Month: February 2016 (Page 1 of 3)

Monday Reading List: The end of the Bush era

My take on Jeb Bush dropping out of the presidential primaries, published at China.org.cn:

Jeb Bush had it all. The son of a president and the grandson of a senator, Bush had former White House advisors and power brokers behind him. Loyal Republican Party fundraisers were a phone call away. And they were loyal: Bush raised US$150 million for his campaign, the most of any Republican candidate, and spent tens of millions of dollars on TV ads attacking his rivals.

But none of that was enough to stave off inevitable defeat. After placing fourth in South Caroli-na’s primary, 14 points behind Ted Cruz and a fraction of a point ahead of John Kasich, Jeb Bush dropped out of the presidential race.

It had been a long time coming. For months he was stuck at 4-5 percent in national polls, with no sign of forward progress. Now Marco Rubio and John Kasich, whose supporters had long been calling on Bush to leave the race, will compete for most of Bush’s support.

Jeb Bush was cursed. For all the good the Bush name did, it was also a heavy weight around his neck. “Jeb!”, who dropped the family name from his logo, was constantly hounded by questions and comparisons to his unpopular brother. It didn’t help that when asked about the Iraq War, he fiercely defended George W. By the end of the campaign in South Carolina, Jeb was desperate enough to invite Dubya to campaign on the same stage as him.

Trump repeating himself

Donald Trump made a few gaffes during the debate Thursday night, and at one point he started repeating himself when Marco Rubio asked him about his healthcare plan. He insisted, “I don’t repeat myself.” Bombs and Dollars presents the Trump repeating himself montage:

trump and soros

Donald Trump vs George Soros: Who is the bigger Democratic donor?

Donald Trump has defended his tens of thousands of dollars in donations to Democrats, while running in the Republican primary for president, by saying he’s a businessman and he was just donating to them to get them to give him government favors.

But were his donations really just pay-for-play? Were his donations in line with the courtesy cash other businessmen give politicians? Or were they more on scale with what megadonors who try to influence elections give?

To find out, Bombs and Dollars visited the Federal Election Commission’s information database (which includes everything from 1997 to 2016) and ran the numbers on Donald Trump–then compared them to an avowed Democrat and one of the biggest fundraisers in U.S. politics, investor George Soros.

What did we find out? Trump is on par–and even surpassing–Soros in terms of donating to many key Democrats.

For example, while Trump has given $7,400 to Sen. Harry Reid, who served as the Democrat’s leader since 2005 and the Senate Majority Leader from 2007-2015, while Soros has only donated $2,400 to Reid. Trump also gave $4,000 to the previous Democratic leader in Senate, Tom Daschle, also more than Soros.

democrats trump soros

Besides just giving over $70,000 to individual Democrats who voted for Obamacare and urged its passage, Trump also donated to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Between 2004-08, when the Democrats shifted control of Senate by nine seats and took control of the Senate, Trump gave $67,500 to the DSCC.

Trump DSCC

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Losing Ohio, John Kasich calls on candidates losing their home states to drop out

Ohio Governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich unleashed a strange line of attack on fellow candidate and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Politico reports:

Kasich, whose campaign has been gasping for oxygen since his fifth-place showing in South Carolina and dead-last finish in Nevada, may have found some in a new Quinnipiac poll that shows Rubio trailing Trump badly in his home state of Florida. Kasich’s team leapt at the news, calling on Rubio to drop out of the contest and support a candidate more likely to win his home state.

Drop out if you aren’t winning your home state. That’s interesting coming from Kasich’s campaign.

The most recent Quinnipiac poll, taken between Feb. 16-20, has Donald Trump leading Kasich 31% to 26% in Ohio. Before that, the second most recent poll, from November-October 2015, has Trump up 23% to 13% (Ohio primary polls).

In Florida, Trump is leading with an average of 38.7% in the polls Real Clear Politics tracks, with Rubio second at 19.3%, and Kasich last at 4.0% (Florida primary polls).

