Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Politics

Illinois Governor Gives Tax Increases to Placate Democrats Before Deadline

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 22, 2017: 

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (shown), speaking briefly to a closed session at the state house on Tuesday night, urged “unity” in solving the state’s staggering and rapidly accelerating financial problems. Those present reported afterward that the governor declared, “Failure to act [on his budget proposal] is not an option. Failure to act may cause permanent damage to our state that will take years to overcome.”

The state has already suffered massive damage.

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Trump’s Legal Advisor Sekulow Brings Eternal View Into Secular Politics

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 21, 2017:

Jay Sekulow lecturing

Jay Sekulow lecturing

Following a whirlwind tour of weekend mainstream media talk shows, Jay Sekulow has emerged as President Donald Trump’s latest legal advisor. Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s legal team, made it official on Tuesday: “Jay is a member of the president’s legal team in the fullest sense of the word. He is also authorized to speak on television or otherwise.”

Sekulow wrote of his first presentation of a case before the Supreme Court: “Me, a short Jewish guy from Brooklyn, New York, went before the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States to defend the constitutional right to stand in an airport and hand out tracts about Jesus!”

The group he was defending was Jews for Jesus, and Sekulow was serving as its chief counsel.

Jews for Jesus? Sekulow couldn’t make this up. Raised in a nominally Jewish household, he met a “Jesus Freak” while attending Mercer University (then called Atlanta Baptist College), who became a close friend. Sekulow’s skepticism that Jesus is the Jewish messiah turned to curiosity, and he determined to get to the bottom of the matter:

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Otto Warmbier’s Death Reveals the Depths of Human Depravity Extant in the World Today

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, June 21, 2017:

Flag-map of North Korea

Flag-map of North Korea

In Joshua Stanton’s Arsenal of Terror – North Korea, State Sponsor of Terrorism, prepared in 2015 for The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, he summarizes the depths of depravity North Korea’s leaders have sunk to in order to oppress that sad country’s citizenry and threaten its neighbors:

North Korea’s sponsorship of terrorism is a threat to human rights in several regions of the world today, including the United States. It involves the sale or transfer of weapons to foreign terrorist organizations.

 

It involves threats to North Korean émigrés and refugees, and South Korean human rights activists, who have become targets for kidnapping and assassination by North Korean agents.

 

More recently, it involves threats to freedom of expression in the United States, and represents a growing threat to the safety of South Korea’s civilian population.

Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was detained by North Korea for a year and a half, was released to the US in a coma last week and died Monday. When Stanton learned that Otto Warmbier’s death was likely caused by oxygen deprivation and not botulism as claimed by his captors, he wasn’t surprised. An attorney with 18 years of both military and civilian experience in the “art” of North Korean torture techniques, and a frequent testifier before congressional committees about North Korea’s atrocities, Stanton wrote:

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Otto Warmbier Died of Oxygen Deprivation, Not Botulism as Claimed by His Torturers

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 20, 2017: 

The pain and grief suffered by the parents of Otto Warmbier, the American college student sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster while in North Korea last year, was evident in their statement issued Monday afternoon:

It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today in 2:20pm.

 

It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds. But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched — Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two — that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.

The statement put the lie to the claim by his captors that Otto died as a result of botulism early in his captivity. Instead, he died as a result of torture:

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Rotary International Reverses Its Anti-gun Policy Following Membership Complaints

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, June 19, 2017: 

The Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation

Rotary International, the international service organization with 35,000 chapters and 1.2 million members worldwide, reversed itself last week and lifted nearly all of the board’s anti-gun policies inserted surreptitiously into its Code of Policies in January.

One is hard-pressed to find the anti-gun language in the Code, which runs to 461 pages. But it is found on pages 227 and 228, under Section 36.010, Paragraphs 2 and 8:

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Gov’t Collects Record $240 Billion in May; Still Runs $88 Billion Deficit

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, June 16, 2017:

English: Medicare and Medicaid as % GDP Explan...

Medicare and Medicaid as % GDP Explanation: Eventually, Medicare and Medicaid spending absorbs all federal tax revenue.

The U.S. Treasury announced on Thursday that the federal government collected more money in May than in any other month in history: $240.4 billion. In the same breath, it said that the government spent $328.8 billion, creating a deficit of $88.4 billion.

