Ron Paul: End Torture, Shut Down the CIA!

Remember back in April, 2007, when then-CIA director George Tenet appeared on 60 Minutes, angrily telling the program host, “we don’t torture people”? Remember a few months later, in October, President George W. Bush saying, “this government does not torture people”? We knew then it was not true because we had already seen the photos of Iraqis tortured at Abu Ghraib prison four years earlier.

Still the U.S. Administration denied that torture was torture, preferring to call it “enhanced interrogation” and claiming that it had disrupted so many terrorist plots. Of course, we later found out that the CIA had not only lied about the torture of large numbers of people after 9/11, but it had vastly exaggerated any valuable information that came from such practices.

However secret rendition of prisoners to other places was ongoing.

The U.S. not only tortured people in its own custody, however. Last week the European Court of Human Rights found that the U.S. government transferred individuals to secret detention centers in Poland (and likely elsewhere) where they were tortured away from public scrutiny. The government of Poland was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to two victims for doing nothing to stop their torture on Polish soil.

How tragic that Poland, where the Nazis constructed the Auschwitz concentration camp in which so many innocents were tortured and murdered, would acquiesce to hosting secret torture facilities. The idea that such brutality would be permitted on Polish soil just 70 years after the Nazi occupation should remind us of how dangerous and disingenuous governments continue to be.

This is the first time the European court has connected any EU country to U.S. torture practices. The Obama Administration refuses to admit that such facilities existed and instead claims that any such “enhanced interrogation” programs were shut down by 2009. We can only hope this is true, but we should be wary of government promises. After all, they promised us all along that they were not using torture, and we might have never known had photographs and other information not been leaked to the press.

There are more reasons to be wary of this Administration’s claims about rejecting torture and upholding human rights. The President has openly justified killing American citizens without charge or trial and he has done so on at least three occasions. There is not much of a gap between torture and extrajudicial murder when it comes to human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior current and former CIA officials are said to be frantically attempting to prepare a response to a planned release of an unclassified version of a 6,500 page Senate Intelligence Committee study on the torture practices of that agency. The CIA was already caught tapping into the computers of Senate investigators last year, looking to see what information might be contained in the report. Those who have seen the report have commented that it details far more brutal CIA practices that have been revealed to this point.

Revelations of U.S. secret torture sites overseas and a new Senate investigation revealing widespread horrific CIA torture practices should finally lead to the abolishment of this agency. Far from keeping us safer, CIA covert actions across the globe have led to destruction of countries and societies and unprecedented resentment toward the United States. For our own safety, end the CIA!

Ron Paul Explains What Media Won’t Report About Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17

Just days after the tragic crash of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, Western politicians and media joined together to gain the maximum propaganda value from the disaster. It had to be Russia; it had to be Putin, they said. President Obama held a press conference to claim – even before an investigation – that it was pro-Russian rebels in the region who were responsible. His ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, did the same at the UN Security Council – just one day after the crash!

While western media outlets rush to repeat government propaganda on the event, there are a few things they will not report.

They will not report that the crisis in Ukraine started late last year, when EU and U.S.-supported protesters plotted the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Without U.S.-sponsored “regime change,” it is unlikely that hundreds would have been killed in the unrest that followed. Nor would the Malaysian Airlines crash have happened.

The media has reported that the plane must have been shot down by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists, because the missile that reportedly brought down the plane was Russian made. But they will not report that the Ukrainian government also uses the exact same Russian-made weapons.

They will not report that the post-coup government in Kiev has, according to OSCE monitors, killed 250 people in the breakaway Lugansk region since June, including 20 killed as government forces bombed the city center the day after the plane crash! Most of these are civilians and together they roughly equal the number killed in the plane crash. By contrast, Russia has killed no one in Ukraine, and the separatists have struck largely military, not civilian, targets.

They will not report that the U.S. has strongly backed the Ukrainian government in these attacks on civilians, which a State Department spokeswoman called “measured and moderate.”

They will not report that neither Russia nor the separatists in eastern Ukraine have anything to gain but everything to lose by shooting down a passenger liner full of civilians.

They will not report that the Ukrainian government has much to gain by pinning the attack on Russia, and that the Ukrainian prime minister has already expressed his pleasure that Russia is being blamed for the attack.

They will not report that the missile that apparently shot down the plane was from a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system that requires a good deal of training that the separatists do not have.

They will not report that the separatists in eastern Ukraine have inflicted considerable losses on the Ukrainian government in the week before the plane was downed.

They will not report how similar this is to last summer’s U.S. claim that the Assad government in Syria had used poison gas against civilians in Ghouta. Assad was also gaining the upper hand in his struggle with U.S.-backed rebels and the U.S. claimed that the attack came from Syrian government positions. Then, U.S. claims led us to the brink of another war in the Middle East. At the last minute public opposition forced Obama to back down – and we have learned since then that U.S. claims about the gas attack were false.

Of course it is entirely possible that the Obama Administration and the U.S. media has it right this time, and Russia or the separatists in eastern Ukraine either purposely or inadvertently shot down this aircraft. The real point is, it’s very difficult to get accurate information so everybody engages in propaganda. At this point it would be unwise to say the Russians did it, the Ukrainian government did it, or the rebels did it. Is it so hard to simply demand a real investigation?

Ron Paul Explains What’s Missing In The Current Immigration ‘Crisis’ Debate

Over the past several weeks we have seen a significant increase in illegal immigration, as thousands of unaccompanied minors pour across what seems an invisible southern border into the United States. The mass immigration has, as to be expected, put an enormous strain on local resources, and it has heated up the immigration debate in the U.S.

Most liberals and conservatives miss the point, however, making the same old arguments we have all heard before. Liberals argue that we need to provide more welfare and assistance to these young immigrants, while conservatives would bus them to the other side of the border, drop them off, and deploy drones to keep them out.

Neither side seems interested in considering why is this happening in the first place. The truth is, this latest crisis is a consequence of mistaken government policies on both sides of the border.

In fact much of the problem can be directly traced to the U.S. drug war, which creates unlivable conditions in countries that produce narcotics for export to the U.S. Many of those interviewed over the past several weeks have cited violent drug gangs back home as a main motivation for their departure. Because some Americans want to use drugs here in the U.S., governments to the south are bribed and bullied to crack down on local producers. The resulting violence has destroyed economies and lives from Mexico to Nicaragua and beyond. Addressing the failed war on drugs would go a long way to solving the immigration crisis.

I understand the argument of some libertarians that there should be no limits at all on who comes into the United States, but the reality is we do not live in a libertarian society. We live in a society where healthcare is provided — often by over-burdened emergency rooms that cannot legally turn away the sick — “free” education is provided, and other support via food stamp programs is also made available for “free” to illegal immigrants. Many even argue that they should be allowed to vote!

In a free society where the warfare-welfare state ceased to exist, immigration laws would be far less important. A free market would seek workers rather than immigrants to add to its welfare rolls. Voting itself would decline in significance. If 20 people lived on a privately-owned island, for example, one owner could decide to have a guest on his property without bothering the other 19. Were we to move in this direction in the U.S., the current immigration crisis would be a thing of the past.

