Saturday, July 31, 2004
Well, well, well—surprise, surprise—millions of dollars in Iraqi oil money that have supposedly been used to “rebuild” Iraq are unaccounted for, resulting in 27 criminal investigations for fraud—against U.S. officials. The Los Angeles Times reports, “The report raises anew questions surrounding the occupation government under Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, who turned over control in June to an interim Iraqi government.”
Question: Will Bill O’Reilly, William Safire, and other neo-cons who have shown “outrage” over the financial scandal involving the UN’s oil-for-food program show as much “outrage” over this scandal? Don’t count on it. Maybe they just don’t realize that there’s “waste, fraud, and abuse” in all socialist programs, including ones run by U.S. government officials.
Not surprisingly, the Pentagon officials did not return calls from the LA Times for comment. Perhaps that’s because fraud involving hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi oil money to “rebuild” Iraq doesn’t exactly look too good in the eyes of the world, especially when it’s added to the tens of thousands of innocent people who have been killed, maimed, and abused in both the war of aggression and occupation against a sovereign and independent country, and added to the fact that no congressional declaration of war was secured as the U.S. Constitution requires, and added to the fact that no WMD were found after they were used to scare the American people into supporting the invasion, and added to the Abu Ghraib torture, sex-abuse, rape, and murder scandal that is now being whitewashed and covered up.
Friday, July 30, 2004
Perfectly reflecting the martial spirit that holds our nation in its grip, John Kerry began his speech at the Democratic National convention last night with a crisp military salute, smartly declaring: “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. air strike was killing 13 more Iraqis in Fallujah. Do you ever wonder how these people decide whether to go in and try to arrest the suspected terrorists and charge them with a crime versus simply firing a missile in the general direction of the suspected terrorists?
Both the new Iraqi regime and the U.S. government justify these types of killings by saying that a political regime has the legitimate right to suppress violent resistance to its rule.
But wait a minute! Isn’t that what the new Iraqi officials and U.S. officials are charging Saddam Hussein with doing — killing his own people? And wasn’t Saddam’s response the same as that of U.S. and current Iraqi officials — that a political regime has a legitimate right to suppress violent resistance to its rule?
Moreover, can it really be seriously argued that the new Iraqi regime is any more legitimate than the Saddam regime, given that its rulers were installed by a foreign power that illegally invaded the country under false pretenses, are unelected, committed terrorist killings on behalf of the CIA, exercise dictatorial powers, are reputed to be as brutal as Saddam Hussein, rule by decree, have no legislature, and have threatened to cancel elections and impose martial law?
The U.S. war of aggression against Iraq and the resulting military occupation of that country is a classic case of why U.S. foreign policy produces anger and hatred against our country. By its very nature, the intervention requires the U.S. to take one side or another in the internal disputes of a country, and the side that is being killed, maimed, or abused inevitably is not going to like it and is very likely to seek revenge, as it did with the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
That’s a principal reason that the limited-government vision held by our Founding Fathers was opposite to the empire-martial vision that unfortunately guides both George W. Bush and John Kerry. Consider the immortal words about America of John Quincy Adams:
“She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart.
“She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right.
“Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.
“But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.
“She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.
“She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
“She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
“She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.
“The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. “She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….
“[America's] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.”
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Have you ever thought about the fact that under the socialist welfare-warfare state in which we live, the “freest” that Americans become is the 6-month period before a presidential election? After all, this is the time when the incumbent and his challenger are nice to us and cater to us and refrain from doing too many bad things to us. No (direct) tax increases. No new regulatory bills. No PATRIOT acts or other major assaults on civil liberties. No Waco-type or Ruby Ridge-type massacres. No new wars of aggression against foreign countries, not even to “disarm” them or “liberate” their citizenry. No draft.
But everyone knows that on November 3, the party’s over and the roles become reversed. At that point, the winner knows he’s got us and there’s little we can do about it, at least not for 4 more years. We can be fairly certain that for the next 3 1/2 years, bad things are going to be done to us.
Compare our type of 6-month “freedom” with the genuine 4-year freedom of Americans, say, in 1892. Americans knew then that regardless of who won the presidential election, there would be little or no tax increases (the Constitution prohibited an income tax), paper money and central bank, socialism (including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other welfare), economic regulations, assaults on civil liberties, foreign wars, and conscription.
So, after the superficialities of the presidential campaign are over, one of the central issues that Americans should be discussing and debating is: In which direction should our nation be headed — toward the principles of liberty and republic of our ancestors or toward continuing the principles of socialism and empire that grip our nation today.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Before President Bush waged his war of aggression against Iraq, Congress had the opportunity to take a principled and constitutional stand by demanding, on pain of impeachment, that he secure the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war before waging his war.
But Bush had them where he wanted them — on the eve of congressional elections in 2002. Thaus, such “brave and stalwart” Democratic members of Congress as John Kerry and John Edwards effectively entered into an implicit bargain with Bush — “We’ll give you a blank check to wage a war of aggression against Iraq without a declaration of war, which the Constitution which we took an oath to support requires, if you’ll agree not to accuse Democratic congressional candidates of being ‘lily-livered, unpatriotic, antiwar pacifists’ during the congressional campaign.”
