ANNUAL KEEP TBP FIGHTING INTERNET-A-THON

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Posted on 24th January 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Operators are standing by.

You may or may not have noticed the Keep TBP Fighting Thermometer has dropped back down to $0 again. You see, the bills to keep this site running and protected from the government and whoever tried to silence it last year keep coming month after month. My cost to run the site has gone up by a factor of 10 in the last two years.

Olimometer 2.52

During the denial of service attack last year, I was only hours from pulling the plug on the site. But, a like minded fellow blogger – Mike Krieger – contacted me and put me in touch with The Man With No Name.

He singlehandedly fought off the dastardly denial of service outlaws (Google?) and generously agreed to house our site on his server. You may have noticed the site has run like a well oiled clock since he assumed command behind the scenes. But good safe service comes at a cost.

The generosity of the regulars from TBP and complete strangers who never comment was overwhelming and heartwarming. The letters and notes of support all sit on my desk next to my computer. They have gone a long way in keeping me toiling away trying to uncover the truth and providing a forum where like minded citizens can learn and discuss ideas. I’ve learned so much from the TBP community.

So, firstly I’d like to thank everyone who has made a contribution in the past to Keep TBP Fighting. There are a dedicated cadre of TBP members who contribute every month. I’d love to do a shout out personally to every person who has contributed, but that would make it easier for DHS to track you down when the SHTF. So I’ll keep that private.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

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Posted on 20th January 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition for power or wealth, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.”

Marcus Aurelius

If the Fed Has Nothing to Hide, It Has Nothing to Fear

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Posted on 19th January 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, the dollar has lost over 97 percent of its purchasing power, the US economy has been subjected to a series of painful Federal Reserve-created recessions and depressions, and government has grown to dangerous levels thanks to the Fed’s policy of monetizing the debt. Yet the Federal Reserve still operates under a congressionally-created shroud of secrecy.No wonder almost 75 percent of the American public supports legislation to audit the Federal Reserve.The new Senate leadership has pledged to finally hold a vote on the audit bill this year, but, despite overwhelming public support, passage of this legislation is by no means assured.

The reason it may be difficult to pass this bill is that the 25 percent of Americans who oppose it represent some of the most powerful interests in American politics. These interests are working behind the scenes to kill the bill or replace it with a meaningless “compromise.” This “compromise” may provide limited transparency, but it would still keep the American people from learning the full truth about the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy.

Some opponents of the bill say an audit would somehow compromise the Fed’s independence. Those who make this claim cannot point to anything in the text of the bill giving Congress any new authority over the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy. More importantly, the idea that the Federal Reserve is somehow independent of political considerations is laughable. Economists often refer to the political business cycle, where the Fed adjusts its policies to help or hurt incumbent politicians. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns exposed the truth behind the propaganda regarding Federal Reserve independence when he said, if the chairman didn’t do what the president wanted, the Federal Reserve “would lose its independence.”

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Ron Paul: “Lessons From Paris”

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Posted on 13th January 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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After the tragic shooting at a provocative magazine in Paris last week, I pointed out that given the foreign policy positions of France we must consider blowback as a factor. Those who do not understand blowback made the ridiculous claim that I was excusing the attack or even blaming the victims. Not at all, as I abhor the initiation of force. The police blaming victims when they search for the motive of a criminal.

The mainstream media immediately decided that the shooting was an attack on free speech. Many in the US preferred this version of “they hate us because we are free,” which is the claim that President Bush made after 9/11. They expressed solidarity with the French and vowed to fight for free speech. But have these people not noticed that the First Amendment is routinely violated by the US government? President Obama has used the Espionage Act more than all previous administrations combined to silence and imprison whistleblowers. Where are the protests? Where are protesters demanding the release of John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on the CIA use of waterboarding and other torture? The whistleblower went to prison while the torturers will not be prosecuted. No protests.

If Islamic extremism is on the rise, the US and French governments are at least partly to blame. The two Paris shooters had reportedly spent the summer in Syria fighting with the rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Assad. They were also said to have recruited young French Muslims to go to Syria and fight Assad. But France and the United States have spent nearly four years training and equipping foreign fighters to infiltrate Syria and overthrow Assad! In other words, when it comes to Syria, the two Paris killers were on “our” side. They may have even used French or US weapons while fighting in Syria.

Beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s, the US and its allies have deliberately radicalized Muslim fighters in the hopes they would strictly fight those they are told to fight. We learned on 9/11 that sometimes they come back to fight us. The French learned the same thing last week. Will they make better decisions knowing the blowback from such risky foreign policy? It is unlikely because they refuse to consider blowback. They prefer to believe the fantasy that they attack us because they hate our freedoms, or that they cannot stand our free speech.

Perhaps one way to make us all more safe is for the US and its allies to stop supporting these extremists.

Another lesson from the attack is that the surveillance state that has arisen since 9/11 is very good at following, listening to, and harassing the rest of us but is not very good at stopping terrorists. We have learned that the two suspected attackers had long been under the watch of US and French intelligence services. They had reportedly been placed on the US no-fly list and at least one of them had actually been convicted in 2008 of trying to travel to Iraq to fight against the US occupation. According to CNN, the two suspects traveled to Yemen in 2011 to train with al-Qaeda. So they were individuals known to have direct terrorist associations. How many red flags is it necessary to set off before action is taken? How long did US and French intelligence know about them and do nothing, and why?

Foreign policy actions have consequences. The aggressive foreign policies of the United States and its allies in the Middle East have radicalized thousands and have made us less safe. Blowback is real whether some want to recognize it or not. There are no guarantees of security, but only a policy of non-intervention can reduce the risk of another attack.

Ron Paul: Inner City Turmoil and Other Crises: My Predictions for 2015

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Posted on 11th January 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Guest Post by Ron Paul

If Americans were honest with themselves they would acknowledge that the Republic is no more. We now live in a police state. If we do not recognize and resist this development, freedom and prosperity for all Americans will continue to deteriorate. All liberties in America today are under siege.It didn’t happen overnight. It took many years of neglect for our liberties to be given away so casually for a promise of security from the politicians.

The tragic part is that the more security was promised — physical and economic — the less liberty was protected.With cradle-to-grave welfare protecting all citizens from any mistakes and a perpetual global war on terrorism, which a majority of Americans were convinced was absolutely necessary for our survival, our security and prosperity has been sacrificed.It was all based on lies and ignorance. Many came to believe that their best interests were served by giving up a little freedom now and then to gain a better life.

The trap was set. At the beginning of a cycle that systematically undermines liberty with delusions of easy prosperity, the change may actually seem to be beneficial to a few. But to me that’s like excusing embezzlement as a road to leisure and wealth — eventually payment and punishment always come due. One cannot escape the fact that a society’s wealth cannot be sustained or increased without work and productive effort. Yes, some criminal elements can benefit for a while, but reality always sets in.Reality is now setting in for America and for that matter for most of the world.

The piper will get his due even if “the children” have to suffer. The deception of promising “success” has lasted for quite a while. It was accomplished by ever-increasing taxes, deficits, borrowing, and printing press money. In the meantime the policing powers of the federal government were systematically and significantly expanded. No one cared much, as there seemed to be enough “gravy” for the rich, the poor, the politicians, and the bureaucrats.

Warfare/Welfare State Requires Police Control

As the size of government grew and cracks in the system became readily apparent, a federal police force was needed to regulate our lives and the economy, as well as to protect us from ourselves and make sure the redistribution of a shrinking economic pie was “fair” to all. Central economic planning requires an economic police force to monitor every transaction of all Americans. Special interests were quick to get governments to regulate everything we put in our bodies: food, medications, and even politically correct ideas. IRS employees soon needed to carry guns to maximize revenue collections.

The global commitment to perpetual war, though present for decades, exploded in size and scope after 9/11. If there weren’t enough economic reasons to monitor everything we did, fanatics used the excuse of national security to condition the American people to accept total surveillance of all by the NSA, the TSA, FISA courts, the CIA, and the FBI. The people even became sympathetic to our government’s policy of torture.

The predictable poverty that results from such a terrible system is now upon us and is a strong motivation for the militarization of local police as part of the expansion of the national police state. Temporary and perceived benefits of government overreach and expanded policing powers end up becoming the real problem. By the time it is understood that these “benefits” are artificial, government power and special interests have gained control of a system designed to serve them and not the people the programs were purported to help. The victims are left hanging and taught that too much freedom is the source of the problem, prompting even more support for the policing power of the state.

Today the failure of central economic planning and of the US as world policeman is everywhere to be found. This is especially noticeable in the police war on the lawbreakers — real and unreal — in America. The failures of social and economic policy of the past 50 years have led to a mounting friction between the local police and the rights of the people. Local police have been militarized and have become an integral part of the national police state. A police culture that accepts the principle of initiating unjustified violence against citizens has become a serious problem.

The news is constant. If it’s not Ferguson, it’s New York City. If not New York City, it’s Chicago or Detroit or Cleveland. And I believe the violence in our cities is only in its early stages. We had a taste of the conflict in the 1960s, but the fundamental values of equal justice and economic opportunity have receded further from reality. Failing to understand why the past 50 years of government expansion to eradicate poverty has only worsened the conditions of our cities will guarantee that the violent conflicts we see erupting today will only get worse.

Fight for Equal Protection Distorted by ‘War on Poverty’

Fifty years ago, as a result of Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership in a plea for equal justice, LBJ declared war on poverty. Poverty was seen at that time as the major contributing factor in the plight of those living in the inner city. King’s dream was to make sure all people will be judged by the “content of their character” and not by “the color of their skin.” Good advice, but it was never followed. Residual racism remains, but the excuse for every shortcoming in the failed cities is said to be due to the color of one’s skin.

The very expensive war on poverty has after 50 years only made matters worse, compounding the problems of poverty and inflation while hurting most of the people the “war” was supposed to help. Currently our government spends over $1 trillion per year on anti-poverty programs. Over the past 50 years, over $16 trillion was spent, i.e., wasted. And yet poverty and dire economic conditions remain the major factor in the violence that persists, which incites or gives the police the excuse to overreact to maintain order. The plans and expectations for the war on poverty must have been seriously flawed.

Although the degree of poverty is different for the various races in the United States, all categories — Asian, white, Hispanic, and black — have had a steady increase in real median income from 1964 until the year 2000, when the first of many bubbles started bursting. In all four race categories incomes are lower since then. With the economy moving into the next stage of liquidation of bad investment and debt, we should expect this trend to continue. Economic setbacks and a decrease in real income are not limited to blacks in the inner city. The setback for the young has been dramatically worse than for the older generations, aggravating the problem of violent crime in our cities.

The “progress” of the early years of the war on poverty is understandable because the payment that always must be paid was delayed. The deficits and the borrowing and printing of money were unsustainable. It should not be difficult to understand that the welfare benefits, the bloated government, the excessive salaries, and the promised pensions for thousands of nonproductive bureaucrats in Detroit would lead to bankruptcy. The benefits had to be reduced. If policies don’t change and the politicians continue to be elected by wild promises, the disaster will continue. How can the provocateurs blame racism for the plight of the middle class in Detroit?

We must get people to reject flawed economic policy if we want a real war on poverty. LBJ’s war on poverty was no more successful than his Vietnam War — or any war since, for that matter. A national government that can print money as needed to finance extraordinary extravagance can function longer than a city, state, or private entity, but it too must eventually “file for bankruptcy” albeit in a different fashion. As we are now seeing, the bankruptcy of a nation also involves poverty for many. This situation will continue to worsen. Since poverty is a major contributing factor to the violence of excessive police militarization, some fundamentals must be understood. The economic theories of Paul Samuelson, Paul Krugman, John Maynard Keynes, and all those who claim to know how to “regulate” the economy to benefit the poor, must be challenged and abandoned.

So far reality has not yet set in. The poor grow in numbers as the middle class shrinks and the privileged class that benefits from government spending and government control of the monetary system thrives. The political demagogues and the authoritarians feed the flames of resentment that develop between the rich and the poor as class warfare and racial strife take over. They care little and understand less what liberty is all about — the more chaos there is, the more laws they seek to pass.

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Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Congress

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Posted on 8th January 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Guest Post by Ron Paul
Since New Year’s is traditionally a time for resolutions, and since the new Congress convenes this week, I thought I would suggest some New Year’s resolutions for Congress:

1) Bring the troops home — Congress should take the first, and most important, step toward ending our hyper-interventionist foreign policy by bringing our troops home and closing all overseas military facilities. The American people can no longer afford to bear the cost of empire.

2) Pass the Audit the Fed bill — The American people deserve to know the entire truth about how the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy benefits big-spending politicians and financial elites while harming average Americans.

3) Repeal the PATRIOT Act and rein in the National Security Agency — It is approaching two years since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the NSA’s unconstitutional spying. Yet Congress still refuses to put a leash on the surveillance state. Congress should take the first step toward restoring respect for the Fourth Amendment by allowing Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to expire.

4) Shut down the Transportation Security Administration — Treating all American air travelers as criminal suspects and subjecting them to intrusive and humiliating searches does nothing to enhance our security. Congress should shut down TSA and return responsibility for airline security to the airlines. Private businesses can effectively protect their customers and employees if the government gets out of the way.

5) End all corporate welfare — Federal programs that provide subsidies or other special benefits to politically-connected businesses cause economic inequality, distort the market, and waste taxpayer money. It also makes political and moral sense to cut welfare for the rich before cutting welfare for the poor. Congress should start dismantling the corporate welfare state by killing the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Congress should also reject legislation proposed to benefit one industry or individual, such as Sheldon Adelson’s Internet gambling ban.

6) Repeal and Replace Obamacare — Many Americans are losing their insurance while others are facing increasing health care costs because of Obamacare. Repealing Obamacare is only a first step. Congress should both repeal all federal policies that distort the health care market and restore a true free market in health care.

7) End police militarization — The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August brought the issue of police militarization to the center of national debate. Congress must end all federal programs that provide military equipment to local police forces.

8) Shut down the Department of Education — It is no coincidence that education in America has declined as federal control over education has increased. Congress should de-fund all federal education programs and return control over education to local communities and parents.

9) Allow individuals to opt out — A positive step toward restoring a free society would be allowing individuals to opt out of Obamacare and other federal mandates. Young people should also be granted the ability to opt out of paying Social Security and Medicare taxes in exchange for agreeing to never accept Social Security and Medicare benefits.

10) Allow state governments to opt out — If Congress lacks the votes to end the war on drugs, repeal Obamacare, or roll back other unconstitutional federal programs, it should at least respect the rights of states to set their own policies in these areas. Federal prohibition of state laws nullifying Obamacare or legalizing marijuana turns the Tenth Amendment upside down.

By adopting these resolutions, Congress can make 2015 the year America begins reversing the long, slow slide toward authoritarianism, empire, national bankruptcy, and economic decline.

This article contributed courtesy of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

THE INFLATION TAX

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Posted on 3rd January 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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All government spending represents a tax. The inflation tax, while largely ignored, hurts middle-class and low-income Americans the most. Simply put, printing money to pay for federal spending dilutes the value of the dollar, which causes higher prices for goods and services. Inflation may be an indirect tax, but it is very real- the individuals who suffer most from cost of living increases certainly pay a “tax.”

Unfortunately no one in Washington, especially those who defend the poor and the middle class, cares about this subject. Instead, all we hear is that tax cuts for the rich are the source of every economic ill in the country. Anyone truly concerned about the middle class suffering from falling real wages, under-employment, a rising cost of living, and a decreasing standard of living should pay a lot more attention to monetary policy. Federal spending, deficits, and Federal Reserve mischief hurt the poor while transferring wealth to the already rich. This is the real problem, and raising taxes on those who produce wealth will only make conditions worse.

Borrowing money to cut the deficit is only marginally better than raising taxes. It may delay the pain for a while, but the cost of government eventually must be paid. Federal borrowing means the cost of interest is added, shifting the burden to a different group than those who benefited and possibly even to another generation. Eventually borrowing is always paid for through taxation.

The third option is for the Federal Reserve to create credit to pay the bills Congress runs up. Nobody objects, and most Members hope that deficits don’t really matter if the Fed accommodates Congress by creating more money. Besides, interest payments to the Fed are lower than they would be if funds were borrowed from the public, and payments can be delayed indefinitely merely by creating more credit out of thin air to buy U.S. treasuries. No need to soak the rich. A good deal, it seems, for everyone. But is it?

The “tax” is paid when prices rise as the result of a depreciating dollar. Savers and those living on fixed or low incomes are hardest hit as the cost of living rises. Low and middle incomes families suffer the most as they struggle to make ends meet while wealth is literally transferred from the middle class to the wealthy. Government officials stick to their claim that no significant inflation exists, even as certain necessary costs are skyrocketing and incomes are stagnating.

The transfer of wealth comes as savers and fixed income families lose purchasing power, large banks benefit, and corporations receive plush contracts from the government– as is the case with military contractors. These companies use the newly printed money before it circulates, while the middle class is forced to accept it at face value later on. This becomes a huge hidden tax on the middle class, many of whom never object to government spending in hopes that the political promises will be fulfilled and they will receive some of the goodies. But surprise- it doesn’t happen. The result instead is higher prices for prescription drugs, energy, and other necessities. The freebies never come.

The moral of the story is that spending is always a tax. The inflation tax, though hidden, only makes things worse. Taxing, borrowing, and inflating to satisfy wealth transfers from the middle class to the rich in an effort to pay for profligate government spending, can never make a nation wealthier. But it certainly can make it poorer.

Ron Paul – July 2006


The Real Meaning of the 1914 Christmas Truce

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Posted on 28th December 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Guest Post by Ron Paul

One hundred years ago last week, on Christmas Eve, 1914, German and British soldiers emerged from the horrors of World War One trench warfare to greet each other, exchange food and gifts, and to wish each other a Merry Christmas. What we remember now as the “Christmas Truce” began with soldiers singing Christmas carols together from in the trenches. Eventually the two sides climbed out of the trenches and met in person. In the course of this two day truce, which lasted until December 26, 1914, the two sides also exchanged prisoners, buried their dead, and even played soccer with each other.

How amazing to think that the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace could bring a brief pause in one of the most destructive wars in history. How sad that it was not to last.The Christmas Truce showed that given the choice, people do not want to be out fighting and killing each other. It is incredibly damaging to most participants in war to face the task of killing their fellow man. That is one reason we see today an epidemic of PTSD and suicides among US soldiers sent overseas on multiple deployments.

The Christmas Truce in 1914 was joyous for the soldiers, but it was dangerous for the political leadership on both sides. Such fraternization with the “enemy” could not be tolerated by the war-makers. Never again was the Christmas Truce repeated on such a scale, as the governments of both sides explicitly prohibited any repeat of such a meeting. Those who had been greeting each other had to go back to killing each other on orders from those well out of harm’s way.

As much as governments would like to stamp out such humanization of the “enemy,” it is still the case today that soldiers on the ground will meet and share thoughts with those they are meant to be killing. Earlier this month, soldiers from opposing sides of the Ukraine civil war met in eastern Ukraine to facilitate the transfer of supplies and the rotation of troops. They shook hands and wished that the war would be over. One army battalion commander was quoted as saying at the meeting, “I think it’s a war between brothers that nobody wants. The top brass should sort things out. And us? We are soldiers, we do what we’re told.”

I am sure these same sentiments exist in many of the ongoing conflicts that are pushed by the governments involved — and in many cases by third party governments seeking to benefit from the conflict.

The encouraging message we should take from the Christmas Truce of 100 years ago is that given the opportunity, most humans do not wish to kill each other. As Nazi leader Hermann Goring said during the Nuremberg war crimes trials, “naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany.” But, as he added, “the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

This is where our efforts must be focused. To oppose all war propaganda perpetrated by governments against the will of the people.

For Truly Better Relations with Cuba, Open the Door and Get Out of the Way!

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Posted on 22nd December 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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President Obama took a bold and surprising step toward ending the futile 50 year US embargo of Cuba. The president announced he would begin normalizing relations, including upgrading the diplomatic mission in Havana to embassy status. The president also said he was taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information between the US and Cuba.President Obama said that the half-century US embargo of Cuba was an “outdated approach” that “failed to advance our interests.” He rightly noted that decades of US sanctions have “had little effect.”He noted, as I have often pointed out, that the US has had economic and diplomatic relations with communist China for 35 years and has even established productive relations with a Vietnam, where the US fought a brutal war just over four decades ago.I was delighted to see the president make such a dramatic foreign policy move that will result in more freedom and liberty for Americans. I have always believed that the US embargo of Cuba was primarily an anti-American policy, as the US government has no business telling Americans with whom they can trade or visit. Of course the average Cuban suffered greatly under the inhuman US embargo of their country, and I hope this policy shift may result in better lives for them as well.

What is particularly encouraging about this move is that the 50 year freeze in US/Cuba relations was thawed by a simple telephone call between President Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro. I have opposed the isolationist policies of sanctions and embargoes and have encouraged US presidents to simply use diplomacy – even a simple telephone call – to clear up differences. There is a lesson in this for similarly tense US relations with Iran, Russia, Syria, and others.

I am optimistic about this policy shift by the US government but I am also very cautious.

Permitting travel to and trade with Cuba is a step in the right direction, but if the US government uses this opening to increase its meddling in internal Cuban affairs it will be one step forward and one step back. We have recently read of yet another hare-brained scheme by the US Agency for International Development to foment regime change in Cuba, this time by co-opting Cuban musicians. Before that, the US was funneling money to NGOs to create a phony Twitter program that was supposed to overthrow the Cuban government. Improving relations should not be seen as a Trojan horse to infiltrate more regime change NGOs into Cuba.

Some neoconservatives are applauding this policy shift for that very reason. Max Boot, a well-known neocon war advocate, praised Obama’s Cuba shift in Commentary Magazine today. His reasoning was very different than ours, however. Without shame or embarrassment, Boot thought the opening would provide excellent cover for increased US subversion activities inside Cuba – under the cover of “human rights” advocacy. He wrote:

The restoration of diplomatic relations will, in any case, deliver some benefits to the U.S. by allowing us to beef up the staff of the American interests section in Havana, thus increasing our ability to (at least in theory) subvert the regime through the promotion of human rights.

President Obama also seemed to suggest that the US would continue meddling in internal Cuban affairs, stating that the United States “will continue to support the civil society” in Cuba. That likely means a deal to allow US NGOs in to Cuba to work toward regime change.

I have a better suggestion if the US truly wants Cuba to become a free and prosperous country: the US government should completely remove all restrictions on US citizens and then step aside. American tourists, businessmen, students, and scholars can do far more to promote real American values than bureaucrats, government-funded NGOs, and US-funded propaganda broadcasts.

A better future for the United States and Cuba simply requires our government opening the door and getting the heck out of the way!