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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)

Friday, January 26, 2018

John Kerry Violated the Logan Act: Told Palestinians Trump Would Be Out In A Year

by Dick Morris: Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Palestinian leaders to “hold on and be strong,” resisting President Donald Trump’s policies.

The former Secretary of State told the Palestinian leaders that within a year, there was a good chance that Trump would be out of office.

In the meantime, Kerry said Abbas should “stay strong in his spirit and play for time.”

He said Abbas must “not break” and make clear that he will “not yield to President Trump’s demands.”

Kerry met, in London, with Hussein Agha, a close associate of Palestinian President Mahmout Abbas and told him to ignore President Trump’s demands for a Mideast peace.

In a clear violation of the Logan Act that prohibits private citizens from conducting foreign policy, Kerry told Agha to pass onto Abbas the message to stand firm.

Kerry’s conversations were clear violations of the Logan Act and he should be prosecuted.

The Act was passed in 1802 and was passed to prevent US citizens from undercutting the government’s foreign policy.

The Act is the underpinning of the case against former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn.

Gen. Flynn was forced to resign because, three weeks before he took office and while therefore still a private citizen, he had called the Russian ambassador to urge him not to respond to President Barack Obama’s sanctions on Russia, implying that when he took office, Trump might ease the sanctions.

While Kerry was out of office with no plans to return and was truly a private citizen, Flynn was clearly speaking as the National Security Advisor-designate biding his time before he became an official spokesman and formulator of U.S. foreign policy.

Telling a foreign leader to “wait out” the policy of a sitting U.S. president not only violates the letter of the Logan Act, but its spirit as well.

If we allow all former government officials to use their prestige to undermine administration policy and tell foreign leaders to ignore it or act counter to it, we will be working at cross purposes with ourselves.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions should launch an investigation of former Secretary Kerry’s comments so incidents like this don’t take place in the future.
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Richard "Dick" Morris is an American political author and commentator who previously worked as a pollster, political campaign consultant, and general political consultant. He has worked on both sides of politics for candidates and his articles can be found at DickMorris.com and at The Western Journal

Tags: Dick Morris, Commentary, DickMorris.com, John Kerry, Violating the Logan Act, Told Palestinians, Donald Trump, Would Be out in a Year To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

What the News Media Has Missed: Trump’s “Thousand Step” Progress on Health Reform

by Newt Gingrich: Don’t look now, but the President and Congressional Republicans are making progress on their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with a more affordable, flexible, and dynamic health system.

This news will likely come as a surprise. As far as the news media is concerned, the failure to pass the American Health Care Act in the Senate means that health care has been a zone of failure for the President.

What they have missed is an administration-wide health reform effort, enhanced by congressional action, that will lower costs, increase access, and improve health outcomes.

Because this new strategy doesn’t fit the news media’s focus, it has been routinely ignored. The diverse nature of the many small steps underway has made it hard for analysts and reporters to understand how important they are.

It has always been a mistake to think the health system can be fixed in one giant step.

Health costs are about 18 percent of the largest economy in the world. Health is also the most deeply dependent on science and technology of any field of human endeavor. No one is smart enough to fix a system that big and that complex in one giant reform.

The Trump team has recognized that a broad-based approach that has many small steps moving in the same general direction is much more likely to succeed than staying focused on one giant step which, even if you could get it through the Congress, would still leave you needing many small reforms.

The results are already very impressive.

At the Food and Drug Administration, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has introduced dramatic steps to speed the approval of generic drugs. Generic drugs dramatically reduce costs for patients. They account for about 90 percent of all prescriptions filled but only around 25 percent of total spending on prescription drugs. This means that speeding the approval of generic drugs is among the most effective ways to make medicine more affordable.

Under President Trump and Commissioner Gottlieb’s leadership, the FDA has moved away from a “first come-first serve” model of generic drug approval to prioritizing the applications of generics which would serve as alternatives to brand name drugs with fewer than three generic competitors. They are also prioritizing approval for generic alternatives to complex, expensive drugs as well as streamlining the overall generic drug approval process.

The efforts are clearly working. In October 2017, the FDA approved 101 generic drugs – more in a single month than ever before.

At the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Administrator Seema Verma has taken additional steps to save consumers money on their co-pays and out of pocket costs.

Over the objection of the hospital lobby, CMS announced badly needed reforms to the 340B drug discount program. The program mandates that drug manufacturers sell participating hospitals Medicare Part B drugs (used to treat cancer and other serious conditions) at a discount. Medicare then reimburses the hospitals at full price, and the hospital gets to pocket the difference.

The intent of this program is noble – to help hospitals who serve poor populations. However, the program has dramatically expanded in recent years, and studies have shown that in many of the participating hospitals, very little of the savings are reaching poor patients.

CMS’s announcement that it would cut the reimbursement rate for those drugs will save taxpayers money, and it will also reduce co-pays for Medicare patients who usually pay a percentage of the price Medicare pays.

In addition, CMS introduced a proposed rule for Medicare Part D to ensure that any discounts that drug manufactures negotiate with pharmacy benefit managers are passed on to seniors in the form of lower out-of-pocket costs.

The administration has also taken steps to prevent future price gouging scandals like the infamous Martin Shkreli price hike of an AIDS drug from $13.50 a pill to $750, by identifying the drugs most vulnerable to pricing abuse.

President Trump has also moved beyond opposing Obamacare and has begun to develop a better system for the future. What replaces Obamacare is at least as important as voting to repeal it.

Replacing Obamacare requires a lot of specific steps to return to a market-based, decentralized system in 50 different states. The Trump Administration and its Republican allies in Congress have been working diligently in that direction.

At the Department of Labor, Secretary Alexander Acosta issued proposed rules which would dramatically expand the availability of Association Health Plans. These plans could be national and regional, allowing for the sale of insurance across state lines, but critically still maintain state autonomy in regulating insurance – which will help police against fraud. Some of the details of the rules may need to be improved to prevent insurance companies from cherry-picking healthy customers, but overall this represents a potentially game-changing reform that could have huge cost saving implications for small business owners and the self-employed.

The Trump Administration has also allowed insurers to continue offering “grandmothered” plans created prior to Obamacare, maintaining these lower cost plans for long-time customers. This saved many small businesses and self-employed people a lot of money and anxiety which would have been caused by the Obamacare plan to force them into the government system even if they were happy with their current plan.

In addition, the Trump Administration fixed a number of loopholes in the Obamacare enrollment rules, which some customers had been using to game the system to avoid paying their premiums and wait until they got sick to get coverage, by claiming they qualified for a “Special Enrollment Period.” This fraud drove up prices for everyone. The Trump Administration issued new rules that fixed a number of these problems.

