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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Why Businessmen Make Such Unimpressive Politicians | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 6, 2021

But it does not matter whether or not he was a competent businessman, because the minute he took his oath of office, he became part of a bureaucracy and any expectations of fiscal or monetary responsibility were immediately lost. This is because it is impossible to run a government “like a business.” There’s no economic calculation and no way of measuring profit.

https://mises.org/wire/why-businessmen-make-such-unimpressive-politicians

Connor Mortell

In 2016, we watched time and time again as polls stated that people liked Donald Trump because he is a businessman and came from outside the world of politics. Dozens of factors led to his election but there is no doubt that among voters this mindset of the potential for a savvy businessman in charge was at play. However, looking at it in hindsight, can we really say that a savvy businessman was ever in charge? Perhaps the most successful libertarian there has ever been, the great Dr. Ron Paul, wrote explaining that when it comes to spending the argument was always “Trump vs. Trump.” He’d speak seeking to cut taxes and then would ask for raises on spending and print money to close the gap. Dr. Paul goes as far as to say, “Following the President’s constantly changing policies can make you dizzy.” So why is it that this businessman would come into office and then act in direct opposition to the business-oriented nature he claimed he’d demonstrate? The easy answer would be that it turned out that he was never really a good businessman to begin with. There may or may not be merit to this argument. But it does not matter whether or not he was a competent businessman, because the minute he took his oath of office, he became part of a bureaucracy and any expectations of fiscal or monetary responsibility were immediately lost. This is because it is impossible to run a government “like a business.” There’s no economic calculation and no way of measuring profit.

What makes an entrepreneur so successful is his ability to allocate scarce resources to their most profitable ends. This is achieved through economic calculation. Under normal market conditions, prices allow a bright entrepreneur to take the necessary risks to direct resources where he understands they would be most profitable. Some are unsuccessful in their attempts but the ones that do this correctly are the people we as a society end up deeming as savvy businessmen and businesswomen.

The difference between such an individual and a bureaucrat is described by Ludwig von Mises in his book Bureaucracy: a bureaucrat is one who manages “affairs which cannot be checked by economic calculation.” A government official finds him-/herself in a completely different environment where prices do not adequately reflect market conditions, and as a result, even one who would’ve been the most successful of entrepreneurs is now stripped of his most useful tool and can no longer calculate successfully. This is one of the most pressing reasons that governments time and time again make such atrocious decisions. It is also why the minute a businessman/-woman takes an oath of office, he/she is no longer a bright entrepreneur but is immediately dropped to the level of bureaucrat. This is explained best by Mises, later in Bureaucracy:

It is vain to advocate a bureaucratic reform through the appointment of businessmen as heads of various departments. The quality of being an entrepreneur is not inherent in the personality of the entrepreneur; it is inherent in the position which he occupies in the framework of market society. A former entrepreneur who is given charge of a government bureau is in this capacity no longer a businessman but a bureaucrat. His objective can no longer be profit, but compliance with the rules and regulations. As head of a bureau he may have the power to alter some minor rules and some matters of internal procedure. But the setting of the bureau’s activities is determined by rules and regulations which are beyond his reach.

It is for this reason that I claim it never mattered whether Donald Trump is a savvy businessman or not. If he is not, then the point is moot; but even if he is, no bureaucrat has the tools to steer in the right direction. This, however, is most important not looking back at Donald Trump, but rather looking forward at future elections. In 2024 we are likely to see presidential candidates explaining their past experience, in 2022 we are likely to see candidates in the midterm elections leaning on the same kinds of credentials, and most certainly in your own local elections you will hear budding young bureaucrats claim their business experience will give them the ability to more successfully lead your town. This is not to say one must never support business-experienced candidates—plenty of them do understand a great many things and may be skilled in other ways. But it’s also helpful to remember that business experience is not an especially helpful tool that a candidate brings to the table.  Author:

Connor Mortell

Connor Mortell graduated from Texas Christian University with a BBA in finance, minoring in Chinese language and culture. After graduation, he worked as a legislative aide in the Florida House of Representatives from 2019–21. Currently he is an MBA student at Florida State University. Additionally, he is a graduate of Mises University, where he passed the Mündliche Prüfung Viva Voce Exam on economics.

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Beyond Cynicism: America Fumbles Towards Kafka’s Castle | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on August 6, 2021

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the hijinks on campus—the attacks on reason, fairness, and common decency, the kangaroo courts, diversity tribunals, assaults on public speech and speakers themselves—here is the key take-away: it’s not about ideas or ideologies anymore; it’s purely about the pleasures of coercion, of pushing other people around. Coercion is fun and exciting! In fact, it’s intoxicating, and rewarded with brownie points and career advancement. It’s rather perverse that this passion for tyranny is suddenly so popular on the liberal left.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/beyond-cynicism-america-fumbles-towards-kafkas-castle/

Politics

alisafarov/Shutterstock

December 21, 2017|

12:01 am James Howard Kunstler

Nobody knows, from sea to shining sea, why we are having all this trouble with our republic. — Tom McGuane

Can a people recover from an excursion into unreality? The USA’s sojourn into an alternative universe of the mind accelerated sharply after Wall Street nearly detonated the global financial system in 2008. That debacle was only one manifestation of an array of accumulating threats to the postmodern order, which include the burdens of empire, onerous debt, population overshoot, fracturing globalism, worries about energy, disruptive technologies, ecological havoc, and the specter of climate change.

