February 11, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 6:12 PM

UNSERIOUS AT THE CORE:

The GOP's Rubio dilemma (W. James Antle III, February 11, 2016, The Week)

[T]here has been an argument among conservatives since at least the beginning of the Obama administration whether what they perceive as the president's bad policies stem from incompetence or a deliberate desire to transform -- some would say destroy -- America.

Rubio is squarely in the Obama-is-transforming-America camp.

The notion that one believes Obama-is-destroying-America ought to be a disqualifier by itself. 
Posted by orrinj at 5:56 PM

MAN ON A MISSION:

Jeb Bush Finds His Footing as the 'Anti-Trump' (Kenneth T. Walsh, Feb. 11, 2016, US News)

He has finally discovered his own mission, and this has brought him a new sense of confidence and strength as a presidential candidate, and has injected his campaign with new life.

Associates say Jeb has found a sense of purpose as "the anti-Trump," an apostle of civility and a defender of mainstream conservatism, and the only GOP candidate willing to consistently stand up to what he considers the bully of the 2016 cycle, GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Bush considers the billionaire real-estate developer a faux tough guy who likes to push people around and who is consumed by narcissism. This latter perception is anathema to Bush because his family has always hated unbridled ego and his grandmother warned against "The Great I Am." And Bush is convinced that if Trump is nominated he will suffer an ignominious defeat and drag many other Republican candidates down with him.

Posted by orrinj at 5:52 PM

MAKING THE PARTY SMALLER:

Cruz defends evangelist who said God sent Hitler to hunt Jews (ERIC CORTELLESSA, February 11, 2016, Times of Israel)

Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz's campaign said it "welcomes support" from faith leaders across the country, including that of Mike Bickle, who has said that God sent Hitler to hunt Jews, who works energetically to convert Jews to Christianity and who espouses views that biblical prophesy suggests a new era of concentration camps for Jews will unfold before the Second Coming.

"They don't vote for us anyway."

Posted by orrinj at 5:43 PM

THE BENEFITS OF A FASCIST INTERLUDE::

Uruguay's Quiet Democratic Miracle (UKI GOÑI, FEB. 9, 2016, NY Times)

With only 3.3 million inhabitants, Uruguay is the smallest nation by population in Latin America. Its giant neighbor Brazil, by contrast, has a population of more than 200 million. But what it lacks in numbers, Uruguay makes up for by ranking as the least corrupt and most democratic country in Latin America -- as well as only one of two, along with Chile, rated as a "high income" country by the United Nations.

Uruguay used to be known as the "Switzerland of South America," in part because of its banking secrecy regulations. But the phrase also speaks to a deep respect for the rule of law.

In a region where democracy is increasingly tested by economic mismanagement, political corruption, drug cartels and environmental crises, Uruguay is the only Latin American country ranked among the world's 20 "full democracies," according to The Economist's 2015 democracy index -- ahead even, by one place, of the United States.

The passionate nationalism prevalent elsewhere, often whipped up by populist leaders intent on clinging to power beyond their allotted presidential terms, is refreshingly absent in Uruguay. It is a preference some of Uruguay's neighbors would do well to emulate.

" 'Nation' is not a word we often use," says the Uruguayan historian Gerardo Caetano. "We prefer republic."

Perhaps because of this, Uruguay scores perfect 10s on the indexes of civil liberties and electoral process, a feat equaled only by Norway and New Zealand. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:27 PM

THE CULTURE WARS ARE A ROUT:

How American Teachers Are Miseducating Kids About Climate Change (FRANCIE DIEP, 2/11/16, Pacific Standard)

In a nationally representative sample made up of 1,500 teachers from all 50 states, 30 percent reported teaching that global warming "is likely due to natural causes," as opposed to human activity. Twelve percent said they don't emphasize to their students that people are the main driver of climate change. Six percent avoid mentioning why climate change is happening at all.

Thirty-one percent of teachers "teach both sides": On the one hand, they tell kids there's a scientific consensus that climate change is caused by humans, and on the other that "many scientists" think climate change is due to natural causes. Confusing!

Fifteen percent of teachers believe global warming is due mostly to natural causes. Seventeen percent believe natural and human causes are equally important.

