Sheldon Richman's TGIF

TGIF: Airbrushing Barbarity

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“As the base rhetorician uses language to increase his own power, to produce converts to his own cause, and to create loyal followers of his own person – so the noble rhetorician uses language to wean men away from their inclination to depend on authority, to encourage them to think and speak clearly, and to teach them to be ... [click for more]

TGIF: Is Edward Snowden a Lawbreaker?

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Most people believe that Edward Snowden, who has confirmed that the U.S. government spies on us, broke the law. Even many of his defenders concede this. While in one sense the statement “Snowden broke the law” may be trivially true, in another, deeper sense it is untrue. He may  have violated the terms of legislation passed by Congress and signed ... [click for more]

TGIF: National Servitude

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To make citizens, we must facilitate the shared experiences that cultivate civic pride and responsibility. This should mean a period of full-time national service as a rite of passage for every young American, ages 18 to 28. Such service could be military or civilian. Young adults could choose the Army or Peace Corps, Marine Corps or AmeriCorps, the Navy or ... [click for more]

TGIF: It’s Not Edward Snowden Who Betrayed Us

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When you cut through the fog, the NSA controversy is about whether we should trust people with institutional power. Edward Snowden’s courageous exposure of massive secret surveillance separates those who say yes from those who say, “Hell no!” The trusting attitude can be found among progressives and conservatives alike (with notable exceptions), and even some who have identified themselves ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Lie Factory

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In his latest major address on foreign policy, President Obama said this: So after I took office … we pursued a new strategy in Afghanistan, and increased our training of Afghan forces.… In Afghanistan, we will complete our transition to Afghan responsibility for that country’s security. Our troops will come home. Our combat mission will come to an end. ... [click for more]

TGIF: So What If Freedom Isn’t Free?

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“Freedom isn’t free.” We’ve all heard this glib line. It usually is uttered as an admonition to those who criticize some government imposition that is defended in the name of national security. The last time I heard it I had just condemned military conscription — the draft — as slavery. It’s also brought out to rebut those who refuse to ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Greatness of Peace Activist John Bright

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As we approach Memorial Day — or what I like to call Revisionist History Day — it’s fitting to contemplate the words of one of the world’s great peace activists, John Bright (1811–1889). Bright, a Quaker and Nonconformist, is best known for leading (with Richard Cobden) Britain’s Anti-Corn Law League, the organization that fought successfully to abolish ... [click for more]

TGIF: Government Is the Problem

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Barack Obama recently told the graduating class of the Ohio State University, Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems.… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that ... [click for more]

TGIF: No Intervention in Syria

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If after the debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya (dare I say Vietnam?) some people still want the U.S. government to intervene — further — in the war inside Syria (but fueled by outsiders), we must conclude, not that they can’t learn the lessons of recent history, but that they won’t because doing so would be contrary ... [click for more]

TGIF: Criminal Government

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“A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that ‘it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture’ and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.” So began a page-one story in the New York Times that should have ... [click for more]

TGIF: Liberty, Security, and Terrorism

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“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It would be nice if Benjamin Franklin’s famous aphorism were as widely believed as it is quoted. I doubt that Sen. Lindsey Graham and his ilk would express disagreement, but one cannot really embrace Franklin’s wisdom while also claiming that ... [click for more]

TGIF: Government Should Stop Its Own Violence First

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The horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon have left us all stunned. We still don’t know the perpetrators’ motive, but there are some things we do know. The bombers chose the most closely monitored location in all of Boston. They could have chosen a different site, knowing that all eyes were on the marathon route. But no. They chose the ... [click for more]
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