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As Biden and Kerry Went Soft on China, Sons Made Nuclear, Military Business Deals with Chinese Gov’t By Tyler O’Neil

In 2013 and 2014, China embarked on an aggressive air and island campaign to dominate the South China Sea, much to the dismay of Japan and other countries in the region. When Vice President Joe Biden visited the country in 2013, he emphasized trade between the U.S. and China and did not focus on the South China Sea. Secretary of State John Kerry did the same in 2014.

Meanwhile, Biden’s son Hunter and Kerry’s stepson Chris Heinz carried out massive business deals with Chinese officials and the state-owned Bank of China. Worse, Hunter Biden and Chris Heinz even invested in a Chinese nuclear company under FBI investigation.

“During a critical eighteen-month period of diplomatic negotiations between Washington and Beijing, the Biden and Kerry families and friends pocketed major cash from companies connected to the Chinese government,” Peter Schweizer writes in his new book “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends.”

Schweizer’s book delves into the ways in which “American Princelings” profit at home and abroad from the economic and diplomatic policies of high-ranking U.S. officials. With former Vice President Biden rumored to be considering a 2020 presidential run, the scandals surrounding how his diplomatic efforts enriched his son take on renewed importance. His role in abetting China’s aggression for family gain seems particularly damning.

When Biden became the vice president in 2009, his son Hunter Biden “became a social fixture in Washington,” Schweizer explains. In the summer of 2009, the VP’s son joined forces with Chris Heinz, a wealthy heir to the late Senator John Heinz, whose wife Teresa married Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.). The two formed Rosemont Capital, an alternative investment firm “positioned to strike profitable deals overseas with foreign governments and officials with whom the U.S. government was negotiating.”

Devon Archer, Chris Heinz’s roommate at Yale and star fundraiser for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential run, joined the American Princelings at Rosemont. Federal agents would later arrest Archer in May 2016 for defrauding a Native American tribe in an effort to enrich a branch of Rosemont Capital, Rosemont Seneca Bohai.

The American Princelings set up Rosemont Capital as an alternative investment fund of the Heinz Family Office, and attached several branches to it, including Rosemont Seneca Partners and Rosemont Realty.

A ‘Higher Loyalty’ to Their Inflated Sense of Virtue By Roger Kimball

Some portion of the reading public is eagerly awaiting A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, the aptly titled exercise in self-serving historical revisionism by James Comey, the disgraced former FBI director who was fired last May by President Trump.

The reading material in which I am most interested at the moment is the report by Michael Horowitz, the Obama-appointed inspector general of the Department of Justice who has been toiling away for the last year investigating the DOJ and the FBI for its handling of the Hillary Clinton email scandal.

Comey’s aria, currently swaddled with embargoes, is due out April 17. Horowitz has said he aims to release his report “in the March, April time period.”

So there is a lot to look forward to. Chris Swecker, a former FBI assistant director, said that the report will contain “some pure TNT.” I have no doubt that’s true.

Adventures in “Ethical Leadership”
On Saturday, in the aftermath of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s sacking, Comey tweeted:

James Comey
✔ @Comey
Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.

Well, yes. Comey’s Twitter profile informs the world that these days he is “writing and speaking about ethical leadership.” It also notes that he is “taller and funnier in person.” I hope so.

As for “ethical leadership,” we needn’t even wait for his book to understand exactly how he embodies ethical leadership. When the College of William and Mary announced last month that Comey would be coming to teach a class on the subject, the announcement was accompanied by a statement from Comey. “Ethical leaders,” he said, “lead by seeing above the short term, above the urgent or the partisan, and with a higher loyalty to lasting values, most importantly the truth.” The Wall Street Journal, digesting this declaration, published a useful classroom aid for students struggling with the question of ethical leadership.

Week One case study: The FBI is investigating a presidential candidate for mishandling classified emails as Secretary of State. The director decides on his own to violate Justice Department rules and exonerate that candidate in a public statement to the media, letting an aide replace the legally potent phrase “grossly negligent” in a draft of his statement with “extremely careless” in the final version.

Possible test question: When and under what circumstance may a federal official decide that the rules that bind others do not apply to him?

Thou Shalt Innovate How Israeli ingenuity repairs the world. Joseph Puder

Avi Jorisch and I met at the AIPAC conference. He was a panelist at an exciting forum titled “The Israeli Ethos,” dealing with Israeli technologies, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Jorisch is a Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, and author of Thou Shalt Innovate. We discussed what is it about Israel that nurtures entrepreneurship and innovation — and how Israeli innovation has impacted the world.

Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World

Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World
Mar 1, 2018
by Avi Jorisch

Joseph Puder (JP): Tell our readers where you come from and what motivated you to write Thou Shalt Innovate?

Avi Jorisch (AJ): I was born into a family of Holocaust survivors and raised primarily in New York City. But I also lived in Israel for long stretches of my childhood, through my teenage years and into adulthood, because of my family’s cultural, historical, and religious ties there.

My interest in Israeli technology was kindled during the summer of 2014, when my family and I lived through Operation Protective Edge, in large part going in and out of bomb shelters. My family, like the rest of Israel, found comfort in the Iron Dome. I marveled at this invention. It kept Israel from descending into the chaos and carnage that was engulfing the rest of the Middle East.

Chasing Sunbeams: Taming the Sun and Solar Energy By Norman Rogers

A new book, Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet, is available from MIT Press. The book touts the wonders of solar energy and tells us that there is an urgent need to invest trillions in more solar energy. The book is filled with outright errors. The author, Varun Sivaram, has a boundless faith in technical progress that he thinks will make solar cheaper and more practical.

Since solar cells and integrated circuits are both manufactured using silicon wafers, the author assumes that something like Moore’s Law must apply to solar cells. Moore’s law predicts the halving of the price of integrated circuits every 18 months or so. But integrated circuits become cheaper because they become smaller, taking less real estate on the wafer. However, solar cells don’t become smaller, because they need to collect sunlight, and the amount of energy they collect is proportional to the area they occupy. In any case, the cost of the silicon components of solar energy is rapidly becoming negligible. At least 75% of the cost is for mundane things like concrete, steel, power lines, land, etc.

Solar has the huge problem that it doesn’t work at night. It doesn’t work during the day if it is cloudy. Even the sunniest city in the USA, Yuma, Ariz., has 50 cloudy days a year. If there were a cheap and scalable method of storing electricity, the prospects for solar would be better. But the best method of storing electricity, pumped storage, is expensive and dependent on favorable terrain. Neglecting many costs, utility-scale solar farms cost about $2,200 per kilowatt of nameplate capacity. Under favorable conditions, the average power produced is about 25% of nameplate capacity. If a realistic computation of the unsubsidized cost of electricity is made, solar electricity costs 12 cents per kWh, under good conditions in sunny locations. Natural gas can deliver electricity for less than 5 cents.

Sean O’Callaghan The Real Heroes of Ireland’s Dirty War

Today, being St Patrick’s Day, we’ll leave the harps, shamrocks and green-tinted sentimentality to others. Instead, hear from the assassin of an Ulster policeman. ‘I am deeply ashamed of that act,’ he writes, ‘like many young Irish republicans, I thought I was fighting for Irish freedom. I was not’

Secret Victory: The Intelligence War That Beat the IRA
by William Matchett
William Matchett, 2016, 272 pages, about $30

Some might regard the title of this book as making a grandiose claim. Others may deride it, or ignore both title and book, choosing instead to believe that whatever fragile peace Northern Ireland enjoys today is a blessing bestowed by Tony Blair, Gerry Adams, Bill Clinton and an assortment of peaceniks, chancers and conflict resolution groupies. Many such people have lined their pockets by grossly inflating their influence in the “peace process” and exporting their inanities to gullible audiences worldwide.

In reality they reaped the harvest of peace that others had sown in a long intelligence war, and William Matchett’s book is the perfect antidote to their delusions. The author is a former senior officer in the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary who fought the IRA (and their loyalist counterparts) for a quarter of a century and who has gone on to advise police forces across the world on counter-terrorism. He describes with the familiar understated practicality of the North’s Protestant-Unionist majority how he and his Special Branch colleagues were able to win a war of intelligence within the civil law.

One experience of mine in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast in 1989 confirmed for me—not that I needed much convincing—the absolutely central and critical role that RUC Special Branch played in degrading the Provisional IRA, and forcing it to end its campaign of murder and intimidation against the people of Northern Ireland. I was being led, in the company of seven IRA members, through the tunnel from the jail to the courthouse, each of us handcuffed to another prisoner. I happened to be handcuffed to a senior and long-standing member of the IRA from Dungannon, County Tyrone, named Henry Louis McNally. I knew him quite well from my days as an IRA operative in the mid-1970s in County Tyrone. He was once named, by Ken Maginnis, an Ulster Unionist MP in the House of Commons, as being directly responsible for the murders of seventeen members of the security forces. He had been arrested, charged, and later convicted of the attempted murder of British soldiers travelling by bus to their base in Antrim.

