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, February 2005

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Monday, February 28, 2005

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty, who is representing the government in the Abu Ali case (the case in which U.S. officials kept U.S. citizen Abu Ali in a Saudi jail for 20 months), should be given a special federal medal for audaciousness. Responding to Abu Ali’s claims of torture, McNulty stated in official court pleadings in federal court:

“The consul at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, an employee of the Department of State, met personally with the defendant on several occasions during his detention in Saudi Arabia. On no occasion did the defendant complain of any physical or psychological mistreatment. To the contrary, the defendant advised the consul that he was being well treated. Not until his initial appearance, with members of the news media present, did the defendant claim he had been physically mistreated while in Saudi custody.”

McNulty also stated that FBI agents visited Abu Ali during his detention and that he never told them that he was being mistreated.

U.S. State Department officials? FBI agents? Is McNulty for real? Does he really think that Abu Ali would have or should have trusted the State Department or the FBI, knowing that it was probably the U.S. government that had “rendered” him over to the Saudis in the first place with the expectation that they would torture a confession out of him? Doesn’t McNulty understand that Abu Ali was going to be returned to his torturers after talking to those U.S. officials? Or is McNulty suggesting that those U.S. officials would actually have done something to stop the torture if Abu Ali had simply told them about it? Yeah, just like U.S. officials, from the president to the Justice Department to the Pentagon to the CIA, stopped the torture, sex abuse, rape, weird sex acts, and murder at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and Afghanistan.

Do you ever wonder whether federal officials believe their own nonsense or whether they simply believe that others will believe their nonsense, given that they wear a federal badge? Take my word for it: If those photographs of the torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal at Abu Ghraib hadn’t turned up, U.S. officials today would be saying that U.S. personnel would never have committed such aberrant acts and that the victims were lying.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

According to the Christian Science Monitor, one of the top priorities for Jenan al-Ubaedy, one of the 90 women who will have been “democratically” elected to the new Iraqi parliament, will be to implement sharia. She explains what that will mean for married women:

“[The husband] can beat his wife but not in a forceful way, leaving no mark. If he should leave a mark, he will pay. He can beat her when she is not obeying him in his rights. We want her to be educated enough that she will not force him to beat her, and if he beats her with no right, we want her to be strong enough to go to the police.”

Just stand and say the pledge of allegiance and then keep repeating after me: “The Iraqi people are free because they voted. The Iraqi people are free because they voted. The Iraqi people are free because they voted….”

Friday, February 25, 2005

In his lecture on democracy to Russian President Putin, President Bush said that democracy includes a “viable political opposition.”

Oh? You mean, like Democrats vs. Republicans? Yeah, right! That’s sort of like the NFL being divided into two leagues and calling it “competition,” isn’t it? After all, don’t forget that the Democrats and Republicans believe in the same things, to wit: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, economic regulations, public (i.e., government) schooling, Federal Reserve, legal-tender laws, welfare, immigration controls, travel restrictions, passports, war on terrorism, indefinite detentions, torture, denial of due process and habeas corpus and right to counsel, gun control, foreign aid, foreign interventions, and foreign wars. (See my blog from yesterday with respect to how all these beliefs also form the core of Fidel Castro’s harsh socialist-communist system in Cuba.)

That’s a “viable political opposition”? How can that be when the core beliefs of the two “opponents” are the same?

Now, let’s talk about real and genuine “viable political opposition,” such as third parties and independents. The Libertarian Party, for example, opposes all the things listed above because it stands for freedom, free markets, the Constitution, and the rule of law. Wouldn’t that be considered true “political opposition” as compared to two wings of the same party that share the same core beliefs?

Bush, of course, would respond by saying that third parties and independents are not “viable.” Well, duh! The reason lies in the ludicrous ballot-access barriers, including those silly petitioning requirements and campaign finance limits, that prevent them from becoming “viable.”

If only Putin had responded to Bush’s pro-democracy lecture by asking, “President Bush, would you mind explaining why you permitted the Iraqi people to run hundreds of people for public office in the recent national elections when your anti-democracy ballot barriers in America permit the American people to choose from only two or three candidates? How are your ballot-access barriers reconciled with your purported commitment to democracy? Isn’t this just more of U.S. government hypocrisy?”

Thursday, February 24, 2005

CBS News is reporting that Cuba, a harsh communist-socialist regime, is cracking down even more in the “war on drugs.”

