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Will Trump Continue the Bush-Obama Legacy?

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This week, Congress passed a budget calling for increasing federal spending and adding $1.7 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years. Most so-called “fiscal conservatives" voted for this big-spending budget because it allows Congress to repeal some parts of Obamacare via “reconciliation." As important as it is to repeal Obamacare, it does not justify increasing spending and debt.

It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the Obamacare repeal would be used to justify increasing spending. Despite sequestration’s minor (and largely phony) spending cuts, federal spending has increased every year since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. Some will attribute this to the fact that the Republican House had to negotiate with a big-spending Democratic president — even though federal spending actually increased by a greater percentage the last time Republicans controlled the White House and Congress than it did under President Obama.
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Is Trump Already Finished?

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It did not take long before we knew there was no hope of change from President Obama. But at least he went into his inauguration with an unprecedented number of Americans on the Mall showing their support for the President of Change. Hope was abundant.

But with Trump, we are already losing faith, if not yet with him, at least with his choice of those who comprise his government even before Trump is inaugurated.

Trump’s choice for Secretary of State not only sounds like the neoconservatives in declaring Russia to be a threat to the United States and all of Europe, but also sounds like Hillary Clinton in declaring the South China Sea to be an area of US dominance. One would think that the chaiman of Exxon was not an idiot, but I am no longer sure. In his confirmation hearing, Rex Tillerson said that China’s access to its own South China Sea is “not going to be allowed.”

Here is Tillerson’s statement: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also not going to be allowed.”

I mean, really, what is Tillerson going to do about it except get the world blown up. China’s response was as pointed as a response can be:

Tillerson “should not be misled into thinking that Beijing will be fearful of threats. If Trump’s diplomatic team shapes future Sino-US ties as it is doing now, the two sides had better prepare for a military clash. Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear power stategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories.”
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The Secret Trump Dossier -- What Does It Mean?

The strange UK "former" spy-produced report on information the Russians may have to compromise President-elect Donald Trump has been widely denounced and the website that released it in its entirety, BuzzFeed, criticized for irresponsibility. However, Buzzfeed has actually done us a service by letting us look at the cockamamie report in its entirety rather than filtered through biased media sources. So says RPI Director Daniel McAdams in this RT panel discussion...
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One Final Expansion of the Surveillance State as Obama Heads for the Door

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President Barack Obama's administration ending its eight-year rule by expanding the sharing of intercepted communications and data between federal agencies may feel a little bit like a final giant middle finger to the many critics of the massive, secretive surveillance state.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch just signed off on changes that will increase the ability of the National Security Agency (NSA) to share some raw intercepted data with other agencies before the process of filtering out private information from people unconnected to actual targets. The snooping itself is not changing, but more people will have access earlier in the process.

Specifically this is surveillance authorized by Executive Order 12333, the provisions that outline the conduct of intelligence agencies. These are rules separate from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the PATRIOT Act, and the new USA Freedom Act. The 12333 rules are specifically intended to oversee surveillance of foreign targets and foreign countries. It has very little oversight outside of the executive branch.
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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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The Tillerson Hearing: Will Trump Have A Neocon Foreign Policy?

Watching the Senate hearing for President-elect Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, it seemed arch-neocon Bill Kristol might have been hiding somewhere feeding the former Exxon CEO his lines. He's going to stop China from accessing islands it has constructed in the South China Sea? He endorses the neocon line about Russian "aggression" against Ukraine and Crimea? If America doesn't "lead" the rest of the world, there will only be chaos and confusion? He wants to give Saudi Arabia a "pass" on its dismal human rights record? Let's hope Tillerson is just telling the likes of Marco Rubio (R-FL) what he wants to hear, but should we bet on it? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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American Troops 'Roll Into Poland' In Largest Deployment Since The Cold War

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"American soldiers rolled into Poland on Thursday, fulfilling a dream Poles have had since the fall of communism in 1989 to have US troops on their soil as a deterrent against Russia."

That's how the AP begins its report on the first deployment of US soldiers into the central European country, previewed here earlier in the week as "One Of Largest Deployments Since The Cold War", even as Russia warned that the move represented a threat to its national security, and the Kremlin said "Russia regarded the move as an aggressive step along its borders."

NATO, however, has ignored Russian concerns and threats of retaliation and as a result soldiers in camouflage with tanks and other vehicles crossed into southwestern Poland on Thursday morning from Germany and headed for Zagan, where they will be based.

While in the past the US and other Western nations have carried out exercises on NATO's eastern flank, this deployment, which includes around 3,500 US troops and 2,800 tanks, trucks and other military equipment, marks the first-ever continuous deployment to the region by a NATO ally. It also represents a commitment by outgoing President Obama to "protect" a region that became deeply nervous over Russia's response to the CIA-orchestrated presidential coup in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and the resulting proxy war in east Ukraine.
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Will the CIA Retaliate Against Trump?

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In a truly remarkable bit of honesty and candor regarding the U.S. national-security establishment, new Senate minority leader Charles Schumer has accused President-elect Trump of “being really dumb.”

Was Schumer referring to Trump’s ideology, philosophy, or knowledge about economics or foreign policy?

None of the above. According to an article in The Hill, he told Rachel Maddow on her show that Trump was dumb for taking on the CIA and questioning its conclusions regarding Russia.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you…. He’s being really dumb to do this.”

Maddow then asked Schumer what he thought the intelligence community might do to Trump to get back at him.

Schumer’s response was fascinating and revealing. He responded, “I don’t know.”

So, Schumer knows that there are six ways from Sunday for the intelligence community to get back at Trump but then, a few seconds later, can’t enumerate even one of those ways? That makes no sense, unless he was a bit scared to go into the details for fear that one of those “six ways from Sunday” might be employed against him.
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Where Was Meryl Streep When Obama Was Prosecuting Whistleblowers & Bombing Weddings?

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Okay, first let’s get one thing out of the way: I adore Meryl Streep. Judge all you want, but The Devil Wears Prada is a classic and I won’t apologize for saying it.

Streep’s anti-Trump speech on Sunday night at the Golden Globes was a sublime performance. It was delivered with emotion and grace. A real tear-jerker for anyone worried about the oncoming era of Trump.

And yet... it also stank. It reeked, in fact. Of pure, unadulterated hypocrisy. Because Streep, sadly, is that common breed of liberal Hollywood hypocrite. You know, the ones whose bleeding heart credentials are suddenly nowhere to be found when the occupant of the White House is a cool Democrat who’s besties with Beyonce.

In her impassioned speech, Streep called on her peers and fans to join with her in donating to the Committee to Protect Journalists: “We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That's why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution,” she said.

She’s right, of course. But one wonders is Streep even aware, for instance, that the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all of his predecessors combined? It’s a tradition Trump is likely to continue, of course, but it’s rather strange that the issue never crossed her mind until now.
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Confirmation: Tillerson's Turn In The Hot Seat

President-elect Trump's choice for Secretary of State, former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, has infuriated Senators and the mainstream media by doing business with Russia, doing business with Iran even while sanctions were in place, and having personal investments in China and Russia. We may argue that these "shortcomings" may indicate that he will be more hesitant to endorse counterproductive sanctions on those countries that resist Washington's will. However, it remains to be seen whether he will "grow" while in office to adopt the prevalent neocon view of the world. Our preview of tomorrow's confirmation hearing in today's Liberty Report...
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