Donald Trump Has Put the Wind up World Trade Leaders

Officials in Geneva are running scared.

Faced with the prospect of a U.S. president who pledges to rip up trade agreements, slap tariffs on allies and pull out of the World Trade Organization, top trade officials are in various states of denial and dread.

Some world trade officials are trying to convince themselves that Trump doesn’t really mean what he says about trade agreements. Others are banking on “Congress, the courts or other impediments” stymying Trump in the event he wins the election and tries to deliver on his pledges to the American people.

“Policy has to be built on reality, and if you are elected, you cannot disregard reality — not even Trump,” said another official.

Yet another European wasn’t so sure about any of the above. He warned that “after Brexit, nothing can be ruled out.”

These are confounding times for global trade officials who have spent their careers promoting the gospel of open markets as the path to prosperity and peace, and who regard recent developments in the U.S. with “a mix of amazement and consternation,” as one official put it.

In the short term, many fear Trump’s election would mean the U.S. would step back from its leadership role in the WTO, which would undermine the group’s clout, whether negotiating new agreements, resolving disputes or enforcing participants’ adherence to existing pacts.

But more broadly, Trump’s slashing anti-trade rhetoric as well as Hillary Clinton’s opposition to the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership — following on the heels of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union — are such significant rebukes they are causing many officials to re-examine some of their most cherished assumptions.

“What is of concern is that those words are finding echo in the population,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, referring to the campaign rhetoric of both Trump and Clinton.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to that and assume that everything is OK once the campaign is over,” said Azevedo, a Brazilian who has led the global trading body since 2013. “That’s one problem that we have today: Those voices have been there for a while, and nobody ever took the time to really understand it and find a solution for that problem.”

Some can’t bear even the thought of a Trump presidency.

“I don’t want to even entertain the idea of Mr. Trump becoming president of the U.S.,” said another senior Geneva official when asked about the U.S. presidential campaign. “Because that would be a disaster.”

Is Speech and Thought Now More Free in Russia Than in the West?

Peter Hitchens writes:

As I strolled through the frozen winter streets of Moscow a few years ago, a worrying idea came to me. Were speech and thought now more free in Russia than in what we used to call the West? I rather think that they are.

Last week, Kevin Roberts resigned as executive chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi for publicly questioning ultra-feminist beliefs.

He is not the first. A similar wild frenzy of persecution burst around the head of the Nobel prize-winning scientist Sir Tim Hunt, shamefully driven from his position as an honorary professor at University College London.

It doesn’t matter whether you agree with these men’s opinions or not. Can it be right that they have been treated in this way for expressing them?

According to Hitchens, “the nasty totalitarian ideas that had once been trapped behind the Iron Curtain” have now become entrenched in “the once-free West.” You have to be careful of what you say and what you write, “especially if you [work] in the public sector.”

But it’s “worst of all at universities, where boot-faced commissars patrol the minds of the young, enforcing speech codes — and the wrong ideas can get you marked down in more ways than one.”

This simply isn’t so in Mr Putin’s Russia, now astonishingly the most conservative, patriotic and Christian country left in Europe.

Peter Hitchens Trembles at the Thought of Hillary in the White House

English journalist and author Peter Hitchens has a low opinion of Donald Trump. He believes Trump is “a balloon of noise and bluster which will one day burst in a terrible explosion of disappointment and regret.”

But then again, Hitchens also has a low opinion of Hillary Clinton, of whom he writes:

A clear victory for Hillary Clinton would create even greater problems. Educated, informed people here believe that there are serious doubts about her health. Even if they are wrong, her militant interventionist foreign policies are terrifying.

I lived through the Cold War and never believed we were in real danger. But I genuinely tremble at the thought of Mrs Clinton in the White House. She appears to have learned nothing from the failed interventions of the past 30 years, and scorns Barack Obama’s praiseworthy motto: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff.’

She will do stupid stuff, and drag us into it, you may rely upon it.

