Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Grading the GOP Town Hall Forum

1. Ted Cruz -- B

His rather stoic defense of his wife and strong women in general -- in response to Trump's insults -- underlies an appeal that resonates with the truly average or common American...and that breeds a fundamental appeal that is going to enable him to keep wrestling away delegates from Trump over the course of the next few months and make him the winner in Wisconsin next week.

As much as his fellow Senators may not tend to 'like' him, he is going to pick up alot of steam -- especially with S.C. Senator Lindsey Graham behind him now.

How does he play out in the course of the nomination process?

Senator Cruz will get the short end of the stick -- a V.P. nod is unlikely (you cannot have two white males in creating the GOP Ticket), no Cabinet Post, and it is for certain he would lose in a General Election matchup vs. Hillary.

2. Donald Trump-- D

He only passes tonight's forum because he is an ass who you have to admire for not firing his campaign manager.

Loyalty and compassion coming out of the mouth of Donald Trump is as surprising as it is rare.

The "Excuse Me" interruption every time Andersen Cooper dared to speak -- let alone question him -- is a tell-tale sign of the man who lacks any substance except his own shameless self-promotion of selling campaign insignia in the guise of a businessman who only wants to profit off the ignorance and intolerance of misguided supporters.

The media will no longer coddle this unexplained phenomenon -- which they ironically created and cannot find a reason to explain how much they screwed up.

The Far-Left and Far-Right will likely work hand-in-hand over the next few months (and only in the next months) to tear away at his image of invincibility.

But Trump has brought about his own demise by waging war on the opposite sex.

3. John Kasich -- A-

The Governor was in fine form -- he spoke from the heart, and dared to cross the partisan gridlock which is the only way for a Republican Candidate to stop Hillary Clinton.  God forbid you work with "the other side" to get things done as an elected representative of all the people.

He will likely be forced out -- i.e. suspend his campaign --  by the GOP Establishment in the ensuing weeks as they plot to remove Trump from the ticket, when he is the one they should be backing.

With complete sincerity, what the hell is the GOP thinking by not rallying behind Governor John Kasich?

Watching Governor Kasich work the audience really brings the John McCain of 2000 to mind...not the true maverick, but he is atleast willing to wear his badge of bi-partisanship on his sleeve and be proud of it, as he should be. Governor Kasich and Paul Ryan are the only two options the GOP has to beat Hillary

Trump has managed to merchandise the Presidency

Trump continues to build on the same isolationist doctrine that Cruz harbors -- this MAY VERY WELL BE THE EXPLANATION OR EVOLUTION OF THE GOP THAT EXPLAINS HOW IN THE HELL TRUMP IS THE LEADING CANDIDATE

The dual nature of Trump using the situation with his campaign manager to ironically say they are avoiding the issues of substance -- which is what he entirely wants to avoid because of his broad strokes and evasive language -- is the definitive guide to his presidential bid

It begins -- Trump...Why do people love him? He just said it...because of 'loyalty' and not giving in to public sentiment and caving under pressure because its politically expedient to toss youre campaign manager under the bus and move on -- kinda like Hillary and stand by youre man...

Cruz is sincere, you have to give it to him...I see how he has been able to stay in this race because of his ability to personally relate to voters

Cruz has a veiled or hidden Rand Paul/Libertarian view on Domestic spying and civil liberties

Cruz's greatest strength is his ability to be cool under pressure in his response to Trump's low-ball tactics and insults..

What is missing from Cruz is his lack of what Chris Christie used to always rail home in his arguments -- every response was 'to stop Hillary Clinton' at the end..there is more than just Donald Trump to focus on, and his scope of argumentation is tailored only toward the Hard Right of the GOP and appeasing them

Cruz is absolutely correct about working with the Kurds above all else -- they have been in the trenches fighting ISIS while the whole world has sat idly by twiddling their thumbs

Unfortunately, none of the candidates on the GOP side have a clue about Foreign Policy

Cruz's isolationist policy on Libya truly shows the death of the Neocons in this GOP election cycle

Cruz is duplicitous in his notion of 'wearing his religion on his sleeve' and then reverting to the Constitution

Cruz tipping his hat to Bloomberg raises an interesting question in regards to De Blasio and enforcing discriminatory laws in regard to Muslims -- Bloomberg is still in play at the convention possibly?

Cruz ignoring and belittling Kasich as if he does not matter is rather foolish

Don't like the structure of 'Andersen Cooper's' Town Hall -- There is little substance without the traditional platform of a real debate

Blogging the GOP Town Hall...

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Sunedison is tricky to price, but I think SUNE is an early Intraday Buy @ $.735; +/- .03

Let’s Not Pay College Athletes

Yes, major sports at big-time colleges bring in lots of money. And the players are cosseted like royalty.

By Howard P. Chudacoff
The Wall Street Journal
March 29, 2016

Whenever March Madness rolls around, evidence of the obvious riches involved in the spectacle of the men’s NCAA Division I basketball tournament—the lavish television coverage, the advertising and the big crowds—prompt cries that college athletes ought to be paid. The NCAA, coaches, schools and the TV networks all benefit handsomely from big-time college sports, say the critics, but the players who make it all possible are stiffed. A recent book called the players “indentured.”

I say not so fast. These athletes are already treated like campus royalty, enjoying far more perks, and richer ones, than their classmates could dream of.

For a start, take an online tour of the John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes at the University of Oregon. Inside this edifice of sparkling glass and stainless steel are 40,000 square feet of spaces to facilitate college education. These include an auditorium with 114 leather seats, 35 tutor rooms, 25 academic and life-skills advising offices, a conference room, a computer lab, a graphics lab, library, study carrels, lounge with a wide flat-screen TV and plush sofas, full kitchenette and cafe, all outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment.

Though some university administrators tout the building as the Taj Mahal of academic centers, students have nicknamed it the jock box, because virtually all of its rooms, technology and staff are the exclusive reserve of varsity athletes. These privileged few—about 2.5% of the undergraduate population—can enjoy more than their own private academic rooms. The center furnishes each student athlete with a laptop encased, like the auditorium seats, in Maserati leather.

The main floor sports a screen resembling an airport’s flight-information board that informs individual athletes when and where their private tutoring appointments—1,700 a week—are scheduled. As if to punctuate the exclusiveness, the building, constructed with $41.7 million bestowed by Phil Knight, a University of Oregon alumnus and the founder and chairman of Nike, is surrounded by a moat.

The Jaqua Center may be extreme in extravagance but it is representative of similar centers at elite sports schools—check out Paul W. Bryant Hall at the University of Alabama; the Stephen M. Ross Academic Center at the University of Michigan; or the Dick and Peg Herman Family Student Life Complex at the University of Nebraska. They demonstrate why those who advocate that college athletes be paid are missing a vital point. On top of their $40,000-$50,000 scholarships and presumably debt-free education, these athletes enjoy luxury and academic services that ordinary students cannot access, much less afford.

Athletes in big-time “revenue” college sports—mainly football and men’s basketball—garner benefits that compare favorably with those of their professional counterparts. They can take advantage of the best coaching; the best medical care; the best trainers; the most modern weight and conditioning equipment, hydrotherapy pools, and devices to speed recovery from injury. They walk the campus in high-price athletic and leisure attire, often provided free by Nike, Under Armour, Adidas and the like; and they are fed specialized, nutritious diets.

Football players get top treatment. Almost all schools in the richest Power Five conferences boast an upscale football performance (training) center. At Oregon, the 145,000-square-foot football center (about half the size of the average Wal-Mart) houses three indoor practice fields, a two-story weight room, multiple whirlpools and trainers’ tables, lockers the size of a crypt, several plush lounges with flat-screen TVs and gaming stations, a cafeteria, conference and classrooms, a pool table and barber shop. The Anderson Training Center at the University of Tennessee also spans 145,000 square feet, and includes an indoor practice field, multilevel weight and cardio area, nutrition bar, a 7,000-square-foot locker room (well-ventilated) with connections for mobile devices at each locker, five hydrotherapy pools, a physician clinic, X-ray room, pharmacy, amphitheater, lounge with video game consoles and dining hall.

The Paul W. Bryant Hall at the University of Alabama offers all these features plus arcade games and a climate-controlled room that fumigates players’ shoes.

