Sunday, January 19, 2020
But the news from China is a reminder that a harsher sort of memory is appropriate. As we contemplate the demographic challenge of the future, we should reserve particular opprobrium for those who chose, in the arrogance of their supposed humanitarianism, to use coercive and foul means to make the great problem of the 21st century worse.
Last year, the S&P 500 rose by 29%, the NASDAQ by 35%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 22%. Middle-class Americans are increasingly reliant on their 401(k)s and pensions to live comfortably during retirement. Millions of other Americans depend on college-savings funds to help pay for their kids' educations. And even those without a stock portfolio benefit from a vibrant market, which generates profits that are invested in hiring, innovation and salaries while helping move money from unprofitable sectors to more profitable ones.
Actually, I think the case that the rise in the stock markets is an asset price bubble maintained by the bafflingly low interest rates promoted by the Fed and PDT even more so, is pretty strong. Whether this bubble will pop next year or ten years from now, I don't know, and nobody else seems to either. I suppose one could buy a bunch of puts, but that's very expensive, as one would expect it would be if lots of people thought it might happen.
Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss | TheHill
"I am familiar with the resolution as it stood a day or two ago," Hawley told the news source.
"My understanding is that the resolution will give the president's team the option to either move to judgment or to move to dismiss at a meaningful time," the junior senator continued.ADVERTISEMENT
Hawley also said that he would be "very, very surprised" if the final resolution didn't give Trump's lawyers that ability and that he might not vote for it.
Earlier this week, McConnell told reporters that "there is little or no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss. Our members feel that we have an obligation to listen to the arguments."
CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico (AP) — Mexican authorities closed a border entry point in southern Mexico on Saturday after thousands of Central American migrants tried to push their way across a bridge spanning the Suchiate River between Mexico and Guatemala.
Honduran migrants waved their country’s flag and sang the national anthem as they approached the bridge. At the height of the confrontation, Guatemalan authorities estimated 2,500 migrants were on the bridge, or attempting to get on it.
The NYT cryptically reported this caravan was supported by some international NGO or something, if I remember correctly.
NEW YORK (AP) — Federal authorities are turning to a new tactic in the escalating conflict over New York City’s so-called sanctuary policies, issuing four “immigration subpoenas” to the city for information about inmates wanted for deportation.
“This is not a request — it’s a demand,” Henry Lucero, a senior U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, told The Associated Press. “This is a last resort for us. Dangerous criminals are being released every single day in New York.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration said Saturday the city would review the subpoenas.
“New York City will not change the policies that have made us the safest big city in America,” spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said in an email.
Not sure saying you're the "safest big city in America" is saying all that much.
Saturday, January 18, 2020
The admirers will not make it past the table of contents. Among the chapter titles: “Unhinged,” “Shocking the Conscience,” “Paranoia and Pandemonium” and “Scare-a-Thon.” This verbiage makes Rucker and Leonnig’s book sound like one more enraged polemic. It isn’t. They’re meticulous journalists, and this taut and terrifying book is among the most closely observed accounts of Donald J. Trump’s shambolic tenure in office to date.
In case you need to be convinced how big a political issue this could become, remember that violent crime stories are visceral in many ways. They often involve life and death, and can be easily painted in terms of “good guys” and “bad guys” with very little gray areas in between.
Everything about Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, is a staged lie in service of her ambition. Her backstory, famously, is fake. During a time when elite universities like Harvard were under incredible pressure to hire non-white faculty to their law schools, Elizabeth Warren registered as a Cherokee. Eventually she concocted an almost-certainly-false story about anti–Native American prejudice from her father’s parents. Warren plagiarized her contribution to a book of Native American home recipes, Pow Wow Chow, from a French cookbook. Harvard bragged about its hiring of Warren and advertised her as an addition to its diversity, though reporting in recent years has attempted to obscure whether this was a help to her.
Warren’s political persona is entirely false. She claims to be a populist, but her form of social democracy is a kind of class warfare for millionaires and affluent liberals against billionaires and the petit bourgeois entrepreneurs who vote Republican. Her student-debt and free-college plans are absolute boons to the doctors, lawyers, and academics — the affluent wage-earners — who are her chief constituency. Meanwhile, her tax reforms go after not only billionaires but the small entrepreneurs: the guys who own a car wash, or a garbage-disposal service, and tend to vote Republican. Her consumer-protection reforms have hampered and destroyed local banks, and rewarded the bad-actor mega-banks she claims daily to oppose.
FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA – It is too early to give a final assessment of the U.S.-China trade deal, the details of which have just been published, but it’s not too soon for a provisional opinion: China is badly shaken, and American credibility has been greatly enhanced.
Some parts of the deal probably won’t matter much. First, taking away the currency manipulation charge is a non-event, and to the extent China was manipulating its currency, it was keeping it up, not down. Second, it is fine that China agreed to respect more intellectual property rights, but that can be hard to enforce and in any case China has been headed in that direction. Third, it is good that China is opening further to U.S. financial services, but that is a marginal change.
In general, I am suspicious of detailed agreements when one of the parties claims the other does not respect the terms of their deals, as the United States does with China. If the U.S. holds up its end of the bargain and China doesn’t, you have to wonder what all the trouble was about.
So what about the potential benefits for the U.S.? Most of them concern credibility.
The U.S. has established its seriousness as a counterweight to China, something lacking since it largely overlooked China’s various territorial encroachments in the 2010s. Whether in economics or foreign policy, China now can expect the U.S. to push back — a very different calculus. At a time when there is tension in North Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea, that is potentially a significant gain.
PDT reminds me of one of those early English ruler who was a great lout and a wicked man but was generally regarded as an effective king.
Friday, January 17, 2020
With the election year now underway, President Trump is no doubt beatable — and yet, it’s starting to feel more and more like he’ll get reelected.
The obstacles to Trump winning in 2020 should not be ignored. To start, in 2016, he only beat the highly unpopular Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College by winning three key swing states by less than 1%. In 2018, all three of them, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan turned against Republicans. Trump also has historically low approval ratings and has been consistently trailing Democratic front-runner Joe Biden in general election matchups.
But at the same time, there are several factors that increasingly look to be playing in Trump’s favor.
This is in response to dearime's query about the Jesuits. I'm reinterpreting his remark that he found a "Jesuit's candor remarkable" (or words to that effect) as "what's the story with the Jesuits' modernism?"
So "Modernism" is the intellectual movement in the Church to, depending on your point of view, bring Catholic theology up to date with modern science, politics and culture, or alternatively, to eliminate all or most of what is true in the Catholic religion and betray it to the forces of (in order of extremity) the Left, Marxism, Masonism, the Illuminati, and Satan. The Church is the ultimate big tent, though some might say it's more like a circus fire.
January 1 did not just ring in a new year and a new decade, it also heralded the start of California’s new worker classification law: Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5). Signed last month by Gov. Greg Newsom (D), the new law will affect how freelance workers do (and don’t do) business in the state and, given California’s trendsetting status, in other states throughout the United States. AB-5 has sparked the assortment of lawsuits and political responses that such heavy-handed interventions generally do, plus it has caused collateral damage to both workers and consumers.
Thursday, January 16, 2020
The U.S. and #China just signed a limited #tradedeal today, signaling a pause in the two-year trade confrontations between the two countries. Right before the Chinese delegates' visit to Washington, I interviewed #SteveBannon, former White House Chief Strategist. We discussed a series of pressing issues: The trade deal; next step for #impeachment; president #Tsai's landslide win in the recent #Taiwanelection; and what impact the killing of #Soleimani might bring to America's future relationships with the Middle East.
Terry Glavin: There’s a revolution going on in the Mideast. Why doesn’t the West see that? | National Post
In Iraq, where an unprecedented wave of street demonstrations, strikes, marches and occupations broke out last October — at least 500 protesters slaughtered and 19,000 wounded — the scene was much the same. Long before U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the firing of a Hellfire missile from a Reaper drone circling Baghdad airport in order to eliminate Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s notorious terror chief, the pro-democracy uprising had already plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein 17 years ago.
In Syria, meanwhile, the Khomeinist satrap Bashar al-Assad and the Russian air force continued their immolation of the towns and cities of Idlib this week. Idlib is the last governorate of Syria outside regime control, and its conquest is the bloody denouement to what began as a pro-democracy uprising in 2011. At least 300,000 Syrians have been rendered homeless in the past few weeks. The Syrian death toll now exceeds a half million people.