Rubio has beat Kasich in three-out-of-four of the states that voted, finishing second at the last two, and leads Kasich 16.7% to 9.3% nationally (national polls).

Weekly Reading List: THAAD and EU MES to China

Apologies, for I have been busy PhD-ing. Some big news will come soon, so watch this space!

Also, we will welcome some big contributors as well.

Meanwhile, here’re some of my pieces. As you know, I haven’t been writing regularly either…I honestly have been busy as hell with my own research. But hopefully everything will be regular again soon!

Here’s the first, a lighthearted read of an Indian celebrating the Chinese New Year.

The second one talks about how an EU MES grant to China might change Euro economy.

And the third one debates why THAAD in South Korea is essentially a waste of money for the United States.

Happy reading!

MK1

HK rioters: Riot should be a “wake up call” to Hong Kong government

Why did protesters decide to tear bricks out of the sidewalk in Hong Kong on the night of February 8 and fight with police, risking arrest or abuse, even after police fired shots?

Hong Kong’s Next Magazine (February 16th issue) answers those questions by interviewing three protesters and rioters. Hong Kong democracy supporters are angry after years of being ignored by the government and politicians, having had their demands go unanswered, and having been hit with pepper spray and instances of police brutality during the mostly non-violent Occupy Central protests of 2014.

The three protesters were all given pseudonyms by the magazine, as there have been over 60 people arrested in the first week after the riot. Two were men and one was a women. Two came out after a police officer fired his weapon.

“A Bo”, who joined the protests from the start, a man born in the 1980’s, said he thought society is stuck in a rut and the mainstream democracy movement hasn’t been able to move forward through attempts at compromise. He thought more radical actions were the only answer.

“If you have too many fears, you have no way to protest,” he said, citing Occupy Central as one example of a movement that was paralyzed by anxiety. Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the Hong Kong University law professor who devised and led the Occupy Central campaign, spent much year leading up to the protests thinking about just protest theory and devising a code of conduct, but his strategy was ineffective. He almost chickened out; Tai ended up calling for the occupation to start after HKU students already started a short-term occupation on their own.

A Bo also took issue with pan-democrats who seem too critical of grassroots protesters at times. Various pan-democratic parties, of the nine who hold elected seats in the Legislative Council, have condemned certain protest groups for extreme actions like trying to break into the LegCo. The Democratic Party, which was criticized in 2010 for forging a compromise with the government, also condemned the Mongkok riots. The various pan-democratic parties often fight with each other over tactics and policies.

“No matter what we do, it seems like our fellow-travelers always denounce us in the end,” A Bo said. “The day the pan-democrats decide to finally wake up, we will already have dug our own graves.”

Gun fire encouraged others to join riots

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Colorado Senator: Don’t send terrorist suspects to prison that already holds Al Qaeda terrorists

Republican politicians continue to oppose U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where 91 prisoners continue to reside.

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner (R), whose home houses the ADX Florence supermax prison that houses multiple convicted terrorists and murderers, along with two other Republican senators, released a letter that said in part, “Our states and our communities remain opposed to moving the world’s deadliest terrorists to U.S. soil. The terrorists at Guantanamo Bay are where they should remain — at Guantanamo Bay.”

Among the deadly terrorists housed at ADX Florence are: Zarcarias Moussaoui, serving six life sentences for his role in 9/11; Ramzi Yousef, who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, and three other co-conspirators; four co-conspirators of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanaznia, which killed 224 people; Richard Reid, the failed shoebomber; Umar Abdulmutallab, the failed underwear bomber; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bomber; Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Terry Nichols, the Oklahoma City bomber; Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympics bomber; and Faisal Shahzad, the failed Times Square bomber.

Besides terrorists, there are also traitors, like Robert Hanssen, who passed information to the Soviet Union while working for the FBI, and gang leaders, including those affiliated with the Mexican Mafia and the Aryan Brotherhood.

