Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

Speech at the Maryland Tax Day Tea Party

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I recently spoke at the 2010 Maryland Tax Day Tea Party in Stevensville. Here are the links and the text of the speech:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Text of Speech:

You know, theres a Chinese proverb that says that there are three curses, each one worse than the previous. The first of these curses is: “May you live in interesting times.” Well, the times we live in are certainly interesting.

We stand here today at a transformative moment in American history at the front lines of what can only be called a revolution in thought. We are here today, like hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans in cities all across the country to exercise our basic right as citizens, as a free people in a democratic republic. We stand here today, peaceably assembled, petitioning our government for redress of our grievances. And we are here to tell our government one thing: STOP.

We stand here today with a crisis of creativity in our country. We look around and see problem after problem: Poverty. Millions unable to get health care. People out of work. Its easy for all of us, no matter what our political views may be, to agree on what the problems are.

But though we all see these problems, for too long, we have seen just one solution let the government do it. Its their job. Its their responsibility.

Well, the second Chinese curse is this: May you come to the attention of those in authority.

Well, let me tell you, weve definitely been getting attention from those in power.

We are citizens today living under a government that doesn’t represent us its people. And we have made the decision, together, that we can no longer refuse to take action. And for that, we are drawing much attention.

But when I say people, I should be clear, because I don’t just mean us here today, or our friends across the country. I mean all Americans, regardless of whether or not theyre a part of the tea party movement. For years, no matter the Administration, no matter which party controlled Congress, no matter who we elected, none of us has been represented by our government.

And why should anyone care? Why should anyone have bothered to pay attention to what we wanted? Why pay attention when we largely refused to take action when we continued to let elected officials get away with whatever they wanted? We have congressional approval ratings in the teens and twenties, and yet re-election rates are in the 90s, and thats unacceptable.

You know, thirty-two years ago, something remarkable happened in the state of California. In 1978, Californians stood up passed Proposition 13 overwhelmingly a law hated so strongly by the political class, because it of all things made it more difficult for politicians to raise taxes.

But thats not why Prop 13 was important. No, it was important for what it started for what it signified. 43 states followed by passing some form of a tax limitation. In the late 70s, Americans realized that theyd been taxed too much for too long, and that it was time to do something about it.

But today the problem we face the problem that is drawing us attention is not our dislike of taxes. It is our solemn and firm rejection of completely out-of-control spending by politicians.

You know, to go off on a tangent for a second, Rodney Dangerfield once had a great line in Back to School that said, Youve always got to look out for #1, because if you dont, youll end up stepping in #2.

Well, pardon the analogy, but for too long, our elected officials have not been looking out for us for the citizens who should be #1. And worst of all, they havent just mistakenly stepped in some #2 theyve thrown us into a $16 trillion dollar pile of it.

And that brings me to the third Chinese curse: May you find what you are looking for.

For too long, those who wanted big runaway government have gotten what they wanted.

We have a Democratically-controlled Congress this year that passed a new trillion dollar health care entitlement, all the while ignoring overwhelming public opposition.

But why should we be shocked when just 7 years ago, a Republican-controlled Congress passed a new half-trillion prescription drug plan that nobody wanted?

We have a Congress today that raises the federal debt ceiling whenever it bumps up against that ceiling.

But why should we be taken aback considering that Republicans raised that ceiling again and again when it was politically convenient to do so?

Its pretty sad when those in Congress dont even know what the word ceiling means, isnt it?

We have President Obama borrowing, printing and spending more than any president in history, in the supposed name of job creation.

But why should we be surprised when his Republican predecessor did the exact same thing?

We have a president now who wastes trillions of dollars overseas in multiple endless wars, sacrificing American lives, destroying our civil liberties at home, and shredding our Constitution into millions of tiny bits.

But why should we be surprised to see him merely continuing and expanding the policies initiated by George Bush?

And then, of course, we have the worst example of all an example of government so out of control an example so galling that it deserves special scorn, all its own.

And this time Im talking about the bailouts.

A tag-team effort, foisted upon us by our last two presidents, a scheme that took hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, ignored the public outcry of those taxpayers, and then handed that money to the well-connected friends of unelected treasury secretaries and government officials, so that Wall Street millionaire bankers could keep making campaign contributions to both parties.

The truth is, we only really have one party with two competing factions: the spend money over here party, and the spend money over there party.

But what we realize today is that low taxes are not enough. Low taxes mean nothing if we don’t reduce spending as well. And fortunately for our future generations, more and more Americans are realizing this as well.

Theyre realizing that the reckless spending of taxpayer money our money is just the beginning. Our government hasnt just been eroding away our pocketbooks, but also the basic liberties that have for so long characterized our free society.

But we cannot we must not — let lawmakers keep grabbing this power the power to solve problems that they themselves created.

This may come as a surprise to some in Washington, but you know, you cant run massive government programs like Medicare and Medicaid and the FDA and the medical boards, and many, many others and then say the free market doesn’t work in health care, so we’ll run it, instead.

