The result of a survey show who the American people believe is an enemy of America. North Korea (57%) and Iran (41%) were labeled as enemies of America by the most Americans. [Link]
NATO troops arrive in Poland and will be stationed near the Russian border. 900 of the 1,100 NATO troops are US troops. [Link]
Mattis calls Iran a destabilizing force in the Middle East. [Link]
The Chinese state media reports that China’s military will build six new aircraft carriers and open ten new military bases. [Link]
The Kenyan government cancels primary elections because too many people turned out to vote. The government decided to cancel the election because it felt it didn’t have the adequate voting material and didn’t want to subvert the democratic will of the people. Some protests followed the announcement. [Link]
US military action in Somalia could plunge the country into famine. The UN reports that the country is near famine already, with the worst areas being the areas controlled by the terrorist group al-Shabaab. Trump has declared these areas of Somalia as zones of active hostility, allowing the military to carry out attacks in these areas. [Link]
Israel attacks a pro-Assad militia with an airstrike in Syria killing three fighters. The fighters were near the Syria/Israel border. [Link]
Theodore Postol corrects an error he made in his analysis of the Syria chemical weapons attack. With the error corrected Postol still concludes the White House Repost on the chemical weapons attack is incorrect. [Link]
In preparing for our move this coming January from our current home in metro Phoenix to our new home in metro Tucson, my wife Kim and I were recently in Tucson to find a new family doctor, a new hair stylist for her, and a new auto mechanic.
These were stressful decisions, for if Kim and I didn’t find service providers as good as the ones we’ve had in Phoenix for decades, we might end up regretting our decision to move. (If any male readers are wondering what’s so important about a spouse liking her hair stylist, they’ve never been married.)
The most difficult search was for a family doctor, because unlike hair stylists and auto mechanics, the government killed a true consumer market in medical care over 70 years ago. This makes it very difficult to compare doctors on price, service and quality.
By definition, a consumer market doesn’t exist when someone other than the consumer pays a service provider. In medical care, the payer is typically not the consumer, or patient. Rather, the payer is Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare, or an employer’s group insurance plan.
Not only that, but doctors have been inflicted over the intervening 70 years with ever-increasing government regulations, reimbursement red tape, and price controls. This is why the typical medical practice has more billing clerks, regulatory consultants, and software coders behind the scenes than doctors and nurses. It’s also why doctors have joined large hospital groups, thus becoming hired hands instead of trying to survive as sole practitioners.
The net result is that medical care has become impersonal, rushed, and difficult to schedule. Doctors spend little time with patients and are preoccupied during office visits with entering the proper treatment codes on a laptop or computer notebook. Moreover, an increasing number of doctors no longer accept Medicare patients, for Medicare reimbursements do not cover the cost of treatment.
By contrast, there is an abundance of hair stylists and auto mechanics who want new customers and compete for them on price and service. Fortunately, after getting a referral, Kim found a hair stylist she likes a mile from our new home. Likewise, we found two great options for auto care: an independent garage with a stellar reputation, and a Toyota dealer that has higher prices but a gleaming, modern facility with courteous personnel, as well as a first-class customer waiting area with coffee, snacks, comfortable chairs, Wi-Fi, and TV.
It took a lot more effort to find a good family doctor. We conducted Internet research on the best-ranked docs in Tucson and reviewed their medical schooling, years of experience, age, and proximity to our new house. After narrowing the list, our top choice turned out to be a 50-year-old doctor who shares a concierge practice with another doctor and who accepts new Medicare patients.
A concierge practice is a way for doctors to comply with government and insurance company reimbursement schedules but still compete in a different way on quality and service. For an additional annual concierge fee, their patients get quick appointments, proactive care instead of just reactive care, as much personal time as needed with the doctor, and the ability to contact the doctor directly via email or cellphone.
