Thursday, April 28, 2011

Way Up North: Alaska's Oil

Way Up North: Alaska's Oil.

Unions Try To Destroy Wisconsin Businesses

Following their usual communist, socialist tactics unions are planning on sticking offensive stickers on products throughout Wisconsin stores on May 1.  Please fight back and buy products from the targeted businesses.  Berry Laker has done a great job staying up on this issue.  Read his posts here and here and you can listen to Vicki McKenna here.

Former Miss USA left in tears at TSA checkpoint – Tenth Amendment Center

Former Miss USA left in tears at TSA checkpoint – Tenth Amendment Center

Catholic Prayers

God our Father, Giver of life, we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care.
You are the rock on which this nation was founded. You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Reclaim this land for Your glory and dwell among Your people.
Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation´s leaders. Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom. Remind Your people that true happiness is rooted in seeking and doing Your will.
Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of our land, grant us the courage to reject the "culture of death." Lead us into a new millennium of life. We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

For SR.

Ron Paul Week - The View, Hannity, Colbert, Fox & Friends, Exploratory Committee!

Ron Paul Week - The View, Hannity, Colbert, Fox & Friends, Exploratory Committee!

STRATFOR: The Kaspersky Kidnapping - Lessons Learned

The Kaspersky Kidnapping - Lessons Learned is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

On April 24, officers from the anti-kidnapping unit of Moscow’s Criminal Investigation Department and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) rescued 20-year-old Ivan Kaspersky from a dacha in Sergiev Posad, a small town about 40 miles northeast of Moscow. Kaspersky, the son of Russian computer software services billionaire Eugene Kaspersky (founder of Kaspersky Lab), was kidnapped on April 19 as he was walking to work from his Moscow apartment. A fourth-year computer student at Moscow State University, Kaspersky was working as an intern at a software company located near Moscow’s Strogino metro station.

Following the abduction, Kaspersky was reportedly forced to call his father and relay his captors’ demands for a ransom of 3 million euros ($4.4 million). After receiving the ransom call, the elder Kaspersky turned to Russian law enforcement for assistance. On April 21, news of the abduction hit the Russian and international press, placing pressure on the kidnappers and potentially placing Kaspersky’s life in jeopardy. In order to defuse the situation, disinformation was leaked to the press that a ransom had been paid, that Kaspersky had been released unharmed and that the family did not want the authorities involved. Kaspersky’s father also contacted the kidnappers and agreed to pay the ransom. Responding to the ruse, four of the five members of the kidnapping gang left the dacha where Kaspersky was being held to retrieve the ransom and were intercepted by Russian authorities as they left. The authorities then stormed the dacha, arrested the remaining captor and released Kaspersky. The five kidnappers remain in custody and are awaiting trial.

According to Russia’s RT television network, Russian officials indicated that the kidnapping was orchestrated by an older couple who were in debt and sought to use the ransom to get out of their financial difficulties. The couple reportedly enlisted their 30-year-old son and two of his friends to act as muscle for the plot. Fortunately for Kaspersky, the group that abducted him was quite unprofessional and the place where he was being held was identified by the cell phone used to contact Kaspersky’s father. Reports conflict as to whether the cell phone’s location was tracked by the FSB, the police anti-kidnapping unit or someone else working for Kaspersky’s father, but in any case, in the end the group’s inexperience and naivete allowed for Kaspersky’s story to have a happy ending.

However, the story also demonstrates that even amateurs can successfully locate and abduct the son of a billionaire, and some very important lessons can be drawn from this case.

The Abduction

According to the Russian news service RIA Novosti, Kaspersky’s abductors had been stalking him and his girlfriend for several months prior to the kidnapping. This pre-operational surveillance permitted the kidnappers to determine Kaspersky’s behavioral patterns and learn that he did not have any sort of security detail protecting him. Media reports also indicate that the kidnappers were apparently able to obtain all the information they required to begin their physical surveillance of the victim from information Kaspersky himself had posted on, a Russian social networking site. According to RT, Kaspersky’s Vkontakte profile contained information such as his true name, his photo, where he was attending school, what he was studying, who he was dating, where we was working for his internship and even the addresses of the last two apartments where he lived.