Over many years while I was in Congress, I met with scores of employers in my district who faced terrible red tape just to be allowed to bring in temporary agricultural workers who would willingly return home once the work was finished. How ironic that Americans willing to provide jobs for immigrants seeking honest work were thwarted by the same government that has now opened the door to a flood of immigrants seeking welfare and other assistance.

One thing we can be sure about: as Republicans and Democrats tussle over “reform” bills, more money will be thrown at the symptoms produced by past bad policies instead of addressing the real causes of the current crisis. The president’s $4 billion supplemental request to address the issue is a costly mix of welfare and enforcement that will do very little to solve the problem because it treats the symptoms instead of the cause. Real reform means changing a failed approach, and until that happens we can count on more expensive mistakes.

Hobby Lobby Decision Creates Small Island Of Freedom In Ocean Of Statism

This week, supporters of religious freedom cheered the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. The Court was correct to protect business owners from being forced to violate their religious beliefs by paying for contraceptives. However, the decision was very limited in scope and application.

The Court’s decision only applies to certain types of businesses, for example, “closely-held corporations” that have a “sincere” religious objection to paying for contraceptive coverage. Presumably, Federal courts or bureaucrats will determine if a business’s religious objection to the mandate is “sincere” or not and therefore eligible for an opt-out from one Obamacare mandate.

Opponents of the Court’s decision are correct that a religious objection does not justify a special exemption from the Obamacare contraception mandate, but that is because all businesses should be exempt from all Federal mandates. Federal laws imposing mandates on private businesses violate the business owners’ rights of property and contract.

Mandated benefits such as those in Obamacare also harm those employees who do not need or want them. Benefit packages resulting from negotiations between employers and employees are much more likely to satisfy both the employer and employee than benefit packages imposed by politicians and bureaucrats.

Opponents of the Court’s decision argue that Obamacare gives employees a “right” to free birth control that trumps the employers’ property rights. This argument confuses rights with desires. Successfully lobbying the government to force someone else to grant your wishes does not magically transform a desire into a “right.”

Redefining rights as desires to be fulfilled by the government also means that the government can modify, limit, or even take away those rights. After all, since your rights are gifts from government, there is no reason why you should object when the government takes away those rights for the common good.

Those who believe Congress can create a right to free contraception that overrides property rights should consider that the government may use that power to create and take away rights in ways they find objectionable. For example, if our rights are gifts from the government, then there is no reason why Congress should not limit our right to privacy by allowing the NSA to monitor our phone calls and Internet use.

The politicization of healthcare benefits is a direct result of government policies that not only encourage people to think of healthcare as a right, but to expect their employers to provide health insurance. Government policies encouraging over-reliance on third-party payers is the root of many of our healthcare problems.

Opponents of the Hobby Lobby decision are correct when they say that their bosses should not decide whether their healthcare plans cover contraceptives. However, like all supporters of Obamacare, they are incorrect in seeking to fix the problems with healthcare through more government intervention. Instead, they should join those of us working to create a free-market healthcare system that gives individuals control of their healthcare dollars. In a true free market, individuals would have the ability to obtain affordable healthcare without having to rely on government mandates or subsidies.

The debate over which, if any, businesses deserve an exemption from Obamacare’s contraception mandate is rooted in a misunderstanding of property and contract rights. All businesses and all Americans deserve an exemption not just from Obamacare, but from all mandates. Individuals should be given the freedom and responsibility to obtain the healthcare coverage that meets their needs without relying on the government to force others to provide it.

Ron Paul: Celebrate Independence Day By Opposing Government Tyranny

This week, Americans will enjoy Independence Day with family cookouts and fireworks. Flags will be displayed in abundance. Sadly, however, what should be a celebration of the courage of those who risked so much to oppose tyranny will instead be turned into a celebration of government, not liberty. The mainstream media and opportunistic politicians have turned Independence Day into the opposite of what was intended.

The idea of opposing — by force, if necessary — a tyrannical government has been turned into a celebration of tyrannical government itself!

The evidence is all around us.

How would the signers of the Declaration of Independence have viewed, for example, the Barack Obama Administration’s “drone memo,” finally released last week, which claims to justify the President’s killing American citizens without charge, judge, jury or oversight? Is this not a tyranny similar to that which our Founders opposed? And was such power concentrated in one branch of government not what inspired the rebellion against the English king in the first place?

The “drone memo,” released after an ACLU freedom of information request, purports to establish the President alone as the arbiter of who is or is not a terrorist subject to execution by the U.S. government. There is no due process involved, just the determination of the President. Thus far, the only American citizens killed by the President are Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, but the precedent has been established, according to the memo, that the President has the authority to kill Americans he believes are terrorists.

Even The New York Times, which generally backs whatever U.S. Administration is in power, is troubled by the White House’s legal justification to claim the authority to kill Americans. A Times editorial last week concluded that: “…the memo turns out to be a slapdash pastiche of legal theories — some based on obscure interpretations of British and Israeli law — that was clearly tailored to the desired result.”

I agree with the New York Times’ conclusion that “[t]his memo should never have taken so long to be released, and more documents must be made public. The public is still in the dark on too many vital questions.”

Coincidentally, in addition to the “drone memo” released last week, a broader study of the U.S. use of drones was also released by the Stimson Center. The study, co-chaired by Gen. John Abizaid, former U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander, concluded that contrary to claims that drones help prevent wider conflicts by targeting specific individuals, the use of drones “may create a slippery slope leading to continual or wider wars.”

In fact, the study concluded, the use of drones overseas is likely counterproductive. “Civilian casualties, even if relatively few, can anger whole communities, increase anti-U.S. sentiment and become a potent recruiting tool for terrorist organizations,” the study found.

Seven years ago, I wrote in an Independence Day column: “Only the safeguards and limitations that are enshrined in a constitutionally-limited republic can prohibit a nation from lurching toward empire…I hope every person who reads or hears this will take the time to go back and read the Declaration of Independence. Only by recapturing the spirit of independence can we ensure our government never resembles the one from which the American States declared their separation.”

On Independence Day we should remember the spirit of rebellion against tyranny that inspired our Founding Fathers to set out our experiment in liberty. We should ourselves celebrate and continue that struggle if we are to keep our republic.

 

Ron Paul: Opt-Out Of Common Core And Opt-In To Pro-Liberty Curriculum

Oklahoma recently took action to protect the state’s children from the Federal education bureaucracy by withdrawing from Common Core. Common Core is the latest attempt to bribe States, with money taken from the American people, into adopting a curriculum developed by Federal bureaucrats and education “experts.” In exchange for Federal funds, States must change their curriculum by, for example, replacing traditional mathematics with “reform math.” Reform math turns real mathematics on its head by focusing on “abstract thinking” instead of traditional concepts like addition and subtraction. Schools must also replace classic works of literature with “informational” texts, such as studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Those poor kids!

Oklahoma will likely not be the last state to explicitly ban Common Core, as grassroots opposition to this latest Federal education “reform” scheme continues to grow. While “reform math” and the use of “informational” texts grab headlines and fuel the outrage behind this movement, they are just symptoms of the problem, not the cause. The devil with Common Core lies not in its details but in its underlying principle. That principle is that that DC-based central planners can develop a curriculum suitable for every student. The idea that government “experts” can centrally plan a Nation’s educational system is just as flawed as the idea that government can centrally plan the economy.