It may be difficult to calculate the dollar value of all these facilities and services, but it is likely that membership in many posh country clubs costs less. Yes, surveys show that most big-time athletes devote 40-60 hours a week practicing, playing and traveling for their sport, and some do help earn millions for their school. College athletes do deserve to be compensated when their images are used for commercial purposes.

But it is a little hard to accept claims about athletes being exploited when they live so opulently. And once a university constructs an expensive Jaqua Center or lavish football training center, its rivals feel pressure to keep pace or outdo. The resulting perks are the costliest and most outlandish feature of the college sports “arms race,” and athletes are the beneficiaries. So perhaps the next best thing to being a millionaire is living like one—all while getting a free college education.

Article Link to the Wall Street Journal:

Let’s Not Pay College Athletes

Two Stocks In Play For This Tuesday: Sunedison -- #SUNE -- and #GEVO

Trumping NATO

The Republican would accelerate a U.S. retreat begun under Obama.

Review and Outlook
The Wall Street Journal
March 29, 2016

Henry Kissinger once remarked, sometime after 9/11, that a U.S. President could still call upon Americans to sacrifice in the national interest while Europe’s leaders could not. The current U.S. presidential campaign shows that this U.S.-Europe difference may be fading, which should be a wake-up call to Europeans who have neglected their own defenses and find themselves exposed to threats from Moscow to Mosul.

“I have two problems with NATO,” Donald Trump told the New York Times last week. “No. 1, it’s obsolete. When NATO was formed many decades ago we were a different country. There was a different threat.” The Republican front-runner thinks NATO is ill-suited for dealing with terrorism, “because right now we don’t have somebody looking at terror, and we should be looking at terror.”

His second problem is that “we pay far too much.” The Atlantic Alliance, he says, is “unfair, economically, to us, to the United States. Because it really helps them more than the United States, and we pay a disproportionate share.”

Mr. Trump has a stream-of-unconsciousness way of speaking, so it isn’t clear whether he knows that NATO spent a decade fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, before President Obama pulled up stakes on the mission. Great Britain lost 455 troops fighting the Taliban and other terrorists in the country, Canada lost 158, and other NATO members lost nearly 400. That doesn’t match the U.S. commitment, but Europe’s NATO members sacrificed in Afghanistan in response to terrorist attacks in the U.S.

The New York real-estate developer also doesn’t seem to realize that the threat NATO currently faces from the Kremlin is increasing and worse than at any time since the Cold War ended. Russian jets persistently threaten and violate NATO airspace, Russian operatives have staged assassinations and kidnappings in NATO countries, and Russian diplomats have even threatened nuclear attacks on NATO states.

Mr. Trump has famously said he is his own foreign-policy strategist, so perhaps he should consider that NATO’s current role is to prevent the emergence of a regional Russian hegemon. Such a Russia could dominate Eastern Europe and exercise authoritarian leverage over the rest. Investing in the alliance now is a way to deter war so we don’t have to spend more to fight one later.

But saying Mr. Trump is wrong on the merits shouldn’t mute the warning for Europeans in his remarks. Mr. Trump represents a strain of U.S. populism that has emerged in both political parties that balks at the cost of supporting alliances. His language is merely a cruder version of the political impulses that have also caused Mr. Obama to downgrade Europe in U.S. strategic calculations.

Part of the problem is that the U.S. is beginning to suffer from Europe’s economic malaise. A decade of 2% growth has sapped American self-confidence, while the increasing entitlement burden has narrowed the budgetary scope for defense spending. This is what Mr. Trump means when he says the U.S. needs to do nation-building at home, and on that point he is merely echoing Mr. Obama.

Where Mr. Trump does have an argument is that Americans still bear a disproportionate burden for guaranteeing Europe’s security. The nearby table shows the relative levels of defense spending as a share of GDP by some key NATO countries.

Only five of NATO’s 28 members—Britain, Estonia, Greece, Poland and the U.S.—will spend the 2% of GDP on defense in 2015 that is technically a requirement for membership. At 3.6% the U.S. spends by far the most, or about two-thirds of all NATO spending. But Mr. Obama would prefer to spend less on defense—in part to shrink the military so the U.S. is less able to undertake the military operations he opposes.

It’s possible—and we fervently hope—that the next U.S. President will lift America out of its despond, but on present trend no one should count on it. Hillary Clinton would continue Mr. Obama’s policy direction, and on foreign policy Mr. Trump would attempt to accelerate it.

Some Europeans—the Germans in particular—think they can manage threats such as Russia and terrorism in different, nonmilitary ways. But they should be wary of what will happen if the carrot of commercial deals with the Kremlin such as gas pipelines isn’t backed by the stick of a strong collective defense.

Mr. Trump’s ramblings on NATO are a double-edged warning: Europeans need to invest more in defense, both to prepare for the possibility if Americans take an isolationist turn in November, and to ensure that America’s security role in Europe remains politically palatable to U.S. voters.

Article Link to the Wall Street Journal:

Supreme Hypocrisy

By Thomas Sowell
Real Clear Politics
March 29, 2016

If there is one thing that is bipartisan in Washington, it is brazen hypocrisy.

Currently there is much indignation being expressed by Democrats because the Republican-controlled Senate refuses to hold confirmation hearings on President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Democrats complain, and the media echo their complaint, that it is the Senate's duty to provide "advice and consent" on the President's appointment of various federal officials. Therefore, according to this claim, the Senate is neglecting its Constitutional duty by refusing even to hold hearings to determine whether the nominee is qualified, and then vote accordingly.

First of all, the "advice and consent" provision of the Constitution is a restriction on the President's power, not an imposition of a duty on the Senate. It says nothing about the Senate's having a duty to hold hearings, or vote, on any Presidential nominee, whether for the Supreme Court or for any other federal institution. The power to consent is the power to refuse to consent, and for many years no hearings were held, whether the Senate consented or did not consent.

Nor have Democrats hesitated, when they controlled the Senate, to refuse to hold hearings or to vote when a lame-duck President nominated someone for some position requiring Senate confirmation during a Presidential election year.

When the shoe was on the other foot, the Republicans made the same arguments as the Democrats are making today, and the Democrats made the same arguments as the Republicans are now making.

The obvious reason, in both cases, is that the party controlling the Senate wants to save the appointment for their own candidate for the Presidency to make after winning the upcoming election. The rest is political hypocrisy on both sides.

None of this is new. It was already well-known 40 years ago, when President Gerald Ford nominated me to become one of the commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission during the 1976 Presidential election year.

After months passed without any hearings being held, I went to see the chief legislative aide of the committee that was responsible for confirming or denying. When the two of us were alone, he said to me, quite frankly, "We've gone over your record with a fine tooth comb and can find nothing to object to. So we are simply not going to hold hearings at all."

"If this were not an election year," he said, "your nomination would have sailed right through. But we think our man is going to win the Presidential election this year, and we want him to nominate someone in tune with our thinking."

Various Democrats who are currently denouncing the Republican Senate, including Vice President Biden, have used very similar arguments against letting lame-duck Republican Presidents appoint Supreme Court justices.

Last week, the New York Times ran a front-page "news" story about something Chief Justice John Roberts had said, more than a month ago, prior to the death of Justice Scalia, under the headline "Stern Rebuke For Senators."

Since Justice Scalia was still alive then, and there was no Supreme Court vacancy to fill at the time, Chief Justice Roberts' remarks had nothing to do with the current controversy. Nor were these remarks news after such a long lapse of time. But this was part of a pattern of the New York Times' disguising editorials as front-page news stories.

In short, the political hypocrisy was matched by journalistic hypocrisy. Indeed, there was more than a little judicial hypocrisy in Chief Justice Roberts' complaint that Senate confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominees do not confine themselves to the nominees' judicial qualifications, rather than their conservative or liberal orientations.

If judges confined themselves to acting like judges, instead of legislating from the bench, creating new "rights" out of thin air that are nowhere to be found in the Constitution, maybe Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees would not be such bitter and ugly ideological battles.

Chief Justice Roberts himself practically repealed the 10th Amendment's limitation on federal power when he wrote the decision that the government could order us all to buy ObamaCare insurance policies. When judges act like whores, they can hardly expect to be treated like nuns.

Politicians, journalists and judges should all spare us pious hypocrisy.