That cowardice displayed by Kerry and Edwards and their congressional cohorts is now manifesting itself perfectly at the Democratic national convention. Not wishing to “make waves” and simply hoping that the American people turn against Bush all by themselves, Kerry has effectively muzzled all criticism and condemnation at the convention of Bush’s invasion and war of aggression against Iraq and, for that matter, the horrific wrongdoing by the Pentagon, including indefinite detentions of American citizens; the Pentagon’s gulag archipelago around the world; the Pentagon’s efforts to avoid the U.S. Constitution at its Guantanamo Bay prison camp; the torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere; the cover-up and whitewash of the Abu Ghraib scandal; plans to start war of aggression against Iran after the election; and post-election plans to draft young American men and women to maintain the U.S. military empire around the world.
It’s still not too late — given their mutual devotion to the same domestic-policy and foreign-policy principles, perhaps Bush and Kerry ought to cut a deal in which they dump their respective running mates and run together as a ticket, either as Bush-Kerry or Kerry-Bush. What’s the difference?
Well, maybe there’s one difference. If Kerry were to defeat Bush, maybe those “brave and stalwart” Republicans wouldn’t be scared to bash “big government” again.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
A notable absence from Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic Party national convention last night was any suggestion that “the era of big government is over,” as he declared in his 1996 State of the Union address and which was later emphasized by conservatives.
Clinton, after all, is fully aware that President Bush’s “war on terrorism” and his war of aggression against Iraq have given Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and every other lover of big government possibly the greatest gift of their life — the continuation of the era of big government in America.
Isn’t that amazing? Having used the communist threat to justify the era of big government throughout the second half of the 20th century, after the fall of the Soviet empire it didn’t take long for conservatives and neoconservatives to come up with a new justification for the continuation of the era of big government — two bugaboo terms — “Saddam Hussein” and “terrorism,” both of which were supposed to strike more fear into people’s hearts than even the bugaboo term “communism.”
However, make no mistake about it: freedom (rightly understood) and perpetual war are irreconcilable, despite what conservative think tanks that still promote the old 1950s mantra of “free enterprise, limited government, and individual freedom” on their stationery and websites might suggest to the contrary.
Purporting to favor both freedom, on the one hand, and the “war on terrorism” and the war on Iraq, on the other, is much like favoring clear skies and rain — it just isn’t going to happen. One must ultimately choose between freedom (and a government whose officials are able to wield only very limited powers) and a imperial state, whose ruler wields the omnipotent power to send his band of secret police and his standing army to roam the world with abandon and violence, killing new opponents and creating new enemies, and producing new calls for new powers to “Defeat Terrorism” and “protect freedom,” both at home and abroad.
James Madison, one of the Founding Fathers whom conservatives celebrate, put it best:
“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. . . . [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and . . . degeneracy of manners and of morals. . . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
Monday, July 26, 2004
If you’re having trouble paying some medical bills or credit card accounts or for your children’s education, groceries, or a family vacation, think about the fact that part of your hard-earned money, which you had to send the IRS, is being used to entertain you with the Democrat and Republican national conventions. Each political party receives $15 million in taxpayer loot to subsidize its convention. (Both parties hope to raise an additional $100 million from businesses and corporations, who in turn will be seeking to be rewarded with congressional candy later down the line — which could be described as sort of a legalized form of advance bribery and payoffs.)
In other words, these people see nothing morally wrong with plundering you, through the IRS, in order to have some pretty balloons and some long-winded speeches on national television about how they’re so good … with your own money, of course … and how you’re a better person because of how they have serviced you in this way.
It’s just part of the old, immoral, failed, and destructive way of life known as the socialistic welfare state — the notion that the government should have the power to take money from Peter in order to give it to Paul. Over time, the process has metastasized into such a corrupt system that the tax-and-welfare power is even being used to feather the nest of the very people who are servicing us in this morally perverted way — so that they can convince you that all this in your own best interests.
The Sixteenth Amendment (and, for that matter, the embrace of the socialistic welfare state without even a semblance of a constitutional amendment) was a much bigger mistake than the Prohibition Amendment. As we reflect upon and reevaluate where we are as a nation and where we want to go, let’s keep foremost on our minds the idea of doing to the Income Tax Amendment what our predecessors did to the Prohibition Amendment.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Anti-immigrant proponents who love to terrify Americans with the prospect that “the whole world will come to America if we opened the borders” might have a difficult time explaining that “danger” to Indian citizens who are emigrating from the United States back to India.
What? How is this possible? Why would any immigrant ever want to voluntarily leave the United States?
Well, the answer is very simple: While the United States languishes in its muck of perpetual war, assaults on civil liberties, and economic slump, other parts of the world are experiencing peace, harmony, and prosperity. That causes reverse immigration flows.
It is ironic that anti-immigrant proponents are oftentimes the biggest economic protectionists, advocating Big Government to establish high tariffs and quotas to protect “us” from the competition of foreigners. Ironic because protectionism ensures that there will be increased economic deprivation in foreign countries, which in turn induces people in those countries who are suffering the deprivation to come to America, which is exactly what the anti-immigrants don’t want to happen!
Cuba, of course, which has suffered decades of an U.S. embargo that many anti-immigrants fully support, is a good example of this phenomenon, especially given that the anti-immigrant crowd also ardently supports the forcible repatriation of Cuban refugees into communist tyranny.
