de Rugy:”Overseas Private Investment Corporation is ripe for termination”

Now that the Export-Import Bank’s charter has expired, it’s time to examine other programs that should follow in Ex-Im’s footsteps. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a federal agency that subsidizes U.S.-owned overseas businesses with taxpayer-backed financing, is ripe for termination when its charter expires on September 30.

Immediately focusing on a new target on the heels of Ex-Im’s expiration is important. As Heritage Foundation’s analyst Diane Katz expressed to me in an email, “We should certainly celebrate the success of blocking Ex-Im from doling out yet more subsidies, but the victory may be temporary and is certainly incomplete. Ex-Im is only one of dozens of corporate welfare programs, such as OPIC, that must be ended.”

In the Washington Examiner, Timothy Carney explains what OPIC does and why it should go. “Want to set up a factory in a different country? OPIC can make it cheaper for you. For instance, a Brazilian granite business gets an OPIC subsidy, even though that hurts its U.S. competitors.”

The parallels between OPIC and Ex-Im are chilling: two government agencies that focus on artificially propping up U.S. companies in the name of economic growth and job creation by providing cheap financing to companies that could find capital on their own. In the process, both agencies transfer large risk to taxpayers.

Full post by Veronique de Rugy @ Reason http://reason.com/archives/2015/07/02/beyond-the-export-import-bank-more-crony#.flnehs:UOTr

Libertarian Party:”Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bill lets foreign governments and foreign special interests control American medical care, banking, the Internet, and even civil liberties”

Republicans howled when Nancy Pelosi famously said, “We have to pass [Obamacare] so that you can find out what is in it.” Now GOP lawmakers, who control the U.S. House, are following suit in their passage of a new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bill.

After rejecting an earlier version of the bill last week, the House passed a new TPP bill on June 18 which gives President Obama carte blanche to negotiate and sign a massive anti-American trade treaty with eleven other Pacific nations without public oversight or news coverage. They’ll have a short period of time, after the hundreds-of-pages-long treaty is finally published, to cast an up-or-down, take-it-or-leave-it vote.

Although Congress will get to see the text of the final treaty before the final vote, they and the American public will have insufficient time to review it. Congress will be under intense pressure to pass it, and serious objections will likely be given short shrift. This appears to be their plan, allowing them to avoid public scrutiny of TPP’s provisions until after it is passed and the heat is off.

“The two old parties will happily work together to get special favors for particular industries and interests, even if they have to hide the specifics from the American people to do so,” said Nicholas Sarwark, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee.

While the current version of the treaty remains hidden from public view, portions of it have been released by WikiLeaks. They already show that it betrays and trumps the U.S. Constitution, sells out American freedoms, and grants foreign governments vast control over American medicine, the Internet, banking services, intellectual property, and civil liberties. It also grants multi-national corporations the right to sue the U.S. government where domestic companies are forbidden to do so.

“The Libertarian Party opposes TPP and other secretive pacts being negotiated between the U.S. and countries worldwide, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA),” said Sarwark. “The Libertarian Party supports free trade with all people and countries around the world. Real free trade is the reduction of barriers and the de-escalation of trade wars — not secret negotiations over winners and losers.”

“The vast majority of job losses in America did not result from trade agreements,” he continued. “The real culprits are the politicians and special interests who push for onerous government regulations, high taxes, and trade barriers that weaken American companies and which also prohibit American families from openly and freely shopping for the best buys for their families.”

“To actually help the American economy, we should simply repeal laws and withdraw from trade agreements that violate the Constitution or restrict free and open trade. This will stimulate the American economy, preserve and expand our diminishing freedoms, and maintain our sovereignty as a nation,” said Sarwark.
Source: The Libertarian Party @ http://www.lp.org/news/press-releases/secretive-trans-pacific-partnership-trade-bill-lets-foreign-governments-and

Paternity Test for an Orphan War

by Gene Berkman
Many years ago President John F Kennedy observed that “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.”

The relevance of this view was brought home to former Governor Jeb Bush. During an interview on Fox News, he was asked if the Iraq War was the right thing to do, given the information that we have now. He initially responded that invading Iraq was the right policy, then decided that he had new information on the meaning of the question. With new information, he still gave an answer midway between fudging and fumbling. If anyone needed a reason to oppose Jeb Bush’s campaign for President, a reminder of the disaster that his brother bequeathed the country should be more than adequate.