Hitchens continues:

I cannot quite work out how the good, sane impulse that gave birth to the USA could possibly have led us to this nightmare choice between two equally horrible outcomes.

I shall just have to carry on hoping that I am wrong.

Hostile Foreign Governments Will Use Obama’s Internet Surrender to Their Advantage

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is scathing in his criticism of Republicans for their apparent indifference over Obama’s impending surrender of American control over Internet registration set to happen at midnight tomorrow:

According to Bolton:

It’s only a short period of time before the whole thing is taken over by the U.N., or U.N. specialized agencies, 190 members. The Internet as we have known it is about to disappear, and I think that has national security implications. It certainly has implications for freedom of communication internationally.

I understand why Barack Obama wants to take it out of the control of the United States and give it to the rest of the world. That’s consistent with the way he’s handled foreign policy for the last eight years — and, by the way, consistent with the way Hillary Clinton will handle it. What stuns me is that there wasn’t more Republican opposition.

I cannot understand it. You know, here we are in a tight election campaign, where Hillary Clinton is in deep trouble among millennials, there’s no enthusiasm for her, they’re voting for third party candidates. Here’s a chance for the party as a whole to make deep inroads into a group that spends – you know, you give me the figure of the percentage of their time they spend on the Internet that’s about to slip out of American control.

This has been one government contract that’s been handled exactly right. The Commerce Department serves as an umbrella, it basically leaves ICANN alone, and now we’re going to give it to people in the international system whose objective is not to facilitate communication over the Internet, but to restrict it. And that’s what will happen.

Frank Sinatra’s 1963 Playboy Magazine interview  

In a 1963 Playboy interview, Ol’ Blue Eyes was asked whether he believed in God:

Playboy: All right, let’s start with the most basic question there is: Are you a religious man? Do you believe in God?

Sinatra: Well, that’ll do for openers. I think I can sum up my religious feelings in a couple of paragraphs. First: I believe in you and me. I’m like Albert Schweitzer and Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in that I have a respect for life — in any form. I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, in everything I can see or that there is real evidence for. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. But I don’t believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice. I’m not unmindful of man’s seeming need for faith; I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. But to me religion is a deeply personal thing in which man and God go it alone together, without the witch doctor in the middle. The witch doctor tries to convince us that we have to ask God for help, to spell out to him what we need, even to bribe him with prayer or cash on the line. Well, I believe that God knows what each of us wants and needs. It’s not necessary for us to make it to church on Sunday to reach Him. You can find Him anyplace. And if that sounds heretical, my source is pretty good: Matthew, Five to Seven, The Sermon on the Mount.

Playboy: You haven’t found any answers for yourself in organized religion?

Sinatra: There are things about organized religion which I resent. Christ is revered as the Prince of Peace, but more blood has been shed in His name than any other figure in history. You show me one step forward in the name of religion and I’ll show you a hundred retrogressions. Remember, they were men of God who destroyed the educational treasures at Alexandria, who perpetrated the Inquisition in Spain, who burned the witches at Salem. Over 25,000 organized religions flourish on this planet, but the followers of each think all the others are miserably misguided and probably evil as well. In India they worship white cows, monkeys and a dip in the Ganges. The Moslems accept slavery and prepare for Allah, who promises wine and revirginated women. And witch doctors aren’t just in Africa. If you look in the L.A. papers of a Sunday morning, you’ll see the local variety advertising their wares like suits with two pairs of pants.

Playboy: Hasn’t religious faith just as often served as a civilizing influence?

Sinatra: Remember that leering, cursing lynch mob in Little Rock reviling a meek, innocent little 12-year-old Negro girl as she tried to enroll in public school? Weren’t they — or most of them — devout churchgoers? I detest the two-faced who pretend liberality but are practiced bigots in their own mean little spheres. I didn’t tell my daughter whom to marry, but I’d have broken her back if she had had big eyes for a bigot. As I see it, man is a product of his conditioning, and the social forces which mold his morality and conduct — including racial prejudice — are influenced more by material things like food and economic necessities than by the fear and awe and bigotry generated by the high priests of commercialized superstition. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m for decency — period. I’m for anything and everything that bodes love and consideration for my fellow man. But when lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday — cash me out.

