All posts by Adam Dick

Pinning an ‘Antisemite’ Label on President Trump

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In a Friday The Intercept editorial, Mehdi Hasan wrote that President Donald Trump “and his acolytes” have been “banging their anti-Semitic drum in plain sight” since United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s September 24 announcement of an impeachment inquiry in regard to Trump. But, Hasan then offers no substantial evidence to back this bold claim.

The first pittance Hasan presents as supposed backing for his claim is a September 28 Twitter post from Trump. In the tweet, Trump complains about the treatment of Trump by “Do Nothing Democrat Savages, people like Nadler, Schiff, AOC Plus 3.” The people referenced are all House members: Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), as well as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (“AOC”) and three other freshman House members who are seen by Trump and many other people as forming a group with Ocasio-Cortez based on common interests — Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

Hasan notes that Schiff and Nadler are Jewish. Hasan also mentions that Ocasio-Cortez is a “woman of color.” Plus, observes Hasan, Trump only chose to mention these House members from among the more than 200 House members who “have signed onto an impeachment inquiry.”

From this information, Hasan presents the following rhetorical question as if he has proven something: “How is such rhetoric not racist?”

How, indeed? A negative comment does not become a racist comment just because the individuals about which the comment is made are of particular races, ethnicities, or religions.

Of course, Trump has a long and well-known record of harshly criticizing people of various races, ethnicities, and religions. The fact that his presidential primary and general election opponents were not mostly Jewish people or “women of color” did not prevent Trump from leveling at many of them verbal and written attacks similar in strength to the attack found in the tweet Hasan references.

Further, there is good reason, other than racism, that Trump would single out the House members he did for criticism. Nadler and Schiff, as Hasan notes in his editorial, are chairmen, respectively, of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. In those roles the two men have been devoting much time and effort to developing and promoting the case for Congress removing Trump from the presidency. While “AOC Plus 3” lack committee chairmanships, they have been very harsh in their criticism of the president. Trump’s inclusion of these four additional Congress members in the tweet also makes sense as part of his ongoing trading of barbs with them.

So, in answer to Hasan’s question, there is plenty of reason not to interpret Trump’s tweet as racist or antisemitic.

Next up, Hasan makes this claim:
On October 2, Trump escalated his brazenly anti-Semitic attack on Schiff. 'We don’t call him "Shifty Schiff" for nothing,' the president told reporters in the Oval Office. 'He’s a shifty, dishonest guy.'
Hold on. Why is this a “brazenly anti-Semitic attack”? It just sounds like Trump being Trump. He frequently attacks people verbally and in writing, often doing so by calling them names. Wikipedia even provides a long list of nicknames, many of them negative, that Trump has used for people. Among the listed nicknames are multiple negative nicknames for people including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer (most of whom are not Jewish), along with Schiff.

But, insists Hasan: “The stereotype of Jews as ‘shifty,’ the suggestion that they are sneaky and manipulative, has a long and ignominious history.” Whatever. There is a long history of people calling non-Jewish people shifty too.

An obvious reason Trump would choose to use the insulting nickname “Shifty Schiff” is because the nickname is made up of two words that share a first syllable. That helps make the nickname catchy. Indeed, looking at the Wikipedia list, you can see Trump has applied similar types of nicknames playing on the sound of people’s names before — "Lamb the Sham” for House Member Conor Lamb (D-PA) and “Wacky Jacky” for Senate Member Jacky Rosen (D-NV), for example.

That’s it for Hasan’s argument that Trump is saying antisemitic things since Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry regarding Trump. Talk about underwhelming.

Just as underwhelming is how Hasan then proceeds to argue in support of his assertion that Trump’s “acolytes” are doing the same thing. To support the claim, Hasan points to two October 2 Twitter posts from Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr.

Before dealing with those tweets it should be noted that it is absurd to have trump’s son stand in for all Trump’s “acolytes.” Even if Donald Trump, Jr. wrote something antisemitic that does not mean that all supporters of President Trump, or even a substantial portion of them, agree with it.

Hasan points to Donald Trump, Jr. saying in two October 2 tweets that Schiff is a “radical liberal” who “has been hand picked and supported by George Soros” and is “a George Soros *puppet.*” Hasan apparently has a problem with these tweets because Soros is Jewish. Hasan writes:
Radical liberal. Handpicked by George Soros. A Soros puppet.

Don Jr.’s tweets provoked a rare response from Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, who referred to his invocation of Soros, a left-leaning Jewish billionaire, as an 'anti-Semitic trope' and a 'dangerous' insinuation.
Alleging politicians are taking actions and making public stands because of pressure from wealthy individuals, or from businesses or interest groups, is common practice in American political debate. Soros comes up in some of those allegations, but so also do many other individuals, groups, and organizations — Charles Koch, the military-industrial complex, and the National Rifle Association, for example — that are not generally seen as connected to Jewish ethnicity or religion.

