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(RPIThere was high drama last week when Rep. Devin Nunes announced at the White House that he had seen evidence that the communications of the Donald Trump campaign people, and perhaps even Trump himself, had been “incidentally collected” by the US government.

If true, this means that someone authorized the monitoring of Trump campaign communications using Section 702 of the FISA Act. Could it have been then-President Obama? We don’t know. Could it have been other political enemies looking for something to harm the Trump campaign or presidency? It is possible.

There is much we do not yet know about what happened and there is probably quite a bit we will never know. But we do know several very important things about the government spying on Americans.

First there is Section 702 itself. The provision was passed in 2008 as part of a package of amendments to the 1978 FISA bill. As with the PATRIOT Act, we were told that we had to give the government more power to spy on us so that it could catch terrorists. We had to give up some of our liberty for promises of more security, we were told. We were also told that the government would only spy on the bad guys, and that if we had nothing to hide we should have nothing to fear.

We found out five years later from Edward Snowden that the US government viewed Section 702 as a green light for the mass surveillance of Americans. Through programs he revealed, like PRISM, the NSA is able to collect and store our Internet search history, the content of our emails, what files we have shared, who we have chatted with electronically, and more.

That’s why people like NSA whistleblower William Binney said that we know the NSA was spying on Trump because it spies on all of us!

Ironically, FISA itself was passed after the Church Committee Hearings revealed the abuses, criminality, and violations of our privacy that the CIA and other intelligence agencies had been committing for years. FISA was supposed to rein in the intelligence community but, as is often the case in Washington, it did the opposite: it ended up giving the government even more power to spy on us.

So President Trump might have been “wiretapped” by Obama, as he claimed, but unfortunately he will not draw the right conclusions from the violation. He will not see runaway spying on Americans as a grotesque attack on American values. That is unfortunate, because this could have provided a great teaching moment for the president. Seeing how all of us are vulnerable to this kind of government abuse, President Trump could have changed his tune on the PATRIOT Act and all government attacks on our privacy. He could have stood up for liberty, which is really what makes America great.

Section 702 of the FISA Act was renewed in 2012, just before we learned from Snowden how it is abused. It is set to expire this December unless Congress extends it again. Knowing what we now know about this anti-American legislation we must work hard to prevent its renewal. They will try to scare us into supporting the provision, but the loss of our liberty is what should scare us the most!

By Ron Paul / Republished with permission / RPI / Report a typo

Source: Anti Media Feed

Rescue teams have begun the desperate search for survivors after an avalanche hit a group of high school students and teachers climbing in central Japan.

Up to eight people are feared dead and two were in a critical condition, according to officials. It was not immediately clear how many of the victims were pupils.

The avalanche happened near a ski slope in Nasu, 160km north of Tokyo, where 52 students and 11 teachers were climbing.

A fire department official explained that avalanches occur once or twice a year at this spot, but nothing on this scale.
Source: Live Leak

Amber Rudd, the UK Home Secretary, has accused internet-based communications company WhatsApp- which is owned by Facebook- of giving terror suspects a “place to hide”.

Rudd’s promise to “call time” on such operations comes after it was discovered the Westminster attacker’s final message was inaccessible due to WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption system.

The Home Secretary says she has confronted firms including Facebook and Google after London police said they have been unable to access Adrian Ajao’s final text message, or even decipher who he sent it to. Rudd described the situation as “completely unacceptable”.

Rudd attacked the tech companies who are accused of creating a safe space for terrorist operations, saying: “Where there are ongoing investigations with terrorists- these people (the companies) have families, have children as well, they should be on our side”.

WhatsApp defends its policy of encryption by arguing that protecting its one billion users’ privacy is one of the company’s “core beliefs”. A source within the company explained that with the encryption system currently in use, “WhatsApp does not have access to the content of messages. Only the sender and recipient can read the messages on their devices”.

But Rudd said this is not good enough. “We would do it all (access messages) through carefully thought-through legally covered arrangements but they cannot get away with saying ‘we are a different situation’. They are not”. Rudd did not go into detail of the “carefully thought-through” plans.

