By Ron Paul
The Saudi version of the disappearance and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi seems to change every day or so. The latest is the Saudi government claim that the opposition journalist was killed in a “botched interrogation” at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Or was it a fist-fight? What is laughable is that the Saudi king has placed Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a prime suspect, in charge of the investigation of Khashoggi’s murder!
Though the official story keeps changing, what is unlikely to change is Washington’s continued relationship with Saudi Arabia. It is a partnership that is in no way beneficial to Americans or the US national interest.
President Trump has promised “severe punishment” if the Saudi government is found to have been involved in Khashoggi’s murder, but he also took off the table any reduction in arms sales to prop up the murderous Saudi war on Yemen. It’s all about jobs, said President Trump. So the Saudi killing of thousands in Yemen can go on. Some murders are more important than others, obviously.
The killing of Khashoggi puts the Trump Administration is in a difficult situation. President Trump views Iran as designated enemy number one. Next month the US Administration intends to impose a new round of sanctions designed to make it impossible for Iran to sell its oil on the international market. To keep US fuel prices from spiking over this move Trump is relying on other countries, especially Saudi Arabia, to pump more and make up the difference. But the Saudis have threatened $400 a barrel oil if President Trump follows through with his promise of “severe punishment” over the killing of Khashoggi.
The Saudis have also threatened to look for friendship in Moscow or even Tehran if Washington insists on “punishing” the regime in Riyadh. For a super-power, the US doesn’t seem to have many options.
What whole mess reveals is just how wise our Founding Fathers were to warn us against entangling alliances. For too many decades the US has been in an unhealthy relationship with the Saudi kingdom, providing the Saudis with a US security guarantee in exchange for “cheap” oil and the laundering of oil profits through the US military-industrial complex by the purchase of billions of dollars in weapons.
This entangling relationship with Saudi Arabia should end. It is unfortunate that the tens of thousands of civilians dead from Yemen to Syria due to Saudi aggression don’t matter as much as the murder of one establishment journalist like Khashoggi, but as one Clinton flack once said, we should not let this current crisis go to waste.
This is not about demanding that the Saudis change their ways, reform their society on the lines of a liberal democracy, or allow more women to drive. The problem with our relationship with Saudi Arabia is not about Saudi Arabia. It is about us. The United States should not be in the business of selling security guarantees overseas to the highest bidder. We are constantly told that the US military guarantees our own safety and so it should be.
No, this is about returning to a foreign policy that seeks friendship and trade with all nations who seek the same, but that heeds the warning of George Washington in his Farewell Address that “a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.” If we care about the United States we must heed this warning. No more passionate attachments overseas. Friendship and trade over all.
President Trump signaled over the weekend that he would withdraw from the 1987 INF nuclear treaty which prohibited missiles and missile launchers with a range from 500KM to 5,000KM. Is leaving the treaty in the US interest, as Trump claims? Who's cheating? What are the real reasons Trump's getting out? China?
The economy is not a machine, and the Fed is not a mechanic. Terms like an "overheating" economy," and "stepping on the gas," or "slamming on the brakes," are all nonsense. The idea that that anyone is capable of "running the economy" is a pure fairy tale. Ron Paul discusses this very popular myth.
The United Arab Emirates hired a US-based private military contractor company run by an Israeli-American to provide American military-trained special forces to assassinate members of a Yemeni political party. What's wrong with this picture?
By Chris Rossini
The other day, President Trump said that the Federal Reserve is his "biggest threat." President Trump knows that people vote primarily with their wallets, and if the Fed pops the bubble that they created now, it runs the risk of the average person attributing the economic pain to Trump.
The average person doesn't know what the Fed is, or what it does, and President Trump has not helped in that regard. Instead of explaining to Americans that we're in a massive artificial economic bubble created by the Fed, the President has opted to call it 'the greatest economy in history,' and has stamped his name on it.
The Fed may be the "biggest threat" to Trump's presidency, but that is a very myopic view to take. There are 300+ million Americans who suffer under the Federal Reserve on a daily basis. Let us count the ways that they do us perpetual harm:
So the story of the Fed is much bigger than the Trump presidency.
Do you want to learn more?
Buy Ron Paul's End The Fed.