In short, it’s a hardened group of thugs, currently 360 inmates, but no one has ever escaped. When Richard Lee McNair, originally convicted of murder, escaped from prison three times, he was sent to Florence supermax.

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Podcast: Major political earthquakes in UK and US in the last 24 hours


430353e5aa752b468ab98f5d681f2e8652907b81So, Trump won South Carolina, going against every political analysis…after kicking the Bush clan in the chin, going Truther on the Iraq war, regurgitating Democrat talking points, praising Putin, defrauding veterans, and yet he won the most militaristic state in the US. Now, my colleague and co-editor of this blog, Mitch Blatt thinks that there is still time, that establishment will bandwagon behind Rubio. But Republicans now are acting like crabs in a bucket, pulling each other down, so I remain skeptical. If this goes on, Hillary will be handed the Presidency in a plate.

In UK, Boris Johnson just went all guns blazing, and decided to campaign for Britain going out from the EU, thereby breaking and splitting the Conservatives, and joining with far right leaders like Nigel Farage and populist weirdos like George Galloway. george-galloway

All in all, everything changed in the last 24 hours, and we’re in for a bumpy ride in the next few months! Watch this space fellas!

 

jeb done

Bush drops out; I called it in May

After finishing fourth in South Carolina (results), 14 points behind Ted Cruz and just 0.2 points ahead of John Kasich, Jeb Bush has finally thrown in the towel.

This confirms what I said in May 2015:

It’s early in the campaign, so it is possible Bush will recalibrate and improve his performance, but, knowing what we know now, Jeb Bush isn’t likely to win the presidency.

Since leading the polls for the first half of 2015, Bush has struggled ever since Donald Trump entered the race on June 16, falling from 17 percent in the Real Clear Politics average on July 15, 2015 to 12 percent two months later and on a straight shot downhill until settling around 4-5 percent in December, despite having had well over $100 million injected into his super PAC.

Trump’s entrance into the race will be blamed by many for Bush’s loss, but the fact that Bush struggled so mightily in the face of Trump’s fire was really just the symptom of a bigger problem: Bush was never a skilled campaigner. It was something that was evident at least a month before Trump’s announcement (as my prediction suggests).

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Fug and Languor in Pre-election Slovakia

After a few weeks pause forced on me by an overly competent laptop servicemen, I can finally relate to Plato´s caveman at the moment of leaving the cave. Or to a person getting rid of a plaster. It is next to impossible to describe that state of disability when so much is happening in the world of politics and you can only helplessly and passively watch without commenting on it, though, maybe–try to imagine having your hands tied behind your back by a sinister PC doctor who does not explain or articulate prognoses. I have experimented and so I cordially do not recommend eating yourself through that frustration but anyway. Let´s recap on what happened meanwhile and on draft articles which I managed to trash as they seemed not to be relevant any longer.

Hunt on truth goes on and as a part of demonstrating the willingness to shut up any blithering journalist, an aspiring Italian PhD student researching on Egypt´s trade unions went to ride a metro in Cairo and … was found dead. Live from Italy, I can confirm that the country seems to be back to everyday life and the loss of Guilio Regeni´s life henceforth aggravates fellow students and reporters only.

The world opinion regarding immigration continues to clash and Austria sets asylum limits. Resentment goes viral, public opinion infected and passer-by, bearded hipsters are increasingly more often confused with Muslims.

Visegrad cooperation turns 25 and I feel slightly better that it is not only me who is getting old.

Pope visits Mexico, Ankara is shaken by the bus explosion, Zika spreads further, Apple encryption debate unfolds and the threat of Brexit remains to be the source of nightmares for many statesmen. Fighting in Syria as well as Trump are both far from coming to an end. Sex with animals remains banned in Germany.

Opinions and comments on these unfolding events mushroom faster than the situation on the ground manages to develop and so instead of adding to general confusion and ongoing debates, I will now take you to the Slovak Wonderland.

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