The Middle East Heats Up

Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail reported that Saudi Arabia had shot down a missile from Yemen aimed at one of the kingdom’s major international airports on the outskirts of Riyadh.

This is a map showing the geographical relationship between Saudi Arabia and Yemen:

The article reports:

Saudi Arabia said its forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Iran-backed rebels in Yemen toward one of the kingdom’s major international airports on the outskirts of Riyadh. 

A Saudi-led coalition launched a war against the Houthi rebels and their allies in March 2015 that grinds on today, a campaign overseeing by Crown Prince Mohammed.

The conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia is an expression of the Sunni vs. Shiite conflict. Both the Sunnis and the Shiites want a caliphate reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire covering the Middle East. The dispute is over who will lead it–the Sunnis or the Shiites.

The article further reports:

Only hours before the missile was shout out of the sky, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri resigned from his post in a televised address from Riyadh, offering a vicious tirade against Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah group for what he said was their meddling in Arab affairs.

‘Iran’s arms in the region will be cut off,’ Hariri said. 

Iran-backed Yemeni Huthi rebels claimed responsibility for firing missile, which was targeting the airport, the Huthis’ Al-Masirah television said.

Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbour, has been ripped apart by a war between the Saudi-backed government of president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Huthi rebels backed by Iran. 

A Saudi-led coalition became involved in 2015 to help prop up Hadi’s government after Shiite Huthis seized the capital Sanaa.

The missile was knocked down by the Patriot missile system that the Saudis bought from America.

Perspective On The Tax Plan

The Canada Free Press posted an article today about some of the benefits of President Trump‘s proposed tax package. The article points out some basic economic principles that should be considered when analyzing the tax proposal.

The article points out:

1. The corporate tax cut will free up approximately $200 billion in capital every year to be reinvested into the economy.

2. The transfer of this wealth from control of politicians to business people will ensure that capital fuels real, profit-driven productivity rather than simply being transferred to politically favored constituencies. In other words, if you want some of that capital, you’ll have to do something productive to earn it. That’s how economic growth happens.

3. A company that earned $100 million in profits will now save $15 million on its federal tax bill. What can a company that size do with a suddenly found $15 million? How many people can it hire, products can it develop, machines can it buy, facilities can it expand?

4. The professional service industry should benefit tremendously from this tax change, particularly smaller practitioners. Why, you ask? They don’t pay massive taxes, after all. You’re right, they don’t. But the massive corporations they’d like as clients do. Many of these corporations view the services of such professionals as a luxury they would like, but can’t afford when margins are too tight. Freeing up extra cash for big corporations will give professional service providers more opportunity to secure large corporate contracts.

5. Wages will increase, but not for the reason some people think. Many of the arguments liberals make against corporate tax cuts is that corporations will just pocket the money and won’t share it with their workers. But that’s not how business works. The goal of a corporation is to be more productive and profitable, and you need capital to invest in productivity. When productivity rises, wages follow because workers can provide more value. Corporations aren’t going to raise wages just because there’s more money sitting around, nor should they. They’ll raise wages because the greater capital availability will make it possible to increase productivity.

6. Liberals argue that the government would spend the $200 billion as well, so it would be reinvested back in the economy regardless. The government would spend it, but businesses will spend it more wisely because they’re accountable for the result of the spending. Also, you always spend money more wisely when it’s money you earned as opposed to money you simply confiscated from someone else. That’s why lottery winners so often end up in bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, many Americans are not familiar with the basic economics that will make this tax plan work. The Democrats have already begun yelling ‘tax cuts for the rich,’ and many people will believe them. The basic concept here is that the tax cuts should go to the people who are paying the taxes. Since almost half of Americans do not pay income taxes and will not pay taxes under the proposed plan, why should they resent those who are paying taxes getting a small break?

Keeping The Public Unaware

The November 13th issue of the Weekly Standard will feature an article by Stephen F. Hayes illustrating how important information was kept from the American public for political gain.

The article reminds us that when Osama Bin Laden was killed, the seal team involved collected a lot of computer information about terrorism.

The article reports:

In the heady days immediately after the May 2 Abbottabad raid, President Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, had described the intelligence haul brought back from Pakistan by the Navy SEALs and CIA operatives as extensive enough to fill a “small college library.” A senior military intelligence official who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on May 7, 2011, said: “As a result of the raid, we’ve acquired the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”

Yet:

On the penultimate day of the Obama administration, less than 24 hours before the president would vacate the White House, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a press release meant to put to rest what had been a pesky issue for his office. “Closing the Book on Bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases Final Abbottabad Documents,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced. “Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year effort to declassify several hundred documents recovered in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound in May 2011.” Accompanying the press release were 49 documents captured during the raid, bringing the total number of documents made public to 571.

A small college library with 571 documents would be pretty pathetic. So what happened?

This is how the limited amount of information was used during the 2012 presidential campaign:

In the spring of 2012, with the Republican presidential primaries nearing an end and shortly before the first anniversary of the successful raid on bin Laden’s compound, Obama’s National Security Council hand-picked 17 documents to be provided to the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point for analysis. (Obama’s NSC would later hold back two of those documents. One of them, laying out the deep ties between the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda leadership, would complicate Obama administration efforts to launch negotiations with the Taliban, according to an explanation the NSC’s Doug Lute offered to West Point.) The West Point documents were shared with Obama-friendly journalists. Their conclusion was the only one possible, given the documents they were provided: At the time of his death, Osama bin Laden was frustrated and isolated, a relatively powerless leader of a dying organization. In the summer and fall of 2012, Obama would use this theme as the main national security rationale for his reelection: Al Qaeda was alternately “on the run” or “decimated” or “on the path to defeat.”

“Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al Qaeda has been decimated. Osama bin Laden is dead,” Obama said in Green Bay, Wis., on November 1, five days before his reelection.

The story continues:

No more. On Wednesday, November 1, CIA director Mike Pompeo announced the release of “nearly 470,000 additional files” from the Abbottabad raid. From 571 to 470,000: The “most transparent administration in history,” you might say, has just been trumped, by nearly three orders of magnitude.