A sense of gathering crisis, which I call the long emergency, persists. It is systemic and existential. It calls into question our ability to carry on “normal” life much farther into this century, and all the anxiety that attends it is hard for the public to process. It manifested itself first in finance because that was the most abstract and fragile of all the major activities we depend on for daily life, and therefore the one most easily tampered with and shoved into criticality by a cadre of irresponsible opportunists on Wall Street. Indeed, a lot of households were permanently wrecked after the so-called Great Financial Crisis of 2008, despite official trumpet blasts heralding “recovery” and the dishonestly engineered pump-up of capital markets since then.

With the election of 2016, symptoms of the long emergency seeped into the political system. Disinformation rules. There is no coherent consensus about what is happening and no coherent proposals to do anything about it. The two parties are mired in paralysis and dysfunction and the public’s trust in them is at epic lows. Donald Trump is viewed as a sort of pirate president, a freebooting freak elected by accident, “a disrupter” of the status quo at best and at worst a dangerous incompetent playing with nuclear fire. A state of war exists between the White House, the permanent D.C. bureaucracy, and the traditional news media. Authentic leadership is otherwise AWOL. Institutions falter. The FBI and the CIA behave like enemies of the people. 

Bad ideas flourish in this nutrient medium of unresolved crisis. Lately, they actually dominate the scene on every side. A species of wishful thinking that resembles a primitive cargo cult grips the technocratic class, awaiting magical rescue remedies that promise to extend the regime of Happy Motoring, consumerism, and suburbia that makes up the armature of “normal” life in the USA. They chatter about electric driverless car fleets, home delivery drone services, and as-yet-undeveloped modes of energy production to replace problematic fossil fuels, while ignoring the self-evident resource and capital constraints now upon us and even the laws of physics—especially entropy, the second law of thermodynamics. Their main mental block is their belief in infinite industrial growth on a finite planet, an idea so powerfully foolish that it obviates their standing as technocrats.

The non-technocratic cohort of the thinking class squanders its waking hours on a quixotic campaign to destroy the remnant of an American common culture and, by extension, a reviled Western civilization they blame for the failure in our time to establish a utopia on earth. By the logic of the day, “inclusion” and “diversity” are achieved by forbidding the transmission of ideas, shutting down debate, and creating new racially segregated college dorms. Sexuality is declared to not be biologically determined, yet so-called cis-gendered persons (whose gender identity corresponds with their sex as detected at birth) are vilified by dint of not being “other-gendered”—thereby thwarting the pursuit of happiness of persons self-identified as other-gendered. Casuistry anyone?

The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called “intellectuals-yet-idiots,”

See the rest here

James Howard Kunstler’s many books include The Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation, and the World Made by Hand novel series. He blogs on Mondays and Fridays at Kunstler.com.

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MSM calls for “new definition of free speech” – OffGuardian

Posted by M. C. on January 18, 2021

Ives clearly thinks he’s enlightened and liberal and educated, after all he drops references to Kant AND Mills (that’s right TWO famous philosophers), but he’s really not. He’s just an elitist arguing working class people are too dumb to be allowed to speak, or even hear ideas that might get them all riled-up and distract them from their menial labour.

https://off-guardian.org/2021/01/16/a-new-definition-of-free-speech/

Kit Knightly

Part of the main duty of OffGuardian is to troll through the masses of media output and try and pick up patterns. Sometimes the patterns are subtle, a gentle urging behind the paragraphs. Sometimes they’re more like a sledgehammer to the face.

This has been face-hammer week. In fact, it’s been a face-hammer year.

From “flatten the curve” to “the new normal” to “the great reset”, it’s not been hard to spot the messaging going on since the start of the “pandemic”. And that distinct lack of disguise has carried over into other topics, too.

We pointed out, a few days ago, the sudden over-use of the phrase “domestic terrorism” preparing us for what is, almost certainly, going to be a truly horrendous piece of new legislation once Biden is in office.

Well, the buzz-phrase doing the rounds in the wake of Donald Trump being banned from the internet is “the new definition of free speech”…and variations on that theme.

Firstly, and papers on both sides of the Atlantic want to be very clear about this, Donald Trump being banned simultaneously from every major social network is not in any way inhibiting his free speech.

Indeed none of the tens of thousands of people banned from twitter et al. have had their free speech infringed either. Neither have any of the proprietors – or users – of the Parler app which the tech giants bullied out of existence.

Free Speech is totally intact no matter how many people are banned or deplatformed, the media all agree on that (even the allegedly pro-free speech think tanks).

