Walker: “The Public Turns Against War”

Saber rattling doesn’t poll well anymore. After a civilian airline was shot down over Ukraine last week, America’s hawks stepped up their calls for a more muscular intervention in the country, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) calling the White House “cowardly” because it hasn’t armed the government in Kiev. But a new YouGov survey shows only 15 percent of Americans favoring such aid. Forty-six percent in the poll think Russia was involved in the crash, and only 14 percent believe it wasn’t. But that hasn’t translated into an enthusiasm for intervention.

Jesse Walker looks at the growing support for staying out of other people’s conflicts @ http://reason.com/archives/2014/07/23/the-public-turns-against-war

Libertarian Party opposes further intervention in Iraq

Statement by The Libertarian National Committee:

In February 2003, the Libertarian Party (LP) issued an article titled “10 reasons why the USA should not attack Iraq.”

The article began by saying, “… there’s only one valid reason for the United States to go to war: Self-defense.”

Geoffrey Neale, LP national chairman, commented, “Unfortunately, the U.S. government ignored that principle, and engaged in ‘preventive war’ against Iraq. Many times since then, the Libertarian Party has criticized that decision.”

Neale also served as the LP national chairman in 2003.

In retrospect, the LP greatly understated the problems. We guessed the war might cost as much as $200 billion. It turned out to be closer to $1 trillion. We suspected that Saddam Hussein would not use his WMDs against the U.S. It turned out, he didn’t have the weapons at all. And we failed to predict the hardship that U.S. military action would impose on millions of Iraqis.

We are now seeing the predictable result of the intervention: civil war in Iraq.

The U.S. government’s war on Iraq has worsened the lives of both Americans and Iraqis.

What should the U.S. military do now? Nothing. No air strikes, no drone attacks, no “military advisors.” There is no way to un-make the damage, and further intervention will only prolong and aggravate the current problems.

There is one thing our government could do: allow Iraqi refugees to immigrate to the United States.

The Libertarian Party supports a foreign policy of free trade and non-intervention.

The original 2003 article is available @ http://www.lp.org/story/10-reasons-why-the-usa-should-not-attack-iraq

Healey:”Let’s End Congress’s Blanket Authorization of Force”

In the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Congress adopted an “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” which authorized the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and those who “harbored” them. This vote has been used to justify the military intervention in Afghanistan, and also to justify a number of drone strikes, commando raids and other military action since then.

Gene Healey looks at what journalist Gregory Johnson calls “the most dangerous sentence in American history” and reports on efforts in Congress to repeal the open-ended authorization @ http://reason.com/archives/2014/05/20/lets-end-congresss-blanket-authorization

Bloomberg:”NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years”

Bloomberg business news service reports that “The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.”

Heartbleed is thought to effect as many as two thirds of the world’s websites, and may be the biggest security issue in the history of the internet. Researchers have developed a fix for it in the past few days, and many computer companies have implemented a patch in their systems to protect against Heartbleed.

Bloomberg further reports that “Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.”

Full report by Bloomberg @ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-11/nsa-said-to-have-used-heartbleed-bug-exposing-consumers.html

Riverside Safe Access seeks to overturn ban on Medical Marijuana dispensaries

Riverside Safe Access is circulating a petition for a referendum to overturn the Riverside City ban on Medical Marijuana dispensaries. I have copies of the petition @ The Renaissance Book Shop (3772 Elizabeth Street, Riverside) so come on by to sign the petition, if you are registered voter in the City of Riverside. Deadline is in mid May.

The petition is supported by the Riverside County Libertarian Alliance.

Why is Government so Punitive?

It is almost the end of February, and many are still preparing their federal income tax. Perhaps you are also. And while you prepare to render unto Caesar, you have to make some decisions. Do you have an Individual Retirement Account? If so, how much will you pay into it? Do you have a Medical Savings Account? A decision about that also must be made near the beginning of the year.

If you save for retirement in an Individual Retirement Account, your tax bill is deferred on the amount you contribute to the account. But if you need access to some of the money before you reach the age of 59 and a half, you have to not only pay the income tax on the amount you withdraw, you must also pay a penalty to the federal government.

If you have a Medical Savings Account, you can pay for incidental medical expenses, co-pays, and your deductible, with money not subject to income tax. But be careful! If you put more into your account at the beginning of the year than you use in the year, you lose the balance. You cannot roll it over, even though that would help provide money for larger medical bills in the future.

Why is government so punitive? I guess they justify the tax penalty on Individual Retirement Accounts on the premise that if you withdraw money before you retire, the account is not serving its purpose of providing for your retirement. But paying a penalty to the federal government will not help you save for retirement either.

There is no justification for the “use it or lose it” rule for Medical Savings Accounts. Everyone knows that medical costs rise year after year, and saving year after year can be important when a major medical procedure is needed.

The Affordable Care Act also has its punitive side. By now, everyone has heard horror stories about big jumps in the cost of an insurance policy, mitigated somewhat by federal “subsidies.” Of course, the subsidies are really tax credits. The federal government will allow us to keep some of the money we earned, in order to pay the inflated premiums, and they expect us to be grateful for their “generosity.” The purpose of the tax credit “subsidies” is to disguise how much government rules have driven up the cost of medical insurance.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that every policy include a variety of benefits, each of which adds to the cost of the premium. In many cases, individuals are required to pay for benefits that they don’t need; older people who don’t need birth control subsidize the contraceptive benefit for younger people. At the same time, restrictions on raising premium rates for older people result in young people subsidizing older people. Ultimately, the choice is taken from the consumer, who is not allowed to choose the benefits for which he is willing to pay a premium, and all consumers lose.

While the ACA mandates a minimum list of benefits, and prohibits the sale of policies that don’t include the full list, you can also be punished if you buy a policy, or your employer provides a medical policy that includes too many benefits. The Congress imposed a tax on “Cadillac” policies, which provide a rich menu of benefits. This tax was included in order to help provide funding for the “subsidies” that the ACA provides, but it shows a complete contempt for Americans. You are required to buy the policy the government mandates – nothing less, and you are taxed if you buy more.

All these policies illustrate the basic fact that government is based on punishing those who do not find government mandates beneficial. Government does not try to persuade by showing benefits, but by threatening punishment. As George Washington noted long ago: “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force, and like fire, it is a dangerous servant.”

Glaser:”Don’t Get Too Comfortable With the GOP’s New Love For Libertarians”

In what many described as yet another indication of a monumental shift happening in the Grand Old Party, the Republican National Committee last week passed a resolution calling for an end to the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

But the party’s apparent shuffling to a more limited government, civil liberties-conscious platform may not be as genuine as some believe.

The RNC’s resolution, which passed by an “overwhelming majority,” declares “the mass collection and retention of personal data is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

These are strong words for the party that stood by President George W. Bush when he secretly (and illegally) ordered the NSA to spy on the domestic communications of Americans without any warrants at all. Time magazine’s Zeke Miller branded the RNC’s resolution “the latest indication of a growing libertarian wing of the GOP.”

After noting these unexpected statements in defense of Freedom, John Glaser points out that prior to 2000, Republicans criticized big government and foreign interventionism by President Clinton, then elected George W Bush who expanded government even faster, and started two wars that continue to cost the American taxpayer years after he left office.

Mr Glaser also notes that Democrats criticized President Bush for his war, his deficits and his attacks on freedom, and now defend President Obama as he continues to expand government power.

Full commentary by John Glaser @ Reason http://reason.com/archives/2014/02/02/dont-get-too-comfortable-with-the-gops-n