Posted by a friend on Facebook:
Yahoo Finance is reporting today that America has posted its first full month as a net exporter of crude and petroleum products since government records began in 1949.
The article reports:
The nation exported 89,000 barrels a day more than it imported in September, according to data from the Energy Information Administration Friday. While the U.S. has previously reported net exports on a weekly basis, today’s figures mark a key milestone that few would have predicted just a decade ago, before the onset of the shale boom.
President Donald Trump has touted American energy independence, saying that the nation is moving away from relying on foreign oil. While the net exports show decreasing reliance on imports, the U.S. still continues to buy heavy crude oil from other nations to meet the needs of its refineries. It also buys refined products when they are available for a lower cost from foreign suppliers.
“The U.S. return to being a net exporter serves to remind how the oil industry can deliver surprises — in this case, the shale oil revolution – that upend global oil prices, production, and trade flows,” said Bob McNally, a former energy adviser to President George W. Bush and president of the consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group.
Soaring output from shale deposits led by the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico has been in main driver of the transition — but America’s status as a net exporter may be fragile. Many Texas wildcatters are predicting a rapid decline in production growth next year, while some Democratic contenders for the White House have called for a ban on fracking — the controversial drilling technique that unleashed the boom.
The article concludes:
Analysts at Rystad Energy said this week the U.S. is only months away from achieving energy independence, citing surging oil and gas output as well as the growth of renewables.
“Going forward, the United States will be energy independent on a monthly basis, and by 2030 total primary energy production will outpace primary energy demand by about 30%,” said Sindre Knutsson, vice president of Rystad Energy’s gas markets team.
So what does energy independence mean? It means that our foreign policy is no longer determined by our energy needs, but by forming alliances with countries with similar goals. It means that a change in the world production of oil will not result in the gas lines we saw in America in the 1970’s. It means that if Russia plays politics with the energy it supplies to Europe, we have the ability to step in and fill the need–ending the constant threat that Russia will cut off Europe’s fuel supply in the dead of winter. It means that in case of war, our ships and airplanes will have the fuel they need to fight.
Energy independence is a big deal. It is a goal that was seemingly unachievable until President Trump made it a priority. Thank you, Mr. President.
One America News posted an article today about the changing habits of shoppers in America.
The article reports:
U.S. shoppers made more purchases online on Black Friday than in the mall – hurting traffic and sales at brick-and-mortar stores, according to data that offered a glimpse into what is still one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
For the first time in several years, however, store traffic on Thanksgiving evening grew – indicating a shift in when consumers are leaving their homes to shop. It is also a sign of how Thursday evening store openings have continued to hurt what has traditionally been a day that kicked off the U.S. holiday season.
The importance on the shopping calendar of Black Friday, or the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, has waned in recent years. This is due to the choice by many retailers to open their stores on Thursday evening, as well as to early holiday promotions and year-round discounts. However, it is increasingly turning into a day when shoppers do not necessarily flock to stores but spend heavily online.
Also, for most retail chains, Black Friday store traffic and sales data is not necessarily grim as consumers continue to spend, consultants said. Winning the transaction, whether online or in-store, has now become more important for retailers than where it occurs.
Most major stores have followed the example of Amazon, making things available online (with options of in-store pick up). Shoppers can now find an item online, place an order, have it delivered, or go to their local store to pick it up immediately or within a day or two.
The article concludes:
Shopper traffic on Thanksgiving evening increased by 2.3%year-over-year but was dragged down by Black Friday, which fell 6.2% from a year ago.
Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for ShopperTrak, said the traditional pattern of shoppers visiting stores has been disrupted not only by online shopping but by offerings like “buy online and pick up in store,” a growing category, which is not included in store traffic count on Black Friday.
“What all of this really boils down to is the customer journey has changed, now it can start anywhere online, in-store and end anywhere … and it is about making sure the customer makes the purchase and stays loyal to the brands more than where it happens,” he said.
Preliminary data from analytics firm RetailNext showed net sales at brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday fell 1.6%, which the firm said is slower than in previous years. No data was yet available for actual spending in stores.
The National Retail Federation had forecast U.S. holiday retail sales over the two months in 2019 will increase between 3.8% and 4.2% from a year ago, for a total of $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion. That compares with an average annual increase of 3.7% over the past five years.
Consumer spending is a major part of the health of the American economy. The increase in holiday retail sales is part of what keeps our economy growing and thriving.
Hot Air posted an article today about the ongoing court battle regarding the Congressional subpoena of former White House Counsel Don McGahn. Counsel McGahn was summoned by the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the time he worked for President Trump.
The article reports:
Whether or not he would appear was a bone of contention for a while until a federal judge issued a dramatic proclamation on Monday, stating that “Presidents are not kings” and ordering McGahn to appear.
Well, that lasted for all of three days. By Wednesday evening, that same judge had backed down, allowing a request from the Justice Department to delay the implementation of the ruling until the appeals process has played out. Of course, this doesn’t mean McGahn (and the President) are totally off the hook, but they’ve at least bought a bit of breathing room. (Daily Mail)
The article concludes:
That doesn’t mean that the final decision on McGahn won’t cast a long shadow, however. How this plays out will have consequences for the ongoing impeachment circus. At issue here is the question of whether or not aides to the President are shielded from revealing details of private conversations they’ve had with the boss or the counsel they offered. Also, whether or not that shielding lasts indefinitely even after they’ve left their positions with the White House.
That sort of privacy has long been assumed to be part of the President’s executive privilege. But does that extend to investigations of potential criminal conduct? That’s the question that will be answered when the dust settles on McGahn’s subpoena. If he’s ordered to show up and testify, that could open the gate for numerous other Trump aides to be called in to talk about all of the Ukraine events. And that’s likely not something President Trump will want to see after we’re in the thick of the final push to next year’s election.
