Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, February 2010

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Ron Paul vs. Big Government Conservatives
by Jacob G. Hornberger

An op-ed entitled “Conservatives’ Isolationist Dalliance” in the Washington Times today by Jeffrey T. Kuhner, president of the conservative Edmund Burke Institute, is an excellent example of the difficult task that Ron Paul has in convincing conservatives to abandon their devotion to Big Government in foreign affairs.

Praising Paul for his limited-government domestic policy, Kuhner then proceeds to excoriate him for his limited-government foreign policy. To make his case, Kuhner goes back to World War II — the so-called “good war,” pointing out that “old isolationist conservatives were prepared to abandon Europe to Hitler’s Germany.”

Kuhner also denies that the U.S. government “imperialist” policies in the Middle East produced the September 11 attacks. The attacks, he claims, are because the Jihadists “seek to restore a medieval Islamic caliphate” and that “America’s support for Israel or foreign aid to Egypt is simply a rationalization for their revolutionary aims.”

What Kuhner and indeed so many other conservatives cannot bring themselves to recognize is that it is conservatives themselves who are doing the rationalizing. Unable to abandon their deep commitment to Big Government, they inevitably seek out, consciously or unconsciously, every rationalization possible to maintain Big Government.

From the end of World War II through the fall of the Berlin Wall, conservatives advocated Big Government in the form of a massive Cold War military machine and an ever-expanding military-industrial complex, along with the ever-increasing spending, debts, taxes, and inflation that accompanied them. During that entire time, the big official enemy — the justification that conservatives used for maintaining Big Government — was communism.

During the entire Cold War, did conservatives ever exclaim against the jihadists, the Muslims, the terrorists, the Islamofascists, or the Koran extremists? Of course not. The reason was because they felt they were safe in using the threat of communism to justify their commitment to Big Government. It never occurred to them that they would ever lose communism as an official enemy. That’s why they felt safe in proclaiming that if the Cold War ever ended, they would be fully supportive of abandoning their commitment to Big Government. In their minds, it was a safe thing to say.

In fact, not only did they never talk about an Islamic threat during the Cold War, they enthusiastically supported the U.S. Empire’s partnership with Osama bin Laden and other “Islamofascists” when they were trying to rid Afghanistan of the Soviet Empire’s occupation.

Indeed, even today, when many conservatives are claiming that Muslims worldwide are waging a holy war against Christians, Jews, and atheists because the Koran supposedly requires them to do so, conservatives remain strangely silent about the U.S. government’s financial and military support of the Islamic regimes in Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and others. I wonder why conservatives aren’t calling on bombing them. Indeed, why aren’t conservatives killing the Muslim enemy here at home? Surely they’re not afraid of a criminal indictment for murder in time of war, are they?

Then the big shock came. The Berlin Wall fell. The communist threat disappeared (although for years many conservatives were claiming that it was all part of an elaborate communist plot to conquer the West). The Cold War ended.

“Oh my gosh! What to do now? How can we convince Americans to maintain Big Government now that our 45-year-old rationalization for Big Government — the one we never thought would disappear — is now gone. Why, people are now even talking about a ‘peace dividend’ involving massive reductions in Big Government military spending.”

It’s important that we first point out though what conservatives never like to talk about: the role that their “good war” played in producing the Cold War official enemy that they used to rationalize their support of Big Government for more than half-a-century.

Kuhner mocks non-interventionist Americans like Robert Taft and Charles Lindbergh for opposing U.S. entry into World War II. He says, “They were prepared to abandon Europe to Hitler’s Germany.”

What Kuhner fails to point out though is that most Americans opposed entry into World War II, primarily because they had experienced the destructive idiocy of U.S. intervention into World War I, a war that Kuhner, not surprisingly, doesn’t even mention in his op-ed, no doubt because it accomplished nothing more than the wasteful sacrifice of thousands of American lives, not to mention giving rise to Adolf Hitler and, ultimately, World War II.

More significant, however, is Kuhner’s failure to point out the actual results of the “good war.” Oh sure, like other interventionist conservatives he likes to point to the defeat of Adolf Hitler, pointing out that Europe was saved from the Nazis … but then he just stops there with his analysis. How convenient!

What Kuhner obviously doesn’t feel too comfortable talking about is that while World War II saved Eastern Europe from the Nazis, the Eastern Europeans were delivered into the hands of America’s communist partner in WW II, the Soviet Union. And so were the East Germans. Yes, the same communists who conservatives then used as the official enemy to justify Big Government for the next 45 years!

Are you seeing why Kuhner stops his analysis of World War II so abruptly? When Great Britain and France declared war on Germany (it wasn’t the other way around), it was ostensibly to save the Poles and Czechs from the clutches of Nazi totalitarianism. What happened at the end of the war? The Poles and Czechs and many others ended up in the hands of the Soviet communists. It is not surprising that the Poles and the Czechs don’t celebrate World War II as a great victory, the way that conservative interventionists like Kuhner do.

So, what happened after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Well, for a time conservatives and the Pentagon were desperately in search of a new official enemy, practically pleading with Americans not to dismantle the enormous Cold War military machine and military industrial complex that President Eisenhower had warned was a threat to our American way of life. They talked about how they might fight the drug war, or help American businesses overseas, or even how they could help manage an “unsafe world.”

But all the while, they began poking hornets’ nests, especially in the Middle East. After having partnered with such unelected brutal dictators as the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein, they turned on Saddam and killed countless Iraqis in the Persian Gulf War. They intentionally destroyed Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants after a Pentagon study confirmed that this would help spread infectious illnesses. They enforced brutal sanctions against Iraq and then crowed that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.” They stationed U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands knowing how insulting this was to Muslim sensitivities. They killed even more Iraqis with the no-fly zones that had been authorized by neither Congress nor the UN. They continually provided foreign aid to the Israeli government and to the brutal and corrupt authoritarian Arab regimes in the region.

Yet, Kuhner steadfastly maintains that none of this had anything to do with why people in the Middle East have gotten so angry at the United States. Perhaps he’s unfamiliar with the angry tirade by Ramzi Yousef, the convicted terrorist in the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, who specifically cited U.S. foreign policy as the reason for his anger. Perhaps he’s unaware of the numerous references to U.S. foreign policy by the al-Qaeda terrorists who followed up the 1993 WTC attack with attacks on the USS Cole, the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and 9/11. Indeed, perhaps he’s unaware of the statement by Najubullah Zazi, the convicted terrorist who pled guilty this past week and who cited the killings of civilians in Afghanistan for his reason to retaliate.

No, in Kuhner’s mind — indeed, in the minds of other Big Government conservatives — all that is just irrelevant rationalizations. People in the Middle East don’t get angry when the lives of their loved ones are snuffed out or when they’re abused or humiliated. That only applies to Americans, not foreigners. Anyway, as conservatives often reminded us during the Vietnam War, foreigners don’t place the same high value on human life as the Americans.

The fact is that the war on terror has provided conservatives with another rationalization for supporting Big Government. In their minds, it’s actually even better than communism or the war on drugs. After all, the terrorist threat goes on forever, especially when the Empire is over there continuing to kill, maim, abuse, and humiliate people.

Kuhner’s op-ed shows how incorrigible many conservatives are when it comes to Big Government. After so many years of allegiance to Big Government in foreign affairs, many of these people are simply not going to change. We advocates of freedom and limited government shouldn’t waste our time trying to do so. Instead, we should continue finding the people who wish to dismantle Big Government, in terms of both the welfare state and the warfare state, with the aim of reaching a critical mass that overcomes liberals, conservatives, and others supporters of Big Government and restores freedom, prosperity, and peace to our land.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Neocons Attack CPAC War on Terror Panel
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The rabidly pro-war, pro-intervention folks over at Frontpagemagazine.com are shocked and dismayed about our recent CPAC panel “You’ve Been Lied To: Why Real Conservatives Should Reject the War on Terror,” in which I had the good fortune of participating as a panelist. The panel was co-sponsored by the Campaign for Liberty, the Ladies of Liberty Alliance, and The Future of Freedom Foundation. The video of the panel is: here.

In an article entitled “CPAC Shills for Islamic Terrorists,” Frontpagemagazine.com interviewed a woman named Pamela Geller, who is the editor of a website that is, ironically, named AtlasShrugs.com. During the interview, Geller expressed her chagrin over the fact that a pro-war event that she sponsored was not part of CPAC and that our panel was part of the conference.

