The Front Page Cover
 The Events of the Week -- Featruring: 
Republican Health Plan Is Worth a Closer Look
by David Thornton
 Will More American Troops Finally Finish ISIL? 
By Michael Swartz: In 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stood at Mosul's Great Mosque and declared himself the "caliph," the ruler of all Muslims. His bold assertion came at a time when the Islamic State had taken the city as part of an offensive that expanded its reach from the center of Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad, with the Syrian city of Raqqa acting as its capital. While it had no set borders, at the time the Islamic State caliphate controlled much of the desert frontier that composes the eastern sections of Syria and northern region of Iraq, with Mosul being its largest population center.
          After a long run-up to battle, late last year Iraqi forces — with American logistical assistance — began to retake Mosul, and they now control the eastern half of the city. As the Iraqi regulars work their way westward, American observers are beginning to feel optimistic that Mosul will soon fall. "The game is up," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew Isler. "They have lost this fight and what you're seeing now is a delaying action." Mosul's capture would effectively wipe out the Iraqi portion of the Islamic State, leaving Raqqa as their last, most heavily fortified stronghold.
          That battle for Raqqa may be joined by a limited number of American troops. In a drastic departure from Barack liar-nObama's methods of political agenda first, last and always, Donald Trump is deferring more to his military experts in the field. They've already made one key strategic decision in preparation for taking the Syrian city and are weighing the benefits of a second.
          Currently underway is the introduction of a "couple hundred" Marines to the region surrounding Raqqa, in order to pre-position heavy artillery assets. Those Marines don't count against the liar-nObama administration's limit of 503 total troops in Syria, because they're only there on a temporary basis. That arbitrary limit may be the reason for considering the second strategic move: placing about 1,000 troops in Kuwait as a reserve force that can rotate in and out of the region as needed.
          A strategic move that's not being considered is a hunt for al-Baghdadi, who has left his Islamic State fighters in the field and is reportedly on the run in northern Iraq, hiding out among Sunni tribal sympathizers in a widespread region of desert along the Iraqi-Syrian frontier. His last public communication, urging the Islamic State irregulars fighting for Mosul not to surrender but to fight to the death, was released in early November, before the election. Yet al-Baghdadi seems somewhat more hesitant to meet his 72 virgins in paradise, apparently preferring to lead from behind.
          One thing President Trump may find regarding his vow to defeat the Islamic State, though, is that few of his strategic decisions will escape the notice of the press. For example, the Marines' entry to Syria was first reported (with great detail) by the Washington Post, an outlet that will certainly make sure all interested parties are aware of any American strategy they learn about. The old admonition that "loose lips sink ships" doesn't seem to hold any water with the media these days, and apparently there are plenty of unnamed "defense officials" who don't mind sharing this information.
          Also of newfound interest to the press, now that we have a Republican commander in chief, will be the re-introduction of body counts, particularly as the fighting moves from the remoteness of rearward air support and logistics to house-to-house fighting like that in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago. Despite our best efforts to minimize casualties, and despite President Trump's moving tribute to the widow of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens during his address to a joint session of Congress last week, our jihadist enemies can now count on the American media to exploit our nation's weak stomach for a bloody and extended asymmetrical fight.
          Still, as an entity, the so-called Islamic State will be lucky to make it much beyond the third anniversary of al-Baghdadi's pronouncement of its establishment. But the impact of the fight to suppress it — as the latest phase of a generation-long foray into the Middle East that began with Desert Storm a quarter-century ago and has continued nearly unabated since the 9/11 attack — will surely affect our foreign policy for decades.  ~The Patriot Post
Time For Disloyal Establishment Turncoat
Ryan To Vacate Speaker’s Office
by Rick Wells
{} ~ Lou Dobbs reminds us that back in October of last year he described Speaker Paul Ryan as seemingly “hellbound on destroying the Republican Party and that he had no concept of unity or his responsibility as Speaker.”... Dobbs says, “It was actually worse than that. He was determined to destroy Donald Trump. And now, five months later, I believe the Speaker is in the exact same place, as he faces opposition from dozens of conservatives in the House and other conservative groups as well on his plan to repeal and replace liar-nObamacare.” “A new PPP poll conducted in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin,” Dobbs points out, “in that district finding more voters oppose Ryancare than favor the legislation, that’s in his home district. That same poll also showing more voters in Ryan’s hometown have a favorable opinion of President Trump than they do of Speaker Ryan.”...
Kim Jong-un’s Next Nuclear Weapons Test Might
Be His Last, Says High-Ranking Defector
by Ryan Pickrell
