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Why France Is Unlikely To Spoil The Brexit Party

François Hollande welcomed Theresa May to Paris but he has his eyes firmly fixed on how to win the Brexit negotiations.


By Pierre Briancon
Politico EU
July 22, 2016

François Hollande was all smiles and compliments Thursday night for his first encounter with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, especially as she was gracious enough to demonstrate in her very first sentences her mastery of the French language.

Gone for the moment was the desire to punish Britain in order to halt the march of anti-EU forces elsewhere on the Continent that had characterized the French position prior to the June 23 referendum. Political tumult in the U.K. following the Brexit vote has suppressed France’s need to make an example of their neighbors from across the Channel.

Behind the mutual celebration by both leaders of Franco-British relations, and despite the French president’s gratitude for British solidarity in the fight against terrorism, it was clear that both leaders anticipate tough negotiations over the terms of the U.K.’s exit in the months ahead.

What Hollande couldn’t say out loud is that it is unlikely that France will ultimately play the spoiler. Paris is keen to keep strong bilateral ties with London and besides, French interests are closely aligned with those of Germany and other European major powers.

Instead France is eying ways to win.

French Pragmatism


While May has indicated she won’t begin the Brexit process before 2017, the French government had repeatedly stressed since the referendum that negotiations over Britain’s future relationship with the rest of the EU should begin as soon as possible.

"What has gone from the French position in the last weeks is the original intention to “make Britain pay” to serve as an example to others."

That appeared to put Paris at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whoseemed more understanding towards the British position when May travelled to Berlin Wednesday.

But the timing doesn’t depend on either Hollande or Merkel. As the French leader acknowledged Thursday the date will be of May’s choosing since she kicks off the process by triggering Article 50, the EU’s divorce clause.

Hollande is practical enough to know he doesn’t have much leverage over her choice of when to do it. He even admitted at a joint press conference at the Elysée Palace that Britain’s new prime minister would need “time to prepare.”

French diplomatic efforts will instead focus on the substance of future negotiations, namely the trade-off to be offered (or forced on) the U.K. for participating in the single market.

On Thursday night, Hollande reiterated the French view, which is also the official EU view: The single market is based on four freedoms – of goods, capital, services and people. “The UK must abide by the four freedoms if it wants to be part of the single market. None of them can be separated from the other,” he said.

Or, as translated for POLITICO by an ever-helpful French diplomat: “This has nothing to do with feelings. It’s just business.”
What has gone from the French position in recent weeks is the original intention to “make Britain pay” to serve as an example to others. The extent of the post-referendum crisis in the U.K., the semblance of political chaos in the days following the vote, the likely economic impact on the U.K. of the current uncertainty, are now seen as strong enough deterrents to any other country contemplating a similar “exit” from Europe, the diplomat noted.

And what the French see as the spectacular “reprise en mains” by May of the agenda, as well as her mastery of the political process, have reassured Paris that there is in London “someone to do business with,” said the same diplomat, knowingly paraphrasing Margaret Thatcher’s line about the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Eyes On The City

Despite his focus on the single market, the French president also appeared to offer the British prime minister one possible path to compromise.

Hollande seemed to hint that it might be possible for May to simply seek an improvement to the terms her predecessor David Cameron got on immigration when he renegotiated Britain’s relationship with the EU prior to the referendum vote. This could give May a way to meet British voters’ desire to reduce immigration and still remain almost a full member of the single market.

On the substance of the future negotiations, which both Merkel Wednesday and Hollande Thursday repeated could not possibly start before the U.K. triggers Article 50, Hollande has been and remains explicit on the trade-off he will seek for restrictions of movement: The end of the so-called “financial passport” that allows EU-based banks and fund managers to market their wares in all of the member countries without additional, national regulations.

“They want to make sure national governments keep the control of the talks and that the EU bureaucracy doesn’t decide to play tough on London for the sake of it.” — Source close to the Elysée.

“If May really proves less City-friendly than Cameron and [former chancellor of the exchequer George] Osborne, she might be easy to convince on this,” quipped a French treasury advisor mentioning the “social justice” speech that the new U.K. premier made on the steps of 10, Downing Street on the day she took office.

But “whatever the ultimate outcome,” he added, “it may look nothing like what we are thinking of now. Those are just starting positions, everybody stakes his ground.”

Hollande, of course, by now knows that he may not be the one who will see the negotiations through, as his chances of being re-elected to a second term next year are distant at best. That doesn’t mean that his successor will hold different views. Most of the French right’s conservative leaders have expressed the same opinions, in line with traditional French diplomacy.

On one thing Paris and Berlin agree and that is the need to sideline Brussels. Hollande and Merkel are reading “strictly from the same page,” a source close to the Elysée said before May’s visit. “They want to make sure national governments keep the control of the talks and that the EU bureaucracy doesn’t decide to play tough on London for the sake of it.”

That, on the other hand, he added, is “easier said than done.”


Article Link to Politico EU:

Turkey – Roger Out

“Turkey has a large armed force, professional armed forces and...I am certain they will continue as a committed and strong NATO ally.”


By Caroline Glick
The Jerusalem Post
July 22, 2016

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg insisted that the purge of thousands in the Turkish military – including a third of the serving generals – did not weaken the military.

Stoltenberg told Reuters, “Turkey has a large armed force, professional armed forces and... I am certain they will continue as a committed and strong NATO ally.”

It would be interesting to know whether the 1,500 US soldiers who have been locked down at Incirlik Air Base along with several hundred soldiers from other NATO countries since the failed coup Friday night would agree with him.

Following the failed coup, the Erdogan regime cut off the base’s external electricity supply and temporarily suspended all flights from the base.

The base commander Gen. Bekir Ercan Van and 11 other service members from the base and a police officer were placed under arrest.

Incirlik is the center of NATO air operations against Islamic State in Syria. It also reportedly houses 50 nuclear warheads. The atomic bombs belong to the US. They deployed to Turkey – under US control – as a relic of the Cold War.

It took US President Barack Obama two years of pleading to convince Turkish President Recep Erdogan to allow NATO forces to use the base at Incirlik. It was only after the Kurdish political party secured unprecedented gains in Turkey’s parliamentary elections last year, and Tayyip Erdogan decided to expand his operations against the Kurds of Iraq and Syria to dampen domestic support for the Kurds, that he agreed to allow NATO forces to use the base.

His condition was that the US support his war against the Kurds – the most effective ground force in the war against Islamic State.

Stoltenberg’s statement of support for Turkey is particularly troubling because Erdogan’s post-coup behavior makes it impossible to continue to sweep his hostility under the rug.

For nearly 14 years, since his AK Party first won the national elections in late 2002, Erdogan and his followers have made clear that they are ideologically – and therefore permanently – hostile to the West. And for nearly 14 years, Western leaders have pretended this reality under the rug.

Just weeks after AKP’s first electoral triumph, the Turkish parliament shocked Washington when it voted to reject the US’s request to deploy Iraq invasion forces along the Turkish border with Iraq. Turkey’s refusal to permit US operations from its territory are a big reason the Sunni insurgency in Iraq was able to organize.

It took the US some two months to take over northern Iraq. By that time, the Ba’athists had organized the paramilitary militias that later morphed into al-Qaida in Iraq and then, following the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, Islamic State.

Ever since then, Erdogan has paid lip service, and even assisted NATO and the EU from time to time, when it served his momentary interests to do so. But the consistent trend of his behavior has been negative.

Since taking power, Erdogan has galvanized the organs of state propaganda – from the media to the entertainment industry to the book world – to indoctrinate the citizens of Turkey to hate Jews and Americans and to view terrorists supportively.

This induced hatred has been expressed as well in his foreign policy. Erdogan was the first major leader to embrace Hamas after its electoral victory in the 2006 Palestinian Authority elections. He treated Hamas terror chief Ismail Haniyeh like a visiting monarch when he hosted him shortly after those elections.

During Hezbollah’s 2006 war against Israel, Turkey was caught red-handed as it allowed Iran to move weapons systems to Hezbollah through Turkish territory.

Erdogan has turned a blind eye to al-Qaida. And he has permitted ISIS to use Turkey as its logistical base, economic headquarters and recruitment center. Earlier this year the State Department claimed that all of the 25,000 foreign recruits to ISIS have entered Syria through Turkey.

As for Iran, until Obama engineered the lifting of UN sanctions against Iran through his nuclear deal with the ayatollahs, Turkey was Iran’s conduit to the international market. Turkey was Iran’s partner in evading sanctions and so ensuring the economic viability of the regime. According to a series of investigative reports by Turkish and foreign reporters, Erdogan’s family was directly involved in this illicit trade.

Then there is Europe. For ISIS, Turkey has been a two-way street. Fighters have entered Syria through Turkey, and returned to Europe through Turkey. Turkey is behind the massive inflow of Syrian refugees to Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to cut a deal with Erdogan that would stem the flow. Erdogan pocketed her economic concessions and did nothing to stop the hemorrhage of refugees to Europe.

