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For Normal Relations With Cuba, End US Interventionism

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Last week we saw an encouraging sign that the 50 year cold war between the US and Cuba was finally coming to an end. President Obama announced on Wednesday that the US and Cuba would restore full diplomatic relations and that embassies could be re-opened in each country by the end of the month.


For this achievement, which was resisted by vested interests in the US, Obama should be praised. However we shouldn¹t be too optimistic about truly establishing normal relations until we understand how relations became so abnormal in the first place. The destruction of relations between the two countries was preceded by US intervention on behalf of a hated Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, which had turned the Cuban people against the United States and set the stage for the emergence of Fidel Castro.
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Obamacare’s Best Allies: The Courts and the Republicans

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By ruling for the government in the case of King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court once again tied itself into rhetorical and logical knots to defend Obamacare. In King, the court disregarded Obamacare’s clear language regarding eligibility for federal health care subsides, on the grounds that enforcing the statute as written would cause havoc in the marketplace. The court found that Congress could not have intended this result and that the court needed to uphold Congress’s mythical intention and ignore Obamacare’s actual language.

While Obamacare may be safe from court challenges, its future is far from assured. As Obamacare forces more Americans to pay higher insurance premiums while causing others to lose their insurance or lose access to the physicians of their choice, opposition to Obamacare will grow. Additional Americans will turn against Obamacare as their employers reduce their hours, along with their paychecks, because of Obamacare’s mandates.
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Will Seizure of Russian Assets Hasten Dollar Decline?

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While much of the world focused last week on whether or not the Federal Reserve was going to raise interest rates, or whether the Greek debt crisis would bring Europe to a crisis, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague awarded a $50 billion judgment to shareholders of the former oil company Yukos in their case against the Russian government. The governments of Belgium and France moved immediately to freeze Russian state assets in their countries, naturally provoking the anger of the Russian government.

The timing of these actions is quite curious, coming as the Greek crisis in the EU seems to be reaching a tipping point and Greece, having perhaps abandoned the possibility of rapprochement with Europe, has been making overtures to Russia to help bail it out of its mess. And with the IMF's recent statement pledging its full and unconditional support to Ukraine, it has become even more clear that the IMF and other major multilateral institutions are not blindly technical organizations, but rather are totally subservient lackeys to the foreign policy agenda emanating from Washington. Toe the DC party line and the internationalists will bail you out regardless of how badly you mess up, but if you even think about talking to Russia you will face serious consequences.
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Death Penalty: The Ultimate Corrupt, Big Government Program

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Nebraska’s legislature recently made headlines when it ended the state’s death penalty. Many found it odd that a conservatives-dominated legislature would support ending capital punishment, since conservative politicians have traditionally supported the death penalty. However, an increasing number of conservatives are realizing that the death penalty is inconsistent with both fiscal and social conservatism. These conservatives are joining with libertarians and liberals in a growing anti-death penalty coalition.

It is hard to find a more wasteful and inefficient government program than the death penalty. New Hampshire recently spent over $4 million dollars prosecuting just two death penalty cases, while Jasper County in Texas raised property taxes by seven percent in order to pay for one death penalty case! A Duke University study found that replacing North Carolina’s death penalty would save taxpayers approximately $22 million dollars in just two years.
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Soros Pushes US Bailouts and Weapons for Ukraine

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If you look at the track record of the interventionists you might think they would pause before taking on more projects. Each of their past projects has ended in disaster yet still they press on. Last week the website Zero Hedge posted a report about hacked emails between billionaire George Soros and Ukrainian President Poroshenko. 
 