‘A Foreign Policy for the Left’ Review: Can There Be a ‘Decent’ Left? The editor of Dissent magazine asks his comrades for a more nuanced moral response to America’s use of power abroad. Martin Peretz reviews ‘A Foreign Policy for the Left’ by Michael Walzer.*****

Michael Walzer, now 83, is the unanointed dean of the American left. The editor of Dissent magazine for more than 30 years, he has written a book criticizing his comrades’ foreign policy and, subtly but unmistakably, their worldview. He sees both as morally lacking and advocates something more humane and more engaged.

Mr. Walzer is a leftist not for psychological or emotional reasons but for moral ones. He believes, a priori, in practicing human decency: a moral sensibility toward other people and their existences. He thinks that capitalism’s inequality has coarsened this sensibility but that capital’s productive capacity can be harnessed, through political action, to transcend the capitalist system: to create societies where people can live more equally and so be more decent to one another. The aim is democratic socialism, the means are helping “oppressed men and women to become political agents who control their own lives.”

The danger of this a priori politics is vanguardism, under which acolytes of an ideal believe that the ideal is more important than how they reach it. Where Mr. Walzer differs is that he believes that if the aim is decency, the means must be decent. This requires departing from theory and practicing a politics of distinction, “[paying] close attention to local circumstance and particular histories” and “[thinking] hard about the relation of means to ends.”

It also requires a foreign policy of distinctions, of recognizing that people labor under different kinds of oppression that call for different kinds of responses. And it requires recognizing that local resistance to oppression varies: Sometimes, as in Cuba, people who speak in the name of the oppressed simply want to use them as tools for power. Mr. Walzer is an honest leftist, and he tries to keep his comrades honest, too.

But he isn’t sure whether many of them are. “A Foreign Policy for the Left” reads like an anguished plea to comrades who have strayed so far from a politics of distinction and decency that the author doesn’t know whether they can be brought back. According to Mr. Walzer, the left’s vanguardism has put it in bed with dictators, fanatics and activists who reject reasoned debate as a means to democratic change.

This is most obvious to Mr. Walzer in foreign policy, because it’s so extreme. He gives many examples: leftists’ unwillingness to engage with unionist and feminist allies in Afghanistan and Iraq because American intervention as a force for good didn’t fit their theory of America as a force for evil; their mischaracterization of America’s world reach as totalistic, which allows blame always to ricochet back to us; their lumping in of Israel with despotic and imperialist regimes, ignoring the unique historical situation in which this encircled democracy finds itself; their attraction to thinkers like Judith Butler and Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Zizek —the last of whom preaches, Lenin-like, violence by the few in the name of change. CONTINUE AT SITE

Report: Obama Campaign Hired Fusion GPS in 2012 to Dig up Dirt on Romney and Donors By Debra Heine

A new book claims that the Barack Obama presidential campaign hired Fusion GPS in 2012 to dig up dirt on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, The Daily Caller reports.

Obama for America (OFA) reportedly obscured its payments to Fusion GPS through Perkins Coie, an international law firm, in an arrangement similar to the one that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee used to pay Fusion to dig up dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016.

In 2012, Fusion reportedly dug up dirt on Romney’s donors as well so that the Obama campaign could publicly slime them on its official website.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show that OFA has paid over $972,000 to Perkins Coie, an international law firm, since April of 2016.

The book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and Donald Trump’s Election” by Michael Isikoff and David Corn alleges that OFA hired Fusion GPS to do opposition research on Mitt Romney for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.

In 2012, then-president Obama had an “enemies list” on his campaign website with the names of Mitt Romney’s biggest donors.

The Obama campaign website (laughingly titled “Keeping the GOP Honest”) shamed eight Romney donors for “betting against America,” accusing them of having a “less-than-reputable” record.

“The message from the man who controls the Justice Department (which can indict you), the SEC (which can fine you), and the IRS (which can audit you), is clear: You made a mistake donating that money,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel in an April 2012 article.

One of the names on the list was Frank VanderSloot, an Idaho businessman who had contributed to a group supporting Mitt Romney in 2011.

Mr. VanderSloot soon learned what it meant to be on a presidential enemies list.CONTINUE AT SITE

Education Schools Must Improve By George Leef

One of the first books on education policy that I ever read was Rita Kramer’s Ed School Follies, a book published in 1991. In it, she documented the appalling weakness she found in education schools across the country, especially weak students and a politicized curriculum that filled the heads of the students with “progressive” notions.

In the years since, ed schools have gotten worse. From time to time, education leaders talk about improving them and sometimes take an insignificant step or two.

