Friday, April 8, 2016

That was likely the easiest 8-10% Intraday gain in 15 minutes that you could ever make on SUNE -- Sell it $.41; +/- .0125

SUNE should rebound nicely off the morning low -- Buy it @ $.35; +/- .02

The Secret GOP Movement to Draft General James Mattis for President

Gen. James Mattis doesn’t necessarily want to be president—but that’s not stopping a group of billionaire donors from hatching a plan to get him there.

By Tim Mak
The Daily Beast
April 8, 2016

An anonymous group of conservative billionaires are ready to place their bets on a man dubbed ‘Mad Dog,’ hoping to draft him into the presidential race to confront Donald Trump.

Think of it as a Plan B should Trump be nominated by the Republican Party in Cleveland: swing behind retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis and press him into service yet again as a third-party candidate.

Mattis is the former commander of Central Command, which includes the strife-afflicted conflict zones of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, and has developed a reputation among troops as a general officer who cares about the little guy. This reputation blossomed into the political during the 2012 presidential contest, a Marine Corps veteran started an online campaign to write-in Mattis on presidential ballots—it ultimately lacked the backing to take off.

But this situation involves far bigger players: close to a dozen influential donors—involving politically-involved billionaires with deep pockets and conservative leanings—are ready to put their resources behind Mattis. At their request, a small group of political operatives have taken the first steps in the strategic legwork needed for a bid: a package of six strategic memos outlining how Mattis could win the race, in hopes of coaxing him in.

The general has received the package of memos, according to two individuals involved with the project.

Mattis, who is also nicknamed the ‘warrior monk’ for his contemplative devotion to the military arts, would be a fallback option for anti-Trump forces. But since the next series of GOP nomination contests heavily favor Trump, this is not exactly a fantasy scenario.

“Everyone is hoping that Ted Cruz pulls it out, but I think a great deal of Republicans would rally behind an American hero if the choice is between Mattis and Trump,” said John Noonan, a former Jeb Bush aide now involved in the project to draft Mattis.

“He’s a man of character and integrity. He’s given his life to his country. How do you ask someone like that to leap headfirst into this toxic mud-puddle of a race? It’s damn hard. But Trump is a fascist lunatic and Hillary has one foot in a jail cell. That means the lunatic can win. I’d be first in line to plead with the General to come save America,” Noonan added.

The strategy would not be for Mattis to win, at least at first—the operatives behind this potential bid would only be seeking to deny Trump and Clinton the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the general election outright. And there is also the incredible logistical challenge of getting Mattis on the ballot in a large number of states.

“The process is actually quite simple, but it’s difficult,” one of the strategists concedes in a memo, and the chances of Mattis winning the White House outright as a third-party candidate are “very low.” But if the retired military officer could win several states won by President Obama in 2012, they might be able to block Clinton, thus forcing the incoming House of Representatives to make a decision on the next president of the United States.

With the House split, the strategists reason, Mattis could be the consensus choice.

“The theme of 2016 is ‘all bets are off’ and this is a cycle where the unexpected has become the defining characteristic of this election,” said strategist Rick Wilson, who is also involved in the project,. “In a moment when American politics on the left and right has been upended, and where the frontrunners of both parties are compromised, the time may be upon us where a uniquely qualified, and uniquely credible third-party alternative like General Mattis can take the stage.”

Another limiting factor is Mattis himself, who is disinclined to run. These strategists hope he could change his mind if he were to feel compelled to serve his country.

Those close to him are skeptical that his mind could be changed.

“It is difficult—if not impossible—to see him accepting being drafted,” said a source close to Mattis.

Still, Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol poured fuel onto the fire February 22, after Trump victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Speaking at a fundraiser for the Hoover Institute, where Mattis is a visiting fellow, Kristol suggested—perhaps jokingly—that the former four-star general might be conscripted into the race.

“No way!” shouted back a jocular Mattis, from the audience.

Mattis, who declined to speak with The Daily Beast, has previously suggested that he could not endure the political correctness required to be a contender for the White House. But given Trump’s myriad controversies, this may not be a problem this year.

“I’ve lived a very colorful life and I’ve said some things,” Mattis told an audience last year, according to the Marine Corps Times. “But not once have I taken them back, and I’ve never apologized for them—and I won’t. I like the enemy knowing there are a few guys like me around.”

The pro-Mattis donors, who want to stay anonymous for the time being, have assembled a core group of seven political operatives, led by Joel Searby, a Republican consultant based in Florida. The group of strategists also includes lead attorney Mohammad Jazil; ballot access specialist Matthew Sawyer; and former George W. Bush pollster Jan Lohuizen, along with a finance team and a “top firm” that has been secured to lead the ballot access petition gathering, members of the team tell The Daily Beast.

Wilson and Noonan co-authored a memo on how Mattis might capitalize on the current media environment, arguing that Trump’s “fake-macho act falls apart” before a bona fide American hero like Mattis. The general’s overall bearing “immediately blows a hole into the central narrative of Trump: his toughness,” they argue in a memo obtained by The Daily Beast. “[A]nd the drama of watching it fall apart under fire would be amazing television.”

Comparing him to President Dwight Eisenhower, the memo concludes that Mattis has “all the iconoclastic, authentic style of non-politician Trump—and all the serious government service credibility of Hillary Clinton.”

Some conservatives, disgusted with Trump’s candidacy, have already warmed to the idea of a run by Mattis—including conservative commentators Erick Erickson and Kristol.

Kristol told The Daily Beast that he had “huge respect and admiration” for Mattis—and Gen. John Kelly, another high-ranking general.

“I don’t know whether they’re ideally suited for the presidency,” he said. “But I do know they’re a hell of a lot more suited for it than Donald Trump,”.

Article Link to the Daily Beast:

Friday, April 8, Morning Global Market Roundup: Asian shares fall, while Japan's gain as brakes applied to strong yen

By Nichola Saminather and Hideyuki Sano
April 8, 2016

Most Asian shares fell to three-week lows on Friday, but Japan bucked the trend after its finance minister pledged to guard against strong moves in the yen in either direction.

While that led to a slight retreat in the yen from a 17-month high against the dollar, the Japanese currency is still headed for weekly gains against its major counterparts.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.2 percent, heading for a weekly drop of 1.5 percent.