Teaching in American schools is profoundly conservative.
Posted by orrinj at 5:12 PM

A TRILLION HERE, A TRILLION THERE...:

Marco Rubio's Campaign Declares War on Math (Jonathan Chait, 2/11/16, NY Mag)

The Tax Policy Center released on Thursday its analysis of Marco Rubio's ginormous-tax-cut plan. The figures are pretty staggering. Once fully in effect, Rubio's plan would increase the budget deficit by almost a trillion dollars a year.

Posted by orrinj at 5:01 PM

ALAWITES VS SALAFISTS VS TURKS VS RUSSIANS....

Russia PM warns foreign offensive in Syria could spark 'world war' (AFP, February 11, 2016)

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned Thursday that if Arab forces entered the Syrian war, they could spark a "new world war" and urged ceasefire talks instead.

February 10, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 6:07 PM

R-E-S-P-E-C-T:

As US braces for refugees, one Maine town offers lesson of inclusion (Jessica Mendoza, FEBRUARY 8, 2016, CS Monitor)

Fifteen years ago, Lewiston, Maine, became a prime destination for a wave of Somali immigrants who failed to find housing through a resettlement program established in nearby Portland, the state's largest city. At first, it was a struggle: local schools wrestled with a sudden influx of students who spoke no English, and white supremacist groups rallied against the newcomers' arrival.

But today, the former mill town of about 36,500 is home to an African community of 5,000 - and their presence can be felt throughout the city in mosques, shops, restaurants, and the local champion high-school soccer team that features players from Somalia and other African countries.

The key, some immigrants say, is earning their neighbors' respect.

"When Somalis came in, Lewiston people, Maine people, they think we need welfare, but we don't need welfare," said Shukri Abasheikh, who owns a general store that caters to the African community. "We need jobs. We need peace. We need education."

And, boy, does New England need immigrants.
Posted by orrinj at 5:52 PM

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS RACE:

The Latino Flight to Whiteness (WILLIAM DARITY JR. FEBRUARY 10, 2016, American Prospect)

The impact of Hispanic patterns of intermarriage supports Alba's words of caution about claims of a new American racial majority of color. By 2011, according to a study by Wendy Wang of the Pew Research Center, 26 percent of Hispanic newlyweds married non-Hispanics. Eighty percent of third-generation Hispanics are the offspring of mixed marriages. The consequences for Hispanic identification are striking. From one generation to the next, the descendants identify less as Hispanic and more as non-Hispanic white in a pattern that economists Brian Duncan and Stephen Trejo call "ethnic attrition." 

Posted by orrinj at 4:11 PM

OUR GRANDCHILDREN WILL WONDER THAT WE DID ANY LABOR AT ALL:

Don't tell Bernie Sanders, but capitalism has made human life fantastically better. Here's how (James Pethokoukis, February 9, 2016,  AEIdeas)


Yes, workers in advanced economies today are many multiples wealthier -- almost incalculably so -- than their counterparts in the early 19th century. But here is another way of looking at, thanks to a new study by consultancy Deloitte showing how technology-driving innovation has radically altered lives in Britain for the much better: [...]

2) It has been saving us from dull, repetitive, and dangerous work. Agriculture was the first major sector to experience this change. In 1871 it employed 6.6% of the workforce of England and Wales. Today that stands at 0.2%, a 95% decline.

020916Deloitte1

Posted by orrinj at 3:55 PM

NOT PERSONS EITHER:

Clinton Surrogate: Unions Are Just 'Super PACs That Democrats Like' (Bill McMorris, February 9, 2016, Free Beacon)

Failed presidential candidate Howard Dean attacked insurgent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., VT) on Friday for his criticism of Hillary Clinton's ties to Wall Street. Dean, a former Vermont governor and head of the Democratic National Committee, downplayed Sanders' frequent claim that he relies on small donors, rather than Super PACs, for his support.

"Frankly, for Bernie to say he doesn't have a Super PAC, labor unions are Super PACs," Dean told MSNBC on Friday. "Now, they're Super PACs that Democrats like, so we don't go after labor unions, but this is a double standard."

Unions are no more persons than corporations and both should be banned from giving to candidates.  Contributions to parties suffice.

