Power & Market

Blame the FDA

One of the biggest issues this last week is countless parents struggling to find formula for their infants. The blame game started and the fingers are pointing. People are slinging accusations at everything from mothers who are not nursing to Biden feeding illegal immigrant infants before united states children.

But what is the real issue? The FDA!

In mid-February the FDA shutdown Abbott Laboratories (Which also happens to be the company’s largest U.S. formula manufacturing plant) due to fears of it being the source of a bacterial infection that killed two infants. However, these fears were unfounded and the factory was cleared of any wrongdoing. Yet, almost three months later the plant is still shut down. Why? That answer isn’t as clear from the FDA.

Like any “good” government agency, the FDA put the blame back on the manufacturer: “That plant needed to be shut down,” Former FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts said on Thursday.
Despite this statement and not finding any wrongdoing, he doesn’t go into details about why it needed to be shut down and why it has taken three months to get it back up and running, nor was any warning about massive future shortages given to parents.

So tough luck the FDA says for mothers who can’t nurse, single fathers, infants with allergies, gastrointestinal issues, or metabolic disorders. As parents franticly search for food for their infants and search hours online for other solutions.

Just like their covid strategy, the FDA didn’t have one here. leading to countless stressed-out parents struggling to once again feed their children.
As Tho Bishop points out:

“The costs of the FDA bureaucracy is a far greater public health risk than any of the advantages that it claims to provide. It’s past time to scrap the agency altogether.”

Indeed. Just another fine example of what happens when the government intervenes in the market. It’s time to abolish the FDA and sow salt the earth where all the buildings stood.

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Biden’s Disastrous European Tour

03/29/2022Ron Paul

Previewing President Biden’s trip to Europe last week, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that, “the president is traveling to Europe to make sure we stay united.”

That sure didn’t go as planned. This may have been the most disastrous – and dangerous – Presidential overseas trip ever.

The US and its NATO allies have repeatedly proclaimed that “protecting Ukraine’s democracy” has never been about threatening Russia. Holding out NATO membership and sending billions of dollars in military equipment to Ukraine, starting under Trump, was not threatening Russia. CIA training camps in eastern Ukraine, where paramilitaries were trained on US weapons systems, was not about threatening Russia.

But at every stop, President Biden seemed to undermine the narrative his own Administration had carefully crafted. First up, warning that Russia might use chemical weapons in Ukraine, Biden promised it would "trigger a response in kind," meaning the US would use chemical weapons as well. That would be a serious war crime.

National Security Advisor Sullivan had to be brought to explain that the US has "no intention" of using chemical weapons.

Later, speaking to the 82nd Airborne in Poland, President Biden told them that US troops would soon be in Ukraine. He said to the troops, “you’re going to see — you’re going to see women, young people standing — standing the middle of — in front of a … tank, just saying, ‘I’m not leaving. I’m holding my ground.’”

A White House spokesman had to clarify that, “the president has been clear we are not sending US troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position.”

Clear? Well, not really. He had just said the opposite to our own troops!

Then, at the end of Biden’s final speech in Poland, the President inadvertently told the truth: the US involvement in Ukraine is all about “regime change” for Russia. Speaking of Russian President Putin, he told the audience, near the border of Ukraine, "for God‘s sake, this man cannot remain in power."

The President’s disaster control team immediately mobilized in the person of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who offered this pained interpretation of Biden’s clear statement, "I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else."

No, that’s not what he said. The president has a leading Constitutional role in the formation of US foreign policy, and he said in a public speech that “regime change” in Russia is US policy. Any attempt by his staffers to try to explain it away looks terrible: either the President has no idea what he’s saying so we should not take seriously what is essentially a declaration of war on Russia, or the President took the opportunity on the border with Ukraine to essentially declare war on Russia.

Presidents Reagan, Ford, and Bush Jr. were all known for their gaffes. Some were funny and some were serious. But none of them declared war on a nuclear-armed adversary in that adversary’s own backyard and then afterward had to send out staff to explain that the president didn’t mean what he just said.

Interestingly, Biden saved his most hawkish and bombastic statements for this final speech in Poland, at which none of the more cautious NATO partners like Germany and France were present. So much for “unity” being the prime purpose of the trip.

There is a real problem in the Biden Administration and the sooner we face it the better.

Reprinted with permission. 

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Biden's Cuban Missile Crisis

02/24/2022Jeff Deist

Joe Biden's perverse legacy, if that term even applies anymore, may well be determined in the coming weeks by his handling of events in Ukraine. He can improve it by showing restraint against the relentless neoconservative chorus. One wonders what the results of a pure popular vote on the question of going to war with Russia over Ukraine would be, versus a vote solely within the DC beltway. 

Note: Biden was silent on the recent imposition of emergency martial law by the Trudeau government in Ottawa (a few hundred miles from Washington, DC), but has plenty to say about Kiev (4,881 distant miles). This is not coincidental. As journalist Glenn Greenwald puts it, we are required by Western propaganda to denounce actions by Vladimir Putin (such as freezing the bank assets of political opponent Alexei Navalny) while cheering the same actions taken by the Canadian government against money donated to truckers. Crackdowns in "democracies" are subject to a more enlightened standard:

[W]hen these weapons are wielded by Western governments, the precise opposite framework is imposed: describing them as despotic is no longer obligatory but virtually prohibited. That tyranny exists only in Western adversaries but never in the West itself is treated as a permanent axiom of international affairs, as if Western democracies are divinely shielded from the temptations of genuine repression. Indeed, to suggest that a Western democracy has descended to the same level of authoritarian repression as the West's official enemies is to assert a proposition deemed intrinsically absurd or even vaguely treasonous.1

Much of today's Western rhetoric about the former USSR employs this language of treason, accusing war skeptics of siding with Putin. American politicians and media often veer into outright Russophobia, sometimes with a not-subtle racial animus. This flows in large part from the 2016 election of Donald Trump, which somehow had to be the result of Russian interference and not Hillary Clinton's shortcomings. It was remarkable to see so many politicians and pundits risk resurrecting a Cold War with a nuclear power simply to hurt Trump politically. But it worked: they got rid of Trump, and now the Cold War is back.

At this writing, Putin has declared the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent and autonomous from Ukraine. Russian forces have entered Ukraine and launched missiles; deaths and injuries are reported. Those troops reportedly have control over the Chernobyl power plant. Ludwig von Mises's birthplace, today called Lviv, is threatened. 

In response, Biden today announced retaliatory sanctions against Russia and promised severe economic consequences for Putin's actions. Military and aerospace technology will be blocked, while Russian banks will be shut off from international markets. US and EU officials also have considered the more severe option of removing the country from the SWIFT system of international payments, which would cut off foreign-currency purchases of oil, gas, and other Russian exports. 

Still, Biden has shown restraint. Let's hope he keeps to this commitment made earlier today:

"Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict," he said. "Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but defend [sic] our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east."

There will be plenty of voices in Biden's ear demanding more, much more. The subcurrent to Biden's election in 2020 was the return of neoconservatism with a vengeance. Many of the worst foreign policy hawks, from David Frum to Max Boot to Bill Kristol, have found their home in the Democratic Party. The GOP, for its part, is scrambling to outdo the Democrats in their bellicosity for Putin in a nauseatingly transparent effort to make Biden look weak for the upcoming midterm elections. Hence the sorry spectacle of former Trump national security advisor John Bolton—among the worst war promoters in modern history—solemnly lecturing us on MSNBC about Biden's failure to have placed US troops in Ukraine weeks ago. Unless Putin's foray is short lived, rest assured that Congress, the Pentagon, the spy agencies, Biden's cabinet, and his own party leaders (mindful of polls) will call for US military strikes. Some will call for American troops to defend Ukraine on the ground.

President John F. Kennedy faced similar pressures in his brief years as president. Regardless of one's views on Camelot, Kennedy was a New England liberal and idealist—not a neoconservative. He sincerely abhorred the possible use of nuclear weapons in a conflict with the Soviets. He communicated clandestinely with Nikita Khrushchev to avoid just such a conflict and managed to bring the US back from the brink of an ugly tank standoff in Berlin during 1961—stating, to the chagrin of the Cold Warriors, that the Berlin Wall was "a hell of a lot better than a war."

Kennedy similarly resisted calls by the Pentagon, CIA, and Joint Chiefs for the US to back a puppet government in Laos. He was reasonably firm in his opposition to escalations in Vietnam, denying repeated Pentagon requests for thousands of ground troops. Time and again he imagined his reelection in 1964 would free him politically to remove America completely from Southeast Asia.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the pressure on Kennedy to use nuclear missiles against that tiny, impoverished country was intense. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, CIA deputy Richard Helms, the Joint Chiefs, and one particularly bloodthirsty general named Curtis "Bombs Away" LeMay all pressed hard for action. They considered JFK's Cuban blockade disastrously weak. One CIA operative called his failure to launch a nuclear strike "treasonous." LeMay compared it to appeasement in Munich. And of course his own vice president, Lyndon Johnson, was never an ally when it counted. Kennedy's only firm and trusted confidant throughout all of it was his own brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

Like Trump, JFK faced almost mutinous attacks and subterfuge from within: by his own cabinet, administrative agencies, military commanders, and especially the CIA. 

Biden is no JFK. It is clear Biden does not possess an iota of Jack Kennedy's intelligence, courage, nerve, vigor, or idealism. He is a lifetime political grifter and partisan hack who parasitically attached himself to the DC establishment. That such a nonentity could even sniff the US Senate, much less become president, is an indictment of our system. But at the moment he is, or appears to be, the voice of reason against the John Boltons of the world.

