a viable campaign in the long run.

The Steyer campaign has spent more than $7 million on TV and digital ads during its first month, according to data provided by social media companies and an analysis of Federal Communications Commission filings available in the OpenSecrets political ad database.

OpenSecrets identified more than $3.7 million in TV ad buys on more than 12,000 spots across the first four primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Steyer began running ads on July 10, the day after his campaign launched.

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The TV spots touch on Steyer’s business acumen, philanthropic work and activism on climate change, as well as his efforts to oust Trump.

“Donald Trump failed as a businessman,” Steyer says in one ad, citing a New York Times investigationinto the president’s business losses during the late 1980s. “I started a tiny investment business and over 27 years grew it successfully to $36 billion.”

The ad blitz appears to have worked on some voters. Steyer, who is visiting Iowa for the first time on Friday, has already hit at least 2 percent in three qualifying polls, just one short of the polling requirement for the September debates. That puts him ahead of several more conventional candidates, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Govs. Jay InsleeSteve Bullock and John Hickenlooper.

Of the three polls in which Tom Steyer has achieved at least 2 percent, two were conducted in Iowa while one was conducted in South Carolina. He has yet to hit 2 percent in any national polls.

Still elusive for Steyer is the requirement of 130,000 unique donors, the Democratic National Committee’s marker of grassroots support. Campaigns have until Aug. 28 to reach the threshold. The Steyer campaign has not said how many donors it has so far.

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To attract new donors, Steyer’s digital ads target voters across the country and ask for contributions of just $1. During its first month, the campaign spent about $3.5 million on digital ads: $2.6 million on Facebook, nearly $700,000 on Google and more than $200,000 on Twitter. These totals are unprecedented, even as presidential candidates across the board have increased digital spending in order to attract small-dollar donors.

Steyer’s digital campaign presence builds off his activism through political groups he previously funded out of his own pocket, such as NextGen Climate Action and Need to Impeach, a super PAC targeting his now-opponent Donald Trump.

Prior to Steyer’s official announcement of his candidacy in July, Need to Impeach spent more than $4.4 million on ads promoting the “Tom Steyer” Facebook page, which is now used by his campaign. After Steyer threw his hat in the ring, ads on the page switched from being paid for by Need to Impeach or his personal funds to being paid for by his 2020 campaign.

Steyer’s 458,000 likes on Facebook already put him ahead of many better-known candidates including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. And big spending on digital ads allows the billionaire activist to continue to grow his audience. His campaign’s digital ad spending totals during its first month are more than double those of any other Democrat during the same period.

When comparing total spending on digital advertising, Steyer trails only the three candidates who are leading most polls: former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Warren and Sanders officially launched their campaigns in February, while Biden declared in April.

Steyer’s spending on TV advertising, meanwhile, far outpaces other Democratic candidates, who have generally focused on building their ground games in early primary states rather than running TV ads.

Among the top five candidates in terms of polling, only Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has run TV ads so far. Her campaign’s first ad, a 1-minute spot titled “3 a.m. agenda,” hit the airwaves in Iowa this week.

Gillibrand, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) have also devoted resources to TV ads. Gabbard has passed the donor threshold to qualify for September but still needs three more polls. Delaney and Gillibrand have yet to reach either benchmark.

While some candidates might be forced to drop out if they do not qualify for the September debate stage, Tom Steyer has plenty of resources to continue running ads and pick up new donors. The DNC will host another debate in October.

Sign if you agree: “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough. We need action

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El Paso. Dayton. Gilroy. Santa Fe, TX. Parkland. Sutherland Springs. Las Vegas. Sandy Hook. Columbine. Aurora. Virginia Tech.

At the time of this writing, there have been 250 mass shootings in the U.S. so far in 2019. That’s more than one per day. And gun violence in all its forms collectively takes the lives of more than 100 people per day.