Let’s examine other similarities between Cuba and the modern-day United States: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, public schooling, income taxation, a central bank, legal-tender laws, economic regulations, gun control, government-business partnerships, occupational licensure, travel restrictions, immigration controls, passports, military tribunals, denial of due process of law and right to counsel and habeas corpus, war on terrorism, foreign wars, foreign aid, foreign intervention, and torture of prisoners.

One sad part of all is that so many public-schooled Americans honestly believe that because the policies of the Cuban and U.S. governments are now so similar, Cuba under Castro must be moving toward “freedom and free enterprise” rather that recognize that it is our government that has taken the wrongful turn toward the principles that underlie Castro’s communist-socialist system.

Let’s not forget that the absence of all those things (i.e., Social Security, public schooling, Medicare, etc.) was what it once meant to be an American, what it once meant to be free.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Isn’t it ironic that even while President Bush is lecturing President Putin on freedom and the rule of law in Russia (as if dictating to Iraq, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela weren’t enough to keep Bush busy), he’s contemplating bombing Iran and the Iranian people to smithereens.

Did you get that? “He” is thinking of bombing Iran. On his own. No permission needed from anyone, not even Congress, despite what the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, says about the congressional power to declare war. In Bush’s world, he — and he alone — decides whether war will be declared and waged against people. If that’s freedom and the rule of law, what exactly is dictatorial power?

And while Bush lectures Putin, U.S. citizen Jose Padilla languishes in a Pentagon dungeon because Bush’s order to the Pentagon has put him there, an order that denies Padilla due process protections that stretch back to Magna Carta. If that’s freedom and the rule of law, what exactly is dictatorial power?

I wonder if Bush realizes that when a person points his finger at others, three other fingers are pointing back at himself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Neither U.S. President Bush nor Russian President Putin are likely to be pleased with Valdas Adamkus, the 79-year-old president of Lithuania. Adamkus has been invited to participate in a World War II victory celebration honoring the World War II Allied victory over Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Adamkus isn’t interested in participating in the celebration.

As you’ll recall, the reason that France and Germany declared war on Nazi Germany in the first place was to free the Polish people from tyranny. At the end of the war, the Allied powers celebrated the “liberation” of Poland, Eastern Europe, and the Baltics from the Nazi clutches.

The problem is that Adamkus and other Eastern Europeans don’t buy it. Why? Because unlike U.S. officials, they don’t believe that they were liberated at all by World War II. Why not? Because for them, all that World War II accomplished was replacing Nazi Germany’s occupation of Eastern Europe and the Baltics with more than 40 years of occupation by the communist Soviet Union. For many people in the occupied countries, that is not a “victory” or a “liberation” worth celebrating.

The reason that U.S. officials claim that World War II brought “freedom” to the Lithuanians (and Poles, Hungarians, etc.) was because the Soviet Union (and its dictator Joseph Stalin) was an ally of the U.S. government during World War II. But the Lithuanians (and Poles, Hungarians, etc.) see the truth—that the Soviet Union was just as brutal and tyrannical an occupier as Nazi Germany was, despite the fact that it was a close ally of the U.S. government.

As we have learned time and time again, U.S. officials believe that foreign people are “free” when their dictator is friendly to U.S. officials and unfree when their dictator is not. (Examples of U.S.-friendly dictators include the Shah of Iran, Pinochet, Saddam, Allawi, Joseph Stalin, and Musharraff.)

Fortunately, there are people in the world, including Valdas Adamkus, who don’t fall for such nonsense.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The matter of the “Zetas” provides a textbook example of federal programs, their perverse consequences, and how those consequences result in calls for perverse “solutions,” which then produce more perverse consequences resulting in calls for more federal “solutions.”

In my February 14 blog, I mentioned the “Zetas,” the violent Mexican commando ring that is kidnapping and killing people along the border, including in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, the sister city to my hometown, Laredo, Texas. The Zetas are former Mexican drug-law agents who decided to go over to other side, the side of the drug dealers.

The New York Times is reporting today that the Zetas have now moved north and are killing people in Dallas.

So, take a wild guess at what the average federal official will call for as the solution to the Dallas killings. You guessed it—stricter immigration controls, more vicious enforcement of the drug laws, and even gun control.

The real solution to all this is so simple. But it necessitates a recognition that the original federal program—that is, the drug war—is responsible for the rise of the Zetas in the first place.

The solution is pull the evil weed out by its root by repealing the drug war, not by piling intervention upon intervention. Restoring a free market to drugs would put the Zetas and all other narco-dealers out of business immediately. But, of course, that would mean that there would be no more need for government drug-war agents, which is why both the drug lords and the drug agents so vehemently support the continuation of the war on drugs, despite its manifest failure and destructiveness.