European equities look set to fare better, with financial spreadbetters expecting Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE to open about 0.4 percent higher, Germany's DAX .GDAXI to rise 0.7 percent, and France's CAC 40 .FCHI to gain 0.1 percent.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 erased earlier losses after Finance Minister Taro Aso said the government would take steps to counter "one-sided" moves in the yen in either direction.

The yen's JPY= strength is regarded as negative for Japan's big exporting firms, and after earlier falling to near-two-month lows ion strong yen buying, the Nikkei rose 1.2 percent, leaving it with losses of 1.4 percent for the week.

"Not only is (the yen's rise) bad for Japanese growth but it can also be seen as a negative sign for the global economy to the extent that it may signal unwinding carry trades and hence less risk taking in capital flows," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney, wrote in a note.

On the other hand, "the higher the yen goes the greater the pressure on the Bank of Japan to undertake more monetary stimulus."

The yen slipped to 108.83, leaving it set for a weekly gain of 2.5 percent, having strengthened to 107.67 to the dollar on Thursday, its highest since October 2014.

China Data Looms

The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was up about 0.1 percent at 94.60, poised for a flat weekly performance.

The euro EUR= last fetched $1.1363, and was set to end the week up 0.2 percent, having hit a six-month high of $1.1454 on Thursday.

On the other hand, commodity-linked currencies and many emerging economy currencies stepped back from recent multi-month highs as a risk-averse mood took hold on investors.

The Australian dollar traded at $0.7541 AUD=D4, having fallen 1.3 percent on Thursday.

Chinese stocks also retreated ahead of a slew of economic data for March due over the next week, including money supply, new lending and inflation.

The Shanghai Composite index .SSEC slid 0.7 percent, and was poised for a similar drop for the week. The CSI 300 .CSI300 was down 0.6 percent, and set for a 1 percent weekly decline. Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI slipped 0.4 percent, and was headed for a 1.5-percent loss for the week.

Bank shares led losses in Europe and the U.S. markets on Thursday, amid talk of more layoffs and cutbacks planned by Europe's major lenders as they struggle with zero rates.

The U.S. S&P 500 Index .SPX lost 1.2 percent, with financial shares .SPSY falling 1.9 percent. In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.8 percent, hurt by a drop of more than 2 percent in financials.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield was last trading at 1.7132, having fallen to a six-week low of 1.685 percent on Thursday.

U.S. interest rate futures maintained their firmness, pricing in a less than 20 percent chance of a rate hike in June <0>.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in a conversation with former Fed chairmen on Thursday, said the U.S. economy is on a solid course and still on track to warrant further interest rate hikes.

In the commodities market, copper CMCU3 last traded at $4,666 a tonne, having suffered its biggest fall in more than six months on Thursday, when it slumped 2.8 percent to a six-week low of $4,631 a tonne.

China may be about to shock the global copper market by unleashing some of its stockpiles of the metal, which are near record highs, on to the global market.

Oil prices rose on Friday after firm economic indicators from the U.S. and Germany implied support for fuel demand, but analysts warned another downturn could be on the way due to ongoing oversupply.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures climbed 1.7 percent to $40.10 per barrel, and was set for an increase of 3.7 percent on the week. U.S. crude advanced 2.2 percent to $38.08, on track for a 3.5 percent weekly gain.

Article Link to Reuters:

World War Three may have already begun in Iraq and Syria

By Peter Van Buren
April 7, 2016

The recent death of a Marine in Iraq exposed the fact the United States set up a firebase there, which in turn exposed the fact the Pentagon misrepresented the number of American personnel in Iraq by as many as 2,000. It appears a second firebase exists, set up on the grounds of one of America’s largest installations in the last Iraq war. Special operations forces range across the landscape. The Pentagon is planning for even more troops. There can be no more wordplay: America now has boots on the ground in Iraq.

The regional picture is dismal. In Syria, militias backed by the Central Intelligence Agency are fighting those backed by the Pentagon. British, Jordanian and American special forces are fighting various enemies in Libya, which, as a failed state, is little more than a nascent Iraq likely to metastasize in its neighbors.

But Iraq remains the center of what Jordanian King Abdullah now refers to as the Third World War. It is where Islamic State was birthed, and where the United States seems to be digging in for the long haul.

Though arguably the story of Islamic State, Iraq and the United States can be traced to the lazy division of the Ottoman Empire after World War One, things truly popped out of place in 2003, when the U.S. invasion of Iraq unleashed the forces now playing out across the Middle East. The garbled post-invasion strategy installed a Shi’ite-dominated, Iranian-supported government in Baghdad, with limited Sunni buy-in.

Sectarian fighting and central-government corruption favoring the Shi’ites drove non-ideologues without jobs, and religious zealots with an agenda, together. Clumsy policy cemented the relationship. A senior Islamic State commander explained that the prison at Camp Bucca, operated by the United States, was directly responsible for the rise of the violent, theocratic state inside the divided, but then still largely secular Iraq. “It made it all; it built our ideology,” he said. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else.” So, first came al Qaeda in Iraq, followed by its successor, Islamic State.

Fast-forward through about a year and half of Washington fear-mongering (that caliphate, those lone wolves), as well as the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, and America’s re-entry into Iraq moved quickly from a Yazidi rescue mission to advisors to air power to commandos to today’s boots on the ground.

Even if Islamic State is destroyed (as every American leader or potential leader has promised), the problems in Iraq, Syria and virtually everywhere else in the Middle East would still plague the rest of the world. Islamic State is a response, and its absence would only leave a void to be filled by something else. The root problem is the disruption of the balance of power in the Middle East, brought on by a couple of regime changes too many.

The primary forces that the United States are supporting to attack Islamic State in Iraq’s Sunni territories are Shi’ite militias. Though they have been given a new name — Popular Mobilization Units — that does not change who they are. One particularly horrifying example: A Shi’ite fighter asked his Instagram viewers to vote on whether or not he should execute a Sunni prisoner.

Washington clings to the hope that the militias and the U.S. administration are united against a common foe – the bad Sunnis in Islamic State. The Iranians and their allies in Baghdad, who are also supporting many of the same militias, are more likely to see this is as a war against the Sunnis in general.

