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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Federal Judge Demands Exculpatory Documents in Flynn Case

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
by Debra Heine: The federal judge overseeing former national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn's criminal case is demanding that Special Counsel Robert Mueller turn over all of the government's documents related to Flynn's questioning by 3:00 p.m. EST Friday. The documents requested by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan include potentially exculpatory "memoranda" pertaining to Flynn’s case.

This comes after a sentencing memo filed by Flynn's defense team on Tuesday showed that Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe suggested that then-national security adviser Flynn not have a lawyer present for his interview with two bureau agents at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017. That interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka ultimately led to Flynn's guilty plea on one count of making false statements regarding wiretapped communications with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn "clearly saw the FBI agents as allies" and was “relaxed and jocular,” according to the 302 prepared by the agents. Now, many believe the agents were sent there to catch him in a perjury trap.

The bombshell allegation seems to have piqued the interest of Sullivan, a magistrate known for having a low tolerance level for the shenanigans of federal prosecutors.
Sullivan -- who overturned the 2008 conviction of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens after government misconduct came to light -- is weighing how to sentence Flynn, who pleaded guilty to one count of lying to federal authorities during the 2017 interview in the West Wing. Flynn faced mounting legal bills that forced him to sell his home amid the prosecution, and Mueller has already recommended he receive no prison time.

The judge's brief order states that Mueller can choose to file the materials under seal if necessary.

Sullivan also ordered the Flynn team to turn over the documents backing up its assertions. The judge could determine why the FBI apparently took a significantly more aggressive tack in handling the Flynn interview than it did during other similar matters, including the agency's sit-downs with Hillary Clinton and ex-Trump adviser George Papadopoulos.

Flynn is set to be sentenced next Tuesday -- but Sullivan's move might delay that date, or lead to other dramatic and unexpected changes in the case. Sullivan even has the authority to toss Flynn's guilty plea and the charge against him if he concludes that the FBI interfered with Flynn's constitutional right to counsel, although he has given no indications that he intends to do so.

Federal authorities undertaking a national security probe are ordinarily under no obligation to inform interviewees of their right to an attorney unless they are in custody, as long as agents do not act coercively. Flynn's lawyers claimed in Tuesday's filing that FBI brass had threatened to escalate the matter to involve the Justice Department if Flynn sought the advice of the White House Counsel before talking with agents.
In his order, Sullivan requested Mueller turn over the FBI's Flynn interview report (known as a 302), a memo written by McCabe, and any similar documents in the FBI's possession.

The judge is likely interested in finding out why the Flynn 302 is dated August 22, 2017, seven months after the interview took place.

The timeline is important because, as the Federalist's Sean Davis noted on Twitter, on August 2, 2017, Rosenstein secretly issued specific guidance as to the crimes Mueller is authorized to investigate. On August 16, 2017, ABC News reported that the special counsel's "top investigator" in the probe, Peter Strzok, had been fired by Mueller in July due to his anti-Trump communications with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, although at the time, no explanation was made public.

And finally, on August 22, the FBI 302 documenting what Flynn told the agents during their conversation at the White House, was written.

In March of 2017, when then FBI director James Comey went to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the Russia investigation, he told them that the agents who questioned Flynn did not believe he had lied. Publicly, in multiple interviews, however, Comey indicated that the FBI believed Flynn had lied.

According to the briefing transcript, released by House Intelligence Committee Republicans in May of 2018, Comey told members that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn "saw nothing that indicated to them that [Flynn] knew he was lying to them."

Then-deputy director McCabe also said FBI agents saw no signs of deception in Flynn, but he called the case a "conundrum," because Flynn's statements didn't quite match up with what the FBI knew he said in a wiretapped conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016.

Inquiring minds want to know why the 302 of Flynn's interview -- in which no one thought he was lying -- was written seven months after the interview, and only after Roseinstein's new investigation guidelines.

Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) suggested in June that the FBI may have "edited and changed" key witness reports in the Hillary Clinton and Russia investigations.

He also raised the possibility that the FBI misled DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz in an attempt to hide the identities of other FBI employees who were caught sending anti-Trump messages along with Strzok.

Meanwhile, in a report released Thursday on "The Recovery of Text Messages on Certain FBI Mobile Devices," the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General said the special counsel's records officer wiped ALL of the data off of Peter Strzok's iPhone in September of 2017, claiming that "it contained no substantive text messages." The SCO records officer scrubbed Lisa Page's phone on July 31, 2017.
“SCO’s Records Officer told the OIG that as part of the office’s records retention procedure, the officer reviewed Strzok’s DOJ issued iPhone after he returned it to the SCO and determined it contained no substantive text messages,” the OIG report said in stating that Strzok’s phone had been “reset to factory settings,” which means it was completely wiped of all of its data.

Additionally, the SCO claimed it “was unable to locate the iPhone previously assigned to Page.” When the phone was finally found, it too had all of its data deleted and was reset to factory settings, according to the report.
After news that Strzok had been fired from the Mueller probe broke in August of 2017, Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, immediately issued a subpoena to the FBI that covered information about Strzok's FBI demotion. He tried to coax the information out of the FBI and DOJ for three months and was stonewalled. Then, in early December of 2017, someone from the FBI or DOJ leaked the information to the New York Times and Washington Post.

The Post reported that "there is great concern that exposure of the texts they exchanged may be used by the president and his defenders to attack the credibility of the Mueller probe and the FBI more broadly," and the Times reported that "the existence of the text messages is likely to fuel claims by Mr. Trump that he is the target of a witch hunt."

Enraged, Nunes drew up contempt citations and demanded that the FBI and Department of Justice explain why they refused to reveal the reason Mueller kicked a key supervising FBI agent off the Trump-Russia investigation, after being subpoenaed and repeatedly asked about it.

"By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress' constitutional oversight responsibility," Nunes said in a statement on Dec. 3, 2017. "This is part of a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this committee's oversight work, particularly oversight of their use of the Steele dossier. At this point, these agencies should be investigating themselves."

The difference between how Trump and his associates have been treated in the Russia probe and how Hillary Clinton and her associates were treated in the Clinton probe is stark and appalling.

As Fox News reported, "Clinton brought a total of nine lawyers to her interview -- a number that fired FBI Director James Comey said was 'unusual ... but not unprecedented' in House testimony in September." Also, a number of subjects in the probe were granted immunity, without having to provide anything in return.A scathing report released earlier this year by the Department of Justice's inspector general (IG) found that the FBI had taken actions "inconsistent with typical investigative strategy" by allowing former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and ex-campaign staffer Heather Samuelson to sit in on the Clinton interview -- even though "they had also both served as lawyers for Clinton after they left the State Department."Several Trump associates have been hit with false statements charges as part of the Russia probe, while no one interviewed during the FBI’s Clinton email investigation was ever charged with anything – although some witnesses reportedly made false statements to the FBI and destroyed evidence.

