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China Has The Second Largest Defense Budget After The U.S.: An 8% Increase Is Expected For 2018

ArmchairTechInvestor, March 7, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements
Book Under Development-Simon and Schuster subsidiary: China vs. U.S.

www.ArmchairTechInvestor.com,
www.ArmchairPolitician.US
ArmchairTechInvestor@gmail.com

China’s defense budget is expected to reach $173 billion in 2018, compared to $716 billion expected for the U.S. in 2019. 2018’s defense budget comes to about 1.3% of its 2017 GDP of $12.4 trillion. Analysts don’t consider China’s publicly announced defense spending to be entirely accurate, since defense equipment projects account for a significant amount of “off book” expenditures.

China’s defense budget is so large now that double-digit annual percentage increases are no longer necessary, said military commentator Song Zhongping.

New funds are going mainly to raise living standards for service members, increase training and prepare for potential crises on the Korean Peninsula, the border with India or in the South China Sea or Taiwan Strait, Song said.

China is nearing completion of a reduction of its military forces by 300,000, taking the total to 2 million and still has the largest military in the world.

Shanghai military expert Ni Lexiong said China was seeking to avoid a full-on arms race based on quantity of weapons, choosing instead to invest in high-tech systems and training. China’s range of weapons is impressive. They have:
• A second aircraft carrier they are about to launch;
• Stealth fighters they are integrating into their air force;
• An array of advanced missiles that are long-range and able to attack sea and air targets;
• China’s navy has been training rigorously on the Liaoning aircraft carrier, which was bought from Ukraine and heavily refurbished.
• In April, 2017, it launched a 50,000-ton carrier built entirely on its own based on the Ukrainian model.
• An improved Type 093B Shang class nuclear-powered attack submarine equipped with anti-ship missiles is considered only slightly inferior to the U.S. Navy’s mainstay Los Angeles class boats;
• The Type 055 guided-missile destroyers are at the forefront of China’s naval technology;
o Such vessels stand to alter the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, where the U.S. Navy has long been dominant and regional rivals such as Japan and India are stepping up their presence.
o Most navy ships already have anti-ship cruise missiles with longer ranges than those of their U.S. counterparts.
• China has begun equipping combat units with its J-20 stealth fighter jet,
o This is China’s answer to fifth-generation jets such as the U.S. F-22 and F-35;
• China’s missile technology is also impressive;
o The DF-21D is built to take out an aircraft carrier; and
o A new air-to-air missile has a range of 249 miles that could attack U.S. air assets such as early warning aircraft and refueling tankers crucial to U.S. Air Force operations.

All three of China’s sea forces, the navy, coast guard and maritime militia, are the largest of their types by number of ships, allowing them to “maintain presence and influence in vital seas,” according to Andrew S. Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute.

Rivals such as the U.S., Japan and India should be less anxious at the moderate rate of budget growth, although they “won’t feel happy” to see rapid enhancements in China’s air, naval, missile and anti-satellite capabilities, said Ni, a professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.
*No. 2 spender China to boost defense spending in 2018
Associated Press, By Christopher Bodeen, Mar 5, 2018

ArmchairTechInvestor Opinion

China has a wide range of both defensive and offensive weapons systems. Their navy is predicated on having a large number of smaller ships. The U.S. is moving its navy in that direction. The U.S. has a huge superiority in aircraft carriers, which serves the U.S. well in operating in Asia, and somewhat offsets China’s land-based aircraft presence.

The U.S. is also far superior in its space-based weapons systems being developed by NASA, and a range of commercial competitors, such as Space-X. U.S. space technology allows the Space Station to be accessed, and Space-X has plans for a Mars mission that it hopes will be developed by 2024.

Space-based weapons systems will become an important element of future U.S. defense capabilities.

China’s One Belt One Road Trade Network Has Upside For Its Partners, But Also Significant Financial Risk

ArmchairTechInvestor, March 6, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements
Book Under Development-Simon and Schuster subsidiary: China vs. U.S.

www.ArmchairTechInvestor.com,
www.ArmchairPolitician.US
ArmchairTechInvestor@gmail.com

China claims that it is developing relationships with countries on its One Belt, One Road Network that will end up assisting those countries, but the financing for the projects can present the countries with significant financial challenges. China has spent massive amounts on building the infrastructure within China. Much of those investments have been completed, and China is now exporting its infrastructure building to a trade network linking 68 countries in Asia, Africa and Eupope that make up about half of the world’s population, and one-third of the world’s GDP. The projects will require massive amounts of financing, with $8 trillion being the number being discussed. This compares with the $1.2 trillion of U.S. Treasury Securities that China owns.

The financial risks for some of the countries are starting to become clear. Data from the Center for Global Development outlines some of the issues. Eight countries are mentioned as facing financing issues. The countries are:
• Laos, in Southeast Asia;
• Montenegro, which provides an entry to Europe, and is building a roadway link to the Balkans;
• Djibouti, an African port city;
• Krygyzstan and Tajikistan are getting railroads, roads, hydropower plants, and a major gas pipeline;
• Mongolia is getting funding to build hydroelectric power plants, and build a road from the airport to the capital; and
• Indian Ocean ports are being built in the Maldives and Pakistan.
Debt levels of these countries are rising, and their dependence on China increasing.