One major flaw in a curriculum deigned by central planners for use by all students is that it will likely not be academically rigorous enough to meet the needs of college-bound students. Yet at the same time, “one-size-fits-all” curricula like Common Core offer little to meet the needs of students interested in technical or vocational education opportunities.

Growing dissatisfaction with Common Core and other centralized education schemes is leading an increasing number of parents to pursue alternatives such as homeschooling. Throughout my Congressional career I was a defender of homeschooling. Now that I am out of Congress, I have expanded my work with homeschoolers through my Ron Paul Homeschool Curriculum. The curriculum provides students with a rigorous education in history, math, English, foreign languages, and other subjects. While the curriculum is designed to prepare students for college-level work, students not interested pursing a traditional four-year college degree will also benefit.

The curriculum features three tracks: natural science/math, social sciences/humanities, and business. Students may also take courses in personal finance and public speaking. The curriculum avoids the ideological biases common in public schools; for example, the government and history sections of the curriculum emphasize Austrian economics, libertarian political theory, and the history of liberty.

Students can use the student discussion forums to interact with, learn from, and teach their peers.

One unique feature of the curriculum is that it gives students the opportunity to start their own Internet-based businesses.

The curriculum is free for students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Families above the fifth grade pay $250 a year, plus $50 per course. However, for the next three months, the Ron Paul Home School Curriculum is offering — for non-members only — an online summer school refresher program for students above the fifth grade. For just $25 students can access the curriculum for three months. This is an excellent opportunity for parents to see if my curriculum meets their child’s needs.

If you are a parent dissatisfied with existing education options, I hope you will take advantage of the Ron Paul Curriculum’s summer refresher program and consider opting-out of Common Core and opting-in to the Ron Paul Curriculum.

Straight Talk: Haven’t We Already Done Enough Damage in Iraq?

In 2006, I invited the late General Bill Odom to address my Thursday Congressional luncheon group. Gen. Odom, a former NSA director, called the Iraq war “the greatest strategic disaster in American history,” and told the surprised audience that he could not understand why Congress had not impeached the president for pushing this disaster on the United States. History continues to prove the General’s assessment absolutely correct.

In September, 2002, arguing against a U.S. attack on Iraq, I said the following on the House Floor:

‘No credible evidence has been produced that Iraq has or is close to having nuclear weapons. No evidence exists to show that Iraq harbors al Qaida terrorists. Quite to the contrary, experts on this region recognize Hussein as an enemy of the al Qaida and a foe to Islamic fundamentalism.’

Unfortunately, Congress did not listen.

As we know, last week the second largest city in Iraq, Mosul, fell to the al-Qaida allied Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Last week an al-Qaida that had not been in Iraq before our 2003 invasion threatened to move on the capitol, Baghdad, after it easily over-ran tens of thousands of Iraqi military troops.

The same foreign policy “experts” who lied us into the Iraq war are now telling us we must re-invade Iraq to deal with the disaster caused by their invasion! They cannot admit they were wrong about the invasion being a “cakewalk” that would pay for itself, so they want to blame last week’s events on the 2011 U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. But the trouble started with the 2003 invasion itself, not the 2011 troop withdrawal. Anyone who understands cause and effect should understand this.

The Obama Administration has said no option except for ground troops is off the table to help the Iraqi government in this crisis. We should not forget, however, that the administration does not consider Special Forces or the CIA to be “boots on the ground.” So we may well see Americans fighting in Iraq again.

It is also likely that the administration will begin shipping more weapons and other military equipment to the Iraqi army, in the hopes that they might be able to address the ISIS invasion themselves. After years of US training, costing as much as $20 billion, it is unlikely the Iraqi army is up to the task. Judging from the performance of the Iraqi military as the ISIS attacked, much of that money was wasted or stolen.

A big US government weapons transfer to Iraq will no doubt be favored by the U.S. military-industrial complex, which stands to profit further from the Iraq meltdown. This move will also be favored by those in Washington who realize how politically unpopular a third U.S. invasion of Iraq would be at home, but who want to “do something” in the face of the crisis. Shipping weapons may be an action short of war, but it usually leads to war. And as we have already seen in Iraq and Syria, very often these weapons fall into the hands of the al-Qaida we are supposed to be fighting!

Because of the government’s foolish policy of foreign interventionism, the U.S. is faced with two equally stupid choices: either pour in resources to prop up an Iraqi government that is a close ally with Iran, or throw our support in with al-Qaida in Iraq (as we have done in Syria). I say we must follow a third choice: ally with the American people and spend not one more dollar or one more life attempting to re-make the Middle East. Haven’t we have already done enough damage?

Copyright © 2014 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

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Ron Paul: Obama’s Foreign Policy Rhetoric Does Not Match U.S. Actions

President Barack Obama’s recent foreign policy speech, delivered at this year’s West Point graduation ceremony, was a disappointment to anyone who hoped the President might be changing course. The failure of each U.S. intervention thus far in the 21st century might have inspired at least a bit of reflection.

However, the President made it clear that interventionism and American exceptionalism would continue to guide his Administration in its final two years. The President said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being,” adding the dubious claim that “because of American diplomacy and foreign assistance, as well as the sacrifices of our military — more people live under elected governments today than at any time in human history.”

It’s funny he would mention elections. Last week, the Syrians held their first multi-candidate presidential election in 50 years. Almost three-quarters of Syrian voters participated, giving President Bashar Assad 88 percent of the vote. After three years fighting a foreign-backed insurgency, voting conditions were not optimal. However, despite State Department claims to the contrary, it can no longer be stated that Assad enjoys no popularity in his country. Even former CIA chief Michael Hayden not long ago envisioned Assad winning a fair election in Syria.

But the U.S. government completely rejected the vote in Syria, with Secretary of State John Kerry calling it “a great big zero,” because, as he put it, “you can’t have an election where millions of your people don’t even have an ability to vote.”

That is just what happened last month in Ukraine, however, where the U.S.-backed oligarch Petro Poroshenko won with just over 50 percent of the vote in an election where millions in the eastern part of the country did not have the ability to vote. That election, however, Kerry declared a “victory for democracy.”

Similarly, Kerry described the 2013 coup against the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt as a “return to democracy,” while approving the election last month — with 96 percent of the vote — of the man who led that coup.

Likewise, when a referendum was held in Crimea this spring in which the vast majority voted to rejoin Russia rather than to remain in a Ukraine that had just undergone a regime change, the U.S. Administration refused to recognize the results. For Washington, it was “illegal” for Crimea to vote to secede from Ukraine, but it was not illegal for a mob in the street to overthrow an elected government in Kiev.

Obama has spoken at length about the U.S. role in promoting democracy around the world, but why does it seem that the U.S. government recognizes elections as free and fair only when the U.S.-favored candidate wins?

At West Point the President announced a new $5 billion “counterterrorism partnership,” with much of the money going to continue supporting the rebels in Syria. Though the Administration claims it supports only moderate rebels in Syria, it has refused to explain exactly which fighting groups it considers “moderate.” In fact, it is known that the weapons sent to “moderates” in Syria often end up in the hands of the radicals. This $5billion — stolen from U.S. taxpayers and borrowed from China — will guarantee a prolongation of the war in Syria.

There is much to disappoint in Obama’s big foreign policy speech. It represents a continuation of the policy of “do what we say and we will subsidize you, disobey us and we will bomb you.” That approach is a failure, but the neocons who back it show no sign of falling out of favor.

