Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Vietnam: History Revisited ... finally

I've been reading nothing but excellent reviews of Ken Burns' PBS documentary on Vietnam.  Here's George Will's take -‘The Vietnam War’ is a masterpiece — and a model for assessing our history.  I am currently reading Mark Bowden's book, Hue 1968, so allow me to paste Will's conclusion:
Weary of hearing the prudence that was so painfully learned in Indochina derided as the “Vietnam syndrome,” Marlantes says (in his Wall Street Journal review of Mark Bowden’s book “Hue 1968”): “If by Vietnam syndrome we mean the belief that the U.S. should never again engage in (a) military interventions in foreign civil wars without clear objectives and a clear exit strategy, (b) ‘nation building’ in countries about whose history and culture we are ignorant, and (c) sacrificing our children when our lives, way of life, or ‘government of, by, and for the people’ are not directly threatened, then we should never get over Vietnam syndrome. It’s not an illness; it’s a vaccination.” The Burns/Novick masterpiece is, in Marlantes’s words about Bowden’s book, “a powerful booster shot.”
Correct - we should (a word which I try my best never to use) never get over Vietnam.

Just About Covers It

It's call "peace" for a reason ....

Monday, September 11, 2017

You're Surprised To Learn

Congress Quietly Passed a Bill Allowing Warrantless Searches of Homes—Only 1% Opposed It.  Really?
A bill that will allow homes to be searched without a warrant was passed with overwhelming support by the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Trump—and it happened with no media coverage and very little fanfare.

On the surface, House Joint Resolution 76 looks harmless. The title of the bill claims that its purpose is “Granting the consent and approval of Congress for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to enter into a compact relating to the establishment of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.”

“Whereas the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, an interstate compact agency of the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the State of Maryland, provides transportation services to millions of people each year, the safety of whom is paramount; Whereas an effective and safe Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority system is essential to the commerce and prosperity of the National Capital region; Whereas the Tri-State Oversight Committee, created by a memorandum of understanding amongst these 3 jurisdictions, has provided safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.”

The proposal for a safety commission to act as a wing of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority may sound logical, when its power includes thing such as the ability to “Adopt, revise, and distribute a written State Safety Oversight Program” and to “Review, approve, oversee, and enforce the adoption and implementation of WMATA’s Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan.”

However, there is one major red flag buried within the text of the bill that stems from the list of “powers” given to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, and it violates one of the basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution.

“In performing its duties, the Commission, through its Board or designated employees or agents, may: Enter upon the WMATA Rail System and, upon reasonable notice and a finding by the chief executive officer that a need exists, upon any lands, waters, and premises adjacent to the WMATA Rail System, including, without limitation, property owned or occupied by the federal government, for the purpose of making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing as the Commission may deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this MSC Compact, and such entry shall not be deemed a trespass.”

The text gives the Commission the authority to enter property near the Metro Rail System “without limitation” and without a warrant, for the purpose of “making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing.”

This clearly goes against the Fourth Amendment, which states that Americans’ rights “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”

When the bill was brought to a vote in the House of Representatives, there were only five Congressmen who voted against it: Representatives Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan; Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina; Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky; Alex Mooney, a Republican from West Virginia; and Mark Sanford, a Republican from South Carolina.

Amash called out the hypocrisy surrounding the fact that even though this legislation is in clear violation of the Constitution, it was passed by Congress with overwhelming support. “Only 5 of us voted against bill allowing govt to enter/search private property in parts of VA, MD & DC w/o warrant,” He wrote on Twitter.

This is not the first time Congress has quietly passed a bill that will take away some of the most basic rights from law-abiding citizens in the U.S., and it won’t be the last. One of the most important things to remember about this legislation is that it was ignored by the media, and while it may only affect the Washington D.C. metro area now, it could be laying the blueprint for future legislation across the country. 

They Most Certainly Are

Sanctions Are an Act of War by Jacob Hornberger.  I have repeatedly stated on this medium that sanctions are as much an act of war as any overt military act.  Period.  Sanctions do not harm those in power, the elite, the well-placed.  No, they hurt the politically unconnected, civilians, citizens, kids, and so on.  Those without skin-in-the-game, aka politicians, their cronies and intellectuals, are fond of stating the aim of sanctions is to force the citizenry of a nation to change their "leadership", which is just another way of saying "go stand in front of the bullets of your leader".  There is no difference, as death is most often the end result.  The politicians of nations that impose sanctions are simply criminals.  Here's Hornberger's take:
If the Pentagon suddenly bombed North Korea, killing thousands of North Korean citizens, that would clearly be considered an act of war. Yet, when the U.S. government intentionally targets North Korea with economic sanctions that kill thousands of North Koreans through starvation or illness, that’s considered to be simply a peaceful diplomatic measure. That’s odd because from a practical standpoint, people are dead either way — from bombs or sanctions.

Americans have become so accustomed to the concept of sanctions that the policy has become hum-drum and commonplace. Since the violence associated with sanctions is indirect and difficult to see, people don’t put them in the same category as bombs. But the reality is that sanctions, by virtue of their targeting foreign citizens for death, are every bit an act of war as dropping bombs on them.

North Korea is quite possibly the most impoverished nation on earth. Suffering for decades under a brutal socialist economic system (one in which the government takes care of everyone with guaranteed retirement pensions, healthcare, education, employment, housing, and food), the populace is always starving or on the verge of starvation.

What do U.S. sanctions do? They make the economic suffering of the North Korean people even worse. And that’s what they are designed to do — to inflict maximum harm on North Koreans in the hopes of starving them and their children to death.

The idea is twofold: (1) If the North Koreans are dying or watching their children die, they will do what is necessary to oust the North Korean regime and replace it with a regime that is pro-U.S. or (2) the North Korean regime, faced with a rising death toll among the North Korean people from starvation of illness, will abdicate in favor of a pro-U.S. regime or simply agree to do the bidding of U.S. officials.

Either way, the North Korean people are the pawns in all this. They are the ones who are targeted for death by U.S. officials and their sanctions.

Of course, this is not the only time that U.S. officials have targeted the civilian populace of a nation as a way to achieve a political goal. Sanctions have become a popular foreign-policy tool of U.S. officials, especially against Third World nations, which lack the ability to retaliate.

Recall the U.S. regime-change operation in Chile from 1970 to 1973. Somehow concluding that the Chilean people’s election of a self-avowed Marxist as president was a threat to U.S. “national security,” U.S. officials targeted Chile for a U.S. regime-change operation. As part of the regime-change plan, the CIA did everything it could to make the Chilean economy “scream.”

What that meant was that the CIA secretly engaged in actions designed to bring maximum economic suffering to the Chilean people, including starvation, as reflected by a scheme by which the CIA secretly bribed the nation’s truckers into going on strike, thereby preventing the delivery of food to people all across the country. The idea was that by killing the Chilean people or their children, that would make them more amenable to a military coup, which ultimately came in 1973.

Recall the 11 years of brutal U.S. sanctions on Iraq. They targeted and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. Yes, children, not one of whom ever initiated any violence against the United States. The goal? Again, regime change. The idea was that if the Iraqi people wanted to avoid the ever-increasing death toll of their children, they could oust Saddam Hussein from power and install a regime that was acceptable to U.S. officials. Alternatively, the idea was that Saddam Hussein, if he cared about the Iraqi children, would abdicate in favor of a pro-U.S. regime or simply agree to comply with U.S. dictates.

One of the fascinating aspects of the Iraqi sanctions was the indifference among U.S. officials to the death toll among children. It just didn’t matter to them that they were killing children. In their minds, they were just enforcing sanctions — i.e., rules and regulations. Their mindsets were a perfect demonstration of what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil.”

When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright was asked whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were worth it, she responded that while the matter was a difficult one, yes, the deaths were in fact “worth it.” No U.S. official, including her boss Bill Clinton, who some perceived as a great humanitarian, condemned Albright’s position. For that matter, neither did very many editorial or op-ed writers in the U.S. mainstream press.

