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

IS THIS THE NEW NORMAL? CAN THE U.S. SURVIVE 1.5 MORE YEARS OF ITS CURRENT POLICIES?

R

Share via Email

REPORT

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.

BY COLUM LYNCHROBBIE GRAMER | MAY 7, 2019, 5:13 PM

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

Spilling the Tea in Sri Lanka

As large colonial-era tea plantations crumble, family-owned plots are trying to take their place and save the industry.

Powered By 

“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?”

READ MORE

Local students hold a sign that reads “Save Lamu Women's Movement” in Swahili at a poetry competition in Lamu Town to raise awareness about the effects of coal on the environment on Nov. 29, 2017.

When Coal Comes to Paradise

As China pushes clean energy policies at home, it is exporting its high-pollution coal industry to pristine places like Kenya’s Lamu Island—with Nairobi’s seal of approval. Local residents fear it will destroy the environment they depend on.FEATURE DANA ULLMAN

U.S. President Donald Trump announces his intention to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, outside the White House on June 1, 2017.

Leaving the Paris Agreement Is a Bad Deal for the United States

Trump’s plan to quit the accord would provide serious cover for major emitters like China and India.SHADOW GOVERNMENT RICK DUKE

2020-foreign-policy-jonathan-tepperman

The 2020 Candidates Aren’t Talking About Foreign Policy. They Need to Start.

The United States caused many of the planet’s problems and can still unmake them—but only if its politicians face up to the challenge.ESSAY JONATHAN TEPPERMAN

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
COMMENTS
TAGS: CHINA, CLIMATE CHANGE, DIPLOMACY, REPORT, UNITED NATIONS

TRENDING NOW SPONSORED LINKS BY TABOOLAIf Your Dog Eats Grass (Do This Every Day)Ultimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementForget About Expensive Solar Panels in New York (Do This Instead)Top.SolarThese SUVs Will Take Your Breath Away. Research 2019 Luxury Crossover SUV DealsLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsBlunder #10: Mismanaging Retirement WithdrawalsFisher InvestmentsBY TABOOLA

MORE FROM FOREIGN POLICYIn Japan and South Korea, Trump Boxed Himself InChina’s Overrated TechnocratsBeijing Could Choke The World Or Save ItIt’s Trump’s Fourth of July NowBY TABOOLA

latest

Shiite Militias Are Taking Over the Iraqi State From the InsideJULY 9, 2019, 6:50 AMWill More Talks Resolve Venezuela’s Crisis?JULY 9, 2019, 5:54 AMIran and the United States Battle It Out in IraqJULY 8, 2019, 7:43 PMTrump Should Not Forget VenezuelaJULY 8, 2019, 7:19 PMUnraveling of Iran Nuclear Deal Exposes Europe’s WeaknessJULY 8, 2019, 5:07 PMSEE ALL STORIES

TRENDING

  1. 1Why Young Koreans Love to Splurge
  2. 2Muslim Leaders Are Betraying the Uighurs
  3. 3The Coldest Case 464 SHARES
  4. 4The Myth of Democratic Socialism
  5. 5Unraveling of Iran Nuclear Deal Exposes Europe’s Weakness

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.

DRAFT OF SPEECH ELEMENTS FOR NORWAY TALK JUNE 19: INCLUDES  QUESTIONS

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:

Light

  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)

Dark

  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.

BULLETS FOR TOPICS TO DISCUSS & DEVELOP

  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.

TRUMP’S OPPOSITION AND LIABILITIES

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.

https://media.nationalpriorities.org/uploads/discretionary_spending_pie%2C_2015_enacted.png

IF DEFENSE BUDGET WERE CUT BY 28%

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.

Source: THE ECONOMIST

Robert Mueller has finished his investigation, but that may be the least of the U.S. president’s worries.

INFOGRAPHIC

All the Legal Trouble in Trumpworld

Robert Mueller has finished his investigation, but that may be the least of the U.S. president’s worries.

BY JEFCOATE O’DONNELLMARCH 8, 2019, 6:00 AM

The looming conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into U.S. President Donald Trump may be dominating the conversation in Washington. But Trump faces a long list of other ongoing inquiries, some of which may ultimately cause him far more trouble. Here are the 10 most pressing investigations into the president, his campaign staffers, and his inner circle.

Violation of campaign finance laws

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and longtime fixer, has testified that Trump ordered him to pay hush money to silence adulterous scandals that could have hurt his presidential campaign.

Who’s Implicated: Michael Cohen

Danger for Trump: This case directly implicates the president.

Status: Cohen has pleaded guilty to “felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with” Trump. Additionally, in testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27, Cohen showed off personal checks signed by Trump, which Cohen testified were to reimburse him for the payoffs. Cohen added that Trump was involved in other illegal activities but said he could not comment because of the ongoing nature of the investigations.

Return to Top

Irregular spending by Trump’s inaugural committee

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office

Trump raised a record $107 million for his inauguration, but investigators have little idea where the money went. Prosecutors are investigatingan array of troubling maneuvers that include allegedly booking rooms at the Trump Hotel at inflated prices and mail and wire fraud and money laundering. WIS Media Partners, a firm run by a friend of first lady Melania Trump, was the highest paid contractor for the inauguration, earning$26 million.

Who’s Involved: Trump’s inaugural committee, Ivanka TrumpEric TrumpDonald Trump Jr., former Trump campaign official Rick Gates, and WIS Media Partners

Danger for Trump: Trump is facing intense scrutiny across three jurisdictions as a result of his inaugural committee’s behavior.

