Archive for the ‘War’ Category

What’s in a Name?

I find it interesting that some in the anti-gun crowd are attempting to change the label assigned to AR-15 pattern rifles from “assault weapons” to “weapons of war*.”  As AmidsTheNoise eloquently explains in the video below, this is no accident.

But this shift in terminology, perhaps inadvertently, highlights an important point.  Our country has been at war continuously for over 11 years.  We now have an entire generation of kids who are coming of age barely having known anything else.  These kids have grown up being indoctrinated in the morality of “preventive war” – what people in previous generations would have called “aggressive war”.  We have taught an entire generation of kids that turning to violence is a legitimate first step in resolving disputes.  We glorify the state.  We glorify the troops.  We glorify war.  Why would we be surprised that people of this generation would use “weapons of war” to glorify themselves?

This is the society that those who believe in the unquestionable righteousness of the state have built.  As has been the virtually uninterrupted pattern throughout our history, proposals to fix problems caused by entrusting too much power to the state all center around further expansion of state power!  Of course, expansion of state power always comes at the expense of personal liberty.

A great misconception exists that tyranny always comes fully formed and ready to enslave a population.  In fact, this is almost never the case.  Rather, it arrives in step-wise fashion and is often only recognized when it is too late.

*Personally, I propose we start calling them “Emergency Life-Saving Devices.”

Disgusting Hypocrisy

69 children(!) were killed in a SINGLE drone attack in 2006.  The total number of children killed in the CIA’s covert drone war in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia since 2004 is  214.  The US has even targeted first-responders who attempted to help the innocent victims!

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Drone attacks and victims.

Recently, three small Afghan children were drone bombed to death while gathering dung for fuel.  Can you even imagine?  You have so little that you have to send your kids out to collect dung for the rest of the family.  Then, some God-damned robot sent by the richest country on Earth takes that away from you!

The hypocrisy of our government in feigning sadness over the loss of innocent life is disgusting enough, but then again, I expect such loathsome behavior from our ruling class.  What’s worse, is the people who look to these vermin for comfort and solutions.  “Solutions” that do not address any root cause, because, of course, no root cause analysis will ever be done that isn’t tainted by political agendas.

 

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Pakistani children offer condolences to the victims of Newtown, CT

One thing I’m sure of:  Relinquishing our hard-won rights to an organization with, as Scott Horton likes to say, an “Olympic-sized swimming pool” worth of innocent blood on their hands is not the answer.

War, The Economy, and the Fed

War is expensive.  VERY expensive.  It’s also a racket.  Paying for it can be done in a couple of ways.  One is to raise taxes.  However, if every man, woman, and child had to fork over $16,000 as their true cost for the wars, chances are good that the conflict would stop fairly quickly due to public outrage.  Since 1913 and the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank, the preferred method is for our leaders to simply print the money they need by purchasing government debt.  Under this system, the costs to the public are transferred in less obvious ways, such as debasement of the currency (inflation) and time spent in the unemployment line.   In fact, an argument can be made that this one of the main purposes of the Federal Reserve.

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As Austrian Economic theory explains, the business cycle is caused by central banks holding interest rates below their true market levels which encourages mal-investment throughout the economy.  Because interest rates are low, entrepreneurs see this as a signal that savings are plentiful.  With money easy to borrow, they begin funneling this new cash into capital-intensive projects.  This easy money can be funneled into all sorts of bubble activity: stocks, dot-coms, houses, government bonds.  Unfortunately, the entrepreneurs who started building strip malls, houses, whatever, eventually learn the painful truth: that the low interest rates were not a signal that savings were plentiful and that there would be a future market for their product, but that there really wasn’t enough savings in the economy to justify these projects at all.  These bubble activities are fueled entirely by debt and easy money which has to be paid back at some point.  When the bills come due, and there’s no money to pay, the whole scheme begins to unravel.