  • 1. Glenn Greenwald, "The Neoliberal War on Dissent in the West," Glenn Greenwald, Feb. 21, 2022, https://greenwald.substack.com.
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Biden’s White Elephant: Subsidizing Charging Station Buildout for EVs

02/22/2022David Schneider

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/13/fact-sheet-the-biden-harris-electric-vehicle-charging-action-plan/

Finding the most appropriate title for this Federal boondoggle was difficult, because of the number of government projects that waste taxpayer funds.  History tells us that the private sector is a more efficient allocator of capital. From the factsheet:

Electrification is an opportunity to support “good-paying union jobs across American supply chains…”  So good paying non-union jobs don’t count?   Biden wants to spend $5 billion of your money to build out charging stations. Notably, they want to make sure that 40% of the funds for charging stations are spent on installations in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.   There are hints that installation of the network will be done by a unionized workforce.

On the surface, this looks great. With charging stations everywhere, you don’t have to worry that your EV only goes a short distance before needing a recharge.  Biden’s plan also includes billions to source raw materials for battery makers. One of the materials happens to be cobalt. Hmm.

A minor issue with the plan is that battery technology is evolving so that cobalt for example, is being phased out. In fact, cobalt is being phased out of the entire EV powertrain but if you work for the government putting together a boondoggle, it is not relevant.

What about that range anxiety thing that is preventing everyone from buying EV’s? Again, technology has this nasty habit of evolving. Each year, the range per charge of EV’s will improve. By 2030, you will likely be able to go 1,000 miles per charge in a host of vehicles.  That is like having an ICE car getting 25 mpg with a 40-gallon gas tank. A private company called Our Next Energy has already tested a new battery pack in a Tesla.  They got 750 miles out of it before it needed recharging. Tesla Model S Goes 752 Miles with a Startup's Prototype Battery (caranddriver.com)  By the time Biden’s plan is done, you will be able to buy cars that recharge at the same speed it takes to fill up a gas tank. I don’t know anybody who has a gasoline pump in their home or apartment building, but “coil switching” technology and other refinements to the EV drive and charging system allow the vehicle to be plugged into a common 115V outlet.  So, if you live in a single-family home and have an electrical outlet in the garage, your vehicle will always be fully charged first thing in the morning. And installing outlets in apartment garages would be a nice marketing point for the rental office.

The Biden plan is designed as if gas stations are going to just quit selling gasoline and diesel when EV’s take over and hope to keep their service stations over selling Slim Jims and Doritos. Somehow, I don’t think that’s how it will play out.  https://electrek.co/2022/01/16/bp-claims-ev-charging-stations-on-the-cusp-of-being-more-profitable-than-gas-pumps/

Service stations will swap out gas pumps for EV chargers, people will be charging at home and in the garages of their apartments, and a bunch of EV charging companies that went public are already building out charging networks. And as range per charge keeps increasing (OK, with diminishing increases in the “out years”), we may have overbuilding of charging stations even without our taxpayer dollars being spent in the next 4 years on chargers which themselves will become fossils within the following few years as charging technology itself improves.

Other than the above, Biden’s plan is fantastic. I feel warm and fuzzy already. Don’t you?

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Behind Closed Doors

02/11/2022Robert Aro

Despite all that can be said about the Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) calculation, a reading of 7.5% is relatively high compared to the last 40 years. On Monday the Federal Reserve will have a closed door meeting “held under expedited procedures” for:

Review and determination by the Board of Governors of the advance and discount rates to be charged by the Federal Reserve Banks.

It sounds like an emergency meeting but the Fed regularly schedules these meetings to deliberate ways of intervening in the economy. Perhaps it was speculation over an emergency rate hike which prompted Fed officials to remark that there is no intention for an emergency rate announcement. Bloomberg reports St. Louis Fed President James Bullard:

…said the Fed isn’t “in that mode” of emergency rate hikes, noting that there is little need to surprise markets now given the tightening they are pricing in already.

Barring any surprises, there will likely be no rate hike for another month, allowing time to consider a few ideas of interest, and for lack of a better word, absurdities with this system.

The Fed and mainstream media claim that supply issues and bottlenecks related to reopening the economy are to blame for the increase in prices. Just last month, Powell reiterated:

Supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic and [to] the reopening of the economy have continued to contribute to elevated levels of inflation. In particular, bottlenecks and supply constraints are limiting how quickly production can respond to higher demand in the near term.

Putting the blame on reopening the economy and bottlenecks indicates no signs of slowing down. It’s only funny for so long, until one realizes how empty these words are. We’re supposed to believe that reopening an economy takes 3 years and not 3 days. Nonetheless, this is supposedly the cause for the increase in prices of fruits, vegetables, quarter chicken legs, lumber, and gasoline.

Even if they discuss bottlenecks during closed door meetings, using top secret data, it’s still a system prone to calculation problems and corruption. The goal of blaming everything else, except the Fed’s easy money policies, on the increase in prices knows no bounds.