Status: In February, courts subpoenaed the inaugural committee for documentation, though no one has been charged with any wrongdoing. The case is ongoing.

Return to Top

Unregistered foreign lobbying

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort used a shell organization to lobby for the pro-Russian government of Ukraine, enlisting white-shoe lobbyists Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, as well as the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, without properly registering as a foreign agent.

Who’s Implicated: Paul Manafort’s lawyer Gregory Craig, and lobbyists Vin Weber and Tony Podesta

Danger for Trump: The case shows the pro-Russian tilt of his campaign manager and his allegedly illegal operations. It also shows Mueller’s ability to work closely with other prosecutors to investigate a broader range of potential wrongdoing than he can as special counsel.

Status: Skadden, which allegedly advised Mercury not to register as a foreign agent, settled its case for $4.6 million, representing the amount it earned from its shadowy work in Ukraine. Skadden, Mercury and the now defunct Podesta Group have all registered retroactively as acting on behalf of a foreign government.

Return to Top

Irregular super PAC finances

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

Paul Manafort lied about a $125,000 payment he received from the Trump super PAC “Rebuilding America Now” in 2017. Coordination between political action committees and campaigns is illegal. Manafort’s associate, Sam Patten, has pleaded guilty to FARA violations and his testimony shed light on the details of how foreign actors worked to gain access to Trump’s inauguration. Patten revealed that he secured tickets to the event on behalf of an oligarch from Ukraine by organizing a U.S. citizen to act as a proxy buyer.

Who’s Implicated: Paul Manafort, Sam Patten, and Rebuilding America Now

Danger for Trump: The case shows how those close to Trump misused campaign money and facilitated improper access to the president by foreign influencers from Ukraine and Russia from the very start of his term.

Status: Manafort is behind bars for violating his plea deals with Mueller and will face sentencing on March 13 for conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice through witness tampering. Patten has pleaded guilty to violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and faces sentencing in April; he is cooperating with investigators.

Return to Top

Allegedly illegal operations by the Donald J. Trump Foundation

The New York Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance

The lawsuit skewers the Trump Foundation for alleged “extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign” as well as “repeated and willful self-dealing transactions” and “violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations.” The alleged misconduct of the Trump Foundation includes using funds to buy a portrait of the president at a fundraiser in an effort to burnish his image, as well as allegedly using its money to funnel resources into organizing a campaign fundraiser in Iowa that raised millions of dollars.

Who’s Implicated: Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.

Danger for Trump: This case is especially damaging for the president. Former New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the Trump Foundation functioned as “little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,” and Letitia James, who took the case over when she was sworn in as Attorney General is seeking a 10-year ban on Trump and his adult children from running nonprofits, as well as repayment of $2.8 million.

Status: The case is ongoing, but the Trump Foundation has been dissolved, and its remaining funds are set to be distributed to other nonprofits.

Return to Top

Allegations of tax fraud and tax evasion by the Trump family

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

Following a New York Times investigation into the Trump family’s finances, city and state officials said they were investigating allegations that the Trump family may have committed tax fraud and tax evasion over the course of several decades.

Who’s Implicated: Donald Trump and the Trump Organization

Danger for Trump: Evidence of systemic tax evasion could strike a major blow to Trump’s credibility. Trump’s unreleased tax returns have been a high-profile departure from U.S. political norms. The House Ways and Means Committee has the power to demand the release of Trump’s tax returns, something that Democrats are now calling for with renewed energy after Michael Cohen told Congress that he believed Trump had failed to release his tax returns because he did not want tax experts to “run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces” and feared “taxable consequences [and] penalties.”

Status: The investigation is ongoing.

Return to Top

United States v. Maria Butina

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division of the U.S. Justice Department

Maria Butina is the first Russian to be prosecuted directly for attempting to influence the U.S. political landscape in the Trump era. Butina posed as a gun rights activist and gained influence in the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association, all while allegedly working as a Russian agent.

Who’s Implicated: Maria Butina

Danger for Trump: The case is an additional indication of Russia’s interest in advancing Trump’s candidacy. Butina also managed to directly askTrump a question about Russia and sanctions at the start of his run for president. “What will be your foreign politics … and do you want to continue the politics of sanctions?” Butina asked. Trump responded, “I believe I would get along on very nicely with [Vladimir] Putin.”

Status: Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring against the United States. In late February, the court declined to set a date for her sentencing, as she continues to cooperate with U.S. authorities. She will likely be deported to Russia at the conclusion of any time she serves.

Return to Top

Russian disinformation campaigns

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia

“Project Lakhta,” a Russian disinformation campaign that used social media to interfere in the 2016 presidential and 2018 midterm elections,worked to “sow discord in the U.S. political system and to undermine faith in our democratic institutions,” according to prosecutors.

Who’s Implicated: Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, allegedly the chief accountant for Project Lakhta

Danger for Trump: The case provides insight into the inner workings of Russian efforts to boost Trump’s electoral chances, as well as prosecutors’ determination to hold foreign actors accountable for interfering in U.S. elections.

Status: Khusyaynova has been indicted, and the case is ongoing.

Return to Top

Improper Turkish influence inside Trump’s campaign and administration.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia

Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his business partner Bijan Kian allegedly served as unregistered lobbyists for Turkish interests and were paid to undermine Turkish cleric and regime gadfly Fethullah Gulen as a part of a 90-day campaign against him that was dubbed “Operation Confidence.”

