Peace and Prosperity Ron Paul Institute's flagship blog Copyright Ron Paul Institute Mon, 01 Mar 2021 17:41:47 GMT Mon, 01 Mar 2021 17:41:47 GMT Will Biden's Syria Attack Help ISIS? Daniel McAdams
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Welcome to Snitch Nation: From kids to parents, it’s a race to rat out your (former) loved ones before they get you first Helen Buyniski

In the grand tradition of divide and conquer, the ruling class has set in motion a fool-proof way to keep us from uniting against the Great Reset and attendant restrictions on human freedoms – dupe us into snitching on each other!

In order to achieve the proper level of blanket obedience, it’s important that ordinary people trust the government unquestioningly – and fear and hate those who don’t. This is best accomplished by discrediting and distancing the target population from all non-approved information sources, whether that’s Grandma down in Florida or their favorite alt-media YouTube channel. The target must be informed in no uncertain terms that they’re in the midst of an ‘infodemic’ – a deadly (if invisible and intangible) swarm of ideas that must be resisted at all costs by keeping one’s eyes and ears firmly fixed on the news networks, lest one fail to keep up with the ever-shifting New Normal.

One of the first stateside images of the Covid-19 pandemic to outline that ‘normal’ in New York City showed a group of people walking innocently down the street while their neighbors, standing on their fire escape and looking down, yelled at them for failing to “social distance” adequately. The implication – as NYC gradually and then rapidly saw its Covid-19 numbers climb – was that the group of friends walking had failed to put the needs of the community above their own. The more New Yorkers could be like the man on the fire escape, the better. But without the necessary “perception management,” the people screaming on the fire escape would get bottles (and possibly bullets) thrown at them. Nobody likes a snitch – at least, no one did back then. 

And who could forget Los Angeles’ mayor Eric Garcetti, delivering his threat against businesses that chose not to heed his draconian lockdown? Not only would they have their water and electricity shut off, he said, but anyone who called in to report businesses operating illegally would get some money for their efforts. Stumbling over the well-known aphorism about snitches and stitches, he joyfully declared that, now, “Snitches get rewards!”

Rather than inspiring a legion of snitches to rise up, however, he was mocked ferociously. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio similarly crashed and burned when he debuted a snitch hotline for the city, receiving a litany of dick-pics and Hitler memes instead of the photos of city residents failing to social distance that he’d asked for. Their “perception” hadn’t been adequately managed.

‘Fun’ for the whole family

But it’s been a year since those abortive early efforts. Other municipalities have continued to push the snitch-line as a useful police-state tool, noticing that as lockdowns drag on, people become more desperate for companionship, willing to settle for a conversation with anyone – even the police officer who’s come to haul your neighbor away for thinking impure thoughts about Bill Gates. These interactions offer a tiny nugget of human companionship to sweeten the fundamentally antisocial act of sending the authorities after an innocent neighbor.

One trick has been to interrogate children. Kids in Vermont were asked – away from their parents – whether they’d been part of a “multi-family gathering” for Thanksgiving. If they answered yes, they were ordered to self-isolate for 14 days – or seven days if they were willing to submit to an invasive Covid-19 test. Never mind that they’re warping those kids’ brains for life, duping them into ratting out their own family, or that young children are almost always symptomless with Covid-19, can’t you see there’s a war – er, a pandemic – on?!

Thirty pieces of silver

The proprietors of Snitch Nation have also learned that financial incentives are ideal where moral incentives don’t exist, and states like New York and Massachusetts quickly realized that trying to overcome people’s natural aversion to snitching needed some help. New York began offering $75,000 yearly salaries to contact tracers who’d done little more than pass a free online course offering some unusual definitions of “autonomy” (hint: it ceases to exist when someone fails to obey quarantine rules).

The contact-tracing course (which I took) offers more than the usual training in Orwellian ‘newspeak’, however. The chirpy-voiced instructor reminds the aspiring contact tracer that they are not under any circumstances to warn their friends or family if someone they know is infected, even it if means allowing their 80-year-old grandma to go risk her life playing bridge at the house of someone who just got out of the hospital being treated for Covid-19 and is still not well. One’s loyalty can be only to the state.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

As more Americans wake up to the fact that merely getting their double-dose of vaccine is not going to set the US on a path to normality – not unless 70, or is it 90, or maybe 100 percent of the rest of the country gets it – they’re going to need someone to blame, and it better not be the vaccine companies. After all, they’re already indemnified! The US can expect a heavy-handed scapegoating campaign aimed at shaming family, friends, and neighbors who harbor a healthy distrust towards a scientific establishment that changes its mind on a weekly basis. 

And the media world is pushing Snitch Nation with all its might. Journalists like Brandy Zadrozny at NBC and Taylor Lorenz at the New York Times have made it their business to pry into the private lives of private citizens whose only ‘crimes’ are having the ‘wrong’ opinions, while another news anchor reported recently from a Florida supermarket, describing the shoppers’ maskless nonchalance as if it was a genocide being conducted in real-time. Wrongthink about politics and Covid-19 has merged to the point where anyone expressing a deviation from the official line regarding the pandemic is shrieked at, Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style, as a Trump supporter and set upon by the harpies of social media.

In such a climate, then, it’s no surprise there are so many Americans eagerly calling up the FBI and DHS to report their parents, uncles, sisters, and other family members who participated in the January 6 demonstration at the Capitol, whether they were there to “riot” or merely to protest, whether or not they actually made it into the building or merely stood outside marveling at the ineptitude of their government. Told their loved ones had been hopelessly radicalized by a dangerous cult and could have killed someone, they were led to believe their act of betrayal was one of love. No doubt the world is sick of Orwell references by now, but the torture facility in 1984 was called the “Ministry of Love” for a reason.

Texas teenager Jackson Reffitt turned his father in to the police before the man even attended the rally or told anyone in the family about it, insisting that he “just wanted someone to know” about it. The younger Reffitt was subsequently thrown out of his family’s home by his devastated mother and sisters, whom he admits were “absolutely ruined about the news from what I did.” But that brief flicker of remorse was crushed with the huge amount of money the young man subsequently raised via GoFundMe – a whopping $147,229 as of Thursday.

No longer saddled with student loans, car bills, or insurance costs, Reffitt has learned a chilling lesson about loyalty and values, as has everyone watching him swell with pride on CNN: family loyalty is not required to get through life, as long as one maintains a slavish, unwavering devotion to the police state. Copycats have already started turning in their own relatives and even ex-boyfriends, figuring they have nothing to lose (aside from their dignity, which isn’t fetching much on the market these days).

We live in a society...

Given the rapidly expanding class of ideas deemed ‘anathema’ over the last year, the rank and file of Snitch Nation can only be expected to grow. Should the rest of us fail to act – to remind our own loved ones that ratting out their neighbors for an extra piece of chocolate is fundamentally wrong on multiple levels – we can expect reinforced echo chambers, a further collapse in interpersonal relations, and an iron-fisted, jello-brained rule by a hopelessly alienated populace incapable of having a civilized discussion unless they already agree on every topic to be discussed beforehand. All those who engage in wrongthink will be branded with a scarlet letter and shown the door – no exceptions.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]> Mon, 01 Mar 2021 14:50:06 GMT
Biden’s Syria Attack: An Actual Impeachable Offense Ron Paul

Last Thursday President Biden continued what has sadly become a Washington tradition: bombing Syria. The President ordered a military strike near the Iraqi-Syrian border that killed at least 22 people. The Administration claims it struck an “Iranian-backed” militia in retaliation for recent rocket attacks on US installations in Iraq.

As with Presidents Obama and Trump before him, however, Biden’s justification for the US strike and its targets is not credible. And his claim that the US attack would result in a “de-escalation” in the region is laughable. You cannot bomb your way toward de-escalation.

Biden thus joins a shameful club of US leaders whose interventions in the Middle East, and Syria specifically, have achieved nothing in the US interest but have contributed to the deaths of many thousands of civilians.

President Trump attacked Syria in 2018 in what he claimed was retaliation for the Assad government’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens. The Trump Administration never proved its claim. Logic itself suggests how ridiculous it would have been for the Syrian president to have used chemical weapons in that situation, where they achieved no military purpose and would almost certainly guarantee further outside attacks against his government.

Trump’s 2018 attack only added to the misery of the Syrian people, who suffered under US sanctions and then suffered President Obama’s “Assad must go” intervention that trained and armed al-Qaeda affiliated groups to overthrow the government.

Trump’s airstrike on Syria did nothing to further real American interests in the region. But sending in 100 Tomahawk missiles to blow up a few empty buildings did a great deal to further the bottom line of missile-maker Raytheon.

Interestingly, Biden’s Secretary of Defense came to the Administration straight from his previous position on the board of, you guessed it, Raytheon. Libertarian educator Tom Woods once quipped that no matter who you vote for you get John McCain. Perhaps it’s also fair to say that no matter who you vote for you get to enrich Raytheon.

The Democrats wasted four years trying to remove Trump from office under the bogus “Russiagate” lie and then the equally ridiculous and discredited claim that Trump led an insurrection against the government on January 6th. Yet when Trump started raining bombs down on Syria with no Congressional declaration of war or even authorization, most Democrats stood up and cheered. Left-wing CNN talking head Fareed Zakaria swooned, “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night.”

In fact, initiating a war against a country that did not attack and does not threaten the United States without Congressional authority is an impeachable offense. But both parties – with a few exceptions – are war parties.

President Biden should be impeached for his attack on Syria, as should have Trump and Obama before him. But no one in Washington is going to pursue impeachment charges against a president who recklessly takes the United States to war. War greases Washington’s wheels.

Isn’t it strange how we’ve heard nothing about ISIS for the past couple of years, but suddenly the mainstream media tells us the ISIS is back and on the march? When President Biden says “America is back,” what he really means is “the war party is back.” As if they ever left.]]> Mon, 01 Mar 2021 14:31:16 GMT
Is the US Going the Way of Afghanistan? James Bovard

Acrimony and recriminations continue to swirl around the 2020 presidential election. Three out of four Republicans believe that there was “widespread fraud” in the election, while Democrats have sought to turn criticisms of the election into a “Big Lie” heresy against democracy. Senior congressional Democrats are pressuring the nation’s largest cable providers to cease carrying conservative networks such as Fox News that raised too many questions about Biden’s victory.

What could possibly go wrong with sweeping the 2020 election controversies under the rug? Clues can be found in a recent report, “Elections: Lessons from the US Experience in Afghanistan,” produced by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). That report contains more wisdom than will be found in President Trump’s idiotic tweet in December: “A young military man working in Afghanistan told me that elections in Afghanistan are far more secure and much better run than the USA’s 2020 Election.”

Actually, “Afghan democracy” is one of the most brazen shams of US foreign policy in this century. Since the US invasion in 2001, the federal government has spent more than $600 million to support elections and democratic procedures in Afghanistan (part of the $143 billion the US spent there for relief and reconstruction there). Hamid Karzai, the smooth operator who the Bush administration installed to rule Afghanistan after 9/11, won a rigged 2004 presidential election. President George W. Bush boasted during his reelection campaign, “Afghanistan has now got a constitution which talks about freedom of religion and talks about women’s rights…. Democracy is flourishing.” A few years later, Karzai won support from fundamentalist voters by approving a law entitling a husband to starve his wife to death if she refused his sexual demands.

President Barack Obama justified his troop surge in Afghanistan to bolster its democracy. When Obama spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in August 2009, he boasted that “our troops are helping to secure polling places for this week’s election so that Afghans can choose the future that they want.” At first glance, Karzai won a narrow victory. But two weeks after the election, the New York Times reported that Karzai’s operatives set up as many as 800 fictitious polling sites “where no one voted but where hundreds of thousands of ballots were still recorded toward the president’s re-election.” In some Afghan provinces, pro-Karzai ballots outnumbered actual voters by tenfold. Peter Galbraith, a senior United Nations official in Afghanistan, was fired after he estimated that a third of Karzai’s votes were bogus. Galbraith wrote, “No amount of spin can obscure the fact that we spent upwards of $200 million on an election that has been a total fiasco” which “handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory.”

Despite the shenanigans, the Obama administration praised Karzai as if he had won fair and square. The Obama administration told Congress that the decision to send far more US troops to Afghanistan depended on the Afghan government’s “ability to hold credible elections,” among other tests. After the 2009 Afghan election turned into a sham, Obama decided it was “close enough for government work” to democracy. Thanks to Obama’s surge, 1,400 American soldiers died in part to propagate the mirage of Afghan democracy. 

Afghan officials have conspired for more than 15 years to both multiply and ignore election fraud. As early as 2009, US Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that the result was that the Afghan government’s legitimacy “is, at best, in question right now and, at worst, doesn’t exist.” An analysis by the US Agency for International Development of the 2014 Afghan election noted that “several prominent election officials associated with fraud during past elections were promoted or given ministerial appointments.” Afghanistan’s 2019 presidential election was “the most corrupt the country had ever held,” according to some experts SIGAR consulted. 

U.S tax dollars poured into the coffers of Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) to safeguard voting. Alas – that agency was a prime source of the most brazen vote stealing. ECC bosses were careful not to hire almost anyone with electoral experience since such folks might raise troubling questions. A former top ECC official told SIGAR that “one criterion for chief electoral officer applicants in 2018 was how well the candidates were dressed. He said this category was used as a pretext to reduce the scores of less pliable candidates.” It is unknown whether this villainy character test was inspired by Washington’s K Street lobbyists. 

Push-button fraud

Afghan voting records are a mess, making it much easier to fabricate the “will of the people.” SIGAR concluded, “Afghanistan’s national voter registry and the voter registration process are exceptionally vulnerable to manipulation and mismanagement… The number of registered voters in Afghanistan is improbably high, given the population size and low turnout shortly after registering, which likely indicates registration fraud. Malpractice and lack of transparency also undermine the credibility of the voter registry.” In this country, controversies erupted in several states prior to the 2020 election over allegations that state voting roles had vast numbers of ineligible or deceased voters listed. Michigan delayed removing 177,000 inactive voters from the state’s voting roles until earlier this month and acted only after a lawsuit forced the state’s hand.

Afghan elections have been institutionalized racketeering in part because the rules for elections have always been in flux. SIGAR noted, “Only one of the country’s election laws has ever been passed by parliament; the rest were presidential decrees that were never referred to the parliament for consideration.” The SIGAR report quoted election experts: “The likelihood of a credible election is inversely proportional to the degree to which the ruling regime directly controls the election management body.”

America has mostly avoided similar debacles because the Founding Fathers included an Elections Clause in the Constitution specifying that the rules for federal elections (president and Congress) “shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” Unfortunately, that constitutional provision was trampled last year in many states. Time magazine recently revealed “the secret history of the 2020 election” – “a well-funded cabal of powerful people… working together behind the scenes to… change rules and laws” to “fortify” democracy. Democratic Party officials and election commission officials appointed by Democrats scorned state law to rewrite the rules for the 2020 election in several swing states. 

A brief filed with the Supreme Court in December by the state of Texas noted, “Michigan’s Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, without legislative approval, unilaterally abrogated Michigan election statutes related to absentee ballot applications” by sending “unsolicited absentee-voter ballot applications by mail to all 7.7 million registered Michigan voters… without verifying voter signatures as required” by state law. The impact was compounded when Democratic officials in the state’s most populous county (including Detroit) “made the policy decision to ignore Michigan’s statutory signature verification requirements for absentee ballots.” Elsewhere, the Wisconsin Elections Commission approved setting up to 500 unmanned ballot drop boxes in major Democratic cities in violation of Wisconsin law. 

Politically-appointed judges effectively overturned state law by mandating new election procedures in several states. In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court invoked a vaporous phrase in the state constitution – “Elections shall be free and equal” – to justify invalidating a state law that prohibited counting mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day; the judges even mandated including late ballots arriving with no postmark. A similar provision was struck down on January 27 by a Virginia circuit court overturning the Virginia Board of Elections’ decree permitting counting mail-in ballots that arrived three days after the election without a postmark.

Elsewhere in the report, SIGAR notes the difficulty of building a viable democracy when elected officials formally receive a license to steal. After noting the hefty bribes that politicians pay to election officials, SIGAR explains: “One reason candidates may be willing to pay such high prices for seats in parliament is to protect ill-gotten fortunes…. By becoming members of parliament, they can gain access to new sources of illicit revenue and immunity from prosecution.” That parliament is the last place on earth to seek a constituency for honest elections. 

Afghanistan also illustrates the perils of computer voting. As one election expert told SIGAR, “There is no difference between stuffing 100 ballots and pressing a button on an electronic voting machine 100 times.” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani decreed that the 2019 election must rely on electronic voting. But SIGAR noted that electronic voting “did not reduce fraud overall; it just displaced it to other parts of the electoral cycle.” Confidence in Afghan electronic voting was not assisted by the secrecy surrounding the software and equipment. After the 2019 presidential election, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission declared that it could not “share information” about how votes were being reconciled because “the contractor, Dermalog, controlled that process.” SIGAR quoted experts who warned that “because governments often control electoral commissions and the procurement of election technology, they are well placed to use it to commit fraud. The introduction of technology can also weaken the ability of political parties and observation groups to detect fraud.”

Luckily, no such problems occurred in the US presidential election last year, as confirmed by the recent billion dollar defamation lawsuits filed by Dominion Voting Systems against its critics. But the SIGAR report did cynically note, “The true purpose of adopting election technologies may not be to actually reduce fraud, but to create the illusion of doing so.”

Perhaps the real Afghan lesson is that there is no “guardian angel of democracy.” Politicians permitting citizens to vote does not assure that election results will receive even a whiff of legitimacy. Once fraud or suspicions of fraud reach a certain level, any election winners will be suspected scoundrels. More than 15 years of corrupt elections in Afghanistan have resulted in a central government with little or no popular support or credibility. A US Army colonel who deployed several times to Afghanistan told SIGAR that as early as 2006, the Afghan government had “self-organized into a kleptocracy.” Officials who were stealing everything else never hesitated to steal votes. The only reason the Afghan government has not yet been toppled by the Taliban is because of the presence of the US military. 

And is there a lesson from the endless lies that US government officials have told about Afghan democracy? At a confidential 2015 National Security Council meeting, President Obama admitted that the US would never “transform Afghanistan into a semblance of a democracy able to defend itself,” the New York Times reported. But that didn’t deter Obama from publicly bragging the following year that US troops and diplomats had helped Afghanistan “establish a democratic government.” Are US government officials more honest when they talk about American democracy than when they praise sham democracies abroad? 

Regardless of any Trump tweets to the contrary, US election processes remain far more credible than Afghanistan’s. But last year’s election was the fourth US presidential election since 2000 that was widely perceived as heavily tainted. When the Supreme Court voted last week not to hear cases challenging arbitrary changes in state election procedures, Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, “The decision to leave election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt is baffling. By doing nothing, we invite further confusion and erosion of voter confidence.” Unfortunately, almost no one is talking of the peril of the “Afghanization” of American democracy.

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Economic Research.]]> Sun, 28 Feb 2021 21:32:18 GMT
The US airstrike on Syria: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, and the boss before that Scott Ritter

In his first publicly acknowledged military act as commander-in-chief, President Joe Biden orders an assault on Syria, and proves that when it comes to solving the many problems of the region, he’s no better than Trump, or Obama.

President Biden ordered US military aircraft to strike targets on Syrian soil that the US claims were affiliated with two pro-Iranian militias, Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. The US, working closely with Iraqi security services, has implicated Iranian-backed Shia militias in a recent rocket attack on a US airbase in Erbil, Iraq, that killed a foreign contractor employed by the US and wounded four American contractors and a US service member. 

A Pentagon spokesperson, John Kirby, called the attack, which was carried out by US F-15E aircraft and killed up to 17 people, a “proportionate military response” designed to send “an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted that the strike was part of a calculated response “using a mix of tools seen and unseen.” Psaki sought to differentiate the actions of the Biden administration from previous airstrikes undertaken during the Trump administration against the exact same target, for precisely the same reasons, a little more than a year ago. “What we will not do,” Psaki noted, “and what we’ve seen in the past, is lash out and risk an escalation that plays into the hands of Iran by further destabilizing Iraq.”

So that’s all clear and ok, then…or is it?

Airstrikes in the time of Trump

Back in December 2019, then-President Trump ordered US forces to strike targets located in and around the town of Abu Kamal, on the Syrian side of the Syria-Iraq border, opposite the Iraqi town of Al Qaim. The Syrian garrison at Abu Kamal had been reinforced by pro-Iranian Iraqi militias, in particular Kataib Hezbollah, in an effort to cut off forces affiliated with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) trapped in Syria from their base of support in Iraq. Abu Kamal was also an important logistics support hub for supplies trucked in from Iran to pro-Iranian forces operating inside Syria.

The US airstrike on Christmas Day 2019 was ordered by President Trump in retaliation for a rocket attack on a US airbase at K-1, in Kurdish-controlled Iraq, that killed a US civilian contractor. 

While the US blamed Iran and Kataib Hezbollah for the attack, Iraqi security forces believed that the real perpetrators were Iraqi insurgents sympathetic to IS. The airstrikes on Abu Kamal reportedly killed at least 25 militiamen and wounded 55 more, setting off a wave of protests inside Iraq which culminated in a mob overrunning parts of the US Embassy compound in Baghdad.

The US responded to the assault on the embassy by dispatching thousands of troops into the region, and ordering the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force which oversees cooperation between Iran and pro-Iranian militias, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of the Popular Mobilization Committee, an umbrella organization under which Kataib Hezbollah fell. 

These two murders prompted a retaliatory strike by Iran against a US airbase inside Iraq that injured more than 100 American servicemembers, and brought Iran and the US to the brink of war. It was this cycle of escalation that Jen Psaki was referring to in her statement following the Biden-ordered airstrike of February 25.

It's Joe time

While Kirby and Psaki have both espoused an official Biden administration position that tries to differentiate itself from the actions and policies of its predecessor, the reality is that the actions of the Biden administration, in bombing Syria, are just as ill-informed and wrong-headed as those which brought the US and Iran to the brink of war in early 2020. 