Ron Paul: Say No To Mandatory Mental Health Screening For Gun Purchases

Last week Americans were shocked and saddened by another mass killing, this one near a college campus in California. We all feel deep sympathy for the families of the victims.

As usual, many people responded to this shooting by calling for new Federal gun control laws, including the mental health screening of anyone attempting to purchase a firearm. There are a number of problems with this proposal. Federally-mandated mental health screenings would require storing mental health records in a government database. This obviously raises concerns about patient privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality, as well as the threat of identity theft. Anyone who doubts that these are legitimate concerns should consider the enormous privacy problems with the Obamacare website; some have even suggested that healthcare.gov be renamed indentifytheft.gov.

Giving government the power to bar some Americans from owning guns by labeling them as “mentally ill” could easily lead to serious abuses. Even authors of mental health manuals admit that mental health diagnoses are subjective and can be based on “social constructions.” Thus, anyone whose behavior deviates from some “norm” could find himself deprived of his 2nd Amendment, and possibly other, rights.

People could be even be labeled “mentally ill” because they are outspoken critics of the government. Currently, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s “Operation Vigilant Eagle” program, veterans who express dissatisfaction with government polices run the risk of being labeled mentally-unstable terrorist threats. There has also been at least one Federally-funded violence prevention program that determined that holding certain political and social views indicates a propensity for violence. So there is precedent for labeling those with unpopular political beliefs as being “mentally ill.”

We have also seen how U.S. Presidents from both parties have used the IRS to target political opponents. Imagine the potential for abuse if those same politicians had access to the mental health records of their political opponents, or the power to label opponents mentally ill because those opponents were “dissatisfied” with the government?

People who say that the threat to liberty posed by mental health screenings is outweighed by the enhanced security they provide should consider that expanding background checks and mental health screening is unlikely to make us safer. Professor Richard Alan Friedman, director of the Psychopharmacology Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, has written that it is imposable to predict whether an individual will act in a violent manner.

One effective way to limit mass shootings may be to repeal gun control laws that, by disarming the law-abiding, turn the innocent into victims. Like most recent shootings, this one took place in a location where the attacker could be confident his intended targets could not defend themselves. It is interesting that even though the attacker used hammers and knives on some of the victims, no one is calling for background checks on those wishing to purchase hammers.

Instead of focusing on passing more laws, our focus should be replacing the entitlement culture with a culture of self-responsibility and respect for the rights of others. Government can help this process by ending its routine violation of our rights and the use of violence as a means to achieve domestic and foreign policy goals. This is not to suggest that government policies are directly responsible for the shootings, but it is not unreasonable to suggest that growing up in a time of preemptive war may feed a deranged person’s delusion that violence is a proper way to deal with personal frustrations. Fixing the culture is much more difficult than passing new laws but is the only way to guarantee our liberty and our security.

Ron Paul: The VA Scandal is Just the Tip of the Military Abuse Iceberg

President Barack Obama held a press conference last week to express his outrage over reports that the Veterans Administration was routinely delaying treatment to veterans, with some veterans even dying while on alleged secret waiting lists. The President said, “If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period.” He vowed that, together with Congress, he would “make sure we’re doing right by our veterans across the board.”

The President is right to be upset over the mistreatment of U.S. military veterans, especially those who return home with so many physical and mental injuries. Veterans should not be abused when they seek the treatment promised them when they enlisted. But his outrage over military abuse is selective. He ignores the most egregious abuse of the U.S. armed forces: sending them off to fight, become maimed and die in endless conflicts overseas that have no connection to U.S. national security.

It is ironic that the same week the President condemned the alleged mistreatment of veterans by the VA, he announced that he was sending 80 armed troops to Chad to help look for a group of girls kidnapped by the Nigerian Islamist organization Boko Haram. Is there any mistreatment worse than sending the U.S. military into a violent and unstable part of the world to conduct a search operation that is in no way connected to the defense of the United States?

As Judge Andrew Napolitano said last week, “Feeling sorry for somebody is not a sufficient basis for sending American men and women into harm’s way.”

We are naturally upset over reports that Nigerian girls have been kidnapped by this armed Islamist organization. Unfortunately, cruel and unjust acts are committed worldwide on a regular basis. What the media is not reporting about this terrible situation, however, is that it was U.S. interventionism itself that strengthened Boko Haram, and inadvertently may have even helped the kidnappers commit their crime.

Back in early 2012, just months after the U.S.-led attack on Libya overthrew Moammar Gadhafi and plunged the country into chaos, the U.N. issued a report warning about the proliferation of weapons from that bombed out country. U.N. investigators found (eight months before the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi): “Some of the weapons … could be sold to terrorist groups like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram or other criminal organizations.”

The U.S., NATO and the U.N. are guilty of creating the unrest currently engulfing much of northern Africa, as they all pushed lies to promote an attack on Libya that destabilized the region. Now the President is launching an intervention in Chad and Nigeria to solve the problems created by his own intervention in Libya. This pattern is the same in places like Ukraine, where the U.S.-backed coup in February has led to chaos and unrest that leads to even more intervention, including NATO’s saber-rattling on the Russian border. Has anyone in the Administration or Congress ever considered that interventionism itself might be the real problem?

As Americans celebrate the Memorial Day holiday, we should remember that though the VA’s alleged abuse and neglect of U.S. veterans is scandalous, the worse abuse comes from a President and a compliant Congress that sends the U.S. military to cause harm and be harmed overseas in undeclared, unnecessary and illegal interventions. The best way to honor the U.S. military is to honor the Constitution, and to keep in mind the wise advice of our Founding Fathers to avoid all foreign interventionism.

Ron Paul: Tax Reform is Useless Without Spending Reform

Recently, Republican leaders in Congress unveiled a “tax reform” plan that they claimed would provide the American people with a simpler, fairer, and more efficient tax system. While this plan does lower some tax rates and contains some other changes that may make next April a little less painful for Americans, there is little in it to excite supporters of liberty.

Taxes may even increase under this plan for some Americans, as it eliminates some of those tax deductions labeled “loopholes.” When I served in Congress I opposed bills that “closed loopholes” because closing loopholes is just a fancy way of saying raising taxes. Anything that leaves more money in the hands of the people is beneficial to both liberty and economic efficiency. As economist Thomas DiLorenzo put it, “…private individuals always spend their own money more efficiently than government bureaucrats do,” therefore sound economics, as well as a concern for liberty, requires opposition to any proposal to “let government bureaucrats spend more of the people’s hard-earned money.”

Tax reformers also stray from sound economics when they endorse a tax system that is designed to direct consumption and savings. I share the concern that the current tax system distorts people’s behavior by discouraging savings. However, the solution is not for the government to create a tax code that punishes consumption in order to encourage savings. A truly efficient market is one where individuals are completely free to determine how to allocate their incomes between consumption and savings. No politician or bureaucrat can know the proper allocation of savings and investment that meets the needs of every individual, and government policies designed to cause individuals to devote more of their income to savings than they otherwise would distorts the market just as much as policies that encourage excess consumption.