The ideal, of course, is a world of peace, prosperity, and harmony — a world in which people are free to travel and trade and visit and tour and live — a world in which standards of living are rising everywhere. That is the world we must continue striving to achieve. The best nation to lead the way is, of course, our nation, the nation that has the greatest legacy of liberty, free markets, peace, prosperity, and harmony in history.
Friday, July 23, 2004
On July 8, the New York Times reported that Afghan authorities had arrested three Americans who were running a vigilante operation in Kabul, taking prisoners into custody, and claiming to be operating as agents of the U.S. government. U.S. officials disavowed all knowledge of their actions.
On July 21, the Associated Press reported that Afghan authorities were charging the three “vigilantes” with torture and brutality, given that their victims claimed that they had boiling water poured on them, had their heads forced into a basin of water, had their feet and stomach beaten, given little food, threatened to have their families tortured, and had their money and possessions stolen from them. U.S. officials disavowed all knowledge of their actions.
On July 22, the Los Angeles Times reported that the leader of the gang claimed, “The American authorities absolutely condoned what we did, they absolutely supported what we did. We have extensive evidence to that…. We’re prepared to show e-mails and correspondence and tape-recorded conversations. We were in contact directly by fax and e-mail and phone with Donald Rumsfeld’s office.” U.S. officials disavowed all knowledge of their actions.
Today, July 23, the Associated Press, in an article entitled “U.S. Admits Afghanistan Vigilante Ties,” reports that “the U.S. military said Thursday it held an Afghan prisoner for two months after receiving him from three Americans who have been charged with torturing detainees at a private jail.”
It’s all enough to bring to mind two movies: “The Star Chamber,” where a group of U.S. judges, to ensure that criminals don’t get released on constitutional “technicalities,” secretly hire private hit men to take out “guilty” people and “Mission Impossible,” where the audiotape on which secret U.S. agent Jim Phelps receives his orders states: “Should you, or any member of your I.M. force, be caught, or killed, the secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”
Thursday, July 22, 2004
In light of the Supreme Court’s decisions in the Padilla, Hamdi, and Rasul (Guantanamo) cases, we should keep track of what happens in another extremely important case involving a grave and ominous usurpation and abuse of power by the Pentagon as well as the Justice Department’s complicity in the wrongdoing — the case of Ali Saleh al-Marri, which I first wrote about in July 2003 in “Crossing the Rubicon.” Al-Marri has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal district court in South Carolina.
The al-Marri case squarely addresses the issue of whether federal officials can circumvent the guarantees in the Bill of Rights by converting a criminal defendant in a terrorist case into an “enemy combatant” in the government’s “war on terrorism.” Thus, the al-Marri case raises the same issue as the Padilla case but in a much starker way: Unlike Padilla, Marri was actually indicted by a federal grand jury for terrorism and was actually being prosecuted in federal court by the Justice Department, as required under our system of government.
However, two months before he was scheduled to go to trial, the Pentagon, working in conjunction with the Justice Department, yanked al-Marri out of the federal court’s jurisdiction, declared him an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terrorism,” and locked him up in the same military dungeon in which Padilla and Hamdi are jailed. Since then, U.S. military officials have denied al-Marri due process of law and the right to consult with his attorneys, much as Chilean and Argentina military officials did during the “wars on terrorism” several years ago.
Unlike Padilla, Marri is a foreigner but that makes no difference insofar as the Fifth and Sixth Amendments are concerned because those amendments, by their express terms, apply to all people, foreigners and citizens alike, whom the federal government has accused of a crime.
Ironically, Marri stands in much the same position as Zacharias Moussaoui, a foreign citizen who himself is being prosecuted for terrorism by the Justice Department in a federal district court in Virginia — in fact, for conspiring to commit the 9/11 attacks.
Notice the disparity in treatment: Padilla and Marri are being held and punished by military officials for criminal offenses without due process of law. Meanwhile, Moussaoui is being tried in federal district court, with right to appeal the federal courts of appeal. It’s just part and parcel of an ad hoc, arbitrary, “rule of men” criminal-justice system that violates the “rule of law” system that our rulers love to preach about to the rest of the world and from which the Framers intended to protect us.
Also, there are the recent Detroit and Idaho terrorism prosecutions in federal district courts, where federal juries consisting of ordinary citizens rejected the government’s accusations and acquitted the defendants. In fact, those acquittals are probably the biggest reason that the Pentagon is trying to hijack our criminal-justice system, for in the minds of Pentagon officials, ordinary citizens, unlike military officials, are just too dumb to be trusted with the determination of who’s a terrorist and who is guilty or innocence of terrorism. Just ask Captain James Yee whom the Pentagon charged with being a dangerous terrorist and finally settled for punishing him for adultery and pornography. Some terrorist Yee turned out to be.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
The New York Times reports that a small intelligence agency within the State Department, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), “got it least wrong” on Iraq and illicit weapons. According to the Times, the bureau has “no spies, no satellites and a reputation for contrariness.” Significantly, the agency “does not report to either the White House or the Pentagon. It owes no allegiance to particular agents, imagery or intercepts. It shuns the worst-case plans sometimes sought by military commanders.”
Do you mean to say that it’s possible for a government agency to collect accurate intelligence information and make accurate analyses without engaging in assassinations, terrorist acts, ouster of democratically elected regimes, support of brutal dictators, torture, and murder, all which are likely to lead to terrorist reprisals by the victims of those acts, which then leads to a perpetual “war on terrorism,” which then leads to perpetually increasing budgets for the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence agencies?