Sri Lanka has had difficulties paying interest on $1 billion of debt it owes to China. The debt was renegotiated in return for a Chinese state-owned company getting a 99-year lease on the port.

In Pakistan, there have been protests from Pakistani fishermen that are being displaced by Chinese developments around the Gwandar Port. 91% of the revenues will go to China from the port, and only 9% to Pakistan.

Two additional countries, Cambodia and Afghanistan, could owe more than half their external debt to China.

Other issues in the countries are the tax concessions China is extracting, and the use of Chinese manufacturing companies to supply materials, instead of using materials supplied from within the countries.
*China’s Help Leaves Allies in Debt, Wall Street Journal, by Josh Zumbrun March 5, 2018

ArmchairTechInvestor Opinion
China’s professed guiding principles in the projects are peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and mutual learning and mutual benefit. However, as expressed by a U.S. representative, back in the Obama era, whoever holds the debt calls the shots, possibly supplanting the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. and private investors in importance to the countries.

The SEC Has Launched An Investigation Into Possible Digital Currency Offering Violations Of The U.S. Securities Laws: This Is the Beginning of SEC Regulation

ArmchairTechInvestor, February 26, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements
Book Under Development-Simon and Schuster subsidiary: China vs. U.S.

WWW. ArmchairTechInvestor.com,
ArmchairTechInvestor@gmail.com

*A sweeping probe has been initiated by the SEC into possible securities violations by digital coin offering companies and advisors. Subpoenas and information requests have been issued to numerous companies involved in the raising of capital for digital coin or token companies (ICOs). The standards required of such companies may be substantially less than for public offerings. The money can be raised for even small niche products. According to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton: “Many promoters of ICOs and cryptocurrencies are not complying with our laws”.

As of February, 2018, coin offerings have raised $1.66 billion, and could be on the way to surpassing the $6.5 billion raised in a hot 2017 market, according to Token Report, a research and data company. Many of the projects for which money has been raised, have originate outside the U.S.

A study is underway by MIT. The statement has been made that $270 million to $317 million of the money raised for coins has likely gone to fraud or scams, according to Christian Catalini, an MIT professor.

In one of the first SEC initiated actions, Dallas-based AriseBank is apparently under investigation for claiming to it plans to buy a U.S. bank with the $600 million it claims it has raised. The offering was halted by the SEC in January, 2018. Many other offerings have apparently been delayed by increased SEC scrutiny.

An element of the increased scrutiny by the SEC relates to simple agreements for future tokens (SAFTs), which allow existing investors to buy coins or tokens prior to their being offered to the general public. The profits can typically be flipped or sold before the offerings.
*SEC Launches Crypto-Probe, Wall Street Journal, by Jean Eaglesham and Paul Vigna, March 1, 2018

ArmchairTechInvestor Opinion
Digital coin and token offerings in the U.S. are in the initial stages of being investigated and regulated by the SEC. This area is likely to be extensively regulated, but not as closely regulated as a traditional initial public offering (IPO).

Trump Has Addressed Significant U.S. Weaknesses: A Blog Post And An Introduction To A New Book That Focuses on U.S.-China issues.

ArmchairPolitician.US, February 26, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements

WWW.ArmchairPolitician.US,
ArmchairPolitician.US@gmail.com

The Trump administration has six main foreign policy focuses as a result of past administrations policies. They are: Rebuilding U.S. defenses: Reengaging in the Middle East; Addressing terrorism, drugs and gang violence by strengthening U.S. borders and immigration policies; Confronting Iran, Russia and China; Improving NATO defenses; And, developing a strong U.S. relationship with Israel.

This book is focused mainly on China vs. U.S. relations. However those relationships are affected by U.S. actions and policies with other countries and organizations such as The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which is mainly a trade association that can serve as an alternative to the One Belt One Road trade initiative of China, or the United Nations, whose sanctions are a weapon currently being used to confront North Korea’s nuclear and missile weapons development programs.

The U.S had a historically weak U.S. economic recovery following from the 2007-2008 recession. In the defense area, during that period there was substantially reduced U.S. military readiness, and drastically reduced troop levels in the Middle East.

Separately, the U.S. has failed to address aggressive regional expansion by Iran, Russia, China and ISIS. There has been an unwillingness of some countries to meet their NATO defense expenditure commitments. The porous U.S. borders and mail system that have contributed to drugs and gangs is a benefit to China, Russia, Iran and ISIS in that it weakens the U.S. democracy.

Chinese companies have been using the U.S. mail system to distribute fentanyl, a very strong opioid. Immigration with proper vetting from the Middle East is an element of the current U.S. immigration effort. China’s One Belt One Road trade network extends through the Middle East, with a harbor development in Pakistan being one example. China was responsible for Pakistan gaining nuclear weapons. Pakistan is a source of terrorist activity in India.

