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James Bovard

Politicians' COVID Mania Ravages Maryland

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Maryland politicians have destroyed more than four hundred thousand jobs in dictatorial responses purporting to thwart the coronavirus pandemic. “Nearly one in five Maryland workers have filed for unemployment” compensation, theBaltimore Sun reported. The situation is so bad that even the Washington Post recognized that Maryland’s COVID “restrictions have crippled the economy and paralyzed daily life since mid-March.”

Shaky extrapolations of predicted infection rates sufficed to nullify limits on state and local government power. On March 20, Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, ordered the shutdown of all “nonessential” businesses. Ten days later, Hogan issued a mandatory “stay-at-home” order for all Marylanders. At that time, roughly a thousand Marylanders had tested positive for COVID and eighteen had died from the virus.

Despite the shutdown, Maryland has had over forty-eight thousand COVID cases and more than twenty-two hundred fatalities. If the shutdown had been effective, the transmission rate should have plunged after the fourteen-day incubation period for coronavirus. Didn’t happen. The shutdown utterly failed to stop the pandemic but inflicted collateral damage that will hobble the state for many years and probably permanently blight thousands of lives.

From the beginning, Maryland’s response epitomized iron fist progressivism—one overreaching decree after another. Piety repeatedly trumped safety.
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Will the Political Class Be Held Liable For What They’ve Done?

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Politically-dictated lockdowns and prohibitions have recently destroyed tens of millions of American jobs. Politicians have effectively claimed a right to inflict unlimited economic damage in pursuit of zero COVID-19 contagion. The perverse incentives driving the policy have multiplied the harm far beyond the original peril.
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Hacksawing the Economy: How Lockdowns Are in the Tradition of Civil War Surgeons

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Politicians and government health officials’ justification for decreeing shutdowns of vast swaths of American life has been deterring the spread of COVID-19. According to Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, almost 40 percent of households earning less than $40,000 per year have a member who has lost their job in recent months. Depression, drug abuse, and suicide are spiking as a result of the lockdowns and “shelter-in-place” commands.

Infection rates and deaths have soared despite severe restrictions on daily life. However, politicians and government health officials continue to claim victory because otherwise more people would have been infected by COVID-19. Most of the media coverage applauds politicians and officials who champion extending lockdowns regardless of the collateral damage to American life.

The political response to COVID-19 is eerily similar to Civil War surgeons’ rationales. Amputation was the most common surgical practice during that war, and more than fifty thousand soldiers had limbs hacked off after battles. Amputation was a reflexive “solution,” because limbs were sometimes shattered by Minié balls and also because that was the only trick that many untrained “surgeons” knew. Surgeons were derided as butchers and were usually utterly negligent about hygiene, leading to far more unnecessary deaths.

Surgeons justified fetching out their hacksaws, because otherwise many soldiers would die from their gangrened wounds. It didn’t matter how many soldiers died from unnecessary or botched amputations as long as surgeons didn’t get blamed for deaths from gangrene.
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The Deep State’s Demolition of Democracy

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“Thank God for the Deep State,” declared former acting CIA chief John McLaughlin while appearing on a panel at the National Press Club last October. In 2018, the New York Times asserted that Trump’s use of the term “Deep State” and similar rhetoric “fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media.”
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US Foreign Policy Perpetual Perfidy

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The Washington establishment was aghast in October when Donald Trump appeared to approve a Turkish invasion of northern Syria. The United States was seen as abandoning the Kurds, some of whom had assisted the United States in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups.
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Claims that John Bolton's book disclosures are 'top secret' ring hollow

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Ever since the 9/11 attacks, Republicans and Democrats have conspired to keep Americans increasingly ignorant of what the federal government does. The number of secret federal documents skyrocketed, and any information classified was treated like a political holy relic that could not be exposed without dooming the nation. Ironically, the fate of the Trump presidency may hinge on perpetuating the unjustifiable secrecy now pervading Washington. 

John Bolton wrote a book about his experiences as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser that could provide key information regarding Trump’s dealing with the Ukrainian government, and Democratic members of Congress are calling for the manuscript to be made public. Former government officials are obliged to submit their publications for review to ensure that no classified information is revealedBolton’s lawyer denies that the book contains classified information, but previous manuscript reviews of other would-be authors have dragged out for months or years. 

