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From ‘Russia-Gate’ to ‘Israel-Gate’

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Life is full of surprises. Like that time you were counting on a new bike for Christmas, and were totally certain your parents were going to come through, and then – lo and behold! – on Christmas morning there it was: a spanking brand-new Segway! The final evidence that, despite your best efforts, you’d always be a nerdy little dork. (And yes, a pocket calculator turned up in your stocking).

That’s just what happened to #TheResistance this holiday season. For months they’ve been salivating heavily in anticipation of the turning of Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor now charged with lying to the FBI. Flynn has admitted doing so on at least two occasions, both involving his answers to questions about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kisylak. During the transition – after Trump’s election but before he took office – Flynn was talking to the Russians about two subjects: the possible blowback from the Obama administration’s decision to impose more sanctions and close the Russian compound in Maryland, and the Russian position on the controversial UN resolution condemning Israel for building yet more “settlements” on Palestinian land.

The incoming Trump team was “intensely focused on improving relations with Moscow and was willing to intervene to pursue that goal,” as the New York Times phrased it, even as the war cries in the Democratic party got louder and demagogues like Adam Schiff waved the bloody shirt of Russia-gate. That took balls: and here’s another instance where the alleged non-interventionists ensconced in the world of thinktanks and academia fail to give the Trump people the credit that is their due.
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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Of The Flynn Plea

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Below is my column on the Flynn plea agreement and its potential significance to the Russian investigation.  One development is that President Donald Trump is now denying that he ever told Director James Comey to let Flynn go.  This follows a highly damaging tweet that a Trump lawyer now says was his sloppy mistake. It is another tweet gone awry for the Trump White House.

Here is the column:

The plea agreement of Michael Flynn, the former White House national security adviser, is a case of the the good, the bad and the ugly for the Trump administration. It is an undeniably significant, though not unexpected, development in the Russia investigation. Flynn was always the most exposed of the high-ranking Trump officials and he lacked a clear defense on some of the allegations regarding his work as a foreign agent. In the famous Western “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” Clint Eastwood’s character Blondie explained the difference between a man with a defense and no defense: “You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend, those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” Flynn had to dig for a plea but the question is whether he presents a clear and present danger to the Trump inner circle. That is far less clear.

The good

The coverage of the plea was immediately breathless and a bit jubilant. New York defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt announced, “It’s the beginning of the end.” CNN’s legal analyst Susan Hennessey called the charges the “slam dunk” that everyone is looking for. If so, the Russian investigation has experienced a serious downgrading. This investigation began with an allegation of criminal acts of collusion with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election. This is a single count of making a false statement not a count of conspiracy or computer hacking or bribery connected to the Russians.
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Good News: Young Americans Want a New Political Party

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Do we need a third major political party? I often joke that I’d be happy if we actually had a second party, as when it comes to the big issues – war, monetary policy, civil liberties – the Republicans and Democrats are more alike than different. Perhaps that’s why a recent NBC News poll has found that nearly two-thirds of young people surveyed do not believe either the Republicans or Democrats are doing a good job and that a third major political party is needed.
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ABC News Retracts Flynn Bombshell Story

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During the frenzy yesterday over the Flynn plea deal, ABC dropped a bombshell report that Michael Flynn told Special Counsel Bob Mueller that he was prepared to testify that it was Trump who told him to contact the Russians. 
ABC News later not only retracted that statement but corrected it with information supporting Trump’s account and contacts with Russians.
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Slave Markets in ‘Liberated’ Libya and the Silence of the Humanitarian Hawks

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The reports that black Africans are being sold at slave markets in "liberated" Libya for as little as $400 is a terrible indictment of the so-called "humanitarian intervention" carried out by NATO to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In March 2011 virtue-signaling Western "liberal" hipsters teamed up with hardcore neocon warmongers to demand action to "save" the Libyan people from the "despotic" leader who had ruled the country since the late 1960s. “Something has to be done!” they cried in unison.

Something was done. Libya was transformed by NATO from the country with the highest Human Development Index in the whole of Africa in 2009 into a lawless hell-hole, with rival governments, warlords and terror groups fighting for control of the country.

Under Gaddafi, Libyans enjoyed free health care and education. Literacy rates went up from around 25 percent to almost 90 percent. A UN Human Rights Council report on Libya from January 2011, in which member states praised welfare provision, can be read here.

It was clear that while there were still areas of concern the country was continuing to make progress on a number of fronts.

In the Daily Telegraph - hardly a paper which could be accused of being an ideological supporter of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya - Libya was hailed as one of the top six exotic cruise ship destinations in June 2010.
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The Case Against Michael Flynn: Lying to the FBI About Asking Russia’s Help to Protect Israel

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The indictment and guilty plea of General Flynn represent what I suspect is the high water mark of the Russiagate scandal.

A few weeks ago, following the indictments issued against Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, I speculated that Flynn would be the next person to be indicted, and so it has proved.

Flynn’s guilty plea has come with an apparent agreement to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.  Inevitably this is giving rise to speculation that Flynn has “flipped.” Is that speculation warranted?

Firstly, it needs to be said that the indictment against Flynn and his guilty plea have absolutely no bearing on the allegations of illegal collusion during the 2016 Presidential election between the Trump campaign and the Russians which are at the centre of the Russiagate scandal.

Instead they concern what is purely a "process crime": that Flynn falsely denied to the FBI that he had asked Russian ambassador Kislyak for Russia to react with restraint to the sanctions imposed on Russia in December 2016 by Barack Obama, and – much more interestingly – that he also falsely denied having asked Kislyak for Russia’s help to block or delay a vote on a Resolution in the UN Security Council.
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How Hitler Analogies Obscure Understanding of Mideast Power Struggle

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While growing up in America during the 1950’s, one would sometimes encounter supermarket tabloid headlines asserting that Adolph Hitler had not died in May 1945 in the ruins of the Reich’s Chancellery. It was claimed that he had somehow escaped and was living under a false identity somewhere in South America, most probably in Argentina. Eventually, as the Fuhrer’s hundredth birthday came and went in 1989, the stories pretty much vanished from sight though the fascination with Hitler as the ultimate manifestation of pure evil persisted.

The transformation of Hitler into something like a historical metaphor means that his name has been evoked a number of times in the past twenty years, attached to Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gaddafi, Vladimir Putin and, most recently, to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. The attribution in the cases of Hussein and Gaddafi was essentially to create popular support for otherwise unjustifiable wars initiated by the United States and its European and Middle Eastern allies. Putin, meanwhile, received the sobriquet from an angry Hillary Clinton, who certainly knows a thing or two about both personalizing and overstating a case.
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Massacre In Somalia: US Troops To Blame?

In August ten villagers in Somalia were killed in a military raid conducted by US and Somali troops. According to a recent investigation by the Daily Beast, they were killed by Americans. A subsequent Pentagon/AFRICOM investigation claimed that those killed were all enemy combatants. Who's telling the truth? But more importantly, why are American troops even operating in a country like Somalia. There are no legitimate threats to the US in Somalia. The only threats will come if the US continues to kill civilians, which leads to radicalization of the population. More in today's Liberty Report...
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