Homeland Stupidity http://www.homelandstupidity.us Government is stupid. Discover a better way to organize society. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 02:34:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Debt Ceiling Deal: DC Wins, Americans Lose http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/10/21/debt-ceiling-deal-dc-wins-americans-lose/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/10/21/debt-ceiling-deal-dc-wins-americans-lose/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 18:22:55 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=929 Washington, DC, Wall Street, and central bankers around the world rejoiced this week as Congress came to an agreement to end the government shutdown and lift the debt ceiling. The latest spending-and-debt deal was negotiated by Congressional leaders behind closed doors, and was rushed through Congress before most members had time to read it. Now that the bill is passed, we can see that it is a victory for the political class and special interests, but a defeat for the American people.

The debt ceiling deal increases spending above the levels set by the “sequester.” The sequester cuts were minuscule, and in many cases used the old DC trick of calling reductions in planned spending increases a cut. But even minuscule and phony cuts are unacceptable to the bipartisan welfare-warfare spending collation. The bill also does nothing to protect the American people from the Obamacare disaster.

As is common in bills drafted in secret and rushed into law, this bill contains special deals for certain powerful politicians. The bill even has a provision authorizing continued military aid to opponents of the Ugandan “Lord’s Resistance Army,” which was the subject of the widely-viewed “Kony 2012″ YouTube videos. Most of these unrelated provisions did not come to public attention until after the bill was passed and signed into law.

Members of Congress and the public were told the debt ceiling increase was necessary to prevent a government default and an economic crisis. This manufactured fear supposedly justified voting on legislation without allowing members time to even read it, much less to remove the special deals or even debate the wisdom of intervening in overseas military conflicts because of a YouTube video.

Congress should have ignored the hysterics. A failure to increase government’s borrowing authority would not lead to a default any more that an individual’s failure to get a credit card limit increase in would mean they would have to declare bankruptcy. Instead, the failure of either an individual or a government to obtain new borrowing authority would force the individual or the government to live within their means, and may even force them to finally reduce their spending. Most people would say it is irresponsible to give a spendthrift, debt-ridden individual a credit increase. Why then is it responsible to give an irresponsible spendthrift government an increase in borrowing authority?

Congress surrendered more power to the president in this bill. Instead of setting a new debt ceiling, it simply “suspended” the debt ceiling until February. This gives the administration a blank check to run up as much debt as it pleases from now until February 7th. Congress can “disapprove” the debt ceiling suspension, but only if it passes a resolution of disapproval by a two-thirds majority. How long before Congress totally abdicates its constitutional authority over spending by allowing the Treasury permanent and unlimited authority to borrow money without seeking Congressional approval?

Instead of seriously addressing the spending crisis, most in Congress would rather engage in last-minute brinksmanship and backroom deals instead of taking the necessary action to rein in spending. Congress will only take serious steps to reduce spending when either a critical mass of Americans pressures it to cut spending, or when investors and foreign countries stop buying US government debt. Hopefully, those of us who understand sound economics can convince enough of our fellow citizens to pressure Congress to make serious spending cuts before Congress’s reckless actions cause a total economic collapse.

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An Opening to Iran? http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/10/06/an-opening-to-iran/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/10/06/an-opening-to-iran/#comments Mon, 07 Oct 2013 02:27:52 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=925 Last week, for the first time since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the US president spoke with his Iranian counterpart. Their 15 minute telephone call was reported to open the door to further high-level discussions. This is a very important event.

I have been saying for years that we should just talk to the Iranians. After all, we talked to the Soviets when they actually had thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at us! The Iranians have none, according to our own intelligence services. I even suggested a few years ago that we should “offer friendship” to them. Unfortunately, so many so-called experts have a stake in keeping tensions high and pushing us to war. They did not want to hear what I was saying. It seems, though, this is beginning to change now with these recent events.

The phone call was one of the most important moves away from war and conflict in a long time. Taken with the Obama administration’s decision to hold off on bombing Syria, we should be encouraged.

