Can Kinky Friedman Bring Legal Marijuana and Hemp to Texas?

Kinky Friedman, who is competing in a runoff election Tuesday for the Democratic Party nomination for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, describes his race as “kind of a referendum on lifting this prohibition on hemp and on pot.” Can Friedman, who has gained notoriety among potential Texas voters as a singer/songwriter, mystery book writer, Texas Monthly columnist, and Texas governor candidate, bring legal marijuana and hemp to Texas?

While many people may view Texas as among the least likely states for a candidate promoting marijuana and hemp legalization to win statewide office, polling indicates a majority of Texans support marijuana legalization. Nevertheless, Texas politicians are reluctant to legalize, likely in part because they are concerned about a backlash from the minority of Texans who support the war on marijuana.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Walter Block’s Libertarian Journey: Booing Ayn Rand and Playing Risk with Murray Rothbard

In a new interview with Kyle Platt at Liberty.me, RPI Academic Board Member Walter Block — jovial as usual — tells the lively tale of his discovery of libertarian ideas as a young man.

It all started in the early 1960s when Block, then — in Block’s words — a “pinko liberal,” attended an Ayn Rand speech where he “booed and hissed” the architect of the Objectivism. Afterward, Block challenged Rand and her associate Nathaniel Branden to a debate on socialism versus capitalism. This led to a conversation with Branden that drew Block into the social circle of Rand, Branden, and other leading Objectivist thinkers.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren: USA FREEDOM Act Secretly ‘Altered in Worrisome Ways’

On Wednesday — the day before the United States House of Representatives voted to approve the USA FREEDOM Act (HR 3361) — Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) explained on the House floor that back room machinations changed the bill between the votes approving it in the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees and the bill’s consideration on the House floor. These shenanigans outside the routine committee process, Lofgren explains, made meaningless some restraints on US government mass spying contained in the bill. Lofgren states:

After [the USA Freedom Act] was reported out unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee, certain key elements of this bill were changed. I think it’s ironic that a bill that was intended to increase transparency was secretly changed between the committee markup and floor consideration, and it was altered in worrisome ways.

Lofgren proceeds to explain that, under the bill, mass spying may be justifiable in multiple geographic areas including areas as large as an entire state or even the southern or eastern United States, meaning the bill does not stop the mass spying from continuing throughout the entire United States.

Lofgren also notes that all nine of her amendments were ruled out of order. In fact, no amendments at all were considered during the House floor debate.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Judge Napolitano on Obama Helping ‘Targeted Killings Memo’ Author Become Judge

Judge Andrew Napolitano, speaking with Shepard Smith on Fox News, denounces President Barack Obama’s ongoing delay in providing the legal arguments used to justify the executive branch’s “targeted killings” program. In particular, Napolitano criticizes Obama’s refusal to provide the memorandum describing the legal argument for the US government using a drone to kill US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Obama’s delay, Napolitano says, will mean that the United States Senate will have approved the lifetime appointment of David Barron, the memo’s author, to a US federal court before the memorandum is made public.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Toothless USA FREEDOM Act Losing Support

The USA FREEDOM Act (HR 3361), which is supposedly designed to thwart the US government’s mass spying program, appears to be confirming RPI Executive Director Daniel McAdams’ warning from September: “beware NSA spying and beware the PATRIOT Act and beware FISA reauthorizations. But most of all…keep your eyes on the reformers!”

The stench from the USA FREEDOM Act has grown so obvious that privacy-related interest groups are renouncing their support of the bill after the bill, which had already passed through the committee approval process, was revised Tuesday to gain the Obama administration’s support. It is becoming harder by the day to have faith the legislation is even a small step toward greater respect for freedom.

Even before the revisions this week, it was easy to be suspicious of the legislation’s strength to control government spying just from the fact that it passed unanimously in both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees of the United States House of Representatives. Together, the committees have fifty-nine members.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

US House Considers Gold Medal for Shimon Peres, Bill Touts US-Israel “Unbreakable Bond”

The United States House of Representatives is scheduled to consider today awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to Israel President Shimon Peres. Notably, the short bill, HR 2939, that authorizes the creation of the gold medal and its award to Peres touts Peres’ “pivotal role in forging the strong and unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel” and states that “[b]y presenting the Congressional Gold Medal … Congress proclaims its unbreakable bond with Israel and reaffirms its continual support for Israel.” Peres also previously served as prime minister of Israel, as well as in other high-level positions in the Israel government.