In fact, the position of U.S. officials was that the deaths of those Iraqi children were actually the fault of Iraqi parents and Saddam Hussein. Their reasoning was that since the Iraqi people could revolt at any time and since Saddam Hussein could comply with U.S. dictates at any time, their failure to do so placed responsibility for the children’s deaths in their hands, not the hands of the U.S. bureaucrats who were enforcing their sanctions.

Consider the decades-long U.S. economic embargo against Cuba. It is targeted against the Cuban people, with the aim of achieving regime change on the island. U.S. officials sometimes point out that the suffering of the Cuban people is a direct result of their government’s socialist economic policies, as if that somehow negates the fact that U.S. officials are trying to make their suffering even worse with their embargo.

If any Third World nations targeted by U.S. sanctions or embargoes were First World nations, there is little doubt that they would respond with a military counterattack against the United States. Few nations are going to permit another nation to intentionally target and kill their citizenry, either by bombs or sanctions.

But poor, impoverished Third World nations know that they don’t stand a chance in a war with the United States. That’s why they inevitably fail to respond militarily to the U.S. sanctions attacks on their citizenry. But even Third World nations, if squeezed hard enough with an ever-increasing death toll among its citizenry, can potentially get to a point of such desperation that they finally decide to go for broke and retaliate. They might well figure that since they’re going down anyway because of the sanctions, they might as well take a lot of people down with them.

Another Inconvenient Truth

Only Walter E. Williams could pen this one - Liberals in a Tizzy:
Many blacks and their white liberal allies demand the removal of statues of Confederate generals and the Confederate battle flag, and they are working up steam to destroy the images of Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and President Jefferson Davis from Stone Mountain in Georgia. Allow me to speculate as to the whys of this statue removal craze, which we might call statucide.

To understand it, we need a review of the promises black and white liberals have been making for decades. In 1940, the black poverty rate was 87 percent. By 1960, it had fallen to 47 percent. During that interval, blacks were politically impotent. There were no anti-poverty programs or affirmative action programs. Nonetheless, this poverty reduction exceeded that in any other 20-year interval. But the black leadership argued that more was necessary. They said that broad advancement could not be made unless blacks gained political power.

Fifty years ago, there were fewer than 1,000 black elected officials nationwide. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, by 2011 there were roughly 10,500 black elected officials, not to mention a black president. But what were the fruits of greater political power? The greatest black poverty, poorest education, highest crime rates and greatest family instability are in cities such as Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Buffalo. The most common characteristic of these predominantly black cities is that for decades, all of them have been run by Democratic and presumably liberal politicians. Plus, in most cases, blacks have been mayors, chiefs of police, school superintendents and principals and have dominated city councils.

During the 1960s, black and white liberals called for more money to be spent on anti-poverty programs. Since the Lyndon Johnson administration's War on Poverty programs, U.S. taxpayers have forked over $22 trillion for anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, that's three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Despite that spending, the socio-economic condition for many blacks has worsened. In 1940, 86 percent of black children were born inside marriage, and the black illegitimacy rate was about 15 percent. Today, only 35 percent of black children are born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate hovers around 75 percent.

The visions of black civil rights leaders and their white liberal allies didn't quite pan out. Greater political power and massive anti-poverty spending produced little. The failure of political power and the failure of massive welfare spending to produce nirvana led to the expectation that if only there were a black president, everything would become better for blacks. I cannot think of a single black socio-economic statistic that improved during the two terms of the Barack Obama administration. Some have become tragically worse, such as the black homicide victimization rate. For example, on average in Chicago, one person is shot every two hours, 15 minutes, and a person is murdered every 12 1/2 hours.

So more political power hasn't worked. Massive poverty spending hasn't worked. Electing a black president hasn't worked. What should black leaders and their white liberal allies now turn their attention to in order to improve the socio-economic condition for blacks? It appears to be nearly unanimous that attention should be turned to the removal of Confederate statues. It's not only Confederate statue removal but Confederate names of schools and streets. Even the Council on American-Islamic Relations agrees. It just passed a resolution calling for the removal of all Confederate memorials, flags, street names and symbols from public spaces and property. By the way, does the statue of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman qualify for removal? He once explained his reluctance to enlist former slaves, writing, "I am honest in my belief that it is not fair to our men to count negroes as equals ... (but) is not a negro as good as a white man to stop a bullet?" It's difficult to determine where this purging of the nation's history should end.

Here's Hoping He Does

“Congress has been dropping in relative power along a descending curve of 60 years’ duration, with the rate of fall markedly increased since 1933. . . . The fall of the American Congress seems to be correlated with a more general historical transformation toward political and social forms within which the representative assembly — the major political organism of post-Renaissance Western civilization — does not have a primary political function.”

— James Burnham, “Congress and the American Tradition” (1959)

Today, worse is better. The president’s manifest and manifold inadequacies might awaken a slumbering Congress to the existence of its Article I powers and responsibilities.

As a candidate, Donald Trump vowed devotion to all 12 of the Constitution’s seven articles. As president, Barack Obama, discerning a defect in the work of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, supplied Article VIII, which has expired. It stipulated: “Between Jan. 20, 2009, and Jan. 20, 2017, the president shall have the power to do whatever Congress declines to do.” So, when Congress did not confer legal status on “dreamers” (immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children), he did it. He conferred such status and attendant benefits on a large category of people and called this patently legislative act a routine exercise of law enforcement discretion.

As a candidate, Trump’s policy regarding dreamers made up in concision what it lacked in reflection: “They have to go.” As a president whose incoherence has a kind of majesty, he says he has “a love for these people” who are “incredible” when they are not engaged in rampant criminality. When he is not pardoning Arizona’s scofflaw sheriff Joe Arpaio for his anti-immigrant criminality, Trump casts immigration as a law-and-order issue.

So does Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who preaches fire-and-brimstone law and order when he is not encouraging legalized theft under “ civil forfeiture ,” whereby government enriches itself by seizing the property of persons not convicted of crimes. Sessions, whose canine loyalty to Trump is not scrupulously reciprocated , seemed to relish the privilege of announcing Trump’s policy that, absent action from a Congress that is especially loath to act on immigration, could punish 690,000 children for what their parents did long ago.

Trump’s policy now is to state that Obama’s policy will expire in six months unless Congress chooses to “legalize” — Trump’s word — it. If Congress does not, Trump will do . . . something: “I will revisit this issue!” Perhaps his exclamatory punctuation foreshadows something as forceful — meaning as unilateral — as what Obama did.

What Obama did was popular and unconstitutional. The latter attribute probably does not interest Obama’s successor, but the former attribute evidently does. Hence Trump has sent this hot-potato issue where it belongs, to Congress, which now faces the unaccustomed agony of actually setting national policy.

The day Trump and Sessions disturbed Congress’s serenity, Nikki Haley did likewise. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former executive (as South Carolina’s governor) intimated that the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran might yet wind up where, constitutionally, it should have started — in the national legislature. An international pact of this complexity and gravity should have been a treaty, submitted to the Senate for committee hearings, floor debate and ratification by a two-thirds supermajority. Instead, as a redundant expression of Obama’s disdain for Congress and the separation of powers, it was submitted to the United Nations, and then to Congress. The House voted disapproval, and the Senate attempted the same, although the margins were too small to override an Obama veto in any case.

Haley suggested Trump might declare Iran not in compliance with the agreement, thereby initiating a 60-day congressional review, potentially culminating with the administration leaving Congress to decide for or against U.S. withdrawal from the agreement. Just as many Republicans, after years of denouncing Obamacare, flinched from repealing it, many critics of the Iran agreement might flinch. Haley said, “I get that Congress doesn’t want this.” Which is a reason — exercising atrophied institutional sinews — for hoping it happens.