As for any sort of brokered settlement among the non-Islamic State actors in Iraq, if 170,000 American troops could not accomplish that in almost nine years of trying, retrying it on a tighter timetable with fewer resources is highly unlikely to work. It is unclear what solutions the United States has left to peddle anyway, or with what credibility it would sell them, but many groups will play along to gain access to American military power for their own ends.

With no change on the horizon, it seems likely that President Barack Obama’s successor will be inheriting, in the words of one commentator, a “bold new decade-old strategy” that relies on enormous expenditures for minimal gains. The question that needs to be asked is: If war in Iraq didn’t work last time, why will it work this time?

Article Link to Reuters:

Private Collectors Fuel Demand For Looted Mideast Antiquities

Archaeological experts say social dislocation and terrorism are increasing the ability of organized gangs to traffic artifacts to clients in Europe, Asia and the United States.

By Barbara Slavin
April 7, 2016

While world attention focuses on the recent liberation of Palmyra and devastation the Islamic State caused to that ancient site in Syria during a lengthy occupation, looting and trafficking of antiquities is on the rise throughout the Middle East.

Social dislocation and economic crises in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings have increased the incentive for ordinary people to pilfer precious artifacts in Egypt, Yemen and Libya. At the same time, groups such as IS and al-Qaeda are profiting from trafficking these items through organized networks primarily to private collectors in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Monica Hanna, an Egyptian archaeologist, told a Washington think tank via Skype on April 7 that the security crisis accompanying the 2011 revolution against President Hosni Mubarak triggered a “gold digging fever in Egypt.” While the situation has improved somewhat, she said, archaeological sites are still not under control.

Organized gangs are looking for specific types of objects that run the gamut from pre-dynastic treasures to Coptic manuscripts, Islamic art and pieces from the era of the 19th century Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali, she said.

“Each time period has its own client,” Hanna told the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Much of the loot winds up in Turkey en route to Europe and the United States, or in the case of Islamic art, the Persian Gulf states, she said.

In a recent interview with Al-Monitor, Egypt’s former minister of antiquities, Zahi Hawass, also blamed “security turmoil in the aftermath of the January 25 [2011] revolution” for the explosion in illegal excavation in Egypt. In addition, Hawass cited the decline of tourism, which he said had cut funding to government antiquities bodies for protection and development of museums and archaeological sites.

Experts fault the demand side of the equation and lax enforcement by Western countries of laws that bar trafficking in looted antiquities.

Tess Davis, executive director of the Antiquities Coalition, a Washington-based non-profit, noted that “the US has laws but we need to use them.” Too often, she said, antiquities’ trafficking is treated as “a victimless white-collar crime if it is treated as a crime at all. This did not start with Daesh [IS] and they won’t be the last,” she said.

IS looting of artifacts in Syria and Iraq has become a major source of income for the terrorist group and has thus attracted interest from anti-terrorism authorities. The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution more than a year ago calling upon all countries to block Syrian antiquities, Davis said, but the US Congress has yet to pass implementing legislation.

She urged the Barack Obama administration to use its executive authority in the meantime to impose emergency import restrictions and to treat antiquities trafficking that originates with IS as a terrorist financing crime, not just a crime against cultural heritage.

She also praised authorities in New York City who have been using state laws to go after dealers in illegal cultural goods. During a recent Asia Week event in New York, Davis said, police conducted a daily raid on auction houses and dealers to ferret out trafficked items before they could be sold.

Alexander Nagel, a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, told the think tank audience that he has been working with US customs and immigration authorities to train them in spotting illegally trafficked antiquities. One positive development, he said, has been the creation of so-called “red lists” of artifacts belonging to major archaeological sites in the Middle East.

Davis said the advent of cellphone aps such as Snapchat and Instagram have helped experts document looting at Palmyra and other major venues. “Statues looted from Palmyra wound up at an auction at Raqqa” recently, she said, and were identified through these digital means.

Most of the illegal items are bound for collections that will not be viewed publicly for a long time, if ever. One challenge, Hanna said, is to raise awareness among those purchasing these pieces that “it is uncool to buy antiquities looted from the Middle East.”

Auction houses also need to be more vigilant, the experts said, and make sure that items are acquired from legitimate vendors and approved for export by government authorities when possible.

Given the degree of death and destruction in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, policing archaeological sites may seem like a minor priority.

Iris Gerlach, an expert on Yemeni and Ethiopian antiquities, said it is vital to raise awareness among local populations that they are losing their heritage by allowing artifacts to be “wrenched from the ground” and divorced from their historical context.

Ultimately, however, it will be difficult to stop the trade when local people have few other options and a single page of a medieval Quran can fetch $25,000, Nagel said.

Article Link to Al-Monitor:

Obama Warns Dems Against 'Tea Party mentality'

By Jordan Fabian 
The Hill
April 7, 2016

President Obama on Thursday warned Democrats against adopting a “Tea Party mentality” that could lead to deep divisions within the party and harm its chances of winning national elections.

Following the rise of the Tea Party and Donald Trump, Obama said infighting within the Republican Party is much worse than it is on the Democratic side.

But he urged his party’s voters to be mindful of that danger in the midst of a heated primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

“The thing Democrats have to guard against is going in the direction that the Republicans are much further along on, and that is this sense 'we are just going to get our way, and if we don’t, then we’ll cannibalize our own, kick them out and try again,' ” he said at a town-hall meeting with law students in Chicago.

In that scenario, Democrats could “stake out positions so extreme, they alienate the broad public,” Obama added. “I don’t see that being where the Democrats go, but it’s always something we have to pay attention to.”

Obama’s comments come amid a major dustup between Clinton and Sanders that has Democrats concerned about keeping their party unified.

Sanders on Wednesday accused Clinton of being not “qualified” to serve as president because of her willingness to use a super-PAC and support for the Iraq War and free trade agreements.

The president did not name Clinton or Sanders. But he offered a staunch defense of his incrementalist view of politics, which has sometimes come under fire from the Vermont senator.

"That’s how change generally happens,” he said, citing the example of his signature healthcare law.