Posted by orrinj at 3:47 PM

TAKE, TAKE, TAKE:

The Many Frenemies of Ted Cruz (ROBERT DRAPER, FEB. 8, 2016, NY Times Magazine)

Whenever Cruz has initiated efforts to forge alliances with colleagues, they have frequently gone awry. In the 2014 election cycle, he offered to campaign on behalf of George P. Bush, Jeb Bush's son, who was running for Texas land commissioner. But that was only after he refused to endorse Bush in the G.O.P. primary, when the candidate could have used some support -- rather than in the general election, when he was already coasting to victory against a weak Democrat. As one of Bush's allies put it, "It was obvious he just wanted to claim credit for George P.'s victory."

Similarly, Cruz offered his services in October 2014 to the Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst, who was in a close race with the Democratic candidate, Bruce Braley. "When she needed him -- which was during the primary -- he was nowhere to be found," recalls one of Ernst's former advisers. "Then, two weeks before the general election, when we're looking to appeal to swing voters, he tried to come into Iowa in a very crass maneuver. To a person, no one on the campaign thought that having Mr. Government Shutdown two weeks before the election was going to help anyone other than Ted Cruz. So we said no thanks."

More recently, Cruz rankled his fellow G.O.P. presidential candidate and professed friend, the easygoing Ben Carson, when on the day of the Iowa caucus his campaign circulated the erroneous claim that Carson was suspending his campaign. During last Saturday's debate, Cruz apologized but also seemed to blame the media for initiating the rumor -- an explanation that Carson clearly did not buy. Cruz's chief antagonist, Trump, gleefully took note of this. During the closing statements of the debate, when Cruz mentioned his victory in Iowa, Trump followed with a sneering, "That's because you stole Ben Carson's votes, by the way."

Posted by orrinj at 3:41 PM

THE ONLY EXISTENTIAL THREAT ISRAEL FACES:

Government ministers snub Reform Jews (Michael Boyden, 2/10/16. Times of Israel)

Deri's behavior is hardly surprising given his reaction to the recent agreement reached by Israel's government with the Women of the Wall over the issue of their demand to be able to worship as they wish at the Kotel. He is quoted as having said: "The problem of Reform and Conservative Jews did not exist until now in the State of Israel and I do not intend to let it happen now. There should be no compromise on this issue."

As a private citizen, Deri is entitled to his prejudices, but not while he serves as a Cabinet member, who is there to address the needs of the entire Jewish People.

Deri's insulting behavior follows that of deputy Minister of Education, Meir Porush, who was reported as having said that the Women of the Wall should be "thrown to the dogs" and that "the Reform are responsible for the terrible intermarriage that we've been witnessing in the United States".

If that were not enough, Israel's Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin, stated that "Reform Jews are a dying world" and chairman of the government's Finance Committee, Moshe Gafni, described them as "clowns who stab the holy Torah".

His remarks simply endorsed those of the Minister for Religious Affairs, David Azoulai, who is quoted as having said that he could not allow himself to refer to Reform Jews as Jews.

Now all of this could be brushed aside if one were talking about fanatical rabbis or inconsequential figures on the Israeli political stage. However, these are government ministers. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:45 PM

DOWN TO TRUMP OR JEB:

Rubio Just Collapsed (Jim Newell, 2/10/16, Slate)

Only a few days ago Rubio appeared poised to run away with the second leg of his "3-2-1" strategy, or perhaps even make a run for a wounded Donald Trump and begin with a "3-1" start. Either a first- or a significant second-place finish would have cleared the "establishment lane" of competitors such as Gov. Chris Christie; Gov. John Kasich; and, after another state or two of aimless money-burning, Jeb Bush. Natural nominating forces would have pushed Rubio--with the most room to grow and the most support within the party--to the top in the long term.

And then, during Saturday night's debate, he was discovered to have been a replicant all along. He "melted," as Christie put it. As of late Tuesday night, Rubio was in a three-way battle for third place with Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz--and technically sitting in fifth place as of this writing.

Coming out of NH we know that Cruz is not an alternative to Trump, because Trump is just more Cruz than Cruz.  We also know that an appetite remains for the moderate alternative, but that's not going to be the imploding Rubio or the one-state candidate, Kasich.  The party can rally around Jeb starting in SC or we get the Donald.



Posted by orrinj at 11:57 AM

GROWTH INDUSTRY:

California solar industry job growth reaches record levels (Ivan Penn, 2/10/16 LA Times)

By the end of 2015, that total number of solar workers in the state exceeded 75,000. That's more than all jobs held at state's five largest utility companies combined, according to the California Solar Energy Industries Assn.

