Looking Behind The Curtain

When Merrick Garland was appointed Attorney General, it seemed a bit odd. It was an obvious slap in the face to the Republicans who had not brought his nomination to the Supreme Court to the floor of the Senate, but evidently there is more to the story. As you read this, remember that a lot of what have been called conspiracy theories have turned out to be true.

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about the reason behind the appointment of Judge Garland. The article provides some insight into what is happening behind the scenes in the Biden administration.

The article quotes a Reuters report:

Democrats overcame Republican opposition on Monday as the U.S. Senate voted to confirm federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, seen as a possible future Supreme Court nominee for President Joe Biden, to an influential appellate court.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 53-44 to approve Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. All those in opposition were Republicans, with three voting with Democrats to approve the nomination.

Biden nominated Jackson, a Washington-based U.S. district judge, to the D.C. Circuit to replace Attorney General Merrick Garland on the bench. That appellate court has served as a springboard to the Supreme Court in the past, including for current Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh. (read more)

What we have here is the deep state in action.

The article at the Conservative Treehouse explains:

The vote was 53-47 [link here] Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Lindsey Graham voted with Democrats to support KBJ to the circuit court. This Deep State manuever was transparently predictable. {Go Deep}  This was the real reason why Biden elevated Merrick Garland to AG, to get him out of the way for Ketanji Brown Jackson to work her way to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Obama would then have another tool for total control.

Remember the names of the Republicans who voted for this. They need to lose in primary elections as soon as possible.

The article at The Conservative Treehouse concludes:

We all know that Biden is an avatar for Obama’s third-term. Hence the plan by Team Obama (BLM) and James Clyburn (AME) to use a cognitively impaired tool to secure the 2020 club nomination. They then inserted Kamala Harris as the useful radical to manipulate for actual policy objectives.

Once you see the strings on the marionettes you can never return to that time before when you did not see them. It’s all a conspiracy theory until it’s proven accurate, then it’s racist…

The Democrats don’t have to pack the Supreme Court–all they need to do is replace a few traditional liberals with some radicals.

 

 

Why We Need To Maintain Energy Independence

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about some investment plans by the Communist Chinese.

The article reports:

Reuters reported Wednesday that “major Chinese investors” are in talks to buy a stake in Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) mentioned the possibility of selling some Aramco stock in a television interview Tuesday.

…Reuters immediately noted China’s state-owned PetroChina and Sinopec previously expressed interest in buying up to five percent of Aramco in 2017. 

Aramco raised almost $30 billion with its initial public offering in 2019, providing a significant amount of the money needed to finance MBS’ “Saudi Vision 2030” plan to diversify the Saudi economy. 

The IPO ended up selling about 1.7 percent of the company’s stock, much of it to Saudi and Middle Eastern buyers. The record-breaking results were considered something of a disappointment compared to MBS’ original vision of selling 5 percent of the company and raising $100 billion.

The scaled-down IPO was partly a consequence of investors disputing the $2 trillion corporate valuation the Saudis put forward, and partly because Aramco was uncomfortable with some of the transparency requirements demanded by foreign investors. The dogged efforts of Iran’s terrorist proxies in Yemen to blow up Aramco facilities with missiles and drones were not helpful.

On Wednesday, “several sources” confirmed Chinese investors were part of the deal MBS mentioned in his interview, pointing to a sovereign wealth fund called China Investment Corporation (CIC) as a potential buyer.

The Renegade Tribune noted the following on November 7, 2018:

Nixon’s decision in 1971 to withdraw the United States from the gold standard greatly influenced the future direction of humanity. The US dollar rose in importance from the mid-1950s to become the world reserve currency as a result of the need for countries to use the dollar in trade. One of the most consumed commodities in the world is oil, and as is well known, the price is set by OPEC in US dollars, with this organization being strongly influenced by Saudi Arabia.

It is therefore towards Riyadh that we must look in order to understand the workings of the petrodollar. After the dollar was withdrawn from the gold standard, Washington made an arrangement with Riyadh to price oil solely in dollars. In return, the Saudis received protection and were granted a free hand in the region. This decision forced the rest of the world to hold a high amount of US dollars in their currency reserves, requiring the purchase of US treasuries. The relationship between the US dollar and oil breathed new life to this currency, placing it at the centre of the global financial and economic system. This privileged role enjoyed by the dollar allowed the United States to finance its economy through the simple process of printing its fiat currency, relying on its credibility and supported by the petrodollar that required other countries to store reserves of US treasuries in their basket of currencies.

This arrangement continued to sustain itself in spite of numerous wars (the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan), financial crises (the Black Monday of 1987, the Dotcom bubble of 2000, and Lehman Brothers’ subprime crisis of 2008), and the bankruptcies of sovereign states (Argentina in 1998). The explanation is to be found in the credibility of the US dollar and the US itself, with its ability to repay buyers of treasury bonds. In other words, as long as the US continues to maintain its dominance of the global financial and economic system, thanks to the dollar, its supremacy as a world superpower is hardly questioned. To maintain this influence on the currency markets and the special-drawing rights (SDR) basket, the pricing of oil in US dollars is crucial. This explains, at least partially, the impossibility of scaling down the relationship between Washington and Riyadh. Nobody should delude themselves into believing that this is the only reason why Saudi-US relations are important. Washington is swimming in the money showered by Saudi lobbies, and it is doubtful that those on the receiving end of such largesse will want to make the party stop.