President Trump also made it easier for people to shop for health insurance without using the Healthcare.gov website. For 2019 enrollment, customers can fully use the insurer websites, as well as aggregators like ehealthinsurance.com. All of this increases convenience, expands choice, and makes lower costs possible.

Finally, just last week, Congress enacted a key reform which flew almost completely under the media’s radar. The Continuing Resolution passed to reopen the government this week suspended the health insurance tax for one year, the device tax for two years, and delayed the Cadillac tax until 2022, all of which were part of Obamacare. All of these taxes were simply passed on to patients in the form of higher premiums, so each of these steps will save patients money.

A lot more reform is coming. For example, Republicans in Congress are working on a bipartisan basis to pass some additional market stabilization measures in the next few weeks. They were part of both the House and Senate versions of AHCA. This single step could lead to a 15 percent reduction in premiums for 2019 – another big win for the consumer and tax payer.

These steps show that just as the Trump Administration has an intense focus on jobs and take-home pay. It also is developing a clear focus on access, cost, and the quality of health care. The Trump team understands that it doesn’t work to have a tax cut and increased take-home pay if the cost of health care rises faster than take-home pay. The practical reality of developing new and better approaches to health and health care is a key to the general success of the Trump Administration.

In the long run, the 1,000-step approach of practical reform will prove vastly more effective than either Obamacare or Sanderscare with their focus on sweeping giant government bureaucracies.

This progress in health care is one more example of the impressive results of the Trump Administration’s first year.
----------------------
Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions.

Tags: Newt Gingrich, commentary, News Media Has Missed, President Trump, Thousand Step Progress, Health Reform To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

FDA! Stop Blocking Products That Help Smokers Quit

by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: Yesterday, the FDA's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee held a terribly dissapointing vote that could seriously complicate efforts to put alternative products on the shelf to help cigarette smokers quit. This vote had little to do with the actual science behind these products, and everything to do with the internal politics of a bureacracy routinely one step behind on matters pertaining to consumer health.

During the height of the Ebola crisis in 2014, an article in the New York Post noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "routinely drags its feet on the approval of products critical for the prevention or treatment of fatal diseases."

You may already know that the FDA's slow, bureaucratic, approval process too often delays potentially life-saving drugs – but the FDA's inefficiencies aren't just limited to drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration also drags its feet on approving new products that could potentially benefit consumers.

As President Trump continues scaling back regulations, the web of government red-tape within the FDA should be on the chopping block as well.

One product category that remains stuck in FDA purgatory is modified-risk tobacco devices, which were designed to provide consumers with an alternative to cigarettes that delivers nicotine without the products of combustion that are responsible for most of the health risks of smoking. Even though consumers in Canada, Europe, Russia, and other nations have the choice to purchase these products, the FDA has yet to approve devices that can potentially reduce smoking deaths.

It's time to drain the regulatory swamp at the FDA. I hope you will join me in demanding that the FDA give Americans more freedom to choose the drugs, foods, and products that they buy.

Tell the FDA to stop delaying new products from reaching consumer shelves!
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Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment Foundation. Follow him at (@kerpen) and on Facebook. He is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Phil Kerpen, American Commitment, FDA,  blocking products, that help smokers, quit smoking, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Election Agenda

by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: You have probably seen campaign yard signs popping up in your neighborhood. That is a vivid reminder that we are headed to another election season. The general election isn’t until November, but party primary elections will be taking place in the next few months.

What will be the agenda for the candidates for these political parties? The Republican agenda should be fairly easy to predict. Incumbents will point to the recently passed tax reform bill and ask to be reelected to focus on unfinished business like health care reform and welfare reform. Other Republican candidates may argue that they should be put in office instead of career politicians so we can “drain the swamp.”

The agenda for Democrats isn’t so easy to predict. They can point to wins in Virginia and Alabama. They say President Trump is unpopular. But they don’t really have an agenda that would make people want to vote for their candidates.

Some have suggested that the current debate about DACA and dreamers will be a possible item on the Democratic agenda. Matthew Continetti in a recent column explains why that won’t be an effective strategy. A Pew poll that surveyed public priorities ranked immigration fifteenth. The top three items were terrorism (76%), the economy (73%), and education (69%). It is also worth mentioning that the debate about the status of dreamers will be resolved (one way or the other) long before the November elections.

Running against the president and the Republican leadership in Congress isn’t a very compelling reason for potential voters to turn out in an off year election. Matthew Continetti says the Democratic policy cupboard is empty. “There was no alternative Democratic health care bill, no alternative Democratic tax bill.”

This isn’t the first time both Republican and Democratic candidates have tried to run on an agenda of obstruction. I think voters are looking for more.
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Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous stations via the Point of View Network endorsed by Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

Tags: Kerby Anderson, Viewpoints, Point of View. eletions, agenda To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Donald In Davos, Good News, Deal Or No Deal, Never Again

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Donald In Davos - When President Trump announced he was going to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, many on the left and some of his "#NeverTrump" critics mocked him. Some said Trump had deceived his base in Middle America. Others suggested he was going to insult the world.

Well, the president addressed the Forum today and neither of those things happened. He spoke to a bunch of people who would like open borders and global government, but Trump made it very clear that he was not part of that gang.

As he has said many times, he is president of the United States, not president of the world. He said, "I'm here to represent the interests of the American people and affirm America's friendship and partnership in building a better world."

Far from what his critics alleged, Trump neither sold us out nor did he attack every other nation. He trumpeted the success of tax reform (more on that below) and declared, "There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States. America is open for business and we are competitive once again."

President Trump extolled the virtues of democratic capitalism, but he pointedly said that a nation was more than just its GDP. It is also, he said, "the sum of its citizens, the values, pride, love, devotion and character of the people who call that nation home."

You can watch .

By the way, many commentators have noted that Donald Trump caused more of a stir at Davos than anyone since . Angelina Jolie caused a big stir? What does that say about the Davos crowd and the media that covers it?

Good News - Add Home Depot to the long list of businesses offering bonuses and bigger paychecks to their workers. According to the latest tally, 250 companies are boosting wages and benefits for more than 3 million workers as a result of President Trump's historic tax reform plan. The stock market is in record territory again today.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of small business owners believe the president's policies are helping them, and they are responding accordingly.

Keep in mind, my friends, that Barack Obama and the Democrats could have done this at any time when they controlled Congress and the White House. But they didn't. Instead, we got a socialized healthcare scheme and eight years of the worst economic growth in decades.

And don't forget that every single Democrat voted against the president's tax reform plan. Remember that in November!

Deal Or No Deal? The White House put an immigration reform deal on the table yesterday. At first glance, it includes many ideas that polled well in a recent Harvard survey -- help for DACA recipients, an end to chain migration and the diversity visa lottery, as well as $25 billion for serious border security measures, including a wall.

However, many on the left and the right are unhappy with the deal, and I think it is very revealing what the objections are.

