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The New Cold War Flops

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Has there ever been a country so vilified as Russia, a leader so demonized as Vladimir Putin? It makes me dizzy just to think of all the crimes that have been laid at that particular doorstep. I could spend the rest of this column simply listing them, from the deaths of numerous Russian journalists to the extinction of Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions – that and so much more! The omnipotent Russian President has apparently poisoned so many Russian expatriates in Britain that the streets are awash in polonium, novichok, and god knows what else.
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Will the Real John Brennan Please Stand Up?

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The battle between many former intelligence chiefs and the White House is becoming a gift that keeps on giving to the mass media, which is characteristically deeply immersed in Trump derangement syndrome in attacking the president for his having stripped former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance. One of the most ludicrous claims, cited in the Washington Post on Sunday, was that the Trump move was intended to “stifle free speech.” While I am quite prepared to believe a lot of things about the serial maladroit moves and explanations coming out of the White House, how one equates removing Brennan’s security clearance to compromising his ability to speak freely escapes me. Indeed, Brennan has been speaking out with his usual vitriol nearly everywhere in the media ever since he lost the clearance, rather suggesting that his loss has given him a platform which has actually served to enhance his ability to speak his mind. He should thank Donald Trump for that.

Indeed, Brennan’s retaining a Top Secret code word clearance had nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with enhancing his market value for those poor sods who actually pay him to mouth off as an “expert” on television and in the newspapers. Are you listening New York Times and NBC? Brennan’s clearance did not mean that he had any real insight into current intelligence on anything, having lost that access when he left his job with the government. It only meant that he could sound authoritative and well informed by relying on his former status, enabling him to con you media folks out of your money on a recurrent basis.

It has sometimes been suggested that free speech is best exercised when it is somehow connected to the brain’s prefrontal lobes, enabling some thought process before the words come out of the mouth. It might be argued that Brennan has been remarkably deficient in that area, which is possibly why he looks so angry in all his photographs. Even John Brennan’s supporters are shy about defending the former CIA Director’s more extravagant claims. James Clapper, the ex-Director of National Intelligence, has described Brennan’s comments as “overheated.”
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War Abroad, War at Home

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Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, speaking at a Ron Paul Institute conference this past weekend, predicted US troops would remain in Afghanistan another 50 years — just as they have in Germany and Korea. He also termed the ongoing US-backed campaign in Yemen the "most brutal war on earth," a war western media overwhelming ignore. 

Colonel Douglas Macgregor at the same conference called Washington DC "the place where good ideas go to die." His years at the Pentagon, coupled with his experience leading US forces into Iraq during the first Gulf War, caused him to question the DC War Party in the most profound ways. Visiting the parents of an America soldier incinerated in a tank during that foray into Iraq, a foray with few US casualties otherwise, caused him to question not only his own missions but also the larger mission of US armed forces.

Both of these men now pose the same question: what is the goal? Why do seemingly endless military conflicts persist, despite lacking any constituency for their prosecution beyond the DC beltway? And why does US military strategy appear incoherent and counterproductive, when viewed through the lens of peace? Why can't we do anything about this, no matter whom we elect and no matter how much war fatigue resides in the American public?
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Afghan War A 'Total Failure' - Should We 'Privatize' It?

We are approaching the 17 year anniversary of the US war on Afghanistan. It is a slow-motion disaster, with our "enemy" the Taliban gaining more ground each year. Spending four trillion dollars and wasting thousands of lives in a war we are losing has led many, including Blackwater founder Erik Prince, to declare the Afghan war a "total loss." Prince has a plan that he claims would "win" the war by using far fewer US troops and spending far less money. But what is "winning"? What is the policy? Why are the Taliban our enemies in the first place? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Have You Committed Your Three Felonies Today?

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Several years ago the Commonwealth of Virginia enacted a law restricting firearms purchases to one per month. This was intended to discourage smuggling of weapons to urban areas outside Virginia with tight gun control laws and (unsurprisingly) high homicide rates. The law didn’t seem to do much good and in a rare outbreak of common sense was later repealed, though there’s recent misguided talk from Attorney General Mark Herring of reviving it.

During its short period in force, the prohibition spawned a popular saying in the Old Dominion: “Buy one gun a month – it’s the law!”

A similar attitude may be appropriate in light of an estimate that due to vague statutes and the proliferation of federal regulations – which have the force of law – we wake up in the morning, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go to sleep  unaware we may have committed several federal crimes in the course of the day. The number varies but the average number of crimes per American seems to be about three.

The more important point is that every one of us is probably guilty of something. “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,” retired Louisiana State University law professor John Baker told the Wall Street Journal in July 2011. “That is not an exaggeration.”
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Protectionism Abroad and Socialism at Home

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One of the most insidious ways politicians expand government is by creating new programs to “solve” problems created by politicians. For example, government interference in health care increased health care costs, making it difficult or even impossible for many to obtain affordable, quality care. The effects of these prior interventions were used to justify Obamacare.
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Infowars Turns Readers Into Nazi Zombies

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According to Reveal and the Center for Investigative Reporting reading Infowars will turn you into a white supremacist. It’s a racist recruiting tool, they insist. 

Case in point: Andrew Anglin, the former hippie vegan who now edits The Daily Stormer. His previous effort was named Total Fascism.

Anglin’s 2015 interview [aired on the Stormfront site] shows that Jones’ brand of conspiracy peddling also helps usher new recruits into the white supremacist movement. Seeing the whole world as a massive conspiracy is a foundational part of the white nationalist mindset.

In other words, if you read Infowars and listen to Alex Jones, you eventually end up a Nazi or worse.

This ridiculous supposition—believed by millions of liberals and anti-Jones activists—is based on the experience of one man who obviously has mental health issues. So much for investigative reporting.

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America the Punitive

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There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.
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