Some of the information might have caused a problem with the Iran nuclear deal:

Bin Laden had described Iran as the “main artery” for al Qaeda in one of the previously released letters recovered in Abbottabad. The details on Iran’s support for al Qaeda, some of them buried until now, led to terrorist designations by the Treasury Department and even caused some intelligence analysts to revisit the assumption that the Shiite radicals in Iran wouldn’t back the Sunni al Qaeda. In a 2011 interview, David S. Cohen, a senior Treasury Department official who went on to become deputy director of the CIA, described the intelligence, which detailed a network of financial support for al Qaeda that operated out of Iran: “There is an agreement between the Iranian government and al Qaeda to allow this network to operate,” Cohen said. “There’s no dispute in the intelligence community on this.” Iran was providing a “core pipeline” of support that included safe haven for al Qaeda members and the facilitation of travel and the flow of money and weapons.

…The CIA release of the additional 470,000 documents includes a 19-page report on al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran authored by an unidentified al Qaeda operative. The author lays out some tensions between al Qaeda and Iran but makes clear those differences don’t preclude cooperation. The document reports that the Iranian regime was giving its “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed.” This included safe haven in Iran, the facilitation of travel for senior al Qaeda operatives, and “money, arms,” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

Among other conclusions I can draw from this information, it might be time to revisit the Iran deal keeping Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda in mind.

The Heritage Foundation’s Analysis Of The Proposed Tax Plan

Below is the Heritage Foundation‘s analysis of the proposed tax plan:

Months ago, conservatives began pressuring their lawmakers to ensure that tax reform followed five conservative principles. Here’s how the bill stacks up to those principles:

Lowering and Simplifying the Individual Tax Rates: The GOP proposal provides long overdue relief to millions of Americans by simplifying and lowering the individual tax rates to 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent and 39.6 percent. For married couples, the 25 percent rate starts at $90,000, the 35 percent rate starts at $260,000 and the top rate starts at $1 million. The bill will also double the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families.

Lowering the Corporate Tax Rate: This bill will immediately lower the corporate rate to 20 percent — the rate demanded by conservatives for months — making American businesses more competitive with the rest of the world and providing hard working Americans with a much needed raise. Rates for small business pass throughs were also reduced by 15 percentage points, down to 25 percent.

Tax Free Entrepreneurship (Full Expensing): The GOP proposal includes full expensing for some investments that phases out after 5 years. This is a necessary boost to investment in the short-term, though improvements could be made as the process advances.

Establishing a Territorial Tax System: This bill attempts to eliminate the double taxation that defines our current worldwide tax system, though there are some provisions that could undermine the full value of that reform. Stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis.

Ending Cronyism in the Tax Code: Conservatives have also been fighting back against big-government special interest groups. The plan eliminates many special interest provisions including the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT), though it allows a write off for property taxes. If not for conservative pushback, the swamp creatures would have been far more successful in defending the broken, corrupt status quo.

Here are some other things included in the bill you should know:

  • Child tax credit goes to $1600 from $1000 plus additional $300 credit for parents and non-child dependents.
  • State and local deduction converted to property tax deduction with $10K cap
  • 401k’s are untouched
  • The Death Tax exemption will be doubled and eventually phased out after five years.
  • Preserves the home mortgage interest deduction for current mortgages and limits the deduction to $500,000 for new mortgages.
  • Preserves the Charitable Tax Deduction.

At first glance, the preliminary text released today has the potential to unleash economic growth, create American jobs, increase wages for American workers, allow families to keep more of their hard-earned money, and make U.S. businesses competitive across the globe.

According to documents released by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, a typical middle-income family of four, earning $59K (median household income), will receive a $1,182 tax cut under this bill.

Cleaning Up The Federal Taxes And The Federal Budget

Yesterday The Washington Times posted an article about one aspect of the tax bill that will limit fraud and save the taxpayers billions of dollars.

The article reports:

The new GOP tax overhaul would strip illegal immigrants of the ability to claim several major tax credits, saving the government $23.1 billion over the next decade, according to the bill’s authors.

For years Republicans have complained that despite a general ban on taxpayer benefits flowing to illegal immigrants, the IRS has allowed them to collect the child tax credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

…But the new tax overhaul tries again, calling for taxpayers to have to submit work-eligible Social Security numbers in order to claim the credits.

Immigrant-rights advocates have complained about attempts to close the tax credits in the past.

In the case of the child tax credit, activists say that while the parents may be in the country illegally, their children are often U.S. citizens who deserve the credit.

…Many illegal immigrants pay taxes using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, which the IRS issues to those who aren’t authorized to work in the U.S., but whom the government still wants to pony up to Uncle Sam.

The IRS pays out billions of dollars a year in tax credits to people filing using ITINs each year, according to the agency’s inspector general.

The inspector general has repeatedly urged the IRS to stop making the payments, but the agency has refused, saying it interprets the law related to those tax credits to cover illegal immigrants as well as other taxpayers.

The obvious question is why is the government making payments to people who are not in America legally and have no right to work here.

Things That Just Make You Wonder

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article yesterday about the Paris Climate Accord. It seems as if President Trump did the right thing by pulling America out of the agreement.

There is still no agreement among scientists as to the role that man and his civilization play in climate change. Obviously the climate has been changing continually since man has inhabited the earth. There is a documented period of global warming during the Middle Ages, and there is no way that carbon emissions could be responsible for that. There are also plant fossils found beneath the ice in Greenland, another indication that the climate has changed over time. We all remember the TIME Magazine cover during the 1970’s warning of the coming ice age. We also know that our local weatherman is not accurate 100 percent of the time.

The article at Investor’s Business Daily reports:

According to the latest annual UN report on the “emissions gap,” the Paris agreement will provide only a third of the cuts in greenhouse gas that environmentalists claim is needed to prevent catastrophic warming. If every country involved in those accords abides by their pledges between now and 2030 — which is a dubious proposition — temperatures will still rise by 3 degrees C by 2100. The goal of the Paris agreement was to keep the global temperature increase to under 2 degrees.