Conservatives are objecting because they believe in the rule of law and feel that any kind of quasi-amnesty still sends a bad message to those eager to enter the country illegally.

Moreover, in what the White House describes as an "extraordinarily generous concession," the plan goes well beyond the DACA recipients, which presents many additional concerns.

The left is outraged because it does not want to limit immigration in any way. It does not want to end chain migration, and it does not want to secure our borders. The left wants open borders. It wants millions of future Democrats to pour into the country legally or otherwise.

We will see what happens next, but I think the White House just brilliantly exposed the extremism of the party of Pelosi and Schumer. The left sees illegal immigrants as "dreamers" while it castigates American citizens as "deplorables."

Never Again - On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz, revealing some of the worst horrors of the Holocaust. More than one million people were systematically murdered at Auschwitz. Nearly all of them were Jews, killed as part of Hitler's "final solution to the Jewish question," which ultimately claimed six million Jewish lives.

In 2005, as then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was threatening a second Holocaust by vowing to "wipe Israel off the map," the United Nations voted to recognize January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Below are excerpts of President Trump's proclamation recognizing this somber anniversary.

"Tomorrow marks the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death and concentration camp in Poland. We take this opportunity to recall the Nazis' systematic persecution and brutal murder of six million Jewish people. . .

"Our Nation is indebted to the Holocaust's survivors. . . Although they are aging and their numbers are slowly dwindling, their stories remain with us, giving us the strength to combat intolerance, including anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry and discrimination.

"Every generation must learn and apply the lessons of the Holocaust to prevent new horrors against humanity from occurring. . . We must remain vigilant to protect the fundamental rights and inherent dignity of every human being.

"On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we acknowledge this dark stain on human history and vow to never let it happen again."

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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

Tags: Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, Donald In Davos, Good News, Deal Or No Deal, Never Again To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Did John Kerry Advise Palestinian Leader Abbas To Wait Out Trump?

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry meets
with Palestinian Authority chairman
Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in 2013.
by Patrick Goodenough: Former Secretary of State John Kerry is under fire for allegedly urging Palestinian leaders to hold firm against President Trump’s demands because he won’t be in office for long.

But former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday he doubted Kerry would have given such “anti-American” and “stunningly unpatriotic” advice to the Palestinians.

Kerry has not responded publicly to claims, first reported by the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, that he made the comments during a recent meeting in London with Hussein Agha, a longstanding confidante of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Agha reportedly briefed P.A. officials in Ramallah afterwards on the wide-ranging conversation.

According to the report Kerry told his interlocutor to advise Abbas to “hold on and be strong” and not to yield to Trump’s demands, suggesting the president may not be in White House for much longer.

Kerry also reportedly told Agha that if Trump does last a full first term, he may mount another White House run in 2020. Kerry was the Democratic Party’s nominee in the 2004 presidential election, when he lost to President George W. Bush.

The former secretary of state was quoted as advising that Abbas present a “positive” peace initiative of his own, for which Kerry would work to garner support.

And he allegedly counseled Abbas, via Agha, to direct his criticism not at the U.S. or the administration, but at Trump personally, on the grounds that the president was solely responsible for the current situation.

Trump angered the Palestinians and their supporters last month by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and signaling plans to move the U.S. Embassy to the city. In a recent speech, Abbas attacked Trump, employing an Arabic curse translated as “may his house be razed.”

Agha, a Lebanese academic and author, is a senior associate of Oxford University’s St. Antony’s College who was deeply involved in previous behind-the-scenes Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives. Attempts to reach him for comment on the reported conversation with Kerry were unsuccessful.

Reacting to the reports, the Republican Jewish Coalition called Kerry’s alleged actions “reckless.”

“John Kerry failed for four years as secretary of state to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. Now he wants a second bite of the apple, a bite the American people chose not to give him when they rejected the Obama/Kerry foreign policy in 2016,” said RJC executive director Matt Brooks.

“John Kerry is no longer a representative of the American people and his action – conducting a shadow foreign policy – is reckless and undermines the possibility of achieving peace,” he said. “The American people chose President Trump, in part, because he promised to pivot away from the failed policies of John Kerry."

Former House Speaker Gingrich said Thursday he doubted Kerry would have made the comments attributed to him.

“That would surprise me. Kerry knows, as former secretary of state, former U.S. senator, that that kind of advice would be stunningly unpatriotic,” Gingrich told the “Fox and Friends” program. “And I don’t think that John Kerry would do something like that. I hope he wouldn’t.”

He added that he would be “very, very surprised” if Kerry had “said anything that was that overtly anti-American.”

As for the possibility of a Kerry 2020 run, Gingrich also said he’d be “perfectly happy” about that. “The more Democrats who decide that they’ll run for president the better off we’re going to be in 2020. I think Trump will beat any of them so it doesn’t concern me very much.”

‘Messianic fervor’
During his four-year tenure at the helm of the State Department Kerry worked energetically to advance Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Months after becoming secretary of state in early 2013, Kerry met with Arab government ministers in Jordan, and was told that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute was the “core” reason for regional instability.

Despite the raging Syrian civil war, spreading jihadist violence in Iraq and a military takeover in Egypt following months of violent protests against a Muslim Brotherhood president, Kerry did not publicly challenge the claim.

Instead, he told reporters after the meeting that many ministers had told him “that the core issue of instability in this region and in many other parts of the world is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Shortly thereafter Kerry launched a concerted effort to kick start talks between Israel and the P.A., but after nine months the initiative collapsed in April 2014.

Israel’s then-defense minister was reprimanded by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for saying that Kerry was driven by “messianic fervor” in his efforts to promote peace talks – a view likely shared by others in the Israeli establishment.

In the closing weeks of Obama’s term, Kerry defended the administration’s decision not to veto a controversial U.N. Security Council resolution which described areas disputed between Israelis and Palestinians – including eastern Jerusalem, home to Judaism’s most sacred site – as “occupied Palestinian territory.”

Kerry said the administration’s main objective in allowing the measure to pass was “to preserve the possibility of the two-state solution, which every U.S. administration for decades has agreed is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

In fact the two-state solution was not U.S. policy for “decades.” The first U.S. president to publicly declare support for an independent Palestinian state was George W. Bush, in a 2002 speech that reversed more than four decades of American policy.
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Patrick Goodenough covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining CNSNews.com in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for CNSNews.com in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as CNSNews International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by international stringers.

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Obama Vs. Trump: Who Really Colluded With Russia?