In his closed-door testimony with House Republicans on Friday, Comey acknowledged that the FBI "didn't know whether we had anything" when it initiated its counterintelligence probe into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government in July 2016. He added that "in fact, when I was fired as director [in May 2017], I still didn't know whether there was anything to it."
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Debra Heine is a Catholic, mom of six and long time political pundit. She has written for PJ Media and several blogs including her own, Nice Deb!

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Fill Up the Swamp Some More

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Donald Trump’s “drain the Swamp” promise was good rhetoric, great politics — because nearly everybody knows that the federal government just cannot restrain, constrain, or re-train itself.

So it would have to take an outside force.

Along comes said Outside Force — the current president — yet the Swamp remains.

Unfortunately, too few of the president’s most ardent supporters see the deepest part of the Swamp.

That is, the Department of Defense.

“Less than a week after calling the Pentagon’s $716 billion budget ‘crazy’ and indicating that he wanted to trim it, President Donald Trump is reportedly proposing to push America’s military spending to greater heights,” writes Eric Boehm at Reason. “Trump told Mattis to submit a $750 billion budget request for next year — well in excess of the $733 billion level that had been previously planned.”

And he does this despite the fact that just recently this military establishment failed to give a competent accounting of its spending.

Sadly, poor accounting is rigged into the Department of Defense, as demonstrated in an important exposé last month.

“For decades, the DoD’s leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud,” The Nation explains, “deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD’s budgets ever higher, regardless of military necessity.”

Even the imperiled Social Security juggernaut is not run as badly as the Pentagon. We at least know where its funds go and have gone.*

It may be that a real leader — with substantive ideas, reliable information, and a sense of the enormity of governmental carelessness — will inspire Americans and challenge the Deep Swamp, er, State, before catastrophe.

Unfortunately, Trump is looking less and less like that drainer.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

* One recipient of Social Security “contributions” has been, in fact, the Pentagon, since budget deficits have been at least partially covered by congressional borrowing from Social Security’s “surpluses.”
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Paul Jacob is author of Common Sense which provides daily commentary about the issues impacting America and about the citizens who are doing something about them. He is also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacob is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

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Dr. Ron Paul
by Dr. Ron Paul: Washington is once again gripped by the specter of a government shutdown, as Congress and President Trump negotiate an end-of-year spending deal. A main issue of contention is funding for President Trump’s border wall. Sadly, but not surprisingly, neither Congress nor the administration is fighting to cut, or at least not increase, spending.

Federal spending has increased from 3.6 trillion dollars to 4.4 trillion dollars since Republicans gained control over both chambers of Congress in 2014. Some may try to defend congressional Republicans by pointing out that for two years the Republican Congress had to negotiate spending deals with President Obama. But federal spending has increased by 7.5 percent, or over 300 billion dollars, since Donald Trump become President.

A big beneficiary of the Republican spending spree is the military-industrial complex. Republicans have increased the “defense” budget by eight percent in the past two years. President Trump and congressional Republicans claim the increases are necessary because sequestration “decimated” the military. But Congress, with the Obama administration’s full cooperation and support, suspended sequestration every year but one, so the planned cuts never went into full effect. Congress and Obama also “supplemented” the official military budget with generous appropriations for the Pentagon’s off-budget Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Spending on militarism increased by as much as 600 billion dollars over the amounts allowed for under sequestration.

President Trump has proposed reducing the projected military budget for fiscal year 2020 to 700 billion dollars. This would be a mere two percent cut, yet the usual voices are already crying that this tiny reduction would endanger our security. If history is any guide, the military-industrial complex’s congressional allies and high-priced lobbyists will be able to defeat the president’s proposed reductions and convince President Trump to further increase the military budget.

This huge military budget has little or nothing to do with America’s legitimate security needs. In fact, as candidate Trump recognized, America’s military interventions in the Middle East have endangered our security by empowering terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

While the warfare state has been a big beneficiary of the Republican spending spree, the GOP has hardly neglected the welfare state. Domestic spending has increased seven percent since 2016. Except for a half-hearted attempt to repeal Obamacare and some food stamp reforms that were included in and then dropped from this year’s farm bill, Republicans have not made any effort to roll back or even reform the welfare state.

The farm bill, which Congress is expected to pass this week, will spend as much as 900 billion dollars over the next ten years. Much of that spending will be on taxpayer subsidies for wealthy farmers and even “farmers in name only.”

Trump’s budget deals have been supported by the majority of Democrats. Even those who have called for the president’s impeachment are more than happy to vote with him when it comes to increasing spending and debt. These Democrats are the mirror image of 1990s Republicans who made a big spending deal with President Clinton while simultaneously trying to impeach him.

We suffer from too much bipartisanship when it comes to the welfare-warfare state. This bipartisanship has resulted in a national debt that is rapidly approaching 30 trillion dollars. This will inevitably lead to a major economic crisis. The way to avoid this crisis is to replace the bipartisan welfare-warfare consensus with a new consensus in favor of limited government, peace, free markets in all areas including currency, and auditing then ending the Fed.
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Dr. Ron Paul, Chairman of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, is a former U.S.Congressman (R-TX) for 21 years. He twice sought the Republican Party nomination for President. As a MD, he was an Air Force flight surgeon and has delivered over 4000 babies. Paul writes on political and economic theory, merican foreign, domestic, and monetary policies, the militAary-industrial complex, the War on Drugs, the Federal Reserve, and compliance with the U.S. Constitution.

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Flynn Flam, California Crazy

Gary Bauer
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Flynn Flam - The trial of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is nearing its end. In fact, it could be just days away. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is recommending no jail time for Flynn, and his sentencing hearing is scheduled for early next week.

Surely no one wants this case to be over more than Michael Flynn. He sold his home to pay mounting legal bills and his reputation has been destroyed -- all over a perfectly legal phone call that the incoming-national security adviser might be expected to have with the Russian ambassador.

But Flynn's case took a surprising turn this week when his lawyers filed a brief with the court alleging misconduct on the part of the FBI, including fired agent Peter Strzok and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Now Judge Emmett Sullivan is demanding answers from Robert Mueller and the Justice Department.

Sullivan wants to know why McCabe pressured Flynn not to have a lawyer present during his FBI interview. For example, McCabe specifically dissuaded Flynn from involving the White House counsel.

