Tag Archives: George W. Bush

The White House Has No Credibility

Don’t always agree with all Baldwin says. I am NOT a Constitutionalist but still can agree with him on issues of liberty.  The crap seems to be hiitin’ the fan for O and company. Unfortunately, the Bush cartel is still on the loose and playing their control games behind the scenes. BTW none of these politicians complaining are without guilt unless you would count those only in office  the past couple of years. They MAY NOT have blood on their hands yet. All others need to go to trial for treason-yeah right. (E)

Original article archived here: http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/Articles/tabid/109/ID/1040/The-White-House-Has-No-Credibility.aspx

Chuck Baldwin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013

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Holy Cow, Martha! Will miracles never cease? Chuck Baldwin and the New York Times editorial board actually agree. Are we in the Twilight Zone? Is it Freaky Friday? Is the Times editorial board reading my columns and seeing the light or am I watching CNN and MSNBC too much? I know I don’t watch those two propaganda outlets too much, and I doubt the Times editorial board pays too much attention to what I write, so what is going on?

On June 6, the editorial board of the New York Times posted a column that yours truly could have written. The column was entitled “President Obama’s Dragnet.” The editorial begins:

“Within hours of the disclosure that federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.

“Those reassurances have never been persuasive–whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism–especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability.

“The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.”

The editorial goes on to say, “Essentially, the administration is saying that without any individual suspicion of wrongdoing, the government is allowed to know whom Americans are calling every time they make a phone call, for how long they talk and from where.

“This sort of tracking can reveal a lot of personal and intimate information about an individual. To causally permit this surveillance–with the American public having no idea that the executive branch is now exercising this power–fundamentally shifts power between the individual and the state, and it repudiates constitutional principles governing search, seizure and privacy.”

The Times editorial concludes by saying, “On Thursday, representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, who introduced the Patriot Act in 2001, said that the National Security Agency overstepped its bounds by obtaining a secret order to collect phone log records from millions of Americans.

“‘As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the F.B.I.’s interpretation of this legislation,’ he said in a statement. ‘While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses.’ He added: ‘Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.’

“Stunning use of the act [Patriot Act] shows, once again, why it needs to be sharply curtailed if not repealed.”

See The New York Times editorial here:

President Obama’s Dragnet

First of all, the Patriot Act introduced by Sensenbrenner and passed into law in 2001 had been introduced before (almost word-for-word) during the Clinton administration. It was soundly defeated by Republican majorities in both the US House and Senate. Then after 9-11, these same Republicans passed the Patriot Act into law. And you read that the principal sponsor of the Act in the House, Jim Sensenbrenner, said he had “always worried about potential abuses.” Then why the heck did he and the rest of the Republicans in the House and Senate pass the darn thing? You know why. Back in 2001, a Republican was in the White House. As we have seen time and time again, party partisanship usually trumps loyalty to the Constitution on Capitol Hill.

Think about it: when Democrat Bill Clinton was President, Democrats on Capitol Hill strongly supported what became known as the Patriot Act; and Republicans opposed it. But when Republican G.W. Bush was President, Republicans supported (and passed) the Patriot Act; and Democrats opposed it. Remember: it was the same bill! What made the difference? The party occupying the White House. Yet, even the chief sponsor of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, said he “always worried about potential abuses.” Well, now we know his worries were justified.

Wouldn’t it be nice if just once members of Congress (from both parties) would choose to err on the side of liberty and constitutional government instead of tyranny and Big-Government?

Secondly, the abuses of power by the White House under the guise of the Patriot Act have been going on ever since the darn thing was passed. Barack Obama is no guiltier of trampling the Bill of Rights than G.W. Bush. It was Bush who pushed through, not only the Patriot Act, but the Military Commissions Act and the NDAA, all of which give the executive branch of the federal government unconstitutional authority to abuse the rights and liberties of the American people.

I even recall when G.W. Bush appeared before the United Nations shortly after ordering the invasion of Iraq and told that body the reason Iraq was invaded was for the “peace and credibility of the United Nations.”

See Bush’s speech to the UN here:

George W. Bush Addresses The UN

I didn’t know the United Nations had any credibility worth saving. Furthermore, I thought the US armed forces were supposed to fight to preserve the safety and liberty of the United States. You mean to tell me that American forces were sent into Iraq for the benefit of the “peace and credibility of the United Nations”? Egad. I wonder if Bush and Obama are using federal police powers against the American citizenry for the same reason that US troops were used against Iraq: for the “peace and credibility of the United Nations.” I think it is safe to say that anyone who would abuse US troops to fulfill the machinations of the United Nations would have no hesitation to abuse US citizens for the same reason. In other words, everything that G.W. Bush started, Barack Obama is continuing–both in regard to the wars waged in the Middle East and in the abuse of liberties in the United States.

The rubric for all of this abuse is the “War on Terror,” with the Patriot Act serving as the cornerstone piece of legislation authorizing it and the Department of Homeland Security serving as the cornerstone agency enforcing it. The net result is perpetual war abroad and a burgeoning police state at home.

The New York Times is right: the Obama White House has no credibility on this issue. Neither did the Bush White House. Then, again, it might not matter whether the White House has any credibility, as long as the United Nations has credibility. I jest, of course.

The Times is also right when it says the Patriot Act needs to be “sharply curtailed if not repealed.” I vote for the latter.

And why is it left to the New York Times to call for the repeal of the Patriot Act? Where are the so-called conservative Republicans? Where are the cable news networks? Where is the rest of the media? And where are America’s pastors and churches?

The New York Times and Chuck Baldwin preaching the same sermon: who would have ever believed it?

(c) Chuck Baldwin

 


News & Analysis From The Daily Bell

I would encourage all of my readers to subscribe to The Daily Bell™. Click on he Banner below to be taken to their site. (E)

News & Analysis

MONDAY, MARCH 04, 2013

Brilliant Polemic Defends US Freedom … and Demands Appropriate Incarcerations

By Staff Report

Americans – Like Nazi Germans – Don’t Notice that All of Our Rights Are Slipping Away … Americans Are Acting Like Slowly Boiling Frogs … The German citizens were boiling frogs … the water heating up so gradually that they didn’t realize they had to jump out of the pot to safety. Because the exact same thing is happening to Americans (fear of terror makes people stupid no matter what country they live in), let’s remember exactly what we’ve lost in recent years … – Washington’s Blog

Dominant Social Theme: US freedoms are slipping away and they must be brought back again by the people themselves, using all due enforcement tools.

Free-Market Analysis: In another brilliant polemic, the famous Washington’s Blog lays out a substantial litany of what the US has lost in terms of rights, and from this article’s point of view it is mostly everything. It is an article containing both truth and sincerity.

We agree with it on numerous levels and are most in agreement with the idea that a kind Nazi fascism is overtaking the US. It began long ago but was immeasurably increased under the reign of George W. Bush whose family was enmeshed in Nazi funding until public rage forced the US government to strip the family of German investment assets in 1942.

Bush’s efforts, nakedly pursued but rarely reported, included the leveraging of a police state, the creation of “Homeland Security” with its overtones of the Nazi Fatherland and the repositioning of the US’s various intelligence and policing agencies as the sword of the state to be turned aggressively against the American people.

Under Bush, various trends noted by Washington’s Blog were immensely exacerbated. Washington’s Blog points out that currently the US government “is arresting those speaking out … and violently crushing peaceful assemblies which attempt to petition the government for redress.”

He also points out that the government is flying spy drones over the American homeland. “The domestic use of drones to spy on Americans clearly violates the Fourth Amendment and limits our rights to personal privacy.”

And he adds, “Even without drones, Americans are the most spied on people in world history … The American government is collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American.”

The article enumerates many other areas where rights are being lost, including the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and the right to travel from place to place without harassment. The end of the article provides a powerful summation, pointing out that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Today, most Americans believe that the government is threatening – rather than protecting – freedom … and that it is no longer acting with the “consent of the governed.” And the federal government is trampling the separation of powers by stepping on the toes of the states and the people.

The article closes by reminding us that both the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency “competed to weaken federal regulation and [tried] to prevent state investigations … against fraudulent mortgage lenders.”

This is an odd close and not the summation we were looking for. It leads to our one question: If the federal government is over-reaching horribly, then why is it wrong to “weaken federal regulation”? We’ve noted this contradiction. We don’t understand how one can be against the neo-fascism of the US Leviathan but still enthusiastic about bringing the US’s horrible and corrupt criminal justice system to bear … no matter the nature of the crime.

The prison-industrial complex, like the military-industrial complex, is a great US evil. It includes an illegally globalized FBI, an out-of-control civil policing establishment (at both the state and federal level) and of course, a penal-industrial complex that incarcerates more than half of those in jail around the world, increasingly in “privatized” penitentiaries.

Conclusion: Does not advocating its use – rather than its reform – perhaps undermine the very points that US patriots wish to make?

 


“This Depressingly Vitriolic Presidential Campaign”

WRITTEN BY THOMAS L. KNAPP  

That’s how my friend, conservative political blogger Robert Stacy McCain, characterizes the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential primary race to date.

Note that McCain doesn’t argue that the campaign is unusually vitriolic. He’s smarter than that; thus far it has actually been quite pedestrian.

The “vulture capitalism” barbs aimed at Mitt Romney‘s career with Bain Capital, the Daily Beast’s “investigative reporting” on Karen Santorum‘s ex-boyfriend, even the Newt Gingrich “open marriage”

bombshell … none of these hold a candle to past negative campaigning.

In the 1800 campaign — America’s first competitive presidential election — Thomas Jefferson’s SuperPAC equivalents referred to John Adams as a “hideous hermaphroditical character;” in reply, Adams’s supporters described Jefferson as “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”

It’s pretty much gone downhill from there.

In 2000, George W. Bush’s operatives spread rumors in South Carolina that John McCain — a former prisoner of war in Vietnam — might be a “Manchurian candidate,” and that his adopted daughter (of Bangladeshi

ancestry) was actually an out-of-wedlock “love child” from an affair with an African-American woman.

In 2008, we learned that Barack Obama not only “pals around with terrorists,” but is in actuality a Kenyan-born Muslim Communist, smuggled into the US and his birth records doctored so that he could someday destroy the United States from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And that Sarah Palin faked her own pregnancy. And that Mitt Romney was a robot. OK, that last one may be true. But anyway …

Negative campaigning is part and parcel of American politics for three reasons.

The first is that there’s a lot at stake. Even the least fiscally demanding of the Republican candidates, US Representative Ron Paul, only wants to cut $1 trillion from the federal budget. That means he’s running for executive control of $2.7 trillion, or more than $8,500 to be annually seized from each man, woman and child in the United States through taxation, inflation or debt assignation. I’ve seen customers and cashiers say nasty things about each other over a 39 cent discrepancy in the grocery checkout line. We’re not talking chump change here.

The second is that politicians have nothing to offer the public but fear. They can’t give you anything they haven’t first taken from you.

In the aggregate, that is: Yes, some pay more than others and some get less, but that’s the whole point, see? The pivotal exercise in electoral politics is convincing you that I’ll take something from Pete and give it to you, while that other guy — the big meanie who cheats on his wife, smokes crack on the campaign bus, and may actually be a secret Rwandan! — will take something from you and give it to Pete. Letting Pete keep his stuff and you yours is explicitly off the table. The game’s rigged that way from the start.

The third reason is that negative campaigning works. You — I’m speaking to voters here, and once again in the aggregate — say you don’t like it, but your voting patterns prove you respond to it exactly as its practitioners intend. “Shining city on a hill” and all that makes for nice stump speech filler, but it’s “keep your sheep locked up when my opponent’s around” that moves the poll results.

There’s only one way to get past negative campaigning, and that’s getting past campaigning itself. Getting past politics. Lowering the stakes by telling those boobs on the stage that your $8,500+ is yours, not theirs. That they can’t have it. That you don’t need them.

That happens to be the position of the non-voting American majority.

57% of Americans did not cast votes in the 2008 presidential election.

They withheld their consent to be ruled by the lying, thieving, fearmongering few. In 2012, let’s join them in their healthy rejection of politics.


Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).


Blood on Whose Hands?

Chase Madar

English: Slogan for the support of the persecu...

Lawyer, writer

Bradley Manning, Washington, and the Blood of Civilians

Who in their right mind wants to talk about, think about, or read a short essay about… civilian war casualties?  What a bummer, this topic, especially since our Afghan, Iraq, and other ongoing wars were advertised as uplifting acts of philanthropy: wars to spread security, freedom, democracy, human rights, gender equality, the rule of law, etc.

A couple hundred thousand dead civilians have a way of making such noble ideals seem like dollar-store tinsel.  And so, throughout our decade-long foreign policy debacle in the Greater Middle East, we in the U.S. have generally agreed that no one shall commit the gaucherie of dwelling on (and “dwelling on” = fleetingly mentioned) civilian casualties. Washington elites may squabble over some things, but as for foreigners killed by our numerous wars, our Beltway crew adheres to a sullen code of omertà.

Club rules do, however, permit one loophole: Washington officials may bemoan the nightmare of civilian casualties — but only if they can be pinned on a 24-year-old Army private first class named Bradley Manning.

Pfc. Manning, you will remember, is the young soldier who is soon to be court-martialed for passing some 750,000 military and diplomatic documents, a large chunk of them classified, to the website WikiLeaks.  Among those leaks, there was indeed some serious stuff about how Americans dealt with civilians in invaded countries.  For instance, the documents revealed that the U.S. military, then the occupying force in Iraq, did little or nothing to prevent Iraqi authorities from torturing prisoners in a variety of gruesome ways, sometimes to death.

Then there was that gun-sight video — unclassified but buried in classified material — of an American Apache helicopter opening fire on a crowd on a Baghdad street, gunning down a dozen men, including two Reuters employees, and injuring more, including children.  There were also those field reports about how jumpy American soldiers repeatedly shot down civilians at roadside checkpoints; about night raids gone wrong both in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a count of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, a tally whose existence the U.S. military had previously denied possessing.

Together, these leaks and many others offered a composite portrait of military and political debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan whose grinding theme has been civilian casualties, a fact not much noted here in the U.S.  A tiny number of low-ranking American soldiers have been held to account for rare instances of premeditated murder of civilians, but most of the troops who kill civilians in the midst of the chaos of war are not tried, much less convicted.  We don’t talk about these cases a lot either.  On the other hand, officials of all types make free with lusty condemnations of Bradley Manning, whose leaks are luridly credited with potential (though not actual) deaths.

Putting Lives in Danger

“[WikiLeaks] might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the release of the Afghan War Logs in July 2010.  This was, of course, the same Admiral Mullen who had endorsed a major escalation of the war in Afghanistan, which would lead to a tremendous “surge” in casualties among civilians and soldiers alike.  Here are counts — undoubtedly undercounts, in fact — of real Afghan corpses that, at least in part, resulted from the policy he supported: 2,412 in 2009, 2,777 in 2010, 1,462 in the first half 2011, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan.  As far as anyone knows, here are the corpses that resulted from the release of those WikiLeaks documents: 0.  (And don’t forget, the stalemate war with the Taliban has not budged in the period since that surge.)  Who, then, has blood on his hands, Pfc. Manning — or Admiral Mullen?

Of course the admiral is hardly alone.  In fact, whole tabernacle choirs have joined in the condemnation of Manning and WikiLeaks for “causing” carnage, thanks to their disclosures.

Robert Gates, who served as secretary of defense under George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, also spoke sternly of Manning’s leaks, accusing him of “moral culpability.”  He added, “And that’s where I think the verdict is ‘guilty’ on WikiLeaks. They have put this out without any regard whatsoever for the consequences.”

This was, of course, the same Robert Gates who pushed for escalation in Afghanistan in 2009 and, in March 2011, flew to the Kingdom of Bahrain to offer his own personal “reassurance of support” to a ruling monarchy already busy shooting and torturing nonviolent civilian protesters.  So again, when it comes to blood and indifference to consequences, Bradley Manning — or Robert Gates?

Nor have such attitudes been confined to the military. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Manning’s (alleged) leak of 250,000 diplomatic cables of being “an attack on the international community” that “puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.”

As a senator, of course, she supported the invasion of Iraq in flagrant contravention of the U.N. Charter.  She was subsequently a leading hawkwhen it came to escalating and expanding the Afghan War, and is now responsible for disbursing an annual $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt’s ruling junta whose forces have repeatedly opened fire on nonviolent civilian protesters.  So who’s been attacking the international community and putting lives in danger, Bradley Manning — or Hillary Clinton?

