All I Want For Christmas Is A (Real) Government Shutdown

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The political class breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when the US 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 only closes 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 health care.

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 gift of peace, prosperity, and liberty by shutting down the welfare-warfare state.

Photo credit: Lewis Tse Pui Lung / Shutterstock.com

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

House Chooses New Cold War With Russia

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Last week, the US 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 US 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 US government imposed on Russia for much of the past year? I guess sanctions are only bad when used by countries Washington doesn’t like.

The resolution condemns Russia for selling weapons to the Assad government in Syria. But the US has been providing weapons to the rebels in Syria for several years, with many going to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS that the US 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 US, by backing a coup against the democratically elected Yanukovich government in February, that first violated that country’s sovereignty. And as far as a military presence in Ukraine, it is the US that has openly sent in special forces and other military advisors to assist the government there. How many times have top US 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 US government. But we learned from the Snowden revelations that the NSA is spying on most of the rest of the world, including our allies! How can the US 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 US 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 US 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 US 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 ten 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 ten 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!

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Liberty, Not Government, Key To Containing Ebola

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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 US troops on “humanitarian” missions.

The people of Liberia and other countries would be better off if the US 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 US 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 US 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.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Why Won’t Obama Just Leave Ukraine Alone?

Obama Phony Anger

President Obama announced last week that he was imposing yet another round of sanctions on Russia, this time targeting financial, arms, and energy sectors. The European Union, as it has done each time, quickly followed suit.

These sanctions will not produce the results Washington demands; but they will hurt the economies of the US and EU, as well as Russia.

These sanctions are, according to the Obama administration, punishment for what it claims is Russia’s role in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and for what the president claims is Russia’s continued arming of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Neither of these reasons makes much sense because neither case has been proven.

The administration began blaming Russia for the downing of the plane just hours after the crash, before an investigation had even begun. The administration claimed it had evidence of Russia’s involvement but refused to show it. Later, the Obama administration arranged a briefing by “senior intelligence officials” who told the media that “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank, and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” of who brought down the aircraft.

So Obama then claimed Russian culpability because Russia’s “support” for the separatists in east Ukraine “created the conditions” for the shoot-down of the aircraft. That is a dangerous measure of culpability considering US support for separatist groups in Syria and elsewhere.

Similarly, the US government claimed that Russia is providing weapons, including heavy weapons, to the rebels in Ukraine and shooting across the border into Ukrainian territory. It may be true; but again, the US refuses to provide any evidence (and the Russian government denies the charge.) It’s like Iraq’s WMDs all over again.

Obama has argued that the Ukrainians should solve this problem themselves; and therefore, Russia should butt out.

I agree with the president on this. Outside countries should leave Ukraine to resolve the conflict itself. However, even as the US demands that the Russians de-escalate, the United States is busy escalating!

In June, Washington sent a team of military advisors to help Ukraine fight the separatists in the eastern part of the country. Such teams of “advisors” often include special forces and are usually a slippery slope to direct US military involvement.

On Friday, President Obama requested Congressional approval to send US troops into Ukraine to train and equip its national guard. This even though in March, the president promised no US boots on the ground in Ukraine. The deployment will be funded with $19 million from a fund designated to fight global terrorism, signaling that the US considers the secessionists in Ukraine to be “terrorists.”

Are US drone strikes against these “terrorists” and the “associated forces” who support them that far off?

The US has already provided the Ukrainian military with $23 million for defense security, $5 million in body armor, $8 million to help secure Ukraine’s borders, several hundred thousand ready-to-eat meals, and an array of communications equipment. Congress is urging the president to send lethal military aid, and the administration is reportedly considering sending real-time intelligence to help target rebel positions.

But let’s not forget that this whole crisis started with the US-sponsored coup against Ukraine’s elected president back in February. The US escalates while it demands that Russia de-escalate. How about all sides de-escalate?

Even when the goals are clear, sanctions have a lousy track record. Sanctions are acts of war. These sanctions will most definitely have a negative effect on the US economy as well as the Russian economy. Why is “winning” Ukraine so important to Washington? Why are they risking a major war with Russia to deny people in Ukraine the right to self-determination? Let’s just leave Ukraine alone!

© Copyright 2014 Ron Paul, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Haven’t We Already Done Enough Damage In Iraq?

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

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

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

Unfortunately, Congress did not listen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: The U.S. Army (Flickr)

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom