Mike Morell on Trump Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

Michael Morell, fmr. deputy director of the CIA, discusses President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

 I look at this from a national security perspective:
  1. The climate will be worse than it would have been
    1. Preservation of the nation
      1. nuclear war with Russia
      2. naturally occurring biological agent
      3. climate change is that serious over the long term
    2. Specific national security implications
      1. water shortages: conflicts over water.
      2. instability caused by growing deserts
      3. food scarcity
    3. US leadership: worse than not enforcing red line in Syria
      1. This undermine allies’s faith in US: Angela Merkel sees greater prospects with China than US
      2. Thought US did well to reassure Middle East Allies in Middle East (vis-a-vis Iran)
      3. Failure to reassure Europe over Article 5.  They feel like America doesn’t have their back
      4. George Shultz: the US helped to forge
        1. Say what you mean: have clearly articulated policty
        2. Do what you say: draw red line, if you forge treaty, don’t abandon it
      5. I’ve been an analyst of other countries.  Now I’m an analyst of my own country:
        1. Nationalists: Bannon, etc: very narrowly focused
        2. Globalists: McMaster, Mattis, Pompeo, Tillperson, Dan Coats, Gary Cohn: traditional Republican foreign policy
        3. Jared Kushner: not ideological, not long-term interests of US, looking out for Reputation of Family: Barak Obama of Administration
        4. President Trump: view was framed on campaign trail, what resonated with people: if there is a threat to US, we will crush it.  Otherwise we will withdraw.

Middle East

Is it wise to make Iran an enemy?  Yes, Iran is a threat to strategic interests

  1. They conduct terror through Kuds force conducts terrorism against Jews, and neighbors
  2. Support terror
  3. Support Shia insurgent groups to overthrow Sunni regimes
  4. It is policy to destroy Israel
  5. It is policy to dominate region
  6. We need to push back agains bad behavior, but give them an out if they want to change.
  7. We need to reassure the allies
  8. We need to talk to our allies about democracy privately
  9. John Kerry says if we do more sanctions, they walk
    1. then that is them walking away from the table
    2. we should leave the door open to them
    3. they have to pay a price for their bad behavior, and I think that happens through sanctions

What is the significance of the James Comey firing and testimony

  1. Did any Trump associates conspire with Russians, help choose material, timing for maximal impacy
  2. Did Russian organized crime help launder money.  Donald Jr. said that money was flowing in from Russia.  Did they do due diligence to know where the money was coming from?
  3. Is there anyone in the Trump administration, particularly with classified info, with inappropriate relationship with Russian Intelligence
  4. Did the president obstruct justice by
    1. asking for loyalty
    2. asking to let Flynn issue go
    3. firing Comey
  5. Jared Kushner meeting with ambassador, asking for backchannel
    1. facts in public domain may not be accurate
      1. Russians talking to each other about meeting
      2. Officials leaking to reporters
      3. Reporters reporting on this: this is not a great chain of evidence
    2. This isn’t just about Kushner, Michael Flynn was there and would have known better than to ask for secure communications
    3. Its less the desire to set up a channel, supposedly to talk to Russian military about Syria.  Why the secrecy?  Maybe they were worried about leaks.
    4. Was this Flynn and Kushner’s acting on their own, or did Trump, Pence have permission?
    5. I’m more interested in what they were doing before the election than after.
    6. The facts as we know them do not indicate that there was something criminal.
    7. Hillary asked about whether anyone in the Trump camp helped weaponize stolen data and what fake news to promote.

Middle East: Syria: we’re entering a new phase

All of our focus is on the defeat of ISIS, but there is a growing risk of conflict between:  US-Iran and US-Russia

Civil War:

  1. Assad-Opposition: as they are winning, they are getting closer to US allies
  2. US & Allies – ISIS:
    1. US: struck Syrian government forces
    2. Russia struck US allies getting closer to their base

Trump Says He Did Not Tape Comey Conversations

President Trump acknowledged Thursday that he had not recorded his conversations with James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired amid the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking, and illegal leaking of information,” Mr. Trump said in a pair of tweets shortly before 1 p.m., “I have no idea …. whether there are ‘tapes’ of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, such recordings.”