From a wage earner’s perspective, it meant that in May the average worker paid $1,572 in taxes but the government spent $2,149, making up the $577 difference by borrowing. Such deficit spending is making the S&P Global credit rating agency increasingly nervous.

Just a week earlier, the agency affirmed its best rating — A-1+ — for the government’s “short term” debt, which means, in its own parlance, that the federal government’s ability to pay its current bills is “strong.” But in the longer term, the agency is far less sanguine. While holding its current long-term rating at AA+ (one full notch below its best rating), it said it’s unable to give the United States its highest rating (AAA) because of “high general government debt, relatively short-term-oriented policymaking, and uncertainty about policy formulation” for the future. It explained what it meant about that “uncertainty”:

Some of the [Trump] Administration’s policy proposals appear at odds with policies of the traditional Republican leadership and historical base. That, coupled with lack of cohesion, not just across, but within parties, complicates the ability to effectively and proactively advance legislation in Congress, particularly on fiscal policy. Taken together, we don’t expect a meaningful expansion or reduction of the fiscal deficit over the forecast period.

And what does it say about what’s likely to happen over that “forecast period”?

The U.S.’s net general government debt burden (as a share of GDP) remains twice its 2007 level. While, in our view, debt to GDP should hold fairly steady over the next several years, we expect it to rise thereafter absent measures to raise additional revenue and/or cut nondiscretionary expenditures.

What does that phrase “next several years” mean? How much time before the government’s national debt explodes upward? Says S&P:

Although deficits have declined, net general government debt to GDP remains high at about 80% of GDP. Given our growth forecasts and our expectations that credit conditions will remain subdued, thus keeping real interest rates in check, we expect this ratio to hold fairly steady through 2020. At that point, it could deteriorate more sharply, partly as a result of demographic trends.

Translation: Deficit spending will remain “subdued” for three and a half years, and then Katy bar the door!

Here is where S&P bows out of the picture, giving way instead to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which completed the picture in its March report:

Federal debt held by the public, defined as the amount that the federal government borrows from financial markets, has ballooned over the last decade. In 2007, the year the recession began, debt held by the public represented 35 percent of GDP. Just five years later, federal debt held by the public has doubled to 70 percent and is projected to continue rising.

“Continue rising”? By how much? And by when? The CBO is blunt:

Debt has not seen a surge this large since the increase in federal spending during World War II, when debt exceeded 70 percent of GDP. The budget office projects that growing budget deficits will cause the debt to increase sharply over the next three decades, hitting 150 percent of GDP by 2047.

So, that ratio of government debt compared to the country’s economic ability to produce goods and services was 35 percent in 2007, is now 70 percent, and will soon be 150 percent.

And what’s the reason?

The majority of the rise in spending is largely the result of programs like Social Security and Medicare in addition to rising interest rates. For example, Social Security and major health care program spending represented 54 percent of all federal noninterest spending, an increase from the average of 37 percent it has been over the past 50 years.

It appears to be an unstoppable locomotive. Non-discretionary spending (spending already locked into place by past Congresses and fully expected to be received by its beneficiaries) is on autopilot. And interest rates now coming off historic lows are only going to increase those annual deficits into the future as far as the eye can see.

The CBO is about as close as one can get to a truly non-partisan federal agency — one that has no partisan political agenda and is considered by many as the most reliable forecaster of future economic events. So it’s not only willing to cover, analyze, and present its findings candidly, it’s also willing to tell the truth. It asked, rhetorically, “What might the consequences be if current laws remain unchanged?” It answered:

Large and growing federal debt over the coming decades would hurt the economy and constrain future budget policy. The amount of debt that is projected under the extended baseline would reduce national saving and income in the long term; increase the government’s interest costs, putting more pressure on the rest of the budget; limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to unforeseen events; and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis, an occurrence in which investors become unwilling to finance a government’s borrowing unless they are compensated with very high interest rates.

Which brings one to the ultimate rhetorical question: What happens when even those “very high interest rates” aren’t enough to compensate those investors for the risks they are taking by loaning their money to a government that increasingly isn’t able to pay its bills and must continue to borrow increasingly massive amounts to cover its deficits? What happens next?

