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, December 2004

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Friday, December 31, 2004

In today’s FFF Email Update, we link to an interesting article in the drug-war section entitled “A Taste of the System” which details one of the perverse consequences of the “war on terrorism” and the “war on drugs.” John Perry Barlow, a lyricist for the Grateful Dead, checked his luggage for a flight. After being seated, the feds came onto the plane and ordered him off the plane, claiming that they had searched his luggage for bombs and, in the process, discovered a small quantity of drugs. They’ve now charged him with illegal drug possession.

To Barlow’s credit, he’s fighting the feds on the legality of the search rather than perform the customary “Oh, I’m so sorry; please forgive me, let me rat on others for you” that the feds expect drug-war victims to feel and express.

Here’s a Washington Post article that details Barlow’s fight. As Barlow put it, “Anytime you can get the government to stop and think about whether or not they’re still on target with their mission, that’s a valuable piece of a citizen’s work,” Barlow said. “You find yourself in situations where you know something has to be done. If you’re not going to do it, who is?” Right on, John!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

President Bush and the New York Times have provided more evidence of the collectivized sense of “morality” about which I wrote in my article yesterday, “‘Our’ Collective Goodness in the Tsunami Disaster.”

Bristling over the suggestion that “we” (again, please notice the quotation marks) are selfish because the federal government has not donated a sufficiently large sum of tax revenues to the tsunami victims, the president announced, “We are committed to helping the affected countries in the difficult weeks and months that lie ahead.” Thereupon, the president said that much more than the $35 in federal assistance would be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, perfectly reflecting the collectivized mindset regarding “morality” that has infected our nation ever since “our” adoption of the welfare-warfare state in the 20th century, the New York Times published an editorial today entitled, “Are We Stingy? Yes.” The editorial criticizes “America’s initial measly aid offer of $15 million” and suggests that Secretary of State Powell’s immediate upping of the ante to $35 million in response to international criticisms of “our” being stingy is still “a miserly drop in the bucket.” Reflecting the mindset of collectivization that pervades everything from the war on terrorism, to the war on Iraq, to Social Security and Medicare, and now to federal aid to the tsunami victims, the Times’ repeated use of the pronoun “we” reflects the now-common conflation of the federal government and the American people, as if they were one amorphous moral whole.

Thus, as I wrote yesterday, “we” are good when the federal government, the organized means of coercion and compulsion, is good. “We” are stingy when the federal government is “stingy.” It is this perverted sense of collectivized “morality” that, in the minds of some people, even conflates God and government.

Is it any wonder that our American ancestors, who believed in freedom, free will, and the importance of the First Commandment (Thou shalt put no other gods before me) fully and completely rejected this collectivized notion of “morality” that now infects American life, including their rejection of the nationalization of income (the income tax), Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, foreign aid, and foreign wars of “democracy and liberation.”

Of course, in the minds of the collectivists, that’s what made our ancestors selfish, mean, stingy, and even evil, despite the fact that they brought into existence not only the most prosperous nation in history but also the most genuinely charitable.

In the minds of the collectivists, the conflation of God, government, and the American people is now what makes Americans good, caring, compassionate, and charitable … well, as long as the federal government isn’t being stingy.

P.S. Today’s New York Times also has an article entitled “Tsunami Followed by Another Kind of Flood: U.S. Citizens’ Dollars,” which describes the voluntary outpouring of money from the American people to help the tsunami victims. This, not government tax and welfare, is what genuine compassion and charity are all about. Make no mistake about it: if there were no government tax and welfare schemes, you’d see a lot more of this genuine expression of compassion and charity.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Finally becoming concerned about the plunge in the dollar in international markets and finally acknowledging, even implicitly, that unrestrained government spending is the cause, President Bush is causing the Pentagon to make “drastic” cuts in military spending, even while vowing not to affect military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Doesn’t that raise an interesting point?

That is, maybe all those things that the Pentagon is now eliminating are not necessary to the defense of the nation after all. And when you add to all those unnecessary things that they’re now eliminating the unnecessary foreign wars and the unnecessary troops stationed in more than 100 countries all over the world to maintain the aura of empire, and if they were to bring all this unnecessary expenditure to a halt, even discharging all the troops that do these unnecessary things into the private sector, we’re talking about a major positive transformation in American society.

It is a transformation that would help put our nation back on a sound financial and economic footing (as President Bush is implicitly acknowledging).

It is a transformation that would also decrease the potential for terrorist “blowbacks” arising from U.S. foreign policy, such as the 9/11 attacks.

And it would contribute to the decrease in power and influence of the military-industrial complex, a danger that President Eisenhower warned us about several decades ago.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The U.S. government, which opposes foreign interference in the upcoming Iraq elections, is trying to rig the “democratic” vote. The feds are telling the Iraqi Shiites, who hold the majority in the country and have never held political power, that they should guarantee a certain number of seats in the national legislature for the Sunnis, regardless of how the voting turns out.

In other words, in the federal mindset that now claims that it invaded Iraq to spread democracy rather than “disarm Saddam” of those nonexistent WMD, “democracy” means rigging the election results in such a way that a U.S.-desired outcome is achieved rather than letting the “democratic will” hold sway.

So, what is really happening here?

As I have long pointed out, the purpose of the invasion and war of aggression against the people of Iraq was not WMD or “democracy spreading” or “liberation.” Those were just the cover stories. Instead, the purpose from the get-go was regime change — the ouster of a foreign regime that refused to do the bidding of U.S. officials and the installation of one that does.

That’s why the U.S., which again is strongly opposing foreign interference in its upcoming Iraq elections, is strongly backing the election of its CIA-designated stooge, Ayad Allawi, who is a former member of Saddam Hussein government team. The federals are confident that Allawi will continue to do the bidding of U.S. officials, just as his former boss Saddam did when he was receiving those infamous WMD from the U.S.

This is what U.S. soldiers have died for and are continuing to die for. This is the “freedom and values” that U.S. officials say the “terrorists” hate America for. This is what some 100,000 Iraqi people have died for and countless more maimed for. This is what the destruction of Fallujah and the rest of Iraq has been for. This is the much-vaunted U.S.-government-imposed “democracy” in Iraq.

To the dismay of federal officials, however, the Iraq election commission is rejecting the U.S. rigged-vote “suggestion.” A spokesman for the commission said, “Who wins, wins. This is the way it is. That is the way it will be in the election.”

Well, the guy’s got a point, doesn’t he?

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Sunni Party, no doubt seeing the handwriting on the “democratic” wall, has announced that it will boycott the U.S.-run election.

And all this U.S. democracy-spreading gets even better because it’s entirely possible that the slate that wins will vote to align itself with Iran rather than with U.S. officials, and keep in mind that Iran is one of the countries that the U.S. says should not be interfering with the U.S.-run elections in Iraq, especially because it falls within the U.S. “axis of evil” countries. So, the verdict is still out on what the invasion and occupation of Iraq have wrought (just as the verdict was still out in 1920’s Germany on the U.S. democracy-spreading adventure in World War I).

Perhaps there is one bright side to the U.S. plan to rig the Iraq “democratic” elections. Maybe U.S. officials will consider rigging U.S. elections to guarantee libertarians representation in the U.S. Congress. After all, what’s the big deal? Since they’ve rigged the system to make it difficult for libertarians to win office, such as with ballot-access barriers (i.e., those ludicrous signature-gathering requirements) and artificial campaign-contribution limits (i.e., those ludicrous $2,000 limits), why not rig the “democratic” results of the election, you know, in the way they’re trying to do in Iraq?

Monday, December 27, 2004

If you want to read an eerie and ominous story, read the following front-page article in today’s Washington Post: “Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War.” It details two reporters’ efforts to investigate a mysterious multi-million American-owned jet that travels from foreign country to foreign country flying federal detainees to friendly regimes for the purpose of detention and interrogation. Despite the best efforts of the two investigative reporters, they were unable to track down many of the details of the operation, especially given the fact that the people involved in the operation are keeping silent, some even hanging up the phone upon being contacted by the Post.

Combine that with the federal rendition to Saudi Arabia of that 23-year-old Northern Virginia man for what increasingly appears to be for the purpose of torture.

Combine the story of the jet with the widespread torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder scandal and the Pentagon’s false denials relating to such acts, as now confirmed by FBI officials, who witnessed the wrongdoing and refused to become involved in it and whose reports now confirm that Pentagon denials have been false.

And then combine all that with the Pentagon’s refusal to charge suspected terrorist American citizen Jose Padilla with a crime, maintaining that the military in the United States has the unfettered power to take any American into custody and punish him without due process of law and trial by jury, despite the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s holdings in the Hamdi and Rasul cases.

In March 2003, I wrote an article entitled “The Rot at the Center of the Empire, which stated in part, “There is a rot at the center of the American empire, and the rot has been there a long time. Unfortunately, it is a rot that the American people simply do not want to confront. It’s just too painful to confront the possibility that the root of their woes lies with the rot at the center of their empire.”

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Apparently taking to heart the ever-growing warnings regarding the plunging value of the dollar in international markets and the ever-present threat that Asians could precipitously dump their holdings of U.S. government bonds, President Bush has announced a “tough budget” for the future.

The good news in this is that the president is finally acknowledging that uncontrolled government spending is a very real threat to the well-being of our nation. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that Bush and other conservatives were publicly saying that they way they brought down the Soviet Union was by making it spend itself into national bankruptcy.

The bad news is what Bush means by a “tough budget” — a slower increase in growth in government spending than what the bureaucrats have asked for.

Say what? Only in Washington does that type of thinking make sense. Well, perhaps also in economics classes in some of those government-supported colleges and universities. Meanwhile, stayed tuned to whether foreigners and the international markets will be mollified by that kind of economic “toughness.”

Friday, December 24, 2004

An interesting situation involving patriotism and nationalism is erupting in Japan, a country that the United States fought in World War II. A public (i.e., government) schoolteacher has been reprimanded for refusing to comply with a new law requiring teachers to stand, face the national flag, and sing the national anthem. Supporters of the new mandatory law say that their purpose is to convert Japan into a “normal” country and proud of itself. You know, “normal, patriotic, and proud” as in 1930’s Imperial Japan. Interestingly, the schoolteacher who’s in hot water says that he used to sing the national anthem with great pride when it was a voluntary matter and that it was only when government officials made it mandatory that he got turned off. So far, the U.S. government, which still maintains troops in Japan more than 50 years after the end of the war with Japan, is staying out of the controversy.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Among the lies that the feds continue to promulgate is that they invaded and waged a war of aggression against Iraq and continue to militarily occupy that country is their purported commitment to “democracy and freedom.” Unfortunately, despite the manifest evidence contradicting such a “commitment,” all too many Americans (especially the commentators at FOX News) blindly believe it.

Yet, think about the situation in Pakistan, where an unelected military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, who took power in a coup, rules the country with a iron fist. Prior to 9/11, he was even a very close friend and ally of the Taliban. One of his greatest supporters is, believe it or not, President Bush.

How can this be? If the federals are committed to “democracy and freedom,” why would they ardently support a military dictator who rules with an iron fist and who won’t permit elections to take place in his country? Isn’t there a disconnect that should cause an ordinary person to ask, “Did the federals really invade Iraq for the purpose of ‘democracy and freedom’ or could it be that that is as big a lie as claiming to invade Iraq to protect America from an imminent attack with WMD?

Musharraf, who recently broke his pledge to step down as army chief of staff, had an interesting justification for doing so. He said that he didn’t want “to weaken the democracy and economic stability in the country.”

Interesting, uh? Democracy and freedom are defined as military rule by an unelected dictator who is aligned with the U.S. government, which bankrolls the government with U.S. taxpayer money. But when you think about it, isn’t that the way that the federals define the situation in Iraq, where a U.S.-installed unelected Saddam Hussein look-alike, Ayad Allawi, who actually served under Saddam Hussein and who is also a suspected terrorist, is also committed to “democracy and economic stability.” (See my Dec. 22 daily commentary on Allawi.)

Oftentimes foreigners have a much better grasp of the hypocrisy of the U.S. federal government than Americans. Here’s what Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the head of one of Pakistan’s most important Islamic parties observed, “Musharraf has broken a pledge with the nation, but his mentors in Washington don’t care because they need such dictators all over the Muslim world.”

U.S. officials responded by simply saying that it was a matter for Pakistanis to decide.

Oh? Then, what about the Iraqis, who have suffered the horrible ravages of an illegal invasion, war of aggression, and brutal military occupation? If a dictatorship is a matter for Pakistanis to decide, why wasn’t it a matter for Iraqis to decide? Perhaps because the so-called ‘commitment” to “freedom and democracy” had as much to do with the invasion, war of aggression, and occupation of Iraq as those much-vaunted WMD that they’re still hoping to find buried in air-conditioned underground installations in the Iraqi desert.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Most Americans know that the unelected U.S. dictator currently running Iraq, Ayad Allawi, is a CIA-designee who defeated his primary competitor for the job, Pentagon-designee Ahmad Chalabi, a man who was convicted of bank fraud in Jordan.

But how many Americans know that Allawi, who is suspected of being a terrorist, actually served as a member of the governing Baath Party of Saddam Hussein? According to a New York Times article,

“Although some analysts have said he is tainted by his association with the unpopular American occupying forces, Dr. Allawi argued that as a former member of governing Baath Party of Saddam Hussein, he was best equipped to defeat of the insurgency and to entice its members to work for democracy in Iraq.”

That’s correct — the U.S. government invaded Iraq with the purpose of ousting Saddam Hussein from power because he was a brutal dictator and replacing him with his right-hand man, who is also a brutal dictator and a suspected terrorist to boot! Isn’t that glorious? If that isn’t an accurate reflection of the moral bankruptcy of U.S. foreign policy, including the invasion and war of aggression against the Iraqi people, what is?

In fact, as further evidence of the perversity of all this, Allawi is actually trumpeting his service as Saddam’s right-hand man as a major reason that people should vote for him for president. In fact, as further evidence of the perversity of all this, Allawi is actually trumpeting his service as Saddam’s right-hand man as a major reason that people should vote for him for president. Keep in mind: He said that he was the best man to “break the backs” of the insurgents (just as Saddam did).

Well, maybe so, but we should still wonder why U.S. officials chose an invasion and war of aggression that has killed 100,000 innocent people, maimed countless more, destroyed an entire country, morally debauched our nation’s reputation, horribly debased the U.S. dollar through uncontrolled federal spending, and torn our country apart in order to install a Saddam look-alike into power?

If U.S. officials can secure Allawi’s election in January, maybe they will say it’s all been “worth it,” to use the words of Madeleine Albright when she was asked to justify the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children due to the 10 years of U.S. and UN sanctions to oust Saddam.

But I’ve got two questions: What’s the difference, in a moral sense, between Saddam Hussein, whom U.S. officials supported during the 1980s, and a Saddam Hussein look-alike, whom they’re supporting today? And is all that death, destruction, moral debauchery, mayhem, and chaos really worth it? Sure seems to me to be an awful thing either to kill or to die for.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

One of the principal reasons that foreigners despise our federal government is its hypocrisy.

For example, federal officials love to preach to foreign regimes how wrong it is for governments to censor speech and how U.S. officials would never do such a thing.

Well, how about this: Bureaucrats at the Treasury Department issued a decree stating that authors living in countries whose regime did not find favor with U.S. officials could not publish their books in the United States or even secure proofreading assistance.

Now, mind you, this was not Congress enacting a law stopping such activity (not that that would make it any better of course). This was a group of unelected bureaucrats ruling by decree, just like in the former Soviet Union and the current North Korea and Cuba.