And that, of course, is the situation will just about every single federal policy and program in the welfare-warfare-interventionist-empire paradigm, including U.S. foreign policy and terrorism against the United States.

If the American people can ever break free of the “government is our god and our Big Brother” mindset that was instilled in them in their public (i.e., government) schools, then they will begin to see that federal policies and programs are at the root of most of our woes, which would mean that the solution to restoring a free, prosperous, and harmonious society will be within our reach.

Oh, speaking of Dallas and the drug war, did I mention that the city of Dallas just reached a drug-war settlement with Mexican immigrants, compensating the immigrants with taxpayer money for drug-war informants’ having fraudulently planted bogus drugs on the immigrants? Just another day in the infamous war on drugs.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Despite ever-increasing reports of torture and sex abuse of prisoners at the hands of CIA and military officials and ever-increasing evidence of cover-up, the members of Congress, unfortunately, continue to take a silent and supine role in the scandal. Perhaps this is because of the deep deference and unwavering loyalty that all too many members of Congress have shown to the military-industrial complex during their congressional careers.

And it’s not as if Congress lacks the desire and means to go after wrongdoing. After all, look at how they’re behaving like bulldogs in the UN oil-for-food scandal, which involved “waste, fraud, and abuse” in a socialist program. Ask yourself: Why no bull-dog investigation into a real scandal—a scandal that has besmirched our nation by plunging it into the ranks of barbarians—and weird barbarians at that, given the weird, cult-like sex acts that have been employed by federal personnel toward detainees?

The uncomfortable truth is that given the unswerving loyalty that congressmen have given the CIA and the military industrial complex for umpteen years, there is no possibility that an honest investigation into the torture-sex abuse scandal is going to come out of Congress. Any congressional investigation or “calls for reform” are inevitably going to be a sham and a fraud whose purpose will only be to falsely convince Americans that something is being done.

If our nation is going to get to the bottom of the torture and sex-abuse wrongdoing, there is one—and only one—solution: the appointment of an independent prosecutor with power to indict every official, no matter how low or how high in power. Otherwise, the situation will be no different than it was in Chile, Argentina, and other Latin American countries, whose own torture, sex-abuse, rape, and murder scandals were covered up during their “wars of terrorism.”

Friday, February 18, 2005

Those who live in perpetual fear of the “terrorists” will be pleased to know that the federal border gendarmes were on guard on February 14 at the Berlin Fence, which runs along much of the Southern border of the United States.

According to Reuters, Border Patrol agents were keeping a watchful eye as star-crossed lovers tried to pass love notes and even exchange kisses through the Fence.

Young mother Monica Ramirez remarked, “I don’t think they’ll let us kiss today, but just being able to see him and talk to him is so important.” Hey, doesn’t Monica realize that there’s a “war on terrorism” on?

Patricia Estrada, a Mexican, said, “It’s a romantic spot,” as she looked for her boyfriend on the other side of the Fence. “We come here to see loved ones, and pass on messages.” Yeah, likely story! That’s just what the “terrorists” would say. Or even the drug dealers!

Obviously, Congress needs to do something about this. Like maybe converting the Fence into a Berlin Wall, preventing these people from touching or kissing each other, or, better yet, just make falling in love with a foreigner a grave federal crime for Americans.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The CIA is in the news — and some of the news is good. According to the New York Times, the CIA “is seeking to scale back its role as interrogator and custodian of terrorist leaders who are being held without charges in secret sites around the world, current and former intelligence officials said.”

Wouldn’t that seem to be an implicit admission that the CIA should never have involved our nation in torture in the first place — or in sending people to foreign countries for the purpose of torture?

If the CIA does cease and desist from such wrongful conduct — and one should greet CIA announcements with a healthy degree of skepticism — no credit will be due Congress, which has been silent and supine during the entire scandal. Instead, it will be a testament to those who have been relentlessly arguing against torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of prisoners ever since 9/11.

The power of truth and sound ideas on freedom can also be found by observing what has happened to the pro-torture, pro-sex abuse crowd in the face of the intellectual and moral arguments that have been brought to bear by those in the anti-torture, anti-sex abuse segment.

Do you remember when the pro-torture, pro-sex abuse people were pooh-poohing the Abu Ghraib scandal and even openly arguing in favor of torture and sex abuse as a way to get prisoners to talk? Well, what’s happened to that crowd? Within a relatively short period of time, they’ve been silenced — or, more accurately, shamed into silence — simply through the power of intellectual and moral reasoning and argumentation brought to bear by those in the anti-torture, anti-sex-abuse segment. After all, how many pro-torture, pro-sex abuse articles and perspectives have you noticed recently coming of the pro-torture, pro-sex abuse crowd, especially compared to the immediate aftermath of Abu Ghraib?

