Category: International Politics

Thoughts on Trump’s Paris Accord exit from an isolationist redneck in a coal town in Illinois

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post was originally published at DailyKos, and this blog post has been republished to The Progressive Midwestern by its original author.


Given the fact that I am a staunch isolationist when it comes to foreign policy, as well as the fact that I live in Westville, Illinois, which, while there hasn’t been large-scale coal mining around here in many years, was originally built up around coal mining, you may be surprised to find that I’m actually opposed to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

Even though I firmly believe that Trump just won re-election in 2020 (unless the planet becomes uninhabitable before November 2020, that is) with his decision, there are a large number of reasons why I fundamentally disagree with Trump on his decision to pull the U.S. out of the primary instrument of international law to combat global warming. There are four reasons why I believe that Trump will politically benefit from his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement:

  • Many Americans either believe that global warming isn’t occurring and/or believe that global warming is not caused by human activity.
  • Many Americans have a negative view of the concept of international law and don’t like the idea of the U.S. being told by other countries what to do.
  • Many Americans believe that Trump is trying to save the U.S. coal industry.
  • Many Americans believe that Trump is trying to save automobile racing in the United States.

I’ll counter each of those arguments in this article.

Global warming is legitimately occurring, and human activity is causing global warming

The above headline contains two indisputable facts. I don’t need to explain further.

No country can address climate change by itself

Normally, I’m staunchly opposed to multilateral international agreements of any kind, and of course I, like many Americans, revere popular sovereignty, our country’s independence, and the U.S. Constitution’s status as the Supreme Law of the Land within the jurisdiction of the United States. However, climate change is an issue that affects all of Earth, not just the U.S. or any other single country. A well-implemented agreement between as many countries as possible is necessary to reduce the rate of, if not halt or reverse, global warming. The Paris agreement is similar to the U.S. Constitution in a way: it’s a legal framework. The U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land that establishes the U.S. federal government’s form of government, but is not every single federal law applicable to the United States. The Paris agreement is a framework for a global strategy to combat global warming, but it’s up to sovereign and non-sovereign governments around the world to, if they have the power(s) to do so, implement policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their jurisdiction in order to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.

Coal isn’t coming back

There hasn’t been a large amount of coal mining activity in the area around my hometown for many, many years. In fact, a coal-fired power plant northwest of my hometown closed permanently several years ago. There are other, cleaner ways of generating electricity than via coal. The decline of coal in the U.S. is due to, among other factors, technological advances leaving fewer and fewer viable and necessary uses for coal, not due to international law or environmental regulations. Instead of pulling out of the Paris agreement, the federal government should create an economic development bank to provide loans to new businesses operating in economically-depressed areas, such as rural America and former mining and manufacturing areas. Coal isn’t coming back, and Trump is trying to destroy the planet to save a dying industry, which simply won’t work for anybody.

It’s not a threat to automobile racing

NASCAR’s fan base might be 80-90% Republican, but I’m a big fan of NASCAR despite being very progressive politically. I’m not as big of a fan of other forms of automobile racing, although I do watch at least one IndyCar race and at least one Formula One race per year on television. The Paris climate agreement wouldn’t hurt automobile racing. If automobile racing were threatened by the Paris accord, Monaco, a tiny European country which hosts the most important Formula One race on that form of auto racing’s calendar each year, wouldn’t have signed the Paris agreement (they did).

Is this the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration?

We are just a couple of days short of being five months into what is supposed to be a four-year term of Donald Trump being President of the United States, but developments in the last few days or so are indicating that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.

The biggest recent news is the announcement that former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed the special prosecutor in the case regarding the Trump presidential campaign’s ties to Russia:

(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals     associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

Additionally, there are other developments that have indicated to me that this could be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration:

  • An audio tape (transcript here) in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) bragged about Russian President Vladimir Putin paying Trump and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)…Republicans have tried to claim that McCarthy was merely joking, but it’s certainly suspicious when Republicans claim that Putin is paying some of their own, and it’s not 100% clear if they were being serious or not.
  • Vice President Mike Pence has already set up a leadership PAC to support Republican political efforts…this is the first time a sitting VPOTUS has ever done this.
  • Democratic members of Congress are openly mentioning the prospect of impeaching Trump.
  • It has been reported that disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others with close ties to Trump had 18 contacts with the Russians that were not previously disclosed.

