Internet Gambling Ban: A Winner for Sheldon Adelson, A Losing Bet for the Rest of Us

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Posted on 17th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Most Americans, regardless of ideology, oppose “crony capitalism” or “cronyism.” Cronyism is where politicians write laws aimed at helping their favored business beneficiaries. Despite public opposition to cronyism, politicians still seek to use the legislative process to help special interests.

For example, Congress may soon vote on legislation outlawing Internet gambling. It is an open secret, at least inside the Beltway, that this legislation is being considered as a favor to billionaire casino owner, Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson, who is perhaps best known for using his enormous wealth to advance a pro-war foreign policy, is now using his political influence to turn his online competitors into criminals.

Supporters of an Internet gambling ban publicly deny they are motivated by a desire to curry favor with a wealthy donor. Instead, they give a number of high-minded reasons for wanting to ban this activity. Some claim that legalizing online gambling will enrich criminals and even terrorists! But criminalizing online casinos will not eliminate the demand for online casinos. Instead, passage of this legislation will likely guarantee that the online gambling market is controlled by criminals. Thus, it is those who support outlawing online gambling who may be aiding criminals and terrorists.

A federal online gambling ban would overturn laws in three states that allow online gambling. It would also end the ongoing debate over legalizing online gambling in many other states. Yet some have claimed that Congress must pass this law in order to protect states rights! Their argument is that citizens of states that ban Internet gambling may easily get around those laws by accessing online casinos operating in states where online gambling is legalized.

Even if the argument had merit that allowing states to legalize online gambling undermines laws in other states, it would not justify federal legislation on the issue. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given any authority to regulate activities such as online gambling. Arguing that “states rights” justifies creating new federal crimes turns the Tenth Amendment, which was intended to limit federal power, on its head.

Many supporters of an Internet gambling ban sincerely believe that gambling is an immoral and destructive activity that should be outlawed. However, the proposed legislation is not at all about the morality of gambling. It is about whether Americans who do gamble should have the choice to do so online, or be forced to visit brick-and-mortar casinos.

Even if there was some moral distinction between gambling online or in a physical casino, prohibiting behavior that does not involve force or fraud has no place in a free society. It is no more appropriate for gambling opponents to use force to stop people from playing poker online than it would be for me to use force to stop people from reading pro-war, neocon writers.

Giving government new powers over the Internet to prevent online gambling will inevitably threaten all of our liberties. Government bureaucrats will use this new authority to expand their surveillance of the Internet activities of Americans who have no interest in gambling, just as they used the new powers granted by the PATRIOT Act to justify mass surveillance.

The proposed ban on Internet gambling is a blatantly unconstitutional infringement on our liberties that will likely expand the surveillance state. Worst of all, it is all being done for the benefit of one powerful billionaire. Anyone who thinks banning online gambling will not diminish our freedoms while enriching criminals is making a losing bet.

What The Mid-Term Elections Really Mean For Peace and Liberty

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Posted on 10th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Did the election last week really mean that much? I took to my Twitter account on Tuesday to point out that the change in control of the Senate from Democrat to Republican actually means very little, despite efforts by politicians and the mainstream media to convince us otherwise. Yes, power shifted, I wrote. But the philosophy on Capitol Hill changed very little. The warfare/welfare state is still alive and well in Washington.Some were critical of my comment that, “Republican control of the Senate equals expanded neo-con wars in Syria and Iraq. Boots on the ground are coming!”But unfortunately my fears were confirmed even sooner than I thought. Shortly after the vote, President Obama announced that he would double the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq and request another $5.6 billion to fight his war in the Middle East.

The President also said on Wednesday that he would seek a new authorization for the use of force in Iraq and Syria. He said that a new authorization was needed to reflect, “not just our strategy over the next two or three months, but our strategy going forward.”

That sounds like boots on the ground in an endless war.

Senate Democrats had been competing with Republicans over who would push a more aggressive foreign policy. This may explain their miserable showing on Tuesday: it is likely the honest, antiwar progressives just stayed home on election night. But with the Republican victory bringing to leadership the most hawkish of the neoconservatives like John McCain, the only fight over the President’s request to re-invade Iraq will be Republican demands that he send in even more soldiers and weapons!

Likewise, the incoming Republicans in the Senate have expressed a foolhardy desire to continue resurrecting the Cold War. They demand that Russia be further sanctioned even as the original reason for the sanctions – claims that Russia was behind the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 – has been shown to be false. They want to send weapons to the US-backed government in Ukraine even through it will result in more civilians killed in east Ukraine. Their dangerous Russia policy may even turn the new Cold War into a hot war, which would be catastrophic.

