I’m back, folks. And it’s Super Tuesday, so we have a lot to get to this week. Before we plunge headlong into the most recent articles and our thoughts, I wanted to address you personally. Donald Trump is probably going to win the republican nomination for president. The various news sources I rely on to stay up-to-date have combined to form a single chorus, all belting the tune: Trump is now dangerous.
I have been wrestling with what Trump’s success as a presidential candidate means. No one expected him to be hanging around once voters started heading to the polls, let alone be the RNC’s front runner. Yet, here we are, watching events unfold in disbelief. But who is dangerous here?
Trump is what we make him. If he is dangerous, than we are dangerous. Our body politic is just that -- it is a reflection of us. Decades of choosing proverbial sugar over vegetables has led us here. The spectacle of the colosseum, beginning with Gore Vidal and William Buckley, has trumped (wordplay) the necessity for independent information. Political discourse in this country can be summed up as one side shouting at another. We are angry; fearful; vengeful toward those who do not share our political and religious ideologies.
Trump 2016 is our diabetes. We ate like shit for years, and this is the consequence. There are no scapegoats, no easy targets to crush with blame. There is only “we the people.”
• A Superdelegate with a Soul: Rep. Alan Grayson (D - FL) just did the unthinkable -- he let the people decide how he should cast his special VIP vote. And did they respond. According to Grayson’s blog, “Almost 400,000 Democrats voted at GraysonPrimary.com. More than the number who voted in the South Carolina primary. More than the number who voted in the New Hampshire primary and the Nevada caucus combined.” Regardless of your opinions on Bernie, this democratic approach to our “democratic” process should be noted. When accounting for Superdelegates, HRC has a 546-to-87 delegate lead over Bernie Sanders. Without them, they’re neck and neck.
• The Hillary Email Deluge: Roughly 2,000 emails that HRC had sent or received during her tenure as Secretary of State contained classified information, according to the State Department. The majority of them fell under the “confidential” level, which is the lowest form of classification. According to McClatchy, 23 of the emails were classified “secret,” which is the next level up from the bottom. Things are still not completely clear, however. Earlier this month, the State Department designated 22 of her emails “top secret,” although they were not classified as such during her tenure. This emails will not be made available to the public, so we are left guessing at what State officials discovered. Weird.
• Panda Watch 2016: It’s Super Tuesday, and that means a lot of voters are headed to the polls. For the Republicans, there are 595 delegates up for grabs; the Democrats are after 859 total delegates (not including Super-D’s). Realclearpolitics has average polls showing Trump with a commanding lead in most states; if he wins a hotly contested Texas, this thing is all but over for the RNC. Clinton is also polling much better than Sanders for most states. Because there are just too many states to list, here’s a breakdown of the national averages from RCP:
National Averages: Clinton 49.6%; Sanders 40% Trump 35.6%; Cruz 19.8%; Rubio 17%
• The Monsanto Provision: The House of Representatives handed the company a “gift,” according to the NYTimes, in the form of a paragraph introduced to a chemical safety bill that could assist the company in avoiding liability for a toxic chemical, of which Monsanto was the sole producer. The company insists that this was not a gift. House aides and staffers deny that it was a gift. But, again, the provision benefited the only manufacturer in the US of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. PCBs were banned in 1979 by the EPA, but the paragraph inserted (on Monsanto’s behalf?) will protect Monsanto from lawsuits. Directly from the article, “Congressional aides involved in the drafting [of the provision] said the language was inserted at the request of Republican staff members at the House Energy and Commerce Committee. One Republican committee aide disputed any suggestion that this was a gift to Monsanto, but he said he was not allowed to discuss the issue on the record.” Oh, ok.
• Harsher Sanctions on North Korea Inevitable: This progress is necessary to affect North Korea and their operations. I know it does not look like it because the effort is still sanctions and not real force. Sanctions for North Korea normally mean nothing because the government could not care less about the conditions that their citizens live in. This has much less to do with the sanctions themselves and far more to do with China getting on board that North Korea is crazy and needs to be held in check. Who knows how North Korea will react to China getting on board with sanctions. It will likely strain the big brother (China) protecting the little bully brother (North Korea) from getting beat up, which is the relationship that these two countries share. These sanctions will also be likely tougher than any that have been seen previously, mostly because if China is serious they will not be giving back channel support to North Korea. I personally see this as a very interesting story that we should keep our eyes on.
• Gazans Streaming into Sinai to Fight with IS: A major trend that is being seen in North Africa is organized Islamic terrorist groups flooding to the IS cause. HAMAS is one group, however, the scarier group that has recently done this is Boko Haram. Both of these groups do not get the press that they really deserve. In their controlled regions, they have a major impact. As IS reels from their recent financial losses, these financially self-sustaining groups willing to join the fight alongside IS could have a significant impact on operations, especially in Africa. This also has recruitment implications. Both of these groups have their own recruitment campaigns and training organizations that have proven successful. As these group ally themselves with IS they can gain the notoriety at low cost or risk to their own established groups. On the plus side, it opens the gates for the US and other countries countering terrorism to use the same targeting strategies that we are doing with IS on these groups. Since HAMAS and Boko Haram have been neglected by the international communities we may see increased targeting against these A-Holes too.
All that being said, it seems like Israel is preparing like Gimli at the battle for Helm’s deep crying, “Let Them Come.” This is not the first time Israel has had to deal with tunneling HAMAS in Gaza and the last time they dealt with it using a strong hand (see Operation Protective Edge). It seems to me that Israel has the best-equipped military and policy for dealing with Islamic Terrorist groups in the Middle East: zero tolerance.
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The Weekly Bust
Mar 1 2016
We're pretty convinced our democracy isn't working that great, and we have reason to believe that these problems are systemic. We will be covering a lot of these topics in our news updates. The recent spending bill passed in December was stuffed full of unwanted legislation. There's a major trade deal in the works -- the Trans Pacific Partnership. It would make private tribunals for corporations, allowing them to circumvent national laws. Help us get the word out.
A number of us have spent time on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. We've been at war for over a decade. New threats have emerged from the Islamic State, with a growing number of attacks taking place throughout the world. Mr. "X" brings his intelligence experience to bear by keeping us all up-to-date.
We're very concerned about the effect technology has on society and government. With the latest passing of a hush-hush Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act in the U.S., we grow worried. The fine line between security and liberty is getting blurred. France now faces renewed uncertainty as they grapple with a recent terrorist attack. And Edward Snowden is still seen as a traitor in the eyes of many in Washington. Jeff is our guy.
Dan lived through the financial melt-down of 2008, and although markets have rebounded in spectacular fashion, there is plenty to address. Recent tremors in Chinese markets have been felt in the U.S. Income inequality has become a major buzzword, and the prospects of a $15 minimum wage pose questions. We think there is a lot to talk about, and we'll be digging through the sludge in search of what's relevant. For Dan's latest article, click here.
A lot of our key themes have within them inherent questions of constitutionality. The 1st and 2nd amendments are a constant talking point. Blake cuts through the noise to give you an independent view of the issues and their standing with the constitution.
Middle East & ISIS
Tech & Privacy
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