Claiming that our panel was an “exercise in misinformation,” Geller went on the attack. The part I’ll respond to in this blog post is the part that relates to me. Here’s what she says:

“At the event Jacob Hornberger said that there were four reasons why real conservatives should be against the war on terror: because it is too costly, because it makes us less safe (he said Americans were less secure because American troops kill children and mothers and people who are simply defending their country against invaders, and have even, he said, killed a bride at her wedding), because it violates Constitutional principles, and because it is a threat to liberty.”

“Nothing was said about the Islamic doctrine that shows that jihadists would be waging war against the U.S. even if we did end all actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The panel agreed with Obama, that Muslims are angry with us because of our actions, and will stop being angry with us if we change our foreign policy. This view is naïve and reflects ignorance of Islamic doctrine.”

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Geller obviously decided not to confront my arguments directly. The reason that this is not surprising is because Geller must know that she cannot dispute the accuracy or the truthfulness of what I stated: that by supporting the war on terror, conservatives violate their very own principles.

I pointed out that the U.S. Empire, by its actions overseas, had become the world’s greatest terrorist-producing machine. The reason for this should not be difficult to comprehend: Every time the Empire kills or maims people or destroys their homes or businesses, there are friends, relatives, and countrymen of the deceased who tend to become angry and want to wreak vengeance on the United States. Human nature is human nature, I pointed out. It’s not any different all over the world. If foreigners came to the United States and killed Americans, there are plenty of Americans who would become angry and want vengeance. It’s no different with people living in foreign countries.

Thus, I said that when a U.S. bomb kills a bride at a wedding party, for example, the groom is quite likely to get angry and want vengeance. I can only assume though that Geller is familiar with the periodic U.S. bombings of wedding parties in Afghanistan. Here are a few examples:

June 2002: 20 people killed and 60 injured.

May 2007: 47 people killed.

July 2008: 23 people killed, including the bride.

November 2008: 40 people killed, mainly women and children.

But of course the principle applies not just to people killed at wedding parties but to everyone else the Empire kills in Iraq and Afghanistan, including people who are simply defending the country against a foreign invasion and occupation.

In my talk, I observed that it’s entirely possible that there will still be people who are angry about the people killed by the U.S. Empire during the past several years or decades. Yes, they might still be bent on killing Americans in revenge. But the big advantage of immediate withdrawal is that the U.S. Empire will no longer be killing new people over there and, therefore, will no longer be adding an endless stream of new recruits to the jihadists.

After all, surely Geller isn’t claiming that all Muslims are trying to kill Americans under Islamic doctrine. If that were the case, she would be out shooting Muslims here in the United States (and claiming that “we’re at war” at her criminal prosecution for murder). Or she would be out protesting against U.S. foreign aid to the Islamic regimes that govern Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and others.

No, Geller would have to admit that it’s only a certain percentage of Muslims who are the jihadists. Thus, even if Geller were correct in her claim that the jihad is based on Islamic doctrine and not a reaction to U.S. foreign policy, surely she has to concede that U.S. foreign policy (e.g., the periodic bombing of wedding parties) only serves to fuel the ranks of the jihadists. Wouldn’t it make more sense to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, which would thereby stop the Empire’s killing of new people, which would put a damper on recruitment for the jihadists?

After all, as I pointed out in my talk, conservatives have long stood for “a strong national defense” as one of their principles. So, why not bring all the troops home … and defend?

But surely Geller knows that her claim that the jihadists are waging war because Islamic doctrine requires them to, rather than as “blowback” from U.S. foreign policy, is riddled with fallacies. After all, we don’t see the jihadists attacking Switzerland or Sweden, do we?

No, they just happen to be attacking an empire that has killed, maimed, or exiled millions of people in the Middle East, destroyed countless homes and businesses, openly declared that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it,” insulted Muslim sensitivities by stationing U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands, provided unconditional financial and military support to the Israeli government for decades, and invaded and occupied two Muslim countries.

As I pointed out in my talk, the best thing to do is to bring all the troops home immediately and dismantle the Empire. That is the only way to make America safer, it also is the only way to fulfill the conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, security, the Constitution, and individual liberty, all of which the war on terrorism is destroying.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More Terrorist Blowback from U.S. Foreign Policy
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Immediately after 9/11, Bush administration officials declared the motivation of the terrorists: that the terrorists hated America for its “freedom and values.”

In other words, the 9/11 attacks, according to President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and other U.S. officials, had absolutely nothing to do with the boiling rage in the Middle East over U.S. foreign policy.

Sure, the U.S. government had supported Saddam Hussein, even delivering to him those infamous WMDS, and had supported other corrupt, authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, such as Iran, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

Sure, the U.S. government had killed countless Iraqis during the Persian Gulf War and intentionally destroyed Iraq’s water-and-sewage treatment plants during the war after a Pentagon study determined that such action would help to spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people. (See: http://www.progressive.org/mag/nagy0901.html.)

Sure, the U.S. government enforced one of the most brutal and deadly systems of sanctions in history against Iraq for more than ten years, which succeeded in contributing to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.

Sure, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright had declared to the world on “Sixty Minutes” that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children had been “worth it.”

Sure, the U.S. government had stationed troops near Islamic holy lands knowing that such would antagonize people of Muslim faith in the Middle East.

Sure, the U.S. government continually provided unconditional financial and military aid to the Israeli government.

But no, according to Bush, Cheney, and their cohorts, none of this had anything to do with why people in the Middle East were boiling over with rage prior to 9/11. According to them, people in the Middle East were apparently either indifferent to all this death, destruction, and humiliation at the hands of the U.S. Empire or maybe even favored it.

You see, the mindset among the neocon community has always been: The U.S. Empire is incapable of doing anything morally or legally wrong to foreigners, especially to those living in the Middle East. The Empire is good per se. And anyone who suggests that the Empire’s actions motivated the terrorists is crazy, irrational, or just plain unpatriotic. Every normal-thinking American is expected to know that the Empire is all-good, all-caring, all-compassionate, all saintly, and all-godly.

One of the best examples of this mindset in the political arena took place in the first Republican Party debate in the 2008 presidential race — the debate that launched the presidential campaign of Ron Paul. When Paul declared in the debate that the terrorists are over here because the U.S. government is over there, he was met with absolute shock by his statist opponents. In their minds, suggesting that the U.S. Empire’s actions over there had motivated the terrorists was akin to heresy.

Now, let’s look at the case of Najubullah Zazi , who pled guilty yesterday to terrorism-related charges in U.S. District Court in New York.

Let’s examine what Zazi told the judge as to why he was motivated to commit terrorist acts against the United States: “I would sacrifice myself to bring attention to what the U.S. military was doing to civilians in Afghanistan.”

Now, do you see anything about hating America’s freedom and values in that statement?

Well, actually a neocon would say “Yes!” because, you see, neocons consider imperialism and interventionism to be an integral part of America’s “freedom and values.”

But neocons are wrong. America’s heritage of freedom and values is based on the concept of individual liberty, free markets, and a constitutional republic, not an interventionist empire that glories in support of brutal regimes, sanctions and embargoes, and invasions, undeclared wars of aggression, and occupations.

Zazi’s statement about what motivated him to commit terrorism against America was really no different in principle than what Ramzi Yousef, the terrorist bomber of the World Trade Center in 1993, said at his sentencing hearing two years later in U.S. federal court. He cited U.S. foreign policy, including the deadly sanctions against Iraq, not America’s freedom and values, as the motivating factor behind his actions.

When neocons claim that 9/11 changed everything, they are wrong. It didn’t change U.S. foreign policy at all. The invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with all the death and destruction they have wrought, were nothing more than a continuation of an imperialist and interventionist foreign policy, one that continues to motivate people to commit terrorist attacks against our country.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Neocons Hate Muslims
by Jacob G. Hornberger

While there has been much discussion over why Muslims hate Americans, much less attention has been given to why neocons hate Muslims. While it might be true that some neocons hate Muslims for their religious and cultural values, I think there is a better explanation for their hatred. I think the real reason that neocons want to kill Muslims so badly is that people in the Middle East, who are predominately Muslim, have refused to accept the domination of the U.S. Empire, especially in the aftermath of the Cold War, when the U.S. became the world’s sole remaining empire. That refusal has earned them the everlasting enmity of American neocons.

Think about the U.S. invasions and regime-change operations in Grenada and Panama. Once they were completed, the citizens of both of those countries meekly accepted the new order of things. They quickly embraced the newly installed pro-U.S. regimes. No terrorist attacks. No violent insurgencies in either country. Instead, full and complete acceptance of the new world order.

Not so, however, in Iraq and Afghanistan. In both countries, large numbers of people have refused to do what the people of Grenada and Panama did. Instead, Iraqis and Afghanis have refused to kowtow to the Empire. In both countries, both men and women have refused to accept its invasions, occupations, and regime-change operations. Countless Iraqis and Afghanis have even been willing to sacrifice their lives in resistance to the foreign interference with their countries, much as they did when the British Empire and the Soviet Empire invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in the past.