"Solar power is a bright spot in California's economy, bringing jobs and economic development to every corner of the state," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the solar association. "While conventional energy industries are losing jobs, we are seeing record growth, and bringing clean air and climate solutions along the way."

February 9, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 7:11 PM

EVERYBODY BUT CHRISTIE IS ON TO SC:

Decision Desk HQ exit poll: Trump, Sanders win, GOP pile-up for second (SCOTT BLAND, 02/09/16, Politico)

Behind Trump, the exit poll put Cruz and Kasich tied at 15, Rubio at 11 and Bush at 10.

The poll suggested independent support for Kasich (23 percent) could boost him to a big finish.



Posted by orrinj at 7:06 PM

CONSERVATIVES VS THE FOUNDERS:

Judge Again Rejects Texas Bid to Block Syrian Refugees (Alexa Ura, Feb. 8, 2016, Texas Tribune)

A federal judge has again denied a bid by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to block the federal government from resettling Syrian refugees in the state.

Dallas-based U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey on Monday rejected Paxton's request for a preliminary injunction to bar the Syrian refugees, dealing another blow to Gov. Greg Abbott's vow -- made in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead -- to keep people fleeing the war-torn country out of Texas.  

"The Court does not deny that the Syrian refugees pose some risk. That would be foolish," Godbey wrote. "In our country, however, it is the federal executive that is charged with assessing and mitigating that risk, not the states and not the courts." [...]

The state's next move is unclear; Wise said the AG's office is "currently evaluating" its legal options moving forward. In his ruling, Godbey said Texas is unlikely to succeed in the lawsuit because it has "no viable cause of action" against the federal government.

Posted by orrinj at 6:59 PM

NOW RELEASE BARGHOUTI AND LET'S GET ON WITH OUR LIVES:

Hamas, Fatah agree on tentative steps toward reconciliation (TIMES OF ISRAEL,  February 9, 2016)

Hamas and Fatah reached a tentative agreement to push ahead with new elections and a mechanism for manning the Gaza border with Egypt after two days of reconciliation talks. [...]

The sides pledged to form a national unity government, to lay the groundwork for long-overdue presidential and legislative elections, and to renew their commitment to earlier accords which were signed but not implemented, according to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency.

Posted by orrinj at 6:33 PM

IT'S THE RELIGIOUS PARTY:

Illegal Immigration a Low Priority for Republican Voters (David R. Jones, 2/09/16, NY Times)

The issue of illegal immigration has been front and center throughout the Republican presidential campaign and the focus of heated exchanges in the debates. But only one in seven Republican primary voters in New Hampshire rated it the issue they cared most about this election cycle.

Further, asked whether most immigrants working in the United States illegally should be deported or offered a chance at legal status, a majority backed legal status.

Posted by orrinj at 6:28 PM

EVEN THE MINUTEMEN FLED:

The One Line in New Hampshire That Donald Trump Won't Cross : Searching for undecided voters above the 45th parallel. (Tim Murphy, Feb. 9, 2016, Mother Jones)

It's hard to get too lost on your way to Pittsburg, New Hampshire (pop. 869). You just drive north for a while. And then you keep driving north for a while longer. Pittsburg is New Hampshire's largest town by land area, covering nearly 300 square miles of North Country mountains and lakes and spanning the entire length of the state's international border with Canada. It's also one of the only corners of the nation's first primary state where candidates never go.

In a year in which Republican candidates have made the Rio Grande a mandatory stop on the presidential campaign trail, trekking to McAllen, Texas, to stare grimly into the Mexican desert, the far vaster northern border--the one terrorists have actually tried to come across--is a much different story. Of the hundreds upon hundreds of town halls and meet-and-greets in the 2016 election cycle, only one happened in Pittsburg. And it was held by Lindsey Graham.

(It's not just candidates who have a tendency to overlook Pittsburg; in the 1830s, it was excised from the United States by a vaguely written treaty, and it hummed along for three years as the independent republic of Indian Stream before the boundary was clarified.)

"[People] certainly can sneak through here, there's no doubt about it," said Laurie Urekew, braving the snow flurries on Saturday afternoon outside Young's general store, an all-purpose grocery and gas station that features a punching bag of President Barack Obama by the register. "But it's very vast here, so chances are someone from the southern area wouldn't survive too much."


