Thursday Noon ~ thefrontpagecover

~ Featuring ~
Trump and Officers Blast Chicago's Top Cop
Thomas Gallatin  
End the Failed Renewable
Fuel Standard Experiment
{ } ~ It’s time for the annual congressional fight over the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS... In one corner sit corn farmers and their representatives, who fight tenaciously not just to preserve the RFS but also to expand it. In the other sits, well, just about everyone else. Whether you are a refiner, a consumer, an environmentalist, a free market economist or just someone who cares about good government, there is ample reason to oppose the ethanol mandate. Since 2005, the federal government has required that refineries blend increasing amounts of ethanol grain alcohol with gasoline. There are requirements for cellulosic, biodiesel, and advanced biofuels, with the rest of the mandate typically being met by corn ethanol since it is the cheapest. The stated goals of the RFS were to reduce reliance on foreign energy and to move toward cleaner fuel sources. It falls short on both fronts. Worries about dependence on foreign oil were mitigated by the U.S. shale oil and fracking boom, exemplifying the sort of innovation and market changes that central planners inevitably fail to account for. The RFS is worse than unnecessary when it comes to reducing foreign energy consumption, which is itself a goal of dubious benefit. The RFS works against this objective because meeting the excessive biodiesel mandate has actually required significant imports. Compounding bad policy with worse, the Commerce Department keeps imposing tariffs on countries selling the cheapest biofuels available to meet the mandate. The RFS also fails to deliver on the environmental front. A recent Cato Institute report by Arthur Wardle highlights the impact of expanded land use for corn — with the increased application of nitrogen fertilizer leading to runoff that contributes to the hypoxic dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and kills sea life — as evidence that “the research on the Renewable Fuels Standard is clear that it degrades the environment.” The Cato report also cites a meta-analysis, published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, of studies that modeled the life cycle greenhouse gas emission of ethanol versus gasoline and found a meager reduction of only 0.23 percent. Sadly, Congress is not currently preparing to revisit the big picture. The current battle is primarily over the use of waivers authorized by the law to mitigate the negative impact of the mandate on small refiners that are unable to blend their own ethanol or afford offsets. The House just convened a hearing on the topic, titled “Protecting the RFS: The Trump Administration’s Abuse of Secret Waivers.”...    
Syria Upheaval Opens 
New Door for Tehran's Attack Plans
by Yaakov Lappin
{ } ~ The latest upheaval in northeast Syria caused by Turkey's invasion, and the division of the Syrian plunder among Turkey, the Assad regime, and Russia... presents Iran with new avenues for building up attack capabilities, and for further destabilizing the region. This development comes as Israel's defense establishment deals with an increase in concern over Iranian attack plots. Some Iranian activities have presented urgent, clear and present dangers. Those include, for example, an Iranian attack cell that was in the final stages of preparing an explosive drone attack in August when it was struck by the Israeli Air Force. From Israel's perspective, developments in Syria are creating an unmistakable deterioration in the security situation due to an increase in both the quality and quantity of Iranian offensive activities. As the Assad regime, backed by Russia and Iran, wraps up the civil war and takes back more and more territory from what remains of rebel forces, Iran is exploiting the situation to try to set up bases for building and firing missiles and drones at Israel. Iran has pursued these efforts for more than two years, but has been effectively checked by Israeli preventative action. Now Iran is threatening to respond to future Israeli strikes, raising tensions considerably. It is also trying to help Hizballah build precision missiles, allowing it to accurately target strategic Israeli sites – a capability Israel has marked as a clear red line that it will not allow Hizballah or Iran to cross. Israel is on high alert across its northern front as it monitors and works to block the increased activities of the Iranian Quds Force – the shadowy overseas operations unit under the command of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who answers directly to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei... 
Third Election Looking Likely 
With Coalition Talks at a Deadlock
{ } ~ A unity government looked highly unlikely as of Wednesday night, with both the Likud and Blue and White saying negotiations are at an impasse with no chance of a breakthrough... The parties’ negotiating teams are expected to meet on Thursday morning, despite their skepticism. While the parties have said publicly that they want a unity government, behind closed doors, sources in the negotiations do not see a path to a coalition. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz has 21 days left to form a government before the mandate to do so goes to the Knesset, which will then have 21 days for a majority of its members to back a candidate for prime minister. If that does not happen, a third election within a year will be called. A senior Blue and White source said there has been almost no substance in their meetings with Likud so far, but he hoped they would delve into the political issues on Thursday. He said the Likud’s insistence that Netanyahu be prime minister first in a rotation was a nonstarter as long as Gantz has the mandate to form a government. Likud chief negotiator Yariv Levin said that after Gantz showed willingness to compromise after meeting with Netanyahu, the rest of the “cockpit” – Blue and White’s quadripartite leadership, which also includes Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi – pushed back, leading Gantz to reverse course. A Blue and White source hinted as much, calling Gantz “politically dense,” which has the positive aspect of him being genuine when he talks about wanting to hear from all parts of the political spectrum, but the negative of him not understanding how to negotiate.  Levin said of Blue and White: “I think they still believe they can form a minority government, and that some of them think another election will be good for them.”...   
Pentagon releases drone video
 from raid on ISIS leader's compound  
by Carlos Garcia
{ } ~ The Pentagon released on Wednesday drone footage from the U.S. military raid in northern Syria that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu al-Baghdadi... "These fighters opened fire on the aircraft, and what you see on the video is the actual response," said Gen. Kenneth McKenzie of US Central Command at a media briefing from the Pentagon. "With the assault force surrounding the compound, we repeatedly urged those inside to come out peacefully," he explained. "Those that came out of the building were checked for weapons and explosives, and moved away from the immediate area. U.S. forces detained and later released the non-combatants, the group was treated humanely at all times and included eleven children," he added. "Five ISIS members inside the compound presented a threat to the force. They did not respond to commands in Arabic to surrender, and they continued to threaten the force," McKenzie said. "They were then engaged by the raid force and killed, there were four women and one man."McKenzie went on to say that U.S. forces discovered al-Baghdadi hiding in a tunnel after securing the compound. "When capture at the hands of U.S. forces was imminent, al-Baghdadi detonated a bomb he wore, killing himself and two young children that were with him," he continued...  
U.S. Deterrence in the Middle East Is Collapsing