Eric Solheim, head of the U.N. Environment Program, which produces the annual report, said this week that “One year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, we still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future. Governments, the private sector and civil society must bridge this catastrophic climate gap.”

The report says unless global greenhouse gas emissions peak before 2020, the CO2 levels will be way above the goal set for 2030, which, it goes on, will make it “extremely unlikely that the goal of holding global warming to well below 2 degrees C can still be reached.”

The article concludes:

What the report does make clear, however, is that all the posturing by government leaders in Paris was just that. Posturing. None of these countries intended to take the drastic and economically catastrophic steps environmentalist claim are needed to prevent a climate change doomsday. As such, Trump was right to stop pretending.

Whether you believe in climate change or not, the Paris climate accord amounted to nothing, or pretty close to it. Even the UN admits that now.

We need to look at the balance between civilization of the environment. America is one of the economic leaders in the world and yet one of the least polluting. Look at the progress we have made in recent years–many of our formerly polluted rivers are being cleaned up, the industries that created the ‘super fund sites’ are now controlled to the degree that they can no longer ruin the environment, waste disposal has improved, and carbon emissions for cars and factories have decreased.

The following chart is from the Energy Information website:

We are making progress. The Paris Agreement would not have positively impacted that progress–it would only have crippled the American economy.

Oops!

Regardless of your stand on whether or not the Uranium One sale is a problem, you probably agree that it’s a bad idea to ship uranium that can be upgraded for weapons use out of America. One of the talking points the left is using to say that the Uranium One deal is not a problem is to say that since the uranium is not allowed to leave America, it really doesn’t matter who owns it. Well, it seems as if that is not the case.

Yesterday The Hill reported that uranium that can be upgraded for weapons use did leave the country.

The article reports:

“No uranium produced at either facility may be exported,” the NRC declared in a November 2010 press release that announced that ARMZ, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned Rosatom, had been approved to take ownership of the Uranium One mining firm and its American assets.

A year later, the nuclear regulator repeated the assurance in a letter to Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican in whose state Uranium One operated mines.  

…Yet NRC memos reviewed by The Hill show that it did approve the shipment of yellowcake uranium — the raw material used to make nuclear fuel and weapons — from the Russian-owned mines in the United States to Canada in 2012 through a third party. Later, the Obama administration approved some of that uranium going all the way to Europe, government documents show.

The article further reports:

NRC officials told The Hill that Uranium One exports flowed from Wyoming to Canada and on to Europe between 2012 and 2014, and the approval involved a process with multiple agencies.

Rather than give Rosatom a direct export license — which would have raised red flags inside a Congress already suspicious of the deal — the NRC in 2012 authorized an amendment to an existing export license for a Paducah, Ky.-based trucking firm called RSB Logistics Services Inc. to simply add Uranium One to the list of clients whose uranium it could move to Canada.

The license, reviewed by The Hill, is dated March 16, 2012, and it increased the amount of uranium ore concentrate that RSB Logistics could ship to the Cameco Corp. plant in Ontario from 7,500,000 kilograms to 12,000,000 kilograms and added Uranium One to the “other parties to Export.”

The move escaped notice in Congress.

Please follow the link above to The Hill to read the entire article. It details how things were done to avoid attracting the attention of Congress and to avoid Congress exercising the oversight role it should have played in this series of transactions.

Some Facts About The Republican Tax Plan

The first fact to remember about the Republican tax plan is that what is eventually passed by Congress will be different than what was introduced today. How different we don’t know, but it will be different.

The Daily Signal posted an article today highlighting some of the proposed plan. The plan would simplify taxes, lower income tax rates, and positively impact business taxes.

The article reports:

The tax reform package would simplify and lower the current tax rate structure, from seven different rates ranging from 10 percent to 39.6 percent, to four rates: 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent, and 39.6 percent.

Most low- to middle-income earners would face lower marginal tax rates, which would help encourage more work and also put more money back into taxpayers’ pockets to spend more productively than the federal government.

Unfortunately, the plan maintains the top marginal rate of 39.6 percent (which reaches 43.4 percent when factoring in the Obamacare surtax).

While only 1 of every 150 taxpayers actually pays the top rate, more than 1 of every $5 of taxable income is subject to that tax rate. That means a lot of economic activity is affected by the top rate, and lowering it would have a significant and positive impact on investment, productivity, incomes, and job growth in the U.S.

Maintaining a high top rate for wealthy Americans may make the plan more politically palatable, more appealing to average Americans, and help reduce the alleged “costs” of the tax reform plan. In reality, though, it would not result in nearly as much revenue as static estimates project, and it would limit the plan’s ability to maximize job growth and boost incomes for everyday Americans.

One aspect of the tax plan that is going to meet with a lot of resistance is the change to state and local tax deductions.

The article explains:

The proposed tax plan would partially eliminate state and local tax deductions by getting rid of the deduction for income or sales taxes, and by capping the deduction for property taxes at $10,000.

State and local tax deductions provide no economic benefit. In fact, they are outright detrimental to the economy.

By allowing those who itemize their taxes to deduct property taxes as well as income or sales taxes they pay to state and local governments, these deductions shift the burden of high-tax states onto low-tax states, and spread a portion of high-income earners’ taxes onto lower- and middle-earners’ tax bills.

For example, just seven states (California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Connecticut) receive more than 50 percent of the value of the state and local tax deductions.

And on net, the average millionaire receives 102 times as much benefit from the state and local tax deductions as a typical household that makes between $75,000 and $100,000.

Eliminating the sales and income tax deductions would be a huge benefit to at least 85 percent of Americans.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It explains how each part of the tax plan would impact families in all income brackets. What we are hearing in the mainstream media is not necessarily accurate.

