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, April 2006

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Friday, April 28, 2006

An article in yesterday’s New York Times about Vietnam holds a valuable lesson about U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. government’s related policy of trying to isolate the American people from the rest of the world. Vietnam, as everyone knows, is ruled by a non-democratic communist/socialist regime. That means that the citizenry of Vietnam are not free. The interventionist philosophy would go something like this: “We’ve got to liberate the Vietnamese people from tyranny, just as we have done for the Iraqi people. This decision belongs to our president—the “decider” — not to the people of Vietnam. We love the Vietnamese people and are concerned about their well-being. Attack and invade. Any American who opposes us is a communist sympathizer.” Tens of thousands of Vietnamese people would be killed and maimed in the process, just as in Iraq. Moreover, Vietnamese insurgents, who would be called “terrorists,” would battle to oust the U.S. occupiers from their land, which would result in many more deaths and injuries. In other words, the entire interventionist operation would be another deadly disaster, just as the Iraq intervention has been. More important, the U.S. government has no more right to invade Vietnam for purposes of “liberation” than it did invading Iraq. The decision on whether to continue suffering under communist tyranny or to initiate a violent revolution rightfully belongs to the Vietnamese people, just as it did with the Iraqi people, and, for that matter, just as it did with the people of East Germany and Eastern Europe. So, is there anything Americans can do to help the Vietnamese people? Yes! First, rein in the U.S. Empire — dismantle and defang it to ensure that it lacks the power and the ability to invade and occupy foreign countries. Second, end our government’s isolationist policy by unleashing our private sector to interact with the people of the world. Liberate American businessmen, tourists, and cultural groups to travel into foreign countries, enabling them to inject freedom ideas into the marketplace of ideas. This brings us back to the New York Times article. When the Vietnamese people learned that Bill Gates was visiting their country, “hundreds climbed trees and pushed through police lines to get a glimpse of him. He was the subject of the lead article in the next day’s newspapers.” Dang Doanh, an official in the Ministry of Planning, said, “It is a very clear sign of the new mood of society and the people. Everybody wants to be like Bill Gates.” This is what America should be all about. Not sanctions, embargoes (Cuba), fines, invasions, travel restrictions, wars of aggression, occupations, alliances, and empire, but rather economic liberty, free markets, and open interactions between the American people and the people of the world. This is the key to freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

On Tuesday, I wrote: “Thus, we libertarians have a double task: To continue bringing reality to our fellow Americans regarding their socialist programs and to continue showing how libertarianism holds the key to the future of our nation.” There is a related problem: Many Americans honestly believe they are free no matter how much federal control there is over their lives. In fact, the more that federal control increases, the more they sing, “Thank [my federal] god I live in America, where at least I know I’m free.” These Americans perfectly reflect Goethe’s observation that no one is more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. Obviously, this makes our job harder because if people already think they’re free, why would they have any incentive to embrace libertarianism? So, where does this false reality of freedom come from? The most obvious place is where people have their mindsets formed by government officials for more than ten years officials during their formative years — public schools (as well as government-approved private schools). Think about it: What are the chances that children in an army-like government institution are going to graduate with an independent mindset, one that, say, even questions the moral legitimacy of public schooling itself Not very high, and even if a student does start to think independently and even comes to the realization that the public school system is dysfunctional, they’ll diagnose him as mentally impaired (attention deficit disorder) and drug him with Ritalin until his mindset is “corrected.” Thus, government schools everywhere (including Cuba and North Korea) can be expected to ingrain children with the official version of “freedom” — that it consists of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, drug laws, foreign aid, and other forms of government paternalism. Thus, government schools not only indoctrinate children with a false concept of freedom, they also produce a malleable mindset that lasts through adulthood, one that molds its reality to whatever government officials say reality is. That’s undoubtedly why Adolf Hitler, who was an ardent believer in public schooling, said, “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already…. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’” Libertarianism is the antidote to all this. Is it any wonder that government officials hate and fear it so much?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