That’s why the continued expression of truth and the continued dissemination of sound ideas on freedom are key to restoring the genuine principles of a free society to our land. Ultimately, falsehood, deception, and error cannot withstand such intellectual and moral power. And the torture scandal, where overwhelming intellectual weight of truth and sound reasoning is clearly causing a major shift away from the practices of the barbarians, is a confirmation of this intellectual and moral phenomenon.

By the way, on another CIA front, according to a Reuters article entitled “ Iraq Conflict Feeds International Terror Threat,” CIA director Porter Goss announced that “the deadly insurgency against U.S.-led forces in Iraq pose an international terrorism threat.” Well, duh! That’s what we and other libertarians were saying long before the U.S. government invaded Iraq. Even though Goss went on to make the cryptic remark, “The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists,” there seems to be increasing awareness of the fact that it is the U.S. government’s foreign policy, not America’s “freedom and values,” that has ignited so much anger and hatred against our nation. That’s good because if people get the diagnosis right, there’s a much better chance they’ll get the cure right.

So, while things are still looking bleak as far as the federal government is concerned, the fact that truth and sound ideas on freedom are among the most powerful forces in the universe should give us cause for hope and optimism.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Federal officials, who now claim that the real reason they invaded Iraq and killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people was to free the people of Iraq from tyranny and torture, have just convicted another American for committing the horrific federal crime of helping the Iraqi people.

The new federal convict? Dr. Khalid Qazi, whom the Syracuse Post-Standard describes as “a prominent physician in Greater Buffalo who has won many awards for teaching and community service and whose prestige was enough to earn him a face-to-face meeting a few years ago with President George W. Bush.”

Dr. Qazi’s offense? He violated the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government imposed against the Iraqi people during the 1990s by raising money to buy food, clothing, and medical care for Iraqi children, hundreds of thousands of whom died as a result of the sanctions.

The federals also went after Qazi for violating ludicrous Medicare rules and regulations. That’s the great thing about the regulated society and socialist programs, at least from the standpoint of federal bureaucrats and prosecutors — they know that when they want to get someone, there’s always some rule or regulations that they’ve violated for which they can be prosecuted. Recall the words of the evil bureaucrat Dr. Floyd Ferris, director of the State Science Institute, in Atlas Shrugged:

“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against — then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

When a government is sending renowned physicians to jail for trying to help dying children whom that government is killing and for violating inane rules and regulations of socialist programs whose purpose is supposedly to help the poor, that’s a pretty good sign that something is amiss in that society. When the American people stop falling for whatever the federals tell them — WMD, liberation, democracy, loving the poor, no torture policy, etc. etc., that will be the day when a freer, more harmonious society is restored, one where genuine criminals, i.e., those who kill innocent people, are punished and genuine philanthropists are honored.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

While U.S. officials are moving in the direction of waging another war of aggression, this time against Iran, interestingly they’re backing off from waging one against North Korea, which President Bush once called a member of the “axis of evil.”

Does that make much sense? After all, the reason they’re giving for their animosity against Iran is the same one that they gave for invading Iraq — that Iran might be developing WMD. Yet, North Korea has publicly announced not only that it is developing WMD but that it already has.

So, wouldn’t the U.S. government’s reluctance to attack North Korea to “disarm it” send a signal to the world that if you want to avoid involuntary “regime change” by U.S. military forces, the way to do it is to secretly acquire WMD but just don’t get caught in the process of developing them?

Of course, it won’t really be a problem whether Iranian officials are telling the truth about their WMD program, as Iraqi officials were telling the truth about their WMD. After another invasion and war of aggression that kills and maims tens of thousands of innocent Iranians, including Iranian soldiers who are simply defending their nation from attack, all U.S. officials have to do is shift gears and announce that the invasion and occupation of Iran were to “liberate” and “spread democracy,” just as in Iraq. Then, they can simply conduct a national election in Iran according to the rules set forth in a U.S.-imposed “interim constitution,” just as they have in Iraq.