What does this have to do with war?  While the money is flowing freely, and people are feeling prosperous despite the growing mountain of debt-driven pseudo-wealth – i.e buying more house than they can afford – they don’t really pay attention to the atrocities that are occurring overseas in their name.  The Fed’s money printing, therefore, serves two nefarious political objectives:  It allows for expansion of the empire and redistribution of money to the military industrial complex while obscuring the true costs from the public.

There has been a lot of discussion in Washington regarding the debt ceiling lately.  Ever wonder why that is an issue and how it all started?  I’ll let Peter Schiff explain (emphasis mine):

The debt ceiling itself is both an ill-conceived compromise and a relic of past governmental integrity. For its first 128 years as a republic, the United States was able to function without a debt ceiling. This was possible for the simple reason that U.S. government had no central bank and could not borrow beyond its ability to repay through taxation. And since the ability to tax is always limited by taxpayers’ assets (and their extreme hostility to those who want to take them), legal gimmicks were not needed to prevent Congress from spending too freely. But the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 gave the Federal Government a potential means to borrow indefinitely by having the new bank buy its debt. Sensing this danger, the original Federal Reserve Act of 1913 prohibited the Fed from buying or holding government debt.

But just four years later the United States needed a means to raise money quickly to pay for its efforts in the First World War. The government passed an amendment to the charter to allow the Fed to purchase Treasury Bonds. Fearing (correctly) that this would create a mechanism for perpetual debt expansion, conservative lawmakers insisted that the amendment include a “debt ceiling” provision that would cap the amount that the government could borrow.

What these otherwise forward looking politicians somehow failed to grasp was that such a statutory limit was wholly meaningless, as it could be perpetually raised by future legislative action. This is exactly what has happened. The debt ceiling has been raised, with varying degrees of fanfare, every time it has been hit. This renders the law completely meaningless.

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As Schiff points out, within the first four years of the new bank’s existence, it was used to fund the largest and bloodiest war up to that point in human history.  Since then, it has gone on to create multiple boom-bust cycles that somehow just happen to coincide with the U.S’s overseas adventures:  Following WWI, we had the panic of 1920-1921*, Vietnam and increased welfare spending gave us the stagflation of the ’70s, the first Iraq war created an economy that was so depressed it cost George H.W. Bush his re-election.

In more recent history, when Bill Clinton’s dot-com bubble burst, it gave us the recession of 2000.  After George W. Bush took office, he rightfully blamed Clinton for the sorry state of the economy.  Then 9/11 happened and the U.S. decided to launch two wars.  In addition to his war spending, Bush maintained all welfare state programs and even added the incredibly costly Medicare Part D.  Somehow, during this time, people were, nevertheless, feeling quite prosperous.  Large new homes were being built at a frantic pace.  People with no jobs were getting low-interest loans.  SUVs were selling as fast as they could be produced.  The government was even sending us checks as “stimulus” and encouraged us to go shopping.

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How is it that while the country was mired in two wars and paying more than ever for welfare, people could still spend with impunity?  The Federal Reserve had the money machine going nearly full-blast the whole time**.  This is what caused the crash of 2008 that we are still suffering from today.  Those who understood the Austrian theory of the business cycle saw it coming years before.  The printing of fiat currency does not equal wealth – it only serves to make us all poorer.

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*By the way, no one has ever heard of the depression of 1920-1921.  Why?  Simply because it was over so quickly and the reason doesn’t fit the narrative the advocates of big government would like you to believe.  At the time the panic began to unfold, the advice given to President Harding by his treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, was to do nothing.  That’s right, NOTHING.  The government, in concert with the Federal Reserve bank caused the problem – to fix it, they needed to back off and allow the market to reallocate resources that were mal-invested during the boom.  Failure to allow the market to reallocate capital through government interference is the reason the Great Depression lasted so long and is the reason why our current recession is lasting so long.

**Now that Ben Bernanke has embarked on QE-Infinity, the money machines really are going full-blast.

This post was inspired by Scott Horton, Lew Rockwell, and Ron Paul.