Article Link to Real Clear Politics:

Obama Surge Gives Democrats Reason for Hope

By Jonathan Bernstein
The Bloomberg View
March 28, 2016

President Barack Obama’s surging approval rating is becoming a major plot line of the 2016 election.

Obama has reached 53 percent approval from Gallup, a three-year high, and he’s been at or above 50 percent in that survey for four weeks.

HuffPollster's aggregate of all current polls gives Obama an average approval rating of 49.2 percent,compared with 47.3 percent disapproval. He bottomed out in the first week of December at 44.1 percent, according to that estimate, so he’s gained five percentage points over an almost four-month sustained rally.

That should help Hillary Clinton’s chances in November. Current presidential approval, along with some measure of economic performance, both have strong effects on general election voting. They aren’t perfect predictors, but they seem to make a difference.

In the Gallup survey, Obama is now doing a little bit better than Ronald Reagan was in late March 1988. He’s well behind Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton during their final years in the White House, and far ahead of George W. Bush.

No one has a good explanation for Obama’s rising approval rating. There’s no historical pattern of presidential approval improving during the primaries and caucuses of his final year in office. There seems to be a faint echo of the presidential approval surge in “right track/wrong track” polling, but it’s a smaller change, and it’s not clear what the relationship between the two measures might be. (That is, it could be that people think that the nation is in better shape and so they give credit to the president, but it’s just as likely that people who come to like the president conclude that the nation may be better off.)

I’ve heard suggestions that Donald Trump makes Obama look good by comparison, but there’s no real evidence.

My best guess is that it's a delayed effect of (relative) peace and prosperity. In the 1990s, it took some time for peace and prosperity to boost Bill Clinton's approval numbers; there could be something similar at work now, though at a lower level.

At any rate, this spike for Obama does prove, contrary to what some have said, that such improvements are possible even for presidents late in their final terms. And the election is still some time away, so his approval rates could surge higher -- or come down.

With Obama no longer looking like a mild drag on the Democrats, they may now have a very slight edge in the 2016 presidential election. If Republicans pick an unpopular candidate (Ted Cruz) or a potentially awful one (Trump), a Democratic landslide becomes increasingly plausible.

Article Link to the Bloomberg View:

The Myth of the 'Reagan Democrat'

The notion that Donald Trump can convert a large swath of white, blue-collar Democrats is a fantasy. They don’t exist.

By Peter Beinart
The Atlantic
March 28, 2016

When pundits claim Donald Trump can win the presidency, they often evoke a fabled political species: “Reagan Democrats.” “Are Reagan Democrats becoming Trump Democrats?” wondered CNN commentator Jeffrey Lord last fall in The American Spectator. “I think there’s a lot of Reagan Democrats waiting to vote for him,” declared MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in January.

This almost certainly isn’t true. The more you examine it, the more far-fetched the claim that Trump can win the presidency by luring vast numbers of “Reagan Democrats” looks.

What is a “Reagan Democrat?” At its most literal, it’s a Northern, white, noncollege-educated Democrat who actually voted for Ronald Reagan. But there aren’t many of them left. The typical blue-collar white man who at age 30 voted for Reagan in 1980 can’t vote for Trump this fall. He’s dead. White men born in 1950 die on average at age 66. That’s this year. White working-class men die even earlier. The average white woman who at age 30 voted for Reagan in 1980 will live a bit longer: until 2022. Most white working-class women, however, won’t make it until then.

So when people talk about “Reagan Democrats” today, they don’t mean Democrats who actually voted for Reagan. They mean the people who resemble them demographically: Northern blue-collar whites. But blue-collar whites don’t enjoy the same political significance they did in the 1980s. In the 1988 presidential election, they constituted more than half the voters. This fall, they’ll constitute roughly one-third. A new Center for American Progress report, brought to my attention by The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, notes that in the classic “Reagan Democrat” states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, blue-collar-whites’ share of the electorate will shrink two percentage points between 2012 and 2016 alone.

Not only are blue-collar whites a smaller share of the electorate than in 1980, they also behave differently. As American University political scientist David Lublin notes, “The early 1980s were the height of weak partisanship with voters much more willing to defect from their party in elections than today.” Back then, Democrats were less homogeneously liberal. Lots of whites with fairly conservative views on race, gender, and national security still identified with the party. So ideologically, voting for Reagan wasn’t much of a stretch.

Since then, however, American politics has witnessed a massive ideological “sorting.” The kind of conservative blue-collar whites who would once have been “Reagan Democrats” are now mostly Republicans. As The Washington Post’s Phillip Bump notes, working-class whites are almost 10 percentage points more likely to identify with the GOP than they were in 1980. Those blue-collar whites who remain Democrats are more liberal. It may be because they’re members of unions and thus more sympathetic to a pro-government message. It may be because they’re Millennials, who even in the white working class tend to be more secular, more pro-gay marriage, and less racially resentful than their parents and grandparents. It may because they are women, who are somewhat more liberal than men overall.

The point is that, because of this “sorting,” notes Emory’s Alan Abramowitz, “Party ID [now] predicts vote choice very well.” In 2012, Mitt Romney won Republicans 93 to 6 percent. Obama won Democrats 92 to 7 percent. Not many people cross party lines in presidential elections anymore.

"More Republicans are planning to vote for Hillary than Democrats are planning to vote for Trump."

To mobilize large numbers of “Trump Democrats,” Trump would have to change all this. But there’s little evidence that he can. A March Washington Post poll found that in a hypothetical matchup with Trump, Hillary Clinton wins Democrats 86 to 9 percent. That means, right now, that Trump does indeed gain a few more Democratic defections than Romney did. The problem is that Trump is only winning Republicans 75 to 14 percent. In other words, more Republicans are planning to vote for Hillary than Democrats are planning to vote for Trump, which helps explain why Clinton is leading in almost all the head-to-head polls.

Perhaps Trump voters are embarrassed to admit that they support him, and polls thus far understate his support. But Lublin points out that, so far in the primaries, this hasn’t been the case. Trump hasn’t done better on election days than the polls predict. He has done slightly worse. Nor has 2016 witnessed an avalanche of white blue-collar Democrats crossing over to vote for Trump in Republican primaries. GOP primary turnout has been higher: higher than it was in 2012 and higher than the turnout on the Democratic side. And Trump does seem to be mobilizing a significant number of first-time voters. But not many of these are Democrats. According to exit polls, while some states have seen more Democrats crossing over to vote in Republican primaries than in 2012, many others have seen fewer. In Michigan, for instance, a key “Reagan Democrat” state, the number of Democrats who voted in the Republican primary is way down.

The electoral fantasy that Trump can win the presidency by luring vast numbers of blue-collar whites who wouldn’t otherwise vote Republican is akin to the ideological fantasy that he can keep America prosperous and safe by banning Muslim immigration and getting Mexico to pay for a wall on the U.S. southern border. It’s a fantasy that he can roll back history to a time when whites enjoyed more control, both over nonwhites inside the United States and over those who wish to enter from outside. This throwback fantasy is appealing inside a Republican Party where white voters remain unquestionably dominant. But in the America of today, reality is very different. And, unfortunately for Donald Trump, it’s in today’s America—not Ronald Reagan’s—that he must compete this fall.

Article Link to the Atlantic:

Billionaires Try to Buy the Supreme Court

Republicans say ‘let the people decide’ the next justice, but plutocrats are helping them block Merrick Garland so they can place a conservative on the bench.

By Jay Michaelson
The Daily Beast
March 29, 2016

“Let the people decide” is the refrain of Republicans opposed to holding hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland, but they’re being bankrolled by an anonymous collection of billionaires—1 percenters so cowardly that they’re hiding behind tax laws to avoid revealing their identities.

Case in point: the “Judicial Crisis Network,” the right-wing front organization doing ad buys across the country to oppose Judge Garland getting a hearing. JCN is one of many 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations on the right and the left, and C4s don’t have to disclose their donors.That is the major reason that political spending by c4s increased more than 8,000 percent between 2004 and 2012.