In addition, the agents who interviewed Flynn, one of whom was Peter Strzok, failed to tell him at any point that he was under investigation or risked serious penalties for making misleading statements. Nor did they confront him on statements they knew were inaccurate.

In other words, this "interview" really looks more like an ambush or deliberate perjury trap.

It is also obvious that Flynn was treated very differently than other recent subjects of FBI interviews who were warned about misleading FBI agents and who had lawyers present.

For example, Hillary Clinton had nine lawyers at her FBI interview. Next to a signed confession, nothing screams "GUILTY" more than walking into an interview with nine lawyers!

For his part, Michael Flynn didn't seem to think anything was wrong. He invited the FBI agents over to his office immediately after getting McCabe's call. He even gave them a tour of the West Wing.

In their summary report, the agents declared Flynn was "unguarded," "relaxed and jocular," that they "didn't think he was lying," and that he "clearly saw the FBI agents as allies."

Speaking of that summary, sometimes referred to as a 302 report, there is something odd about it. These reports are supposed to be contemporaneous records -- the agent's fresh recollections made almost immediately after an interview.

Yet Flynn's legal filing states that the agents' 302 report from his interview is dated August 22nd -- seven months after he spoke with FBI agents in the White House.

Who knows what Judge Sullivan will find or what he will do. But it is worth noting that Sullivan turned the tables on the government and appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the Department of Justice's corrupt prosecution of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.

California Crazy - California bureaucrats are once again demonstrating what is wrong with the Left Coast. According to various reports, the California Public Utilities Commission wants to tax your text messages.

Seriously, friends, you just can't make this stuff up!

And you know things are getting bad when Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown says his party is becoming too extreme. And it seems most Democrats agree with him.

According to a new Gallup poll, 54% of Democrats say they want their party to be more moderate. In contrast, 57% of Republicans say they want the GOP to be more conservative.

While it is hard to imagine Jerry Brown as a "voice of reason," he's not wrong about the state of his party. On this the social science is clear -- the Democrat Party has lurched hard to the left in recent years, while the GOP has barely moved at all.
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Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

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VICTORY: Speech Rights of 150,000 Students to be Restored . . .

. . . Los Angeles Community College District settles lawsuit, will abandon Pierce College’s tiny free speech zone.
by FIRE: The largest community college district in the country has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed last year after an administrator told a student his First Amendment rights were restricted to a tiny “free speech zone.”

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Community College District board of trustees agreed to open the main areas of Los Angeles Pierce College to student expression. The board also agreed to revoke an unconstitutional, district-wide policy that declared all property on its nine campuses to be “non-public forums” and therefore subject to severe speech restrictions. Roughly 150,000 students attend classes at LACCD.

Student Kevin Shaw’s lawsuit was the first in the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Million Voices Campaign, which aims to free the voices of one million students by striking down unconstitutional speech codes across the country. As part of the settlement, the district agreed to pay $225,000 in attorneys’ fees.

“More than two years ago, administrators wrongly told Kevin he was not allowed to hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution in the center of his public college campus,” said FIRE Director of Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon. “He’s been standing up for his First Amendment rights every day since, and in the process has vindicated the rights of every student in the district.”

In November 2016, Shaw attempted to distribute Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution and recruit members for a new chapter of the student organization Young Americans for Liberty along the main campus thoroughfare at Pierce College. He was approached by an administrator who told him that he could not distribute literature outside the free speech zone, a tiny, 616-square foot area comprising about .003 percent of the total area of the college’s 426-acre campus.

Shaw was also told that he must fill out a permit application to use the free speech zone — requiring him to get a permission slip to exercise his First Amendment rights. He was informed that he would be asked to leave his own campus if he refused to comply.

“Though it was not without its difficulties, this experience has left me optimistic about the guiding principles of my country,” said Shaw. “Folks of all political dispositions rallied behind this case to declare in no uncertain terms: freedom of speech is essential to the educational process.”

Represented by attorneys from FIRE and Leader Berkon Colao & Silverstein LLP, Shaw filed suit in March 2017, challenging Pierce’s free speech zone policies as well as the district-wide policy that mandated the use of a free speech zone and placed all other campus property off-limits to free expression. In January, a federal district court denied the district and Pierce College administrators’ motion to dismiss Shaw’s lawsuit. In its order, the court found that the open spaces of public colleges like Pierce are traditional public forums for student speech regardless of college regulations to the contrary. Additionally, the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in Shaw’s case, arguing that Shaw successfully alleged First Amendment violations.

“Hopefully, this settlement will serve as a reminder to both students and their colleges that the free and open exchange of ideas on campus is a precious commodity to be celebrated rather than feared or restricted,” said Arthur Willner, a partner at Leader Berkon Colao & Silverstein and co-counsel with FIRE in the case.

With these policy reforms at the district and Pierce College, the Million Voices Campaign will have freed the voices of over 250,000 students since its launch in 2017.

Nationwide, 49 top colleges in FIRE’s Spotlight on Speech Codes 2019 report still maintain restrictive free speech zones.
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Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty.

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Parkland Panel Blames Sheriff’s Office, Argues Teachers Need Guns

by Tom Knighton: Coming up on almost a year since the horrific event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there are a lot of people still looking for answers. For the parents of those lost, I can’t imagine any answers will fill the void, but they’re not the only ones asking questions. Not by a long shot.d

A panel charged with looking into Parkland has been asking questions too, and the answers they reached aren’t likely to endear them to the anti-gun crowd.
Armed teachers, stronger security and better law enforcement are needed to head off another school shooting like the one in Parkland, according to a panel reviewing the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The state commission investigating the shooting that killed 17 people on Feb. 14 released a draft report Wednesday listing a series of failures by Broward County agencies and recommendations for avoiding a similar tragedy in the future.

The 407-page report, which is not final, found that deputies didn’t rush into the school to stop the carnage, and school staff committed numerous security breaches, including leaving doors unlocked and not calling a “Code Red” alarm quickly enough.

The panel also voted to include a controversial proposal allowing classroom teachers to carry guns in schools if they go through a selection process that would include background checks and training. Such a change would require the state Legislature’s approval.
Unsurprisingly, there are alternative lines of thinking.The idea has already sparked concerns from Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, whose district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“Teachers want to teach, not be armed for combat in their classrooms,” he said. “Law enforcement cannot push their responsibilities to make our communities safer on to civilians that should be focused on educating their students.”

Commission member Max Schachter, whose son was killed in the shooting, cast the sole dissenting vote. He said he’s heard from teachers who are opposed to the policy, and he said the commission should consider alternatives, such as hallway smoke cannons that would make it difficult for the killer to see.
Smoke cannons in the hallways? Really?