I guess my question is whether or not the President has the same civil rights as ordinary citizens, If you are an ordinary citizen, your conversations with your lawyer are protected by law. We saw this Constitutional principle violated when Michael Cohen’s offices were raided. Now the question is whether or not we are going to continue to violate President Trump’s Constitutional rights. All of us need to remember–if the President does not have Constitutional rights, then none of us have Constitutional rights.
It is hard to remove a sitting President when the economy is good. That rule applies to attempts to impeach the President, and the rule also applies to elections. One impact of a strong economy is that people who are making good money and feel relatively secure in their jobs are less likely to engage in class warfare. Class warfare is one of the Democrat’s most frequently used weapons.
Yesterday One America News posted an article about the current state of the American economy.
The article reports:
The latest macroeconomic data is suggesting the chances of a U.S. recession have reduced in recent weeks due to steady consumer spending. According to a recent poll by Morning Consult, consumer confidence has rebounded over the past four weeks due to ongoing job creation, gains in wages and a soft price inflation.
Even without a resolution of the trade negotiations with China, consumers are feeling confident.
The article concludes:
Retail sales have also increased going into the holiday shopping season, beating previous expectations. Consumer spending makes up for roughly 70 percent of America’s GDP growth. Many experts have tied the ongoing stable expansion to President Trump’s economic policies.
“I think on the whole, this economy has been remarkable. It’s taken the headwinds of the trade wars pretty successfully…and we’re still chugging along at roughly two percent. I think that’s an accomplishment.” – Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum
A separate report from S&P Global found the probability of a U.S. recession in the coming year has dropped from 35 to 30 percent since August of this year.
I personally would like to see the probability of a U.S. recession at 0 percent, but I don’t know if I would trust the media to report that number even if it occurred.
The Washington Times posted an article yesterday about an aspect of the Trump presidency that I think has been largely ignored.
The article notes:
Ronald Reagan made nearly 250 recess appointments during his time in office. Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush made dozens each. George W. Bush made 171, and Barack Obama notched 32.
President Trump, meanwhile, stands at a big zero.
No other president has gone this deep into an administration without making a recess appointment. In fact, he is poised to become the first president never to get one — save William Henry Harrison, who died just one month into office.
The article also reports:
The Constitution places the recess power in Article II, which lays out the role of the executive branch, assigning the president “power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.”
That was the key trade-off: The president could fill vacancies, but the appointees’ terms were limited unless the Senate voted to approve them.
In the early years of the republic, when Congress was frequently out of session for a majority of each year, it was standard for a president to begin his tenure with a slew of recess appointments for posts that opened during the transition.
In recent years, the political rancor between the parties has changed that and recess appointments are not always confirmed–John Bolton is one example of this and I am sure there are others. President Trump thinks like a businessman. The article notes that he has used the Federal Vacancies Reform Act to make ‘acting’ appointments that allow him to remove people or move them when he sees fit.
The article concludes:
Analysts debate whether the recess appointment has become a constitutional anachronism. But some are wondering whether Mr. Trump might try to use that power heading into the last year of his term.
Even if Congress never goes into a full recess anymore, it still divides each year into a separate session — and on Jan. 3, both chambers will gavel out the first session of the 116th Congress and gavel in the second session.
The Supreme Court was silent on that type of recess in its Noel Canning ruling.
There is precedent for using the intersession period to make recess appointments. Roosevelt used the tactic in his 1903 power play.
One of the biggest mistakes America ever made was to air condition Congress so that they could stay in session during the summer.
It is not really in the interest of anyone (other than Iran) for Iran to successfully build an atomic bomb. Iran is a major supporter of terrorism around the world, and no person on earth will be safe if Iran successfully builds a nuclear weapon capable of reaching Europe or North America. The Iran nuclear deal did not stop Iran’s nuclear program–it simply postponed it until President Obama was out of office.
John Hinderaker at Power Line Blog posted an article today about the impact of President Trump’s Iran policy on the economy of Iran.
The article reports:
Iran has been roiled by demonstrations against the dramatic increase in the price of gasoline that was dictated by the government earlier this month. The demonstrations have been brutally suppressed, with somewhere between 100 and several hundred protesters killed by police. For several days, the mullahs pulled the plug on internet service to prevent videos of the protests and police brutality to be seen by the outside world.
So why is Iran in turmoil?
The article explains:
In other words, the Trump administration’s sanctions are working. Iran’s government, short of cash, was forced to dramatically raise the price of fuel, even though it knew what the reaction would be. And the resulting explosion–the analogy to the Yellow Vest protests in France is obvious–has shaken the regime.
Trump’s policy of using sanctions to starve the mullahs of cash contrasts favorably with Barack Obama’s inexplicable policy of sending $100 billion dollars to the regime in exchange for empty promises.
President Trump’s policy toward Iran is working.
The Conservative Treehouse posted an article today about the revision of the third quarter economic growth numbers.
The article reports:
More signs the U.S. economy is very strong show up today as several key economic indicators defy prior economist predictions. Staring with a significant upward revision by the Bureau of Economic Analysis for the third quarter GDP growth from 1.9% to 2.1%:
The revision to GDP reflected upward revisions to inventory investment, business investment, and consumer spending.
The increase in consumer spending reflected increases in both goods (notably recreational goods and vehicles as well as food and beverages) and in services (led by housing and utilities as well as food services). (link)
Additionally, the commerce department released data showing U.S. core capital goods orders increased 1.2% in November, the largest gain since January; and more data on home sales shows a whopping 31.6% increase year-over-year.