More than a dozen years after President George W Bush unleashed 20,000 precision guided weapons of mass destruction on Iraq, and occupied the country with more than 130,000 American troops, no weapons of mass destruction belonging to the Hussein regime have been found. George W Bush himself has admitted that the WMD threat turned up missing. But the cost, in lives and money, has been much easier to find. Trillions of dollars in tax money and new government debt, thousands of Americans dead, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties, destabilization and continuing violence in the Middle East, and new threats against Israel – these are the bitter fruits of George W Bush’s pre-emptive war.

Except for Sen. Marco Rubio, who continues to defend the failed policy of the Bush administration, Jeb Bush has been on his own, with Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both making clear that they now believe that the invasion of Iraq was “a mistake.”

Some Republicans have gone farther. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a vocal supporter of the war who actively backed the re-election of President Bush in 2004, is now saying that he opposed the war all along. More soberly, William F Buckley Jr in 2006 came to view the Iraq war as a failure; with the failure to find WMD in Iraq he noted that the Hussein regime had not posed “an existential threat to the United States” that would necessitate military action.

If every major Republican today except for Jeb Bush realizes that George Bush’s war was a disaster for America, why did Congress approve the authorization for the use of military force? In 2002, Republicans in Congress were almost unanimous in support of the war. Rep Ron Paul spoke out against the war, but only 5 other Republicans in the House of Representatives joined him in voting against the AUMF. In the Senate, closely divided between Democrats and Republicans, only one Republican and one Independent joined with 21 Democrats to vote no; 29 Democrats joined with 48 Republicans in support of Bush’s war.

Except for Sen. Rand Paul and the confused former Governor of Florida, the field of Republican candidates for President consists of politicians who were for the war before they were against it.

The Iraq War has a Republican brand, but plenty of Democrats have joined in as belligerent bipartisans. In 2004, the Democrats nominated John Kerry for President and John Edwards for Vice-President – both had voted for the war. In 2008, Sen. Hilary Clinton was defeated for the Democratic nomination at least partly because of her vote for the war, but Sen. Obama picked prowar Sen. Joe Biden for Vice-President. And now, Sen. Hilary Clinton, who now describes her vote for the war as “a mistake” is the leading candidate for the Democrat nomination.

Bipartisan belligerence has been the norm in American politics for many years. Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats got America into the Vietnam War, and Republicans went along with that war. Even as the Vietnam war became unpopular among wider segments of the American population, the Republicans failed to run an antiwar candidate for President. Among Democrats, the 1972 nomination of Sen. George McGovern – who had voted for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution but came to oppose the war – was a fluke. In 1976 the Democrats nominated Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, who had loyally supported Lyndon Johnson’s war.

In 1992, as Democrats sought to take back the White House, they nominated Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, who had voiced support for President George H W Bush’s war in Iraq. Gov. Clinton stated at the Democrat convention that he picked Sen. Al Gore for Vice-President because Sen. Gore was one of 10 Democrats in the Senate that supported the (first) war in Iraq. In 2000, after Al Gore was nominated for President, he picked Sen Joe Lieberman of Connecticut because he too was one of the 10 Democrat Senators that voted in support of the first President Bush’s war.

As America faces a world in chaos in the aftermath of the Iraq War that nobody wants to be blamed for, we face two parties that will offer up support for continued military intervention as the only choice. But if we understand the paternity of our orphan war, many Americans will seek another choice as a foreign policy prophylactic.

Sirota:”Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton’s State Department”

David Sirota reports @ International Business Times on a major arms deal – American companies would sell 29 billion dollars worth of arms and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia, a country with an appalling record on personal liberty, and the home of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. The deal was approved by the State Department, then headed by Secretary Hilary Clinton, in  late 2011. Mr Sirota reports that in the previous year, Saudi Arabia had contributed at least 10 million dollars to the Clinton Foundation, and Lockheed, one of the US companies in the deal, had contributed 900,000 dollars to the Foundation.

The Saudi arms deal is part of a much larger pattern exposed by the IBT investigation:

Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House.

