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Sen. Sherrod Brown’s economic illiteracy is frightening at the same time it isn’t surprising. Sen. Brown’s spirited exchange with Sen. Orrin Hatch revealed how little Sen. Brown understands about capitalism. What was particularly illuminating was when Sen. Brown said “I just think it would be nice, just tonight, to just acknowledge, well, this tax cut isn’t really for the middle class. It’s for the rich, and that whole thing about higher wages, well, it’s a good selling point, but we know companies don’t just give away higher wages. They just don’t give away higher wages just ’cause they have more money.”

Sen. Brown is either economically illiterate or he’s dishonest. Either way, it frightens me that he’s on the Finance Committee. It’s disturbing that he doesn’t understand what creates great economies. Brown has voted for some of the most counterproductive economic policies in recent history. Those policies have led to slow economic growth and stagnant wages. During the Obama administration, companies left the United States because of high tax rates and unreasonable regulatory burdens.

This isn’t opinion. Since Trump took office, consumer confidence has surged, unemployment has dropped, companies have started investing again and the workforce participation rate has improved. That’s because Trump has eased the regulatory burdens and promised competitive corporate tax rates.

At no time during the Obama administration did the economy grow at 3% per year for a full year. Right now, we’re on target to exceed 3% economic growth in Trump’s first year in office. If I’m forced to trust Trump’s policies or Obama’s policies, it isn’t much of a fight. This was fun to watch but it wasn’t much of a fight:

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This op-ed is this morning’s water cooler conversation in DC. That’s because Donna Brazile wrote it to criticize Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Ms. Brazile even took a swipe at President Obama, saying “My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt.” But that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The op-ed continues, saying “The Saturday morning after the convention in July, I called Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign. He wasted no words. He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt. ‘What?’ I screamed. ‘I am an officer of the party and they’ve been telling us everything is fine and they were raising money with no problems.’ That wasn’t true, he said. Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt—$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016.”

That isn’t the worst of it. Here’s some additional important details:

On the phone Gary told me the DNC had needed a $2 million loan, which the campaign had arranged. “No! That can’t be true!” I said. “The party cannot take out a loan without the unanimous agreement of all of the officers. Gary, how did they do this without me knowing?” I asked. “I don’t know how Debbie relates to the officers,” Gary said. He described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearing house. Under FEC law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign. But the limits are much higher for contributions to state parties and a party’s national committee.

Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund—that figure represented $10,000 to each of the thirty-two states’ parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement—$320,000—and $33,400 to the DNC. The money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that. Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn.

I can’t understand why Ms. Brazile is surprised. I published this post last October. According to an article in UK Daily Mail, “The Democratic National Committee is ‘clearing a path’ for Hillary Clinton to be its presidential nominee because its upper power echelons are populated with women, according to a female committee member who was in Las Vegas for Tuesday’s primary debate. Speaking on the condition that she isn’t identified, she told Daily Mail Online that the party is in the tank for Clinton, and the women who run the organization decided it ‘early on.'”

The woman that helped rig the Democratic Party’s nomination in favor of her friend is surprised that her friend is controlling the DNC? Isn’t that rich? Who’s the culprit? Is this woman the culprit?

If not her, who?

Her?

Personally, I’d choose ‘All of the above.’

It isn’t surprising that Nancy Pelosi is calling for an independent investigation to prevent Russian meddling in US elections.

In her statement, Ms. Pelosi said “Even with an accelerating Special Counsel investigation inside the Justice Department, and investigations inside the Republican Congress, we still need an outside, fully independent investigation to expose Russia’s meddling in our election and the involvement of Trump officials,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement Monday. “Defending the integrity of our democracy demands that Congress look forward to counter Russian aggression and prevent future meddling with our elections.”

This seems like stupid messaging. This morning, it was announced that Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates had been indicted. According to the indictment, some of the alleged illegal activity happened before Barack announced his candidacy for president.