That doesn’t mean we don’t know anything about C4’s like JCN, however. Thanks to a 2015 investigation by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, we do know it was started in 2005 (as the “Judicial Confirmation network” meant to promote Bush’s judicial appointees ) by a group of arch-conservatives including Ann Corkery. Corkery isn’t listed on the JCN’s website, perhaps because the group doesn’t want “the people” to know she is also member of the far-right, literally self-flagellating Catholic order Opus Dei; a former director of Bill Donohue’s ultra-right Catholic League; and a board member of Hobby Lobby’s law firm, The Becket Fund, although her bio has been removed from Becket’s website too..

Conveniently, Corkery also directs JCN’s leading funder, the Wellspring Committee.

Who funds the Wellspring Committee? Well here’s where things get interesting.

Turns out, Wellspring was founded in 2008 by none other than the infamous Charles and David Koch, together with their political Svengali, Richard Fink. According to Kenneth Vogel, author of the book Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp, Wellspring raised $10 million from attendees at the Kochs’ donor seminars, right after it was founded.

How much and from whom we don’t know.

And that’s precisely the point. Indeed, so secretive is the Wellspring Committee that Jane Mayer’s masterful 449-page tome on the Kochs, Scaifes, and other mega-donors doesn’t even mention it. One insider told Vogel, “Wellspring would never have put their name on anything.”

And these are the people saying “let the people decide.”

From the beginning, Wellspring was set up as a dark money conduit, effectively laundering billionaire donations so no one would have to be accountable for them. Wellspring donated $7.8 million in 2008, for example, in part to other Koch-funded fronts like Americans for Prosperity.

But Wellspring was different in one key respect. Unlike most of the libertarian “Kochtopus”—which would eventually fund the Astroturf Tea Party movement—Wellspring worked closely with the Republican establishment. Corkery herself was a co-chair of the National Women for Mitt Finance Committee. The operations were initially run by Rick Wiley, a former Republican National Committee official. Wellspring also coordinated with Republican mega-donors, including Sheldon Adelson’s Freedom’s Watch.

The marriage didn’t last long, though. After the 2008 election loss, the Koch brothers turned back to their roots, funding front groups like Americans for Prosperity and Center to Protect Patient Rights to oppose Obamacare and the Tea Party movement to oppose mainstream Republicans.

From 2008 to 2011, Wellspring raised $24 million but not one donor’s name is known. (There are rumors that its funders now include the Templeton Foundation and hedge fund mogul Paul Singer, both contacts of Corkery’s.) Intriguingly, however, ten of Wellspring’s grantees (in the period 2008-11) also received money from the Koch-funded Center to Protect Patient Rights, and Wellspring works with consultants who used to work with Koch Industries.

Whoever is paying for it, we do know that Wellspring is giving JCN $7 million a year, the lion’s share of that group’s budget, and that Corkery’s husband Neil is JCN’s treasurer. JCN, in turn, announced a $3 million campaign to oppose any Supreme Court confirmation hearings—just the latest of its big spends on judicial battles across the country.

In other words, the leading opponents of Judge Garland’s confirmation aren’t citizens concerned about democracy, but a front organization started by a secretive religious extremist and funded by anonymous members of the Koch brothers’ network. Let the people decide, indeed.

Oh, and by the way, C4s like Wellspring and JCN can only spend up to 49.9 percent of their expenditures on politics: the rest is supposed to promote “social welfare.” But since a judicial campaign isn’t technically a political campaign, these expenditures actually count as Wellspring’s non-political “social welfare” expenses. Because of course this has nothing to do with politics.

The further one digs into this miasma of hypocrisy, wealth, and secrecy, the more incestuous it all becomes. For example, it turns out, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, that Neil Corkery, in addition to JCN, was also “president of its allied Judicial Education Project, and executive director of a charity called the Sudan Relief Fund, all of which paid him salaries; but he also drew paychecks from at least four other organizations: the anti-gay union National Organization for Marriage, ActRight Action, the Catholic Association Foundation, and Catholic Voices. His total earnings were almost $450,000 and his weekly workload was 105 hours in the first half of 2012.” He is also linked to the C4 group called the Annual Fund, itself launched in 2010 with a $2.4 million grant from Wellspring.

Sometimes the “vast, right-wing conspiracy” isn’t really that vast.

It is, however, deeply hypocritical. If the mantra of the anti-Garland crowd is “let the people decide,” why won’t they let the people know who they are? Why the layers of obfuscation and secrecy? If the Wellspring Committee funders really care about democracy, they’ll stop hiding behind tax regulations and shell corporations, and proudly disclose who they are and what they want to do.

Unless, of course, they know the people would decide to run them out of Washington.

Article Link to the Daily Beast:

Western Chauvinism and Lahore

By Noah Rothman
March 28, 2016

In the West, noble and heartfelt expressions of solidarity with the mounting number of European victims of Islamist terrorism are proliferating proportionate to the increasing number of attacks. “Je Suis Charlie.” “Je Suis Bruxelles.” You don’t have to be plugged-in to social media or familiar with what a hashtag is to be privy to affirmations of unity with the victims of Islamic fundamentalist violence. They appear in print, adorn digital billboards along the nation’s highways, and grace the lips of the socially conscious. Rarely, however, do you see such outpourings of grief for countries like Turkey, where Islamist terror attacks now occur with terrifying regularity, or Nigeria, where Boko Haram’s gruesome acts of barbarism are rivaled only by those of its affiliate in Iraq and Syria. Speaking of Iraq, 41 people were killed and another hundred wounded over the weekend when a suicide bomber completed his grisly mission inside a soccer stadium. Where were the sympathetic hashtags for the slain Iraqis, Nigerians, Turks, or other non-Western victims of Islamist violence?

There may be an element of Western chauvinism to this blind spot. It is, however, important to note this apparent disparity of awareness and sympathy not because it provides culturally aware Westerners the opportunity posture or perceive themselves to be morally superior. Amid this intensifying wave of bloodshed perpetrated by only one culprit, introspection and self-criticism is the easy course. Externalities are far more threatening and the threat they pose harder to mitigate. There is no amount of chin scratching on the part of self-conscious Westerners that can end this bloodshed. There is no moral equivalence between the West and those responsible for the savagery that was, for example, visited upon Pakistani Christians in Lahore over the weekend. There, Easter Sunday celebrations were abruptly halted when a member of the Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ur-Ahrar blew himself up along with a truck full of explosives. Of the attack’s 70 fatalities, most of them were women and young children.

It takes a desperate commitment to ambiguity and moral equivalence to avoid calling the unspeakable terror meted out to the members of a tiny Christian minority in predominantly Muslim Pakistan out for precisely what it is, but America’s diplomatic establishment specializes in such obfuscation. “The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s appalling terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan,” read a statement from State Department spokesman John Kirby. “We send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured, and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Lahore as they respond to and recover from this terrible tragedy.”

Are those really “the strongest terms?” The average cease and desist letter is more strongly worded. An earthquake is a “tragedy”; this was an atrocity, and a preventable one. At no point does the State Department make mention of the identity of the victims of this assault – Christians. Nor does it note that the terrorist organization, a branch of the Pakistani Taliban that was once aligned with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, are the self-identified culprits. What logic would lead the State Department to omit these details, which fully explain the attack’s motivation, but for the presumption than to use precise language in this case is ultimately counterproductive?

That is the bizarre logic that has guided the American diplomatic establishment in the post-9/11 era. It would be one thing to argue that clarity and forthrightness on the matter of terrorism somehow impedes the work of American diplomats by offending the fragile sensibilities of their counterparts in the Islamic world. The prevailing contention is that calling radical Islamic terrorism “radical Islamic terrorism” makes combating this phenomenon harder. If the Muslim world is so delicate that it will shatter at the mere mention of the fact that there is a cancer within their midst, so be it. Condemning the ideology that leads misguided young men to murder innocent children due to their religious affiliation is not so much to ask.

The mentality on display at the State Department is the mentality that typifies the Democratic presidential field’s approach to even using the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Both Hillary Clinton and her quixotic competitors have conspicuously refused to use the term that accurately describes the enemy, preferring instead to sidestep the issue in a ham-fisted fashion and offer gauzy platitudes about the peaceful nature of the Muslim religion. “The obsession in some quarters with a clash of civilization or repeating the specific words radical Islamic terrorism isn’t just a distraction,” Clinton averred in a speech on terrorism in the wake of the coordinated attacks in Paris last November. “It gives these criminals, these murderers more standing than they deserve.” Clinton has had harsher things to say about Republicans.

