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Pro-War Media Deserve Criticism, Not Sainthood

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The media nowadays are busy congratulating themselves for their vigorous criticism of Donald Trump. To exploit that surge of sanctimony, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg rushed out The Post, a movie depicting an epic press battle with the Nixon administration. Critics raved over the film, which the New York Post enthusiastically labeled “journalism porn of the highest order.” Boston Public Radio station WBUR called it the “most fun you’ll ever have at a civics lesson.”Spielberg, touting his movie, claimed that “the free press is a crusader for truth,” But the media hoopla around The Post is akin to geezers boasting of having shown moments of courage when they were almost 50 years younger.

The Post is built around the Pentagon Papers, a secret study begun in 1967 analyzing where the Vietnam War had gone awry. The 7000-page tome showed that presidents and military leaders had been profoundly deceiving the American people ever since the Truman administration and that the same mistakes were being endlessly repeated. Like many policy autopsies, the report was classified as secret and completely ignored by the White House and federal agencies, which most needed to heed its lessons. New York Times editor Tom Wicker commented in 1971 that “the people who read these documents in the Times were the first to study them.”

Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official, heroically risked life in prison to smuggle the report to the media after members of Congress were too cowardly to touch it. The New York Times shattered the political sound barrier when it began courageously publishing the report despite a profusion of threats from the Nixon administration Justice Department. After a federal court slapped the Times with an injunction, the Washington Post and other newspapers published additional classified excerpts from the report.
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Border 'Crisis' - Is It All About The Children...Or Hatred Of Trump?

Demagogues on both sides are using the border "crisis" to score political points, both for and against President Trump. The real issues -- the cause of the problem rather than the symptoms -- are rarely debated on the mainstream media and in the halls of Congress. Drug war? Interventionist foreign policy? Welfare state? Government's undermining of the family? Tune in to the Liberty Report for a different perspective...
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Julian Assange and the Mindszenty Case

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During World War II Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty was a huge critic of fascism and wound up in prison. In Oct. 1945 he became head of the Church in Hungary and spoke out just as strongly against Communist oppression. He wound up back in prison for eight more years, including long periods of solitary confinement and endured other forms of torture. In 1949 he was sentenced to life in a show trial that generated worldwide condemnation.
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The Final Frontier? Trump's Pricey Plan For A New Space Force

President Trump surprised his audience at the National Space Council yesterday when he announced that he would create a new "Space Force" to be "separate but equal" to the US Air Force. Congress must act to create a new branch of military service, but will the power of the military lobbyists win the day? Is "dominating" space really a matter of critical national security, as Trump claimed, or is this another costly boondoggle? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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The Texas Republican Party Now Supports Rolling Back Marijuana Prohibition. What’s Next?

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Over the weekend, delegates at the Texas Republican Party’s statewide convention voted by wide margins in favor of several roll-backs of marijuana prohibition. With over 80 percent support, the delegates approved three state party platform planks calling, respectively, for decriminalizing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, moving marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 of the United States government’s Controlled Substances Act, and urging the Texas legislature to “pass legislation allowing cultivation, manufacture, and sale of industrial hemp and hemp products.” A fourth plank, calling for some expansion of the state’s rather limited low-THC cannabis oil medical program, received over 90 percent support.

So what is up next for the state’s marijuana laws? Will the state government adopt the delegates’ proposals? Might legal marijuana even be coming soon to the Lone Star State?

This action by the Texas Republican Party state convention delegates is an indication of how far the movement toward ending the war on marijuana has come in America. Republican politicians, in contrast with the younger segments of Republican voters, tend to oppose rolling back marijuana prohibition. And Texas, where no Democrat has been elected to any of 29 statewide elective offices since 1994, has been reluctant to join the trend of states enacting recreational or medical marijuana legalization.
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Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up?

