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
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
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
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/
Abolish the Internal Revenue Service? IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said the government must have an IRS to collect the taxes to fund the government. Mr. Koskinen is right that no matter what kind of tax system we have, there needs to be a tax collection bureau. But those in favor of abolishing the present IRS are correct in that the United States certainly can get along perfectly well without the politicized, abusive and rights-trampling tax agency the IRS has become.
Mr. Koskinen and others who defend the IRS claim the problem is with the tax law, which is written by Congress. A tax system ought to be designed to obtain the necessary revenue with the least amount of damage to the economy and the civil liberties of the citizens. The present tax system gets a failing grade on both accounts. Promising special provisions to those who will provide campaign funds is a temptation that some politicians seem not to be able to resist.
Full Commentary by Richard Rahn @ Cato Institute http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/abolish-irs
Vox.com reports on a new initiative in Washington D.C. that will expand freedom for users of medical marijuana:
1Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday will introduce a bill that would legalize medical marijuana at the federal level.
2The bill would reclassify marijuana in the federal scheduling system from schedule 1 to 2.
3The bill would also permanently prohibit the federal government from shutting down medical marijuana operations in states where pot is legal for medicinal purposes.
Full report @ http://www.vox.com/2015/3/9/8177969/senate-medical-marijuana
Additional information on this initiative @ http://rare.us/story/rand-paul-cory-booker-and-kirsten-gillibrand-to-introduce-federal-medical-marijuana-bill/
December 19, 2014, Salt Lake City, UT — Governor Gary Johnson, Honorary Chairman of the Our America Initiative, released the following statement regarding easing sanctions on Cuba:
“While reasonable people can disagree about the negotiations that were involved, easing restrictions and opening the door to broader economic and cultural relations with Cuba is the right thing to do — and long overdue.
Free markets, open communications and opportunities for the Cuban people to see the benefits of a less antagonistic relationship with the U.S. will accomplish that which five decades of barriers clearly has not accomplished.
Make no mistake, the Castro regime has done nothing to deserve reward. But the Cuban people have done nothing to deserve being locked out of the opportunities that a better relationship with the U.S. will bring.
The free market is a more powerful, and certainly more positive, force for good than is a government-imposed embargo. Congress should act to remove the barriers the President cannot remove administratively, and end the failed policy of trying to reform another nation by isolating it.”