 

 

It May Or Not Be True, But It Is Definitely Interesting


Usually I take the time to verify things before I post them, but I have no way to verify this. I am not sure anyone can verify it. The good news here is that the rats are deserting the sinking ship that the Democratic party has become.

Politico posted an article today about Donna Brazile‘s new book, Hacks. I have no idea how much of the book is true, but the excerpts are extremely interesting. The excerpts pretty much confirm the fact that the Democratic primary was rigged in favor of Hillary long before anyone even thought of voting.

The book explains:

When the party chooses the nominee, the custom is that the candidate’s team starts to exercise more control over the party. If the party has an incumbent candidate, as was the case with Clinton in 1996 or Obama in 2012, this kind of arrangement is seamless because the party already is under the control of the president. When you have an open contest without an incumbent and competitive primaries, the party comes under the candidate’s control only after the nominee is certain. When I was manager of Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, we started inserting our people into the DNC in June. This victory fund agreement, however, had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination.

I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff. I had gone department by department, investigating individual conduct for evidence of skewed decisions, and I was happy to see that I had found none. Then I found this agreement.

The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.

The same lady talking about integrity is the person who fed the debate questions to candidate Clinton before the debates. Wow. I guess integrity depends on who you are talking about.

The book continues:

I told Bernie I had found Hillary’s Joint Fundraising Agreement. I explained that the cancer was that she had exerted this control of the party long before she became its nominee. Had I known this, I never would have accepted the interim chair position, but here we were with only weeks before the election.

Bernie took this stoically. He did not yell or express outrage. Instead he asked me what I thought Hillary’s chances were. The polls were unanimous in her winning but what, he wanted to know, was my own assessment?

I had to be frank with him. I did not trust the polls, I said. I told him I had visited states around the country and I found a lack of enthusiasm for her everywhere. I was concerned about the Obama coalition and about millennials.

I urged Bernie to work as hard as he could to bring his supporters into the fold with Hillary, and to campaign with all the heart and hope he could muster. He might find some of her positions too centrist, and her coziness with the financial elites distasteful, but he knew and I knew that the alternative was a person who would put the very future of the country in peril. I knew he heard me. I knew he agreed with me, but I never in my life had felt so tiny and powerless as I did making that call.

When I hung up the call to Bernie, I started to cry, not out of guilt, but out of anger. We would go forward. We had to.

Okay. Let’s back up a minute. Ms. Brazile is stating that the election of Donald Trump would put the very future of the country in peril, but electing someone who had to rig the system to make sure they won the primary would not? Wow.

Please follow the link above to read the entire Politico article. As I have stated, I have no idea how much of what Ms. Brazile is saying is true, but some of it confirms statements from other sources. At best the book would be very entertaining.

Government By The People…Which People???

On Monday, The Conservative Review posted an article about some recent decisions by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding North Carolina. It seems that the wishes of the voters and the legislature have taken a back seat to the wishes of the Court.

The article reports:

As we’ve noted in a series of articles, the unelected federal courts have destroyed North Carolina’s right to self-determination. They have mandated transgenderism, blocked every voter integrity law, required very specific times and amounts of early voting, criminalized voluntary public prayer, and erased every single districting map — from federal and state districts to even county school board maps in middle of an election season and after candidates already spent enormous sums campaigning. Again, this was all done by federal, not state courts. They are rendering elections moot and are now ensuring that conservatives can never win elections by ruling Democrat racial gerrymander advantages into law and into the Constitution.

Now, the Fourth Circuit has unilaterally hired a liberal proctor to oversee and supervise the state legislature in the new redistricting it previously mandated.

It is not the duty of the Court to legislate–they are not elected officials and do not have that power.

The article continues:

It is first important to recognize that North Carolina received pre-clearance from Obama’s Justice Department, and the maps were upheld twice in state court. That should have ended the matter. Federal courts should have absolutely no jurisdiction over state legislative maps. Yet the federal courts nullified 28 legislative districts and remanded back to the three-judge panel, which includes two Obama-appointed judges.

The North Carolina legislature went back and drew a new, clean map that is better than anything Democrats put out when they had control for 100 years. That should have ended the matter. Yet the Obama judges, who have been accorded God-like power over subject matter the Constitution did not entrust to them, want to make sure the maps maximize the Democrat Party advantage. They gave standing to another lawsuit challenging three Senate and nine House districts. Last Thursday, in a written order, Judge Catherine Eagles wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel that she feels the new map doesn’t redress the “constitutional” violation and is “otherwise legally unacceptable” — in other words, it doesn’t contain enough Democrat advantages. So, in the ultimate act of legislating from the bench, the judge said that due to “the technical nature of determining an appropriate remedy” and “exceptional circumstances,” the court is appointing a “special master” to oversee the maps.

Thus, an unelected federal court with no constitutional jurisdiction over maps cleared by the DOJ and state courts is now requiring that de facto veto power over the new maps be given to an unelected “expert.” While this is not the first time officious federal courts have created a “special master,” the circumstances are particularly indefensible, given that the state has done everything properly until now.

This is not acceptable. The solution is nullification.

The Tenth Amendment Center explains the concept of nullification:

Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions claim that the U. S. Constitution was a compact among the several states-whereby the states delegated certain limited powers to the U.S. government; any undelegated power exercised by the U. S. government is thus void.

Furthermore, the general government is not the final and authoritative judge of its own powers, since that would make the government’s discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of those powers-but rather the parties to the contract, the states, have each an equal right to judge for themselves whether the Constitution has been violated as well as “the mode and measure of redress”-since there is no common judge of such matters among them.

Thus, every state can of its own authority nullify within its territory “all assumptions of power by others”-i.e., all perceived violations of the Constitution by the federal government.

The Kentucky Resolution uses the Tenth Amendment to justify a strict construction of the general government’s powers; any powers not expressly delegated to the U. S. government remain the province of the states or the people, and any exercise of those powers by the general government is void and can be struck down by the states on that basis.