How did they justify their censorship? They said that a law dating back to World War II — The Trading with the Enemy Act — authorized federal bureaucrats in the Treasury Department to prohibit any commercial transactions between Americans and authors in “enemy” countries — that is, any country designated by the president to be an “enemy.”

Amusingly, the bureaucrats didn’t really consider this censorship because, they said, the authors could ask for a Treasury Department license to publish. So, the authors had nothing to fear because if in their application for a license, they made clear that their book said the “right” things, they’d get the license.

To the credit of the authors, they responded that they wouldn’t even think about asking a bureaucrat for permission to publish and they filed suit. Apparently scared to death of the adverse publicity surrounding their Soviet-like behavior, the Treasury Department bureaucrats quickly issued a new decree that rescinded the censorship policy.

Unfortunately, all too many Americans fail to see, however, the deeper issues involved here:

1. The extent to which bureaucrats and bureaucracies are in control of the American people. (Bureaucrats, of course, are the exact type of people mentioned in the Declaration of Independence who ate out the substance of the people, which was one of the reasons they rebelled against their own government.)

2. Economic controls ultimately control the American people and what they do with their money. This is best exemplified by the very real federal threat to put Americans into jail for spending their own money in non-approved countries.

3. While the Treasury Department bureaucrats justify the controls as “economic regulations,” the truth is that the federal government is depriving Americans of what has historically been recognized as a fundamental right—freedom of travel, that is, the right to travel anywhere in the world without the permission of one’s government.

Of course, the feds respond that they’re not only controlling economic activity, not interfering with freedom of travel or freedom of speech. Which brings us back to why foreigners hate the federal government — because of its hypocrisy.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Federal officials believe that their upcoming elections in Iraq will finally result in a “legitimate” government that will quell the ever-growing insurgency and domestic violence in Iraq. Not likely. For one, as writer Molly Bingham pointed out in an oped in the Boston Globe, Iraqis will never accept as legitimate any election in which the U.S. government has played a major role. As she puts it, “The resistance will continue until American influence has disappeared from Iraq’s political system.”

Keep in mind also that the ordinary Iraqis are an extremely proud and very religious people, which means that they are unlikely to ever accept a regime imposed upon them by a foreign government whose morals remain questionable, as reflected by its policy of torture, rape, sex abuse, detentions, and murder of people who did nothing more than resist or oppose an illegal and unprovoked invasion of their country. The matter is aggravated by the U.S. government’s continued refusal to permit a full and independent investigation into the immorality and wrongdoing and even continues to cover it up.

Also, keep in mind that if the election results in a regime that favors the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq, many Iraqis are going to conclude that the U.S. rigged the election, either through stuffing the ballot boxes or through a false count of the votes. Would U.S. officials ever do such a thing? Well, don’t forget that a former U.S. president — Lyndon Johnson — did that exact thing. As a federal congressman, he and his minions stuffed a sufficient number of fake and false ballots into a ballot box in Jim Wells County, Texas, to enable “Landslide Lyndon” to win the election, even though he didn’t really win it. After his corrupt “win,” Johnson went on to become a U.S. president, and even today there is little shock or outrage among federal officials over the corrupt manner in which Johnson rose to power.

One of the interesting aspects of the Iraqi elections is that U.S. officials have permitted more than 100 slates of candidates to file for office. Yes, you read that right — more than 100 different slates, involving some 6,000 candidates that U.S. officials are letting the Iraqi people choose from. Compare that to the United States, where the government officials impose extremely high (and anti-democratic) ballot-access barriers on candidates to ensure that only 3 or 4 candidates at most are permitted to run for office. The justification for U.S. ballot-access barriers is that ordinary Americans would get confused if they were permitted to choose between more than a few candidates. But apparently ordinary Iraqis, who don’t have a long history of democratic elections, are having the same problem.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro is holding massive military exercises involving hundreds of thousands of Cuban troops and civilians. The justification? To prepare for a possible military attack from the United States.

The U.S. State Department is pooh-poohing the exercises, claiming that Castro is using the false threat of a crisis to distract the Cuban people from domestic problems.

Well, I wonder where Castro got that strategy! After all, the use of fear, especially from the threat of an attack, is one of the oldest tricks in the book that governments use to maintain power over their citizenry. Why would it surprise anyone that Castro would use such a trick to garner support from the Cuban masses? And Castro is doubly smart because he’s combining the crisis environment with skillful use of “patriotism” and nationalism.

But hey, Castro might have a point. Consider the following facts:

1. The U.S. government maintains a formal policy of invading and waging wars of aggression against sovereign and independent countries that have not attacked the United States and whose ruler refuses to do the bidding of U.S. officials, and no one can deny that Castro does not do the bidding of U.S. officials.

2. Through the use of invasions and coups, the U.S. government has helped to oust non-U.S.-approved rulers, even democratically elected ones, and replacing them with a U.S.-approved ruler, such as in Iraq, Iran, Grenada, Chile, and Panama.

3.The U.S. government has been obsessed with controlling Cuba since the Spanish American War in 1898.

4. The U.S. government has never gotten over its failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 whose mission was to kill or capture Fidel and replace him with a U.S.-approved ruler such as Fulgencio Batista, the corrupt U.S. puppet-dictator who ruled Cuba before he was ousted by Castro.

