When word filtered out yesterday that President Obama, on the heels of his reiteration of “no boots on the ground” to the military men and women at CENTCOM, had instructed the Pentagon that he was the final say on any individual airstrike in Syria (“…[to] better ensure the operation remain focused on his main goal for that part of the campaign: weakening the militants’ hold on territory in neighboring Iraq.”), pundits rightly began to ask questions. Allahpundit at HotAir had several, including the possibility that Obama must consider our new engagement a “counterterrorism” measure rather than a traditional war:
Doomed to repeat history: Funding Syrian rebels could create another Libya-like foreign policy crisis
Watching history repeat itself was not enough for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
The senator from Kentucky took the stage yesterday morning and didn’t stop talking until he made sure the public and the empty chamber had listened to his concerns.
During his remarks on the floor of the Senate, Paul highlighted his reasons to oppose the amendment authorizing president Obama’s plan to provide training and arms to what he calls moderate rebels in Syria. The plan passed both the House and the Senate as an amendment to the continuing resolution funding the government until December 11.
Before the vote, however, Paul raised and urged the empty chamber to put an end to Obama’s plan of arming fighters in Syria who have not proven to be fundamentally opposed to ISIS. “We gave 600 tons of weapons to the Syrian rebels in 2013 alone,” Paul said as he urged his colleagues to keep in mind that the United States is not the only country providing weapons to the rebels.
According to Paul, a Wall Street Journal report detailed “millions of dollars in direct US aid to rebels” from “nearly 8 months ago or more.” As the aid continues to be funneled to rebels in Syria, Paul claims that “no one really knows where that all ended up: Jane’s Terrorism Center noted, the transfer of Quatari arms to targeted groups has the same practical effect as shipping them to Al Nusra, a violent jihadist force.”
By not knowing where these weapons are going and who’s actually making use of the military training, Paul believes passing a resolution that will fund this operation abroad in the hopes that that it might deter ISIS is ludicrous:
It’s difficult to promote good economic policy when some policy makers have a deeply flawed grasp of history.
This is why I’ve tried to educate people, for instance, that government intervention bears the blame for the 2008 financial crisis, not capitalism or deregulation.
But one of the biggest challenges is correcting the mythology that capitalism caused the Great Depression and that government pulled the economy out of its tailspin.
To help correct the record, I’ve shared a superb video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity that discusses the failed statist policies of both Hoover and Roosevelt.
Now, to augment that analysis, we have a video from Learn Liberty. Narrated by Professor Stephen Davies, it punctures several of the myths about government policy in the 1930s.
Professors Davies is right on the mark in every case.
In the great state of Texas, it is legal, almost mandatory, to defend your home with deadly force from armed intruders. If someone attempts to climb into your window in the deep, pre-dawn darkness at 5:30 am, you would be justified in shooting them, right? In almost all conceivable cases, yes. Especially in Texas.
But what if the intruder turns out to be a member of a SWAT team attempting a no-knock drug raid on a search warrant? We’re about to find out, but it could mean the death penalty.
Marvin Louis Guy of Killeen, Texas and a female companion opened fire on several men entering their home through windows and doors, killing one and injuring another. The intruders turned out to be members of a SWAT team composed of Killeen police and state organized crime investigative officers who were serving a warrant based on tips from an informant that there was drug trafficking going on in the residence.
Given that it was a “no-knock” raid, the residents did not know that it was law enforcement officers entering their home. No-knock raids are often conducted on search warrants for drug trafficking suspicion to prevent hardened criminals from attacking the cops when they are announced. It didn’t quite turn out that way this time.
Today, September 17, is Constitution Day. Spearheaded by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), Congress passed a resolution in 2004 as rider to an omnibus spending bill setting aside this particular day to celebrate the ratification of the Constitution, the document that provides the framework of the federal government and the rights protected under the Bill of Rights.
The Constitution has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in the last several years, perhaps because of the polarization of political opinions in the United States as well as attempts by presidents from both parties attempts consume more power for the executive branch. The revelations about the National Security Agency, efforts to censor speech, expand gun control laws are just the tip of the iceberg of attempts to trample the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
In his presidential proclamation marking Constitution Day, President Barack Obama offered some insight into how he views the Bill of Rights. “Our Constitution reflects the values we cherish as a people and the ideals we strive for as a society,” Obama said in the release. “It secures the privileges we enjoy as citizens, but also demands participation, responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.”