This is where the Other Brother and his boys go to hunt.  You can walk into Canada.

Posted by orrinj at 6:23 PM

IRKING ALL THE RIGHT FOLKS:

Airbus deal takeoff irks Iranian hard-liners  (Rohollah Faghihi, 2/09/16, Al Monitor)


Many Iranians welcomed President Hassan Rouhani's recent tour of Italy and France, during which billions of dollars in deals -- including the purchase of 118 new Airbus passenger jets -- were hammered out. However, the hard-liners in Iran have been raging against the tour, considering it a major humiliation.

The first salvo came from historian Hussein Dehbashi, a critic of Rouhani, who penned a post on his Facebook page in which he slammed the Iranian president for appearing in a room dominated by a giant bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius at his joint press conference with the Italian prime minister. "[Roman Emperor] Marcus Aurelius [161-180] defeated Iranians in the era of the Parthian Empire. Why did the advisers of President Rouhani not pay attention to that?" Dehbashi wrote. Hard-line outlets warmly welcomed this censure, following Dehbashi's lead in attacking Rouhani.




Posted by orrinj at 6:18 PM

TURNOUT, TURNOUT, TURNOUT:

Iran's Khatami urges supporters to vote despite candidate crackdown (NASSER KARIMI AND ALI AKBAR DAREINI, February 9, 2016, Times of Israel)

In a statement issued late Monday, Mohammad Khatami said voting in the Feb. 26 parliamentary elections would serve "national interests."

Khatami said although it is disappointing that "capable" and "deserving figures" have been disqualified, people should vote because "massive participation" and "heated elections" are in their interests.

The reformist ex-president remains popular among young people and women, but is deeply disliked by hard-liners and the state media has banned the broadcast of his picture.

After weeks of intensive political lobbying by President Hassan Rouhani, the Guardian Council, Iran's hard-line constitutional watchdog, reversed a ban on 1,500 parliamentary candidates Saturday.

Posted by orrinj at 6:15 PM

A SIDE BENEFIT OF THE TRADE DEAL:

Iran nuclear deal delays bomb by 10-15 years: IISS chief (AFP February 10, 2016)

The deal between world powers and Iran has delayed Tehran's acquisition of nuclear weapons by 10 to 15 years, the head of a top defense think-tank told AFP on Tuesday.

The agreement struck in Vienna in July between Iran and the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5 plus one) sees sanctions progressively lifted in return for Tehran ensuring its nuclear program remains for civilian use.

"2015 was by and large a decent year for news on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," said John Chipman, the director-general and chief executive of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

"Principally because, of course, we did see in the last year the conclusion of the P5+1 agreement on the Iranian nuclear file."

Posted by orrinj at 5:05 PM

THE ECONOMY WON'T BE AN ISSUE:

America has near record 5.6 million job openings (Patrick Gillespie, 2/09/16, CNNMoney)

There were 5.6 million job openings in December, just shy of the all-time record of about 5.7 million set in July, according to Labor Department data published Tuesday.

Posted by orrinj at 3:32 PM

OUR UNICORN RIDER:

RubioBot : The question isn't whether Marco Rubio is a robot--it's who programmed him. (Franklin Foer, 2/09/16, Slate)

This image of Rubio as a cipher is at once an unjust caricature and a pretty accurate summation of his career. Since Rubio's earliest days in law school, Republican big wigs have swooned whenever he opens his mouth. They saw his silver tongue and charm, as well as a demographic dreamboat: the ambitious son of Cuban immigrants, who worked his way up from modest means in Florida, the state on which presidential elections turn. Rubio came on the scene as California Gov. Pete Wilson and his anti-immigrant crusade were crashing the Republican Party's share of the Latino vote. It was the very moment that George W. Bush and his mangled Spanish were making a concerted effort to undo that damage.

Rubio was an irresistible figure, quickly marked for bigger things. At every stage of his career, powerful benefactors--including Jeb Bush--pushed Rubio forward. It's how he became the youngest speaker of the Florida house. And it's the reason that strategists began imagining a Rubio presidential bid nearly as soon as he arrived in Washington. 