Think about what the impact of large amounts of Chinese cash into Saudi Arabia might have on the current arrangement of the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency. China has wanted to undo that arrangement for some time. Also consider the impact of the runaway spending proposals of the Biden administration and the impact they will have (if passed) on the value of the U.S. dollar. We may be headed for a perfect storm. One thing that would help us weather than storm would be energy independence.

Why You Should Think Before You Vote

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about Ford Motor Company’s decision to move production of a new electric vehicle from Avon Lake, Ohio, into Mexico.

The article reports:

Ford previously agreed to spend $900 million on a new product line for the Ohio plant; however, according to the UAW the location has shifted.

One way of looking at this change in direction from Ford relates to the cost of producing electric vehicles. First, it is far less expensive in Mexico (labor, environmental regulation, energy costs, etc); secondly, an outlook the new Biden administration will not strongly enforce USMCA compliance measures against U.S. multinational firms.

The UAW supported Joe Biden, but his policies will likely undermine their workers. Unfortunately, this was all too predictable. Partly because Biden-Harris owe Wall Street too much, and the multinationals are once again in control over the U.S. economy.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported:

In a letter made public on Tuesday, UAW Vice President Gerald Kariem said Ford intends to build a next-generation vehicle in Mexico.

“We 100% reject the company’s decision to put corporate greed and more potential profits over American jobs and the future of our members. We expect the company to honor its contractual commitments to this membership and when it fails to do so we will take action,” Kariem wrote in the Friday letter.

“We are intensely exploring our options at this time,” he added.

Electing Joe Biden as President put the swamp back in control. The welfare of the average American does not play a role in the decisions made by swamp creatures. The industries that came back to America because of President Trump’s tax and energy policies will be leaving in the near future.

Another Award

On Friday, Reuters reported that Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has given President Trump Morocco’s highest award for his work in advancing a normalization deal between Israel and Morocco.

The article reports:

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz received other awards for their work on the Israel-Morocco deal, which was reached in December.

The United States in the last five months helped broker deals between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. The agreements are aimed at normalizing relations and opening economic ties.

Trump, who leaves office on Wednesday, has drawn some criticism over the Morocco agreement because to seal the deal, he agreed that the United States would recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The interesting part of the treaties made in the Middle East brokered by the Trump administration is that the negotiators worked with the people who actually wanted peace and ignored the people who didn’t. If you still believe that the Palestinians want peace, do some research on what they are teaching their young children in their schools. The issue of Palestine has always had more value to those Arab nations who want to get rid of Israel than the solution would have. President Trump has been both a strong ally of Israel and a strong supporter of Middle East peace. I am hopeful, but not optimistic, that the Biden administration will learn from the Trump successes and continue on that path.

A Partial Solution–Not A Real One

On Friday, Reuters reported the following:

Britain is prepared to offer extended visa rights and a pathway to citizenship for almost 3 million Hong Kong residents in response to China’s push to impose national security legislation in the former British colony.

The national security legislation recently put in place in Hong Kong by China is going to have repercussions worldwide. As a free state, Hong Kong has been a global financial center. Its residents have enjoyed the fruits of that status. As simply another part of Communist China, Hong Kong will not have the same economy or status.

My first question is whether or not China will allow a mass exodus of Hong Kong residents. Is Hong Kong a valuable asset if the majority of the people leave? How many residents would be willing to give up the life they have known for the sake of freedom? According to worldometers.info, Hong Kong has a population of about 7.5 million. The median age of that population is about 44 years old.

The article reports:

Foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Thursday that if Beijing went ahead, Britain would extend the rights of 350,000 ‘British National Overseas’ passport holders.

On Friday the interior ministry said that this policy would apply to all BNOs currently in Hong Kong – a much larger group of around 2.9 million people according to British government figures.

“If China imposes this law, we will explore options to allow British Nationals Overseas to apply for leave to stay in the UK, including a path to citizenship,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement.

“We will continue to defend the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.”

The article concludes:

Beijing says the new legislation, likely to come into force before September, will tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city.

Chinese authorities and Hong Kong’s government say the legislation poses no threat to the city’s autonomy and the interests of foreign investors will be preserved.

Somehow I doubt that any of the claims China is currently making are true.

How To Handle A Hostile Press

On April 7, Kayleigh McEnany became the White House Press Secretary. It has become very obvious to anyone paying attention that there is now a new sheriff in town–she holds her ground against hostile reporters very well.

Today The Western Journal posted an article that perfectly illustrates the skills of Ms. McEnany.

The article cites a recent exchange with Reuters reporter Jeff Mason.

The article reports:

“In a previous life, before you were press secretary, you worked for the campaign,” Mason said. “And you made a comment, I believe on Fox, that President Trump would not allow the coronavirus to come to this country. Given what has happened since then, obviously, would you like to take that back?”

