Peace and Prosperity Ron Paul Institute's flagship blog Copyright Ron Paul Institute Sun, 27 May 2018 20:44:25 GMT Sun, 27 May 2018 20:44:25 GMT Five Minutes Five Issues: Kim Meeting, Empire, Venezuela Threat, Campaign Spying, Utah Marijuana Adam Dick A new episode of Five Minutes Five Issues is available. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at StitcheriTunesYouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

Imagine you are a political leader in a relatively poor country that, for decades after a major war against one of the wealthiest countries in the world that has not been concluded with a peace treaty, has endured tens of thousands of that nation’s military forces stationed across the border engaging in massive military exercises. Now imagine the vice president of that other nation threatens to bomb your country relentlessly, fund a ground invasion, and ensure the physical destruction of much of your country, the death of many inhabitants, and the elimination of the government, including the killing of yourself.

This is pretty much United States Vice President Mike Pence’s threat toward North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un when Pence said this week the US may deal with North Korea the way it dealt with Libya, something US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton had also suggested recently.

Thursday morning, Trump canceled a planned June 12 meeting with Kim that was hoped to significantly reduce tensions. Trump explained in a letter to Kim that the cancelation was in response to “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed” in a North Korean government statement responding to Pence. In other words, Trump cancelled the meeting because North Korea reacted in a normal and clearly expectable way to extreme threats from high-level members of Trump’s administration.

Issue two.

Writing at, Michael S. Rozeff makes an important observation about empire and the US government in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying in a Monday Heritage Foundation speech that Iran threatens Americans’ safety.

Rozeff writes:
Pompeo and the rest of the foreign policy and defense establishment are men and women of empire. The Congress is too. This means that they do not act on behalf of America and Americans. They act on behalf of the empire. They are always giving us Americans a song and dance that they’re acting for our own good, our safety.
Issue three.

On Tuesday, the Venezuela government expelled two top US diplomats, with President Nicolás Maduro calling one the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Venezuela and accusing both of interfering in the nation’s recent presidential election.

US Vice President Pence’s Twitter post in response confirms Maduro’s general concern.

Pence wrote:
Nicolás Maduro just expelled our senior American diplomat from Venezuela following their sham elections. This provocation will be met with a swift response. We will continue to pressure Venezuela’s illegitimate regime until democracy is restored.
There you have it, the US vice president’s priority for Venezuela is overthrowing the country’s government.

Issue four.

President Trump is right to be upset about the US government spying on his 2016 presidential campaign. But, how unique is such spying? Lee Edwards, who now works at the Heritage Foundation, was director of information for Senator Barry Goldwater’s (R-AZ) 1964 presidential campaign. Edwards wrote Thursday at the Wall Street Journal about extensive spying on that campaign by the US government for the benefit of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was seeking reelection. The spying, writes Edwards, included a CIA spy in Goldwater campaign headquarters obtaining information about Goldwater’s upcoming travel and speeches, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arranging “widespread wiretapping of the Goldwater campaign.”

Issue five.

In the May 5 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about opponents of medical marijuana hiring canvassers to encourage people who signed petitions supporting placing a medical marijuana measure on the November Utah ballot to remove their signatures. Now medical marijuana opponents are pursuing a new means to prevent the vote that polling suggests will approve medical marijuana in Utah. Medical marijuana opponents, writes Taylor W. Anderson at the Salt Lake Tribune, have filed a lawsuit arguing the measure should be prevented from appearing on the ballot because medical marijuana legalization in the state would violate US law. That seems like a strange argument given that over the last 22 years three-fifths of the states have legalized medical marijuana.


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.]]> Sun, 27 May 2018 20:44:25 GMT
Why Ron Paul Thinks He Would Likely Be Impeached if He Were President Adam Dick
Watch Paul’s interview here:

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Decades of Unconstitutional Wars Adam Dick

Despite United States Congress members insisting that Congress debate and vote on US military actions overseas, congressional leadership has chosen inaction, allowing military actions unilaterally pursued by the executive branch to continue unrestrained. And, when, this year, consideration has begun to move forward on an authorization for use of military force (AUMF), it is in the form of legislation (S.J.Res. 59) sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) that would rubber-stamp the US government’s existing wars and sweepingly authorize the executive branch to choose to pursue much more additional military action across the world.

How did we reach this situation so far removed from the US Constitution’s dictate that Congress alone decides if the US goes to war, as well as what is the scope of any such wars? Constitutional scholar Louis Fisher examines this question in detail in his article “Unconstitutional Wars from Truman Forward” in the latest issue of the Center for the Study of Statesmanship’s journal Humanitas.

In his article, Fisher, who is a member of the Ron Paul Institute Academic Board, lays out the clear direction in the Constitution that it is Congress alone that has the power to place the US into war as well as to define the limits of any war it authorizes. Fisher supports this argument with a discussion of both the wording of the Constitution and context including statements of Founding Fathers.