The attacks on free speech are not coming from uniformed government officials shutting down newspapers. But that doesn't mean they are not coming from the government. How are "social media" companies and government working together to turn us into a nation of sheep?
By Simon Black
On June 15, 1215, King John sat in a field in Runnymede, England, surrounded by angry nobles.
His Barons—the big landowners throughout England—had rebelled and seized London, forcing King John to sign an agreement guaranteeing certain rights to the people of England… and restrictions of his power.
This agreement was called the Magna Carta. And it would become one of the most important documents in history.
Centuries later in 1678, Charles II was King of England. Like many kings, Charles was terrible with money.
And when he ran out of it, he started demanding extra taxes from his knights, and imprisoning those who refused to pay.
The King was once again surrounded by angry nobles, this time in the Parliament building. There he signed the writ of Habeas Corpus in exchange for more money.
Best tax dollars ever spent. Habeas Corpus said that government officials could not imprison people for no good reason. Prisoners had the right to go before a judge to determine if their imprisonment was justified.
Just because the government accused you of something didn’t mean they could do whatever they wanted to you.
About a hundred years later, American colonists got fed up with the King of England once again.
The government exists to serve the people, they said. If the government wants to accuse, search, or arrest you, they better have a good reason. And they better allow you every opportunity to clear your name.
In 1791, the Bill of Rights enshrined into law the right to speak out against officials, the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.
These concepts of individual rights were shaped in the UK and US. But they apply universally.
Unfortunately, some governments seem determined to erase all this progress.
If you’re traveling to New Zealand, you should be aware of the Customs and Excise Act of 2018. It just went into effect at the beginning of October.
New Zealand Customs and Border agents can now demand passwords for any electronic devices you bring into the country. They can download the entire contents of your phone or laptop, and search through it for evidence of a crime.
Agents could always search phones and laptops at the border. But now they can fine you up to $5,000 ($3,300 USD) for refusing to hand over the passwords, codes, and encryption keys to your devices.
The new law also allows Customs agents to collect biometric data from anyone entering the country. That means they can take your fingerprints, photo, or iris scans, store them, and share them.
And even worse, New Zealand’s Customs website explains:
“Making an arrest without a warrant can now be done with no limitation to timeframe.”
So now you officially have no rights at the New Zealand border.
Agents can search your electronics without cause, and fine you for refusing to give out your password. They can collect, store, and share any of your biometric data they want.
They can arrest you without a court order, and hold you for as long as they like.
It’s not like New Zealand is some third world country… They actually adopted the Habeas Corpus Act in 1881 while under British rule.
Along with the the UK, USA, Australia, and Canada, New Zealand’s legal system is part of the Western tradition. This is the legal basis, starting with the Magna Carta, that protects common people’s rights against overreaching authorities.
These countries also make up the Five Eyes intelligence alliance… They have all agreed to share secrets from their spy agencies with one another.
For a visualization of the Five Eyes Alliance, just look at a map of Oceania from George Orwell’s 1984--the dystopian classic portraying the ultimate authoritarian police state.
And unfortunately, New Zealand isn’t the only Five Eyes government acting like Big Brother—the embodiment of the omnipresent surveillance state in 1984.
Since 9/11 the US has also been searching travelers’ electronics at the border. But they kept the practice small scale for a while.
With the 9/11 terrorist attacks fresh, it didn’t really bother anyone. Anything in the name of national security…
But by 2015 Customs and Border Protection searched the electronic devices of 8,503 airline passengers throughout the year.
In 2016 it escalated to 19,033 searches.
And in 2017 Customs Agents searched the phones and laptops of 30,200 travelers.
Just like in New Zealand, agents didn’t get warrants for these searches. They didn’t even require probable cause.
In January of this year, US Customs sent out new guidance about phone and laptop searches at the border.
It says they can search anyone’s electronic devices “with or without suspicion.”
It says passengers are “obligated” to turn over their devices as well as passcodes for examination. If you refuse agents can seize the device.
That is all considered a “basic search.” No suspicion needed.
To add insult to injury, the January guidance starts, “CBP will protect the rights of individuals against unreasonable search and seizure and ensure privacy protection while accomplishing its enforcement mission.”
This is another page taken from Orwell. Doublethink. They want us to believe two contradictory ideas at the same time.
They treat everyone like a criminal, they say, to protect the innocent.
They search the innocent to protect their rights.
