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Eric July Hits a Homerun with ISOM #1

I have never been a fan of comic books, but I have followed Eric July since I first heard him on The Tom Woods Show circa 2018.

Aside from Batman and Spider-Man, I have never really liked superheroes. With rare exception, the last fifteen years of AAA superhero films struck me as unoriginal, boring, and cringe. Perhaps that feeling was just an indication of a cashed-out and corrupted industry.

Despite all this, when I heard that Eric July was launching his own comic book company, I suddenly became interested in the medium.

As a fellow content creator, I often study what it is about certain creators that drives their success. Even before Eric’s wildly successful Rippaverse launch, his achievement was an interesting case study.

With the Rippaverse, Eric further evolves the elements of his brand that made him popular in the first place: hard work, genuineness, and affability. He has good takes. It also helps that he is not a libertarian first creator, something that gives him broader appeal. Above all, he holds a type of swagger that is directed at just the right people. Like Dave Smith’s, it makes you root for him, because he is your guy.

When the Rippaverse was announced, I immediately ordered a copy of ISOM #1. The buzz was electric. I could feel it flowing from the keyboard as I typed in my purchase information. I don’t know exactly why. Perhaps, it felt like this campaign was where the battle was: taking back an entire industry.

And I am part of it. We all are.

After making the purchase, and waiting for the orders to be shipped, I cheered for Eric’s success. But I was also a bit worried. What if the buzz was just a cathartic middle finger to a burnt-out industry? Would we all continue on to praise a sub-par production just because it wasn’t woke?

Today I found out. ISOM #1 came in the mail this weekend.

As with the preceding ISOM campaign, I could tell from the packaging that Rippaverse Comics is run by actual comic book fans. The packaging itself encased my issue in a manner that assured it couldn’t be bent, scratched, or torn.

When I actually sat down to read ISOM #1, I found the story immediately compelling. The story’s major conflict was presented within the first five pages: a meeting between old friends that takes an unexpected turn.

The world building did not suffer from overly-expositional dialogue. At times, I had to put the puzzle pieces together myself. This is good. I do not need my hand held through a story (…ahem…Rings of Power). The breadcrumbs of background made me ask questions about the universe, questions that I wanted answers to. Answers that I could only get by turning the page…or buying the next issue.

As someone who did not grow up reading comic books, I can’t help but think that this is what the original experience was like.

ISOM is an interesting character. He clearly has faults. He is impulsive. He does not plan. Neither does he win every fight. He puts his family in danger. He doesn’t visit his niece as much as he should. He didn’t do anything with his life. But he also has good qualities. He cares about Jasmine, his sister, and his niece. He is a badass in the same vein as John Wick. Following his story will be interesting because he is set to learn lessons and confront problems as the story progresses.

All in all, ISOM #1 did not disappoint. Through hard work, integrity, and vision, Eric July has identified a market and planted a flag. His first issue delivered.

It will be our love for the art and the lore that will take back the entertainment industry. Sadly, we cannot save the franchises we loved. We just have to build new ones.

The Rippaverse is just getting started. It seems positioned for continued success. I will revel in its rise.

But it also feels like the beginning of something larger.

Congratulations, Eric. Here’s to ISOM #2.

Correcting Another Corporate Media Lie About Hero Edward Snowden

When Russian President Vladimir Putin granted citizenship to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on Monday, the news revived a long-simmering debate about the propriety of his revelations of U.S. government secrets. At the same time, it prompted reiterations of a widely-embraced falsehood: that Snowden “fled to Russia.”

That disinformation-trafficking wasn’t limited to random people on social media. Among others, The New York TimesThe GuardianABC, Christian Science Monitor and Canada’s CBC all asserted in the past week that Snowden “fled to Russia” in 2013 after revealing that the United States government had created a mass surveillance regime targeting its own citizens, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

What many people don’t realize — and what some people both inside the government and out of it purposefully ignore — is that Snowden wasn’t traveling to Russia, but merely through it.

When he left Hong Kong after meeting with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras and turning over hundreds of thousands of stolen files, Snowden’s ultimate destination was Quito, Ecuador.

