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, September 2005

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Friday, September 30, 2005

Over the Pentagon’s objections, a federal district judge has ordered the release of Abu Ghraib photographs and videotapes that the Pentagon has been keeping secret from the American people. U.S. Senators who have viewed the material expressed shock and disgust at what they saw, which is saying a lot.

The government claims that disclosure of the materials will incite terrorist actions against Americans.

What?

Wait a minute! I thought the government’s position was that terrorists hate America for its “freedom and values,” not because of the many wrongful acts committed by the U.S. government against people in the Middle East.

Well, given the government’s new position that such wrongful acts as torture, sex abuse, rape, sodomy, and murder have a tendency to get foreigners angry and hateful, thereby leading them to commit terrorism against Americans, then how about such U.S. government actions as:

(1) Longtime support of brutal dictators, such as Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, the rulers of Saudi Arabia, and the current military dictator of Pakistan;

(2) The Persian Gulf intervention, without even the semblance of the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis;

(3) The intentional destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants during the Persian Gulf War, with the specific and expressed knowledge among Pentagon planners that infections and diseases would spread among the Iraqi people;

(4) 12 years of cruel and brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people after the Persian Gulf War, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, especially through infection, disease, and malnutrition;

(5) The claim that the deaths of Iraqi children from the U.S. sanctions were “worth it” — that is, worth the attempt to oust Saddam from power and replace him with another U.S.-approved stooge;

(6) The persecution and prosecution of Americans who tried to deliver medicines to the Iraqi people in violation of the cruel and brutal sanctions that were killing their children;

(7) Unconditional military and financial support for the Israeli government;

(8) The enforcement of the “no-fly zones” over Iraq, which were not authorized by either Congress or the UN and which killed more innocent Iraqis;

(9) The stationing of U.S. forces on Islamic holy lands;

(10) The invasion of Afghanistan without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, which has resulted in thousands of innocent Iraqis being bombed and killed, without even capturing the primary suspect in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden;

(11) The invasion of Iraq, without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war and without UN authorization, which has killed and maimed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, including Iraqi children?

Given the U.S. government’s admission that the disclosure of a few photos and videotapes depicting torture, sex abuse, rape, sodomy, and murder by U.S. troops against a few Iraqis incites terrorism against Americans, isn’t it high time that U.S. officials abandon their ridiculous claim that the 9/11 attacks and other terrorists threats are rooted in hatred for America’s “freedom and values” and instead come clean with the truth — that the real reason for 9/11 and other terrorist threats against Americans is because of the bad things that the U.S. government has done to people overseas, especially in the Middle East?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

For a good example of why foreigners hate or resent the U.S. government, one need look no further than Karen Hughes, Bush’s former political advisor who Bush hired as a U.S. government public-relations representative whose mission, ironically, is supposed to be improve the image of the U.S. government among foreigners.

Hughes has been in Saudi Arabia lecturing Saudi women on why their way of life is not as good as that of women in the United States and why it would behoove them to copy the American system. What is amazing is that Hughes is unable to recognize how she and other similarly situated U.S. officials come across to foreigners when they go overseas and lecture people on what they need to do to improve their country. They don’t see what foreigners see — that U.S. officials come across as arrogant, pretentious, pompous, obnoxious, know-all-all imperial bureaucrats preaching down to what U.S. officials perceive as dumb, ignorant, and incompetent foreigners. In fact, you see this phenomenon not only in the Middle East but also all the time in Latin America.

Hughes was undoubtedly taken aback when Saudi women gave her an earful after hearing Hughes lecture them on how they should be permitted to drive cars in their own country. According to the New York Times,

“‘The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn’t happy,’ one audience member said. ‘Well, we’re all pretty happy.’ The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause.

That’s not what the lowly foreigners are supposed to say to a U.S. government bureaucrat, especially one who is telling them what they need to do to be happy and free. But in the mind of an imperial bureaucrat, this just confirms even more that these people need U.S. guidance.

Turkish women must have stunned Hughes even more. They expressed anger and resentment not against America’s “freedom and values” but rather against the U.S. government’s foreign policy, especially its war on the Iraqi people. According to the New York Times,

“Under Secretary of State Karen P. Hughes, seeking common ground with leading women’s rights advocates in Turkey, was confronted instead on Wednesday with anguished denunciations of the war in Iraq and what the women said were American efforts to export democracy by force.”

Hughes fell back and defended President Bush’s war on Iraq, by repeating the standard U.S. government bromides: how President Bush did everything to avoid attacking and invading Iraq and how America was defending itself (apparently from an imminent WMD attack). Now, I’m sure that those assertions really impressed those Turkish women!

Hughes also preached that Iraqi women are better off now than under Saddam Hussein because under Saddam they were being raped, tortured, and murdered. Of course, the women who are supposedly better off today might not include the Iraqi women who are among the estimated 30,000 Iraqi dead as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation. It also might not include those Iraqi women who have lost their sons, husbands, and fathers at the hands of the U.S. government. There are also the rapes, torture, sex abuse, and murder of Iraqis at the hands of U.S. troops to consider.

Perhaps Hughes would respond in the same way that her fellow U.S. diplomat Madeleine Albright responded when asked if the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children due to the cruel and brutal sanctions were worth the effort to rid Iraq of Saddam — that, yes, those deaths were “worth it” — words that were not as well received in Iraq and the Middle East as they were within the bowels of the U.S. government.