Armed with this cornucopia of information, it would be very easy for the criminals to establish physical surveillance of Kaspersky in order to gather the additional behavioral information they needed to complete their plan for the abduction. Kaspersky also appears to have not been practicing the level of situational awareness required to detect the surveillance being conducted against him — even though it was being conducted by amateurish criminals who were undoubtedly clumsy in their surveillance tradecraft. This lack of awareness allowed the kidnappers to freely follow him and plot his abduction without fear of detection. Kaspersky made himself an easy target in a dangerous place for high net worth individuals and their families. While kidnapping for ransom is fairly rare in the United States, Russian law enforcement sources report that some 300 people are kidnapped for ransom every year in Russia.


In terms of being an easy target, Kaspersky was not alone. It is not uncommon for the children of high net worth families to want to break free of their family’s protective cocoon and “live like a regular person.” This means going to school, working, dating and living without being insulated from the world by the security measures in place around their parents and their childhood homes. This tendency was exemplified by the well-publicized example of George W. Bush’s twin daughters “ditching” their Secret Service security details so they could go out and party with their friends when they were in college.

Having personally worked as a member of an executive protection detail responsible for the security of a high net worth family, I have seen firsthand how cumbersome and limiting an executive protection detail can be — especially a traditional, overt-security detail. A low-key, “bubble-type” detail, which focuses on surveillance detection and protective intelligence, provides some space and freedom, but it, too, can be quite limiting and intrusive — especially for a young person who wants some freedom to live spontaneously. Because of the very nature of protective security, there will inevitably be a degree of tension between personal security and personal freedom.

However, when reacting to this tension, those protected must remember that there are very real dangers in the world — dangers that must be guarded against. Unfortunately, many people who reject security measures tend to live in a state of denial regarding the potential threats facing them, and that denial can land them in trouble. We have seen this mindset most strongly displayed in high net worth individuals who have recently acquired their wealth and have not yet been victimized by criminals. A prime example of this was U.S billionaire Eddie Lampert, who at the time of his abduction in 2003 did not believe there was any threat to his personal security. His first encounter with criminals was a traumatic kidnapping at gunpoint. But this mindset can also appear in younger members of well-established families of means who have not personally been victimized by criminals.

It is important to realize, however, that the choice between security and freedom does not have to be an either/or equation. There are measures that can be taken to protect high net worth individuals and children without employing a full protective security detail. These same measures can also be applied by people of more modest means living in places such as Mexico or Venezuela, where the kidnapping threat is pervasive and extends to almost every strata of society, from middle-class professionals and business owners to farmers.

In this type of environment, the threat also applies to mid-level corporate employees who serve tours as expatriate executives in foreign cities. Some of the cities they are posted in are among the most crime-ridden in the world, including such places as Mexico City, Caracas, Sao Paulo and Moscow. When placed in the middle of an impoverished society, even a mid-level executive or diplomat is, by comparison, incredibly rich. As a result, employees who would spend their lives under the radar of professional criminals back home in the United States, Canada or Europe can become prime targets for kidnapping, home invasion, burglary and carjacking in their overseas posts.

The Basics

Before anything else can be done to address the criminal threat, like any other issue, the fact that there is indeed a threat must first be recognized and acknowledged. As long as a potential target is in a state of denial, very little can be done to protect him or her.

Once the threat is recognized, the next step in devising a personal protection system is creating a realistic baseline assessment of the threat — and exposure to that threat. This assessment should start with some general research on crime and statistics for the area where the person lives, works or goes to school, and the travel corridors between these places. The potential for natural disasters, civil unrest — and in some cases the possibility of terrorism or even war — should also be considered. Based on this general crime-environment assessment, it might be determined that the kidnapping risk in a city such as Mexico City or Moscow will dictate that a child who has a desire to attend university without a protective security detail might be better off doing so in a safer environment abroad.

Building on these generalities, then, the next step should be to determine the specific threats and vulnerabilities by performing some basic analyses and diagnostics. In some cases, these will have to be performed by professionals, but they can also be undertaken by the individuals themselves if they lack the means to hire professional help. These analyses should include:

In-depth cyberstalking report. Most of the people for whom we have conducted such reports have been shocked to see how much private information analysts are able to dig up on the Internet. This information is available for free (or for a few dollars) to anyone, including criminals, who might be targeting people for kidnapping, extortion or other crimes. The problem of personal information being available on the Internetis magnified when potential targets gratuitously post personal information online, as in the Kaspersky case. Even in cases where personal information is available only to online “friends,” it is quite easy for savvy Internet users to use a false social networking account with an attractive photo to social engineer their way into a circle of friends using common pretexting tactics. Therefore, potential targets need to be extremely careful what they post online, and they also must be aware of what information about them is publicly available on the Internet and how that information may make them vulnerable to being targeted. If it is determined that the information available makes them too vulnerable, changes may have to be made.
Baseline surveillance diagnostics. Surveillance diagnostics is a blend of surveillance-detection techniques that are designed to determine if an individual is under systematic criminal surveillance. This can be conducted by the potential targets themselves, if they receive the necessary training, or by a specialized professional surveillance-detection team. As the name suggests, this diagnostic level helps establish a baseline from which to plan future security and surveillance-detection operations.
Route analysis. This type of analysis examines the regular travel routes of a potential target in order to identify locations such as choke points that can be used by criminals for surveillance or to conduct an attack. Route analysis can be performed by the same team that conducts surveillance diagnostics, or even by a potential target if the person will thoughtfully examine his or her daily travel routes. Such an analysis allows the potential target to be cognizant of such locations and of the need to increase situational awareness for signs of surveillance or a potential attack as he or she passes through them — especially during a highly predictable move like the morning home-to-work commute.
Physical security surveys. Such surveys are performed for the home, workplace or school of the potential target. While individuals can effectively conduct such surveys using common sense, a professional assessment can be useful and will often be performed for free by alarm companies. Obviously, any security upgrades required at a workplace or school will require coordination with the security managers for these locations.
Response capability assessment. This is a realistic assessment of the capabilities and responsiveness of the local police and security forces as well as fire and medical first-responders. In some places, security personnel themselves may be involved in criminal activity, or prove to be generally unresponsive or incompetent. Knowing their true capabilities is necessary to create a realistic security plan.
There are some very good private training facilities that can provide individuals with training in things like attack recognition/avoidance, surveillance detection and route analysis as well hands-on skills like tactical driving.

Guns Alone Are Not the Answer

Even if a potential target is being afforded a protection detail, it must be remembered that guards with guns are not in and of themselves a guarantee of security. If a group is brazen enough to undertake a kidnapping, they will in many cases and many places not hesitate to use deadly force in the commission of their crime. If they are given free rein to conduct pre-operational surveillance, they will be able to make plans to overcome any security measures in place, including the neutralizing of armed security personnel.

After recognizing that a threat indeed exists, the next key concept that potential targets need to internalize is that criminals are vulnerable to detection as they plan their crimes, and that ordinary people can develop the skills required to detect criminal activity and take measures to avoid being victimized. The fact is, most criminals practice terrible surveillance tradecraft. They are permitted to succeed in spite of their lack of skill because, for the most part, people simply do not practice good situational awareness.

The good news for potential targets is that being aware of one’s surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations is more a mindset or attitude than a hard skill. Because of this, situational awareness is not something that can be practiced only by highly trained government agents or specialized surveillance detection teams — it is something that can be practiced by anyone with the will and the discipline to do so. In the Kaspersky case, it is very likely that had the young man been practicing good situational awareness, he would have been able to note the criminals conducting surveillance on him and to take appropriate action to avoid being kidnapped.

Armed guards, armored vehicles and other forms of physical security are all valuable protective tools, but they can all be defeated by kidnappers who are allowed to form a plan and execute it at the time and place of their choosing. Clearly, a way is needed to deny kidnappers the advantage of striking when and where they choose or, even better, to stop a kidnapping before it can be launched. This is where the intelligence tools outlined above come into play. They permit the potential target, and any security officers working to protect them, to play on the action side of the action/reaction equation rather than passively waiting for something to happen.
Read more: The Kaspersky Kidnapping - Lessons Learned


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ron Paul's Statement on Federal Reserve's Press Conference

"Chairman Bernanke's press conference today was unprecedented, and it demonstrates that Federal Reserve officials are very concerned about growing public criticism of Fed policies. Although Mr. Bernanke predictably provided no substantive information, the American people want real answers about Fed bailouts, lending to foreign banks, and most of all inflation. Mr. Bernanke continues to ignore his culpability for the inflation all Americans suffer due to the Fed's relentless monetary expansion. Rising prices are the direct result of Fed devaluation of our dollar. Yet rather than addressing the Fed's loose dollar policy, Mr. Bernanke continues to assure us that inflation is not a problem.

Without the Federal Reserve's relentless expansion of credit throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, there could have been no excessive borrowing or explosion of subprime lending. Through easy credit, the Fed initiated the economic boom that created the dot-com bubble. When that bubble burst the Fed pumped additional liquidity into the system, which led to a new boom that created the housing bubble. Commodity prices have risen rapidly, producer prices have followed suit and consumers are already seeing the beginning of massive price increases passed on to them. And now the Fed's additional trillions of dollars in monetary pumping is creating yet another bubble. This is the exact opposite of stability in the marketplace and has nothing to do with free markets. It is central economic planning at its worst. And the end result may be hyperinflation and the destruction of our currency.

Now Americans are waking up to the dangers of the Fed's inflationary monetary policy, and they want it to stop. Today's staged press conference will not be enough to stop the growing demand for real Fed transparency, and I hope to build on that grassroots demand by passing legislation that will result in a true audit of the Fed's activities.

Support from my colleagues was vital in the last Congress in making progress towards Fed transparency, and I hope to build on that support in this Congress. It is well past time that we begin to rein in the Fed." - Congressman Ron Paul

Dick Morris Reports - Education: Revolution

Dick Morris Reports: Obama's Left Turn

israel today | Poll: Egyptians don't want peace with Israel - israel today

israel today | Poll: Egyptians don't want peace with Israel - israel today

Sen. Rand Paul on John King USA

Founding Fathers Quote

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

Thomas Paine

Is America Ready for Freedom?

I think the title asked the real question, it's not is America ready for Ron Paul, it's is America ready to live free? Freedom requires responsibility, it requires giving up the handouts. I know I'm ready for it, I long for it. I'm tired of the federal government interfering in every aspect of our life. The last presidential election I initially thought Ron Paul was crazy. Now I realize just how ignorant I was.

If we are ever to live in a free Republic again, it will take the election of people like Ron Paul. As far as all the talk that he's too radical for America,America elected Barack Obama the most radical president in recent history. A man who goes around the world apologizing for America, who seems hostile to almost everything American.

It's time people take their votes more serious, look beyond the soundbites, and educate themselves. The media will trash the best candidates while lifting up the shallow, big government types every time. Let's reclaim our Republic; don't let the media pick your candidate for president.

Russia Takes On Abortion

Encouraging news out of Russia. Legislation to cut the number of abortions is in the works. Like many countries throughout the world Russia is well aware of the devastating cost abortion is having on their population. Let's hope they get this legislation passed and that the world will be able to welcome millions of more Russian citizens.

I am saddened when I think of the millions of Americans who will never be born due to the scourge that is abortion in this country. Hopefully someday soon we will end the self-destructive practice of killing off the nation's young.

Ship of Fools

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ken Cuccinelli: Reasserting Federalism in Defense of Liberty

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

April 2011

Ken Cuccinelli
Attorney General of Virginia

Reasserting Federalism in Defense of Liberty

KEN CUCCINELLI was elected the Attorney General of Virginia in November 2009. From 2002-2009 he was a member of the Virginia State Senate. Prior to that he was a partner in the law firm of Cuccinelli and Day, where he specialized in business law. A graduate of the University of Virginia, he has an M.A. in international relations from George Mason University and a J.D. from the George Mason University School of Law and Economics.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 1, 2011, in the “First Principles on First Fridays” lecture series sponsored by Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

SOME FAVORITE VIRGINIANS OF MINE who inspired and crafted our federal Constitution—Mason, Madison, Jefferson, and Henry—also drafted the Constitution of Virginia. And in the latter, they included a critical statement that said, “No free government, nor the blessings of liberty, can be preserved . . . but by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”

Our founders well understood that our liberty could not be preserved without frequently referring back to first principles. But while they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to defend those principles, we have often taken them for granted, as we have become complacent in thinking that government will take care of every problem.

We have asked government to do more for us, and all the government asks for in return is a little bit more of our liberty. Over the decades, we kept asking. And because the courts and the politicians were all too happy to oblige, regardless of what the Constitution said, we no longer have a federal government of limited powers. We have an overreaching central government—a government that seeks to plan and control virtually every aspect of our lives and our economy, from health care, to energy, to automobile manufacturing, to banking and insurance.

Thankfully, though, in the last several years, people have woken up and are pushing back. With this pushback, we are seeing the idea of federalism reemerge. People want to return to a government of limited, enumerated powers, and an arrangement in which states serve as a check when the federal government oversteps its constitutional bounds.

In the current lawsuits brought by the states over health care and against the EPA, state governments are pushing back and reasserting federalism as the Founders intended them to do. Indeed, I am not aware of a time in history when this many states have sued the federal government to rein in its power: Today, more than half are parties to lawsuits against the new health care act and its individual health insurance mandate.

Virginia was the first state to argue in federal court that the new health care law is unconstitutional. When we brought the suit in March 2010, most media outlets and many legal experts said we stood no chance. One law professor said our argument about constitutionality was, if not frivolous, close to it. Another legal expert said our case relied on a “controversial reading of the Constitution.” Apparently, it is controversial to apply the Constitution as it was written.

But back in December, when a federal judge ruled in Virginia’s favor that the mandate is unconstitutional, assertions that we did not stand a chance faded fast.

Shades of King George III

Let me explain a bit about our lawsuit. Our first legal argument is that the government’s attempt to use the Commerce Clause of the Constitution to mandate the purchase of a private product—in this case, health insurance—goes beyond Congress’s power. The reason there has never been a mandate like this in all of American history is because, up until now, everyone knew Congress lacked the power to impose one.

I often give the example of the colonial period, when the colonists were boycotting British goods while demanding that King George III and Parliament repeal the Stamp Act and the Intolerable Acts. I am sure it was to the king’s dismay, but his own lawyer—the solicitor general—told Parliament that the boycott was legal under British law. In other words, the colonists could not be forced to buy British goods.

Yet in 2010, we had a president and a Congress who believed they could compel Americans to buy a private product even when the king of England, whom we rebelled against, knew he did not have that power. And back then, we were merely subjects!

The federal government has argued in court that not buying health insurance is as much of an economic activity as buying it, and therefore that it can regulate a citizen’s decision not to buy government-approved health insurance under the Commerce Clause. Nonactivity is the same as activity in the governmentÕs argument. Clearly, someone in Washington needs a dictionary.

That same reasoning could be used to force us to buy cars, vegetables, or gym memberships. If Virginia loses this suit and the federal government is allowed to cross this line, Congress will be granted a virtually unlimited power to order us to buy or do anything. It would be the end of federalism—not to mention individual rights—as we have known it for more than 220 years.

There is also a secondary argument made by defenders of the health care act. The Obama administration’s fallback position if it loses its Commerce Clause argument is to say that the fine for not buying government-approved health insurance is not a penalty, but a tax. The administration is asserting this because a tax to pay for a health care scheme would be constitutional under Congress’s taxing authority. We argue in response that the government cannot all of a sudden start calling a penalty a tax to try to make the law legal. In fact, every court that has heard the government’s tax argument has rejected it.

When Congress and President Obama debated the health care law, for political reasons, they repeatedly said that the fine for not buying health insurance was a penalty, not a tax. And indeed, under the law they passed, they structured it as a penalty. So now the administration is both flip-flopping and misrepresenting facts.

We will soon see which arguments the appeals court agrees with, because we will be arguing the case in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on May 10th. Whatever that ruling, the case will end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. That is why we are also running a second track and asking the Supreme Court to skip the Fourth Circuit and take the case directly. We have asked the court for this expedited review because states are already spending huge sums to implement their portions of the health care act, businesses are already making decisions about whether to cut or keep employee health plans, and real health care reform is on hold until the Supreme Court rules. If we do not get this suit resolved as quickly as possible, we impose crippling uncertainty on the states, businesses, individuals, and our entire economy.

Liberty as an Environmental Principle

As bad as the federal health care law is, the economic consequences of what the EPA has in store for us will be equally damaging to our freedom and our economy. Thus the EPA is another front in Virginia’s federalism fight.

In December 2009, the EPA declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants dangerous to public health because they are alleged to cause global warming. This finding gave the agency the immense power to regulate CO2 emissions—and remember, this dangerous pollutant, carbon dioxide, is what we exhale from our bodies every second of every day.

For the ruling, the EPA relied primarily on data from a United Nations global warming report. Emails leaked in 2009 in the Climategate scandal showed that some of the world’s prominent climatologists manipulated data to overstate the effects of carbon dioxide on the environment. Much of the U.N. report relied on that questionable data, and the EPA relied on that report. Since the revelations from the leaked emails became public, some scientists involved in the report have had to back off some of their positions and research. Renowned climate researcher Judith Curry of Georgia Tech, a long-time proponent of the global warming theory, admitted recently that there is no question that data in the U.N. report was misleading, and that “it is obvious that there has been deletion of adverse data” that would work against the theory of rapid global warming in the last century.

Pursuant to this, in February 2010, my office petitioned the EPA to reopen its hearings on greenhouse gases and review new evidence. Instead it ignored our request—in fact, it ignored the law. So we filed a federal lawsuit to force the hearings to be reopened, and we are still awaiting our day in court.

If the EPA is allowed to move forward with its regulation of carbon dioxide, costs to every American household are projected to increase by $3,000 a year due to higher prices for energy, food, clothing, and any other goods that require energy to manufacture or transport. Talk about taxing the poor!

In a document the EPA published on regulating greenhouse gas emissions in cars and light trucks, it admits that its new rules would add about $950 to the price of each new vehicle. And buried deep in the report, the EPA’s own models show that over the next 90 years these regulations would only reduce temperature increases by less than 0.03 degrees Fahrenheit. Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA, in testimony before Congress, called this amount of temperature difference “immeasurable.” But that has not stopped the agency from trying to move the new auto regulations forward.

Greenhouse gas regulations will also cost businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in increased energy costs, and could price several industries out of business or force them overseas, resulting in permanent job losses.

These are serious consequences of decisions made by unelected bureaucrats. All we are asking the EPA to do is to look at all the data, not just the data that supports the pre-conceived views of the people in charge.

For my challenges to these rules and to the federal government, I am accused of being a flat-earther and an enemy of science. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am not only an attorney; I was also an engineer. As a former engineer, I have a certain trust in science: the math, the scientific method, the certainties of the laws of physics, and the objective quest for new answers. But when science gets tainted by politics and money, and facts are set aside in the name of advancing a political agenda, it is no longer science.

And contrary to the image some in the media have created, I do not have a battle with environmental protection. In fact, my office works in close coordination with our Virginia regulatory agencies to enforce environmental laws. I also have seven children who will be on this earth for the better part of this century, and I have a vested interest in seeing that they have clean air, water, and land.

But I also have a vested interest in seeing that my children have the opportunity to get good jobs and achieve at least the same standard of living we have today. That means we have to balance care for our environment with care for our economy.

We also have to recognize that economic growth underwrites environmental protection. Wealthy countries pay for environmental improvement, and healthy economies are critical to it. The only places on earth that have strived for a clean environment share two key characteristics: free people and free markets. Economic success will help deliver environmental improvement far more effectively than any number of forcibly-applied regulations. Yet we are gradually suffocating our free market economy with command-and-control regulations from our federal government.

