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The Seamless Web of Liberty

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Many people think the Internal Revenue Service was violating civil liberties when it harassed tea party groups. After all, the groups were targeted because they wanted to exercise their civil liberty to challenge government policies. However, the specific issue in the IRS case was the groups’ application for tax-exempt status, which seems to be an aspect of economic liberty. In fact, the IRS case demonstrates that there is no meaningful distinction between civil and economic liberties. A true friend of the free society defends both civil and economic liberties.

Many “civil libertarians” who oppose government laws interfering in the personal choices of consenting adults support laws preventing consenting adults from working for below the minimum wage. Other civil libertarians support government programs forcing consenting adults to purchase health insurance. Many liberals who join libertarians in opposing the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping fail to protest Obamacare’s assault on medical privacy. Even worse are those “First Amendment defenders” who cheer on government actions preventing religious individuals from operating their businesses in accord with the teachings of their faith.
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Real Education Reform Leaves the Government Behind

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Among the items awaiting Congress when it returns from its August break is reconciling competing House and Senate bills reauthorizing No Child Left Behind. These bills passed early this spring. Each bill is being marketed as a huge step toward restoring state and local control over education. However, an examination of both bills shows that both provide local schools with only limited relief from a few federal mandates.

The biggest problem with these so-called reform bills is that they do not significantly reduce federal education spending. Congress and the executive branch use the promise of “free” money — which they have taken from the American taxpayer — to convince state and local governments to allow the federal government to control the classrooms. The only way to protect American schoolchildren from schemes like Common Core is to repeal, not replace, the federal Department of Education.
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Politics Is Not the Path to Pro-Life Victory

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During my time in Congress, I regularly introduced legislation forbidding organizations that perform abortions from receiving federal funding. The US Government should not force taxpayers to subsidize an activity they believe is murder. Thus, while I was horrified by the recently released videos showing Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing selling the organs of aborted babies, I am glad that the reaction to these videos has renewed efforts to end federal funding of abortion.

My experience in Congress does not leave me optimistic that federal funding of Planned Parenthood will be ended this year, however. This is not just because the current US president is pro-abortion. When I started my efforts to end taxpayer support of abortion, I was shocked to find out how many Republicans, including some self-described “pro-life” leaders, were unsupportive of, and sometimes hostile to, my efforts.
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Do We Need to Bring Back Internment Camps?

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Last week, Retired General Wesley Clark, who was NATO commander during the US bombing of Serbia, proposed that “disloyal Americans” be sent to internment camps for the “duration of the conflict.” Discussing the recent military base shootings in Chattanooga, TN, in which five US service members were killed, Clark recalled the internment of American citizens during World War II who were merely suspected of having Nazi sympathies. He said: “back then we didn’t say ‘that was freedom of speech,’ we put him in a camp.”
 
He called for the government to identify people most likely to be radicalized so we can “cut this off at the beginning.” That sounds like “pre-crime”!

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Iran Agreement Boosts Peace, Defeats Neocons

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Last week’s successfully concluded Iran agreement is one of the two most important achievements of an otherwise pretty dismal Obama presidency. Along with the ongoing process of normalizing relations with Cuba, this move shows that diplomacy can produce peaceful, positive changes. It also shows that sometimes taking a principled position means facing down overwhelming opposition from all sides and not backing down. The president should be commended for both of these achievements.
 
The agreement has reduced the chance of a US attack on Iran, which is a great development. But the interventionists will not give up so easily. Already they are organizing media and lobbying efforts to defeat the agreement in Congress. Will they have enough votes to over-ride a presidential veto of their rejection of the deal? It is unlikely, but at this point if the neocons can force the US out of the deal it may not make much difference. Which of our allies, who are now facing the prospect of mutually-beneficial trade with Iran, will be enthusiastic about going back to the days of a trade embargo? Which will support an attack on an Iran that has proven to be an important trading partner and has also proven reasonable in allowing intrusive inspections of its nuclear energy program?
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Greece Today, America Tomorrow?