Europol director Rob Wainwright agreed with Rudd, saying: “something has to be done to make sure that we can apply a more consistent form of interception of communication” related to terror suspects.

WhatsApp have a somewhat chequered history with its encrypted messages and relationship with law enforcement.

The mobile messaging application was blocked by Brazilian authorities three times in 2016, after it failed to hand over information in connection with a criminal investigation.

One competitor of WhatsApp, Telegram, also encrypt their messages but have written their software to enable police and security services to access messages when needed for criminal investigations.

However, Apple chief executive Tim Cook has said it would be “wrong” for governments to demand tech companies build “a back door” into their products.
Source: Live Leak

Thousands of Australians have been fleeing their homes as a powerful storm heads towards the state of Queensland.

Cyclone Debbie is expected to be classed as a Category Four storm, just one rung below the highest grade.

Some 30,000 people have been told to evacuate low lying areas most at risk from tidal surges and winds of up to 300km per hour (185mph).

New track map for #CycloneDebbie issued at 6.01pm. Crossing between #Ayr & Cape Hillsborough Tue AM as Cat 4. BOM Queensland (@BOM_Qld) March 27, 2017

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “For those in the path of Cyclone Debbie, please take care and stay safe.

“If you have received an official evacuation order, you and your family must leave home immediately. Seek shelter with family or friends who are inland or on higher ground.

“If you decide to shelter at home, make sure you are prepared, have your emergency kit ready and listen to the radio for cyclone updates.

“Check on your neighbours and vulnerable friends and family and help them get to an evacuation centre.”

Please take care if you are in the path of TC Debbie in Nth Qld. Now is the time to start preparing. Stay safe + listen to local authorities- Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) March 26, 2017

Experts are warning Debbie will be the most powerful storm to hit the state since Cyclone Yasi destroyed homes, crops and holiday resorts in 2011.

Debbie is expected to gather strength before making landfall on Tuesday.

And here’s the loop to go with that last tweet! Sorry! BOM Queensland (@BOM_Qld) March 27, 2017
Source: Live Leak

Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has been fined 20,000 roubles and sentenced to 15 days in jail, for his role organising what authorities called an illegal protest in Moscow.

Navalny was detained yesterday as he took part in protests he says were legal.

Ahead of the verdict he tweeted from court:

“A time will come when we’ll put them on trial too – and that time it will be fair.”
Source: Live Leak

A general strike has been launched in French Guiana in protest over the very high rates of crime and unemployment.

A group called the The 500 Brothers is leading the strike, which is supported by 37 unions.

The 500 Brothers, who wear black t-shirts and masks over their faces, say they are not a private militia, and that they are standing up against organised crime.

#Guyane : qui sont les “500 fr`eres”, le collectif contre la criminalit’e ? L’Obs (@lobs) March 27, 2017

They also say they want more money from the government to improve the struggling health and educations systems.

Their spokesman Micka”el Manc’ee said: “If we wanted to be a private militia, we would be armed, we would not have gone to see the authorities, and if we had to act we would have acted in the shadows.”

A delegation of French government representatives have gone to the territory, but The 500 Brothers say they want to see the country’s most senior politicians.

A member, whose identity was hidden by his mask, said: “The Guyanese demand the immediate arrival of the Prime Minister, and the Ministers of the Interior, Justice, Economy, Health and Finance. Greet the minister for us and tell him to come.”

France’s Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has since said he will send a ministerial team to French Guiana by the end of the week.

Situation en Guyane Bernard Cazeneuve (@BCazeneuve) March 27, 2017

Last week huge areas of French Guiana were crippled by strikes, demonstrations and roadblocks.

The territory is home to the European Space Agency’s spaceport, where rockets are launched into space, but during the protest several drivers stopped the transfer of the Ariane 5 rocket forcing its launch to be postponed.

Due to evolution of the situation, Flight #VA236 is deferred. Launcher & payloads are in fully safe conditions. Arianespace (@Arianespace) March 23, 2017
Source: Live Leak

(MPN) One of the major tenets of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was his promise to bring about “complete American energy independence,” a promise that won him the unwavering support of the U.S. fossil fuel industry and several key endorsements. After his election, Trump appeared to remain committed to this pledge, vowing last November to block all oil imports from Saudi Arabia in order to secure domestic energy independence from “our foes and the oil cartels.”

