So How Did The Federal Debt Do This Year?

President Trump is a businessman. Regardless of whether you like him or not, he is a businessman, and successful businessmen are relatively careful about how they spend money, and how much money they spend. President Trump is no exception.

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted an article about the impact of the Trump Presidency on the debt.

The article reports:

In spite of the fact that President Trump took over with nearly $20 trillion of debt and the related interest payments on the debt, and in spite of the federal reserve (fed) under Janet Yellen increasing interest rates by a full 1 percent since the election, President Donald Trump’s first year debt is $1.1 trillion less than Obama’s.

Here is the picture:

The article at The Gateway Pundit reports:

Right after Barack Obama was elected President, on December 16, 2008, the Federal Reserve (The Fed) lowered the Fed Funds rate by an entire percent, from 1% down to 0% . The Fed had not lowered the Fed Funds rate by such a large amount (1% ) since at least before 1990, if ever. The Fed kept this 0% rate for most of Obama’s eight years in office.

CNBC reported in December 2015 that President Obama oversaw “seven years of the most accommodative monetary policy in U.S. history” (from the Fed). The Fed Funds rate was at zero for most of Obama’s time in office. Finally, in December 2015 after the Fed announced its first increase in the Fed Funds rate during the Obama Presidency.

The only Fed Funds Rate increases since 2015 were after President Trump was elected President. The Fed increased the Fed Funds Rate on December 14, 2016, March 15th, 2017, June 14, 2017 and again on December 13, 2017. Four times the Fed has increased rates on President Trump after doing so only once on President Obama.

If the Federal Reserve was political and wanted to prevent Republican Presidents from successful economic growth and debt decreases, then the Fed would increase the Fed Funds rates during Republican Presidents’ terms while decreasing the Fed Funds rates under Democratic Presidents’ terms.

This appears to be exactly what the Fed is doing.

The article at The Gateway Pundit also notes that without the increases in the interest rate it is possible that President Trump would have a balanced budget to date.

Remember that the Federal Reserve is neither Federal nor a Reserve. It is a stranglehold on our economy held by a small group of extremely wealthy people who control our money supply. For those who are interested in learning exactly how we got the Federal Reserve, I strongly recommend reading The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin. It explains the chicanery that was involved in creating the Federal Reserve and how it was sold to the American people.

When Laws Are Broken And People Suspect That Laws Have Been Broken, Just Deflect Their Attention

It seems as if certain elements of our news media have become experts at avoiding the truth or avoiding the real story. The New York Times posted an article on Saturday stating that the investigation of Donald Trump‘s ties to Russia began with a barroom conversation between George Papadopoulos and an Australian diplomat. Unfortunately, as The Gateway Pundit and Power Line Blog point out, that account doesn’t hold water. So why did The New York Times post the story? It is fairly common knowledge that the Trump campaign team and the Trump transition team were under electronic surveillance by the Obama Administration (probably with information passed on to the press and to the Hillary Clinton campaign). The question is, “Who authorized that surveillance and why?”

Under most circumstances, the surveillance (on American citizens with names unmasked) is illegal, so who authorized it and what was the justification? It is becoming obvious that the justification was the infamous Christopher Steele dossier originally contracted by mainstream Republican leaders, later paid for by the Clinton campaign, and even later, possibly funded with FBI money. Since none of the information in the dossier has been proven true–it was simply campaign opposition research paper–it really does not justify the issuing of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrants to wiretap either the Trump campaign or transition team. That is the conclusion that The New York Times is attempting to avoid reaching. That is the reason the article on George Papadopoulos appeared in the New York Times yesterday.

Some excerpts from The Gateway Pundit:

If the dossier wasn’t used in order to obtain a FISA warrant, then SHOW THE PUBLIC THE FISA APPS!

Papadopoulos was already charged. He wasn’t charged with ‘Russian collusion’. Papadopoulos was charged with making a false statement to the FBI because talking to Russians is not illegal, yet he’s what prompted the Russia investigation?

The article at Power Line Blog includes the following tweet by Kimberley Strassel:

Another article at Power Line Blog concludes:

It’s also important to remember that the question of whether the dossier prompted, or helped lead to, the FBI investigation is separate from the question of what role the dossier played when the Justice Department obtained a warrant from the FISA court to engage in electronic surveillance of members of Trump’s team.

The media is holding up a lot of shiny objects for us to look at. The thing to remember is that there are laws protecting the privacy of Americans. If those laws were broken, people need to be punished. That is the story the media does not want us to hear.

As If The Middle East Could Get More Complicated…

This article this post is based on is from April, but I suspect we may hear more about it in the future. The article appeared at Yahoo News on April 10, 2017.

The article reports:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran‘s exiled crown prince wants a revolution.

Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last shah to rule before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has seen his profile rise in recent months following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, who promises a harder line against the Shiite power.

Pahlavi’s calls for replacing clerical rule with a parliamentary monarchy, enshrining human rights and modernizing its state-run economy could prove palatable to both the West and Iran’s Sunni Gulf neighbors, who remain suspicious of Iran’s intentions amid its involvement in the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

But the Mideast is replete with cautionary tales about Western governments putting their faith in exiles long estranged from their homelands. Whether Pahlavi can galvanize nostalgia for the age of the Peacock Throne remains unseen.

“This regime is simply irreformable because the nature of it, its DNA, is such that it cannot,” Pahlavi told The Associated Press. “People have given up with the idea of reform and they think there has to be fundamental change. Now, how this change can occur is the big question.”

This is another example of the ways that the foreign policy of the Trump Administration has impacted countries in the Middle East. President Obama was willing to do almost anything to form an alliance with Iran–he saw Iran as a country that could unify the Middle East and bring peace to the region. I think that is something of a naive hope, but based on his actions, that was the plan of President Obama. President Trump understands that the only truly free country in the Middle East is Israel, and as President, Trump has aligned himself with Israel. The son of the shah may feel that this is the time to bring Iran into a free society–somewhat like what it was before the 1979 revolution. Stay tuned.

More Lying With Statistics

Recently I heard that despite Republican efforts to end ObamaCare and their successful effort to repeal the individual ObamaCare mandate, the number of people enrolling in ObamaCare was increasing. The Democrats were using that statistic as a talking point, saying that it was proof that the American people supported ObamaCare. Well, not so fast.

On Thursday, The Daily Signal posted a fact check on the idea that more people signed up for ObamaCare for 2018 than previously.

The article reports:

The total number of sign-ups on HealthCare.gov during the 2018 open enrollment period is lower than previous years, although the pace of sign-ups was faster.

About 8.8 million people signed up for 2018 health coverage on HealthCare.gov during this year’s open enrollment period ending Dec. 15, compared to 9.2 million sign-ups for 2017 coverage and 9.6 million for 2016 coverage.

HealthCare.gov provides Affordable Care Act individual health plans in 39 states. The remaining 11 states and the District of Columbia run state health exchanges, and may have later deadlines to sign up than the federal deadline. Total enrollment for Obamacare plans won’t be known until all exchanges are accounted for, but enrollment on state exchanges also lags behind previous years.

The New York Times claimed the 8.8 million number is surprising since President Donald Trump’s administration cut HealthCare.gov’s advertising budget by 90 percent and shortened the enrollment period to around 45 days, half the length as the 2017 enrollment period.

…The bulk of HealthCare.gov sign-ups were consumers renewing coverage, with 2.4 million new consumers for 2018 compared to 3 million new consumers for 2017 and 4 million new consumers for 2016.

Premiums for health plans offered on HealthCare.gov skyrocketed for 2018, due in part to the Trump administration eliminating cost-sharing payments to insurance companies. Premiums for the second-cheapest silver plan increased 37 percent from an average of $300 per month to $411 per month. Low-income Americans will get larger subsidies because of the price increase.

It is amazing to me that the government can force Americans to buy anything. It is also amazing to me that the price of health insurance under ObamaCare has skyrocketed and that tax dollars are being used to shore up the plan–subsidizing low-income Americans. What happens to average-income Americans when their insurance rates skyrocket? Hopefully with the repeal of the individual mandate, ObamaCare will die by the end of the year.

Some Comments On The Iranian Protests

Yesterday Fred Fleitz posted an article at The Center For Security Policy website about the ongoing protests in Iran.

The article reports:

There also is significant and growing opposition to the country’s theocratic system, especially by young people. Incredibly, protesters reportedly have been chanting “We don’t want an Islamic Republic” and “Death to Rouhani.”

It is no accident that the Iranian government announced today that it will no longer arrest women who go outside without wearing head scarves. So far these protests seem much smaller and not as serious as the massive Green Revolution protests that broke out in Iran after the fraudulent 2009 presidential election, which returned Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. However, Amir Taheri, a well-known Iran expert, said in the below tweet that Iranian security reportedly is reluctant to fire on protesters:

When viewing the unrest in Iran, it is wise to consider the population demographics of the country. Because of the extended war with Iraq, a large group of the population is missing. Wikipedia posted a chart of the population demographic:

As you can see from the chart (although it is a few years old, the numbers are basically accurate), the largest percentage of the Iranian population is between the ages of ten and thirty-five. This group of people has no relationship with the Islamic revolution that took place in Iran in 1979–most of them were not even born then. The younger Iranians look with envy at the western world–they do not appreciate the rules of the mullahs. It is only a matter of time before the mullahs die out and the young people take over. I am not sure that democracy is possible in Iran after all they have been through, but there will come a time when a revolt leads to a more free society and hopefully one without nuclear ambitions.