There’s certainly evidence that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.

Don’t blame Canada for Wisconsin’s dairy crisis

The Canadian news program The National, which airs on Canada’s public broadcaster CBC in Canada, recently did a feature story about the dairy crisis in Wisconsin, which President Donald Trump is trying to falsely blame on Canada and their policies regarding trade of ultra-filtered milk from the United States to Canada.

The CBC featured a pair of Wisconsin dairy farm families, the Sauer family of the Waterloo, Wisconsin area and the family of Sarah Lloyd and Nels Nelson of Columbia County. Having watched the video on the CBC website more than once, it’s inherently clear to me that overproduction, not international trade policies, are responsible for Wisconsin’s dairy crisis. Despite the real problems facing Wisconsin dairy, Trump has tried to blame Canada for the struggles that Wisconsin dairy farmers have faced, and it’s clear to me that Trump has no real understanding of how the dairy industry works.

Additionally, as farmer and Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) regional director Chris Holman stated on the WFU website, state government policies in Wisconsin have only made the overproduction problem in the Wisconsin dairy industry even worse, and have also led to fewer dairy farms producing more of Wisconsin’s milk:

Here in Wisconsin, state programs like the Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30×20 Initiative have made the situation even worse. Beyond pushing Wisconsin dairy farmers to reach 30 billion pounds of milk production by 2020, the initiative—with no sense of irony—provides grants “to improve the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s Dairy Industry.” If you dive into data from USDA and the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistic Service, we’ve lost 2,411 dairy farms since March 2012 when the 30 x 20 initiative was announced. That’s an average of almost 500 dairy farms per year. We are growing our production but it is being done by fewer and fewer, larger farms.

The Wisconsin Farmers Union is an organization that seeks to improve the quality of life of family farmers and rural communities in Wisconsin.

Trump can blame Canada and sing the Green Acres theme song all he wants, but it’s not going to change the fact that he doesn’t understand the real problems facing Wisconsin’s dairy farm families.

Republic of Ireland PM slams Trump’s xenophobia in Trump’s presence

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland, I’ll share with you what the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, Enda Kenny, thinks of U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies:

“It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy,” Kenny said. “He, too, was an immigrant. And even though he is, of course, the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also the symbol of — indeed, the patron of — immigrants.”

Kenny went on to explain that in past centuries, the Irish were “the retched refuse on the teeming shore,” who nonetheless “believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America.”

Kenny said that while standing right next to Trump inside the White House:

Yes, Kenny’s claim of Saint Patrick being an immigrant is correct. Those who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day are celebrating a holiday named after an immigrant. Remember that.

California secessionist leader lives in Russia

The president of the pro-California secession group Yes California lives in…wait for it, Russia:

Louis J. Marinelli is a man on a quixotic mission: to help California secede from the United States and become an independent country.

Surprisingly, this quest has been going relatively well of late. Marinelli’s group, Yes California, is attempting to collect 585,000 signatures necessary to place a secessionist question on the 2018 ballot. Buoyed by California’s already tense relationship with President Donald Trump, the campaign has received a large amount of press coverage and support over the past few months.

But for the 30-year-old Yes California president, there remains one annoying problem: People keep asking him why he lives in Russia.

There’s a lot more to Marinelli’s ties to Russia than the fact that he lives there. He’s appeared on Russian state media outlets, which are notorious for their pro-Vladimir Putin media bias. Furthermore, he attended a conference, partially funded by the Kremlin (i.e., the Russian government), for leaders of U.S. state secessionist movements:

Marinelli’s ties to Alexander Ionov are perhaps bigger conspiracy fodder. Ionov is the founder of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, a group that supports various secessionist movements around the world. Last September, he put on a Kremlin-sponsored event in Moscow for Western secessionists that Martinelli and other representatives of Yes California attended.