Playboy: But aren’t such spiritual hypocrites in a minority? Aren’t most Americans fairly consistent in their conduct within the precepts of religious doctrine?

Sinatra: I’ve got no quarrel with men of decency at any level. But I can’t believe that decency stems only from religion. And I can’t help wondering how many public figures make avowals of religious faith to maintain an aura of respectability. Our civilization, such as it is, was shaped by religion, and the men who aspire to public office anyplace in the free world must make obeisance to God or risk immediate opprobrium. Our press accurately reflects the religious nature of our society, but you’ll notice that it also carries the articles and advertisements of astrology and hokey Elmer Gantry revivalists. We in America pride ourselves on freedom of the press, but every day I see, and so do you, this kind of dishonesty and distortion not only in this area but in reporting — about guys like me, for instance, which is of minor importance except to me; but also in reporting world news. How can a free people make decisions without facts? If the press reports world news as they report about me, we’re in trouble.

Playboy: Are you saying that . . .

Sinatra: No, wait, let me finish. Have you thought of the chance I’m taking by speaking out this way? Can you imagine the deluge of crank letters, curses, threats and obscenities I’ll receive after these remarks gain general circulation? Worse, the boycott of my records, my films, maybe a picket line at my opening at the Sands. Why? Because I’ve dared to say that love and decency are not necessarily concomitants of religious fervor.

Playboy: If you think you’re stepping over the line, offending your public or perhaps risking economic suicide, shall we cut this off now, erase the tape and start over along more antiseptic lines?

Sinatra: No, let’s let it run. I’ve thought this way for years, ached to say these things. Whom have I harmed by what I’ve said? What moral defection have I suggested? No, I don’t want to chicken out now. Come on, pal, the clock’s running.

Playboy: All right, then, let’s move on to another delicate subject: disarmament. How do you feel about the necessity and possibility of achieving it?

Sinatra: Well, that’s like apple pie and mother — how can you be against it? After all, despite the universal and unanimous assumption that both powers — Russia and the United States — already have stockpiled more nuclear weaponry than is necessary to vaporize the entire planet, each power continues to build, improve and enlarge its terrifying arsenal. For the first time in history, man has developed the means with which to expunge all life in one shuddering instant. And, brother, no one gets a pass, no one hides from this one. But the question is not so much whether disarmament is desirable or even whether it can be achieved, but whether — if we were able to achieve it — we would be better off, or perhaps infinitely worse off.

Playboy: Are you suggesting that disarmament might be detrimental to peace?

Sinatra: Yes, in a certain very delicate sense. Look, I’m a realist, or at least I fancy myself one. Just as I believe that religion doesn’t always work, so do I feel that disarmament may be completely beyond man’s capacity to live with. Let’s forget for a moment the complex problems we might face in converting from a cold war to a peace economy. Let’s examine disarmament in terms of man’s political, social and philosophical conditioning. Let’s say that somehow the UN is able to achieve a disarmament program acceptable to all nations. Let’s imagine, a few years from now, total global disarmament. But imagine as well the gnawing doubts, suspicions and nerve-wracking tensions which must, inevitably, begin to fill the void: the fear that the other side — or perhaps some third power — is secretly arming or still holding a few bombs with which to surprise and overcome the other. But I firmly believe that nuclear war is absolutely impossible. I don’t think anyone in the world wants a nuclear war — not even the Russians. They and we and the nth countries — as nuclear strategists refer to future nuclear powers — face the incontrovertible certainty of lethal retaliation for any nuclear strike. I can ‘t believe for a moment that the idiot exists in any nation that will push the first button — not even accidentally.

