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James Bovard

Independence Day in the Midst of Dictatorship

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How many Americans will greet July 4th Day with gratitude that their governor is no longer compelling them to “shelter in place” or “stay at home” so they can celebrate their freedom? Most of the media is ignoring the fact that this Independence Day is occurring under the most dictatorial restrictions of the modern era. But anyone who values their liberty must recognize the Great Political Unleashing that has occurred this year makes a mockery of the Founding Fathers’ intentions.

Earlier this year, more than 300 million Americans were constrained by “stay-at-home” decrees by governors and mayors. These restrictions were justified by mortality predictions from COVID-19 that turned out to be wildly exaggerated. But most of the media has presumed that the dictates were legitimate because they were supposedly based on “science and data” – regardless of pervasive wrongheaded forecasts.

The Centers for Disease Control estimated last week that 24 million Americans may have been infected with COVID – making a mockery of lockdowns designed to force citizens to pay any price for the slightest potential reduction in infections. 

Do America’s politicians and media have any special suggestions on how the tens of millions of people who lost their jobs due to the shutdowns should celebrate Independence Day? How should small business owners who have been bankrupted mark July 4th?
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Impeachment Reminder of Our Toxic Foreign Aid

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Foreign aid to Ukraine helped spur the Democrats’ effort to impeach and remove President Trump earlier this year. Ukraine was supposed to be on the verge of great progress until Trump pulled the rug out from under the heroic salvation effort by US government bureaucrats. Unfortunately, Congress has devoted a hundred times more attention to the timing of aid to Ukraine than to its effectiveness. And most of the media coverage pretended that US handouts abroad are as generous and uplifting as congressmen claim.

US foreign aid has long fueled the poxes it promised to eradicate — especially kleptocracy, or government by thieves. A 2002 American Economic Review analysis concluded that “increases in [foreign] aid are associated with contemporaneous increases in corruption” and that “corruption is positively correlated with aid received from the United States.” Windfalls of foreign aid can make politicians more rapacious, which economists have dubbed the “voracity effect.”

Early in his presidency, George W. Bush promised to reform foreign aid, declaring, “I think it makes no sense to give aid money to countries that are corrupt.” Regardless, the Bush administration continued delivering billions of dollars in handouts to many of the world’s most corrupt regimes.
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The Media Has Conveniently Fogotten George W. Bush's Many Atrocities

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Former president George W. Bush has returned to the spotlight to give moral guidance to America in these troubled times. In a statement released on Tuesday, Bush announced that he was “anguished” by the “brutal suffocation” of George Floyd and declared that “lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.”

Bush’s declaration was greeted with thunderous applause by the usual suspects who portray him as the virtuous Republican in contrast to Trump. While the media portrays Bush’s pious piffle as a visionary triumph of principle, Americans need to vividly recall the lies and atrocities that permeated his eight years as president.

In an October 2017 speech in a “national forum on liberty” at the George W. Bush Institute in New York City, Bush bemoaned that “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” Coming from Bush, this had as much credibility as former president Bill Clinton bewailing the decline of chastity.
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Politicians' COVID Mania Ravages Maryland

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Maryland politicians have destroyed more than four hundred thousand jobs in dictatorial responses purporting to thwart the coronavirus pandemic. “Nearly one in five Maryland workers have filed for unemployment” compensation, theBaltimore Sun reported. The situation is so bad that even the Washington Post recognized that Maryland’s COVID “restrictions have crippled the economy and paralyzed daily life since mid-March.”

Shaky extrapolations of predicted infection rates sufficed to nullify limits on state and local government power. On March 20, Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, ordered the shutdown of all “nonessential” businesses. Ten days later, Hogan issued a mandatory “stay-at-home” order for all Marylanders. At that time, roughly a thousand Marylanders had tested positive for COVID and eighteen had died from the virus.

Despite the shutdown, Maryland has had over forty-eight thousand COVID cases and more than twenty-two hundred fatalities. If the shutdown had been effective, the transmission rate should have plunged after the fourteen-day incubation period for coronavirus. Didn’t happen. The shutdown utterly failed to stop the pandemic but inflicted collateral damage that will hobble the state for many years and probably permanently blight thousands of lives.

From the beginning, Maryland’s response epitomized iron fist progressivism—one overreaching decree after another. Piety repeatedly trumped safety.
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Will the Political Class Be Held Liable For What They’ve Done?

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Politically-dictated lockdowns and prohibitions have recently destroyed tens of millions of American jobs. Politicians have effectively claimed a right to inflict unlimited economic damage in pursuit of zero COVID-19 contagion. The perverse incentives driving the policy have multiplied the harm far beyond the original peril.
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Hacksawing the Economy: How Lockdowns Are in the Tradition of Civil War Surgeons

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Politicians and government health officials’ justification for decreeing shutdowns of vast swaths of American life has been deterring the spread of COVID-19. According to Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, almost 40 percent of households earning less than $40,000 per year have a member who has lost their job in recent months. Depression, drug abuse, and suicide are spiking as a result of the lockdowns and “shelter-in-place” commands.

Infection rates and deaths have soared despite severe restrictions on daily life. However, politicians and government health officials continue to claim victory because otherwise more people would have been infected by COVID-19. Most of the media coverage applauds politicians and officials who champion extending lockdowns regardless of the collateral damage to American life.

The political response to COVID-19 is eerily similar to Civil War surgeons’ rationales. Amputation was the most common surgical practice during that war, and more than fifty thousand soldiers had limbs hacked off after battles. Amputation was a reflexive “solution,” because limbs were sometimes shattered by Minié balls and also because that was the only trick that many untrained “surgeons” knew. Surgeons were derided as butchers and were usually utterly negligent about hygiene, leading to far more unnecessary deaths.

Surgeons justified fetching out their hacksaws, because otherwise many soldiers would die from their gangrened wounds. It didn’t matter how many soldiers died from unnecessary or botched amputations as long as surgeons didn’t get blamed for deaths from gangrene.
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The Deep State’s Demolition of Democracy

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“Thank God for the Deep State,” declared former acting CIA chief John McLaughlin while appearing on a panel at the National Press Club last October. In 2018, the New York Times asserted that Trump’s use of the term “Deep State” and similar rhetoric “fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media.”
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US Foreign Policy Perpetual Perfidy

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The Washington establishment was aghast in October when Donald Trump appeared to approve a Turkish invasion of northern Syria. The United States was seen as abandoning the Kurds, some of whom had assisted the United States in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups.
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Claims that John Bolton's book disclosures are 'top secret' ring hollow

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Ever since the 9/11 attacks, Republicans and Democrats have conspired to keep Americans increasingly ignorant of what the federal government does. The number of secret federal documents skyrocketed, and any information classified was treated like a political holy relic that could not be exposed without dooming the nation. Ironically, the fate of the Trump presidency may hinge on perpetuating the unjustifiable secrecy now pervading Washington. 

John Bolton wrote a book about his experiences as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser that could provide key information regarding Trump’s dealing with the Ukrainian government, and Democratic members of Congress are calling for the manuscript to be made public. Former government officials are obliged to submit their publications for review to ensure that no classified information is revealedBolton’s lawyer denies that the book contains classified information, but previous manuscript reviews of other would-be authors have dragged out for months or years. 

Obama weaponized classification 

Since the 1990s, the number of classified documents annually by federal agencies has increased more than 15 times.

In 2004, then-Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., derided the federal classification system as "incomprehensibly complex" and "so bloated it often does not distinguish between the critically important and the comically irrelevant."
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Impeachment’s Biggest Absurdity: Our Toxic Fixation On Useless And Corrupting Ukraine Aid

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The campaign to convict and remove President Donald Trump in the Senate hinges on delays in disbursing US aid to Ukraine. Ukraine was supposedly on the verge of great progress until Trump pulled the rug out from under the heroic salvation effort by US government bureaucrats. Unfortunately, Congress has devoted a hundred times more attention to the timing of aid to Ukraine than to its effectiveness. And most of the media coverage has ignored the biggest absurdity of the impeachment fight.
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