McEnany first clarified that the statement she made involved an appearance on Fox Business in which she was asked about the intent behind the travel restrictions with China and  she “noted the intent behind the restrictions, which is that we will not see the coronavirus come here.”

This is a bit different from what Mason’s question implied. (The media-centric website Grabien has the video of McEnany’s Feb. 25 interview with then-Fox Business Network anchor Trish Regan.)

Here’s the crux of McEnany’s issue, though: Mason had apparently forgotten what his fellow scribes had also said on the matter.

“I guess I would turn the question back on the media and ask similar questions,” McEnany said.

“Does Vox want to take back that they proclaimed that the coronavirus would not be ‘a deadly pandemic’? Does The Washington Post want to take back that they told Americans to ‘get a grippe, the flu is bigger than the coronavirus’?

“Does The Washington Post, likewise, want to take back that ‘our brains are causing us to exaggerate the threat of the coronavirus’?” she continued.

“Does The New York Times want to take back that the ‘fear of the virus may be spreading faster than the virus itself’? Does NPR want to take back that ‘the flu was a much bigger threat than the coronavirus’? And finally, once again The Washington Post, would they like to take back that ’the government should not respond aggressively to the coronavirus’?

“I’ll leave you with those questions, and maybe you’ll have some answers in a few days,” McEnany said in closing, and cue mic drop.

The article includes a video of the question an answer and links to the articles Ms. McEnany quoted. Please follow the link above to see both. The video is quite entertaining. I don’t think the press is used to being asked to live up to their own standards.

The Good Economic News Continues

CNBC posted an article today about housing starts in December.

The article reports:

U.S. homebuilding surged to a 13-year high in December as activity increased across the board, suggesting the housing market recovery was back on track amid low mortgage rates, and could help support the longest economic expansion on record.

Housing starts jumped 16.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.608 million units last month, the highest level since December 2006. The percentage gain was the largest since October 2016. Data for November was revised higher to show homebuilding rising to a pace of 1.375 million units, instead of advancing to a rate of 1.365 million units as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts would increase to a pace of 1.375 million units in December.

Housing starts soared 40.8% on a year-on-year basis in December. An estimated 1.290 million housing units were started in 2019, up 3.2% compared to 2018.

Building permits fell 3.9% to a rate of 1.416 million units in December after hitting their highest level in more than 12-1/2 years in November.

…Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, jumped 11.2% to a rate of 1.055 units in December, the highest level since June 2007. Single-family housing starts rose in the Midwest and the populous South. They, however, fell in the Northeast and West.

The increase in housing starts is an indication of a healthy economy. The fact that single-housing starts rose in the Midwest and the South and declined in the Northeast and West is a further indication that Americans are voting with their feet.

Not All Of What You Are Hearing Is True

Chicken Little is again running around yelling, “The sky is falling!” This time the attempt to induce panic in the general population is related to the fires burning in Brazil in the Amazon rain forest. The panicked extreme environmentalists cry, “The lungs of the earth.” The more rational environmentalists have a different perspective.

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line Blog posted an article that reports some facts and historical perspective on the fires.

The article reports:

It isn’t entirely a fraud–there are indeed fires in the vicinity of the Amazon rain forest. But the hysteria that has been induced by those fires, which occur every year at this time, is ridiculous. Wildly exaggerated claims have been repeated uncritically in the press, and celebrity ignoramuses and politicians have avidly circulated photos of pretty much every forest fire that has occurred anywhere in the world over the last 20 or 30 years, claiming they were taken yesterday in the Amazon region.

The controversy has reached the level of high diplomacy (or rather, low comedy) as European countries have leaned heavily on Brazil to do a better job of controlling fires, threatening among other things trade sanctions, while Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro declined European offers of aid, while pointing out that French president Marcon wasn’t even able to prevent a foreseeable fire at Notre Dame cathedral. Relations between Brazil and France spiraled downward to the point of a Facebook comment by Bolsonaro on the relative pulchritude of the countries’ first ladies.

Yesterday The Tennessee Star posted an article about the fires.

The Tennessee Star reports:

The origin of this Amazon fire crisis traces back to the beginning of August, when Bolsonaro sacked his Space Institute minister for publishing worrisome data about the 2019 fire season. The dry season in Brazil typically runs from August to November, as farmers use these months to burn dried-out timber previously cut during land clearing operations. Ranchers also prepare the land for cattle grazing.

An important point to remember about these fires, however, is that the rainforests themselves are not entirely or uncontrollably ablaze. Natural fire does not typically occur in these tropical forests due to suffocating humidity, wet dense foliage, and daily thunderstorms. What is burning right now is land near the forests where farmers and ranchers have cleared hundreds and hundreds of acres of trees. This is easily seen in satellite imagery, which scientists finally examined and compared to the past two decades.

The New York Times pumped the brakes on the misinformation and published a highly informative map showing the location of the fires on previously cleared land obviously related to farmers and ranchers.

The Brazilian state of Mato Grasso has been transformed into an “ocean of soybeans” the size of Iowa. On the periphery, the land is cleared at the rate of 2,500-square-miles annually.

