After 17 years of war, innumerable new "strategies," and trillions of dollars spent, the US war in Afghanistan is no closer to being "won" than ever. Will naming yet another war commander do the trick? Don't hold your breath!
By Ron Paul
As a general rule, when Dick Cheney favors a foreign policy position it’s best to be on the opposite side if you value liberty over war and authoritarianism. The former vice president’s enthusiastic endorsement of not only Gina Haspel as CIA director but of the torture program she oversaw should tell us all we need to know about Haspel.
Saying that Haspel would make a great CIA director, Cheney dismissed concerns over the CIA’s torture program. Asked in a television interview last week about the program, Cheney said, “if it were my call, I’d do it again.”
Sadly, the majority of the US Senate agreed with Cheney that putting a torturer in charge of the CIA was a good idea. Only two Republicans – Senators Paul and Flake – voted against Haspel. And just to confirm that there really is only one political party in Washington, it was the “yes” vote of crossover Democrats that provided the margin of victory. Americans should really be ashamed of those sent to Washington to represent us.
Just this month, the New York Times featured an article written by a woman who was kidnapped and send to the secret CIA facility in Thailand that Haspel was said to have overseen. The woman was pregnant at the time and she recounted in the article how her CIA torturers would repeatedly punch her in the stomach. She was not convicted or even accused of a crime. She was innocent. But she was tortured on Haspel’s watch.
Is this really what we are as a country? Do we really want to elevate such people to the highest levels of government where they can do more damage to the United States at home and overseas?
As the news comes out that Obama holdovers in the FBI and CIA infiltrated the Trump campaign to try and elect Hillary Clinton, President Trump’s seeming lack of understanding of how the deep state operates is truly bewildering. The US increasingly looks like a banana republic, where the permanent state and not the people get to decide who’s in charge.
But instead of condemning the CIA’s role in an attempted coup against his own administration, Trump condemned former CIA director John Brennan for “undermining confidence” in the CIA. Well, the CIA didn’t need John Brennan to undermine our confidence in the CIA. The Agency itself long ago undermined the confidence of any patriotic American. Not only has the CIA been involved in torture, it has manipulated at least 100 elections overseas since its founding after WWII.
As President Trump watched Gina Haspel being sworn in as CIA director, he praised her: “You live the CIA. You breathe the CIA. And now you will lead the CIA,” he said. Yes, Mr. president, we understand that. But that’s the problem!
The problem is not Haspel, it’s not John Brennan, it’s not our lack of confidence. The problem is the CIA itself. If the president really cared about our peace, prosperity, and security, he would take steps to end this national disgrace. It’s time to abolish the CIA!
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo threatened Iran with annihilation in a speech yesterday at the neoconservative Heritage Foundation. His twelve demands of Iran read like the demands made of Serbia in 1914 -- they are designed not to reduce tensions but to lead to war. But is all the bombast in the Trump Administration on Iran just a sign of weakness? The claims in Pompeo's speech are demonstrably false. Why lie when the lies are so easy to refute?
Do we have actual elections in the US, or does the CIA and deep state do the deciding? The news that longtime CIA operative Stefan Halper infiltrated the Trump campaign at the behest of the FBI should be the biggest news in the country. To the extent that the media is covering it, they are furious that the CIA infiltrator was exposed in the media. Do we even care anymore that we are manipulated by the secret government?
Every bubble goes through different phases before it finally bursts. They all end in a euphoric crack-up boom. In less than a year, the U.S. government has been clocking in debt at an average of $52,000 per SECOND, which more than what the average American earns in an entire YEAR! Is the U.S. government bubble finally reaching the end?
EU President Donald Tusk has openly broken with Washington over Trump's pullout from the Iran deal, Gaza, and looming tariffs, Tweeting recently that "with friends like these who needs enemies?" Will this expanding US/EU rift be the good kind of "blowback" from Trump's "capricious assertiveness" in foreign policy?
By Daniel L. McAdams
This week's killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza was not just the work of Netanyahu and his hard-line government. Blame should be shared by the US neocons, a section of US religious radicals, the US Congress, and Beltway opportunists whose growing wealth depends on knowing which way the wind blows. And also partly by the rest of us who allow our government to send our money overseas to enrich "friends" and smite "foes."
This is not to say that we are "taking sides." But we cannot help notice that the death and maiming was unanimously visited on one side, with 60 Palestinians dead and more than 1,500 -- including journalists, women, children -- receiving Israeli army gunshot wounds, usually an exploding bullet delivered by a sniper to a Palestinian knee, ensuring a whole generation of cripples. And we cannot help notice the horrific conditions the Palestinians are forced to endure, especially those in Gaza which Ron Paul once likened to a concentration camp.
People often angrily ask why we don't rage against Israel or "the Zionists" on our Liberty Report and in Institute publications. Our intent has never been to single out entire groups or to meddle into the internal affairs of foreign countries. While we do believe it is fair to criticize the governments of some foreign countries for their actions (for example, we are often highly critical of our "ally" Saudi Arabia), our real intent is to focus on what actually is our business: the US government's facilitating, supporting, even encouraging actions and policies taken by foreign governments that run counter to our interests or to basic morality.
As I mentioned on the Liberty Report, people want to know whether you are pro-Israel or pro-Palestine -- what's wrong with just being pro-American? As I said in the program, how on earth does President Trump's moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem serve American interests? What's in it for us? There is a religious group that supports the move because they believe it will hasten the end of the world, but the last time I checked we are not a theocracy and our government should not be in the business of undermining national interests to fulfill the idiosyncratic wishes of religious fundamentalists.
Yes, people should be allowed to believe whatever they wish when it comes to religion, but shouldn't we draw the line when it comes to those who actually push for World War III because they believe God needs our help to end the world?
Thankfully for us non-interventionists there is a relatively easy way out. We don't have to endorse either cause. We only have to call on our government to stay out of it. Stop moving embassies to please special-interest groups while increasing blowback risk. Stop funneling US tax dollars -- whether filtered through the State Department, the Defense Department, the CIA, or the Fed -- overseas. Stop acting as the world's largest arms dealer. Enough with "regime change" or "regime preservation" overseas.
As legendary investor and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb has said on our Liberty Report, if only outside powers had not intervened in the Israel/Palestine conflict it would likely have already resolved itself. Certainly the situation would be better than it is today.
President Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton was bombastic on the Sunday talk shows, demanding essentially a North Korea surrender rather than setting the stage for mutually beneficial talks. As we predicted just a week ago, Bolton is making his move to blow up Trump's North Korea breakthrough.
By Liberty Report Staff
Ron Paul joins TRT world to discuss President Trump's erratic foreign policy.
Dr. Paul joins the conversation at the 5min 20sec mark:
Pretzel Logic: CEO Admits He Didn't Know What He Was Talking About When He Advocated a $15.00 Minimum Wage
By Robert Wenzel
Bill Phelps, co-founder and chief executive officer of the California-based Wetzel's Pretzels franchise, was a prominent advocate for the Golden State's $15 a hour minimum wage for several years, but has recently changed his opinion, reports the Washington Examiner. He now says that the rate — which has only just reached $11 — is already squeezing his businesses and hurting workers, and he worries things will likely get worse as minimum wage rises to the $15 level.
The CEO in 2016 wrote a pretzel twisted advocacy of a higher minimum wage in an op-ed for Forbes where he said, get this, "I’ve paid very close attention to our business as California has raised the minimum wage over the past couple of years. And what I found was stunning. When California increased the state minimum wage from $8 to $9 an hour in July 2014, our same-store sales doubled in the next two weeks and stayed that way for six months. When the minimum increased again in January of this year to $10, the same thing happened; our same-store growth rate more than doubled."
But now with the minimum wage at $11.00 he says, " I see a change happening now. I think fast food in general is flat to declining and you've got wage increases and the operators are getting squeezed."
"I was very bullish on the minimum wage increase. It was working really well for us. It was working okay for the fast food industry but there is no question you are going to have to see a reduction in the number of restaurants that are out there. You are going to see a reduction in service. And you are going to see more people going to technology to reduce labor costs," Phelps said.
"I see it — and everyone else I talk to in the restaurant business sees it — as a huge challenge. It is a total squeeze on the franchisees and I think it is going to result in less jobs, less restaurants and less service. That's how I see it today," Phelps said in a phone interview with the Examiner.
"I see the next wave of increases as these cities and states go from $11 to $15 as being hugely problematic. And that's where the issue is," Phelps said. He said that states such as California would likely see a growing chorus from business to halt the increases. He said he was willing to do some lobbying himself, if necessary. "My concern is that by the time we react it'll be too late."
Phelps said that at Wetzel's, and the entire fast food industry, automation of stores was one avenue that is being strongly looked at.
It is certainly a twist from 2016 when Phelps wrote:
Numbers don’t lie. Increasing the pay of millions of Californians has not increased unemployment.
This article was originally published at EconomicPolicyJournal.com