Oh, I’d have loved to have had access to those in high school. Imagine the pranks the kids will pull.

No, seriously, that will happen. You know what won’t happen? Saving any lives.

Much of the time, in a crowded hallway, the shooters can pop off shots at random. With people packed in tightly, they’re bound to hit people. Oh, it might help after the first little while, when there aren’t so many people filling the hallway, but guess who else won’t be able to see? The kids who are trying to get away from the homicidal maniac stalking the school.

But an armed teacher? That’s something that has to be accounted for.

What Rep. Deutch is failing to note, what his party routinely fails to note, is that no one is demanding that all teachers be armed. Law enforcement isn’t demanding teachers carry guns, either. All anyone is saying is that it’s ridiculous that a teacher doesn’t have the option to be armed and they should have that choice.

You know, be pro-choice? I’m sure Mr. Deutch has heard that phrase before. Let’s call it a hunch.

People like me want teachers to be able to choose to be armed and if they don’t want to carry a firearm, no big deal. Not everyone needs to carry a gun. Not everyone should carry a gun. I get that.

But imagine how Parkland might have played out if just one teacher had been armed. We’d probably be discussing a very different scenario.

As for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the commission made no specific recommendations besides saying the school needed better law enforcement. However, Governor-elect Ron DeSantis has called for Sheriff Scott Israel’s removal from office during his campaign, and it’s the governor’s call to do so. That means there’s a good chance Israel’s days are numbered.
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Tom Knighton is a Navy veteran, a former newspaperman, a novelist, and a blogger at Bearing Arms. He lives with his family in Southwest Georgia.

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Obama’s War Is Upon Us

. . . How the ex-Radical-in-Chief created a security vacuum that Iran rushed to fill.
by Kenneth R. Timmerman: Donald Trump has a name for everything and everyone, from Crooked Hillary to Little Rocket Man, who for a time became his best friend. Will he call the next region-wide conflagration in the Middle East, when it breaks out, Obama’s War?

If he hasn’t thought of that already, he should start considering it now. Because the catastrophic policies of our former president have emboldened the Islamic state of Iran and enabled it to threaten the United States and our allies militarily in ways never before possible.

When Obama took office in January 2009, he inherited a strong U.S. military and diplomatic posture across the Middle East.

The U.S.-Israel strategic relationship was at its peak, with the Bush White House openly supporting Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s latest attempt to stop Hamas terror in Gaza.

The U.S. enjoyed a close relationship with a secular Turkey, that itself had strong ties to Israel.

Egypt was at peace, Qaddafi had come into the Western camp and abandoned terrorism and its nuclear weapons program, and the insurgency in Iraq had been crushed.

Al Qaeda truly was “on the run,” while Iran was beginning to feel the crunch of international sanctions over its previously covert nuclear weapons program.

Obama succeeded in reversing every one of these strong U.S. positions, treating Islamic Iran as a friend and Israel as an enemy while promoting the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist spawn.

And while President Trump has taken great strides to reverse the enormous damage to our strategic posture Obama caused, fighting his way out of the spider’s web of Iran deal restrictions Obama enacted against the United States has taken nearly two years, time the Iranian regime has put to good use.

Iran today can bracket Israel with more than 150,000 rockets and guided missiles from the North and the South. That’s more than twenty times what it had available during the 2006 war. In addition to its proxies - Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the recently formed Golan Liberation Brigade in Syria – Iran now enjoys a “land bridge” directly linking it through Iraq and Syria to Israel’s northern border.

Terror chief Qais al Khazali, known for his attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, officially opened the land bridge by leading a military convoy from Iraq into Southern Lebanon in December 2017, where he did a stand-up for an Iranian-backed television network while surveying Israel from the Lebanese side of the border.

Khazali was acting on orders from Quds Force terror-meister, Qassem Suleymani, and met up in Beirut with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah before heading to the South.

At the same time, the Iranians and their local minions have been burrowing tunnels into Israel from Lebanon that the IDF began targeting last week.

From its bases in Yemen, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps has lobbed missiles at the Saudi capitol, Riyadh, and at oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley forced the media to acknowledge these aggressive Iranian actions by unveiling Iranian missile fragments at a press conference at Andrews Air Force base exactly one year ago.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has now revealed that the ballistic missile Iran test-fired last week was capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads to targets as far away as Europe. Even the Europeans finally realize that the Iran deal did nothing to restrain Iran’s nuclear weapons development or tame its aggressive behavior. It was not the U.S. but France that convened the UN Security Council to condemn the Iranian test.

In a nutshell, Iran today is poised to wreak havoc across the Middle East and beyond with military and strategic capabilities it did not possess a decade ago, including the ability to target U.S. aircraft carriers with ground-based missiles.

Short of U.S. military force, the sole limiting factor on Iran’s actions will be the position of Russian President Vladmir Putin. Will Putin seek to restrain Iran? Or give the Iranian regime free reign?

This is one reason why it is so important for the U.S. President to maintain an open channel of communications to the Kremlin, meeting with Putin, say, at G-20 summit meetings and one-on-one.

Why do you think the anti-Israel Left is so eager to hog-tie President Trump in Russia witch hunt investigations, forcing him to downscale relations with the Russians to the point that the two leaders no longer talk, at least not in public? Because they actually favor a strong Iran and see it and Russia as constraints on the evil United States. As Obama put it in his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2016, “We’ve bound our power to international laws and institutions.”

Russia signaled a strategic shift in its position toward a potential Iranian-led regional war on September 17, when a Syrian air defense crew downed a Russian Ilyushin-20 spy plane over Syrian air space, killing all fourteen Russian crewmen on board.

Putin could have called it a “tragic accident,” which indeed it was. Instead, he blamed Israel for the attack.

Until then, Israel enjoyed a special relationship with Russia when it came to Syria. The IDF had a hot line to the Russian defense ministry, which it used to give a heads up before Israeli air strikes against Iranian positions inside Syria. The result: not a single Russia missile was ever fired at an IDF fighter jet.

When a particularly large strike was in the offing, Prime Minister Netanyahu would fly to Moscow to brief Putin ahead of time. With Putin’s green light, Israel then decimated IRGC and Hezbollah positions.

All of that changed after September 17.

Today, Putin refuses to meet with Netanyahu and the Russian military has rejected Israeli efforts to deconflict its operations in Syria with the Russians.

Last month, Russia turned over operational control of its sophisticated S-300/400 air defense batteries in Syria to the Syrian military, a clear sign that restraint toward IDF fighter jets was over.

