Your tax dollars in action. Protect the people from scary groups that feed anyone who is hungry. Aren’t you glad the police state takes such a proactive role in keeping people from being fed? (E)
According to Amnesty International, “the single most reliable predictor of whether someone will be sentenced to death is the race of the victim.”
What more is there to say?
So…once more we come to Guy Fawkes day. The day celebrated and, of late, remembered as a result of the 2005 movie ” V For Vendetta“. My question to you is this. Can any of you think of a reason to protest anything your government is doing currently?
Obviously I am not advocating any form of violence against individuals or even infrastructure as that path becomes self-defeating rather quickly. What I am saying is this. Find a way to voice your anger. Write on your blog. Add something to your Facebook page. Hell-send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper but do something.
The Governments of the world are in direct opposition now to the interests of the people who live on this planet. It is time we stood up, for those who have not been doing so, and let them know we know!!! The truth of the matter is that they are a bunch of rats that live in the dark and only attack when they can gang up on those who have become separated from the crowd. The young, the poor, the aged, the disabled.
When the rest of us choose to become protective of those who cannot protect themselves and say NO MORE, things will begin to change. One example where people can stand up is in Colorado where this tax on cannabis will put the use of pot back into government control and will push the people who truly need it, or just want to use it for their own pleasure to a place where it is financially beyond their reach. A new black market will then start up and the drug war will continue.
Whatever the cause you choose, choose something today to speak out against. The Wars in…well where aren’t we fighting wars now? Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, several African nations and soon Iran. How about the NSA, CIA, TSA, DHS ect. ect. Or Fracking for gas or Fuckishima (It was deliberate). Or the fact that our President is quoted in a new book as saying he is “good at killing”.
Anyway, I am sure that everyone can come up with at least one thing that really bothers them about the US Government or whatever government claims to rule over them. Speak out. Be An Anarchist for a day!
‘Bout says it all…Not that Miranda rights had much impact on a large percentage of people anyway since most people don’t know enough to keep their mouths shut! Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever ad infinitum speak to law enforcement except to identify yourself and then only if you are being detained! Know what your rights are and see to it that you make sure they are not infringed. It is not up to them. It is up to you! (E)
While, admittedly, this video is a couple of weeks old but it is and shall remain relevant as well as timely. We need to encourage people every day to focus on liberty and freedom not just once a year. The tyranny we now face from the United States Government is far worse than that faced by the colonists from King George of England in the 18th century.
It is time for a new revolution. Peaceful, quiet and below the radar. How we do that I will leave to those techies and others who have already deserted the ranks of the oppressor government bureaucracies. The oppressors have stated a desire to pull the plug on the internet. Perhaps pulling their plugs would be an option to consider. I have no idea how that could be accomplished but if it can it may need to be considered.
Take out their technology and communication capabilities and they would be severely disabled. I am no leader and I am not telling anyone what they should do. BUT do what your conscience dictates.
And above all we pray for guidance and wisdom in all things. Not to go beyond what is necessary nor hold back from what needs to be done to once again light the torch of liberty but this time for all people. Not only the landowners and other wealthy individuals but for every individual who desires to pursue happiness and live at liberty from those who would attempt to rob them of their right to live as they see fit.
Well…I’m not sure whether this is real or not but it certainly goes along with much that I have observed over the years. If it is real we as people need to reconcile ourselves to the battle for our very souls because these people want to enslave all of us for their vision of a better world. And BTW check out the Georgia Guidestones if you want to know what the plan is that he keeps mentioning in the video. (E)
Libertarian Gary Johnson: ‘this Independence Day feels different … Former Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson hopes you have a nice picnic, parade or BBQ to attend, and a flag to wave. But he is not delivering the typical feel-good Fourth of July message this year. “This Independence Day feels a little different,” he says. “The news in recent weeks about the IRS using its force against certain targeted groups has reminded us that, absent vigilance on our part, the government will abuse the power it has accumulated. Likewise, as we learn more about the massive surveillance being conducted by the NSA and the FBI, a lot of Americans are today thinking and talking about the 4th Amendment and its intended protections against unreasonable searches.” – Washington Times
Dominant Social Theme: We live in the best of all possible worlds.
