Monday, April 30, 2018

The Four Numbers That Tell Our Economic Future

2.7%% is the rate at which the International Monetary Fund is expecting the U.S. economy to grow this year.

Global commodity prices are up enough to "Bear watching [and] ... put modest upward pressure on the inflation rate," according to the Lindsey Group.

If all of these bottlenecks set companies bidding for scarce materials and workers, the Federal Reserve Board's monetary policy committee just might decide that the two additional rate increases scheduled to follow March's rise might not be enough to control inflationary forces, and ink in a fourth rise.

That's the current interest rate on a typical 30-year mortgage in the United States.

Most economies have rather high levels of national debt, and are vulnerable to rising interest rates.

So let's hope that the cooling effect of 3% and 4.7% leaves growth closer to 2.7% in America, rather than the below-2% rate of recent years.

That the higher rate would contribute to maintaining global growth at 3.9%. Just jot down the four numbers and reach your own conclusions. 

Netanyahu outlines evidence of Iran's cheating on nuclear deal

If you're surprised that Iran lied, hid the truth and cheated on the nuclear deal it negotiated with Barack Obama and John Kerry in 2015, I think someone needs to explain to you that fundamentally evil people are not to be trusted.

Anyone who still defends the Iran nuclear deal after this is just so ideologically invested in it, it's a waste of time to try to talk to them further.

The inspection regime in the nuclear deal is toothless, and that's by design.

Every time the Iranians objected to requirements for real inspections, Kerry went to the other U.S. allies involved in negotiating the deal and advocated for what Iran wanted.

Obama wanted a deal, any deal, no matter how bad it was, so he could go around saying he'd gotten from Iran what no other president could get.

Today Netanyahu proved that the nuclear deal did nothing to even slow down Iran's march toward the bomb, just as many of us always said would be the case.

The other day, the leaders of France, Germany and the UK issued a joint statement urging President Trump to remain in the Iran nuclear deal.

This Could Be The Real Reason Why North Korea Stopped Its Nuclear Missile Tests

A recent study by a group of geologists discovered that the mountain used by North Korea for its nuclear bomb testing has collapsed as a result of the explosions.

Scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China believe this could be the true reason North Korean President Kim Jong-un announced the halt of their nuclear testing program.

The collapse of Mount Mantap was a result of five recent nuclear blasts at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in northwest North Korea.

The recent nuclear tests tore open a hole in the mountain, causing it to collapse and creating a pathway for radioactivity to escape from the mountain.

The 5th nuclear test, a 100-kilotonne nuclear bomb that was detonated on September 3rd caused significant structural damage to the mountain.

Evidence of the collapse of Mount Mantap suggests it could be the underlying cause of North Korea halting its nuclear tests.

Time will show whether the recluse country will develop a new nuclear test site or whether this marks the end of nuclear testing by North Korea. 

Meet The Former Feinstein Staffer Brokering Access To Christopher Steele

Congressional documents and recently leaked texts between Sen. Mark Warner and a registered foreign agent for a Russian aluminum oligarch indicate that Daniel J. Jones is intimately involved with ongoing efforts to retroactively validate a series of salacious and unverified memos produced by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, and Fusion GPS. The dossier, which declassified documents show was used as a basis for securing secret wiretaps on Trump campaign affiliates, was reportedly jointly funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Jones, a former Feinstein staffer who wrote a controversial top-secret report on alleged torture by the Central Intelligence Agency, currently runs the Penn Quarter Group, which bills itself as a "Research and investigative advisory" and is inconspicuously named after the downtown Washington DC neighborhood where its office is located.

The grouping of the names is a story in itself: the first 15 names are those of Fusion GPS's principals and key staff in 2016; the next 12 are connected to Steele and a Russian oligarch sanctioned by the United States, the next two are longtime Clinton hangers-on who reportedly wrote and disseminated their own dossier of unverified allegations; the next three are key Obama-era State Department officials who likely spread allegations about the Trump campaign throughout the government; then Jones; the next six are top Federal Bureau of Investigation or Department of Justice officials who used the dossier to secure secret wiretaps on Trump affiliates; and the final name belongs to Obama's CIA director.