Ms. Pelosi decision to call for this independent investigation steps all over the message that Manafort has been indicted. When there’s bad news coming out about your political adversary, exit the stage and let them endure the spotlight. Ms. Pelosi apparently didn’t figure it out that she should leave the stage.

Erick Erickson’s op-ed on the Manafort indictment is worth reading. In his op-ed, Erickson wrote “The Mueller team looked into the campaign, went down various rabbit holes, and wound up in Manafort’s tax returns circa 2012, well before Trump considered running for office. Therefore, they can claim, there is nothing there with the campaign.”

Judge Napolitano’s explanation might help shed light on the importance of the Manafort indictment:

At this point, there’s nothing found thus far that hints the Trump campaign worked with Putin’s administration to win the election. The thought that Putin tried meddling with the election is something that the overwhelming majority of Americans have already accepted. In terms of momentum, this isn’t a game-changer.

Notch another foreign policy victory for President Trump. This morning, Raqqa was liberated from ISIS. It seems like forever ago that people were being told that we couldn’t affect regime change in Syria without the threat of ISIS taking over the government. Overthrow, Democrats told us, meant deposing Assad, then watching while ISIS took over. Apparently, President Trump and Gen. Mattis didn’t get that memo.

According to the article, “The Syrian city of Raqqa was liberated from ISIS fighters Tuesday, a commander with U.S.-backed Syrian forces said. The loss deprived the terror group of the capital of its so-called caliphate, which has dwindled from a land mass spanning two countries to a sliver of space in Syria. The last group of Islamic State militants had been holed up Tuesday in a stadium in the Syrian city of Raqqa, their last stand in the fight over what was the terror group’s de facto capital as U.S. backed, Kurdish-led forces close in around them.”

It’s fun hearing that “the last black ISIS flag raised in the city had been taken down.”

This article summarizes things nicely:

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by a US-led international alliance, has been fighting ISIS inside Raqqa since June. SOHR said 3,250 people were killed in the five-month battle, including 1,130 civilians.

A witness said fighting appeared to be almost at an end with only sporadic bursts of gunfire. Militia fighters celebrated in the streets, chanted slogans from their vehicles and raised a flag inside Raqqa stadium. An SDF spokesman said the alliance would capture the last ISIS areas in the city within hours.

Notice that the SDF started their offensive in June of this year. President Trump’s strategy to empower generals on the ground paid dividends because they weren’t micromanaged from the Oval Office like they were during the Obama administration.

President Trump’s goal was defeating ISIS. President Obama’s goal was to do as little as possible because he wanted his legacy to be of an anti-war president. That meant sacrificing military victories to pay for political victories.

Thankfully, we’ve got a real commander-in-chief now.

After ISIS’s rise, President Obama was forced to take action against his will. He really didn’t want to send troops back into Iraq. Initially, the Obama administration announced airstrikes. Predictably, they didn’t have much of an effect. Now that President Trump has increased pressure on ISIS, ISIS is getting exposed as being terrible fighters. This article highlights how ISIS has crumbled.

The article starts by saying “The Islamic State group once drew recruits from near and far with promises of paradise but now bodies of jihadists lie in mass graves or at the mercy of wild dogs as its “caliphate” collapses. Flies buzz around human remains poking through the dusty earth in the Iraqi town of Dhuluiyah, 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of Baghdad, at a hastily-dug pit containing the bodies of dozens of IS fighters killed in 2015. They should have ended up in the stomachs of stray dogs,” local police officer Mohammed al-Juburi told AFP. ‘We buried them here not out of love but because we wanted to avoid diseases.'”

Farmer Shalan al-Juburi is quoted as saying “We buried them with bulldozers. Even in the ground they are still mired in their own filth. They said that they would go to paradise to enjoy the gardens of delights, but this is how they ended up.”

But as Iraqi forces in Anbar now look to oust the jihadists from their final footholds, operation commander Mahmoud al-Fellahi insisted any jihadists killed will end up in mass graves. A similar fate befell IS members in the city of Mosul, the group’s largest urban stronghold in Iraq that it lost in July. There, a senior Iraqi commander told AFP, authorities used earthmoving equipment “to bury the jihadists after we collected information on their identities and nationalities”.

