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On the House Floor -

Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017 (12/10/2018 legislative day)


On the House Floor -

Urging the Secretary of the Interior to recognize the historical significance of Roberto Clemente's place of death near Piñones in Loíza, Puerto Rico, by adding it to the National Register of Historic Places. (12/10/2018 legislative day)


On the House Floor -

To direct the Secretary of the Interior to annually designate at least one city in the United States as an "American World War II Heritage City", and for other purposes. (12/10/2018 legislative day)

French Protests Giving U.S. Progessives a Panic Attack

Real Clear Politics -

Stephen Hayward, PowerLine
Here in America we have Civil War re-enactors, and it seems France has 1968 Paris Riot re-enactors. The only thing missing is Charles de Gaulle. Emmanuel Macron isn't even fit to be de Gaulle's stand-in poodle. I notice his public approval ratings are around 18 percent. No wonder Trump smiles when they stand together at G-20 meetings. I've been wanting for months to write up a retrospective look at the

Heather Nauert Is in for a World of Pain

Politico -

Heather Nauert had better enjoy a good crisis, because she is going to face a rough geopolitical ride to the United Nations. The State Department spokeswoman, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, already knows how nasty diplomacy can be. She has accompanied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to North Korea for combative talks about nuclear disarmament and Saudi Arabia to discuss the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

But if the Senate confirms her appointment, Nauert will become one of America’s principal players on a brace of flash points from Iran to South Sudan, at least on paper. Haley, a former governor, impressed other ambassadors by bargaining with China to secure severe sanctions against North Korea after its 2017 nuclear test, while securing U.N. budget cuts to satisfy Trump.

But Nauert? Before her crash course in diplomacy from the State Department podium, she was a Fox News personality. Some commentators wonder whether she has the negotiating experience—or political backing in Washington—to play an equally effective diplomatic role.

Haley shot to prominence because the Trump administration’s foreign policy machine was in persistent disarray throughout his first year in office. She was able to craft and articulate reasonably clear policies at a safe distance from the White House. But much has changed since those early days. Secretary Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, have taken control of foreign policy, reducing Haley’s room for maneuver. Nauert will probably have even less autonomy.

Just last week during a speech in Brussels, Pompeo dismissed the U.N.—along with a host of other multilateral organizations—as excessively bureaucratic, biased against Israel and committed to some sort of secretive global wealth redistribution scheme. Bolton has been making similar points for decades. Whereas Haley carefully distinguished herself from the administration’s fiercest unilateralists, Nauert may struggle to distance herself from Bolton and Pompeo’s agenda.

That agenda, as Pompeo explained it, involves “rallying the noble nations of the world” to put pressure on rogue actors like Iran and China. This sounds an awful lot like the George W. Bush administration’s Iraq War-era emphasis on forging “coalitions of the willing” to serve U.S. interests regardless of multilateral structures like the Security Council. If this is the administration’s plan, Nauert’s marching orders in New York may simply be to gum up U.N. diplomacy.

The more the U.S. can use its influence in the U.N. to stop the organization from functioning, the more Washington can prod other powers to deal with it on American terms. Haley’s great strategic mistake, at least according to the hawks’ logic, may have been to make the U.N. work too well. So, while Nauert is said not to be a hard-line anti-multilateralist herself, she could end up as a sort of diplomatic spoiler-in-chief in New York.

Yet if she takes the U.N. seriously, she may also realize that this is a highly risky strategy. For all the U.N.’s manifold faults—which, despite Pompeo’s rhetorical overkill, are real—the institution does serve some U.S. political and security interests.

The most important of these is policing nuclear nonproliferation. As Haley’s negotiations with the China over North Korea demonstrated, the U.N. still offers a useful framework for the U.S. and other powers to manage weapons of mass destruction. It does so very imperfectly. U.N. sanctions did not stop Pyongyang from getting the bomb in the first place, and Russia has repeatedly blocked the Security Council from penalizing Syria for its use of chemical weapons. The Trump administration’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal without even a formal debate in the council shows how little the president and his advisers believe in the U.N.’s anti-proliferation work.

Yet Nauert may find that the U.S. still needs the U.N. to help handle WMD in the future. If the current U.S. negotiations with Pyongyang go off the rails, there is a good chance that the new ambassador will find that she has to start talking to the Chinese about even more sanctions. It is not clear that Beijing will continue to cooperate on this issue. But if Washington and China cannot keep up a common front on the Koreas, the chances of a conflict in North East Asia will shoot back up.

Even if Nauert does not end up grappling with nuclear issues, she will need to spend a lot of time thinking about other forms of warfare. U.N. peacekeeping operations continue to try to tamp down outbreaks of violence from Mali to Lebanon. International officials worry that one of the organization’s biggest blue helmet forces, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, could face a burst of unrest after controversial elections this December. Nauert could take up office early next year only to find that she has to attend immediately to a very serious political crisis in Kinshasa.

Such crises in Africa show up only sporadically on the U.S. political radar, but U.S. diplomats in New York find them unavoidably time-consuming. Haley, for instance, initially paid little attention to African affairs and urged major cuts to the U.N.’s peacekeeping budget. But as she settled into U.N. affairs, she started to focus more on averting bloodshed in the DRC and South Sudan. Nobody wants to be the ambassador who allows another Rwanda on their watch.

Nauert may also face early pressure from Congress to help the U.N. find a solution to the Saudi Arabia-led military intervention in Yemen, which has suddenly become a U.S. political priority as a side effect of the Khashoggi affair. U.N. mediators are currently sitting with Yemeni negotiators in Sweden trying to find an end to the war, which threatens to create a famine affecting 20 million people. If they succeed—which is very far from guaranteed—there will be calls for the U.N. to send money, peacekeepers or both to help make peace stick.

Once again, Nauert could find herself dealing with complex crisis management issues very early in her tenure. How much would the U.S. be willing to pay for an international security force in Yemen? How much will it be willing to pledge on reconstruction? If the American mission to the U.N. is not prepared to lead on these issues, others will. Chinese officials have been talking a lot about their commitments to U.N. peace efforts recently. If Washington insists that it prefers Secretary Pompeo’s “noble nations of the world” to the U.N., Beijing will gladly fill the resulting diplomatic gap.

Nauert is stepping up to be U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at a potentially decisive period in the organization’s history. It’s a remarkable promotion for someone with only a few years of experience in the State Department—it may also turn out to be an explosive assignment.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine


LinkedIn co-founder backs $35 million voter data project in 'existential threat' to Democratic Party

Politico -

Silicon Valley billionaire Reid Hoffman has teamed up with several former Obama administration officials to create an independent — and likely for-profit — database that would store all of the progressive community’s voter data, according to three sources familiar with the initiative.

The project's backers intend to spend $35 million in the first year alone, with Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn, as the primary investor.

“As we build this effort, we will be reaching out to all the key players soon to get this done,“ a person familiar with the on-going discussions told POLITICO, stressing that the project is still in its early stages. “Across the board, everyone involved agrees that the Republicans have a tremendous advantage when it comes to data infrastructure going into 2020, and that there needs to be a real shift in our thinking and action in order to set candidates up to be successful for people around the country.”

Hoffman’s venture complicates plans for a separate data trust project being pushed by the Democratic National Committee, plans for which POLITICO first revealed last week. That effort is facing resistance from the Democratic state parties, which have prime ownership rights to the party’s voter file and are hesitant about licensing it to an outside entity.

The DNC’s top leaders have been telling people that Hoffman’s project represents an “existential threat" to the party, according to two sources with knowledge of the discussions.

With tens of millions of dollars at their disposal, the people behind Hoffman-backed project could eventually create their own voter file, making the Democratic Party’s file less valuable. That process, however, would likely take several years and would be nearly impossible to complete by the 2020 election.

As a result, DNC officials say the committee is open to collaborating with Hoffman, or perhaps joining forces with him.

"The DNC believes the creation of a data trust is imperative to winning in 2020 and beyond, and we are open to participating alongside a variety of partners in a data trust that protects the interests of our party and ensures state parties have what they need to win," Mary Beth Cahill, a senior advisor to the DNC, said in a statement.

The data trust structure allows for raising money from the private sector free from campaign finance limits. It would also facilitate pooling together data from outside groups and campaigns in real time, which is normally not allowed. The Republican Party currently has that structure and many top Democrats believe it offers a huge advantage.

State parties agree that some entity allowing for data integration should be created and are working on several counter-proposals to present in the coming weeks. They are wary of giving up some control of their voter file to an outside entity. There is also fear that Hoffman and the “move fast and break things” ethos of Silicon Valley would ultimately bring about the end of the state parties as currently constituted.

“Both of [the data trust projects] will eliminate state parties, not immediately but eventually,” said one state party official. State parties will still be subject to campaign finance limits while outside groups without those limits would have access to their voter file data, putting them at a disadvantage that could grow with time, the thinking goes.

Some state parties are also skeptical of the new project’s leadership, which has plenty of government and technology experience but little campaign know-how. Todd Park, the former U.S. chief technology officer to Barack Obama, would serve as chair, and veterans of the U.S. Digital Service, Haley Van Dyck and Mickey Dickerson, as CEO and CTO, respectively.

The next decision point will likely come on December 18 at a previously scheduled meeting with top DNC officials, state parties, and other interested parties.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine



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