The truth is that Soros directs much effort to influence political action in America and across the world. Saying that people should refrain from noting and criticizing such effort because Soros is Jewish is saying that some major players in political influence should have a free pass from recognition and criticism. That is not a call for suppressing antisemitism. Rather, that is a call for suppressing debate.

After presenting his milk-toast evidence, Hasan asks the following question:
So why isn’t there more outrage over Trump’s blatant and dangerous anti-Semitism, in the specific context of this impeachment inquiry?
All that “blatant and dangerous anti-Semitism” is in Hasan’s head, not in reality. Hopefully Hasan, and other people offering the spurious arguments in Hasan’s editorial, will find little success in their effort to recruit people to believe their fantasy assertions of Trump’s expressions of antisemitism.

Tulsi Gabbard’s Military Nonsense

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), in a Thursday interview with host Chris Cuomo at CNN, reacted to criticism from fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen Kamala Harris (D-CA), after the candidates’ dust-up in a debate the day before, by stating, "the only response that I have heard her and her campaign give is to push out smear attacks on me, claim that I am somehow some kind of foreign agent or a traitor to my country, the country that I love, the country that I put my life on the line to serve, the country that I still serve today as a soldier in the Army National Guard."

This statement from Gabbard is nonsense. Soldiers serving in the National Guard and other parts of the United States military in military interventions as has Gabbard are not serving their country. They are serving the exertion of power by the US government. Indeed, Gabbard in the interview expresses her opposition to the sending of the US military members “to fight in these wasteful, counterproductive regime change wars.”

So, while Gabbard disparages a list of the US government’s military interventions overseas, she has nothing but praise for the carrying out of those wars by military members. In the interview she calls military members her “fellow brothers and sisters in uniform.” She set this tone clearly in her February speech announcing her campaign. Gabbard then proclaimed:
And our men and women in uniform, generation after generation, motivated by love for one another and for our country, have been willing to sacrifice everything for us. They don’t just raise their hand and volunteer to serve only to fight for one religion but not another, to fight for people of one race but not another, people of one political party but not another. No. When we raise our right hand and volunteer to serve, we set aside our own interests to serve our country, to fight for all Americans.

We serve as one, indivisible, united, unbreakable — united by this bond of love for each other and love for our country. It is this principle of service above self that is at the heart of every soldier, at the heart of every service member, and it is in this spirit that today I announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.
What a load of hooey.

Gabbard had a special position for some of her time in the military including when she was deployed to Iraq during the Iraq War — being employed in a medical group. Ron Paul, another US House of Representatives member who ran for president years before, has explained a reason he chose to become a doctor was that he knew he could be drafted into the military and wanted to avoid being tasked with killing people. Medical workers in the military can even find themselves tasked with helping sick and injured civilians where the US is at war and even opposition fighters. Such actions, sometimes undertaken by military medical workers not supportive of the war, were well presented in the television series MASH that took place during the Korean War.

In calling herself a soldier to defend her patriotism bona fides and frequently referencing her “brothers and sisters in uniform,” Gabbard is obscuring any distinction between certain medical roles in the military she has had and the more common role of advancing killing and destruction.

There can be reason to praise the providing of medical serviced by US military members in conflicts overseas, especially when those services are readily provided to the victims of and opponents of the US government’s intervention in addition to the people implementing the intervention. But, where Gabbard crosses the line into nonsense is in heaping adulation on the people who operate the killing machine loosed abroad by the US government.

Some of the military people operating the killing machine are duped or ignorant, in need of education. Some want out but, unlike workers in most other occupations, are not allowed to quit their jobs. Others are far less sympathetic. But, contrary to Gabbard’s characterization, none of them are serving their country or putting their lives on the line for their country. They may be fighting for Boeing, Raytheon, a president’s quest for a legacy, an officer’s desire for a promotion, or a number of other purposes, but they are not fighting for their country. Their country, as Gabbard has pointed out in regard to some overseas military interventions, would be better off if they were never deployed.

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Revisiting Ron Paul’s 1988 Case for Drug Legalization

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Ron Paul Institute (RPI) Senior Fellow Adam Dick’s prepared comments for RPI’s May 18, 2019 Houston, Texas conference “Winning the War on the War on Drugs”:

Ron Paul helped many people discover libertarian ideas in his presidential campaigns. For me, during Dr. Paul’s 1988 presidential campaign, things worked the other way around. I was already familiar with libertarianism. And that familiarity led me to learn about Ron Paul.

When Dr. Paul came through San Antonio, Texas in that campaign, I went to find out more about this man who was seeking the presidency under the Libertarian Party banner. Dr. Paul, that evening, presented an informative and interesting extemporaneous exploration of current events and his approach to them rooted in libertarian ideas.

One of the things I valued most from the event was a pamphlet written by Dr. Paul that I brought home with me. That pamphlet, titled The Case for Drug Legalization, presented a strong, multifaceted argument for drug legalization that has held up well over the ensuing decades.