“It’s not perfect. There is no public option, not single-payer,” he said. “If I was designing a system from scratch, it would have been more elegant. But that’s not what was possible in our democracy."

The president also sought to downplay the divisions between Clinton and Sanders.

He said the debate among Democrats is “is a little bit more about means, less about ends,” noting that both candidates broadly agree on issues like the need for universal healthcare and combating climate change.

Obama said he understood the populist sentiment that has driven Sanders’s candidacy. But he said the answer is not to abandon a compromise approach.

“The danger, whether for Democrats or Republicans, is in a closed-loop system where everybody is just listening to the people who agree with them,” he said.

“And that anybody who suggests there is another point of view ... well, then you must be a sellout or you must be corrupted or you must be on the take or what have you," he added. "That is not, I think, useful.”

Obama could be a unifying figure for Democrats in this fall's election.

His approval ratings are at 50 percent or higher in most opinion polls, making him the most popular figure in his party.

But the ongoing primary battle has kept Obama officially off the campaign trail, though he has used his bully pulpit to go after Trump and other GOP candidates.

In speaking to Democrats, the president played the role of party elder. He said has seen this type of mentality bubbling up among Democrats throughout his presidency and is well versed in home harmful it can be.

“A lot of Democrats supported me and still support me got frustrated is because a bunch of the country doesn’t agree with me or them and they have votes too. And they elect members of Congress. That’s how our democracy works," Obama said.

“If you don’t get everything you want, it’s not always because the person you elected sold you out," he continued. "It may just be because in our system, you end up taking half loaves."

Obama was speaking at an event at the University of Chicago Law School where he urged Senate Republicans to take up the nomination of his Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Article Link to the Hill:

Muslims Feel the Bern in New York

Why are Muslims seemingly rallying to the Jewish candidate? Because this is America, baby—and because he calls them friends, not terrorists.

By Dean Obeidallah
The Daily Beast
April 8, 2016

It’s official: Muslims in New York are feelin’ the Bern! Everywhere I look my Muslim friends are urging the 400,000-plus Muslim Americans in the Big Apple to vote Bernie.

The Muslim love fest for Bernie may surprise some, but I saw it building. First, Sanders handily won Dearborn, Michigan last month, a city with a very sizable Muslim population. (It’s the type of place Ted Cruz would want patrolled.) Then I saw an explosion of support on social media by Muslims for Sanders.

And recently I have spoken at Muslim events across the country, from professional organizations to colleges, and the crowds there cheered wildly when I asked if they liked Sanders. By the way if you ever want to hear 500 Muslim Americans in a room go eerily silent, ask if any support Cruz. And if you want to hear that same room burst into laughter, ask if any support Trump. (Although stunningly there are a few Muslim Trump-lovers.)

But now with New York’s April 19 primary looming, the Muslims in Gotham City have really sprung into action. There are countless pleas on social media by New York Muslims urging others in the community to feel the Bern come primary day. And just yesterday I received an email from a Muslim American doctor imploring people to “please join the revolution.” Typically a Muslim emailing people to “join the revolution” could result in a visit by the FBI. But the doctor’s email invited people to volunteer in New York on the Sanders campaign.

So why are Muslims in New York (and beyond) feeling the Bern? Overall, it’s the same reasons he’s attracting people in other communities, although there’s one unique issue noted by many Muslims.

Haroon Moghul, a writer based in the Big Apple, explained that he’s feeling the Bern because of Sander’s progressive stands on issues like “race, the economy, and social justice.”

Linda Sarsour, a well-known New York City Muslim American activist and a big Bernie supporter, chalks up Sanders appeal to the fact that “he has intentionally reached out to Muslim communities in many cities.” She added, “We went from Muslim women in hijabis being removed from camera view at rallies to introducing competitive candidates in front of thousands of voters.”

Sarsour, who recently introduced Sanders at packed rally in her native Brooklyn, was referring to the 2008 incident when then-candidate Barack Obama’s campaign removed two Muslim women wearing hijabs from sitting behind the podium apparently because they didn’t want Obama to appear to be too cozy with Muslims.

Even a New York Imam, Shamsi Ali, is touting Sanders. (Cue Trump and Cruz supporters freaking out that a Muslim cleric would endorse a political candidate—to them, only right wing Christian ministers can do that.) Ali, who leads a mosque in Queens and is known for his interfaith work with Russell Simmons and Rabbi Marc Schneier, commented, “I support Bernie because his personality is based on truth, honesty and inclusiveness.” Ali continued, “Sanders is a unifier who can bring Americans of all backgrounds together in a time that hate and divisiveness are so high.”

And apart from the feel-good reasons, Muslim Americans cite Sanders’s stands on key issues. Sarsour summed it up well, noting that Sanders has been fighting to reduce income equality for decades, opposed the Iraq War, and supports a “balanced approach to Palestine-Israel.”

That last issue is the one that cited more frequently by Muslims than typically raised by people outside our community. (But the Muslim community is far from monolithic, so it’s not a major concern to all.) Many Muslim friends noted Sanders’s statement on the Middle East conflict that he released in lieu of speaking at AIPAC in March. In that speech, Sanders expressed his strong commitment to Israel, noting that our nation has been and will always be committed to the principle that Israelis “have a right to live in peace and security.”

But then Sanders added something rarely seen in American politics. He spoke of the Palestinians as human beings, acknowledging their suffering and aspirations. Sanders poignantly noted, “You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.”

And beyond New York, Muslims are feeling the Bern in key upcoming primary states such as Pennsylvania and Maryland, as Ahmed Bedier, a long-time grass roots activist and founder of “Muslim Americans for Bernie Sanders” explained. Bedier, who has been volunteering on behalf of Sanders on the ground in various primary states, shared that Muslims consistently cite Sanders’s “embrace of Muslim Americans” as being a key to his success, along with his progressive stands on issues from the economy to foreign policy.

Now the bright side for Hillary Clinton is that she does have some very solid support in the Muslim community, including the endorsement of one of the two Muslim American members of Congress, Rep. Andre Carson. (D-Ind.) (The other Representative, Keith Ellison (D-MN), is feeling the Bern big time.)

And perhaps more importantly, the Muslims who aren’t supporting Clinton in the primary (with a few exceptions), will very likely vote for her over any of the GOP front-runners if she is the Democratic nominee. After all 70 percent of Muslims American now identify as Democrats, and only 11 percent as Republicans. (I know a few Muslim Republicans and they could use a hug.)

No one knows if Sanders will pull out the Democratic nomination. But he has already achieved a massive victory by inspiring so many Muslim Americans to get involved in politics by his embracing our community, as opposed to the GOP front-runner who uses every opportunity to fear monger at our expense. It’s the inclusive words of Sanders, not the divisive words of Trump, that represents what makes America truly great.

Article Link to the Daily Beast:

How Internal Division Could Shatter ISIS

Some jihadis are more equal than others.

The National Interest
April 8, 2016

In a March 25 Wall Street Journal article, Matt Bradley described the apparent spike in fighting between local and foreign ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria. One part of these tensions is due to the brutal rigors of fighting an insurgency, especially one that is gradually suffering losses on the battlefield in terms of blood, treasure and territory. But another part stems from the perception, according to Bradley, that foreign fighters are routinely treated better than the locals—given better positions and pay and viewed with greater esteem—and have little respect for local traditions and custom. Combined, these factors have triggered the ire and resentment of local ISIS members.

This raises two interesting points. First, the observation of divisions and violence within ISIS is real, and an underreported and under analyzed feature of Islamic State today. Second, news reports have indicated that the reverse of what Bradley reported is also true: that foreign fighters are often treated much worse than local fighters.

In some cases, foreign fighters, notably fighters from India, Pakistan and Africa, are considered to be less motivated than the Arab fighters, are treated as cannon fodder, placed on the front lines to endure the violence of war and even “tricked” into carrying out suicide bombings, so that more valued ISIS members don’t have to suffer such brutality. But there’s more. The promises of riches and luxury goods never materializes. They are forced into menial tasks, like cleaning toilets, making kebabs and acting as waterboys, or quasi-servants, for other, “real,” ISIS members. Their daily life is controlled and suppressed by ISIS leaders. These foreign fighters believe they are valued only in the sense that their allegiance to ISIS is useful as a propaganda tool. But, overall, many have felt used and abused by the leadership in ISIS. To quote Sir John Falstaff: they are only “good enough to toss; food for powder, food for powder.”

So what’s going on? What explains the discrepancies in the various accounts of how ISIS treats and interacts with local and foreign fighters? One useful way to cut into these questions is to take a page from social and political psychology and explore the topic of in-group and out-group dynamics. Fundamentally, the extant fissures within ISIS are a product of beliefs and perceptions about who really constitutes the core of ISIS. In short, who are the real members of ISIS and who are the phonies and pretenders? This is the crux of the problem.

The reality is that although some individuals who travel to Syria to join ISIS are technically and accurately inside the group, many aren't perceived as being truly "in-group": they are treated as outsiders with little standing.

The in-group markers include things like ethnicity and religion, of course. Sunni Arabs are prized commodities. But other factors, such as prior contact with ISIS members (especially senior leaders), military expertise and wealth, also matter a great deal. These factors enable new recruits to bring an integral value-added contribution to the group, in terms of skills and resources—crucial factors in general, but especially at this point, now that Islamic State’s finances are increasingly constrained and shrinking, its territory is suffering losses, and its leadership is under attack and losing key members.

We also know that women, regardless of ethnicity and nationality, are important to ISIS. They cook, clean and produce babies, and also, arguably more importantly, lure new male recruits to participate in the fight against ISIS’s various enemies. But as Mia Bloom, among others, has pointed out, women are routinely disappointed with their role and function within ISIS in Iraq and Syria—it’s not the paradise that their recruiters promised.

But there many other members who aren’t highly regarded by ISIS. Recruits from Southeast Asia and South Asia, first-time jihadis, the poor, and the militarily unskilled are typically seen as outsiders. They are lured and welcomed into the group, to be sure. But once there, things change: the friendliness and warmth, and the long list of promises, are nowhere to be found. In their place are hostility and violence. They aren’t trusted, and considered unmotivated, contributing little to ISIS’s military and ideological struggle. Therefore, they are treated horribly, both on and off the battlefield. Their experience isn’t a utopia within a Hobbesian world; rather, they exist in a Hobbesian society within a wider world that would mostly prefer to cooperate and live in peace with the people of Iraq and Syria.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. These exceptions include the fighters from Southeast and South Asia who have proven themselves in battle, such as the jihadis who were involved in Afghanistan back in the 1980s. But the majority of these experienced and dangerous fighters remained loyal to Al Qaeda thanks to their old personal connections. In fact, for these people, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, is a “child born just yesterday afternoon.”

So what we see, then, is in-group/out-group dynamics at work within a group that is already itself at war with an external out-group (the West, Shia Muslims, groups and countries who align with the Shia and the West, Middle East autocrats, and so on). The in-group/out-group dynamics within ISIS reflect those in which it sees itself participating on the world stage.

Our arguments help us to understand why terrorist groups are especially eager to demonstrate their jihadi bona fides. It is little surprise that terror cells in Indonesia and Malaysia, for example, are constantly plotting to inflict violence. It’s not just that they are ideologically extreme or murderous, though those things do matter. It’s also because they want ISIS headquarters—which usually has little regard for Southeast Asian ISIS members—to take them seriously. They want the recognition and prestige of being a recognized affiliate, thus elevating their status within the ISIS hierarchy, which can lead to more weapons, more training and more funding being funneled to their localities.

The arguments presented herein are also pertinent to real-world policy making. In particular, they can assist governments in their quest to put together and refine efficient counterterror programs. For instance, the knowledge that ISIS is, to a certain extent, waging an internal struggle against specific groups allows governments and their agencies to better tailor their propaganda war against Islamic State: it enables them to target specific populations potentially sympathetic to ISIS with sound logic and real-world evidence of their likely fate.

Article Link to the National Interest:

What If America Backs Out of the Iran Deal?

Scuttling the nuclear deal jeopardizes U.S. interests.

 By Saam Borhani
The National Interest
April 8, 2016

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, colloquially known in Washington as the Iran deal, was a monumental coup for American and global diplomacy. Years of negotiations involving seven countries with competing interests somehow succeeded in blocking the paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, while simultaneously dismantling a draconian sanctions regime. War was averted and commerce took the place of blockades. Up until the present, the world has seemed rather pleased with this trade-off. Europeans and Asians have parachuted into Tehran en masse, signing contracts to build airports, automobile factories and high-speed rail. The United States, after decades of blocking Wall Street from doing serious business with Iran, is poised to allow Boeing and GE to cash in on multibillion-dollar contracts. Even the Israelis, erstwhile foes of the Iran deal, seem resigned to the fact that the agreement has lessened the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Despite global optimism and a palpable sense of worldwide relief, the Iran deal is being challenged relentlessly in an American presidential election where diplomatic pragmatism is not known to be a vote getter. Republicans lambaste the deal as a foolhardy pact with an untrustworthy foe, complete with harsh rhetoric of “tearing up” the deal and fantastical vows to “renegotiate” the pact should they take the White House. Democrats, although keen to defend Obama’s legacy, seem to express their praise of the deal quietly, with enough room to quickly jettison support in the face of political expediency. As the Iran deal becomes a political football, its layered nuance and inherent compromises will likely become the target of opportunistic soundbites and cynical distortions. Amid such fluidity in America’s view of the Iran deal, it is worthwhile to examine whether a future American president can scuttle the agreement, how she or he could take action against it, and what the global repercussions of such an action would be.

As the Iran deal was being negotiated, many in Tehran fretted that it was not garnering bipartisan support in Washington. This led Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to declare that no future U.S. president would be so irresponsible to destroy American credibility and walk away from a multilateral agreement that Iran has not violated. Implicit in Zarif’s argument is the fact that a future U.S. president can, in fact, take actions that could destroy the Iran deal. Despite Republican bluster about a dramatic withdrawal from the deal, however, the more likely strategy for a future antideal White House would be to use nonnuclear disagreements to trigger U.S. action, designed to compel Iran not to live up to its nuclear commitments.

In Tehran’s view, such a trigger would be any American act that would prevent Iran from benefiting from the deal’s promised sanctions relief, thereby denying Iran any reason to comply with its own commitments. The wording of the nuclear deal itself, committing the U.S. to “make best efforts in good faith to sustain this [deal] and to prevent interference with the realization of the full benefit by Iran,” gives Tehran significant leverage to prevent future multilateral or secondary U.S. sanctions. The current missile and dollar disputes between the United States and Iran are vivid examples of the constraints that the deal places on the Obama administration. The type of American sanctions that can be levied on Iran because of its missile activities are limited in scope, because Iran’s missile activities are not violations of the Iran deal. Thus, any new missile sanctions must carefully avoid blocking the benefits that Iran gained under the nuclear deal.

Furthermore, despite American reluctance, the Obama administration seems set to loosen restrictions on Iran’s use of dollars in international transactions in order to live up to its commitment not to block promised sanctions relief. A future, antideal White House can easily use Iranian acts such as missile tests, threats against Israel or a host of other disputes to interfere with sanctions relief granted to Iran under the deal. The easiest and quickest avenues to do so would be to again curtail Iran’s use of the dollar in international transactions or to reimpose harsh unilateral sanctions that would overlap with the nuclear deal’s sanctions relief. Such actions would prompt Iran to renege on its own commitments under the nuclear deal, presumably leading to a collapse of the agreement.

Such a strategy could, however, easily lead an antideal administration to make horribly faulty calculations, ultimately harming the national interests of the United States in unpredictable ways. The standard belief amongst many in Washington is that a canceled nuclear deal would lead Iran to race toward the bomb, prompting the United States or Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. This scenario is largely dependent on a caricature of Iran, especially popular with those who oppose the nuclear deal, as an irrational actor—a sort of suicidal government. The reality of the Islamic establishment is that it is first and foremost concerned with self-preservation at all costs. Secondly, the Rouhani administration has largely succeeded in convincing the establishment that its survival depends on rapid economic development and foreign investment. Iran is also keenly aware that it lacks the ability to defend its nuclear sites against a determined aerial assault, and fears the socioeconomic impact of such an attack. Walking away from the deal and making a futile attempt to “break out” toward the bomb is not an viable option for Iran’s establishment.

An antideal White House’s attempts to bait Iran into noncompliance may backfire dramatically on the United States. Europe, likely unwilling to destroy lucrative business relations with Iran in the absence of a real Iranian violation of the nuclear deal, would stick to the accord in the absence of the United States. China and Russia, making most of the isolation of the American position, would help Iran neutralize any new unilateral actions taken by the United States. Iran, playing the victim card, could easily accuse the United States of noncompliance with an international agreement, urge the rest of the P5+1 to keep to the deal for the sake of peace and continue its commitments under the deal. Iran would largely continue to enjoy the fruits of the agreement, all while destroying an international consensus that was once able to sanction Iran, and painting the United States as defying the international community.

The long-term impact of a continuing Iran deal, without the United States, would be catastrophic for American interests worldwide. Inside Iran, the Rouhani administration is filled with U.S.-educated technocrats who have spent their careers chipping away at the establishment’s deep mistrust of the United States. An American president purposely sabotaging the Iran deal would set back Iranian proponents of d├ętente with the United States for generations. Such a repudiation by the United States would likely lead to a much more aggressive Iranian posture against American interests throughout the Middle East. Iran’s occasional and sometimes crucial cooperation with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan would end, making it harder to defeat or control dangerous militants. The Iranian middle class, comprised of millions who strongly pushed their government to accept the nuclear deal, will be left out in the cold and vulnerable to the entreaties of anti-American conservatives.

Even more ominously for U.S. interests, a new American president seen as sabotaging the Iran deal would result in major damage being inflicted upon the credibility of the nation’s diplomatic apparatus. Relations with Europe would be harmed if the United States reneges on its decision not to interfere with EU-Iran trade. Involved in huge projects worth billions of dollars in Iran, Europe may very well collectively decide to ignore U.S. pressures and extraterritorial sanctions, just as it did during the Clinton administration. Robbed of an international consensus against Iran, American calls for a new, aggressive posture against Iran would likely be futile, as it would risk Iran resuming its suspect activities. Past international agreements made with the United States would be called into question worldwide, out of fear of American backtracking. Future U.S. negotiating positions in trade talks, arms control agreements, multilateral summits and international organizations would be considerably weakened by a refusal to grant concessions to an American president, when a successor could easily overrule any progress.