This deforestation peaked in the 1990s but lessened significantly over the past 10 years. There is evidence, however, to suggest Bolsonaro’s government had cut back on enforcement measures against illegal fires and land-clearing activities. The initial reports about the beginning of fire season sent the international community into a panic, led by the Europeans.

The number of fires and cumulative area burned so far in 2019, on the other hand, is on par with previous years and described as “near average” by NASA.

The farmers are clearing their land for their soybean crops. According to a Reuters article from May 2019:

Soybean trading in Brazil has gained momentum in recent days, driven by a wave of Chinese demand, boosting prices and premiums paid at ports amid a weakening of the Brazilian currency, according to analysts.

An estimated 5.5 million tonnes of soybeans have traded over the past few days, and are slated to leave Brazilian ports in June, July and August, according to estimates by the Center for Advanced Studies in Applied Economics (Cepea) issued on Friday.

The boost in trading has been driven by the failure of the Washington and Beijing to resolve their longstanding trade dispute, which made China turn to Brazil for soybean supplies, the analysts said.

The fires are not extraordinary when viewed through the lens of history. The farmers are clearing their land in order to plant soybeans and graze cattle. The hysteria is unfounded and unproductive.

Rewriting History For Political Purposes

The Washington Examiner posted an article today a news report posted on the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America website.

The Washington Examiner reports:

By pure chance I stumbled recently on a news report posted on the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America website. It was a news feature story about the personality cult of Argentine Communist Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

He is described as a “Marxist revolutionary” in a complimentary narrative that would make any antifa sympathizer proud. Americans who know something about the history of communist atrocities of the last century might find it shocking and wonder how their tax money is being spent. What VOA failed to mention is that Che was a ruthless communist, directly and indirectly responsible for brutal murders of tens of thousands of innocent human beings in Cuba and elsewhere.

I discovered through further research that this news feature report was originally prepared by Reuters, but VOA posted it on its main desktop website without giving credit to the news agency. VOA staff even put VOA letters on a Reuters photo showing the famous image of the communist hero. Whether or not it gives proper credit to Reuters, VOA is still responsible for everything it offers for public view under its name. The feature glorifying a Communist mass murderer was presented by the U.S. government as VOA’s own work.

The article details the changes in the VOA in recent years:

Much of the blame for the return of journalistic bias and chaos to the Voice of America in recent years rests with the recent and current leadership of the agency, which seems have a distorted view of VOA’s past and its mission, in addition to being managerially challenged.

But the biggest problem is the political bias, partisanship, and the ineffectiveness of many VOA programs. VOA still has a few excellent and unbiased journalists, but they are deeply unhappy being unable to practice their craft the way they think most Americans would want to support with their tax money. “Professionalism at VOA is dead, because [VOA Director] Amanda Bennett and [USAGM CEO] John Lensing killed it,” a VOA employee was reported to have said.

…An ahistorical Voice of America can be a dangerous anti-democratic, anti-liberal, anti-conservative and anti-humanist propaganda tool both abroad and in the United States, regardless of which party controls the White House. VOA needs much better oversight from Congress and American taxpayers than it has now.

Please read the entire article. It is time for new leadership at the VOA. President Trump is moving in that direction.

The article concludes:

The current Obama administration officials in charge of VOA have demonstrated their partisanship and remarkable managerial incompetence. Haroon Ullah, a top aide recruited and frequently feted by USAGM CEO John Lansing as a strategic planner, recently pleaded guilty to federal charges of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the agency.

Award-winning PBS film documentarian and former federal government official Michael Pack is President Trump’s nominee to become the next agency head. He is conservative, but from what I can tell from his documentaries, he possesses a good grasp of history and seems ideologically less dogmatic than some of the current agency leaders and editors. He appears to have much more public service experience to run a government media program than any of the holdover officials currently in charge of USAGM. However, he and any other future VOA officials also need to be constantly watched and scrutinized to make sure that they fully obey the VOA Charter, which is U.S. law.

Hopefully the change in leadership will happen soon.

Some Politicians Are Playing With Fire

On June 25th Reuters reported:

Four men with suspected ties to the Islamic State militant group were captured on Tuesday by members of the Nicaraguan armed forces after entering the country illegally from Costa Rica, Nicaraguan police said.

The identities of three of the men matched those of suspects featured in an alert attributed to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) warning that three possible terrorists had recently arrived in Central America.

In a statement, Nicaraguan police said two of the men were Egyptian nationals and the other two were Iraqi. The four were due to be deported back to Costa Rica, it added.

The Egyptians were named as Mohamed Ibrahim, 33, and Mahmoud Samy Eissa, 26, while the Iraqis were Ahmed Ghanim Mohamed Al Jubury, 41 and Mustafa Ali Mohamed Yaoob, 29.

The first three men were named in the HSI alert published by Mexican media on Monday, which identified them as possible members of Islamic State headed for the United States.

They were not coming here to improve their economic status.

Yes, The Drug Companies Do Not Always Act In The Best Interest Of The Consumer

On Wednesday Reuters reported that Michael Babich, former chief executive of Insys Therapeutics Inc (INSY.O), pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe an addictive opioid medication and has agreed to become a government witness.

The article reports:

Prosecutors allege that from 2012 to 2015, Kapoor, Babich and others conspired to pay doctors bribes in exchange for prescribing Subsys, an under-the-tongue fentanyl spray for managing severe pain in cancer patients.

Fentanyl is an opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.

Prosecutors said Insys paid doctors kickbacks in the form of fees to participate in speaker programs ostensibly meant to educate medical professionals about Subsys that were actually sham events.

Prior to working at Insys, Babich had worked at Kapoor’s venture capital firm.

Insys in August said it had agreed to pay at least $150 million as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The company has said it has taken steps to ensure it operates legally going forward.

On November 29, 2018, The New York Times reported:

A class of synthetic drugs has replaced heroin in many major American drug markets, ushering in a more deadly phase of the opioid epidemic.

New numbers Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017, a record. Overdose deaths are higher than deaths from H.I.V., car crashes or gun violence at their peaks. The data also show that the increased deaths correspond strongly with the use of synthetic opioids known as fentanyls.

Since 2013, the number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyls and similar drugs has grown to more than 28,000, from 3,000. Deaths involving fentanyls increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone.

The article includes a number of graphs showing the increase in drug overdoses in recent years and the role that fentanyl  has played in that increase.

This is only one aspect of the opioid epidemic, but at least some action has been taken on this aspect.

 

Using The Law To Break The Law

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about a lawsuit a half dozen members of the Honduras caravan have filed against President Trump and various other federal officials. It is a class action lawsuit.

The article reports:

Trump’s professed and enacted policy towards thousands of caravanners seeking asylum in the United States is shockingly unconstitutional. President Trump continues to abuse the law, including constitutional rights, to deter Central Americans from exercising their lawful right to seek asylum in the United States, and the fact that innocent children are involved matters none to President Trump.

Remember that the majority of the caravan is comprised of military-age men. The women and children are put at the front of the line for photo ops (and will probably be put in the front during the attempt to break into the United States). It may be lawful for people to seek asylum, but I think it is rather cheeky to sue the leaders of the country where you are requesting asylum.

The article explains:

Asylum is supposed to be available to people who face persecution in their home countries on grounds of religion, race, etc. It was never intended to apply wholesale to entire populations on the ground that their country is poorly governed.

But the theory of the caravan (and the lawsuit) is that anyone who makes it to American soil has due process rights as an asylum seeker, meaning, as a practical matter, that he or she has plenty of time to disappear into sanctuary regions like California. Think of it as a kind of legal illegal immigration.

Canada is not impressed with the economic migrants either. Reuters posted the following headline on Wednesday, “Exclusive: Canada rushes to deport asylum seekers who walked from U.S.”

The article at Reuters reports:

Canada is prioritizing the deportation of asylum seekers who walked across the border from the United States illegally, federal agency statistics show, as the Liberal government tries to tackle a politically sensitive issue ahead of an election year.

…Toronto lawyer Lorne Waldman said there were good reasons for accelerating the processing and deportation of people who crossed the border: it deters people with weak claims from making refugee claims in the hopes of living in Canada for years while their case wends through the system.

“The best way of discouraging people from making frivolous claims is by having the claims processed quickly,” Waldman said.

Canada may have stumbled on the answer to the problem.

Why The Iran Deal Needed To Be Scrapped

Reuters is reporting today that France has seized Iranian assets belonging to Iran’s intelligence services in response to a June plot to attack an exiled Iranian opposition group’s rally outside Paris. Make no mistake–the money Iran got in the Iran deal is being used to fund terrorism around the world. If European countries choose to ignore the sanctions America has put on Iran, they do so at their own risk. The Muslim population of Europe can easily be mobilized and paid by Iran to create havoc in Europe.

The article reports:

The hardening of relations between Paris and Tehran could have deep consequences for Iran, coming at a time when Rouhani’s government is looking to European capitals to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal after the United States pulled out.

“An attempted attack in Villepinte was foiled on June 30. An incident of such gravity on our national territory could not go unpunished,” said a joint statement by the foreign, interior and economy ministries.

Asked for reaction, a spokesman at the Iranian Embassy in Paris replied simply: “Hello. Thank you.” There was no immediate response to the French move from Tehran.

The plot targeted a meeting of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside the French capital. U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and several former European and Arab ministers attended the rally.

It unraveled after an Iranian diplomat accredited in Austria was arrested in Germany and two other individuals in possession of explosives were detained in Belgium.

The article concludes:

Paris has also suspended nominating a new ambassador to Iran and not responded to Tehran nominations for diplomatic positions in France.

The deterioration of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran.

France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Tehran agree to curbs on its nuclear program in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has said it expects renewed sanctions to impact the Iranian economy hard.

The answer to Iran as a terrorist state is regime change. Increasing the economic pressure on the current regime through sanctions could bring that to pass. For further information on the Iranian revolution and the goals of the government that took control in 1979, I recommend reading A Time to Betray by Reza Kahlili. The book tells the story of a man who believed that the revolution would bring freedom to Iran and thus supported it, only to be disillusioned later and work undercover as an American spy. It’s a great read.