Consider Iraq. After the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. Empire imposed possibly the most brutal sanctions in history on the Iraqi people. Year after year, Iraqi children were dying from infectious illnesses arising from untreated water and sewage owing to the inability to repair water-and-sewage treatment plants that the Pentagon had intentionally destroyed during the war.

Why did U.S. officials continue the sanctions year after year for more than 10 years knowing that they were causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children? Because the Iraqi people, most of whom happened to be Muslim, obstinately refused to comply with U.S. demands to oust Saddam Hussein from power. For that obstinacy, they needed to be punished. That’s what the sanctions were all about. (See this link for a compendium of excellent articles on the sanctions on Iraq.)

U.S. officials emphasized that the sanctions would be lifted once Iraqis complied with U.S. demands to oust Saddam from power and install a pro-U.S. regime. Even though the sanctions never succeeded in ousting Saddam from power, when “Sixty Minutes” asked U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children had been worth it, she replied that such deaths were, in fact, “worth it.” After all, what better way to punish people for recalcitrance to the Empire than to maintain a system that kills their children? (See “Albright Apologizes” by Sheldon Richman.)

Consider Iran. The reason that neocons hate Iran is the independence that Iran shows toward the Empire. If the Iranian regime were to adopt the subservient and obedient attitude toward the Empire that, say, Libyan military strongman and terrorist Mohammar Qadaffi has adopted or, for that matter, that the pro-U.S. Shah of Iran adopted, everything would be hunky dory.

The neocon mindset about Muslims is much like the mindset of plantation owners in the Old South. As long as the slaves were obedient, respectful, and subservient, everything was fine. Oh, sure, slaves would periodically complain about their condition in life but, by and large, such complaints were considered acceptable. What was not acceptable was resistance and opposition to slavery itself, especially when it turned violent. That was when a message had to be sent. Such an uppity attitude simply could not be tolerated.

And that’s the way neocons view Muslims in the Middle East. They’re just too uppity. Like the slaves in the Old South, it was incumbent on the people in those countries to accept the new world order after the fall of the Berlin Wall. When the U.S. Empire spoke, they were supposed to listen, submit, and obey.

But as we all know — from the attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, the attacks on the USS Cole, the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attacks on 9/11, and the violent resistance to the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan — there are people in the Middle East, who just happen to be Muslim, who, unlike the citizenry of Grenada and Panama, have refused to submit to the Empire and obey its commands. And that is what has earned them the everlasting hatred of the neocons.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wow! Libertarians at CPAC!
by Jacob G. Hornberger

What a great time we had at the CPAC conference! Yes, I know what you might be asking yourself: What in the world was FFF doing at CPAC? After all, it is a conference for conservatives, right? And we are about as pure libertarians as you’d ever find. And you’d be right to ask that question, especially given that we have never participated in CPAC in the 20 years that FFF has been around.

Well, here’s the answer: Several months ago we were asked by the Campaign for Liberty whether we would like to be part of a “liberty row” of exhibitors at CPAC. C4L (as it is known) is the biggest organization that grew out of the Ron Paul presidential campaign.

Three other organizations, which are oriented toward students and young people, that the Paul campaign inspired were also part of “liberty row”: Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), Students for Liberty (SFL), and Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA, whose calendar featuring monthly LOLA ladies seems particularly popular).

Two other organizations invited to be on liberty row were Gun Owners of America and the Free State Project.

It was a big honor for us to be part of “liberty row,” but what was really great was being part of the fun that those four Ron Paul-inspired organizations were having in that particular part of the big exhibit hall.

Every time I walked around the exhibit hall, the booths advocating conservative principles were staid, serious, and somber. Not so on “liberty row”! There was always a big bunch of young people standing around discussing politics and, specifically, libertarianism — and obviously having a great time doing so. You could actually see and sense the excitement — the buzz — along “liberty row.” It was clear that people in our section of the exhibit hall were truly enjoying themselves, unlike the contrived fun that was characterizing the conservative sections. In fact, no doubt the conservative elements were resenting the ongoing sumo wrestling matches (really!) that YAL was sponsoring at its booth!

Bart Frazier was manning the FFF booth. Over the three days of the conference, he gave away, mostly to students, hundreds of free copies of our publication “Economic Liberty and the Constitution,” our book Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and our monthly journal Freedom Daily.

On Thursday, I had the good fortune of appearing on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s second-ever live segment of Fox News’ Freedom Watch. Here’s my blog on that event.

On Friday, we got to attend a nice cocktail party sponsored by C4L, which Ron Paul and Andrew Napolitano attended. That was followed by a program moderated by Tom Woods, in which Paul and Napolitano lit up the crowd with their talks.

Then, on Saturday, FFF co-sponsored a fantastic (and provocative!) panel entitled “Why Real Conservatives Should Reject the War on Terror,” which was attended by an overflow crowd of about 300 people, mostly young people. The four panelists were Philip Giraldi (former CIA agent), Karen Kwiatkowski (former Pentagon officer), Bruce Fein (former Justice Department lawyer), and me, with Kelly Torrance from American Conservative serving as moderator. Unfortunately, our live-feed for the event didn’t work because of Internet reception problems but we were able to record it. I think you’ll really enjoy these talks.

I suppose you’ve heard by now that Ron Paul was the leading vote-getter in the CPAC presidential straw poll. We libertarians are making progress, which is reflected by the innumerable articles online (both favorable and critical) about the strong libertarian influence at this year’s CPAC. It sure was exciting to be able to be a part of it all. Thank you to Campaign for Liberty for inviting us to be there.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Liberty Batteries Charged at Judge Napolitano’s Freedom Watch
by Jacob G. Hornberger

What an awesome day I had yesterday! Wow! I’ll give more details about the CPAC conference later. Right now I’ll just talk about the Big Highlight of the day — Judge Andrew Napolitano’s Freedom Watch, which was done live at the conference.

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of doing lots of radio and television shows as a guest, but Freedom Watch tops the list in terms of pure fun and enjoyment. Of course, the catalyst is the judge himself, who is so filled with passion for liberty that it practically spills out of him.

There were two panels, the first consisting of Tom Woods, Tom DiLorenzo, and me, and the second consisting of David Boaz, a talk-show host from Sirius XM whose name I’m sorry to say I can’t remember, and me.

The judge started out like a freedom battery charger — immediately doing what he does best — pumping bursts of pro-liberty energy into the show.

But what really made the event was the audience because it consisted of a big group of college students who have real fire in the belly for freedom and who obviously idolize the judge. They’re part of a variety of pro-freedom organizations, which I’ll talk about in a later blog, that are offshoots of the Ron Paul presidential campaign.

So, while Judge Napolitano was the prime battery charger, you had all those young people upping the amps big time with spontaneous cheers and applauses every time the judge or the panelists made a libertarian remark, which was just about every minute.

It was awesome! You could really feel the positive pro-liberty energy in that room, which served to pump up the panelists.

I could talk about how the program went, but it would be an inade”uate substitute for actually seeing the program itself. It was nothing but pure fun and enjoyment, and so I highly recommend watching it in its entirety. I’m sure it will be posted soon at the Freedom Watch website. Be prepared to have your liberty batteries energized!

REMINDER: We’re going to do our best to live-stream our panel at CPAC tomorrow (Saturday) at 2 pm ET: Here’s the link to go to: http://www.ustream.tv/futureoffreedom. The theme is: “Why Real Conservatives Should Reject the War on Terror,” which is certain to be a bit controversial, given that it will bring a strong dose of much-needed libertarian foreign–policy perspectives into this big conference of conservatism. The panelists will be: Karen Kwiatkowski, Bruce Fein, Philip Giraldi, and me. We’re also going to try to record the event but we’re not sure yet whether that’s going to be possible. If we do pull it off, we will of course post it on the FFF website.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Coulter’s Inane Defense of Bush on O’Reilly
by Jacob G. Hornberger

I tuned into conservative Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News last night to see what libertarian John Stossel had to say, and in the process I was treated to one of the most inane arguments I have ever heard in my life, not from Stossel, of course, but rather from arch-conservative Ann Coulter, who was appearing as a guest in a separate segment.

So, Coulter was trying to distinguish George W. Bush’s treatment of shoe-bomber terrorist Richard Reid, an admitted member of al-”aeda who was treated as a criminal defendant, from Obama’s treatment of accused Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is being treated in the same way.