During President Bush’s surge, he benefitted from the Anbar Awakening. Once the people saw that they had a reliable military partner, the people started helping al-Qa’ida strongholds. It didn’t take long to defeat al-Qa’ida.

Unfortunately, thanks to President Obama’s politicization of US foreign policy, the US quickly lost the ground it had gained during the Bush administration. Now that we’ve got a legitimate commander-in-chief again, the tide quickly turned. This video offers a nice summarization:

It’s indisputable that past presidents have used the Antiquities Act to create national monuments. The worst presidents in terms of misusing the Antiquities Act were President Obama, President Clinton and President George W. Bush. It’s fair to say that each of those presidents misused the Antiquities Act to sidestep the original intent of the law. Rob Bishop’s op-ed highlights how past presidents have essentially ignored the law in creating national monuments.

In Bishop’s op-ed, he wrote “A few statistics can illustrate the scope of the overreach. Between 1906 and 1943, the law functioned basically as designed. Presidents respected the intent of the act. Most monuments were smaller and had clear boundaries with real antiquities inside them. By contrast, designations under the act last year averaged 739,645 acres, or more than 47 times the size of those created 110 years ago. President Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to use the act. He used it 18 times for a combined total of 1.5 million acres. President Barack Obama used it 37 times to designate 553.6 million acres of land and water.”

Chairman Bishop didn’t just complain about the problem. He’s proposed a solution:

Last week, I introduced legislation to correct these failures and permanently address my colleagues’ concerns. The National Monument Creation and Protection Act would, like the writers of the Antiquities Act intended, allow the president to unilaterally designate land up to 640 acres. Monument designations between 640 and 10,000 acres would be subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Designations between 10,000 and 85,000 acres would be required to obtain the approval of all county commissioners, state legislatures, and governors in the affected area. The bill also standardizes and limits the president’s power to reshape monuments.

Chairman Bishop’s legislation is well-written and desperately needed. Unfortunately, there’s no chance it will pass. That’s because it will get stopped by the Democrats’ filibuster in the Senate. Their environmental activist friends will insist that the bill be stopped.

That’s because these environmental activists want big, unaccountable government. These activists are almost always Democrats, though a handful are Republicans. These activists have proven time and again that they prefer it when government tramples over people in favor of the ‘greater good’ of saving Mother Earth. These activists don’t like the rule of law. Here’s proof:

In 1996, prior to the designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah, Clinton’s then-Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Katie McGinty stated the following, “I’m increasingly of the view that we should just drop these utah [sic] ideas. we [sic] do not really know how the enviros will react and I do think there is a danger of ‘abuse’ of the withdraw/antiquities authorities especially because these lands are not really endangered.”

If McGinty’s name sounds familiar, it’s possibly because she ran for Senate in 2016 against Republican Pat Toomey. Thankfully, Sen. Toomey defeated her. But I digress.

It’s disheartening to see Democrats trample over the law. It’s especially disheartening that Democrats do that for a few extra campaign contributions. That’s how cold-hearted Democrats are. This is what’s most disgusting:

The monument was designated in the waning months of Clinton’s re-election campaign. Its total acreage: 1.7 million — three times the size of Rhode Island. No town halls, no public meetings, and no public comment sessions were ever held in Utah. No input was solicited from local stakeholders or land managers in the area. Utah’s governor, congressional delegation, public officials, and residents from across the state all expressed outrage at the lack of prior consultation or warning of the designation. In what feels like symbolism, the proclamation wasn’t even signed in Utah; it was signed in Arizona.

That’s the opposite of transparency. That’s proof that Democrats don’t like accountable government.