On November 29, Israeli showed that it takes these moves seriously, launching its first-ever major strike on Iranian Quds Force position inside Syria using surface-to-surface missiles and long-range artillery. By using unmanned weapons, Israel avoided the possibility that Syrian air defense batteries could shoot down an IDF jet or that Israel might inadvertently kill a Russian military advisor.

After that attack, Netanyahu met in Brussels with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, where the two pledged to work in tandem to contain Iranian “aggression.”

“As we have been warning for some time, Iran’s missile testing and missile proliferation is growing. We are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to restore deterrence,” Pompeo said.

Taken as a whole, I believe Iran actually welcomes U.S. and Israeli military action, now that Russia has made clear it will no longer restrain Iran. Seen from Tehran, they have many cards to play, including the activation of Iran’s vast underground terror networks in North America and Europe and an ability to target U.S. military bases in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the region.

Successive U.S. administrations have a bad track record of holding the Islamic state of Iran accountable for its aggression. We never responded to the 1983 attack that killed 241 U.S. Marines in Lebanon, nor did we hit Iran for its direct material involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks on America.

While Team Trump has reimposed sanctions and escalated the rhetoric, it has yet to take military action against Iran’s Islamic regime. But when that happens, make no mistake: the United States will be fighting Obama’s war.
-----------------
Kenneth R. Timmerman article on FrontPageMag and he is the author of "ISIS Begins, a Novel of the Iraq War."

Tags: Kenneth R. Timmerman, FrontPage Mag, Obama's War, Is Upon Us To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Comey Continues to Display His Lack of Credibility

Victor Davis Hanson
by Dr. Victor Davis Hanson: Fired former FBI director James Comey is at it again.

Last week, Comey testified before members of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In a single appearance, Comey, on 245 separate occasions, while under oath, stonewalled questions with “I don’t know,” “I don’t remember” or “I don’t recall,” according to a congressional interrogator, Rep. Jim Jordan. (R-Ohio).

If any private citizen tried Comey’s gambit with federal IRS auditors or FBI investigators, he would likely be indicted for perjury or obstruction.

Why did Comey, the nation’s former top-ranking federal investigator, avoid telling “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” while under oath?

The answer is, unfortunately, obvious. Comey has been called to testify before members of Congress on numerous occasions. He has written a long book and gone on an extensive book tour, and his paper trail is long.

He tweets almost daily and is often on television—and in those venues never seems to admit to any memory lapse. And Comey has been at the center of every major scandal involving the 2016 election.

In other words, Comey is realizing that almost anything he might say will likely be at odds with something he has said, done or written prior—and could potentially subject him to perjury charges.

Oddly, Comey has long posed as a modern-day Jeremiah. He thunders almost daily about the moral lapses of his perceived antagonists—mostly Donald Trump, the Trump administration and the Republican Party that Comey left.

Comey has tweeted under the pseudonym “Reinhold Niebuhr”—the celebrated 20th-century German-American theologian and ethicist. Comey apparently wishes to remind us of their similar moral insight.

Comey’s memoir is grandly entitled “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.” He writes to remind readers of his sterling character, which has always guided his career. Most recently, the self-righteous Comey said that the interim attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, is not very bright.

What is odd about the professed ethics of the sanctimonious Comey is that his assertions are belied by his own often-unethical conduct.

The Justice Department’s inspector general criticized Comey in a report for acting unprofessionally in his investigation of Hillary Clinton’s illicit private email server, improperly assuming the role of both investigator and prosecutor. Comey concluded, then opened, and then again concluded the Clinton email case at public press conferences in the midst of a presidential campaign. He drafted an exoneration of Clinton before he had even interviewed her or her top aides.

Comey’s testimony about FBI leaks to the press is at odds with his sworn statements from his former deputy, Andrew McCabe.

Comey met with President Trump on several occasions and ensured him that he was not the subject of an FBI investigation—amid mysterious leaks to the press that Trump was, in fact, part of the probe.

Speaking of leaks, Comey made sure that his memos about his meetings with President Trump were leaked to the press.

Comey said his bizarre behavior was designed to force the appointment of a special counsel, which resulted in the selection of Robert Mueller, a former FBI director and a longtime Comey acquaintance.

A number of high-ranking FBI officials during Comey’s tenure have either been fired, forced to resign, retired or were reassigned—in some cases resulting from accusations of improper conduct or bias.

McCabe was assigned by Comey to oversee the Clinton email scandal even though just months earlier, McCabe’s wife had run for a seat in the Virginia state senate with the help of nearly $500,000 in campaign contributions from a political action committee associated with the Clintons.

Comey’s FBI is largely responsible for the prominence—and the leaking—of the notorious dossier compiled by Christopher Steele. Yet Comey did not reveal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that requests for warrants to conduct surveillance on a member of the Trump administration were based on an unverified dossier. The court was never informed that the dossier was funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Nor was the court informed that Steele, a British citizen, had been dropped as an FBI source for leaking to the press. Comey also misled the court by presenting news stories as proof of alleged Trump-Russian collusion, even though those stories were based on the contents of the unverified Steele dossier.

There has been no explanation from Comey about why, when, where and how the FBI used an informant in hopes of gaining damaging information against Trump.

Comey’s sanctimoniousness and misdeeds pose lots of questions. Is Comey a mere hypocrite? Or in guilt does he project his sins onto others? Or does he by design pose as a moralist to help insulate himself from future legal jeopardy?

Or all of the above?
-----------------
Victor Davis Hanson (@VDHanson) is a senior fellow, classicist and historian at the
and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution where many of his articles are found; his focus is classics and military history
.

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Only One Possible Conclusion: Gen. Flynn Was Railroaded

Mike Huckabee: Three-star general and President Trump’s original choice for national security advisor Michael Flynn was railroaded.

Railroaded, set up, entrapped, framed, every synonym listed in Roget’s Thesaurus. Very deliberately. That’s the only conclusion I can reach after reading Byron York’s shocking story in the Washington Examiner, which appears on the same day Gen. Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced. As bad as everything the FBI, special counsel and Democratic leadership have done, and are continuing to do, to accomplish their goal of deposing Trump, the treatment of Flynn may rank as the sorriest abuse of the Constitution to date. And that’s saying a lot.

This is not supposed to happen in the United States of America, and it is intolerable.

We learn about this through a sentencing memo filed on Tuesday by Flynn’s lawyers. It references the “302” written by then-deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe –- he has since been fired –- on the meeting two FBI officials had with Flynn --- you know, the one in which he’s accused of lying when even his interrogators said they didn’t think he had. Anyway, the 302, which normally would have been written contemporaneously while memories were fresh but for some very strange reason was prepared almost seven months after the fact, contains some information which Flynn’s lawyers were allowed to reference in their own court document. (The FBI is still refusing to release the full 302.)