Crazy

A damning dossier assembled from exhaustive research into the [drone] strikes’ targets sets out in heartbreaking detail the deaths of teachers, students and Pakistani policemen. It also describes how bereaved relatives are forced to gather their loved ones’ dismembered body parts in the aftermath of strikes….

…According to a report last month by academics at Stanford and New York universities, between 2,562 and 3,325 people have been killed since the strikes in Pakistan began in 2004.

The report said of those, up to  881 were civilians, including 176  children. Only 41 people who had  died had been confirmed as ‘high-value’ terrorist targets. (Full Article)

Why doesn’t this bother people?  Seems to me blowing up children should pretty much be universally condemned.  Instead of indicting the person ultimately responsible for war crimes, believe it or not, some Americans are actually trying to get the guy re-elected!  I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s true!  I guess they feel like, “Oh, it really sucks about those little kids, but we need this guy’s help so we can steal from others to fund our wonderful welfare programs.  You know, ’cause we care so much about people!”  OK, I guess that’s a fair trade then.  Carry on.

“…the people who push the buttons to fire the missiles call these strikes “bug-splats”

But jeez man, better be careful.  Those guys over there are all crazy extremists!  For some reason, one or two of them might not appreciate having their little brother blown up by a robot.  They might even hold a grudge and could say and do hurtful things directed at us.  Don’t they know they’re supposed to greet foreign invaders with open arms and treat them as liberators?  Don’t they know they are being bombed for their own good?  Don’t they realize that history began on 9/11?  You see, these types can’t be reasoned with.  They clearly have some sort of blind hatred for us because we’re so good and so free and like reality TV shows.  Crazy.

“I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we think if we were –if other foreign countries were doing that to us?” – Ron Paul during a 2007 presidential primary debate.

Post 2012 Election Update (11/9/12):

To all the Obama supporters, I’m just going to say this because it needs to be said:  The life of one innocent child, even if they happen to live on the other side of the world, is not worth your stupid Obamacare or whatever other thieving redistributionist reason you had for voting for Obama.  I used to wonder how the German people could allow their Nazi government to kill so many people, I don’t anymore.

Child Killer In Chief

I like to think of my friends and family as decent people who would never knowingly support a mass-murdering criminal like Barack Obama.  I had a family member say to me recently that she could never support Romney because of his offshore bank accounts!  Why, that’s just un-American!  Hmm… Obama has murdered innocent people pretty much every day that he’s been in office, including an innocent 16-year old American boy, but Romney’s offshore account is just beyond the pale.

16-year old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki from Colorado. Murdered by one of Obama’s drones while he was on a Disney-like quest to find his father in Yemen.

Unless people will truly support Obama regardless of what he does – ‘cause he’s just that dreamy – I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I suppose it is possible that people genuinely don’t realize the extent of the evil he is guilty of.  Let’s review, shall we? (from Anthony Gregory):

He shoveled money toward corporate America, banks and car manufacturers. He championed the bailouts of the same Wall Street firms his very partisans blamed for the financial collapse. He picked the CEO of General Electric to oversee the unemployment problem. He appointed corporate state regulars for every major role in financial central planning. After guaranteeing a new era of transparency, he conducted all his regulatory business behind a shroud of unprecedented secrecy. He planned his health care scheme, the crown jewel of his domestic agenda, in league with the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

He continued the war in Iraq, even extending Bush’s schedule with a goal of staying longer than the last administration planned. He tripled the U.S. presence in Afghanistan then took over two years to announce the eventual drawdown to bring it back to only double the Bush presence. He widened the war in Pakistan, launching drone attacks at a dizzying pace. He started a war on false pretenses with Libya, shifting the goal posts and doing it all without Congressional approval. He bombed Yemen and lied about it.

