The Militant Libertarian

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

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Health care "reform," Big Business, and the Harry and Louise myth

by Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner

Democrats pushing for a health-care overhaul today say they've learned their lessons from the failure of HillaryCare in 1993: This time they are ready to fight back against the HMOs, and to take on "Harry & Louise," the fictional couple that insurance companies used in TV ads opposing HillaryCare.
Alternatively, other Democrats say they've learned their lesson, and this time they're sitting down with the HMOs so that the Big Businesses doesn't torpedo the reform as they did with Harry & Louise.
But this narrative of reformers-vs-Big Business was as false in 1993 as it is today. In both battles, Big Business has sided with Big Government, the pugnacious rhetoric of the pro-regulation side notwithstanding.
The HMOs in 1993 broke away from the smaller insurers, because the big guys knew HillaryCare would be profitable. Big Government would funnel customers into these HMOs more efficiently than the market would.
And today, the insurance industry and the drug industry, which have been at the table crafting the "reform," stand to profit handsomely--at the expense of taxpayers and consumers--if the right plan becomes law.
Vice President Joe Biden unfurled the old wives tale during the presidential primaries to play up his toughness. "It really is going to take someone who is going to be able to take on the insurance industry. They spent $250 billion last time, with Harry and Louise, to poke holes in the Clinton plan. They're going to spend half a trillion dollars this time."
Many journalists, in contrast, like to note that the insurance industry has "matured," and this time they aren't battling reform as they did in 1993.
Both accounts are misleading. There never was uniform insurance industry opposition to HillaryCare. Insurers were split back then, and--as is often the case--the biggest businesses supported more government while their smaller competitors resisted regulation.
The dividing line ran between HMOs and smaller traditional insurers who provided "indemnity plans." Most small-to-medium insurance companies didn't have the networks and the talk of primary care physicians you hear today.
Sick people went to the doctor, and insurers shared the tab. But bigger insurers saw better profits by becoming Health Maintenance Organizations, with all the labyrinthine rules and networks we know today.
A May 1993 article from the New York Times describes the political dynamic during the HillaryCare debate. The HMOs--Prudential, Met Life, Cigna, Aetna, and Travelers--supported Hillary's plan for government-created "health alliances," which were, effectively government-run cartels through which all insurance would be purchased. Smaller insurers, meanwhile, got the bad rap for opposing a "reform" they knew would help their big competitors.
The Times paraphrased an independent investment analyst saying, "the insurers that already had a large foothold in the HMO business would benefit greatly from the administration's plans to pay for insurance for the 37 million Americans who are now uninsured. In essence, the Government would pay tens of billions of dollars to create a huge new pool of customers for health insurers."
Hillary's plan divided the industry. The Times reported in 1993, "The five giants recently broke off from the Health Insurance Association of America [HIAA], their longtime trade group in Washington, to form their own organization, the Coalition for Managed Competition, which is closer to the administration thinking on most issues." The HMO group's very name reeks of government cartelization via "managed competition."
It was the HIAA--the smaller, traditional, non-HMO insurers--that ran those Harry & Louise ads against HillaryCare. The HMOs? They hired former AFL-CIO lobbyist Karen Ignagni and worked with the Clintons for federally "managed competition."
The industry's schism has since healed, in part because so many small traditional insurers went out of business even without a nudge from Hillary. The reunited lobby, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), under Ignagni's leadership, is supporting the key aspects of Senate Democrats' plans.
For obvious reasons, AHIP likes the proposals to require all individuals to carry insurance and all employers to offer it. With those gifts in hand, it's no sweat for them to support regulations forbidding price discrimination or the rejection of ill applicants--regulations, by the way, that would hurt smaller companies more than bigger ones.
AHIP is opposing Democrats on creating a robust "public option"--forcing insurers to compete against government--but otherwise the group is on board with "reformers," just as the HMOs were on board 16 years ago.
It's nice work these reformers have - getting credit for battling corporate while the biggest businesses provide air support.

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Lost Americans to killer illegal aliens


Feel free to turn off the audio so you don’t have to listen to this annoying lady through the whole thing. Otherwise, this is a great presentation on a subject we don’t often hear about–especially in the main stream.

This lady represents all that is wrong with liberal California and Arizona thinking. This woman, doubtless a school teacher or in some other government-dole job, has no idea what these illegal aliens do to the fabric of American society and our economy. She has no idea that she’s a party to murder and injustice.

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The Obamacare horror story you won't hear

by Michelle Malkin,

The White House, Democrats and MoveOn liberals are spreading healthcare sob stories to sell a government takeover. But there's one healthcare policy nightmare you won't hear the Obamas hyping. It's a tale of poor minority patient-dumping in Chicago -- with first lady Michelle Obama's fingerprints all over it.

Both Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois have raised red flags about the outsourcing program run by the University of Chicago Medical Center. The hospital has nonprofit status and receives lucrative tax breaks in exchange for providing charity care.

Yet, in fiscal year 2007, when Mrs. Obama was employed there, it spent a measly $10 million on charity care for the poor -- 1.3 percent of its total hospital expenses, according to an analysis performed for The Washington Post by the nonpartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. The figure is below the 2.1 percent average for nonprofit hospitals in surrounding Cook County.

Rep. Rush called for a House investigation last week in response to months of patient-dumping complaints, noting: "Congress has a duty to expend its power to mitigate and prevent this despicable practice from continuing in centers that receive federal funds."

Don't expect the president to support a probe. While a top executive at the hospital, Mrs. Obama helped engineer the plan to offload low-income patients with non-urgent health needs. Under the Orwellian banner of an "Urban Health Initiative," Mrs. Obama sold the scheme to outsource low-income care to other facilities as a way to "dramatically improve healthcare for thousands of South Side residents."

In truth, it was old-fashioned cost-cutting and favor-trading repackaged as minority aid. Clearing out the poor freed up room for insured (i.e., more lucrative) patients. If a Republican had proposed the very same program and recruited black civic leaders to front it, Michelle Obama and her grievance-mongering friends would be screaming "RAAAAAAAAACISM!" at the top of their lungs.

Joe Stephens of The Washington Post wrote, "To ensure community support, Michelle Obama and others in late 2006 recommended that the hospital hire the firm of David Axelrod, who a few months later became the chief strategist for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Axelrod's firm (ASK Public Strategies) recommended an aggressive promotional effort modeled on a political campaign -- appoint a campaign manager, conduct focus groups, target messages to specific constituencies, then recruit religious leaders and other third-party 'validators.' They, in turn, would write and submit opinion pieces to Chicago publications."

Some healthcare experts saw through Mrs. Obama and PR man Axelrod -- yes, the same Axelrod who is now President Obama's senior adviser. But the University of Chicago Medical Center hired ASK Public Strategies to promote Mrs. Obama's initiative. Axelrod had the blessing of Chicago political guru Valerie Jarrett -- now a White House senior adviser.

Axelrod's great contribution: re-branding! His firm recommended renaming the initiative after "internal and external respondents expressed the opinion that the word 'urban' is code for 'black' or 'black and poor.' ...Based on the research, consideration should be given to re-branding the initiative." Axelrod and the Obama campaign refused to disclose how much his firm received for its genius re-branding services.

In February 2009, outrage in the Obamas' community exploded upon learning that a young boy covered by Medicaid had been turned away from the University of Chicago Medical Center. Dontae Adams' mother, Angela, had sought emergency treatment for him after a pit bull tore off his upper lip. Mrs. Obama's hospital gave the boy a tetanus shot, antibiotics and Tylenol, and shoved him out the door. The mother and son took an hour-long bus ride to another hospital for surgery.

I'll guarantee you this: You'll never see the Adams family featured at an Obama policy summit or seated next to the first lady at a joint session of Congress to illustrate the failures of the healthcare system.

Following the Adams incident, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) blasted Mrs. Obama and Axelrod's grand plan. The group released a statement expressing "grave concerns that the University of Chicago's policy toward emergency patients is dangerously close to 'patient dumping,' a practice made illegal by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)" -- signed by President Reagan, by the way -- "and reflected an effort to 'cherry pick' wealthy patients over poor."

Rewarding political cronies at the expense of the poor while posing as guardians of the downtrodden? Welcome to Obamacare.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

IRS Moves to Ban Tax Returns Filed By All But ‘Experts’

by James P. Tucker, Jr

In an astonishing power grab, the Internal Revenue Service wants to license all who prepare returns for taxpayers. This means that Uncle Oscar couldn’t help his nephew prepare his income tax return unless a Washington bureaucrat grants a license.

H&R Block and the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) are supporting the effort by IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman for selfish reasons: If Uncle Oscar can’t help, his nephew must pay a “licensed” preparer.

Shulman said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee that he expects to make his recommendations to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Obama by the end of the year.

Shulman argued that licensing is needed because of bad guy tax preparers. Of the millions of tax returns filed over the last three years, only about 350 preparers were convicted of fraud, according to the IRS’s own records.

Ryan Ellis, tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform, challenged IRS claims that licensing would generate significant funds from “tax cheats.” He told the Washington Times, “If the IRS thinks that licensing tax preparers will raise a lot of money, it won’t.”

Shulman’s recommendations “could focus on a new model for the regulation of tax return preparers; education and training of return preparers; and enforcement related to return preparer misconduct,” the IRS said.

“Education” and “training”? Many times over the years, newspapers have sent male and female reporters, posing as married couples, to IRS offices for “help” with their returns. They would offer simple situations: two kids and a mortgage. In an overwhelming majority of cases, four different IRS “professionals” would prepare their returns in four different ways.

Shulman said 87 percent of taxpayers now use computer software or paid preparers. “Tax preparers and the associated industry can help us increase compliance and strengthen the integrity of the tax system,” Shulman said. On the subject of “integrity,” he failed to mention David Rockefeller and other billionaires who pay no income tax at all by ducking their obligations with the help of high-priced “preparers.”

The first step in the licensing process, the IRS said, will involve fact-finding
and receiving input from unlicensed tax preparers and software vendors, as well as those who are licensed by state and federal authorities, including enrolled agents, lawyers and accountants.

“H&R Block strongly supports the IRS initiative announced by Commissioner Doug Shulman to review comprehensively alternatives for improving the accuracy of tax filings and the ethics and integrity of all who hold themselves out directly or indirectly in providing tax preparation services,” said Chairman Richard Breeden.

“We are all in favor of raising the bar,” said NATP’s Paul Cinquemani. “If people are operating out there without continuing education, they are on dangerous ground.”

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Life Is Destroying the Planet!

by Butler Shaffer

Recent news stories advise us of yet another contributor to the menace of global warming, this one arising from the flatulence produced by cows. The metabolic processes engaged in by our bovine neighbors produce methane, one of the greenhouse gasses against which the environmentalist faithful are ever vigilant. Methane is also produced through the breakdown of organic matter (e.g., manure, dumpsites) and, other life forms. In his book Gaia the renowned chemist, James Lovelock, analyzed how methane, produced in the guts of termites, is an essential factor in the self-regulating nature of the earth’s atmosphere.

The notion that "self-regulation" could account for the orderliness found in social, economic, or biological systems is a heresy to people-pushers of all doctrinal faiths, including the secular theology of high-church environmentalism. A people-pusher can be thought of as a person with a leash, in search of a dog. Like chameleons, they can undergo superficial changes to accommodate the circumstances in which they find themselves: the persecution of witches or infidels, the fostering of state socialism, or, modernly, the salvation of the planet. It matters not to the zealots of any particular denomination whether their belief system is grounded in substantive truth; only that it provide a plausible rationale for the imposition of authority over the lives of others. The disciples of environmentalism have shifted from being prophets of a coming "ice age," to "global warming," to the compromise position of "climate change" as the empirical basis for their claims continue to be called into question by scientists.

If flatulence from cows is to be regarded as a threat to be regulated – or even prohibited – by institutionalized people-pushers, what next? Shall Mexican restaurants or Texas barbecues become future targets? In their efforts to subject every facet of the diets and lifestyles of others to their detailed scrutiny, shall these sociopaths finally reveal their ambition to rule as a collective god over all of creation?

Ever since childhood, I have had a strong interest in geology. I long ago learned of the turbulent origins of the earth; of how plate tectonics and continental drift have shaped and reshaped the planet; of the effects occasioned by the invasion of comets, asteroids, solar flares, and meteors; of periodic polar reversals and ice ages; and, more interestingly, how the earth has been resilient enough to respond to such tumult. Many who share this understanding of what our planet has been through over billions of years can appreciate the late George Carlin’s treatment of those innocent souls who want to "save the planet" from such relative inconveniences as plastic bags and aluminum cans!

The volcanic activity that has introduced great quantities of gasses into the earth’s atmosphere must be attributed to the planet itself, and not to the presence of organic life. This conclusion is even more compelling when one considers the cause of most of the disruptive conditions that occurred during the Precambrian period (i.e., before life emerged on Earth). Thus, living systems cannot be held to blame for all "wrongs" to the planet in the environmentalists’ growing bill of particulars.

Of course, we must bear in mind that it is humanity against which the environmentalists rail in their secular version of original sin. How often do we hear it said that mankind must limit its involvement with the rest of creation lest we "upset the balance of nature?" That our species is to be severed from the rest of nature reflects the conflict-ridden character of this ideology. Likewise, continuing criticism of our "carbon footprint" reflects the attitude that we are collective trespassers upon the planet, with the environmentalists in the role of police inspectors in an ongoing crime scene search for evidence of our criminal intrusions against the property interests of some ill-defined owners.

But as mankind cannot carry out its wrongdoing against the planet without the complicity of other species, it is evident that – like the search for "terrorists" – a much larger net must be cast more broadly. When cows passing gas becomes yet another threat to arouse the global-warmingists, you begin to sense that this new orthodoxy has, at its core, a hostility to life itself. The life process – whether exhibited by humans, other animals, or plants – involves the transformation of all kinds of resources to serve the entropy-reducing needs of living beings. Life feeds on other life and, because none of us are one hundred percent efficient in this process, we invariably end up producing entropic byproducts – energy unavailable to productive use – that may be quite beneficial to other life forms. In such ways do plants emit oxygen which, in turn, is inhaled by animals who complete the exchange with the plant world by exhaling the carbon dioxide upon which they depend.

One would think, from such an example, that the symbiotic relationships that exist among so many species on the planet, might inspire even the environmentalist faithful to reconsider their hostility to life processes. A reading of Michael Pollan’s wonderful book, The Botany of Desire, might awaken them to how humans have entered into relationships with such plant life as tulips, apples, marijuana, and potatoes, to the mutual benefit of one another. Pollan’s description and analyses of how these species have served their self-interests through one another, is in sharp contrast to a Marxist’s interpretation of human "exploitation" of plant life. Has mankind "exploited" tulips and apples, or have these plants engaged in "exploitation" by making their qualities attractive so that humans would want to cultivate them?

Such questions will never be asked by environmentalists, of course, because to do so would be fatal to the people-pushers, who depend upon the nurturing of the mindset that our relationships with one another are irreconcilable. A world in which order is maintained by symbiosis, self-regulation, and cooperation would have no need for the structuring that is the universal solvent offered by the political classes for every condition to be exploited for their power interests.

And so, we are to forget that the carbon dioxide we humans – and other animals – expel in our continuing effort to survive becomes the nourishment for the plants that produce all of the oxygen and much of the food upon which we rely. We may soon hear from the apocalyptic wing of the environmentalist church that the relationship between "plant" and "animal" species is what poses a threat to the planet. It is not just we humans who are to blame, but the plants and animals of the earth who conspire with us to continue this destructive oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle. It is the life process itself, the environmentalists will soon be informing us, that threatens the stability of the planet.

Taken to their logical and empirical lengths, the environmental dogmas lead to endless wars against the efforts of the life force to manifest and sustain itself on Earth. But life is a disruptive force, forever transforming the environment into other forms. And all of this change, we are told, is a threat to the planet, which must now make adjustments – as George Carlin reminded us – to incorporate plastic bags into its being.

The assumption that underlies much of environmentalism is that maintaining equilibrium conditions is beneficial to a system. This is the same attitude that leads most established business interests to want to stabilize the conditions under which competition is to take place. My earlier book, In Restraint of Trade, documents this effort during the years 1918–1938. But with any living system – be it an individual, an enterprise, or a civilization – stabilization is the equivalent of death. In the words of the noted botanist, Edmund Sinnott, "[c]onstancy and conservatism are qualities of the lifeless, not the living." The only time your body will be in an equilibrium state is when you are dead; your biological system will have ceased to make life-sustaining responses to the changes in your environment. Not even the marketplace manifests equilibrium conditions. The laws of supply and demand tend toward equilibrium pricing – an increase in demand or a shortage in supply will raise prices which, in turn, encourages the greater production that will lower prices – but without ever achieving stability as a fixed state.

In contrast to those who insist on sterilizing the planet – vaccinating it from the virus of mankind – may I suggest an alternative metaphor, drawn from the biologist Lewis Thomas. In his wonderful book, The Lives of a Cell, Thomas proposes a more holographic metaphor that sees the Earth not in the mechanistic, fragmented image to which our politicized thinking has accustomed us, but as an integrated system. Like a cell that functions through horizontal interconnectedness rather than vertically-structured direction, the planet may be seen as a self-regulating, mutually-supportive life system energized by the spontaneity and autonomy of its varied participants. So considered, those who insist upon severing this interconnectedness and fragmenting life into categories of controllers and the controlled, pose the greatest threat to the viability of the planet.

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‘Continental Congress’ Will Meet Again

by Mark Anderson

Concerned citizens are planning a “Continental Congress” for Nov. 924, 2009 that calls for getting to the bottom of why government is so unresponsive to the general public. The venue will soon be named.

According to election-honesty advocate Vickie Karp, nominations are now being sought for delegates to the convention, which is being spearheaded by the We the People Foundation. The selection of delegates to the convention is slated for Sept. 12. Moreover, a “Taxpayer March on Washington” by a coalition of groups is also slated for Sept. 12, according to a posting.

The Continental Congress planning session took place in late May. It involved 25 activists who took a train ride along the same general route as the infamous 1910 train ride to Brunswick, Ga., that financial and political heavyweights took when they hid out at the Jekyll Island resort to lay the groundwork for the ruinous Federal Reserve System. The modern day passengers included Ms. Karp, Republic Broadcasting Network Director John Stadtmiller and noted “Fed” author G. Edward Griffin.

“Later this year delegates representing the people of the 50 states will convene as a national assembly to publicly debate our government’s abuses of the Constitution and to consider practical strategies which can bring about compliance with our freedom documents, not only in our government at all levels, but in our individual lives. The Continental Congress 2009 will be an undertaking of historical importance as we follow the example of our Founding Fathers, to . . . discuss the state of our nation to restore the light of liberty,” states a posting at, where a video describes the project.

(For more information also go to, call (518) 6563578,
or write to: We The People Foundation For Constitutional Education,
Inc. 2458 Ridge Road Queensbury, NY 12804. Email:

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Salbuchi - Zionism: A Key Factor in the New World Order Elite Power Network

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Kleptocracy in America

by Bill Bonner

Reading the obituaries is such a delight. First, it is a relief when you find your name not mentioned. Then, it is a joy when you find those that are. Not that we wish to see any man’s name on the roll of the dead; still, the final audits are always the most revealing. Here on the back page, we admire honest scalawags…and learn from them. Thus was our attention drawn to Mr. Omar Bongo’s exit from the mortal stage on June 8th.

Popular government has two major parts. One part is fraud. The other is larceny. As to the first, it is like a professional wrestling match – full of lurid threats, spilled beer, sacred cows, gaudy uniforms and self-delusions; the fans feel their private parts shrink when their man loses. If he wins, they feel they are winners too. But it is the other part, the more rational part – a balance of larceny and bribery – that interests us today.

Serge Dassault miscalculated. One of the richest men in France, he was stripped of his position as mayor of a Paris suburb this week. A court found he had made cash payments to voters in Corbeil-Essones, east of Paris, which could have influenced the outcome of a mayoral election.

We stand dumbfounded…mouths wide open…our fondest hopes for the progress of humanity dashed to pieces. How could an experienced, well-informed man of mature age and sound finances, have made such an amateur’s error? He bribed the voters unfairly – that is, with his own money – but apparently not enough of them!

Mr. Serge Dassault, meet the late Mr. Bongo. France included in its “mission civilisatrice” the cultivation of various public officials throughout Africa. Bongo was one of them.

The moment when destiny stuck her nose into Mr. Bongo’s affairs was probably in 1964, when Mr. Bongo had gotten himself into the post of Minister of Tourism in the government of President Mba. That year was the one chosen by Jean-Hilaire Aubame to launch a coup against Mba’s regime, which saw both Mba and Bongo confined together until French troops came and bailed them out. Being locked up with the president of a country can be good for your career; at least it was for Bongo. His ties to Mba were strengthened by the ordeal, says the TIMES, and he was subsequently made Vice-President, succeeding to the top post itself when Mba’s last cartridge had been spent.

The TIMES described Bongo as “one of the world’s richest heads of state.” The Financial Times provided details: “An indictment…listed 39 properties, mostly in the chic 16th arrondissement of Paris, nine cars worth nearly $2 million, and 70 bank accounts.”

And so the familiar question: “how is this possible?”

Mr. Bongo’s percentage of Gabon’s output must have been substantial. He took over the government of Gabon in 1967 at the age of 31, making him the world’s youngest head of state. “For the next two decades,” continues the obituary, “Bongo was able to rule Gabon almost as a personal fiefdom. With a relatively small population and benefiting from abundant natural resources – principally oil, but also uranium, manganese and timber….”

The man mastered both carrot and stick. With revenue from Gabon’s natural resources flowing into his coffers, he was able to hand out lavish favors. “He placated students in 2000 by providing hundreds of thousand of pounds for the purchase of the computers and books they were demanding,” says the TIMES. He could spend his own money when it suited him too – for he had so much of it. And when the working classes took the streets in 1990, he had plenty of goons in uniform to beat them with sticks.

Bongo did not suffer from the typical financing problem of modern democracy. When you rob Peter to pay Paul, Peter gets cheesed off about it. The next thing you know he’s voting against you or plotting a coup. That is why it is better to bribe Paul with money Peter never earned. And do it on a large scale. That is how Bongo won an election as recently as 2005 with nearly 80% of the vote. Not even Obama can match that.

But politicians in modern, developed democracies are now bribing voters on a breathtaking scale – protecting their bank accounts, shoring up their houses, giving them jobs and health care. In the US alone total US government debts, obligations and commitments now come to $112 trillion. Congressmen risk neither jail nor insurrection. Cometh the old question; how do they get away with it?

Currently, 50% of every dollar spent comes from borrowing. This week brought news that the developing countries – led by China – are still adding to their positions in US Treasury bonds. The funds are spent immediately. The payer and the payee – neither of whom vote in current US elections – can worry about settling the debt later. What a marvelous invention is inter-generational government debt, funded by foreigners! Even Mr. Bongo, RIP, must have been impressed.

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Israel Lobby Sees Obama as Enemy of Zionist Agenda

by Michael Collins Piper

President Barack Obama’s foreign policy inclinations are a threat to Israel’s survival. That’s the no-holds-barred assessment by one of Israel’s leading American publicists, Norman Podhoretz, the prominent neo-conservative long associated with the American Jewish Committee’s influential magazine, Commentary. Podhoretz made the inflammatory charge against the U.S. president in an article in the May 2009 issue of Commentary in an article entitled “How Obama’s America Might Threaten Israel,” one of a series of polemics addressing the subject: “Israel at Risk.”

This is no surprise to AFP readers. On Dec. 1, 2008, AFP surprised many by suggesting that Barack Obama might “pull a JFK” and begin putting pressure on Israel. Six months later, AFP’s prediction appears on the mark. The difference between JFK and Obama, though, is that JFK’s pressure was applied privately, through diplomatic channels. Obama’s pressure has been both public and forthright.

The most recent frenzy from Israel and its American supporters in response to initiatives from the Obama administration came when the president forcefully demanded that Israel cease building settlements in the occupied West Bank. The president further inflamed the Zionist state and its American lobby by reiterating that demand in his widely heralded address to the Muslim world, delivered in Cairo.

In fact, the confrontation between the United States and Israel has been simmering for some time, beginning with the Obama administration’s open call for Israel to submit to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

On May 7 the Philadelphia Bulletin carried a report headlined “Obama Follows JFK Example and Pressures Israel to Limit Nuclear Capability.” The Bulletin stated: “For the first time since the Kennedy administration, a senior American official has commented explicitly and negatively about Israel’s nuclear capability.”

Shock waves rolled through Israel and the Jewish lobby in Washington after President Obama’s assistant secretary of state, Rose Gottemoeller—speaking on May 5 at a meeting on the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—said Israel should become a signatory to the treaty. By doing so, Israel would be required to open up its secret nuclear arsenal to international inspection, something Israel has consistently refused to do.

The Bulletin noted that “The Obama administration’s newfound opposition to Israel’s formally undisclosed nuclear program reverses nearly 50 years of American silence on the subject,” adding that after JFK struggled with then Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion over the issue of Israel’s nuclear arms, “President Kennedy refused to budge and continued to push Israel to abandon its nuclear option until his death on Nov. 22, 1963. No American president has made an issue of Israel’s nuclear capability—until now.”

In response to the perceived danger posed by Obama, the Jewish lobby rallied its troops. A leading voice for the lobby, The Washington Times, featured a front page headline story on May 6 shrieking “Secret U.S.-Israel nuclear accord in jeopardy,” a clarion call for Republicans, conservatives, fundamentalist Christians, and those who want to curry favor with pro-Israel money barons, to join together to stop President Obama from pressuring Israel to sign the treaty.

Editorially, the Times asked if the United States would “sell out its strongest ally” by forcing Israel to come clean on its nuclear arsenal (which some say is the fifth largest in the world). The Times expressed fear the United States might close ranks with other nations that have repeatedly called for Israel to adhere to the non-proliferation treaty and open its nuclear installations for inspection.

A former Israeli foreign ministry advisor, Alan Baker, said the comments from the Obama administration were “surprising and worrying.”

For its part, The Jerusalem Post asserted Israel sees no reason to sign the nuclear treaty because—according to Israel—the treaty is “ineffective.”

Israel and its supporters believe Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that should be permitted to have nuclear weapons and that Israel (and the United States) must stop other nations, especially Iran, from developing a nuclear counter to Israel, the only nation in the Middle East that does have atomic weapons.

In fact, the statement by the Obama administration differs in no way from a 2006 position paper by the distinguished Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, the training ground for the “best and the brightest” among up-and-coming officers. The War College asserted that neither talk of a military attack on Iran nor ongoing American diplomatic initiatives are likely to stop Iran and that either course could result in disaster.

The report said Israel should take the initiative, close its nuclear reactor, turn over nuclear materiel to a third party, and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to maintain regular inspection of Israel’s nuclear operations.

The report urged the United States to put pressure on Israel to make this possible.

America’s military thinkers believe if Israel were to curtail its nuclear arms, the United States would be more able to convince other Middle East states with nuclear ambitions to do likewise. In truth, Israel’s determined push for nuclear supremacy—a foundation of Israel’s national defense policy—led Arab nations as well as Pakistan and Iran to also pursue a nuclear option.

Although many Obama critics find it hard to believe his administration would pressure Israel, noting that Israel’s stalwart, Rahm Emanuel, is White House chief of staff, AFP noted on Dec. 1, 2008 that even though President Kennedy had placed Myer Feldman—a pro-Israel hardliner—in a key post in his White House, JFK and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and other administration insiders, worked assiduously to keep Feldman out of the loop on the conduct of U.S. Middle East policy. The president and his brother were even known to remark critically of Feldman behind his back.

JFK even sent word to friends of the Arab world at the State Department that even though JFK had won 90 percent of the Jewish vote that it should not be assumed that he was “in their pocket.”

As part of their effort to destabilize Obama, Israel’s advocates in the so-called “neo-conservative” network have deployed one of their longtime front men, ex-ambassador Alan Keyes, into the field.

The former Harvard roommate of Bilderberg figure William Kristol—the powerful neo-conservative publicist who remains a close Keyes friend—Keyes has been promoting an array of questionable allegations about Obama, some of which—a point little known—actually originated in Israel among supporters of Obama’s 2008 opponent, John McCain. (Although Obama won 75 percent of the Jewish vote, McCain was favored over Obama in polls in Israel, the only foreign nation where McCain was the preferred choice. And note, too, as related by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his book The Samson Option, that following John F. Kennedy’s 1960 election victory, one of the first things JFK did upon assuming office was to assure State Department officials who were sympathetic to the Arab world that they should not assume that the new president was “in their [the Jews’] pocket.”)

In any case, the questionable stories about Obama being promoted by Keyes have been picked up by independent “patriot” media in the United States and loudly publicized by three widely circulated supermarket tabloids, The National Enquirer, The National Examiner and The Globe, which are all owned by one company, American Media Inc., a subsidiary of Evercore Partners, a shadowy consortium of pro-Israel financial interests under the direction of Wall Street operator Roger Altman.

Although Israeli propagandists have—for years—had a stranglehold on conventional “conservative” think tanks and media, Israel’s disinformation specialists are filtering Keyes’ stories into the “patriot” movement to checkmate the Obama administration’s effort to put the reins on Israel.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Civil Liberties and the Winds of 'Change'

The latest threat to our freedom is coming from the "progressives"
by Justin Raimondo

Remember back in the bad old days, when the Bush administration and its amen corner in the flag-lapel button-wearing media were riding high, and Andrew Sullivan was denouncing anyone who opposed Bush's crazed foreign policy as being part of a pro-terrorist "fifth column"? The atmosphere of those times is something everyone – or practically everyone – would like to forget. Because that's when all the brave "liberals" and their "progressive" and even "radical" brethren were cowering over the covers, and under the bed, silent as the few who dared to speak out – Susan Sontag, Michael Moore, Phil Donahue, and, of course, the writers for this web site – were pilloried as being accessories to the murder of those who died on 9/11.

Back then, it was the left that was being demonized, and the methodology of the War Party was pretty gruesome to behold: like a wolf pack on the rampage, they would glom on to some lone wacko, or marginal group of wackos, who would be held up as exemplars of a broader tendency within the anti-Bush anti-war opposition. I remember an account of an antiwar rally by Andrew Sullivan that homed in on the fact that someone was hawking the edges of the crowd with copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Aha! screeched the Inquisitor-in-chief, an office Sullivan appointed himself to before the smoke had cleared from the ruins of the World Trade Building – the antiwar movement is anti-Semitic!

As unreasonable and downright weird as this seems, in retrospect there was a method to this madness: the rhetoric of Sullivan and his fellow "war-bloggers" was rich with implications of treason. After all, what nation allows an "fifth column" to operate openly during wartime? Civil liberties are the first items to be thrown overboard when the ship of state starts listing, a fact easily borne out by the history of this country, from the Alien and Sedition Acts to the PATRIOT Act. The pro-war right-wing was clearly trying to create an atmosphere where no one would dare to speak out, for fear of the consequences – and, if anyone did speak out, they were intent on laying the political as well as the legal groundwork for shutting them up forthwith.

Times change, and so does the political landscape, but one universal principle always obtains: the guys in charge want to silence the opposition, or, at least, so cow them that they daren't speak above a whisper. In that respect, in spite of the promise of "change" held out by the election of Barack Obama, the old pattern is rather quickly reasserting itself, this time with the ostensible "left" playing the inquisitor role and the right relegated to pariah status.

Ever since President Obama took the oath of office, his supporters have been characterizing attacks by Republicans – particularly the "shock jocks" of right-wing radio – as "hate speech." This was line of attack was going on for months, coming out of the collective maw of MSNBC's Olbermann-Maddow-Matthews axis of "progressivism," and it was a calculated use of language. For "hate speech," so-called, is a legal term, at least in European jurisprudence, that defines language and views that are outlawed. In Britain, to question immigration policy – which is generous in the extreme – in language deemed "racist" by some blinkered bureaucrat is to earn a jail sentence.

For years, the "anti-racist" opponents of the racist, neo-fascist British National Party (BNP) harassed party members with regulations of this kind, shutting down their publications and arresting their members for violating laws against "hate speech." Instead of trying to answer the arguments put forth by the BNP, and stop them in the way one would in a free society, they simply sought to shut them up – and they wonder why the tide of popular resentment managed to overwhelm such "safeguards" and elect two BNP'ers to the European parliament. You made your bed, Brits, and now you're forced to sleep in it!

Now, in recent weeks, the investment of the "progressives" in this "hate speech" concept is bearing a particularly ugly and vile-smelling fruit. The horrific murder of Dr. George Tiller, a provider of late-term abortions, by an anti-abortion nutso, and, more recently, the rampage of an 88-year-old white supremacist at the Holocaust Museum, in which one guard was killed and another person injured – has given the anti-"hate speech" progressives the opportunity they've been waiting for. Now that they're in the driver's seat, they are demonizing their political opponents with self-righteous fury, trying to link mainstream conservatives with the nuts that cheered the murder of Dr. Tiller and that museum guard – and not so subtly hinting that "hate speech" (as defined by themselves) needs to be "curbed." They're yelling that a ridiculous-yet-sinister "report" [.pdf] issued by the Department of Homeland Security on "right-wing extremism" was "prescient," and that the "threat" from the "extremist" right must be met with more than mere argumentation. Here is Joan Walsh, the typical Bay Area liberal, in Salon, bloviating about the alleged question of "Can Right-Wing Hate Talk Lead to Murder?" Tooting her own horn about how she was on Chris Matthews the other day, she writes that she tried to choose her words carefully, however:

"It's hard not to think about the extreme right-wing rhetoric, especially about Barack Obama, and whether it could conceivably lead to more right-wing violence…"

Well, yes, it's hard – especially if you have a not-so-hidden agenda, but never mind:

"The range of crazy ideas about Obama is broad and wide: He's a secret Muslim, he's going to take our guns, he's even the anti-Christ! James von Brunn just happened to be a ‘birther,' one of the nuts who believe that Obama wasn't born here, his birth certificate is fake, and he thus isn't eligible to be president."

Notice how a legitimate fear – that the Second Amendment is not sacrosanct in the eyes of our present rulers – is thrown in there, alongside the "secret Muslim" meme, the anti-Christ meme, and "birther-ism" (a new bogeyman for leftists equivalent to 9/11 "truther-ism" in the neocon Index Librorum Prohibitorum).

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Divided We Stand

Wall Street Journal
What would California look like broken in three? Or a Republic of New England? With the federal government reaching for ever more power, redrawing the map is enticing, says Paul Starobin

Remember that classic Beatles riff of the 1960s: “You say you want a revolution?” Imagine this instead: a devolution. Picture an America that is run not, as now, by a top-heavy Washington autocracy but, in freewheeling style, by an assemblage of largely autonomous regional republics reflecting the eclectic economic and cultural character of the society.

There might be an austere Republic of New England, with a natural strength in higher education and technology; a Caribbean-flavored city-state Republic of Greater Miami, with an anchor in the Latin American economy; and maybe even a Republic of Las Vegas with unfettered license to pursue its ambitions as a global gambling, entertainment and conventioneer destination. California? America’s broke, ill-governed and way-too-big nation-like state might be saved, truly saved, not by an emergency federal bailout, but by a merciful carve-up into a trio of republics that would rely on their own ingenuity in making their connections to the wider world. And while we’re at it, let’s make this project bi-national—economic logic suggests a natural multilingual combination between Greater San Diego and Mexico’s Northern Baja, and, to the Pacific north, between Seattle and Vancouver in a megaregion already dubbed “Cascadia” by economic cartographers.

Devolved America is a vision faithful both to certain postindustrial realities as well as to the pluralistic heart of the American political tradition—a tradition that has been betrayed by the creeping centralization of power in Washington over the decades but may yet reassert itself as an animating spirit for the future. Consider this proposition: America of the 21st century, propelled by currents of modernity that tend to favor the little over the big, may trace a long circle back to the original small-government ideas of the American experiment. The present-day American Goliath may turn out to be a freak of a waning age of politics and economics as conducted on a super-sized scale—too large to make any rational sense in an emerging age of personal empowerment that harks back to the era of the yeoman farmer of America’s early days. The society may find blessed new life, as paradoxical as this may sound, in a return to a smaller form.

This perspective may seem especially fanciful at a time when the political tides all seem to be running in the opposite direction. In the midst of economic troubles, an aggrandizing Washington is gathering even more power in its hands. The Obama Administration, while considering replacing top executives at Citigroup, is newly appointing a “compensation czar” with powers to determine the retirement packages of executives at firms accepting federal financial bailout funds. President Obama has deemed it wise for the U.S. Treasury to take a majority ownership stake in General Motors in a last-ditch effort to revive this Industrial Age brontosaurus. Even the Supreme Court is getting in on the act: A ruling this past week awarded federal judges powers to set the standards by which judges for state courts may recuse themselves from cases.

All of this adds up to a federal power grab that might make even FDR’s New Dealers blush. But that’s just the point: Not surprisingly, a lot of folks in the land of Jefferson are taking a stand against an approach that stands to make an indebted citizenry yet more dependent on an already immense federal power. The backlash, already under way, is a prime stimulus for a neo-secessionist movement, the most extreme manifestation of a broader push for some form of devolution. In April, at an anti-tax “tea party” held in Austin, Governor Rick Perry of Texas had his speech interrupted by cries of “secede.” The Governor did not sound inclined to disagree. “Texas is a unique place,” he later told reporters attending the rally. “When we came into the Union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that.”

Such sentiments resonate beyond the libertarian fringe. The Daily Kos, a liberal Web site, recently asked Perry’s fellow Texas Republicans, “Do you think Texas would be better off as an independent nation or as part of the United States of America? It was an even split: 48% for the U.S., 48% for a sovereign Texas, 4% not sure. Amongst all Texans, more than a third—35%—said an independent Texas would be better. The Texas Nationalist Movement claims that over 250,000 Texans have signed a form affirming the organization’s goal of a Texas nation.

Secessionist feelings also percolate in Alaska, where Todd Palin, husband of Governor Sarah Palin, was once a registered member of the Alaska Independence Party. But it is not as if the Right has a lock on this issue: Vermont, the seat of one of the most vibrant secessionist movements, is among the country’s most politically-liberal places. Vermonters are especially upset about imperial America’s foreign excursions in hazardous places like Iraq. The philosophical tie that binds these otherwise odd bedfellows is belief in the birthright of Americans to run their own affairs, free from centralized control. Their hallowed parchment is Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, on behalf of the original 13 British colonies, penned in 1776, 11 years before the framers of the Constitution gathered for their convention in Philadelphia. “The right of secession precedes the Constitution—the United States was born out of secession,” Daniel Miller, leader of the Texas Nationalist Movement, put it to me. Take that, King Obama.

Today’s devolutionists, of all stripes, can trace their pedigree to the “anti-federalists” who opposed the compact that came out of Philadelphia as a bad bargain that gave too much power to the center at the expense of the limbs. Some of America’s most vigorous and learned minds were in the anti-federalist camp; their ranks included Virginia’s Patrick Henry, of “give me liberty or give me death” renown. The sainted Jefferson, who was serving as a diplomat in Paris during the convention, is these days claimed by secessionists as a kindred anti-federal spirit, even if he did go on to serve two terms as president.

The anti-federalists lost their battle, but history, in certain respects, has redeemed their vision, for they anticipated how many Americans have come to feel about their nation’s seat of federal power. “This city, and the government of it, must indubitably take their tone from the character of the men, who from the nature of its situation and institution, must collect there,” the anti-federalist pamphleteer known only as the Federal Farmer wrote. “If we expect it will have any sincere attachments to simple and frugal republicanism, to that liberty and mild government, which is dear to the laborious part of a free people, we most assuredly deceive ourselves.”

In the mid-19th century, the anti-federalist impulse took a dark turn, attaching itself to the cause of the Confederacy, which was formed by the unilateral secession of 13 southern states over the bloody issue of slavery. Lincoln had no choice but to go to war to preserve the Union—and ever since, anti-federalism, in almost any guise, has had to defend itself from the charge of being anti-modern and indeed retrograde.

But nearly a century and a half has passed since Johnny Rebel whooped for the last time. Slavery is dead, and so too is the large-scale industrial economy that the Yankees embraced as their path to victory over the South and to global prosperity. The model lasted a long time, to be sure, surviving all the way through the New Deal and the first several decades of the post-World War II era, coming a cropper at the tail end of the 1960s, just as the economist John Kenneth Galbraith was holding out “The New Industrial State,” the master-planned economy, as a seemingly permanent condition of modern life.

Not quite. In a globalized economy transformed by technological innovations hatched by happily-unguided entrepreneurs, history seems to be driving one nail after another into the coffin of the big, which is why the Obama planners and their ilk, even if they now ride high, may be doomed to fail. No one anymore expects the best ideas to come from the biggest actors in the economy, so should anyone expect the best thinking to be done by the whales of the political world?

A notable prophet for a coming age of smallness was the diplomat and historian George Kennan, a steward of the American Century with an uncanny ability to see past the seemingly-frozen geopolitical arrangements of the day. Kennan always believed that Soviet power would “run its course,” as he predicted back in 1951, just as the Cold War was getting under way, and again shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed, he suggested that a similar fate might await the United States. America has become a “monster country,” afflicted by a swollen bureaucracy and “the hubris of inordinate size,” he wrote in his 1993 book, “Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy.” Things might work better, he suggested, if the nation was “decentralized into something like a dozen constituent republics, absorbing not only the powers of the existing states but a considerable part of those of the present federal establishment.”

Kennan’s genius was to foresee that matters might take on an organic, a bottom-up, life of their own, especially in a society as dynamic and as creative as America. His spirit, the spirit of an anti-federalist modernist, can be glimpsed in an intriguing “mega-region” initiative encompassing greater San Diego County, next-door Imperial County and, to the immediate south of the U.S. border, Northern Baja, Mexico. Elected officials representing all three participating areas recently unveiled “Cali Baja, a Bi-National Mega-Region,” as the “international marketing brand” for the project.

The idea is to create a global economic powerhouse by combining San Diego’s proven abilities in scientific research and development with Imperial County’s abundance of inexpensive land and availability of water rights and Northern Baja’s manufacturing base, low labor costs and ability to supply the San Diego area with electricity during peak-use terms. Bilingualism, too, is a key—with the aim for all children on both sides of the border to be fluent in both English and Spanish. The project director is Christina Luhn, a Kansas native, historian and former staffer on the National Security Council in Ronald Reagan’s White House in the mid-1980s. Contemporary America as a unit of governance may be too big, even the perpetually-troubled state of California may be too big, she told me, by way of saying that the political and economic future may belong to the megaregions of the planet. Her conviction is that large systems tend not to endure—“they break apart, there’s chaos, and at some point, new things form,” she said.

The notion that small is better and even inevitable no doubt has some flavor of romance—even amounting to a kind of modern secular faith, girded by a raft of multi-disciplinary literature that may or may not be relevant. Luhn takes her philosophical cue not only from Kennan but also from the science writer and physicist M. Mitchell Waldrop, author of “Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos.”

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In a freed market, who will stop markets from running riot and doing crazy things?

And who will stop the rich and powerful from running roughshod over everyone else?
From the Rad Geek People's Daily

Q. In a freed market, who will stop markets from running riot and doing crazy things? And who will stop the rich and powerful from running roughshod over everyone else?

A. We will.

Sheldon Richman put up a nice piece last week for The Goal Is Freedom called Regulation Red Herring: Why There’s No Such Thing as an Unregulated Market. (Incidentally, while you’re reading Sheldon’s piece, be sure to check out the illustrative photograph of the Federal Trade Commission building’s awesome allegorical statue of government restraining trade.)

Sheldon’s point, which is well-taken and important, is that if regulation is being used to mean making a process orderly, or regular, then what radical free-marketeers advocate is not a completely unregulated market. For something to even count as a market, it has to be orderly and regular enough for people to conduct their business and make their living in it and through it. Government interference only seems necessary to regulate a market, in the positive sense of the word regulate, if you think that the only way to get social order is by means of social control, and the only way for to get to harmonious social interactions is by having the government coerce people into working together with each other. But, as Sheldon argues:

Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek pointed out years ago that the real issue regarding economic planning is not: To plan or not to plan? But rather: Who plans (centralized state officials or decentralized private individuals in the market)?

Likewise, the question is not: to regulate or not to regulate. It is, rather, who (or what) regulates?

All markets are regulated. In a free market we all know what would happen if someone charged, say, $100 per apple. He’d sell few apples because someone else would offer to sell them for less or, pending that, consumers would switch to alternative products. The market would not permit the seller to successfully charge $100.

Similarly, in a free market employers will not succeed in offering $1 an hour and workers will not succeed in demanding $20 an hour for a job that produces only $10 worth of output an hour. If they try, they will quickly see their mistake and learn.

And again, in a free market an employer who subjected his employees to perilous conditions without adequately compensating them to their satisfaction for the danger would lose them to competitors.

What regulates the conduct of these people? Market forces. (I keep specifying in a free market because in a state-regulated economy, market forces are diminished or suppressed.) Economically speaking, people cannot do whatever they want in a free market because other people are free to counteract them. Just because the government doesn’t stop a seller from charging $100 for an apple doesn’t mean he or she can get that amount. Market forces regulate the seller as strictly as any bureaucrat could—even more so, because a bureaucrat can be bribed. Whom would you have to bribe to be exempt from the law of supply and demand?

It is no matter of indifference whether state operatives or market forces do the regulating. Bureaucrats, who necessarily have limited knowledge and perverse incentives, regulate by threat of physical force. In contrast, market forces operate peacefully through millions of participants, each with intimate knowledge of his or her own personal circumstances, looking out for their own well-being. Bureaucratic regulation is likely to be irrelevant or inimical to what people in the market care about. Not so regulation by market forces.

If this is correct, there can be no unregulated, or unfettered, markets. We use those terms in referring to markets that are unregulated or unfettered by government. As long as we know what we mean, the expressions are unobjectionable.

But not everyone knows what we mean. Someone unfamiliar with the natural regularities of free markets can find the idea of an unregulated economy terrifying. So it behooves market advocates to be capable of articulately explaining the concept of spontaneous market order—that is, order (to use Adam Ferguson’s felicitous phrase) that is the product of human action but not human design. This is counterintuitive, so it takes some patience to explain it.

Order grows from market forces. But where do impersonal market forces come from? These are the result of the nature of human action. Individuals select ends and act to achieve them by adopting suitable means. Since means are scarce and ends are abundant, individuals economize in order to accomplish more rather than less. And they always seek to exchange lower values for higher values (as they see them) and never the other way around. In a world of scarcity tradeoffs are unavoidable, so one aims to trade up rather than down. The result of this and other features of human action and the world at large is what we call market forces. But really, it is just men and women acting rationally in the world.

—Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom (2009-06-05): Regulation Red Herring

That last point is awfully important. It’s convenient to talk about market forces, but you need to remember that remember that those market forces are not supernatural entities that act on people from the outside. Market forces are a conveniently abstracted way of talking about the systematic patterns that emerge from people’s economic choices. S if the question is, who will stop markets from running riot, the answer is: We will; by peacefully choosing what to buy and what not to buy, where to work and where not to work, what to accept and what not to accept, we inevitably shape and order the market that surrounds us. When we argue about whether or not government should intervene in the economy in order to regiment markets, the question is not whether markets should be made orderly and regular, but rather whether the process of ordering is in the hands of the people making the trade, or by unaccountable third parties; and whether the means of ordering are going to be consensual or coercive.

The one thing that I would want to add to Sheldon’s excellent point is that there are two ways in which we will do the regulating of our own economic affairs in a free society — because, as I have discussed here before, there are two different kinds of peaceful spontaneous orders in a self-regulating society. There is the sort of spontaneity that Sheldon focuses on — the unplanned but orderly coordination that emerges as a byproduct of ordinary people’s interactions. (This is spontaneity in the sense of achieving a goal without a prior blueprint for the goal.) But a self-regulating people can also engage in another kind of spontaneity — that is, achieving harmony and order through a conscious process of voluntary organizing and activism. (This is spontaneity in the sense of achieving a goal through means freely chosen, rather than through constraints imposed.) In a freed market, if someone in the market exploits workers or chisels costumers, if she produces things that are degrading or dangerous or uses methods that are environmentally destructive, it’s vital to remember that you do not have to just let the market take its course — because the market is not something outside of us; we are market forces. And so a freed market includes not only individual buyers and sellers, looking to increase a bottom line, but also our shared projects, when people choose to work together, by means of conscious but non-coercive activism, alongside, indeed as a part of, the undesigned forms of spontaneous self-organization that emerge. We are market forces, and the regulating in a self-regulating market is done not only by us equilibrating our prices and bids, but also by deliberately working to shift the equilibrium point, by means of conscious entrepreneurial action — and one thing that libertarian principles clearly imply, even though actually-existing libertarians may not stress it often enough, is that entrepreneurship includes social entrepreneurship, working to achieve non-monetary social goals.

So when self-regulating workers rely on themselves and not on the state, abusive or exploitative or irresponsible bosses can be checked or plain run out of the market, by the threat or the practice of strikes, of boycotts, of divestiture, and of competition — competition from humane and sustainable alternatives, promoted by means of Fair Trade certifications, social investing, or other positive pro-cott measures. As long as the means are voluntary, based on free association and dissociation, the right to organize, the right to quit, and the right to put your money where your mouth is, these are all part of a freed market, no less than apple-carts or corporations. When liberals or Progressives wonder who will check the power of the capitalists and the bureaucratic corporations, their answer is — a politically-appointed, even less accountable bureaucracy. The libertarian answer is — the power of the people, organized with our fellow workers into fighting unions, strikes and slow-downs, organized boycotts, and working to develop alternative institutions like union hiring halls, grassroots mutual aid associations, free clinics, or worker and consumer co-ops. In other words, if you want regulations that check destructive corporate power, that put a stop to abuse or exploitation or the trashing of the environment, don’t lobby—organize!

Where government regulators would take economic power out of the hands of the people, on the belief that social order only comes from social control, freed markets put economic power into the hands of the people, and they call on us to build a self-regulating order by means of free choice and grassroots organization. When I say that the libertarian Left is the real Left, I mean that, and it’s not because I’m revising the meaning of the term Left to suit my own predilections or some obsolete French seating chart. It’s because libertarianism, rightly understood, calls on the workers of the world to unite, and to solve the problems of social and economic regulation not by appealing to any external authority or privileged managerial planner, but rather by taking matters into their own hands and working together through grassroots community organizing to build the kind of world that we want to live in.

All power to the people!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iranian Elections

From: MattBors
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DoD Training Manual Describes Protest As "Low-Level Terrorism"

Pentagon training course says engaging in First Amendment is terrorist activity
by Steve Watson

Current Department of Defense anti-terrorism training course material states that the exercise of First Amendment rights in the U.S. constitutes terrorist activity.

The ACLU has written to the DoD regarding its Antiterrorism and Force Protection Annual Refresher Training Course, which advises personnel that political protest amounts to "low-level terrorism".

"It has come to our attention that the Department of Defense's Annual Level I Antiterrorism (AT) Training for 2009 misinforms Department of Defense (DoD) personnel that certain First Amendment-protected activity may amount to "low level terrorism" The ACLU writes.

"We are writing to ask that you take immediate steps to remedy this situation." the letter to acting Under-Secretary Gail McGinn states.

A PDF of the ACLU's letter also contains print outs of the relevant sections of the course material.

The training introduction reads:

"Anti-terrorism (AT) and Force Protection (FP) are two facets of the Department of Defense (DoD) Mission Assurance Program. It is DoD policy, as found in DoD I 2000.16, that the DoD Components and the DoD elements and personnel shall be protected from terrorist acts through a high priority, comprehensive, AT program. The DoD's AT program shall be all encompassing using an integrated systems approach."

The first question of the Terrorism Threat Factors, "Knowledge Check 1" section reads:

Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorism activity?

Select the correct answer and then click Check Your Answer.

Attacking the Pentagon
Hate crimes against racial groups

In order to proceed, users must give the "correct" answer as "Protests".

According to the document, all DoD personnel are required to complete the course on a yearly basis.

The ACLU points out that although in and of itself the classification of protest as terrorism is deeply disturbing, it is even more alarming when viewed in the context of the Pentagon's long term efforts to crack down on organized dissent.

The surveillance and pre-emptive arrest of protesters, on charges of "domestic terrorism", at last year's RNC by the FBI is also cited by the ACLU.

Other precedents that the ACLU neglected to mention in it's letter include, most recently, the fact that the FBI were spying on "Tea Party" protesters nationwide.

One week prior to those revelations, we also reported that the Maryland National Guard was put on alert in anticipation of the nationwide protests, while a Homeland Security spokesman refused to deny that protesters would be under surveillance from the DHS.

The Maryland National Guard issued a Force Protection Advisory on April 11 which warned the National Guard to be on alert during the Tea Party protests because Guardsmen and Guard facilities might become “targets of opportunity.” The contact point for the document was listed as the Antiterrorism Program Coordinator.

The advisory was almost exactly the same as a United States Army Reserve Command Force Protection Advisory that was issued last November before the nationwide End the Fed protests, warning that protesters were congregating across the country to demonstrate against the private Federal Reserve.

Over the last few years we have seen countless examples of security assessment reports from the likes of the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, as well as police training manuals, which state that anti-war protesters, gun owners, veterans, Ron Paul supporters and those who merely cite the Constitution should be equated with extremists.

The continued surveillance of protesters, in addition to the ongoing agenda to equate dissent with terrorism, highlights the fact that the architecture of the police state, which was massively expanded under George W. Bush, has not been dismantled or relaxed by an Obama administration that promised “change,”. If anything, it has only grown bigger.

The Obama administration’s announcement that the illegal warrantless surveillance of American citizens, a program initiated under Bush, will continue and in fact intensify under Obama, is another shining example of the fact that - no matter who is in power and no matter the political persuasion of those being watched - all Americans who have the temerity to exercise constitutional rights are considered dangerous and worthy of being targeted by the federal government with surveillance tools supposedly introduced to fight terrorists.

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Obama Is Running A "Gangster" Government

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When Promises Are Lies

by Vedran Vuk

The Republican electorate falls for the promise of fiscal responsibility every time – hook, line, and sinker. But without fail, once a Republican candidate reaches the halls of power, his "principled" sweet talk falters and reveals the forked tongue behind it. With no surprise, runaway spending persists – election after election.

Only a minority of voters such as neo-conservative war hawks actually get what they want. For war hawks win no matter the party on top. But, if there was ever a voter more tragically-fated than the traditional Republican, it is – without a doubt – the modern Democrat.

Politicians – Left and Right – have reputations for lies and deceit. The Bush administration’s hypocrisy was on a grand scale and certainly deserves this reputation. But for Democrats, this stereotype doesn’t apply – at least on economic issues.

Democrats don’t lie on economic policy matters. They actually do provide enormous government programs and regulation demanded by their constituents.

The past century of U.S. economic policy is a tale of ever-expanding government programs. With the size of government exploding, there remain few aspects of life absent from Washington’s oversight. The promises of large and grandiose programs have been fulfilled.

What Democrat can say, "We elected so-and-so, but he actually cut the overall size of government?" On the other hand, the Republican voter finds himself in a completely different predicament.

Every Republican can say, "We elected so-and-so, but he actually increased the overall size of government?" Yes, there are isolated cases of Republicans sticking to smaller government, but for the most part, Republicans also enlarge the state.

Despite their politicians actually delivering promised programs, progressive voters still huff and puff about their politicians’ inability to solve problems. The proposed solution is always to play musical chairs with the top leadership. Cliché phrases like "Cleaning up Washington" or "Changing the way Washington Works" promise to make everything better.

These phrases are the same as the worn out mantras of die-hard communists. Should the top leaders of the Soviet Union have been "good" and "wise" all would have worked out. However, the major failures of the Soviet Union were not the leaders, but instead the impossibility of centrally planning an economy from the top down.

In the same sense, "Changing the Way Washington Works" is not going to change the way a school in inner city Baltimore fails to educate the next generation of Americans. It’s not going to make the line at your local Department of Motor Vehicles 45 minutes shorter, nor will it deliver welfare checks exactly to those in need – when they need it.

Another myth spoon-fed to progressive voters is the idea that programs such as No Child Left Behind would have mysteriously worked better had a Democrat instituted the plan. Even decades-old welfare programs from the Johnson era are supposedly more efficient with Democrats holding the reins of power. These claims are essentially complex conspiracy theories where Republicans thwart all the programs passed by the previous Democrat. For some reason, the government programs never achieve their goals.

Don’t we already have Social Security, TANF, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing, minimum wage, the Department of Education, OSHA, etc? Despite an abundance of government interventions and programs, the problems of society remain.

Greater spending solves nothing either. Our education system is in shambles though many inner city schools receive over $10,000 a student. Our medical system wastes piles of money while still failing to efficiently provide healthcare.

Democrats should stop being flustered with their politicians because their policies fail. Take it easy on them. We cannot solve poverty by voting for a policy that promises to erase poverty. The world is a little more complicated than that. Real economic growth works organically step by step in a free economy. It works business by business, block by block, city by city – not policy by policy.

If government programs could solve the world’s problems, we would have been living in Utopia 60 years ago. Both sides of the aisle are at fault for bringing us into the current mess. Naïveté and ignorance have brought us here hand-in-hand. Republicans have trusted what any man promises, and Democrats have trusted any government program promised. The cost of our mislaid trust has been high.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Free* Government Money With Matthew Lesko!

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Serial Killers and Politicians Share Traits

by Jim Kouri

(The following commentary includes material obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.)

Psychopathy is a personality disorder manifested in people who use a mixture of charm, manipulation, intimidation, and occasionally violence to control others, in order to satisfy their own selfish needs. Although the concept of psychopathy has been known for centuries, the FBI leads the world in the research effort to develop a series of assessment tools, to evaluate the personality traits and behaviors attributable to psychopaths.

Interpersonal traits include glibness, superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, and the manipulation of others. The affective traits include a lack of remorse and/or guilt, shallow affect, a lack of empathy, and failure to accept responsibility. The lifestyle behaviors include stimulation-seeking behavior, impulsivity, irresponsibility, parasitic orientation, and a lack of realistic life goals.

Research has demonstrated that in those criminals who are psychopathic, scores vary, ranging from a high degree of psychopathy to some measure of psychopathy. However, not all violent offenders are psychopaths and not all psychopaths are violent offenders. If violent offenders are psychopathic, they are able to assault, rape, and murder without concern for legal, moral, or social consequences. This allows them to do what they want, whenever they want. Ironically, these same traits exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful positions in society including political officeholders.

The relationship between psychopathy and serial killers is particularly interesting. All psychopaths do not become serial murderers. Rather, serial murderers may possess some or many of the traits consistent with psychopathy. Psychopaths who commit serial murder do not value human life and are extremely callous in their interactions with their victims. This is particularly evident in sexually motivated serial killers who repeatedly target, stalk, assault, and kill without a sense of remorse. However, psychopathy alone does not explain the motivations of a serial killer.

What doesn’t go unnoticed is the fact that some of the character traits exhibited by serial killers or criminals may be observed in many within the political arena. While not exhibiting physical violence, many political leaders display varying degrees of anger, feigned outrage and other behaviors. They also lack what most consider a “shame” mechanism. Quite simply, most serial killers and many professional politicians must mimic what they believe, are appropriate responses to situations they face such as sadness, empathy, sympathy, and other human responses to outside stimuli.

Understanding psychopathy becomes particularly critical to law enforcement during a serial murder investigation and upon the arrest of a psychopathic serial killer. The crime scene behavior of psychopaths is likely to be distinct from other offenders. This distinct behavior can assist law enforcement in linking serial cases.
Psychopaths are not sensitive to altruistic interview themes, such as sympathy for their victims or remorse/guilt over their crimes. They do possess certain personality traits that can be exploited, particularly their inherent narcissism, selfishness, and vanity. Specific themes in past successful interviews of psychopathic serial killers focused on praising their intelligence, cleverness, and skill in evading capture.

Experts recognized that more research is needed concerning the links between serial murder and psychopathy, in order to understand the frequency and degree of psychopathy among serial murderers. This may assist law enforcement in understanding and identifying serial murderers.

Over the past twenty years, law enforcement and experts from a number of varying disciplines have attempted to identify specific motivations for serial murderers and to apply those motivations to different typologies developed for classifying serial murderers. These range from simple, definitive models to complex, multiple-category typologies that are laden with inclusion requirements. Most typologies are too cumbersome to be utilized by law enforcement during an active serial murder investigation, and they may not be helpful in identifying an offender.

As most homicides are committed by someone known to the victim, police focus on the relationships closest to the victim. This is a successful strategy for most murder investigations. The majority of serial murderers, however, are not acquainted with or involved in a consensual relationship with their victims.

For the most part, serial murder involves strangers with no visible relationship between the offender and the victim. This distinguishes a serial murder investigation as a more nebulous undertaking than that of other crimes. Since the investigations generally lack an obvious connection between the offender and the victim, investigators instead attempt to discern the motivations behind the murders, as a way to narrow their investigative focus.

Serial murder crime scenes can have bizarre features that may cloud the identification of a motive. The behavior of a serial murderer at crime scenes may evolve throughout the series of crimes and manifest different interactions between an offender and a victim. It is also extremely difficult to identify a single motivation when there is more than one offender involved in the series.

Identifying a homicide series is easier in rapidly-developing, high profile cases involving low risk victims. These cases are reported to law enforcement upon discovery of the crimes and draw immediate media attention.

In contrast, identifying a series involving high risk victims in multiple jurisdictions is much more difficult. This is primarily due to the high risk lifestyle and transitory nature of the victims. Additionally, the lack of communication between law enforcement agencies and differing records management systems impede the linkage of cases to a common offender.

While many political leaders will deny the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials and lawmakers at all levels of government.

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Fascialism: The New American System

by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

"If classical liberalism spells individualism, fascism spells government."
~ Benito Mussolini, Fascism: Doctrines and Institutions, p. 10

The two worst scourges of humanity in the twentieth century were socialism and fascism. Together, they wrecked much of the world economy because of their shared "fatal conceit" (F.A. Hayek’s term) that government central planners were superior to private property and free markets. Fascist and socialist governments (not that there’s much difference between them) murdered over 100 million of their own citizens, as the sociologist R.J. Rummel has documented (See his book, Death by Government), and instigated wars that caused the deaths of millions more.

Incredibly, the two-party duopoly that has long ruled America has adopted both fascism and socialism as the defining characteristics of our economic system. Call it Fascialism. It is a recipe for national economic suicide.

Economic Fascism

Economic fascism as practiced by Italy and Germany in the 1920s and ’30s allowed private property and private enterprise to exist, but only if it was strictly controlled and regimented by the state so that it would serve "the public interest" and not private interests. The philosophy of German fascism was expressed in the slogan Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz, which means "the common good comes before the private good." "The Aryan," Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, "willingly subordinates his own ego to the community and, if the hour demands, even sacrifices it." This sounds a lot like John McCain’s campaign theme of "Country First" (before self-interest), doesn’t it?

Of course, it is the government that decides what constitutes "the common good." Is there any doubt that government will now define what constitutes "the common good" in the banking and automobile industries – and in health care once it is fully nationalized?

The philosophy behind Italian fascism was virtually identical. "The fascist conception of life," Mussolini wrote in Fascism: Doctrines and Institutions, "stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State."

It is remarkable how contemporary economic policy pronouncements are so often identical to those made by early twentieth-century European fascists. Mussolini complained in 1935, for example, that government intervention in the Italian economy was "too diverse, varied contrasting. There has been . . . intervention, case by case, as the need arises." His advisor, Fausto Pitigliani, explained that under fascism government regulation would achieve a certain "unity of aim" instead.

This is exactly how the powers that be in Washington, D.C. have diagnosed the current financial crisis: There’s been too little financial market regulation, they tell us, and it has been too, well, diverse and contrasting. Thus, they have recommended a Super Regulatory Authority that will supposedly regulate, regiment, and control all "systemic risk taking" in the entire economy. The only debate is whether an entirely new agency should be created to achieve this "unity of aim," or if the Fed – which caused the current economic crisis in the first place – should be given the responsibility.

Government-business "partnerships" were a hallmark of both Italian and German fascism. As Ayn Rand once noted, however, in such "partnerships" government is always the "senior partner. " Government-business "collaboration" was supposedly needed in fascist Italy, explained Fausto Pitigliani in his 1934 book, The Italian Corporatist State, because "the principle of private initiative could only be useful in the service of the national interest." It is this "service of the national interest" that is the intended work of the newly appointed "Car Czar" in the Obama administration (along with twenty or so other "czars" so far). It is inevitable that the end product will be the world’s worst cars, endless subsidies and bailouts, and mind-boggling debt piled onto the backs of the taxpayers. All to pay off a campaign debt to the United Autoworkers Union, which bears most of the responsibility for the destruction of General Motors and Chrysler in the first place.

The hallmark of the Obama administration’s economic policy thus far is a forced "partnerships" with dozens of large banks along with General Motors and Chrysler. It is threatening hundreds of other "partnerships" in the name of environmental regulation. And that’s just in the first five months. Mussolini would be envious.

Italian fascism created one gigantic bailout economy. Italian social critic Gaetano Salvemini wrote in his 1936 book, Under the Axe of Fascism, that "It is the state, i.e., the taxpayer, who has become responsible to private enterprise. In Fascist Italy the state pays for the blunders of private enterprise." "Profit remained to private initiative," Salvemini wrote, but "the government added the losses to the taxpayers’ burden. Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social." Sound familiar?

Mussolini himself boasted in 1934 that "three quarters of the Italian economic system had been subsidized by government," Salvemini wrote. The Obama administration (with a jump start by the Bush administration) is on a path to exceed this level of plunder.


In the preface to the 1976 edition of his famous book, The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek wrote (p. xxiii) that when the book was first published in 1944, socialism meant "unambiguously the nationalization of the means of production and the central economic planning which made this necessary." But by the 1970s "socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state." Thus, ever since the 1930s the Democratic Party in America has been the party of socialism, with the Republican Party either providing little or no effective opposition or, as with the administration of President George W. Bush, serving as accomplices. The Bush administration vastly expanded the welfare state, while Obama intends to expand it much faster, especially if he succeeds in implementing health care socialism and imposing even more punitive levels of income taxation on the most productive citizens.

Obama promises the worst of all economic worlds: A vast expansion of the welfare state form of socialism, as defined by Hayek, along with a heavy dose of old-fashioned, early twentieth-century, Stalinist socialism with the nationalization of banks, automobile companies, the health care industries, and whatever else he can get away with. The Mussolini-like cult of personality that has developed around him will facilitate this disastrous path to national economic suicide.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Innocent Gitmo Detainee Says He Was Tortured, Holds Bush and Cheney Responsible

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NASA Study Says Sun Might Be The Reason for “Global Warming”

Aaron's EnvironMental Corner

This story has already made its rounds over the weekend, permeating all kinds of media. Of course, it was on the weekend, so most people missed it in the main stream media. I think it got a mention on the nightly news as a “possible reason” for global warming.

The real data, however, is showing that the solar cycle, which includes flares and emissions changes from the sun, has more to do with the planet’s climate than anything else. The NASA report attributes recent trends to cyclic variation and not to man’s “emissions.”

There are plenty of skeptics on this, of course. Those skeptics, who are usually called “mainstream,” are the global warming cabal who are now attempting to marginalize the NASA report. They argue that the report is “too limited” and doesn’t have enough information. Interesting, since that’s exactly what the skeptics against the man-made global warming proponents use against them. Hmm…

The sun goes in cycles of about 11 years, with the next solar maximum coming in 2012. Right on that Mayan calendar. Which brings another point, not really mentioned in the short NASA writeup: these 11 year cycles are miniature cycles that are part of the overall cycle which is represented in the Zodiac and Mayan Calendars and what modern science calls the Ice Ages.

Right now, so you know, we’re in the process of emerging from the “mini-ice age” that was the cause of all of the global climate problems up to the 1800s. A little tidbit the Gorebots generally overlook. Same with the extremely warm period before that, the height of which made Greenland green and brought on the Viking era.

So, back to NASA’s report, which acknowledges two important facts before reversing itself and pandering to the global warming elitists:

1. The sun has had a major influence in global warming and cooling in the past.

2. The sun is likely to play a significant role in future climate change.
What they avoid saying, of course, is that it’s playing a role now. Nice of them. Nobody wins Nobel Prizes for disproving a commonly-held, grant-getting theory of the sky falling. They win Nobels for making predictions of global catastrophe based on specially-picked data that backs up their claims. Then they make a Power Point and go on the road.

NASA’s website, like all scientific endeavors that get tangled up in the politics of global warming, is rife with contradictions about the true cause(s) of the phenomenon. This report is a nice synopsis of those contradictions, nicely laid out in a little biosphere of the overall nature of the man-made climate change arguments (for and against).

My views, of course, are that we are definitely having an impact on our planet’s climate, but I don’t think it’s nearly to the degree that the Gorebots and proponents of things like cap-and-trade would have us believe. There are a lot of reasons for this, namely the amount of CO2 we emit versus what’s in the atmosphere naturally (volcanoes, geysers, buffalo farts, and so forth) is almost insignificant. Ad to that the evidence that the dinosaur ages showed huge amounts of CO2 (versus now) in the atmosphere and the question of whether increased CO2 levels are a cause or effect on climate warming becomes a hard one to answer.

I think that our impact as humans is much more significant in other ways that are much more obvious and generally less contentious. Things like garbage, nuclear waste, the environmental impacts of various industrial and mining activities, etc. We have real, plausible, workable ways of dealing with those obvious impacts. Why aren’t we focusing more on that?

Probably because you can’t install a global tax system based on what a relatively small percentage of people are doing. “Global warming” as a man-made phenomenon can be blamed on every human and thus be an excuse for taxing every human.

It’s my belief that this is literally how Al Gore and his compatriots think of the issue. They aren’t out to save humanity, they’re out to figure out how to tax it as a whole. The sooner the Gorebots realize this, the sooner we can get on to some real environmental issues and stop wasting all this time, energy, and debate on man-made global CO2 emissions.

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