Ron Paul: Education is too important not to leave to the marketplace

This week, events around the country will highlight the importance of parental control of education as part of National School Choice Week. This year’s events should attract more attention than prior years because of the growing rebellion against centralized education sparked by the federal Common Core curriculum.

The movement against Common Core has the potential to change American education. However, anti-Common Core activists must not be misled by politicians promoting “reforms” of the federal education bureaucracy or by legislation ending Common Core while leaving all other federal education programs intact. The only way to protect American children from future Common Core-like programs is to permanently padlock the Department of Education.

Federal programs providing taxpayer funds to public schools give politicians and bureaucrats leverage to impose federal mandates on schools. So as long as federal education programs exist, schoolchildren will be used as guinea pigs for federal bureaucrats who think they are capable of creating a curriculum suitable for every child in the country.

Supporters of federal education mandates say they are necessary to hold schools “accountable.” Of course schools should be accountable, but accountable to whom?

Several studies, as well as common sense, show that greater parental control of education improves education quality. In contrast, bureaucratic control of education lowers education quality. Therefore, the key to improving education is to make schools accountable to parents, not bureaucrats.

The key to restoring parental control is giving parents control of the education dollar. If parents control the education dollar, school officials will strive to meet the parents’ demand that their children receive a quality education. If the federal government controls the education dollar, schools will bow to the demands of Congress and the Department of Education.

So if Congress was serious about improving education, it would shut down the Department of Education. It would also shut down all other unconstitutional bureaucracies, end our interventionist foreign policy and reform monetary policy so parents would have the resources to provide their children with an education that fits their children’s unique needs. Federal and state lawmakers must also repeal any laws that limit the education alternatives parents can choose for their children. The greater the options parents have and the greater the amount of control they exercise over education, the stronger the education system.

These reforms would allow more parents access to education options such as private or religious schools, and also home schooling. It would also expand the already growing market in home-schooling curricula. I know a great deal about the home-schooling curriculum market, as I have my own home-schooling curriculum. The Ron Paul Curriculum provides students with a rigorous program of study in history, economics, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences. It also provides intensive writing instruction and an opportunity for students to operate their own Internet businesses. Of course, my curriculum provides students with an introduction to the ideas of liberty, including Austrian economics. However, we do not sacrifice education quality for ideological indoctrination.

It is no coincidence that as the federal role in education has increased, the quality of our education system has declined. Any “reforms” to federal education programs will not fix the fundamental flaw in the centralized model of education. The only way to improve education is to shut down the Department of Education and restore control of education to those with the greatest ability and incentive to choose the type of education that best meets the needs of American children: American parents.

For information about the Ron Paul Curriculum, go to ronpaulcurriculum.com.

Ron Paul: Audit, then end the Fed

Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, the dollar has lost more than 97 percent of its purchasing power, the U.S. economy has been subjected to a series of painful Federal Reserve-created recessions and depressions, and government has grown to dangerous levels, thanks to the Fed’s policy of monetizing the debt. Yet the Federal Reserve still operates under a congressionally created shroud of secrecy.

No wonder almost 75 percent of the American public supports legislation to audit the Federal Reserve.

The new Senate leadership has pledged to finally hold a vote on the audit bill this year; but despite overwhelming public support, passage of this legislation is by no means assured.

The reason it may be difficult to pass this bill is that the 25 percent of Americans who oppose it represent some of the most powerful interests in American politics. These interests are working behind the scenes to kill the bill or replace it with a meaningless “compromise.” This “compromise” may provide limited transparency, but it would still keep the American people from learning the full truth about the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy.

Some opponents of the bill say an audit would somehow compromise the Fed’s independence. Those who make this claim cannot point to anything in the text of the bill giving Congress any new authority over the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy. More importantly, the idea that the Federal Reserve is somehow independent of political considerations is laughable. Economists often refer to the political business cycle, where the Fed adjusts its policies to help or hurt incumbent politicians. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns exposed the truth behind the propaganda regarding Federal Reserve independence when he said, if the chairman didn’t do what the president wanted, the Federal Reserve “would lose its independence.”

Perhaps the real reason the Fed opposes an audit can be found by looking at what has been revealed about the Fed’s operations in recent years. In 2010, as part of the Dodd-Frank bill, Congress authorized a onetime audit of the Federal Reserve’s activities during the financial crisis of 2008. The audit revealed that between 2007 and 2008 the Federal Reserve lent more than $16 trillion — more than four times the annual budget of the United States — to foreign central banks and politically influential private companies.

In 2013, former Federal Reserve official Andrew Huszar publicly apologized to the American people for his role in “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time” — the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program. Can anyone doubt an audit would further confirm how the Fed acts to benefit economic elites?

Despite the improvements shown in the (government-manipulated) economic statistics, the average American has not benefited from the Fed’s quantitative easing program. The abysmal failure of quantitative easing in the U.S. may be one reason Switzerland stopped pegging the value of the Swiss franc to the euro following reports that the European Central Bank is about to launch its own quantitative easing program.

Quantitative easing is just the latest chapter in the Federal Reserve’s hundred-year history of failure. Despite this poor track record, Fed apologists still claim the American people benefit from the Federal Reserve System. But if that were the case, why wouldn’t they welcome the opportunity to let the American people know more about monetary policy? Why is the Fed acting like it has something to hide if it has nothing to fear from an audit?

The American people have suffered long enough under a monetary policy controlled by an unaccountable, secretive central bank. It is time to finally audit — and then end — the Fed.

–Ron Paul 

Ron Paul: 10 New Year’s resolutions for Congress

Since New Year’s is traditionally a time for resolutions and since the new Congress convenes this week, I thought I would suggest some New Year’s resolutions for Congress:

  1. Bring the troops home. Congress should take the first, and most important, step toward ending our hyper-interventionist foreign policy by bringing our troops home and closing all overseas military facilities. The American people can no longer afford to bear the cost of empire.
  2. Pass the Audit the Fed bill. The American people deserve to know the entire truth about how the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy benefits big-spending politicians and financial elites while harming average Americans.
  3. Repeal the PATRIOT Act and rein in the National Security Agency. It is approaching two years since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the NSA’s unconstitutional spying. Yet Congress still refuses to put a leash on the surveillance state. Congress should take the first step toward restoring respect for the 4th Amendment by allowing Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to expire.
  4. Shut down the Transportation Security Administration. Treating all American air travelers as criminal suspects and subjecting them to intrusive and humiliating searches does nothing to enhance our security. Congress should shut down TSA and return responsibility for airline security to the airlines. Private businesses can effectively protect their customers and employees if the government gets out of the way.
  5. End all corporate welfare. Federal programs that provide subsidies or other special benefits to politically connected businesses cause economic inequality, distort the market and waste taxpayer money. It also makes political and moral sense to cut welfare for the rich before cutting welfare for the poor. Congress should start dismantling the corporate welfare state by killing the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Congress should also reject legislation proposed to benefit one industry or individual, such as Sheldon Adelson’s Internet gambling ban.
  6. Repeal and replace Obamacare. Many Americans are losing their insurance while others are facing increasing healthcare costs because of Obamacare. Repealing Obamacare is only a first step. Congress should both repeal all federal policies that distort the healthcare market and restore a true free market in healthcare.
  7. End police militarization. The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August brought the issue of police militarization to the center of national debate. Congress must end all federal programs that provide military equipment to local police forces.
  8. Shut down the Department of Education. It is no coincidence that education in America has declined as federal control over education has increased. Congress should de-fund all federal education programs and return control over education to local communities and parents.
  9. Allow individuals to opt out. A positive step toward restoring a free society would be allowing individuals to opt out of Obamacare and other federal mandates. Young people should also be granted the ability to opt out of paying Social Security and Medicare taxes in exchange for agreeing to never accept Social Security and Medicare benefits.
  10. Allow state governments to opt out. If Congress lacks the votes to end the war on drugs, repeal Obamacare or roll back other unconstitutional federal programs, it should at least respect the rights of states to set their own policies in these areas. Federal prohibition of state laws nullifying Obamacare or legalizing marijuana turns the 10th Amendment upside down.