Is Illinois Admitting that it is a “Failed State”?

This article was published by TheMcAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, June 16, 2017:

The Constitution guarantees every state a republican form of government. Other than that it focuses on the legitimate functions of the national or federal government. The states were invited, as most of them did, to adopt similar state constitutions, limiting state powers to providing essential services: courts, police protection and, over time, other services like power, fire protection, roads, and the like.

There are global indexes of failed states, with many of them naming Somalia as the best (worst) example: crime, corruption, short life spans, poor medical help, and wrenching poverty are the rule there. But with its admission that it can no longer pay general contractors to construct its roads, is Illinois becoming a failed state? Those contractors just received this letter from Illinois:

Dear Contractor:

At this time appropriate funding is not available after June 30, 2017. Thus, work shall cease effective June 30, 2017.

Please bring all projects to a condition that will provide a clear and safely traveled way….

On July 1, 2017, all work shall cease except for maintenance … the department will notify you when work may resume.

Right now the state has $14.5 billion in unpaid bills, an increase of nearly $4 billion just since the end of December, with no end in sight. When Republican Governor Bruce Rauner (above) took office in January 2015 he promised he would bring order out of chaos by cutting government spending, and reining in out-of-control pension benefits and excessive teacher and administrative salaries. In brief, he managed to challenge directly state House speaker Michael Madigan, who, along with Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, has sold out to the teacher unions. When Rauner proposed cutting pension plan contributions, the Supreme Court ruled that he couldn’t – that the state constitution guaranteed that the contracts were inviolable and fully enforceable. That’s when things went downhill. With no possible agreement over state spending – the state has been operating on a pay-as-you-go basis without a budget for nearly three years – unpaid bills began piling up as those contributions had to be paid first and other creditors were forced to take a back seat.

Mathematics and politics are directing Illinois’ future. The math is daunting: with $130 billion in unfunded pension liabilities (which continue to increase despite making the state making the court-required contributions), $14 billion in unpaid bills (and increasing daily), wealthy companies and individuals leaving (Illinois leads the nation in depopulation), property and sales taxes among the highest in the nation, and credit ratings that are eight full notches below the other states in the union, there’s no place to go but down from here.

The state’s inability to rein in its spending has caused a ripple effect, touching the state’s institutions of higher learning. They have been forced to raise tuition and borrow just to stay open and now the credit rating agencies have been busy downgrading their debt issues as well. On June 9, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded seven Illinois universities, with five of them now rated as junk.

As the Illinois Policy Institute noted, the budget stalemate “has led to cuts in state appropriations to Illinois universities. But the universities’ financial difficulties started [long] before the state’s budget gridlock and are largely of their own doing. Illinois colleges and universities have long overspent on bloated bureaucracies and expensive compensation and benefits, prioritizing administrators over students.”

On Wednesday, the president of one of those seven universities just downgraded – Northern Illinois University’s Doug Baker – suddenly announced that he will resign at the end of the month. This followed a bombshell state watchdog report that he and his administrators skirted state bidding requirements by improperly hiring consultants and paying them exorbitant salaries and benefits.

With the millions being poured into the state in support of a Democrat to replace Rauner in 2018, his initial support is melting away. Two-thirds of the populace supported Rauner in 2015, but as of March that support is less than forty percent.

If Rauner is replaced by a Democrat in 2018, then the combination of Democrat policies (and politics) and mathematical inevitability will turn Illinois into a failed state: unable to protect its citizens (see Chicago crime statistics), unable to build and maintain its roads, protecting one class of citizens at the expense of another, and unable to provide education for its citizens or a healthy regulatory climate for small businesses.

If Illinois isn’t a failed state, it will become one shortly. Just ask the general contractors who just received the “Dear Contractor” letter.


