Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WikiLeaks: Bradley Manning Is No Criminal

My take on WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, and the cost of Empire is in today's Christian Science Monitor.

Op-ed: Afghanistan Digging In

President Obama once said withdrawal from Afghanistan would begin in July 2011 — maybe, conditions permitting. But then he backed off that date. Now NATO, echoing American officials, says security won’t be fully turned over to the Afghan government any earlier than the end of 2014 — again, maybe; the alliance has signed a long-term security agreement with the Afghan president. Allied troops thus will remain in Afghanistan — as occupiers always say — in a supporting role beyond 2014 and even 2015. Calling the December 31, 2014, an “aspirational goal,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said, “It does not mean that all U.S. or coalition forces would necessarily be gone by that date.”
The full op-ed is here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chalmers Johnson (1931-2010)

I do intend to post a tribute to Chalmers Johnson, one of the most thoughtful critics of the American Empire, who died last weekend. All I'll say here is that his 2000 book, Blowback, is amazingly prophetic in its warning that the price of empire would be a major attack on American civilians by aggrieved people seeking revenge, as well as the economic problems and limitations on Americans' freedom set in motion by the U.S. government's response. The other two volumes of his Blowback Trilogy delve into the history and nature of America's brutal interventions abroad, along with the historical parallels of Rome and Great Britain. Johnson was a learned man who understood that imperialism threatens both its foreign target populations and the home population. Every advocate of individual liberty will want to be familiar with his rich body of work.

Listen to Scott Horton's Antiwar Radio interview with Tom Engelhardt here. Engelhardt was Johnson's friend and editor for many years. Horton interviewed Johnson several times. Search on his name here for the MP3s. Here is Engelhardt's brief Antiwar.com blogpost about Johnson's passing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

TGIF: The Many Impositions of Government

Not that I’m keeping score, but just in the last few weeks the news has overflowed with examples of how much we are at the mercy of government edict. The three stories I’m thinking of, quite unrelated on the surface, are: the spreading but so far futile protests against airport body scans and frisking verging on sexual assault, the Federal Reserve’s announced second “quantitative easing” (QE2), and the FDA’s order that makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages remove the caffeine or take their products off the market.
The rest of TGIF: "The Many Impositions of Government" is here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bush: More Lies

The incomparable Bruce Fein on George W. Bush's memoir:
Former President Bush’s selective memoir is a little like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. With the exception of authorizing waterboarding, a form of torture, Bush neglects his serial vandalizing of the Constitution and the federal criminal code: five years of illegal surveillances of Americans on American soil; a war against Iraq without proper authorization by Congress; illegal detentions of enemy combatants without accusation or trials; hundred of unconstitutional signing statements professing an intent to refuse to faithfully execute the laws; unconstitutional defiance of congressional subpoenas; and, employing unilateral executive agreements to circumvent the treaty authority of the Senate over military commitments.”

Despite his constitutional literacy, President Obama has balked at faithful execution of the laws against torture, warrantless spying on Americans, or obstruction of justice perpetrated by Bush and his servile minions. On that score, Obama resembles President Nixon, who was impeached by the House Judiciary Committee and forced to resign for sneering at his constitutional obligation to enforce, not ignore the laws.

If Obama believes exculpatory circumstances justify non-prosecution of Bush-Cheney,” Fein continued, “then he should pardon them as authorized by the Constitution. A pardon must be accepted by the recipient to be effective, and acknowledges guilt and the inviolability of the rule of law. Ignoring lawlessness at the highest levels like Obama wounds the rule of law, and creates a precedent that lies around like a loaded weapon ready to destroy the Constitution. Obama himself is thus violating his oath of office by nonfeasance.
From "Bush at Large," by Ralph Nader.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blast from the Past

In earlier, stupider, days I thought he was a bad guy.

Scan or Frisk?

Let's stop the imperial provocation that makes us targets of vengeful "terrorists" (who might have lost family in the last drone attack) and turn security over to competitive airlines that have incentives to find more customer-friendly ways to protect their valuable businesses.

It's time to say, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

Monday, November 15, 2010

Op-Ed: Blood on His Hands

One need not have been a fan of Saddam to see that the invasion/occupation has been a catastrophe for the Iraqi people. Large numbers of them are not better off because of Bush’s illegal actions — millions are either dead, victims of torture, or refugees...