{ } ~ As welcome as was the U.S. raid that lead to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi over the weekend, it can’t erase the damage done to U.S. interests in the Middle East over the past few months... Whatever explanations U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters put forward to justify his impulsive decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northeastern Syria earlier this month, the searing images that followed told a far different tale. U.S. soldiers in chaotic retreat. Wartime allies abandoned. Hard-won battlefield gains surrendered to some of America’s most dangerous adversaries. And all to avoid confronting the threats of a viscerally anti-American Turkish authoritarian whose economy and military could be devastated by decisions made in Washington. Rightly or wrongly, both friends and foes of the United States have rapidly been reaching the conclusion that Trump, despite all his bluster and chest thumping, has no stomach for a sustained fight. Baghdadi’s death may mitigate, but does not reverse, the spreading perception that U.S. deterrence in the Middle East is collapsing. That’s especially the case in the aftermath of Iran’s drone and cruise missile attack against Saudi oil facilities last month. As big a debacle as Syria has been, it’s an extremely complicated situation. The United States found itself caught between two putative allies that are sworn enemies: Turkey, a strategically critical but increasingly troublesome treaty partner, and a Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), that—while serving heroically as the tip of the spear in the successful U.S. campaign to defeat the Islamic State—traces its roots to a group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), that has fought a decades-long separatist insurgency against the Turkish state and remains on the U.S. State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations. As morally repugnant and emotionally wrenching as Trump’s betrayal of the Syrian Kurds has been, his reluctance to risk a military confrontation with an important NATO ally does at least carry the patina of strategic logic to it. Viewed in isolation, there’s perhaps a colorable claim that Syria is unique—an outlier that doesn’t lend itself to any broader conclusions about Trump’s foreign policy. The problem, of course, is that the U.S. withdrawal from Syria is no isolated event. On the contrary, it comes on the heels of more than five months of U.S. vacillation in the face of an escalating and increasingly brazen campaign of aggression in the region by the Iranian regime, culminating in last month’s assault on Saudi Arabia. Syria arguably presented a hard case for the exercise of U.S. military power because of Turkey’s involvement and the fact that U.S. relations with the YPG dated only to 2015, and were regularly described by U.S. officials as “temporary, transactional, and tactical.” In the case of Iran’s recent aggression, however, no such complicating factors exist. The Trump administration has repeatedly identified Iran as the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East and among its highest national security priorities. Trump is waging a campaign of maximum pressure, aiming to strangle Iran’s economy and constrain its ability to wreak regional havoc. Washington’s defense ties to the Saudi regime are more than 70 years old, as is the long-standing view that ensuring the security of the Persian Gulf’s oil resources is vital to the well-being of the global—and, therefore, the U.S.—economy. Indeed, in January 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter formalized Washington’s commitment to the Gulf with the Carter Doctrine—an explicit declaration that the region’s security was a vital interest of the United States and that threats to the area by outside powers would be repelled by any means necessary, including military force...   
Attorneys decline to confirm CIA officer 
Eric Ciaramella is whistleblower
by Steven Nelson
{ } ~ Attorneys for the whistleblower who submitted a complaint about President Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's president, prompting the impeachment process to begin... declined to confirm or deny that their client was Eric Ciaramella, a career CIA officer. RealClearInvestigations reported Wednesday that Ciaramella was the whistleblower. The Washington Examiner has established, however, that there was at least one significant factual inaccuracy in the report, which was written by Paul Sperry, a partisan pro-Trump figure who had released Ciaramella's name via Twitter earlier this month and whom critics accuse of trading in disinformation and conspiracy theories. Asked whether their client was Ciaramella, 33, attorneys Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj told the Washington Examiner in a statement: "We neither confirm nor deny the identity of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower." Zaid and Bakaj said: "Our client is legally entitled to anonymity. Disclosure of the name of any person who may be suspected to be the whistleblower places that individual and their family in great physical danger. Any physical harm the individual and/or their family suffers as a result of disclosure means that the individuals and publications reporting such names will be personally liable for that harm. Such behavior is at the pinnacle of irresponsibility and is intentionally reckless. "Having initially begun the headline on its article "'Whistleblower' Exposed," RealClearInvestigations changed this to "How 'Whistleblower' May Be Outed" some two hours after first publication. Foes of the whistleblower, a career CIA analyst formerly detailed to the White House National Security Council, say that only the Intelligence Community inspector general is legally bound to maintain the person's confidentiality. The inspector general received an Aug. 12 complaint from the whistleblower, ultimately leading to the public revelation that Trump requested Ukraine’s president to investigate Democrats. Ciaramella was Ukraine director on the NSC during the end of the scumbag/liar-nObama administration and remained there during the early months of the Trump administration, when he was briefly acting senior director for European and Russian affairs before the arrival of Fiona Hill. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the current Ukraine director on the NSC, testified in a secret hearing held by the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday...   
Impeachment Committees
Ask Bolton to Testify
by ~ House investigators are summoning former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in their impeachment inquiry, deepening their reach into the White House... as the probe accelerates toward a potential vote to remove the president. But Bolton's lawyer, Charles Cooper, says Bolton will not appear without a subpoena. Democrat lawmakers want to hear next week from Bolton, the hawkish former adviser who openly sparred over the administration's approach to Ukraine, in particular President Donald Trump's reliance on his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for a back-channel operation. Bolton once derided Giuliani's work as a "drug deal" and said he wanted no part of it, according to previous testimony. The Democrats are also calling John Eisenberg, the lawyer for the NSC who fielded an Army officer's concerns over Trump's phone call with the Ukraine president, and Michel Ellis, another security council official, according to a person familiar with the invitation and granted anonymity to discuss it. The rush of possible new witnesses comes as the House prepares to take its first official vote Thursday on the process ahead. That includes public hearings in a matter of weeks and the possibility of drafting articles of impeachment against the president. The White House has urged officials not to testify in the impeachment proceedings, and it's not guaranteed that those called will appear for depositions, even if they receive subpoenas as previous witnesses have. Bolton's former deputy, Charles Kupperman, has filed a lawsuit in federal court asking a judge to resolve the question of whether he can be forced to testify since he was a close and frequent adviser to the president. Any ruling in that case could presumably have an impact on whether Bolton will testify. Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill say the entire impeachment inquiry is illegitimate and are unpersuaded by the House resolution formally setting out next steps. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the format for the impeachment probe denies Trump the "most basic rights of due process."...   
Trump and Officers Blast Chicago's Top Cop
Thomas Gallatin:  President Donald Trump visited Chicago on Monday to speak at the conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Controversy preceded Trump’s visit when Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson publicly declared that he would boycott the president’s speech. Johnson self-righteously asserted, “As police officers, our job is to be the voice for the voiceless and ambassadors to the communities that we serve. I can’t in good conscience stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the Oval Office or Chicago is held hostage because of our views on new Americans.”