Also the U.S. visa system is being addressed, with allegiance to the U.S. likely to become a factor for gaining entrance. China has a policy that essentially means that intellectual property belongs to the state. Also, nobody can export information about Chinese persons without the permission of the government

Trump has substantially increased the defense budget to restore U.S. readiness. He has developed strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, and its Arab partner countries to confront Iranian and Russian expansion in the Middle East. Trump has rebuilt relationships with Afghanistan, Iraq, the Kurds to aggressively go after ISIS. The Trump administration has addressed some of the shortcomings of NATO, including the substantial failures of many members in not meeting their commitments to spend two percent of their GDP on defense. The head of NATO is addressing this shortcoming, and several countries have also agreed to meet their two percent obligations. The most egregious underperformer is Germany, which certainly has the resources to spend two percent of GDP on defense, and has not yet agreed to meet their commitment to NATO.

Obama achieved an Iran Nuclear Agreement. Iran is Shiite. This alienated U.S. partners in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their Arab partners, and Israel. The Obama administration tried to develop a dialogue with Iran, but failed, as is evident from the violently anti-America attitude of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of Iran. The Trump administration has expressed opposition to the Iran Nuclear Agreement, and is investigating its compliance in view of missile launch developments, and regional terrorism. Iran is expanding its influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere, The Trump administration is aggressively opposing by fighting ISIS, Iran, and Russia, by developing a relationship with Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni Arab countries, and supporting Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Israel. The relationships with Pakistan, because of its support of terrorists in Afghanistan, and Lebanon, because the role of Hezbollah in the country, could be under evaluation, since the U.S. provides foreign aid to both countries.

ArmchairPolitician.US Opinion
The Trump administration achievements through early 2018 have not so far been in legislation, except for tax reductions.

On the positive side, illegal immigration across the U.S. Southern borders is down significantly, the stock market is hitting all time highs, the defense budget is likely to be above what Trump suggested, Iran, Russia and China are being confronted where we have differences, and the relationships with Russia and China are being strengthened where we have common interests. And, the U.S. has substantially strengthened its relationships with Arab countries, many of whom are now developing relationships with Israel.

This is a short summary of the book we are developing from our ArmchairTechInvestor.com blog. The title of the book is likely to be China vs. U.S.

The blog was created by Brad Peery, a former U.S. Senate candidate, who challenged Lowell Weicker in the 1982 Connecticut Primary. The other candidates were Robin Moore, the author of the Green Berets, and Prescott Bush.

Mr. Peery has a love for politics, and an analyst perspective on the issues being faced by the U.S. internationally, with a particular focus on China and their expanding ties to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Brad Peery Background

The author has over 40 years of experience in the investment industry. He was the first Wall Street telecom analyst in 1972. He followed the telecom industry for over 30 years. His broker-dealer was an underwriter in over 200 telecom syndicates in the 1990s, His investment banking firm managed partnerships that invested through both U.S. and offshore entities. His investment banking firm also invested in over 20 private early-stage broadband communications companies.

The telecom industry, being global, allowed Mr. Peery to be a worldwide telecom economist. This required understanding the economic issues that faced companies trying to do business in countries such as China and India.

The Fed Has Been Trying To Get The Inflation Rate Up To 2%. Do We Now Need To Worry About High Inflation?

ArmchairPolitician.USInflation, February 19, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements

WWW.ArmchairPolitician.US,
ArmchairPolitician.US@gmail.com

Since the Trump Presidency started in January, 2017, the Fed has been concerned about the inflation rate being below their targeted 2% rate. The economy has been strong, reaching a 2.5% growth rate in 2017. And, Trump is projecting that the economy, because of the tax cuts, deregulation, and job creation, will average 3.0% over the next ten years. Higher inflation seems to be in prospect.

The consumer price index (CPI) rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in January, 2018. For the 12 months through January, the CPI grew at a 2.1% pace. A jump in gasoline prices contributed to the increase. When stripped of food and energy costs, the core CPI was up only 1.82%. The overall inflation environment does seem to be firming early in 2018 as U.S. unemployment is reaching record low levels of 4.1% and worldwide economic growth is pushing commodity prices higher.

Another fundamental inflation index, the producer price index (PPI), measures the inflation rate of goods sold to consumers, businesses and other entities such as governments. The core PPI rose 0.4% in January, 2018, and was up by 2.5% for the last 12 months ending in January. The PPI itself was up by 2.7% for the 12-month period. Energy prices contributed to the PPI increase.

ArmchairPolitician.US Opinion
We expect the U.S. economy to grow by over 3% in a 2018, driven by corporate and personal tax reductions, and deregulation. We expect worker wage increases to be strong in 2018, driven by unemployment rates that could go below 4.0%. Commodity prices should continue to increase, driven by worldwide economic growth. Growth in the U.S. should be over 3% of GDP. All of those factors lead us to expect that the PPI for core prices should go over 3% in 2018, and the core CPI should reach at least a 2.5% rate for the year.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Has Indicted 13 Russians And 3 Russian Companies For Election Interference: No indication That Any American Knowingly Participated.

ArmchairPolitician.US, February 18, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements

WWW.ArmchairPolitician.US,
ArmchairPolitician.US@gmail.com

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Has Indicted 13 Russians And 3 Russian Companies For Election Interference. The Mueller investigation was supposedly prompted by charges that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. The indictment by Mueller confirms that the Russians interfered in the election. The election interference effort was started by the Russians in 2014, before Trump entered the presidential election.