Republican members of Congress respond to gun tragedies while they’re in the news. But, they don’t take responsibility for how their words and actions — and strategic inaction — allow for white supremacist terror and gun violence, nor do they take action to prevent these tragedies from happening again. Instead, they offer up fleeting sentiments or red herring explanations.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun homicide rate in the U.S. is 25 times higher than that of other developed countries. States with more guns have more deaths, and states where it’s harder to get guns have fewer gun-related deaths. Gun safety laws work.

The Democratic-govern House has already passed two pieces of legislation addressing gun violence. Mitch McConnell has refused to bring them up to a vote in the Senate. 

Every day Congress refuses to take action, they choose this fate for our children, our communities, and this country. Thoughts and prayers cannot replace action. For this epidemic to end, Congress must intervene. 

Join us in demanding Congress, and Trump sign, research-backed gun safety policies including requiring background checks on all gun sales, and supporting a strong Red Flag law that will help prevent gun violence tragedies.

Add your name: Keep your thoughts and prayers. Take action to reduce gun violence.


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Look at the Mueller Report as a Detective Story. It Will Blow Your Mind.

An important read!

SUBSCRIBE NOWLOG INOPINION|Look at the Mueller Report as a Detective Story. It Will Blow Your Mind.

Look at the Mueller Report as a Detective Story. It Will Blow Your Mind.

It may turn out to be a film noir. The investigators uncovered the plot, but the society is too rotten to do anything about it.

By Quinta Jurecic

Ms. Jurecic is the managing editor of Lawfare.Aug. 2, 2019

CreditCreditOwen Freeman

When the Mueller report was released, commentators reviewed it not only as a political and legal work but also as another genre: literature. In The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada described the report as “the best book by far on the workings of the Trump presidency.” Michiko Kakutani wrote in The Columbia Journalism Review that it held “the visceral drama of a detective novel, spy thriller, or legal procedural.” Laura Miller of Slate found it to be a work of “palace intrigues.”

Robert Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill was subjected to theater reviews, too: Political reporters speculated on the “optics” of his appearance, while President Trump declared, “This was one of the worst performances in the history of our country.”

The theatrical focus is a little much. But the literary critics are onto something. The report tells what is probably one of the biggest stories of our lifetimes — and understanding that narrative as a narrative can help make sense of the confused political moment.

Exploring the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the writer Don DeLillo described in his novel “Libra” the endless work of sleuthing new information on the president’s death as an effort to draft the “book of America” — the novel “in which nothing is left out.” The same might be said of the Mueller report.

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The first half of the report — on efforts by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election — is a spy thriller, a high-stakes caper with greed, dirty deals and intrigue straight out of a Cold War potboiler. The second half — on President Trump’s efforts to obstruct Mr. Mueller’s investigation — is a Shakespearean drama about deception and power. But at its core, the 448-page volume is a detective story.

Like most good detective stories, the report actually tells two stories at once. First, there is the tale of what happened: The Russian government worked to reach out to Mr. Trump’s circle and, once he began running for president, his campaign; then, when the F.B.I. and later Mr. Mueller began investigating, Mr. Trump repeatedly sought to undercut the probe.

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But nestled in the citations and prosecution or declination decisions for each section, there is the second story, which is closer to what most people think of when they think of a detective novel — the drama of how Mr. Mueller and his team came to uncover that first narrative and what they made of it. Examining footnotes, the reader can trace which information came from which witness — and discover, for example, that Don McGahn, then the White House counsel, provided Mr. Mueller’s office with hours of interviews about the conduct of the president.

Detective stories are usually about order and the collapse of order: The world is shattered by an act of violence, and the detective sets about making things right by turning the crime into something that can be explained. As Ms. Kakutani writes, “At the end of detective stories, order is usually restored with the solving of a crime, and with the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators.”

The Mueller report does provide a framework for understanding just what has happened to America in 2016 and the years since.

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More than a tale about the restoration of order, though, the Mueller investigation is also about the limits of what can be known. Consider, for example, what the report says about Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s erstwhile campaign chairman. Mr. Manafort, writes Mr. Mueller, shared polling data produced by the campaign with a man known very likely to be connected to Russian military intelligence. The subplot is full of possibility, but it ends up leading nowhere. Mr. Mueller writes that his office “could not reliably determine Manafort’s purpose” in sharing the information, in part because Mr. Manafort and his colleagues used encrypted messaging to communicate with one another.

Or there’s the question of what Mr. Trump knew or didn’t know about his campaign’s communications with individuals linked to the Russian government, and whether he was truthful in his written answers.

In this, the Mueller report fits neatly into a subgenre known as the “metaphysical detective story” — stories that take Sherlock Holmes’s triumphant cracking of the case and turn it upside down, so the detective’s efforts end in the same disorder with which they began. These are mysteries about the impossibility of ever really solving a mystery, or perhaps of knowing anything at all.

The uncertainties that hover around the Mueller report evoke similar themes. How much can be known about what Donald Trump had in mind when he fired James Comey? Was Mr. Trump intent on stopping the Russia investigation, or was his goal to remove an F.B.I. director who irritated him for other reasons? Will the question of what Paul Manafort was up to remain forever unanswered, the information crucial to solving the puzzle lost? And if the full story of the Russia affair remains beyond the reach of explanation, to what extent does this cast doubt on the whole project of restoring order in the first place?

As in the metaphysical detective story, these factual gaps raise broader questions about the detective’s inability to reconstruct the story of the crime. Put crudely, this is the question of what it means that Robert Mueller can’t save the country. It’s how to understand the effect on the stability of American democracy of both the president’s relative impunity at the end of an investigation that strongly implied he may have committed serious crimes and the nation’s inability to come to grips with the fact of interference by a foreign power in an election.

Or to put it another way: Does anything matter?

Mr. Mueller clearly thinks it does. Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, he became most animated when he spoke about election interference: “I hope this is not the new normal,” he said, “but I fear it is.”

In this way, the Mueller report may turn out to be more of a film noir than anything else. The detective successfully uncovers the plot, only to discover that the society around him is too rotten to do anything about it. For all the missing pieces in this story, the issue is less whether it can be told and more whether anyone cares to listen.RelatedOpinion | Quinta Jurecic4 Disturbing Details You May Have Missed in the Mueller ReportJune 7, 2019

Quinta Jurecic (@qjurecic)is the managing editor of Lawfare.

REPORT: China Rises in U.N. Climate Talks, While U.S. Goes AWOL



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China Rises in U.N. Climate Talks, While U.S. Goes AWOL

As the global body becomes increasingly identified with tackling climate change, Trump refuses to take part, handing the reins to Beijing.


Smoke billows from a large steel plant as a Chinese laborer works at an unauthorized steel factory in Inner Mongolia, China, on Nov. 4, 2016.

In a bid to slow the pace of global warming, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has invited major powers, including Britain, China, India, France, and Turkey, to help shape the environmental agenda at a major U.N. climate summit in New York in September. The United States, which the U.N. encouraged to participate, has yet to say whether it will attend the high-level meeting and has opted out of the preliminary negotiations—leaving it to others, including rivals like Beijing, to write the rules.

The absence of U.S. negotiators from the U.N. talks risks undercutting the White House’s effort at the U.N. to contain the rise of China, which has taken the lead in several forums on environmental issues. With Washington on the sidelines, Beijing—at Guterres’s invitation—will co-chair discussions at the U.N. with New Zealand on “nature-based solutions” to global warming, including management of forests, rivers, lakes, and oceans.Trending Articles

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“By staying out of these negotiations, the U.S. is basically giving Beijing a free pass,” Richard Gowan, a U.N. expert at the International Crisis Group, told Foreign Policy. “So much of the current effort to contain China at the U.N. boils down to bickering over language in not very important resolutions. I think the Trump administration is missing the big picture, which is that for a lot of countries climate diplomacy is the most important part of what the U.N. does.”