The legislature’s power over war, Fisher notes, was recognized in the judiciary in the early years of the US. As an example, Fisher discusses an 1804 US Supreme Court decision requiring the payment of damages for a US naval captain seizing a Danish ship that was sailing from a French port. President John Adams, in ordering the seizing of ships sailing to or from French ports in the Quasi-War, had ordered actions beyond the scope of congressional authorization that only said ships could be seized that were sailing to French ports.

Then, in 1936, the US Supreme Court decision in the case United States v. Curtis-Wright Export Corporation included dicta (comments made in a decision though not part of the decision’s holding or the reasoning used to reach the holding) supporting expansive presidential power to unilaterally pursue war. While Fisher, in his article, shows in detail the faults with the dicta, he also notes that the argument presented in the dicta has “expanded presidential power from one decade to the next.”

Another avenue supporting expanded presidential powers in regard to war, which Fisher explores in detail, is presidents pointing to international organizations, whether the United Nations (UN) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to improperly attempt to justify military actions without congressional authorization. Similarly, Fisher critiques arguments rooted in the War Powers Resolution and the 2001 AUMF related to the September 11, 2001 attacks in America and the 2002 AUMF regarding Iraq for excusing the executive branch unilaterally pursuing military actions around the world.

Read Fisher’s article here.]]> Wed, 23 May 2018 18:31:33 GMT
Ambassador Faith Whittlesey, Rest in Peace Daniel McAdams
With Ambassador Faith Whittlesey, Holzegg Switzerland, 2006.

It is with deep personal sorrow that I announce to our readers the passing of dear friend, mentor, and Ron Paul Institute Board Member, Ambassador Faith Whittlesey. Ambassador Whittlesey was truly a remarkable woman whom I admired so very much and cared about deeply.

I first met Ambassador Whittlesey when I was selected to be an American-Swiss Foundation Young Leader in 2006, spending a week in Zurich with our "Young Leader" counterparts in Swiss government, culture, and industry. Long after many of the other "Young Leaders" had gone to bed, Ambassador Whittlesey would remain awake with a hard core of us, passionately debating politics and especially foreign policy into the wee hours of the morning. She was conservative to the core and robustly rejected the globalism of the neoconservatives and their endless wars. I remember those often heated discussions, where she would refute one after the other of the neocon talking points that some would throw at her. But she always did it with a smile on her face and a deep belief that with patience they would come around to share her view.

I've noted with some interest that several of those once gathered around that very table have gone on to national and international renown. I hope they remember her words of wisdom shared at that late-night table at the Credit Suisse retreat house that served as our headquarters for the week.

Ambassador Whittlesey was always charitable in her dealings with even those who sharply disagreed with her. She remained convinced that given enough time, everyone would come around to our point of view that our foreign policy was deeply broken and we needed to end the neocon idea of remaking the world in our own image through the barrel of a gun. She was an eternal optimist and it was one of her most endearing traits.

Though an amazing diplomat, Ambassador Whittlesey was never afraid to speak her mind and never minced her words. I remember at the 2007 annual get-together of American Swiss Young Leaders at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC, when a group of us gathered around Ambassador Whittlesey to discuss who we supported in the upcoming US presidential race. Some liked Romney, others said McCain, or Huckabee, or one of the others. When all eyes turned to Ambassador Whittlesey, she said in a clear, strong voice and without a moment's hesitation, "I'm for Ron Paul for President!" The others looked shocked to hear her endorse the anti-establishment candidate. I was so proud to hear her spirited defense of Dr. Paul. That's classic Faith Whittlesey. Ask her what she thinks and she'll tell you. She never wavered in her enthusiastic support for Ron Paul in both 2008 and 2012.

From the earliest pre-planning stages of what became the Ron Paul Institute, Ambassador Whittlesey was always there to help. We would have lunches and breakfasts together and she would so generously share her enormous wisdom and experience in the business. She always had time to answer a question, re-assure me when I had a crisis of confidence in myself and the project, and encourage me to keep up the hard work. I was so honored when she agreed to join the Advisory Board of the Ron Paul Institute and I have been grateful for her ongoing encouragement and involvement in this project. I last saw her at our annual Washington, DC conference in September, 2017. It was always so exciting to speak with her because she was so incredibly plugged in to what was happening both in front of and especially behind the scenes.

Dear Ambassador Whittlesey, Dear Faith, the world is a darker place with your departure. You are so very missed. I pray you receive your eternal reward for your strong and enduring Catholic faith.]]> Mon, 21 May 2018 19:50:38 GMT
Trump's Newest Threat To North Korea Makes A Deal Impossible Moon of Alabama

President Trump again derailed the negotiations with North Korea. It will be difficult to get them back on track. The attitude he showed  makes it unlikely that any deal will be made.

Tuesday night North Korea threatened to cancel the summit with U.S. President Trump. Remarks by U.S. National Security Advisor Bolton that the "Libya model" would be applied to North Korea were taken as insult.

