At dawn, US-backed and self-proclaimed president of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, announced the "final phase" of his coup against the Maduro government. While defections from the military are minor at this point, it is unknown whether the coup will reach critical mass. In the US, both Republicans and Democrats - who not long ago were furious over claims that the Russians have interfered in our elections - are cheering this US interference in Venezuelan elections. US neocons have joined the battle from the safety of their keyboards.
By Ron Paul
Russian gun rights activist and graduate exchange student Maria Butina was sentenced to 18 months in prison last week for “conspiracy to act as a foreign agent without registering.” Her “crime” was to work to make connections among American gun rights activists in hopes of building up her organization, the Right to Bear Arms, when she returned to Russia.
She was not employed by the Russian government nor was she a lobbyist on Putin’s behalf. In fact the Putin Administration is hostile to Russian gun rights groups. Nevertheless the US mainstream media and Trump’s Justice Department are treating her as public enemy number one in a case that will no doubt set the dangerous precedent of criminalizing person-to-person diplomacy in the United States.
The Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) was passed in 1938 under pressure from the FDR Administration partly to silence opposition to the US entry into World War II. While a handful of cases were prosecuted during the war, between 1966 and 2015 the Justice Department only brought seven FARA cases for prosecution.
Though very few cases have been brought on FARA violations, one of them was against Samir Vincent, who was paid millions of dollars by Saddam Hussein to lobby for sanctions relief without registering. He got off with a fine and “community service.”
Millions of dollars in unregistered payments from Saddam Hussein gets no jail time, while Butina gets 18 months in prison for privately promoting a cause most Americans support! How is this justice?
The US Justice Department is not even as tough on illegals who commit capital crimes in the US!
Unfortunately Maria Butina was in the wrong place at the wrong time. With the rise of the “Russiagate” hysteria, Butina’s case was seen as a useful tool by Democrats to push the idea that President Trump was put into office by the Russians. Plus, many of them are also hostile to our Second Amendment and to the National Rifle Association. So it was a perfect storm for Butina.
Sadly, conservatives are mostly silent on this miscarriage of justice. They are also caught up in the idea that America can only be great if it goes abroad seeking monsters to destroy.
Also, a new Cold War is very profitable to the military industrial complex and Butina serves an important propaganda purpose. The media is an all-to-willing participant in this farce.
Even though Trump has been exonerated by a Mueller investigation that didn’t even view the Butina case as worth investigating, the President has been silent on her persecution. This is similar to his sudden silence on Wikileaks now that Julian Assange may be facing an eternity in a US supermax prison.
As author James Bamford wrote recently in an excellent New Republic article on the Butina case, the national security agencies are also eager to get another notch in their belts and the Russian gun activist was low-hanging fruit for their ambitions.
Non-interventionists believe strongly in citizen-to-citizen diplomacy as a way of avoiding war and conflict overseas. Exchange students, international business ventures, tourism, and just communicating with others is such an important way to thwart the plotting of the warmongers who lurk in all governments.
I am saddened to see that the United States has made such a hostile move toward peaceful foreign citizens seeking friendship with Americans. When citizens are no longer allowed to engage in diplomacy we are left with only the state. And the state loves war.
Saudi Arabia recently executed 37, most of them Shiites, for, among other minor crimes participating in a political protest. At least two victims were under 18 at the time of their "crimes." President Trump has spoken of our "shared values" with the Saudis. Is this what he means?
The economy is booming, we are told. Unemployment is nearly non-existent! Jobs for everyone! But at the same time homelessness is on the rise, leading several major US cities to declare an emergency over the problem. Why the discrepancy? Are government stats wrong?
A shock call from President Trump to head of the Libyan National Army, "Field Marshall" Hafter, praising him for keeping the oil safe in eastern Libya, has upended US policy. Now the US supports both the UN-appointed government in Tripoli and Hafter's forces fighting against it. What's it all about? Iran, sanctions, Saudi Arabia, oil, and Israel. Who wins in this international proxy war...?
By Chris Rossini
Individual Liberty is rooted in a single principle: non-aggression.
In a free society, no one would be permitted to use aggressive force against anyone else. No one would be allowed to hire or "vote" for someone to use aggressive force against anyone else.
Aggressive force is a crime, and it would be treated like one.
But right now, we're dealing with the opposite. Long ago, before any of us were born, the idea that government is permitted to use aggressive force became the accepted norm.
Aggressive force became institutionalized, monopolized and concentrated.
We find ourselves today in the midst of gang warfare (euphemistically referred to as "politics".) Whether it be left or right ... progressive or conservative ... all are fighting amongst each other to see who will wield this violent and aggressive force.
Neither side can admit that they are engaged in gang warfare. They both believe that their causes are righteous. In their minds, they have to use violence in order to create peace. They have to steal in order to create prosperity. They have to destroy other nations in order to bring them freedom.
They never achieve any of their stated goals....but failure fails to act as an incentive because taxpayer money is always ripe for the picking.
