In the spirit of fostering transatlantic dialogue, next week I will travel to Germany to represent the Pacific Council on International Policy during the German Federal Foreign Office’s "Think Transatlantic" Study Tour, an informational visit for young writers and researchers of U.S. think tanks.

I will visit Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Berlin to meet with officials from the Federal Chancellery, the Bundestag (Parliament), the Federal Ministry of Defense, the European Central Bank, the Bundesbank (German Federal Bank), the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, the Die Zeit newspaper, the German Council on Foreign Relations, the Körber Foundation, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, the Hertie School of Governance, and more.

In a letter to president and CEO Dr. Jerrold D. Green inviting the Pacific Council to participate in the study tour, German Ambassador to the United States Peter Wittig wrote, "In times of myriad crises and shifting global influence, we should deepen our alliance across the Atlantic and ensure its continuity. For this, we need the next generation of government and public policy leaders. To help build that next generation of transatlanticists, the German Embassy over the past years has invited young, promising experts from a select number of think tanks and other institutions to gain firsthand experience in Germany on foreign, political, business, security, media, and economic policy issues."

Stay tuned to the Pacific Council’s Newsroom, Twitter, and Facebook during the first two weeks of December 2016 for dispatches from Germany as I engage in a dialogue with high-ranking German decision-makers and government leaders, the scientific community, and members of the media and private sector. Also stay tuned to my personal travel blog, Junket Journal, for posts on my trip to Germany and Geneva, Switzerland.

'Come together'

Bernie Sanders talks about resisting Trump’s policies, reforming the Democratic Party and his new book at the Alex Theatre

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 12/1/2016

“Rethink your role in the political process,” Bernie Sanders told a packed house Tuesday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. “It’s great that you vote every two or four years, but we need more than that to be effective. We need to mobilize millions of people to get engaged in the political process and join this fight to move a progressive agenda forward.”

The Independent senator from Vermont and former Democratic presidential candidate first addressed the crowd solo at a podium on stage and then was interviewed by comedian Sarah Silverman to promote his new book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In. Sanders’ wife Jane was in attendance and received a standing ovation.

“It’s important for everyone to remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 million votes,” said Sanders. “In his delusional manner, Mr. Trump has not recognized that, but nonetheless it is a fact. And what that means is Mr. Trump does not have a mandate.”

When Silverman came out on stage, a few audience members loudly booed. During the primaries, Silverman was a staunch supporter of Sanders, but after Hillary Clinton won the nomination, Silverman threw her support behind Clinton, much to the dismay of die-hard Sanders supporters. During the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia in July, Silverman told Sanders supporters who were protesting that they were “being ridiculous.” When she came on stage at the Alex on Tuesday, one audience member who booed also shouted, “You’re ridiculous, Sarah!” She didn’t respond, and Sanders thanked her for supporting his campaign before they moved on to the interview.

“The first question I should ask you, something that’s been on everyone’s minds since the election, which is, ‘What the fuck?’” Silverman said.

“Is that the entire question?” Sanders laughed. “As we try to figure out how best to deal with President Trump — and I am as reluctant as you are to say that phrase — people must not think members of Congress can do this alone. We need a mass movement of millions of people who are engaged in the political process.”

He added that people won’t agree on every issue, but there is one area progressives cannot compromise on: bigotry.

“In many ways bigotry was the cornerstone of Trump’s campaign,” Sanders said. “But when we look back at the history of this country, as the result of the millions of people who struggled against discrimination over 200 years, we have come a long way and made real progress. So our message to Mr. Trump is, ‘We are not going back.’”

However, he added that those who think all of Trump’s supporters are racists, sexists and homophobes are mistaken.

“Some of them certainly are, but I don’t think the vast majority of them are,” he said. “We live in a very silo-ized world, meaning we end up only associating with people who think like us. What Trump did was very clever. He, of all people, said, ‘I hear your pain, and I will take on the political, economic, and media establishment.’ What he tapped into in many parts of this country is a pain and level of despair which you never see on television, but is very real. People don’t feel like they have a sense of purpose.”

Another reason Trump won the election, Sanders added, is because of the weakness of the Democratic Party. If the Democratic Party had done nothing else but raise the minimum wage to a living wage during their eight years in power, he said, they would have reached those who voted for Trump.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Minority Leader, recently appointed Sanders to be part of the Senate Democrats’ leadership team. Sanders will handle outreach to key party constituencies.

“And I assure you, I will do outreach,” he said. “What we are going to try to do is completely restructure and reform the Democratic Party and make it into a grassroots party which welcomes working people and young people and people who are prepared to demand that we have a government and an economy that works for all of us and not just the one percent.”