As for the US, the years of anti-American incitement and indoctrination of Turkish society are now coming into full flower in the aftermath of the coup. Even before the dust had settled, Erdogan was pointing an accusatory finger at Washington.

Insisting that the failed coup was the brainchild of exiled Islamic cleric – and erstwhile ally of Erdogan – Fetullah Gulen, who took up residence in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains 16 years ago – Erdogan demanded that the US immediately put Gulen on an airplane with a one-stop ticket to Turkey.

In the days that followed, the Erdogan regime’s accusations against the US became more and more unhinged. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that failure to comply with Erdogan’s extradition demand would be viewed as a hostile act by the US.

And Turkish Labor Minister Suleyman Soylu flat out said that “America is behind the coup,” in a media interview.

In other words, after arresting the base commander and other forces at Incirlik, and while effectively holding US-led NATO forces and 50 nuclear warheads prisoner for the past six days, Turkey is accusing the US of engineering the coup attempt.

But apparently, NATO has decided to try to again sweep reality under the rug, once more. Hence, Stoltenberg’s soothing insistence that there is no cause for worry. Turkey remains a trusted member of the alliance.

This isn’t merely irresponsible. It is dangerous, for several reasons.

First of all, Stoltenberg’s claim that the Turkish military is as strong as ever is simply ridiculous.

A third of the serving generals are behind bars along with thousands of commanders and soldiers, educators, police officers, jurists and judges.

Who exactly can be willing to take the initiative in this climate? Amid at best mixed messages from the regime regarding the war against ISIS, and with the generals who coordinated the campaign with NATO now behind bars, who will maintain the alliance with NATO? No one will.

The implications of this passivity will be felt on the ground in Turkey as well as in Syria and Iraq.

Thanks to Erdogan’s passive support, ISIS has operatives seeded throughout Turkey. Who can guarantee that they will leave the nuclear weapons at Incirlik alone? Is the US really planning to leave those bombs in Turkey when its own forces are effective prisoners of the regime? And what are the implications of removing them? How can such a necessary move be made at the same time that NATO pretends that all is well with Turkey? Then there is the problem of chemical weapons.

In recent months, ISIS has used chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq. In February, James Clapper, the director of US national intelligence, warned that ISIS is developing a chemical arsenal and intends to use chemical weapons against the US and Europe.

In May it was reported that ISIS is conducting experiments with chemical weapons on dogs and prisoners in labs located in residential neighborhoods in Mosul.

Turkey is a NATO member with open borders to Europe, and the only thing that has prevented ISIS terrorists from bringing chemical weapons to Europe has been the Turkish military and police force. They are now being purged.

Moreover, as Soner Cagaptay reported in The Wall Street Journal this week, Erdogan used out and out jihadists to put down the coup on Friday night and Saturday. He has continued to embrace them in the days that have passed since then.

In so doing, Erdogan signaled that he may well use the post-coup state of emergency to dismantle what is left of Turkey’s secular state apparatus and transform the NATO member into an Islamist state, along the lines of the short-lived Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, which Erdogan enthusiastically supported.

In this climate, it is difficult, if not as a practical matter impossible, to imagine that the military and police will work particularly hard to prevent ISIS terrorists from transporting weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Europe through Turkey.

The Obama administration is partly responsible for the current crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry just agreed to subordinate the US-led anti-ISIS campaign to Russia. In so doing, he made clear that the US will not protect Turkey from Russia. This gives Erdogan little choice other than to strike out a new, far more radical course.

To Erdogan’s own Islamist convictions and US incompetence must be added a third reason to assume the situation in Turkey will only get worse.

As David Goldman has reported in the Asia Times, Turkey is on the brink of economic collapse. Its currency has been devalued by 7 percent just since the failed coup. “With about $300 billion in foreign currency liabilities, Turkish corporations’ debt service costs rise as the currency falls. Stocks have lost more than half their value in dollar terms since 2013,” Goldman warned.

In the current climate, it is hard to imagine Erdogan instituting austerity measures to pay down the debt. So he needs a scapegoat for his failure. The chosen scapegoat is clearly the US.

To make a long story short then, the Turkish military is no longer capable of cooperating in any meaningful way with the US or NATO. Erdogan, never a reliable ally, is now openly hostile.

He is in the midst of committing aggression against NATO forces at Incirlik. And he is embracing Turkish jihadists who are ideologically indistinguishable from ISIS.

The US surrender to Russia means that America cannot protect Turkey from Russia. And Erdogan has chosen to blame American for Turkey’s fast approaching economic doomsday.

Under the circumstances, if NATO takes its job of protecting the free world seriously, it has no choice but to quit with the business as usual routine and kick Turkey out of the alliance, withdraw its personnel and either remove or disable the nuclear weapons it fields in the country.

As for anti-ISIS operations, the US will have to move its bases to Iraqi Kurdistan and embrace the Kurds as the strategic allies they have clearly become.

In the aftermath of the failed coup, Turkey is a time bomb. It cannot be defused. It will go off. The only way to protect the free world from the aftershocks is by closing the border and battening down the hatches.


Article Link to The Jerusalem Post:

Trump Faced His Biggest Challenge Yet — And He Nailed It

By Post Editorial Board
The New York Post
July 22, 2016

Donald Trump had a big job to do Thursday night, but of course big jobs are what he does for a living — so it’s really no surprise that he got it done...beautifully.

The Republican nominee needed to not just act presidential, but be presidential — while still being himself.

He needed to keep every ounce of New York toughness and roughness he’d shown in the campaign to date, while also showing sensitivity and a sincere commitment to making life better for all Americans.

He needed to show a coherent policy vision recognizably his, that spoke to “his” voters, regular Republicans and all Americans.

And he did it in a speech characteristically Trump — wandering and emphatic, hard-hitting and a little chatty; blending policy and principle, anecdote and attack line, while speaking from the heart.

The Republican nominee, citing Orlando, vowed to protect LGBTQ citizens and got cheered by the convention hall.

He talked tough on law and order — while vowing to ask himself, with every action he takes, “Does this make life better for young Americans in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Ferguson who have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America?”

And: “Nothing has affected me more deeply than the time I have spent with the mothers and fathers who have lost their children to violence spilling across our borders.”

That is, he rooted his trademark issues — trade as well as immigration reform; America First and the “rigged system” that serves the elites — in human reality, human concerns.

From time to time, he slammed Hillary Clinton — the epitome of that rigged system, collecting billions from the special interests behind it, for her scandals and her crimes, but above all for her “message that things will never change.”

If you want the politically correct line, the “corporate spin, the carefully crafted lies” — tune in to the Democratic convention.

Above all, he hit her for her campaign’s line, “I’m with her.” Once again, he pledged, “I am with you — the American people. I am your voice.”

That echoed a line from much earlier on: “I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on the people that cannot defend themselves.”

The point echoed throughout — from his guarantee to bring jobs “roaring back into our country . . . fast” to his promise that “we will be a country of generosity and warmth” but also “of law and order” to his vow to “rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice.”

He made shout-outs on specifics — judicial nominees like Scalia, “repeal and replace disastrous ObamaCare,” real reform to take care of veterans, “defeat the barbarians of ISIS” — and it all fell together as well as it can in any political speech.

He ad-libbed plenty — most tellingly, in saying “I’m not sure I really deserve it” when acknowledging the support he’d received from Evangelicals.

Donald Trump showed a hint of humility there, as he did when in talking of his kids, his dad and his mom.

And he connected his story of the last year with his promises: “Remember, all of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want are the same people” who told you that Trump could never make it to this point.


Article Link to the New York Post:

Syria Just Got Worse Than The ‘Worst-Case Scenario’

By Tony Badran
The New York Post
July 22, 2016

While the Republican National Convention was dominating headlines, the Obama administration’s management of the Syria crisis went from bad to worse.

Secretary of State John Kerry last week announced an agreement of military and intelligence cooperation with Russia in Syria to fight ISIS and the Nusra Front. No sooner had the deal been announced than NATO member Turkey, from whose Incirlik airbase the US conducts anti-ISIS operations, almost succumbed to a military coup that could’ve sent the country into chaos.

And on Sunday, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described the current situation in Syria as “the worst-case scenario” for American interests.

Specifically, he told CBS, the worst-case scenario “is that [Bashar al-] Assad continues to remain in power,” “that the Russians continue to have a presence there” and continue to attack moderate Syrian forces and, finally, that ISIS would benefit from the mess.

Those headlines — partnership with Russia as NATO and US allies come under increasing pressure — capture the essence of President Obama’s Syria policy.

To understand the president’s decisions in Syria, one must look to his signature foreign-policy initiative: the deal with Iran. Since Syrian dictator Assad is Iran’s strategic ally, Obama long ago decided he wouldn’t back the effort to topple him.