Sources:

Illinois Policy Institute: ILLINOIS’ UNPAID BILLS JUMP TO $14.3B

MishTalk.com: Unable to Pay Bills, Illinois Sends “Dear Contractor” Letter Telling Firms to Halt Road Work on July 1

Illinois Policy Institute: MOODY’S DOWNGRADES 7 ILLINOIS UNIVERSITIES, 5 ARE JUNK

Politico: How Illinois became America’s failed state

Heritage.org: Illinois: The Anatomy of a Failed Liberal State

Chicago Tribune: Miller: Illinois in danger of becoming a failed state

Definition of a Failed State

Chicago Tribune: Northern Illinois University president to resign after report alleges mismanagement

 

Illinois Sends “Dear Contractor” Letters Ordering Them to Stop All Road Construction

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 15, 2017: 

English: A photograph of the Springfield Capit...

A photograph of the Springfield Capitol Building

Illinois contractors working on the state’s roads just received a “Dear Contractor” letter from the state ordering them to halt work because the state is out of money to pay them:

At this time appropriate funding is not available after June 30, 2017. Thus, work shall cease effective June 30, 2017.

Please bring all projects to a condition that will provide a clear and safely traveled way….

On July 1, 2017, all work shall cease except for maintenance.… The department will notify you when work may resume.

Right now the state has $14.5 billion in unpaid bills, an increase of nearly $4 billion just since the end of December, with no end in sight. When Republican Governor Bruce Rauner took office in January 2015, he promised he would bring order out of chaos by

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Puerto Rico’s Vote for Statehood Means Nothing

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, June 12, 2017:

Despite 97 percent of Puerto Ricans voting for statehood in Sunday’s plebescite, the chances of adding the island as the country’s 51st state are between slim and none.

The island’s voters had three choices on Sunday’s ballot: Stay as a U.S. territory, move ahead with statehood, or seek full independence as a sovereign nation. This is the fifth vote on the issue since 1967, with the first three failing to gain a majority vote for statehood. That majority is required for the U.S. Congress to consider it. The fourth vote was marred by some 500,000 voters boycotting it to protest the ballot allegedly being rigged in favor of statehood.

The chances this time aren’t any better.

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Puerto Rico’s Governor Seeks an American Taxpayer Bailout

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 12, 2017:

Ever since he announced his campaign for governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, who was installed as the island’s new governor in January, has been pushing for statehood. Offloading his country’s financial problems onto American taxpayers is the American way. By gaining statehood, Puerto Rico would be poorer than Mississippi, the poorest of the American states, and therefore would be the likely recipient of federal largesse by the truckload. As Rossello said so clearly,

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What’s Life Really Like in Venezuela?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, June 9, 2017:

Personal suffering under socialist and communist regimes is often buried under mounds of statistics. In Venezuela, for example, observers know that Maduro’s madness has caused its economy to shrink by a quarter since 2013, that unemployment touches one out of four, that the bolivar is essentially worthless thanks to runaway inflation, that grocery stores and supermarkets have miles of empty shelves, that dozens of protesters have been shot and killed, thousands of others have been arrested and are rotting away in filthy jails with some of them being tortured daily, and on and on.

Once in a while, however, the truth bubbles to the surface, sometimes in out-of-the-way places. 

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Venezuela’s Bonds Selling at Massive Discounts for Fear of Default

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 8, 2017:

When it was learned that Goldman Sachs had purchased $2.8 billion of Venezuela’s bonds for just $865 million — a 69-percent discount — the firm received criticism from opponents of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro (shown). The critics claimed that by buying them, even at such a fire sale price, Goldman allowed Maduro to pay some critical bills that kept his corrupt Marxist regime afloat for a little while longer.

Now comes word that Maduro has resorted to desperation financing — what the Wall Street Journal calls “unorthodox” — by issuing bonds to one of its state-owned banks, which then

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Trump Picks Wray to Head FBI; Mainstream Media Say It’s Smokescreen for Comey Hearing

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 7, 2017:

The mainstream media, alerted to a Tweet President Trump sent early Wednesday morning indicating that he would nominate high-profile litigator Christopher Wray as FBI director, scrambled to find something negative to say about the choice. The best the New York Times could come up with was that he is a “hybrid pick,” whatever that means, but that the timing was suspicious: “Mr. Trump’s news may represent an attempt to inject credibility [whatever that means] into an investigation [that starts on Thursday].”