In 1959, before the exhilarating experience of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, congressional supremacy was still a tenet of conservatism. Then, James Burnham, a founding editor of the then 4-year-old National Review, wondered whether Congress could “survive as an autonomous, active political entity with some measure of real power, not merely as a rubber stamp, a name and a ritual, or an echo of powers lodged elsewhere.” The slope of the long descending curve might be changing.

Quote of the Day

"By proposing a total oil embargo on North Korea, President Trump is taking a page out of former President Franklin Roosevelt’s war playbook as a way to get a war going with the communist regime. Roosevelt used the same strategy against Japan to successfully get the United States embroiled in World War II." - Jacob Hornberger, Trump’s Pearl Harbor Strategy for War in Korea

Monday, September 4, 2017

Uh, No

No, but the politicians and their cronies certainly do.

You Go First Haley. Let Me Know How It Works Out

North Korea Is "Begging For War": Haley Tells UN "The Time For Half-Measures Is Over".  Politicians: always so brave standing behind other people's children.  Send every single politician first and then let's talk about what should happen next.  War would cease to be an option if politicians had to go first.

Just About Covers It

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Likely (And It Was Just A Matter of Time)

Ron Paul asks Will Congress and Trump Declare War on WikiLeaks?:  [emphasis mine]

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently passed its Intelligence Authorization Act for 2018 that contains a chilling attack on the First Amendment. Section 623 of the act expresses the “sense of Congress” that WikiLeaks resembles a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors and should be treated as such.” This language is designed to delegitimize WikiLeaks, encourage the federal government to spy on individuals working with WikiLeaks, and block access to WikiLeaks’ website. This provision could even justify sending US forces abroad to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or other WikiLeaks personnel.

WikiLeaks critics claim that the organization’s leaks harm US national security. However, these critics are unable to provide a single specific example of WikiLeaks’ actions harming the American people. WikiLeaks does harm the reputations of government agencies and politicians, however. For example, earlier this year WikiLeaks released information on the CIA’s hacking program. The leaks did not reveal any details on operations against foreign targets, but they did let the American people know how easy it is for the government to hack into their electronic devices.

For the last year, most of the news surrounding WikiLeaks has centered on its leak of emails showing how prominent Democrats worked to undermine Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. In order to deflect attention from these revelations, Democrats, aided by their allies in the media and even some Republicans, promulgated a conspiracy theory blaming the leaks on Russian hackers working to defeat Hillary Clinton. Even though there is no evidence the Russians were behind the leaks, many in both parties are still peddling the “Putin did it” narrative. This aids an effort by the deep state and its allies in Congress and the media to delegitimize last year’s election, advance a new Cold War with Russia, and criminalize WikiLeaks.

If the government is successful in shutting down WikiLeaks by labeling it a “hostile intelligence service,” it will use this tactic to silence other organizations and websites as well. The goal will be to create a climate of fear to ensure no one dares publish the revelations of a future Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning.

Some have suggested that criticizing police brutality, the surveillance state, the Federal Reserve, or even federal spending aids “hostile foreign powers” by weakening the people’s “trust in government.” This line of reasoning could be used to silence, in the name of “national security,” websites critical of the welfare-warfare state.
By labeling WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service” and thus legitimizing government action against the organization, the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act threatens the ability of whistleblowers to inform the public about government misdeeds. It also sets a precedent that could be used to limit other types of free speech.

President Trump should make it clear he will veto any bill giving government new powers to silence organizations like WikiLeaks. If President Trump supports the war on WikiLeaks, after candidate Trump proclaimed his love for WikiLeaks, it will be further proof that he has outsourced his presidency to the deep state.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, along with notable whistleblowers, foreign policy experts, and leading champions of peace and liberty, will be addressing this important issue at my Institute for Peace and Prosperity’s conference on Saturday, September 9 at the Dulles Airport Marriott Hotel in Dulles, Virginia outside of Washington, D.C. You can get more information about the conference and purchase tickets at the Ron Paul Institute.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Quote of the Day

"If only the people understood that the government waits for emergencies with saliva flowing, knowing that it can then get away with extensions of its power and the enrichment of its cronies to an extent that would be impossible in normal circumstances." - Robert Higgs

Source:  A Plea for Do-Nothing Government:
Nothing promotes bad public policy as much as disaster. An economic depression gives rise to demands for Keynesian “economic stimulus” spending; elevated rates of unemployment among low-skilled workers give rise to demands for increases in the legal minimum wage; shortages of goods and services caused by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other such acts of God give rise to demands for legal prosecution of “price gougers”; and so on and on.
Probably the single most beneficial amendment to the U.S. and state constitutions would be an amendment to forbid the government from “doing something” beyond its normal actions in response to national or local emergencies. Nearly everything the government does on such occasions makes matters worse, ultimately if not immediately. If only the people understood that the government waits for emergencies with saliva flowing, knowing that it can then get away with extensions of its power and the enrichment of its cronies to an extent that would be impossible in normal circumstances.
Today’s phrase is “crisis and leviathan.” Can you say “crisis and leviathan,” boys and girls?
* * *
Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and the author of the Independent book, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (25th Anniversary Edition) and other books.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Just About Covers It

Instead of statues to politicians and military personnel, how about this man instead:

Let's Throw Lincoln In There Too ...

... in the list of mythical best presidents of the United States, since I already shared my thoughts on FDR in a previous post.  Lincoln the man, the president, couldn't be any further from the idolized version this nation's children have been inculcated with by our nationalized educational system.  His real views on Negroes (to use the term used by him) were anything but those so often characterized with the Great Emancipator image.  For details, for the history not taught in schools, please read Thomas DiLorenzo's The Lincoln Myth: Ideological Cornerstone of the America Empire.

Quote of the Day

" ... every flaw in consumers, and there are many, is worse in voters." - Mike Munger, Why it’s so hard for government to fix social problems

Politics As Usual

Proving once again that all politicians are scumbags: Trump Pardons America's Worst Lawman, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  Trump - what can I say?  I will forever believe, as I said several times on this blog prior to his election, the last person that ever wanted to be president was Trump himself In none of his wildest dreams did he really think he'd win.  He woke up in the morning and said out loud "I won what?" And no, Russia did not intervene in the election.  It was his scumbag opponent who lost an election that was hers, through sheer ineptitude. 

Like many, I too was so very certain that HRC would win.  Granted, I didn't want any of the candidates that were running to be the POTUS, but I especially loath(ed) HRC.  The presidency of the United States has been a cult of personality for many decades, starting in earnest with JFK, though arguments could easily be made for Woodrow Wilson.  The office has acquired power far in excess of its defined constitutional constraints, especially in the management of foreign affairs and particularly with the war powers that were conceived in the era of Harry Truman (Korean "Conflict") and borne in the presidency of LBJ (Gulf of Tonkin). 

This all being said, I do enjoy the disruption of the status quo, albeit it temporary, in politics as usual. One can now see the Deep State reasserting itself, particularly in the form of the military men that make up much of the critical mass behind Trump.  One can only imagine the threats, real and implied, DRT must be facing in order to reverse his positions on Afghanistan and Russia. 

Politics is definitely a swamp, inhabited by the worst people nature can produce: those that simply crave power over others. 

MUST READ: How Conspiracy Theories Really Work

How Conspiracy Theories Really Work by Paul Craig Roberts: [emphasis mine - and the bold ranks right up there with the silly notion that one single person assassinated JFK.  Go ahead America, keep believing the scumbags in D.C.]
In the United States «conspiracy theory» is the name given to explanations that differ from those that serve the ruling oligarchy, the establishment or whatever we want to call those who set and control the agendas and the explanations that support the agendas.

The explanations imposed on us by the ruling class are themselves conspiracy theories. Moreover, they are conspiracy theories designed to hide the real conspiracy that our rulers are operating.