Who’s Implicated: Michael Flynn, Bijan Kian, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin, who created the firm Inovo that allegedly hired the Flynn Intel Group to launch an anti-Gulen campaign

Danger for Trump: The president’s efforts to get the FBI to stop investigating Flynn during the early days of his administration led directly to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel.

Status: Kian and Alptekin were indicted in December 2018, and Kian pleaded not guilty. Alptekin has yet to appear in a U.S. court, and his location is unknown. Flynn is cooperating with the Mueller investigation and will serve as a principal witness when Kian goes on trial in July.

Return to Top

Alleged violations of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause

The attorneys general’s offices for Maryland and the District of Columbia

The Constitution bars the president from using his office to profit from foreign states. The Washington Post reported in December 2018 that Saudi lobbyists had paid for an estimated 500 nights in Trump’s D.C. hotel over a three-month period so that military veterans could come to Washington and lobby against a bill the Saudi government opposed. Profits from the Saudi government going to a Trump-owned hotel would seem to violate the emoluments clause.

Who’s Implicated: Donald Trump and the Trump Organization

Danger for Trump: He is directly implicated. A clear constitutional violation could raise the question of impeachment.

Status: The court rejected Trump’s initial efforts to shut the investigation down. The case is ongoing.

Return to Top

Elizabeth Warren Actually Wants to Fix Capitalism

She makes sense, for sure. Is she enough of a brawler? Eugene Debs, Robert LaFollette, Henry Wallace, maybe Raph Nadar, also and sense. But the destiny of the Republic requires, this once, a tough guy (he can have a VP of any combination of genders and colors as long as they are really good and can balance the macho chieftain who can knock Trump (or Pence, should Trump step down) of the pedestal.

She has big ideas for repairing the American economy. The other Democratic candidates should too.

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt NEW YORK TIMES

Opinion Columnist

Senator Elizabeth Warren is running for president with a platform that aims to reform American capitalism.CreditFrank Franklin Ii/Associated Press

  • March 15, 2019
Senator Elizabeth Warren is running for president with a platform that aims to reform American capitalism.CreditCreditFrank Franklin Ii/Associated Press

Bill Clinton had a consequential presidency when it came to the economy. He brought down the Reagan-era deficits, helping spark the strongest economic boom in decades, and he made the tax code more progressive.

Barack Obama had an even more consequential presidency. He halted the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He did so in part by signing a stimulus bill full of spending on education, wind energy and other programs with lasting benefits. He also put in place new regulations for Wall Street and extended health insurance to almost 20 million people.

Yet for all that both men accomplished, neither changed the fundamental direction of the American economy.

By the end of Obama’s eight years, G.D.P. growth was still disappointing. Middle-class and poor families were still receiving less than their fair share of that growth. Median household wealth was lower than it had been two decades earlier. In the most shocking sign of struggle, average life expectancy has declined in recent years. Rich Americans, on the other hand, continue to thrive, amassing Gilded Age-level concentrations of wealth. The resulting frustration helped make possible the rise of Donald Trump.

ADVERTISEMENT

This history suggests that the Democratic Party’s economic agenda needs to become more ambitious. Modest changes in the top marginal tax rate or in middle-class tax credits aren’t enough. The country needs an economic policy that measures up to the scale of our challenges.RelatedOpinionOne-on-One With Elizabeth Warren An interview with the Massachusetts senator and 2020 presidential contender.March 13, 2019

So far, only one candidate among the 2020 contenders has an agenda with this level of ambition: Elizabeth Warren. Her platform aims to reform American capitalism so that it once again works well for most American families. The recent tradition in Democratic politics has been different. It has been largely to accept that big companies are going to get bigger and do everything they can to hold down workers’ pay. The government will then try to improve things through income taxes and benefit programs.

Warren is trying to treat not just the symptoms but the underlying disease. She has proposed a universal child-care and pre-K program that echoes the universal high school movement of the early 20th century. She favors not only a tougher approach to future mergers, as many Democrats do, but also a breakup of Facebook and other tech companies that have come to resemble monopolies. She wants to require corporations to include worker representatives on their boards — to end the era of “shareholder-value maximization,” in which companies care almost exclusively about the interests of their shareholders, often at the expense of their workers, their communities and their country.

Warren was also the first high-profile politician to call for an annual wealth tax, on fortunes greater than $50 million. This tax is the logical extension of research by the economist Thomas Piketty and others, which has shown how extreme wealth perpetuates itself. Historically, such concentration has often led to the decline of powerful societies. Warren, unlike some Democrats, comfortably explains that she is not socialist. She is a capitalist and, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, is trying to save American capitalism from its own excesses.

Editors’ Picks

Andy Cohen Is Tired of Being ‘Dad Shamed’ by ‘Momsplainers’

When the Dominatrix Moved In Next Door

‘One Day at a Time’ and Why Netflix Is Not Your Friend

ADVERTISEMENT

[Sign up for David Leonhardt’s daily newsletter with commentary on the news and reading suggestions from around the web.]

“Sometimes, bigger ideas are more possible to accomplish,” Warren told me during a recent conversation about the economy at her Washington apartment. “Because you can inspire people.”

Before I go further, I want to offer two caveats. One, Warren’s grasp of the country’s problems does not necessarily mean that she should be the Democratic nominee for president. Politics is not an expertise competition. The nominee should be, and most likely will be, the candidate who best inspires voters. Maybe that will be Warren, or maybe it will be someone else.