Furthermore, Jefferson warns against construing the “necessary and proper” clause so broadly as to justify the assumption of undelegated powers by the general government; the intent of the clause was to only enable the execution of limited powers, not to indefinitely extend the general government’s scope. Otherwise, this part of the Constitution would be used “to destroy the whole residue of that instrument.”

We have wandered far afield from the republic our Founding Fathers envisioned. It is time to change direction and get back to where we belong. Nullification is one weapon in our arsenal that will allow us to do that.

 

Ignoring The Obvious

It has been widely reported that the terrorist who ran over people with a truck yesterday afternoon shouted “Allahu Akbar!” I think that might be an indication of what his motives were.

Newsbusters posted a story today illustrating how some of the media chooses to overlook the obvious.

The article reports:

Just hours after news broke that a radical inspired by ISIS drove into a bikepath, killing eight people and injuring over a dozen others, MSNBC was already out deflecting blame from the radical religious ideology behind the attack. The network’s terrorism analyst, Malcolm Nance, defended Islam, saying it wasn’t responsible for Tuesday’s terror attack. He even brought Christianity into the mix, saying that sometimes Christians were responsible for terror.

 Hardball host Chris Matthews brought Nance into the conversation on Tuesday night’s program, asking him about the trend of terrorists using vehicles to go on their violent rampages. Nance responded that it was nothing new, and had been employed by terrorists in Israel dozens of times already.

I’m sorry, Mr. Nance, I don’t remember the last time Christians were responsible for terror. I know sometimes Christianity has been blamed for terror, but there is nothing in the Bible that condones terror. The Quran, on the other hand, has many verses that encourage the killing of infidels.

Mr. Nance then stated:

A few minutes later, the counter-terrorism expert again defended Islam and accused Christians of becoming radicalized terrorists as well:

I have been in the house of Osama Bin Laden in Jalalabad. I have seen the power of how he corrupted Islam and gotten an entire of multiple generations to follow what he believed. ISIS is just the fifth generation of that corrupt ideology. But then when you get down to the street level, you have these former petty criminals, these guys who were really sort of losers in their own society. Even Christians, we have seen Catholics in Canada who converted to quote on quote, Islam and carried out acts of terror. You see them do this and what you really see is a person who either has a mental defect or who has some loss or vacuum in their world, and they decide ISIS or Al-Qaeda ideology and those acts will validate them once and for all in their life.

It wasn’t their Catholic theology that encouraged them to become terrorists–it was the Islamic theology they converted to. Jihad, waging war on infidels, is part of Quranic Islam. We ignore that fact at our own risk.

The so-called counter-terrorism expect is lying. He is lulling Americans into a false sense of security by saying that Islam is not responsible for yesterday’s terrorist attack. It is time to begin to look at what is being taught in America’s mosques. Constitutionally we cannot interfere with anyone’s freedom of religion, but when that freedom becomes a vehicle to encourage terrorism, we need to know who is involved and what they are preaching.

 

 

The Trump Economy

CNBC is reporting today that more private-sector jobs were created in October than economists expected.

The article reports:

The ADP National Employment showed private-sector businesses added 235,000 jobs in the month. ADP was expected to show private employers added 200,000 jobs in October, up from 135,000 in September.

Goods-producing companies benefited strongly with 85,000 new jobs, 62,000 of which came from construction. Manufacturing also saw 22,000 positions added.

…Overall, the service sector accounted for the bulk of the job creation, adding 150,000 jobs. Professional and business services added the most positions, up 109,000. Job losses were seen in the trade, transportation, and information sectors, as well as education.

“The job market rebounded strongly from the hit it took from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement. “Resurgence in construction jobs shows the rebuilding is already in full swing. Looking through the hurricane-created volatility, job growth is robust.”

Leisure and hospitality contributed 45,000 to the total while health care and social assistance grew by 44,000.

In terms of business size, job gains were spread evenly, with companies that have more than 500 employees hiring 90,000 while those with fewer than 50 added 79,000.

Part of this growth is the result of deregulation, and part of this growth is in anticipation of tax cuts that will be favorable to the middle class and to business growth. It will be interesting to see how the increase in the number of people re-entering the job market looking for jobs impacts the unemployment numbers that will come out this week.

Good News From Libya

Yesterday Fox News reported that a militant alleged to have been involved in the attack on the Annex in Benghazi, Libya, has been captured. The man (Mustafa al-Imam) is being brought to Washington, D.C., where he will be tried in federal court.

The article also reports:

Earlier this month, the trial of Ahmed Abu Khattala began, the alleged mastermind of the 2012 attacks. It’s not clear if the suspect detailed by U.S. special operations forces is one of Khattala’s lieutenants.

Khatallah had been awaiting trail since 2014, when U.S. Army commandos and FBI agents captured him in Benghazi and put him on a Navy ship for detention in an American prison inside the United States.

I have mixed emotions about bringing this man into the United States. If he is given the full rights of the U.S. Constitution even though he is not an American citizen, the discovery phase of a trial could make the prosecution very difficult–we might have to divulge classified information in that phase. However, if bringing him back the the United States is an indication that he will receive a speedy trial and verdict, that is a good thing. It is not a good idea to imprison terrorists in America. There will always be a risk of a hostage situation in an attempt to free them. Remember, we are dealing with people who believe that if they die fighting infidels, they will go to heaven. We are the infidels. If the man is convicted and given a prison sentence, it would be better to send him to Guantanamo than to imprison him in the United States.

A Very Different Perspective On Yesterday’s Indictments

Yesterday Conservative Treehouse posted a very intriguing analysis of the indictment of Paul Manafort. I strongly suggest that you follow the link to read the entire article, but I will try to highlight it here.

The article reports:

As the Special Counsel Robert Mueller indictment documents show with increasing clarity, the entire enterprise surrounding the Washington DC Russian Investigation is not about law, it’s about creating and controlling leverage.

…The 2016 election caused the balance of power to shift favorably toward political forces that are external to the DC machine, ie. President Trump and the deplorables.