For example, the official explanation of 9/11 is a conspiracy theory. Some Muslims, mainly Saudi Arabians, delivered the greatest humiliation to a superpower since David slew Goliath. They outsmarted all 17 US intelligence agencies and those of NATO and Israel, the National Security Council, the Transportation Safety Administration, Air Traffic Control, and Dick Cheney, hijacked four US airliners on one morning, brought down three World Trade Center skyscrapers, destroyed that part of the Pentagon where research was underway into the missing $2.3 billion, and caused the morons in Washington to blame Afghanistan instead of Saudi Arabia.

Clearly, the Saudi Arabians who humiliated America were involved in a conspiracy to do so.

Is it a believable conspiracy?

The ability of a few young Muslim men to pull off such a feat is unbelievable. Such total failure of the US National Security State means that America was blindly vulnerable throughout the decades of Cold War with the Soviet Union. If such total failure of the National Security State had really occurred, the White House and Congress would have been screaming for an investigation. People would have been held accountable for the long chain of security failures that allowed the plot to succeed. Instead, no one was even reprimanded, and the White House resisted all efforts for an investigation for a year. Finally, to shut up the 9/11 families, a 9/11 Commission was convened. The commission duly wrote down the government’s story and that was the «investigation».

Moreover, there is no evidence to support the official conspiracy theory of 9/11. Indeed, all known evidence contradicts the official conspiracy theory.

For example, it is a proven fact that Building 7 came down at freefall acceleration, which means it was wired for demolition. Why was it wired for demolition? There is no official answer to this question.

It is the known evidence provided by scientists, architects, engineers, pilots, and the first responders who were in the twin towers and personally experienced the numerous explosions that brought down the towers that is described as a conspiracy theory.

The CIA introduced the term «conspiracy theory» into public discourse as part of its action plan to discredit skeptics of the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Any explanation other than the one handed down was debunked as a conspiracy theory.

Conspiracy theories are the backbone of US foreign policy. For example, the George W. Bush regime was active in a conspiracy against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The Bush regime created fake evidence of Iraqi «weapons of mass destruction», sold the false story to a gullible world and used it to destroy Iraq and murder its leader. Similarly, Gaddafi was a victim of an Obama/Hillary conspiracy to destroy Libya and murder Gaddafi. Assad of Syria and Iran were slated for the same treatment until the Russians intervened.

Currently, Washington is engaged in conspiracies against Russia, China, and Venezuela. Proclaiming a non-existent «Iranian threat», Washington put US missiles on Russia’s border and used the «North Korean threat» to put missiles on China’s border. The democratically elected leader of Venezuela is said by Washington to be a dictator, and sanctions have been put on Venezuela to help the small Spanish elite through whom Washington has traditionally ruled South American countries pull off a coup and reestablish US control over Venezuela.

Everyone is a threat: Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, tribes in Pakistan, Libya, Russia, China, North Korea, but never Washington. The greatest conspiracy theory of our time is that Americans are surrounded by foreign threats. We are not even safe from Venezuela.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and the rest of the presstitutes are quick to debunk as conspiracy theories all explanations that differ from the explanations of the ruling interests that they serve.

Yet, as I write and for some nine months to date, the presstitute media has been promoting the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump was involved in a conspiracy with the president of Russia and Russian intelligence services to hack the US presidential election and place Trump, a Russian agent, in the White House.

This conspiracy theory has no evidence whatsoever. It doesn’t need evidence, because it serves the interests of the military/security complex, the Democratic Party, the neoconservatives, and permits the presstitutes to show lavish devotion to their masters. By endless repetition a lie becomes truth.

There is a conspiracy, and it is against the American people. Their jobs have been offshored in order to enrich the already rich. They have been forced into debt in a futile effort to maintain their living standards. Their effort to stem their decline by electing a president who spoke for them is being subverted before their eyes by an utterly corrupt media and ruling class.

Sooner or later it will dawn on them that there is nothing they can do but violently revolt. Most likely, by the time they reach this conclusion it will be too late.

For the gullible and naive who have been brainwashed into believing that any explanation that differs from the officially-blessed one is a conspiracy theory, there are available online long lists of government conspiracies that succeeded in deceiving the people in order that the governments could achieve agendas that the people would have rejected.

If liberty continues to exist on earth, it will not be in the Western world. It will be in Russia and China, countries that emerged out of the opposite and know the value of liberty, and it will be in those South American countries, such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia that fight for their sovereignty against American oppression.

Indeed, as historians unconcerned with their careers are beginning to write, the primary lesson in history is that governments deceive their peoples.

Everywhere in the Western world, government is a conspiracy against the people.

Only Five?

I am one of the very few people in this country who believes that FDR was one of this nation's worst presidents. Today, the majority of people still believe that "FDR got us out of the Depression"!  This being said, I can understand why FDR has maintained his saintly ranking: public indoctrination education.  The history taught in schools has little to do with the actual events that make up American history.  Anyhow, here are 5 Reasons Franklin D. Roosevelt was the WORST:
Can you believe that there are at least three statues of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington DC? There is one in South Dakota too, another in Virginia, and even more in London.

It appears all these places are overrun by racists and fascist sympathizers. How can people put up with revering a man who:

1. Literally Rounded Up 120,000 Japanese Americans, and Put them in Concentration Camps!

That was authorized by executive order 9066, which Roosevelt signed February 19, 1942.

How is this fact so often left out of any discussion about how “great” FDR was? These people were American citizens, and they were arrested for no reason other than their heritage.

He imprisoned an entire race. How is he not widely accepted as the biggest American racist of the last century? He was certainly the most effective racist.

Two reports which Roosevelt commissioned in the years prior found that Japanese Americans posed little to no risk to the government. Since FDR ignored the reports’ recommendations, it seems his violation of the rights of Japanese Americans was motivated by racism.

2. He Actually Outlawed Gold!

FDR had absolutely no respect for the people’s rights. He had no respect for the rule of law. He was a tyrant!

With Executive Order 6102, signed on April 5, 1933, everyone living in America was given 25 days to turn in their gold. Yes, their property was confiscated without due process. The government set the price they paid to about $20 per ounce. Three months later, the price miraculously jumped to $35 per ounce.
The law wasn’t repealed until 1974!

3. FDR was Pen Pals With Mussolini, Whom he Admired.

It was a mutual love between FDR and Mussolini. The book, Three New Deals, shows how similar the movements of the 1930’s were in America, Italy, and Germany. It recounts how Roosevelt said:
“‘I don’t mind telling you in confidence,’ FDR remarked to a White House correspondent, ‘that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman'”
And Mussolini reviewed FDR’s book Looking Forward.

“Reminiscent of Fascism is the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices.… Without question, the mood accompanying this sea change resembles that of Fascism.”

4. The Roosevelt Administration was Infested with Russian Spies.

Diana West described in her book, American Betrayal, just how well the Soviet Union infiltrated the White House. Top officials close to the President were supportive of the Soviet Regime to the point of suspicion.

In one sketchy encounter, soldiers were told to stand down when they witnessed American secrets being smuggled out of America on a plane bound for Russia, guarded by Soviet soldiers. This may be how the Soviet Union was able to make nuclear weapons.

And other policies were directly influenced by socialist sympathizers and possibly outright spies in the government during FDR’s tenure. Soviet troops were given precedence for American supplies over American troops during World War Two!

5. FDR Hated the Press and Suppressed Them.

Reason Magazine describes FDR’s War Against the Press:
Roosevelt warned in 1938 that “our newspapers cannot be edited in the interests of the general public, from the counting room. And I wish we could have a national symposium on that question, particularly in relation to the freedom of the press. How many bogies are conjured up by invoking that greatly overworked phrase?”
Roosevelt started the FCC and limited licenses for radio to six months.
It did not take long for broadcasters to get the message. NBC, for example, announced that it was limiting broadcasts “contrary to the policies of the United States government.” CBS Vice President Henry A. Bellows said that “no broadcast would be permitted over the Columbia Broadcasting System that in any way was critical of any policy of the Administration.” He elaborated “that the Columbia system was at the disposal of President Roosevelt and his administration and they would permit no broadcast that did not have his approval.” Local station owners and network executives alike took it for granted, as Editor and Publisher observed, that each station had “to dance to Government tunes because it is under Government license.”
FDR’s government illegally intercepted telegraphs and used the ill begotten information to subpoena journalists, chilling any decent, and drying up the flow of information to reporters. A law was even proposed to give prison sentences for anyone who knowingly published false information: fake news.



Ukraine Hosts US Military to Be Permanently Stationed on Its Soil

Moldova to Become Foothold for US Military

Simply this: maintain the permanent warfare state, which is the maintenance of the military, industrial, congressional, security (MICS) complex.  The War on Terror was created to replace the enemy few in the military-industrial complex (as it was known at that time) ever believed would be "defeated": the Soviet Union.  They learned one lesson with the fall of the USSR: create an "enemy" that could never "go away" and hence, along came the war on terrorism, that is, a war against a strategy anyone, even stateless actors, can employ.  In effect, terrorism can never be defeated and it will not go away, which is just what the Deep State wants. 

Here's a piece from James George Jatras, If War Comes, Don’t Blame the ‘Military-Industrial Complex’ – Things Are Even Worse Than You Think in which the Deep State plays a larger role.

For Absolutely Nothing ...

You will find more statistics at Statista

Friday, August 25, 2017

Just About Covers It

Robert Higgs on Representative Government

I continually have to remind people that America was not founded as a democracy, but rather, as a representative republic.  However, I'm quick to add that it doesn't much matter really, since there's really no effective way to represent many via the election (or selection) of a few, whom we can refer to as agents (congressmen, senators, mayors, etc.).  For more, here's Robert Higgs' latest, Principal-agent Theory and Representative Government:
In recent decades economists have devoted great efforts to the analysis of the principal-agent problem (see for example Milgrom and Roberts 1992 and the Wikipedia article on “Principal-agent Problem”). This area of study has to do with the incentives and disincentives of an agent acting on half of a principal that he is presumed or contracted to represent. No brief summary can do justice to the great variety of issues and problems considered in this literature, except possibly this: a perfect agent is, for various reasons, pretty much impossible; and in many cases a great gap exists between what the agent does and what the principal wanted him to do but could neither compel nor induce him to do with any feasible agency contract.

Although this literature resides mainly in the subfield of economics known as industrial organization, it has substantial implications for the study of politics. For example, the framers of the U.S. Constitution created an institutional framework for the operation not of a democracy, but of a representative republic. There’s that troublesome word—representative. Now consider this: if a principal in a market setting, say, the owner of a business, cannot create a workable contractual relationship (i.e., one without shirking or other forms of opportunism) with his agent, say, the hired manager of his business, what are the chances that the so-called representatives of citizens in the United States of America—the president, the state governor, the congress member for one’s district, and the state legislature member for one’s district—can in any meaningful sense represent more than a handful of citizens? People have complex and widely differing political preferences. How can a congress person represent hundreds of thousands of persons when a firm’s board of directors cannot reliably control the firm’s president to attain a simple objective such as maximization of the firm’s market valuation? The political task assigned is impossible. The “representative” part of the representative republic cannot be taken seriously by anyone who thinks about the matter more than a minute or two.

Moreover, unlike the market setting, where principals can establish measurable objectives for an agent to accomplish and create legally enforceable, quantitative incentives for the achievement of goals—for example, defined profit sharing or graduated compensation, perhaps in the form of stock options or other links to the agent’s performance—the political setting permits no such linkages. As a rule, the candidates for election to public office make vague promises, hardly any of which are subject to straightforward monitoring or quantitative measurement. In general, it is impossible for principals in the electorate to identify precisely how their office-holding agents have succeeded or failed. And even if a definite failure were to be confirmed, the political agent cannot be held accountable in a fashion comparable to the accountability of an economic agent who can be immediately fired or penalized according to a formula stipulated in his contract. Political agents are supposedly accountable at the next election, in the event that they run for reelection, but—wholly apart from the fundamental problems of monitoring and measurement—once in office they have substantial advantages in rigging electoral factors in their favor (e.g., by gerrymandering electoral districts or by steering government contracts or subsidies to borderline voters) so that the principals (the voters in this case) cannot discipline or dismiss them. For the most part, political agents are not truly accountable to the principals, but only to the major contributors to their reelection campaigns. Accountability is in general much more myth than substance.

If genuine political representation is impossible for large groups, what results? The Iron Law of Oligarchy comes into play. Small groups of people make decisions to suit themselves and a few cronies and key supporters, and they paint their actions with ideological colors to persuade the great mass of people that they are doing something desirable. It’s not simply that the so-called representatives are bad or corrupt, though they may be. It’s that the job they purport to do cannot be done even by the finest, most uncorrupted representatives imaginable. No agent can truly represent a variegated group of principals, especially a large one whose members disagree along many dimensions. Some principals will have their interests seemingly fostered; others will not. The latter will simply be bludgeoned by force of law to submit.

Larry Elder on Racism and the BLM Movement

Well worth the 20 minutes!  Here's Larry Elder, a black-American (he does not like, nor does he use "African American") conservative.  Dave Rubin always does a fine interview too.

"Girls Like Me"

Atomic Bombs: What My Momma (Never) Told Me by Abigail Hall.  A worthy read indeed.  Quite frankly, this world needs more girls like her. 

One Can Only Hope

‘Russia-gate’ Hoax About To Be Exposed? by Justin Raimondo:  [for the record: I am a supporter of Antiwar.com]
There’s an exciting new development in the “Russia-gate” investigation, one that has the potential to blast apart what is arguably the biggest hoax in the history of American politics.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) has met with Julian Assange – the first US congressman to do so – and returned with some spectacular news:. The Hill reports:

“Julian Assange told a U.S. congressman on Tuesday he can prove the leaked Democratic Party documents he published during last year’s election did not come from Russia and promised additional helpful information about the leaks in the near future.”

Assange has maintained all along that the Russians had nothing to do with procuring the DNC/Podesta emails, despite the intelligence community’s assertions – offered without evidence – that Vladimir Putin personally approved the alleged “hack.” Yet credible challenges to this view have emerged in recent days, including from a group of former intelligence officials, that throw considerable doubt on the idea that there was even a “hack” to begin with. “Pressed for more detail on the source of the documents,” says The Hill,

“Rohrabacher said he had information to share privately with President Trump. ‘Julian also indicated that he is open to further discussions regarding specific information about the DNC email incident that is currently unknown to the public,’ he said.”

What this looks like is an attempt by Assange to negotiate with the US government over his current status as a political prisoner: he has been confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for many years. Hanging over him is the threat of arrest should he leave and his rendition to the United States to face charges. Could he be making a bid for freedom, offering to provide evidence of how he got his hands on the DNC/Podesta emails in exchange for a pardon?

Rohrabacher, who has a history as a libertarian fellow traveler, has been the target of a smear campaign due to his unwillingness to go along with the Russophobic hysteria that’s all the rage in Washington, D.C. these days. Politico attacked him in a piece calling him “Putin’s favorite congressman,” and “news” accounts of this meeting with Assange invariably mention his “pro-Russian” views – as if a desire to get along with Russia is in itself somehow “subversive.”

It’s a brave stance to take when even the ostensibly libertarian and anti-interventionist Cato Institute has jumped on the hate-on-Russia bandwagon. Cato cut their ties to former Czech Republic president Vaclav Klaus because he refused to accept the War Party’s line on the US-sponsored Ukrainian coup that overthrew the country’s democratically elected chief of state. But it gets worse. Here’s Cato senior fellow Andrei Illarionov saying we are already at war with Russia:

“First of all, it is necessary to understand that this is a war. This is not a joke, this is not an accident, this is not a mistake, this is not a bad dream. It will not go away by itself. This is a war. As in any war, you either win or lose. And it is up to you what choice you will make.”