Two, I don’t agree with all of Warren’s proposals. Her plan to break up the big technology companies seems too uniform, for example. Her plan to put workers on corporate boards may not be as practical as, say, a big federal push to increase workers’ bargaining power.

Sign Up for Paul Krugman’s Newsletter

Paul Krugman did explanatory journalism before it was cool, moving from a career as a world-class economist to writing hard-hitting opinion columns.SIGN UPSenator Warren’s proposals include a universal child-care and pre-K program, and a wealth tax.Credit Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

Senator Warren’s proposals include a universal child-care and pre-K program, and a wealth tax.CreditGabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

But whatever my — or your — specific objections, Warren is identifying the right problems and offering a coherent vision for a post-Obama Democratic agenda. “Clinton and Obama focused on boosting growth and redistribution,” Gabriel Zucman, a University of California, Berkeley, economist who has advised Warren, says. “Warren is focusing on how pretax income can be made more equal.”

She isn’t simply proposing larger versions of Obama’s (worthy) tax cut for middle-class and poor families, as several 2020 candidates have. Her plans are also much more detailed than those of Bernie Sanders (who, to his credit, pushed the party to become bolder). And she has avoided getting trapped in the health insurance wonkery that too often dominates progressive policy debates. The future of the republic does not actually depend on the relative sizes of Medicare, Medicaid and the private market.

ADVERTISEMENT

It may, however, depend on whether Americans’ incomes and living standards are consistently rising.

In the months to come, I hope that every other 2020 candidate offers answers to the questions that Warren has taken on: How can corporate America again help create a prosperous, growing middle class, as it did from the 1940s through the 1970s? How can the power of giant corporations — over consumers, workers and smaller businesses — be constrained? How can the radical levels of wealth inequality be reversed? How can the yawning opportunity gaps for children of different backgrounds be reduced? How can the next president make changes that will endure, rather than be undone by a future president, as both Obama’s and Clinton’s top-end tax increases were?

It is not surprising that Warren has jumped out to an early lead in the ideas primary. The main theme in her life, both professional and personal, has been economic opportunity. Her father was a carpet salesman at Montgomery Ward in Oklahoma City in the 1960s, until he had a heart attack. He had to switch to lower-paying work as a janitor, and her mother got a minimum-wage job, answering phones at Sears.

Warren’s three older brothers all went into the military. “That was their chance to make it into the middle class,” she told me. Warren went to college and became a teacher, until the school chose not to renew her contract rather than give her maternity leave. She then went to a public law school — for $450 per semester — and became a bankruptcy expert, early on at the University of Houston and ultimately at Harvard.

“The way I see it is, I have lived opportunity,” she said. “I’ve lived the kind of opportunity that comes from a government that invests a little in its kids, a government that tries to keep the playing field a little bit level for folks like my family.”

Her theory of political change has been shaped by two experiences — one failure and one success. As a professor in the 1990s, she served on a federal bankruptcy commission and fought against legal changes that favored banks over borrowers. The fight went on for a decade, and Warren’s side lost. The defeat left her believing that a technocratic legislative debate — “the inside game,” as she calls it — almost always favors industry lobbyists.

Four Pieces of Evidence from Michael Cohen Testimony, Ranked by Credibility

Analysis from Associate Blog Editor Alexandra Shiels

Cohen Evidence 1: Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels Payment: Cohen claims first-hand knowledge of hush money payment made to Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels before Election Day to silence her about a sexual encounter she had with Trump. Cohen obtained a home equity line of credit to pay Daniels $130,000 (clearly highlighted in exhibit). He provided oversight committee with a clear signed copy of check dated Aug 1, 2017 from Trump’s personal bank account. The check is allegedly one out of 11 installments from Trump to Chen reimbursing him for using line of credit to pay Daniels. Cohen claimed that Trump directed him to lie and say that Trump had no knowledge of payment to Clifford.




Stormy Daniels Payment: Cohen claims first-hand knowledge of hush money payment made to Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels before Election Day to silence her about a sexual encounter she had with Trump. Cohen obtained a home equity line of credit to pay Daniels $130,000 (clearly highlighted in exhibit). He provided oversight committee with a clear signed copy of check dated Aug 1, 2017 from Trump’s personal bank account. The check is allegedly one out of 11 installments from Trump to Chen reimbursing him for using line of credit to pay Daniels. Cohen claimed that Trump directed him to lie and say that Trump had no knowledge of payment to Clifford.

Credibility rating (1-5)? Solid five. Check is clearly signed, amount is highlighted, and the home equity docs are there to back up. Trump also denied the payment, but hasn’t exactly been vocal on denying the act itself. Unfortunately, we have this very detailed description and Mario Bros’ toadstool is no longer a nostalgic memory of a fun video game for us 90s kids. 

