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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Clinton, McCain, Obama: Interventionists All


While McCain, Obama, and Clinton attend services of their choice on Sunday, all worship at the shrine of intervention-that-spurs jihad the rest of the week. Just in the past month, all three have pushed an interventionist agenda in Pakistan and Kosovo, and, notwithstanding claims by Obama and Clinton, to a great extent in Iraq. At day's end, each is ready to intervene abroad to champion abstractions such as democracy rather than U.S. interests; each is ready to spend the lives of soldiers and Marines to do so; and each advances the Islamist cause by failing to see that Muslim hatred is motivated by U.S. interventionism more than any other factor.
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[T]he debate over which candidate is experienced enough to be commander in chief is farcical; each candidate is an interventionist and will simply abide by the dogma kept in place by America's political class for 30-plus years. After all, it takes no experience whatsoever to follow a script whose pages are now discolored by both age and the blood of America's soldiers and Marines.

And on Inauguration Day, 2013, Americans will find our ruling interventionists – Republican or Democrat – have U.S. forces fighting in Iraq; have more forces fighting in Afghanistan; have committed forces in places like the Balkans and Darfur; and have motivated millions more Muslims to join the jihad by their policies' impact. For bin Laden and the Islamists, McCain, Obama, or Clinton equals precisely the same thing – game, set, and, perhaps, match.

--from "Clueless Candidates Make Osama's Day" by Michael Scheuer at http://www.antiwar.com/scheuer/?articleid=12424.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Vicious Cycle


[The U. S.] is totally impregnable to invasion and occupation. Therefore the only way the American military can obtain large and growing tax revenues is through: maintaining some 700 military bases round the world; fighting foreign wars; invading and occupying small, poor countries. They have done this for some 60 years now. American taxpayers have handed over trillions of dollars in taxes so "their" military can embark upon all sorts of military adventures overseas.

And why must this military maintain and enlarge those 700 bases, and build more? Fight, invade, occupy small, poor territories? – How else to obtain trillions of dollars in tax revenues? Thus the whole process feeds on itself – it can continue indefinitely – there is no built-in check of any sort…. And so McCain can confidently promise more wars, more suffering for an indefinite time to come…

--from "The US Military: An Uncontrollable Juggernaut?" by Sudha R. Shenoy at http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig6/shenoy4.html.

We now know (or ought to know) that much (if not most) terrorism is blowback and blowback is one of the costs of empire and a foreign policy of interventionism. If we want to win the Global War On Terror, we ought to strike at the root cause of terrorism by bringing the American Empire to an end and by ending our foreign policy of interventionism. One sure way to end the empire is to cut off the funding for it--permanently. And one sure way to cut off the funding permanently is to get rid of the income tax.

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."--Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Live Free Or Move . . .

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Congress Wastes Time On Stimulants

In a couple of previous posts ("Scott Ritter On Waxman's Inquisition Of Clemens" at http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2008/02/scott-ritter-on-
waxmans-inquisition-of.html
) and "Welch, Maple Syrup, Moose, & Guiness Stout" at http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2008/02/welch-maple-
syrup-moose-guiness-stout.html
), I've criticized Congress for wasting time on trivia instead of spending its time impeaching Bush, Cheney & Co. or at least ending the Iraq occupation and bringing the troops home.

Over at First Trust Advisors, LP, Brian Westbury and Robert Stein see hypocricy (or irony, at least) in Congress grilling Roger Clemens over his alleged use of steroids and/or HGH all the while Congress itself was working on a plan to inject the American economy with credit and/or tax rebates--viz., a stimulus plan:

"Let’s hear it for irony. In almost simultaneous events last week Congress attacked baseball players for taking performance-enhancing drugs while at the same time supporting artificial and temporary stimulus for the US economy no matter what the long-term costs.

Forget the interesting question of why Congress thinks it has the time to waste investigating major league baseball in the first place; focus instead on the similarities between baseball players (or athletes in general) and the economy (or wealth creation). . . .

Successful economies are built on innovation, creativity and technological ingenuity. The better a country is at creating a positive environment, where this human ingenuity has a chance to bloom, the stronger its underlying growth, the more wealth is produced and the higher the standard of living climbs. . . .