The moves come as the United States has stepped up a diplomatic campaign to stall the march of international progress on diplomatic measures to curb the rise of greenhouse gases that are warming the earth. The White House has selected a climate change doubter to lead a commission to scrutinize a raft of U.S. and international studies detailing the impact a warmer climate is having on the Earth. In an Arctic Council meeting this week in Rovaniemi, Finland, the United States blocked the international body from even mentioning climate change in a final outcome declaration.

Speaking at the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made no mention of climate change and instead touted “new opportunities for trade” presented by the melting of the polar ice caps.

He also warned of geopolitical and security challenges in the Arctic, calling out Russia’s military build-up in the region and warning China “could use its civilian research presence in the Arctic to strengthen its military presence.”

The U.N., meanwhile, has been serving up a raft of studies detailing the alarming risk posed by climate change, which has been accelerating at a pace unforeseen by previous forecasts and bringing with it more violent wildfires, storms, and flooding across the globe. On Monday, the U.N. warned that 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. For now, climate change is only the third key contributor to the decimation of biodiversity, behind unsustainable sea and land use practices and the overexploitation of organisms. But the impact of climate change on biodiversity is growing and will in some cases surpass the threat posed by human exploitation of sea and land.

It was the latest report to land with a noiseless thud in Washington, where President Donald Trump has continued espousing skeptical views of climate change despite the dire warnings from the U.N., the U.S. military, and scientists in his own government. It has left foreign delegates frustrated by the administration’s dismissal of the mounting body of scientific evidence that is screaming at policymakers to act to address the Earth’s health.

“Warnings based on science deserve to be taken seriously,” said Kai Sauer, Finland’s U.N. ambassador. “Early warning and prevention have become essential functions of today’s U.N. Previously, this was predominantly the case in the field of peace and security, but today increasingly in areas such as development, climate change, and, most recently, biodiversity.”

“The disappearance of biodiversity is, with climate change, another existential threat to humanity,” France’s U.N. ambassador, François Delattre, told Foreign Policy. “What does it take for the awareness of this man-made tragedy, a kind of genesis in reverse, to cross the beltway?”


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Paul Bodnar, a former senior National Security Council aide on energy and climate change under former President Barack Obama’s administration, said such warnings aren’t likely to gain much traction in Trump’s Washington.

“If there’s no mechanism in the interagency [process] to elevate these issues, it tends to go nowhere, unless there’s some international shaming, or if a foreign leader raises it with Trump or Pompeo,” said Bodnar, now a managing director at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit that studies clean energy. “It is all, at the end of the day, a function of what the president cares about. I don’t think it’s any surprise biodiversity and environmental protection are not at the top of the president’s priority list.”

A State Department spokesperson insisted that “[d]espite the global situation, the United States has a good story to tell” on environmental conservation. “The United States is one of the largest bilateral and multilateral donors to nature conservation, spending more than $400 million annually to support biodiversity conservation worldwide, and billions more at home,” the spokesperson said.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services cites five key causes of the collapse of Earth biodiversity: changes in land and sea use, exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution, and invasive species. 

The report, the most comprehensive study ever produced on biodiversity, drew on the work of 145 experts from 50 countries. “Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” Josef Settele of Germany, one of three co-chairs of the assessment, said in a statement released with the report. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

In April, 13 U.S. federal agencies released a major report confirming that climate change was already contributing to deadlier wildfires and hurricanes, and it could shave off hundreds of billions of dollars from some sectors of the economy by the end of the century.

The U.N. issued its own landmark report last October warning that the global climate is expected to increase by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of 2040, a level that would accelerate droughts, increase food shortages, and cost the world tens of trillions of dollars in lost economic production.

The White House has responded to these reports with a mix of mockery and contempt, critics say. Earlier this year, the White House made preparations to set up a new committee to challenge scientific reports claiming that climate change is man-made. The commission would reportedly be chaired by William Happer, an emeritus Princeton University physicist with no formal training in climate science, who has likened the “demonization” of carbon dioxide to the treatment of Jews under Adolph Hitler.