The Republican tax plan adopts what is called “dynamic scoring.” Dynamic scoring is designed to recognize that tax cuts, by incentivizing work and investment, can increase revenue to the government. This is the argument of the famous Laffer curve. It has always seemed odd to me that a supposed free-market economist would argue for tax cuts on the grounds that it would enrich the state’s coffers. After all, the more money the state has the greater its ability to violate our liberties. Does this mean that those concerned with liberty should vote against tax cuts? Of course not; the solution is to make sure tax cuts are big enough that they cost the government revenue.

Sadly, politicians in Washington refuse to consider any tax plan that would decrease government revenue. This is because the prevalent attitude in DC favors protecting the welfare-warfare state over protecting our liberties. As the obsession with the Laffer curve shows, even many alleged supporters of the free market only pretend to support liberty as a means to enhance the well-being of the welfare-warfare state.

Many politicians in Washington also forget that deficit spending is itself a tax. When the government runs deficits it uses money that could be more efficiently used by the private sector. Deficit spending also leads the Federal Reserve to monetize debt, thus burdening people with the inflation tax.

Instead of worrying over the latest plan to enable the government to more efficiently take our money, people who want to advance liberty must focus on breaking the intellectual and political consensus in support of the welfare-warfare state. Only then can we radically reduce all taxes, including the most insidious and regressive of taxes — the inflation tax.

Ron Paul: What Does The U.S. Government Want In Ukraine?

In several eastern Ukrainian towns over the past week, the military opened fire on its own citizens. Dozens may have been killed in the violence. Although the U.S. government generally condemns a country’s use of military force against its own population, especially if they are unarmed protesters, this time the U.S. Administration blamed the victims. After as many as 20 unarmed protesters were killed on the May 9th holiday in Ukraine, the State Department spokesman said “we condemn the outbreak of violence caused by pro-Russia separatists.”

Why are people protesting in eastern Ukraine? Because they do not believe the government that came to power after the U.S.-backed uprising in February is legitimate. They do not recognize the authority of an unelected president and prime minister. The U.S. sees this as a Russian-sponsored destabilization effort, but is it so hard to understand that the people in Ukraine may be annoyed with the U.S. and EU for their involvement in regime change in their country? Would we be so willing to accept an unelected government in Washington put in place with the backing of the Chinese and Iranians?

The U.S. State Department provided much assistance earlier this year to those involved in the effort to overthrow the Ukrainian government. The U.S. warned the Ukrainian government at the time not to take any action against those in the streets, even as they engaged in violence and occupied government buildings. But now that those former protesters have come to power, the U.S. takes a different view of protest. Now they give full support to the bloody crackdown against protesters in the east. The State Department spokesperson said last week: “We continue to call for groups who have jeopardized public order by taking up arms and seizing public buildings in violation of Ukrainian law to disarm and leave the buildings they have seized.” This is the opposite of what they said in February. Do they think the rest of the world does not see this hypocrisy?

The residents of eastern Ukraine have long been closer to Russia than to the U.S. and EU. In fact, that part of Ukraine had been a part of Russia. After February’s regime change, officials in the east announced that they would hold referenda to see whether the population wanted autonomy from the U.S.-backed government in Kiev. The U.S. demanded that Russian President Putin stop eastern Ukraine from voting on autonomy, and last week the Russian president did just that: he said that the vote should not be held as scheduled. The eastern Ukrainians ignored him and said they would hold the vote anyway. So much for the U.S. claims that Russia controls the opposition in Ukraine.

Even though the Russian president followed U.S. demands and urged the eastern Ukrainians to hold off on the vote, the U.S. State Department announced that the U.S. would apply additional sanctions on Russia if the vote is held! Does this make any sense?

The real question is why the U.S. government is involved in Ukraine in the first place. We are broke. We cannot even afford to fix our own economy. Yet we want to run Ukraine? Does it really matter who Ukrainians elect to represent them? Is it really a national security matter worth risking a nuclear war with Russia whether Ukraine votes for more regional autonomy and a weaker central government? Isn’t that how the United States was originally conceived?

Has the arrogance of the U.S. Administration, thinking they should run the world, driven us to the brink of another major war in Europe? Let us hope they will stop this dangerous game and come to their senses. I say let’s have no war for Ukraine!

Ron Paul Explains Why America Is No Longer Economic Leader

Last week World Bank economists predicted that China would soon displace the United States as the world’s largest economy. The fact that this one-time economic basket case is now positioned to surpass the US is one more sign of the damage done to American prosperity by welfare, warfare, corporatism, and fiat money.

Some commentators have predicted that China’s reign as the world’s largest economy would not last long. This may be true. While China has made great strides since adopting free-market reforms in the 1970s, China is still run by an authoritarian government whose economic policies distort the market in order to benefit state-favored industries. These state-favored businesses are often controlled by politically-powerful individuals.

What many of these commentators fail to notice is that the American government pursues many of the same flawed policies as the Chinese. For example, because of the increase in regulations, subsidies, and bailouts, many American businesses are putting more resources into manipulating the political process than producing goods and services desired by consumers. Many big businesses even lobby Congress and the federal bureaucracy for new regulations on their industries. They do this because big business can more easily absorb the costs of complying with the new regulations that force their smaller competitors out of business.

China is regularly criticized by American protectionists for subsidizing its export industries. However, the US government does the same thing via programs such as the Export-Import Bank. China is also criticized for manipulating the value of its currency to make its exports more attractive to foreign consumers. This may well be true, but China is hardly unique in this respect. Throughout its history, the Federal Reserve has manipulated both the domestic and international economy, often working in partnership with foreign central banks.

The Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies benefit big banks, politically-connected businesses, and big-spending politicians at the expense of the American people. Anyone interested in helping improve the American people’s economic situation should focus on changing America’s monetary policy, not China’s.

Ironically, many of the same politicians who denounce China’s monetary policy benefit from Chinese purchases of America’s debt. If China stopped making large purchases of US debt, the Federal Reserve would be forced to monetize even more debt, thus risking hyperinflation. So the best thing Congress could do to make it more difficult for China to manipulate the global economy is cut federal spending.

One advantage China has over the US is that the Chinese government does not waste money on a hyper-interventionist foreign policy. The United States government spent approximately $752 billion on the military in fiscal year 2013. In contrast, China spent approximately $188 billion. While China may be increasing its military spending, it has a long way to go to catch up to the United States.

It is difficult to see how the American people, other than those who run or work for the military-industrial complex, benefit from this spending. Military spending, like all government spending, hampers private sector growth by taking resources away from investors, entrepreneurs, and consumers while contributing significantly to the national debt. In contrast, a return to the policy of peace and free trade would allow those resources to be used by entrepreneurs to create new businesses and new jobs.

News that China is soon to surpass the United States as the largest economy in the world is a stark reminder of how the American people are harmed by the welfare-warfare state, crony capitalism, and fiat currency. The only way to avoid continuing collapse is to finally reject an interventionist foreign policy, stop bailing out and subsidizing politically powerful industries, and restore a free market in money.

Ron Paul On How Obama’s Drone Wars Undermine American Values

Earlier this month, CIA-operated drones killed as many as 55 people in Yemen in several separate strikes. Although it was claimed that those killed were “militants,” according to press reports at least three civilians were killed and at least five others wounded. That makes at least 92 U.S. drone attacks against Yemen during the Obama Administration, which have killed nearly 1,000 people including many civilians.