By adopting these resolutions, Congress can make 2015 the year America begins reversing the long, slow slide toward authoritarianism, empire, national bankruptcy and economic decline.

Ron Paul: The real meaning of the 1914 ‘Christmas Truce’

One hundred years ago last week, on Christmas Eve, 1914, German and British soldiers emerged from the horrors of World War I trench warfare to greet each other, exchange food and gifts, and to wish each other a Merry Christmas. What we remember now as the “Christmas Truce” began with soldiers singing Christmas carols together from in the trenches. Eventually, the two sides climbed out of the trenches and met in person. In the course of this two-day truce, which lasted until Dec. 26, 1914, the two sides also exchanged prisoners, buried their dead and even played soccer with each other.

How amazing to think that the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace could bring a brief pause in one of the most destructive wars in history. How sad that it was not to last.

The Christmas Truce showed that given the choice, people do not want to be out fighting and killing each other. It is incredibly damaging to most participants in war to face the task of killing their fellow man. That is one reason we see today an epidemic of PTSD and suicides among U.S. soldiers sent overseas on multiple deployments.

The Christmas Truce in 1914 was joyous for the soldiers, but it was dangerous for the political leadership on both sides. Such fraternization with the “enemy” could not be tolerated by the war-makers. Never again was the Christmas Truce repeated on such a scale, as the governments of both sides explicitly prohibited any repeat of such a meeting. Those who had been greeting each other had to go back to killing each other on orders from those well out of harm’s way.

As much as governments would like to stamp out such humanization of the “enemy,” it is still the case today that soldiers on the ground will meet and share thoughts with those they are meant to be killing. Earlier this month, soldiers from opposing sides of the Ukraine civil war met in eastern Ukraine to facilitate the transfer of supplies and the rotation of troops. They shook hands and wished that the war would be over. One army battalion commander was quoted as saying at the meeting, “I think it’s a war between brothers that nobody wants. The top brass should sort things out. And us? We are soldiers, we do what we’re told.”

I am sure these same sentiments exist in many of the ongoing conflicts that are pushed by the governments involved — and in many cases by third party governments seeking to benefit from the conflict.

The encouraging message we should take from the Christmas Truce of 100 years ago is that given the opportunity, most humans do not wish to kill each other. As Nazi leader Hermann Goring said during the Nuremberg war crimes trials, “naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany.” But, as he added, “the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

This is where our efforts must be focused. To oppose all war propaganda perpetrated by governments against the will of the people.

–Ron Paul

Ron Paul: Janet Yellen’s Christmas Gift to Wall Street

Last week, we learned that the key to a strong economy is not increased production, lower unemployment or a sound monetary unit. Rather, economic prosperity depends on the type of language used by the central bank in its monetary policy statements. All it took was one word in the Federal Reserve Bank’s press release — that the Fed would be “patient” in raising interest rates to normal levels — and stock markets went wild. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average had their best gains in years, with the Dow gaining nearly 800 points from Wednesday to Friday and the S&P gaining almost 100 points to close within a few points of its all-time high.

Just think of how many trillions of dollars of financial activity occurred solely because of that one new phrase in the Fed’s statement. That so much in our economy hangs on one word uttered by one institution demonstrates not only that far too much power is given to the Federal Reserve, but also how unbalanced the American economy really is.

While the real economy continues to sputter, financial markets reach record highs, thanks in no small part to the Fed’s easy money policies. After six years of zero interest rates, Wall Street has become addicted to easy money. Even the slightest mention of tightening monetary policy, and Wall Street reacts like a heroin addict forced to sober up cold turkey.

While much of the media paid attention to how long interest rates would remain at zero, what they largely ignored is that the Fed is, “maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities.” Look at the Fed’s balance sheet and you’ll see that it has purchased $25 billion in mortgage-backed securities since the end of QE3. Annualized, that is $200 billion a year. That may not be as large as QE2 or QE3, but quantitative easing, or as the Fed likes to say “accommodative monetary policy” is far from over.

What gets lost in all the reporting about stock market numbers, unemployment rate figures and other economic data is the understanding that real wealth results from production of real goods, not from the creation of money out of thin air. The Fed can rig the numbers for a while by turning the monetary spigot on full blast, but the reality is that this is only papering over severe economic problems. Six years after the crisis of 2008, the economy still has not fully recovered, and in many respects is not much better than it was at the turn of the century.

Since 2001, the United States has grown by 38 million people and the working-age population has grown by 23 million people. Yet the economy has added only 8 million jobs. Millions of Americans are still unemployed or underemployed, living from paycheck to paycheck, and having to rely on food stamps and other government aid. The Fed’s easy money has produced great profits for Wall Street, but it has not helped — and cannot help — Main Street.

An economy that holds its breath every six weeks, looking to parse every single word coming out of Fed Chairman Janet Yellen’s mouth for indications of whether to buy or sell, is an economy that is fundamentally unsound. The Fed needs to stop creating trillions of dollars out of thin air, let Wall Street take its medicine, and allow the corrections that should have taken place in 2001 and 2008 to liquidate the bad debts and malinvestments that permeate the economy. Only then will we see a real economic recovery.

–Ron Paul

All I want for Christmas is a (real) government shutdown

The political class breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when the U.S. Senate averted a government shutdown by passing the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. This year’s omnibus resembles omnibuses of Christmas past in that it was drafted in secret, was full of special interest deals and disguised spending increases, and was voted on before most members could read it.

The debate over the omnibus may have made for entertaining political theater, but the outcome was never in doubt. Most House and Senate members are so terrified of another government shutdown that they would rather vote for a 1,774-page bill they have not read than risk even a one- or two-day government shutdown.
Those who voted for the omnibus to avoid a shutdown fail to grasp that the consequences of blindly expanding government are far worse than the consequences of a temporary government shutdown. A short- or even long-term government shutdown is a small price to pay to avoid an economic calamity caused by Congress’ failure to reduce spending and debt.

The political class’ shutdown phobia is particularly puzzling because a shutdown closes only 20 percent of the federal government. As the American people learned during the government shutdown of 2013, the country can survive with 20 percent less government.

Instead of panicking over a limited shutdown, a true pro-liberty Congress would be eagerly drawing up plans to permanently close most of the federal government, staring with the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies not only degrade the average American’s standard of living, they also allow Congress to run up huge deficits. Congress should take the first step toward restoring a sound monetary policy by passing the Audit the Fed bill, so the American people can finally learn the truth about the Fed’s operations.

Second on the chopping block should be the Internal Revenue Service. The federal government is perfectly capable of performing its constitutional functions without imposing a tyrannical income tax system on the American people.

America’s militaristic foreign policy should certainly be high on the shutdown list. The troops should be brought home, all foreign aid should be ended, and America should pursue a policy of peace and free trade with all nations. Ending the foreign policy of hyper-interventionism that causes so many to resent and even hate America will increase our national security.

All programs that spy on or otherwise interfere with the private lives of American citizens should be shutdown. This means no more TSA, NSA or CIA, as well as an end to all federal programs that promote police militarization. The unconstitutional war on drugs should also end, along with the war on raw milk.

All forms of welfare should be shut down, starting with those welfare programs that benefit the wealthy and the politically well-connected. Corporate welfare, including welfare for the military-industrial complex that masquerades as “defense spending,” should be first on the chopping block. Welfare for those with lower incomes could be more slowly phased out to protect those who have become dependent on those programs.

The Department of Education should be permanently padlocked. This would free American schoolchildren from the dumbed-down education imposed by Common Core and No Child Left Behind. Of course, Obamacare, and similar programs, must be shut down so we can finally have free-market healthcare.

Congress could not have picked a worse Christmas gift for the American people than the 1,774-page omnibus spending bill. Unfortunately, we cannot return this gift. But hopefully, someday, Congress will give us the gifts of peace, prosperity and liberty by shutting down the welfare-warfare state.