It is telling that Iranian security is reluctant to fire on the protesters. That might be the result of the mullahs not wanting to create martyrs or it might be a reaction to the fact that the mullahs no longer have a friend in the White House. There are some positive aspects of the fact that many countries consider President Trump a loose cannon.

Laws Have Consequences

The tax reform bill is expected to boost America’s economy, but it is becoming that the ending of excessive government regulation is also spurring economic growth.

One America News is reporting today that the changes in fracking laws have not only resulted in lower energy costs for Americans, but have also led to increased interest in building power plants.

The article reports:

The shale boom caused an oil price crash in 2014 as many sought fields to produce natural gas.

Now, despite competition from solar and other alternative energy sources, electricity producers are building near natural gas sources to save on fuel.

These gas-fired power plants are capable of powering more than eight million homes each.

Invenergy and Calpine Corporation are among the companies building the plants, which are scheduled to be opened between 2018 and 2020.

Some critics speculate the shale boom will not last as discoveries of new reserves were the fewest on record in 2017.

Actions have consequences.

So What Did Congress Do This Year?

These are the numbers for Congress in 2017:

The House has been hard at work, and we’re guessing you probably haven’t heard about it. Here’s how:
544 bills have PASSED out of committee → that’s 52 more than Obama’s first term and 132 more than average.
477 bills have PASSED the House → that’s 53 more than Obama’s first term and 86 more than average. #DidYouKnow

As of July 1, 2017, 42 bills had been passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and signed by President Trump according to the  Minneapolis Star Tribune. I could not find any more recent totals.

The Double Standard Illustrated

The New York Post posted an article today with the following headline, “Classifield documents among newly released Huma Abedin emails found on Weiner‘s laptop.”

The article is basically a reporting of the fact that on the Friday night before New Year, the State Department document dump shows that classified emails were found on the laptop that Huma Abedin shared with her husband. I would like to note that putting classified information on a private computer is illegal and can result in jail time. It has for some Americans recently who were not politically connected. I would also like to note that these emails were released on a Friday night between Christmas and the New Year. That is not an accident. The State Department is hoping that no one is paying attention.

The most amazing quote from the article:

Most of the emails were heavily redacted because they contained classified material — but one that was sent on Nov. 25 2010 was addressed to “Anthony Campaign,” an apparent address belonging to Weiner.

The message contained a list of talking points for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was prepping to make a call to Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia to warn him about sensitive documents that had been given to WikiLeaks by then-Army intelligence officer Bradley Manning.

“I deeply regret the likely upcoming WikiLeaks disclosure,” read one of the talking points.

“This appears to be the result of an illegal act in which a fully cleared intelligence officer stole information and gave it to a website. The person responsible will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law” the message continued.

It is ironic to me that Hillary was very concerned with prosecuting someone for mishandling classified information. Seems like the pot is calling the kettle black.

We Seem To Have A Problem With Our Intelligence Community Understanding That It Is Supposed To Work Within The Constraints Of Our Representative Republic

Townhall posted an article today by Sharyl Attkisson about misconduct by the intelligence community of our government.

The article lists ten examples of the intelligence community running amok:

Telecom takeover

Joe Nacchio, CEO of telecom giant Qwest, said that after he refused to spy on his customers for the National Security Agency (NSA) without a warrant in February of 2001, the government retaliated by yanking a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars and filing an insider trading case against him. He went to prison. The government denied charges of retaliation. 

Olympic spying

In 2002, the NSA reportedly engaged in “blanket surveillance” of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, collecting and storing “virtually all electronic communications going into or out of the Salt Lake City area, including … emails and text messages” to “experiment with and fine tune a new scale of mass surveillance.” NSA officials had denied such a program existed.

Spying on Congress

In 2005 intel officials intercepted and recorded phone conversations between then-Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.)  and pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage.

[…]

Journalist “witch hunts”

Internal emails from a “global intelligence company” executive in 2010 stated: “Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources.

[…]

Misleading on mass spying

On March 12, 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress that intel officials were not collecting mass data on tens of millions of Americans.

[…]

More spying on Congress

CIA officials improperly accessed Senate Intelligence Committee computers, according to an Inspector General report in July 2014, contradicting denials by then-CIA Director Brennan.

[…]

NSA privacy violations

In fall 2016, the government confessed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “significant non-compliance” of crucial procedures designed to protect privacy rights of U.S. citizens.

[…]

Intel mutiny?

Government requests to see or “unmask” names of Americans whose communications are “incidentally” captured during national security surveillance are supposed to be rare and justified.

[…]

Politically motivated press leak

In May 2017, former FBI Director James Comey secretly orchestrated a “leak” to The New York Times of negative memos he said he wrote contemporaneously about President Trump, with the motive of spurring the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the president’s alleged Russia ties.

[…]

Conflicted investigators

One purpose of special counsel investigations, such as the Russia investigation being led by former FBI Director Mueller, is to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. But multiple investigators working on Mueller’s team have been removed after being caught in compromising positions.