Theoretically? Maybe, although it’s still the weakest of the weak-sauce arguments for arguing the illegality of Donald Trump’s actions in Ukraine-Gate. Even the General Accounting Office’s conclusion that the hold on congressionally appropriated military aid violated the Impoundment Control Act somehow misses the fact that it got sent in the same budget year.
When Democrats took the majority in Virginia the last election, they quickly put on the table a package of radical laws that were set to limit Virginians’ Second Amendment rights, including closing down every shooting range not owned by the government, hindering their ability to form militias, severely limiting gun sale transfers, as well as fresh registration bills.
Within the first 48 hours of taking over the Virginia legislature in 2020, Democrats passed their first of many proposed gun laws and banned the carry of firearms on the property of the state capitol and other government offices.
The people of Virginia spoke up and declared it would be their last term in office. The government responded with a motion to eliminate voter ID laws.
Virginia decided then that they wouldn’t wait for another election. A petition to remove Governor Northam began circulating as well as other petitions to remove delegates from office. When the petition received almost a third of the signatures needed to recall the governor, a new bill was introduced to raise the amount of signatures needed from 10% of the prevailing vote, to 25%.
Oh, but it doesn’t stop there! Other bills in session in the 2020 legislature:
- SJ 6 – Which changes the governor’s term from 4 to 8 years.
- SB 399 – Virginia’s electoral votes for president will go to the candidate who has won the national popular vote. It will no longer matter who many Virginians vote for in presidential races.
- SJ 9 and SJ 14 – Restores felons’ abilities to vote.
- SJ 29 – Changes how Governors, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General are elected. Previously, the candidate receiving the most votes statewide would be elected. Proposed: change to who wins the majority in Congressional districts. In case of a tie, the General Assembly will pick the winner.
The people of Virginia have had enough. A huge pro-gun rally was scheduled for January 20th outside of the state’s capitol building in Richmond. Of course Governor Northam wouldn’t be a proper despot if he just let the people exercise their First and Second Amendment rights so he declared a state of emergency.
This does sound rather alarming.
A biological woman who identifies as male and gave birth in December will be listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate under a landmark decision by the state of Illinois.
The state originally ruled that the transgender man, Myles Brady Davis, would be listed as the mother because Myles was the one who carried the baby. Myles identifies as transmasculine.
But then Lambda Legal sent a letter to the Illinois Department of Public Health on Myles’ behalf, and the state changed course. Myles – although born female and having carried the baby in the womb – will be listed as the father, the state of Illinois decided.
The endless stretch of a lazy summer afternoon. Visits to a grandparent’s house in the country. Riding your bicycle through the neighborhood after dark. These were just a few of the revealing answers from more than 400 Twitter users in response to a question: “What was a part of your childhood that you now recognize was a privilege to have or experience?”
That question, courtesy of writer Morgan Jerkins, revealed a poignant truth about the changing nature of childhood in the US: The childhood experiences most valued by people who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s are things that the current generation of kids are far less likely to know.
At the root of that failure is a lack of building, especially near the thriving cities in which jobs are plentiful. From Sydney to Sydenham, fiddly regulations protect an elite of existing homeowners and prevent developers from building the skyscrapers and flats that the modern economy demands. The resulting high rents and house prices make it hard for workers to move to where the most productive jobs are, and have slowed growth. Overall housing costs in America absorb 11% of GDP, up from 8% in the 1970s. If just three big cities—New York, San Francisco and San Jose—relaxed planning rules, America’s GDP could be 4% higher. That is an enormous prize.
I'm all for relaxing regulation, except where it reduces my property value of course. But home ownership is also a bulwark of a property based society. Ideally, families will want to buy a house and invest in it. A "fresh architecture" might mean 100 story tenements in which the wage slaves live, like the opening shots of Ready Player One.
Returning to the Badger State as the sitting president -- indeed, in the very city where Democrats will hold their nominating convention this summer -- he powerfully made the case that the Trump Boom has delivered results to the very voters who vaulted him into the White House. Blue-collar workers thrive in America, at last. By every relevant measure, wages advance fastest now for the economic underdogs, the strivers. American workers who lagged during the tepid Obama recovery now surge to the lead with, for example, 6% wage growth for non-high school graduates, a pace of expansion three times better than during Obama’s second term. In fact, per Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s analysis, the wage growth differential for the lowest quartile of earners has exploded to relative outperformance levels unseen since the 1990s. Because of this broadening prosperity, an amazing 40 million fewer Americans no longer reside in households receiving government assistance, compared to just three years ago.