We decided to drive by the doctor’s office to see where it was located and what it looked like from the outside. Impressed by the curb appeal, I suggested that we walk into the office and speak with someone about the concierge services. Kim exclaimed incredulously, “You mean unannounced without an appointment?” I responded, “Exactly. I can’t think of a better way of getting a sense of the level of customer service.”
We explained to the friendly receptionist who greeted us why we were there. With that, she immediately introduced us to a friendly medical assistant, who asked if we’d like to meet with the doctor. Taken aback, we stammered a yes. She ushered us into his private office, said he’d be with us shortly after finishing with a patient, offered us water, and gave us a brochure to read.
The doctor’s office was clean, neat and nicely decorated but not ostentatiously so. Memorabilia and pictures on the desk and walls indicated that the doctor was an avid cyclist.
When he walked in, our first impressions of him matched the surroundings. He was tall, handsome, and fit. More importantly, he was very personable, had good eye contact, was a good listener, and was very patient and thorough in explaining how his practice was different and what we would get for the annual concierge fee, which is $1,800 for an individual or $3,200 for a couple. He explained that one major difference between his practice and the typical practice is that he has about 400 patients, or about one-fifth the average patient load in Tucson.
When he excused himself to take a call, Kim and I gave each other a thumbs-up. We had planned to do some traveling during our golden years but agreed that spending $3,200 on a concierge fee instead of a trip was money well spent. Not only that, but the fee was a fraction of what the average American spends on car payments, car insurance, and car repairs. (Yet Americans whine about medical costs but not auto costs.)
We told the doctor when he returned that we wanted to sign up. He said great, asked his assistant to help with the paperwork, and graciously said that we could use his desk.
Unfortunately, this arrangement will be short-lived. As millennials gain political power, they will put an end to the “unfairness” of some people getting more personalized medical care than others, since, as surveys show, millennials are predominately socialist.
Oh, well, when that happens, Kim and I will have to drive down the road to Mexico for personalized medical care, assuming that Trump doesn’t first end such unfair trade with Mexico.
Moscow — Russia’s state-funded news network,RT, is apparently now sponsoring ads in a Moscow airport targeting Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.Images of the signs, posted on Reddit over the weekend, come as the mainstream media continues to push thenotion that Russia intervened in the 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump.
“Missed a plane? Lost an election? Blame it on us!”says one of the ads, alluding to the fact that in terms of seats in Washington, D.C., the Democrat Party wasdecimated in 2016.
“The longer you watch, the more upset Hillary Clinton becomes,” says another ad. And a third, which reads “Come closer and find out who we are planning to hack next,” clearly references thenotion that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Convention networks.
To date, no hard evidence has been put forth proving that Russia colluded with Donald Trump and his team, and both Trump and President Vladimir Putin havedenied that any conspiracy exists.
The advertising, however, is very real, and it does appear to be funded by the Russian government. The Independent Journal Review reached out to RT for comment, and a spokespersonconfirmed that the ads are “absolutely” genuine and sponsored by the network.
Recently, the “Russian collusion” theory spread to Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr. The accusation suggests he met with a Russian lawyer in June of last year to try to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton. While the meetingdid take place, the Trump administrationcontends it was standard political practice.
Thaddeus Russell is a very interesting thinker who has given an interesting challenge to libertarians: to embrace the ideas of post-modernism. Russell is a “renegade academic” who comes from the deep left, and who has embraced wide swaths of the libertarian paradigm. He does not consider himself to be a libertarian, but it seems like he rejects the modern left and has many sharp criticisms against it. I get the impression he sees a lot of hope in libertarianism, but would prefer if the libertarian community was closer to some of his post-modern ideals. (for more on Russell, please take a look at his very interesting book A Renegade History of the United States)
Russell’s appeal to embrace post-modernism might have a place in the “left libertarian” school of thought. I say this because of the relevance of post-modernist ideas to the social realm. Left-libertarianism emphasizes personal liberation, and the conflict between the personal and social seems to be Russell’s focus. Still, Russell does not call himself a left-libertarian and has publicly applauded the economic ideas associated with Misesian libertarianism.
