Saturday, May 31, 2003
The feds have finally secured the conviction of Fabio Ochoa, who was a leader of one of the world’s most famous drug cartels in the 1980s — the Medellin cartel, which was based in Colombia.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Ryan, who prosecuted the case, announced: “We consider it a validation of this country’s efforts to crack down on trafficking of cocaine.”
Say what? What in the world could he be talking about?
If he’s referring to the government’s commitment to continue waging the war on drugs, which has been going on since at least the 1970s, why would anyone need any validation of that? Who doubts that the feds remain committed to doing what they’ve been doing for the past 30 years — prosecuting and convicting drug dealers and drug users? In fact, the process has been going on so long that it’s difficult to stifle a yawn whenever one hears of a new drug conviction or a new record drug bust.
If Ryan instead is referring to a validation of the success of the war on drugs, he’s either seriously misguided, smoking something illegal, or just too young to know that the war has been going on for at least 3 decades, without any success whatsoever in stemming the tide of drugs into the United States. Despite the fact that the Medellin cartel was responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine brought into the United States, rest assured that not only will Ochoa’s conviction and the demise of the cartel not result in an 80 percent reduction in cocaine importation into the United States, it won’t result in any diminution at all.
Oh, it’s true that Ryan and his cohorts in the DEA, Border Patrol, and U.S. Attorney’s Office (many of whom are now retired) have secured multitudes of drug convictions during the past 30 years, but so what? If the convictions have done nothing to stem the tide of drugs, why should anyone care when they get a new conviction?
Drug warriors such as Ryan are the perfect modern-day embodiment of Sisyphus, who was condemned by the gods to ceaselessly and perpetually roll a rock to the top of a mountain, only to watch it then fall back of its own weight, at which point the process would begin anew.
The more the feds prosecute drug sellers, the more they reduce the supply of drugs, which means the black-market price goes up, which attracts more sellers, which puts more drugs on the market, which causes the price to drop, which provides more people to prosecute, which provides even more “validation of this country’s efforts to crack down on trafficking of cocaine.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan should have been more forthright: “We consider Ochoa’s conviction a validation of our efforts to provide DEA agents and U.S. attorneys a professional career in which they accomplish nothing constructive during the course of their lives, after which they can retire on their hefty federal (taxpayer-provided) pensions and reminisce about all those drug convictions they secured and all the lives they ruined and destroyed.”
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Friday, May 30, 2003
When it comes to analyzing the consequences of the federal government’s many wars, the analysis almost always focuses on the failures and perverse consequences of those wars. Whether we’re talking about the war on poverty, the war on illiteracy, the war on drugs (in which they just killed 57-year-old African American Alberta Spruill), war on bad health, war on terrorism, or one of the military-industrial complex’s foreign wars, it is virtually impossible to find one that hasn’t produced bizarre consequences.
Then, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out, the normal response of government to those failures and perverse consequences is to wage the war even more fiercely or initiate new wars. The ultimate result, as government travels down this road, is perpetual war, along with all the tyrannical controls that come with it.
There’s another perverse consequence of Washington’s perpetual wars, however, that we ignore at our peril, especially with respect to the so-called war on terrorism and foreign wars, such as the recent one against Iraq. That consequence is the internal one — what Washington’s climate of perpetual war is doing to us as human beings and as a society.
Historically, Americans have been, by and large, a civil, courteous, humble, and tolerant people. That’s one of the reasons, in fact, that foreigners love American tourists — they like their friendly, pleasant, respectful, open demeanor. And it’s important to note that foreigners draw a distinction between the American people and the U.S. government — that’s what enables them to love the American people while, at the same time, despise U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. officials who implement it, all too many of whom are arrogant, pretentious, pompous, and unpleasant.
There are many reasons that war should always be a last resort, the biggest one being that the lives of many innocent people are snuffed out in a moment when otherwise they would have continued living their lives with families, friends, and loved ones.
But another reason — one that we Americans need to focus on — is what war does to the people of a nation. Always and inevitably, war brings out the worst in human nature, and that applies to all of us. It makes us uncivil, discourteous, intolerant, unfriendly, tense, and irritable — even with our fellow citizens. War alters the character of human beings, and perpetual war threatens to make such an alteration long-lasting.
In today’s FFF Email Update, I have included several articles about what recently happened to the Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times reporter Chris Hedges at Rockford College. Rockford’s treatment of Hedges is a perfect example of what Washington’s wars are doing to us as a people.
First, a word about the First Amendment because oftentimes there’s confusion as to what the right of free speech is really all about. Freedom of speech dictates that there shall be no government law prohibiting or regulating what one says or publishes. But that doesn’t mean that anyone is required to furnish anyone else with a publishing house, a radio transmitter, or even a soapbox. Freedom of speech (and association) also entails the right of people not to read or listen to what another person writes or utters.
Ultimately, freedom of speech is grounded on property rights. I have a right to purchase a publishing house or a radio station and then begin writing and speaking. And you have a right not to read or listen to what I say.
Rockford College, as the owner of the institution, has the right to set any rules it wants for itself. If it wants to prohibit certain types of speech, it has that right. If it wants to permit all types of speech, popular or not, it also has that right. If students don’t like the rules, they’re free to quit and go elsewhere. No one, including the students and teachers, has a “right” to violate the rules set forth by Rockford College or any other institution. (We’ll set aside the issue of government subsidization of colleges and universities and the regulation that comes with such welfare.)
Therefore, Rockford College had the right to invite Chris Hedges to speak at its commencement exercises and Hedges had the right to either say yes or no. The students and their parents had a right to attend or stay away from the exercises but they had no right to interfere with Hedge’s speech unless the college, implicitly or explicitly, gave them that authorization. The president of the college had the right to have anyone who was violating its rules forcibly evicted from the commencement exercises.
What I’m talking about here, however, is not the concepts of property rights and freedom of speech per se, but rather something that is taking place in America on a different level. We’re talking about what perpetual war is doing to people in terms of such things as courtesy, civility, and tolerance. That in fact was one theme of Hedges’s talk, and ironically the abusive treatment that he received only confirmed the truthfulness and accuracy of his thesis.
Most of us are familiar with the story of McCarthy era, when Senator Joe McCarthy used his political power to humiliate, mistreat, abuse, harm, and destroy Americans for what he considered to be their wrongful beliefs.
The problem we face today is that as a result of the federal government’s perpetual wars and the climate of punishment for dissenting views that Washington public officials have established for foreign nations, multitudes of private-sector mini-McCarthys are now surfacing all over our country and doing their dirty deeds to the American people who refuse to go along with the majority. They lack the political power that McCarthy had, but they are nonetheless little Nazi-like, communist-like, private-sector mini-McCarthy bullies with totalitarian mindsets.
Think back to the movie The Sound of Music and recall Liesl’s boyfriend Rolf, whose character radically changed when he became one of “them.” Recall Captain von Trapp’s unsuccessful plea to Rolf near the end of movie when Rolf, the good little Nazi, has discovered them: “You don’t really belong to them…. Come away with us before it’s too late….You’ll never be one of them.”
Those who would suggest that only German or Austrian human beings have a dark side or that only they are susceptible to succumbing to such a dark side delude themselves. All of us have that dark side within us, and all of us are susceptible to it. And that includes both private individuals and public officials (where political power actually serves to accentuate the dark side, which is why our Founders protected us from them with our Constitution).
Take a close look at what is happening to us Americans in this climate of perpetual war. Not only are we expected to shift our hatred of foreigners in accordance with who happens to be the official enemy de jour, the unofficial policy is that it’s okay to turn that hatred toward those of our fellow citizens who are refusing to go along with the majority.
When President Bush declared that people had a right to boycott the Dixie Chick’s records, he was absolutely right from the standpoint of individual rights. But that’s not the only point involved here. The perpetual climate of hatred and fear that Washington continues to engender on a daily basis inevitably gives rise to all those mini-McCarthys, who then try their best to inflict economic harm on their fellow citizens (as well as foreigners) for not going along with the majority. That environment flies in the face of the important societal values for which Americans have long stood: civility, courtesy, and tolerance for opposing views.
Back to freedom of speech: Do you now see the wisdom and foresight of our Founding Fathers in enacting the First Amendment? Remember, contrary to what our government officials tell us, the First Amendment does not give us the right to free speech; instead it prohibits Congress and the majority from interfering with our preexisting right to free speech. Our Founders knew that in future American societies, there would be the mindless masses that would arise, especially during crises, who could be easily manipulated into supporting whatever their government said or did. That’s what the First Amendment does — it protects us from the mindless mob. It protects us from the majority. It protects us from the dark side of ourselves.
During the three weeks of the most recent Iraq war, we ourselves here at FFF were the subject of a bully attack. A man from Texas sent emails to FFF employees and FFF authors (but not me) badmouthing me for the stands I was taking against the government. In fact, somewhat amusingly, he emailed Jim Bovard, who has been one of my closest friends and associates for more than 10 years and whose courage is well-known and whose integrity is impeccable, that he would never buy another of Bovard’s books as long as he was associated with FFF.
Well, if that bully’s intent was to harm FFF by intimidating our employees and authors into discontinuing their association with us, it didn’t work because what the bully failed to realize is that Bovard and all the others who are associated with FFF are not the type of people who are going to permit themselves to be silenced just because some Texas bully doesn’t like what we’re saying.
My own experience with bullies has always been that they get their courage from the numbers of people around them but that as soon as you face them down, one-on-one, they turn tail and run. I emailed that Texas bully and I pointed out to him that since his beef was with me, what he should have done is to take the matter up with me, not with my friends and associates. He hasn’t written to them again.
One thing everyone can count on: As I pointed out in the very first essay I wrote in our publication Freedom Daily in January 1990, people will disagree with us on issues as time goes on. That is inevitable. But no matter how tough things get, both financially and climate-wise, you can rest assured that never will we compromise that which we consider to be right and true.
As everyone who reads our stuff knows, we believe that our country is headed in a very wrong direction, and we’re fighting as hard as we can to put it back on the right track. Unlike the many mini-McCarthys out there, however, we will fight to ensure that opposing ideas are never suppressed. After all, it’s only when one is spouting falsehoods that he fears the competition of the truth.
P.S. Speaking of Bovard’s books, his newest one — Terrorism & Tyranny: Sabotaging Freedom, Justice, and Peace in the War to “Rid the World of Evil”— is scheduled to be published this summer. I have read parts of the book and in my opinion, this is Jim’s finest and most courageous book, and it is quite likely to incur the wrath of collectivists, statists, McCarthyites, and bullies even more so than his previous books.
P.P.S. And speaking of books, our newest book, Liberty, Security, and the War on Terrorism, is on the presses and being shipped to us next week! We’ll have it available for sale within the next couple of weeks. Thank you for helping us to bring it into publication!
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Thursday, May 29, 2003
One of the most valuable aspects of public (i.e. government) schools is the ability of public officials to influence the minds of people at a formative age with government-approved beliefs and information.
For example, according to an article entitled “The Schools in Basra Expel ‘Papa Saddam’” in yesterday’s (May 28) New York Times, the public schools in Iraq “tried to instill reverence for Mr. Hussein in the youngest of Iraqis. Students were forced to recite pledges to ‘Papa Saddam,’ they sang songs extolling him and wore T-shirts bearing his likeness that were distributed by the government…. His portrait looked down on every classroom. His name came up no matter what the subject.”
So, now that the Saddam regime has been ousted and the U.S. government is now in charge of Iraq and is devoted to bringing freedom to the Iraqi people, does that mean that U.S. officials intend to end state involvement in education and instead turn over this important area to the free market? After all, what better way to liberate people from educational tyranny than by separating school and state, much as our ancestors freed us from religious tyranny by separating church and state?
Unfortunately, the educational system U.S. officials are establishing in Iraq appears to be no different in principle from that established by Saddam Hussein. The state will continue to have the power to force the children of Iraq into government institutions in order to pour government-approved beliefs and information into their minds.
So, has anything changed? Yes, but only with respect to the nature of the state-sponsored beliefs and information. As the Times article points out, “Students across Iraq are now being asked to disregard the leader they learned so much about, and that seems to be coming easily to many.” As Zena Akeel, 11, put it, “The teacher told us we must forget Saddam. I’ve forgotten him.”
What better testament to the power of public (i.e., government) schools than that? Is it any wonder why public officials everywhere embrace public schooling and the power that comes with it? And the greatest part, from the standpoint of the authorities, is that when Zena Akeel becomes an adult, she’ll most likely have forgotten why she forgot the beliefs of the former regime and why her mind is now filled with the beliefs of the new regime.
Jacob Hornberger is the founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, publisher of Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families by Sheldon Richman.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Just in case you needed more evidence of the perverse and hypocritical consequences of the income-tax, welfare-state, economic-crime paradigm that unfortunately holds our nation in its grip, here’s another one.
An article in Monday’s (May 26) business section of the New York Times reports that Microsoft is “significantly increasing its donation of software to the nation’s nonprofit organizations, to a level that may approach $1 billion annually in the next three to four years.”
What’s wrong with that?
Well, statists are suggesting that such benevolence violates America’s “predatory-pricing” laws. Those are the laws that prohibit (and criminalize) a company from lowering its prices too much because it might put a competitor out of business.
Thus, Microsoft’s critics say, if a company is prohibited from lowering the price of its products too much, a zero price is, ipso facto, predatory pricing.
Do you ever get the feeling that you’re living in China?
Even worse, they suggest, Microsoft’s donations are not really being made out of a benevolent spirit but instead out of greed (horrors!) because what Microsoft is really trying to do is make nonprofit organizations dependent on it (more horrors!).
Meanwhile, columnist Richard Cohen of the leftist Washington Post laments that Texaco (now Chevron/Texaco) is discontinuing its funding of Saturday afternoon live radio broadcasts of the New York Metropolitan Opera, which costs that corporation $7 billion a year to reach 10 million people.
Texaco contends that it had to drop the show because of financial difficulties, reflecting partly by a 45 percent pay cut for its CEO and a fall in stock price. But Cohen responds, “The company made $1.132 billion last year; $7 million represents less than 1 percent of its profits.”
In other words, Cohen suggests, Chevron/Texaco is still plenty rich and ought to keep funding those Met broadcasts.
What advocates of the welfare state fail to recognize, however, is that they themselves bear much of the moral responsibility for these types of reductions in charitable giving.
First of all, statists always assume that the production of wealth in a society is a given, and that all that is necessary is for the government to confiscate the wealth from those who have produced it in order to redistribute it to those whom the government says need it more. Private businesses (including oil companies of course) are viewed simply as golden geese to be regularly plucked, but not so much that it kills their laying of more golden eggs.
Imagine if 10 years ago, the American people had embraced the libertarian vision of abolishing the IRS and income tax along with all socialistic-welfare-state functions of the federal government. That would mean that all the millions that Texaco had paid to the IRS would be sitting in the company coffers, which would have been more than enough to continue funding the Met broadcasts.
The same holds true for individuals. Think about how much you’ve paid in income taxes for the last 10 years. Let’s say it’s an average of $20,000 per year. That’s $200,000 plus interest that would be sitting in your savings account right now, available for your children’s education, paying down your home mortgage, and handling medical expenses. You might even be willing to donate a bit more to your church and charitable organizations.
“But people wouldn’t give voluntarily if the government didn’t force them to help others,” the welfare-statists cry, conveniently forgetting that that’s how the opera houses, museums, and churches got built in America before the income tax and welfare state were adopted in our country in the early part of the 20th century.
Which brings us back to Microsoft, the company that’s donating all that free software to nonprofit organizations. In his Washington Post article, Cohen makes a not-so-subtle plea to Microsoft: “Imagine Bill Gates defending a decision to sponsor the Met broadcasts by echoing the words of the doomed Tosca: ‘Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore.’ I lived for art, I lived for love. My father — and his son — would sure appreciate it.”
One thing about both conservatives and leftists — neither of them lacks gall. Don’t forget: Microsoft is the company that leftists (both in and out of the government) have vilified, condemned, prosecuted, and persecuted for committing federal economic crimes. And the reason they’ve done that is not only envy but also the hope that they can seize even more golden eggs than the IRS has already seized.
Of course, maybe we ought to be counting our lucky stars that (surprisingly) neither conservatives nor leftists have (yet) called on the federal government to take over funding of the Met broadcasts – by simply levying higher taxes on the likes of Chevron/Texaco and Microsoft or maybe just fining them for committing some idiotic economic crime.
Have you ever wondered why American businessmen take this kind of tripe? Have you ever wondered what would happen if the creators and producers went on strike? How would the statists fund their beloved socialistic welfare state then, if there were no more golden geese laying golden eggs to seize? Who then would they vilify, condemn, prosecute, and persecute? Who is John Galt?
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, publisher of Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax and Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, both by Sheldon Richman.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Well, well, well. Have you noticed that the Bush administration’s hate-o-meter has been pointed away from France and is alternating between Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia? And have you noticed the disappearance of all those boycott-the-French “patriots”? Have you heard any of their anti-French tirades in the last couple of weeks?
Well, well, well. As most everyone knows, the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks are playing against each other for the NBA’s Western Conference championship. That’s in Texas, the president’s home state, which, as everyone knows, holds boucoup (sorry!) of electoral votes.
Well, well, well. It turns out that one of the Spurs’ principle players is Tony Parker. And guess where he’s from. Oh, no! What a nightmare for the president and his blindly loyal and obedient “hate-the-French” sycophants (sorry!).
Yep, you guessed it! Ugh! Parker’s from France!
Where are Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and all those other loyal and obedient American “patriots” when we really need them? Why aren’t our American “patriots,” led by our president, demanding that the Spurs fire Parker and send him packing back to France? After all, didn’t Parker’s political ruler refuse to support our ruler’s war against Iraq? What could be worst than that?
Why, don’t we need to boycott the Spurs and the NBA playoffs in order to send a message to the French and to the world? Where is presidential leadership when we really need it? Just one word from you, Mr. President, and Texans will avoid tonight’s game (and all those french fries) like the plague and French wine — you can bet your Euros on it!
Oh, and I don’t mean to ruin anyone’s day even further, but to add insult to injury, it turns out that another star player for the Spurs is Manu Ginobili. Now, please sit down for this because I’m about to give you some shocking news about him.
Although Ginobili is playing for the Spurs, it turns out that he’s not (are you sitting down?) actually an American. Ugh! Why, he’s not even from Italy. It turns out that he’s actually from Latin America, Argentina to be exact. What could be worse than that, well, except for Africa?
What’s our country coming to? Where are the Republican loyal and obedient bash-the-immigrant “patriots” when we really need them? Isn’t basketball supposed to be an American game? Why are we letting these foreigners come in here and take jobs away from our people? Just watch tonight’s playoff game and you’ll see how many Americans are sitting on the Spurs’ bench while Parker and Ginobili are out on the court, playing to their heart’s (and their countrymen’s) content. Ooh la la y Caramba! (Sorry!)
Why, before we know it, men such as Parker and Ginobili will not only be stealing our jobs, they’ll be doing something much worse — stealing our women and making them their wives. Parker’s even been named to People magazine’s list of the world’s 50 Most Beautiful, and People is an American magazine! We’ve got to stop this invasion before it’s too late.
Oh, and let’s not forget — Parker and Ginobili could be terrorists too! Texas Republicans — call Homeland Security again and tell them to turn that fear-o-meter back to Orange! We’ve got to get rid of these people fast!
Oh, well, Republicans and their blindly loyal and obedient “patriotic” supporters have never been known for consistency. Except, of course, for being consistently hypocritical.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Monday, May 26, 2003
After congressional passage of President Bush’s $350 billion tax-cut bill, the president declared, “By leaving American families with more to spend, more to save and more to invest, these reforms will help boost the nation’s economy and create jobs.”
Actually, the purpose of the tax cut is to boost the president’s chances at reelection while cleverly disguising that the American people are being plundered and looted indirectly through debasement of their currency.
After all, let’s keep in mind that both the president and the Congress continue to embrace out-of-control federal spending, with the budget deficit at almost a record high of $300 billion, and that Congress raised the national debt “limit” by nearly $1 trillion at the same time it was cutting those taxes. (Question: What good does it do to have a limit if you’re going to continue to raise the limit each time the limit is reached?)
What does all this mean to ordinary Americans?
Well, let’s also not forget that at the very same time that the president’s tax cut was being approved and the debt limit increased, the U.S. dollar fell close to a record low against the Euro, having dropped almost 30 percent in just the last 12 months alone, and that most everyone is expecting it to slide even further.
Of course, what we’ll hear is that a currency that is falling in value is just a coincidence — that it’s just one of those unexplained “monetary phenomena” that periodically strikes a nation — such as Argentina, Mexico, and now the United States.
And then there are those who say, “Oh, a falling dollar is good for the economy and the people. It will make their purchases of foreign goods more expensive.”
Excuse me, but how is making anything more expensive supposed to be in the best interests of people? If a person could buy $1,000 worth of merchandise last year and can buy only $700 today because of monetary debasement, why shouldn’t we consider him in the same position as a person who just had a 30 percent tax levied on him by the government?
The insidious truth is that monetary debasement of the currency is a time-honored way by which government officials have always plundered and looted the people without having to tax them directly.
Reflect on this example: Suppose the government was spending $100,000 and the IRS was collecting income taxes of $100,000. Now, suppose the government increased spending to $200,000 and reduced income taxes to $50,000.
“Wow!” the people would respond. “That’s fantastic! We should reelect all these people to public office because they are financial wizards! They are stimulating the economy and giving us jobs. They are bringing us prosperity. We should love them, worship, and adore them!”
What really takes place, however, is that the government, which controls the monetary printing presses, simply prints the needed $150,000 and spends it, thereby increasing the supply of money and thereby decreasing its relative value. (More supply, all things equal, means lower value.)
A simple but instructional example of the laws of supply and demand with respect to money has occurred in Iraq. As an article in today’s Washington Post points out, “The dollar in turn lost much of its value against the dinar, as the United States boosted supply by pumping millions of dollars into the Iraqi economy. As a result, the $20 ‘emergency’ bonuses that the United States paid Iraqis earlier this month meant much less to ordinary Iraqis after the dollar’s sharp loss in value.”
Unfortunately, while the Iraqi people might have caught on to the U.S. monetary shenanigans, the American people remain woefully ignorant and indifferent to what their federal officials are doing to them — and have done to them for decades, which is why it might be much more appropriate if the motto on our coins was “In Caesar we trust.”
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Given that the infamous economic sanctions against Iraq, which have now been lifted, were always inextricably linked to Saddam Hussein’s purported failure to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction, important questions now arise with respect to both issues.
After all, as more and more people are now discovering, for 13 years the sanctions caused untold suffering for the Iraqi people, including the deaths of an estimated half-a-million children.
Throughout those 13 years, U.S. officials repeatedly held that if Saddam Hussein would just “disarm” by eradicating his weapons of mass destruction, the sanctions against the Iraqi people would be lifted.
Yet, during the past few years, the Iraqi government claimed that its weapons of mass destruction had in fact been dismantled and, thus, repeatedly requested that the sanctions that were producing so much death and suffering for the Iraqi people be lifted.
U.S. officials, on the other hand, steadfastly maintained that Saddam Hussein was lying about having dismantled his weapons of mass destruction and, therefore, just as steadfastly opposed the lifting of the sanctions that were causing so much suffering among the Iraqi people.
Given that weapons of mass destruction were not discovered in Iraq after the president’s invasion, several critical questions arise:
(1) Was the Iraqi regime in fact telling the truth when it claimed to have dismantled its weapons of mass destruction?
(2) If so, when were such weapons actually dismantled and, specifically, were they dismantled prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington?
(3) Did U.S. officials know that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had been dismantled and, if so, did they falsely use the issue as a ruse to continue the sanctions and later to arouse public support of their invasion of Iraq?
(4) How many Iraqis died as a result of sanctions after the weapons of mass destruction were dismantled?
(5) Given that both the terrorist who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and Osama bin Laden both cited the deaths of the Iraqi children arising from sanctions prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, would the lifting of the sanctions prior to September 11 have made a difference to the September 11 terrorists?
(6) If, on the other hand, the Iraqi regime was not telling the truth about having dismantled its weapons of mass destruction, then what happened to them and, specifically, did Saddam Hussein transfer such weapons to international terrorists, including al-Qaeda, prior the president’s invasion of Iraq?
As everyone knows, prior to the president’s war on Iraq, Congress rolled over into a supine position and abrogated its constitutional responsibility regarding a declaration of war. Why doesn’t Congress now owe it to the American people — and, for that matter, to the Iraqi people — to hold open and public congressional hearings into these important issues?
Friday, May 23, 2003
Given that Saddam Hussein’s much-vaunted weapons of mass destruction have not been discovered, lots of people are now assuming that the president’s primary justification for invading Iraq (to “disarm Saddam”) was a bogus one, either accidentally or intentionally.
But isn’t there a more frightening possibility — that the president’s pre-invasion assertions about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction were true and correct?
Wouldn’t that mean, then, that during the president’s year-long build-up to invading Iraq, Saddam had more than ample opportunity to transfer the weaponry to terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda?
Would that be ironic — the possibility that Bush’s actions actually pushed Saddam Hussein, who never used or threatened to use WMD against the United States, into delivering such weapons to terrorists who would love nothing more than to use such weaponry against the American people? (Don’t forget: Saddam was a good friend and ally of the U.S. government during the 1980s, which is why U.S. officials authorized the delivery of the WMD to him in the first place.)
Now, I don’t mean to make the American masses even more frightened and scared than they already are, but according to an article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times,we’re talking about: 10,000 liters of anthrax, lots of gaseous gangrene-causing agents, 6,500 chemical warheads, 4 tons of deadly nerve gas, 3,000 tons of other agents like tabun, sarin, and mustard gas, and 31,000 chemical munitions, and smallpox, not to mention nuclear-weapons technology.
I thought the war on Iraq was supposed to make us safer from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
While the president is clearly between Iraq and a hard place on which way to go with respect to the existence of Saddam’s undiscovered weapons of mass destruction, wouldn’t we be better off if, in fact, the president was either lying or mistaken?
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Recognizing that the 13 years of economic sanctions on the Iraqi people have subjected them to untold suffering, the U.S. government is finally calling for the sanctions to be lifted. Perhaps U.S. officials are finally coming to grips with the fundamental immorality of using economic weaponry against the citizenry of a foreign country as a tool of foreign policy against their political rulers.
We can also hope that U.S. officials are finally discovering that 13 years of sanctions had no palpable effect on Saddam Hussein’s palatial lifestyle. In fact, by making the Iraqi people dependent on the Iraqi government to feed and provide for them, the sanctions actually had the perverse consequence of strengthening Saddam’s control over the Iraqi people.
Unfortunately, however, the Bush administration seems to have learned these lessons only with respect to Iraq because so far there is no indication that U.S. officials intend to lift the 30-year-old economic embargo against the Cuban people. In fact, the indications are that they intend to do the opposite.
As the New York Times reports, “A senior administration official said today that the internal review [of U.S. policy toward Cuba] had not been concluded, and he did not discount that new sanctions were still possible.”
Meanwhile, according to the same article, the U.S. Treasury Department, whose unelected bureaucrats apparently now have the power to enact laws, just like the U.S. Congress does, has issued new regulations “that would severely curtail cultural, artistic and other exchanges” between private Americans and the Cuban people. (Question: Don’t unelected bureaucrats in Cuba also rule by decree rather than by laws enacted by a duly elected legislature?)
If 13 years of cruel and brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people, which contributed to the deaths of an estimated half-a-million of their children, were unsuccessful in ousting Saddam Hussein from power, unsuccessful in changing Saddam’s dictatorial stripes, unsuccessful in affecting his palatial lifestyle, and unsuccessful in weakening his grip on the Iraqi people, why should we expect a different result with new sanctions on Cuba, especially given that 30 years of sanctions on Cuba have had essentially the same types of perverse consequences there as they did in Iraq?
The moral issue was put correctly and succinctly by Philip Peters of the Lexington Institute: “What the administration’s allies are asking them to do is punish the Cuban people for what Castro did.”
If it was immoral for the U.S. government to punish the Iraqi people for the sins of Saddam Hussein, why isn’t it equally immoral for U.S. officials to punish the Cuban people for the sins of Fidel Castro?
Which raises an interesting question: Is the Bush administration really trying to lift the 13 years of sanctions against Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL) or for some other reason?
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
The scandal over Jason Blair and the New York Times is actually a testament to how a free society is supposed to operate. Some people are accusing the Times of lowering its hiring standards as part of some sort of a company-wide affirmative-action program. Others are saying that the experience has nothing to do with theTimes’ hiring policies, given that people like Blair come in all skin colors and appear in all walks of life.
What’s important, from the standpoint of freedom, is that each and every business should be free to set its own hiring policies and address problems that arise with such policies, without government interference.
If one company wants to have an affirmative-action hiring program, so be it. If another wants to have no such policy, that’s its right as well. In that way, each company then has to take responsibility for its own hiring decisions but is also able to quickly address problems that arise from its decisions.
What needs to be avoided is the notion that government should enact a law that requires all companies to adopt affirmative action or a law that prohibits companies from adopting affirmative action. By permitting government to politicize the economic marketplace in that way, we interfere not only with the right of businesses to manage their own affairs but also to quickly respond to problems in the course of the company’s business.
It’s morally right and economically beneficial that government stay out of the business of the New York Times. And the same holds true for bars, restaurants, computer companies, banks, hotels, investment companies, and every other private commercial establishment.
Given that Fox’s great weekly show “24” will probably be issued on DVD before next season for those who may have missed the series, I won’t give away the plot. But I do believe that President David Palmer deserves praise and commendation. Both his cabinet and the Pentagon wanted to bomb three Middle Eastern countries based on “irrefutable” proof that their regimes had conspired to detonate a weapon of mass destruction in the United States. Palmer’s position was: Our nation will not bomb any country as long as there is reasonable doubt as the guilt of their regimes. If only….
Finally, if you’d like to read a news story detailing one of my greatest personal achievements since the day I was born, here’s the link:
Tuesday, May 21, 2003
Referring to the mass graves found in Iraq that contain the bodies of people who rose up against the Iraqi government (based largely on the false assurance by President George H.W. Bush that U.S. forces would come to their assistance), Saddam Hussein’s former national police chief, General Hameed Othman, asked a provocative question: “If a person raises arms against the government, what I am supposed to do — salute him or meet him with the same force of arms?”
The question brings to mind, of course, America’s Civil War, a war in which the bodies of hundreds of thousands of Southern rebels fill both individual and mass graves in the United States, especially in the South.
As we all know, when faced with Southerners who raised arms against the federal government, Abraham Lincoln did not salute them but instead met them with force of arms.
It’s what all governments do when people employ violence against their own government.
Actually though, what makes all those Civil War graves so egregious is that unlike revolutions, such as the uprising in Iraq, the Southerners were not attempting to oust Lincoln from office and take over power in Washington. Instead, their goal was to leave Lincoln in power and simply depart the Union peacefully in order to establish a new nation.
What’s wrong with that?
And please, spare me the ex-post-facto bromide that we were all taught in our U.S. public schools — that Abraham Lincoln waged war against the South not to suppress peaceful secession but rather to free the slaves. If that’s the case, then why did Lincoln himself state at the very inception of the war that his reason for invading the South was to preserve the Union, not to free the slaves? Why would he lie about something that important?
Moreover, if freeing the slaves was Lincoln’s true secret objective, then wouldn’t it have been much better to simply let the South go and announce that any slave who escaped (or was brought) to the United States would not be repatriated to the Confederacy? Might that not have freed the slaves much faster, more efficiently, and without the cost of hundreds of thousands of American bodies filling individual and mass graves?
For that matter, if Lincoln was filling all those mass graves in order to free the slaves, then why did the Emancipation Proclamation apply only to Confederate-held territory and not U.S.-held territory?
In fact, for those who still operate under the delusion that the Civil War was waged to free the slaves rather than forcibly preserve the Union, ask yourself a discomforting question: Given that slavery no longer exists in the South, what would the federal government do in the face of an attempt by Southerners to peacefully secede today on the basis of simply not wanting to associate with the ruling claque in Washington? In the words of Gen. Othman, would Washington salute them or meet them with force of arms?
Monday, May 19, 2003
In his weekly radio address, President Bush cited the capture or killing of one-half of al-Qaeda’s senior operatives as proof that his war on terrorism is succeeding.
What could the president possibly be thinking? In the last several days, there have been major terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco — and both attacks occurred after the capture or killing of those senior al-Qaeda operatives and after the U.S. government’s invasion of Iraq, which was supposed to make the world safer from terrorism.
Have we not heard this type of “proof” for decades with respect to the federal government’s “war on drugs”? How many record drug busts have there been in the last 20 years? How many drug cartels have been smashed? How many drug lords have been arrested? How many drug gangs have been busted? How many drug sellers have been killed or incarcerated? Why, wasn’t the invasion of Panama and the arrest and incarceration of Panama’s president, Antonio Noriega, proof that the drug war was succeeding?
At the risk of belaboring the obvious, every time they’ve knocked out one drug leader, ten more have been there to take his place. To think that there is not an unlimited supply of potential drug sellers who are ready to take the place of those who have been taken out belies a lack of understanding of markets and reflects an innocent naivety about human nature.
The situation is the same with respect to terrorism against the United States. It wouldn’t matter whether the U.S. government killed or captured 100 percent of al-Qaeda’s senior operatives, including Osama bin Laden, because there are always going to be leaders (and followers) to take their place.
That’s why the issue of motivation with respect to terrorism is so critically important.
Are terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, against the United States — including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the U.S.S.Cole, the attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa, the September 11 attacks, and the recent attacks on U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia — motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values,” as U.S. officials have tried to maintain?
Or are they instead motivated by deep anger and resentment against the U.S. government’s morally bankrupt interventionist foreign policy?
If the latter, then the American people at least have a choice:
(1) Continue our government’s morally bankrupt foreign policy and experience all that comes with it — perpetual terrorism, perpetual war on terrorism, perpetual hatred and mistrust of foreigners, and perpetual attacks on the rights and freedoms of the American people by our own government; or
(2) Put a stop to our government’s morally bankrupt foreign policy and restore our Founders’ principles of a non-interventionist republic and once again experience all that comes with that paradigm — liberty, peace, prosperity, and friendships with the people of the world.
Saturday, May 17, 2003
Well, it seems that the Republicans might be caving in already with respect to the assault-weapons ban, which is set to automatically expire next year unless Congress votes to extend it.
According to the Washington Post, only two days after House Majority Leader Tom DeLay announced that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would let the law expire, Republican Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert was waffling. “I’m not ready to make that decision,” he announced.
Of course, no one has ever accused Republicans of standing by principle in the face of adverse public opinion. But there’s actually a silver lining here: If the American people ever decide to restore the principles of our Founders by embracing the libertarian philosophy and rejecting the socialist ideas of the Republicans (and, yes, the Democrats too), we can be certain that those bend-in-the-wind public officials who rule our land will bend and sway in the direction of libertarianism.
Friday, May 16, 2003
Questions about sanctions against Iraq:
1. If sanctions against the people of Iraq have not hurt the Iraqi people, as U.S. officials have been claiming for the 12 continuous years that the sanctions have been in existence, then why are U.S. officials now urgently arguing that that the sanctions should be immediately lifted in order to relieve the horrible suffering of the Iraqi people?
2. Given that the U.S. government, primarily through its military forces, has been the principal enforcer of sanctions against Iraq, why does it need the permission of the United Nations to stop enforcing the sanctions? That is, why can’t it just stop interdicting planes, ships, vehicles, and people that wish to enter Iraq? Isn’t the quickest way for the U.S. government to stop interfering with the free movement of goods, services, and people into the country simply to stop interfering with them rather than waiting for UN permission to stop interfering? The 19th-century libertarian Henry David Thoreau put this principle of non-interference well in his great essay Civil Disobedience:
Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
Dear Friends of FFF,
Alexa.com has just updated its website rankings. Please see the following web pages: The five most visited sites in the overall “libertarianism” category (The Future of Freedom Foundation: #5)
The five most visited sites in the libertarian “news and media” sub-category (Freedom Daily: #3)
The five most visited sites in the libertarian “Institutes” sub-category (The Future of Freedom Foundation: #1)
The five most visited sites in the Policy Institutes category.
(Alexa lists some libertarian organizations under “Institutes” and others under “Policy Institutes.”)
Moreover, of all the millions of websites on the Internet, our website — www.fff.org — is now ranked among the top 9,000 websites in terms of Internet traffic. Since July, our ranking has risen from 180,000 all the way to 8,502 as of today. (These numbers reflect ranking, not website hits. That is, Yahoo is #1, MSN is #2, Google is #3, etc.)
Please consider bringing FFF to the attention of more friends and acquaintances by sending them the link to our FFF Email Update along with a short note recommending that they take a look at our work and consider subscribing to our (free) FFF Email Update.
We shall continue doing our best to fulfill our mission of providing an uncompromising moral, philosophical, and economic case for the free society, with the hope and goal of getting our nation back on the right road — toward liberty, free markets, republic, and constitutionally limited government.
We hope our work is earning your continued confidence and financial support.
Thank you for your interest in our work, your support of our efforts, and for helping us to bring libertarian perspectives to the people of the world. We are very appreciative.
Jacob G. Hornberger
The Future of Freedom Foundation
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Not surprisingly, U.S. plans to install a free and democratic puppet regime in Iraq are encountering obstacles. The U.S. choice for Iraq’s new health minister, Dr. Ali Shnan al-Janabi, has resigned due to public outcry against his being a former member of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. (Questions: Doesn’t the position of “health minister” connote socialized medicine? Since when is socialism freedom?)
U.S. Army General Tommy Franks has decreed that the Baath Party is now dissolved. One can only assume that that means that the Baath Party is prohibited from participating in the new free and democratic Iraq. But what about former Baath Party members? Are they also prohibited from participating in freedom and democracy?
Keep in mind that 1.5 million of Iraq’s 24 million people belonged to the Baath Party even though “only” 25,000-50,000 were full-fledged members. That’s a lot of people to leave out of the democratic process, especially when Iraq’s Islamic Shiite population, which is not exactly enamored with the United States, already constitutes a substantial majority in the country. (Don’t forget: U.S. officials have decreed that the Iraqi people will not be permitted to establish an Islamic regime similar to that in Iran.)
How did Jalabi, who was the Number 3 man in the health ministry under Saddam Hussein, manage to be selected by U.S. officials as their puppet health minister? Well, we shouldn’t forget that Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party were important friends and allies of U.S. officials during the 1980s, even to the point that federal officials authorized the transfer to them of weapons of mass destruction. Thus, in a perverted sort of way, it might actually be old-home week in Iraq, with U.S. officials and (former) Baath Party officials renewing old friendships and acquaintanceships.
Also of importance, Jalabi signed a form prepared by U.S. officials in which former Baath Party members denounce and renounce the Baath Party and its socialist principles. That’s undoubtedly one of the reasons that U.S. officials defend Jalabi as man of “honesty” and “great courage” even while Iraqi doctors continued to describe him as “not clean.” (Unfortunately, Jalabi still hasn’t been perfectly purified of the Baath Party socialist ideology because he recently confessed, “You will find a lot of the ideology is very, very good.”)
Isn’t all this fascinating and fantastic? To establish freedom and democracy in a foreign country, all we have to do is invade and conquer the country, dissolve the ruler’s tyrannical political party, make the party members sign a form denouncing and renouncing their party’s socialist principles, and then reinstall them into office after they have been duly purified by signing the form. (Presumably the signers of the form will be subject to a perjury indictment for falsely denouncing or renouncing their former political party and its principles.)
How easy is that! Hey, we might learn something after all from all this freedom and democracy that U.S. officials are establishing in Iraq. Just think how much better our country would be if we were permitted to impose that kind of freedom and democracy on the Republican and Democratic parties.
Baath Party Gone for Good: US by Ted Anthony
Ba’athist Minister Forced Out as Doctors Rebel by Rory McCarthy
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
One of the common mistakes that Americans make is conflating America with the U.S. government. Actually, they are two separate and distinct concepts.
For example, in 1776 a small group of British citizens living in the British colonies took up arms against their own government because they loved their country. That’s why Nathan Hale, just before his own government (the British government) executed him, said, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”
Consider another example: During the early 1940s, some German citizens opposed their own government, even in the midst of war when thousands of German soldiers were being killed, because they loved their country.
Our Founders and ancestors clearly understood this non-conflation principle. In fact, that’s why they insisted on the passage of the first several amendments to the Constitution as a condition of approving the original Constitution. Those amendments protect the country from the wrongful actions of the federal government.
History is filled with instances in which a country’s government has acted contrary to the best interests of the country. That’s one major reason it’s vitally important that the citizenry of a country make an independent, reasoned decision as the morality and propriety of the actions of their government rather than blindly and unconditionally support the actions of the government in the name of loving their country.
Monday, May 12, 2003
A Survey for the American Masses1. Did you favor President Bush’s war on Iraq in order to:
(a) “disarm Saddam” of his weapons of mass destruction (WMD)?
(b) liberate the Iraqi people from tyranny?
(c) support the president and the troops?
2. If you favored the president’s war on Iraq in order to “disarm Saddam,” in what year did you begin to fear the existence of Saddam’s WMD? Why did you begin to have this fear?
3. If you favored the president’s war on Iraq in order to liberate the Iraqi people from tyranny, in what year did you decide that a war should be waged to free the Iraqi people from tyranny? What steps did you take to help the Iraqi people prior to President Bush’s war on Iraq?
4. If you favored the president’s war on Iraq because you were supporting the president or the troops, would you have supported the president if he had decided not to declare and wage war on Iraq?
5. From 1991 to the present, did you support the cruel and brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people? If not, what steps did you take to get the sanctions lifted?
6. Do you support President Bush’s decision to lift the cruel and brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people? If President Bush had instead decided to continue the cruel and brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people, would you have supported him?
7. From 1991 through the present, did you support the U.S. government’s decision to station U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia? If not, what steps did you take to get the troops withdrawn?
8. Do you support President Bush’s recent decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia? If the president had instead decided to keep U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, would you have supported him?
9. In your opinion, which three of the following four reasons were cited as the basis for the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Osama bin Laden’s declaration of war against the United States before the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington:
(a) Sanctions against Iraq?
(b) Stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia?
(c) Aid to Israel?
(d) Hatred for America’s freedom and values?
10. In your opinion, which of the following countries has acquired or is trying to acquire WMD:
(c) North Korea?
11. In your opinion, in which of the following countries are people living in tyranny:
(c) North Korea?
12. On which of the following countries do you advocate an immediate U.S. military attack and invasion, and please explain your answers in 25 words or less:
(a) Iran? Explain:
(b) Syria? Explain:
(c) North Korea? Explain:
(d) China? Explain:
(e) I support whatever my commander-in-chief decides to do. Explain:
End of Survey
Saturday, May 10, 2003
“There they go again.” Republicans, I mean.
According to an article in yesterday’s Washington Post, the (Republican-controlled) Senate Finance Committee has endorsed more than 30 tax increases on certain groups of people in order to help offset the loss of federal revenues from President Bush’s plan to reduce taxes on other groups of people.
That way, President Bush will be able to claim that he lowered taxes, and Americans, not understanding the nature of the scam, won’t have any reason to accuse him of breaking his “So help me God” pledge not to raise taxes, as his father did when he was president with his pledge of “Read my lips! No new taxes!”
Of course, the real issue is not the level of taxes but rather the level of federal spending because, one way or another, that federal spending must ultimately be funded with higher taxes, either directly (i.e., the federal income tax) or indirectly (i.e., through inflationary debasement of the currency).
How are Bush and the Republicans doing in the spending department?
Well, do you remember when Republicans used to say, “If only the Democrats weren’t preventing us from reducing spending, abolishing departments, and getting rid of regulations. If only we controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency, we would get government off the backs of the American people because we believe in free enterprise, private property, and limited government”?
Of course you remember that. Who could forget it?
Who in the world took that nonsense seriously? Certainly not any libertarians I know.
How are those Republican champions of fiscal conservatism doing now that they control the presidency and both houses of Congress?
Well, according to an article by Jane Chastain,
“In February, Chris Edwards, director of fiscal policy at the CATO Institute, ran the numbers. Mr. Bush’s budget for Fiscal Year 2004 called for an increase in discretionary outlays of 3.5 percent, which follows increases of 7.8 percent in FY 2003 and 13.1 percent in FY 2002.
“However, the budget that Mr. Bush presented for FY 2004 is far from a done deal. Traditionally, the president’s budget request is treated as a spending floor, not a ceiling. Also, the FY 2003 figures do not include that $70 billion defense supplemental and the supplemental bills that surely will follow before the close of the current fiscal year on October 1.”
Keep in mind that the spending increases are occuring in the midst of the biggest budget deficit in the history of our country–some $300 billion. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, that means that federal officials are spending $300 billion more than they are receiving–while raising spending even more!
In the meantime, while the Republicans are engaged in their tax-cut shenanigans and their spending binge, the value of the dollar (surprise, surprise) continues to plummet.
So much for those stalwart champions of “free enterprise, private property, limited government, and fiscal conservatism.” With friends like Republicans, who needs enemies? Certainly not the economy. And certainly not the American people.
Friday, May 9, 2003
1. An addendum to the Gun Control section of today’s FFF Email Update: Scott McPherson’s FFF article “Guns and Privacy” has been posted on the website of Gun Owners of America.
2. U.S. officials have expressed their gratitude to the Iraqi lawyer who helped Private Jessica Lynch escape Iraqi captivity by honoring him with asylum in the United States.
Hmmm. Let me see if I understand the reasoning here.
Country A and Country B are at war with each other. Following the dictates of his conscience, a citizen of Country A opposes his own government by helping the soldiers of Country B.
Country B says that the citizen of Country A is a good and honorable person for responding to the dictates of his conscience, especially by having the courage to oppose his own government during wartime by helping the soldiers of Country B. (“Mr. al-Rehaief should know Americans are grateful for his bravery and for his compassion … his heroism.”—Home Security Secretary Tom Ridge)
Well, what about a citizen of Country B who responds to the dictates of his conscience by opposing his government during war? Should the government of Country B consider that person to be a good and honorable citizen worthy of honor and gratitude or a no-good dirty traitor deserving of condemnation and even execution?
Or does the matter turn on which government is doing the judging — Country A or Country B — rather than on the existence of a character trait that is valuable independently of whether it is being exercised by a citizen of Country A or Country B?
In other words, if opposition to one’s own government during wartime for reasons of conscience reflects a valuable character trait per se, then thanking and honoring the Iraqi lawyer makes good sense.
If, on the other hand, opposition to one’s own government during wartime for reasons of conscience reflects a character flaw per se, then why is the Bush administration thanking and honoring the Iraqi lawyer for engaging in such conduct?
This raises another question: If honoring the Iraqi lawyer for following the dictates of his conscience and opposing his own government makes sense, then why are the Bush people displaying such enormous hostility toward U.S. citizens who did the same thing?
Indeed, at the same time that they’re honoring and thanking the Iraqi lawyer for having the courage of his convictions, why are President Bush and his minions fiercely criticizing, condemning, or punishing the citizens of France, Germany, Russia, Mexico, and many other countries for doing exactly what the Iraqi lawyer did — follow the dictates of their conscience by opposing President Bush’s war on Iraq?
- Gun Control, Patriotism, and Civil Disobedience (May 1991) by Jacob G. Hornberger
- The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent (January 1996) by Jacob G. Hornberger
- Patriotism Along the Border, Part 2 (January 1999) by Jacob G. Hornberger
- Mexico’s Fighting Irish by Gregg Thompson
Thursday, May 8, 2003
The April 28 issue of People magazine carried a story commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the federal massacre of the Branch Davidians inside their compound near Waco, Texas. (Sorry — you have to be a subscriber to People or an AOL subscriber to access the story on line.)You’ll recall that this was the episode in which the federal government went after the leader of the Branch Davidians, David Koresh, for suspicion of possessing illegal weapons. Although the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) could have arrested Koresh peacefully during one of his walks into Waco, they decided instead to orchestrate an elaborate media-covered raid on the Branch Davidian compound in the hope that Congress would increase the BATF’s budget. The feds entitled the raid “Operation Showtime.”
The raid went horribly bad, primarily because the Branch Davidians decided to defend themselves from the deadly force that the feds used to implement their raid. Six Branch Davidians and four federal agents were killed during Operation Showtime.
For the next 51 days, there was a highly publicized standoff. During that time, the federal government was under tremendous pressure from both the media and the America masses to “do something” about those “religious fanatics” who refused to surrender.
Thus, on April 19, 1993, federal agents, supported by the U.S. military, attacked the Branch Davidian compound, injecting for hours highly flammable CS gas, which has been banned by international rules of warfare, into the building where the Branch Davidians were situated and then firing pyrotechnic (incendiary) devices into the compound.
The entire place went up in flames, and the inferno killed 75 Davidians, including Koresh and 25 children.
After the Waco massacre, federal agents switched their rationale for the attack from “disarming Koresh” to “liberating” the Branch Davidian children from sex abuse.
According to People, one of the children who made it out, Daniel Martin, who was 6 at the time, doesn’t particularly like religion now but “has sweet memories of his childhood on the compound — shooting BB guns, swimming in the pool and the time he and some other boys got caught rigging a soda machine to dispense drinks for free.”
Another kid, Kevin Jones “still won’t sleep under a window. The memory of cowering in his compound room as bullets came through the thin walls and hearing his grandfather, who was hit, cry out in pain are still too sharp.” According to his mother, each year on the anniversary of the Waco massacre, Kevin and his two siblings “all went into a deep depression and cried.”
After the massacre, the feds charged the surviving Branch Davidian adults with the murder of the federal agents during the initial Operation Showtime phase. Unfortunately for the feds, however, the Constitution guaranteed that the defendants could have a jury, rather than a federal judge, decide whether they were guilty or not. The jury, which was composed of ordinary people, threw the feds out on their ear, holding that in the United States, people have the right to defend himself from the attempt by federal agents to kill them under color of law. The Branch Davidians were acquitted of murder but unfortunately convicted of technical gun violations, which enabled the judge to give them extremely high prison sentences.
For an overall perspective of the entire Waco tragedy, see the documentary
Waco: The Rules of Engagement, which received an Academy Award nomination.
Also, for an excellent analysis of what happened at Waco, see No Confidence: An Unofficial Account of the Waco Incident by Timothy Lynch (Cato Institute).
People also interviewed Bob Ricks, an FBI agent who was one of the leading federal figures in the entire operation. Referring to both the Waco massacre and Timothy McVeigh’s retaliatory attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City one year later, Ricks said, “It was such a shame that so much innocent life had to die because of the warped beliefs of one person.” Presumably Ricks was referring to Koresh rather than Janet Reno, who was serving as U.S. Attorney General during the attack, or to Bill Clinton, who was president at the time.
While Ricks is quick to condemn “warped beliefs,” he might also want to reflect on what many normal people would consider to be “warped actions” committed by federal agents during the Waco episode, including but certainly not limited to:
(1) Federal agents pulling down their pants and their underpants and exposing their behinds to both Branch Davidian adults and children within the compound;
(2) Playing a tape of rabbits screaming as they were being killed over loudspeakers that federal agents had aimed at the Branch Davidian compound;
(3) Playing a song by Nancy Sinatra over the same loudspeakers that contained the refrain, “These boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do. These boots will walk all over you”;
(4) Using a U.S. military tank, which Reno referred to as a “good rent-a-car,” to inject deadly gas into the compound, knowing that gas masks would not fit the faces of the Branch Davidian children;
(5) Falsely claiming that federal agents were not assaulting the compound while they were bashing down walls and injecting the deadly gas inside into the building where the Branch Davidians, including the children, were located;
(6) Falsely denying that the feds had fired pyrotechnic devices into the compound;
(7) Prohibiting fire engines from entering the compound to try to put out the fire and save the lives of the Branch Davidians, including the children;
(8) Raising the American flag up the Branch Davidian flagpole after the U.S. government’s victory over the Branch Davidians;
(9) Immediately bulldozing the entire crime scene so that no independent investigation could be made, under the guise of health concerns.
I was listening to talk radio at the time the massacre took place. I couldn’t believe what I heard: Virtually every caller was saying the same thing, “Good riddance. They got what they deserved. They were all religious weirdoes. The feds did the right thing.” That was the initial attitude of the American masses.
Gradually, however, as the American people began reflecting on the Waco massacre, they began realizing that it was actually a horrific abuse of governmental power — that it was morally wrong for the federal government to gas its own people and to pre-judge and punish people who were suspected of committing a crime. They began to realize that the federal massacre at Waco — as well as the federal killings at Ruby, Ridge, Idaho, and the subsequent perjury and obstruction of justice by federal officials in the trial of Randy Weaver — were simply reflections of a much deeper problem that afflicts our nation.
The following articles have been published by The Future of Freedom Foundation:
- Terrorism: Public and Private by Jacob G. Hornberger (June 1995)
- The Oklahoma Tragedy and the Mass Media by Richard M. Ebeling (June 1995)
- Kill a Boy, Get a Medal by James Bovard (June 1996)
- The Hypocritical War on Terrorism by James Bovard (December 1996)
- The Justice Department’s Other Criminal Cover-up by James Bovard (January 1998)
- The Fires of Waco are Still Burning by James Bovard (March 1998)
- Loving the Children by Jacob G. Hornberger (March 1998)
- Loving Your Country and Hating Your Government by Jacob G. Hornberger (September 1999)
- Waco: Lies, Death, and Cover-Ups by Jacob G. Hornberger (November 1999)
- The Re-Igniting of Waco by James Bovard (February 2000)
- McVeigh Isn’t the Only One Who Doesn’t Care by Jacob G. Hornberger (May 2001)
- The Oklahoma City Bombing by Jacob G. Hornberger (May 2001)
- The Latest Waco Fireball by James Bovard (July 2001)
- Senate Farce: Reining in the FBI by James Bovard (September 2001)
- Ruby Ridge: The Coverup Continues by James Bovard (November 2001)
Wednesday, May 7, 2003
1. Sheldon Richman went on Neil Cavuto’s show on Fox News yesterday afternoon to criticize the boycott of French products and services. If you saw the show, I think you’ll agree that Sheldon was a real credit to FEE, FFF, and the entire libertarian movement. One of the major points Sheldon emphasized was that with boycotts, we need to keep in mind that we are trying to punish real live individual persons because of the policies of their government — policies with which the individual French citizen might even disagree.2. Speaking of the French, I began French lessons last night in Washington. The teacher, Florence, was a very nice and courteous French woman in her mid-30s who has lived in the United States for about seven years. Since she hasn’t seen her family in more than a year, she plans to spend the month of August back in France. Her principal job is managing her own website design company in Washington and her secondary job is playing the violin in the Baltimore Opera (which is one of the best in the country). She told us that the reason she teaches French (at night) is simply because she loves doing so.
For some reason, in the middle of the class I thought of President Bush and the American masses and wondered if I shouldn’t immediately stand up and announce,
“Florence, the truth is that I hate you because you are a French citizen and because your president refused to support my president’s war in Iraq. And I want to punish you and hurt you as much as I can. I demand my money back for this course so that I can deprive you of income, which will make it more difficult for you to buy a plane ticket to return to France to visit your family.
“If you have children and if they are French citizens too, I hate them also and I want to hurt them by making it more difficult for you to provide for them, just like we did to the children of Iraq with our economic sanctions.
“It doesn’t matter to me that I no longer will have the benefit of your teaching me French. For that matter, I’m going to write the Baltimore Opera to tell them that I’m going to boycott all its performances until they fire you. And I’m going to tell everyone I know never to use your website services, in the hope of pushing you into bankruptcy.
“All that matters to me is to be able to hate you and punish you and all the other people in the world whose leader refused to support my president’s war against Iraq, including the French, Germans, Catholics, Muslims, Mexicans, Belgians, and all the rest. In fact, every time I go to church I pray that God will show me new ways to hate and punish people like you — people who have the temerity to live under a president who refuses to support my president’s wars.
“You should have been an American, Florence, because then I would like you and I would continue to take your classes and attend your operas and recommend people to your website business … well, unless as an American you also opposed our president’s war, in which case I would hate you too and do my best to persuade people not to buy your products and services, in the hope of destroying you as well.”
Please don’t report me to Homeland Security, but I confess that I failed to say these things at my French class last night. Instead, when Florence asked each of us to tell a little about ourselves, I smiled and said, “Je etudier le Franceis pour une protestation contre la idiocie du mon government.” Florence smiled (partly at my bad French, no doubt) and quietly responded, “Merci, Jacob.”
Tuesday, May 6, 2003
Yesterday, President Bush issued a statement in celebration of Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo (May 5) anniversary. The president used the opportunity to hail the contribution, both economically and culturally, that Mexican immigrants have made to the United States.
The Washington Post observed that unlike his previous two statements in honor of the holiday, the president omitted mentioning Mexico’s president, Vicente Fox, which is undoubtedly part of the administration’s plan to punish foreign countries that refused to support the U.S. government’s war on Iraq.
Contrary to popular opinion, Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo anniversary does not celebrate Mexican Independence Day. The latter is commemorated on September 16 in honor of Miguel Hidalgo’s famous “grito” (“cry”) which began Mexico’s war for independence from the Spanish Empire in 1810.
The Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican army’s defeat of French forces 50 years later at the battle of Puebla, Mexico, in 1862.
Thus, given that U.S. officials are focusing the brunt of their punishment for opposing their war on Iraq on the French people, it’s odd that the president didn’t take the opportunity yesterday to explain the true meaning of the Cinco de Mayo celebration — that is, the smashing of the French army at that battle. Perhaps the reason the president didn’t use the opportunity to engage in a bit more French-bashing was that Americans might begin to ask what in the heck France was doing invading Mexico in the first place.
Monday, May 5, 2003
During the current interlude between wars, we really ought to clear up this thing about needing to support our “commander-in-chief” during wartime. If you’re in the military, President Bush is your commander-in-chief. If you’re not in the military, he’s not your commander-in-chief but instead your president. And as president, he’s not our boss and we are not his servants. Instead, in our role as citizens, we are his boss, and in his role as a public official, he’s our servant. The distinction is important because all too many Americans, especially military veterans, feel the urge during wartime to click their heels, salute, and blindly support and obey whatever decisions the president’s makes rather than use reason and conscience to determine whether those decisions are moral, proper, and in the best interests of the country.
Saturday, May 3, 2003
In April 2001, I wrote an article entitled “VMI on the Dole,” which addressed the ACLU’s attempt to stop VMI from conducting a prayer at the evening meals for the corps of cadets.
Last Tuesday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of the district court in favor of the ACLU position. According to the Washington Post,
A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit painted the issue in the context of an overall educational system at VMI that the court said emphasizes “obedience and conformity.” “In this context,” the court said, “VMI’s cadets are plainly coerced into participating in a religious exercise.”
(See “Obedience to Orders” by Jacob G. Hornberger, which compares “obedience and conformity” at VMI and the U.S. military academies.)
In the wake of the court’s decision, conservatives are likely to begin firing their usual missives about how the federal judiciary is anti-religion, anti-God, and anti-moral values. But they’ll be missing (or, more accurately, refusing to confront) the central issue in the VMI case.
Several years ago, the VMI Board of Visitors was presented a unique opportunity: to remove VMI entirely from the state funding system and go entirely private, relying on donations and tuitions for its operation.
The reason that the issue arose was because of the federal government’s insistence that VMI admit women to the school. VMI’s position was that it should be free to manage its own affairs, including continuing the school’s long male-only tradition. The government’s position was that as long as VMI accepted state funds, it could not discriminate against women under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
Many VMI alumni, myself included, advocated that VMI go totally private in order to avoid federal control over its operations. Libertarian VMI alumni made the additional argument that it’s morally wrong for VMI to use the coercive apparatus of the state to plunder the people of Virginia. We pointed out that the only moral course would be to get off the dole and go entirely private and independent, relying not on coerced support but instead only on voluntary support, such as Hillsdale College in Michigan does.
Unfortunately, the Board of Visitors voted to remain on the dole, and that’s why it was required to admit women to the school.
But now, assuming that the appellate court decision is upheld, the school-prayer decision has placed the VMI Board of Visitors in a much more serious moral quandary. If the school decides to remove itself from the state dole, it will be free to conduct prayer services for the students. If it remains on the dole, it will not.
The moral issue now facing VMI is: On which does VMI place a higher value — sharing religious principles with its students or remaining on the state educational welfare dole? Thus, VMI once again is presented with a unique opportunity: to lead the nation away from educational socialism and governmental dependency and toward educational liberty and independence.
Friday, May 2, 2003
In recent days, a spate of articles has appeared inquiring whether President Bush knowingly lied with respect to the existence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and with respect to an imminent threat of an Iraqi attack on the United States with such weapons:
- Bush’s WMD Search: No Full Speed Ahead
- Lies About Iraq’s Weapons Are Past Expiration Date
- Crying Wolf
- Still Looking for Hussein’s Destructive Weaponry
- Missing in Action: Truth
- Backpedaling on Iraqi Weapons
- Weapons of Mass Destruction Were a Fantasy from the Start
- Where Are They, Mr. President?
- Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Distraction? Skeptics Eye War Rationale
- Tell the Truth on Weapons
- Are We Dumb or Just Numb?
- An Insult to British Intelligence
- Baghdad Bait and Switch
- Did Our Leaders Lie to Us? Do We Even Care?
- Matters of Emphasis
- Did Bush Deceive Us in His Rush to War?
- Top Iraqi Scientists Deny Saddam Had WMD’s
- Anthrax, Chemicals and Nerve Gas: Who Is Lying?
- So Where Are They, Mr. Blair?
- Phantom WMDs
- Those Weapons Had Better Be There
- Weapons of Mass Delusion
- Bush: Iraq’s WMD May Have Been Destroyed
- The Mirage of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction
- To Tell the Truth is Not George W. Bush’s Game
- Did the Case for War Hold Up?
- Vilified Weapons Inspectors May Have Got It Right
It’s entirely possible, of course, that Bush’s inspectors might yet find Saddam Hussein’s purported weapons of mass destruction, but that’s not really the issue. After all, can a war based on a deliberate lie, including the death and destruction associated with the war, be morally justified after the fact and on the basis of a lucky find?Bush needs to explain clearly why it was necessary to immediately kick the UN inspectors out of Iraq and “disarm Saddam” now and why the United States was under such imminent threat of attack from Iraq as to justify an immediate invasion. Bush needs to document clearly that whatever the basis for his WMD claim and his “imminent attack” claim, he was not knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately lying the nation into war for the purpose of simply achieving a “regime change” in Iraq.On the eve of war, American GIs asked military chaplains moral and religious questions regarding the killing of people in this war. The issue had to be of particular importance to Catholic soldiers, given that the Pope had made it clear that anyone who waged this war would ultimately have to answer to God for the unjust killings that the war would produce.According to a media account I read, some of the chaplains told the soldiers that they had the right to assume that the president was telling the truth, thereby attempting to relieve them of any moral responsibility for the intentional killing of Iraqi soldiers and accidental killing of Iraqi civilians.I wonder what those chaplains are thinking now. I wonder what those soldiers are thinking now.President Bush owes all Americans a full explanation, but he especially owes it to those people who surrendered their reason and their conscience to the state in blind faith that the president was telling the truth.
Perhaps the reason that the members of Congress are remaining silent on the issue is because it tragically reflects their disastrous decision not to require the president to seek a congressional declaration of war before waging his war against Iraq. In fact, that’s the reason that the power to declare war was placed in the hands of the Congress, rather than the president — to ensure that the nation did not go to war for ill reasons.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, all too many Republicans and Bush supporters are remaining quiet about the issue or suggesting that “it’s time to move on.” It’s just one more reflection of the moral bankruptcy that has long characterized the conservative movement.
After all, it wasn’t very long ago that conservatives were railing against President Clinton for lying about sex, even going so far as to impeach him for such misconduct. It wasn’t politics, conservatives assured us, but rather their deep and profound commitment to moral principles that forced them to go after Clinton.
Well, it seems that that deep and profound commitment to moral principles falls by the wayside when it comes to what apparently is a relatively unimportant issue such as war, which entails the deaths and injuries of thousands of innocent people.
Of course, we saw this same sort of “let’s move on” attitude after the Waco massacre, another operation in which the feds pulled a famous switcheroo at the last minute — from having to immediately “disarm” David Koresch (another enemy who was labeled as Adolf Hitler) of dangerous weapons to having to “liberate” the Branch Davidian children from sex abuse.
But it was wrong to just “move on” from the Waco massacre, and it will be wrong to just “move on” from President Bush’s war on Iraq. While there can be legitimate differences over government policy, and while there can be honest mistakes made by public officials in the course of making policy, it is incumbent on the American people to ensure that policy is never based on deliberate deception on the part of our public officials, especially policy as grave as war.
Would President Bush lie about something as important as war? I would like to think not, but I’m also not unmindful of the fact that some 30 years ago another tall Texan — Lyndon Baines Johnson — knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately lied with respect to the fake and false attack at the Gulf of Tonkin, which achieved Johnson’s goal of full U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
As I detail in my accompanying article posted today, “Joining the Ranks of Aggressor Nations,” I don’t believe that Bush’s war can be morally justified even with an ex post facto discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But while there can be legitimate disagreement over that issue, no one can legitimately deny that war based on deliberate deception is morally unjustifiable.
Thursday, May 1, 2003
Noted television commentator Bill O’Reilly, one of America’s leading conservative lights, recently let loose one of the nastiest comments that a person could possibly make, about a group of African-American boys from Washington D.C. Here’s what O’Reilly said, which was included in the notable quotes section of the April 21-27 issue of Time magazine:
“Does anyone know where The Best Men are? I hope they’re not in the parking lot stealing our hubcaps.” –Bill O’Reilly, political commentator, referring to an African-American boys’ group that had just performed at a benefit in Washington, D.C. (Time magazine, April 21-27, 2003)
Would you like to know a little bit about the boys that Mr. Conservative slammed? The Best Men’s Program is part of the Best Friends Foundation, which was founded in 1987 and whose mission is to “provide a youth development program with a character building curriculum for girls in grades 5-12 with messages of abstinence from sex, drugs and alcohol.”
Two years ago, the foundation established its “Best Men Program,” whose mission is:
The program is a youth-development program with a character-building curriculum for adolescent boys. Our program challenges students from the 6th through the 12th grades to abstain from socially unacceptable violent behavior, sexual activity, and drug and alcohol use. Best Men provides a developmentally sound curriculum in an educational setting that promotes discipline, respect, integrity, compassion, courage, and leadership via eight curriculum components.
Now, please take a look at essays entitled “What Best Men Means to Me!” written by some of the boys who have participated in the Best Men Program , along with their photographs.
One pathetic part of this type of crud is the hypocrisy surrounding the modern-day abandonment by conservatives of free-market principles in favor of socialistic welfare-state programs, which have proven to be so destructive to inner-city residents, in the hopes of winning the African-American vote: “Oh, please, please, please believe us — we conservatives really do love the poor, the needy, and disadvantaged. Please vote for us.”
The hypocrisy is, of course, extended overseas where, for example, conservatives say, “Oh, please, please, please believe us: the reason we invaded Iraq is that we love the Iraqi people and wanted to free them from tyranny,” ignoring the conscious indifference by conservatives to the consequences of the cruel and brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people that they supported for 12 years, which killed an estimated 500,000 of their children.”
Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.