You do not call an adversary by its name because it is cathartic to do so, nor do you avoid it because it would presumably impart to them some vague sense of legitimacy or authority. You do so because to clearly identify and define an enemy is to create and deepen existing moiety. An ideology cannot be undermined from within unless its opponents define what it means to be a dissident. Moreover, those dissidents cannot be inspired to dissent without being mobilized and inspired to do so by those with the courage to draw distinct definitional lines between them and us. The leftwing tenet, which bizarrely posits that calling radical Islamic terrorists who target Christian children for death on their holiest of holidays somehow plays right into the terrorists’ hands, is deeply flawed. The suggestion that men of good faith within the Muslim world would be moved to support child-killers because they feel slighted by the State Department is the height of condescension and, yes, Western chauvinism.

The diplomatic community is correct to fear that American political figures like Donald Trump, who have mobilized a substantial electoral coalition in opposition to “political correctness,” are making their jobs harder. The idea of a constitutionally dubious and unfeasible “Muslim ban” only alienates those non-radical practitioners of Islam worldwide. Only they can ultimately discredit, isolate, and defeat their radical peers; not the West. But the American diplomatic community’s refusal to acknowledge what is in front of their faces also contributes to a persecution complex among Westerners that empowers men like Trump. As much as the unconvincing notion that there is a “war on Christmas,” the diplomatic establishment’s refusal to acknowledge attacks on and the tyrannical oppression of Christians abroad lend credence to the cause of “anti-PC” crusaders.

Polls of Trump voters suggest that, among the qualities his supporters love about him most, is that he “tells it like it is.” Their definition of candor is not truthfulness – Donald Trump is compulsively mendacious. More likely, Trump’s voters believe he is willing to call balls and strikes when it comes to phenomena like radical Islamic terrorism, regardless of who it offends. Figures like Hillary Clinton and institutions like the State Department seem intent on doing all they can to substantiate these voters’ belief.

Article Link to Commentary:

5 deadlines to watch on the EU-Turkey migration deal

New threats emerge to the agreement to control migrant flows.

Politico EU
March 29, 2016

Making the controversial EU-Turkey migration deal work was always going to be a huge logistical challenge. Now that the terror attacks in Brussels have stirred up fresh opposition, it’s a political one too.

Even before the attacks, EU leaders warned that major elements of the deal reached this month would be difficult to implement, from the mass mobilization of officials and resources needed in Greece to process arriving migrants to the ability and willingness of some countries to accept even the smallest number of asylum seekers.

Under the deal, Greek authorities detain newly arrived migrants and send them back to Turkey; in exchange, the EU agreed to resettle up to 72,000 Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and speed up financial aid to help Turkey care for the 2.7 million Syrian refugees it is hosting. Those who arrived before the deal came into force will either have to be sent back to their countries of origin, if they are illegal migrants, or have their asylum claims examined in Greece.

Already, there are signs that the deal is in trouble. Two EU officials said Turkey has been slow to enact certain terms: It has authorized no new returns of migrants under the readmission agreement with Athens and is not moving forward on providing full protection to non-Syrian refugees. Officials also said it is too early to measure how well Turkey is doing in preventing additional migrants from leaving on their way to Greece.

Here are five key issues that will determine whether the deal succeeds or fails:

1. Security concerns

After the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Poland shut its doors to refugees. “I say very clearly that I see no possibility at this time of immigrants coming to Poland,” Prime Minister Beata Szydło said Wednesday. Other countries could follow.

Diplomats fear that countries that never wanted to take part in the relocation of 160,000 refugees across Europe will use the terrorist threat as an excuse to pull out. They also say that countries could use security concerns to beef up their background checks on refugees, making the whole relocation process even slower that it is now. If any refugees are linked by investigators to the terrorist attacks it could be a further threat to the deal.

What to watch for, and when: Unless there is another terror attack, by the middle of April it should be clear if countries have grown even more reluctant to take in refugees.

2. Migrant flows

This is the major point for the EU. If migrant flows in the coming weeks continue to be high, then the deal is virtually dead.

There is a line in the joint declaration approved by EU and Turkish leaders that makes it clear: “Should the number of returns exceed the numbers provided for above, this mechanism will be discontinued.” Which means that if the number of Syrians returned to Turkey is above the 72,000 figure, the deal is breached. “It’s a way to keep pressure on the Turks to keep their borders shut,” said a diplomat.

What to watch for, and when: It will be clear by the end of April if the deal has had any impact on reducing migrant flows. Only monthly figures are reliable, officials say, and with better weather likely to make it easier for people to move, the comparison with data from spring last year will show if there had been any reduction.

Since the agreement took effect March 20, the flow of migrants has been uneven.

Last Thursday marked the first day since the crisis started that no migrants arrived in Greece, according to Greek government data, but officials say the drop was an exception mainly due to bad weather. On Friday, another 161 migrants arrived and despite warnings of forced removals, a few hundred arrivals came each day, with a peak last Monday of 1,162.

3. Visa liberalization

This is the major point for the Turks. The deal says that visa liberalization for Turkish citizens traveling to the EU will take place at the latest in June, “provided that all benchmarks have been met.”

That’s easier said than done. Out of 72 benchmarks that Turkey must implement, Ankara has fulfilled 37. Of the remaining 35, 12 have not been fulfilled or only partially met, and work is progressing more smoothly on the remaining 23.

It took Ankara years to implement the first 37 benchmarks, so “we don’t think that Turkey will manage to meet all the remaining benchmarks in a few weeks,” said Alexandra Stiglmayer, senior analyst at the European Stability Initiative, a think tank. “I am sure that if Turkey does not get visa liberalization the deal is off or delayed.”

What to watch for, and when: Here there’s a hard deadline. If by the end of May, Turkey hasn’t managed to meet the benchmarks, the deal is in trouble.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, left, shakes hands with President of the European Council, Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker | Carl Court/Getty Images

4. Greece’s ‘Herculean’ task

About 4,000 people are being mobilized to handle the logistics of the deal, some 2,500 of them from EU member countries, according to an estimate from the Commission.

Tribunals will have to process asylum claims and any resulting appeals quickly. Refugee identification centers, so-called hotspots, have been turned into detention centers for those migrants who are to be returned. Greece and Turkey have to swiftly enact legislative changes to make the deal fully legal.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wasn’t just making a Greek analogy when he described it as a “Herculean task.” The return of Syrians to Turkey and their resettlement is supposed to start April 4.

What to watch for, and when: The next few weeks will show whether Athens is managing or collapsing under the refugee burden. Small protests have already taken place in some detention centers. After April 4, it will be clear if the resettlement and return of Syrians is working.

5. Legal challenges

Many legal aspects remain to be addressed, including the issue of Greece recognizing Turkey as a safe third country, a key point for sending migrants back there. A Commission spokesman said early last week that Greece would introduce legislation soon, and in the meantime asylum requests lodged as of March 20 would not receive a decision until the new legislation is adopted.

Some humanitarian organizations suspended some of their activities on the Greek islands, complaining that registration centers were being turned into detention centers.

What to watch for, and when: If Greece does not change its laws and Turkey is still foot-dragging on granting full protection for non-Syrians, experts say, it will be another sign the deal is in trouble.

EU officials say they hope that the message that migrants will be jailed and returned would be enough to significantly discourage new arrivals by the end of April.

Article Link to Politico EU:

Why Fidel Castro flipped off President Obama

By Post Editorial Board
The New York Post
March 28, 2016

Fidel Castro on Monday gave his take on President Obama’s gracious effort to build a new US-Cuba relationship: No way.

“Every one of us ran the risk of a heart attack listening to” Obama’s “honey-coated” words, the retired dictator fumed.

Obama had said “it is time, now, for us to leave the past behind” for a future “as friends and as neighbors and as family, together.” Castro answered with a history of grievances — including the US refusal to recognize Cuba’s supposed gains under the dictatorship.

He also denied the poverty-stricken island needs anything from the outside world: “We are able to produce food and material wealth we need with the effort and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to gift us anything.”

Fidel even took what seems a slam at brother Raul — suggesting the tourism industry that’s grown since Raul took over as dictator is dominated by foreign megafirms demanding billion-dollar profits.

Looks like Fidel is a little bitter that, after outlasting 10 US presidents, it’s his little brother who gets to be top dog when the United States finally has a leader who’s willing to give the regime everything it wants in exchange for . . . nothing.