The swamp has been operating successfully for a number of years. It is time for the leadership in the intelligence community to resign. The intelligence community needs to go back to doing their job of protecting Americans–not spying on people who disagree with their political philosophy.

The article reminds us:

This issue has special meaning to the former CBS reporter, who alleges she was spied on by the Obama administration. She’s documented the reported Obama surveillance timeline on her website as well. Even left leaning journalists, like Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, said the leaks from the intelligence community are a prescription to the destruction of our government. Granted, Greenwald’s publication is set up as a safe space for leakers, and to protect them, as they disseminate information relating to government corruption or wrongdoing. Leaking because Hillary Clinton lost isn’t any of those things. Now, Greenwald fears both the deep state and the Trump White House, but noted the former doesn’t have the institutional constraints to keep their power in check.

 

We May Be Working With The Chinese To Rein In North Korea, But Is China Working With Us?

Yesterday Fox News reported that China has been secretly selling oil to North Korea, despite promising to uphold the United Nations boycott of North Korea.

The article reports:

Satellite images released by the U.S. Department of Treasury appeared to show vessels from both countries illegally trading oil in the West Sea, The Chosun Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing South Korean government sources.

North Korea was barred in September by the United Nations Security Council from importing natural gas and had its crude oil imports capped in response to Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missile program.

China is one of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. If it is not willing to uphold the resolutions of the United Nations, why are they a member. It seems as if the United Nations is on a campaign lately to show how totally irrelevant it has become.

 

A Picture Of The Obvious

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about the media’s coverage of President Trump as compared to previous Presidents.

The graph below is from the article:

Wow.

On November 23,  The National Review posted a list of some of President Trump’s accomplishments as of Thanksgiving:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 all hit record highs on Tuesday. The Wilshire 5000 Index calculates that some $3.4 trillion in new wealth has been created since President Trump’s inauguration and $5.4 trillion since his election. Fueled by the reality of deregulation, expectations of lower taxes, and a new tone in Washington that applauds free enterprise rather than excoriate it, the economy is on fire. 

Atop the second quarter’s 3.1 percent increase in real GDP, and 3.0 in 3Q, the New York Federal Reserve Bank predicts that 4Q output will expand by 3.8 percent. This far outpaces the feeble average-annual GDP growth rate of 1.5 percent on President Obama’s watch. Meanwhile, the IMF expects global GDP to rise by 3.5 percent this year. So much for a Trump-inspired “global recession.”

Unemployment is at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. New unemployment claims in September were at their most modest since 1974. Goldman Sachs on November 20 “lowered our unemployment rate forecast to 3.7 percent by end-2018 and 3.5 percent by end-2019.” According to the Wall Street powerhouse’s chief economist Jan Hatzius, “Such a scenario would take the U.S. labor market into territory almost never seen outside of a major wartime mobilization.”

American companies have been expanding operations here rather than shipping jobs overseas. Corning, for instance, announced a $500 million investment in new U.S. production, launching 1,000 positions. 

Foreign firms have been unveiling facilities and creating jobs in America. Insourcing is now a thing. Taiwan’s Foxconn will spend $10 billion on a new Wisconsin electronics plant with 3,000 new employees. During Trump’s recent visit to China, Beijing agreed to invest $84 billion in new energy projects in West Virginia.

Add to that the future impact of the tax cuts and the repeal of the ObamaCare mandate, and most Americans will be better off next year than they have been for a number of years. To paraphrase a recent campaign slogan, “Are you better off now than you were before President Trump took office?” Hopefully enough people will answer that question honestly before they vote in the mid-term elections.

At some point Americans who depend on the mainstream media for their news are going to look at the contrast between what they are being told and what they actually see. That may be the end of the mainstream media.

Some Absurdity To End The Day

The American Thinker posted an article today about CNN’s claim that Thomas the Train and Paw Patrol are ‘fascist cartoons.’ I will admit that I know nothing about Paw Patrol, but I spent many happy hours with my grandchildren watching Thomas the Train.

The article relates some of the history of Thomas the Train:

Reverend Wilbert Audrey, creator of Thomas the Train, has recounted how, when his 3-year-old son was ill with the measles, he told him stories about trains. Audrey says that in his own childhood he had to read boring books about perfect children so that he would learn from their moral example. He decided to write interesting books about engines with human characteristics in a fictional island he called Sodor. The trains would push the envelope until they got in trouble, be punished, and after making amends would be “bought back into the family so to speak.” Morality in the world of Thomas was making oneself useful to society, being a good friend, and keeping the railroad functioning smoothly. The human aspect of his trains is part of their appeal to children and the moral aspect of his stories was part of their appeal to the adults who read the stories to their children.

So what is the basis of the objections?