Libya had bought some equipment that could be used to eventually start Uranium enrichment. But it never had a coordinated program to develop nuclear weapons nor did it have the industrial and academic base to pursue such a project. To get out of sanctions Libya gave up the little material it had. All was shipped to the U.S. before the sanctions were lifted. Bolton probably referred to only that part of the "Libya model".

But there is also the other part. A few years after Libya had given up its minuscule nuclear stuff France, the United Kingdom and the U.S. (FUKUS) waged a regime change war against it. With U.S. help Muhammad Ghaddafi was murdered by radical Islamists and Hillary Clinton even joked (vid) about it. Libya has since devolved into total chaos and a multi-sided tribal war with continued foreign meddling.

North Korea naturally rejects both parts of the Libya model. It sees itself -quite rightly- as a full fledged nuclear state. It demands negotiations on an equal base.

On Wednesday, after the North Korean threat to cancel the summit, the White House spokesperson pulled back on Bolton's "Libya model":
Referring to the Libya comparison, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that she hadn't "seen that as part of any discussions so I'm not aware that that's a model that we're using.

"I haven't seen that that's a specific thing. I know that that comment was made. There's not a cookie cutter model on how this would work."<
The train to the summit seemed back on its track. Then Donald Trump derailed it again.

During a press conference yesterday he was asked about the "Libya model" issue (vid) and, in a seemingly off the cuff remark, managed to push the divisive comparison to a new level:
“The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy.”
One might call that the 'art of the mafia deal': "Sign here or I will kill you."

Some media pretend that Trump was only "assuring" Kim Jong-un. Reuters headlined Trump seeks to placate North Korea's Kim over uncertain summit; the New York Times: Trump and North Korea Rebuff Bolton’s ‘Libya Model’; Politico: Trump offers North Korea’s Kim assurances and a warning.

In my book a thread of "total decimation" is a quite a bit more than "a warning".

The British Guardian had a more realistic take: Donald Trump's threat to Kim Jong-un: make a deal or suffer same fate as Gaddafi.

The threat Trump made shows North Korea that it was right to acquire nuclear weapons and the capability to launch them onto the continental United States. Giving them up would be suicidal.

Trump also mumbled that he would give "strong assurances" to North Korea and Kim Jong-un for their safety should they make a deal. He did not explain what those assurances would be. The way Trump destroyed the nuclear agreement with Iran, which came with "strong assurances" from a U.S president and a UN Security Council endorsement, demonstrates that no assurance the U.S. ever gives is worth the paper it is written on.

When the summit was announced I gave it little chance to succeed because there were too many potential spoilers with interests to keep the conflict with North Korea going. These include John Bolton, the U.S. military and the Japan's president Abe.

North Korea will surely respond to Trump's "total decimation" threat. It will likely pull out of the summit, planned for June 12 in Singapore.  It may come back if the White House backtracks on Trump's remarks. China, which is nudging North Korea and the U.S. towards making a deal, will let the White House know what it needs to do.

But I now believe that the summit, if it takes place at all, has zero chance to succeed. Trump has no knowledge of the political and technical details and no feel for Asian culture. He will huff and puff and insult his negotiation partner. He will likely demand the total nuclear disarmament of North Korea. He will end up with no deal.

Only after that failure will he learn that a "total decimation" of North Korea is not an option he can pursue.

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.]]> Sat, 19 May 2018 05:44:06 GMT
Ron Paul Supports American Exceptionalism?! Adam Dick
Asked on the show whether the average American voter wants the US to be a superpower, Paul responds that:
Well, I think everybody in every country wants to be, you know, a ‘superpower’ — influential and an example. But, the superpower you’re talking about, I think, is the wrong way to go. I’d like to think of American exceptionalism, but it’s quite a bit different than us going over and telling people how to run their elections and who should be in charge of their government and using our [Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)] to overthrow government. But, I think we should be an exceptional nation on setting examples on free markets and civil liberties and these sort of things so other people want to emulate us.
Watch the entire panel discussion, in which Paul addresses various US foreign policy matters, here:

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Washington, DC: Where Torture is More Forgivable Than Harassment Mary Theroux

Less than a month ago, President Trump’s nominee for the VA head chose to withdraw his name from consideration as allegations mounted—which he vehemently denied—of his having created a “toxic” work environment and assorted other peccadillos. Meanwhile, most of us have lost count of how many members of Congress have resigned due to allegations of sexual harassment of various degrees, some proven, some not, including, for example, Al Franken, who issued this mea culpa:
The first thing I want to do is apologize: to [accuser] Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women.
Not good enough, Al.

Yet the Senate now stands poised to confirm the nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA Director. Ms. Haspel has been accused, not by one or two individuals, but by more than 100 military generals and admirals, of directly overseeing torture, and subsequently covering it up and destroying evidence.