Buck Sexton’s op-ed opens with grim news for ISIS. Sexton’s opening paragraphs start with “ISIS’s reign of terror is rapidly coming to an end. Within a matter of days, the jihadist menace that shocked the world for years with its pathological sadism will lose its final strongholds within the Syrian city of Raqqa. It has taken 5 months of bloody struggle but the de facto capital of the Islamic State will soon be entirely in the hands of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Across the border in Iraq, the process of rebuilding the devastated city of Mosul is underway after its liberation from the so-called caliphate in July. There are still areas of ISIS control in both Iraq and Syria, but the jihadists have lost over 60 percent of the territory they once held. Their sources of funding are drying up, hostile forces surround them, and ISIS can no longer count on tens of thousands of recruits to flood into Syria to replenish their ranks.”

ISIS sprang to life during the Obama administration. It’s on the verge of elimination in the early days of the Trump administration. That pretty much sums up the difference between the 2 administrations. Strategic patience was replaced by devastating strikes on ISIS strongholds. The key part of Sexton’s op-ed is where he said ISIS’ “sources of funding are drying up, hostile forces surround them, and ISIS can no longer count on tens of thousands of recruits to flood into Syria to replenish their ranks.”

People questioned when President Trump bombed that airfield in Syria shortly after his inauguration. They questioned whether he had a strategy. 6 months later, it’s clear that he has a strategy for victory in Iraq and Syria. This paragraph is important:

On the Syrian front, the world was faced with the lose-lose choice of a collapsing Assad regime and an ascendant ISIS. Now, ISIS’s leadership is on the run, and its fighters are surrendering by the hundreds. Not every militant wants to be among the last suicide bombers for a crumbling caliphate.

When ISIS was first getting started, they were seen as the strong horse. People were travelling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS’ cause. That definitely isn’t happening at the same rate today. The fight isn’t won but it’s clear who owns the momentum.

The Trump Doctrine is developing a bit at a time. President Trump’s acceleration of hostilities against ISIS is hurting the terrorists. President Trump’s applying of pressure on China is causing hardship for China and North Korea. President Trump’s delegating authority to his in-theater generals is improving the military’s morale, too. These things aren’t happening accidentally.

It’s understatement saying that it’s encouraging to see these Syrians taking the fight to ISIS.

I can’t say that I’m surprised to hear that Sen. Franken is upset that Judiciary blue slips are soon disappearing. I said in this post that Sen. Franken had spent lots of political capital fighting against Justice Stras’s confirmation to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

After Sen. McConnell announced that blue slips wouldn’t be used as a one-man veto, Sen. Franken announced that he hasn’t given up the fight.

In a statement, Franken said “‘[I]n an attempt to stack the courts with right-wing judges, powerful special interests and conservative groups are pressuring Senate Republicans to kill off the blue slip’. ‘In the face of this pressure, I urge Chairman Grassley to demonstrate the same integrity that [past Democratic chairman] Senator [Patrick] Leahy demonstrated and to protect the prerogatives of all senators — Republican and Democratic alike.'”

What a whiner. I didn’t hear Franken tell President Obama or Sen. Reid that the judges that they stacked the DC Circuit Court of Appeal with were too progressive. Sen. Franken is the ‘senator with a glass jaw.’ Further, it’s a bit much to hear Sen. Franken say that Justice Stras is too conservative when retired Justice Alan Page said “We write to urge that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the U.S. Senate act expeditiously to confirm the nomination of Minnesota Associate Supreme Court Justice David R. Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Stras has all the attributes and qualifications necessary to make an excellent circuit court judge.”

I suspect that Sen. Franken is the extremist, not Justice Stras:

Franken has said he finds Stras too conservative to support. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals already has a number of conservative judges, he argued.

So what? As the last president said in the early days of his administration, “I won.” If Sen. Franken doesn’t like the judges that President Trump nominated, he should try running for president and winning the election. Apparently, Sen. Franken doesn’t like the part about elections having consequences except when Democrats win.

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It’s totally predictable that Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton haven’t offered their opinion on Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior. While other Democrats denounce Weinstein’s actions, Obama and the Clintons have been silent.