Coulter suggested that the reason that Bush treated Reid as a criminal defendant rather than as a enemy combatant was because the Pentagon’s Gitmo prison camp was mired in litigation, including Supreme Court rulings adverse to the government, followed by congressional approval of a military tribunal system, followed by more litigation. Coulter suggested that all this litigation mess motivated Bush to prosecute Reid in the federal criminal justice system rather than in the military-tribunal system.

Like I say, ridiculous and inane! Litigation mess or no mess, there was nothing preventing Bush from treating Reid as an enemy combatant. After all, didn’t he continue treating Jose Padilla and Ali-al-Marri as enemy combatants for years, notwithstanding the litigation mess, not to mention all the men held as prisoners at Gitmo for several years while the litigation was taking place? We didn’t see Bush transforming them into criminal defendants because of the litigation mess, did we? In fact, the only reason that Bush suddenly converted Padilla from enemy combatant to criminal defendant was to avoid a Supreme Court review of a Court of Appeals decision upholding Padilla’s status as an enemy combatant.

What Coulter and O’Reilly obviously want to avoid confronting is the wholesale transformation of our constitutional order that Bush and his people effected after 9/11, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. It’s a transformation that even makes FDR’s infamous court-packing scheme look like child’s play, a transformation that Obama has obviously embraced with relish.

Terrorism is a federal crime listed as such in the U.S. Code. That’s why suspected terrorists have always been indicted and prosecuted in federal district court. Examples include Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 WTC bomber, Zacharias Moussaoui, the 9/11 conspirator bomber, and Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber.

What changed? After 911, Bush and Vice President Cheney simply decided to call 9/11 an act of war, which they claimed empowered them to treat suspected terrorists as enemy combatants, subject to being turned over to the military and denied all the procedural rights that criminal defendants had long been accorded.

That’s it! Just a simple decision by Bush and Cheney, but one that constituted a revolutionary transformation of America’s constitutional order. Cheney confirmed this in his recent interview with ABC News’ “This Week”:

“I think it’s — it’s very important to go back and keep in mind the distinction between handling these events as criminal acts, which was the way we did before 9/11, and then looking at 9/11 and saying, This is not a criminal act, not when you destroy 16 acres of Manhattan, kill 3,000 Americans, blow a big hole in the Pentagon. That’s an act of war. And what the administration was slow to do was to come to that — that recognition that we are at war, not dealing with criminal acts.”

Yet, in deciding that this particular crime was an act of war rather than a criminal offense, what Cheney failed to point out was that he and Bush did not totally abandon the criminal-defendant route established by the Constitution. After all, let’s not forget that after making this momentous decision, they actually treated 9/11 co-conspirator Moussaoui as a criminal defendant, securing a federal grand-jury indictment against him and prosecuting him as a criminal defendant.

So, why have both Bush and Obama continued to treat some suspected terrorists as criminal defendants. Because they’re still not sure how far to push their new order of things.

Their ideal is obviously to have the power to round up anyone they want, including Americans, incarcerate them, torture them, and even execute them, all without a genuine trial and due process of law and all by simply labeling people terrorists

But to ensure that Americans don’t get too alarmed over this wholesale transformation of their constitutional order, as Americans did, for example, when President Franklin Roosevelt proposed his infamous court-packing scheme, U.S. officials are still preserving and using the judicial system established by the Constitution in terrorist cases while no doubt hoping to abandon it entirely at some point in the future for full military jurisdiction over terrorist cases, including those involving Americans.

Too bad that O’Reilly didn’t ask Coulter to justify this dual-track, ad hoc, arbitrary system established by Bush and continued by Obama. It would have been fun seeing her come up with a justification for it.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Socialist Bankruptcy in Greece
by Jacob G. Hornberger

How long have European socialists been telling us how successful European welfare-statism has been? The governments in Europe’s socialist countries, they tell us, take care of their people with pensions, social security, free health care and education, and job security. And everything, they say, is just hunky dory.

But as we libertarians have been telling American socialists for decades, it’s just a matter of time before socialist systems start cracking apart, which of course has now occurred in Greece.

A system in which the government doles out money to people presupposes one important factor: that there are people in the private sector with income and wealth to take the money away from, so that government officials can turn around and give it away to others.

That fact oftentimes shocks statists. They live their lives under the pretense that the government operates just like a private business. That is, they think that the government is providing valuable goods and services that people are willingly paying for, a like a private business does. Then, they figure that when the government is doling out its fruits in the form of welfare, it’s doing it with its own hard-earned money, just as a private business might use some of its profits to give to charity.

Not so! The government gets its money by force, by simply seizing it from people in the private sector. The process is called taxation. The government finds people with money and takes a portion of it. It retains a percentage of that money to pay its own expenses — government salaries, overhead, etc. — and then doles out the rest to the recipients of welfare (or warfare) largess.

Since the government gets its money by taking it away from people who have money, it’s obvious then that the whole system depends on people in the private sector having money. If everyone in society is penniless, obviously a welfare state cannot work because the government has no one to tax in order to get its welfare money.

So, in order for a welfare state to exist, the private sector must first build up a base of income and wealth. Ironically, the best way to do that is for government to leave people free to accumulate wealth. As people begin accumulating wealth by selling goods and services to others, they tend to save a portion of their income. That savings goes into capital — tools and e”uipment — which then makes people more productive, which then tends to raise real incomes. Over time, the overall base of wealth begins growing exponentially.

Enter the socialists. They see this gigantic base of wealth and go nutso. They simply cannot help themselves. They just want to take, take, and take. And they’re never satisfied. They always want more and more and more.

For a while their welfare system seems to work. The socialists pluck the golden goose but the goose is still able and willing to lay eggs. But inevitably, out of their insatiable thirst for more resources, the socialists over-pluck, which causes the goose to lay less eggs. Ultimately, the goose starts getting thinner and weaker, until it finally dies.

And that’s precisely what has happened in the beloved socialist paradise of Greece. They taxed and taxed and spent and spent on their socialist schemes. In fact, not satisfied with the amount of money the taxes were bringing in, the socialists went on a borrowing spree, one similar to that which U.S. officials have embarked upon to pay for their socialist and imperialist schemes.

Of course, no one cared about all that rising debt. ֻNo need to worry. We owe it to ourselvesֻ the Greek Keynesian professors undoubtedly instructed their students. Financial data was even falsified in the hopes that people would never discover what was going on.

But finally, the ever-growing spending, debt, and taxes got so inordinately high that the private sector was no longer able to bear the burden of it all. The beloved Greek welfare state cracked. Bankrupt. Busted. Another socialist success story, just like the one in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

How are they resolving the welfare-state crisis in Greece? By taxing the private sector in other EU welfare-state countries in order to provide a government-to-government welfare dole to the Greek government.

But it’s just a matter of time before the same crisis strikes other European welfare states. Who will bail them out? Don’t count on the U.S. government. It’s following the same road as Greece.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cheney’s Response Demands a Special Prosecutor
by Jacob G. Hornberger

I’m no psychiatrist but it’s been said that the subconscious of people who are suffering severe guilt sometimes causes them to make inadvertent admissions of wrongdoing. That might well be why former Vice-President Dick Cheney made a startling statement at the very end of his recent interview on ABC News’ “This Week.”

Here is what Cheney stated:

“The reason I’ve been outspoken is because there were some things being said, especially after we left office … disbarring lawyers in the Justice Department who had — had helped us put those policies together….”

Why is that statement important? Because from the very beginning of the torture scandal that enveloped the Bush administration, Bush, Cheney, and other high U.S. officials have maintained that they were relying on the torture memos issued by the attorneys in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The notion has been: We shouldn’t be held responsible for any criminal violations on torture that occurred at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere because we were in good faith relying on the independent legal opinion of the lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel.

By the same token, defenders of Office of Legal Counsel attorneys John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and others who participated in the issuance of the torture memos have said that such lawyers shouldn’t be held responsible because they were simply issuing legal opinions in good faith based on their particular understanding of the law.

But as Cheney implied in his statement to ABC News, there is the distinct possibility that Yoo and Bybee and other attorneys working with them were not asked to issue an independent legal opinion on torture but instead were asked to knowingly, deliberately, and intentionally participate in a scheme to justify the torture regime that was being implemented.

Basically there are two different types of lawyers:

One type, when asked by a client whether a certain course of conduct would be legal, delivers his best answer even if it’s not the answer the client wants to hear.

The other type of lawyer says to his client: “What do you want the answer to be?” and then issues a legal opinion to justify what the client wants to do. The idea is that if the client is busted, he can say, “I was just relying on my attorney’s advice. Here is his legal opinion that he issued to me in good faith.”