Yet narratives aren’t enough. A research component is required to lend further credibility. Recently the St. Louis Fed published a paper titled: Global Supply Chain Disruptions and Inflation During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The abstract opens by stating:

We investigate the role supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic played in U.S. producer price index (PPI) inflation.

The conclusion is that foreign supply chain issues lead to bottlenecks and higher prices domestically. They were uncertain as to whether it was temporary or permanent, but had conviction vaccines would play a vital role:

The unequal distribution of vaccines in emerging countries, the rise of new variants, and disruptions in shipping could add some additional pressure on supply chains, creating pessimism about inflation disappearing in the near future.

How these research reports, narratives and policy decisions get the greenlight is known to less people than fingers on your hands. Adding insult to injury, even if they were correct about the cause of our price increases, nowhere have they explained why increasing interest rates would make matters any better. If bottlenecks and reopenings are the cause of (price) inflation, then raising rates is the cure!

For all we know, they could be laughing behind closed doors because in all honesty, being a central banker is phenomenal work, if you can get it; the power, acclaim, salary, security and near immunity is something the masses will never know, but for which the masses pay dearly. Of all the absurdities mentioned above, never forget that under a free market system, there would be no central bank. Even better, all the “economists” who write research papers exploring bottlenecks using linear regression models would quickly find it no longer pays to be an economist.

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Brown as a Guide to Breyer’s Seat

02/04/2022Gary Galles

With Associate Justice Stephen Breyer’s impending retirement from the Supreme Court, President Biden jumped at the chance to deliver on his 2020 pledge to nominate its first Female Black Justice. And he defended the seeming affirmative action pick by saying “The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.” However, as reported by ABC, a new poll found that “just over three-quarters of Americans (76%) want Biden to consider ‘all possible nominees.’”

The disjunction between what Biden clearly felt would be widely applauded and initial polling seems to indicate a great deal of skepticism that who is being sought is the best qualified justice for defending the Constitution as the highest law of the land against attacks, including those frequent assaults proposed by his own party.

An interesting angle on this comes from 2003 and 2005, when California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, a Black woman, was nominated to the D.C. Court of Appeals. She was widely attacked by Democrats as both an “extremist” and “out of the mainstream,” two of their favorite epithets used against judges they wish to obstruct. Barack Obama offered a good example, asserting that “in almost every legal decision that she has made and every political speech that she has given, Justice Brown has shown she is not simply a judge with very strong political views, she is a political activist who happens to be a judge.” Her nomination was opposed, and then filibustered, until a special inter-party deal bought her eventual release from Senate purgatory to join that court.

Particularly interesting about the attacks against Judge Brown was how much her words, so intensely attacked by Democrats, reflected America’s founders. Over and over, her “extreme” statements echoed those whose ideas shaped our country and our Constitution.

I collected some of Justice Brown’s pilloried statements and compared it to like statements from our founders, many of which came from my Lines of Liberty book. Given the lack of evidence that Democrats are any less adamantly opposed to our founders’ ideals now than when they smeared her, it can be instructive to remember some of them.

JRB: “Where government advances--and it advances relentlessly--freedom is imperiled...When did government cease to be a necessary evil and become a goody bag to solve our private problems?”

Thomas Paine: “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.”

George Mason: “Every society, all government, and every kind of civil compact therefore, is or ought to be, calculated for the general good and safety of the community. Every power, every authority vested in particular men is, or ought to be, ultimately directed at this sole end; and whenever any power or authority whatever extends further...than is in its nature necessary for these purposes, it may be called government, but it is in fact oppression.”

Thomas Jefferson: “What more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people?...a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”

JRB: “Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies.”

Thomas Paine: “Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices...The first is a patron, the last a punisher.”

Thomas Jefferson: “The right of self-government does not comprehend the government of others.”

George Washington: “It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty on the supposition that he may abuse it.”

JRB: “All perspectives are not equal...there are ideas worth defending to the death... Freedom is not free. And it will never be the lasting legacy of the lazy or the indifferent.”

James Wilson: “Government...should be formed to secure and enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government, which has not this in view, as its principal object, is not a government of the legitimate kind.”

George Mason: “No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by…frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”

Benjamin Franklin: “Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.”

JRB: “In his…all too famous dissent in Lochner, Justice Holmes wrote that the ‘constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory, whether of paternalism and the organic relation of the citizen to the State or of laissez faire’...he was simply wrong.”

Thomas Jefferson: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.”

George Washington: “Liberty will find itself...where the Government...[will] maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.”

James Madison: “The real measure of the powers meant to be granted to Congress by the Constitution is to be sought in the specifications... not...with a latitude that, under the name or means for carrying into execution a limited Government, would transform it into a Government without limits.”

JRB: “Collectivism was (and is) fundamentally incompatible with the vision that undergirded this country’s founding. The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document.”

Patrick Henry: “Liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.”

Thomas Jefferson: “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management.”

