Archive for October, 2011

TSA Releases VIPR Venom on Tennessee Highways

by Rep. Ron Paul, October 25, 2011

If you thought the Transportation Security Administration would limit itself to conducting unconstitutional searches at airports, think again. The agency intends to assert jurisdiction over our nation’s highways, waterways, and railroads as well. TSA launched a new campaign of random checkpoints on Tennessee highways last week, complete with a sinister military-style acronym — VIPR — as a name for the program.

As with TSA’s random searches at airports, these roadside searches are not based on any actual suspicion of criminal activity or any factual evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever by those detained. They are, in effect, completely random. So first we are told by the U.S. Supreme Court that American citizens have no 4th Amendment protections at border crossings, even when standing on U.S. soil. Now TSA takes the next logical step and simply detains and searches U.S. citizens at wholly internal checkpoints.

The slippery slope is here. When does it end? How many more infringements on our liberties, our property, and our basic human rights to travel freely will it take before people become fed up enough to demand respect from their government? When will we demand that the government heed obvious constitutional limitations and stop treating ordinary Americans as criminal suspects in the absence of probable cause?

The real tragedy occurs when Americans incrementally become accustomed to this treatment on the roads just as they have become accustomed to it in the airports. We already accept arriving at the airport two or more hours before a flight to get through security; will we soon have to build an extra two or three hours into our road trips to allow for checkpoint traffic?

Worse, some people are lulled into a false sense of security and are actually grateful for this added police presence! Should we really hail the expansion of the police state as an enhancement to safety? I submit that an attitude of acquiescence to TSA authority is thoroughly dangerous, un-American, and insulting to earlier, freedom-loving generations who built this country.

I am certain people will complain about this, once they have to sit in stopped traffic for a few extra hours to allow for random searches of cars. However, I am also certain it merely will take another “foiled” plot to silence many people into gladly accepting more government mismanagement of safety.

Vigilant, observant, law-abiding, gun-owning citizens defend themselves and stop crimes every day before police can respond. That is the source of real security in America: the 2nd Amendment right to defend oneself. The answer is for people to be empowered to protect themselves. Yet how many weapons might these checkpoints confiscate? Even when individuals go through all the legal hoops of licensing and permits, the chances of harassment or outright confiscation of weapons and detention of citizens when those weapons are found at a TSA checkpoint is extremely high.

Disarming the highways and filling them full of jack-booted thugs demanding to see our papers is no way to make them safer. Instead, it is a great way to expand government surveillance powers and tighten the noose around our liberties.

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A Dangerous Precedent

by Rep. Ron Paul, October 11, 2011

According to the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Americans are never to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The Constitution is not some aspirational statement of values, allowing exceptions when convenient; rather, it is the law of the land. It is the basis of our Republic and our principal bulwark against tyranny.

Last week’s assassination of two American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, is an outrage and a criminal act carried out by the president and his administration. If the law protecting us against government-sanctioned assassination can be voided when there is a “really bad American,” is there any meaning left to the rule of law in the United States? If, as we learned last week, a secret government committee, not subject to congressional oversight or judicial review, can now target certain Americans for assassination, under what moral authority do we presume to lecture the rest of the world about protecting human rights? Didn’t we just bomb Libya into oblivion under the auspices of protecting the civilians from being targeted by their government? Timothy McVeigh was certainly a threat, as were Nidal Hasan and Jared Lee Loughner. They killed people in front of many witnesses. They took up arms against their government in a literal way yet were still afforded trials. These constitutional protections are in place because our Founders realized it is a very serious matter to deprive any individual of life or liberty. Our outrage against even the obviously guilty is not worth the sacrifice of the rule of law. Awlaki has been outspoken against the United States, and we are told he encouraged violence against Americans. We do not know that he actually committed any acts of violence. Ironically, he was once invited to the Pentagon as part of an outreach to moderate Muslims after 9/11. As the U.S. attacks against Muslims in the Middle East and Central Asia expanded, it is said that he became more fervent and radical in his opposition to U.S. foreign policy.

Many cheer this killing because they believe that in a time of war, due process is not necessary — not even for citizens, and especially not for those overseas. However, there has been no formal declaration of war and certainly not one against Yemen. The post-9/11 authorization for force would not have covered these two Americans because no one is claiming they had any connection to that attack. Awlaki was on a kill list compiled by a secret panel within President Obama’s National Security Council and Justice Department. How many more Americans citizens are on that list? They won’t tell us. What are the criteria? They won’t tell us. Where is the evidence? They won’t tell us.