It is also probably a good sign that this phone call has infuriated the neoconservatives at home, the pro-war faction in Israel, and the hard-liners in Iran. Now that a process of negotiation has begun, the chance of war has been significantly reduced. The US is very unlikely to bomb Iran while it is talking with them, and Israel is also unlikely to start a war while the US is at the negotiating table with the Iranian leadership.

But we should also remain very cautious. Obama’s war on Syria was only stopped because the American people finally stood up and said “enough.” The message was received loud and clear and it shocked the neocons pushing war. They were used to being in charge of foreign policy.

In a recent CNN poll, more than 75% of Americans favored negotiations with Iran. This is very good news, but those pushing for war will not give up that easily. Believe it or not, some Members of Congress have recently introduced legislation to authorize war on Iran — even as these first steps toward a peaceful resolution of our differences begin to bear fruit!

So no, they will not give up that easily. There are many in the president’s own Cabinet who do not want to see US/Iranian relations improve. Even the president himself seems unable to avoid provocative statements — such as his claim that the Iranians are only willing to talk because the sanctions have been so successful in bringing them to the table. That is a false and unnecessary boast, and if he continues in such a way he will destroy what progress has been made.

But we are in the majority now. There are more than three-quarters of us who do not want war on Iran. It is essential that we keep the pressure on the Administration to ignore the war demands in both political parties and among the so-called foreign policy experts. There will be much more war propaganda coming our way as the warmongers get more desperate. Americans must see this propaganda for what it is. They should educate themselves and become familiar with alternative news sources to gain the tools to counter the propaganda. We do have a better chance at peace, but this is no time to let down our guard!

Copyright © 2013, Ron Paul. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted provided full credit is given and a live link provided.

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A Grand Bargain for Liberty? http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/09/29/a-grand-bargain-for-liberty/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/09/29/a-grand-bargain-for-liberty/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 00:28:21 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=920 As I write this, it appears that the federal government is about to shut down because the House and Senate cannot agree on whether to add language defunding or delaying Obamacare to the “Continuing Resolution.” Despite all the hand-wringing heard in DC, a short-term government shut down (which doesn’t actually shut down the government) will not cause the country to collapse.

And the American people would benefit if Obamacare was defeated or even delayed.

Obamacare saddles the American health care system with new spending and mandates which will raise the price and lower the quality of health care. Denying funds to this program may give Congress time to replace this bill with free-market reforms that put patients and physicians back in charge of health care. Defunding the bill before it becomes implemented can spare the American people from falling under the worst effects of this law.

As heartened as we should be by the fight against Obamacare, we should be equally disheartened by the fact that so few in DC are talking about making real cuts in federal spending. Even fewer are talking about reductions in the most logical place to reduce spending: the military-industrial complex. The US military budget constitutes almost 50 percent of the total worldwide military spending. Yet to listen to some in Congress, one would think that America was one canceled multi-million dollar helicopter contract away from being left totally defenseless.

What makes this military spending impossible to justify is that is does not benefit the American people. Instead, by fomenting resentment and hatred among the world population, our costly interventionist foreign policy makes our people less safe. Thus, reducing spending on militarism would not only help balance the budget, but would enhance our security.

Yet both the House and the Senate continuing resolutions not only fail to reduce military spending, they actually authorize $20 billion more in military spending than authorized by the “sequestration” created by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Most of the supposedly “draconian” sequestration cuts are not even cuts; instead, they are “reductions in the planned rate of spending.” This is where Congress increases spending but by less than originally planned—and yet they claim to cut spending.

Under sequestration, military spending increases by 18 percent instead of by 20 percent over the next ten years. Yet some so-called conservatives are so opposed to these phony cuts in military spending that they would support increased taxes and increased welfare “military” spending. This “grand bargain” would benefit the DC political class and the special interests, but it would be a disaster for the American people.

Instead of grand bargains of increased spending and taxes, those of us who support limited government and free markets should form a coalition with antiwar liberals to reduce spending on both the military industrial complex and domestic welfare programs. Instead of raising taxes on “the rich” we should also work to reduce all corporate subsidies. This “grand bargain” would truly be a win-win for the American people.