Samuel Adams: “It is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential rights, or the means of preserving those rights.”

JRB: “At its founding and throughout its early history, this regime revered private property ...The Founders viewed the right of property as ‘the guardian of every other right.’”

John Adams: “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”

James Madison: “The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate...The protection of these faculties is the first object of government.”

George Mason: “Frequent interference with private property and contracts...must disgust the best and wisest part of the community, occasion a general depravity of manners, bring the legislature into contempt.”

JRB: “Protection of private property was a major casualty of the Revolution of 1937...Rights were reordered and property acquired a second class status. If the right asserted was economic, the court held the Legislature could do anything it pleased...Something new, called economic rights, began to supplant the old property rights...With the advent of ‘economic rights,’ the original meaning of rights was effectively destroyed. These new ‘rights’ imposed obligations, not limits, on the state. It thus became government’s job not to protect property but, rather, to regulate and distribute it.”

James Madison: “In a just and free government...the rights both of property and of persons ought to be effectually guarded.”

John Adams: “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and “Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”

Thomas Jefferson: “It [is]...ridiculous to suppose that a man had less rights in himself than one of his neighbors, or indeed all of them put together. This would be slavery, and not that liberty which the bill of rights has made inviolable, and for the preservation of which our government has been charged.”

JRB: “Once again a majority of this court has proved that ‘if enough people get together and act in concert, they can take everything and not pay for it.’ But theft is theft. Theft is theft even when the government approves of the thievery...The right to express one’s individuality and essential human dignity through the free use of property is just as important as the right to do so through speech, the press, or the free exercise of religion.”

Thomas Jefferson: “To take from one...in order to spare to others...is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association--the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

John Adams: “Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property...no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent.”

John Dickinson: “We cannot be HAPPY, without being FREE...we cannot be free, without being secure in our property...we cannot be secure in our property, if, without our consent, others may, as by right, take it away.”

JRB: “Government acts as a siphon, extracting wealth, creating privilege and power, and redistributing it.”

John Dickinson: “The single question is whether [government] can legally take money out of our pockets, without our consent. If they can, our boasted liberty is but ‘sound and nothing else.’”

Thomas Paine: “We still feel the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping at the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches property as its prey and permits none to escape without a tribute.”

George Washington: “[Government] has no more right to put their hands into my pockets, without my consent, than I have to put my hands into yours.”

JRB: “The Constitution, once the fixed chart for our aspirations, has been demoted.”

Alexander Hamilton: “The courts of justice are to be considered as the bulwarks of a limited Constitution against legislative encroachments.”

Thomas Jefferson: “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”

James Madison: “Laws are unconstitutional which infringe on the rights of the community... government should be disarmed of powers which trench upon those particular rights.”

JRB: “The courts overcame…limitations on their powers with ridiculous ease. How?...finding constitutional rights which are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. By taking a few words which are in the Constitution like ‘due process’ and ‘equal protection’ and imbuing them with elaborate and highly implausible etymologies; and by enunciating standards of constitutional review which are not standards at all but rather policy vetoes, i.e., strict scrutiny and the compelling state interest standard.”

Alexander Hamilton: “The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution...which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority...Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing...No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm...that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid...whenever a particular statute contravenes the Constitution, it will be the duty of the judicial tribunals to adhere to the latter...to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals.”

James Madison: “The powers of the federal government are enumerated...it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.”

Thomas Jefferson: “Our legislators are not sufficiently apprised of the rightful limits of their power: that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties and to take none of them from us.”

JRB: “We are heirs to a mind-numbing bureaucracy…arbitrary, capricious, and discriminatory. What other outcome is possible in a society in which no adult can wake up, go about their business, and return to their homes without breaking several laws?”

Benjamin Franklin: “In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.”

Thomas Paine: “When I contemplate the natural dignity of man…I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools.”

Thomas Jefferson: “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our own will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”

JRB: “Curiously, in the current dialectic, the right to keep and bear arms--a right expressly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights--is deemed less fundamental than implicit protections the court purports to find in the penumbras of other express provisions. But surely, the right to preserve one’s life is at least as fundamental as the right to preserve one’s privacy.”

Samuel Adams: “Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can.”

James Wilson: “The defense of one’s self, justly called the primary law of nature, is not, nor can it be, abrogated by any regulation.”

James Dickinson: “For WHO ARE A FREE PEOPLE? Not those, over whom government is reasonable and equitably exercised, but those, who live under a government so constitutionally checked and controlled, that proper provision is made against its being otherwise exercised.”

JRB: “If we are committed to a rule of law that applies equally to ‘minorities as well as majorities, to the poor as well as the rich,’ we cannot countenance standards that permit and encourage discriminatory enforcement.”

Benjamin Franklin: “An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy.”

James Madison: “It would be the interest of the majority in every community to despoil and enslave the minority of individuals...re-establishing, under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right.”

Thomas Jefferson: “The minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”

JRB: “Liberty was sacrificed for the common good, and eventually calcified into the tyranny of the State above all.”

