Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Myth of the Anti-War Democrats

First their dear leader blocks impeachment hearings, and now they write George W. Bush yet another blank check for the Iraq War.

My hunch is that by the time the general election rolls around, any anti-war activists left in the Democratic party will by that point have become so frustrated and fed up that they'll flock to Nader or some other independent candidate who states in no uncertain terms that they would exit all U.S. troops from Iraq post haste.

Which means that John McCain will be elected the next president of the United States. And considering that the bill currently pending in the Democratic congress seeks to fund the war through the first six months of the next president's first year in office, I'll wager he'll feel just like a little boy on Christmas morning come Jan. 20, 2009.

Iron Fist to the Rescue!

This cartoon is awesome.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mmmm...I'm Feeling So "Stimulated"...

Thank goodness for the wise and compassionate leaders of the neoconliberal corporatist state:

"President George W. Bush said tax rebates will start going out Monday, earlier than previously announced, and should help Americans cope with rising gasoline and food prices, as well as aid a slumping U.S. economy...

"...'Starting Monday, the effects of the stimulus will begin to reach millions of households across our country,' Bush said Friday in remarks at the White House.

"Those first rebates will be directly deposited into people's bank accounts. The Internal Revenue Service had been saying direct deposits wouldn't start until next Friday. Bush said paper checks would begin going out on May 9, a week earlier than previously announced.

"'The money is going to help Americans offset the high prices we're seeing at the gas pump, the grocery store, and also give our economy a boost to help us pull out of this economic slowdown,' Bush said...

"Bush has suggested the rebates could trigger a spending spree. 'When the money reaches the American people, we expect they will use it to boost consumer spending,' he said last month."

First of all, for anyone to be calling this aspect of the federal government's "economic stimulus" scheme a "rebate" is a huge misnomer for a number of reasons. It's sufficient to say that if you're the U.S. federal government, you're allowed to run nearly $9.4 trillion in the red and still "rebate" $146 billion to your "customers" or "stakeholders" or whatever managerial technocrat-babble euphemism they're calling victims of theft these days.

But regardless, Bush is probably correct that tax rebates will be spent by consumers as soon as they receive them, and that they will most likely spend their newly printed government checks on such ever-more-costly staples as food and fuel. And this may very well help them muddle through for awhile. But what happens as that $146 billion works its way through the market pricing system? Anyone want to guess what will eventually happen?

I'll wager that food and fuel prices will rise even more, as will other commodity prices. This is typically what happens when consumers are "trigger[ed]" into "a spending spree," to "boost consumer spending." This sudden injection of $146 billion will cause the dollar to be worth even less than it is now. Short-term consumption will indeed be up, but that means overall savings will be even thinner than at present. Not only will we be right back to square one, we'll be in even worse shape than we were before. This is no surprise to anyone who understands one of the major factors that caused the ongoing rise in food and fuel prices in the first place.

But why should we expect a Harvard MBA grad to bother mentioning this? (Should we assume he even knows this?)

The Democrats, however, seem determined not to be outdone by Bush when it comes to disingenuous economic analysis:
"Democrats said they were glad the rebate checks were about to go out, but suggested that multinational oil companies were not among the businesses the stimulus package was originally designed to help...

"...By saying expressly that people could use these one-time checks to pay for such necessities as food and gas, Bush underscored the deepening challenges facing the economy.

"Democrats were quick to pick up on the change of focus.

"'It's galling to think that taxpayers' stimulus checks will be lining the pockets of OPEC. The sad truth is that the average American family will spend almost their entire stimulus check on higher gas prices this year,' said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress."

Are the Democrats suddenly in favor of deregulating and decartelizing the energy industry? Like so much of American industry, the oil industry was largely cartelized in the early-to-middle decades of the 20th century, that is, a federal government regulatory structure was put into place that restricted competition and production, thereby protecting the market share of the largest oil companies by force of government law and enabling those politically privileged players to charge a higher price than they otherwise could in a genuinely free market.

If the Democrats are really so upset about big bad "multinational oil companies" and OPEC raking the consumer over the coals, then perhaps they'd be willing to turn the oil industry over to the free market so that more competitors could offer consumers a better product, thus increasing production and lowering prices. In an energy market free of state-imposed entry barriers, perhaps some enterprising souls will actually come up with the cleaner, more efficient and cheaper alternative fuels that Democrats are always braying for, that is, alternative fuels that consumers actually want, rather than the costly and wasteful alternative fuels they are currently forced by the state to subsidize, such as ethanol, a government program that is yet another causal culprit behind current food shortages and rising food prices.