Playboy: You foresee no possibility of world war or of effective disarmament?

Sinatra: I’m not an industrialist or an economist; I know I’m way out of my depth when I attempt even to comprehend the complexity of shifting the production of a country from war to peace. But if somehow all those involved in production of implements of destruction were willing to accept reason as well as reasonable profit, I think that a shift in psychology might be possible. And if this were to happen, I believe that the deep-seated terror in the hearts of most people due to the constant threat of total destruction would disappear. The result would be a more positive, less greedy, less selfish and more loving approach to survival. I can tell you this much from personal experience and observation: Hate solves no problems. It only creates them. But listen, you’ve been asking me a lot of questions, so let me ask you a question I posed to Mike Romanoff the other night. You know, Mike is quite a serious thinker; when we spend an evening together, we play an intellectual chess game touching on all topics, including those we are discussing here. Anyway, I asked Mike what would happen if a summit meeting of all the leaders in every country in the world was called, including Red China, at the UN. Further suppose that each leader brings with him his top aides: Kennedy brings Rusk, Khrushchev brings Gromyko, Mao brings Chou. All these cats are together in one room, then — boom! Somebody blows up the mother building. No more leaders. No more deputies. The question I asked Mike, and the one I ask you, is: What would happen to the world?

Playboy: You tell us.

Sinatra: I told Mike I thought it might be the only chance the world has for survival. But Mike just shook his head and said, “Frank, you’re very sick.” Maybe so. Until someone lights the fuse, however, I think that continuation of cold war preparedness might be more effective to maintain the peace than the dewy-eyed notion of total disarmament. I also wonder if “total” disarmament includes chemical and bacteriological weapons — which, as you know, can be ju st as lethal as nuclear weapons. Card players have a saying: “It’s all right to play if you keep your eyes on the deck” — which is another way of saying, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Playboy: Do you feel, then, that nuclear testing should be continued?

Sinatra: Absolutely not. I think it’s got to stop, and I think it will stop — because it has to stop. The name-calling in the UN and the finger-pointing at peace conferences is just a lot of diplomatic bull. Both sides have to live on this planet, and leaders in all countries know that their children and grandchildren have to live here, too. I suspect that when the limits of strontium 90 in the atmosphere get really dangerous, scientists in both camps will persuade the politicians to call a final halt to testing — probably at precisely the same time, with no urging from the other side.

Playboy: You spoke a moment ago of the fear and suspicion that might nullify any plan for lasting and effective disarmament. Isn’t continuing nuclear preparedness — with or without further testing — likely to engender these emotions on an even more dangerous scale?

Sinatra: Fear is the enemy of logic. There is no more debilitating, crushing, self-defeating, sickening thing in the world — to an individual or to a nation. If we continue to fear the Russians, and if they continue to fear us, then we’re both in big trouble. Neither side will be able to make logical, reasoned decisions. I think, however, that their fear and concern over the ideological balance of power in some areas is far from irrational. Our concern over a Sovietized Cuba 90 miles from Key West, for instance, must be equated with Russian concern over our missile bases surrounding them. It is proper that we should be deeply concerned, but we must be able to see their side of the coin — and not let this concern turn into fear on either side.

Playboy: On a practical level, how would you combat Communist expansion into areas such as Cuba, Laos and the emerging African nations?

Sinatra: It strikes me as being so ridiculously simple: Stop worrying about communism; just get rid of the conditions that nurture it. Sidestepping Marxian philosophy and dialectical vagaries, I think that communism can fester only wherever and whenever it is encouraged to breed — not just by the Communists themselves, but by depressed social and economic conditions: and we can always count on the Communists to exploit those conditions. Poverty is probably the greatest asset the Communists have. Wherever it exists, anyplace in the world, you have a potential Communist breeding ground. It figures that if a man is frustrated in a material sense, his family hungry, he suffers, he broods and he becomes susceptible to the blandishments of any ideology that promises to take him off the hook.

