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Nice Job, Conservatives

When Barack Obama was elected president, the chickens came home to roost above the sordid nest that conservatives made for us after the 9/11 attacks. It was after those attacks that conservatives, quivering and quaking in their shoes over the thought that the terrorists were coming to get us, traded away the freedom of the American people to the federal government in the hope of gaining safety and security from the terrorists.

What were the terms of that fateful trade? They surrendered to President Bush omnipotent powers, powers that are inherent to any totalitarian regime and that are antithetical to the principles of freedom, due process of law, and limited government in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
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What is the Real Price of Starting Another Cold War?

Ukraine Fire

In the late 1980s, the leaders of the west promised Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev that they would not expand eastward if the Soviet Union pulled out of Eastern Europe and ended the Cold War. That promise was not kept. A triumphal West stuck it to the Soviet Union’s greatly weakened Russian successor, by incorporating the former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO and the EU. But that was not enough to sate the lust of the neo-liberal

triumphalists in search of a new imperium. Their next move tried to incorporate the Caucasus country of Georgia — a country more a part of Central Asia than of Europe — into the West’s sphere of influence. That turned out to be a bridge too far; the Russians intervened militarily to put a stop to the lunacy.

But events in the Ukraine suggest that stop may have been viewed as a temporary speed bump on the pathway to rolling back Russia’s geography to the years of Ivan the Terrible.

Ukraine may be descending into chaos, and some triumphalists in the west are again tempted to meddle and fan the fires of chaos and revolution, perhaps with a near-term aim of a partitioning the Ukraine along its historic Orthodox-Catholic fault line. Seaumas Milne describes the chaotic state of play in Ukraine in this commentary in the Guardian.
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The Continuing Al-Qaeda Threat

Appearing last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that he could not say the threat from al-Qaeda is any less today than it was ten years ago. It was a shocking admission. Does he mean that the trillions of dollars spent fighting the war on terrorism have resulted in no gains? That those who urged us to give up some of our liberties to gain security have, as Benjamin Franklin warned, lost both?
 
There may be reasons Director Clapper would want us to believe that the threat from al-Qaeda is as strong as ever. An entire industry has arisen from the government’s war on terror, and for both the government sector and the security-industrial complex the terrorist threat is big business.
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Stalin's Crimes Haunt Sochi Games

Sochi

Sochi seems a strange place to hold the Olympic games. First, it’s almost subtropical. To find snow, one must travel up to the Caucasus mountains.

The Black Sea resort is charming and exotic. But Sochi is a beach resort. No one knows if there will be enough snow for the skiing and snowboarding events being held on the low mountains behind.

Let me stop here and say that I consider all Olympic games a titanic waste of money that leave behind white elephant buildings and debts that never get paid off. Bread and circuses. Russia is blowing over $3 billion on this extravaganza. The games are just a huge commercial jamboree with faux patriotic overtones.

Second, there is the big security scare facing Russia from violent militants in the North Caucasus. The US government, trying to rain on Vlad Putin’s parade, actually warned American visitors to take extreme caution or just not go to Sochi because of the dangers of “terrorism.”
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The Year of Iran: Tehran’s Challenge to American Hegemony in 2014

Hassan Rohani’s election as Iran’s president seven months ago caught most of the West’s self-appointed Iran “experts” by (largely self-generated) surprise. Over the course of Iran’s month-long presidential campaign, methodologically-sound polls by the University of Tehran showed that a Rohani victory was increasingly likely.

Yet Iran specialists at Washington’s leading think tanks continued erroneously insisting (as they had for months before the campaign formally commenced) that Iranians could not be polled like other populations and that there would be “a selection rather than an election,” engineered to install Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “anointed” candidate—in most versions, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. On election day, as Iranian voters began casting their ballots, the Washington Post proclaimed that Rohani “will not be allowed to win”—a statement reflecting virtual consensus among American pundits.
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Obama and Kerry Jeopardize Peace With Iran

Obama Iran

Barack Obama and John Kerry should make up their minds: Do they want war or peace with Iran?

We should hope for peace, but Obama and Kerry make optimism difficult.

Ideally, the Obama administration would simply exit the Middle East, taking all its military and economic aid with it. The U.S. government cannot micromanage events there, especially when it is no honest, neutral broker. Shamefully, it is firmly in the Israeli camp against the Palestinians (who, let us remember, are the occupied, not the occupiers), and generally in the Sunni Muslim camp against the Shi’ites, led by Iran. (Iraq is the anomaly.)

As welcome as a U.S. exit would be, alas, it won’t happen anytime soon, so the best we can hope for is rapprochement with Iran. The U.S.-led economic sanctions impose an unconscionable hardship on Iranians — for example, depriving the elderly and children of medicines and nourishment. Clearly, a war would be catastrophic on many levels for nearly all concerned, including Americans. (I say “nearly all” because opportunistic rulers in Israel and Saudi Arabia could benefit.)
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The State of Our Nation: The Greatest Threat to Our Freedoms Is the Government

What was striking about this year’s State of the Union address was not the sheer arrogance of the president’s remarks, the staged nature of the proceedings and interactions, or the predictable posturing of the rebuttals, but the extent to which the members of the various branches of government—President Obama, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the assorted government agencies—are just one big, brawling, noisy, semi-incestuous clan.

Watching these bureaucrats, both elected and appointed, interact in the unguarded moments before the event, with their hugging and kissing and nudging and joking and hobnobbing and general high spirits, I was reminded anew that these people—Republicans and Democrats alike—are united in a common goal, and it is not to protect and defend the Constitution. No, as Orwell recognized in Animal Farm, their common goal is to maintain the status quo, a goal that is helped along by an unquestioning, easily mollified, corporate media. In this way, the carefully crafted spectacle that is the State of the Union address is just that: an exaggerated farce of political theater intended to dazzle, distract and divide us, all the while the police state marches steadily forward.
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Radical Ukraine?

Watch RPI Academic Advisor John Laughland on RT's excellent Crosstalk discussing Ukraine's future as the unrest spirals out of control. Why is the US and EU supporting the same kinds of violent extramists in Ukraine that it condemns elsewhere in Europe and the US?
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How Waist Deep in the Big Muddy Finally Got on Network Television in 1968

Peteseeger

Most of my life I have assumed that the kind of songs I sing would not normally get played on the airwaves. I pointed to examples like Woody Guthrie’s song, “This Land Is Your Land” to show that they don’t have to get played on the airwaves. If it’s a real good song, it will get spread around anyway.

But in 1967 I wrote what I thought was a real good song, and I knew there wasn’t time for it to get around the country. People were being killed every day in Vietnam. I had a recording contract with Columbia Records at that time, and my friends there even agreed to put out a record of it; but the sales department just laughed at us both. The records stayed on the shelves and weren’t even sent to the stores.

But two young comedians had a successful television show, and they asked their bosses if I could be a guest on their show. The Smothers Brothers were turned down by CBS TV at first, but finally they said O.K. I flew out to California and sang some songs that had been sung by American soldiers in four different wars-the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, and lastly this song, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.”
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