It was an argument that Dr. Paul was bold to present in his 1988 presidential campaign. 1988 was eight years before California voters approved Proposition 215 for legal medical marijuana that gave a big boost to rolling back marijuana prohibition across the country, a process that continues forward yet remains far from completion. 1988 was also at the end of two terms of President Ronald Reagan, an adamant drug warrior who helped expand the drug war in America with bipartisan support in Congress.

Ron Paul, in arguing for drug legalization in that election, was also challenging the general public attitude. A Gallup poll placed support for marijuana legalization at 66 percent countrywide in October of last year. In contrast, support was at under 30 percent in Gallup polls nearest to 1988. Back then, Gallup did not poll each year regarding marijuana legalization. Why bother? Legalization would not be happening anytime soon. Of course, a smaller minority of Americans back in 1988 supported the more radical proposal of legalizing all drugs.

But, there was Ron Paul in his 1988 campaign proclaiming in San Antonio and in campaign stops across the country that the entire drug war should be terminated. To boot, one of the handouts from the campaign was the extensive pro-legalization pamphlet. That pamphlet helped show me and other people that Dr. Paul was the real deal as a supporter of freedom.

Indeed, one of the most important things Dr. Paul did early on in his pamphlet The Case for Drug Legalization was emphasize that ending drug prohibition is, as he put it, “a policy based on the American tradition of Freedom.” Sure, there are plenty of pragmatic reasons for legalizing drugs, several of which Dr. Paul discussed in his pamphlet and on the campaign trail. But, fundamentally, the case for drug legalization is a case for respecting people’s freedom.

This emphasis on freedom is principled. It also is likely critical to the ultimate success of any effort to completely end the war on drugs. Consider marijuana legalization which is now the law in one in five American states. Practical arguments have helped bring about that legalization. But, I believe that the biggest driver for legalization has been people developing the opinion that, whether they think it is the right choice or not, the freedom of other individuals to use marijuana should be respected by government.

Dr. Paul’s freedom case for ending the drug war extends beyond emphasizing that the freedom to use drugs should be respected. Ron Paul wrote in his campaign pamphlet that what the government was really doing in the drug war was “assaulting civil liberties in the name of fighting drugs.” Ron Paul was declaring in his 1988 campaign what many more people have come to accept in the years since: The war on drugs is a war on people.

Some of the drug war abuses Dr. Paul detailed in his pamphlet are “bank surveillance that has sought to make every teller a monetary cop,” the construction of dossiers of innocent Americans, and seizures of property such as boats and cars when any illegal drugs are found in them.

Such rights abuses in the name of the drug war have continued and intensified in the years since. But, we have also in recent years seen an uptick in criticism of many drug war practices and even the implementation of restrictions on their use, especially at the state and local level.

One powerful story Dr. Paul tells in his pamphlet is of a family victimized by a SWAT team raid of their apartment. The brutal and destructive raid was justified by a false tip from an informant that drugs were present in the apartment. This is a story that has become more and more common over the years.

Eastern Kentucky University Professor Peter B. Kraska, testifying at a hearing of the United States Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in 2014, identified the late 1980s to early 1990s as the period in which the growth in use of SWAT teams took off in America. The result, he states, is “more than a 1,300 percent increase in the total number of police paramilitary deployments, or call-outs, between 1980 and the year 2000.” Much of this growth is due to the drug war. And, while SWAT team raids of the wrong homes are terrible, so also are SWAT team raids on homes of people who do possess illegal drugs.

You could say Dr. Paul was ahead of his time in criticizing SWAT team raids. He was similarly ahead of his time in condemning in the pamphlet that an elderly widow was “thrown in jail for possession of four marijuana plants,” despite her doctor saying she needed to use marijuana to deal with her glaucoma. Back in 1988, there was little common understanding of the medical benefits a variety of people obtain from using marijuana. Stories like the one Dr. Paul told would often be met with answers such as, “You just say that because you want to get high.” Boy have things changed. And they have only done so because people like Ron Paul, a doctor as well as a political candidate, were willing to stand up and publicly defend the medical use of marijuana, leading the way to the situation now where medical marijuana is legal in two-thirds of the states and overwhelmingly supported by the American people.

Dr. Paul also addressed head-on in his 1988 campaign pamphlet some of the ulterior motives behind the drug war in America. He sought to educate people so they would not just accept the line that any negative consequences of the drug war were a necessary byproduct of a well-meaning government effort to keep Americans safe.

Ron Paul bluntly stated his general opinion for why the US government was pursuing a drug war. Dr. Paul wrote that he believed part of the reason “the drug hysteria was whipped up” was “to strengthen big government’s hold over us.” Measured against this goal, Dr. Paul explained, the drug war had been a great success, with accomplishments including a huge increase in the American prison population and a catalogue of liberty abuses undertaken in the name of enforcing prohibition.