George Washington: “It has always been my creed that we should not be left as an awful monument to prove, ‘that Mankind, under the most favorable circumstances, are unequal to the task of Governing themselves, and therefore made for a Master.’”

James Madison: “If Congress can employ money indefinitely...the powers of Congress would subvert the very foundation, the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.”

Thomas Jefferson: “A sound spirit of legislation...banishing all arbitrary and unnecessary restraint on individual action, shall leave us free to do whatever does not violate the equal rights of another.”

John Adams: “The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”

Janice Rogers Brown’s “extremism” was the same extremism that led to the founding of America as the home of liberty. The only real differences were that they began “the land of the free” and she was trying to preserve it; that they were establishing precedents of individual rights and liberty never before seen and she was trying to maintain them, as enshrined in our founding documents. In particular, she echoed their dedication to protecting citizens’ rights from government abuse as the primary purpose of the Constitution.

It is clear that those who painted Janice Rogers Brown as an extremist were only correct insofar as those who first sought out and fought for Americans’ liberty were extremists. But such “extremism” poses no threat to modern Americans or their rights. It only threatens those who would sacrifice our liberty to lesser ends under the guise of a “living Constitution” that only evolves away from it.

Given Democrats’ antipathy to Judge Brown because she echoed America’s founders so closely, perhaps similarly comparing the views of whoever President Biden nominates to fill Justice Breyer’s seat to our founders’ views might be a very useful measure of their competence and trustworthiness to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies,” which is part of the Justices’ oath. If there is an abyss between them, such a nominee cannot offer the “true faith and allegiance” they swear to.

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Bipartisanship: US House Races MASSIVE Ukraine Weapons Transfer to the Floor!

01/26/2022Daniel McAdams

In Washington the global US military empire is a bipartisan affair. With a trillion dollar yearly military budget, there are plenty of opportunities for both the position and the opposition parties to thrust snouts deeply into the trough.

While Ron Paul was in Congress and GW Bush was president, we did a good deal to craft a bipartisan antiwar coalition in opposition to the Iraq war and other Bush-ite neocon misadventures.  Then Obama was elected and pursued the same policies of global military empire - but with a better smile - and our coalition disintegrated. Suddenly the Democrats (with a couple of exceptions) were uninterested in the antiwar issue.

Such is the case now, when Obama's great "success" - the US-led coup in Ukraine - is back in the headlines. Now Obama's second fiddle is "in charge" of things and those under him who pull the levers are determined to solidify their "great achievement" of peeling Ukraine away from its neighbor and dropping that basket-case into the lap of Brussels and Washington. So for the past five weeks they have been ginning up the idea that Russia is about to invade Ukraine - even when Ukraine's own defense secretary is practically laughing at Washington's breathless assertions.

Said Ukrainian Defense Secretary Alexey Danilov:

As of today, we don’t see any grounds for statements about a full-scale offensive on our territory. It’s even physically impossible... Maybe, [seeing Russian troops] is an oddity to our foreign partners who finally saw that there are Russian forces and they move a certain way.

It must be comical for Russia to sit back and watch the US Keystone Kops at the helm of foreign policy blunder and bluster, with Biden's press secretary insisting that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is "imminent" even as the Ukrainians - who are in a position to know and also in a position to benefit if it was true - pour cold water on the Biden war-fear-porn.

But when it comes to Fed-generated counterfeit money, Congress is always ready to sprinkle plenty around to their favorite causes - usually war and corporatism.

That is why House Democrats are desperately trying to ram through a massive "free weapons" bill for Ukraine before the current lapdog media-driven "RUSSIA INVASION" propaganda dies down.

Just as Big Pharma is rushing to put a new omicron variant vaccine on the market before their Covid gravy train dies out, Washington's Democratic warmongers (with plenty of Republican fellow travelers) are rushing to send half a billion dollars in weapons to Ukraine before the casual MSM consumer learns (they're always last to know) that the whole "Russia is about to invade Ukraine" cook-up is another lie.

US military aid overseas is corporate welfare for US Beltway weapons manufacturers who in turn kick back millions to fund pro-war politicians and more millions to fund pro-war "think tanks" who warn us that there are Reds under every bed and that we need to spend moar moar moar!

As The Intercept reports, Pelosi is worried that the "RUSSIA IS INVADING" panic will wear off too soon, so she is "looking to skip marking up the bill and move it straight to the House floor, setting up the possibility of a vote as soon as early next week."

Angry to be left out of the fleecing of America for foreign interests frenzy, Republicans are racing to offer more of our money to protect the borders of corrupt Ukraine (while foreign invaders are given the red carpet treatment on our borders):

Republicans have offered their own measures. Earlier this month in the House, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the Guaranteeing Ukrainian Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense Act, a companion bill to a measure sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Jim Risch, R-Idaho. The bill would give Ukraine $450 million from the State Department’s FMF account and impose sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 project immediately, without waiting for an escalation as in the Democrats’ bill.