And to what do Senators who had earlier expressed opposition to her appointment now attribute their change of heart? Well, it seems she has changed her mind about torture:

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and an influential voice on national security, announced Tuesday he would back Gina Haspel. He cited a new letter in which she said that the agency shouldn’t have undertaken a post-9/11 antiterrorism program that many critics say amounted to torture.— ”Gina Haspel Wins Key Democrat’s Backing, Paving Way to CIA Confirmation

Ms. Haspel’s statement:

With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken. The United States must be an example to the rest of the world, and I support that.

Notice that she makes no mention of her role nor makes any apology for it.

It’s hard to avoid drawing the lesson that for career success in DC, small sins are for chumps, while torture, killing of innocents, and mass surveillance garner the big rewards.

Are we ready to withhold our consent to be governed by these moral bankrupts yet?

Reprinted with permission from The Independent Institute.

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Ron Paul Interview with Larry King: Foreign Policy, Mueller Investigation, and More Adam Dick
Throughout, Paul provides interesting insights. Here are some samples from the discussion.

Mueller’s investigation seems “extreme” in its “aggressiveness to get Trump,” says Paul. Paul continues that the investigation is “out of control” and that Trump would be wise not to agree to be interviewed by Mueller or Mueller’s prosecutors.

Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State? Pompeo “is way too hawkish for libertarians,” answers Paul.

The nomination of Gina Haspel for director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)? “I think it’s horrible because I think she truly was involved with the torture,” responds Paul. And, Paul says, Haspel has similar policy views as Pompeo: “It’s aggressiveness, it’s interventionism, warmongering, and civil liberties don’t mean a whole lot.”

Paul Ryan as US House speaker? “Mediocre at best,” says Paul.

Asked about Donald Trump’s presidency, Paul says that it has brought about “no improvement whatsoever” in terms of “the size and scope of government.” Increased spying and increased money spent on militarism, as well as more domestic spending, Paul explains, are coming from the Trump presidency.

Watch Paul’s complete interview, in which Paul also addresses matters including tariffs and the American economy, here:

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Voters in Several States Set to Roll Back Marijuana Prohibition This Year Adam Dick

Polling suggests approval of state ballot measures in upcoming elections this year that would cause the number of states with legal medical marijuana to grow by three and with legal recreational marijuana to grow by one. Absent earlier legislative action in other states, recreational marijuana legalization approval in Michigan would make it the tenth state with such legalization, and medical marijuana legalization in Oklahoma and Utah, as well as Missouri where petition signatures for ballot measures have not yet been counted and verified, would bring the total number of states with legal medical marijuana up to 33. Tom Angell discusses in a Thursday Forbes article the polling indicating substantial majority support in these states for the respective forms of legalization the ballot measures include.

The movement of states to roll back marijuana prohibition, via ballot measures as well as bills approved by state legislatures and signed into law by governors, is a very important development for advancing respect for liberty in America. First, it significantly limits the war on drugs in America. That war on drugs has been a basis for the expansion of government power at the expense of people’s liberty and safety. Restraining or ending the war on marijuana in a state does not eliminate the war on many other drugs or all the terrible consequences of the broader drug war. But, it does provide relief from a portion of the broader drug war’s harms.

Second, rolling back marijuana prohibition at the state level provides an example for how states can withdraw from participation in aspects of dug prohibition pursued by the United States government, while demonstrating the nonsense of the Chicken Little arguments against ending prohibition. When people see that marijuana legalization, both medical and recreational, makes things better, they are more likely to consider that similar good results would come from ending the entire drug war.

Third, states going their own ways regarding marijuana laws are exercising an important check on the power of the US government. The Constitution defines the US government as having limited and enumerated powers, and provides no power to the US government to pursue drug prohibition. Nonetheless, the US government has pursued prohibition. While states may be powerless, short of war against the US, to stop the US government’s drug war, they can withdraw from participating in all of the drug war or any part of it — such as the war on marijuana. Without the cooperation of state and local police and judiciaries, as well as other state and local government resources, the US government lacks much of its prior ability to pursue the drug war.

Fourth, while Congress, successive presidents, and the US court system seem to have little interest overall in reducing the reach of US government power, states have shown through restraining marijuana prohibition that they can provide a check on expansive US powers. Let’s hope that marijuana law changes in states will lead to state actions to withdraw cooperation with the US government in areas beyond the war on drugs as well, thus limiting the power of the US government and expanding respect for liberty.]]> Tue, 15 May 2018 13:54:11 GMT
War Codes in Trump's Iran Proclamation Daniel McAdams undefined

Today President Trump announced that he was canceling US participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. The president's assertions were ludicrous and factually incorrect, but the neocons who were no doubt behind the speech have never been all that wedded to the truth. It became obvious fairly on that Trump's rationale was not to be taken seriously, when he cited last week's comical stage performance by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "Iran Lied" about its nuclear program.

Netanyahu's fairy tale required us to believe that the Iranians were storing their most sensitive national security (paper) documents and compact discs in an unguarded desert hut, which the crack Israeli team of intelligence operatives were able to discover and remove by the truckload right under the noses of what they claim is among the most totalitarian "regimes" on earth.

And even if one believes that fairy tale, one is required to suspend logic and reason and conclude that evidence that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons technology but had halted the program by 2003 is actually proof that Iran is currently pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities -- despite repeated inspections that have concluded otherwise. Really, it's something a child could see through. Which is perhaps why the neocons were so successful at packaging it for Trump's consumption.

Likewise Trump's claim that Iran is the world's leading sponsor of terrorism...for among other things fighting actual terrorists (al-Qaeda and ISIS) in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government!

Only in the twisted world of the neocons can one country arming al-Qaeda and ISIS (the US) be "anti-terrorist" and another country killing al-Qaeda and ISIS (Iran) be "pro-terrorist."

But all that aside, there is something potentially earth-shattering in what at first appears to be just bluster and blunder by President Trump. With neocons in charge of the words coming out of his mouth we should not believe it was an accident.

When President Trump uttered this line: "Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provides assistance to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, al-Qaida, and other terrorist networks," he was signaling his official determination that Iran is one of the "associated forces" that is fair game for US bombs as outlined in the post-9/11 authorization for the use of military force.

In short, Trump's sentence indicates, in our convoluted and post-Constitutional current reality, that President Trump believes he has all the authority he needs to initiate an attack on Iran. 

Forget all the other speculation on Trump's speech. This is the only thing to really focus on.

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Huge Increase in NSA’s Phone Calls and Text Messages Collection after 'Major Reform' of Mass Surveillance Program Adam Dick

On Friday, the National Security Agency (NSA), which has played a primary role in the United States government’s mass surveillance program exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, disclosed it had collected 534 million phone calls and text messages of Americans in 2017 — more than three times the amount it collected the year before. But, what about the USA FREEDOM Act that the US Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law in 2015? There was much fanfare when the USA FREEDOM Act was enacted and during its consideration in Congress that the legislation’s “reform” would impose major new restraints on the mass surveillance program in order to defend liberty and privacy.

It turns out Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano called it right in a video commentary soon after the legislation was enacted in June of 2015. The Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board member and former New Jersey state judge had reviewed the legislation and determined it just established “a very slight difference in the manner” by which information would be acquired in the ongoing mass surveillance program. He even pointed out that the NSA was so comfortable with the bill’s reform that it had dispatched hundreds of agents to lobby Congress to approve it. In short, the USA FREEDOM Act, Napolitano concluded, was not a real check on the expansive US government surveillance power that many Americans oppose. Instead, it was a ruse that made people think a problem was being solved when, in fact, the problem was being allowed to continue unhindered.]]> Mon, 07 May 2018 18:53:32 GMT
Five Minutes Five Issues: Utah Marijuana, Beto O’Rourke, Maine Marijuana, Repatriating Gold, Charleston Event Adam Dick Stitcher, iTunesYouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

Opponents of medical marijuana have hired canvassers to urge people who have signed petitions to put medical marijuana on the November Utah state ballot to remove their signatures. If enough signatures from people in some state senate districts are removed by May 15, there will be no vote on the ballot measure, reports Courtney Tanner at the Salt Lake Tribune.

Tanner also notes that Utah Governor Gary Herbert, though he opposes the proposed legalization, has, in response to the effort to remove petition signatures, declared:
Let’s have the vote. Let’s have the debate.
Issue two.

No Democrat has been elected to any of the 29 Texas statewide elective offices since 1994, and the last Democratic United States Senate member from Texas was Bob Krueger who held office for a few months in 1993 after fellow Democrat Lloyd Bentsen resigned from the Senate.

An April Quinnipiac University poll suggests this Republican string of victories could end in the November election. The poll finds Republican US Senator Ted Cruz is barely ahead of his Democratic challenger — US Representative Beto O’Rourke — with Cruz at 47 percent and O’Rourke at 44 percent among Texas voters.

Issue three.

In the January 7, 2017 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about Maine politicians including Maine Governor Paul LePage seeking to delay implementation of provisions of marijuana legalization that voters in the state had approved in an election two months earlier. Now it is over a year later and legal recreational marijuana sales have finally made it into law via the state House of Representatives and Senate on Wednesday overriding the governor’s veto.

But, Jacob Sullum reports at Reason that legalization provisions approved by voters were not just delayed. They were also altered, including by cutting from six to three the number of flowering marijuana plants a person may legally grow at home, imposing an excise tax on growers, and eliminating legalization of “marijuana social clubs” where people could both purchase and consume marijuana.

Sullum further writes that Maine regulations are yet to be written and approved and that “[s]tate-licensed marijuana merchants are not expected to start serving recreational customers until the spring of 2019.” In contrast, legal recreational marijuana sales are already taking place in California and Nevada where voters also approved legalization in November of 2016.

Issue four.

Lately, several foreign governments have been demanding the return of their gold stored with the Federal Reserve.