–Ron Paul

Note: In case you want to do more than members of Congress and actually READ the 1774-page bill, here’s a link to different versions of H.R.83..

Ron Paul: House chooses new Cold War with Russia

Last week, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly in favor of an anti-Russia resolution so full of war propaganda that it rivals the rhetoric from the chilliest era of the Cold War. Ironically, much of the bill condemns Russia for doing exactly what the U.S. government has been doing for years in Syria and Ukraine!

For example, one of the reasons to condemn Russia in the resolution is the claim that Russia is imposing economic sanctions on Ukraine. But how many rounds of sanctions has the U.S. government imposed on Russia for much of the past year? I guess sanctions are bad only when used by countries Washington doesn’t like.

The resolution condemns Russia for selling weapons to the Bashar Assad government in Syria. But the U.S. has been providing weapons to the rebels in Syria for several years, with many going to terrorist groups like al-Qaida and ISIS, which the U.S. is currently bombing!

The resolution condemns what it claims is a Russian invasion of Ukraine (for which it offers no proof) and Russian violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. But it was the U.S., by backing a coup against the democratically elected Viktor Yanukovich government in February, that first violated that country’s sovereignty. And as far as a military presence in Ukraine, it is the U.S. that has openly sent in special forces and other military advisers to assist the government there. How many times have top U.S. military and CIA officials visited Kiev to offer advice and probably a lot more?

The resolution condemns Russia for what it claims are attempts to “illicitly acquire information” about the U.S. government. But we learned from the Edward Snowden revelations that the NSA is spying on most of the rest of the world, including our allies! How can the U.S. claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?

The resolution attacks Russian state-funded media, claiming that they “distort public opinion.” At the same time, the bill demands that the thousands of U.S. state-funded media outlets step up their programming to that part of the world! It also seeks “appropriate responses” to Russian media influence in the rest of the world. That should be understood to mean that U.S. diplomats would exert pressure on foreign countries to shut down television networks like RT.

The resolution condemns what it claims is Russia’s provision of weapons to the Russian-speaking eastern part of Ukraine, which seeks closer ties with Russia, while demanding that the U.S. government start providing weapons to its proxies on the other side.

As I have said, this is one of the worst pieces of legislation I can remember. And trust me; I have seen some pretty bad bills. It is nothing but war propaganda, and it will likely lead to all sorts of unintended consequences.

Only 10 members — five from each party — opposed this reckless resolution. Probably most of those who voted in favor did not bother to read the bill. Others who read it and still voted in favor may have calculated that the bill would not come up in the Senate. So they could vote “yes” and please the hawks in their districts — and, more importantly, remain in good graces of the hawks who run foreign policy in Washington — without having to worry about the consequences if the bill became law.

Whatever the case, we must keep an eye on those members of Congress who vote to take us closer to war with Russia. We should thank those 10 members who were able to resist the war propaganda. The hawks in Washington believe that last month’s election gave them free rein to start more wars. Now more than ever, they must be challenged!

Ron Paul: Reckless Congress declares war on Russia

This was originally posted on Facebook by Ron Paul.

Today [Thursday] the U.S. House passed what I consider to be one of the worst pieces of legislation ever. H. Res. 758 was billed as a resolution “strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.”

In fact, the bill was 16 pages of war propaganda that should have made even neocons blush, if they were capable of such a thing.

These are the kinds of resolutions I have always watched closely in Congress, as what are billed as “harmless” statements of opinion often lead to sanctions and war. I remember in 1998 arguing strongly against the Iraq Liberation Act because, as I said at the time, I knew it would lead to war. I did not oppose the Act because I was an admirer of Saddam Hussein — just as now I am not an admirer of Putin or any foreign political leader — but rather because I knew then that another war against Iraq would not solve the problems and would probably make things worse. We all know what happened next.

That is why I can hardly believe they are getting away with it again, and this time with even higher stakes: provoking a war with Russia that could result in total destruction!

If anyone thinks I am exaggerating about how bad this resolution really is, let me just offer a few examples from the legislation itself:

The resolution (paragraph 3) accuses Russia of an invasion of Ukraine and condemns Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. The statement is offered without any proof of such a thing. Surely with our sophisticated satellites that can read a license plate from space we should have video and pictures of this Russian invasion. None have been offered. As to Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, why isn’t it a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty for the US to participate in the overthrow of that country’s elected government as it did in February? We have all heard the tapes of State Department officials plotting with the US Ambassador in Ukraine to overthrow the government. We heard US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragging that the US spent $5 billion on regime change in Ukraine. Why is that OK?

The resolution (paragraph 11) accuses the people in east Ukraine of holding “fraudulent and illegal elections” in November. Why is it that every time elections do not produce the results desired by the US government they are called “illegal” and “fraudulent”? Aren’t the people of eastern Ukraine allowed self-determination? Isn’t that a basic human right?

The resolution (paragraph 13) demands a withdrawal of Russia forces from Ukraine even though the US government has provided no evidence the Russian army was ever in Ukraine. This paragraph also urges the government in Kiev to resume military operations against the eastern regions seeking independence.

The resolution (paragraph 14) states with certainty that the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 that crashed in Ukraine was brought down by a missile “fired by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.” This is simply incorrect, as the final report on the investigation of this tragedy will not even be released until next year and the preliminary report did not state that a missile brought down the plane. Neither did the preliminary report — conducted with the participation of all countries involved — assign blame to any side.

Paragraph 16 of the resolution condemns Russia for selling arms to the Assad government in Syria. It does not mention, of course, that those weapons are going to fight ISIS — which we claim is the enemy — while the US weapons supplied to the rebels in Syria have actually found their way into the hands of ISIS!

Paragraph 17 of the resolution condemns Russia for what the US claims are economic sanctions (“coercive economic measures”) against Ukraine. This even though the US has repeatedly hit Russia with economic sanctions and is considering even more!

The resolution (paragraph 22) states that Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008. This is simply untrue. Even the European Union — no friend of Russia — concluded in its investigation of the events in 2008 that it was Georgia that “started an unjustified war” against Russia not the other way around! How does Congress get away with such blatant falsehoods? Do Members not even bother to read these resolutions before voting?

In paragraph 34 the resolution begins to even become comical, condemning the Russians for what it claims are attacks on computer networks of the United States and “illicitly acquiring information” about the US government. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations about the level of US spying on the rest of the world, how can the US claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?

Chillingly, the resolution singles out Russian state-funded media outlets for attack, claiming that they “distort public opinion.” The US government, of course, spends billions of dollars worldwide to finance and sponsor media outlets including Voice of America and RFE/RL, as well as to subsidize “independent” media in countless counties overseas. How long before alternative information sources like RT are banned in the United States? This legislation brings us closer to that unhappy day when the government decides the kind of programming we can and cannot consume – and calls such a violation “freedom.”

The resolution gives the green light (paragraph 45) to Ukrainian President Poroshenko to re-start his military assault on the independence-seeking eastern provinces, urging the “disarming of separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine.” Such a move will mean many more thousands of dead civilians.

To that end, the resolution directly involves the US government in the conflict by calling on the US president to “provide the government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles, services, and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty.” This means US weapons in the hands of US-trained military forces engaged in a hot war on the border with Russia. Does that sound at all like a good idea?

There are too many more ridiculous and horrific statements in this legislation to completely discuss. Probably the single most troubling part of this resolution, however, is the statement that “military intervention” by the Russian Federation in Ukraine “poses a threat to international peace and security.” Such terminology is not an accident: this phrase is the poison pill planted in this legislation from which future, more aggressive resolutions will follow. After all, if we accept that Russia is posing a “threat” to international peace how can such a thing be ignored? These are the slippery slopes that lead to war.

This dangerous legislation passed today, December 4, with only ten (!) votes against! Only ten legislators are concerned over the use of blatant propaganda and falsehoods to push such reckless saber-rattling toward Russia.

Here are the Members who voted “NO” on this legislation. If you do not see your own Representative on this list call and ask why they are voting to bring us closer to war with Russia! If you do see your Representative on the below list, call and thank him or her for standing up to the warmongers.

Voting “NO” on H. Res. 758:

1) Justin Amash (R-MI)
2) John Duncan (R-TN)
3) Alan Grayson, (D-FL)
4) Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
5) Walter Jones (R-NC)
6) Thomas Massie (R-KY)
7) Jim McDermott (D-WA)
8 George Miller (D-CA)
9) Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
10 Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)

Ron Paul: Who wants to be defense secretary?

It seems nobody wants to be secretary of defense in the Obama administration. The president’s first two defense secretaries, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, both complained bitterly this month about their time in the administration. The president’s National Security Council staff micromanaged the Pentagon, they said at a forum last week.

Gates revealed that while he was running the Defense Department, the White House established a line of communication to the Joint Special Operations Command to discuss matters of strategy and tactics, cutting the defense secretary out of the loop. His successor at the Pentagon, Panetta, made similar complaints.

Last week, President Obama’s third secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, was forced out of office after complaining in October that the administration had no coherent policy toward Syria. He did have a point: While claiming recent U.S. bombing in Syria is designed to degrade and destroy ISIS, many in the administration continue pushing for “regime change” against Syrian President Bashar Assad — who is also fighting ISIS. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has spoken out in favor of further U.S. escalation in Syria and Iraq despite Obama’s promise of “no combat troops” back to the region.

Shortly after Hagel’s ouster, the media reported that the president favored Michele Flournoy to replace him. She would have been the first female defense secretary. But more tellingly, she would come to the position from a think tank almost entirely funded by the military industrial complex. The Center for a New American Security, which she founded in 2007, is the flagship of the neocon wing of the Democratic Party. The Center has argued against U.S. troops ever leaving Iraq and has endorsed the Bush administration’s doctrine of preventative warfare. The Center is perhaps best known for pushing the failed counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in Iraq and Afghanistan. The COIN doctrine was said at the time to have been the key to the U.S. victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that the U.S. is back in Iraq and will continue combat operations in Afghanistan next year, you don’t hear too much about COIN and victories.

Flournoy turned down Obama before she was even asked, however. She is said to be waiting for a Hillary Clinton presidency, where her militarism may be even more appreciated. With the next Senate to be led by neocons like John McCain, a Hillary Clinton presidency would find little resistance to a more militaristic foreign policy.

So Obama cannot keep defense secretaries on the job, and his top Pentagon pick is not interested in serving the last stretch of a lame-duck administration. There is bickering and fighting within the administration about who should be running the latest U.S. wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Here is one thing none of them are fighting about: the U.S. policy of global intervention. All sides agree that the U.S. needs to expand its war in the Middle East, that the U.S. must continue to provoke Russia via Ukraine and that regime change operations must continue worldwide. There is no real foreign policy debate in Washington. But the real national security crisis will come when their militarism finally cripples our economy and places us at the mercy of the rest of the world.

–Ron Paul

Ron Paul: Defeat of USA FREEDOM Act is a victory for freedom

It will not shock readers to hear that, quite often, legislation on Capitol Hill is not as advertised. When Congress wants to do something particularly objectionable, congressmen tend give it a fine-sounding name. The PATRIOT Act is perhaps the best-known example. The legislation had been drafted well before 9/11 but was going nowhere. Then the 9/11 attacks gave it a new lease on life. Politicians exploited the surge in patriotism following the attack to reintroduce the bill and call it the PATRIOT Act. To oppose it at that time was, by design, to seem unpatriotic.

At the time, 62 Democrats voted against the Act. On the Republican side there were only three “no” votes: then-Representatives Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and Butch Otter (R-Idaho) and I.

The abuses of the Constitution in the PATRIOT Act do not need to be fully recounted here, but Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both claimed authority based on it to gut the 4th Amendment. The PATRIOT Act ushered in the era of warrantless wiretapping, monitoring of our Internet behavior, watering down of probable cause, and much more. After the revelations by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, we know how the NSA viewed constitutional restraints on surveillance of American people during the PATRIOT Act period.

After several re-authorizations of the PATRIOT Act, including some cosmetic reforms, Congress last October unveiled the USA FREEDOM Act. This was advertised as the first wholesale PATRIOT Act Reform bill. In fact, the House version was watered down to the point of meaninglessness; and the Senate version was not much better. The final straw was the bill’s extension of key elements of the PATRIOT Act until 2017.

Fortunately, last week the USA FREEDOM Act was blocked from further consideration in the U.S. Senate. The procedural vote was significant and important, but it caused some confusion as well. While some well-meaning pro-privacy groups endorsed the FREEDOM Act as a first step to reform, some anti-liberty neoconservatives opposed the legislation because even its anemic reforms were unacceptable. The truth is, Americans should not accept one more extension of the PATRIOT Act and should not endorse its continued dismemberment of our constitutional liberties. If that means some Senators vote with anti-liberty colleagues to kill the extension, we should still consider it a victory.

As the PATRIOT Act first faced a sunset in 2005, I had this to say in the debate over whether it should be re-authorized:

When Congress passed the Patriot Act in the emotional aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, a sunset provision was inserted in the bill that causes certain sections to expire at the end of 2005. But this begs the question: If these provisions are critical tools in the fight against terrorism, why revoke them after five years? Conversely, if these provisions violate civil liberties, why is it acceptable to suspend the Constitution for any amount of time?

Reform is often meant to preserve, not repeal bad legislation. When the public is strongly opposed to a particular policy you will almost never hear politicians say “let’s repeal the law.” It is always a pledge to reform the policy or law. The USA FREEDOM Act was no different.

With the failure of the FREEDOM Act to move ahead in the Senate last week, several of the most egregious sections of the PATRIOT Act are set to sunset next June, absent a new authorization. Congress will no doubt be under great pressure to extend these measures. We must do our very best to make sure they are unsuccessful!

–Ron Paul

 

Ron Paul: A winner for Sheldon Adelson, a losing bet for the rest of us

Most Americans, regardless of ideology, oppose “crony capitalism” or “cronyism.” Cronyism is where politicians write laws aimed at helping their favored business beneficiaries. Despite public opposition to cronyism, politicians still seek to use the legislative process to help special interests.

For example, Congress may soon vote on legislation outlawing Internet gambling. It is an open secret, at least inside the Beltway, that this legislation is being considered as a favor to billionaire casino owner, Sheldon Adelson. Adelson, who is perhaps best known for using his enormous wealth to advance a pro-war foreign policy, is now using his political influence to turn his online competitors into criminals.

Supporters of an Internet gambling ban publicly deny they are motivated by a desire to curry favor with a wealthy donor. Instead, they give a number of high-minded reasons for wanting to ban this activity. Some claim that legalizing online gambling will enrich criminals and even terrorists. But criminalizing online casinos will not eliminate the demand for online casinos. Instead, passage of this legislation will likely guarantee that the online gambling market is controlled by criminals. Thus, it is those who support outlawing online gambling who may be aiding criminals and terrorists.

A federal online gambling ban would overturn laws in three states that allow online gambling. It would also end the ongoing debate over legalizing online gambling in many other states. Yet some have claimed that Congress must pass this law in order to protect states’ rights. Their argument is that residents of states that ban Internet gambling may easily get around those laws by accessing online casinos operating in states where online gambling is legalized.

Even if the argument had merit that allowing states to legalize online gambling undermines laws in other states, it would not justify federal legislation on the issue. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given any authority to regulate activities such as online gambling. Arguing that “states’ rights” justifies creating new federal crimes turns the 10th Amendment, which was intended to limit federal power, on its head.

Many supporters of an Internet gambling ban sincerely believe that gambling is an immoral and destructive activity that should be outlawed. However, the proposed legislation is not at all about the morality of gambling. It is about whether Americans who do gamble should have the choice to do so online, or be forced to visit brick-and-mortar casinos.