Sadly, even if a congressional coalition to cut both warfare and welfare spending was formed, it would be unlikely to carry the day as long as the Federal Reserve is willing to enable Congress’s debt addiction by monetizing the debt. But this cannot last forever. At some point the Fed’s policies will result in hyperinflation and an economic crisis that will force Congress to reduce spending. Hopefully, the growing number of Americans who are awaking to the dangers of our current path can convince Congress to reduce overseas militarism and begin an orderly drawdown of the welfare state before this crisis occurs.

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Has The Tide Turned Against the Warmongers? http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/09/16/has-the-tide-turned-against-the-warmongers/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/09/16/has-the-tide-turned-against-the-warmongers/#comments Mon, 16 Sep 2013 06:06:34 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=913 Will the history books record these past couple of weeks as the point when the tide finally turned against our interventionist foreign policy?

We began September with the Obama administration on the verge of launching Tomahawk missiles at Syria. The missiles were needed, the administration claimed, to punish the Syrian government for using poison gas on its own people. There were reports that in addition to missiles, the administration was planning air strikes and possibly even more military action against Syria. The talks of a punishing “shot across the bow” to send a message to the Syrian government also escalated, as some discussed the need to degrade the Syrian military to help change the regime. They refused to rule out a US ground invasion of Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry even invoked an old bogeyman that had worked so many times before. Assad was another Hitler, we were told, and failure to attack would equate to another Neville Chamberlain-like appeasement.

The administration released its evidence to back up the claim that the Syrian government was behind the gassing, and the president asked Congress to authorize him to use force against Syria. Polls showed that the American people had very little interest in getting involved in another war in the Middle East, and as the administration presented no solid evidence for its claim, public support eroded further. The media, as usual, was pushing war propaganda.

Then something incredible happened. It started in the British parliament, with a vote against participating in a US-led attack on Syria. The UK had always reliably backed the US when it came to war overseas, and the vote was a shock. Though the House and Senate leadership lined up behind the president’s decision to attack Syria, the people did not. Support among the rank and file members of the Senate and House began to evaporate, as thousands of Americans contacted their representatives to express outrage over the president’s plan. The vote looked to be lost in the House and uncertain in the Senate. Then even Senators began to feel the anger of the American people, and it looked like a devastating and historic loss for the president was coming.

The administration and its pro-war allies could not bear to lose a vote in Congress that would have likely shut the door completely on a US attack, so they called off the vote. At least for now. It would have been far better to have had the president’s request for war authorization debated and voted down in the House and Senate, but even without a no vote it is clear that a major shift has taken place. A Russian proposal to secure and dismantle the Syrian government’s chemical weapons was inspired, it seems, by John Kerry’s accidental suggestion that such a move could avert a US strike. Though the details have yet to be fully worked out, it seems the Russia plan, agreed to by the Syrian government, gives us hope that a US attack will be avoided.

The American people have spoken out against war. Many more are now asking what I have been asking for quite some time: why is it always our business when there is civil strife somewhere overseas? Why do we always have to be the ones to solve the world’s problems? It is a sea change and I am very encouraged. We have had a great victory for the cause of peace and liberty and let’s hope we can further build on it.

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Will Congress Endorse Obama’s War Plans? Does it Matter? http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/09/01/will-congress-endorse-obamas-war-plans-does-it-matter/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/09/01/will-congress-endorse-obamas-war-plans-does-it-matter/#comments Sun, 01 Sep 2013 21:40:44 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=905 President Obama announced this weekend that he has decided to use military force against Syria and would seek authorization from Congress when it returned from its August break. Every Member ought to vote against this reckless and immoral use of the US military. But even if every single Member and Senator votes for another war, it will not make this terrible idea any better because some sort of nod is given to the Constitution along the way.

Besides, the president made it clear that Congressional authorization is superfluous, asserting falsely that he has the authority to act on his own with or without Congress. That Congress allows itself to be treated as window dressing by the imperial president is just astonishing.

The President on Saturday claimed that the alleged chemical attack in Syria on August 21 presented “a serious danger to our national security.” I disagree with the idea that every conflict, every dictator, and every insurgency everywhere in the world is somehow critical to our national security. That is the thinking of an empire, not a republic. It is the kind of thinking that this president shares with his predecessor and it is bankrupting us and destroying our liberties here at home.