He enthusiastically signed on to warrantless wiretapping, renditioning, the Patriot Act, prison abuse, detention without trial, violations of habeas corpus, and disgustingly invasive airport security measures. He deported immigrants more than Bush did. He increased funding for the drug war in Mexico. He invoked the Espionage Act more than all previous presidents combined, tortured a whistleblower, and claimed the right to unilaterally kill any U.S. citizen on Earth without even a nod from Congress or a shrug from the courts.

If you’re a leftist who’s planning to vote for Obama because you find Romney and his cabal of neocon advisors even more nauseating, a part of me can sympathize with you.  In no way do I want this to come off as an endorsement of Romney.  Hell, he may even be the worst option of the two as he seems much more likely to get the US into a war with Iran with his buddy Netanyahu.  My point is this: don’t accept the murder, the contempt for the bill of rights, the cronyism.  Don’t accept the false dichotomy. You don’t have to choose between two evils – there is a better way

I’ll close with the words of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki’s grandfather as he condemns the president:

“I urge the American people to bring the killers to justice. I urge them to expose the hypocrisy of the 2009 Nobel Prize laureate. To some, he may be that. To me and my family, he is nothing more than a child killer.”

Targeting Civilians

One of the great tragedies of Democracy is that it breeds the notion that the actions of the ruling class represent the general will of the people.  From this line of thought comes the practice of total war which helped to make the 20th century the bloodiest in history.  Regardless of whether or not each individual finds their own government’s foreign policy deplorable, they are nevertheless targeted as being enablers of these policies.

The British arguably began the modern practice of targeting of a civilian population en masse with their naval blockade of Germany during and after WWI which starved somewhere around a half-million people.  In more recent history, the US had employed this tactic by imposing crippling sanctions on Iraq from 1990 through 2003 which largely affected the most vulnerable members of a population – the very young and the very old.  Most studies report somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 excess child deaths due to a combination of direct killings from bombings, infrastructure damage from these bombings affecting sanitation, and the economic sanctions themselves.  When asked about these tactics and their cost in terms of innocent lives, former UN ambassador and former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright infamously remarked, “The price is worth it.”

For some time now, the US has been repeating history by imposing sanctions on Iran that are mainly affecting cancer patients, hemophiliacs, and other vulnerable members of their society.  The sanctions have been put in place to penalize Iran for a nuclear weapons program which all 16 US intelligence agencies agree does not exist.  Through their connections and privileged status, the people who are the ultimate targets of these sanctions, the governing elite, never have any trouble acquiring the goods and services they need.  While admittedly not as severe as the Iraqi sanctions, the US is essentially waging a war on sick Iranians who, I’m sure, aren’t as concerned about the geopolitics of their rulers as they are about knowing whether or not they might get to see their kids grow up.

These acts of war targeting a civilian population are typically instituted with the hope that the people will eventually rise-up in anger against their own government and effect a regime-change.  To believe this, one has to completely disregard the lessons learned from the Iraqi sanctions which did nothing to achieve their stated goals and instead likely contributed to the blowback of 9/11.  If you believe that foreigners targeting civilians in an effort to make them change the policies of their own government is an effective strategy, let me ask you this:  Towards whom did the American people direct their anger after they were attacked on 9/11?

Letter to a Political Agnostic

Last week I found myself in a political discussion with an in-law.  I know, bad move, but I honestly didn’t start it!  The next day I received a link to this video from the person I had spoken with:

During our discussion, I felt like I wasn’t given an opportunity to clearly present my position so I wrote the  letter below as a response….

(Spoiler Alert: skip the fourth and fifth bullet points at the end if you haven’t finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy)

Forgive me for sending you so long a letter, which perhaps you did not at all need, but I have long wished to express  my views on this question. I even began a long article about it, but I shall hardly have time to finish it before death comes, and therefore I wished to get at least part of it said. Forgive me if I am in error about anything.

– Leo Tolstoy

There are certain things in life that simply don’t make sense unless you first establish the correct principles or guiding philosophy to explain your observations.  Physics has relativity and Newtonian motion.  As Theodosius Dobzhansky said, “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”  Medicine has the germ theory of disease.  Economics doesn’t make sense unless you understand the framework established by the Austrian School.  By that same token, many of the things politicians do don’t make sense until you start viewing government as a “gang of thieves writ large” (Rothbard).

As I mentioned, my guiding philosophy is the non-aggression axiom, which states that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else except, of course, in self-defense.  As Murray Rothbard explains, the Libertarian political philosophy, which all stems from this statement, is the only one that is consistent:

In current terminology again, the libertarian position on property and economics would be called “extreme right wing.” But the libertarian sees no inconsistency in being “leftist” on some issues and “rightist” on others. On the contrary, he sees his own position as virtually the only consistent one, consistent on behalf of the liberty of every individual.  For how can the leftist be opposed to the violence of war and conscription while at the same time supporting the violence of taxation and government control?  And how can the rightist trumpet his devotion to private property and free enterprise while at the same time favoring war, conscription, and the outlawing of noninvasive activities and practices that he deems immoral?  And how can the rightist favor a free market while seeing nothing amiss in the vast subsidies, distortions, and unproductive inefficiencies involved in the military-industrial complex?

– Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty

After watching the video you sent, I must admit that I’m somewhat confused.  If you understand what was presented in the video, why was there a disagreement about welfare programs, for example?  The idea that the state can provide security and eliminate risk out of life is, as we agreed, a total fallacy.  The best you can hope to do is to provide a system which enables the maximum opportunities for success.  This has been conclusively proven to be free-market capitalism.

The ideas of socialism/fascism*/collectivism have been widely and thoroughly repudiated. It’s not as though there aren’t enough examples.  Greece is one.  But the world has also had wide-scale, open-air experiments using people of similar education, upbringing, and cultural values called East/West Germany and North/South Korea that demonstrate what scholars such as Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek had been telling us all along – that by necessity, these systems lead to totalitarianism, poverty, and enslavement.  For some reason, the average American believes that to fix our current socialist/fascist* institutions we need more of the same, good and hard.  They believe that somehow we will finally figure out how to accomplish what no other society in the history of civilization has: how to enable everyone to live at everyone else’s expense. (Bastiat)

When we spoke, you were also troubled over Social Security.  Social Security is the very definition of a Ponzi scheme.  What happened to people who were taken in by Bernie Madoff?  They made a bad bet and paid the price.  If someone is betting their retirement on the hope that they will be able to cash out before the scheme implodes, that’s their fault.  Ah, but you say that SS is compulsory, they have no choice – and in doing so, you have just shown why it is immoral and evil.  People who might have otherwise successfully saved or invested the money are at risk of being destitute because the scheme they were forced into, under threat of violence, WILL fail.  At least with Madoff, it was a voluntary transaction.  Oh sure, the government may try to meet their obligations by printing money, but once you go far enough down that road you end up with Weimar Germany or Zimbabwe – plenty of currency that can’t buy anything. (Although, for a variety of reasons this is unlikely to happen, but it’s not impossible.)

A major problem that we have is the ideological inconsistencies of Democrats and Republicans that Rothbard alluded to in the quote above.  Republicans are supposedly for smaller government – although history shows that they have done nothing but expand it greatly – but also want to maintain a belligerent empire.  You can’t have it both ways.  Frankly, arguing about needing more fiscal responsibility and smaller government while supporting an empire and constant war is inconsistent at best and idiotic at worst.  War and militarism are synonymous with a large and tyrannical government.  I have no hope of liberals abandoning their welfare programs – this is how they ensure their constituency.  My only hope is that true conservatives will wake up and realize that you can’t have any of the other things you purport to value while starting wars all over the world.  EVERY empire crumbles – anyone with even a passing knowledge of history knows this.