{} ~ North Korea is suspected to be building a nuclear bomb much larger and dangerous than anything it has ever tested... Commercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site shows extensive tunneling for a test of a nuclear weapon with extremely high explosive yields, reports 38 North, a research site run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. While there is the possibility North Korea is simply taking extra safety precautions, the North could also be preparing to test a 282-kiloton nuclear bomb. “The nuclear test which the North is trying to conduct at the Punggye-ri test site will break the country into two pieces,” Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected last year, explained to Voice of America...
On George Soros
{} ~ “Nothing scares rats like Soros more than American patriotism!” Lahren exclaimed. George Soros is the embodiment of evil who seeks to tear our country apart, as he has done to other countries in the past... He is the opposite of President Trump, who has sacrificed greatly to make our country great again. This is the strategy of “divide and conquer,” which is, according to Lahren, the “strategy of maintaining control over one’s subordinates by encouraging dissent among them.” This is why Soros funds anti-American groups like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Soros pretends to care through his philanthropy, but it is clear by the hate groups he decides to fund that he does not care about the plight of black people or ensuring justice is brought against Wall Street. If Soros wanted to help the black community, he would help the brave law enforcement officials who work every day making the streets safer — instead, he funds a group that calls for “dead cops.”...
Saudi Offer Money, Troops To Fight ISIS –
Were Turned Down By liar-nObama
by Rick Wells
{} ~ Bret Baier points to the meeting today between President Trump and Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, at the White House... Baier is joined by Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud, an advisor to Deputy Crown Prince Al Saud and a member of their royal family. He reports that it is his understanding that the meeting went well and that the two men got along quite fine with one another. He said they discussed many important issues and found agreement on most of them. He said that the Prince “was very keen to come and meet President Trump as early as possible to emphasize the importance of the relationship between the two countries and to reinvigorate their strategic, longstanding partnership that we’ve had.” He points out, “We’ve been partners and allies for fifty years, we’ve worked very well together, Saudi Arabia has been a stable and reliable partner for the United States for that time. And I think Prince Mohammad was keen to make sure that we can move into the 21st century together in a very positive and mutually beneficial way.”...
Iran vows to 'liberate' Golan Heights
by Chana Roberts
{} ~ A new Iran-funded Iraqi Hezbollah "brigade" aims to "liberate" the Golan Heights from Israel, spokesman Seyed Hashem Moussavi last week said last week at a news conference in Iran... According to Iranian news agency Tasnim, Moussavi, who heads the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba terror sub-group, said, "After the latest victories in Syria and Iraq, we established the ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’. "This is a trained army with specific plans. If the government of Syria requests, we and our allies are ready to take action to liberate Golan. We will not permit Arab and Islamic countries in the region to remain in the grasps of the occupiers."...
Republican Health Plan Is Worth a Closer Look
by David Thornton
{} ~ There has been a firestorm of conservative opposition to TrumpCare, as the American Health Care Act is already becoming known. The Republican health care plan has been widely panned and even viewed as a betrayal by many on the right.
To find out more about what the bill contains, I sat down and read it. Unlike liar-nObamacare, the Republican health care bill is posted on the internet in its entirety. The bill took less than two hours to read. References to sections of other laws such as the ACA make it difficult to get the full grasp of some parts of the bill, but it’s easy to get a general overview of most of the proposals.
The first two sections deal with “Patient Access to Public Health Programs” and “Medicaid Program Enhancement.” These sections dealt with reforms to Medicaid. Some of the items included, listed in order with their section number were:
*Banning Medicaid money for abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood (103)
*Repealing the Medicaid expansion effective January 1, 2020 (112) – The Medicaid expansion was the largest expansion of coverage under liar-nObamacare.
*Limits the eligibility for Medicaid (114)
*Creates incentives for states to qualify Medicare recipients more often and penalizes those that carry ineligible people on the rolls (116)
The next section, “Per Capita Allotment for Medical Assistance,” also deals with Medicaid reform.
*Caps Medicaid spending on a per person basis (1903A)
Subpart D is entitled “Patient Relief and Health Market Stability.”
*Repeals liar-bObamacare’s cost-sharing subsidy with insurance companies (131)
*Creates a Patient and State Stability Fund that empowers states to create risk pools for high risk individuals, promote preventive care, reduce costs and reduce out-of-pocket costs for insureds (2202)
*This section also describes the Continuous Health Coverage Incentive for people who drop their health insurance and sign up again. This is a 30 percent penalty for people who do not have 63 days of continuous coverage in the previous 12 months. This is not a popular provision, but liar-nObamacare’s clause guaranteeing insurability for previous conditions is something most Americans want to keep. If this provision is to be kept, some sort of mechanism is necessary to prevent people from waiting until they get sick to buy insurance. (133, 2711)
*Amends liar-nObamacare to increase insurance policy options (134)