But Saudi Arabia, as fate would have it, did not stay on Trump’s list of “foes” for very long. Trump’s first meeting last week with a member of the Saudi royal family – Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – marked a “historic turning point,” not only for Trump’s own policies regarding the Gulf monarchy, but for U.S.-Saudi relations as a whole, according to a statement issued by the Saudis after the meeting.

The statement, issued by the deputy crown prince’s senior adviser, added that U.S.-Saudi relations during the Obama era “had undergone a period of difference of opinion.”

It continued:

“However, today’s meeting has put things on the right track, and marked a significant shift in relations, across all political, military, security and economic fields. All of this is due to President Trump’s great understanding of the importance of relations between the two countries and his clear sight of problems in the region. […] After this historic meeting today, cooperation between the two countries will be in its upmost level.”

Considering the long-standing “special relationship” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, it’s hard to imagine how the two nations could align even more closely in their policies. But Saudi Arabia’s multiple foreign entanglements that are intended to extend its influence – along with the U.S.’ addiction to Saudi oil – offer Trump the opportunity to prove himself as “a true friend” of the Saudis “who will serve the [Wahhabi] Muslim World in an unimaginable manner.”

However, more seems to be happening behind the scenes. As political analyst Catherine Shakdam told MintPress: “on paper it very much appears as if the Trump administration has given in to Saudi Arabia’s lobbying activities and essentially decided to toe Riyadh’s line against Iran to preserve whatever financial ties exist in between the two allies.”

Yet, with the Saudis “unraveling at the seam,” Shakdam argues that “[Trump’s] stance depends on where the wind will blow next.” This raises the question: could this latest meeting be yet another attempt by Trump to keep foreign leaders – even long-time regional allies – on edge?

The Waning U.S.-Saudi “Special Relationship”

Though U.S. foreign policy consistently puts the country’s own interests above any guarantees based on “loyalty,” the long-standing “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. will not be an easy one to shake. Ever since the post-World War II era began, the Saudis and the U.S. have had a relationship where the U.S. offers the Saudis military and geopolitical “security” in exchange for the Saudi’s most valuable resource: its oil.

This relationship has dominated U.S. foreign policy interests in the Middle East for the better part of the last century, especially after the 1970s, when U.S.-Saudi relations went to the next level with the advent of the petrodollar system.

Despite the petrodollar system’s binding of Saudi (and OPEC) oil sales to the value of the U.S. dollar, events in recent years have shown that not even this powerful system has been enough to keep the U.S. “loyal” to Saudi interests as it had in the past. This manifested most noticeably during the Obama administration, culminating in the Iran nuclear deal – a pact harshly criticized by the Saudis, as well as Trum.

In addition, Obama further angered the Saudis by telling them to “share the neighborhood” with Iran, their greatest regional and economic rival. However, Obama kept relations civil, partly through his massive arms sales to the Saudi kingdom.

Though Trump has adopted rhetoric that the Saudis are eager to hear regarding Iran, his administration’s recent statements on the Iran nuclear deal suggest that he may also adopt a position similar to that of the Obama administration. Last Tuesday, Christopher Ford, the White House National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counter-proliferation, said the Trump administration will honor a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. This latest announcement stands in stark contrast to Trump’s prior statements on the Iran deal, as well as the Saudi’s belief after last week’s meeting that Trump and the Saudis share an alarmist view “on the gravity of the Iranian expansionist moves in the region.”

This latest about-face from the new presidential administration suggests that its previously aggressive stance on Iran may have been a form of posturing meant to please regional allies like Israel and the oil-rich Gulf monarchies. In an interview with MintPress, Shakdam alluded to this, stating that Trump’s change of heart could mean that “the Trump administration is buying itself some time before moving against Saudi Arabia and in favor of Iran.”

