Category Archives: Government

Will the Trump Administration Overdose on Authoritarianism? by Ron Paul

The Trump administration has come up with a strategy in the losing War on Drugs: lose harder! From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors in drug cases to seek the maximum penalty authorized by federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Sessions’ order represents a setback to the progress made toward restoring compassion and common sense to the sentencing process over the past few years. Sessions’ action also guarantees that many nonviolent drug law offenders will continue spending more time in prison than murderers.

Sessions’ support for mandatory minimums is no surprise, as he has a history of fanatical devotion to the drug war. Sessions’ pro-drug war stance is at odds with the reality of the drug war’s failure. Over forty years after President Nixon declared war on drugs, the government cannot even keep drugs out of prisons!

As was the case with alcohol prohibition, the drug war has empowered criminal gangs and even terrorists to take advantage of the opportunity presented by prohibition to profit by meeting the continued demand for drugs. Drug prohibition enables these criminal enterprises to make profits far above the potential profits if drugs where legalized. Ironically, the so-called “law-and-order” politicians who support the drug war are helping enrich the very criminals they claim to oppose!

The war on drugs also makes street drugs more lethal by incentivizing the creation of more potent and, thus, more dangerous drugs. Of course, even as Sessions himself admits, the war on drugs also leads to increased violence, as drug dealers cannot go to the courts to settle disputes among themselves or with their customers.

Before 9/11, the war on drugs was the go-to excuse used to justify new infringements on liberty. For example, laws limiting our ability to withdraw, or even carry, large sums of cash and laws authorizing civil asset forfeiture were justified by the need to crack down on drug dealers and users. The war on drugs is also the root cause of the criminal justice system’s disparate treatment of minorities and the militarization of local police.

The war on drugs is a war on the Constitution as well. The Constitution does not give the federal government authority to regulate, much less ban, drugs. People who doubt this should ask themselves why it was necessary to amend the Constitution to allow the federal government to criminalize drinking alcohol but not necessary to amend the Constitution to criminalize drug use.

To continue reading: Will the Trump Administration Overdose on Authoritarianism?

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TINA’s Legacy: Free Money, Bread and Circuses and Collapse, by Charles Hugh Smith

We borrow, therefore we are seems to be the motto of modern governments. But sooner or later, the credit line gets revoked. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

TINA’s legacy is revealed in this chart of the Venezuelan Bolivar, which has plummeted from 10 to the US dollar to 5,800 to the USD in a few years of rampant money-emission.
Every conventional “solution” to the systemic ills of our economy and society boils down to some version of free money: Universal Basic Income (UBI) schemes– free money for everyone, funded by borrowing from future taxpayers (robots, people, Martians, any fantasy will do); debt jubilees funded by central banks creating trillions out of thin air, a.k.a. free money, and so on.
Free money is compelling because, well, it’s free, and it solves all the problems created by burdensome debt and declining incomes for the bottom 95%. Just give every household $100,000 of free money that must be devoted to reducing interest, then give every household $20,000 annually for being among the living, and hey, a lot of problems go away.
But is creating money out of thin air really truly free? There are two appealing answers: yes and yes. If the Treasury literally prints money, it’s almost “free,” and if the Federal Reserve creates money and buys bonds paying near-zero yields, the money that is borrowed into existence is almost free because the interest due is so minimal.
The problem, of course, is that creating free money is not quite the same as creating new wealth. New wealth is a new gas/oil field that comes online, new cropland that produces a new source of food, new goods and services, etc.
In effect, every dollar of free money reduces the purchasing power of all existing units of currency unless the expansion of output (additional goods and services) matches or exceeds the added dollar.
This line of thinking is driven by two realities: governments have issued many promises to their citizens, employees, corporations, etc. These include pensions, medical care, backstops against losses, tax breaks, subsidies, and on and on in an endless profusion.

 

US Journalism’s New ‘Golden Age’? by Robert Parry

The mainstream media sees itself as entitled to take sides in political disputes, rather than just report on them. From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: The Washington Post and other big media are hailing a new journalistic “golden age” as they punish President Trump for disparaging them, but is this media bias a sign of good journalism or itself a scandal, asks Robert Parry.

The mainstream U.S. media is congratulating itself on its courageous defiance of President Trump and its hard-hitting condemnations of Russia, but the press seems to have forgotten that its proper role within the U.S. democratic structure is not to slant stories one way or another but to provide objective information for the American people.

By that standard – of respecting that the people are the nation’s true sovereigns – the mainstream media is failing again. Indeed, the chasm between what America’s elites are thinking these days and what many working-class Americans are feeling is underscored by the high-fiving that’s going on inside the elite mainstream news media, which is celebrating its Trump- and Russia-bashing as the “new golden age of American journalism.”