It’s important to note that Snowden says that, before leaving, he destroyed his cryptographic keys that provided him access to the files, and didn’t bring any copies of the files with him.

At the time, the Ecuadoran government was providing political asylum to Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange at the country’s London consulate, and Snowden hoped Ecuador would provide him asylum as well.

Snowden’s itinerary was arranged such that he wouldn’t land in countries that would extradite him to the United States. Nor would he cross U.S. airspace along the way. He was to make four flights in all, taking him from Hong Kong to Moscow, then Havana, Cuba; Caracas, Venezuela and finally Quito.

However, upon arriving in Moscow, Snowden was escorted by Russian security officials to an airport conference room, where they informed him that, while he was flying to Moscow, the Obama administration had invalidated his passport.

Read the rest of this article at Stark Realities with Brian McGlinchey

A Libertarian Stance on Disaster Relief

Last week Congress passed a continuing resolution and then adjourned until after the election. When Congress reconvenes, it will almost certainly pass a multi-billion dollars aid package for those impacted by Hurricane Ian. This spending will likely be labeled “emergency,” so Congress members will not even have to pretend they are offsetting the new spending with cuts in other, lower priority programs.

The failure of Congress to offset spending on disaster relief with cuts in other programs is one reason why I always voted against disaster aid when I was in Congress, even when the spending was for disasters that occurred in my district. Of course, I also opposed these bills because disaster relief is unconstitutional and immoral as are all other income redistribution programs.

When I voted against disaster relief, my office would receive angry calls from constituents. However, within several months many of those constituents would call back to say that after dealing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) they realized that disaster victims would be better off without federal “help.”

Federally managed disaster relief is neither efficient nor compassionate. My office often heard from frustrated individuals whose plans to rebuild were put on hold because of delays in getting federal assistance.

My staff and I heard many horror stories of FEMA mistreating disaster victims. For example, FEMA was supposed to put a tarp on a house whose roof was destroyed in Hurricane Ike, but it put the tarp on the house next door, even though that house’s roof was fine. When the owner of the house that needed a tarp called FEMA, he was told it would be several weeks before FEMA could send someone out to correct FEMA’s mistake. The homeowner told FEMA that he would move the tarp himself with assistance of his neighbors. FEMA told him that anyone who touched the tarp without FEMA’s approval would be fined and maybe thrown in jail.

In the days following a hurricane, my staff and I also heard complaints from people about how government officials were preventing them from entering their own property. Of course, these restrictions were all claimed to be “for the people’s own good.”

FEMA’s failures are the inevitable result of placing authority over disaster relief in a large, centralized bureaucracy. Therefore, the problem cannot be fixed by changing personnel or updating or streamlining FEMA’s procedures. Instead, FEMA should be abolished, and responsibility for disaster relief should be returned to individuals, local communities, and civic and charitable organizations. Individuals should be able to deduct from their income taxes 100 percent of the costs of recovering from a natural disaster. Businesses affected by a natural disaster should also be provided generous tax relief. Tax-free savings accounts could help Americans accumulate funds for use in the event of a natural disaster.

In 1900, a major hurricane devastated Galveston, Texas. Despite the fact that FEMA or other federal disaster relief programs did not then exist, the people of Galveston managed to rebuild their city. This proves that there is no justification for federal involvement in disaster recovery. The federal government should return responsibility for disaster relief to the people by shutting down FEMA. Congress should also ensure people have the resources to take care of themselves by ending the welfare-warfare state, repealing the 16th Amendment and the associated income tax, and auditing then ending the Federal Reserve.

This article was originally featured at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and is republished with permission.

On Ukraine, Democrat and GOP Leadership Agree That War is Good

Over the past seven months, the Biden administration has pursued an increasingly escalatory policy to help Ukraine kill tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, destroy Russian military assets and even attack targets inside Russia itself. As I mentioned in my number one rated article in The National Interest published earlier today entitled “Will American Aid to Ukraine Provoke a Russian Nuclear Strike?”, Biden’s undeclared proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is increasingly likely to provoke the outbreak of an unnecessary World War Three with Russia. Such a war could cost the lives of over 200 million Americans and even more Europeans over Russia’s claim to 6.4% of the territory Ukraine controlled and 2.4 million of its citizens, many of whom have since fled, before the war in the Donbass region. Unbelievably, virtually no elected US leaders or anyone in the liberal mainstream media seems to care whether Biden’s continued policy of national suicide in fighting his undeclared proxy war against Russia in Ukraine ends up provoking a nuclear war with Russia or not. Here is a link to a video interview I gave on September 21st in response to Putin’s proclamation earlier that day that Russia would annex all occupied Ukrainian territory and that he has issued a decree ordering the mobilization of 1.2 million Russian Army reservists which would enable him to increase Russia’s troops in Ukraine by up to five to seven times.

There is a perverse, irrational, and historically unsupportable ideology which has infested the leaders of both major political parties in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., causing neoconservative Republicans and liberal internationalists to form an unholy alliance in support of fighting this never-ending war against Russia in Ukraine which is leading America down the primrose path toward a nuclear apocalypse. These U.S. leaders have proven incredibly ignorant and naive, opting to willfully blind themselves and bury their heads in the sand when it comes to the existential threats we face from the Sino-Russian military alliance which has recently achieved supremacy over the U.S. both in terms of nuclear weapons as well as nation-ending super-EMP weapons, which the U.S. does not possess and has no plans to develop. They seem blissfully unaware that the Russian Federation and Communist China could destroy our great nation within a matter of minutes while beating their chest about the need to risk nuclear war with Russia over Ukraine and with China over Taiwan, nations that do not constitute vital national interests and with which the U.S. has no security commitments.

Newly elected British Prime Minister Liz Truss exemplified this collective insanity and insatiable lust for war with Russia when asked whether she would use Britain’s nuclear weapons even if it meant global annihilation and she unthinkingly responded by saying, “Yes, I would” even though she was given no context to the question. Her answer implied that, as British Prime Minister, engaging in a full nuclear exchange with Russia which would destroy the U.K. would be her first consideration rather than a last resort.

Former President Trump has proven to be the most outspoken voice of U.S. national security interests, peace and sanity in both major U.S. political parties. At a rally on January 30th, Trump declared, “Joe Biden’s weakness and incompetence is creating a very real risk of World War III,” the former president said. “Washington is obsessing over how to protect Ukraine‘s border. But the most important border in the world right now for us is not Ukraine‘s border,” he said. “It’s America’s border and we do nothing about it.” “The first duty of the American president is to defend the American border,” Trump said. “Before our leaders talk about invasions of other countries, they need to stop the invasion of this country.” “[Americans] are sick of politicians who … squander our strength and spill our blood all over the world,” he said. In response to President Trump’s speech expressing concern that Biden would embroil us in an unnecessary Third World War with Russia and stating that the U.S. should stay out of Russia’s war with Ukraine, arch-neoconservative warmonger former Vice President Mike Pence attacked former President Trump and his tens of millions of America First conservative supporters by declaring “there is no room for apologists for Putin in the Republican Party.”

In a statement Trump issued on February 24″ he lamented, “If I were in Office, this deadly Ukraine situation would never have happened!”  He is most likely correct as he would have agreed to Putin’s pre-war demand to issue a written guarantee that Ukraine would never join NATO to prevent Russia from invading it. At a rally held on March 15th while Russia and Ukraine were negotiating a tentative peace deal to end the war, Trump said Biden can still “end this tragedy without getting Americans snared into a gruesome and very bloody war.” “This could lead, by the way, this could lead to World War III,” Trump said. “I see what’s happening. Because if you think Putin is going to stop, it’s going to get worse and worse. He’s not going to accept it and we don’t have anybody to talk to him.” Trump again warned that the way Biden is handling the war in Ukraine could lead to a Third World War with Russia at a rally in June. At a rally in Wilmington, N.C earlier today, President Trump repeated his warning that Biden was leading the U.S. into a Third World War with Russia saying,  “I was right about Ukraine. I was right about what, Taiwan and I’m hoping I’m not going to be right about World War Three, because we have stupid people dealing.” He then predicted the U.S. would lose a war with Russia if Biden decided to fight them. Trump stated, “You could end up in World War III and this will be a war like we’ve never had before – won’t even be close, because we’re being run by stupid people.” That is certainly the understatement of the year.

While Russia has been offering relatively lenient peace terms to Ukraine for the past six and a half months which could have ended the war five months ago, both neoconservative Republicans and liberal internationalists in the Biden administration have vehemently opposed all attempts to negotiate a compromise peace agreement recognizing Russia’s legitimate security concerns while ensuring Ukraine’s security and continued political and economic independence. Indeed, the Biden administration has foolishly refused to have a single conversation with Russian leaders about ending the war in Ukraine with a negotiated peace settlement since the war began, thereby missing a number of opportunities to secure reasonable peace terms for Ukraine and end the war many months ago. As Fox News host Tucker Carlson correctly stated on his TV show on September 22nd, the turning point of the war was Russia’s withdrawal from three Ukrainian oblasts including Kyiv in early April due to insufficient manpower resources to hold territory causing Biden and Boris Johnson to pressure Zelensky to repudiate Ukraine’s tentative peace deal with Russia and the U.S. to engage in an ever-increasing escalation spiral that now appears likely to end in Russian nuclear escalation in the next several weeks to several months.

Lt. General Keith Kellogg, who served as former Vice President Pence’s National Security Advisor stated on Fox News in an interview on September 22nd that Putin will only back down if we keep threatening him and escalating America’s undeclared proxy war against Russia in Ukraine ignoring the fact that if the U.S. and NATO had never threatened Russia, Putin would never have invaded Ukraine in the first place. His ill-informed statement exemplifies the fact that the neoconservatives believe that the only way to prevent war is to engage in an endless escalation spiral, which far from preventing war, is very likely to lead in the next few months to the nuclear level. In order to ‘prevent’ a future war, they say we must confront Putin and fight a world war with him today seemingly oblivious to the fact that such a war will escalate to the nuclear level within a few weeks, if not a few hours.

Neoconservatives mistakenly claim that the lesson of World War Two is that we must never engage in peaceful accommodations of adversaries or it will lead to a world war when in fact it was Britain’s decision to abandon its policy of accommodating Germany and to confront Germany militarily over its claim to the 95% German city of Danzig and the previously ethnic German Polish Corridor which constituted less than 4.4% of Polish territory that led to the outbreak of World War Two. In fact, the lesson of World War Two if Britain had supported a negotiated settlement between Poland and Germany in 1939, that World War Two would have been entirely averted and the lives of fifty million people would have been spared including five to six million Jews.

The myth that it was the Munich Agreement, rather than the ill-considered British military guarantee of Poland that led to the outbreak of the Second World War was begun by British supporters of Winston Churchill who then repeated this lie until it came to be considered fact. Warmongering neoconservatives have since accepted it as sacred and unassailable religious dogma despite the fact that it has no basis whatsoever in fact or reality. They incessantly declare that the year is 1938 and that anyone who does not support a policy of military confrontation with Russia and supports a Reaganite policy of peace through strength and peaceful co-existence with our two nuclear superpower adversaries who are allied in a close military alliance against us is somehow an appeaser of evil. Some neoconservatives have used the same arguments with regards to Communist China despite the fact that they supported the very policies of unilateral free trade that built the PRC up into the greatest nuclear superpower enemy trillions of U.S. trade surplus dollars could buy.

Despite the fact, that they have been proven wrong about everything beginning with their support of Bush’s unprovoked invasion of Iraq in the false belief that Saddam Hussein retained weapons of mass destruction, these America Last neoconservatives have succeeded in retaking control of the Republican Party from America First conservatives after former President Trump left office. They have joined Biden and Democrat congressional leaders in comparing Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to (former British Prime Minister) Winston Churchill, which could hardly be any more ironic given the fact that it was Churchill and FDR who surrendered half of Europe, including Ukraine, to genocidal Russian dictator Josef Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945.

A couple of days ago, Zelensky gave an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper in which he gave his so-called ‘plan for peace’ which included five points to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. More alarmingly, one of his top aides called for a pre-emptive U.S. nuclear first strike on Russia to destroy all of their nuclear missile sites at the first sign that Russia might be thinking about employing one or more low-yield tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Such a US nuclear attack on Russia would lead to an overwhelming Russian nuclear response that would inevitably lead to the destruction of our great nation. Following his interview, he has received nothing but praise from U.S. leaders who support taking the war to Russia to provoke them into using nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

When are Americans going to wake up to the fact that Zelensky’s primary objective of embroiling the US and NATO in a nuclear war with the mightiest nuclear superpower on Earth with over 4.5 more operational nuclear weapons is the polar opposite of the U.S. vital national security interest of averting an unnecessary nuclear war with Russia and China? For this reason, and many others, it is imperative that the Biden administration stop outsourcing U.S. national security policy to Kyiv given the increasingly high stakes and nuclear risks and demand Zelensky return to the negotiating table with Russia without delay.

It is time for all those who love the United States of America, both on the political left and the right, and want to ensure its survival to unite in support of a policy of peace through strength rather than Biden’s policy of war through weakness and demand the Biden administration immediately suspend all lethal military assistance to Ukraine to pressure them to negotiate a peace agreement with Russia on the best terms realistically possible. That is the only sane path for America to pursue to avoid potential nuclear annihilation. Unfortunately, Ukraine may have as little as one week before Russia formally annexes all four Ukrainian regions they occupy. Once that happens, Russia’s minimum acceptable peace terms will be Ukrainian recognition of Russian annexation of all four Ukrainian regions as well as Crimea and thus Ukraine will have no hope of obtaining reasonable peace terms as Russia has been offering them since early March.

This article was originally featured at David Pyne’s substack The Real War and is republished with permission.

TGIF: The Scourge of Conscription

By now Randolph Bourne’s observation that “war is the health of the state” ought to be such a cliche that it would hardly need to be said. And yet, it must be said — often — because many still haven’t gotten the word.

If the state is the adversary of liberty, as it nearly always has been, then it follows that war is also the ill health of liberty. And when one thinks of war, one ought also to think of conscription because it’s often somewhere close by. In a perverse way, Americans have been lucky. The divisive decade-long Vietnam war and access to the latest war-making technology have made the draft just a bad memory for Americans since 1973 and politically toxic. Repeated attempts to bring it back, even with “national service” packaging fortunately have failed.

Outrageously, however, American men 18-25 must register with the euphemistically named Selective Service System, as they’ve been required to do since 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Make no mistake about it. This is not a registration for a benign contest. As the Selective Service website states:

While there is currently no draft, registration with the Selective Service System is the most publicly visible program during peacetime that ensures operational readiness in a fair and equitable manner. If authorized by the President and Congress, our Agency would rapidly provide personnel to the Department of Defense while at the same time providing an Alternative Service Program for conscientious objectors.

How reassuring. The draft is always in the wings. And the penalty for the felony of not registering is a $250,000 fine and/or a five-years prison term.

The evil of slavery is almost universally appreciated, so why is the draft, which is slavery with an expiration date and high risk of death and injury, not universally condemned? Is it because in many places people believe that governments ultimately own their subjects and may dispose of them as they see fit?

The draft has been in the news lately because Russia, the invader, and Ukraine, the invaded, compel men into combat and other military “service.” It is encouraging that neither Russians nor Ukrainians are fans of that policy. Russian men are protesting and some are getting out of the country. Ukraine has had to forbid men from leaving. Many people just don’t relish war.

It should go without saying that if individuals have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then individuals have the right to decide when they will take up arms, free of a despotic elite or majority. We may not always like the consequences of freedom, but that’s how it is.

Until 1973 America had suffered the tyranny of conscription repeatedly, but not everyone accepted it. One of the most eloquent speeches ever delivered in the House of Representatives was aimed at conscription by Rep. Daniel Webster of Massachusetts (1782-1852) in 1814 after a bill to draft men for the lingering War of 1812 had been introduced. Despite Webster’s efforts, the bill passed, but the war ended before it took effect. Originally from New Hampshire, Webster also was a U.S. senator and secretary of state. He was in the Federalist party until 1825. As a staunch nationalist, he opposed nullification by the states of national legislation, a position that will seem at odds with his objection to the conscription bill.

We must bear in mind that Webster’s speech came when many people distrusted standing armies and believed that the national government constitutionally could call up the state militias only in specified emergencies, namely, to “repel invasion, suppress insurrection, or execute the laws.” In the first few decades of the republic, however, membership in the militias was mandatory. But unlike a regular army, the militia did not require full-time service for a period of years. For the rank and file, it was a sideline (like being in a fire brigade) that was part of their normal lives. All but one of America’s earliest wars were fought with such conscripts.

Webster objected not to compulsory military service per se, but rather to a bill according to which the “services of the men to be raised … are not limited to those cases in which alone this government is entitled to the aid of the militia of the States.” In other words, he was making a federalist case against the claims of the national government. This is a far narrower objection than a libertarian might have hoped for, but Webster still had worthwhile things to say against the inherent features of conscription.

Webster thought the bill was an attempted end-run around the Constitution. He asked:

What is this, Sir, but raising a standing army out of the Militia by draft, and to be recruited by draft, in like manner, as often as occasions require?… That measures of this nature should be debated at all, in the councils of a free government, is a cause of dismay. The question is nothing less than whether the most essential rights of personal liberty shall be surrendered, and despotism embraced in its worst form. [Emphasis added.]

Later in the speech he said, “If the Secretary of War has proved the right of Congress to enact a law enforcing a draft of men out of the Militia into the Regular Army, he will at any time be able to prove quite as clearly that Congress has power to create a Dictator.”

He saw the threat of despotism all through the bill:

Is this, sir, consistent with the character of a free government? Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No sir, indeed it is not. The Constitution is libelled, foully libelled. The people of this country have not established for themselves such a fabric of despotism. They have not purchased at a vast expense of their own treasure and their own blood a Magna Charta to be slaves.

Imagine such words being spoken in Congress today. He clearly spelled out the consequences, which should be familiar to all in our own time:

Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it? Under what concealment has this power lain hidden which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest rights of personal liberty?

Who will show me any Constitutional injunction which makes it the duty of the American people to surrender everything valuable in life, and even life itself, not when the safety of their country and its liberties may demand the sacrifice, but whenever the purposes of an ambitious and mischievous government may require it?

Then he addressed the stated concern of Secretary of War John Armstong, a champion of the bill:

But it is said that it might happen that an army would not be raised by voluntary enlistment, in which case the power to raise an army would be granted in vain, unless they might be raised by compulsion. If this reasoning could prove anything it would equally show that whenever the legitimate powers of the Constitution should be so badly administered as to cease to answer the great ends intended by them, such new powers may be assumed or usurped, as any existing administration may deem expedient.

Webster, here sounding like an old Antifederalist, seemed to be rejecting the Constitution’s “necessary and proper” clause as a potential blank check. That doctrine attributed to Armstrong, he said, would result in a central government of unlimited self-defined powers, which he condemned as a violation of the framers’ intent: “An attempt to maintain this doctrine upon the provisions of the Constitution is an exercise of perverse ingenuity to extract slavery from the substance of a free government.”

Should the law pass, he said, it would fall to the states to protect their citizens from that arbitrary national encroachment. The central government would then require an army to enforce conscription, just as it believed it needed conscription to raise an army. Webster said:

It will be the solemn duty of the State Governments to protect their own authority over their own Militia, and to interpose between their citizens and arbitrary power. These are among the objects for which the State Governments exist, and their highest obligations bind them to the preservation of their own rights and the liberties of their people. [Emphasis added.]

How is that not nullification?

In his expectation that the states would protect their citizens from a national draft, Webster’s speech reminds us of the Defend the Guard campaign now going on in state legislatures to end Washington’s power to commit National Guard units to overseas combat without a declaration of war, as has happened throughout the 21st century. (Watch Scott Horton’s speech in Minnesota on behalf of the Defend the Guard movement there.)

The more things change….

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