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What Michael Moore Gets Right and Wrong about the Police State

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Documentarian Michael Moore, in a Friday post at Twitter, linked to video of Alex Wubbels, a nurse at a Salt Lake City, Utah hospital, being arrested for refusing to comply with a police demand that she draw blood from an unconscious patient at the hospital without first the patient consenting, the patient being arrested, or a warrant being issued. While Moore admirably alerted people to what he termed the “authoritarian police state” in America and provided them with a vivid example of that police state in action, he clouded the issue by wrongly suggesting that the police state is a new creation caused by Donald Trump being president of the United States.

Moore, in his tweet, included a link to video of some of the encounter between Wubbels and police preceded by this comment:
Here's what it looks like now in Trump's America. The authoritarian police state he so loves is now everywhere. Please watch this video.
Moore’s sharing of the video and his cautioning regarding an authoritarian police state do a service for liberty. The decades-in-the-making expansion of police invincibility when cops assault or kill people needs to be seen and understood by Americans so it can be rolled back.
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Why President Donald Trump May Let Hillary Clinton Walk Scot-Free

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Donald Trump famously said in an October of 2016 presidential debate with Hillary Clinton that she would be in jail if he became president. Pointing to her deletion and destruction of emails that were a focus of an Obama administration Department of Justice investigation, Trump further explained he would, as president, have a special prosecutor investigate Clinton. Yet, it is over six months since Trump was sworn in as president, and there is no special prosecutor and little indication that the Trump administration is making any effort to develop a case for prosecuting Clinton.

Then, on Tuesday, came a report from Ed Klein at Newsmax that the Trump administration Department of Justice had reopened the investigation of Clinton. That investigation had been strangely closed last year in conjunction with a statement by then-Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James B. Comey in which Comey effectively said evidence indicated Clinton had broken the law but she would nonetheless not be prosecuted.

Now, just about as strangely, the story is, according to Klein, that the Trump administration’s Justice Department, after reviewing evidence pertaining to Clinton, is considering offering her a plea bargain in which she admits guilt and receives zero punishment related to both her emails and “pay to play’ deals with foreign governments and businesses. This is a plea bargain the average criminal defendant dreams of receiving but has virtually no chance of seeing offered.

Whether the Trump administration does nothing or offers Clinton the dream plea bargain that Klein mentions, either course would be about the opposite of the one to which Trump, as a candidate, said he aspired.
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Trump Sends in the Gun Confiscation Cops

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Chicago police are keeping busy confiscating “illegal guns.” Last year through the summer, the confiscations were occurring at a rate of one every 59 minutes according to Chicago Police Department figures related by Mark Berman in an October 2016 Washington Post article. This summer, the Chicago police will have some assistance from the United States government in racking up impressive gun confiscation numbers.
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Trump Administration Following in Obama Administration’s Footsteps on Marijuana

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Last month, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to oppose Congress again including in Department of Justice appropriations legislation a provision intended to stop, through a restriction on the use of appropriated money, the US government from arresting and prosecuting people for actions that comply with state medical marijuana laws, even if those actions violate US drug laws. Some people are reacting to Sessions’ letter, which was revealed this week, with condemnation of Sessions and the Trump administration for departing from Obama administration policy that showed increased leniency in regard to marijuana. But this claim appears to misrepresent the Obama administration’s marijuana history.

Tom Angell, who revealed the Sessions letter in a Monday article at MassRoots, suggests that Sessions’ request is consistent with the position under the Obama administration given that President Barack Obama, in his last two budget requests, suggested Congress remove the medical marijuana language. Indeed, Sessions pretty much makes this same observation that he is continuing the prior administration’s policy in the first sentence of his letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), House or Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Sessions starts the letter as follows: “I write to renew the Department of Justice’s opposition to the inclusion of language in any appropriations legislation that would prohibit the use of Department of Justice funds or in any way inhibit its authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).”

Further, Obama administration Justice Department lawyers, after the appropriations provision was in effect, defended in the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals case of United States v. McIntosh ignoring, in ten separate drug law cases that had been consolidated for review on appeal, whether defendants complied with state medical marijuana laws. In each case, the individuals were being prosecuted for actions that they argued complied with state medical marijuana laws.
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Welcome to the White House, President Duterte

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Part of noninterventionism in foreign affairs is refraining from using threats, sanctions, foreign aid, or military attacks to make the governments of other countries change their actions in their own countries. The United States government has drifted so far from adherence to this standard that much media coverage expresses distress and amazement, due to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal domestic actions, that US President Donald Trump cordially spoke Saturday with Duterte in a phone call and invited Duterte to visit Trump at the White House.

Media stories express concern that Trump would talk to Duterte. Duterte is a killer in the drug war he has escalated in the Philippines the stories recount. But, as Trump noted in an early interview as president, the United States is not so innocent so far as killings go. Neither Trump nor Duterte will likely be changing their killing ways whether they talk or not

As far as the drug war goes, Trump, soon after becoming president, promised, in a Washington, DC speech to police, that he would pursue a “ruthless” drug war in America. Many people think the war on drugs has already been ruthless in America for decades as evidenced by the high incarceration rate, ramped up police power, and the “drug war exception to the Fourth Amendment” that the drug war has helped create.
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Jeff Sessions is Less of a Threat to Marijuana Legalization than You May Think

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United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has worried many advocates for legal medical and recreational marijuana because of his comments, before and since becoming attorney general, critical of both marijuana and its legalization for any purpose. However, in questions and answers with reporters Wednesday in Richmond, Virginia, Sessions indicated that the Trump administration will continue following the Obama administration policy of refraining from many prosecutions of individuals for US marijuana law violations if they are complying with state marijuana laws.