Before the rise of ISIS in Syria, regional allies had urged Washington to bolster the American alliance against Iran. But they misread Obama.

Allies in Europe and the Middle East watched in confusion and disbelief as the president constantly privileged Russian and Iranian interests in Syria over their own. Meanwhile, the Syrian disaster grew worse, the body count rose and refugees flooded out of the country in larger numbers.

As the crisis deepened, the White House subtly but unmistakably shifted the goalposts. By 2013, the administration had made it known that the president regretted his initial call on Assad to “step aside.”

By that point, Obama had frustrated allies by insisting that any initiative had to get the support of Russia, which backed Assad. The administration brushed off complaints with a constant mantra: The only solution in Syria was political, not military, even as Russia and Iran were pouring in support to Assad precisely to impose a military solution.

Obama even went as far as publicly recognizing what he called Iran’s “equities” in Syria — shorthand for Iran’s ability to maintain its bridge to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and to supply it with missiles aimed at Israel. The White House then put our priorities in Syria in line with Russian and Iranian interests.

First, Obama entered into a partnership with Russia, which shielded Assad against a military strike over his use of chemical weapons. Then the president said the new priority was to fight terrorism (which means only ISIS and al Qaeda, and not Iran-backed terrorist groups fighting with Assad) and to provide humanitarian aid to Syrians. In both initiatives, Russia — Assad’s protector — was elevated to principal partner.

This decision has had catastrophic repercussions.

In September 2015, Russia intervened directly in Syria, knowing the White House wouldn’t stand in the way.

Russian President Vladimir Putin saw a golden opportunity to set up a military base on NATO’s southern flank, enabling him to project power both in the Middle East and Europe.

But Obama only doubled down by deepening military and intelligence cooperation with Russia in Syria, swatting aside objections from the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence community.

In so doing, the president is entrenching Russia’s presence on the border of NATO, the institution founded to counter Russian expansion.

What’s more, since the Russian enterprise in Syria is in full partnership with Iran, its success is Iran’s success. Stated differently, just as Russia now has a base bordering NATO member Turkey, Iran will also cement its presence in Syria — on Israel’s borders.

The latest agreement with the Kremlin, announced by Kerry, makes the US a partner in Russia’s war to save the Assad regime — the logical endgame of Obama’s policy.

Critics of the president’s Syria policy have often accused him of being too passive. This is a mistake.

The White House has been actively shaping the Syrian theater, both diplomatically and militarily. Only it has done so in a manner that has undercut and endangered US allies and interests. The worst-case scenario is what Obama will leave behind.


Article Link to The New York Post:

The NBA Picked Trans People Over Money

By cancelling the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, the league may have just made the gutsiest move by a pro sports outfit in decades.


By Ben Collins
The Daily Beast
July 22,  2016

The NBA spent the last several months making direct threats to North Carolina legislators insisting it would move the 2017 All-Star Game—and the $100 million in local business that would come with it—if the state didn’t change HB2, a bill that would allow transgender North Carolinians to use the bathroom.

In April, the league gave the state 30 days to change the bill. It never did, assuming the league would never call its bluff and eat a large sum of cash.

Well, on Thursday, Commissioner Adam Silver did just that. He called its bluff. There will be no All-Star Game in Charlotte because the state legislature decided not allowing transgender North Carolinians to use the bathroom was more important than $100 million, and because Adam Silver has guts and a conscience.

There’s no other explanation. The NBA just lost a bunch of money. North Carolina lost a ton more of it, and its tourism board now has the task of convincing visitors that the state isn’t run by bigots who don’t want their cash.

Other American sports leagues will stand firmly behind whichever politically advantageous cause will make them the most money.

If that’s what the NBA is trying to pull right now, it’s not doing a very good job at it. It’s just doing a good job of standing up for a tiny portion of its audience—transgender people who might need to go to the bathroom at one of their games, but can’t because of a discriminatory law.

Moving the All-Star Game cost the league real money. Estimates from the city of Charlotte itself say the lease of Time Warner Cable Arena for the weekend cost $1.6 million alone, plus another million for the use of the Charlotte Convention Center over the weekend. The city paid out $750,000 to the NBA for a hosting fee, which it will now presumably get back.

The NBA elevated the league and its standing in a future American society over a few million dollars on Thursday. Would any other major professional sports league do that?

The NFL, for one, feigns support for rote, unobjectionable political causes that have no chance at negatively impacting its bottom line, but scoffs at anything that could cost it cash.

You might remember those pink NFL armbands that support breast cancer awareness. In 2013, ESPN’s Darren Rovell revealed that only $11.25 of every $100 spent on the corresponding pink NFL merchandise sold in stores went to a cancer charity.

Those field-length American flag shows and Sam the Eagle-style military tributes before Thanksgiving Day games? Those were initially paid for by the military—about three-quarters of a million dollars’ worth—until the league got caught accepting money from the Pentagon and gave it all back.

Last year, when Cam Hayward wanted to pay tribute to his father, who had died the week before, by writing his dad’s nickname on his eyeblack, the league fined him $11,576 for a uniform violation.

And the same week Roger Goodell successfully won powers to levy fines and suspensions like that unilaterally in a federal case over underinflated footballs, Adam Silver was the first commissioner of a major American sports league to march in New York City’s Gay Pride Parade.

Now Silver has some carnage to clean up. The Charlotte Hornets have struggled with attendance since their inception. After years of sagging attendance, a Charlotte NBA franchise already bolted in 2002 to New Orleans, where the 2017 All-Star Game is fittingly likely headed. This won’t help any of that, and it might even throw the league and team into an adversarial relationship with the city.

Well, good.

Threats by other leagues to take their multimillion-dollar balls and go to a state where prejudice isn’t written into the law—those previously went unheeded. Charlotte is now $100 million poorer because its state government didn’t want some basketball fans to use a public bathroom.

Those threats won’t go unheeded anymore.


Article Link to The Daily Beast:

Remember When Republicans Wanted To Stand Up To Putin?

By Eli Lake
The Bloomberg View
July 22, 2016

Remember when the Republican Party was a reliable foe of Russia's autocratic leaders? It actually wasn't that long ago. When President Barack Obama forged the New Start treaty with Moscow in 2010, Republican leaders opposed the treaty in part because Russia under Vladimir Putin could not be trusted with an arms control agreement.

Now the Republican nominee for president in 2016 is suggesting he may not honor U.S. commitments to NATO, which exists to counter Russian aggression. In an interview with the New York Times,he said he would only come to the aid of Baltic states if they were attacked by Russia, if "they have fulfilled their obligations to us."

This is not a unique position. The view that America should not necessarily honor its mutual defense agreements in NATO is popular among many foreign policy academics, particularly those in the "realist" school. Many progressives too, like the editors of the Nation Magazine, have mused that America's push to expand NATO is the root cause of Putin's aggression in Ukraine. Pat Buchanan, the White House speechwriter (and the force who resurrected the pre-World War II mantra of "America First") also thinks NATO's expansion has baited the Russian bear.

Just what is the U.S. obliged to do in defense of NATO partners? Most Americans probably would not support a shooting war to defend the independence of Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania. But the treaty does not spell out in detail what other NATO members would be required to do in the face of an attack. Until recently at least, most Republicans understood that the best way to prevent that nightmare scenario was through deterrence. That requires publicly embracing its mutual defense obligations without spelling out precisely what that would mean.

Or it used to require that. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CBS on Thursday: "I'm not sure I would risk a nuclear war over some place which is the suburbs of St. Petersburg. I think we have to think about what does this stuff mean."

Comments like that from Trump are not so surprising. But Gingrich actually understands what he is saying. Gingrich is one of the reasons NATO expanded in the 1990s to include Eastern Europe and eventually in 2004 to add seven states, those "suburbs of St. Petersburg." He pushed for legislation to do just that when he was speaker of the House.

Here's Gingrich in 1996: "Since its creation in 1949, NATO has been expanded on three separate occasions. In the spirit of a safer, freer and more secure world, the time has come to once again enlarge NATO's membership. For 45 years, NATO has met its mission under the leadership of both Republicans and Democrats, evolving as circumstances on the international front have changed. This is one of those moments in history when change is necessary to meet a greater need."

When Russian irregulars invaded Ukraine in 2014, Gingrich urged President Obama to do much more. An op-ed he co-wrote with Senator Lindsey Graham asked: "When will the administration put its might where its mouth is: When Kiev is in flames? Or never?"

Keep in mind, this is what Gingrich said when Russia attacked a non-NATO member. Now he's not sure the U.S. should defend the three Baltic nations who are in the alliance and in good standing.