. . . Trump didn’t collude with Russia. Obama did.
Mr. Medvedev, who steps down in May, 2012 said he would pass on Mr. Obams's message to his successor Vladimir Putin, according to an audio recording of comments the two leaders made during a meeting in Seoul, South Korea.
Mr Obama says: "On all these issues, but particularly missile defence, this, this can be solved but it's important for him to give me space."
Mr Medvedev replies: "Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you …"
Mr Obama retorts: "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility."

by Daniel Greenfield: September 2009.  Obama hadn’t even been in office for a whole year when he gave in to Moscow’s biggest demand by dropping the missile defense shield for Poland and the Czech Republic. During his campaign, he had enthusiastically backed the defensive program, declaring, “We have to send a clear signal that Poland and other countries in that region are not going to be subject to intimidation and aggression.”

Like all of his campaign promises that were based on political triangulation, law enforcement, counterterrorism, Jerusalem and gay marriage, it was a campaign lie to be thrown out after the election.

Putin praised Obama’s sellout of our allies as a “brave decision.” In his first year, President Trump touted the sale of Patriot missiles to Poland. That was a truly brave decision.

After the Russian invasion, Obama refused to provide Ukraine with military assistance. While he had handed out weapons to Islamist terrorists in Syria and Libya, the Ukrainians were only offered MREs. The same administration that covertly shipped a fortune in foreign currency on unmarked cargo planes to Russia’s Iranian allies took months to meet Ukrainian requests for boots and spare tires.

The Trump administrated unapologetically approved the sale of sniper rifles to the Ukrainians.

“I’m aware of not only the extraordinary work that you’ve done on behalf of the Russian people," Obama had gushed during his meeting with Putin. There were no protests from the same media that has since then repeatedly suggested that Trump’s praise for Putin indicated a soft spot for dictators.

Looking back at Obama’s first year and Trump’s first year, it’s easy to assess who was giving Moscow more. It wasn’t just missile defense. In the spring of ’09, Hillary was in Moscow toting a misspelled Reset Button swiped from a swimming pool. But it was Obama who had first urged a “reset or reboot”. That was the month he sent a secret hand-delivered letter to Russia offering to kill the missile shield. The Russians turned down his proposed deal, but he went through with the appeasement anyway.

Trashing missile defense was just one step in a larger effort to revive Jimmy Carter’s defense policies. In his first year, Obama began the push to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. CTBT would have allowed the Russians (and everyone else) to build up their nuclear arsenals while crippling our own. The new START treaty was drafted in ’09 and signed next year. And Russian violations of it were ignored.

It took a new administration to change that.

In his first phone call with Putin, President Trump blasted the START treaty as a bad deal that gave Moscow a free ride. Next month, the Pentagon officially came out and said what everyone knew.

This was a sharp contrast with the previous administration which had refused to detail Russian violations. It falsely claimed that it couldn’t answer the question because “the New START treaty forbids releasing to the public data and information obtained during implementation of the treaty.”

Before the Iran deal, the Russia deal had been Obama’s legacy. And the same lies, echo chambers and spin that would be used to cover up Iranian violations were being deployed to mask Russian violations.

The Russians couldn’t have been too surprised at Trump holding their feet to the fire. Trump had blasted the START treaty during the third presidential debate while Hillary Clinton had rambled on about cyberattacks. The Russians would have been far more concerned about nukes than keyboards.

That was the same debate where Hillary Clinton had accused Trump of being Putin’s “puppet”.

But if that’s true, where are the concessions and the appeasement? Every tangible foreign policy issue that the commentariat at conspiratorial lefty media outlets like the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and ThinkProgress had seized on as evidence of Trump’s collusion has come up short.

Remember when Trump was secretly conspiring to lift sanctions for Exxon-Mobil’s Russian drilling project?

"Could Massive Russian Oil Deal with Exxon Explain Why Putin Appears to Have Meddled in US Election?", Democracy Now shrieked. "Trump-Putin Bromance: Election Hacking, Oil Drilling," the Huffington Post caterwauled

ThinkProgress made them seem restrained. "Trump, Putin, and ExxonMobil team up to destroy the planet.”

"Pick of Exxon CEO for Secretary of State clarifies why Putin wanted Trump elected: a $500 billion oil deal killed by sanctions," the sub yammered. Trump, Putin and oil represented "the gravest threat to humanity (and democracy) since the rise of the Axis powers".

Just one problem. Trump refused to let the deal happen. So much for that conspiracy theory.

Seizing on the potential Exxon deal was an act of desperation. The left was quick to juggle Russia collusion theories, but had trouble coming up with anything that Russia actually got from Trump.

Not only wasn’t there anything like Obama’s Year One windfall of appeasement, but Moscow was getting nothing but trouble. The new National Defense Strategy lists Russia as a major threat. It’s a return to the Republican view of Russia as a geopolitical threat that Obama had mocked Romney for.

The Washington Post, which boasts a new Russia-Trump conspiracy theory every five hours, responded by claiming that Trump’s policy of confronting Russia is exactly what Vladimir Putin wants. "Trump's strategy pushes confrontation with Russia, and Moscow is pleased," a Post op-ed declared.

What better evidence could there be that Trump is Putin’s puppet than that he’s standing up to him?

The new Russia conspiracy meme borrows the old Obama spin on Iran and ISIS which accused critics of “playing into their hands” by trying to fight them, instead of appeasing them. It was classic Orwellian spin. “Weakness is strength”, “lies are truth” and “opposition is collusion”. But it said something about the weakness of the collusion reality that the Post was forced to rely on such weak Rhodes-ian spin.

What had Trump done for Russia? Well he stood up to it. And that’s exactly what Putin wants.

The media’s case for collusion comes down to the hacking of Democrat emails. But while having Podesta’s missives exposed to daylight was clearly a traumatic event for the Dems, it’s not exactly up there with letting the Russians have a free hand in Europe. Or letting its Iranian allies go nuclear.

The media has blasted us with headlines about the meeting between Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer about the Magnitsky Act. But a year later, the Magnitsky Act is doing just fine. There’s been no review. Obama had singlehandedly dismantled the Cuban embargo. If Trump had really wanted to, the sanctions on Russia would be a memory. But instead the sanctions keep on coming.

The media made much of Trump's signing statement to CAATSA criticizing its intrusion on his authority. Obama had repeatedly made similar objections, though using very different rhetoric, in signing statements to previous bills. When the administration missed the October 1 sanctions deadline, the media again rolled out the conspiracy theories. “The Trump administration is delaying Russia sanctions that Congress demanded,” Vox bleated. The sanctions were sent in the very next day.

The media has come to specialize in spinning conspiracy theories out of process. It’s safer to focus on the trees, because then they don’t have to notice that there’s no forest. But it’s a sign of just how little it has to work with when it comes to real life policy as opposed to the conspiracy theories of its bubble.

“What did Putin want from Trump and what did he actually get?” a Newsweek article inquires. It’s forced to conclude that the answer is nothing. Russia received a whole lot from Obama in his first year. Trump has dealt it a series of setbacks instead. Newsweek concludes that Putin helped elect Trump, but got nothing in return. That would make Putin rather stupid. And no one has yet accused him of that.