The latest strikes seem to contradict President Obama’s revised guidelines for targeted killings, which he announced last May. At the time he claimed that drones would only be used against those who posed a “continuing and imminent threat to the American people,” that there must be a “near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured,” and that safeguards to prevent civilian casualties were at “the highest standard we can set.”

None of these criteria seem to have been met. In fact, the threshold in Yemen is considerably lower than the President claims. In 2012 President Obama approved “signature strikes” in Yemen, a criteria for attack that is not based on actual or suspected wrongdoing, but rather on a vague set of behaviors that are said to be shared by militants.

This means that the individuals killed in the most recent drone attacks were not necessarily terrorists or even terrorist suspects. They were not proven to have committed any crime, nor were they proven to have been members of al-Qaida or any terrorist organization. Yet they were nevertheless targeted for attack, and the sovereignty of Yemen was violated in the process.

Some may claim that we need to kill suspected terrorists overseas so that we can be safer at home. But do the drone attacks in places like Yemen really make us safer? Or are they actually counter-productive? One thing we do know is that one of the strongest recruiting tools for al-Qaida is the U.S. being over there using drones against people or occupying Muslim countries.

How can we get rid of all the people who may seek to do us harm if our drone and occupation policies continually create even more al-Qaida members? Are we not just creating an endless supply of tomorrow’s terrorists with our foolish policies today? What example does it set for the rest of the world if the U.S. acts as if it has the right to kill anyone, anywhere, based simply on that individual’s behavior?

We should keep all of this in mind when the US administration lectures world leaders about how they should act in the 21st century. Recently, the U.S. Administration admonished Russian president Vladimir Putin for his supposed interference in the affairs of Ukraine, saying that violating the sovereignty of another country is not the 21st century way of conducting international relations. I agree that sovereignty must be respected. But what about the U.S. doing the same thing in places like Yemen? What about the hundreds and even thousands killed by U.S. drones not because they were found guilty of a crime, but because they were exhibiting “behaviors” that led a CIA drone operator safely hidden in New Mexico or somewhere to pull the trigger and end their lives?

What about a President who regularly meets in secret with his advisors to determine who is to be placed on a “kill list” and who refuses to even discuss the criteria for placement on that list? Is this considered acceptable 21st century behavior?

The Obama Administration needs to rein in the CIA and its drone attacks overseas. They make a mockery of American values and they may well make us less safe.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Nevada Standoff A Symptom Of Increasing Authoritarianism

The Nation’s attention has for the past few weeks been riveted by a standoff in Nevada between armed Federal agents and the Bundys, a ranching family who believe the Federal government is exceeding its authority by accessing “fees” against ranchers who graze cattle on government lands. Outrage over the government’s use of armed agents to forcibly remove the Bundys’ cattle led many Americans to travel to Nevada to engage in non-violent civil disobedience in support of the family.

The protests seem to have worked, at least for now, as the government appears to have backed off from direct confrontation. Sadly, some elected officials have inflamed the situation by labeling the Bundys and their supporters “domestic terrorists,” thus justifying any future use of force by the government. That means there is always the possibility of another deadly Waco-style raid on the Bundys or a similar group in the future.

In a State like Nevada, where 84 percent of the land is owned by the Federal government, these types of conflicts are inevitable. Government ownership of land means that land is in theory owned by everyone, but in practice owned by no one. Thus, those who use the land lack the incentives to preserve it for the long term. As a result, land-use rules are set by politicians and bureaucrats. Oftentimes, the so-called “public” land is used in ways that benefit politically-powerful special interests.

Politicians and bureaucrats can, and will, arbitrarily change the rules governing the land. In the 19th century, some Americans moved to Nevada because the government promised them that they, and their descendants, would always be able to use the Federally-owned land. The Nevada ranchers believed they had an implied contract with the government allowing them to use the land for grazing. When government bureaucrats decided they needed to restrict grazing to protect the desert tortoise, they used force to drive most ranchers away.

By contrast, if the Nevada land in question was privately owned, the dispute over whether to allow the ranchers to continue to use the land would have likely been resolved without sending in Federal armed agents to remove the Bundys’ cattle from the land. This is one more reason why the Federal government should rid itself of all Federal land holdings. Selling Federal lands would also help reduce the Federal deficit.

It is unlikely that Congress will divest the Federal government’s land holdings, as most in government are more interested in increasing government power then in protecting and restoring private property rights.

A government that continually violates our rights of property and contract can fairly be descried as authoritarian. Of course, the politicians and bureaucrats take offense at this term, but how else do you describe a government that forbids Americans from grazing cattle on land they have used for over a century, from buying health insurance that does not met Obamacare’s standards, from trading with Cuba, or even from drinking raw milk! That so many in D.C. support the NSA spying and the TSA assaults on our privacy shows the low regard that too many in government have for our rights.

History shows us that authoritarian systems, whether fascist, communist, or Keynesian, will inevitably fail. I believe incidents such as that in Nevada show we may be witnessing the failure of the American authoritarian warfare-welfare state — and that of course would be good. This is why it so important that those of us who understand the freedom philosophy spread the truth about how statism caused our problems and why liberty is the only solution.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Another Phony Budget Debate

Anyone watching last week’s debate over the Republican budget resolution would have experienced déjà vu, as the debate bore a depressing similarity to those of previous years. Once again, the Republicans claimed their budget would cut spending in a responsible manner, while Democratic opponents claimed the plan’s spending cuts would shred the safety net and leave vital programs unfunded. Of course, neither claim is true.

The budget does not cut spending at all, and in fact actually increases spending by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The Republicans are using the old D.C. trick of spending less than originally planned and calling that reduced spending increase a $5.1 trillion cut in spending. Only in D.C. could a budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent per year instead of by 5.2 percent per year be attacked as a “slash-and-burn” plan.

The budget also relies on “dynamic scoring.” This trick is where the budget numbers account for increased government revenue generated by economic growth the budget will supposedly unleash. The claims are dubious at best. Of course, reducing government spending will lead to economic growth. But real growth requires real cuts, not this budget’s phony cuts.

As important as reducing spending and balancing the budget is, focusing solely on budget numbers ignores the root of the problem. The real problem is that too many in Washington — and the nation as a whole — refuse to consider any serious reductions in the welfare-warfare state.

I have always maintained that the logical place to start reducing spending is the trillions wasted on our interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, there are still too many in Congress who claim to be fiscal hawks when it comes to welfare spending, but turn into Keynesian “doves” when it comes to spending on the military-industrial complex.

These members cling to the mistaken belief that the government can balance it budget, keep taxes low and even have a growing economy, while spending trillions of dollars policing the world and while propping up some governments and changing others overtly or covertly. Thus, President Barack Obama is attacked as soft on defense because he wants to spend only $5.9 trillion over 10 years on the military. In contrast, the Republican budget spends $6.2 trillion over the next decade. That is almost a trillion dollars more than the budget’s total so-called spending cuts.

If there are too many fiscal conservatives who refuse to abandon the warfare state, there are too many liberals who act as if any reduction in welfare or entitlement spending leaves children starving. I agree it is unrealistic to simply end programs that people are currently dependent on. However, isn’t it inhumane to not take steps to unwind the welfare system before government overspending causes a bigger financial crisis and drags millions more into poverty?