Harold Koh, former Yale Law School dean, liberal lion, and currently the State Department’s top legal adviser, has announced that the same leaked diplomatic cables “could place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals — from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers to soldiers to individuals providing information to further peace and security.”

This is the same Harold Koh who, in March 2010, provided a tortured legal rationale for the Obama administration’s drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, despite the inevitable and well-documented civilian casualties they cause.  So who is risking the lives of countless innocent individuals, Bradley Manning — or Harold Koh?

Much of the media have clambered aboard the bandwagon, blaming WikiLeaks and Manning for damage done by wars they once energetically cheered on.

In early 2011, to pick just one example from the ranks of journalism, New Yorker writer George Packerprofessed his horror that WikiLeaks had released a memo marked “secret/noforn” listing spots throughout the world of vital strategic or economic interest to the United States.  Asked by radio host Brian Lehrer whether this disclosure had crossed a new line by making a gratuitous gift to terrorists, Packer replied with an appalled yes.

Now, among the “secrets” contained in this document are the facts that the Strait of Gibraltar is a vital shipping lane and that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in minerals. Have we Americans become so infantilized that factoids of basic geography must be considered state secrets?  (Maybe best not to answer that question.)  The “threat” of this document’s release has since been roundly debunkedby various military intellectuals.

Nevertheless, Packer’s response was instructive.  Here was a typical liberal hawk, who had can-canned to the post-9/11 drumbeat of war as a therapeutic wake-up call from “the bland comforts of peace,” now affronted by WikiLeaks’ supposed recklessness.  Civilian casualties do not seem to have been on Packer’s mind when he supported the invasion of Iraq, nor has he written much about them since.

In an enthusiastic 2006 New Yorker essay on counterinsurgency warfare, for example, the very words “civilian casualties” never come up, despite their centrality to COIN theory, practice, and history.  It is a fact that, as Operation Enduring Freedom shifted to counterinsurgency tactics in 2009, civilian casualties in Afghanistan skyrocketed.  So, for that matter, have American military casualties.  (More than half of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan occurred in the past three years.)

Liberal hawks like Packer may consider WikiLeaks out of bounds, but really, who in these last years has been the most reckless, Bradley Manning — or George Packer and some of his pro-war colleagues at theNew Yorker like Jeffrey Goldberg (who has since left for the Atlantic Monthly, where he’s been busilyclearing a path for war with Iran) and editor David Remnick?

Centrist and liberal nonprofit think tanks have been no less selectively blind when it comes to civilian carnage. Liza Goitein, a lawyer at the liberal-minded Brennan Center at NYU Law School, has also taken out after Bradley Manning.  In the midst of an otherwise deft diagnosis of Washington’s compulsive urge to over-classify everything — the federal government classifies an amazing 77 million documents a year — she pauses just long enough to accuse Manning of “criminal recklessness” for putting civilians named in the Afghan War logs in peril — “a disclosure,” as she puts it, “that surely endangers their safety.”

It’s worth noting that, until the moment Goitein made this charge, not a single report or press release issued by the Brennan Center has ever so much as uttered a mention of civilian casualties caused by the U.S. military.  The absence of civilian casualties is almost palpable in the work of the Brennan Center’s program in  “Liberty and National Security.”  For example, this program’s 2011 report “Rethinking Radicalization,” which explored effective, lawful ways to prevent American Muslims from turning terrorist, makes not a single reference to the tens of thousands of well-documented civilian casualties caused by American military force in the Muslim world, which according to many scholars is the prime mover of terrorist blowback.  The report on how to combat the threat of Muslim terrorists, written by Pakistan-born Faiza Patel, does not, in fact, even contain the words “Iraq,” “Afghanistan,” “drone strike,” “Pakistan” or “civilian casualties.”

This is almost incredible, because terrorists themselves have freely confessed that what motivated their acts of wanton violence has been the damage done by foreign military occupation back home or simply in the Muslim world.  Asked by a federal judge why he tried to blow up Times Square with a car bomb in May 2010, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad answered that he was motivated by the civilian carnage the U.S. had caused in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  How could any report about “rethinking radicalization” fail to mention this?  Although the Brennan Center does much valuable work, Goitein’s selective finger-pointing on civilian casualties is emblematic of a blindness to war’s consequences widespread among American institutions.

American Military Whistleblowers

Knowledge may indeed have its risks, but how many civilian deaths can actually be traced to the WikiLeaks revelations?  How many military deaths?  To the best of anyone’s knowledge, not a single one.  After much huffing and puffing, the Pentagon has quietly denied — and then denied again — that there is any evidence at all of the Taliban targeting the Afghan civilians named in the leaked war logs.

In the end, the “grave risks” involved in the publication of the War Logs and of those State Department documents have been wildly exaggerated.  Embarrassment, yes.  A look inside two grim wars and the workings of imperial diplomacy, yes.  Blood, no.

On the other hand, the grave risks that were hidden in those leaked documents, as well as in all the other government distortions, cover-ups, and lies of the past decade, have been graphically illustrated in aortal red.  The civilian carnage caused by our rush to war in Iraq and by our deeply entrenched stalemate of a war in Afghanistan (and the Pakistani tribal borderlands) is not speculative or theoretical but all-too real.

And yet no one anywhere has been held to much account: not in the political class, not in the military, not in the think tanks, not among the scholars, nor the media.  Only one individual, it seems, will pay, even if he actually spilled none of the blood.  Our foreign policy elites seem to think Bradley Manning is well-cast for the role of fall guy and scapegoat.  This is an injustice.

Someday, it will be clearer to Americans that Pfc. Manning has joined the ranks of great American military whistleblowers like Dan Ellsberg (who was first in his class at Marine officer training school); Vietnam War infantryman Ron Ridenhour, who blew the whistle on the My Lai massacre; and the sailors and marines who, in 1777, reported the torture of British captives by their politically connected commanding officer.  These servicemen, too, were vilified in their times. Today, we honor them, as someday Pfc. Manning will be honored.

Chase Madar is the author of The Passion of Bradley Manning, to be published by OR Books in February.  He is an attorney in New York, a TomDispatch regular, and a frequent contributor to theLondon Review of BooksLe Monde DiplomatiqueAmerican Conservative Magazine, andCounterPunch.  (To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Madar discusses the coming trial of Bradley Manning, click here, or download it to your iPod here.) He tweets @ChMadar.

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Almost Gone by Graham Nash and James Raymond

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These Things Should Bother You!

Warning the video below contains Offensive language. Offensive images and, perhaps, offensive Ideas. Do Not Watch if you Do not want to be offended.

However, if you want to be challenged and want to learn to think for yourself go ahead and watch but beware-You may not be the same afterwards.  Pleas don’t give me a bunch of drivel about conspiracy theories and crazy people who believe this stuff since I is one of them and I think you are crazy if you don’t believe your government is out to get you. I am not going to argue the point since it does no good to argue with those who are mentally deluded (you).

Have a Good Day :()

Thanks to Joe Rogan: War Machine 


Jackie O., A “Conspiracy Nut”?

By Chuck Baldwin
August 27, 2011

Archived column:
http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/home/?p=3869

Tapes that were recorded within months of President John F.
Kennedy’s assassination and that have been sealed in a vault at the
Kennedy Library in Boston are soon to be released. In the tapes,
former First Lady Jackie Kennedy reveals that she believed Vice
President Lyndon Baines Johnson and other influential individuals
orchestrated the Dallas shooting that killed her husband.

Jackie went on to marry Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, of
course. Mrs. Kennedy had ordered that the tapes should not be released
until 50 years after her death. She died 17 years ago from cancer at
the age of 64. Now, her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, has agreed to
release the recordings early. According to press reports, the tapes
will be aired by ABC and by British broadcasters as well. The tapes
are also said to reveal illicit affairs by both President Kennedy and
Jackie.

According to DailyMail, “Jackie Onassis believed that Lyndon B.
Johnson and a cabal of Texas tycoons were involved in the
assassination of her husband John F. Kennedy, ‘explosive’
recordings are set to reveal.

“The secret tapes will show that the former first lady felt that
her husband’s successor was at the heart of the plot to murder him.

“She became convinced that the then vice president, along with
businessmen in the South, had orchestrated the Dallas shooting, with
gunman Lee Harvey Oswald-long claimed to have been a lone
assassin–merely part of a much larger conspiracy.”

See the DailyMail report at:

http://tinyurl.com/3ovu7z4

So, now I suppose we can add Jackie-Kennedy-Onassis to the list of
“conspiracy nuts.” Right? Isn’t that what anyone is called who
believes that the federal government hides the truth about what
happens and conjures up a convenient “official” story to sell to
the American people? Isn’t that what the media calls anyone who
dares to question any “official” report? Isn’t that what Glenn
Beck calls them? Isn’t that what Joe Scarborough calls them? Isn’t
that what Bill O’Reilly calls them? Isn’t that what Rush Limbaugh
calls them? They are “conspiracy nuts.” Right? I wonder if we will
now hear any of these talking heads call Jackie Onassis a
“conspiracy nut”?

And since we are talking about conspiracies, I want to go ahead and
just say up front: I believe that anyone who thinks that there are no
conspiracies that many times involve people and agencies at the
highest levels of government and business is downright simple minded,
willingly ignorant, incredibly naïve, or has a personal, vested
reason to remain clueless.

The John F. Kennedy Assassination

Is there really anyone reading this column who actually believes the
“official” story that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President
Kennedy in the manner in which he is purportedly to have done it: all
by himself? Get real! Now we know that even Jackie Kennedy, who was in
the limo when her husband was killed, didn’t believe it!

I further believe that the assassination of John Kennedy was a major
turning point in US history. It was at this point that a criminal
cabal wrested control of the federal government from the hands of
“We the People” and turned it into a giant mafia. I don’t
believe the people and their representatives in Washington, D.C., have
had much to do with their federal government (especially at the
executive level) ever since.

TWA Flight 800 “Explosion”

While we are talking about conspiracies, let’s just go ahead a
mention a few more. Do you really believe the “official” story of
the crash of TWA flight 800 in 1996? What if an American missile
accidentally shot down that jetliner? Do you really think the federal
government would come clean about it?

Read this report from The Washington Weekly, if you are willing to be
enlightened:

http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/twa.html

Oklahoma City Bombing

Do readers really believe the “official” story that Timothy
McVeigh acted alone in igniting the explosion that took down the
Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and that there was
no cover-up as to what actually happened? I don’t.

Here are a couple places to get started on this one:

http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/bomb.html

And:

http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/key.html

9/11 Twin Towers and Pentagon Attacks

There has been so much written on this subject, I will let readers
fend for themselves as to personal research on the matter. Without
wading too deeply into this discussion (and for the sake of column
space), let me ask just one simple question. Pray tell, what took down
Building 7? To this good hour, I have not heard one single plausible
explanation proffered by any government or media representative that
explains why Building 7 collapsed.

Do I believe that the government is purposefully keeping the American
people in the dark as to what really happened on 9/11/01? You bet I
do! Do I believe that there is a cover-up of crucial evidence related
to 9/11 by both the federal government and the national news media?
You bet I do!

Haiti Earthquake

Another event that the “official” version is just completely
unbelievable to me is the earthquake in Haiti in January of last year.
I will always believe that there was so much to this story that we
were not being told. It didn’t “smell” right to me when it
happened; it doesn’t “smell” right to me now. If you’re
interested, try perusing through some of this information:

http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/home/?page_id=855

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syrian Wars

Let me round out my personal list of conspiracies with all the wars
America is waging in the Middle East. I believe virtually every reason
George W. Bush gave the American people for attacking and invading
Iraq was a premeditated, bald-faced lie! I believe the so-called
“war on terror” (and the “war on drugs,” for that matter) that
justifies endless wars abroad and endless surveillance at home is
completely manufactured by those in government and business for
personal economic and political interests.

In fact, if you really want to get sick to your stomach over what
this so-called “war on terror” is accomplishing, take a look at
this report:

http://tinyurl.com/3wzo9mn

So, nearly 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated,
we now learn that First Lady Jackie Kennedy believed that there was a
conspiracy to kill her husband and that Lyndon Johnson was neck-deep
in it. I wonder what future generations will learn about many of these
other “official” stories of the federal government that just
didn’t add up?

And wouldn’t it be nice if the national news media were actually
honest and interested in the truth and would do their jobs to inform
the American people as to what is truly going on in their federal
government? Of course, if they did, the American people would probably
tar and feather the whole bunch and start all over! Hmm. Sounds kind
of inviting, doesn’t it? I bet Jackie would agree.

P.S. If readers are still skeptical of how many “conspiracy
theories” are, in reality, “conspiracy facts,” I urge you to
read this enlightening column:

http://tinyurl.com/3swqcka

*If you appreciate this column and want to help me distribute these
editorial opinions to an ever-growing audience, donations may now be
made by credit card, check, or Money Order. Use this link:

http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/home/?page_id=19

Chuck Baldwin

NOTE TO THE READER:

Chuck Baldwin is a syndicated columnist, radio broadcaster, author, and
pastor dedicated to preserving the historic principles upon which America
was founded. He was the 2008 Presidential candidate for the Constitution
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How To Win An Election

Mises Daily: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 by 

[An MP3 audio file of this article, read by Steven Ng, is available for download.]

In his superb analysis of democracy, Hans-Hermann Hoppe observes that “prime ministers and presidents are selected for their proven efficiency as morally uninhibited demagogues. Thus, democracy virtually assures that only bad and dangerous men will ever rise to the top of government.”[1] Those who seek political office appear to be eager to break the moral code that most of us are willing to follow. The greater the power of the political office that a candidate is seeking, the more likely it is that that individual has no sense of right and wrong.

At the local level, we sometimes find elected officials that we respect, but at the federal level, such candidates are few and far between. With few exceptions, Congressman Ron Paul comes to mind, it seems that the minimum requirement to be a viable congressional or presidential candidate is the ability to exploit others.[2]

George W. Bush is a prime example of candidates’ apparent willingness to be unscrupulous in order to acquire and wield political power. The deceit of his administration during his eight years of reign was readily apparent to unbiased observers, and we see the same characteristics in the Barack Obama administration.

Questions arise from the preceding observation: Why are scoundrels successful in the political arena? Even if we recognize that morally corrupt individuals will seek to rule over others,[3] why do voters support such candidates? Would we not expect people to vote for morally upright candidates? Do corrupt candidates have an advantage over candidates with integrity?

This essay attempts to answer these questions and explain why moral corruption tends to be a characteristic of successful political candidates. Applying economic analysis to political decision making provides us with conclusions regarding the necessary attributes of winning political candidates.

The Nature of an Election

Understanding the nature of an election is the first step in winning an election. Let’s begin by comparing an election to private-sector decisions. Think about how consumers make their daily purchases. A consumer will go to Walmart, grab a shopping cart, and fill the cart with items that he wants and is willing to pay for. There’s nothing in the cart that the consumer does not want and every item is worth more to the buyer than its price.

Such purchases represent market democracy in action. As Ludwig von Mises explained, in a market economy,

the lord of production is the consumer. From this point of view the capitalist society is a democracy in which every penny represents a ballot paper. It is a democracy with an imperative and immediately revocable mandate to its deputies.[4]

In a market, each consumer decides exactly what he wants to buy; he votes every time he purchases goods and services.

In a market democracy, voting is registered by spending money. You can have a blue shirt by voting for the blue shirt with your money. In other words, your vote matters. Each consumer chooses the goods that he wants and he ends up with nothing that he would rather not have.

Also, everybody gets to have a different cart. Some buyers leave with carts full of costly goods, while others walk out with only a few items. You buy the blue shirt, another buyer purchases a red shirt, and I decide to not buy a shirt. The fact that you want a blue shirt does no harm to me. This is an important point. In market democracy, there is no reason for consumers’ disagreements to lead to conflict. Each consumer may vote differently, but one consumer’s purchase of a shopping cart of goods does not compel other consumers to take home the same set of goods.

Finally, each consumer has an incentive to be informed to some degree about his purchases. Because acquiring information about products allows one to make better decisions, buyers take time to know something about these products. This is especially true for expensive items. For items that are a large part of a consumer’s budget, it’s worth the effort to research the available options. One is rewarded for finding high quality items at relatively low prices.

Things are quite different in a political democracy. Choosing between two candidates is analogous going to Walmart and being presented with two shopping carts already filled with items. Everyone will leave the store with the same cart of goods. Each cart contains products that a person may want and products that one wouldn’t choose to have, but the voter is not able to take anything out of either cart.