Then, after scaring the American people half to death with an “imminent WMD attack” by Iraq, I mean Iran, on America (including “mushroom clouds,” of course), all U.S. officials have do is smile as American supporters march in mental lockstep with the federal “bait and shift,” watching gleefully as their federal supporters give thanks for sacrificing American soldiers for U.S. military democracy overseas and support calls for the hundreds of billions in new U.S. taxpayer money needed to pay for it all.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Anyone familiar with the perverse consequences of federal programs won’t be surprised to learn about another one. In my hometown of Laredo, Texas, the drug war has spawned a group of well-trained, military-type commandos working on behalf of the drug dealers. Why is that a perverse consequence of the drug war, you ask? Because they are former members of the Mexican DEA — federal officials who were trained to fight the drug dealers and who decided that it would be more lucrative to change sides and put their training to use on behalf of the drug dealers.

Things have gotten so bad that Laredoans are afraid to cross the border into Nuevo Laredo, especially given that the Zetas, as the commandos are called, are accused of more than 200 murders, executions, and kidnappings. In the past six months, 27 Americans have been kidnapped, the majority in Nuevo Laredo; two of them were killed, 14 released, and 11 still missing.

There is so much fear in Laredo that people are even afraid to speak out publicly about what is happening. According to Knight Ridder,

“‘Everyone’s afraid,’ said a businessman from Laredo, on the U.S. side. ‘Business is down on both sides. You don’t mention the Zetas or traffickers. Word gets around.’ ‘You say one wrong thing to the wrong person and you and your family end up dead in a ditch,’ one housewife said.”

The fear extends to government drug war agents: “Federal police agents, on patrol in Reynosa, south of Brownsville, Texas, asked that they not be identified. ‘We don’t want to die,’ one said.”

When I was growing up in Laredo, going into Nuevo Laredo was a fun experience — people used to love to go over and shop, eat dinner, go to nightclubs, and just enjoy a taste of Mexico.

Not anymore. This is the federal government’s 30-year beloved drug war in action — producing its weird perverse consequences without even getting close to achieving its purported end.

There is one and only one solution to achieving a peaceful, harmonious society, on both sides of the border as well as across America: End, not reform, the immoral, failed, and destructive war on drugs. It is at the root of the violence. Of course, restoring a free market to the drug trade would result in no more need for drug dealers and drug-war agents, which is why both groups so fiercely oppose ending the war on drugs.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

There might be at least one good result coming out of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s criticism of Syria for engaging in state-sponsored terrorism by supporting the insurgents in Iraq. Syrian officials might now refuse to accept people “rendered” to them by the CIA for the purpose of torture. Of course, that won’t do Maher Arar, a 34-year-old Canadian citizen, any good, given that Syrian officials have already released him from a year of brutal torture after CIA officials kidnapped him and transported him to Syria for that purpose. Arar is now suing the U.S. government but be prepared for a settlement in which U.S. taxpayer money is used to pay him off. After all, the last thing these people want is for oral depositions to be taken into their secret and nefarious, nasty and brutish misconduct.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Obviously not too concerned about unrestrained federal spending and the debasement of the currency, President Bush is asking Congress for $400 million in U.S. taxpayer money to give to countries that became part of the “Coalition of the Willing” by participating in the U.S. government’s invasion and war of aggression against Iraq.

Imagine that! No, it’s not a bribe because it’s money that’s being paid after the fact—even though, of course, we don’t know what was promised each country as a condition of joining the coalition in the first place.

Look at it sort of like how U.S. congressmen “reward” people who have supported them with big campaign contributions with federal “grants” to their communities, grants that end up lining the pockets of the contributors and their friends.

So, the money being paid to these countries is not really a bribe but simply a “reward” — one that carries a powerful message to all nations: Come on board the grand ship of the U.S. empire — help us to invade countries to change their regimes — and you too will be financially rewarded too in good time, compliments of the U.S. taxpayer (who continues to lament that he doesn’t have sufficient money to pay for his children’s education, health care, food,, clothing, vacations, etc. etc. ).

West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd (whose state is ironically one of the biggest recipients of federal largess) put it best when he described the Coalition of the Willing as “C.O.W. for short,” observing “It appears to me that the U.S. is the ‘cow’ — the cash cow in this case. We are the ones being milked.”

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Still lecturing foreign regimes on her whirlwind overseas tour, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the French that “America has everything to gain from having a stronger Europe as a partner in building a safer and a better world…. The main aim of America is to see the spread of freedom. Today’s radical Islamists … grab headlines with their ruthless brutality.”

Unfortunately, Rice failed to explain how her wish for a safer, freer, less brutal world can be reconciled with U.S. government policies and procedures, to wit: employing brutal embargoes and sanctions that target innocent people and their children as a means of getting at their ruler (Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Cuba); engaging in unprovoked military attacks on Third World countries and waging wars of aggression which kill tens of thousands of innocent people (Iraq); ardent support of military and authoritarian dictatorships (Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, and Nicaragua); torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, and the School of the Americas); torture renditions (Saudi Arabia and Jordan); and indefinite detentions and punishment of Americans (Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi) and foreigners, denying them due process of law, habeas corpus, trial by jury, and right to counsel.