Only $450 million? Come on Republicans! Surely you can do better to flush our money down the foreign policy toilet! Slackers!

As the great Pat Buchanan once said, "Our two parties have become nothing but two wings of the same bird of prey."

Indeed, Mr. Buchanan. Indeed!

Image source:
Wikipedia
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Biden's Ukrainian Albatross

01/24/2022Daniel McAdams

Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell is given credit for popularizing the “Pottery Barn” rule of foreign policy. Though he denies using that exact phrase, in arguing against what became the disastrous 2003 US attack on Iraq Powell made the point that, as in Pottery Barn, “if you break it, you own it.”

Bush and his neocons—ironically with the help of Colin Powell himself—did indeed break Iraq and the American people as a result “owned” Iraq for the subsequent 22 years (and counting). It was an idiotic war and, as the late former NSA chief Gen. Bill Odom predicted, turned out to be “the greatest strategic disaster in American history.”

Attacking and destroying Iraq—and executing its leader—not only had no value in any conceivable manner to the United States, it had negative value. In taking responsibility for Iraq’s future, the US government obligated the American people to pick up the tab for a million ransacked Pottery Barns.

There was no way out. Only constant maneuvering and manipulation to desperately demonstrate the impossible –  that the move had any value or even made any sense.

So it is with Ukraine. In 2014 the Obama/Biden Administration managed to finish what Bush’s neocons started a decade before. With the US-backed overthrow of the Ukrainian government that year, the US came to “own” what no one in their right mind would ever seek: an economic basket case of a country with a political/business class whose corruption is the stuff of legend.

Rather than admit what a colossal blunder the whole thing had been, the US foreign policy establishment doubled down.

“Oh, this might be a neat tool to overthrow our own election: let’s pretend Trump is Putin’s agent!”

In fact Trump was impeached because a certain Col. Alexander Vindman—himself of Ukrainian origin and doing the bidding of a Ukrainian government installed by Washington—solemnly testified to Adam Schiff and his Democrat colleagues in charge of the House that Trump was clearly Putin’s puppet because his lack of enthusiasm for continuing to “own” Ukraine went against “the Inter-Agency Consensus.”

We “own” Ukraine and there is no way back—at least if the US foreign policy establishment has its way.

That is why our hapless State Department today continues to peddle the fiction that Russia is about to invade—and thus “own”—Ukraine. US foreign policy is one of projection: accuse your rivals of doing what you yourself are doing. No sane country would want to “own” Ukraine. Except the Beltway Think Tank class, thoroughly infused with military-industrial complex money.

That is why the US government, though its Embassy in Kiev, is bragging about the arrival of $200 million in lethal aid, all pointed directly at Russia.

That is why the US State Department is maintaining the fiction that Russia is about to launch a ground war to occupy Ukraine by dramatically announcing an “evacuation” of all “non-essential personnel” from its Embassy in Kiev.

It’s just too bad that we don’t share the opinion of who are really “non-essential” State Department personnel in Kiev: the last person out could be asked to turn off the lights.

By overthrowing an elected government in Kiev in 2014, the US government disenfranchised millions of voters in eastern Ukraine who voted for the overthrown president. Those voters unsurprisingly came to view the US-installed regime as illegitimate and sought self-rule under the concept of self-determination. As ethnic Russians, many of these successfully sought Russian passports.

Russia has been clear for a long time about Ukraine: it will not allow an armed invasion of eastern Ukraine that would result in the deaths of thousands of Russian citizens. Were the shoe on the other foot, the US—and any country—could be expected to react the same way.

The US is nearly the last country on earth that still holds to the WWII-era concept of war for territorial gain. Russia wants to “own” Ukraine like most people want to “own” a 2003 Saturn. That is why despite neocon/neo-liberal hype, magnified by the lock-step US media, Russia is not about to invade Ukraine.

This fantasy is being pushed by those who desperately need to continue to gin up enthusiasm for a thoroughly idiotic and counterproductive imperial enterprise.

Biden while vice president sowed the regime change winds in Ukraine. Now his inept Administration will reap the whirlwind of that continuing train wreck and eventual dissolution of the country. No matter what Antony Blinken peddles to the contrary.

Even the comedian Zelensky knows this is a really bad joke.

Originally published at the Ron Paul Institute.

Image source:
Flickr | https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassykyiv/23336978410
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Biden’s Fed Nominations

01/15/2022Robert Aro

Should sex or race play a role in hiring decisions at the Federal Reserve?

Consider the alleged problem in which the mainstream media, economists and Congress want your focus, courtesy of Reuters:

Currently, the Fed's board has only five members, all white and three of whom are men.

In 2022, one would think there’s something inherently wrong about this. The message being that if more women or persons of color were to helm America’s central bank, things would be better for the economy. The rationale behind the diversity push is not explained. The assumption is that a more (physically) diverse Fed is best.