5.The U.S. government tried to assassinate Castro when it became clear that he would not become a U.S. government puppet or stooge.

6. For some four decades, the U.S. government has maintained a cruel and brutal economic embargo against the Cuban people, which entails severe jail sentences and fines for Americans caught violating it. U.S. officials recently fortified such measures, knowing that they would cause more misery and desperation for the Cuban people.

7.The U.S. government has harbored people who have been accused of terrorism against Cuban citizens.

8. The U.S. government is willing to sacrifice any number of Cubans to get Fidel Castro, just as it was willing to use the cruel and brutal 10-year embargo against Iraq to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to get at Saddam Hussein.

9. The U.S. government considers Castro to be within an “axis of evil,” notwithstanding the fact that core elements of Castro’s socialist system are embraced by U.S. officials — i.e., free public schooling and health care for everyone, drug laws, gun control, an interventionist foreign policy, foreign aid, welfare for the people, equalization of wealth, and progressive income taxation.

10.The U.S. government attacks defenseless Cuban refugees on the high seas with pepper spray and water cannons and then forcibly repatriates them into Cuban communist tyranny.

Not surprisingly, U.S. officials accuse Castro of being paranoid, but let’s keep in mind that he certainly isn’t the only government official in the world who suffers from that malady. And anyway, wouldn’t Castro be a good example of the old saying that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Good news on the legal front: Great Britain’s highest court, the House of Lords, has ruled that the British government’s indefinite detention of foreigners suspected of terrorism is unlawful, which means that the British government must either charge them or release them. England’s indefinite detention policy had been modeled on that of the U.S. government after 9/11. As Lord Nichols put it, “Indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial is anathema in any country which observes the rule of law. It deprives the detained person of the protection a criminal trial is intended to afford.”

Keep in mind that the American legal and constitutional heritage of civil liberties is rooted in the centuries-old struggle in England against tyranny and oppression. Think of Magna Carta, from which “due process of law” originated, the Petition of Right, habeas corpus, and trial by jury.

For all practical purposes, the ruling is the same as those issued recently by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Rasul (Guantanamo Bay) and Hamdi cases. While the U.S. government complied with the Court’s ruling in Hamdi, oddly by releasing him in Saudi Arabia rather than charging him with terrorism, it continues to drag its feet with sham, kangaroo “review” proceedings with respect to the Guantanamo detainees. (A federal judge has ordered them stopped.) Even worse, despite the rulings and opinions in Hamdi and Rasul, the Pentagon continues to insist that it has the power to hold Americans indefinitely without trial, as it is doing with American citizen Jose Padilla.

What will it take for the Pentagon to finally comply with the rulings and opinions of the judicial branch of our government? In my opinion, only an enlightened citizenry determined to preserve their liberty, a citizenry that refuses to permit the military from tampering with their constitutional order, just as Americans refused to permit President Franklin D. Roosevelt to do with his court-packing scheme after his reelection in 1932.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that Americans (and Englishmen) rediscover their heritage of due process of law and other procedural rights and fight to preserve them, especially in the midst of fear and crisis, when the temptation to suspend (read: cancel) them is the greatest. As the great lawyer Edward Bennett Williams put it, “Civil liberties are a great heritage for Americans. They are not rights that the government gives to the people, they are the rights that the people carved out for themselves when they created the government.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Iraq’s current defense minister, Hazem Shaalan, announced today that Iran is the “number one enemy for Iraq.” Let’s also not forget that President Bush has included Iran in an “axis of evil.” (Presumably he wasn’t referring to Iran under the Shah, given that the CIA installed him into power.)

Unfortunately for Shaalan and the other members of his U.S.-approved puppet regime, the Shiite slate that is running for office in the January national elections (assuming the U.S. government permits them to take place) takes an opposite view. According to today’s New York Times, at the top of the slate is Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, whose political party was founded in Iran, whose military fought with Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, and who reportedly had a close relationship with Iranian intelligence.

So, assuming the U.S. government permits free, open, and honest elections in Iraq next month (I wonder if the candidates are going to have petitioning requirements, as third-party and independent candidates are in the United States), is it possible that the invasion and occupation of Iraq could result in an Iraq-Iran Islamic partnership?

It would be hard to imagine that President Bush and his minions would permit “democracy” to go that far. But keep in mind that as we learned in World War I, where U.S. intervention for the sake of spreading democracy contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler and World War II, it’s entirely possible that the unprovoked, illegal, and unconstitutional invasion of this sovereign and independent country, which has killed and maimed tens of thousands of innocent people, could end up producing an unintended result that is contrary to the goal of the invasion in the first place — that is, the installation of a regime that would do the bidding of U.S. officials. No doubt that if that happens, supporters of the war and all of its death and destruction will say what supporters of World War I said, “Please, judge us by our good intentions and not by the actual results of our actions.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the capture of Saddam Hussein. Do you remember all the fanfare associated with bringing him to one and only pretrial hearing? So, what’s happened since then? The Pentagon has continued to deny him any access to his lawyers, effectively prohibiting him from adequately defending himself. They have also denied him any more pretrial hearings, including hearings on such important matters as the setting of bail, motions to suppress evidence, habeas corpus, and being informed of the charges against him. Thus, they are also denying him any chance of a speedy trial, increasing the likelihood that he will die before he ever comes to trial.

In other words, the Pentagon is denying Saddam Hussein all the fundamental procedural rights that our forefathers deemed sufficiently important to include in the Bill of Rights. Don’t forget that even after World War II, the Nazi defendants were guaranteed right to counsel, the right to defend themselves, and a trial.

And lest Americans complacently say, “Oh well, it’s only a foreigner and it’s only Saddam,” keep in mind that the Pentagon is doing the exact same thing to Americans, i.e., Jose Padilla.

During dark times such as these, it is incumbent that the people speak out against wrongdoing by their own government, much as our forefathers did and much as the Soviet dissidents did when their respective governments engaged in wrongdoing. If we fail to defend the most unpopular, despicable people from wrongful government assault, it will not be long before such power is directed toward suppressing dissent and criticism, as the Chinese government is doing today.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Today’s New York Times front page details how the Pentagon is considering employing lying and deception in its foreign-policy tools. Wow, why didn’t someone think of that before now, right? If lies and deceit won’t win friends and influence people around the world, what will?

Of course, it’s not as if these people don’t already engage in lying and deception, as exemplified by their open lying and deceit with respect to their policy of torture and abuse of detainees in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Question: Where are Republicans and all their high-falootin’ talk about morals and values when we need them? Or are lying and deceit part of those much-vaunted “freedom and values” that motivated the terrorists to strike on 9/11?

Point: As we have long argued here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, the key to freedom, peace, and prosperity lies not in the Pentagon or the federal government, which relies on arrogance, uncontrolled government spending, debasement of the dollar, lying, deceit, bombs, missiles, and bullets to spread America’s “values” abroad, even while continuing a policy of isolationism with respect to the private sector and foreigners.

Instead, the key to freedom, peace, and prosperity lies in reining in the federal government, especially the Pentagon, dismantling the U.S. overseas military empire, slashing federal spending, restoring a sound currency, and unleashing the private sector — the American people — to interact and trade with the people of the world. After all, private Americans, unlike those in the federal government, generally understand that truth and forthrightness are the means by which relationships are strengthened, not to mention the fact that truth and forthrightness are more consistent with the traditions of the Judeo-Christian ethic than lying and deceit.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

For the first time since the Vietnam War, a commercial jetliner has landed in Vietnam, reflecting tolerance and improved relations with a full-fledged, non-democratic communist country. Now, how about the same with Cuba, another communist country? It really just goes to show the extent to which daddy (the federal government) decides which people his adult-children will be permitted to hang out with. Tragically, how many Americans ask the critical question: Under what moral authority do government officials decide an issue that properly belongs to a free people? Oh well, at least the Pentagon didn’t order an invasion of Vietnam to “liberate” people suffering under a non-democratic communist regime that killed tens of thousands of Americans.

Friday, December 10, 2004

As I have indicated before in my daily commentaries, while the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, continues to lead the American people down the road to empire, intervention, perpetual war on terrorism,” out-of-control government spending, and obsessive, never-ceasing fear of terrorism, communist China’s economy continues to grow, and that country continues to expand its peaceful interactions with the people of the world.

Then, yesterday IBM, one of the pioneers of the PC revolution, announced that it was selling its entire PC operation to China, bringing an end to IBM’s participation in the PC market.

The demise of IBM’s PC operation makes an important point about the ridiculous and destructive nature of federal antitrust legislation. Do you remember when the feds were viciously attacking IBM during the 1970s, when IBM was pioneering the PC industry? The feds were saying, “IBM is a monopoly! It’s all-powerful! Free enterprise doesn’t work anymore! IBM and its monopolistic control over the PC industry are exploiting the consumer! Only the federal government can stop it from taking over America!”

The result was a vicious and malicious legal attack on IBM under the guise of federal antitrust laws. Fortunately, when Reagan took office in 1981, federal prosecutors saw the light, called off the dogs, and settled the federal lawsuit against IBM.

Well, if IBM was so powerful, then why did it finally lose market share in the PC business? If a firm is an all-powerful monopoly, as the feds alleged, then why wouldn’t it still be all-powerful, exploiting and getting richer and more powerful as each day passed? For that matter, how many firms in the top 10 in 1970 are among the top 10 today?

The answer lies in a very simple proposition: Antitrust laws (and other economic crimes) are a disgrace to America’s heritage of economic liberty and are a throwback to the mercantilist times against which our Founding Fathers rebelled. They should be repealed.

The free market itself provides the vehicle for consumer protection. Ultimately, the sovereign in the marketplace is the consumer, not the producer. If a firm, no matter how successful today, fails to satisfy consumers, it goes out of business. What better example of that phenomenon than IBM?

Of course, we should recognize that federal attacks on IBM, including its massive antitrust prosecution, massive regulations, and massive taxes undoubtedly also played in the demise of its PC operation. Ironically, such economic regulations, taxes, and economic crimes are also core elements of the country that just purchased IBM’s PC business—communist China.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

The U.S. government is providing the world with another example of why so many foreigners despise its pontifical hypocrisy.

President Bush is warning Iran to stop trying to influence the outcome of the upcoming Iraqi national election (assuming the election is not delayed in order to indefinitely maintain the unelected U.S.-designated puppet regime in power).