Well, if so, then please remind me again: Why do we need a CIA?
(1) The horrific CIA intelligence debacle that “misled and seduced” President Bush and Vice President Cheney into waging a war of aggression against a nation that had not attacked the United States and “misled and seduced” John Kerry and John Edwards into abandoning their duty regarding the constitutional requirement of a congressional declaration of war.
(2) The CIA’s intelligence debacle that failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks, despite being fully aware that U.S. foreign policy was inciting anger and hatred all over the Middle East throughout the 1990s.
(3) The CIA’s assassinations, tortures, murders, ousters of democratically elected regimes, coups, support of brutal dictatorships, mostly done in secret in the hope that the American people will be “immunized” from the moral consequences, together with the “blowback” arising from all this, including terrorist strikes against the American people.
One of the obvious reasons for placing the blame for the invasion and war of aggression against Iraq on the CIA is that U.S. officials are convinced that the most the American people would ever do is “reform” the CIA, not abolish it. In light of the 9/11 and Iraq debacles, however, this would be a good time for Americans to rid our nation and the world of this secret, deadly, and destructive scourge, once and for all.
“Improve the CIA? Better to Abolish It” by Chalmers Johnson
“The CIA” by Sheldon Richman
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
At least there’s one CIA agent who is speaking the truth about the roots of terrorism against the United States, including the 9/11 attacks. As everyone knows, immediately after the attacks, U.S. officials, from the president on down, began enunciating the official line — that the terrorists hate us for our “freedom and values,” which, if true, obviously obviates any need to analyze and reevaluate what the U.S. government has been doing to people overseas for decades.
Longtime readers here at FFF know that we have long maintained, even before 9/11, that the anger and hatred that foreigners have for the United States is rooted in the U.S. government’s very deadly and destructive empire-interventionist foreign policy.
And now there’s a 22-year veteran of the CIA, who for obvious reasons chooses to remain anonymous, publicly saying the same thing. Consider the following excerpts from a MSNBC interview of the agent:
Anonymous: “And the genius that lies behind it, because [Osama bin Laden is] not a man who rants against our freedoms, our liberties, our voting, our — the fact that our women go to school. He’s not the Ayatollah Khomeini; he really doesn’t care about all those things. To think that he’s trying to rob us of our liberties and freedom is, I think, a gross mistake. What he has done, his genius, is identify particular American foreign policies that are offensive to Muslims whether they support these martial actions or not — our support for Israel, our presence on the Arabian Peninsula, our activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, our support for governments that Muslims believe oppress Muslims, be it India, China, Russia, Uzbekistan. Bin Laden has focused the Muslim world on specific, tangible, visual American policies.”
Mitchell: “Well, you say in your book that the reality is that there is a large and growing among the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims against America, not because of a misunderstanding of America but because they understand our policies very well.”
Anonymous: “That’s exactly right. I certainly believe that, and I think the substantial amount of polling that’s been done by the Pew Trust and by other very reputable pollsters in the Islamic world indicate that most of the Islamic world believes they know exactly what we’re up to, and that’s to deny the Palestinians a country, to make sure that oil flows at prices that may seem outrageous to the American consumer, but are not market prices in the Islamist’s eyes, supporting Russia against Chechnya. I think very coolly bin Laden has focused them on substance rather than rhetoric. And his rhetoric is only powerful because that is the case. He’s focused them on U.S. policies.”
Mitchell: “You’re saying that no amount of public diplomacy will reach the Muslim world and change their minds because they hate everything that we stand for.”
Anonymous: “No, I don’t think they hate everything that they — that we stand for. In fact, the same polls that show the depths of their hatred of our policies show a very strong affection for the traditional American sense of fair play, the idea of rule by law, the ability of people to educate their children. I think the mistake is made on our part to assume that they hate all those things. What they hate is the policy and the repercussions of that policy, whether it’s in Israel or on the Arabian Peninsula. It’s not a hatred of us as a society, it’s a hatred of our policies.”…
Mitchell: “You call the invasion of Iraq, ‘an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat.’ Why do you think so?”
Anonymous: “For several reasons. That was a passage cut from a larger passage where I describe my personal aversion to aggressive war, to the war started by the United States. And I tried to draw an analogy between our war against Mexico in the 19th century and just saying it is not part of the American character or our basic sense of decency to wage wars except in self-defense or preemption. The major problem with the Iraq war is that it distracted us from the war against terrorism. But more importantly, it allowed — it made us invade, or it caused us to invade a country that’s the second holiest place in Islam. It’s not really the same as the Russians invading Afghanistan in 1979. Afghanistan is an Islamic country, but it was far from the mainstream of world Islam.”
Monday, July 19, 2004
Grinning, Sergeant Joseph Hall exclaims, “I want to know if I killed that guy yesterday. I saw blood spurt from his leg, but I want to be sure I killed him. Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill. It’s like it pounds at my brain. I’ll figure out how to deal with it when I get home.”
Spc. Joshua Dubois says, “The first time I shot someone, it was the most exhilarating thing I’d ever felt. We talk about killing all the time. I’m not proud of it but it’s like I can’t stop. I’m worried about what I will be like when I get home.”
Referring to the mental injuries that come with such mindsets, Captain Robert Cardona, a psychiatrist, says, “Our primary goal is to keep soldiers functional, so they can continue to fight. Everything else, including feeling well, is second to that. When they talk, they’re trying to prove to themselves and each other that what happens doesn’t matter. There’s a posturing going on, and sometimes soldiers themselves don’t know how much they are affected by what they see. They start to believe what they tell each other.”
Question 1 to Psychiatrist Cardona: Are the psychological effects the same or worse when soldiers are killing people as part of an illegal invasion and war of aggression that their government has initiated?
Question 2 to Psychiatrist Cardona: Are the psychological effects the same or worse when soldiers are killing people to protect an illegitimate and unelected dictatorship that their government has installed?
Saturday, July 17, 2004
One of the U.S. Postal Service advertisements on the Outdoor Life Network’s coverage of the Tour de France shows Lance Armstrong and his teammates delivering first-class mail on their bikes and in their USPS cycling shirts. What a ludicrous waste of money, not only for the ad but also for the USPS’s sponsorship of a cycling team, given the USPS’s special, privileged role as a pure, died-in-the wool, government monopoly.
Attention USPS: You don’t have competition in the delivery of first-class mail! Hello!? You are a monopoly, which means that your government cohorts in the Justice Department will arrest and prosecute anyone who dares to deliver first-class mail in competition against you! A free market in the delivery of first-class mail is illegal in free America. Not even Federal Express, which outperforms you in overnight mail delivery, is permitted to compete against you in the delivery of first-class mail. Why are you wasting your money in the attempt to persuade people to use you for the delivery of first-class mail? They don’t have any other choice. Oh, and by the way, how many new European customers have you gotten through your sponsorship of a cycling team in the Tour de France? Hello!?
Do you ever wonder how long Americans are going to put up with so much federal nonsense in their lives? When are they going to stop behaving as complacent sheep when, for example, the USPS perpetually raises postal rates because it “needs the money,” perhaps because it wastes it with silly, ludicrous advertisements and sports sponsorships to beat out competition that is nonexistent?
The next time you hear someone exclaiming against “big, powerful, rich people,” such as Martha Stewart and Bill Gates, who have earned their wealth by serving others voluntarily in the marketplace, ask him why he favors a government monopoly, which, like all monopolies is history, is abusive toward its customers, has shabby products and service, and, not surprisingly, relies on coercively imposed taxes to subsidize its operations.
And if he responds with the standard USPS bromide “How would people in the mountains get their mail in a free market?” just respond, “Maybe in ways similar to the way people in the mountains get their bread and milk.”
Friday, July 16, 2004
Two U.S. criminal cases today provide a good example of the wrongful direction our nation has taken in our lifetime. First, there is the jail sentence that a federal judge has meted out to Martha Stewart, one of those super-talented entrepreneurs who spring up in people’s lifetime that every society should be very grateful for, given the manner in which they tremendously benefit our lives in so many ways. Today Stewart was sentenced to 5 months in federal prison and to another 5 months of home confinement and an additional two years of supervised probation (yeah, like she really needs to be supervised by some federal bureaucrat) for the ludicrous “crime” of lying (not perjury, which is lying under oath) to a federal official, which caused not one single person any harm.
When a society is putting people such as Martha Stewart in jail while honoring and even glorifying government officials who have lied to the American people and the world about the reasons for declaring and waging a war that has killed and maimed thousands of innocent people, that is a fairly good sign that something is dreadfully amiss in that society.
The other criminal case involves the arrest this week of U.S. chess champion Bobby Fischer in Japan for extradition to the United States so that U.S. officials can prosecute him for the ludicrous “crime” of playing chess in Yugoslavia in violation of one of the U.S. government’s infamous economic embargoes. (Let’s just hope they don’t send him to Guantanamo Bay and torture him, deny him a trial, and punish him as an “enemy combatant.”)
When a society is criminally prosecuting people for playing chess in a foreign country or delivering humanitarian aid to a foreign country or traveling to a foreign country or trading with a foreign country while honoring and even glorifying the horrific effects of such embargoes on the ordinary people in those countries, that is a fairly good sign that something is dreadfully amiss in that society.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Those who still think that all we have to do to “win” the war on drugs is to finally “crack down” on drug dealers and drug users might want to consider what is going on in Thailand, where authorities have killed more than 2,200 people without bothering with a trial and jailed hundreds of thousands of suspected drug users. For a good picture of the Thai drug-war crackdown and the policies that some drug warriors unfortunately wish the U.S. government would embrace, see: “Thailand’s ‘War’ on Drugs” by Promporn Pramualratana. Meanwhile, a New York Times article recently reported an interesting drug-war statistic: “About half of bank robberies in the United States are still committed by drug addicts desperate for money….” Another byproduct, of course, of the exorbitant black-market prices resulting from at least three decades of drug warfare.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
U.S. officials continue to insist that the Iraqi people are now “free,” especially given that they’re now living under unelected dictators appointed by an illegal invader (the U.S. government). The “temporary” Iraqi rulers wield omnipotent powers with no legislature or independent judiciary to obstruct their efforts to establish “order” in the country. The dictators, one of whom used to be on the payroll of the CIA, rule by decree and their edicts are enforced by the most powerful military force in the world, making the Iraqi “temporary” regime one of the world’s most powerful illegitimate regimes, ranking right up there with the regimes ruling Pakistan, Burma, China, and Cuba. Freedom in Iraq also continues to consist of such things as gun confiscation, warrantless searches and seizures, kangaroo courts, indefinite detentions, denial of due process, and censorship. Oh, and the new “temporary” Iraqi regime is also killing people who resist the regime, just as Saddam Hussein, another brutal dictator, killed people who resisted his rule.