Realizing The Threat To European Civilization

Reuters posted an article today reporting that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has decided not to sign the Global Compact For Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The agreement was approved on Friday by all 193 U.N. member nations except the United States, which pulled out last year.

The article reports:

“This document is entirely against Hungary’s security interests,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a news conference, adding: “This pact poses a threat to the world from the aspect that it could inspire millions (of migrants).”

Hungary, along with Poland and Czech Republic, has taken a tough stand against the admission of migrants, putting it at odds with the European Union, but striking a chord with voters by arguing that irregular immigration threatens European stability, and fencing off Hungary’s southern borders.

Szijjarto said the U.N. pact was “extreme, biased and facilitates migration.

“Its main premise is that migration is a good and inevitable phenomenon … We consider migration a bad process, which has extremely serious security implications.”

France, Germany, and Sweden have all experienced drastic increases in crime due to the influx of immigrants from Muslim countries. Unless the immigrants are willing to assimilate (and most of them are not), the attitudes of the immigrants towards women and other western cultural norms have been a problem. Hungary has recognized this and acted accordingly.

The solution to the massive migration to Europe from Africa and the Middle East is for the people in the African and Middle Eastern countries to clean up their act. Generally speaking, in the countries the migrants are coming from, the wealth and the law are controlled by a select group of people in charge. I don’t blame these people for fleeing, but they need to stay and fight. If you look at the pictures of the migrants, the majority of them are men between the ages of about eighteen to thirty-five. They are fleeing rather than joining together to fight for economic (and other) freedoms. I wonder if these migrants were forced to remain in their home countries if they would be willing to fight for those countries.

In Case You Have Been Sleeping Well…

Reuters is reporting today that Russia is clearing the way to send Iran anti-missile systems as soon as the sanctions are lifted on Iran. Doesn’t that news give you hope for peace in the Middle East?

The article reports:

Russia paved the way on Monday for missile system deliveries to Iran and started an oil-for-goods swap, signaling that Moscow may have a head-start in the race to benefit from an eventual lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

The moves come after world powers, including Russia, reached an interim deal with Iran this month on curbing its nuclear program.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ending a self-imposed ban on delivering the S-300 anti-missile rocket system to Iran, removing a major irritant between the two after Moscow canceled a corresponding contract in 2010 under pressure from the West.

This is another reason Congress should demand its constitutional right to review this treaty and a reason to reject the treaty. Once these anti-missile systems are delivered, there will be no way to prevent Iran from going nuclear, assuming that they do not already possess at least one nuclear bomb.

Please follow the link above to read the entire Reuters article. Russia will benefit economically when the sanctions are lifted, and the alliance that is being formed between Russia and Iran will not advance the cause of peace.

 

 

Is The Economy Getting Stronger?

Reuters posted a story today about the latest jobless claim numbers.

The article reports:

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week increased to the highest level since early September, but the underlying trend continued to point to a strengthening labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 316,000 for the week ended Jan. 10, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 291,000 last week. The prior week’s data was revised to show 3,000 more claims received than previously reported.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose by only 6,750 to 298,000 last week.

Notice that the number of jobless claims is rising–not falling. The article then goes on to imply that this is an indication of a strengthening economy. However, there is something the article fails to mention.

A website called ycharts has posted the following graph:

LaborForceParticipationRateA shrinking labor force is not a sign of a growing economy. Keep in mind that the unemployment rate is only based on the number of people who are in the labor force–therefore the actual unemployment rate may not be the one the government is citing. If the unemployment rate were calculated based on the number of people who are actually out of work and not looking for work, the number would probably be well into the teens. Again, we are being told the economy is strengthening, but that is not necessarily the case.

 

 

The Situation In Nevada Is Getting Uglier

The Obama Administration is noted for runaway government. Harry Reid is right in there with them. However, the latest news on the Nevada ranch standoff is stunning.

A website called Infowars has posted a story about the government action on the Bundy ranch that really raises some questions about what this is really about.

The article reports:

Back in 2012, the New American reported that Harry Reid’s son, Rory Reid, was the chief representative for a Chinese energy firm planning to build a $5-billion solar plant on public land in Laughlin, Nevada.

And journalist Marcus Stern with Reuters also reported that Sen. Reid was heavily involved in the deal as well.

“[Reid] and his oldest son, Rory, are both involved in an effort by a Chinese energy giant, ENN Energy Group, to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel manufacturing plant in the southern Nevada desert,” he wrote. “Reid has been one of the project’s most prominent advocates, helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his political muscle on behalf of the project in Nevada.”

“His son, a lawyer with a prominent Las Vegas firm that is representing ENN, helped it locate a 9,000-acre (3,600-hectare) desert site that it is buying well below appraised value from Clark County, where Rory Reid formerly chaired the county commission.”

The article at Infowars has pictures of Bureau of Land Management documents that have been pulled off of the internet that give credence to this story.

When Harry Reid entered Congress he was a middle-class American. He is now a millionaire. There is a least one questionable land deal in his past. It looks as if he working on another one–only this one may involve loss of life.

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Has The Government Lost Its Mind?

Last week CNS News reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a draft resolution that would lift a 30-year-ban on Libyan nationals coming to the United States to work or train in “aviation maintenance, flight operations, or nuclear-related fields.”