On the other side, Democrats generally want more welfare programs, and Obama has given it to them while simultaneously expanding the war in Afghanistan, starting another completely illegal one in Libya, and increasing drone strikes in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia (which have killed far more innocents than combatants creating, according to former General Stanley McChrystal, 10 new enemies for each innocent death).  Leftists like to think of themselves as caring and benevolent people, but let me ask, does this seem like a moral, effective, or even financially viable plan?  It’s easy enough for them to deflect attention away from these unpleasantries, I suppose – all they have to do is buy votes by expanding the welfare state to show just how righteous they are.  At the end of the day, however, their guy is the one that unilaterally decided to execute three American citizens (including a 16 year old) without a trial or even formal charges and maintains a “kill list”, signed the NDAA effectively deleting the 5th amendment, and killed hundreds of innocents via robot.  Besides, it’s considered compassion when you reach into your own pocket to help, not when you reach into someone else’s.  Theft, murder, and cronyism -the hallmarks of both parties.

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Endless expansion of welfare and warfare does not a prosperous country make.   Ironically, if the US wasn’t so busy creating enemies around the globe, there might actually be a chance of paying for some of these domestic programs.  The only reason we have been able to get away with all this for longer than some of the EU countries is that we enjoy the privilege of having the world’s reserve currency and the machine that prints it.  Eventually, that won’t be good enough.

And this brings me to the engine that is driving all of the welfare, warfare, debt, and ultimately the country off a cliff: the Fed.  The Federal Reserve Bank, untethered by a gold standard, is free to create as much currency as they want all so that some politician can start wars, buy votes, redistribute money to favored industries or constituencies, bail-out and/or nationalize “too big to fail” firms, or all of the above.  Since the Fed’s creation in 1913, the dollar has lost over 97% of its value.  The founding fathers knew this would happen and that’s why the Constitution does not allow a central bank.  It’s also why the first two times it was tried it was dissolved.  There are many reasons why you can’t call our current economic system free-market capitalism, but the most important is the Fed’s manipulation of the money supply prevents the rational decision-making required in a free market.  He who controls money controls the economy.

When I said, “either you believe in Liberty and freedom or you don’t,” you said I was making the issue black and white.  I contend that this is not an over simplification.  The moment you accept the principle the that government has rights that we do not have as individuals – to enslave people (and call it conscription), steal from people (and call it taxation or inflation), counterfeit money (and call it monetary policy), murder people (and call it foreign policy) – you can justify virtually any expansion of this power, as we have seen throughout our own history and indeed world history.  Every government wants to become totalitarian – it is in their nature.  The only thing that restrains them is the unwillingness of the people to go along with their power-grabs.  This changes during times of crisis when the people clamor to be led to safety.  As Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel famously stated, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”  This is why there is always a war to be fought or bogeymen to hunt.  Freedom and Liberty can only survive with unwavering dedication to their principles.

By the way, what were your takeaways from “The Hunger Games” trilogy?  In my mind, that trilogy is basically an anti-war, anti-government, libertarian manifesto:

  • Kids, without any mutual grudges, are forced to kill one another to effect a consolidation of power within the governing elite – i.e. war.
  • Districts are pitted against one another as a form of the age old imperial tactic of divide and rule – i.e. destabilize the middle east and let the various sects fight it out.
  • When the citizens are allowed to insert additional instances of their name into the tribute lottery in exchange for grain, it is a form of welfare and equates to slavery and death.  Katniss’ self-reliance and resourcefulness means freedom and life.
  • The Capitol and District 13 represent the logical conclusions of right-wing and left-wing ideologies, respectively.
  • Prim’s death was described almost exactly like the US drone strikes on first-responders in Pakistan.

I know by now you are probably thinking, “this guy is crazy.”  To that charge, I answer with a quote from Homer Simpson: “In a world gone mad, only a lunatic is truly insane.”

*When I use the term “Fascism”, it is not hyperbolic.  It’s true that this is typically a term of derision in our lexicon, however, it does represent an actual economic system that describes what we currently have better than anything else.