But what of the purported compassionate goal of the drug war to prevent people from, via drug use, ruining their lives and the lives of others? Rubbish, answered Dr. Paul, asserting in his pamphlet that drug abuse rates were about the same in 1988 as in 1888, a hundred years earlier and decades before drug prohibition. Indeed, we have witnessed with the ending of alcohol prohibition countrywide last century and of marijuana prohibition in some states over the last few years that no big rise in use of the previously prohibited products materialized.

While prohibition had failed to reduce drug use, it had, Dr. Paul explained, managed to bring about much greater danger for Americans through a resulting rise in rates of property and violent crimes. And the drug war created additional dangers for illegal drug users. Dr. Paul notes in his pamphlet:

The major cause of death is not from drugs’ narcotic properties. It is from poisoned drugs and adulteration.

That danger, wrote Dr. Paul, “is 100% Made in Washington.”

Today politicians and commentators are calling for expansion of the drug war to counter the danger of fentanyl, an adulterant and another danger 100 percent made by government. Legalize drugs and the problem disappears. Here is how I put it in an October of 2017 Ron Paul Institute article:

With legalization, people could buy their drugs from established businesses that have a strong interest in maintaining a good reputation, can be sued for fraud and other wrongful acts, receive their drugs through regular supply chains not interrupted by government interdiction efforts, and sell drugs that are of consistent quality and thus have much more predictable effects when consumed.

Dr. Paul has long known that respecting freedom is inconsistent with fighting a drug war. But, he did not leave the matter at that. Dr. Paul investigated deeply and widely to develop expertise in the many facets of the prohibition debate. Indeed, in his 1988 campaign pamphlet alone he discussed in detail several additional facets of that debate that I have not mentioned here. Further, Ron Paul has taken the initiative over the years in campaigns, in the United States House of Representatives, and through private educational efforts, including with the Ron Paul Institute, to advance the case for drug legalization.

As we look at the success that has been made in rolling back marijuana prohibition and consider the potential of ending the entire drug war, we should be thankful for Ron Paul’s effective communication over the decades of a well-reasoned case for drug legalization. His efforts are a major factor contributing to how far we have come and how much we may yet accomplish in the war against the war on drugs.

Countering Technology Companies’ Crackdown on Alternative Voices

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There was bound to be a major pushback. Widespread use of the internet has helped make all sorts of information much cheaper to create and easier to access. That has been a boon for people seeking to communicate and receive information that would not have been readily available in the days when radio, TV, and newspapers were the overwhelming means of mass distribution of information about current events. At the same time, the internet-facilitated alternative voices boom threatens the interests of people who benefit from limiting the availability of information and commentary about current events to within a much narrower range.

In recent months, big technology companies have accelerated a crackdown on communicating “alternative” news and views via the internet. Much of the early major action was supported by the contrived scare that Russia President Vladimir Putin directed a covert operation to spend a pittance on some Facebook communications about apparently random topics in a wildly-successful scheme to trick the American people into electing Donald Trump as president. Since then, the movement to suppress alternative voices has gained momentum, with major speech suppression successes including, over a brief period of time, a slew of major technology companies denying service to Alex Jones and his popular media operation.

For me, the big tech companies’ speech suppression actions have become personal, threatening the Ron Paul Institute (RPI) for which I am a senior fellow. Earlier this year, the percentage of people who follow RPI at Facebook who Facebook actually allows to see RPI posts on their news feeds plummeted. Before that, RPI’s Ron Paul Liberty Report was hit by YouTube preventing or delaying the display of advertisements with episodes — a change that the show’s co-host and RPI Executive Director Daniel McAdams said “creates enormous financial burdens for the program.” In addition to Alex Jones, who has for a long time supported and regularly interviewed RPI Chairman Ron Paul, Twitter has suspended or purged the Twitter accounts of several other people with connections to Paul or RPI, including McAdams, whose Twitter account was suspended twice in the last few months.

Seeing what was happening to competitors of the “mainstream” media and “establishment” commentators, I knew I should look for additional social media platforms at which I could share my articles, audio show episodes, interviews, and speeches. Facebook and Twitter just were not cutting it. Still, inertia can be hard to overcome. I kept delaying my investigation of alternatives.

I wrote in August about an interview in which Paul declared his hope “that we can have alternatives to the dependency on Twitter and these other companies that have been working hand in glove with the government” in suppressing the communication of alternative news and insights. But, it still took a couple more months for me to take the step of sitting down at a computer and starting accounts at some of the competitors of social media behemoths Facebook and Twitter.

In October, I created pages at Gab, MeWe, Minds, and Steemit. Creating the pages, as well as posting at them in addition to at my Twitter and Facebook pages, has taken some extra time, and I know I am not using any of the pages optimally. Still, I think using the alternative social media websites is an important, worthwhile step.

The question remains whether government and big technology companies will kill off or pay off the competitors of the social media giants. Case in point, this week I have been unable to post at my Gab page. Gab is not closed for maintenance or shut down by a technical glitch. Instead, as Gab Chief Executive Officer Andrew Torba explains in a statement at the Gab home page — and that statement has been for several days the entirety of the Gab website, “Gab has been no-platformed by essential internet infrastructure providers at every level.” Also, PayPal dumped Gab in the last few days, depriving the company of its means of receiving payments.

Torba expresses optimism about the future of Gab, writing in his statement that Gab “isn’t going anywhere” and that “[w]e will exercise every possible avenue to keep Gab online and defend free speech and individual liberty for all people.” More power to him. But, I wonder if Gab can weather the extreme force that appears determined to make the site either shut down or become a speech-limiting clone of Twitter and Facebook.

Will other alternative social media companies face similar pressure to bend to speech restriction or perish? Time will tell. In the meantime, I will keep posting on all my social media pages, hoping that my contribution will help in countering the crackdown on alternative voices.

Tucker Carlson’s Marijuana Malarkey

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In August, Tucker Carlson declared at his Fox News show that it would be an act of war on the United States for the Mexico government to cease engaging in a war on heroin. Carlson even supported his wacky conclusion by pointing to drug overdose deaths in America, despite those deaths in fact being multiplied because of the US war on drugs. On Wednesday, Carlson was back at his show spouting drug war nonsense — this time expressing his dread of marijuana legalization that kicked in this week countrywide in Canada potentially spreading throughout America.

The nonsense starts in the first words Carlson states in his introduction of guest Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project. Carlson begins: “Well Canada has become just the second country in the history of the world to fully legalize the sale of marijuana as well as the recreational consumption.” The inclusion of the phrase “in the history of the world” gives the impression that prohibition has been the norm throughout world history, from thousands of years BC until Uruguay legalized marijuana sales in 2017. Carlson would need look no further than his own country of America to see the ridiculousness of this suggestion. From the founding of the Unites States government in the 1700s through the early 1900s, the national government did not prohibit the sale or use of marijuana. In fact, it did not prohibit the sale or use of other now-illegal drugs such as cocaine either.

Next up, Carlson dwells on the danger that marijuana “makes people less likely to act” and “more passive.” Of course, that is not true across-the-board as marijuana use can help people see things in a new way, leading to innovations in how they act in the future. Think of it as a form of brainstorming aid. It can also serve as rejuvenating relaxation and distraction, as can taking a break from work and chores to listen to music or play a sport. Nevertheless, assuming that Carlson’s assessment is correct, it would just as well be an argument for making illegal many other activities, such as watching a TV sitcom, taking a walk, or playing a card game.

One thing Carlson seems to be trying to argue is that legalization leads to a bunch of people turning into Cheech-and-Chong-style full-time “stoners.” As Tvert responds to Tucker, “that’s like saying everyone who enjoys a cocktail after work with their friends is a lush.” And even if marijuana use makes some people less productive, that is how freedom operates. With freedom, someone can choose to become an overachieving business dynamo or to be mellow, taking time to smell the roses and, maybe, eat a marijuana brownie.

Where Carlson’s comments may be most outrageous in the interview is when he responds to Tvert’s statement that “hundreds of thousands of Americans are arrested every year for marijuana.” Responds Carlson: “No, no one in most places is arrested for a joint.” Here are the numbers Tom Angell at Marijuana Moment derived from US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data: 659,700 marijuana arrests in America in 2017, accounting for 40.4 percent of drug arrests that year and made up mostly of arrests for mere marijuana possession, instead of for selling or growing the plant.

Further, if Carlson’s declaration that Americans are not being arrested for possessing marijuana were true, that would undercut his primary assertion that keeping marijuana illegal is needed to prevent the marijuana zombie apocalypse.

Watch Carlson’s complete interview with Tvert here:



Fundamentally, the reason marijuana should be legal is that people have a right to use it, even if their choosing to use it has negative consequences. But, Carlson makes clear in this Fox News interview that he is not interested in this sort of argument, telling his guest near the end of their discussion, “don’t give me that personal freedom garbage.”

Ron Paul Rewind: The Constitution and Its Rejection by the US Government

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The United States Constitution was ratified 230 years ago this week as the foundational law of the US government, when on June 21, 1788 New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document. In the year 2000, then-United States House of Representatives Member Ron Paul (R-TX) delivered a speech on the House floor titled “A Republic, If You Can Keep It” in which he discussed in detail his thoughts on the Constitution, the individual rights he viewed the document as seeking to protect, and the great extent to which the US government had expanded beyond and rejected constitutional limits.

Paul, who always would ask if legislation he was presented with in the House was authorized by the Constitution, early on in the speech explains:
Our constitutional republic, according to our Founders, should, above all else, protect the rights of the minority against the abuses of an authoritarian majority. They feared democracy as much as monarchy and demanded a weak executive, a restrained court, and a handicapped legislature.
Paul soon after in his speech notes:
The Constitution made it clear that the government was not to interfere with productive non-violent human energy. This is the key element that has permitted America's great achievements. It was a great plan; we should all be thankful for the bravery and wisdom of those who established this nation and secured the Constitution for us. We have been the political and economic envy of the world. We have truly been blessed. The Founders often spoke of "divine providence" and that God willed us this great nation. It has been a grand experiment, but it is important that the fundamental moral premises that underpin this nation are understood and maintained. We as Members of Congress have that responsibility.
Yet, despite the effort of the Founders to ensure respect for liberty, government in America grew much over time, engaging in pervasive rights violations. In his speech, Paul provides many examples of such government action concerning matters from mass surveillance to a high tax system to US government involvement in education to the US monetary system to the increase in executive branch powers to the creation of an “armed national police state” to a policy of foreign interventionism including “global military activism.” In all these instances the US government exercises power to the detriment of liberty and in violation of constitutional limitations. Overall, Paul makes this stark assessment of the situation as of the year 2000:
Almost every daily activity we engage in is monitored or regulated by some government agency. If one attempts to just avoid government harassment, one finds himself in deep trouble with the law.
Paul notes in the speech a contest between people seeking liberty and people seeking power:
In every society there are always those waiting in the wings for an opportunity to show how brilliant they are, as they lust for power, convinced they know what's best for everyone. But the defenders of liberty know that what is best for everyone is to be left alone, with a government limited to stopping aggressive behavior.
Unfortunately, in America the power seekers have won in many ways as government has expanded far beyond constitutional bounds. Indeed, Paul laments in his speech that the Constitution “no longer serves as the guide for the rule of law” and that “[i]n its place we have substituted the rule of man and the special interests.”

Yet, Paul in his 2000 speech, as in his comments since leaving the House and founding the Ron Paul Institute, is optimistic. He suggests toward the end of his speech that liberty proponents, though they “face tough odds,” can win and should work hard for victory. Says Paul:
The grand experiment in human liberty must not be abandoned. A renewed hope and understanding of liberty is what we need as we move into the 21st Century.
In his concluding sentences Paul expresses this aspiration:
Let's hope and pray that our political focus will soon shift toward preserving liberty and individual responsibility and away from authoritarianism. The future of the American Republic depends on it. Let us not forget the American dream depends on keeping alive the spirit of liberty.
Watch Paul’s wide-ranging, thought-provoking speech (in eight parts) here:

Part 1:



Part 2:



Part 3:



Part 4:



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Part 6:



Part 7:



Part 8:

The Texas Republican Party Now Supports Rolling Back Marijuana Prohibition. What’s Next?

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Over the weekend, delegates at the Texas Republican Party’s statewide convention voted by wide margins in favor of several roll-backs of marijuana prohibition. With over 80 percent support, the delegates approved three state party platform planks calling, respectively, for decriminalizing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, moving marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 of the United States government’s Controlled Substances Act, and urging the Texas legislature to “pass legislation allowing cultivation, manufacture, and sale of industrial hemp and hemp products.” A fourth plank, calling for some expansion of the state’s rather limited low-THC cannabis oil medical program, received over 90 percent support.

So what is up next for the state’s marijuana laws? Will the state government adopt the delegates’ proposals? Might legal marijuana even be coming soon to the Lone Star State?

This action by the Texas Republican Party state convention delegates is an indication of how far the movement toward ending the war on marijuana has come in America. Republican politicians, in contrast with the younger segments of Republican voters, tend to oppose rolling back marijuana prohibition. And Texas, where no Democrat has been elected to any of 29 statewide elective offices since 1994, has been reluctant to join the trend of states enacting recreational or medical marijuana legalization.

Polling suggests there is majority public support in Texas for legalization. Further, the state House of Representatives Criminal Jurisprudence Committee’s approval in 2015 of legislation that would treat marijuana the same as tomatoes for adults — a proposal much more radical than anything adopted in any state so far — indicates there is even potential for Texas to leap to the lead in rolling back the war on marijuana, though that legislation did not receive a floor vote by the entire House.

“Everything is bigger in Texas,” the saying goes. Maybe the Republican-majority Texas legislature, looking to the public support for legalization, will decide to bring the 2015 legislation to the state House and Senate floors for votes and live up to that saying.

Whether Texas next adopts radical legalization of marijuana or takes the more moderate steps recommended by the Republican Party state convention delegates, it seems inevitable that Texas will continue, as are other states, to take steps to roll back marijuana prohibition. Indeed, on the local level, roll-backs have been occurring in Texas in recent years, with local prosecutors increasingly deciding to significantly reduce the number of prosecutions they pursue for alleged marijuana law violations.

These and other local action may be the primary course by which much more marijuana prohibition roll-backs will occur in the state. After all, over 80 years after the end of the US government’s alcohol prohibition, a small portion of Texas local governments still have “dry” status due to their restrictions on alcohol sales, though more localities continue moving from “dry” to “wet.”