People often write us here at FFF to ask what can be done about the wrongful direction that federal officials are taking our nation. My response: an unwavering commitment to truth. Not only is truth the antidote to falsehood, it is also the solution to the abuse of language which government officials historically have been known to engage in. An unwavering commitment to truth among an ever-growing number of Americans is the key to leading our nation in a genuinely safer, better, and freer direction.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

This year, a Super Bowl anti-censorship advertisement by GoDaddy.com received the highest number of complaints to the FCC from American grownups.

The ad featured a buxom young woman whose dress strap accidentally broke as she was testifying before a group of stodgy, old members of Congress, one of whom had to start using his oxygen mask as the woman proceeded to testify. The ad, which ironically was sponsored by a website with the name “Daddy” in it, obviously was a slap at the way that many American adults believe that the FCC, a Taliban-like government agency, is their family daddy when it comes to morals and censorship.

The ad was scheduled to air twice but after being shown once, Fox executives apparently got nervous and refused to let the ad be re-shown. One Fox executive said that the ad “didn’t pass the network propriety test.” One can only wonder, however, whether it failed to meet Fox’s “propriety test” because Fox actually considered the ad improper or whether it considers it improper for citizens to make fun of stodgy, old members of Congress who profess the have the moral competence to regulate people’s morals or whether the Fox executives simply feared FCC Taliban-like retribution.

The good news is that only eight grownups complained to their political daddy, the FCC, about the ad, which means that the other 86 million American adults — 99.9999 percent — who watched the Super Bowl didn’t bother to complain to the FCC about the ad. That’s surely a positive sign.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Closed-border advocates always say that if borders were open, everyone would come to the United States? Oh? Well, maybe they can explain why it is that so many Irish Americans are leaving the United States and moving to Ireland. As the New York Times reported last December, “The New Irish are streaming back at such a clip that in the neighborhoods they regreened in Queens, Yonkers and the Bronx, once-packed pubs stand half-empty and apartment vacancies go begging.” The reason for the emigration to Ireland seems to be that the United States continues to plunge in the ranking of nations in terms of economic liberty. In other words, more U.S. socialism and interventionism are causing people to move out.

And today, the New York Times reports that an increasing number of Americans are moving to Canada. The reason for the emigration seems to be that the United States is plunging in terms of foreign policy and civil liberties. In other words, attacking and waging wars of aggression against Third World countries, killing tens of thousands of innocent people, and denying people due process of law, jury trials, and habeas corpus and punishing them with jail, torture, and murder are causing people to move out.

Meanwhile, there’s an interesting domestic exodus taking place as well. The state of Iowa is losing so many young people that they’ve come up with an interesting solution—give an income-tax exemption to every person under 30 years old who stays in Iowa.

I say: Let’s go further than that. Let’s restore America’s commitment to economic liberty by repealing the 16th Amendment, which would give income-tax exemption to everyone, and by repealing, not reforming, America’s socialist programs, beginning with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. And let’s restore America’s commitment to a constitutional republic by ending foreign aid and foreign wars. And let’s restore America’s commitment to civil liberty by ending the drug war, torture, indefinite detentions, and denial of due process of law and habeas corpus. Then, our nation would once again be the beacon of liberty for all the world.

Monday, February 7, 2005

Newly confirmed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is lecturing the Russians on the “basics of democracy.” Telling her counterpart Sergei Lavrov during her whirlwind overseas tour that better relations with the United States would depend on whether Russia behaves itself better, Rice said, “Obviously we have concerns … it is important that Russia make clear to the world that it is intent on strengthening the rule of law, strengthening the role of an independent judiciary, permitting a free and independent press.”

If only Lavrov had replied,

“Hey, that’s great. To maintain the rule of law, what we need to do is establish a base in Cuba to avoid the constraints of the constitution and the courts, as you have done at Guantanamo Bay. We need to punish dangerous Russian citizens and deny them trials and due process of law, as you have done with American Jose Padilla. We need to torture, sexually abuse, rape, and murder people to secure intelligence from them, just as you are doing around the world. We need to give our president the omnipotent power both to declare and wage war, as you have given to your president. We need a KGB that does not have to obey laws passed by the legislative branch, as your CIA has claimed with respect to disclosing its Nazi employees. We need to use the legal processes to try to destroy capitalists and capitalist businesses, as you have done with Martha Stewart, American tobacco companies, and IBM and Microsoft. We need to put more of our journalists on the federal payroll, as you are doing in America. And we need to reinvade Afghanistan for freedom, as you have done with Iraq. Yes, Ms. Rice, we certainly do need to learn more about your ‘basics of democracy.’”

