The New Militarism: Who Profits?

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Posted on 13th April 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

undefinedMilitarism and military spending are everywhere on the rise, as the new Cold War propaganda seems to be paying off. The new “threats” that are being hyped bring big profits to military contractors and the network of think tanks they pay to produce pro-war propaganda.

Here are just a few examples:

The German government announced last week that it would purchase 100 more “Leopard” tanks – a 45 percent increase in the country’s inventory. Germany had greatly reduced its inventory of tanks as the end of the Cold War meant the end of any threat of a Soviet ground invasion of Europe. The German government now claims these 100 new tanks, which may cost nearly half a billion dollars, are necessary to respond to the new Russian assertiveness in the region. Never mind that Russia has neither invaded nor threatened any country in the region, much less a NATO member country.

The US Cold War-era nuclear bunker under Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, which was all but shut down in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is being brought back to life. The Pentagon has committed nearly a billion dollars to upgrading the facility to its previous Cold War-level of operations. US defense contractor Raytheon will be the prime beneficiary of this contract. Raytheon is a major financial sponsor of think tanks like the Institute for the Study of War, which continuously churn out pro-war propaganda. I am sure these big contracts are a good return on that investment.

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REPEAL 1913

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Posted on 6th April 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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The IRS and Congress Both Hold Our Liberty in Contempt

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This week the Justice Department announced it would not charge former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner with contempt of Congress. Some members of Congress requested that Lerner be charged with contempt after she refused to testify at a congressional hearing investigating her role in denying or delaying the applications for tax-exempt status of “tea party” and pro-limited government organizations.

Cynics might suggest it is not surprising that a former government official would avoid prosecution for refusing to tell Congress about how federal employees abused their power to help the incumbent administration. These cynics have a point, but the problem goes beyond mere partisanship. Government officials are rarely prosecuted for even the most blatant violations of our liberties. In contrast, federal prosecutors routinely pursue criminal charges against whistleblowers. For example, the only American prosecuted and imprisoned in relation to the government’s use of torture was whistleblower John Kiriakou!

While some officials like Lois Lerner who find themselves at the center of a high-profile scandal or partisan dispute can expect harsh treatment from Congress, this is the expectation, not the rule. Executive branch officials usually receive deferential treatment from members of Congress. I recall one hearing on government surveillance where a representative actually apologized to a government official because Congress had the gall to ask that official to testify about the government’s ongoing surveillance of the American people.

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Repeal, Don’t Reform the IMF!

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Posted on 29th March 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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undefinedA responsible financial institution would not extend a new loan of between 17 and 40 billion dollars to a borrower already struggling to pay back an existing multi-billion dollar loan. Yet that is just what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did last month when it extended a new loan to the government of Ukraine. This new loan may not make much economic sense, but propping up the existing Ukrainian government serves the foreign policy agenda of the US government.

Since the IMF receives most of its funding from the United States, it is hardly surprising that it would tailor its actions to advance the US government’s foreign policy goals. The IMF also has a history of using the funds provided to it by the American taxpayer to prop up dictatorial regimes and support unsound economic policies.

Some may claim the IMF does promote free markets by requiring that countries receiving IMF loans implement some positive economic reforms, such as reducing government spending. However, other conditions imposed by the IMF, such as that the country receiving the loan deflate its currency and implement an industrial policy promoting exports, do not seem designed to promote a true free market, much less improve the people’s living standards by giving them greater economic opportunities.

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Why Do American Weapons End Up in Our Enemies’ Hands?

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Posted on 21st March 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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undefinedIt happens so often you wonder whether it is due to total ineptness or a deliberate policy to undermine our efforts overseas. It’s most likely a result of corruption and unintended consequences, combined with a foreign policy that makes it impossible to determine who are our friends are and who are our enemies. One would think that so many failures in arming others to do our bidding in our effort to control an empire would awaken our leaders and the American people and prompt policy changes.

A recent headline in Mother Jones read: “US Weapons Have A Nasty Habit of Going AWOL.” The report was about $500 million worth of military equipment that is unaccounted for in Yemen. Just as in so many other places, our policy of provoking civil strife in Yemen has been a complete failure. At one time it was announced that there was a great victory in a war being won with drones assisting groups that claimed to be on our side in the Yemen Civil War. As usual, we could have expected that these weapons would end up in the hands of the militants not on the side of United States and would never be accounted for.

There are numerous examples of how our foreign intervention backfires and actually helps the enemy. Just recently a headline announced: “CIA cash sometimes refills al-Qaeda coffers.”  This was a story of our government helping pay ransom to al-Qaeda for the release an Afghan diplomat. However this was a measly $5 million so it was not considered a big deal. Another headline just recently announced that, “Iraqi army downs two UK planes carrying weapons for ISIL.” The Iraqi army is supposed to be on our side, and many people believe the UK is also on our side as well. One thing for sure the American taxpayer pays for all this nonsense.

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Iran Fighting ISIS – Is it Really a Problem?