And perhaps the Democrats would also be willing to abandon the inflationary fiat monetary system of central banking that ultimately results in higher prices across the board.

Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath.

ADDENDUM: I must have been having a massive brainfart to have failed to mention this before, but if Republicans and Democrats are both so concerned about escalating oil prices then they should end their unjust occupation of Iraq, the major catalyst for the chaos and violence that has engulfed that oil-rich country for the past five years.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Revenge of FDR's Ghost

I just sat through an impassioned diatribe by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on The Colbert Report.

Now, I give Mr. Sanders a great deal of credit for just coming right out and saying exactly what he is: A socialist. None of his fellow gangsters would ever be so candid. His rhetoric is no less disturbing for his honesty, however.

He talked about how "we" have to "provide" health care to "everybody," which was greeted by shouts of praise by the studio audience. Who exactly is this "we"? How is this health care to be "provided"? He doesn't explain, of course.

Sanders is a state socialist. That means that if he had his druthers, the power of the government would be greatly expanded to levy even steeper taxes and/or inflate even more than it already does in order to redistribute wealth to an army of institutional bureaucrats who will decide for everyone exactly what type of "health care" they will get, and how and when they will get it.

For all his professed concern for the impoverished of this country, Senator Sanders would gladly and gleefully strengthen the very monopolistic institution that incurs poverty and deprives its subjects--including the poor--of their autonomy, all the while smugly congratulating himself on a job well done.

But at least he's honest about his aims. His colleagues will do exactly what he's calling for, all the while denying that it's any kind of state socialism at all, and the people in this country will sing hosannas to all the "Progress" that's turning them into poor, shit-eating slaves.

On Illusions, Abused and Disabused

It may seem as though I'm his literary agent or something, but I feel compelled to point out that Charles Johnson is on a roll at his RadGeek website.

First, in "Lincoln Scholarship Scholarship", Johnson takes it upon himself to correct statements eminent Lincoln myth debunker Thomas DiLorenzo recently made about an article by George Mason University Ph.D. candidate Phillip W. Magness on a scheme to deport freed slaves to a foreign colony and how it related to Lincoln. It would seem Prof. DiLorenzo got a bit carried away with himself by claiming that Magness "shows that, until his dying day, Dishonest Abe was hard at work trying to organize the colonization (i.e., deportation) of all the freed slaves." Johnson demonstrates that Magness in fact shows no such thing.

Not that you should confuse Johnson with being a "Lincoln idolator." He's nothing of the sort. It's just that, as he writes, there "is no need to jump on any and every opportunity to manufacture new reasons, or to distort scholars’ claims so as to depict the case as being much stronger than the facts warrant, not to mention much stronger than the scholar in question ever claimed it to be. This mad-dog polemical style and partisan misrepresentation of arguments serve nobody."

But what is most certain to rankle the feathers of more than a few constitutional fetishists and assorted mythologizers of the so-called "Founding Fathers" is his dissection of the Jefferson myth. Johnson takes offense (correctly, in my view) to a comment made by another libertarian at another blog implying that central banking is at least equally as bad as chattel slavery, and points out some of the hypocrisies indulged by the author of the wonderful Declaration of Independence, which Johnson regards as "one of the finest and most important political documents written in the history of the world."

Johnson also clarifies Jefferson's opposition to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, that is, to the importation of slaves from abroad. There is no apparent reason to believe that President Jefferson's signing a law banning that inhuman commerce had anything at all to do with some kind of principle. On the contrary, it was effectively an act of government-enforced protection from foreign slave-trade competition so that the slaveholders of Virginia, of which Jefferson was one, could maximize their profits from exporting their slaves to plantations of the U.S. Deep South and the Caribbean.

I think what Johnson is saying here is vitally important. It calls to mind an article by Stefan Molyneux that I had come across fairly recently:
"Imagine a U.S. president who has never traveled east of Paris or fought in a war but who nonetheless claims to possess a deep understanding of how best to deal with military conflicts in the Middle East. During his presidency, he is faced with attacks upon Americans originating from state-supported mujahideen. In order to assuage these attacks, the U.S. government has historically both sold and given arms to the very Middle Eastern government that has been attacking Americans. Naturally, this government then used its new American weaponry to increase the number and severity of its attacks upon Americans. Pundits and intellectuals claim that if war is not declared upon this Middle Eastern government, said government will actually attack America directly.