Politicians, enticed by the potential to gather more votes, use temporary economic stimulus for short-term gain. Accelerating recovery from an injury is a positive use for these drugs. In fact, many doctors prescribe them to nonathletes for just this short-term benefit. Unfortunately, using these drugs persistently to enhance performance can have harmful side effects and produce long-term damage.

The same is true for economic stimulus, like Federal Reserve interest rate cuts. Sometimes, interest rate cuts are just what the doctor ordered. But this is only true when they were too high in the first place. Using easy money to alleviate pain that was not caused by hard money is dangerous. It may boost economic growth in the short-term, but this comes with harmful side-effects like inflation, a weak dollar, and eventually much higher interest rates.

The other kind of stimulus favored by Washington DC leans heavily on rebates – money – that politicians get from one group to give to another. But paying rebates, when a budget deficit exists, means that someone, at some point down the road, will be forced to pay it back. Moreover, because the money to fund rebate checks must be borrowed, it crowds out domestic private investment that might have been used to shore up losses at financial institutions.

Many people don’t like professional baseball players using steroids because they mask the underlying ability of the player. They taint the results. But so does artificial economic stimulus. Monetary policy accommodation can help people feel wealthier for awhile, but it cannot create wealth. Printing money does not make anyone wealthier. If it did, then counterfeiting should be made legal and everyone in the world would then be wealthy. The same is true for tax rebates. If they really could increase wealth, then why not make them much larger and much more frequent?

In the end, trying to increase spending without increasing the country’s productive capacity is a fool’s errand. Boosting demand without boosting supply causes a misallocation of resources. Like with steroids any boost is temporary and risks longer-term economic problems. Both interest rate cuts and rebate checks will boost
economic numbers as spring turns to summer . . . ."
--from "Unnecessary and Artificial Stimulus" at http://www.ftportfolios.com/Commentary/EconomicResearch/
2008/2/19/Unnecessary_and_Artificial_Stimulus
.

HT: Mark J. Perry in "Congress and the Pros/Cons of Artificial Stimulus: They Feel Strongly Both Ways" at http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2008/02/congress-and-artificial-
stimulus-they.html
.

Go, Citizens of Boulder!

"Who wins the next election is of minor importance in comparison to the question of whether future administrations are bound to operate under the rule of law and to do so openly in full compliance with the Constitution.

We need to establish, once and for all time, that we are not to be dragged into war based upon lies, that we will not tolerate torture, that we expect full compliance with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and that we will not tolerate signing statements that change the meaning of laws. The purpose of impeachment is to set standards for future administrations. Even to begin impeachment hearings will serve notice that they will be held accountable."

--from "Impeachment Critical to Set Standards for Future Administrations" by Nancy Sullo, Tom Moore, Liz Robinson and Bruce Robinson at http://www.dailycamera.com/news/2008/feb/19/impeachment-
critical-to-set-standards-in-future/
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Obama: Far From The Worst

But even farther from the best!

(McCain is the worst and Paul is the best, of course!)

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Change?

"Obama is not antiwar. . . . The fact is, he has threatened war with Pakistan, won't take a nuclear first strike off the table, and offers up the old establishment boilerplate about this being no time to retreat into "isolationism." American troops will stay in 130 countries. The Iraq withdrawal might be complete by 2013, but he can't promise anything, and he's voted to fund the war all this time. He also voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

This represents "change" how, exactly?"
--from "What Should Ron Paul Do Now?" by Mark Thornton and Thomas E. Woods, Jr. at http://www.lewrockwell.com/thornton/thornton42.html.

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Democrats sacrifice US & Iraqi lives, limbs, & treasure for political gain

"Elected to end the war, Democrats have surrendered to Bush on Iraq and betrayed the peace movement for their own political ends."

--from "The Chicken Doves" by Matt Taibbi at http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/18349197/
the_chicken_doves
. Nota Bene: some bad language.

The Peace Movement: Divided & Conquered

"With such strong and varied antiwar sentiment, is it not remarkable that the antiwar movement has come to nothing? Our country is now embroiled in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in countries on Russia's perimeter, in Iran, in many parts of Africa and elsewhere. And the war parties, Democrat and Republican, are itching for a fight with China. Altogether the situation is pretty miserable.