In particular, Sessions pointed to the August 29, 2013 “Cole memorandum” adopted by the Obama administration to guide US Department of Justice marijuana enforcement decisions in light of conflicts between states’ legalization and US laws. Sessions said: "The Cole memorandum set up some policies under President Obama's Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid." This declaration leaves Sessions room to increase prosecutions in some circumstances. But, it importantly indicates that the Trump administration’s plan is for the general policy to remain the same.

The Cole memorandum itself provides Sessions and the DOJ with significant avenues for expanding marijuana prohibition enforcement. The memorandum states that “attorneys and law enforcement” are directed to “focus their enforcement resources and efforts, including prosecution, on persons or organizations whose conduct interferes with” any of eight listed priorities, “regardless of state law.” Included among the listed priorities are preventing distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to states where it is illegal, and preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other public health problems from marijuana use.
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Expect Increased Spending under President Trump, and Not Just on the Military

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The Trump administration announced Monday its support for an additional 54 billion dollars in spending for military and national security programs in fiscal year 2018 and a 30 billion dollar bump for such spending in fiscal year 2017. Meanwhile, 54 billion dollars in spending decreases in other areas in fiscal year 2018 are being put forward as an offset.

The story the White House is promoting is that, because of the offsetting cuts, the 54 billion dollars in additional spending will not increase United States government spending in the first fiscal year of Donald Trump’s presidency over the amount of Obama administration spending. This story is likely fiction, not reality.

You can count on Trump to determinedly stand by his desired military and national security spending goals, as well as his spending goals for other areas where he has pledged expansive US government actions, such as infrastructure and law and order. But, there seems to be little reason for confidence that Trump, who sees himself as a great dealmaker, won’t deal away much of his proposed cuts and even agree to various new increases in spending to ensure that his preferred additional spending receives congressional approval.

It will likely take significant dealmaking to push through Congress as large of a military spending increase as Trump proposes, even with Republican majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate. For some perspective on what $54 billion in additional military spending means, Alex Emmons notes at The Intercept that the “increase alone is roughly the size of the entire annual military budget of the United Kingdom, the fifth-largest spending country, and it’s more than 80 percent of Russia’s entire military budget in 2015.” Expect even “pro-military conservatives” in congress to jump at the opportunity to toss some money for their own pet projects into the spending pot once the legislative bargaining is underway.
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Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich Ask President Obama to Free Chelsea Manning

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Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich sent a letter this week to President Barack Obama requesting that Obama “grant the application for clemency submitted by Chelsea Manning and commute her sentence to time served.” The result of Obama taking this action would be the whistleblower’s prompt release from prison.

Noting that Manning “has already spent more time in prison than anyone previously convicted for providing information to the media,” the two former US House Members who have both run for president in their respective parties’ primaries, declare their belief that Manning “received a sentence that was excessively punitive and intended to send a chilling message to future potential whistleblowers acting in the public interest.”
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Washington Post Peddles Tarring of Ron Paul Institute as Russian Propaganda

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The Washington Post has a history of misrepresenting Ron Paul’s views. Last year the supposed newspaper of record ran a feature article by David A. Fahrenthold in which Fahrenthold grossly mischaracterized Paul as an advocate for calamity, oppression, and poverty — the opposite of the goals Paul routinely expresses and, indeed, expressed clearly in a speech at the event upon which Fahrenthold’s article purported to report. Such fraudulent attacks on the prominent advocate for liberty and a noninterventionist foreign policy fall in line with the newspaper’s agenda. As Future of Freedom Foundation President Jacob G. Hornberger put it in a February editorial, the Post’s agenda is guided by “the interventionist mindset that undergirds the mainstream media.”

On Thursday, the Post published a new article by Craig Timberg complaining of a “flood” of so-called fake news supported by “a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy,” To advance this conclusion, Timberg points to PropOrNot, an organization of anonymous individuals formed this year, as having identified “more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.” Look on the PropOrNot list. There is the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity’s (RPI) website RonPaulInstitute.org listed among websites termed “Russian propaganda outlets.”
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Ron Paul to Trump: Don't Listen to Neocons!

Ron Paul, known for his promotion of the United States following a noninterventionist foreign policy, presented Thursday his take on the prospects of Donald Trump’s foreign policy as president. Paul set out his analysis in an extensive interview with host Peter Lavelle at RT.

Paul started off the interview saying that he is keeping his “fingers crossed” regarding Trump’s potential foreign policy actions. Paul says he views favorably Trump’s comments in the presidential election about “being less confrontational with Russia” and criticizing some of the US wars in the Middle East. Paul, though, notes that Trump has presented “vague” foreign policy positions overall. Paul also comments that a good indication of how Trump will act on foreign policy issues will be provided by looking at who Trump appoints to positions in the executive branch and from whom Trump receives advice.
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