The leftists are particularly offended by the stories of Henry in the Tunnel and Toad Stands By. Henry the Train decides that rather than contribute to society he’d prefer to stay in a tunnel. Despite the best efforts of Sir Topham Hat to get Henry out of the tunnel Henry refuses to budge and Sir Topham Hat teaches him a lesson by locking him into the tunnel with a brick wall. The New Yorker quotes a commenter as saying “What moral lesson are kids supposed to learn from this? Do as you’re told or you will be entombed forever in the darkness to die?” In the next episode Henry, miserable in the tunnel, becomes willing to help again and is released. The New Yorker critic doesn’t mention that. In Toad Stands By bullying trains, otherwise known as the troublesome trucks, are taught a lesson by Oscar the locomotive, whom they had picked on. Oscar pulls the bullying trains behind him when they decide to cause trouble and not move. Oscar fights back by pulling very hard and the leader of the bullies, Scruffey, who is behind him bursts in half. The New Yorker quotes a commenter as writing: “I guess the lesson is that if someone is bullying you, kill them?” In the next story Scruffey is repaired and the troublesome trucks learn never to cause trouble for Oscar again. You are not told that by the author of The New Yorker article.

It seems as if the political left has declared war on the basic values that form the foundation of western civilization. I guess the concept of repentance and improved behavior is a concept they have somehow overlooked.

 

Preparing For The New Tax Bill

Newsmax posted an article today explaining how some taxpayers in high tax states can prepare for the changes in their deductions that will occur in the coming year.

The article explains:

Homeowners will be allowed to pre-pay their 2018 state and local real estate property taxes before the end of the year and deduct them on their 2017 returns only under limited circumstances, the Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday.

The announcement comes after many homeowners in states with the highest property taxes rushed to prepay their 2018 property taxes in hopes of saving on their federal taxes since the deduction will be scaled back in the tax law passed by Republicans last week.

The IRS in its statement said taxpayers can claim an additional property tax deduction on their 2017 returns if taxes are assessed and paid for before the end of the year. Some states and localities allow people to prepay their state and local taxes, including property taxes, but other states and localities that don’t will have to interpret exactly what that means for their residents.

Under the recently passed tax bill, residents in states with high taxes will be limited to $10,000 in state tax deductions. When you consider that some residents of New York, New Jersey, California and certain other states may pay as much as $30,000 in property taxes, that will be a significant change. What this change means to the people in states with reasonable taxes is that the residents of those states will no longer be subsidizing the people who live in high tax states. That is actually a more equitable system–even if the people in the high tax states don’t appreciate the change!

Where Are People Going?

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article citing the statistics of where Americans are relocating. The article leaves me wondering if liberalism is so wonderful, why are Americans leaving the most liberal states:

The article reports:

Three Democratic-leaning states hemorrhaged hundreds of thousands of people in 2016 and 2017 as crime, high taxes and, in some cases, crummy weather had residents seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

The exodus of residents was most pronounced in New York, which saw about 190,000 people leave the state between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released last week.

…Despite the massive domestic out-migration flow, New York’s net population grew slightly, largely due to high levels of international immigration and a so-called “natural increase” — the difference between births and deaths in a given year. New York’s net migration was about minus 60,000 residents, but the state had 73,000 more births than deaths, resulting in a net population growth of about 13,000.

 Illinois was not so fortunate. Long-beset by twin budget and pension crises and the erosion of its tax base, Illinois lost so many residents that it dropped from the fifth to the sixth-most populous state in 2017, losing its previous spot to Pennsylvania.

Just under 115,000 Illinois residents decamped for other states between July 2016 and July 2017. Since 2010, the Land of Lincoln has lost about 650,000 residents to other states on net, equal to the combined population of the state’s four largest cities other than Chicago, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

California was the third deep blue state to experience significant domestic out-migration between July 2016 and July 2017, and it couldn’t blame the outflow on retirees searching for a more agreeable climate. About 138,000 residents left the state during that time period, second only to New York.

However, because California was the top receiving state for international migrants, its net migration was actually 27,000. Add to that number a “natural increase” of 214,000 people, and California’s population grew by about just over 240,000, according to the Census Bureau.

The increased migration from other countries into California is a partial explanation of the fact that in recent decades California has gone from a reliably red state to a totally blue state.

All three of these states have high state taxes. Those taxes will no longer be fully deductible under the new tax laws. It will be interesting to see how the new tax laws impact future migration from these states.

This Is What Victory Looks Like

ISIS no longer controls Mosul. So what does that mean? On Christmas Eve, the Voice of America posted an article illustrating one thing that has changed since Mosul was captured by Iraqi forces.

The article reports:

For the first time in the more than three years since Islamic State militants took over vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, Iraqi Christians have gone to church to celebrate Christmas in Mosul — a former militant stronghold. Worshipers and Muslim activists say they are hoping the holidays may bring some healing.

During the time Islamic State militants ruled Mosul, this church was a prison.

Today, worshipers celebrate Christmas here for the first time since Islamic State militants took over the city in 2014, forcing the entire Christian population — about 200,000 people — to flee.