Even if there was some moral distinction between gambling online or in a physical casino, prohibiting behavior that does not involve force or fraud has no place in a free society. It is no more appropriate for gambling opponents to use force to stop people from playing poker online than it would be for me to use force to stop people from reading pro-war, neocon writers.

Giving government new powers over the Internet to prevent online gambling will inevitably threaten all of our liberties. Government bureaucrats will use this new authority to expand their surveillance of the Internet activities of Americans who have no interest in gambling, just as they used the new powers granted by the PATRIOT Act to justify mass surveillance.

The proposed ban on Internet gambling is a blatantly unconstitutional infringement on our liberties that will likely expand the surveillance state. Worst of all, it is all being done for the benefit of one powerful billionaire. Anyone who thinks banning online gambling will not diminish our freedoms while enriching criminals is making a losing bet.

What the midterm elections really mean for peace and liberty

Did the election last week really mean that much? I took to my Twitter account on Tuesday to point out that the change in control of the Senate from Democrat to Republican actually means very little, despite efforts by politicians and the mainstream media to convince us otherwise. Yes, power shifted, I wrote. But the philosophy on Capitol Hill changed very little. The warfare/welfare state is still alive and well in Washington.

Some were critical of my comment that, “Republican control of the Senate equals expanded neo-con wars in Syria and Iraq. Boots on the ground are coming!”
But, unfortunately, my fears were confirmed even sooner than I thought. Shortly after the vote, President Obama announced that he would double the number of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and request another $5.6 billion to fight his war in the Middle East.

The president also said on Wednesday that he would seek a new authorization for the use of force in Iraq and Syria. He said that a new authorization was needed to reflect “not just our strategy over the next two or three months, but our strategy going forward.”

That sounds like boots on the ground in an endless war.

Senate Democrats had been competing with Republicans over who would push a more aggressive foreign policy. This may explain their miserable showing on Tuesday: It is likely the honest, antiwar progressives just stayed home on election night. But with the Republican victory bringing to leadership the most hawkish of the neoconservatives like John McCain, the only fight over the President’s request to re-invade Iraq will be Republican demands that he send in even more soldiers and weapons!

Likewise, the incoming Republicans in the Senate have expressed a foolhardy desire to continue resurrecting the Cold War. They demand that Russia be further sanctioned even as the original reason for the sanctions — claims that Russia was behind the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 — has been shown to be false. They want to send weapons to the U.S.-backed government in Ukraine even through it will result in more civilians killed in east Ukraine. Their dangerous Russia policy may even turn the new Cold War into a hot war, which would be catastrophic.

On the domestic front, I do not hold out much hope that the next Congress will give more than lip service to reducing spending. What is more likely is Republicans will support dramatic increases in welfare spending as long warfare spending is increased by an equivalent, or greater, amount. That is what is called “compromise” in Washington.

One positive development from Tuesday is the slightly improved chance for a roll-call vote on “Audit the Fed.” Most of the Senators who are likely to assume leadership roles next year are co-sponsors of the bill. However, special interests that benefit from Fed secrecy are very influential in both parties, so it will be up to the people to continue to pressure Congress for a Senate vote.

Elsewhere, there may also be some rollbacks and reforms of some of the worst parts of Obamacare, but a full repeal of the bill is unlikely. This is not just because there are still not the votes to override an inevitable veto. The insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies that benefit from Obamacare are equally influential in both parties and have very deep pockets.

I ended my comments on election night by pointing out that while it may have been an important election, it was not most important ever. Ideas are what really count. And that is where we are winning!

Ron Paul: More guns plus less war equals real security

The recent tragic shootings in Canada and Washington state are certain to lead to new calls for gun control. The media-generated fear over “lone-wolf terrorists” will enable the gun control lobby to smear 2nd Amendment supporters as “pro-terrorist.” Marketing gun control as an anti-terrorist measure will also enable gun control supporters to ally with those who support any infringement on liberty done in the name of “homeland security.”

As with most infringements on liberty, gun control will not only make us less free, it will make us less safe. Respecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms is the original and best homeland security policy. Restricting the right of people to arm themselves leaves them with no effective defense against violent criminals or a tyrannical government.

Every year, thousands of Americans use firearms to stop violent criminals. One notable example occurred in September, when Oklahoman Mark Vaughan used a rifle to stop a knife-wielding co-worker who had already killed one person and wounded another. Unfortunately, most of the media coverage focused on speculation that the assailant was motivated by “radical Islam” rather than on Vaughan’s use of a firearm to protect innocent lives.

It is no coincidence that states that pass “concealed carry” laws experience a drop in crime. Since passing concealed carry in Texas in 1995, murder in the state has declined by 52 percent. In comparison, the national murder rate declined by only 33 percent.

Perhaps the best illustration of the dangers of gun control is that federal regulations forbid pilots from having guns in their cockpits. Ironically, this rule went into effect shortly before Sept. 11, 2001. Had pilots had the ability to carry guns on 9/11, the hijackers may well have been stopped from attacking the World Trade Center and Pentagon or persuaded to not even try.

Shortly after 9/11, I introduced legislation allowing pilots to carry firearms in the cockpits. Congress eventually passed a bill allowing pilots to carry firearms if they obtain federal certification and obey federal regulations. Aside from the philosophical objection that no one should have to ask government permission before exercising a right, the rules and expensive approval process discourage many pilots from participating in the armed pilots program.

It should not be surprising that the anti-gun Obama Administration wants to eliminate the armed pilots program. I actually agree that the program should be eliminated, so long as pilots who can legally carry a firearm in their states of residence can carry a firearm on the planes they fly. Allowing pilots to carry guns is certainly a more effective way of protecting our security than forcing all airline passengers to endure the TSA.

Both gun control and foreign interventionism disregard the wisdom of the country’s founders.

An interventionist foreign policy like gun control threatens our safety. A hyper-interventionist foreign policy invites blowback from those who resent our government meddling in their countries, while gun control leaves people defenseless against violent criminals. Returning to a foreign policy of peace and free trade and repealing all federal infringements on the 2nd Amendment will help guarantee both liberty and security.

–Ron Paul

Ron Paul: Once-peaceful Canada turns militaristic; blowback follows

In 1968, the government of Canada decided to openly admit Americans seeking to avoid being drafted into the U.S. war on Vietnam. Before, would-be immigrants were technically required to prove that they had been discharged from U.S. military service. This move made it easier for Americans to escape President Johnson’s war machine by heading north.

Although a founding member of NATO, Canada did not join the United States in its war against Vietnam. The Canadian government did not see a conflict 7,000 miles away as vital to Canada’s national interest; so Canada pursued its own foreign policy course, independent of the United States.

How the world has changed. Canada’s wise caution about military adventurism even at the height of the Cold War has given way to a Canada of the 21st century literally joined at Washington’s hip and eager to participate in any bombing mission initiated by the D.C. interventionists.

Considering Canada’s peaceful past, the interventionist Canada that has emerged at the end of the Cold War is a genuine disappointment. Who would doubt that today’s Canada would, should a draft be re-instated in the U.S., send each and every American resister back home to face prison and worse?

As Glenn Greenwald pointed out this past week, Canada has spent the past 13 years proclaiming itself a nation at war. It actively participated in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and was an enthusiastic partner in some of the most extremist war on terror abuses perpetrated by the U.S.

Canada has also enthusiastically joined President Obama’s latest war on Iraq and Syria, pledging to send fighter jets to participate in the bombing of ISIS (and likely many civilians in the process).

But Canada’s wars abroad came back home to Canada last week.

Though horrific, it should not be a complete surprise that Canada found itself hit by blowback last week, as two attacks on Canadian soil left two Canadian military members dead.

Greenwald again points out what few dare to say about the attacks: Regardless of one’s views on the justifiability of Canada’s lengthy military actions, it’s not the slightest bit surprising or difficult to understand why people who identify with those on the other end of Canadian bombs and bullets would decide to attack the military responsible for that violence.

