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Obama Follows Bush's Iraq Playbook

Barrack Obama George Bush 1

U.S. politicians are exploiting the gruesome beheadings of two American journalists to whip up war fever against ISIS, the “criminal gang” masquerading as an organization of devout Sunni Muslims that controls large parts of Syria and Iraq. The American propaganda campaign seems to be working if recent polls are accurate.

No decent person is anything but appalled by those executions. But are they grounds for the United States to go to war?

No, they are not. Barack Obama says his job is to protect Americans wherever they are, but he doesn’t cite the source of this power. No such power is implied in the president’s oath of office, which obligates him only to “faithfully execute the Office of President” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”

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Obama: I Do Not Need Congressional Approval To Go To War With ISIS

Obama Who Cares

President Obama is again asserting his right to act unilaterally and without congressional approval in going to war. In what has become a mantra for this Administration, Obama reportedly told members of Congress that he does not need congressional approval to unleash a comprehensive military campaign against the Islamic State. The President informed a few members at a dinner — a striking image of how low congressional authority has become in our tripartite system of government.

We have been discussing the growing concerns over President Barack Obama’s series of unilateral actions in ordering agencies not to enforce law, effectively rewriting laws, and moving hundreds of millions of dollars from appropriated purposes to areas of his choosing. One of the greatest concerns has been his unchecked authority asserted in the national security area. I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. 

In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing. As with his approach in Libya, Syria and other combat operations (and most recently on whether he will resume the war in Iraq), Obama is again asserting his extreme view of executive power.
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Resistance is Futile: The Violent Cost of Challenging the American Police State

Police Pointing Gun

If you don’t want to get probed, poked, pinched, tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed, don’t say, do or even suggest anything that even hints of noncompliance. This is the new “thin blue line” over which you must not cross in interactions with police if you want to walk away with your life and freedoms intact.

The following incidents and many more like them serve as chilling reminders that in the American police state, “we the people” are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.”

For example, police arrested Chaumtoli Huq because she failed to promptly comply when ordered to “move along” while waiting outside a Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant for her children, who were inside with their father, using the bathroom. NYPD officers grabbed Huq, a lawyer with the New York City Public Advocate’s office, flipped her around, pressed her against a wall, handcuffed her, searched her purse, arrested her, and told her to “shut up” when she cried out for help, before detaining her for nine hours. Huq was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
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'Think Tank-Gate': Corruption Is the Price of Empire

NYT Brookings

A New York Times investigation into the influence of foreign money on American thinktanks is causing a Twitter-storm as I write this, and with good reason. In one particularly egregious example, the report details an explicit agreement, signed by the principals, between the Center for Global Development (CGD) and the government of Norway for the former to propagandize on behalf of doubling a foreign aid program to Norway in exchange for a $5 million donation. Aside from the brazen corruption of the CGD/Norway relationship, the report focuses on three other Washington DC biggies: the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, all of which receive substantial chunks of cash from rich overseas donors, primarily from the Middle East, Europe, and the Far East. For example, the Times notes:

"The United Arab Emirates, a major supporter of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, quietly provided a donation of more than $1 million to help build the center’s gleaming new glass and steel headquarters not far from the White House. Qatar, the small but wealthy Middle East nation, agreed last year to make a $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings, which has helped fund a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world."

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Stop Being Mean to Tony Blair!

Tony Blair Lecture

Let me put in a word for Anthony Blair. I despise the Blair creature so much that words long ago failed me, and I have even run out of scornful facial expressions and rude noises to use when his name is mentioned.

I long for the day when the mystery of his rise to the highest office in British politics can be documented and explained, with all the culprits exposed.

But this week I must rally to his defence. It has now become fashionable to deride him (which it certainly wasn’t in the old days) and he got a nasty reception when he was given some award at a London dinner.

Yet the people who despise him mostly continue to support the policies that destroyed him – the babyish, grandiose warmongering and demands to impose ‘democracy’ on all corners of the world.
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Nixon’s Vindication

Forty years ago many Americans celebrated the demise of the imperial presidency with the Rp Weekly Buttonresignation of Richard Nixon. Today it is clear they celebrated too soon. Nixon’s view of presidential powers, summed up in his infamous statement that, “when the president does it that means it is not illegal,” is embraced by the majority of the political class. In fact, the last two presidents have abused their power in ways that would have made Nixon blush.

For example, Nixon’s abuse of the Internal Revenue Service to persecute his political opponents was the subject of one of the articles of impeachment passed by the US House of Representatives. As bad as Nixon’s abuse of the IRS was, he was hardly the first president to use the IRS this way, and the present administration seems to be continuing this tradition.
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Desperate Drug War Beneficiaries Spread Marijuana Legalization Disinformation

Marijuana Field

While local and state governments continue moving forward with reducing and eliminating restrictions and penalties regarding marijuana, drug war beneficiaries are desperately responding by spreading disinformation. One such effort is the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Traffic Area August report “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact.”

The report purports to be a balanced analysis of the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado. In fact, the report is over 150 pages of deceptive pro-drug war propaganda.

One may wonder how much time and money the HIDTA spent on researching, writing, and producing the professional appearing report. Whatever the cost, the HIDTA people must figure it is a good investment of other people’s money.

While the Rocky Mountain HIDTA and its private and government allies spent hundreds or thousands of hours creating the agitprop, drug war writer Jacob Sullum had no trouble promptly rebutting a good portion of the report’s conclusions and exposing some of the rhetorical trickery that made the report particularly deceptive. Nonetheless, singers of prohibition praise from Cully Stimson of the Heritage Foundation to DARE enthusiastically promoted bite-size packets of the report’s disinformation.
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Mr. President, The Less You Do Overseas The Better

Obama

“We’ve got to stop ISIS… al-Qaida… Syria’s Assad… Hamas… Hezbollah… Taliban…

Shebab…the wicked Ruskis in Ukraine…those Yemeni Houthis…Iran…Sudan…Islamists in Libya and Mali…Boko Haram in Nigeria… the Red Chinese in Asia. Oh yes, and defend Latvia and fight the Lord’s Army in Uganda.

That’s the view in Washington where international police fever and growing hysteria over ISIS, the latest Mideast bogeyman, have gripped the nation, as elections near and politicians talk more nonsense than usual.

Listen to Republican windbags and you’d believe the hordes of ISIS are about to put Cleveland to the sword.

My question is: which “we” is going to stop all these malefactors?
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Iraq Has WMDs and Russia Has Invaded!

Iraq WMD

How did they imagine they’d get away with it, claiming that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and even nuclear weapons?

Defectors had made clear the chemical and biological weapons (some of them provided by the United States) had been destroyed. Inspectors had searched almost every inch of Iraq and said they’d get to the last few inches if given a few more days. Iraq was screaming that it had no such weapons. Numerous nations around the world were agreeing with Iraq. Colin Powell’s own staff warned him that his claims would not be deemed plausible.

And yet, they got away with it to such an extent that most well-intentioned people in the United States to this day maintain that nobody can possibly be sure that Bush, Cheney, et alia, knew their statements were false when they made them.
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US Boots in Iraq and Baltics, Authorization to Attack Syria...and US Troops in Ukraine!

Boots

It has been a busy week for US military planners.

As the NATO summit in Wales kicks off today, with an expected agreement to create a "spearhead" force of up to 5,000 troops to rapidly deploy to any "hotspot" in eastern Europe, we learn that the US will also send several hundred troops to participate in NATO military exercises in Ukraine later this month. The exercises, provocatively named "Rapid Trident," are said to be "a sign of the commitment of NATO states to support non-NATO member Ukraine..."

As the civil war rages on in Kiev, with US-backed troops from Kiev fighting to suppress an independence movement in the east, the presence of US troops on Ukrainian soil sends a perhaps dangerously clear message of US willingness to become further involved in Ukraine's internal affairs. Russia has been accused of military involvement on behalf of those seeking independence from Kiev, but Moscow denies any official Russian role.
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