Here's some potentially VERY good economic news that was lost amid the weekend news flurry.  Those…
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Some Potentially VERY Good Economic News

Here's some potentially VERY good economic news that was lost amid the weekend news flurry.  Those with "skin in the game," and who likely possess the best perspective, are betting heavily on an upturn, as highlighted by Friday's Wall Street Journal:

Corporate insiders are buying stock in their own companies at a pact not seen in years, a sign they are betting on a rebound after a coronavirus-induced rout.  More than 2,800 executives and directors have purchased nearly $1.19 billion in company stock since the beginning of March.  That's the third-highest level on both an individual and dollar basis since 1988, according to the Washington Service, which provides data analytics about trading activity by insiders."

Here's why that's important:

Because insiders typically know the…[more]

March 30, 2020 • 11:02 am

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Obama’s Moral Blindness on Cuba Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, December 18 2014
These are not, to use the euphemism of choice in diplomatic circles, people we can do business with.

Last year, during the funeral services for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, President Obama was photographed shaking the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro, a move that infuriated Cuban exiles and all those who oppose the murderous regime in Havana.

At the time, the critics were told that they were overreacting to a gesture that was little more than an exercise in presidential decorum. On Wednesday, that argument was definitively given the lie.

Speaking at the White House, President Obama announced that the Castro regime had agreed to the release of Alan Gross, an aid worker who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years after trying to help set up internet access that bypassed the communist regime’s censorship measures. The fact of Gross’ release is an undeniable cause for celebration. The circumstances under which it occurred, however, are another matter entirely.

In addition to Gross, Havana also agreed to release an unnamed American intelligence asset. Simultaneously, the U.S. released three Cuban spies who had been convicted of conspiracy back in 2001.

If you’re keeping score at home, that final tally: three Cubans for one American and a long-imprisoned Cuban who had spied for us.  Barack Obama is like that guy who thinks he can get by selling cars at a loss if he just makes up for it in volume.

This deal would have been bad enough on the merits, creating as it does an inducement to take Americans captive because of their usefulness as bargaining chips (though the White House implausibly claims that Gross’ release was independent of the deal that released the Cuban spies). Even worse, however, is that President Obama — seemingly viewing the whole affair as a triumph rather than the fleecing it actually was — used the moment to attempt to reset the relationship between the United States and Cuba.

In his remarks on Wednesday, Obama announced that the U.S. would move toward normalizing relations with Cuba (diplomatic ties between the two countries have been cut since 1961), would open an embassy in Havana and would relax travel and communications restrictions between the two countries. Moreover, the President also announced that he would call on Congress (apparently he does still recognize them as a co-equal branch of government) to end the trade embargo that the U.S. has imposed on Cuba for over 50 years.

To understand the nuances of this shift, it’s important to draw a distinction between the economic and political punishments that have been imposed on the island nation.

There’s a respectable case to be made that the embargo — which, after all, hasn’t weakened the regime to the point of collapse despite having more than a half-century to do so — is counterproductive. It allows Cuba to use the United States as a scapegoat for the nation’s poverty, which, in reality, owes to the totalitarian nature of the government in Havana. And its impacts are felt more acutely by ordinary Cuban citizens than by anybody in a position of power.

That said, it doesn’t follow that weakening the embargo will magically transform Cuba. After all, the U.S. has a robust trade relationship with China, but Beijing has shown that — for the time being anyway — a nation that has engaged in economic liberalization can still ignore human rights without being impaled on the contradiction. We shouldn’t expect anything different in Cuba.

The political considerations, however, admit of less ambiguity. In the years since Fidel Castro came to power, Havana has fostered radicalism throughout the Western Hemisphere, supporting brutal regimes like the one in Venezuela and even, according to some analysts, partnering with such devoted adversaries of the United States as Iran.

That’s not to mention, of course, the myriad human rights abuses that have marked the Castro brothers’ tenure in power. These are not, to use the euphemism of choice in diplomatic circles, people we can do business with.

Ever since his first inaugural address, when he pledged to authoritarian regimes that, “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” President Obama has been devoted to rapprochement with America’s enemies. As a general principle, that’s fine. But the how matters.

 International antagonisms can only be undone if one or both sides change their position on the underlying points of contention. They cannot be solved by pretending that those disputes don’t exist. Time and again, however, that’s the approach the Obama Administration has taken.

Thus did we “reset” with Russia when Moscow had no interest in greater cooperation. Thus did the president seek “a new beginning” with the Muslim world in his famous 2009 Cairo speech despite the fact that the region’s radicals had not abandoned their fanatical hatred of the United States. Thus does Iran garner endless concessions from the United States while failing to deviate from any of the fundamentals of its nuclear program. Thus have we given Cuba precisely what it wants without receiving hardly anything in return.

Make no mistake: The policy shift in Cuba reflects no change in the underlying dynamics between our two countries. The United States has not lost an enemy. We have just chosen to accede to the fiction that it’s a friend.

Question of the Week   
In which one of the following years did Congress first meet in Washington, D.C.?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is waging a ferocious, global propaganda campaign designed to deflect blame for the origin and spread of the COVID-19 outbreak from Wuhan, China. Moreover, Beijing is trying to take advantage of the pandemic to increase its global standing and influence. ...If Beijing escapes blame for its failure to curb the coronavirus pandemic, its lies, and its attempts to cover…[more]
 
 
—Michael Auslin, Hoover Institution Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow and Foreign Policy Research Institute Senior Fellow
— Michael Auslin, Hoover Institution Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow and Foreign Policy Research Institute Senior Fellow
 
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Who is most to blame for the delay in passage of the critical coronavirus economic recovery (or stimulus) bill?