According to recent media reports, the military does not have enough money to attack Syria and would have to go to Congress for a supplemental appropriation to carry out the strikes. It seems our empire is at the end of its financial rope. The limited strikes that the president has called for in Syria would cost the US in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote to Congress last month that just the training of Syrian rebels and “limited” missile and air strikes would cost “in the billions” of dollars. We should clearly understand what another war will do to the US economy, not to mention the effects of additional unknown costs such as a spike in fuel costs as oil skyrockets.

I agree that any chemical attack, particularly one that kills civilians, is horrible and horrendous. All deaths in war and violence are terrible and should be condemned. But why are a few hundred killed by chemical attack any worse or more deserving of US bombs than the 100,000 already killed in the conflict? Why do these few hundred allegedly killed by Assad count any more than the estimated 1,000 Christians in Syria killed by US allies on the other side? Why is it any worse to be killed by poison gas than to have your head chopped off by the US allied radical Islamists, as has happened to a number of Christian priests and bishops in Syria?

For that matter, why are the few hundred civilians killed in Syria by a chemical weapon any worse than the 2000-3000 who have been killed by Obama’s drone strikes in Pakistan? Does it really make a difference whether a civilian is killed by poison gas or by drone missile or dull knife?

In “The Sociology of Imperialism,” Joseph Schumpeter wrote of the Roman Empire’s suicidal interventionism:

“There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive an interest — why, then it was the national honour that had been insulted.”

Sadly, this sounds like a summary of Obama’s speech over the weekend. We are rapidly headed for the same collapse as the Roman Empire if we continue down the president’s war path. What we desperately need is an overwhelming Congressional rejection of the president’s war authorization. Even a favorable vote, however, cannot change the fact that this is a self-destructive and immoral policy.

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Why Are We At War in Yemen? http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/08/11/why-are-we-at-war-in-yemen/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/08/11/why-are-we-at-war-in-yemen/#comments Sun, 11 Aug 2013 22:25:37 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=894 Most Americans are probably unaware that over the past two weeks the US has launched at least eight drone attacks in Yemen, in which dozens have been killed. It is the largest US escalation of attacks on Yemen in more than a decade. The US claims that everyone killed was a “suspected militant,” but Yemeni citizens have for a long time been outraged over the number of civilians killed in such strikes. The media has reported that of all those killed in these recent US strikes, only one of the dead was on the terrorist “most wanted” list.

This significant escalation of US attacks on Yemen coincides with Yemeni President Hadi’s meeting with President Obama in Washington earlier this month. Hadi was installed into power with the help of the US government after a 2011 coup against its long-time ruler, President Saleh. It is in his interest to have the US behind him, as his popularity is very low in Yemen and he faces the constant threat of another coup.

In Washington, President Obama praised the cooperation of President Hadi in fighting the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This was just before the US Administration announced that a huge unspecified threat was forcing the closure of nearly two dozen embassies in the area, including in Yemen. According to the Administration, the embassy closings were prompted by an NSA-intercepted conference call at which some 20 al-Qaeda leaders discussed attacking the West. Many remain skeptical about this dramatic claim, which was made just as some in Congress were urging greater scrutiny of NSA domestic spying programs.

The US has been involved in Yemen for some time, and the US presence in Yemen is much greater than we are led to believe. As the Wall Street Journal reported last week:

“At the heart of the U.S.-Yemeni cooperation is a joint command center in Yemen, where officials from the two countries evaluate intelligence gathered by America and other allies, such as Saudi Arabia, say U.S. and Yemeni officials. There, they decide when and how to launch missile strikes against the highly secretive list of alleged al Qaeda operatives approved by the White House for targeted killing, these people say.”

Far from solving the problem of extremists in Yemen, however, this US presence in the country seems to be creating more extremism. According to professor Gregory Johnson of Princeton University, an expert on Yemen, the civilian “collateral damage” from US drone strikes on al-Qaeda members actually attracts more al-Qaeda recruits:

“There are strikes that kill civilians. There are strikes that kill women and children. And when you kill people in Yemen, these are people who have families. They have clans. And they have tribes. And what we’re seeing is that the United States might target a particular individual because they see him as a member of al-Qaeda. But what’s happening on the ground is that he’s being defended as a tribesman.”