You can’t put up roadblocks to interstate competition between insurance companies and then say we need a government option because insurers don’t have enough competition.

You can’t have the Fed and the Treasury and the SEC and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the FDIC and then say we need to regulate financial instruments because the free market is failing.

No. We live in a world where the easiest way for a federal agency to get more funding is to fail at what it does, and the easiest way for Congress and the President to grab more power is to create a problem. This has got to stop, and its got to stop now.

Because if it doesnt stop, then as the Chinese curse suggests, well find what were looking for.

So the next time theres a Democrat who wants to spend money on a new health insurance bureaucracy, or a Republican who wants to spend on a new prescription drug entitlement, or a Democrat who wants to spend money on a supposed peace-keeping mission in Somalia, or a Republican who wants to spend money on war in Iraq no matter what it is, and no matter how much you think it might be a good idea you, me, all of us need to ask the question: Where is this money coming from?

Do I want to be taxed more to pay for this? Do I want the national debt to explode from more borrowing to pay for this? Do I want the Treasury and Federal Reserve to print more money to pay for this?

Or do I want to live my life, with as small a government as possible a government that doesnt threaten to bankrupt our finances or crush our currency. A government that doesnt have the power to run roughshod over the freedoms that we value so much.

We cannot let these bad policies be ignored anymore. Every time we let the government reach into yet another part of our lives, there’s only less freedom left for us.

So do not let public debate be drowned out by those who shout obstructionist! every time someone opposes your ideas. Those of us opposed to bad laws arent obstructionists. We are citizens, with ideas we care passionately about.

And we demand to be free and responsible for ourselves. We don’t want handouts; we don’t want special advantages, whether those are farm subsidies or social safety nets.

We want a government that acts in accordance with the people, not in defiance of them. A government that does not trod about on our basic liberties, the economy, or our livelihood.

We must make runaway government spending a political curse on those who support it, before it becomes a curse on us financially. We must make our will known; we must ensure that our demand for a government of the people, by the people, for the people remains forever a reality and not just an idea.

The Constitutional Response to Pirates

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Letters of Marque, of course.

Article I, Section 8 (Powers of Congress): “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water”

Congressman Paul explained the use of Letters of Marque and Reprisal on the floor of Congress after September 11, 2001:

Authority to grant letters of marque and reprisal are provided for in the Constitution as a means of allowing Congress to deal with aggressive actions where a formal declaration of war against a foreign power is problematic, Originally intended to deal with piracy, letters of marque and reprisal represent an appropriate response to the piracy of the twentieth century: hijacking terrorism.

Naturally you won’t hear Obama or the so-called “leadership” in Congress mentioning this.

Battle for the GOP

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

With the results of the election in, there has been much soul searching in the Republican party.  Not surprisingly, much of the attention has been paid to George Bush’s horrendous record on fiscal policy, where he has overseen the largest increase in domestic spending since at least LBJ (if not FDR), and has brought on the nationalization of the banking sector.

But not enough attention has been paid to Bush’s disastrous foreign policy.  Fortunately, Doug Bandow is all over it.

Here are two of Doug’s must reads:

The American People Render Their Electoral Judgment: Time to Finish Off the Neoconservatives

Learning from John McCain’s Mistakes: Supporting Aggression in the Caucasus

Maybe now that they are out of power the GOP establishment will take heed. Just don’t hold your breath.

AntiWar.com

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

I don’t often suggest where people donate their hard earned money, but since I gave a modest amount to Antiwar.com’s quarterly fundraising drive, I’d like to give two reasons why now is a particularly good time for you to consider doing the same: 

The time is right to re-establish the non-interventionist Right

With McCain’s loss and the thorough rejection of Bush by the American people, the conservative movement is at a crossroads. The libertarian/Old Right, anti-war prospective of Antiwar.com is great vehicle for making the case that a consistent application of conservative, constitutionalist principles means a modest, non-interventionist foreign policy.

The immediate future of the anti-war left is uncertain.

With the new Democrat regime in Washington, AntiWar.com is more critical than ever. The site does a great job mixing its Old Right/libertarian with viewpoints with other antiwar prospectives, including those in the anti-Bush left.  However, with messianic fervor that surrounds Obama, I expect to see anti-war criticism from the left subdued or suppressed as outlets like The Nation and Center for American Progress fall in line. This leaves Anti-War.com as a vital reminder that peace is not a partisan issue.

Biden, Obama and Iraq

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

To Obama’s credit he was on the record in the run up to Iraq as opposed to the war. But one wonders if he would have actually voted against it in the Senate had been there in 2002. Given his proclivity to duck hard votes in the Illinois Senate, I doubt he would have opposed the war in the U.S. Senate.

And, as explained by Gene Healy in this National Review article, his decision to tap Biden as his VP only reinforces my doubts:

A Profile in Cowardice
Joe Biden shirked his Constitutional responsibilities on the Iraq war.