Like the Trump administration before him, Biden and his advisers have shown that they are just as capable of misreading the facts on the ground in the Middle East, drawing the wrong conclusions, and developing solutions that only exacerbate an already dangerous situation. “We know what we hit,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin commented after the attack. “We’re confident that the target was being used by the same Shia militia that conducted the strikes.”

Austin’s confidence, however, does not jive with the facts. The Iraqi militias stationed at Abu Kamal denied any involvement in the Erbil rocket attacks (indeed, both are affiliated with the Iraqi government, having been officially absorbed into the Iraqi security services). 

The militia that did claim responsibility, Awliya al-Dam, was formed in the aftermath of the assassination of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, from militia members belonging to Kaitab Hezbollah splitting from that organization in order to exact revenge against the US once it became clear that Kaitab Hezbollah would follow the instructions of the Iraqi government to not escalate the situation further. 

While US intelligence believes that Awliya al-Dam was created to give Kaitab Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian militias plausible deniability regarding continued rocket attacks against US targets inside Iraq, regional experts believe that the split is genuine, and that the actions of Awliya al-Dam cannot be conflated with Kaitab Hezbollah or any other pro-Iranian militia operating as part of the Iraqi security services.

Compounding concerns that the US, by bombing Iraqi militias based in Syria whose mission is to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State, is once again seeking a solution to a problem it has incompetently defined, is the fact that the Biden administration has sought to color the February 25 airstrike as a “message” to Iran regarding other regional events which have nothing whatsoever to do with either the attack on Erbil, or the forces based in Abu Kamal that were bombed by the US in retaliation. 

The Syrian government condemned the US airstrike, noting that the attack came at the same time that the Syrian Army and the Iraqi militias based in Abu Kamal were engaged in ongoing operations against Islamic State.

An optics nightmare

The complete lack of recognition by the Biden administration regarding the optics of being seen to be giving air support to IS escapes those who have articulated in favor of the assault. 

The same applies to the seeming disconnect between those who view the Biden-ordered air attack as a measure designed to rein in Iranian regional malfeasance while keeping open the door for diplomatic engagement regarding Iran’s nuclear program. 

Iran has been critical in the past of the US’ willingness to violate both international and US domestic law when it comes to pursuing policies aimed at keeping Iran in its place. If nuclear talks with Iran are to have any chance of succeeding, the Biden administration will need to convince the Iranian authorities that, unlike the Trump administration, the current iteration of the US government can be expected to obey the law and keep its word.

The US airstrike on Abu Kamal, however, makes a mockery of any such notion. Not only has the Biden administration mirrored the incompetence of the Trump administration when it comes to articulating a compelling reason for striking the targets it did, but its actions fly in the face of the stated moral and legal standards that senior members of the Biden administration had previously espoused when criticizing the actions of the Trump administration.

In 2017, Jen Psaki questioned the “legal authority” for airstrikes on Syria ordered by Trump in retaliation for thinly sourced allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government. “Assad is a brutal dictator,” Psaki tweeted, “But Syria is a sovereign country.” And in 2018, then-Senator Kamala Harris, commenting on a second round of airstrikes against Syria ordered by the Trump administration, tweeted that she was “deeply concerned about the legal rationale” behind the US use of military force.

Each tweet could be resent today.

And let’s not even go back to the president twice-removed, Biden’s old boss Barack Obama, the man who came to office pledging to end George W. Bush’s wars, but whose last year in office saw America drop 26,171 bombs, many of them on Syria.

Deafening silence

The silence that exists inside Washington, DC regarding the legality of the new US airstrikes against targets inside Syria (a “sovereign nation”, as Jen Psaki once astutely observed) is deafening. 

It is too early to tell what impact, if any, the illegal US attack on Syria will have on US-Iranian nuclear negotiations, or whether this attack will trigger yet another cycle of escalating retaliatory violence that could push those two nations to war. 

One thing is certain, however – the Biden administration is no different than its predecessor when it comes to incompetently executing policies that fly in the face of both international and US law. To quote The Who’s Roger Daltry, “Meet the new boss – same as the old boss.”

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]> Sat, 27 Feb 2021 16:41:51 GMT
Can Anthony Fauci Legally Accept His Million Dollar Prize? Adam Dick

Last week, it was reported that Anthony Fauci, the director of the United States government’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the chief medical advisor for President Joe Biden, was chosen to receive a Dan David Prize. Included in the award is a one million dollars payment, ten percent of which is set aside for scholarships to be given out at Fauci’s direction while the rest is available for Fauci to use as he pleases. As made clear in the announcement of Fauci’s selection for the prize associated with Tel Aviv University in Israel, Fauci was chosen for the prize because of his decades of “public health” work, including related to coronavirus, as a US government employee.

Upon hearing about the prize awarded to Fauci, an obvious question arises: Is it legal for Fauci to accept it? There must be some strict rules governing third parties giving money to US government employees, especially when that money is given because of how a US government employee does his job. Such payments can be used to reward an employee for taking actions the third party desires or to encourage the employee to take certain actions in the future. A big concern is that third party payments to government employees can buy influence.

Fauci, over the last year, has been the most prominent US government employee stirring up fear of coronavirus and support for clamping down on freedom in the name of countering coronavirus. All the while he has been paid by the US government. In fact, Fauci, who has been receiving US government paychecks as an NIAID employee since 1968, has a yearly salary of over 400 thousand dollars. That salary ranks Fauci as the highest paid employee of the entire US government.

Even considering Fauci’s high level of pay, the Dan David Prize money is a big deal, coming in at over twice Fauci’s yearly pay. If a third party really wanted to buy influence from Fauci, payment of the amount of money that comes with the Dan David Prize would be a logical way to attempt it.

Buying influence is not the reason that has been offered for why the prize was awarded. Still, an assurance that everything is on the up and up is not sufficient to satisfy government rules regarding third party payments to US government employees.

While there are additional statutes and regulations that pertain to third parties giving gifts to US government employees, a good place to start in examining how the legality of Fauci receiving the Dan David Prize would be to look at the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch provisions in the Code of Federal Regulations.

It should be kept in mind, though, that there are plenty of additional laws and regulations that may be relevant in scrutinizing the legality of Fauci receiving the large monetary award. This is made clear when the following is stated in the employee ethical conduct provisions:
Related statutes. In addition to the standards of ethical conduct set forth in this part, there are conflict of interest statutes that prohibit certain conduct. Criminal conflict of interest statutes of general applicability to all employees, 18 U.S.C. 201, 203, 205, 208, and 209, are summarized in the appropriate subparts of this part and must be taken into consideration in determining whether conduct is proper. Citations to other generally applicable statutes relating to employee conduct are set forth in subpart I and employees are further cautioned that there may be additional statutory and regulatory restrictions applicable to them generally or as employees of their specific agencies. Because an employee is considered to be on notice of the requirements of any statute, an employee should not rely upon any description or synopsis of a statutory restriction, but should refer to the statute itself and obtain the advice of an agency ethics official as needed.
The provisions further note that a US government employee must also “comply with any supplemental agency regulations issued by his employing agency under this section.”

The first thing stated in the employee ethical conduct provisions is the following:
Public service is a public trust. Each employee has a responsibility to the United States Government and its citizens to place loyalty to the Constitution, laws and ethical principles above private gain. To ensure that every citizen can have complete confidence in the integrity of the Federal Government, each employee shall respect and adhere to the principles of ethical conduct set forth in this section, as well as the implementing standards contained in this part and in supplemental agency regulations.
This statement puts forward a basic standard that carries through the provisions: US executive branch employees are restricted in their pursuit of private gain when it conflicts with doing their jobs ethically and in compliance with US law. They are also directed to follow the guidelines detailed in the remainder of the employee ethical conduct provisions. Notably, the purpose given of promoting “complete confidence in the integrity of the Federal Government” suggests a concern also about the appearance of impropriety that can arise even when nobody is intending to take a wrongful action.

The provisions next list several “general principles.” Listed general principles that may be relevant in the consideration of the propriety of Fauci receiving the Dan David Prize include principle seven (“Employees shall not use public office for private gain.”), principle eight (“Employees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.”), and principle ten (“Employees shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with official Government duties and responsibilities.”).

Principle 14 deals with the appearance of improper conduct. It states:
Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part. Whether particular circumstances create an appearance that the law or these standards have been violated shall be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts.
The fourth general principal seems on point for an examination of Fauci’s receipt of the Dan Davis Prize. That principle is stated as follows:
An employee shall not, except as permitted by subpart B of this part, solicit or accept any gift or other item of monetary value from any person or entity seeking official action from, doing business with, or conducting activities regulated by the employee's agency, or whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee's duties.
This principle indicates that an important determination to make in considering the acceptability of Fauci receiving the Dan David Prize is the nature of the interests and activities of the people and entities behind both the prize and the decision to award the prize to Fauci.

Looking a “Subpart B—Gifts from Outside Sources” that is referenced in the fourth general principle, plenty of details about restrictions on third party payments are found.

Subpart B provides this general prohibition relevant to Fauci receiving the Dan David Prize:
(b) Prohibition on accepting gifts. Except as provided in this subpart, an employee may not, directly or indirectly:

(1) Accept a gift from a prohibited source; or

(2) Accept a gift given because of the employee's official position.
This definition is provided for the key term “prohibited source”:
(d) Prohibited source means any person who:

(1) Is seeking official action by the employee's agency;

(2) Does business or seeks to do business with the employee's agency;

(3) Conducts activities regulated by the employee's agency;

(4) Has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee's official duties; or

(5) Is an organization a majority of whose members are described in paragraphs (d)(1) through (4) of this section.
And “given because of the employee's official position” is defined as follows:
(e) Given because of the employee's official position. A gift is given because of the employee's official position if the gift is from a person other than an employee and would not have been given had the employee not held the status, authority, or duties associated with the employee's Federal position.
Investigation into the Dan David Prize and the people behind it would need to be conducted to determine if Fauci receiving the award would involve a prohibited source problem. But, it seems that the gift independently falls under the general prohibition because it is being given because of Fauci’s official position as a US government employee.

If the award is, at it seems it is, generally prohibited for Fauci to accept, the next step is to consider if acceptance may be allowable due to receipt of the award fitting in one of several exceptions.

The first listed exception applies only to certain gifts with a market value of less than 20 dollars. Fauci’s award exceeds that limit by a factor of 50,000. So there is no safe harbor there.

The second listed exception involves gifts “motivated by a family relationship or personal friendship rather than the position of the employee.” That also does not seem to apply. The award offered to Fauci appears to not be from friends or family and does appear to be made because of actions Fauci has taken in his employment with the US government.

The third listed exception relates to certain types of discounts a government employee may be offered. Fauci is being offered money, not discounts. So this exception seems to not apply.