Despite the outcry of many Republicans like Gingrich in 2014 that Obama was doing too little to defend Ukraine, the president in the end did deploy forces and military assets to many of the front-line states in the NATO alliance. This creates a kind of trip wire if Russia ever were to attack these countries with conventional forces. It is an example of deterrence, a concept of statecraft that Republicans used to understand.

It's worth asking whether Trump or Gingrich would say now that Obama went too far -- that he took too much of Gingrich's advice. After all, as the former Bloomberg View columnist Josh Rogin reported this week, Trump apparats stripped language from the Republican platform that called for lethal defense assistance to Ukraine.

There are two ironies in all of this. The first is that this squishiness on Russia is coming from a nominee who poses as a super hawk. The same guy who muses about killing the families of terrorists is open to abrogating America's treaty commitments to an alliance that has prevented a major European war for the last 70 years. We have to suspect his hawkish proposals are just for show. (Michael Hayden, who served as CIA director under George W. Bush, and John Brennan, who is currently CIA director, have both said they would not implement such an order.)

But the second irony is that Trump's stated position on NATO puts him far to the left of Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state implemented a "reset" in relations with Russia that was opposed by most Republicans. The argument at the time was that Obama was allowing Putin to get away with his 2008 invasion of Georgia and inviting more aggression down the road.

Clinton has since changed her tune, after those warning proved prophetic in 2014 with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. She compared Putin at the time to Hitler.

Today it's the Republican nominee who would let Putin get away with an invasion of Ukraine. He's not even sure whether he would stand up to the Kremlin if Putin invaded a member of NATO.


Article Link to The Bloomberg View:

Tesla's 'Master Plan' Is All Promise, No Product

By Edward Niedermeyer
The Bloomberg View
July 22, 2016

Elon Musk's second "master plan" for Tesla Motors arrived much like one of the electric automaker's cars: brilliant and inspiring, but late and rough around the edges. And like Tesla's desirable yet quality-challenged cars, Musk's vision is sure to be embraced and evangelized by anyone who was already convinced that Tesla is destined to dominate the car business. But with sales stalling, Tesla has already shown that it's gone as far as it can on the faith of its true believers alone. If Musk hoped to broaden Tesla's appeal, his latest strategy needed to do more than preach to the choir.

Musk's latest sermon takes a leap of faith from the very first sentence, declaring "the first master plan that I wrote 10 years ago is now in the final stages of completion." This bold claim is worth examining.

Step 1 was to build a low-volume electric sports car, a goal Tesla achieved with its Roadster. Step 2 -- "develop a medium volume car at a lower price" -- has deviated considerably from the original "build an affordable car," probably because Tesla's Model S sells for a lot more than its initial (and arguably "affordable") $50,000 price target. Step 3 -- "create an affordable, high volume car" -- certainly wasn't accomplished with Tesla's third car, the Model X SUV, though it may be someday with Tesla's planned Model 3. Musk says Step 4 -- "provide solar power" -- is "in the final stages of completion" on the strength of a planned but unapproved merger with solar-energy provider SolarCity.

As it turns out, the incompleteness of Musk's original plan helps explain the existence of a new one. In particular, the original plan's goal of providing renewable power, which previously amounted to little more than an empty promise to make all Tesla Supercharger stations solar-powered, has grown into Point 1 of the new plan: "create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage." There's no doubt that solar panels and storage batteries are complementary products, but Musk doesn't bother to explain or answer any of the concerns voiced by shareholders. Instead, he extols the virtues of a unified sales and service organization and insists that making Tesla a solar-power provider was always part of his plan. Since that long-held but rarely articulated goal is apparently in "the final stages of completion," Musk must believe that Tesla and SolarCity shareholders need no further convincing.

With the energy generation and storage side of the business coming into prominence, Tesla's original strategy of building ever-cheaper electric cars has also been revised. With a base price of $35,000 -- the average price of a new car in the U.S. -- Tesla's upcoming Model 3 barely qualifies as "affordable" but it's as cheap as Tesla's cars will get. Instead of continuing to push downmarket, Tesla's latest plan calls for a five-vehicle lineup -- two cars, two SUVs and one "new kind of pickup" -- that Musk says will "address most of the consumer market." Of course, half of the U.S. car market and most of the global market transact below Tesla's $35,000 red line, but having blown the initial price estimates on its first three cars, the company's new restraint seems to reflect a hard-won pragmatism.


Not that Musk is content to let Tesla settle into a luxury-brand niche. In lieu of lowering costs, Musk says future Teslas will use autonomous-drive technology, which will enable the cars to earn money for their owners by joining on-demand taxi fleets when not in use. According to Musk, the revenue from this gig economy could significantly offset and at times potentially exceed the monthly loan or lease cost, raising the possibility that your future robo-Tesla could pay for itself. If this sounds too good to be true, it's because it probably is: Tesla is just one of many companies eyeing the autonomous-mobility market. So the amount of money your Tesla will be able to earn competing with Uber, Lyft and others will be minimal, while the cost of owning a $35,000 vehicle will be extremely high relative to using these mobility services.

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the automaker's robo-taxi ambitions is the fact that Teslas have always been designed around owner-driver values such as performance, range and speed, which offer no advantages in taxi service. Purpose-built robo-taxis, designed for reliability, interior space and comfort, will be far more economical and appealing than your off-duty Model 3. But Musk says Tesla will do that, too, and an urban transport vehicle is being designed to replace buses. There's even a Tesla semi-truck planned, which Musk says will be "fun to drive," even though that makes about as much sense in a long-haul truck as a range-limited battery electric drivetrain.

From solar panels and energy storage to robo-taxis and semis, Musk's vision for Tesla conjures up a world so enthrallingly futuristic that it's hard not to get carried away by it. Many of his ideas are good ones, and countless companies are sinking billions into realizing them. But coming from a company that is struggling to meet the auto industry's quality standards -- not to mention its own price and production targets -- even at small volumes and high prices, these sweeping ambitions come across as intellectual curiosity and sheer hubris. The only common thread uniting this diverse array of products -- battery cells produced at Tesla's Gigafactory -- doesn't provide anywhere near enough industrial logic to justify the kind of sprawling conglomerate Musk envisions.

The most troubling thing about Musk's new plan is that it ignores the most consistent criticisms of Tesla: that the company overpromises, underdelivers, lacks focus, and over-relies on Musk's vision. Simply producing a high-quality Model 3 at high volumes on the promised timeline (and supporting it with competitive service) would be a monumental achievement. But doing that requires intense focus not on the exciting possibilities of tomorrow but on the prosaic realities of today.

The determined grind of manufacturing may not feed the public's hunger for visionary futurism, but that's how ideas become realities. Until Tesla delivers on its decade-old promise of an affordable electric car, Musk's rambling ideation amounts to little more than escapist entertainment.


Article Link to The Bloomberg View:

Possible Early North Korean Nuclear Site Found

By Jonathan Landay
Reuters
July 22, 2016

A U.S. policy institute said it may have located a secret facility used by North Korea in the early stages of building its program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, which if confirmed would be critical to the success of any future nuclear deal, according to a report seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The report by the Institute for Science and International Security said there has always been doubt about whether North Korea has disclosed all of its nuclear facilities. Confirming their location would be critical to the success of any future agreement to freeze and dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program, it said.

The site, 27 miles (43 km) from the nuclear complex at Yongbyon, may have played a key role in development of centrifuges that refine uranium hexafluoride gas into low-enriched and highly enriched uranium, the report said.

"It is necessary to identify where North Korea enriches uranium and part of that is understanding where it has done it in the past," said David Albright, the institute's president.

What may once have been the early centrifuge research and development facility is believed to have been inside an aircraft part factory inside a mountain next to Panghyon Air Base. It was located using commercial satellite imagery, the report said.

It was unclear whether the aircraft part factory was still operational but information from defectors indicates there may be three production-scale centrifuge manufacturing plants operating in the country although their locations have not been confirmed, said Albright.

Tensions have been escalating between North Korea and South Korea, the United States and Japan over Pyongyang's fourth underground nuclear test in January and a series of missile launches.

North Korea's nuclear program is based on highly enriched uranium and plutonium separated from spent reactor fuel rods.

The reclusive government, which for more than a decade denied having a gas centrifuge program, in November 2010 revealed the existence of a production-scale gas centrifuge plant at Yongbyon but insisted it had no other such facilities.

In June 2000 a Japanese newspaper quoted Chinese sources as saying a facility was located inside Mount Chonma, the report said. Information recently obtained from "knowledgeable government officials" suggested the undeclared facility was associated with an underground aircraft parts factory, it said.

Working with Allsource Analysis, which interprets satellite imagery, the institute determined it most likely was Panghyon Aircraft Plant, which made parts for Soviet-supplied fighters.

The report quoted an unidentified official as saying the site could have held between 200 and 300 centrifuges.