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The drama over Greece’s financial crisis continues to dominate the headlines. As this column is being written, a deal may have been reached providing Greece with yet another bailout if the Greek government adopts new “austerity” measures. The deal will allow all sides to brag about how they came together to save the Greek economy and the European Monetary Union. However, this deal is merely a Band-Aid, not a permanent fix to Greece’s problems. So another crisis is inevitable.


The Greek crisis provides a look into what awaits us unless we stop overspending on warfare and welfare and restore a sound monetary system. While most commentators have focused on Greece’s welfare state, much of Greece’s deficit was caused by excessive military spending. Even as its economy collapses and the government makes (minor) cuts in welfare spending, Greece’s military budget remains among the largest in the European Union.
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For Normal Relations With Cuba, End US Interventionism

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Last week we saw an encouraging sign that the 50 year cold war between the US and Cuba was finally coming to an end. President Obama announced on Wednesday that the US and Cuba would restore full diplomatic relations and that embassies could be re-opened in each country by the end of the month.


For this achievement, which was resisted by vested interests in the US, Obama should be praised. However we shouldn¹t be too optimistic about truly establishing normal relations until we understand how relations became so abnormal in the first place. The destruction of relations between the two countries was preceded by US intervention on behalf of a hated Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, which had turned the Cuban people against the United States and set the stage for the emergence of Fidel Castro.
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Obamacare’s Best Allies: The Courts and the Republicans

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By ruling for the government in the case of King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court once again tied itself into rhetorical and logical knots to defend Obamacare. In King, the court disregarded Obamacare’s clear language regarding eligibility for federal health care subsides, on the grounds that enforcing the statute as written would cause havoc in the marketplace. The court found that Congress could not have intended this result and that the court needed to uphold Congress’s mythical intention and ignore Obamacare’s actual language.

While Obamacare may be safe from court challenges, its future is far from assured. As Obamacare forces more Americans to pay higher insurance premiums while causing others to lose their insurance or lose access to the physicians of their choice, opposition to Obamacare will grow. Additional Americans will turn against Obamacare as their employers reduce their hours, along with their paychecks, because of Obamacare’s mandates.
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Will Seizure of Russian Assets Hasten Dollar Decline?

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While much of the world focused last week on whether or not the Federal Reserve was going to raise interest rates, or whether the Greek debt crisis would bring Europe to a crisis, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague awarded a $50 billion judgment to shareholders of the former oil company Yukos in their case against the Russian government. The governments of Belgium and France moved immediately to freeze Russian state assets in their countries, naturally provoking the anger of the Russian government.

The timing of these actions is quite curious, coming as the Greek crisis in the EU seems to be reaching a tipping point and Greece, having perhaps abandoned the possibility of rapprochement with Europe, has been making overtures to Russia to help bail it out of its mess. And with the IMF's recent statement pledging its full and unconditional support to Ukraine, it has become even more clear that the IMF and other major multilateral institutions are not blindly technical organizations, but rather are totally subservient lackeys to the foreign policy agenda emanating from Washington. Toe the DC party line and the internationalists will bail you out regardless of how badly you mess up, but if you even think about talking to Russia you will face serious consequences.
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Death Penalty: The Ultimate Corrupt, Big Government Program

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Nebraska’s legislature recently made headlines when it ended the state’s death penalty. Many found it odd that a conservatives-dominated legislature would support ending capital punishment, since conservative politicians have traditionally supported the death penalty. However, an increasing number of conservatives are realizing that the death penalty is inconsistent with both fiscal and social conservatism. These conservatives are joining with libertarians and liberals in a growing anti-death penalty coalition.

It is hard to find a more wasteful and inefficient government program than the death penalty. New Hampshire recently spent over $4 million dollars prosecuting just two death penalty cases, while Jasper County in Texas raised property taxes by seven percent in order to pay for one death penalty case! A Duke University study found that replacing North Carolina’s death penalty would save taxpayers approximately $22 million dollars in just two years.
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