U.S. officials just don’t get it, and Hughes is the latest example of this. The problem is an overgrown, pretentious, obnoxious, and imperial federal government whose policies are the cause of foreign anger, hatred, and terrorism, including the 9/11 attacks. The only solution is for the American people to rein in the federal government, dismantle its overseas empire, and dismantle every restriction on private Americans to travel, trade, tour, and invest overseas. The American people are the greatest diplomats our country could have. Federal officials are the worst, and they are doing nothing but making more enemies for our country.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It is so fascinating to see conservatives criticizing President Bush over his Big Government, Big Spending, Great Society-New Deal proposals for hurricane welfare relief.

After all, don’t conservatives know that we’re at war? Don’t they know that it’s unpatriotic — even treasonous — to criticize their commander-in-chief during a time of war? Isn’t that what conservatives have been telling us since even before the president ordered U.S. troops to invade Iraq without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war?

And conservatives can’t say that we’re not still at war. After all, look at all the wars that President Bush and the feds are waging: the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on illiteracy, the war on immigrants, the war on terrorism, the war on terror, the war on terrorists, the war on extreme views, the war on guns, the war on Iraqis, and the war on Afghanis.

What gives with these conservatives? Don’t they love America? How come they’re complaining about unbridled spending by their federal god? Isn’t their god rich? Doesn’t his spending reflect how good they are?

Or are conservatives saying that unbridled federal spending on domestic welfare-warfare damages our country while unbridled federal spending on overseas welfare-warfare is helpful to our country? Now, that makes a lot of sense!

The fact is that conservatives are finally behaving correctly by criticizing President Bush and the federal government for their Big Government spending policies. They are correctly drawing a distinction between the federal government and the country and correctly showing that the federal government’s Big Spending programs for domestic welfare-warfare are damaging and dangerous to our country.

But conservatives can’t deny that they behaved incorrectly when they remained silent during the Bush administration’s profligacy with respect to overseas welfare-warfare spending, especially with respect to the illegal and unconstitutional, deadly and destructive war and rebuilding in Iraq. And conservatives must now admit that they were wrong to attack those who have had the courage to say the same thing about Big Spending overseas that conservatives are now saying about Big Spending domestically.

Conservatives were wrong to suggest that patriotism means blind support of welfare-warfare activities overseas. Genuine patriotism means taking a firm stance against government wrongdoing, whether such wrongdoing occurs at home or abroad, especially when the wrongdoing threatens the freedom and well-being of the American people. Conservatives are right to criticize federal wrongdoing in domestic affairs. Now they just have to learn how to criticize federal wrongdoing in foreign affairs.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It is not amazing that in the face of the FEMA fiasco that President Bush would suggest putting the federal government, including the military, in charge of disasters in America. It’s audacious, but not amazing. What’s amazing is that some Americans would seriously consider the president’s proposal.

After all, think about it: What has the federal government not screwed up? The drug war? The U.S. dollar? Iraq? Federal spending? The national debt? Foreign policy? Terrorism? Immigration? Responses to hurricanes? Prisoner camps? The Constitution? The war on poverty? 9/11? Education? Social Security? Medicare? Medicaid? Highways and levees?

I repeat: What have these people not screwed up?

Why in the world do Americans continue running to their federal daddy (or god) to solve their problems, when their daddy is so incompetent in everything he does and when he continues to abuse his adult-children so badly?

Bush actually wants to repeal the posse comitatus law, the 127-year-old law that prohibits the U.S. military from engaging in domestic law enforcement. You know, like how they do things in Latin America and China, where military troops patrol villages and cities, just like the police. Bush wants to put the same people who are responsible for torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of detainees and the resulting whitewashes and cover-ups, not to mention the denial of due process, habeas corpus, and jury trials for suspected terrorists, in charge of law enforcement in this country. You know, the same people who are raiding people’s homes in Iraq without warrants, indefinitely detaining suspects and denying them hearings before independent magistrates, shooting demonstrators, shutting down critical newspapers, and confiscating guns.

Before Southerners rush to embrace Bush’s plan, they might want to go read what military occupation was like after the War Between the States.

Finally, don’t forget that the definition of “emergency” is as shifting as the definition of “terrorism.”

The more that Americans continue permitting their federal officials to move our nation in the direction of centralized federal power and empire under the illusion of finally gaining “security” in life — and away from decentralized power and republic — the greater the chance that one morning they will wake up and realize that they have completely lost their liberty and security — and that of their children — to their own incompetent and abusive federal daddy.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Last Saturday (Sept. 24), I blogged about a West Point captain who is disclosing more evidence of systematic torture of Iraqi prisoners — in addition, that is, to Abu Ghraib. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times published a follow-up to the story, which gives more details on how the officer, Capt. Ian Fishback, first tried to disclose the wrongdoing to higher-ups in the army and, upon being rebuffed, ended up going outside the chain of command by making the disclosures to Human Rights Watch and Congress.

Undoubtedly, there will be those who will accuse Fishback of being unpatriotic and anti-American for taking a stand against torture of prisoners and even going outside the military system to oppose it. According to the Times,

“But for Fishback, whom friends describe as a deeply religious Christian and patriot who prays before each meal and can quote from the Constitution, the ordeal may be just beginning. Army officials have temporarily furloughed him from Special Operations training school at Ft. Bragg, N.C., to make him available to the Criminal Investigation Command as it sorts through his allegations. And sources close to the case said investigators are pressing him to identify the two sergeants who have backed up his accusations — something he does not want to do for the sake of all their careers.”

In an obvious attempt to suppress the truth, the Army is prohibiting Fishback from traveling more than 50 miles away from his base at Ft. Bragg without a pass. Yes, you read that right: In the United States, an American needs a pass to travel here in his own country. According to the Times, “When he came to Washington to meet with the committee two weeks ago, he came with a pass. But according to Human Rights Watch, the Army learned of that session and denied his request for a pass to return to Washington.”