Asked by host Mark Gleason at the Market Wrap Podcast why foreign governments may seek the return of their gold, investing writer Marc Faber responded that, first, it is inherently risky to store in another country gold that is intended to be a safe-haven asset. Second, Faber points to decreased faith in the US dollar as a reserve currency. Faber also mentions concern about the US government’s neoconservatives-engineered foreign policy, including the US government push to antagonize the leaders of Russia and China that is causing their governments to move “closer into an economic and political alliance” and to probably gradually move away from the dollar system.

Here is another reason. At the Economic Policy Journal last month, Robert Wenzel speculated as follows regarding the prospect of repatriation of gold to Turkey: “More than holding Turkey's gold in reserve to back up the Turkish currency, the lira, [Turkey President] Erdogan may want to hold the gold in the homeland so that he can sell it.”

Issue five.

Last weekend, the Ron Paul Institute (RPI), along with the Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF), hosted a conference titled “Non-intervention: America’s Original Foreign Policy.” It was something new to hold this conference in Charleston, South Carolina, as previous RPI events had occurred only in Texas near RPI’s headquarters and in the Washington, DC area. With the Charleston conference a success, maybe RPI will host events in other new locations in the future.


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

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Pentagon Seeks Arms for 65,000 US-Backed Troops in Syria Jason Ditz

While US “relief funds” are frozen in Syria, the Pentagon continues to seek massive amounts of funding for its military operations in the country. This includes a request for $300 million in weapons to give to “partner forces” in Syria.

This amounts to enough arms for 65,000 fighters. This is expected to center on the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is to say, almost entirely the Kurdish YPG. The US has been arming the YPG for years now as part of its Syria operations.

This is being sought in spite of repeated US assurances to Turkey that their arming of the YPG was temporary. With ISIS virtually wiped out in Syria, the YPG no longer has offensive goals fitting into US plans for Syria, and rather is focused chiefly on fighting a Turkish invasion of northern Syria.

The $300 million in arms also comes with $250 million in “border security” funding for Syria. Both are going into the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which Pentagon officials can easily shuffle around to spend on virtually anything.

While couched as “Counter-ISIS” funding, the funding looks more likely to be backing the YPG in fighting Turkey. While the US is unlikely to fund fighting against another NATO ally, it may also be this is just another excuse to grow the OCO.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sat, 05 May 2018 22:42:53 GMT
US Watchdog: Afghan Military Shrinking Sharply Jason Ditz

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a Pentagon watchdog, is warning that the Afghan military is in sharp decline over the last 12 months, as rising casualties and desertion rates far outstrip its ability to recruit.

Over 12 months, the Afghan security forces have 10 percent less personnel, down to around 300,000. While reports of growing casualties, struggling recruitment, and desertion have been common, this is the first actually data offered on the size of the problem.

The Afghan National Army wasn’t happy with the report, dismissing the SIGAR report as “not 100 percent fact.” They didn’t offer any specific corrections to the numbers, but insists Afghanistan has “enough” soldiers to fight, and that morale is very high.

SIGAR head John Sopko said that building up Afghan forces has been a top priority throughout the war, with the US spending billions of dollars on it. He said it was “worrying” that despite all that expense, the Afghan forces are shrinking.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Thu, 03 May 2018 12:10:07 GMT
US Sanctions Hit International Chess Organization FIDE Adam Dick

The bank account of FIDE, a premier chess organization that governs some major international chess competitions, maintains rules adhered to at many other tournaments, calculates players’ ratings, and awards titles such as Grandmaster, was shut down this week. Peter Doggers reports at that FIDE officials say UBS Bank was terminating FIDE’s account because FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is included “on the sanctions list of the US Department of the Treasury” though “Ilyumzhinov himself has stated that the sanctions were not mentioned by UBS.” Doggers notes that FIDE, also known as the World Chess Federation, has been unable to establish an account with another bank since UBS, a Switzerland bank, announced in February that the FIDE account would be terminated.

In November, the United States government included Ilyumzhinov in a list of people being sanctioned for purportedly assisting the Syria government. Also, because Ilyumzhinov lives in the Russian Federation and is a former president of the Republic of Kalmykia, sanctioning him is a twofer, striking at both Syria and Russia.

US sanctions have reached into international chess competition before. One prominent example involved the extraordinary American chess player Bobby Fischer competing against chess great Boris Spassky in 1992. Because their match occurred in Yugoslavia that was then the subject of US sanctions, the US government pursued Fischer for years, threatening him with incarceration. In 2005, with the US then seeking to have Fischer extradited to America from Japan where Fischer had been living, Fischer was saved from prison by moving to Iceland after the Iceland government offered him asylum.

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The Clever Moon Jae-in: Trump Should Win the Nobel Prize Robert Wenzel

Wow, South Korean President Moon Jae-in really wants peace and harmony on the Korean peninsula. This is one great man.

From the day he was elected, the goal of Moon has been to ratchet down tensions between his country and North Korea--and he has done just that. But there remains an orange strand of hair in the ointment belonging  to the unpredictable United States president Donald Trump.

The meeting between Trump, surrounded by war hawks, and North Korean President Kim Jong-un, expected in May or June, will be a delicate affair. There are already rumblings that the war hawks are advising Trump to make demands of Kim that could never be agreed to.

What to do?

A congratulatory message arrived at South Korea's Blue House from Lee Hee-ho, the widow of late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, in which she said Moon deserved to win the Noble prize in recognition of his efforts to bring peace and harmony to the peninsula, according to South Korean officials.

But it is much too early for such talk. The North Korean leader must survive the meeting with the Stable Genius to keep the North and South peace initiative intact.

What better way to keep the talks in line than responding to the widow's letter by stating that it is Trump who deserves the Nobel Prize?

“President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace,” Moon told a meeting of senior secretaries, according to a presidential Blue House official who briefed media.

That's how you counter U.S. war hawks, put the idea in the head of the egomaniac Trump getting the Noble Prize.

A senior adviser to Moon told Reuters last week that the South Korean government had a “comprehensive roadmap” that it was sharing with the United States ahead of Trump’s meeting with Kim.

Now that roadmap ends with a Nobel Prize for Trump. Brilliant!

Reprinted with permission from]]> Tue, 01 May 2018 18:03:39 GMT
Five Minutes Five Issues: Trump Missiles, US Marijuana, Border Agent Assaults, Canada Drug Decrim, Kyle Kashuv Adam Dick Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

It was great to see one Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board Member — Andrew Napolitano — interview another — United States House of Representatives Member Thomas Massie (R-KY) — at Fox News on Wednesday. Their discussion focused on President Donald Trump’s launching of missiles into Syria unilaterally, that is, without congressional authorization. Trump’s action, they agreed, was not legal. And Massie explained why he thinks many of his fellow Congress members share the blame. “The Constitution is only as good as the members of Congress who are willing to defend it,” said Massie, who further lamented that there “is not enough uproar” in Congress about the president’s abuse of power.

Issue two.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a US House member long critical of the war on marijuana, is quoted in a Tuesday Politico article predicting that, if the Democrats gain majorities of the House and Senate in the November general election, then significant war on marijuana roll back legislation would pass in Congress. Such legislation, Blumenauer says, would be supported by a “bipartisan consensus of virtually every Democrat and several dozen Republicans.”

Blumenauer says consideration of such legislation is now prevented by Republican leadership, but would not be by Democratic leadership. The Politico article further suggests, “[w]ith Democrats in control, the new chairs of the relevant committees [in the US House] would be pro-marijuana: Jerry Nadler [(D-NY)] in Judiciary, Frank Pallone [(D-NJ)] in Commerce, and Jim McGovern [(D-MA)] in Rules.”

Issue three.

Debbie Nathan wrote Monday at The Intercept that “media outlets across the political spectrum” have “repeated statistics showing a sharp upward trend in the number of assaults against [US] Border Patrol agents.” In fact, Nathan notes that, “reversing a long downward trend,” US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported yearly increases in assaults on its agents of 20 percent in fiscal year 2016 and 73 percent in fiscal year 2017. But, funny math from CBP appears to explain much or all of the reported increase in assaults. For example, Nathan reports that six people throwing rocks, bottles, and tree branches at seven US Border Patrol agents on February 14, 2017 was reported as 126 assaults. The funny math that turns a claimed assault on seven Border Patrol agents into 126 assaults is “seven agents times six perpetrators times three projectiles.”

Further examining the assault numbers, Nathan writes:
According to the [Federal Bureau of Investigation (FB)], most Border Patrol agents for whom assault data has been publicly reported were not injured. Rocks and water bottles don’t always hit their mark. Or they are never thrown in the first place — for reporting purposes, apparently, the mere brandishing of an object constitutes assault.
Issue four.

Might the Canada government, which is already moving forward with countrywide marijuana legalization, next decriminalize drugs generally?

Last week, delegates at a national convention of Canada’s ruling Liberal Party adopted a resolution supporting decriminalizing all drugs.

Such decriminalization is “not part of our plans" Canada Prime Minister and Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau is quoted at the CBC as saying in regard to the resolution. However, the resolution’s adoption suggests public pressure could in the future help cause decriminalization to become part of the plans of the party and of the Canada government.

Issue five.

Last month, I wrote at the Ron Paul Institute website about schools implementing new rules and procedures, including requiring students to use only clear backpacks, justified to counter perceived risks of mass killings.

Here may be another example of a liberty-threatening response. Kyle Kashuv, a student in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where a mass shooting took place in February, says he was pulled out of class last week and interrogated by police because he had posted on the internet pictures and videos of him shooting a rifle at a gun range, along with some nonthreatening comments including regarding Second Amendment rights.


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

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David Stockman Enters Hostile Territory to Support Nonintervention and Oppose Increased Military Spending Adam Dick spending deal worked out by President Donald Trump and Congress and that the US should stop its excessive military intervention overseas.