"Despite achieving office partly due to his isolationist promises to avoid international military entanglements, this president secretly wants to wage war in the Middle East – however, he faces a daunting legal obstacle. The U.S. Constitution denies him the right to declare war; reserving that power to Congress alone. Since he is not certain that Congress will declare war on this Middle Eastern country, this noble President decides to sidestep the legislature and order a 'police operation' that falls just short of all-out war. In this way, he can circumvent the powers of Congress and personally authorize military action in the Middle East.


"Does this sound at all familiar?
"May I introduce you, ladies and gentlemen, to Thomas Jefferson?
"The issue that Jefferson faced was state-sponsored piracy originating from what was then called Barbary States. Over 100 American trade ships sailing through the Mediterranean and into the Middle East were on occasion attacked by state-backed pirates – the 'terrorists' of the day. Goods were seized, sailors were held for ransom, and ships were converted to supplement the pirate fleet. Given that 20% of all U.S. exports took this route, it was no small problem.

"All European powers faced the same dilemma, and all but the Americans decided to pay the 'tribute' required for safe passage of their ships, forge the documents of 'safe passage,' or hire the Spanish or Dutch gunboats that made themselves available as a military escort. By the late 18th century, the U.S. treasury was paying out as much as 20% of its annual revenue to the Barbary states – in gold and, perversely, in cannon, gunpowder and gunboats. Not for the last time would America end up going to war against a power it had well-armed prior to the conflict! (Of course, independence from England had robbed U.S. merchants of protection from the British Navy.)

"In other words, one of the costs of doing business in the Middle East included the hiring of military protection, or the paying of 'tribute' in order to secure a safe passage.

"This, of course, was directly analogous to the ever-increasing tariffs and excise taxes that the U.S. government was imposing on its own citizens domestically. Subjecting the movement of goods to 'taxes' is a universal phenomenon of governments throughout history, and around the world.

"Even after paying the 'protection money,' good profits could still be reaped from Middle Eastern trade, particularly in the exchange of cloth for spices. However, U.S. merchants were very keen to shift those costs to the general taxpayer, in order to vastly increase their own profits and to gain a significant competitive edge over foreign merchants. Thus, merchant leaders offered to donate enormous sums to fund the campaigns of political aspirants, in return for their promises to use state funds to pay for military expeditions against the Barbary pirates."

What should one make of this obvious schism between Jefferson's rhetorical commitment to small and limited government with its implicit "separation of powers," and his willingness once in office to circumvent constitutional restraints and use government to the advantage of a small clique of politically privileged merchants at the expense of not-so-privileged taxpayers?

Molyneux posits a theory that I think is logically irrefutable considering the available historic evidence:
"When a man consistently repudiates in action the moral ideals that he professes in theory, we can clearly understand that his moral ideals are only professed as a means of achieving the power to act in opposition to them. If a man claims to love and respect his wife, and then continually abuses her in private, we can understand that his claims of love and devotion are mere 'covers' for his core desire, which is to continue to abuse his wife.

"Thus, since Jefferson claimed that the power to declare war must be reserved for Congress alone, and then attempted to bypass that rule when he became president, it is clear that he had no interest in actually controlling the power of the executive branch of government. His 'ideals' are thus revealed as a shallow form of hypocritical moral manipulation designed to hoodwink the average citizen into believing that Jeffersonian democracy is some sort of protection against the growth of tyranny.

"If I convince others that my political system is designed to prevent tyranny, and then when I gain political power by implementing my system, I assiduously pursue tyrannical powers, it is surely clear to all but the most wilfully [sic] self-blinded that I only spoke of my hostility to tyranny because I wished to be a tyrant. My words were designed to disarm others, to lull their natural scepticism – and thus secure my dominance over them."

To dare write such a thing would strike most Americans as sacrilege of the worst kind. I daresay that many--perhaps even most--American libertarians would take great offense, in light of one libertarian's comment that initially prompted Johnson to write that no, central banking (as oppressive and evil as it is) is not in any way comparable to chattel slavery. Can you possibly imagine what choice words that brand of libertarian would almost reflexively toss off at Molyneux?

The upshot of all this is: It is damn important to get it right. Remove whatever rose-colored glasses that were welded upon your face by years and years of indoctrination by a vast systemic propaganda apparatus consisting of government schooling and the corporate-news media -entertainment-television amusement-complex, and be willing to look at the past with clear and open eyes.

This may be extremely difficult, as I have found in my own experience over the past several years, but for the sake of the gods, do what you must to wrench away those rosy spectacles! If you ever find yourself in any way minimizing what is obviously and clearly the absolutely worst condition that can be inflicted upon a human being by another, in comparison to another tyranny that does not involve forcing you to toil away on someone else's property without pay at the point of a gun, that does not whip and beat you when you decline to behave exactly as your "master" demands, that does not hunt you down and whip and beat you if you dare run away to rightfully claim your natural-born right to be free--alarm bells and red flags should be sounding and flying in every corner of your mind.

If you ever find yourself excusing or rationalizing in any way the clearly and indisputably immoral and unethical actions of one of America's "Founding Generation," actions that involve holding human beings in slave bondage and forcing people to subsidize military action in order to artificially prop up the profits of others who should be bearing the full costs of their own entrepreneurial risks, then alarm bells and red flags should be sounding and flying in every corner of your mind.

Any movement for liberty is a movement for justice, and any movement for justice must necessarily involve an absolutely unfettered, rigorous, disciplined, no-nonsense quest for objective truth if it is indeed serious about the justice it claims to seek. This means that when tracing the many and varied tyrannies of the present back to their historical roots, we make absolutely no excuses and utterly refuse to accept any rationalizations for those historic actors clearly responsible for tipping over the dominoes under which we struggle today.

If this is too much for you, if you fear too much the slaughtering of any of your sacred cows, then you are most likely a part of the problem and not the solution.

See also: Johnson's most recent post, "The Ludlow Massacre".

ADDENDUM: I previously forgot to mention two great posts by Johnson questioning some libertarians' perceptions of Robert E. Lee: "Robert E. Lee Owned Slaves and Defended Slavery", and "Lost Causes". Both are must-reads. If you have the time, work your way through the labyrinthine comment threads of those posts, in which Johnson demonstrates the patience of Job in refuting one irrelevant strawman argument after another.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Revolution Will Begin In 5 Minutes...

Charles Johnson (he of RadGeek.com) has just helped to found a Southern Nevada chapter of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left. Their first blow against The Man was a precision literature strike of the Las Vegas area.

Johnson writes, "I think that global popular revolution is scheduled for sometime after next March."

Next March? That's eleven months away. I never figured him to be such a pessimist...

Be sure to check out the fab flyers, copying/modification of which Johnson encourages for similar revolutionary activity in your theater of operations.

No Time For Old Nihilists

The wife and I just recently watched No Country for Old Men, adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same title, on the Dee-Vee-Dee. All we could say to one another following the 2 hours and 20 minutes of Javier Bardem killing one person after another with his pneumatic air gun thingy was some variation of "Wow, that was 2 hours and 20 minutes of our lives that we will never get back." (This flick won four Oscars. No wonder I no longer give a damn for Oscars.)

Aside from the performances by a pretty solid cast, we were hard pressed to come up with a single positive thing to say about this depressing dirge of a movie. We're both fairly big fans of producers/writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen, so we were monumentally disappointed. Not ever having read one of Cormac McCarthy's novels, I'm not exactly inspired to run out and grab a couple if this nihilistic garbage is typical of his work.

What the hell was McCarthy trying to say? That there are very, very bad people in the world who get away with murder? That the average, blue collar joe (as emobodied by Josh Brolin) can never catch a break and is ultimately doomed? That the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket?

Well, Messrs. Coen and McCarthy, most of us are perfectly capable of divining that the current state of human affairs is quite screwy, but in the name of the gods that's all the more reason to throw us a friggin' bone!

I don't know if it's just that I'm getting a bit older, but I'm finding that I have less and less patience with art that merely throws the sewage of this world into my face. I appreciate the artist who can show me what can be, what is possible, not just what is horrible.

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Dear Mr. Mamet..."

Here's my latest original opus for Strike-The-Root.

It's my reply to the playwright and filmmaker Daved Mamet's recent Village Voice essay, "Why I Am No Longer A Brain-Dead Liberal", in which he explains his conversion from statist-left liberaltardism to statist-right conservatardism.

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Free Cuba!

Since taking power in Cuba, Fidel Castro's (at least somewhat) smarter brother Raul has been taking baby steps toward (at least somewhat) liberalizing Cuba's centrally planned, right-wing communist economy. His latest step has been to abolish wage controls:
"For the first time it is clearly and precisely stated that a salary does not have a limit, that the roof of a salary depends on productivity," economic commentator Ariel Terrero said.
Of course, the Cuban government employs most of that country's labor force, but at least it's another baby step in the right direction. Raul has also somewhat liberated the agricultural sector, legally allowing farmers to earn from their efforts as much as they can after meeting the state quotas.

The more Raul moves Cuba toward a relatively freer economy, however, the more he risks his country rising to the top of Uncle Sam's enemies list. (Contrary to popular misconception, historically Uncle has never liked free markets. The opposite has always been much more lucrative for his cronies.) My guess is that the farthest Cuba will ever be allowed to go by the powers that be is the kind of mixed bag economy one commonly finds in the state-capitalist West, and toward which Washington shepherded Moscow following the collapse of Soviet communism.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, however, it is now more morally imperative than ever that the U.S. government lift its freedom-crushing trade embargo against Cuba.

But I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, many Cubans will no doubt continue to go agorist.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Internal Contradictions of Your State-Capitalist System Are Showing

"We are aware and sympathetic...100,000 people being stranded is extraordinary," Tierney said. "But the role is clear, it's a regulator's role and you have to enforce the regulations. We understand the disruption this causes, but (the airlines) had 18 months to complete the work."
Aaahhhh...The sweet, sweet sounds of a pompous state apparatchik.

Read the whole amusing thing here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Barring A Revolution...(Take 2)

Courtesy of Roderick Long, here's a snippet of former Georgia congressman and Ron Paul-tested-and-approved presidential candidate Bob Barr's foreign policy:
"While Washington's current national security worldview remains focused like a laser beam on Iraq and Afghanistan, fires smolder and burn elsewhere. Shifting at least a portion of that concern and those resources to South America, and especially to the Andean region that currently is near the boiling point, is critical to our security. There may not be weapons of mass destruction lurking in the jungles of Venezuela, Colombia or Ecuador (there weren't in Iraq either, of course), but arms are flowing into the area. Venezuela, for example, is buying billions of dollars worth of Russian military equipment. Leftist guerrillas and narco-terrorists remain firmly entrenched in the region, and evidence that other terrorist groups are using the area for problematic purposes is mounting.

"Even if the possible loss of a significant portion of our imported oil requirement does not wake the United States from the somnambulant manner in which it views Latin America, perhaps the growing security threat in that area will —- hopefully before a major crisis jars us awake."

Into Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador!

Jeez Bob, three South American countries? Bush is going to feel absolutely ashamed of himself if he finds out. After all, he only invaded two countries in the Middle East.

Barr is, of course, seeking the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party.

Now I see what Lew Rockwell was talking about.

Also of interest: Barr's June 2007 article in which he explains the American taxpayer's obligations to the Uribe regime in Colombia. (And it would appear that ending the War on Drugs is not something of interest to this man seeking the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination.)

By the way, did I mention that Barr is vying for the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party?

Subconscious Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

On the job, I fully intended to write the following sentence:

"All amenities are within close driving proximity."

Upon proofreading the document several minutes later, however, I found that I had instead written:

"All enmities are within close driving proximity."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"By the way, Dick, Colin, Donald...Can you do the torture meeting?"

Via James Bovard at the Antiwar Blog.

And Here I Thought It Was Obvious

What is that you say? His father was a what?

Not to say there's no reason for concern, but frankly I'd much rather focus my energies on something by which I can hopefully get out from under all of those power-hungry jackals.

Anything else would be to merely feed the other two beasts.

Ruling Class Rules of Etiquette

Here's an interesting little tidbit I stumbled upon (via Roderick Long):
Jennifer Muir of The Orange County Register reports on the California Department of Motor Vehicles' "Confidential Records Program," which was created 30 years ago to keep DMV records of police officers private from criminals. The program has since expanded to cover "hundreds of thousands of public employees – from police dispatchers to museum guards – who face little threat from the public. Their spouses and children can get the plates, too."

Muir discovered that drivers covered under the Confidential Records Program abuse the system by evading toll road charges, running red lights at intersections with red light cameras, parking illegally, and breaking other traffic laws with impunity...