Johnson was referring to Chicago’s “sanctuary city” policy, which he fully embraces. But he erroneously and intentionally conflates legal immigrants, who can actually become “new Americans,” with illegal aliens, who are by definition law-breaking non-Americans. The irony is stupefying — the city’s top law-enforcement officer, whose primary role is to serve and protect the citizens of the city, is blatantly promoting lawlessness. With attitudes like this, is it any wonder that Democrat-run Chicago is notorious for its high crime rate?

Johnson’s virtue signal was so offensive that even Chicago’s own members of the Fraternal Order of Police voiced their opposition with a vote of “no confidence,” while FOP President Kevin Graham issued a statement deriding Johnson’s self-serving false narrative. “[Donald Trump] is the president of the United States,” he said. “There are plenty of times I’ve sat listening to speeches that I didn’t care for, and I certainly didn’t walk out on them.” Graham also noted how ATF agents have been a big help to “prosecute [violations of] our gun laws because our local prosecutor hasn’t done the job.” That federal help has “driven down the crime,” he said. “Last month we took a thousand [illegal] guns off the street. Last month alone.”

As for Trump’s speech, he loudly condemned Chicago’s feckless Democrat leaders over their refusal to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement: “Chicago is, unfortunately, the worst sanctuary city in America. Chicago protects criminals at a level few could even imagine. Last year, in Cook County alone, ICE asked local law-enforcement people to ‘…Please detain 1,162 people. Please.’ But in each case, the detainer was denied.” Trump then took aim at Johnson: “People like Johnson put criminals and illegal aliens before the citizens of Chicago. … And, frankly, those values, to me, are a disgrace. I will never put the needs of illegal criminals before … the needs of law-abiding citizens.”

Finally, Trump added, “So when Eddie Johnson, and many other people from lots of other regions and areas, support sanctuary cities, it’s really, in my opinion, a betrayal of their oath to the shield, and a violation of his duty to serve and to protect the courageous police officers of Chicago.” Trump is correct. While Johnson’s virtue signal is cheered by anti-Trump leftists and open-border advocates, everyday Americans are rejoicing in the fact that the president is honestly calling out the corruption and hypocrisy in the Windy City.   ~The Patriot Post  

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