The fourth listed exception, though, appears to be relevant to the examination of the propriety of Fauci’s receiving the Dan David Prize. This exception states:
(d) Awards and honorary degrees—(1) Awards. An employee may accept a bona fide award for meritorious public service or achievement and any item incident to the award, provided that:

(i) The award and any item incident to the award are not from a person who has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee's official duties, or from an association or other organization if a majority of its members have such interests; and

(ii) If the award or any item incident to the award is in the form of cash or an investment interest, or if the aggregate value of the award and any item incident to the award, other than free attendance to the event provided to the employee and to members of the employee's family by the sponsor of the event, exceeds $200, the agency ethics official has made a written determination that the award is made as part of an established program of recognition.
An “established program of recognition” is defined as follows:
(2) Established program of recognition. An award and an item incident to the award are made pursuant to an established program of recognition if:

(i) Awards have been made on a regular basis or, if the program is new, there is a reasonable basis for concluding that awards will be made on a regular basis based on funding or funding commitments; and

(ii) Selection of award recipients is made pursuant to written standards.
It would require investigation into the people behind the Dan David Prize to determine if the first part of this exception is met. Supposing the first part of the exception were satisfied under such an examination, attention would then turn to the second part of the exception, Given that Fauci’s award value is higher, indeed much higher, than 200 dollars, the written approval mentioned in the second part of the exception would then seem to be required under the employee ethical conduct provisions before Fauci could receive the Dan David Prize in accord with the employee ethical conduct provisions.

Even if such written permission is provided and the award meets all other applicable legal requirements in the employee ethical conduct provisions and elsewhere, there seems to still be a strong argument that Fauci should not accept the award that amounts to over twice his annual salary as a government employee and that is offered because of actions he took as a government employee. That argument is well stated in the employee ethical conduct provisions: “Even though acceptance of a gift may be permitted by one of the exceptions contained in this section, it is never inappropriate and frequently prudent for an employee to decline a gift if acceptance would cause a reasonable person to question the employee's integrity or impartiality.”]]> Sat, 27 Feb 2021 14:55:34 GMT
Imperial Folly: Neil Ferguson Has No Qualification in Biological Sciences 21st Century Wire

This is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary stories of the entire ‘global pandemic’ which has turned the world upside down over the twelve months.

In an article published by Lockdown Skeptics by Derek Winton entitled, The Imperial Model and its Role in the UK’s Pandemic Response, the author rightly calls into questions to relevant scientific experience of who is arguably the UK government’s most consequential science advisor of the COVID crisis – the notorious Neil Ferguson from Imperial College.

Indeed, it was Ferguson who created the original fictional scenario which was used to convince the government and mainstream media that COVID would somehow cause over 500,000 deaths in Britain unless the government ‘acted swiftly’ to institute harsh ‘mitigation’ measures such as lockdowns, or as Freddie Sayers of UnHerd describes, a “forecast that in a scenario without interventions, 81% of the UK population would become infected, and that 0.9% of them would die, ie 510,000 fatalities. That, famously, was the scenario that bounced the UK government into changing its approach.”

Like with previous pandemic scares, Ferguson was not even close, and yet here we are again. The lockdowns that followed last March have decimated the British economy and society, and in only 12 months has nearly destroyed the country’s education system. It has led to one totalitarian policy after another, and with no end in sight – even though the alleged ‘novel’ coronavirus in question was only a seasonal respiratory virus, and as proven statistically now – this coronavirus not at all lethal or a danger to the general population, as it only seemed to adversely affect the elderly with multiple chronic health conditions.

Despite his epics failures, he still sits on the government’s venerated SAGE science conclave. Not surprisingly, these high priests of The Science have been wrong about every aspect of the pandemic since day one of the crisis. But it’s not just problems with performance and competency, there is also the question of expertise. What makes Ferguson an expert on viruses?

It is here that Winton questions his qualifications, commenting, “The expertise of an expert is entirely relevant, indeed arguably it’s the only thing that is relevant. So let’s look at the qualifications of our expert.”

As it turns out, Ferguson hold no formal qualifications at all in the biological sciences – not as a microbiologist, a virologist, nor as an epidemiologist or biological statistician. Instead he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics (1990) from Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford, followed by his Doctorate of Philosophy in theoretical physics (1994) form Linacre College, in Oxford. So claims in the media which repeated describe Ferguson as ‘one of the country’s top epidemiologists’ – are quite misleading. While Ferguson has worked on lots of computer modelling and abstract simulations for various epidemics (and wildly inaccurate on many of them), he is not at all qualified to warrant any authoritative caché in field of biological science. He shouldn’t be anyway, and yet he is. It’s a strange situation to say the least.

As with so many thing in media and government, it seems nobody bothered to check.

Winton reveals, “In an interview on the BBC’s Life Scientific, Ferguson conceded to not having an A-level in Biology. As far as publicly available information is accurate, he appears to have no formal training in computer modelling, medicine or epidemiology either.”

But it’s actually much worse than that. Many recoiled in horror after another Times in December 2020 when Ferguson openly admitted that he was guided (inspired?) by the unprecedented actions of the Chinese Communist Party who invented the brutal ‘lockdown’ method of social control to supposedly contain COVID in Wuhan province in early 2020.

“I think people’s sense of what is possible in terms of control changed quite dramatically between January and March,” he said.

According to Ferguson, both he and and the UK government’s increasingly shaky SAGE science committee regarded China experimental totalitarian lockdown policy as “innovative intervention”:

“It’s a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought… and then Italy did it. And we realised we could.”

“If China had not done it,” he said, “the year would have been very different.”

This proves beyond any doubt that this science team entrusted by the UK government actually had no idea what they were doing at the time, and that there was no scientific basis at all for instituting draconian lockdown measures. It was all guesswork policy, and highly destructive at that. Policy which remains in place to this day.

As it turns out, important parts of the celebrated computer model which Ferguson used to invent the outlandish death predictions was not even fit for purpose. Among other problems, it completely left out seasonality as a variable in projecting the progress of a pandemic.

Lockdown Skeptics and author Derek Winton go on to chronicle some of Ferguson’s other past failure, leading even the casual observer to question how it was possible that he has been allowed to be involved in any government advisory position.

Other epidemics:

Prediction / projection: BSE - “The Imperial College team, whose work is published on the website of the journal Nature, predicts the future number of deaths from vCJD due to BSE in beef was likely to lie between 50 and 50,000.” – Daily Mail
“But Dr. Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist in another group of highly respected researchers led by Dr. Roy Anderson at Imperial College in London, said the new estimates were ”unjustifiably optimistic.” His group published estimates a year ago predicting that the number of variant C.J.D. cases might reach 136,000 in coming decades.” – New York Times Oct 31st 2001

Reality: A total of 2826 people have died from CJD over 30 years – National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit, The University of Edinburgh

Prediction / projection: Bird Flu ( H7N9) - “Last month Neil Ferguson, a professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, told Guardian Unlimited that up to 200 million people could be killed.” – The Guardian Sep 30th 2005

Reality: “Since 2013 there have been 1,568 human cases of bird flu and 616 deaths worldwide from the H7N9 strain.” – The Express Dec 7th 2020

Prediction / projection: Swine flu (H1N1) - “In 2009, Ferguson and his Imperial team predicted that swine flu had a case fatality rate 0.3 per cent to 1.5 per cent. His most likely estimate was that the mortality rate was 0.4 per cent. A government estimate, based on Ferguson’s advice, said a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ was that the disease would lead to 65,000 UK deaths.” Spectator 16th April 2020

Reality: “457 people are known to have died during the pandemic in the UK as of 18 March 2010” – Independent review of the UK response to the 2009 influenza pandemic – 1st July 2010

In addition to these debacles, Ferguson as goaded the British government with outrageous predictions about the disastrous Foot and Mouth disease crisis – which sparked the mass-culling of farm animals during the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic which cost the country billions of pounds, with most rural areas never recovering from the over-the-top government intervention.

Incompetent and unqualified, and he’s still employed. That’s your pandemic in a nutshell.

Reprinted with permission from 21st Century Wire.]]> Fri, 26 Feb 2021 17:14:42 GMT
US Bombs Syria and Ridiculously Claims Self Defense Caitlin Johnstone

On orders of President Biden, the United States has launched an airstrike on a facility in Syria. As of this writing the exact number of killed and injured is unknown, with early reports claiming “a handful” of people were killed.

Rather than doing anything remotely resembling journalism, the Western mass media have opted instead to uncritically repeat what they’ve been told about the airstrike by US officials, which is the same as just publishing Pentagon press releases.

Here’s this from the Washington Post:
The Biden administration conducted an airstrike against alleged Iranian-linked fighters in Syria on Thursday, signaling its intent to push back against violence believed to be sponsored by Tehran.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the attack, the first action ordered by the Biden administration to push back against alleged Iranian-linked violence in Iraq and Syria, on a border control point in eastern Syria was 'authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats.'

He said the facilities were used by Iranian-linked militias including Kaitib Hezbollah and Kaitib Sayyid al-Shuhada.

The operation follows the latest serious attack on US locations in Iraq that American officials have attributed to Iranian-linked groups operating in Iraq and Syria. Earlier this month, a rocket attack in northern Iraq killed a contractor working with the US military and injured a US service member there.
So we are being told that the United States launched an airstrike on Syria, a nation it invaded and is illegally occupying, because of attacks on “US locations” in Iraq, another nation the US invaded and is illegally occupying. This attack is justified on the basis that the Iraqi fighters were “Iranian-linked,” a claim that is both entirely without evidence and irrelevant to the justification of deadly military force. And this is somehow being framed in mainstream news publications as a defensive operation.

This is Defense Department stenography. The US military is an invading force in both Syria and Iraq; it is impossible for its actions in either of those countries to be defensive. It is always necessarily the aggressor. It’s the people trying to eject them who are acting defensively. The deaths of US troops and contractors in those countries can only be blamed on the powerful people who sent them there.

The US is just taking it as a given that it has de facto jurisdiction over the nations of Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and that any attempt to interfere in its authority in the region is an unprovoked attack which must be defended against. This is completely backwards and illegitimate. Only through the most perversely warped American supremacist reality tunnels can it look valid to dictate the affairs of sovereign nations on the other side of the planet and respond with violence if anyone in those nations tries to eject them.
It’s illegitimate for the US to be in the Middle East at all. It’s illegitimate for the US to claim to be acting defensively in nations it invaded. It’s illegitimate for the US to act like Iranian-backed fighters aren’t allowed to be in Syria, where they are fighting alongside the Syrian government against ISIS and other extremist militias with the permission of Damascus. It is illegitimate for the US to claim the fighters attacking US personnel in Iraq are controlled by Iran when Iraqis have every reason to want the US out of their country themselves.

Even the official narrative reveals itself as illegitimate from within its own worldview. CNN reports that the site of the airstrike “was not specifically tied to the rocket attacks” in Iraq, and a Reuters/AP report says “Biden administration officials condemned the February 15 rocket attack near the city of Irbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish-run region, but as recently as this week officials indicated they had not determined for certain who carried it out.”

This is all so very typical of the American supremacist worldview that is being aggressively shoved down our throats by all Western mainstream news media. The US can bomb who it likes, whenever it likes, and when it does it is only ever doing so in self-defense, because the entire planet is the property of Washington, DC. It can seize control of entire clusters of nations, and if any of those nations resist in any way, they are invading America’s sovereignty.

It’s like if you broke into your neighbor’s house to rob him, killed him when he tried to stop you, and then claimed self-defense because you consider his home your property. Only in the American exceptionalist alternate universe is this considered normal and acceptable.

This sort of nonsense is why it’s so important to prioritize opposition to Western imperialism. World warmongering and domination is the front upon which all the most egregious evils inflicted by the powerful take place, and it plays such a crucial role in upholding the power structures we are up against. Without endless war, the oligarchic empire which is the cause of so much of our suffering cannot function, and must give way to something else. If you’re looking to throw sand in the gears of the machine, anti-imperialism is your most efficacious path toward that end, and should therefore be your priority.

In America especially it is important to oppose war and imperialism, because an entire empire depends on keeping the locals too poor and propagandized to force their nation’s resources to go to their own wellbeing. As long as the United States functions as the hub of a globe-spanning power structure, all the progressive agendas that are being sought by what passes for the US left these days will be denied them. Opposing warmongering must come first.

Standing against imperialism and American supremacism cuts directly to the heart of our difficulties in this world, which is why so much energy goes into keeping us focused on identity politics and vapid energy sucks which inconvenience the powerful in no way whatsoever. If you want to out-wrestle a crocodile, you must bind shut its mouth. If you want to take down a globe-spanning empire, you must take out its weapons. Opposing warmongering and killing public trust in the propaganda used to justify it is the best way to do this.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]> Fri, 26 Feb 2021 16:48:52 GMT
Did Hand-Washing Kill The Flu? Daniel McAdams
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In Final Days, Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files, Nunes Prober Says Aaron Maté

After four years of railing against “deep state” actors who, he said, tried to undermine his presidency, Donald Trump relented to US intelligence leaders in his final days in office, allowing them to block the release of critical material in the Russia investigation, according to a former senior congressional investigator who later joined the Trump administration.

Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth US intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials "continuously impeded" their release – usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump's CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents, he said.

Patel, who has seen the Russia probe's underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI's work.

"I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn't look good on the agency itself," Patel told RealClearInvestigations in his first in-depth interview since leaving government at the end of Trump's term last month, having served in several intelligence and defense roles (full interview here).

Trump did not respond to requests seeking comment sent to intermediaries.

Although a Department of Justice inspector general's report in December 2019 exposed significant intelligence failings and malpractice, Patel said more damning information is still being kept under wraps. And despite an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the conduct of the officials who carried out the Trump-Russia inquiry, it is unclear if key documents will ever see the light of day.

Patel did not suggest that a game-changing smoking gun is being kept from the public. Core intelligence failures have been exposed – especially regarding the FBI’s reliance on Christopher Steele’s now debunked dossier to secure FISA warrants used to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But he said the withheld material would reveal more misconduct as well as major problems with the CIA’s assessment that Russia, on Vladimir Putin's orders, ordered a sweeping and systematic interference 2016 campaign to elect Trump. Patel was cautious about going into detail on any sensitive information that has not yet been declassified. 

‘Continuously Impeded’ in Public Disclosure 

Patel's work on the House Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of its former Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, is widely credited with exposing the FBI's reliance on Steele and misrepresentations to the FISA court. Yet congressional Democrats and major media outlets portrayed him as a behind-the-scenes saboteur who sought to "discredit" the Russia investigation. 

The media vitriol unnerved Patel, who had previously served as a national security official in the Obama-era Justice Department and Pentagon – a tenure that exceeds his time working under Trump. Patel says that ensuring public disclosure of critical information in such a consequential national security investigation motivated him to take the job in the first place.

"The agreement I made with Devin, I said, 'Okay, I don't really want to go to the Hill, but I'll do the job on one basis: accountability and disclosure," Patel said. "Everything we find, I don't care if it's good or bad or whatever, from your political perspective, we put it out.' So the American public can just read it themselves, with a few protections here and there for some certain national security measures, but those are minimal redactions."

That task proved difficult. The House Intelligence Committee's disclosure efforts, Patel said, "were continuously impeded by members of the intelligence community themselves, with the same singular epithets that you're going to harm sources and methods. … And I just highlight that because, we didn't lose a single source. We didn't lose a single relationship, and no one died by the public disclosures we made because we did it in a systematic and professional fashion."

"But each time we forced them to produce [documents],” Patel added, “it only showed their coverup and embarrassment." These key revelations he helped expose include Justice official Bruce Ohr's admission that he acted as a liaison to Steele even after the FBI officially terminated him; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's false statements about leaks related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation; and the FBI's reliance on the Steele dossier to spy on Page. "There is actually a law that prevents the FBI and DOJ from failing to disclose material to a court just to hide an embarrassment or mistake, and it came up during our investigation. It helped us compel disclosure."

Assessing the ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ 

For Patel, a key document that remains hidden from the public is the full report he helped prepare and which Trump chose not to declassify after pressure from the intelligence community: The House Intelligence Committee report about the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA).

The ICA is a foundational Russiagate document. Released just two weeks before Trump's inauguration, it asserted that Russia waged an interference campaign to help defeat Hillary Clinton. Despite widespread media accounts that the ICA reflected the consensus view of all 17 US intelligence agencies, it was a rushed job completed in a few weeks by a small group of CIA analysts led by then-CIA Director John Brennan, who merely consulted with FBI and NSA counterparts. The NSA even dissented from a key judgment that Russia and Putin specifically aimed to help install Trump, expressing only "moderate confidence."

The March 2018 House report found that the production of the ICA “deviated from established CIA practice.” And the core judgment that Putin sought to help Trump, the House report found, resulted from "significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the ICA judgments."

Along with that March 2018 report, Patel and his intelligence committee colleagues produced a still-classified document that fleshed out the ICA's "tradecraft failings" in greater detail.

"We went and looked at it [the ICA], and looked at the underlying evidence and cables, and talked to the people who did it," Patel says. According to Patel, the ICA's flaws begin with the unprecedentedly short window of time in which it was produced during the final days of the Obama White House. "In two to three weeks, you can't have a comprehensive investigation of anything, in terms of interference and cybersecurity matters."

Patel said that still classified information undermines another key claim – that Russia ordered a cyber-hacking campaign to help Trump. The March 2018 House report noted that the ICA's judgments, "particularly on the cyber intrusion sections, employed appropriate caveats on sources and identified assumptions," but those were drowned out by partisan insistence that Russia was the culprit.

Constrained from discussing the material, Patel said its release "would lend a lot of credence to" skepticism about the Mueller report's claim that Russia waged a "sweeping and systematic" interference campaign to install Trump.

That skepticism was bolstered in July 2019 when the Mueller team was reprimanded by a US District judge for falsely suggesting in its final report that a Russian social media firm acted in concert with the Kremlin. (Mueller's prosecutors later dropped the case against the outfit.)

"We had multiple versions, with redactions, at different levels of classifications we were willing to release," Patel said. "But that was unfortunately the one report, which speaks directly to [an absence of concrete evidence] that's still sitting in a safe, classified. And unfortunately, the American public – unless Biden acts – won't see it."

Confirming earlier media reports from late last year, Patel says it was Trump's CIA Director Gina Haspel who personally thwarted the House report's release. The report sits in a safe at CIA headquarters in Langley. "The CIA has possession of it, and POTUS chose not to put it out," Patel says. He does not know why.

'Outrageous' Reliance on CrowdStrike

Another key set of documents that the public has yet to see are reports by Democratic National Committee cyber-contractor CrowdStrike – reports the FBI relied on to accuse Russia of hacking the DNC. The FBI bowed to the DNC’s refusal to hand over its servers for analysis, a decision that Patel finds "outrageous."

"The FBI, who are the experts in looking at servers and exploiting this information so that the intelligence community can digest it and understand what happened, did not have access to the DNC servers in their entirety," Patel said. "For some outrageous reason the FBI agreed to having CrowdStrike be the referee as to what it could and could not exploit, and could and could not look at."

According Patel, Crowdstrike CEO Shawn Henry, a former top FBI official under Mueller, "totally took advantage of the situation to the unfortunate shortcoming of the American public."

CrowdStrike’s credibility suffered a major blow in May 2020 with the disclosure of an explosive admission from Henry that had been kept under wraps for nearly three years. In December 2017 testimony before the House Intel Committee showed he had acknowledged that his firm "did not have concrete evidence" that Russian hackers removed any data, including private emails, from the DNC servers. 

"We wanted those depositions declassified immediately after we took them," Patel recalled. But the committee was "thwarted," he says, by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under Dan Coats, and later by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff once Democrats took control of Congress in January 2018. According to Patel, Schiff "didn't want some of these transcripts to come out. And that was just extremely frustrating.” Working with Coats' successor, Richard Grenell, Patel ultimately forced the release of the Henry transcript and dozens of others last year. 

Still classified, however, are the full CrowdStrike reports relied on by the FBI, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Patel said their release would underscore Henry’s admission while raising new questions about why the government used reports from DNC contractors – the other being Fusion GPS' Steele dossier – for a consequential national security case involving a rival Republican campaign.

Doubting Reliability of CIA's Kremlin Mole

The CIA relied on another questionable source for its assertion that Putin personally ordered and orchestrated an interference campaign to elect Trump: a purported mole inside the Kremlin. The mole has been outed as Oleg Smolenkov, a mid-level Kremlin official who fled Russia in 2017 for the United States where he lives under his own name. According to the New York Times, some CIA officials harbored doubts about Smolenkov's "trustworthiness."

Patel said he could not comment on whether he believes Smolenkov relayed credible information to the CIA. "I'm sort of in a bind on this one, still, with all the classified information I looked at, and the declassifications we've requested, but have not yet been granted."

Patel did suggest, however, that those who have raised skepticism about the CIA's reliance on Smolenkov are "rightly" trying to "get to the bottom" of the story. "But until that ICA product that we created, and some of the other documents are finally revealed – if I start talking about them, then I'm probably going to get the FBI knocking at my door."

Will Key Documents Be Released?

On his last full day in office, President Trump ordered the declassification of an additional binder of material from the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia probe, Crossfire Hurricane. A source familiar with the documents covered under the declassification order confirmed to RealClearInvestigations that it does not contain the House committee’s assessment of the January 2017 that Patel wants released. Nor does it contain any of the CrowdStrike reports used by the FBI.

In addition to those closely guarded documents, Patel thinks that there is even more to learn about the fraudulent surveillance warrants on Carter Page. The public should see "the entire subject portion" of the final Carter Page FISA warrant, Patel said, as well as "the underlying source verification reporting" in which the FBI tried to justify it, despite relying on the Steele dossier. By reading what the FBI "used to prop up that FISA, the American public can see what a bunch of malarkey it was that they were relying on," Patel added. "The American public needs to know about and read for themselves and make their own determination as to why their government allowed this to happen. Knowingly.

"And that's not castigating an entire agency. We're not disparaging the entire FBI because of Peter Strzok [the FBI agent dismissed, in part, because of anti-Trump bias] and his crew of miscreants. Same thing goes for the intelligence community. If they did some shoddy tradecraft, the American public has a right to know about it in an investigation involving the presidential election."

Reprinted with permission from Real Clear Investigations.]]> Thu, 25 Feb 2021 15:00:53 GMT
Cuomo and the Failure of Covid Absolutism James Bovard

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is falling from grace at epic speed. His administration is now the target of a Justice Department probe for policies that resulted in the death of one out of eight nursing home residents in the state. Regardless of whether the New York legislature impeaches Cuomo, the standard he championed poses a continuing peril. 