Article Link to the New York Post:

Why Fidel Castro flipped off President Obama

Investors Are in Denial About China

By Christopher Balding
The Bloomberg View
March 29, 2016

As you've no doubt noticed, companies and investors around the world are feeling the pain of China's economic slowdown. They're worried about all the layoffs, cuts to surplus capacity and deleveraging to come on the mainland, which will further depress demand. The natural temptation is to blame China for the world's woes. But outsiders should focus just as much on their own missteps -- starting with the widespread misperception that "this time" would be different.

Back in 2009, as China unleashed a massive fiscal stimulus and investment spree in response to the global financial crisis, the rest of the world was all too willing to believe the impossible. Aided by consultant research predicting decades of explosive growth, companies placed huge bets on China and expected to ride the never-ending boom to riches.

Amid the gold rush, they bulked up to sell China t-shirts or tons of iron ore. They urged their governments to sign free-trade deals with Beijing. Commodity producers heedlessly expanded capacity, believing that 10 percent growth would continue indefinitely. Consumer brands rushed to set up flagships in third-tier Chinese cities. Shipping companies scrambled to build new fleets to meet an expected explosion in global trade.

However, as with so many previous bouts of irrational exuberance, this time wasn't really different. The ruthless rules of supply and demand still applied. And now, the longer that painful decisions are delayed, the harder they'll become.

Commodities firms, in particular, are learning that lesson the hard way. As prices rose with Chinese demand, they made large upfront investments financed by borrowing -- often on a 20-year timeline, in the expectation that growth would last and last. Now, with China's economy slowing and the prices of everything from oil to metals plummeting, the bills are coming due.

Major iron ore firms, which had predicted that Chinese steel demand would keep rising until about 2030, are now looking at substantial overinvestment and deteriorating credit. Dairy farmers, who increased their herds with future Chinese consumer demand in mind, are feeling the pinch as milk prices plunge.

After years of ramping up production to fuel China's expected growth, oil-producing countries from Saudi Arabia to Norway are facing grim decisions about their public finances. Russia is rapidly draining its sovereign wealth fund. Venezuela is pleading with China for loans -- on top of the nearly $60 billion already doled out -- to stave off collapse. Pundits are warning that the large debt load of U.S. shale-gas and oil producers could pose greater risks than sub-prime lending did a decade ago.

No less so than China, the rest of the world needs to face up to some new realities.

First, the golden age of Chinese construction is over. There's now enormous surplus capacity in virtually every industry that requires fixed-asset investment. Companies can no longer rely on the "Beijing put" of new government stimulus to boost growth. Iron ore producers and copper miners all need to begin a painful process of downsizing and deleveraging -- just as China's bloated state-owned enterprises do. Producers around the world haven't faced up to the new normal.

Second, companies of all stripes have to put in the effort to understand China better. Expectations of double-digit growth, regardless of how poor the performance, have vanished. Luxury brands that once hoped their Beijing flagships would smooth the balance sheets at European headquarters need to recognize that different markets require different strategies, and that shops in China won't run on autopilot. They need to compete.

Third, companies and countries alike need to face up to their own irrational exuberance. Whether it's failing to diversify, spending recklessly on the back of high prices, or taking on too much debt, fundamental mistakes can't be blamed on China. Doing so only delays the inevitable.

Few investors seem to fully appreciate the balance-sheet reckoning that is coming. Failing to address the global supply glut only increases the risk of a larger correction. We know that because this time isn't different: The bill always comes due.

Article Link to the Bloomberg View:

Europe At The Edge Of The Abyss: The Art of National Suicide

America can still avoid sharing Europe’s fate. But only if we take action.

By Victor Davis Hanson
The National Interest
March 28, 2016

Because of what Europe has become, it now has few viable choices in dealing with radical Islamic terrorism. Its dilemma is a warning to Americans that we should turn away from a similar path of national suicide.

After suffering serial terrorist attacks from foreign nationals and immigrants, a normal nation-state would be expected to make extraordinary efforts to close its borders and redefine its foreign policy in order to protect its national interests. But a France or a Belgium is not quite a sovereign nation any more, and thus does not have complete control over its national destiny or foreign relations.

As part of the European Union, France and Belgium have, for all practical purposes, placed their own security in the hands of an obdurate Angela Merkel’s Germany, which is hellbent on allowing without audit millions of disenchanted young Middle Eastern males into its territory, with subsequent rights of passage into any other member of the European Union that they wish. The 21st-century “German problem” is apparently not that of an economic powerhouse and military brute warring on its neighbors, but that of an economic powerhouse that uses its wealth and arrogant sense of social superiority to bully its neighbors into accepting its bankrupt immigration policies and green ideology.

The immigration policies of France and Belgium are unfortunately also de facto those of Greece. And a petulant and poor Greece, licking its wounds over its European Union brawl with northern-European banks, either cannot or will not control entrance into its territory — Europe’s window on the Middle East. No European country can take the security measures necessary for its own national needs, without either violating or ignoring EU mandates. That the latest terrorist murders struck near the very heart of the EU in Brussels is emblematic of the Union’s dilemma.

As far as America is concerned, a fossilized EU should remind us of our original and vanishing system of federalism, in which states were once given some constitutional room to craft laws and protocols to reflect regional needs — and to ensure regional and democratic input with checks and balances on statism through their representatives in Congress. Yet the ever-growing federal government — with its increasingly anti-democratic, politically correct, and mostly unaccountable bureaucracies — threatens to do to Americans exactly what the EU has done to Europeans. We already see how the capricious erosion of federal immigration law has brought chaos to the borderlands of the American Southwest. It is a scary thing for a federal power arbitrarily to render its own inviolable laws null and void — and then watch the concrete consequences of such lawlessness fall on others, who have been deprived of recourse to constitutional protections of their own existential interests.

Europe’s immigration policy is a disaster — and for reasons that transcend the idiocy of allowing the free influx of young male Muslims from a premodern, war-torn Middle East into a postmodern, pacifist, and post-Christian Europe. Europe has not been a continent of immigrants since the Middle Ages. It lacks the ingredients necessary to assimilate, integrate, and intermarry large numbers of newcomers each year: There is no dynamic and fluid economy, no confidence in its own values, no belief that class and race are incidental, not essential, to one’s persona, no courage to assume that an immigrant made a choice to leave a worse place for a better one. And all this is in the context of a class-bound hierarchy masked and excused by boutique leftism.

Naturally, then, Europeans are unable to understand why a young Libyan came to Europe in the first place, and why apparently under no circumstances does he wish to return home. Specifically, Europeans — for a variety of 20th-century historical and cultural reasons — often are either ignorant of who they are or terrified about expressing their identities in any concrete and positive fashion. The result is that Europe cannot impose on a would-be newcomer any notion that consensual government is superior to the anarchy and theocracy of the Middle East, that having individual rights trumps being subjects of a dictator, that personal freedom is a better choice than statist tyranny, that protection of private property is a key to economic growth whereas law by fiat is not, and that independent judiciaries do not run like Sharia courts. It most certainly cannot ask of immigrants upon arrival that they either follow the laws of a society that originally made Europe attractive to them, or return home to live under a system that they apparently rejected. I omit for obvious reasons that few present-day Europeans believe that Christianity is much different from Islam, and apparently thus assume that terrorists might just as well be Christians.

Even worse is the European notion of medieval penance: Because one in the concrete present apparently wants little to do with a Moroccan second-generation ghetto dweller, he fabricates abstract leftist bromides to square the circle of hypocrisy and assuage his guilt — sort of like Hillary Clinton or Mark Zuckerberg calling for perennial open borders to justify their Wall Street–funded luxury and tony apartheid existence.

In Europe, immigrants are political tools of the Left. The rapid influx of vast numbers of unassimilated, uneducated, poor, and often illegal newcomers may violate every rule of successful immigration policy. Yet the onrush does serve the purposes of the statist, who demagogues for an instantaneous equality of result. Bloc voters, constituents of bigger government, needy recipients of state largesse, and perennial whiners about inequality are all fodder for European multicultural leftists, who always seek arguments for more of themselves.

So unassimilated poor immigrants from the former Third World become easy proof that inequality and unfairness are still here and must be addressed with someone else’s money — as if France has failed because it did not make an immigrant born in Algeria a good French socialist restaurant owner in 20 years.

The same phenomenon is with us in the United States. Without open borders, the Democrats would have had to explain to Americans how and why more taxes, larger government, more subsidies, less personal freedom, racial separatism, ethnic chauvinism, and a smaller military make them more prosperous and secure. Yet importing the poor and the uneducated expands the Democratic constituency. The Democrats logically fear measured, meritocratic, and racially and religiously blind legal immigration of those who want to come to America to seek freedom from statism. If a poor Oaxacan, who crossed into the U.S. three years ago — without education, legality, or knowledge of English — does not have a good car, adequate living space, and federalized health care, then the Koch brothers, Wall Street, Fox News, or the Chamber of Commerce — fill in the blank — is to blame, and legions of progressives are available to be hired out to redress such social injustice.

The Western therapeutic mindset, which maintains that impoverished immigrants should instantly have what their hosts have always had, trumps the tragic view: that it is risky, dangerous, and sometimes unwise to leave one’s home for a completely alien world, in which sacrifice and self-reliance alone can make the gamble worthwhile — usually for a second generation not yet born.

Demography is Europe’s bane. One engine of unchecked immigration has been the need for more bodies to do the sorts of tasks that Europeans feel are no longer becoming of Europeans. Demographic implosion is an old and trite observation; but more curious is the reason why Europe is shrinking — the classic and primary symptom of a civilization in rapid decline.

Europeans are not having children for lots of reasons. A static and fossilized economy without much growth gives little hope to a 20-something European that he or she can get a good job, buy a home, have three children, and provide for those offspring lives with unlimited choices. Instead, the young European bides his time, satisfying his appetites, as a perpetual adolescent who lives in his parents’ flat, seeks to milk the system, and waits for someone to die at the tribal government bureau. After a lost decade, one hopes to hook up with some like soul in her or his late thirties. The last eight years in the U.S. have seen an acceleration of the Europeanization of America’s youth.

Socialism also insidiously takes responsibility away from the individual and transfers it to the anonymous, but well-funded, state. The ancient Greek idea that one changes one’s children’s diapers so that one day they can change his is considered Neanderthal or just crudely utilitarian. Why seek children and the honor of raising and protecting them when the state can provide all without the bother and direct expense? Why have a family or invest for the future, when the state promises a pleasant and politically correct old-age home?

Without a Second Amendment or much of a defense budget, Europeans not only divert capital to enervating social programs, but also have sacrificed any confidence in muscular self-protection, individual or collective.

Even postmodern nations remain collections of individuals. A state that will not or cannot protect its own interests is simply a reflection of millions of dead souls that do not believe in risking anything to ensure that they are safe — including their own persons and those of their family. Finally, Europe is Petronius’s Croton. It does not believe in any transcendence as reified by children or religion. If there is nothing but the here and now, then why invest one’s energy in children who live on after one dies? Like atheism, childlessness reflects the assumption that ego-driven rationalism and satisfaction of the appetites are all there is and all that there ever will be.

Europe’s perfect storm is upon us. A shrinking, statist, and agnostic society that does not believe in transcendence, either familial or religious, is now in a war with near neighbors of a very different sort. In the Middle East, the fundamentalists are growing in numbers, and they most certainly do believe that their own lives are nothing in comparison to the Phoenix-like resurrection of their Caliphate and the sensual pleasures in the hereafter that will reward their martial sacrifices in the here and now. Of all the many reasons why immigrants to Europe so often dislike their generous hosts, the simplest may be because they so easily can.

Even H. G. Wells could not dream up any better harvest of Eloi by Morlocks, and it would take another St. Jerome (“All were born in captivity and siege, and do not desire the liberty they never knew. Who could believe this?”) to chronicle the Western tragedy.

As a general rule, whatever Europe is now doing, we should do the opposite — for our very survival in an increasingly scary world.

Article Link to the National Review:

The Real U.S.-China Challenge: A Showdown in Cyberspace?

"Washington appears intent on trying to strengthen deterrence in cyberspace—to convince potential adversaries that the United States can over time attribute attacks..."

By Adam Segal
The National Interest
March 27, 2016

Late last Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that Su Bin, a Chinese national living in Canada, had plead guilty [4] to “participating in a years-long conspiracy to hack into the computer networks of major U.S. defense contractors, steal sensitive military and export-controlled data and send the stolen data to China.” Over several years, under Su’s direction, two hackers stole some 630,000 files from Boeing [5] related to the C-17 military transport aircraft as well as data from the F-35 and F-22 fighter jets. The information included detailed drawings; measurements of the wings, fuselage, and other parts; outlines of the pipeline and electric wiring systems; and flight test data.

Su’s conspirators remain unidentified and at large. The 2014 indictment refers to the co-conspirators as “affiliated with multiple organizations and entities.” The plea announcement refers to them as “two persons in China” and says nothing more about them. But in documents submitted as part of Su’s extradition hearing, the U.S. government identified them as People’s Liberation Army (PLA) hackers. The documents included intercepted emails with digital images attached that showed military IDs with name, rank, military unit, and date of birth.

Still unknown is whether Su and the hackers operated on their own or were directed by Chinese government officials. Were they motivated by profit, patriotism, or some combination of the two? Much of the correspondence makes the hackers sound like PLA freelancers. Marketing themselves, they tell Su they were involved in previous attacks on defense industries as well as Tibetan and pro-democracy activists—targets with no commercial value but of interest to the government. In some emails, the hackers assure Su that the stolen files will not only give his aviation company, Lode Technologies, a competitive edge, but also help Beijing achieve its military modernization goals. Later Su warns the hackers about the size of the payout for their services, telling them that aviation companies are stingy.

Is the next step the indictment of the two hackers in China? Last week Admiral Michael Rogers, NSA director and head of U.S. Cyber Command, told the House Armed Service Committee [6] that despite President Xi Jinping’s September 2015 [7] pledge to halt cyber espionage, “cyber operations from China are still targeting and exploiting U.S. government, defense industry, academic, and private computer networks.” Indicting Su’s co-conspirators might be a relatively easy way of sending a signal to China. The United States has already apparently identified them, and it seems likely that Su has provided even more information.

Making the situation even more interesting, the United States will reportedly [8] indict about a half a dozen Iranian hackers for attacks on a New York dam and several banks in 2012 and 2013 (update since original post on CFR site: this has occurred [9]). No matter the short-term impact on U.S.-Iran and U.S.-China relations, Washington appears intent on trying to strengthen deterrence in cyberspace—to convince potential adversaries that the United States can over time attribute attacks and that there will be consequences for cyberattacks.

Article Link to the National Interest:

Why Turkey's high unemployment rate may mean more terror attacks

The youth unemployment rate in Turkey’s conflict-torn southeast has shot up to nearly 25% in some areas, offering fertile ground for recruitment to Kurdish and Islamist terrorist groups.

By Zülfikar Doğan
March 29, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey — The rising wave of terrorism in Turkey’s big cities has sparked debates on the various aspects of the attacks, committed on what appears to be on a rotating basis by the Islamic State (IS) and the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a radical offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The discussion has focused on the reasons that made Turkey a playing field for terrorists and the security and intelligence failures behind the attacks. Another crucial topic, however, is the recruitment methods of terrorist groups and how young people are cajoled into becoming suicide bombers.

After the car bomb that the TAK detonated in the heart of Ankara on March 13, authorities identified the female suicide bomber as 23-year-old university student Seher Cagla Demir, which further fueled discussion on how young people are drawn to terrorist groups and the economic conditions that facilitate their recruitment.

According to March 23 figures by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), the country’s overall jobless rate stands at 10.3%, while unemployment is much higher at 18.5% in the 15-24 age group, with 22% among females and 16.5% among males. On a regional basis, unemployment is highest in the mainly Kurdish eastern and southeastern provinces, which, since last year, have been the theater of bloody urban clashes between the security forces and the PKK, coupled with terrorist attacks, lengthy round-the-clock curfews, massive destruction and civilian deaths. The area TUIK designates as TRC3, comprising the provinces of Mardin, Batman, Sirnak and Siirt, tops the unemployment list with 24.8%, followed by the TRC2 area, covering Diyarbakir and Sanliurfa, with 17.5%. Hence, rampant unemployment in the region — two times higher than the country’s overall — emerges as an important element driving recruitment to the PKK and IS, along with ethnic and political factors.

In an interview with Al-Monitor in September 2014, PKK commander Cemil Bayik said the number of new recruits had shot up despite settlement talks with Ankara at the time, exceeding the pace of recruitment in its heyday in the early 1990s. “There is a lot of alienation. The number of people joining our ranks last month has exceeded that in 1993. In 1993, around 1,000 people would join every month. Last month, 1,200 people joined,” he said. Government officials also confirmed the trend. Siirt Gov. Ahmet Aydin, for instance, publicly rang the alarm over dozens of young people joining the PKK from his province. Turkey’s top Kurdish political leader, Selahattin Demirtas, for his part, said the new recruitments were resulting from widespread Kurdish mistrust in the settlement process and urged Ankara to take confidence-building steps.

The fact that IS and TAK suicide bombers who have struck Suruc, Ankara and Istanbul since last year hailed from eastern and southeastern provinces speaks, among other things, of rising despair among young people in regions hit hard by poverty and unemployment.

Last summer, Turkish politician Umut Oran, the vice president of the Socialist International and a former lawmaker for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), conducted a field study in Adiyaman, which has emerged as one of IS’ main recruitment grounds in Turkey. He said the study found that money was a key element in the group’s strategy of luring jobless youths to its ranks. Locals told Oran that new members received a $6,000 bonus upon recruitment and then monthly salaries of up to $1,200, which are quite lucrative sums both in terms of the high poverty levels in the southeast and Turkey’s general economic conditions.

Ahmet Said Yayla, a scholar at Sanliurfa’s Harran University, estimates that some 5,000 Turkish nationals have joined armed groups in Syria, including 1,200 in IS ranks, stressing that material benefits played an important role in the recruitment process along with cross-border kinship links.

In early February, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu unveiled a "master plan" for the southeast, which included some political and social measures but focused mainly on economic steps to create jobs and resuscitate local economies, including the postponement of debt repayment and new loans for shopkeepers, farmers and industrialists. However, almost two months on, the government has yet to take action on the plan, while clashes, curfews and devastating security operations continue in the region.

In earlier measures designed to assist young people, the government announced special loans for young entrepreneurs and financial aid for those who get married, including state funding for a savings scheme known as a “dowry account.”

Critics, however, say such measures are unrealistic and superficial given the rampant unemployment among young people. According to senior CHP member Erdogan Toprak, the army of jobless youths constitutes a “serious potential” of recruitment for terrorist groups, which the government could hardly stamp out with its current measures. “They are deluding young people with unrealistic promises like dowry accounts and marriage loans. With what money is a jobless youth supposed to open a dowry account and save money for three years? Doesn’t this amount to mocking the youth?” Toprak said in a statement earlier this month.

In its most recent step to create jobs for the young, the government drafted legislation to recruit 15,000 new police officers and authorize the Directorate General of Police to seek more if needed.

Cem Kilic, a professor of labor economics at Ankara’s Gazi University, notes that Turkey tops the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) list in terms of "idle youths" who are neither employed nor enrolled in any educational or training program. Over 31% of Turkish youths in the 15-19 age group fall into this category, more than double the OECD average. Kilic warns that the problem represents a time bomb ticking for a social explosion unless urgent measures are taken.

Article Link to Al-Monitor:

Tuesday, March 29, Morning Global Market Roundup: Asian shares slump as Yellen speech awaited


March 29, 2016

Asian shares struggled to find their footing on Tuesday and the dollar clawed back ground lost after downbeat U.S. economic data contributed to an uninspiring session on Wall Street.

European equities were expected to open around 0.5 percent higher on Tuesday from their close on Thursday before the long Easter holiday weekend, said spreadbetter IG.

Investors awaited Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech at 1620 GMT for fresh signals on the outlook for U.S. interest rate hikes, after a chorus of hawkish comments from other Fed officials.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS slipped about 0.3 percent. Australian shares finished about 1.6 percent lower, in their first day of trade following the holiday weekend.

China's blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 was down 0.84 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC lost 1.1 percent.

"Once bitten, twice shy. Investors burnt by last year's market crash are still too scared to enter the market, which is why we see a trading pattern of quick profit-taking," said Yang Hai, analyst at Kaiyuan Securities Co.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 ended down 0.2 percent as the Japanese fiscal year draws to a close on Thursday, with the mood not helped by mixed economic data released before the market opened.

Japanese household spending rose 1.2 percent in February from a year earlier in price-adjusted real terms, in contrast with the median forecast for a 1.5 percent fall, partly because of the extra Leap Year day. But the country's jobless rate inched up to 3.3 percent, and retail sales fell short.

U.S. data released on Monday also showed signs of weakness, with consumer spending barely rising last month and inflation retreating. That suggested the Federal Reserve could remain cautious about raising interest rates this year even as the labour market rapidly tightens.

Against the yen, the dollar edged up about 0.1 percent to 113.61 yen JPY=, though below its session high of 113.74. The euro was also steady at $1.1189 EUR=.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of rivals, added about 0.1 percent to 96.066 .DXY.

Speculation of more monetary stimulus and talk that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might delay an unpopular sales tax hike and call a snap election kept the yen under pressure, though Abe insisted on Tuesday that neither option was planned.

Despite the divergence in monetary policy expectations, with the Fed still seen on track to hike rates this year and the Bank of Japan expected to take additional stimulus steps, the yen remained hamstrung by uncertainty over whether the BOJ will cut interest rates deeper into negative territory.

"We're still experiencing the hangover from the BOJ's negative interest rate policy, which is driving a lot of safe-haven flows," said Jennifer Vail, head of fixed-income research at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon.

"The market is waiting to see if a further move into negative territory is going to be part of policymakers' toolbox," she said.

Crude oil extended overnight losses, as analysts forecast another rise to record levels for U.S. crude stockpiles. Brent LCOc1 was down 0.9 percent at $39.91 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 fell 0.8 percent to $39.09. [O/R]

Gold dipped slightly on Tuesday, but held above a one-month low on a softer dollar and weak U.S. economic data that dented expectations of an immediate hike in U.S. interest rates.

Spot gold XAU= was down 0.2 percent at $1,218.55 an ounce, holding above a one-month low as the weak U.S. data dented expectations of an immediate hike in U.S. interest rates.

Article Link to Reuters:

EgyptAir plane hijacked to Cyprus, most passengers freed


March 29, 2016

A man thought to be strapped with explosives hijacked an Egyptian plane on a flight between Alexandria and Cairo on Tuesday and forced it to land in Cyprus, Egyptian officials said.

After the EgyptAir plane landed at Larnaca airport, the hijacker released all the people onboard except five foreign passengers and the crew, EgyptAir said.

About 60 people, including seven crew, had been onboard, Egyptian and Cypriot officials said.

"The negotiations with the hijacker have resulted in the release of all the plane passengers with the exception of the crew and five foreigners," the airline said in a statement.

Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry said the plane's pilot, Omar al-Gammal, had informed authorities that he was threatened by a passenger wearing a suicide explosives belt and forced him to land in Larnaca.

A Cyprus Foreign Ministry official said he could not confirm the man was rigged with explosives. The hijacking occurred in Cyprus's flight information region.

The plane was an Airbus 320, Egypt's aviation ministry said.

Egyptian state media named the hijacker as Ibrahim Samaha, an Egyptian, but gave no other details about him.

Passengers on the plane included eight Britons and 10 Americans, three security sources at Alexandria airport said.

Israel scrambled warplanes in its airspace as a precaution in response to the hijacking, according to an Israeli military source.

Egypt's vital tourism industry was already reeling from the crash of a Russian passenger plane in the Sinai in late October.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said it was brought down by a terrorist attack. Islamic State has said it planted a bomb on board, killing all 224 people on board.

Cyprus has seen little militant activity for decades, despite its proximity to the Middle East.

A botched attempt by Egyptian commandos to storm a hijacked airliner at Larnaca airport led to the disruption of diplomatic relations between Cyprus and Egypt in 1978.

In 1988, a Kuwaiti airliner which had been hijacked from Bangkok to Kuwait in a 16-day siege had a stopover in Larnaca, where two hostages were killed.

Article Link to Reuters: