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Senate To Offer President Total War Authority

The US Senate under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is poised to rush to the floor a bill that would give the president total war authority anywhere on the globe, perhaps even including on US soil. All in the name of fighting ISIS, Congress is about to crown the president with unlimited war powers. In today's Liberty Report we discuss the dangers of the incredible shrinking Legislative branch of government...
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Here Come the Free Staters!

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It looks like thousands — maybe tens of thousands — of libertarians will be moving to New Hampshire in the next few years. Via a vote in 2003, the Free State Project selected New Hampshire from among several low-population states as the state to target for a migration of people who share an interest in reducing government violations of liberty. Now, over 19,500 people have agreed to a Free State Project pledge saying that, once 20,000 people have made the pledge, the pledgers intend to move to New Hampshire within five years and “exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of individuals’ rights to life, liberty, and property.” The project is over 97 percent of the way toward 20,000 pledgers, with that threshold expected to be reached soon.

Motivating the Free State Project is the reasoning that a few thousand devoted advocates for liberty can have an outsized influence in a relatively small state. This appears to already be the case with “early movers” who have relocated to New Hampshire before the pledge’s 20,000 threshold has been reached. As the Concord Monitor reported earlier this month, 18 early movers in the New Hampshire House of Representatives means “Free State movers, who represent 0.15 percent of the total population, comprise nearly 5 percent of the House.”
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Congress is Writing the President a Blank Check for War

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While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.

The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.
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Pentagon Chief Says ‘Boots On The Ground’ Part Of ‘Accelerated’ Strategy For ISIS Fight

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US Defense Secretary Ash Carter is a man who knows that actions speak far louder than words.

That’s why when Washington’s feud with China over the latter’s land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea reached a boiling point last year, Carter made a trip to the Pacific and had someone snap this picture of him riding in a helicopter with an aircraft carrier visible in the background.

All jokes aside, Carter is in somewhat of a tough spot. America’s disastrous foreign policy blunders in Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq and Washington’s bungled attempts to deal with an ascendant China, a resurgent Russia, and an Iran which is marking a triumphant return to the world stage, have left the defense chief with a laundry list of problems.

At the top of that list is ISIS.

Thanks to the fact that the group is the most effective force when it comes to destabilizing the Assad regime (an explicit foreign policy goal of the US and its regional allies) and thanks to the fact that the Russian intervention means the day will never come when Islamic State takes Damascus thus green-lighting a US ground invasion to “liberate” Syria, Washington has been forced to choose between either eliminating the group or keeping them around in hopes the Russians simply get bogged down and decide to let Assad fend for himself again.
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Hillary to Bernie: Stop Sounding Like Ron Paul on Iran!

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Many people watching the Democratic presidential debate on Sunday likely considered United States Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) advocacy that the US “move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran" as a welcome call for replacing decades of US hostility and sanctions toward Iran with peace and trade that would benefit people in both countries. Many viewers may also have noticed that Sanders’ stated opinion shares much in common with former Republican and Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul’s long-expressed aspiration that US antagonism toward Iran be replaced with peaceful and prosperous relations.

Paul again expressed his aspiration regarding US-Iran relations in his latest weekly editorial that concludes with the following:

Let’s hope that this new opening with Iran will allow many other productive Americans to grow wealthy through trade and business ties. Let’s hope many new productive jobs will be created on both sides. Peace is prosperous!

The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, however, would have none of Sanders’ normalization talk. Two days after the debate, the former senator from New York and US secretary of state’s campaign released a statement from ten high-level US foreign policy crafters taking Sanders to task for, among other things, desiring a quick warming in relations between the US and Iran.
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Syria's Moment: RPI's Daniel McAdams on Crosstalk

With another round of talks in Geneva on the Syria crisis scheduled to take place in just days, the US and Russia still cannot agree on who should represent the opposition at the negotiating table. The US and Saudis have insisted that the political leader of the Islamist Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) head up the negotiations as the opposition representative. The Russians have objected to any organization that has ties to ISIS and al-Qaeda. Who will blink? What to expect now in Syria, where the facts on the ground have shifted in favor of Damascus after Russia's entry at the request of the Syrian government? RPI Executive Director Daniel McAdams joins RT's news discussion show Crosstalk to share his analysis and predictions...
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Democrats in ‘Group Think’ Land

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A curious reality about Official Washington is that to have “credibility” you must accept the dominant “group thinks” whether they have any truth to them or not, a rule that applies to both the mainstream news media and the political world, even to people who deviate from the pack on other topics.