Free-Market Analysis: But we don’t. We live in a world increasingly afflicted by determined globalism and wanton lawlessness, in part generated by regulatory democracy itself.
“The more laws, the more criminals,” the Japanese tell us. And the West has long since departed from the grounded reality of natural law and broadcasts the erroneous idea that law is the province of government. It is not.
Government can enforce natural law – those laws generated by instinct and human communality – but anything else merely invites circumvention. The more laws there are, the less observance there shall be.
People lament growing lawlessness, but when governments insist by whim and preference on passing thousands of laws annually and even more regulations, the result is the gradual erosion of civil society and the alienation of the middle class.
Mr. Johnson continues, “These ‘revelations’ are bringing long-overdue attention to the liberties the Founding Fathers worked so hard and sacrificed so much to provide and protect. It is more than a little ironic that the Revolution was prompted, in part, by abusive tax policies and unreasonable searches – on the part of ‘tyrants’.”
He concludes, “Regardless of our plans for this Independence Day, I hope they include remembering that the battle for freedom never ends, and dedicating ourselves to restoring the liberty on which our great nation was founded. That is the most patriotic thing we can do on the Fourth, and in all the days that follow.”
Johnson apparently has a new organization to head called Our American Initiative, which is dedicated to the idea of shrinking government and defending Western civil freedoms.
We’re not so sanguine as Johnson that current trends can be reversed – at least not by using available, formal levers. But we are encouraged by Johnson’s observation that the recently observed US Independence Day “feels different.”
We would offer the observation that it feels different because we are living in the era of what we call the Internet Reformation. Of course, it is not easy to describe the Internet Reformation in a linear fashion.
But we have long predicted that the results would permeate society much as the results of commercial book-printing did after the invention of the Gutenberg press. While not portrayed as such, the invention of the press was probably the single most significant event of the past millennium – until the advent of the Internet itself.
History seems the collision of two forces: An elite that seeks to repress certain knowledge and a populace that, when exposed to that knowledge, tends to overthrow the elite in question, or at least vitiate its power. In the last centuries, technology provides the fulcrum that shifts the balance. When information technology is ascendant, freedom expands with its many human and social benefits. When it is not, repression and attendant ills are prevalent.
Ignorance is ever the friend of tyranny and eventually, even, genocide. But allow people to educate themselves and the world begins to change for the better. We are living through a very exciting time in which the knowledge of the ages has been rediscovered and is in the process of being reapplied by tens of millions.
There are, of course, negatives to this evolution – as we have seen with the expansion of the Surveillance State. But the negatives are not exclusive; the world is not merely one color. Tyranny and freedom usually coexist. There is no yin without yang, despite what pessimists and sophists maintain.
Conclusion: Mr. Johnson cannot quite put his finger on what’s going on today. But something is changing – and some of it for the better.
The Daily Bell is published by High Alert Capital Partners Ltd
For your consideration. (E)
I’d thank my lucky stars to be livin’ here today,
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away,
And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
From our hotel, we see the Rhine water flowing swiftly, from right to left. (Let’s see, the Rhine flows from South to North… to discharge into the North Sea. Or somewhere near there. So, if the water is flowing to the left, we must be on the west bank of the river.)
We just arrived yesterday and spent the day in business meetings. Switzerland is a good place to do business, especially for French people. But, except for a brief walk through the old part of the city, we haven’t had much time to get our bearings.
One thing we notice, however: Like Zurich, Basel is a calm, civilized place. We see no poor people. Nor are there any slums. Nor are there people who look like they shouldn’t be allowed out in public.
