The Militant Libertarian

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

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama Every Bit as Bad as Bush/Cheney on Patriot Act

by Nat Hentoff, CATO

While battling the FBI's expanded surveillance guidelines, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., also revealed (Daily Kos, Oct. 8) that in the Senate Judiciary Committee review of the Patriot Act (also Oct. 8), Republicans protecting the Act were joined, in a closed-door classified session, by Obama officials with amendments further preserving it. Then, in a public session, all but three Democrats voted for a watered-down "compromise" bill by Patrick Leahy and Diane Feinstein.

Feingold, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and new Democrat Arlen Specter (Pa.) had the constitutional courage to oppose the Judiciary Committee bill eventually going to the floor that with few exceptions, leaves the Patriot Act intact. I'll be reporting on the crucial fight to bring the Bill of Rights back into the Patriot Act as Senate and House versions merge into a law to be signed by Obama as he continues the Bush-Cheney legacy.

It was Feingold who, in October 2001, was the only member of the Senate to vote against the original Patriot Act as, on the floor, he accurately predicted our greatly weakened privacy, due process and other rights since then.

He is not giving up. "In the end," Feingold says. "Democrats have to decide if they are going to stand up for the rights of the American people" or (for recent example) "allow the FBI to write our laws."

As I have reported, the FBI is already writing our laws -- without going to any judge. How much have you seen about the FBI's locking up of the Fourth Amendment on cable and broadcast television (from the right- or the left-leaning stations) in newspapers, on the Internet or, of course, from the Democratic Congressional leadership, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, characteristically indifferent to the Bush-Cheney-Obama assaults on the Bill of Rights?

As James Madison warned, "A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."

When were the first FBI guidelines on domestic surveillance and why? In the 1970s, Sen. Frank Church of Idaho, chairman of a Senate Committee on Intelligence Activities, exposed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's COINTELPRO (Counter-intelligence Program) as an omnivorous surveillance operation that aimed squarely at preventing Americans "exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association."

If Big Brother is always watching you, you become careful of what you say and with whom you associate.

The Church committee's revelations resulted in the then-attorney general, Edward Levi (a former professor of constitutional law), and Congressman Don Edwards formulating the first FBI guidelines specifically faithful to the Constitution.

When I was reporting on Edwards' congressional service (1962 to 1995), I often described him as the "The Congressman from the Constitution." As chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, Edwards, a former FBI agent, set standards for congressional oversight of the FBI.

Under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, these standards have become obsolete.

I commend to every member of Congress and their constituents what Edwards said in 1975 about the Church committee's newly disclosed unbounded, warrantless standards of FBI surveillance of Americans who might "threaten" national security. And compare the Don Edwards' definition of fundamental American civil liberties with those of present Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller -- and their astonishingly permissive standards of FBI accountability.

"No federal agency," said Congressman Edwards, "the CIA, the IRS, or the FBI, can be at the same time policeman, prosecutor, judge and jury. That is what constitutionally guaranteed due process is all about. It may sometimes be disorderly and unsatisfactory to some, but it is the essence of freedom."

The Constitution, Edwards continued, does not permit "federal interference" with Americans' speech or associations, and other such citizen constitutional rights, "except through the criminal justice system, armed with its ancient safeguards." Like mandated judicial supervision -- absent from current Obama administration FBI surveillance guidelines.

Edwards regarded as "subversive" the "notion that any public official -- the president or a policeman -- possesses a kind of inherent power to set aside the Constitution whenever he thinks the public interest, or 'national security' warrants it."

Don Edwards represented the Constitution we are losing.

On Aug. 10, 2002, in Washington, Don Edwards received the American Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Award for his "unswerving devotion to the Constitution and its values throughout his career."

How many present members of Congress do you believe qualify for that award? Any of the Senate or House members representing you? Unhesitatingly, I nominate Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.

It was in 2002 that I asked Don Edwards what he thought of the then Bush-Cheney definition of the Bill of Rights. "Locking people up," he began, "citizens or noncitizens, without being charged and without access to a lawyer is wrong." But our Nobel Prize-winning President Obama is seriously considering "permanent detention" of terrorism suspects who cannot be tried in court because of the tortures they have undergone under American custody. This same president does not object to the current warrantless FBI surveillance of Americans without evidence, for reasons of "national security." Would you give Obama a Liberty Medal?

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The Food-Pharma-Government Coalition Brings Fear Mongering and Death

by Aaron Turpen

(NaturalNews) In the United States, one of our favorite slogans comes from our national anthem: "The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave." Most Americans don't seem to realize that this statement is no longer relevant to our nation and its people. We have become the land of the diseased and the home of the wholly owned subsidiary.

Through control of the government, gained by usurping the People, large corporations have used the power of the regulatory to control who can and who cannot compete and profit in their markets. Big Agriculture and their industrialized minions have completely taken over the United States Department of Agriculture, the Congress, and the Food and Drug Administration and awarded themselves billions in subsidies for their efforts.

Every year, these corporate giants of agriculture reap rewards in the form of government (taxpayer) largesse, which they use to artificially lower food prices and edge out the little man who might compete. When a new trend, such as organic foods, emerges as a consumer preference in the marketplace, they move quickly to gain control of what is and isn't allowed to be labeled, working the rules to their favor, and to profit even more.

Pharmaceuticals play a similar game, controlling the FDA - the very agency meant to regulate them - and thus pushing any alternatives out of the market. Despite whatever a Doctor or health expert might say about a product, if it's not approved by the FDA (and thus Big Pharma), it's not allowed to say anything relating to its benefits beyond the overly-general.

Through these tactics, both the Big Ag and Big Pharma cartels have managed to not only gain near-total control of the food and drug markets in the United States, but they've managed to generally give their competition (the alternatives) a bad name in the process by wreaking total ruination on the terms that used to mean "good" and "healthy."

No longer is "organic" anything more than a marketing buzz word with little or no meaning. "Alternative medicine" now virtually means "quackery" to most people.

Big Pharma Owns Medicine
In his documentary film Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease and Pushing Drugs, Ronit Ridberg1 manages to outline how the pharmaceutical companies have accomplished their iron fisted control of the American health care industry.

In this film, you see how total control of the industry, whose goal is supposedly to put patient care and your health needs above all else, is primarily controlled, instead, by pharmaceutical profits. What's more, the pharmaceutical companies promote propaganda that's so effective that Goebbels himself would be impressed - from virtually unheard-of diseases made mainstream (ala "Restless Leg Syndrome") to diseases whose definitions are so vague that they could include nearly anyone (the "disorders").

By controlling patent law and what can and can't be labeled as a "medicine," the pharmaceutical giants own the market. Then you look at who "regulates" them and you see the rest of the picture. The FDA is made up of two basic arms: scientific and managerial. The management arm ultimately makes the decisions and thus national policies on the drugs allowed to be sold on the market. Time and time again, management routinely ignores the science and sides with the pharmaceutical company.

The Vioxx scandal was a glaring example of this in action. Even after Merck, the makers of Vioxx, pulled it from shelves as being dangerously deadly, the FDA stood behind the drug anyway, even claiming before Congress that it was "safe."2, 3

Big Agra Rules Your Dinner Plate
The giant agricultural conglomerates and their regulatory arms (the USDA and the FDA) are no better off. Currently, in the U.S., genetically modified seed crops make up 91% of our soybean crops and 68% of corn.4 That's just two crops. They're working on sugar beets, wheat, and others now as well.

That is just one facet of the game. Working the other end of the stick, the big agricultural conglomerates have managed to reap up to $9 billion per year in corn subsidies.5 Then comes the corn as fuel subsidies, or corn ethanol payoffs from our tax dollars. This amounts to another $1.3 billion (in 2007) on top of the other subsidies the agricultural giants already receive.6

These subsidies don't go to the happy family farm with a couple of milk cows out to pasture, a few crops on a hundred acres, and mom and pop working together with their teenaged son to grow healthy food. The tens and even hundred of billions in total farm bill subsidies the government throws around every year largely go to the single-crop, big agricultural conglomerates rather than to Farmer Dan and his family.

Those farmers who use traditional methods (aka "organic" or "sustainable" methods) versus the new, industrialized way of using synthetic fertilizers cannot sell their produce as "organic" or with "organic" on the label without submitting to heavy regulatory requirements and filings with the FDA.7 Yep, it's illegal to use a word to describe your product without government approval.

These are just a few of the means by which Big Agra controls your food. You are fed corn syrup from genetically modified corn, sugar from over-processed cane and beets (which could also be GMO), and worse. Your milk, meat, and even your table salt are all controlled and manipulated to profit them and potentially kill you. One needs only to read a few days' worth of headlines here at Natural News to see these concepts in action.

The Final Control
New legislation makes it basically illegal to sell naturally-sourced supplements as anything more than their scientific name and to force small, artisan and local farms and food producers out of business by adding odious requirements to their overhead and costs. These bills are brought before either of the houses of Congress every year - usually more than once per session.

Often, regulatory changes at the FDA and USDA will just slightly alter one thing or another, always to the detriment of small business and natural production.

It's time Americans stopped being the victims and once again become the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Fight back against these infringements on your health. They're working on taking over your well-being at the most fundamental of levels with food and medicine and on controlling what those things are and what you can have access to.

We need to take control back now, before it's too late.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Johnny Gaskins and the End of Law

by William L. Anderson

As the federal government has become more powerful and more invasive, we have seen an explosion of new laws and regulations. Interestingly, as the number of laws increase, we have seen a similar decrease in anything that resembles the rule of law. The successful North Carolina criminal defense attorney Johnny Gaskins has found out the hard way that in the federal system, law has disappeared altogether.

Earlier this month, Gaskins was convicted in a Raleigh federal court for depositing money in a bank and faces prison for the rest of his life as a result. I am not kidding.

The News & Observer presented a misleading headline about the case: Lawyer’s Career Ends in Crime. (Yes, the N&O is the same paper that published the false story which set off the infamous Duke Lacrosse Non-Rape Case almost four years ago.) True, the lawyer’s career is over but, no, he did not commit any crimes, despite what the N&O and a federal jury might be saying.

According to the N&O:

Johnny Gaskins was a keeper of the law who built his career defending those who disregarded it.

But a jury decided Oct. 9 that Gaskins had gone from being an officer of the court to being a criminal.

Gaskins, a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer, was convicted of dividing large sums of money into small deposits so that his bank would not fulfill an Internal Revenue Service requirement to report cash transactions of more than $10,000. The rule is intended to flag large sums of cash that might be tied to illegal activity.

The legal term for this activity is "structuring," and readers might remember that Elliot Spitzer, a.k.a. "Client Number 9," was caught doing something similar (except he was making small withdrawals rather than deposits). However, there is a huge difference between the two acts. Gaskins did not make his deposits in order to cover up any illegal activity, while Spitzer did.

Thus, it seems to be the perfect commentary on federal criminal law that Spitzer never was charged while Gaskins faces more than 30 years in prison. This is a compelling story, and as one who has seen injustice after injustice in the federal system, this perhaps is the worst injustice I ever have seen.

The N&O continues:

Associates of Gaskins said in interviews that many of his fees were paid in cash, often offered by clients who didn't trust banks enough to open checking accounts.

Gaskins kept the money in a safe in his home's upstairs closet. By September 2005, he had amassed more than $200,000 in cash.

That month, Gaskins hired a crew to work at his house. One evening, he noticed a set of muddy footprints on the carpet leading to his safe, even though he had locked his house. Gaskins was sure he would be robbed. He began moving that cash, one chunk at a time, to a personal account at RBC bank, careful to not alert any particular teller about his supply of cash.

"I was concerned about any single bank teller having information that I had so much cash," Gaskins testified during his trial.

Each deposit was just below $10,000, the threshold to report to the IRS so that federal authorities can track cash that might be tied to criminal activity. Purposely structuring cash deposits to cause a bank to evade reporting requirements is against the law.

This law was passed as an "ancillary crime" to give prosecutors leverage in cases where people had amassed huge amounts of cash via drug sales or other illegal activities and were trying to avoid detection as well as avoid paying taxes on their money. However, that clearly was not the case here, as the N&O continues:

Gaskins filed forms to the IRS accounting for more than $450,000 in cash payments, according to evidence at trial. Prosecutors agreed that he had filed and paid his taxes.

He didn't dispute that he intentionally divided his money, but he testified that it was for innocent reasons. His habits, he said, were born of an exposure to a criminal world that most people only see on television dramas.

Prosecutors did not offer evidence of any other motive for Gaskins' behavior. They said at trial that Gaskins should have known better.

"The point of the law is to make sure we don't have people who try to fool the bank," federal prosecutor Randall Galyon told jurors last week. "The fact that he was trying is against the law."

So, we had an attorney who was paid legally in cash, decided he might be robbed, so he deposited the money in a bank. Furthermore, he already had paid taxes on his cash earnings, so it is clear that he had no criminal motives.

Furthermore, I can guarantee the readers that there was a motive that was not mentioned, but well should be: prosecutors would have tried to frame Gaskins had he deposited all of his money at once. That kind of a deposit – which prosecutors insist that he had to make in order to be legal – would have sent alerts to the police and prosecutors, who would have tried to make a drug case against him, claiming he actually had received that money illegally.

The question is this: Why were prosecutors hell-bent on going after him? The answer lies in the success that Gaskins had in his career:

He had received death threats and had been harassed for more than a decade after he persuaded a jury to spare the life of a client convicted of killing a popular Raleigh police detective. Some of Gaskins' clients were robbed and tortured, targeted because they carried large amounts of cash, court filings show.

The N&O continues:

Gaskins was a former agent with the State Bureau of Investigation who built a legal career on a reputation for asking the right questions and paying attention to detail. He won his first jury trial as a third-year law student while attending Campbell University Law School.

Over the years, Gaskins would represent more than 20 clients facing the death penalty, nearly all too poor to afford their own lawyers. In recent years, though, Gaskins carved a niche representing clients in massive federal drug conspiracy cases. His clients stretched across this state and into others.

This was payback, pure and simple. Gaskins had success representing people accused of crimes, and the police and prosecutors paid him back with what only can be a trumped-up charge.

Remember, Gaskins was convicted of depositing money in a bank. He did not evade taxes, he did not gain his cash through illegal means, he just put the money in the bank.

This is the first time I have seen someone convicted in federal court of only an ancillary crime with no underlying accusation to buttress it. Spitzer withdrew small amounts of money in order to evade his lawbreaking. (Even if one believes prostitution should be legal, we should not forget that Spitzer would not have hesitated to charge someone else with the same crime if he had the chance.)

Lest anyone think that the "system works fairly," think again. The federal criminal system works, but it only works for the prosecutors and no one else.

While I am lambasting the prosecution, one also should save at least some venom for the judge and the jurors. If the jurors in this case really believe that depositing one's money into a bank at less than $10K a pop is a crime, then they need to turn in themselves and plead guilty to the same thing.

If Americans really can go to prison for what effectively will be for the rest of their lives simply for depositing money in a bank, then the law is lost. Lost. One cannot rescue this "legal" system, for it is beyond rescue.

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CIA To Monitor Internet Chatter For Anti-Government Sentiment

by Paul Joseph Watson

In the 2005 movie V For Vendetta, a film about a totalitarian society ruled by a fascist government with an iron surveillance fist, there’s a scene where state spooks drive down a residential street with a gadget that records the conversations people are having inside their homes and gives them a rating on how antagonistic towards the authorities they are.

A frighteningly similar scenario is now on the horizon with the news that the CIA’s investment arm In-Q-Tel is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a company that monitors the output of social media, in order to “Read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon,” reports Wired News.

Of course, the fact that the U.S. government and the military have been overloading the Internet with pro-war propaganda and trolls who are paid to cheerlead for the war on terror and attack critics is an admitted part of their cyberwarfare agenda, and Israel has done the same.

However, the prospect of the CIA closely monitoring social networking websites, whose content largely comprises of inane gossip and sophomoric blabber, shows just how afraid the establishment is of rising popular opposition to their agenda.

“Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords,” according to Wired.

The software scores whether each post is positive, neutral or negative on a particular topic and can judge who the most influential poster is in a conversation, for example on a comment board or forum.

According to In-Q-Tel, it wants to use the technology to see how international issues are playing out in foreign media, but as the report notes, “Of course, such a tool can also be pointed inward, at domestic bloggers or tweeters. Visible already keeps tabs on web 2.0 sites for Dell, AT&T and Verizon. For Microsoft, the company is monitoring the buzz on its Windows 7 rollout. For Spam-maker Hormel, Visible is tracking animal-right activists’ online campaigns against the company.”

Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists warns that the software could be used to track and target critics of the government, as well as political figures and journalists.

“Intelligence agencies or employees might be tempted to use the tools at their disposal to compile information on political figures, critics, journalists or others, and to exploit such information for political advantage,” Aftergood told Wired.

Visible chief executive officer Dan Vetras said that the CIA was just one of several government clients that were using the technology and that more were on the horizon.

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The Real Reason for More Troops in Afghanistan

by Michael Gaddy

We can all look back at the wonderful decision that was made to send more troops to Korea. If we had not, we could have been bogged down in a quagmire there that would have required 50 plus years of American lives, involvement and money. What a wonderful decision it was to send more troops to Vietnam. If we had not, we could have lost over 58,000 soldier's lives; killed millions of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians and been forced to flee the country with our tails between our legs, deserting our allies to the horrors of communist retribution. Good thing our wonderful leaders had the wisdom and courage to send "more troops." Now we are forced with the same dilemma; send more troops or face military defeat.

The question is: why are we in Afghanistan in the first place? Now that time has erased the emotions of retaliation for the events of 9/11 and our country elected a new leader who campaigned on the principle of bringing an end to our involvement in these costly wars, why the call for more troops? Could it be we are again simply following the dictates of the power cabal as Major General Smedley Darlington Butler so eloquently outlined in his outstanding work, War is a Racket?

Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of our quest for empire over the past six decades realizes that Obama’s contemplation of whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan is simply those who control him providing Obama with the opportunity to look "presidential." The decision to send additional troops was reached prior to the situational comedy of General McChrystal’s leaked "confidential report" to the Washington Post and Obama’s National Security Advisor’s public admonishment of McChrystal’s failure to follow the chain of command. All of this is nothing but a well-rehearsed, though poorly camouflaged hoax. Additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan within a very short period of time and Obama really has no say in the matter. The question is: why?

Could it be the US-installed puppet government in Afghanistan has new suitors who represent a very real threat to the United State’s control of Afghanistan and her abundant natural resources? Is the entry of Russia and Chinese influence into Afghanistan the real reason for the need for more troops? Russia reportedly made its entry back in 2007 with the reopening of its embassy in Kabul. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Ivanov, met privately with President Karzai and offered military assistance through the Collective Security Treaty Organization. (CSTO) The CSTO is made up of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Russia is the driving force in this organization, as one might understand, due to the economic and military weakness of the other members. There were meetings with CSTO delegation in Kabul and neither the US nor the UK were invited. Were the US/UK coalition (NATO) allowed to solidify its position in Afghanistan, it would create a territorial split between Russia, China and Iran. Russia will do whatever is necessary to prevent this growth of power and influence in the region, I believe.

Moscow is certainly concerned with the Pentagon’s plan to deploy Special Operations forces into the Central Asian States to conduct "foreign internal defense missions." This translates into increasing military activity, which is better known as the "spreading of democracy," by military force.

NATO, following the CFR-introduced agenda, is campaigning for increased cooperation with Moscow in the region to "facilitate the fading of Russia’s lingering imperial ambitions." These are the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski, author of the NATO report. Surely, Putin will see through this smokescreen.

Russia has also cancelled all of Afghanistan’s Soviet-era debts and is moving to help Kabul rebuild the Afghan infrastructure. The increase of trade between Afghanistan and Russia, which was at the $190 million mark in 2008, is also a move to create a vision of Russia as an ally to the people of Afghanistan with the US and NATO appearing as the foreign invader.

What has prompted the governments in Moscow and Beijing to converge with the forces of NATO in Afghanistan? Is it purely a protectionist strategy or are those governments there for the same reason we initiated the war in 2001: an abundance of natural resources?

China has made its moves to secure as many of the natural resources located in Afghanistan as it can. Almost one year ago, in November of 2008, China, acting through the China Metallurgical Group Corporation and the Jiangxi Copper Company, secured the Aynak Copper Mine in Logar Province. This copper mine is reported to be the largest in the world and has been basically inoperative since the Soviet Invasion in 1979. China has agreed to a 2.9-billion dollar investment in the infrastructure of the area including a power plant and possible railroad into Pakistan. If I were an Afghan citizen, whom would I support in my country, a nation that is actually contributing to a better life or one that is indiscriminately bombing my fellow citizens?

Now, when it appears our puppet Karzai may have been influenced by a better offer from Russia, China, or both, the Obama administration, strongly supported by the neocons, is seeking to perhaps replace Karzai with a new election, suddenly proclaiming the election the US just supervised to have been corrupt. Members of both political/criminal parties now openly support the war in Afghanistan as being necessary to our national defense, with the question being, not, do we send more troops to Afghanistan to bleed and die for oil and minerals, but how many? I’m sure our influence in NATO will bring about the necessary conclusions in order to facilitate our attempt to replace our own political puppet. Karzai has obviously jumped the traces of US control by participating in meetings outside of the US political purview with China, Russia and even in this agreement, which included Iran and Pakistan. The construction of this pipeline was due to start last month. Russia and China see this new pipeline as crucial to their retention of power in the region and will make the necessary military movements to insure their investments.

Financially crippled due to our continued wars for empire and the printing of billions of new dollars to repay political cronies in the financial world has left us in a precarious position in Afghanistan. We will try to counter the financial prowess of China, to whom we owe billions and their military ties to Russia with the blood and lives of tens of thousands of new US military forces. When China calls in our financial markers, and they will if challenged, what will become of our country? We are about to escalate a war we cannot win. How long will it be before Americans care more for the lives of their children than they do for the state and refuse to participate in the madness?

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

'Net Neutrality' Is Socialism, Not Freedom

by James G. Lakely

Advocates of imposing "network neutrality" say it's necessary to ensure a "free" and "open" Internet and rescue the public from nefarious corporations that "control" technology.

Few proposals in Washington have been sold employing such deceptive language -- and that's saying something. But few public policy ideas can boast the unashamedly socialist pedigree of net neutrality.

The modern Internet is a creation of the free market, which has brought about a revolution in communication, free speech, education, and commerce. New Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski apparently doesn't like that. He stated last month the way Internet service providers manage their networks -- in response to millions of individual consumer choices -- is not sufficiently "fair," "open" or "free."

The chairman's remedy is to claim for the FCC the power to decide how every bit of data is transferred from the Web to every personal computer and handheld device in the nation. This is exactly what the radical founders of the net neutrality movement had in mind.

The concept can be traced to an iconoclastic figure, Richard Stallman, a self-described software freedom activist who introduced the term "copyleft" in the mid-1980s. In his 2002 essay "Free Software, Free Society," Stallman fiercely attacks the idea that intellectual property rights are one of the keystones of individual liberty, so important that patents and copyrights are affirmatively protected in the body of the Constitution.

According to Stallman, "we are not required to agree with the Constitution or the Supreme Court. [At one time, they both condoned slavery.]" Like slavery, he says, copyright law is "a radical right-wing assumption rather than a traditionally recognized one." Rebuking those who might find a Marxist flavor in his call for a "digital commons," Stallman turns the tables, writing: "If we are to judge views by their resemblance to Russian Communism, it is the software owners who are the Communists."

Eben Moglen's 2003 treatise The dotCommunist Manifesto is more honest about the thinking behind net neutrality -- it's sprinkled throughout with the language of communism's great and bloody revolutionaries. The people must "struggle" to "wrest from the bourgeoisie, by degrees, the shared patrimony of humankind" that has been "stolen from us under the guise of 'intellectual property.' "

How does one bring this about? The professor of law and legal history at Columbia University would start with the "abolition of all forms of private property in ideas."

Most bold and radical of the neutralists is Robert W. McChesney, founder of Free Press -- the leading advocacy group in Washington pushing for net neutrality. In an August interview with a Canadian Marxist online publication called the Bullet, McChesney rejoices that net neutrality can finally bring about the Marxist "revolution."

"At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies," McChesney said. "We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control."

He's right: Net neutrality divests control over the Internet from the private sector to the government. And in typical Marxist fashion, innocuous words -- the language of neutralism and liberty -- cloak an agenda that would crush freedom.
That's the agenda President Obama's FCC is pushing.

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US scientist charged with attempted spying for Israel

the Raw Story

A top American scientist who once worked for the Pentagon and the US space agency NASA was arrested Monday and charged with attempted spying for Israel, the Department of Justice said.

Stewart David Nozette, 52, developed an experiment that fueled the discovery of water on the south pole of the moon, and previously held special security clearance at the Department of Energy on atomic materials, the DOJ said.

He is charged with "attempted espionage for knowingly and willfully attempting to communicate, deliver, and transmit classified information relating to the national defense of the United States to an individual that Nozette believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer," the DOJ said.

Nozette had been dealing with an FBI undercover agent in a sting operation, the department said, adding there was no wrongdoing by Israel.

Nozette, who was arrested in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland and taken into custody, could make his first court appearance Tuesday on the charge, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

"The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious and should serve as a warning to anyone who would consider compromising our nation's secrets for profit," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security.

In addition to stints with NASA and the Department of Energy, Nozette worked at the White House on the National Space Council under then-president George H.W. Bush in 1989 and 1990.

"From 1989 through 2006, Nozette held security clearances as high as top secret and had regular, frequent access to classified information and documents related to the US national defense," the Justice Department said.

In early September, Nozette received a phone call from a person "purporting to be an Israeli intelligence officer, but who was in fact an undercover employee of the FBI," the DOJ said.

"Nozette met with the UCE (undercover employee) that day and discussed his willingness to work for Israeli intelligence," informing the agent that "he had, in the past, held top security clearances and had access to US satellite information."

The scientist offered to "answer questions about this information in exchange for money."

Over the next several weeks, Nozette and the undercover agent exchanged envelopes of money for answers to lists of questions about US satellite technology.

"In addition, Nozette allegedly offered to reveal additional classified information that directly concerned nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, and other major weapons systems," DOJ said.

FBI agents retrieved a manila envelope left by Nozette in a designated location this month that "contained information classified as both top secret and secret that concerned US satellites, early warning systems, means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information, and major elements of defense strategy."

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Iran threatens U.S. and Britain after Guard bombing

by Hashem Kalantari and Hossein Jaseb, Reuters

TEHRAN (Reuters) - The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards vowed on Monday to "retaliate" against the United States and Britain after accusing them and neighboring Pakistan of backing militants who blew up six Guards commanders.

Iranian media say the Sunni Muslim insurgent group Jundollah (God's soldiers) has claimed responsibility for Sunday's bombing in Sistan-Baluchestan province, which killed 42 people in all.

The incident threatened to overshadow talks between Iran and global powers in Vienna on Monday intended to tackle a standoff about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said Iranian security officials had presented documents indicating "direct ties" from Jundollah to U.S., British and, "unfortunately," Pakistani intelligence organizations, the ISNA news agency said.

"Behind this scene are the American and British intelligence apparatus, and there will have to be retaliatory measures to punish them," Jafari was quoted as saying.

Jundollah, which has been blamed for many attacks since 2005 in the desert province bordering Pakistan, says it is fighting to end discrimination against Sunni Muslims by Iran's dominant Shi'ites. Its leader is Abdolmalek Rigi.

Jafari said Rigi and his plans were "undoubtedly under the umbrella and the protection" of U.S., British and Pakistani organizations, though he limited the threat of retaliation to the United States and Britain.


Iranian television quoted General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Guards' ground forces, whose deputy was killed in the bombing, as saying:

"The base of the terrorists and rebels has not been in Iran. They are trained by America and Britain in some of the neighboring countries."

The United States, Pakistan and Britain all condemned the bombing, the bloodiest attack in Iran since the 1980-88 war with Iraq, and denied involvement.

"We reject in the strongest terms any assertion that this attack has anything to do with Britain," said a spokeswoman at Britain's Foreign Office. "Terrorism is abhorrent wherever it occurs."

The bombing of a mosque in Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, reportedly also claimed by Jundollah, killed 25 people in May.

The poor and remote province, mostly populated by Sunni Muslims, borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan and has frequently been the scene of clashes between security forces, ethnic Baluch Sunni insurgents and heavily-armed drug smugglers.

The victims of the bombing in the city of Sarbaz included a number of tribal chiefs who were due to hold a meeting with the Guards to promote Shi'ite-Sunni unity.

Read the rest at this link.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The History of Religion

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The Imperial History of the Middle East

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In a war for democracy, why worry about public opinion?

by Seamas Milne

Whoever is in charge, it seems, the war on terror has truly become a war without end. Eight years after George Bush and Tony Blair launched it, with an attack on Afghanistan under the preposterous title of "operation enduring freedom" and without any explicit UN mandate, Gordon Brown has agreed to send yet more British troops to die for a cause neither they nor the public any longer believe in.

Granted we are only talking about an extra 500 troops on top of the 9,000 already there, and the decision is hedged with qualifications. Brown has nevertheless bowed to pressure from the US administration, the British military establishment and the warmongering wing of the media, anxious to exploit the government's Afghan failures in the runup to the general election.

But if any more proof were needed that foreign wars are not regarded as any business of the voters, this is surely it. Yesterday's batch of polls confirm public opposition to the Afghan imbroglio is becoming ever more entrenched. There has been a 7% increase since last month in support for immediate withdrawal, according to a Populus poll for the Times, with 68% wanting troops out within the year and strongest backing for a pullout among Labour voters.

That is feeding the growing disaffection among serving soldiers towards what many see as a futile sacrifice, supposedly on behalf of a hostile population in Helmand province. The public opposition of Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, scheduled to face a court martial next month after refusing to fight what he regards as an illegal war in Afghanistan, clearly reflects a wider sentiment in the army. Stop the War Coalition activists drumming up support for next week's national demonstration have reported sympathetic approaches from off-duty squaddies and their families across the country. It's the kind of climate that saw parents of soldiers killed in Iraq tell the official inquiry on Tuesday they want to see Blair indicted as a war criminal.

Reports are multiplying of a similar mood among American soldiers in Afghanistan, as US opposition to the war has also hardened. As in Britain, the rampant rigging in August's presidential election was a tipping point: dying for Afghans' right to take part in a fraudulent sham is scarcely the noble cause for which Nato forces were assured they were the standard-bearers.

But the signs are that Barack Obama is once again preparing to send more troops – even if not the 40,000 demanded by his senior commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal. Last week, the US president explicitly ruled out any significant reduction in troop numbers or switch from a "counter-insurgency" to "counter-terrorist" remit (targeting al-Qaida, rather than the Taliban), let alone military withdrawal.

Instead, the hints are of schemes to buy off Taliban footsoldiers in an attempt to repeat the trick that created US-sponsored Sunni militias out of elements of the Iraqi resistance during the 2007 US surge. The Iraq analogy is not a happy one, however. Those Iraqi "awakening councils" are already falling apart, notably in what was supposed to be their showcase of Anbar province, where a string of deadly attacks has taken place in recent days.

Add to that the fact that there is no equivalent Shia or Iranian-style threat to the Taliban in the Pashtun areas where they are strongest, and the new wheeze's potential looks a good deal less impressive. As Gilles Dorronsoro of the Carnegie Institute puts it: "You cannot break an insurgency that strong with money. It's not a mercenary force." In fact, the Taliban now effectively controls up to 70% of the country, according to Pakistan government estimates, its support fuelled by nationalist anger and the thousands of Afghan civilian casualties inflicted by Nato forces.

Meanwhile, years of occupation and intervention in Afghanistan are yielding ever more bitter fruit in Pakistan. The war with the local Taliban is expected to escalate next week into a full-scale US-sponsored assault on South Waziristan, retaliatory attacks are spreading in the cities, US drone attacks have exacted a relentless civilian death toll and two million have already been made homeless by the spillover war.

Yet one after another, the official aims and justifications of the war in Afghanistan have failed or been discredited. It was a war fought to kill or capture Bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, but both are still at large. It was a war fought to destroy al-Qaida, whose leadership simply decamped and set up new bases from Pakistan to Iraq. It was a war for democracy, women's rights, development and opium eradication – all successively demonstrated to be a hollow joke.

Now we are told it is a war to prevent al-Qaida-inspired terrorism on the streets of London, which shamelessly turns reality on its head. There were no such attacks before 2001, and both bombers and intelligence agencies have repeatedly identified the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan as a central motivation for those who try to launch them. Last week, General Richards, new chief of the general staff, conjured up an even more lurid justification: if Nato pulled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban and al-Qaida would seize Pakistan and its nuclear weapons.

The opposite is the case. It is the Afghan war that is destabilising Pakistan and driving the Pashtun rebellion there. The last remaining argument, that withdrawal from Afghanistan would risk "undermining the credibility of Nato" and the "international community", used by Brown last month, is the closest to the truth. In the wake of its strategic defeat in Iraq, it would certainly signal that the US and its allies can no longer impose military solutions on recalcitrant states at will, as they have done since the end of the cold war.

Which is why US, British and other Nato soldiers are likely to go on dying in Afghanistan, along with thousands of mostly unreported Afghans. The alternative is not to "walk away" from the country, as often claimed by supporters of the occupation, but the negotiated withdrawal and political settlement, including the Taliban and regional powers, that will eventually end the war. That's what most Afghans, Britons and Americans want. But political pressure will have to grow stronger – including, grimly, from a rising soldiers' death toll – if it's going to be achieved any time soon.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Patient-Centered Reform

We, the undersigned leaders of state think tanks, believe that expanding the role of government in the health care market is not the change that America needs. Congress should focus on a patient-centered approach to health care reform that respects the patient-doctor relationship and empowers the patient and the doctor to make effective and economical health policy choices.

To read a full report on patient-centered reforms from
economist Art Laffer, click here.

A patient-centered health care reform:

Begins with individual ownership of insurance policies. The tax deduction that allows employers to own your insurance should instead be given to the individual

Leverages Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSAs empower individuals to monitor their health care costs and create incentives for individuals to use only those services that are necessary

Allows interstate purchasing of insurance. Policies in some states are more affordable because they include fewer bells and whistles, and consumers should be empowered to decide which benefits they need and what prices they are willing to pay

Reduces the number of mandated benefits insurers are required to cover. Empowering consumers to choose which benefits they need is only effective if insurers are able to fill these needsReallocates the majority of Medicaid spending into simple vouchers for low-income individuals to purchase their own insurance. An income-based sliding scale voucher program would eliminate much of the massive bureaucracy that is needed to implement today's complex and burdensome Medicaid system and produce considerable cost savings

Eliminates unnecessary scope-of-practice laws and allows non-physician health care professionals practice to the extent of their education and training. Retail clinics have shown that increasing the provider pool safely increases competition and access to care and empowers the patient to decide from whom they receive their care

Reforms tort liability laws. Defensive medicine needlessly drives up medical costs and creates an adversarial relationship between doctors and patients

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'You don't mind breaking the law?'

by Kent McManigal

[Sherlock Holmes, speaking to Dr. Watson]
"By the way, Doctor, I shall want your cooperation."
"I shall be delighted."
"You don't mind breaking the law?"
"Not in the least."
"Nor running a chance of arrest?"
"Not in a good cause."
"Oh, the cause is excellent!"
"Then I am your man."
A Scandal in Bohemia by A. Conan Doyle

I'll admit it: I don't mind breaking the law. Not in the least. I suspect there was a time when "the law" was recognized as an intrusion into "normal" people's lives. It neither adds anything to your life, nor makes things more difficult for the dishonest and aggressive individuals who were its purported targets. It only feeds statism. But, in the beginning the state (by whatever name) was incapable of watching everyone all the time, so "the law" was more of a hypothetical threat rather than a real one. Unless you were very unlucky or very open in your defiance.

Then there came the days of malignant state worship- the 20th century. Governments all over the world grew exponentially and clashed with one another, resulting in hundreds of millions of deaths among the bystanders. People all over the world cheered on their chosen group of governmental thugs with religious intensity and ignorance. Banners flew, anthems rang, and more people died at the altar of the state.

While that era is fading, we in America (and elsewhere) are still dealing with the residual badge-licking, "law abiding citizens" and their freedom-crushing complicity. Their time is running out. They are sealing their own fate with unintended consequences.

One fact that is pushing society closer to the tipping point is that "the law" is reaching the point of absurdity; good people are regularly finding themselves at odds with "laws" with no intention of doing so. When it is impossible for a normal person to go about their day without breaking "laws", it is not a sign that the normal people are "bad"; it is a sign that the state has become a force for evil.

I am an outlaw. I will never be ashamed of breaking the "law", nor will I ever be proud of doing anything wrong.

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All pain, no gain

The reality behind the mythology of Cap and Trade

What is Cap and Trade?

To address concerns that global warming threatens our planet, activists and politicians are pushing for a “cap-and-trade” program that would limit and tax carbon dioxide released by power plants, cars, factories and other facilities. It is a very complicated regulatory scheme that penalizes businesses and people who use energy or electricity generated from oil, gasoline, natural gas and coal (fossil fuels).

Under cap and trade, Congress would place a limit or “cap” on the amount of carbon dioxide that our nation would be allowed to generate as a whole, and that limit would decrease drastically over time. Utilities, companies and business would be issued permits that grant them a certain “allowance,” or permit, saying how much carbon dioxide they can put into the air each year. If they cannot stay within that limit, they will have to switch to renewable energy from wind or solar, find ways to capture the carbon dioxide (CO2) and store it, or buy more “allowances” from companies that don’t need as much energy.

Those who support cap and trade don’t like to call it a tax, especially during a recession. Because taxes are politically unpopular, politicians and activists often refer to cap-and-trade costs as “user fees,” “emission limits,” “permits” and “trading.”

But it definitely is a tax on carbon – and it will hurt poor and middle class families and small businesses the most. In fact, when they’re more honest, some politicians actually admit that cap-and-trade really is a hidden tax that will send energy prices skyrocketing:

“Cap-and-trade is a tax, and it’s going to be a great big one.”

-- Congressman John Dingell (D-MI)

“[It’s] the most significant revenue-generating proposal of our time.”

-- Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)

“Electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” under cap and trade. Industry will have to “retrofit its operations. That will cost money, and they will pass that cost on to consumers.”

-- President Barack Obama

Cap and trade penalizes and taxes everything we heat, cool, drive, make, grow, eat and do – because nothing is possible without energy. Our economy runs on energy, and 85% of the energy America uses is fossil fuels and wood. The price of everything we buy and do will skyrocket.

On top of that, cap and trade is incredibly complex. It will be administered by profit-seeking “carbon management” firms, regulated by thousands of government bureaucrats, and paid by every family, driver, business, school district, hospital, airline and farmer.

A lucky few will get rich. For everyone else, cap and trade will be all pain – for no gain.

The PAIN will be intense and widespread

The House of Representative passed a cap-and-trade bill in July. It requires that carbon dioxide emissions be reduced 83% below 2005 levels by 2050. That would send them back to levels last seen in 1908!

And that’s before accounting for the far smaller number of people living back then and the old-fashioned manufacturing, transportation and electrification systems of a century ago. Once those factors are taken into account, 2050 carbon dioxide emissions would have to equal what the United States emitted just after the Civil War!

Obviously, that means enormous changes in our energy costs, lifestyles and living standards. It means politicians, environmental pressure groups, unelected bureaucrats and judges will get to dictate:

What kind of home you can have, and how warm or cool you can keep it. What kind of light bulbs you can use. What kind of car you can have, and how far you can drive it each year.
How your food can be grown, how products can be manufactured, how far they can be shipped, and by what means. How far you can travel on vacation, and how you can get there.
It could also mean people receive personal “carbon allowances” that limit how much CO2 a person can emit annually and track energy use through credit card and other purchases. To call this a Green Nanny State would not be an exaggeration, with energy rationing and constant intrusion in our lives.

Some INCONVENIENT TRUTHS about alternative energy

Burning coal does create carbon dioxide. But coal generates 60-98% of the electricity in Ohio, Indiana and 18 other states, to support millions of manufacturing jobs. If we impose cap-and-trade policies, electricity rates will skyrocket – and many jobs will migrate to China, India and other countries.

Some say we could easily use more ethanol, wind and solar power, to produce other kinds of energy with less CO2. But relying on ethanol would mean growing corn or switchgrass on farmland the size of Montana, and using vast amounts of water, fertilizer, diesel fuel and natural gas. And when ethanol is burned, it gets less mileage per tank of gasoline, and emits more CO2 per mile than gasoline alone.

Wind and solar power would mean covering millions of acres of scenic habitat and farm land with huge turbines and solar panels. Hundreds of millions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass and “rare earth” minerals would be needed to build them and thousands of miles of new transmission lines to get the expensive renewable electricity to distant cities. One expert calculated that just providing electricity for New York City would require wind turbines covering the entire state of Connecticut! Because the turbines and panels only work 25% of the time, back up natural gas generators would also be needed.

Impacts on JOBS and FAMILIES

Independent experts and even the Treasury Department say cap and trade would destroy over a million jobs over the coming decades … raise energy costs for the average American family by $1,400 to $3,100 per year … and send overall food and living costs upward by $4,600 annually.

Wealthier families can absorb these costs. But cap-and-trade will hit middle class families hard. And “families at the bottom of the economic scale already spend up to half of their incomes on gasoline, heating and cooling,” says Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., a respected pastor who shepherds an inner-city church. They can’t afford any more pain.

Families could be forced to pay for skyrocketing energy and food costs from their college, retirement and vacation budgets. Hospitals and school districts would have to raise fees and taxes, or cut services. Cities and states would have to cover rising welfare and unemployment costs, as tax revenues dwindle. Tourism-based businesses and economies would get hammered, as fewer people could afford to travel.

Clearly, the threat is not from global warming. It is from policies imposed in the name of preventing climate disasters that exist only in computer models, press releases and Hollywood movies. Perhaps worst of all, as bad as these impacts are for people in the United States, they are even worse for poor countries.

Two billion people in poor countries still do not have electricity! That means no refrigeration, to keep food and medicines from spoiling. No water purification, to reduce baby-killing intestinal diseases. No modern heating and air conditioning, to reduce hypothermia in winter, heat stroke in summer – and lung disease year-round, because people are constantly breathing pollutants from cooking and heating fires.

It means no lights or computers, no modern offices, factories, schools, shops, clinics or hospitals. It means permanent poverty, disease and premature death – because some people care more about far-retched threats to bugs and polar bears, than about real, immediate, life-or-death threats to people, caused by policies that prevent them from getting the energy that will improve, sustain and save their lives.

The GAIN will be minimal to nonexistent.

Even the intense pain of slashing America’s carbon dioxide emissions by 83% over the next 40 years – all the way back to 1908 levels or earlier – will have virtually no effect on global temperatures and climate.

In fact, one climate researcher used the alarmists’ own computer models to calculate that even this pain and sacrifice would result in global temperatures rising just 0.1 degrees F less by 2050 than not cutting US carbon dioxide emissions at all. And that assumes rising CO2 causes global warming.

That’s because CO2 emissions from China, India and other countries would quickly dwarf America’s job-killing reductions. China is building a new coal-fired power plant every week and putting millions of new cars on its growing network of highways. So is India. They’re trying to reduce poverty, modernize their nations, improve human health, and ensure that every family, office, school and hospital has electricity.

After years of criticizing the United States for not signing the Kyoto global warming treaty, Europe will build 40 new coal-fired power plants by 2015. Germany plans to build 27 coal-fired electrical generating plants by 2020. Italy plans to double its reliance on coal in just five years.

So WHO will benefit?

The only people who will gain from penalizing energy use and over-regulating our economy are:

Emission traders like Al Gore, who hope to make billions of dollars from cap and trade;
Companies that get favored treatment (low-cost emission permits) under cap-and-trade laws, and can make big profits from selling their excess permits;
Government bureaucrats who will regulate our economy, and police the trillion-dollar cap-and-trade market to prevent fraud and price gouging;
Universities, scientists, environmental activists and renewable energy companies, which will continue to share $6-10 billion per year in taxpayer money, to conduct climate research (mostly warning about imminent global warming disasters), and build wind, solar and other projects; and
Third World dictators, who will get carbon offset and cap-and-trade money to deposit in private bank accounts, for selling their people’s right to build hydrocarbon-fueled electrical generating plants.
Everyone else will pay dearly.

MYTHS about green energy and green jobs

For all this pain, there won’t even be net benefits from so-called “green energy” alternatives to the oil, natural gas and coal that now power 85% of the US economy. America’s oil and natural gas industry alone supports more than 9 million American jobs and contributed $1 trillion to the economy in 2007, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study. Coal generates one-half of all US electricity.

By contrast, wind and solar power together provide less than 1% of US energy – and do so only because of government renewable energy mandates and billions in subsidies and tax breaks. Increasing that to 10 or 20% of US electricity will be difficult, especially considering real-life experiences like these:

Spanish taxpayers spent $754,000 in subsidies for each “green” job created by the wind turbine industry (mostly jobs installing towering turbines) – and destroyed 2.2 regular jobs for each green job, primarily because pricey “renewable” electricity forced companies to lay off workers to stay in business.

With the aid of a large federal grant, Denver spent $720,000 to install solar panels on its Nature and Science Museum. The panels will reduce electricity bills. But it will take 110 years to save enough on those bills to pay for the panels – and the panels will only last 25 years!

Denmark actually generates only 4-18% of its electricity from wind, while its consumers pay the highest electric rates in Europe. It sends half of its taxpayer-subsidized power to Norway, Sweden and Germany. The rest of Denmark’s electricity comes from domestic or imported coal, hydroelectric, gas and nuclear.

The SCIENCE does not support climate disaster claims

President Obama says “dangerous carbon emissions contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air we breathe.” But carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is a vital plant fertilizer. It’s found in the air we exhale, and the beer, soft drinks, champagne and Perrier Water we drink.

More than 700 climate experts and 31,000 scientists say carbon dioxide has zero to minimal effect on Earth’s temperature, climate and weather. They back up that conclusion with solid evidence.

The Earth’s temperature increased 1 degree F during the last century, when warming and cooling trends are combined. They rose from 1915-1940 (1934 was the century’s warmest year), fell from 1940-1975, rose again from 1975-1998, then stabilized between 1998-2005, and then declined slightly 2005-2008 – as CO2 levels steadily climbed higher and higher. That clearly shows carbon dioxide does not cause global warming.

Computer models of climate and climate change are not “real world” evidence. They are no more reliable than computer predictions of future Super Bowl winners and scores, and not one of them predicted the recent planetary cooling. Their disaster scenarios are no more valid as a basis for laws, public policies and cap-and-trade schemes, than the special effects in “The Day After Tomorrow” or “Jurassic Park.”

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change insists that human carbon dioxide emissions drive global warming. It has never seriously investigated the possibility that climate change might be natural – which was clearly the case when the sun, shifts in ocean currents, and other natural forces caused the Ice Ages, interglacial periods, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, Little Ice Age, Dust Bowl, and droughts that decimated Anasazi, Chinese, Inca and Mayan civilizations.


There is no scientific basis for imposing cap-and-trade schemes. They would inflict massive pain for no gain on American businesses and families, and create an intrusive Green Nanny State that destroys jobs, reduces personal freedoms, and hobbles economic opportunities and civil rights.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

These Are Not Negotiable

by Chuck Baldwin

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies."

I would argue that we, like our patriot forebears, have also endured "patient sufferance." For at least a half-century, we have patiently endured the erosion and abridgment of our freedoms and liberties. We have watched the federal government become an overbearing and meddlesome Nanny State that pokes its nose and sticks its fingers in virtually everything we do. We cannot drive a car, buy a gun, or even flush a toilet without Big Brother's permission. We are taxed, regulated, and snooped-on from the time we are born to the day we die. And then after we are dead, we are taxed again.

In the same way that Jefferson and Company patiently suffered up until that shot was fired that was heard around the world, we who love freedom today are likewise patiently suffering "a long train of abuses and usurpations." In fact, I would even dare say that these States United have become a boiling caldron of justifiable frustration and even anger.

Accordingly, it is incumbent upon us to very seriously and thoughtfully examine those principles that we absolutely will never cede or surrender. We have already surrendered much of the freedom that was bequeathed to us by our forefathers. We are now to the point that we must define those principles that form our "line in the sand" and that we will not surrender under any circumstance. Either that, or we must admit to ourselves that there is nothing--no principle, no freedom, no matter how sacred--that we will not surrender to Big Government.

Here, then, are those principles that, to me, must never be surrendered. To surrender these liberties to Big Government would mean to commit idolatry. It would be sacrilege. It would reduce us to slavery. It would destroy our humanity. To surrender these freedoms would mean "absolute Despotism" and would provide moral justification to the proposition that such tyranny be "thrown off."

*The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Men without guns are not free men; they are slaves. Men without guns are not citizens; they are subjects. Men without guns have lost the right of self-defense. They have lost the power to defend their families and protect their properties. Men without guns are reduced to the animal kingdom, becoming prey to the Machiavellians among them who would kill them for sport or for their own personal pursuits. As King Jesus plainly ordered, "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." (Luke 22:36) This we will do--at all costs.

*The Right to Own Private Property

Like the right of self-defense, the private ownership of property is a God-given right that is rooted in the Sacred Text. As God told Moses, "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it." (Deut. 19:14)

In fact, the history of Western Civilization is replete with the examples of free men who were determined (even at the cost of their very lives) to defend the right to own property. Without private property rights, men are reduced to serfs and servants. Like chattel, they feed themselves by another's leave. This we will not do.

*The Right to Train and Educate Our Children

Education has never been the responsibility of the State. From time immemorial, education has been the right and responsibility of the family. This, too, has its foundation in the Sacred Volume. "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Eph. 6:4)

Therefore, the absolute right of homeshooling or private/parochial/Christian schooling must never be surrendered. Homeschooling, especially, is fundamental to freedom. It is not a coincidence that throughout history, most totalitarian governments forbade parents homeschooling their children. Any government--federal, State, or local--that forbids, or even restricts, the right of parents to homeschool their children has taken upon itself the uniform of a tyrant.

*The Freedom of Speech and Worship

Speech and worship are matters of the heart and conscience (Luke 6:45; John 4:24). Only tyrants seek authority over matters of the heart. But, of course, that is what tyrants do: they seek to control men's thoughts and beliefs.

Hence, the alternative media is essential to liberty: the Internet, short wave radio, as well as independent magazines and periodicals. It is almost superfluous to say that there is no such thing as a free and independent press among the mainstream news media today. In fact, the major media more resembles a propaganda machine than it does a free press.

The same can be said for most of the mainstream churches in America today. They more resemble havens for politically correct, Big-Government ideology than they do bastions of Bible truth. Therefore, home-churches and non-establishment churches are increasingly requisite to a free people.

*The Right to Determine One's Own Healthcare

The marriage of Big Government and Big Medicine has created a healthcare monster. Already, the dispensing of medical treatment is micromanaged by Big Brother in a way that has resulted in skyrocketing costs and inferior care (and in some cases, even death). President Obama's universal health care initiatives that are sure to come (in one form or another) will only exacerbate an already untenable situation.

Free men and women absolutely have the right to refuse vaccinations for themselves and their children. Forced vaccinations (of any kind) are an assault against the very foundation of freedom. Free men have the right to choose their own physicians, their own hospitals, their own insurance programs, etc. They also have the right to refuse any and all of the above.

God is Creator. He is also Healer (Exodus 15:26). Therefore, how men choose to seek God's healing is a private matter between them and God. Alternative medicine is a right. Already, our military personnel are used as human guinea pigs to test a variety of drugs and chemicals. Public schools also require forced vaccinations. And now the push is on to force the general population to take the Swine Flu vaccine. At the current pace, it won't be long until all alternative medicines and treatments will be illegal and the federal government will be America's doctor. This is not acceptable.

*The Right to Life

2000 years of Western Civilization have perpetually reconfirmed that life is a gift of God. Both Biblical and American history repeatedly honor God as the Source and Sustainer of man's existence. Therefore, evils such as abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia must be vehemently resisted. It is bad enough that any government (especially one such as ours) would legalize abortion, but the concept of FORCED abortion, infanticide, or euthanasia could only be regarded as a despotic attack on life and liberty of the gravest proportion. In fact, under Natural Law, such an attack would remove said government from the protection of Heaven and would place it in a state of war.

*The Right to Live as a Free and Independent People

God separated the Nations (Genesis 11). Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that we Americans maintain our independence and national sovereignty. We simply cannot (and will not) allow ourselves to become part of any hemispheric or global union.

There they are: seven freedom-principles that are not negotiable. As Jefferson said, we are "disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable." But cross these lines and free men must do what free men must do: "throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

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Gitmo High School

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Lawrence Solomon: Climate change dominoes fall

by Lawrence Solomon

Australians are the latest citizenry to turn against climate change catastrophism. For the first time, according to a Lowy poll released this week, a majority of the population turned thumbs down to the proposition that “global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs.” This rejection applied to younger segments of the population as well as old, especially disappointing to Australian decision makers, given their efforts to indoctrinate youths through the educational system.

Last year, 60% of the populace bought into global warming fears and in 2006, the figure was 68%.

Neither did Aussies view tackling global warming as particularly important. When compared to other foreign policy issues, such as illegal immigration, protecting jobs, combating terrorism, strengthening the United Nations, or protecting Australians living abroad, climate change fared miserably. In fact, of the 10 foreign policy issues the poll cited, only “promoting democracy in other countries” was deemed less of a priority.

The Australian results come the same week that the United Kingdom’s Department of Energy and Climate Change released a survey showing most Britons do not fear harm from climate change. Until last week, the government had kept up a brave face, refusing to acknowledge that its relentless efforts over decades to convince the public of the need for action on climate change had failed.

With Copenhagen fast approaching, the government has decided to pull out all the stops with an unprecedented prime time TV ad campaign to turn public opinion around. “The survey results show that people don’t realize that climate change is already under way and could have severe consequences,” Joan Ruddock, the Energy and Climate Change Minister explained in justifying the need for her aggressive campaign. The £6-million ad campaign showing scenes of devastation through animation — flooding, drowning animals and humans, a sign that reads “The World’s End” — fittingly premiered on the night-time soap opera, Coronation Street, with an ad entitled “Bedtime stories.”

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Partisan Politics – A Fool’s Game for the Masses

by Robert Higgs

Because I despise politics in general, and the two major parties in this country in particular, I go through life constantly bemused by all the weight that people put on partisan political loyalties and on adherence to the normative demarcations the parties promote. Henry Adams observed that “politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.” This marshalling of hatreds is not the whole of politics, to be sure, but it is an essential element. Thus, Democrats encourage people to hate big corporations, and Republicans encourage people to hate welfare recipients.

Of course, it’s all a fraud, designed to distract people from the overriding reality of political life, which is that the state and its principal supporters are constantly screwing the rest of us, regardless of which party happens to control the presidency and the Congress. Amid all the partisan sound and fury, hardly anybody notices that political reality boils down to two “parties”: (1) those who, in one way or another, use state power to bully and live at the expense of others; and (2) those unfortunate others.

Even when politics seems to involve life-and-death issues, the partisan divisions often only obscure the overriding political realities. So, Democrats say that anti-abortion Republicans, who claim to have such tremendous concern for saving the lives of the unborn, have no interest whatever in saving the lives of those already born, such as the poor children living in the ghetto. And Republicans say that Democrats, who claim to have such tremendous concern for the poor, systematically contribute to the perpetuation of poverty by the countless taxes and regulations they load onto business owners who would otherwise be in better position to hire and train the poor and thereby to hasten their escape from poverty.

If the unborn children happen to be living in the wombs of women on whom U.S. bombs and rockets rain down in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, however, all Republican concerns for the unborn evaporate completely, as do the Democrats’ concerns for the poor children living in the selfsame bombarded villages. Both parties’ positions would seem to rest on very flexible and selective morality, if indeed either party may be said to have any moral basis at all, notwithstanding their chronic public displays of “moral” wailing and gnashing of teeth.

In any event, the parties’ principles of hatred have never passed the sniff test; indeed, they reek of hypocrisy. Thus, while railing against the “corporate rich,” the Democrats rely heavily on the financial support of Hollywood moguls and multi-millionaire trial lawyers, among other fat cats. And the Republicans, while denouncing the welfare mother who makes off with a few hundred undeserved bucks a month, vociferously support the hundreds of billions of dollars in welfare channeled to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Electric, among many other companies, via larcenous “defense” contracts, Export-Import Bank subsidies, and countless other forms of government support for “national security” and service to “the public interest” as Republicans conceive of these nebulous, yet rhetorically useful entities.

Notice, too, that although ordinary Democrats and Republicans often harbor intense mutual hatreds, the party leaders in Congress rub shoulders quite amiably as a rule. Regardless of which party has control, the loyal opposition can always be counted on to remain ever so loyal and ready to cut a deal. And why not? These ostensible political opponents are engaged in a process of plunder from which the bigwigs in both parties can expect to profit, whatever the ebb and flow of party politics. At bottom, the United States has a one-party state, cleverly designed to disguise the country’s true class division and to divert the masses from a recognition that unless you are a political insider connected with one of the major parties, you almost certainly will be ripped off on balance. Such exploitation, after all, is precisely what the state and the political parties that operate it are for.

Yet, rather than hating the predatory state, the masses have been conditioned to love this blood-soaked beast and even, if called upon, to lay down their lives and the lives of their children on its behalf. From my vantage point on the outside, peering in, I am perpetually mystified that so many people are taken in by the phony claims and obscurantist party rhetoric. As the song says, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,” but unlike the fellow in the song, I am not “stuck in the middle.” Instead, I float above all of this wasted emotion, looking down on it with disgust and sadness. Moreover, as an economist, I am compelled to regret such an enormously inefficient allocation of hatred.

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The next big political issue? The U.S. dollar

by James Pethokoukis

The state of the dollar probably hasn’t been a first-tier political issue in the United States since, say, the presidential election of 1896. Back then, it manifested as whether or not America would stay on the gold standard or switch to a bimetallic one. (The William Jennings Bryan “cross of gold” speech and all that.)

The aftershocks of the global financial crisis may now be propelling the dollar back to the political forefront. The greenback’s continuing slide makes it a handy metric that neatly encapsulates America’s current economic troubles and possible long-term decline. House Republicans for instance, have been using the weaker dollar as a weapon in their attacks on the Bernanke-led Federal Reserve.

For more evidence of the dollar’s return to political salience, look no further than the Facebook page of Sarah Palin. The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee — and possible 2012 presidential candidate — has shown a knack for identifying hot-button political issues, such as the purported “death panels” she claims to have found in Democratic healthcare reform plans. In a recent Facebook posting, Palin expressed deep concern over the dollar’s “continued viability as an international reserve currency” in light of huge U.S. budget deficits.

She might be onto something here, politically and economically. A recent Rasmussen poll, for instance, found that 88 percent of Americans say the dollar should remain the dominant global currency. Now, the average voter may not fully understand the subtleties of international finance nor appreciate exactly how a dominant dollar has benefited the U.S economy. But they sure think a weaker dollar is a sign of a weaker America.

And that’s the political problem for the Obama administration. Its benign neglect of the dollar is another example of an economic policy — along with TARP and the $787 billion stimulus — that the White House thinks is helping the economy, but many Americans find wrongheaded.

In his New York Times column today, Paul Krugman makes the usual case for a weaker dollar: It helps U.S. exporters and is a necessary part of a global economic rebalancing. And there is some truth in that, particularly the idea that Rising Asia will result in a less-dominant dollar. Then again, a devalued currency hasn’t exactly been a proven path to prosperity. (Ask Jimmy Carter.)

But Krugman too easily dismisses the idea that the dollar’s decline could tumble out of control. Former Clinton economic officials such as Robert Rubin and Roger Altman have been making the case that investor concern about budget deficits could lead them to abandon the dollar. As Altman argued in a Financial Times op-ed piece today: “The dismal deficit outlook poses a huge longer-term threat. Indeed, it is just a matter of time before global financial markets reject this fiscal trajectory. That could lead to a punishing dollar crisis.”

Now many Democrats and liberals, like Krugman, don’t want to hear such talk, fearing a rerun of the Clinton era when the progressive policy agenda was sacrificed on the altar of budgetary rectitude.

But that is a tremendous political and economic gamble, one that may result in taunting Republican cries of “Who lost the dollar?”

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Active Duty Troops In Iraq Are Wearing Oath Keeper Tabs

The photo was also posted over at the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog with this message:

Just thought the WRSA [Western Rifle Shooters Association] and the Sipsey Street boys might like to see what we are wearing while over here in Iraq. We . . . know what the deal is, and when the time comes (which it will), we know where we stand and continue to make preparations for it.

Keep up the good work!

Regards from Mosul,

All I can say to that is Hooah! Thank you for your service, K7C, and for stepping up. Give our best regards to your brothers in arms, and let them know we have your six back home. If any of you need anything at all, from socks to helmets, to body armor, just ask and it will be provided. We need you to stay safe and come home healthy.

Oath Keepers here stateside, let your brothers on active duty in Iraq know how you feel. They do come here to read comments, count on that.

Note that the tab in the photo is not the same tab we sell here on our site (which is more of a police style tab). We are having military ACU style tabs with velcro made up, but they are not yet finished. That means the troops are having their own Oath Keeper tabs made up! And no, we did not put them up to it. They are doing this on their own initiative.

So take heart! The message of the oath and its obligations is spreading, and the Guardians of the Republic are listening and responding. And every time you act to spread the message, by whatever means, you cannot know what impact you will have, or how far it will reach. That’s why it’s so crucial that we each do what we can to reach, teach, and inspire as many active duty as possible about their obligation to defend the Constitution and their duty to refuse unlawful orders that would violate the rights of their fellow Americans.

Upcoming Outreach Effort to Put Tabs, DVD’s, and OK Handbooks in the Hands of Active Duty
Coincidentally, the tabs those troops are wearing are almost exactly like the tabs we are having made for our upcoming care package initiative, which will put an Oath Keeper tab, DVD, Oath Keepers handbook, copy of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and other outreach materials, into the hands of active duty deployed worldwide. We plan on launching that effort on Veteran’s Day, November 11 and continuing right on through Bill of Rights Day, December 15, with the goal of delivering all the care packages by Christmas. Now imagine what that will be like! Tens of thousands of our troops reached with the message and a tab. I will post more details very soon.

What’s a Three Percenter?
Now, seeing the other tab and patch in the photo, you may ask “what is a three percenter?” The narrowest definition is that three percenters are hard-line gun owners who are done backing up and will not comply with more infringements of their right to bear arms. A broader definition would be that they are hard-line Americans who are done backing up and will not comply with further infringement of any of their rights. It also alludes to the three percent of the colonists who took to the field against the King during the Revolution, and the estimation that at least three percent of modern Americans will actively fight, if it comes to it, to preserve liberty. Read this essay for more explanation.

Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are separate groups, but it is not a surprise to see people who consider themselves both an Oath Keeper and a Three Percenter. If you read the supplied links you will see why.

While we Oath Keepers have a specialized mission of outreach to current serving, focused on the oath and on refusing to obey unlawful orders, there’s lots of common ground and shared commitment to the Republic among both groups. Go here to read what the Sipsey Street blog has to say about that.

Oath Keepers, expect to see more of these tabs popping up soon, even before we begin our care package initiative. You are making a real difference. Keep up the good work!

For the Republic,
Stewart Rhodes

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