Furthermore, there is a political movement within Russia to make California part of Russia:

Mikhail Degtyarev, a (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) Duma deputy, has asked the Russian foreign ministry to clarify the status of land that had belonged to Russia in what is now the US state of California because he believes that Washington did not pay for it as required by a nineteenth century bilateral agreement.

As a result, Degtaryev is quoted by (the Russian newspaper) Izvestiya September 26 as saying, “Russia as before has the basis to consider the territory of Fort Ross its own” and to seek either compensation via international courts or the return of that land to Russian control. In that event, he says, Moscow should install Russian missiles there.

(context added by me)

The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia is a far-right Russian political party that supports an ultra-imperialist Russian policy.

It isn’t a stretch for one to observe the California secessionist movement as an apparent Russian plot to take California from the United States and put it under the control of Russia, and a shocking number of left-wing voters are being duped into supporting the secessionist movement, largely because Donald Trump, a Putin ally, is in the White House.

 

CAMP’S CONSTANT #1: If women are standing up for their rights, Piers Morgan is being a smug jerk

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of blog posts called Camp’s Constants, in which I will write about various things to expect from right-wing extremists and their enablers.


Former CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, who is now a media personality in his native Britain, is no feminist. Sadly, he proved that by taking to Twitter and delivering a screed that would make the far-right and rabidly misogynistic men’s rights movement proud:

Piers’s latest anti-woman screed comes the same day that an extremely large group of women’s rights supporters are descending on Washington, D.C. to take part in the Women’s March on Washington. Unlike what Piers wants you to believe, feminism is not a threat to the male gender, in fact, there are many men, including me, who strongly support the goals of the women’s rights movement. Reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, and eliminating sales taxes on feminine hygiene products are issues that I view as important. I believe that women should have the right to control their own bodies, receive the same pay that men receive for the same work, and not have to pay sales taxes on feminine hygiene products that they need.

Piers Morgan is a sexist jerk, and I’ll go ahead and predict that, if he holds a men’s march, there would be fewer than 200 people show up to participate. The vast majority of people here in America view the men’s rights movement for what it is: a desperate attempt to preserve the idiotic concept of male supremacy.

I hope that there is extremely large turnout for the Women’s March on Washington, and that many men and young people show up to support women’s rights and gender equality.

Canadian YouTube roadgeek subtly criticizes Donald Trump over border walls

From Canada, the land where curling is the national pastime and ice hockey is the unofficial national religion, comes a YouTube user who goes under the screen name Trans Canada Phil (hereafter referred to in this blog post as TCP), and, judging by one of TCP’s captions on a recent roadgeek video he produced, I’m guessing that TCP no fan of Donald Trump:

Near the end of the video (I’ve set the embed to show the section of the video in question), TCP noted in the video that TCP was driving in the direction of the border between the Canadian province of Manitoba and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and that there were “no fences, no walls” along the actual U.S.-Canadian border in that area of the North American continent. TCP also noted that there were “certainly” no walls that Canadians are “going to pay for”. While TCP didn’t mention Trump by name, I’m nearly 100% certain that TCP was referring to Donald Trump. As a political figure here in the United States, Trump is best-known for stirring up virtually every kind of bigotry and resentment that one can think of, and some of his ideas that he’s campaigned on as a U.S. presidential candidate are deeply rooted in bigotry, such as his proposal to get Mexico to pay for a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

While TCP is not a Canadian government official that I’m aware of, I’m guessing that most Canadians don’t want a U.S.-Canada border wall. It’s also worth noting that the last American politician to propose such an idea, Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor who was briefly a Republican Party candidate for U.S. president, ended up dropping out of the presidential race altogether not long after he proposed such a ridiculous idea.

No, we’re not giving Alaska back to Russia

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article is written in the English language; a Russian language translation of the article courtesy of Google Translate is listed below.

Примечание автора: Эта статья написана на английском языке; русский язык перевод статьи любезно онлайн-сервисе перевода приведена ниже.


