More Timely Than Ever!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Gaffe = Inadvertent Truth-Telling

Columnist Michael Kinsley once said that in politics a gaffe is an unintended statement of the truth that has to be withdrawn because it's harmful to the speaker's political fortunes. 

Latest example: Chris Christie's "misstatement" about "occupied territories" in Palestine. Christie was speaking before Israel-Firster Sheldon Adelson and the meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas: 
[A] source told POLITICO that Christie “clarified in the strongest terms possible that his remarks today were not meant to be a statement of policy.”
Instead, the source said, Christie made clear “that he misspoke when he referred to the ‘occupied territories.’ And he conveyed that he is an unwavering friend and committed supporter of Israel, and was sorry for any confusion that came across as a result of the misstatement.”
Christie might be able to salvage his presidential ambitions from the wreckage of the George Washington Bridge scandal, but he'd never survive a public acknowledgement of an undeniable truth: Israel's illegal and unconscionable occupation Palestine

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

George Kennan on NATO Expansion

As told to Thomas Friedman, May 2, 1998:

"I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,'' said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ''I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.''

''What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was,'' added Mr. Kennan, who was present at the creation of NATO and whose anonymous 1947 article in the journal Foreign Affairs, signed ''X,'' defined America's cold-war containment policy for 40 years. ''I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don't people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

''And Russia's democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we've just signed up to defend from Russia,'' said Mr. Kennan, who joined the State Department in 1926 and was U.S. Ambassador to Moscow in 1952. ''It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are -- but this is just wrong.''

TGIF: Obama's Iraqi Fairy Tale

One need not condone Vladimir Putin’s ham-handedness to see that Obama has no leg to stand on when he contrasts Russia’s essentially bloodless and provoked annexation of Crimea with America’s unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq. Unfortunately, the Americans who committed this cold-blooded mass murder and societal destruction are less likely to face justice than Putin is for his crimes in, say,Chechnya.
Read the full TGIF.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How Much for that Freedom in the Window?

Okay, freedom -- more precisely, the maintenance thereof -- isn't free. But must we pay a monopoly price?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Op-ed: The Iranian Threat that Never Was

If you take politicians and the mainstream media seriously, you believe that Iran wants a nuclear weapon and has relentlessly engaged in covert efforts to build one. Even if you are aware that Iran signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections, you may believe that those who run the Islamic Republic have cleverly found ways to construct a nuclear-weapons industry almost undetected. Therefore, you may conclude, Democratic and Republican administrations have been justified in pressuring Iran to come clean and give up its “nuclear program.”
But you would be wrong.
Read it here.

An Obamaian Moment of Candor

"I think if the premise of the question is that whenever the United States objects to an action and other countries don’t immediately do exactly what we want, that that’s been the norm, that would pretty much erase most of 20th century history." --President Obama, news conference, 3/25/14

Friday, March 21, 2014

Well, Mr. Obama?

Vladimir Putin acknowledges that Russia has been an empire Why can't Barack Obama do the same for America?

TGIF: The American Disease

If the purpose of U.S. intervention in the affairs of other countries is really to help suffering people, the program has a fatal flaw. (This should surprise no one familiar with other government programs.) The flaw is that the U.S. government does opposition movements no favors when it gives credibility to the charge that those movements are tools of foreign — particularly American — interests. I call this taint the American disease.

Read it here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Yeah, I'm Nervous

How distressing is it that the question of war-or-peace is in the hands of the clowns we call politicians and "leaders"?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Peculiar Theory

There's a peculiar theory floating around which says that libertarians can have nothing to say, as libertarians, about how people exercise their rights.

My Latest with Scott Horton

Here's my latest from The Scott Horton Show, in which Scott and I discussed Ukraine and the roots of American empire.

How'd That Work Out?

The early American radicals insisted on decentralization of power, which required a weak national government and sovereign states. The early American conservative aristocrats said what they had in mind was even better: a strong national government, stretched over a vast territory, with three branches, which would check and balance one another, and weak states.

How'd that work out?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Liberty Against the Warfare State

I had the pleasure of speaking with Kyle Platt of Liberty.Me at the recent International Students for Liberty Conference in
D.C. He's the result:


Friday, March 14, 2014

TGIF: Empire on Their Minds

The conflict in Ukraine has prompted several level-headed commentators to point out that, of all governments, the U.S. government is in no position to lecture Russia about respecting other nations’ borders.
Read it here.

Jeff Tucker's "Against Libertarian Brutalism"

Jeffrey Tucker has written an exciting and extremely important article: "Against Libertarian Brutalism." Please read it.

My summation:
The radical liberal project was about human flourishing through individual freedom and social cooperation. The right to be a nonviolent ogre was merely a logical, uninteresting implication.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gopnik on Empire

"The worst pretense of empire is that every rattle on the edges is a death knell to the center." --Adam Gopnik

Op-ed: How Americans Can Help Ukrainians

There is a way to help that does not expand Washington's power. Read about it here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Well Put

"Every age has some ostentatious system to excuse the havoc it commits." --Henry Walpole, 1762

Friday, March 07, 2014

TGIF: Work!

Among those who have commented on the nature of work, I prefer Maynard G. Krebs to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the economists to the moralists.

Read about it here.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

John Bright on the Crimean War

This is war—every crime which human nature can commit or imagine, every horror it can perpetrate or suffer; and this it is which our Christian Government recklessly plunges into, and which so many of our countrymen at this moment think it patriotic to applaud! You must excuse me if I cannot go with you. I will have no part in this terrible crime. My hands shall be unstained with the blood which is being shed. The necessity of maintaining themselves in office may influence an administration; delusions may mislead a people;Vattel may afford you a law and a defence; but no respect for men who form a Government, no regard I have for 'going with the stream,' and no fear of being deemed wanting in patriotism, shall influence me in favour of a policy which, in my conscience, I believe to be as criminal before God as it is destructive of the true interest of my country. --John Bright, M.P., on the Crimean War, 1854

The Revolutioners

The Revolutioners, whose lead guitarist is my son, Ben Richman, will release its album, Crooks, on March 15. Some songs are listenable on YouTube: "Lumen," "Five," "Pop Rocks," "Apollo," "All the Same," "Glitter King vs. the Rock N' Roller," "Skinny Little Bones," "Feelin So Good," and my favorite, "Like a Knife."