Of course, the only problem is that Rice would have come back to the United States and cried, “We have a crisis with Russia! This Russian man actually talked back to me! Raise NATO’s budget! Raise the Pentagon’s budget! The Cold War is back! God bless America!”

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Ironically, the recent elections in Iraq might have the salutary effect of preventing the U.S. government from invading Iran. As I wrote yesterday, the U.S. government’s candidate, Ayad Allawi, was doing not doing as well as expected in initial election returns.

Before the election, both U.S. officials and Allawi thought that they were surging in the polls, especially after Allawi spent $4 million in a glitzy Madison Avenue television advertising campaign that was strangely similar to the type that Republicans run over here. (Allawi had a plan to bring jobs to Iraqis. I don’t know where he got the $4 million to run his television campaign.)

Here’s what the LA Times wrote before the election:

“Whatever the perception, in the final week of campaigning there is little dispute that momentum is quietly building for Allawi, a onetime CIA-backed Iraqi opposition leader who many predicted would never shake his image as a U.S. puppet…. On Monday, Allawi held a news conference in Baghdad, promising that he had a plan to create 250,000 jobs.”

(Keep in mind also that Allawi served in the regime of Saddam Hussein, a dictator who was once a close ally of U.S. officials in Washington.)

Well, here is what the London Independent writes today:

“The first votes showed the Alliance was out-polling the slate put forward by Iyad Allawi, the interim Prime Minister, by three votes to one. The Iraqi List, the coalition of Mr Allawi, is so far doing less well than had been expected. He has largely supported the US in its hostility to Iran, complaining that it was interfering in Iraqi affairs.”

As I wrote yesterday, the party of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, which has strong ties to Iran, where Sistani was born and where he is still a citizen, appears to be smashing Allawi and the CIA.

The apparent handwriting on the wall—that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq might have turned over the ruling of Iraq to a regime aligned with “axis-of-evil” Iran—might well be the reason for new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s announcement in Europe yesterday that a U.S. attack on Iran was “simply not on the agenda.”

Rice’s announcement might be a wise move, especially given that U.S. troops might soon be taking orders from an Iran-aligned regime in Iraq.

Friday, February 4, 2005

U.S. officials are undoubtedly getting very nervous about initial election results coming out of Iraq.

You’ll recall that initially, after resisting national elections in Iraq, U.S. officials tried to implement some weird type of caucus system that would ensure U.S. control over the new Iraqi regime. But revered Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is a citizen of “axis of evil” Iran but who lives in Iraq would have nothing to do with that “caucus system” and demanded instead that national elections be held. U.S. officials finally succumbed to Sistani’s democratic demands … but there was a catch imposed: a requirement was inserted in the interim constitution that a 2/3 vote, rather than the simple majority, of the new national assembly would be necessary to elect a president, who would then select a prime minister.

Thus, the U.S. and its CIA-designated prime minister, Ayad Allawi, have felt very safe and comfortable that Sistani’s group, while no doubt easily able to garner a majority of the votes, could never garner 2/3 of the votes, which would mean that they’d have to come to Allawi and the CIA to make a deal, meaning that Allawi would remain as prime minister in return for giving Sistani’s group the presidency.

However, initial election returns indicate that Sistani’s group might get much more than a simple majority of the assembly—that it might even get very close to the 2/3 needed to select a president without the consent or permission of Allawi and the CIA. That would mean that a man who is closely aligned with Iran, the regime that U.S. officials revile and are even thinking about invading, might soon wield the levers of power in Iraq. Talk about blowback!

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Without U.S. government permission, the Iraqi Kurds pulled a fast one on election day. In addition to the U.S.-approved ballot, they conducted a separate referendum asking voters whether or not they approved of independence for that part of Iraq. Well, the votes were almost unanimous — yes, which has caused no small amount of consternation among Turkish officials, who have long resisted such independence.