Millions of dollars were spent by the Russians to disrupt the election. The Russian interference was operated from St. Petersburg, Russia. Housed in the U.S. were individuals that purported to be local citizens, and the effort included using stolen identities. They used social media to organize events that were designed to sow dissent in the U.S. African Americans were incited on one end of the spectrum. And, far right activists were also incited on the other end of the spectrum. On some occasions, events were organized for both factions at the same location.
*13 Russians Indicted in Mueller Case, Wall Street Journal, by Del Quentin Wilber and Aruna Viswanatha, February 16, 2018

ArmchairPolitician.US Opinion
The Russianss were successful in sowing dissension in the U.S. elections, and they are expected to continue to sow dissent in the U.S. midterm elections in 2018. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the investigation of Russian meddling in the election, because it appeared that the special counsel was looking into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, and he had worked on the Trump campaign. The firing of the Attorney General, Jim Comey by Trump, was criticized by the Democrats and the media as an attempt by Trump to impede an investigation of Trump by the Justice Department. Comey’s objective in illegally leaking meeting notes with Trump was an attempt to prompt the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump. The Clinton campaign, the Democrats, and the liberal media have dogged the Trump presidency with charges, that have so far been discredited, that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. All of these efforts aided the Russians in sowing dissent in the U.S. They are doing the same thing in other democracies around the world, including in Europe. And, they are quite good at attacking democracies through their electoral processes.

Federal $300 billion Spending Deal Signed By Trump, Ending A Government Shutdown And Implementing A Two Year Budget Deal: Will The Deficit Balloon?

ArmchairPolitician.US, February 18, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements

WWW.ArmchairPolitician.US,
ArmchairPolitician.US@gmail.com

On February 8, 2017, the $300 billion budget deal became law. Shortly thereafter, Trump introduced his detailed fiscal 2019 budget forecast that did not include the details of the $300 billion budget deal. The 2019 budget forecast needs to be analyzed, and then the differences of the two budgets needs to be highlighted, to the extent possible. The main issue is that Trump will not be able to reduce non-defense spending to offset the increases in defense spending.

The details are that the deal would raise the spending caps by about $300 billion over two years. The limit on military spending would be increased by $80 billion in the 2018 fiscal year and $85 billion in 2018. The limit on nondefense spending would increase by $63 billion in 2018 and by $68 billion in fiscal 2019. The budget does have in it the personal tax reductions, the corporate tax reductions, including the reduction in the corporate rate to 21%.

Included in the budget are an increase in defense spending by $44 billion in 2018 and an identical $44 billion increase in fiscal 2019. The spending bill has defense spending at a total of $165 billion over the two years. Therefore the budget could understate the deficit because of defense spending by $77 billion in fiscal 2019.

The limit on non-defense spending adds $131 billion to spending in 2018 and 2019. The budget shows an increase of $42 billion for non-defense spending for the two years. Thus the budget understates the deficit for non-defense spending by $89 billion in 2019. The total increase in the deficit for the second year, fiscal 2019, is $166 billion. The budget shows a deficit of $984 billion in 2019, but the $350 billion spending increase takes the deficit to $1,150 billion in 2019. If the budget deficit increases by $166 billion per year for 10 years, besides the $1.5 trillion the tax cuts added to the deficit, the $350 billion spending increase adds $1.66 trillion to the 10-year deficit.

ArmchairPolitician.US Opinion
The U.S. budget deficit is out of control. The Democrats have forced Trump to increase non-defense spending by just about the amount of defense spending, jettisoning his plan to reduce government waste. The Trump budget shows a deficit of $445 billion in fiscal 2028. To get to that level, non-defense spending would need to decline by $200 billion per year, instead of the $89 billion per year increase in 2019. Thus the deficit could be $290 billion higher because of the inability to achieve lower non-defense spending, even if non-defense spending stays flat after 2019. The deficit was $665 billion in fiscal 2017. Higher non-defense spending could take the deficit to $755 billion, even if Trump is able to achieve his projected economic growth rate of 3% over the 10-year period to fiscal 2028.

Despite the tax reductions, Trump is forecasting that individual income tax receipts will increase from $1,660 billion in 2018 to $3.070 billion in 2028, a 6.34% compound growth rate. For this to occur, a 3.0% GDP growth rate would probably need to be accompanied by a 3.4% inflation rate.

Corporate tax receipts are projected to go from $218 billion in fiscal 2018, after a $79 billion reduction from 2017, to $413 billion in 2028. This is a 6.6% compound increase over the 10 years from 2018. This again implies a very strong economy and over a 3% inflation rate.

The saving grace for Trump could be a 3% growth in the economy that pushes the inflation rate above 3%. Non-defense spending would need to stay flat after 2019, which does not seem likely. Those events are required to have the deficit grow from $665 billion in 2017 to about $735 billion in 2028, a 0.9% growth rate. Instead, It appears likely that the deficit will continue to balloon.

Worldwide Threats Outlined In Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing-The Threats Are Widespread

ArmchairPolitiician, February 16, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements

WWW. ArmchairPolitician.US,
ArmchairPolitician.US@gmail.com

*The threats from ISIS will continue to be challenging, despite widespread defeats in Syria and Iraq. They include:
They are engaged in an Insurgency in Afghanistan;
The U.S. needs to continue to hit them with airstrikes;
Their funding will continue and needs to be addressed;
Their flow of fighters needs to be confronted;
In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is regrouping in ungoverned portions of the countries;
ISIS is extending its global presence to Asia and other regions;
It continues to champion its cause;
Their engaging in international attacks will continue to be a threat; and,
They will continue to encourage sympathizers to attack in their home countries.