Awlaki’s father tried desperately to get the administration to at least allow his son to have legal representation to challenge the “kill” order. He was denied. Rather than give him his day in court, the administration, behind closed doors, served as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. The most worrisome aspect of this is that any new powers this administration accrues will serve as precedents for future administrations. Even those who completely trust this administration must understand that if this usurpation of power and denial of due process is allowed to stand, these powers will remain to be expanded on by the next administration and then the next. Will you trust them? History shows that once a population gives up its rights, they are not easily won back. Beware.

What is that “International Community that we keep hearing about, how it has to change regimes to protect civilians but tens or hundreds of thousands of these civilians perish in this “protection” process?

Now we know.

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

A study by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich found out that:

‘When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.’

Much of the world hails Moammar Gadhafi’s death as a triumph for the West. But the war that toppled him remains misguided and illegal.

Seven months after NATO’s misguided war in Libya began, Moammar Gadhafi has been killed. While there has not been as much celebration of this in the West as there might have been before the Iraq war, the conventional wisdom seems to be that this outcome has proved the intervention to be right because it “worked.” However, far from vindicating the decision to attack Libya, Gadhafi’s bloody end represents much of what was wrong with the intervention from the start.

Instead of protecting the population of Libya — which is what the U.N. authorized — the West’s intervention allowed the conflict to continue and consume perhaps as many as 30,000 Libyan lives, including many thousands of civilians, in addition to tens of thousands wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced. Rather than the “limited” war presented by the intervention’s defenders, it immediately expanded into a policy of regime change. The official goal of protecting civilians was subordinated very early on to the real purpose of the war — namely, the destruction of the existing government and the elimination of its leaders.

Contrary to the hope that Libya would provide a deterrent to regime violence elsewhere, the political fallout from the war has stalled any international response to Syria’s crackdown. By exceeding the U.N. mandate they received in March, the U.S. and its allies have poisoned emerging democratic powers such as India and Brazil against taking any action in other countries. Libya has confirmed every skeptic’s worst fears that in practice, the “responsibility to protect” is little more than a pretext for toppling vulnerable governments.

Equally troubling from an American perspective is the ease with which the current administration launched a war against a government that had abandoned its former hostility, renounced unconventional weapons and terrorism, and provided some degree of security cooperation to the U.S. Pariah states now have no incentive to negotiate similar deals with the U.S. and its allies, and they have clear incentives to acquire the means of deterring a future intervention. This reduces diplomatic and political options in coping with these states in the future and makes conflicts with some of them more likely.

U.S. foreign policy has already become very militarized in the last decade, and the quick resort to the use of force in this instance significantly lowers the bar to justify future military action. The sidelining of Congress and the American public on the Libya war continues an increasing and unhealthy tendency of the executive to use military force without authorization or respect for constitutional requirements. The executive now appears to be free of all constraints as to when and how to use force abroad, so long as the action can be deemed a success. And there are evidently no consequences for openly waging an illegal war.

The U.S. and our allies attacked a government that had done nothing to endanger international peace and security. It posed no threat at all to any NATO nation. No Western security interests were served by this war, and some may have been harmed as a result. Successfully deposing Gadhafi is bound to encourage future administrations to take similar risks. The U.S. and our allies may not always be so lucky in targeting such an unusually weak, isolated state.

While Gadhafi’s death will mark the end of Western military involvement in Libya, we should not assume that it means that Libya will not be wracked by violence for months or years to come. We should not forget that the worst of the post-invasion violence in Iraq came well after Saddam Hussein’s capture and execution. Just as it was Iraqi civilians who bore the brunt of the war over the last eight years, it has been and continues to be Libyan civilians who are suffering the most from prolonged conflict.

When dictatorships are violently overthrown, their successor regimes tend to devolve into some form of authoritarian government. Political culture, weak institutions, and post-conflict disorder all make it unlikely that Libya will be that much freer in the years to come than it was under Gadhafi. As in Iraq, it is questionable whether the possible gains will be worth the real losses that have already been and will continue to be suffered. As in Kosovo, which is often wrongly held up as a model of “successful” intervention, the post-war regime is liable to be criminal and corrupt. Twenty years ago, the liberation of Eritrea and Ethiopia from the brutal dictatorship of Mengistu was an inspiring story that very soon degenerated into authoritarianism and war. There is no reason to think that Libya’s story will be all that different.

Yesterday, Gadhafi was killed by joint US (Predator) and French aerial attacks. Libyan “heroes” who then found gravely injured Gadhafi beat him and kicked him until one of them shot him to the death.