Soros is very close to the Ukrainian president, who was put in power after a US-backed coup deposed the elected leader of Ukraine last year. In the email correspondence, Soros tells the Ukrainian leadership that the US should provide Ukraine “with same level of sophistication in defense weapons to match the level of opposing force." In other words, despite the February ceasefire, Soros is pushing behind the scenes to make sure Ukraine receives top-of-the-line lethal weapons from the United States. Of course it will be up to us to pay the bill because Ukraine is broke.
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Ex-Im Bank is Welfare for the One Percent

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This month Congress will consider whether to renew the charter of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank). Ex-Im Bank is a New Deal-era federal program that uses taxpayer funds to subsidize the exports of American businesses. Foreign businesses, including state-owned corporations, also benefit from Ex-Im Bank. One country that has benefited from $1.5 billion of Ex-Im Bank loans is Russia. Venezuela, Pakistan, and China have also benefited from Ex-Im Bank loans.

With Ex-Im Bank’s track record of supporting countries that supposedly represent a threat to the US, one might expect neoconservatives, hawkish liberals, and other supporters of foreign intervention to be leading the effort to kill Ex-Im Bank. Yet, in an act of hypocrisy remarkable even by DC standards, many hawkish politicians, journalists, and foreign policy experts oppose ending Ex-Im Bank.
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Janet Yellen is Right: She Can’t Predict the Future

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This week I found myself in rare agreement with Janet Yellen when she admitted that her economic predictions are likely to be wrong. Sadly, Yellen did not follow up her admission by handing in her resignation and joining efforts to end the Fed. An honest examination of the Federal Reserve’s record over the past seven years clearly shows that the American people would be better off without it.

Following the bursting of the Federal Reserve-created housing bubble, the Fed embarked on an unprecedented program of bailouts and money creation via quantitative easing (QE) 1, 2, 3, etc. Not only has QE failed to revive the economy, it has further damaged the average American’s standard of living while benefiting the financial elites. None other than Donald Trump has called QE “a great deal for guys like me.”
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New Military Spending Bill Expands Empire But Forbids Debate on War

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On Friday the House passed a massive National Defense Authorization for 2016 that will guarantee US involvement in more wars and overseas interventions for years to come. The Republican majority resorted to trickery to evade the meager spending limitations imposed by the 2011 budget control act – limitations that did not, as often reported, cut military spending but only slowed its growth.
 
But not even slower growth is enough when you have an empire to maintain worldwide, so the House majority slipped into the military spending bill an extra $89 billion for an emergency war fund. Such “emergency” spending is not addressed in the growth caps placed on the military under the 2011 budget control act. It is a loophole filled by Congress with Fed-printed money.
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NSA Spying Ruled Illegal, But Will Congress Save the Program Anyway?

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This week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA’s metadata collection program was not authorized in US law. The PATRIOT Act, under which the program began, was too vague, the court found. But the truth is the Act was intended to be vague so that the government could interpret it in the broadest possible way.

But this is really more of a technicality, because illegality and unconstitutionality are really two very different things. Even if Congress had explicitly authorized the government to collect our phone records, that law would still be unconstitutional because the Constitution does not grant government the power to access our personal information without a valid search warrant.
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Are We A Nation of Wimps?

We now live in a society where safety and security are to be sought at all costs. The sacrifice of liberty is not a concern for most Americans today. This is not something new and it has been characteristic of most people throughout history but it has gotten especially bad in America since 9/11. In addition many Americans have become deeply worried as a consequence of the economic crisis that started in 2008. They have lost confidence in their future financial security but continue to deny our nation’s bankruptcy.

This has prompted many to opt for dependency on government even if it requires the use of force to get what they want to ameliorate their fears. Rather than having confidence in the benefits that accrue from a free society, the majority of Americans are now frightened by the thought of self-reliance and accepting the responsibility that comes with liberty. 

There has been a steady erosion of confidence over the past 100 years as the American people as a whole have accepted the so-called need for big government to provide safety and security for its citizens. In the process they have readily accepted the personal income tax and the abuse of the IRS along with the illegal power of the money manipulators at the Federal Reserve to pay the bills by simply printing money. Unfortunately they have also convinced themselves of our “righteousness” by supporting force to spread American “greatness” throughout the world. This of course is a fantasy and is self-deceptive. This trend has been ongoing since the Woodrow Wilson era up to and including the policies designed by the current crop of neoconservatives.
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