U.S. consumers and home buyers are benefiting from low inflation and significant blue collar wage gains that are an outcome of a growing economy and a very strong jobs market. The most significant wage growth is in non-supervisory positions. The economic strength is broad-based and the U.S. middle-class is confident.
We live in a commerce based society. When Americans feel confident about their financial futures and buy things, the economy grows. When Americans stop buying things, the economy shrinks. The economy is cyclical and interdependent. When people are insecure about their financial futures, they take fewer vacations, they go out to dinner less frequently, they go to the movies less frequently, etc. Then the jobs in those economic sectors begin to go away–fewer employees are needed. We saw that in the recession of 1990, which was essentially caused by a tax on luxury goods that Congress told us would affect only the people buying those luxury goods. Well, when people stopped buying luxury goods because they didn’t want to pay the taxes on them, the people making those goods lost their jobs. When those people lost their jobs, they traveled less, ate out less, shopped less, etc. Then the people in those industries were laid off because they were not needed. The pattern here is obvious.
When people feel secure about their future, the economy grows. Recent rumors of recession were not taken seriously because Americans were getting raises and could see that more of their neighbors were working. The economy right now is on a good path. It will take some serious effort to mess it up.
The Gateway Pundit posted an article today about some comments made by our supposedly neutral federal employees.
The article reports:
The WaPo reported this weekend and it was quickly uncovered that former Mueller gang members Kevin Clinesmith was involved in altering documents used to obtain a FISA warrant to legitimize spying on candidate and President Trump. The WaPo claims that this will be coming out in the upcoming IG report in December.
We know Clinesmith was mentioned in the IG’s Clinton email report. Attorney 2 from that report was identified by House member Mark Meadows as Kevin Clinesmith. Meadows revealed his identity over the objection of the FBI during a hearing on the IG’s findings. The FBI wanted to keep Clinesmith’s name anonymous claiming he was a counterintelligence specialist –
Horowitz testified that the FBI was withholding the names of the other rogue agents from Congress and the public because “they work on counterintelligence” and can’t be exposed.
But Meadows argued that other agents for the FBI’s office of legal counsel, and are no longer in “counterintelligence,” as the FBI claimed.
“They don’t work in counterintelligence,” Meadows said in an exchange with Horowitz. “If that’s the reason the FBI is giving, they’re giving you false information, because they work for the general counsel.”
Clinesmith was caught texting anti-Trump emails while working on the Hillary and Trump investigations –
Clinesmith sent a number of pro-Clinton, anti-Trump political messages over the FBI’s computer system, which the report said “raised concerns about potential bias” that may have impacted the investigation.
On page 445 of the DOJ’s IG report on Hillary Clinton’s emails, there is a discussion of what Attorney 2 (Clinesmith) from the FBI texted on October 28, 2016 –
Among the general discussion of political issues by FBI Attorney 2, we identified three instant message exchanges that raised concerns of potential bias. The first of these exchanges was on October 28, 2016, shortly after Comey’s October 28 letter to Congress that effectively announced the reopening of the Midyear investigation. FBI Attorney 2 sent similar messages to four different FBI employees. The timestamps of these messages are included below. The messages stated:
13:44:42, to FBI Employee 1: “I mean, I never really liked the Republic anyway.”
13:44:52, to FBI Employee 2: “I mean, I never really liked the Republic anyway.”
14:01:52, to FBI Employee 3: “As I have initiated the destruction of the republic…. Would you be so kind as to have a coffee with me this afternoon?”
15:28:50, to FBI Employee 4: “I’m clinging to small pockets of happiness in the dark time of the Republic’s destruction”
Notice that the IG’s report notes that this is the same time Comey initiated the second review of Hillary’s emails after finding them on pervert Anthony Weiner’s laptop. But what the IG does not say (perhaps because they did not know it at the time) is that this was right after the initial FISA application to spy on Carter Page and then candidate Trump was initiated!
I suspect we will see more of this when the IG report is released in the next few weeks. It is sad that a government employee thinks he is doing the right thing by bringing down the republic.
There is no general source cited for this article. It is simply some observations I have made in the past few days. Has anyone else noticed that the current talking point of those who want to impeach the President is that he asked for a foreign country to investigate a political rival? There is a total avoidance of the fact that transcripts of two telephone calls does not validate that charge. There is also a total avoidance of the fact that the Christopher Steele dossier was an illustration of that charge. If you have doubts, read the transcript.
Another talking point is that if someone is running for office, they cannot be investigated for any past actions. This idea somehow has never applied to President Trump–they are still trying to get his tax returns in the hope of finding out that he deducted something he shouldn’t have. Have they forgotten the Clinton’s charity deductions for used underwear? Yuck.
The next talking point is that Ukraine did not interfere in the 2016 election. Again, you have to ignore a lot of basic facts to believe that. Politico wrote about Ukrainian interference in 2017. This is the link (if the article has not been taken down). There were also other articles written at the time noting that the corrupt Ukraine government had egg on its face when President Trump won the 2016 election.
All of these talking points are being spun daily–even on the supposedly conservative news programs. As voters, all of us need to pay attention when supposed experts are telling us things that are simply not true.
On October 24, The Federal Times posted an article about relocating some of the Washington bureaucracy. What a great idea. We need to move some of the people in charge of government agencies closer to the people they are supposed to serve. We also need to break up the concentration of power that is the Washington swamp.
It is not a coincidence that many of the wealthiest counties in America are suburbs of Washington, D.C.
According to Wikipedia (a questionable source, but I suspect this is correct):
Presented below are the 25 highest-income counties (with populations of 65,000 or greater) in the United States by median household income according to the 2016 American Community Survey prepared by the US Census Bureau. Five of the counties are located in the state of Maryland, five are in Virginia, four in California, three in New Jersey, two in New York, and one each in: Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. (Disclaimer: This only includes counties that participated in this single survey)
The Trump administration’s decision to move three agency components outside the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area has spurred a sizeable amount of controversy, but Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., want to keep going with that trend.
The two senators introduced a bill Oct. 23 that would move about 90 percent of the workforce at the headquarters for 10 federal agencies to other states around the country and pop the “bubble” of D.C. federal employment.
“Every year Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars fund federal agencies that are mainly located in the D.C. bubble. That’s a big part of the problem with Washington: they’re too removed from the rest of America,” said Hawley in a news release.
“The HIRE Act will move policymakers directly into the communities they serve, creating thousands of jobs for local communities and saving taxpayers billions of dollars along the way.”
Under the proposal, the Department of Agriculture would move to Missouri, Commerce to Pennsylvania, Education to Tennessee, Energy to Kentucky, Health and Human Services to Indiana, Housing and Urban Development to Ohio, Interior to New Mexico, Labor to West Virginia, Transportation to Michigan and Veterans Affairs to South Carolina.
Obviously there are objections to this idea. The swamp is not enthusiastic about being split up!
The article concludes:
About 20 percent of D.C. residents are employed directly by the federal government, according to OPM and population data, while each of the 10 states slated for agency relocation under the bill have about .3 to one percent of their populations working for the federal government.
But Washington has an incredibly small population when compared with these states, and even if the entire D.C. federal workforce were to be relocated equally across the 10 states, the state with the lowest percent of federal workforce, Michigan, would only move from .3 percent to .4 percent.
The bill is bound to get strong pushback not only from the Democratically controlled House, which has been opposed to many of the Trump administration’s smaller moves, but also from the Virginia and Maryland members of Congress, whose states and districts would be likely to lose a number of jobs due to a relocation.
Relocation might also clear up the incredible traffic jam that is Washington, D.C. I suspect that it also would be cheaper to run government agencies in places where renting or owning office space would be considerably lower.
This will probably never happen, but it is a great idea.
Hot Air posted an article today about ethanol in America. The article notes that when the ethanol program (Renewable Fuel Standard) was put in place, it was based on two basic assumptions. The first assumption was that we would be producing huge amounts of biodiesel from sources like palm oil and recycled cooking oil. The other was that we would be pumping out massive volumes of cellulosic ethanol, derived from plants like switchgrass, which grows naturally all across the country. Well, both of those assumptions proved to be false. Because America is now the number one energy producer in the world, it no longer makes sense to use ethanol. Ethanol is not as environmentally friendly as carbon-based fuels when you consider the carbon footprint of its manufacturing process. There are also serious questions about the impact of ethanol on car engines.
The article concludes:
Corn is the least environmentally friendly way to create ethanol. It’s also a very inefficient fuel compared to gasoline so you wind up having to burn more of it to produce the same amount of energy. In short, we’re defeating some of the primary motivations that led us to start down this path to begin with. And yet the program endures for nothing other than political reasons. Midwestern states like Iowa want the government to keep demanding more and more corn ethanol to bolster agricultural markets. Meanwhile, refineries are stuck trading on a corrupt, fake market for RIN credits, driving some of the smaller ones toward insolvency.
The dream of corn ethanol has failed everyone across the board. But like most government mandates, once it’s been summoned into existence, it proves nearly impossible to kill. It would take a tremendous amount of political will to get rid of the RFS now, and that strength clearly doesn’t exist in the Trump administration. You won’t find it among the Democrats, either. And so we keep paddling upstream against the same forces for the foreseeable future.
The closest thing to immortality is a government program.
On Thursday, The Daily Signal posted an article which illustrates how thankful Americans should be for the health care we receive. The article tells the story of James Schmitz, a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Mr. Schmitz suffers from West syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.
The article reports:
After graduating college, I had an opportunity to work for a think tank in London. There, I’d be just hours away from the wonders of mainland Europe.
Britain is a historian’s paradise, so naturally as a history major, I was soaking it up. The idea of also going to Pompeii or Rome was spectacular.
The only thing standing in my way was a doctor to treat me abroad.
As an epileptic, I needed a steady supply of anti-seizure drugs and visits to the doctor about every three months to make sure everything was working as it should. I also needed a doctor to be available within a week’s time if necessary.
I didn’t know how hard it would be to find a doctor in Britain. I remember having a very difficult conversation with a general practitioner. It was the moment my dream of staying abroad was crushed.
It was a Friday. After work, I walked into an urgent care clinic to set up an appointment with a neurologist.
I knew how easy it is in the United States to see a doctor, so I thought this would be no different. I would go in, get a recommendation, and walk out with a name and number to call on Monday for an appointment possibly in two weeks’ time.
Sadly, that was not the case. The doctor said, verbatim: “I can recommend a neurologist for you. I will say, she’s pretty booked so you won’t see her for at least nine months.”
I was shocked. I felt as if I’d been blindsided. She wasn’t even guessing. She worked at a nearby National Health Service hospital right down the street on the weekends, so she knew.
I asked if there was anything I could do to expedite the waiting process. In response, all I got was: “I’ll call my colleague and see if she could maybe squeeze you in maybe three to four months from now.”
Disheartened by the news, I knew staying in the U.K. was out of the question. I had to return to the U.S. in order to keep accessing the routine medical care that had saved my life so many years before.
A month later, I packed my bags and left for Heathrow Airport having spent less than three months in the country. It’s a shame, because Britain is an amazing country and I would have loved to stay longer. Health care should not be a reason to have to leave a modern, First World country.
And that is how things work under socialized medicine. There may be no cost, but there is also no availability. Healthcare isn’t worth much if you can’t get it.
I came across this information last week but didn’t have a source I trusted, so I didn’t post it. Today I have a source, so here goes.
Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about the release of aid to Ukraine. We heard the Democrats in the impeachment hearings claim that the money was released because President Trump knew he had been found out. Like most of what was said in those hearings, that was garbage. The Washington Examiner staff did some investigating and discovered the real story.
The article reports:
On the day he OK’d the aid, Trump learned that Congress was going to force his hand and spend the money anyway. He could either go along or get run over.
On Sept. 11, the White House received a draft of a continuing resolution, produced by House Democrats, that would extend funding for the federal government. Among other provisions, the bill would push the Ukraine money out the door, whether in the final days of fiscal year 2019 or in 2020, regardless of what the president did.
“The draft continuing resolution … would on September 30 immediately free up the remainder of the $250 million appropriated for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative in the fiscal 2019 Defense spending law and extend its availability for another year,” Roll Call reported a little after noon on Sept. 11.
According to knowledgeable sources, the Office of Management and Budget received the draft on the morning of Sept. 11. OMB Director Russell Vought informed the president around mid-day. There was no doubt the Democratic-controlled House would pass the measure, which was needed to avoid a government shutdown. Later that afternoon, Trump — who must have already known that the Republican-controlled Senate would also support the bill — had the point emphasized to him when he received a call from Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
Portman, and Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin co-chairs the Senate Ukraine Caucus. Along with several other senators, Portman wrote to the White House on Sept. 3, imploring the president to release the aid. On Spet. 11, Portman felt the need to talk again, with the same message — only this time with the backdrop of the House preparing to pass a bill that would force Trump’s hand.
At that point, the president knew he could not maintain the hold on aid in the face of bipartisan congressional action. So he gave in. By early evening on Sept. 11, the hold was lifted.
It was an entirely unremarkable end to the story: President tries to do something. Congress opposes. President sees he has no support and backs down. It has happened many, many times with many, many presidents.
Lied to again by those who have political motives.
Posted at Townhall yesterday:
Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about a recent comment by Pope Francis about the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima that essentially ended World War II.
The article reports:
“I will soon visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where I will offer prayers for the victims of the catastrophic bombing of these two cities, and echo your own prophetic calls for nuclear disarmament,” the pope told an assembly of the nation’s bishops in Tokyo Saturday evening, shortly after his arrival in the country.
“I wish to meet those who still bear the wounds of this tragic episode in human history, as well as the victims of the triple disaster,” he said. “Their continued sufferings are an eloquent reminder of our human and Christian duty to assist those who are troubled in body and spirit, and to offer to all the Gospel message of hope, healing and reconciliation.”
“Evil has no preferences; it does not care about people’s background or identity,” he continued. “It simply bursts in with its destructive force, as was the case recently with the devastating typhoon that caused so many casualties and material damage.”
This past week, Francis sent a video message to the people of Japan, denouncing the use of nuclear weapons as “immoral” just prior to his departure for a six-day visit to Asia, including Thailand and Japan.
“Your country is very aware of the suffering caused by war,” said the pope in reference to the U.S. bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August 1945. “Together with you, I pray that the destructive power of nuclear weapons will never be unleashed again in human history.”
“Using nuclear weapons is immoral,” he said, speaking in his native Spanish.
The only part of that statement I agree with is his prayer that nuclear weapons will never be unleashed again. Unfortunately nuclear weapons are a scientific fact in our world. Unfortunately not everyone in our world cares about the human toll involved in using one.
I went to a website called Quora to find the other side of the story:
The Japanese Army effectively was the civilian government of Japan. They intended to make the war as costly as possible so that at some level they would remain in power after the war, if in a chastened, more peaceful form. They were probably right, as the US population and military was very war-weary and may have settled for a negotiated peace at some point.
The Allies, quite reasonably, thought that scenario would lead to a later war and an eventual return to conquest as Japanese foreign policy. It certainly would not have led to a free, democratic society.
This doesn’t really answer the question however. The war would definitely have been prolonged. By August 1945 the Japanese population was already on minimal rations, every harbor they had was mined and/or patrolled by submarines and larger ships. They had no real way to import oil, rubber, and the other necessities of war. They had dozens of divisions on the Asian mainland that would slowly wither away. Without the bomb, the Japanese would likely have tried to hold out longer, look for more favorable terms, and the starving Japanese population would have suffered even more greatly from privation, firebombing of all the major and most medium sized cities, and the US invasion in Operation Downfall, along with a Northern front of invading Soviet forces. If the US invasion failed, they would have maintained the bombing and blockade for a long time.
By the end of WW2 all sides had so dehumanized the enemy that it’s hard to say where the bottom was, but it would have been very bad and almost certainly worse for all sides than the state of affairs after the surrender.
World peace is a wonderful idea as is a world without nuclear weapons, but neither idea is rooted in reality. Reality is that there are those among us who want unlimited power and are not necessarily concerned about how they get it. Throughout history we have seen examples of that–Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, etc. Until human nature changes (which it won’t), the good guys need the best weapons to protect the world from tyranny.
On Friday, One America News reported that some election battleground states are taking steps to avoid voter fraud in next year’s election. Obviously there are a number of types of voter fraud. Some states have passed laws requiring a photo identification to prove that voters are who they say they are. The current efforts are to combat electronic fraud.
The article reports:
A leg of the Department of Homeland Security recently announced its soon to be partnership with election officials and non-profit VotingWorks that would audit votes in 2020. Ballot box officers say the purpose is to prevent possible hacks and watch for faulty voting machines.
Battleground states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, have already embraced a voter monitoring tool known as Arlo. Four other states have reportedly adopted the tool as well. The VotingWorks sponsored tool is free for state and local election leaders, and would double-check all votes cast.
Arlo is a web-based app that uses a security method called “risk-limiting audit.” During this process, a small percentage of the paper ballots are taken at random to check if they match what the machines recorded. Although the method is simple, many places don’t use them reportedly because many states use direct electronic voting machines, which eradicates all paper trails.
This is a really good idea. We need to make sure our elections are honest. Voter fraud is a problem. Various voter integrity groups have found multiple examples of illegal registrations in various states in recent years. Voter identity requirements and spot audits are ways to assure Americans that their votes count and are not being cancelled out by illegal votes or electronic shenanigans.
From my friends at Power Line Blog:
The Republicans were relatively successful in knocking down some of the lies told during the impeachment hearings, but they missed a few. At one point Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, under oath, asserted all the factual elements in John Solomon’s columns at The Hill about Ukraine were false, except maybe the grammar. John Solomon posted an article at his website yesterday disputing that assertion.
The article lists the following facts:
Fact 1: Hunter Biden was hired in May 2014 by Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, at a time when his father Joe Biden was Vice President and overseeing US-Ukraine Policy. Here is the announcement. Hunter Biden’s hiring came just a few short weeks after Joe Biden urged Ukraine to expand natural gas production and use Americans to help. You can read his comments to the Ukrainian prime minister here. Hunter Biden’s firm then began receiving monthly payments totaling $166,666. You can see those payments here.
Fact 3: Vice President Joe Biden and his office were alerted by a December 2015 New York Times article that Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma and that Hunter Biden’s role at the company was undercutting his father’s anticorruption efforts in Ukraine.
Fact 4: The Biden-Burisma issue created the appearance of a conflict of interest, especially for State Department officials. I especially refer you to State official George Kent’s testimony here. He testified he viewed Burisma as corrupt and the Bidens as creating the perception of a conflict of interest. His concerns both caused him to contact the vice president’s office and to block a project that State’s USAID agency was planning with Burisma in 2016. In addition, Ambassador Yovanovitch testified she, too, saw the Bidens-Burisma connection as creating the appearance of a conflict of interest. You can read her testimony here.
Fact 5: The Obama White House invited Shokin’s prosecutorial team to Washington for meetings in January 2016 to discuss their anticorruption investigations. You can read about that here. Also, here is the official agenda for that meeting in Ukraine and English. I call your attention to the NSC organizer of the meeting.
Fact 6: The Ukraine investigation of Hunter Biden’s employer, Burisma Holdings, escalated in February 2016 when Shokin’s office raided the home of company owner Mykola Zlochevsky and seized his property. Here is the announcement of that court-approved raid.
Fact 7: Shokin was making plans in February 2016 to interview Hunter Biden as part of his investigation. You can read his interview with me here, his sworn deposition to a court here and his interview with ABC News here.
Fact 8: Burisma’s American representatives lobbied the State Department in late February 2016 to help end the corruption allegations against the company, and specifically invoked Hunter Biden’s name as a reason to intervene. You can read State officials’ account of that effort here
Fact 10: Shokin stated in interviews with me and ABC News that he was told he was fired because Joe Biden was unhappy the Burisma investigation wasn’t shut down. He made that claim anew in this sworn deposition prepared for a court in Europe. You can read that here.
Fact 11: The day Shokin’s firing was announced in March 2016, Burisma’s legal representatives sought an immediate meeting with his temporary replacement to address the ongoing investigation. You can read the text of their emails here.
Fact 12: Burisma’s legal representatives secured that meeting April 6, 2016 and told Ukrainian prosecutors that “false information” had been spread to justify Shokin’s firing, according to a Ukrainian government memo about the meeting. The representatives also offered to arrange for the remaining Ukrainian prosecutors to meet with U.S State and Justice officials. You can read the Ukrainian prosecutors’ summary memo of the meeting here and here and the Burisma lawyers’ invite to Washington here.
Fact 13: Burisma officials eventually settled the Ukraine investigations in late 2016 and early 2017, paying a multimillion dollar fine for tax issues. You can read their lawyer’s February 2017 announcement of the end of the investigations here.
Fact 14: In March 2019, Ukraine authorities reopened an investigation against Burisma and Zlochevsky based on new evidence of money laundering. You can read NABU’s February 2019 recommendation to re-open the case here, the March 2019 notice of suspicion by Ukraine prosecutors here and a May 2019 interview here with a Ukrainian senior law enforcement official stating the investigation was ongoing. And here is an announcement this week that the Zlochevsky/Burisma probe has been expanded to include allegations of theft of Ukrainian state funds.
Fact 15: The Ukraine embassy in Washington issued a statement in April 2019 admitting that a Democratic National Committee contractor named Alexandra Chalupa solicited Ukrainian officials in spring 2016 for dirt on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in hopes of staging a congressional hearing close to the 2016 election that would damage Trump’s election chances. You can read the embassy’s statement here and here. Your colleague, Dr. Fiona Hill, confirmed this episode, testifying “Ukraine bet on the wrong horse. They bet on Hillary Clinton winning.” You can read her testimony here.
Fact 16: Chalupa sent an email to top DNC officials in May 2016 acknowledging she was working on the Manafort issue. You can read the email here.
Fact 17: Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington, Valeriy Chaly, wrote an OpEd in The Hill in August 2016 slamming GOP nominee Donald Trump for his policies on Russia despite a Geneva Convention requirement that ambassadors not become embroiled in the internal affairs or elections of their host countries. You can read Ambassador Chaly’s OpEd here and the Geneva Convention rules of conduct for foreign diplomats here. And your colleagues Ambassador Yovanovitch and Dr. Hill both confirmed this, with Dr. Hill testifying this week that Chaly’s OpEd was “probably not the most advisable thing to do.”