I have read Renegade History, and listened to Russell’s appearances on many libertarian podcasts over the years. As a libertarian, I find myself in general agreement with him. I also find his presentation of history to be invaluable to libertarians, in addition to being simply genius. What Russell highlights is what I consider to be a deep cultural exploration of themes associated with libertarian class theory. That is, what social norms can be directly related to the coercive violence of the state? My interpretation of Russell is that we can observe the role of state violence in the creation and sustenance of many social norms, including those that we superficially believe to be good (such as the “Puritan work ethic”).
As a consequence, I wonder if maybe Russell isn’t on to something. Forget left-libertarianism, Russell’s post-modernism represents an philosophical challenge. How much of our worldview – our conceptual construction of what we consider to be reality – is shaped by state violence? Maybe libertarians need a more thoughtful philosophical foundation to continue maturing as a movement. I think we have one, but dance around it for lack of having been a very big movement.
Invoking Scott Horton, I’d say that there’s nothing wrong with entertaining the idea. Libertarians should be able to criticize the right from the right and the left from the left. Why not embrace a meaningful left side critique of the role of state violence in shaping social norms and societal values?
With that in mind, I’ll take Russell’s challenge on, and raise him one.
I subscribe to a radical personal take on the Scottish Common Sense school of philosophy. Common Sense philosophy was the foundation of the ideas of the American revolution, but it was also used later to defend religious fundamentalism. I think it just needs to be developed a bit more. Common Sense philosophy answers post-modernism’s question of: “how can anyone say that anything is objectively true?” It also embraces the epistemological challenge posed by post-modernism in questioning the ability of an individual to know whether anything they personally experiences reflects a common reality or only a personal reality.
The “common sense” in the philosophy, to me, refers to those perceptual elements which are most consistent, including between human beings. In terms of experience and sensory data, some principles or phenomena more consistently occur and some less consistently occur. We do not know whether the sun will rise tomorrow or not, but we know that everything else we know up to this point has been dependent upon patterns and principles that guarantee the sun will rise tomorrow. Thus, we have no reason to believe it will not rise. Moreover, we can observe that these same patterns hold true even accounting for the experiences of other human beings.
The common sense epistemology is therefore a hierarchy of phenomena based on consistency of occurrence. Metaphysically, there are implications though maybe no firm conclusions. The “big picture” resulting from this hierarchy of phenomena is that there might be a true reality.
This can be expressed in stark libertarian terms. We might say that reality does exist, but our conception of it is only the bit of it which exists to us in our minds, and that this conception is an economic product. That is, productive effort with labor costs and opportunity costs must factor into what becomes conception of reality. The market controls epistemology.
Like post-modernism, this demonstrates the impropriety of claiming that reality is personally knowable. Thus, one cannot construct an ethics that permits the imposition of a certain moral worldview on others. Our conception of reality is personal, and represents our effort to understand something that is perhaps infinite and ultimately unknowable (scarcity of capacity to know).
Unlike post-modernism, this allows for the belief in objective reality. A thinker may not grasp pure, complete reality, but he would aspire to that level of comprehension. This aspiration to objective truth exists as the most consistent and essential principle of his hierarchy of phenomena. This would guide all his action. Here we have echoes of Mises.
In the social, commercial, and political realm, a thinker can make the attempt to establish a market outcome “common reality”. The one “rule” would be that ethically, it would be inconsistent to impose it on others. The thinker must, aspiring themselves to the true reality, by conversation and persuasion, bring others to his conception of reality. Or else between them determine a mutually beneficially common reality. As with any market exchange.
In traditional Scottish Common Sense Realism, thinkers who claimed that reality must surely exist invoked God as a justification. They claimed, firstly, that God creates both reality and our mind with its ability to perceive and conceive of reality. Secondly, that our assurance of God’s existence is the product of intuition – the “common sense”. We wouldn’t perceive that reality exists if it somehow didn’t.
