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, March 2004

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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Yesterday, President Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, told a group at Yale Divinity School that President Bush’s invasion of Iraq has fueled the hate of terrorist organizations against America. Too bad she didn’t mention that the Clinton administration’s brutal 10-year embargo against Iraq (which also is an act of war), which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, was one of the principal factors that ignited the hatred in the first place. Maybe it’s just a coincidence but before the 9/11 attacks, Albright’s position was that those deaths were “worth it” in terms of trying to oust Saddam Hussein from power and then after the 9/11 attacks, Albright changed her mind and said she wished she had never made the statement.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

As everyone knows, former U.S. counterterrorism official Richard Clarke has created a firestorm by suggesting that federal officials did a lousy job in preventing 9/11. There is an uncomfortable truth, however, that everyone in Washington is avoiding, not surprisingly—that U.S. law enforcement agents are charged with doing so many things they shouldn’t be doing that they end up not doing a very good job doing what they should be doing, which is protecting the American people from violent criminals, including terrorists. Good examples are drug laws (which are now requiring prison authorities to release violent criminals to make room for nonviolent drug offenders), prostitution laws (the FBI was monitoring bordellos in New Orleans on 9/11), and gambling laws (despite the fact that state lotteries are a form of gambling). If the American people were to demand the repeal of these immoral and destructive laws that criminalize nonviolent behavior, then law enforcement would be able to focus on its fundamental purpose—to protect us from the violent acts of others.

Monday, March 29, 2004

U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer is upset with a newspaper in Iraq for publishing articles that “incite violence” against occupation forces in Iraq. Among the articles that offended Bremer was an editorial entitled, “Bremer Follows Steps of Saddam.” So, Bremer shut down the newspaper … following the steps of Saddam.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Well, it’s presidential campaign season, and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is offering political candy to the voters in the form of tax cuts, matching the tax-cut candy being offered by his opponent, Republican George W. Bush. Of course, both candidates are also, at the same time, offering massive increases in federal spending to the electorate. How do Kerry and Bush, each of whom will definitely go down as among the Biggest Government Spenders of all time, pull off such a magic act—lowering taxes and increasing federal spending at the same time? Well, as most everyone knows, a good magician never reveals the secrets behind his tricks, not even political magicians trolling for votes in the quest for political power over the lives and fortunes of the citizenry.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Isn’t it ironic that al-Qaeda is calling for the Pakistani people to rise up and oust their non-democratically elected military dictator while the U.S. government’s position is the exact opposite — that the dictator needs to stay in office and suppress “terrorist” attempts to oust him from office. Ironic but pretty much par for the course. After all, despite all the lofty verbiage about “freedom” and “democracy” and “liberation from tyranny” that emanates from the lips of U.S. officials, the bottom line of U.S. foreign policy is: Dictators who do the bidding of U.S. officials, especially those who have received billions in U.S. foreign “aid,” are much more valuable than unpredictable and unreliable democratically elected leaders, such as, say, those in Spain.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Yesterday, former U.S. Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke apologized to the American people for the U.S. government’s failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks. The American people and the world would have been better served had he and other U.S. government officials, both past and present, apologized for the past several decades of U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, which is what has given rise to the deep anger and hatred that has ultimately motivated people to retaliate against the United States with terrorist acts.

This would include the U.S. government’s support of cruel and corrupt dictators in the Middle East (and around the world), the Persian Gulf intervention (which killed tens of thousands of Iraqis), the horrible 10-year military embargo against the Iraqi people (which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children), and the recent invasion, war of aggression, and occupation against Iraq (which has killed thousands of Iraqis, both civilian and military).

After all, even if the feds had not been derelict in preventing the 9/11 attacks (don’t forget that the FBI was monitoring bordellos in New Orleans on 9/11), the things that gave rise — and continue to give rise — to the anger and hatred that motivate people to retaliate would have continued.

Thus, the only way to permanently end terrorist retaliation against the United States is for the American people to rise up and require federal officials to put a stop to their wrongful actions overseas, which give rise to so much anger and hatred among foreigners, which in turn motivate foreigners to retaliate with terrorist acts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

After scaring the American people with the prospect of a chemical, biological, and nuclear attack by Saddam Hussein in an attempt to garner support for the U.S. government’s invasion and war of aggression against Iraq, U.S. officials are now claiming that they never said that the United States was in “imminent” danger of such an attack. Give me a break! What other explanation would there be for the fact that Americans were absolutely frightened to death of “mushroom clouds” and biological and chemical attacks in the weeks leading up the war, which caused a widespread epidemic of war fever, which caused widespread support for the war? Check out this article to recall what these people were saying about the imminent danger of an attack from Saddam Hussein’s (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction, as they launched their campaign to scare the American people, who put their faith in government officials, into supporting their war.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Prior to President Bush’s invasion and war of aggression against Iraq, 90 percent of the Spanish people opposed Bush’s war plans. Among their reasons were: (1) The war would be illegal in that it would violate both the UN Charter, to which the United States is a signatory, and the principles against offensive war set forth at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals in 1945; and (2) that an invasion, war of aggression, and occupation would produce even more terrorist attacks than the 10-year embargo against the Iraqi people produced.

Now, in the wake of the terrorist bombing in Spain, U.S. officials are effectively saying:

“Okay, the Spanish people turned out to be right, but they were wrong to democratically elect someone who reflected the views of 90 percent of the populace, and the person they have democratically elected should break his vow to the Spanish people and stay within our ‘coalition of the willing,’ incurring more terrorist attacks against the Spanish people for a cause they overwhelmingly oppose because to do otherwise would be to ‘give in to the terrorists.’”

With manipulative logic like that, is it any wonder our country is mired in so many federally caused crises and messes, both domestically and internationally?

Monday, March 22, 2004

The Pledge of Allegiance is back in the news, with the Supreme Court to decide whether public (i.e., government) schools can force students to recite the two words “under God” which were added to the pledge back in the 1950s. Very few people seem to mind that the pledge was written by a socialist, perhaps because many modern-day Americans are so proud of the socialist aspects of America’s economic system (i.e., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, subsidies, etc.). The real issue is not the extent to which government officials should be able to indoctrinate American children with religious doctrine. The real issue is: Why should the government have any more role in education than it does in religion?

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! The federal government has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the imposition of a 20% Mexican tax imposed on beverages sweetened by high fructose corn syrup. According to a New York Times article, the U.S. trade representative, Robert B. Zoellick, said that the tax is “discriminatory and protectionist” and hurts U.S. corn exports to Mexico. But if the feds are interested in ending policies that are “discriminatory and protectionist,” then why don’t they end the $19 billion in corn (and other crops) subsidies paid to U.S. farmers out of U.S. taxpayer money, which is what motivated Mexico to impose the tax in the first place.

Friday, March 19, 2004

The New York Times reports that released prisoners at the U.S. government’s Guantanamo Bay’s concentration camp are reporting severe abuse and even torture, in contravention of the Geneva Convention. A Pentagon spokesman, not surprisingly, denies the charges. Questions: Why has the Pentagon consistently prohibited the press and the Red Cross from conducting visits to its camp? Doesn’t that provide the Pentagon with the predictable line, “Who are you going to believe—innocent people we wrongfully held for 2 years or U.S. military officials who have never before lied to the American people? For that matter, why is the Pentagon fiercely fighting to keep the U.S. Supreme Court out of its highly secret operations at Guantanamo Bay?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Ali Kadem Hashem lost his wife and three children when a U.S. government missile hit their home. (U.S. forces paid him $5,000 to compensate him for his loss.) Ayaud Bressem, a 12-year-old Iraqi boy, was blinded in one eye and had his face permanently disfigured by a U.S. government cluster bomb. (“Come back later,” a U.S. guard told him. “You’ll get money. But we’re busy.”) A 14-year-old (name unknown) was recently killed by a U.S. government mortar aimed at “terrorists.” Thousands of innocent Iraqis, both civilian and military, are either in the same boat or dead. (“We don’t keep a list,” said a Pentagon official.”)

“Isn’t the world better off without Saddam Hussein in power?” At the risk of answering a question with a question, “Are thousands of innocent people, both Iraqi and American, better off without their eyes, limbs, or family members that were taken from them in the process of removing Saddam Hussein from power?”

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Have you noticed that while Bush administration officials and their enthusiastic cable-news commentators are going ape over the Spanish people’s decision to reject Bush’s invasion and war of aggression against Iraq, not one, as far as I know, has issued a peep of protest over the Spanish election of an ardent believer in socialism? Could it be that the reason for that is that all these people, Republicans and Democrats alike, are themselves ardent believers of socialism, well, as long as it’s called “free enterprise”? After all, what better examples of the Republican and Democratic embrace of socialism than Social Security (the crown jewel of the socialistic welfare state), Medicare and Medicaid, public (i.e., government) schooling, subsidies to corporations, and other forms of socialist welfare? Also, by complaining of socialism in Europe, U.S. policymakers knew full well that someone might demand that they explain why their beloved socialist programs in the United States are in perpetual crisis and always crying out for more reforms and more money.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The U.S. government is making preliminary plans to draft Americans who have special computer or linguistic skills. What would that mean? It means that the government will be forcing American citizens to quit their job and become soldiers in the U.S. Army. That’s right—I said “forcing.” The citizen would not be given a choice. He could not politely say, “No, thank you, I’ve got other plans for my life.” He would be forced to devote his life for an indeterminate period to the Pentagon and even be prepared to sacrifice his life on orders of the Pentagon. Meanwhile, Americans continue to cling to the quaint notion they were taught in American public schools after they pledged allegiance to the flag every morning — that in America, citizens are the bosses and government officials are the servants.

Monday, March 15, 2004

The New York Times reports that federal Medicare officials instructed a subordinate, Richard S. Foster, to conceal vital information regarding Medicare costs from the members of Congress. According to the Times, the former administrator of the program, Thomas A. Scully, “denies threatening Mr. Foster but confirms having told him to withhold certain information from Congress.”

Is that against the law? Well, examine the pertinent wording of Section 1001, the federal statute under which the feds prosecuted Martha Stewart:

“Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact….”

Notice the word “conceal”? And wouldn’t the costs of Medicare programs constitute a “material fact” for the members of Congress, who vote on such things? And don’t Medicare and congressional hearings on Medicare fall within the jurisdiction of the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government?

Will the Justice Department seek an indictment against the Medicare officials for lying and conspiracy to lie, as they did against Martha Stewart for supposedly lying about a stock trade? Don’t count it. The Medicare people are fellow bureaucrats — federal ones — while Martha Stewart is a private citizen, and a rich one at that. And unfortunately, contrary to what all those public (i.e, government) schoolteachers teach us in elementary school, federal bureaucrats in America hold exalted and privileged positions in American society, enabling them to lie while punishing private citizens for doing the same thing.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

U.S. “war on terrorism” officials have charged a former congressional aide, Susan P. Lindauer, with serving as an agent for Saddam Hussein during the time that President Bush was mobilizing for war to “disarm Saddam” and scaring Americans half-to-death with the prospect of an imminent attack from Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

The charges against Lindauer might bring to mind the spying charges against a U.S. officer at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Capt. James Yee, that were later “reduced” to adultery and possession of pornography.

But, hey, you never know, maybe this time the feds are right. Maybe Lindauer was even searching out targets of opportunity here in the United States for those WMD that President Bush was convinced were about to be fired at the United States and that Vice President Cheney is still convinced are going to be found any day now in Iraq.

Friday, March 12, 2004

After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush and his neo-con minions, exclaimed, “They have attacked us out of hatred for our freedom and values.” Fortunately, as time has gone on, an increasing number of Americans have discovered the nonsense behind that claim, realizing that the terrorists attacked out of hatred for the U.S. government’s foreign policy.

Now, Spain has suffered a massive terrorist attack, which appears to be the act of al-Qaeda. Unquestionably, the president and his neo-con minions will again exclaim, “They have attacked the Spanish people out of hatred for their freedom and values.”

Nonsense! If the attack really was by al-Qaeda (rather than by Basque separatists), it is out of hatred for U.S. foreign policy, specifically the invasion and war of aggression (types of wars that were criminalized by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal in 1945) against Iraq, which cost the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people, including both civilians and military personnel. (We don’t know the exact number of Iraqi deaths because the U.S. government doesn’t feel they’re sufficiently important to keep track of.)

We must never forget the widespread prediction before the Iraq invasion, during the time that U.S. officials were mocking and ridiculing UN inspectors for failing to find Saddam Hussein’s much-vaunted WMD and when President Bush and the neo-cons were garnering support from Americans by scaring them to death with the prospect of an imminent biological, chemical, and nuclear attack on the U.S., and persuading Spain and other nations to join “the coalition of the willing.” The prediction was: If you attack and wage a war of aggression against the Iraqi people, the result will be terrorist attacks, just as the decade-long U.S. and UN embargo against the Iraqi people was a major factor leading to the 9/11 attacks.

Question: If 9/11 and 3/11 were motivated by hatred for “freedom and values,” as Bush and his neo-con cohorts claim, rather than hatred for U.S. foreign policy, why is it that al-Qaeda hasn’t attack the Swiss people, whose government does not maintain an overseas military empire and whose government refuses to poke its nose in the hornets’ nests of other countries and which declined Bush’s invitation to join the “coalition of the willing” to wage a war of aggression against Iraq? After all, doesn’t Switzerland have the same commitment to “freedom and values” that the U.S. and Spain do?

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The Financial Times reports today that the Argentina government is offering private creditors 10 cents on the dollar to settle the debts that the government owes them, which, needless to say, has outraged the creditors.

Well, at least the Argentine bankruptcy offer is honest and direct. The U.S. government, on the other hand, is handling its massive debt by defaulting the old fashioned way—through the inflationary printing of paper money and artificial expansion of the money supply.

The U.S. government’s method, in addition to its false and fraudulent approach, does carry some major “advantages” for U.S. politicians and bureaucrats: it enables them to offer political candy to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts and then to blame rising commodity prices (which are the consequence of a currency that is being inflated) on profiteers, speculators, OPEC, and the like. The American people, not knowing any better, praise and adore the government while castigating and condemning the privateers. Cool, uh?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Uh, oh—the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has just issued a report stating that obesity is close to overtaking smoking as the number one cause of death in the United States. (Apparently overeating is a disease.) Expand those federal prisons again! Given that the federal politicians and bureaucrats love making other “diseases” illegal, such as drug addiction, how long can it be before they make fatness a crime too? Just one more incentive for going on a diet!

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

The U.S. government has stopped a group of American medical researchers from traveling to Cuba to participate in an international medical conference. The symposium will focus on coma and death in Cuba. The government warned the researchers that they would face both criminal and civil penalties if they disobey and attend the conference anyway.

At one time, Americans believed that freedom of travel was one of those natural and God-given rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence, rights with which no government bureaucrat could legitimately interfere. Our ancestors also subscribed to the notion that government officials are the servants and the citizens are the masters.

Too bad that the U.S. world is now topsy turvy, with all too many Americans honestly thinking that the government has the “right” to restrict travel of American citizens anytime it wants and that the bureaucrats are the masters and the citizens the servants. Otherwise, they wouldn’t put up with this tyrannical and abusive nonsense from bureaucrats who proclaim to favor freedom and profess to care for foreigners living under oppression too.

Monday, March 8, 2004

With the exception of a constitutional amendment over gay marriage, it is becoming rapidly clear that Democratic Party presidential nominee John Kerry’s philosophy on both domestic and foreign policy is a mirror image of that of President Bush.

On domestic issues, both of them are trying to outbid each other in terms of federal welfare to be doled out to the American people, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, subsidies, etc. Both of them are also committed to aggressively waging the “Thirty Years War”—the war on drugs.

On foreign policy, both of them embrace the militarist policy now formally adopted by the Pentagon of attacking, invading, and waging wars of aggression against nations that have not attacked the United States and without a declaration of war from Congress, as required by the Constitution.

Combining their respective domestic and foreign programs, it is clear that both Bush and Kerry are Big Spenders and are committed to spending more taxpayer money than even Bill Clinton spent, and their only difference is over which taxpayers are going to have to pay for the Big Spending—the rich, middle class, or poor.

Of course, there is one possible advantage to a Kerry presidency. If Kerry were elected, while it is true that some Republicans would undoubtedly feel the need to continue offering unconditional support to their “commander in chief” during the government’s perpetual “war on terrorism,” there’s a good chance that large numbers of Republicans would abandon their commitment to Big Government under Bush and oppose Big Government under Kerry, under the principle of party loyalty. And wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Saturday, March 6, 2004

Chappelle Hartridge, one of the jurors who voted to convict Martha Stewart, said that the verdict was “was a victory for the little guy who loses money in the market because of this kind of transaction. It sends a message to bigwigs in corporations they have to abide by the law. No one is above the law.”

By the use of the phrase “this kind of transaction,” Hartridge is apparently referring to “insider trading laws,” which, contrary to federal teachings, do not do anything to keep “little guys” from losing money in the market. The losses people suffer in the stock market are because they have made the wrong call in their investments, not because other people might have capitalized on special information that came into their possession. If people are depending on their federal daddy and his federal regulations to keep them from losing money in the market, they ought to sell their stocks and put their money under their mattress.

Second, Stewart was convicted of lying to investigators, not “insider trading,” and therefore it’s hard to see how being convicted of lying to investigators “was a victory for the little guy who loses money in the market because of this kind of transaction.”

Friday, March 5, 2004

Have you noticed that just about everything the federal government touches goes to rot—Social Security, healthcare, education, foreign policy, immigration, trade, welfare, drug war, the dollar, etc. It’s enough to make a person wonder what makes these people (the feds) think they can run other countries.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

Is Haiti our 51st state? The federal government, which just invaded Haiti, apparently thinks so. State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher has declared, “The rebels do not have a role in the political process. The rebels need to disband and go back to their homes. And I want to be quite clear that that’s our position.” Echoing his comment, White House spokesman Scott McClelland announced that the administration would deal only with civic leaders and politicians. Excuse me, but who died and made President Bush king of Haiti? Did anyone invite him to invade the country? Did the president secure the permission of Congress (or even the United Nations) before invading? Where in the Constitution are the president and the Pentagon authorized to invade, conquer, and take over a foreign country? Were there WMD in Haiti? Was there an imminent threat of a Haitian attack on the United States? Were they trying to oust a dictator from office? Or was the invasion of Haiti part of the president’s “war on terrorism”? Please, remind me again: What is the meaning of the terms “dictator” and “dictatorship”?

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Suicide bombers have killed another 143 people and injured at least 400 in a crowd of worshipers in Iraq. One of the post-invasion justifications for the war against Iraq was that it ousted Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, from office. But wouldn’t it be interesting to compare the number of Iraqis who have died at the hands of U.S. forces and bombers during the one year of the U.S. occupation to the number of Iraqis who died at the hands of the Saddam Hussein regime and bombers during the year preceding the invasion of Iraq. Unfortunately, however, it might be difficult to make such a comparison because the U.S. occupation force does not consider the Iraqi deaths to be worth counting. For that matter, neither did the Saddam Hussein regime.

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Criticizing the latest U.S. government intervention — in Haiti — embattled Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called U.S. President George W. Bush an “asshole” for listening to “imperialist” aides and vowed that Bush would not push him from office as he did Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He’s even threatened a cutoff of Venezuelan oil.

Uh, oh! Not exactly a swift move, Chavez! Now you’ve gone and done it — gotten our president mad at you. Next step: Don’t be surprised when the CIA finally locates Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in, well, Caracas! And after they fail to find Saddama’s WMD, don’t be surprised when you find yourself sharing a federal jail cell with former U.S-ousted dictator of Panama (and former CIA operative) Manuel Noriega. After all, as the CIA often reminds us, intelligence gathering, like regime change, is not an exact science.

Monday, March 1, 2004

I confess that sometimes I have trouble understanding the federal government’s “war on terrorism.” Some time ago, President Bush said that in the “war on terrorism,” you’re either with us or against us.

In Haiti, the democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who became a U.S. government-approved puppet, pointed out that the insurgents who were trying to oust him from power were terrorists. At first, federal officials supported Aristide under the notion that he’s “with us” because he was democratically elected and for freedom, and he was against the Haitian terrorists.

But then, recognizing that the Haitian terrorists were gaining ground, federal officials changed course and pressured Aristide to surrender his democratically elected post.

How could this be justified under the federal commitment to democracy and the “war on terrorism”? Well, I finally figure out that the reason that federal officials might have succumbed to the pressure from the terrorists was because the terrorists were created by the CIA, and since the CIA stands for “freedom” and “democracy,” that means that we’re not on the side of the Haitian terrorists but instead on the side of freedom and democracy.

Moreover, the Haiti terrorists were accusing Aristide of being a drug trafficker, and the feds say that drugs are being used to finance the terrorists, and so that makes Aristide a terrorist, albeit a democratically elected one, and therefore it was necessary for the feds to support his ouster, even if that meant supporting the terrorists who were trying to oust him..

So, I suppose that once I put my mind to it, the federal “war on terrorism” isn’t so difficult to understand after all!

This post was written by:

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.