It would be appropriate today for members of the House to reflect on the words of the first person awarded a Congressional Gold Medal—President George Washington. In particular, they may read Washington’s farewell address, in which Washington encouraged the United States government to follow a noninterventionist foreign policy. You cannot square Washington’s recommendation with having an “unbreakable bond” with any foreign government. Unlike House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who twists Washington into a champion of a world-wide interventionist agenda, some House members may find wisdom in the reading.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Rep. John Fleming’s Marijuana and Libertarians Disinformation Campaign

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) presented his absurd and deceptive campaign against all marijuana use in his opening statement for a hearing regarding marijuana laws held by a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the morning of May 9. In the process, Fleming also made a preposterous mischaracterization of libertarianism.

Fleming’s subcommittee statement followed his similarly misleading speech on the House floor in April in opposition to veterans using medical marijuana. And the statement occurred the same day Fleming said he may introduce legislation to block the implementation of a local Washington, DC law that decriminalizes the possession and transfer without payment of an ounce or less of marijuana on private property.

Fleming’s subcommittee statement, which may be watched here starting at time marker 14:58, presents a litany of misleading and half-truth assertions regarding marijuana use that needs to be heard to be believed.

We can consider a few of Fleming’s assertions at the beginning of his subcommittee presentation to gain an understanding of the abysmal nature of his marijuana disinformation campaign. But, first it is important to consider Fleming’s incredible misrepresentation of libertarian ideas also included in the presentation.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Ron Paul Praises States’ Nullification of US Marijuana Prohibition

Ron Paul, Wednesday on Fox Business’ The Independents, praises state governments’ nullification of marijuana prohibition. Paul, though, proceeds to warn against the taxation motivation behind liberalizing marijuana laws, noting that “if you had a libertarian society, you wouldn’t be legalizing something just so you could tax it.”

Paul, who is chairman and founder of RPI, also addresses in the interview politicians who perceive ending the drug war as “a risky political position to take.” This concern is overblown, suggests Paul, explaining “One of the types of achievements I had was running in a southern district, a Bible Belt district, and promoting getting rid of the drug war, and [that] never hurting me having run against Democrats and Republicans that used that as the big issue when I was trying to get back into the Congress in 1996.” Paul, who had served in the US House in the late 1970s and early 1980s, returned to the House after defeating an incumbent Republican representative and a Democrat challenger in 1996.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Is Today ‘Lie about Ron Paul in Headlines Day’?

Looking at the Washington Post and Rare, one has to wonder if today is Lie about Ron Paul in Headlines Day.

First, the Washington Post published an article with the headline “Ron Paul thinks drug use is rampant inside prisons. He’s wrong.” That is a rather provocative claim. But, the claim is not at all backed up by the article. Paul, who is the chairman and founder of RPI, is quoted in the article’s first sentence:

In his final speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Ron Paul opined that reducing access to drugs in society was hopeless because “the authorities can’t even keep drugs out of prison.”

Of course, saying that drugs cannot be kept out of prison is not the same as saying drug use is rampant in prison.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: Oligarchs Run US Foreign Policy

William & Mary Professor and RPI Academic Board Member Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, in an in-depth interview with this week with Paul Jay on the Real News Network, argues that oligarchs run United States foreign policy. Having served in US government positions including as chief of staff for Colin Powell when Powell was Secretary of State, Wilkerson has seen close up how US foreign policy operates. Here is Wilkerson’s summation:

Part of what I teach is how since World War II and the acquisition of this enormous power by what in essence is the new Rome in the world, the United States, part of the shift that takes place in manipulating and managing that new power is a centralization of foreign policy away from the old cabinet places where it used to take place, most prominently through the Foreign Service and through the Secretary of State, to the White House and to the creation of the 1947 National Security Act, the National Security Council. So if you ask me pro forma where does [the center of power for making US foreign policy] exist today, it exists more in the National Security Council and its staff than it does anywhere else, certainly anywhere else in the cabinet.

So what I’m saying is it’s centralized in the White House. But what does that mean in terms of, I think, your real question, who’s behind the White House, and who’s therefore behind U.S. foreign policy, more or less? I think the answer today is the oligarchs, which would be the same answer, incidentally, ironically, if you will, for Putin in Russia, the people who own the wealth, the people who therefore have the power and who more or less (and I’m not being too facetious here, I don’t think) buy the president and thus buy American foreign policy. So that’s as succinct an answer as I can give you and touch on a few historical points

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.