Killing a POW is a war crime and those who help it are equally reponsible just as a lookout is responsible for a murder commited by those he helped. Howver, it was obvious that Western “leaders” and especially French Sarkozi did not want a trial that would have brought to light their past dealings with Gadhafi.

Gadhafi was a tyrant but he kept a peace among the so called Libyans: Hundreds of Arab, Berber, Tuareg and other tribes of a color scale from brown to black. That peace may now be over and Libya may be entering a period of terrorist attacks and interna strife.

Compared to Saddam, Gadhafi died fighting foreigners (NATO) and their local collaborators (islamic “rebels”). The images of him dying along his people will likely motivate others to avenge his death.

But it may be less about Gadhafi and more about the instability brought by the US which brought to the power small, fundamentalist tribes and helped them defeat large and less fanatical tribes. As the history teaches, majority eventually wins, but not before a sea of blood is shed.

Said Rush today: “Ron Paul has a good idea… fooling around the margins isn’t going to get it done… genuine big spending cuts are the only thing that is going to bring us back”

Cutting Federal government spending to 2006 level, cutting next year budget by $1 trillion (not per decade like other candidates but in one year), balanced budget in 3 years.

That would be the end of wars, “foreign help”, American imperialism, and government trough for rich. Can the elites allow that?

»….Ron Paul loyalists have been vindicated. After months of observations that the mainstream media was ignoring the libertarian standard-bearer, a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism shows just that: the Texas Congressman, who has consistently polled in the high single digits — Real Clear Politics’s aggregate poll currently has him at 8 percent — has received the least overall coverage of any candidate. From May 2 to October 9, Paul appeared as the “primary newsmaker in only 2% of all election stories.”

The study measured mainstream exposure by compiling a list of 52 mainstream news outlets across “newspapers, cable news, broadcast television, the 12 most popular news websites in the country, and radio news.” To register as a story about the candidate, he/she had to be the focus of at least 50 percent of the story. Interestingly, while Paul gained short shrift from the mainstream press, the blogosphere was an entirely different story, where the tone of his coverage was more favorable than for any other candidate:

Paul generated a good deal of attention on blogs, registering as the fifth most-discussed candidate with more than 89,000 opinions tracked about him.

Moreover, he and his candidacy fared better than any other candidate in the tone of that conversation. In all, 48% of the blogging conversation about Paul was positive compared with only 15% negative and 38% neutral. The next highest positive rating for any Republican was 34%, for Romney, and the next lowest negative rating was 24%, for Cain.

While complaints about a lack of media coverage are typical coming from any struggling candidate, Paul boosters, and even some independent observers, have argued that Paul’s media blackout is particularly striking considering his concrete successes on the campaign trail. By our count those successes include:

•Winning the Los Angeles Country Straw Poll last week, with more votes than Mitt Romney and Herman Cain combined.
•On October 8, winning the Values Voter straw poll in Washington, D.C.
•Raising $8.3 million in the third quarter, putting his fundraising clout way ahead of other second-tier candidates such as Herman Cain, who raised $2.8 million in the quarter, Michele Bachmann, who raised $4.1 million, and Rick Santorum, who raised less than $1 million.
•Winning the California Republican Party straw poll in September.
•Taking a close second in the Ames straw poll in Iowa in August behind Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
As The Washington Post notes. “Paul’s support has been stable at 10 percent or 11 percent of Republican and GOP-leaning independents in the three most recent Washington Post-ABC News polls.” The question is, why is that not a story for the political media?

Unemployment:
…the real U.S. unemployment rate is now 20%

Stimulus:
“But if you look at the make-up of the stimulus program,” says Mr. Zuckerman, “roughly half of it went to state and local municipalities, which is in effect to the municipal unions which are at the core of the Democratic Party.”

Health-care “reform”
“Eighty percent of the country wanted them to get costs under control, not to extend the coverage.”

The defense of Sirte and Bani Walid cannot be called anything else but heroic. Against relentless NATO bombing and katyusa/grad widespread destruction they continue resist the invaders.

On the other side, NATO wards from Misrata are plundering Sirte, taking full trucks of anything that is not tied to the ground.

In the meantime, the emergency relief fund in Libya will not help refugees from former Gadhafi bastions Sirte and Bani Walid. The head of the fund said let others help them, we have to spend the money to create a civil society in Libya. That civil society in Libya means not helping people who lost everything is obvious.

Is this the way the US wants to create a unified, harmonious, and liberal society in Libya?