That is the danger of intervention in other people’s wars thousands of miles away. Those at the other end of foreign bombs — and their surviving family members or anyone who sympathizes with them — have great incentive to seek revenge. This feeling should not be that difficult to understand.

Seeking to understand the motivation of a criminal does not mean that the crime is justified, however. We can still condemn and be appalled by the attacks while realizing that we need to understand the causation and motivation. This is common sense in other criminal matters, but it seems to not apply to attacks such as we saw in Canada last week. Few dare to point out the obvious: Canada’s aggressive foreign policy is creating enemies abroad that are making the country more vulnerable to attack rather than safer.

Predictably, the Canadian government is using the attacks to restrict civil liberties and expand the surveillance state. Like the USA PATRIOT Act, Canadian legislation that had been previously proposed to give the government more authority to spy on and aggressively interrogate its citizens has been given a shot in the arm by last week’s attacks.

Unfortunately, Canada has unlearned the lesson of 1968: Staying out of other people’s wars makes a country safer; following the endless war policy of its southern neighbor opens Canada up to the ugly side of blowback.

–Ron Paul

Ron Paul: National service is anti-liberty and un-American

Former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently called on the government to force young people to spend two years either “serving” in the military or performing some other type of government-directed “community service.” Neoconservative Senator John McCain has introduced legislation creating a mandatory national service program very similar to Reich’s proposal. It is not surprising that both a prominent progressive and a leading neocon would support mandatory national service, as this is an issue that has long united authoritarians on the left and right.

Proponents of national service claim that young people have a moral obligation to give something back to society. But giving the government power to decide our moral obligations is an invitation to totalitarianism.

Mandatory national service is not just anti-liberty, it is un-American. Whether or not they admit it, supporters of mandatory national service do not believe that individuals have “inalienable rights.” Instead, they believe that rights are gifts from the government and that, since government is the source of our rights, government can abridge or even take away those rights whenever Congress decides.

Mandatory national service also undermines private charitable institutions. In a free society, many people will give their time or money to service projects to help better their communities, working with religious or civic associations. But in a society with government-enforced national service, these associations are likely to become more reliant on government-supplied forced labor. They will then begin to tailor their programs to satisfy the demands of government bureaucrats instead of the needs of the community.

The very worst form of national service is, of course, the military draft, which forces young people to kill or be killed on government orders. The draft lowers the cost of an interventionist foreign policy because government need not compete with private employers for recruits. Anyone who refuses a draft notice runs the risk of being jailed, so government can provide lower pay and benefits to draftees than to volunteers.

As the burden of our hyper-interventionist foreign policy increases, it is increasingly likely that there will be serious attempts to reinstate the military draft. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, continues to suggest that U.S. troops on the ground may be needed to fight “Operation Inherent Resolve” in Iraq and Syria. A major escalation requiring a large U.S. troop deployment will likely add pressure to consider a military draft.

The only real way the American people can protect their children from the military draft is to demand an end to the foreign policy that sees the U.S. military as the solution to any and every problem — from ISIS to Ebola — anywhere in the world.

Some who share my opposition to a militaristic foreign policy support the draft because they think a draft will increase public opposition to war. However, the existence of a draft did not stop the American government from launching unconstitutional wars in Vietnam and Korea. While the draft did play a role in mobilizing political opposition to Vietnam, it took almost a decade and the death of thousands of American draftees for that opposition to reach critical mass.

It is baffling that conservatives who (properly) oppose raising taxes would support any form of national service, including the military draft. It is similarly baffling that liberals who oppose government interference with our personal lives would support mandatory national service. Mandatory national service is a totalitarian policy that should be rejected by all who value liberty.

Ron Paul: Liberty can contain Ebola better than more government

According to Forbes magazine, at least 5,000 Americans contacted healthcare providers fearful they had contracted Ebola after the media reported that someone with Ebola had entered the United States. All 5,000 cases turned out to be false alarms. In fact, despite all the hype about Ebola generated by the media and government officials, as of this writing there has only been one preliminarily identified case of someone contracting Ebola within the United States.

Ebola is a dangerous disease, but it is very difficult to contract. Ebola spreads via direct contact with the virus. This usually occurs though contact with bodily fluids. While the Ebola virus may remain on dry surfaces for several hours, it can be destroyed by common disinfectants. So common-sense precautions should be able to prevent Ebola from spreading.

It is no coincidence that many of those countries suffering from mass Ebola outbreaks have also suffered from the plagues of dictatorship and war. The devastation wrought by years of war has made it impossible for these countries to develop modern healthcare infrastructure. For example, the 14-year civil war in Liberia left that country with almost no trained doctors. Those who could leave the war-torn country were quick to depart. Sadly, American foreign aid props up dictators and encourages militarism in these countries.

President Obama’s response to the Ebola crisis has been to send 3,000 troops to West African countries to help with treatment and containment. Obama did not bother to seek congressional authorization for this overseas military deployment. Nor did he bother to tell the American people how long the mission would last, how much it would cost, or what section of the Constitution authorizes him to send U.S. troops on “humanitarian” missions.

The people of Liberia and other countries would be better off if the U.S. government left them alone. Leave it to private citizens to invest in African business and trade with the African people. Private investment and trade would help these countries develop thriving free-market economies capable of sustaining a modern healthcare infrastructure.

Legitimate concerns about protecting airline passengers from those with Ebola or other infectious diseases can best be addressed by returning responsibility for passenger safety to the airlines. After all, private airlines have a greater incentive than does government to protect their passengers from contagious diseases. They can do so while providing a safe means of travel for those seeking medical treatment in the United States. This would remove the incentive to lie about exposure to the virus among those seeking to come here for treatment.

Ebola patients in the U.S. have received permission from the Food and Drug Administration to use “unapproved” drugs. This is a positive development. But why should those suffering from potentially lethal diseases have to seek special permission from federal bureaucrats to use treatments their physicians think might help? And does anyone doubt that the FDA’s cumbersome approval process has slowed down the development of treatments for Ebola?

Firestone Tire and Rubber Company has successfully contained the spread of Ebola among 80,000 people living in Harbel, the Liberian town housing employees of Firestone’s Liberian plant and their families. In March, after the wife of a Firestone employee developed Ebola symptoms, Firestone constructed its own treatment center and implemented a program of quarantine and treatment. Firestone has successfully kept the Ebola virus from spreading among its employees. As of this writing, there are only three Ebola patients at Firestone’s treatment facility.

Firestone’s success in containing Ebola shows that, far from justifying new state action, the Ebola crises demonstrates that individuals acting in the free market can do a better job of containing Ebola than can governments. The Ebola crisis is also another example of how U.S. foreign aid harms the very people we are claiming to help. Limiting government at home and abroad is the best way to protect health and freedom.

Ron Paul: The real status of forces in Afghanistan and Iraq

After 13 years of war in Afghanistan — the longest in U.S. history — the U.S. government has achieved no victory. Afghanistan is in chaos and would collapse completely without regular infusions of U.S. money. The war has been a failure, but Washington will not admit it.

More than 2,000 U.S. fighters have been killed in the 13-year Afghan war. More than 20,000 Afghan civilians were also killed. According to a study last year by a Harvard University researcher, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost in total between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. There is no way of looking at the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and seeing a success.

So in light of this failure, what does the Obama administration do? Do they admit the mistake? Do they pull the remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and try to avoid making matters even worse? No! As with all U.S. government programs, if the desired result is not achieved they just pump in more resources and continue with the same policies. The past 13 years have been an utter failure, so this past week the U.S. government signed on for 10 more years of war!

U.S. troops were legally required to be out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, according to a status of forces agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan. The U.S. was unsuccessful in negotiating a new status of forces agreement with outgoing president Hamid Karzai. The Afghan leader had grown critical of the U.S. military presence — which has actually increased under President Obama. So the U.S. needed a new puppet in government.