During the course of the interaction between Warner and Waldman, which included encrypted messages, phone calls, and private, in-person meetings, Waldman offered Warner access not just to Steele but also Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012 and whom Hillary Clinton described as "a tool of Russian intelligence."

Sen. Tom Cotton, who serves on the Senate intelligence committee with Warner and Burr, directly asked FBI Director Christopher Wray during a hearing last week whether Steele ever worked directly for the Russian oligarch Waldman represents.

Jones' apparent involvement in brokering access to Steele raises serious questions not just about Warner's role in the ongoing intelligence committee investigation, but also about Feinstein's role in the judiciary committee's ongoing investigation of Steele, Russian interference, and Fusion GPS. Did Jones, Feinstein's former top intel committee staffer, have any contact with Feinstein on the matter? Was she aware of any potential business relationship between Jones and individuals or organizations such as Fusion GPS being investigated by her committee? If so, did Feinstein ever disclose to the committee the possibility that she may have a significant conflict of interest given Jones's involvement? If not, why not?

Jones's role in pursuing "Vindication of the dossier," in Waldman's words, on Steele's behalf may also explain Grassley and Graham's decision to withhold from Feinstein prior notice of their criminal referral of Steele to the FBI for making false statements about his dossier work to federal agents.

Mystery Group Of "Wealthy Donors" And Soros Spends $50 Million For "Private Trump-Russia Investigation"

The House Intelligence Committee's just-released report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election reveals in a footnote that an ongoing, private investigation into Trump-Russia claims is being funded with $50 million supplied by George Soros and a group of 7-10 wealthy donors from California and New York.

In short, Jones is working with Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to continue their investigation into Donald Trump, using a $50 million war chest just revealed by the House Intel Committee report.

Jones runs the Penn Quarter Group - a "Research and investigative advisory" firm whose website was registered in April of 2016, days before Steele delivered his first in a series of Trump-Russia memos to Fusion GPS. Jones also began tweeting out articles suggesting illicit ties between the Trump campaign and Russia as early as 2017.

The recently released House Intel Report notes that in March 2017, Jones told the FBI that he was working with Steele and Fusion GPS, with funding to the tune of $50 million.

"[Redacted] further stated that PQG had secured the services of Steele, his associate [redacted], and Fusion GPS to continue exposing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election," reads the report, which adds that Jones "Planned to share the information he obtained with policymakersand with the press."

Why would Waldman, a Russian oligarch's foreign agent, be the official cutout for both a U.S. senator and Christopher Steele? Why would he recommend Daniel Jones - a former top Feinstein aide who worked for the FBI - as a point of contact and an information broker? You know another question it raises? What exactly was Jones looking at and doing when he was on Intelligence Committee Staff? https://t.

Now Jones has a $50 million war chest - from a group of mysterious "7 to 10" donors - to continue the grande Trump-Russia witch hunt with Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS - coordinated in part by a guy who represents Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. 

Fixing the unfixable, the federal budget

The core of the problem with the present budget process is that entitlement spending makes up 60 percent of federal spending.

In addition to the fact that the budget does not actually impact the causes of the federal fiscal disorder, there is the fact that the budget is structured to be an entirely partisan product.

Further, the primary players who are responsible for producing the budget - the members of the Budget Committee - do not have the legislative power to execute it.

The budget to be reported out of committee would need to win two-thirds support.

Second, the Budget Committee should only be made up of members from the Appropriations and Finance Committees, so they are vested in its outcome and passage.

Fifth, the Budget Committee for discretionary spending accounts like Defense and HHS could set up committees akin to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee. 

Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson Will No Longer Be Trump's Personal Doctor Thanks To Fake News

For Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, Trump's Veterans Affairs nominee, he faced such brutal accusations from Sen. Jon Tester, which hold no merit.

White House physician Ronny Jackson will not return to his role as the president's personal physician, according to two senior administration officials, after a string of allegations caused the Navy rear admiral to withdraw his nomination last week to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sean Conley, a Navy officer who took over Jackson's role as the president's personal doctor last month, will continue in the role, the officials said.

Jackson bowed out last week after Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, released a document summarizing allegations by current and former colleagues that Jackson overprescribed pills, drank on the job and created a hostile work environment.

Jackson has denied the allegations and has returned to work in the White House Medical Unit.

President Donald Trump has continued defending Jackson, with whom he formed a tight personal bond.

Jackson had served as President Obama's personal doctor as well.

Hatchet Job On Devin Nunes Is Riddled With Errors

Zengerle writes that a "Suspicious" Nunes was wrong to believe that "Obama administration officials were ignoring evidence in a cache of documents collected from Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, showing that Al Qaeda was much stronger than the administration publicly contended." Zengerle says Nunes' predecessor as chairman of the intel committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, agreed with Obama officials' assessment and told Nunes the documents Defense Intelligence Agency officials were analyzing at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., showed nothing significant on that score.

Zengerle wrote that Nunes "Began his political career, appropriately enough, because he believed he had uncovered a sinister plot." He was "Utterly convinced that his alma mater was secretly planning to close its campus farm." The College of the Sequoias announced it was selling 160 acres on which its campus farm sat, and Nunes decided to run for the school's board of trustees to save the farm.

"You could tell they wanted me to say that Devin Nunes, when he first got elected, was trying to chase windmills and save a farm that didn't need saving," Zumwalt said.

Zengerle writes, inaccurately, "A few days later, after reporters exposed the ruse, Nunes recused himself from the committee's Russia investigation, although he still refused to cede subpoena power to his replacement, Mike Conaway."

As noted above, Rice admitted to doing what Nunes announced! As for Nunes' supposed recusal, it never happened, although many media reports falsely claimed it did.

Preposterously, Zengerle attempts to say that Nunes has singlehandedly crippled the committee with partisan fighting.

Zengerle claims that Trump discussed with Nunes the possibility of Nunes becoming director of national intelligence. 

Bring Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Undocumented Democrats

In an apparent case of Jerry Brown envy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made it clear he will do what he can to assist anyone on Earth or the closer planets who wishes to crash the American party and live on our hospitality.

The Washington Times reports that Cuomo sent a "Cease and resist" letter to federal immigration authorities demanding that they stop inconveniencing citizens of other countries living in New York illegally.

Of course the people Cuomo is conferring rights on are not American citizens of New York who don't fancy picking up the tab for the care and feeding of a significant fraction of the Southern Hemisphere.

The Times suggests that Cuomo's latest spasm has something to do with a looming primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon who is occupying the tiny sliver of political landscape to the left of Cuomo and making a lot of noise.

Cuomo of course denied that his nullification edict has anything to do with New York politics.

No, Cuomo claims that he is responding to "Lawlessness." Not the lawlessness of citizens of other countries here illegally, but the lawlessness of immigration officials who attempt to return these folks to their own countries.

Cuomo did not immediately return my phone call inquiring as to how many Mexicans, Colombians, Salvadorans, and Nicaraguans he plans to put up at the governor's mansion in Albany. 

Migrant caravan reaches U.S. border, demands asylum

The illegal immigrant caravan swamped border officials in San Diego Sunday as hundreds of people showed up at the San Ysidro port of entry and demanded admittance and asylum as reporters, immigrant rights activists and Mexican watched.

After a month of traveling across Mexico, hundreds of people, most of them from Honduras, massed in Tijuana and began to present themselves to U.S. border officials, reciting the script they've been coached to deliver to clear the first hurdles toward asylum.

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the migrants will be taken in turn, but vowed to impose stiff penalties where possible, pointing to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's vows to pursue charges against anyone who lies to file a bogus asylum application, and against those who help people file bogus applications.

The caravan began in late March at Mexico's southern border, where perhaps 1,500 Central Americans gathered to make the trip north.

At President Trump's urging, Mexico stepped in and offered asylum to some and said it deported at least 400 others - but some 600 said they were intent on reaching the U.S. Security analysts said that signaled they were illegal immigrants rather than asylum-seekers, because they could have accepted asylum in Mexico, which is deemed a safe country.

Mr. McAleenan said the U.S. is working closely with Mexico to keep the caravan's efforts as orderly as possible by limiting how many people are allowed to show up and demand asylum.

Caravan organizers still chafed at the situation, complaining that Mexico was abetting U.S. immigration policies.