By Chris Rossini
Presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham took a brief moment from advocating constant war in the Middle East, to advocating confrontation with China. There's never a fight that Senator Graham doesn't want to use your money to wage.
Yet, here's Graham flexing his muscles again:
If I'm president, we're going to push back against China. Here’s my foreign policy — a clenched fist and an open hand. You choose."
Even Henry Kissinger knows that you don't bite the hand that feeds you, when he says: "It's important to avoid any military conflict between the U.S. and China." But, Lindsey Graham is Lindsey Graham. Force and coercion are his milieu.
We all know that China is a major creditor of the United States federal government. Unfortunately, the Chinese government has considered it in its interest to issue so much credit to the bankrupt U.S.
We Americans have been living an illusion for quite a while now. The Chinese accept fiat dollars (that The Fed continually creates) and they send us real goods and wealth in return. China has the factories, and we have the Visa cards.
The Chinese then take the fiat dollars and buy U.S. Treasuries with them, giving the U.S. government (of which Lindsey Graham is a part of) a financial lifeline. You don't need a Ph.D to figure out how this one will end down the road.
Lindsey Graham barking at the Chinese is very similar to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras barking at the European Troika. It didn't work out so well for Tsipras, despite threats, votes, or celebrations of democracy. All of it meant nothing.
In the end, when you're a deadbeat debtor, it is the creditor who holds the cards. You're in no position to show the creditor "a clenched fist and an open hand."
By Daniel McAdams
When are the neocons and the hawks going to stop getting us into more trouble, MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Ron Paul during an appearance on Hardball. "Well I wish they'd look at reason and look at what is happening," replied Paul, but "I think it's unfortunately going to stop when we go broke and there's nothing left and then the people will find out that it is a total failure."
The other consequence of the constant wars the US is engaged in, added Paul, is that eventually the wars get turned inward against the American people. And that's why we have this attack on civil liberties.
"But I concentrate on foreign policy in my new book, he adds, because "these wars are needless, they are immoral, they are unconstitutional, and they hurt us."
Paul and Matthews discuss the "Giuliani Moment" in Ron Paul's 2008 run. Paul points out that while many said his campaign was finished because of his discussion of blowback in the debate, in fact from that moment his candidacy actually took off and it was Giuliani who was all but finished.
Chris Matthews finishes the interview telling his audience that if they like the way this man is thinking, his new book is titled Swords into Plowshares.
Watch the whole interview here:
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity
By Jacob Hornberger
Not surprisingly, liberals are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare, the socialistic healthcare program that was established under the political regime of President Lyndon Johnson. A good example is New York Times liberal columnist Paul Krugman, who wrote a piece a few days ago entitled “Zombies Against Medicare,” in which he extolled this governmental program.
Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.
First of all, let’s get one thing clear. Krugman has it all wrong about conservatives or those he calls the “right wing.” Even though conservatives will carp about Medicare, just as they carp about other socialist and regulatory programs, the last thing that conservatives want to do is repeal them. After all, every conservative in the country knows that if such programs were terminated, conservatives wouldn’t have anything to carp about anymore.
Thus, the most you’ll ever see conservatives doing is advocating their own brand of reform of these socialist programs, reforms that usually just amount to a variation of economic fascism — i.e., an economic system in which the government permits people to keep their money and then orders and directs them on what to do with it.
It’s only libertarians who call for the immediate repeal of Medicare as well as the rest of the welfare state. Thus, while conservatives talk in terms of “privatization, “choice,” and “free-market oriented,” which are nothing more than euphemisms for government programs based on the principles of economic fascism, libertarians talk in terms of repeal and abolition and restoring a genuine free market healthcare system to our land.
The United States once had the finest healthcare system in history, one in which doctors loved what they did in life. That was before Medicare (and Medicaid). Once LBJ, who revered President Franklin Roosevelt for having foisted a welfare state onto America in the 1930s, got Medicare (and Medicaid) enacted, the die was cast. From that point on, healthcare costs began to soar, followed by a series of Frankenstein-like reforms that ended up destroying America’s healthcare system. Need I mention that doctors today absolutely hate what they do in life and can’t wait to get out?