While both sides claim to believe in peace, there is no question that they have made peace their enemy. While both claim to believe that their violence will create security, they have made every individual's life, liberty and property completely insecure.
Everyone is just one election away from being under siege by the other gang. The other gang will take your money and force you to fund their violence -- whether it be in the form of welfare or warfare.
Government-driven gang warfare brings out the very worst in people. It makes lying perfectly acceptable and normal. After all, if you're going to use violence, or the threat of violence, you can't let a mere lie stand in your way. Hence, politicians are not only permitted to lie, they're expected to lie!
As the gang warfare erodes civilization, the lying becomes so severe that the truth itself become the mortal enemy. Everything must be monitored, and censorship is sought after.
Censor the other gang!!
The truth cannot be allowed to gain any traction.
When peace is the enemy, and truth is the enemy, the madness ratchets up to sickening levels.
In order to protect themselves, the political gang leaders start to work together: "We'll let you have your war, if you let us have our welfare."
They horse trade their violent acts.
The distinction between the political gangs starts to fade away. The only difference is the rhetoric that they use to keep their followers in line.
Next up on the list is the price tag. The cost of maintaining this monopoly of aggression becomes astronomical!
Now economics joins peace and truth as a mortal enemy.
Debt doesn't matter! ... Just print the money! ... Fix interest rates! ... Fix prices!
Tax the rich guy ... Tax the poor guy ... Tax, Tax Tax!
Economics is what always breaks the back of aggressive government. The simple reason is that it can't be stopped. Supply and Demand is not subject to a government 'ban.'
Economic law always wins. It's undefeated.
But what a shame that this dark road was taken in the first place. And once it's taken, it appears from all of history that it has to run its course.
Once people get used to the idea of using aggressive force against others, the only thing that finally stops them is they simply can't afford it anymore.
Considering the financial condition of the United States governments (on all levels) they don't have many more rabbits to pull out of their hats.
Someday, instead of a rabbit, they will pull default out of the hat.
Then it will be time to re-think things.
Individual Liberty is rooted in a single idea: non-aggression.
What an amazing idea!
After the neocons blew up President Trump's February meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un by actually proposing the "Libya scenario," Kim finds himself meeting tomorrow for the first time with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Instead of being pushed around and given a list of demands, Kim is expected to sign trade deals and improve relations. Is this the end of hope for a US/North Korea deal? If so...who is to blame?
By Ron Paul
Imagine being robbed every time you receive a paycheck, but once a year getting some of the stolen money back because the thieves took more than they intended. Would you be happy about it? If you are like most Americans the answer is yes, since most people are grateful when they get a partial “refund” of the taxes the government withheld from their paychecks. A tax refund means more taxes were taken out of your paycheck than you legally owed — in other words, thanks to withholding you gave the government a no-interest loan.
Withholding, which was supposed to be a “temporary measure” to help finance World War II, is an insidious way of minimizing the pain of, and thus opposition to, taxes. Because people never actually get possession of the money the government withholds, they don’t miss it. Imagine how great public demand for an end to the income tax would be if every month we had to write a check to the IRS.
This year, most Americans are owing less in taxes because of last year’s tax reform. Unfortunately, the benefits of the tax cut are going to be temporary because Congress and the President refuse to cut spending. In the two years that Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, federal spending increased by approximately 7.5 percent, or around $300 billion. Thanks to the GOP’s spending spree the federal deficit will reach $1 trillion this year, while the federal debt is now over $22 trillion dollars. This does not count the almost $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities which includes over $70 trillion in future Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Spending is going to increase for the foreseeable future. House Democrats have proposed increasing welfare spending by 5.7 percent to $630 billion and warfare spending by 2.1 percent to $664 billion. Many Republicans are complaining that the budget underfunds the military, while progressives say it underfunds domestic programs. Few in DC are willing to cut either welfare or warfare.
Government spending diverts resources from the private sector, thus damaging the economy and lowering our living standards. This is true whether the spending is financed by direct taxes or debt. Deficit spending, and the resulting pressure on the Federal Reserve to monetize the debt, increases the hidden and regressive inflation tax.
Government statistics are manipulated to understate the inflation rate. The Republican tax plan helps government hide the true inflation level by authorizing the use of the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI). Chained CPI makes it easier for the government to understate the effects of inflation by pretending that you are not negatively affected by price increase if, for example, you can still by hamburger instead of steak—even though the only reason you are buying hamburger is because Federal Reserve-caused inflation has made steak unaffordable.
Bill Rice, Jr., writing in The American Conservative, blames CPI manipulation for what he calls “shrinkflation.” Shrinkflation is when producers reduce product size to avoid, or minimize, price increases, so consumers pay more for less.