This demonstrates the concept of bundled choices in political decision making. The carts represent candidates and the products are the political positions of those candidates. The candidates might support policies that a particular citizen favors, but that individual won’t agree with everything a candidate stands for. In private decisions, one chooses only the items he wants, since the choices are not bundled, but in political decisions, you don’t have this option. If you support a candidate, you realize that you are accepting a bundled choice that includes some policies that you do not favor.

Also, for reasons that will be explained later, the two carts are very similar. They contain many of the same items, the items that are different are still similar (e.g., both carts contain a shirt — one red and one blue), and the two carts cost about the same amount. In addition, each taxpayer will end up paying for one of the carts even though he wouldn’t voluntarily purchase this basket of items.

We see here the conflict present in political decisions. You want a blue shirt, someone else wants a red shirt, and I don’t want a shirt. Your wishes conflict with mine. In order for you to be satisfied, you support policies that are harmful to me. We don’t see this type of conflict in market democracy.

Returning to the Walmart shopping cart analogy, when you are presented with the two carts, you are allowed to vote on which cart you want. However, you vote infrequently, say, once every four years, and your vote doesn’t matter. You will end up with the same cart regardless of your vote. In fact, even if you don’t vote, this will not affect the bundle that you receive in your cart.

It’s the same way in any major election. The chance of any single vote changing the outcome of an election is remote. Therefore, voters have little incentive to be informed about the items in the two carts. Going to the effort of learning about the two carts generates few rewards. Even being fully informed about the items in the carts will not change anything, since any individual vote will not change the outcome of the election.

Finally, even though the voters are promised a particular set of goods in the shopping cart that won the election, that doesn’t mean that the voters will receive that set of goods. The candidate could promise to deliver a specific set of policies, but after the election, the office holder is free to deliver a different set of policies to the voters, either because the candidate changed his position on some issues or because he was being deceitful during the campaign in order to gain political support.

The point, so far, is that in an election voters are faced with bundled choices, they vote infrequently, no individual’s vote will affect the election, voters have little incentive to be highly informed about the candidates’ policy positions, and the winning candidate is not obliged to deliver on his promises. Candidates who understand these simple facts about an election will have an advantage over political opponents who do not understand the nature of elections.

Realizing this, candidates need to make two important decisions. First, a candidate must consider which bundle of policies will give him the best chance of winning the election, and second, a candidate must devise a strategy that will give his supporters an incentive to vote in spite of the fact that no individual vote matters. I will consider these two issues in order.

Which Political Bundle Will Win the Election?

Consider a spectrum of possible political positions. There are extremists, such as libertarians and Marxists, at the edges of the spectrum. Most voters are not at these extremes of the spectrum. Many voters tend to have somewhat similar views and they are in what we might call the center of the spectrum. I realize that one might argue that the bulk of voters are nearer to one edge of the spectrum than other edges, but my point is that there is a centrist position in this spectrum and voters tend to be clustered in this region of the spectrum.

In order to win the election, a candidate needs to appeal to this center position. If candidate D takes a position much to the left of center and candidate R takes a position just slightly to the right of candidate D, then R will probably win the election. Similarly, if candidate R takes a right-of-center position, candidate D can win the election by taking a position slightly to the left of R. Therefore, in order to win the election, each candidate wants to appeal to the center of the political spectrum.

The analysis above is a watered down version of the median-voter theorem. Candidates of both parties need to get the support of the middle-of-the-road voter, the “median” voter.[5] This conclusion has some important implications.

First of all, since both candidates are trying to appeal to the median voter, we should expect the candidates to hold similar positions. The last two presidential administrations demonstrate this point. Even though they represent different political parties, many of the foreign-policy and financial advisors of the Bush administration would be comfortable in the Obama administration and in some cases the same individuals are in both administrations. Bush and Obama both support the welfare state and the military empire. They both have proposed budgets greatly expanding the budgetary size and legal reach of our federal government.

Federal debt nearly doubled during Bush’s reign and it appears that it may double again under Obama. Both presidents supported massive healthcare bills that increased federal spending and federal control over the healthcare industry. And, importantly, both presidents support loose monetary policies and the Federal Reserve system, the primary cause of the current economic crisis.[6]

Second, we should expect many voters to be unhappy with the outcome of the election. Those who agree with the political preferences of the median voter may be satisfied with the winning candidate’s positions, but many voters hold positions that are considerably different than the centrist position and will find little comfort in the political positions of the winning candidate.

Third, the need to appeal to the center of the political spectrum creates a dilemma for the candidates. In order to gain political power in our system, a candidate must win two elections, the primary election and the general election. The difficulty for a candidate is that he needs to appeal to a different set of voters in each election. In order to win the primary election, a candidate must attract the median voter of his party’s primary voters. Then the candidate must change his position to gain the support of the median voter in the general election.

In our common political language, the Republican needs to take a right-wing position in the primary and then move to the center for the general election. The Democrat makes a similar change from a left-wing position to a centrist position.

There are at least two keys for a candidate to change his position and still hold his political support. First, a candidate needs to appeal to his base during the primary election, without taking firm positions. At this point, he needs to avoid being too specific. He wants to be able to change his position while at the same time denying that any such change occurred. After the primary, he can swing to the middle of the road.

Each candidate knows that he is changing his positions, but he also knows that the other candidate is acting in a similar manner. The winning strategy here is to be the first to accuse your opponent of flip-flopping, and point to his obvious change of heart, while all the time maintaining that you haven’t changed your position at all. The goal is to shine the spotlight on your opponent’s deceptiveness and assert that you are a straight talker who never waivers in his convictions, all the while ignoring the fact that the only convictions most candidates have is the willingness to do anything to acquire political power. Such deceptiveness pays off for reasons that will be explained later.

Next, we must consider which bundle of political positions will appeal to the center of the political spectrum. The obvious conclusion is that a candidate needs to pick a bundle that contains positions that reward his followers for their support.

Voters will support a candidate who will give them political favors. Various groups are willing to lobby government officials — economists call this lobbying rent seeking — to gain these benefits. Think of it as an exchange. Groups are willing to provide money and political support to candidates and in return candidates transfer wealth to these groups.

A candidate can buy votes by providing concentrated benefits to special-interest groups. These favors can take the form of transfer payments, where the state simply takes money from some people and gives it to others, or some market intervention such as price supports for agricultural products or various protectionist policies. The main budgetary task of the federal government is to hand out these political favors, as the bulk of federal spending is made up of transfer payments. On top of this spending, laws and regulations tend to be aimed at benefitting the politically favored classes.

The downside of handing out favors in exchange for political support is that someone has to pay for these policies. The trick, politically, is to gain support by providing concentrated benefits to various groups while losing a minimal amount of support from those who are harmed by the policies.

Therefore, it’s important to disperse the costs of government largesse. If you take $10 apiece from 10 million people, these victims will have little incentive to oppose this policy. Few would find it worth their time to lobby against a policy that only costs a person $10. However, if you take this $100 million and offer $100,000 to each of 1,000 people, then this group will find it profitable to organize a political action committee and give you votes and cash. In order to get other people’s money, the favored group will be willing to organize, hire lobbyists, send campaign contributions to the appropriate officials, and campaign for the candidate that has organized this wealth transfer.

In addition to dispersing the costs of government programs, it’s also sometimes possible to hide the costs from the taxpayers. For example, few workers understand the tax burden of the Social Security system. On their paychecks, workers see that 6.2 percent of their gross pay is taken from them to pay for Social Security. What they don’t see is that employers match this tax payment with an equal additional payment. It seems that employers are paying half of the Social Security taxes. That’s not the case. Even though the employers are legally liable for the tax, they shift the tax on to workers in the form of lower wages. The Social Security tax burden, 12.4 percent of each worker’s gross pay, falls on workers. This is just one of the many ways that politicos hide the costs of government policies.

When running for office, it’s important to emphasize the benefits of the wealth transfers to the recipients of the transfers and ignore the costs to the victims of the policies. Henry Hazlitt explained that the “art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”[7] Hazlitt illustrated this idea by considering a broken window. Breaking the window creates a job for the glazier, an immediate effect, but repairing the window reduces spending in other sectors of the economy. The long-run effects include the negative effects on the workers in these sectors.

A key to winning an election is to reverse Hazlitt’s wisdom. The art of political campaigning is to look only at the immediate effects for one group, the group that benefits from the policy in question, and ignore the negative effects on other groups. By ignoring the overall effects of a policy, candidates can support destructive policies that harm social welfare. We saw an obvious example of this broken-window fallacy in the 2009 “cash for clunkers” program, when the Obama administration made the ridiculous claim that destroying 700,000 cars in the United States would help our economy. Elected officials have turned the famous broken-window fallacy into the broken-window excuse for handing out political favors.

Candidates know how to play this game. Therefore, they all tend to favor increased government spending, more burdensome regulations, and additional central planning. The country is headed down the road towards totalitarian socialism[8] and the Democratic and Republican candidates are arguing about how fast we should drive the car.

So, in order to gain political support, a candidate needs to cater to special interests by supporting policies with concentrated benefits and dispersed costs, and, to the degree possible, he must hide the costs of the policies. The lesson here is that a candidate that respects private property is at a disadvantage and is likely to lose the election. A willingness to take others’ property — in everyday life we would call this thievery — is critical to gaining political power.

Your Vote Doesn’t Matter

Once a candidate has bribed voters for their support, he next needs to find a way to get his supporters to vote, all the while recognizing that individual votes will have no effect on the election. The odds of a single vote changing the outcome of an election are about 1/N, where N is the number of voters in the election. Roughly 130 million people voted in the 2008 presidential election, so the chance of a single vote making a difference was, roughly speaking, less than one millionth of one percent.[9]

A lot of potential voters, however, can be convinced that their vote will make a difference. In order to win support, candidates stress that each vote does matter. They claim that the election hinges on every single vote and that the upcoming election is always the most important election in a lifetime. Since voting is infrequent, voters will have forgotten that the last election was also the most important election ever.

Linking voting to patriotism or claiming that practicing democracy is equivalent to living in a free country are also successful tactics. Of course, such statements are false, but many people still fall for these claims. It helps that the government schools reinforce these ideas and teach students that it’s their civic duty to vote. After 12 years of hearing this propaganda, many people will accept this position. History shows that this works.

What Role Does Deceptiveness Play in an Election?

The analysis above leads us to the conclusion that candidates will engage in deception. A major problem with supporting policies that have concentrated benefits and dispersed costs is that such policies are not in the public’s interest. Militarism, price controls, protectionist policies, transfer payments, and socializing various industries impoverish the country. When candidates use these schemes to get elected, they generally hide the fact that their proposals harm the country. Instead of being truthful, candidates claim that the destructive policies are good for society. Of course, these policies centralize political power and are therefore good for those closely associated with the state, but the candidates are lying when they claim that the programs generate net benefits to the overall country. Consider a few of the fallacious claims that we should expect to hear from those running for political office:

For instance, a candidate will never claim that his main goal is to acquire political power so that he can enrich himself. He will use pet phrases that hide the true nature of his policies. No matter what policy he is defending, he may claim that the program is “for the children,” or that it will “strengthen the family.” Other possibilities include asserting that the policies will “grow the economy” or “help the environment.” In the current political atmosphere, saying that you are “fighting terrorism” will blind many people to your actual intent. The point is that simple platitudes will fool many people.

Asserting that your positions will help the country works particularly well if you are an incumbent. During time in office, whenever there is good news, an incumbent will claim that his policies created the good news. If the unemployment rate drops, we will hear him claim that this is his doing. The claim that event A (some government policy) preceded event B (some positive outcome) and therefore event A must have caused event B is the post hoc fallacy. Most people will not recognize this as a fallacy, however, so office holders can get away with this sleight of hand.

For those that are skeptical of your claims, it may be necessary to have some “experts,” bought and paid for by the government, back up your claims. Many economists and other academics seek to work for the government and they see that it’s in their interest to draw conclusions that fit the positions of elected officials in order to be rewarded with money and power. Such experts gain fame and riches and elected officials gain by being able to assert that authorities support their policies. Only the public loses out in this game.

As mentioned before, another complication of gaining political office is that you often need to win two elections, a primary election and then a general election. The problem here is the need to appeal to the voters in a particular political party for the primary election and to the general population for the general election. This may require the candidate to switch positions. The set of bundled choices that will win the primary election may be different than the political positions that will win the general election. Candidates will therefore be vague and try to avoid specifics in the primary election.

Another lie we hear is candidates’ assertion that (even though they would take similar positions when in office) there are major differences between them. Each will claim that their policies will lead to prosperity and security, and that their opponent’s positions will result in impoverishment and ruin. Convincing supporters that there is a major difference between the candidates will make it more likely that they will vote. A candidate needs to continually push his supporters to go to the polls.

A common tactic for gaining support is fear mongering. Fear often trumps logic. Voters can be scared into believing that there will be dire consequences if their candidate loses the election. A candidate can appeal to his followers by claiming that if the other candidate wins the election we will be attacked by terrorists, or our taxes will be raised, or we may lose our jobs, or our children will not get a good education, or we will run out of oil, or we may not get adequate health care, or the environment will be destroyed. While some of these claims may be correct, they are true regardless of which candidate wins the election, because either winning candidate will implement policies that will do us much harm. In making to make such claims, candidates rely on the fact that voters will not recognize that the candidates largely agree on the major issues regarding government policy.

Voting is another area where candidates lie. Candidates, or their handlers, know that individual votes do not matter. Yet these same candidates continually encourage their supporters to vote by alleging that each vote could make a difference.

This long list of deceptions leads us to another important lesson. A candidate that is averse to being deceitful is at a disadvantage and is likely to lose the election. Successful candidates tend to be liars.

Won’t people generally discover that elected officials and candidates for elected office lie? Probably not, since most people are rationally ignorant. In other words, it’s not worth it to most people to be well-informed about political issues.

Consider again the shopping-cart analogy. For most people, the cost of understanding the political bundle in the cart is higher than the benefits of gaining this knowledge. Even if a voter has perfect knowledge about the candidates, his individual vote will not have any bearing on the election. Therefore, most voters have little incentive to be informed. It’s rational to be ignorant about the details of candidates’ positions and government policies, and ignorant voters may fail to recognize the candidates’ lies.

Conclusion

This essay considered the question: why are scoundrels successful in the political arena? Analyzing the nature of an election provides us with an answer. In order to win an election, candidates need to offer their supporters other people’s wealth, and candidates must convince their supporters to vote in spite of the fact that individual votes will not affect the election. Accomplishing these two goals requires deception. Therefore, candidates who are willing to violate property rights — to steal — and be deceptive have an advantage over candidates with stronger moral convictions. So of course elected officials are corrupt. Candidates with moral integrity are at a severe disadvantage in the political sphere. Do not put your hope in political solutions.

Mark Brandly is a professor of economics at Ferris State University and an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Send him mail. See Mark Brandly’s article archives.

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Notes

[1] Hans-Hermann Hoppe. 2001. Democracy: The God That Failed. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, p. 88. If the reader is interested in a comprehensive analysis of democratic institutions, this is the book to read.

[2] For an Austrian view of class analysis and exploitation theory, see Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s “Marxist and Austrian Class Analysis.”Download PDF

[3] Friedrich A. Hayek provides a wonderful explanation of this point in “Why the Worst Get on Top,” chapter 10 of The Road to Serfdom.

[4] Ludwig von Mises. 1981. Socialism:An Economic and Sociological Analysis. Indianapolis, Liberty Classics, p.400.

[5] Agents of the state have monopolistic advantages that allow them to support policies at the expense of voters in general, and some may argue that elected officials can ignore voters’ preferences, even the preferences of the median voter. This argument has merit. For this reason, strictly speaking, the median-voter theorem is flawed. However, I am arguing that candidates, during an election, must appear to cater to voters’ wants in general, and specifically to the voters that are clustered in the political center. Once in office, political officials may ignore voters’ preferences. The system protects the officeholders from political repercussions when the officeholders support policies opposed by the majority of voters.

[6] For an explanation of the Federal Reserve’s role in causing the ongoing economic crisis, see Tom Woods’Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse.

[7] Henry Hazlitt. 1979. Economics in One Lesson. New York, Crown Trade Paperbacks, p.17.

[8] For more analysis of our move to a socialized economy, see Tom Woods’ Back on the Road to Serfdom: The Resurgence of Statism.