As international correspondent Eric Margolis pointed out recently, the elections in Afghanistan earlier this year were a farce. The candidates were hand-picked by the U.S. government. Furthermore, wrote Margolis, “[t]he largest, most popular party in Afghanistan, Taliban…[has] been excluded as ‘terrorists’ from the current and past elections.”

But they got their new status of forces agreement. U.S. troops will remain through 2024.

The United States’ war on Iraq has also been a failure. The neocons want to blame the current disintegration of Iraq on President Obama for pulling U.S. troops out. This is historical revisionism at its worst. The real blame goes to those who put the troops in in the first place.

In fact, Obama didn’t even want to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. He had tried to renegotiate a new status of forces agreement with the Maliki government in Iraq, but Maliki hesitated to extend immunity from prosecution to the remaining U.S. troops. The U.S. responded by turning on Maliki, eventually demanding that he step down even though he had been elected.

Maintaining U.S. troops in Iraq would not have prevented the current unrest there for the simple reason that it was the presence of U.S. troops in the first place that caused the unrest. It was the U.S. invasion that led to the emergence of al-Qaida in Iraq and other extremist Islamist groups. This should not have been a surprise to war planners: Saddam Hussein had been using brutal means to keep these groups at bay for decades. The same is true with Afghanistan.

The Taliban government of 2001 in Afghanistan did not attack the United States. Al-Qaida did. But the 2003 U.S. attack on Iraq under false pretenses removed a leader who had fought ruthlessly against al-Qaida and other radical Islamist fighters. The result was that the al-Qaida we were supposed to be fighting in Afghanistan flourished in post-invasion Iraq, along with other even more brutal groups. Will our government ever learn that invasion and occupation are not the solution, but rather the problem? No new status of forces agreement can change that basic fact.

Ron Paul: Scottish independence vote gives reason for hope

Even though it ultimately failed at the ballot box, the recent campaign for Scottish independence should cheer supporters of the numerous secession movements springing up around the globe.

In the weeks leading up to the referendum, it appeared that the people of Scotland were poised to vote to secede from the United Kingdom. Defeating the referendum required British political elites to co-opt secession forces by promising greater self-rule for Scotland, as well as launching a massive campaign to convince the Scots that secession would plunge them into economic depression.

The people of Scotland were even warned that secession would damage the international market for one of Scotland’s main exports, whiskey. Considering the lengths to which opponents went to discredit secession, it is amazing that almost 45 percent of the Scottish people still voted in favor of it.

The Scottish referendum result has done little to discourage other secessionist movements spreading across Europe, in countries ranging from Norway to Italy. Just days after the Scottish referendum, the people of Catalonia voted to hold their own referendum measuring popular support for secession from Spain.

Support for secession is also growing in America. According to a recent poll, one in four Americans would support their state seceding from the federal government. Movements and organizations advocating that state governments secede from the federal government, that local governments secede from state governments, or that local governments secede from both the federal and state governments, are springing up around the country. This year, over one million Californians signed a ballot access petition in support of splitting California into six states. While the proposal did not meet the requirements necessary to appear on the ballot, the effort to split California continues to gain support.

Americans who embrace secession are acting in a grand American tradition. The Declaration of Independence was written to justify secession from Britain. Supporters of liberty should cheer the growth in support for secession, as it is the ultimate rejection of centralized government and the ideologies of Keynesianism, welfarism, and militarism.

Widespread acceptance of the principle of peaceful secession and self-determination could resolve many ongoing conflicts. For instance, allowing the people of eastern Ukraine and western Ukraine to decide for themselves whether to spilt into two separate nations may be the only way to resolve their differences.

The possibility that people will break away from an oppressive government is one of the most effective checks on the growth of government. It is no coincidence that the transformation of America from a limited republic to a monolithic welfare-warfare state coincided with the discrediting of secession as an appropriate response to excessive government.

Devolving government into smaller units promotes economic growth. The smaller the size of government, the less power it has to hobble free enterprise with taxes and regulations.

Just because people do not wish to live under the same government does not mean they are unwilling or unable to engage in mutually beneficial trade. By eliminating political conflicts, secession could actually make people more interested in trading with each other. Decentralizing government power would thus promote true free trade as opposed to “managed trade” controlled by bureaucrats, politicians, and special interests.

Devolution of power to smaller levels of government should also make it easier for individuals to use a currency of their choice, instead of a currency favored by central bankers and politicians.

The growth of support for secession should cheer all supporters of freedom, as devolving power to smaller units of government is one of the best ways to guarantee peace, property, liberty — and even cheap whiskey!

Straight Talk: Congress votes for more war in the Middle East

Ron Paul’s weekly column is originally published each Monday by the Ron Paul Institute.

Last week, the House and Senate voted to rubber stamp President Obama’s war plans for the Middle East. Both bodies, on a bipartisan basis, authorized the U.S. to begin openly training and arming the rebels who have been fighting for three years to overthrow the Assad government in Syria.

Although the Syrian government has also been fighting ISIS and related extremist groups for three years, the U.S. refuses to speak to the Syrians and has warned Assad not to interfere with the coming U.S. attack on sovereign Syrian territory

President Obama promised that airstrikes alone would “degrade and destroy” ISIS, telling the U.S. military in a speech last week that:

“The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission… I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”

But of course any U.S. troops sent into a war zone are “combat” troops. And more are on their way.

While the president was swearing that there would be no boots on the ground, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, was in open disagreement. Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that U.S. forces would need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops in combat situations under certain circumstances.

The limited mission the president promised just weeks ago has already greatly escalated and now threatens to become another major regional war. In reality, however, this is just a continuation of the 24-year U.S. war on Iraq that President George Bush began in 1990 and candidate Obama promised to end as President.

Under last week’s authorization bill, the president would have authority to train 5,000 fighters in Saudi Arabia for insertion into the civil war in Syria. This is in effect a rearrangement of the deck chairs. To this point, the training was carried out by the CIA in Jordan and Turkey. Now, the program will be moved to the Pentagon and to Saudi Arabia.

The CIA training of the rebels thus far has resulted in a direct pipeline of weapons from “vetted moderates” to the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front and to the very ISIS that the administration claims to be fighting. In July, a full brigade of 1,000 fighters from a U.S.-backed rebel group joined ISIS! Of course, they took their U.S.-provided weapons and training with them, some of which will certainly be used against the rapidly increasing U.S. military personnel in the region.

That Saudi Arabia is considered a suitable place to train Syria’s future leaders must be some kind of sick joke. While ISIS was beheading two American journalists — as horrific as that is — the repressive Saudi theocracy was beheading dozens of its own citizens, often for relatively minor or religious crimes.

If we want to stop radical terrorists from operating in Syria and Iraq, how about telling our ally Saudi Arabia to stop funding and training them? For that matter, how about the U.S. government stops arming and training the various rebel groups in Syria and finally ends its 24-year U.S. war on Iraq.

There are 200 million people bordering the countries where ISIS is currently operating. They are the ones facing the threat of ISIS activity and expansion. Let them fight their own war, rather than turning the U.S. military into the mercenary army of wealthy Gulf states. Remember, they come over here because we are over there. So let’s not be over there any longer.

Will The Swiss Vote To Get Their Gold Back?

On Nov. 30, voters in Switzerland will head to the polls to vote in a referendum on gold. On the ballot is a measure to prohibit the Swiss National Bank (SNB) from further gold sales, to repatriate Swiss-owned gold to Switzerland, and to mandate that gold make up at least 20 percent of the SNB’s assets. Arising from popular sentiment similar to movements in the United States, Germany and the Netherlands, this referendum is an attempt to bring more oversight and accountability to the SNB, Switzerland’s central bank.

The Swiss referendum is driven by an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the conduct not only of Swiss monetary policy, but also of Swiss banking policy. Switzerland may be a small nation, but it is a nation proud of its independence and its history of standing up to tyranny. The famous legend of William Tell embodies the essence of the Swiss national character. But no tyrannical regime in history has bullied Switzerland as much as the United States government has in recent years.

