HEADLINES & NOTES
Clinton Staffer Who Worked on
Private Server Will Plead the Fifth
A former State Department staffer who worked on Hillary Rodham Clinton's private e-mail server tried this week to fend off a subpoena to testify before Congress, saying he would assert his constitutional right not to answer questions to avoid incriminating himself. The move by Bryan Pagliano, who had worked on Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the server in her New York home in 2009, came in a Monday letter from his lawyer to the House panel investigating the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Trump Will Sign GOP Loyalty Pledge
A close associate tells POLITICO that Donald Trump plans to sign a loyalty pledge Thursday that would bind him to endorsing the Republican nominee and would preclude a third-party run. Trump made the stunning decision, which he has long resisted, to avoid complications in getting listed on primary ballots, and to take away an attack line in the next debate, the associate said.
Trump has long viewed the threat of a third-party candidacy as priceless leverage and even used that word when he refused to take such a pledge in the first debate on Aug. 6.
Emanuel Calls for Largest Property
Tax Hike in Modern Chicago History
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is set to call for the largest property tax increase in modern Chicago history to raise enough money to make a major pension payment for police and firefighters next year, the mayor's City Council floor leader and a City Hall source said late Wednesday. The mayor also plans to push a new garbage collection tax, a new per-ride fee on taxis and ride-hailing services such as Uber and a new tax on electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.
Russian Nuclear Buildup
Challenges Obama's Reduction Goal
Pres. Obama's decision two years ago to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in US military and defense policies is being challenged by Russia's large-scale buildup of nuclear forces, along with Moscow's revised nuclear doctrine and recent threats to use the weapons. The US guidance was outlined in a 2013 White House order called Presidential Policy Directive-24, which calls for reducing the role of US nuclear weapons in national security strategy and maintaining deterrence with smaller nuclear forces.
Clinton Emails Contained Spy
Satellite Data on No.Korean Nukes
One of the most serious potential breaches of national security identified so far by the intelligence community inside Hillary Clinton’s private emails involves the relaying of classified information concerning the movement of North Korean nuclear assets, which was obtained from spy satellites. Multiple intelligence sources said spy satellite information is frequently classified at the top-secret level and handled within a special compartment called Talent-Keyhole. This means it is one of the most sensitive forms of intelligence gathered by the US.
Obama Wins Critical Backing on
Iran Deal with Retiring Senator's Vote
The Obama administration now appears to have enough support in Congress to stave off Republican efforts to reject his controversial Iran nuclear deal. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), announced her support for the deal ahead of a speech on the agreement by Sec. of State John Kerry. She becomes the 34th senator to support the deal, giving Pres. Obama enough backing to sustain a veto of a Republican bill opposing it, should that bill pass in a vote later this month.
McConnell: GOP Congress
Can't Defund Planned Parenthood
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), made the strongest statement yet on Tuesday that the Republican-led Congress will not attempt to defund Planned Parenthood in must-pass government funding legislation this fall. Speaking to WYMT Television in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell said the pending "battle" over government funding would not include a provision to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood.
Watchdog Calls for FEC Probe
of Illegal Hired as Fellow by DNC
A watchdog has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission charging that the Democrat National Committee violated federal law when it hired an illegal immigrant as a "fellow" ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Judicial Watch said in a complaint to the FEC that the DNC had hired Cindy Nava, a so-called "Dreamer," as of June, despite the fact that her application for DACA had not yet been approved. Federal law bars foreign nationals from participating "directly or indirectly in the decision-making process" of federal, state, or local election-related activities.
Eight Texas Counties List
More Voters Than Residents
A vote-watch group is accusing eight Texas counties of violating the National Voting Rights Act by failing to purge dead and ineligible voters. The counties — Loving, Brooks, McMullen, Roberts, Irion, Jim Hogg, Culberson and Polk — list a combined 52,298 registered voters. But the latest US Census data show only 49,457 voting-age residents in those counties. County officials told Watchdog.org they are reviewing their voter lists in response to True the Vote's threat of legal action.
Putin Drafts Bill to Dump Dollar
as Trade Currency for CIS
Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin has drafted a bill that aims to eliminate the US dollar and the euro from trade between Commonwealth of Independent States countries. his means the creation of a single financial market between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, and according to the agreement between Russia, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan, an obligatory transition to settlements in the national currencies must occur in 2025-2030. Today, some 50% of turnover in the EEU is in dollars and euro, which increases the dependence of the union on countries issuing those currencies.
The Email Issue Goes
Beyond Just Hillary Clinton
As scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton's illegal use of unsecured email servers to access classified information during her time as US Secretary of State continues to unravel her presidential aspirations, a more comprehensive overview of the many email issues related to the Obama Administration presents a more sinister possibility. From the State Department to the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to the White House itself, everywhere you turn in the Obama Administration there has been an issue with high-ranking personnel using alternative email accounts and/or servers for government business and then refusing access to those communications to oversight authority. In 2010, President Barack Obama, speaking in Elyria, Ohio, bragged, "We have put in place the toughest ethics laws and toughest transparency rules of any administration in history...in history! And by the way, this is the first administration since the founding of the country where all of you can find out who visits the White House. First time in history! And that's just one example." In fact, Mr. Obama's claim to open visitor's logs was first trumpeted in 2009. It sounded good, like his claim that his was the most transparent administration in history. Alas, as usual, what sounds good during his "speechifying" never quite pans out to be the truth.
Trump-ettes, You Can't
Have It Both Ways
A funny thing happened on the way to the "Forum," the "guy who doesn't back down," the "fighter," got his nose bloodied and his sycophants didn't care for it one bit. If that sounds harsh, then let me borrow from the "fighter's" own words. I don't have time for political correctness. I also don't have time for so-called Republicans and Conservatives who want the game disingenuously skewed to their advantage. Nor do I have time for hypocrites. This is not a screed that poses to apologize for FOX News. I have my own reasons – events that happened to me personally when I was asked to appear on The O'Reilly Factor so many years ago – for not kneeling at the FOX altar. But neither will I bow to the knee-jerk canonization of Donald Trump as the end-all-be-all for the Conservative cause in 2016.
The Democrats Now Own Iran. They'll Soon Wish They Didn't
JONATHAN S. TOBIN
President Obama got what he's been working toward all year. With Senator Barbara Mikulski's announcement that she will vote to support the Iran nuclear deal, the administration got its 34th vote in the Senate, thus assuring that the president will have enough support to sustain a veto of a resolution of disapproval of the pact. Mikulski was just the latest of a number of Senate Democrats to throw in with the president on Iran. The only suspense now is whether Obama will get to 41 and thus have enough for a filibuster and prevent a vote on the deal from even taking place. Leaving aside the terrible damage the deal does to US security and the stability of the Middle East, the most far-reaching effect of the deal is that from now on Democrats own Iran. From this moment forward, every act of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, every instance of Iranian aggression and adventurism as well as the Islamist regime's inevitable march to a nuclear weapon can be laid at the feet of a Democrat Party. With a few exceptions, the Democrats fell meekly behind a president determined to prioritize détente with Iran over the alliance with Israel and the need to defend US interests. By smashing the bipartisan consensus that had existed on Iran up until this year, the Democrats have, in effect, become the hostages of the ayatollahs. This is a decision that will haunt them in the years to come. In analyzing the struggle that was ultimately won by Obama, it must first be acknowledged that the outcome was determined primarily by a mismatch in terms of the relative power of the two sides.
Debunking the Myth of Socialist 'Success' in Scandinavia
Supporters of Big Government and the nanny state everywhere have for decades glorified the imagined success of Scandinavia's massive welfare states, citing Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland as alleged proof that drastic restrictions on economic liberty can co-exist with prosperity. In the new book Scandinavian Unexceptionalism: Culture, Markets and the Failure of Third-Way Socialism, however, academic Nima Sanandaji, PhD, makes an iron-clad case showing that the Nordic nations' relative success predates the welfare state. Indeed, the region actually provides bountiful evidence of the benefits of free markets and economic freedom, and of the harm wrought by Big Government. With one of the leading 2016 US presidential contenders, self-styled socialist Bernie Sanders, openly advocating the transformation of America into a Scandinavian-style welfare-state utopia on national television, the book's message is timely indeed from an American perspective. But as the monograph explains, Sanders, whose campaign has recently surged past Hillary Clinton's among voters in the key primary state of New Hampshire, is hardly alone in totally misunderstanding the lessons Scandinavia can offer Americans and the world. Left-wing celebrities, politicians, journalists, and ideologues worldwide have also been pointing to the Nordic nations for decades as a model to emulate. As Sanandaji explains clearly in his meticulously sourced book, though, what most Big Government advocates see as desirable outcomes in Scandinavia - relative prosperity, high levels of income equality, long lifespans, good health, low levels of poverty, and more - all predate the welfare state.
Are the Dollar's Days as the Global Reserve Currency Numbered?
WILLIAM T. WILSON, PHD
The US dollar has dominated the international monetary system since the end of World War II. While the US economy has generated weak growth since 2009, and accumulated a large sovereign debt, the dollar's status as an international medium of exchange and reserve currency has not diminished. The Chinese renminbi (RMB), however, barely visible in international trade or financial flows just three years ago, appears to be blossoming. China is now the world's largest trading nation, and more corporations, particularly in Asia, are beginning to invoice their business in RMB. The Chinese regime is calling for a reform of the international monetary system to expand the internationalization of the RMB. Speculation has begun about whether the US dollar could be supplanted by the RMB. Such a development would jeopardize the enormous economic advantages that the US has enjoyed by possessing the world's dominant currency. Moreover, it would signal a relative decline in American prestige and global leadership. The answer to the dollar's potential decline is not to seek obstacles to China's or any other nation's economic success, but to change fiscal and monetary policies at home in order to maintain the dollar's competitiveness.
The US dollar has dominated the international monetary system for approximately 70 years. While the US economy has generated weak growth over the past six years and accumulated a large sovereign debt, the dollar's status as an international medium of exchange and reserve currency (currency held by foreign central banks) has defied the odds and has not diminished. On the other hand, the Chinese renminbi (RMB), barely visible in international trade or financial flows just three years ago, appears to be blossoming.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"If you would not confront your neighbor and demand his money at the point of a gun to solve every new problem that may appear in your life, you should not allow the government to do it for you." ~ William E. Simon