They also agree that maybe…it shouldn’t be. Maybe “free speech” is too dangerous in our modern era, and needs a “new definition”.

That’s what Ian Dunt writing in Politics.co.uk thinks, anyway, arguing it’s time to have a “grown-up debate” about free speech.

The Financial Times agrees, asking about the “limits of free-speech in the internet era”.

Thomas Edsall, in the New York Times, wonders aloud if Trump’s “lies” have made free speech a “threat to democracy”.

The Conversation, a UK-based journal often at the cutting edge of the truly terrifying ideas, has three different articles about redefining or limiting free speech, all published within 4 days of each other.

There’s Free speech is not guaranteed if it harms others, a drab piece of dishonest apologia which argues Trump wasn’t silenced, because he could make a speech which the media would cover…without also mentioning that the media has, en masse, literally refused to broadcast several of Trump’s speeches in the last couple of months.

The conclusion could have been written by an algorithm analysing The Guardian’s twitter feed:

the suggestion Trump has been censored is simply wrong. It misleads the public into believing all “free speech” claims have equal merit. They do not. We must work to ensure harmful speech is regulated in order to ensure broad participation in the public discourse that is essential to our lives — and to our democracy.

Then there’s Free speech in America: is the US approach fit for purpose in the age of social media?, a virtual carbon copy of the first, which states:

The attack on the Capitol exposed, in stark terms, the dangers of disinformation in the digital age. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the extent to which certain elements of America’s free speech tradition may no longer be fit for purpose.

And finally, my personal favourite, Why ‘free speech’ needs a new definition in the age of the internet and Trump tweets in which author Peter Ives warns of the “weaponising of free speech” and concludes:

Trump’s angry mob was not just incited by his single speech on Jan. 6, but had been fomenting for a long time online. The faith in reason held by Mill and Kant was premised on the printing press; free speech should be re-examined in the context of the internet and social media.

Ives clearly thinks he’s enlightened and liberal and educated, after all he drops references to Kant AND Mills (that’s right TWO famous philosophers), but he’s really not. He’s just an elitist arguing working class people are too dumb to be allowed to speak, or even hear ideas that might get them all riled-up and distract them from their menial labour.

To season these stale ideas with a sprinkling of fear-porn, NBC News is reporting that the FBI didn’t report their “concerns” over possible violence at the Capitol, because they were worried about free speech. (See, if the FBI hadn’t been protecting people’s free speech, that riot may not have happened!)

And on top of all of that, there’s the emotional manipulation angle, where authors pretend to be sad or exasperated or any of the emotions they used to have.

In the Irish Independent, Emma Kelly says that “free speech” doesn’t include “hate speech” (she’s never exactly clear what part of “go home in peace love” was hate speech though).

In The Hill, Joe Ferullo is almost in tears that the first amendment has been ruined by the right-wing press continuously “shouting fire in a crowded theatre”, citing the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes quote, which so many use to “qualify” the idea of free speech, without realising it hands over power to destroy it completely.

Up until you can show me the hard-and-fast legal definitions of “shout”, “fire”, “crowded” and “theatre”, this open-ended qualification is nothing but a blank canvas, free to be interpreted as loosely – or stringently – as any lawmaker or judiciary feels is necessary.

As an example:

Twitter is certainly bigger and more populated than a theatre, and spreading anti-vaccination/anti-war/pro-Russia/”Covid denial” news [delete as appropriate] is certainly going to cause more panic than one single building being on fire. Isn’t it?

It’s this potential abuse of incredibly loose terminologies which will be used to “redefine” free speech.

“Offensive”, “misinformation”, “hate speech” and others will be repeated. A lot.

Expressions which have no solid definition under law, and are already being shown to mean nothing to the media talking heads who repeat them ad nauseum.

If “go home in peace and love”, can become “inciting violence”, absolutely everything can be made to mean absolutely anything.

The more they “redefine” words, the further we move into an Orwellian world where all meaning is entirely lost.

And what would our newly defined “free speech” really mean in such a world?

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The woke purge – spiked

Posted by M. C. on January 11, 2021

Twitter’s suspension of Donald Trump is a chilling sign of tyranny to come.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/01/09/the-woke-purge/

Cancel culture doesn’t exist, they say. And yet with the flick of a switch, billionaire capitalists voted for by precisely nobody have just silenced a man who is still the democratically elected president of the United States. With the push of a button in their vast temples to technology, the new capitalist oligarchs of Silicon Valley have prevented a man who won the second largest vote in the history of the American republic just two months ago — 74million votes — from engaging with his supporters (and critics) in the new public square of the internet age.

Not only does cancel culture exist — it is the means through which the powerful, unaccountable oligarchies of the internet era and their clueless cheerleaders in the liberal elites interfere in the democratic process and purge voices they disapprove of. That’s what Twitter’s permanent suspension of Donald Trump confirms.

