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Trump’s Tulsi Gabbard Factor

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Two weeks after Donald Trump’s shocking upset of Hillary Clinton, the imperious and imperial neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist understudies may finally be losing their tight grip on US foreign policy.

The latest sign was Trump’s invitation for a meeting with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, on Monday. The mainstream media commentary has almost completely missed the potential significance of this start-of-the-work-week meeting by suggesting that Trump is attracted to Gabbard’s tough words on “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Far more important is that Gabbard, a 35-year-old Iraq War veteran, endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries because of his opposition to neocon/liberal-hawk military adventures. She starred in one of the strongest political ads of the campaign, a message to Hawaiians, called “The Cost of War.”
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When It Comes to Fake News, the US Government Is the Biggest Culprit

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Let’s talk about fake news stories, shall we?

There’s the garden variety fake news that is not really “news” so much as it is titillating, tabloid-worthy material peddled by anyone with a Twitter account, a Facebook page and an active imagination.

Anyone with an ounce of sense and access to the Internet should be able to ferret out the truth and lies in these stories with some basic research. That these stories flourish is largely owing to the general gullibility, laziness and media illiteracy of the general public, which through its learned compliance rarely questions, challenges or confronts.

Then there’s the more devious kind of news stories circulated by one of the biggest propagators of fake news: the US government.

In the midst of the media’s sudden headline-blaring apoplexy over fake news, you won’t hear much about the government’s role in producing, planting and peddling propaganda-driven fake news—often with the help of the corporate news media—because that’s not how the game works.
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Mr. Trump: Here is a Worthy, Perhaps Final Opportunity to Put America First

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Although Obama’s effort to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign by taking Mosul on the eve of the election failed, there is a good chance that Mosul will fall to the heterogeneous coalition that is attacking it. Be that event in six weeks, six months, or a year, the United States and its allies will rejoice over the event as if it is the death knell of the Islamic State (IS). They will be wrong to do so, showing again how deeply ignorant they are of the Islamist enemy and the religious war it is waging against them.

IS has lost in Palmyra, Anbar, Ramadi, and other territories, and yet its troops are putting up their hardest fight yet in Mosul. Why? Two reasons: (a) IS leaders prematurely declared the caliphate, ignoring Osama bin Laden’s guidance that the lasting re-creation of caliphate was impossible until the United States was driven from the Arab World; if he was alive, he would probably add Russia to that guidance; and (b) because in the minds of IS leaders, fighters, and their supporters, everything, good or bad, comes from Allah; victory is from Allah, and defeat is a trial sent by Allah to test His followers’ faith and perseverance. While far from irrelevant, IS’s defeats in 2016, in Islamist minds, are in part a consequence of a IS leadership mistakes, but overwhelmingly because Allah did not grant them victory at this time.
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Education System Broken: Let’s Try ‘Ed-Exit’

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Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently signed an executive order forbidding Maryland public schools from beginning classes before Labor Day. Governor Hogan’s executive order benefits businesses in Maryland’s coastal areas that lose school-aged summer employees and business from Maryland families when schools start in August. However, as Governor Hogan’s critics have pointed out, some Maryland school districts, as well as Maryland schoolchildren, benefit from an earlier start to the school year.

Governor Hogan’s executive order is the latest example of how centralized government control of education leaves many students behind. A centrally planned education system can no more meet the unique needs of every child than a centrally planned economic system can meet the unique needs of every worker and consumer.
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Help Wanted, Apply Now!

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You may have seen the stories last week — President-elect Donald Trump was shocked to learn he needs to hire over 4,000 political appointees by January 20, or that people in Washington may refuse to work in a Trump administration, or that Trump, as a newcomer to politics, may not know enough people to get down to the business of hiring. I doubt any of those statements are true, and the task is easier than you think.

Trump was well aware if he won he would need to do some hiring, and if he was not keeping lists of potential candidates, you can be sure others around him were. Far from some kind of chore, political organizations stretching back to Tammany Hall if not ancient Rome live for this task — handing out jobs is one of the prizes the election winner takes home. And as a businessperson, Trump himself is no stranger to the concept of hiring. The standing bureaucracy Washington oversees these transitions every four to eight years, as do the national party offices. Trump, though he is new to government, is not beginning from a cold start.

But when it gets down to the actual work of filling positions, exactly how will Trump do it? I worked in a non-politically appointed position for the State Department for 24 years worth of transitions. Trump will fill positions pretty much the same way as every other modern president before him has.
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War Breaks Out Between Neo-Cons And Libertarians Over Trump's Foreign Policy

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In late October, when it was still conventional wisdom that Hillary was "guaranteed" to win the presidency, the WaPo explained that among the neo-con, foreign policy "elites" of the Pentagon, a feeling of calm content had spread: after all, it was just a matter of time before the "pacifist" Obama was out, replaced by the more hawkish Hillary.

As the WaPo reported, "there is one corner of Washington where Donald Trump’s scorched-earth presidential campaign is treated as a mere distraction and where bipartisanship reigns. In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama’s departure from the White House — and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton — is being met with quiet relief."
The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House.
Oops.
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Those Damn Emails

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In the end, the emails mattered. How much they mattered — how many votes went to Trump, how many would be-Clinton supporters stayed home, how many voted third party — we’ll never know.

Clinton supporters were surprised the emails mattered at all, because they had been fed a regular and often fully-factually wrong diet by the majority of the media. There was some good reporting on what the emails meant, and how classification works, but it was almost all on right-of-center websites Clinton people did not read, and blithely dismissed as biased when the sites were brought to their attention. And yeah, sometimes things got a bit too partisan in tone, but the facts were also there.

After holding a security clearance for some 23 years, I tried, for some 18 months, to write as intelligently as I could about the damn emails. I tried to explain, in detail, what the whole thing meant, and that it was a significant problem for Clinton. Not bragging, just telling. If you’d like to read back through what I’ve had to say and judge yourself, here it is.
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The Russians are Coming – By Sea!

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Russia’s dispatch of a ten-ship flotilla to the Syrian Coast has raised some outrage and sneers aplenty in the West. Particularly when one of its embarked MiG-29K fighters crashed on takeoff from Russia’s sole carrier, the obsolescent Admiral Kuznetsov which lacks catapults.

Joining Kuznetsov are believed to be two ‘Akula’ class nuclear-powered attack submarines that are much feared by Western navies. On the surface will be the powerful, missile-armed battle-cruiser, ‘Peter the Great.’ Unlike Western warships, which are essentially fragile tin cans packed with electronics, `Peter the Great’ is armored and built to withstand punishment.

Other Russian missile frigates and supply ships are also off Syria.

Washington just hates it when the Russians dare do what the US has been doing since World War II: conduct gunboat diplomacy, however limited.
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Donald and Vladimir

Are we seeing an opening to better US/Russia relations? One of president-elect Donald Trump's first moves after victory was a telephone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin. But turning away from the past several years of deteriorating relations will not be an easy task even if the incoming president makes it a priority. The Trump/Putin call sent shockwaves through Capitol Hill, with certain Senators warning the incoming president against further moves toward rapprochement. What's next? RPI's Daniel McAdams joins Crosstalk to give his views...
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