Sánchez Needs to Remember Who His Friends Are

Pedro Sánchez Pablo Casado
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez greets People’s Party leader Pablo Casado outside his residence in Madrid, October 16, 2019 (La Moncloa)

It is time for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to accept that little more will come of his overtures to Spain’s conservative opposition.

Sánchez, a social democrat who rules in coalition with the far-left Podemos (We Can), came to power with the support of Basque, Catalan and other regional parties.

But since the outbreak of coronavirus disease, he has tried to build broader support for his recovery programs.

I argued in July that Sánchez was walking a fine line. Make too many compromises with the right and Podemos and the Catalan Republican Left could feel betrayed.

That point is approaching fast. Read more “Sánchez Needs to Remember Who His Friends Are”

Sánchez Can’t Put Off Catalans Indefinitely

Pedro Sánchez
Pedro Sánchez addresses a conference of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party January 30, 2016 (PSOE)

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez needs to make good on his promise to open dialogue with the Catalan regional government.

Talks about more autonomy were put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic reached Spain in March. Now that it looks like the country will have to live with coronavirus for many more months, Sánchez cannot delay indefinitely.

Catalonia is due to hold elections before the end of the year. If the Republican Left, the more moderate of the separatist parties, doesn’t have anything to show for bringing Sánchez, a fellow social democrat, to power in Madrid, hardliners could win in Barcelona and make a negotiated solution even more elusive. Read more “Sánchez Can’t Put Off Catalans Indefinitely”

Don’t Defund the Police

Police car Washington DC
Police car outside the White House in Washington DC (Unsplash/Matt Popovich)

It’s exasperating to see yet another black man shot by police in America when he posed no apparent threat. Officers fired seven bullets into the back of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when he leaned into his car.

Blake survived. George Floyd didn’t. He suffocated when a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, sat on his neck for almost 9 minutes in Minneapolis in May.

Floyd’s death triggered nationwide protests. Blake’s shooting provoked demonstrations as well as looting and riots in Kenosha.

Black men in America are two-and-a-half times more likely to be killed by police than white men. African Americans comprise 12 percent of the population but 33 percent of prisoners. Black men are routinely arrested and prosecuted for misdemeanors and victimless crimes when whites aren’t.

So it’s not hard to understand why “defund the police” has become a popular slogan.

But it’s not a solution. Read more “Don’t Defund the Police”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Britain Is Once Again the Sick Man of Europe

London England
The Shard in London, England at night (Unsplash/J.J. Jordan)

During the 1960s and 70s, Britain, economically stagnant and losing its empire, was known as the sick man of Europe. With COVID-19, the sickness has returned — and this time it may be even harder to heal.

More than 300,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the United Kingdom. 41,000 Britons have died of the disease, giving the country the second-highest per capita death rate among major countries. British economic output fell 20 percent in April, the worst rate by far among industrial nations.

This comes after a decade of austerity and on top of the economic fallout of Brexit.

It was the tough medicine of Thatcherism that allowed the United Kingdom to recover from its previous bout of ill health and find a new faith in itself — “Cool Britannia” — under New Labour.

But the seeds of the current malaise were planted in the same era. Read more “Britain Is Once Again the Sick Man of Europe”

Harris Is a Good Choice

Kamala Harris
Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California listens to voters during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017 (Office of Senator Kamala Harris)

Joe Biden has tapped California senator Kamala Harris as his vice presidential candidate for the election in November.

It’s a good choice. Elite-educated, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, a former prosecutor and incumbent senator, Harris ticks many of the right boxes. Read more “Harris Is a Good Choice”

Trump Bans TikTok. Where Is the Party of Free Enterprise?

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24, 2017 (Michael Vadon)

As if we needed more proof the Republican Party has surrendered all its principles to Donald Trump, the president is trying to ban a private company by executive fiat and the party of free enterprise is silent.

Trump may have a point on the merits. The Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok has a lot of problems, not in the least its vulnerability to state interference.

But I don’t doubt the only reason Trump cares is that teenagers used TikTok to disrupt one of his rallies in June. They organized a campaign via the app to buy tickets to Trump’s event in Tulsa and never showed up, humiliating the president, who faced a half-empty arena. Read more “Trump Bans TikTok. Where Is the Party of Free Enterprise?”