The US government is clearly at war in Yemen. It is claimed they are fighting al-Qaeda, but the drone strikes are creating as many or more al-Qaeda members as they are eliminating. Resentment over civilian casualties is building up the danger of blowback, which is a legitimate threat to us that is unfortunately largely ignored. Also, the US is sending mixed signals by attacking al-Qaeda in Yemen while supporting al-Qaeda linked rebels fighting in Syria.

This cycle of intervention producing problems that require more intervention to “solve” impoverishes us and makes us more, not less, vulnerable. Can anyone claim this old approach is successful? Has it produced one bit of stability in the region? Does it have one success story? There is an alternative. It is called non-interventionism. We should try it. First step would be pulling out of Yemen.

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Let Market Forces Solve Organ Transplant Crisis http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/07/14/let-market-forces-solve-organ-transplant-crisis/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/07/14/let-market-forces-solve-organ-transplant-crisis/#comments Sun, 14 Jul 2013 21:17:02 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=879 Ten-year old cystic fibrosis patient Sarah Murnaghan captured the nation’s attention when federal bureaucrats imposed a de facto death sentence on her by refusing to modify the rules governing organ transplants. The rules in question forbid children under 12 from receiving transplants of adult organs. Even though Sarah’s own physician said she was an excellent candidate to receive an adult organ transplant, government officials refused to even consider modifying their rules.

Fortunately, a federal judge intervened so Sarah received the lung transplant. But the welcome decision in this case does not change the need to end government control of organ donations and repeal the federal ban on compensating organ donors.

Supporters of the current system claim that organ donation is too important to be left to the marketplace. But this is nonsensical: if we trust the market to deliver food, shelter, and all other necessities, why should we not trust it to deliver healthcare — including organs?

It is also argued that it is “uncompassionate” or “immoral” to allow patients or insurance companies to provide compensation to donors. But one of the reasons the waiting lists for transplants is so long, with many Americans dying before receiving a transplant, is because of a shortage of organs. If organ donors, or their heirs, were compensated for donating, more people would have an incentive to become organ donors.

Those who oppose allowing patients to purchase organs should ask themselves how compassionate is it to allow those people to die on the transplant waiting list who might otherwise have lived if they were able to obtain organs though private contracts.

Some are concerned that if organ donations were supplied via the market instead of through government regulation, those with lower incomes would be effectively denied access to donated organs. This ignores our current two-tier system for allocating organs, as the wealthy can travel overseas for transplants if they cannot receive a transplant in America. Allowing the free market to alleviate the shortage of organs and reduce the costs of medical procedures like transplants would benefit the middle class and the poor, not the wealthy.

The costs of obtaining organs would likely be covered by most health insurance plans, thus reducing the costs directly borne by individual patients. Furthermore, if current federal laws distorting the health care market are repealed, procedures such as transplants would be much more affordable. Expanded access to health savings accounts and flexible savings accounts, combined with generous individual tax deductions and credits, would also make it easier for people to afford health care procedures such as transplants.

There is also some hypocrisy in the argument against allowing market forces in organ transplants. Everyone else involved in organ transplantation procedures, including doctors, nurses, and even the hospital janitor, receives compensation. Not even the most extreme proponent of government-provided health care advocates forcing medical professionals to provide care without compensation. Hospitals and other private institutions provide compensation for blood and plasma donations, and men and women are compensated for donations to fertility clinics, so why not allow compensation for organ donation?

Sarah Murnaghan’s case shows the fallacy in thinking that a free-market system for organ donations is less moral or less effective than a government-controlled system. It is only the bureaucrats who put adherence to arbitrary rules ahead of the life of a ten-year old child. It is time for Congress to wake up and see that markets work better in all aspects of health care, including organ donation, just as they work better in providing all other goods and services.

