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Sneak peak: Republican presidential field 2024

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Let’s start the New Year off right:  classy political gossip

The Democrats are already into it, with columnists suggesting President Biden should dump Kamala Harris and take on Liz Cheney as his VP (Tom Friedman in the New York Times), and that there are likely more than a dozen contenders for the Democratic throne (per Perry Bacon Jr in the Washington Post):  Kentucky Governor Any Beshear, Senator Corey Booker, former Montana governor Steve Bullock, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.), North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Sen. Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (WI), Sen. Raphael Warnock (Ga.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Oh yes, according to two New York politicos, Hillary Clinton is for sure coming in.  (Spoiler alert:  No she won’t. Trust me on this)

That sounds as exciting as the 2020 Iowa primary.  But we don’t have to go there. 

Instead, let’s look at the Republicans. The initial cut at their field looks like this:

Donald Trump.   Numero Uno. El Jefe-in-Chief.  Everyone who talks with Trump comes away with the absolute impression he is running.  Which is exactly the impression Trump wants to leave.

Trump

He dominates the Republican Party as no one has since Ronald Reagan.  He is purging Republicans from their seats in Congress who voted to impeach him or support the January 6 House Select Committee.

He is endorsing not only candidates for governor, the House and Senate, but also for state government offices where the votes are counted in key states, like Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Arizona. 

He wants to make sure that no matter what the ballots say, he wins those states. Money is no issue for Trump. Demanding complete and utter loyalty is – not only to him but to his belief that the 2020 election was stolen, and that he is the legitimate president, and that the record of the stolen election has to be corrected.  

So the interesting question is:  who has the spine, the temerity, the courage, the foolhardiness, the fearlessness, the crazy imagination, the guts, after seeing what Trump did to the field in 2016?

That they actually think they can go mano-a-mano against Trump and beat him in the Republican primaries  – to have the stamina to remain standing after Trump unloads on them and calls on his base to eviscerate their candidacies?

Who indeed? Who gets up in the morning, puts their pants on one leg at a time, looks at themselves in the mirror and says:  Yes, I can beat  and I can beat that you-know-what and become President of the United States?  

Right now, that field is composed of five white men:

Mike Pence, former Vice President.  Pence, a man with enormous ambition, was serving as governor of Indiana in 2016.  He desperately wanted to be Trump’s VP because it would mean he could become the P.  Pence still hungers for it. 

Mike Pence

But there is one problem:  Trump hates him for his disloyalty in not overturning Biden’s election when the Electoral College votes were counted. 

Pence stood up to withering pressure from Trump to be loyal, and Pence did his constitutional duty instead.  Trump never forgives. Trump has made no secret that he hates Pence.  And Trump’s base knows it, and they will not vote for him.

Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State.  Pompeo, who also served as head of the CIA under Trump, was hardline loyal to Trump’s foreign policy objectives.

Mike Pompeo

Wherever Trump wanted to go on Russia or China or dealing with the Taliban to get out of Afghanistan, Pompeo was there.  Pompeo is sharp, articulate, and fierce.  He can bring a focus on Trumpist policies that work with the base. He has also lost over 40 kilos – a sure sign he is running.

Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey.  After years of dealing with Trump and being in his good graces (Trump wanted Christie to be his chief of staff in the White House), Christie has broken with Trump. 

Chris Christie

Christie believes the party needs to move on, and that Trump’s obsession with the 2020 election is a cancer on the party.  And they don’t play beanbag in New Jersey. Christie can take any knuckledusters Trump wants to throw.

Larry Hogan, governor of Maryland. A super longshot.  Hogan is a moderate Republican and extremely popular in Maryland, a Democratic state.  He too believes in a post-Trump Republican party and wants to take his call to conscience on the road. His prospects are zero.

Larry Hogan

Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida.  A bigger threat to Trump than Pence or Pompeo.  DeSantis has all the Trumpist policy swagger – but not Trump’s character flaws.  In other words, 100% Trumpism without Trump. 

MIAMI, FL – JUNE 08: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is seen during a press conference relating hurricane season updates at the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center on June 8, 2020 in Miami, Florida. NOAA has predicted that this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will be more active than usual with up to 19 named storms and 6 major hurricanes possible. (Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)

So what is the governor doing in Florida right now?  Passing a law to outlaw abortion after 15 weeks and making sure racial equity is not taught in Florida schools  and ensuring Florida health policy is against everything Dr Anthony Fauci is for in terms of dealing with Covid.  DeSantis is pugnacious and defiant.  He has immense belief in his political skills and strength. To paraphrase Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront,  “He is a contender.”

If DeSantis is not muscled out of running by Trump, he will likely prove to be Trump’s fiercest competitor. 

One hitch for Trump:  he can’t get DeSantis out of the way by offering him the vice presidency. 

The Constitution effectively stops the president and vice president from being from the same state.  (The 12th Amendment reads in relevant part:  “The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves.”)

So, who will be on the Republican ballot to carry Florida in 2024?  Trump or DeSantis?

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

Climate Change

Australia set to bid for COP29, despite lack of climate action

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Australia is set to bid for the opportunity to host the COP29 climate conference, despite its lack of climate action recently

Australia’s opposition Labor party says it will bid to host the 2024 COP29 climate conference if they win the upcoming Federal Election.

They say it will be in partnership with the Pacific and Soloman Island Nations ‘if they want to.’

Australia has never hosted a United Nations climate conference but it could set them on the global stage as a leader in climate change action. 

However, Australia has been dubbed a laggard on its climate change action and may not be equipped to host such a significant event.

 

“This is a real shift in Australia’s policy…For 30 years in the history of the United Nations Climate negotiations Australia hasn’t hosted a meeting… Instead it usually shys away from them”

richie merzian, the australia institute
Richie merzian, australia institute

Australia’s rocky relationship with the Solomon Islands will make the deal even more uncertain.

A recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands has been finalised, meaning China will build a military base just Kilometres from Australia’s borders.

Australia has recently cristicised the Solomon Islands for its friendly ties to China and how that will negatively impact Australia’s national security.

Now the biggest question is do the Pacific, and the Solomon Islands, even want to partner with Australia at COP29?

“It’s a real opportunity for Australia to gear up it’s diplomacy, to demonstrate leadership of the global stage and hopefully shake of its reputation as a laggard on climate action”

richie merzian, the australia institute
richie merzian, the australia institute

Deadly heatwave

Climate change has reared its head more frequently over recent years, including wildfires, ravaging floods, and extreme weather events.

This comes as millions of people in India and Pakistan experience a brutal heat wave that has left hundreds dead.

The high temperatures have been surfacing for the last two months, with the Government unprepared to handle it.

The heatwave is causing wide sweeping water shortages, heat stroke, and power outages.

The region has reached its highest April temperatures in 122 years.

Photo credit: New York Times

“Global warming means more extreme heatwaves, and longer heatwaves… It’s a sign of things to come.”

richie merzian, australia institute
richie merzian, australia institute

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Ticker Views

Why it’s important to keep Putin weak and humiliated

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Three months in and Russia has intensified its offensive in the eastern part of the nation, but its gains have been slow

America’s Defence Intelligence Agency head also says between eight and 10 Russian generals have been killed as a result of the combat.

But all Moscow has gained is a small piece of Ukrainian territory in the east.

Vladimir Putin remained tight-lipped about any plans to escalate the war during his Victory Day speech.

Some fear that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine didn’t live up to his expectations, which could force him to resort to desperate measures.

However, Ticker News spoke with Eastern Europe expert Sergej Sumlenny who says it’s important to keep Putin weak and humiliated.

How does this war end?

Sumlenny says there’s no “good exit” in sight while Putin remains in power.

“He has not entered into this war to believe he’ll finish Ukraine in one to three days, or one week top,” he says.

The Eastern European expert says the Russian army has already suffered double as much losses as the Soviet Army within 10 years in Afghanistan.

“The Russian army could not achieve any significant victory. Russian President Putin on the ninth of May on Victory Day in Russia could not present any victory. And that was a huge revelation for him and he understands it,

“So I don’t see any exit strategy for him. He clearly tries to push further without any success. Like Russia delivers war criminals to The Hague, the International Criminal Court pulls out its army out of Ukraine and establish over 300 kilometre demilitarised zone on Russian territory working into Ukraine. That would be a great end,” Sumlenny proposed.

However, he acknowledges an end could take months.

“As long as this will not be provided, Ukrainian army will continue to fight back, destroying Russian military equipment killing Russian soldiers unfortunately for Russia, until Ukrainians will push Russians out of their country, it can take months, but it will be inevitable.”

Putin is dangerous, with power or without power

The West holds talks to Putin during eight years of his war on Ukraine.

The West Hall talks to Putin after he has attacked Georgia in 2000, after he annexed Crimea in 2014, after he guessed a Syria, like since 2012, and further, and it didn’t help.

Russia was invited to every international international ground like conventional platform like g20 but Russia conceals everything. And it didn’t help.

According to Sumlenny, when Putin feels to be strong, he strikes and he kills.

“He felt very strong in February this year. That’s why he attacked Ukraine, he felt desperate or threatened by all sides. And that’s not true. But he felt very strong. That’s why he attacked, so now he feels weak,” he says.

“Of course, he’s dangerous like any dictator, but it’s better to have in him desperate and weak than strong and aggressive.”

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Ticker Views

Senate set to kill abortion rights this week

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The aftershocks of the earthquake triggered in Washington last week, with the explosive leak of the first draft of an opinion authored by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and backed in by four other Justices, including the three radical conservatives appointed by former president Donald Trump, continue to shake the foundations of the capital and the landscape across the country

USSC Bruce Wolpe joins U.S correspondent Veronica Dudo, and ticker’s Holly Stearnes join a panel on U.S. abortion rights

The magnitude of the impact of the draft opinion is simply enormous. 

What has been accepted by well over 60% of the American people as a constitutional right – the ability of women to have access to abortion services – is about to be removed. 

There is no good that comes from going down that road of taking rights away from people. In 1856, in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court held that former slaves did not have standing in federal courts because they lacked U.S. citizenship, even after they were freed.

PROTESTORS IN U.S.

That decision, so outrageous, contributed to the Civil War.  In 1954, in Brown v Board of Education, the Court ruled that segregated “separate but equal” schools for Black students recognised by the Supreme Court 50 years earlier was unconstitutional as this did not afford equal protection under law – a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment enacted after President Lincoln and the North won the civil war and ended slavery. 

The arc of justice in other words, is best when the law advances rights – not takes them away.

33 million American women between the ages of 15 and 44 living in over two dozen states across the country will be denied access to abortion services if this draft opinion is ultimately adopted. 

But nothing in the Constitution prevents Congress from enacting a law to legally establish and protect a woman’s right to have access to abortion services. 

U.S WOMAN PROTESTS

This is the basis of the Women’s Health Protection Act which passed the House last September. 

The Democratic leadership of the House recognised that what everyone is facing this week was coming, and that the best protection against overturning the precedent of Roe v Wade is through legislation. 

The bill provides that, “Congress finds abortion services are essential to health care. A health care provider has a statutory right under this Act to provide abortion services.”

This is the bill that the Democratic leadership will bring to the Senate this week.  It will fail.

No Republicans in the House voted for this bill, which passed on a party-line vote of 218-211.  There are only two Republicans in the Senate– both women, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – who support abortion rights.

All but one or two of the 50 Democrats will support it. Bu the Senate is not a democratic institution.  A simple majority vote is insufficient to pass legislation. 

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 21: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

A bill needs a supermajority of 60 votes to pass the Senate.  That is completely out of reach today for abortion rights.

The Senate could change its rules and allow the abortion rights bill to pass in this one instance by a simple majority.  But that will not happen either.

At least two Democrats oppose upending this Senate tradition, and no Republican will vote against their leadership to alter the Senate to pass a Democratic bill on abortion.

This ugly hyper-partisanship will have several ramifications. 

If this Senate cannot protect these rights, perhaps more Democrats in the Senate can.   Democrats will use this vote to target Senate seats held by Republicans that are up in the November midterm elections in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin. 

This could well energise not only Democrats but also key swing independent voters who do support, in significant numbers, abortion rights.

But the human impact on women is frightening. 

The journalist who obtained the draft opinion in the leak from the Supreme Court, and broke the story, Josh Gerstein of Politico, said this last Friday:

“And if Justice Alito’s draft opinion that we reported and made public on Monday becomes the Supreme Court’s final word on this issue, you’d have really a situation of abortion haves and have-nots across the country, where you would have many states where abortion was relatively available and probably about 26 states where abortion is banned or very, very sharply restricted. You would then have women trying to get medication abortions in those states or possibly travel through what might develop as a kind of Underground Railroad to get them out of those states and into other states where they could get legal abortions. It would be a pretty dramatic change in the availability of abortion across the country.”

Gerstein is right. This is the world we are in. 

WOMEN ACROSS THE U.S RALLY IN PROTEST

160 years after the Civil War, another Underground Railroad – this time to take women away from states with restrictive medical laws. 

A Handmaid’s Tale come to life, as Canada pledges to open its borders to American women seeking reproductive health services.

Engraved on the pediment of the Supreme Court building in Washington are the words, “Equal Justice Under Law.”

The Supreme Court’s imminent decision and the failure of Congress to enact legislation to overturn it betrays a US political system failing to protect all women equally under law.

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