We’re Still Here, 1/20/17, Consumed Most of All by Our Fears

One of my favorite quotes includes the lines “I awoke this morning to find that it was not judgment day – only morning. Morning: excellent and fair.” I think that sums up a part of my thinking, but certainly not all.

A nuclear reckoning, war with China, or anything else quite so violently apocalyptic is imminent, or even underway, as far too many of us think. I live in one of those bubbles, the sum of which make up America now. Many of the people I talk to, in person and here online, seem to believe, truly believe, the world is coming to something of an end. These are by and large educated, once-rational people, some of whom have been voices of reason in the past. They are not that way now.

We are however falling, some important threads of our nation being teased apart, and our best days are behind us. But this did not start on November 8, 2016, or January 20, 2017, though historians will note those dates as significant milestones (same as September 11, 2001.) But not because of Donald Trump. Because his name just happened to be attached to what has been growing inside us since the end of WWII.

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McCain’s $5 Trillion Military Budget: Will It Make America Great Again?

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) wants to spend five trillion dollars over the next five years in a massive build-up of the US military. Dozens of ships will be be built, as well as more than a hundred new fighter jets — including the problem-plagued F-35. The Army and Marines will greatly expand. McCain’s goal is to be able to fight a conventional war in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It’s as if we are back in 1950! How much do McCain’s donors in the military-industrial complex love this budget? We can only imagine. But will Trump bite? Is this the kind of spending that would really “make America great again”? As Alibaba gazillionaire Jack Ma put it so well recently in Davos, the US has wasted $14 trillion on wars over the past 30 years. More on this today in the Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Peace Out, Obama

In the final days of his presidency, Barack Obama deployed 3,500 US troops, 87 tanks and 144 Bradley fighting vehicles to Poland, and 330 Marines to Norway. He also signed "milestone" agreements with Estonia and Lithuania enabling a broad range of defense-related activities.

For Poland, this marks the first time forces from the West will have a continuous presence on NATO’s eastern flank.  For Norway, it’s the first time since WWII that foreign troops will be allowed to be stationed there.

The US, through NATO, had already begun the “biggest reinforcement since the Cold War, posting four multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. In November, Washington announced the deployment of nearly 6,000 troops, along with tanks, infantry vehicles, heavy howitzers, and combat helicopters to Eastern Europe.”

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Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people.

New rules issued by the Obama administration under Executive Order 12333 will let the NSA — which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy — share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report by the New York Times.

That’s a huge and troubling shift in the way those intelligence agencies receive information collected by the NSA. Domestic agencies like the FBI are subject to more privacy protections, including warrant requirements. Previously, the NSA shared data with these agencies only after it had screened the data, filtering out unnecessary personal information, including about innocent people whose communications were swept up the NSA’s massive surveillance operations.

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Peter Van Buren asks: Would You Have Chelsea Manning’s Courage When Called?

Chelsea will be free in May!

With more than a little irony, while I was in Iraq working for the State Department, Chelsea Manning’s office was across the hall from mine. While I was winning the war by writing emails to the embassy, Manning was across the hall capturing the texts of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables, famously released by Wikileaks, showing that was could never be won.

My war in Iraq ended in near-complete failure. What Manning did will have an impact far beyond that terrible struggle. In this video, I ask the question of why I didn’t do what Manning did, and challenge the audience: when faced with history, would you have the courage to do what Manning did?

I didn’t.

Skip ahead to about 2:30

Ron Paul on Executive Power in the Age of Trump

Although the Founders expected the legislative branch of government to be first among equals, especially in the past 20 years the executive branch has consolidated power at the expense of Congress and the Courts. But the two losing branches have been more than complicit in the process. What does this bode for our future? We turned to noted Constitutional scholar, Louis Fisher, who has written more than 500 articles and 24 books on this important issue. You won’t want to miss this episode of the Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.