In short: This ain’t Baltimore. But then, what is?
Back to the news:
Poor Edward Snowden. The man performed a valuable public service. He should get a medal on this Independence Day. Instead, he will have to face the music.
“As Snowden looks for asylum, doors slam around the world, ” says the International Herald Tribune.
Tuesday, the Russians seemed to close their doors to him. Ecuador seems to be withdrawing its invitation. Venezuela and Bolivia are still possibilities.
But like Julian Assange, he may be forced to hole up in some gloomy embassy. Or worse, he may be handed over to the US for a full program of torture. Yes, they could force him to watch TV! Or a Senate hearing! Or listen to Lee Greenwood whine on the radio!
He will surely want to slit his wrists after a few hours… saving the feds the cost of killing him.
Shoulder to Shoulder With Edward Snowden
Yes, the music Snowden will face, if he is delivered to the Americans, will be grim. He will be charged with treason… which comes with a funeral dirge.
Here at the Diary, we are shoulder to shoulder with Snowden. “He broke the law, ” say the news reports. That’s what we admire about him. Sometimes the law needs be broken.
America circa 2013: History will record that laws grew up like kudzu.
One law told people they had to have health insurance, whether they wanted it or not. Another told them what they could do with their money… another gave them the right to ingest certain things, but not others.
The proliferation of laws made more and more things unlawful. You cannot smoke a cigarette where you please. You cannot have a private conversation. You cannot do this… but you must do that.
This trend gave lawmakers – including mid-level bureaucrats and unnamed officials – more and more power. And took power away from ordinary citizens, who were convinced that it made sense to limit their rights more and more to preserve their freedom.
And every day, during the summer of 2013, the sun shone, the kudzu grew, and wrapped itself around their necks. Did they fail to report a $5 tip? Did they forget to separate their garbage? Or dare to fix a clogged toilet without a permit? Americans were so proud of their freedom, they didn’t notice how fast they were losing it.
They didn’t notice (how could they?) the huge growth in secret organizations around Washington. They could scarcely remember going through an airport without standing in ‘security’ lines with their belts and shoes in their hands. They had to assume (what else could they do?) that public officials really were working to make their lives safer and more prosperous.
But, as more and more things could get you into trouble (more than anyone could possibly keep track of), it became more and more important to keep one’s affairs private.
Likewise, the controllers found it evermore convenient to tap phones and record private email conversations. Who knows when you might say something they could use against you!
Lies Are More Valuable Than Truth
Is the kind of “big data” the feds are gathering useful? Our friend Nassim Taleb tells us that it is probably less accurate… or more prone to misconstruction… than the feds believe:
We’re more fooled by noise than ever before, and it’s because of a nasty phenomenon called “big data.” With big data, researchers have brought cherry-picking to an industrial level.
Modernity provides too many variables, but too little data per variable. So the spurious relationships grow much, much faster than real information. In other words: Big data may mean more information, but it also means morefalse information.
But this is just great for the feds. They know perfectly well that the fight against terror is a pretext. They are zombies. The real goal of zombies is to increase their power and wealth at someone else’s expense. And for that, false information is better than the real thing.
False information can show anything you want it to show – even that a 93-year-old great grandmother is a threat to the nation.
Lies are more valuable, to them, than the truth.
Edward Snowden came out and revealed the extent to which the feds – under the guise of protecting us from terrorism – are keeping track of everyone and everyone’s business.
This was deeply disturbing to thoughtful people… if there still were any who feared the rise of an all-knowing, all-powerful Big Brother state from which no secrets are kept and from which no desires are hidden.
And it was disturbing too to the Big Brothers. They insist on knowing everything about everybody else’s business. But they made it a crime to reveal what they were up to!
In short, nobody likes a snitch… and a snoop especially dislikes a snitch.
Snowden was paid to snoop, not to snitch. He was paid to break the law and lie about it. And now he may have to face the law and pay the price for telling the truth.
© Bill Bonner’s Diary of a Rogue Economist | 819 N Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
Original Article: http://www.billbonnersdiary.com/articles/bonner-independence-day.html
Don’t always agree with all Baldwin says. I am NOT a Constitutionalist but still can agree with him on issues of liberty. The crap seems to be hiitin’ the fan for O and company. Unfortunately, the Bush cartel is still on the loose and playing their control games behind the scenes. BTW none of these politicians complaining are without guilt unless you would count those only in office the past couple of years. They MAY NOT have blood on their hands yet. All others need to go to trial for treason-yeah right. (E)
Original article archived here: http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/Articles/tabid/109/ID/1040/The-White-House-Has-No-Credibility.aspx
Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Holy Cow, Martha! Will miracles never cease? Chuck Baldwin and the New York Times editorial board actually agree. Are we in the Twilight Zone? Is it Freaky Friday? Is the Times editorial board reading my columns and seeing the light or am I watching CNN and MSNBC too much? I know I don’t watch those two propaganda outlets too much, and I doubt the Times editorial board pays too much attention to what I write, so what is going on?
On June 6, the editorial board of the New York Times posted a column that yours truly could have written. The column was entitled “President Obama’s Dragnet.” The editorial begins:
“Within hours of the disclosure that federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.
“Those reassurances have never been persuasive–whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism–especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability.
“The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.”
The editorial goes on to say, “Essentially, the administration is saying that without any individual suspicion of wrongdoing, the government is allowed to know whom Americans are calling every time they make a phone call, for how long they talk and from where.
“This sort of tracking can reveal a lot of personal and intimate information about an individual. To causally permit this surveillance–with the American public having no idea that the executive branch is now exercising this power–fundamentally shifts power between the individual and the state, and it repudiates constitutional principles governing search, seizure and privacy.”
The Times editorial concludes by saying, “On Thursday, representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, who introduced the Patriot Act in 2001, said that the National Security Agency overstepped its bounds by obtaining a secret order to collect phone log records from millions of Americans.
“‘As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the F.B.I.’s interpretation of this legislation,’ he said in a statement. ‘While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses.’ He added: ‘Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.’
“Stunning use of the act [Patriot Act] shows, once again, why it needs to be sharply curtailed if not repealed.”
See The New York Times editorial here:
First of all, the Patriot Act introduced by Sensenbrenner and passed into law in 2001 had been introduced before (almost word-for-word) during the Clinton administration. It was soundly defeated by Republican majorities in both the US House and Senate. Then after 9-11, these same Republicans passed the Patriot Act into law. And you read that the principal sponsor of the Act in the House, Jim Sensenbrenner, said he had “always worried about potential abuses.” Then why the heck did he and the rest of the Republicans in the House and Senate pass the darn thing? You know why. Back in 2001, a Republican was in the White House. As we have seen time and time again, party partisanship usually trumps loyalty to the Constitution on Capitol Hill.
Think about it: when Democrat Bill Clinton was President, Democrats on Capitol Hill strongly supported what became known as the Patriot Act; and Republicans opposed it. But when Republican G.W. Bush was President, Republicans supported (and passed) the Patriot Act; and Democrats opposed it. Remember: it was the same bill! What made the difference? The party occupying the White House. Yet, even the chief sponsor of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, said he “always worried about potential abuses.” Well, now we know his worries were justified.
Wouldn’t it be nice if just once members of Congress (from both parties) would choose to err on the side of liberty and constitutional government instead of tyranny and Big-Government?
Secondly, the abuses of power by the White House under the guise of the Patriot Act have been going on ever since the darn thing was passed. Barack Obama is no guiltier of trampling the Bill of Rights than G.W. Bush. It was Bush who pushed through, not only the Patriot Act, but the Military Commissions Act and the NDAA, all of which give the executive branch of the federal government unconstitutional authority to abuse the rights and liberties of the American people.
I even recall when G.W. Bush appeared before the United Nations shortly after ordering the invasion of Iraq and told that body the reason Iraq was invaded was for the “peace and credibility of the United Nations.”
See Bush’s speech to the UN here:
I didn’t know the United Nations had any credibility worth saving. Furthermore, I thought the US armed forces were supposed to fight to preserve the safety and liberty of the United States. You mean to tell me that American forces were sent into Iraq for the benefit of the “peace and credibility of the United Nations”? Egad. I wonder if Bush and Obama are using federal police powers against the American citizenry for the same reason that US troops were used against Iraq: for the “peace and credibility of the United Nations.” I think it is safe to say that anyone who would abuse US troops to fulfill the machinations of the United Nations would have no hesitation to abuse US citizens for the same reason. In other words, everything that G.W. Bush started, Barack Obama is continuing–both in regard to the wars waged in the Middle East and in the abuse of liberties in the United States.
The rubric for all of this abuse is the “War on Terror,” with the Patriot Act serving as the cornerstone piece of legislation authorizing it and the Department of Homeland Security serving as the cornerstone agency enforcing it. The net result is perpetual war abroad and a burgeoning police state at home.
The New York Times is right: the Obama White House has no credibility on this issue. Neither did the Bush White House. Then, again, it might not matter whether the White House has any credibility, as long as the United Nations has credibility. I jest, of course.
The Times is also right when it says the Patriot Act needs to be “sharply curtailed if not repealed.” I vote for the latter.
And why is it left to the New York Times to call for the repeal of the Patriot Act? Where are the so-called conservative Republicans? Where are the cable news networks? Where is the rest of the media? And where are America’s pastors and churches?
The New York Times and Chuck Baldwin preaching the same sermon: who would have ever believed it?
(c) Chuck Baldwin
From Bruce Schneier
June 10, 2013
Yesterday, we learned that the NSA received all calling records from Verizon customers for a three-month period starting in April. That’s everything except the voice content: who called who, where they were, how long the call lasted — for millions of people, both Americans and foreigners. This “metadata” allows the government to track the movements of everyone during that period, and a build a detailed picture of who talks to whom. It’s exactly the same data the Justice Department collected about AP journalists.
The Guardian delivered this revelation after receiving a copy of a secret memo about this — presumably from a whistle-blower. We don’t know if the other phone companies handed data to the NSA too. We don’t know if this was a one-off demand or a continuously renewed demand; the order started a few days after the Boston bombers were captured by police.
We don’t know a lot about how the government spies on us, but we know some things. We know the FBI has issued tens of thousands of ultra-secret National Security Letters to collect all sorts of data on people — we believe on millions of people — and has been abusing them to spy on cloud-computer users. We know it can collect a wide array of personal data from the Internet without a warrant. We also know that the FBI has been intercepting cell-phone data, all but voice content, for the past 20 years without a warrant, and can use the microphone on some powered-off cell phones as a room bug — presumably only with a warrant.
We know that the NSA has many domestic-surveillance and data-mining programs with codenames like Trailblazer, Stellar Wind, and Ragtime — deliberately using different codenames for similar programs to stymie oversight and conceal what’s really going on. We know that the NSA is building an enormous computer facility in Utah to store all this data, as well as faster computer networks to process it all. We know the U.S. Cyber Command employs 4,000 people.
We know that the DHS is also collecting a massive amount of data on people, and that local police departments are running “fusion centers” to collect and analyze this data, and covering up its failures. This is all part of the militarization of the police.
Remember in 2003, when Congress defunded the decidedly creepy Total Information Awarenessprogram? It didn’t die; it just changed names and split into many smaller programs. We know that corporations are doing an enormous amount of spying on behalf of the government: all parts.
We know all of this not because the government is honest and forthcoming, but mostly through three backchannels — inadvertent hints or outright admissions by government officials in hearings and court cases, information gleaned from government documents received under FOIA, and government whistle-blowers.
There’s much more we don’t know, and often what we know is obsolete. We know quite a bit about the NSA’s ECHELON program from a 2000 European investigation, and about the DHS’s plans for Total Information Awareness from 2002, but much less about how these programs have evolved. We can make inferences about the NSA’s Utah facility based on the theoretical amount of data from various sources, the cost of computation, and the power requirements from the facility, but those are rough guesses at best. For a lot of this, we’re completely in the dark.
And that’s wrong.
The U.S. government is on a secrecy binge. It overclassifies more information than ever. And we learn, again and again, that our government regularly classifies things not because they need to be secret, but because their release would be embarrassing.
Knowing how the government spies on us is important. Not only because so much of it is illegal — or, to be as charitable as possible, based on novel interpretations of the law — but because we have a right to know. Democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function properly, andtransparency and accountability are essential parts of that. That means knowing what our government is doing to us, in our name. That means knowing that the government is operating within the constraints of the law. Otherwise, we’re living in a police state.
We need whistle-blowers.
Leaking information without getting caught is difficult. It’s almost impossible to maintain privacy in the Internet Age. The WikiLeaks platform seems to have been secure — Bradley Manning was caught not because of a technological flaw, but because someone he trusted betrayed him — but the U.S. government seems to have successfully destroyed it as a platform. None of the spin-offs have risen to become viable yet. The New Yorker recently unveiled its Strongbox platform forleaking material, which is still new but looks good. This link contains the best advice on how to leak information to the press via phone, email, or the post office. The National Whistleblowers Center has a page on national-security whistle-blowers and their rights.
Leaking information is also very dangerous. The Obama Administration has embarked on a war onwhistle-blowers, pursuing them — both legally and through intimidation — further than any previous administration has done. Mark Klein, Thomas Drake, and William Binney have all been persecuted for exposing technical details of our surveillance state. Bradley Manning has been treated cruelly and inhumanly — and possibly tortured — for his more-indiscriminate leaking of State Department secrets.
The Obama Administration’s actions against the Associated Press, its persecution of Julian Assange, and its unprecedented prosecution of Manning on charges of “aiding the enemy” demonstrate how far it’s willing to go to intimidate whistle-blowers — as well as the journalists who talk to them.
But whistle-blowing is vital, even more broadly than in government spying. It’s necessary for good government, and to protect us from abuse of power.
We need details on the full extent of the FBI’s spying capabilities. We don’t know what information it routinely collects on American citizens, what extra information it collects on those on various watch lists, and what legal justifications it invokes for its actions. We don’t know its plans for future data collection. We don’t know what scandals and illegal actions — either past or present — are currently being covered up.
We also need information about what data the NSA gathers, either domestically or internationally. We don’t know how much it collects surreptitiously, and how much it relies on arrangements with various companies. We don’t know how much it uses password cracking to get at encrypted data, and how much it exploits existing system vulnerabilities. We don’t know whether it deliberately inserts backdoors into systems it wants to monitor, either with or without the permission of the communications-system vendors.
And we need details about the sorts of analysis the organizations perform. We don’t know what they quickly cull at the point of collection, and what they store for later analysis — and how long they store it. We don’t know what sort of database profiling they do, how extensive their CCTV and surveillance-drone analysis is, how much they perform behavioral analysis, or how extensively they trace friends of people on their watch lists.
We don’t know how big the U.S. surveillance apparatus is today, either in terms of money and people or in terms of how many people are monitored or how much data is collected. Modern technology makes it possible to monitor vastly more people — yesterday’s NSA revelations demonstrate that they could easily surveil everyone — than could ever be done manually.
Whistle-blowing is the moral response to immoral activity by those in power. What’s important here are government programs and methods, not data about individuals. I understand I am asking for people to engage in illegal and dangerous behavior. Do it carefully and do it safely, but — and I am talking directly to you, person working on one of these secret and probably illegal programs — do it.