The article reports:

In a statement on his congressional website, Rep. Chaffetz said that the draft final regulation could take effect without prior notice and comment. The congressmen say the prohibition was put in place in the 1980s after the wave of terrorist incidents involving Libyans.

“The administration justifies lifting this ban by claiming that the United States’ relationship with Libya has been ‘normalized,’” the statement said.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Reuters reports today:

Heavy fighting between militias using rifles, grenades and anti-aircraft weapons erupted in several parts of Tripoli on Tuesday in the worst violence in the Libyan capital for weeks.

…OPEC producer Libya faces chaos and anarchy as the government struggles to rein in militias, gangs and Islamist radicals in a country awash with arms two years after the ouster of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Several security officials declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on the latest incdient.

Officials are often reluctant to discuss militias which call the shots in the streets. Many technically work for the police or other other regular forces but in practice report to their commanders.

Fighting between militias is often about personal arguments, control of local areas, stolen cars or smuggled goods such as drugs or alcohol banned in Libya.

I don’t have a problem with taking in refugees from a war-torn country. I do have a problem with allowing people from a country with known terrorist ties to work or train in “aviation maintenance, flight operations, or nuclear-related fields.” The draft memo by the DHS is simply not sensible. I don’t understand how America’s relationship with a terrorist country can ever be ‘normalized.’

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Why Is This Even Being Reported?

If you ever doubted the bias of the mainstream media, this story should help erase that doubt. Reuters reported yesterday that Florida Governor Rick Scott is planning to remove non-U.S. citizens from its voting rolls. That news should be reported on a par with “people on Main Street plan to walk their dogs after work.” It’s not news–it’s simply something that should routinely happen.

Voter fraud is a problem in the United States. I am not sure it is enough of a problem to throw an election, although there are some serious questions about voter fraud in the past.

In July, Fox News reported that a Cincinnati poll worker has been sentenced to jail for voting multiple times in the last election. Again, this was probably not an isolated incident. True The Vote in Texas found about 1,500 legitimate voters in a group of 25,000 registered by an activist group.

The Reuters article about Florida reports:

Last year, Florida officials said they had drawn up an initial list of 182,000 potential non-citizens. But that number was reduced to fewer than 200 after election officials acknowledged errors on the original list.

In identifying potential non-citizens, Florida officials sent their information to county election supervisors who then mailed letters to voters requesting proof they were U.S. citizens. If no response was received, the voter was dropped from the rolls.

The effort, which angered some county election supervisors, was the subject of lawsuits from five voter protection groups and at least two individual plaintiffs.

Do 200 votes matter? Two hundred votes from non-citizens combined with fraudulent absentee votes do matter.

In June of this year, Breitbart.com reported on some investigations of voter fraud in Florida that may have stolen a very close election.

The article reports:

When the  story first broke that Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia’s main-man/Chief of Staff/campaign advisor Jeffrey Garcia, along with two others were implicated in an alleged fraudulent absentee ballot request scandal, the political community immediately turned their eyes on the possibility that this same alleged voter fraud could have been conducted in Murphy’s race against former Congressman Allen West.

Jeffrey Garcia also worked for Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, supposedly doing the same kind of advising that he was doing for Garcia.

There are two things that will keep our representative republic safe. One is educated voters and the other is honest elections. Every state needs to do everything it can to ensure that its voter rolls are accurate and include only American citizens who actually live in that state. What Florida is doing should be seen as an example of what is supposed to happen. Trying to ensure the integrity of your voting rolls should not be newsworthy–it should be routine.

 

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Both Sets Of Jobs Numbers For January 2013

Yesterday CNS News reported that the number of Americans not in the labor force grew by 169,000 in January. Meanwhile, aol.com reports that 157,000 new jobs were added in January 2013.

The article at aol.com reported:

Federal Reserve officials said on Wednesday that economic activity had “paused,” but they signaled optimism the recovery would regain speed with continued monetary policy support. The Fed left in place a monthly $85 billion bond-buying stimulus plan. Economists polled by Reuters had expected employers to add 160,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 7.8 percent last month.

…Job growth in 2012 averaged 181,000 a month, but not enough to significantly reduce unemployment. Economists say employment gains in excess of 250,000 a month over a sustained period are needed.

We are losing jobs as fast as we are gaining them. This really does not look like a strong economic recovery.

Even Internationally Gun Laws Don’t Work

On Monday Reuters reported that a large weapons shipment was intercepted off Yemen. The shipment was from Iran and contained weapons for Yemeni insurgents. The shipment included surface-to-air missiles. It should be mentioned that surface-to-air missiles were the deciding factor in the war Afghanistan fought against the Russians–when America supplied the shoulder held weapons, the mujahideen began shooting down the Russian airplanes and eventually kicked the Russians out of the country.

The article reports:

Yemen’s government said in a statement the shipment was intercepted in Yemeni waters, close to the Arabian Sea. It said Yemeni Coast Guard officials boarded the vessel, which flew multiple flags and had eight Yemeni crew members on board.

“Authorities are continuing to investigate the vessel’s shipping route by analyzing navigation records found on board the ship,” the statement said.