None of this distinguishes him from other bright young things in every state capital of America. Yet Rubio's ascent came with several clouds that he's never been able to escape. The first is ideological. His rapid-fire transformations on immigration--from Tea Party to Chuck Schumer's fellow gangster and back again--suggests that he lacks core beliefs. They create an impression of a man vulnerable to manipulation--without principles and courage, the very sort who would bend his views to those of his masters. 

Then there's the matter of Rubio's finances. As he freely admits, they are a mess. He's been saddled with debt, unable to cover the costs of family birthday parties and renovations to his home. (When he left the Florida state house in 2008, he had a net worth of $8,351.) The dire state of his bank accounts has made him reliant on benefactors. He needed the Florida GOP's American Express card to help him bridge his expenses. And more glaringly, he's relied on an old auto dealer called Norman Braman. Ever since Rubio entered politics, Braman has showered him with donations, hundreds of thousands of dollars of assistance, by the New York Times' estimation. He even gave Rubio's wife a job as an adviser to his family foundation. Back in 2008, Braman predicted that Rubio would be the first Hispanic president. Seeing that happen in 2016, he told the Times recently, is "part of my legacy." Rubio, meanwhile, has shoveled public money to causes dear to Braman, including a cancer research center bearing his name. 

Another accusation--or perhaps compliment--dogs Rubio. That he is the Republican Obama. 

Like Mr. Obama, he's so devoid of substance you can imagine him to be anything you want him to be.

MORE:
Billionaire Lifts Marco Rubio, Politically and Personally (MICHAEL BARBARO and STEVE EDER, MAY 9, 2015, NY Times)

A detailed review of their relationship shows that Mr. Braman, 82, has left few corners of Mr. Rubio's world untouched. He hired Mr. Rubio, then a Senate candidate, as a lawyer; employed his wife to advise the Braman family's philanthropic foundation; helped cover the cost of Mr. Rubio's salary as an instructor at a Miami college; and gave Mr. Rubio access to his private plane.

The money has flowed both ways. Mr. Rubio has steered taxpayer funds to Mr. Braman's favored causes, successfully pushing for an $80 million state grant to finance a genomics center at a private university and securing $5 million for cancer research at a Miami institute for which Mr. Braman is a major donor.

Even in an era dominated by super-wealthy donors, Mr. Braman stands out, given how integral he has been not only to Mr. Rubio's political aspirations but also to his personal finances.

Posted by orrinj at 3:29 PM

NO WONDER THE STARSHIP TROOPERS LOVE IT:

VA Hospital Care Improving, Study Suggests (Amy Norton, 2/09/16, HealthDay)

Researchers found that between 2010 and 2013, men treated for a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia at a VA hospital were slightly less likely to die in the next month, compared to similar men treated at a non-VA center.

Posted by orrinj at 1:26 PM

IT'S A DEFLATIONARY EPOCH:

Yield on Japan's 10-year bonds falls below zero (Phillip Inman, 9 February 2016, The Guardian)

A rush to "safe-haven assets" has sent the interest rate on Japanese 10-year bonds plummeting below zero, the first time in the history of government debt that the yield on a G7 country's 10-year bonds has been negative.

The interest rate on the 10-year Japanese government bond (JGB) touched minus 0.01% in trading on Tuesday.

And Japan is not a safe haven.  Only the US is.


Posted by orrinj at 1:20 PM

AND THEN IT GETS INTERESTING...:

A Party on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Ross Douthat, FEBRUARY 8, 2016, NY Times)

Sadly no political technologist has yet pioneered that kind of retroactive excision, so Rubio is going into the final forty-eight hours in New Hampshire with a bad debate moment that plays directly into his foes' main line of attack -- that he's a callow scripted smoothie -- hanging over his head. Which, in turn, raises the odds that someone else might be the candidate of late deciders ... and after a debate in which nobody laid a glove on him, that someone else could very well be John Kasich, who has the distinction of being the establishment Republican least equipped for a long drawn-out post-New Hampshire primary campaign.

At which point we would be in truly chaotic territory, in which the Republican Party's ideological center, such as it is, would have great difficulty holding. A Rubio-Cruz-Trump race, as I've pointed out before, would already be the most ideologically consequential primary battle the G.O.P. has featured in decades if not generations. But at least it would be a relatively orderly battle, in which most of the party leadership would end up behind the Florida senator, rather than turning the knives on one another. If Rubio can't consolidate things, though -- if he falls into a tie with Jeb, let's say, while Kasich is alone in second place -- then we're in a situation where Jeb might stick around till Florida and Kasich till Ohio, both on March 15th, an eternity away.