But that’s what the current collusion conspiracy theories of the left have irrationally been reduced to. Putin helped elect Trump. And got nothing from Trump for it. Now it’s time to impeach Trump anyway.

Backing Trump never made any sense. Republicans have traditionally been more hostile to Russia. And Trump’s entire pitch was nationalism. Nationalist leaders in small countries might collaborate with Putin, but the nationalist leader of the United States could only end up on a collision course with Russia.

Obama’s first year was a golden period for Russia because he didn’t believe in national interests. Trump does. The left inevitably accuses the right of its own sins. Trump didn’t collude with Russia. Obama did.
--------------
Daniel Greenfield is Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. David Horowitz is a Contributing Author of the ARRA News Service

Tags: Daniel Greenfield, FrontPage Mag, Obama Vs. Trump, Who Really Colluded, Russia To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

In a Trump Hunt, Beware the Perjury Trap

by Patrick Buchanan: Asked if he would agree to be interviewed by Robert Mueller’s team, President Donald Trump told the White House press corps, “I would love to do it … as soon as possible. … under oath, absolutely.”

On hearing this, the special counsel’s office must have looked like the Eagles’ locker room after the 38-7 rout of the Vikings put them in the Super Bowl.

If the president’s legal team lets Trump sit for hours answering Mueller’s agents, they should be disbarred for malpractice.

For what Mueller is running here is not, as Trump suggests, a “witch hunt.” It is a Trump hunt.

After 18 months investigating Trumpian “collusion” with Putin’s Russia in hacking the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails, the FBI has hit a stone wall. Failing to get Trump for collusion, the fallback position is to charge him with obstruction of justice. As a good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, the tactic is understandable.

Mueller’s problem: He has no perjury charge to go with it. And the heart of his obstruction case, Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, is starting to look like something Trump should have done sooner.

Consider what is now known of how Comey and the FBI set about ensuring Hillary Clinton would not be indicted for using a private email server to transmit national security secrets.

The first draft of Comey’s statement calling for no indictment was prepared before 17 witnesses, and Hillary, were even interviewed.

Comey’s initial draft charged Clinton with “gross negligence,” the requirement for indictment. But his team softened that charge in subsequent drafts to read, “extreme carelessness.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, among others, appears to have known in advance an exoneration of Clinton was baked in the cake. Yet Comey testified otherwise.

Also edited out of Comey’s statement was that Hillary, while abroad, communicated with then-President Obama, who had to see that her message came through a private server. Yet Obama told the nation he only learned Hillary had been using a private server at the same time the public did.

A trial of Hillary would have meant Obama in the witness chair being asked, “What did you know, sir, and when did you know it?”

More information has also been unearthed about FBI collusion with British spy Christopher Steele, who worked up — for Fusion GPS, the dirt-divers of the Clinton campaign — the Steele dossier detailing Trump’s ties to Russia and alleged frolics with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel.

While the Steele dossier was shopped around town to the media, which, unable to substantiate its lurid and sensational charges, declined to publish them, Comey’s FBI went all in.

Not only did the Steele dossier apparently trigger a wider FBI investigation of the Trump campaign, it served as the basis of FBI requests for FISA court warrants to put on Trump the kind of full-court press J. Edgar Hoover put on Dr. King for the Kennedys and LBJ.

Amazing. Oppo-research dirt, unsourced and unsubstantiated, dredged up by a foreign spy with Kremlin contacts, is utilized by our FBI to potentially propel an investigation to destroy a major U.S. presidential candidate. And the Beltway media regard it as a distraction.

An aggressive Republican Party on the Hill, however, has forced the FBI to cough up documents that are casting the work of Comey’s cohorts in an ever more partisan and sinister light.

This cabal appears to have set goals of protecting Obama, clearing Hillary, defeating Trump, and bringing down the new president the people had elected, before he had even taken his oath.

Not exactly normal business for our legendary FBI.

What have these people done to the reputation of their agency when congressmen not given to intemperate speech are using words like “criminal,” “conspiracy,” “corruption” and “coup” to describe what they are discovering went on in the FBI executive chambers?

Bob Mueller, who inherited this investigation, is sitting on an IED because of what went on before he got there. Mueller needs to file his charges before his own investigation becomes the subject of a Justice Department investigation by a special counsel.

As for Trump, he should not sit for any extended interview by FBI agents whose questions will be crafted by prosecutors to steer our disputatious president into challenging or contradicting the sworn testimony of other witnesses.

This a perjury trap.

Let the special counsel submit his questions in writing, and let Trump submit his answers in writing.

At bottom, this is a political issue, an issue of power, an issue of whether the Trump revolution will be dethroned by the deep state it was sent to this capital to corral and contain.

If Trump is guilty of attempted obstruction, it appears to be not of justice, but obstruction of an injustice being perpetrated against him.

Trump should be in no hurry to respond to Mueller, for time no longer appears to be on Mueller’s side.
--------------------
Patrick Buchanan is currently a conservative columnist, political analyst, chairman of The American Cause foundation and an editor of The American Conservative. He has been a senior advisor to three Presidents, a two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and was the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He blogs at the Patrick J. Buchanan.

Tags: Patrick Buchanan, conservative, commentary, In a Trump Hunt, Beware the Perjury Trap To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Liberate Iran: Demand Release of Detained Protesters

Ken Blackwell
by Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: On November 9, 1978, the US Ambassador to Tehran, William Sullivan sent shock waves through the foreign policy establishment with a diplomatic cable to the White House titled, “Thinking the unthinkable. Iran without the Shah.” The Iranian monarchy had been a US ally for decades but in less than three months, the Shah and the monarchy were history.

Pundits were surprised by that change, and they were surprised again when Iran erupted at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018. As the principal opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) played an important role in organizing the protests and breaking the mullahs’ censorship with news about them. Among this news were reports that protests had emerged in more than 140 localities.

In an era of social media, it was the protesters who sent the “cables”. The message was plain and simple. With chants like “down with Rouhani”, “down with Khamenei”, and “no to reformers, no to hardliners; this game is over”, the Iranian people clearly communicated that they want regime change and they want it now.

Some 50 protesters were shot dead by security forces and the Revolutionary Guards. And according to the MEK at least 8,000 defenseless protesters were arrested. (Regime officials have acknowledged 3,700.) Reliable reports indicate that at least ten protesters have been killed under torture in prison. Some were then placed in front of their parents’ houses. A number of protesters are missing and there is no news of their condition.

For years the mullahs and their advocates convinced foreign policymakers that the opposition was limited to a number of exiles abroad and that inside Iran there are only the regime’s two factions. The protests completely debunked this narrative.