Krugman says that Medicare didn’t destroy freedom. That’s only because of the way that liberals define freedom — by the ability of people to get into other people’s pockets through the coercive apparatus of the state. The more that people are able to do that, specifically through the IRS and welfare-state agencies, the “freer” liberals consider them to be.
But that’s not how libertarians define freedom. For us, freedom is the right to keep everything you earn and decide for yourself what to do with it. Once we view freedom in that way, it’s pretty easy to see how Medicare (and Social Security and the rest of the welfare state) has destroyed freedom by using the coercive apparatus of the state to take money from people in order to fund other people’s medical expenses.
Krugman assures everyone that they can sleep easy despite the ever-growing expenses of Medicare, a program, in his words, “whose finances will be strained by an aging population but no longer looks disastrous.”
Really? I know that Krugman is familiar with Greece because he’s written many columns on that bankrupt country. Does he honestly think that the United States is immune to what happens when a government engages in out-of-control spending and debt?
Think about how much debt that U.S. government has already incurred with its deficit spending on both the welfare state and the warfare state. It now amounts to more than $18 trillion. It’s growing by the second. U.S. officials continue marching down the same road. Every time the debt ceiling is reached, the mainstream press screams like banshees to raise it again, and Congress and the president dutifully oblige.
Yet, note something important here: That debt does not include future outlays by Medicare and Social Security. That’s because under the law the government doesn’t really owe that money. It’s not considered a federal debt because both of these programs are nothing more than welfare programs, which can theoretically be repealed (as libertarians favor). But as a practical matter, we all know that liberals and conservatives have absolutely no intention of repealing them.
When the big crisis comes, liberals will say what they always say: that the crisis is because there isn’t enough socialism and because there’s still too much economic freedom. All we need to do, they will say, is take one more step in the direction of Cuba, aiming ultimately toward a full government takeover of healthcare, and then, they will say, everything will be hunky-dory.
After all, isn’t that how we got Obamacare — by liberals telling us that America’s ongoing healthcare crisis had nothing to do with Medicare and Medicaid and other governmental intervention into healthcare and that one more gigantic totalitarian-like healthcare intervention would cure America’s healthcare woes? How’s Obamacare working out for America?
Medicare and the rest of the welfare state (and the warfare state) are a cancer on the body politic. They are killing our country. Both liberals and conservatives are quacks whose policy prescriptions should be rejected. There is only one way to treat cancer: Eradicate it.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
By Chris Rossini
According to the U.S. Constitution, the document that every politician "swears" to uphold, it is Congress who has been designated the power to declare war. Sadly, that hasn't happened since World War II, and the U.S. has been at almost non-stop war ever since. It has been the President, who has illegally taken the U.S. into one conflict after another.
It's perfectly logical as to why Congress would sit by silently when it comes to the declaration of war. Who wants to put their name on a failed foreign intervention? If you vote for the (now regular and predictable) foreign policy disaster, you'll take the blame from voters. It's much easier to let the President do what he wants.
Watch out, however, should the President strike up the possibility of actual peace. At that point, Congress comes to life. Thunderous opposition crawls from out of the woodwork. How dare the President contemplate peace with a foreign nation without the consent of Congress? How dare he act like a rule-breaking dictator?
In the present day, we're witnessing all aspects of this bizarre set of circumstances. President Obama has finally done a couple of things right. He's taken steps to normalize relations with both Cuba and Iran. Members of Congress and the war-loving media have lost their minds as a result. There seems to be no limit to the hyperbolic responses.
At the same time that members of Congress are railing against peace, we learn that President Obama has sneakily authorized war in Syria. Yes, the same conflict that the American public was overwhelmingly against back in 2013.
Daniel McAdams writes:
President Obama has for the first time authorized the US military to attack Syrian government forces if they threaten Washington’s regime change army. The battle has been joined.
How shameful that the U.S. Congress is silent on war, and frenzied on the potential of actual peace...
By Ron Paul
During my time in Congress, I regularly introduced legislation forbidding organizations that perform abortions from receiving federal funding. The US Government should not force taxpayers to subsidize an activity they believe is murder. Thus, while I was horrified by the recently released videos showing Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing selling the organs of aborted babies, I am glad that the reaction to these videos has renewed efforts to end federal funding of abortion.
My experience in Congress does not leave me optimistic that federal funding of Planned Parenthood will be ended this year, however. This is not just because the current US president is pro-abortion. When I started my efforts to end taxpayer support of abortion, I was shocked to find out how many Republicans, including some self-described “pro-life” leaders, were unsupportive of, and sometimes hostile to, my efforts.
Most pro-life politicians preferred to add language to funding bills prohibiting federal funds from being used for abortions, rather than denying federal funds to abortion providers. This approach does not stop US taxpayers from subsidizing abortions. The reason is that money is fungible. Giving Planned Parenthood $100 to use for non-abortion activities allows it to spend an additional $100 of its non-government funds on abortion.
Foreign interventionists in both parties were particularly hostile to my efforts to eliminate federal funding for international organizations that performed or promoted abortions. This is a foolish policy that gives people around the globe another reason to resent the US government.
Planned Parenthood may have abandoned the explicitly racist and eugenic views of its founder Margaret Sanger, but the majority of its abortion "services" are still provided to lower-income and minority women. Every day nearly 2,000 African-American babies lose their lives to abortion, a rate five times higher than the Caucasian abortion rates.
I support the black lives matter movement. I have long advocated an end to the drug war, police militarization, and other threats to liberty that disproportionately victimize African-Americans. However, I wish some of the black lives matter movement’s passion and energy was directed to ending abortion. Unborn black lives also matter.
The federal government has no constitutional authority to permit, fund, or even outlaw abortion. Therefore, efforts to make abortion a federal crime are just as unconstitutional as efforts to prohibit states from outlawing abortion. A Congress that truly cared about the Constitution would end all federal funding for abortion and pass legislation restricting federal jurisdiction over abortion, thus returning the issue to the states.
While passing legislation may help limit abortion, the pro-life movement will never succeed unless it changes people's attitudes toward the unborn. This is why crisis pregnancy centers, which provide care and compassion to women facing unplanned pregnancies, have done more to advance the pro-life cause then any politician. By showing women they have viable alternatives to abortion, these centers have saved many lives.
One factor hindering the anti-abortion movement's ability to change people’s minds is that too many abortion opponents also support a militaristic foreign policy. These pro-lifers undercut their moral credibility as advocates for unborn American lives when they display a callous indifference to the lives of Iraqi, Iranian, and Afghan children.
Libertarians who support abortion should ask themselves how they can expect a government that does not respect the unborn’s right to life to respect their property rights. Therefore, all those who wish to create a society of liberty, peace, and prosperity should join me in advocating for a consistent ethic of life and liberty that respects the rights of all persons, born and unborn.
By Lew Rockwell
Ronald Reagan used to be called the Teflon president, on the grounds that no matter what gaffe or scandal engulfed him, it never stuck: he didn’t suffer in the polls. If Reagan was the Teflon president, the military is America’s Teflon institution. Even people who oppose whatever the current war happens to be can be counted on to “support the troops” and to live by the comforting delusion that whatever aberrations may be evident today, the system itself is basically sound.
To add insult to injury, whenever the US government gears up for yet another military intervention, it’s people who pretend to favor “limited government,” and who pride themselves on not falling for government propaganda, who can be counted on to stand up and salute.
I had the rare honor of serving as Ron Paul’s congressional chief of staff, and observed him in many proud moments in those days, and in his presidential campaigns. But Ron’s new book Swords into Plowshares: A Life in Wartime and a Future of Peace and Prosperity, a plainspoken and relentless case against war that ranks alongside Smedley Butler’s classic War Is a Racket, is possibly the proudest Ron Paul moment of all.
It’s been calculated that over the past 5,000 years there have been 14,000 wars fought, resulting in three and a half billion deaths. In the United States, between 1798 and 2015 there have been 369 uses of military force abroad. We have been conditioned to accept this as normal, or at the very least unavoidable. We are told to stifle any moral qualms we may have about mass killing on the question-begging grounds that, after all, “it’s war.”
Ron, on this as on a wide array of other topics, isn’t prepared to accept the conventional platitudes, and a recurring theme in his book involves speculating on whether, in the same way the human race has advanced so extraordinarily from a technological point of view, we might be capable of a comparable moral advance as well.
There is much in this book for libertarians and indeed all opponents of war to enjoy – for starters, a refutation of the claim that war is “good for the economy,” a discussion of the dangers of “blowback” posed by foreign interventionism, and an overview of the War on Terror from a noninterventionist perspective. But there is a profoundly personal dimension to this book as well, as we follow Ron’s life from his childhood to the present and the evolution of his thought on war. I’ll leave readers to discover these gems for themselves.
Likewise, Ron relates some little-known stories of war. In one, it’s two weeks after D-Day, and Captain Jack Tueller decided to play his trumpet that evening. He was instructed not to do so: his commander explained that a German sniper had still not been captured from the day’s battle. Figuring the sniper was a frightened young man not unlike himself, he played the German song “Lili Marleen.” The sniper surrendered to the Americans the next day.
Before being sent off to prison, the sniper asked to meet the trumpet player. He said, through tears, “When I heard that number that you played I thought about my fiancée in Germany. I thought about my mother and dad and about my brothers and sisters, and I could not fire.”
“He stuck out his hand and I shook the hand of the enemy,” Tueller recalls. “He was no enemy. He was scared and lonely like me.”
Another story takes place just before Christmas 1943. Charlie Brown, a 21-year-old farm boy from West Virginia was on his first combat mission as a pilot when his B-17 was seriously damaged over Germany. With half his crew dead or wounded, he was struggling to get his plane back to England when a German fighter came within three feet of his right wingtip. But Franz Stigler, the German pilot, did not fire. Instead, he simply nodded, pointed, and flew off, allowing Brown to make his way back to England.
Some 46 years later, the two men met again. Brown finally got to ask Stigler why he had been pointing. Stigler replied that he was trying to tell Brown to fly to Sweden, which was closer. But since Brown knew only how to get back to England, that’s where he went.
The two men became close friends, even fishing buddies. Stigler said that saving Brown’s life was the only good thing that came out of the whole war for him.
You won’t be surprised to learn that in addition to human-interest anecdotes like these, Ron spends time in Swords into Plowshares linking central banking and war, one of his perennial themes over the years. It isn’t for nothing that again and again, countries abandoned the gold standard when they went to war.
We rarely pause to consider what that tells us. If they needed to abandon the gold standard to go to war, that means the gold standard was a barrier against war. Of course, the ease with which governments could abandon the gold standard serves to remind us of the need to separate money and state altogether, and that the state cannot be trusted to maintain a sound money standard.
As always, Ron is at his fiery best when he unleashes on the neoconservatives, whose every overseas fiasco becomes a justification for still another fiasco six months later. He invites us to consider a typical remark by neoconservative Michael Ledeen: “Paradoxically, peace increases our peril, by making discipline less urgent, encouraging some of our worst instincts, and depriving us of some of our best leaders.”
Note that it is peace, according to Ledeen, and not war, that encourages our worst instincts. This was the view of Theodore Roosevelt, loved and admired by progressives and neoconservatives alike, who considered prolonged peace a deplorable state that made a people flabby and otiose.
Neocons complain when libertarians describe them as “pro-war” – why, they favor war only as a last resort, they assure us, and only because there are bad people in the world – but how else can we describe the views of Ledeen, who to my knowledge has never been publicly taken to task by any other neocon?
(Perhaps my favorite of Ron’s collection of ghoulish neocon quotations, though, if only for its obliviously Orwellian quality, is George W. Bush’s remark from June 2002: “I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.”)
Meanwhile, the American people have been indoctrinated into a cult of the veteran, whom evangelicals blasphemously compare to Jesus Christ, and whereby everyone is expected to salute, applaud, and offer ostentatious thanks for the veteran’s “service.”
Here, by contrast, is Ron:
“Service” in our military to invade, occupy, and oppress countries in order to extend [the] US Empire must not be glorified as a “heroic” and sacred effort. My five years in the Air Force during the 1960s did not qualify me as any sort of hero. My primary thoughts now about that period of time are: “Why was I so complacent, and why did I so rarely seriously question the wisdom of the Vietnam War?”
Ron calls upon the peoples of the world to resist their governments’ calls to war and to refuse to take part in violent conflict. “If the authoritarians continue to abuse power in spite of constitutional and moral limits,” he writes, “the only recourse left is for the people to go on strike and refuse to sanction the wars and thefts. Deny the dictators your money and your bodies…. The more this is a worldwide movement, the better.”