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Obedience to Orders,” in which I suggested that VMI officers (where I went to college) were more likely to oppose immoral and unlawful orders than West Point officers. The article produced a firestorm of controversy, including among Pentagon brass and West Point cadets.

Well, it appears that Capt. Fishback is one West Point officer that is proving me wrong. This is what a good military officer is all about — the person who thinks independently and has the courage to take a stand against wrongdoing within the military system. The Times article states: “‘He’s a very decent, fine young man,’ said Col. Dan Zupan, who teaches the rules of war at West Point and was one of Fishback’s mentors. ‘He doesn’t have an ax to grind. He’s just in search of the truth.’”

I tip my hat to Capt. Fishback. Too bad the people punishing him (that is, those with the standard military mindset) are of a different breed.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

An army captain, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, has come forward and disclosed that U.S. troops in Iraq routinely tortured, beat, and abused Iraqi prisoners. This is in addition to Abu Ghraib. The captain has made his disclosures to members of the U.S. Congress because his superiors in the military have persistently ignored his disclosures. According to one of the sergeants involved, the mistreatment included daily blows to the head, chest, legs, and stomach and that “just like” Abu Ghraib, “we did it for amusement.” The mistreatment occurred at a base near Fallujah.

As longtime supporters of FFF know, we have taken a firm stand against the torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of detainees, even long before the Abu Ghraib disclosures. (See, for example, “ Obedience to Orders,” “The Senate Needs to Get to the Point about Abu Ghraib,” “Lessons about Our Constitution from Abu Ghraib,” “Imperial Shame for America at Abu Ghraib,” and “The Pentagon’s Plunge into Barbarism.”)

We have also taken a firm stance against the Pentagon whitewashes and cover-ups of this scandal.

This is not what America should be all about — and it’s not what a military officer or non-commissioned officer should be all about.

The fact that this type of mistreatment took place in Iraq makes the problem even more egregious. Because this is a Pentagon invasion of an innocent country — that is, a country that never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Keep in mind that neither the Iraqi people nor their ruler, Saddam Hussein, had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks, which means that there have been many more innocent Iraqi people killed in the Iraq invasion and occupation than innocent Americans who were killed on 9/11.

The beatings, rapes, sex abuse, and murder were committed against people whose worst “crime” was opposing the wrongful invasion of their country. According to the Pentagon, anyone who resists a U.S. invasion of his country, no matter how illegal or unconstitutional, is a “terrorist” — an “illegal combatant” for not wearing a military uniform — and a person unworthy of civilized treatment.

Even if one buys the notion that the Pentagon invaded Iraq out of love for the Iraqi people, how could such love be reconciled with torturing, beating, raping, sexually abusing, and murdering people who did nothing worse than oppose the invasion of their country? Moreover, how can such mistreatment — especially combined with the brutal sanctions that the Pentagon enforced against Iraq and which killed so many Iraqi children — be reconciled with President Bush’s and the Pentagon’s claim that Iraq was invaded out of love for the Iraqi people?

The army captain, however, might be naïve in thinking that the Congress will do anything about this, especially given that many members of Congress are in the pockets of the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex. Congress, which cowardly and unconstitutionally delegated its power to declare war on Iraq to President Bush, has remained silent and supine during the entire torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal. While Congress might well try to whitewash the matter with some superficial hearings, the only real solution to this mess lies with the appointment of an independent panel to investigate the wrongdoing and the appointment of independent federal prosecutors with the power to prosecute malefactors, no matter how high up they might be.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ironically, Mother Nature might end up saving the lives of tens of thousands of people in Iran and Syria.

Keep in mind the billions of dollars that Bush’s war on Iraq and resulting occupation is costing the American people.

Now, combine those billions with the billions of dollars that Bush has pledged to the Hurricane Katrina victims.

Combine those billions with the billions that Bush will have to match for the Hurricane Rita victims.

Combine that with the fact that some Republicans are now pointing out how unbridled federal spending threatens the economic well-being of our nation, much as unbridled government spending by the Soviet government threatened the well-being of that nation.

What are the chances now that Bush will spend billions more to invade, conquer, and occupy either Iran or Syria? In fact, the costs of financing all these multi-billion-dollar welfare-warfare expenditures might well have been a factor in Bush’s recent decision to cut a deal with North Korea, which Bush has consistently said is evil, which effectively guaranteed that Bush would not invade, conquer, and occupy that country in the near future.

Thus, while the people of Louisiana and Texas are suffering the ravages of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the people of Iran or Syria — especially the tens of thousands who would be killed or maimed in another Bush “war of liberation” — might well find themselves thanking Mother Nature for her intervention.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hurricane Rita threatens the residents of the Texas but it also threatens to place President Bush and his Big Spending conservative supporters between Iraq and a hard place.

After all, once Bush and his fellow Big Spenders opened the federal spigots to invade and rebuild Iraq, including reconstructing schools and hospitals destroyed in the invasion, how could they say to the Katrina victims, “Compassionate conservatives only help war victims in Iraq with billions of federal dollars, not Hurricane victims in Louisiana and Mississippi”?

And now that they’ve opened the federal spigots to provide hundreds of billions of dollars to the Katrina victims, how could they dare tell victims of Hurricane Rita, “Compassionate conservatives only help Hurricane victims in Louisiana and Mississippi with billions of dollars, not those in Texas”?

If Hurricane Rita does inflict significant damage, one can already hear President Bush exclaiming, “We are compassionate conservatives. We are good people. We take care of everyone. Money is no object. We are the federal government. We are rich. We have countless billions of dollars to give away to everyone who needs help.”