By Gene Healy

In Friday’s presidential debate on foreign policy (assuming the show still goes on), we can be sure that Barack Obama will hit John McCain hard for supporting what Obama has called a “dumb war” in Iraq. But in doing so, Obama has at least one major handicap to overcome: his running mate.

In October 2002, Sen. Biden voted to authorize the Iraq war. “I made a mistake,” he now says — he had “vastly underestimated” how incompetent the Bush administration would be in prosecuting the war.

So has Biden changed his position on Iraq? Not really. In October 2002, when the congressional vote was held, Biden, like most members of Congress, was in favor of avoiding accountability and punting the question of war or peace to the president. And Biden remains firmly in favor of avoiding accountability for Iraq today. That tells us something about Joe Biden’s judgment and integrity. More importantly, it tells us a lot about the health of Congress as a political institution, and about the erosion of Congress’s power to declare war.

As James Madison put it, “In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department.” But Biden, and a majority of senators and House members, ignored that wisdom in 2002 and voted for a use-of-force resolution that handed a “blank check” to the president, as Sen. Robert Byrd rightly observed at the time. True, the resolution features some boilerplate about exhausting other options before using force, and prominent lawmakers have used that language to suggest they didn’t “really” vote for war. But the operative clause of the resolution — “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” in order to defend American national security and enforce U.N. resolutions regarding Iraq — left it up to the president to decide whether and when to initiate the war.

Read the whole thing.

Read David Friedman

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

A good friend of mine recently told me how much he had recently been enjoying David Friedman’s writings. After coming across a link to Friedman’s blog recently I was reminded just how good a writer (and commentator) he is.

My friend told me how Friedman’s book The Machinery of Freedom (originally written in 1971), was shifting his views from minarchist to anarcho-capitalist. (David is after all, even more radical than his famous father.)

Here on his blog, he talks about the Georgia-Russia dust up:

I have no special expertise on the Georgian conflict, nor much sympathy for either side. I am, however, struck by the fact that most of the international condemnation is aimed at the most defensible, not the least defensible, part of what Russia has done.

Russian recognition of two breakaway provinces, both of which seem to have been effectively independent for over a decade, may or may not be a good idea, but I find it hard to see any reason to be outraged over it. The current governments there may be better or worse than the government of Georgia, but they pretty clearly have more support from the local population–and in any case, governments don’t decide what other governments to recognize primarily on the basis of whether they approve of them. Yet it is the Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia that western governments have been expressing outrage over.

What is outrageous, in terms of international law and norms as I understand them, is the fact that the Russian military continues to hold territory well inside Georgia and well outside South Ossetia. That is both a violation of public Russian promises and an invasion of undisputed territory. But nobody–at least, none of the nations that are condemning Russia at the moment–seems to be paying very much attention to it.

Thomas Sowell on Georgia, NATO

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Via Richard Spencer, some clear thinking from Thomas Sowell in the midst of much saber-rattling over at the National Review:

Extending NATO right up to the borders of Russia has been one of those feel-good actions, much like our feel-good moralizing to other countries.

Are we really prepared to go to war with Russia if they send troops into Latvia, a NATO member next door to them and thousands of miles away from us?

Some people seem to think that, if we had already included Georgia in NATO, Russia would not have attacked. But what if they attacked anyway? Would we have done any more than we are doing now?

Would that have protected Georgia or would our inaction have just brought the reliability of our protection of other NATO countries into question?

If anything, we ought to be thinking about pulling out of NATO ourselves. European countries already have the wealth to produce their own military defense. If they do not have the will, that is their problem. What American officials can do is keep their mouths shut if they don’t intend to back up their words.

Georgia, Russia and the US

Monday, August 18th, 2008

In a column for The National Interest, Doug Bandow sums up my thoughts on the conflict, and America’s proper role in it (or rather out of it):

Russia had plausible justification for responding to Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia, though Moscow applied disproportionate force to achieve other ends. Nevertheless, the Caucasus never has been viewed as strategic by America. If anything is at stake in that region, it affects Europe, not America. Washington once concentrated on preventing hostile domination of the Eurasian land mass. Protecting a former Soviet province seeking to suppress secessionist sentiments in an even smaller territory of the former Soviet Union doesn’t come close as a replacement objective.

There is little else at issue for America. Despite careless talk of a new cold war, Russia is not turning back into the USSR. European strategic affairs are returning to pre–World War I great-power competition rather than the global hegemonic competition that characterized the cold war. Washington need not worry about a hostile power dominating Eurasia. In fact, even an assertive Russia has few issues in serious conflict with America. The most important one, Iran, is peripheral to Europe.

In contrast, the status and comfort of Eastern Europe—a region dominated by the Soviet Union during the cold war—matters little to U.S. security. The Caucasus is even less important, and certainly is not worth an American defense guarantee, whether within or without NATO.

Also worth pointing out is that American antagonism of Russia only makes it more difficult to the U.S. to pressure Russia to curtail future support of Iran - something that, according to those same people who are now proposing confrontation with Russia, is of utmost importance. So much for a coherent view of geo-politics.