Going by McCabe’s own written account, here’s how the worst day of Flynn’s life unfolded:

Around noon on January 24, 2017, when Trump had been in office just four days, Flynn got a call at his new West Wing office, on a secure phone, from McCabe. They discussed a bit of business, and then McCabe casually asked Flynn if a couple of agents could drop on by and ask him to clarify some details of Flynn’s talks with Russian officials that had taken place during the presidential transition.

We learn that in order to keep Flynn “relaxed,” McCabe, by his own account in the 302, specifically encouraged him to just casually talk to the officials by himself, WITHOUT A LAWYER. It wouldn’t be a big deal or anything like that. To further induce Flynn to keep it light and off-the-cuff, he said that if Flynn did want to include anyone else in the meeting, they’d need to involve the DOJ and it would become a bigger deal, and who wants that, right? So the unsuspecting Flynn just said some version of, “Sure, Andy, I’m just unpacking a few boxes over here and will be around, so that would be fine if they want to come on over this afternoon.”

Then, boom, the agents –- one of them the notoriously anti-Trump Peter Strzok –- arrived at Flynn’s office within two hours. Sure enough, in his report McCabe describes Flynn as “relaxed and jocular” (editorial aside: according to plan, nyah-ha-ha!) As the 302 describes, McCabe and other FBI officials had decided ahead of time that “the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned THAT GIVING THE WARNINGS MIGHT ADVERSELY AFFECT THE RAPPORT.” (Emphasis mine.)

Remember that by unmasking his name in wiretapped telephone conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak (and, later, illegally leaking this information to the Washington Post, but I digress), the agents already had the information they needed, but Flynn was left in the dark. According to the Flynn sentencing memo, “Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that if ‘Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn had used...to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said...THEY WOULD NOT CONFRONT HIM OR TALK HIM THROUGH IT.’” (Again, emphasis mine.) In other words, if they thought it was possible that Flynn had misled them, they would not try to clear it up with him. As the meeting wrapped up and they all shook hands out in the hall, Flynn apparently had no clue that he had said anything wrong. One can picture him going back to unpacking boxes and setting out pictures of his family in his new office at the White House, thinking, “Well, that’s done. What nice guys.”

The Flynn memo, citing what McCabe himself had written in the 302, said, “One of the agents reported that Gen. Flynn was ‘unguarded’ during the interview and clearly saw the FBI agents as allies.” This should send a chill up every American’s spine.

So, as Flynn’s lawyers suggest, he was caught off guard, rushed into an on-the-spot interview, misled into thinking this was not a serious conversation, and told it would be just as well --- better, in fact --- if he didn’t have a lawyer there. I would add that he didn’t have a clue about having been wiretapped. (If they’d really wanted to refresh his memory, they could have just shown him their transcript.) Flynn subsequently was indicted for lying to the FBI; lost his prestigious job and, essentially, his career; lost his house; spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees; reportedly had family members threatened with prosecution; had to move in with relatives; and faced the real possibility of going to prison.

What needs to happen NOW: the Justice Department must turn over the full 302 to House and Senate investigating committees –- which have been asking for that but which have, of course, been refused it –- and everything else relating to their handling of Gen. Flynn, including any original, contemporaneous notes made by the two officials who questioned him. The DOJ would love to run out the clock on the House committees, which have only a few weeks left of Republican leadership. As Jerrold Nadler has very openly said, once Democrats take control of the House in January, they’re immediately shutting down all non-Trump-related investigations.

Now, there’s a “government shut-down” we should all be concerned about.

This has just gone too far. When Trump’s political opponents decided that all the rules were out the window in their quest to get keep him out of office and, later, to depose him, it started taking America down. The Constitution is considered to be collateral damage; hey, these people didn’t think much of it, anyway. They reference it only when doing so suits their purposes and ignore it when it doesn’t. This set-up really does compare to something that would happen in a banana republic, not in America, and certainly not to a revered three-star general with over 30 years of service to his country.

This story is being overshadowed right now by the Michael Cohen sentencing, because that story (unlike this one) is something the anti-Trump media can have a heyday with. But it’s bubbling beneath the surface and will not go away. Expect updates as we learn more.
----------------
Mike Huckabee was a governor of Arkansas and a signatory to the Right on Crime Statement of Principles. He is a popular commentator and entertainer. You can reach Governor Huckabee through MikeHuckabee.com

Tags: Mike Huckabee, Gen. Flynn, railroaded To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Michael Cohen’s Guilty Plea On Fake Campaign Finance Violations Does Not Make Law

by Robert Romano: President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen never sought reimbursement from the 2016 Trump campaign for non-disclosure agreement payments of alleged mistresses of Trump’s. Instead, the reimbursements were sought and delivered from Trump’s business, the Trump Organization.

Cohen didn’t think these were campaign expenditures back in 2016 to settle a private matter. Yet now on a post hoc basis, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Cohen have determined that it was.

These were non-disclosure agreements that Trump would have entered into even if he had not been a candidate for public office just to protect his businesses, his reputation and his family. Trump has individual rights under the Constitution to contract with an attorney to enter into just these sorts of legal settlements with potential litigants, something Congress cannot preempt.

But the U.S. Attorney coercing Cohen’s guilty plea to campaign finance violations that were not campaign violations does not — and cannot — make law.

That is Congress’ job, and the statute is very specific. It requires that to be an expenditure under the law, 52 U.S. Code § 30101(9)(A)(i), it must be “for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.”

This was not a television, radio, newspaper, Internet or any other kind of ad for the campaign. It was not a service that was being provided to the campaign. It did not expressly advocate for or against the election of Trump in the campaign. It was not a paid endorsement or anything like that.

They advocate neither for nor against a candidate for office. They didn’t influence the election directly, which is the intent of the statute.

Put simply, it was not a campaign expenditure, Cohen’s guilty plea and 3-year sentence in federal prison notwithstanding. Anything that is not about directly advocating for the election or defeat of a candidate for public office cannot be an expenditure, or else all activities affecting a candidate’s reputation or appearance might be covered, too.

For example, if a candidate buys a nice suit with his own money the day before an important debate so that he looks good on television, that is still not a campaign expenditure that would need to be reported to the Federal Election Commission. The suit does not have the magic words written on it, “Vote for me!” The suit can be used again, for example, to be worn at church or work. So, it’s not really a campaign expenditure, even if the intent was to make the candidate look good on television for the debate. It does not actually directly influence the election, and so is not implicated by the law.