The subsequent action by Robert Mueller, Democrats, the Media (writ large), and President Trump is a confrontation over political goals and objectives. The DC machine, the “swamp” per se’, is attempting to frame leverage against actions adverse to their political interest.

…Paul Manafort is being leveraged toward a political objective; his legal jeopardy is negligible. The documents, and the underlying charges, are intended to make life miserable for Mr. Manafort – not to end with some traditionally framed criminal consequence, ie. prison.

Mr. Manafort’s wealth is being held as leverage, compliance, toward his acquiescence within the game; nothing more. He’ll likely end up with some misdemeanor charge, a financial fine good enough for media optics and perhaps -at worst- some probation for not following the FARA rules. That’s it.

Conversely, on the other side of the political continuum, Tony and John Podesta are just now entering the process of being leveraged toward compliance on the Clinton side of the equation. Like Manafort, Tony Podesta most likely will not face legal jeopardy beyond a similar outcome.

In the backdrop to the Clinton dynamic you have Mueller putting the deeper part of the Deep Swamp and remaining black hat intelligence community, on notice to knock-it-off with the selling of U.S. policy toward gaining their own financial indulgences.

The article concludes:

Senator Schumer wants to keep his leverage right where it is currently; and stop ‘his side’ from feeling the effects of Mueller’s omnidirectional legal admonishments. If Mueller indicts Tony Podesta senator Schumer loses political leverage.

Nothing about the current dynamic is factually encompassing President Trump; it is all about optics, narratives and political leverage. However, everything about this dynamic is factually encompassing the existential threat that outsider Trump represents to the established way of life in the DC Swamp.

Toward the end goal of disrupting DC swamp-life, Mueller and Trump appear aligned in common cause. Robert Mueller from the perspective of trying to get the external influence agents to the U.S. stopped; and President Trump from the policy perspective of America-first, which coincidentally is in alignment with Mueller’s patriotic goals to stop influence agents.

That’s the bigger part of the BIG picture. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.

Washington is all about power (and a swamp that does not want to be drained).

The Insanity Being Taught In Our Colleges

If we expect America to survive at a nation, we had better take a long look at what our children are being taught in college and begin to change it. As a nation, we send our future leaders to college in the hope that they will learn critical thinking and leadership skills that will preserve us as a nation. We also hope that they will begin to understand the foundations of our nation. The obvious foundations are freedom, right to private property, free speech, etc. The more subtle foundation of our nation is the family. An intact family unit protects our children as they grow up and builds the foundation of leadership for the next generation. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way.

Fox News posted an article today about a City University of New York sociology professor, Jessie Daniels, who posted the following on Twitter:

There was a time in America that starting a family and wanting the best for your children was seen as a virtue. Wanting the best for your children meant encouraging them to work hard in school, learn a marketable skill, and if possible, continue their education. It is unfortunate that those goals are now considered ‘white supremacy.’ Those goals are attainable by any American of any race–ask Ben Carson about his background. If every young American accepted the goal of doing well in school, learning a marketable skill, waiting until after high school to get married, and waiting until marriage to have children, the poverty rate in America would be almost non-existent.

The Professor continues:

“Until white people are ready to confront their own family’s racism (and) participation in systemic white supremacy, it’s not getting dismantled,” she wrote. “Beyond just calling out interpersonal racism, white people who want to be engaged in the work need to ask themselves about housing wealth.”

She added: “White people: do you own your home? When you die, where’s wealth in that house going? If it’s to your children, you’re reproducing (inequality).”

If I understand her correctly, success=racism. Is she saying that people who are not white cannot be successful? I would encourage her to look at the number of non-while immigrants to America who have come here in the past fifty years or so and started businesses and become successful. Maybe the problem isn’t the color of a person’s skin, maybe its the attitude and unwillingness to try to succeed that makes the difference.

A Positive Step Toward Protecting Persecuted Christians

As Iran has become more powerful in the Middle East, the persecution of Christians has increased. Unfortunately, the Islamic religion does not include tolerance for those who do not practice Islam. In the past, our efforts to provide relief for persecuted Christians has been filtered through the United Nations, an organization that has tended to look the other way when Christians were persecuted. One of the major voting blocs in the United Nations is the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). That organization believes that Christianity is blasphemy against Islam and that Christians should be persecuted. The OIC is actually a major player in deciding how and where money for humanitarian aid to refugees and persecuted people should be spent.

One America News is reporting today that the Trump administration is changing the way humanitarian aid to persecuted Christians is handled.

The following video explains:

Hopefully this change will mean the persecuted Christians receive the necessary aid.

Wait For The Boomerang

The headlines are screaming today–“Paul Manafort Indicted.” Well, before the Democrats celebrate too loudly, they might want to take a look at the indictment.

The New York Post posted an article today listing the charges:

The indictment says Manafort and Gates worked as “unregistered agents” for Ukraine and the Party of Regions, a political party run by Yanukovych.

​They “generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work” and hid the payments from US authorities, the indictment says.

From 2006 through 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered $75 million through “scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts,” it says.

The 31-page indictment does not mention Trump or the 2016 election.

There are a few things that need to be noted about the indictment of Paul Manafort. Wikipedia lists a few positions Paul Manafort held in the past. Between 1978 and 1980, Manafort was the southern coordinator for Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, and the deputy political director at the Republican National Committee. After Reagan’s election in November 1980, he was appointed Associate Director of the Presidential Personnel Office at the White House. Paul Manafort worked as an advisor to the presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Bob Dole in 1996. Manafort was someone used by the Republican establishment in the past, it is quite likely that establishment Republicans had something to do with Manafort being chosen to work on the Trump campaign. It is also important to note that Manafort was hired in March 2016 and fired in August 2016.

So what can we conclude from this? It is quite likely that Robert Mueller has indicted Manafort as an attempt to bring down President Trump. All Mueller has to do is promise leniency to Manafort if Manafort will blow the whistle on the President.

