Political Animal

Ivanka Trump Is Promoting a New Program the Globalists Will Love

One of the things that has always fascinated me about politics is the way that myths are developed about public figures and persist, regardless of the person’s actual behavior. For example, Dick Cheney was cast as the serious, experienced politician in comparison to George W. Bush. That myth allowed him to shamelessly lie about WMD’s in Iraq and then recklessly invade that country based on the lies.

The myth that developed about Donald Trump was that he was a “populist” who would fight the globalists and champion the cause of America’s working class voters. It wasn’t just Trump supporters who bought into that myth. Most journalists and pundits did as well. But here’s a guy who didn’t.

By contrast, the myth that developed about Obama was that he was an elitist who didn’t care about the working class. Back in 2012, Rick Santorum called Obama a “snob” for suggesting that everyone should go to college. But here’s the kind of thing the former president actually said.

Tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.

That is precisely why the Obama administration did things like institute the Trade Adjustment Assistance and Community College and Career Training competitive grant program. But for a lot of people, the push towards retraining American workers in the kinds of competitive fields that create the jobs of the future was just another example of his elitism. He was looking down his nose at working class folks and telling them what they should be doing.

What’s fascinating about all of that is that the guy who has been mythologized as a champion for the working class is now attempting to recreate the same kind of training program, which they are calling “Find Something New.”

A new White House-backed ad campaign aims to encourage people who are unemployed or unhappy in their jobs or careers to go out and “find something new.”…The Trump administration has long emphasized skills-based job and vocational training as an alternative to two- or four-year college degree programs, arguing that college isn’t for everyone and that many jobs don’t require a degree.

The campaign is a product of the White House’s American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which President Donald Trump created in 2018. The board is co-chaired by Trump’s daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

“There has never been a more critical time for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to be aware of the multiple pathways to career success and gain the vocational training and skills they need to fill jobs in a changing economy,” said Ivanka Trump, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Notice that this isn’t about bringing back coal mining or manufacturing jobs, as Trump has often promised to do. Instead, it is about developing the skills that will be needed “to fill jobs in a changing economy.” That’s exactly the kind of thing a so-called “globalist” might say.

Personally, I think that offering skills training is a good thing. But the Trump’s can do it and still be hailed as champions of the working class, while Obama got tarred as an elitist for doing the exact same thing.

The Only Place In the World Not Yet Rocked By the Virus

New York continues to slowly open up after being the nation’s hottest of COVID-19 hotspots while the incidence in Brazil spikes, and cases explode in Latin America and South Asia.

There is one place, however, that has been far from infections and safe from the need for serology testing: Antarctica. It’s not exactly a holiday destination, but this continent is sparsely inhabited, plays an important global research role and, so far, is safe from nearly every disease known to man. If the hot zone is where disease can break out, the frozen zone of the South Pole is where human disease rarely ventures.

Antarctica, however, also happens to be the least hospitable place on Earth. That doesn’t mean that adventurers, researchers and nations stay away. In fact, it is an attractive continent for explorers who care to trek on pristine ice. It’s also a perfect laboratory for investigating geologic history, climate change and whales, and for filming cute movies about penguins.

Most important, however, is that it doesn’t belong to any one nation. Like outer space, Antarctica does not fall under the jurisdiction of any one country or fly one flag. It is both no one’s and everyone’s. COVID-19 has been kept off the continent through a joint decision by several nations.

Antarctica is not only free of disease and exploitation of its resources, it is also a fully non-nuclear and demilitarized zone. In fact, there’s a 1958 international treaty that guarantees that, “Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. There shall be prohibited . . . the establishment of military bases and fortifications, as well as the testing of any type of weapons.” The treaty remains in force until 2048. And that is when all hell could break loose.

Treaties sometimes are not worth the paper on which they are written. China signed a 1997 treaty with the United Kingdom to keep Hong Kong free in a one country-two systems status quo until 2047. That treaty just got crushed last week.

Similarly, China and Russia are eyeing the current Antarctic treaty to evaluate the world’s willingness to enforce it. Beijing and Moscow are also preparing to build cultural symbols, send personnel, deploy dual-use military hardware and plop down oil- and gas-extraction rigs on the day the Antarctic treaty lapses. This is a real cause for concern.

Antarctica may look barren, but it is resource rich. Under all that ice lie precious ores and minerals, from gold to uranium. The Ross Sea that surrounds Antarctica has massive untapped energy reserves, according to a U.S. Geological Survey.

The most obvious, plentiful and valuable resource in Antarctica is—wait for it—ice! About 70 percent of the world’s fresh and potable water is trapped in Antarctic ice. Getting to all those valuable resources is the challenge, of course. But time and technology march on, and what seems foreboding today may be easy-peasy tomorrow.

Can’t the world’s major powers just get along, collaborate on shared interests, and protect the global commons? If the Antarctic’s polar opposite—the Arctic—is any indication, then the answer is nyet.

Near the North Pole, the fight over the Arctic’s sea lanes, resources and strategic military basing already have heated up. As global warming melts down and opens up a once frozen north, China covets the prospect that a northern sea channel can alter trade routes and dramatically cut shipping times from its ports to Western markets.

Russia, for its part, is way ahead on controlling those sea channels. Moscow’s formidable collection of icebreaker navy ships means that it has the technical ability to cut swaths of ice, open lanes, patrol, pilot and free ships. The United States and other Arctic Council nations object to Russia’s asserting greater control there, but its presence and plans are bolstered by military might.

From a commercial perspective, the Arctic’s climate-change story has a silver lining via the opening of new trade routes and allowing access for resource exploitation. There is, however, also a significant downside to warmer climes. Right now, Siberia is on fire, a raging inferno releasing tons of carbon dioxide and on track to be the largest Arctic fire on record. An unprecedented heatwave has fueled this fire and brought Siberian temperatures to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Further, increased Russian commercial activity led to a massive Arctic fuel spill that has an environmental watchdog seeking more than $2 billion in damages.

As in the Arctic, Russia and China would like to lay claim to Antarctica’s continental resources as soon as possible to make sure they get and retain access, rights, control and ownership early. Claims are on hold for now, but when Antarctica does open up and nations rush to cash in, is there any doubt that some of the ills that are already plaguing the north will eventually migrate south?

Trump Is Responsible for One of America’s Most Colossal Failures

For those of us who live in the reality-base world, Donald Trump’s presidency has been exhausting. Future historians will write volumes about all of the ways he’s failed, so I won’t even try to summarize them. But for right now, everything else pales in comparison to the president’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis. As this video demonstrates, he has been in denial about it since day one.

It took Trump until March 17th to admit that we were dealing with a pandemic. By that point, so was the rest of the world. Four months later, the U.S. has documented almost 3.5 million cases of COVID-19 and nearly 140,000 deaths.

While Trump’s initial denial of the problem certainly made things much worse in this country, the fact of the matter is that the pandemic didn’t care who was president and would have posed a huge problem to anyone that occupied the White House. But we are beginning to get a glimpse of just how much of the suffering being experienced by Americans can be laid directly at the feet of Donald Trump.

Two weeks ago the European Union began to reopen their borders to foreign travel. In a direct rebuke to this country, Americans remain banned from nonessential travel. As reported at the time, the decision was “based on health criteria, and European Union officials went to great lengths to appear apolitical in their choices.” Here’s a glimpse of what that data looks like.

On a per capita basis, the European Union is now reporting about eight cases per one million people, while the U.S. is currently experiencing 185 cases per one million. As you can see, the trajectory of cases was initially pretty similar. But according to my calculations, the uptick in the U.S. began sometime around the first of April. We see exactly the same divergence in a comparison of the U.S. and Canada.

So on March 17th, Trump finally admitted that we were dealing with a pandemic. But a week later, he began talking about reopening the economy. Then on April 16th, the White House put out guidelines for states to reopen—which many Republican governors simply ignored and reopened immediately. That is precisely when cases began to surge in this country, even as the European Union and Canada began to get things under control.

According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration developed some new talking points about COVID-19 about a week ago.

The goal is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year and the economy will continue to improve.

White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official.

“They’re of the belief that people will get over it or if we stop highlighting it, the base will move on and the public will learn to accept 50,000 to 100,000 new cases a day,” said a former administration official in touch with the campaign.

In other words, if we simply stop talking about this crisis, people will get over it and learn to live with the toll it is talking on our lives.

While Trump should be held accountable for his lack of response to coronavirus initially, it is clear that from the moment he admitted that we had a problem, he dropped the ball like a hot potato and, along with Republican governors, is responsible for everything that has happened since then. Beyond the decision by the Confederate states to succeed from the Union, I can’t think of a more colossal failure by public figures in the history of this country.  Unless something dramatic changes, we are on a trajectory for things to actually get much worse.

Is Chris Christie the Future of the GOP?

In an interview with Steve Clemons published by The Hill on Tuesday, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared his interest in running for president in 2024. That Christie has presidential ambitions is no surprise, but he does seem to be a bit delusional:

But once you’ve been a governor, I think you always feel like you’ve got something to contribute. And so, yeah, I would certainly, you know, look at the race in 2024 and I would not back off from that at all. I feel like there are a lot of atmospheric things that happened in the lead up to the ’16 race, especially the Bridgegate matter which now has been dismissed by the United States Supreme Court in a 9-0 vote that there was no crime committed there. And yet the media and others convicted people before they even had a trial, and it materially affected my ability to run for president. Now that we’ve had that cleared away and it’s no longer a controversy, you know, from my perspective, maybe 2024 is time to try to go after that job again.

Chris Christie maintained that he had nothing to do with the closure of lanes over the George Washington Bridge in New York City, but now he is hiding behind the fact that the Supreme Court found that it didn’t constitute a federal crime because it was an example of petty political payback rather than self-enrichment. I think people were outraged that Christie would inconvenience and endanger citizens for petty, political reasons, and I don’t think most people were pleased to learn that this is permissible under the law. However they feel about the Court’s ruling, they concluded that they didn’t like Christie. It’s about what he did and why he did it, not about what some judge or prosecutor thinks about it. And it will always be a controversy.

If the 2020 election is a blowout win for Joe Biden, the Republican field in 2024 will be wide open. I supposed Chris Christie will have as much chance to win the nomination as anyone, but he’ll have to figure out what Republican voters want. I imagine that if Trump loses Texas and other supposedly reliable red states, the party will at least attempt the kind of introspective process that led to Bill Clinton’s rise in the Democratic Party after the crushing defeats of 1980, 1984, and 1988. The GOP might conclude that an outright conservative no longer has a chance. That could free up Christie to emphasize his Mid-Atlantic style of politics while trimming on the pandering he’s traditionally done to the conservative base.

It’s hard to picture the people who are still staunch Republicans in the Trump Era suddenly learning to become pragmatists, however, and I’m skeptical that a moderate will win the nomination in 2024. I can more easily see Trump making a comeback, assuming he hasn’t been impeached and convicted to preclude that possibility.

If Trump loses narrowly, I’m not sure any lessons will be learned other than the nominee should have more practical experience. But if it looks like the country has tilted so far to the left that only an Eisenhower type of candidate has any chance, we could see a quicker learning curve.

The Democrats didn’t take the warning from 1968 seriously and didn’t quickly adapt to the rising power of the Conservative Movement. I don’t expect the Republican Party to do better. But, as 2016 showed us, the people have more say than the party leaders. I can see a situation where the leadership concludes that they need a non-conservative standard bearer to have any chance, but the voters prefer Louie Gohmert.

My guess is that Chris Christie is too optimistic about his chances. He thinks people like him more than they do, and it’s probably not likely that the party would nominate someone like him four years from now.