On January 9, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blamed the US for plotting the protests with the MEK. “The MEK had prepared for this months ago,” he said, adding, “The MEK’s media outlets had called for it.”

It is a conventional gambit of despots who are rejected by their own people, to blame foreign powers. The uprising was not a conspiracy by foreign powers; rather it discredited the Obama administration and the Europeans’ appeasement of the ruling theocracy.

Very much to their credit, President Trump and Vice President Pence quickly and repeatedly expressed political support for the brave Iranians and their just demands. UN Ambassador Nikki Healey’s made commendable efforts to take the issue to the UN Security Council.

The uprising showed that the multi-billion dollar windfall from the nuclear deal did not benefit the people. Rather, the mullahs used the political and economic benefits of the deal for further human rights abuses and intensify their war efforts in the region. But these interventions have only made the regime more fragile.

The uprising was a revolt for freedom, popular sovereignty, social justice, and prosperity. It showed that Iranian society is in an explosive state, simmering with discontent. It showed that the regime is much weaker than perceived.

The mullahs have been able to contain the protests for the time being but the forces that brought millions to the streets are still working and more eruptions loom on the horizon.

As Maryam Rajavi, the president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran put it, “The mullahs cannot prevent the resurgence of the uprisings because they only depend on their deeply-hated repressive organs. They have lost the most important component of their power to enchain the society…The Iranian society will not return to the conditions preceding the uprising, nor is the religious dictatorship capable of regaining its previous balance.”

Scores of brave protesters who have broken the ayatollahs censorship have told the world that they are more determined than ever and that none of these brutal measures will break their convictions. They vowed that they will not relent until they reach their goal: To bring down the theocracy and establish democracy in Iran.

It is a moral imperative for the US and the whole of the West to stand on their side. Specifically, we should demand the immediate release of protesters who were detained.

As Mrs. Rajavi told major political groups in the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe on January 24, “All governments should adopt effective measures and binding decisions to compel the religious dictatorship ruling Iran to release the prisoners of the uprising, uphold freedom of expression and association, end repression and lift the compulsory veil.”

The US should keep the moral high ground, lead the way internationally, and hold Tehran accountable for its treatment of protesters. The regime must understand that it has to pay a high price for opening fire on demonstrators and killing them under torture. It is sad that Europe has chosen to ignore these issues in favor of economic considerations, but when the US moves to the correct side of history, Europe has no choice but to follow.

Ambassador Healey rightly suggested that the US demand a hearing at the UN. She should urge the High Commissioner for Human Rights to form a committee to investigate arbitrary arrests and the deaths of detainees. But whatever the means, we must keep focused on this issue. Remaining silent is the worst thing we can do for Iran’s protesters.

As Martin Luther King said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” But surely the Iranian people’s friends in the free world will not be silent.

After all, this is a moment the world has long been waiting for, a crossroads where we can achieve what seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago: Iran freed from the clutches of ayatollahs.
------------------
Ken Blackwell (@kenblackwell) is a former ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission from 1991-93. He received the Superior Honor Award from the Bush(41) and the Clinton administrations. He was a former Domestic Policy Advisor to the Trump Presidential Transition Team, former Ohio State Treasurer and mayor of Cincinnati, and currently serves on the board of numerous conservative policy organizations. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service

Tags: Ken Blackwell, Liberate Iran, Demand Release, Detained Protesters To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Politics of Inertia

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Congress’s failure to establish, last week, any semblance of budgetary responsibility led to one of those “government shutdowns” that the press likes to yammer about so breathlessly.

Then, early this week, Senate holdouts caved, allowing a short-term fix to bring the federal government fully back to life, like the monster in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab given a defibrillator jolt.

Usually these government shutdowns are caused by Republicans not playing along — Obamacare being the sticking point most recently — but this time the desperate negotiators were Sen. Chuck Schumer (D -NY) and his Democrat gang, whose “heroic” stance was all about immigration reform and “the Dreamers.”

After they folded, and the Monster was bequeathed new life, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin asked former Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz what her party had gained from its temporary obstructionism.

Her answer? “Potential for momentum.”

That had to be one of the more bizarrely drawn happy faces over complete and utter failure that we have witnessed since . . . well, the last one.

Even Ms. Baldwin was incredulous.*

The Democratic Party’s disarray is astounding. If any party has momentum on its side, it is the party of Andy Jackson and William Jennings Bryan, the party of the elitist media, insider government and the Deep State, and the resistance to Trump.

So why its current pathetic fortune? Because the Democrats have rested so long upon their “momentum.”

Inertia can sure have its downside.

On the “bright side,” Democrats will have occasion to revisit this, for no real budget has been established. All Congress even tries to do these days is provide temporary fix after temporary fix.

Call it potential for catastrophe.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

* The CNN anchor may have been nonplussed by the specter of entropy in the odd Newtonian metaphor.
------------------
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. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Paul Jacob, Common Sense, Politics of Inertia To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Thanks to the Trump Corporate Tax Cuts, America is Open for Business

by Printus LeBlanc: As President Donald Trump was prepared to speak in Davos to announce that America is open for business, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is predicting Armageddon because of the tax cuts. To be fair, she says that a lot. She further insulted the tax cuts calling the $1,000-$2,000 bonuses hundreds of employees are receiving “crumbs,” forgetting she once called a $40 cut a “victory for America” in 2011. The Minority Leader might want to pay a little better attention to what is happening to the economy because it looks like 2018 could be a banner year for the Trump economy.

The first company to announce it would pass on the corporate tax benefits to its employees was AT&T. Shortly after a deal was reached in the Senate, the corporate giant announced a $1,000 bonus for 200,000 employees and is increasing its capital expenditures by $1 billion. AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson stated, “Congress, working closely with the President, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world. Tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs. In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees.”

For years the left has fought ferociously to get the federal government to institute a $15 minimum wage. Several cities around the nation have done so and seen an exodus of business from cities. The tax cuts signed by President Trump did more for the $15 minimum wage fight than anyone thought possible. Shortly after the signing of the bill, Wells Fargo raised their base wage by $1.50 to $15 per hour. Discover Financial Services and Humana are two more large companies raising their minimum wages to $15 per hour.

If there is an official coffee house of “the resistance” it is Starbucks. Despite this, they are not shy about participating in the bounty brought on by the tax cuts. On Tuesday, the Seattle based company announced it would increase wages and benefits for its 150,000 employees as a direct result of the tax cuts. As part of the new benefits package, the company is awarding more than $100 million in stock grants to its employees. Thanks to the Trump tax cuts, companies are sharing profits with employees is now more likely.