Al Qaeda continues to be a major actor in global terrorism. Its long term intent is to attacking the U.S. and U.S. interests abroad.

There will be threats in space. Russia and China will continue to expand space-based reconnaissance. These include:
Communications and navigation systems, including:
Broaden the applications they use;
Increase the number of systems; and
Broaden their breadth of capabilities.
Counter space weapons will mature. They will include:
Anti-satellite weapons; and
Efforts to reduce U.S. effectiveness and advantages in space.

Transnational organized crime will continue to be a problem, including:
Drugs;
Human trafficking;
Depleting U.S. national resources; and
Siphon money from governments in the global economy.

Regional threats include:

East Asia

North Korea is an Increasing threat:
It will not negotiate its missiles and nuclear weapons away;
They are considered critical to its security;
It seeks to end Seoul’s reliance on Washington;
It wants to eventually dominate the Korean Peninsula;
There will be additional missile tests in 2018;
North Korea will do an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific;
It is a direct threat to the U.S.; and
Provides conventional threats to South Korea, Japan and Guam.

China Will seek to expand influence and shape events and outcomes globally. Other threats include:
Firm stands it will continue to take on claims to East China Sea and South China Sea;
It will continue to reaffirm its relationship with Taiwan; and
It will continue to develop its One Belt One Road initiative to:
Expand its trade, investment, and partnership reach to geostrategic locations across Asia, Africa and the Pacific.
South Asia

In Afghanistan, Kabul is bearing the brunt of a Taliban led insurgency. Other issues are:
Their security forces face unsteady performance; and
With help Afghanistan will probably retain control of most major population centers.

Pakistan provides terrorist safe havens for attacks in Afghanistan and India, including on U.S. interests. Other conclusions are:
The Pakistan military is unlikely to have a lasting effect on restraining terrorists;
It will maintain its terrorist ties and restrict its cooperation with the U.S.; and
It will continue its strong ties to China, including the building of a harbor as part of the One Belt One Road initiative.

India is likely to become an increasingly strong U.S. partner, and offers an offset to China’s ambitions.

Russia willl continue its assertive foreign policies to shape outcomes. These include:
More authoritarian activities to maintain control and offset challenges to Putin’s rule;
Promote Russian influence and propaganda efforts that are;
Cheap;
Low risk;
Plausible deniability; and
Proven to be effective at sowing division.
Russia will continue using:
Propaganda;
Social media;
False flag personas and sympathetic spokesmen to exacerbate social and political divisions in the U.S.; and
2018 midterm U.S. elections are a target.

Middle East and North Africa

In the region, the issues will continue to be:
Political turmoil
Economic fragility will be a problem;
Civil and proxy wars will continue using:
Hezbollah in Syria and Lebannon; and
The Houthis in Yemen.
Iran is the most prominent state sponsor of terrorism. And it will:
Expand its regional influence;
Use the regional fight against ISIS to:
Solidify partnerships;
Transform battlefield gains into political security and economic agreements;
Develop military forces that threaten U.S. forces and allies
Continue to develop the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East;
Use the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that may be a risk to U.S. naval and allied naval operations in the region;
Continue provocative behavior in Northern Israel that:
Has the Potential for escalation into a war with Israel.
The Lebanese Hezbollah activities include:
Support of Iran;
Thousands of fighters to Syria; and
Directs other militant groups, promoting regional instability.

Turkey will seek to thwart Kurdish ambitions:
Their incursion into Northern Syria is complicating counter ISIS activities in the region, which Increases the risk to U.S. forces.

In Syria, unrest and fighting will continue in 2018:
Some areas will be recaptured by Syria, Russia and Iran and violence will decrease in some areas.

Iraq will see a lengthy period of turmoil and conflict:
Iran has used ISIS to deepen its influence in military and security elements and political arms of Iraq.

In the Yemen war:
Because of the Iranian backed Houthis and Saudi Arabia coalition;
A tragic humanitarian crisis will worsen:
70% of 20M people need assistance

Europe
In Europe, the center of gravity is shifting to France:
President Macron is more assertive in addressing European and global challenges; and
German elections reinforce Germany’s weakness.

Efforts by some governments in Central and Eastern Europe to undermine judicial independence and parliamentary oversight and increase control over the media are weakening the rule of law.
Provides opportunity for democratic declines and offers opportunities for Russian and Chinese influence
Latvia elections have encountered meddling by Russia

U.S. problems:
Failure to properly address long term fiscal situation has increased national debt to $20 trillion and growing. This is:
Unsustainable; and a
Dire threat to economic and national security
Needs to be addressed before crisis occurs that threatens U.S. national security.
Need tech communications:
Internet of Things (IoT) causes large cybersecurity problems.
Worldwide Threats Hearing, Senate Intelligence Committee, Dan Coates-Director of National Intelligence, February 14, 2018

ArmchairPolitician.US Opinion
The Senate Intellegence Committee hearings provided a good summary of some of the threats facing the U.S., but there are many other threats that we will address as we provide continuing coverage of Trump’s Agenda and Achievements-2018

President Trump Delivered His State Of The Union Speech. ABC Did A Fact Check. Their Analysis Was Largely Inaccurate Or Misleading

ArmchairPolitiician, February 7, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements

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President Trump has some important achievements he articulated in his State of the Union Address, ABC has evaluate 12 of these achievements. But, despite how good the achievements are, ABC uses claimed misstatement to minimize the success of the Trump achievements. We will examine the claims ABC analyzed, and the validity of their commentary. The Trump achievements are impressive.