If you think that Vladimir Putin is crazy, the leader of the third-place party in the Russian State Duma is crazier than Putin.

His name is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and he’s the leader of the misnamed Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The Russian Liberal Democrats are actually a fascist and imperialist political party, even more so than Putin’s United Russia, which is the main conservative political party in Russia. Until 2011, Zhirinovsky was the vice-chairman of the Russian State Duma, which is the lower house of the Russian Federal Assembly. Think of Zhirinovsky being like Putin, except without any shred of pragmatism whatsoever, and you will not be far away from describing Zhirinovsky.

One example of Zhirinovsky being even more extreme than Putin is Zhirinovsky’s stated goal of retaking Alaska from the United States. Zhirinovsky has described his vision for a Russian Alaska as a place to forcibly relocate Ukrainians to after Russia completely takes over Ukraine. Furthermore, Zhirinovsky has a long track record of making blatantly discriminatory remarks about other people, especially in regards to American politicians, and his track record of anti-Semitism is comparable to that of former German dictator Adolf Hitler. There is an entire article devoted to Zhirinovsky’s controversial track record as a politician here.

One of my biggest fears is that, if Donald Trump is elected president, he would sell Alaska to Russia, thus completing the dreams of people like Zhirinovsky of retaking Alaska without Zhirinovsky actually becoming either the Russian head of state or the Russian head of government. I hope that never happens.


Если вы думаете, что Владимир Путин является сумасшедшим, лидер третье место партии в Государственной Думе РФ является безумнее, чем Путин.

Его зовут Владимир Жириновский, и он лидер Либерально-демократической неверно названы партии России. Российские либерал-демократы фактически фашистом и империалистическая политическая партия, даже больше, чем Путина Единая Россия, которая является основным консервативная политическая партия в России. До 2011 года Жириновский не был заместителем председателя Государственной Думы Российской Федерации, которая является нижняя палата Федерального Собрания Российской Федерации. Подумайте о Жириновского быть как Путин, за исключением без малейших прагматизмом бы то ни было, и вы не будете далеко от описания Жириновского.

Одним из примеров Жириновский является еще более экстремальным, чем Путин является заявленной целью Жириновского пересдавать на Аляске из Соединенных Штатов. Жириновский описал свое видение русской Аляски как место, чтобы насильственно переселить украинцев после того, как Россия полностью берет на себя Украину. Кроме того, Жириновский имеет длинный послужной список делает откровенно дискриминационные замечания по поводу других людей, особенно в отношении американских политиков, и его послужной список антисемитизма сравнима с таковой бывший немецкий диктатор Адольф Гитлер. Существует целая статья, посвященная спорной репутацией Жириновского как политика здесь.

Один из моих самых больших страхов является то, что, если Дональд Трамп будет избран президентом, он будет продавать Аляску России, завершив тем самым мечты людей, как Жириновский из пересдавая Аляски без Жириновского фактически став либо России глава государства или России глава правительства. Я надеюсь, что никогда не бывает.

Donald Trump violates U.S. federal election laws by sending fundraising emails to foreign politicians

Current and/or former elected officials in no fewer than six foreign countries have received campaign fundraising emails from the campaign of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican Party nominee for President of the United States. The countries in which current and/or former elected officials have received fundraising solicitations from Trump include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom. In at least one case, a former head of government of a foreign country received a fundraising solicitation from Trump.

Trump has only recently started using emails to solicit campaign donations, and it first became clear that the Trump campaign’s email list had serious flaws when Katherine Clark, a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party, received a Trump email, despite the fact that Clark is a known supporter of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. However, no laws were violated by Trump when his campaign sent an fundraising solicitation to Clark, because Clark is a United States citizen.

However, numerous current and former members of parliament in at least six foreign countries have clearly indicated that the Trump campaign has sent fundraising solicitations to individuals who are not United States citizens. Under the federal election laws of the United States, it is illegal for an American presidential candidate to solicit campaign donations from individuals who are not United States citizens.