There is a perception amongst detractors in the United States that the Iran deal is a creation of the Obama presidency. The fact is that it is a culmination of negotiations that spanned two American presidencies from two different parties, it has and will continue to heavily influence Iranian politics, and it affects political, social, economic and diplomatic issues on a global scale. Its intent was to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, but it has become about much more than Iranian nukes. The deal is a test case for high-stakes multilateral diplomacy designed to avoid war, for the efficacy of talking to historic enemies, for putting economic interests ahead of military rivalries and for the ability of the United States to maintain its leadership in the world. Any attempt to abrogate the deal by a future American president, assuming continued Iranian compliance, will have ramifications far beyond Iran’s nuclear file. The next president will quickly find out that none of these ramifications are good for the United States.

Article Link to the National Interest:

Mosul Easier Prospect Than Raqqa For Coalition Forces

April 7, 2016

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS group militants in Iraq and Syria is better prepared to retake the Iraqi city Mosul than Syria’s Raqqa, a US military spokesman said Thursday.

Iraq’s second city Mosul and Raqqa, the ISIS group’s de facto Syrian capital, are the coalition’s top objectives.

“The plan to liberate Raqa is not as developed as the plan to liberate Mosul,” coalition spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said during a video news conference broadcast from Baghdad.

The coalition can rely on the Iraqi Army to help conduct operations in Mosul, he added. “In Syria, we don’t have that.”

ISIS group fighters seized Mosul in June 2014 as they overran vast regions in northern and north-central Iraq, as well as in Syria.

The city holds special significance for the ISIS group as the location where its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria.

In Syria, the coalition has only a small number of advisers on the ground working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), “essentially an irregular army” dominated by Kurdish militias, Warren said.

“(We) work with the leadership we have identified within the SDF to try develop a plan” to retake Raqa, he said. “That’s ongoing, it’s in the early stages, it’s a continuing process.”

The SDF numbers in the “tens of thousands,” although that figure fluctuates, Warren added, saying the group includes around 5,000 Arab fighters.

The ISIS group has experienced setbacks on several fronts in Syria in recent weeks, including the ancient city of Palmyra, which the Russian-backed Syrian military retook late last month.

The militants also recently lost their main crossing point into Turkey, the town of al-Rai in Aleppo province, to factions fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The town is one of at least 18 in Aleppo the ISIS group has lost after holding them for two years.

Article Link to Al-Arabiya:

Krauthammer: The Inevitable GOP Train Wreck

By Charles Krauthammer
The National Review
April 7, 2016

Yes, the big Wisconsin story is Ted Cruz’s crushing 13-point victory. And yes, it greatly improves his chances of denying Donald Trump a first-ballot convention victory, which may turn out to be Trump’s only path to the nomination.

Nonetheless, the most stunning result of Wisconsin is the solidity of Trump’s core constituency. Fundamentalist Trumpism remains resistant to every cosmic disturbance. He managed to get a full 35 percent in a state in which:

-- He was opposed by a very popular GOP governor (80 percent approval among Republicans) with a powerful state organization honed by winning three campaigns within four years (two gubernatorial, one recall).

-- He was opposed by popular, local, well-informed radio talk-show hosts whose tough interviews left him in shambles.

-- Tons of money was dumped into negative ads not just from the Cruz campaign and the pro-Cruz super PACs but from two anti-Trump super PACs as well.

And if that doesn’t leave a candidate flattened, consider that Trump was coming off two weeks of grievous self-inflicted wounds — and still got more than a third of the vote. Which definitively vindicated Trump’s boast that if he ever went out in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot someone (most likely because his Twitter went down — he’d be apprehended in his pajamas), he wouldn’t lose any voters.

The question for Trump has always been how far he could reach beyond his solid core. His problem is that those who reject him are equally immovable. In Wisconsin, 58 percent of Republican voters said that the prospect of a Trump presidency left them concerned or even scared.

Cruz scares a lot of people, too. But his fear number was 21 points lower. Moreover, 36 percent of Wisconsin Republicans, facing a general-election choice between Hillary Clinton and Trump, would either vote Clinton, go third party, or stay home.

Trump did not exactly advance his needed outreach with his reaction to the Wisconsin result: a nuclear strike on “Lyin’ Ted,” as “a puppet” and “a Trojan horse” illegally coordinating with his super PACs (evidence?) “who totally control him.” Not quite the kind of thing that gets you from 35 percent to 50 percent.

Not needed, say the Trumpites. If we come to Cleveland with a mere plurality of delegates, fairness demands that our man be nominated.

This is nonsense. If you cannot command or cobble together a majority, you haven’t earned the party leadership.

John Kasich makes the opposite case. He’s hanging on in case a deadlocked convention eventually turns to him, possessor of the best polling numbers against Clinton. After all, didn’t Lincoln come to the 1860 convention trailing?

Yes, and so what? The post-1968 reforms abolished the system whereby governors, bosses, and other party poobahs decided things. In the modern era, to reach down to the No. 3 candidate — a distant third who loses 55 of 56 contests — or to parachute in a party unicorn who never entered the race in the first place would be a radical affront to the democratic spirit of the contemporary nominating process.

A parachute maneuver might be legal, but it would be perceived as illegitimate and, coming amid the most intense anti-establishment sentiment in memory, imprudent to the point of suicide.

Yet even without this eventuality, party suicide is a very real possibility. The nominee will be either Trump or Cruz. How do they reconcile in the end?

It’s no longer business; it’s personal. Cruz has essentially declared that he couldn’t support someone who did what Trump did to Heidi Cruz. He might try to patch relations with some Trump supporters — is Chris Christie’s soul still for sale? — but how many could he peel away? Remember: Wisconsin has just demonstrated Trump’s unbreakable core.

And if Trump loses out, a split is guaranteed. In Trump’s mind, he is a winner. Always. If he loses, it can only be because he was cheated. He constantly contends that he’s being treated unfairly. He is certain to declare any convention process that leaves him without the nomination irredeemably unfair. No need to go third party. A simple walkout with perhaps a thousand followers behind will doom the party in November. In a country where only 25 percent feel we’re on the right track and where the leading Democrat cannot shake the challenge of a once-obscure dairy-state socialist, you’d think the Republicans cannot lose.