But Iran’s “flourishing regional influence” may make a restoration of relations with the Islamic Republic too attractive for Trump to pass up, especially considering that the current president is first and foremost a businessman. Over the last decade especially, Iran has developed a “resistance” economy in response to ongoing U.S. sanctions and other similar measures, a development that has paid off significantly, particularly in the diversification of the Iranian economy and the growth of its electricity exports and increasing economic cooperation with Eurasian nations, as well as geopolitical rivals like Turkey.

Iran’s economic ascendancy is becoming difficult to ignore. As Shakdam pointed out, “A rapprochement in between Iran and the U.S. makes perfect geopolitical sense…economically Iran’s market would offer a much-needed breathing space and guarantee growth. If we consider that the U.S. values capitalism above all else, then a change towards Iran makes perfect sense.”

Iran is increasingly becoming a more attractive potential ally in the region, despite decades of animosity in U.S.-Iranian relations, as Saudi Arabia continues to struggle economically due to its economic reliance on oil exports. While Saudi Arabia’s oil dominance has allowed it to wield great influence in the region for decades, declining oil prices in recent years have taken a drastic toll on the Saudi economy.

In the Saudi kingdom, economic growth is expected to slow to 0.9 percent in 2017, a significant drop from the 10-percent growth seen in 2011, when the price of crude oil was significantly higher. As a result of the slowdown, Saudi Arabia’s credit rating took a major hit on Wednesday when Fitch downgraded the nation due to its soaring fiscal deficit and declining balance sheet.

With the regional influence of the Saudis waning and Iran ascending as a regional power, can the U.S. afford to continue shunning Iran while the powerful and influential Saudi monarchy continues to wane?

War In Yemen Another Key Factor

Though the U.S.’ shifting positions regarding the long-time geopolitical rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is key to gauging Washington’s true intentions in the region, the Saudi conflict in Yemen is another important theater in assessing whether Trump will ultimately emerge as the “true friend” that the Saudis are now expecting.

Since March 2015, the Saudis have been waging a brutal war in Yemen that is bordering on genocide, all with the express intention of maintaining influence and control over the nation’s most strategic geographical feature – the Bab al-Mandab strait, critical to the region’s oil trade. In an effort to drive out resistance to foreign influence in Yemen – led by the Houthi religio-political movement – the Saudis have committed multiple war crimes, resulting in a massive humanitarian crisis that claims the lives of an estimated 1,000 children every week.

While the U.S. has remained silent about Saudi war crimes in Yemen and “assisted” the Saudi campaign with airstrikes and massive arms sales, the Obama administration tried its best to avoid adopting a major role in the conflict while also honoring the decades-old U.S.-Saudi arrangement of security-for-oil.

But under Trump, U.S. involvement in Yemen has already escalated. As Foreign Policy reported, Trump recently dropped more bombs on Yemen in one week than Obama did in an entire year. Not only that, but the now infamous Navy Seal raid in Yemen also happened on Trump’s watch, a raid that was badly botched and resulted in the loss of many civilian lives.

These increases seem to suggest that Trump is seeking to win the approval of the Saudis – at least on this front. However, several analysts have argued that Trump’s escalation of U.S. involvement in Yemen is unlikely to go any further than it already has. Gregory Gause, a professor of international affairs at Texas A&M University and a Saudi specialist, told Bloomberg that “I do not think that the Trump administration wants to get more deeply involved in Iraq, Syria or other places where the Saudis would want help in turning back Iranian influence.”

Shakdam shared Gause’s perspective, saying “President Trump may agree to a few airstrikes [in Yemen] so that he could score military brownie points with Riyadh, but I don’t expect any real commitment. A lot of [U.S. involvement in Yemen] is military posing.”

However, recent suggestions that Trump has little chance of achieving his domestic policy goals “in the absence of starting a new war” could alternatively mean that Trump may be seeking the support of the Saudi military in the event that such a war were to emerge from any one of the armed conflicts currently taking place in the Middle East. The U.S.’ involvement in Yemen, then, could just be another form of appeasement.

Appeasement As Protection – Saudis Could Still Crash The Dollar

Even if Trump and his administration are considering pivoting toward Iran out of economic interest, they will be forced to appease the Saudis regardless. While Saudi influence is diminishing as its national economy weakens, the oil-rich Gulf kingdom still has the ability to unleash economic armageddon upon the U.S. if it so chooses – all thanks to the petrodollar system.

