Tag Archives: White House

Washington’s Scandals: The Internet Works Both Ways

Original Article: http://www.thedailybell.com/29127/Washingtons-Scandals-The-Internet-Works-Both-Ways

Reuters: ‘An Increasingly Polarized Washington Is Devouring Its Own’ … Unprecedented Justice Department searches of journalists’ phone records. IRS targeting of conservative political groups. Spiraling sexual assault rates in the military. And the downplaying of the first killing of an American ambassador in 30 years. But Obama‘s failings are only part of the problem. An increasingly polarized Washington is devouring its own. Ceaseless, take-no-prisoners political warfare, not nefarious White House plots, ravages government. – Reuters

Dominant Social Theme: Government needs to work better to avoid crises and scandals.

Free-Market Analysis: On Saturday, we published an editorial with a title very similar to the one in this current Reuters editorial: “Scandal: And They Shall Eat Their Own … ”

The difference between the Daily Bell editorial and the Reuters editorial is instructive. In our editorial, we posited that a reason for the scandals might have to do with the ubiquitous nature of the modern Internet. This was not the only possibility but it was one Anthony Wile found feasible.

This Reuters editorial blames “gridlock.” The Reuters editorial wants us to believe that the current scandals inWashington, DC can be rectified by a more smoothly functioning government. We don’t think that government is much of a solution to anything. We believe such scandals could be rectified by shrinking government, not making it function more effectively.

Here’s more from the article:

In a matter of days, alarming accounts have emerged regarding the actions of five key federal government bureaucracies: the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon.

For commentators on the right, the reports are final proof of the raft of conspiracy theories focused on President Barack Obama. For commentators on left, they are non-scandals that Republicans exaggerate for political gain. Our endless left-right debate – Obama the devil, Obama the angel – misses more serious problems.

… Obama came into office promising openness – but from counter-terrorism to domestic policy, his White House has been secretive, insular and controlling. Yes, Republicans are bent on destroying Obama’s presidency, but an aloof president has alienated his Democratic allies.

Congress is no better. Each two-year term seems to set new standards for political trench warfare. One-third of the committees in the Republican-controlled House are investigating the administration. Some on the far right call for Obama’s impeachment.

You see? The problems faced by the US government have to do with the bad behavior of its actors. Everyone has to shoulder some part of the blame: Obama, Congress, the Pentagon, etc.

But the problem with this logic, in our humble view, starts and ends with the size of government and the pervasiveness of monopoly central banking. It is the availability of a money machine itself that has allowed government to grow to its current dysfunctional size.

And dysfunctional – and titanic – it is. Government at levels in the US must surely spend up to US$4 trillion on, among other things, a dysfunctional public school system, a crumbling industrial infrastructure and a vast domestic spy network complemented by a hugely expensive military-industrial complex. The value of all these expenditures to individual citizens is dubious to say the least.

The system exists, nonetheless, corrupt beyond measure, authoritarian by design and obviously repressive in its actions. Gradually, however, what we call the Internet Reformation is changing this situation.

As more and more information mounts up about destructive government actions in the US – and Europe, too – we would argue it becomes harder and harder to maintain business as usual.

Now, there are probably other reasons for these US scandals to come out now, and certainly there are many competing interests that might want to generate such difficulties. But think about what has come before: a steady drip, drip, drip of revelations that have not been staunched despite the best efforts of those in government and their media enablers.

Controversial reports having to do with President Obama’s birth certificate, election rigging, the destruction of the World Trade Towers and much else have not been excised from the public consciousness with the ruthless efficiency of pre-21st century maneuverings.

It is much more difficult to keep a secret these days, or stop people from speculating about motivations and underlying realities.

Conclusion: Many fear that the Internet is giving government the tools to be more authoritarian than ever. But it works both ways.


RON PAUL ISSUES STATEMENT ON DEBT CEILING DEAL

Ron Paul at the 2007 National Right to Life Co...

Image via Wikipedia

“THIS DEAL DOES NOTHING TO SOLVE OUR SPENDING PROBLEM”

LAKE JACKSONTexas – Today, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul issued a statement outlining his opposition to the debt ceiling deal struck between the White House and Congress. See statement below.

“While it is good to see serious debate about our debt crisis, I cannot support the reported deal on raising the nation’s debt ceiling.  I have never voted to raise the debt ceiling, and I never will.

“This deal will reportedly cut spending by only slightly over $900 billion over 10 years.  But we will have a $1.6 trillion deficit after this year alone, meaning those meager cuts will do nothing to solve our unsustainable spending problem.  In fact, this bill will never balance the budget.  Instead, it will add untold trillions of dollars to our deficit.  This also assumes the cuts are real cuts and not the same old Washington smoke and mirrors game of spending less than originally projected so you can claim the difference as a ‘cut’.”

“The plan also calls for the formation of a deficit commission, which will accomplish nothing outside of providing Congress and the White House with another way to abdicate responsibility.  In my many years of public service, there have been commissions on everything from Social Security to energy policy, yet not one solution has been produced out of these commissions.

“By denying members the ability to offer amendments and only allowing an up-or-down vote that will take place in the hectic time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this Commission essentially disenfranchises the vast majority of members from meaningfully participating in the debate over reducing spending and balancing the budget.  Furthermore, despite the claims of the bill’s proponents, there is nothing to stop the commission from recommending tax increases.

“One of the reasons why I humbly suggest that I am the most qualified Presidential candidate is my experience to see and understand the long track record of failure, disappointments, and bad recommendations made by such commissions.  Times like these require statesmanship and steady leadership, which I and the grassroots activists who have joined my campaign believe I am uniquely qualified to provide.

“What should bother Americans most is that under cover of this debt ceiling circus, we learned from a recent GAO one-time, limited audit that the Federal Reserve secretly pumped $16 trillion into American and foreign banks over three years.  All of the Fed’s fat cat cronies were taken care of at the expense of the American public.

“To put that into perspective, our entire national debt is $14.5 trillion, and our annual deficit will be about $1.6 trillion, meaning the Federal Reserve created and appropriated more than our entire national debt to banks around the world in a few short years.  We have been fighting in Congress these past few weeks over raising our debt ceiling by $2 trillion, an amount the Fed secretly gave away to just one big bank.

“For decades, politicians have promised future restraint in exchange for hikes in the debt limit.  We are always told that we must act immediately to avoid a crisis.  But time and time again, politicians reveal themselves to be untrustworthy, and we soon find ourselves in a crisis being led by the same folks who wish only to maintain the status quo.

“I believe in the great American traditions of free markets, sound money, and personal Liberty.  But we are moving far away from what made us the greatest nation in human history. We must cut spending and balance our budget now, before it is too late.

“Let me be clear.  The cuts we must make will not be easy, and there will be difficult times in the short run.  But I have the greatest confidence that if we come together as a People, work hard, and do the right things, our country will be back on track in no time and on its way to unprecedented prosperity.  But, if we continueto print money and pyramid debt, we will destroy ourselves and lose the promise of America forever.

“These difficult times require a President willing to stand against runaway spending.  If elected, I will veto any spending bill that contributes to an unbalanced budget, and I will balance the budget in the first year of my term.  I will not allow the Federal Reserve to destroy the value of our money by shoveling dollars into the pockets of its banker friends.

“I remain committed to working on behalf of the American people to drastically reduce spending and implement fundamental changes that will reform government and restore our nation’s prosperity.”

 

 www.RonPaul2012.com

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Setting the Government’s Agenda

Source: http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north946.html

by Gary North

Recently by Gary North: Gandhi, Mubarak, and Tough Talkers Who Eventually Slither Away

 

In this report, I am making a point: the country is headed for a fiscal disaster, and there is no broad-based political movement inside the country to put on the brakes. The train is headed for the collapsed trestle, and it is speeding up. The President as the engineer is talking about slowing the train a little, but he has not yet put on the brakes.

 

No one will put on the brakes.

This has enormous consequences for your financial future. You cannot easily get off the train. It is speeding up. The faster it goes, the more expensive it is to get off.

The voters are not aware that there is anything really wrong. They are once again running up credit card debt. They figure that happy days will soon be here again. Yet the deficit is $1.5 trillion. “No big problem!” Congress says. “Nothing that a $100 billion spending cut cannot solve.”

Let’s see if they impose that budget cut.

An indication of the self-conscious surrender to the deficit was an article published by Bloomberg on February 14. “Budget Saves $1.1 Trillion, Cuts Deficit, Lew Says.”

Who is Lew? Why should we care?

The Obama administration‘s 2012 budget would save $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years by cutting programs to rein in a deficit that may reach a record $1.5 trillion this year, White House Budget Director Jacob Lew said. 

“We have to start living within our means,” Lew said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “The notion that we can do this painlessly – it’s not possible to do it painlessly. We’re going to make tough choices.”

 

See the game? It has been financial journalism’s game for at least a decade. The game is to run headlines based on a 10-year savings plan. This is done deliberately to confuse the public, on the assumption that readers – even sophisticated readers – will not read the article or think through the numbers. It is done to calm people. It is a now-universal practice.

A President can serve for only eight years. So, he has no authority to achieve such savings.

A $1.1 trillion savings over 10 years is $110 billion a year. The deficit is $1.5 trillion. This, Mr. Lew assures us, is a “hard choice.”

No, this is an admission that there will be no hard choices until a crisis hits. This is one more guarantee that the President and Congress will kick the fiscal can down the road for another 10 years.

We are talking about an increase in the on-budget Federal debt of at least $10 trillion over the next 10 years.

How will the savings be made?

About two-thirds of the savings would come from a five-year spending freeze and cuts in domestic programs. One-third would come from revenue increases, including limiting itemized tax deductions for the wealthy, an administration official said. 

Some savings would be diverted to increased spending in education, research and development and technology to compete against global rivals, create jobs and reduce the 9 percent unemployment rate, Lew said.

 

What’s that? Savings are defined as “increased spending in education, research and development and technology.” I see. Savings are spending.

This is newspeak, just as George Orwell described it in his novel, Nineteen Eighty Four. Examples: “Love is hate.” “Peace is war.” “Saving is spending.”

The public is buying it personally. “Let’s run up our credit card debt. No problem. Spending is thrift.”

For the first time since August 2008, Americans in December increased credit card debt to $800 billion, up by $2.5 billion in November. Credit card debt is down by 18% since August 2008. It was not just credit card debt. Consumer debt was up, too: autos, student loans, etc. It rose to $1.6 trillion, up $3.8 billion above November. These are not major increases – nothing on a par with Federal debt increases. But the public is buying the government’s line: “No big problem.

The Bloomberg article quoted an unknown minor official under Bush. He says this switch by Obama represents a move to the center, in preparation for 2012. It probably does. The center is commitment to a $1.4 trillion deficit rather than $1.5 trillion.

This is the center of a train rushing for the collapsed trestle.

The article says this will not satisfy Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “we’re broke.” A spending freeze is “way too much.”

Indeed, it is. What is needed is a $1.5 trillion cut in spending. But Mr. Boehner failed to call for that. Nor did any of the 150 economists he cited. (By the way, there are thousands of economists in the country. Where is a single non-Austrian school economist calling for a balanced budget in fiscal 2012?)

House Republicans disclosed plans on Feb. 11 to kill more than 100 U.S. government programs in an effort to cut spending by $61 billion in the budget for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. Lew, on CNN, declined to say whether the White House would support that package.

Wow! A whole $61 billion in cuts! But Mr. Lew failed to join in.

Boehner was asked about prospects of shutting down the government if Republicans can’t reach a compromise with Senate Democrats and Obama on this year’s budget, for which spending authority expires on March 4. 

“Our goal is to reduce spending, it is not to shut down the government,” Boehner said.

 

The article went on and on about billion-dollar cuts. It did not raise the question of the effects of a trillion dollar plus annual deficits. Those deficits are on the table. No one is challenging them, with one exception: Ron Paul.

RON PAUL VS. THE ESTABLISHMENT

I would like to see Ron Paul elected President, but not because I see him as a political messiah. I would like to see him elected because, in order to get elected, he would have to represent a majority of Americans. He does not represent a majority of Americans. He will not be elected. The voters want more of the same. They will get it.

The Conservative Political Action Conference, also known as CPAC, is an annual convention. Conservative politicians who are thinking of running for the Republican party’s presidential candidate show up to rally the conservative troops. Some of them don’t show up, knowing they have no chance at winning the straw poll. Sara Palin is one of these annual no-shows. They can then blame their poor showing on the fact that they did not show up.

In 2010, Congressman Ron Paul won the straw poll. In 2011, he did it again. He did it with this speech – a frontal assault against the agenda of the conservative mainstream.

The mainstream media recognizes Paul for what he is: the nation’s major voice for libertarianism. This understanding is shared by the conservative mainstream media. Fox News recognizes this, and therefore steadfastly opposes Paul. It was Fox News in 2008 that kept Ron Paul off the podium during its broadcasting of the Republican Party’s debates. He was not invited.

The mainstream conservative media want someone who is in favor of the expansion of American Empire. They want someone who will not rock the boat, which would mean sinking the Establishment’s ship of state. They are big government conservatives.

The fact that Ron Paul, for the second year in a row, is the favored candidate of the people at CPAC is an insult to the conservative Establishment. It indicates that large numbers of conservatives are not willing to go along with the basic agenda of the conservative movement, namely, the expansion of Federal power in the realm of foreign policy, and an unwillingness to roll back the New Deal, Fair Deal, New Frontier, Great Society, and all the rest of the bipartisan expansion of the Federal welfare state.

Ron Paul represents an ideological threat to the entire conservative movement. Because of this, it opposes him and does whatever it can to make certain that whatever publicity he receives, and whatever public support he receives, will not be given favorable treatment. The fact is this: there is a large group of people in the conservative movement who are in favor of Ron Paul’s agenda. This is regarded, correctly, as a vote of no-confidence against the conservative Establishment.

It goes without saying that the Republican Establishment, which is to the left of the conservative Establishment, is even less happy with any publicity Ron Paul gets. These people do not want to think about the fact that there are millions of voters out there who are sick and tired of the expansion of the Federal government. These Paulites not only want to stop the expansion of the Federal government, they want to roll back the Federal government.

This is an intolerable thought to the Republican Party Establishment. The Republican Party Establishment is completely in favor of the expansion of the American Empire and the expansion of Federal welfare spending. The Republican Establishment understands that money buys votes, and they want to buy votes.

So, when any reporter approaches a major Republican figure in Congress, and asks what major spending programs must be cut back, or even limited, the Congressman begins to waffle. He refuses to be specific about what, exactly, ought to be cut from the Federal budget. He refuses to give any examples of how the Federal budget deficit can be rolled back from a $1.5 trillion deficit to, say, a $200 billion surplus. We need a surplus in order to repurchase all American debt. There is simply no thought given to the idea that the Federal debt ought to be zero. That has not happened since 1836, and it is not going to happen again.

So, when Ron Paul receives 30% of the straw poll, Mitt Romney receives 23%, and all the rest of the would-be Republican party hopefuls receive single digits, this indicates that the conservatives who attend CPAC are sick and tired of the waffling. They are unwilling to go along to get along. When the rest of the conservatives receive single-digits, including 3% for Sarah Palin and 2% for Huckabee, this indicates that the conservative Establishment is out of touch with the conservative party activists at CPAC. This is an affront to big-government conservatives.

SETTING THE AGENDA

Setting the agenda is the most important single power exercised by any establishment. We are told the President of the United States is the most powerful person on earth. But someone sets the agenda every day for the President. Somebody is in charge of the daily schedule of meetings. That person, not the President of the United States, will determine what issues get considered.

While it is possible for the President to set his own daily schedule, this is never done. Always it is some lower-level figure who schedules who will meet with the President, meaning which topics will be discussed by the President. The person who controls the daily agenda really does set the agenda for probably 80% of what the President decides to think about.

I have never seen a discussion and political science textbook of the procedure by which the daily schedule is set. A man I knew in high school, Dwight Chapin, used to set the schedule for Richard Nixon. He later got caught in the Watergate scandal and went to jail. I wish he would sit down and write a memoir, not on his activities regarding Watergate, but with respect to how, exactly, he set that daily schedule of meetings. I am sure he had to satisfy all kinds of political pressure groups represented within the cabinet. No one ever writes this memoir.

Yet this power of setting the agenda is rarely discussed in specialized studies of the Presidency. The simplest kind of question, namely, who gets in to see the President, is never mentioned. Here is one of the most important single powers anywhere on the face of the earth, and nobody knows exactly how it is done who was not part of the actual procedure. We do not hear discussions on this, and therefore we do not have any real conception of how policy is made in the executive branch of government.

The reason why Ron Paul is such a threat to the conservative Establishment is the fact that he has such a clear-cut agenda. This is obvious to the people who want access to controlling his daily schedule. That person would not be anybody connected with the Republican Party Establishment or anybody connected with the conservative movement’s Establishment. He would have a completely different set of people in charge of his office. It is imperative, therefore, Ron Paul’s candidacy be undermined as much as possible well in advance.

This is why, in the reports on the results of the straw poll, the writers spent almost no time on Ron Paul’s agenda. There was no discussion of why Ron Paul got votes, except to say that somehow he was able to get more of his people to manipulate the straw poll. The question then is this: Why did the also-rans not get their people in to manipulate the straw poll? If Ron Paul was able to get out all those people, it indicates that the others failed to get support. This, I guarantee you, is never discussed by the journalistic hacks who spin the results of the straw poll. They spend time on the other candidates, as if the winner of the straw poll were somehow a secondary figure.

The conservative Establishment has always been able to keep libertarians at arm’s distance from the troops. The mainstream has praised Austrian School economists as theoreticians, but never before has anyone in politics come before the voters to call for the implementation of the Austrian School economists’ agenda. There has only been one other figure in my lifetime who was anywhere near as libertarian Ron Paul. That was Howard Buffett, who served in Congress in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He had no national audience. Nobody outside his district in Omaha, Nebraska had ever heard of him. He was not considered “Presidential timber,” or even Senatorial timber.

So, Ron Paul was the first libertarian politician ever to penetrate the consciousness of the conservative movement. The fact that he has so completely penetrated the consciousness of the conservative movement has mainstream conservatives terrified. It was never supposed to be that anybody who favors the roll-back of the welfare state would ever be able to get the ear of conservative voters. This is what Ron Paul has been able to do.

If you look at the other people who are powerful enough to get the Presidential nomination, other than Mitt Romney, you find that they are pretty much silent on the issue of foreign aid, American military bases abroad, the expansion of the war in Afghanistan, and when exactly the troops ought to be called home. In other words, they are basically behind Obama.

This raises the question: When will anybody in Congress vote to cut American military spending? This raises another question: When will the foreign aid programs be completely eliminated?

END THE FED!

Ron Paul is also known for his position on ending the Federal Reserve System. Nobody in the also-rans has a platform hostile to the Federal Reserve System. It is considered intolerable for any major American political figure to run for President on the platform of ending the Federal Reserve System. This would be a direct assault on the American Establishment. There is no more treasured institution anywhere in the Establishment than the Federal Reserve System. Yet here is a candidate who is basing his agenda on ending the FED.

In short, Ron Paul’s agenda is far too specific for the conservative mainstream to tolerate. He wants to do what the conservative mainstream says it wants to do: cut the Federal budget, stop the expansion of the money supply, stop price inflation, and return to a free-market economy. The conservative mainstream does not really want to do any of these things, and never has. It has always been in favor of expanding the military budget, expanding Federal power outside the borders of the United States, running the world as the world’s policeman, and increasing the money supply on a reasonable basis in order to keep American prosperity rolling. All of this is big government conservatism. All of this has been basic to the conservative movement since 1950.

Who will set the agenda? Will it be people who want to roll back the Federal government? Will it be people who want to constrict the Federal budget? Will it be people who want to end the Federal Reserve System’s ability to bail out the Federal government every time it runs massive deficits? Is it somebody who wants to balance the budget, and not merely balance it, but run a budget surplus, so the government can begin to buy back the Federal debt? No conservative candidate runs on this platform other than Ron Paul.

This is why we can be certain that nothing is going to change in American political life. Ron Paul is not going to get the nomination. The American Establishment will see to this. We will see more deficits, a larger Federal budget, and more inflation. That is all the conservative movement has ever offered to the voters, and it is not going to change now.

In order to set the agenda, the conservative movement in the mainstream financial press must join together in order to confuse the voters. They must persuade the voters that things are not too bad, that there is hope for the future, the Federal deficit is really not so bad after all, and the good news is on the way.

CONCLUSION

There is no way off the train. The train is going to go over the trestle. The Establishment is committed to kicking the fiscal can. There will be no budget cuts. There will be no balanced budgets.

There will be a crisis when the budgets cannot be financed at anything under 20% per annum except by mass inflation by the FED.

Prepare for the crisis. It’s coming.