TRUMP CLAIM 1: “We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.”
ABC TAKE: False
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The truth is that this is the third or fourth largest tax cut in U.S. history. The tax cut was very large and was the largest that could have been accomplished given the constraint that the tax could not increase the deficit by more than $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. This ABC analysis covers only the size of the tax cuts and does not address the size of the reforms.

TRUMP CLAIM 2: “We have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration.”
ABC TAKE: It’s complicated
ArmcairPolitician.US Response:
According to ABC “Trump has definitely taken an aggressive approach to eliminating regulations. Federal agencies withdrew 635 rules between fall 2016 and fall 2017, according to the Office of Management and Budget.” The OMB records do not go back before 1995, and Reagan may have done more than Trump. In either case, the Trump deregulation efforts were significant.

TRUMP CLAIM 3: “We are now an exporter of energy to the world.”
ABC TAKE: Mostly spin
According to ABC “Continuing a longstanding trend, energy exports did tick up slightly during the first 10 months of the Trump administration, from 11.5 quadrillion BTU (standard unit of measurement) in January to October 2016 to 14.6 quadrillion BTU in January to October 2017. But the U.S. has exported energy — from crude oil to natural gas to coal — for a long time.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The increase in U.S. energy was more than an uptick. Exports increased by 27% in 2017. The increases are probably largely from liquefied natural gas from shale, which Trump has supported, and from coal, for which China is the largest importer, and which Trump has also supported.

TRUMP CLAIM 4: “Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. Something I’m very proud of. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”
ABC TAKE: Lacking context
ABC WHY: The figures have been on a downward trend for years.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The Trump administration has continued the trends in unemployment that started after the 2009 recession. The Trump administration achieved a 2.6% growth in GDP in 2017, a 30% increase over the 2% growth rate under the 8 years of the Obama administration. This has undoubtedly been an important factor in lowering overall unemployment, and Hispanic and African American unemployment rates to record lows.

TRUMP CLAIM 5: “Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.”
ABC TAKE: True
ABC WHY: The Senate confirmed 12 of Trump’s circuit court nominees in his first year in office — far more than his recent predecessors.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: In this case, ABC got it right.

TRUMP CLAIM 6: “The coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria and in other locations as well.”
ABC TAKE: True
ABC WHY: The State Department reported in December that ISIS had lost 98 percent of the territory it once held specifically in Iraq and Syria.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The Trump claim is close to being true. The reality is that 50% of the 98% that has been liberated occurred during the first 11 months of the Trump administration. Giving authority to military troops on the ground, a change from the Obama administration, was an important element in this success. However, the battle against ISIS has expanded geographically to the Philippines and other places in Asia, plus West Africa. Terrorist cells also remain in Syria and Iraq.

TRUMP CLAIM 7: “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.”
ABC TAKE: False
ABC WHY: Citizens and green card holders can petition for immediate family, not an unlimited number of family members.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The ABC response of False is misleading or incorrect. It is our understanding that anyone who gets a green card can petition to bring in their family, who in turn get green cards and can bring in their relatives. There are 4 million such persons waiting for entry to the U.S. Additional ABC information is: “Green card holders can petition for a spouse, minor child, or unmarried son or daughter to also become a permanent resident. And refugees or asylum seekers can apply for a spouse or minor child to also obtain that refugee or asylum status. Still, after applying there is a long wait list for all applicants besides spouse, parent or minor child. As of November, nearly 4 million people are waiting to get off the list, according to the State Department. Once someone gets to the front of the line, he or she must pass the required background checks and meet requirements for admission.”

TRUMP CLAIM 8: “For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.”
ABC TAKE: Mostly spin
ABC WHY: A 2016 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the impact of immigration on the wages of native-born workers overall is very small.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The 2016 report mentioned by ABC only talks about jobs. There is no doubt that illegal immigrants are important to industries such as agriculture, but there is no reason such immigrants cannot be allowed to enter legally. There is no doubt that gangs such as MS-13, from El Salvador, has used illegal immigrants to build its gangs in most of the U.S. states, and has tens of thousands of current members. They also prey on immigrant children to build their gangs.

According to the Trump White House:
• On average, DHS apprehends over 1100 people a day crossing the border illegally, with December marking the eighth month in a row of an increase in apprehensions at the border. That is a rate of almost 400,000 per year;
• DHS refuses entry to 7 known or suspected terrorists every day, 50 every week, 2,500 every year. Although the terrorists are under 1% of the apprehensions, the numbers are disturbing because of the amount of havoc one terrorist can reap;
• Roughly 628,000 aliens overstayed their visa in Fiscal Year 2016 alone.
As of May 2016, there were 950,062 aliens with final orders of removals on ICE’s national docket.
• Officials apprehended 8,000 Family Units in December, 2017. This is almost 100,000 family units per year;
• 306% increase in unaccompanied alien children detained at the border since April. Most will be released after no more than 20 days;
• Officials apprehended over 4,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in December. This is almost 50,000 children per year; and,
• 95% of family units and unaccompanied children who are released pending a hearing NEVER show.