Article Link to Reuters:

Erdogan Vows Turkish Military Shake-Up As Emergency Rule Takes Hold

By Samia Nakhoul, Nick Tattersall, and Orhan Coskun
Reuters
July 22, 2016

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Thursday to restructure the military and give it "fresh blood" as emergency rule took hold across the NATO member country after last week's attempted coup.

Erdogan's comments to Reuters in an interview - his first since announcing a state of emergency late on Wednesday - came as Turkey sought to assure its citizens and the outside world that the government was not turning its back on democracy and returning to the harsh repression of past regimes.

Erdogan accuses Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic U.S.-based cleric, of masterminding the plot against him, which crumbled early on Saturday. In a crackdown on his suspected followers, more than 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended, detained or placed under investigation.

Western countries are worried about instability and human rights in the country of 80 million, which plays an important part in the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State and in the European Union's efforts to stem the flow of refugees from Syria.

Erdogan said the government's Supreme Military Council, which is chaired by the prime minister, and includes the defense minister and the chief of staff, would oversee the restructuring of the armed forces.

"They are all working together as to what might be done, and ... within a very short amount of time a new structure will be emerging. With this new structure, I believe the armed forces will get fresh blood," Erdogan said.

Speaking at his palace in Ankara, which was targeted during the coup attempt, he said a new putsch was possible but would not be easy because authorities were now more vigilant.

"It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it," Erdogan told Reuters.

Erdogan also said there was no obstacle to extending the state of emergency beyond the initial three months - a comment likely to spark concern among critics already fearful about the pace of his crackdown. Emergency powers allow the government to take swift measures against supporters of the coup, in which more than 246 people were killed and over 2,000 wounded.

Emergency rule will also permit the president and cabinet to bypass parliament in enacting new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms as they deem necessary.

Germany called for the measure to end as quickly as possible, while an international lawyers' group warned Turkey against using it to subvert the rule of law and human rights, pointing to allegations of torture and ill-treatment of people held in the mass roundup.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also warned on Thursday against using democratic institutions to undercut human rights in response to the thwarted coup.

"There is no excuse, there is no way in which the reaction can undermine fundamental freedoms and rights," Mogherini said after remarks at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

"What we're seeing especially in the fields of universities, media, the judiciary, is unacceptable," she said, apparently referring to detentions and dismissals of teachers and judges, bans on travel for academics and the detainment of journalists.

For some Turks, the state of emergency raised fears of a return to the days of martial law after a 1980 military coup, or the height of a Kurdish insurgency in the 1990s when much of the largely Kurdish southeast was under a state of emergency declared by the previous government.

Opposition parties which stood with the authorities against the coup expressed concern that the state of emergency could concentrate too much power in the hands of Erdogan, whose rivals have long accused him of suppressing free speech.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, who previously worked on Wall Street and is seen as one of the most investor-friendly politicians in the ruling AK Party, took to television, social media and news conferences in a bid to calm nervous financial markets and dispel comparisons with the past.

"The state of emergency in Turkey won't include restrictions on movement, gatherings and free press etc. It isn't martial law of 1990s," he wrote on Twitter. "I'm confident Turkey will come out of this with much stronger democracy, better functioning market economy & enhanced investment climate."

Death Penalty?


Markets were less confident. The lira currency was trading near a new record low on Thursday, while the main stock index tumbled 4.4 percent. The cost of insuring Turkish debt against default also surged.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the state of emergency was aimed at averting a possible second military coup.

But Erdogan, who has raised the possibility of reinstating the death penalty in Turkey to punish coup leaders, suggested in his comments to Reuters that the emergency was also aimed at eradicating supporters of Gulen in Turkey.

Referring to the Gulen movement, as it is known, he called it "another separatist terrorist organisation", drawing a parallel with Turkey's fight against Kurdish militants over the past three decades.

Erdogan, an Islamist, has led Turkey as prime minister or president since 2003.

"We will continue the fight ... wherever they might be. These people have infiltrated the state organisation in this country and they rebelled against the state," he said, calling the actions of Friday night "inhuman" and "immoral".

Around a third of Turkey's roughly 360 serving generals have been detained since the coup attempt, a senior official said, with 99 charged pending trial and 14 more being held.

The Defence Ministry is investigating all military judges and prosecutors, and has suspended 262 of them, broadcaster NTV reported, while 900 police officers in the capital, Ankara, were also suspended on Wednesday. The purge also extended to civil servants in the environment and sports ministries.

Erdogan compared the movement to a malignant cancer in the body that could spread and return if not eliminated.

Ankara has said it will seek the extradition of Gulen, who has denounced the coup attempt and denied any involvement.

The state of emergency went into effect after parliament formally approved the measure on Thursday.


Article Link to Reuters:

Friday, July 22, Morning Global Market Roundup: Asia Stocks Slide As Weak Results Halt Record Wall Street Run, Yen Holds Gains

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Nichola Saminather
Reuters
July 22, 2016

Asian stocks dipped on Friday after weak corporate results halted Wall Street's record run overnight, while the yen held to large gains made after the Bank of Japan governor downplayed the need for "helicopter money" stimulus.

European markets are also likely to open lower, with financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expecting Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE to open down 0.2 percent, and Germany's DAX.GDAXI and France's CAC 40 .FCHI to start the day 0.4 percent lower.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.4 percent. It remained close to its nine-month high seen on Thursday, and is headed for a fractional 0.1 percent gain on the week, ahead of the Group of 20 finance officials' meeting in Chengdu, China, this weekend.

China's CSI 300 index .CSI300 and the Shanghai Composite .SSEC both slipped about 0.5 percent. The CSI 300 is poised for a loss of 1.1 percent for the week, and the Shanghai Composite 1 percent.

New Zealand .NZ50 shares continued their record-setting trend, climbing 0.2 percent to hit a fresh all-time high on Thursday. They're headed for a 2.2 percent gain for the week.

Shares in Taiwan .TWII, Indonesia .JKSE and Thailand .SETI all closed at their highest levels in at least a year on Thursday.Australia ended at the highest point since Aug. 6, 2015, and Hong Kong .HSI set a 2016 high. All were trading lower on Friday, but set to end the week higher.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 closed down 1.1 percent, dragged down by the yen's 1 percent rally on Thursday. The index is still up 0.8 percent in a week in which it touched an eight-week high thanks to an initially weaker yen and hopes of fiscal and monetary stimulus.

In a BBC interview, recorded mid-June but broadcast on Thursday, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda ruled out the idea of using "helicopter money" - directly underwriting the budget deficit - to combat deflation.

"Pretty much everything is on the table when it comes to the next BOJ monetary policy decision on 29 July. Everything, that is, except for outright helicopter money," Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economic research at HSBC in Hong Kong, wrote in a note on Friday. "The case for more easing is evident, and markets are expecting swift and determined action."

Japan is likely to miss its deficit-cutting target in 2018 because the government has delayed a sales tax hike by more than two years, public broadcaster NHK said on Friday, citing an unidentified source.

The dollar was down 0.1 percent at 105.68 yen JPY= after coming off its peak of 107.49, its highest in six weeks, the previous day.

The dollar index was also flat at 96.948 .DXY, compared with its four-month peak of 97.323 scaled on Wednesday.

The euro was steady at $1.1020 EUR=. The common currency had briefly risen to $1.1060 on Thursday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi noted that growth and inflation were moving along the path projected in June.

As widely anticipated, the ECB stood pat on monetary policy on Thursday. But, despite Draghi's statement that more evidence was needed before any decision, the bank kept the door open to more policy stimulus, citing "great" uncertainty and risks to the region's economic outlook.

The Chinese yuan rose against the dollar for a fourth straight day, on track for its biggest weekly gain since April, with traders suspecting state-owned banks of supporting the currency.

The People's Bank of China set the midpoint rate CNY=SAEC at 6.6669 per dollar, 0.3 percent firmer than the previous fix of 6.6872. The spot yuan CNY=CFXS opened at 6.6715 per dollar and strengthened to 6.6692, compared with the previous close of 6.6765.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI on Thursday snapped a nine-day winning streak, during which it hit consecutive record highs, because of disappointing results from Intel and key transportation companies. [.N]

In commodities, crude futures resumed declines after a brief spell higher, extending big falls overnight. Data pointed to record U.S. stockpiles of gasoline and other oil products, when Iraqi crude exports are on the rise, heightening supply glut concerns.

Brent crude .LCOc1 reversed earlier gains to fall 0.3 percent to $46.07 a barrel after tumbling about two percent on Thursday. It is headed for a 3.3 percent drop for the week. [O/R]

U.S. crude CLc1 fell 0.6 percent to $44.49 a barrel, poised for a 3.2 percent fall in a week in which they touched a two-month low.

The pull back in stocks and dollar gave gold a boost. Spot gold XAU= jumped 1.2 percent overnight, but inched down 0.4 percent to $1,325.24 an ounce. Thursday's gains helped shrink losses for the week to 1 percent.