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Raid on New Zealand Activist's Home to 'Ensure Compliance' with Gun Buyback Is Absolutely Chilling | News and Politics
The activist said he lives a very conservative life and has never urged people not to comply with the gun confiscation. He wonders if the police were making an example of him. Wonder no more. That goes for you, too, Virginia.
Where is Gandalf when you need him?
Steve Bannon is a media executive and political strategist. He served as executive chairman of Breitbart News, as an adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and later as chief strategist in the Trump White House. Bannon's candid interview was conducted with FRONTLINE on March 17, 2019 during the making of the two-part January 2020 documentary series “America's Great Divide: From Obama to Trump."
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
A Wisconsin state court of appeals on Tuesday put on hold a ruling requiring the urgent removal of more than 200,000 names from the state’s voter rolls, the latest twist in a closely watched legal fight playing out in the battleground state ahead of the 2020 election.
The ruling comes after a lower court judge last month ordered the purging of roughly 234,000 people from voter rolls because they may have moved, and a day after the state's elections commission and several of its members were found in contempt of court for not complying with the removal order.
As far as Barr-Opus Dei conspiracy theories go, Rohde’s was relatively mild. The Guardian in October mentioned Barr’s connection to the CIC, which it said is “staffed by priests from the secretive, ultra-orthodox Catholic sect Opus Dei.” The same month, The Nation’s Joan Walsh sounded the alarm about Barr’s links to “extremist Catholic institutions,” while an article on the liberal Web site Alternet speculated that Barr may be an Opus Dei member. The group, it said, had taught Barr to “put away his scruples.”
This is egregious nonsense. For starters, Barr isn’t, in fact, a member, as the organization was forced to clarify in November, breaking its usual policy of not identifying members or non-members. More important, people who attend Opus Dei activities don’t show up for ominous conspiracies.
So I see Mr. Barr is not actually a member of Opus Dei. That's too bad, I say, but he seems sound enough. Actually, OD isn't "ultra-orthodox" by contemporary standards. They're totally "Novus Ordo" Catholics, OK with the Mass in the vernacular rather than the more historically pure Latin. And also loyal to the Pope, which at the moment means loyal to Francis. Some folks definitely are not.
Google on Tuesday announced it would begin phasing third-party cookies out of its Chrome web browser, following in the steps of competitors Safari and Firefox.
However, unlike those two companies that banned cookies outright, Google will phase out their support for cookies "within two years," Justin Schuh, director at engineering for Chrome, wrote in a blog post.
Following last month's stabbing during a Hanukkah celebration at a Rabbi's home in Monsey, New York, Jews in the area are taking their safety seriously and have decided to defend themselves. Orthodox and Hasidic Jews in Rockland County are applying for pistol licenses, which would allow them to carry concealed, en masse.
The death knell of the Patagonia vest, at least as a symbol of utopianism co-opted by the tech and venture capital world and transformed into shorthand for a certain kind of unbridled corporate power, was much predicted last summer.
That is when the outdoor recreation company put its puffers where its principles were and said it would no longer make vests branded with its own name and the names of companies that did not share its environmental commitments.
“Woe to the bros!” cried customers and commentators alike, in both glee and horror.
The prophesies of doom turned out to be somewhat overstated. But they may soon be heard again in the land, thanks to an unexpected source: Simon Denny, a New Zealand-born artist who lives in Berlin.
The vests are very comfy and you can get a non-Patagonia brand for about $25.
A Wisconsin judge held three state election commissioners in contempt on Monday and ordered them to proceed immediately with purging more than 200,000 people from the state’s voter rolls.
The ruling by Judge Paul V. Malloy of Ozaukee County Circuit Court doubled down on his finding last month that thousands of voters who are believed to have moved should have their registrations canceled in Wisconsin, a narrowly divided state that has become a focal point of the 2020 presidential battle.
WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has already pledged that, if elected president, she would erase student-loan debt for the vast majority of the 45 million borrowers in America. On Tuesday, she went one step further, saying she would use executive authority to begin wiping out student debt on the first day of a Warren presidency.
She appears to be the first 2020 presidential candidate to have a day-one plan to use presidential executive authority on student-debt relief. In all, borrowers currently hold more than $1.5 trillion in student-loan debt in this country, a slow-motion crisis that economists say dampens home purchases, starting new businesses, saving for retirement, and even getting married.
Actually, the reasons that men (and a fair number of women like myself) don’t share in the widespread euphoria over the film couldn’t be more mundane. For one thing, the movie is based on a children’s book—to be precise, a book for girls. Thomas Niles, Alcott’s editor at Roberts Brothers, asked her to write a “girls’ book.” And that’s exactly what she set out to do. She wasn’t keen on the idea, but she needed the money. “I plod away, though I don’t enjoy this kind of thing,” she complained in her diary in the spring of 1868. “Never liked girls; never knew many besides my sisters.” When Niles reported to Alcott that his niece had found the early pages enthralling, Alcott, who remained unenthusiastic about the project, conceded: “As it is for them, they are the best critics.” No surprise, then, that grown men aren’t crowding theaters to see the latest movie version of a nineteenth-century girls’ book.
Actually I saw Little Women and thought it was fabulous.
Since the official admission, protesters, many of them students, have held daily demonstrations, chanting “Clerics get lost!” and calling for the removal of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in power for more than 30 years.
Police have responded to some protests with a violent crackdown, video posts on social media showed, with police beating protesters with batons, wounded people being carried, pools of blood on the streets and the sound of gunfire.
A video that emerged on Tuesday showed an officer using an electric baton to shock a man as he writhed on the ground.
That’s not to say that this is a healthy status for constitutional operation. Congress has the power of the purse, at least conceptually, as a means to check the power of the executive. It’s all well and good to cheer on a president who delivers on one’s own hobby horses, but what if it was President Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez using Pentagon funds to cap oil wells on federal land and fund coal-mine inspectors to find enough violations to cripple production? I’d guess that the same people cheering Trump’s diversions would suddenly find those diversions to be A Grave Danger To Our Republic. And they’d be right, not just on the actions themselves but also on the implications of a presidency untethered from budgetary restraint.
It's all fun and games until your debt won't monetize anymore.
“I want to see the body,” said my 12-year-old son, Miles.
He and I were sitting in our minivan outside of the hospital. I texted my wife again: “We’re waiting in the parking lot. Will you come down? Your burrito is getting cold.”
We weren’t supposed to go inside. This was intended as a quick favor, bringing my wife dinner so she wouldn’t have to eat more institutional food.
“Miles, it’s not ‘the body,’” I said. “You only say ‘the body’ when a person is dead. Eric’s still Eric. He’s just had a terrible accident.”
I texted my wife again: “Honey? Please!”
“Then I want to see him,” Miles said. “Can’t we go inside? Just for a few minutes.”
“It’s private,” I said.
“Well, Mom is there.”
“Mom and Eric have a special relationship,” I said. “Eric is in an intensive care unit. They’re cramped spaces full of sensitive equipment. We don’t want the room to be too crowded.”
“I think it’s just Mom there, and Eric,” Miles said. “Maybe Shelley.”
Here’s where it gets interesting. Shelley is Eric’s wife. My wife (and Miles’s mother) is Eric’s girlfriend. We both have open marriages and respect each other’s privacy, but this accident propelled us into a new reality.
Now, now. Don't judge. Because various relativistic arguments you've heard forever.
By all accounts, sanctions imposed by the United States in 2018 have hit Iran's economy extremely hard and are playing a role in sparking protests. It's never fully clear how those sorts of intervention, much less more militaristic actions such as the killing of Soleimani, play out—sometimes overt pressure applied by an outside power emboldens dissent and sometimes it decreases it. But when a country starts to get hollowed out from within, as seems to be the case with Alizadeh's exile and other recent and ongoing domestic developments, autocrats should start sweating.
A subterranean, subliminal rumble is building across America, although large populations in the West and Northeast seem deaf to it. At first blush, American politics might seem polarized, breaking neatly along left and right political fault lines. But even a cursory look at the 2020 presidential race presents a very different picture. Eighty percent of the American public is fed up and prefers candidates who are well outside the traditional political ruling class, be it left or right.