Far from abandoning those in need of help, returning the responsibility for caring for the needy to private charities, churches and local communities will improve the welfare system. At the very least, young people should have the freedom to choose to pay a lower tax rate in exchange for promising to never participate in a government welfare or entitlement program.

Last week’s budget debate showed how little difference there lies between the parties when it comes to preserving the warfare-welfare state. One side may prefer more warfare while the other prefers more welfare, but neither side actually wants to significantly reduce the size and scope of government. Until Congress stops trying to run the world, run the economy and run our lives, there will never be a real debate about cutting spending and limiting government.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Fort Hood Was An Avoidable Tragedy

Last week we saw yet another tragedy at Ft. Hood, Texas, as a distraught Iraq war veteran killed three of his fellow soldiers before killing himself. It is nearly five years after the last Ft. Hood shooting, where 13 people were killed. These tragedies are heartbreaking and we certainly feel much sympathy for the families of the victims.

While there is much focus on the mental illness that appears to have driven many of these men to murder, what is left unsaid is the cause of the tragedy. Government officials and the media only talk about the symptoms that lead to these tragic events. They will tell us that there are people who get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and kill themselves and others. They will all call for more government intervention into the lives of those in the military to root out and “treat” mental illness.

But they will never question the two causes of these tragedies: the disastrous decade-long U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have destroyed the minds of so many service members, and the government psychiatrists who prescribe extremely dangerous psychotropic drugs to treat these damaged soldiers.

On the drugs, it is true that in almost every story we read about these kinds of mass killings, whether on a military base or in a school, the kids or veterans have been treated with these dangerous drugs. When will the medical profession wake up and realize that these drugs are often worse than the illness they are designed to treat?

We need to understand that the problem of veterans returning home with serious mental illness is increasing at an alarming rate. We are not talking about a few thousand people returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are talking about a hundred thousand people. And according to government statistics, about 20 percent of returning vets will suffer from PTSD, and a further 20 percent will suffer from traumatic brain injuries.

The numbers are significant and they are frightening. While some will ignore these statistics and point out that these wars are producing far less deaths than previous ones, the fact is these brain injuries and disorders are a living death for the victims. And increasingly, those living in such horrific circumstances, full of deadly drugs that are supposed to treat the problem but only make matters worse, are striking out against those in their communities or committing suicide.

But what of the other main cause of these tragedies? What no media or government representative will admit is that U.S. military members are suffering horrible mental illnesses because they have been sent over and over again into senseless wars overseas. That is the real cause of this crisis. The real horror comes when these soldiers return to the U.S. to realize that the wars have not been won and all of the suffering and dying on both sides has been in vain. Just think of how many individuals over the last 15 years would not have suffered death or injury — or post-traumatic stress disorders or brain injuries — if we didn’t go to war unnecessarily!

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be winding down, but the war against our veterans continues. Why are the people who are really guilty, those who lied us into war, not being called to task?

Unfortunately, the truth is that these same people who lied us into war in Iraq are still getting us involved unnecessarily overseas, in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Ukraine. The problem, the interventionism that creates these deeply troubled service members, continues to thrive, unpunished. And even worse: these people continue to plan our future disasters even though they will not suffer the fate of those they send to be broken on foreign battlefields.

We must end the aggressive wars that break our military, and end the dangerous drugs that turn deeply-troubled victims into killers. Let’s have no more Ft. Hoods!

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Aid To Ukraine Is A Bad Deal For All

Last week, Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill approving a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia. The bill will likely receive the President’s signature within days. If you think this is the last time U.S. citizens will have their money sent to Ukraine, you should think again. This is only the beginning.

This $1 billion for Ukraine is a rip-off for the America taxpayer, but it is also a bad deal for Ukrainians. Not a single needy Ukrainian will see a penny of this money, as it will be used to bail out international banks that hold Ukrainian government debt. According to the terms of the International Monetary Fund-designed plan for Ukraine, life is about to get much more difficult for average Ukrainians. The government will freeze some wage increases, significantly raise taxes and increase energy prices by a considerable margin.

But the bankers will get paid and the IMF will get control over the Ukrainian economy.

The bill also authorizes more U.S. taxpayer money for government-funded “democracy promotion” non-governmental organizations, and more money to broadcast U.S. government propaganda into Ukraine via Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. It also includes some saber-rattling, directing the U.S. secretary of state to “provide enhanced security cooperation with Central and Eastern European NATO member states.”

The U.S. has been “promoting democracy” in Ukraine for more than 10 years now, but it doesn’t seem to have done much good. Recently, a democratically elected government was overthrown by violent protesters. That is the opposite of democracy, where governments are changed by free and fair elections. What is shocking is that the U.S. government and its NGOs were on the side of the protesters! If we really cared about democracy, we would not have taken either side, as it is none of our business.

Washington does not want to talk about its own actions that led to the coup, instead focusing on attacking the Russian reaction to U.S.-instigated unrest next door to them. So the new bill passed by Congress will expand sanctions against Russia for its role in backing a referendum in Crimea, where most of the population voted to join Russia. The U.S., which has participated in the forced change of borders in Serbia and elsewhere, suddenly declares that international borders cannot be challenged in Ukraine.

Of course, those who disagree with me and others like me who are less than gung-ho about sanctions, manipulating elections and sending our troops overseas are criticized as somehow being unpatriotic. It happened before when so many of us were opposed to the Iraq war and U.S. attacks on Libya and elsewhere. And it is happening again to those of us not eager to get in another cold — or hot — war with Russia over a small peninsula that means absolutely nothing to the U.S. or its security.

I would argue that real patriotism is defending this country and making sure that our freedoms are not undermined here. Unfortunately, while so many are focused on freedoms in Crimea and Ukraine, the U.S. Congress is set to pass a National Security Agency “reform” bill that will force private companies to retain our personal data and make it even easier for the NSA to spy on the rest of us. We need to refocus our priorities toward promoting liberty in the United States!

Ron Paul Straight Talk: U.S. ‘Democracy Promotion’ Destroys Overseas Democracy

It was almost ten years ago when, before the House International Relations Committee, I objected to the U.S. Government funding NGOs to meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine. At the time the “Orange Revolution” had forced a regime change in Ukraine with the help of millions of dollars from Washington.

At that time I told the Committee: We do not know exactly how many millions—or tens of millions—of dollars the United States government spent on the presidential election in Ukraine. We do know that much of that money was targeted to assist one particular candidate, and that through a series of cut-out non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—both American and Ukrainian—millions of dollars ended up in support of the presidential candidate…

I was worried about millions of dollars that the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its various related organizations spent to meddle in Ukraine’s internal affairs. But it turns out that was only the tip of the iceberg.

Last December, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland gave a speech in which she admitted that since 1991 the U.S. government has: [I]nvested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine…in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government.

This is the same State Department official who was caught on tape just recently planning in detail the overthrow of the Ukrainian government.

That five billion dollars appears to have bought a revolution in Ukraine. But what do the U.S. taxpayers get, who were forced to pay for this interventionism? Nothing good. Ukraine is a bankrupt country that will need tens of billions of dollars to survive the year. Already the U.S.-selected prime minister has made a trip to Washington to ask for more money.

And what will the Ukrainians get? Their democracy has been undermined by the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev. In democracies, power is transferred peacefully through elections, not seized by rebels in the streets. At least it used to be.