As a Senator, Hilary Clinton voted in favor of President Bush’s pre-emptive war on Iraq. As President, Bill Clinton launched bombing strikes on Yugoslavia and Iraq. As a candidate for President, Bill Clinton picked Al Gore as his running mate because Senator Gore had voted in support of President George H W Bush’s war in Iraq.

Antiwar voters, concerned about the cost – in money and lives – of world wide interventionism will need an alternative to Hilary Clinton. The antiwar alternative is not offered by Republican candidates who were for the Iraq War before they were against it.

Full expose by David Sirota @ IBT http://www.ibtimes.com/clinton-foundation-donors-got-weapons-deals-hillary-clintons-state-department-1934187

Root: Rand Paul affirms right to privacy in NSA Filibuster

Sen. Rand Paul is holding the Senate floor in an extended debate on the issue of the National Security Agency and the threat it poses to the rights of Americans, including the right to privacy. Damon Root @ Reason notes that this pits Sen. Paul against the mainstream position in the Republican Party which denies that the Constitution guarantees a right to privacy.

…as I’ve previously noted, many conservatives believe the Constitution does not protect the right to privacy at all, since the word privacy is mentioned nowhere in the text of the Constitution. As the late conservative legal theorist Robert Bork once put it, there are no individual rights in those areas where “the Constitution has not spoken.”

During his filibuster yesterday, Paul tackled this conservative orthodoxy head on.

“Some conservatives say, well, there is no right to privacy. I don’t see it in the Constitution,” Paul observed. But those conservatives forget the text of the Ninth Amendment, he countered. “The Ninth Amendment says that all the rights aren’t listed, but those that aren’t listed are not to be disparaged. Even our Founding Fathers worried about this.”

Conservative opposition to the right of privacy is largely a response to the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which invoked the Right to Privacy – inherent in the 4th Amendment and the 5th Amendment to the Constitution – to overturn state laws banning abortion. (Roe v Wade did not affect California, which has had legal abortion since Governor Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1967 guaranteeing the right.)

Senator Paul is to be commended for his defense of the privacy rights of Americans, under attack from the National Security Agency and from other government agencies as well. But the willingness of many conservatives to deny constitutional rights in their pursuit of national security, or their desire to enforce their views on issues of personal behavior, means that the conservative movement and the Republican Party cannot be relied on to defend the freedom of Americans.
Full post by Damon Root @ http://reason.com/blog/2015/05/21/rand-paul-filibuster-your-rights-are-man

Drug Policy Alliance releases report on Asset Forfeiture Abuse in California

Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California is a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law. Civil asset forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property – even from citizens never charged with or convicted of a crime. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have led to a perversion of police priorities, such as increasing personnel on the forfeiture unit while reducing the number of officers on patrol and in investigation units.

What emerges in the new report is a picture of a handful of relatively small cities clustered in Los Angeles County that lead the state in per capita seizures (Baldwin Park, Beverly Hills, Gardena, Irwindale, La Verne, Pomona, South Gate, Vernon and West Covina). The report’s analysis of fiscal records finds that many of these cities were providing false or inconsistent reports to the Justice Department, while some other cities appeared to be engaged in budgeting future forfeiture revenue, despite this being explicitly illegal under federal law.
Full Report by Drug Policy Alliance @ http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Drug_Policy_Alliance_Above_the_Law_Civil_Asset_Forfeiture_in_California.pdf

Zaiac:”On Earth Day, Remember Who Pollutes the Most”

Wednesday marks the anniversary of Earth Day, the international holiday meant to celebrate the natural environment, and the preservation thereof. Many have taken to using this day to call for ever-more top-down environmental management, but they should do so with caution.+

The US federal government has a long and often tragic history when it comes to environmental stewardship. Of all days, Earth Day is one where all US citizens should stop to assess the horrific environmental damage that has happened as a direct result of federal action

As I’ve noted in this space before, the US federal government is one of the largest, if not the largest, polluter on the planet. This pollution comes both directly, with government agencies directly harming environmental quality, and indirectly, with pollution-inducing policy.+

How can a government that expects businesses and the public to comply with a tangled web of environmental protection laws do so much harm itself?

Full Commentary @ Panampost http://panampost.com/nicholas-zaiac/2015/04/21/on-earth-day-remember-who-pollutes-the-most/