Tax cuts that are not paired with spending cuts are deferred tax increases. Unless the people and the politicians kick the welfare-warfare habit they will soon face increases in inflation and other taxes. The key to avoiding this is to restore a proper understanding of sound economics and the philosophy of liberty among the people. Politicians will only cut spending when the people stop demanding security and start demanding liberty.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton have vowed to strangle Iran and cut off all oil exports. They claim it's because of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and missiles and its support for terrorism. In a recent speech at Texas A&M University he finally told the truth about the CIA and the neocons - they lie and cheat and steal. So should we believe him now?
By Jacob G. Hornberger
As most everyone knows, the federal government is now in debt to the tune of more than $22 trillion. Since federal officials are now spending, on an annual basis, around a trillion dollars more than what they are bringing in with taxes, that is going to raise the federal debt by a trillion dollars every year. We are reminded of this phenomenon by the periodic debate on whether Congress should raise the debt ceiling, an implicit acknowledgment that too much federal debt is not a good thing, especially since the feds will ultimately tax the American people to pay back what they have borrowed to fund their welfare-warfare state.
On the welfare-state side, the big-ticket items are Social Security and Medicare, the two crown jewels of the American welfare state. Abolishing them would go a long way toward resolving the fiscal problem.
Yet, to even suggest such a thing brings howls of lamentation, despair, and rage from both conservatives and liberals. These two socialist programs go to the core of their joint statist philosophy. They’re not about to touch either one, especially since that would alienate seniors, who unfortunately have grown dependent on the government dole.
On the warfare-state side, the big-ticket items are the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, and the NSA, along with their foreign and domestic empire of military bases and their forever wars, occupations, regime-change operations, coups, invasions, wars of aggression, and ongoing assassination program. Dismantling America’s national-security establishment and restoring a limited-government republic to our land would go a long way toward resolving the fiscal problem.
Yet, to even suggest such a thing brings howls of lamentation, despair, and rage from both conservatives and liberals. The warfare state goes to the core of their joint statist philosophy. Moreover, there is no possibility that the national-security establishment would ever consent to its own dismantling or to even a major reduction in the amount of tax money that it expects to be allocated every year.
In the middle of this fiscal morass are a multitude of mid-sized or small-sized federal programs, such as the drug war, farm subsidies, education grants, the SBA, and Radio Martí. Abolishing all of them would go a long way toward resolving the fiscal crisis. But conservative and liberal supporters maintain that abolishing any one of them would do nothing significant to reduce overall federal spending and, therefore, they say, each and every one of them should be left intact.
So, where does that leave the nation? On a track toward national bankruptcy, where the federal government lacks the money to cover its welfare-warfare state spending and, at the same time, service the interest on its debt, much less pay down the debt.
Think Greece. At some point, things could get pretty nasty, with the feds desperately looking everywhere they can to seize money, such as IRA accounts and 401k accounts, and replace them with government bonds, much like President Franklin Roosevelt did during the emergency economic crisis in the 1930s when he seized everyone’s gold and replaced it with government bonds.
But here’s an idea: Why not abolish foreign aid, all foreign aid?
After all, foreign aid is really nothing more than welfare for foreign officials. Like other welfare-state programs, it’s funded by money that the IRS extracts from American taxpayers. After covering the expenses of the IRS and the federal bureaucracies that perform this “service,” billions of dollars are sent to public officials in foreign countries.
What do those foreign officials do with it? Some of them line their personal pockets with it. Others use it to help cover governmental expenses.
The obvious question arises: Why should the American people be plundered and looted to subsidize the personal lifestyles of foreign officials or to subsidize foreign governmental operations? Why shouldn’t Americans instead be free to keep that money for themselves, for such things as mortgage payments, children’s education, a new car, or a vacation? Why should the needs of foreign officials have priority over the needs of American citizens?
If U.S. officials were honest, they would acknowledge that foreign aid is nothing more than bribery. The foreign aid is never “free.” It comes with strings. The strings say: Do as we say or you will lose your dole. So, when the U.S. government needs votes in the United Nations, international dole recipients know full well what their duty is. Or when the U.S. government needs a “coalition of the willing” to support one of its imperialist adventures, it knows that it can call on its international dole recipients. Even when the U.S. Empire is going it alone in some foreign escapade, it knows it can count on no criticism from its dole recipients, or else.
There is also a moral element to foreign aid — the fact that American tax money is being used in immoral ways, including oppression of innocent people. Two good examples of this phenomenon involve Israel and Egypt. U.S. foreign aid to Israel helps the Israeli government maintain its brutal system of oppression against the Palestine people. U.S. foreign aid to Egypt enables the Egyptian military dictatorship to maintain its brutal system of oppression against the Egyptian people.
If American citizens want to support the Israeli government or the Egyptian government with private donations, so be it. But why should any American be forced to support either system of oppression through a system based on plunder and foreign-aid welfare?
Abolishing all foreign aid would not, in and of itself, resolve America’s spending-debt fiscal crisis. But at least it would move the United States in the right direction — a direction of morality, fiscal responsibility, and freedom.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.