 

February 16, 2011

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com. He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

Copyright © 2011 Gary North

The Best of Gary North

 

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The Real Ronald Reagan

I was a young man when Reagan ran for office. Disgusted with how my choice in Carter had turned out I voted for Reagan. It was many years until I saw the truth. Murray Rothbard saw it all along. Here is his impression of Reagan after he left office Although I am strongly pro-life, (Rothbard believed in free choice), nevertheless I find myself agreeing with almost everything else he says here. It is quite long, more essay than article, but well worth the effort to understand some of what has gone on the past 50 years or more in America. I am only sorry I did not discover Rothbard until recently since he passed in 1995. I might have come to my senses sooner. Enjoy (E)

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Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy

by Murray N. Rothbard
by Murray N. Rothbard

First published in Liberty, Vol. 2, No. 4, March 1989.


Eight years, eight dreary, miserable, mind-numbing years, the years of the Age of Reagan, are at long last coming to an end. These years have surely left an ominous legacy for the future: we shall undoubtedly suffer from the after-shocks of Reaganism for years to come. But at least Himself will not be there, and without the man Reagan, without what has been called his “charisma,” Reaganism cannot nearly be the same. Reagan’s heirs and assigns are a pale shadow of the Master, as we can see from the performance of George Bush. He might try to imitate the notes of Reagan, but the music just ain’t there. Only this provides a glimmer of hope for America: that Reaganism might not survive much beyond Reagan.

Reagan the Man

Many recent memoirs have filled out the details of what some of us have long suspected: that Reagan is basically a cretin who, as a long-time actor, is skilled in reading his assigned lines and performing his assigned tasks. Donald Regan and others have commented on Ronald Reagan’s strange passivity, his never asking questions or offering any ideas of his own, his willingness to wait until others place matters before him. Regan has also remarked that Reagan is happiest when following the set schedule that others have placed before him. The actor, having achieved at last the stardom that had eluded him in Hollywood, reads the lines and performs the action that others – his script-writers, his directors – have told him to follow.

Sometimes, Reagan’s retentive memory – important for an actor – gave his handlers trouble. Evidently lacking the capacity for reasoned thought, Reagan’s mind is filled with anecdotes, most of them dead wrong, that he has soaked up over the years in the course of reading Reader’s Digest or at idle conversation. Once an anecdote enters Reagan’s noodle, it is set in concrete and impossible to correct or dislodge. (Consider, for example, the famous story about the “Chicago welfare queen”: all wrong, but Reagan carried on regardless.)

In the early years of Reagan rule, the press busily checked out Reagan’s beloved anecdotes, and found that almost every one of them was full of holes. But Reagan never veered from his course. Why? God knows there are plenty of correct stories about welfare cheats that he could have clasped to his bosom; why stick to false ones? Evidently, the reason is that Reagan cares little about reality; he lives in his own Hollywood fantasy world, a world of myth, a world in which it is always Morning in America, a world where The Flag is always flying, but where Welfare Cheats mar the contentment of the Land of Oz. So who cares if theactual story is wrong? Let it stand, like a Hollywood story, as a surrogate for the welfare cheats whom everyone knows do exist.

The degree to which Reagan is out of touch with reality was best demonstrated in his concentration camp story. This was not simply a slip of the tongue, a Bushian confusion of December with September. When the Premier of Israel visited Reagan at the White House, the President went on and on for three quarters of an hour explaining why he was pro-Jewish: it was because, being in the Signal Corps in World War II, he visited Buchenwald shortly after the Nazi defeat and helped to take films of that camp. Reagan repeated this story the following day to an Israeli ambassador. But the truth was 180-degrees different; Reagan was not in Europe; he never saw a concentration camp; he spent the entire war in the safety of Hollywood, making films for the armed forces.

Well, what are we to make of this incident? This little saga stayed in the back pages of the press. By that point the media had realized that virtually nothing – no fact, no dark deed – could ever stick to the Teflon President. (Iran-Contra shook things up a bit, but in a few months even that was forgotten.)

There are only two ways to interpret the concentration camp story. Perhaps Reagan engaged in a bald-faced lie. But why? What would he have to gain? Especially after the lie was found out, as it soon would be. The only other way to explain this incident, and a far more plausible one, is that Ronnie lacks the capacity to distinguish fantasy from reality. He would, at least in retrospect, have liked to be filming at Buchenwald. Certainly, it made a better story than the facts. But what are we to call a man who cannot distinguish fantasy from reality?

It is surely frightening to think that the most powerful position in the world has been held for eight years by a man who cannot tell fact from fancy. Even more frightening is the defection of the media, who early lost heart and played the role of a submissive receptacle for photo opportunities and press-release handouts. One reason for this defection was the discovery of Reagan’s Teflon nature. Another likely reason was that journalists who were too feisty and independent would be deprived of their precious access to the Presidential plane or to inside scoops or leaks from the White House. And a third reason was probably the desire not to dwell on the vital and hair-raising fact that the President of the United States, “the leader of the free world” and all that jazz, is nothing more than a demented half-wit.

But why the Teflon? Because of the incredible love affair that Ronald Reagan has enjoyed with the American people. In all my years of fascination with American politics (my early childhood memories are couched in terms of who was President or who was Mayor of New York City or who won what election), I have never seen anything remotely like it. Anyone else universally beloved? Franklin D. Roosevelt was worshipped, to be sure, by most of the American electorate, but there was always a large and magnificent minority who detested every inch of his guts. Truman? He was almost universally reviled in his time; he has only been made an icon in retrospect by the conservative movement. Jack Kennedy, too, is only a hero now that he has been safely interred; before his assassination he was cordially detested by all conservatives. Nobody ever loved Nixon. The closest to universal lovability was Ike, and even he did not inspire the intense devotion accorded to Ronnie Reagan; with Ike it was more of a tranquilized sense of peace and contentment.

But with Reagan, it has been pure love: every nod of the head; every wistful “We-e-ll,” every dumb and flawed anecdote, every snappy salute, sends virtually every American into ecstasy. From all corners of the land came the cry, “I don’t like his policies very much, but I lo-o-ve the man.” Only a few malcontents, popping up here and there, in a few obscure corners of the land, emerged as dedicated and bitter opponents. As one of this tiny minority I can testify that it was a lonely eight years, even within the ranks of the libertarian movement. Sometimes I felt like a lone and unheeded prophet, bringing the plain truth to those who refused to understand. Very often I would be at free-market gatherings, from living rooms to conferences, and I would go on and on about the deficiencies of Reagan’s policies and person, and would be met with responses like “Well of course, he’s not a PhD.”

Me: “No, no, that’s not the point. The man is a blithering idiot. He makes Warren Harding tower like Aristotle.”

Responder: “Ronald Reagan has made us feel good about America.”

Perhaps that’s part of the explanation for the torrent of unconditional love that the American public has poured onto Ronald Reagan. Lost in Hollywood loony-land, Ronnie’s sincere optimism struck a responsive chord in the American masses. The ominous fact that he “made us” feel good about the American State and not just about the country is lost even on many libertarians.

But, in that case, why didn’t Hubert Humphrey’s egregious “politics of joy” evoke the same all-inclusive love? I don’t know the answer, but I’m convinced it’s not simply because Hubert was captive to the dreaded “L-word’ whereas Ronnie is a conservative. It’s lot deeper than that. One of the remarkably Teflon qualities of Reagan is that, even after many years as President, he is still able to act as if he were totally separate from the actions of the government. He can still denounce the government in the same ringing terms he used when he was out of power. And he gets away with it, probably because inside his head, he is still Ronnie Reagan, the mother of anti-government anecdotes as lecturer for General Electric.

In a deep sense, Reagan has not been a functioning part of the government for eight years. Off in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land he is the obedient actor who recites his lines and plays his appointed part. Some commentators have been critical of Reagan for napping in the afternoons, for falling asleep at crucial meetings, for taking long vacations at his beloved ranch. Well, why not? What else does he have to do? Reagan doesn’t actually have to do anything; like Peter Sellers in his last film, all he has to do is be there,the beloved icon, giving his vital sanction to the governmental process.

Reagan’s handlers perceived early on that one threat to Reagan’s Teflon rule would be allowing him to mix it up with members of the press. Away from his teleprompter, Ronnie was a real problem. So very soon, any sort of real press conference, including uninhibited questions and answers, was done away with. The only press “conferences” became shouted questions as Reagan walked quickly to and from the White House helicopter. One of his handlers has written that, despite all efforts, they couldn’t stop Reagan from exercising one peculiar personality trait: his compulsion to answer every question that he hears. But fortunately, not much was risked, since the noise of the helicopter engines would drown out most of the repartee.

The worst moment for the Reagan handlers came, of course during the first debate with Mondale in 1984. For one glorious moment, during the give and take of the debate, the real Reagan emerged: confused, befuddled, out of it. It was a shaky moment, but all the handlers needed to do was to reassure the shocked masses that their beloved President was still sentient, was still there to be a totem to his flock. The handlers blamed Reagan’s showing on “over coaching” they made sure that he slept a lot just before the second debate, and they fed him a snappy mock self-deprecating one-liner about his age. The old boy could still remember his jokes: he got off his lovable crack, and the American masses, with a sigh of relief, clasped him to their bosoms once again.

The Reagan Years: Libertarian Rhetoric, Statist Policies

How did Reagan manage to pursue egregiously statist policies in the name of liberty and of “getting government off our backs?” How was he able to follow this course of deception and mendacity?

Don’t try to get Ronnie off the hook by blaming Congress. Like the general public – and all too many libertarians – Congress was merely a passive receptacle for Ronnie’s wishes. Congress passed the Reagan budgets with a few marginal adjustments here and there – and gave him virtually all the legislation, and ratified all the personnel, he wanted. For one Bork there are thousands who made it. The last eight years have been a Reagan Administration for the Gipper to make or break.

There was no “Reagan Revolution.” Any “revolution” in the direction of liberty (in Ronnie’s words “to get government off our backs”) would reduce the total level of government spending. And that means reduce in absolute terms, not as proportion of the gross national product, or corrected for inflation, or anything else. There is no divine commandment that the federal government must always be at least as great a proportion of the national product as it was in 1980. If the government was a monstrous swollen Leviathan in 1980, as libertarians were surely convinced, as the inchoate American masses were apparently convinced and as Reagan and his cadre claimed to believe, then cutting government spending was in order. At the very least, federal government spending should have been frozen, in absolute terms, so that the rest of the economy would be allowed to grow in contrast. Instead, Ronald Reagan cut nothing, even in the heady first year, 1981.

At first, the only “cut” was in Carter’s last-minute loony-tunes estimates for the future. But in a few short years, Reagan’s spending surpassed even Carter’s irresponsible estimates. Instead, Reagan not only increased government spending by an enormous amount – so enormous that it would take a 40 percent cut to bring us back to Carter’s wild spending totals of 1980 – he even substantially increased the percentage of government spending to GNP. That’s a “revolution”?

The much-heralded 1981 tax cut was more than offset by two tax increases that year. One was “bracket creep,” by which just inflation wafted people into higher tax brackets, so that with the same real income (in terms of purchasing power) people found themselves paying a higher proportion of their income in taxes, even though the official tax rate went down. The other was the usual whopping increase in Social Security taxes which, however, don’t count, in the perverse semantics of our time, as “taxes”; they are only “insurance premiums.” In the ensuing years the Reagan Administration has constantly raised taxes – to punish us for the fake tax cut of 1981 – beginning in 1982 with the largest single tax increase in American history, costing taxpayers $100 billion.

Creative semantics is the way in which Ronnie was able to keep his pledge never to raise taxes while raising them all the time. Reagan’s handlers, as we have seen, annoyed by the stubborn old coot’s sticking to “no new taxes,” finessed the old boy by simply calling the phenomenon by a different name. If the Gipper was addled enough to fall for this trick, so did the American masses – and a large chuck of libertarians and self-proclaimed free-market economists as well! “Let’s close another loophole, Mr. President.” “We-e-ell, OK, then, so long as we’re not raising taxes.” (Definition of loophole: Any and all money the otherguy has earned and that hasn’t been taxed away yet. Your money, of course, has been fairly earned, and shouldn’t be taxed further.)

Income tax rates in the upper brackets have come down. But the odious bipartisan “loophole closing” of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 – an act engineered by our Jacobin egalitarian “free market” economists in the name of “fairness” – raised instead of lowered the income tax paid by most upper-income people. Again: what one hand of government giveth, the other taketh away, and then some. Thus, President-elect Bush has just abandoned his worthy plan to cut the capital gains tax in half, because it would violate the beloved tax fairness instituted by the bipartisan Reganite 1986 “reform.”

The bottom line is that tax revenues have gone up an enormous amount under the eight years of Reagan; the only positive thing we can say for them is that revenues as percentage of the gross national product are up only slightly since 1980. The result: the monstrous deficit, now apparently permanently fixed somewhere around $200 billion, and the accompanying tripling of the total federal debt in the eight blessed years of the Reagan Era. Is that what the highly touted “Reagan Revolution” amounts to, then? A tripling of the national debt?

We should also say a word about another of Ronnie’s great “libertarian” accomplishments. In the late 1970’s, it became obvious even to the man in the street that the Social Security System was bankrupt, kaput. For the first time in fifty years there was an excellent chance to get rid of the biggest single racket that acts as a gigantic Ponzi scheme to fleece the American taxpayer. Instead, Reagan brought in the famed “Randian libertarian” Alan Greenspan, who served as head of a bipartisan commission, performing the miracle of “saving Social Security” and the masses have rested content with the system ever since. How did he “save” it? By raising taxes (oops “premiums”), of course; by that route, the government can “save” any program. (Bipartisan: both parties acting in concert to put both of their hands in your pocket.)

The way Reagan-Greenspan saved Social Security is a superb paradigm of Reagan’s historical function in all areas of his realm; he acted to bail out statism and to co-opt and defuse any libertarian or quasi-libertarian opposition. The method worked brilliantly, for Social Security and other programs.

How about deregulation? Didn’t Ronnie at least deregulate the regulation-ridden economy inherited from the evil Carter? Just the opposite. The outstanding measures of deregulation were all passed by the Carter Administration, and, as is typical of that luckless President, the deregulation was phased in to take effect during the early Reagan years, so that the Gipper could claim the credit. Such was the story with oil and gas deregulation (which the Gipper did advance from September to January of 1981); airline deregulation and the actual abolition of the Civil Aeronautics Board, and deregulation of trucking. That was it.

The Gipper deregulated nothing, abolished nothing. Instead of keeping his pledge to abolish the Departments of Energy and Education, he strengthened them, and even wound up his years in office adding a new Cabinet post, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Overall, the quantity and degree of government regulation of the economy was greatly increased and intensified during the Reagan years. The hated OSHA, the scourge of small business and at the time the second most-hated agency of federal government (surely you need not ask which is the first most-hated), was not only not abolished; it too was strengthened and reinforced. Environmentalist restrictions were greatly accelerated, especially after the heady early years when selling off some public lands was briefly mentioned, and the proponents of actually using and developing locked-up government resources (James Watt, Anne Burford, Rita Lavelle) were disgraced and sent packing as a warning to any future “anti-environmentalists.”

The Reagan Administration, supposedly the champion of free trade, has been the most protectionist in American history, raising tariffs, imposing import quotas, and – as another neat bit of creative semantics – twisting the arms of the Japanese to impose “voluntary” export quotas on automobiles and microchips. It has made the farm program the most abysmal of this century: boosting price supports and production quotas, and paying many more billions of taxpayer money to farmers so that they can produce less and raise prices to consumers.

And we should never forget a disastrous and despotic program that has received unanimous support from the media and from the envious American public: the massive witch hunt and reign of terror against the victimless non-crime of “insider trading.” In a country where real criminals – muggers, rapists, and “inside” thieves – are allowed to run rampant, massive resources and publicity are directed toward outlawing the use of one’s superior knowledge and insight in order to make profits on the market.

In the course of this reign of terror, it is not surprising that freedom of speech was the first thing to go by the boards. Government spies and informers busily report conversations over martinis (“Hey Joe, I heard that XYZ Corp. is going to merge with ABC.”) All this is being done by the cartelizing and fascistic Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice and its much-hailed Savanarola in New York, Rudolf Giuliani. All this is the work of the beloved Gipper, the “free-market,” “libertarian” Reagan Administration. And where are the “conservative libertarians”? Where are the “free market economists” to point this out and condemn it?

Foreign aid, a vast racket by which American taxpayers are mulcted in order to subsidize American export firms and foreign governments (mostly dictatorships), has been vastly expanded under Reagan. The Administration also encouraged the nation’s banks to inflate and pour money down Third World rat-holes; then bailed out the banks and tin-pot socialist dictatorships at the expense of U.S. taxpayers (via tax increases) and consumers (via inflation). Since the discrediting of Friedmanite monetarism by the end of the first Reagan term, the original monetarist policy of allowing the dollar to fluctuate freely has been superseded by Keynesian Secretary of Treasury James Baker, who has concerted with foreign central banks to try to freeze the dollar within various zones. The interference has been, as usual, futile and counterproductive, but that will not stop the soon-to-be even more powerful Baker from trying to fulfill, or at least move strongly toward, the old Keynesian dream of one world fiat paper currency (or at least fixed exchange rates of the various national currencies) issued by one world Central Bank – in short, economic world government.

But didn’t Ronnie “bring down inflation”? Sure, but he did it, not by some miracle, but the old-fashioned way: by the steepest recession (read: depression) since the 1930s. And now, as a result of his inflationary monetary policies, inflation is back with a roar – which the Teflon President will leave as one of his great legacies to the Bush Administration.

And then there is another charming legacy: the reckless inflationary course, encouraged by the Reagan Administration, of the nation’s savings-and-loan banks. Virtually the entire industry is now bankrupt, and FDIC – the federal agency supposedly “insuring” S&L depositors – is bankrupt. Instead of allowing the banks and their deluded depositors to pay the price of their profligacy, everyone of both parties, including our “free-market” Reaganauts, is prepared to use taxpayer money or the printing press to bail out the entire industry – to the tune of an estimated 50 to 100 billion dollars. (These estimates, by the way, come from government sources, which notoriously underestimate future costs of their programs.)

I have been cleaving to the strictly economic realm because even the staunchest pro-Reagan libertarian will not dare to claim that Ronnie has been a blessing for civil liberties. On the contrary. In addition to his reign of terror on Wall Street (who cares about the civil liberties of stock traders anyway?), Reagan worked to escalate toward infinity the insane “war against drugs.” Far from the 1970s movement toward repealing marijuana laws, an ever greater flow of men and resources – countless billions of dollars – are being hysterically poured into combating a drug “problem” that clearly gets worse in direct proportion to the intensity of the “war.”

The outbreak of drug fascism, moreover, is a superb illustration of the interconnectedness of civil liberty and economic freedom. Under cover of combating drugs, the government has cracked down on our economic and financial privacy, so that carrying cash has become prima fade evidence of “laundering” drug money. And so the government steps up its long-cherished campaign to get people to abstain from cash and into using government-controlled banks. The government is already insinuating foreign exchange controls – now the legal obligation to “report” large amounts of cash taken out of the country – into our personal and economic life.

And every day more evil drugs are being found that must be denounced and outlawed: the latest is the dread menace of anabolic steroids. As part of this futile war, we are being urged by the Reaganites to endure compulsory urine testing (supervised, of course, since otherwise the testee might be able to purchase and substitute black market drug-free urine). In this grotesque proposal, government is not onlynot off our backs, it is now also insisting on joining us in the bathroom.

And in the bedroom, too, if Ronnie has his way. Although abortion is not yet illegal, it is not for lack of effort by the Reagan Administration. The relentless Reaganite drive to conservatize the judiciary will likely recriminalize abortion soon, making criminals out of millions of American women each year. George Bush, for less than twenty-four glorious hours, was moved to take a consistent position: if abortion is murder, then all women who engage in abortion are murderers. But it took only a day for his handlers to pull George back from the abyss of logic, and to advocate only criminalizing the doctors, the hired hands of the women who get abortions.

Perhaps the Gipper cannot be directly blamed – but certainly he has set the moral climate – for the increasingly savage Puritanism of the 1980s: the virtual outlawry of smoking, the escalating prohibition of pornography, even the partial bringing back of Prohibition (outlawing drunken driving, raising the legal drinking age to 21, making bartenders – or friendly hosts – legally responsible for someone else’s drunken driving, etc.).

Under Reagan, the civil liberties balance has been retipped in favor of the government and against the people: restricting our freedom to obtain government documents under the Freedom of Information Act and stepping up the penalties on privately printed and disseminated news about activities of the government, on the one hand; more “freedom” for our runaway secret police, the CIA, to restrict the printing of news, and to wiretap private individuals, on the other. And to cap its hypocrisy, as it escalated its war on drugs, the Reagan Administration looked the other way on drug running by its own CIA.

On foreign policy, the best we can say about Ronnie is that he did not launch World War III. Apart from that, his foreign policy was a series of murdering blunders:

  • His idiotic know-nothing intervention into the cauldron of Lebanon, resulting in the murder of several hundred US Marines.
  • His failed attempt – lauded by Reaganites ever since – to murder Colonel Khadafy by an air strike – and succeeding instead in slaying his baby daughter, after which our media sneered at Khadafy for looking haggard, and commented that the baby was “only adopted.”
  • His stumblebum intervention into the Persian Gulf, safeguarding oil tankers of countries allied to Iraq in the Iraq–Iran war. (Ironically, the US. imports practically no oil from the Gulf, unlike Western Europe and Japan, where there was no hysteria and who certainly sent no warships to the Gulf.) In one of the most bizarre events in the history of warfare, the Iraqi sinking of the U.S.S. Stark was dismissed instantly – and without investigation, and in the teeth of considerable evidence to the contrary – as an “accident,” followed immediately by blaming Iran (and using the sinking as an excuse to step up our pro-Iraq intervention in the war). This was followed by a US warship’s sinking of a civilian Iranian airliner, murdering hundreds of civilians, and blaming – you guessed it! – the Iranian government for this catastrophe. More alarming than these actions of the Reagan Administration was the supine and pusillanimous behavior of the media, in allowing the Gipper to get away with all this.

As we all know only too well, the height of Reagan’s Teflon qualities came with Iran-Contra. At the time, I naïvely thought that the scandal would finish the bastard off. But no one saw anything wrong with the Administration’s jailing private arms salesmen to Iran, while at the very same time engaging in arms sales to Iran itself. In Reagan’s America, apparently anything, any crookery, any aggression or mass murder, is OK if allegedly performed for noble, patriotic motives. Only personal greed is considered a no-no.

I have not yet mentioned the great foreign-policy triumph of the Reagan Administration: the invasion and conquest of tiny Grenada, a pitiful little island-country with no army, air force, or navy. A “rescue” operation was launched to save US medical students who never sought our deliverance. Even though the enemy consisted of a handful of Cuban construction workers, it still took us a week to finish the Grenadans off, during the course of which the three wings of our armed forces tripped over each other and our military distinguished itself by bombing a Grenadan hospital. The operation was as much a botch as the Carter attempt to rescue the American hostages. The only difference was that this time the enemy was helpless.

But we won didn’t we? Didn’t we redeem the US loss in Vietnam and allow America to “stand tall”? Yes, we did win. We beat up on a teeny country; and even botched that! If that is supposed to make Americans stand tall, then far better we sit short. Anyway, it’s about time we learned that Short is Beautiful.

The US war against the Sandinistas on the other hand, which has been conducted at enormous expense and waged hand-in-hand with Guatemalan, Honduran, and Salvadoran dictators, is going down the drain, despite illegal CIA mining of harbors and injury to neutral shipping. Even the nearly comatose American public is giving up on the idea of supporting bandit guerrillas, so long as they are anti-Communist, despite the best efforts of Ollie and Secord and Singlaub and Abrams and all the rest of the war crowd.

The Reagan Administration’s continued aid and support to Pol Pot in Cambodia, the most genocidal butcher of our time, is more reprehensible but less visible to most Americans. As a result, Pol Pot’s thugs are mobilizing at this very moment on the Thai border to return and take over Cambodia as soon as the Vietnamese pull out, presumably to renew their bizarre mass murders. But you see, that’s okay with the Reaganites because the Cambodian Commies are guerrilla fighters against the Vietnamese (pro-Soviet) Commies, who by definition are evil. Pol Pot’s butchers as “freedom fighters” show us that, in the arsenal of the Reaganite Right, “freedom,” like “taxes” and many other crucial words, means, as in the case of Humpty Dumpty, whatever they choose it to.

Grenada was the perfect war as far as many conservatives (and apparently much of the American public) were concerned: it was quick and easy to win, with virtually no risk of loss, and allowed ample opportunities to promote the military (and their Commander-in-Chief) as heroes while bragging up the victory on television – in short, allowing the U.S. to glory in its status as a bully. (It helped eradicate the awful memory of Vietnam, which was the perfect war for American centrist liberals: virtually impossible to win, horribly expensive in terms of men and property – and best of all, it could go on forever without resolution, like the War on Poverty, fueling their sense of guilt while providing safe but exciting jobs for members of their techno-bureaucratic class.)

While the American masses do not want war with Russia or even aid to the bandit Contras, they do want an ever-expanding military and other aggravated symbols of a “strong,” “tough” America, an America that will, John Wayne-like, stomp on teeny pests like Commie Grenada, or, perhaps, any very small island that might possess the tone and the ideology of the Ayatollah.

Setting the Stage: The Anti-Government Rebellion of the 1970s

I am convinced that the historic function of Ronald Reagan was to co-opt, eviscerate and ultimately destroy the substantial wave of anti-governmental, and quasi-libertarian, sentiment that erupted in the U.S. during the 1970s. Did he perform this task consciously? Surely too difficult a feat for a man barely compos. No, Reagan was wheeled into performing this task by his Establishment handlers.

The task of co-optation needed to be done because the 1970s, particularly 1973–75, were marked by an unusual and striking conjunction of crisis – crises that fed on each other to lead to a sudden and cumulative disillusionment with the federal government. It was this symbiosis of anti-government reaction that led me to develop my “case for libertarian optimism” during the mid-1970’s, in the expectation of a rapid escalation of libertarian influence in America.

1973–74 saw the abject failure of the Nixon wage-price control program, and the development of something Keynesians assumed could never happen: the combination of double-digit inflation and a severe recession. High unemployment and high inflation happened again, even more intensely, during the greater recession of 1979–82. Since Keynesianism rests on the idea that government should pump in spending during recessions and take out spending during inflationary booms, what happenswhen both occur at the same time? As Rand would say: Blankout! There is no answer. And so, there was disillusionment in the government’s handling of the macro-economy, deepening during the accelerating inflation of the 1970s and the beginnings of recession in 1979.

At the same time, people began to be fed up, increasingly and vocally, with high taxes: income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, you name it. Especially in the West, an organized tax rebel movement developed, with its own periodicals and organizations However misguided strategically, the spread of the tax rebellion signaled a growing disillusion with big government. I was privileged to be living in California during the election year of 1978, when Proposition 13 was passed. It was a genuinely inspiring sight. In the face of hysterical opposition and smears from the entire California Establishment Democratic and Republican, Big Business and labor, academia, economists, and all of the press the groundswell for Prop 13 burgeoned. Everyone was against it but the people. If the eventual triumph of Ronald Reagan is the best case against “libertarian populism,” Prop. 13 was the best case in its favor.

Also exhilarating was the smashing defeat of US imperialism in Vietnam in 1975 – exhilarating because this first loss of a war by the United States, many of us believed, was bound to get Americans to rethink the disastrous warmongering bipartisan foreign policy that had plagued us since the unlamented days of Woodrow Wilson.

On the civil liberties front, the de facto legalization of marijuana was a sign that the nonsense of drug prohibition would soon be swept away. (Ye gods! Was that only a decade ago?) Inflationary recession; high taxes; prohibition laws; defeat in foreign war; across the board, the conditions seemed admirable for a growing and triumphant libertarianism.

And to top it off, the Watergate crisis (my particular favorite) destroyed the trust of the American masses in the Presidency. For the first time in over a hundred years, the concept of impeachment of the President became, first thinkable, and then a living and glorious process. For a while, I feared that Jimmy Carter, with his lovable cardigan sweater, would restore Americans’ faith in their president, but soon that fear proved groundless.

Surely, it is no accident that it was precisely in this glorious and sudden anti-government surge that libertarian ideas and libertarian scholarship began to spread rapidly in the United States. And it was in 1971 that the tiny Libertarian Party emerged, in 1972 that its first, embryonic presidential candidacy was launched, and 1973 when its first important race was run, for mayor of New York City. The Libertarian Party continued to grow rapidly, almost exponentially, during the 1970s, reaching a climax with the Clark campaign for governor of California during the Prop 13 year of 1978, and with the Clark campaign for the Presidency in 1980. The morning my first article on libertarianism appeared in the New York Times in 1971, a very bright editor at Macmillan, Tom Mandel, called me and asked me to write a book on the subject (it was to become For a New Liberty). Not a libertarian himself, Mandel told me that he believed that libertarianism would become a very important ideology in a few years – and he turned out to be right.

So libertarianism was on a roll in the 1970s. And then Something Happened.

Enter the Neocons

What happened was Ronald Wilson Blithering Reagan. Obviously Reagan did not suddenly descend out of the clouds in 1980. He had been the cherished candidate of the conservative movement, its chosen route to power, ever since Goldwater’s defeat. Goldwater was too blunt and candid, too much an unhandleable Real Person. What was needed was a lovable, manipulable icon. Moreover, Goldwater’s principles were too hard-edged: he was way too much a domestic libertarian, and he was too much an eager warmonger. Both his libertarianism and his passion for nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union scared the bejesus out of the American masses, as well as the more astute leadership of the conservative movement.

A reconstituted conservative movement would have to drop any libertarian ideology or concrete policies, except to provide a woolly and comfortable mood for suitably gaseous anti-government rhetoric and an improved foreign policy that would make sure that many more billions would go into the military-industrial complex, to step up global pressure against Communism, butavoiding an actual nuclear war. This last point was important: As much as they enjoy the role of the bully, neither the Establishment nor the American people want to risk nuclear war, which might, after all, blow them up as well. Once again, Ronnie Reagan looked like the Answer.

Two important new ingredients entered into, and helped reshape, the conservative movement during the mid 1970’s. One was the emergence of a small but vocal and politically powerful group of neo-conservatives (neocons), who were able, in a remarkably short time, to seize control of the think tanks, the opinion-molding institutions, and finally the politics, of the conservative movement. As ex-liberals, the neocons were greeted as important new converts from the enemy. More importantly, as ex-Trotskyites, the neocons were veteran politicos and organizers, schooled in Marxian cadre organizing and in manipulating the levers of power. They were shrewdly eager to place their own people in crucial opinion molding and money-raising positions, and in ousting those not willing to submit to the neocon program. Understanding the importance of financial support, the neocons knew how to sucker Old Right businessmen into giving them the monetary levers at their numerous foundations and think tanks. In contrast to free-market economists, for example, the neocons were eager to manipulate patriotic symbols and ethical doctrines, doing the microequivalent of Reagan and Bush’s wrapping themselves in the American Flag. Wrapping themselves, also, in such patriotic symbols as The Framers and the Constitution, as well as Family Values, the neocons were easily able to outflank free-market types and keep them narrowly confined to technical economic issues. In short the neocons were easily able to seize the moral and patriotic “high ground.”

The only group willing and able to challenge the neocons on their own moralizing on philosophic turf was, of course, the tiny handful of libertarians; and outright moral libertarianism, with its opposition to statism, theocracy, and foreign war, could never hope to get to first base with conservative businessmen, who, even at the best of times during the Old Right era, had never been happy about individual personal liberty, (e.g. allowing prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, or drugs) or with the libertarians’ individualism and conspicuous lack of piety toward the Pentagon, or toward the precious symbol of the Nation-State, the US flag.

The neocons were (and remain today) New Dealers, as they frankly describe themselves, remarkably without raising any conservative eyebrows. They are what used to be called, in more precise ideological days, “extreme right-wing Social Democrats.” In other words, they are still Roosevelt-Truman-Kennedy-Humphrey Democrats. Their objective, as they moved (partially) into the Republican Party and the conservative movement, was to reshape it to become, with minor changes, a Roosevelt-Truman-etc. movement; that is, a liberal movement shorn of the dread “L” word and of post-McGovern liberalism. To verify this point all we have to do is note how many times Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, et al., properly reviled by conservatives while they were alive, are now lauded, even canonized, by the current neocon-run movement, from Ronnie Reagan on down. And no one calls them on this Orwellian revision of conservative movement history.

As statists-to-the-core the neocons had no problem taking the lead in crusades to restrict individual liberties, whether it be in the name of rooting out “subversives,” or of inculcating broadly religious (“Judeo-Christian”) or moral values. They were happy to form a cozy alliance with the Moral Majority, the mass of fundamentalists who entered the arena of conservative politics in the mid-1970s. The fundamentalists were goaded out of their quietist millenarian dreams (e.g., the imminent approach of Armageddon) and into conservative political action by the accumulation of moral permissivism in American life. The legalization of abortion in Roe v. Wade was undoubtedly the trigger, but this decision came on top of a cumulative effect of the sexual revolution, the militant homosexual movement “out of the closet” and into the streets, the spread of pornography, and the visible decay of the public school system. The entry of the Moral Majority transformed American politics, not the least by furnishing the elite cadre of neocons with a mass base to guide and manipulate.

In economic matter, the neocons showed no more love of liberty, though this is obscured by the fact that the neocons wish to trim the welfare state of its post-Sixties excrescences, particularly since these were largely designed to aid black people. What the neocons want is a smaller, more “efficient” welfare state, within which bounds they would graciously allow the market to operate. The market is acceptable as a narrow instrumental device; their view of private property and the free market is essentially identical to Gorbachev’s in the Soviet Union.

Why did the Right permit itself to be bamboozled by the neocons? Largely because the conservatives had been inexorably drifting Stateward in the same manner. In response to the crushing defeat of Goldwater, the Right had become ever less libertarian and less principled, and ever more attuned to the “responsibilities” and moderations of Power. It is a far cry from three decades ago when Bill Buckley used to say that he too is an “anarchist” but that we have to put off all thoughts of liberty until the “international Communist conspiracy” is crushed. Those old Chodorovian libertarian days are long gone, and so isNational Review as any haven for libertarian ideas. War mongering, militarism, theocracy, and limited “free” markets – this is really what Buckleyism amounted to by the late 1970s.

The burgeoning neocons were able to confuse and addle the Democratic Party by breaking with the Carter Administration, at the same time militantly and successfully pressuring it from within. The neocons formed two noisy front groups, the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger. By means of these two interlocking groups and their unusual access to influential media, the neocons were able to pressure the Carter Administration into breaking the détente with Russia over the Afghanistan imbroglio and influencing Carter to get rid of the dove Cyrus Vance as Secretary of State and to put foreign policy power into the hands of the Polish émigré hawk and Rockefeller Trilateralist, Zbigniew Brzezinski. In the meantime, the neocons pushed the hysterically hawkish CIA “B” Team report, wailing about alleged Soviet nuclear superiority, which in turn paved the way for the vast gift of spending handed to the military-industrial complex by the incoming Regan Administration. The Afghanistan and “B” Team hysterias, added to the humiliation by the Ayatollah, managed not only to kill off the bedeviled Carter Administration, but also to put the boots to non-intervention and to prepare the nation for a scrapping of the “post-Vietnam syndrome” and a return to the warmongering of the pre-Vietnam Era.

The Reagan candidacy of 1980 was brilliantly designed to weld a coalition providing the public’s instinctive anti-government mood with sweeping, but wholly nonspecific, libertarian rhetoric, as a convenient cover for the diametrically opposite policies designed to satisfy the savvy and politically effective members of that coalition: the neocons, the Buckleyite cons, the Moral Majority, the Rockefellers, the military-industrial complex, and the various Establishment special interests always clustering at the political trough.

Intellectual Corruption

In the face of the stark record, how were the Reaganites able to get away with it? Where did Ronnie get his thick coat of Teflon? Why was he able to follow statist policies and yet convince everyone, including many alleged libertarians, that he was successfully pursuing a “revolution” to get government off our backs?

The essential answer was provided a century ago by Lysander Spooner. Why does the public obey the State, and go further to endorse statist policies that benefit the Power Elite at the public’s own expense? The answer, wrote Spooner, is that the State is supported by three powerful groups: knaves, who know what is going on and benefit from State rule; dupes, who are fooled into thinking that State rule is in their and everyone else’s interest; and cowards, who know the truth but are afraid to proclaim that the emperor has no clothes. I think we can refine Spooner’s analysis and merge the Knave and Coward categories; after all, the renegade sellout confronts the carrot and the stick: the carrot of wealth, cushy jobs, and prestige if he goes along with the Emperor; and the stick of scorn, exclusion from wealth, prestige, and jobs – and perhaps worse – if he fails to go along. The reason that Reagan got away with it – in addition to his aw-shucks “lovability” – is that various powerful groups were either duped or knave-cowardly corrupted into hailing his alleged triumphs and deep-sixing his evident failures.

First, the powerful opinion-molding media. It is conventional wisdom that media people are biased in favor of liberalism, No doubt. But that is not important, because the media, especially elite media who have the most to lose, are also particularly subject to the knave/coward syndrome. If they pander to Reaganism, they get the approval of the deluded masses, their customers, and they get the much-sought-after access to the President and to other big-wigs in government. And access means scoops, carefully planted exclusive leaks, etc. Any sort of effective opposition to the President means, on the other hand, loss of access; the angering of Reagan-deluded masses; and also the angering of their bosses, the owners of the press and television, who are far more conservative than their journalist employees.

One of Reagan’s most notable achievements was his emasculation of the liberal media because of his personal popularity with the masses. Note, for example, the wimpy media treatment of Iran-Contra as compared to their glorious attack on Watergate. Ifthis is liberal media bias, then the liberals need to be saved from their friends.

If the media were willing to go along with Reaganite duplicity and hokum, then so were our quasi-libertarian intellectual leaders. It is true of the libertarian-inclined masses as it has been always true of the conservative masses: they tend to be not too swift in the upper story. During the late 1970s, libertarian intellectuals and free-market economists were growing in number, but they were very few, and they had not yet established institutions with firm ties to journalistic and mass opinion. Hence, the libertarian mood,but not the informed thought, of the masses, was ready for co-optation, especially if led by a charismatic, beloved President.

But we must not under weigh the importance of the traitorous role performed by quasi-libertarian intellectuals and free-market economists during the Reagan years. While their institutions were small and relatively weak, the power and consistency of libertarian thought had managed to bring them considerable prestige and political influence by 1980 – especially since they offered an attractive and consistent alternative to a statist system that was breaking down on all fronts.

But talk about your Knaves! In the history of ideological movements, there have always been people willing to sell their souls and their principles. But never in history have so many sold out for so pitifully little. Hordes of libertarian and free-market intellectuals and activists rushed to Washington to whore after lousy little jobs, crummy little grants, and sporadic little conferences. It is bad enough to sell out; it is far worse to be a two-bit whore. And worst of all in this sickening spectacle were those who went into the tank without so much as a clear offer: betraying the values and principles of a lifetime in order to position themselves in hopes of being propositioned. And so they wriggled around the seats of power in Washington. The intellectual corruption spread rapidly, in proportion to the height and length of jobs in the Reagan Administration. Lifelong opponents of budget deficits remarkably began to weave sophisticated and absurd apologias, now that the great Reagan was piling them up, claiming, very much like the hated left-wing Keynesians of yore, that “deficits don’t matter.”

Shorn of intellectual support, the half-formed libertarian instincts of the American masses remained content with Reaganite rhetoric, and the actual diametrically opposite policies got lost in the shuffle.

Reagan’s Legacy

Has the Reagan Administration done nothing good in its eight ghastly years on earth, you might ask? Yes, it has done one good thing; it has repealed the despotic 55-mile-per-hour highway speed limit. And that is it.

As the Gipper, at bloody long last, goes riding off into the sunset, he leaves us with a hideous legacy. He has succeeded in destroying the libertarian public mood of the late 1970’s, and replaced it with fatuous and menacing patriotic symbols of the Nation-State, especially The Flag, which he first whooped up in his vacuous reelection campaign in 1984, aided by the unfortunate coincidence of the Olympics being held at Los Angeles. (Who will soon forget the raucous baying of the chauvinist mobs: “USA! USA!” every time some American came in third in some petty event?) He has succeeded in corrupting libertarian and free-market intellectuals and institutions, although in Ronnie’s defense it must be noted that the fault lies with the corrupted and not with the corrupter.

It is generally agreed by political analysts that the ideological mood of the public, after eight years of Reaganism, is in support ofeconomic liberalism (that is, an expanded welfare state), and social conservatism (that is, the suppression of civil liberties and the theocratic outlawing of immoral behavior). And, on foreign policy, of course, they stand for militaristic chauvinism. After eight years of Ronnie, the mood of the American masses is to expand the goodies of the welfare-warfare state (though not to increase taxes to pay for these goodies), to swagger abroad and be very tough with nations that can’t fight back, and to crack down on the liberties of groups they don’t like or whose values or culture they disagree with.

It is a decidedly unlovely and unlibertarian wasteland, this picture of America 1989, and who do we have to thank for it? Several groups: the neocons who organized it; the vested interests and the Power Elite who run it; the libertarians and free marketeers who sold out for it; and above all, the universally beloved Ronald Wilson Reagan, Who Made It Possible.

As he rides off into retirement, glowing with the love of the American public, leaving his odious legacy behind, one wonders what this hallowed dimwit might possibly do in retirement that could be at all worthy of the rest of his political career. What very last triumph are we supposed to “win for the Gipper”?

He has tipped his hand: I have just read that as soon as he retires, the Gipper will go on a banquet tour on behalf of the repeal of the 22nd (“Anti-Third Term”) Amendment – the one decent thing the Republicans have accomplished. In the last four decades. The 22nd Amendment was a well-deserved retrospective slap at FDR. It is typical of the depths to which the GOP has fallen in the last few years that Republicans have been actually muttering about joining the effort to repeal this amendment. If they are successful, then Ronald Reagan might be elected again, and reelected well into the 21st century.

In our age of High Tech, I’m sure that his mere physical death could easily have been overcome by his handlers and media mavens. Ronald Reagan will be suitably mummified, trotted out in front of a giant American flag, and some puppet master would have gotten him to give his winsome headshake and some ventriloquist would have imitated the golden tones: “We-e-ell…” (Why not? After all, the living reality of the last four years has not been a helluva lot different.)

Perhaps, after all, Ronald Reagan and almost all the rest of us will finally get our fondest wish: the election forever and ever of the mummified con King Ronnie.

Now there is a legacy for our descendants!

Reprinted from Mises.org.

 

Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian School, founder of modern libertarianism, and academic vice president of the Mises Institute. He was also editor – with Lew Rockwell – of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, and appointed Lew as his literary executor. See his books.

The Best of Murray Rothbard



Visitor provides update on Bradley Manning’s condition

Visitor provides update on Bradley Manning‘s condition

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By Courage to Resist. February 6, 2011

After being detained and questioned the previous weekend, Bradley Manning Support Network member David House was allowed to visit accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning at the Quantico, Virginia Marine Corps brig on both January 29th and 30th. David has been visiting Bradley regularly over the last few months. Below (select “Read more…”) David talks about last weekend’s visits on MSNBC.

Thank you to everyone who called, or attempted to call, the White House switchboard on behalf of Bradley last Thursday, February 3. While there were thousands of calls regarding Egypt that day as well, switchboard operators shared that Egypt and Bradley were the “issues of the day” being recorded and noted.


Call White House to Support Bradley Manning on 2/3/11

National White House call-in day to support Bradley Manning

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Thursday, February 3rd, 2011~ 9am to 5pm EST

White House Switchboard: 202-456-1414
(or the White House comments line after hours: 202-456-1111)

From the Bradley Manning Support Network

Call the White House Thursday, February 3, 2011, to voice your support for accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower US Army PFC Bradley Manning. Express your concern that Bradley’s human rights need to be respected by the Quantico, Virginia, brig authorities.

Bradley has been held in solitary confinement-like conditions for over eight months, and his trial is still months away. This American citizen-soldier has been convicted of no crime, yet continues to endure inhumane conditions of pre-trial confinement like no other inmate at the Marine Corps brig at Quantico.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently stated that the White House was not paying attention to Bradley Manning’s extreme confinement conditions, or the fact that recently pre-approved visitors of Bradley’s have been detained and interrogated by military police in order to block their scheduled visit. It is critical that we educate the White House of this ongoing injustice!

Recommended points to make:

US Army PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower being held at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia, is an American citizen who is innocent until proven otherwise. Yet, he has been subjected to continuous illegal pre-trial punishment since his arrest in May 2010. Based on these abuses alone, Manning should be freed pending court martial.

Military pre-trial confinement is supposed to be about ensuring a soldier’s presence at court martial, yet for eight months now Manning has been subjected to extreme pre-trial punishment through the arbitrary use of rarely applied regulations–specifically the “maximum security classification” and the “prevent of injury” order. If he is not freed pending court martial, then at the very least, Manning’s human rights need to be respected, and the illegal pre-trial punishment must end.

The arbitrary restrictions placed on Manning–and no other inmates at Quantico–mean that: Manning is allowed no meaningful physical exercise, he is allowed no social interaction with other inmates, he is kept in his cell at least 23 hours per day, and he is not allowed out of his cell without restraints.

If the charges against him are true, they actually show that Manning is a patriot acting to advance an informed democracy. There is no allegation that Manning did anything but share truthful information with the American public regarding the realities of our nation’s ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with absolutely no benefit to himself, in order to spark public debate regarding foreign policy.

The Bradley Manning Support Network: www.bradleymanning.org

Sign-up the “Stand with Bradley Manning” public declaration: www.standwithbrad.org

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On Guarding the Public’s Right to Ignorance and Meeting With Julian Assange

From Taki’s Magazine

by Charles Glass

January 12, 2011

 

We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.
—Benjamin Franklin

 

 

When a journalist disappears in Russia or is murdered in Iraqi Kurdistan, his or her colleagues in safer climes stand up to be counted. No one should be killed, tortured, or imprisoned for publishing information or opinions that the powerful find inconvenient. Organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, Article 19, and PEN regard it as their duty to defend writers’ and publishers’ rights, as PEN famously did for Arthur Koestler against Nazi tyranny in the 1930s. Index on Censorship, a publication with an honorable pedigree, came into existence to publish the samizdat articles and stories of writers who risked the gulag for expressing themselves.

In journalism schools, they teach aspiring reporters it is their duty to ferret out information the state and other power centers conceal that affects ordinary people’s lives. Bringing information to the governed about their governors is the breath of democracy, the exposure that animates liberty’s spirit, and a necessary check against the world’s imbalances in wealth and power. When Upton Sinclair revealed the way meat was packaged in America in The Jungle, when Lincoln Steffens told the truth about municipal government corruption, when Ida Tarbell exposed the Standard Oil Company to public scrutiny, when I. F. Stone published the truth behind the Gulf of Tonkin lies that Lyndon Johnson used as an excuse to escalate the war against Vietnam (the Weapons of Mass Destruction of its time), when Seymour Hersh reported the American massacre at My Lai, when Ray Coffey of the Chicago Daily News broke the story of America’s illegal bombing of Laos, did their colleagues rise as one to defend them?

The hell they did. A few stood with the investigators, but most condemned them. Hearst columnists and other guardians of the public’s right to ignorance railed against the muckrakers for betraying American values. Who could be against Rockefeller and Standard Oil apart from a traitor? The good burghers of the popular press turned on them like a pack of hounds for questioning the wisdom of duly (albeit corruptly) elected rulers and daring to publish documents that God had deigned as comprehensible only to a bureaucratic inner circle.

Journalistic guard dogs of power, the most likely hacks to climb the ladder for the Purina Dog Chow of corporate-media op-ed columns, talk shows, and editorships, have turned against WikiLeaks. Julian Assange has committed the crime for which we, from the safety of time’s passage, honor Steffens, Tarbell, Stone, and Hersh. It is no surprise that a pseudo-journalist such as Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard calls for Washington to employ “various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators.” But it is more difficult to excuse the distance that real journalists, many of whom published the documents and videos that WikiLeaks made available to them, are putting between themselves and Assange. The Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Broadcasters, and The New York Times’ opinion pages have run for cover as fast as politicians during a police raid on a whorehouse.

The New York Times, along with The Washington Post, had the honorable distinction of publishing the Pentagon Papers. They received those documents from Daniel Ellsberg, who was pilloried in his time just as Assange is today. The Nixon Administration, in a precursor to the Watergate break-in, raided his psychiatrist’s office and circulated stories that Ellsberg was insane. The argument was not unknown in the Soviet Union: If you are against us, you must be crazy. Now they are turning on Assange over his sex life, his alleged imperiousness, and his supposed recklessness.

I understand why the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House hate Assange and WikiLeaks. He broke into their cozy little circle of lies and turned on the lights. We’ve seen the amusement of helicopter pilots and gunners as they blew away journalists in Iraq. We’ve read how Hillary Clinton illegally suborned UN diplomats to spy on their colleagues. We’ve had a look into secret discussions where the US tried to persuade the Japanese to shut down the anti-whaling Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. We have read that Israeli border guards have been trying to shake down American companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Westinghouse for bribes to let them send their products into the Gaza Strip.

We have seen all of this, while Assange’s critics tell us (1) nothing he has revealed is of any significance and (2) what he has revealed is so significant he must be prosecuted or terminated with prejudice. Let the government fight its corner, fair enough. But does the press, which collaborated with WikiLeaks in bringing so much information to public scrutiny, need to condemn him? In the battle between the state and the free press, I stand with the free press.

This is an easy decision, and I made it well before I met Assange last weekend. He seemed to me to be neither arrogant nor deceptive. He is, however, single-minded and determined to fight for his corner. He has accepted his predicament with good grace, having endured nine days in Wandsworth Prison in solitary confinement. The terms of his bail, while he awaits a possible extradition to Sweden for alleged crimes that carry no sentence other than a small fine, require him to remain inside the Norfolk farmhouse of his friend Vaughan Smith, a brave former Grenadier Guards officer and combat cameraman. Julian may leave the house only for daily visits to the local police station. When we wanted to smoke outside, in deference to Pranvera Smith’s understandable concern about the air around her beautiful little daughters being fouled by tobacco, Julian had to stand inside the doorway. I was free to pace the garden with my cigar, the absurdity of which was obvious to us both.

He spends most of his time working on WikiLeaks and preparing his legal defense, showing no sign of the tension that would break most of us. But making this a battle about his personality misses the point: The issue is freedom to publish information without fear of intimidation, imprisonment, and death. Where are my colleagues? Many have stood up honorably to defend him and to guarantee his bail in Britain. Others have turned on him, including the two English-language newspapers (The Guardian in London and The New York Times) that published documents they could have obtained only from him. It was ever thus, as Julien Benda reminded us in La Trahison des Clercs:

Our age has seen priests of the mind teaching that gregarious[ness] is the praiseworthy form of thought, and that independent thought is contemptible. It is moreover certain that the group which desires to be strong has no use for a man who claims to think for himself.

During America’s war in Vietnam, Noam Chomsky referred to the journalistic and academic defenders of the aggression as the “secular priesthood.” Their heirs worship at the same altar of power, even when it means sending one of their own to prison for a “crime” they only pretend to commit: speaking truth to and about power.

 


Emergency: Politicians Call for End of 1st & 2nd Amendments

http://www.prisonplanet.com/a-warning-to-enemies-of-the-1st-and-2nd-amendments.html

Is the Loughner Massacre the crisis this White House and Congress have been waiting for?

Alex Jones & Aaron Dykes
Prison Planet.com
Jan 11, 2011

Alex Jones issues an alert via a special video address as certain factions in Congress are moving very quickly to seize upon the tragic shooting in Arizona to pass both gun control laws and restrict free speech under the guise of protecting political servants.

The emerging background of Jared Lee Loughner clearly indicates a deeply mentally disturbed individual, but many in Congress cannot wait for all the details of his motivation to emerge before hurrying legislation through Capitol Hill this week. They have teamed up with the mainstream corporate media to pose as concerned liberals trying to protect the weak, while forcefully demanding draconian restrictions on the Bill of Rights.

 

 

The rush is on to prey upon sentiments while they are still fresh. They will use this tragedy tousher in an agenda the Obama Administration couldn’t otherwise advance, but have long planned for. Top Obama and Clinton advisors like Robert Shapiro have cryptically warned for monthsthat only an Oklahoma City or 9/11-style incident could save Obama’s presidency. Former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel famously quipped that “You never want to let a good crisis go to waste.” Is the Loughner Massacre the crisis this White House and Congress have been waiting for?

For gun legislation, there’s been no useful momentum until now. Holder and Obama heralded the return of the assault weapons ban early on in 2009, but the focus has always been on the available political currency. But with a ripe tragedy that rightfully shocked the nation at hand, Rep. McCarthy and other dedicated gun grabbers in Congress have rallied, ready to ‘look at what I can pass.’ McCarthy has eyed banning the 30-count clip used by the accused killer, one of the expired provisions of the Assault Weapons Ban she and others got under Clinton.

Meanwhile, Congressman Robert Brady plans openly to ride on the backs of Giffords’ attempted assassination and the murder of 5 others as well, with plans to “criminalize” threatening language or symbols against members of Congress. Like well-laid plans for anti-gun legislation, the Democrats have long plotted an avenue to impose the Fairness Doctrine over the realm of talk radio. In the name of protecting our elected officials, Brady will help chill political speech, starting with the banning of over-zealous rhetoric like the well publicized example of Sarah Palin’s map which placed a “target” over a number of districts including that of Rep. Giffords.

Despite the fact that the father of slain 9-year old Christina Taylor Green demanded the press not use his daughter’s death to restrict civil liberties, the public figures involved have lined up to grandstand over the incident and exploit the madness of accused murderer Jared Lee Loughner.

Pima County Sheriff Dupnik lead the demands to reign in speech and tone down the rhetoric, lambasting the “vitriol” of pundits and politicians, openly challenging their right to express and defend their views and stating in his press conference that those who talk for a living ‘have free speech,’ but that such speech bears ‘consequences.’

“When the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates, and to try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it has impact on people especially who are unbalanced personalities,” Dupnik said.

Plenty of others, including Mark Potok of the SPLC, followed Dupnik in implicitly blaming the actions of the suspected shooter on a cocktail of voices in the “radical right” whose angry sentiment has risen to the surface since the 2010 midterm election season.

 

 

Those in Congress, however, have already reciprocated with immediate proposals for legislation. The overtones are reminiscent of the rushed and pressured passing of the Constitution-shredding PATRIOT Act in the wake of 9/11. Now, as the War on Terror– supposedly justified by the September 11 attacks– has shifted into the war of suspicion against the American people, returning veterans, political dissidents and others, certain factions in Congress now want to cut again at the Constitution and Bill of Rights, imposing the burden for the malicious and evil actions of one individual on the free speech and 2nd Amendment of everyone in the national conversation and political discourse.

Now, a decade after all Americans gave up a number of their rights in turn for the auspices of ‘security’ following 9/11, some of the most ‘vitriolic’ and supposedly ‘angry’ voices in politics, along with the others, will be asked to give up their freedom to words and expression so we can again feel a little bit “safer.” But it won’t work. Bad people and criminals will still get guns; insulating politicians will only advance tyranny’s shadowy ascent; and chilling free speech will only bring martial law control over the people closer still.

As Benjamin Franklin wisely warned in the founding era, Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither (and will obtain neither).

 

 

 

 


Deceit and Truth Are Feeding Resistance to US Militarism

by Kevin B. Zeese

Mike Ferner, the president of Veterans for Peace, was speaking outside the White House calling for a “culture of resistance” against U.S. wars. His organization was leading a protest outside the White House at the same moment that President Obama was inside announcing the continuation of the Afghanistan War.

Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges, who has seen more war than most vets, joined in the call for action. He adapted President Obama’s campaign of hope and change, urging everyone not to wait for Obama, but to take action: “Hope will only come now when we physically defy the violence of the state. All who resist, all who are here today keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair, and apathy become an enemy of hope. They become in their passivity agencies of injustice.” Hedges urged actions, large and small, against the corporate government’s militarism.

As Obama spoke inside the warm White House, outside in the snow 131 veterans and their supporters defied authorities. Some chained themselves to the White House fence, others refused to leave when ordered by police. They were arrested. Many promised continued acts of resistance. Some, from other movements, like Margaret Flowers, M.D., of the single-payer health care movement, urged solidarity as resistance is needed on many issues mishandled by corporate government. The seeds of resistance had been planted.

The watering of that seed was coming from Obama’s false words and the truth escaping from his government’s secrecy. He proclaimed progress in the Afghanistan War. But the front page of the New York Times, the day before his speech, reported “two new classified intelligence reports offer a more negative assessment and say there is a limited chance of success.” These reports (not released by WikiLeaks, but through the traditional leaking in D.C.) were from the National Intelligence Estimates, which bring together the findings of 16 intelligence agencies and showed a conflict with the DoD’s more rosy picture.

President Obama then went on to talk about how the U.S. could begin withdrawing troops as the Afghan police were trained and took their place. But just four days before the president spoke, the Guardiandescribed how “more than 20,000 officers from the Afghan National Police (ANP), the country’s mainlaw enforcement agency, have left over the past year.”

President Obama promised to persist until the United States achieved victory, but as Daniel Ellsberg, a veteran and former military analyst for the Pentagon pointed out, Gen. Petraeus has told the president there will be no victory. Ellsberg quotes Petraeus from Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars: “You have to recognize also that I don’t think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. … You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.” Again, the quote from behind the closed doors of the Oval Office came from the traditional leaking in the capital, not from WikiLeaks.

If Obama’s inaccurate statements to the American people about a war costing $5.7 billion per month are not enough, you can look to the documentation of failure and potential war crimes in the WikiLeaks reports, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, and the diplomatic cables. They show, among other things, that U.S. troops kill civilians without cause or concern and then cover it up (more examples of hiding civilian killings herehere, and here), including killing reporters; the CIA is fighting an undeclared and unauthorized war in Pakistan with Blackwater mercenaries; the president of Afghanistan is not trustworthy; Afghanistan is rife with corruption and drug dealing; the Pakistan military and intelligence agencies aid al-Qaeda and the Taliban; and the U.S. looks the other way when governments it controls torture. The cables also show that beyond the war fronts thatHillary Clinton has turned State Department Foreign Service officers into a nest of spies who violate laws to spy on diplomats, all with marching orders drawn up by the CIA. All of this has the world looking at the United States with new eyes.

WikiLeaks, the Abu Ghraib prison photos, the reports from Guantanamo Bay, Red Cross reports of secret prisons, intelligence reports, and so many other sources of information show Americans what their government is doing.

Now that we know what the government is doing in our name, Americans must take action to stop it. Knowing the truth and not acting is complicity in the government’s actions. More and more Americans are acting. It is not only the arrest of 131 vets and their supporters that shows a rising tide of resistance. We see it in the publishing of documents by WikiLeaks and major media outlets as well as in the independent media around the globe. In the more than 1,000 mirror sites of WikiLeaks set up as the original site was under attack, we see resistance. When more than 100,000 people downloaded the WikiLeaks “insurance policy” and were prepared to release documents if Assange was harmed, it was an act of resistance. It is seen in intelligence officials leaking documents to the New York Times the day before the president spoke on Afghanistan, showing the country that the war is failing despite what the president says. It is seen in Americans organizing for their right to know and to reaffirm freedom of the press under the banner WikiLeaksIsDemocracy.org. It is also seen in those standing up for Bradley Manning in the Bradley Manning Support Network. Join us.

Do not feel powerless in the face of the American superpower and the manipulated U.S. democracy that prevents real change. It has always been small things that people do that leads to massive change. Everyone reading this can take action to challenge U.S. foreign policy, to help develop the culture of resistance that is essential to change. While the government has a lot of weapons at its disposal, its insecurity is evident in its reaction to the truth. The government shows more than embarrassment, it shows fear – fear of its own words being exposed and people knowing what it does. Every day that a truth is revealed, the government loses power and influence. It is a problem of its own making. Do not blame the messengers.

And while the U.S. military is the most powerful in the world and the U.S. taxpayer spends as much as the rest of the world combined on weapons and war, everyone knows this truth: it has not won a significant war in more than 50 years. Now, this so-called superpower rests on a fragile economy that is in deep collapse and showing no signs of real recovery with a ship of state too dysfunctional to respond to multiple crises facing the nation and the world. The superpower is strong, but weak at the same time. These seem to be the signs of an empire that could collapse at anytime.

As you act, and see others act, more will be emboldened. As Julian Assange said, “Courage is contagious.” Be part of spreading courage. Join or organize actions of resistance wherever there is injustice in your workplace, your school or your town. Speak out against war and militarism. Join Operation LeakSpin and review a WikiLeaks cable and write about it wherever you can. Join the Bradley Manning Support Network and WikiLeaksIsDemocracy.org. Help build the tidal wave of resistance that will demand real change, the change the nation urgently needs.

December 24, 2010

Kevin Zeese [send him mail] is director of Voters for Peace.

Copyright 2010 Kevin Zeese

Kevin Zeese Archives



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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

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Did Harry Reid Steal Nevada From Sharron Angle? 10 Facts To Consider

By Michael, on November 4th, 2010

It seems like some sort of voting machine controversy pops up every time there is an election in America now.  The election result in 2010 that is drawing the most attention is Harry Reid‘s shocking victory over Sharron Angle in Nevada.  Did Harry Reid or operatives working for him steal Nevada from Sharron Angle?  That is exactly what many are now alleging.  On a day when Tea Party candidates exceeded expectations from coast to coast, Reid’s resounding triumph in Nevada is definitely raising some eyebrows.  Unfortunately, it does not appear likely that Sharron Angle will mount a formal challenge Harry Reid’s victory at this point.  The American people may never know whether or not Harry Reid’s victory in Nevada was legitimate.

But there are certainly quite a few things that look bad.  The following are 10 facts to consider about Harry Reid’s victory over Sharron Angle in Nevada….

#1 Prior to the election, all of the major polls had Sharron Angle well ahead of Harry Reid.

#2 Somehow Harry Reid turned that deficit into a five point victory on election day.

#3 During early voting in Clark County, where three quarters of Nevada residents live, a number of voters were reporting that the electronic voting machines were automatically selecting Harry Reid’s name on the ballot.

#4 Harry Reid’s son Rory is a county commissioner in Clark County.

#5 The technicians in charge of servicing the electronic voting machines in Clark County belong to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

#6 SEIU spent tens of millions of dollars supporting Democrat candidates during the 2010 election.

#7 According to Gateway Pundit, “White House political director Patrick Gaspard is formerly the SEIU’s top lobbyist, and former SEIU president Andy Stern was the most frequent visitor to the White House last year.”

#8 A lawyer for the Angle campaign, Cleta Mitchell, declared in a fundraising letter that Reid intended to “steal this election if he can’t win it outright”.

#9 There are also allegations that Reid operatives offered free food and gift cards to Nevada residents in exchange for votes.

#10 Nearly all Republican and Tea Party candidates did better than expected on election day, but Sharron Angle did far, far worse than expected.

So did some monkey business happen here or did Harry Reid pull off a legitimate comeback?

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