The fact that the special prosecutor indicted someone who worked on the Trump campaign for a matter of months on charges that were in no way connected to the campaign or Donald Trump is an indication that Mueller is not finding what he needs to find in order to go after President Trump. It is becoming very obvious that Mueller is conducting an extensive witch hunt that is only yielding shady characters not related to the President.

In a nutshell, if this is all Robert Mueller can come up with, he needs to go away. He is a very expensive distraction.

 

Smile, You Are Being Manipulated

This story is based on an article today at Yahoo News, but the information contained can be found pretty much anywhere on the Internet.

It was leaked Friday that Robert Mueller was going to arrest someone on Monday. Why do you think that leak came out Friday after we have heard nothing for so long? Is the timing suspicious to you? Well, last week the news was full of Uranium One and GPS Fusion. The major media gave as little time as possible to both of these stories, but the news still got out. Both of these stories look very bad for both Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Unless someone changes the narrative, these stories will have to be covered in the mainstream media. Ergo, Robert Mueller is going to arrest someone.

In May 2015 the book Clinton Cash was published. The book explores the method the Clintons used to go from millions of dollars in debt due to legal expenses to earning over $230 million. Uranium One was one item mentioned in the book. There are also some real questions about how the money the Clinton Foundation raised for Haiti was spent. Although the news largely ignored the book, much of it has already been proven as true.

The Uranium One scandal and Fusion GPS were the news of the week last week. In order to take those stories off the front pages of objective or conservative media, a bigger story has to occur. Robert Mueller and the mainstream media are creating that story.

Smile, you are being manipulated.

It Just Gets Uglier

The Federalist is reporting today that since April President Obama has sent nearly a million dollars of his campaign money to the law group that hired Fusion GPS. This information appears in records filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The article reports:

The Washington Post reported last week that Perkins Coie, an international law firm, was directed by both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign to retain Fusion GPS in April of 2016 to dig up dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump. Fusion GPS then hired Christopher Steele, a former British spy, to compile a dossier of allegations that Trump and his campaign actively colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 election. Though many of the claims in the dossier have been directly refuted, none of the dossier’s allegations of collusion have been independently verified. Lawyers for Steele admitted in court filings last April that his work was not verified and was never meant to be made public.

OFA, Obama’s official campaign arm in 2016, paid nearly $800,000 to Perkins Coie in 2016 alone, according to FEC records. The first 2016 payments to Perkins Coie, classified only as “Legal Services,” were made April 25-26, 2016, and totaled $98,047. A second batch of payments, also classified as “Legal Services,” were disbursed to the law firm on September 29, 2016, and totaled exactly $700,000. Payments from OFA to Perkins Coie in 2017 totaled $174,725 through August 22, 2017.

The significance of this is simple. The information in the dossier put together by Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele is said to be the basis for the surveillance of the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team. Think about that. Essentially President Obama paid to have a group gather dirt on Donald Trump and then used that dirt (even though it was questionable at best) as the basis for electronic surveillance. That sort of political spying on American citizens is exactly what those in Congress who opposed the Patriot Act were trying to prevent. It seems as if there are a lot of people in Washington who abused their power in recent years and need to be held accountable. The swamp must be drained.

Tearing Down The Foundation Of America

Tearing down statues of people who lived more than a hundred years ago accomplishes nothing. If someone feels threatened by these statues, maybe they need to talk to a professional to find out why. Statues are statues. Unless they fall and hit you on the head, they are harmless. Denying history should not be something acceptable. Meanwhile, the insanity continues.

The Daily Signal is reporting today that Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where Washington became a founding member in 1773, will remove his memorial and a similar one to Robert E. Lee. Neither of these men were perfect men, but they were honorable men who followed their consciences and tried to do what was right.

The article reports:

The church’s decision to remove the plaques puts it at the center of a nationwide debate over the display of memorials to important American historical figures whose acts or statements didn’t comport with today’s social norms. Many groups have protested against public memorials to Confederate generals, such as Lee, and also to transformative presidents, such as Washington, Andrew Jackson, and even Abraham Lincoln.

The memorials at Christ Church in Alexandria were placed at the same time in 1870, months after Lee’s death. City residents chipped in for the plaques for both leaders, whose families had for many years been generous donors to the church’s endowment.

The Rev. Noelle York-Simmons, rector of the church, told The Washington Times the decision to take down the memorials was made by “unanimous vote” of the vestry, or church leadership committee. Church leaders say the plaques will come down by next summer, but no decision has been made as to how they will be displayed in another part of the church grounds.

As noted in the article, this is a debate over “…important American historical figures whose acts or statements didn’t comport with today’s social norms.” We need to remember that we cannot look at history through the lens of today. Slavery was a horrible thing,–but it is a chapter in our history. It is also a chapter that we chose to close as a nation.  We also need to remember that slavery is still acceptable today in many of the Muslim countries in the world. The Islamic religion has no problem with the idea of taking non-Muslims as slaves.

George Washington was an honorable man. His reluctance to be crowned king of America gave us the republic we cherish. To tear down the person of George Washington is to tear down one of the pillars in the foundation of America.

Why Did The Economy Turn Around In Less Than A Year?

On Wednesday, The Observer posted an article titled, “How Trump Got the Economy Booming in Less Than a Year.” That’s a question we need to answer if we are going to continue the boom.

The article reports some of the economic successes:

Early into his administration, Trump’s policies are already restoring growth. Real GDP grew 3.1 percent in the last quarter, up more than 50 percent from the average for the eight years that Obama was president.

In Trump’s first six months in office, more than a million new jobs were created, driving unemployment down to a 16-year low. The stock market set 34 new record highs, with headlines just last week screaming “Dow Races Through 23,000.”

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to nearly a 16-year high, as did Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort Index, both contributing to soaring retail sales. The National Association of Manufacturers Outlook Survey rocketed to a record 91.4 percent, the highest two quarter average for manufacturing optimism in the survey’s 20-year history. The Institute for Supply Management reported it’s barometer of manufacturing rose to 57.8, with over 50 indicating expansion of the manufacturing sector.