And it’s not just a cold war: the conflict must, says Illarionov, contain a military element:

“First, in purely military area, it is quite clear that victory in this war cannot be achieved without serious adjustments made to the existing military doctrine. Certainly, soft power is wonderful, but by itself it does not deter the use of force.”

While the rest of the country is going about its business with nary a thought about Russia, in Washington the craziness is pandemic. Which is why Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Adrienne Watson felt safe vomiting up the usual bile in response to Rohrabacher’s initiative: “We’ll take the word of the US intelligence community over Julian Assange and Putin’s favorite Congressman.”

The power of groupthink inside the Washington Beltway has energized both the neo-cold warrior hysterics – epitomized by the imposition of yet more sanctions — and the “Russia-gate” hoax to the point where it is unthinkable for anyone to challenge either. Yet Rohrabacher, whom I don’t always agree with, has the balls to stand up to both, and for that he should be supported.

Assange has stubbornly resisted revealing anything about the provenance of the DNC/Podesta emails, allowing the CIA/NSA to claim that it was the Russians who “hacked the election,” and also giving them a free hand to smear WikiLeaks as an instrument of the Kremlin. This meeting with Rohrabacher, and the promise of revelations to come, indicate that he is reconsidering his stance – and that we are on the verge of seeing “Russia-gate” definitively debunked.

We here at Antiwar.com have challenged the “mainstream” media’s wholesale swallowing of the government’s line from the very beginning. That’s because there hasn’t been one iota of solid proof for blaming the Russians, or even for the assertion that the DNC was “hacked.” We don’t accept government pronouncements at face value: indeed, we don’t accept the “conventional wisdom” at face value, either. We always ask the question: “Where’s the evidence?

Our credo gave us an advantage during the run up to the Iraq war, when the pressure to conform to what “everybody knows” was at its height. We said there were no “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq and provided a platform for the very few who warned that the invasion would be a disaster.

We were smeared as traitors for it, but were vindicated in the end. It’s the same story with the whole panoply of interventions undertaken by the War Party in recent years: Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, etc. While the Washington know-it-alls were telling us to just trust them and all would be well, Antiwar.com told the bitter truth to the American people – that our leaders were leading under over a cliff. And now that we’re at the bottom of it, we’re faced with yet more lies coming from the same sources and their lapdog media. The “Russia-gate” hoax is just the latest example – and it won’t be the last.

That’s why it’s vitally important for our readers to give us the support we need to keep this web site going: because the War Party never rests. There’s always some new scheme, some fresh atrocity that they’re planning, and their captive media is right there, ready, willing, and able to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. Indeed, their machinations are so constant, and so convoluted, that it’s next to impossible for the average ordinary person to keep track of it all – and that’s the reason for Antiwar.com.

We keep track of their lies for you – and systemically debunk them. But we can’t continue to do it without your support – your financial support. The War Party never lacks for resources: the arms dealers, the neoconservative foundations, the political Establishment – they’re all flush with ready cash. We, on the other hand, just have you, our readers and supporters.

That may seem like a very uneven playing field, and it no doubt is. But we have two big factors on our side: the truth, and the fact that Americans are waking up to that truth. The people are increasingly aware that foreign wars and overseas bogeymen are just a distraction concocted by the powers that be to divert attention away from the real problems that confront us right here at home.

So I’m optimistic. But I’ll tell you what would make me even more optimistic, and that is if our current fundraising campaign was cut short by an outpouring of support. I don’t mean to boast, or toot my own horn, but we here at Antiwar.com have certainly earned it. After over twenty years of calling out the War Party and swimming against the tide, we deserve your support.

So please: make your tax-deductible donation today.
Something to think about:  Why are there no (apparent) leaks from Wikileaks?  Seriously, if Julian Assange has the proof of the source/history of "Russia-gate", does that not mean that others within the organization do as well, and given that leaks are everywhere, how can something like this not be divulged by someone else?

Universal Basic Income (UBI)

Mike Munger is another one of my favorite sources of information on economics and politics.  He is a frequent guest on EconTalk, a podcast series hosted by Russ Roberts.  In the short video below, he outlines his framework for going to a UBI and doing away with the plethora of welfare programs.  He is a libertarian, and as such, he explains his apparent contradiction between libertarian perspective on welfare and his own.  Well worth the five minutes.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thankfully, JFK Stood His Ground

Unfortunately, Trump, who has surrounded himself with generals, has failed to do so and the result is continued war, death, destruction and the rotting from within, of these United States.  Jacob Hornberger has an interesting read on events that most have no idea, happened.  Here's Unlike Trump, JFK Didn't Bend The Knee
Like President Trump, President Kennedy was subjected to the same type of pressure by the Pentagon and the CIA to engage in military action overseas. Unlike President Trump, however, Kennedy stood his ground and refused to succumb to the will of the national-security establishment. In fact, Kennedy is the only president in the post-World War II era who has stood up to the demands of what President Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex.”

After the CIA’s regime-change debacle at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, Kennedy never trusted the CIA again. It didn’t take long for him to have the same sentiment toward the Pentagon.

Like the CIA, the Pentagon was obsessed with regime change in Cuba. The national-security establishment was convinced that the United States would cease to exist with a communist “dagger” pointed at it from only 90 miles away. In the eyes of the Pentagon and the CIA, there was only one thing that could be done to save America — oust the communist regime in Cuba and replace it with a pro-U.S. dictatorship, much like the Batista regime that that Fidel Castro had ousted from power in the Cuban Revolution.

The Pentagon understood the political and diplomatic problems associated with initiating a military attack another country, especially one that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. After all, that’s what Japan had done with its undeclared surprise attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor, an act that U.S. officials had vehemently condemned.

The CIA had tried to get around that problem with its Bay of Pigs invasion by trying to make it look like the invaders were simply an independent group of Cuban exiles rather than trained agents of the CIA.

The Pentagon got around the problem by coming up with a plan that would make it look like Cuba had started a war with the United States and that the United States was simply acting in self-defense. That’s what Operation Northwoods was all about. Unanimously approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the plan called for terrorist attacks to be carried out here in the United States and for hijackings of American planes.

Here is the kicker: The terrorists and the hijackers were going to be CIA agents who would be posing as communist agents of Fidel Castro. Under the plan, Pentagon and CIA officials, as well as President Kennedy, would exclaim, “Our country has, once again, been hit by a surprise attack, this time by Cuban communists who have attacked our nation and killed innocent Americans. We have the right to defend ourselves by invading Cuba and effecting regime change there.”

To Kennedy’s everlasting credit, he stood up to the national-security establishment’s pressure, remained true to his convictions, and said no to Operation Northwoods.

The Pentagon and the CIA also presented a plan to Kennedy that proposed a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. It was to be a “preventive war” much like the one that some people today are recommending Trump initiate against North Korea.

In the early 1960s, the United States had vast nuclear superiority over the Soviets. The Pentagon’s argument was as follows: Since war with Russia was inevitable anyway at some point in the future, the United States would gain an enormous edge by initiating an all-out surprise nuclear attack on the entire Soviet Union. In such an attack, the United States would be able to knock most of the nuclear retaliatory capability of the Soviets, leaving only a few nuclear missiles that would likely be able to reach the United States.

When Kennedy asked the Joint Chiefs how many Americans would be estimated to die even given the limited amount of nuclear retaliation, they responded around 40 million, which would, in their eyes, mean that the United States would come out the winner because everyone in Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union would be dead.

Kennedy stood up to the Pentagon and said no. After he left that particular meeting, he indignantly remarked to an aide, “And we call ourselves the human race.”

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Pentagon and the CIA were exerting enormous pressure on Kennedy to bomb and invade Cuba. In their eyes, the crisis presented them with the opportunity they had been waiting for — a justification for invading Cuba to destroy the Soviet offensive missiles that were being installed on the island — missiles, they were convinced, that were intended to initiate an attack on the United States.