From the start of the Covid pandemic, the media idolized Cuomo for his “safety through absolute power” mantra. Last March 20, Cuomo imposed a statewide lockdown on 20 million New Yorkers, closing schools and businesses. Cuomo labeled his decree a “pause” and declared: “If everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.” At that point, most counties in New York state had five or fewer people who have tested positive for coronavirus. 

Cuomo’s “just one life” standard for lockdowns should have obliterated his credibility. Instead, Cuomo’s maxim was treated as a triumph of idealism and benevolence. Cuomo’s power grab was enabled by media allies that fanned hysteria. As AIER editorial director Jeffrey Tucker recently noted, the New York Times’ Donald G. McNeil Jr. “was the first reporter from a major media venue to stir up virus panic and advocate for extreme lockdown measures… The Times allowed its voice to be used to promote a primal and primitive disease panic, which they surely knew would create a cultural/political frenzy.” Presidential candidate Joe Biden hailed Cuomo last Spring for setting the “gold standard” for leadership on Covid. 

After Cuomo swayed the New York legislature to give him “authorization of absolute power,” as the New Yorker declared, he issued scores of decrees, including one compelling nursing homes to admit Covid-infected patients and permitting Covid-infected staffers to keep working at those homes. A New York democratic legislator said that Cuomo was “inclined towards tyranny. But in a crisis that’s what people want.” 

A New Yorker profile, entitled “Andrew Cuomo, King of New York,” explained that Cuomo and his aides saw the battle over Covid policy as “between people who believe government can be a force for good and those who think otherwise.” For many liberals and much of the nation’s media, placing people under house arrest, padlocking schools, bankrupting business, and causing two million people to lose their jobs vindicated government as “a force for good.” 

MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace declared that Cuomo is “everything Trump isn’t: honest, direct, brave.” Entertainment Weekly hailed Cuomo as “the hero that America never realized it needed until he was on our television screens every night.” As National Review recently noted, local reporters failed to ask questions on his nursing home edict “for months, as the governor held his much-praised daily press briefings about the pandemic. There were literally hundreds of hours of Cuomo press conferences in the first half of 2020 where not a single question was asked about nursing homes.” 

The docile media paved the way to Cuomo winning an Emmy award for his “masterful use of television” during the pandemic. The media’s valorization of Cuomo helped make his self-tribute book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, a bestseller. 

Cuomo has always known how to milk the media. When he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he explained to the Washington Post in 1999 how he would fix HUD’s dismal image: “The PR is the most important thing I do … Eighty percent of the battle is communications.” (I christened Cuomo as “the Clinton administration’s most megalomaniacal cabinet secretary in a 2000 American Spectator piece titled, “Andy At It Again: How to Keep Reinventing HUD to Advance Yourself.”) Flash forward to last June, and Cuomo prematurely issued a poster celebrating his and New York state’s victory over Covid. The political art (sold for $14.50 plus shipping and handling) featured a steep mountain symbolizing the rise and fall of Covid cases. The poster was plastered with insipid phrases such as “The sun on the other side, “The power of ‘We,'” “Winds of Fear,” “Follow the Facts,” and “Love Community Support,” and included a jibe against Trump. Though poster sales failed to deter second and third waves of Covid outbreaks, the PR campaign further encouraged the media to focus on Cuomo’s words instead of his deeds. 

During the pandemic, “legitimacy” came not from adhering to the US and state Constitutions but from continually invoking “science and data,” as Cuomo did. . Cuomo’s entitlement to absolute power came from modeling concocted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a Washington State-based institution bankrolled by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As investigative journalist Jordan Schachtel noted last week in an AIER analysis, IHME forecasts presumed a death rate 30 times higher than the rate that actually occurred. That horrendous miscalculation sufficed for one governor after another to nullify Americans’ freedom with lockdown orders. Absurd statistical extrapolations forecasting future harm made tyranny irrelevant. 

Cuomo describes himself as a “great progressive,” perhaps thereby entitling himself to any power he presumes necessary “for the good of the people,” Bill of Rights be damned. November, the US Supreme Court struck down New York state restrictions that limited religious gatherings to ten or fewer people while permitting far more leeway for businesses to operate, declaring that Cuomo’s rules were “far more restrictive than any Covid-related regulations that have previously come before the Court… and far more severe than has been shown to be required to prevent the spread of the virus.” Cuomo’s allies in the liberal establishment reacted with horror to the limit on his sway. An American Civil Liberties Union official fretted to the New York Times that “the freedom to worship… does not include a license to harm others or endanger public health.” Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe and Cornell professor Michael Dorf babbled that the ruling signaled that the Supreme Court belonged in “the theocratic and misogynist country in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’” 

Cuomo remained revered even though his repressive policies failed to prevent New York from having among the nation’s highest Covid death rates. But a Justice Department probe into his nursing home policies launched last August may be his undoing. New York state reported barely half of the total of more than 12,000 New York nursing home patients who died of Covid. Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, told Democratic legislative leaders that “basically, we froze” when the feds demanded information. “We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice… was going to be used against us,” DeRosa said according to a leaked transcript. 

But Cuomo’s culpability goes beyond hiding corpses. Early in the pandemic, he pushed to include a legislative provision written by the Greater New York Hospital Association to give a waiver of liability to nursing homes and hospitals whose patients died of Covid. A report last month by the New York Attorney General warned, “The immunity laws could be wrongly used to protect any individual or entity from liability, even if those decisions were not made in good faith or motivated by financial incentives.” As the Guardian noted, “Cuomo’s political machine received more than $2 million from the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), its executives and its lobbying firms.”

But Cuomo’s credibility should have been dethroned long before the latest disclosures. As early as last May, barely two months after the start of the state lockdown, a New York Post columnist groused: “So Gov. Andrew Cuomo killed Grandma and cratered New York’s economy. But he looked good doing it.” Cuomo’s cachet derived almost entirely from media scoring that until recently ignored almost all of the harms he inflicted. 

Cuomo and other politicians have used Covid policy lodestars that were akin to crossing the Pacific Ocean with navigators who insisted the earth was flat. Melinda Gates admitted last December: “What did surprise us is we hadn’t really thought through the economic impacts.” The politicians who imposed shutdowns based on data from the Gates’ funded by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation apparently never bothered to estimate the collateral damage from their decrees. Similar myopia spurred crackdowns and restrictions in many states that helped cause the sharpest reduction in Americans’ life expectancy since World War Two. 

Unfortunately, there is no indication that either politicians or the media have recognized the authoritarian dangers inherent in governors or presidents claiming a right to boundless power to save “just one life.” 

A similar standard is helping justify keeping schools closed in many areas. Teachers’ unions have rallied around the motto: “If one teacher dies, isn’t that too many?” But like Cuomo’s shutdowns, that standard ignores the horrific collateral damage on American children. A Journal of the American Medical Association analysis concluded that shutting down the schools would reduce the current crop of students’ collective years of life by more than five million, based on “lower income, reduced educational attainment, and worse health outcomes.” It remains to be seen how much, if any, the role of the well-being of children plays in school policy in the coming months. 

While it is unlikely that the media lapdogs who adore Cuomo and other prominent politicians will admit their follies, the exposure of hard facts may help blunt the next stampede to submission. The Justice Department investigation into nursing home policies that boosted Covid death tolls in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania could tarnish some of the nation’s most aggressive Covid lockdowners. Other investigations by the media or private groups could expose far more evidence of misconduct or of gross negligence that boosted Covid death tolls. 

In a tour of television talk shows shortly after President Biden was inaugurated, Cuomo recited his latest catchphrase: “Incompetent government kills people.” This intended slapdown of Trump is recoiling badly on the New York governor. If Cuomo is impeached or forced to resign for his Covid fiascos, maybe he could score plenty of media appearances with a new slogan: “Absolute power with impunity kills.”

Reprinted with permission from American Institute for Economic Research.]]> Thu, 25 Feb 2021 14:12:19 GMT
The Invisible Victims Of The Covid Lockdowns Daniel McAdams
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Unrelenting, Omnipresent Fear Short Circuits the Human Brain Jeff Harris

As we rapidly approach the one year anniversary of Covid madness I’ll freely admit I’ve been shocked by the millions upon millions of American’s who appear so traumatized they are unable to think clearly. They clamor for an unproven, untested, hastily cobbled together DNA altering gene therapy mislabeled as a “vaccine”.

They stand in long lines for hours to have this experimental cocktail injected into their bodies with the very real possibility of death as has already happened to hundreds of Covid Vaccine victims. At least 271 deaths, 9,845 adverse events after COVID vaccination so far: CDC data | News | LifeSite ( Who in their right mind would agree to risk their life by taking this concoction to hopefully protect themselves from a virus that according to the CDC is survivable by 99.74% of those exposed?

It doesn’t make any sense does it?

In addition there are thousands of highly credentialed medical experts who totally disagree with the official narrative that Covid is a “novel” deadly health threat. Great Barrington Declaration ( And while the public health “experts” loudly proclaim (maybe too loudly) that an experimental “vaccine” is our only hope, tens of thousands of doctors around the globe are having great success treating virus patients with simple, inexpensive, proven therapies. America's Frontline Doctors – Empowering patients and physicians with independent, evidence-based medicine.

Yes, it’s certainly true that you won’t see this information on CNN or MSNBC or any other main stream media outlet. But the information is out there for any “thinking” person to discover if they can tear themselves away from thrilling episodes of “Keeping up with the Kardashian’s!” To me it seems like I’m living in a real life version of “The Twilight Zone” where the general population has been hypnotized.

And to a degree I think that’s what’s happened and here’s why. I came across an article from way back in 2013 titled, “Science Reveals the Impact of Fear on the Human Brain”. Science Reveals the Impact of Fear on the Human Brain - Learning Mind ( Here are a few interesting quotes from the article:
'The impact of fear on the human brain is very powerful: it completely changes the way we process information.

'When people are frightened, the parts of the brain that are responsible for rational thinking cease to dominate', Dr. Bruce Perry explains, quoted in an article published on the Time magazine website.

'When faced with a threat, the cortex, which is responsible for risk assessment and actions, ceases to function. In other words, logical thinking is replaced by overwhelming emotions, thus favoring short-term solutions and sudden reactions.”

It might be helpful to ponder on this for a moment because I believe it explains an awful lot of what’s been going on. Fear literally changes the way our brains work, or in this case don’t work. Intense fear short circuits our brains ability to think rationally. The constant fear porn spewing out of the mainstream media 24/7 has terrorized people the world over.
Here’s another interesting quote from the article:
A traumatic event has long-term consequences. Anything that reminds us about the threat triggers an involuntary state of fear. Events of this type lead to chain reactions in the human brain: people become more anxious . . . 
Think about the constant reminders we see all around us to be afraid, VERY afraid. Last March we were told by the U. S. Surgeon General, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) that healthy people should not wear face masks. US health officials say Americans shouldn’t wear face masks to prevent coronavirus — here are 3 other reasons not to wear them - MarketWatch

Then suddenly they all changed their minds (with NO hard science backing them up) and decreed that indeed everyone should wear a face mask to be SAFE.

The ubiquitous face mask is a constant reminder to be afraid. The message is there is a deadly virus that could take your life if you don’t follow the rules. It’s a great tool to ramp up the fear and indoctrinate millions into blind submission, obedience and above all else to follow the dictates of the “experts”. It’s also a great tool to “expose” the unbelievers guilty of “wrong think.”