And even if an overzealous federal prosecutor brought a case against that candidate or his lawyer for buying the suit as an unreported campaign expenditure, and the defendant was dumb enough to plead guilty to the crime that wasn’t a crime, it would still not make it law.

Besides, if candidates took out donations for a campaign and ended up spending all the money on nice suits or going to expensive restaurants, that would probably be a mis-allocation of campaign resources. If they were used to settle private transactions or business, as guest radio host Larry O’Connor noted on the Mark Levin Show, it would be a violation of the very statute Cohen has now pleaded guilty to.

It can’t be that if Trump had used campaign money for the non-disclosure agreements it would have violated the law, and if he used his own money it violated the law, when by themselves the non-disclosure agreements are not illegal. Candidates do not lose their constitutional rights when they run for office.

It is not the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York’s job to make law.

Again, that is Congress’ job, and it has already done so.

Now, even if these types of non-disclosure agreements were ever somehow deemed a campaign expenditure by Congress — it would take an act of Congress to do it — unreported campaign expenditures would still be better enforced by the Federal Election Commission, and have been for years, and are often settled with fines, not malicious prosecutions.

And certainly not impeachments. That’s not a high crime.

Of course, nobody cares about what precedent might be set by these cases. Or what the law says. It’s all about getting Trump, even if it means making up a law and prosecuting him or his associates for violating the fake law. What a joke.
---------------
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Tags: Robert Romano, Americans for Limited Government, Michael Cohen, Guilty Plea, Fake Campaign Finance Violations, Does Not Make Law To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Paul Ryan Leaves Behind Big Budget Deficits and Ballooning Debt

. . . Beyond failing in his goal to shrink the federal deficit, the House speaker is leaving the budget in a precarious state.
Paul Ryan
by Anna Edgerton: When Paul Ryan became speaker of the House in 2015, the federal budget deficit was $438 billion. He blamed the “failed policies of President Obama” for budget deficits that had exploded to $1.4 trillion in 2009, the year after the Great Recession, though shortfalls began shrinking in the following years and were continuing to fall as Ryan took the gavel.

Today, with Ryan preparing to retire from Congress, the annual federal budget deficit is again approaching $1 trillion. Over his two decades in Congress, the total national debt increased from less than $6 trillion to nearly $22 trillion. Yet the years of his speakership saw no new foreign conflict or recession that forced the government to live beyond its means. The problem was a Republican-led Congress that pushed a small-government agenda only in part. When President Trump took office, he embraced tax cuts but rejected structural spending overhauls. But even he complained about the spending bill Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought him last year, which met Democrats’ demands for more domestic spending to keep up with the $716 billion Republicans pledged for defense in 2019 without imposing discipline in other areas to compensate.

The GOP’s departure from Ryan’s professed brand of conservatism is all but complete, with Republicans often accepting, while occasionally bemoaning, Trump’s withdrawal from fiscal restraint, free trade, and public civility. The increasing rancor of American politics makes it almost impossible to conjure the political courage necessary to make the tough compromises that would reverse these spending trends, which get more complicated to address the longer they continue. “It’s a great irony that not just Paul Ryan but Republicans who claim they care so much about the deficit have now presided over huge increases in the budget deficit,” says Chris Van Hollen, now a Maryland senator, who was the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee in 2013, when Ryan was chairman. “It’s going to take, unfortunately, a long time to get back on a path to fiscal sustainability, because they just blew another $2 trillion hole in our debt.”

Legislation passed in fiscal year 2018 accounts for almost half the $973 billion projected budget deficit for 2019, says the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group. The U.S. gross domestic product is projected to increase 2.9 percent this year, according to Bloomberg data, thanks in part to this debt-financed fiscal stimulus. A growing economy does bring in more tax revenue, but not nearly enough to offset the cost of the tax cuts and additional spending. The world’s other developed countries are using this period of expansion to get their debt under control, says Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and policy director for the CRFB: “The growth of the economy is great—the problem is we’re not taking advantage of the growth to put our fiscal house in order.”

The U.S. financial system can digest a higher debt-to-GDP ratio, because global investors have faith in the Treasury’s assets, Goldwein adds. But markets move fast, and just a slight slip in confidence could become even more dangerous with a heavier debt load. “The best-case scenario is that current deficits are really eating up domestic investment—which they are—and will continue to slow our economic growth. Worst-case scenario or scariest scenario, we’re heading for a debt-driven financial crisis,” he says.

This is the opposite of where Ryan has said he wanted to leave the country after his two decades in Congress. At a December event sponsored by the Washington Post, he stated that his goal in rolling back regulation and rewriting the tax code was to “build up the country’s resilience, its antibodies, its health, its strength.”

Yet even some of Ryan’s own party members warn that the country’s balance sheet is in no shape to cushion a financial crisis, or even a cyclical downturn. Mark Sanford, a Republican representative from South Carolina, grudgingly voted for last year’s tax cuts but has taken the administration to task for abandoning conservative fiscal discipline. Sanford is a cautionary tale for Republicans who question the new GOP orthodoxy of loyalty to Trump: He lost his primary after Trump tweeted his support for challenger Katie Arrington, who’d pledged total commitment to the president’s agenda. (Arrington, however, went on to lose in the general election to Joe Cunningham, a moderate Democrat and ocean engineer.)

“I think it’s the three monkeys in Washington—I hear no evil, I speak no evil, I see no evil—about the reality of $1 trillion deficits that will frankly explode in the economic downturn,” Sanford now says. “The only thing that pulls us back is financial necessity, and I don’t think financial necessity is that far away.”

David Hoppe, Ryan’s first chief of staff as speaker, says Trump doesn’t reason like a typical politician and has no interest in fiscal discipline. Republicans did what they had to do to score wins on tax cuts, rolling back regulation, and confirming conservative judges. Ryan “made a decision, as did Senator McConnell,” he says. “They sacrificed trying to control Trump for trying to do some big things, and I think that’s a balance that one has to look at when one reviews this Congress.”

Not all who placed their hopes in Ryan are willing to be so charitable. “He was dealt a weak hand, and I think he played it mediocrely,” says Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “I’m so conflicted between disappointment and sympathy, and I’m not sure how history is going to judge him, because it’s going to be whiplash between those two poles.”

Ryan has been coy about his post-Congress plans, but he’s pledged to stay engaged on issues such as making entitlement programs more efficient and effective, even if he no longer holds elected office. Lanhee Chen, who was policy director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign when Ryan was on the ticket as the candidate for vice president, says Ryan tried to stay true to his “core values” in a political environment that wasn’t conducive to civility and fiscal discipline. “I think in an ideal world he would have wanted more,” Chen says. “But we don’t live in an ideal world.”