Cheney’s statement to ABC News indicates that Yoo and Bybee and other lawyers who helped prepare the torture memos might well fall within the second category of lawyers. If they were actually helping to put the torture policies together, as Cheney’s statement implies, then that would indicate that their role was not to provide an independent, good-faith legal opinion but rather to provide legal cover for Bush and Cheney and other higher-ups in the event the entire scheme were to blow up, which it did.

If it was one great big scheme, look at the beauty of it: The president and vice president get off the hook because they were purportedly relying on independent legal opinions in making their decisions. The lawyers who issued the legal opinions get off the hook because they were purportedly just providing their best legal judgment, not implementing the policies themselves. Finally, the people who carried out the policies are said to be immune from liability because they were just loyally following the orders of their superiors.

Was all this a concocted scheme to permit laws against torture to be violated and to provide legal cover to those who were doing the violating? Cheney’s startling statement to ABC News screams out for the appointment of a special prosecutor to conduct a criminal investigation into the matter.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Miracle of the Market
by Jacob G. Hornberger

In preparation for the two recent back-to-back blizzards, D.C. residents were emptying the shelves of neighborhood grocery stores. Notwithstanding the pre-blizzard panic buying, what’s interesting is that no one was freaking out about whether the stores would be ade”uately stocked after the blizzards.

After all, think about it: there is absolutely no government planning that goes into what is stocked in grocery stores. No federal Department of Food. No local or state planning commission. No grocery boards. No bureaucrats or bureaucracies. No laws re”uiring grocery stores to be well-stocked. No rules and regulations dictating how much of each food item, including bread, milk, and chicken, needs to appear on the shelves.

So, how in the world do grocery stores get stocked without government planning or direction? How is it that so much food appears, almost by magic, within a day or two after most of the shelves have been emptied? Indeed, how do grocery stores manage to have more than enough food for people throughout the year given that no government department or agency is doing the planning and issuing food directives?

Let’s look at the situation another way. Suppose that in 1900, it was decided that food was just too important an item to be left to the free market. To ensure that there would always be enough food for people, state and local governments took over the grocery-store industry, just as they took over the education industry. To provide support for grocery stores, the U.S. government established the federal Department of Food to provide grants and set standards for the grocery stores, just as the U.S. Department of Education does for state and local public schools.

So, imagine that we’re here in 2010, having lived under more than 100 years of a system of government-run grocery stores. Wouldn’t people be incessantly complaining about the shoddy ”uality of products and services, as they constantly do with the state-run schools?

Along come libertarians and say the same thing about the grocery business that they say about the education business. Get government out of the grocery business, at all levels — local, state, and federal. Abolish the federal Department of Food. Sell off all the grocery stores. Abolish all the taxes needed to run the grocery stores. Separate food and state, just as our ancestors separated church and state. Let the free market reign in the grocery-store industry.

What would today’s statists say? They would say the same things they say when libertarians call for the same solution in education. “Where would the poor get their food? There would only be grocery stores for the rich. How could we count on the free market to make sure that there was the right amount of food for each grocery store? What if some grocery stores went empty while others were plentiful? How could we be sure that each grocery store received the correct ”uantities of each item? You libertarians are dreamers. Do you honestly believe that you could leave something as important as grocery stores to the free market?”

Yet, today no one gives a free market in food a second thought. Every day, people have a wide range of grocery stores from which to choose, each one vying for his business. Practically every day — blizzards being a possible exception — every one of those grocery stores is packed with food, all with a dizzying array of choices.

And it’s all accomplished through the miracle of the market, with no government planning or direction. And no one gets freaked out about the fact that it all happens without government intervention. People just take it for granted.

Now, while we’re on the subject of a free market in the grocery-store industry, can we talk about the same thing in the context of the education industry?

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Debra Medina, Glen Beck and the Northwoods Truthers
by Jacob G. Hornberger

In an obvious ambush of Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, Fox News commentator Glen Beck told Medina in a radio interview that he had received emails from listeners saying that she was a 9/11 truther, that is, a person who believes that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks.

Medina failed to specifically deny the charge, indicated that she didn’t have an opinion on the matter, stated that some good ”uestions had been raised about the issue, and said that the American people had not seen all the evidence. Medina later issued a statement stating that she has never been involved in the 9/11 truth movement and affirming her conviction that the U.S. government was not behind the 9/11 attacks.

After the interview was over, Beck and his on-air cohorts began yucking it up, scratching off any prospects for Medina, who has recently soared from 4 percent in the polls to 24 percent, to win the race. “Wow!” Beck exclaimed, “The fastest way back to four percent. I think I can write her off the list.”

Beck’s mindset was precisely the type of mindset that I described in my September 17, 2009, article “Operation Northwoods and the 9/11 Truthers.” That article addressed the mindset of Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer regarding the 9/11 truthers, a mindset that is clearly the same as Beck’s.

There are several possible reactions to the claims made by the 9/11 truthers:

1. “I have reviewed the evidence and have not been convinced that the government was behind the attacks.”

2. “I have reviewed the evidence and am convinced that the government was behind the attacks.”

3. “I have not reviewed the evidence and, therefore, do not have an opinion on the subject.”

4. “I don’t care what the evidence is because it is inconceivable that the U.S. government would ever commit such a dastardly act, and anyone who doesn’t immediately denounce such a possibility is an unpatriotic whacko who hates America.”

From the interview with Medina it’s obvious which category Beck falls into: Number 4, the same category that Krauthammer falls into.

Alas, however, Beck is guilty of the same critical omission that characterized Krauthammer: Operation Northwoods.

Beck, like Krauthammer, is not a dumb man. He is intelligent and well-read. The possibility that he has never heard of Operation Northwoods is virtually nil. So, why omit it from the discussion? Obviously because the reality of Operation Northwoods just doesn’t fit within a mindset that characterizes people like Beck and Krauthammer. So, it becomes necessary, from a psychological standpoint, to simply pretend that it never happened.

But reality is reality. In 1962 the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously conspired in Operation Northwoods to commit fake terrorist attacks, including airplane hijackings, on American soil, attacks that were even designed to cost the lives of innocent Americans. Once the attacks had taken place, the plan called for U.S. officials to blame them on the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. Americans would be so hyped up and angry that they would support a U.S. invasion of Cuba, which would enable U.S. officials to finally fulfill their dream of effecting regime change in that country. The Pentagon has never apologized or expressed one iota of regret for having recommended its secret plan to the president.

So, given the reality of Operation Northwoods, how can anyone intelligently claim that it is inconceivable that the U.S. government would engage in fake terrorist attacks on the United States? It’s one thing to say that one hasn’t been persuaded by the evidence presented by the 9/11 truthers (a category I happen to fall into), but it’s ”uite another thing to suggest that it is inconceivable that the U.S. government would commit such an dastardly act.

How about it, Beck? Let’s hear you reconcile your mocking attack on Medina with the reality of Operation Northwoods. Or are you in the same camp as Bill Clinton, who once suggested that you can’t love your country while professing a hatred for the wrongdoing of your government?

For more information on this sordid and evil conspiracy, Google “Operation Northwoods” or click here for the Wikipedia entry on it.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shocking Revelations about the Titanic
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Shocking revelations about the sinking of the RMS Titanic have just come to light. U.S. officials have long kept this information secret on grounds of national security.

It turns out that after the Titanic hit the glacier, ship officials calculated that the vessel could still be saved by unloading a large amount of weight from the ship. After casting aside everything they could, they still needed to get rid of some excess weight. They made some ”uick calculations and immediately summoned several Americans into the main cabin. The following is a verbatim transcript of what transpired:

Ship Captain: Ladies and gentlemen, the Titanic is sinking, but calculations made by our engineers show that there is still one way to save the ship and all the passengers. That’s the reason I have summoned you to this meeting. All of you have brought with you large suitcases containing your welfare-state benefits of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and your warfare-state benefits of military contracts. Our officials have made careful calculations and concluded that if you will just throw these suitcases overboard, the ship — and everyone on it — will be saved. Therefore, would you please proceed to your cabins, grab your suitcases, and toss them overboard?

Passenger Smith: Are you crazy? We have a right to our welfare-state benefits. During all of our work lives, the government taxed us to fund the retirement and health-care costs of the old people. And now that we’re the old people, we have a right to do the same thing to young people that the old people did to us when we were young. We’re not about to give up our dole, not even to save your crummy ship.

Passenger Jones: Yeah, and what do you mean asking us to give up our warfare-state benefits? Don’t you know that we have a right to our military dole? You’re asking us to give up all the wars we’re waging all across the planet! What about national security? Why, everyone knows that if we gave up our warfare dole, the entire nation would fall into the hands of the communists, the terrorists, the drug dealers, and the illegal aliens. Figure out some other way to save your leaky vessel.

Passenger Roberts: Hey, you want a solution? I’ve got it. Just round up all those rich people in the first-class cabins and push them over the side. There’s your excess weight.

The Titanic ended up sinking.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Specks and Beams in U.S. Foreign Policy
by Jacob G. Hornberger

John Limbert, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran, is asking the UN to investigate human-rights abuses in Iran by that country’s dictatorial regime. Ever since protests against Iran’s fraudulent presidential elections broke out, the Iranian dictators have been rounding up people, torturing and raping them, and even executing them.

But I wonder if Limbert is going to seek the same type of in”uiry with respect to his own government, which for years has engaged in a spree of kidnapping, torture, rendition, rape, sex abuse, indefinite detention, assassination, and execution.

Yes, I know, Limbert would respond that the people that the U.S. government has done these things to are Terrorists while the victims in Iran are Dissidents. But doesn’t the Iranian government also consider its targets to be Terrorists who are using violence to bring down the government?

Moreover, isn’t it the position of both the U.S. government and the Iranian government that all that is needed to go after a Terrorist is a governmental accusation rather than a trial?

Those who claim that U.S. officials can only exercise their war-on-terror powers against foreigners abroad forget the U.S. government’s claim that in the war on terror, the entire world, including the United States, is the battlefield.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the UN and actually believe that the United States would be better off exiting that corrupt political and bureaucratic body. But I do think it’s important to point out the hypocrisy of people like Limbert, who spend their time pointing a finger at brutal foreign regimes while remaining mute about the three fingers pointing back at them. In fact, that sort of hypocrisy is one of the principal reasons that so many foreigners dislike the U.S. government.

It’s amusing that Limbert also remained mute about the Iranian dictator who was in power prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution that succeeded in installing the extremist Islamic regime into power. That would be the Shah of Iran, who was doing the same things that Limbert wants the UN to investigate the current regime for.

The most likely reason that Limbert remains mute on that subject is threefold:

One, the Shah was installed into power by the CIA, thanks to a coup in 1953 that succeeded in ousting the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, from power. Why did the CIA do that, especially given the commitment to democracy that purportedly characterizes the U.S. government? To restore oil rights to the British Empire, after Mossadegh had nationalized the industry.

Two, Limbert was working in Iran for the U.S. government during the 1979 coup, when he was one of the U.S. officials taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries. Limbert obviously wishes to remain mute on the reasons for that revolution because it would entail explaining why the Iranian people were so angry at not only the Shah but also the United States — that is, because it was the U.S. government that supported the brutality that the Shah inflicted on the Iranian people, the same type of brutality that Limbert now wants the UN to investigate in Iran.

Three, confronting the issue of the 1953 coup and the 1979 revolution it ultimately produced might cause Americans to see that it was the U.S. government’s foreign policy of interventionism that was responsible for the destruction of democracy in Iran and the rise of the extremist Islamic regime that is now one of the principal targets of the U.S. Empire.

So, when the U.S. government does bad things to people, U.S. officials are supposed to remain mute. And when U.S.-supported dictators (e.g., the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet, etc) do bad things to people, it’s also important for them to remain mute. But when a dictatorship that is out of favor with the U.S. Empire does these things, it becomes time to investigate.

As diplomat Limbert is showing us, it’s always easier to pull the speck out of someone else’s eye rather than the beam out of one’s own eye.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Libertarianism is the Light Shining through the Statist Darkness
by Jacob G. Hornberger

For years, liberals and conservatives have played this little game in which they imply that they hold opposing philosophies. Nothing could be further from the truth. There’s not a dime’s worth of difference, philosophically speaking, between a liberal and a conservative.

It would be difficult to find a more perfect example of this phenomenon than the Bush-Obama administrations. Despite repeated attacks by conservatives against Obama, what is always lacking is any showing by conservatives how Obama’s policies are different from those of his predecessor Bush.

In fact, Bush, McCain, Palin, Obama, and Biden could easily have run as interchangeable running mates, given that they all agreed on one important point: what the role of government should be in society.

Sure, there will always be differences in style or particular programs, just as there will be carping about how the president is mismanaging the economy or foreign affairs, but everyone knows that it’s all political posturing with the aim of ousting the incumbent and regaining power. Once that goal is achieved, the game starts over again, with the ousted party carping about how the incumbent is mismanaging the economy and foreign affairs.

Consider the following socialistic, interventionist, and imperialist programs, and ask yourself the following ”uestion: Which programs do Mr. Liberal Barack Obama and Mr. Conservative George W. Bush oppose?

Social Security
Medicare
Medicaid
Food stamps
Welfare
SBA loans
Foreign aid
Government-business partnerships
Economic regulations
Income taxation
Trade restrictions
Immigration controls
Public (i.e., government) schooling
The Federal Reserve
Paper money
Home loan assistance
Corporate bailouts
The drug war
Military invasions and foreign occupations
Foreign military bases
Enhanced interrogation techni”ues (i.e., torture)
Military tribunals
The military industrial complex

My hunch is that your answer is “none.” Sure, there are conservatives who oppose some of those things just as there are liberals who oppose some of them. And most conservatives and liberals call for “reform” and for ending “waste, fraud, and abuse” in government programs. But if you were to do a survey, the overwhelming majority of both liberals and conservatives would oppose a repeal of those programs.

Yet, it is those programs — and the statist philosophy underlying those programs — that are at the root of the problems facing our nation today. That’s where the out-of-control federal spending, ever-mounting debt, and ever-increasing infringements on economic liberty and civil liberties are coming from.

You see, liberals and conservatives believe that it is the primary role of the federal government to be a domestic provider and an international policeman.

What the statists don’t want to acknowledge is an important point, the ones that we libertarians must continue emphasizing and reemphasizing: the ever-deepening woes our nation is facing is due to the statism that both liberals and conservatives have foisted on our nation.

You see, the last thing statists want to do is take personal responsibility for the damage they have wrought to our nation with their statism. They want to blame America’s economic woes on such things as free enterprise, greed, big business, and bankers and America’s foreign-policy woes on hatred for America’s religious and cultural values.

And the reason they want to do this is so that people don’t start focusing on the real cause of America’s woes — the statism of liberals and conservatives. Because if people started focusing on the real cause, then they might well ask themselves an important ”uestion: Why not rid ourselves of the cause of our woes by ending, not reforming, all that liberal and conservative statism?

Take a look at that list of socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs again. To understand how different libertarians are from conservatives and liberals, ask yourself the following ”uestion: How many of those things would libertarians oppose?

Answer: All of them. Sure, it’s possible to find libertarians here and there who favor one or another of these things, but the vast majority of libertarians would oppose all or almost all of them. And the reason for that is because of the philosophy that libertarians believe in: a philosophy of individual liberty, economic freedom, free markets, voluntary charity, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and a limited-government republic.

Statists — conservatives and liberals alike — place their faith in government and force and then refuse to acknowledge and take responsibility for all the bad things that their statist philosophy has produced.

Libertarians, on other hand, place their faith in freedom, themselves, others, and God, which is why their freedom philosophy inevitably produces prosperity, harmony, and morality.

Statism is on the ropes, all over the world. As the statists desperately try to cobble together “reforms” intended to make their statist philosophy work, any fixes they are able to come up with will be temporary only.

Ultimately, people will figure out that there is only one way out of the statist morass — libertarianism. We libertarians are the light shining through the statist darkness.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Socialism and Imperialism Are Taking Us Down
by Jacob G. Hornberger

In a February 6 editorial, the mainstream newspaper the New York Times took note of the dangers of out-of-control federal spending and soaring debt. In 2011 alone, the projected deficit is $1.3 trillion, an amount that even the Times calls “breathtaking.”

But what is even more breathtaking is what Times recommends that federal officials do. You’re not going to believe this and so here’s the link to the editorial so you can verify what I’m saying.

The Times is saying that U.S. officials must spend even more money than they’re already spending, in order to create jobs!

That’s right, on the one hand, the NYT editorial board, which has to consist of some rather smart people, says that “persistently high deficits are harmful to the economy and the country’s long-run security” and, on the other hand, says that the federal government must spend even more money in order to create a “jobs revival.”

That is economic nonsense in its purest form.

Now, consider this article — “Is Greece’s Debt Trashing the Euro?” — that was published by the Times on the same date as the editorial. The point it makes is that Greece’s soaring indebtednesses is threatening to bring down the entire Euro monetary system.

No doubt the NYT editorial board would say, “Greece just needs to spend more money to create jobs.”