Now, the University of North Carolina has done that, with a program called “Leading on Literacy.” In this Martin Center article, Terry Stoops, the K–12 expert at the John Locke Foundation, gives it a resounding “meh.”

The 5 worst things about colleges in America: Bryan Caplan

When parents and teachers urge kids to go to college, they visualize the success stories: kids who graduate on time with marketable degrees. If every student fit this profile, college would be an outstanding personal investment. Unfortunately, most students don’t fit this profile, and their returns are mediocre or worse. Indeed, plenty would be better off skipping college in favor of full-time employment. What’s going wrong? BRYAN CAPLAN, professor of economics at George Mason University and the author of “The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money” (Princeton University Press), out now, outlines the five worst things about today’s college education.
1. A majority of college students don’t finish on time — and a large minority never finish at all.

Since the bulk of the payoff for college comes from graduation — not mere years of attendance — dropping out of school is like bankrupting a business. In both cases, you sacrifice years of savings and toil and walk away with scraps. And while under-achieving high-school students occasionally blossom into star college students, this is rare.

In school as in life, the best predictor of future performance is past performance. Think about high-school students in the bottom quartile of math scores. Nowadays, almost half try college; but when they do, only one in nine manages to graduate. College major is also a reliable predictor of student success. Degrees in engineering, computer science, finance and economics all pay well, boosting earnings by 60 to 70 percent. Degrees in fine arts, education, English, history and sociology do about half that.

Since all majors require four years of coursework and four years of tuition, the payoff for the average graduate with a low-earning major is unimpressive. And the payoff for below-average graduates in such fields is terrible; many end up working in jobs like waiter, cashier and cook that they could have easily done with no college at all.
2. Most of the curriculum is neither socially useful nor personally enjoyable.

Schools teach some skills almost every job requires — especially literacy and numeracy. But after the final exam, students never again need to know most of what they learn. Think about your years of coursework in history, social studies, foreign languages, higher mathematics, art and music. Colleges offer some majors — like engineering and computer science — that train students for well-paid careers.

Yet after graduation, plenty of students can safely forget their major; think about fields like history, literature, sociology and communications. Of course, every school subject leads to employment on occasion; at minimum, you could go on to teach the very subject you studied. But that’s a very low bar.

When confronted with these observations, defenders of college often protest, “The point of college isn’t to prepare students for jobs; it’s to enrich their lives.” But how often does this enrichment actually occur? Professors suspect — and researchers confirm — a dismal picture. In class, most students are bored, if they even bother to attend. As famed Harvard professor Steven Pinker confesses, “A few weeks into every semester, I face a lecture hall that is half-empty, despite the fact that I am repeatedly voted a Harvard Yearbook Favorite Professor, that the lectures are not video-recorded and that they are the only source of certain material that will be on the exam.” After graduation, few college graduates devote more than a tiny fraction of their leisure time to abstract ideas or high culture. School doesn’t have to be enjoyable. But if it is neither enjoyable nor useful, how can it be anything but wasteful?

The Conflict That Shaped Our Constitutional Order By Kyle Sammin

A new biography explores the long-running rivalry between the Federalist chief justice John Marshall and his Democratic–Republican second cousin, President Thomas Jefferson.

In the American republic’s early days, a seat on the United States Supreme Court was not the coveted plum that it is today. The first three chief justices each served for an average of less than four years, and associate justices were also likely to leave the Court while still in the prime of their working lives. The reason? The Court had limited jurisdiction, heard few cases, and did not pay particularly well. For a talented lawyer, private practice or political office was usually preferable to a judicial backwater convened in an unused committee room in the basement of the Capitol.

In Without Precedent, law professor Joel Richard Paul tells the story of John Marshall, the man who changed all that. Appointed to the court by the last Federalist president in the waning days of his administration, Marshall was seated at a time of his Jeffersonian opponents’ ascendance. He would spend the next 34 years leading a Court that became much closer to a co-equal branch of government than any of the Founders had anticipated. In doing so, Marshall imposed a Federalist vision on often-reluctant Democratic–Republican political branches, cementing his own vision of what the United States should become: one nation, rather than a confederation of disparate sovereignties.

* * *

Paul frames his story as a long-running battle between Marshall and Thomas Jefferson. Both men were Virginians of the founding generation, and both were great-grandsons of William Randolph I, but there the similarities end. While Jefferson grew up rich, surrounded by slaves and powerful family members, Marshall grew up on the frontier, one of 15 children of a father who was a poor farmer, rather than a planter. (Marshall would also come to own slaves, which Paul attempts, without much success, to downplay in comparing him to Jefferson.)