Yemen is dealing with Al Qaeda in the north and insurgents sponsored by Iran in other areas. This is another instance where Iran is trying to increase Shi’ite influence where Sunni Muslims are in charge. Iran is not only a danger to Israel, it is a danger to all the Sunni Muslim countries in the area. It would not be a surprise to see some of those Sunni countries support Israel as it seeks to slow Iran’s progress in developing a nuclear bomb. It is also important to remember that one of the main supporters of Iranian nuclear activity is Russia. They are supplying technology, hardware and scientists,.

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I Guess It Wasn’t Too High On The Priorities List

Politico reported today that as of yesterday President Obama’s Job Council has gone one year without an official meeting.

The article reports:

The group, formally known as the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, last convened on Jan. 17, 2012 for a White House session where it presented formal recommendations to Obama. It was the panel’s fourth official meeting since it was created in early 2011.

The article reports that although the Council has not met for the past year, they have had a number of conference calls which were not made public.

The article further reports:

Though those calls were not open to the public, the public recently got some insight into what those discussions may have been like when Jobs Council member Robert Wolf scored a half-hour-long interview with Sperling earlier this month for Wolf’s Reuters TV show, “Impact Players.”

Wolf, former chairman of the  American division of Swiss bank UBS, launched the show in September. The Reuters website describes Wolf as “one of President Obama’s major fundraisers and outside advisers on economic issues.”

There are some questions I have about this Council. Robert Wolf is described in the article as “one of President Obama’s major fundraisers and outside advisers on economic issues.” Are those two things related? Also, how much are we paying the Jobs Council?

The article reminds us that the Council is scheduled to expire at the end of this month. Considering their activity level, why wait?

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Reaping The Rewards Of A Well-Run State

Reuters reported yesterday that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has proposed a plan to simplify Louisiana’s tax code to make it more friendly to business. The Governor’s plan is to eliminate all corporate and personal income taxes in a way that would be revenue neutral.

The article reports:

But political analyst Maginnis (John Maginnis) questioned whether the Republican-majority Louisiana legislature would endorse Jindal’s ambitious plan.

“Any tax increase (such as sales tax) or elimination of exemptions would require a two-thirds vote, a form of legislative approval that would require (Republican) solidarity and significant Democratic support,” Maginnis said.

Jindal said his team will meet with lawmakers soon to discuss details of his tax reform plan.

“Eliminating personal income taxes will put more money back into the pockets of Louisiana families and will change a complex tax code into a more simple system that will make Louisiana more attractive to companies who want to invest here and create jobs,” he said.

There an important lesson in this idea. Raising taxes slows economic activity and does not necessarily result in an increase in tax revenue. Lowering taxes increases economic activity and often results in increased tax revenue.

During the 1980’s President Reagan lowered taxes. This resulted in an increase in revenue taken in by the government. Because the Democratic congress never kept their promise to cut spending, the federal deficit did not decrease, but federal revenue did increase.

Lower taxes mean more economic activity. Washington needs to learn that lesson.

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Was Obamacare About Healthcare Or Taxes ?

Reuters reported on Monday that the Internal Revenue Service has released new rules concerning dividends and capital gains as part of the 2010 healthcare law. The obvious questions here is, “What do dividends and capital gains have to do with healthcare?” Evidently more than we knew.

The article reports:

The tax affects only individuals with more than $200,000 in modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), and married couples filing jointly with more than $250,000 of MAGI.

The tax applies to a broad range of investment securities ranging from stocks and bonds to commodity securities and specialized derivatives.

The 159 pages of rules spell out when the tax applies to trusts and annuities, as well as to individual securities traders.

Released late on Friday, the new regulations include a 0.9 percent healthcare tax on wages for high-income individuals.

Please keep in mind that the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) was originally enacted to impact only the wealthy. As of 2011, a single person who made $48,450 was impacted by that tax. I really don’t consider $48,450 wealthy. How long will it be before the new healthcare taxes begin to impact the middle class?

The article further points out:

The IRS plans to release a new form for taxpayers to fill out for this tax when filing 2013 returns.

Oh joy.

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I Love Elmo, But This Is Ridiculous

Reuters reported on Friday that a “Million Muppet March” is being planned for November 3 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The event is a response to Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney‘s statement that he loves Big Bird, but it is time to stop subsidizing PBS with taxpayer money. The implication is that it is time to kick Big Bird out of the public nest.

I like Big Bird too, but enough is enough. If Dora the Explorer can survive without public assistance, why can’t Big Bird? Do you know how many “Tickle-Me Elmo‘s” I have bought for my grandchildren? How many Sesame Street books? Sesame Street coloring books? I realize that Public Broadcasting is more than Sesame Street, but it seems that with an income generator like Sesame Street, it ought to be easy to make Public Broadcasting profitable. What about the fund raisers they do throughout the year? I understand that ‘they do not do commercials,’ but what about all the names mentioned of contributors in between shows?

Anyway, I hope those supporting Big Bird have a happy march. I also hope that someone comes up with a few ideas on some small places to cut the federal budget. If we can’t make little budget cuts, how will we ever make big ones?

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