Say what? The U.S. government conducts an unprovoked invasion and war of aggression against a sovereign and independent country with the purported intent to hold elections there and then dictates how and when the election is going to be conducted. And now it’s complaining that a neighboring government is doing the exact same thing that the U.S. government is doing in Ukraine — trying to influence the outcome of a foreign election?

Give me a break! One thing’s for sure — the U.S. government wins the international prize for both audacity and hypocrisy, hands down.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is telling the world that the U.S. occupation of Iraq could last another four years? Oh? But what about that national election in Iraq that is supposed to take place in January? Isn’t it supposed to bring an independent regime into power, and couldn’t such an independent regime vote to end the foreign occupation of its country (especially if the Iranian-supported candidates win). Or are U.S. officials saying that democracy in Iraq will be permitted, as long as the U.S. government remains in charge?

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

New York is in the news, both in a good way and a bad. The New York state legislature has voted to reduce drug sentences, an implicit recognition that the war on drugs cannot be “won” through increasing “toughness” on consumption.

Combine that observation with this Financial Times article, which documents how increasing “toughness” on drug suppliers has done nothing to reduce the supply of drugs, and there is only one conclusion left: The war on drugs is a manifest failure and will always be a manifest failure as long as it is permitted to continue.

Given that increased “toughness” on both supply and demand has provided no “victory” after 30 years, there is only one solution left — end the drug war by repealing drug laws. This would not only bring a failed government program to an end but would also immediately eliminate all the collateral damage the war has wrought — i.e., the rise of drug lords and drug gangs, the rise of the DEA, drug-war killings, burglaries, robberies, muggings, and thefts, and violations of civil liberties, especially in the areas of search and seizure and financial privacy.

On the negative side, the New York legislature voted to raise the state’s minimum wage above the federal minimum wage. What these people fail to recognize is that the minimum wage locks out of the labor market all those people whose labor is valued in the marketplace at less than the mandated minimum. What happens to those people? Oh, they’re counted among the “unfortunately unemployed” who have dropped through the “free-enterprise crack” who now must be provided for with, yes, you guessed it, government welfare, which means higher taxes on the productive, which means — surprise, surprise — even more power for politicians and bureaucrats.

With all the talk about amendments to the U.S. Constitution, how about this one: “No law shall be passed by either Congress or the States respecting the regulation of peaceful activity or abridging the free exercise thereof”?

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

One of the justifications that federal officials give for the continued occupation of Iraq is that without the imposition of a U.S.-approved regime, Iraq will devolve into civil war. But as last Sunday’s New York Times suggests, for all practical purposes the country already is in civil war.

Since the U.S. government is now an active player in a civil war of a foreign country, it is now actively involved with killing people on the side that is resisting the imposition of a U.S.-approved regime. This means, of course, that people on the “other side” have the incentive to retaliate against both federal officials and private American citizens. After all, war is war and war is hell.

But we should also keep in mind what is going to happen to those Iraqis who supported and cooperated with the American authorities once U.S. troops leave the country, especially since U.S. officials will inevitably use immigration controls to prevent their Iraqi collaborators from escaping to the United States. There is virtually no possibility that the other side is going to forgive and forget the Iraqi collaborators in the wake of all the death, destruction, mayhem, and chaos wrought by the U.S. government’s invasion of Iraq. After all, don’t forget what the other side did to Vietnamese collaborators after the U.S. left Vietnam.

It’s all just one more manifestation of an interventionist foreign policy that has such perverse and disastrous consequences for both Americans and foreigners.

Monday, December 6, 2004

The New York Times reports that President Bush used Pervez Musharraf’s visit to Washington last Saturday “to praise the expansion of democracy” in Pakistan.” Bush said, “There are some in the world who do not believe that a Muslim society can self-govern. Some believe that the only solution for government in parts of the world is for there to be tyranny or despotism. I don’t believe that. The

Pakistan people have proven that those cynics are wrong.”

Kinda scary, uh, given that Musharraf is a military general who took power in a coup in Pakistan, refuses to permit national elections (because voters could oust him), was a close associate of the Taliban pre-9/11, recently authorized a pullback of Pakistani troops searching for Osama bin Laden, and refuses to permit outside investigators to directly interview the former Pakistani head of a nuclear smuggling network.

In the president’s mind, all that is an “expansion of democracy” because Musharraf is now a friend of Bush. It brings to mind Bush’s mindset that the Iraqi people are now experiencing freedom and democracy under the regime of the unelected CIA-designee Iyad Allawi and his U.S. military police force.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

There’s a drug problem in professional baseball. So, what’s the solution? You guessed it — daddy’s getting mad and threatening to punish his child-adults. That’s right — the same old tired mindset that infects the nanny, paternalistic federal state is now rearing its ugly head in the baseball steroid problem — our federal officials are going to come and solve the problem with federal force (just as they have solved the problem of drug abuse so well all over the world with their 30-year war on drugs).

According to today’s Washington Post, federal senator John McCain is threatening professional (adult) baseball players and owners with federal force if they don’t voluntarily solve their drug problems on their own. Isn’t that what a daddy is all about — punish his adult-children when they’re bad? You know, send them to their room (in a federal penitentiary) for a few years until they promise to be good (to themselves).