Cohen Evidence 2: Deutche Bank Financial Statements
Cohen gave the committee three years of Trump’s financial statements stating that Trump had “strategically inflated or deflated” his personal assets. The statements were given to Deutsche Bank when Trump was asking for a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to improve his Forbes ranking on list of wealthy Americans.
Credibility rating: Hard five. Cohen’s legal team provided multiple, detailed financial statements. Cohen showed committee two news articles that were examples of how Trump would under or overstate his assets when it was convenient. The first article in the Guardian, describes how Trump tried to reduce his local taxes on New York golf club by claiming it was actually worth $1.4 million instead of $50 million in assets he listed on financial disclosure he released when running for president. The second article from Forbes demonstrated how their estimate was VERY different from Trump’s estimate of his net worth. Trump claimed he was worth almost $9 billion while Forbes put him around $4 billion. The disparity was due to differing evaluations of worth of Trump’s brand. Cohen Evidence 3: The Straw Bidder
Cohen testified that Trump set up a fake bidder to purchase a portrait of him at an Art Hamptons event. Trump wanted his portrait to be purchased for the highest price of the day. The straw bidder, Stewart Rahr, bought the portrait for $60,000 and later the Trump Foundation, a “charitable” organization repaid Rahr using its funds. The WP wrote a similar story in 2016.
Credibility scale: 4.5/5: Remember kids, corruption and fraud are the most common crimes, therefore, the easiest to prove. 


Cohen gave the committee three years of Trump’s financial statements stating that Trump had “strategically inflated or deflated” his personal assets. The statements were given to Deutsche Bank when Trump was asking for a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to improve his Forbes ranking on list of wealthy Americans.
Credibility rating: Hard five. Cohen’s legal team provided multiple, detailed financial statements. Cohen showed committee two news articles that were examples of how Trump would under or overstate his assets when it was convenient. The first article in the Guardian, describes how Trump tried to reduce his local taxes on New York golf club by claiming it was actually worth $1.4 million instead of $50 million in assets he listed on financial disclosure he released when running for president. The second article from Forbes demonstrated how their estimate was VERY different from Trump’s estimate of his net worth. Trump claimed he was worth almost $9 billion while Forbes put him around $4 billion. The disparity was due to differing evaluations of worth of Trump’s brand.Cohen Evidence 3: The Straw Bidder
Cohen testified that Trump set up a fake bidder to purchase a portrait of him at an Art Hamptons event. Trump wanted his portrait to be purchased for the highest price of the day. The straw bidder, Stewart Rahr, bought the portrait for $60,000 and later the Trump Foundation, a “charitable” organization repaid Rahr using its funds. The WP wrote a similar story in 2016.
Credibility scale: 4.5/5: Remember kids, corruption and fraud are the most common crimes, therefore, the easiest to prove. 


Cohen Evidence 4: Russian Trump Tower

Cohen was circumspect and did not use the word “collude” in his testimony. However he was very clear that Trump would do anything to win. Cohen stated Trump asked numerous questions about Moscow negotiations and referred to as specific meeting on June 2016 that Donald Trump, Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort attended.
Credibility rating? Put this one at a three, maybe 3.5.  There’s no recording or email threads documenting this meeting (or it’s not being released in C-Span public testimony) . Although likely and the subject of numerous long form articles, more proof is needed. Tragic, because this is one of the most important pieces in case against Trump. 
One of the most important moments of the hearing wasn’t from Michael Cohen, but from Rep Elijah Cummings (D) during his closing remarks. He said: “You come saying I have made my mistakes, but now I want to change my life,” “And you know, if we…as a nation did not give people an opportunity to change their lives, a whole lot of people would not do very well.” Cummings may be able to offer this benediction, but I’m not that forgiving. Am I glad Cohen’s testimony exists? Sure. But let’s not kid ourselves. This is a man who only came forward because he is facing prison time, because he was caught. This is not a crisis of conscious. Cohen enabled a white supremacist, made sure a lot of hard-working people didn’t get paid, and bullied a lot of schools into keeping Trump’s test scores and grades secret.We have just begun to scratch the surface of Dumb Dumb Watergate. We’ve known for a while that the president is corrupt. But will he pay for that corruption? Does this evidence mean anything or is it just financial statements and salacious anecdotes that will just be another aspect of Trump’s terrible presidency that we’re numb to? We have the evidence. We’ve had the evidence, when do we get the conviction? 

· Topic you might like What would the US look like if liberals were allowed to enact all of their policies without opposition? Are there any existing countries like that to help us judge its long term impact?

Answered 8h ago


Martin Levine
, former Canadian Foreign Service Officer at Government of Canada (1978-2009)





Martin Levine
, former Canadian Foreign Service Officer at Government of Canada (1978-2009)

Americans who are concerned about such issues sometimes point to Canada as a kind of liberal test bed. As I have said in some other Answers this can be very deceptive. Conditions are very different here. So is the Canadian Constitution. So are attitudes. So is the economy. So are the political lobbies.

You can extract a few examples and possibilities but you have to be careful with them and not overextend them.

You’d Need A Comprehensive US Liberal Platform

At both the federal and provincial levels Canada has Liberal Parties. They put forward what their definition of what “liberal” means in the Canadian context. If they get elected they enact their liberal platform, to the extent that budgets allow.

The United States does not have this. The Democratic Party does not pretend to be a liberal party. It’s a grab bag of interests, big corporations, minority group activists, career social workers, people who believe in open borders, people who want the Second Amendment cancelled, some trade unions. etc. This does not add up to a liberal platform. The supporters of Bernie Sanders are saying just that. If it wasn’t so difficult to form third parties in the USA, they would probably be one.

The Liberal Party of Canada has, as part of its platform, things that are not necessarily part of a liberal repertoire. However, since they are the Liberal Party of Canada they have plenty of say so. The Liberal Party platform includes:

-A commitment to multilateral free trade agreements.

-A commitment to international peacekeeping.

-A legalized commitment to a very limited, defined, constrained type of ethnocultural multiculturalism.