The new capitalists’ cancellation of the democratically elected president of the United States is a very significant turning point in the politics and culture of the Western world. We underestimate the significance of this act of unilateral purging at our peril. It demonstrates that the greatest threat to freedom and democracy comes not from the oafs and hard-right clowns who stormed the Capitol this week, but from the technocratic elites who spy in the breaching of the Capitol an opportunity to consolidate their cultural power and their political dominance.

Twitter’s ban on Trump is extraordinary for many reasons. First, there’s the arrogance of it. Make no mistake: this is the bosses vs democracy; corporates vs the people; exceptionally wealthy and aloof elites determining which elected politicians may engage in online discussion, which is where most political and public debate takes place in the 21st century. Those who cannot see how concerning and sinister it is that a handful of Big Tech companies have secured a virtual monopoly over the social side of the internet, and are now exploiting their monopolistic power to dictate what political opinions it is acceptable to hold and express in these forums, urgently needs a wake-up call.

Secondly, there is Twitter’s deeply disturbing justification for why it suspended Trump. It says Trump’s account ran the ‘risk’ of ‘inciting violence’. And yet the two tweets of his that it cites do nothing of the sort. In one, Trump describes his voters as ‘great American patriots’ and insists they will have a ‘GIANT VOICE’ in the future. In the other he confirms that he will not be attending the inauguration of Joe Biden. That’s it. In what warped moral universe can such standard, boastful Trump-made statements be interpreted as calls for violence?

In the warped moral universe of pre-emptive, precautionary censorship being built by our tech overlords, that’s where. Strikingly, Twitter says its censorship of the president is based on how other people might read and interpret his words. It says its censorious motivation is ‘specifically’ the question of ‘how [Trump’s tweets] are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter’. Trump’s comments ‘must be read’ in the broader context of how certain statements ‘can be mobilised by different audiences’, Twitter decrees. So Trump’s words, strictly speaking, are not the problem; it’s the possibility, the risk, that someone, somewhere might interpret them in a particular way.

This sets a terrifying precedent for the internet age. It legitimises a new regime of online censorship which doesn’t only punish inflammatory speech — which would be bad enough — but which punishes normal, legitimate political speech on the grounds of how other, unnamed people or groups might respond to it.

There would be no end to what could be censored. Trans-sceptical feminists, already victims of Silicon Valley’s woke purges, would be completely wiped out on the basis that some idiot might interpret their intellectual, non-bigoted critiques of genderfluidity as an instruction to bash a trans person. Christians sceptical of gay marriage, pro-life campaigners furious about abortion, radical leftists who say ‘smash the system’ — all could potentially fall foul of this new diktat that says we are not only responsible for what we ourselves think and say, but also for the myriad interpretations that everyone else, from the man in the street to the weirdo incel, makes of what we think and say.

On this basis the White Album should be banned, given its songs ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Piggies’ were ‘mobilised by different audiences’ to terrible ends — the killings carried out by Charles Manson’s Family. Catcher in the Rye? Censor it. Don’t you remember how it ‘mobilised’ Mark David Chapman to kill John Lennon? As for the Bible, the Koran and any number of political texts and anthems — the risks of ‘mobilisation’ that they pose are clearly too great, so, to be on the safe side, let’s scrub those too.

It isn’t just Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg (zero votes) had already indefinitely suspended Trump (74million votes) from Facebook. Reddit has scrubbed its Donald Trump thread. All social-media accounts that promote the mad Qanon conspiracy theory are being suspended. Mike Flynn and Sidney Powell have been banished from Twitter. YouTube is now banning any video and account that says the American election was fraudulent. This shows how ideological Silicon Valley oligarchs have become. For four years leading members of the media and cultural elites in the US and the UK have said the American presidential election and the EU referendum of 2016 were frauds. That they were meddled with, illegitimate, should be overthrown. You’ll find tens of thousands of videos on YouTube featuring people saying the vote for Brexit was a fit-up by Ruskies or an ‘advisory’ vote fraudulently turned into an instructional one. They won’t be taken down. Because our tech overlords are engaged in acts of openly political censorship.

And then there’s Parler, the libertarian alternative to Twitter. Google this week removed the Parler app from its store on the basis that it doesn’t control its users’ inflammatory speech strictly enough. Apple is threatening to do likewise. All those who said ‘Just make your own social-media platform’ clearly underestimated the tyrannical determination of the woke elites to erase ‘offensive speech’ from every quarter of the internet. This is a full-on purge of any voice that significantly runs counter to the worldview of the anti-populist elites.

That the left is cheering this on is cretinism of the most remarkable kind. They are green-lighting the most thorough assault on freedom of speech that the capitalist elites have ever carried out. They are sanctioning the control of speech by billionaires. They are celebrating as corporate oligarchies interfere directly in the democratic process. They are making a fetish of private property rights, insisting that the corporate rights of virtual monopolies like Twitter and Facebook, in this case their right to throw people off their platforms, override the social, democratic good of free public debate.