Putting in a Southern border wall will eliminate the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants per year, including terrorists, gang members, and illegal drug trafficers.

TRUMP CLAIM 9: “In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can just no longer afford. It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules and, finally, bring our immigration system into the 21st century.”
ABC TAKE: Mostly spin
WHY: Both men entered the country legally through the two programs President Trump mentioned and were not radicalized until years after they arrived in the U.S.
ArmchairPolitician.US Response: The ABC response does not address the real problems of the visa program and chain migration. Radicalization is only one of the risks of not vetting immigrants and orienting the visa program to those who will be self-sufficient and contribute to the U.S. by being good citizens.

TRUMP CLAIM 10: “Last year, Congress also passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. Since its passage, my administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve.”
ABC TAKE: Mostly spin
ABC WHY: The law was enacted in June, by that time 500 of the 1,500 Veterans Affairs employees removed from their jobs for poor performance had already been fired under a previous system.
ArmchairPolitician.US Response
There is not doubt that the VA has provided miserable support for veterans, including under the Obama administration. Trump is a strong supporter of the military and U.S. veterans. For ABC to call his statement “mostly spin” implies that Trump is not a supporter of the VA, and ignores the fact that, even though it took Trump six months to pass the VA Accountability Act, he was a strong advocate for change from the moment he became President, which is when the first 500 VA employees were removed.

TRUMP CLAIM 11: “Last year, the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our history.”
ABC TAKE: True
ABC WHY: The FDA approved 1,027 generic drugs in FY 17, a “record number,” according to Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
ABC said: “The agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research also approved 46 so-called novel drugs, the highest number in at least a decade, and a record 95 “novel” devices in 2017. New drugs included cancer therapies and medications to treat infectious diseases and neurological disorders.”
ArmchairPolitician.US Response:
ABC is acknowledging that Trump is making a large impact on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition to the results being achieved, it remains to be seen if drug prices can be reduced, particularly by FDA support for generics.

TRUMP CLAIM 12: “We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win against anyone else, anywhere in the world. These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000.”

OUR TAKE: It’s complicated

WHY: It’s a bold prediction, based on economic estimates that are far from uniform.

ArmchairPolitician.US Response:
ABC says that the tax reductions are complicated, and economic estimates vary. Those statements are misleading. The average corporate tax rate around the world is 23%, and at a 35% tax rate, U.S. corporations were at a disadvantage. With the corporate tax rate at 21%, companies will, in general, be able to compete more effectively. The tax changes will also allow the return of trillions of dollars U.S. companies have been holding offshore to avoid taxes. That has changed, and much of this money will come back to the U.S. The improvements in income for families will come from increased income from companies that pass on part of their tax reductions to their employees. Also, there will be reductions in taxes for families. Additionally, there are possible increases in family income because economic growth, which could reach 4% in 2018 and 2019, and the possibility that growth could thereafter be above 3% of GDP. Those economic increases could raise wages, which have recently gone from about 2.5% increases during the Obama administration, to the 2.9% level reached in January, 2019.

The FISA Memo Shows That High Level Employees In The DOJ Used Illegal Methods To Defeat Trump And Start The Mueller Russian Investigation

ArmchairPolitiicianDepartmentofJustice, February 4, 2018, by Brad Peery

Book on Amazon.com: Trump’s Political Agenda and Achievements

WWW. ArmchairPolitician.US,
ArmchairPolitician.US@gmail.com

*Trump, during his presidential campaign, claimed that he was being spied on by the Obama administration. He was widely criticized by most of the media. It appears he was correct. During the campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was in need of funds, and Hillary Clinton basically funded and controlled the DNC. During the campaign, Bernie Sanders was discriminated against by the DNC.

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC paid for a Fusion “dossier” on Donald Trump that was based largely on unsubstantiated Russian declarations. It was presented to the FBI, despite the fact it was unverified, and paid for by the DNC and Clinton.

”The memo states that in December 2017, then FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe testified that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought” from the FISA court without the Steele dossier information.”
*House memo states disputed dossier was key to FBI’s FISA warrant to surveil members of Team Trump
Fox News, By Alex Pappas, Catherine Herridge, and Brooke Singman, February 2, 2018

**”Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the author of the opposition research dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia was acting on his own volition when he went to the FBI, because he was concerned that a presidential candidate was being blackmailed, according to the 312-page transcript of his testimony. Sources familiar with House and Senate investigations say this is the FBI’s dossier talking point 17 months after agents were first briefed in July 2016 as Donald Trump battled Hillary Clinton for the White House.

Simpson told a congressional committee in closed-door testimony in August, 2016, which was released publicly in January, 2018, that he did not know how the FBI would react when ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, went to the bureau in July 2016.