There are many individual sections of the bill that repeal liar-nObamacare taxes as well. One section of the bill is titled “Repeal and Replace of Health-Related Tax Policy.”
*Repeals the tanning tax
*Repeals the tax on prescription medications
*Repeals the Health Insurance Tax
*Repeals the Net Investment Income Tax
*Prohibits tax credits for abortion coverage (02-04)
*Repeals individual mandate (05)
*Repeals tax on employee insurance premiums and benefits (07)
*Repeals tax on over-the-counter medications (08)
*Repeals tax increase on Health Savings Accounts (09)
*Repeal of limits on Flexible Savings Account contributions (10)
*Repeal of medical device tax (11)
*Repeals the increase in the threshold of the medical income tax deduction. The threshold would return to 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income from the current 10 percent. (12)
*Repeal of the Medicare tax increase (14)
*Section 15 deals with the refundable tax credits for insurance premiums. Section 7529 allows advance payment of the credit. This is a problematic section.
*Increases the HSA contribution limit to equal the amount of the policy’s deductible and out-of-pocket limits (16)
*Permits catch-up contributions to HSAs (17)
*Treats medical expenses within 60 days of the establishment of an HSA as occurring on the first day the account was opened. This would allow HSA funds to be used for a condition that occurred shortly before opening the account. (18)
*The AHCA is not a perfect bill. It is also not a betrayal of the Republican promise to repeal and replace liar-nObamacare. In fact, many of the provisions in the bill have been on the wish list for conservatives long before liar-nObamacare became law.
Republicans are in a weaker position than Democrats were when they passed liar-nObamacare. As Jamie Dupree of the Atlanta Journal points out, Democrats had 60 votes, enough to break a Republican filibuster, when the Senate originally passed the bill on Christmas Eve 2009. They subsequently lost a vote when Scott Brown (R-Mass.) was elected to the Senate and used the reconciliation process for the second bill of the liar-nObamacare package. Both bills ultimately became law in March 2010.
Republicans have only 52 Senate votes, which is not enough to end a Democrat filibuster. At least four of the Republican votes would not be reliable for a clean repeal bill. A perfect bill is simply not possible.
The current Republican plan is three-pronged. First, the reconciliation process will repeal as much of liar-nObamacare as possible with the AHCA. Second, President’s Trump’s appointees will kill as much liar-nObamacare regulation as possible through administrative rulemaking. Finally, the remainder of liar-nObamacare will be repealed and replaced through a traditional bill. This bill would ideally enact other reforms that cannot be part of the budget reconciliation such as allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines. The third phase will be the most difficult since that bill would be subject to a Democrat filibuster.
Since an outright repeal is impossible and since the AHCA does contain many good conservative reforms, the best solution is to improve the current bill. The American Enterprise Institute has identified several changes that could be incorporated into the AHCA to lower costs and help stabilize the insurance market. Other conservative think tanks and members of Congress could probably improve the bill even more.
Now that the Republican plan is in the open, party leaders should slow down and allow time for a national debate on the merits of the legislation. By rushing forward with an unpopular and flawed bill, Republicans may well repeat the experience of the Democrats who pushed through a bill that only became less popular as its cobbled together provisions made the problem worse. The Democrats ultimately lost control of both houses of Congress and the presidency because of liar-nObamacare. Republicans should learn from these Democrat mistakes.
Conversely, killing the Republican health care reform would be a major victory for the Democrats and may well scuttle efforts to repeal liar-nObamacare permanently. A better solution is to work to improve the current House bill.
Republicans could just say no when Barack liar-nObama was president, but with a Republican in the White House, they have to be realistic. They have to have a plan… a realistic one that can pass the House and Senate. Right now, improving the AHCA seems to be the best option.

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Newsweek’s Headquarters
Raided By The NYPD

The headquarters of Newsweek was raided by the NYPD Thursday morning. Police reportedly took photos of the magazine’s servers.

New York Post reports:

About two dozen NYPD officers and investigators from the Manhattan district attorney’s office raided the offices of Newsweek and its parent company, IBT Media, on Thursday.

IBT Media was co-founded by Jonathan Davis and Etienne Uzac. The IRS placed a $1.2 million federal tax lien against Uzac in December 2017.

The agents were said to be photographing servers in the offices, but not downloading any files at the offices on 7 Hanover Square, according to sources.

Few details have emerged from the raid.

“Looking into reports that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office @ManhattanDA raided Newsweek/IBT Offices today….sources say police have been there for hours. The DA has declined to comment,” tweeted reporter Avi Asher-Schapiro.

Newsweek is also in the news Thursday after an “insider” told The Wrap editor Jon Levine that the magazine has abandoned journalism for “rage clicks,” in the Trump-era.

“Newsweek was once a premiere media organization and an incredible springboard for young journalists hoping to grow a name for themselves,” the source told Levine.

“The company culture has turned the newsroom into a toxic work environment, while the publication has descended into a content farm for last-resort clickbait,” the source added.


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