Fact 18: A Ukrainian district court ruled in December 2018 that the summer 2016 release of information by Ukrainian Parliamentary member Sergey Leschenko and NABU director Artem Sytnyk about an ongoing investigation of Manafort amounted to an improper interference by Ukraine’s government in the 2016 U.S. election. You can read the court ruling here. Leschenko and Sytnyk deny the allegations, and have won an appeal to suspend that ruling on a jurisdictional technicality.
Fact 19: George Soros’ Open Society Foundation issued a memo in February 2016 on its strategy for Ukraine, identifying the nonprofit Anti-Corruption Action Centre as the lead for its efforts. You can read the memo here.
Fact 20: The State Department and Soros’ foundation jointly funded the Anti-Corruption Action Centre. You can read about that funding here from the Centre’s own funding records and George Kent’s testimony about it here.
Fact 21: In April 2016, US embassy charge d’affaires George Kent sent a letter to the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office demanding that Ukrainian prosecutors stand down a series of investigations into how Ukrainian nonprofits spent U.S. aid dollars, including the Anti-Corruption Actions Centre. You can read that letter here. Kent testified he signed the letter here.
Fact 22: Then-Ukraine Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said in a televised interview with me that Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during a 2016 meeting provided the lists of names of Ukrainian nationals and groups she did want to see prosecuted. You can see I accurately quoted him by watching the video here.
Fact 23: Ambassador Yovanovitch and her embassy denied Lutsenko’s claim, calling it a “fabrication.” I reported their reaction here.
Fact 24: Despite the differing accounts of what happened at the Lutsenko-Yovanovitch meeting, a senior U.S. official in an interview arranged by the State Department stated to me in spring 2019 that US officials did pressure Lutsenko’s office on several occasions not to “prosecute, investigate or harass” certain Ukrainian activists, including Parliamentary member Leschenko, journalist Vitali Shabunin, the Anti-Corruption Action Centre and NABU director Sytnyk. You can read that official’s comments here. In addition, George Kent confirmed this same information in his deposition here.
Fact 25: In May 2018, then-House Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions sent an official congressional letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking that Yovanovitch be recalled as ambassador to Ukraine. Sessions and State confirmed the official letter, which you can read here.
Fact 26: In fall 2018, Ukrainian prosecutors, using a third party, hired an American lawyer (a former U.S. attorney) to proffer information to the U.S. government about certain activities at the U.S. embassy, involving Burisma and involving the 2016 election, that they believed might have violated U.S. law. You can read their account here. You can also confirm it independently by talking to the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan or the American lawyer representing the Ukrainian prosecutors’ interests.
Fact 27: In May 2016, one of George Soros’ top aides secured a meeting with the top Eurasia policy official in the State Department to discuss Russian bond issues. You can read the State memos on that meeting here.
Fact 28: In June 2016, Soros himself secured a telephonic meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to discuss Ukraine policy. You can read the State memos on that meeting here.
In the article John Solomon asks Lt. Col. Vindman to provide any information that contradicts these facts. If Lt. Col. Vindman is not able to do that, he needs to correct his testimony.
A number of states have legalized recreational marijuana with the intention of collecting tax revenue on the sale of the drug after it becomes legal. There is little thought given to the possible effects of the drug or the long-term consequences–it’s about the money. As far as the long-term consequences, I posted an article in October of last year that included a first-hand account of the effects of continuing marijuana use. Yesterday (updated today) The U.K. Daily Mail posted an interesting article about how the legalization and taxation of marijuana has worked in California.
The article reports:
California is increasing business tax rates on legal marijuana, a move that stunned struggling companies that have been pleading with the state to do just the opposite.
Hefty marijuana taxes that can approach 50 per cent in some communities have been blamed for pushing shoppers into California’s tax-free illegal market, which is thriving.
Industry analysts estimate that $3 are spent in the illegal market for every $1 in the legal one.
The California Cannabis Industry Association said in a statement that its members are ‘stunned and outraged.’
The group said the higher taxes that will take effect January 1 will make it even worse for a legal industry struggling under the weight of heavy regulation and fees, local bans on pot sales and growing and a booming underground marketplace.
‘Widening the price … gap between illicit and regulated products will further drive consumers to the illicit market at a time when illicit products are demonstrably putting people´s lives at risk,’ the group said, referring to the national vaping health crisis.
Los Angeles dispensary owner Jerred Kiloh, who heads the United Cannabis Business Association, said the increased levies added to the heavily taxed market ‘seems like a slap in the face.’
The changes involve taxes paid by legal businesses, which ultimately get passed along to consumers at the retail counter.
Josh Drayton of the cannabis association predicted that an eighth-ounce purchase of marijuana buds, typically priced around $40 to $45, would be pushed up to $50 or more in the new year.
There are a few lessons to be learned here. First, increasing taxes on something results in people finding another source or buying less. In this case, people have found another source. A person buying legal marijuana can be reasonably sure that he is getting the product he is paying for; however, buying any drug illegally can be very risky. This is the Laffer Curve at work–raising taxes on something will at some point decrease revenue. Second, companies don’t pay taxes–increased taxes are passed along to the consumer in the form of increased prices.
Legalizing recreational marijuana use may have unseen consequences we haven’t even dreamed of yet. In California it has not ended the illegal drug trade, and the greedy government’s taxes have only exacerbated the problem.
Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted an article about a letter sent from a group of Republican Congressmen to Adam Schiff. It seems that when the Democrats put together their rules for impeachment, they forgot to cross out a portion of those rules that they did not plan to include.