It isn’t surprising that Hillary “Clinton did not mention Weinstein during an appearance Monday night at the University of California, Davis, as part of her book tour, her first public appearance since the story broke.” What’s interesting is that the media isn’t criticizing Hillary. It isn’t like they should be surprised. She put up with a cheating hubby for years. She didn’t speak out against nations that mistreated women while she was the US Secretary of State.

The Clintons’ ties to Weinstein are pretty extensive and pretty long-lasting. According to the article, “Weinstein has long been a Clinton donor with ties to the political family. Weinstein was one of many from Hollywood who donated to Bill Clinton’s legal defense fund in the 1990s, a Washington Post report from the time stated. More recently, the Clintons rented a home next to Weinstein in the Hamptons in 2015, and Weinstein served as a connector between Hollywood stars and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Weinstein raised about $1.5 million from 1990-2016, according to data from the campaign finance-tracking Center for Responsive Politics, and was a bundler for Clinton’s 2016 effort, including at a star-studded fundraiser for Clinton in June 2016 at Weinstein’s Manhattan home.”

Then there’s this:

CRP’s OpenSecrets website shows Weinstein was a bundler for Obama as well, and the Hollywood giant visited the White House on several occasions during Obama’s tenure. At a White House event for student films in 2013, first lady Michelle Obama credited Weinstein for making the event happen and praised him as a wonderful person and a good friend.

That gives an entirely new meaning to the old saying that “politics makes for strange bedfellows.” Apparently, they don’t get stranger than Weinstein.

Citing research into sage grouse habitat, the Bureau of Land Management “canceled its Sagebrush Focal Area withdrawal application and the Department’s proposed withdrawal of 10 million acres of federal lands from location and entry under the mining law in Greater Sage-grouse habitat in six Western States.”

Acting BLM Director Mike Nedd said “The proposal to withdraw 10 million acres to prevent 10,000 from potential mineral development was a complete overreach. Secretary Zinke has said from the beginning that by working closely with the states, who are on the front lines and a valued partner in protecting the health of these lands, we can be successful in conserving greater sage grouse habitat without stifling economic development and job growth. And that’s what we intend to do—protect important habitat while also being a good neighbor to states and local communities.”

According to the BLM’s statement, “The BLM determined the proposal to withdraw 10 million acres was unreasonable in light of the data that showed that mining affected less than .1 percent of sage-grouse-occupied range.” The statement included this paragraph:

The recommendation to withdraw nearly 10 million acres from location and entry under the mining law was one of many land use restrictions proposed for a new management area designated as the Sagebrush Focal Area (SFA). However, that recommendation was unreasonable in light of the data available. In particular, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2005 “Not Warranted” decision, the 2010 “Warranted But Precluded” Decision and the 2015 “Not Warranted” decision all showed that mining—including locatable mining—was not a significant threat to sage-grouse.

The lands will continue to be managed in accordance with existing plans, programs, policies and regulations in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. They had been temporarily segregated, or closed to new mining claims for 2 years when the Department originally proposed the lands for withdrawal in 2015, while the agency studied whether locatable mineral exploration and mining projects would adversely affect habitat important to the greater sage grouse. That temporary segregation period expired September 24, 2017.

During the Obama administration, the Bureau of Land Management antagonized mining companies during its war on fossil fuels.

This article explains the BLM’s original intent:

The Bureau of Land Management, part of the Department of the Interior, was established in 1946 to administer grazing and mineral rights when the U.S. Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office. Today it manages 246 million acres of land, mostly in the Western U.S., ranging from lush Northwestern forests to arid, oil-rich sage grouse habitat. The BLM leases federal public lands for mineral mining, oil and gas extraction, grazing, timber production and solar and wind energy development. In 2016, the agency had a budget of $1.2 billion and about 11,000 employees, including 200 rangers and 70 special agents who enforce federal laws on public lands, plus about 25,000 volunteers.

The Trump administration has taken a different approach:

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any federal agency. This land is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield.

The Obama administration’s days of mismanagement of federal lands are over. Thanks to the Trump administration’s approach, the United States has become a net exporter of fossil fuels. That approach has also super-charged that portion of the economy.

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