The Front Page Cover
~ Featuring ~
The Real Train Wreck
by Steven Malanga
 Three Reasons Trump's Syria Strike Will Help 
President Donald Trump decided Thursday to send 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat Air Base in western Syria in the wake of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against civilians earlier this month. (It's worth wondering whether these are some of Saddam Hussein's WMD, which we have long suspected were transported to Syria ahead of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.) Trump's move, the first time the U.S. has directly targeted Assad, serves America's foreign policy interests in three ways.
          First, the speed with which the retaliatory strike was launched sends the very clear message that Trump will act decisively to protect what he called America's "vital national security interests." The scale of the strike also sends a message. Fifty-nine Tomahawks made a mess of the base and the three squadrons of fighters based there. This base is going to need a lot of repairs — and its Russian Su-22s and MiG-23s won't be easy to replace. In other words, Assad's feeling the pain, and it goes a little way toward repairing the damage done when Barack liar-nObama didn't back up his "red line" declaration.
          Second, a certain pudgy psychopath in Pyongyang just received 59 warning shots. Trump earlier said that unilateral action against North Korea was an option. Now, that warning is much more credible.
          Third, and, we would argue, most important, Vladimir Putin has to be feeling nervous. Between sequestration and the liar-nObama administration's slashing of weapons procurement like the F-22 and Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the Pentagon was in a world of hurt. Yet within 72 hours, the United States still crushed Shayrat Air Base. What will the United States be capable of after Trump rebuilds our military capabilities? Putin would be smart to avoid finding out. Russia may be developing some modern systems, but there aren't many of them in service yet. That hasn't stopped the Kremlin from pledging to help its client Assad defend against future strikes.
          Meanwhile, we expect the Leftmedia will try to paint Trump's attack as being aimed at countering the Russia-collusion narrative. It does serve that purpose, but we don't think it was Trump's motive for risking American blood and treasure. For one thing, the missile strike isn't Trump's first move to anger Russia, so if he's supposed to be bought and paid for, he's not showing it.
          Indeed, strategically, this strike isn't nearly as important as the tremendous disruption and pain for Putin's economic base caused by increased American oil production. Russia has been handicapped by this stout competition, and Trump's moves on energy have only made the U.S. stronger.
          Whether this missile salvo signifies a true change in U.S. policy toward Syria or whether we soon return to business as usual remains to be seen.  ~The Patriot Post
Where’s The “American Jobs
For American Workers”...
by Rick Wells
{} ~ An October report by the Center for Immigration Studies exposed the fact that the federal government was at that time aware of huge employers who employ large numbers of illegal aliens and do so without consequences... with virtually zero employer sanctions against their violations of immigration law. One employs on average approximately 40,000 illegal aliens at any given time. Another company, described as large, has an estimated 98 percent of its employees who are not working legally in the US and was being allowed to do so. There’s been no outrage over mass raids, none of the marching in the streets with flags, no Democrats stepping all over each other to whine into a television camera, so it’s a safe bet no enforcement crackdown has been initiated under Attorney General Sessions and no raids conducted by DHS Secretary Kelly. The violations were revealed in a report by the Social Security Administration’s Inspector General titled “Employers Who Report Wages with Significant Errors...
South Korean Paper Reports China Has Deployed
150,000 Troops To North Korea Border
by Tyler Durden
{} ~ While the catalyst is unclear, it appears the market dropped as headlines of further sanctions against Russia appeared and reports of China deploying 150,000 troops to its North Korea border... According to Korean news agency Chosun, the "Chinese army has deployed about 150,000 troops to the North Korean border in two groups to prepare for unforeseen circumstances."  As the United States announced its independent North Korean behavior and moved the United States Navy's nuclear-powered Calvinus (CVN-70) carrier class to Singapore, the Chinese army has deployed about 150,000 troops in two groups to prepare for unforeseen circumstances...
Russia, Iran and China Expanding
Influence in Central, South America
by John Grady
{} ~ Russia, China and Iran are increasing interest in Central and South America, especially Moscow’s renewed focus on Nicaragua, the head of U.S. Southern Command told the Senate... While it has been primarily directed in economic development, Adm. Kurt Tidd said in a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing he sees it also as a way to gain for those three nations to gain influence. But more concerning is the Russians sale of 3,000 surface-to-air weapons and 50 tanks to Nicaragua and are in discussions with them over fighter aircraft sales. It also plans to carry out joint exercises with the Nicaraguan military, he said. Another example, China and Russia offer a program similar to the United States’ International Military Education and Training. Moscow has opened a facility in Nicaragua to bring the training directly there...
Russia Syria Aren’t Taking Blame
For “Chemical Attack”...
by Rick Wells
{} ~ There’s two sides to every story, unless it’s one being reported by the mainstream propaganda media, then there’s only repetition of the approved narrative... While in most instances one would expect the liberal media to vilify President Trump for anything and everything he does, his actions against Syria are an exception. The establishment badly wants another Middle East war, so their puppet media and politicians were told to back off, support the President’s action, and encourage more of the same. After all, it’s what liar-nObama wanted but was too much of a coward to do himself. He only attacked Americans. This video from Russian media outlet “Russia Insider,” makes the untold other side arguments in the dispute over responsibility for the chemical attack or collateral release, the method and situation surrounding the dispersal is still undetermined. Russian media states that the Syrian Air Force “struck a militant warehouse in the city of Kahn Shaykuhn. According to intelligence services, chemical weapons were produced there. Bombs filled with poisonous substances. Perhaps, they were the ones used the day before during the bombing of the city.”...
Why We Have Mitch McConnell to
Thank for Justice Neil Gorsuch
by Genevieve Wood
{} ~ It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day for a Rose Garden ceremony to swear in Neil Gorsuch as the newest associate justice to the U.S. Supreme Court... And one decision, made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just over a year ago, is the reason it was all possible. Not guaranteed, but possible. When Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly last February, the balance of the high court was perilously in danger. It was already a “swing” court that too often tilted leftward if you believe courts are supposed to interpret the law, not make it...
The Real Train Wreck
by Steven Malanga
{} ~ Years ago, when I was a financial journalist covering the greater New York region, one of the biggest stories I covered was the relocation of the area’s major companies to states like Texas, North Carolina, and Florida. Back then, a typical response of local political leaders to every departure was that those firms were short-sighted, preferring to save a few bucks on taxes for the sake of moving to places that “under invested” in quality of life. Their hospitals didn’t save as many lives as ours, the story went, and their schools didn’t create an educated workforce like ours did. Their infrastructure was “rural,” at best. Still, for some reason, the firms kept going. Some of us began wondering whether things weren’t quite as bad elsewhere as the defenders of the New York/New Jersey region’s model of high taxes, high costs, and deference to special interests made them out to be.

