Friday, November 16, 2012

Ron Paul’s Most Memorable Moments

Ron Paul’s Most Memorable MomentsThe following are Ron Paul’s most memorable moments, according to the Washington Post. I would add his no-holds-barred farewell speech to Congress, which perfectly summarized his principles.

Like him or not, the elder Paul made "libertarian" a household word. This man started a movement and ultimately had much more impact on American politics than any recent GOP presidential candidate. The Republican establishment did its best to suffocate the movement Dr. Paul started, but, suffering humiliating defeat to the worst president in the history of the republic amid the worst economy since the Great Depression, it is the establishment that has the proverbial egg on its face. The future of the GOP is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and the movement Dr. Paul started will only continue to grow and influence the party that foolishly rejected his principles.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said farewell to Congress on Wednesday in a 48-minute speech on the House floor. The 77-year-old is wrapping up his seventh term representing the Lone Star State’s 14th District, and his 11th term overall in the House.
Throughout his tenure, Paul has inspired a loyal legion of supporters that extends well beyond the boundaries of his district. Thrice a presidential candidate and never shy about his views, Paul’s libertarian-leaning brand of politics left its mark on Congress and the broader political landscape. We look back below at the most memorable moments in his career.

2008/2012 presidential campaigns: Viewed as merely a marginal candidate by many mainstream Republicans in the 2008 primary, Paul turned heads in December of 2007 when he raised an eye-popping $6 million in a one-day “money bomb.” The physician-turned-congressman cultivated a national grassroots following and spurred an enthusiastic burst of online donations. Still, he never came close to winning the nomination and was largely shunned for the 2008 Republican National Convention.
But he would return four years later to a GOP primary campaign in which he refused to go quietly. Paul’s backers effectively took over the delegate selection process in some states he didn’t win, bringing him to within striking distance of securing a speaking slot at the convention. His relative rise prompted Republican officials to take notice — and to eventually adopt rules changes to make it more difficult to accomplish such a feat in the future.

Conscious of the strength of Paul’s following and the danger of ignoring them, Paul was welcomed more warmly at the 2012 GOP convention than he was four years before: His son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was given a speaking slot, and officials helped the elder Paul secure a venue in Tampa for an event on the sidelines of the convention.
He even made a convention floor appearance (see below). For the record, he never officially endorsed Mitt Romney, even at the very end of the campaign.

The gold standard: Okay, so this isn’t any one moment, but no other member of Congress has advocated as vocally for returning to the gold standard as Paul, which is why we included this on our list. As the 2012 Republican presidential campaign went on and Paul received as much attention as ever, more Americans were introduced to a monetary idea with which those who have followed Paul for years were familiar.

Stand against FEMA: Paul, a limited government conservative, has been an outspoken opponent of the federal government’s disaster management agency. After Hurricane Ike in 2008 hit the Texas coast in 2008, Paul voted against a measure that was designed to bring aid to the area, which includes his district.

2002/2003 Iraq War opposition: A self-described non-interventionist, Paul was one of just six House Republicans who voted against authorizing U.S. military action against Iraq in the fall of 2002 and the only House Republican who voted “present” on a March 2003 resolution “expressing the Support and Appreciation of the Nation for the President and the Members of the Armed Forces Who are Participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Here’s a floor speech on Iraq that Paul delivered in 2002:

2001 vote against USA PATRIOT Act: Paul broke with his party when he was one of just three House Republicans who voted against authorizing the PATRIOT Act.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Highlights From Ron Paul's Farewell Speech

Highlights From Ron Paul's Farewell SpeechIn case you've been living under a rock, Ron Paul delivered his farewell speech to Congress today. Dr. Paul, who began his political career in the 1970's and never strayed from his message of liberty in his nearly 40 years as an elected official, will retire from politics when his House term ends next month. Today, he delivered an excellent, brutally honest farewell speech that perfectly summarizes the principles of the man who made "libertarian" a household word. Some highlights (h/t EPJ):

In many ways, according to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress, from 1976 to 2012, accomplished very little. No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways—thank goodness.

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One side doesn’t give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn’t give up one penny on welfare spending, while both sides support the bailouts and subsidies for the banking and corporate elite.

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The country and the Congress will remain divisive since there’s no “loot left to divvy up” [as the financial and economic crisis intensifies].

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If authoritarianism leads to poverty and war and less freedom for all individuals and is controlled by rich special interests, the people should be begging for liberty.

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The wealth that we enjoyed and seemed to be endless, allowed concern for the principle of a free society to be neglected.

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Without an intellectual awakening, the turning point will be driven by economic law. A dollar crisis will bring the current out-of-control system to its knees.

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The great news is the answer is not to be found in more “isms.” The answers are to be found in more liberty which costs so much less.

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Welfare for the rich and poor is considered an entitlement.

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The drone warfare we are pursuing worldwide is destined to end badly for us as the hatred builds for innocent lives lost and the international laws flaunted.

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Why haven’t we given up on the drug war since it’s an obvious failure and violates the people’s rights? Has nobody noticed that the authorities can’t even keep drugs out of the prisons? How can making our entire society a prison solve the problem?

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Why is patriotism thought to be blind loyalty to the government and the politicians who run it, rather than loyalty to the principles of liberty and support for the people? Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong.

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Why do some members defend free markets, but not civil liberties?
Why do some members defend civil liberties but not free markets? Aren’t they the same?

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Too many people have for too long placed too much confidence and trust in government and not enough in themselves

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Politicians deceive themselves as to how wealth is produced. Excessive confidence is placed in the judgment of politicians and bureaucrats. This replaces the confidence in a free society. Too many in high places of authority became convinced that only they, armed with arbitrary government power, can bring about fairness, while facilitating wealth production. This always proves to be a utopian dream and destroys wealth and liberty. It impoverishes the people and rewards the special interests who end up controlling both political parties.

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It’s no surprise then that much of what goes on in Washington is driven by aggressive partisanship and power seeking, with philosophic differences being minor.

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Humanitarian arguments are always used to justify government mandates related to the economy, monetary policy, foreign policy, and personal liberty. This is on purpose to make it more difficult to challenge. But, initiating violence for humanitarian reasons is still violence. Good intentions are no excuse and are just as harmful as when people use force with bad intentions.

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It is rather strange, that unless one has a criminal mind and no respect for other people and their property, no one claims it’s permissible to go into one’s neighbor’s house and tell them how to behave, what they can eat, smoke and drink or how to spend their money.

Yet, rarely is it asked why it is morally acceptable that a stranger with a badge and a gun can do the same thing in the name of law and order. Any resistance is met with brute force, fines, taxes, arrests, and even imprisonment

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Restraining aggressive behavior is one thing, but legalizing a government monopoly for initiating aggression can only lead to exhausting liberty associated with chaos, anger and the breakdown of civil society. Permitting such authority and expecting saintly behavior from the bureaucrats and the politicians is a pipe dream. We now have a standing army of armed bureaucrats in the TSA, CIA, FBI, Fish and Wildlife, FEMA, IRS, Corp of Engineers, etc. numbering over 100,000. Citizens are guilty until proven innocent in the unconstitutional administrative courts.
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Government in a free society should have no authority to meddle in social activities or the economic transactions of individuals. Nor should government meddle in the affairs of other nations. All things peaceful, even when controversial, should be permitted.

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Granting power to government officials always proves the adage that: “power corrupts.”

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Sacrificing a little liberty for imaginary safety always ends badly.
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Liberty can only be achieved when government is denied the aggressive use of force.
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Government use of force to mold social and economic behavior at home and abroad has justified individuals using force on their own terms. The fact that violence by government is seen as morally justified, is the reason why violence will increase when the big financial crisis hits and becomes a political crisis as well.

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When government officials wield power over others to bail out the special interests, even with disastrous results to the average citizen, they feel no guilt for the harm they do.
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Some argue it’s only a matter of “fairness” that those in need are cared for. There are two problems with this. First, the principle is used to provide a greater amount of benefits to the rich than the poor. Second, no one seems to be concerned about whether or not it’s fair to those who end up paying for the benefits. The costs are usually placed on the backs of the middle class and are hidden from the public eye. Too many people believe government handouts are free, like printing money out of thin air, and there is no cost. That deception is coming to an end.
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Sadly, we have become accustomed to living with the illegitimate use of force by government. It is the tool for telling the people how to live, what to eat and drink, what to read and how to spend their money.
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To develop a truly free society, the issue of initiating force must be understood and rejected. Granting to government even a small amount of force is a dangerous concession.

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Most politicians and pundits are aware of the problems we face but spend all their time in trying to reform government. The sad part is that the suggested reforms almost always lead to less freedom and the importance of a virtuous and moral people is either ignored, or not understood. The new reforms serve only to further undermine liberty.

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Expect the rapidly expanding homeschooling movement to play a significant role in the revolutionary reforms needed to build a free society with Constitutional protections. We cannot expect a Federal government controlled school system to provide the intellectual ammunition to combat the dangerous growth of government that threatens our liberties.

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The internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda. This is why it’s essential that the internet remains free of government regulation.

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Under the current circumstances the most we can hope to achieve in the political process is to use it as a podium to reach the people to alert them of the nature of the crisis and the importance of their need to assume responsibility for themselves, if it is liberty that they truly seek.

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Productivity and creativity are the true source of personal satisfaction. Freedom, and not dependency, provides the environment needed to achieve these goals. Government cannot do this for us; it only gets in the way.

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Achieving legislative power and political influence should not be our goal. Most of the change, if it is to come, will not come from the politicians, but rather from individuals, family, friends, intellectual leaders and our religious institutions. The solution can only come from rejecting the use of coercion, compulsion, government commands, and aggressive force, to mold social and economic behavior.

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What a wonderful world it would be if everyone accepted the simple moral premise of rejecting all acts of aggression. The retort to such a suggestion is always: it’s too simplistic, too idealistic, impractical, na├»ve, utopian, dangerous, and unrealistic to strive for such an ideal.

The answer to that is that for thousands of years the acceptance of government force, to rule over the people, at the sacrifice of liberty, was considered moral and the only available option for achieving peace and prosperity.

What could be more utopian than that myth—considering the results especially looking at the state sponsored killing, by nearly every government during the 20th Century, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions. It’s time to reconsider this grant of authority to the state.
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No good has ever come from granting monopoly power to the state to use aggression against the people to arbitrarily mold human behavior. Such power, when left unchecked, becomes the seed of an ugly tyranny. This method of governance has been adequately tested, and the results are in: reality dictates we try liberty.
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The idealism of non-aggression and rejecting all offensive use of force should be tried. The idealism of government sanctioned violence has been abused throughout history and is the primary source of poverty and war. The theory of a society being based on individual freedom has been around for a long time. It’s time to take a bold step and actually permit it by advancing this cause, rather than taking a step backwards as some would like us to do.

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Today the rule of law written in the Constitution has little meaning for most Americans, especially those who work in Washington DC.

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To achieve liberty and peace, two powerful human emotions have to be overcome. Number one is “envy” which leads to hate and class warfare. Number two is “intolerance” which leads to bigoted and judgmental policies. These emotions must be replaced with a much better understanding of love, compassion, tolerance and free market economics. Freedom, when understood, brings people together. When tried, freedom is popular.
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Why is democracy held in such high esteem when it’s the enemy of the minority and makes all rights relative to the dictates of the majority?

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The ultimate solution is not in the hands of the government.

The solution falls on each and every individual, with guidance from family, friends and community.
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I have come to one firm conviction after these many years of trying to figure out “the plain truth of things.” The best chance for achieving peace and prosperity, for the maximum number of people world-wide, is to pursue the cause of LIBERTY.

Fiscal Cliff In One Must-See Graphic

Fiscal Cliff In One Must-See Graphic
You have to hand it to USA Today. They consistently produce informative infographics. Today, they published the ultimate in "fiscal cliff" graphics. The following quantifies the potential economic damage in one sharp, easy-to-understand image. According to their sources, the worst case scenario is a decline in GDP of 3.6%.

Fiscal Cliff In One Must-See Graphic - graphic

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The BIG Petraeus Story: FBI's Abuse Of Power

The BIG Petraeus Story: FBI's Abuse Of Power
Surprise, surprise, the MSM missed the big story within the David Petraeus scandal. The big story isn't about the timing of the scandal, although that is interesting considering the circumstances around the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi. The story is the reason why--and the degree to which--the FBI got involved: Jill Kelley used a high-ranking contact of hers within the FBI to spur a invasive investigation to which the bureau devoted substantial resources based on nothing but a handful of unflattering emails. Glenn Greenwald has done an excellent job of doing our MSM's job for them. Says Greenwald:
It appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email. The emails Kelley received were, as the Daily Beast reports, quite banal and clearly not an event that warranted an FBI investigation.
Greenwald hits the bull's eye with this paragragh:
So all based on a handful of rather unremarkable emails sent to a woman fortunate enough to have a friend at the FBI, the FBI traced all of Broadwell's physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They dug around in all of this without any evidence of any real crime - at most, they had a case of "cyber-harassment" more benign than what regularly appears in my email inbox and that of countless of other people - and, in large part, without the need for any warrant from a court.
And he continues:
But that isn't all the FBI learned. It was revealed this morning that they also discovered "alleged inappropriate communication" to Kelley from Gen. Allen, who is not only the top commander in Afghanistan but was also just nominated by President Obama to be the Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (a nomination now "on hold"). So not only did the FBI - again, all without any real evidence of a crime - trace the locations and identity of Broadwell and Petreaus, and read through Broadwell's emails (and possibly Petraeus'), but they also got their hands on and read through 20,000-30,000 pages of emails between Gen. Allen and Kelley. 
The FBI's investigation of the David Petraeus scandal is a prime example of abuse of power in federal law enforcement and the surveillance state run amok.

John McAfee: Hard Drugs And MURDER?

John McAfee: Hard Drugs And MURDER?
This is an incredible story. John McAfee, founder of McAfee software, is wanted for murder in Belize. It's common knowledge that McAfee is eccentric, but the circumstances around the investigation will make even those who are familiar with him do a double take.

The antivirus software pioneer's story unfolds as the archetypical heavy narcotics tragedy. McAfee who had been residing in Belize, sought to create a libido enhancement drug using "bath salts" as a base. In his pursuit of formulating what he referred to on the message board Bluelight as the "ultimate party drug", he got mixed up with hardened Latin American drug cartel members, experimented with powerful hallucinogens, and allegedly gunned down his neighbor, American expatriate Gregory Faull, with whom McAfee had a tumultuous relationship. McAfee, who has gone into hiding, claims to be innocent. Wow.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kristol: Rand Paul "Plausible" 2016 Prez Candidate

Kristol: Rand Paul "Plausible" 2016 GOP Candidate
Neoconservative Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, recently admitted on Fox's Special Report that the "Ron Paul wing" of the GOP is "formidable", and Rand Paul would make a "plausible" presidential candidate in 2016. This is not the first time Kristol has forecast big things from the younger Paul. In 2010 he characterized Rand as "sophisticated, complicated, attractive, plainspoken, honest, and thoughtful". But Kristol's latest reference to Paul in the context of speaking about the future of the Republican Party suggests that establishment Republicans are finally accepting that the party will become fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

Many libertarians see Rand as a heretic because he's willing to make compromises. This couldn't be a more misguided viewpoint. The only way libertarianism will take hold in this country is if libertarians quit the intellectual purity nonsense and move the liberty movement forward as elected officials. Rand has been making compromises in order to climb in Washington, and, now that even Bill Kristol sees him as a "plausible" presidential candidate, I dare say you can't argue with the results.

Kristol starts talking about Rand around 1:30.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Crux Of America's Debt Crisis

The Crux Of America's Debt Crisis
Whether or not Congress prevents us from falling over the "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year by kicking the can down the road one more time, the nation will continue to face a debt crisis whose size the average American cannot begin to imagine. Not an average American, Simon Black, publisher of Sovereign Man, accomplishes the impossible by both quantifying and qualifying the crux of the our debt problem, mandatory spending and interest payments, in a succinct blog post:

1) When the US federal government spends money, expenses are officially categorized in three different ways.

Discretionary spending includes nearly everything we think of related to government– the US military, Air Force One, the Department of Homeland Security, TSA agents who sexually assault passengers, etc.

Mandatory spending includes entitlements like Medicare, Social Security, VA benefits, etc. which are REQUIRED by law to be paid.

The final category is interest on the debt. It is non-negotiable.

Mandatory spending and debt interest go out the door automatically. It’s like having your mortgage payment autodrafted from your bank account– Congress doesn’t even see the money, it’s automatically deducted.

2) With the rise of baby boomer entitlements and steady increase in overall debt levels, mandatory spending and interest payments have exploded in recent years. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office predicted in 2010 that the US government’s TOTAL revenue would be exceeded by mandatory spending and interest expense within 15-years.

That’s a scary thought. Except it happened the very next year.

3) In Fiscal Year 2011, the federal government collected $2.303 trillion in tax revenue. Interest on the debt that year totaled $454.4 billion, and mandatory spending totaled $2,025 billion. In sum, mandatory spending plus debt interest totaled $2.479 trillion… exceeding total revenue by $176.4 billion.

For Fiscal Year 2012 which just ended 37 days ago, that shortfall increased 43% to $251.8 billion.

In other words, they could cut the entirety of the Federal Government’s discretionary budget– no more military, SEC, FBI, EPA, TSA, DHS, IRS, etc.– and they would still be in the hole by a quarter of a trillion dollars.

4) Raising taxes won’t help. Since the end of World War II, tax receipts in the US have averaged 17.7% of GDP in a very tight range. The low has been 14.4% of GDP, and the high has been 20.6% of GDP.

During that period, however, tax rates have been all over the board. Individual rates have ranged from 10% to 91%. Corporate rates from 15% to 53%. Gift taxes, estate taxes, etc. have all varied. And yet, total tax revenue has stayed nearly constant at 17.7% of GDP.

It doesn’t matter how much they increase tax rates– they won’t collect any more money.

5) GDP growth prospects are tepid at best. Facing so many headwinds like quickening inflation, an enormous debt load, and debilitating regulatory burdens, the US economy is barely keeping pace with population growth.

6) The only thing registering any meaningful growth in the US is the national debt. It took over 200 years for the US government to accumulate its first trillion dollars in debt. It took just 286 days to accumulate the most recent trillion (from $15 trillion to $16 trillion).

Last month alone, the first full month of Fiscal Year 2013, the US government accumulated nearly $200 billion in new debt– 20% of the way to a fresh trillion in just 31 days.

7) Not to mention, the numbers will only continue to get worse. 10,000 people each day begin receiving mandatory entitlements. Fewer people remain behind to pay into the system. The debt keeps rising, and interest payments will continue rising.

8) Curiously, a series of polls taken by ABC News/Washington Post and NBC News/Wall Street Journal show that while 80% of Americans are concerned about the debt, roughly the same amount (78%) oppose cutbacks to mandatory entitlements like Medicare.

9) Bottom line, the US government is legally bound to spend more money on mandatory entitlements and interest than it can raise in tax revenue. It won’t make a difference how high they raise taxes, or even if they cut everything else that remains in government as we know it.
Remember that America's debt-to-GDP ratio is over 100%, and studies suggest that ratios over 90% are drags on economies. But the crisis we face certainly won't be addressed as long as Obama is in office. This president, like his predecessor, has made it perfectly clear that he doesn't mind rapidly growing debt.