Apple CEO Tim Cook may not like President Trump personally, but he loves his tax cuts. Last week the technology giant announced plans to build a second corporate campus in the U.S. and increase its U.S. workforce by 20,000 people over the next five years. Additionally, Apple was famous for housing billions in overseas profits offshore and refusing to repatriate the money because of high U.S. corporate taxes. Thanks to the tax cuts, Apple announced it would repatriate billions from overseas, estimating the tax bill would be $38 billion for the repatriation. All told, Apple estimated its actions will generate $350 billion in economic activity for the U.S. Look at that, tax cuts generating more tax revenue and more economic activity than initially thought.

The corporate tax cuts are going to have a massive impact on stock dividends. Many people may not think they are invested in the stock market, but if they have a 401(k), an IRA, or pension plan, they are invested in the stock market. Wall Street analysists are revising up their estimated dividend returns for several stocks. Lowes, Pepsi, and Proctor and Gamble are just a few of the stocks analysts expect to increase their dividend payout by as much as 60 cents per share.

Multiple reports have indicated the tax cuts are making the U.S. the destination for investment. Heather Long, of the Chicago Tribune, reports, “Blackstone chief executive Steve Schwarzman, Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam and NASDAQ chief executive Adena Friedman said they, too, were hearing about more plans to invest in the U.S. now.” Nothing boosts an economy like Foreign Direct Investment, and the tax cuts are a signal to the world where they should invest their money.

Not only did the tax cuts help the U.S. economy, but the cuts are also going to have a positive effect on the global economy. In October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted global growth of 3.9 percent for 2018 and 2019. The latest report from the IMF increases the expected growth by .2 percent, with half the increase coming because of the tax cuts. Increasing global GDP by at least $75 billion is hardly Armageddon.

These are just a few of the examples of companies giving their employees bonuses and pay raises because of the tax cuts. Americans for Tax Reform compiled a list of hundreds of corporations paying the tax cuts forward, so far totaling more than 3 million people.

James Carville once said, “the economy, stupid” when asked how Bill Clinton won the Presidency in 1992. President Trump has sent the message to Davos at the World Economic Forum that America is open for business. Thanks to his tax cuts the world is listening.

Bonuses in the thousands. Pay raises to and above the progressive’s ideal wage of $15 per hour. Hundreds of billions in capital investment that leads to more jobs and tax revenue. Does this sound like crumbs? All this is happening before anyone has seen the increase in pay their paycheck, which doesn’t happen until February. The Minority Leader may want to give James Carville a call.
-----------------
Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government.

Tags: Printus LeBlanc, America, Open for Business, President Trump, Corporate Tax Cuts To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

What Could Push Oil To $100?

by Irina Slav: If anyone thought the latest oil market outlooks of the EIA and the IEA are upbeat, here’s an even more upbeat one from Energy Aspects: The consultancy expects crude demand this year to grow by 1.7 million bpd, and says Brent could touch above $100 a barrel in 2019.

According to Energy Aspects, the reason for the further jump in prices will be a drop in new production outside the U.S. shale patch. It’s a little hard to buy that, however, if one remembers that there is 1.8 million bpd in production capacity ready to be tapped again once OEPC and Russia taper their production cuts. That alone should take care of the demand growth that the consultancy predicts for this year. That is, unless it booms by 2 million bpd, which is the top of the range forecast by Energy Aspects. But even then, the U.S. and Russia alone could take care of it: The Russian state majors are itching to expand production in eastern Siberia.

Of course, the likelihood of OPEC and Russia bringing all that production online is highly debatable, as the partners in the cut deal seem still determined to continue with the original plan. Nevertheless, the barrels are there, so there’s no urgent need for actual new production yet. However, if global demand grows so much so quickly, does anyone have any doubts that the new, expanded oil cartel will be flexible enough to make the best of the situation? Hardly.

So how likely is this demand growth? According to Energy Aspects, there is currently “no real drag on demand growth.” The global economy is in growth mode, which lends strong support to the price momentum, and the short-term forecasts for the top consumers of crude oil are all bullish. Yet, there’s one potential drag: prices.

Here’s what Bloomberg Gadfly’s Julian Lee says: “Rising prices can have a chilling effect on demand growth, and benchmark crude prices have risen more than 55 percent since their rally started in June. End-user retail prices are feeling this.”

But that’s not all. While Lee acknowledges that higher prices at the pump will affect demand in Europe and North America, the effect of more expensive fuels will be much more palpable in developing nations, which are the main drivers of global growth, after all. There, Lee notes, governments used the oil price slump to reduce fuel subsidies, and now that prices have started climbing up again, the end-user price jump will be much higher. This will inevitably interfere with economic activity, potentially undermining that growth everyone is talking about.

And then there’s gas — the bridge fuel, the alternative. Both countries and oil majors are investing a large percentage of total capex in natural gas production and infrastructure, with China as the best example. Gas is cheap, the market is oversupplied and unlikely to swing into a deficit anytime soon, given the number of large-scale LNG projects in Australia coming online. True gas-fueled cars are few, and car fuels account for the biggest portion of oil demand. But higher prices are higher prices. Too high, and people start using public transport if it’s available.

But let’s forget about prices at the pump and the switch from oil to gas. Let’s talk about that economic growth that the IMF forecast in its latest World Economic Outlook and that so many consultancies are also predicting. There are voices being heard — including from the IMF itself — that the next recession is not far away.

In fact, according to some, such as Forbes’ Michael Lynch, a recession is pretty close by. Lynch uses an indicator he calls “more money than brains” to anticipate recessions. Describing it as “conspicuously ridiculous consumption”, he exemplifies it with the current fad of raw water. He also notes that the U.S. stock market is at historic highs. It is time for a correction, Lynch says, and he is not the only one. With a correction in stock markets and a slowdown in the economy of the world’s largest consumer, what are the chances of Brent hitting $100 a barrel? Slim.
-----------------
Irina Slav authored this article contributed by James Stafford the publisher  of OilPrice.com, the leading online energy news site, to the ARRA News Service. Irina Slav is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

Tags: Oil $100 a barrel, in 2019, Irina Slav, James Stafford, Oilprice.com To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Earmarks Promote ‘Banal Interests,’ Not ‘Highest Interests,’ Former Senator Warns

“They are appropriating money for all these
other things that Congress really doesn't have
the appropriative power to do,” former
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says of earmarks.
 
by Rachel del Guidice: Reinstating earmarks would encourage corrupted self-interest, a former U.S. senator warns.

“Earmarks are about going to your banal interests rather than your highest interests; they’re about you, rather than the country,” former Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told The Daily Signal in an interview Wednesday.

“The people that want to do earmarks say it is Congress’ role that they can do it. But they ignore the enumerated powers,” said Coburn, who served in the Senate from 2005 until his early retirement in 2015.

These lawmakers, he said, “are appropriating money for all these other things that Congress really doesn’t have the appropriative power to do.”

Enumerated powers are those the Constitution assigns to Congress, such as the power to tax and provide for the general welfare.