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Posted on 16th March 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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As Iran continues to take an active role in helping Iraq fight ISIS, many US neocons are upset that the US military is not over there on the ground doing the fighting. They want Americans believe that only another US invasion of Iraq – and of Syria as well – can defeat ISIS. But what is wrong with the countries of the region getting together and deciding to cooperate on a common problem?

While the entry of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias into ISIS-occupied areas may not be ideal – there is bound to be revenge killings and sectarian fighting – it is far more likely that the ISIS problem will be solved by the countries in the region than by US bombs and ground troops. Our bombs will continue to make the problem worse because it was our bombs that helped create the problem in the first place. What the neocons who lied us into the Iraq war don’t like to admit is that there was no ISIS problem and no al-Qaeda problem in Iraq and Syria before we invaded Iraq.

ISIS is an idea, not a country or an army, which is why the US declaring war on ISIS makes no sense. It is clear that if we really want to defeat ISIS, the last thing we should be doing is bombing and sending troops back to Iraq and into Syria. Our bombs and involvement in the region only serve to recruit more fighters into ISIS. To make matters worse, many of these radicalized fighters come from Europe and even the US. What happens when they go home?

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A Green Light for the American Empire

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Posted on 15th March 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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The American Empire has been long in the making. A green light was given in 1990 to finalize that goal. Dramatic events occurred that year that allowed the promoters of the American Empire to cheer. It also ushered in the current 25-year war to solidify the power necessary to manage a world empire. Most people in the world now recognize this fact and assume that the empire is here to stay for a long time. That remains to be seen.Empires come and go. Some pop up quickly and disappear in the same manner. Others take many years to develop and sometimes many years to totally disintegrate. The old empires, like the Greek, Roman, Spanish and many others took many years to build and many years to disappear. The Soviet Empire was one that came rather quickly and dissipated swiftly after a relatively short period of time. The communist ideology took many decades to foment the agitation necessary for the people to tolerate that system.

Since 1990 the United States has had to fight many battles to convince the world that it was the only military and economic force to contend with. Most people are now convinced and are easily intimidated by our domination worldwide with the use of military force and economic sanctions on which we generously rely. Though on the short term this seems to many, and especially for the neoconservatives, that our power cannot be challenged. What is so often forgotten is that while most countries will yield to our threats and intimidation, along the way many enemies were created.

The seeds of the American Empire were sown early in our history. Natural resources, river transportation, and geographic location all lent itself to the development of an empire. An attitude of “Manifest Destiny” was something most Americans had no trouble accepting. Although in our early history there were those who believed in a powerful central government, with central banking and foreign intervention, these views were nothing like they are today as a consequence of many years of formalizing the power and determination necessary for us to be the policeman of the world and justify violence as a means for spreading a particular message. Many now endorse the idea that using force to spread American exceptionalism is moral and a force for good. Unfortunately history has shown that even using humanitarian rhetoric as a justification for telling others what to do has never worked.

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Don’t Be Fooled by the Federal Reserve’s Anti-Audit Propaganda

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Posted on 9th March 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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In recent weeks, the Federal Reserve and its apologists in Congress and the media have launched numerous attacks on the Audit the Fed legislation. These attacks amount to nothing more than distortions about the effects and intent of the audit bill.

Fed apologists continue to claim that the Audit the Fed bill will somehow limit the Federal Reserve’s independence. Yet neither Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen nor any other opponent of the audit bill has ever been able to identify any provision of the bill giving Congress power to dictate monetary policy. The only way this argument makes sense is if the simple act of increasing transparency somehow infringes on the Fed’s independence.

This argument is also flawed since the Federal Reserve has never been independent from political pressure. As economists Daniel Smith and Peter Boettke put it in their paper “An Episodic History of Modern Fed Independence,” the Federal Reserve “regularly accommodates debt, succumbs to political pressures, and follows bureaucratic tendencies, compromising the Fed’s operational independence.”

The most infamous example of a Federal Reserve chair bowing to political pressure is the way Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns tailored monetary policy to accommodate President Richard Nixon’s demands for low interest rates. Nixon and Burns were even recorded mocking the idea of Federal Reserve independence.

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Is the Media Trying to “Disappear” Rand Paul As Was Done to His Father?

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Posted on 2nd March 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Rand won the CPAC poll for the 3rd year in a row. On yesterday’s talking head entertainment bubblevision shows ABC and Fox laughed at the result and immediately started talking about Scott Walker’s distant 2nd place finish and their chosen frontrunner Jeb Bush’s horrific fifth place finish. Fat boy Christie barely registered. The existing social order fears Rand Paul. He would upset their applecart. If he gains too much momentum, they will kill him.

Guest Post by Michael Krieger 

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran a cover photo of the Republican hopefuls set to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland. The caption at the bottom of the picture read: At a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, an attendee holds photos of possible presidential candidates.

This is what the photo looked like:

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Notice anything bizarre about this photograph? Let’s see. There’s Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Rick Perry. Basically every insane hack and oligarch puppet imaginable is prominently featured. Yet, the man who would go on to win the CPAC straw poll, Rand Paul, isn’t anywhere to be seen.