I know this is unlikely anytime soon — given the entirely bullshit and pseudo ‘leftish’ posturing of the Silicon Valley elites — but imagine if at some point in the future the tech overlords decide that Bernie Sanders or some rabble-rousing organiser of protests outside Google’s HQ might ‘mobilise audiences’ to do something bad and decide to ban them? What will the left say? Nothing, presumably. Or nothing that should be taken seriously, given they will have helped to create this web of tyranny. They have forgotten the cry of the true radical Thomas Paine: ‘He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.’

There is danger in the current moment. It comes not from horn-helmeted idiots and racist scumbags who paraded through the Capitol Building for an hour, but from those who wish to turn that despicable incident into the founding myth of a new era of woke authoritarianism. The business and political elites, determined to crush the populist experiment of recent years, will busily launch wars on ‘domestic terrorism’, clamp down on inflammatory speech, purge from the internet and from workplaces anyone with ‘incorrect’ thoughts, and blacklist those who believe populism is preferable to technocracy. They’re already doing it. The Biden administration isn’t even in power yet and this is already happening. Imagine how emboldened the new oligarchies and their woke mobs will become once Biden and Co are ruling. Brace yourselves; the purge is only beginning.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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Thousands of witches plotting to cast ‘binding spell’ on Donald Trump on Halloween so he loses to Biden on election day

Posted by M. C. on October 24, 2020

I never realized witches were of a particular political persuasion.

https://www.the-sun.com/news/1678082/witches-donald-trump-biden-election/

Claudia Aoraha

THOUSANDS of witches are plotting to cast a “binding spell” on Donald Trump on Halloween, so that he loses the US election.

The mystic women believe that the two full moons this month have given them extra magical powers to kick Trump out of the White House….

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Erie Times E-Edition Article-America needs stimulus relief

Posted by M. C. on October 22, 2020

Louie did not offer specific prescriptions for Erie’s economic recovery except the need for stimulus. House Democrats first put forward their proposals for the next round of COVID-19 stimulus funding long months ago. So it is galling that the wrangling — with Senate Republicans and the White House divided on the scale and focus of the funding — continues.

The pandemic has plunged another 8 million Americans into poverty.

Not one word about ending lockdowns, getting people back to work, re-opening businesses.

“Free” money. That is the best the Behrend Economic Research Institute and Gannett Times…err…Erie Times-News have to offer.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=17b3b9091

The issue: Erie economic downturn Our view: Stimulus overdue

President Donald Trump promised exuberant crowds at Erie International Airport Tuesday night the ‘greatest economic year’ in history. It is happening right now, he said.

Perhaps he should have stayed longer in Erie rather than cut the visit — which he said he made only to ask for votes — short. Trump boasted that historic unemployment rates at the outset of the pandemic had dropped to 7.8%. But in Erie, as reporter Jim Martin detailed, the pace of recovery lags. In August the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 11.2%, far above the then-national rate of 8.4%. Wabtec Corp. announced new layoffs just before Trump’s visit.

Not all of the data is in to complete the Erie Leading Index, but Penn State Behrend Professor Ken Louie said it appears for the first time in a decade that Erie’s economy is moving from expansion to decline. The Penn State Behrend Economic Research Institute of Erie tracks eight indicators to detect changes in the local economy.

The trend is not surprising given the wrecking ball the pandemic took to the global economy. But the time to take command of this carnage, confront the virus comprehensively and steer the country to recovery is past due.

Louie did not offer specific prescriptions for Erie’s economic recovery except the need for stimulus. House Democrats first put forward their proposals for the next round of COVID-19 stimulus funding long months ago. So it is galling that the wrangling — with Senate Republicans and the White House divided on the scale and focus of the funding — continues.

The pandemic has plunged another 8 million Americans into poverty.

People face hunger and eviction and local and state governments risk insolvency and the prospect of layoffs and suspended services. Entities key to the recovery, from small businesses to the airlines, teeter on ruin.

As Louie said, ‘It isn’t as easy as it sounds to turn things around.’

Stimulus funds must be used to track and mitigate the virus and shore up those workers and industries who have paid a toll to keep Americans safe. States and local governments that face crippling tax revenue shortfalls need help now. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, Pennsylvania confronts a $4.5 billion deficit.

The president and Congress must act with Americans, not the upper hand, in mind.

It appeared Wednesday that the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were nearing agreement, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried and failed to pass a package less than half the size of the $2.2 trillion and $1.9 trillion packages eyed by Pelosi and the White House, respectively.

It is welcome to see the president join with Democrats to seek a package that matches the scale of the need.

Delivering relief to the American people is a winning strategy for both sides.

