Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, November 2003

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Saturday, November 29, 2003

The federal government has shut down one of the top television networks in Iraq for broadcasting a tape by Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, federal officials are having to reconsider their plan to “turn over” Iraq to the Iraqis because the top Shiite leader in Iraq has objected that the plan denies ordinary Iraqi citizens the democratic right to vote in a national election.

In the meantime, after more than 6 months of what federal officials describe as occupational “stability” in Iraq, military officials continue to conduct warrantless raids on homes and businesses, conduct warrantless searches of men, women, and children, arrest people without warrants, incarcerate people indefinitely without trials, deny people due process of law, and summarily execute people who are caught violating gun-control edicts — all with the hope that the Iraqis will finally stop resisting the foreign occupation of their country through the killing of an American soldier a day.

Is all that the “freedom” and “democracy” for which U.S. officials are sacrificing our soldiers? Is it really worth even one American life? Is it really worth more terrorist attacks here at home? Is it really worth the continuous federal assaults on our Constitution and our civil liberties? Is it really worth the serious risk to our economic security, given the unrestrained federal spending binge on which U.S. officials have now embarked?

Friday, November 28, 2003

With the passage of the Medicare bill, Republicans and Democrats have taken their drunken spending binge to new uncontrolled levels. Do you remember when these people used to say, “We bankrupted and brought down the Soviet Union by making its government spend money madly”? Yet, when you ask them why the same principle doesn’t apply to their mad spending binge here in America, they respond, “Oh, it’s different with America. Here, federal spending is a wonderful benefit, producing jobs and creating prosperity.” Sure, and if a severe economic crisis, including a run on the dollar, strikes, you can rest assured that federal politicians and bureacrats will blame it on the “terrorists” or the “speculators” or even America’s “free-enterprise system” rather than on their own profligate ways.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Back in the 1960s, Republicans ardently opposed the passage of Medicare on three primary grounds:

(1) that as a socialist program (it exists in Cuba), Medicare is founded on the immoral principle of using the coercive power of the state to take money from one person in order to give it to another person;

(2) that Medicare would inexorably lead to increasing control over health care because the problems that would inevitably arise from government intervention would inevitably result in calls for new interventions until government control became complete;

(3)That government involvement in health care would ultimately destroy the finest free-market health care system in the world.

Who can doubt that those Republicans have been proven correct on all three counts? Yet, with the exception of such stalwart defenders of the free market as Texas Congressman Ron Paul, it is virtually impossible to distinguish modern-day Republicans from their socialist counterparts in, say, Cuba, where national health care is considered a “right” for everyone in society. (Recall Republican Colin Powell’s praise of Castro’s socialist health care system.)

We can only hope that as more and more Americans come to understand that the federal government lies at the root of their health care woes, they will help move our country in a different direction — away from the Republican-Democrat paradigm of socialized medicine and toward the free-market principles that once produced the finest health-care system in the world. That, of course, would entail the repeal, not the reform, of all socialist interventions into health care, including Medicare.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Yesterday, a jury handed down the death penalty for terrorist John Allen Mohammad, after finding him guilty in a state court in Virginia. During the trial, Mohammad, who was one of the terrorist snipers who killed several people in the DC area last year, was accorded the right to an attorney, the right to cross-examine witnesses against him, the right to present witnesses on his own behalf, the right not to incriminate himself, and all the rights that come with the age-old concept of due process of law.

Undoubtedly there are those, including officials in the Pentagon, who would have preferred to treat Mohammad as they are treating other accused terrorists — by simply killing him without a trial (such as firing a missile at the car in which he was apprehended), or by placing them before Pentagon tribunals with military personnel, rather than ordinary citizens, serving as judges and juries, or by sending him to Guantanamo Bay, or by simply incarcerating him in a South Carolina military brig for the rest of his life without a trial and without being able to ever again speak to family, friends, or attorney (i.e., Padilla, Hamdi, etc.).

Ever since our nation was founded in 1787, one of the distinguishing characteristics of our way of life has been the system of criminal justice, with its constitutional guarantees of rights that stretch back all the way to Magna Carta in 1215. As the Framers understood so well, jury trials and due process of law are among the essential prerequisites for a free society. The trial of terrorist John Allen Mohammad in a civilian court before a civilian judge and a jury of his peers is a confirmation of the rights and freedoms of all of the American people.

Thus, the American people would do well to continue resisting the Pentagon’s attempts to take over our criminal-justice system under the guise of waging the government’s “war on terrorism.” Not only would it constitute a fundamental reordering of our constitutional order, it also would constitute a direct assault on rights and liberties of the American people that stretch back centuries.

Monday, November 24, 2003

The U.S. government’s Iraqi adventure may have resulted in the discovery of a perfect formula for the government’s imperial foreign policy: the appointment of an American citizen to serve as ambassador to the United States. That’s right — I didn’t say an American to serve as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. I said an American to serve as Iraqi ambassador to the United States. Just think what that new formula could do for the U.S. Empire — invading countries and installing puppet councils and regimes which then appoint U.S. citizens to represent the interests of the invaded country. Did the Roman Empire, British Empire, Soviet Empire, or even the Empire in “Star Wars” go that far?

Saturday, November 22, 2003

On the 40th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, many Americans remain convinced that there was a conspiracy to murder the president, and the History Channel’s series on the Kennedy assassination certainly raises disturbing questions regarding the issue. One thing is fairly certain though: After the assassination, if U.S. officials had not conspired to suppress investigations into whether there were other people who shot at the president and had not conspired to keep the government’s investigative files into the assassination secret from the American people, the central issues of who killed Kennedy and who covered it up would probably have been long settled by now.

Friday, November 21, 2003

The Bush administration refuses to lift its protectionist tariffs on steel and has now imposed restrictions on the importation of women’s wear from China. One of the main reasons that people all over the world hate the U.S. government is because of the manifest hypocrisy (in addition to the arrogance) of U.S. officials. Lecturing to the world about how they need to adopt America’s “free enterprise” policies while issuing presidential edicts expanding U.S. protectionism is just one more example of that hypocrisy.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

If you haven’t watched the History Channel’s documentaries on the Kennedy assassination, I highly recommend them. But be prepared for some very discomforting questions raised by this series. The program consists of four segments that were done a few years ago and then three new segments.

As you watch how the investigation of the assassination was conducted, one big question naturally arises: Why was the government’s approach to the Kennedy assassination totally different from its approach to the 9/11 terrorist attacks? After the 9/11 attacks, the government pulled out all the stops to go after every person who was conceivably involved in those attacks. Yet, in the Kennedy assassination it was the exact opposite: the government quickly concluded that Oswald was a lone assassin and then did everything it could to shut down the investigation into whether there were other shooters.

One of the new segments is very intriguing — it details the story of a woman who claims to have worked with Oswald in New Orleans on an anti-Castro project to develop a cancer virus to kill Fidel Castro. The woman was 19 at the time and Oswald was 24 and, according to her, they had an affair with each other. If what she claims is true about working with Oswald on that project, then obviously that raises a disturbing question: If Oswald, a former Marine, was actually working on a government project to kill Castro, then why would he be portraying himself as a Marxist sympathizer, publicly handing out pro-Castro leaflets on New Orleans streets?

One of the intriguing aspects of the old segments involves the statements of the surgeons at Parkland Hospital in Dallas who treated Kennedy. These men are obviously very reputable and competent Dallas surgeons. They adamantly maintain that the back of Kennedy’s head was blown away, which would indicate that the bullet entered his head from the front. Although Texas law required that an autopsy be conducted in Texas, the Secret Service threatened the hospital personnel and forced them to release the body so that they could return it to Washington for an autopsy at Bethesda Naval military hospital. When the government ultimately released what it claimed to be autopsy photos of Kennedy’s head, the back of the head was intact. When you watch that particular segment of the series, pay particular attention to the statement of the ambulance driver who was inside the autopsy room at Bethesda Naval Hospital — he describes sinister-looking men in suits directing the autopsy, which was being conducted by two military physicians who had had virtually no experience in conducting autopsies.

In one of the new segments, pay close attention to the matter of the presidential limousine, including a statement by a longtime employee of Ford Motor Company in Detroit, where the government took the limo immediately after the assassination, in which he describes a bullet hole in the windshield of the limo (indicating a shot from the front) before the government ordered the windshield to be destroyed.

All of these segments – both the old ones and the new ones – are truly worth watching or setting your VCR for. Here is the History Channel schedule for the rest of the week (Eastern Time):

Friday, November 21
8:00 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Guilty Men” (new segment)
9:00 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Smoking Guns (new segment)
10:00 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Love Affair (new segment)

Saturday, November 22
12:00 a.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Guilty Men” (new segment)
1:00 a.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Smoking Guns (new segment)
2:00 a.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Love Affair (new segment)

12:30 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Coup D’Etat (old segment)
1:30 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Forces of Darkness (old segment)
2:30 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Cover-Up (old segment)
3:30 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Patsy (old segment)
4:30 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Witnesses (new segment)
5:30 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Love Affair (new segment)
6:30 p.m. “The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Guilty Men (new segment)

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

One of the newest rationales on which President Bush is relying to justify his invasion and occupation of Iraq is to fight the “war on terrorism.” One big problem, Mr. President: It’s the U.S. government’s morally bankrupt foreign policy in the Middle East, including the invasion and occupation of Iraq, that are the source of the anger and hatred that has produced — and will continue to produce — the terrorism. Thus, continued occupation of Iraq to fight terrorism actually guarantees continued terrorism, not only in Iraq but most likely here at home too. Of course, continued terrorism means continued crisis, continued power for the feds, continued assaults on civil liberties, and continued high budgets for the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex. It also means continued deaths of U.S. soldiers, reflecting the tragic and discomforting fact that U.S. officials place a higher value on their morally bankrupt foreign policy, including the installation of a puppet regime in Iraq, than they do on the lives of the troops they purport to support.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

As our longtime supporters know, FFF has been at the forefront of defending civil liberties, especially in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, especially with articles on Moussaoui, Padilla, Hamdi, Guantanamo, etc.

Our point, of course, has been that if we permit the government to suspend the Constitution in cases involving the most reviled of criminal defendants, then actually nobody is safe from the tyranny of our own government. A good analogy is with respect to free speech: The true test of a free society is not whether decent, respectable, and acceptable speech is punishable by the state but rather whether indecent, disrespectable, and unpopular speech is punishable by the state.

Thus, while we still do not know how the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will rule in the Padilla case, it was very gratifying to read the remarks of two of the justices during the oral arguments in the case—Justices Barrington D. Parker and Rosemary S. Pooler, both of whom were appointed by President Clinton.

If the courts accepted the government’s argument that the president should have the unfettered power to take U.S. citizens into indefinite custody and deny them due process of law, habeas corpus, and the right to speak to an attorney (as they’re doing to fight terrorism in Iraq), Justice Parker said, “We would be effecting a sea change in the constitutional life of this country.”

Justice Pooler added, “As terrible as 9/11 was, it didn’t repeal the Constitution.”

Unfortunately, the third justice, Richard C. Wesley, who was appointed by the current President Bush, appeared less sympathetic to the importance of civil liberties and, according to the New York Times, “at times sparred with the other judges, suggesting that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were different from other conflicts. ‘This happened on our soil,’ Judge Wesley said.”

Monday, November 17, 2003

U.S. imperial proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said yesterday that most Iraqis are pleased with the U.S. occupation and reconstruction of their country. I wonder if the British occupiers of Iraq in the early part of the 20th century said the same thing, especially after they killed some 100,00 Iraqis to enforce their military rule. Indeed, I wonder if the feds said the same thing about Southerners when U.S. troops occupied the South during the 10-year period of Reconstruction after the War Between the States.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

In what can only be described as a desperate attempt to exit Iraq before the 2004 presidential election, the Bush administration has announced its newest plan for transferring sovereignty over Iraq — by delegating power to a provisional government chosen in town meetings across the country. In other words, no more constitution and no more national elections — those ideas have now been discarded. Unfortunately, however, ordinary Iraqis might not be enamored with President Bush’s newest plan to come up with a puppet regime that will join the “coalition of the willing.” According to today’s Washington Post,

“While there appears to be broad public support for a fast handover of sovereignty, there also is a strong desire among many Iraqis to choose their new leaders — even interim ones — through an election. It remains unclear whether town meetings, where participation likely would be restricted to people deemed to be community leaders, would be regarded as legitimate.” So, there you have it — democracy itself, which has been the latest rationale for illegally attacking and occupying Iraq — is now being thrown into the trash heap as well. Maybe they’ll start resorting to Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction again to justify their deadly, destructive, and illegal invasion and occupation of a sovereign and independent country.

Friday, November 14, 2003

The new Vietnam War scandal regarding hundreds of innocent civilians murdered by U.S. troops that the Toledo Blade recently uncovered has some valuable lessons for the American people, especially with respect to the perpetual-war policy that the U.S. government has now implemented as part and parcel of its morally bankrupt foreign policy:

1. In addition to the death, destruction, and economic instability that war inevitably brings, we must also consider the psychological consequences on individual soldiers, often causing them to engage in unbelievably bizarre actions, including cold-blooded murder of defenseless women and children. It’s just another reason that our government’s foreign policy, which entails “perpetual war for freedom and democracy” and optional wars of aggression against sovereign and independent regimes, is so morally bankrupt. It’s also another reason that the principle of “supporting the troops” by blindly supporting any government decision to send them into war is so patently perverted and perverse.

2. The Pentagon’s successful cover-up of this massacre for almost 25 years shows that the U.S. government can be very successful in keeping secrets from the American people and will do so, especially if keeping the secret is in the interest of ever-increasing military budgets.

3. The scandal also shows that the repeated assertion that the U.S. government can be trusted to prosecute war crimes by U.S. soldiers is just one more lie to add to all the others emitted by federal officials.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

In the words of Ronald Reagan, there they go again! The Senate and the House have approved the imposition of economic sanctions against another country — this time, Syria. Don’t these people (the feds) ever learn anything from experience? Obviously the horrific anger and hatred generated among the Arab community prior to the 9/11 attacks by 12 years of the cruel and brutal sanctions against Iraq weren’t enough. Ironically, the feds have imposed these new sanctions to encourage the Syrian government to fight terrorism. The big problem, of course, is that it’s the U.S. government’s morally bankrupt foreign policy in the Middle East — including its support of brutal dictators, the Persian Gulf intervention in 1991, the 12-year embargo against Iraq, the illegal no-fly zones, the troops in Saudi Arabia, the unconditional military and financial support of Israel, the invasion and war of aggression and occupation of Iraq — that produces the anger and hatred in the first place, which then leads to terrorism, which then leads to bigger budgets for the Pentagon, larger deficits, and more assaults on civil liberties. How can you stop terrorism when you continue embracing the morally bankrupt foreign policy that generates the anger and hatred that leads people to commit terrorist acts? How can the members of Congress not realize this?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

A Moscow court has refused oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s request for bail pending his trial for economic crimes. The presiding judge closed the bail hearing to the public on the ground that secrecy was necessary to protect the ongoing investigation. An associate of Khordorkovsky said, “It’s like in Soviet times. Everyone gets in line.” U.S. Justice Department officials must be green with envy, given that they undoubtedly would love to apply their tactics in American terrorist cases (i.e., secret hearings, indefinite detentions, Moussaoui, Padilla, Hamdi, etc.) to those in American economic-crimes cases as well (i.e., Martha Stewart, Michael Milkin, Leona Helmsley, Sam Waksal, etc.) We can only hope that our federal judges, especially those on our Supreme Court, avoid the temptation to also “get in line” and bring Soviet times here as well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Economic sanctions, which target the citizenry of a nation as way to influence a foreign ruler or even oust him from office, have long been an important tool of the federal government’s morally bankrupt foreign policy. Not only have sanctions helped to produce widespread death and destruction in such countries as Iraq and Cuba, they have also failed to achieve their goal. Of course, the position of U.S. officials is that the foreign ruler is the one who is ultimately responsible for the adverse effects of sanctions because if he really cared about his people, he’d resign in favor of someone more palatable to U.S. officials.

Well, we’ll soon have a new opportunity to see how sanctions affect a ruler and his wrongful conduct, only this time the one imposing the sanctions is the European Union and the ruler is President George W. Bush. Trying to garner favor with the U.S. steel industry as a prelude to his reelection campaign, the president, who unfortunately believes in the morally bankrupt and economically damaging philosophy of protectionism, imposed protectionist steel barriers on foreign steel producers, an action that of course harms American consumers. The World Trade Organization has ruled against President Bush’s protectionist measures, which now entitles the EU to impose punitive sanctions on the United States.

Will the president put the economic well being of the American people ahead of national governmental pride and petty politics? Or will he continue harming American consumers with protectionism and, now, with the prospect of economic sanctions from the European Union? Will our ruler do the right thing by abolishing his immoral, damaging, and highly hypocritical protectionist measures, even if that means buckling under the threat of the EU sanctions?

Monday, November 10, 2003

National Public Radio has received a $100 million bequest from the estate of philanthropist Joan B. Kroc, which is described by NPR as “the largest monetary gift ever received by an American cultural institution.” Hopefully this will influence Congress to stop using the coercive power of the government to plunder and loot the taxpayers in order to partially fund NPR’s operations. After all, doesn’t Kroc’s bequest make it difficult for those who advocate socialist redistribution of wealth to argue that “we’ve got to force people to be good and caring because they just won’t do it voluntarily”?

Saturday, November 8, 2003

During a month in which the rate of dead American soldiers in occupied Iraq is setting a new record, President Bush has decided to now justify his invasion and war of aggression against Iraq not on the much-vaunted “weapons of mass destruction” which he used to scare the American people half to death with the prospect of an imminent attack on the United States by Saddam Hussein but rather on the desirability of establishing democracy in the Middle East, apparently even it takes a number of U.S. military invasions and occupations to accomplish it.

Presumably the president is including Kuwait in his thinking, which has yet to establish democracy (or freedom) some 13 years after President George H.W. Bush intervened in the Persian Gulf War to reverse former U.S. government ally Saddam Hussein’s invasion and war of aggression against Kuwait.

The Persian Gulf intervention, of course, led to 12 years of cruel and brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people that killed multitudes of their children, the stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands in Saudi Arabia where they enforced the illegal “no-fly zones” over Iraq which were used to kill more Iraqis, terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and on the USS Cole which killed hundreds of Americans, the 9-11 terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 Americans, the president’s invasion of Iraq which killed thousands of Iraqis and dozens of Americans, the U.S. occupational quagmire in Iraq which continues to waste the lives of American soldiers at an ever-increasing rate and continues to kill Iraqis as well, and, of course, the threat of new terrorist attacks against Americans here in the United States which undoubtedly will be attributed to Islamic hatred for America’s “freedom and values” and be used as the excuse for even more federal PATRIOT assaults on our freedom here at home.

But maybe we ought to count our blessings, at least so far. After all, let’s not forget that President Woodrow Wilson also intervened abroad to establish democracy in the world (and, unlike our current president, by securing the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war), which wasted the lives of some 50,000 American GIs in a worthless cause and also helped sow the seeds for the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, which ended up costing the lives of millions more.

Friday, November 7, 2003

The New York Times reports that the Bush administration rebuffed efforts by Saddam Hussein to avoid the invasion of Iraq. What’s surprising is that there are people who are surprised about all this. After all, let’s not forget that the Bush people openly rejected Saddam Hussein’s offer to permit the CIA to enter Iraq and search wherever it wanted for the “weapons of mass destruction,” as the BBC reported in a December 23, 2002, article entitled “Washington Rebuffs Iraq’s CIA Offer.”

Why is all this important now? There are several reasons.

One, the American people have a right to know whether it was the Saddam people or the Bush people who were lying about whether Saddam Hussein really possessed “weapons of mass destruction,” given that the WMD was the primary way that the president garnered public support for his war, a war that never received the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war.

Two, the American people need to realize that the invasion of Iraq was an “elective” war of aggression—that is, one that didn’t need to be waged and, therefore, that there own government is morally and legally responsible for all the adverse consequences, including death and destruction, that flow from both the invasion and the occupation.

Three, if the invasion and occupation of Iraq produce another “September 11” terrorist attack and correlative calls for more infringements on civil liberties, Americans need to realize that these deaths and assaults on freedom must be laid at the feet of U.S. officials and their morally bankrupt foreign policy.

Here’s the text of the BBC’s pre-invasion article:

The United States administration has dismissed as a stunt Iraq’s offer to admit CIA agents to assist United Nations arms inspectors.

A White House official said the burden of proof rested with President Saddam Hussein to show that he was not developing weapons of mass destruction.

On Sunday, Iraq said it was ready to answer any questions raised by the US and UK governments on its weapons declaration to the UN.

An adviser to the Iraqi leader, General Amir al-Saadi, said all available information had been provided. He invited CIA personnel to direct arms inspectors to any suspect sites.

But the White House official rejected the offer, saying Baghdad appeared “not to have made the strategic choice” to renounce weapons of mass destruction.

“While we have not given up on disarming Iraq through the United Nations, we are now entering a final phase in how we compel Saddam Hussein to disarm,” the official told Reuters news agency.

The BBC’s Ian Pannell in Washington says the administration is reluctant to engage in any form of direct dialogue with the Iraqis, preferring to put pressure on the UN process.

Although officially a diplomatic solution is still possible, in practice it is increasingly distant, our correspondent adds.

War preparations

Iraq insists it has nothing to hide.

“After 24 days of inspections covering practically all the sites [...] the lies and baseless allegations have been uncovered,” General al-Saadi said.

He said Washington and London had convinced the “IAEA [the International Atomic Energy Agency] and the whole world to believe they have iron-clad evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and promised to provide the evidence”.

Referring to UK and US allegations that the Iraqi declaration omitted to account for banned materials, General al-Saadi described them as “a hodgepodge of half-truths, naive short-sighted allegations and lies”, and “rehashed allegations” from the time of Unscom — the previous UN monitoring mission. “ On Sunday, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq continued their search for prohibited weapons programmes. “ They visited six sites, including the al-Battani company — a space research centre near Baghdad. “ Meanwhile, the US is continuing its massive military build-up in the region in anticipation of a possible strike against Iraq. “ UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is due to present a full report on the work of his teams to the UN by 27 January.

Thursday, November 6, 2003

The VMI superintendent has announced that a recent VMI graduate — Lt. Joshua Charles Hurley, class of 2001 — has been killed in action in Iraq as a result of an explosive device. Hurley had just recently gotten married — to a woman who is also serving as an officer in Iraq. I wonder if any current VMI cadets are thinking the same thing I did when the VMI superintendent made that same announcement several times during the 4 years I was at VMI during the Vietnam War: “Imagine that — four years in this place and then dying for a worthless cause thousands of miles away, compliments of the U.S. government.” What a way to support the troops.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Well, the feckless and fearless members of the U.S. Senate have done it again. You’ll recall that a year ago, in desperate fear of upcoming elections, they and their counterparts in the U.S. House unconstitutionally and cowardly delegated their power to declare war to President Bush, which the president ultimately used as political cover to invade and wage of war of aggression against a sovereign and independent country under the guise of protecting America from imminent attack from Saddam Hussein’s (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction..

Yesterday, when the vote was taken on the president’s $87 billion military spending spree to support the continued occupation of Iraq, guess how many U.S. Senators were absent for the vote: 94! That’s 94 absent voters, not ones who were present to vote. So, how could the Senate approve such an important measure with only 6 out of 100 U.S. senators present? It seems that they have a cute little rule that enables a bill to pass by “voice vote” regardless of how many senators are present to vote. Yesterday, since 5 voices approved the measure and only 1 voice was against (Sen. Robert Byrd), the measure passed without anyone being called upon to record his vote.

Why wouldn’t these feckless and fearless U.S. Senators, many of whom were ardent, enthusiastic supporters of the president’s decision to invade Iraq, be present to vote on a matter of such enormous importance to the American people? The reason is the same as last year: cowardice, plain and simple. The idea is that if there’s no recorded vote, then political opponents and the electorate will have a difficult time holding senators responsible for the deadly and destructive quagmire into which the president (and the senators who supported his invasion) has led our nation in Iraq. Here’s how the New York Times put it:

“Not voting on the record appealed to both Republicans nervous about explaining the amount to their constituents, and Democrats who did not want their patriotism questioned for opposing the bill.”

Is it any wonder our country is in the mess it’s in, given a government with a morally bankrupt foreign policy, a president who has assumed and now wields dictatorial powers, and a U.S. Senate composed of a bunch of feckless, fearless, and faceless rubber stamps?

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

U.S. government officials are reacting with mock outrage to the Russian government’s arrest and prosecution of Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the seizure of his company for breach of the Russian government’s economic regulations. State Department representative Richard Boucher lectured that the matter “has indeed raised serious questions about the rule of law in Russia…. And it sparks concerns among domestic and international investors about respect for ownership rights in Russia.”

Too bad Boucher didn’t see fit to explain the U.S. government’s harassment and prosecution of such capitalists as Leona Helmsley, Michael Milkin, Bill Gates, and Martha Stewart for breaching ludicrous tax and regulatory regulations of the U.S. government. Or such capitalist companies as Tyson Food or Wal-Mart for breaching immoral and ridiculous government regulations regarding the private labor force of these companies. While U.S. and Russian officials share the same ardent devotion to socialism and the regulated society (under the guise of saving “free enterprise,” of course), there’s no question that U.S. officials always win the hypocrisy prize hands down.

Monday, November 3, 2003

Three weeks ago (Oct. 9), I blogged, “Just when you thought things can’t get worse as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, they do. The New York Times reports that untold numbers of shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles from Saddam Hussein’s arsenal are unaccounted for….”

Yesterday, things got even worse when Iraqi insurgents fired one of those missiles at a U.S. army helicopter, killing 16 American GIs.

What did they die for? U.S. officials would undoubtedly claim that they gave their lives for “democracy” in Iraq.

Yesterday’s New York Times detailed a good example of the type of Pentagon-style “democracy” for which American troops are being sacrificed. U.S. Army Lt.Col. Nate Sassaman was glowing with great democratic pride over the recent city council election in the Iraqi town of Balad. However, when the city council began discussing firing the chief of police, a man whom Sassaman liked, the democracy-loving army colonel quickly stood up and announced into the microphone, “I here confirm the police chief to a six-month term.” According to the Times, which stated that Sassaman presided over the city council meeting with a “light hand,” there was no dissent by city council members to Sassaman’s quite undemocratic military behavior.

But Sassaman’s conduct is merely a microcosm of why President Bush and the Pentagon won’t allow national elections in Iraq. As every American knows, elections often produce unpredictable results, and in Iraq that could mean the election of a non-puppet regime — a regime that could decide to oust all occupying powers from Iraq.

Thus, the “democracy” for which U.S. officials claim that American servicemen are dying in Iraq is not true democracy, where anyone can win, but rather a fake democracy where only those who obey U.S. order will be permitted to win.

Saturday, November  1, 2003

It seems that President Bush might be succeeding more than he could have ever dreamed with his call for terrorists to “bring it on” against American troops occupying Iraq. According to a front-page story in today’s New York Times,

“Across Europe and the Middle East, young militant men are answering a call issued by Osama bin Laden and other extremists, and leaving home to join the fight against the American-led occupation of Iraq, according to senior counterterrorism officials based in six countries.”

The president and his associates will claim that these terrorists are rushing to Iraq because they hate America for its “freedom and values.” That would only be true, however, for those who believe that America’s “freedom and values” include a morally bankupt government foreign policy that supports brutal, dictatorial regimes (i.e, shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, etc.), that knowingly and intentionally targets civilian populations who live under dictatorial regimes (i.e., sanctions against Iraq, Cuba, etc.), and that invades sovereign and independent nations that have not attacked the United States (i.e, Panama, Granada, Iraq, etc.).

Of course, the president and his subordinates will also undoubtedly claim that the fact that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is serving as a magnet for anti-U.S. terrorists is just more proof that their morally bankrupt foreign policy is succeeding.

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Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.