.. Some legal experts have said that Mr. Trump’s threat could be used in an obstruction of justice case against him, since it could be interpreted as putting pressure on Mr. Comey not to discuss their conversations about the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

.. Ms. Sanders said that Mr. Trump had promised to deliver an answer on the existence of the tapes by the end of the week, and that he had delivered on that promise. She also said she did not believe his intention in his original Twitter post about tapes had been to intimidate Mr. Comey.

Comments:

.. Trump could have set the record straight 40 days ago.

Instead he chose to toy with the American people.

I don’t know who is worse, Trump for making such a sick joke or anyone who defends this.

For anyone who was in doubt, this should clear things up: the President can not be trusted.

 

Canada’s Trump Strategy: Go Around Him

Laid in the first days after Mr. Trump’s election win, the plan even enlists Brian Mulroney, a former Conservative prime minister and political nemesis of Mr. Trudeau’s father, who had also been prime minister. Mr. Mulroney knows Mr. Trump and his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, from social circuits in southern Florida, where all three keep vacation homes.

.. Though emphasizing the benefits of harmony, the Canadians are not above flexing muscle, with a provincial government at one point quietly threatening trade restrictions against New York State.

.. His new foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist with long experience in the United States and an unapologetic champion of the global liberal order, is seen as able to coax the Americans when possible and defy them when necessary.

Ms. Freeland’s team of America-whisperers includes Andrew Leslie, a former lieutenant general and Afghanistan veteran who knows many of the American generals filling out Mr. Trump’s administration.

Mr. Trudeau established a “war room” dedicated to the United States, headed by Brian Clow

.. Ministers’ schedules resemble those of rock bands on summer tours. They travel armed with data on the precise dollar amount and number of jobs supported by Canadian firms and trade in that area.

.. when Mr. Trump announced that the United States would leave the Paris climate agreement. Canadian officials said they would instead seek climate deals with American states, many of which were already in progress.

Political Divisions in 2016 and Beyond

Tensions Between and Within the Two Parties

One way to understand the 2016 election, then, is to note that by making questions of national identity more salient, Donald Trump succeeded in winning over “populists” (socially conservative, economically liberal voters) who had previously voted for Democrats.

.. Trump’s candidacy has brought more economic liberals into the Republican Party, moving the party’s center of gravity on these issues to the left. Trump has also moved the party to a much more nativist position on questions of national identity.

.. The View That Politics is a Rigged Game

  • Elections today don’t matter; things stay the same no matter who we vote in.
  • People like me don’t have any say in what the government does.
  • Elites in this country don’t understand the problems I am facing.

.. The Importance of Social Security/Medicare

  • How important is Social Security to the respondent?
  • How important is Medicare to the respondent?

Attitudes on Foreign Trade A battery of questions on the costs/benefits of free trade.

Attitudes On Gender Roles A battery of questions on the role of women in society.

Pride in America

  • How proud are you of America’s history?
  • I would rather be a citizen of America than any other country in the world.

The Perception That “People Like Me” Are Losing Ground

  • Life in America today for people like me is worse compared to 50 years ago.
  • In America, the values and culture of people like me are becoming rarer and less accepted.

Attitudes Toward African-Americans A battery of racial resentment questions toward African-Americans.

Feelings Toward Muslims

  • Favoring or opposing temporarily banning Muslims from other countries from entering
  • the U.S.
  • Feeling thermometer rating toward Muslims.

Attitudes on Immigration

  • Whether illegal immigrants contribute to American society/are a drain.
  • Favoring or opposing a legal way for illegal immigrants already in the United States to
  • become U.S. citizens.
  • Whether it should be easier/harder for foreigners to immigrate to the U.S. legally than it is
  • currently.

Attitudes on Moral Issues

  • View on abortion.
  • View on gay marriage.
  • View on transgender bathrooms.

Attitudes on Economic Inequality

  • Whether our economic system is biased in favor of the wealthiest Americans.
  • Whether we should raise taxes on the wealthy.
  • Whether distribution of money and wealth in this country is fair.

Attitudes Toward Government Intervention

  • Whether we need a strong government to handle complex economic problems.
  • Whether there is too much/too little regulation of business by the government.

.. Divides get much wider as we move toward questions of race and national identity. Trump voters have more negative attitudes than Clinton supporters about African-Americans, are much less supportive of immigration, and have much more negative feelings toward Muslims.