The article concludes:

Worshipers at this church say they hope to go home if or when they are more confident Mosul is safe, but so far, less than a dozen Christian families have returned.

Both Christians and Muslims attended the service today hoping that once again Mosul will start to re-grow its diversity.

Diversity in Muslim countries is rare. Israel is the only nation in the Middle East where Christians, Jews, and Muslims can all worship freely. Many Middle Eastern countries will not allow someone to enter their country if the person has traveled to Israel. Unfortunately Iraq is now a satellite country of Iran, so we will see how long this freedom lasts.

This Might Be The Reason Government Investigations Take So Long

It’s hard to get the job done when the person you are investigating won’t talk to you! The following video posted at YouTube is of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick testifying before the House Oversight Committee on July 7th, 2016, in which he revealed Hillary Clinton refused an interview request related to her email investigation.

This is part of the testimony as posted at The Gateway Pundit today:

Chaffetz: Were you able to interview Hillary Clinton?

Linick: we were not.

Chaffetz: Why not?

Linick: Well, we asked to interview secretary Clinton. We interviewed all of the secretaries. We looked at five Secretaries of State going back to Madeleine Albright and her, through counsel, she declined to meet with us.

Chaffetz: Did she indicate a reason why she would refuse to meet with the inspector general?

Linick: Her counsel informed our staff that she had — that all of the information about the e-mail was on the FAQ she published by her campaign.

The article at The Gateway Pundit further reports:

Howard Krongard, the State Department Inspector General from April 2005 to January 2008, told Fox News last May that Clinton did not follow standard practices in respect to private email usage.

“Certainly to my knowledge at least, Secretary Rice did not have a personal server. I certainly never either sent an email to one or received an email from one,” Krongard told Fox News

“I would have been stunned had I been asked to send an email to her at a personal server, private address. I would have declined to do so on security grounds and if she had sent one to me, I probably would have started an investigation,” added Krongard.

From what I have seen, I suspect that the emails are the least of Hillary Clinton’s worries about the Inspector General’s report. It is very obvious that laws were broken in Ms. Clinton‘s handling of classified information. It is also very obvious that an ordinary citizen would be in jail for similar crimes. I don’t necessarily wish Ms. Clinton jail time, but it would be nice to see her admit that she broke the law. If her email account was used to funnel money to the Clinton Foundation in return for political favors, she should be heavily fined and forced to return the money.

The Inspector General’s report is due out in January. It should be very interesting.

Does He Really Believe This?

Pardon my skepticism, but One America News reported yesterday that Senator Mitch McConnell is optimistic that Democrats and Republicans can work together to pass legislation in 2018. Really??!!  One of the things that President Trump has put on the agenda is infrastructure spending. That might be the easiest thing to find bipartisan support on, but based on some of the statements being made by Democrats lately, I can’t imagine them cooperating with Republicans on anything. The tax bill recently passed provided more spending money for the average working man–the person the Democrats have always claimed they represent. Yet no Democrats crossed the aisle to vote to save money for the people they claim to represent.

The article reports:

“There’s not much you can do on a partisan basis in the Senate at 52-48 or at 51- 49 which will be the number for us next year,” said McConnell. “I don’t think most of our Democratic colleagues want to do nothing. And there are areas I think where we can get bipartisan agreement.”

McConnell went on to say two areas of potential bipartisan agreement could be a rollback of some of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, and a permanent solution for young illegal immigrants, which could come to a floor vote in mid-January.

I can’t imagine the Democrats working to rollback any of Dodd-Frank. Elizabeth Warren wants to run for President, and she will use any legislation to limit Dodd-Frank to increase her visibility. Whether or not that will help her cause remains to be seen. I also suspect any agreement on DACA will be elusive–the Democrats look at the DACA kids (who are no longer kids) as their future voting base.

It soon will be 2018–an election year. Historically, very little meaningful legislation gets passed during an election year. It will also be interesting to see how many days Congress actually works before they shut down and leave for campaigning.

Some Of This Actually Makes Sense

On December 12, a website called Energy in Depth posted an article about some of the negative claims made about shale drilling in Pennsylvania. At this point, it might be a good idea to note that much of the negative information published about fracking has been funded by Saudi Arabia. Might it be that American energy independence is a threat to the middle east monopoly of energy?