This was a political indictment of Trump that was used by the highest echelons of the FBI to get a FISA warrant, from the most secret court in the U.S. The purpose of the FISA warrant was to spy on a Trump campaign official, Carter Page. It was not disclosed to the FISA court that the dossier was paid for by Clinton and the DNC, and was unverified. Because it was paid for by Clinton and the DNC, it was probably illegal, an abuse of government power, and was an attempt to undermine the election of Trump.
**Fusion co-founder: Dossier author feared Trump was being blackmailed, CNN Politics, By Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju and Marshall Cohen, CNN, Updated January 10, 2018

“The most recent witness was FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who spent nearly eight hours in December, 2017 in a closed session before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Republicans believe they have unearthed a scandal inside the bureau’s top echelons over its determination to target Trump associates based on flimsy evidence and improper Justice Department contacts.

Republican committee members pressed Mr. McCabe about a dossier that was financed by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign based on gossip-tinged information from paid, unidentified Kremlin operatives. Mr. McCabe declined to criticize the dossier’s 35 pages of salacious and criminal charges against Donald Trump and his aides, but he said it remains largely unverified, according to a source familiar with ongoing congressional inquiries.

Sources speculated to The Washington Times that it would be embarrassing for Mr. McCabe to condemn a political opposition research paper on which his agents based decisions to open a counterintelligence investigation and interview witnesses. Some press reports said the FBI cited the dossier’s information in requests for court-approved wiretaps. The Washington Post reported Saturday that Mr. McCabe plans to retire early next year.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz is investigating whether Mr. McCabe should have recused himself from the Clinton email investigation in 2015 and 2016. Mr. McCabe’s wife, an unsuccessful 2015 Democratic candidate for Virginia state Senate, received more than $700,000 in campaign donations from two PACs, one of which was controlled by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally.”
**Embattled FBI admits it can’t verify dossier claims of Russia, Trump campaign collusion, The Washington Times, By Rowan Scarborough, December 25, 2017

***Other Hillary Clinton issues exist. Bill Clinton met with the Attorney General at the time the Clinton emails were being investigated. According to CBS: “As his wife is under federal investigation for her use of a private email server, former President Bill Clinton met privately with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Phoenix Airport Monday evening in what both sides say was an unplanned encounter. An aide to Bill Clinton confirmed to CBS News that the meeting wasn’t planned in advance: President Clinton saw the attorney general on the tarmac and wanted to say hello, so he boarded her plane to talk. The meeting comes as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still under investigation for her email practices–and also came the day before House Republicans released a report criticizing the Obama administration’s response to the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Lynch told reporters that the topics of Benghazi and Clinton’s email server did not come up, and that she and Clinton spoke largely about his grandchildren, golf and travel”. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes.
***Bill Clinton, AG Loretta Lynch meet on tarmac in Phoenix, CBS News, By Emily Schultheis, June 29, 2016

There are also allegations that Hillary Clinton used pay-to-play tactics to gain access to her as Secretary of State in return for contributions to the Clinton Foundation.

****According to the New York Daily News: “Federal investigators have spent months working on a reopened probe into allegations that the Clinton Foundation promised political favors for donations, according to reports Friday. FBI agents are looking at whether donors were improperly assured access to Hillary Clinton while she was serving as secretary of state and other corrupt practices, The Hill first reported. The Feds shut down an initial dive into the nonprofit and Clinton, who ran the State Department from 2009 through 2013, two years ago. The renewed investigation is being run out of the FBI’s field office in Little Rock, Ark., where the foundation has offices.
****FBI investigating Clinton Foundation for pay-to-play: reports, New York Daily News, By Christopher Brennan and Denis Slattery, Updated, January 5, 2018

*****Peter Strock and Lisa Page, both FBI employees discussed a strategy, that probably involved Andrew McCabe, and probably occurred in his office, that would be an insurance policy in the event that Trump, whom they disliked intensely, won the election. According the WND: “Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is demanding answers from the Justice Department concerning a cryptic text from one of the FBI’s top Russian counterintelligence experts discussing an “insurance policy” in the event that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump won election to the White House.

As WND reported, after months of bashing then-candidate Trump in texts and stating that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton “just has to win,” Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page exchanged a mysterious text concerning a so-called “insurance policy” against a possible Trump win.
*****FBI On Hot Seat Over ‘Insurance Policy’ Against Trump Election
Senator: ‘Some officials took actions beyond expressing their political opinions’
WND, By Chelsea Schilling, 12/14/2017

The Special Counselor Mueller investigation into Trump collusion with the Russians also has other possible conflicts.

ArmchairPolitician.US Opinion
This blog has covered the activities of some of the highest officials in the Department of Justice and their activities in opposition to the election of Donald Trump, including those of James Comey, the FBI director fired by Trump, that resulted in the appointment of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate possible collusion of the Trump campaign, despite no evidence has been disclosed that substantiate such claims. One of the actions of Comey was the leaking of a memo through a professor friend to the New York Times that included his interpretation of private meetings with Trump, which may have been contained classified information, and been an illegal activity.

The other subjects covered by this blog are the questionable actions by Bill and Hillary Clinton and the dossier financed partly by Clinton the use by the Clinton campaign of the offices of the Department of Justice and the FBI to fight the election of Donald Trump.