..."It's an unwritten rule that we would extend professional courtesy," said Ron Smith, a retired Los Angeles Police Department officer who worked patrol for 23 years. "Nine out of 10 times I would."

Many police departments that run red light camera programs systematically dismiss citations issued to confidential plates.

"It's a courtesy, law enforcement to law enforcement," San Francisco Police Sgt. Tom Lee said. "We let it go."
Yet another example of what government is really all about: You being coerced into subsidizing their special privileges.

Ah, but I'm sure these fine upstanding public servants deserve all the perks they get. I mean, robbing, harassing and bullying people all day is hard work. Give them a break!

Monday, April 7, 2008

"Home"

I'm linking this video for Mike Ragogna and Dobie Gray's new song "Home" to Tuesday's edition of Strike-The-Root:



Favorite lyric: "Can't you just admit it's a big mistake?"

Barring A Revolution...

I'm a non-electoral anarchist libertarian. I do not vote and very much doubt I ever will again.

I have to say, however, that this year's election is looking more and more entertaining each day.

Pass me the popcorn.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

SHOCKING NEWS: Government Official A Big Fat Liar

Glenn Greenwald recently alerted readers of his blog that it appears as though U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey might be, um, well...just a tad dishonest:

Last week, during a question-and-answer session following a speech he delivered in San Francisco, Attorney General Michael Mukasey revealed a startling and extremely newsworthy fact. As I wrote last Saturday, Mukasey claimed that, prior to 9/11, the Bush administration was aware of a telephone call being made by an Al Qaeda Terrorist from what he called a "safe house in Afghanistan" into the U.S., but failed to eavesdrop on that call. Some help is needed from readers here to generate the attention for this story that it requires.

In that speech, Mukasey blamed FISA's warrant requirement for the failure to eavesdrop on that call -- an assertion which is, for multiple reasons that I detailed in that post, completely false. He then tearfully claimed that FISA therefore caused the deaths of "three thousand people who went to work that day." For obvious reasons, the Attorney General's FISA falsehoods themselves are extremely newsworthy, but it is the story he told about the pre-9/11-planning call from Afghanistan itself that is truly new, and truly extraordinary.

Critically, the 9/11 Commission Report -- intended to be a comprehensive account of all relevant pre-9/11 activities -- makes no mention whatsoever of the episode Mukasey described. What has been long publicly reported in great detail are multiple calls that were made between a global communications hub in Yemen and the U.S. -- calls which the NSA did intercept without warrants (because, contrary to Mukasey's lie, FISA does not and never did require a warrant for eavesdropping on foreign targets) but which, for some unknown reason, the NSA failed to share with the FBI and other agencies. But the critical pre-9/11 episode Mukasey described last week is nowhere to be found in the 9/11 Report or anywhere else. It just does not exist...

...This isn't just a matter of academic and historical interest about the 9/11 attacks, although it is that. One of two things almost certainly happened here, each of which is of great importance. Either Mukasey is lying about the 9/11 attacks in order to manipulate Americans into believing that FISA's warrant requirements are what prevented discovery of the 9/11 attacks and caused 3,000 American deaths -- a completely disgusting act by the Attorney General which obviously cannot be ignored. Or, Mukasey has just revealed the most damning fact yet about the Bush's administration's ability and failure to have prevented the attacks -- facts that, until now, were apparently concealed from the 9/11 Commission and the public.
Call me silly, but I'd hazard a guess that Mukasey was telling a big, fat, bald-faced lie. He reached out of his behind to pull out a scary story about how da terr'rists made the phone call to the USA just prior to 9-11--the one in which no doubt all their plans for hijacking airplanes and crashing them into buildings were clearly and forthrightly discussed--and dear god if all these gubmint laws weren't holdin' back our country's finest from doin' what needs to be done, that call coulda been inner-cepted and all those lives coulda been saved in New York City. Ya got that? The only way in hell we're gonna save ourselfs from da terr'rists is to let the gubmint snoop and eavesdrop on whoever it sees fit to cast suspicion, anywhere in the world, whenever and however they want, and all you terr'rist-lovin' hippies should just stop yer bitchin' and caterwaulin'!

Far be it for a lowly little subject like myself to question the superior knowledge of Uncle Sam's fine and upstanding General of Government Attorneys, but just how, exactly, was this alleged phone call from Afghanistan that U.S. intelligence presumably failed to intercept--er, I'm sorry, was prevented from intercepting by alleged government legal restraints that do not exist--found out by U.S. intelligence after the fact? It doesn't appear that Mukasey offers any such explanation. I guess everyone's supposed to just take his word for it. His "word" as "America's No.1 Law Enforcement Officer."

Um, a great big stinking pile of government B.S., anyone?

As Greenwald pointed out, "FISA does not and never did require a warrant for eavesdropping on foreign targets," contrary to Mukasey's tearful claim implying that such a FISA requirement is somehow partly responsible for 9-11. The U.S. government does not require of itself any kind of check and balance for spying on foreigners. They in fact claim a nearly unlimited right to eavesdrop on anyone in any corner of the globe, foreigners' rights be damned, but for Mukasey, bizarrely, this is not enough.

If only...sniff...If only all those damn restrictions in the gubmint's FISA laws didn't exist, then...sniff...Dammit all!!!...We coulda saved those 3,000 victims in New York and Washington!!! If only Uncle Sam wasn't so damn sensitive to to all those foreigners' so-called "rights"!!! Aw, hell!!!

The object of this dramatic, emotionally manipulative performance, of course, is to grab even more power to conduct clandestine surveillance than the government already has, which was quite extensive even on that dark day of September 11, 2001. As Greenwald points out, the National Security Agency was intercepting many phone calls from abroad. Apparently, the NSA either didn't know what those calls actually signified, or they lacked sufficient information to effectively follow up on them.

Now, it's worth noting here that in addition to the NSA's ongoing eavesdropping on incoming calls from abroad pre-9/11, government agents even had some of the hijackers under surveillance for some time leading up to those tragic events, and they still couldn't stop them from carrying out their deadly deeds.

I would say that such facts should be enough to convince any thinking person that a centralized bureaucracy granted a monopoly over the "national defense" is simply incapable of doing the job. A taxpayer-subsidized army of privileged bureaucrats just simply does not possess the knowledge and information needed to counteract real external threats.

The only viable method of protecting the people of this country from external threats is to abolish the bureaucratic, monopolistic state and allow the free market to produce security for free individuals bidding for security services. A special added treat of such a system is that free market competitors would lack both the incentives and the means to traipse about the world and slaughter innocent people in other countries, disrupting their ways of life, instigating hatred and creating enemies so inflamed by the injustices done to them that they vow to do whatever it takes to slaughter as many Americans as they possibly can.

But your typical American regards such a market-based system for security to be mere kookery and craziness, and I'd be willing to bet Greenwald himself would think as much, as implied by his belief that the problem is that the NSA simply didn't use its pre-9/11 legal authority properly. For Greenwald, as for most statists, the root of the problem lies not in the very nature of the state itself, but in the people currently staffing it. I have no doubt that like most people, he thinks that for good or ill a monopoly defense system is simply the best we can have under the circumstances, even as it drains more and more of our wealth and robs us of more and more of our security and what's scarcely left of our liberty. No doubt we just need the "right people" in charge to minimize the costs and various downsides, such as those related to civil liberties.

May the gods help us all.

See also: Greenwald's blog post of March 29th, "Michael Mukasey's Tearful Lies"; his follow-up on Friday, "The DOJ Comments On the Mukasey Controversy"; and his most recent post, "The Associated Press Fails To Reveal Mukasey's Favorite Color."

And here is the recording of Mukasey's speech before the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in which he made his fuzzy claim about the phone call from Afghanistan that U.S. intelligence discovered they hadn't intercepted after they hadn't intercepted it. His discussion of FISA during the Q&A starts at about the 40:00 mark; his claim comes in at about the 50:00 mark or so. It's followed up by the moderator asking Mukasey the banal question of how his "9-11 experience" affected his time on the bench.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Raimondo to Head Reasonoid: 'Pluck Out the Plank From Thine Own Eye, You Schmuck!'

Whatever your views on the now infamous Ron Paul newsletters of the late 1980s-90s--dredged up by James Kirchick, one of Benito Ghouliani's media sycophants, in a desperate retaliatory strike after Paul embarrassed the former New York City dictator in front of the whole world--it is absolutley the height of obnoxiousness for a liberposer like Reason magazine editor Matt Welch to mount his high horse and lecture veteran libertarian activists (both living and dead) on the errors of their ways, especially when he blanks out context and gets his facts wrong.

Justin Raimondo (of Antiwar.com) explains here, reminding me why I dropped my subscription to the pseudo-"libertarian" Reason a few years ago.