At any rate, the article reports:

  • There was no identifiable impact on death rates in the six counties attributable to the introduction of unconventional oil and gas development. In fact, the top Marcellus counties experienced declines in mortality rates in most of the indices.”
  • “The proportion of elderly-to-total population increased significantly in the top Marcellus counties compared to the state. Based on this fact, death rates in these six counties would be expected to increase, but this expected increase did not occur.
  • Unconventional gas development was not associated with an increase in infant mortality in the top Marcellus counties, as the mortality rate significantly declined (improved), even surpassing the improvement of the state.”
  • “Unconventional gas development was not associated with an increase in deaths related to chronic lower respiratory disease (including asthma) in the top Marcellus counties, as the overall chronic lower respiratory disease mortality rate declined (improved) or was variable for the six-county area. The only exception was Greene County where the increased mortality rate was consistent with the increase in the elderly population.”
  • “During the period that unconventional gas development was introduced to these counties, the trends reflected a positive economic change in the area. Therefore, any increases in the death rates in the top Marcellus counties cannot be associated with negative changes to the economic viability of the population.”
  • “Unconventional gas development was not associated with an increase in deaths related to cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, influenza or pneumonia, nephritis or nephrotic syndrome, or septicemia in the top Marcellus counties, as the mortality rates significantly declined (improved).”

The article reminds us that the money brought into the community through the development of natural resources actually increased the longevity of the citizens as the average household income and employment in these counties improved. In a nutshell, people with more disposable income often eat better and get better healthcare. That may not be fair, but that is the way the world works.

The article concludes:

The new report adds to the growing body of research that shale development is protective of public health, and has led to reductions in local air pollution.

The full report is available here. Mickley (Study author Sue Mickley) also recently discussed the report on Shale Gas News. Click here to listen to the interview.

 

The Message Hidden Inside The Message

I have been a fan of Peanuts cartoons ever since I was old enough to read them. I have visited the Charles M. Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. I have eaten at the Warm Puppy Cafe and watched the skaters skate. I have Tivo‘d the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I watched it this morning. Then I read something that made me realize I had missed a major truth in the cartoon.

Yesterday The Federalist Papers posted an article about the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I love the special–it deals with the feeling some of us get when we are up to our necks in shopping and responsibilities and we are in danger of losing the meaning of Christmas. Obviously, the most important scene in the cartoon is the scene where Linus schools Charlie Brown in the true meaning of Christmas, but there is a hidden message in that scene which I had missed.

Here is the scene as posted on YouTube:

Notice that as Linus begins quoting the Biblical story of Christmas he is still holding on to his security blanket. That is not unusual, Linus is rarely seen not holding on to his security blanket. However, notice that just as Linus quotes the angel saying, “Fear not,” he drops his blanket. The message here is that Linus understands that his security is not in that blanket–it has a bigger source. Previously I had not noticed that.

Merry Christmas to everyone, and may you follow the example of Linus and ‘fear not.’

What Did He Actually Do?

On Thursday, The Washington Examiner posted a list of accomplishments of President Trump. The list is divided into categories. Please follow the link to the article to read the entire list, but I will list a few highlights.

Under the category of jobs and the economy:

  • Passage of the tax reform bill providing $5.5 billion in cuts and repealing the Obamacare mandate.
  • Increase of the GDP above 3 percent.
  • Creation of 1.7 million new jobs, cutting unemployment to 4.1 percent.
  • Saw the Dow Jones reach record highs.
  • A rebound in economic confidence to a 17-year high.
  • A new executive order to boost apprenticeships.
  • A move to boost computer sciences in Education Department programs.
  • Prioritizing women-owned businesses for some $500 million in SBA loans.

Under Killing job-stifling regulations:

  • Made good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Opened up the North American Free Trade Agreement for talks to better the deal for the U.S.
  • Worked to bring companies back to the U.S., and companies like Toyota, Mazda, Broadcom Limited, and Foxconn announced plans to open U.S. plants.
  • Worked to promote the sale of U.S products abroad.
  • Made enforcement of U.S. trade laws, especially those that involve national security, a priority.
  • Ended Obama’s deal with Cuba.

Under Boosting U.S. energy dominance:

  • The Department of Interior, which has led the way in cutting regulations, opened plans to lease 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling.
  • Trump traveled the world to promote the sale and use of U.S. energy.
  • Expanded energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline snubbed by Obama.
  • Ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
  • EPA is reconsidering Obama rules on methane emissions.

Much of this has gone unreported. Please follow the link to the article to see the entire list.

The Insurance Policy

Andrew McCarthy posted an article at The National Review today titled, “Was the Steele Dossier the FBI’s ‘Insurance Policy’?” It is a rather lengthy article, and I strongly suggest that you follow the link and read the entire article. However, there are two sections of the article that I think tell the whole story.

The article states:

The Obama-era FBI and Justice Department had great faith in Steele because he had previously collaborated with the bureau on a big case. Plus, Steele was working on the Trump-Russia project with the wife of a top Obama Justice Department official, who was personally briefed by Steele. The upper ranks of the FBI and DOJ strongly preferred Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, to the point of overlooking significant evidence of her felony misconduct, even as they turned up the heat on Trump. In sum, the FBI and DOJ were predisposed to believe the allegations in Steele’s dossier. Because of their confidence in Steele, because they were predisposed to believe his scandalous claims about Donald Trump, they made grossly inadequate efforts to verify his claims. Contrary to what I hoped would be the case, I’ve come to believe Steele’s claims were used to obtain FISA surveillance authority for an investigation of Trump.