Habeas Corpus, the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure, the rights of the accused… these are quickly becoming lost to the memory hole of history.
This article was originally published at Sovereign Man.
By Jeff Deist
Brian Doherty at Reason magazine has a new article that attempts to dispel certain myths surrounding "cultural Marxism," a term used promiscuously and inaccurately in Mr. Doherty's view. Fair enough, but the article sheds more heat than light on what is in fact a very illiberal and powerful phenomenon in western countries. Cultural Marxism and political correctness are not imaginary and cannot simply be dismissed as benign or organic.
Two omissions in the article stand out.
First, Doherty completely ignores the general meaning of the term, which is fairly well-understood. In the mid-20th century (actual) Marxists realized their focus on creating economic class consciousness by pitting proletariat against bourgeoisie had failed to resonate with working class people. Thus they shifted (albeit not all at once and not always deftly) to a narrative of oppressor and oppressed, which allowed women, minorities, gays and other groups to create class consciousness around cultural issues rather than economic standing. Cultural Marxism describes the results of this shift.
Second, political correctness — an important subset of cultural Marxism and a term Doherty dismisses — is also reasonably definable:
Political correctness is the conscious, designed manipulation of language intended to change the way people speak, write, think, feel, and act, in furtherance of an agenda.
Doherty's insistence that there's nothing to see here beyond right-wing crankery would be better served by at least attempting to define the views of his opponents. And if you believe The Atlantic, rejection of PC culture is hardly limited to the Right.
The timing of the article is unfortunate, coming on the heels of yet another round of social media de-platforming. Facebook recently removed several libertarian pages without warning, apparently over concerns they might promote Wrongthink on the eve of mid-term elections. In case you missed it, the Atlantic Council— funded by the US government and several foreign governments — helpfully counsels (private company) Facebook regarding which pages to darken.
Needless to say this sort of action is demoralizing to affected Facebook users, particularly those who count on social media platforms for their businesses, and sends a message that encourages self-censorship. So maybe something bigger is happening than Pat Buchanan misreading dead French philosophers.
Doherty makes reasonable points about the political Right's vague mishmash of ideas and thinkers supposedly behind cultural Marxism, including the Frankfurt school, critical theory, Marcuse, Freud, and Karl Marx himself. But he depressingly launches into tired progressive shibboleths and buzzwords that only hurt his argument:
It may be comforting to believe your ideological foes are dupes of manipulative intellectual fiends. But declaring that advocates of multiculturalism, feminism, and gay rights are the pawns of dead Jewish communists is both mistaken as a matter of cultural history and foolish as a way to sell an alternate ideology. You won't win the day by treating people who merely disagree with you as stalking horses for socialist tyranny.
Then he doubles down on his insistence that opposition to cultural Marxism must be driven by nefarious right-wing hatred of minorities and modernity:
American right-wingers hate multiculturalism and gay rights and radical feminism for their own sake, not because they were designed to pave the path for communism. But the story has the emotional advantage of allowing them to imagine that the trends they despise didn't arise from a long history of the social abuse of blacks, gays, women, and immigrants, but from sinister machinations of commies striving to enslave us. Never mind that the unstoppable traditionalist "cultural decline" of the last several decades has not gotten the United States any closer to public ownership of the means of production.
Or maybe people just resent being told how to think and speak? Yes, accuracy in language is important, Yes, accuracy is important in identifying historical influences. So why doesn't Doherty apply these standards to his own critiques? Not everyone who worries about Orwellian language and thought policing does so for the reasons Doherty lazily imagines.
Doherty makes room for an obligatory swipe at Jordan Peterson, whose work I haven't taken the time to read or view much. But from a distance Peterson's two unpardonable sins seem to be exposing the rottenness of social science departments and suggesting individuals bear some responsibility for their lot in life. Anyone who shakes up the Left/Right paradigm in an articulate way and encourages self-sufficiency seems to me a potential ally for libertarians, rather than a punching bag.
Doherty also bemoans Dr. Ron Paul's(1) opposition to cultural Marxism, referencing posts on Paul's Facebook page. He correctly reminds us that Paul's presidential campaigns offered people a way out of the culture wars by (quoting Paul) "allowing [everybody] to make personal choices, social relations, sexual choices, personal economic choices" — and this ought to be a potent sales pitch for libertarianism generally.