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Department of Homeland Security: What is it Good For?

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Posted on 1st March 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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undefinedLate Friday night, Congress passed legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security for one week. This vote followed weeks of debate over efforts to attach a prohibition on funding President Obama’s executive order granting amnesty to certain illegal immigrants to the Homeland Security funding bill.Despite the heated rhetoric from both sides, no one seriously believes that Congress will allow Homeland Security funding to lapse. Most in Congress believe that, without the Department of Homeland Security, Americans would be left unprotected from terrorists and natural disasters. As with most areas of bipartisan agreement, the truth is the exact opposite of the DC consensus. The American people would be much better off if Congress transferred the few constitutional functions performed by Homeland Security to other parts of the government and then shut down the rest of the department.

Many Americans associate Homeland Security with the color–coded terrorist warning system and the “if you see something, say something” public relations campaign. These programs were designed to inspire public confidence in the department, but instead they inspired public ridicule.

Ironically, the best case for shutting down this department is its most well-known component — the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). More terrorist attacks have been thwarted by airline passengers than by the TSA! The TSA may be ineffective at stopping terrorists, but it is very effective at harassing innocent Americans like Lucy Forck. Three-year-old Lucy, who uses a wheelchair, not only had to endure an intrusive screening from TSA agents, but the agents also took away her beloved stuffed animal.

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Janet Yellen Is Freaking Out About “Audit The Fed” – Here Are 100 Reasons Why She Should Be

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Posted on 26th February 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Submitted by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created.  If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed?  What does she have to hide?

During testimony before Congress on Tuesday, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail.  Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people.  Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim?

But of course the Federal Reserve is not a government agency.  It is a private banking cartel that has far more power over our money and our economy than anyone else does.  And later on in this article I am going to share with you dozens of reasons why Congress should shut it down.

The immense power wielded by the Federal Reserve is clearly demonstrated whenever Janet Yellen speaks publicly.  On Tuesday, her comments about interest rates sent stocks to brand new record highs

Yellen, in her semi-annual testimony before the Senate banking committee, used a word familiar to investors when she reiterated that the central bank will be “patient” on raising interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. Traders took that as a sign that interest rates would remain unchanged until autumn.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 92.35 points (0.5%) to 18,209.19, while the Standard & Poors 500 gained 5.82 points (0.3%) to 2,115.48, both eclipsing Friday’s record closes.

But Yellen was also unusually defensive on Tuesday.  The “Audit the Fed” bill that is being sponsored by Rand Paul (among others) has her really freaked out.  The following comes from the Hill

Appearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Yellen was on the defensive, as Republicans questioned how the Fed conducts monetary policy and Democrats put forward ideas for getting tougher on Wall Street.

 

In the midst of all of it, Yellen generally argued the Fed was designed as an independent entity for a reason — and it would be best not to change it.

 

“Central bank independence in conducting monetary policy is considered a best practice for central banks around the world,” she said. “Academic studies, I think, establish beyond the shadow of a doubt that independent central banks perform better.”

In fact, she went so far as to mention the “Audit the Fed” bill by name

A GOP-controlled Congress has given the bill its best chances yet of passage, and that renewed interest led Yellen to deliver her most spirited opposition yet.

“I want to be completely clear,” she said. “I strongly oppose Audit the Fed.”

 

Yellen argued the audit measure would allow politicians to second-guess the Fed’s decisions, which, in turn, would weaken the central bank. And the ultimate victim of that process, she said, would be the U.S. economy.

So what is she so concerned about?

We are all accountable to someone.

What is so wrong about the Federal Reserve being accountable to Congress?

Why can’t we find out what is really going on inside the Fed?

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Interventionism Kills: Post-Coup Ukraine One Year Later

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Posted on 23rd February 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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undefinedIt was one year ago last weekend that a violent coup overthrew the legally elected government of Ukraine. That coup was not only supported by US and EU governments — much of it was actually planned by them. Looking back at the events that led to the overthrow it is clear that without foreign intervention Ukraine would not be in its current, seemingly hopeless situation.By the end of 2013, Ukraine’s economy was in ruins. The government was desperate for an economic bailout and then-president Yanukovych first looked west to the US and EU before deciding to accept an offer of help from Russia. Residents of south and east Ukraine, who largely speak Russian and trade extensively with Russia were pleased with the decision. West Ukrainians who identify with Poland and Europe began to protest. Ukraine is a deeply divided country and the president came from the eastern region.At this point the conflict was just another chapter in Ukraine’s difficult post-Soviet history. There was bound to be some discontent over the decision, but if there had been no foreign intervention in support of the protests you would likely not be reading this column today. The problem may well have solved itself in due time rather than escalated into a full-out civil war. But the interventionists in the US and EU won out again, and their interventionist project has been a disaster.

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Ukraine Coup One Year On and Does Obama Hate America?

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Posted on 22nd February 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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