BOTTOM LINE - Ryan sacrificed his hard-line stance on the deficit to focus on corporate tax cuts and other priorities. America’s economic resilience may suffer as a result.
-------------
Anna Edgerton (@annaedge4) is a reporter for Bloomberg.

Tags: Anna Edgerton, Bloomberg, Paul Ryan, big budget deficits, blooming debt To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Hidden Agenda . . .

. . . Pelosi and Schumer want no cameras around to expose their open border agenda while talking border security with President Trump.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: AF Branco, editorial cartoon, hidden agenda, Pelosi, Schumer, open border agenda. President Trump, border security To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Let’s Not Entirely Cede Cryptocurrenci To Already-Dominant Communist China

by Seton Motley, Contributing Author: We have oft documented the decades’ worth of really awful trade deals in which the United States has participated. Chief country amongst the many with whom we’ve cut really awful deals – is, of course, Communist China.

Our very stupid trade deals have bled millions of jobs from US to China. China in some instances took nigh entire sectors away from us (Hello, manufacturing).

God bless President Donald Trump for addressing the dragon in the room (dragon seems more China-appropriate than elephant). In two years he has revamped many trade deals and reversed much of this awful job outsourcing trend.

But many of those jobs – are today’s and tomorrow’s jobs. Eventually, more and more manufacturing will be automated. (Though I am highly dubious of any major robot takeovers any time soon.)

We are now in the very early stages of the Information Economy. Where more and more the tangible will give way to the intangible. We must also keep China from dominating that sphere.

We already know China loves to warp the financial sector to its advantage. They manipulate their currency (the Renminbi, commonly referred to as the Yuan) so as to artificially inflate the prices of their exports – and conversely lower the price of goods they import.

Entrepreneurial people who don’t like these sorts of centralized, government-controlled money manipulation and pernicious, overlording control – have been looking for ways around it.

To wit: Cryptocurrency (or altcoin):

“A cryptocurrency (or crypto currency) is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets.

“Cryptocurrencies are a kind of alternative currency and digital currency (of which virtual currency is a subset). Cryptocurrencies use decentralized control as opposed to centralized digital currency and central banking systems.

“The decentralized control of each cryptocurrency works through distributed ledger technology, typically a blockchain, that serves as a public financial transaction database.”

The most commonly known cryptocurrency is BitCoin. But to paraphrase the old saying:

“All BitCoin is cryptocurrency – but not all cryptocurrency is BitCoin.”

Of course, Communist China is most aware of the cryptocurrency movement. And they have been working to block any and all cryptocurrency end-arounds – by trying to monopoly-lockdown the entire global cryptocurrency market.

To wit: Hash power:

“Everything in our lives that performs work is measured in units of work over time. Cars travel in miles per hour. Your fitness tracker measures your heart’s beats per minute. The same is true of altcoins and their ‘hash power.’…

“Remember that all altcoins are networks. Everybody who has a proper ‘client’ for the altcoin, AKA a node, is contributing some computing power to keeping the network going. The more nodes you have and the more computing power those nodes are contributing to the network in a given ten-minute span, the higher the overall “hash power” or “hash rate” of the altcoin’s network.

“What does ‘hash power’ do? It mines or mints new altcoins, calculates the blocks, processes the transactions that are added to the blockchain, and so on. So the higher the hash power, the more efficiently and cost-effectively the network operates. This is why bitcoin miners spend thousands on high-end graphics cards, as it lets them process more transactions that much faster.”

So no hash power – no cryptocurrency.

And guess who’s dominating hash power? Why, Communist China, of course.

Why the Biggest Bitcoin Mines Are in China:

“Bitmain (is) a Chinese firm headquartered in Beijing that is arguably the most important company in the Bitcoin industry. Bitmain sells Bitcoin mining rigs – the specialized computers that keep the cryptocurrency running and that produce, or ‘mine,’ new bitcoins for their owners….

“Jihan Wu, the CEO of Bitmain, claims that 70 percent of the Bitcoin mining rigs in operation today were made by his company. And, according to a study conducted last winter by the University of Cambridge, in England, it’s likely that most of those machines are plugged into an outlet somewhere in China.”

And guess who is already using their market domination to warp the system? Why, Communist China, of course.

Research: China Has the Power to Destroy Bitcoin:

“… and it’s already manipulating the network.

“A damning new study has suggested China holds threatening influence over Bitcoin – and perhaps even the ability to attack and ultimately destroy the entire Bitcoin network.

“Academics from Princeton and Florida International Universities have explored how China ‘threatens the security, stability, and viability of Bitcoin’ with its ‘political and economic control over domestic [cryptocurrency] activity […] [and] internet infrastructure.

“China has both ‘mature capabilities’ and ‘strong motives’ to perform a variety of attacks against Bitcoin. Even worse, it is already exerting its power over Bitcoin in a myriad of ways.

“‘As the value and economic utility of Bitcoin have grown, so has the incentive to attack it,’ the researchers explain. ‘We singled out China for analysis because they are the most powerful potential adversary to Bitcoin, and we found that they have a variety of salient motives for attacking the system and a number of mature capabilities, both regulatory and technical, to carry out those attacks.’”

Of course if China is doing all this to BitCoin – you know they’re at least looking to do it to every cryptocurrency there is.

What can we do to counteract Communist China’s massive cryptocurrency head start? We can begin by not stupidly over-regulating cryptocurrency here.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had been regulating cryptocurrencies as monetary transactions. Which, of course, they are. This is the correct, light-touch regulatory approach.

But then….

The SEC Just Made It Clearer that Securities Laws Apply to Most Cryptocurrencies and Exchanges Trading Them

Danger, Will Robinson. “Securities” – are stocks. Cryptocurrencies – are absolutely not stocks. To impose this abusive, heavy-handed regulatory framework upon US cryptocurrencies – would be to smother the entire US cryptocurrency sector in the crib.

Because as anyone not totally ruined by government school and/or ideology can tell you – more government means less investment.

If we over-regulate – especially to the “securities” degree – we crush any hopes of the very major investment we need.

Thereby handing Communist China the win – by default.


We already have tons of China-catching-up-to-do on cryptocurrencies.

Let’s not have our government hobble us – before we can even really begin to try.
----------------
Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Please feel free to follow him him on Twitter   /   Facebook.

Tags: Seton Motley, Less Government, Let’s Not Entirely Cede, Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Dominant Communist China To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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