Hammond Urges Brexit Hardliners to Stop Plotting

Philip Hammond, then Britain's foreign secretary, meets with Finnish officials in Helsinki, January 8, 2015
Philip Hammond, then Britain’s foreign secretary, meets with Finnish officials in Helsinki, January 8, 2015 (Finnish Government/Laura Kotila)

Philip Hammond, the number two in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, has urged ministers who disagree with his views on Brexit to stop leaking against him.

“It would be helpful if my colleagues — all of us — focused on the job in hand,” he told the BBC on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, The Sunday Times had cited as many as five ministers in a story that showed Hammond in a bad light.

The chancellor, who is responsible for economic and fiscal policy, reportedly called public-sector workers “overpaid” during a cabinet meeting. He clarified to the BBC he was referring to civil servants’ generous taxpayer-funded pensions. Read more

The United Republics: A Peace Plan for America

Clare Trainor's proposal for high-speed rail connections between seven American megaregions
Clare Trainor’s proposal for high-speed rail connections between seven American megaregions

The 2016 election was a turning point in American history. Cultural, political and regional differences have become so vast that the American political system is becoming unsustainable. There are two fundamentally different visions of what this country should be and the current federal system does not allow these differences to be reconciled.

For these reasons, I am proposing a new political system that would transform the United States of America into the United Republics of America.

This new government would still allow nationwide coordination of domestic and foreign policy, but it would devolve power to newly created republics. Read more

What’s Next in the Trump-Russia Scandal

American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24
American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24 (Michael Vadon)

We have entered a new phase in the Trump-Russia scandal.

Not only did the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met with a Kremlin-friendly lawyer last summer hoping to learn damaging information about Hillary Clinton; he did not seem at all surprised when a Russian contact told him Moscow was supporting his father.

This is the clearest evidence yet of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Which, despite what Trump’s apologists in the conservative media are saying, would be a crime.

But that doesn’t mean Trump is about to lose his job. Read more

Poland’s Ruling Nationalist Party Steps Up Assault on Judiciary

Prime Minister Beata Szydło of Poland listens to a reporter's question in Warsaw, June 28
Prime Minister Beata Szydło of Poland listens to a reporter’s question in Warsaw, June 28 (KPRM)

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party pushed through more changes to the court system on Wednesday:

  • One bill takes power to appoint members to the National Judicial Council, which is responsible for appointing lower-level judges, away from the judiciary itself and gives it to parliament, where Law and Justice has a majority.
  • The same law removes fifteen of the 25 judges currently serving on the National Judicial Council.
  • A second bill gives the justice minister the power to unilaterally replace court presidents. Read more

Denmark’s Left Must Find Balance Between Nativists and Progressives

Danish Social Democratic Party leader Mette Frederiksen, June 28, 2016
Danish Social Democratic Party leader Mette Frederiksen, June 28, 2016 (Facebook)

Denmark’s Social Democrats are eying cooperation with the nationalist People’s Party which they have shunned for years.

Under Mette Frederiksen, who took over the party leadership after its 2015 election defeat, the center-left has supported such far-right policies as a ban on prayer rooms in schools and universities.

The two parties, who are both in opposition to a liberal minority government, have also made common cause against raising the pension age.

Frederiksen argues she is defending the Danish welfare state from the challenges of globalization.

Her strategy is not too dissimilar from her Swedish counterpart’s. Stefan Löfven, the ruling Social Democratic Party leader in Stockholm, has taken a hard line on border control, crime and defense in a bid to stem working-class defections to the far right. Read more

In Defense of Democratic Centrism

Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York attend a political event in New York City, April 4, 2016
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York attend a political event in New York City, April 4, 2016 (Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney)

In Current Affairs magazine, Nathan J. Robinson takes issue with the centrism of America’s Democratic Party.

The idea that Democrats can win elections by reminding progressives they have nowhere else to go and reassuring conservatives they won’t go after big business is a dead end, according to Robinson:

For one thing, it doesn’t work. Unless you have Bill Clinton’s special charismatic magic, what actually happens is that progressive voters just stay home, disgusted at the failure of both parties to actually try to improve the country.

This is the left-wing version of the Ted Cruz philosophy: that you can win national elections by mobilizing your base instead of appealing to the center.

The evidence (PDF) is against it. (Also see Scott Alexander.)

A few fanatics might hold out if Democrats nominate too centrist a candidate, like Hillary Clinton, but the majority will make the rational decision and vote for the lesser of two evils, as many Bernie Sanders supporters did in November. Read more

Trump’s Son Joins List of Officials Who Lied About Russia Contacts

Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a campaign event for his father in Tempe, Arizona, October 27, 2016
Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a campaign event for his father in Tempe, Arizona, October 27, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

It’s hard to find anyone in Donald Trump’s orbit who didn’t meet and speak with Russian officials at some point.

And they all lied about it.

The latest addition to the list is the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

The New York Times reports that in the summer of 2016, the young Trump met with a Kremlin-friendly lawyer in New York, hoping to get compromising information about Hillary Clinton.

Paul Manafort, the then-Trump campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and close advisor, both attended the meeting.

Junior first denied the meeting happened. Then he admitted it did, but claimed it had nothing to do with politics. Only then did he admit it was campaign-related after all, but there was nothing wrong with it because the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, didn’t have any dirt on Clinton. Read more