“The Trump administration has a track record of ignoring science,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, the chief program officer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We see, even when it’s the U.S. natural systems and communities on the front line of harm on climate change and other types of devastation, the Trump administration is ready to do nothing. Even more than doing nothing, they are actively working every day to undermine bedrock environmental protections in place for years.”

The Obama administration put climate change at the front and center of its diplomacy, crafting the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement that outlined ambitious country-by-country plans to curb global carbon emissions.

The Trump administration began dismantling those efforts as soon as it took over, beginning by drastically watering down language on climate change on the State Department’s website and culminating in Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement in June 2017.

His nominee as U.N. ambassador, Kelly Knight Craft, a wealthy Republican donor who served as Trump’s envoy to Canada, has downplayed the international consensus that human activity is fueling global warming, saying that “both sides of the science” had merit on climate change debate.

In an effort to maintain momentum on climate, the U.N. chief in March called on world leaders, business leaders, local governments, and others to convene at the U.N. headquarters on Sept. 23. “I am telling leaders: ‘In September, please don’t come with a speech; come with a plan,’” Guterres said.

The conference will try to secure agreements to take some form of action on six major areas: promoting a global transition to renewable energy; making urban infrastructure more resilient in the face of extreme weather; encouraging the sustainable management of forests, agriculture, and oceans; aiding countries vulnerable to global warming to adapt to the new realities; and securing public and private financing to address the major challenges posed by climate.

The U.N. has invited more than a dozen key countries, including Britain, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, India, Turkey, and Qatar, to lead international negotiations on several significant issues, including carbon pricing schemes, financing for renewable energies, and the development of resilient urban infrastructure.

“We can no longer wait for one country to lead the way on climate,” said one U.N. official. “The key is for all actors to understand they have the capacity and responsibility to do something. We need to change the way we consume and we produce. There is a need for transformational change.”

The State Department has sidelined efforts to address climate change and left the career professionals working on the issue in Foggy Bottom without clear guidance on what to do, according to a Government Accountability Office report published in January. “State changed its approach in 2017, no longer providing missions with guidance on whether and how to include climate change risks in their integrated country strategies,” the report read.

Ahead of the Arctic Council meeting this week, the Trump administration pushed to strip all references to climate change or the Paris climate agreement from the international body’s joint statement, according to the Washington Post. Pompeo defended the decision in an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on Sunday ahead of his trip to Finland for the Arctic Council meeting, casting doubt on the effectiveness of the Paris climate deal.

“We don’t think that that has any hope of being successful. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen America reduce its carbon footprint while the signatories, including China, haven’t done theirs,” he said.

China is still the world’s largest consumer of coal, and its total carbon emissions increased last year, despite a pledge to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into renewable energy in the coming years.

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramerVIEW

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Blogger will give speech in Norway June 19 2019

This is an advanced draft of speech and speech notes to be delivered at the University of Oslo June 19, 2019.


INTRODUCTION- GREETINGS, GIVE NAMES association. I am honored to speak with you today as one American giving what I hope is an informed guided tour of recent events in our country, how they came to be and where this once more respectable Superpower entered its present chaotic condition. Our esteemed President said “we need More Norwegians” emigrating to the United States. Do we have any volunteers? Perhaps he should have said: “we need to be more Like Norway.”  But then, he would never Say that.

What I propose to do is in 3 parts. For about 35 minutes I would like to share with you ideas on how the US got into its present situation: both in domestic politics and foreign policy. For about 15 minutes I would like you to ask me about what you would like to know about the current insanity and your view of Norway’s View of this predicament. Finally with the remaining 10 minutes time I would like to ask You volunteers from the audience to tell Me some answers to questions I have about the future of the EU, Brexit, and all that.