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I had coffee with a foreign friend a week ago. The subject of Donald Trump inevitably came up and my friend said that he was torn between describing Trump as a genius or as an idiot, but was inclined to lean towards genius. He explained that Trump was willy-nilly establishing a new world order that will succeed the institutionally exhausted post-World War 2 financial and political arrangements that more-or-less established US hegemony over the “free world.” The Bretton Woods agreement and the founding of the United Nations institutionalized the spread of liberal democracy and free trade, creating a new, post war international order under the firm control of the United States with the American dollar as the benchmark currency. Trump is now rejecting what has become an increasingly dominant global world order in favor of returning to a nineteenth century style nationalism that has become popular as countries struggle to retain their cultural and political identifies. Trump’s vision would seem to include protection of core industries, existing demographics and cultural institutions combined with an end of “democratization,” which will result in an acceptance of foreign autocratic or non-conforming regimes as long as they do not pose military or economic threats.

Sounds good, I countered but there is a space between genius and idiocy and that would be called insanity, best illustrated by impulsive, irrational behavior coupled with acute hypersensitivity over perceived personal insults and a demonstrated inability to comprehend either generally accepted facts or basic norms of personal and group behavior.

Inevitably, I have other friends who follow foreign policy closely that have various interpretations of the Trump phenomenon. One sees the respectful meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea as a bit of brilliant statesmanship, potentially breaking a sixty-five year logjam and possibly opening the door to further discussions that might well avert a nuclear war. And the week also brought a Trump welcome suggestion that Russia should be asked to rejoin the G-7 group of major industrialized democracies, which also has to be seen as a positive step. There has also been talk of a Russia-US summit similar to that with North Korea to iron out differences, an initiative that was first suggested by Trump and then agreed to by Russian President Vladimir Putin. There will inevitably be powerful resistance to such an arrangement coming primarily from the US media and from Congress, but Donald Trump seems to fancy the prospect and it just might take place.
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Did Washington Just Bomb Syrian Government Troops?

The State Department has warned the Syrian government not to liberate territory in the southwest of the country from the hold of ISIS and al-Qaeda, but the Syrian government has persisted in building up troops for a liberation. This morning, a mysterious attack on Syrian troops has killed some 52 persons. The Syrians are blaming Washington for the attack? The Pentagon has denied it. Who to believe? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Government Eyes Are Watching You: We Are All Prisoners of the Surveillance State

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First broadcast in America 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village. The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.
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Why Can't We Sue the TSA For Assault?

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When I was in Congress and had to regularly fly between DC and Texas, I was routinely subjected to invasive “pat-downs” (physical assaults) by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). One time, exasperated with the constant insults to my privacy and dignity, I asked a TSA agent if he was proud to assault innocent Americans for a living. I thought of this incident after learning that the TSA has been compiling a “troublesome passengers” list.
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Inspector General's Report on FBI and Clinton's Emails Shows Secrecy Threatens Democracy

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The inspector general report on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton contained plenty of bombshells, including a promise by lead FBI investigator Peter Strzok that “we’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president. The report reveals how unjustified secrecy and squirrelly decisions helped ravage the credibility of both Clinton’s presidential campaign and the FBI. But few commentators are recognizing the vast peril to democracy posed by the sweeping prerogatives of federal agencies.

The FBI’s investigation of Clinton was spurred by her decision to set up a private server to handle her email during her four years as secretary of State. The server in her mansion in Chappaqua, N.Y., was insecure and exposed emails with classified information to detection by foreign sources and others.

Clinton effectively exempted herself from the federal Freedom of Information Act. The State Department ignored 17 FOIA requests for her emails before 2014 and insisted it required 75 years to disclose emails of Clinton's top aides.

A federal judge and the State Department inspector general slammed the FOIA stonewalling.

Clinton’s private email server was not publicly disclosed until she received a congressional subpoena in 2015. A few months later, the FBI Counterintelligence Division opened a criminal investigation of the “potential unauthorized storage of classified information on an unauthorized system.”
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