Who Makes Policy Campaign 2016 Edition

Was the TPP the Best Option at Bringing China in Line?

In its attempts to pressure and influence the income Trump administration, Chinese press continues to issue warnings against an isolationist trade agenda.

“‘Turning his trade-bashing campaign talks into actual policies could bash any hope that the Asia-Pacific will finally have its much-wanted free trade deal,’ said a commentary in the official Xinhua news agency on Saturday…’Worse, it could drag his country and the wider world into deeper economic distress,’ added the agency, which is a barometer of government thinking.”

By its own admission, China recognized that the TPP was the Obama’s administration attempt to curtail a growing Chinese power.

“Xinhua also said that the exclusion of China from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement was not about boosting trade and instead was U.S. President Barack Obama’s strategy to make sure Washington ‘rules supreme in the region.'”

But, what many American forget is that as the agreement grew in influence and success, it could have enticed China into complying with all the economic regulations and intellectual property protections that the west has been urging China to implement. It could have done to a large degree what The Donald has promised to do through a series of ill advised trade-wars with the world.

Was TPP Part of the Private Conversation?

It appears that in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, Japan took Trump’s words seriously enough to send its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to speak directly with Trump prior to his inauguration. AS a result of Trump’s isolationist rhetoric, the international community has been left in disarray as to what the world’s most powerful nation will do next on the world stage. Will it retreat as it has threaten? Will it break international mutual defense agreements? Will it break long standing free trade agreements and walk away from already negotiated ones like the TPP? Or, will Trump disappear during a lame duck session of Congress if it passes and allow it to exist once he is in power with the promise that he will fix it?! Fix it much later, but fix it nonetheless. For those of us counting on the corruptive influence of money and corporations, we are looking for ANY ray of light in this dark time. Perhaps corporate America’s influence is so strong that it will influence Trump and Congress into bringing the agreement into a vote during the lame duck session of congress. Perhaps that is why Japan’s Prime Minister was quoted as saying after the meeting that “As an outcome of today’s discussions, I am convinced Mr. Trump is a leader in whom I can have great confidence.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong With Isolationism?

If Trump is to be believed, TPP and perhaps NAFTA are dead. How vital is the U.S. to global trade? Indispensable! Or so the indispensable nation seems to think. The truth is that the weight that the U.S. economy brings to any table is unmatched. No one nation brings that kind of bargaining and purchasing power that the U.S. economy does when it comes to trade negotiations. However, the world economies have their lives to live and probably won’t sit around waiting for Americans to stop crying about the world that was and how they wish they could bring it back. So, unless the Japanese Prime Minister secured a secret assurance that the TPP will not be stopped should it pass in a lame duck session of congress, the rest of Asia should move on with the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement without the U.S. making their own pivot towards China.

The absence of the U.S. in Asia will leave a massive hole that Japan and China may look to fill which could potentially be more beneficial to both nations had the U.S. remained in the agreement. Japan would gain a bigger role in the region which would also increase its leverage should Trump revert to bilateral type of trade negotiations in the future. Japan would have a stronger position for those negotiations. It would also keep the TPP alive should America ever regain its now populist, isolationist, racist, and xenophobic infected mind and decide to join in at a later date. So what could go wrong if the U.S. goes full cave dweller? The world moves on realizes that life goes on with or without America.

Hillary Clinton on Climate Change w/ a Special Guest Appearance.

Hillary Clinton dedicated an entire speech in Miami to the subject of climate change on October 11th 2016. At Clinton’s side was former Vice President Al Gore, who is one of the most recognizable voices in the climate change arena. Good Move!  Clinton’s speech was heavy on climate details, both with regards to the consequences of climate change and her vision for how the United States can adapt to the challenges ahead. She reiterated her plans such as installing 500 million solar panels across the United States by the end of her first term . Florida is the sunshine state, but access to solar power is largely blocked by the energy industry (I’ll write another blog on this conundrum). She took hits at both Trump and Florida Senator Marco Rubio on their climate denial.  She educated the audience about global alliance needed to address climate change by talking up the Paris Agreement, mentioning what as success it is to have 195 countries agree on the need for climate change to be addressed. She also spoke of how climate change and environmental issues disproportionately impact low-income populations and communities of color and pledged to include these communities in the transition to a clean economy. Gore’s contribution to the speech was more scientific than Clinton’s but he reminded the audience what happened in Florida in the year 2000, with the audience chanting back “You Won”.  I was convinced. I am still convinced.

How Might Trump Presidency Affect Women

It’s no secret that Trump has a more than interesting track record regarding women and policies that may affect them. As he eases his position on Obamacare and other policies he argued for during his campaign, I wanted to look into the possible effects Trump policies may have on women when he becomes president.

First, there is a risk that women may be excluded from Combative roles in the military. Trump has publicly criticized the “overly” politically correct military development in recent years. Excluding women could very much happen considering an official law on the issue was never passed. Although Trump did comment on leaving it “up to the generals, admirals, and people on top.”
Second, there might be some improvement toward work-family policies, but there is debate whether that improvement will be adequate enough. Ivanka, Trump’s daughter, inspired several policies such as Childcare Reform and Paid Leave. If Congress allows his proposals to become law, families can take advantage of a tax deducation for child care as early as 2018. The Republican Congress might make such a policy very difficult to officially pass. Problems arise as Trump’s plan favors high-income families and will likely do little, if anything, for low-income parents. In terms of paid leave, Trump’s policy proposes six weeks paid leave to biological mothers only – so fathers, same-sex couple, and adoptive parents could face exclusion.
Third, we need to take a look at women’s healthcare. As Trump mulls over his supreme court appointment options, all eleven of them are Pro-Life. In terms of repealing Roe V. Wade, it seems unlikely even with the conservative appointments. Although overturn is strongly backed by Trump’s religious base, overturning disapproved of by thea decent majority of our country (59% in support of Pro-Choice) and harsh backlash would be inevitable. Repealing the Supreme Court decision on abortion, similarly to Same-Sex marriage, might be too risky. Trump’s vow to defund Planned Parenthood is a more realistic fear. Overall, he insists abortion rights should be left up to the states, and if a woman has a problem with that she can simply move to another state. Planned Parenthood stated a majority of their healthcare services support individuals who earn less than $19,000 a year. Again, we see the on-going burden faced by the growing poor.

Only time will tell as his presidency inches closer.

Water Under Continued Stress

I like posting about water issues in the U.S. and around the world because it’s a dangerous problem that tends to fall under the radar. Few people realize how prevalent of an issue this is, and will continue to become. Frequently we hear talk of climate change affecting our futures, but current depletion of our most vital resource is proof to stop grieving for future generations. It’s happening now. 

    1. Lake Cachuma, which supplies Southern California‘s Santa Barbara county with half of it’s drinking water supply, reached an all-time low of 7% capacity this summer and is predicted to be “too low to distribute” come this January. Southern California towns are in a panic of what will happen to their drinking water. There is talk of desalination efforts to convert Pacific Ocean saltwater.
    2. New York‘s Rockland county is proposing to buy $5 million gallons of drinking water from New Jersey each day because water supplies are too low. New Jersey has harshly criticized the efforts worrying the effect it will have, especially considering New Jersey is experiencing its worse drought in 14 years.
    3. A dangerous tidal salt front threatens drinking water in the Delaware River Basin. This salt front has reached the second closest point since Delaware’s severe drought of 1960. Talk is underway on how best to avoid contamination of the fresh water supply – declaring an emergency drought, seeking water from private reservoirs, or contacting the U.S. army to release more water into the basin.
    4. The City of Muncie in Indiana was placed under a Boil Water Advisory after the city’s water supplies violated safe drinking standards. Any drinking or cooking with tap water is asked to be boiled for three minutes before use because of discovered contaminants.
    5. Newburgh, New York is offering thousands of blood tests to its residents after discover a chemical reached dangerous levels in tap water supplies. This chemical “perfluorooctane sulfonate” has been linked to cancer and is used for firefighting foam. Come on people…. It’s worth noting Newburgh is a very poor city, which makes us question how environmental dangers disproportionately hurt the poor (Flint, Michigan for example!).
    6. Lake Baikal in Russia has been historically known as the World’s cleanest lake. Recently the lake has been “buried under thick mats of reeking greenish-black goo” which turned out to be a very toxic algae cause by influx of untreated human sewage due to poor wastewater treatment.

Also, World Meteorological Organization Scientists have predicted that 2016 will likely be the world’s hottest year on record – breaking all of 2015’s records.

Again, I found all of this news from articles of either today or yesterday.

Attaching some pictures below…


Santa Barbara’s depleting Lake Cachuma.


Russia’s Lake Baikal toxic algae – once known as the world’s cleanest lake.

This Guy Might Be Your New CIA Director…

Our new President-Elect, You-Know-Who, has already made some serious waves over the weekend in terms of cabinet picks, choosing RNC head Reince Preibus for Chief-of-Staff and, more controversially, Steve Bannon (formerly from Breitbart) as Chief Strategist.  I say more controversially here being that, to say the least, he is seen as a prominent figure in the modern white nationalist movement.

Now, with more news coming out about further picks for cabinet positions, the hits keep on coming:

Donald Trump may select Jose Rodriguez, one of the primary architects of the George W. Bush torture program, to run the Central Intelligence Agency, according to a law firm with close ties to Trump.

“Rodriguez, the former director of the National Clandestine Service, helped developed the CIA black sites, secret prisons operated in foreign countries where interrogators used a range of torture tactics, including the use of “waterboarding,” the simulated drowning technique once used by the Khmer Rouge and Nazi agents to glean information from detainees.

At least 136 individuals were detained and tortured by the CIA. Interrogation tactics also included forced nudity, sleep deprivation while being vertically shackled, and confinement in a small box.”

President-elect He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did give the country a warning during the campaign process of the direction he was leaning in, talking about how he wanted to bring back torture, how he wanted to torture “even if it didn’t work,” and how he would do far worse than waterboarding.  Now, it seems, he’s ready to put in place a partner in the CIA who would be a-okay with that agenda.

Thanks, America!

Will Trump Come Between Apple and Their Chinese Customers?

It appears that China is ready to strike at the heart of America’s tech industry should the Trump administration go through with its threats to impose tariffs on Chinese goods and declare China a currency manipulator. Throughout the campaign Trump promised to reign China in and play hard ball. Well, it sounds like China is ready to do the same. The Chinese government recently made it clear that if the U.S. were to begin slapping tariffs on Chinese goods, it would heavily tax Apple’s iPhones being sold in China. It also noted that it would not stop there. It would retaliate further by:

“China will take a tit-for-tat approach then,” it added. “A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. US auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and US soybean and maize imports will be halted. China can also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the US. Trump, as a shrewd businessman, will not be so naïve.”

China does not believe that the U.S. would risk breaking the U.S. economy’s expansion streak under Obama and begin a potentially damaging trade war with them. Instead, it maintains that the best course of action is to continue with the status quo set under Obama and past administrations. Only time will tell if Trump is really the negotiator and adversary he claims to be or if he will be once again smacked down like he was during the debates. In the end, he may do what he always has which is blame others for his failures and count on his disciples to warp facts into conspiracies explaining his failures.

Bonds bet on little change and no trade wars.

The bond traders on Wall Street have given careful consideration to Trump and what his future presidency will be like and they have arrived at a conclusions.  According to them, Americans can stop protesting and get back to their lives. Essentially the bond traders are the police officers at the scene of a crime or accident waving off the public while stating “nothing to see folks, keep it moving.” Bond traders have made the conclusion that Trump will not significantly break anything major and will not upset trade or enter into any trade wars.

“It has taken markets just four days to price in four years of President Donald Trump. The verdict of investors isn’t just clear, but comes with a remarkable degree of certainty: more inflation, a little more growth, and no nasties such as a damaging trade war or a diplomatic disaster.”

The belief is that Trump will not “drain the swamp” as he promised, but will instead take a dip himself. The bond markets are betting on his administration to continue to bring Washington insiders despite his promises to clean house.

“The boost from a market-friendly president-elect may run a while yet if Mr. Trump fills out his transition team with mainstream Republicans, to follow the weekend appointment as chief of staff of Reince Priebus.”

However, these bets maybe too optimistic on the foreign affairs side. With Russia and China looking to expand their spheres of influence and Trump giving serious consideration to the not so recently unhinged Rudy Giuliani as his Secretary of State, the future may not be as smooth as the optimistic bond market is betting on.

In the wake of a Trump victory, what is ahead and who cares?

Once all the tears, finger pointing, and clamoring for the reinvention of the wheel (i.e. Democratic party) have subsided will anyone care about actual policy? While the left self destructs trying to make sense of the senseless, the rest of the world is moving ahead trying influence Trump’s policies. China’s state media is already warning Trump to maintain the status quo or risk potential damage to relations and the American economy should they become isolationist and begin trade wars.

“U.S. isolationist policies had ‘accelerated the country’s economic crisis’ during the Great Depression, warned a commentary by China’s official Xinhua News Agency, though it added that ‘election talk is just election talk'”.

The rest of the world is hoping that through international pressure, Trump will avoid trade wars and broken trade deals. Instead of eating their young, democrats should take the time to start building alliances at home and overseas to shape and temper Trump policies.