Unfortunately, all too many Americans, having come to accept the role of the federal government as national and worldwide welfare-warfare daddy, fail (or refuse) to recognize the grave economic and financial threat that unbridled federal spending poses to the freedom and well-being of our nation. The problem has all the makings of a perfect government storm that threatens to engulf everyone in the country.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

President Bush just cut a deal with Kim Jong Il, the dictator of North Korea, whom the president has said is a member of the axis of evil. Yet, the North Korean dictator is no different, in principle, from the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Moreover, North Korea is not a democracy and the North Korean people are not free. In fact, everyone, including President Bush and the Pentagon, would agree that the North Korean people are less free than the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein. Worst of all, the North Korean dictator has WMD while Saddam Hussein did not.

So, why aren’t conservatives and neo-conservatives attacking President Bush for not invading and occupying and liberating and bring freedom and democracy to North Korea? Why aren’t they saying that the North Koreans would be better off — even the tens of thousands who would be killed and maimed in the process — with an invasion and occupation? Isn’t that what they have said to justify their invasion and occupation of Iraq? Why aren’t they exclaiming that the world would be better off without the dictator of North Korea?

As President Bush and his conservatives and neo-conservatives supporters are implicitly acknowledging, it is up to the North Koreans, not the U.S. government, to throw off the shackles of their own tyranny. If the president had made the same acknowledgement with respect to Iraq, tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people would still be alive and whole today and free to decide for themselves whether to revolt against the tyranny of their own government. And the U.S. government would not be sinking in the Iraqi quicksand of chaos, death, destruction, and tyranny.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ever since the national elections were held in Iraq, U.S. and British officials have said that the new Iraqi regime is sovereign despite the U.S.-British military occupation of the country. Yet, after what happened this week, Basra officials could be forgiven for not understanding exactly how the U.S.-British principles of sovereignty operate.

Driving a civilian car, two British soldiers who were dressed as Arabs ran an Iraqi checkpoint. That resulted in a fire fight in which an Iraqi policeman was killed. The two British soldiers were taken into custody and put into a Basra jail.

British military officials, however, maintained that under the laws of their occupation of Iraq, British troops don’t have to answer to Iraqi officials, apparently not even when they are illegal combatants for not wearing uniforms or when they drive through checkpoints without stopping or when they kill Iraqi policemen who are enforcing the checkpoints.

Rather than making that argument in Iraqi courts, however, the British army simply attacked the Basra jail and freed the two soldiers by force. The prison break also enabled 150 Iraqi prisoners to escape.

Meanwhile, the British army is continuing with its mandate to teach the principles of law and order to the people of Basra. And if that dead Iraqi policeman’s family retaliates with a terrorist strike, it will be have nothing to do with the killing of its loved one but instead simply because the family hates the U.S. and Britain for their “freedom and values.”

Monday, September 19, 2005

Welcome to the fiscal responsibility party, conservatives! We libertarians have been waiting quite a while for you all! Years, in fact!

After years of silence in the face of unbridled federal spending, conservatives are finally raising some questions about the damage that Big Spending poses to our nation. Why, even President Bush, by saying that offsetting federal budget cuts will have to be made, is implicitly acknowledging that uncontrolled federal spending threatens the economic well-being of our nation.

Conservatives now have some explaining to do: Since federal Big Spending to rebuild the U.S. Gulf Coast is causing conservatives to openly take a stand in favor of at least some sort of fiscal responsibility, how do they explain their silence in the face of massive federal Big Spending to rebuild Iraq?

After all, if Big Spending for the U.S. is damaging to our country, why wouldn’t Big Spending for Iraq be just as damaging to our country? Maybe conservatives will even start reminding us again of how they supposedly brought down the Soviet Union — by making the Soviet government spend the nation into bankruptcy.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Conservative Richard Nixon once said, “We are all Keynesians now.” Conservative George W. Bush can now follow in Nixon’s footsteps by announcing, “We are all Big Government people now.”

As most everyone undoubtedly knows, Bush has announced one of the Biggest Government schemes in American history, with his massive Big Government federal spending program to “rebuild the Gulf Coast” and even put a stop to racial discrimination.

Would someone please remind me what the difference is between a conservative and a liberal?

Why, when you add Bush’s massive Big Government, Big Spending welfare rebuilding plan for the Gulf Coast with that of Iraq, you almost get the feeling that Woodrow Wilson,Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and even the Roman pharaohs have reincarnated themselves into the master nation-builder and city-builder George W. Bush.

Bush says that he’s got the money to spend. Why, it’s federal money. As in “free.” No one need be concerned. The federal government is our daddy, and our daddy is rich and he loves us and he’s taking good care of us. Read his lips — no new taxes! Well unless you include a constantly depreciating currency as a tax, but what public-school graduate would ever figure that one out?

Bush just wants to help the poor by expanding the deadly and destructive welfare state, both in New Orleans and Iraq, because he’s a compassionate conservative, which means he just loves poor people. And the best way to show his compassion and love is to spend “free” federal money willy-nilly for debit cards, public housing, public schooling, pork-barrel roads, welfare, SBA loans, and the like. There’s no limit to our daddy’s largess. Just open the federal spigots and increase everyone’s allowance.

So what if inflation is the most deceitful, regressive tax of all, a tax that falls most heavily on the poor? As long as the poor don’t figure out how they’re being scammed, what’s the difference, right?

Conservative Big Government supporters of the president are saying, “Oh, all we have to do is get rid of the waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs.” Yeah, as if we haven’t heard that meaningless political bromide for at least the past 30 years! As conservative Tom DeLay has implied, one’s person’s “budget fat” is another person’s essential federal pork-barrel program.