[9] See Cecil E. Bohannon and T. Normal Van Cott’s “Now More Than Ever, Your Vote Doesn’t Matter” for an explanation of the point that a single vote is unlikely to affect the outcome of an election with many voters.Download PDF

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The History of America You Probably Have Never Heard

Very interesting critique of what sounds like an even more interesting book. One Does not need to agree with everything to appreciate the events and people who have tried to maintain their freedoms in spite of the numerous attempts by the state to rob them of those very freedoms. (E)

American History’s Forbidden Truths

by Anthony Gregory

Recently by Anthony Gregory: Lies Are the Health of the State

Thaddeus Russell, A Renegade History of the United States (New York: Free Press, 2010), 382 pages.

At the risk of oversimplifying, we could divide American leftist historical scholarship into two basic strains. Both have historiographical origins in progressivism and attempt to speak for the downtrodden and for the common people, to amplify the voice of those allegedly silenced by conservative institutions. But they part ways in their interpretation of where this voice is to be found.

For the more boring, dominant and conventional leftists, the savior of mankind, the equalizer of social disparities, is in formal leftist institutions – unions, left-leaning political parties, mass political movements directed by great leaders who sought to integrate minorities into mainstream culture, and especially the federal government. Thus Lincoln addressed America’s original sin of slavery; Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, while imperfect, took working conditions seriously; the suffragettes and official Civil Rights movement are history’s great engines of political, racial and gender equality – a yet-to-be-won battle, but a much fairer fight thanks to marches on Washington and federal legislation. Franklin Roosevelt, despite some flaws, gave “economic democracy” a real chance for once. The Great Society brought the United States a step closer to the bare standard of modern civilization, to be found in the administration of democratic socialism. Obama represents the last of this narrative, which is why even most antiwar leftist intellectuals can’t bring themselves to despise him as they did George W. Bush.

But then there is the more interesting, the less typical, and the more illuminating strain of American leftist scholarship – the tradition that goes back to progressives who had some classical liberal impulses, like Henry Elmer Barnes, and that came of age in the 1960s through such refreshing New Leftist historians as Gabriel Kolko. While he dabbled in both schools of thought, the late Howard Zinn, venerated hero of college and high school students nationwide, was, at his best, an example of this more radical interpretive impulse: to see large institutions, especially the state and most particularly its warfare organs, as enemies of the common good. Militarism and imperialism should not be given a free pass, even if sold in the name of globalizing human rights. Economic regulation should be seen, not as egalitarian blessings, but more often as tools of the corporate establishment to consolidate its own power. Just as important, in the realm of cultural history, progress is not made for the disenfranchised mainly by unions, bureaucracies, do-gooder social workers and agitators, much less the federal government – but by individuals themselves, working within their communities, defending their rights, asserting their dignity, pursuing their interests, and creating alternative networks of economic and social progress that lie outside of Washington’s accepted avenues. This is a tradition of leftist scholarship that is most fascinating, and certainly of most use to those of us who aim to defend individual liberty.

In our time, no historian better encapsulates this interpretive radicalism than Thaddeus Russell. His A Renegade History of the United States is gold. It is provocative, idiosyncratic and iconoclastic. It does not balk at violating the gospels of political correctness, even as it shatters every conservative myth of American history that rightwing authors, seeing themselves as rebels against left-liberal academia, cling to. While libertarians might find some or even much disagreeable, they cannot help but walk away from this book with a somewhat different outlook on history.

The Founding Fathers are the first official heroes targeted, appropriate in both chronological terms and in considering the civic mythology of the United States. And so who were the true heroes? According to Russell, it was the rabble. John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Sam Adams, John Jay and the rest of them looked upon the common American people, populating Philadelphia where they were holding their conspiratorial meetings, as “vicious,” “vile” and otherwise unsavory folk. “But what the Founding Fathers called corruption, depravity, viciousness, and vice, many of us would call freedom” (p. 3–4).

Indeed, “On nearly every block in every eighteenth-century American city, there was a public place where one could drink, sing, dance, have sex, argue politics, gamble, play games, or generally carouse with men, women, children, whites, blacks, Indians, the rich, the poor, and the middling. The Founding Fathers were keenly, painfully aware of this” (p. 5). Places of inebriation were especially progressive in their social politics. “Lower-class taverns were the first racially integrated public spaces in America” (p. 9). But despite these virtues, the Founders saw such freedom as the enemy. “There was virtually no moral or legal proscription against drinking until after the War of Independence” (p. 7) but fuddy-duddies like Ben Franklin were unhappy with this libertarian status quo: “During the Sugar Act crisis, [he] and other prominent Pennsylvanians repeatedly and fruitlessly petitioned the colonial government to take action against taverns and drinking” (p. 25). These prohibitionist gestures were but the beginning, for the respectable classes continued to push for temperance, many of them hoping the war would force it upon the people. “In 1784, Benjamin Rush, America’s founding doctor, published An Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors, which became one of the most important of the Founding Fathers’ many antipleasure manifestos during the early national period” (p. 30). This founding generation’s movement lasted throughout the 19th century and eventually culminated in the authoritarian and disastrous 18th Amendment.

But is it an exaggeration to call the drunken American people the real heroes? “As we already know, the first violence in the conflict occurred in Boston in 1770, when drunkards, ruffians, and gamblers tumbled out of taverns to curse, throw rubbish and horse manure, and assault British soldiers” (p. 26). Today’s conservatives cheer the American patriots who sparked and fought the American Revolution. But should such a revolution happen again, who doubts they would be cheering the modern analog of the redcoats, as they subdued the crowd with teargas, batons and riot guns? Who doubts they would have sided with King George’s soldiers?

Russell notes that some of the Founders even saw commerce itself as a “bane of patriotism” (p. 29). In defending the market against confusion on the left and disingenuous defenses on the right, Russell writes:

Today, many on the conservative side of the political spectrum like to make the founders into champions of a free-market economy, while many on the left claim that they were simply the tools of the rising merchant class. Neither of these sides understands that the market economy has always been a friend of the renegades and an enemy of moral guardians (p. 37).

If by “moral guardians” we mean the hypocritical social conservatives who wish to trample liberty to maintain their vision of social order, libertarians must agree.

Did the State Save American Minorities?

If the cult of the Founding Fathers is a touchy subject for every American rightwinger, the role of government and conventional political activism as the alleged saviors of African-Americans is an issue where practically the entire American left cannot countenance rational discussion. Russell deserves special recognition for his willingness to question this sacred history.

The common story is that blacks were enslaved, mostly in the South; Lincoln freed them; but it was not until a century later (if it happened at all) that blacks began to gain true equality, and this was again thanks to the federal government and the nationalization of Civil Rights. But the true heroes of black liberation, Russell argues, have always been blacks themselves – and not typically ones in suits giving sermons and speeches, appealing to politicians and effecting legislation. It has always been the ones disenfranchised, seizing what liberty they could and declaring their dignity, who have made the most difference.

The principal way that slaves rebelled on a day-to-day basis was by minimizing how much work they did. This later became warped into an insult of black Americans for being lazy, but on the plantation, refusal to work more than was absolutely necessary, and carving out leisure time, were heroic acts of resistance.

Controversially, Russell also shows how the supposedly free American whites in the early 19th century also suffered under the lash. The cruelty of violence against slaves, while in a special category of its own, in fact shared some similarity with what “free” Americans were subjected to in early America under the criminal justice system:

Among free whites, severe physical punishment, including death, at the hands of authorities was a common occurrence. During the colonial period, not only murder and rape but also arson, adultery, buggery, and witchcraft were punishable by death. In eighteenth-century Virginia, a first conviction for hog stealing brought twenty-five lashes. . . . The third offense sent one to the gallos. In Massachusetts, first-time burglars were branded on the forehead. . . . a third offense made one. . . subject to death. All of the colonies ordered whipping, branding, and other forms of bodily mutilation for crimes such as breaking the Sabbath, petty larceny, and sedition. (p. 59)

Thus the peculiar institution of slavery, while undeniably subjecting a whole race of Americans to a perpetual state of cruelty and injustice, was not as distinct in terms of punishment and physical violence as many might suspect. So long as America has had governments – which is to say, since the Founding of the country – there has been punishment, including for non-crimes, that was on par with the punishment meted out by slaveowners. Russell astutely challenges the commonly assumed idea that private slavery is intrinsically and unquestionably more inhumane than public sector discipline.

Many who opposed the institution of slavery – although they were doubtlessly correct on this matter of unparalleled importance – “were also opponents of freedom” (p. 62). “Of particular concern to the abolitionists was the sexual freedom of slaves” (p. 63). The general worry was that slave culture bred imprudence and lasciviousness. But Russell sees slaves’ escaping from the dominant conservative values as something of a virtue in itself.

Russell even goes so far as to question the image of a slave as a completely helpless victim of his master. For example, “While no laws protected the slave from a rapist, masters and overseers had many reasons not to force themselves on enslaved women. For one, such attacks almost inevitably brought reprisals from the victims, their mates, the attacker’s wife, or the surrounding community” (p. 67). Government did virtually nothing to protect slaves, of course, but the slaves themselves fought back with what they had. As for the particularly horrendous evil of families being broken up – one of the most brutal aspects of slavery – the author finds that the number of families so disrupted “is certainly smaller than the number of free people who were forced from their homes” by such governmental cruelties as the “War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War” (p. 69). Slavery was an unspeakable evil, supported until the bitter end by the government at all levels. But even without the participation of plantation owners, the government has always been capable of such extreme crimes against humanity.

After abolition, black Americans continued to face extreme institutional and socially maintained hardships, which is regularly recognized. But Russell takes on Reconstruction itself, describing the Freedman Bureau as an agency concerned with indoctrinating freed blacks and turning them into good, hardworking citizens, as much as it was inclined toward giving them a simple hand up. One typical piece of propaganda, a story of recently emancipated slave John Freeman, has “a Yankee lieutenant” handing down the federal lesson: “You have come out from your bondage, my friends, to enjoy the blessings of freedom, and have put yourselves under the protection of the United States government. . . But, if you come to this flag for protection, you have to do service for the flag” (p. 81).

Drawing on W.E.B. DuBois, Russell writes that “slaves created a uniquely liberated culture that valued pleasure over work and freedom over conformity” (p. 99). Much of the Reconstructionist project was about stamping out that value of freedom and instituting conformity. The state was actively attempting to wipe out elements of African-American culture, many of them not just understandable or admirable, but ultimately enriching to America. “If Reconstruction had been fully realized,” Russell concludes, “many of the freedoms and joys given to us by the slaves would have been taken away. If the freedmen had been made into citizens, there would be no jazz” (p. 100).

Much later in the book, Russell grapples with the 20th Century Civil Rights movement. He characterizes it, by the chapter’s title, as at least in part being an “attack on African Americans” (p. 295). What does he mean by this? He cites condemnations of black culture by Martin Luther King, Jr., who attacked blacks for being lustful and violent and for listening to music that “plunges men’s minds into degrading and moral depths.” Many lesser known Civil Rights leaders are shown for all their puritan authoritarianism and desire to control black Americans in their voluntary behavior. Moreover, many movement leaders were whites attempting to force blacks to conform to a nationally accepted conception of citizenship and Americanism.

But black Americans had, by and large, been heroic in at least some of their refusal to abide by white cultural norms. For example, “Draft evasion as well as insubordination against commanding officers in the military remained far greater among African Americans than among whites from the two world wars through the Korean and Vietnam wars” (p. 305). This tendency to reject arbitrary and immoral authority is undeniably a positive cultural trait. This tied in to a tendency to want to defend individual and community diversity in a true sense, rather than national identity. Russell writes:

The nonviolent civil rights movement sought not just desegregation, not just access to space and to the privileges of whites, but integration, which for King and the leaders of the civil rights movement, meant the complete merger of the races. . . . But what is missing from the narratives of the desegregation of Birmingham is the majority of black people in the city, namely those who did not participate in the movement. (p. 316)

This majority was more characterized with fights against the police, in direct “defense of autonomy” and liberty – rather than integration with the nation-state’s majoritarian conception of society. Some of this violence was also directed against civilians, and not all of it was strictly justified on libertarian grounds – but much of it was, in defense of person and property. We rarely hear about this movement of anti-racist resistance, because it was directed against the establishment from below, rather than imposed above from Washington, and because it sought freedom rather than integration as a principal value.

Other ethnic minorities in America are treated with chapters in Renegade History. In each case, we learn about a white minority that at one time was more associated with blacks only later to be assimilated into American WASPish culture – the Irish, the Jews and the Italians. The Irish, one of the most persecuted of the European races in American history, are “now rarely even considered as ‘ethnics,’” although at one time they were regarded in approximately the same way blacks were. They also share with blacks an important role in developing jazz music and culture. They furthermore created dozens and dozens of slang terms and everyday words, likely including everything from “brisk,” “feud” and “swoon” all the way to “pet,” “racket” and “jackpot.”

Jews, too, were seen as ethnic outsiders, far more than today, and they used to dominate in jazz, basketball and boxing. And Italian immigrants “settled in neighborhoods in New York, Chicago, and New Orleans that were populated by African Americans, and many shared tenement buildings, workplaces, and recreational facilities with blacks” (p. 186). And of course, before their image was that of crooners, Italian-Americans were seen as the first example of modern gangsta culture. A whole chapter in Renegade History is dedicated to how Italian and Jewish gangsters benefited American society with huge contributions in bar culture, gambling and film.

Women, too, are celebrated. But, as with the other sections, we are not treated to hagiographies of the usual textbook heroines that made groundbreaking strides in politics or brought the vote to women. A controversial chapter, sure to earn the resentment of social conservatives and many feminists alike, looks at prostitution in the Wild West, a business that empowered women, often at the very top of the industry – women who became some of the richest Americans around, who undermined social controls and readily defended themselves and their property with firearms. The right to bear arms gets a consistent implicit defense throughout Renegade History.

Heroic Consumers and the Awful New Deal

Another unusual cause of celebration in a leftist historical work is commercialism, and here Russell masterfully weaves it together with women’s liberation. Taking on the Progressives of the early 20th century, and their counterparts today, the historian cheers on the boom of shopping – “the real American Revolution.” There is nothing wrong with the masses being able to consume a lot, despite what the ascetic anti-capitalists will say. “Opposition to shopping grew especially severe during World war I, when bourgeois disgust over the new working-class culture took the form of well-organized campaigns against drinking, prostitution, and venereal disease, and in the moral condemnation of working-class spending habits” (p. 214). Single women and men began to mingle as never before. Governments responded with crackdowns on subversive dance styles. Feminist leaders were often at the forefront, condemning the free-spirited women. “When feminists spoke of ‘freedom’ for women, they did not mean the freedom of desire” (p. 221).

If not for this principally female-driven consumer revolution – a revolution that spat in the face of progressives and most official feminists – “Coney Island and American amusement parks as we know them would not have existed.” Everything from modern dancing to grocery stores would have never sprung up. “The generation of working-class women who drove the American revolution of leisure and pleasure. . . broke through the common belief that women seeking pleasure in public spaces were immoral and degenerate. . . . They created the weekend. . . . Against all odds, they created American fun” (p. 228).

If Russell is willing to revere the uncommonly celebrated elements of American social development, he is equally willing to question the events that are almost always put on a pedestal. His chapters on the New Deal and World War II, in particular, demonstrate a very sharp and unusual willingness to take on the conventional wisdom.

Chapter 11 is called “‘Behold a Dictator’: Fascism and the New Deal.” The chapter is worthy of its title. In one of the best summary treatments I’ve seen on the similarities and even intimate connections between the New Deal and fascism, Russell has written a short masterpiece of radical leftist anti-statism. He does not cite the usual libertarian and Old Right authors. Nevertheless, Russell compellingly explains why it is “absurd to ignore, as all our textbooks do, the fact that the New Deal and European fascism grew from the same ideological roots, produced strikingly similar policies, and fostered national cultures that, if not identical, bore the resemblance of siblings” (p. 240).

Echoing libertarian economic historian Robert Higgs, Russell finds precedents for the New Deal in America’s World War I economic policies. But he also finds a lot of similarity between the U.S. system and that of Italy and Germany in the interwar period. The head of General Electric, Gerard Swope, wrote the first draft of the National Industrial Recovery Act, the crown jewel of the early New Deal, which “created an economic system that was virtually identical to the national economies established in Italy and Germany, and further consolidated power in the hands of the president” (p. 245). The similarities were not lost on American commentators: “George Soule, the editor of the New Republic, wrote, “We are trying out the economics of Fascism without having suffered all its social and political ravages’” (p. 243).

“But when the New Deal was created,” writes Russell, “few of its supporters in the United States were as effusive in their praise as were German and Italian Fascists.” And the commonality among the systems was clear:

The New Dealers, Mussolini, and Hitler were united in the belief that the conditions of the working class had to be greatly improved. The Fascist and Nazi regimes outlawed trade unions, but they worked hard to make factories safer, cleaner, and more pleasant workplaces, and also provided subsidized housing, low-cost vacations, and sports programs to millions of German workers. . . . The Nazis instituted a full employment program. . . . (p. 254)

But surely the similarities to not extend to areas of civil liberties? In fact, Russell shows how the New Deal was a time of increased censorship in film – through the Hays code and the near-purging of Jewish identity from Hollywood pictures throughout the 1930s – as well as governmental social control over family life. Perhaps most ominously, “racial purity was a prominent theme in New Deal culture,” which made sense given that “American eugenics and the New Deal were both progeny of the progressives. . . . [M]ore sterilizations took place during the New Deal than at any other time in American history.” Given all this, Russell concludes that “the New Deal and Fascism went to war not over ideas or values or a way of life. Rather, it seems, the war was a struggle between brothers for control of the world family (pp. 268–70).

As for that war, Russell questions the unchallenged and pervasive assumption that World War II was virtually invincible in its popularity. Indeed, it was especially unpopular among the disenfranchised. Despite politically correct tales of how black Americans gallantly fought in the war, such history books “ignore the fact that African Americans comprised 35 percent of the nation’s delinquent draft registrants and more than 18 percent of those imprisoned for draft evasions” (p. 271). Thousands of Americans were jailed for not wanting to fight. Japanese-Americans were not particularly thrilled to be corralled into concentration camps. As to the common workers who were supposedly blessed by the wartime “prosperity”:

The Office of Price Administration, which had been created during the war to control inflation, and the War Production Board, set strict limits on wages in most industries. Many workers made less per hour than they would have without the controls, since the labor market was so tight. Because of this, but also because of the strict discipline that had been instituted in the war industries, including mandatory overtime, there were more than fourteen thousand strikes involving more than six million workers during the war. Most of these strikers were in defense industries (pp. 276–7).

We often hear about labor acting up and striking in the early 20th century, but rarely do we hear about these fourteen thousand strikes during the supposedly wonderful days of World War II. Russell celebrates the liberalization of culture, especially for gays, that came as an unintended result of World War II – but finds very little other reason to call it a “war for freedom.”

Modern American Renegades

Russell’s iconoclasm continues into his analysis of recent American history. He credits “juvenile delinquents” with winning the Cold War. As much as conservative American anti-communists hated rock ‘n roll, the Commies actually hated it much more. In the 1950s, youth from East Berlin crossed the border to watch Hollywood films, inspiring them to demand more cultural liberty. In the Eastern Bloc, “the introduction of reel-to-reel tape recorders in the 1960s helped create a vast underground culture of fans of rock, rhythm and blues, and later disco and hop-hop” and “by the 1970s, desire for music frequently turned to hatred for the Communist regime. Riots broke out at several rock concerts” (p. 293). “When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, East Germans flooded West Berlin record shops” (p. 294). But youthful rockers get little credit for undermining communism, because, as Russell suspects, “leaders of all political varieties – from the American presidents to Communist commissars – share a devotion to social order and are therefore natural enemies of renegades” (p. 294).

In addressing gay rights, Russell takes the unusual position that gay marriage and other attempts to integrate gays into heterosexual culture are counterproductive in a sense, that “Today’s movement for gay marriage. . . ended gay liberation, is helping to end straight liberation, and seeks to return all of us to the 1950s” (p. 331). Instead, he cheers on the legacy of the Stonewall rioters, who in 1969 in Greenwich Village fought for their right to be left alone. Rather than seeking acceptance or equal political privilege, they sought only to defend their rights and private property against the police state.

In his final chapter, transcending the typical culture-war nonsense, Russell casts a similar interpretive eye upon hippie and redneck culture, demonstrating especially their similarities in being devoted to the work ethic as a first principle. For those skeptical of this, the author reminds us of how devoted hippies are on their communes to work, almost as an ascetic end in itself.

Opposing the state’s encroachments on our lives means undermining its lies – especially about history. The establishment thrives on the historical propaganda taught in schools, advanced at universities, distributed uncritically in the texts, adopted by the media and propagated by all the conventional thinkers, left and right. Thaddeus Russell’s A Renegade History of the United States scrutinizes the unquestioned narratives and raises neglected, often uncomfortable, truths about America’s past. It smashes through the mainstream myths spewed by court intellectuals who offer a sugarcoated, oversimplified and dangerous vision of our nation, its founding, its wars, its legacies in economic central planning, its social crusades and cultural history.

A Renegade History is not a typical tract in praise of the free market or the Randian heroes throughout the U.S. experience. Indeed, there is a clear tension between Russell’s belief that American conceptions of liberty and self-restraint are all-too-compatible, and the paleolibertarian respect for self-restraint as a possibly important, and not necessarily undesirable, component of a free society. But this disagreement on values does not negate the wealth of information and explanatory power in Russell’s interpretation. Here we have a book that celebrates individual freedom against the state, community and self-determination against coercively maintained nationalist identity, peace and commerce instead of war, freedom of association rather than mandatory integration, voluntary commercialism for the pleasure of the masses rather than corporatism or progressive asceticism for the sake of the nation-state. It is far more compatible with libertarian philosophy than the more typical tracts from the left, far more interesting and radical than almost anything you’ll find on the right, and even more illuminating than what our closer allies produce in the way of cultural history. It is difficult if not impossible to read this book and not come away looking at America a bit differently.

February 15, 2011

Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a research analyst at the Independent Institute. He lives in Oakland, California. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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Here is a Reason TV interview with Thaddeus Russell:

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No U-Turns on the Road to Serfdom?

I don’t always agree with Justin, especially on some of his opinions about Israel, but, very often, what he has to say is important and worth reading in spite of occasional disagreement. (E)

The “anti-terrorist” witch-hunt and the future of America

by Justin Raimondo
by Justin Raimondo

Recently by Justin Raimondo: The Assassins of Lebanon

 

In a series of raids last year, the FBI raided the homes and offices of antiwar activists in Minneapolis, North Carolina, Chicago, and California. They seized boxes of materials, cell phones, documents, and other private property, and issued subpoenas to a number of individuals, 24 at last count, demanding their appearance before a federal grand jury. The focus of this fishing expedition is ostensibly the “solidarity work” engaged in by the Antiwar Committee of Minneapolis, and sympathizing organizations, in Palestine and Columbia, but the history of police repression against these groups and individuals goes back years, specifically involving their work in organizing a march on the Republican and Democratic national conventions: in the Twin Cities, the “RNC Welcoming Committee,” which planned the protest, was of particular interest to the authorities. The local cops, working with the FBI, actively worked to recruit informants, and – using information gleaned from these infiltrators – conducted a weekend-long reign of terror in early September 2008, breaking down doors, manhandling protesters – including journalists – and rounding up dissidents in anticipation of violence they claim “might” have occurred had the authorities not acted.

In reality, of course, the RNC Welcoming Committee was engaged in perfectly legal activities protected by the First Amendment, and there was no evidence presented that violence was forthcoming – but, under the terms of the post-9/11 legislative assault on the Constitution that culminated in the “Patriot” Act and subsequent acts of Congress, the First Amendment is no longer operative in this country.

If you’re an Influential Person, however, you can get away with almost anything. Let’s say you’re Michael Mukasey, Bush’s former Attorney General, who recently traveled to Paris with Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security chieftain, Fran Townsend, President Bush’s former chief adviser on Homeland Security and counter-terrorism, and former New York City mayor and spectacularly failed presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, to endorse the continuing effort by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), or People’s Mujahideen, to get off the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

MEK is an Iranian Marxist-turned-neocon Iranian exile group, with a weirdly cultish orientation, that has murdered US diplomatic personnel and was instrumental in the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran. They lost out in the power struggle following the overthrow of the Shah, and fled to Iraq, where they were succored by Saddam Hussein: MEK brigades fought on the Iraqi side during the Iraq-Iran war, and carried out terrorist acts against civilian targets – a strategy they would very much like to carry out with US assistance today.

Over one-hundred members of Congress, who recently signed an appeal to the State Department to take MEK off the terrorist list, are angling for this, and the prominence of the US delegation to the Paris confab is part of the continuing campaign by the War Party to legalize these somewhat nutty cultists – whose unquestioned leader, Maryam Rajavi, has already declared herself the “President” of Iran – and get the group funding. The idea is to use them, as the Bush team used the Iraqi National Congress, to get “intelligence” – of similar quality – to gin up another war, this time against Tehran.

Can you imagine the outcry in official Washington if the FBI invaded the offices of Mukasey, Giuliani, Ridge, and Townsend, searching for evidence of “material support” to a foreign terrorist organization – the same crime the Minneapolis defendants are potentially facing? Such laws, however, aren’t written in order to target such people: it’s only those without power who suffer such a fate. If you’re in any way associated with WikiLeaks, government agents are quick to stop you at the airport, question you, andseize your laptop, but if you’re Rudy the Lout, on the way back from a tête-à-tête with terrorists – thegood kind, rest assured – you’re escorted to the VIP line and whisked through security.

Civil libertarians may cavil that this disparate treatment is evidence of selective prosecution, but selectivity is what the post-9/11 assault on the Bill of Rights is all about. Of course the government has the legal “right,” these days, to read everyone’s emailbreak into our private property, and collect information about our constitutionally protected activities – but you can bet they’re not intercepting Senor Mukasey’s email. Unless some political figure is being set up for blackmail, the Washington insiders and their friends are exempt from the depredations of the surveillance state. When it comes to the Antiwar Committee of Minneapolis, however – well, that’s a horse of a different color, as they say in the land of Oz.

In the wake of 9/11, the neocons were strategically enough placed to launch a two-front war: one at home, and one abroad. The post-9/11 coup, in which a handful of neocons seized control of the machinery of the state and lied us into war, also involved waging a war on the home front – against the Constitution. And while the Iraq campaign ended in failure, an outcome currently being replicated in Afghanistan, their domestic campaign to destroy the legacy of the Founders and create the basis for a police state was much more successful. Indeed, I would venture to call it a near total victory.

With the support of both political parties, an extensive network of “anti-terrorist” “fusion centers” was created, in which local, state, and national law enforcement agencies cooperated in a “fused” effort to gather intelligence on and take action against targets deemed potential nodes of terrorist activity. Acting under a very broad mandate, and with billions of our tax dollars at their disposal, these agencies were also under considerable pressure to produce results. This led, according to the Office of the Inspector General [.pdf], to spying on perfectly legal and even pacifist organizations, whose only “crime” was to oppose the foreign and military policies pursued by Washington.

Read the rest of the article

 

January 25, 2011

Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

Copyright © 2011 Antiwar.com

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Wikimania and the First Amendment

by Ralph Nader

Thomas Blanton, the esteemed director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University described Washington’s hyper-reaction to WikiLeaks‘ transmission of information to some major media in various countries as “Wikimania.”

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last Thursday, Blanton urged the Justice Department to cool it. WikiLeaks and newspapers like The New York Timesand London’s Guardian, he said, are publishers protected by the First Amendment. The disclosures are the first small installment of a predicted much larger forthcoming trove of non-public information from both governments and global corporations.

The leakers inside these organizations come under different legal restrictions than those who use their freedom of speech rights to publish the leaked information.

The mad dog, homicidal demands to destroy the leaders of WikiLeaks by self-styled liberal Democrat and Fox commentator, Bob Beckel, the radio and cable howlers and some members of Congress, may be creating an atmosphere of panic at the politically sensitive Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder has made very prejudicial comments pursuant to his assertion that his lawyers considering how they may prosecute Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks leader.

Mr. Holder declared that both “the national security of the United States” and “the American people have been put at risk.” This level of alarm was not shared by the public statements of defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of States Hillary Clinton who downplayed the impact of these disclosures.

The Attorney General, who should be directing more of his resources to the corporate crime wave in all its financial, economic and hazardous manifestations, is putting himself in a bind.

If he goes after WikiLeaks too broadly using the notorious Espionage Act of 1917 and other vague laws, how is he going to deal with The New York Times and other mass media that reported the disclosures?

Consider what Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith, who was head of the Office of Legal Counsel in George W. Bush’s Justice Department just wrote:

“In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward, with the obvious assistance of many top Obama administration officials, disclosed many details about top secret programs, code names, documents, meetings, and the like. I have a hard time squaring the anger the government is directing towards WikiLeaks with its top officials openly violating classification rules and opportunistically revealing without authorization top secret information.”

On the other hand, if Mr. Holder goes the narrow route to obtain an indictment of Mr. Assange, he will risk a public relations debacle by vindictively displaying prosecutorial abuse (i.e. fixing the law around the enforcement bias.) Double standards have no place in the Justice Department.

WikiLeaks is also creating anxiety in the corporate suites. A cover story in the December 20, 2010 issue of Forbes magazine reports that early next year a large amount of embarrassing material will be sent to the media by WikiLeaks about a major U.S. bank, followed by masses of exposé material on other global corporations.

Will these releases inform the people about very bad activities by drug, oil, financial and other companies along with corruption in various countries? If so, people may find this information useful. We can only imagine what sleazy or illegal things our government has been up to that have been covered up. Soon, people may reject those who would censor WikiLeaks. Many people do want to size up what’s going on inside their government in their name and with their tax dollars.

Wasn’t it Jefferson who said that “information is the currency of democracy” and that, given a choice between government and a free press, he’ll take the latter? Secrecy-keeping the people and Congress in the dark-is the cancer eating at the vitals of democracy.

What is remarkable about all the official hullabaloo by government officials,who leak plenty themselves, is that there never is any indictment or prosecution of government big wigs who continually suppress facts and knowledge in order to carry out very devastating actions like invading Iraq under false pretenses and covering up corporate contractors abuses. The morbid and corporate-indentured secrecy of government over the years has cost many American lives, sent Americans to illegal wars, bilked consumers of billions of dollars and harmed the safety and economic well-being of workers.

As Cong. Ron Paul said on the House floor, why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our government’s failure to protect classified information? He asked his colleagues which events caused more deaths, “Lying us into war, or the release of the WikiLeaks papers?”

Over-reaction by the Obama administration could lead to censoring the Internet, undermining Secretary Clinton’s Internet Freedom initiative, which criticized China’s controls and lauded hacktivism in that country, and divert attention from the massive over classification of documents by the Executive Branch.

A full throttle attack on WikiLeaks is what the government distracters want in order to take away the spotlight of the disclosures on their misdeeds, their waste and their construction of an authoritarian corporate state.

Professor and ex-Bushite Jack Goldsmith summed up his thoughts this way: “The best thing to do….would be to ignore Assange and fix the secrecy system so this does not happen again.”

That presumably is some of what Peter Zatko and his crew are now trying to do at the Pentagon’s famed DARPA unit. That secret initiative may ironically undermine the First Amendment should they succeed too much in hamstringing the Internet earlier advanced by that same Pentagon unit.

December 24, 2010

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. Visit his website.

Copyright © 2010 Ralph Nader

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Wikileaks cable reveals U.S. conspired to retaliate against European nations if they resisted GMOs

Friday, December 24, 2010
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com

(NaturalNews) Wikileaks continues to rock the political world by shedding light on conspiracies, corruption and cover-ups. The latest batch of diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveals what can only be characterized as a U.S.-led conspiracy to force GMOs onto European countries by making those countries pay a steep price if they resist.

The cable reveals the words ofCraig Stapleton, the US ambassador to France, who was pushing the commercial interests of the biotech industry by attempting to force GMOs into France. In his own words (below), he expresses his frustration with the idea that France might pass environmental laws that would hamper the expansion of GMOs:

Europe is moving backwards not forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [European] Commission… Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voice.”

Got that so far? His own words: “Retaliation” as a way to “make [it] clear” that resisting GMOs will have a price.

Stapleton goes on to say something rather incredible:

“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory…”

As you read these words again, remember that these are the words ofthe U.S. ambassador to Francewho is suggesting the US “calibrate a target retaliation list” in order to “cause some pain across the EU” that must be “sustainable over the long term.”

The global GMO conspiracy is no longer a theory

Need we say anything more? This cable proves, once and for all, that there is a global GMO conspiracy where government operatives work in secret to push Monsanto‘s GMO agenda while punishing opponents of GMOs and adding them to a “target retaliation list.”

This cable also proves that NaturalNews has been right all along about the GMO conspiracy, and that GMO opponents such as Jeffrey Smith are battling what can only be calledan evil conspiracyto control the world’sfood supply. It also proves that when Alex Jones talks about the global conspiracy to control the world food supply, he’s not just ranting. He’s warning about the reality of the world in which we now live.

As Jeffery Smith said today in a Democracy Now interview:

“We’ve been saying for years that the United States government is joined at the hip with Monsanto and pushing GMOs as part of Monsanto’s agenda on the rest of the world. This lays bare the mechanics of that effort. We have Craig Stapleton, the former ambassador to France, specifically asking the U.S. government to retaliate and cause some harm throughout the European Union.”(http://www.democracynow.org/seo/201…)

Military terms

Do you notice something about these words used by the US ambassador to France? “Calibrate a target retaliation list” sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the kind of language you might find tossed around ina military bombing war exercise.

That’s no coincidence: These government operatives quite literally consider themselves to be at war with the world, and they intend to conquer the world with their genetically modified poisons. They will do anything, it seems, to force-feed their deadly crops to the public.

Eight important realizations from these leaks

This Wikileaks cable brings up all sorts of issues that each might deserve a separate article, but here are the highlights of what comes to my mind on this issue:

Realization #1)Wikileaks is valuablefor exposing the government lies in our world. Without Wikileaks, we never would have known about these cables which prove the existence of this GMO conspiracy.

Realization #2)US government diplomatic officials are working for the corporations!It’s just as we’ve described here on NaturalNews numerous times — Big Government is really just an extension of the most evil and most powerful corporations that now dominate our planet: The drug companies, the weapons manufacturers, the agricultural giants and so on. Here’s what Jeffrey Smith had to say about governments conspiring with Monsanto:

“In 2009, we have a cable from the ambassador to Spain from the United States asking for intervention there, asking the government to help formulate a biotech strategy and support the government — members of the government in Spain that want to promote GMOs, as well. And here, they specifically indicate that they sat with the director of Monsanto for the region and got briefed by him about the politics of the region and created strategies with him to promote the GMO agenda.”

Realization #3)The US is willing to retaliate against European countries if they try to block GMOs. This brings up the question: Why is the US so desperate to push GMOs on Europe? Clearly there is another agenda behind all this (maybe we’ll learn more in future Wikileaks releases).

Realization #4)No wonder the US government has declared war on Wikileaksbecause these dark secrets and “conspiracy notes” are never made public through any normal means. It takes a whistleblower to expose the true government corruption taking place in our world today.

Realization #5)The GMO conspiracy reaches to the highest levels of global control. This US ambassador Stapleton wasn’t just a nobody. He was, in fact, the co-owner of the Texas Rangers with former President George W. Bush! His wife, by the way, is George Bush’s cousin. This is a conspiracy involving the highest-ranking officials across multiple countries who are pushing a GMO agenda that’s poisoning people across the planet.

Realization #6)Governments are literally trying to kill their own people. It is widely known in the inner circles of power that GMOs are deadly, but governments keep pushing them anyway. As Jeffrey Smith explains in his interview with Democracy Now:

“…the person who was in charge of FDA policy in 1992, Monsanto’s former attorney, Michael Taylor, he allowed GMOs on the market without any safety studies and without labeling, and the policy claimed that the agency was not aware of any information showing that GMOs were significantly different. Seven years later, because of a lawsuit, 44,000 secret internal FDA memos revealed that that policy was a lie. Not only were the scientists at the FDA aware that GMOs were different, they had warned repeatedly that they might create allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. But they were ignored, and their warnings were even denied, and the policy went forth allowing the deployment GMOs into the food supply with virtually no safety studies.”

Realization #7)The GMO conspiracy is always reframed as “science”. At one point in the leaked cables, Stapleton warns that in opposing GMOs, France would “roll back established science-based decision making.” The GMO conspiracy, you have to remember, is always hidden behind the term “science” so that anyone who opposes GMOs can be characterized as being somehow against “scientific thinking.”

All this gives science a bad name, of course, but I suppose that since the history of science is filled with arrogant scientists poisoning people in the name of science (mercury, vaccines, radiation, plastics, medications, etc.), we shouldn’t be all that surprised to observe this.

Realization #8)Spain has been a key co-conspirator to push the U.S. GMO agenda. Much of the conspiring taking place in the EU has been spearheaded by Spain, whose officials met personally with the head of Monsanto to plot their push of GMOs into Europe.

All of a sudden the Blackwater story adds up

This all reminds me of a story published a few months back byThe Nationin which Jeremy Scahill exposed a link between Monsanto and the military contractor known asBlackwater. His article claimed that Monsanto had hired Blackwater spies to “infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.” (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/…)

Monsanto vehemently denied the allegation. I looked hard at covering that story at the time but could not substantiate the accusations to my satisfaction. However, given the new information gleaned from these leaked diplomatic cables — which blatantly state that the GMO conspirators plan to “calibrate a target retaliation list” — all of a sudden the Blackwater story adds up.

This is the verbage of a military-style retaliation campaign, and that’s exactly the business of Blackwater. Remember how Stapleton said the US needed to “cause some pain?” That’s Blackwater’s calling card!

Although these cables don’t prove any connection between Monsanto and Blackwater, they do lend credence to the idea that such a link is not only possibly, but perhaps even probable. It clearly deserves additional investigation.

Regardless of whether the Blackwater / Monsanto link is ever proven, what’s crystal clear from all this is thatthe global GMO conspiracy is very realand thatGMO conspirators plot retaliatory actionsagainst any nation that refuses to allow GMOs into their country.

The whole thing is then disguised as “science” so that anyone who opposes it can be branded as “non-scientific.” This is the same sick way in which vaccines are pushed, too: They’re called “scientific” even when they’re based entirely on scientific fraud (as are GMOs).

How governments really operate

Above all, what these Wikileaks cables really reveal is that government conspiracies are, of course, not only real but that they are taking place right now. Diplomats and ambassadors are, in effect, government thugs who engage in the most unethical actions, full of threats and retaliation, in order to serve the financial interests of their corporate masters.

That’s how the world really works, despite the Disney-like image portrayed by the mainstream media. Behind the scenes, the U.S. government is literally plotting with Monsanto to take over the world’s food supply. That is not an exaggeration. It’s not conjecture. It is a statement of fact based on the words of the government’s own operatives (who obviously didn’t know their words would ever be made public).

Through Wikileaks, we have been given a glimpse into the truth behind the Great Wall of government lies. And that truth, it turns out, is a lot uglier than most people could have imagined. (It’s no surprise to me, because I’ve seen things that most regular people have never witnessed. But to a regular Joe Blow working his J.O.B. and watching the evening news, the hard-core truth about the world is a bit too much to handle…)

Personally, I can’t wait to see what other dark secrets are buried in these Wikileaks cables. And it all makes me wish we had a Wikileaks for the FDA, too. Can you imagine all the dirty secrets that would come out of the FDA’s offices if we could read their emails? We need an FDA leaker.

The other thought that comes to mind is how much I wouldn’t want to be Julian Assange right now. His head is now the world’s most powerful bullet magnet… especially when government rifles are anywhere nearby. If the U.S. government would conspire to create a “retaliation target list” of nations that are merely resisting GMOs, can you imagine what they will do if they ever get their hands on Assange?

Read the leaked cables right here:
http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/02…

and

http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/05/0…

(Note: These links may not be active for very long because the governments of the world are obviously trying to shut down all the websites that post this information. The truth, it seems, is just too dangerous to allow it to be openly published.)

How to turn all this around

Don’t let all this get you down.You can take action to help turn this around!

Action Item #1) Don’t buy GMO foods! Look for the non-GMO “Project Verified” label on foods.

Action Item #2) Urge lawmakers to oppose GMOs or require honest GMO labeling of foods.

Action Item #3) Help support the Institute for Responsible Technology and other non-profits working to oppose GMOs.

Action Item #4) Stay informed! Read NaturalNews and our Facebook GMO Dangers page (www.facebook.com/GMO.dangers) to stay up on this issue. The IRT (above) will keep you even more deeply informed on GMOs.

Action Item #5) Share what you know! Share videos, cartoons, articles and websites with your friends and family members who also care about protecting their health from GMOs.

Action Item #6) Don’t trust the government! They are pushing a GMO conspiracy. They don’t want you to have natural food, and the FDA is now being unleashed under the new food safety bill to destroy small farmers who tend to use non-GMO crops. Fight against government encroachment of our natural right to grow honest food.Support food freedom!

Learn more about GMOs

Get the truth from Jeffrey Smith at:www.ResponsibleTechnology.org

See the GMO page on NaturalNews:www.NaturalNews.com/GMOs.html

Join our anti-GMO page on Facebook:www.Facebook.com/GMO.dangers

Watch myJust Say No to GMOvideo! It’s now available in four languages:

English:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnN6…

 


President Says He’s Ready to Compromise – But Are the American People Willing?

by Mac Slavo
SHTF Plan
by Mac Slavo
Recently by Mac Slavo: Insider Stock Sell Off: 3,177 to 1 Sell-to-Buy Ratio

After the much-anticipated defeat of the democrats in the House of Representatives, President Obama says that he wants to “figure out how we can move forward together.”

At a White House news conference, the president said that when Congress returns, “my goal is to make sure we don’t have a huge spike in taxes for middle class families.” He made no mention of his campaign-long insistence that tax cuts be permitted to expire on upper-income families, a position he said would avoid swelling the deficit but put him in conflict with Republicans.

He also virtually abandoned his legislation – hopelessly stalled in the Senate – featuring economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources.

“I’m going to be looking for other means of addressing this problem,” he said. “Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat,” he said, strongly implying there will be others.

The president opened his post-election news conference by saying voters who felt frustrated by the sluggish pace of economic recovery had dictated the Republican takeover in the House.

The president said he was eager to sit down with the leaders of both political parties “and figure out how we can move forward together.”

“I think people started looking at all this, and it felt as if government was getting much more intrusive into people’s lives than they were accustomed to,” he conceded.

Like President Bush before him, President Obama now intends to cooperate with the opposing party in Congress and cross the aisle. Mr. Obama wants to compromise on things like tax cuts, and carbon emission taxes and government’s intrusion into people’s lives.

How about this: We don’t want to compromise.

It may sound close-minded, but it’s true.

How should the American people compromise on taxes? Should we only raise them a little bit? How about not at all. In fact, instead of raising taxes, let’s start talking about cutting behemoth government spending programs and not just cutting taxes, but completely eliminating them. Want to compromise? Then the discussion should start with tax elimination, not extending already existing tax reductions put in place by President Bush.

What about carbon emissions? The science behind the neo-environmentalist movement is bunk. The policies the President supports are not designed to improve the environment – only to increase government revenues. Nope, we’re not going to compromise on that one either. If you want to save the environment here’s an idea – offer tax elimination for businesses that engage in the development of alternative energy, and promote individual energy self sufficiency in the home by eliminating sales taxes and regulation on developing personal alternative energy systems that individuals can install and maintain themselves – so they don’t have to be dependent on heavily regulated enterprises like oil, water and electric utilities. Mandates only anger people. Why not let people take the steps themselves to improve the environment by offering them personal benefits for doing so, rather than putting a gun to their head?

Government Intrusion into our lives? Forcing each individual American to buy health insurance by mandate is not something Americans want to compromise on. This should have been evident when almost 10 out of 10 phone calls to Washington when health care legislation was being passed were in opposition. Obviously, Washington didn’t listen. We didn’t hear anyone talking about compromise then.

We also didn’t hear anyone talking about compromise when tens of thousands of Americans called their representatives to oppose the GM, AIG and bank bailouts. No one compromised with the American people – not democrats, not republicans. They just did what they wanted and enslaved current and future generations to the tune of trillions. This is what happens when republicans and democrats “cross the aisle” and compromise.

No, Mr. President, the American people aren’t looking for compromise. The policy of compromise doesn’t work – not in today’s America.

You see, when it comes to government intrusion into the lives of individual Americans through legislative mandates, it runs counter to the principles set forth in our founding document, The Constitution for the United States of America. Even though the education system in America has tried to dumb down the populace, at least some of them are waking up. And yesterday, a lot of them came out to vote. But many didn’t come out to vote for republicans – they came out to vote against democrats. Their motivation was not to see the Republican Party takeover Congress again. They just wanted to stop the out of control train that was a democrat Congress.

Every law passed in Congress seems to further deteriorate our individual liberties as free men (and women) of the United States. That republicans now control at least one side of the bicameral Congress is a good thing, but only because it will (hopefully) grid-lock any future legislation.

Because if there’s one thing we don’t need in America right now, it’s more laws.

The only thing the American people need right now is for legislation to be repealed and for the corruption in Washington and on Wall Street to be addressed. That’s not going to happen under President Obama’s watch, and it wouldn’t happen even if republicans controlled a super majority of both houses, because as we’ve said before, republican and democrat policies are two heads of the same snake. Over the last century, BOTH parties have been responsible for legislative actions that have run counter to The Constitution.

The problem with Washington is that corruption runs rampant and politicians are completely disconnected from the reality on the ground. How can the American people compromise with those who are concerned only with enriching themselves to the detriment of the rest of the populace?

Call us crazy, but we’re not interested in compromising the principles of individual liberty with the economic, political and philosophical policies of socialists, fascists and communists.

What it all boils down to is that you’re either for tyranny, or you’re for liberty:


Diagram Source: Illusion of Opposites

Compromise between these two philosophies is simply not possible.

Reprinted from SHTF Plan.

November 5, 2010

Mac Slavo [send him mail] is a small business owner and independent investor.

Copyright © 2010 Mac Slavo

The Best of Mac Slavo

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If God Is Pro-War – He Lied

by Paul Green

Also by Paul Green: Three Cheers for the Swiss People

I have a question to ask you. I would then like you to ask it of others, particularly of Christians:

How many innocent people would you be willing to kill – purely to defend yourself?

For example, let’s say you are well armed and an armed robber is shooting at you – but the robber is holding a hostage directly in front of him.

Or, suppose someone is shooting at you from within a crowd. Maybe some in the crowd don’t like you. Let’s push it even further and say that most of them hate you, and sympathize with the attacker. To shoot back, you would be aiming at the attacker, but you know you would also hit others.

I repeat:

How many of them would you be willing to kill, even absolutely and purely in self-defense?

I asked this question of someone fairly high up in military intelligence recently. I had to press the point as he beat around the bush for a while. His (eventual) response? “I’m not sure I know the answer to that question.” Well, at least he was thinking about it.

If your own answer is unclear – or anything greater than zero – you have a moral problem. Your hope is in murder to save your own life. The choice is either to face it or to deceive and justify yourself.

I want it to be absolutely clear what I am saying: If you are knowingly willing to kill even a single innocent person, for any reason whatsoever, there is murder in your heart – not faith in God.

I asked him one more question:

If it would be wrong to kill even a single innocent person in self-defense, why would it be OK to support a government that did so?

Christian Leaders and War

The title of this article refers to one by the now deceased Jerry Falwell, who wrote “God is pro-war.” The “war on terror” was justified in that article and by its main proponents as a war of self-defense. But in justifying self-defense there is always silence or dismissal on the subject of innocent bystanders. The concept is most often morally sterilized by using preferred terms like “collateral damage.”

WorldNetDaily ran the article by Falwell. Its founder, Joseph Farah, pushed the envelope even further in two later articles literally advocating the mass nuclear bombing of Muslim cities, writing in January 2005, “…we don’t need to be specific about which major cities and installations will be vaporized.” That same month Farah wrote an article advocating torture, making up for the complete absence of any Biblical support by recommending a couple of Hollywood films. Later in 2008, he presided over the faith-based “Values Voters” election debate, where US House representative Ron Paul was jeered for mentioning Jesus as the “Prince of Peace.”

In 2005, Farah also wrote that if “we” did not torture sufficiently or “do everything necessary to win”, “we might as well sue for peace.” So after all the innocent blood, if his recent reversal on Iraq and Afghanistan, while welcome, is for anything more than strategic reasons in the face of military failure and national bankruptcy – until the next pre-emptive war – I look forward to hearing it publicly. No mention yet of anything but American soldiers’ blood, but a major step in the right direction.

In contrast, it was Hitler who said:

“Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.”

Exactly the same principle of fear, not faith, was used to drive the people of the US, the UK and other countries into moral compromise – spearheaded by US Christian leaders. Once the “fear of sudden death” had galvanized the people into demanding political action, this required that the inevitable death of innocents be swept under the moral carpet.

At this stage, at least one Christian leader, Pat Robertson, was against invading Iraq and apparently asked George W. Bush about those innocent victims – and was told there wouldn’t be any. Robertson was “overruled” and evidently chose afterward to be quiet and get aboard the “war on terror” bandwagon.

Thank God at least the Pope and the Catholic Church did stand by their clear statement:

“…criminal culpability is always personal and cannot be extended to the nation, ethnic group or religion to which the terrorists may belong.”

Of course, it is easier to speak when a government and its critic are in different countries and many Catholic leaders disagreed, particularly in the US.

So, if we will all have to stand on our own on Judgment Day, then let us beware following leaders like lemmings. Even the great apostle Peter, having had a marvelous ministry of miracles recorded in the Book of Acts, years later had to be publicly rebuked, as recorded in the book of Galatians.

Leaders are our fellow human beings, even if genuinely called or gifted. It may sound obvious to say so, but many Christians do not act as if this were true.

Christians and Allegiance

The pro-war position was and still is the prevailing position amongst many Christian leaders who, while claiming to be Bible believers, in reality are also in allegiance to a kingdom/government other than the Kingdom of God – a subject covered in my earlier article “The Exclusive Kingdom of God.”

Ask yourself where your own allegiance lies. “God and Country” is at best an ambiguous phrase – the best thing anyone can do for their fellow countrymen is to have no other allegiance than to God. Those who choose otherwise will soon see no wrong in murdering for their country.

As a result of this “supplementary” allegiance, in any conflict between the laws of God and of government, Christians are vulnerable to the deception, spin and false doctrines the State specializes in – for both Left and Right. Very often, the consolidation of “Christian” support requires little more than an appeal to patriotism and running some minor socially conservative legislative distraction up the political flagpole (for later retraction). “Minor” certainly, relative to the mass murder of innocents.

The New Testament and War

I remember hearing a story about a judge who had his own guilty daughter brought in front of him. Though he loved her, he could not justly judge her innocent but he did, upon her plea of guilty, divest his judge’s wig and pay the fine in full.

There is some similarity there with the New Testament, which unveils the Prince of Peace. The strict justice of the Old Testament, while remaining true and just, has been tempered and satisfied with mercy – our deserved punishment being overwhelmingly paid in full by another, the Lord Jesus Christ.

With this prevailing theme, it is quite hard to make a case for pre-emptive war in the New Testament. The most that could be argued is that when Jesus commanded Roman soldiers not to brutalize the innocent or steal; he did not require them to face death by immediately deserting.

However, when the disciples asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven on their enemies, His answer was, “you do not know what Spirit you are of.”

Some might argue the suggestion was just – they were plotting to kill Jesus – and something similar did occur once in the Old Testament when Elijah faced some pagan priests. But at that time, God as Judge had little choice but to execute justice, as redemption was not fully available. Then, Jesus came to show us the real nature of God the Father and said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”

Today, many Christians are baying for blood and calling for fire in the form of bombs and missiles on the heads of anyone who could possibly be an enemy. This is not even based upon proper standards of evidence but upon whispers, rumor and analysis from mysterious sources in failed secret police agencies.

Moreover, they do not care – I repeat, they have abandoned any care – about how many innocent people will die.

I say they do not know what Spirit they are of.

The Old Testament and War

The absence of a pro-war doctrine in the New Testament forced Jerry Falwell and others to dig into the Old Testament. There they found all the blood they were looking for. The Old Testament is still the Word of God and therefore preemptive war with innocent casualties was fully justified in the Bible, right?

Wrong.

I am going to show – using multiple unequivocal scriptures – that killing the innocent, even just one and even in self-defense or for an otherwise righteous cause would never and has never been advocated by God, Old or New Testament.

I am not promoting pacifism or opposing self-defense.

On the contrary, I believe in strong defense – even that according to Jesus, every Christian should be armed and that it is the most basic duty of every father to defend his family. For all who choose evil and knowingly spurn the free pardon purchased by the blood of Jesus, I also believe there is a literal hell (here are some documented NDE’s). So I would hate to send even an armed robber into the wrong side of eternity. But I would not hesitate to do so if there were no other choice.

But I am targeting pre-emptive war – killing people in advance, because you think they might be a risk.

Or, killing innocent people because there are others around them that are guilty and it is too difficult to decide who is who.

I also include so called “freedom fighters” or actual terrorists bombing government buildings, where there may be ignorant and/or innocent individuals among some actual violent criminals of the State.

Old Testament Case 1 – Abraham

Both the Old and New Covenants begin with the “father of faith,” Abraham.

Abraham had a well-armed household with several hundred servants under his command. He knew what a battle was, and when his goods were plundered, took up arms and recovered the lot plus the booty from his slain foes. They got what was coming to them, in rich Old Testament style.

Abraham was in a covenant with God (based on faith, not law – there was none). In Genesis 20, God chose to visit His friend Abraham when justice could no longer be put off regarding extreme homosexually related violence and murder in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. More than just a few guilty individuals; the whole society had become morally corrupt and committed to perversion and violence. Any half-decent individuals would have long since departed, if they had not been raped and murdered.

Why did God even mention this to Abraham, let alone record it at length in the Bible? The subsequent dialogue makes clear that although God is the ultimate Judge, He is always looking for a “legal” way out. It also serves to demonstrate that His justice is a last resort and most of all, that He never condemns the innocent along with the guilty.

Note the pleading of Abraham:

“Will you consume the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it? Be it far from you to do things like that, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be like the wicked. May that be far from you. Shouldn’t the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Abraham continued pleading the case of Sodom and Gomorrah all the way down to just ten innocent people. Far from being angry, God agreed each time. Finally, all that remained in the city were those in the family of Abraham’s nephew Lot and these innocents were removed before any judgement took place.

So, the question I asked at the beginning of this article is directly from the Bible and was asked of God by the “father of faith” Abraham himself. It is worth repeating yet again:

“Will you…. kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be like the wicked. May that be far from you. Shouldn’t the Judge of all the earth do right?”

God’s answer was a definite and repeated no. Therefore, any interpretation of the later wars of Israel to condone the mass murder of innocents would make God out to be either a liar or a schizophrenic.

He is neither.

I strongly suggest, even if you do not understand those later events, that caution is advisable before either condemning God, or else using those events to justify mass murder today.

Old Testament Case 2 – Israel

Before Israel ever entered into the Promised Land, they had to wait because the inhabitants, though in moral decline, had not become sufficiently wicked. When finally they did enter, the Bible says that the land literally had vomited the inhabitants out, their level of wickedness being so great.

Despite this wickedness, in Joshua 2, the case of Rahab the prostitute in Jericho serves to illustrate the lengths God will got to in order to preserve just one innocent person, along with all their family, even when amongst others who are guilty.

For years it had been known to the Canaanites that the Israelites were coming. They knew about Pharaoh’s army being destroyed and, according to Rahab, they knew they were to leave and that the God of Israel was with the Israelites.

The times were nomadic or semi-nomadic and the less wicked had left long ago. Note also that the term “Israelites” included a large “mixed multitude” – individuals or families from pagan societies that freely chose to make the God of Israel their own God. The whole book of Ruth is about this. There were many others, including an Amalekite mentioned in 2 Samuel 1.

Those who remained in Jericho were a hard core that preferred to scorn and defy the God of Israel (along with any moral restraint) and trust in their own gods and their king/government.

You may think this reasonable – until you look at the available historical records of their culture (see here and here). Child molestation, mutilation, and sacrifice by fire were pervasive, with all kinds of vile perversions and occult initiation perpetrated upon them. Basically, the longer these people remained alive, the more of their innocent victims there would be.

Yet in Jericho, an individual – a prostitute – turned to God in faith. Her only recorded good “work” was to confirm her faith by helping the spies, in defiance of her governing king – but she was spared, along with her family. The Bible records God supernaturally preserving the portion of the wall of Jericho where she lived.

This was right at the beginning of entering the Promised Land – and a key feature of the narrative is the preservation of a single innocent life.

Old Testament Case 3

The normal practice in a conflict was for women and children to be absorbed through marriage or domestic service, into Israel – with special protection for these women in marriage law.

Yet, in some specific cases, God did order women and children to be killed. This subject is beloved both by Christian warmongers and conversely, by Biblical sceptics.

Both are hypocrites: Sceptics, because many advocate assisted suicide, euthanasia and/or healthcare rationing – they want their god, the State, or its “experts” to decide when mercy killings should take place. But equally so are warmongers of the Christian right, who support pre-emptive war and the mass murder of innocents, yet claim to oppose abortion and euthanasia on the basis of being “pro-life.”

In the case of the Canaanites, God the ultimate Judge did rule – in a very public way, and confirmed visibly by many miraculous signs – that their wickedness was so great that the land had “vomited them out.” They were served notice of eviction, a fact well known on the “grapevine” of the Canaanites, according to the testimony of Rahab in Jericho.

In the semi-nomadic times, Israel was instructed many times that the primary task was to “drive them out” and “see their backs.” Those who remained were a hard core, committed to their local king, their local gods and their vile practices.

But what of the women?

To remain with the Canaanites, they would have to be participants – sacrificing their own or other’s children alive in fire. The longer they lived, the more innocent children would die or be abused. As adults and in nomadic times, they were also free to depart in advance of Israel’s arrival and had many years notice to do so. If they were unable or unwilling to do so, the story of Rahab at Jericho shows that even then, there was a way out for any individual.

The main question for many is regarding the children. I believe this was the last of a last resort for God in dealing with the free and sovereign will of their parents. Here are some points:

  1. Killing children was not an accepted or universal military practice. It applied only to specific tribes and required the unique and specific instruction of God, the giver of all life. God, not an army, was the decider in this matter.
  2. It was not a punishment or judgement. Due to the extreme wickedness of their parents, young children would be in a physically, sexually and emotionally abused condition – and offered, from birth, to occult spirits. Deliverance from this was not freely available until demonic forces were completely routed at the cross and resurrection of Christ. Successful adoption of such disturbed children would be an impossible task, and instead cause mayhem within Israel as they grew up.
  3. To leave them alive would mean they would starve or be eaten by wild beasts.

Whatever the reasons, one certain conclusion is that no one but God can judge such conditions and that absent a specific command of God; any killing of women and children was not permitted.

This is underlined in the case of Abigail the wise wife of the wicked and foolish Nabal, in 1 Samuel 25. This man set himself against the militia of David despite their protecting and saving his flocks. His wife entreated an enraged David, who had resolved to destroy Nabal’s household. David listened and was thankful at being saved from “blood guiltiness.”

In addition to all this, in the Old Testament there were of course no weapons of mass destruction, or means of indiscriminate killing. Note also that there is not a single example of torture by Israel’s army, let alone its acceptance.

Conclusion

Christians would do well to consider the actions of Israel when their militia army was not victorious, or their soldiers were killed: They immediately got on their face before God to find out what they were doing wrong.

Soldiers are today dying by the thousands. Yet, in the name of “God and country,” the bloody slaughter and horrendous maiming of innocent men, women and children by the hundreds of thousands, is still supported by a large portion of the Christian church and its leaders.

In order to get into this morally blind condition Christians had to be rooted not in faith, but in the “fear of sudden death” and in a lifelong confession of allegiance to their State rather than to God alone. They were therefore open to being told, “Our man in the Whitehouse” George W. Bush and in the UK Tony Blair, had heard from God on the Iraq war. “End-times” prophecy teachers perpetuated the delusion, by distracting away from the simple ABC’s of loving our neighbor to the complicated XYZ’s of Armageddon.

But according to the New Testament, a Christian should not even go to lunch with someone like George W. Bush – a man called a Christian, but who worshipped at a Shinto temple in Japan; promoted Muslim holy days; and holds membership in the occult “Skull and Bones” (Thule Society/Order of Death) and Bohemian Grove organizations. Tony Blair and his wife are also apparently enamored with the occult, even while claiming to be Christians.

So, if there were no miraculous signs – where was the clear evidence that God had really spoken on Iraq? In particular, that it was okay – contrary to scripture – for innocents to be indiscriminately slaughtered?

How can Christians have been so dumb?

Actually, large portions of the New Testament are written to Christians in error… What else is new? In their anger and fear; and in their love for and allegiance to the State as protector, they have believed what they chose to believe. One thing God will not violate is our free will.

You may be a Christian who has advocated killing innocents, or may even be a soldier. If so, there are only two ways forward: One is self-deception, the other is forgiveness. The second option requires the acknowledging of wrongdoing and then doing no more.

The past cannot be undone, but there is hope. Even after killing many people, the apostle Paul went on to write much of the New Testament. Abraham also had many shortcomings, but “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” The least we can do is believe God who loved us and gave Jesus for us, in order to receive the same gift.

Most of all, I hope all readers will see through the blinding evil of false allegiance, and renounce any dedication to a power other than God. For some, that may mean renouncing a verbal pledge, for others it may just mean renouncing blind support for the State’s constant violations of God-given life, liberty and property.

For much more in depth analysis of the many issues surrounding this subject, I recommend the Laurence M. Vance archives at LewRockwell.com, with classic articles like “Should a Christian Join the Military” and also the book, Christianity and War.

July 29, 2010

Paul Green [send him mail] was born in the UK and currently works from home there as an independent emergency callout specialist for home and small business computer users. He is married with five children – all at home – and the three of school age are homeschooled. Over the years he has also traded the financial futures markets and worked as a one-stop advertising copywriter/ voice-over artist/ music and jingle producer.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.


The American War and Afghanistan’s Civilians

By Nick Turse

With the arrival of General David Petraeus as Afghan War commander, there has been ever more talk about the meaning of “success” in Afghanistan.  At the end of July, USA Today ran an article titled, “In Afghanistan, Success Measured a Step at a Time.” Days later, Stephen Biddle, a Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, held a conference call with the media to speak about “Defining Success in Afghanistan.”  A mid-August editorial in the Washington Post was titled: “Making the Case for Success in Afghanistan.”  And earlier this month, an Associated Press article appeared under the headline, “Petraeus Talks Up Success in Afghan War.”

Unlike victory, success turns out to be a slippery term.  As the United States approaches the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, pundits have been chewing over just what “success” in Afghanistan might mean for Washington.  What success might mean for ordinary Afghans hasn’t, however, been a major topic of conversation, even though U.S. officials have regularly promised them far better lives and trumpeted American efforts to reconstruct that war-torn land.

Between 2001 and 2009, according to the Afghan government, the country has received $36 billion in grants and loans from donor nations, with the United States disbursing some $23 billion of it.  U.S. taxpayers have anted up another $338 billion to fund the war and occupation.  Yet from poverty indexes to risk-of-rape assessments, from childhood mortality figures to drug-use stats, just about every available measure of Afghan well-being paints a grim picture of a country in a persistent state of humanitarian crisis, often involving reconstruction and military failures on an epic scale.  Pick a measurement affecting ordinary Afghans and the record since November 2001 when Kabul fell to Allied forces is likely to show stagnation or setbacks and, almost invariably, suffering.

Almost a decade after the U.S. invasion, life for Afghan civilians is not a subject Americans care much about and so, not surprisingly, it plays little role in Washington’s discussions of “success.”  Have a significant number of Afghans found the years of occupation and war “successful”?  Has there been a payoff in everyday life for the indignities of the American years – the cars stopped or sometimes shot up at road checkpoints, the American patrols trooping through fields and searching homes, the terrifying night raids, the imprisonments without trial, or the way so many Afghans continue to be treated like foreigners, if not criminal suspects, in their own country?

For years, American leaders have hailed the way Afghans are supposedly benefiting from the U.S. role in their country.  But are they?

The promises began early. In April 2002, for instance, speaking at the Virginia Military Institute, President George W. Bush proclaimed that in Afghanistan “peace will be achieved through an education system for boys and girls which works.”  He added, “We’re working hard in Afghanistan: We’re clearing mine fields. We’re rebuilding roads. We’re improving medical care. And we will work to help Afghanistan to develop an economy that can feed its people without feeding the world’s demand for drugs.”

When, on May 1, 2003, President Bush strode across the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver his “mission accomplished” speech, declaring an end to “major combat operations in Iraq,” he also spoke of triumph in the other war and once again offered a rosy picture of Afghan developments.  “We continue to help the Afghan people lay roads, restore hospitals, and educate all of their children,” he said.  Five years later, he was still touting American aid to Afghans, noting that the U.S. was “working to ensure that our military progress is accompanied by the political and economic gains that are critical to the success of a free Afghanistan.”

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama seemed to suggest that efforts to promote Afghan well-being had indeed been a success: “There is no denying the progress that the Afghan people have made in recent years – in education, in health care and economic development, as I saw in the lights across Kabul when I landed – lights that would not have been visible just a few years earlier.”

So, almost 10 years on, just what are the lives of ordinary Afghans like?  Has childhood mortality markedly improved?  Are women, if not equal in terms of civil rights, at least secure in the knowledge that men are not able to rape them with impunity?  Have all Afghan children – or even most – started on the road to a decent education?

Or how about a more basic question?  After almost a decade of war and tens of billions in international aid, do Afghans have enough to eat?  I recently posed that question to Challiss McDonough of the United Nation’s World Food Program in Afghanistan.

Food Insecurity

In October 2001, the BBC reported that more than seven million people were “at risk of malnutrition or food shortages across Afghanistan.”  In an email, McDonough updated that estimate:  “The most recent data on food insecurity comes from the last National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA), which was conducted in 2007/2008 and released in late October 2009.  It found that about 7.4 million people are food-insecure, roughly 31 percent of the estimated population.  Another 37 percent are considered to be on the borderline of food insecurity, and could be pushed over the edge by shocks such as floods, drought, or conflict-related displacement.”

Food insecurity indicators, McDonough pointed out, are heading in the wrong direction.  “The NRVA of 2007/08 showed that the food security had deteriorated in 25 out of the 34 provinces compared to the 2005 NRVA.  This was the result of a combination of factors, including high food prices, rising insecurity and recurring natural disasters.”  As she also pointed out, “About 36 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and cannot afford basic necessities.  Staple food prices remain higher than they are in neighboring countries, and higher than they were before the global high-food-price crisis began in 2007.”

Recently, the international risk management firm Maplecroft put together a food security index – using 12 criteria developed with the United Nations’ World Food Program – to evaluate the threat to supplies of basic food staples in 163 countries.  Afghanistan ranked dead last and was the only non-African nation among the 10 most food-insecure countries on the planet.

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

During the Soviet occupation of the 1980s and the grim years of Taliban rule in the later 1990s, millions of Afghans fled their country.  While many returned after 2001, large numbers have continued to live abroad.  More than one million registered Afghans reportedly live in Iran.  Another 1.5 million or more undocumented, unregistered Afghan refugees may also reside in that country.  Some 1.7 million or more Afghan refugees currently live in Pakistan – 1.5 million of them in recently flood-ravaged provinces, according to Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the U.N.’s refugee agency.

Many Afghans who still remain in their country cannot return home either.  According to a 2008 report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there were 235,833 internally displaced persons nationwide.  As of the middle of this year, the numbers had reportedly increased to more than 328,000.

Children’s Well-Being

In 2000, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), mortality for children under five years of age stood at 257 per 1,000.  In 2008, the last year for which data was available, that number had not budged.  It had, in fact, only slightly improved since 1990, when after almost a decade of Soviet occupation and brutal warfare, the numbers stood at 260 per 1,000.  The figures were similar for infant mortality – 168 per 1,000 in 1990, 165 per 1,000 in 2008.

In 2002, according to the U.N., about 50% of Afghan children were chronically malnourished.  The most recent comprehensive national survey, done two years into the U.S. occupation, found (according to the World Food Program’s McDonough) about 60% of children under five chronically malnourished.

Childhood education is a rare area of genuine improvement.  Afghan government statistics show steady growth – from 3,083,434 children in primary school in 2002 to 4,788,366 enrolled in 2008.  Still, there are more young children outside than in the classroom, according to 2010 UNICEF numbers, which indicate that approximately five million Afghan children do not attend school – most of them girls.

Many youngsters find themselves on the streets.  Reuters recently reported that there are no fewer than 600,000 street children in Afghanistan.  Shafiqa Zaher, a social worker with Aschiana, a children’s aid group receiving U.S. funds, told reporter Andrew Hammond that most have a home, even if only a crumbling shell of a building, but their caregivers are often disabled and unemployed.  Many are, therefore, forced into child labor.  “Poverty is getting worse in Afghanistan and children are forced to find work,” said Zaher.

In 2002, the U.N. reported that there were more than one million children in Afghanistan who had lost one or both parents.  Not much appears to have changed in the intervening years.I have seen estimates that there are over one million Afghan children whose father or mother is deceased,” Mike Whipple, the Chairman and CEO of International Orphan Care, a U.S.-based humanitarian organization that operates schools and medical clinics in Afghanistan, told me by email recently.

Increasingly, even Afghan youngsters with families are desperate enough to abandon their homeland and attempt a treacherous overland journey to Europe and possible asylum.  This year, UNHCR reported that ever more Afghan children are fleeing their country alone.  Almost 6,000 of them, mostly boys, sought asylum in European countries in 2009, compared to about 3,400 a year earlier.

Women’s Rights

In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush told Congress: “The last time we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school. Today women are free and are part of Afghanistan’s new government.”  Last year, when asked about a new Afghan law sanctioning the oppression of women, President Obama asserted that there were “certain basic principles that all nations should uphold, and respect for women and respect for their freedom and integrity is an important principle.”

Recently, the plight of women in Afghanistan again made U.S. headlines thanks to a shocking TIME magazine cover image of Bibi Aisha, an Afghan whose ears and nose were sliced off after she ran away from her husband’s house.  “What Happens When We Leave Afghanistan” was TIME‘s headline, but reporter Ann Jones, who has worked closely with women in Afghanistan and talked to Bibi Aisha, took issue with the TIME cover in the Nation magazine, pointing out that it was evidently not the Taliban who mutilated Aisha and that the brutal assault took place eight years into the U.S. occupation.  Life for women in Afghanistan has not been the bed of roses promised by Bush nor typified by the basic rights proffered by Obama, as Jones noted:

“Consider the creeping Talibanization of Afghan life under the Karzai government. Restrictions on women’s freedom of movement, access to work and rights within the family have steadily tightened as the result of a confluence of factors, including the neglect of legal and judicial reform and the obligations of international human rights conventions; legislation typified by the infamous Shia Personal Status Law (SPSL), gazetted in 2009 by President Karzai himself despite women’s protests and international furor; intimidation; and violence.”

Her observations are echoed in a recent report by Medica Mondiale, a German non-governmental organization that advocates for the rights of women and girls in war and crisis zones around the world.  As its blunt briefing began, “Nine years after 11 September and the start of the operation ‘Enduring Freedom,’ which justified its commitment not only with the hunt for terrorists, but also with the fight for women’s rights, the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan still is catastrophic.”  Medica Mondiale reported that 80% of all Afghan marriages are still “concluded under compulsion.”

The basic safety of women in Afghanistan in, and well beyond, Taliban-controlled areas has in recent years proven a dismal subject even though the Americans haven’t left.  According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), for instance, 87% of women are subject to domestic abuse.  A 2009 report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that rape “is an everyday occurrence in all parts of the country” and called it a “human rights problem of profound proportions.”  That report continued:

“Women and girls are at risk of rape in their homes and in their communities, in detention facilities and as a result of traditional harmful practices to resolve feuds within the family or community… In the northern region for example, 39 percent of the cases analyzed by UNAMA Human Rights, found that perpetrators were directly linked to power brokers who are, effectively, above the law and enjoy immunity from arrest as well as immunity from social condemnation.”

Afghan women are reportedly turning to suicide as their only solution.

A June report by Sudabah Afzali of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting noted that, according to officials in Herat Province, “cases of suicide amongst women… have increased by 50 per cent over the last year.”  Sayed Naim Alemi, the director of the regional hospital in Herat, noted that 85 cases of attempted suicide recorded in the previous six months had involved women setting themselves on fire or ingesting poison.  In 57 of the cases, the women had died.

A study conducted by former Afghan Deputy Health Minister Faizullah Kakar and released in August gave a sense of the breadth of the problem.  Using Afghan Health Ministry records and hospital reports, Kakar found that an estimated 2,300 women or girls were attempting suicide each year.  Domestic violence, bitter hardships, and mental illness were the leading factors in their decisions. “This is a several-fold increase on three decades ago,” said Kakar.  In addition, he found that about 1.8 million Afghan women and girls between the ages of 15 and 40 are suffering from “severe depression.”

Drug Use

Rampant depression, among both men and women, has led to self-medication.  While opium-poppy cultivation on an almost unimaginable scale in the planet’s leading narco-state has garnered headlines since 2001, little attention has been paid to drug use by ordinary Afghans, even though it has been on a steep upward trajectory.

In 2003, according to Afghanistan’s Public Health Minister Amin Fatimie, there were approximately 7,000 heroin addicts in the capital city, Kabul.  In 2007, that number was estimated to have doubled.  By 2009, UNAMA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) estimated that the city was home to up to 20,000 heroin users and another 20,000 to 25,000 opium users.

Unfortunately, Kabul has no monopoly on the problem.  “Three decades of war-related trauma, unlimited availability of cheap narcotics, and limited access to treatment have created a major, and growing, addiction problem in Afghanistan,” says Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of UNDOC.  Since 2005, the number of Afghan opium users nationwide has jumped by 53%, while heroin users have skyrocketed by 140%.  According to UNODC’s survey, Drug Use in Afghanistan, approximately one million Afghans between the ages of 15 and 64 are addicted to drugs.  That adds up to about 8% of the population and twice the global average.

AIDs and Sex Work

Since the U.S. occupation began, AIDS and HIV, the virus that causes the disease, have reportedly also been on the rise.  In 2002, only eight people tested positive for HIV.  In 2007, Public Health Minister Fatimie reported 61 confirmed cases of AIDS and 2,000 more suspected cases.

Fatamie blamed intravenous drug use for half the cases and the NGO Médecins du Monde, which works with intravenous drug users in Kabul, found that HIV prevalence among such users in the cities of Kabul, Herat, and Mazar had risen from 3% to 7% between 2006 and 2009.  A 2010 report by the Public Health Ministry revealed that knowledge about HIV among intravenous drug users was astonishingly low, that few had ever been tested for the virus, and that of those who admitted to purchasing sex within the previous six months, most confessed to not having used a condom.

This last fact is hardly surprising, given the findings from a recent study by Catherine Todd and colleagues of 520 female sex workers, almost all mothers, in the Afghan cities of Jalalabad, Kabul, and Mazar-i-Sharif.  Only about 30% of the women surveyed reported clients had ever used a condom with them and about 50% had received treatment for a sexually transmitted infection in the three months prior to being interviewed.

The same study also sheds light on the intersection between high-risk behaviors, socio-economic conditions, and the freedom and opportunities promised to Afghan women by Presidents Bush and Obama.  The most common reasons Afghan women engaged in sex work, Todd and colleagues found, were the need to support themselves (50%) or their families (32.4%).  Almost 9% reported being forced into sex work by their families.  Just over 5% turned to prostitution after being widowed, and 1.5% were forced into the profession after they were sexually assaulted and, consequently, found themselves unable to marry.

A Decade of Progress?

In the near-decade since Kabul fell in November 2001, a sizeable majority of Afghans have continued to live in poverty and privation.  Measuring such misery may be impossible, but the United Nations has tried to find a comprehensive way to do so nonetheless.  Using a Human Poverty Index which “focuses on the proportion of people below certain threshold[s] in regard to a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living,” the U.N. found that, comparatively speaking, it doesn’t get worse than life in Afghanistan.  The nation ranks dead last in its listing, number 135 out of 135 countries.  This is what “success” means today in Afghanistan.

The United Nations also ranks countries via a Human Development Index which includes such indicators of well-being as life expectancy, educational attainment, and income.  In 2004, the U.N. and the Afghan government issued the first National Human Development Report.  In its foreword, the publication cautioned:

“As was expected, the report has painted a gloomy picture of the status of human development in the country after two decades of war and destruction. The Human Development Index (HDI) value calculated nationally puts Afghanistan at the dismal ranking of 173 out of 178 countries worldwide. Yet the HDI also presents us with a benchmark against which progress can be measured in the future.”

The only place to go, it seemed, was up.  And yet, in 2009, when the U.N. issued a new Human Development Report, Afghanistan was in even worse shape, ranking number 181 of 182 nations, higher only than Niger.

Almost 10 years of U.S. and allied occupation, development, mentoring, reconstruction aid, and assistance has taken the country from unbearably dismal to something markedly poorer.  And yet even worse is still possible for the long-suffering men, women, and children of Afghanistan.  As the U.S. war and occupation drags on without serious debate about withdrawal on the Washington agenda, questions need to be asked about the fate of Afghan civilians.  Chief among them: How many more years of “progress” can they endure, and if the U.S. stays, how much more “success” can they stand?

September 14, 2010

Copyright © 2010 Nick Turse


Obama and His Family Tied to CIA for Years

Ann Dunham with her husband Lolo Soetoro and c...

Image via Wikipedia

by Sherwood Ross

Recently by Sherwood Ross: The CIA: Beyond Redemption and Should Be Terminated

President Obama – as well as his mother, father, step-father and grandmother – all were connected to the Central Intelligence Agency – possibly explaining why the President praises the “Agency” and declines to prosecute its officials for their crimes.

According to a published report in the September Rock Creek Free Press of Washington, D.C., investigative reporter Wayne Madsen says Obama’s mother Ann Dunham worked “on behalf of a number of CIA front operations, including the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Ford Foundation.” The East-West Center had long been affiliated with CIA activities in the Asia-Pacific region, Madsen says.

What’s more, Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr., arrived in Hawaii from Kenya as part of a CIA program to identify and train Africans who would be useful to the Agency in its Cold War operations against the Soviets, Madsen says. Obama Sr. divorced Ms. Dunham in 1964.

Ms. Dunham married Lolo Soetoro the following year, a man Madsen says assisted in the violent CIA coup against Indonesian President Sukarno that claimed a million lives. Obama’s mother taught English for USAID, “which was a major cover for CIA activities in Indonesia and throughout Southeast Asia,” Madsen reports. That USAID was a cover for CIA covert operations in Laos was admitted by its administrator Dr. John Hannah on Metromedia News. Madsen says the organization was also a cover for the CIA in Indonesia.

Ms. Dunham worked in Indonesia at a time when Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities(MUCIA) – a group that included the University of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota and Indiana – was accused of being a front for CIA activities in Indonesia and elsewhere. Ms. Dunham traveled to Ghana, Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Thailand “working on micro-financing projects” for the CIA, Madsen reports.

And Ms. Dunham’s mother, Madelyn Dunham – who raised Obama while his mother was on assignment in Indonesia – acted as vice president of the Bank of Hawaii in Honolulu, which Madsen says was used by various CIA front entities. She handled escrow accounts used to make CIA payments “to U.S.-supported Asian dictators” including Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu, and President Suharto in Indonesia, Madsen says.

“In effect, the bank was engaged in money laundering for the CIA to prop up covertly its favored leaders in the Asia-Pacific region,” Madsen writes. “It is clear that Dunham Soetoro and her Indonesian husband, President Obama’s step-father, were closely involved in the CIA’s operations to steer Indonesia away from the Sino-Soviet orbit after the overthrow of Sukarno.”

“President Obama’s own work in 1983 for Business International Corporation, a CIA front that conducted seminars with the world’s most powerful leaders and used journalists as agents abroad, dovetails with CIA espionage activities conducted by his mother,” Madsen says. “There are volumes of written material on the CIA backgrounds of George H.W. Bush and CIA-related activities by his father and children, including former President George W. Bush. Barack Obama, on the other hand, cleverly masked his own CIA connections as well as those of his mother, father, step-father, and grandmother,” Madsen points out.

A review of the influence on the Oval Office by the CIA, particularly since the presidency of Bush Sr., a former director of the Agency, it becomes apparent the Agency has played a major role in the shaping of U.S. foreign policy – a role that has been largely kept secret from the American public and one which most Americans would not have approved. The CIA’s overthrow of the democratic government of Iran in 1953 is an example. The overthrow occurred after the Iranian government nationalized the oil industry following alleged cheating on payments by contractor British Petroleum, then known as Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. For another, the CIA’s widespread use of illegal rendition and torture of suspects is repugnant to Americans who still believe in their Constitution.

September 6, 2010

Sherwood Ross [send him mail] has worked for major dailies and wire services and served in an executive capacity in the U.S. civil rights movement. He currently is active in the anti-war movement and operates a public relations firm for good causes.

Copyright © 2010 Sherwood Ross


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