CNN likewise could find nothing negative in Wray’s background, so it, the least credible member of the MSM, focused instead on the timing,

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Democrats Love to Tax the Rich – Except When it’s THEIR Rich

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Tuesday, June 6, 2017: 

The Trump tax reform proposal has put the Democrats into a deliciously difficult position. He wants to eliminate state and local deductions for income and property taxes (but leave charitable and mortgage deductions alone) as part of his attempt to keep his proposal revenue-neutral.

The amounts involved are enormous. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that, if passed, it would cost the rich $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years. The Tax Foundation ran the same numbers and came up with an even bigger number: $1.8 trillion.

The law currently allows state and local income and property taxes to be deducted in calculating an individual’s federal tax liability. But, as both tax groups noted, those benefitting the most from the deductions happen to live in liberal, Democrat-leaning and supporting states. This forces Democrats to face a conundrum:

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Aetna Next to Leave Connecticut for Better Business Climate

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 6, 2017: 

Aetna Insurance Company and Aetna National Ban...

Aetna Insurance Company and Aetna National Bank, Hartford, Conn, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views

Aetna, the $50 billion health insurer that has had its headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut, since 1853, confirmed rumors last week that it was looking to move out of state. The company said, “We are in negotiations with several states regarding a headquarters relocation, with the goal of broadening our access to innovation and the talent that will fill knowledge-economy type positions … and hope to have a final resolution by early summer.”

Hartford’s Mayor Luke Bronin expressed his disappointment:

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Trump’s Plan to Eliminate State, Local Tax Deductions Puts Dems in Difficulty

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 6, 2017: 

Tax Foundation

Two tax policy groups — the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation — agree on at least one thing in President Trump’s tax proposal: The elimination of favorite tax deductions used by the wealthy would cost them dearly. The Tax Policy Center calculated that it would cost the rich $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years, while the Tax Foundation put the figure at more than $1.8 trillion.

The law currently allows state and local income and property taxes to be deducted in calculating an individual’s federal tax liability. But as both tax groups noted,

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Hartford, Connecticut’s Troubles Mounting; Looking to Invoke Bankruptcy

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 6, 2017:  

The Connecticut State Capitol in downtown Hartford

The Connecticut State Capitol in downtown Hartford

Joseph De Avila, writing in the Wall Street Journal following Aetna’s announcement of its imminent departure from Hartford for more business-friendly climes, used the “B” word: “Hartford, Connecticut’s capital city and hub of the state’s insurance industry, is edging closer to a small club of American municipalities: those that have sought bankruptcy protection.”

As a hanging tends to focus the mind, so is Aetna’s departure focusing more and more attention on Hartford’s financial problems and, to a greater extent, those of the state of Connecticut itself. After being headquartered in Hartford since before the Civil War, Aetna said

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Trump Considering Oil Sanctions Against Venezuela

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, June 5, 2017:

Senior White House officials, speaking anonymously to Reuters on Sunday, said that the Trump administration is considering various potential sanctions against the socialist Venezuelan regime headed up by Marxist Nicolas Maduro. Reuters assured its readers that the administration is just considering them, and there is nothing imminent planned — at least for the moment.

The present “package” of possible sanctions includes

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What’s Wrong with Connecticut?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 5, 2017: 

English: Aetna building in Hartford, Connectic...

Aetna building in Hartford, Connecticut

The state has a staggering deficit of more than $5 billion, home prices are about where they were a decade ago, unemployment is rising (not falling as it is elsewhere in the northeast), and big companies who have been there for decades are leaving.

What is going on?

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Credit Rating of Illinois Cut Again to One Notch Above Junk

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, June 2, 2017: 

English: 1987 Illinois license plate

The day after Illinois failed to reach a budget agreement (for the third year in a row), Moody’s Investors Service followed S&P Global Ratings by downgrading the state’s credit rating to just one notch above junk status. The legislature has 30 days to come up with a budget or else the state’s rating will be downgraded further to junk status.

Moody’s was blunt in its assessment of the rolling catastrophe: “Legislative gridlock has sidetracked efforts not only to address pension needs [$129 billion in unfunded liabilities] but also to achieve fiscal balance [the state has $14.5 billion in unpaid bills with $800 million in late fees and penalties adding to the total]. Moody’s analyst Ted Hampton added:

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.