Monday April 24, 2017
“I love Wikileaks,” candidate Donald Trump said on October 10th on the campaign trail. He praised the organization for reporting on the darker side of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was information likely leaked by a whistleblower from within the Clinton campaign to Wikileaks.
Back then he praised Wikileaks for promoting transparency, but candidate Trump looks less like President Trump every day. The candidate praised whistleblowers and Wikileaks often on the campaign trail. In fact, candidate Trump loved Wikileaks so much he mentioned the organization more than 140 times in the final month of the campaign alone! Now, as President, it seems Trump wants Wikileaks founder Julian Assange sent to prison.
Saturday April 22, 2017
I watched the final French presidential debate last Thursday night with fascination and even a measure of admiration. France has some very intelligent, well-educated politicians. They are fine until they get into office but then must begin pleasing France’s fractious voters. And they must deal with the rising tide of jihadist violence in France, as witnessed by the shooting of police officers on the Champs Elysée on Thursday. This could help far right candidate Marine Le Pen.
Saturday April 22, 2017
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman outraged many readers when he wrote an opinion piece on 12 April calling on President Trump to "back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria". The reason he gave for that recommendation was not that US wars in the Middle East are inevitably self-defeating and endless, but that it would reduce the "pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah".
That suggestion that the US sell out its interest in counter-terrorism in the Middle East to gain some advantage in power competition with its adversaries was rightly attacked as cynical.
But, in fact, the national security bureaucracies of the US – which many have come to call the "Deep State" - have been selling out their interests in counter-terrorism in order to pursue various adventures in the region ever since George W Bush declared a "Global War on Terrorism" in late 2001.
The whole war on terrorism has been, in effect, a bait-and-switch operation from the beginning. The idea that US military operations were somehow going to make America safer after the 9/11 attacks was the bait. What has actually happened ever since then, however, is that senior officials at the Pentagon and the CIA have been sacrificing the interest of American people in weakening al-Qaeda in order to pursue their own institutional interests.
Saturday April 22, 2017
Skin in the Game is necessary to reduce the effects of the following divergences that arose mainly as a side effect of civilization: action and cheap talk (tawk), consequence and intention, practice and theory, honor and reputation, expertise and pseudo-expertise, concrete and abstract, ethical and legal, genuine and cosmetic, entrepreneur and bureaucrat, entrepreneur and chief executive, strength and display, love and gold-digging, Coventry and Brussels, Omaha and Washington, D.C., economists and human beings, authors and editors, scholarship and academia, democracy and governance, science and scientism, politics and politicians, love and money, the spirit and the letter, Cato the Elder and Barack Obama, quality and advertising, commitment and signaling, and, centrally, collective and individual.
But, to this author, is mostly about justice, honor, and sacrifice as something existential for humans.
Let us first connect a few dots of items the list above.
Antaeus was a giant, rather semi-giant of sorts, the literal son of Mother Earth, Gaea, and Poseidon the god of the sea. He had a strange occupation, which consisted of forcing passersby in his country, (Greek) Libya, to wrestle; his trick was to pin his victims to the ground and crush them. This macabre hobby was apparently the expression of filial devotion; Antaeus aimed at building a temple for his father Poseidon, using for material the skulls of his victims.
Antaeus was deemed to be invincible; but there was a trick. He derived his strength from contact with his mother, earth. Physically separated from contact with earth, he lost all his powers. Hercules, as part of his twelve labors (actually in one, not all variations), had for homework to whack Antaeus. He managed to lift him off the ground and terminated him by crushing him as his feet remained out of contact with his mamma.
Friday April 21, 2017
After hearing about an alleged Russian plot to throw the election to Donald Trump for eight months, amid leaks by “former government and intelligence officials,” this media narrative being pushed relentlessly by Rachel Maddow and the fake journalists over at CNN has come to naught. I’ve pinned a tweet to the top of my Twitter profile that’s my answer to this sort of nonsense: Where's the evidence?