The IMF will descend on Ukraine to implement yet another of its failed rescue plans, which enrich the well-connected and international bankers at the expense of the local population. The IMF adds debt, organizes sweetheart deals for foreign corporations, and demands that the local population accept “austerity” in exchange for “reform” that never seems to produce the promised results.

The groundwork for this disaster has been laid by NED, USAID, and the army of NGOs they have funded over the years in Ukraine.

Supporters of NED and its related organizations will argue that nothing is wrong with sending U.S. dollars to “promote democracy” overseas. The fact is, however, that NED, USAID, and the others have nothing to do with promoting democracy and everything to do with destroying democracy.

It is not democracy to send in billions of dollars to push regime change overseas. It isn’t democracy to send in the NGOs to re-write laws and the constitution in places like Ukraine. It is none of our business.

How should we promote democracy overseas? First, we should stop the real isolationists — those who seek to impose sanctions and blockades and restrictions that impede our engagement overseas. We can promote democracy with a U.S. private sector that engages overseas. A society that prospers through increased trade ties with the U.S. will be far more likely to adopt practices and policies that continue that prosperity and encourage peace.

In 2005, arguing against funding NED in the U.S. foreign assistance authorization bill, I said: The National Endowment for Democracy…has very little to do with democracy. It is an organization that uses U.S. tax money to actually subvert democracy, by showering funding on favored political parties or movements overseas. It underwrites color-coded ‘people’s revolutions’ overseas that look more like pages out of Lenin’s writings on stealing power than genuine indigenous democratic movements.

Sadly, matters are even worse now. To promote democracy overseas, NED and all other meddling US government funded NGOs should be disbanded immediately.

Ron Paul: If Spying On Senate Is So Bad, Why Is It OK For Them To Spy On Us?

The reaction of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to last week’s revelations that the CIA secretly searched Senate Intelligence Committee computers reveals much about what the elites in government think about the rest of us. “Spy on thee, but not on me!”

The hypocrisy of Feinstein is astounding. She is the biggest backer of the National Security Agency’s spying on the rest of us; but when the tables are turned and her staff is the target, she becomes irate. But there is more to it than that. There is an attitude in Washington that the laws Congress passes do not apply to members. They can trample our civil liberties, they believe, but it should never affect their own freedom.

Remember that much of this started when politicians rushed to pass the Patriot Act after 9/11. Those of us who warned that such new powers granted to the state would be used against us someday were criticized as alarmist and worse. The violations happened just as we warned; but when political leaders discovered the breach of our civil liberties, they did nothing about it. It was not until whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden and others informed us of the abuses that the “debate” over surveillance that President Barack Obama claimed to welcome could even begin to take place! Left to politicians like Feinstein, Mike Rogers and Obama, we would never have that debate because we would not know.

Washington does not care about our privacy. When serious violations are discovered, they most often rush to protect the status quo instead of defending the Constitution. Feinstein did just that as the NSA spying revelations began to create pressure on the intelligence community. Her NSA reform legislation was nothing but a smokescreen: Under the guise of “reform,” it would have codified in law the violations already taking place. When that fact became too obvious to deny, the Senate was forced to let the legislation die in the committee.

What is interesting, and buried in the accusations and denials, is that the alleged CIA monitoring was over an expected 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the shameful and un-American recent CIA history of torture at the “gulag archipelago” of secret prisons it set up across the world after the attacks of 9/11. We can understand why the CIA might have been afraid of that information getting out.

When CIA whistle-blower John Kiriakou exposed the CIA’s role in torturing prisoners, he was sent to prison for nearly three years. But Feinstein and her colleagues didn’t lift a finger to support him. So again you have the double standards and hypocrisy.

The essence of this problem has to do with the difficulty in managing the U.S. empire. When the government behaves as an empire rather than as a republic, lying to the rest of us is permissible. They spy on everybody because they don’t trust anybody. The answer is obvious: Rein in the CIA; remove its authority to conduct these kinds of covert actions. Rein in government. Lawmakers should not defend 4th Amendment rights only when their staffs have been violated. They should do it all the time for all of us. The people’s branch of government must stand up for the people. Let’s hope that Feinstein has had her wake-up call and will now finally start defending the rest of us against a government that increasingly sees us as the enemy.

Ron Paul’s Texas Straight Talk: Can We Afford Ukraine?

Officially, U.S. debt stands at more than $17 trillion. In reality, it is many times more. The cost of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq may be more than $6 trillion. President Barack Obama’s illegal invasion of Libya cost at least a billion dollars and left that country devastated. The costs of U.S. regime change efforts in Syria are likely thus far enormous, both in dollars and lives. That’s still a secret.

So who in his right mind would think it is a good time to start a war with Russia over Ukraine? And worse, who would commit the United States to bail out a Ukraine that will need at least $35 billion to survive the year?

Who? The President and Congress, backed by the neocons and the so-called humanitarian interventionists!

The House voted overwhelmingly last week to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine. That is just the beginning, you can be sure. But let’s be clear: This is not money for the population of that impoverished country. The Administration is sending $1 billion from U.S. taxpayers to wealthy international bankers who hold Ukrainian debt. It is an international bank bailout, not aid to Ukrainians. And despite the escalating anti-Russia rhetoric, ironically some of that money will likely go to Russia for Ukraine’s $2 billion unpaid gas bill!

So what happened in Ukraine? The U.S. government and media claim that the U.S. must save Ukrainian democracy from an invading Russian army that is threatening the country’s sovereignty. But in reality the crisis was instigated in part by U.S. meddling. Remember the intercepted telephone call in which two senior Obama Administration officials discussed plans to replace the elected government in Ukraine with U.S. puppets? That is exactly what happened. Is that not a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty? Is that what democracy is all about?

The Obama Administration’s policy toward Ukraine is hypocritical. The overthrow of the government in Kiev by violent street protests was called a triumph of democracy; but when the elected parliament in autonomous Crimea voted last week to hold a referendum to decide its future, Obama condemned it as a violation of international law. What about the principle of self-determination, which is also enshrined in international law?

I have long thought that a referendum to reorganize Ukraine into a looser confederation of regions might help reduce tensions. I still believe this could help, but it seems the U.S. government is not so enthusiastic about democracy when there is a chance for an outcome it opposes.

I strongly believe that Crimeans have every right to transfer sovereignty over their peninsula to Russia if they wish. The only question that remains is whether there will there be an honest election, and I don’t see any reason there can’t be.

The U.S. government tells the rest of the world, “We want you to be good democrats and have elections.” But if they don’t elect the right people, then we complain about it and throw them out, like we did in Egypt. In Crimea they want to have an election to determine their future. Obama condemned those plans for a vote by saying, “We are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.” Does he not remember that the authorities in Kiev were installed just weeks ago after a U.S.-backed coup against the Ukrainian constitution?

Congress will likely vote for sanctions against Russia. Though many mistakenly believe that sanctions are a relatively harmless way of forcing foreign countries to do what we say, we should be clear: sanctions are an act of war.

Cooler heads in the United States are not currently prevailing. There is a danger of an unimaginable conflict between the U.S. and Russia. We must demand a shift away from a war footing, away from incendiary rhetoric. We are broke and cannot afford to “buy” Ukraine. We certainly cannot afford another war, especially with Russia!