You’d be underestimating how hard they are trying.

Article Link to the National Review:

Noonan: New York’s Vote Matters for a Change

Trump tries to recover from his Wisconsin deflation, while Sanders finally gets aggressive.

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal
April 8, 2016

In Wisconsin and in the weeks leading up to it Donald Trump got wounded. Big animals get wounded and come back. The question is whether he’s a big animal or something smaller that skittered around the forest and finally picked the wrong fight.

Wisconsin almost certainly foreclosed his chance to walk into Cleveland with enough delegates to win on the first ballot. The convention will be open, and contested.

There’s nothing easy about Mr. Trump. He leaves his supporters’ hearts in their mouths. He leaves his enemies happy then self-doubting, triumphant then fatalistic. But what we have witnessed the past few weeks is his deflation, a real one, and the worst kind: It was all his fault. It wasn’t the anti-Trump forces and it wasn’t Ted Cruz, it was his lax, louche indiscipline.

But now we cut to New York. We are about to witness something of a Trump reinflation.

The other night he drew some 10,000 people to a rally in Bethpage, Long Island, which the Daily News called “riotous” and Newsday called “rousing.” I lived in Long Island from age 5 to 16 and go there often. My friends and their children are a generation or two from Brooklyn and Queens, and Brooklyn and Queens were one or two generations from the old country. Long Islanders carry within them, still and more than they know, a love for America tinged by family lore of the immigrant experience—an old and patriotic sense that gets mixed up, in the current way, with a nationalistic sense. Republicans who were amusing themselves on social media the night of the rally—as word spread of turnout they were sending out pictures of Joey Buttafuoco—look down on those rally-goers at their peril. They will be part of the base of whatever takes the place of the current Republican Party.

Mr. Trump, in the video I saw, was masterly. “We don’t win anymore,” he said. “We don’t fight like people from Long Island. We don’t fight like people from New York.” He laid into Mr. Cruz: “Remember when he started lecturing me on ‘New York values’ like we’re no good?” That was the authentic sound of working New York: “Like we’re no good.”

And it felt fresh, because no one really campaigns for the presidency in New York anymore. Its primaries are in April, usually after everything’s been settled. In the general election New York’s in the bag for the Democrats, so why should they expend the energy or Republicans the time?

Candidates for president only come here for major media interviews and for money. They pick Manhattan up and shake it like a big pink piggy bank—$60K at the downtown breakfast, $600K at the uptown cocktail party. They enter the homes of the great and powerful—the spacious rooms, high ceilings, plump sofas, shiny floors, important art, views of Central Park—and they think: “Boy, they sure got it good. Maybe the economy isn’t so bad!”

The rich of New York thus hold an outsized place in the Republican and Democratic imagination. But the not-rich—the middle, the hanging-on and the poor—have no place at all.

Republicans especially, the past 20 or so years, have no sense of them. They know the hedge-funders and the rooms with the Rothkos. Their vision of everything else comes from old movies like “Dog Day Afternoon.” They’re surprised we’re not all running around in the streets shouting “Attica! Attica!”

What Republicans especially fail to appreciate is that New York more than ever is full of legal immigrants. If you sit on the side of a street fair in non-hipster Brooklyn—in Bay Ridge, for instance—you’ll see all the world passing by: people from China, Ireland, Lebanon, Poland, South and Central America, Asia, Africa, Arabia. They are young. They’re expending all their energy doing what people do to establish themselves—finding the job, keeping it, paying the rent, finding someone to love, making a family, making it all work.

So far they have no time for politics—but they will. They’re not aligned—but they will be. They are open to persuasion. They will consider your argument. All you have to do is be there and talk to them. If the Republican Party were thinking long-term, it would. Maybe when the party is reconstituting itself—trying to rebuild a damaged or destroyed party, or inventing a new one—they’ll recognize these people too as a potential part of their base.

In any case Mr. Trump is expected to win big. He’s 31 points ahead in the polls. Is there any chance he can discipline himself and sustain the discipline, create a real campaign, professionalize his operation? Would it make a difference? Or are his reputation and his mess set so firmly in concrete nothing can change his outcome?

On the Democratic side Bernie Sanders has turned tough. He seems to have come face to face with the fact that he really wants to win. He said Hillary Clinton is not “qualified” to be president because of her support for the Iraq War, “disastrous” trade policies, and taking Wall Street money. His campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, upped the ante by saying if Mrs. Clinton hits back unfairly, “they’re going to see how a real New Yorker fights back.”

God bless New York for stripping the passive from the passive-aggressive campaign they were waging against each other until this week.

I saw Mrs. Clinton at Harlem’s Apollo Theater last week. The audience was appropriately enthusiastic but not wild. Soon after, I watched the Sanders rally in the Bronx—a crowd of at least 15,000 that was wild. A Hillary supporter I spoke to at the Apollo confessed she was there to reignite her excitement. In her life she was surrounded by Bernie supporters. It leaves you feeling defensive.

If he dings her bad or wins in New York it will be a real setback for Mrs. Clinton, and an embarrassment.

Everything on both sides is still so in play.

Washington Republicans continue their fantasy of the white knight who comes to Cleveland and saves the day—the magical unifying figure who electrifies the convention and wins on the fourth ballot. But how would the large majority of Republicans who’ve voted for Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz feel about that? Not good!

Again, if Mr. Trump wins, a significant part of the party splits off. If he doesn’t, a significant part of the party likely isn’t there in November. I was asked this week if Trump always intended to break the party. I don’t think so; I think he set out to win. But whether he wins or not he has succeeded in demonstrating to the party that it is and was broken. He made the information unavoidable.

A friend with whom I’d been discussing the convention, a former Romney bundler, this week sent me a gift: handsome two-inch heels, heavily padded on the sole so if there is trouble you could run in them. The outside fabric is rough camouflage, the kind a soldier would wear in the field.

That’s a fellow whose fantasy of what the convention will be like is probably closer to the mark.

Article Link to the Wall Street Journal: