The capture and then release of ten US sailors in Iranian waters has the neocons in the US in a frenzy. Bilateral diplomacy between John Kerry and Iranian foreign minister Zarif defused the crisis quickly, but Washington's warhawks scream that we should not have allowed the issue to be resolved peacefully.
By Daniel McAdams
The two US Navy riverine command boats intercepted in Iranian territorial waters yesterday were sent on their way along with the crew of 10 US sailors after brief detention on Iranian soil. According to news reports, the well-armed warships either suffered mechanical or navigational difficulties which caused them to enter Iranian territory (although it may well have been a game of cat-and-mouse to test the Iranian response). The US sailors were apparently treated well, enjoyed what appeared a decent meal in relaxed surroundings, and in the end apologized for the mistake and praised their treatment by the Iranians.
Thanks to President Obama's policy shift on Iran toward engagement and away from isolationism, Secretary of State John Kerry was able to telephone his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zarif and quickly defuse what just months ago would have been a far more serious situation.
This should be a good-news story about the value of diplomacy and reducing tensions with adversaries, but Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was having none of it. That Kerry expressed his appreciation to the Iranians for swiftly releasing the American sailors only showed the Obama Administration’s "craven desire to preserve the dangerous Iranian nuclear deal at all costs evidently knows no limit," said McCain in a press release.
McCain was furious that "Obama administration officials seem to be falling over themselves to offer praise for Iran’s graciousness" and was outraged that the Iranians dared interfere with the actions of US military vessels operating in Iranian waters.
In the world of John McCain, only the United States has the right to national sovereignty. The US military has the right to act anywhere and everywhere and the rest of the world dare not raise a question.
According to McCain, "sovereign immune naval vessels are exempt from detention, boarding, or search. Their crews are not subject to detention or arrest." Imagine the tune McCain would have been singing if a well-armed Iranian naval vessel had been spotted in US territorial waters off the coast of New York. Would he have so rigorously condemned any US interference in the actions of Iran's sovereign naval vessels?
Leave it to some clever Twitterers to post an example of the difference between US and Iranian detention.
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute For Peace & Prosperity.
By Chris Rossini
Last night's State of The Union speech was pretty much what should be expected these days from U.S. Presidents: delusions, lies, fabrications, and contradictions.
While article after article can be written analyzing such occurrences, this one will concentrate on Obama's foreign policy contradictions. It's always amusing to watch politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth in a single speech!
If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote.
Hey, how about that!
Congress hasn't done its job in authorizing war since World War II.
Is Obama willing to put down the guns, until Congress declares war?
Of course not!
In the very next sentence, the president says that it doesn't matter whether Congress votes or not. He'll run the show no matter what:
But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America’s commitment — or mine — to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden.
So in the same breath, Obama spoke about obeying the Constitution and patted himself on the back for violating it. The president also defined his actions as being equal to "America's commitment".
Obama would contradict himself again.
He starts by asking a very sensible question:
How do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?
Such a question has a very simple answer. It's called a foreign policy of non-intervention. No entangling alliances. America can (once again) "lead the world" by setting a good example. The world can once again look at America as a land of liberty, rather than as a brutal military empire.
Sadly, Obama doesn't really want these things. He follows up by boasting about how America polices the world!
Fortunately, there’s a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight.
What an insult to every American's intelligence.
Peace and non-intervention are so much more preferable and advantageous to us when compared to this duplicitous nonsense.
President Obama turned to the use of Executive Orders to clamp down on the sales of firearms in the US, particularly the sales between two non-dealers. Will more background checks for law-abiding citizens solve the gun violence problem, or is the real gun violence problem something entirely different?
By Ron Paul
While I am extremely disappointed with the outcome of the vote, this vote ought to put the Federal Reserve on notice. With the American people firmly on our side on Fed transparency, and momentum shifting our way in recent Congresses, the Federal Reserve will not be able to continue operating in secrecy from the people’s representatives much longer.
The American people understand that we should not cede control of our economy and our prosperity to a small, unelected group of central planners. The average American, unlike big-spending politicians and crony capitalists, do not benefit from the Fed’s policies.
Once again, Rand is leading the way in the U.S. Senate by continuing the push for Audit the Fed, and I urge him and his colleagues to keep pursuing Audit the Fed until it passes both chambers and is signed by the President.
By J. Wilson
With three weeks to go until actual voting begins in Iowa people are finally starting to make up their minds about who they’re voting for. Despite this, the media has decided that now is the time to start limiting Republican voters’ choices with arbitrary debate criteria. They aren’t trying to shrink the stage to make voters’ choices easier though; it’s much more sinister than that.
There’s an ulterior motive that caused FOX Business’ debate criteria to be so tough. Now that Graham and Pataki have dropped out of the race the undercard debate would only have two candidates; Santorum and Huckabee. While that should have caused the undercard debate to be eliminated, FOX Business doesn’t want to forgo the advertising dollars. They’re keeping the undercard debate but of course they can’t have a debate with only two candidates. Therefore, FOX Business had to make up some tough criteria to knock a couple candidates off the main stage in order to fill up the undercard.
FOX Business established that a Republican candidate would need to finish in the top six in national polls, or in the top five in polls from Iowa or New Hampshire. As a result, there are a couple Republican candidates who will not make the debate stage this Thursday. They’ll be sent down to fill up the undercard debate instead.
Barring a miracle Carly Fiorina will not be in the FOX Business debate with the rest of the top tier candidates. She will be relegated back down to the undercard debate from whence she came. Fiorina’s numbers peaked months ago at 15% and have slid down to the 2% support she holds today. Those numbers plus the fact that she hasn’t filed for the ballot in every state and doesn’t have any early state ground organization to speak of it earns her a spot in the undercard. She does not have a first tier campaign and never did. In fact, Fiorina probably shouldn’t have been included in the last debate either. She’s been running for VP from day one and should never have been taken seriously. It’s about time Carly Fiorina is kicked off the main stage.
Although he has a strong case for inclusion Rand Paul is also on the bubble and may be unfairly excluded from the FOX Business debate. They established that a candidate would need to finish in the top six in national polls, or the top five in polls from Iowa or New Hampshire. That seems odd, why not top six in both? Well, if they did it that way Rand Paul would be guaranteed a spot on the stage. Rand Paul is currently statistically tied for fifth place in Iowa, and in seventh place in New Hampshire and nationally. Rand Paul is one point behind Bush in the national average although he beat Bush by a point in the third most recent poll. Paul beat Bush by one point in the latest Iowa poll as well. Furthermore, with 1,012 precinct chairs in Iowa, and more than 500 organizers in New Hampshire he actually has the first tier ground game needed to win.
Frankly, it’s an outrage that Rand Paul is going to be kept from the FOX Business debate stage because the network wanted to fill out the undercard and sell ads. While the undercard debate should have been cancelled long ago, if it must go on it can survive with Fiorina, Santorum, and Huckabee. They don’t need to force Paul down in order to prop it up nor is it right to.
Hopefully FOX Business will come to their senses and realize how shameful their actions have been. Discriminating against candidates in order to split the debates and make more money would be a new low for the media. Rand Paul has a first tier campaigns and deserves to be on the main stage. He should have never been excluded in the first place and deserves an exception to the unfair criteria now.
This article was originally published at A Libertarian Future.
Which special interests get the special treatment? Which foreign countries get bailed out? Money for regime change? Too big to fail? The Federal Reserve is the Mordor of the warfare/welfare state and it depends on secrecy for its power. That's precisely why we must demand scrutiny of its activities. Audit it, then end it, and take back our country!
By Paul-Martin Foss
Yes, the headline isn’t at all shocking, but Ben Bernanke has opened his mouth and stuck his foot in it again, this time on “Audit the Fed” which is coming up for a vote in the Senate. Once more Bernanke trots out tired old canards that have been debunked time and time again. So yet again, let’s take a look at some of his arguments and see what he gets wrong.
Argument: The Fed Is Already Audited
“The Fed is already thoroughly audited in the usual sense, by an independent inspector general and by an outside accounting firm (currently, Deloitte and Touche), and the resulting financial reports are made public online. Every security owned by the Fed, up to the detail of the identifying CUSIP number, is also available online. Moreover, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which does in-depth reviews and analyses (“audits” of a different type) of government activities at the request of Congress, has wide latitude to review Fed operations, including supervision and regulation as well as other functions.”
When most people think of audits, they think of financial audits. Bernanke attempts to use that to confuse people as to the purpose of Audit the Fed. The Federal Reserve Board has been required for over a decade to have an outside auditor audit its financial statements. Per 12 USC 248b:
“The Board Shall order an annual independent audit of the financial statements of each Federal reserve bank and the Board.”
But Bernanke’s assertions mislead in three ways.
5 USC Appendix 8G(c):
For purposes of implementing this section, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System shall appoint the Inspector General of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
5 USC Appendix 8G(d)(1):
Each Inspector General shall report to and be under the general supervision of the head of the designated Federal entity, but shall not report to, or be subject to supervision by, any other officer or employee of such designated Federal entity. Except as provided in paragraph (2), the head of the designated Federal entity shall not prevent or prohibit the Inspector General from initiating, carrying out, or completing any audit or investigation, or from issuing any subpena [sic] during the course of any audit or investigation.