As I’ve said before, let’s just hope that U.S. officials, including those in the Pentagon, don’t import the “freedom” they’ve brought to Iraq to the United States, including “freedom proposals” by the Iraqi prime minister to postpone national elections and impose martial law in the event of a “crisis.”
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Given that everyone (with the possible exception of Vice-President Cheney) is now conceding that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction at the time that President Bush declared and waged war on Iraq, we should not lose sight of the fact that that was not the critical issue leading up the war, as we repeatedly maintained in the run-up to the war. The following are the critical issues:
1. Iraq never attacked the United States and, therefore, the U.S. government’s invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression, a type of war that was made punishable as a war crime at Nuremberg. Thus, even if Saddam Hussein had continued to possess the weapons of mass destruction that had been delivered to him by the United States during the Reagan-Bush years, that would not have given the United States the authority to wage war on Iraq.
2.Under our system of government, the president is barred from waging war without a declaration of war from Congress. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land that we the people have imposed on public officials. Like it or not, our public officials are required to follow our law just as they expect us to follow their laws. Given the absence of a congressional declaration of war, the war on Iraq was illegal.
3. The Constitution does not empower the federal government to wage foreign wars to “liberate” people, including through the ouster of one illegitimate regime and its replacement with another, especially when the war is likely to kill or maim tens of thousands of innocent people, as it has done in Iraq.
Monday, July 12, 2004
In light of the CIA’s decision to take the fall for the invasion and war of aggression against Iraq based on its false intelligence regarding Saddam’s Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction that he had received from the U.S. during the Reagan-Bush years, John Kerry and John Edwards are taking President Bush to task for declaring and waging war against Iraq.
Kerry and Edwards are missing one big point here: Both of them knowingly and intentionally abrogated their duty as U.S. Senators requiring them to demand that the president secure a congressional declaration of war, which the U.S. Constitution requires the president to secure before he is able to wage war. If Kerry, Edwards, and their congressional cohorts had followed the constitutional path instead of the cowardly path of blindly trusting and supporting the president’s plan to invade Iraq prior to the run-up to the 2002 congressional elections, they could have shown that the CIA’s evidence that the president and his neoconservative cohorts were using to scare the American people into supporting the war was false and groundless.
Like it or not, that makes Bush, Cheney, Kerry, and Edwards all jointly and severally liable for the deaths and maiming of the tens of thousands of innocent people that the invasion, war of aggression, and occupation of Iraq have wrought.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
With it now being official that the CIA (supposedly) duped President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Powell, and Secretary Rumsfeld into declaring and waging war against Iraq with false intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s infamous nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, a war that has killed or maimed thousands of innocent people, we will inevitably be treated to the standard Washington D.C. bromide: “The system needs reform.”
But given the CIA’s commission of terrorist acts against the people of Iraq on behalf of and in the name of the American people;
give the CIA’s participation in military coups;
given the CIA’s assassinations;
given the CIA’s involvement in criminal gangs and criminal activity;
and given the demise of the Soviet Union more than 10 years ago,
the question that the American people should be asking, both on moral and political grounds, is not whether the CIA should be “reformed” but whether the time has now come to restore the republic envisioned by our Founding Fathers by abolishing the CIA. See:
“Improve the CIA? Better to Abolish It” by Chalmers Johnson
“The CIA” by Sheldon Richman
Friday, July 9, 2004
Did you ever think you’d see the embarrassing day when an authoritarian regime in the Middle East would have a bigger commitment to civil liberties than our very own government? Well, CNN is reporting that the Yemen government has filed criminal charges against six people who are accused of committing the terrorist attack against the USS Cole. The six are accused of being members of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network. Not only do the defendants get formally advised of the charges against them, not only do they get a trial, but they also get to have lawyers represent them.
Compare that with the position of the U.S. government. If the Pentagon takes a suspected terrorist into custody, there’s no federal indictment or formal charges, no due process, no trial, and no right to counsel. Just punishment for having the audacity of being a terrorist.
Well, except for one thing — in response to the recent Supreme Court case involving the Guantanamo detainees, the Pentagon has now set up a ridiculous sham proceeding called a “Combatant Status Review Tribunal,” where military officers, all of whom are vying for promotion, will confirm that the accused terrorists really are terrorists – and in which the accused terrorists will be permitted a military representative, who also is vying for promotion, rather than an attorney to represent them.
Now, I’m not suggesting, mind you, that accused terrorists in Yemen are going to be accorded traditional due process rights, such as the right to confront witnesses, the right to compulsory process, the right to jury trials, and the other historical rights guaranteed by our Bill of Rights. But at least they’ve had the benefit of being formally advised of the criminal charges against them and are going to be accorded a trial and the right to an attorney to represent them. That’s better than a sham kangaroo military proceeding that is akin to the types of judicial proceedings held in the former Soviet Union, Burma, North Korea, Cuba, and Pakistan.