So why the great gap between popular sentiment and effective antiwar action? I submit that the war parties, Democrat and Republican, very effectively use a divide and conquer tactic--and the antiwar forces play into it, usually quite eagerly. So when some on the left have good things to say about Ron Paul, the sterile lefty ideologues quickly change the subject. If that does not work, those who speak favorably of Paul are excoriated for being right wingers in our innermost thoughts, which we ourselves cannot plumb, we are told, although the psychoanalysts of the left can. And if that does not work, the thought nannies tell us that Ron Paul is a Nazi, another Hitler, who is to be opposed at all costs. . . .

The same is true on the other side. The Paleos and to a lesser degree the Libertarians cannot put aside differences with Greens and other leftists long enough to make headway against war and empire. As soon as common cause begins to be made, then the specter of increased social spending is raised by the Libertarians and of creeping secularism by the Paleos. Because everyone wants only allies that are in complete agreement, no alliances are made. And presto, the ruling war parties have divided and conquered.

Such behavior on the part of the antiwar movement is childish in the extreme. For the sake of ideological purity, we give up on making common cause with others who agree with us only in part. For an impossibly long shot at gaining everything, we sacrifice gaining the most important thing at the moment--an end to war and empire."

--from "Shame On Us All / Antiwarriors: Divided and Conquered" By JOHN V. WALSH at
http://www.counterpunch.org/walsh02122008.html.

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Happy Presidents' Day!

The great Anthony Gregory had a nice piece yesterday (Presidents' Day) on the Presidency, the Presidents, and the Presidential candidates: "Our Enemy, The Presidency" at http://www.lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory155.html.

Scott Ritter On Waxman's Inquisition Of Clemens


"While this hearing was underway, thousands of miles away, in Iraq, American service members continued the ugly business of occupying Iraq. That Waxman would abuse his position by pursuing such trivia while Americans continued to fight and die in a war built exclusively on a framework of lies is disturbing."

--from "If Only Saddam Had Injected HGH" by Scott Ritter at http://www.antiwar.com/orig/ritter.php?articleid=12370.

I've heard that Waxman subsequently apologized for this hearing, but it doesn't change the fact that a lot of Congressional time and other resources were frittered away while much more important matters continued to get short shrift.

Welch, Maple Syrup, Moose, & Guinness Stout

Vermont's Congressman Welch recently returned from a trip to visit the troops in Iraq and and bring them maple syrup. He took time out from ending the war and bringing the troops home to make arrangements for moose-hunting permits and pints of Guinness Stout for the troops! Read about it yourself: http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080215
/NEWS01/
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I'm really glad Speaker Pelosi took impeachment off the table so Members of Congress would have plenty of time for more crucial tasks like arranging for moose permits and supplying maple syrup and Guinness Stout to the troops.

If Welch has so much spare time on his hands, perhaps he could invest some of it in trying to persuade his fellow Members of Congress to bring the troops home and end the occupation? Coming home alive with all of one's limbs and all of one's wits just has to win hands down over getting a moose permit, some maple syrup, or a pint of Guinness Stout.

Let's give the troops what they really deserve!

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Let's Legalize Competing Currencies


"Without the ability to inflate the currency, governments find themselves . . . unable to carry on wars of aggression or to appease their overtaxed citizens with bread and circuses. . . . Restoring soundness to the dollar will remove the government's ability and incentive to inflate the currency, and keep us from launching unconstitutional wars that burden our economy to excess."

--from "Let's Legalize Competing Currencies" by Ron Paul at
http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul434.html.

Government pays for its wars by taxing, by borrowing, and by expanding the money supply. Money is too important to be left to the economists, too important to be left to the politicians, and certainly too important to be left to the bureaucrats like Ben "helicopter" Bernanke. If Americans really want peace, they have to put a stop to the government's ability to expand the money supply at will. Legalizing competing currencies would get us back on the path to peace.

I wonder: where do McCain, Huckabee, Clinton, and Obama stand on this issue?

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Pulitzers

"[I]n 1973, The Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for its work in uncovering the Watergate abuses, and that led to what would have been the imminent bipartisan impeachment of the President until he was forced to resign in disgrace. By stark and depressing contrast, in 2006, Jim Risen, Eric Lichtblau and the NYT won Pulitzer Prizes for their work in uncovering illegal spying on Americans at the highest levels of the Government, and that led to bipartisan legislation to legalize the illegal spying programs and provide full-scale retroactive amnesty for the lawbreakers. That's the difference between a country operating under the rule of law and one that is governed by lawlessness and lawbreaking license for the politically powerful and well-connected."