There were layers of insulation between the Clinton campaign and Steele — the campaign and the Democratic party retained a law firm, which contracted with Fusion GPS, which in turn hired the former spy. At some point, though, perhaps early on, the FBI and DOJ learned that the dossier was actually a partisan opposition-research product. By then, they were dug in. No one, after all, would be any the wiser: Hillary would coast to victory, so Democrats would continue running the government; FISA materials are highly classified, so they’d be kept under wraps. Just as it had been with the Obama-era’s Fast and Furious and IRS scandals, any malfeasance would remain hidden.

The best laid schemes . . . gang aft agley.

I honestly don’t know if President Trump is going to be able to drain the swamp, but the above statement makes it obvious that had Hillary Clinton become President, the swamp would only have gotten bigger.

The article concludes:

In conclusion, while there is a dearth of evidence to date that the Trump campaign colluded in Russia’s cyberespionage attack on the 2016 election, there is abundant evidence that the Obama administration colluded with the Clinton campaign to use the Steele dossier as a vehicle for court-authorized monitoring of the Trump campaign — and to fuel a pre-election media narrative that U.S. intelligence agencies believed Trump was scheming with Russia to lift sanctions if he were elected president. Congress should continue pressing for answers, and President Trump should order the Justice Department and FBI to cooperate rather than — what’s the word? — resist.

Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves.

 

 

Remembering Who Our Friends Are

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article about a recent foreign policy decision by President Trump.

The article reports:

On Wednesday, Josh Rogin of the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration has for the first time approved the commercial sale of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine, a sale valued at $41.5 million. The Obama administration had refused to issue export licenses for lethal weapons.

Initial reports, including the Post’s, were that the sales to Ukraine would not encompass heavier weaponry such as Javelin anti-tank missiles. However, today the Post reports that Javelins will also be sold to Ukraine.

The article continues:

Russia denounced Trump’s decision on sales to Ukraine. Its Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the decision will only make the conflict more deadly and that Russia might be forced to respond. He also said the U.S. can no longer cast itself as a mediator, and is now “an accomplice in fueling the war.” Putin himself has warned that U.S. assistance would escalate the conflict.

In reality, Russia is behind the war. Moreover, mediation has been futile because, as Jenna Lifhits of the Weekly Standard points out, Russia has failed to implement the 2015 Minsk ceasefire agreement. It requires Russian-backed separatists to withdraw heavy weapons from the conflict’s front line and create a buffer zone.

The sale of weapons to Ukraine is a response to the failure of the 2015 cease-fire and to the fact that, according the Trump administration’s envoy for the Ukraine crisis, 2017 was the most violent year in the four year history of this conflict.

The sniper systems Trump approved for sale are needed to address a specific vulnerability of Ukrainian forces fighting Russian-backed separatists.

This is a really smart move on the part of the Trump administration.

As I reminded everyone in May 2015:

A deal was signed on February 5, 1994, by Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, John Major and Leonid Kuchma—the then-leaders of the United States, Russia, United Kingdom and Ukraine—guaranteeing the security of Ukraine in exchange for the return of its ICBMs to Moscow’s control. The last SS-24 missiles moved from Ukrainian territory in June 1996, leaving Kiev defenseless against its nuclear-armed neighbor.

That deal, known as the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, was not a formal treaty but a diplomatic memorandum of understanding. Still, the terms couldn’t be clearer: Russia, the U.S. and U.K. agreed “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine…reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine.”

That agreement was broken by Russia and ignored by Britain and by the Obama administration. It is nice to see President Trump honoring it at least in part by supplying weapons to Ukraine.

The article at Power Line concludes:

The weapon sales can also plausibly be viewed as a means of gaining leverage if Russia wants seriously to negotiate a settlement in Ukraine. Putin has proposed that peacekeepers be deployed but, not surprisingly, there are major disagreements about how and where the peacekeepers would operate. The U.S. and Ukraine want peacekeepers deployed throughout the separatist-controlled regions stretching to the Ukraine-Russia border. Russia, not so much.

In any event, it’s clear that President Trump has moved boldly to advance Ukraine’s interests at the expense of Russia’s, to the displeasure of Putin. I don’t see how this move can be squared with the extreme anti-Trump rhetoric of the foolish Clapper and others who peddle a similarly hysterical line.

Whatever Happened to National Sovereignty?

The United Nations proceeded this week to tell America that it could not move its embassy to Jerusalem, therefore telling Israel that Israel did not have the right to determine which city was its capital. Wow.

Below is the YouTube video of Nikki Haley’s response to the United Nations:

The lady is correct–we are a sovereign nation. We have the right to put our embassy where we desire in Israel. Can you imagine the United Nations telling America that our capital is now New York City because they said so?