By the way, one of the six people whom the Yemen government has charged in the USS Cole case is in U.S. custody but, according to CNN, “It was unclear where.” No doubt he’s somewhere in the American Gulag Archipelago, assuming, of course, he hasn’t been beaten or “water-boarded” to death. Just think: If he were in Yemen, he’d at least be getting a trial.
Just more evidence of the road to ruin and shame down which Pentagon officials are taking our nation. Just more evidence of the deep contempt that these people have for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that they all purportedly take an oath to uphold.
Thursday, July 8, 2004
During the past couple of weeks, I happened to re-catch two of my favorite movies — “ Braveheart” and “ Rob Roy” and they brought to mind neoconservatives’ downplaying of the Pentagon’s torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder scandal in Iraq and Afghanistan — and developing cover-up — compared, that is, to the beheadings by Iraqi insurgents.
The suggestion, I think, is that the beheadings are brutal and barbaric compared, say, with killing a prisoner by beating him up or killing or maiming people by dropping bombs or firing missiles in their vicinity.
“Braveheart” and “Rob Roy” reminded me that the Iraqi insurgents and, for that matter, al-Qaeda, don’t hold a monopoly on brutality and, in fact, might even have picked up a few ideas from British officials.
You’ll recall in “Braveheart” that British troops murdered an innocent woman (William Wallace’s wife) by slashing her throat, implemented an official policy authorizing British officials to rape Scottish brides on their wedding night, and disemboweled and beheaded people. (Historians say that actually Wallace was drawn and quartered, which meant that horses pulled his four limbs apart.)
In “Rob Roy,” British officials raped Rob Roy’s wife, killed his livestock and burned his home, robbed him, beat him up, dragged him behind a horse, and sought to murder him.
Let’s also not forget the Tower of London, where some of the most infamous acts of torture in history were committed. Also, don’t forget the Star Chamber, which represented some of the biggest abuses of people’s rights in history.
Fortunately, there have been British citizens throughout English history, including some who even took up arms against their government in 1776, who have been willing to take a firm stand against cruel, brutal, and tyrannical acts committed by British authorities. In fact, that’s how we got Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, habeas corpus, jury trials, and the preservation of the rights enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Wednesday, July 7, 2004
Ever since the French government (wisely) opposed the U.S. government’s invasion and war of aggression against Iraq, which has killed and maimed thousands of innocent people, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly has been one of this nation’s leading advocates of boycotting French products. On his official home page, he offers a “Boycott France” bumper sticker for sale and also has a list of French companies to boycott.
This week is the famous cycling race the Tour de France, in which American Lance Armstrong is seeking to break a world record by winning his sixth Tour de France. As most everyone knows, the U.S. Postal Service, a U.S. government monopoly, is the official sponsor of Armstrong’s cycling team.
As loyal Fox News viewers know, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly has made it a crusade to “boycott France” for (wisely) opposing the U.S. government’s invasion and war of aggression against Iraq, which has killed and maimed thousands of innocent people.
So, is O’Reilly’s website going postal over the participation by Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service in the Tour de France? Is it calling for Americans to boycott the U.S. Postal Service? Is it advising Americans to boycott the Outdoor Life Network, which is broadcasting the Tour de France?
Are you kidding? If you believe that, then I’ve got some nice land adjoining the Eiffel Tower I’d like to sell you. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: O’Reilly proudly states on his website: “Our standard method of shipment is via U.S. Postal Service.”
Of course, criticizing, condemning, or boycotting Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service would likely antagonize Fox News viewers — you know, the type that might be tempted to buy products from Fox News advertisers. More important, given that the U.S. Postal Service is a U.S. government monopoly, criticizing it would be criticizing the federal government, which some people might consider to be a great big unpatriotic no-no during time of “war.”
Oh well, at least O’Reilly and his fellow Fox News “Boycott France” commentators have never claimed that “fair and balanced” means a consistent devotion to one’s principles.
Tuesday, July 6, 2004
Just when you thought that U.S. foreign policy couldn’t get more bizarre, it does. Over the weekend, the new U.S. independent and sovereign puppet regime in Iraq announced a general amnesty for Iraqi insurgents who committed armed resistance against U.S. forces. According to the Washington Times, the new “interim” regime said that the resisters had good reasons for their violent resistant to the U.S. occupation of their country.
This motivated the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John Warner of Virginia, to cast his vote of support for the amnesty plan, even if it meant giving immunity to people who killed American soldiers. According to Bloomberg,, Warner told NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “I think we’ve got to support those types of decisions of this new Iraqi government. Give them a chance. It sort of strikes us as not correct since some of those he’s offering it to have been engaged in the insurgency and might have brought about death or harm to our forces. But give them a chance.”
Warner’s attitude, however, apparently wasn’t shared by U.S. puppet-masters because the new Iraqi dictatorship quickly modified its announcement to say that the amnesty would apply only to low-level insurgents and not to “hard-core” criminals who killed U.S. soldiers. Now, the amnesty announcement has been postponed indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the new Iraqi regime’s domestic police force, which is headed by U.S. military forces, dropped a few more bombs on Falluja, which killed a dozen or so more Iraqis. The new prime minister of Iraq, who used to be on the CIA payroll, says that he approved the strike, which means, needless to say, no amnesty for those dead people — and not even a trial (since they’re now dead). Oh well, maybe amnesty will be given to the friends and relatives of the dead people who retaliate against Americans, perhaps even here in the United States.