Are we to believe “the decider” — the man who boasts of approving torture for American prisoners — was unaware of that U.S./Iran-supported bloodletting?
The full op-ed is here.

Well Said!

When people have to obey other people's orders, equality is out of the question.
--Dick Deadeye (W.S. Gilbert), "H.M.S. Pinafore"

Friday, November 12, 2010

TGIF: Help for the Downtrodden Corporate Exporter

The Ex-Im Bank grows out of the mercantilist belief that the wealth of nations is determined by a “favorable balance of trade.” Therefore the level of exports is crucial and government promotion is paramount. All balderdash, of course. In reality mercantilism functioned as a cover for polices that catered to special business interests at others’ expense. It’s time we got rid of the bank.
The full TGIF: "Help for the Downtrodden Corporate Exporter" is here.

Op-ed: Republican Phonies

It’s time for some honesty from the Republicans. Either give up the empire and the conceit of “American exceptionalism” or give up the rhetoric of fiscal responsibility. Stop playing the American people for fools.
Read the full op-ed here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reason TV and Me

When I was at Libertopia last month, Reason TV caught up with me. Here's the result.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Charge Him

George W. Bush writes in his new memoir that he authorized the water-boarding of war-on-terror prisoners. Water-boarding is a crime under US and international law. When will he be charged with war crimes? And let's not forget his accomplices. Barack Obama will be one if he doesn't tell his attorney general to get moving.
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Jonah Goldberg and Julian Assange

Jonah Goldberg, who claims to be against fascism (at least when it originates on the left), wants to know why Julian Assange of WikiLeaks "isn't dead." In case you missed it, he asks again, "Why wasn't Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?"

Why would he expect (and apparently approve of) Assange's assassination? Because Assange has the nerve to provide the public information about the U.S. government's illegal wars -- information the government doesn't see fit to share with the American people or the world. So Goldberg reveals himself (if he had not done so earlier) as a State worshiper, with war as the State's most glorious activity.

Which prompts me to ask: Why would anyone be interested in anything Goldberg has to say from here on out?

The Robber Barons

I'm finally reading Matthew Josephson's The Robber Barons, a book I never felt I needed to read. That was a bad decision. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but I can tell this is a book worth reading because it will shed some needed light on the alleged golden era of laissez faire, roughly 1865-1890. Here's yet another case where libertarian revisionist history needs to be revised. So far it confirms a suspicion that has grown on me only recently (I must confess): Much of what went on in that era appears to have been the fruit of the poisonous tree, namely, Civil War contracting and currency speculation. Civil War is the health of the State and privileged partners in the business world. This was capitalism as it played out historically -- but it was not the free market.

By the way, the 1962 reprint I found has a blurb on the back by none other than Henry Hazlitt, who reviewed the book in the New York Times Book Review. Hazlitt wrote that Josephson "is particularly to be congratulated upon the lucidity with which he sets forth the complex financial transactions and the uncanny legerdemain by which most of the barons built up their fortunes." Did Hazlitt know something Ayn Rand did not?

More to come as I make my way through the book.

Friday, November 05, 2010

TGIF: Budget Mice

Getting started on the task of dramatically shrinking government’s spending — that is, control of resources — will require much bigger thinking. Entitlements and “security” (which is far more likely to create insecurity) must be on the chopping block.

If not they are not on the block, then the opposition is just performing a vacuous pantomime aimed at only one thing: procuring political power.
The of TGIF: "Budget Mice" is here.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Don't Hold Your Breath for the Spending Cuts

Republicans last night made it clear that there will be no spending cuts to write home about. Various GOP members of Congress said they would like an across-the-board cut in "discretionary spending." This is spending that is explicitly authorized each year, as opposed to so-called mandatory (entitlement) spending that is on automatic pilot and whose level depends on how many people become eligible for Social Security, Medicare, and food stamps.

Discretionary spending constitutes just one-third of the federal budget, so the Republican sights are fixed on only that much spending ... except that the party vows not to touch military and "homeland security" spending.

With so much spending off limits, the potential for cuts is not great.

Therefore I ask: Except for those expecting new patronage and consulting jobs, why is anyone excited about last night's election results?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


The opiate of the people. Cast your vote, feel good, then zone out till the next one. The politicians will look out for you while you're sleeping it off.
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The foreign occupations and threats to civil liberties played no role in the elections. That's a disgrace.
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