The Militant Libertarian

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

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hamilton’s Betrayal

by George C. Leef

There is a tendency among Americans to think of the nation’s Founders as a group of wealthy white men who owned property, didn’t like British rule, and all thought pretty much alike. But it’s certainly not the case that they all thought alike. Two of the most famous among them, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, held to profoundly different visions of the path the nation should take.

Jefferson believed in individual liberty and very limited government — the sort of tightly bound government that he thought the Constitution had established. He distrusted governmental power, whether in the hands of the British king’s minions or fellow Americans. He maintained that people had the right to run their own lives and should not be pawns in grand social or economic schemes of government officials.

Hamilton’s philosophy was diametrically opposed to Jefferson’s. Hamilton thought that a strong central government was needed to bring about national prosperity and power. He was a mercantilist who rejected Adam Smith’s idea that capitalism based on the individual pursuit of self-interest was the most efficient and progressive economic system. Instead, he favored state capitalism with all its concomitants, including government control over money and credit, business subsidies, and protective tariffs. That vision requires a central government that subordinates the liberty and property of the citizens to the supposed national interest.

Although Thomas Jefferson is the better known and more revered of the two, it is Hamilton’s philosophy that has prevailed. It didn’t happen consciously or all at once, but the last vestiges of Jeffersonianism were eradicated nearly a century ago. Hamilton’s anti-capitalist, big-government philosophy reigns supreme in the United States and steadily concentrates more and more power in the halls of government.

Has that been a good thing? Economics professor Thomas DiLorenzo says emphatically that it has been a bad thing — in fact, a curse. Hence the title of his latest book, Hamilton’s Curse. In it, he shows that we have paid a staggering price for having adopted Hamilton’s philosophy.

Like so many other politicians who have held sway over the American people, Hamilton was a headstrong authoritarian who could not imagine progress unless it was directed by government officials such as himself. Politicians had to lead and the people had to obey. Early in the book DiLorenzo illustrates that point by recounting Hamilton’s role in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. Farmers in western Pennsylvania objected to and refused to pay the excise tax that Hamilton (as George Washington’s secretary of the Treasury) had worked to impose on the sale of one of their principal products — whiskey. When many farmers refused to pay the tax, Hamilton persuaded Washington to lead an army of 12,000 soldiers into the region to quell the “uprising.” There was no fighting, but a small number of obstinate farmers were arrested, then dragged across the state during winter to stand trial in Philadelphia. Hamilton actually wanted the poor men to be hanged, but Washington disappointed his bloodthirsty young admirer by pardoning them. Hamilton looks pleasant enough in his portrait on our $10 bill, but he was an arrogant egomaniac.

Hamilton was a determined opponent of Jefferson’s laissez-faire philosophy at every turn. When it came to trade, he demanded high protective tariffs because he thought, in the mercantilistic tradition, that if a nation produced “its own” goods rather than purchasing them from “other countries” it would become stronger. Mercantilism was inseparable from economic nationalism — the foolish and destructive idea that political boundaries have great economic significance. (We still suffer grievously from this idiocy, of course.) Individual American consumers would be harmed by artificially high prices for items they might have bought less expensively from producers in other countries, but Hamilton was not concerned about the problems of individuals. His obsession was with “strengthening” the nation.

In the early years of the United States, Hamilton battled against Jefferson’s reading of the Constitution as placing severe limits on federal authority. To Hamilton and his Federalist allies, the wording of the Constitution, especially the enumerated powers of Congress, meant nothing more than an intellectual game of trying to invent interpretations that gave the government “inherent” powers that it was not specifically given. Contrary to the sensible, restrictive reading of the Constitution defended by Jefferson, Hamilton insisted that the General Welfare and Commerce Clauses were meant to give the federal government almost limitless powers.

Perhaps the most illustrative battle between Hamilton and Jefferson concerned the creation of a national bank. When Hamilton proposed establishing one, Jefferson argued that not only was there no commercial reason to have such a bank, but that there was no constitutional authority for it. In reply, Hamilton wrote a report, expounding at great length his mistaken economic notions and his view that the Constitution was meant to be read as giving the government power to do anything that politicians might think to be in the national interest. Alas, the bank was created and did considerable economic damage. DiLorenzo provides an excellent history of the First and Second Bank of the United States, showing how they brought about economic dislocation and America’s first national panic — the Panic of 1819.

Hamilton’s legacy

Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804, but his big-government philosophy was carried on by his many intellectual brethren. One was John Marshall, the famous chief justice on the Supreme Court who authored many decisions that undermined the authority of state governments to run their own affairs and concentrated power in Washington, D.C. Few lawyers will ever have encountered criticism of such decisions as Marbury v. Madison, Fletcher v. Peck, or Gibbons v. Ogden, since they accord with the prevailing view that it is a good thing to have more authority in the hands of federal judges and politicians. DiLorenzo shows them all to be a part of the Hamiltonian vision of the United States — not free individuals and sovereign states, but rather a nation strongly controlled and directed by the central government.

Another Hamiltonian was Henry Clay, who is usually regarded as a “great statesman” by historians. DiLorenzo’s portrait is far less flattering. Clay was constantly angling for tariffs and subsidies that would benefit him personally; in short, he was just another conniving politician. Clay adopted Hamilton’s belief in the supposed need for a powerful national government and sought federal funding for “internal improvements” — that is, government-financed canals, railroads, and other “infrastructure investments.” Clay’s theory was that the free market would not make such investments but that government could and would do so “in the public interest.” DiLorenzo shows that thinking doubly wrong. The government projects were invariably costly failures that merely lined the pockets of a few, while consuming huge amounts of public funds; and entrepreneurs working in the free market did build roads, railroads, and other projects where it was profitable to do so.

Abraham Lincoln was another politician who accepted the Hamiltonian philosophy. He eagerly said he was a follower of Clay on the need for government-financed “internal improvements,” especially railroad subsidies. He was a protectionist and believer in federal control of money and banking. With Congress nearly empty of Jeffersonians after the southern states left in 1861, the Republicans handed Lincoln all the power he wanted. Hamilton’s big-government mania came to full flower under him. DiLorenzo mentions the shameful treatment of the Ohio Democratic congressman Clement Vallandigham, who was arrested and deported to Canada for having given speeches opposing the war and the Lincoln administration’s authoritarian policies.

The country got a respite from the Hamiltonian policies of the postwar Republicans (most notably protective tariffs and subsidies for favored businesses) during the two, nonconsecutive terms of Grover Cleveland, a free-trade, hard-money, limited-government Democrat. Unfortunately, Hamiltonian thinking came thundering back under Teddy Roosevelt, who thought that the nation would be much better off if the president had almost unlimited power. During the constitutional convention, Alexander Hamilton had proposed a virtual monarchy for the country; with Teddy Roosevelt in the White House, the United States came close.

1913: A fateful year for liberty

And yet, things soon got immeasurably worse! DiLorenzo points to three events in the disastrous year 1913 that radically transformed the United States, driving the last nails into the coffin of Jeffersonian liberty. First, there was the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment, which requires that U.S. senators be elected by popular vote. Previously, they had been appointed by state legislatures, a constitutional provision meant to help protect state sovereignty. State appointment also helped to keep senators from catering to special-interest groups nationwide. Hamilton’s Federalists had been trying to institute direct popular election of senators since 1826 and in 1913 they got their wish.

Second, in 1913 the country was shackled to the federal income tax. During the Civil War, the government had imposed an income tax, but it had been repealed in 1872. Special-interest groups eager to see growth in federal spending lusted after the resurrection of the income tax and briefly had one in 1894 when one was enacted into law. But it was declared unconstitutional in 1895 by the Supreme Court, so latter-day Hamiltonians set about procuring a constitutional amendment.

In that terrible year, 1913, a deal was struck in Congress, whereby representatives from the farm states would support the income-tax amendment in exchange for a reduction in tariff rates. DiLorenzo comments on this Faustian bargain:

American farmers would soon regret their support for the government’s income tax; by 1930, tariff rates had risen to their highest rates ever — an average of 59.1 percent. Federal politicians realized that with all that tax revenue coming in, they could afford to enact prohibitive tariffs as a way to buy political support from various manufacturing industries.
The income tax gave the federal politicians a new stream of revenues that they could easily increase to meet the “needs” of the government. At first the rates were low and applied only to a few Americans. Opponents contended that the tax was dangerous — what would prevent politicians from increasing the rates to frightfully high levels, say 10 percent? Tax advocates scoffed and said those concerns were just scare tactics. And within 30 years, the highest income-tax rate reached 90 percent.

The third horrible decision in 1913 was to create the Federal Reserve System. For decades after the Civil War, a cabal of bankers, industrialists, and statist politicians had schemed to put the United States under the thumb of a central bank. The Panic of 1907 gave them the opening they needed. Under the leadership of Sen. Nelson Aldrich, a group of bankers and politicians hammered out the details of the central-banking system at a private meeting on Jekyll Island, Georgia, in 1910. President Woodrow Wilson was happy to sign the legislation in 1913 (Wilson was the first anti-Jeffersonian Democrat to occupy the White House) and “The Fed” set up shop the following year. DiLorenzo writes, “Washington, D.C., finally had a legal counterfeiting monopoly that could be hidden behind the guise of ‘monetary policy’ by clever academics and political activists.” Few understood it at the time, but the people had been hoodwinked into an arrangement that enabled the government to manipulate the supply of money and credit, vastly expanding federal power to control the economy.

Hamilton’s foolish ideas about economics and government power reign supreme in the United States today. What is left of the freedom Jefferson envisioned shrinks further every year as Congress passes more and more laws not permitted under any sensible reading of the Constitution, the president issues more and more executive orders never contemplated under the Constitution, and scores of regulatory agencies issue volumes of new diktats that trample on the Constitution.

Hamilton’s curse costs us dearly. American lives are lost in wars the country would never get involved in if it weren’t for its imperial presidency. The economy is far less prosperous than it would be if it weren’t for the tremendous diversion of resources into political boondoggles instead of productive enterprises. Liberties would be much greater if it weren’t for all the Hamiltonian laws and regulations telling Americans that they must do X and must not do Y.

How much different would America be if she had stayed with Jefferson’s philosophy of government and given Hamilton’s the cold shoulder? No one knows exactly, but I think that comparing the United States as it now is with a hypothetical, Jeffersonian United States would be like comparing life in the United States as it is with life in a country that has never known much liberty at all — Cuba for example. Just as most Cubans have no idea how much better off they would be if it weren’t for Castro, most Americans have no idea how much better off they would be if it weren’t for Hamilton.

Almost all American historical writing is done from the Hamiltonian perspective of government adulation. Tom DiLorenzo is to be congratulated for showing how wrong it is. Read this eye-opening book and get a copy for idealistic friends and relatives. They will thank you.

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School kids taught to praise Obama

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They Really Did This? Nobody Noticed?

Thanks to Tremendous News for the link.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

I Own Me

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Mandatory insurance: Yes, it’s a tax

by Jeff Jacoby
IT WAS A PERFECTLY straightforward question. The answer was anything but.

President Obama vows not to raise taxes on any American family earning less than $250,000 a year. Yet he backs legislation that would force every American to carry health insurance or pay a hefty penalty to the IRS. Such an “individual mandate’’ is included in all the major health care bills making their way through Congress, including the legislation unveiled by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus last week. So when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewed the president on Sunday, he raised the obvious challenge:

“Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money [to buy insurance], fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?’’

Obama replied that the individual mandate “is absolutely not a tax increase,’’ since, in his view, there is good reason to impose it. He stuck to that position even when confronted with Merriam-Webster’s definition of “tax’’ - “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.’’

“George,’’ chided Obama, “the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary . . . indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now.’’

But the only one “stretching’’ was the president, whose position was at odds with the legislation itself. “The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax,’’ notes the committee staff report on the Baucus bill. “The excise tax would be assessed through the tax code and applied as an additional amount of Federal tax owed.’’

Obama isn’t the first politician to maintain that a mandate to buy health insurance isn’t just another middle-class tax. Mitt Romney did so as governor of Massachusetts, boasting in 2006 that thanks to his signature health care law, “every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance, and the costs of health care will be reduced. And we will need no new taxes . . . to make this happen.’’ But isn’t the penalty that law imposes on the uninsured - a penalty that this year will run as high as $1,068 per person - a tax? Gosh, no, enthused Romney: “It’s a personal responsibility principle.’’

Whatever it’s called, it hasn’t transformed Massachusetts into an Eden of universal coverage. According to the Department of Revenue, nearly 200,000 state taxpayers remained uninsured at the beginning of 2008. And the individual mandate hasn’t made insurance in the Bay State more affordable: Massachusetts has the highest health insurance premiums in the nation.

Far from holding insurance costs down, “reform’’ in Massachusetts seems to have had the opposite effect. “Insurance premiums rose by 7.4 percent in 2007, 8-12 percent in 2008, and are expected to rise 9 percent this year,’’ notes Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute. “By comparison, nationwide insurance costs rose by 6.1 percent in 2007, just 4.7 percent in 2008, and are projected to increase 6.4 percent this year.’’

However tempting it may seem, universal health coverage cannot be achieved by waving a legislative wand and ordering every citizen to buy insurance. Supporters of an individual health-insurance mandate like to compare it to the nearly universal requirement for auto insurance, but far from proving their point, it undermines it. True, auto insurance is mandatory almost everywhere. Yet nearly 15 percent of motorists remain uninsured.

Requiring that drivers be insured, Obama told Stephanopoulos, “is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car . . . I’m not covering all the costs.’’ Auto insurance is required, however, only if you choose to own a car and drive it on public roads. Under ObamaCare (as with RomneyCare), health insurance would be compulsory no matter what you did or didn’t do.

It is a myth that those who don’t buy health insurance are basically free riders who unload their medical costs onto the backs of more responsible Americans. In truth, most of the uninsured are young, fit, and unlikely to need medical care. Why should they be forced to pay for expensive insurance they don’t need?

The right way to expand coverage is not to scourge the healthy with new taxes, but to win them over with lower premiums. Deregulation is a far better strategy than compulsion. If insurers were free to compete for business across state lines, for example, and if states would repeal the excessive benefit requirements that have driven up the cost of insurance, premiums would shrink and so would the ranks of the uninsured.

Coercive insurance mandates are a prescription for more misery, not less. Massachusetts is learning that lesson the hard way. The rest of America doesn’t have to.

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Good news, Wyoming! California is still stupid

by Aaron Turpen

Under a severe budget crunch, California has three big plans to save their wallets from extinction: cancelling their big-money solar plant plans in the Mojave Desert, holding a big State yard sale to sell off overflow equipment and stuff they no longer need and... raising the amount of renewable power they are requiring themselves to buy.

That last one might not be so bad, as the original plan was to raise the mandate for the amount of power California must have from renewable sources (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) to 38% and to do so from in-state sources.

Then came the Governator. Wyoming can thank him for nixing that plan and implementing only the bad bits. Bad for California, that is. So far, California is the number one importer of Wyoming green power and it looks like they'll continue to be so, no matter how many windmills we throw out there and how much power we can produce to send to the Golden State.

Once again, good news for us. We get the jobs, they get the debt. Good trade.

Eventually those socialists out there are going to have to wake up and realize that their high-dollar experiment has run out of funding and come back to earth. Until then, I say we milk them for all they're worth. It's not like we pay for the wind here. Right?

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

BREAKING NEWS-Military Making Arrest at G-20

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Blame Republicans for Big Government

by Sheldon Richman

Government power is growing, and unless President Barack Obama and the majority in Congress have a libertarian epiphany, it will continue to grow for years.

Obama’s 2010 budget will come in at more than $3.4 trillion, with a deficit of well over $1 trillion. Though the deficit will decline — if the administration’s dubious projections of economic growth and war spending are correct — it will remain high, at about $1 trillion a year. The Congressional Budget Office sees $2.3 trillion more in deficits over the next decade than Obama anticipates. The main reason for the CBO’s disagreement is that it believes Obama is understating spending, by $1.7 trillion. That will bring spending to more than a quarter of GDP before falling to 23-24 percent. This is high even by recent standards.

As a result, the government’s debt will climb steadily toward 80 percent of GDP and beyond. As has been pointed out, this is in the banana-republic range. What happens when the consequences of the bailouts kick in?

Domestic spending, coming on top of the nearly $800 billion misnamed “stimulus” bill and $400 billion barrel of pork, will skyrocket. Obama, while promising fiscal responsibility, plans to spend hundreds of billions of new dollars to overhaul (i.e., centralize) medical care (which his budget understates), education, and energy production. Social Security and Medicare, already on the road to bankruptcy, will explode.

And so-called defense spending — the cost of empire — will also increase, though perhaps not as much as it did under George W. Bush. That could change, however, if Obama’s scenario about Iraq turns out to be too optimistic, as some people think it is. Republican hawks fear that after 2011 military spending will be flat, but there is no reason to think Obama is any less committed to an American global military presence than his predecessor. Watch what he does in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Taxes, direct and indirect, will be on the rise, too. Income tax rates for upper-income people will go up, and deductions will phase out. If Obama gets his cap-and-trade scheme, under which emitters of carbon dioxide will have to pay government for the privilege, everyone will pay higher prices as the cost of producing everything rises. So much for Obama’s promise to cut taxes for 95 percent of working people.

Obama’s budget is so audaciously ridiculous, even some of his fellow Democrats talked of revolt.

If the expansion of intrusive government (a redundancy) gives you the willies — it should; the cost is freedom and prosperity — you may be tempted to direct your anger at Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership. That would be myopic, however.

Blame the Republicans, beginning with the former president, George W. Bush. (We could go back further, but time and space are limited.)

The reason can be illustrated by an extraordinary moment that occurred just after Obama unveiled his multiyear budget plan. Contemplating the spending blueprint, Republican House leader John Boehner went before the media microphones and declared, “The era of big government is back.”

For Boehner to make such a statement suggests two possibilities, although both could be true: he thinks Americans are morons or he’s been in a coma since January 20, 2001, when Bush took office.

Note that he didn’t say, “Uh oh, government is going to get even bigger than it is now.” No, he said, “The era of big government is back.” Back — as in: returned after having gone away.

When did it go away? And does Boehner really believe that the American people don’t realize how much government grew under Bush?

It was Bill Clinton who declared the era of big government over in 1996, more than a year after his party lost control of Congress to the GOP. He hadn’t become a libertarian, but he was lucky enough to be president during a period of economic growth (the high-tech revolution was kicking in), when the public wanted a balanced budget and some retrenchment of the welfare state.

But in fact, big government did not disappear in the Clinton years, even if the rate of growth slowed.

Big government under Bush

Under Bush and a Republican Congress there was an explosion of growth on all fronts: hefty spending increased in virtually all respects, huge deficits and a doubling of the national debt, corporate bailouts, further centralization of education, protectionism, expansion of Medicare, increased regulation, undeclared wars, civil-liberties violations and other unchecked executive power, and more. Bush did not veto a single spending bill in eight years. His cutting of tax rates in 2001 and 2003 has to be judged in the context of growing spending. Milton Friedman pointed out that the level of spending, not taxation, is the truer gauge of the government burden. The money has to come from somewhere. Removing it from the economy through borrowing is as economically damaging as taxation — more so when you figure that the government will perpetrate inflation to manage the debt, depreciating the currency and eroding Americans’ purchasing power.

That was bad enough, but the Republicans added rank hypocrisy to the mix by claiming to favor free markets. Those who want increasingly to replace the market with government administration are happy to take the Republicans at their word and propagate the myth that GOP policies are the only alternative to statism.

In light of recent history, Boehner’s remark is more than a little absurd. It’s dishonest, even demagogic.

And it will have consequences beyond the moment. Advocates of government control of the economy have a stake in persuading the public that the current financial turmoil is mostly the result of the Bush administration’s alleged laissez-faire approach to governing. This is an outrageous lie. There was no laissez faire — quite the contrary. The Federal Register, which catalogues new regulations, grew apace in the Bush years. The last banking deregulation of any significance — repeal of the New Deal’s separation of investment and commercial banking — was signed by Clinton while Larry Summers was Treasury secretary. Summers today is Obama’s top economic advisor. (This is not to say that this deregulation contributed to the economic turmoil. It did not.)

Boehner’s statement, however, sounds as though he accepts the charge that America’s troubles come from too little government, not too much, in the Bush years. As result, his words have the effect of making free-market, small-government rhetoric sound merely partisan, if not incredible, even ridiculous. Anyone who believes Boehner’s (false) story would have to reject his opposition to Obama’s program as cynical. After all, if big government really disappeared from 2001 to 2009, it can’t be blamed for the economic meltdown.

But it didn’t disappear, and it can and should be blamed for the meltdown. The Republicans, by their cynicism and lack of principle, are as responsible for what’s going on as any Democrat — even more, because in the public’s eyes they have undermined sound economic reasoning by their hypocrisy.

Today Republican complaints about big government are easy targets of ridicule. There is a fallacy here, of course. The hypocrite’s offense is not that what he says is necessarily wrong, but that he does not practice what he preaches. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that distinction. They assume that if someone who calls for limited government actually increases the size of government, then it’s the professed philosophy that is flawed. The Democrats are happy to encourage that conclusion. Thanks a lot, Republicans.

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Gore admits climate change is part of “global governance” agenda

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Zionist Story

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Militant Reviews: Megadeth's Endgame

from Militant Reviews
Endgame by Megadeth

I'm a big fan of Mustaine and the band and have been for a long time. With that said, if this weren't a Megadeth album, I would tell people that it's only average. It gets a point for being Megadeth, though, so it's a little better than average.

Like most albums nowadays, it has three or four good songs on it, a couple of songs that I won't skip just because they're playing next in line, and a couple that I will skip over every time.

Some of the more political types will note that there is a decided progression in Mustaine's lyrics. Their last album was, well, on the edge of mainstream Republican and heading towards Glenn Beck. Now Dave's definitely in Beck territory, but for those who are libertarians, don't hold your breath that the lyrics are truly Jeffersonian.

All of that aside, the one song I refuse to listen to any longer is the third track, 44 Minutes, which just had badly distorted lyrics and a crappy theme overall. The music is killer, but Dave ruined it with his pro-cop, pro-establishment rant.

The absolute best song here is the title track, which rocks some serious guitars and some great background drumming. It's solid Megadeth the whole way.

The first track is almost just as good, being an instrumental that consists of great drum work and bass fillers and then two guitars (Dave and Chris) trading off on solos. Totally awesome stuff.

Overall, this is a good album and worth getting if you're a Megadeth fan. Otherwise, save your money and just buy the two tracks I've mentioned as digital downloads.

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Stung! Undercover celeb exposes Obama fiasco

by Chelsea Schilling

While President Obama delivers speeches praising the alleged success of Cash for Clunkers, a former rebate processor for the federal program – also working undercover for WND – is calling it "complete chaos."

After the federal "Cash for Clunkers" program ended Aug. 24, the Department of Transportation reported that nearly 700,000 clunkers were taken off the roads and replaced by more fuel-efficient vehicles. Rebate applications worth $2.877 billion were submitted by the 8 p.m. deadline. The Transportation Department hired federal employees and private contract workers to process the rebates vouchers so car dealers would be compensated.

Former White House aide Kathleen Willey was hired as an employee with Vangent Incorporated, a company that provides information technology management and business process outsourcing services to the public and private sectors. Its clients include federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the U.S. Departments of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Justice and Labor and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

But what her employer did not know was that Willey, the author of the book, "Target: Caught In the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton," was also taking notes on all she observed and experienced for WND.

Kathleen Willey helped send President Clinton to the White House in 1992. Little did she imagine how the Clintons would repay her. Get Willey's explosive hit, "Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton," at WND's Superstore!

Vangent, based in Arlington, Va., secured a contract from the Department of Transportation in late August and earlier this month to handle 300,000 applications – or nearly half of all Cash for Clunkers vouchers.Vangent Vice President Eileen Rivera told WND the company hired at least 4,000 temporary employees in Chester, Va., Tampa, Fla., and London, Ky.

No work history needed

Willey processed the Cash for Clunkers vouchers at her position in Chester, Va. She attended a job fair on Aug. 31 and was hired through Astyra Corp., a minority-owned staffing company.

"We were told that we would be working on the Cash for Clunkers programming, examining all of the documents that the government had received from dealers all over the country," Willey told WND.

She said many of the applicants had never even heard of the Cash for Clunkers program.

"We were not asked for any prior work history," Willey said. "The job description was listed as data entry and called for the ability to type 30 words per minute. There were no job requirements actually listed on the application."

The form requested direct deposit information, signature on a confidentiality agreement and background check, tax information and two forms of identification.

Willey said, "Some people did not have two forms, and I heard one recruiter say, 'We will work with you on that.'"

Kathleen Willey
She asked a woman who interviewed her what she would need to do before beginning her new position.

"When I asked if I needed to take any kind of test, the answer was, 'No,'" Willey said. "She told me to report for work the next day at 4:30 p.m. When I asked if I had to pass a background check before I started, she said, 'No.'"

However, Rivera said, "That's absolutely not true. Every single temporary employee who was hired went through a background check. If the background check did not clear, then they were released. They were not allowed to work on this program."

Barefoot and foul-mouthed employees

Willey said she was the only non-minority applicant in the room. While human resources required a strict dress code for the position, she said she was shocked by the clothing and conduct of other candidates who were interviewed:

I was the only one dressed for a job interview. Everyone else had on jeans and T-shirts. Most women wore flip-flops. One woman was barefoot. The women were dressed extremely unprofessionally, in jeans and very revealing tops. A lot of them wore T-shirts that barely covered their stomachs. What I noticed most were the foul mouths of everyone around me.
The next day, Willey reported that as many as 300 new employees attended orientation for new positions with Vangent.

"One of the first things we were told was that Cash for Clunkers will help the environment," she said.

One supervisor told the group, "The president has passed a good bill to do something good for the American people, but this program is a 'moving target.' Rules are changed daily."

A Department of Transportation webinar instructor repeated the statement about the program being a "moving target."

"He was obviously with the administration because he told us that the Cash for Clunkers program was a huge success for the country as well as the environment," Willey said. "He told us that we are dealing with 'three times the business in one-third of the time.' He also told us repeatedly that we were going to have to 'get out of our comfort zones' and be flexible.'"

She said she knew of only two professional trainers who had been brought in by the Department of Trainsportation to train everyone – supervisors, managers and employees. The supervisors and managers frequently contradicted one another and talked to the employees as if they were "in the first grade." The recruits were told they would soon receive photo identification badges.

A paycheck to do 'absolutely nothing'

The following day, on Sept. 2, employees waited outside from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. to get into the building.

"Once inside, we waited another 30 minutes to sign in 'so we would get paid,' Willey recalled. "I noted that it was written on the piece of paper that our work day started at 4:30. We then waited in line at the 'badge table' to get our badges. When I got there, I had no badge. I finally got to my desk at about 6:45 p.m., where I sat with nothing to do until 10 p.m."

The employees waited for their user IDs and passwords to access the Car Allowance Rebate System, or CARS. Meanwhile, they were being paid $14.71 an hour "to do absolutely nothing," Willey said.

Read the rest on World Net Daily here.

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It Is Going To Be A Rocky Road

by Chuck Baldwin

Let's face it: most Americans live in a world of false security. This is somewhat understandable, given the fact that the majority of the U.S. population was born after 1945. Few remember the dangers and hardships of World War II; fewer still remember the Great Depression. Few Americans know what it's like to not have some sort of "supercenter" nearby with shelves stocked with every kind of food imaginable, twenty-four hours a day. Few know what life was like before there were restaurants of all sizes and types on virtually every street corner in America. And only a handful remembers when most roads were unpaved, or when sports were truly a pastime and not a megabuck obsession.

Modern living within the world's only "superpower" has created a giant unsuspecting, soft, lackadaisical, and lethargic society. We expect the government to keep our streets safe, our roads paved, our stores stocked, our jobs secure, and our enemies at bay. However, in the desire to make government the panacea for all our problems, we have sold not only our independence, but also our virtue.

Where the federal government was contracted (via the U.S. Constitution) to accept limited power for the overall good of both states and people, it has become a monster of gargantuan proportions, claiming authority over virtually every liberty and right known to man. And in the process, it decided it didn't need God, either.

It is no hyperbole to say that the U.S. federal government has been on a "Ban God" bandwagon for the past 50 years. Whether it kicks prayer and Bible reading out of school, bars military chaplains from praying in Jesus' name, burns Bibles in Iraq, removes state supreme court chief justices from their positions for posting the Ten Commandments, or threatens high school principals with jail for asking the blessing, the federal government has invoked the judgment of Heaven upon our country as surely as did Old Testament Israel.

Although the comfortable, sports-crazed, TV addicts probably aren't paying attention, this country is on the verge of an implosion like you cannot believe. For anyone who cares to notice, the signs are everywhere.

First of all, Israel and Iran are on the verge of war. And right now, I'm not concentrating on the "why" or "who's right or wrong" of the equation. I'm simply telling you, war between Israel and Iran could break out at any time. And when it does, the chances that it will not become nuclear and not become global are miniscule. Yes, I am saying it: the prospects for nuclear war have never been greater. The CBS-canceled TV show, JERICHO, could become a reality in these United States in the very near future. (I strongly urge readers to purchase both seasons of JERICHO and watch them, because this could be our future.)

Secondly, America is on the verge of total financial collapse. By the end of this year, America's budget deficit will stand at around $2 trillion. The debt gap is many trillions more than that. But the nail in the coffin for America's fiscal health will be the decision by China to dump the U.S. dollar. Ladies and gentlemen, this will be the death knell for our financial stability (and a painful lesson in sowing and reaping).

It is estimated that China owns around one-third of all U.S. debt. If and when China dumps the U.S. dollar, there would be nothing left to stabilize it, and Weimar Republic/Zimbabwe-style inflation will ensue. America will be thrust into financial chaos. (If one doubts that China is planning to dump the dollar, consider that China is currently purchasing and stockpiling gold at an unprecedented level. This is why gold has suddenly surged to over $1,000 per ounce and why it will continue to rise.)

Third, the paranoia regarding the Swine Flu being demonstrated by both government and media spokesmen begs a giant push for some type of "government solution." If they keep hyping this "pandemic," mass hysteria and fear (created by the government and its lackeys in the media) will result. This would, no doubt, necessitate some form of forced vaccination, quarantine (maybe this is what all those internment camps will be used for), and martial law.

Exactly how and when all of the above will actually materialize is yet to be seen. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that within the next few months, the world that we know today is going to vanish. And most Americans are totally unprepared for what's coming.

If you are able to get out of debt, do it. If you need to scale down your lifestyle in order to be better prepared for difficult days, do it. If you don't have guns and ammo, buy them. If you have not prepared some sort of preserved food pantry, do it. If you don't have some kind of survival plan in place for you and your family, get one. If you are not physically fit, get in shape. If you are able to move to a more secure, out-of-harm's-way location, do it. (During any kind of financial or societal meltdown, urban areas will quickly turn into war zones. Can anyone say, "New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina"?) In other words, get your nose out of the boob tube, get your bottom off the easy chair, and get busy.

Am I worried or discouraged? Absolutely not! (But I am preparing.) The potential good that may result from all of the above is that perhaps God will protect and raise up a remnant of people who would be willing to rebuild a place where Natural Law is respected, constitutional government is revered, and where a ubiquitous, loathsome, overbearing federal government is far, far away. You know, like America's Founding Fathers did 233 years ago.

In the meantime, get ready. It's going to be a rocky road.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

War Is Peace

by Tom Engelhardt
Is America Hooked on War?

"War is peace" was one of the memorable slogans on the facade of the Ministry of Truth, Minitrue in "Newspeak," the language invented by George Orwell in 1948 for his dystopian novel 1984. Some 60 years later, a quarter-century after Orwell's imagined future bit the dust, the phrase is, in a number of ways, eerily applicable to the United States.

Last week, for instance, a New York Times front-page story by Eric Schmitt and David Sanger was headlined "Obama Is Facing Doubts in Party on Afghanistan, Troop Buildup at Issue." It offered a modern version of journalistic Newspeak.

"Doubts," of course, imply dissent, and in fact just the week before there had been a major break in Washington's ranks, though not among Democrats. The conservative columnist George Will wrote a piece offering blunt advice to the Obama administration, summed up in its headline: "Time to Get Out of Afghanistan." In our age of political and audience fragmentation and polarization, think of this as the Afghan version of Vietnam's Cronkite moment.

The Times report on those Democratic doubts, on the other hand, represented a more typical Washington moment. Ignored, for instance, was Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's end-of-August call for the president to develop an Afghan withdrawal timetable. The focus of the piece was instead an upcoming speech by Michigan Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. He was, Schmitt and Sanger reported, planning to push back against well-placed leaks (in the Times, among other places) indicating that war commander General Stanley McChrystal was urging the president to commit 15,000 to 45,000 more American troops to the Afghan War.

Here, according to the two reporters, was the gist of Levin's message about what everyone agrees is a "deteriorating" U.S. position: "[H]e was against sending more American combat troops to Afghanistan until the United States speeded up the training and equipping of more Afghan security forces."

Think of this as the line in the sand within the Democratic Party, and be assured that the debates within the halls of power over McChrystal's troop requests and Levin's proposal are likely to be fierce this fall. Thought about for a moment, however, both positions can be summed up with the same word: More.

The essence of this "debate" comes down to: More of them versus more of us (and keep in mind that more of them -- an expanded training program for the Afghan National Army -- actually means more of "us" in the form of extra trainers and advisors). In other words, however contentious the disputes in Washington, however dismally the public now views the war, however much the president's war coalition might threaten to crack open, the only choices will be between more and more.

No alternatives are likely to get a real hearing. Few alternative policy proposals even exist because alternatives that don't fit with "more" have ceased to be part of Washington's war culture. No serious thought, effort, or investment goes into them. Clearly referring to Will's column, one of the unnamed "senior officials" who swarm through our major newspapers made the administration's position clear, saying sardonically, according to the Washington Post, "I don't anticipate that the briefing books for the [administration] principals on these debates over the next weeks and months will be filled with submissions from opinion columnists... I do anticipate they will be filled with vigorous discussion... of how successful we've been to date."

State of War

Because the United States does not look like a militarized country, it's hard for Americans to grasp that Washington is a war capital, that the United States is a war state, that it garrisons much of the planet, and that the norm for us is to be at war somewhere at any moment. Similarly, we've become used to the idea that, when various forms of force (or threats of force) don't work, our response, as in Afghanistan, is to recalibrate and apply some alternate version of the same under a new or rebranded name -- the hot one now being "counterinsurgency" or COIN -- in a marginally different manner. When it comes to war, as well as preparations for war, more is now generally the order of the day.

This wasn't always the case. The early Republic that the most hawkish conservatives love to cite was a land whose leaders looked with suspicion on the very idea of a standing army. They would have viewed our hundreds of global garrisons, our vast network of spies, agents, Special Forces teams, surveillance operatives, interrogators, rent-a-guns, and mercenary corporations, as well as our staggering Pentagon budget and the constant future-war gaming and planning that accompanies it, with genuine horror.

The question is: What kind of country do we actually live in when the so-called U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) lists 16 intelligence services ranging from Air Force Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency to the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Security Agency? What could "intelligence" mean once spread over 16 sizeable, bureaucratic, often competing outfits with a cumulative 2009 budget estimated at more than $55 billion (a startling percentage of which is controlled by the Pentagon)? What exactly is so intelligent about all that? And why does no one think it even mildly strange or in any way out of the ordinary?

What does it mean when the most military-obsessed administration in our history, which, year after year, submitted ever more bloated Pentagon budgets to Congress, is succeeded by one headed by a president who ran, at least partially, on an antiwar platform, and who has now submitted an even larger Pentagon budget? What does this tell you about Washington and about the viability of non-militarized alternatives to the path George W. Bush took? What does it mean when the new administration, surveying nearly eight years and two wars' worth of disasters, decides to expand the U.S. Armed Forces rather than shrink the U.S. global mission?

What kind of a world do we inhabit when, with an official unemployment rate of 9.7% and an underemployment rate of 16.8%, the American taxpayer is financing the building of a three-story, exceedingly permanent-looking $17 million troop barracks at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan? This, in turn, is part of a taxpayer-funded $220 million upgrade of the base that includes new "water treatment plants, headquarters buildings, fuel farms, and power generating plants." And what about the U.S. air base built at Balad, north of Baghdad, that now has 15 bus routes, two fire stations, two water treatment plants, two sewage treatment plants, two power plants, a water bottling plant, and the requisite set of fast-food outlets, PXes, and so on, as well as air traffic levels sometimes compared to those at Chicago's O'Hare International?

What kind of American world are we living in when a plan to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq involves the removal of more than 1.5 million pieces of equipment? Or in which the possibility of withdrawal leads the Pentagon to issue nearly billion-dollar contracts (new ones!) to increase the number of private security contractors in that country?

What do you make of a world in which the U.S. has robot assassins in the skies over its war zones, 24/7, and the "pilots" who control them from thousands of miles away are ready on a moment's notice to launch missiles -- "Hellfire" missiles at that -- into Pashtun peasant villages in the wild, mountainous borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan? What does it mean when American pilots can be at war "in" Afghanistan, 9 to 5, by remote control, while their bodies remain at a base outside Las Vegas and then can head home past a sign that warns them to drive carefully because this is "the most dangerous part of your day"?

What does it mean when, for our security and future safety, the Pentagon funds the wildest ideas imaginable for developing high-tech weapons systems, many of which sound as if they came straight out of the pages of sci-fi novels? Take, for example, Boeing's advanced coordinated system of hand-held drones, robots, sensors, and other battlefield surveillance equipment slated for seven Army brigades within the next two years at a cost of $2 billion and for the full Army by 2025; or the Next Generation Bomber, an advanced "platform" slated for 2018; or a truly futuristic bomber, "a suborbital semi-spacecraft able to move at hypersonic speed along the edge of the atmosphere," for 2035? What does it mean about our world when those people in our government peering deepest into a blue-skies future are planning ways to send armed "platforms" up into those skies and kill more than a quarter century from now?

And do you ever wonder about this: If such weaponry is being endlessly developed for our safety and security, and that of our children and grandchildren, why is it that one of our most successful businesses involves the sale of the same weaponry to other countries? Few Americans are comfortable thinking about this, which may explain why global-arms-trade pieces don't tend to make it onto the front pages of our newspapers. Recently, the Times Pentagon correspondent Thom Shanker, for instance, wrote a piece on the subject which appeared inside the paper on a quiet Labor Day. "Despite Slump, U.S. Role as Top Arms Supplier Grows" was the headline. Perhaps Shanker, too, felt uncomfortable with his subject, because he included the following generic description: "In the highly competitive global arms market, nations vie for both profit and political influence through weapons sales, in particular to developing nations..." The figures he cited from a new congressional study of that "highly competitive" market told a different story: The U.S., with $37.8 billion in arms sales (up $12.4 billion from 2007), controlled 68.4% of the global arms market in 2008. Highly competitively speaking, Italy came "a distant second" with $3.7 billion. In sales to "developing nations," the U.S. inked $29.6 billion in weapons agreements or 70.1% of the market. Russia was a vanishingly distant second at $3.3 billion or 7.8% of the market. In other words, with 70% of the market, the U.S. actually has what, in any other field, would qualify as a monopoly position -- in this case, in things that go boom in the night. With the American car industry in a ditch, it seems that this (along with Hollywood films that go boom in the night) is what we now do best, as befits a war, if not warrior, state. Is that an American accomplishment you're comfortable with?

On the day I'm writing this piece, "Names of the Dead," a feature which appears almost daily in my hometown newspaper, records the death of an Army private from DeKalb, Illinois, in Afghanistan. Among the spare facts offered: he was 20 years old, which means he was probably born not long before the First Gulf War was launched in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. If you include that war, which never really ended -- low-level U.S. military actions against Saddam Hussein's regime continued until the invasion of 2003 -- as well as U.S. actions in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia, not to speak of the steady warfare underway since November 2001, in his short life, there was hardly a moment in which the U.S. wasn't engaged in military operations somewhere on the planet (invariably thousands of miles from home). If that private left a one-year-old baby behind in the States, and you believe the statements of various military officials, that child could pass her tenth birthday before the war in which her father died comes to an end. Given the record of these last years, and the present military talk about being better prepared for "the next war," she could reach 2025, the age when she, too, might join the military without ever spending a warless day. Is that the future you had in mind?

Consider this: War is now the American way, even if peace is what most Americans experience while their proxies fight in distant lands. Any serious alternative to war, which means our "security," is increasingly inconceivable. In Orwellian terms then, war is indeed peace in the United States and peace, war.

American Newspeak

Newspeak, as Orwell imagined it, was an ever more constricted form of English that would, sooner or later, make "all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended," he wrote in an appendix to his novel, "that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought... should be literally unthinkable."

When it comes to war (and peace), we live in a world of American Newspeak in which alternatives to a state of war are not only ever more unacceptable, but ever harder to imagine. If war is now our permanent situation, in good Orwellian fashion it has also been sundered from a set of words that once accompanied it.

It lacks, for instance, "victory." After all, when was the last time the U.S. actually won a war (unless you include our "victories" over small countries incapable of defending themselves like the tiny Caribbean Island of Grenada in 1983 or powerless Panama in 1989)? The smashing "victory" over Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War only led to a stop-and-start conflict now almost two decades old that has proved a catastrophe. Keep heading backward through the Vietnam and Korean Wars and the last time the U.S. military was truly victorious was in 1945.

But achieving victory no longer seems to matter. War American-style is now conceptually unending, as are preparations for it. When George W. Bush proclaimed a Global War on Terror (aka World War IV), conceived as a "generational struggle" like the Cold War, he caught a certain American reality. In a sense, the ongoing war system can't absorb victory. Any such endpoint might indeed prove to be a kind of defeat.

No longer has war anything to do with the taking of territory either, or even with direct conquest. War is increasingly a state of being, not a process with a beginning, an end, and an actual geography.

Similarly drained of its traditional meaning has been the word "security" -- though it has moved from a state of being (secure) to an eternal, immensely profitable process whose endpoint is unachievable. If we ever decided we were either secure enough, or more willing to live without the unreachable idea of total security, the American way of war and the national security state would lose much of their meaning. In other words, in our world, security is insecurity.

As for "peace," war's companion and theoretical opposite, though still used in official speeches, it, too, has been emptied of meaning and all but discredited. Appropriately enough, diplomacy, that part of government which classically would have been associated with peace, or at least with the pursuit of the goals of war by other means, has been dwarfed by, subordinated to, or even subsumed by the Pentagon. In recent years, the U.S. military with its vast funds has taken over, or encroached upon, a range of activities that once would have been left to an underfunded State Department, especially humanitarian aid operations, foreign aid, and what's now called nation-building. (On this subject, check out Stephen Glain's recent essay, "The American Leviathan" in the Nation magazine.)

Diplomacy itself has been militarized and, like our country, is now hidden behind massive fortifications, and has been placed under Lord-of-the-Flies-style guard. The State Department's embassies are now bunkers and military-style headquarters for the prosecution of war policies; its officials, when enough of them can be found, are now sent out into the provinces in war zones to do "civilian" things.

And peace itself? Simply put, there's no money in it. Of the nearly trillion dollars the U.S. invests in war and war-related activities, nothing goes to peace. No money, no effort, no thought. The very idea that there might be peaceful alternatives to endless war is so discredited that it's left to utopians, bleeding hearts, and feathered doves. As in Orwell's Newspeak, while "peace" remains with us, it's largely been shorn of its possibilities. No longer the opposite of war, it's just a rhetorical flourish embedded, like one of our reporters, in Warspeak.

What a world might be like in which we began not just to withdraw our troops from one war to fight another, but to seriously scale down the American global mission, close those hundreds of bases -- recently, there were almost 300 of them, macro to micro, in Iraq alone -- and bring our military home is beyond imagining. To discuss such obviously absurd possibilities makes you an apostate to America's true religion and addiction, which is force. However much it might seem that most of us are peaceably watching our TV sets or computer screens or iPhones, we Americans are also -- always -- marching as to war. We may not all bother to attend the church of our new religion, but we all tithe. We all partake. In this sense, we live peaceably in a state of war.

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Treasury Department Releases Documents Showing Cap-and-Trade Costs Could Hit $300 Billion Annually

by Watts Up With That?

This passage from page 7 “justifying” the tax is telling:

“Domestic policies to address climate change and the related issues of energy security and affordability will involve significant costs and potential revenues, possibly np to several percentage points of annual GDP (Le, eqnal in size to the corporate income tax), Creation of a domestic cap and trade system would require management and oversight consistent with, if not stronger, than existing markets for commodities and government securities…”

From a CEI press release Kudos to Chris Horner for making the FOI request.

by Christine Hall CEI
September 18, 2009

Global Warming Cap-and-Trade Costs Could Hit $300 Billion Annually, Cost Up to Several GDP Points, US Treasury Admits

Treasury Dept Releases Un-redacted Documents Friday Afternoon

Washington, D.C., September 18, 2009―Global warming cap and trade costs could hit $300 billion annually, the Treasury Department admitted in documents released today – late in the afternoon and on the day of the Jewish New Year celebration. The same documents had been released by Treasury earlier this week but had important parts redacted. Now, the document is available in its entirety for public scrutiny.

The new information reveals that Treasury estimates that not only could cap and trade cost $300 billion annually, “domestic policies to address climate change and the related issues of energy security and affordability will involve significant costs and potential revenues, possibly up to several percentage points of annual GDP (i.e. equal in size to the corporate income tax).”

The documents were obtained by CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner through a Freedom of Information Act request and revealed in a Friday afternoon release after public attention to an earlier version raised questions of what the administration was hiding.

“Today’s release explains why the administration initially sought to keep its internal aspirations and expectations from the public: The cost of a cap-and-trade plan to businesses and consumers will be enormous,” said Horner. “This candid perspective of what could prove to be the biggest tax increase in our nation’s history now must be openly debated before the American public”.

A cap-and-trade plan, as called for by President Obama, would either immediately sell all carbon dioxide emission permits or sell nearly all after a few years of giving industry most of its permits for free.

View the Treasury Department documents (PDF)

Page 4 has the relevant number.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

UN body urges Israel to allow nuclear inspection

by Reuters
It's only fair, Israel. If you're going to demand all of these inspections and sanctions on Iran for nukes, you'd better pony up too.

Arab states in the United Nations nuclear assembly on Friday won narrow approval of a resolution urging Israel to put all its atomic sites under the world body's inspection and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Israel deplored the measure for singling it out while many of its neighbors remained hostile to its existence, and said it would not cooperate with it.

The non-binding resolution, which passed for the first time in 18 years of attempts thanks to more developing nation votes, voiced concern about "Israeli nuclear capabilities" and urged the International Atomic Energy Agency to tackle the issue.

Israel is one of only three countries worldwide along with India and Pakistan outside the nuclear NPT and is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, though it has never confirmed or denied this.

Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh, whose country's disputed nuclear program is under IAEA investigation, told reporters Friday's vote was a "glorious moment" and "a triumph for the oppressed nation of Palestine".

UN Security Council members Russia and China also backed the resolution, which passed by 49 votes to 45 against in a floor vote at the IAEA's annual member states conference.

The vote split along Western and developing nation lines. There were 16 abstentions.

"Israel will not cooperate in any matter with this resolution which is only aiming at reinforcing political hostilities and lines of division in the Middle East region," chief Israeli delegate David Danieli told the chamber.

Western states said it was unfair and counterproductive to isolate one member state. They said an IAEA resolution passed on Thursday, urging all Middle East nations to foreswear atomic bombs, included Israel and made Friday's proposal unnecessary.

Arab nations said Israel had brought the resolution on itself by having never signed the 40-year-old NPT.

Before the vote, U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies said the resolution was "redundant ... Such an approach is highly politicized and does not address the complexities at play regarding crucial nuclear-related issues in the Middle East."

Calling the resolution "unbalanced", Canada tried to block a vote on the floor with a "no-action motion". But the procedural maneuver lost by an eight-vote margin. The same motion prevailed in 2007 and 2008.

A senior diplomat from the non-aligned movement of developing nations said times had changed.

"People and countries are bolder now, willing to call a spade a spade. You cannot hide or ignore the truth, the double standards, of Israel's nuclear capability forever," he said.

"The new U.S. [Obama] administration has certainly helped this thinking with its commitment to universal nuclear disarmament and nuclear weapons-free zones," they said.

The measure was last voted on in 1991 when it passed by 39-31 with 13 abstentions when IAEA membership was much smaller.

Since then there have only been official summaries of debate on this item or successful motions for adjournment or no action.

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Is Anyone Minding the Store at the Federal Reserve?

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Operation Northwoods and the 9/11 Truthers

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Writing about the recent resignation of Van Jones, President Obama’s appointee to be green-jobs czar, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer says good riddance.

What set Krauthammer off was not that Jones had once used profanity to describe Republicans or even that he might have been a self-proclaimed communist. What made Krauthammer angry and outraged was that Jones had had the audacity to suggest that the federal government might have had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks and knowingly let the attacks go forward.

There could be two possible reasons for Krauthammer’s reaction to those people in the so-called 9/11 Truth movement, people who believe either that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job masterminded by U.S. officials or that federal officials knew that such attacks were going to take place and did nothing to prevent them.

One possible reason for Krauthammer’s reaction is that he simply isn’t convinced by the evidence that the Truthers have produced to make their case.

Personally, this is the category I fall into. I have no doubts that the 9/11 attacks were no different in principle from the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center: that is, that the attacks were motivated by deep anger and hatred arising from the bad things that the U.S. government has done (and continues to do) to people in the Middle East. Or to use the term that Chalmers Johnson used in his book that makes the same contention, the 9/11 attacks were “blowback” from U.S. foreign policy. The 9/11 Truthers have not convinced me otherwise.

My hunch, however, is that that’s not the reason for Krauthammer’s reaction to the 9/11 Truth movement. My hunch is that he falls within the other possible reason – that it is simply inconceivable that federal officials would ever do such a dastardly thing.

Here’s what Krauthammer says: “Unlike the other stuff (see above), this is no trivial matter. It’s beyond radicalism, beyond partisanship. It takes us into the realm of political psychosis, a malignant paranoia that, unlike the Marxist posturing, is not amusing. It’s dangerous.”

Unfortunately, however, in his article Krauthammer failed to address what is a very discomforting fact, one that unequivocally confirms that U.S. officials are indeed capable of committing such a dastardly act. I’m referring, of course, to Operation Northwoods, the plan conceived in 1962 by a unanimous Joint Chiefs of Staff to implement fake hijackings and fake terrorist attacks, with the objective of serving as a pretext for a U.S. military invasion of Cuba.

Here’s what author James Bamford stated about Operation Northwoods in his book Body of Secrets:

Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.

Now, there’s always the possibility that Krauthammer has never heard of Operation Northwoods. But really, how likely is that? He’s a well-educated and well-read man who serves as a regular columnist for one of the most prominent newspapers in the world.

So, why wouldn’t Krauthammer address the Operation Northwoods problem in the context of his outrage over people in the 9/11 Truth movement?

My hunch is that the problem is psychological. Operation Northwoods is a reality that conflicts with Krauthammer’s innocent but false reality about the federal government. Therefore, he simply chooses, consciously or subconsciously, to ignore the Northwoods reality in order to maintain his own naïve and false reality about how the federal government operates.

How about it, Krauthammer? How about explaining your shock and outrage about the 9/11 Truthers to the Washington Post’s readers in the context of a discussion about Operation Northwoods? I’m sure lots of people (including me) – would love to read your explanation.

Fortunately, President Kennedy, to whom the Pentagon proposed Operation Northwoods, rejected it.

Ever since then, has the Pentagon denounced, apologized, or expressed any remorse or embarrassment for Operation Northwoods?

No, not in the least!

Thus, while the case made by the 9/11 Truthers might fail for lack of evidence, given Operation Northwoods how can anyone, especially the Pentagon, be surprised that there are people willing to believe that the federal government is capable of such things? Doesn’t the Pentagon bear some responsibility here?

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

UCS Study Says Genetically Modified Crops Have Failure to Yield

by Aaron Turpen, Natural News

A 43-page study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reveals that since the inception of genetically modified (GM or GMO) crops, no significant increases in crop yields can be attributed to them. This is directly contrary to what Monsanto and other seed-makers have often pointed out in their own research and the UCS study answers why that is. The study, titled Failure to Yield, is available online, free of charge1.

While crop yields overall have increased substantially, including in corn and soybean crops--both of which have a significant percentage of share in GMO--these increases have not been directly related to the use of genetic modifications. Instead, they are due to several changes in farming practices, agriculture in general, and the overall trend towards higher yields in all of food production.

The study, led by Doug Gurian-Sherman, a lead scientist in UCS Food and Environment Program, is a compilation of published, peer-reviewed, and scientifically-accepted studies done since the early 1990s. These studies looked at crop production, various attributes of different crops, how environment and other factors affected yields, and so forth. According to UCS, overall these studies have shown that the yield increases often attributed to genetic modifications are often not because of the GMs at all, but due to other factors.

The UCS study shows that genetically engineered corn varieties have only increased crop yields marginally while engineered soybean varieties haven't increased yields at all.

In fact, says UCS, the substantial increases in crop yields over the past decade or so have largely been due to traditional breeding and improvements in agricultural practices.

The only gains apparent in the knowledge gained by GM practices are in the understanding of the plants' genomes themselves. Many breeding practices could benefit, says the study, by utilizing the knowledge gained about plant genomes and how these genes can be marked and targeted in breeding practices.

In other words, traditional plant breeding could lead to better hybrid varieties with less worrisome outcomes as compared to direct genetic modification (gene splicing and manipulation) by using the knowledge of plant DNA to breed, not engineer, better plants.

Further, states UCS, the needed increase in crop yields to keep up with human population requirements is in precisely the areas where genetically modified crops are generally unavailable due to cost constraints and largely primitive agricultural methods. In Africa, for instance, the food needs of the population would be better-served by providing education and resources for better agricultural practice than would be seen by introducing genetically modified, non-indigenous crops.

In fact, the study goes so far as to recommend that the U.S. Department of Agriculture remove funding from GMO studies and redirect it to other, more beneficial uses and programs.

Several other factors outside of the study have created more hot-button questions about how the proliferation of GM crops have affected us and our health.

Read the rest at this link.

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The Income Tax Really Is Evil

J. Bracken Lee

[Published as the foreword to Frank Chodorov's The Income Tax: Root of all Evil (1954)]

This was, to be sure, "the home of the free and the land of the brave." Americans were free simply because the government was too weak to intervene in the private affairs of the people — it did not have the money to do so — and they were brave because a free people is always venturesome. The obligation of freedom is a willingness to stand on your own feet.

The early American wanted it that way. He was wary of government, especially one that was out of his reach. He had just rid himself of a faraway and self-sufficient political establishment and he was not going to tolerate anything like it in his newly founded country. He recognized the need of some sort of government, to keep order, to protect him in the exercise of his rights, and to look after his interests in foreign lands. But he wanted it understood that the powers of that government would be clearly defined and be limited; it could not go beyond specified limits. It was in recognition of this fear of centralized power that the Founding Fathers put into the Constitution — it never would have been ratified without them — very specific restraints on the federal government.

In other matters, the early American was willing to put his faith in home government, in a government of neighbors, in a government that one could keep one's eyes on and, if necessary, lay one's hands on. For that reason, the United States was founded as a Union of separate and autonomous commonwealths. The states could go in for any political experiments the folks might want to try out — even socialism, for that matter — but the federal government had no such leeway. After all, there were other states nearby, and if a citizen did not like the way one state government was managing its affairs, he could move across the border; that threat of competition would keep each state from going too far in making changes or in intervening in the lives of the citizens.

The Constitution, then, kept the federal government off balance and weak. And a weak government is the corollary of a strong people.

The Sixteenth Amendment changed all that. In the first place, by enabling the federal government to put its hands into the pockets and pay envelopes of the people, it drew their allegiance away from their local governments. It made them citizens of the United States rather than of their respective states. Theft loyalty followed theft money, which was now taken from them not by their local representatives, over whom they had some control, but by the representatives of the other forty-seven states. They became subject to the will of the central government, and their state of subjection was emphasized by every increase in the income tax levies.

The state governments likewise lost more and more of their autonomy. Not only was their source of revenue being dried up by federal preemption, so that they had less and less for the social services a government should provide, but they were compelled in their extremity to apply to the central authorities for help. In so doing they necessarily gave up some of their independence. They found it difficult to stand up to the institution from which they had to beg grants-in-aid. Furthermore, the federal government was in position to demand subservience from the state governments as a condition for subventions. It has now become politically wise for governors, legislators, and congressmen to "play ball" with the central government; they have been reduced to being procurement officers for the citizens who elect them. The economic power which the federal government secured by the Sixteenth Amendment enabled it to bribe the state governments, as well as the citizens, into submission to its will.

In that way, the whole spirit of the Union and of its Constitution has been liquidated. Income taxation has made of the United States as completely centralized a nation as any that went before it; the very kind of establishment the Founding Fathers abhorred was set up by this simple change in the tax laws. This is no longer the "home of the free," and what bravery remains is traceable to a tradition that is fast losing ground.

For those of us who still believe that freedom is best, the way is clear: we must concentrate on the correction of the mistake of 1913. The Sixteenth Amendment must be repealed. Nothing less will do. For it is only because it has this enormous revenue that the federal government is able to institute procedures that violate the individual's right to himself and his property; enforcement agencies must be paid. With the repeal of the amendment, the socialistic measures visited upon us these past thirty years will vanish.

$20 $15

The purchase of elections with federal money will no longer be possible. And the power and dignity of the home governments will be restored.

This measure should be supported by the governors and legislators of all the states. Every state in the Union now contributes in income taxes to the federal government more than it gets back in grants-in-aid; this is inevitable, because the cost of maintaining the huge federal machinery must come out of the taxes before the citizen can get anything. With the abolition of income taxation the states will be better able to serve its citizens, and because the state governments are closer and more responsive to the will of the people, there is greater chance that the citizens will get their full dollar's worth in services.

However, the principal argument for the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment is that only in that way can freedom from an interventionist government be restored to the American people.

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