--from "Amnesty Day for Bush and lawbreaking telecoms" by Glenn Greenwald at http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/02/12/amnesty
_day/index.html
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How Anti-War Are The Presidential Candidates?

Obama was opposed to the Iraq War from the get-go and even Clinton is now talking about withdrawing our troops (someday!). One wonders, however, whether either of them (or McCain or Huckabee) would succumb to the temptation to drag the country into some other undeclared, unconstitutional, and immoral war. To get an idea on just how quick they might be to do this, it would be interesting to hear them tell us which of America's past wars they believe were justified. For instance, would they say that Mr. Lincoln's Civil War was justified?

Every schoolboy and schoolgirl "knows" that Lincoln freed the slaves and saved the Union. Doesn't that justify the Civil War? But what if what every schoolboy and schoolgirl "knows" is not actually true? As Thomas J. DiLorenzo points out, "the January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed no one since it specifically exempted all the areas that at the time were occupied by federal armies. That is, all areas where slaves could actually have been freed"
(http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo12.html ). And the Civil War "may have saved the Union geographically, but it destroyed it philosophically by destroying its voluntary nature" (http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo44.html).

Moreover, if George W. Bush is the "worst President in U. S. history", as we hear so often, what does that make Lincoln, who "invaded the South without the consent of Congress, as called for in the Constitution; declared martial law; blockaded Southern ports without a declaration of war, as required by the Constitution; illegally suspended the writ of habeas corpus; imprisoned without trial thousands of Northern anti-war protesters, including hundreds of newspaper editors and owners; censored all newspaper and telegraph communication; nationalized the railroads; created three new states without the consent of the citizens of those states in order to artificially inflate the Republican Party’s electoral vote; ordered Federal troops to interfere with Northern elections to assure Republican Party victories; deported Ohio Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham for opposing his domestic policies (especially protectionist tariffs and income taxation) on the floor of the House of Representatives; confiscated private property, including firearms, in violation of the Second Amendment; and effectively gutted the Tenth and Ninth Amendments as well"
(http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo12.html)?

Ron Paul is so antiwar that he openly questions the wisdom, morality, and necessity of the Civil War. In Paul's appearance on "Meet the Press" on December 23, 2007, Tim Russert asked him about his opinion on the Civil War. Paul's answer, although brief, was thoughtful and surprisingly convincing. Russert, who probably thought he was going to ensnare Paul in a "gotcha" from which there would be no escape, quickly changed the subject. Watch the video here:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=jbOE4Ip7In0.

Jim Powell extends Paul's thinking on the necessity and morality of the Civil War at some length in "Was the Civil War a Terrible Mistake?" at http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9137. In particular, he points out that blowback occurred in the case of the Civil War, too.

It would be interesting to ask Mr. Lincoln if he thought the cost of the Civil War, which so many northerners expected would be over quickly and at very little cost (perhaps they thought it too would be a "cakewalk"?) was "worth it". We know that Madeleine Albright famously stated that she thought that the 500,000 Iraqi lives taken by the Clinton-imposed sanctions were "worth it". If only someone had been able to ask Mr. Lincoln if he thought the over 600,000 lives taken by the Civil War were "worth it"!

And it would be interesting to ask Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Huckabee if they think the Civil War was necessary or moral. Beyond that, it would be interesting to ask them which of America's other wars--undeclared as well as declared--were wise, necessary, and moral. For instance, would they say that Woodrow Wilson's dragging the U. S. into The Great War "to make the world safe for democracy"
(http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/powell-jim5.html) was any more wise, necessary, and moral than George W. Bush's dragging the U. S. into the Iraq War to "spread democracy"?

Now that the Iraq invasion has turned into an occupation and the occupation has turned into a quagmire, even Hillary Clinton can say she's ready to withdraw our troops (someday!). But it would be nice to have a thorough understanding of the candidates' thinking on war and peace in general--not just on this particular war. For the chances are that sometime between January 20, 2009 and January 20, 2013 (or January 20, 2017) the next President will be confronted with one or more situations that could lead him or her--if he or she is not sufficiently antiwar--to drag the country into another unwise and immoral war (and perhaps an unconstitutional and illegal one, too!).

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