Given that this White House is known for its expansive view of executive power, the fact that President Obama views these fundamental liberties to be “privileges” isn’t too terribly surprising. After all, President Obama treats the legislative branch — which is supposed to be a co-equal branch of the federal government — as an afterthought as it arbitrarily changes statues and even refuses to enforce laws.
Oversight Judge to Blogger: You Were Right about Supreme Court Justice, but We’re Not Going to Do Anything about It
In a stunning move, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct has declined to discipline Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade for violating the state Code of Judicial Conduct when he was Chief Justice, and has dismissed a complaint brought against him by a United Liberty contributor.
Judge Chris Craft, Board Chair of the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct, acknowledged in a letter dated September 5, 2014 that your humble scribe “raised an area of concern” in the ethics complaint I filed against Justice Gary Wade on July 9 for a breach of the court’s rules governing political activity as he campaigned for retention to the state Supreme Court this summer. Judge Craft also says that the Board has addressed the complaint “by other means,” and will not be reprimanding or censuring Justice Wade, and has therefore dismissed the complaint.
This past weekend, a small mountain town in Southwest Virginia was the site of a meeting of radicals. They looked like mild-mannered citizens, some even literally and obviously just off the farm, but behind the friendly handshakes and smiles you could see the light of fighters in a war most people don’t even realize exists: the right to grow and eat what you want, free of burdensome government regulation and intrusion.
The ideological heart of this gathering is one Joel Salatin, a man pushing 60 who looks a decade or more younger, who knows first hand what it looks like when the government decides it wants to shut you down and drive you out of business for encroaching on their self-styled food provision empire. His manifesto is summed pretty handily thus:
Food freedom is even more basic than gun, religious, or speech freedom,” says. “In fact, I would argue that the reason the founders of our country did not write it into the bill of rights was because it was so basic they couldn’t conceive of any society abrogating it. It would have been like guaranteeing citizens the right to watch the sun rise or sit on their porch. The way it relates to other small government initiatives is that once we actually have food freedom, it destroys the assumptions that led to its demise.
More hypocrisy: Senate opens debate on amendment to partially repeal the First Amendment while taking corporate cash
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)’s S.J. Res. 19, the constitutional amendment proposal that would severely handicap our First Amendment political speech protections, has just been pushed forward in the Senate.
The Hill reports that early on Monday, the Senate advanced the amendment proposal after 20 Republicans voted with Democrats. The amendment, which would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, has been worded to restrict the work performed by issue-focused nonprofit organizations and political action committees. It would also target corporations, which is the reason why this amendment is being so widely supported by liberals.
While most Republicans originally stood against boosting the regulatory burden on political speech, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) - among others - voted to push the motion forward. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), among others, voted against the proposal.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has claimed he will spend as much time as Republicans need to debate the issue. To him, campaign spending reform is necessary to curb the easy flow of what he calls “dark money” in politics. According to Reid, “this constitutional amendment is what we need to bring sanity back to elections and restore Americans’ confidence in our democracy.”
Maybe I’m biased because I mostly work on fiscal policy, but it certainly seems feasible to come up with rough estimates for the damage caused by onerous taxes and excessive spending.
On a personal level, for instance, we have a decent idea of how much the government takes from us and we know the aggravation of annual tax returns. And we tend to have some exposure to government bureaucracies, so we’re familiar with the concept of wasteful spending.
But how do you quantify the cost of regulation and red tape? Well, here are some very large numbers to digest.
Americans spend 8.8 billion hours every year filling out government forms.
The economy-wide cost of regulation is now $1.75 trillion.
For every bureaucrat at a regulatory agency, 100 jobs are destroyed in the economy’s productive sector.
The Obama Administration added $236 billion of red tape in 2012 alone.
In other words, the regulatory burden is enormous, but I worry that these numbers lack context and that most of us don’t really grasp how we’re hurt by government intervention.
So let’s look at some additional data.
Get ready for a showdown over free speech: Harry Reid will push partial repeal of the First Amendment next week
When the Senate returns to Washington next week, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to bring up S.J. Res. 19, a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) that would effectively repeal political speech protections in the First Amendment.
Reid filed a motion to proceed on the constitutional amendment on August 1, just before the chamber adjourned for its summer recess. Although the original text of the amendment gave Congress the sole power to regulate political speech, including campaign finance regulations, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure with substitute language to allow states to implement their own rules and regulations, in addition to those passed by Congress.
The measure, however, is an attempt to diminish the influence of issue-focused nonprofit organizations and political action committees, which, Senate Democrats say, are often funded by corporate interests. Section 2 of the amendment would allow Congress and state legislatures to prohibit “corporations or other artificial entities created by law…from spending money to influence elections.”