So what’s the antidote to all this fear? It’s the truth for those able to receive it. And that’s why those of us still capable of critical thinking need to share the truth with others through whatever means we have. Of course we know most people are so frightened they’re incapable of escaping their fear cocoon and will refuse to listen to anything that doesn’t align with the main stream narrative.

We can also go about our daily lives demonstrating our fearlessness by not wearing a face mask. Please don’t delude yourself by thinking you’re showing respect to others by doing so. All you’re really doing is perpetuating a crippling lie. Yes, you’ll have to put up with being shunned, glared at and possibly being publicly ridiculed by a fear crazed mask Nazi!

But the time for bold action is right now! We don’t have the luxury of waiting for the madness to end because if we don’t stand up to the tyrants they will continue to stomp all over our hard won liberty. I will not comply!
]]> Wed, 24 Feb 2021 15:24:40 GMT
Even By Democratic Party Standards, Censoring Fox News Is An Insanely Stupid Idea Matt Taibbi

Two and a half years ago, when Alex Jones of Infowars was kicked off a series of tech platforms in a clearly coordinated decision, I knew this was not going to be an isolated thing.

Given that people like Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy were saying the ouster of Jones was just a “good first step,” it seemed obvious the tactic was not going to be confined to a few actors. But corporate media critics insisted the precedent would not be applied more broadly.

“I don't think we are going to be seeing big tech take action against Fox News… any time soon,” commented CNN’s Oliver Darcy.

Darcy was wrong. Just a few years later, calls to ban Fox are not only common, they’re intensifying, with media voices from Brian Stelter on CNN to MSNBC analyst Anand Giridharadas to former Media Matters critic Eric Boehlert to Washington Post columnists Max Boot and Margaret Sullivan all on board.

The movement crested this week with a letter from California House Democrats Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, written to the CEOs of cable providers like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, and Dish. They demanded to know if those providers are “planning to continue carrying Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN… beyond any contract renewal date” and “if so, why?”

The news comes in advance of Wednesday’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on “traditional media’s role in promoting disinformation and extremism.”

This sequence of events is ominous because a similar matched set of hearings and interrogations back in 2017 — when Senators like Mazie Hirono at a Judiciary Committee hearing demanded that platforms like Google and Facebook come up with a “mission statement” to prevent the “foment of discord” — accelerated the “content moderation” movement that now sees those same platforms regularly act as de facto political censors.

Sequences like this — government “requests” of speech reduction, made to companies subject to federal regulation — make the content moderation decisions of private firms a serious First Amendment issue. Censorship advocates may think this is purely a private affair, in which the only speech rights that matter are those of companies like Twitter and Google, but any honest person should be able to see this for what it is.

In the last go-around, Virginia Senator Mark Warner prepared a lengthy white paper called “Potential Policy Proposals for Regulation of Social Media and Technology Firms,” that among other things considered making the tech giants more susceptible to tort claims, as well as beefing up FTC authority over the firms. This was the sword raised over the head of Silicon Valley as it considered whether or not it had a duty to implement those Senatorial demands for plans to prevent the “foment of discord.”

The line to potential government action isn’t quite as direct this time, but it’s notable that Blair Levin, the former chief of staff of the F.C.C. under Bill Clinton, said that this week’s hearings could serve as a first step to what the New York Times called “meaningful action.”

“You have to establish a factual record,” Levin said of this week’s hearings, “and then try to figure out: What are the appropriate roles for the government in changing that dynamic?”

Read the rest and support the author here.]]> Wed, 24 Feb 2021 15:02:21 GMT
Facts Or Cover-Up? Congress To Hold Hearings On Capitol Riot Daniel McAdams
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President Biden Says the Experimental Coronavirus Vaccines are Safe. The Vaccines’ Fact Sheets Say Something Very Different. Adam Dick

Via a Monday Twitter post, President Joe Biden made an unqualified assertion that the experimental coronavirus vaccines, which are not even vaccines under the normal meaning of vaccines, the United States government is encouraging Americans to take are “safe” for everyone. However, taking a look through the fact sheets for recipients and caregivers regarding the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna experimental coronavirus vaccines, available at the website of the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you find a very different representation.

These fact sheets warn that there are many known health risks of taking either vaccine and that there are also other potential health risks that remain unknown because the experimental vaccines went through rushed and incomplete testing.

Biden stated the following in his tweet:
If there’s one message I want to cut through to everyone in this country, it’s this: The vaccines are safe.

For yourself, your family, your community, our country — take the vaccine when it’s your turn and available. That’s how we’ll beat this pandemic.
Wow. It would be absurd to make such a claim even about the many vaccines that have gone through complete regular testing. There is a basis for arguing taking such injections for many people can be expected to provide greater benefit than detriment. But, to say outright that those vaccines are safe for any particular person is to give false assurance. And to say outright that they are safe for everyone is preposterous.

People are hurt by vaccines that have gone through the full, regular testing process. Further, recognition of the predictable heightened danger for some people taking such vaccines leads doctors to recommend that those individuals not take them at all.

Looking at the fact sheets for recipients and caregivers for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna experimental coronavirus vaccines makes clear how far off Biden’s blanket assurance of safety is. The US government is admitting there are potential negative health consequences of taking the experimental vaccines.

The first warning sign in the fact sheets for the two experimental vaccines is in the fact sheets’ titles. Both titles refer to the “emergency use authorization” of the vaccines. At the end of the fact sheets it is explained that emergency use authorization means the experimental coronavirus vaccines have “not undergone the same type of review as an FDA approved or cleared product.” Further, it is made clear that the emergency use authorization does not mean the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined the vaccines are safe. Instead, “the FDA decision is based on the totality of scientific evidence available showing that the product may be effective to prevent COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.”

Unlike Biden who seems to say everyone should rush out and take the vaccines, the fact sheets explicitly say that some people should not receive the injections: people under a certain age (16 for Pfizer-BioNTech and 18 for Moderna), as well as people who have “had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine” (both vaccines have a two shot regimen) or “had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient” of the respective vaccines.

The fact sheets for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna experimental coronavirus vaccines also include this section that suggests that, for particular individuals, taking one of the vaccines will carry greater risk of harm and may be better avoided:

Tell your vaccination provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

• have any allergies

• have a fever

• have a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner

• are immunocompromised or are on a medicine that affects your immune system

• are pregnant or plan to become pregnant

• are breastfeeding

• have received another COVID-19 vaccine
For each of the experiment vaccines, the respective fact sheets also provide a list of some of potential health harms from receiving the vaccinations — potential health harms Biden seems to claim do not exist.

The Pfizer-BioNTech experimental coronavirus vaccine fact sheet provides these details about risks from having the shots:

Side effects that have been reported with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine include:

• injection site pain

• tiredness

• headache

• muscle pain

• chills

• joint pain

• fever

• injection site swelling

• injection site redness

• nausea

• feeling unwell

• swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)
Similarly, the Moderna experimental coronavirus vaccine fact sheet provides these details about risks from having the shots:

Side effects that have been reported with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine include:

• Injection site reactions: pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, swelling (hardness), and redness

• General side effects: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever
Both experimental coronavirus vaccines’ fact sheets also provide this warning:
There is a remote chance that the [Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna] COVID-19 Vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the [Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna] COVID-19 Vaccine. For this reason, your vaccination provider may ask you to stay at the place where you received your vaccine for monitoring after vaccination. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include:

• Difficulty breathing

• Swelling of your face and throat

• A fast heartbeat

• A bad rash all over your body

• Dizziness and weakness

These may not be all the possible side effects of the [Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna] COVID-19 Vaccine. Serious and unexpected side effects may occur. The [Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna] COVID-19 Vaccine is still being studied in clinical trials.
So, are the experimental coronavirus vaccines safe? The answer is “no” according to the fact sheets provided at the FDA website. There are significant known dangers from taking the vaccines. Also, especially given the rushed and abbreviated testing of the experimental vaccines, there may be numerous unlisted health problems that arise in people who receive the shots.

Biden says to everyone in his tweet “take the vaccine when it’s your turn and available.” A wiser course is for people to consider the potential risks carefully and make their own informed decisions regarding taking the experimental coronavirus vaccines.

The experimental coronavirus vaccines’ fact sheets are a good starting point for that risk investigation. It may also be worthwhile to take a look at a few of my earlier articles — “Everyone Should Take the Experimental Coronavirus Vaccines? Dr. Joseph Mercola Says No.” from February 3, “Worries of Coronavirus Vaccine Deaths and Injuries in America and Abroad” from January 19, “Coronavirus Vaccinations Seem to be Causing 50 Times the Adverse Events of Flu Vaccinations after Just the First of Two Shots” from January 6, and “Doctors, Normal and Abnormal” from December 19.]]> Tue, 23 Feb 2021 15:13:39 GMT
Covid 500K? Daniel McAdams
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Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment Glenn Greenwald

For the third time in less than five months, the US Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them, with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms. On March 25, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will interrogate Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebooks’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai at a hearing which the Committee announced will focus “on misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms.”

The Committee’s Chair, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of the Subcommittees holding the hearings, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), said in a joint statement that the impetus was “falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine” and “debunked claims of election fraud.” They argued that “these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” adding: “This hearing will continue the Committee’s work of holding online platforms accountable for the growing rise of misinformation and disinformation.”

House Democrats have made no secret of their ultimate goal with this hearing: to exert control over the content on these online platforms. “Industry self-regulation has failed,” they said, and therefore “we must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.” In other words, they intend to use state power to influence and coerce these companies to change which content they do and do not allow to be published.

I’ve written and spoken at length over the past several years about the dangers of vesting the power in the state, or in tech monopolies, to determine what is true and false, or what constitutes permissible opinion and what does not. I will not repeat those points here.

Instead, the key point raised by these last threats from House Democrats is an often-overlooked one: while the First Amendment does not apply to voluntary choices made by a private company about what speech to allow or prohibit, it does bar the US Government from coercing or threatening such companies to censor. In other words, Congress violates the First Amendment when it attempts to require private companies to impose viewpoint-based speech restrictions which the government itself would be constitutionally barred from imposing.

It may not be easy to draw where the precise line is — to know exactly when Congress has crossed from merely expressing concerns into unconstitutional regulation of speech through its influence over private companies — but there is no question that the First Amendment does not permit indirect censorship through regulatory and legal threats.

Ben Wizner, Director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told me that while a constitutional analysis depends on a variety of factors including the types of threats issued and how much coercion is amassed, it is well-established that the First Amendment governs attempts by Congress to pressure private companies to censor:
For the same reasons that the Constitution prohibits the government from dictating what information we can see and read (outside narrow limits), it also prohibits the government from using its immense authority to coerce private actors into censoring on its behalf.
In a January Wall Street Journal op-ed, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Yale Law School’s constitutional scholar Jed Rubenfeld warned that Congress is rapidly approaching this constitutional boundary if it has not already transgressed it. “Using a combination of statutory inducements and regulatory threats,” the duo wrote, “Congress has co-opted Silicon Valley to do through the back door what government cannot directly accomplish under the Constitution.”