The petrodollar system is dependent on the Saudis and other members of OPEC conducting their oil sale transactions in U.S. dollars, a system that creates artificial demand for the dollar and thus artificially increases the dollar’s value. As the continued existence of this system is dependent on Saudi cooperation, the U.S. cannot blatantly reject its alliance with Saudi Arabia without suffering major consequences. Over the years, the Saudi government has made this quite clear stating blatantly on several occasions that OPEC could crash the dollar if the oil-producing bloc chose to price oil in alternative currencies.

In fact, the Saudis have used the petrodollar system as a bargaining chip in the past, threatening economic warfare against the dollar when they have felt threatened by changes in U.S. policy. For instance, last year, Saudi Arabia threatened to liquidate its U.S. assets and crash the dollar if Congress were to pass a bill allowing the Saudis to be held responsible for their role in the terror attacks of September 11. Though the bill passed, the Saudi threat did not materialize due to an Obama-brokered billion-dollar arms sale to the Saudis – another example of appeasement in action.

The recent meeting between the Saudi deputy crown prince and Trump also shows more evidence of the U.S. bowing to Saudi interests. According to a White House statement issued after the meeting, Trump voiced his support for a new U.S.-Saudi program in which the U.S. will invest – both directly and indirectly – more than 200 billion dollars in the struggling Saudi economy over the next four years. Supporting such a massive investment plan is a clear method of appeasement, considering that Trump recently proposed “dramatic reductions” in foreign aid. Saudi Arabia will likely be excluded from these reductions – just as it was excluded from his temporary travel ban.

But despite Trump’s best efforts to remain predictable and play both sides in the rivalries that dominate Middle East politics, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. He will eventually be forced to choose between the economic interests of the U.S. and its long-standing alliances in the region.

By Whitney Webb / Republished with permission / MintPress News / Report a typo

Source: Anti Media Feed

(ANTIWARWhile Pentagon statements on them insisted everyone killed was an ISIS fighters, mounting evidence suggests US airstrikes against the city of Mosul have killed nearly 300 civilians, with attacks just last week burying over 150 people under the rubble of residential buildings in the city’s west.

The Pentagon is promising an investigation, but their track record of such inquiries does not favor them ever admitting culpability. Incredibly, however, they have admitted to the airstrikes that leveled those buildings full of civilians late last week, without admitting to the deaths of the civilians.

That narrative is going to be a difficult one to maintain this time, with reporters on the scene verifying civilians being pulled from the wreckage. The Pentagon is clearly already looking for a scapegoat too, reporting that the strikes on the buildings full of civilians came at the request of the Iraqi government.

Of course, as US officials have confirmed in the past, being asked to attack civilians isn’t an excuse for having done so, and while trying to shift the blame to the Iraqi government may be of some use in the near term, the calamitously large death toll in Mosul is something the Pentagon isn’t going to be able to readily brush aside.

Most Pentagon investigations end with them deciding the death toll is “not credible” and dropping the matter entirely. This is the reason that the official US civilian toll in Iraq and Syria during the current war is less than 10% of the toll reported by independent NGOs like Airwars.

So long as the individual incidents were small, the Pentagon was able to mostly sweep them under the rug. That’s going to be much harder to do with hundreds of people, many of them women and children, being killed in such a high-profile incident.

By Jason Ditz / Republished with permission / / Report a typo

Source: Anti Media Feed

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AUSTRALIA Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop has warned that North Korean ballistic missiles now have the capability of striking Australian shores.

“The assessment was that North Korea … was now at a point of advanced technology when it came to ballistic missiles that were capable of carrying a single nuclear warhead, that it was an increasing security risk not only to the Korean peninsula but also to our region, including Australia,” Bishop told The Australian, a major news outlet in the country.

The ‘she’ll be right, mate’ and ‘no worries’ attitude has been dampened by the minister’s announcement, who added that it is worrying that North Korea has been able to “advance” their capabilities to this point.