One thing holding back the liberalization of marijuana laws in Texas is the lack of the ability of voters, via petition, to put binding ballot measures on the Texas statewide ballot. Ballot measures are the means by which medical marijuana and recreational marijuana legalization have been adopted in most states. In two other “conservative” states — Oklahoma and Utah — that do have the means for voters to put such measures on their statewide ballots, we see medical marijuana ballot measures poised to win voters’ approval this year.

Politicians in Austin — the Texas capital — can likely hold out against the countrywide movement for major roll-backs in marijuana prohibition for only a short time longer, especially now that state convention delegates of the state’s dominant party have voted, by wide margins, for taking several significant steps to roll back the prohibition. Further, the days of countrywide marijuana prohibition are numbered, with likely five years or less remaining. Replacing marijuana prohibition, similar to what occurred with alcohol after its countrywide prohibition ended, will probably be a “patchwork quilt” of laws differing from state to state and even from county to county and city to city, with some laws more restrictive than others, but none totally prohibitive. The proper question seems not to be whether or not Texas will legalize marijuana. The question instead is whether Texas will legalize big, small, or local.

A Retirement Community for Drug-sniffing Dogs

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Legalizing marijuana in Illinois would likely cause some drug-sniffing dogs in the state to be killed. That is the claim asserted by Chad Larner, the training director of the K-9 Training Academy in Macon County, Illinois in an in-depth Pantagraph article this week by Ryan Voyles. In Voyles’ article, counterarguments are presented that there will be alternatives to euthanizing such dogs, including involving the dogs continuing to live with their handlers or going through new training. But, assuming such options do not work out for some of the dogs, here is another option that is much better than keeping marijuana legal so some dogs can be saved — send the drug-sniffing dogs to a retirement community for dogs.

Sending drug-sniffing dogs to a retirement community will carry expenses. But, so does the war on marijuana. War on marijuana expenses include the costs of paying police and using police resources — including drug-sniffing dogs — to track down and arrest people for alleged marijuana law violations. Once individuals are arrested, the costs continue to mount with jailing and prosecution expenses. When arrested individuals are found guilty, the costs continue for incarceration or alternative punishments imposed.

The costs are not just on the government’s side. Arrested individuals rack up costs including payments to lawyers, missed work, and even loss of their jobs and homes in the process of asserting their innocence or trying to work out a plea deal. They also suffer with the psychological and physical hardships that come along with being arrested and detained, as well as having the threat of future punishment hanging over them, or the actuality of imposed punishment. Their friends and families tend to suffer as well.

There are also the costs of loss of life and serious injury, both for police and people caught up in marijuana law enforcement, that come with the war on marijuana. Police raids of homes and businesses to enforce marijuana laws, for example, pose great risks to people, and their dogs, present in the raided locales. And the police conducting the raids can as well be at risk of death or injury from individuals startled by the raids and seeking to protect themselves from the surprise, unknown intruders.

Another cost of the war on marijuana is measured in restraint on liberty. Prohibited marijuana-related activities such as growing marijuana, selling marijuana, and consuming marijuana are nonviolent activities. There is no victim. Arguably, some people choosing to be involved in these activities are making bad choices. But, when you respect liberty you must respect the right of people to make nonviolent choices for themselves, whether or not you think those choices are correct. Criticize these choices, educate people about the harms of these choices, choose not to associate with people who make these choices, sure. But, if you use force against people in reaction to these choices, then you are opposing liberty.

It must also be acknowledged that in some cases the use of marijuana is both an exercise of liberty and a generator of positive affects for the individual users and others around him. Think for example of the many people who experience medical benefits from marijuana use. Many individuals could not obtain such benefits from other sources, including pharmaceuticals. People also opt for marijuana use because of its lower cost or lesser negative side-effects compared to other medical options.

Even the liberty of individuals who have no involvement with marijuana is harmed by the war on marijuana. These individuals can be subjected to police actions including searches of their vehicles, raids of their homes, and privacy-invading surveillance undertaken in an effort to enforce marijuana laws. Such violations of liberty in the enforcing of marijuana laws are made more likely by the victimless nature of marijuana law violations. With the absence of a victim, unlike in violent crimes such as murder and assault and in property crimes such as burglary, marijuana enforcement moves to tactics such as pretext car stops, freewheeling stop-and-frisk, home raids based on tips from informants, and surveillance to nab possible law violators.

Further, some people, including people with no involvement with marijuana, are targeted by police and prosecutors via asset seizures that can be undertaken based on just a suspicion of property having a connection to a drug law violation. The property is seized, and the owner is left to pursue attempting to disprove the connection or, likely due to lack of resources or will to put in the effort on what may be a hopeless cause, just walk away from the legalized theft. Showing how crooked the whole process is, sometimes the property owner will be able to make a deal to receive back a portion of seized money in exchange for a promise to take no further legal action in the matter. It is not about guilt or innocence. It is not about justice. It is about grabbing the car, the cash, et cetera.