Sanders mentioned that he got in trouble two weeks ago for saying, “It is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’” In making the argument against identity politics for the sake of identity politics, many interpreted Sanders’ comments as criticism of Clinton’s campaign.

“Let me repeat it,” he told the Glendale crowd on Tuesday. “It is not good enough to support a candidate just because they are black or gay or a woman. They have to have the courage to stand up to big money interests. We need a party that has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, the drug companies, the insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry and all of the powers that be. This country in many respects is moving toward an oligarchic form of society. A handful of billionaires control our economic and political life. If you’re not willing to engage in that struggle, well then I don’t think you’re doing serious politics.”

Fortunately, Sanders said, the American people are on the side of a progressive agenda.

“Whether it’s raising the minimum wage to a living wage, ensuring pay equity for women, putting millions of people to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, demanding that Donald Trump and his billionaire friends start paying their fair share of taxes, making public colleges tuition-free and addressing the planetary crisis of climate change, there is overwhelming support for these ideas,” he said.

In order to make those ideas a reality, though, more people will need to get involved in the political process and vote.

“Just the other day — it’s hard to keep up with Trump’s tweets — he claimed millions of people voted illegally,” Sanders said. “That is total and absolute nonsense. When he said that, what he was really doing was sending a message to Republican leaders all over the country that they have got to increase their efforts toward voter suppression. That’s what that message was about. Republicans don’t want people to vote. We need to make voting as easy as possible. We want the highest voter turnout in the world, not the lowest.”

The event was sponsored by Vroman’s Bookstore and was originally slated to take place at All Saints Church in Pasadena, but was moved to the Alex due to overwhelming popular demand.

Sanders’ book has two parts: one is about his presidential campaign and the other is an outline for a progressive economic, environmental, racial and social justice agenda. Considered a fringe candidate in the beginning with no money, political organization, or name recognition, Sanders took on the Democratic establishment, received more than 13 million votes and won 22 states during the primaries.

“I left the campaign with a sense of optimism,” he said. “I know these are tough times, but there are extraordinary people across this country. I don’t have all the answers. Nobody I know does. We’re going to have to come together on this. If we put our minds to it, if we do not allow demagogues to divide us up by race or sexual orientation or whatever, if we stand together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”

Fight the power

Battle lines are drawn in the struggle against Trump’s divisive policy plans

By Mercedes Blackehart and Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 12/1/2016

Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Los Angeles and a dozen other major US cities for several days following the surprise election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States, even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2 million votes.

Incensed by Trump’s rhetoric about banning Muslims, building a wall along the border with Mexico to keep out the “rapists and drug dealers,” and grabbing women’s genitals and kissing them without consent, people of all ages and walks of life — including families with small children in strollers — expressed their outrage at the next president’s proposed policies.

Making it clear what he thinks of the First Amendment, and repeating a claim that has since been debunked, on Nov. 10 Trump tweeted, “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”

This photo essay was taken during the Nov. 12 protest in downtown Los Angeles. The rally began with speeches at MacArthur Park, then marched east through the streets of downtown Los Angeles to the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building. Following more political speeches at the federal building, throngs of protesters marched off in different directions, with most heading back to MacArthur Park.

The LAPD said there were 8,000 protesters, but there were clearly tens of thousands more people in the streets than that. Countless officers blocked the entrances to the Harbor (110) and Hollywood (101) freeways after protesters in previous days shut down freeways across the country.

Despite media rhetoric about these being violent riots, this protest was entirely peaceful, with several protesters seen shaking hands with police officers and thanking them for their service. In return, some officers threw up peace signs to the passing crowd. Cars stuck in traffic because of the protest honked their horns in solidarity with the protesters.

One man attempted to argue with a group of young female protesters about the purpose of the protest. “None of us dispute the election result,” one protester responded. “That’s not the point. It’s about showing our resistance to this man and what he stands for.”

These were some of the chants heard during the demonstration:

“No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA!” a chant later used by Green Day during the American Music Awards on Nov. 20.

“My body, my choice!” female protesters yelled, followed by male protesters yelling, “Her body, her choice!”

“When immigrants are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back! When Muslims are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back! When women are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

And of course, the signature chant was “Not my president!” a refrain seldom heard in Los Angeles since the George W. Bush era.

Back at MacArthur Park, protesters filled the intersection at West Sixth and South Alvarado streets for hours. Dozens of police officers in riot gear lined up in the middle of the street, awaiting orders to disperse the crowd. After several tense moments on the cusp of potential violence, police decided to stand down and drove their vehicles away from the protest.