Reportedly, any missile fired from Pyongyang would need to travel a minimum of 7,000km to reach Australia’s northern state Queensland, potentially impacting tourist destination Cairns, not far from the Great Barrier Reef.

Although Cairns isn’t a strategic advantage, Sydney and Melbourne would be; requiring, however a range of at least 9,000km.

A map released by Business insider shows the ranges required and the ranges North Korea already has, to land a missile on another nation’s shore. At the current time, only South America, parts of Mexico, the east coast of the United States and western to southern Africa is out of range.

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Tactics wise, Australia is a prime target. It houses over 36 US (or Australian/US de facto) installation bases, such as the well-known Pine Gap. Others, notably Australian, including RAAF Darwin, have year-round agreements that the US can take over the bases at a moments notice for US purposes; for a “ready provision” to elevate them into US bases.

Currently, China has condemned South Korea for its US support, boycotting South Korean outlets in the nation, and Russia has asked the US anti-missile defense system THAAD not be installed, raising tensions in the region over national security. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that a military response is now “on the table” after the increased show of North Korean aggression in recent months.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has repeatedly threatened the United States that the country has the capacity to launch a missile against the US soon. Kim Jong-un has also repeatedly warned that the US joint military exercises held in South Korea are an act of aggression seen as a potential act of war targeting Pyongyang’s leadership.

At the time of writing, North Korea today threatened South Korean and American troops that an attack may now occur without any further warning, and although not definitive, the heavily sanctioned country has shown no signs of ceasing its missile program, and maintains that their missile programs is a means to protect North Korea from US hostility.

This article (North Korean Nukes Now Capable of Hitting Australian Cities) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author AnonWatcher and

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On February 7, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was reading a letter critical of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), then the nominee for attorney general, when the Senate’s top Republican forced her to stop. Invoking an obscure Senate rule against disparaging colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had Warren ejected from the Senate chamber. Minutes later, she appeared on MSNBC and #letlizspeak began trending on Twitter. Warren then read the full letter—which had been written by Coretta Scott King in 1986—on Facebook Live. By the next morning, the Facebook video had been viewed more than 5 million times.

McConnell, known as one of the savviest political operators in Washington, appeared to have made an uncharacteristic mistake. Rather than silence Warren’s message, he made it go viral. McConnell defended his decision that night by stating that he had warned Warren but “nevertheless, she persisted”—a phrase Warren’s supporters have now emblazoned on apparel, mugs, and their bodies as tattoos.

But there were some who theorized that McConnell was, as ever, two steps ahead. Reporters and pundits debated whether McConnell had intentionally elevated Warren’s public profile because he wants the Democratic Party to be defined by one of its most liberal members. Not long after, a report in Politico corroborated this theory: Republicans have decided to use Warren as a sort of boogeyman ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, when 10 Democratic senators are up for reelection in states Donald Trump won. By late February, the committee tasked with electing Republicans to the Senate launched digital ads attacking vulnerable Democrats by stating how often they had voted with Warren.

At a time of division within their party, Republicans believe the best strategy is to unite against a common foe. Without Barack Obama in the White House, they need someone else to run against in 2018. Warren, a household name and an unapologetic liberal, is an easy choice. Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist in Washington, DC, says going after Warren is part of the Republican playbook for 2020, as well. “Always define your opponent before your opponent can define you,” he says. And taking on Warren now, O’Connell suggests, will hurt her chances if she becomes her party’s presidential nominee in 2020.

A law professor who studied bankruptcy and debt, Warren arrived on the political scene in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. She pushed the federal government to set up an agency to protect ordinary Americans from unfair practices by Wall Street and other industries—an effort that led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In the Senate, she voted down Obama’s nominees whom she considered too cozy with Wall Street. She has championed issues like student loan reform and raising the minimum wage that Democrats believe will appeal to voters charmed by Trump, who has already endangered his populist reputation by filling his Cabinet with mega-rich Wall Street alumni.

What’s strange about Warren is that both parties seem to agree that she should be in the spotlight. Democrats say they welcome Republicans’ decision to elevate one of their most populist voices. Ultimately, they believe Republicans’ strategy will backfire because Warren’s reputation and message resonate across the country. “Elizabeth Warren was Bernie Sanders before Bernie Sanders,” says Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic strategist in Massachusetts. “When you look at her first race here [for the Senate in 2012], she tapped into much of the sort of populist economic anxiety that a lot of people had here in Massachusetts. That’s not going to go away.”

And if red-state Democrats are afraid of Warren’s progressive reputation, they don’t show it. Warren has visited Republican-leaning states on behalf of Democratic candidates, from Kentucky (where she helped McConnell’s challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, in 2014) to Ohio (where she campaigned for Hillary Clinton last year).

One of the best examples is her work on behalf of Jason Kander, who ran a surprisingly close race last year for the US Senate in Missouri against incumbent Republican Roy Blunt. In 2018, Missouri’s Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, is up for reelection, and the Warren-as-boogeyman strategy could be tested there. As early as 2015, Warren sent out emails on behalf of Kander. She held fundraisers and flew to Missouri for a last-minute rally. “Sen. Warren’s profile being raised is not a bad thing for the party at all,” says Abe Rakov, Kander’s campaign manager. “I think she’s a very, very good messenger for the party, and I think it showed in Missouri.”

Of course, Kander lost, as did Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky and Clinton in Ohio. But Warren consistently drew some of the biggest crowds, and Rakov says her presence was only a benefit to the campaign. “After she was here, we saw our volunteer numbers go up, we saw our fundraising go up,” he recalls. Over the course the election, he says, Kander’s campaign had built up “a lot of evidence that it was sort of a Republican myth that she would cause us problems.” (Her fundraising prowess was evident after McConnell kicked her off the Senate floor, when a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee email about the incident helped the group shatter previous fundraising records.)

But if Republicans are able to cast her as a typical liberal zealot rather than a populist messenger, their strategy of running against her makes sense. “She has been very polarizing along party lines, even in Massachusetts,” says Steve Koczela, a pollster in Boston. He agrees that Warren’s message probably resonates with some Trump voters on a policy level but says that is unlikely to endear her to them. “Logic doesn’t always apply when evaluating partisan actors these days,” he says. “It’s more, do people see you as with them or with the other team?”

Simply raising Warren’s profile may not be enough to turn white working-class voters—whose support in Rust Belt states was key to Trump’s electoral victory—against her and the Democratic Party. Roland “Butch” Taylor, a retired welder and pipefitter in northeast Ohio, supported Clinton in 2016, but many of his peers and fellow union members backed Trump. When asked about Warren, he immediately brought up the episode on the Senate floor. “When they gaveled her on the Senate floor, what did she do?” he said. “She didn’t go back in the back and pout. She went right to the cameras and started her own speech in front of American people.” Rather than show her as an out-of-touch liberal, Taylor said, the episode convinced him “that’s the kind of leader you need.” He thinks Clinton might have done better in the Ohio Rust Belt if Warren had been on the ticket with her. “She would make a great candidate for the party for 2020,” he said.

That’s exactly what Democrats are counting on—that Warren’s persona and message will appeal beyond the party’s progressive base and coastal and urban strongholds. But O’Connell says he isn’t worried about Warren’s populist message undercutting Republicans. Warren’s support for environmental regulations, he believes, provides a wedge issue Republicans can use to hold onto working-class white voters who supported Trump in November. “What you’re seeing here is a potential collision between environmentalists, which Warren loves, and big labor,” he says. Taylor, whose livelihood depended on the oil and gas industries in Ohio, would be a good target of that strategy. He even qualified his praise for Warren by stressing that her appeal is contingent on her support for energy-sector jobs.

Ultimately, Democrats and Republicans simply disagree on the extent and geography of Warren’s popularity. Democrats think she can attract support across the country and that her ability to fire up the base is an asset that Clinton lacked in 2016. Republicans believe her appeal is limited to her base. “The one thing I think that Republicans are betting on, should she actually become the Democratic presidential nominee,” O’Connell says, “is that she isn’t going to be able to come up with a message that is unifying for all 50 states.”

Source: Mother Jones