Playboy: Do you share with the American Right Wing an equal concern about the susceptibility of our own country to Communist designs?

Sinatra: Well, if you’re talking about that poor, beaten, dehumanized, discriminated-against guy in some blighted Tobacco Road down in the South, he’s certainly in the market for offers of self-improvement. But you can’t make me believe that a machinist in Detroit, ending a 40-hour week, climbing into his ’63 Chevy, driving to a steak barbecue behind his $25,000 home in a tree-lined subdivision, about to begin a weekend with his well-fed, well-clothed family, is going to trade what he’s got for a Party card. In America — except for tiny pockets of privation which still persist — Khrushchev has as much chance of succeeding as he has of making 100 straight passes at the crap table.

Playboy: In combating Communist expansion into underdeveloped areas here and abroad, what can we do except to offer massive material aid and guidance of the kind we’ve been providing since the end of World War II?

Sinatra: I don’t know. I’m no economist. I don’t pretend to have much background in political science. But this much I know: Attending rallies sponsored by 110-percent anti-Communist cultists or donning white sheets and riding with the Klan — the one that’s spelled with a “K” — isn’t the answer. All I know is that a nation with our standard of living, with our Social Security system, TVA, farm parity, health plans and unemployment insurance can afford to address itself to the cancers of starvation, substandard housing, educational voids and second-class citizenship that still exist in many backsliding areas of our own country. When we’ve cleaned up these blemishes, then we can go out with a clean conscience to see where else in the world we can help. Hunger is inexcusable in a world where grain rots in silos and butter turns rancid while being held for favorable commodity indices.

Playboy: Is American support of the UN one of the ways in which we can uplift global economic conditions?

Sinatra: It seems to me that a lot of us consider the UN a private club — ours, of course — with gentlemen’s agreements just like any other exclusive club. Only instead of excluding a person, a race or a religion, the members of the UN have the power to exclude entire nations. I don’t happen to think you can kick 800,000,000 Chinese under the rug and simply pretend that they don’t exist. Because they do. If the UN is to be truly representative, then it must accept all the nations of the world. If it doesn’t represent the united nations of the world, then what the hell have you got? Not democracy — and certainly not world government. Everybody seems to have forgotten that President Kennedy, before he became President, in his book, Strategy of Peace, plainly advocated recognition of Red China. So I’m not too far out on the limb, am I?

Playboy: With or without mainland China in the UN, what do you feel are the prospects for an eventual American rapprochement with Russia?

Sinatra: I’m a singer, not a prophet or a diplomat. Ask the experts or read the Rockefeller brothers’ reports. But speaking just as a layman, an ordinary guy who thinks and worries, I think that if we can stay out of war for the next 10 years, we’ll never have another war. From all I’ve read and seen recently, I’m betting that within the next decade the Russians will be on the credit- card kick just as we are. They’re going to want color TV, their wives are going to want electrified kitchens, their kids are going to want hot rods. Even Russian girls are getting hip; I’ve seen photos of them at Russian beach resorts, and it looks just like the Riviera. They’re thinning down, and I see they’re going the bikini route. When GUM department store in Moscow starts selling bikinis, we’ve got a fighting chance, because that means the girls are interested in being girls and the boys are going to stop thinking about communes and begin thinking connubially. I’ve always had a theory that whenever guys and gals start swinging, they begin to lose interest in conquering the world. They just want a comfortable pad and stereo and wheels, and their thoughts turn to the good things of life — not to war. They loosen up, they live and they’re more apt to let live. Dig?

Playboy: We dig.