Question: What gives one adult the moral authority to threaten another adult (or private organization of adults) with force for living his life in a manner that does not meet with the approval of the federal adult, when his choices do not involve the initiation of force against another human being?

Question: If federal officials have made an absolutely horrific mess of their 30-year long war on drugs all over the world, what could possibly make a federal official think that federal intervention in professional (private) baseball is going to be any more successful?

Question: Wouldn’t federal officials be better off dealing with their obsessive addiction to political power than with trying to resolve the drug addiction of private people?

Friday, December 3, 2004

As if the Pentagon has already done enough damage to the American people, today things got a little worse. Pentagon lawyers actually announced to a U.S. federal judge in an official judicial proceeding that military officials use torture to secure confessions and then use those torture-induced confessions to punish its detainees. Absolutely unbelievable!

And the announcement was made without any shame whatsoever, even in the wake of the Pentagon’s torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder scandals in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan and the resulting cover-up, the cruel and brutal embargo and then war of aggression against the Iraqi people that have snuffed out the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, the Middle East interventions that led to the 9/11 attacks, the rendition of suspected terrorists to brutal dictatorial friendly foreign regimes for the purpose of torture, and the jailing and punishment of Americans and foreigners without due process of law, right to counsel, habeas corpus, and trial by jury.

You’d almost think we were living in medieval times or under Stalin in the Soviet Union or under Pinchet in Chile … or worse.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

The military mindset was perfectly reflected in a New York Times article yesterday in Fallujah, the Iraqi city that has been destroyed by U.S. military forces in the process of “liberating Iraq.” Evoking LBJ’s term for his Great Society programs during the Vietnam War, marine Colonel John Ballard says he wants to make Fallujah a “model city.” And not surprisingly, given that the military is one great big socialist enterprise, Colonel Ballard’s plans are based on socialist ideas.

Military planners will divide the city into districts, and everyone will be required to wear an identification badge in public. (What a wonderful image of a free society that conjures up, uh?) Then, in one huge public-works project, the military will take charge of rebuilding the city, district by district. There will, of course, be the standard socialist enterprises, such as a bus system (no cars will be allowed for a while in this “liberated” city) and a water-treatment plant. Then, in a huge public-housing project, the military will then rebuild the homes it has destroyed in one of the most brutal one-sided military attacks. (No doubt all these military-produced, cookie-cutter houses will be painted a beautiful olive green, with a black stripe running along the inside walls.) Best of all, “To help revive the city’s economy, the Marines will ask all returning residents with relevant skills to take a job in the reconstruction projects.” Yeah, government expenditures of tax money funding an economic revival, just as we all were taught in our public (i.e., government) schools back home!

In other words, the mindset of military officials is the same as that of socialist central planners in the old Soviet Union. Let the government plan, build, and control, and the result will be, in the minds of the marines, “a huge effort of social and physical engineering, all intended to transform a bastion of militant anti-Americanism into a benevolent and functional metropolis.”

There’s just one big problem, which Colonel Ballard and his superiors in Iraq and the Pentagon don’t understand: all these grandiose expectations will come to naught, no matter how well-intended these central planners might be. The entire military enterprise to convert Fallajah into a “model city” is doomed to fail for the simple reason that socialism cannot ever succeed, no matter who’s in charge of the socialist enterprise—U.S. marines, Soviet bureaucrats, or whoever.

Even worse, these people fail to recognize an important reality: the only thing that military forces are good at is inflicting death, destruction, and humiliation. They’re not good at creating, producing, or making friends on behalf of the American people. Thus, it’s not surprising that the military forces were able to squeeze the life out of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with their military embargo against Iraq during the 1990s and then kill another 100,000 during their recent invasion and war of aggression against a country that had not attacked the United States. But as the world learned with the collapse of the Soviet Union, creating and producing is the job of the private sector, not the government sector.

Finally, what the Pentagon still fails to comprehend is that even if socialism did work, the Iraqi people, most of whom are very religious, will never — repeat, never — entrust their well-being to a military that engages in torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder of innocent Iraqis and then covers up the involvement by U.S. higher-ups in such wrongdoing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

The Guardian reports that the U.S. government spent $14 million in U.S. taxpayer money to support its candidate in Ukraine’s presidential election.

Imagine that — Americans are barred from donating more than $2,000 to a federal candidate which helps to ensure that federal incumbents are returned to office, but U.S. officials see nothing wrong with making a multimillion donation to support their presidential candidate in Ukraine.

Question: What would be the official U.S. response if it turned out that Russia or China had made a multimillion-dollar donation to a U.S. presidential candidate?

Question: What would be the official U.S. response if Russia or China engaged in the same regime-change tactics that the U.S. government implemented in, say, Chile, where U.S. officials helped to oust a democratically elected dictator in favor of an unelected military dictator?

Question: What would be the official U.S. response if Russia or China imposed a cruel and brutal embargo against the United States that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children in order to secure regime change in the United States, as the U.S. government did to the Iraqi people?

Question: If civil war breaks out in Ukraine, will U.S. officials disavow responsibility for the deaths that result, as they did with their regime change in Guatemala?

Question: If the U.S. candidate in Ukraine prevails, will terrorist strikes by Ukrainians angry about U.S. interference with their country’s internal affairs be explained away as simply hatred for America’s “freedom and values”?Hornbsd

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.