How heavily diversity inclusion played into Biden’s nominations cannot be measured. He nominated three people; two being women, two African-American. If his nominations are confirmed:

Biden's picks would mean the seven-member Board of Governors would include four women, also a first.

Sharing his elation, Harvard economic professor Larry Katz said “it’s clearly a changing of the guard” and:

This is a "path-breaking new set of nominees who will bring important perspectives and representation to the board."

Meeting the candidates, there is former Fed Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin:

…who spent four years as a Fed governor before being tapped as a deputy Treasury secretary from 2014 to 2017, is expected to bring tougher oversight to bear on Wall Street…

Unlike Raskin, an already high ranking member of the system, the other two candidates are not. Lisa Cook is an economics professor from Michigan State and Philip Jefferson, a professor at Davidson College in North Carolina.

Cook has written extensively about the economic consequences of racial disparities and gender inequality, and growing up lived through the violence of school desegregation in the U.S. South. Jefferson has written extensively on wages, poverty and income distribution.

Whether by happenstance or grand design, the problem with emphasizing sex or race obscures the need to fill a board based on competencies.

If the Fed was composed of 4 women and 3 men, but they were schooled in the Neoclassical tradition, one could say they are diverse in appearance, but intellectually similar. This is problematic because without diversity of opinions or challenges to ideas, improvement to monetary policy cannot be expected. The belief that the Fed should manage the money supply and interest rates would continue to go unquestioned. The economic booms and busts this causes would continue indefinitely.

Contrast this to a homogenous board. A Fed composed of 7 women or men, or 7 whites or blacks, yet 3 were Austrian and 4 Neoclassical economists, would be an astounding difference. The public would be privy to one of the most splendid economic debates of all-time, even if only witnessed through interviews and meeting minutes. Nonetheless, there at least would exist the possibility that economic change could be realized from within.

Unfortunately, the importance of intellectual diversity garners little to no attention. The idea that even one person who possesses a basic understanding of the free market, liberty or freedom could ever be welcomed into the Board of Governors remains little more than an unattainable dream. Should the Federal Reserve have a 7 member board, hailing from 7 different races, yet none understand Austrian economics, then the next 100 years of monetary policy will look a lot like the last 100… or economic collapse will occur, whichever comes first.

 

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Bill Ackman Tells Fed to Raise Rates

11/02/2021Robert Aro

This week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) could be the one where the Federal Reserve finally raises rates and reduces asset purchases. It’s still anyone’s guess until the announcement is made this Wednesday. But in anticipation of the event, CNBC shares a news release that says Bill Ackman met with the New York Fed and told them to begin the rate raising process. He’s quoted saying:

The bottom line: we think the Fed should taper immediately and begin raising rates as soon as possible… We are continuing to dance while the music is playing… and it is time to turn down the music and settle down.

Interesting what makes the news these days. In this instance, it’s probably because Bill Ackman heads Pershing Square Holdings, which has over $13 billion of assets under management. Apparently, when you are rich, powerful and well connected, and you meet with central bankers to tell them how to do their job, it makes for headline news.

This does not constitute investment advice, but Ackman tweeted:

As we have previously disclosed, we have put our money where our mouth is in hedging our exposure to an upward move in rates, as we believe that a rise in rates could negatively impact our long-only equity portfolio.

Why does this matter?

The short answer: It doesn’t. The real interesting thing is the fact that these types of stories make for headlines and the broader picture being what it says about the state of society.

Understandably so, being a billionaire has perks, such as a celebrity status and maybe even a cult-like following. But remember, there will always be billionaires. Ultimately there are always Bill Ackmans of the world who become “a winner” after a series of entrepreneurial risks paid off in his favor. The real mystery lies in wondering what Ackman’s success has to do with knowing when the Fed should raise rates.

How one individual could be so close to the New York Fed, such that they might be privy to information the public doesn’t have, or in a position to influence the Fed in a way that few could ever dream, is also intriguing. It’s unclear who directs monetary policy in America at this point. But what is clear is that the slant is to protect those most closely connected to the Fed first.

If Ackman called out the system that allows him to meet with the New York Fed and (possibly) confirm a rate rise prior to the official announcement, that would have made for a better news story… yet he may feel no desire to help society at large.

It speaks to the system we are currently in. That a billionaire should know when it’s time to raise rates is just as problematic as a handful of central bankers knowing when is the right time.

We are stuck in the predicament of having planners who are supposed to know, or having global elites who instruct the planners because they somehow know the answers for them. The guru, the pundit, the well-paid bureaucrat or the billionaire; whether it’s the economic calculation methods they possess or the higher level knowledge over economic affairs, it will always be absurd that society is moved by those who can hardly defend the reason for their beliefs.

Ackman addressed a concern regarding his stock portfolio. The real problem is not whether the Fed should raise rates on Wednesday. The problem is that the Fed has the ability to raise rates on Wednesday.

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