So how did this happen. Part of the reason for the growth is the promise of pro-growth tax reform based on the Reagan model of lower marginal tax rates. But there is another reason–based on actions, not promises–deregulation.

The article explains:

Trump has already made a lot of progress in removing Obama’s boot on the neck of American energy producers. That is why U.S. shale oil production has already soared to record levels since Trump entered office.

America today has the resources to lead the world as the top producer worldwide of oil, natural gas and coal. Removing America from the Paris Climate Accord, the start of the demise of Obama’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” and Trump’s ongoing dismantling of the anti-American energy regulation of Obama’s EPA has already liberated America’s energy producers to assume these world leading roles.

Any economy with the world’s number one oil producing industry, number one natural gas producing industry, and number one coal producing industry is going to be leading the world with booming economic growth. And not just in energy but in manufacturing too. Because manufacturing is an energy intensive activity.

The article concludes:

The House and Senate have now passed budgets providing for many of the spending reductions proposed in Trump’s budget. Contrary to outdated Keynesian economics, government spending detracts from rather than adds to the economy, draining resources from the productive private sector, which is why Obama’s “stimulus” never worked.

In the 2010 and 2014 elections, voters decisively expressed what they think of the Keynesian doctrine that increased deficits and government debt contribute to economic recovery and restored growth. Voters first obliterated the House Democrat majority in 2010 and then took away the Senate Democrat majority in 2014.

Wait until America gains the reality of pro-growth tax reform. When it further restores booming recovery, voters will feel vindicated in their judgements and continue their support for the economic policies of the Trump administration.

I am not convinced that all of the voters will be smart enough to realize what has happened to the economy this year. Unfortunately, we have a bloc of voters who will be more concerned with whether or not the government will continue to pay them not to work. Part of the challenge in growing America’s economy is restoring America’s work ethic. That is part of the foundation of the change that needs to come.

Why The FBI And The Department Of Justice Would Really Rather Not Talk To Congress

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article this morning with a possible explanation as to why the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are withholding information from Congress. Evidently a lot of rather dubious actions that would have been buried had Hillary Clinton been elected President are beginning to come to light.

The explanation comes from a retired FBI agent. He explains:

As a retired FBI Special Agent with over two decades of experience in counterintelligence, I’d like to make a point that Scott and Paul are surely aware of, but which it’s useful to keep at the front of your mind.

Scott regularly refers to the Trump dossier as the “Rosetta Stone” of the “muh Russia” narrative. That’s true, but it’s helpful to go one step further. The real importance of the Trump dossier from a criminal law standpoint lies in the use it was put to for official government purposes. To understand that we need to know whether the dossier was used to justify the initiation of Full Investigations (FIs), according to the relevant AG Guidelines for National Security investigations.

The former agent explains the problem with that:

The full relevance of these considerations can be seen from Scott and Paul’s review of just how threadbare the dossier really was in terms of authentication. If it was used in applications to the FISC with the knowledge that it was “oppo research” and likely not credible, and if that knowledge was withheld from the FISC, I suspect we’re looking at the real possibility of criminal conduct. And bear in mind that such applications (for FISA coverage relating to a candidate for President or a President-elect) would have been approved only at the highest levels before submission to the FISC.

To put two names to that process: James Comey and Loretta Lynch. If they knowingly deceived the FISC–and that depends, as far as we can tell at this point, largely on how they may have used the “dossier”–they’re looking at serious criminal liability.

Here we have an example of the FBI and the DOJ being used for political purposes.

The agent concludes:

Investigations of the magnitude we’re discussing necessarily include a fair number of people and the testimony of those other people would likely shed valuable light on the true nature of the process that was followed, who made the decisions, what was known about the credibility of information that was used to justify official actions, who really believed those justifications, the nature of coordination with other government agencies, etc. This is where the investigative rubber will hit the road.

This sort of political spying is the sort of thing that happens in dictatorships where leaders are grasping to hold on to power. I guess President Obama thought that the election of Hillary Clinton would be his third term as President.

Slowly Moving Ahead

The Independent Journal Review is reporting today that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Senate’s 2018 $4 trillion budget resolution, providing a boost to President Donald Trump’s push for tax reform.

The article reports:

While 20 Republicans opposed the bill, it narrowly passed with a 216-212 vote amid tensions over the budget’s impact on deficits and the debt.

The House endorsed the budget without changes after it passed in the Senate last week.

President Donald Trump promptly tweeted his excitement over the big next step on the way toward tax reform, a goal Republicans have been pushing to accomplish for years.

I am still looking for a list of people who voted for and against the budget. I am sure the list will be at Thomas.gov tomorrow.

The article lists some of the comments made by the Representatives:

However, some House Republicans voiced their reservations over the budget, with Rep. John Faso (N.Y.) stating he couldn’t support the bill due to the elimination of the SALT deduction.

“We must provide middle-class tax relief and lower the burdens on job-creating small businesses. I could not, however, vote in support of a budget resolution that singled out for elimination the ability of New York families to deduct state and local taxes,” Faso said.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) called the bill’s passing a “legislative runway for pro-growth tax reform.”

“Our successful vote will allow us to move forward quickly on delivering the first overhaul of America‘s tax code in more than three decades,” Brady added.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said the planned tax cuts “will not a create an economic boom, but will instead lead to a higher concentration of wealth among the rich, while dramatically increasing deficits and debt.”

I would like to make a comment on the elimination of the SALT (state and local taxes) deduction. Why in the world should fiscally responsible states be subsidizing fiscally irresponsible states? That is what the SALT deduction does. As for the Democrats’ constant cry of ‘tax cuts for the rich,’ the rich are the people who pay taxes, why shouldn’t they get a tax cut? As I have reported numerous times, the top 10 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income over $138,031, pay about 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. About 1.7 million Americans, less than 1 percent of our population, pay 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. These numbers come from actual IRS data. If you are cutting taxes, it is logical that those people paying the taxes would be affected.

Let’s just cut everyone’s taxes and cut the size of government in Washington.