When the Big Government, Big Spending financial and economic storm comes, you can bet your bottom dollar (which will be plummeting in value) that Big Government conservatives will never accept individual responsibility for their grandiose Big Government welfare schemes. Instead, they will be blaming the financial and economic Big Government crisis on greedy, profit-seeking, capitalist swine or on Big Oil, Big Business, OPEC, terrorists, communists, Mother Nature, external forces, or unknown forces. And make no mistake about it: they will be seeking more federal power to “deal with the crisis” that their Big Government, Big Spending policies have wrought, just as the Big Government, Big Spending FDR people did after their monetary polices brought on the Great Depression.

Contrary to what conservatives might suggest, we are not all Keynesians or Big Government advocates now. Because we libertarians continue to stand apart from these people, with our consistent and steadfast stance in favor of moral principles, economic liberty, free markets, fiscal responsibility, voluntary charity, and genuinely limited government. That’s why the future well-being of our nation continues to lie with libertarian ideas and philosophy, not the Big Government, Big Spending ideas and philosophy of conservatives and liberals.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Not surprisingly, my article “The Deadly Legacy of the Welfare State Lies in New Orleans,” which attacked New Deal and Great Society welfare-state programs, has ruffled feathers not only among leftists but also among conservatives.

A conservative website entitled frontpagemag.com has published an article entitled “Hurricane Katrina: A Post-Mortem” by one Carl F. Horowitz which in addition to saying that the feds should be given “a modest round of applause” for the job they have done in the Katrina disaster also attacks my article!

Here’s what Horowitz says:

“Purist libertarians, for whom central government is the fount of all evil, also were spinning a predictable narrative. Future of Freedom Foundation President Jacob Hornberger, for example, cited ‘the 70-year-old New Deal-Great Society’ as the root cause of the destruction. He was apparently unable to explain how FDR or LBJ caused the great floods of 1900 and 1927.’”

Unfortunately, however, it seems that Horowitz might not have read my article carefully because I never cited the 70-year-old New Deal-Great Society as the “root cause of the destruction.” In fact, as Leonard E. Read used to say, I happen to be very grateful that the weather is still one of the few parts of our lives that is not controlled by the federal government.

What my article did say is that the New Deal-Great Society socialist programs have failed to win their 70-year-old “war on poverty,” a fact that cannot be disputed in view of all the poor people in New Orleans who lacked the financial means to escape the disaster. Unfortunately, Horowitz, along with many other conservatives and leftists, apparently fails to grasp that elementary but critically important point and therefore fails to confront it directly.

It would have been more constructive had Horowitz tried to answer that central point of my article — that the reason that all those penniless poor people in New Orleans were waiting for the federal government to come save them is that the beloved conservative-leftist New Deal-Great Society 70-year-old “war on poverty” has not only failed to end poverty but instead actually exacerbated it. Perhaps the difficulty in disputing that central point — that people lacked the financial means to escape the flooding because of the socialistic welfare state — led Horowitz in the unfortunate direction of incorrectly implying that my article was blaming the socialistic welfare state for the flooding itself.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Maybe a silver lining in the Katrina disaster will be that American will reevaluate the role of the federal government in their lives rather than continuing to view the federal government as their national daddy.

Of course, everyone recognizes that the federal government’s response to the disaster has itself been a disaster. But unfortunately too few are asking the important question: Why should the federal government play any role at all in disaster relief?

Look at all the things that the federal government has touched in the last several decades. All of them are a mess. Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid. Education. The drug war. Foreign policy. The war on terrorism. Immigration. The Economy. The dollar. Government spending. Iraq. The war on poverty. 9/11.

Now, ask yourself: Why do Americans continue to place their faith in the federal government to take care of them, especially when the government makes a mess out of everything it handles?

Equally important has been the voluntary response of Americans to the Katrina disaster, which has got to have leftists very nervous and concerned.

According to an article in the New York Times,

“Donations for the victims of Hurricane Katrina have come in at a blistering pace that exceeds that of other recent disasters, charities are saying. Almost all of the money is going to the American Red Cross, in large part because other international relief and development organizations simply do not have significant operations in the United States. Some groups, like Oxfam and Mercy Corps, are now reassessing their long-held assumption that the federal government is equipped to handle American crises and are taking steps to help as well.”

Why should that leave leftists nervous and concerned? Because they know that the entire foundation of their socialistic welfare state is based on the notion that Americans cannot be trusted to care for others on a purely voluntary basis.

For 15 years, we’ve been arguing here at FFF that if the income tax and all welfare programs (including Social Security) were abolished, you could count on Americans to help those in need on a purely voluntary basis. We’ve said it in regard to Social Security, where most children could be counted on to honor their mother and father on a voluntary basis, especially since they wouldn’t have Social Security taxes withheld from their paychecks anymore. (Charitable groups could and would take up the slack.) We’ve said it in regard to education (in response to the standard question: “How would the poor be educated in a free-market educational system?”). We’ve said it respect to every single socialist welfare-state program.

Leftists say that Americans cannot be trusted to do so — that the only people you can really count on to love the poor were federal politicians and bureaucrats — and that the American people have to be forced to share with others through the power of the IRS and federal welfare agencies.

What false nonsense, as we are seeing with respect to the Katrina disaster.

Before Americans adopted the income tax and the socialistic welfare state, the United States was the most prosperous and charitable nation in history. The reason revolved around an intricate combination and integration of capital accumulation (on which a rising standard of living is based) and voluntary charity.

Castigating government for doing what it does best — screw things up — only sets up the situation for more messes into the future. Maintaining the federal government’s role as national daddy (or god) is the wrong answer, as we have learned time and time again.

It’s time to restore our America’s vision of economic liberty by leaving people free to keep everything they earn and decide for themselves what to do with it. All it takes is a belief in one’s self, in others, and in the freedom of the individual to make choices with respect to his own money.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

As longtime FFF supporters know, we have taken a leading role in trying to alert people to the ominous danger of the Jose Padilla case, where the Pentagon has been doing its best to hijack America’s criminal justice system.

Recently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing the district’s ruling in favor of Padilla, ruled in favor of the Pentagon and against Padilla.

Included in today’s FFF Email Update is an analysis of the decision by Joanne Mariner, deputy director of the America’s division of Human Rights Watch. It would be difficult to find a better analysis of the Fourth Circuit’s opinion than this one. I highly recommend it.

For those who might be wondering how the military would decide which Americans are terrorists and which ones are not, given that the military opposes jury trials for such a determination, the answer can be found in Iraq, where the military, as part of its occupation of that country, has steadfastly opposed setting up an American-style system of independent magistrates and grand juries to determine if probable cause exists to hold a detainee.

So, how does the Pentagon make the determination as to whether a person should be indefinitely detained or not. Check out this Washington Post article, which is also linked in today’s FFF Email Update, which describes the Pentagon’s procedure:

“A masked teenager in an Iraqi army uniform walked slowly through a crowd of 400 detainees captured Monday, studying each face and rendering his verdict with a simple hand gesture, like a Roman emperor deciding the fate of gladiators. A thumb pointed down meant the suspect was not thought to be an insurgent and would be released by U.S. soldiers. A thumb pointed up meant a man would be removed from the concertina wire-encased pen, handcuffed with tape or plastic ties and taken by truck to a military base to be interrogated. ‘Another bad guy right here,’ an American interpreter shouted when the masked Iraqi singled out a man in a yellow dishdasha , or traditional gown, who shook his head and protested in Turkish. A captive who was spared exhaled with relief and placed his hand on his heart.”

To those who are unaware of this, Jose Padilla is an American citizen who has been held for “terrorism” by the Pentagon in a military brig for some 3 years, denied due process of law and a trial and, for much of that time, denied access to an attorney.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: America will rue the day that U.S. officials are permitted to can the Constitution and impose Iraqi-type “freedom” on the American people.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fox News (of all places) is reporting that some of President Bush’s pro-war supporters are now questioning the president’s military “tactics” in Iraq.

As it begins to dawn on people what Bush’s invasion has wrought, I think we’re going to see increasing flailing among the pro-war supporters, especially the standard cry, “If only they had used my plan, everything would have worked out.” Expect them also to blame the perverse result of the war on peaceniks and pacifists rather than take individual responsibility for what they have wrought in Iraq and for America. And if a financial crisis hits because of out-of-control federal spending, expect them to blame OPEC, profiteers, Big Oil, businessmen, and price gougers rather than take individual responsibility for their grandiose spending.

I think it’s starting to dawn on the pro-war advocates that no matter what happens, the regime in charge in Iraq is going to remain a radical Shiite, Iran-aligned, brutal Islamic regime. As some are putting it, Bush’s war is over and Iran won it.

So, in another perverse outcome of U.S. foreign wars, the U.S. has exchanged one brutal regime (Saddam’s) that it used to support with a new brutal regime that it is currently supporting. In fact, the irony is that while Saddam killed insurgents that were rebelling against his regime, the U.S. is now killing insurgents on behalf of the new Shiite, Iran-aligned regime.

And who do you think the victims and their families are going to blame? And who do you think the victims and their families are going to blame? (Hint: After the U.S. government ousted the democratically elected prime minister of Iran and helped the Shah’s forces to torture and abuse his own people, the Iranian people have never forgot the role that the U.S. government played in such wrongdoing.)

Consider this excerpt from an article in the Washington Post:

“Indeed, as they round up hundreds of detainees, Iraqi forces, including the 302nd, have severely beaten some captives, U.S. officers said. ‘They were torturing people and breaking their bones,’ said one U.S. officer in Baghdad, who did not specify the Iraqi unit involved. ‘I said, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’”

But how much credibility does any U.S. official have who is purporting to stop the Iraqi forces from torturing and brutalizing detainees after Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and U.S.-run facilities in Afghanistan? Answer: None.

That’s the “noble cause” that U.S. occupation troops now killing and dying for — to preserve the political power of a brutal, torturous, Iran-aligned, Shiite Islamic regime whose interests lie in killing Sunni insurgents. I think that’s why the president’s pro-war supporters are now starting to jump ship, especially before the 2006 elections that could “regime change” them — they have figured all this out.

What happens when the American people also begin figuring it out, not only those who have lost soldiers in Iraq but also those whose sons and daughters or spouses are still stationed in Iraq ? Good question!

Monday, September 12, 2005

One of arguments that the Bush administration is using to justify its wrongful invasion of Iraq and its “war on terrorism” is: “See, our policies are working because we haven’t suffered any terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11.” The argument is then used to justify “staying the course,” which means more federal power and more federal money. (Of course, the argument ignores the inconvenient fact of the recent terrorist attack in Great Britain.)

However, it’s nothing more than another clever ploy.

How do we know this?

Because we know what their response would be if there was another terrorist strike in the United States. Amidst all the color-coded panic, do you think they would say “Our war on terrorism has failed and we were wrong in invading Iraq”? If you believe that, I’ve got some nice property in Orleans Parrish I’d like to sell you. Instead, they would exclaim, “The new terrorist strike shows that we’re still in danger — that the terrorists still hate our freedom and values and still have the capability of striking us on our homeland.” And they would then use the new terrorist strike to seek more federal power and more federal money.

In other words, it’s a clever political ploy because either way things go, the result will be the same — more federal power and more federal money.

These people are good, uh?

It’s the same political ploy, by the way, that has been utilized so effectively over the past several decades in the “war on drugs.” If drug usage goes up, they exclaim, “This shows that we need to crack down even more,” which means more federal power and more federal money. But if drug usage goes down, they say, “We’re making progress and can’t let up now,” which means more federal power and more federal money.”

Ultimately, the solution to both wars — the war on terrorism and the war on drugs — is the recognition that the federal government is the root cause of the problems. Its hypocritical and deadly foreign policies (including sanctions, support of dictators, and invasions) engenders the anger and hatred that produce the threat of terrorism, which then gives rise to the “war on terrorism,” which then means more federal power and more federal money. Its drug-prohibition policy give rise to the drug lords and drug gangs, which then gives rise to the “war on the drugs,” which then means more federal power and more federal money.

By recognizing the root causes of America’s woes, the American people can then force their federal politicians and bureaucrats to abandon failed and destructive and immoral policies with the aim of restoring liberty, peace, and harmony to our land.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The receding floodwaters in New Orleans are revealing not just the devastation from Hurricane Katrina but also an enormous moral and intellectual tragedy that has been unfolding for decades — the ever-increasing deeply felt commitment by the conservative movement to the principles of big government.

A front-page article in today’s Los Angeles Times, A Comeback for Big Government,” points out:

“President Bush, who came to office pledging to complete the Reagan revolution against big government, is set to preside over one of the biggest government undertakings in recent U.S. history — the reconstruction of the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast. In doing so, the president is turning to many of the New Deal and Great Society programs that he long criticized as too costly and a threat to Americans’ sense of self-reliance.”

A Washington Post article entitled “Some Urge Greater Use of Troops in Major Disasters,” quotes James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation, the premier conservative educational foundation in the country:

“Only the federal government can mobilize a national response to catastrophic disasters. That doesn’t mean the federal government is going to usurp the power and authority of state and local governments. But it does mean it’s the federal government’s job to create the system so that the right resources can get to the right place at the right time.”

This is all so sad and so tragic.

Of course, we libertarians have been warning the American people for years that conservatives could not be relied upon to stand steadfastly in favor of individual liberty, free markets, and limited government, especially in a crisis or emergency or when public opinion polls were looking for strong government, even a Napoleonic one.

Even more tragically, conservatives continue to carry on their stationery and website banners their old 1950s bromide “free enterprise, private property, and limited government,” even as they continue to endorse the war on terrorism, the war on Iraq, the New Deal, the Great Society, the war on drugs, and now the federal takeover of New Orleans. It reminds me of the movie Night of the Living Dead, where the zombies continued to maintain a semblance of their old alive selves even as they feasted on human flesh.

The basic problem with the conservative mindset is that its highest priority is not liberty but rather conserving whatever the status quo is. So, if you already have a free society, conservatives perform a valuable function — conserving freedom. But if you have a statist or socialist society, conservatives perform a horrible function — conserving the statism and socialism — and thus they become as big an obstacle to restoring the free society as leftists are.

To make matters worse, yesterday in the Jose Padilla case a 3-judge panel on the conservative Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court and ruled that the president and the Pentagon can arrest and punish Americans accused of terrorism without federal-court indictments or due process of law. See my January 2005 article “Augusto Pinochet and the Conservative Threat to America.”

The conservative-leftist big-government vision is bereft of moral or practical value and is leading our nation down the path of moral, financial, and economic bankruptcy. The receding flood waters of New Orleans are revealing that the best hope for a rebirth of liberty lies with libertarianism.

Friday, September 9, 2005

The federal response to the New Orleans disaster brings home the importance of dismantling the U.S. military empire overseas.

Why?

Because as long as the American people continue to permit federal officials to station troops overseas (more than 100 countries), invade foreign nations, impose brutal embargoes, etc, there will be the ever-present potential of counter-attacks by overseas terrorists.

How does that relate to New Orleans?

Because if the terrorist counterattack is substantial (i.e., a dirty nuclear bomb), it is a virtual certainty that martial law will be declared by the feds.

Why should that matter?

Because the first thing U.S. troops will be doing is what they did in Iraq and are doing in New Orleans: confiscating guns, which, as British citizens at Lexington and Concord clearly understood, is the first step in ensuring that a citizenry is peaceful and obedient, especially when faced with federal orders enforced by compliant federal troops. (Here’s our quote for the day in today’s FFF Email Update: “When you get 15 m-16s pointed at you and they line you up against the wall, it’s kind of scary.  — JoAnn Guidos, bar owner in New Orleans after federal marshals confiscated her her weapons and ordered her to leave her property.)

And that raises the risk that President Bush, who apparently believes that the people of Iraq are now free, and his troops might impose their Iraqi-type “freedom” on the American people in name of protecting us from the terrorists—warrantless searches and seizures, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detentions, kidnappings and renditions to foreign countries, torture and sex abuse of detainees, closure of newspapers critical of the government, burqas for American women, closure of alcohol and video stores, and perhaps even the adoption of a new Iraqi-type constitution guaranteeing Islamic “freedom” for the American people.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Isn’t it ironic that President Bush is condemning the looters in New Orleans while offering a “free” $2,000 debit card to Katrina victims? After all, Bush isn’t using his own money to fund the debit card. He’s being “good” with money that is being looted from American taxpayers by his agents in the IRS and Federal Reserve.

In fact, one could easily argue that the N.O. looters are behaving more efficiently than Bush because they’re not using high-salaried middlemen (IRS and the Fed officials) to do the looting for them.

But from a moral standpoint, is there any difference between the two forms of looting? Sure, one is done by government officials, even democratically elected ones, and the other is done by a private thieves, but we’re talking morals, not politics. How can what is ordinarily considered an immoral act be converted into a moral act simply through majority vote?