If Trump wins tonight but is below thirty percent and a governor (either Kasich or Jeb) beats Cruz and Rubio, then it's open for Jeb in SC.

Posted by orrinj at 1:15 PM

TRADE, THE WoT AND GOLF:

ISIS 'is not sustainable' -- here's the latest sign the group is losing (Jeremy Bender, Feb. 8, 2016, Business Insider)

These blows have significantly lowered the amount of capital ISIS has on hand -- the militants announced in January that fighters in Iraq and Syria would be suffering from a 50% pay cut across the board. 

"These issues suggest that as an entity that is determined to hold onto territory, the Islamic State is not sustainable," Jacob Shapiro, an expert on ISIS and a Princeton University politics professor, told WaPo. 

Indeed, the pay cuts and battlefield losses have led to higher instances of both "for-profit militants" in ISIS's ranks looking "for better deals" with other factions, as well as a decrease in the number of foreign fighters flowing into the group's ranks, Vera Mironova, an expert at Harvard University's Belfer Center, told WaPo. 

This decline in replenishing foreign fighters has cut the ability of ISIS to operate as effectively. ISIS is also further hampered by Turkey's decision to more tightly patrol its southern border, which has limited the ability for potential recruits to flow into Syria.

Ankara and the US are also in talks to train a Sunni Arab paramilitary force that would function on the Syrian side of the border in an effort to fully disrupt ISIS's ability to bring in supplies and fighters. 

Such setbacks are ripe for causing unrest amongst the various factions operating within the militant organization. ISIS already suffers from deep divisions between foreign and local fighters within its organization, and a series of continued losses is likely to only further increase tensions among the competing forces in the group. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:11 PM

OUR UNICORN RIDER:

The Anxiety Of Being Marco Rubio : Rubio's flustered debate performance revealed something his close friends and allies have long known about him. "Marco, calm down." This story is partially adapted from my book, The Wilderness. (McKay Coppins, 2/09/16, Buzz Feed)

Millions of people watched Marco Rubio's televised tailspin in the opening minutes of last weekend's Republican presidential debate -- but what, exactly, they saw depended on the viewer.

To rivals, Rubio's reflexive retreat to the same snippet of well-rehearsed rhetoric -- over and over, and over, and over again -- was proof of the freshman senator's status as a lightweight. To supporters, the wobbly display was a forgivable fluke, one bad moment blown wildly out of proportion by a bloodthirsty press corps.

But to those who have known him longest, Rubio's flustered performance Saturday night fit perfectly with an all-too-familiar strain of his personality, one that his handlers and image-makers have labored for years to keep out of public view. Though generally seen as cool-headed and quick on his feet, Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness -- and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined.

This jittery restlessness has manifested itself throughout Rubio's life, from high school football games in Miami to high-profile policy fights in Washington -- and in some ways, it's been the driving force in his rapid political rise.
When Rubio was nearing the end of his final term as Speaker of the Florida House in 2008, he invited a small circle of loyal donors, local activists, and friendly media figures to an intimate breakfast meeting at Miami's Biltmore Hotel to help him plot his next move. The consensus at the table was that he should wait for the right statewide race to open up -- attorney general, maybe, or even governor. But Rubio, feeling the familiar itch of the achievement junkie, was distressed by the prospect of patiently waiting around. The next race he could conceivably enter was for the Miami-Dade mayorship, and according to people familiar with the meeting, Rubio worked himself into a minor tizzy trying to convince his skeptical breakfast companions that he should run: What if his donors got poached while he was out of the spotlight? What if his supporters abandoned him? He could be finished in politics if he screwed this up!

As his voice betrayed a growing agitation, some at the table began exchanging sideways glances, perplexed by the spectacle and slightly embarrassed for Rubio. Finally, Ninoska Pérez Castellón, a popular local radio personality who frequently interviewed Rubio on air, felt it necessary to interject with some tough love.

"Marco!" she snapped. "You could be governor, or even in Congress! You don't want to burn yourself as mayor of Dade County." Slow down and stop worrying so much, she told him. "People aren't going to forget you."

As one of the breakfast attendees recalled of the scene, "He was just missing that sense of maturity you want."



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