Article Link to Reuters:

Oil Futures Ease, Face Weekly Decline As Glut Fears Persist

By Keith Wallis
Reuters
July 22, 2016

Crude oil futures eased on Friday, extending big falls in the previous session as investors reassessed U.S. data underlining the glut in petroleum, while Iraqi crude exports are also on the rise.

The global oversupply of oil has been easing but with huge amounts of crude being held in tanks and tankers on land and water, the rebalancing has taken longer than many expected.

"The market is getting a little bit nervous about the medium term. The inroads into global stockpiles of oil are not as great as anticipated," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at Sydney's CMC Markets.

Brent crude fell 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $46.09 a barrel as of 0700 GMT after closing 2.1 percent lower in the previous session. Brent is on track for a decline of more than 3 percent for the week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped 27 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $44.48 a barrel after ending the previous session down 2.2 percent.

A weaker U.S. dollar helped support prices, which scraped into positive territory earlier in the session.

The dollar index slipped against a basket of currencies on Friday. A weaker greenback it makes dollar-traded commodities, including oil, cheaper for holders of other currencies.

While U.S. production has been falling, crude inventories are at a historically high of 519.5 million barrels for this time of year, the EIA said earlier this week.

Total U.S. crude and oil product stocks rose 2.62 million barrels to an all-time high of 2.08 billion barrels as gasoline stocks posted a surprise build of 911,000 barrels during summer driving season.

"There is so much oil in storage that it will take months to truly feel the erosion of the overhang," Energy Aspects said in a note.

In the Middle East, Iraq's oil exports are set to rise in July, according to loading data and an industry source, putting supply growth from OPEC's second-largest producer back on track after two months of declines.

Exports from southern Iraq in the first 21 days of July have averaged 3.28 million barrels per day (bpd), according to loading data tracked by Reuters and an industry source. That would be up from 3.18 million bpd in June.

The rise came as a report by BMI Research on Friday said fundamentals in the Asian diesel market remain weak, as demand for the fuel continues to wane in key Asian markets.

"Tight margins, ample supplies and brimming stockpiles at key diesel storage hubs suggest that a pullback in diesel output is imminent," the report said.


Article Link to Reuters:

Facebook's Solar-Powered Internet Drone Takes Flight

By Yasmeen Abutaleb
Reuters
July 22, 2016

Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Thursday it had completed a successful test flight of a solar-powered drone that it hopes will help it extend internet connectivity to every corner of the planet.

Aquila, Facebook's lightweight, high-altitude aircraft, flew at a few thousand feet for 96 minutes in Yuma, Arizona, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page. The company ultimately hopes to have a fleet of Aquilas that can fly for at least three months at a time at 60,000 feet (18,290 meters) and communicate with each other to deliver internet access.

Google parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) has also poured money into delivering internet access to under served areas through Project Loon, which aims to use a network of high-altitude balloons to made the internet available to remote parts of the world.

Yael Maguire, Facebook's engineering director and head of its Connectivity Lab, said in an interview that the company initially hoped Aquila would fly for 30 minutes.

"We're thrilled about what happened with our first flight," Maguire said. "There are still a lot of technical challenges that need to be addressed for us to achieve the whole mission." He said he hoped the system might be brought into service "in the near future."

Zuckerberg laid out the company's biggest challenges in flying a fleet of Aquilas, including making the plane lighter so it can fly for longer periods, getting it to fly at 60,000 feet and creating communications networks that allow it to rapidly transfer data and accurately beam down lasers to provide internet connections.

Maguire said Aquila will go through several more test flights and hopes it will soon break the world record for the longest solar-powered unmanned aircraft flight, which currently stands at two weeks.

Facebook, which has more than 1.6 billion users, has invested billions of dollars in getting more people online, both through an initiative called internet.org - which offers a pared-down version of the internet to poor areas - and by building drones.


Article Link to Reuters:

What We Learned In Trump’s Cleveland

The GOP remains divided on ideology, united on attitude.


By Michael Grunwald
Politico Magazine
July 22, 2016

Stephen Moore, one of the Republican Party’s top free-market economists, was holding forth on Donald Trump’s heresies from conservative orthodoxy. Trump’s hostility to free trade, he said at a Politico event at the GOP convention, was “a red flag.” Trump’s restrictive immigration policies, he suggested, would deprive the economy of a source of vibrancy. And even though Moore adores tax cuts, he said Trump’s $10 trillion plan to slash rates “wouldn’t work.”

Trump is not a typical Republican nominee, a flamboyant political newcomer from Manhattan who deviates from the traditional party line on a slew of domestic and foreign policy issues, and it’s no surprise that some GOP regulars are struggling to get comfortable with his views. But Moore is not a typical GOP regular; he’s one of Trump’s campaign advisers. In an interview, Moore said that Trump would soon scale back his tax plan, and that he has already moderated his rhetoric on trade. But he did not try to describe Trump as an economic conservative.

“He’s coming around,” Moore said. “He’s certainly much better than Hillary Clinton.”

Politics is full of compromises, and nominees like Mitt Romney, John McCain and George W. Bush also strayed from the traditional GOP agenda in various ways. But Trump has strayed in so many crucial ways—rejecting entitlement reforms, attacking the Iraq war, questioning America’s commitment to protect NATO allies—that his nomination has raised questions about what the GOP agenda really is and what it will become. The simmering tensions between conservatism and populism that boiled in Cleveland will complicate Trump’s campaign for the White House, but they could also define the battle for the party’s identity for decades to come.

"The simmering tensions between conservatism and populism on display in Cleveland could define the battle for the GOP’s identity for decades to come."

The convention was supposed to be about party unity, but by the time Trump finished his speech late Thursday night, the rifts among the GOP’s factions had been displayed to the nation. The convention mostly embraced the nominee’s basic law-and-order, anti-Clinton, change-is-coming message, but there were still obvious tensions among the party’s religious, corporate, and national security wings —and some Republicans still refused to board the Trump train.

The thrice-married non-religious billionaire chose a once-married evangelical running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who is a traditional conservative on just about every foreign and domestic issue. But some conservatives still stayed away, and Senator Ted Cruz dramatically refused to endorse him on Wednesday night. Others endorsed Trump with varying degrees of enthusiasm, either emphasizing existing areas of agreement, expressing hope that he’ll move in more conservative directions, or merely accepting him as a suboptimal alternative to a hated Democratic politician. Former Congressman Bob Barr, a former Cruz supporter from Georgia, best expressed the fatalism of that resignation caucus: “It is what it is. We are where we are. We have who we have.”

For years, the GOP has managed to paper over the differences among its social conservatives, economic conservatives, and neoconservatives. But Trump is not a religious man, and the convention reinforced his disdain for free-trade deals and the Republican donor class, as well as American intervention in Iraq and Libya. In Cleveland, the tensions surfaced repeatedly—when Governor Chris Christie accused Hillary Clinton of sabotaging “Buy American” government purchasing provisions that market-friendly congressional Republicans opposed, or when Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel criticized “dumb wars” and said he was proud to be gay, or when numerous speakers blasted Clinton as soft on Russia before Trump made it known he might not try to stop Vladimir Putin from invading the Baltics.

Some conservative Republicans took heart in Trump’s general apathy about policy, figuring he might eventually adopt their positions, or at least go along with legislation pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican Congress. But on economics, for example, while some free-market true-believers accentuated the positive, noting that Trump hasn’t threatened to launch any trade wars with huge tariffs lately, other Tea Party conservatives, like Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina, said they’re preparing for extended fights over trade and limited government whether Trump wins or loses.

“There are a lot of issues with Trump that are giving serious conservatives a lot of heartburn,” he said in an interview on the convention floor. “They’re not going to be resolved in four days or four months. This is a long game.”

So what do Republicans have in common in the age of Trump? He has pledged to support conservative priorities like tax cuts, fossil fuels, more military spending, abortion restrictions, and Supreme Court justices in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia. Pence focused on those policies in his convention speech, avoiding trade, Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, his “America First” homage to U.S. isolationism, and other issues that divide the party. But Trump has suggested that all his policies are negotiable, and many conservatives doubt he has any principled commitment to the conservative policies he has endorsed.

The raucous Cleveland convention suggested the common ground between Trump populists and traditional Republican activists is more attitudinal than ideological. Even delegates who originally supported other candidates said they liked Trump’s focus on national decline and global chaos in the Obama era, his rejection of political correctness and racial hypersensitivity, the way he sides with cops, soldiers and ordinary American citizens over Black Lives Matter protesters, Muslims and “illegals.” They’re tired of America getting pushed around, and they believe Trump projects strength. They like his muscular rhetoric about law and order, bombing the hell out of ISIL, and keeping Americans safe. It was no coincidence that Trump reminded his audience of the image of American soldiers temporarily held at gunpoint after straying into Iranian waters earlier this year.

