“The Trump administration on Monday sanctioned Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, ratcheting up pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro to cede power to the U.S.-backed opposition in the oil-rich nation in South America.” AP News
“More than 700 opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have been arrested during the latest push by Venezuela’s opposition to oust the socialist leader.” AP News
Last week, the US recognized Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s opposition leader, as the country’s interim President. The Flip Side
Both sides oppose Maduro, with many calling on the US to provide further non-military assistance to Guaido.
“Look at who supports whom. Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras back Guaidó. Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, China, Turkey, and Russia are for Maduro. Also Hezbollah. When Hezbollah is on your side, you’ve hit bottom.” National Review
“The choices in Venezuela shouldn’t be between inaction and intervention… Venezuela is a greater threat to the stability of Colombia and Brazil, two conservative governments allied with the United States, both with a stable economy and strong militaries. The United States should encourage them to balance Venezuela and depend on them to provide the ground troops, if ever there is an intervention, and provide its diplomatic muscle.” The Federalist
“Building an off-ramp for the Maduro regime will be difficult. But a combination of rising costs on Maduro’s inner circle through targeted sanctions and prosecutions, reassurance to the military’s rank and file that they will benefit from a transition to democracy and positive incentives of economic assistance by entities willing to negotiate with the new interim government (such as the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank) will make legitimate democratic change, in accordance with Venezuela’s constitution, more likely.” The Hill
Other opinions below.
The left is critical of Trump’s negotiating tactics, and argues that this deal will not solve the underlying problems with the immigration system.
The decision to recognize Guaido “was a well-oiled diplomatic campaign, closely coordinated with allies and rigorously on message. It was, in a word, un-Trumpian… Here was a president who preaches America First, who rarely invokes democracy and human rights in his unscripted remarks… sticking his neck out to restore democracy in a country that doesn’t usually figure among the top challenges to U.S. interests.”
“Does hypocrisy disqualify Trump’s policy? Or is there a principled basis for selective concern about Venezuela?...
“Though perhaps no more repressive than numerous others, the Venezuelan dictatorship is differentiated from, say, Saudi Arabia’s, in that it sits atop the ruins of what was once a multiparty democracy, which a large portion of its domestic population remembers and wants to renew… [Moreover] Guaidó’s transition plan, based on amnesty for military leaders and free elections, offers genuine hope for a peaceful solution… In this one instance, the Trump administration has chosen a worthy foreign policy goal.”
Regarding the sanctions, some worry that they might backfire. “Maduro needs a good scapegoat… If the economy tanks even further than it already has, the Venezuelan leader can blame the US sanctions and perhaps regain some favor among elites — particularly the military leadership — whose support he needs in order to remain in power.”
“If Democrats can ever achieve a consensus on housing policy, they can do as they wish at present, since the Donkey Party has supermajorities in both chambers in the legislature. But… suburbanites from both parties are wary of disturbing the status quo… the road to enactment of ‘upzoning’ legislation remains rocky and winding. If you’re homeless in California, or are struggling to afford a mortgage payment or rent, help is not quite yet on the way.”
Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine
“In 2016, a poll of voters in key battleground states found that 76 percent of voters agreed with the following statement: ‘However we feel about abortion, politicians should not be allowed to deny a woman’s health coverage for it just because she’s poor.’ Sixty-two percent agreedthat ‘when Medicaid covers pregnancy care but withholds coverage for abortion, we’re taking away a low-income woman’s ability to make important personal decisions based on what is best for her circumstances. ’ And a recent poll commissioned by a consortium of women’s health groups found that 9 in 10 women of color believe ‘that a woman being able to control if, when, and how to have children provides both individual and societal benefits.’ If Joe Biden wants to carry the banner of a party that claims to champion, protect and uphold the inalienable rights of black, brown and poor people, he must reverse his support of the Hyde Amendment and follow the lead of his fellow Democratic candidates.”
Danielle Campoamor, Washington Post
Critics of the candidate argue, “Want to defeat Trump? Attack Biden… Many progressives are understandably fearful that attacking the presumptive frontrunner might weaken him and give Trump ammunition for the general election. But challenging Biden’s record is important. For example, his core base of support – older Democrats – needs to know what an unreliable defender of Social Security and Medicare he is. By challenging him on his record, especially in the eyes of older, traditional Democratic voters, progressives could break the myth of Biden’s ‘electability’. (A strange trope given that Biden has tried and failed to be a presidential nominee since the 1980s.)… Anyone angling to be the Democratic nominee should espouse a real progressive agenda – just being ‘anti-Trump’ isn’t enough.”
Bhaskar Sunkara, The Guardian
“For Warren or anyone else to prevent the uniquely depressing experience of a Biden ‘national unity’ campaign, specifically targeted at a tiny cadre of wobbly Trump voters and Jeff Flake-style dissident Republicans, something has to change before next winter. Democratic voters and the media and basically everyone else must get over their skittish, fearful response to the Trump presidency, and their based-on-nothing certainty that nominating a progressive or a woman or a socialist or anybody who isn’t an avuncular white man with a vaguely reassuring demeanor and no discernible ideology will once again lead to disaster.”
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon
“Few Americans will likely be interested in what’s going on in this small country the size of New York state, and yet it offers major political lessons for our country...
“First, it demonstrates that both of our major political parties need to beware of gridlock and failure to solve the people’s problems... Second, it shows how our policy toward Latin America needs fundamental rethinking... And third, it underscores that socialism is not the way forward for us or for Latin America, especially when accompanied by the politics of self-perpetuating strongmen."
Many are criticizing the socialist left. “Americans deserve to know why four [Democratic Socialist] members of Congress have decided to stand with a cruel tyrant over U.S. interests. Not only are they undermining U.S. foreign policy and hurting the cause of Venezuelan democracy, their advocacy bolsters Putin’s regional objectives—all at the expense of a young, democratically-elected leader who, if he were an American, would be caucusing alongside them.”
Regarding the sanctions, it’s worth noting that “Maduro's power is almost entirely sustained by his oil sales. Without that revenue, Chavez's ludicrous successor will struggle to pay off senior military officers he relies upon for protection… This sanctions decision, then, represents a calibrated step towards increasing pressure on Maduro in a way that attempts to peacefully drive him out of power.”
Regarding his candidacy overall, “There’s a lot of conventional wisdom in Washington that the early front-runner always loses. And that’s true except when it isn’t… in 1999, George W. Bush dominated the polls and, except for a brief scare from Senator John McCain in the New Hampshire primary, essentially cruised to victory. A key part of Bush’s early success, not just in polls but in fundraising, stemmed from the fact that he was promising a Bush restoration…
“He was offering a referendum on the incumbent president and the scandals and partisanship that defined the end of his administration. He vowed to restore ‘honor and dignity to the Oval Office’ and to be a ‘uniter not a divider.’ The very different context notwithstanding, this is pretty much Biden’s campaign message. The ideological, activist, and Twitter-obsessed base of the Democratic party may not like Biden’s pitch. But it sure looks like rank-and-file Democrats do.”
Jonah Goldberg, National Review
“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review
A libertarian's take
“The relevant question is not the nationality of a source offering ‘oppo research’ but the accuracy and relevance of the information. Another consideration is whether the information was obtained illegally—by hacking emails, for example. While the Supreme Court has said people have a First Amendment right to share illegally obtained information if they were not involved in the lawbreaking (something that news organizations frequently do), you might reasonably argue that they should also report such crimes when they become aware of them, which may be what Trump had in mind when he said he might contact the FBI ‘if I thought there was something wrong.’”
Jacob Sullum, Reason
Canadians play an impromptu hockey game in the middle of the highway while stuck in traffic.