But Doherty misses the salient point: cultural Marxism is not about allowing anything, but rather about policing our views. And if in fact dramatically reducing the size and scope of government (as both Paul and Doherty advocate) would reduce cultural hostilities, doesn't this tacitly acknowledge that cultural Marxism and PC are related to the state? Does Doherty not see the state as the potential enforcer via hate speech laws, employments laws, and the like?
Doherty concludes with this puzzling admonition:
All who want a tolerant civic peace in this vast and varied land should work to forge whatever way of life they choose on their own property or in their own communities, not insist that former outsiders who wish to be treated more fairly are merely doing so as a cover to impose communist tyranny. The fight for limited government in our culture can't be successfully fought in dogged, frightened opposition to freely chosen cultural plenitude.
Again we witness a reversion to common themes of victimhood, tolerance, and blinkered cultural nativists. And once again Doherty misses the point: the question is whether our "cultural plenitude" is always freely chosen, or rather sometimes imposed by a very small nexus of cultural, media, and economic elites — elites who are increasingly state-connected.
It also never occurs to him that many who do want tolerance and peace resent the constant imposition of new PC modes of thought and speech, rather then considering those modes a form of liberation.
(1) Brian Doherty generally has been fair and friendly toward Dr. Paul in his writing, see, e.g., his book on the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
Nikki Haley was among the most outspokenly pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian US diplomat in history. She took Washington's previous policy of unwaveringly backing Israel at the UN to a whole new level. With Nikki gone, will US policy become more even-handed in the Middle East?
By Ron Paul
September marked a decade since the bursting of the housing bubble, which was followed by the stock market meltdown and the government bailout of the big banks and Wall Street. Last week’s frantic stock market sell-off indicates the failure to learn the lesson of 2008 makes another meltdown inevitable.
In 2001-2002 the Federal Reserve responded to the economic downturn caused by the bursting of the technology bubble by pumping money into the economy. This new money ended up in the housing market. This was because the so-called conservative Bush administration, like the “liberal” Clinton administration before it, was using the Community Reinvestment Act and government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make mortgages available to anyone who wanted one — regardless of income or credit history.
Banks and other lenders eagerly embraced this “ownership society”’ agenda with a “lend first, ask questions when foreclosing” policy. The result was the growth of subprime mortgages, the rush to invest in housing, and millions of Americans finding themselves in homes they could not afford.
When the housing bubble burst, the government should have let the downturn run its course in order to correct the malinvestments made during the phony, Fed-created boom. This may have caused some short-term pain, but it would have ensured the recovery would be based on a solid foundation rather than a bubble of fiat currency.
Of course Congress did exactly the opposite, bailing out Wall Street and the big banks. The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to historic lows and embarked on a desperate attempt to inflate the economy via QE 1, 2, and 3.
Low interest rates and quantitative easing have left the Fed with a dilemma. In order to avoid a return to 1970s-era inflation — or worse, it must raise interest rates and draw down its balance sheet. However, raising rates too much risks popping what financial writer Graham Summers calls the “everything bubble.”
Today credit card debt is over a trillion dollars, student loan debt is at 1.5 trillion dollars, there is a bubble in auto loans, and there is even a new housing bubble. But the biggest part of the everything bubble is the government bubble. Federal debt is over 21 trillion dollars and expanding by tens of thousands of dollars per second.
The Fed is unlikely to significantly raise interest rates because doing so would cause large increases in federal government debt interest payments. Instead, the Fed will continue making small Increases while moving slowly to unwind its balance sheet, hoping to gradually return to a “normal” monetary policy without bursting the “everything bubble.”
The Fed will be unsuccessful in keeping the everything bubble from exploding. When the bubble bursts, America will experience an economic crisis much greater than the 2008 meltdown or the Great Depression.
This crisis is rooted in the failure to learn the lessons of 2008 and of every other recession since the Fed’s creation: A secretive central bank should not be allowed to manipulate interest rates and distort economic signals regarding market conditions. Such action leads to malinvestment and an explosion of individual, business, and government debt. This may cause a temporary boom, but the boom soon will be followed by a bust. The only way this cycle can be broken without a major crisis is for Congress both to restore people’s right to use the currency of their choice and to audit and then end the Fed.