The pressure on Kennedy from the national-security establishment grew so large that the president’s brother, Bobby, even expressed grave concerns over the possibility that the national-security establishment would remove Kennedy from power and take control of the federal government, with the aim of protecting national security and saving the country from communism.

Kennedy resisted the pressure and said no. Instead, he struck a deal with the Soviets in which he agreed that the Pentagon and the CIA would never invade Cuba in return for the Soviets’ withdrawal of their missiles. Additionally, Kennedy secretly agreed that the United States would withdraw its nuclear missiles in Turkey that were aimed at Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union. The national security establishment was livid, believing that Kennedy’s resolution of the crisis to be one of the worst defeats in U.S. history and leaving U.S. national security permanently threatened.

It’s a good thing that Kennedy refused to succumb to the Pentagon’s and CIA’s pressure to bomb and invade Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Unbeknownst to the CIA, the Soviet commanders on the ground had fully armed nuclear missiles and had been given battlefield authority to fire them in the event of a bombing attack or an invasion by U.S. forces. If Kennedy had succumbed to the pressure by ordering a bombing attack or an invasion, it is a virtual certainty that the result would have been all-out nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States.

With his decision to surround himself with generals and, now, his flip flop on Afghanistan, it is painfully clear that President Trump has been absorbed into the national-security establishment and s now bending to its will. That’s too bad. But hey, maybe Trump is smarter than we give him credit for. Look at what happened to Kennedy. (See FFF’s ebooks JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne; The Kennedy Autopsy by Jacob Hornberger; Regime Change: The Kennedy Assassination by Jacob Hornberger; The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State by Jacob Hornberger; CIA & JFK: The Secret Assassination Files by Jefferson Morley.)

Still Covers It

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Failure That Is Socialism ...

... and yet, many continue to believe that when it has failed, it just wasn't done correctly, or the wrong people led the way, or ...  Here's a great post from Dan Mitchell, worthy of being your "go-to" piece when refuting the intellectually lazy who prescribe such potions - The Endless Failure (but Bizarre Allure) of Socialism.

Update:  Mitchell has followed up his first post with The Bizarre Allure of Socialism, Part II

FYI: For more insight into why socialism and communism continues to have adherents, please read Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society.  Within this blog, I have a few posts on the book.  Just go to the Thomas Sowell label and it's bound to come up.

Just About Says It All ...

... when it comes to articulating how I feel about statues.  Here's Jeffrey Miron's Statues:
Why should a city, state, or federal government put statues in public parks? Doing so addresses no plausible market failure, while using taxpayers funds and, as demonstrated tragically over the past few weeks, generates controversy, polarization, and violence. Thus governments should take down all statues, regardless of their political implications.

This is not “erasing” history but instead leaving it where it belongs, in the hands of private actors and mechanisms. Historians, textbook authors, universities, learned societies, the History Channel, and many other individuals and organizations can all present their own views of history and battle for the hearts and minds of the public. Government statues are government putting its thumb on the scale, which is one step down the slippery slope of thought control.

"Anti-Government": It's Not What You May Think

The intellectually lazy among us (aka "journalists"; MSM hosts, etc.) are quick to label groups such as antifa, alt-right and many others as "anti-government" when indeed in fact, they're anything but.  Don Boudreaux performs his usual superb job of separating fact and fiction in his latest, The many meanings of 'anti-government': [emphasis mine]
In Federalist No. 37, James Madison said “no language is so copious as to supply words and phrases for every complex idea, or so correct as not to include many, equivocally denoting different ideas.” Reminders of this truth are displayed whenever the brutes who unleashed violence in Charlottesville, Va., are described as “anti-government.” This term has many meanings. Using it carelessly sows confusion.

The white nationalists, alt-righters and others who were in Charlottesville to protest removal of Confederate statuary are indeed, in one way, anti-government. But almost none are anarchists who literally oppose the very institution of government. Instead, they oppose specific government policies . Most are no more anti-government than were Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil-rights advocates who rightly opposed Jim Crow policies. They occupied moral ground far higher than the immoral swamp occupied by today's alt-righters and their ilk. That doesn't change the fact that both groups staunchly object to particular government policies.

And just as civil-rights advocates remain happy to use government to enforce policies they favor, today's white nationalists and alt-righters would be happy to use government to enforce segregationist and related policies. In this way, the Charlottesville mob was not anti-government.

Charlottesville's most famous son, Thomas Jefferson, was in a real way decidedly anti-government — that of Great Britain. In 1776, he so deeply objected to British policies that he risked his life attempting to escape British rule. Yet America's third president did not oppose all government.

Clearly no anarchist, Jefferson actively helped to strengthen the government that replaced the one he was instrumental in displacing. Yet lifelong he remained, in another way, “anti-government.” One common use of this term today describes libertarians (and some conservatives) who, like Jefferson, want small government, limited in reach. This “anti-government” stance differs radically from the “anti-government” stance of alt-righters, white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

A libertarian's — a Jeffersonian's — “anti-government” stance reflects mainly a strong presumption against using force to direct peaceful people's affairs. The libertarian objects first and foremost not to particular policies of a large and constitutionally unconstrained government, but to its very existence. Even if such a government were today to behave in no ways that the libertarian finds objectionable, he remains opposed to it, understanding that such power is destined to be abused.

Of course, the libertarian is indeed “anti” many specific government policies — tariffs, subsidies, minimum wages, occupational licensing, K-12 schools' funding and operations. This “anti-government” stance reflects no prejudice against an ethnic group, no favoritism for a culture or way of life. It reflects prejudice only against using power to secure special privileges, favoritism only for maximum scope to live, work and play as individuals peacefully choose. It is, in short, a pro -individual-liberty policy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Just About Covers It

The Benefits of Free Trade Are Evident (Unless You're A Politician)

Well, for corporations too which tend to be, or want to be, monopolistic.  Any, here's the inestimable Alasdair MacLeod on the subject, in The Fiscal Benefits of Free Trade:
Western governments have an overriding problem, and that is they have reached or exceeded the bounds of taxation, at a time when legally mandated welfare costs are accelerating. Treasury departments in all the welfare nations are acutely aware of this problem, to which there’s no apparent solution. The economic recovery, so consistently forecast since the great financial crisis, has hardly materialised and has added to the problem.

There is, if treasury economists could only understand it, a solution in free trade.

One of the UK’s leading economists and Brexiteers, Patrick Minfordi, produced an interesting paper, which brought up this subject. It got little coverage in the press, and even that was extremely negative. Trading on the Future was the only economic modelling exercise that showed significant benefits for Britain from free trade.ii

This is the headline from the Independent (19 April): “Only economic study showing benefits of Brexit debunked as ‘doubly misleading’.” The establishment, which is not attuned to free trade, strongly disagreed and presumably felt bound to protect its position.

The problem with Professor Minford’s paper is that he was compelled, by standard macroeconomic practice, to model the economy under different scenarios. It then becomes a debate about whose model is right, as opposed to which economic theory is right. We all know the old saw about computer models and garbage in and garbage out, so defending statistical assumptions becomes little more than a slanging match. And if all the models but one agree, who is going to take the one seriously?

This diverts attention from the excellent points that Professor Minford makes separately from his model, which broadly concur with common sense. Common sense, in this context is properly reasoned economic theory in terms capable of being understood by one’s fellow man. That it has long been abandoned by the macroeconomic establishment is a theme which will be familiar to my readers.

Professor Minford argues that free trade lowers prices for the benefit of the consumer. If tariffs are removed, it is a statement of the obvious. After all, a tariff is a tax on consumption, and if the tax is not imposed, prices will be lower. Furthermore, the competition triggered by a national market being opened to more foreign manufacturers is likely to drive prices down even more. The consumer benefits from free trade, and with the same wages, he can buy more goods and services.