Freedom in the Balance

With the EPA’s attempts to regulate our lives by regulating the by-products of practically everything we buy and everything we do, and with the federal government’s attempt to assume the power to command us to buy its chosen health insurance, we face some of the most significant and unprecedented erosions of liberty in our lifetimes. And federalism—that tension between state sovereigns and the federal government—was designed for the very purpose of helping to preserve that liberty.

While we can derive some satisfaction from last November’s election results as a backlash against the centralization and growth of raw federal power, we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past where conservative victories were followed by liberal policies. We must ensure that the newly elected officeholders have learned from past mistakes. We must hold the representatives we put into office accountable to first principles, and then demand from them concrete action. For the failure of conservative principles has not been due to the principles themselves, but to the failure to fight for them.

At a time such as this, when principled conservatives do not control the reins of power in Washington, state attorneys general become the first line of defense against federal government overreach. When I ran for Attorney General of Virginia, I said that if the federal government crossed certain lines, I would challenge it. Unfortunately, we have a federal government that is giving us more opportunities to challenge it than I would like. But we are keeping our promise. With fellow Virginians and the American people, we have planted our flag and we are taking a stand. And if we are successful, future generations of Americans will have a chance to enjoy the liberty that has made America the envy of the world.

Success in this fight for federalism is critical, for as Ronald Reagan warned us:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.


Public Policy Poll shows Dr Paul in Iowa much, much stronger than in 2008

Public Policy Poll shows Dr Paul in Iowa much, much stronger than in 2008

Founding Fathers Quote

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.
Thomas Jefferson

Monday, April 25, 2011

STRATFOR Raw Intelligence Report: A View from Syria

Raw Intelligence Report: A View from Syria is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Editor’s Note: What follows is raw insight from a STRATFOR source in Syria. The following does not reflect STRATFOR’s view, but provides a perspective on the situation in Syria.

People are scared. An understatement, no doubt, but my friends — both foreign and Syrian — are worried about the developments. Almost all of my foreign friends are leaving and many have moved departing flights up in light of the recent events. Most Syrians don’t have this option and are weighing their options should sustained protests move to inner Damascus. Everyone is thinking along their sect even if they aren’t open about it. Much of the violence is attributed by Syrians to these mysterious “armed gangs.” Many are still placing hope in “Habibna” (literally “Our Love,” a nickname for the president) to bring about enough reforms to placate the demonstrators. A point that I was forced to make over and over is that a lot of the people protesting are doing so because someone they knew was killed and not because they were anti-government, although they are now. Privately, my Syrian friends admitted that Bashar [al Assad, the Syrian president] needs to make some major, major concessions quickly or risk continued protests and bloodshed of which would be attributed to him and not merely “the regime.”

By now we are all familiar with the cycle of protests reaching their high point on Fridays, after prayers. This Friday, however, was different for Syrians. Having seen the infamous emergency law lifted, albeit with serious caveats, Syrians were hoping for a relaxing of the security responses to the demonstrations. What they got was half as many demonstrators killed in one day as in all the days of demonstrations preceding it combined. It was almost as if things had been safer when the emergency law had been in effect. (On a side note, my friend guessed that maybe two out of every 100 Syrians could actually tell you what the emergency law was.) What was most striking about the demonstrations was that there were two in Damascus itself (Midan on Friday, April 22, and Berze on Saturday, April 23). While not in the city center these are by no means the far suburbs and countryside of Daraa or Douma. There were also protests in Muadamiyeh, which is right outside town next to the main bus station. I’ve heard that tanks along this road were seen April 24 pointing their guns not in the direction of the road but toward the city. The regime and everyone is terrified about protests in the city itself.

You could see the depression in the air on Saturday. Everyone knew that those killed from the day before would be having large funerals today and that those gatherings would likely be attacked as well. My Christian friends were especially worried due to rumors that churches were going to be bombed on Easter. As my friend put it, “I know they’re just rumors but I’m afraid they [the security apparatus] might actually do it.”

What is becoming increasingly apparent is that Bashar is not the reformer he claimed to be. His words are not being met by real, concrete action. Even though he might have wanted to reform and may have been hampered by others in the regime (cousin Rami Makhlouf, brother Maher), these efforts are steadily losing traction. The regime seems to be playing by “Hama rules” in its response to the demonstrations and it’s unlikely that this is happening without Bashar’s full consent at this point. The most positive assessment of him I heard was that he still wanted true reforms (although nothing game-changing) but that he was growing impatient with the demonstrators. One person conjectured that Bashar’s mistake was promising reforms when he first came to power. “If he hadn’t promised ‘reforms’ and not delivered on them people wouldn’t be so mad. He shouldn’t have said anything and given everyone false hope or actually followed through on them.”

Support for the protests is mixed. Many of those out in the streets are there because someone close to them was killed. Think tribal mentality: I wasn’t mad at you before but you killed my cousin/brother/friend and now I am mad. People are gathering to defend their honor. There is almost no organization inside Syria among the protesters. I asked several people and they agreed that the Muslim Brotherhood was almost non-present in the country. All that is coordinated is information being leaked out about the responses by the security forces against the protesters. As I told my friend, the problem is that unlike in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, all the demonstrators are dispersed across the country and do not have enough time to talk to each other to decide what they wanted. There is also a fairly widely held belief that much of the killings are taking place as a result of these armed gangs firing on security forces and innocents being caught in the crossfire. Some are quick to blame “foreign conspirators” although several of my friends admitted that whatever meddling by Abdul Halim Khaddam (the former Syrian vice president) and Rifaat al Assad (the president’s uncle living in exile in the United Kingdom) was minimal. Both of these guys have very, very little support on the ground and while the Muslim Brotherhood might have some latent support among Sunnis, they would not be welcome by any of the minorities in Syria.

At this point the regime is going to have to go Hama-style if it wants to completely shut down the protests, otherwise it will have to make some major concessions like multiparty elections and presidential term limits, which the regime won’t accept. From what I’ve heard is going on today it looks like the regime is opting to play it Hama-style.

Read more: Raw Intelligence Report: A View from Syria | STRATFOR

Gov. Scott Walker Answers Your Questions Part 3



Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

Ron Paul: Waking Up to Economic Realities

Waking Up to Economic Realities

Last week the financial markets were roiled by Standard & Poor’s announcement that they will change their outlook on the fiscal health of the United States over the next two years from “stable” to “negative”. The administration decried this decision as political. However, it seems the only political thing about this decision is the fact that it took so long. The Washington Post recently reported that the White House and the Treasury Department put tremendous pressure on S&P not to do this. However, if S&P made its ratings based on political pressures rather than economic reality, it would cease to have any relevance to the business community. Even if S&P delayed its announcement that U.S. government bond market would be downgraded, at some point it would become obvious that the finances of this country are out of control and our leadership is out of touch. All credibility would be lost if S&P simply continued to assign U.S. debt a AAA rating.

S&P noted in its announcement that negotiations among leaders in Washington to address deficit concerns did not sound promising, and expressed skepticism that politicians could agree to any viable budget compromise. Of course this has been obvious for years but in the midst of the current debate over raising the debt limit it is perhaps the wake-up call that Washington needs. For decades politicians and government officials have been able to maintain their denial about our real financial situation, patching the system together by passing emergency and supplemental funding bills, issuing more debt, and allowing the Federal Reserve and foreign creditors to paper over deficits with more monetary expansion. I’ve said many times the real day of reckoning comes when fiscal and monetary tricks no longer work and there are no buyers for our debt.

Even the most conservative budget that has been proposed by Republican leadership requires raising the debt ceiling by an additional $9 trillion by 2021. This demonstrates absolutely that no one in power right now has any real intention of addressing our spending problems or paying down the debt. They simply expect to continue to borrow and run up more debt forever, without limit. Yet they always imagine our dollar will have value no matter how many we print. This expectation is foolish and naïve. I guarantee that those buying our debt are not foolish and naïve enough to go along with this charade forever.

The S&P announcement may just be the harbinger of economic realities acting as a restraint on government expansion. Government is not anxious to cap its own growth, in spite of misnomers like “debt limit” or “deficit reduction”. Government will continue to grow like a cancer, sapping our country of its wealth and freedom until the laws of economics no longer can be ignored.