In my construction, we are aspiring to a knowledge of the real without fully achieving it. This comports with many schools of theology as they describe man’s relationship to the divine. However, I think religious and non-religious alike can appreciate the metaphorical relationship of this notion to our epistemological reality. This is perhaps liberty’s most powerful philosophical/spiritual stance. Only the individual can “hear the Holy Ghost”, and aspire to know God – so to speak. It obliterates collectivist ethics.
I think it’s totally appropriate to be a realist. It’s appropriate to conclude that reality does exist, and believe that one is doing a good job – through study of its consistent principles, using deductive and inductive logic, as well as falsification – approaching a reasonably accurate apprehension of reality.
Nevertheless, tipping my hat to Russell, I believe that it’s also necessary to understand that realism is a personal conclusion. Socially, there is no objective reality. Only the market-outcome common reality.
Individuals are therefore entitled to act, contra leftist thinking which claims reality is unknowable. But, no group of individuals can suppose that they possess the keys of that knowledge, contra progressive modernism which supposes that values can be dictated or imposed by state violence.
“The public report lacked the evidence that intelligence officials said was included in the classified version… [including] the harvesting of computer data from ‘implants’ that the United States and its allies have put in Russian computer networks.”
Why does the US government believe that the Russians hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s email accounts? Because US government hackers who have infiltrated Russian computers say so.
J. Buzz Webb, host and organizer of Buzz’s Big Gay Dance Party, the PorcFest event that presciently foresaw the coming culture war personified by James Weeks IIyears before he dazzled the LP in Orlando earlier this year, is writing again and she doesn’t mince words:
“I’m sure that those experiencing cognitive dissonance will be delighted not to have to hear my judge-y pontifications and daily reminders regarding their lack of accountability for their chosen proxy’s wrongdoings. Your deafening silence on these illegal wars of aggression, the war crimes, the prosecutions of govt whistleblowers, the protectionism of corporate misdeeds, the institutional injustice, the rise of the police state, the violations of civil liberties and human rights throughout Obama’s tenure have weighed on me heavily enough. I don’t intend to go through another 4 years of more of the same and continue to act like something isn’t seriously wrong here. I won’t waste my time attempting to convince you of anything anymore, especially the importance of being consistent with your words and deeds. I also know that if we interact IRL I won’t be able to contain the disappointment from my eyes for your actions that contribute to the death & destruction heaped upon others, the further usurpation of even more of our liberties, and the direct impact you are imparting on my personal life with my beloved in Moscow because of the regrettable choice you made. I think about her every second and the impact that this election will potentially have on our relationship and it troubles me deeply.”
And don’t try to justify mass murder and theft with pandering, Buzz will have none of that, and your mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends deserve better than that condescending line of reasoning. They should demand heroic women take prominence in society, not vile appendages of the State, like Hillary Clinton.
“Another weasel justification that’s not going to fly is this prospect of the “first woman president” and glass ceiling nonsense. If you are going to claim that this election is about empowering women, then why would you pick the absolute worst woman available? The darling of the military industrial complex who’s never seen a war she didn’t support. “Mama Warbucks”. A Wall St. lackey who will take a nickel from anyone. If you were really about empowering women, you would be protecting the most weak, poor, and vulnerable women in the world and not electing an elite, over-privileged, Establishment woman that has indiscriminately murdered countless other women, their children, and their families with drones and bombs and bullets.”
UPDATE: Since the time of writing, the first of these events went ahead as scheduled. The event stayed relatively peaceful, and happily, didn’t devolve into a full-on melee like those seen recently in some demonstrations in northern California. The second rally, initially planned for June 10, was canceled by the organizers voluntarily.
In the aftermath of the racially-motivated stabbings that occurred a few weeks ago, Portland’s mayor has publicly called for limiting free speech in the Rose City. Specifically, he has asked the federal government to revoke and deny permits for two upcoming political rallies.
Donald Trump gave the CIA authority to carry out drone strikes against suspected militants. [Link]
Trump has given the Pentagon authority to carry out counterterrorism missions in Yemen without seeking case-by-case approval. [Link]
Donal Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince. Saudi Arabia said the meeting was a turning point in US/Saudi relations. [Link]
The EPA has allowed Monsanto to claim that Roundup does not cause cancer without ever studying the effects of Roundup. [Link]
Lockheed Martian has given Congressmen over $12 million since 2007, and the company spent $128.2 million on lobbying since 2008. The company received $36.2 billion from the federal government in 2015. [Link]
The UK Parliment has passed a bill authorizing the Brexit. The UK prime minister can now invoke Article 50 at any time. [Link]
Turkey has severed diplomatic ties with the Netherlands. [Link]
In Libya, General Haftar has retaken oil fields from Islamic militia forces. Haftar seized the oil fields from Libyan Unity Government located in Tripoli months ago. [Link]
The UN says the Syrian government is responsible for the water shortages in Damascus. For two months, people in the Damascus area have struggled to get water. The water pipeline that carries water to Damascus was damaged and initially reported that Syrian rebels had caused the damage. The UN reports it was caused by a Syrian airstrike. [Link]
A deal has been agreed to by Syrian rebels and the Syrian government. The deal will allow rebels and citizens loyal to the rebels to leave the city of Homs. The deal will be carried out over the next six to eight weeks. [Link]
The UN Special Envoy to Yemen reports that neither side of the war is willing to engage in peace talks. [Link]
My interview on the Liam Cardenas’ Show about the Terror War. LISTEN HERE!!
But now Obama has decided to go ahead and backstab al Nusra along with Islamic State. So long and thanks for all the suicide bombings and forced conversions.
The Washington Post, ground zero of the regime change consensus in DC can’t even say “al Qaeda” in their headline without giving them “credit” for helping to fight against the Ba’athists:
Obama directs Pentagon to target al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, one of the most formidable forces fighting Assad
President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to find and kill the leaders of an al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria that the administration had largely ignored until now and that has been at the vanguard of the fight against the Syrian government, U.S. officials said.
The decision to deploy more drones and intelligence assets against the militant group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra reflects Obama’s concern that it is turning parts of Syria into a new base of operations for al-Qaeda on Europe’s southern doorstep, the officials said.
The move underlines the extent to which Obama has come to prioritize the counterterrorism mission in Syria over efforts to pressure President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, as al-Nusra is among the most effective forces battling the Syrian government.
That shift is likely to accelerate once President-elect Donald Trump takes office. Trump has said he will be even more aggressive in going after militants than Obama, a stance that could lead to the expansion of the campaign against al-Nusra, possibly in direct cooperation with Moscow. The group now calls itself Jabhat Fatah al-Sham — or Front for the Conquest of Syria — and says it has broken with al-Qaeda, an assertion discounted by U.S. officials.
The United States has conducted sporadic strikes in the past against veteran al-Qaeda members who migrated to northwestern Syria from Afghanistan and Pakistan to join al-Nusra and whom U.S. officials suspected of plotting against the United States and its allies.
Obama’s new order gives the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, wider authority and additional intelligence-collection resources to go after al-Nusra’s broader leadership, not just al-Qaeda veterans or those directly involved in external plotting.
The White House and State Department led the charge within the Obama administration for prioritizing action against the group. Pentagon leaders were reluctant at first to pull resources away from the fight against the Islamic State.
But aides say Obama grew frustrated that more wasn’t being done by the Pentagon and the intelligence community to kill al-Nusra leaders given the warnings he had received from top counterterrorism officials about the gathering threat they posed.
In the president’s Daily Brief, the most highly classified intelligence report produced by U.S. spy agencies, Obama was repeatedly told over the summer that the group was allowing al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan to create in northwest Syria the largest haven for the network since it was scattered after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Officials also warned Obama that al-Nusra could try to fill the void as its rival, the Islamic State, lost ground.
Lisa Monaco, Obama’s White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, said Obama’s decision “prioritized our fight against al-Qaeda in Syria, including through targeting their leaders and operatives, some of whom are legacy al-Qaeda members.”
White House officials had considered launching a more systematic campaign to destroy al-Nusra from top to bottom, much like the Pentagon’s approach to the Islamic State. But that option was rejected as too resource-intensive. Many of al-Nusra’s fighters are Syrians who joined the group because of its ample supply of weapons and cash, and its commitment to defeating Assad, not to plot against the West.
Officials said the strikes on leadership targets were meant to send a message to more-moderate rebel units, including those backed by the CIA, to distance themselves from the al-Qaeda affiliate. At critical moments during the five-year-old civil war, moderate rebel units have fought alongside al-Nusra in ground operations against Assad’s forces. In fact, U.S. officials credit those rebel campaigns in the spring of 2015 with putting so much pressure on the Syrian government that Russia and Iran decided to double down militarily in support of Assad.
U.S. officials who opposed the decision to go after al-Nusra’s wider leadership warned that the United States would effectively be doing the Assad government’s bidding by weakening a group on the front line of the counter-Assad fight. The strikes, these officials warned, could backfire on the United States by bolstering the group’s standing, helping it attract more recruits and resources.
Officials who supported the shift said the Obama administration could no longer tolerate what one of them described as “a deal with the devil,” whereby the United States largely held its fire against al-Nusra because the group was popular with Syrians in rebel-controlled areas and furthered the U.S. goal of putting military pressure on Assad. Russia had accused the United States of sheltering al-Nusra, a charge repeated Thursday in Moscow by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“The president doesn’t want this group to be what inherits the country if Assad ever does fall,” a senior U.S. official said. “This cannot be the viable Syrian opposition. It’s al-Qaeda.”
Officials said the administration’s hope is that more-moderate rebel factions will be able to gain ground as both the Islamic State and al-Nusra come under increased military pressure.
A growing number of White House and State Department officials, however, have privately voiced doubts about the wisdom of applying U.S. military power, even covertly, to pressure Assad to step aside, particularly since Russia’s military intervention in Syria last year.
U.S. intelligence officials say they aren’t sure what Trump’s approach to U.S.-backed rebel units will be once he gets briefed on the extent of the covert CIA program. Trump has voiced strong skepticism about arming Syrian rebels in the past, suggesting that U.S. intelligence agencies don’t have enough knowledge about rebel intentions to pick reliable allies.
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and other Pentagon leaders initially resisted the idea of devoting more Pentagon surveillance aircraft and armed drones against al-Nusra. In White House Situation Room meetings, Carter and other top Pentagon officials argued that the military’s resources were needed to combat the Islamic State and that it would be difficult to operate in the airspace given Russia’s military presence, officials said.
While Obama, White House national security adviser Susan E. Rice, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and special presidential envoy Brett McGurk agreed with Carter on the need to keep the focus on the Islamic State, they favored shifting resources to try to prevent al-Nusra from becoming a bigger threat down the road.
A senior defense official said additional drone assets were assigned to the JSOC mission. Carter also made clear that the Pentagon’s goal would be to hit al-Nusra leadership targets, not take strikes to try to separate the moderate rebels from al-Nusra, officials said.
“If we wake up in five years from now, and Islamic State is dead but al-Qaeda in Syria has the equivalent of [the tribal areas of Pakistan] in northwest Syria, then we’ve got a problem,” a second senior U.S. official said.
Isn’t this just absolutely amazing? I mean not that it’s been a secret for the last 5 years or anything, but still, these kind of admissions that these terrorists, who have sworn their loyalty to Ayman al Zawahiri, the Butcher of New York City, at least up until now have been considered helpful in the fight against Assad — and even that the Secretary of Defense has been fighting against this policy, while the CIA has been backing them and their friends all along are pretty amazing to see admitted so openly. Thanks Post for being honest with us for once.
(Me predicting Bay of Pigs style back-stab of Syrian al Qaeda 3 1/2 years ago here.)