-A legalized commitment to official bilingualism.

-A commitment to high immigration levels, with a focus on economic immigration, and provincial participation in selection.

-A commitment to recognition of the grievances of Canada’s indigenous peoples, and negotiations on a “nation to nation” basis.

-A commitment to managed agricultural supplies.

-Economic stability as a strong, strong priority, with freedom of competition curtailed in some cases, if it has to be.

-Using government-owned companies to accomplish certain economic and social objectives.

-A commitment to nation wide standards of medical, educational and social services, expressed in part by transfer payments from the wealthier provinces to the poorer ones.

Most or all provincial governments accept some of these principles, as well as the commitment to a comprehensive social safety net, expressed by government enacted social programmes.

You Need Political Parties, Not A Bunch of People Shouting

What political party would be prepared to advocate this in the USA, to the extent it is applicable? And, you need a political party, not a bunch of individuals and groups grandstanding, blogging, expressing passionate views, decrying enemies, etc.

At the United States federal level, that political party would have to commit itself to a “core” standard liberal programme, basically a capitalist social democracy with social justice created via social programmes. Then they would have a menu of alternatives like the above and would have to choose some. It wouldn’t be much different at the state level.

The Supreme Court Would Have A Field Day

The default position of the United States Constitution is that powers not specified as federal belong to the states. The Canadian Constitution is the reverse. Canadian law and cultures don’t have the same concept of society being subservient to the untrammelled rights of the individual. A federal or state political party that tried to approximate Canadian liberalism would face a barrage of lawsuits and court challenges. The decisions would establish how far American liberalism could go, without constitutional amendments. This would play out over time as standards are established by legal precedent.

So, Liberal America Takes Charge

Say, for example, revulsion against the excesses and failures of the Trump Administration opens a window of liberal opportunity. The Sanders faction and its allies take over the Democratic Party at the federal and most state levels. This liberalized Democratic Party continues much of the Sanders platform, with some add ons. The Democratic Party wins the Presidency and one or both houses of Congress. Similar things happen at the state level.

Various permutations and constitutions could arise. Here is just one scenario:

We’re Broke

The new Democratic administrations look at the books and choke a little bit. They are taking over after a Trump administration that wasn’t fiscally conservative. Rather, the Trump Administration made deep tax cuts without creating countervailing sources of government revenues. (Except tariffs, which are a tax paid by American consumers and consumers to the United States Government. In Canada, the federal government at one point was virtually addicted to these tariffs.) They have to do the same exercise that new administrations in Canada customarily do. That is, announce a fiscal crisis, blame it entirely on the previous administration, and use it to justify cancelling their campaign promises.

Then the new administration looks for spending freezes and cuts that won’t cause a public uproar. The go-to is freezing civil service salaries and reducing the civil service by attrition . (Civil services have unions and contracts with the governments. You can’t just fire people.) Then, the new administration looks to creep taxes up. Start with higher “sin taxes”, liquor, tobacco, and in Canada as of October 17, weed. Then, raise the gas tax a few cents. Raise income taxes on higher income people. Reduce tax rebates. Look for ways to tax Internet-base transactions.

Some of the Social Programmes Are Already There

The USA is far from being without some social programming. That’s what social security and medicare are about. The new Liberal governments will have to squeeze out enough money to augment them and make them more universal. Social security benefits get raised but people may have to pay more payroll taxes until they retire. Obamacare gets expanded. However, the new Democratic federal administration hits a medical wall. The American medical system is among the most costly in the developed world, without producing population wide superlative results. In Canada, doctors bill the provincial health insurance plans. Hospitals are controlled by the provincial governments. Canadian citizens and permanent residents don’t get hospital bills. The hospitals get provincial government support and also bill the provincial medical plans fee for service, for services covered by those plans. (Many Canadians buy supplementary coverage from private health insurance plans, or their employers provide it.) This system is cheaper, although you don’t get many celebrity millionaire doctors. Those new Liberal governments either need to procrastinate or bite a very hard bullet.

Then, The Really Hard Part Begins

I believe these new American Liberal administrations would stumble over the a la carte parts of liberalism. Canada got through the stumbling stage a long time ago. The Liberal Party of Canada decided on the menu options a long time ago, and stuck with them.

In the United States, developing that stock Liberal platform will cause pain. A lot of Americans who present themselves as progressives will be very disappointed. However, the liberalized Democratic Parties of the USA will have to reach out to swing voters or else get another Trump-type, rewave.

No Open Border

You can’t maintain bearable labour market conditions for your less-skilled workers unless you keep your borders under control. Maybe you even construct parts of the Trumpian wall. You enhance investigations and prosecutions against those who illegally hire undocumented workers. You shift the focus of legal immigration quotas away from family members and specified nations, to skilled worker and business immigration. Maybe states get invited to use their local labour market expertise and participate more aggressively in selection. Some legitimate labour needs get supplied by legal temporary Work Permit programmes. Canada has one for seasonal agricultural workers.

Eat Multilateral Trade

The Trump Administration is doing the American people a great service by showing them that economic nationalism doesn’t work. Trade wars aren’t good and easy to win at all. The trade struggles become protracted, America’s trade rivals take reprisals against working class Americans and farmers, unite against the USA and look to do business with each other. Average Americans get hurt, badly.

The new federal Democratic Administration folds down the trade disputes, returns trade discussions to professional negotiators and diplomatic interchanges, and accepts that multilateral trade agreements will stay a fact of American political life and sometimes, the USA will lose.