“People want to know they won’t be attacked by a jidahist or an MS-13 gangster,” said Sam Mullins, a petroleum geologist who supported Scott Walker, then Ben Carson, and then Cruz before becoming a Trump delegate. “Trump is saying: No more Benghazis. No more pandering to Syrian refugees and transgenders instead of the heartland of America. No more gutting our military and forcing our boys to fight with their hands behind their backs. Enough.”

"It was hard to ignore the racial undertones of their anger, their sense that the multicultural Obama coalition is displacing them."

Most of the delegates in Cleveland seemed much less interested in Trump’s opposition to free-trade deals or his willingness to abandon NATO allies in the Baltics than their sense that he was on their side against welfare moochers, race hustlers and pointy-headed bureaucrats. They shared a Fox News-infused sense that the country they love is slipping away from them, that the undocumented can get driver’s licenses while the oil industry can’t get drilling permits. They claimed again and again that President Obama has divided the nation along racial lines with his rhetoric, which Trump then repeated in his acceptance speech. “Our president won’t even say: Hey, people, stop shooting cops,” said Rick Johnson, the former speaker of the Michigan state assembly. Told that Obama gave a eulogy for the officers killed in Dallas, Johnson replied: “I haven’t heard that.”

Of course, almost all of the delegates in Cleveland were white, and it was hard to ignore the racial undertones of their anger, their sense that the multicultural Obama coalition is displacing them. For example, Mitch Mitcheltree, a retired Air Force pilot and business owner in Athens, Ga., complained that in the era of Obama—who he said was “raised as a Muslim”—newspapers won’t even print the race of criminal suspects. “It’s only when you see the picture you can find out the perpetrator was black,” Mitcheltree said. “Trump doesn’t believe in that PC stuff.”

What truly united most Republicans was their distaste for Obama, the Democratic Party, and especially Hillary Clinton. Christie’s rollicking mock trial of her alleged crimes against the national interest got the crowd more fired up than Trump’s initial video greeting to the convention. Susan Richardson, a former chair of the Tennessee state party, says Republicans are divided about many issues, but many of them want smaller government, most of them want lower taxes, and none of them want to see another Clinton in the White House.

“If we can just stop arguing about the other stuff, we’ll be fine,” she said.

"The long-term question is how deep Trumpism runs in the party, and how much of it will fade away if Trump loses."

For the last eight years, Republicans have behaved less like a conservative party than an anti-Obama party. They waged war against the president from his first week in office — not only over progressive priorities like subsidized health care, Wall Street reform, climate action, and tax hikes on the rich, but over Common Core educational standards, infrastructure projects, small-business tax cuts, and other federal initiatives that Republicans traditionally supported. So it made sense that the GOP electorate turned to Trump in 2016. There were 16 more conservative candidates in the primary, but he was the ultimate anti-Obama candidate, questioning not only the president’s policies but his citizenship.

The long-term question is how deep Trumpism runs in the party, and how much of it will fade away if Trump loses. His crusade against free trade may have already doomed Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership deal with Asian nations, which will depend primarily on Republican votes in Congress. After Mitt Romney lost to Obama in 2012, an “autopsy” by Republican leaders concluded that the GOP would need to embrace comprehensive immigration reform if it wanted to compete for the growing Latino vote, but Trump’s crusade for a wall and deportation may have snuffed that out, too.

For now, though, what binds the Republican electorate is the anger and resentment on display in Cleveland, and the 2016 election will depend on whether Trump can spread it to a majority.

Frank Antenori, a former state senator from Chocise, Arizona — the town, he pointed out, where Geronimo surrendered to the cavalry — laughs when he hears reports that his red state may be competitive in November. He says his neighbors are sick of paying for medical treatment of undocumented immigrants “every time they get a boo-boo or a runny nose,” sick of spending money on aid to foreign countries when Americans need help at home, sick of Democrats who play the race card every time white people raise their voices. Antenori says that America is on the brink of anarchy, that the world has gone over the brink, and that a silent majority is yearning for change.

“You can call it anger,” he said. “You can call it frustration. But people are tired of it.”


Article Link to Politico Magazine:

Koch: The Closing Of the American Mind

There are dangerous signs that the U.S. is turning its back on the principles of a free and open society that fostered the nation’s rise.


By Charles Koch
The Wall Street Journal
July 22, 2016

I was born in the midst of the Great Depression, when no one could imagine the revolutionary technological advances that we now take for granted. Innovations in countless fields have transformed society and radically improved individual well-being, especially for the least fortunate. Every American’s life is now immeasurably better than it was 80 years ago.

What made these dramatic improvements possible was America’s uniquely free and open society, which has brought the country to the cusp of another explosion of life-changing innovation. But there are dangerous signs that the U.S. is turning its back on the principles that foster such advances, particularly in education, business and government. Which path will the country take?

When I attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1950s, I quickly came to appreciate that scientific and technological progress requires the free and open exchange of ideas. The same holds true for moral and social progress. I have spent more than a half-century trying to apply this lesson in business and my personal life.

It was once widely accepted that progress depends on people challenging and testing each other’s hypotheses. This leads to the creation of knowledge that, when shared, inspires others and spurs the innovation that moves society forward and improves lives. It is a spontaneous process that is deeply collaborative and dependent on the contributions of others. Recall Sir Isaac Newton’s statement that he achieved so much by “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Scientific progress in seemingly disparate fields creates opportunities for fusion, which is where the greatest innovations often occur. The British writer Matt Ridley has brilliantly described this process as “ideas having sex.” Today, this creation-from-coupling is evident in, for example, the development of driverless cars, which combine advances in transportation and artificial intelligence. When seen through this prism, the opportunities for life-altering innovation are limitless.

Despite our enormous potential for further progress, a clear majority of Americans see a darker future. Some 56% believe their children’s lives will be worse off than their own, according to a January CNN poll. A Rasmussen poll released the following month found that 46% believe America’s best days are behind it. Little more than a third believe better days lie ahead.

I empathize with this fear. The U.S. is already far down the path to becoming a less open and free society, and the current cultural and political atmosphere threatens to make the situation worse: Growing attacks on free speech and free association, hostile rhetoric toward immigrants, fear that global trade impoverishes rather than enriches, demands that innovators in cutting-edge industries first seek government permission.

This trajectory takes the U.S. further away from the brighter future that is otherwise within reach. Resisting calls to exclude, divide or restrict—and promoting a free and open society—ought to be the great moral cause of these times. The most urgent tasks involve the key institutions of education, business and government.

Education in America, and particularly higher education, has become increasingly hostile to the free exchange of ideas. On many campuses, a climate of intellectual conformity has replaced open debate and inquiry, stifling discussion on a host of topics ranging from history to science to economics. Dissenters are demonized, ostracized or otherwise treated with scorn and derision. This disrupts the process of discovery and challenge that is at the root of human progress. Holland embraced this philosophy—best expressed by the phrase “Listen even to the other side”—in the 17th century, contributing to it becoming the most prosperous country in the world at the time.

Similarly, in business the proliferation of corporate welfare wastes resources and closes off opportunity for newcomers. It takes many forms—direct subsidies, anticompetitive regulations, mandates, tax credits and carve-outs—all of which tip the scales in favor of established businesses and industries. The losers are invariably the new, disruptive and innovative entrepreneurs who drive progress, along with everyone who stands to benefit from their work. Just ask the citizens of Austin, Texas, who recently lost access to Uber after a campaign backed by its competitors in the taxi industry.

Government, which often has strong incentives to stifle the revolutionary advances that could transform lives, may be the most dangerous. The state often claims to keep its citizens safe, when it is actually inhibiting increased individual well-being. See, for example, the FDA’s astronomically expensive and time-consuming drug-approval process, which University of Chicago professor Sam Peltzman argues has caused “more sickness and death than it prevented.” These kinds of harmful barriers to life-enhancing advances exist at every level of government.

Unleashing innovation, no matter what form it takes, is the essential component of truly helping people improve their lives. The material and social transformations in my own days have been nothing short of astonishing, with a marked improvement in well-being for all Americans. If the country can unite around a vision for a tolerant, free and open society, it can achieve even greater advances, and a brighter future for everyone, in the years ahead.


Article Link to the Wall Street Journal:

Noonan: Trump And The Unknowable Moment

His speech was neither eloquent nor lofty, but it was powerful.


By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal
July 22, 2016

Two headlines on the week, and some speeches.

Donald Trump effectively won the Republican primary in the first week of May, meaning the GOP has had 2½ months to do what it has always done, even under duress, such as in 1964 and 1976: come together. They have not. From day one of the convention it was clear the GOP is a bitterly divided party and not even bothering to hide it.