At least two members of the Australian House of Representatives, Tim Watts and Joanne Ryan, reported via Twitter that they had received emails from the Trump campaign asking for campaign donations:

Both Watts and Ryan are members of the Australian Labour Party.

In case you are wondering who the former head of government who received a Trump campaign fundraising email is, it is former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who was the last member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, which is now defunct, to serve as prime minister:

The fact that the Trump campaign tried to sell the Brooklyn Bridge, which is not owned by Trump, to Campbell for a big discount proves that the Trump campaign is completely incompetent.

Ida Auken, a member of the Danish Parliament, also received a fundraising email from Trump:

Auken is a member of the Danish Social Liberal Party.

Anders Adlercreutz, a member of the Parliament of Finland, confirmed to Josh Marshall of the American political website Talking Points Memo that members of the Finnish Parliament have received Trump fundraising emails:

Adlercreutz is a member of the Swedish People’s Party of Finland.

The Iceland Monitor has reported that Katrín Jakobsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament, was one of at least three members of the Icelandic Parliament to receive campaign fundraising emails from Trump. Jakobsdóttir is the leader of the Icelandic Left-Green Alliance.

However, the strongest critic of the Trump fundraising emails to foreign politicians is Natalie McGarry, a member of the British House of Commons from the Glasgow area in Scotland. After receiving a fundraising email from Donald Trump, Jr., who was acting on behalf of his dad’s presidential campaign, McGarry wrote a response to the younger Trump in which she strongly criticized the elder Trump’s hateful, bigoted rhetoric and told the younger Trump that she hoped that American voters “reject your father fundamentally at the ballot box”. McGarry is not a member of any political party, although she was a member of the Scottish National Party until 2015. An online friend of mine posted to her social media page McGarry’s letter to the younger Trump, and it has been shared online over 1,700 times:

None of the foreign elected officials donated any money to Trump, to the best of my knowledge.

Donald Trump has proven that his presidential campaign is absolutely incompetent when it comes to operating an email list, and he has broken the law by attempting to solicit campaign donations from foreign politicians.

Donald Trump’s new anti-immigration policy would ban Canadians from the U.S.

While Republican party bosses and the corporate media want to convince you that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is softening his hard-line Islamophobic rhetoric, the reality is that Trump’s new Islamophobic proposals are, in some ways, even more absurd than the Islamophobic proposals that Trump ran on while campaigning for the Republican nomination:

Donald Trump may be finally gearing up to do what many Republican leaders have hoped: soften his rhetoric and pivot to the center.

He hasn’t done that yet. But there are growing signs that the presumptive Republican nominee is aiming to make his campaign more palatable to a general election audience.

His campaign is putting the finishing touches on a policy memo that would change his proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. Instead of focusing the ban on Muslims, Trump would ban immigrants coming from countries with known terrorism links, training and equipment.

(emphasis mine)

“Countries with known terrorism links, training, and equipment” is a very broad characterization of countries. By that standard, people from first-world countries with mostly non-violent, law-abiding people, but have a small minority of people that engage in terrorism of either the Islamic fundamentalist variety or any other variety, would be subject to Trump’s immigration bans. Even the Republic of Ireland and Canada, both of which have a relatively recent history of terrorism not associated in any way with an Islamic fundamentalist ideology (in the Republic of Ireland’s case, Irish republican terrorism, and, in Canada’s case, Quebec seperatist terrorism), would qualify as a “country with known terrorism links, training, and equipment”.

Banning Canadians from entering the U.S. is just plain ridiculous policy. In the past two centuries, we’ve had very few problems with Canada (and its predecessor, British North America) being a neighbor of the United States. In fact, in Vermont, there are some places where streets and buildings are partially in Vermont (and, therefore, partially in the United States) and partially in Quebec (and, therefor, partially in Canada). Trump’s policy would result in entire communities being walled off. On a related note, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the first high-profile Republican presidential candidate who was forced to end his campaign after he publicly supported building a wall on the U.S.-Canada border.

Donald Trump isn’t pivoting to the political center. Instead, he’s finding even more bizarre ways to embarrass America.