The article reports:
In his letter Rep. McCarthy cites House Rule XI, Cause 2(j)(1) The Minority Rule on calling witnesses. This rule allows the Minority to call any witnesses they want on at least one day of a congressional hearing, upon notifying the Committee chairman, which the Republicans did this morning.
…According to the rule Democrats must allow Republicans at least one day to call any witnesses they want for at least one day of testimony.
…Pelosi and her Lawfare crew of condescending coup criminals overlooked the rule and didn’t change or strike it when they changed the other House rules for impeachment!
This is the rule:
The Minority Witness Rule (Clause 2(j)(1) of Rule XI) – The Minority is entitled to one additional day of related hearings at which to call their own witnesses if a majority of the Minority Members make their demand before the committee�s hearing is gaveled closed.
America has a culture that loves animals. A picture of a kitten or puppy on Facebook will probably go viral. A picture of a cute child might not. That is just the way our culture operates. Most Americans love animals and care about them. There is, however, a radical fringe that has somehow misplaced its priorities. Before I go further (and at the risk of offending many people), I would like to state my personal opinion that minks are nasty little animals that deserve to die. They don’t deserve to be treated badly, they just deserve to be used to make beautiful coats.
One America News posted an article today that illustrates how someone who claims to love animals can somehow get their priorities very mixed up.
The article reports:
An animal rights activist is facing attempted murder charges for allegedly stabbing a woman inside an Ohio church. The incident happened Wednesday night, just before children’s choir practice at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights.
Bodycam footage shows the moment officers arrived on the scene after receiving a call indicating someone had been attacked. A churchgoer can be seen pinning 35-year-old Meredith Lowell to the floor before officers rush in and arrest her. The victim was stabbed twice in the arm and once in the stomach. She was rushed to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Although officials say the two don’t know each other, they do believe the victim was followed into the church because of her boots.
“It is our belief that she targeted this victim because she believed she had been wearing fur,” stated Chief Annette Mecklenburg of the Cleveland Heights Police Department.”
This isn’t the first time the animal rights activist has targeted someone. According to the police chief, Lowell was charged with attempting to hire a hit-man to murder someone who was wearing fur back in 2012. Psychologists later determined Lowell wasn’t competent to stand trial and didn’t pose a danger to the community. Last year, however, she stabbed a woman wearing a jacket with a fur-lined hood. She was charged with felonious assault and was released after posting $5,000 bond. That particular case is still pending.
First of all–all that looks like fur is not fur. I have a beautiful fur coat that looks like real fur. It’s machine washable. No animals were killed to make that coat! This woman obviously mentally disturbed. I hope they refer her to a place where she can get help.
Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about the timelines involved in the respective strategies of the Democrats and Republicans in the impeachment saga. It is a very complex article, and I suggest that you follow the link above to read the entire article. However, I will try to list a few highlights here.
The article reports:
Today we have some new background to help see the narrative race and legal race. Pelosi and Schiff are not only racing the impeachment vote against the IG report, they are also racing against the Judicial branch wiping out all prior “impeachment inquiry” validity.
Effective at the end of business today the House is now in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The article explains the calendar:
On December 9th the IG report on FISA abuse and DOJ/FBI corruption will be released. On December 11th Michael Horowitz will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
So there are two races.
♦ One race within the Trump impeachment is for the narrative: Trump Impeachment -vs- DOJ/FISA corruption against Trump. This is the race everyone is discussing.
♦ The second race within the Trump impeachment is legal: Pelosi, Schiff and ultimately Nadler -vs- the Judicial branch. This is the race few are watching, but actually could be far more consequential because it could invalidate the entire HPSCI process.
The aforementioned mid-December House Impeachment Vote is not a vote to impeach President Trump. It is a vote at the end of their “inquiry”; and a vote to authorize the House Judiciary Committee to begin their “official” impeachment hearings.
The mid-December vote will be to authorize the House Judiciary Committee to begin the “official” impeachment hearings. Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff need this vote fast; they need this vote before they lose any court case that could make the “impeachment inquiry” invalid.
Additionally, Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler need this full House authorization vote to gain the authority to penetrate the constitutional firewall that protects the separation of power in the “official” impeachment investigation. And they are hoping that any loss in the three pending cases will not undermine the validity of the prior impeachment inquiry…. that’s an issue.
That’s why Pelosi, Schiff and Nadler need to get that mid-December House vote before they lose any SCOTUS ruling. There are three cases, each of them appears heading to the Supreme Court; one is already there.
Please follow the link to the article for the details on the three court cases. December is going to be a very interesting month. I suspect that the Democrats are hoping that people will be too busy with Christmas things to be paying attention. Meanwhile, we may actually get to the bottom of the Russian hoax.
Breitbart posted an article today about the passing of the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement.
The article reports:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said during a press conference Thursday that she remains skeptical about the House passing the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement this year, as Congress’s lower chamber continues to focus on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Speaker Pelosi cast doubt during the presser that Congress has enough time to pass the USMCA in 2019.
“I’m not even sure if we came to an agreement today that it would be enough time to finish [this year], but just depends on how much agreement we come to,” Pelosi said.
Last week, she said that a deal on USMCA was “imminent.”
“I’m eager to get this done,” the California Democrat said.
The USMCA’s delayed passage through the House arises as Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) have launched an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Speaker Pelosi and House Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) will meet with U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer to discuss the Democrats’ remaining concerns surrounding the USMCA.
The article notes:
Pelosi’s comments follow the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus’s call for the speaker to hold a “timely vote” on the USMCA. The caucus represents 48 House Republicans and Democrats.
I am one of many people who believe that this delay is political–the trade agreement is a good thing for American workers, and Democrats are reluctant to give President Trump any sort of victory. It is a shame that the Democrats have chosen to put politics over the welfare of American workers.