That article compiled just a small sample of case law making clear that efforts to coerce private actors to censor speech implicate core First Amendment free speech guarantees. In Norwood v. Harrison (1973), for instance, the Court declared it “axiomatic” — a basic legal principle — that Congress “may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.” They noted: “For more than half a century courts have held that governmental threats can turn private conduct into state action.”

Read the rest and support the author here.]]> Mon, 22 Feb 2021 14:51:08 GMT
The Biggest Lies of the Impeachment Saga James Bovard

The Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump confirms historian Henry Adams's adage a century ago that politics “has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.” The impeachment process was a farce that should fortify Americans’ disdain for Washington. Considering how Democrats are using the January 6 clash at the Capitol to justify enacting a new domestic terrorism law, Americans need to recognize the frauds that permeated this process from the start.

At last week’s trial, House impeachment manager Jaime Raskin (D-MD) boasted to the Senate, “I think we have done an exceedingly thorough and comprehensive job with all the evidence that was available.” But the House Democrats did not bother accumulating evidence before the trial. Instead, House impeachment managers showed up at the Senate with video clips and tweets and a bunch of overheated rhetoric and thought that should suffice. House impeachment manager Ted Lieu summarized the proceedings: “Trump is receiving any and all process that he is due.”

Shortly before the Senate was expected to cast the final vote on the trial, Raskin announced that the House team wanted to call an actual witness. Democratic senators first voted to call witnesses and then, a couple of hours later, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that, instead of witnesses, they would simply add one news article based on hearsay to the official record. Unfortunately, the only laughter that erupted on the Senate floor occurred when Trump’s lawyer threatened to summon witnesses for depositions to his law office in “Philly-delphia.” (His house was vandalized after the trial ended.)

The formal article of impeachment condemned Trump for inciting supporters who “unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel.” House manager Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) condemned “the violent insurrectionists, criminals who killed and injured police officers.” Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the House Democratic Caucus chair, declared, “Blood is on the hands of every single House Republican sycophant.”

But the murder allegation is collapsing. Even CNN admitted that prosecutors seeking to build a murder case on Sicknick’s demise were “vexed by a lack of evidence.” Capitol policeman Brian Sicknick died a day after the clash but his demise is shrouded in secrecy. He was apparently fine after engaging with protestors but reportedly suffered a stroke the next day. The Capitol Police have refused to release his autopsy report and his body was quickly cremated. Some accounts have suggested that Sicknick died after being exposed to bear spray or pepper spray. If so, his death is a tragic result of the clashes that day. But police regularly spray peaceful protestors with pepper spray or other nasty substances.

Politicians have sanctified themselves by wildly exaggerating the threat they faced on January 6. Raskin wailed to the Senate: “All around me, people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones to say goodbye.” Representative Cicilline declared, “Senators, remember, as one of you said, during this attack, they could have killed us all—our staff, the officers protecting all of us, everyone.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) declared, “We came close to half of the House nearly dying“ from the attackers. But no members of Congress suffered any physical harm.

The only person who was shot at the Capitol that day was Ashli Babbitt, a thirty-five-year-old Air Force veteran; she was killed by a Capitol policeman at point-blank range. The most flagrant “weapon” case involving protestors was that of sixty-year-old Richard Barnett, who achieved notoriety after being photographed with his feet on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. Barnett faces a felony weapons charge and ten years in prison for carrying with him a ZAP Hike 'n Strike walking stick/stun gun that Amazon sells for $98. (Barnett would have been outgunned by the two thousand Capitol Police officers carrying Glocks with twenty-two rounds.) Barnett, like many other protestors, is being legally scourged for his bad attitude. Barnett was ordered jailed until trial later this year, in part because federal judge Beryl Howell was enraged that Barnett told a reporter he had “scratched my balls“ in Pelosi’s office.

January 6 also quickly metamorphosed into epic comparisons to fan national outrage. Schumer compared that ruckus to Pearl Harbor—a “day of infamy.” Schumer complained that the “temple to democracy was desecrated … our offices vandalized.” Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) compared an incursion that broke some windows and furniture with the 1814 British invasion that torched the Capitol. But most of the eight hundred protestors and others who entered the Capitol left peacefully after a few hours. As journalist Michael Tracey quipped, “Who knew it was so easy to squash an ‘armed insurrection’—just announce a curfew and most of the ‘insurrectionists’ will voluntarily abide.”

Schumer claimed that Trump’s “incitement” of the January 6 protestors was “the most despicable act that any president has ever committed.” This is “Trump-washing” all of the prior official crimes in American history. From President Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears to President Woodrow Wilson imposing Jim Crow on a federal basis and dishonestly dragging the nation into World War I, to President Harry Truman unnecessarily dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, to President Lyndon Johnson dishonestly dragging this nation far deeper into a Vietnam quagmire, to President George W. Bush dishonestly launching the Iraq War, there have been far more damaging presidential abuses of power than sometimes reckless Trump’s blather. 

Democrats are also exploiting the January 6 Capitol clash to sanctify the 2020 presidential election. House impeachment manager Madeleine Dean (D-PA) declared, “Trump’s conduct over many months incited his supporters to believe his big lie, that the only way he could lose was if the election were rigged.” Schumer hit the same point, deriding Trump for a telling “a big lie that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful winner.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that Republican members of Congress who refused to ratify the Electoral College results “gave aid and comfort to [protestors] with the idea that they were embracing a lie—that the election did not have legitimacy.” But if only traitors would not vote to ratify the Electoral College results, why did the Founding Fathers include that safeguard in the Constitution? And was Raskin guilty of treason when he challenged Electoral College votes for Donald Trump in 2017?

Schumer also denounced Trump for having “inspired, directed, and propelled a mob to violently … subvert the will of the people.” This sounds like the ultimate heresy in a democracy. Since November, the “will of the people” has been one of the most popular themes for Democrats. But where was the “will of the people” discovered? At the bottom of an unmanned mystery ballot drop box in Kenosha, Wisconsin?

The 2020 election was determined in part by the novel doctrine that verifying ballots was a crime against democracy. Biden won thanks to fewer than fifty thousand votes in a small number of swing states that abandoned many of the existing safeguards for ballots, including most of the security procedures for absentee or mail-in ballots. The attorney general for Texas complained in a brief to the Supreme Court about the “unconstitutional relaxation of ballot-integrity protections in [Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania] election laws.” The Supreme Court did not take that case but that was no endorsement of last year’s electoral reforms. Though most of the media acts as if all the issues regarding the 2020 election are long since settled, legal disputes continue. On January 27, a Virginia circuit court struck down a late rule change by the Virginia Board of Elections permitting the counting of mail-in ballots that arrived three days after the election without a postmark. Similar arbitrary decrees happened across the country, probably spurring far more dubious votes than in prior elections. None of this proves the election was actually stolen, but there are plenty of legitimate questions about the electoral conduct of numerous state governments. 

Democrats are seeking to use last year’s electoral innovations as the model to impose sweeping federal mandates on every state election system in the nation. H.R. 1, the “For the People Act of 2021,” would compel all states to rely on mass mail-in ballots and other “reforms” justified last year in part due to the covid pandemic.

But Democrats’ disdain for verifying votes’ intent has a gaping loophole. Apparently citizens are much more trustworthy when they conferring political power than when they seek to revoke it. Californians are launching a massive effort to recall Democratic governor Gavin Newsom. Richard Grenell, one of the likely Republican gubernatorial challengers, scoffed on Twitter on Friday: “Suddenly, California officials want aggressive signature verifications. The hypocrisy with politicians is a sickness” (link added).

Perhaps the biggest danger from the impeachment saga is that Democrats will exploit the outrage they are fanning to enact a new catch-all “domestic terrorism” law. Biden denounced the January 6 protestors as “domestic terrorists”—a theme echoed and expanded by many of his Democratic colleagues. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) suggested that it was “time to call Republicans the terrorist right.” Since there are already plenty of federal laws to prosecute the minority of protestors who assaulted police, why do we need a new law? Former representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) warned that proposed new terrorism legislation could target anyone who happens “to be a white person, obviously likely male, libertarians, anyone who loves freedom, liberty, maybe has an American flag outside their house, or people who, you know, attended a Trump rally.”

After the Senate’s failure to convict Trump, hatred and rage will continue to permeate Washington. The latest impeachment saga simply confirms Thomas Paine’s adage: “The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.” Score: another victory for the Swamp.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Mon, 22 Feb 2021 14:43:06 GMT
Unintended Consequences and The Texas ‘Big Freeze’ Energy Disaster Ron Paul

Last week Texas experienced a cold snap that resulted in serious statewide damage, death, and destruction. The collapse of the state’s energy grid left millions of Texans in the dark and freezing for days at a time. Tragically, at least 30 people died.

There are many reasons why Texas became like a Third World country, and we should be careful not to pin all the blame on just one factor. But it seems clear that the disaster was to a large degree caused by political decisions to shift toward “green” energy generated from solar and wind and by Governor Abbott’s authoritarian Covid restrictions.

Abbott, who won a “wind leadership” award just this month, oversaw the near-collapse of wind energy generation last week. Yet the politicization of energy generation in favor of “green” alternatives over natural gas and other fossil fuels has led to the unintended consequences of freezing Texans facing multiple millions of dollars in property damage and worse.

Additionally, federal emissions and other restrictions forced Texas to beg Washington for permission to generate power at higher levels in anticipation of unprecedented demand. Governor Abbott finally received permission from the Department of Energy on February 14th, but by then many facilities found themselves off-line due to freezing conditions.

Why should the Federal government be allowed to freeze Texans to death in the name of controlling emissions from energy generation plants? It’s a classic example of politics over people. I guess if you want to make a “Green New Deal” omelet, you have to break a few eggs.

While Governor Abbott was quick to blame energy generators and even the state Electric Reliability Council of Texas, NBC News in Dallas reported that ERCOT “did not conduct any on-site inspections of the state's power plants to see if they were ready for this winter season. Due to COVID-19 they conducted virtual tabletop exercises instead - but only with 16 percent of the state's power generating facilities.”

Governor Abbott’s authoritarian Covid executive orders at least indirectly led to lax inspection, maintenance, and winterization of wind and other energy generation plants.

But Texas did not only freeze because of Abbott’s Covid restrictions. For the better part of a year thousands of businesses have been destroyed. Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics have relapsed. Depression and suicides have skyrocketed. Children have been deprived of education.

And for what? Texas with Abbott’s restrictions fared no better than Florida with no restrictions when it comes to Covid cases and deaths. The Texas governor knew that months ago when the data from Florida proved that lockdowns, masks, and other restrictions had no effect. But he refused to change course. He refused to follow the brave lead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and open Texas completely.

Politicians too stubborn or fearful to change course when facts dictate otherwise do not deserve to remain in office. Governors Gavin Newsom in California and Andrew Cuomo in New York are finally facing consequences for their Covid authoritarianism. When the smoke clears – and it is rapidly clearing – many more of these petty tyrants will fall. That list of deposed Covid tyrants may well include Texas Governor Greg Abbott – and the slumbering Texas state legislature – as well.

Let’s hope Texans – and all Americans – will learn from this and more forcefully demand their God-given liberty!]]> Mon, 22 Feb 2021 14:26:26 GMT