The safety of individuals also suffers due to the war on marijuana, as well as the broader war on drugs, because prohibition pushes actions into the black market where force is often used to deal with matters that in legal markets are handled peacefully. An example of such violence is attacks by rival drug gangs upon each other related to control of territory. People who happen to be nearby can be hurt and killed in such violence. And such violence can turn a good neighborhood bad.

Drug users are at risk in the black market of receiving drugs of unpredictable content and effects. Overdoses related to the inclusion of fentanyl in drugs is a recent example of the risk. If drugs were legal, such risk would generally disappear as individuals could buy their drugs from stores just as they do with beer, wine, and liquor countrywide, with the products coming from known companies and having predictable potency. Similarly, the situation is developing where stores sell known, predictable medical and recreational marijuana in the states that have legalized such.

Also, states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana have imposed taxes on the newly created market. Legalizing marijuana thus becomes not just a money-saver for governments. It also becomes a money-maker.

So, enough with the threats of “keep marijuana illegal or these dogs will die.” Without even taking into account the benefits to liberty and reduced costs to people generally that come with legalization. the vast amount of money saved by government by ending the war on marijuana, as well as the new money gained from taxes on legal marijuana, is many multiples more than the costs that could arguably come from sending some drug-sniffing dogs to a retirement community — even a luxury retirement community with superlative accommodations and medical care.

That drug-sniffing dogs must die in the absence of prohibition will not become a real problem unless government chooses to make it so. Legalization will free up money to pay for dogs’ care if necessary, and charitable organizations would probably be happy to take on helping such dogs at no cost to government, just as they do for wild, dangerous animals such as tigers.

Indeed, the killing of dogs threat is reminiscent of the claim a few years back from a police union leader in New York City that reducing marijuana arrests would be the “beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society.” In both cases, the best course is to not believe the hype. Civilization and the drug-sniffing dogs should be just fine without the war on marijuana.

Privacy Denied: Students May Bring Only Clear Backpacks to School

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KERA radio in Dallas, Texas aired a news report this week relating that the Ennis school district in North Texas, starting in the fall semester, will allow students at district schools from prekindergarten through high school to bring only “clear, PVC backpacks to school.” The school district also is implementing right away mandatory backpack searches on middle and high school students. Plus, police dogs will be on campuses more often.

Making a typical excuse for the new anti-privacy school district policies, Ennis Police Chief John Erisman said in a report on the Dallas NBC television station that “anything that’s gonna keep our kids safe, our students safe — if we have to deal with a mild inconvenience in order for our kids to be safer, I am all for that.”

In announcing the clear backpack requirement, the school district is following in the footsteps of Broward County school district in Florida that, Dakin Andone reported earlier this month at CNN, imposed on students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a clear backpacks mandate in the name of enhanced security after a mass murder occurred earlier this year at the school.

These privacy-invading actions are just the beginning. Both school districts are adopting further requirements including that students wear IDs on campuses. Also, KERA reports that the Ennis school district will install security gates at its schools, while the CNN story relates that metal detectors and metal detector wands may be used at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Each morning students can be welcomed to school by being herded through a security checkpoint. Hopefully, there will be a lower level of harassment at the schools than is imposed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airports and elsewhere.

There would be plenty of reason for students and parents to object to the establishing of such policies by a private school as well. Yet, parents and students in such a situation have the alternative, upon hearing of the policy changes, to bolt and move their tuition dollars to another school that better respects students’ privacy. At the Texas and Florida schools, the situation is worse because these are government schools that are paid for with tax dollars extracted via threat of force and are populated with students with the help of truancy laws ultimately enforced by armed government agents.

The situation with government schools’ oppressive policies justified as “security” is grim. And, as Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead suggested in a recent editorial, the situation has bad implications for the future in America:
Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters—which one would hope would be the objective of the schools—government officials seem determined to churn out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.
Here is something students, their parents, and the people whose tax money is extracted to fund government schools can do to resist the dictates and fight for freedom: Tell the government and its schools that it is none of their business what is in students’ backpacks and pockets.

Ron Paul and Jacob Hornberger to Speak at Foreign Policy Conference in Charleston, South Carolina

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Ron Paul and Jocob G. Hornberger — two of the premier voices for peace in America — will speak at a foreign policy conference next month hosted jointly by Paul and Hornberger’s respective educational organizations — the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity (RPI) and the Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF). The Sunday, April 29 conference titled “Non-intervention: America’s Original Foreign Policy” will take place from 1:00pm to 5:00pm in Charleston, South Carolina.

In addition to Paul and Hornberger, speakers at the conference will include RPI Executive Director and Ron Paul Liberty Report co-host Daniel McAdams, as well as Richard M. Ebeling, a professor at The Citadel military college. Ebeling, together with Hornberger, hosts FFF’s The Libertarian Angle show.

Tickets for the conference are just five dollars and can be purchased here. The afternoon event will take place at the Mills House, a Wyndham Grand Hotel in Charleston’s historic district. Complimentary coffee, tea, and other beverages will be provided for conference attendees.

Students may attend the conference for free if they register in advance here.