Compare Bush’s IRS-Fed-funded looting with the private sector, where Americans are voluntarily donating millions of dollars to assist the hurricane victims.

Also, reflect upon the fact that our American ancestors knowingly and deliberately lived without the federal income tax, IRS, Federal Reserve, and government welfare for more than 125 years after our nation was established. The reason? To our forefathers freedom included keeping everything you earn and deciding what to do with it. Not only did their concept of freedom (as compared to the socialist, welfare-state concept of freedom) produce the most prosperous nation in history, it also produced the most charitable nation in history.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Federal officials are saying that federal aid for Hurricane Katrina victims could reach as high as $150 billion. President Bush has already asked his Congress for $10 billion, which it readily approved. Of course, this is on top of the billions of dollars being spent on the federal military adventure in Iraq and on all the other welfare enactments, including the recent vote-buying, budget-busting highway pork bill.

Hey, it’s free federal money! The federal government, as everyone knows, is rich. It can spend as much money as it wants. Don’t ask any questions, such as: How in the world does the federal government spend unlimited amounts of money? Where does it get its money? How come it can operate differently than state governments and families?

Also, don’t forget that federal welfare, both foreign and domestic, reflects that all of us are good and caring and compassionate. Just keep telling yourself that when you see how much taxes are withheld from your paycheck each pay period and sent to the IRS and Social Security Administration.

In the coming months, as prices for everything begin to soar, reflecting the depreciating value of the dollar, expect federal officials to blame rising prices on “external forces” — such as OPEC, Big Oil, Hurricane Katrina, the terrorists, and perhaps even the communists. It will be all someone else’s fault and not because of out-of-control federal spending by our national federal daddy to pay for its many welfare and warfare projects at home and abroad.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

According to the New York Times,

“The one significant concession made by the Kurds in the constitutional talks was the deletion of language allowing them the right to secede, under certain circumstances, from the Iraqi state.”

No doubt that concession was insisted on by U.S. officials. No sense in giving such radical ideas to the American people.

Monday, September 5, 2005

If history is any guide, you can rest assured that the president and his august members of Congress will respond to the Katrina disaster in the predictable way: Increase the size and power of the federal government, in order to make it more competent and responsive to the needs of the people.

Another thing is for certain as well: That the president and his august members of Congress, who were recently crowing about their vote-buying, pork-barrel highway bill, will scrupulously avoid talking about their diversion of funds that were needed to fortify the federally owned and federally run levee system in New Orleans to the federal military adventure in Iraq.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Undoubtedly, as the Katrina disaster continues to unfold, there will be some in the “my federal government, right or wrong” crowd who will be exclaiming that it is “unpatriotic” to criticize or condemn the federal government in the midst of its continued military occupation of Iraq, where U.S. soldiers continue to kill and die.

Balderdash!

If the federal government is engaged in wrongdoing, whether foreign or domestic, it is the moral and political duty of each and every citizen to criticize and condemn the wrongdoing and to push the federal government in the right direction.

That principle of genuine patriotism applies whether the federal government is engaged in wrongdoing here or abroad, including its wrongdoing in Iraq, to wit: its intentional destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage facilities with the knowledge that such action would spread infection and disease among the citizenry, its brutal sanctions which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, its callous indifference to those deaths, its punishment of U.S. citizens for trying to bring medicine to the Iraqi people, and its unprovoked military invasion and occupation that has killed and maimed tens of thousands of innocent people and converted Iraq into a wasteland of death, destruction, and chaos, not to mention that it succeeded in diverting billons of dollars of hard-earned U.S. taxpayer money and resources to a horrific overseas military adventure that has accomplished nothing more than install, in the name of “American freedom,” a radical Shiite, Iran-aligned, brutal Islamic regime to replace the secular dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Friday, September 2, 2005

I’m shocked that people are shocked to learn that the federal government response to the New Orleans disaster is itself a disaster. After all, what aspect of our lives that the federal government touches isn’t a disaster? The drug war? Social Security? Health care? The dollar? Federal spending? Iraq? Foreign policy? The “war on terrorism”? Education? Immigration?

The problem is that since it has become engrained in the American people that the federal government is their daddy, hope springs eternal that their daddy will finally do a good job with something — like taking care of his adult-children, at the least in the midst of disaster. But unfortunately, in New Orleans their federal daddy has let them down once again.

Our American ancestors had it right: Prohibit the government from serving as a national daddy, which then nurtures the strength and fiber of the people to prepare for and face disasters without the mindset that an abusive, negligent, and incompetent federal daddy will do it for them.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

President Bush’s claim that terrorism is an act of war rather than a crime has been burst asunder once again by his very own Justice Department, which just announced the criminal indictments in federal court of four terrorist suspects.

Grand jury indictments and due process of law is the way that America is supposed to treat suspected terrorists and others accused of crimes, as compared to, say, Cuba under Castro, where they are tried by military tribunals and denied independent counsel, due process of law, and jury trials.

That’s why the Justice Department indicted Zacharias Moussaoui, one of the people who are accused of being the 20th hijackers on 9/11. It’s also why it had Timothy McVeigh indicted. And the D.C. snipers. And other accused terrorists. That’s how America and the Constitution were designed to work. The Framers never envisioned dictatorial power, either presidential or military, to punish criminal suspects.

So, how do Bush and the Pentagon justify holding accused American terrorist Jose Padilla as a prisoner in the “war on terrorism,” claiming the power to punish, even execute him, without the normal judicial processes? They say that they have the power to pick and choose which suspected terrorists get the military treatment and which ones get the federal-court treatment. Their position makes a mockery of both the rule of law and the principle of equal application of the law. It also provides them with the arbitrary and discretionary dictatorial power to do to any other American what they have been doing to Padilla.

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.