  1. Where are we? How did we get here? Stress historical precedents (Reagan, Norquist, Rove, the Bushes, the right Wing press, FOX, Thomas Frank recommend)
  • Stress less for now things like: Russian collusion, Mueller Report, polarization, Trumps idiosyncrasies, angry whites… look at the longer term picture
  • Instead of launching into a list of Trump oddities and destructive policy and aggressive posturing: start with a list of why someone so improbable would defeat Hillary Clinton and  the background conditions that made his win possible, if only by a razor thin margin.
  • Then after laying the groundwork for a Trump unlikely win, and his appeal to various factions (elaborate) and also briefly sketch out how the electoral college is tilted in favor of the Republicans in recent years
  • Try to differentiate actual policies of the past 2 to 10 years Obama Trump) and the various incomprehensible buffoonish and crude, crass qualities of the man…. Note: abortion, traditional values, Machismo, America first, immigration, and other issues that Trump capitalizes on…the man may be very odd, perhaps unbalanced, certainly narcissistic, but not stupid
  • CRITICAL IMPACT of electoral college and Senate as a problem for todays Democrats and Progressives. The minimum number of electors per state is 3 and all states have 2 senators: The top ten states (CA, TX< NY< FLA, etc.) have 20 senators and represent a total of 152,000,000 people. The bottom 10 states in population (WY, AK, VT) each have 2 senators (also 20 total) and represent 9,364,000 people.

The system was designed in 1787 so that small former colonies like Delaware and Georgia would have equal representation in the Senate to the larger populated states like Virginia and Massachusetts. Today effectively: a senator in Wyoming would be representing about 290,000 people  (577,000/ 2), while a senator from California would be representing 20 million people, although in fact both senators are elected by all of the voters in each state.

In The electoral college, which determines who wins the presidency, the minimum vote per state is 3. There are 8 states with populations small enough to give them 3 votes each or 24 votes. The 8 states with the largest populations have 206 electors total 139 million people The 8 states with 24 electors have 7 million people. So an electoral vote in one of the largest states represents about 10 times as many people as in the smaller states.

The point is that the US president can be elected not only without winning the popular vote (2016 Clinton 65,845,063  Trump 62,980,160   ) but that the small states are over-represented in the electoral college because of a large number of states with 3,4 or 5 votes. These tend to be rural states with an increasingly conservative voter base, with the exception of Vermont and Hawaii. Again, this strongly favors the Republicans.

To be fair the top 12 states in population could win the electoral college, the top 16 would guarantee Democratic victory. Or Republican. Theoretically

But these top 12 states include CA, NY, PA, IL, normally Democratic.  Only TX for now is reliably Republican. FL and NC can go either way,


2 AMERICAS 2019:


  1. Optimistic, though less so than in the pre-Vietnam period; some of this if from the humming economy, which Trump takes full credit for even though there were 90 months of economic recovery under the Obama administration before Trump took office
  2. Strong civil society, grassroots activism, lower crime rates; violent crime nationally has fallen the the level of the 1960s in spite of the spectacular shootings that we seem to produce almost on a weekly basis
  3. Appreciation of great variety: cultures and landscape
  • Immense wealth so the potential for opportunity for all: U.S. government spending is $4.7 trillion (2019); Kennedy’s first budget in 1961 was about $100 BILLION. The Kennedy budget would be about $800 billion in today’s terms or about 1/6 of the current budget. Today the U.S. spends about $660 billion for defense and veterans expenses.

Below your Graph of US discretionary spending I have listed items that could be provided by the government if the defense budget were trimmed by 28%.It is generally agreed, even among so called defense spending “hawks” [you might say “highk”/hauk] that the defense budget could be cut by 20% with absolutely no effect on its real power. There is much waste and redundancy [overflødighet/ohver-flu-dee-et] in that budget.