The New York Times and The Washington Post, in particular, view themselves as embattled victims of a tyrannical abuser. The Times presents itself as the brave guardian of “truth” and the Post added a new slogan: “Democracy dies in darkness.” In doing so, they have moved beyond the normal constraints of professional, objective journalism into political advocacy – and they are deeply proud of themselves.

In a Sunday column entitled “How Trump inspired a golden age,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that Trump “took on the institution of a free press – and it fought back. Trump came to office after intimidating publishers, barring journalists from covering him and threatening to rewrite press laws, and he has sought to discredit the ‘fake news’ media at every chance. Instead, he wound up inspiring a new golden age in American journalism.

“Trump provoked the extraordinary work of reporters on the intelligence, justice and national security beats, who blew wide open the Russia election scandal, the contacts between Russia and top Trump officials, and interference by Trump in the FBI investigation. Last week’s appointment of a special prosecutor – a crucial check on a president who lacks self-restraint – is a direct result of their work.”

To continue reading: US Journalism’s New ‘Golden Age’?

Israel Lobby Pays the Political Piper, by Jonathan Marshall

There are two open secrets about Israel that both journalists and people in government are reticent to talk about. Israel has a substantial nuclear arsenal, and it has a highly effective lobby in Washinton. Fealty to Israel has become almost a requirement for Republican politicians, but the Democrats have their share of kowtowers, too. From Jonathan Marshall at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: The Israel Lobby is so powerful that for years it insisted it didn’t exist – and Official Washington went along with the lie. Today, President Trump scrambles to secure the lobby’s blessings, Jonathan Marshall observes.

In this age of rancorous hyper-partisanship, getting members of Congress to agree on anything beyond the naming of a post office is a challenge. Yet in late April, all 100 members of the U.S. Senate signed a tough letter to the U.N. Secretary General, demanding that the organization end its “unwarranted attacks” on Israel’s human rights record.

Three months earlier, members of the House voted overwhelmingly to condemn a U.N. Security Council resolution critical of Israel’s relentless expansion of settlements on occupied lands. Like dozens of other Democrats, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland blasted President Obama for abstaining from the U.N. vote, saying it “sent the wrong signal to our ally Israel.” In the Senate, leading progressives like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders offered no support for President Obama, either.

Their votes and rhetoric did not simply reflect public opinion. Although Americans sympathize with Israel far more than the Palestinians, two-thirds of adults surveyed in in 2015 said the United States should not take sides in the Middle East conflict. Fewer than half say they consider Israel an ally.

Those congressional actions instead illustrated the power of the pro-Israel Lobby, a highly organized and well-funded coalition that works to give Israeli leaders freedom to operate with unquestioned U.S. diplomatic, economic and military support. Its influence helps account for the quarter trillion dollars in aid (adjusted for inflation) that the United States has given Israel since 1948.

When it comes to influencing American politics, Russia runs far behind highly motivated supporters of Israel. President Obama experienced that first hand when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, representing a state of just 8.6 million people, received rousing, bipartisan acclaim in no fewer than three addresses before Congress and nearly blocked approval of the Iran nuclear deal, perhaps the signature foreign policy initiative of Obama’s administration.

To continue reading: Israel Lobby Pays the Political Piper

 

America’s Civil War II, by Finian Cunningham

The Deep State and the other powers that be refuse to accept the results of the last election, and in a number of hamhanded ways are tryint to overturn it. From Finian Cunningham at lewrockwell.com:

Civil wars are perhaps the most tragic and bitter, when a country goes to war on itself – and it’s brother against brother, homesteads destroyed by other compatriots.

Today, the United States of America seems to be at war with itself again. Not yet an all-out bloodletting as in the Civil War of 1861-65, but nevertheless the nation seems to be plunging into an internecine process of shredding itself, pulling down the very edifice of the state.

There’s even reports of married couples splitting in divorce because of the growing political divisions.

The governing business of running the country is held hostage by incessant political scrapping; the institutions of governance appear in meltdown from eroding authority.

This time around, it’s not northern states versus the south, or over industrialists wanting to usurp landowners, or moral questions of race and slavery. The current war is due to powerful factions within the political class not willing to accept the election of Donald Trump.

Trump was not supposed to win the presidential election in November 2016, as far as ruling class elements were concerned. His Democrat rival Hillary Clinton was the favored candidate owing to her deep connections to the foreign policy establishment and corporate news media.

