One of the nation's most vociferous defenders of liberty and vocal opponent of big government has given his last goodbye on the floor of the House of Representatives: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Among his many astute observations -- and warnings -- he left for the American people, the segment of his speech on liberty was among the most striking:
Liberty can only be achieved when government is denied the aggressive use of force. If one seeks liberty, a precise type of government is needed. To achieve it, more than lip service is required.
Two choices are available.
1. A government designed to protect liberty—a natural right—as its sole objective.
The people are expected to care for themselves and reject the use of any force for
interfering with another person’s liberty. Government is given a strictly limited
authority to enforce contracts, property ownership, settle disputes, and defend
against foreign aggression.
2. A government that pretends to protect liberty but is granted power to arbitrarily use force over the people and foreign nations. Though the grant of power many times is meant to be small and limited, it inevitably metastasizes into an omnipotent political cancer. This is the problem for which the world has suffered throughout the ages. Though meant to be limited it nevertheless is a 100% sacrifice of a principle that would-be-tyrants find irresistible. It is used vigorously—though incrementally and insidiously. Granting power to government officials always proves the adage that: “power corrupts.”
Once government gets a limited concession for the use of force to mold people habits and plan the economy, it causes a steady move toward tyrannical government. Only a revolutionary spirit can reverse the process and deny to the government this arbitrary use of aggression. There’s no in-between. Sacrificing a little liberty for imaginary safety always ends badly.
Today’s mess is a result of Americans accepting option #2, even though the Founders attempted to give us Option #1.
The full text of Paul's Farewell Address is available here via the TheHill.com. Give it a read. Read it and weep -- but read it and take action.
This coming Thursday (Aug. 23) I will appear as one of the guest speakers at the monthly open meeting of Ocean County Citizens for Freedom, a grassroots Tea Party group here on the New Jersey Shore. I will discuss my foreign aid-related research that I have published as an investigative reporter, particularly my recent findings here at U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor as well as at WND, The Revered Review, and Patriot Update. Among issues to be explored will be the refusal of Congress members to relinquish tainted campaign contributions from the political action committee of HSBC, the disgraced bank busted by the U.S. Senate for laundering money from Mexican drug lords and terrorist affiliates.
Time permitting, I also will share an uplifting experience I had as a concerned citizen investigating the Ocean County Freeholders -- an investigation that led both to frustrations as well as well as successes, notably in the area of opening up job opportunities at the Ocean County Security Department for non-politically connected citizens.
New Jersey 2nd Amendment Society (NJ2AS) President Frank Jack Fiamingo will precede me on stage that night.
The event will be held at Jimmy C's, a restaurant and club located at 17 Washington Street, Toms River, NJ. The first speaker will have the floor beginning 7 pm, so get there early. The event is open to the public. If coming, consider letting the organizers know via MeetUp. -- Steve Peacock
Media scrutiny of the HSBC money-laundering scandal has died down, but I am not letting Sen. Robert Menendez (D) -- who represents me here in New Jersey -- nor any other congressional recipients of the disgraced bank's political action committee's generosity off the hook.
Despite calling -- as a journalist -- the leadership of the House Financial Services and the Senate Banking committees, until today only one member responded. And the spokesman for that one leader (one of the few who has not gotten or taken a penny from the HSBC PAC in fifteen years) -- declined comment.The rest have remained steadfastly silent.
Today, however, Sen. Menendez had this to say in response to my questions, "In light of HSBC's dealing with Mexican drug lords and suspected Iranian terrorist supporters, what do you plan to do with the bank PAC donations you have received over the years? Will you reject future offers?"
Dear Mr. Peacock :
Thank you for contacting me regarding an issue with my re-election campaign.
As you may know, I am currently up for re-election to the United States Senate, with the election taking place on November 6, 2012. While I would like to respond to your inquiry, I am legally prohibited from discussing any activity related to a political organization, such as my re-election campaign, with official Senate resources. As such, I would encourage you to contact my campaign with your inquiry.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not he sitate to contact me if I may be of further assistance. I invite you to visit my website http://menendez.senate.gov to learn more about how I am standing up for New Jersey families in the United States Senate.
Robert Menendez, United States Senator
He says he cannot comment, yet tells me to contact his campaign for a comment? How frustrating. I will not accuse Menendez, however, of using the upcoming re-election campaign as an excuse to continue his silence, as indeed I am aware there are such restrictions as he claimed. Still, if the Menendez campaign remains mute on the matter through November, the senator risks jeopardizing what's left of his integrity and reputation.
In the meantime, dear citizens, please sign the petition urging the HSBC PAC congressional recipients to diverst themselves of those tainted campaign contributions. Please take action now.
-- Steve Peacock
The fallout from the HSBC money laundering scandal continues to reverberate around the globe, but U.S. Congress members apparently are in no hurry to return millions of dollars they have received from the scandal-plagued bank's political action committee.
U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor conducted an analysis of Federal Election Commission records specific to the company PAC's generosity toward Congress. The investigation centered upon two congressional panels with primary oversight of the industry: The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, and the House Committee on Financial Services.
Since 1997, the earliest available FEC electronic records, HSBC bestowed its greatest beneficence upon the House panel’s leadership.
The bank’s direct contributions to individual leaders amounted to hundreds of thousands; however, HSBC’s financial support of the American Bankers Association PAC, or BANKPAC – plus many dozens of other financial, insurance, and law firm PACs for which HSBC provides funding – in turn donated millions of dollars to a handful of key members.
The Monitor offered two basic questions for committee leadership to answer:
In the few instances where leaders obtained zero or minimal HSBC funds, WND inquired whether the member had rejected or simply never had been offered donations.
The spokesperson of only one congressional leader – who declined to be identified – returned an e-mail to the Monitor. In that instance, the congressman, who received a small amount from HSBC several years ago, said he would rather not comment on the situation.
As of this deadline, the Monitor’s questions otherwise continue to be met with a wall of silence.
HSBC’s biggest financial beneficiary on the committees is Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., who since 1997 raked in $45,500 directly from the HSBC PAC. It most recently cut a $1,000 check for the Bachus for Congress Committee in November.
HSBC in May likewise donated $2,500 to the Financial Services Roundtable, a PAC that has given Bachus $33,499 from 1997 onward, including a $5,000 check in February.
Subcommittee Vice Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, has reaped $34,500 from HSBC since 2002, last receiving $1,000 in September 2011. BANKPAC, however, donated $52,000 to his campaign in that same period.
Ranking Minority Member Barney Frank, D-Mass., directly received $21,000 since 2002 from HSBC, which in turn gave $42,500 to BANKPAC – which in turn donated a total of $48,250 back to Frank.
The following is a run-down solely of direct HSBC PAC donations to the respective House Committee on Financial Services subcommittee leaders:
Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee
Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee
Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee
Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee
U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs leaders received significantly less than their House counterparts from HSBC. Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., got $20,000 from the PAC since 1997.
While HSBC only gave $13,029 to Ranking Minority Member Richard Shelby since 1998, Shelby – who also serves as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee – separately received millions during that period from a multitude of PACs in every imaginable industry sector.
The following is a run-down solely of direct HSBC PAC donations to the respective Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs subcommittee leaders:
Economic Policy Subcommittee
Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee
Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee
Security and International Trade and Finance Subcommittee
Securities, Insurance, and Investment Subcommittee
A spokesperson for the Center for Responsive Politics expressed concern about such linkages between industries such as the banking sector and members of Congress with jurisdiction over them.
Viveca Novak, CRP editorial and communications director, cautioned, however, against making a direct connection between contributions received and the perception of congressional favors granted.
“It creates at least the appearance of a conflict of interest when lawmakers running for re-election rely on contributions from the very companies they are supposed to be overseeing,” she said.
“Is this why Congress has such difficulty passing legislation that addresses some of the questionable practices of banks and others? There’s not a straight line between cause and effect, but there are grounds for raising questions about a link.”
Alluding to the Monitor’s questioning of House and Senate committee members about what their plans are for the campaign contributions, Novak said CRP is not taking a position “on what should be done with the donations already given.”
A similar version of this article first was published via WND.com on July 29.
Check out Scandal-plagued HSBC shopped Congress for favors -- No officials offer to return bank's blood money," my latest from WND. The WND piece sheds light on the big picture of HSBC's effortful attempts to influence of Congress over the years, which took place while the bank largely turned a blind eye to drug-cartel and terrorist money flowing through its vaults. A separate article I wrote for The Revered Review -- Federal Lawmakers Silent on Tainted HSBC Funds -- Will Sen. Menendez, Rep. Garrett return "blood money"?" -- hits closer to home for me, as it centers upon my elected officials here in New Jersey, and how they likewise raked in dollars from HSBC while leading congressional subcomittees tasked with overseing the banking industry.
“U.S. Engagement in Central Asia” will be the focus of tomorrow’s (July 24) hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia. The panel, chaired by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), will meet at 2 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The hearing also will be avaialable live via online video stream
Check out my latest article for WND, "Cash flows for 'madrassa' lawmaker -- Contributors include Obama appointee as U.S. Marshal." For all it's worth, I spent two days researching and writing this piece, which reveals a surprising connection between a shady congressman and a high -ranking law enforcement official appointed by President Obama. Specific to U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor, the piece is quite relevant since the elected official in question, Rep. Andre Carson, serves on powerful congressional panels having great influence upon -- and which are greatly influenced by -- cash-rich international corporations and unions seeking political favors.
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wed. voted in favor of the FY13 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (HR-6018), which, among other actions, would approve:
That discovery coincides with today's blast in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Although officially it remains unclear whether the blast was the result of a utility problem or the work of terrorists, Reuters reports that a witness saw a man place a suspicious package in business-district building right before the explosion.
The U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command is awarding a noncompetitive “sole-source contract to United States Marine Incorporated (USMI) of Gulfport, Miss to provide five (5) 11M Naval Special Warfare Rigid Inflatable Boats,” according to a presolicitation notice that NAVSEC uploaded to a federal contracting database May 21.
The U.S. Navy in a separate “Fact File” describes the vessels as “High-speed, high-buoyancy, extreme-weather craft with the primary mission of SEAL insertion/extraction.”
A History Channel report referred to the boat as “the Lamborghini of special warfare craft.”
The 36-ft. turbocharged vessels typically carry a crew of three in addition to one SEAL squad, and are armed with an “M60 7.62mm machine gun, MK19 40mm, [and] M2 .50 cal. machine gun.” Although the presolicitation document did not specify whether NAVSEC was equipping the USMI-provided boats with such armaments, it said the company “will provide services and materials required to build the boat, as well as execute testing, trials, depreservation of the boat in preparation for transportation, and perform in-country reactivation.”
NAVSEC did not disclose the estimated cost of the Kenya-bound boats.
The naval unit justified the sole-source contract based on its claim that USMI “is the only source with the 11M Naval Special Warfare Rigid Inflatable Boat data rights necessary to build and perform services depicted through a foreign military case for the Kenyan Government. This firm has the requisite background knowledge and experience required.”
A review of Federal Election Commission campaign contribution records supports NAVSECs contention that it awarded the noncompetitive contract based on USMI’s ability to provide the equipment; indeed, the Obama Administration clearly did not allow the company executive team’s generosity to Republican causes to stand in the way of this award.
USMI Chairman John Dane III, for example, donated $104,000 largely to Republican committees and candidates since 1998.
The most sizeable gift from Dane III was a $25,000 contribution to the Republican National Committee in 2004. He also gave $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in July 2010—a contribution that he matched once again in October 2011.
Six days later he contributed $2,500 to Romney for President, Inc.
Most recently he gave $2,500 to Palazzo for Congress Committee. U.S. Rep. Steven McCarty Palazzo (R-MS) currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee, which gives him a seat on its Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces as well as the Subcommittee on Readiness.
CEO Barry Dreyfus also has given more than $100,000 mainly to Republican candidates and committees over the past fifteen years, most recently cutting two separate $2,500 checks on the same day (Jan. 26, 2012) to the Palazzo for Congress Committee
Interestingly, the sole FEC record of a campaign contribution made by Bryant Bernhard, USMI president, was a $2,400 check made out May 24, 2010 to the Gene Taylor for Congress Committee. Taylor was the Democrat who lost his seat to Palazzo in the following November election.
There is no record of any campaign contributions made by VP Conrad Keubel.