For instance, Sen. Bernie Sanders may proudly declare himself a “democratic socialist” – far outside the acceptable Washington norm – but he will still echo the typical propaganda about Syria, Russia, Iran and other “designated villains.” Like other progressives who spend years in Washington, he gets what you might called “Senate-ized,” adopting that institution’s conventional wisdom about “enemies” even if he may differ on whether to bomb them or not.

That pattern goes in spades for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other consciously “centrist” politicians as well as media stars, like NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Lester Holt, who were the moderators of Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate. They know what they know based on what “everybody who’s important” says, regardless of the evidence or lack thereof.

So, you had Mitchell and Holt framing questions based on Official Washington’s “group thinks” – and Sanders and Clinton responding accordingly.
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The Injustice Of Mandatory Minimums

Thanks in part to "mandatory minimum" laws starting in the 1980s, the US has the largest prison population -- per capita and total -- of any country on earth. Including China. Is that because Americans are that much worse than others? No, it is due to a completely dysfunctional justice system where, for example, jury members are not allowed to know the potential sentence of a defendant before they decide whether guilty or not guilty. If they were allowed to know, they would likely hesitate before sending someone away for life for smoking a marijuana cigarette. The Senate is expected to take up a mandatory minimum reform bill sometime in the next couple of months, which might be a step in the right direction to correcting the completely broken and unjust US justice system. Tune in to today's Liberty Report for more...
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The Riverine Mysteries

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The events surrounding the interception of ten American sailors in two US riverine boats who somehow wandered into Iranian waters continues to baffle the curious. Not that the American media is to be included among those asking questions: aside from the outraged shrieks of the neoconservative outlets over the alleged “appeasement” of Iran and the so-called “humiliation” of the sailors, no one is asking the most pertinent question of all: how did they get there in the first place?

I raised the most obvious questions here: simultaneously, both Glenn Greenwald and Rachel Maddow made similar observations. Now the mystery grows deeper as the ever-changing Official Story – which is, currently, that a “navigational error” was made – collapses under its own weight. This story line was never all that convincing to begin with – after all, did both boats fall victim to the same “error”? Was this not a routine journey undertaken hundreds of times? Well, there’s always a first time, right? The GPS devices on both boats could have failed at the same time, although the odds are against it.

However, now we learn from the Iranians that the GPS devices on both boats were fully functional:

“[A] statement from Iran’s parliament cited Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officials as saying that the U.S. sailors should have been aware of their location.
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The Right to Tell the Government to Go to Hell: Free Speech in an Age of Government Bullies, Corporate Censors and Compliant Citizens

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Free speech is not for the faint of heart.

Nor is it for those who are easily offended, readily intimidated or who need everything wrapped in a neat and tidy bow. Free speech is often messy, foul-mouthed, obscene, intolerant, undignified, insensitive, cantankerous, bawdy and volatile.

While free speech can also be tender, tolerant, soft-spoken, sensitive and sweet, it is free speech’s hot-blooded alter ego—the wretched, brutal, beastly Mr. Hyde to its restrained, dignified and civil Dr. Jekyll—that tests the limits of our so-called egalitarian commitment to its broad-minded principles.

Unfortunately, our appreciation for a robust freedom of speech has worn thin over the years.

Many Americans have become fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful, closed-minded or any of the other toxic labels that carry a badge of shame today. We’ve come to prize civility over freedom. Most of all, too many Americans, held hostage by their screen devices and the talking heads on television, have lost the ability to think critically.
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