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Another Phony Budget Debate

Anyone watching last week’s debate over the Republican budget resolution would have experienced déjà vu, as the debate bore a depressing similarity to those of previous years. Once again, the Republicans claimed their budget would cut spending in a responsible manner, while Democratic opponents claimed the plan’s spending cuts would shred the safety net and leave vital programs unfunded. Of course, neither claim is true.

The budget does not cut spending at all, and in fact actually increases spending by $1.5 trillion over ten years. The Republicans are using the old DC trick of spending less than originally planned and calling that reduced spending increase a $5.1 trillion cut in spending.
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A Military Plot to Take Over America: Fifty Years Later, Was the Mission Accomplished?

Sevendays

With a screenplay written by Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, director John Frankenheimer’s 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May is a clear warning to beware of martial law packaged as a well meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security. Yet, incredibly enough, 50 years later, we find ourselves hostages to a government run more by military doctrine and corporate greed than by the rule of law established in the Constitution.

Indeed, proving once again that fact and fiction are not dissimilar, today’s current events—ranging from the government’s steady militarization of law enforcement agencies, and its urban training exercises wherein military troops rappel from Black Hawk helicopters in cities across the country, from Miami and Chicago to Minneapolis, to domestic military training drills timed and formulated to coincide with or portend actual crises, and the Obama administration’s sudden and growing hostilities with Russia—could well have been lifted straight out of Seven Days in May, which takes viewers into eerily familiar terrain.

The premise is straightforward enough: With the Cold War at its height, Jordan Lyman (played by Fredric March), an unpopular U.S. President, signs a momentous nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union. Believing that the treaty constitutes an unacceptable threat to the security of the United States and certain that he knows what is best for the nation, General James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster), the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and presidential hopeful, plans a military takeover of the national government.
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Warfare, Welfare, and Wonder Woman — How Congress Spends Your Money

Supporters of warfare, welfare, and Wonder Woman cheered last week as Congress passed a one trillion dollar “omnibus” appropriation bill. This legislation funds the operations of government for the remainder of the fiscal year. Wonder Woman fans can cheer that buried in the bill was a $10,000 grant for a theater program to explore the comic book heroine.

That is just one of the many outrageous projects buried in this 1,582 page bill. The legislation gives the Department of Education more money to continue nationalizing education via “common core.”
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Does Our Military Spending Really Make Us Better Off?

Us Vs World

The ill-advised launching of a few barrages of cruise missiles at Syria, which was the White House’s fervent desire back in August could have cost as much as five billion dollars or so by the time it was all over, an act of war carried out just to establish the "credibility" of the White House. Would it have been money well spent to kill a few hundred Syrians?

The Navy meanwhile keeps building multi-billion dollar aircraft carriers even though they are highly vulnerable to much cheaper missiles and although it already has eleven of them while the Air Force is getting the problem plagued and cost overrun prone F-35 fighter at $100 million a pop in a $857 billion program even though the aircraft is demonstrably not needed for national defense.
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The Fourth Branch of Government

Military Industrial Complex

One of the most interesting aspects of President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address in 1960 was his warning to the American people regarding the danger that America’s military-industrial complex posed to our democratic processes. Eisenhower didn’t make it clear whether he was referring to the economic dimension associated with warfare-state spending or to the possibility of a military takeover here in the United States.

Of course, statists would say that there’s no way that Eisenhower would have been referring to the danger of a coup here in the United States. He would have had to be talking about the economic danger posed by ever-increasing spending on warfare-state programs, they would say. The United States is the last place where people would have to fear the danger of a military coup.

Eisenhower’s successor, John F. Kennedy, however, did not share that sentiment. Kennedy was truly concerned about the possibility of a military coup during his administration, especially given the deep animosity that the military and the CIA had toward his foreign policies, as I outlined in my article “The War Between JFK and the National-Security State.” Interestingly, while I may have missed it, I have never come across anyone who has mocked or ridiculed Kennedy for his concern over this possibility.
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A Grand Bargain for Liberty?

As I write this, it appears that the federal government is about to shut down because the House and Senate cannot agree on whether to add language defunding or delaying Obamacare to the “Continuing Resolution”. Despite all the hand-wringing heard in DC, a short-term government shut down (which doesn’t actually shut down the government) will not cause the country to collapse.

And the American people would benefit if Obamacare was defeated or even delayed.

Obamacare saddles the American health care system with new spending and mandates which will raise the price and lower the quality of health care. Denying funds to this program may give Congress time to replace this bill with free-market reforms that put patients and physicians back in charge of health care.
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Marching Into Uncertain Future Requires Leadership

Littoral

President Barack Obama’s plea to bomb Syria fell on deaf ears. In 1975, it was “No more Vietnams.” Today, it’s “No more Iraqs.”

The American public attitude is reinforced by the absence of an existential military threat to the United States and the demand for jobs and economic growth instead of military spending. Moreover, for the first time in decades, the public pressure on American political and military leaders to formulate strategic aims worth fighting and dying for before American blood and treasure are sacrificed is enormous and growing.

Regrettably, the growing demand for a new and less belligerent foreign policy has not been matched by coherent strategic guidance from the president and the secretary of defense to the military. As a result, the U.S. armed forces are adrift, floating on a sea of strategic uncertainty.
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US Military Training Overseas: Vast and Under-Reported

NEWS ANALYSIS

Andrei Akulov writes in the online journal of the Strategic Culture Foundation this week about an under-analyzed component of the US interventionist foreign policy: foreign military training and assistance. According to Akulov, although attention often falls on expanded and high-profile US joint military exercises in places like South Korea, as well as increased US military involvement in Africa and more drone strikes in more parts of the world, the “training, assisting, and subsidizing armed forces of other countries is another significant aspect of US foreign policy, which is often overlooked or underestimated.” The author points out that in countries with human rights records too abysmal for overt US military assistance, the US nevertheless often finds itself employing special forces troops and trainers. The US special forces are active in approximately 70 nations on any given day.


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