Sinatra: You know, I’d love to visit Russia, and sometime later, China, too. I figure the more I know about them and the more they know about me, the better chance we have of living in the same world in peace. I don’t intend to go there with a mission, to sell the American way of life: I’m not equipped to get into that kind of discussion about government. But I’d love to go and show them American music. I’d take Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald with me and we’d do what we do best. We’d wail up a storm with real American jazz so that their kids could see what kind of music our kids go for, because I’m sure that kids are the same all over the world. I’m betting that they’d dig us. And that’s got to create some kind of good will, and man, a little good will is something we could use right now. All it takes is good will and a smile to breach that language barrier. When the Moiseyev Dancers were in Los Angeles. Eddie and Liz Fisher gave a party for them, and although I couldn’t speak a word of Russian, I got along fine. I just said, “Hello, baby” to the dancers and they shouted, “Allo, babee” back at me. We had a ball.

Playboy: Frank, you’ve expressed some negative views on human nature in the course of this conversation. Yet one gets the impression that — despite the bigotry, hypocrisy, stupidity, cruelty and fear you’ve talked about — you feel there are still some grounds for hope about the destiny of homo sapiens. Is that right?

Sinatra: Absolutely. I’m never cynical, never without optimism about the future. The history of mankind proves that at some point the people have their innings, and I think we’re about to come up to bat now. I think we can make it if we live and let live. And love one another — I mean really love. If you don’t know the guy on the other side of the world, love him anyway because he’s just like you. He has the same dreams, the same hopes and fears. It’s one world, pal. We’re all neighbors. But didn’t somebody once go up onto a mountain long ago and say the same thing to the world?

Hillary Couldn’t Be Prosecuted Without Implicating President Obama As Well

It seems the inexplicable has finally become explicable. Hillary and everyone else complicit in her email scandal had — if the report is correct — the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card:

How is this not classified?”

So exclaimed Hillary Clinton’s close aide and confidante, Huma Abedin. The FBI had just shown her an old e-mail exchange, over Clinton’s private account, between the then-secretary of state and a second person, whose name Abedin did not recognize. The FBI then did what the FBI is never supposed to do: The agents informed their interviewee (Abedin) of the identity of the second person. It was the president of the United States, Barack Obama, using a pseudonym to conduct communications over a non-secure e-mail system — something anyone with a high-level security clearance, such as Huma Abedin, would instantly realize was a major breach.

Abedin was sufficiently stunned that, for just a moment, the bottomless capacity of Clinton insiders to keep cool in a scandal was overcome. “How is this not classified?” She recovered quickly enough, though. The FBI records that the next thing Abedin did, after “express[ing] her amazement at the president’s use of a pseudonym,” was to “ask if she could have a copy of the email.”

Abedin knew an insurance policy when she saw one. If Obama himself had been e-mailing over a non-government, non-secure system, then everyone else who had been doing it had a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Suspicions were aroused “when it emerged that the White House was refusing to disclose at least 22 communications Obama had exchanged with then-secretary Clinton over the latter’s private e-mail account. It then become obvious “that Obama had knowingly engaged in the same misconduct that was the focus of the Clinton probe: the reckless mishandling of classified information.”

To be sure, he did so on a smaller scale. Clinton’s recklessness was systematic: She intentionally set up a non-secure, non-government communications framework, making it inevitable that classified information would be mishandled, and that federal record-keeping laws would be flouted. Obama’s recklessness, at least as far as we know, was confined to communications with Clinton — although the revelation that the man presiding over the “most transparent administration in history” set up a pseudonym to conceal his communications obviously suggests that his recklessness may have been more widespread.

The thing is that “the difference in scale is not a difference in kind. In terms of the federal laws that criminalize mishandling of classified information, Obama not only engaged in the same type of misconduct Clinton did; he engaged in it with Clinton.”

Post Debate Surge: Donald Trump Fills Massive Hangar for Florida Rally, Thousands Turned Away

In his first public appearance after the Presidential debate at Hofstra University on Monday, Donald Trump was welcomed by tens of thousands of enthusiastic supporters to a Florida airplane hanger.

Thousands more were unable to get inside after the fire marshall blocked further entrance as a safety hazard.