Trump’s avowed stance to normalize relations with Russia was the number-one bugbear for the US establishment which preferred Clinton’s more hawkish outlook as part of extending its global hegemonic ambitions.

As always, the American ruling class is variegated. No doubt there are powerful Wall Street and corporate factions among American capital that are indifferent about the actual election result, or perhaps even rather pleased by it. Trump, so far, seems to be rather disposed to pandering to corporate America with generous tax-breaks for the wealthy, so there is no problem there for many among the American ruling class.

To continue reading: America’s Civil War II

 

The Gaping Holes of Russia-gate, by William Binney and Ray McGovern

Two ex-intelligence officials shred the Russiagate allegations. From William Binney and Ray McGovern at consortiumnews.com:

Between Russia-gate and President Trump’s potential impeachment, Washington is blending the thrill of McCarthyism and the excitement of Watergate, as ex-U.S. intelligence officials Ray McGovern and William Binney explain.

Official Washington got to relive the excitement of Watergate in a “gotcha” moment after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. There were fond recollections of how righteous the major newspapers felt when condemning President Nixon over his “Saturday Night Massacre” firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

But the overriding question from “this Russia thing, with Trump and Russia” — as President Trump calls it — is whether there is any there there. The President labeled it a “made-up story” and, by all appearances from what is known at this time, he is mostly correct.

A few days before Comey’s firing, the FBI Director reportedly had asked for still more resources to hunt the Russian bear for supposedly “interfering” with last year’s election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump. And so the firing allowed the Watergate-recalling news outlets to trot out the old trope that “the cover-up is worse than the crime.”

But can that argument bear close scrutiny, or is it the “phony narrative” that Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas claims it to be? Cornyn quipped that, if impeding the investigation was Trump’s aim, “This strikes me as a lousy way to do it. All it does is heighten the attention given to the issue.”

Truth is, President Trump had ample reason to be fed up with Comey, in part for his lack of enthusiasm toward investigating actual, provable crimes related to “Russia-gate” — like the flood of sensitive national security leaks, such as the highly sensitive intercepted communications used to precipitate the demise of Trump aide Michael Flynn.

The retired Army lieutenant general was “caught” talking with Russia’s ambassador last December, a normal undertaking for a person designated as the incoming National Security Adviser. But Obama administration holdovers twisted that into a supposed violation of the archaic 1799 Logan Act and then used a transcript of the phone call to trip up Flynn because he didn’t have perfect recollection of the conversation.

So, a trumped-up federal case was used to help get Flynn fired, but an apparent criminal act – the Flynn leak among many other leaks – was apparently ignored. We suspect that one reason for Comey’s disinterest was that he already knows who was responsible.

To continue reading: The Gaping Holes of Russia-gate

10 More Crazy Conspiracy Theories That Became Conspiracy Facts, by Jake Anderson

The legal definition of a conspiracy is an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime. By that definition, conspiracies within the US government have probably been rife. Here are ten verified conspiracies to throw at anyone who sneeringly dismisses “conspiracy theories,” from Jake Anderson at theantimedia.org:

(ANTIMEDIA) Generally speaking, conspiracy theories form where there is a vacuum of verifiable facts associated with a controversial, usually tragic event. The concept has evolved over the years and is a part of our popular culture. There are legions of conspiracy theorists and “truthers” who have devoted their lives to certain theories, and there are legions of skeptics who have devoted their lives to debunking those theories. All the while, conspiracy theories of every stripe and variety festoon the footnotes of history. Even the origin of the phrase itself is subject to conspiracy theory, as some researchers have argued that the CIA invented and promulgated the term in order to marginalize fringe thinkers and neutralize investigations.

The internet has obviously had a profound effect on conspiracy theories, simultaneously helping and hurting the cause. While a world of information is at people’s fingertips, so too are alternate worlds of manufactured propaganda. While the Internet may appear to be a democratized, unfiltered path toward facts and truth, it is easily manipulated. Powerful corporations pay a lot of money to have their dirty laundry buried in the search results underneath contrived puff pieces.

With nearly the entire mainstream media apparatus at their disposal, the government is a maestro at this practice. As we learned from so-called Operation Mockingbird — a conspiracy theory fact discussed in my first post on the subject, “Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out to Be True,” — hundreds, if not thousands of news organizations have been conscripted into working with the CIA to support pro-government narratives. That was in the 1960s. One can only imagine how vast the network is now. Not to mention the fact that a single proprietary algorithm owned by Google dictates the vast majority of the population’s exposure to a subject.

To continue reading: 10 More Crazy Conspiracy Theories That Became Conspiracy Facts