Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, March 2006

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Friday, March 31, 2006

It’s amusing to watch those members of Congress who claim, on the one hand, that the U.S. government invaded Iraq to help the Iraqi people, while, at the same time, are doing everything they can to keep immigrants from coming to the United States.

Their position is this: “Our government will come to help you with our soldiers, bombs, missiles, and torture because we love you, but don’t for moment think that this means we want you to come over here and live near us.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Oh well, so much for the virtues of “democracy” and “sovereignty” in Iraq.

Do you remember how President Bush was singing the praises of “democracy” and “sovereignty” in Iraq, especially after those infamous WMD failed to materialize?

Well, yesterday the New York Times reported that President Bush is telling the new Islamic Shiite regime in Iraq that he will not accept Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister of Iraq. According to the Times,

“Mr. Khalilzad said Mr. Bush ‘doesn’t want, doesn’t support, doesn’t accept’ Mr. Jaafari as the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc. It was the first ‘clear and direct message’ from the Americans on a specific candidate for prime minister, Mr. Taki said.”

Not accept? I thought that “democratic” Iraq was now free, independent, and sovereign.

Today’s New York Times reports

“Facing growing pressure from the Bush administration to step down, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of Iraq vigorously asserted his right to stay in office on Wednesday and warned the Americans against interfering in the country’s political process.”

As we have long pointed out, even before the invasion of Iraq, the reason for the invasion was “regime change,” pure and simple. The WMD rationale, the democracy-spreading rationale, and all the other rationales were designed to provide cover for the real aim of the invasion, the same aim that U.S. officials had in 1953 with respect to Iran — the ouster of one ruler and his replacement by a U.S.-approved stooge who would do the bidding of U.S. officials. That was the aim of the cruel and brutal sanctions that U.S. officials inflicted on the Iraqi people, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, and that was the aim of the president’s invasion, which has killed and maimed tens of thousands and destroyed Iraq.

Consider now the latest perversity in all this: U.S. troops continue to kill and die to preserve the radical Islamic Shiite regime that President Bush is now very dissatisfied with. Oh, did I mention that Jaafari is allied with radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, whose brutal militia groups have attacked and killed not only U.S. troops but Iraqi citizens as well?

What do pro-empire advocates do now — support President Bush or support the democratically elected radical Islamic Shiite regime that the president has installed into power in Iraq?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A lawsuit filed by a married California lawyer, John Claassen, is a good example of the wrong direction our country is headed in with respect to liberty and private property. The lawyer, who is in the process of getting a divorce, is suing the online dating service E-Harmony for its policy of not accepting profiles from married people. Claassen feels that E-Harmony is violating his “civil rights” and is seeking damages of $12,000.

Hopefully, the judge will summarily throw Claassen’s lawsuit out of court. Under the principles of freedom and private property on which our nation was founded, E-Harmony has the right to run its business any way it wants, and that includes the right to discriminate against married men. Claassen has no right to dictate to E-Harmony how to operate its business any more than E-Harmony has a right to tell dictate to Claassen how to run his law business. E-Harmony hasn’t violated his “civil rights” or any other of his rights. If Claassen wants an online dating service that caters to married people, then he has the right to go out and find one or even open a new one. But Claassen does not have any right to force anyone to run his business in accordance with Claassen’s desires or dictates.

My advice to Mr. Claassen: Dismiss your suit, apologize to E-Harmony and offer to reimburse any expenses it’s incurred, and then go take some continuing education courses in libertarian philosophy.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Once again, to deal with the immigration crisis, Congress is proposing new immigration “reforms” to deal with all the problems that previous “reforms” have produced. The entire process is a textbook example of what Ludwig von Mises taught about interventionism: a government intervention into economic activity inevitably produces new problems but rather than simply repeal the intervention, government officials enact “reforms” to remedy the problems. Those “reforms” not only do not fix the problems, they actually produce new problems. And the process becomes endless until the citizenry figure out that their freedoms have been extinguished by a constant series of government “reforms.”

The whole mess started out by trying to criminalize the illegal entry of people who simply want to come to the United States to work and better their lives. And look where the “reforms” took us — criminalizing Americans for hiring or sheltering or transporting illegal immigrants. And now, the House of Representatives wants to put Americans into jail for simply helping illegal immigrants. Yeah, like putting church ministers and social workers into jail for obeying God’s second-greatest commandment is going to finally fix America’s immigration crisis.

The only solution to America’s immigration woes lies with freedom and the free market, which is also the only solution that is consistent with Christian values. What greater gift to bequeath to the world than a model society based on both free-market and Christian principles? What better reason to tear down the walls and embrace the free movements of people and capital?

Monday, March 27, 2006

One of the most fascinating characteristics of the American people is their unwillingness to believe that U.S. officials lie. Even when federal officials are caught lying, the mindset of all too many Americans is simply to bury the lie deep within their subconscious, behave as if it were an isolated event, and return to believing that U.S. officials never lie.

A recent example involves the Iraq War. Although a large portion of the American people are finally coming to the realization that the U.S. has lost the war, despite all the military victories, they still can’t come to the realization that U.S. officials lied to them with respect to why they were invading Iraq. They continue to believe that U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, just made an innocent mistake about Iraq’s “imminent” plans to attack the U.S. with WMD.

Americans simply don’t want to face the truth: that the war was never about WMD — that was just the cover for the invasion, one that would be certain to frighten the American people into supporting the war. Instead, the war was simply about regime change — that is, ousting Saddam Hussein from power and replacing him with a U.S.-approved lackey, such as Allawi or Chalabi. After all, don’t forget that that was the purpose of the brutal decade-long sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children.

Now, newly released details of a secret British memo, which was stamped “extremely sensitive,” reveal that prior to his invasion, President Bush was contemplating concocting a false and fake justification for ordering the invasion. According to the New York Times, the memo details a meeting between Bush and Prime Minister Blair in which Bush talked “about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire.”

Now, ask yourself: If the president really believed that Saddam was about to put a mushroom cloud over some American city, why would he be trying to figure out some false and fake justification for convincing the American people to support his invasion of Iraq?

The entire Iraq War is rotten to the core with federal lies, deceptions, and fake justifications. Considering all the death, mayhem, destruction, detentions, and torture and sex abuse in Iraq, we learn once again that God has created a consistent universe, one in which evil means will beget evil ends.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The New York Times reports today that among the thousands of detainees imprisoned in Iraq is Firas Sabri Ali, along with his two brothers and father. The crime that they’re charged with? Being close relatives of a suspected insurgent who refuses to turn himself in.

Yes, they’re being held as collateral. As soon as the suspected insurgent turns himself in, then the authorities release the collateral.

This, of course, is on top of the Iraqi torture units and kidnapping units that have brutalized detainees — under the new “pro-freedom” radical Islamic regime that U.S. troops are now protecting.

And guess who’s teaching the Iraqis about the evils of indefinite detentions, warrantless arrests, and torture. You got it — the U.S. military! Yes, the same people who have been holding detainees in Guantanamo Bay without charges for years, who have tortured and sexually abused detainees both in Cuba and Iraq, who held American Jose Padilla for three years without charges, and that holds the innocent wives of suspected insurgents as collateral for the surrender of their husbands.

Americans need to come to the realization that the U.S. military is the absolute worst spreader of freedom in the world precisely because these people have no idea what genuine freedom is really all about, namely fundamental rights and constitutional restraints on government power. In the minds of the military, freedom means omnipotent military power and the absence of constitutional restraints, as perfectly reflected by their attempts to avoid the Constitution and federal court interference at Gitmo and their use of bombs, missiles, bullets, warrantless searches and seizures and arrests, indefinite detentions, curfews, closure of newspapers critical to the U.S. military, gun control, and torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of detainees in Iraq.

What more evidence do the American people need that our Founding Fathers were right about the horrors of standing armies, empires, and foreign wars of aggression? What more evidence that it’s time that Americans restore a constitutional republic to our land and let that, not the military, once again serve as the model to spread freedom around the world.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

President Bush’s announcement that U.S. troops will be in Iraq after he leaves office in 2008 leaves pro-Empire advocates in a very difficult position.

The reason is this: The continued occupation of Iraq will continue to have a major adverse effect on the U.S. military, not so much in terms of budget since Congress is rubberstamping all presidential requests but instead in terms of military morale and recruitment and Empire capabilities. A recent poll reflects that U.S. troops have no desire to permanently occupy Iraq and as more of them come to the realization that a radical Islamic regime has been installed into power in Iraq, they’re going to be increasingly asking themselves the critical question: Do I want to die (or kill) for Islam?

So, what do pro-Empire advocates do in the face of Bush’s plans to make his occupation of Iraq permanent? Do they support the president, who they consider their “commander in chief,” knowing full well that his plan to permanently occupy Iraq will continue to inflict severe damage on the military, the troops, and the Empire? Or do they instead fight to protect the military, the troops, and the Empire and oppose their “commander in chief’s” plan to permanently occupy Iraq?

Some conservatives are now starting to wake up and recognize the serious threat that out-of-control federal spending poses to our nation. The problem is that they’re still reticent to recognize the critical role that federal empire and occupation spending plays in the level of overall federal spending. Thus, their criticisms are still largely limited to domestic welfare spending rather than also on foreign warfare spending. They seem to have forgotten how they used to crow that the way they supposedly brought the Soviet Empire down was by causing the Soviet government to spend its way into national bankruptcy on military armaments.

Hopefully, the American people will continue to awaken and bring about a shift in paradigms before it is too late — away from both the welfare state at home and the warfare state abroad and toward a re-embrace of the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and republic that once made our nation the envy of the world.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One of the biggest lies surrounding President Bush’s invasion of Iraq is the claim that it was done out of love and concern for the Iraqi people. The circumstantial evidence leads to an opposite conclusion: The U.S. government has never given one whit about the well-being of the Iraqi people. All that mattered to U.S. officials from the get-go was a regime that would do their bidding, such as the military dictatorship in Pakisatan.

One of the most powerful pieces of circumstantial evidence of this lie was the cruel and brutal sanctions that U.S. officials imposed against the Iraqi people as well as their callous attitude toward the horrific consequences. Their attitude was best expressed by the callous response that UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright gave when “Sixty Minutes” asked her if the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children had been worth the attempt to oust Saddam Hussein from power. Her response, which was never condemned or criticized by President Clinton or any of his minions, was that the deaths of the Iraqi children were indeed “worth it.”

A recent piece of additional circumstantial evidence is the punitive fine that federal officials imposed on Judith Karpova, an American citizen who traveled to Iraq as a “human shield” to try to stop the president’s invasion and who spent money there. You see, spending money in Iraq was considered a vile, criminal offense under U.S. law, just as it is traveling to Cuba and spending money there.

In other words, Americans, who are considered a “free” people whose government goes abroad to invade foreign countries for purposes of “freedom” fines and jails its own citizens for doing nothing more than traveling to a “non-approved” country (when there’s not even a war going on!) and spending money there.

The good news is that Karpova seems to be one of those courageous American grown-ups who don’t roll over in response to dictates from federal dictocrats. Although the federal judge in her case recently upheld the punitive fine imposed on her by Treasury Department bureaucrats, Karpova is appealing to the federal court of appeals, arguing that a free country entails the right of the citizenry to travel and spend their money wherever they wish and to dissent against the brutal policies of their own government. What a grand day it would be if the appellate courts were to declare unconstitutional the power of federal officials to punish Americans for exercising such fundamental rights.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials continue to maintain that despite the brutal sanctions, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, their brutal “no-fly zones” which killed more Iraqis, their brutal invasion that has killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqis, their brutal Abu Ghraib prison activities, and their brutal occupation have all been inspired by love and concern for the well-being of the Iraqi people. The sad part is that there are still Americans who believe them.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

An increasing number of Americans are turning against the Iraq war and occupation despite protestations by the president and vice president that things are going well in “liberated” Iraq. The likelihood, however, is that people are arriving at their conclusion based on the failure of the war rather than on the fundamental immorality of what President Bush has done in waging a war that has killed tens of thousands of innocent people and destroyed Iraq.

Some pro-war advocates say, “War is hell, and in war people die.” Or they say, “Actually, compared to other wars, the number of deaths, both Iraqi and American, is not that large.”

But they’re missing some important moral points here: All these people didn’t have to die. And President Bush had no moral right to order an invasion that he knew would kill and maim thousands of Iraqis. Since Iraq had not attacked the United States and had never threatened to do so — and since neither the Iraqi people nor their government was involved in 9/11 — that makes the United States the aggressor nation in this conflict. It has waged what the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal called a “war of aggression” — a war that has resulted in many more deaths than the attacks on 9/11.

Since there was no moral justification for the war, that places Christian soldiers who waged the war in a very bad position because there is no way to morally reconcile the killing of all these Iraqis with Christian principles. No one can argue that a war of aggression is a “just war,” which is probably why the late Pope John Paul II implied that those who wage it might well have to answer to God for what they would wreak.

Some pro-war Christians might say, “A soldier has the right to trust his bosses, who thought there were WMD there.” Laying aside the issue of whether the soldier has a duty to determine whether his bosses are lying, one uncomfortable fact remains for Christian soldiers: After no WMD were found, the U.S. didn’t immediately vacate the country. Instead, it stayed in Iraq, continuing to kill people, including those who were doing nothing more than attempting to oust an illegal occupier from their land.

When no WMD materialized, President Bush said that his real goal in invading Iraq was to “spread democracy.” But is this a moral justification for killing innocent people, including people who are doing nothing more than resisting an illegal invasion of their homeland?

Underlying President Bush’s upbeat message on Iraq is that all the death and destruction his invasion and occupation have wrought have been “worth it,” which was UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright’s position when “60 Minutes” asked her about the Iraqi children killed by the sanctions under the Clinton administration. The multitudes of dead would probably have disagreed if they were still alive, but in any event when it comes to killing innocent people, moral principles must always prevail over cost-benefit analyses.

Monday, March 20, 2006

On the 3-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, President Bush, not surprisingly, is once again claiming that his invasion has proven to be a big success, even while one of the puppets he had hoped to install into power, Ayad Allawi, said that the country has already entered into civil war. I suppose the President’s thinking is, “Why start dealing with reality now, especially with congressional elections around the corner?”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported yesterday the existence of another secret torture facility, where U.S. forces, post-Abu Ghraib, have been torturing Iraqis, despite the president’s and the Pentagon’s repeated claims that “We don’t do torture” and “We love the Iraqi people, which is why we invaded Iraq.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is claiming that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would be akin to leaving postwar Germany to the Nazis. It’s an interesting analogy for two reasons.

One, half of postwar Germany was left to the Soviet communists, which some people still consider was a great “victory” because the Soviet communists and U.S. officials were aligned with each other. In fact, keep in mind that the U.S. opposed putting Soviet officials in the dock with Nazi officials at Nuremburg, despite the war crimes committed by the Soviet Union, including invading Poland at about the same time that Nazi Germany did, massacring prisoners of war at the Katyn Forest, and then the mass rapes of German women as Soviet troops entered Germany.

It’s the same in Iraq. Despite the fact that the new regime is a radical Islamic regime with ties to Iran and is committing the same acts of cruelty and brutality as the Saddam Hussein regime, including murder, kidnapping, torture, indefinite detentions, denial of civil liberties, filling mass graves with the bodies of insurgents, etc., President Bush continues to sing the praises of the new regime.

The second reason that Rumsfeld’s Nazi Germany analogy is interesting is that President Bush’s invasion of Iraq constitutes the same type of war crime — waging aggressive war — that Nazi officials were prosecuted for at Nuremburg. After all, as everyone knows Iraq never attacked the United States, which makes the U.S. the aggressor nation in the conflict, a conflict that has taken the lives and limbs of tens of thousands of innocent people, many more innocent people than died on 9/11.

Meanwhile, federal spending, both domestic and foreign, is going through the roof, which threatens the economic well-being of our nation, just as it did to the Soviet Union. Yet, both liberals and conservatives want to continue spending megabucks on their beloved domestic and foreign programs.

We might well be facing a perfect storm of political immorality, economic bankruptcy, and suspension of civil liberties, all engendered by liberal and conservative big-government policies. The only way out is by confronting reality, rejecting deception, and embracing libertarianism.

Friday, March 17, 2006

According to yesterday’s New York Times, “The Federal Communications Commission leveled a record $3.6 million fine yesterday against 111 television stations that broadcast an episode of ‘Without a Trace’ in December 2004, with the agency saying the CBS show suggested that its teenage characters were participating in a sexual orgy.” The commission cited nine other programs for “indecency” as well, with the total fines being about $4 million.

What is truly indecent is the fact that in a supposedly free country federal dictocrats have the power to determine what people are permitted to broadcast and watch. It’s all part of the “daddy” role that American grown-ups have relegated to federal bureaucrats, enabling the bureaucrats to watch over them and take care of them, ensuring that they don’t watch the wrong programs (or ingest the wrong substances) in the privacy of their homes.

So, how did the FCC determine that the programs were “indecent”? Simply through their ad-hoc, subjective determination of what “indecent” is. That’s what passes for “freedom” in America. In fact, consider what is possibly the most obscene aspect of this entire bureaucratic, dictatorial charade:

“F.C.C. officials said the fines, which can be appealed, were intended in part to make clear what type of material is allowed under F.C.C. standards.”

In other words, “We dictocrats will set the standard for decency by the manner in which we punish you for what you have done. Once you compile and analyze the fines we inflict on you, that will constitute the law that you must comport to, until we return and level new fines against you.”

This is freedom? This is the rule of law, the principle that requires a clear-cut legal standard before people can be punished?

Perhaps the reason that all too many Americans continue to support military efforts to forcibly bring “democracy” to other parts of the world is it enables them to avoid confronting their growing loss of liberty at home.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Even as President Bush and other U.S. officials continue to try to mold people’s minds with a false reality about Iraq, an increasing number of Americans are coming out against the occupation and questioning the wisdom of the war itself. Not surprisingly, however, their judgment is based on the fact that the war has failed to achieve its end — the installation of a pro-U.S. regime, one that has “established order” in Iraq.

An increasing number of Americans, including U.S. troops, are now calling for ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq. But that’s only a short-term solution, much like giving aspirin to a person suffering from cancer. The problem is that our nation is not suffering a temporary headache that will be solved by a withdrawal from Iraq but rather a cancer that is emanating from deep within the bowels of the federal government.

Thus, our task as libertarians is to carry people’s vision to a higher level, challenging them to ask a fundamental question, with respect to both domestic and foreign policies: What should be the role of government in a free society?

The question is critically important and urgent in the foreign arena, especially given that President Bush has is now reconfirming his official policy in favor of attacking and waging wars of aggression against nations that have not attacked the United States. It is increasingly important in the domestic arena as well, especially given that out-of-control federal spending to finance the welfare-warfare state threatens to do deep and irreparable harm to our nation.

In the domestic sphere, the question boils down to: In a free society, should the federal government be providing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, welfare, subsidies, grants, drug laws, etc, all financed by a confiscatory income tax system?

In the foreign sphere, the question boils down to: In a free society, should the federal government be establishing an overseas empire, stationing troops abroad, involving itself in the affairs and conflicts of other nations, and waging wars of aggression against countries that have not attacked the United States?

The answers to these questions provide the necessary treatment for the federal cancer that afflicts our body politic. But as with any prescription, it is first necessary to arrive at a correct diagnosis. And that takes an unwavering commitment to truth and reality.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A recent controversy involving a Colorado public schoolteacher provides one more lesson in the inherent conflicts of socialism, which is exactly what public (i.e., government) schooling is. The controversy also reflects how conflicts within socialism are inherently irreconcilable despite contorted efforts to resolve them.

The schoolteacher, Jay Bennish, teaches social studies. He told his class that although he wasn’t equating President Bush with Adolf Hitler, Bush does “sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say…. We’re the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward and our job is to conquer the world.” He also said America is “probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth.”

As you can imagine, Bennish’s statements, which a student recorded on an MP3 player, created an uproar among government administrators as well as some students and parents. School district officials suspended him with pay, Bennish threatened to sue, and he’s now back on the job.

(Fortunately for Bennish, he didn’t mention that public schooling was one of the core elements of Hitler’s National Socialist program in Germany.)

An article by an attorney named Julie Hilden, a Yale law school graduate, is a typical analysis of these types of government school controversies. Hilden raises the standard question: Have Bennish’s First Amendment free-speech rights been violated? She points out that under current law, those rights must be “balanced” against the government’s interest in “promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees.” And of course we also have the competing interests of the students to consider, especially given that they’re there as a result of the government’s compulsory-attendance laws.

How is such a “balance” produced? Only through the subjective, ad-hoc decision of some judge! There is no way to reconcile adequately all the competing interests.

The core of the problem is that government runs the educational system. If Americans instead embraced educational liberty, schools would be free to run their operations the way they wanted, and consumers (i.e., families) would have the right to educate their children in any way they chose.

So in a free-market educational system, if a school told Bennish he couldn’t make critical comments about the government or about public officials, Bennish could either comply or go find a job in a school that permitted him to make such comments. Parents who liked their children to be exposed to such provocative perspectives, or not, would choose accordingly.

If Americans were to embrace educational freedom by separating school and state (that is, by ending all government involvement in education), all the political/constitutional controversies that currently bedevil the government school system would evaporate. Just as they did in the religious arena when Americans embraced religious liberty by separating church and state.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

President Bush is complaining that Iran is interfering with the U.S. occupation of Iraq by funneling support to those Iraqis who are attempting to oust the occupier from their land. He said, without a hint of irony, that Iran is a destabilizing force in the region. Bush’s position is that only the U.S. government, not other governments, has the right to interfere with the internal affairs of other nations. Or, to put his position another way, “We got here first. Butt out!”

How can Bush be surprised over foreign interference in Iraq? What Iran is doing nothing more than copying what the U.S. government did in Afghanistan when the Soviet Union invaded that country. You’ll recall that when that invasion took place, U.S. officials did what Iran is now doing — they aligned themselves with Afghan insurgents, including the now-infamous terrorist Osama bin Laden, and helped them to kill Soviet soldiers in order “to give the Soviets their Vietnam.”

It’s just another example of the “blowback” of U.S. foreign policy, for which American soldiers pay the price directly and the American people pay the price indirectly.

Bush made his remarks as part of his latest attempt to convince Americans that his invasion of Iraq has turned out to be a big success. Perhaps it still has yet to hit him that while the U.S. government, not surprisingly, won the military campaigns, it lost the war. The winner of Bush’s Iraqi War is the nation that Bush is now targeting for another regime change, Iran.

You’ll recall that the initial U.S. plan for “democracy” in Iraq had been a “caucus system” that was designed to install either Chalabi or Allawi, favorites of the CIA and the Pentagon, into power but the Ayatollah Sistani, knowing that the radical Shi’ites held the majority of citizens, outmaneuvered Bush by demanding a full vote of the electorate. The Shi’ites won the election and the rest is history — U.S. soldiers fighting, killing, and dying for Islam and to protect a radical regime that rivals Saddam’s regime for brutality and torture and which quickly aligned itself with the ayatollahs in Iran, the country that Bush is now considering attacking.

The horrific results of the Iraq War are gradually dawning on the American people, which no doubt is motivating Bush to go on another propaganda tour to once again try to convince them that matters in Iraq are going swimmingly and to distract attention toward to a new crisis and a new potential pre-election war, this time against the winner of the Iraq war, Iran.

Monday, March 13, 2006

With the situation in Iraq degenerating daily, the Washington Post reports today that the president is now concentrating on pulling off a regime change in Iran. At the same time, the president is embarking on a speaking tour to explain how successful his invasion of Iraq has been. I wonder if he’ll address the fact that his “democracy” in Iraq has installed a radical Islamic regime that has aligned itself with the regime in Iran, which Bush is now focused on changing.

In the event civil war breaks out in Iraq (it sure looks like civil war already, given the number of Iraqis who are being killed every day), U.S. military forces will be put in an awkward position: Do they remain neutral, which could mean that the newly installed regime in Iraq could be defeated, or do they help their newly installed regime prevail? And if they do help their regime by using U.S. military forces to kill even more Iraqis, expect the standard U.S. government bromide in the event of terrorists strikes: “The terrorists hate us for our freedom and values, not because of what our government has done to them.”

In an op-ed over the weekend, U.S. Senator Gary Hart brought up something for the Pentagon (and the American people) to think about: the possibility that millions of angry and outraged Iraqi citizens could, in the midst of a civil war, decide to turn on U.S. military forces in Iraq and overrun and massacre them.

Of course, Bush isn’t going to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq for two major reasons:

1. Congressional elections are right around the corner and Bush knows that if he were to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq, people would call him and the Republicans cowards, which could cost Bush his control of Congress.

2. Bush would have an even more difficult time answering Cindy Sheehan’s question: What did her son die for?

Another war of aggression, this time against Iran, killing and maiming more thousands of innocent people, would cause Americans to be infected with another round of war fever, motivating them to “rally ’round the flag” as good little “my government, right or wrong” type of “patriots.” The challenge facing Bush is timing: How can he time his invasion of Iran so that people remain frightened and warlike on Election Day? But give the president credit: What better way to distract people’s attention from the debacle in Iraq than to get them all hyped up over a “crisis” in Iran?

Friday, March 10, 2006

When the president speaks of inflicting “meaningful consequences” on Iran, everyone knows what that coded language means: brutal sanctions or brutal bombing or both.

And make no mistake about it: The president is claiming the power to inflict massive harm on Iran and the Iranian people without securing a declaration of war from Congress, as the U.S. Constitution requires. If that’s not dictatorial power, what is?

Add the omnipotent power to attack and wage wars of aggression (a type of war punished at Nuremberg) against countries that have not attacked the United States to the following powers now wielded by the president:

1. The power to order the U.S. military to take Americans into custody and execute them without jury trials and due process of law. (The Padilla doctrine.)

2. The power to conduct warrantless searches and seizures of Americans.

3. The power to send suspected terrorists, both foreigners and American, to Gitmo or foreign nations for the purpose of torture.

What all too many Americans have yet to confront, perhaps because it is so discomforting to do so, is that the president and the Pentagon are implicitly claiming the exact same powers in the United States that they are exercising in Iraq. After all, as both the president and the Pentagon have repeatedly reminded us, the entire world, including both Iraq and the United States, constitutes the battleground in the “war on terror.”

That means that even though the president and the Pentagon are not (yet) exercising their powers over Americans to the same extent that they are exercising them over Iraqis (i.e., indefinite detentions, Abu Ghraib, etc.), there can be now question but that they are claiming the power to do so should circumstances warrant it. Keep in mind that the president is “commander-in-chief” in both Iraq and the United States and that that is his principal justification for exercising omnipotent power.

Don’t forget also that both the president and the military consider Iraq to now be a “free” country. In their minds — indeed, in the minds of many of their supporters here at home — freedom is when the federal government is “free” to exercise omnipotent power, especially when such omnipotent power is being exercised to protect frightened citizens from “the terrorists.”

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Having been raised in a welfare-state environment, which nurtures a mindset of governmental dependency among the citizenry, many Americans naturally remain focused on what the federal government and Louisiana state and local governments should do to “rebuild New Orleans.” This the same type of central-planning mindset that guided people in the Soviet Union for so long.

What should these governments actually do with respect to New Orleans? Get out of the way! In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “This government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.”

In other words, butt out! Leave the rebuilding of New Orleans entire to free enterprise. Here are some specific starters:

1. Exempt all residents of New Orleans from federal and state taxes.

2. Abolish all zoning laws.

3. Abolish all building regulations and permit requirements.

A glimpse of how some people are relying on the private-property, free-market order in New Orleans was recently provided by two major oil companies. Deciding to again locate its headquarters in New Orleans, Shell Oil purchased 120 residential units to lease to its employees. Never in its history had Shell owned residential property. Chevron, Shell’s competitor, hired a paramedic and leased an ambulance so that it would not have to rely on the city’s 9/11 service.

Why do Americans continue looking to socialism and central planning to solve their problems, especially in the wake of the bungling response by federal and state governments to Hurricane Katrina, not to mention the massive failure story in the horrific federal “rebuilding” of Baghdad? Why do they continue to turn their backs on their heritage of private property, free markets, and limited government? Why do they continue to refrain from asking what is possibly the most important question of our time: What should be the role of government in a free society?

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

The situation in Iraq becomes stranger with each passing day. Do you recall those “democratic elections” a few months ago, which purportedly transferred sovereignty from the U.S. occupation forces to the newly elected Islamic regime?

Well, the New York Times reported yesterday that “The American military is trying an array of solutions, including … firing Shiite police commanders who appear to tolerate militias.”

“Firing?” I thought “sovereign” meant “sovereign.” Who’s in charge here in Iraq — the newly elected Islamic regime or the U.S. military? If sovereignty really passed to the Islamic regime, as President Bush has repeated said it has, then why in the world does the U.S. military have the power to fire Iraqi policemen?

Actually, the situation is worse because the side that the United States has been arming and assisting has proven to be just as cruel and brutal as the Saddam Hussein regime, if not worse, given the death squads, torture, murder, kidnappings, indefinite detentions, and searches it has inflicted on its enemies.

Yet, despite the death, destruction, mayhem, and chaos, along with the intricate and important role that U.S. forces have played in all this, some Americans continue to cry, “Our government is just doing its best to help them out. Why do they hate us so much?”

Of course, it’s the same attitude that such Americans take on Iran. Unable to comprehend why the Iranian people would be so bothered by the U.S. government’s secret ouster of their beloved and democratically elected prime minister (or simply being unaware of that fact) and his replacement by the Shah of Iran, whose secret police tortured and brutalized the Iranian people for decades, Americans cry, “Why do they hate us? We support our commander in chief’s decision to bomb them.”

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

U.S. colleges and universities that receive (U.S. taxpayer-funded) federal funds received a harsh lesson in the realities of America’s federal welfare state yesterday. The Supreme Court held that as long as the schools are on the federal dole, they must permit military recruiters to come onto their campuses.

The schools were operating under the quaint notion that they could happily receive federal funds and yet operate independently of government control.

Hello? This is earth calling America’s colleges and universities! Where have you people been living for the past several decades? Have you never heard of the infamous 1942 case of Wickard vs. Filburn, decided soon after the triumph of the Franklin Roosevelt welfare-state revolution, in which the Supreme Court stated, “It is hardly lack of due process for the state to regulate that which it subsidizes”? Have you never heard the old saying, “He who pays the piper calls the tune”?

So, do the schools have any options available to them? Of course! They could simply choose to no longer receive federal funds and depend entirely on voluntary funding from students and donors. That, of course, would be the moral course of action, given that coercing people to fund their operations through the tax system cannot be reconciled with any principles of moral or right conduct.

But, alas, like so many others trapped in America’s welfare state (i.e., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, SBA, corporate grants, etc.), colleges and universities have become hopelessly dependent on the destructive narcotic of welfare. The New York Times reports, “Most college leaders have said they could not afford to lose federal help, some $35 billion a year.”

School administrators would cry, “We could never survive without our federal dole!” Oh? Then, perhaps they could try to explain why Hillsdale College, which receives no federal funds and will not permit its students to take federal grants, survives and prospers. Anyway, if people will not voluntarily support an enterprise, where is the morality of forcing them, through the tax system, to fund it anyway?

Some schools, however, have announced that they are taking the principled course by no longer receiving federal funds. The Times reports, “A handful of law schools independent of larger universities — Vermont Law School, New York Law School and William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota — previously had said they would forfeit access to federal funding.”

Kudos to those who are going independent! Shame on those who choose to remain on the dole, dependent and controlled by their federal masters!

In any event, welcome, colleges and universities, to Federal Welfare State, 101.

Monday, March 6, 2006

According to an article in last Saturday’s Washington Post, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey, “pointed in particular to the need for Iraq’s government to ‘deal with the militia issue in the very near future,’ saying that disarming the groups of sectarian fighters is vital to U.S. success in the long run.”

Perhaps Gen. Casey should be reminded of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, whose principle applies not just to the American people but to people everywhere who are interested in establishing a free society:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Perhaps someone should also remind Gen. Casey of Thomas Jefferson’s point in the Declaration of Independence that when a government becomes tyrannical, it is the right of the citizenry to overthrow it, even violently.

No one can deny that the newly installed radical Islamic regime in Iraq is considerably more tyrannical than the British government was to the British citizens in the colonies, especially considering its death squads, torture, indefinite detentions, curfews, and warrantless searches and seizures.

What Casey is suggesting is that everyone would be better off if people le no longer had the means (i.e., guns) to resist the murder, torture, and abuse if people at the hands of their own government officials. In other words, even though their government officials are targeting them with murder, torture, sex abuse, rape, indefinite detention, and warrantless arrests and searches, citizens are supposed to meekly submit instead of violently resisting. After all, since the government was democratically elected, everyone should simply submit to its authority and comply with its orders.

Americans who are scared to death that “the terrorists” are coming to get them would be much better off fearing federal officials who, given the right circumstances, would come to get their guns. After all, don’t forget that both President Bush and Gen. Casey believe that the United States is as much a battleground in the “war on terror” as Iraq is.

Are you starting to appreciate the courage, wisdom, and foresight of our ancestors in insisting on the passage of the Bill of Rights? It was to protect us not from “terrorists” but from the likes of Gen. Casey.

Friday, March 3, 2006

How government officials respond to the failure of government intervention into economic activity is a fascinating phenomenon, one not likely to be studied or discussed in government (i.e, public) schools. Instead of acknowledging that their intervention has proven to be failure and therefore should be repealed, they get angry and outraged that their intervention didn’t work and thus enact a new intervention designed to make the initial intervention succeed. Then, when the new intervention doesn’t work, the last thing they think about doing is repealing both interventions. Instead, they enact a third one, and then a fourth one, and so forth. Ultimately, people discover that the complex maze of interventions has deprived the private sector of a sizable amount of economic liberty and has still failed to achieve its goal.

A textbook example of this phenomenon is the federal war on immigrants. First, federal officials make it illegal for foreigners to freely come here to work, even though American employers want to hire them. In other words, they attempt to repeal the laws of supply and demand. But the immigrants come anyway and they find jobs because American employers realize that the immigrants are the hardest working people they’d ever find and are even grateful for the opportunity.

This angers U.S. officials, who cannot believe that their intervention has failed. So, they enact a new intervention — making it illegal to transport or harbor illegal aliens. But that intervention fails as well.

This angers U.S. officials, who cannot believe that the new intervention has failed. So, they enact a new intervention — making it illegal to hire illegal aliens. But that intervention fails as well.

And now the latest proposed intervention: requiring churches to check the legal status of parishioners before helping them.

In a tremendous act of moral and political courage, Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney has publicly announced that if he will intentionally violate this law. Mahoney obviously understands that when Caesar’s law collides with God’s law, the Christian’s duty is clear: He must follow the laws of God and reject the laws of man.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials continue to steadfastly maintain that this is a Christian country because while they don’t want foreigners to come here, the feds are willing to go abroad and bomb them and their countries in the purported attempt to help them.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

The Bush administration has just issued an annual report crowing over its accomplishments in disrupting the flow of drugs into the United States.

However, just a few weeks ago the White House drug-policy office reported that “cocaine is widely available throughout the nation” and that the same holds true for heroin and marijuana.

Anne Patterson, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics enforcement said, “Yes, narcotics are readily available. But if we weren’t doing these projects, the problem would be dramatically worse.”

Uh?

Let me see if I understand Patterson’s argument. She’s saying that despite $1 billion being spent on the drug war and despite the fact that the war has been waged for decades, entailing the expenditure of billions more in U.S. taxpayer dollars, drugs are readily available. But if the drug war wasn’t be waged, drugs would be more readily available.

But if drugs are already available, what difference would it make if they were more readily available, especially if we could save $1 billion in taxpayer money and, at the same time, put an end to drug-war violence, murders, robberies, muggings, dirty needles, mandatory minimum sentences, overcrowded prisons, infringements on civil liberties, racist profiling and enforcement, and all the other bad things the drug war has spawned.

In other words, what’s the big deal in having “projects” that produce record drug busts, thousands of indictments and convictions, destruction of crops, and the like, if the result is that “drugs are readily available”? Are all those “accomplishments” worth celebrating in and of themselves, especially given that they’re accomplishing nothing else?

Patterson would have spoken more honestly if she had instead simply said, “Yes, narcotics are readily available. But if we weren’t doing these projects, I and a lot of other people who depend on the war on drugs, including drug agents, drug lords, and drug gangs, would be out of a job.”

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

A few days ago, I observed that conservatives are starting to jump ship with respect to the continued occupation of Iraq. I mentioned noted conservatives Bill Buckley, who is now acknowledging that the U.S. war on Iraq has failed. Today, the Los Angeles Times has a column by ardent pro-war conservative Max Boot, who recently returned from a U.S. military-guided tour of Iraq. Perhaps preparing the conservative movement for an about-face on Iraq, Boot’s column concludes, “I left Iraq more uncertain than when I arrived.”

My prediction: Count on an increasing number of conservatives to begin abandoning the president’s pro-occupation, stay-the-course ship in Iraq. I predict also that conservatives will refuse to take personal responsibility for what they have wrought in Iraq but instead blame the catastrophic results on “the media” and on how the president did not wage the war and the occupation fiercely enough.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops are overwhelmingly telling pollsters that they want out of Iraq, just as Iraqis are telling pollsters that they want U.S. troops out of their country. This puts conservatives, who have exhorted people to “support the troops” ever since they invaded Iraq, in a real quandary. Should they support their commander in chief, who wants the troops to permanently occupy Iraq, or should they support the troops who want out?

Meanwhile, a Pentagon study reveals that more than one-third of the soldiers returning from Iraq sought psychological help in the year after their return”? How can that surprise anyone given that the troops have been employed to commit a war crime of the gravest magnitude — attack a country that never attacked the United States, killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent people, and accomplishing nothing more than replacing one brutal regime with another brutal regime, plus chaos, conflict, curfews, torture, death squads, bombings, and kidnappings?

There are some who think that simply exiting from Iraq is the solution to America’s woes. Not so. That would be like giving aspirin to someone who has cancer. The American people must go much deeper than that and ask themselves much more profound questions as to the future direction of our nation. As the new documentary “ Why We Fight” suggests, the most important foreign policy question that we must debate in this country, especially in the wake of the Iraq debacle, is: Should we continue the U.S. government’s role as international policeman, invader, and interloper or should we instead bring an end to the U.S. Empire and restore a constitutionally limited republic to our land?

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.