Obama weaponized classification 

Since the 1990s, the number of classified documents annually by federal agencies has increased more than 15 times.

In 2004, then-Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., derided the federal classification system as "incomprehensibly complex" and "so bloated it often does not distinguish between the critically important and the comically irrelevant."
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Impeachment’s Biggest Absurdity: Our Toxic Fixation On Useless And Corrupting Ukraine Aid

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The campaign to convict and remove President Donald Trump in the Senate hinges on delays in disbursing US aid to Ukraine. Ukraine was supposedly on the verge of great progress until Trump pulled the rug out from under the heroic salvation effort by US government bureaucrats. Unfortunately, Congress has devoted a hundred times more attention to the timing of aid to Ukraine than to its effectiveness. And most of the media coverage has ignored the biggest absurdity of the impeachment fight.
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Inspector General report on FBI's FISA abuse tells us one thing: We need radical reform.

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In a bombshell report last week, the Justice Department Inspector General found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation made “fundamental errors” and persistently deceived a secret court to authorize surveilling a 2016 Trump presidential campaign official. Inspector General Michael Horowitz did not find that the FBI’s actions were spurred by political bias but that conclusion is not necessarily shared by Attorney General William Barr. Unfortunately, this is only the latest episode of decades of FBI misconduct before America’s most powerful secret court.  

Perhaps the most jolting revelations in the IG report detail the FBI’s efforts to secure a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) search warrant to use against the Trump campaign after suspicions were raised of Russian collusion. A FISA warrant is the nuclear bomb of searches, authorizing the FBI “to conduct, simultaneous telephone, microphone, cell phone, e-mail and computer surveillance of the US person target’s home, workplace and vehicles,” as well as “physical searches of the target’s residence, office, vehicles, computer, safe deposit box and US mails,” as a FISA court decision noted. The FISA court is extremely deferential, approving 99% of all search warrant requests.
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Will Deval Patrick be president? Not if his past scandals have anything to say about it.

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Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick entered the presidential race last week. Patrick is touted as a centrist Democrat and is reportedly former president Barack Obama’s favorite candidate. Patrick is also the only candidate in the race responsible for disastrous coverups at both the federal and state level.

Patrick was assistant attorney general for Civil Rights in the Clinton administration. Shortly before Clinton won the 1992 election, US marshals killed 14-year-old Sammy Weaver and an FBI sniper shot Randy Weaver and killed his wife, Vicki Weaver, as she held their baby in the cabin door at Ruby Ridge.

An Idaho jury found Weaver not guilty on almost all charges and federal judge Edward Lodge slammed the Justice Department and FBI for concealing evidence and showing “a callous disregard for the rights of the defendants and the interests of justice.” A task force of 24 FBI and Justice Department officials compiled a 542-page report detailing federal misconduct and coverups and suggested criminal charges against FBI officials involved in Ruby Ridge. Patrick rejected the task force’s recommendation, ruling instead that the FBI sniper who killed Vicki Weaver had not used “excessive force” and did not intend to violate her civil rights.
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As the deep state attacks Trump to rave media reviews, don't forget its dark side

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Thank God for the deep state,” declared former acting CIA chief John McLaughlin recently while appearing on a panel at George Mason University. A year ago, the deep state was routinely reviled as a figment of paranoid right-wingers’ imagination. But much of the news media are now conferring the same sainthood on the deep state that was previously bestowed on special counsel Robert Mueller. 

A New York Times article last month gushed that “over the last three weeks, the deep state has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials, past and present ... and provided evidence that largely backs up the still-anonymous whistleblower” on President Donald Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine. Times columnist James Stewart declared: “There is a deep state, there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law ... protecting the American people.” Times editorial writer Michelle Cottle proclaimed that “the deep state is alive and well” and hailed it as “a collection of patriotic public servants.”

Intelligence agencies gone rogue

Former CIA Director John Brennan, appearing on the same panel as McLaughlin, declared, “The reason why Mr. Trump has this very contentious relationship with CIA and FBI and the deep state people ... is because they tell the truth.”
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