Policing in America Is Broken. There Are Solutions

Seattle Washington protest
Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle, Washington, May 30 (Kelly Kline)

Since George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, cops have been caught on video arresting and beating up Americans for speaking out or doing nothing at all, driving their cars into a crowd, tear-gassing peaceful protesters and bystanders, and arresting and attacking journalists.

The New York Times puts it well: “Facing protests over use of force, police respond with more force.”

They are being egged on by President Donald Trump, who has described the protests as “acts of terror”, called on governors to “dominate” the streets and threatened to deploy the military; Republican senators, who have suggested the police commit war crimes to suppress the protests; and conservative media, who portray all demonstrators as far-left radicals. Read more “Policing in America Is Broken. There Are Solutions”

Trump Once Again Throws Europe Under the Bus

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia meet in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (Kremlin)

There have been some constants in Donald Trump’s otherwise haphazard foreign policy. He will invariably side with Russia and against America’s allies in Europe. He sympathizes more with authoritarian regimes than democracies. He doesn’t believe in multilateralism or free trade.

Anything the president’s advisors or allies can portray as a show of “strength” Trump will support.

Anything his supporters in the Republican Party or the conservative media portray as “weakness”, whether it is consultations, compromises or concessions, Trump will resist.

The latest casualty of this simplistic, zero-sum worldview is the Open Skies Treaty, which includes most countries in the Northern Hemisphere and allows reciprocal flights over military facilities. Read more “Trump Once Again Throws Europe Under the Bus”

Trump: Absolute Power, Absolutely No Responsibility

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, February 1, 2018 (USAF/Robert Cloys)

The outbreak of coronavirus disease in the United States has, if little else, given us an encapsulation of Trumpism.

As Patrick Chovanec of Columbia University puts it on Twitter:

According to the president, he has absolute power but absolutely no responsibility.

On Monday, Donald Trump falsely claimed he, not governors, have the power to impose and lift restrictions to contain the spread of the virus:

When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be.

Yet when he was asked earlier this month why he hadn’t issued a nationwide stay-at-home order, Trump did remember, “We have a thing called the Constitution,” and said, “I want the governors to be running things.”

Which was accurate, but also an abdication of duty. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez regularly consult with the leaders of German and Spanish states to coordinate the closing and reopening of businesses and schools, even though that is not strictly their responsibility. Trump could have done the same.

Now some neighboring states opposite policies in place and they are bidding against each other, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for medical devices and gear. Trump could have federalized the procurement of medical equipment, but didn’t. He could have distributed medical equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile to the states that need it most, but didn’t.

He has found time to criticize Democratic governors, including Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Andrew Cuomo of New York, from their handling of the crisis.

The president’s attitude is best summed up by the answer he gave in March, when a reporter asked him about the shortage of testing kits in the United States: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” Read more “Trump: Absolute Power, Absolutely No Responsibility”

Sanders Is Right to Quit

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, July 18, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

Bernie Sanders has ended his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the United States.

It’s the right decision.

Sanders had virtually no chance of defeating former vice president Joe Biden anymore. Prolonging the contest would only delay the reconciliation of Sanders’ supporters with a Biden candidacy and make it harder for Democrats to decide whether to vote at all amid the outbreak of coronavirus. Read more “Sanders Is Right to Quit”

Democracy Must Be Resistant to the Coronavirus

Washington DC
The skyline of Washington DC at dawn (Shutterstock/Orhan Cam)

In a crisis, calls to do something, quickly, can be hard to resist. Politicians must still try.

On both sides of the Atlantic, governments are planning some of the largest peacetime interventions in the private economy to cope with the outbreak of coronavirus disease.

  • Familiar battle lines have been drawn in Europe, where conservative northern countries, led by Germany and the Netherlands, hesitate to free up EU funds for the crisis.
  • The roles are reversed in America, where once fiscally prudent Republicans are trying to rush through a stimulus twice the size of Barack Obama’s, and Democrats, who traditionally support a larger role for government, are stepping on the brakes.

The stallers are not unreasonable. We can take a few days to debate how to spend trillions of euros and dollars. Read more “Democracy Must Be Resistant to the Coronavirus”

Biden Is Not a Centrist

Joe Biden
American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013 (USN/Karolina A. Oseguera)

Media reports commonly describe American presidential candidate Joe Biden as a “centrist”. He’s not.

Michael Bloomberg is a centrist. Biden may be moderate compared to his Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders. But compared to the more likely alternative, Donald Trump, Biden is decidedly center-left.

This is not just semantics. If a centrist wins the Democratic nomination, some of Sanders’ supporters may be reluctant to vote for him. A center-left candidate, which Biden is, deserves their support. Read more “Biden Is Not a Centrist”

Democratic Primary News

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8, 2019 (Gage Skidmore)

Joe Biden is now the clear frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States.

  • Delegates: Biden has won 642 pledged delegates against 566 for Bernie Sanders so far. 1,991 are needed to win the nomination outright.
  • States: Biden won ten of the fourteen states that held primaries on “Super Tuesday” and he is polling in first place in Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri, which vote next Tuesday. Sanders is ahead in Washington state.
  • Popular support: Biden’s national support has shot up from under 20 percent to an average of 34 percent since he won the South Carolina primary a week ago.
  • Party support: Sixty more prominent Democrats have endorsed Biden in the wake of his South Carolina victory.
  • Competitors: All other major candidates have quit, most recently Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Sanders Claims He Can Raise Turnout. He Hasn’t So Far

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, October 30, 2015 (Michael Vadon)

Bernie Sanders argues he can defeat Donald Trump by convincing more Americans to vote. A self-declared socialist may lose some swing voters by campaigning on nationalizing health insurance and raising middle-class taxes, but he can make up for it, Sanders argues, by mobilizing young and working voters.

It’s always seemed unwise to me to bet on potential voters rather than actual voters. Now that skepticism has been substantiated. Read more “Sanders Claims He Can Raise Turnout. He Hasn’t So Far”