The Swiss tradition of bank secrecy is legendary. The reality, however, is that Swiss bank secrecy is dead. Countries such as the United States have been unwilling to keep government spending in check, but they are running out of ways to fund that spending. Further taxation of their populations is politically difficult, massive issuance of government debt has saturated bond markets, and so the easy target is smaller countries such as Switzerland which have gained the reputation of being “tax havens.” Remember that “tax haven” is just a term for a country that allows people to keep more of their own money than the U.S. or the EU does, and doesn’t attempt to plunder either its citizens or its foreign account-holders. But the past several years have seen a concerted attempt by the U.S. and the EU to crack down on these smaller countries, using their enormous financial clout to compel them to hand over account details so that they can extract more tax revenue.

The U.S. has used its court system to extort money from Switzerland, fining the U.S. subsidiaries of Swiss banks for allegedly sheltering U.S. taxpayers and allowing them to keep their accounts and earnings hidden from U.S. tax authorities. EU countries such as Germany have even gone so far as to purchase account information stolen from Swiss banks by unscrupulous bank employees. And with the recent implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Swiss banks will now be forced to divulge to the IRS all the information they have about customers liable to pay U.S. taxes.

On the monetary policy front, the SNB sold about 60 percent of Switzerland’s gold reserves during the 2000s. The SNB has also in recent years established a currency peg, with 1.2 Swiss francs equal to one euro. The peg’s effects have already manifested themselves in the form of a growing real estate bubble, as housing prices have risen dangerously. Given the action by the European Central Bank (ECB) to engage in further quantitative easing, the SNB’s continuance of this dangerous and foolhardy policy means that it will continue tying its monetary policy to that of the EU and be forced to import more inflation into Switzerland.

Just like the U.S. and the EU, Switzerland at the federal level is ruled by a group of elites who are more concerned with their own status, well-being and international reputation than with the good of the country. The gold referendum, if it is successful, will be a slap in the face to those elites. The Swiss people appreciate the work their forefathers put into building up large gold reserves, a respected currency, and a strong, independent banking system. They do not want to see centuries of struggle squandered by a central bank. The results of the November referendum may be a bellwether, indicating just how strong popular movements can be in establishing central bank accountability and returning gold to a monetary role.

Ron Paul: Nixonian Abuse Of Power Is Now The Presidential Norm

Forty years ago many Americans celebrated the demise of the imperial presidency with the resignation of Richard Nixon. Today it is clear they celebrated too soon. Nixon’s view of presidential powers, summed up in his infamous statement that, “when the president does it that means it is not illegal,” is embraced by the majority of the political class. In fact, the last two presidents have abused their power in ways that would have made Nixon blush.

For example, Nixon’s abuse of the Internal Revenue Service to persecute his political opponents was the subject of one of the articles of impeachment passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. As bad as Nixon’s abuse of the IRS was, he was hardly the first president to use the IRS this way, and the present administration seems to be continuing this tradition. The targeting of Tea Party groups has received the most attention, but it is not the only instance of the IRS harassing President Barack Obama’s political opponents. For example, the IRS has demanded that one of my organizations, Campaign for Liberty, hand over information regarding its major donors.

Nixon’s abuse of federal power to spy on his “enemies” was abhorrent, but Nixon’s abuses of civil liberties pale in comparison to those of his successors. Today literally anyone in the world can be spied on, indefinitely detained, or placed on a presidential “kill list” based on nothing more than a presidential order. For all his faults, Nixon never tried to claim the power to unilaterally order anyone in the world detained or killed.

Many today act as apologists for the imperial presidency. One reason for this is that many politicians place partisan concerns above loyalty to the Constitution. Thus, they openly defend, and even celebrate, executive branch power grabs when made by a president of their own party.

Another reason is the bipartisan consensus in support of the warfare state. Many politicians and intellectuals in both parties support an imperial presidency because they recognize that the Founders’ vision of a limited executive branch is incompatible with an aggressive foreign policy. When Republicans are in power “neoconservatives” take the lead, while when Democrats are in power “humanitarian interventionists” take the lead. Regardless of party or ideological label, they share the same goal — to protect the executive branch from being constrained by the constitutional requirement that the president seek congressional approval before waging war.

The strength of the bipartisan consensus that the president should have limitless discretion in committing troops to war is illustrated by the failure of an attempt to add an article dealing with Nixon’s “secret bombing” of Cambodia to the articles of impeachment. Even at the low point of support for the imperial presidency, Congress still refused to rein in the president’s war-making powers.

The failure to include the Cambodia invasion in the articles of impeachment may well be the main reason Watergate had little to do with reining in the imperial presidency. Because the imperial presidency is rooted in the war power, attempts to rein in the imperial presidency that do not work to restore Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war are doomed to fail.

Repealing Nixon’s legacy requires building a new bipartisan coalition in favor of peace and civil liberties, rejecting what writer Gene Healy calls “the cult of the presidency,” and placing loyalty to the Constitution above partisanship. An important step must be restoring congressional supremacy in matters of war and peace.

Ron Paul: Obama Has No Middle East Strategy? Good!

Last week, President Obama admitted that his administration has not worked out a strategy on how to deal with the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a dominant force in the Middle East. However, as ISIS continues its march through Syria and Iraq, many in the US administration believe it is, in the words of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a threat “beyond anything we have ever seen.”

Predictably, the neocons attacked the president’s speech. They believe the solution to any problem is more bombs and troops on the ground, so they cannot understand the president’s hesitation.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon made it clear that fighting ISIS is going to cost a lot more money and will bring U.S. forces back to Iraq for the third time. The post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan peace dividend disintegrates.

McKeon said last week: “ISIS is an urgent threat and a minimalist approach, that depends solely on FY15 funding or pinprick strikes that leave fragile forces in Iraq and Syria to do the hard fighting, is insufficient to protect our interests and guarantee our safety in time.”

What does this mean in practice? If the neocons have their way, the Federal Reserve will “print” more money to finance another massive U.S. intervention in the Middle East. In reality this means further devaluation of the U.S. dollar, which is a tax on all Americans that will hit the poorest hardest.

A new U.S. military incursion will not end ISIS; it will provide them with the recruiting tool they most crave, while draining the U.S. Treasury. Just what Osama bin Laden wanted!

McKeon and the other hawks act as if they had only recently become aware of the ISIS. Or if they noticed it, they pretend U.S. policy had nothing to do with its rise.

McKeon also said last week, “… the ISIS threat was allowed to build and fester over a period of time.”

In fact, U.S. regime change policy in Syria was directly responsible for the rise of ISIS over these past three years. As journalist Eric Margolis observed recently, the emergence of ISIS is the “mother of all blowback.” The neocons who want us to get tougher on ISIS, including a U.S. attack on Syria, are the same ones who not long ago demanded that we support groups like ISIS to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. U.S.-trained and funded “moderates” from the Free Syrian Army joined the Islamist militias, including ISIS, taking U.S. weapons and training with them.

Three years of supporting any force that might overthrow the secular government of President Bashar Assad has produced a new monster in the Middle East that neocons insist the U.S. must slay.

Why can’t they just admit they were wrong? Why can’t the interventionists just admit that their support for regime change in Syria was a terrible and tragic mistake?

If ISIS is as big a threat as they claim, why can’t they simply ask Assad to help out? Assad has never threatened the United States; ISIS has. Assad has been fighting ISIS and similar Islamist extremist groups for three years.

Why does the U.S. government insist on aligning with theocracies in the Middle East? If there is anything that contradicts the U.S. Constitution and American values, it is a theocratic government. I do not believe that a majority in the Middle East wants to live under such a system, so why do we keep pushing it on them? Is that what they call promoting democracy?

A lack of strategy is a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the president will finally stop listening to the neocons and interventionists whose recommendations have gotten us into this mess in the first place! Here’s a strategy: Just come home.