  • Perception (declining) of American exceptionalism, destiny (EXPAND)


  1. Dramatically increased inequality of wealth and prosperity even in the midst of what appears to be unprecedented prosperity
  • What has been characterized as an infection of the collective mind, Trumpism and unprecedented polarization and backsliding In a bewildering range of arenas to be discussed: but mainly pro-business and wealth friendly policy changes
  • Disturbing social indicators: decline of middle class, lower crime but still high incarceration rates, increases in drug abuse, suicide, divorce, gun crime, income and wealth differentials, traffic deaths, bankruptcies and foreclosures; mental illness, homelessness
  • Americans are seriously divided over questions such as government regulation, taxes, income redistribution, immigration and race relations, abortion and women’s health—and role in society; tolerance, sexuality for example
  • Although Americans as a whole are not particularly concerned with world opinion of them, their opinion of themselves and the country’s future seems to be in decline. The reasons for this decline are widely disputed. There are multiple ironies in Trump’s slogan “Make America great, again.”

There are far too many statistics to elaborate on in the short time we have, but we can offer a few. (Quip by Mark Twain about lies, damned lies, and statistics.) But we can be fairly sure that there have been about 3 million traffic deaths in the U.S. since 1920, and perhaps 35 million world-wide since that time. It is hard to get reliable numbers.  2 statistics stand out: 1. In 2013 the World Health Organization estimated 1.25 million world traffic deaths for that year alone; 2. Since World War II it is likely that half the number of deaths in that conflict have occurred on the world’s roads….

A third statistic that is simply curious is that in any 4 week period following the September 11 attacks on the U.S., more people died in traffic accidents than in those attacks.


  1. SPECIFIC TO TRUMP- I want to try to move the needle a bit and discuss the Trump’s rise to power from his unlikely strengths and appeal. You like most academic audiences are probably more used to getting information on the obvious flaws in Trump the candidate and Trump the chief executive. We will get to those soon enough
  2. CANDIDATE TRUMP-Who did he appeal to, given his personal qualities: rich playboy, controversial real estate ventures, reality TV star, 3 high profile wives etc?  In spite of his bullying, New York tough-guy ways he overcame the NEVER TRUMP traditional conservative to moderately conservative wing of the Republican Party.

You have to remember that the country had 8 years of Nixon/Ford, 8 years of the More Conservative Reagan, and the slightly less conservative George H.W, Bush. And then the 8 years of George W. Bush, although many still believe that his first election in 2000 by 538 Florida votes (exactly the number, by the way of electors in the electoral college!—pure coincidence unless your are fascinated by numerical coincidences).

Trump projected a macho image much as Reagan had, one favored by Republicans. It happens that for these 2 presidents the machismo was more style than substance. With Hillary Clinton running as a female, assertive, tough, and highly accomplished technocrat, not charismatic.

But Trump’s appeal in the campaign was not simply to ignorant, negative, provincial voters, although those were a part of has base:

Following are some key voting groups that he convinced that he was the better choice than Clinton and will use in 2020:

  • PRO ABORTION RIGHTS V. ANTI ABORTION RIGHTS. Trump was in fact the better choice for anti-abortion voters and these were more than 40% of the American electorate in 2016. Of course there a gradations of

Approval or disapproval based on medical circumstances, religious beliefs, etc. but the terms pro life and pro choice are actual fairly useful terms. Although many people are not completely pro-life (fetus as baby) many, IDENTIFY as largely anti- abortion, in the 35 to 40% range

  • HARD LINE ON IMMIGRATION: Many of the same people who oppose

Abortion in these 25 mostly total states with two Senators each (50 of 100), are also sensitive to changes in their world caused by … million immigrants coming into the country. To oversimplify: they want restrictions for 100 different reasons. The perception is that people from Mexico, or India, or Africa, or the Caribbean Islands will have special skills, will work long hours and for less pay than working class or “marginal” Americans