If you see something, say something. There are many people in the U.S. that will appreciate and admire you.
For the rest of us, we can help by protesting this war on whistle-blowers. We need to force our politicians not to punish them — to investigate the abuses and not the messengers — and to ensure that those unjustly persecuted can obtain redress.
Our government is putting its own self-interest ahead of the interests of the country. That needs to change.
This essay originally appeared on the Atlantic.
EDITED TO ADD (6/10): It’s not just phone records. Another secret program, PRISM, gave the NSA access to e-mails and private messages at Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Skype, AOL, and others. And in a separate leak, we now know about the Boundless Informant NSA data mining system.
The leaker for at least some of this is Edward Snowden. I consider him an American hero.
Someone needs to write an essay parsing all of the precisely worded denials. Apple has never heard the word “PRISM,” but could have known of the program under a different name. Google maintained that there is no government “back door,” but left open the possibility that the data could have been just handed over. Obama said that the government isn’t “listening to your telephone calls,” ignoring 1) the meta-data, 2) the fact that computers could be doing all of the listening, and 3) that text-to-speech results in phone calls being read and not listened to. And so on and on and on.
I’m sure there are lots more things out there that should be read. Please include the links in comments. Not only essays I would agree with; intelligent opinions from the other sides are just as important.
MONDAY, MAY 20, 2013
“What do you expect when you target the President?” This is what an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent allegedly said to the head of a conservative organization that was being audited after calling for the impeachment of then-President Clinton. Recent revelations that IRS agents gave “special scrutiny” to organizations opposed to the current administration’s policies suggest that many in the IRS still believe harassing the president’s opponents is part of their job.
As troubling as these recent reports are, it would be a grave mistake to think that IRS harassment of opponents of the incumbent president is a modern, or a partisan, phenomenon. As scholar Burton Folsom pointed out in his book New Deal or Raw Deal, IRS agents in the 1930s were essentially “hit squads” against opponents of the New Deal. It is well-known that the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used the IRS to silence their critics. One of the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon dealt with his use of the IRS to harass his political enemies. Allegations of IRS abuses were common during the Clinton administration, and just this week some of the current administration’s defenders recalled that antiwar and progressive groups alleged harassment by the IRS during the Bush presidency.
The bipartisan tradition of using the IRS as a tool to harass political opponents suggests that the problem is deeper than just a few “rogue” IRS agents − or even corruption within one, two, three or many administrations. Instead, the problem lays in the extraordinary power the tax system grants the IRS.
The IRS routinely obtains information about how we earn a living, what investments we make, what we spend on ourselves and our families, and even what charitable and religious organizations we support. Starting next year, the IRS will be collecting personally identifiable health insurance information in order to ensure we are complying withObamacare‘s mandates.
The current tax laws even give the IRS power to marginalize any educational, political, or even religious organizations whose goals, beliefs, and values are not favored by the current regime by denying those organizations “tax-free” status. This is the root of the latest scandal involving the IRS.
Considering the type of power the IRS excises over the American people, and the propensity of those who hold power to violate liberty, it is surprising we do not hear about more cases of politically-motivated IRS harassment. As the first US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall said, “The power to tax is the power to destroy” − and who better to destroy than one’s political enemies?
The US flourished for over 120 years without an income tax, and our liberty and prosperity will only benefit from getting rid of the current tax system. The federal government will get along just fine without its immoral claim on the fruits of our labor, particularly if the elimination of federal income taxes are accompanied by serious reduction in all areas of spending, starting with the military spending beloved by so many who claim to be opponents of high taxes and big government.
While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process; thus, the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.
Dr. Ron Paul, a medical doctor and longtime Texas Representative to the US House, continues to promote and educate on issues of liberty through his “Ron Paul’s Texas Straight Talk” column, pubished weekly here.