Basically what Bernanke is saying is, we can audit ourselves if we want to, so just trust us that we’ve investigated ourselves and found ourselves fully trustworthy. Sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it. Nemo judex in causa sua – no one should be a judge in his own case. To expect that an outside auditor or the Fed’s IG, who serves at the Chairman’s pleasure, will do anything that might displease the Chairman is absurd. If the Fed wants to be taken seriously as a transparent federal entity, it needs to allow Congress, and specifically Congress’ watchdog, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), to fully audit the Fed’s operations. As GAO states:
Our Work is done at the request of congressional committees or subcommittees or is mandated by public laws or committee reports. We also undertake research under the authority of the Comptroller General. We support congressional oversight by
The full audit called for by Audit the Fed would necessarily include not just a financial audit (if that were determined to be necessary), but performance and operational audits as GAO is accustomed to carrying out. Remember that when the bill that allowed the very limited auditing of the Federal Reserve System was first being debated, GAO testified that it could not fully audit the Federal Reserve System without access to the Fed’s monetary policy and open market operations (emphasis added):
H.R. 2176 provides that our auditing would not include open market transactions conducted by the Federal Reserve System. We strongly suggest that this restriction be modified.
A full audit as called for by Audit the Fed is not just a financial audit, it encompasses performance and operational audits. The Fed has escaped full-scale auditing for its entire existence. With a balance sheet of $4.5 trillion, it is well past time for a thorough accounting of its actions to Congress. A full Federal Reserve audit is even more pressing now than it was 40 years ago.
Argument: Congress Wants To Audit Monetary Policy Decisions Immediately
The principal effect of the bill would be to make meeting-by-meeting monetary policy decisions subject to Congressional review and, potentially, Congressional pressure. The bill would do this by repealing existing restrictions, imposed by Congress nearly forty years ago, on what the GAO can examine when reviewing the Fed. The most important such restriction blocks the GAO from reviewing “deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy matters,” as well as “discussion or communication among or between members of the Board and officers and employees” related to such deliberations. The repeal of the existing restrictions would accordingly allow the GAO to view all materials and transcripts related to a meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) at essentially any time and require the GAO, at Congressional request, to provide recommendations on monetary policy, including potentially on individual FOMC interest-rate decisions.
In response to Chairman Bernanke’s assertions at the time Audit the Fed was first being debated, Congressman Paul wrote a letter to the Chairman offering to discuss how the language of Audit the Fed could be modified to assuage his concerns. A letter was sent through the mail, and I hand-delivered a copy to Federal Reserve General Counsel Scott Alvarez after he testified before the House Financial Services Committee, asking him to present it to Chairman Bernanke since Dr. Paul had not received any response from the Fed. We never did receive a response, yet we still tried to modify the language of the bill to provide that audits of the Fed could not deal with anything less than six months old. It’s one thing for Bernanke and the Fed to object that Congress could look over the Fed’s shoulder the day after. But when the sponsor of Audit the Fed offers to work with the Fed to change the language to address their concerns and receives no response, you have to assume that Bernanke’s argument isn’t showing genuine concern about the bill’s language but is rather an attempt to quash the bill and ensure that the Fed’s operations remain in the shadows. If the Fed isn’t willing to negotiate, you have to assume that their arguments aren’t being made in good faith.
Argument: Congress Wants To Undermine The Fed’s Independence
However, this goal is not best achieved by overturning longstanding practice and effectively inserting Congress and the GAO into monetary policy decisions, calling into question the Fed’s independence. The risk is that GAO reviews and recommendations concerning individual monetary policy decisions would provide a vehicle for members of Congress to apply political pressure on the Fed.
Audit the Fed’s original sponsor, Congressman Ron Paul, has no desire to see Congress involving itself in monetary policy at all, and he has a 30-plus year track record of trying to get the government out of the monetary arena. As far as I know, the bill’s current sponsor, Senator Rand Paul, also has no desire to see Congress meddling in monetary policy. Both of them would like to see the government, both Congress and the Fed, out of dictating monetary policy at all. But absent the abolition of the Federal Reserve System and an understanding on the part of Congress that monetary policy is harmful to the economy, the fact remains that the Federal Reserve does engage in monetary policy. And as long as the Fed does engage in monetary policy, should its operations not be open to and accountable to Congress and the American people? This bill is really just about openness and transparency of those monetary policy operations. Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, and their fellow travelers in Washington, DC realize that, but they don’t really want transparency. If Congress really wanted to involve itself in the day to day dealings of monetary policy, it could draft a bill to do just that. But Congress hasn’t done that and Audit the Fed wouldn’t authorize that either.
Remember how it took a lawsuit filed by Bloomberg against the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors to find out who exactly the Fed was loaning money to during the financial crisis. The Fed will fight against transparency tooth and nail. We can only hope that the Fed will continue to lose its fight against transparency and that Audit the Fed will eventually become the law of the land. If Bernanke, Yellen, et al. are really serious about having their concerns addressed, they should discuss with the bill’s sponsors the adoption of language assuaging some of their stated concerns. Otherwise, their arguments should be dismissed as just another attempt to escape responsibility and ensure that Congress and the American people remain unaware of what the Fed is up to.
This article was originally published at The Carl Menger Center.
In response to a reported North Korean nuclear test, the US flew a B-52 over Korean territory. US military leaders claim we must confront North Korea to defend the US homeland. Meanwhile, Congress jumps into the game with more sanctions legislation on the Floor this week.