The boost to the economy from lower consumer prices is an excellent result, with clear fiscal benefits. But hold on; are not higher prices, the objective of monetary policy, the only thing that gets the consumer buying? Professor Minford, to ordinary intelligent men, makes sense. But to the establishment economists in their ivory towers this is no less than insurrection against their cherished assumptions.

The ridiculousness of the establishment view on prices is easily illustrated. Imagine your local supermarket offers its customers tins of baked beans at half price. Presumably, it expects to increase its sales of tins of baked beans sufficiently to increase its profits. And indeed, they fly off the shelves. This, according to the belief-driven theories of establishment economists, should not happen. If the supermarket wishes to stimulate buying of tins of baked beans, it should raise prices to persuade customers that they should buy before the price rises again. It truly is a subject for a latter-day Lewis Carroll.

With this sort of thinking prevalent in the corridors of power, it should be obvious why Professor Minford’s arguments must be taken seriously. We must get away from opinions based on garbage-fed economic models. Furthermore, the cabinet ministers directly involved in Brexit and trade negotiations appear to be more instinctively inclined than their Treasury colleagues to think along Professor Minford’s lines. There is a winnable case to be made.

The thesis is very simple, and has good historical precedent. In the mid-nineteenth century, the British government repealed the Corn Laws and then disposed of all trade tariffs, without waiting for other countries to reduce theirs. Lower food prices meant that instead of just working to feed himself, the average worker had some money left over in his wages to buy other things. Consequently, the standard of living for the ordinary person improved, and employment in manufacturing increased with it.

This is the basic argument behind Professor Minford’s paper. You don’t need a computer model to understand it. But for the government, the most important advantage is that repeating the Corn Law experiment in today’s modern economy will produce higher tax revenues on the back of the economic benefits. Professor Minford estimates this will generate an increase of 7.3% of tax revenue for the British treasury, which in another paper he put at £47.5bn, including the £8bn annual payments to the EU that will cease. This solves the UK’s budget deficit, which in the last fiscal year was slightly less than that at £46.6bn, but expected to be somewhat more in the current fiscal year.

You would think the Treasury would welcome free trade on this basis, but it appears the Chancellor’s advisors are still stuck with the economic establishment’s groupthink, the views that incorrectly modelled an economic disaster post-Brexit. However, that could change, particularly given the carrot of increased tax revenue. If I was an advisor to HM Treasury that is the aspect of Brexit I would promote.

If, and when, the Treasury are fully on board then all Brexit controversy at government level should end. And as Professor Minford argues, there is little Britain can do about the EU’s future trade policy with the UK, making prolonged and detailed negotiations somewhat pointless. If they want to hang themselves, that is up to them.

Nowhere is this more obvious than the debate about border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic. A free trade policy will mean no border controls on the British side. Only yesterday, the British government confirmed that this is their intention. If the Republic of Ireland decides to put in customs posts and split Ireland into two, going against their long-standing desire to unite the North and South, so be it.

Trumpian blunders

The point about government revenue being maximised by free trade also has important implications for America, where President Trump has strong leanings towards protectionism. This runs counter to the benefits of free trade maximising tax revenue. Yet this year, once again, debt ceilings are having to be raised, and escalating future welfare liabilities are rapidly becoming today’s problem. Given what we know by applying our common sense, that free trade increases economic activity, and therefore maximises tax revenue on the back of it, trade protectionism is not the way to achieve President Trump’s stated goal of making America great again.

From the fiscal point of view, it should be clear that restrictive trade practices amount to shooting oneself in the foot. Sentiment and catchy slogans are one thing, government mercantilism another. America has been here before, back in the 1930s, when the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, driven by the Trumpian sentiment at that time, made a bad situation considerably worse.

Its introduction meant that manufacturing costs increased due to tariffs being raised on over 20,000 imported goods, many of them vital to production. At the same time, consumer prices were collapsing in the crisis phase of the credit cycle. By widening the gap between production costs and consumer prices, Smoot-Hawley made the depression both deeper and longer than it would otherwise be.

Commodity prices at that time were measured in gold, through the dollar-gold exchange standard at $20.67 per ounce. If commodity prices collapse again, it will be reflected in gold’s rising purchasing power, not the dollar’s, which will be in free-fall. The dollar will plummet because we can be certain the Fed will redouble its efforts to expand the quantity of dollar money, because that is its mandate from the government.

Globally, free trade is taking over

The days when trade protectionism was enforced on everyone else by America, or the EU for that matter, are over. WTO rules, which are the base-case for trade not regulated by agreements, are not substantially different from free trade, an average tariff burden of four or five percent on manufactured goods. This is much less that currency volatility. These are the conditions that have allowed emerging markets to prosper, not only through trade with the advanced economies, but increasingly between each other. Consequently, they have become far more important relative to the developed nations in the global context. North America, the EU and Japan are currently about 54% of the global economy’s GDP, having been 72% in 2000. America itself has declined from 31% to less than 25% of world GDP over the same time-frame.

The election of President Trump, who is regarded by foreign nations as unsupportive of international agreements, such as NATO climate change and the rest, or just plain unpredictable, has loosened the ties between America and her long-standing allies. He tells Germany that selling cars in America is unfair, and expects Germany to implement American trade sanctions against Russia, a lucrative and growing market for her. There are credible reports that Germany is unofficially discussing trade matters with Russia, and we should not be surprised.

Germany, now that Britain is leaving, will dominate the EU. She is likely to use free trade to her advantage, bound by but no longer relying on Brussels to negotiate trade agreements. Japan’s corporations have most of their factories spread throughout South-East Asia, with an emphasis on China. Britain is almost certain to follow the Asian story post-Brexit, with the additional bonus of natural markets in the Commonwealth.

There is little doubt therefore that Japan, the EU and Britain will refocus their trade from an isolationist USA towards a dynamic Asia and the rest of the world. In the event President Trump introduces a latter-day Smoot-Hawley, the effect on the rest of the world would be relatively minor, compared with the experience of the 1930s. Most harmed will be the American consumer, and the US Treasury.

Alarmingly, there are powerful elements in the Trump administration determined to use trade as a weapon in the fight for global hegemon. Only yesterday (16 August) Steve Bannon (the White House chief strategist) gave an interview with The American Prospect which quoted him as saying “To me, the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that.” His stall on trade could not be laid out more clearly.

It’s not only America that sacrifices free trade, but other advanced nations do as well, for differing reasons. The resistance to free trade is essentially political. Big business, which tends to be monopolistic, lobbies for protectionism, disliking competition. After all, if you have a factory making simple widgets in France, paying all the social taxes, and stuck with restrictive work practices, foreign competition without those cost burdens is likely to put you out of business. It is not difficult to get politicians to increase trade tariffs and barriers to protect jobs.

Put another way, the profitable redeployment of capital has become increasingly inefficient in all the welfare states. If widgets are no longer being bought, the factory in France will close, unless government subsidises unprofitable production, which it always does. In Asia, if widgets are no longer wanted in the markets, workers are retrained and redeployed to make something else. The release of labour resources to more productive employment is welcomed, while in countries like France it is strongly resisted. China, and the other countries in South-East Asia, have a far more positive attitude to business and trade, and it shows.

Free trade, or what passes for it under WTO rules, is now driving the global economy, coupled with improvements in communications, technology and automation. The losers are those who will not or cannot adapt to this reality. The EU will be forced to adapt, because Germany will set the pace. No matter the European countries that don’t keep up will go bankrupt – Germany is paying the bills anyway.

Meanwhile, America, pursuing her political and geopolitical agendas is cutting herself off from this future. The decline in her share of world trade will continue, and even accelerate as President Trump calls forth the ghosts of Senator Smoot and Representative Hawley.

i Professor Minford currently holds the chair of Applied Economics at Cardiff University. He also chairs Economists for Free Trade.

ii Published by Politeia, April 2017. See www.politeia.co.uk/category/publications/brexit