The House Rules Committee held hearings last week to discuss reviving the practice of earmarks.

Conservatives have staunchly opposed earmarks as examples of cronyism and corruption, saying the practice directs taxpayers’ money to lawmakers’ special interests and projects through the budget without competition based on merit.

Lawmakers banned earmarks under House rules in 2010.

President Donald Trump appeared to support some lawmakers’ calls to bring earmarking back in remarks he made Jan. 9.

“I think you should look at a form of earmarks,” Trump said during a meeting at the White House on immigration reform with House and Senate members. “One thing it did is it brought everybody together.”

Earmarks are irresponsible, Coburn told The Daily Signal, because they circumvent the oversight authority of Congress:
Remember who controls earmarks. It’s not all the members of Congress, it’s the appropriators. So what you do, there’s no reason to have an authorization committee if you have earmarks, because the [appropriators] are going to do whatever they want.Coburn, now a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, also is familiar with earmarks from when he represented a Muskogee, Oklahoma-based district in the House from 1995 to 2001.

In a press conference Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., decried any effort to reinstate the practice. Flake was was joined by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

“We have heard there is a serious, concerted effort in the House and that there is growing support to bring earmarks back,” Flake said. “That’s why it is so concerning. The hope is that, at least here in the Senate, we can stop it.”

The Senate voted Jan. 10, 2017, to reimpose the chamber’s ban on earmarks, with Flake among those spearheading the move.

Flake, who is not seeking election to a second term this year, introduced a bipartisan bill Tuesday “to make permanent the temporary moratorium on congressional earmarks, which has been in effect since 2010,” according to a press release from his office.

“Right now, all we have are conference rules against the practice, but we don’t have it in statute, so it’s not permanent. And that is what we are attempting to do here,” Flake told reporters at the press conference.

McCaskill, a co-sponsor of the bill, said earmarking is an unethical practice that should be fought:
You know, the swampiest of swamp creatures is what earmarks are, it just doesn’t get any worse. It is not on merit, there is no cost-benefit analysis, there is not competition; it’s who you are, who you know, what lobbyist you hired, what party you are in, what committee you serve on, and whether you are a chairman.Flake also said earmarks are a waste of time for Congress.

“Let me tell you, the committees that either authorize or appropriate money during that heyday of earmarking, virtually all their time was spent managing earmarks,” Flake said. “And that is it … earmarks are not worth going back to.”
----------------
Rachel del Guidice (@LRacheldG) is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program.

Tags: Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal, Tom Coburn, Earmarks, Promote Banal Interests, Not Highest Interests, unethical practice To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Auto-ISAC Signs Cybersecurity Aagreement With DHS

Auto-ISAC: Vehicles are benefiting from a
wave of technology innovation, producing
vehicles that are safer, cleaner and smarter
– thanks in large part to automotive and
information systems that provide more
connectivity. This makes vehicle
cybersecurity a critical focus for the
future of the connected vehicle.
WASHINGTON, PRNewswire-USNewswire: The Auto-ISAC has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collaborate and improve vehicle cyber-threat information sharing and analysis.

Private sector companies sign a CRADA with DHS to participate in the Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program (CISCP), the department's flagship program for public-private multi-directional cybersecurity information sharing and analytic collaboration about cyber threats, incidents and vulnerabilities.

"This relationship with DHS provides our cybersecurity experts the opportunity to work with their counterparts in the federal government to increase information sharing and analysis," said Jeff Massimila of General Motors, who also serves as the Auto-ISAC's Chair.

The agreement could facilitate access to DHS' National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center (NCCIC), a security operations watch center. The agreement also provides ISAC personnel with eligibility for security clearances to view classified threat information.

"CISCP is a bi-directional information sharing program providing increased value for our Auto-ISAC members," says Faye Francy, Auto-ISAC Executive Director.

"As the automotive industry continues to prepare for an increasingly interconnected future, the ability to collaborate with DHS and other private sector companies markedly increases our ability to detect and prevent vehicle cybersecurity threats," continued Francy.

The Auto-ISAC joins other Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) and private sector companies already working with DHS to tackle today's cybersecurity challenges.

CISCP partners voluntarily submit indicators of observed cyber threats and information about cyber incidents and identified vulnerabilities, done in an anonymized, aggregated fashion. Data submitted to CISCP falls under the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information Program and are statutorily exempt from regulatory use or any disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or state Sunshine Laws.

One key component of the agreement is the ability of representatives of the Auto-ISAC to sit side-by-side with government, other ISAC partners and companies to share and analyze information and block cyber threats before damaging compromises occur. CISCP analysts examine the submission in collaboration with both government and industry partners and produce accurate, relevant, timely and actionable analytical products. There are a number of valuable products available to the partners through the program to include: Indicator Bulletins, Analysis Report, Priority Alert, and Recommended Practices. In addition, CISCP hosts analyst-to-analyst technical threat exchanges and analyst training events that allow for classified and unclassified briefings.

Vehicle cybersecurity is a critical foundation for the future of the connected vehicle. Through the establishment of Auto-ISAC, there is a central hub for members to share, track and analyze intelligence about potential cyber threats, vulnerabilities and incidents related in and around the connected vehicle.

Background on the Auto-ISAC

The Auto-ISAC facilitates sharing of timely and actionable information pertaining to cybersecurity threats affecting the automotive industry. It enhances the ability of the automotive industry to prepare for and respond to cyberthreats, deal with vulnerabilities and incidents, and raise awareness across the community to reduce business risks.

Auto-ISAC was established in 2015, when Global Automakers, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and 15 automakers joined forces to establish a global community to foster collaboration that creates a safe, efficient, secure and resilient connected vehicle ecosystem. Auto-ISAC shares and analyzes timely and actionable intelligence about emerging cybersecurity risks to the vehicle. It also works to develop and mature vehicle cybersecurity capabilities across the industry through initiatives like its Best Practices and information exchanges.

Membership is open to light- and heavy-duty vehicle OEMs and suppliers, and commercial vehicle sector (e.g. fleets, carriers). Partnerships are open to security solutions providers, industry associations, research consortia, government agencies and academia.

Background on DHS's CISCP

Information shared via CISCP allows all participants to better secure their own networks and helps support the shared security of CISCP partners. Further, CISCP provides a collaborative environment where analysts learn from each other to better understand emerging cybersecurity risks and effective defenses. CISCP is based upon a community of trust in which all participants seek mutual benefit from robust information sharing and collaboration. CISCP is voluntary, free of charge and provides value to all members. Therefore, all companies with an interest in multi-directional cybersecurity information sharing and robust analytic collaboration between the government and the private sector should consider joining CISCP.

Tags: PR Newswire, Auto-ISAC, DHS, CISP, Cybersecurity Agreement 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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