On the domestic front, I do not hold out much hope that the next Congress will give more than lip service to reducing spending. What is more likely is Republicans will support dramatic increases in welfare spending as long warfare spending is increased by an equivalent, or greater, amount. That is what is called “compromise” in Washington.

One positive development from Tuesday is the slightly improved chance for a roll-call vote on “Audit the Fed.” Most of the Senators who are likely to assume leadership roles next year are co-sponsors of the bill. However, special interests that benefit from Fed secrecy are very influential in both parties, so it will be up to the people to continue to pressure Congress for a Senate vote.

Elsewhere, there may also be some rollbacks and reforms of some of the worst parts of ObamaCare, but a full repeal of the bill is unlikely. This is not just because there are still not the votes to override an inevitable veto. The insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies that benefit from ObamaCare are equally influential in both parties and have very deep pockets.

I ended my comments on election night by pointing out that while it may have been an important election, it was not most important ever. Ideas are what really count. And that is where we are winning!

NYPD Union Leader: Reducing Marijuana Arrests is “Beginning of the Breakdown of a Civilized Society”

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Posted on 9th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Reported efforts to begin following through on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 election promise to reduce marijuana arrests in the city has distressed Sergeants Benevolent Association police union President Ed Mullins. Mullins is quoted Wednesday in the New York Post lamenting that “If the current practice of making arrests for both possession and sale of marijuana is, in fact, abandoned, then this is clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society.”

The city’s apparent move to reduce the number of marijuana arrests comes soon after an October joint report of the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Research Project publicized that the number of marijuana possession arrests in New York City were on track to remain the same under de Blasio’s leadership, or even increase, compared to arrests under Michael Bloomberg, the preceding mayor.

Of course, the truth is that there is nothing civilized about arresting people and throwing them in jail for making the choice to use, buy, or sell marijuana. Such choices have been tolerated or accepted in much of the world for centuries and were legal under United States law for the majority of the nation’s history. US legal prohibitions and punishments were imposed in the 20th century, including with the enactment of laws such as the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and marijuana’s inclusion in schedule one of Controlled Substances Act of 1970, thus applying the most expansive level of prohibition to actions involving the plant. In contrast, looking further back to the origins of the US, we find that Founding Fathers grew hemp on their farms, including George Washington at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.

A time traveler from the American 1800s, when marijuana and other now-illegal drugs were legally grown, bought, sold, and ingested, would likely find perplexing the comment that it is uncivilized to refrain from arresting and jailing people for such peaceful activities and commerce. Indeed, such a time traveler would probably immediately recognize that it is instead the police-state approach exhibited in Mullins’ comment and demonstrated each day in the enforcement of the drug war that is uncivilized.

But, Mullins need not talk with a time traveler; he can witness himself in the states of Colorado and Washington, and soon more American jurisdictions, that even legalizing marijuana is not a step away from civilization.

It is hard to believe that Mullins really believes his dire warning. Instead, as with the response of other drug war beneficiaries to marijuana prohibition rollbacks, Mullins is probably making his Chicken Little pronouncement in a desperate attempt to keep the war on marijuana easy money flowing in spite of the apparently unstoppable move toward nationwide marijuana legalization. Mullins is a police union leader after all.

Mullins also reveals a broader agenda behind his support for continuing the high number of New York City marijuana arrests when he comments in the Post article, “If we’re not making marijuana arrests, then we may not pop someone who has a warrant on them or who committed felony crimes.” Indeed, the drug war exception to the Fourth Amendment and to similar state restraints on police action has proven a convenient path to abusing people with impunity. And, when you put enough people through the wringer, you will find a person here and there with a warrant or who you can book for a crime.

One of those “crimes” the Post article reports is often uncovered in the city’s marijuana policing is illegal gun possession—a victimless crime just like marijuana possession.

As a candidate, de Blasio both criticized Bloomberg for being too severe in the pursuit of marijuana law violators and said, “amen for what [Bloomberg] did on gun control. I think we should go the next step.” Might the next step include replacing the marijuana pretext for city police abusing people with a gun pretext? We can hope not. But, the city taking that step may give Mullins some hope for preserving the warped “civilized society” he cherishes—at least in New York City.

Ron Paul Says: Watch the Petrodollar

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Posted on 5th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy

Ron Paul Says: Watch the Petrodollar

By Nick Giambruno, Senior Editor, InternationalMan.com

The chaos that one day will ensue from our 35-year experiment with worldwide fiat money will require a return to money of real value. We will know that day is approaching when oil-producing countries demand gold, or its equivalent, for their oil rather than dollars or euros. The sooner the better.—Ron Paul

Dr. Paul is referring to the petrodollar system, one of the main pillars that’s been holding up the US dollar’s status as the world’s premier reserve currency since the breakdown of Bretton Woods.

Want to know when the fiat US dollar will collapse? Watch the petrodollar system and the factors affecting it. This is critically important, because once the dollar loses its coveted reserve status, the consequences will be dire for Americans.

At that moment, I believe Washington will become sufficiently desperate to enforce the radical measures that governments throughout world history have always implemented when their currencies were threatened—overt capital controls, wealth confiscation, people controls, price and wage controls, pension nationalizations, etc.

And there’s more. The destruction of the dollar will wipe out most people’s wealth, leading to political and social consequences that will likely be worse than the financial consequences.

From Bretton Woods to the Petrodollar

The dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency was first established in 1944, with the Bretton Woods international monetary system. The US—victorious in WWII, and possessing the overwhelmingly largest gold reserves in the world (around 717 million ounces)—could reconstruct the global monetary system with the dollar at its center.

The Bretton Woods arrangement linked another country’s currency to the US dollar at a fixed exchange rate, and the US dollar was tied to gold, also at a fixed exchange rate. Countries accumulated dollars in their reserves to engage in international trade or to exchange them with the US government for gold at $35 an ounce.

By the late 1960s, exuberant spending from welfare and warfare—combined with the Federal Reserve monetizing the deficits—drastically increased the number of dollars in circulation in relation to the gold backing it.

This monetary inflation caused nervous countries to accelerate their exchange of dollars for gold at $35. The result was a serious drain on the US gold supply (from 20,000 tonnes to around 290 million ounces by 1971, an amount it supposedly still holds).

With gold reserves shrinking rapidly, President Nixon officially ended convertibility of the dollar to gold, thus ending the Bretton Woods system on August 15, 1971. It was a default, and it took with it the main reason countries primarily held their reserves in dollars. The buck’s preeminent value in international trade was gone. Demand for dollars by foreign nations was sure to fall, along with its purchasing power.

That hurt OPEC, whose members were the world’s leading suppliers of a commodity even more valuable than gold: oil. OPEC countries needed a way to retain the real value of their earnings in the face of a declining currency, without having to jack the price of oil sky high.

If the dollar was to remain strong, it had to reinvent its status as the world’s reserve currency, and that required a new world financial arrangement, one which would give foreign nations an ironclad reason to hold and use dollars. Nixon dispatched his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to Saudi Arabia.

The Petrodollar System

Between 1972 and 1974, the US and Saudi governments created the petrodollar system.

Saudi Arabia was chosen because of its vast petroleum reserves, its dominant influence in OPEC, and the (correct) perception that the Saudi royal family was corruptible.

Under the new petrodollar system, the US guaranteed the survival of the House of Saud by providing a total commitment to its political and military security. In return, Saudi Arabia agreed to:

  • Use its dominant influence in OPEC to ensure that all global oil transactions would be conducted only in US dollars.
  • Invest a large amount of its oil revenue in US Treasury securities and use the interest income from those securities to pay US companies to modernize the infrastructure of Saudi Arabia.
  • Guarantee the price of oil within limits acceptable to the US and act to prevent another oil embargo by other OPEC members.

No dollars, no access to the world’s most important commodity. It’s a very compelling reason to hold your reserves in dollars.

For example, if Italy wants to buy oil from Kuwait, it has to first purchase US dollars on the foreign exchange market to pay for the oil, thus creating an artificial demand for US dollars that wouldn’t exist if Italy could pay in euros.

The US is just a toll collector in a transaction that has nothing to do with a product or service. But that translates into increased purchasing power and a deeper, more liquid market for the dollar and Treasuries.

Additionally, the US has the unique privilege of using its own currency—which it can print at will—to purchase its imports, including oil.

The benefits of the petrodollar system to the US are impossible to overstate.

What to Watch For

Today, the geopolitical sands of the Middle East are rapidly shifting.

The faltering strategic regional position of Saudi Arabia, the rise of Iran (which is not part of the petrodollar system), failed US interventions, Russia’s increasing power as an energy giant, and the emergence of the BRICS nations (which offer the potential of future alternative economic/security arrangements) all affect the sustainability of the petrodollar system.

My colleague Marin Katusa’s mentioned in his book; The Colder War, you need to be aware of what Vladimir Putin is doing. Putin would like nothing more than to sabotage the petrodollar, and he’s forging alliances across the planet that he hopes will help him achieve his goal.

At the same time, you should watch the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, which has been deteriorating.

The Saudis are furious at what they perceive to be the US not holding up its end of the petrodollar deal. They believe that as part of the US commitment to keep the region safe for the monarchy, the US should have attacked its regional rivals Syria and Iran by now. And they may feel they are no longer obliged to uphold their part of the deal, namely selling their oil only in US dollars.

They’re already heavily involved with China and could also tilt toward Russia. Oil traded in rubles or yuan could be the future result—a death knell for the petrodollar.

Conclusion

It was evident long before Nixon closed the gold window and ended the Bretton Woods system in 1971 that a paradigm shift in the global monetary system was inevitable.

Now another shift also seems inevitable. Ron Paul’s words alert us as to when a dollar collapse is imminent.

“We will know that day is approaching when oil-producing countries demand gold, or its equivalent, for their oil rather than dollars or euros.”

Someday, perhaps soon, Americans will wake up to a new reality, like they did on August 15, 1971.

To learn more about the coming death of the petrodollar and how it will directly affect you, I recommend you read Marin’s new book, The Colder War.

Dr. Ron Paul has fully endorsed it and inside, you’ll discover the web alliances and deals Putin has forged to break the monopoly of the dollar in the global energy trade and what a flight from the dollar will look like.

Before Putin makes another move against America, get the full story by clicking here to get your copy of this eye-opening book.

The article Ron Paul Says: Watch the Petrodollar was originally published at caseyresearch.com.

RIGHT IN 1988 – RIGHT TODAY

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Posted on 5th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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More Guns Plus Less War Equals Real Security

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Posted on 2nd November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Guest Post by Ron Paul

Last week’s tragic shootings in Canada and Washington state are certain to lead to new calls for gun control. The media-generated fear over “lone wolf terrorists” will enable the gun control lobby to smear Second Amendment supporters as “pro-terrorist.” Marketing gun control as an anti-terrorist measure will also enable gun control supporters to ally with those who support any infringement on liberty done in the name of “homeland security.”

As with most infringements on liberty, gun control will not only make us less free, it will make us less safe. Respecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms is the original and best homeland security policy. Restricting the right of people to arm themselves leaves them with no effective defense against violent criminals or a tyrannical government.

Every year, thousands of Americans use firearms to stop violent criminals. One notable example occurred in September, when Oklahoman Mark Vaughan used a rifle to stop a knife-wielding co-worker who had already killed one person and wounded another. Unfortunately, most of the media coverage focused on speculation that the assailant was motivated by “radical Islam” rather than on Vaughan’s use of a firearm to protect innocent lives.

It is no coincidence that states that pass “concealed carry” laws experience a drop in crime. Since passing concealed carry in Texas in 1995, murder in the state has declined by 52 percent. In comparison, the national murder rate declined by only 33 percent.

Perhaps the best illustration of the dangers of gun control is federal regulations forbidding pilots from having guns in their cockpits. Ironically, this rule went into effect shortly before September 11, 2001. If pilots had the ability to carry guns on 9/11, the hijackers may well have been stopped from attacking the World Trade Center and Pentagon or persuaded to not even try.

Shortly after 9/11, I introduced legislation allowing pilots to carry firearms in the cockpits. Congress eventually passed a bill allowing pilots to carry firearms if they obtain federal certification and obey federal regulations. Aside from the philosophical objection that no one should have to ask government permission before exercising a right, the rules and expensive approval process discourage many pilots from participating in the armed pilots program.

It should not be surprising that the anti-gun Obama Administration wants to eliminate the armed pilots program. I actually agree that the program should be eliminated, so long as pilots who can legally carry a firearm in their states of residence can carry a firearm on the planes they fly. Allowing pilots to carry guns is certainly a more effective way of protecting our security than forcing all airline passengers to endure the TSA.

Both gun control and foreign interventionism disregard the wisdom of the country’s founders.

An interventionist foreign policy, like gun control, threatens our safety. A hyper-interventionist foreign policy invites blowback from those who resent our government meddling in their countries while gun control leaves people defenseless against violent criminals. Returning to a foreign policy of peace and free trade and repealing all federal infringements on the Second Amendment will help guarantee both liberty and security.

Time Mag to Ron Paul: Stop Telling The Truth!

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Posted on 2nd November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Time Magazine is angry with Ron Paul. How dare he point out that the media has been over-reacting to the Ebola outbreak? How dare he mention that Canada’s 13 years of bombing Muslim countries has irritated plenty of people on the receiving end of those bombs? How dare he tell the truth about US history: that if the colonies were told they could never leave it is unlikely there would ever have been a United States?

Ron Paul is a “professional provocateur,” screeches Time’s Denver Nicks.

The author of Time’s hit (and miss) piece is outraged that anyone would dare to suggest, as Dr. Paul did in a recent column, that constant US meddling in African affairs has been anything but selfless beneficence. “Dubious-at-best,” sniffed Nicks to Ron Paul’s statement that “the people of Liberia and other countries would be better off if the US government left them alone.” After all, who could possibly object to US-sponsored coups, US bombs, US meddling, US asset-stripping, US social engineering projects in Africa?

Dubious? Has he asked the people of Libya how they feel about US meddling? In fact, Americans are increasingly coming to agree with Ron Paul that we all would be better off if the US government left all of us alone.

That is what really terrifies Denver Nicks and his bosses at Time (and the other mainstream media). The fact that they no longer dictate the limits of debate in the United States. The fact that more and more people are attracted to Ron Paul’s message that only peace and liberty can lead to prosperity.

Not long ago Time Magazine was the newsweekly of the Republican establishment (and of course the CIA). But these are hard times for regime mouthpieces, as the Internet has provided a platform for non-“approved” analysis and opinion that is eagerly consumed by the public. As soon as people had a choice, they abandoned the US wannabe Pravda publications like Time and New York Times and Washington Post and Newsweek as fast as they could.

What drives Time Magazine and the guardians of accepted opinion absolutely bonkers, though, is that Ron Paul has his own Institute for Peace and Prosperity that is amplifying his message and making a real impact on the foreign policy and civil liberties debate.

It was an honor that Nicks listed the Ron Paul Institute at the top of his list of the Ron Paul entities that infuriate him and his paymasters.

Ron Paul should not be allowed to have his own Institute! That is only for establishment entities who preach the importance of armed American exceptionalism overseas and a police state at home!

Why doesn’t Ron Paul (and his Institute) just go away! Time Magazine’s Denver Nicks closes his tirade by admitting defeat. “[I]t’s clear that in coming months, he’ll keep sounding off on other subjects.”

You bet it is, Denver. You betcha! 

National Service is Anti-Liberty and Un-American

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Posted on 20th October 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Guest Post by Ron Paul

Former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently called on the government to force young people to spend two years either “serving” in the military or performing some other type of government-directed “community service.” Neoconservative Senator John McCain has introduced legislation creating a mandatory national service program very similar to Reich’s proposal. It is not surprising that both a prominent progressive and a leading neocon would support mandatory national service, as this is an issue that has long united authoritarians on the left and right.Proponents of national service claim that young people have a moral obligation to give something back to society. But giving the government power to decide our moral obligations is an invitation to totalitarianism.Mandatory national service is not just anti-liberty, it is un-American.

Whether or not they admit it, supporters of mandatory national service do not believe that individuals have “inalienable rights.” Instead, they believe that rights are gifts from the government, and, since government is the source of our rights, government can abridge or even take away those rights whenever Congress decides.Mandatory national service also undermines private charitable institutions. In a free society, many people will give their time or money to service projects to help better their communities, working with religious or civic associations. But in a society with government-enforced national service, these associations are likely to become more reliant on government-supplied forced labor. They will then begin to tailor their programs to satisfy the demands of government bureaucrats instead of the needs of the community.

The very worst form of national service is, of course, the military draft, which forces young people to kill or be killed on government orders. The draft lowers the cost of an interventionist foreign policy because government need not compete with private employers for recruits. Anyone who refuses a draft notice runs the risk of being jailed, so government can provide lower pay and benefits to draftees than to volunteers.As the burden of our hyper-interventionist foreign policy increases, it is increasingly likely that there will be serious attempts to reinstate the military draft. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, continues to suggest that US troops on the ground may be needed to fight “Operation Inherent Resolve” in Iraq and Syria. A major escalation requiring a large US troop deployment will likely add pressure to consider a military draft.

The only real way the American people can protect their children from the military draft is to demand an end to the foreign policy that sees the US military as the solution to any and every problem — from ISIS to Ebola — anywhere in the world.

Some who share my opposition to a militaristic foreign policy support the draft because they think a draft will increase public opposition to war. However, the existence of a draft did not stop the American government from launching unconstitutional wars in Vietnam and Korea. While the draft did play a role in mobilizing political opposition to Vietnam, it took almost a decade and the death of thousands of American draftees for that opposition to reach critical mass.

It is baffling that conservatives who (properly) oppose raising taxes would support any form of national service, including the military draft. It is similarly baffling that liberals who oppose government interference with our personal lives would support mandatory national service. Mandatory national service is a totalitarian policy that should be rejected by all who value liberty.