A Little Bit of Multiculturalism And That’s It

Race isn’t the same as ethnicity. The USA has been somewhat successful at integrating various races into American culture, at least enough.

However Spanish has emerged a de facto second language in the Southwest and a few major cities in other regions. The federal Democratic Party discusses the situation with the state governments. The probable result? English gets declared the sole official, national language of the USA. Areas with sufficiently large Spanish speaking populations get legislative guarantees of a limited range of Spanish-language services, maybe including school bilingualism, the publication of Spanish-language versions of some municipal, state and federal laws, bilingual signage at some federal buildings, and that’s it and that’s all.

Spreading False News and Incitement

Canada has worked at enforcing against this for a long time. Yes, Canadians have freedom of speech but not freedom of threatening behaviour. So, if you want to express your views that us Jews are out to replace you, you can. However, creating false facts like the Jewish replacement plan and saying, we are acting in self-defence so let’s go get “em”, is hate speech that incites to violence and, at least, discrimination. The federal and state Democratic Parties enact laws that criminalize that behaviour. Then they fight it out in the Supreme Court.

The Right to Bear Arms

This right is in the United States Constitution. Nowhere enough states will agree to a constitutional change that eliminates the Second Amendment. BULLSHIT The liberalized Democratic Parties of the USA don’t even waste effort at trying. The better effort is to increase school security and increase pre-sale checks on gun buyers. You can’t win them all.

I could go on and on with this list.

Learn To Love Your Bureaucracy, Tough Love

In Canada the Liberal Parties have to work really hard to keep their bureaucrats on the level. There is a saying here, “The pigs are always at the trough.” English-speaking Canadians are generally adverse to public displays of emotion. However a hot news story about public servants behaving badly, will justify throwing a total fit at your local sports bar. Liberal governments have to reply heavily on social programmes and strict law enforcement. Never assume that your civil servants will be competent, place the public interest over their careers or do the right thing.

So, that’s your Liberal, quasi-Canadian, America. Disbursements, taxes, functioning bureaucracies, realism, national humility, you can’t win ’em all and nobody even gets a full win, eat the hit and move on, there’s no free lunch. If you need passion and victory, look for it in a sports competition or in your romantic life.

FEB 27 IN WASHINGTON

INTERESTING THAT REPUBLICANS QUESTIONING COHEN ARE ALL ABOUT CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF SOMEONE WHO’S CHARACTER HAS ALREADY BEEN ASSASSINATED. BUT NOT ONE, RPT NOT ONE DENIAL OR QUESTION OF MANY OF THE INSIDER COMMENTS CHOSEN MADE ABOUT THE PRESIDENT’S ILLEGAL AND UNETHICAL ACTIONS DURING THE CAMPAIGN AND AS PRESIDENT. NOT ONE QUESTION ABOUT MR. TRUMP. THEIR SILENCE ON That, THat, THAT IS DEAFENING.

Who won the battle for the hearts of El Paso (Thu Feb, 12) President Trump or local Beto O’Rourke?

Geoffrey Wright, lives in El Paso, Tx

This is really provocative stuff from a man on the scene in El Paso where the wall crisis was trumpeted by trump.~   FLS BLOGGER

By casual (non-scientific) observation, based on television and social media reports, not first-hand verification, it appears that the crowds at each of the rallies (Trump v. O’Rourke) were comparable in size.

Among my associates and friends, it is considered common knowledge that claims of a “crisis at the border” Are unfounded, on the American side at least. The border fence does seem to have had an effect in stopping petty crimes in El Paso by desperate people from the Mexican side from availing themselves of the personal property of Paseños (citizens of El Paso). Also the murder rates of the sister cities of El Paso and Juárez are noticeably different with Juárez having about 90 times more homocides than El Paso over the past 3 years despite having only about twice the population. El Paso has regularly ranked as one of the safest large cities in the US for several years running.

Its safety is actually not attributable to the fence but came about in the ‘90s when the border patrol incredibly began for the first time to station agents along the Rio Grande to discourage Mexicans from wading over the shallow river unimpeded. This was the “hold the line” policy of the local border patrol chief Silvestre Reyes who was later elected congressman from El Paso (and after several terms defeated by Beto O’Rourke). Prior to that time the policy had been not to enforce the border but to let everyone cross more or less freely and then try to pick up undocumented Mexican citizens off the streets of El Paso. The fence (wall) was installed later, and then further reinforced around 2006 under the George W Bush administration.

El Paso is overwhelmingly Hispanic with over 80% of Latin heritage. I have heard it said that 70% of El Pasoans speak Spanish at home. Most of our population is bi-lingual. It is a peaceful city of immigrants. Many of us are offended by the characterization of our peaceful borderland being crime-ridden. Nothing could be farther than the truth.

It is the case, however, that the cordial relationship between our sister cities Juárez/El Paso of my youth is gone forever. That went by the wayside largely due to NAFTA which drew thousands of rural poorly prepared Mexicans to Juárez factories looking for a better opportunity. They landed squarely on the US border, most with lack of education and with a ring-side seat to the land of opportunity.

Gone are the days when we El Pasoans could drive across the river for a fantastic lunch, dinner, or shopping. 911 magnified the separation. It can take up to two hours to cross the border now, depending on the hour and day.

As a resident of 60 years, I love living in El Paso. I only wish the sharing and conviviality we once enjoyed with our sister city of Ciudad Juárez were still possible.