Thursday April 20, 2017
We have been discussing the erosion of free speech on our campuses across the country through speech codes and increasingly violent protests. Conservative speakers are now routined denied the opportunity to speak on campuses by university officials who cite security concerns or by mob action preventing events from occurring. The latest example is Ann Coulter whose speech was cancelled at the last minute by the university even though she agreed to additional conditions set by officials. Coulter however pledges to show up to speak regardless of the decision. That could produce a confrontation with the university in its continued failure to protect free speech on its campus.
We have been discussing the rising intolerance and violence on college campuses, particularly against conservative speakers. (Here and here and here and here). Berkeley has been the focus of much concern over mob rule on our campuses as violent protesters have succeeded in silencing speakers. Both students and some faculty have maintained the position that they have a right to silence those with whom they disagree and even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech. At another University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.
Coulter has a legitimate grievance with Berkeley and, even if they disagree with her conservative views, both professors and students should be defending her right to speak and the right of others to hear her. A college Republican group invited Coulter to speak but university officials declared that her appearance on campus was too dangerous in light of past protests. That is yielding to the heckler’s veto. The university is rewarding the mob by barring any speakers with whom they may disagree.
Thursday April 20, 2017
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday accused Iran of sending troops to fight in Syria and of destabilizing the region. He did not mention that Iranian troops were invited into the country while US troops are in Syria illegally. Tillerson condemned Iran as a leading human rights abuser while praising Saudi Arabia -- the kings of head-chopping -- as a great US ally. The Secretary of State vowed that the US would solve the Iran problem once and for all instead of leaving it to the next US Administration. Is Trump gunning for yet another major war in the Middle East? Will US allies follow Washington in new sanctions on Iran even as Trump has reluctantly admitted that Iran is living up to its end of the nuclear deal? This and more in today's Liberty Report...
Thursday April 20, 2017
In my long experience in Washington, vice presidents did not make major foreign policy announcements or threaten other countries with war. Not even Dick Cheney stole this role from the weak president George W. Bush.
But yesterday the world witnessed VP Pence threaten North Korea with war. “The sword stands ready,” said Pence as if he is the commander in chief.
Perhaps he is.
Where is Trump? As far as I can tell from the numerous emails I receive from him, he is at work marketing his presidency. Once Trump won the election, I began receiving endless offers to purchase Trump baseball caps, T-shirts, cuff-links, coffee mugs, and to donate $3 to be entered into a raffle to win some memorabilia. The latest offer is a chance to win one of “personally signed five incredible photographs of our historic and massive inauguration.”
For Trump, the presidency is a fund-raising device. If his VP, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense, UN Ambassador, CIA Director, whoever, want to start wars wherever, that’s just more memorabilia to raffle off for a $3 donation.
Wednesday April 19, 2017
In late 2009, President Obama brought US troop levels in Afghanistan up to 100,000. This "surge" was modeled after the "successful" US surge in Iraq. Ultimately both failed, but the surge planners like General Petraeus are still being listened to as "serious" figures. Now, 16 years into the war in Afghanistan, we are witnessing a slow-motion surge. Some 300 US Marines are on their way to the "graveyard of empires" and the Commander of US troops in Afghanistan is on record requesting a "few thousand" more. Will another surge achieve what the previous surges have failed to achieve? We take a look at why the war on Afghanistan was lost long ago in today's Liberty Report...
Tuesday April 18, 2017
Sounds like we’ve heard it all before, because we have, back in August 2013, and that turned out to be less than convincing. Skepticism is likewise mounting over current White House claims that Damascus used a chemical weapon against civilians in the village of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on April 4th. Shortly after the more recent incident, President Donald Trump, possibly deriving his information from television news reports, abruptly stated that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had ordered the attack. He also noted that the use of chemicals had “crossed many red lines” and hinted that Damascus would be held accountable. Twenty-four hours later retribution came in the form of the launch of 59 cruise missiles directed against the Syrian airbase at Sharyat.