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New Egyptian War: Americans Lose, Again http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/07/07/new-egyptian-war-americans-lose-again/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/07/07/new-egyptian-war-americans-lose-again/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 23:07:19 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=874 Looking at the banners in the massive Egyptian protests last week, we saw many anti-American slogans. Likewise, the Muslim Brotherhood-led government that was deposed by the military last week was very critical of what it saw as US support for the coup. Why is it that all sides in this Egyptian civil war seem so angry with the United States? Because the United States has at one point or another supported each side, which means also that at some point the US has also opposed each side. It is the constant meddling in Egyptian affairs that has turned Egyptians against us, as we would resent foreign intervention in our own affairs.

For more than 30 years, since the US-brokered Camp David Accord between Israel and Egypt, the US supported Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Over that period the US sent more than $60 billion to prop up Mubarak and, importantly, to train and seek control over the Egyptian military. Those who opposed Mubarak’s unelected reign became more and more resentful of the US, which they rightly saw as aiding and abetting a dictator and denying them their political aspirations.

Then the US began providing assistance to groups seeking to overthrow Mubarak, which they did in 2011. The US continued funding the Egyptian military at that time, arguing that US aid was more critical than ever if we are to maintain influence. The US Administration demanded an election in Egypt after Mubarak’s overthrow and an election was held. Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won a narrow victory. The US supported Morsi but kept funding the Egyptian military.

After a year of Morsi’s rule, Egyptians who did not approve of his government took to the streets to demand his removal from power. The US signaled to the Egyptian military that it would not oppose the removal of Morsi from power, and he was removed on July 3rd. With the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government came the arrest of many politicians and the closure of many media outlets sympathetic to them. Then the US government warned the same Egyptian military that undermined democracy that it needed to restore democracy! Is it any wonder why Egyptians from all walks of life are united in their irritation with the United States?

Despite the Egyptian government being overthrown by a military coup, the Obama Administration will not utter the word “coup” because acknowledging reality would mean an end to US assistance to the Egyptian government and military. That cannot be allowed.

Instead, we see the same Obama administration that is on a worldwide manhunt for pro-transparency whistle-blower Edward Snowden demand that the Egyptian military exercise “political transparency” in its dealings with the ousted Muslim Brotherhood-led government.

So, successive US administrations over the decades have supported all sides in Egypt, from dictator to demonstrator to military. There is only one side that the US government has never supported: our side. The American side. It has never supported the side of the US taxpayers who resent being forced to fund a foreign dictatorship, a foreign military, and foreign protesters. It has never supported the side of the majority of Americans who do not wish to get involved in the confusing internal affairs of countries thousands of miles away. It has never supported the side of those of us concerned about blowback, which is the real threat to our national security. Unfortunately, US administrations continue to follow the same old failed policies and Obama is no different. More intervention, more foreign aid, more bullying, more empire.

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Iraq Collapse Shows Bankruptcy of Interventionism http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/06/02/iraq-collapse-shows-bankruptcy-of-interventionism/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/06/02/iraq-collapse-shows-bankruptcy-of-interventionism/#comments Sun, 02 Jun 2013 21:41:02 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=865 May was Iraq’s deadliest month in nearly five years, with more than 1,000 dead — both civilians and security personnel — in a rash of bombings, shootings and other violence. As we read each day of new horrors in Iraq, it becomes more obvious that the US invasion delivered none of the promised peace or stability that proponents of the attack promised.

Millions live in constant fear, refugees do not return home, and the economy is destroyed. The Christian community, some 1.2 million persons before 2003, has been nearly wiped off the Iraqi map. Other minorities have likewise disappeared. Making matters worse, US support for the Syrian rebels next door has drawn the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government into the spreading regional unrest and breathed new life into extremist elements.

The invasion of Iraq opened the door to Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which did not exist beforehand, while simultaneously strengthening the hand of Iran in the region. Were the “experts” who planned for and advocated the US attack really this incompetent?

Ryan Crocker, who was US Ambassador to Iraq from 2007-2009, still speaks of the Iraqi “surge” as a great reconciliation between Sunni and Shi’ite in Iraq. He wrote recently that “[t]hough the United States has withdrawn its troops from Iraq, it retains significant leverage there. Iraqi forces were equipped and trained by Americans, and the country’s leaders need and expect our help.” He seems alarmingly out of touch with reality.

