The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

10 Most Offensive Tea Party Signs (PHOTOS)

The ten most offensive signs seen at TEA party protests around the country. Quite revealing on several levels.

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Peace Out

By Justin Raimondo

The antiwar rally at the University of Iowa was sparsely attended. The below 30 degree weather might have had something to do with it, but Paul Street, a local writer and one of the speakers, had another theory, as the Daily Iowan reported:

Before the crowd of fewer than 20, Street questioned why the ‘left’ locals and university officials aren’t doing more to help in the protests against the war. ‘The big truth right now, whether this town’s missing-in-action progressives get it or not, is that we need to fight the rich, not their wars,’ he said, citing big corporations for wasting their technology and funding on war.

The big truth is that the antiwar movement has largely collapsed in the face of Barack Obama’s victory: the massive antiwar marches that were a feature of the Bush years are a thing of the past. Those ostensibly antiwar organizations that did so much to agitate against the Iraq War have now fallen into line behind their commander in chief and are simply awaiting orders.

Take, for example,, the online activist group that ran antiwar ads during the election—but only against Republicans—in coalition with a group of labor unions and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. Behind AAEI stood three of Obama’s top political operatives, Steve Hildebrand, Paul Tewes, and Brad Woodhouse. Woodhouse is now the Democratic National Committee’s director of communications and research. He controls the massive e-mail list culled by the Obama campaign during the primaries and subsequently, as well as a list of all those who gave money to the presumed peace candidate. These donors are no doubt wondering what Obama is doing escalating the war in Afghanistan and venturing into Pakistan.

As Greg Sargent noted over at, a Washington Post-sponsored site, “Don’t look now, but President Obama’s announcement today of an escalation in the American presence in Afghanistan is being met with mostly silence—and even some support—from the most influential liberal groups who opposed the Iraq War.”

In response to inquiries, refused to make any public statement about Obama’s rollout of the Af-Pak escalation, although someone described as “an official close to the group” is cited by WhoRunsGov as confirming that “MoveOn wouldn’t be saying anything in the near term.” A vague promise to poll their members was mentioned—“though it’s unclear when.” Don’t hold your breath.

Another Democratic Party front masquerading as a peace group, Americans United for Change, declined to comment on the war plans of the new administration. This astroturf organization ran $600,000 worth of television ads in the summer of 2007, focusing like a laser on congressional districts with Republican incumbents. Change? Not so fast.

The boldest of the peacenik sellouts, however, is Jon Soltz of VoteVets, described by WhoRunsGov as “among the most pugnacious anti-Iraq war groups.” They came out fists flying, endorsing the escalation of the Long War.

According to Soltz, there is “much to like in the plan,” but his faves boil down to three factors, which supposedly represent “a stark departure” from the bad old days of the Bush administration. He applauds the administration’s recognition that “The military can’t do it all.” Yet we’re increasing the troop levels by some 17,000, plus 4,000 trainers to babysit the barely existent Afghan “army.” We’re going to send thousands more civilians—aid workers, medical personnel, and military contractors—to build the infrastructure lacking in Afghan society and promote fealty to the central government in Kabul. Schools, clinics, roads, and shopping malls will be built with American tax dollars in order to foster trust between the Afghans, their occupiers, and their government.

This nation-building strategy is at the core of the new counterinsurgency doctrine championed by Gen. David Petraeus and hailed by the policy wonks at the Center for a New American Security—the source of many Obama administration appointees at State and the civilian upper echelons of the Pentagon—as the key to victory on the Af-Pak front. Yet this scheme seems no less grandiose, in terms of its scope, than the “democracy building” campaign of the neocons, who set out to effect lasting change in the political landscape in the region. The Obamaites are much more ambitious: they seek to transform the economic and social landscape.

Another factor in the Obama Af-Pak war plan that appeals to Soltz and his fellow VoteVets is that “though it’s the ‘war in Afghanistan,’ we need to treat it like a region.” Translation: Don’t be surprised when Obama’s war spreads beyond Afghanistan’s borders. “This is a regional problem,” Soltz solemnly avers, “that requires a regional solution.” Imagine if George W. Bush had gone “regional” and announced that he was going to include Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Iran in his plan to “liberate” Iraq? Soltz and his sometime peacenik buddies would have gone ballistic, denouncing this “escalation” of the conflict and demanding that we pull back. Yet the rules for the Af-Pak region are apparently quite different because, after all, this is Barack Obama doing the escalating.

Soltz doesn’t confront the obvious arguments against the Af-Pak plan: How is this different from the occupation of Iraq? Aren’t we creating more enemies by bombing hapless Pakistani villagers with drones? What about Afghanistan and Pakistan’s neighbors, notably Russia—do we really want to add them to our enemies list, as they respond with distrust to our feeding of this fire on their frontiers?

Soltz never answers these questions because he never bothers to ask them. He merely assumes the perfect justice and practicality of Obama’s Afghan cause. He is a soldier following orders. Like the neoconized Republican cadre that hooted down Ron Paul as he rose to challenge the Bush foreign policy during the GOP presidential primary debates, a similarly brainwashed Democratic base is now cheerleading their leader and shouting down dissenters even as this White House repeats—and enlarges—the mistakes of the previous occupant.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal-Left think tank that sheltered many foreign-policy analysts who opposed the Iraq War and was beginning to develop a comprehensive critique of global interventionism, has recently issued a report on Afghanistan that includes a number of short-term, medium-term, and long-term (ten-year) goals, including among the latter:

* Assist in creating an Afghan state that is able to defend itself internally and externally, and that can provide for the basic needs of its own people.
* Prepare for the full military withdrawal from Afghanistan alongside continued diplomatic and economic measures to promote the sustainable security of Afghanistan.

Simply substitute Iraq for Afghanistan, and what we get is the war policy of the Bush era. That the center is run by John Podesta, who served as Obama’s transition chief, is perhaps explanation enough for the complete turnaround. One wonders, however, if the center’s more anti-interventionist scholars, such as Matthew Yglesias, whose popular blog has attracted a substantial audience, will be forced to toe the new line—or be forced out.

One also wonders when this administration will decide to let the American people in on the news that the Af-Pak war is slated to last at least a decade, if not more. During the campaign, and well before that, Joe Biden was self-righteously denouncing the Bush administration and its journalistic amen corner for not “leveling with the American people” and admitting the magnitude of our commitment in Iraq. Yet the administration of which he is now part is just as evasive on the question of an exit strategy and timeframe in Afghanistan and now Pakistan.

Biden’s counsel of restraint apparently lost out in the internal debate, and the Hillary-Gates escalators triumphed. It is inconceivable that the vice president would go public with his criticisms—he’s no Cheney. And opposition among the Democrats in Congress is low-key, minimal, and effectively marginalized.

A recent headline in The Hill tells the whole sad story: “Anti-war Democrats remain silent about Obama’s policies.” A pow-wow between Barbara Lee, famous for her lone opposition in Congress to the Afghan war early on, Lynn Woolsey, and Maxine Waters, California Democrats and vocal opponents of “Bush’s war,” failed to produce a joint statement on Obama’s Afghan surge.

Divided and distracted by the economic crisis, the antiwar caucus in Congress is effectively dissolved, although a few voices are raised in warning and protest: we are headed for “a war without end,” said Congressman James McGovern (D-Mass.), who seems to have learned the real lesson of the Iraq War—that occupation produces more enemies than it subdues.

Russ Feingold says that Obama’s war plan “could make the situation worse, not better.” More ominous for the administration is the criticism coming from Sen. Carl Levin over the $1.5 billion nonmilitary aid package for Pakistan, which Levin fears could be seen as a bribe—and an insult. He also wonders why the Pakistanis allow the Taliban to operate openly in the city of Quetta and questions their interest in policing the Afghan border.

There is also a rising tide of criticism coming from the Democratic base: visitors to the liberal website are likely to encounter antiwar screeds nearly as impassioned as those that were posted during the Bush years, albeit written in sadness and bewilderment rather than anger.

Within the organized antiwar movement itself, the Democratic Party fronts like and VoteVets are increasingly isolated as more representative groups shift to the forefront: “It’s a shame President Obama believes he can pursue the same militaristic strategy as his predecessors and produce a different result,” says Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action. Tom Andrews, executive director of Win Without War, takes a similar stance:

I regret that President Obama, in his desire to protect our nation from a genuine threat, has outlined a policy that will undermine our security, not enhance it. In short, the president’s policy is playing into the hands of Al Qaeda and the Taliban by providing them with a cause that unites and strengthens them.