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How the Media Has Whitewashed FBI Abuses in the Russia Probe | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on October 15, 2020

It’s hard to decide which development is worse: the FBI’s lengthy pattern of arrogant misconduct, or the mainstream media’s willingness to be an accomplice in excusing such misconduct. Either behavior undermines government accountability and the protection of civil liberties. The entire episode is a sobering example of irresponsibility on the part of institutions that nevertheless insist on respect from the public.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/politics/how-media-has-whitewashed-fbi-abuses-russia-probe-170709

by Ted Galen Carpenter

he mainstream media not only continues to parrot the narrative that President Donald Trump is a Russian asset who collaborated with Moscow to steal the 2016 presidential election, but journalists have also minimized or dismissed evidence about FBI abuses during the course of the investigation into those allegations. 

One point that emerged clearly when Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued his report in December 2019 was that the FBI had committed serious violations of its own procedures and basic requirements of due process. The scope and severity of that misconduct have become even more apparent with the passage of time.

Although Horowitz did not endorse the Trump White House’s core allegation that the FBI had initiated the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation of the Trump campaign out of political bias, the IG report identified 17 major instances of improper behavior, including violations of standard procedures and safeguards for the rights of individuals targeted in an investigation. Most of the abuses occurred with respect to investigative warrants aimed at Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Especially disturbing violations included the withholding of exculpatory evidence in warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. Among the offenses was the repeated failure to disclose that Page was working for the CIA during the period he was making contact with Russian diplomatic and intelligence officials.  In one instance, FBI assistant general counsel Kevin Clinesmith even altered a document to make it state the opposite of its original language about Page’s role.

Despite the damaging revelations in the IG report, most of the initial accounts in the mainstream media echoed the arguments that former FBI director James Comey and other agency defenders made.  News stories emphasized the rejection of the political bias charge, with that aspect eclipsing all other conclusions that placed the FBI in a less favorable light. NBC News opted for the headline “Internal Justice watchdog finds that Russia probe was justified, not biased against Trump.” PBS NewHour’s headline was “DOJ inspector general finds no bias in FBI’s Russia probe.” Other outlets were at least as flagrant in their spin of the IG’s report.  New York Magazine’s headline blared that “Inspector General Finds Russia Investigation Wasn’t an FBI Witch Hunt,” “So much for the Deep State Plot against Donald Trump,” proclaimed an article in Wired.

Even when news stories acknowledged problems with the FBI’s behavior, writers and reporters attributed those actions to “errors” and “missteps,” not misconduct or abuses. But Horowitz himself pushed back on the notion that he had exonerated the FBI. A week later, he clarified that his investigation into the FBI’s FISA warrants “did not reach” the conclusion that the bureau was unaffected by political bias during its Russia investigation. In response to questioning from Senator Josh Hawley (R- MO.), Horowitz explained that his investigation did leave the door open to possible political bias, because his team could not accept the explanations FBI members gave about why there were “so many errors” in their investigation.  As reasons for caution, he specifically cited  “the alteration of the email, the text messages associated with the individual who did that, and our inability to explain or understand, to get good explanations so that we could understand why this all happened.” Such caveats indicated that the Horowitz report was far from being an exoneration of the FBI.

Since then, the media’s favorable spin on the FBI’s performance has become even more difficult to sustain. That was especially true once the FISA court forcefully rebuked the FBI for its actions, and then retroactively invalidated two of four warrants issued in the Page investigation. That move was virtually unprecedented.  So too was a subsequent move in March 2020, when the court barred any agents involved in the original warrant applications from submitting future surveillance applications.

Such measures were stunning since the FISA court was notorious over the years for rubber-stamping warrant requests from national security agencies. Sharp criticism from the FISA court of such an agency, much less the imposition of sanctions against that agency’s personnel, was only a little less startling than if the Chinese People’s Congress had criticized President Xi Jinping and curtailed his powers. 

Yet another blow to the media narrative came in early June 2020 when former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated in congressional testimony that he never would have signed the FISA warrant renewal application if he had known how unreliable was the Steele dossier and the other underlying evidence. On this occasion, his statement received a respectable amount of attention in the mainstream media, including the Washington Post, CBS News, and Yahoo News.  Most of them also acknowledged that the admission was the main thrust of Rosenstein’s testimony.  NBC News, though, went out of its way to put a different spin on that testimony, with the utterly misleading headline: “Rod Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, approval of FISA applications in Russia probe.”

The prevailing, but increasingly strained, media narrative that any problems with the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation suffered another blow in August 2020 when former assistant general counsel Kevin Clinesmith pled guilty to the document alteration charge in the FISA warrant applications for the continuing surveillance of Carter Page. Mainstream press stories acknowledged the guilty plea, but they carefully avoided drawing any wider conclusions about Crossfire Hurricane abuses.

Indeed, some of the accounts went out of their way to assert that Clinesmith’s offense was nothing more than an isolated incident. CNN’s treatment was typical. The network’s analysis contended that “court documents laying out the single charge against Clinesmith don’t make any broader allegation of a conspiracy by FBI investigators against Trump, an accusation Trump has frequently made. Instead, it shows another FBI official who signed the fourth FISA warrant raising a concern about whether Page was a CIA source and seeking email proof when Clinesmith downplayed the CIA relationship with Page.”

Only a few analyses in conservative publications pointed out that the forgery episode was part of a larger pattern of FBI procedural violations during Crossfire Hurricane. Andrew McCarthy’s article in National Review explicitly concluded that Clinesmith’s plea was a “perfect snapshot of Crossfire Hurricane’s duplicity.” It was a valid point; Clinesmith’s conduct was merely the most egregious case among numerous episodes of FBI misconduct during that probe, as Horowitz’s report had already documented.

Subsequent Senate hearings in September and October 2020 have cast further doubt on the thesis that there was enough evidence to justify commencing the Russia collusion investigation in the first place. The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel provided a blunt assessment of the excesses. “Chairman Lindsey Graham hauled the former FBI director in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee ostensibly to answer for stunning new details in the bureau’s Trump-Russia probe.  But the hearing more broadly resurrected the breathtaking arrogance of the swamp. This was the crew that in 2016—based on the thinnest of tips—launched a counterintelligence investigation into a presidential campaign, complete with secret surveillance warrants and informants.”

Strassel added:  “FBI agent Peter Strzok in 2018 lectured Congress that the bureau had too many “safeguards” and “procedures” ever to allow “improper” behavior. Yet this past week provided evidence the FBI leaders blew through red light after red light.  We already knew they based the probe on a dossier that came from a rival campaign. We knew the bureau was warned early on that the dossier was potential Russian disinformation.  And now we know it discovered that the man who was the dossier’s primary source had been under FBI investigation as a suspected agent for Moscow. The bureau hid all of this from the surveillance court.”  

It’s hard to decide which development is worse: the FBI’s lengthy pattern of arrogant misconduct, or the mainstream media’s willingness to be an accomplice in excusing such misconduct. Either behavior undermines government accountability and the protection of civil liberties. The entire episode is a sobering example of irresponsibility on the part of institutions that nevertheless insist on respect from the public.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in security studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of 12 books and more than 850 articles.

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Trump, Biden, Jorgensen discuss military and veterans issues – Task & Purpose

Posted by M. C. on September 17, 2020

Jo Who?

https://taskandpurpose.com/news/trump-biden-jorgensen-defense-veterans-issues

For the first time, all three major presidential candidates have weighed in on the most pressing issues facing service members, military families, and veterans.

President Donald Trump, his democratic rival former Vice President Joe Biden, and Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen have provided answers to the Military Officers Association of America to a wide variety of questions about their plans for the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

MOAA, a non-partisan group, published the verbatim responses from Trump, Biden, and Jorgensen on Wednesday without any editorial comment.

“We wanted to go beyond the soundbites for our membership,” said retired Air Force Col. Dan Merry, MOAA’s vice president of government relations. “When candidates discuss military and veteran issues on the campaign trail they hit the high notes and play to a wide audience.” 

“Our members have a deeper understanding, and a much deeper involvement, with these topics,” he continued. “We thank the candidates for offering their expanded plans on these important issues, and we hope making the responses available to everyone, members and nonmembers alike, will help all voters make an informed decision.”

Separately, Task & Purpose has submitted questions to the Trump and Biden campaigns. Neither has provided responses.

Here are some of the highlights from candidates’ responses to MOAA:

Greatest national security threats

Trump views China as a growing military and economic threat to the United States as it seeks to increase its influence worldwide. China and other “near-peer competitors” represent the greatest long-term security challenges.

The president also reiterated that NATO allies need to spend more of their own money on defense and he vowed that the United States and its allies would continue to work with partners in the Middle East to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

While Biden acknowledged that Russia and China are both immediate threats, he argued that several of the greatest dangers facing the United States stem from climate change and global pandemics, like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Biden also vowed to “end the forever wars” while leaving a counterterrorism force in Afghanistan and maintaining a small presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State terrorist group, adding: “We do not need large deployments of combat forces to maintain our security.”

Jorgensen vowed to bring home all U.S. troops stationed overseas, end all U.S. military aid to foreign countries, and focus on defending the homeland.

“We should turn America into one giant Switzerland: armed and neutral, with a military force that’s ready to defend America’s shores and soil against any foreign attack,” she said.

Defense spending

Trump said he was proud to approve a $738 billion budget for the Defense Department in December, which the president said has helped repair the damage caused by budget cuts under former President Barack Obama.

“In addition to massive acquisitions made over the past two years, our current effort authorizes nearly 100 new F-35s; 24 brand-new F/A-18s; 155 Army helicopters, of all different types; 165 brand-new Abrams tanks; more than 50 Paladin howitzers; 2 new Virginia-class submarines; 3 new Arleigh Burke destroyers; a Ford-class aircraft carrier, and two others on their way; and much, much more. And it’s all made, right here, in the USA,” the president said.

Biden claimed that Trump has “abandoned all fiscal discipline” regarding defense spending by focusing on older legacy weapon systems when the military really needs to prepare for future wars by investing in cyber, space, unmanned systems, and artificial intelligence technologies.