.. To summarize, supporters of Clinton and Trump are very polarized on identity and moral issues. Views on economic issues are more of a mix. Both candidates’ supporters are generally supportive of the social safety net, and somewhat concerned about trade. Yet they diverge very much on how concerned they are about inequality, and how actively they want to see government regulate business and intervene in the economy.

.. The data suggest that the main divide within the Democratic Party electorate is about attitudes toward the establishment and the existing order than it is about specific issue positions (with the exception of trade policy).

.. For the most part, Trump and Cruz supporters look fairly similar, though Cruz supporters are considerably more conservative on moral issues, and notably less concerned about inequality and the social safety net, and more pro-free trade. In other words, Cruz voters were more likely to fit the description of traditional
conservatives.

.. For the most part, Kasich supporters are the true moderates, caught in between the two parties on almost every issue, both economic and social. Kasich supporters come closest to Democrats on their feelings about immigration and about Muslims specifically.

.. Looking at the correlates of candidate favorability, we can more clearly see the potential divide in the Democratic Party. Again, it is more about disaffection than issue positions. The strongest predictor of Sanders support (holding all else constant) is a sense that the system is rigged. Clinton’s biggest boosters, by contrast, are more comfortable with the system as is, are less likely to see things getting worse, and are generally prouder about America. They are also more supportive of free trade. Interestingly, support for Muslims is noticeably more highly correlated with support for Clinton than for Sanders. This is somewhat surprising.

.. Still, to the extent that many of these divisions are establishment/antiestablishment divisions, they are somewhat muted by Democrats now being the opposition party. By contrast, had Hillary Clinton become president, these disagreements might have widened, since governing requires the kind of compromise and incrementalism that would be most likely to drive the Sanders wing of the party into rebellion.

.. we can see that Trump’s biggest enthusiasts within the party are Republicans who hold the most anti-immigration and anti-Muslim views, demonstrate the most racial resentment, and are most likely to view Social Security and Medicare as important.

.. By contrast, the strongest predictor of support for Ted Cruz is a set of strongly conservative views on moral issues, and somewhat pro-free trade views.

.. Notably, among Trump supporters, the age gap is nonexistent on resentment toward African-Americans, and very small on immigration. There is a wider gap on feeling toward Muslims, with old Trump voters being more anti-Muslim.

.. The widest within party variation by age cohort is within the Democratic Party on the indexes measuring pride in America and the perception that “people like me” are losing ground. Younger Democrats are both the most optimistic about their own future, but the least enthusiastic about America. To the extent that politics is increasingly organized around a conflict over ethnonationalism versus multicultural cosmopolitanism, the vanguard of this struggle is younger Clinton voters opposed to older Trump voters.

.. In both parties, this donor class is both more conservative on economic issues and more liberal on social issues, as compared to the rest of the party. However, there is a slight but notable asymmetry between the two parties on identity issues. Among Democrats, the donor class is notably to the left of the working class on these issues.

.. Already, we saw that in 2016, many of the party switchers appear to have been motivated by identity issues.

.. What Divides The Parties Now?
The parties are divided on both social/identity and economic issues, but more so on identity issues. The gaps between the Clinton and Trump voters on questions of racial resentment, immigration, attitudes toward Muslims, and moral issues are consistently wide. There is very little overlap between the two camps on these issues.

.. By contrast, although the parties are divided on economic issues, there is more overlap. Particularly in the Republican Party, there are a wide range of views on economic issues, now that the party has expanded to include more and more populists who were formerly Democrats.

.. Many of the Romney voters who supported Clinton did so because they were uncomfortable with Trump’s far-right positions on immigration and other identity issues.

.. Early indications suggest that Trump was serious about his ethnonationalist agenda, which will keep identity issues, especially immigration, at the center of our politics. If this happens, it may put pressure on the remaining pro-immigration Republicans and the remaining anti-immigration Democrats (some remain in both camps), further realigning the parties.

.. Democrats may also be pressured to move further left on these issues, given that both younger voters and the party’s donor class are quite far to the left on identity issues. If so, American politics would become further polarized along questions of culture and identity.

.. Since Republicans have picked up more economically liberal voters (and may continue to do so since there are still some populists who vote for Democrats), it may be harder for Republicans to continue to push a traditional conservative free-market agenda. If so, this would leave conservatives with little place to go. Democrats might move right a little bit on economic issues, but they are limited by where their voters are on the issue. In addition, a move rightward might activate more of the anti-establishment sentiment that could potentially cause a rift in the Democratic Party.