But the Kurdish referendum raises an interesting question: Why didn’t President Bush order Iraqi officials to have a referendum on whether or not the Iraqi people support the continued U.S. military occupation of their country. I mean, we’re always hearing U.S. officials drone on about how the Iraqi people love the presence of U.S. troops in their country despite the fact that all the opinion polls show the exact opposite. Well, wouldn’t a referendum, alongside the recent elections, have provided a definitive answer? Of course it would have, which is exactly why U.S. officials would never have permitted it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

The supporters of the U.S. government’s invasion and war of aggression against the Iraqi people, which was first based on stopping Saddam’s imminent attack on the United States with the WMD that the U.S. government furnished him during the 1980s and then, in the absence of such WMD, based on a “spreading democracy” rationale, are ecstatic about the high participation among Iraqis in the recent national elections. They’re apparently thinking that such participation provides an ex post facto justification for the federals’ invasion and war of aggression against Iraq as well as a sign that the Iraqi people now love the U.S. military occupation of their country.

Unfortunately, they’re missing a few important points:

1. The Shiites voted because Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, not George W. Bush, told them to. Al-Sistani, a citizen of Iran, a country which Bush considers part of some “axis of evil,” is the most revered man in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Kurds voted out of self-interest, in an attempt to maintain their semi-independent state in the north.

2. The Iraqi people realize that their best chance of ridding themselves of the U.S. military’s occupation of their country lies in electing an Iraqi regime that will boot the U.S. government out of their country, despite the fact that the U.S. military is in the process of constructing a series of U.S. military bases across the country. Hadi Aziz, a 60-year old Iraqi, put it best: “We were waiting impatiently for this day so we could finally rid ourselves of all our troubles. Naim was just like any Iraqi who hoped for a better future for Iraq, who wanted stability for Iraq. We hoped that after the elections, the American forces would withdraw from our country.”

After all, unlike some Americans, the Iraqi people are not fooled by the U.S. government’s purported concern for their well-being and know full well that the U.S. government is partially responsible for their longtime troubles.

First, they know that it was Sistani who demanded national elections, while George W. Bush was instead demanding a caucus-type of system that would be much more likely to ensure the continuation of a U.S.-approved regime.

Second, they know that it was the U.S. government that furnished Saddam with the WMD that were later used to justify the brutal sanctions and then the brutal invasion and war of aggression against their country.

Third, they know that the U.S. government killed thousands of Iraqis during the Persian Gulf War, without remorse or regret.

Fourth, they know that the U.S. government, with its brutal sanctions system during the 1990s, contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, without remorse or regret.

Fifth, they know that the U.S. government killed Iraqis during the enforcement of the infamous “no-fly zones,” without regret or remorse.

Sixth, they know that countless Iraqis (the Pentagon’s policy is not to keep count of them) have been killed in the current invasion and war of aggression, without regret or remorse.

Seventh, they know that the U.S. government tortured, sexually abused, raped, and murdered innocent Iraqis (innocent of any involvement in the 9/11 attacks) and that it’s doing everything it can to cover up the involvement of higher-ups in the wrongdoing.

After all this, is it any wonder that Iraqis finally would like a decade of peace and quiet and finally be left alone by the U.S. government?

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Yesterday, a U.S. district judge put the quietus on the Pentagon’s hope of ignoring the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on its Cuban-style operations at Guantanamo Bay. Judge Joyce Hens Green upheld the right of Cuban detainees being held at the Pentagon’s Soviet Union-like gulag to seek relief in U.S. federal court.

The Pentagon originally had hoped that its operations in Cuba would enable it to be free of the constraints of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. federal judiciary, effectively converting the Pentagon into an independent international gendarme answerable only to itself. Then, after the recent Supreme Court decision that put the quietus to that ridiculous hope, the Pentagon hoped that it could just ignore the Supreme Court decision or dance around it. Judge Green, who was appointed by President Carter in 1979, dashed that new hope, writing in her opinion:

“Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats, that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic and fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years.”

Judge Green’s decision conflicts with that of a Bush appointee, Judge Richard Leon, which means that the D.C. Court of Appeals will have to resolve the conflict because unfortunately the Pentagon refuses to surrender, continuing to steadfastly maintain the same position that military regimes in Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil had during their infamous wars on terrorism, when they were torturing, sexually abusing, disappearing, and murdering suspected terrorists. The Pentagon’s position is that the military should have the unfettered power to punish suspected terrorists without a trial in federal court and without other due-process rights to determine whether the suspects are innocent or not. “Trust us,” is the mantra of the Pentagon, just as it was for the military regimes in Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, where thousands of innocent people were tortured, sexually abused, murdered, and disappeared during their infamous “wars on terrorism.”

So, the Pentagon, not surprisingly, is appealing Judge Green’s order, which is both bad and good. Bad in the sense that these people just don’t get it. Good in the sense that the Pentagon is deferring to the supremacy of the federal courts, at least so far.

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.