As they say in the blog biz, c. 2009, read the whole thing. I have shared this feeling about our political situation for a while. In the great flyover country, things are indeed changing. I was really struck, for instance, by what I've heard about just how profound the opiate crisis is. Evidently, there are many towns where you literally can't find people to take ordinary jobs because the usual people are too strung out, disabled, whatever the term might be, to work. And that's just part of it. Desperate people take desperate measures.
"The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) condemns, in as full-throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy," MRFF
founder and president Mikey Weinstein wrote in a statement
denouncing the Bible blessing. "The utilization of a Christian bible to 'swear in' commanders of the new Space Force or any other [Department of Defense] branch at ANY level is completely violative of the bedrock separation of church and state mandate of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."
If he had his way, the Vermont socialist would fundamentally change the character of the country. He would make the United States an outlier in the Western world, not in terms of its relatively limited government, but its sweeping activism. A Hellfire missile aimed right at the federal fisc, Sanders would make President Barack Obama’s economic agenda look like the work of a moderate Republican.
In foreign affairs, he would bring a sympathy for US enemies not often heard outside academia or Noam Chomsky reading groups.
He is the American Jeremy Corbyn, a socialist true-believer whose fantastical agenda reflects the dictates of dogma. The difference is that Corbyn effectively promised a return to socialist-imposed stagnation in Britain, whereas Bernie is inviting America to experience it for the first time.
I don't think he's remotely electable though. But who knows. These are crazy times.
Monday, January 13, 2020
Donald Trump doubles down on accusing Democrats of trying to 'defend' Qassem Soleimani | Daily Mail Online
Donald Trump said Monday that Democrats are a 'disgrace' to the U.S., insisting those within the party are defending slain Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
'When the Democrats try and defend him – it's a disgrace to our country, they can't do that. And let me tell you, it's not working politically very well for them,' Trump told reporters before departing the White House for New Orleans where he will attend the college football national championship game.
Democrats have lamented the president didn’t inform Congress before launching the attack and have raised questions over the intelligence that led the president to order the drone strike.
Disparaging vegans could now land you behind bars for discrimination, a UK labor court ruled.
On Friday, a tribunal in Norwich, England, determined that ethical veganism is a “religion or belief,” and one of the nine “protected characteristics” under the 2010 Equality Act.
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by three women arrested for violating a New Hampshire city ordinance by exposing their breasts in public as part of the so-called "Free the Nipple" movement.
The rejection leaves in place a 2019 ruling by New Hampshire's top court that upheld their convictions for violating a Laconia, N.H., measure that prohibits female toplessness in public. The women -- Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro -- argued the ban violates the Constitution.
SAN DIEGO -- A U.S. judge ruled Monday that the Trump administration is operating within its authority when separating families stopped at the Mexico border, rejecting arguments that it was quietly returning to widespread practices that drew international condemnation.
The American Civil Liberties Union argued that the administration was splitting families over dubious allegations and minor transgressions including traffic offenses.
Two Republican U.S. Senators want to know why the United States is still involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee are especially concerned about the fact the president is sticking with almost two-decade-old authorizations to keep troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They've got a point.
The 2008 financial crisis hit Europe hard and Italy harder than most other countries. With its significant banking sector on the verge of collapse due to exposure—not just at home but elsewhere—Italians saw their economy grind to a halt and for the first time in decades, began to see notable numbers of their countrymen and women leave for work in other parts of the world.
A second punch in the gut came shortly thereafter when France’s Nicolas Sarkozy teamed up with British Prime Minister David Cameron (with President Barack Obama famously “leading from behind”) to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Prior to that, Gaddafi and Berlusconi had reached a successful agreement to stop the flow of migrants from Libya to Italy. With Gaddafi’s ouster, the floodgates were opened.
Feeling powerless due to decision-making being transferred to Brussels and the ECB thanks to Italy’s membership in the European Union and its adoption of the Euro, a crisis in legitimacy of the ruling parties set in and Italians began to look for answers outside of the ruling parties. This was exacerbated by the huge numbers of African migrants washing ashore on the tiny island of Lampedusa near Sicily.