With their announcements that they intend to go after those big, bad oil companies for high prices, excess profits, and price-gouging, those conservative paragons of free enterprise George W. Bush, Bill Frist, and Dennis Hastert are confirming the accuracy of my September 8, 2003, blog, where I wrote: *** “Even while Republicans are sending government spending through the roof — totally out of control — President Bush is steadfastly sticking with his pledge of “no new taxes” because he knows that breaking that pledge was one of the primary factors that did his father in.” “But the president isn’t dumb — he knows what rulers throughout history have known — that he can spend government money to his heart’s content by simply plundering and looting the people through the secret, fraudulent, and insidious means known as inflation — the process by which the feds simply crank up the printing presses and print whatever billions of dollars to pay for their adventures.” “As prices start to rise down the road in response to the growing debasement of the currency, and as people on fixed income start to see the value of their assets diminish, get yourselves prepared for the inevitable response: The president and his cohorts will blame evil, greedy, profit-seeking, bourgeois capitalist swine for those raising prices. It’s the political strategy that rulers on spending binges have used throughout history.” *** Have these people no shame at all? For years, they’ve been spending U.S. taxpayer money on massive amounts of welfare, both domestic and foreign, including the invasion and rebuilding of Iraq. Now that the commodity markets are reflecting the projected debasement of the dollar, these paragons of “free enterprise” are engaging in the classic federal game of looking for scapegoats. What about gold, fellows? It’s been soaring too. Are you going to confiscate it, like your “save-free-enterprise” predecessor Franklin Roosevelt did in the 1930s? Heck, why stop there? Why not nationalize and confiscate all other commodities whose prices are soaring — copper, zinc, aluminum, lead? Why, instead of confiscating just a portion of those “excess” profits, why not go all the way to what Fidel Castro did — confiscate everything the rich own? Isn’t it amazing? The feds stir up the anger and hatred that motivates the terrorists to attack our country and then use that as the excuse to take away people’s liberties. And then they spend money like it was going out of style to “rebuild Iraq” and then use that as an excuse to take away people’s wealth. Meanwhile, the terrified sheep, including American men, continue bleating: “Just do whatever you think is necessary to protect me from the terrorists and the oil companies. I trust you.”

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

One of the major obstacles that libertarians face is that the American people have yet to come to the realization that the socialist central planning model that conservatives and liberals have brought to our land can never — and will never — work, no matter how many reforms are enacted. Once Americans come to that startling reality — that no matter which reforms or how many reforms are enacted, the programs will still not achieve the hoped-for ends, that will be the day they finally give up on both the programs and the reforms. After all, why would a person continue to beat his head against the wall once he figures out that beating his head against the wall will not cure his headaches? Consider all the paternalistic programs that infect America’s political-economic system today: education (public schooling), retirement (Social Security), healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid), the drug war, immigration controls, rebuilding Iraq, and all the rest. Everyone knows that every single one of these socialist programs is a disaster. That’s in fact why people continue to call for reforms. Yet, despite decades of failures after decades of reforms, people hold out hope that new reforms will finally succeed, which is why they keep calling for reforms, year after year, decade after decade. What if one day everyone comes to the realization that no reform will achieve the desired end? Won’t they finally conclude, “Well, what’s the point of enacting a new reform if it’s not going to achieve what we want?” That will be the day when the American people reject socialism and embrace America’s heritage of individual liberty, free markets, and a constitutional republic. Thus, we libertarians have a double task: To continue bringing reality to our fellow Americans regarding their socialist programs and to continue showing how libertarianism holds the key to the future of our nation.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Last week Howard Dean, the Democratic Party’s national chairman, reminded us why our nation is in such deep trouble. Looking for issues on which Democrats should run in the hope of retaking control of Congress, Dean announced that the Republicans are mean because they’re not giving enough welfare to Hurricane Katrina victims. Here we have a nation in which federal spending is out of control; the value of the dollar is cracking at the seams; commodity prices are soaring; people are dependent on welfare; Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and public schooling are bankrupt; federal personnel are roaming the world torturing and sexually abusing people in secret Soviet-era torture centers; the president is attacking countries that haven’t attacked the United States; the nation is rife with Soviet-style militarism; the president is secretly recording telephone conversations of the American people; and millions of American grownups are scared of everything under the moon (drug dealers, immigrants, terrorists, bird flu, etc.). Yet, the best Howard Dean and his Democratic Party cohorts can do to find an “issue” is to say that those big-government Republicans aren’t doling out enough welfare to the American people. Is that pathetic or what?

Friday, April 21, 2006

A recent New York Times article detailed the heavy financial burden that parents and children face with respect to college. The article explained that many parents are financially unable to pay for the high costs of the first-choice college of their children, agreeing to finance a part and letting their children go into personal debt for the balance. Unfortunately, having become so dependent on the income-tax/welfare-state way of life, many Americans fail to recognize the important negative role that the federal government has played in this process. From the time the children are born (and before), the federal government forcibly collects income taxes from the parents to finance its welfare state. The feds continue to collect such taxes for the next 18 years (and after). Let’s assume that the average yearly IRS take is $20,000 per family. That means that if the income taxes had never been collected, the parents would have $360,000 in their bank account, plus compound interest, at the end of 18 years. Now, let’s assume that college expenses are $30,000 per year per child. That’s $120,000 for four years of college. With no income taxation, the parents would have had enough money to cover the college expenses of 3 children, not even accounting for interest earned on the money while the children were growing up. Moreover, there’s the moral dimension to consider. With parents, rather than the federal government, covering their children’s college expenses, there would likely be more family bonding and cohesiveness. Instead, we have a system in which the federal government takes the money from the parents and then offers it to the children, who then come to view the federal government as their special god who helped them get a college education. Heavily in debt (and now heavily taxed), they also thank their god for honoring their parents with Social Security welfare payments. Our American ancestors had it right, which is why they chose to live in a society in which there was no income taxation and no welfare, a society that nurtured strong family and religious values, a society that honored only the one true God rather than a federal god as well.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Amidst all the discussion and debate about whether President Bush should wage war against Iran, it’s important that we not lose sight of an important fact: we now live in a country in which the ruler wields the omnipotent power to send the entire nation into war for any reason he deems fit. (Just trust him.) No matter that the Constitution precludes the president from attacking Iran without a declaration of war from Congress. No one can deny that in our country, the president, as a military commander in chief in time of “war,” now wields the power to ignore the Constitution. If the president attacks Iran, he will say that that this new war reinforces his omnipotent commander-in-chief powers over the American people. Unfortunately, the American people, remaining deeply frightened about the “terrorists” who are coming to get them, continue to play the role of the blissful and innocent sheep, as they continue permitting — even encouraging — the voracious, power-seeking president and his minions to devour their rights and freedom. No one should ever suggest that President Bush is not a smart man. His actions will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most ingenious routes to dictatorship ever.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Two of the major distinguishing characteristics of U.S. government officials are: (1) refusal to take responsibility for their actions and (2) seek out scapegoats to blame for problems caused by U.S. policies. There’s hardly any federal program in which these two characteristics fail to manifest themselves, as we are now witnessing with immigration and terrorism, to name just two examples. A front-page article in today’s New York Times provides another example. U.S. officials are now blaming China for the rising price of oil, in much the same way that they’re also blaming China for the dollar crisis. In other words, according to U.S. officials rising oil prices and the falling value of the dollar have nothing to do with the massive out-of-control federal spending binge on which federal officials have been embarked ever since 9/11. It’s all the fault of those big, bad “currency manipulating, oil-guzzling” communists who are committing the dastardly act of having a growing economy that isn’t burdened with the massive spending needed to fund a foreign empire, foreign wars, and foreign occupations. Undoubtedly, U.S. officials are also claiming that the Chinese are responsible for the soaring prices of gold, silver, copper, aluminum, and other commodities. Of course, it’s not surprising that U.S. officials are shirking responsibility for the economic damage their spending policies have caused our country. It’s par for the course for these people. After all, don’t forget that these people are still promoting the myth that the Great Depression was caused by the “failure of free enterprise” rather than by the federal government’s monetary policies. The sad part is that a large segment of the American people are bamboozled by all this, in large part because of the pro-federal propaganda issued in the public (government) schools that most people attend as children. That’s why many of them believe that such things as terrorism and inflation are mysterious and unexplainable phenomena that suddenly strike a country rather than the natural and proximate result of federal policies. As more “crises” and “emergencies” surface — terrorism, Iraq, the dollar, Social Security, immigration, education, healthcare, etc. — hopefully an growing number of Americans will start to realize that they’ve been sold a bag of federal nonsense. Hopefully, they will begin to see that the only solution to the immoral socialist, interventionist, and empire morass in which our nation is mired lies in the moral philosophy of freedom, free markets, and a limited-government republic that inspired the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Some of the retired generals who are revolting against Rumsfeld just don’t get it. They’re suggesting that if Rumsfeld has listened to the military, the situation in Iraq wouldn’t be the big mess it is. What do the generals hope to accomplish by getting Rumsfeld fired? At least some of them are undoubtedly hoping not for a boss who will apologize for wrongfully invading Iraq and killing tens of thousands of innocent people but rather for one who will unleash the military to brutalize the citizenry into finally submitting to the wrongful occupation of their country. The generals are missing the big point: The important issue is not whether the war was waged competently or not but rather the criminal nature of the enterprise. As we have repeatedly emphasized here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, neither the Iraqi people nor their government ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. That makes the U.S. the aggressor nation in this conflict. The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal held that those officials, civilian and military alike, who wage a war of aggression are guilty of a grave war crime. Moreover, don’t forget that President Bush never secured a congressional declaration of war on Iraq, which the Constitution requires. Don’t forget also that those generals, along with most of the other U.S. troops, swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not to loyally obey illegal and immoral orders of the president. U.S. military men, from generals all the way down to privates, have a duty to refuse to obey unlawful orders, especially orders that constitute war crimes, such as torture, rape, or pillage. That duty also extends to unlawful and illegal orders to attack innocent countries — that is, countries that have not attacked the United States. By remaining silent if the face of the president’s order to attack Iraq, indeed by enthusiastically and loyally obeying his order to attack, the carping that the generals are now leveling at Rumsfeld, while interesting, is void of any real moral or practical value. After all, do you see any of them speaking out against the president’s threat to attack Iran, a country that also has never attacked the United States, and without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war?

Monday, April 17, 2006

During World War II, German officials continually give uplifting news to the German people about how well the war was going, despite the fact that it was just a matter of time before Soviet troops were going to enter Germany from the east and U.S. troops were going to enter Germany from the west. The German officials did not want to demoralize the citizenry with actual reality. Thus, once reality did set in, many of the German people were shocked and angry to learn that Germany had actually lost the war.

I have a hunch that the same thing is going to happen to those Americans who continue to put their faith in the uplifting pronouncements about Iraq that President Bush and his minions continue to publish. Things are going well, the president repeatedly tells us, and freedom and democracy in Iraq are just around the corner..

From the president’s standpoint, that’s one of the downsides to the open war that retired U.S. military generals have declared against Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Their opposition to Rumsfeld is helping to bring a sense of reality to the Iraq situation — a sense that things are not going well after all. After all, if things were going so swimmingly, as President Bush and his minions continually say, would those generals be calling for the resignation or firing of Secretary Rumsfeld? Of course not.

Surely, those generals realize what many of us realized long ago. The war was lost with the installation of a radical, tortuous Shiite regime that quickly aligned itself with Iran, which President Bush is now considering attacking. All that the occupation is accomplishing is a slow bleed of the U.S. military empire and the military-industrial complex, and those generals surely know it.

Reality check: How can things in Iraq be going swimmingly when the regime that has been installed has aligned itself with the regime that the president is thinking about attacking next?

Don’t forget that the reason that the Reagan-Bush administration was helping Saddam in the 1980s in his war against Iran was to ensure that Iran didn’t gain control in Iraq. And don’t forget why the president’s father didn’t go after Saddam during the Gulf War — he didn’t want to have a radical pro-Iran Shiite regime to take over in Iraq. His son’s invasion accomplished what his father was attempting to avoid.

How many Americans have yet to face that discomforting reality? It’s hard to say, but if the president follows through with his threat to attack Iran, they might have to, given that Iraq has already aligned itself with Iran.

Friday, April 14, 2006

An immigration article we recently linked to states that the federal government’s crackdown on immigrants has caused them to remain permanently in the United States rather than to return to Mexico and return to work seasonally. The reason is that the crackdown increases the risk of getting caught trying to get back in to the United States.

In other words, like so many other federal programs, this federal “reform” produced a result that was exactly opposite of what the federal central planners intended to achieve.

Today, another article on immigration that we’re linking to states that proposed immigration reforms are motivating large numbers of Mexicans to come here illegally in order to fall under the proposed amnesty “reform.”

In other words, like so many other federal programs, this proposed federal “reform” is producing a result that is exactly opposite of what the federal central planners intend to achieve.

People need to come to a stark realization: when it comes to federal programs, intentions don’t matter. Period. They are irrelevant. The feds, including Congress, INS, Border Patrol, the president, and whomever have had 30 years to get their act together on immigration. They have “reformed, reformed, and reformed,” including making felons out of American employers who hire illegal aliens. (Do you remember when they said that that would eliminate jobs for illegal aliens?)

So when they say that new “reforms” will finally stop illegal immigration, these people are not worthy of belief. Their new “reforms” will do nothing more than produce the same perverse results that their reforms have produced for the past 30 years. Even worse, they will simply continue the slide in our country toward more immoral and tyrannical federal control over the American people.

There is only one practical solution to the immigration woes — freedom and the free market. We know that freedom and the free market work, with the best evidence being unrestricted movements of people across state lines. We also know that government central planning does not work. So, why do we continue permitting federal officials to beat our heads against the wall with more central-planning “reform”?

By opening the borders to free commerce and free movements of people, there will be normal and natural flows of people, working, investing, buying, visiting, or touring. Everyone will retain his citizenship (just as Americans do when traveling or living abroad) unless people decide to seek out new citizenship in the normal manner. Foreigners will feel comfortable about making some money and returning home, knowing that they can safely return to work again. There will be prosperity and harmonies among people. No more deaths on deserts or in the backs of trucks. No more repatriations into Cuban communist tyranny. No more felony convictions for hiring foreigners.

What better way to fulfill the dictates of Leviticus: “Don’t mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners in [a strange land] the land of Egypt. [Thus says] the Lord your God”?

Indeed, what better way to fulfill Our Lord’s second-greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” than to return to America’s great heritage of individual liberty, free markets, and open borders?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Following the cue of an increasing number of Americans who are now opposing the Iraq War, a growing number of retired military generals are now expressing opposition to the war. As far as I know, no U.S. officials are accusing them of being unpatriotic traitors who hate the troops.

Unfortunately, however, very few of these generals had the courage to oppose the war when it mattered — before the president ordered his army to attack a country that had never attacked the United States, especially given that the president had not secured the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. That was when U.S. military officers, who have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, had the solemn duty to stand up to the president and refuse to obey his unlawful orders to wage a war of aggression against Iraq, a war that has killed and maimed tens of thousands of innocent people. To wait until after the war has turned into a debacle is a bit too late, especially for those are have lost their lives or limbs.

It’s also disappointing that the generals are limiting their focus to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld by seeking his resignation. Excuse me, but the president, not Rumsfeld, is the one who ordered the invasion. Why aren’t these brave and courageous generals calling for Bush’s resignation?

Equally unfortunate, the only reason that the generals are second-guessing the war is because it has failed. And they’re focusing on what will increasingly become a popular bromide — that the war wasn’t waged in the “correct” way, that is, according to “their plan.”

In other words, the guideline that some of these generals use for whether a particular war is just or not is not right and wrong but rather success and failure. In their minds, if the war is successful that means it’s just. That was not the principle set forth by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, which held that a nation (i.e., Germany) that attacks another nation (i.e., Poland) is guilty of a war crime, whether the war is successful or not.

The American people would be wise to reject the obvious attempt by these generals to limit the focus for the Iraq debacle on Rumsfeld. We must continue to place the Iraq debacle in the much larger context of the U.S. military empire that now extends across the globe. It is that enormous overseas military empire (i.e., troops in more than hundred countries, brutal sanctions, regime changes, support of brutal dictators, coups, assassinations, etc.) that lies at the root of our foreign-policy woes. It is an empire whose roots lies in the Pentagon and whose branches extend to the military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned us against and which oftentimes becomes the comfortable new home for retired generals.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 A pop quiz today!

What two things do the following programs have in common:

Immigration
Drug war
Social Security
Medicare
Iraq
The dollar
Education

If you answered: (1) They are all in crisis and (2) The federal government is the common denominator in all of them, go to the head of the class!

In fact, it is quite possible that we are approaching a “perfect storm” in which these socialist and interventionist federal programs all go into major crisis at the same time.

If so, it will be a difficult emotional time for those Americans, including both Christians and Jews, who have come to worship the federal government as their other god. After all, what could be more traumatic for an idolizer than to discover that one’s god is perfect only in the sense of how he screws up everything he touches?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

An interesting article I recently read in People magazine reflects important differences between the mindset that guides America’s criminal justice system and the U.S. military mindset that guides the “war on terrorism.”

The article stated that a woman had been murdered at her place of employment. Since the place she worked was secure against outside intrusion, the police were certain that the murderer had to be among the 85 people who worked there. They gradually narrowed down the number of suspects to three, all of whom were asked to take lie detector tests. I think one passed the test (I don’t have the article in front of me), one was inconclusive, and the third suspect refused to take the test.

Apparently, there is no other evidence, forensic or otherwise (other than the woman’s body), and so the police are going to have to cease their investigation despite the fact that a murderer is obviously going free and despite the fact that they’re certain that the murderer is among the 85 people who work at the site and most likely one of the 3 they narrowed it down to.

Now, compare that to how the military would respond. The military would say, “What? We can’t let a murderer get away. He’d just go out and kill more innocent people. That’s just plain crazy. Why, the murderer is a terrorist — an illegal combatant without a uniform. Move over, cops — this is a job for the military.”

The military would then do one of two things:

1. They’d fire a missile into the entire building, even if everyone inside was killed. Their rationale would be that the lives of 84 innocent people would be “worth” making sure that one terrorist is no longer walking the streets and committing other terrorist acts. After all, in war innocent people are killed all the time — it’s regrettable but oftentimes necessary. And killing the 84 wouldn’t constitute murder in a moral sense because this is war, and everyone knows that there is no such thing as murder in war.

2. Or the military would simply take all 85 people into custody and place them in indefinite detention in a “special” facility, ala Gitmo or Abu Ghraib, with the announcement that no one would ever be permitted to go free until the terrorist was discovered. They would torture and sexually abuse each detainee until the terrorist confessed.

Don’t forget that the precise reason that U.S. officials set up their torture and sex abuse camp in Cuba was to avoid the constraints of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, documents that created the finest criminal-justice system in history. Heaven forbid that the American people permit the Pentagon to continue hijacking and destroying it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Undoubtedly Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the Plame case, rattled both President Bush and Vice President Cheney when the recent motion he filed in the Libby case unexpectedly revealed a portion of Libby’s testimony before the grand jury. Libby testified that President Bush had authorized Libby, through Cheney, to leak what had been classified information to the press in order to counteract the charges that former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson was making about Saddam’s supposed attempts to secure nuclear-bomb-making material from Niger.

While people are now referring to the president as the “leaker in chief,” most people are conceding that the president didn’t break the law because he has the power to declassify classified materials.

However, missing from most of the discussions and analyses of the president’s conduct, is the issue of the president’s and vice-president’s own testimony to the special prosecutor. Recall that Fitzgerald interviewed both of them as part of his official investigation.

Did Bush’s testimony and Cheney’s testimony match what Libby told the grand jury? Surely, Fitzgerald asked both of them whether they had authorized underlings to leak information to the press in order to counteract charges by people who were claiming that their WMD claims were bogus. Did they admit to doing so in their testimony to Fitzgerald? Did their stories match up with that of Libby or contradict it?

If Bush’s testimony and Cheney’s testimony was materially at variance with the revelations in Libby’s testimony, both the president and the vice president are undoubtedly now suffering a bad case of acid indigestion. While Fitzgerald waived the oath before questioning them, both Bush and Cheney would still be subject to the federal offense their underlings sent Martha Stewart to jail for — lying to a federal official in the course of an official investigation.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Alberto Gonzales, whose “legal opinions” President Bush relies on to provide the president with cover for violating the law and the Constitution, is now preparing Americans for the next step in the process toward omnipotent government.

As most everyone knows, the president has admitted that he authorized the NSA to wiretap telephone conversations with Americans and suspected terrorists overseas. The wiretaps were conducted without a warrant from the secret FISA court that Congress established for that purpose.

The president’s rationale can be summed up as follows: “I am a commander in chief and I am at war against the terrorists. Therefore, whatever I do is lawful even if it violates congressional laws and the Constitution.”

Excuse me for asking a discomforting question, Mr. President, but how exactly is that different from dictatorship?

Yesterday, Gonzales suggested that the president also has the authority to do the same thing with domestic telephone conversations of the American people. Gonzales said that Bush’s position as a commander in chief gave him such power.

So, let’s review what we have here:

1. A president with the omnipotent power to send the entire nation into war on his own initiative, including aggressive wars against countries that have not attacked the United States. (Iraq and Iran)

2. A president with the omnipotent power to send the U.S. military across the land, making arrests of Americans and placing them in dungeons and concentration camps, with the power to punish, torture, and execute them without due process of law and jury trials. (Padilla case.)

3. A president with the omnipotent power to ignore the provisions of the Bill of Rights (NSA wiretapping).

4. A president with a loyal intelligence agency and a loyal army whose personnel loyally obey adn carry out his orders without challenge or question.

Unfortunately, all too many Americans believe that this is what freedom is all about — the freedom of the president to exercise omnipotent power, especially to protect them from “the terrorists.” That’s undoubtedly one reason they continue to support the denigration and abandonment of fundamental rights and guarantees that stretch all the way back to Magna Carta. They cling to the hope that by surrendering their rights and freedoms to the president and the Pentagon, they will be kept safe from “the terrorists.” In so doing, they ignore the warning of our American ancestors — that those who give up their rights and liberty in the hope of safety will get neither one and, for that matter, deserve neither one.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Every American owes it to himself to compare the military tribunal hearings that the Pentagon is holding at Guantanamo Bay to the federal court proceedings in the Moussaoui trial.

Keep in mind, first of all, that U.S. officials are reserving the right to handle suspected terrorists, including Americans, in two different ways — the military tribunal route or the federal court route.

It’s what is called arbitrary and capricious power on the part of government officials. Be nice to them and they might send you to the federal court route. Be uncooperative and you’ll get the military tribunal treatment.

Does it make a difference? Well, that’s why everyone should monitor carefully how the military runs its “criminal justice system” and compare it with the criminal justice system established by our Founding Fathers.

In the Moussaoui case, the judge operates the court through long-established rules known as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and long-established evidentiary rules known as the Federal Rules of Evidence. More important, the defendant is accorded all the rights and guarantees provided in the Bill of Rights, rights which stretch back to Magna Charta.

To catch a glimpse of how the military system operates, consider this report from this morning’s New York Times:

“Mr. Khadr’s chief defense lawyer, Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, answered most of the presiding officer’s complaints by suggesting that the proper procedures — if there were any — were far from clear. The presiding officer did not always disagree. ‘I don’t know, quite frankly, what the procedure would be,’ the presiding officer, Col. Robert S. Chester, acknowledged at one point in an argument over how the defense should seek permission to take on a foreign lawyer as an adviser. The Bush administration established the commissions in the hope that a new, military-run judicial system, for which it could devise its own rules, could prosecute terrorists more effectively than existing courts. But the tribunals have been beset from the start by procedural confusion and disorganization, and the hearing on Wednesday brought more of the same.”

Why is all this so important? Because what all too many Americans have yet to realize is that by assuming the power to sending suspected criminals, including Americans, into either the federal court system or the military system, Pentagon officials, operating in conjunction with the president and the Justice Department, have effectively hijacked our federal judicial system along with the provisions in the Bill of Rights that reins supreme in that system.

There is little hope that Congress will put a stop to all this, especially since Congress recently enacted a law stripping the federal courts of power to interfere with the military tribunals. There is still some hope that the courts will stop what is happening.

Ultimately, however, the answer lies with the American people. How much do they value the rights and freedoms that have been bequeathed to them and that stretch back all the way to Magna Charta? Can they and will they conquer their fear of “the terrorists” so as to protect their rights and freedoms from federal assault?

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

While President Bush points out that that Iran is not a free country, the New York Times yesterday published an article that reflects the similarity in mindsets in American conservatives and Iranian conservatives. The conservative ayatollahs have criminalized the comsumption of booze, just as American conservatives have criminalized the consumption of illicit drugs.

What’s important is the overall philosophy that guides Iranian and American conservatives: That “freedom” entails the power of the government to punish people for ingesting what the state feels is harmful to them.

Libertarianism, by comparison, holds that genuine freedom entails the right of the individual to live his life any way he chooses, so long as his conduct is peaceful, even if such conduct entails harming one’s own self through ingesting alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, or any other drug.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the 30-year alcohol war that conservatives have waged in Iran has been as big a failure as the 30-year drug war that conservatives have waged in the U.S. According to the Times,

“Every month, newspapers report that tens of thousands of bottles of illicit liquor are confiscated by the police around the country. The Mehr news agency last month quoted a senior security official, Gen. Hooshang Hosseini, as saying that the amount of liquor in the country was increasing at an alarming rate. Despite the crackdown, there is no sense of an alcohol shortage.”

With U.S. conservatives sharing the mindset of Iranian ayatollahs that government should have the power to legislate morality and serve as people’s brutal parent, and with U.S. conservatives sharing Fidel Castro’s commitment to socialist programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, income taxation, and public schooling), and with U.S. conservatives favoring the North Korean system of military arrests and denial of due process and jury trials for suspected criminals, and with U.S. conservatives sharing the same vision of foreign empire and aggression as the Soviet Union, and with U.S. conservatives condoning torture and sex abuse, is it any wonder that our nation continues to move in a very bad and ominous direction?

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Libertarian principles — the principles that guided our American ancestors — are the only way out of the morass in which nation finds itself.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule in the Jose Padilla case. The court’s decision was based on the federal government’s decision to finally move Padilla out of the control of the Pentagon and into the federal court’s criminal justice system.

The president and the Pentagon had held Padilla, an American citizen, for 3 years in a military dungeon, claiming that in America the military now has the power to take any American into custody and punish him, even execute him, without a jury trial or due process of law on the mere suspicion that he is a “terrorist.”

On the eve of the Padilla’s case reaching the Supreme Court, the federals decided to transfer Padilla to the federal court system, treating terrorism as a crime, not an act of war.

However, there are three important aspects to the Padilla case that Americans should be fully aware of (rather than simply putting their heads down and acting like all is now safe and okay):

1. The federals have not abandoned the Padilla doctrine and have even warned that if Padilla is acquitted by a civilian jury, they are reserving the power to right to take him back into military custody and punish him (just like the military does in totalitarian regimes).

2. The Padilla doctrine applies to all Americans, not just Padilla. That is, we now live in a country in which the military has the power to barge into people’s homes, take Americans into custody, label them “terrorists,” and punish them — even kill them — without a jury trial or due process.

3. The federals have a Court of Appeals decision under their belt in Padilla, which they would undoubtedly rely upon in the event of an “emergency” or “crisis” in which they were rounding up Americans and putting them into concentration camps, like they did with Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.

The good news is that some of the justices in the Padilla case wrote in their opinions yesterday that they are standing ready to intervene in the Padilla case if the federals decide to pull a fast one and transfer Padilla back to the Pentagon, like they did in the al-Marri case. But given the inordinate delays that have already taken place in the Padilla case, people would be foolish to rely on that dictum.

Ultimately, the preservation of our liberties depends neither on the judiciary or the Congress. It lies instead with the American people, who must decide whether they are going to continue permitting U.S. officials to continue disregarding the restrictions on federal power in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

If Americans decide that their rights and freedoms are of paramount importance and that they will not permit the federals to suspend or abridge them, the federals will succumb and obey the law, the supreme law — the Constitution — that the people have imposed upon them.

But if the people remain frightened of “the terrorists,” either playing like ostriches or begging the government to do whatever is necessary to keep them “safe,” the federals will continue to run roughshod over the Constitution and the rights and liberties of the people.

Monday, April 3, 2006

The economic situation in Argentina might be a harbinger of what we are due to face here in the United States in the near future. Taking a page from U.S. government policy in the 1970s, the Argentine government is imposing price controls to deal with “inflation,” which Argentine officials define as “rising prices.”

Given its out-of-control federal spending, the U.S. government might soon be following the Argentine path.

If the dollar craters in value, there is only one way for that phenomenon to be reflected: through rising prices of everything else. It’s just the basic law of supply and demand operating in the monetary sphere. The federal government prints more dollars to finance its out of control spending, which in turn lowers the value of the dollar compared to everything else. That means that it will take more dollars to buy everything else, which is reflected by rising prices of everything else.

As the prices of everything rise, the last thing that government officials want people to figure out is that it’s government policy that is responsible for this. So they start pointing people’s attention to “unseen forces” or greedy, profit-seeking people in the private sector who are behind the price rises. (It’s a variation of what they do with respect to terrorism—focus people’s attention on everything but federal policies.)

Their “solution” is to impose price controls on the private sector in a type of “Whip Inflation Now” campaign that makes people believe that the federal government is their friend doing its best to protect them from the evils of rising prices. The common man, most likely a graduate of public (i.e., government) schools, has no idea that the government is behind the entire monetary fiasco in the first place.

That’s, in fact, why our American ancestors rejected paper money in favor of gold — to protect themselves and their wealth from federal officials. Unlike paper, governments can’t simply “print” up new supplies of gold to finance their prolificacy.

In fact, a rising price of gold, along with other commodities, is usually the market’s early sign that government officials are debasing the currency. Government officials don’t like such free-market signs of government wrongdoing because they want the people to avoid focusing on government policies as being the root of their woes.

That’s why federal officials in the 1930 not only forced Americans to turn their gold to the government but also made it a federal felony to even possess gold. If the dollar collapses, don’t be surprised to hear federal officials raising the idea of once again confiscating people’s gold and making it a felony to own it. In fact, in the event of a monetary crisis, don’t be surprised to see U.S. officials re-embracing many of the socialist-fascist schemes that were adopted by President Franklin Roosevelt and later copied by former Argentine dictator Juan Peron.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

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.