The US military would not need so much money if the military were used much less, argues Stockman, who is a member of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Advisory Board. “Don’t have so many missions; don’t be bombing Syria; don’t be mucking around in the Middle East,” Stockman says is the “obvious answer” to host Maria Bartiromo’s contention that the increased military spending is needed because “we’ve starved the military.” And, in response to Bartiromo’s suggestion that Stockman is advocating turning away when the Syrian government uses chemical weapons in Syria, Stockman explains why he sees such chemical weapons allegations as “a hoax” and argues “we have no dog in that hunt,” meaning the American people are best served by the US government just keeping out of the conflict in Syria.

Watch Stockman’s complete interview here:

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Five Minutes Five Issues: Friends and Adversaries, Partisan War, Texas Marijuana, Syria Attack, US Marijuana Adam Dick A new episode of Five Minutes Five Issues is out. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at StitcheriTunesYouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

In February of 2017, during her first few weeks as United States ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Nikki Haley, in prepared comments she presented to reporters, called Israel “our friend and ally” and declared “I’m here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel.” The next month, speaking at a convention of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Haley said:
Never do we not have the backs of our friends. We don’t have a greater friend than Israel.
Haley has a different perspective regarding Russia. At an April 5 speech at Duke University, Haley said that “Russia’s never gonna be our friend” and that the US will work with Russia when the US needs to and that the US will “slap” Russia when the US needs to.

Haley’s declarations, and similar comments by other US government officials, help show the rigid categorizing of other nations as friends and adversaries that supports constant and widespread intervention overseas.

Issue two.

President Donald Trump this month ordered a missile attack against Syria unilaterally, that is, with no congressional authorization.

One thing allowing successive presidents to use the US military to attack other countries without a congressional debate and vote is that some US Congress members actively oppose such presidential actions only when the president is affiliated with the opposing party.

It would be great to see support for peace and for blocking unilateral executive exercises of war power to become powerful and ongoing bipartisan causes in Congress. It can happen, but probably only after the people first demand it strongly enough.

Issue three.

A new Quinnipiac University poll indicates 61 percent of Texas voters support “allowing adults in Texas to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.”

Could Texas soon legalize?

Most states that have legalized marijuana did so via measures qualified for consideration on voters’ ballots through the submitting of petition signatures. Texans do not have that process available. But state legislatures can pass legalization legislation. In January, Vermont was the first state to legalize via legislation passed in a state legislature and signed by a governor.

There is even potential for radical legalization in Texas. In 2015, the Texas state House of Representatives Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved then-Rep. David Simpson’s (R-Longview) marijuana legalization bill that would, for adults, treat marijuana the same as tomatoes. The bill, though, did not have a vote in the full House.

Issue four.

The Trump administration has not made public evidence to justify its launching this month of missiles into Syria. Congress members do not seem to have been informed of such evidence either. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told Breitbart News that a Tuesday classified briefing for Congress members presented by people including the US secretary of defense, the secretary of state, and the director of national intelligence “did not provide any evidence.” Said Massie, “There was nothing that was provided in there that’s not on the Internet.”

Massie is a member of the Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board.

Issue five.

In the last two weeks, some big names in US politics have endorsed rolling back US marijuana prohibition.

Last week, former US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced he now believes marijuana should be descheduled from the US Controlled Substances Act, and he joined the board of advisers of the marijuana industry company Acreage Holdings.

Also last week, US Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) revealed that President Donald Trump had pledged to him support for a marijuana “legislative solution that will allow a states’ rights approach.” We are still awaiting a public affirmation and elaboration from Trump.

Then, this week, US Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced his support for decriminalizing marijuana on the federal level and his plan to introduce legislation to accomplish this objective through actions including desceduling marijuana and respecting states having their own laws regarding marijuana possession.


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.

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Lawrence Wilkerson: Cowardly Congress, Apathetic Americans Allow US Military Intervention Adam Dick
Commercial interests related to oil and gas, further argues Wilkerson, who is a professor at the College of William & Mary, are “at the bottom of” why the US would intervene various places overseas including in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Presenting other reasons for the US intervention, says Wilkerson, “is just lying to the American people.” But, he continues, the US has a long history of lying to justify intervention, giving the examples of the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars.

“All that is nonsense,” exclaims Wilkerson, in regard to reasons such as “this is for freedom, this is for democracy, this is to stop the use of chemical weapons” that a president may offer to justify military interventions. Instead, Wilkerson concludes that Smedley Butler had it right in explaining the purpose is advancing commercial interests. And looking to the missiles launched into Syria a few days ago and the ongoing US-backed war against Yemen, Wilkerson identifies benefit flowing to Raytheon that makes weapons including missiles, as well as other weapons manufacturers. Summing up this situation, Wilkerson declares, “You could say we are killing people in the world for Raytheon and DOD [(the Department of Defense)].”

Watch Wilkerson’s complete interview here:

Wilkerson is a member of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Academic Board.]]> Tue, 17 Apr 2018 20:53:30 GMT