Republicans Live in an Alternate Reality

Donald Trump
Voters wait outside a convention center in Rochester, Minnesota, where American president Donald Trump is giving a speech, October 5, 2018 (Lorie Shaul)

Donald Trump and the Republicans have been in power for nearly four years, yet everything that’s wrong in America is somehow Joe Biden’s fault.

180,000 Americans have died of coronavirus, because Trump couldn’t be bothered to deal with the crisis. 10 percent of Americans are out of work, more than during the Great Recession.

Nobody mentioned either during the four days of the Republican National Convention.

Trump insisted Biden would be the “destroyer of America’s jobs.” Read more “Republicans Live in an Alternate Reality”

Dutch Extend COVID Aid for Businesses

The Hague Netherlands
Dutch government offices and parliament buildings in The Hague (iStock/Fotolupa)

The Dutch government has extended support for companies and self-employed workers struggling as a result of COVID-19 until July 2021, although some policies are becoming less generous.

The thinking, reports the national broadcaster NOS, is that firms shouldn’t be subsidized if they aren’t viable long term and workers in sectors with job losses should be coaxed into reskilling.

The measures will cost almost €39 billion this year. The Dutch economy is projected to shrink 6.4 percent. Read more “Dutch Extend COVID Aid for Businesses”

To Trump, Blue America Is Expandable

Chicago Illinois
Chicago, Illinois at night (Unsplash/Max Bender)

Asked about riots in America’s major cities, Kellyanne Conway, President Donald Trump’s outgoing political advisor, told Fox News:

These are Democratically-led cities and most with Democratic governors. It’s not Donald Trump’s watch.

(That didn’t stop Trump from deploying federal troops to Portland over the objections of the city’s Democratic mayor and Oregon’s Democratic governor in June.)

The suggestion that the president isn’t responsible for the whole country, but only to those parts that are loyal to him, is outrageous.

But it is how Trump has governed. Read more “To Trump, Blue America Is Expandable”

How Republicans Became the Party of Trump

I don’t think I will ever get used to hearing once-sensible Republicans singing Donald Trump’s praises.

Four years ago, the likes of Nikki Haley, Rand Paul, Tim Scott and Scott Walker knew that Trump was a bully without ideas; a would-be strongman with an unhealthy admiration for Vladimir Putin; a failed tycoon who didn’t grasp the basic principles of economics; and a thrice-married philanderer who had clearly never read a Bible.

Four years later, with the economy in free fall, America’s reputation in tatters, multiple former Trump campaign officials in prison and 180,000 Americans dead as a result of coronavirus, they’re telling the Republican National Convention that Trump is the only thing standing between them and the abyss.

How did this happen? Read more “How Republicans Became the Party of Trump”

Why Germany “Deserves” American Troops

American C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft
Two American C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft fly in formation over Germany, May 27, 2014 (USAF/Jordan Castelan)

Victor Davis Hanson writes in National Review that Germany “cuts deals with Russia, has never met its NATO commitment and is the most anti-American nation in Europe.” So why, he wonders, should the United States anchor its defense?

He could have asked that question at any point in the last seventy years. Read more “Why Germany “Deserves” American Troops”

What Biden Wants

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 4, 2020 (Phil Roeder)

Joe Biden could become the most progressive president of the United States since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

That might sound odd after he was declared a “centrist” and the “establishment” candidate in the Democratic primaries.

The former vice president isn’t as left-wing as some of his former rivals, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. He doesn’t want to break up big tech, defund the police, forgive all student loans or nationalize health insurance.

But the whole Democratic Party has moved to the left and Biden has moved with it. He has involved Democrats and allies from the left to the center, including environmental and minority rights groups, gun control advocates and trade unions, in drafting his program. Left-wing congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped write his climate policy. Biden incorporated Senator Cory Booker’s proposal to tie federal funding to looser building codes in his housing plan.

The result is that Biden has buy-in from across the Democratic coalition, which — provided the party wins not just the presidency but the Senate in November — means his plans stand a good chance of becoming reality. Read more “What Biden Wants”

What If Trump Refuses to Leave?

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump boards Marine One outside the White House in Washington DC, July 31 (White House/Tia Dufour)

Democrats and political experts in the United States are worried that President Donald Trump might not recognize the outcome of the upcoming election.

When over 100 former politicians and government officials, civil society leaders and journalists gamed out four election scenarios, they ended up in a constitutional crisis, “featuring violence in the streets and a severely disrupted administrative transition,” in all but one: a decisive win for Joe Biden. A close result could trigger civil and political unrest not seen in a century.

The last time a presidential candidate refused to concede was in 1876. Read more “What If Trump Refuses to Leave?”

Speechmaking Isn’t Governing

Dilma Rousseff Barack Obama
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff welcomes American president Barack Obama and his family in Brasília, March 19, 2011 (White House/Pete Souza)

American political culture puts too much importance on oratory.

Michelle Obama, the wife of former president Barack Obama, gave a good speech to the Democratic National Convention, held virtually this year, on Monday night and even intelligent commentators suggest she would make a “formidable” presidential candidate in 2024.

No matter that Obama has never held elected office or so much as contested an election.

Communication is an important part of the job of any politician, but it’s not the job. It’s a lesson Michelle’s husband learned in 2009. Read more “Speechmaking Isn’t Governing”

Education Has Become the Dividing Line in American Politics

Cleveland Ohio
View of downtown Cleveland, Ohio (Shutterstock/Pedro Gutierrez)

America’s two major parties continue to trade voters based on education.

An analysis by Pew Research of the 2018 electorate found that one in ten voters have switched parties since the election.

Of the 2018 Republicans who now call themselves Democrats, most are college-educated. Of the 2018 Democrats who have become Republicans, most are not.

This reflects a longer-term trend of white Americans sorting into the two parties according to their educational attainment. (Education is less predictive of party affiliation for voters of color.) Read more “Education Has Become the Dividing Line in American Politics”

France Deploys Warships as Tensions with Turkey Rise

NATO warships Aegean Sea
NATO warships conduct maneuvers in the Aegean Sea (Bundeswehr)

France is boosting its military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean to reinforce Cypriot and Greek claims in the area and protect the activities of its energy giant Total.

The helicopter carrier Tonnerre, which is taking aid to Lebanon following the fertilizer explosion in Beirut, and the frigate La Fayette, which is training with the Greek navy, will remain in the area.

Two French Rafale warplanes will be based in Crete.

The deployments come after the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier patrolled the region earlier this year, and in response to the appearance of Turkish drill ships and frigates in disputed waters.

Turkish warships have in the past blocked Western drilling rigs in waters around Cyprus. Read more “France Deploys Warships as Tensions with Turkey Rise”