“We can maintain a strong defense and protect our safety and security for less,” Biden said. “The real question is not how much we invest — it’s how we invest.”

Jorgensen said that defense spending would fall under her administration because no U.S. troops would be stationed overseas.

“With no U.S. involvement in foreign wars, a military that’s laser-focused on defending America, and a citizenry with the unabridged right to keep and bear arms, America will be safe,” she said.

Recruitment and the Selective Service System

For Trump, the best recruiting tool for the all-volunteer force is to ensure that veterans successfully make the transition to the private sector.

“To that end, I have signed an executive order supporting our veterans during their transition from uniformed service to civilian life,” the president said. “I’m honored to be at the forefront of the greatest strides ever made at the [Department of Veterans Affairs] for our veterans.”

Biden said he does not believe the United States needs a larger military, nor does he see a reason to bring back the draft.

“I would, however, ensure that women are also eligible to register for the Selective Service System so that men and women are treated equally in the event of future conflicts,” Biden said. “We should explore targeted recruiting efforts to build a military that is more geographically and demographically representative of the nation as a whole and that has the skill sets needed for modern warfare.”

Jorgensen promised to abolish the Selective Service System because there has not been a draft since the Vietnam War.

“The so-called military-civilian divide can best be bridged by staying out of foreign conflicts, and creating as much transparency as possible while maintaining the protection of vital military intelligence,” she said.

Caring for veterans

Trump touted the reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs passed under his administration, including the MISSION Act, allowing veterans to get care from private healthcare providers without prior authorizations.

The president also stressed that the VA is working on reform its health system so that veterans will have one electronic copy of their medical records “from the first day of boot camp until they are honorably laid to rest.”

Biden said he would prioritize research into emerging service-connected conditions including Traumatic Brain Injury and exposure to toxins.

“I would expand the list of presumptive conditions to ensure that no veteran who experienced a TBI or had exposure to burn pits or other environmental toxins goes without access to VA health care and benefits,” Biden said. “We must never again have an Agent Orange-like crisis.”

Jorgensen said she plans to drastically cut the cost of healthcare by reducing government and insurance paperwork so that veterans could afford better medical care.

“I will work to replace the VA with direct payments to veterans who were wounded in combat, so they can spend their health-care dollars how and where they want to spend them,” Jorgensen said. “Veterans deserve better than denied care and bureaucratic roadblocks.”

Related: Here are the biggest national security challenges that Trump or Biden will face after the presidential election

 

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Watch “A Nobel Peace Prize For Trump?” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on September 10, 2020

Check out discussion @ 20:00.

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At the RNC, Rand Paul Is Right About the Need To End Wars, but Trump Hasn’t Ended Any – Reason.com

Posted by M. C. on September 4, 2020

Trump even vetoed a bill that would stop him from military action in Iran without congressional approval.

https://reason.com/2020/08/25/at-the-rnc-rand-paul-is-right-about-the-need-to-end-war-but-trump-hasnt-ended-any/

Tonight Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) spoke on behalf of President Donald Trump’s reelection. His remarks were heavily influenced by Paul’s own longstanding positions against excessive foreign military interventions, but only loosely tied to Trump’s actual record.

“I flew with him to Dover Air Force Base to honor two soldiers whose remains were coming home from Afghanistan,” Paul said. “I will never forget that evening. I can tell you the president not only felt the pain of these families but the president is committed to ending this war.

“President Trump is the first president in a generation to seek to end war rather than start one. He intends to end the war in Afghanistan. He is bringing our men and women home.”

You all may remember that Barack Obama ran for president also promising to end our overseas wars, and it did not happen.

As we approach the end of Trump’s first term, we cannot help but notice that the president has not, in fact, ended any wars and has in fact risked escalation of military engagement between the United States and Iran when he approved the drone-strike assassination of an Iranian general.

It’s true that Trump is promising to bring thousands of troops home from Afghanistan, and that’s wonderful, assuming it all happens and he completes the pullout. The Trump administration is, in reality, resisting any and all attempts by Congress to rescind the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that previously gave President George W. Bush permission to wage war against Al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his speech, Paul railed against Biden for supporting this war. But when Congress, in a rare act of bipartisanship, passed a resolution stopping the president in engaging in any further military action against Iran without congressional approval, Trump vetoed it. Paul voted for this resolution and has consistently voted to rescind the AUMF.

And despite Paul’s attempts to insist tonight that Biden and the Democrats will continue overseas wars or start new ones, the congressional record shows that in reality, Democrats have been joining with Paul, agreeing with him in votes to bring the troops back home. It’s actually the White House and hawks within the Republican Party who have really been standing in the way.

Now both the Democratic Party 2020 platform and Trump’s 50-point plan for his second term promise, yet again, to end the wars and bring the troops home. For those who truly oppose foreign military intervention, the appropriate way to look at Trump’s first term is not unlike Obama’s. This promise has not been kept.

Watch more about Trump’s failed promises to end war:

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