In its editorial, the NYT points out that Republican criticism of the deficit and the national debt ring hollow because the Bush administration did the same thing. That’s of course true. But what the Times fails to mention is what Bush did to cause federal spending to soar out of control: He ordered the troops to invade and occupy Ira” and Afghanistan.

Pardon me, but didn’t the NYT support those imperialist escapades that enabled Bush to send federal spending through the roof?

Don’t you just love people who rail against out-of-control federal spending while embracing and supporting the things that the spending is going for?

Consider Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and military spending — the programs that everyone agrees are the root causes of out-of-control federal spending and soaring debt.

The statists always call for reform, reform, reform. The latest brilliant proposal, which the NYT endorses, is a commission to study the problem, one that will inevitably conclude, “The system needs reform.”

Hope springs eternal for the statists. All that’s needed is more spending, higher taxes, and “reform,” and socialist-imperialist paradise will finally have arrived.

That’s just siren-song nonsense. What’s actually needed is a repeal of all socialist programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and all the rest, along with all the taxes that fund them.

Yes, you read that right — repeal, not reform — and immediate.

No, there will not be people dying in the streets. Instead there will be the greatest outburst of economic prosperity and vitality that people have ever witnessed, along with the greatest outpouring of voluntary charity. It just re”uires self-esteem, self-confidence, self-reliance, and an unswerving belief in one’s self, others, freedom, and God.

Moreover, it entails an immediate withdrawal from Ira” and Afghanistan, where U.S. troops continue to kill, maim, torture, incarcerate, kidnap, and destroy every day. Yes, you read that right — withdraw immediately. And not only from there, but also from Korea, Europe, Japan (where the Japanese people are demanding an end to the U.S. occupation of their country), Africa, Latin America, and everywhere else. Why, it’s even time to start closing military bases here in the United States. The Cold War ended long ago, and all the U.S. Empire has done since then is stir up trouble to keep the warfare largess flowing to the military-industrial complex.

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s end the drug war too, immediately. What possible justification for spending money on this 35-year old failed, immoral, and destructive program could there be, except that it provides revenue (including bribes and asset forfeiture) for public officials and drug lords?

Only by restoring a genuinely free-market, limited-government republic to our land can we hope to restore morality, freedom, harmony, and prosperity to our land.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Americans Are Paying for Socialism and Imperialism
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Both liberals and conservatives have long lamented that Americans have not been bearing their fair share of the costs of the U.S. Empire’s longstanding imperialist escapades in Ira” and Afghanistan.

That’s ridiculous.

Consider the ever-increasing debt that is being added to each person’s balance sheet. Each American currently owes $40,000, which is his individual share of the debt that the U.S. government owes its creditors. Like it or not, the federal government, through the IRS, wields the authority to collect that money from you and everyone else.

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to allow the feds to go $1.7 trillion deeper in debt. According to an article in the Washington Post, that amounts to an increase of $6,000 per person. That will increase the amount you owe to $46,000. If you have a family of four, your share of the government’s debt will be $184,000.

Suppose the IRS decided to collect that money from you. How easily could you pay them?

Of course, that’s not likely, as public officials are fully aware of the anger and rage they would be confronting if they used the IRS to collect that money. Incurring debt is one thing but having the IRS forcibly collect the money from the taxpayers to pay it off is another.

Nonetheless, creditors who loaned the federal government the money to pay for its welfare-warfare state expenditures, such as the Chinese government, ultimately want to be paid back. And the only way they can be paid back is by the U.S. government’s forcibly taking money from the U.S. citizenry and using it to pay back the Chinese government and other creditors.

So, when the rubber hits the road and the feds need to start paying off their creditors, how are they going to get the money? Some will be in higher taxes, but my hunch is not a lot. Historically, one of the things that profligate officials fear most is a tax revolt. Instead, they’ll simply print up the necessary money and use it to pay off the creditors.

That will, of course, cause prices of most everything in the United States to soar. It’s a convenient way to tax people without letting them know they’re being taxed. If prices soar, say, 25 percent while real incomes remain the same, then people will have effectively been taxed 25 percent.

The beauty of the scheme, of course, is that Joe and Mary Sixpack will have no idea of what’s going on. They’ll think that the problem is with greed, avarice, business owners, bankers, and speculators. They won’t have any idea that it’s the government’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, that is taxing them through monetary debasement.

As an aside, that’s one of the beauties of public schooling and state-supported colleges and universities. People go through these institutions being taught that inflation is a mysterious and fearful disease that strikes nations at random, like the flu. The last thing Joe and Mary will suspect is that soaring prices constitute government’s way of forcing people to provide the money to pay off its debts and financing its ever-growing expenditures.

This is where socialism and imperialism have led our country — down a road to moral debauchery, dependency on the state, damage to individual self-reliance and personal independence, foreign anger and hatred for our nation, ever increasing attacks on our freedom and privacy, soaring expenditures and debts, and the threat of national bankruptcy.

That sure seems to me that Americans are bearing a fair share of the costs of Ira” and Afghanistan, along with other parts of America’s welfare-warfare state. My hunch is that as time goes on, an increasing number of Americans will wish that they had listened to us libertarians a long time ago.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Socialism, the Great E”ualizer
by Jacob G. Hornberger

If you’d like a good picture of where American socialists are leading our country, consider the situation in North Korea, which is the world’s best model of a socialist society. In North Korea, everyone is e”ual because everyone is e”ually poor. The government is the sole owner of the means and results of production, which means it is the sole employer in society. Everyone works for the government. It totally controls the economy. It is the central planner of all economic activity. It has a central bank and government-provided paper money.

North Korea is an economic disaster, and that’s not a coincidence. That’s what socialism produces — e”uality in poverty, despair, and starvation, not to mention brutal enforcement of economic rules, dictates, and regulations.

If you think the United States has economic problems, they’re nothing in comparison to the situation in North Korea. A New York Times article today describes the situation as dire. Food supplies are meager and the prices of what food is available are soaring, in large part because of the government’s debasement of the currency. Making matters even worse, the North Korean regime is now engaging in “sweeping attempts to revive socialist central economic planning and crack down on private markets” including “punishing private traders who smuggled goods from China.” You know — those evil, greedy, profit-seeking, bourgeois, private-sector, speculator swine that socialists everywhere hate so much.

No doubt American socialists will love the ingenious way the authorities decided to steal from “the rich” in order to better maintain total economic e”uality among the people. The government recently issued new paper currency and told people to bring in their old paper money to exchange for the new paper money. But — and here’s the kicker — each citizen was permitted to exchange only a limited amount of old notes, making any excess savings in old notes worthless. How’s that for a brilliant way to plunder and loot people and e”ualize their economic condition?

There is one positive part of this story: the New York Times actually seems to understand that North Korea’s economic distress is a direct conse”uence of its socialist policies. The bad news is that all too many Americans continue to blame greed, deregulation, and the free market for America’s economic woes rather than the U.S. government’s socialistic policies, including its out of control spending for domestic welfare-state programs and the monetary shenanigans of its central bank, the Federal Reserve.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

China’s “Muscular” Failure to Submit to the U.S. Empire
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Consider this opening paragraph from a New York Times article regarding the U.S. government’s arms sales to Taiwan:

“For the past year, China has adopted an increasingly muscular position toward the United States, berating American officials for the global economic crisis, stage-managing President Obama’s visit to China in November, refusing to back a tougher climate change agreement in Copenhagen and standing fast against American demands for tough new Security Council sanctions against Iran.”

The Times’ reporter obviously forgot to also mention China’s refusal to send troops to Ira” and Afghanistan to help the U.S. Empire with its occupations of those two countries.

You see, in the eyes of the U.S. Empire and mainstream reporters, it is considered “muscular” — as in flexing one’s muscles — as in getting too uppity or big for one’s britches — to fail to go along with official U.S. imperial policy.

Never mind that Chinese officials might think that imposing sanctions on Iran might be immoral, especially when sanctions are causing plane crashes that are killing crews and passengers. Never mind that they might find sanctions to be counter-productive. They’re not supposed to express such independent thoughts. When the world’s sole remaining empire wishes to implement a policy against another country, China and everyone else is expected to fall into line. Refusal to do so is muscular.

What if China doesn’t favor a tougher climate-change agreement? That’s irrelevant. All that matters is what the Empire wants. China is expected to go along. Failure to do so indicates that China is getting too independent, too aggressive, too muscular.

Don’t U.S. officials stage-manage visits by foreign rulers to the United States, especially those who refuse to bow to the U.S. Empire? Why is it considered normal when U.S. officials to do that but “muscular” when China does it?

And what’s wrong with berating U.S. officials for causing the global economic crisis? They did cause it, especially with their Federal Reserve’s easy-money policy and Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s reckless mortgage policies. What’s wrong with speaking the truth? Oh, that’s a super no-no in the mind of imperial officials and mainstream reporters. It may be true but China is not supposed to openly say it. China is expected to simply comment on how beautiful the U.S. president’s birthday suit is.

It’s no different with other independent-minded rulers, such as Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, or Kim Jong Il. Imperial officials and mainstream journalists will declare with much indignation that the reason they oppose such rulers is that they’re communists, terrorists, evil people, or whatever. But that’s not really what’s going on here. The reason that such rulers are resented by imperial officials and mainstream journalists is that they’re too “muscular” — that is, too independent of the Empire.

After all, don’t forget that the Empire has absolutely no reservations about partnering with brutal dictators, especially unelected ones. When that happens, mainstream reporters don’t even think twice about it. It’s just considered normal. It doesn’t even matter how badly the foreign ruler mistreats his own citizenry. All that matters is that the foreign ruler do the Empire’s bidding in international affairs.

Consider: the Shah of Iran. Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf, and the rulers of Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, to mention just a few. They’re all brutal, authoritarian dictators or regimes that the U.S. government has partnered with or supported. Why? Because the rulers cooperate with the Empire, oftentimes in return for U.S. taxpayer money being funneled into their coffers.

This is what distinguishes the U.S. Empire from, say, the Roman Empire. The U.S. Empire doesn’t send U.S. officials to rule over its overseas domains. Instead it finds a local official to assume the reins of power, but only one who is pledged to fully cooperate with the Empire in international affairs. No getting too “muscular.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is selling some new weaponry to Taiwan. Of course, that’s not considered “muscular” or aggressive. According to the New York Times article, that’s considered to be “pushing back” against China’s “muscular” attitude of refusing to bow to U.S. imperial wishes.

We shouldn’t forget that it was China that loaned the Empire the money to invade and occupy Ira” and Afghanistan. Wait until China gets perturbed and decides to suddenly dump its massive amount of U.S. debt securities onto the market. No doubt U.S. imperialists and mainstream reporters will consider that to be “muscular” as well.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why Didn’t the Nanny State Protect Us from Toyota?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Would someone please explain to me how it’s possible that millions of Toyota vehicles have that accelerator problem? I thought the federal government was supposed to keep us safe from these sorts of things. Consider, for example, this page, which contains the “Federal Motor Vehicle Standards and Regulations” issued by the Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, Safety Assurance section, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation.. It states: “These re”uirements are specified in such a manner ‘that the public is protected against unreasonable risk of crashes occurring as a result of the design, construction, or performance of motor vehicles and is also protected against unreasonable risk of death or injury in the event crashes do occur.’”

Indeed, what about those much-vaunted car “safety inspections,” where people have to wait in line for an hour or two to get their cars inspected and, of course, hand over some moolah to the state for the privilege of having a pretty decal on their windshield? Since they’re supposed to ensure that our cars are safe (hey, they are called “safety” inspection stickers, right?), then how is it possible that people have been driving millions of cars that are obviously unsafe?

Do you see the problem?

It’s actually the same problem with respect to the hundreds of millions of dollars lost by investors in the Bernie Madoff scandal. How is it possible that such a scandal occurred? Wasn’t everyone in Madoff’s line of work subject to federal regulations ensuring that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen?

Or how about the recent bouts of salmonella poisoning from hamburger meat? How is this possible? Isn’t the meat industry close regulated by federal officials? Doesn’t the “food” in Food and Drug Administration include beef? Isn’t the purpose of such regulations to ensure that the public is not subjected to these sorts of things?

As we libertarians have been pointing out for decades, the paternalistic state is nothing more than a big fraud and sham, one designed to convince people to fund a gigantic, bureaucratic, parasitic state that will keep them safe from the vicissitudes of life. Yet, as people once again learn, all those beloved regulations and regulators don’t keep people safe at all. Bad things continue to happen in life, as they always will. The nanny society can’t stop that.

Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t just involve parasitic bureaucrats sucking hard-earned money out of people’s pockets under the pretense that they’re keeping them safe. It’s much worse than that. The nanny state lulls lots of people into a peaceful state of innocent bliss in which they think they’re being kept safe from the hazards of ordinary life. Thus, people become less cautious and more gullible, and thus, are less safe than they otherwise would be.

What’s the libertarian solution? A complete separation of the economy and the state, one in which the government has no more power to regulate economic activity than it does to regulate religious activity.

Would there still be safety defects, stock-market frauds, and other such bad things? Sure, just as there are today. But the difference would be that people would tend toward developing a keener sense of self-responsibility and caution in their lives, knowing that the nanny state wasn’t purporting to take care of them.

Moreover, the free market (free, as in free of all government control) provides its own self-correcting mechanism that tends toward keeping people safe. Consider Toyota. It’s moving ”uickly toward finding a solution to the accelerator problem not because some federal bureaucrat is ordering it to. It’s doing so because of the threat of lawsuits and falling consumer demand for Toyota vehicles. In the free market, the consumer is the ultimate sovereign. If consumers stop buying Toyota vehicles, Toyota goes out of business, no matter how big and wealthy it is today.

The nanny state, like the socialistic welfare state, has proven to be a disaster and a fiasco and an expensive one at that. It’s time that Americans restored a genuine free-market society to our land by separating the economy and the state.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Will Obama Try to Pack the Court Too?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

President Obama’s tiff with the Supreme Court over the Court’s ruling in the corporate-spending case brings to mind what President Franklin Roosevelt, one of Obama’s icons, did when the Supreme Court began declaring some of his socialist and fascist schemes unconstitutional. Roosevelt came up with a plan that would enable him to pack the Court with additional justices, legal cronies of FDR who he could count on to vote to uphold his alien schemes.

After Roosevelt assumed office in 1932, he embarked on what is undoubtedly the most revolutionary transformation of American life in U.S. history. For more than 100 years, the central notion of the American republic — that which had distinguished America from most of the rest of the world — was its free-enterprise system. It was an economic philosophy that held that people had the fundament, natural, God-given rights to engage in economic enterprise and enter into mutually beneficial economic arrangements with others, all free of government control, accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth, and do whatever they wanted with their own money.

Along came Roosevelt, who used the Great Depression as a means to adopt the socialist and fascist systems that were proving so popular in Europe, especially Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union. This included adoption of socialist transfer programs, such as Social Security, by which the state took money from one person and simply transferred it to someone else. It also included government control over economic activity, exemplified by FDR’s National Industrial Recovery Act, which cartelized American industry, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which placed the stock market under federal control.

Roosevelt sold this new-fangled system to the American people by employing two means of deceit. First, he argued that the Great Depression reflected the failure of America’s free-enterprise system, when in fact the Great Depression actually reflected the failure of America’s Federal Reserve System, a governmental system of monetary control adopted in 1913 that violated the principles of free enterprise. Second, he argued that his schemes were designed to save America’s free-enterprise system when in actuality they abandoned it.

Of course, whether America should adopt a free-market system, a socialist system, or a fascist system was a political decision. But whether a socialist or a fascist system could pass constitutional muster was a legal issue, one that the Supreme Court had to address when pertinent cases reached the Court.

Much to the chagrin of Roosevelt, the Court began declaring some of his alien schemes in violation of the Constitution. Like Obama today, Roosevelt went on the rampage against the Court for daring to stand in his way by declaring his programs illegal under our form of government.

Given Roosevelt’s dictatorial proclivities, he didn’t stop at simply criticizing the Court. He came up with a plan to alter the make-up of the court, the most important of which was his proposal to expand the number of justices serving on the Court. FDR proposed appointing a new justice for every sitting justice who was over 70 years old. He had carefully calculated that this would enable him to appoint a sufficient number of new justices who would provide him with the number he needed.

FDR tried to deceive Congress and the American people by claiming that the sole purpose for his plan was to assist an over-worked Supreme Court. Much to his displeasure, the Chief Justice of the United States responded by showing that there was no backlog of cases in the Court.

To the everlasting credit of the American people, there was a tremendous national outcry against Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme. Despite the economic distress that people were suffering during the Great Depression, they did not like FDR’s tampering with our nation’s constitutional system, especially when the tampering was intended to give the president more power to run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution.

FDR’s court-packing scheme went down to defeat. But Roosevelt ended up winning the war anyway. With Justice Owen Roberts’ “switch in time that saved nine” and retirements from the bench, FDR was able to secure a majority on the court that would vote to sustain any violation of economic liberty he proposed.

Will Obama follow in the footsteps of his icon and come up with his own plan to pack the Court? Anything is possible. Let’s just hope that if he does, the reaction of the American people will be the same as it was in 1937.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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.