This is precisely correct, and it echoes what Michael Scheuer, the former CIA officer and chief of the Agency’s bin Laden unit, says in Imperial Hubris:

U.S., British, and other coalition forces are trying to govern apparently ungovernable postwar states in Afghanistan and Iraq, while simultaneously fighting growing Islamist insurgencies in each—a state of affairs our leaders call victory. In conducting these activities, and the conventional military campaigns preceding them, U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.

Those words were written in 2004, and since then nothing has changed: we are still acting as bin Laden’s greatest recruiter and ally. Scheuer’s is the classical realist view, which makes American interests, narrowly conceived, the central organizing principle and starting point of a rational foreign policy.

During the Bush era, there was a growing convergence of Republican realists and antiwar liberals. Yet in the age of Obama, it seems, many of the latter are getting in touch with their inner hawk.

President Obama is often compared to FDR or John F. Kennedy, but I agree with Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, who worries that he’s more likely to turn out to be another Lyndon Baines Johnson—a president who triumphed against a perceived warmonger at the polls and embodied liberal hopes on the domestic scene but was then driven from office by a war-weary electorate and an insurgency within his own party. Add a rapidly expiring economy at home to an increasingly unpopular war—or series of wars—abroad, and you have a recipe for disaster: Obama’s Vietnam and the Democratic Party’s Waterloo.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Shed Some Light on the Fed

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The Two Faces of Barack Obama

by Justin Raimondo

The news from Europe, if you listen to our infatuated media, is that the Euros love President Obama: according to the American reportage, his recent trip there was a cavalcade of photo-ops, cheering crowds, and hugs from the queen of England. Even the French were in awe of him! However, if you look beneath the surface, not that far beneath the gloss and the glam there runs a current of irritation, and, dare I say it, resentment.

Take, for example, his stop in the Czech Republic, where he declared that he was seeking a nuclear-free world – that is, a world free of nuclear weapons. This is a goal the United States has a special moral responsibility to seek, he averred, because we are the only nation that has actually used these weapons. The crowd loved it. What they didn’t at all love, however, was his announcement that

“‘As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven. Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbors and our allies.’”

"The governments of the Czech Republic and Poland, he added, are ‘courageous’ for ‘agreeing to host a defense against these missiles.’"

One supposes it takes a fair amount of courage to defy the wishes of your own people and obey the dictates of a foreign power, albeit not the sort of courage appreciated by Obama’s audience. As the London Telegraph put it:

"The crowd enthusiastically cheered the more idealistic parts of Mr. Obama’s speech but was relatively subdued when he spoke about his backing for missile defense.

"Petr Sramek, 33, was among those disappointed that Mr. Obama had not dropped a policy that was opposed by more than two thirds of Czechs. ‘I really liked the clear message on nuclear disarmament but I am against the missile defense system. It is more about geopolitical influence then defense against missiles.’

"Arena Protivinska, 30, described herself as a ‘big fan’ of Mr. Obama but accused him of ‘hypocrisy’ for urging world peace while also pushing forward with the missile shield. ‘He sounded like George W Bush saying that we should be afraid in order to justify missile defense.’"

Like Americans, the Europeans want to believe – but they see the two faces of Barack Obama too clearly, and the contrast is too apparent to be denied. The gullible Americans, who take things at face value, still believe their new president represents a real change, a challenge to the status quo, while the more sophisticated Europeans are quick to pick up on Obama’s inconsistencies – made all the more glaring by his habit of pairing two mutually contradictory stances on the same issue.

This includes not only coupling missile "defense" in Eastern Europe with the prospect of a nuclear-free world, but also the recent launching of his "Af-Pak" initiative. Although dressed up as a diplomatic offensive, this is essentially a military offensive aimed at widening the war in Afghanistan to include portions of Pakistan.

The administration and its media lapdogs portrayed the Af-Pak rollout as a definitive break with the bad old days of the Bush White House, when it was all about troop movements. The new regime, we’re told, will initiate substantial diplomatic and humanitarian aid efforts, notably an effort to reach out to dissident elements of the Taliban. However, the real core of the Af-Pak strategy is a radical escalation of the military element, in effect an Afghan "surge" spilling over into Pakistan’s tribal areas: it means the addition of some 21,000 soldiers to U.S. forces, with the prospect of more to come.

The Janus-faced American hegemon speaks out of both sides of his mouth, and in two voices: one for the masses, who delight in his soaring idealism and seeming ability to express their deepest aspirations, and one for the elites, who hear a promise of continuity rather than change.

This two-track narrative framed even his Prague declamation of a nuclear-free world. According to a top White House aide, we are not to take this idea all that seriously:

"Gary Samore, a White House adviser on arms control, indicated that Mr. Obama’s call for ridding the world of nuclear weapons should not be taken too literally. ‘In terms of a nuclear-free world, we recognize this is not a near-term possibility,’ he said. Rather, the call was an attempt to ’seize the moral high ground’ in order to increase pressure on countries such as North Korea and Iran."

Obama giveth with one hand, and taketh away with another – smiling that oil-slick grin the whole time. Although I agree with the sentiments of the Czech woman cited above, the Obama method goes way beyond mere hypocrisy. It is a conscious technique of inverting the true meaning and intent of his policies.

Thus, his launching of an intensified military campaign in Central Asia is portrayed as an effort to "stabilize" the region. His provocation against Russia in Eastern Europe is paired with a call to abolish nuclear weapons. And, of course, this ploy carries over into the domestic arena, as well, where – in the process of giving certain favored sectors of the financial industry trillions in subsidies – he has launched a campaign against "corporate greed" and outrageously extravagant executive salaries and perks. He rails against corporate irresponsibility, yet he has appointed to his administration the very corporate insiders who got us into this mess in the first place.

Obama ran for president as the spokesman for the underdog – the little guy just managing to make ends meet, whose volunteerism and contributions over the Internet catapulted the Illinois senator into the running. Yet the reality is that Obama was corporate America’s candidate from the very beginning, and they showed it by lavishly financing his campaign: the money emanating from Goldman Sachs was quite impressive, and, together with the DNC, Wall Street buried the Republicans, who were outspent by three-to-one [.pdf] (and out of gas in any event). Unsurprisingly, the top echelons of the president’s economic team are filled with former Goldman Sachs officials – and, not coincidentally, that firm is the primary beneficiary of the AIG/bank bailout.

The ruling elites of this country, confronted by the specter of a rising populist anger, have found in President Obama a subtle and skillful anger-management expert. For years they’ve been frustrated in Washington, as their efforts to fight a spreading war met increasing resistance from the American people. Divine Providence smiled down on them, however, as Obama suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Here was an "antiwar" candidate who said we’ve been fighting the wrong war all along – and, upon taking office, immediately rectified that by sending 21,000 more troops to the wilds of Central Asia.

What a godsend to the War Party Barack Obama is! As he moves toward confrontations with Iran, Russia, and Pakistan, and continues to unnecessarily irritate China, Asia’s sleeping giant, the media portray him as the Great Peacemaker. As the mask slips, however, and the reality becomes all too apparent, how will his "progressive" supporters react? Will they rise in protest, or sign on to Obama’s war?

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Time for a Closer Look

by Michael Gaddy

For several decades the state and its willing accomplices in the media and talk radio have marginalized and demonized anyone who alleges involvement of the state in illegal activities or conspiracies to provide false information to support its illegal wars and other agendas. Those who do so are referred to as "conspiracy nuts" or in the case of Rush Limbaugh, Keepers of Odd Knowledge Society members. (K.O.O.K.S)

To believe the state is never involved in illegal conspiracies would require one to believe the state incapable of criminal behavior and Julius Caesar was killed in a random walk-by knifing.

A theory is defined as a guess or conjecture; therefore, once one piece of actual evidence is discovered, a theory no longer exists; it becomes a possibility. The problem Tin-foil hatters face is the lack of any subjective review of that evidence. The state is always in charge of "officially" discovering evidence. When those outside of the state’s influence discover evidence the government has somehow "overlooked," then an "impartial" panel is commissioned to investigate that evidence. The problem is, the impartial panel is always appointed by the state and populated by those with close connections to the state apparatus. Need I say more than the 9/11 Commission, or the Commission led by former Senator John Danforth tasked with investigating the tragedy called Waco?

Even in the event these commissions find wrongdoing by state employees, there are never any prosecutions of those responsible, even when the crime they commit is murder. FBI Agent Lon Horiuchi is a great example. Therefore, it is obvious those who represent the state operate with impunity and/or the state sanctioned "license to kill."

Perhaps the state believes only private citizens are capable of carrying out criminal conspiracies; after all, over 40% of those in federal custody are there for "conspiracy" to commit a crime. But when one mentions the state and criminals, are they not being redundant?

Lately, I have become increasingly skeptical of the timing and circumstances surrounding mass shootings. Any investigator worth his/her salt would question how, within a short time of the state indicating its intention of prohibiting the sale of a certain type firearm, a mass murder occurs in which that type weapon is used.

A prudent individual, unencumbered with emotional or financial connections to the state, cannot logically ignore the similarities in many of these mass shootings.

First, there is the insane and totally explained phenomena of a person becoming angry at someone or something, and then randomly killing people they do not know.

Second, is the almost universal use of mind-altering drugs by the perpetrators of these heinous crimes? Almost all of those involved in school shootings were taking, or had just stopped taking, drugs such as Prozac or Ritalin.

Third, is the fact a great number of the shooters kill themselves after committing their heinous crimes?

Fourth, when the mass shooting does not fit the above profile, the state uses the incident to claim, as they did in the shooting this weekend in Pennsylvania, that the perpetrator feared the state was going to take his guns. This certainly aids the state in its efforts to paint all that are concerned about the possible loss of freedoms and encroachments on the 2A as potential killers and threats to society.

Has the state gained from any of these very suspicious shootings? Of course they have.

After the political assassinations in the 1960s, the state, operating with the fear and outrage of the public, was able to foist on the America the wonderful 1968 Gun Control Act, a law taken almost word for word from the Nazi Weapons Law of 1938. Former NRA President Charlton Heston’s involvement in the promotion of this vile law is a story in itself.

While there are many writers who believe the state is presently too concerned with the economy to concentrate on laws prohibiting the private ownership of firearms, I believe, that because of the economy, the state will be forced to actively pursue draconian firearms legislation as a priority.

As so eloquently stated by many of the economists at LRC, the current actions taken by the government to shore up the economy are all destined to fail. The current bailouts will fill the pockets of those who support and control the state and do nothing but lead to continued unemployment and financial chaos in this country and the world. The coming financial chaos will lead to civil unrest on a huge scale. Those who have been living on the producers in this society have been led to believe (by the state) they are entitled to the property of others and will take whatever action they deem necessary to secure it.

When millions are unemployed and businesses are failing in greater numbers than today, the state will be forced to seek other methods of revenue collection. If there were to be enacted a federal property owner’s tax, and seizures of private property were initiated to supplement the lack of collected revenue to run the state and its empire, state representatives sent to seize the property would prefer unarmed victims. The state will take the necessary steps to protect its revenue collection actions. If not, then why do we have armed IRS agents?

Is the state capable of killing to achieve its goals? One could always ask Randy Weaver and the Waco survivors, not to mention the families of tens of thousands of soldiers and millions of Vietnamese and Iraqis.

In future writings I will detail the similarities of mass killings perpetrated by Charles Whitman, Patrick Purdy, Klebold and Harris, Seung-Hui Cho, and Jiverly Wong, and the evidence that takes state involvement from guess and conjecture to a possibility.

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Deliberately Misplaced Blame

by Sean W. Malone

Let's play a game. I have a not-so-famous quotation to share with you, and then you guess who said it:

We might have done nothing. That would have been utter ruin. Instead we met the situation with proposals to private business and to Congress of the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of the Republic.

I'll give you a hint; it was spoken by a sitting US president. Not quite enough? How about multiple-choice? Was the speaker

1. Current president Barack Obama
2. Overseer of the first-round, $700 billion bailout George W. Bush
3. New Deal designer Franklin Delano Roosevelt
4. "Hands-off" free-market supporter Herbert Hoover

Ponder that for a minute or two, and we'll come back to the answer later on.

Geesh! Free-market, laissez-faire capitalism sure has been taking a beating in the press lately. The official story seems to be that everyone knows the financial crisis represents a failure of the capitalist system, and now only a "gigantic program of economic defense" will save us.

I suppose that would make plenty of sense, if only the details we're being told day in and day out were actually true.

It's rather amazing the lengths to which many of the people chronicling the economic crisis are willing to stretch the truth in order to ascribe blame to those they wish to be responsible, all the while ignoring those who actually are. One depressingly common tactic, seemingly en vogue at the moment, is to falsely claim that a person said or believed certain wrong-headed things in order to denigrate the person about whom one is making the claim. Examples abound, but the case du jour is Thom Hartmann's traducement of laissez-faire's "intellectual roots" in the Huffington Post:

The intellectual forefathers and mothers of the insane conservative economic policies that have brought us to where we are include Ludwig Von Mises, Friedrich Von Hayeck [sic], Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, Tom Freidman [sic], Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Ayn Rand.

Hartmann will likely get away with this slap-dash conflation of names, simply because the people he impugns are mostly dead and relatively unknown to the average reader. Hartmann isn't alone either; it seems almost daily we read another set of distortions, myths, and outright lies trotted out by similarly minded writers.

The reality, quite unfortunately for Mr. Hartmann and friends, is that his claim is built on a wobbly foundation of misinformation. Why?

Well for starters because Mises, Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Ayn Rand have not a whit to do with Robert Rubin, Tom Friedman, or Larry Summers — and next to nothing to do with Alan Greenspan.

Without delving too heavily into the differences between the Austrian (Mises, Hayek, and as much as she can be considered in any economic "school," Ayn Rand) and the Chicago (Friedman) schools of economics, these names can at least be mentioned together as prominent supporters of economic liberty. But to even mention them in conjunction with the other four names is simply bizarre! Of course, without attaching the former set to the latter, Hartmann's attempt at besmirching the free-market fails spectacularly, as London School economists Rubin and Summers, journalist Tom Friedman and ex-Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan — the only members of Hartmann's hit list who were in any way responsible for policy decisions over the last 30 years — aren't free-marketers at all.

Mises and Hayek in particular, and Ayn Rand (with characteristically vitriolic passion) opposed the very essence of the Federal Reserve and the central-banking system on which the US economy is now based. They also all strongly opposed subsidies, tariffs, protectionist measures of any kind, and would have been positively mortified by the bailouts. Each advocated strong penalties and policing against fraud (in fact, all argued that the only legitimate purpose of government was defense against the initiation of force — protection of natural rights, including life, liberty, and property). Yes, it's no secret they advocated a laissez-faire system, but to suggest that laissez-faire has anything at all to do with the economic policies of the last 30 years — or even the past 100 — is asinine.

So exactly how Thom Hartmann and the dozens of others currently attempting a posthumous defamation of the supporters of economic liberty manage to view them as proponents of the corporatist status quo is simply mind-boggling.

Another attempt at deriving guilt by association that I keep seeing in print involves pointing to Alan Greenspan as a "disciple" of Ayn Rand and concluding that therefore her free-market ideology drove all of his decisions as Federal Reserve chairman. Ergo, Ayn Rand's Objectivism is responsible for the financial meltdown! Right?

Well, no. Aside from the fact that that's a breathtakingly far-reaching proposition to begin with, it's also pretty idiotic if you take into account the second half of the story. Greenspan, you see, was a close friend of Ayn Rand — until he did the very thing she most despised. That is to say, until he became a central economic planner. Truly an offense that was antithetical to the very core of Rand's views on economics. At such a point as Greenspan had become an agent of government intervention into the economy; the supremely uncompromising Ayn Rand summarily booted him from her little club (known ironically as The Collective). Whatever influence Rand had on Greenspan as a younger man, he rejected her views on economics over 40 years ago.

Fallacy after fallacy and ignorance upon ignorance seems to pervade the chattering classes at the moment. Few of them seem even to manage to check Wikipedia — the laziest of all research methods. Perhaps they're too busy?

But the truly astounding part is that people like Hartmann and the scores of others currently trying so desperately to blame the "free market" for this crisis, perhaps owing to the echo-chambers that seem to generate most "news" these days, talk out of both sides of their mouths. They know we don't have a free market. How could they not, when they're also trying to blame Summers, Rubin, and especially Greenspan — the very planners of the current economy?

Central economic planning and laissez-faire capitalism are completely incompatible concepts — by definition. You cannot have both a top-down economy "guided" by bureaucrats, politicians, and bankers who set tariffs, control prices and wages, and even set the value of the currency by fiat and a bottom-up economy where individual market participants determine all of those things through their freely determined choices.

Part of the problem, I think, lies in people's conflation of free-market capitalism and corporatism (what some in the media unfortunately like to call "crony capitalism"), where government colludes with businesses and provides special benefits and tax provisions, and looks the other way on accounting fraud and other crimes. From there, the further assumption is that people like Ayn Rand, Mises, Hayek, and Friedman were just shilling for large corporations, idolizing businessmen, and glorifying "greed," and thus would have approved of the bailouts and special handouts for the fat-cat bankers. But corporatism is no more free-market oriented than communism is — and all four of the supposed villains knew it.

While I suppose I can understand the confusion to an extent, this misunderstanding has resulted in the common narrative being so wildly inaccurate it's getting hard to stomach.

Sadly, it's all indicative of a bigger problem. The narrative itself is being shaped before our very eyes. Over time, it will come to be generally accepted as historical "fact." Our children will learn the stories of the financial collapse of 2008. And everything they will be told about its causes, the philosophical roots, the main players, it's prolonging, and even the reasons for the next 20 years of (inevitable) inflation will be lies. The fact that it was the Austrians — the heirs of Mises and Hayek — like Peter Schiff who publicly predicted the collapse (and were ridiculed for it) will largely get swept under the rug. That is, unless those of us who are actually interested in truth and liberty stand up right now and come together to defend it.

Oh, and the answer was D — President Herbert Hoover, during his acceptance speech for the Republican Party nomination in 1932.

So how could the man who created "the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of the Republic" during the first few years of the Great Depression also have been a hands-off laissez-faire advocate?

Easy. He wasn't.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Portugal's drug decriminalization 'bizarrely underappreciated': Greenwald

by Rachel Oswald

Champions of harsh drug criminalization laws as the best solution to curbing drug use will be chagrined to find that Portugal’s eight year history of decriminalization has led to lower drug usage rates.

According to a new report entitled, “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies,” while drug use across the European Union has risen steadily since 2000, Portugal, which has the most liberal drug laws of any country, has actually seen its prevalence rates decrease in various age groups since it decriminalized all drugs in 2001. Prevalence rates measure how many people have consumed drugs over the course of their lifetime.

“I think it’s bizarrely underappreciated what’s been done in Portugal,” said Salon writer Glenn Greenwald, who authored the report. Greenwald, who speaks fluent Portuguese, traveled to Portugal in 2008 to study the affects of drug decriminalization in the country.

Because drugs were not legalized outright in Portugal, violations of laws prohibiting drug possession for personal usage are now merely treated as administrative offenses and carry with them no criminal charges. Drug trafficking, however, continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense in the country.

Compared to the low to moderate levels of drug use in Portugal since decriminalization went into effect, the majority of EU states have drug use rates that are double and triple that of Portugal today, according to the report.

Greenwald, who presented his findings at a Friday event at the Cato Institute, which sponsored the writing of the report, noted that the United Kingdom and Estonia, EU nations with some of the harshest criminalization laws, also have the highest cocaine usage rates in the EU.

“None of the fears promulgated by opponents of Portuguese decriminalization has come to fruition, whereas many of the benefits predicted by drug policymakers from instituting a decriminalization regime have been realized," writes Greenwald in the report. "While drug addiction, usage, and associated pathologies continue to skyrocket in many EU states, those problems—in virtually every relevant category—have been either contained or measurably improved within Portugal since 2001.”

Greenwald said the strongest evidence in Portugal that supports drug decriminalization is the declining usage of drugs in the crucial 15-19 age group.

In every single drug category, with the exception of the new drugs that have come into popular usage since 2001, like ketamine and GHB, teen drug use has declined. The biggest drug category declines were seen in marijuana, which saw teen drug use slip from just over 10 percent in 2001 to 6 percent in 2006.

“Drug policymakers are ecstatic about this,” Greenwald said.

Since decriminalization took effect in Portugal, deaths as a result of drug usage have declined significantly. Opiate-related deaths experienced the biggest drop, falling from about 275 deaths in 2000 to about 125 in 2006, according to information provided in the report from the Portugal National Institute of Legal Medicine.

The Portugal report, which also tracked drug usage rates outside of the European Union (the region of the world that has gone the farthest in decriminalizing drug usage), found that “by and large usage rates for each category of drugs continue to be lower in the EU than in non-EU states with a far more criminalized approach to drug usage.”

Tim Lynch, director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, said, “For a very long time all of the academics, who studied drug policy, had to acknowledge one reality -- that the drug policy of the United States is the drug policy of the world.”

That premise, however, is now changing.

Read the rest at the original story by clicking here.

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Mainstream news in Europe: Nano-thermite used on 9/11 to bring down World Trade Towers

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About Those Conservative Tax Protesters

by Anthony Gregory

It’s wonderful that rightwingers are making noise all around America through the Tea Party tax protests. We must remember, however, that this April 15th we are still suffering the burden of Bush’s leviathan government. We are filing for 2008, the last year of Republican rule. We are still and will long be enduring the cost of Bush’s wars, spending and bailouts. We should be wary of letting the Republican establishment co-opt the grassroots, anti-government spirit of these protests and turn them into a platform to shill for GOP statism.

For eight years, Republican protest of income taxation was scant. Some conservatives complained quietly about Bush’s domestic welfare spending, but all in all they were apologists for the regime we are still paying for. They certainly did not talk about the state as their enemy, as many of them do today. The quickness of their transition to opposition rhetoric has been staggering.

"Tyranny vs. liberty," "the collective vs. the individual," "the state vs. you" – this is suddenly the language of the conservative movement. Well, that is not quite right: The conservatives have still maintained their excitement about national greatness and war.

The contradiction is a wonder to behold. In one breath, they talk about the fundamental violations of natural rights and constitutional law that modern American statism represents. In the next breath, they decry the president for being insufficiently enthusiastic about American imperialism and the national security state. He is too soft on foreigners and not proud enough of the history of the US war machine – this is still a key rightwing criticism of Obama, right alongside the contradictory claim that Obama puts love of the national government ahead of individual rights.

Conservatives seem to define tyranny as losing to the Democrats, just as Jon Stewart has said. And so now they echo the rhetoric of the American colonists who stood up for independence, even as they still speak the language of empire. Sean Hannity and others of his kind say the "conservative underground" and Tea Party revolts are not just about opposing socialism and high taxes – they are also about reclaiming "American Exceptionalism," the idea that the American national warfare state is just and good, even holy, and that we oppressed patriots will not countenance a president insufficiently enamored of American imperial glory. Presumably, as today’s conservatives see it, the American colonists dumping British tea were also upset that the British Crown was inadequately boastful of English Exceptionalism, cutting spending on the British empire and coddling the enemies of England’s occupying armies. (Actually, there is one fair parallel here: the American nationalists wanted the French-Indian war, and then didn’t want to pay for it. Same American nationalism, different war.)

The rightwing criticism of Obama’s dovishness is not just ironic but, unlike the criticism of his collectivism, it is 100% off the mark. Obama is increasing military spending, going well beyond Bush in arguing for secretive, unchecked presidential power, widening the war into Pakistan and redirecting military resources toward uses of active belligerence. He is commissioning fewer Cold War weapons so as to build more weapons for actual use in today’s conflict. He is not calling it a war on terrorism but is ramping up the policies, at home and in most theaters abroad. He is a more pragmatic and thus more effective warmonger than the neocons. A New Left peacenik he is not.

So the right hates taxes but loves the wars and rightwing projects that make them necessary. Furthermore, their government under Bush was so enormous that it could not finance itself on taxation alone – much of his warmongering and central planning was funded through borrowing, even as his Ownership Society relied on inflationary easy credit. The depression we face resulted mostly from these policies and every single horrible thing Obama is doing had its precedents in the Bush era. Indeed, the Republicans made such a mess that a full Democratic takeover and move toward socialism were practically inevitable.

Looking further into the rightwing contradiction, we see more paradoxes abound. The liberals in power want to use the No-Fly List to disarm Americans. Conservatives are horrified. Rahm Emanuel says that suspected terrorists should obviously not be allowed to have guns. The rightwing, which a year ago trusted the government to define who was and was not a terrorist and strip him of his freedoms of speech, due process, privacy and travel, thinks the idea of using the same government determinations to take away Americans’ guns is tyranny itself.

Conservatives complain about government listing them as potential violent agitators due to their anti-tax, pro-gun politics, but mostly defended the Bush government as it spied on antiwar activists and created the fusion centers that now associate conservative ideas with dangerous militias. The conservatives worry about Obama putting the UN above the American system of government, yet they thought a UN mandate was plenty good reason to go to war with Iraq, regardless of having no official Congressional declaration of war. The conservatives fear national service, but for much of the last decade, serving the nation-state and especially its enforcement agencies was considered the height of patriotism. They now say Obama’s social planning will fail in America; for years they championed U.S. economic planning and public works projects in Iraq.

This April 15, Americans have to prove to the government that they paid their taxes for 2008, to fund Bush’s empire and corporatism. Perhaps this is why conservatives want to emphasize not just their anti-tax rhetoric, but the areas where Obama’s current policies stray from their own program. And here, most of what conservatives say is either disingenuous, given their previous sycophancy for the profligate and invasive Bush regime, or a monstrous call for even more bloodshed.

It is a tragedy that today, when liberals have taken over and have a thousand plans to micromanage domestic life, nationalize our children, socialize finance and industry, institute a global New Deal and enlist the whole country in left-liberal national-socialism, the red-state fascists have become the dominant opposition, stealing half of our rhetoric while maintaining so much of the hypocrisy and statism of the Bush era. Instead of America Firsters, they are like they were out of power during the Cold War, bashing the president for being too soft on the enemy. Instead of upholding a model of free enterprise, they continue to defend the Bush legacy, ignore the depth of the financial crisis and refuse to put nearly enough blame for it on the Republicans – when most of it belongs to them. Instead of rediscovering the Constitution, they have only rediscovered the half of it they like. Instead of truly embracing individual liberty in all its implications, they still want the federal government to mold society to their liking, punish vice, maintain their favored demographics and police the planet.

Bush created the biggest bubble ever in the name of free enterprise and waged two wars with potentially cataclysmic implications for a century to come. He was like a Hoover and Wilson mixed in one, and by refusing to reject Bush conservatism as strongly as Obama liberalism, today’s conservative movement is still more than a let-down as opposition to the Obama nightmare. Until conservatives adopt libertarianism, the love of peace and freedom regardless of party, they can only be taken so seriously when they complain that taxes are too high.

Thankfully, there are more Americans than ever who eschew the statism of both right and left, who seek liberty, peace and free markets. Those who resent tax day and are searching for real solutions can join our ranks, rejecting the conservative as well as liberal policies that have gotten us into this mess.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Party 2009

Special thanks to Musings of a Bipolar Freak's blog.
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Mad As Hell on Tax Day!

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Debt Star

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Partisan Morons

Recently, I was followed on Twitter (so I returned the favor) by a woman who, it turns out, is an intern for a Demopublican somewhere. From her, I receive inundations of partisan attacks on various things several times a day.

I'm deliberately not telling you which political party she belongs to because that's not really the point here. Whether she's a Demopublican or a Republocrat makes no difference. Why?

Because only a total idiot can't see that the two parties are the same damn thing!

Anyone who still thinks that Republicans are somehow markedly different than Democrats or that Democrats are somehow fundamentally opposed to Republicans doesn't pay attention to anything but today's up-to-the-minute propaganda while totally ignoring any kind of recent history.

Let me tell you the two fundamental differences between Democrats and Republicans:

1) One has a donkey as its symbol and the other has an elephant.
2) One will take your money and give it to government bureaucrats and the other will take your money and give it to large corporations.

So...tell me again how one is somehow totally different from the other (politically) again?

Exactly. They're the same damn thing.

So I have a novel solution to fix partisan politics once and for all. This solution is so radical, so different from what's normally proposed, and yet so simple and basic, that it's sure to catch on. In fact, this idea is so fundamentally obvious that I'm amazed it hasn't been thought of before.


Yep. Told you it was simple. Let's just throw out all members of both political parties. Kick 'em all to the streets.

Sure, it will raise unemployment rates, but since these jackaphants don't really have jobs anyway (they get paid by taking our money, after all), it's not really an economic net loss.

"But," you say, "who do we replace them with? I mean, we NEED someone to lead us!"

To which I say, "Nay nay, good soul. We can lead ourselves."

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Obama-conomics For Tax Day

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Preparation for the 2010 Census!

by Gary D. Barnett

I’m not going to lecture anyone here or attempt to describe, define, outline, analyze or rewrite the constitution. I am not going to go through the historical reasoning set forth for census taking and I will not even speak of the initiation of this tainted policy in this country. As an aside, I do realize that we are currently in an economic depression, and that worrying about a government census at this time seems minor, but is it really? I am simply trying to warn all those who still remember what liberty is, and all those who now have a new or reawakened curiosity about freedom, what to expect from the 2010 census and the census taking gendarmes who will soon be harassing all of us. And given the current high unemployment rate, government officials will have an over-abundance of choices to fill the part-time census taker jobs. I don’t consider this to be advantageous as government will be able to choose more obnoxious and more power-driven individuals to do its bidding than normal.

This is not a new subject matter for me as I have been threatened by the U.S. Census Bureau in the past. In a previous article, "Threatened by the Census Bureau," I talked about the intimidating and threatening approach that this organization uses to scare the citizenry into compliance. In my case, at least concerning the incident mentioned in the above article, I was threatened with fines and/or imprisonment if I did not comply. The only census that is to be taken according to our constitution, an obvious affront to liberty regardless of its so-called legality, is a simple head count every ten years. Therefore, the business census that I was sent was fully unconstitutional.

Already, the federal and state governments are preparing for this invasion of our privacy. The complicit mainstream media has been hired by government to announce and solicit compliance with this survey. Even my local radio station and newspaper are running ads for census taker positions daily. Testing centers have been opened and applicants are being interviewed. High wages are being offered to anyone willing to strong-arm the local populace. If this is going on here in my small community, it must be going on in every community. Just what is the cost of such a venture and how many new government agents will be hired to take on this task of counting heads?

The main problem, of course, is that over the years the U.S. census has taken on a new, lengthy and very intrusive nature. The census for 2010 though, as claimed by the Census Bureau, will be one of the shortest on record. Before you jump to the incorrect conclusion that the government is paring back its plan to know anything and everything about you, some explanation is in order. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s site, the 2010 census will be a "short form census" only. This is deceiving. The long form that is normally sent to 1 in 6 families during the actual census, "The American Community Survey," (52 pages) will not be sent in the 2010 census count. The bureau claims that "Decoupling the short form and long form allows the Census Bureau to focus efforts on the constitutional requirements to produce a count of the resident population, employ technology to improve efficiencies, provide more timely data, improve coverage accuracy, and contain costs while keeping operational risk to a minimum." This statement is simply a smoke and mirrors statement (a lie in other words) intended to pacify the public at large. The American Community Survey or long form, that used to go to 1 in 6 households during the decennial count, is now being sent to many every year. In addition, other census surveys, such as the business survey I received, are also being sent on a regular basis. All these surveys are mandatory. This means that there could be very adverse consequences should one refuse to comply! Are you beginning to get the picture?

In other words, the Census Bureau is as nosy as ever, even more so, and they are using the threat of force against those willing to stand up for their rights. The government is now just rearranging the process so as to give a false impression. So what else is new? Lying, cheating and misleading the citizenry is the government’s modus operandi.

Now to the meat of the problem! In my opinion, the harassment and threats for non-compliance will be intensified and more obvious than ever this coming year. Since I wrote my first article concerning this subject, I have received letter after letter from many who have been harassed, threatened, intimidated and just plain bothered by census takers. These people (census takers) are trained to not take no for an answer and they can be and will be aggressive and abrasive. I have always tended to be polite and to tell them only how many people are in my household. If they persisted in their endeavor, I simply asked them to leave my property. If they continued to be impolite, I then demanded that they leave my property at once, or I would take other measures. That, at least considering personal contact situations, has been enough to solve the problem so far. This has not been the case, however, considering other types of census taking. I believe that the Community and Business surveys, if not adhered to, will be the cause of more government wrath visited upon those properly refusing to answer such intrusive questions.

One particular individual has written to me on several occasions and explained exactly what was going on due to not fully complying with one of these very unconstitutional surveys. This individual received threats, letters from census supervisors and several personal visits without prior notice. One census worker was actually hanging around trying to find an opportunity to confront this citizen. Fortunately, this person never complied, but most under these same circumstances would have. I find this troubling and wish more would stand up to these simpletons doing the bidding of leviathan.

Much of the problem stems from the fact that local, state and federal agencies depend on "good" census participation in order to allocate more federal dollars. There is also the little discussed advantage of capturing and recording extreme amounts of personal data from the now vassal-like society dependent on government. According to the 2010 Census Bureau site, there are many needs concerning the census, so many questions on the census are followed by a list of Community Benefits gained due to answers given. These so-called Community Benefits include education, government, planning, social services, employment, housing, banking, etc. I don’t know how one can separate this agenda from something akin to a socialist or communistic agenda, but I do know that attempts by government to plan society are antithetical to liberty, and therefore should be shunned.

The incentives for forced compliance are evident and at all levels of government, but the incentives for us to resist this invasion should be stronger than government’s will to control us. For those willing to stand up to these trimmers in government, confrontations are likely, and I should know, as I have now seen this dynamic from more than one angle. But I hope that during this upcoming census many will stand their ground and put these imbeciles in their place! Just how much more are we going to take?

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Tax Facts to Make Your Head Explode!

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Free West Radio

I just wanted to send a quick shout to everyone who might be reading this today that my good friend Dale Williams is on the air twice weekly on K-Talk Radio (KTKK) at AM630 in Utah and live on the Web at the same time.

He's just launched a new website titled Free West Radio that features show updates, schedules, and archives. Great stuff from a long-time freedom fighter and friend of mine, Dale Williams.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Introducing the Government-Backed DMV Automotive Repair Center!

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Government Based on Coercion Cannot Be Tamed

by Michael S. Rozeff

The U.S. federal government is on a course of self-destruction. People of many political persuasions know this. People who are against coercive government know this. People who favor coercive government know this. People who do not mind if the federal government self-destructs know this, and people who want to save the federal government know this.

From a scientific viewpoint, one of the interesting aspects of a government that is self-destructing is that the process cannot be stopped, even when people who want to stop it, try. Government based on coercion cannot be tamed. It keeps on running until the clock stops ticking and the bomb goes off.

The Committee for a Responsible Budget, which is part of the New America Foundation, consists of Washington insiders. It chairman is William Frenzel. Leon Panetta was a co-chair up until joining the CIA. The Board of Directors is strictly Establishment. So are the Directors. Among them are Vic Fazio, Alice Rivlin, Robert Reischauer, Lawrence Summers, David Stockman, Paul Volcker, and David M. Walker. These people support the State, the federal government, the republic, democracy, and the Constitution. They would vigorously deny that they don’t.

These people do not want the federal government to destroy itself, but they tell us in no uncertain terms that the federal government is on precisely that course. It is precisely because this committee is made up of numerous Washington establishment figures that their statements are useful in complementing and confirming the observations of LRC writers, who might otherwise be viewed as unduly radical, alarmist, or biased. Here is a sample of statements coming out of this committee. See here, here, here, here, here, and here.

"The economy is in crisis, the deficit is out of control, all of the Bush tax cuts are about to expire, and the tax code is in many ways broken – this is no time to think small," remarked Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

"Borrowing has ballooned to unimaginable levels. A $1 trillion deficit – more than twice the previous record – now appears to be a conservative estimate for fiscal year 2009. The debt is already over $10 trillion. And to paraphrase President-elect Obama, economic conditions will probably get worse before they get better. Yet as bad as things seem today, the future looks bleaker. The projected rapid growth in spending – driven primarily by the aging of the population and health care cost growth – will put this country’s fiscal and economic health in permanent jeopardy. If not brought under control or paid for with new revenue, this growth will turn trillion dollar deficits from an exception to the norm.

"In its recent Budget Outline, the Administration claims to reduce the deficit by paying for its new initiatives, winding down the war in Iraq, and raising taxes on higher earners. In their budget, the Administration displays policy changes relative to a current policy baseline... The budget relative to the standard current-law baseline, however, reduces taxes, increases mandatory spending, and increases the deficit."

"Including the costs of his health care plan, spending would grow considerably under President Obama’s budget. Under the current law baseline, outlays would return to a fairly average level of GDP after the costs of the current economic and financial crisis have passed. Under the President’s budget, however, outlays as a share of the economy would reach a permanently higher level, and would only grow from there as population aging and rising health care costs take their toll on the budget.

"Mandatory payments – the combination of mandatory programs and net interest spending – increase from 62 percent of total government spending in 2008 to 72 percent of total spending in 2019 under the President’s budget.

"While it makes sense that the President would advocate for the policies on which he campaigned, we worry about the introduction of too much new permanent spending before addressing the unsustainable growth of existing programs.

"The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has warned that the President’s budget is not aggressive enough in reducing the medium or long-term deficit, and CBO’s [Congressional Budget Office] analysis projects a significantly worse situation than the Administration does, with the President’s Budget plan resulting in larger and continuously rising budget deficits.

"The budget proposal would increase the debt held by the public from $5.8 trillion, or 40.8 percent of GDP, in 2008 to $17.3 trillion, or 82.4 percent of GDP, by 2019.

"CBO’s recent analysis of the President’s budget paints a dismal fiscal picture, with deficits not only continuing, but increasing, as far as the eye can see, and debt growing to levels not seen since World War II. Although large short-term deficits may be necessary to put the economy on a path to recovery, debt cannot sustainably continue to grow as a percent of GDP over the long-term. If deficits are not eventually reduced to manageable levels, they will threaten long-term economic growth and impair the normal functions and flexibility of government."

Being supporters of the State, this Committee recommends the only remedy available to the government to prevent fiscal disaster: higher taxes.

"The Task Force would be wise to focus on base broadening by making recommendations to reform tax expenditures, and it should explore alternative means of raising revenue. Additionally, the Committee recommends that the Administration remove the restriction that prohibits the consideration of tax increases for families making under $250,000 a year."

No doubt, the projections of the alarmed Establishment are conservative! If any serious budget analyst were to go through the budget carefully and pinpoint all of its rosy assumptions that are unlikely ever to occur, the deficit projections would be even greater. Based on these optimistic deficit projections, the Obama budget shows debt doubling between 2008 and 2013. The rise is likely to be even greater. It then shows debt rising by less than 50 percent between 2013 and 2019, as in the best years of the nineties. Given the sour economy, falling tax revenues, and higher government spending, this is a pipe dream.

And so, in the good old American way, the Washington insiders attempt to alter the course of the government while preserving it. Their goal is to tame the government. It’s not going to happen. It can’t be done.

Why not? Why can government not be reformed? The government we have is coercive by construction. The law of the land is coercive by construction. They involve majority rule in which one group is able legally to impose its wishes on other groups by force.

A non-coercive government can be reformed. People only need to stop using its services. It then either shapes up and responds to people’s needs or it loses out to alternative means of governance.

A coercive government invariably imposes losses on some while providing gains to others. (The same person may gain from one vote and lose from another.) To survive, the state has to juggle these losses and gains so as to not to alienate too many people. Power has to ensconce itself. It cannot rely solely on the use and threat of force. That is too costly a means to maintain power. Instead, it seeks to make itself indispensable. It seeks to weave itself into the basic fabric of daily life. It inserts itself into basic needs that involve food, health, money, financing, education, and so on. Thus, the survival of the State goes hand-in-hand with growth in government because the growth allows the State to entangle many more people in many more ways so that undoing the resulting society becomes too costly and scary a possibility to the people caught in the web.

Furthermore, the growth of government is assured by a second circumstance, which is that the use of power attracts people who want to use that power and who compete to use that power.

Any attempt to cut back this growth or tame it poses a threat to the State’s survival and to the power-using inclinations of those in power. Such attempts at reform open up politics to new negotiations, new votes, new priorities, and new coalitions. They threaten to reduce the scope of power exercised by rulers. They alert the citizenry to entirely new possibilities. They unhinge old and established alliances and interests. In all reform movements lie great risks to the established system, interests, and people in power. If they cannot control these reforms, they will want to squelch them. If they control them, you can be sure that no real reforms will be forthcoming.

The governing establishment, left and right, is highly conservative in one major respect, which is the maintenance and extension of the existing power structure and hold of coercive government over the private lives and liberties of Americans. Not wanting to take the risks of reforming government and having much to gain by extending government, the government grows.

The interesting phenomenon emerges, which is that the government grows too much and risks its own destruction, even while those who are close to government, in and out, see that the government’s very survival is threatened. This is because growing government is advantageous to the rulers, both personally and in terms of managing to hold power over society, and because cutting government back opens up many political risks. It is far easier for those out of power, like many on the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, to identify the survival threat and warn against it, than it is for those in power to do anything about it. Those in power want to retain power and get re-elected. Their time horizons are rather short. It hardly pays them to do something for the long-term good, even of the government, especially when that something involves large political risks. To upset one or two constituencies by cutting back their benefits may mean losing office.

There is no question but that the unmitigated profligacy of Bush II and now Obama is hastening the day when the federal government implodes and takes the country on a far from merry ride downhill. Labeling them (fascist and socialist) hardly even matters. Obama is now fully responsible for the slide. His across-the-board spending increases in all departments of government are not stimulus. The intent is to exercise power, especially by Democrats. The intent is to give us bigger government, as his anti-Reagan rhetoric makes clear. (Reagan gave us bigger government too.) Bush gave us Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama gives us Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama accuses Bush of irresponsibility. He then turns around and gives us a new era of irresponsibility.

The conclusion, which I pose as a theorem of political dynamics, is that government based on coercion cannot be tamed. Coercive governments can and do commit suicide.

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3 Great Reasons to Pay Your Taxes!

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New Chamber index shows conservatives aren't corporate pawns

by Timothy P. Carney

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., had the most conservative voting record in 2008 according to the American Conservative Union (ACU), and was a “taxpayer hero” according to the National Taxpayer’s Union (NTU), but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says his 2008 record was less pro-business than Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.

Similarly, Texas libertarian GOPer Rep. Ron Paul—the most steadfast congressional opponent of regulation, taxation, and any sort of government intervention in business—scored lower than 90% of Democrats last year on the Chamber’s scorecard.

Liberal Democrats often accuse conservative Republicans of being pawns for Big Business, but the 2008 scorecard for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the largest lobbying organization in the country and the official Washington voice of business—provides convincing evidence to the contrary. In fact, the policy agenda of big business can be very different from that of limited-government conservatives and libertarians.

Four Republican senators failed to earn the Chamber’s “Spirit of Enterprise Award” (earned for scoring 70% or above): DeMint, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Jon Kyl of Arizona, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

These are among the most fiscally conservative, pro-limited government members of the upper chamber—which is precisely their error, in the eyes of the Chamber. The heroes of the small government cause are the goats of the big business cause.

DeMint, for instance, picked up the highest score last year from NTU, and Kyl and Inhofe were close behind—all three winning NTU’s “Taxpayer Friend” awards.

Similarly, DeMint picked up the only perfect Senate score from ACU, while Kyl and Inhofe tied for second with 96%.

With which votes did these GOP lawmakers earn Chamber scorn? Kyl, Inhofe, DeMint, and Sessions were four of the eight senators to vote Nay July 31 on the “College Opportunity and Affordability Act,” creating $34 million in new subsidies for colleges, probably driving up tuition at taxpayers’ expense rather than making college more affordable.

These four also voted against the Chamber’s position by opposing President George W. Bush’s February 2008 stimulus bill that sent checks to taxpayers. The “rebates” were one-time tax credits that excluded higher-income earners but included some people with no income tax liability.

Conservatives instead proposed long-term, broad-based tax cuts—for example, making permanent the 2001 tax cuts set to expire in 2011—as opposed to one-time stunts turning the IRS into a welfare agency.

And, of course, DeMint, Inhofe, and Sessions upset the Chamber by voting against the massive $700 billion Wall Street bailout—which has since grown into a Detroit bailout, and a tool which the Obama administration is using to tell banks and carmakers how to run their businesses.

The Great Wall Street Bailout will prove someday to be the crucial victory for government control over the economy, and for voting Nay on a rushed vote to pass this unprecedented measure, some conservative lawmakers were scorned by the business lobby.

Sessions, Inhofe, and Kyl also voted last April against a package of tax deductions for “renewable energy”—effectively corporate welfare for unprofitable technologies.
On the House side, it’s a similar picture. The Republican with the lowest Chamber score was Paul. Even Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, who wants to regulate everything except Fannie Mae, scored 14 points higher than Paul on the Chamber’s scorecard.
Eleven House Republicans failed to win the Chamber’s award—a mixture of libertarian/conservative members like Paul and liberal members like then-Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD.

All but Gilchrest in this group of “business unfriendly” Republicans earned a black mark from the Chamber for voting against the Wall Street bailout twice. And conservative Republicans Paul, Ted Poe of Texas, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Jack Kingston of Georgia, Paul Broun of Georgia, and Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin voted against the college aid bill, while seven of the 11 voted against Bush’s stimulus.

In June, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill drafted by the Chamber in coordination with advocates for the disabled that expanded the definition of “disability.” At the time, the conservative Heritage Foundation wrote, “the House bill is supported by some business lobbies (representing mostly larger corporations), it is small businesses that are likely to suffer disproportionately.”
Two other House votes that pit conservatives against the Chamber: An authorization bill for NASA, outspending the Bush administration’s funding request by 15%,, and a bill to beef up copyright enforcement and create a copyright czar.

Advocates of bigger government like to assail their opponents as pawns of big business. The Chamber’s shunning of DeMint and Paul will hopefully help put that lie to rest.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

CIA Torture Jet Crashes, Loaded With 4 Tons of Cocaine

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Victory for Pet Owners! San Marcos, TX, Overturns Microchip Mandate

by Katherine Albrecht
Local animal owners no longer required to chip their pets

The City Council of San Marcos, Texas, unanimously voted this week to rescind a mandatory pet microchipping ordinance that would have required all pets within city limits to receive an injected implant. The 7 to 0 vote was made at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night. All members were present and voted, including Mayor Susan Clifford-Narvaiz, according to San Marcos Communications Director Melissa Millecam.

The chipping ordinance was originally adopted last December and was slated to take effect on April 1st. The measure had sparked months of heated opposition and repeated demonstrations by local residents, including a protest and candlelight vigil at the March 3rd City Council meeting that drew a crowd of over 300 people.

The March 3rd protest took place during the last City Council meeting, and was heavily covered by the local television and print media. The protest, combined with the empassioned testimony of numerous local residents, prompted the City Council to agree to reconsider the measure at its March 31st meeting, at which point the measure was overturned.

Revisions to the ordinance passed "on emergency" Tuesday night, and removed the microchipping requirement effective immediately. The City Council also voted to lift the prohibition against the sale or adoption of animals in parking lots and to allow the keeping of hens in residential areas.

"We applaud the San Marcos City Council for this decision," said local activist Lisa Marie Coppoletta, who helped organize the March 3rd rally. "Chipping should be a voluntary decision between pet owners and their veterinarians. It should never be mandated by the government."

Opponents of mandatory chipping cite research linking the implants with cancer in dogs, as well as peer-reviewed studies showing that 1% to 10% of laboratory animals injected with implantable microchips develop cancer around the implants. They say this information is well known to Home Again parent company Schering Plough, but that the company has withheld the information from pet owners and the veterinary community.

Debate over the chipping ordinance heated up in February when a longhaired chihuahua named Charlie Brown bled to death just hours after receiving a microchip implant mandated by Los Angeles County.

"As people become more aware of the dangers of microchip implants, we expect other communities to follow suit," said Dr. Katherine Albrecht, a nationally-known RFID microchip expert and liberty activist who flew in from New Hampshire to speak at the March 3rd event and share her research with the City Council. "We are pleased that San Marcos officials responded appropriately to the groundswell of opposition to this technology."

Albrecht, who has extensively researched the microchip-cancer connection, expressed concern that government officials have been issuing microchip mandates without reviewing all of the facts. In addition, she points out that many members of the public view microchip mandates as an inappropriate incursion on pet owners' rights.

"Such laws set a bad precedent with a controversial and unpopular technology," Albrecht said. "The San Marcos episode serves as a reminder to government officials everywhere that the people--and their pets--will not tolerate forced chipping. We'll be taking this message, and this movement, nationwide," she added.

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The G20 moves the world a step closer to a global currency

The world is a step closer to a global currency, backed by a global central bank, running monetary policy for all humanity.
by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

A single clause in Point 19 of the communiqué issued by the G20 leaders amounts to revolution in the global financial order.

"We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (£170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity," it said. SDRs are Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund that has lain dormant for half a century.

In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF's power to create money and begin global "quantitative easing". In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body. Conspiracy theorists will love it.

It has been a good summit for the IMF. Its fighting fund for crises is to be tripled overnight to $750bn. This is real money.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director, said in February that the world was "already in Depression" and risked a slide into social disorder and military conflict unless political leaders resorted to massive stimulus.

He has not won everything he wanted. The spending plan was fudged. While Gordon Brown talked of $5 trillion in global stimulus by 2010, this is mostly made up of packages already under way.

But Mr Strauss-Kahn at least has resources fit for his own task. He will need them. The IMF is already bailing out Pakistan, Iceland, Latvia, Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, Bosnia and Romania. This week Mexico became the first G20 state to ask for help. It has secured a precautionary credit line of $47bn.

Gordon Brown said it took 15 years for the world to grasp the nettle after Great Crash in 1929. "This time I think people will agree that it has been different," he said.

President Barack Obama was less dramatic. "I think we did OK," he said. Bretton Woods in 1944 was a simpler affair. "Just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that's an easy negotiation, but that's not the world we live in."

There will be $250bn in trade finance to kick-start shipping after lenders cut back on Letters of Credit after September's heart attack in the banking system. Global trade volumes fell at annual rate of 41pc from November to January, according to Holland's CPB institute – the steepest peacetime fall on record.

Euphoria swept emerging markets yesterday as the first reports of the IMF boost circulated. Investors now know that countries like Mexico can arrange a credit facility able to cope with major shocks – and do so on supportive terms, rather than the hair-shirt deflation policies of the old IMF. Fear is receding again.

The Russians had hoped their idea to develop SDRs as a full reserve currency to challenge the dollar would make its way on to the agenda, but at least they got a foot in the door.

There is now a world currency in waiting. In time, SDRs are likely evolve into a parking place for the foreign holdings of central banks, led by the People's Bank of China. Beijing's moves this week to offer $95bn in yuan currency swaps to developing economies show how fast China aims to break dollar dependence.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the summit had achieved more than he ever thought possible, and praised Gordon Brown for pursuing the collective interest as host rather than defending "Anglo-Saxon" interests. This has a double-edged ring, for it suggests that Mr Brown may have traded pockets of the British financial industry to satisfy Franco-German demands. The creation of a Financial Stability Board looks like the first step towards a global financial regulator. The devil is in the details.

Hedge funds deemed "systemically important" will come under draconian restraints. How this is enforced will determine whether Mayfair's hedge-fund industry – 80pc of all European funds are there – will continue to flourish.

It seems that hedge funds have been designated for ritual sacrifice, even though they played no more than a cameo role in the genesis of this crisis. It was not they who took on extreme debt leverage: it was the banks – up to 30 times in the US and nearer 60 times for some in Europe that used off-books "conduits" to increase their bets. The market process itself is sorting this out in any case – brutally – forcing banks to wind down their leverage. The problem right now is that this is happening too fast.

But to the extent that this G20 accord makes it impossible for the "shadow banking" to resurrect itself in the next inevitable cycle of risk appetite, it may prevent another disaster of this kind.

The key phrase is "new rules aimed at avoiding excessive leverage and forcing banks to put more money aside during good times." This is more or less what the authorities agreed after the Depression. Complacency chipped away at the rules as the decades passed. It is the human condition, and we can't change that.

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Then, On the Sixth Day, He Took Over the Auto Industry …

by Vin Suprynowicz

The typical American automobile in the early 1920s was easy to describe. It was boxy and black, offered a manual transmission only, and sported a straight-up four-cylinder engine. Creature comforts were few. On the bright side, if your car tipped over on a sharp turn – as the top-heavy contraptions were wont to do – two strong men could usually set the thing upright, little the worse for wear.

On the front were four letters: “Ford.”

A decade later, despite hard economic times, America’s streets teemed with cars in every color of the rainbow. They were far more streamlined. Six and even eight-cylinder engines in more efficient and powerful configurations succeeded one another rapidly. Manufacturers vied with one another to advertise new and better features both mechanical and aesthetic.

What had happened? History has two names for what had happened, both of which (at one time) meant the same thing:

1. Free-market competition.
2. Chevrolet.

Henry Ford had famously said Americans could have any color car they wanted, as long as it was black. What it took to change his mind were competitors with better ideas. Innovative, vibrant American auto manufacturing raced to a world leadership position which was not seriously threatened for half a century.

So why has American free-market auto manufacturing failed, today?

It’s not at all clear it has. Auto manufacturing in America has been subject to an ever-tightening noose of government regulation over the past 30 years, the most onerous being “fleet fuel efficiency standards” which require U.S. manufacturers to make a certain percentage of light, less safe, high-gas-mileage vehicles to which buyers give the cold shoulder (and which can’t be sold for enough to cover inflated union “legacy” labor costs, anyway).

The industry tried to hang on by making up profits solely on the bigger, heavier vehicles that U.S. consumers love and our masters in Washington love to hate. To sell more, they offered easier and easier credit. That created a bubble.

Free-market capitalism has developed a systematic way to organize and minimize the pain of contracting bubbles. Two of America’s Big Three automakers probably need to shed their costly union contracts by going through a bankruptcy – a real one, not a “directed bankruptcy” with union contract declared off limits from the start.

Such a course would still leave them in the hands of free-market entrepreneurs (albeit new ones), making decisions in which they know their own capital is at risk.

But the Obama administration, deeply beholden to the unions, wants no part of that orderly economic solution. Instead, as became obvious this weekend, the U.S. government, through its “bail-outs,” has de facto taken over the auto industry.

President Obama over the weekend forced out long-time General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner (yes, as in “Chevrolet”); gave Chrysler just 30 days to merge with Fiat or some other foreign entity; declared he will accept no dawdling on his demand that Detroit must “build the next generation of clean cars,” and announced creation of a new “Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers” – a post to be filled by former Deputy Secretary of Labor Edward Montgomery.

It should take the breath away. An elected politician who never even finished a term in the Senate, who has never so much as run a local car dealership or worked the counter in a brake and muffler shop, has just removed the head of a major American corporation – the kind that’s supposedly owned and controlled by private stockholders.

Have Mr. Obama and “Ed” Montgomery invested $10,000, $50,000, $100,000 of their own cash in auto stocks – money they stand to lose if their scheme for “cleaner cars” goes down as the next Edsel?

No. Not a penny. They want to play with the toy trains, but if they break them, they’ll just “move on.”

Then, in a move that sounds like something out of Ayn Rand’s great parody of the new Deal, “Atlas Shrugged,” the President declares he will decide which firms will merge and which will survive, and winds up the day by appointing a desperately pro-union bureaucrat and functionary to “fix things” in autoland – clearly implying what’s needed is not freedom from regulatory and government-facilitated union-contract shackles so automakers can go find out what consumers want to buy, but instead some kind of institutionalized hand-holding and lifetime welfare (“using the unprecedented levels of funding available in our Recovery Act,” the president said) for their poor, abused workers – many of whom retire in their 50s and enjoy handsome pensions and benefits for the rest of their lives, with the bill added to the price of every Detroit-made car.

It appears the president and his men have entirely lost track of – if they ever really grasped – the fact that in America, major industries are not run by the government, and for good reason.

This “new” system – in which private capitalists technically maintain title to their enterprises, but really operate under close, monopoly government supervision – was tried in Italy starting in the 1920s (where Mussolini’s system was called “Fascism”), and in Germany starting in the 1930s (where they called the plan “National Socialism.”)

This is not “name-calling.” These terms describe a certain type of state-run economic system, to which the Obama administration – in office a mere 60 days – is now embarked with a vengeance on converting this nation.

It’s a version of central planning, and it can’t work. No one bureaucrat can know what everything should cost, which technological innovations will succeed, and what consumers will buy.

In fact, the president’s weekend speech on this subject is even more breathtaking than that, if examined closely.

Those “unprecedented levels of funding available in our Recovery Act and throughout our government”? They’ll be used to “create new manufacturing jobs and new businesses where they’re needed most – in your communities,” the president said.

Note that he did not set a goal of “bringing back” lost or threatened auto manufacturing jobs. No, apparently he’s quite content to have the lion’s share of Americans’ autos manufactured from here on by the Japanese, the Chinese, the Koreans – even the Italians.

Instead, the former “community organizer” sees the problem as one of “communities,” vowing that his gang of ex-Labor Department union activists – who have never created a free-market job in their lives – will “create new manufacturing jobs.”

Manufacturing what? Windmills?

In Michael Moore’s amusing 1989 documentary about the beginning of the end in Detroit, Roger & Me, he interviews well-meaning people who propose the new industries to replace auto manufacturing in Michigan should include raising rabbits for food, and manufacturing lint brushes.

Have those people now found jobs in the Obama administration?

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