  • GUNS- Many of these same people who oppose abortion and want much less immigration also oppose restrictions on gun ownership. Guns are one of many divisive issues in the US. Norway experienced its own tragic mass shooting in 2011 of course. But in the US there have been more than 200 school shootings with 400 deaths since 2011. Between 2006 and 2017 there have been approximately 320 shootings of 4 or more people totaling about 1450 dead.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE/ PRO- CARBON FUELS- Trump refused to sign the Paris accords on climate change and global warming and has not shown an interest in measures to slow this rolling catastrophe. One reputable survey showed that 30% of Americans were “very worried about climate change” but fewer were willing to spend large sums to prevent it, These figures present an opportunity for Trump because he is closer to mainstream opinion on actually doing something about climate change.
  • ANTI-FREE TRADE- Americans are conflicted on free trade. If you ask a general question about the value of free trade agreements, there will generally be more than 50% support. But more specific questions like the impact of cheap foreign goods on American economic well-being the support will drop. Many Americans are content to shop for cheap foreign products while criticizing trade agreements that send jobs abroad or hurt U.S. labor. Trump’s general anti-free trade attitude, his withdrawal from  or modification of  the Trans-Pacific and NAFTA Agreements and his pro-tariff policies are moderately popular and his surprisingly skilled subsidy of farmers or industries hurt in the short term by such measures helps him. Loss of control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats may complicate these efforts.
  • EUROPE/BREXIT- Of course you are aware of Trump’s partially successful insistence that European NATO countries increase their financial support for NATO. Trump has generally been supportive of Brexit and nationalist foreign policies generally and less supportive of American alliances of any President since the 1920s.
  •  Trump has a certain appeal  to Americans for delivering on his campaign promises and his America First policies. His lack of criticism of foreign strong men, whom he sometimes identifies with, has hurt him with voters and groups outside of his base of support, but these are Democrats and people who would not be likely to support Trump anyway. The so called mainstream media have been overwhelmingly critical of Trump. His public support is the lowest of any president since the Gallup poll began—averaging about 45% and only above 50% for a few of the 880 days he has been in office as of today.


It must be said that American progressives/liberals have existed for 20 months in a kind of living nightmare. My experience is that 4 out of five dinner conversations have circled back to the sheer Narcissism and mental strangeness of the elected Chief Executive. There have been questions about whether trump actually one an lection when his opponent got almost 3 million more popular votes than he did, and he one three large states PA< MI<WI by 78,000 votes total in 2016.

I am not alone in endorsing a theory, a serious one in political science, that when an unprecedented politician lies When he does not need to, congenitally, as a reflex and promotes policies almost daily that alienate at least 50n % of the population, people become numb almost immune to the horror of what they are living with.

Although Trump must be credited for not sending 8000 young Americans to their deaths. Or the equivalent of killing over a million Iraqi and Afghan civilians, he has created an atmosphere where truth is always questioned. He is not exactly a Trujillo or Mussolini, but that seems due to the strong if sometimes corrupt American constitutional and legal system. He is not as intelligent as any of the last 14 presidents, possibly going back to Harding in 1921, but he is by no means stupid. And although more advisors and Cabinet members have left his 30 month administration than any President’s in American history, he still has some intelligent (we say “crafty” [give Norwegian and ask] advisors, which are now called “handlers” colloquially.

2016 US Presidential Election Map By

County &amp; Vote Share

November 29, 2016 

2016 US Presidential Election Map By County & Vote Share

Map created by Magog the Ogre via Wikimedia

The map above shows the county level and vote share results of the 2016 US Presidential Election. The darker the blue the more a county went for Hilary Clinton and the darker the red the more the county went for Donald Trump. This map helps explain why Trump was able to win.


Health insurance for $200 million Americans who currently have in adequate medical coverage. If the defense budget were reduced by $175 bullion then the 200 million Americans would have 25% more for health coverage. THE EFFICIENCIES IN THIS KIND OF 1 PAYER PROGRAM (government) would save the U.S. as a whole about $500 billion per year.

 The US defense budget is larger than the next 15 defense budgets combined.