It is clear now that the “surge” and the “Iraqi Awakening” were just myths promoted by those desperate to put a positive spin on the US invasion, which the late General William Odom once called, “the greatest strategic disaster in American history.” Aircraft were loaded with $100 dollar bills to pay each side to temporarily stop killing US troops and each other, but the payoff provided a mere temporary break. Shouldn’t the measure of success of a particular policy be whether it actually produces sustained positive results?

Now we see radical fighters who once shot at US troops in Iraq have spilled into Syria, where they ironically find their cause supported by the US government! Some of these fighters are even greeted by visiting US senators.

The US intervention in Iraq has created ever more problems. That is clear. The foreign policy “experts” who urged the US attack on Iraq now claim that the disaster they created can only be solved with more interventionism! Imagine a medical doctor noting that a particular medication is killing his patient, but to combat the side effect he orders an increase in dosage of the same medicine. Like this doctor, the US foreign policy establishment is guilty of malpractice. And, I might add, this is just what the Fed does with monetary policy.

From Iraq to Libya to Mali to Syria to Afghanistan, US interventions have an unbroken record of making matters far worse. Yet regardless of the disasters produced, for the interventionists a more aggressive US foreign policy is the only policy they offer.

We must learn the appropriate lessons from the disaster of Iraq. We cannot continue to invade countries, install puppet governments, build new nations, create centrally-planned economies, engage in social engineering, and force democracy at the barrel of a gun. The rest of the world is tired of US interventionism and the US taxpayer is tired of footing the bill for US interventionism. It is up to all of us to make it very clear to the foreign policy establishment and the powers that be that we have had enough and will no longer tolerate empire-building. We should be more confident in ourselves and stop acting like an insecure bully.

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The IRS’s Job Is To Violate Our Liberties http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/05/20/the-irss-job-is-to-violate-our-liberties/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2013/05/20/the-irss-job-is-to-violate-our-liberties/#comments Mon, 20 May 2013 05:38:36 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=856 “What do you expect when you target the President?” This is what an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent allegedly said to the head of a conservative organization that was being audited after calling for the impeachment of then-President Clinton. Recent revelations that IRS agents gave “special scrutiny” to organizations opposed to the current administration’s policies suggest that many in the IRS still believe harassing the President’s opponents is part of their job.

As troubling as these recent reports are, it would be a grave mistake to think that IRS harassment of opponents of the incumbent President is a modern, or a partisan, phenomenon. As scholar Burton Folsom pointed out in his book New Deal or Raw Deal, IRS agents in the 1930s where essentially “hit squads” against opponents of the New Deal. It is well-known that the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used the IRS to silence their critics. One of the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon dealt with his use of the IRS to harass his political enemies. Allegations of IRS abuses were common during the Clinton administration, and just this week some of the current administration’s defenders recalled that antiwar and progressive groups alleged harassment by the IRS during the Bush presidency.

The bipartisan tradition of using the IRS as a tool to harass political opponents suggests that the problem is deeper than just a few “rogue” IRS agents — or even corruption within one, two, three or many administrations. Instead, the problem lays in the extraordinary power the tax system grants the IRS.

The IRS routinely obtains information about how we earn a living, what investments we make, what we spend on ourselves and our families, and even what charitable and religious organizations we support. Starting next year, the IRS will be collecting personally identifiable health insurance information in order to ensure we are complying with Obamacare’s mandates.

The current tax laws even give the IRS power to marginalize any educational, political, or even religious organizations whose goals, beliefs, and values are not favored by the current regime by denying those organizations “tax-free” status. This is the root of the latest scandal involving the IRS.

Considering the type of power the IRS excises over the American people, and the propensity of those who hold power to violate liberty, it is surprising we do not hear about more cases of politically-motivated IRS harassment. As the first US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall said, “The power to tax is the power to destroy” — and who better to destroy than one’s political enemies?

The US flourished for over 120 years without an income tax, and our liberty and prosperity will only benefit from getting rid of the current tax system. The federal government will get along just fine without its immoral claim on the fruits of our labor, particularly if the elimination of federal income taxes are accompanied by serious reduction in all areas of spending, starting with the military spending beloved by so many who claim to be opponents of high taxes and big government.

While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process, thus the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.

Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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