I can’t help recalling those days whenever the region experiences one of its increasingly common meltdowns—like the current commuting fiasco that’s plagued New Jersey Transit riders thanks to a Monday derailment in Penn Station. The spillover effects are also slamming commuters from Long Island and riders of the PATH trains. If you follow these issues closely, you know that the derailment itself—the second in ten days at Penn—is only a small part of the story of how the political culture of one of the nation’s richest regions has managed to squander its resources so thoroughly over the past several decades.

Consider the agencies tasked with dealing with the most recent mess. While it’s not clear yet whether Amtrak which manages Penn Station and owns the tracks or NJ Transit whose train derailed is at fault for the derailment, the accident has already led to a chain of negative consequences. When Penn Station riders were rerouted to Hoboken, for instance, they entered a station still under construction to fix the damage caused by the September 29 crash of a NJ Transit train that barreled in after the train’s operator apparently fell asleep or blacked out at the wheel. The construction work on the Hoboken platform worsened the overcrowding. Meanwhile, NJ Transit riders directed into the PATH system, operated by the giant bi-state Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, found that switching problems had overburdened that service, too, so that a system that could barely accommodate all the extra traffic under the best circumstances became unbearable for some commuters, who just gave up. Delays are expected to continue until Friday.

These are not isolated incidents. NJ Transit, after all, is the agency that parked trains below sea level during superstorm Sandy, causing $100 million of damage and contributing to service shortfalls. It’s also the agency that stranded thousands of people at Met Life Stadium after the Super Bowl in 2014, prompting fans to chant on the platforms, “New Jersey sucks.” The Port Authority, meanwhile, has already given the region some of the world’s worst airports. Neither Newark nor LaGuardia make the list of the world’s top 100 airports; Joe loose lips-Biden famously described LaGuardia as “Third World.”

In the wake of accidents like Monday’s, you will inevitably read that the region needs to invest more in infrastructure, even if that means ever-higher taxes. What you won’t read about much is what resources we already have and how our political culture—the product of our voting habits—has frittered them away. One consequence is that we get higher taxes—as when New Jersey raised its gasoline taxes after the Hoboken crash—without reform, guaranteeing that many of the same practices that led to trouble in the first place will continue. New York and New Jersey are, respectively, first and third in taxes per capita collected from residents (Alaska and North Dakota collect more, but much of their tax revenue comes from energy companies). Even with all this tax revenue, transit agencies impose stratospheric fees. The Port Authority’s tolls for bridges and tunnels and its airline fees at Newark Airport rank among the highest in the nation, while NJ Transit charges riders the highest fares of any U.S. commuter train system.

Where this money goes is a mystery only to those who don’t pay attention. Less than a decade ago, the big story about NJ Transit, for instance, was not underinvestment but the upward-spiraling subsidies that the state had to pay to keep the agency afloat. One big reason: the rich contracts it awarded workers, which resulted in the agency spending 80 cents on employee benefits for every dollar it paid in wages. In the private sector, the average is about 43 cents for every dollar in salary for the average worker and 53 cents per dollar for those in transportation. Though NJ Transit has tried to hold down costs for years, employee benefits alone consume half of all revenues the agency collects from riders. Reforms have failed at least in part because workers can strike—a devastating tool for a government transit monopoly.

The Port Authority, for its part, infamously spent $4 billion on one PATH station, a classic boondoggle that came in at twice the original price.  In addition, thanks to years of rich worker contracts and poor controls over overtime and other costs, the average worker at the Port Authority’s steeply unprofitable PATH service earned $91,000 in 2014, while officers who police its facilities took home an average of $153,000 in cash compensation. Those high tolls and airport fees, in other words, finance salaries and benefits that are rich even by the luxe standards of New York and New Jersey public-sector contracts. Not to be outdone, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has taken a project to build a rail tunnel under the East River from Queens to Manhattan—originally priced at $3 billion and slated for completion in 2010—and turned it into at least a $10 billion undertaking that won’t get finished until 2022, according to current projections, largely because the original estimates purposely hid the real price of the work and union featherbedding, among other things.

This history suggests that the parties associated with planning and building two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River—New Jersey, New York, the Port Authority, and Amtrak are all involved—will do nothing to prevent something similar from happening again. Given that preliminary costs for the Hudson rail tunnels are already estimated at $23 billion, the project might well turn out to be the one that finally breaks the region financially. It wouldn’t be the first time that such a megaproject undermined the stability of an economy.

Why do residents put up with it? I’m often asked. Many don’t, actually. Faced with a political system rigged against reform both states’ political districts are among the most gerrymandered, making it difficult to oust incumbents, people are voting with their feet. New York and New Jersey are leaders in outmigration of residents, and they rank among the states whose residents would most like to leave if they could. New Jersey, despite its wealth, is broke; New York’s budget sustains itself on the taxes that Wall Street throws off, but vast regions of the state resemble Appalachia, as Eliot Spitzer once said.

At times during my years covering the relocation story, I wondered how many of the businesses that fled the region would regret it. I’ve stopped wondering.

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