VENEZUELA NOW!

Nicolás Maduro

Venezuela: Juan Guaidó says Venezuela opposition ‘has met military’

Self-declared interim president makes claim as Nicolás Maduro says Trump could turn country into a new Vietnam

Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent and Andrew Roth in Moscow

Thu 31 Jan 2019 00.07 ESTFirst published on Wed 30 Jan 2019 06.10 EST

Shares1,990

Nicolás Maduro speaking in the video
 Nicolás Maduro speaking in the video: ‘If the US intends to intervene against us they will get a Vietnam worse than they could have imagined.’ Photograph: Reuters

The Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, has claimed he has had held “clandestine” meetings with the military as he attempts to force Nicolás Maduro from power.

Writing in the New York Times, Guaidó said: “The military’s withdrawal of support from Mr Maduro is crucial to enabling a change in government, and the majority of those in service agree that the country’s recent travails are untenable.”

Guaidó, a 35-year-old former student leader and head of Venezuela’s opposition-run national assembly, has been in the forefront of a renewed attempt to force Maduro from power since last week when he declared himself Venezuela’s rightful interim president in a daring challenge to the incumbent.

The latest major Trump resignations and firings

 Read more

Maduro has accused Donald Trump and a “group of extremists around him” of plotting to topple him in order to seize Venezuela’s oil, and warned he risked transforming the South American country into a new Vietnam.

In a four-minute Facebook video – published as Venezuela prepared on Wednesday for a day of fresh pro-opposition protests – Maduro said the leaders of the US “empire” were conspiring “to get their hands on our oil – just like they did in Iraq and in Libya”.

Unable to accuse Venezuela’s government of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, they were instead waging a media campaign of fake news to justify intervening in a country that boasts the world’s biggest crude reserves, Maduro said.Advertisement

–– ADVERTISEMENT ––

“We will not allow a Vietnam in Latin America. If the US intends to intervene against us they will get a Vietnam worse than they could have imagined. We do not allow violence. We are a peaceful people,” Venezuela’s embattled leftist leader added.

“I ask that Venezuela be respected and I ask for the support of the people of the US so there isn’t a new Vietnam, least of all here in our America.”

In Maduro’s video, he painted himself as an “admirer” of the US who had visited Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Washington and wanted closer relations with the White House. “The United States is so much bigger than Donald Trump, so much bigger,” he said.

But Maduro looks unlikely to repair relations with the Trump administration, which has thrown its full weight behind his rival to the presidency, Juan Guaidó.

In a telephone call on Wednesday, Trump reaffirmed his support for Guaidó, and the two men agreed to stay in regular contact, according to the White House.

On Monday, Trump stepped up his battle against Maduro by announcing sweeping sanctions against the country’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA.

Maduro also said on Wednesday he was willing to negotiate with Guaidó. “I’m willing to sit down for talks with the opposition so that we could talk for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future,” he said.

Maduro said the talks could be held with the mediation of other countries, naming Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, the Vatican and Russia.

Later on Wednesday, Moscow repeated its offer to mediate. The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Russia could offer more balanced conditions for dialogue than the west.

Lavrov called on Guaidó to agree to talks without preconditions.

What next for Venezuela? The four most likely outcomes

 Read more

“We welcome the Venezuelan president’s willingness to accept such international efforts,” he said at a press conference in Moscow, according to Interfax. “We call on the opposition to display an equally constructive approach, retract the ultimatums, and act independently, guided above all by the Venezuelan people’s interests.”

Moscow has so far offered full-throated support for the Venezuelan leader. Russia has invested an estimated £13bn in Venezuela by refinancing the country’s debt, as well as through oil and arms deals.

Venezuela’s supreme court has imposed a travel ban and financial restrictions on Guaidó, including freezing his bank accounts.

At the start of a two-hour protest on Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of students gathered outside the gates of the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas. Professors gave civics lectures to the assembled students, while riot police who almost matched their numbers, watched from a distance.

Among the protesters was Rafaela Requesens, a student activist whose brother Juan, an opposition politician, was arrested after an attempted drone attack on Maduro. Amnesty International has described his detention as “arbitrary.

“This is the moment to fight for democracy,” she said. “We do not seek confrontation, but rather that the police and military join this struggle. This is not a fight between Chavistas and the opposition; this is a fight for Venezuela.”

More protests are planned on Saturday.

Additional reporting by Patricia Torres in Caracas

As 2019 begins…

… we’re asking readers to make a new year contribution in support of The Guardian’s independent journalism. More people are reading and supporting our independent, investigative reporting than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But this is only possible thanks to voluntary support from our readers – something we have to maintain and build on for every year to come.

At the Guardian, we believe that access to trusted information is a right that should be available to all, without restriction – independent reporting, distributed fairly, accessible to everyone. Readers’ support powers our work, giving our reporting impact and safeguarding our essential editorial independence. This means the responsibility of protecting independent journalism is shared, enabling us all to feel empowered to bring about real change in the world. Your support gives Guardian journalists the time, space and freedom to report with tenacity and rigor, to shed light where others won’t. It emboldens us to challenge authority and question the status quo. And by keeping all of our journalism free and open to all, we can foster inclusivity, diversity, make space for debate, inspire conversation – so more people, across the world, have access to accurate information with integrity at its heart. Every contribution we receive from readers like you, big or small, enables us to keep working as we do.

The Guardian is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important as it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.