Do you recall that character named Bizarro in the old Superman comics? I’ll bet he’s now in charge of U.S. foreign policy.
Monday, July 5, 2004
Celebrating Independence Day in Iraq, Lt. Col. Randy Lane said, “It’s Independence Day for [Iraq] and independence day for us.” I wonder if Col. Lane was referring to the following acts committed by King George that led the British colonists to begin their violent insurgency against their own government officials:
1. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. [No legislature in Iraq.]
2. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. [No legislature in Iraq.]
3. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. [Closed borders in Iraq. Here too!]
4. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. [How about that judge in the Saddam Hussein case?]
5. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. [Multitudes of departments and agencies in Iraq with appointed dictocrats but no elected legislature to confirm appointments. Also, see U.S. Department of Homeland Security.}
6. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. [Big-time in Iraq! Here too, albeit with consent of a rubber-stamp Congress.]
7. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. [Iraq, Guantanamo, Hamdi, Marri, and Padilla, anyone?]
8. For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us. [Self-explanatory.]
9. For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States. [Abu Ghraib and Afghanistan, anyone?]
10. For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world. [Brutal embargoes against the Iraqi and Cuban people.]
11. For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent. [No legislature in Iraq, only appointed dictocrats. Federal Reserve monetary debasement here.]
12. For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences. [Guantanamo Bay, anyone?]
13. For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury. [Padilla, Hamdi, and Marri, anyone?]
14. For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments. [In the name of waging war against terrorists and insurgents, of course, as King George did.]
15. For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. [Lots of agencies and departments in Iraq, but they forgot to create a legislature.]
16. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. [Talk to the Iraqis about this one!]
17. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. [Ibid.]
Saturday, July 3, 2004
Assume that the president, in his role as commander in chief of U.S. military forces, has labeled you a “terrorist” and, even worse, an “enemy combatant” in the U.S. government’s “war on terrorism” but that you know that you are absolutely innocent of the charges.
Question: Which would you rather have — a trial in a U.S. district court before a federal judge, with a jury of your peers, consisting of ordinary people in your community, judging whether you are guilty or not guilty or a trial before a military tribunal with a panel of military officers, all of whom would some day like to be promoted to general, judging you?
Well, if not, then throw this into the mix: At your military trial, your lawyer would have to be approved by the military and would have to work with a military lawyer, all your communications with your lawyers would be closely monitored by military officials, you would not be permitted to confront the witnesses against you and the military prosecutors could use hearsay (out of court statements) to help convict you, you would not be permitted to subpoena witnesses that would help to establish your innocence, some of the proceedings against you would be so secret that not even your lawyer could attend them, and your only appeal would be to the president who labeled you a “terrorist” and an “enemy combatant in the war on terrorism” in the first place.
On the other hand, in your federal trial, you would be entitled to the lawyer of your choice who could fight vigorously on your behalf, your communications with your lawyer would be confidential, you would have the right to confront witnesses against you and hearsay evidence would not be permitted, you would be entitled to subpoena favorable witnesses, your lawyers could participate in secret proceedings, and your appeal would be to the federal court of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now which one would you pick — a jury trial or a military tribunal?
Is it any wonder that American criminal-defense lawyers are boycotting the Pentagon’s plans to secure “justice” for accused “terrorists” with its military tribunals and why even military lawyers are condemning the proceedings?
The last thing America needs is to have Pentagon officials bring further shame on our country with sham, kangaroo proceedings that are designed for nothing more than to bring a pretense of “justice” before the people whom their commander in chief has labeled a “terrorist” are executed. Maybe it’s appropriate that the Pentagon plans to conduct its military tribunals in Cuba rather than the United States; at least Fidel Castro, whose system of “justice” for accused terrorists is the same as the Pentagon’s, would approve.
Friday, July 2, 2004
What a horrible shame that President Bush and the Pentagon are refusing to permit Saddam Hussein to consult with his lawyers, just as they have done with accused terrorists Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, both of whom are American citizens. Added to the president’s and Pentagon’s attempt to deny Padilla and Hamdi due process of law, habeas corpus, the right to confront witnesses against them, and the other rights guaranteed them in the Constitution, the U.S. government once again sends another terrible message to the world that this is what our nation stands for and represents. Fortunately, this week by ordering the president and the Pentagon to honor the Constitution (which they had sworn to uphold), the Supreme Court is setting our nation back on the right track.
Denying Saddam Hussein the assistance of counsel is just more evidence of the wisdom and foresight of our Founding Fathers and the Framers, who fortunately enshrined the following provision into the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall … have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” If they hadn’t, we can safely conclude that given the government’s fierce opposition to independent criminal-defense attorneys, Americans would be relegated to defending themselves in criminal trials, assuming of course that the president and the Pentagon would even bother letting people have trials, ala Padilla and Hamdi.
Thursday, July 1, 2004
Saddam Hussein appeared in an Iraqi court yesterday to face criminal charges, where he told the “judge”: “This is all theater, the real criminal is Bush.” Saddam ought to be counting his lucky stars that he now falls under the control of the Iraqis rather than the Pentagon. Otherwise, as an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terrorism,” Pentagon officials would be sending him to the gallows without charges or a trial.