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Sen. Paul Issues Second Letter to FBI Director Seeking Answers on Domestic Drone Use

July 9, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today issued a follow-up letter to a piece of correspondence that was sent on June 20, 2013, to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller regarding his concern over recent remarks by Director Mueller that indicate the FBI has used surveillance drones over American soil. In the first letter, Sen. Paul indicated that he would like a response by July 1, 2013. Sen. Paul has yet to receive any response from Director Mueller which prompted him to issue further correspondence:

LETTER TEXT:
July 9, 2013

Robert S. Mueller
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 2055-0001

Dear Director Mueller,

During testimony before Congress on June 19, 2013, you confirmed that the FBI does operate drone aircraft within the United States. Details on the purpose of these drones and the rules governing their use were not fully available at the time, though you seemed to indicate through your testimony that some details might be forthcoming.
Given that drone surveillance over American skies represents a potentially vast expansion of government surveillance powers without the constitutionally-guaranteed protection of a warrant, it is vital that the use of these drones by the FBI be fully examined in an open and transparent manner. The American people have a right to know the limits that the federal government operates under when using these drones, and whether further action by Congress is needed to protect the rights of innocent Americans.
On June 20, 2013, one day after your admission before Congress, I sent you a letter requesting specific details on the FBI’s use of drones. I have included a copy of this letter for your reference. In the letter, I indicated that I would like a response to my questions by July 1, 2013, which was a very reasonable timeframe to produce a response to a limited number of questions. Unfortunately, I have not received any answers to my questions, and I have not been informed as to when I should expect a reply.
Legitimate questions on important government functions should not be ignored. These questions are easily answerable and primarily questions of fact, so I respectfully request again that you provide answers to these questions. As you know, the President has submitted the nomination of your successor to the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee has begun consideration of his nomination, and that …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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City of Berkeley fights U.S. civil action against marijuana dispensary

July 9, 2013 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

(CNN) — The city of Berkeley, California, is trying to stop the U.S. government from closing a medical marijuana dispensary and filed a federal court claim Wednesday, attorneys said.

In the latest strategy against federal attempts to shut down marijuana shops, the city contends the U.S. civil action would harm the city by depriving it of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, paid over a period of years, according to Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit group whose attorneys are representing the city.

July 4, 2013

CNN

Michael Martinez

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Sen. Rand Paul on Fox's Hannity with Eric Bolling – 7/8/13

July 9, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Sen. Paul Appears on Fox's America's Newsroom with Martha Maccallum- 7/9/2013

July 9, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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A Liz Cheney Senate Run Could Save — Or Kill — Neoconservatism

July 9, 2013 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

One of former vice president Dick Cheney’s erstwhile fly-fishing buddies, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., told the press last week about his recent phone conversation with Cheney’s eldest daughter, Liz.

“She called me and said that she’s looking at it” — that is, running in 2014 for the Senate seat Enzi now holds. (The Beltway-bred former State Department official moved her family from McLean, Va., to Wyoming in 2012.)

Liz Cheney shares her famous father’s neoconservative militancy, but apparently lacks the fly-fisherman’s patience. She didn’t ask Enzi if he was planning to run again (he is). Awkward.

A Liz Cheney candidacy might be a political disaster for a movement that’s increasingly unpopular and bereft of ideas.”

In The National Interest, Jacob Heilbrunn worries that “for the neocons, a Cheney candidacy would be a great cause, a way to revivify the movement politically.” But a Liz Cheney candidacy might just as easily be a political disaster for a movement that’s increasingly unpopular and bereft of ideas.

Cheney “has told associates that, if she runs, she wants to do so in her own right,” the New York Times reported Sunday. I confess that ever since I read her first big oped as a public commentator, I’ve suspected that a famous last name helps.

That piece, “Retreat Isn’t an Option [on Iraq]” (Washington Post, 1/23/07) was a marvel of mangled metaphors and crashing cliches. “We Republicans,” she wrote, “with help from senators such as Chuck Hagel — seem ready to race the Democrats to the bottom. I’d like to ask the politicians in both parties who are heading for the hills to stop …” (A neat trick by Hagel, who’s somehow simultaneously racing to the bottom and heading for the hills. Move over Tom Friedman!)

In fairness, she’s much better on TV. But if “writing is thinking,” Liz Cheney thinks entirely in cliches. “We are at war;” “America faces an existential threat;” “Quitting helps the terrorists;” “Victory is the only option” are just a few in that column.

The 2007 column was also consistent with her more recent, bromide-heavy Wall Street Journal opeds, which are full of stale complaints like “apologizing for America, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies” (9/12/12), and staler exhortations such as “It is time to get back in the fight. And I do mean fight,” (3/28/13).

“Get Over the 2012 Loss — and Start Fighting Back,” Cheney tells Republicans, “now is the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Approaching Economic Stall Speed

July 9, 2013 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Stall speed is the airspeed at which an aircraft stops producing lift. Unless immediate corrective action is taken, such as reducing the wing’s angle of attack or the weight of the aircraft, the results are not likely to be good. An economy can hit “stall speed” when it becomes burdened with too much dead-weight loss.

The eurozone economies have hit stall speed, with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as most of the smaller economies, having negative growth. In addition, the United Kingdom and Japan are barely above stall speed with an annual growth rate of less than 1 percent. The United States, Canada, Russia and Brazil are in the danger zone, all with annual rates of less than 2 percent growth.

The basic questions are: Why has growth stalled, and what needs to be done to revive it? Good economists know the following:

Many nations are on the verge of shrinking economies.”

When government grows as a percentage of gross domestic product, economic expansion and job creation begin to slow beyond a certain point. This occurs as the portion of government spending that is used to provide for protection of person, property and liberty (court systems and defense) diminishes, and the portion used for transfer payments (often explicit payments for not working) and nonproductive, bureaucratic programs increases. Studies show that government spending above 25 percent of GDP tends to become increasingly counterproductive. Government spending in France is now above 50 percent of GDP, more than 40 percent in the other euro countries and nearly that much in the United States.

Government regulations not justified on a cost-benefit basis, plus the cumulative weight of all regulations, result in a dead-weight loss to an economy. The United States now has more than 1 million regulations, and the Code of Federal Regulations runs to more than 175,000 pages spread over 238 volumes. Clyde Wayne Crews and Ryan Young of the Competitive Enterprise Institute calculate the cost of these regulations to be about $1.8 trillion per year, or roughly 11 percent of GDP. Most European countries have similar or even greater regulatory burdens.

Many studies show that high marginal tax rates, particularly on labor and capital, have a negative effect on government revenues, and on economic and employment growth (the Laffer Curve effect). A study by Cornell University professor Karel Mertens, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, concludes that cutting the tax rate on the top 1 percent of taxpayers would lead to a statistically significant increase in GDP, and also …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Return to Folly?

July 9, 2013 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

This quotation appeared on my Facebook page (lifted from Robert Higgs and sourced as Psalm 26:11) and is dedicated to  Keynesians of all stripes:

“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” Psalm 26:11.

Alan Blinder returneth with his July 8, 2013 Wall Street Journal editorial “The Economy Needs More Spending Now: U.S. growth would be more robust if we didn’t confuse short-term stimulus with long-term reform.” The argument, which is intended to highlight the urgent need for even more fiscal stimulus of the increased spending type as opposed to tax reductions, instead highlights the what Robert Solow identified as the “major weakness of core macroeconomics,” a “lack of coupling between the short-run picture and the long-run picture” (quoted by Roger Garrison in the “Foreward” to the Hayek-Keynes debate-Lessons for Current Business Cycle Research, iii). Garrison goes on to argue that it is Hayek (and the Austrians) that provide the coupling.

For an Austrian argument on a coupled path to recovery – shrinking government involvement in the economy by lower spending, lower taxes, and reducing regime uncertainty which is supported by recent research on ‘multipliers,’ see “Stopping the Keynesian Death March.” Elsewhere,  Steve Kates explains the fundamental error of analysis based on aggregate demand, the foundation of Keynesian short-run thinking.

A dog or a fool? You decide

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Give It a Profit Motive

July 9, 2013 in Economics

By Andrew J. Coulson

Andrew J. Coulson

Milton Friedman proposed investing in future earnings to finance higher education in the 1940s and 50s and the idea was rekindled in 2002-03 by Miguel Palacios. As Palacios explains, these contracts can have important advantages over traditional loans, but only if they are thoughtfully implemented. To be sustainable from a policy standpoint, the average lifetime payback must at least cover the cost of the contracts. But to remain affordable to students, the extent to which the average payback exceeds the average cost must be minimized.

How can those goals be achieved simultaneously? First, with good information. The future earnings of each graduate must be accurately estimated using data on the quality of the college, the student’s previous performance, salary projections for their intended field, and the likelihood that they will actually work in that field. Second, there must be incentives to ensure that entities issuing the contracts set the payback terms only high enough to ensure sustainability.

To do that, you need the profit-and-loss system of the private sector to encourage good (and penalize bad) data and forecasting. And you need competition among multiple independent contracting entities to exert downward pressure on the cost to students. The Oregon plan currently seems to lack both, opting instead for a single government contract issuer. Unless Oregon eschews its centrally planned approach and opts for a marketplace with the necessary incentives, checks, and balances, it is apt to disappoint.

One final note. Even a thriving human capital marketplace will not bring our higher education system into the modern world. Thanks to the Web, social media, and associated gadgetry, independent learning is easier and less expensive than ever before. Coupled with judicious internships or part-time work, and interactions with other students and scholars, it can lead to more skilled, mature and experienced “graduates” than those who take the traditional college route—while leaving students with little or no debt. In light of this, it is hard not to think of traditional higher education as an anachronism.

Andrew Coulson directs the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and is the author of Market Education: The Unknown History.

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Source: OP-EDS