This is why Ron is such a fan of the song “Universal Soldier,” which he asked singer Aimee Allen to perform at his dramatic Rally for the Republic in 2008. The man who enlists in the military and simply goes along with the prevailing current of opinion is the universal soldier. If he refused to “serve” and to fight, there could be no wars. Even Ron, a flight surgeon who never fired a shot, looks back on his time in the military and asks himself: why did I not resist? Why did I go along?
Needless to say, few among our political class – people who, generally speaking, have rather more to repent of than mild Ron Paul – reflect seriously on their moral choices, or rebuke themselves publicly.
When people read Swords into Plowshares generations from now – and they will – they will marvel that such a man actually served in the US Congress, and defied every campaign of war propaganda right on the House floor. But what’s great about Ron is not just his honesty, but also his constant intellectual growth – with the passage of time he has become an ever-more radical champion of freedom. His evolution is especially plain in this book, as you’ll discover for yourself.
One of the most important things Ron accomplished in public life was to show that it’s possible to oppose war without being a leftist. He likewise explained that a foreign policy of peace and nonintervention was a central, indispensable feature of the message of freedom, and not just an odd personality quirk of Ron Paul – as the many people who said “I like Ron Paul except his foreign policy” seem to have believed.
Bernie Sanders pretends to be antiwar, but as usual with socialists, a closer look shows he doesn’t really mean it. But even if he did, as a socialist he simply wants to point the guns at different targets – the undifferentiated aggregates like “the rich” to whom he urges his followers to direct their uncomprehending hate. Ron, on the other hand, is calling on us to put the guns down, and for peaceful interaction both between nations and among individuals.
It is a position most people had never heard of before 2008, since election campaigns are all about grabbing the machinery of state and pointing its guns at whatever group the eventual victor despises. But Ron captured the imaginations of millions of intelligent young people, whose brains hadn’t yet been deformed by an American political culture designed to deprive them of humane possibilities.
Ron turns 80 this month, and shows no sign of letting up in his life’s work of truth-telling. Wish Ron a happy birthday by joining us for a celebration in Lake Jackson on August 15, and by reading this extraordinary book.
This article was originally published on LewRockwell.com
By Chris Rossini
For quite some time now, there has been a steady stream of cries to "get money out of politics". The government is bought and paid for by billionaire oligarchs, and if we can just ban the buying and selling of politicians, everything would be much better.
Superficially, I can see how someone can fall for this line of thinking. Unfortunately, it only analyzes the effect of the problem, and not the cause.
Unsurprisingly, many of the same people who want to "get money out of politics" don't necessarily have a problem with a very powerful government. They like the powerful government, they just want people who have little material means to call the shots. This crowd is trying to have their cake and eat it too.
Lobbying, bribery, and the buying of politicians is a result of powerful government. The bigger the government, the higher the price tag in influencing it. The bigger the government, the higher the stakes when an unconstitutional law gets passed. No one wants to be on the receiving end of a law that should never exist in the first place. And so a bidding war ensues.
Strip the government of all the powers that it should never have, and the bribery will wither away. Ron Paul was in Congress for 30+ years. Why did lobbyists walk right passed his office door? Why didn't they ever bother to knock? It's because there was no advantage that Dr. Paul could provide for them. He swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and that's exactly what he did. A law to "get money out" did not have to be passed. Dr. Paul just did what he said he would do.
Sadly, most politicians do not take their oath of office seriously. Their inauguration is just a show. When they raise their hand and promise to uphold the U.S. Constitution, they're really just telling the first official lie of their term.
Let's (hypothetically) imagine that it were possible to get money out of politics. The situation really wouldn't change much at all. Money is not the only way to bribe someone. In fact, the number of ways is probably very close to infinite!
Let's say you want to influence a politician, but can't give him money. Well, you can offer him an exclusive job for after his term ends....and you can pay him whatever he wants. Or, you offer an array of other material objects that get around the "money" restriction. The number of ways that bribery can take place is limited only by the imagination.
Who would still have the greatest means to buy the politicians? The wealthiest amongst us. Very little, if anything would change.
The only way to get rid of the swarms of lobbyists is to reduce the power and size of government. If government is unable to tilt the scales for anyone, then there's really no point in buying anyone off.
Unfortunately, the "get money out of politics" crowd just doesn't get it.