It failed to unite not because it had poor leadership or the nominee didn’t know how to do it, though both are true. More killingly it failed to unite because it didn’t want to. Everyone’s in his corner. Donald Trump failed to change his style in a way that would have given cover to those who would have, with considerable relief, joined him. On the other hand, anti-Trump forces continued to look down on Mr. Trump’s supporters and grant them nothing in terms of motivation, sincerity, insight.

Most important, though no one in Cleveland was keen to talk about it, there is the split between the base and the top on such huge and fundamental issues as immigration, trade and entitlements. The base came to this convention, which was middle-class and dressed down. The wealthy and connected largely stayed away. You didn’t see them swanning from reception to party to caucus. It spoke volumes. Now and then you remember that snobbery is an actual force in life.

If each side hates the other and believes in different things, how do they come together again?

Connected to that, the second headline, which has to do with the unknowability of the moment we’re in. The shrewdest old political pro, the brightest young delegate, the owlish political journalist - they didn’t know exactly what they were witnessing. Was it the formal start of an epic political disaster? The birth of a new GOP more identified with the struggles of its base? Is 2016 a particular and contained event, or does it mark the beginning of some long-term realignment? As for Mr. Trump, is he a lightning storm that lit things up, caused some damage, will play itself out and pass? Or is he an earthquake that changed the actual shape of things, the literal lay of the land?

Nobody involved here, nobody watching, knew. I’ve never quite seen such intellectual modesty among people who are usually quick in their eagerness to explain it all to you.

There were a number of good speeches. Donald Trump Jr. was strong and persuasive on Tuesday night. The next morning, at a Wall Street Journal event, he made a better case for his father than his father has. He talked about the forgotten middle American and referred to himself, humorously, as “a Fifth Avenue redneck.” When pressed on how a man as divisive as his father could unify the nation, he answered that one way to unify the country is to see that its people have jobs: “When people are doing well it’s amazing how much unity you’ll get from that.” I had the distinct impression I was listening to a future political candidate.

Mike Pence’s speech was modest, simple and strong. He is going to be a powerful and effective figure in the coming campaign. A longtime staffer told me he was surprised how relaxed the governor was as he prepared. He’d seen him over the years be nervous about smaller, less important speeches. Mr. Pence, the staffer said, told him the reason was that he was completely at peace with his decision to run with Mr. Trump.

Ted Cruz did himself damage. By the end of his tireless campaign for the nomination he was semi-endearing. Wednesday night he resurrected Snaky Ted. He spoke highly of freedom and went after President Obama. Sometimes he half-laughed after speaking a line, as if to say You know this is showbiz, right? It showed an unbecoming detachment. He told the audience not to stay home in November but vote for the right person, then forgot to say who that person might be.

If you can’t endorse, good for you and stay home. That isn’t politics, it’s basic human comportment. If someone you’re certain is awful invites you to a party, you politely decline. You don’t go, walk into the room, and punch your host in the head. Mr. Cruz miscalculated, thinking if he snubbed Trump half the delegates would cheer. Instead almost all booed. He thought the media would laud his courage and integrity. They saw him as wounded and treated him as prey.

When his campaign ended in June, I attended a small dinner in his honor. Mr. Cruz was charming, modest and funny. When we said goodnight I told him I felt, in retrospect, that I hadn’t always been just to him and was glad I’d have a chance to be more generous in the future. Apparently I will need still more time. What a jerk.

Donald Trump’s speech was important. He is a vivid figure and for a year has elicited strong reactions. By now he’s exhausting. We have Trump Fatigue. Also, who doesn’t know how he feels about him? His acceptance speech was an opportunity to break through in a new way and flesh out his purpose. I think he succeeded, though with a certain grimness. He’d probably reply that the times are grim.

We have to assess the true facts of our nation, he said: “We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.” He spoke of “the plain facts that have been edited out of your nightly news,” including the costs of illegal immigration and the victims of economic decline.

He argued that the past eight years of U.S. foreign policy have been disastrous to peace and stability. “But Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.”

Does he want a ban on Muslims? No. “We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place.” This stand has always driven his enemies crazy, and Mr. Trump usually spoke of it sloppily, either deliberately or not. But to most Americans it will sound like simple common sense.

He was frankly populist: “I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people who cannot defend themselves...My greatest compassion will be for our own struggling citizens.” He stands, he asserted, for “the forgotten”—not as their tribune or their leader, but “their voice.”

Cleverly: “My opponent asks her supporters to recite a three-word loyalty pledge. It reads, ‘I’m with her.’ I choose to recite a different pledge: ‘I’m with you, the American people.’ ”

It was not an eloquent speech, not lofty, very plain and blunt. It covered a lot of territory and went too long. It had no leavening humor. It is strange to see a New Yorker so uninterested in wit. It was at points too hyped and declarative, and it was sometimes grandiose.

But it was powerful. After reading a copy of the speech leaked in advance by a mischief maker, an anti-Trump conservative intellectual emailed me. “He’s going to win,” he said. The moment at least was not unknowable to him.


Article Link to The Wall Street Journal:

Krauthammer: The Two-Part Rebellion

Republican politicians find their own ways to come to terms with their party’s nominee.


By Charles Krauthammer 
The Washington Post
July 22, 2016

The main purpose of the modern political convention is to produce four days of televised propaganda. The subsidiary function, now that nominees are invariably chosen in advance, is structural: Unify the party before the final battle. In Cleveland, the Republicans achieved not unity, but only a rough facsimile.

The internal opposition consisted of two factions. The more flamboyant was led by Ted Cruz. Its first operation — an undermanned, under-planned, mini-rebellion over convention rules — was ruthlessly steamrolled on Day One. Its other operation was Cruz’s Wednesday-night convention speech in which, against all expectation, he refused to endorse Donald Trump.

It’s one thing to do this off-site. It’s another thing to do it as a guest at a celebration of the man you are rebuking.

Cruz left the stage to a cascade of boos, having delivered the longest suicide note in American political history. If Cruz fancied himself following Ronald Reagan in 1976, the runner-up who overshadowed the party nominee in a rousing convention speech that propelled him four years later to the nomination, he might reflect on the fact that Reagan endorsed Gerald Ford.

Cruz’s rebellion would have a stronger claim to conscience had he not obsequiously accommodated himself to Trump during the first six months of the campaign. Cruz reinforced that impression of political calculation when, addressing the Texas delegation Thursday morning, he said that “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” That he should feel so is not surprising. What is surprising is that he said this publicly, thus further undermining his claim to acting on high principle.

The other faction of the anti-Trump opposition was far more subtle. These are the leaders of the party’s congressional wing who’ve offered public allegiance to Trump while remaining privately unreconciled. You could feel the reluctance of these latter-day Marranos in the speeches of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

McConnell’s pitch, as always, was practical and direct. We’ve got things to achieve in the Senate. Obama won’t sign. Clinton won’t sign. Trump will.

Very specific, very instrumental. Trump will be our enabler, an instrument of the governing (or if you prefer, establishment) wing of the party.

This is mostly fantasy and rationalization, of course. And good manners by a party leader obliged to maintain a common front. The problem is that Trump will not allow himself to be the instrument of anyone else’s agenda. Moreover, the Marranos necessarily ignore the most important role of a president, conducting foreign and military policy abroad, which is almost entirely in his hands.

Ryan was a bit more philosophical. He presented the reformicon agenda, dubbed the Better Way, for which he too needs a Republican in the White House. Ryan pointedly kept his genuflections to the outsider-king to a minimum: exactly two references to Trump, to be precise.

Moreover, in defending his conservative philosophy, he noted that at its heart lies “respect and empathy” for “all neighbors and countrymen” because “everyone is equal, everyone has a place,” and “no one is written off.” Not exactly Trump’s Manichaean universe of winners and losers, natives and foreigners (including judges born and bred in Indiana).

Together, McConnell and Ryan made clear that if Trump wins, they are ready to cooperate. And if Trump loses, they are ready to inherit.

The loyalist (i.e., Trumpian) case had its own stars. It was most brilliantly presented by the ever-fluent Newt Gingrich, the best natural orator in either party, whose presentation of Trumpism had a coherence and economy of which Trump is incapable.

Vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence gave an affecting, self-deprecating address that managed to bridge his traditional conservatism with Trump’s insurgent populism. He managed to make the merger look smooth, even natural.

Rudy Giuliani gave the most energetic loyalist address, a rousing law-and-order manifesto, albeit at an excitement level that surely alarmed his cardiologist.

And Chris Christie’s prosecutorial indictment of Hillary Clinton for crimes of competence and character was doing just fine until he went to the audience after each charge for a call-and-response of “guilty or not guilty.” The frenzied response was a reminder as to why trials are conducted in a courtroom and not a coliseum.

On a cheerier note, there were the charming preambles at the roll-call vote, where each state vies to out-boast the other. Connecticut declared itself home to “Pez, nuclear submarines, and...WWE.” God bless the United States.


Article Link to the Washington Post: