Steve G.

Archive for the ‘Iraq War’ Category

LEE WRIGHTS FOR PRESIDENT 2012 EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE

In Activism, Austrian Economics, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Drug War, Iran, Iraq War, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Middle East, Minorities, Music, Nanny State, Police Brutality, Presidential Candidates, War on December 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm

For more information:
Brian Irving, press secretary
Phone: 919.538.4548
E-mail: press@libertypoint.org

Wrights pledges a ‘wise and frugal’ principled campaign
BURNET, Texas (Dec. 4) – In the four months since R. Lee Wrights began exploring the idea of seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination he has become even more convinced how critical it is for the Libertarian Party to be the anti-war party in 2012.

“The Democrats have not just completely failed to stop the ever expanding cycle of war, they continue to enlarge the cycle,” he said. “When the Republicans take control of the U.S. House, there will be no one left to speak for peace, no one but Libertarians,” Wrights said.

“When I announced formation of an exploratory committee on July 4, I said the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war.” Wrights said. “Since then many Libertarians have told me they agree, and some have signed on to the campaign to help make it so.”

Thomas Hill, of Charlotte, N.C. has known Wrights for 10 years. He agreed to chair the exploratory committee because he said Wrights has proven to be a consistent and principled libertarian.

“He has never been afraid or ashamed of the axiom of non-aggression,” Hill said. “A true patriot through and through, Lee loves our great country and sincerely wishes to not only restore our once great Republic but to guarantee all men and women are truly free to live their lives and pursue their peaceful and honest dreams.”
“You cannot lead a nation into peace and prosperity while constantly initiating aggression against other nations,” said Norman Horn, who signed on as webmaster. “War is the ultimate evil and must be vigorously opposed by all true libertarians.”

Other members of the committee include: Brian Irving, press secretary; Robert Butler, treasurer; Julie Fox, assistant treasurer; Sean Haugh, events coordinator; Zachary Smith, campus coordinator, and; Katie Brewer, social media coordinator.

Wrights said he intends to run a campaign that will mirror the way a Libertarian president would govern. “I plan on running what Thomas Jefferson would probably call a ‘wise and frugal’ campaign,” he said. “It will be professional and well-run, a campaign all Libertarians can be proud of, but we won’t waste money on frills and we will rely heavily on grassroots activists.”

He said he is determined that whoever wins the 2012 nomination is totally committed to proclaiming the message to stop all war. To that end, Wrights has pledged to commit ten percent of all donations to his campaign to gain ballot access in all 50 states.

The committee also wants to ensure the 2012 nominee is equally committed to running on an unequivocal libertarian platform. “We need a candidate who is not ashamed nor afraid to proclaim the true libertarian message of individual liberty and personal responsibility, without compromise, without watering down and without pandering to those who are afraid of freedom,” said Irving.

Wrights, a Winston-Salem native, is a writer and political activist living in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.
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How War Does Speed

In Activism, Corruption, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, Humor, Iraq War, Libertarian, Military, War on October 26, 2009 at 1:47 pm

War is not the health of the state. At least not in the long run. I respect Randolph Bourne and his cogent observation that  “War is the health of the state”. But he is far too lenient in diagnosing war and that psychopathic institution of monopolistic coercion, which is the state. Rather war is the amphetamine of the state and speeds it along to its destruction along with the attending population.

War is a collective addiction of those who are vetted for violence and recklessness. They charge into areas laden with known lethal dangers. Amphetamine (or Amvet-a-mine?) is a capsule description of this addictive drug. It comes in many forms, as does war. It has been described to me by an addict as giving initially a rush of power, a feeling of purpose that drives eventually to conflict. One goes into the most difficult of projects with gusto only to be distracted later into another one. As its use continues headlong into constant use it brings on paranoia, exhaustion, anger and lack of judgment. One forgets simply how to take care of oneself and family as nourishment, health and hygiene fall by the wayside. Initial goals are forgotten for while the drive becomes for more and more of the experience itself. It ends up in despair, delusions, discord, disease and death.

It has been prescribed and proscribed by people who are doctors. It is designed in laboratories and manufactured in factories. This was seen as a way to get more work out of a nation. They have also said it was a way to get out of a depression. It was also seen as a way to stop other drug use or just to generally wake people up.

These authorities also saw it as a way for people to become more aggressive and talkative. Every thought became concentration and power. It was hailed as a way to increase initiative, confidence and alertness. Some also used it to get in trim and decrease consumption. While it was given to adults to stimulate them it was also administered to children to keep them quiet. Many use it to keep an edge on themselves. They also want others under them to use it to validate their use.

The drug operates the same way as war. It is uniform in effects, which may be why so many of its users wear uniforms or think uniformly. So they are in an outfit, which is also a gang. The drug was widely used by many of those involved in fighting in World War II, whether they were up in the air while acting as pilots or in the tank shooting off. They became crack troops. Even those who were behind the lines with their nose close to their desk and just working the lines given them in factories were inhaling this rush to destruction. It seemed that you could get a lot more done while doing it. So nations became addicted and could not see imagine existence without it. Hitler was known to get a lot of shooting done and stealing to feed his all-consuming frenzy. It was injected through his works and became his daily life. So it became part of others as well. So there was a method of amphetamine in his madness.

Even now that methamphetamine is banned, there is a band of brothers involved in it. Motorcycle gangs, which are uniformly military in organization, appearance and predereliction for violence are the primary purveyors of speed. Some speed around the country in formations and formulate speed as well. The origin of the Hell’s Angels name comes from names of military units. These bikers wore black leather Air Force bomber jackets adorned with unit patches as well as old German military helmets when riding . . .

One of the ingredients of meth is ammonia. Ammonia is a fertilizer as well as a poison. It is released as a dead body decays and has an evil smell. It is available everywhere for everyone to use. It is also a harsh cleanser of the fabric of society.

A saying during war is “Keep your powder dry”. This is so as that this substance will not lose its explosiveness. This also applies to speed, which is powder as well as a shot. It can come in any color or packaging. It is often used as a source of amusement or display of patriotism and visual effects. However fireworks are just an amusing aspect of explosive powder. The explosive powder of power must be kept pure and packed into a tight shell and then is placed in the head that is prepared for launching. It is dangerous in its denseness and kept dry so it will ignite. It could be shot up or hurled into an opening.  There it breaks up into the energy of destruction, which ends in nothingness. The process usually repeats endlessly. It is an expensive habit to maintain. Keep alert, more than alert and the over-stimulation becomes a danger to the user. For this dry powder can kill friend and foe alike.

It is dangerous to make as well. One becomes connected to one’s product even without use. Stories abound of how manufacturers of this poison hurt and poison themselves or lose their lives and fortunes in explosions and fires. It’s been called by the godly an involvement in a satanic process. This dangerous edge may be a perverse incentive to some, like a shot of adrenalin.

It is said of dealers and manufacturers on the highest levels of this trade that they never get involved in this for personal use. It distorts good judgment and interferes with making a profit. And they do accumulate a lot of wealth and toys, more than they can ever use, in this trade of theirs.  This may be the mainline reason that they got involved in all of this dealing with death.

It is also used to obtain sex and other favors. There are issues of identity, status as well as social climbing. There is also the feeling of control as addicts put more money into your pockets. There is adventure, and the joy of conspiracy with other like-minded wealthy, people. Dealing meth, like diplomacy, which is dealing with politics, can be war with another name.

It is used by the actors who play our lives on stage and in film as well as the suites of power. It also runs as a suite of those who give a music to our souls. For the music of this experience reaches to all whether you are of the country or the urban or urbane cultures or styles. Some who use it use this to rise to the top and maintain their positions there. This helps them attract huge audiences. For all this drive does is make the heart beat faster but then irregular. This raises the blood pressure as well. So they speed the march to the attack!

But it does create culture even with its destruction.  As theater needs conflict war is a theater and conflict as well. While those in this field need initiative as well as discipline and power, inevitably through use there will arise unprovoked acts of violence. These are the first signs of misuse causing canceling of performances, productions as well as the conflict of the actor with civilized society.

Conflict is sometimes the result of irritability, which is also common with users. The tremors may arise from not being on firm ground. The effects might at first seem to give   a unity of purpose but later it gives schizophrenia as an end result of its paranoia. This is a result of over-indulgence and leads to even larger doses with even greater symptoms resulting. A constant state of tenseness leads to brittleness. It also leads to a dramatic increase in spousal and child abuse. Alcoholism and other addictions can create some of the same effects.

War is the cancer of the state and it affects those who live within its power even if they are not users. Overgrowth of the defensive cells of any organism is cancer. The body goes haywire in determining what is hostile and what is essential to it. Cancer leads to the takeover and the death of its host. So war can bring about good things as well like ending a state. But will it bring the end of the addiction in others it has infected? A different way to alter consciousness is needed.

Because after long use depression will return worse than ever. The body politic will wonder what is wrong. So paranoia and fear will ensue and then it closes up. The shit that inevitably accumulates within it will not be let out. It is more than a constipation that the body suffers, for the toxins will leach into the blood. And with that comes pain, lack of appetite and blurred vision. Communications that are very demanding will also become increasingly unclear and rambling at the same time. The old remedy for this was blood letting. This is what is happening now as the head in its fever turns to the solutions of what is considered general use of Mc CHRYSTAL METHods. We Af Ghan too far into the glass pipe-line of war.

There are scores of similar symptoms shared by both amphetamines and war in this article. In fact, every symptom of speed has a war analogy. When the similarities become so often between two different fields and so obvious that puns and wordplay abound between them then there is more than a smile of a simile at work. This phenomena I call meta-forensics.

So let us proceed in this what I describe as a meta-forensics to understand how to deal with these problems. Yes, war and amphetamines are addictive and dangerous in many ways. While I would not recommend or use either one neither would I want either one banned, as the consequence of banning would only increase the problem. We have all seen how the War on Poverty increased the poverty problem. A War on War would be just as insane like the War on Drugs.

A misunderstanding of terms, or the inability of the terms to describe, terminates understanding. A psychosis that cannot be understood in its terms becomes a metaphorosis, which is another term I have invented.  When much more of that happens it can cause such a dissonance that a metamorphosis can happen. .

We must acknowledge that the widespread use of amphetamines, especially meth, has been disastrous for poorer, rural America, like war always is.  In prison I met many of these people who used or sold “meth” (speed), which is so similar to crack or cocaine it is sometimes called “country crack”. And like crack it is defining the culture of the country people as well in music and story as well as those who write and perform it.

It also addicts the brilliant, creative and disciplined.  I’ve met in prison stockbrokers and fashion designers from New York City who used “meth” as well. I’ve never done it, sold it and always warned people against it and still do. Yet how can I completely condemn a drug that helped the great novelist and paragon of rationality, Ayn Rand, finish “The Fountainhead”? Or how can I condemn something used by Jack Kerouac, the novelist of the Beat generation, in writing On the Road”? Or how about all those college students who have used it for decades for the same reasons as Ayn or Jack, to cram knowledge and finish writings on a deadline?

The same goes for a fight. Fighting is natural for every tribe, even among boys. There is such a thing as just war. However if it becomes a continual policy among large amounts of combatants as it so often does it becomes just a war. This is one reason why we focus on individual stories in war fiction rather than the tramping of armies. Those involved in war or speed must be small in number and very aware of the dangers of what they do.  If the state gets involved in pushing it or even if it becomes a mindless fad (something that often comes together) there is incredible danger. For something banned that thing becomes an allure and quest all of its own (The Fight Club). So war in its righteous wrath must be separate from the state as the church is separate from the state.

I preach and practice non-violence. When I have a violent fantasy (which is fairly often) I try to imagine and think through what are the goal and the aftermath and then try to imagine other strategies. I also ask the same in what I am going to get out of any drug experience, in imagining creative alternatives. Only psychedelics allow those types of questions and quests. There is so much shortsightedness in this world. Especially with those who act either inside or outside the box, whether the box contains cartridges or capsules. Still there are so few who will go out of the box that I encourage people to do so.  But at the same time have an understanding or vision of what can come next.

War can have a horrible beauty and quest that has inspired much art at terrible cost. We can no longer afford it except as metaphor or as a final option. If we end up hurting others and ourselves, rather than helping then we must stop. When the process fails to work for someone the drug and war experience must end and not returned to.  It seems so true and obvious in a normal state to do so but in the intoxicated state that these bring it seems unreal and even frightening. Those involved in war and speed tend to associate and trust only those who have close ties to it. So it is imperative that those involved maintain a connection with those who are judiciously honest and understanding of the problems involved and who are outside of that experience.

I suppose that some will also make the analogy of some ideas such as religion and politics are also addictions. For the purposes of this discussion a practice that becomes such an obsession in that it becomes uniformly dangerous to practitioners that they become violent to others qualifies that as an addiction. One of the reasons that a person wants to spread a practice so that they become an intense advocate is to validate the experience for themselves and to learn more about it. It is possible that among the advocates of an idea you will have addicts and non-addicts in this definition.

There is also the possibility of a genetic predisposition and that we orient ourselves to those drives such as has been theorized as for religion. Or we may have receptor sites for speed (or is it adrenaline) or war because it increases adrenalin. These may be related to our need for war. If this is how we are wired then we should allow expression of these instincts in as safe a way as possible and even give them a sense of meaning. And when it gets out of hand and causes the user to be damaging then the fullest moral authority with the least use of violence must be used.

So let’s continue with the addiction analogy. Those involved in wars of aggression and hurting those who are not involved should be treated as an addict who commits violence and theft. Let us leave aside criminal penalties that are levied on these acts. How can you motivate the addict to stop the anti-social behavior and instill an awareness or guilt of what they are doing so that they will decide to stop?

The best accepted treatment of those in addictive behavior is a staged confrontation. Those who are friends, family and others who have been hurt and know the actor have a planned surprise meeting with the accused. They all give their individual testimony of the terrible things that the person has done. Afterward they give their verdict to the miscreant.  The sentence is: “Deal with their problem!” This is usually done through a program. The program is designed to understand their behavior and build support means so that they never indulge in the drug or behavior again. The twelve-step success begins with an admission of guilt and that they are addicts. It is as an act of recovery, which may result in a real change. The addict will use any rationale as an excuse to use the drug again. Yet long experience has concluded that a drug once abused can never be used again or the same destructive pattern re-emerges. So if they do go back to old habits they should suffer an exile, a shunning or boycott. This cycle can continue endlessly until the addict dies. Most never recover. The ones that do keep clean see themselves in a constant state of recovery, not as cured people.

The behavior of the state and its military is to ensnarl itself in everything that could be in opposition to it so as to engender self-censorship of possible critics. It also co-opts, censors, minimalizes, avoids, arrests or chases away any opposition to its self-perception as heroes. Still wars, attempts at empires and other horrid behavior have on occasion been shamed out of existence. This is how colonialism, Communism and the Vietnam War ended.

Police state functions can be dealt with the same way. In spite of propaganda from the official culture, high pay and other inducements police are often socially isolated. Who wants to party with someone who is obligated to bust you for breaking a stupid law? Partly because of this disconnect and the official requirements of violence, police and military people have high alcoholism and other drug problems, suicide rates and other abuse issues. Police and the military are war drug cultures.

Peace people are a small group of disguised therapists in a huge asylum that is run by the inmates. Some of us are in recovery ourselves. Even among the therapists we are in the minority. It is commonly accepted among the violent addicts that if something goes wrong it is OK and even a duty to relapse into the drug called war. This imprint has gone on for ages. So we must build through culture, tradition and moral code and imprint a loathing of war. The extreme efforts and accomplishments that made possible the imprint through this drug of war must be made through other means. This could be done through other drugs such as psychedelics, which help in reprinting. Other quests such as spiritual and cultural imprints help as well.

So we define the mass use of violence and amphetamines as the sign of massive evil and psychosis. We see this as the state or state of mind that accepts horror as normal or even ideal. We create communities of peace amid this structured chaos of war. We persevere and create this peace even if just to maintain our own sanity.

It is through our analysis, ideals and vision that we have a way of treatment. We must prove to our patients that they have a problem and that there are other more peaceful ways of dealing with their problems than what they are doing now. Whether they are consciously pursuing terror as a way of life or thinking that this is the only or best way out we must provide better options without the drug-like frenzy of violence. It has been described as one of the most difficult and rewarding of accomplishments for genius and commoner alike to give up an addictive drug. Giving up war will be a similar struggle. So let’s start looking at the problem this way.

The Two Lefts

In Austrian Economics, Big Brother, Guantanamo, Immigration, Iraq War, Libertarian, Nanny State, Politics, Torture, War on September 11, 2009 at 6:50 am

I have some running thoughts that I’d like to share on the nature of the left-wing.  This post shan’t be well-formulated, I must warn the reader.  It will not constitute good writing.  It won’t even be well-argued, since my intention is not to prove that I am right, but rather merely to quickly and effortlessly convey the thoughts swimming through my head at the moment.  Let us begin.

We learn from Rothbard in 1965 that libertarians and classical liberals are members of the true, radical left.  Richman, in 2007, makes the point that “[o]ne could say that the Left itself had left and right wings, with the laissez-fairists on the left-left and the state socialists on the right-left.”

McElroy, in 1982, points out that libertarianism has grown thanks to the introduction of Austrian economic thought, particularly the introduction of the subjective theory of value.  It’s essentially the same libertarianism that existed in the nineteenth century, and it’s just as individualistic today as it’s ever been, but it now has a better foundation in understanding the nature of value.

I often make the point, particularly when I’m speaking to conservatives, that there are two rights and two lefts, an anti-establishment right exemplified by the likes of Ron Paul and a pro-establishment right exemplified by the likes of G. W. Bush.  On the left, I would say there is an anti-establishment left exemplified by the likes of Mike Gravel and a pro-establishment left exemplified by the likes of Barack Obama.

But really I’m being disingenuous.  Ron Paul and Mike Gravel both occupy the same place on the spectrum: the left.  Neither are on the absolute left, where I am and where Rothbard, McElroy, and Richman more or less are, but they are both certainly on the left.  Likewise, both Bush and Obama occupy the same place on the spectrum: the right.  Neither are as far right as Mussolini or Mao, but both are certainly on the right.

So we find ourselves with two lefts, an anti-establishment left (the libertarians) and a pro-establishment “left” (the pseudo-“liberals”).

Enter John Markley, who recently wrote on his blog: “I expected most of the American Left to lose interest in the war issue once Obama was in office, and especially once Obama started to escalate American military efforts in Afghanistan.  Similarly, I expected them to start finding torture, attacks on civil liberties, and unrestrained executive power much less bothersome once they were wielding those weapons themselves.  Perhaps above all else, I expected their whole ‘dissent is patriotic’ shtick to fade away as well.  However, I really didn’t expect the change to be quite so abrupt.  It’s a demonstration of an important lesson libertarians need to keep in mind—neither liberals nor conservatives are actually very good on the issues they’re supposedly on the right side of.”

Liberals, with whom do you want to associate?  The establishment “left” that tells us we must “respect the office of the presidency”?  The pro-war “liberals”?  The so-called “left” that want you to believe it is unpatriotic to question the government or to yell at politicians (whether at townhall meetings or elsewhere)?  The so-called “liberals” who are only outraged at oppressive government when the red team is at the helm, not also when it is the blue team at the helm?

Or would you rather associate with us radicals, we who fail to see the difference between Obama’s statism and Bush’s statism, we who still believe that dissent is patriotic, we who mourn the deaths in Afghanistan, we who demand that Guantánamo be shut down this week instead of a year from now, we who refuse to support a man who voted in favour of illegal wiretapping and renewing the USA PATRIOT Act, we who believe that this administration doesn’t care about homosexuals?  Sure, by siding with us, you will be siding with people who reject Obamacare, but at least we don’t reject it for the same reasons as the right.  We don’t reject it out of some irrational fear of immigrants being treated as equals in our society, we oppose it because we reject the underlying tenets of imperialism and statism.  We reject it because we are consistent.

Liberals, you have every reason to join us libertarians on the radical left.  After all, unlike the establishment “left,” we’ll never ask you to pledge your loyalty and servitude to the president, regardless of to which party she belonged.  All we ask is that you never initiate force or fraud against your fellow human, that you never hire some gang to initiate force or fraud against your fellow human, and that you never ask a government to initiate force or fraud against your fellow human.

Hopefully you will join us because—that other “left”?—they are looking more and more like the right every day.

—Alexander S. Peak

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My take on the ‘Independence Day’ Lesson.

In Democracy, Fraud, History, Iraq War, Libertarian, Middle East, Politics, Republican, Taxation, US Government, War on July 6, 2009 at 5:39 pm

On July 4th we celebrate “Independence Day” in the US. This is the day that American’s celebrate the end of British oppression and unjust taxes on the American colonies. At the time Britain was the strongest Empire in the world. There are many nations who have Independence days which celebrate the day they ripped themselves from the clutches of British colonial rule. I believe the lesson from that day is that all Empires fall. Even if they seem strong and invincible, the people in their conquered territory will eventually find the means to push the invader out of their land. America is an example, India is an example, Barbados is an example, and Sri Lanka is an example. Though people have to give their occupier ‘HELL’ they will eventually gain their freedom from them. The best example of this is the Pashtuuns in Afghanistan/Pakistan. There has never been a power who’s been able to subdue these people and hold on the their land for any long period of time.

Even though America seeks to celebrate this holiday with vigor we have not learned the lesson. In fact, we are the modern day empire that future countries will (one day) declare their independence from. Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan,  all of these countries (and more) will have their day to reflect back and say, “This was the date when the last American soldier/diplomat/puppet dictator/military contractor left our soil for good.”. The only question is how we will leave these foreign lands. Will it cost us the lives of young men and women who wanted to build a future for their families? Will our fraudulent monetary system have to crash for us to leave these places? Will it take a 100 year rebellion? Will it take a larger empire to push us out? Could the American people elect someone smart enough to pull the troops out of these countries? Regardless of how it happens, the only certainty is that it will happen. When it does then we’ll give some other country a reason to wave their flag, shoot their firecrackers, and have a big barbecue.

Happy 4th of July.

Peace…

America… Spearheading the New Dark Age.

In Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, George Bush, Guantanamo, Human Rights Abuses, Iran, Iraq War, Libertarian, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism, Torture, US Government on June 1, 2009 at 1:34 am

I guess all of us should be happy to be alive during such interesting times as these. We have the internet, books, videos, and rapid dissemination of knowledge everywhere in the world almost instantly. We are alive when books like “1984” have been written where slavery is outlined, yet we still seem to be enslaved. In America and many other countries in the world our governments coerce our money (that we earned with our own personal time) out of us to commit atrocities around the world. Waterboarding, electric torture, torture of children, mass murder, torture with insects, torture with razors, kidnapping of innocent people without warrant, spying on military personnel on the phone with their wives overseas, and systematic beatings of detainees for no reason are just a few things that our “civilized” society engages in on a daily basis. It reminds me of historical accounts where people were tortured in medieval times for their crimes. It also reminds me of the witch trials where woman were tortured until they said that they were witches.

It seems that it only took one terrorist attack to plunge most of the Western World 300 years into the past.

I just wanted to outline a few recent atrocities that came to light in a recent article on AntiWar.com. The article is located here and it talks about a few instances of torture that have occurred in Guantanamo some of which have even occurred after Obama took office. The article outlines such outrages as smearing another inmate’s feces on an inmate’s face, shooting a high pressure water hose up a detainee’s nose, slamming detainee’s faces on concrete, the intentional breaking of noses and other appendages, shoving people’s faces into toilets and flushing them repeatedly, sexual assault, and deliberate cover-ups.

Here are a few excerpts below:

…When an IRF team is called in, its members are dressed in full riot gear, which some prisoners and their attorneys have compared to “Darth Vader” suits. Each officer is assigned a body part of the prisoner to restrain: head, right arm, left arm, left leg, right leg…

…IRF teams in effect operate at Guantánamo as an extrajudicial terror squad that has regularly brutalized prisoners outside of the interrogation room, gang beating them, forcing their heads into toilets, breaking bones, gouging their eyes, squeezing their testicles, urinating on a prisoner’s head, banging their heads on concrete floors and hog-tying them – sometimes leaving prisoners tied in excruciating positions for hours on end…

…Up to 15 people attempted to commit suicide at Camp Delta due to the abuses of the IRF officials…

…After 9/11, Deghayes was detained in Lahore, Pakistan, for a month, where he allegedly was subjected to “systematic beatings” and “electric shocks done with a tool that looked like a small gun…One day they took me to a room that had very large snakes in glass boxes. The room was all painted black-and-white, with dim lights. They threatened to leave me there and let the snakes out with me in the room. This really got to me, as there were such sick people that they must have had this room specially made…

…Deghayes was eventually moved to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where he was beaten and “kept nude, as part of the process of humiliation due to his religion.” U.S. personnel placed Deghayes “inside a closed box with a lock and limited air.” He also described seeing U.S. guards sodomize an African prisoner and alleged guards “forced petrol and benzene up the anuses of the prisoners.”…

…The IRF team sprayed Mr. Deghayes with mace; they threw him in the air and let him fall on his face … ” according to the Spanish investigation. Deghayes says he also endured a “sexual attack.” In March 2004, after being “sprayed in the eyes with mace,” Deghayes says authorities refused to provide him with medical attention, causing him to permanently lose sight in his right eye…

…On one of the ERF-ing incidents where Omar was abused, the officer in charge himself came into the cell with the feces of another prisoners [sic] and smeared it onto Omar’s face. While some prisoners had thrown feces at the abusive guards, Omar had always emphatically refused to sink to this level. The experience was one of the most disgusting in Omar’s life…

…The ERF team came into the cell with a water hose under very high pressure. He was totally shackled, and they would hold his head fixed still. They would force water up his nose until he was suffocating and would scream for them to stop. This was done with medical staff present, and they would join in. Omar is particularly affected by the fact that there was one nurse who “had been very beautiful and kind” to him to [sic] took part in the process. This happened three times…

…David Hicks, an Australian citizen held at Guantánamo, said in a sworn affidavit, “I have witnessed the activities of the [IRF], which consists of a squad of soldiers that enter a detainee’s cell and brutalize him with the aid of an attack dog … I have seen detainees suffer serious injuries as a result of being IRF’ed. I have seen detainees IRF’ed while they were praying, or for refusing medication…

The officer Smith was the MP sergeant who was punching him. He grabbed his head with one hand and with the other hand punched him repeatedly in the face. His nose was broken. He pushed his face, and he smashed it into the concrete floor. All of this should be on video. There was blood everywhere. When they took him out, they hosed the cell down and the water ran red with blood. We all saw it…

According to attorney Julia Tarver, one of her clients, Yousef al-Shehri, had a tube inserted with “one [IRF member] holding his chin while the other held him back by his hair, and a medical staff member forcibly inserted the tube in his nose and down his throat” and into his stomach. “No anesthesia or sedative was provided to alleviate the obvious trauma of the procedure.” Tarver said this method caused al-Shehri and others to vomit “substantial amounts of blood…

…According to Tarver, “Nasal gastric (NG) tubes [were removed] by placing a foot on one end of the tube and yanking the detainee’s head back by his hair, causing the tube to be painfully ejected from the detainee’s nose. Then, in front of the Guantanamo physicians … the guards took NG tubes from one detainee, and with no sanitization whatsoever, reinserted it into the nose of a different detainee. When these tubes were reinserted, the detainees could see the blood and stomach bile from the other detainees remaining on the tubes.” Medical staff, according to Tarver, made no effort to intervene…

…In January 2003, Sgt. Sean Baker was ordered to participate in an IRF training drill at Guantánamo where he would play the role of an uncooperative prisoner. Sgt. Baker says he was ordered by his superior to take off his military uniform and put on an orange jumpsuit like those worn by prisoners. He was told to yell out the code word “red” if the situation became unbearable, or he wanted his fellow soldiers to stop… They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and, unfortunately, one of the individuals got up on my back from behind and put pressure down on me while I was face down. Then he – the same individual – reached around and began to choke me and press my head down against the steel floor. After several seconds, 20 to 30 seconds, it seemed like an eternity because I couldn’t breathe. When I couldn’t breathe, I began to panic and I gave the code word I was supposed to give to stop the exercise, which was ‘red.’ … That individual slammed my head against the floor and continued to choke me. Somehow I got enough air. I muttered out: ‘I’m a U.S. Soldier. I’m a U.S. Soldier.’…

While the dominant media coverage of the U.S. torture apparatus has portrayed these tactics as part of a “Bush era” system that Obama has now ended, when it comes to the IRF teams, that is simply not true. “[D]etainees live in constant fear of physical violence. Frequent attacks by IRF teams heighten this anxiety and reinforce that violence can be inflicted by the guards at any moment for any perceived infraction, or sometimes without provocation or explanation,” according to CCR…

…In another incident after Obama’s inauguration, prisoner Khan Tumani began smearing excrement on the walls of his cell to protest his treatment. According to his lawyer, when he “did not clean up the excrement, a large IRF team of 10 guards was ordered to his cell and beat him severely. The guards sprayed so much tear gas or other noxious substance after the beating that it made at least one of the guards vomit. Mr. Khan Tumani’s skin was still red and burning from the gas days later…

http://original.antiwar.com/scahill/2009/05/16/obama-thug-squad-brutalizing-prisoners-at-gitmo/

Do these sound like the acts of a “Shining City on a Hill”? Do these sound like the acts of “The Leader of the Free World”? No, they don’t. They sound like the acts of a barbarous empire drunk on it’s own power. It sounds like people who have no respect for human life. Imagine the hopelessness that these people in Guantanamo and other black locations feel. They are stuck  torture dungeons unable to die or live. Merely a piece of meat kept alive for reason’s unbeknown to anybody. Your captors will never let you go and you will never have a chance to defend yourself in a court. You can be tortured at any time for no reason. You may never see your family or your wife again, and the worst part is that most of these men have never done anything wrong.

Is this the way you want you’re tax money to be spent? You want the money stolen from you to pay torturer’s and killers? Then stand up and let someone else know how their money is being spent. Don’t be apathetic. Don’t be complicit is the destruction of life at CIA black sites.

Peace…

Torture by any other name….

In Civil Liberties, Crime, History, Human Rights Abuses, Iraq War, Libertarian, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on May 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm

The April 19th edition of the New York Times Scott Shane summarizes the now infamous 2005 CIA memo on torture. Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed were between the two of them waterboarded 266 times. Am I the only one who’s outraged by this? The same article conceeds:

A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.

So why the need to waterboard him after he confessed in the first 35 seconds? Why should he have been tortured in the first place? For a possible answer, three points:  first, a brief history of this form of torture; second, the effects of  torture on the human body; third, a look at how other countries have used and finally, some thoughts on why this issue doesn’t bother Americans.

Waterboarding has had many names over the many centuries that it has been used. A variation of it was used in the Spanish Inquisition under the name “toca“:

“The toca, also called tortura del agua, consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning”.William Schweiker claims that the use of water as a form of torture also had profound religious significance to the Inquisitors.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterboarding

The Dutch East India company used a variation of it as well. Pay special attention to the physical affects it had on the victim:

…Agents of the Dutch East India Company used a precursor to waterboarding during the Amboyna massacre, which took place on the island of Amboyna in the Molucca Islands in 1623. At that time, it consisted of wrapping cloth around the victim’s head, after which the torturers “poured the water softly upon his head until the cloth was full, up to the mouth and nostrils, and somewhat higher, so that he could not draw breath but he must suck in all the water”. In one case, the torturer applied water three or four times successively until the victim’s “body was swollen twice or thrice as big as before, his cheeks like great bladders, and his eyes staring and strutting out beyond his forehead”…

This next instance occured in more recent times in 1852 at Sing Sing prison:

…’hydropathic torture.’ The stream of water is about one inch in diameter, and falls from a hight [sic] of seven or eight feet. The head of the patient is retained in its place by means of a board clasping the neck; the effect of which is, that the water, striking upon the board, rebounds into the mouth and nostrils of the victim, almost producing strangulation. Congestion, sometimes of the heart or lungs, sometimes of the brain, not unfrequently [sic] ensues; and death, in due season, has released some sufferers from the further ordeal of the water cure…

And again in WWII by the “Evil Axis Powers”:

…During World War II both Japanese troops, especially the Kempeitai, and the officers of the Gestapo,[66] the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore the Double Tenth Incident occurred. This included waterboarding, by the method of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach…

It sounds very barbaric but it’s still something that we “had to do” to get “intelligence” out of “high value detainees”. I will concede that we might not have stomped on the stomach’s of detainees when they could not swallow more water but we have done things just as bad or worse.

…In the memos, released Thursday, the Bush Administration White House Office of Legal Counsel offered its endorsement of CIA torture methods that involved placing an insect in a cramped, confined box with detainees. Jay S. Bybee, then-director of the OLC, wrote that insects could be used to capitalize on detainees’ fears…

…The memo was dated Aug. 1, 2002. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s children were captured and held in Pakistan the following month, according to a report by Human Rights Watch…At a military tribunal in 2007, the father of a Guantanamo detainee alleged that Pakistani guards had confessed that American interrogators used ants to coerce the children of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed into revealing their father’s whereabouts…

http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/04/17/bush-torture-memos-align-with-account-that-911-suspects-children-were-tortured/

A few of the effects of drowning on the the human body:

…A conscious victim will hold his or her breath (see Apnea) and will try to access air, often resulting in panic, including rapid body movement. This uses up more oxygen in the blood stream and reduces the time to unconsciousness. The victim can voluntarily hold his or her breath for some time, but the breathing reflex will increase until the victim will try to breathe, even when submerged.

The breathing reflex in the human body is weakly related to the amount of oxygen in the blood but strongly related to the amount of carbon dioxide. During apnea, the oxygen in the body is used by the cells, and excreted as carbon dioxide. Thus, the level of oxygen in the blood decreases, and the level of carbon dioxide increases. Increasing carbon dioxide levels lead to a stronger and stronger breathing reflex, up to the breath-hold breakpoint, at which the victim can no longer voluntarily hold his or her breath. This typically occurs at an arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide of 55 mm Hg, but may differ significantly from individual to individual and can be increased through training…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drowning

When water enters the lungs

…If water enters the airways of a conscious victim the victim will try to cough up the water or swallow it thus inhaling more water involuntarily. Upon water entering the airways, both conscious and unconscious victims experience laryngospasm, that is the larynx or the vocal cords in the throat constrict and seal the air tube. This prevents water from entering the lungs. Because of this laryngospasm, water enters the stomach in the initial phase of drowning and very little water enters the lungs. Unfortunately, this can interfere with air entering the lungs, too. In most victims, the laryngospasm relaxes some time after unconsciousness and water can enter the lungs causing a “wet drowning”. However, about 10-15% of victims maintain this seal until cardiac arrest, this is called “dry drowning” as no water enters the lungs. In forensic pathology, water in the lungs indicates that the victim was still alive at the point of submersion. Absence of water in the lungs may be either a dry drowning or indicates a death before submersion…

…The brain cannot survive long without oxygen and the continued lack of oxygen in the blood combined with the cardiac arrest will lead to the deterioration of brain cells causing first brain damage and eventually brain death from which recovery is generally considered impossible. A lack of oxygen or chemical changes in the lungs may cause the heart to stop beating; this cardiac arrest stops the flow of blood and thus stops the transport of oxygen to the brain. Cardiac arrest used to be the traditional point of death but at this point there is still a chance of recovery. The brain will die after approximately six minutes without oxygen but special conditions may prolong this (see ‘cold water drowning’ below). Freshwater contains less salt than blood and will therefore be absorbed into the blood stream by osmosis. In animal experiments this was shown to change the blood chemistry and led to cardiac arrest in 2 to 3 minutes. Sea water is much saltier than blood. Through osmosis water will leave the blood stream and enter the lungs thickening the blood. In animal experiments the thicker blood requires more work from the heart leading to cardiac arrest in 8 to 10 minutes. However, autopsies on human drowning victims show no indications of these effects and there appears to be little difference between drownings in salt water and fresh water. After death, rigor mortis will set in and remains for about two days, depending on many factors including water temperature…

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed experienced this 183 times. You think he felt that we were a proverbial “Shinning City on a Hill”? No, instead a bet he felt like he’d been captured by savages. I’m personally ashamed and appalled that my taxes paid the CIA torture this man.  They used our tax money to kill, torture, and humiliate people who we don’t even know. They coerce the complicity from each one of us living in America and Britain.

Historically speaking, there have been many other people persecuted for war crimes. America has even persecuted other people for waterboarding.

…McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps…

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2007/dec/18/john-mccain/history-supports-mccains-stance-on-waterboarding/

Remember that they killed Saddam’s sons and one of their “justifications” was that they tortured Iraqis. This is ironic because we’re the ones torturing Iraqis now and nobody has been executed for it yet. This page outlines Saddam’s “Crimes Against Humanity”. It’s funny how we use these slogans against everyone except Americans even when our government commits the same crimes. Carl Clauberg experimented on over 300 woman and sterilized many of them. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Doihara Kenji was sentenced to death for his part in the Pearl Harbor incident. There are many other war criminals that can be found here.  Why no American presidents are on this list?

We want to believe that the American government is incapable of torturing people even though it’s exactly what we’re doing. Does the government have that much of a hold on the media?  They play word games  to cloud our view. They say that we’re in a “credit crunch” when we’re in a “recession“.  When they admit to  “recession,” we’re really  in a “depression“. They played the same game in Iraq. According to the news we were dealing with a few “foreign fighters” when it was an “insurgency”.  Called it “insurgency” when it was really a “civil war“.   Now that Baghdad has been separated among sectarian lines we’ve declared victory. Likewise they now call “harsh interrogation” what is “torture”.

I want  to remind people of the horrors of torture. When McCain was caught and tortured then sang like a bird but torture is only successful at getting the captor to say what he thinks the torturer wants him to say. Torture inevitably gives the torturer incorrect intelligence because the tortured just wants the pain to stop. It is also a double-sided sword  because the enemy becomes emboldened by the barbarism of the side that uses this disgraceful tactic. It reminds them of the immoral and merciless nature of their enemy and only makes them fight harder. In the case of religious fanatics they are emboldened even more when they see that their brethren are being tortured by people of a different faith.

So I think we just need to endorse Peace and do away with states who carry out atrocities in the name of all the people that live within its borders.

Peace…

Obama Represents “Real” Change… In America’s Perception…

In Barack Obama, Corruption, Human Rights Abuses, Iran, Iraq War, Law, Libertarian, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Middle East, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on April 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm

There might have been a short time when I considered myself democrat or republican. That was a long time ago. Just like people don’t allow themselves to be duped to many times by the same trick; I decided not to be suckered in by the false rhetoric of these (allegedly) different parties. Bush supporters dug their grave so deep the last 8 years that they had to stick with his false allegations of Iraq’s WMDs to the very end. They suffered through the surprise of Bush when he tried to clean his hands by saying “I never said Saddam was responsible for 9/11“. He managed to assert and insinuate his way at his goal (gaining popular support to attack Iraq by associating it with 9/11).

There’s a new guy in town now. One who’s suppose to “change” everything. This is old news, however there have been some new developments worth noting that point out the solidarity of the Bush regime with that of Obama’s. Firstly, there the fact that Obama is not pulling out of Iraq at all. Secondly, he’s expanding the war in Afghanistan even though it has no clear goals. Thirdly, he is not seeking legal action against the those who sanctioned torture in the previous regime. Fourthly, he’s allowing torture under his own watch.

When Obama first started running for office he promised the voters that he would start pulling out troops from Iraq within 6 months. He later extended this time frame. Then extended it again. Some people believe that the reason he extended the time frame was because he became privy to some “secret presidential” information that made him change his mind, but I argue that this “secret” information is nothing special. We’ve just gotten through with 8 years of lies (oops), secret information and see where it got our foreign policy? What makes the above different from what any other politicians do? Am I to believe that even though he lied to the American people that deep down inside he wants to do different than Bush’s agenda????

When we first went into Afghanistan (on the heels of 9/11) we were suppose to be capturing Osama Bin Laden. Instead we just ended up staying there to die like all other great empires have done. Obama isn’t going to “Change” this situation either. Instead we will put more people there. Since when was an occupation necessary to capture one man in a country? Assuming that you think we went there without intentions of staying forever (which I don’t), then you have to wonder why we’re still there. We’ve overthrown their government, installed a new government, defeated the Taliban, and trained their new Army and Police. Why didn’t we leave after this was accomplished? Osama was already known to be in Pakistan by this time. Why didn’t we send in small strike teams to capture him and bring him back? Instead the policy shifted to occupying Afghanistan indefinitely while using RC planes to piss off the Pashtuuns on the other side of the border. Obama must have realized the futility of this military occupation by now. What does he expect to take place of the Taliban even if he kills them all? Another Taliban? Because that’s all he’s going to get.

One of the reasons that so many voters voted for Obama was because he said that he was going to restore America’s global image. This hinted that the human rights abuses of the previous regime were over.  It also hinted that there would be some justice. Instead he has actively shielded them from prosecution. His narrative on this has been “We must look forward not backwards”. According this slogan anybody should be forgiven, even Iran and the Palestinians, because we are looking ahead not backwards to what they’ve done in the past. However, this slogan has proven to be selective. You see we can’t forgive Iran for seeking Nuclear power because they had a weapons program in the past. Likewise, we cannot forgive the Palestinians because they’ve used terrorist tactics to try to push Israel out of Palestinian territory. Instead we should forgive the Bush regime and it’s accomplices for torture and the murder of 1 million plus civilians. Likewise, we will have to forgive Obama for the mass killing he has already commited according to this slogan. However, there can be no forgiveness for the drug user who’ll be locks in prison on felony charges. No, these crimes are too bad…..

Recently a detainee from Guantanamo was able to call out to Al Jazeera while making his 1 allowed phonecall. He was able to confirm that he was still being tortured even after the Obama regime had taken power. If fact he said that the treatment had intensified under the Obama presidency.

Is this really change?

No. It’s not.

What this presidency has done is change the American perception. Obama seems to have campaigned so effectively in the run up to the election that most people think that he’s incapable of doing anything wrong. I would like to remind people not to bury themselves too deeply with Obama. Remember that all people are just that “people”. Nobody is perfect or more than human. The moment that you put 100% of your faith in a president is the same moment you’ll be disappointed. As for myself… the government is illegitimate anyway so nobody will get my vote except for someone willing to stay out of Washington.

Peace….

My Last Hurrah

In Activism, Barack Obama, Congress, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Politics, US Government, War on December 13, 2008 at 1:21 pm
My Last Hurrah This will be the last “Vortex of Freedom” show. I will be starting a new show after the New Year. The topics and subjects will vary.

Show is tonight from 11:00PM-12:00AM Eastern.  Call-in number is (347)-215-7969 or listen live on Blog Talk Radio.

Antiwar.com: You have a choice!

In Activism, Congress, Economics, Iraq War, Libertarian, Media, Taxation, US Government, War on November 11, 2008 at 6:53 pm

They’re Bailing Out the Banks
With Your Tax Dollars.

But you have a choice!

Nobody asked you if you wanted to bail out the banks. The powers that be in Washington, D.C., just went ahead and did it. They wrote a check for almost $1 trillion to the biggest financial institutions in the country, saving them from their own disastrous investments. Andyou get the bill.
But it doesn’t have to be a total loss. You can direct some of your tax dollars to a worthy cause. Instead of rewarding the greed and hubris of “businessmen” whose only assets seem to be their friends in Washington, you can send your tax dollars to work for peace. 
Unlike the hundreds of billions going to the banks, yourtax-deductible contribution to Antiwar.com is a good investment: it will keep you informed about the world you live in, warning you of the dangers to peace just around the bend. 
Since the mid-’90s, Antiwar.com has been the place to find out what’s really going on in hotspots around the globe. And since our beginning, we’ve depended on the generosity of our readers to keep us online.
Now hard times have hit all of us, at the very time when Antiwar.com is most essential. Our fight for a noninterventionist foreign policy is making some real gains, for the first time in years. But with charitable giving down, we are feeling the pinch. We need your help, and we need it now.
The choice is yours: would you rather give your hard-earned dollars to the big banks and the war profiteers, or to Antiwar.com?

Don’t delay.

Sorry for the interruption.
Continue to Antiwar.com

 

Contact akeaton@antiwar.com or call 323-512-7095 for more information.

War, oil, economic chaos, enriched uranium, and more war

In Activism, Economics, Iraq War, Libertarian, Protest, War on November 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Donate to Antiwar.com
Today at 2:57pm

Thoughts on What’s Coming

Dear Friend of Peace,

My name is Michael Seebeck. I’m a happily married father of two, dedicated peacemonger and libertarian activist. My wife and I are the Legislative Analysts for the Libertarian Party of California. We recommend courses of action for lobbying, a role can be referred to informally as ”Team Seebeck, Bill Monkeys.”

Part of that role also means being able to connect events and courses of action to determine the consequences of legislation on the public. It also carries over into how I view the news, and lately I really don’t like what I see:

Economic Chaos. Potential War with Iran. Energy Prices. Recession. Russia. Pakistan. Iraq.

What do these all have in common? A pretty grim picture.

Let’s examine the links between these things. You may want a scorecard for this.

Consider the following facts:

Oil had peaked at $147 (7-11-08), and now is at $61 (as of 11-10-08). That’s a 51% drop in three months, and the drop had no end in sight.

World stock markets have tanked in the past four weeks, with trillions of equity and investments being lost.

Iceland faced default on its national debt. (Iceland???)

Iran is still enriching uranium, and the West still claims they are working towards a nuclear bomb. IAEA says otherwise.

Israel is bleating the war drums loudly.

The now multi-trillion-dollar bailout did nothing to help the market or the consumer.

Russia is on the rise from being flush with petroleum money and is revamping their army, navy, air force, and infrastructure.

The Pakistani people are getting agitated against U.S. efforts to track down and kill al-Qaeda in Waziristan.

Iraq is supposedly winding down, but troops aren’t coming home yet.

Afghanistan is heating up, and there is little chance of improvement there.

Unemployment and foreclosures are still on the rise in the U.S. as the recession continues and takes its deepest dive yet.

What does this all mean?

In a word, war.

Yikes!

What can we do?

We must be an organized and concerted effort to pressure our leaders to exercise proper leadership, not to just beat the drums of war because of campaign dollars or market profits for cronies, but instead to work with the world to forge peace as a means to develop prosperity, to turn around the negative attitudes and get nations to work on peaceful mutual interests and trade without foreign entanglements.

That effort starts with the grassroots of the world, from the bottom up, to get the leaders, elected or not, to do the right thing, not only for their own people, but for all people.

It starts with US: We, the people, who opposed war with Iran by a 4-1 margin a year ago and by an even more resounding 93% in June.

Antiwar.com is leading the charge to educate and inform the public, to get our leaders to actually lead, to wage peace and work for a better tomorrow.

With your donation, they can continue this fight, and help us avoid the economic and political destruction of America, and possibly the world.

For more information on how you can help, please contact Development Director Angela Keaton at akeaton@antiwar.com or 323-512-7095.

Won’t you join me in donating to help promote peace? It’s for our future.

Sincerely,

Michael Seebeck

 

 
Angela Keaton
Development Director
Producer, Antiwar Radio
Antiwar.com
Office: 323-512-7095
8am-6pm (Pacific)
323-512-7095
Cell: 310-729-3760
Fax: 602-801-2659

George Phillies: In defense of Angela Keaton, Part 3

In Corruption, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest, Republican, Torture, War on October 6, 2008 at 9:17 am

The following was written by George Phillies, and is reproduced with permission.

In a prior post, I reminded readers that the Libertarian National Committee had voted to ask Angela Keaton to resign. They then considered a motion to expel Keaton from the LNC. It is inescapable that Keaton will soon need a coherent defense against the forthcoming motion of expulsion. In this and following messages, I offer such a defense. [With thanks to Elfninosmom for some text that I am borrowing.]

In the prior post, I proposed that Keaton’s acts were far less serious than the acts of Bob Barr, who while on the LNC had through his PAC supported Republican Federal candidates. However, the LNC did not subject Barr to any penalty. When Barr was not penalized for far more serious acts, it is transparently unjust to penalize Keaton.

Of course, for this defense to be valid, there is one key question:

Did Barr’s PAC actually support real Republicans?

Search the Bob Barr Leadership Fund filings for the current Congressional cycle. A list of Republicans running for Congress as incumbents and supported by Barr’s PAC includes the names Gingrey, Ros-Lehtinen, Flake, Hayes, Hensarling, Kingston, Pryce, Rehberg, Jones, and Shays. Barr’s PAC also supported incumbent Republican Senators, including Chambliss, Specter, Coleman, Craig, Graham, Hagel, Sessions, Smith, and Sununu.

Yes, that is the same Sununu who is running against my good friend Libertarian Ken Blevens for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire.

Every one of these Republicans was elected from a state with an organized Libertarian Party. A loyal Libertarian would want every one of those Republicans to face a Libertarian Party opponent. A loyal
Libertarian would never have dreamed of supporting Republicans, all of whom would hopefully have Libertarian opponents.

In fact, while Bob Barr sat on the LNC, Barr through his PAC supported every Republican I named above, yet faced no penalty from the LNC for his acts.

One might try to argue that some of these Republicans turned out not to have Libertarian opponents. If they had no Libertarian opponents, you might try to argue that support for the Republican made no difference, because the support did not cause a Libertarian to lose.

In 2007, you couldn’t predict which Republicans would not have Libertarian opponents.

Besides, when you donate to a candidate, your money counts twice. It counts once for that candidate. It counts again for the candidate’s party. When Bob Barr through his PAC donated to Republican candidates, he was strengthening his Republican Party, at the expense of our Libertarian Party.

The LNC did not respond to Barr’s actions by imposing any penalty, so therefore it would be unjust for the LNC to impose a more serious penalty on Keaton when her deed was less severe.

Finally, you might seek to argue that those Republican Congressmen were libertarians in disguise, flying a false flag to enhance their chances of election. Such a claim is devoid of merit.

Nine of those ten Congressman opposed leaving Iraq. Nine of ten supported military kangaroo courts. Eight of the ten voted to give Federal Courts jurisdiction over the Terry Schiavo case, voted to support warrantless wiretaps on your telephone, and voted to pervert the Constitution to install a ban on burning the flag. Torture is supported by a majority of these Congressmen.

These Congressmen were in no sense Libertarians. See Appendix B for more detail.

Every Senator I list as being supported by the Barr PAC voted to allow warrantless wiretaps and monitors of virtually every form of communication in America. Every Senator listed voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act. Every Senator listed voted for a Constitutional Amendment to ban flag burning. Eight of the nine voted to fund the war. Seven of nine voted against an antiwar withdrawal motion. Six of nine voted to advance a constitutional amendment blocking gay marriage.

These Senators were in no sense Libertarians. See Appendix C for more detail.

However, the LNC did not take punitive action in Barr’s case, so therefore it would be unjust for the LNC to take punitive action in Keaton’s less serious case.

APPENDIX A. Here, name by name, are the Congressmen Barr supported and a table showing their individual votes on some critical issues

Flake 1 2 3 4
Gingrey 1 2 3 4 5 6
Hayes 2 3 4 5 6
Hensarling 1 2 3 4 5 6
Jones 5 6
Kingston 1 2 3 4 5 6
Pryce 1 2 3 5 6
Rehberg 1 2 3 4 5 6
Ros-Lehtinen 1 2 3 5 6
Shays 1 2 3

(1) Vote 836: S 1927: The bill gives U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order. Civil liberties and privacy advocates argue the bill jeopardizes the Fourth Amendment privacy rights and allows for the warrantless monitoring of virtually any form of communication originating in the United States.

(2) 7/12/07 Vote 624: H R 2956: This bill would require the president to begin reducing the number of U.S. troops serving in Iraq 120 days after its enactment and would require most troops to be withdrawn by April 1, 2008.

(3) 9/29/06 Vote 508: S 3930: Military Commissions Act

(4) 12/14/05 Vote 630: H R 2863: Supported a ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees held by U.S. forces

(5) 6/22/05 Vote 296: H J RES 10: This vote approved the proposal of a Constitutional amendment to ban the desecration of the American flag.

(6) 3/21/05 Vote 90: S 686: Gave federal courts jurisdiction in the Terri Schiavo dispute.

APPENDIX B: Here are Senators the Barr PAC supported with a table showing individual votes.

Chambliss 1 2 3 4 5 6
Coleman 1 3 4 5 6
Craig 1 2 3 4 5 6
Graham 1 2 3 4 5 6
Hagel 1 2 4 6
Sessions 1 2 3 4 5 6
Smith 1 2 4 5 6
Specter 1 2 3 4 6
Sununu 1 2 3 4 6

(1) Vote 309: S 1927: This amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 passed 60-28 on August 3. Civil liberties and privacy advocates argue the bill jeopardizes the Fourth Amendment privacy rights and allows for the warrantless monitoring of virtually any form of communication originating in the United States.

(2) 5/24/07 Vote 181: On the Motion: Fund the war. This $120 billion dollar package was passed in the Senate by an 80-14 vote on May 24.

(3) 3/29/07 Vote 126: H R 1591: This $122 billion war spending bill calls for combat troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq this summer.

(4) 6/27/06 Vote 189: S J RES 12: This vote would have given Senate approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Congress the authority to ban “desecration of the American flag”.

(5) 6/7/06 Vote 163: On the Cloture Motion: A Senate cloture vote on the gay marriage amendment failed, effectively killing the amendment.

(6) 3/2/06 Vote 29: H R 3199: Reauthorized a slightly modified version of the 2001 USA Patriot Act.

Sarah Palin: competent? libertarian?

In Humor, Iraq War, John McCain, Media, Republican, Sarah Palin, Second Amendment, Terrorism, War on September 29, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Let’s get the libertarian thing out of the way.

The answer is no

.

Lisa Nova presents a couple of humorous portrayals, giving different views of Palin’s competence level.

In Clip #1, Palin is portrayed as very competent (and ruthless).

In this one…not so much

Russ Verney says Bush showed “incredible leadership”, makes excuses for Barr’s no-show at Ron Paul event

In Crazy Claims, George Bush, Iraq War, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Ron Paul, Terrorism, War, Wayne Allen Root on September 11, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Yet Verney still fails and refuses to recognize that Barr has absolutely no authority to replace Root with Ron Paul, or anyone else.  By the way, where’s Osama bin Laden?  We can see a quarter on the sidewalk from space, but we can’t find a strange-looking human giant?

Dear Friend,

Before I move forward with an important report for today, I would like to recognize and remember the 2,819 men and women who lost their lives seven years ago. As a result of the attacks of September 11th, Americans came together, setting aside differences in order mourn our shared losses and assist our neighbors in need.

May we never forget . . .

In times of crisis, strength in leadership requires boldness of character, clear direction and firm resolve. As we witnessed after the attacks of September 11th, President George W. Bush showed incredible leadership as he stood atop a fire truck amidst the rubble of the twin towers to rally America.

While the quality of leadership is rare enough, principled leaders are few and far between. Those who do appear to posses the traits necessary to lead, for reasons only known to themselves, frequently choose not to stand on principle.

Yesterday, our vice presidential candidate, Wayne Allyn Root, offered to step aside to allow Congressman Ron Paul an opportunity to serve on the presidential ticket of the Libertarian Party and move the agenda of Liberty forward.

On the surface, a simple offer was extended. In fact it was principled leadership at its finest.

Wayne Allyn Root showed his deep commitment to the principles of our cause. Without hesitation or regard to the effort, time and personal funds he has committed to the issues of freedom, smaller government, less taxes and the Libertarian ticket, Wayne offered to step aside to allow another leader to step up.

I could not be more proud of his actions and selflessness.

As America is hurling towards crisis on many fronts, we need principled leaders like Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root. We have no time to waste on anything other than spreading the message of smaller government, less taxes, and more personal freedom issues across this nation.

That brings me to my next point.

Today our campaign is being criticized by a few people for my decision to not attend a press conference sponsored by Ron Paul’s political action committee. I thought I would take a minute to explain to you why I made that decision.

It became evident to me after meeting with Ron Paul’s staff that this media event was not about promoting the liberty agenda; it was about promoting a man. That’s not what we’re in this for.

After rumors were spread in advance of the news conference that Bob Barr was dropping from the race – just to hype the event – I became even more hesitant to attend. Those tactics were unacceptable and when asked about it, Ron Paul’s staff simply smiled and said it would attract the press.

When I was provided a copy of Ron Paul’s prepared remarks just hours before the start of the planned news conference it became clear to me that the message Ron Paul intended to deliver was essentially to scatter the votes for the liberty agenda to the four winds.

His remarks not only encouraged anyone listening to support any one of four candidates, he also applauded ‘non-voters’. To me encouraging people not to vote is not principled leadership for the Liberty agenda.

I made the decision that attending that news conference was not consistent with Bob Barr’s principled leadership for the Liberty agenda.

Once I informed Ron Paul’s staff of my decision I was rudely informed that my decision would have permanent ramifications, I was personally threatened and Bob Barr was politically threatened. That’s a far cry from principled leadership.

One thing that did occur as a result of yesterday’s events is a clear separation of certain factions. Up until now, we have been dealing with two groups, those who want to advance the issues of liberty and those who have been drawn into a cult of personality.

There are those who support a specific politician and then there are those who support the liberty agenda regardless of standard-bearer.

Bob Barr, Wayne Allyn Root and the Libertarian Party stand for the issues of personal freedom and responsible government. As they have proven, both Bob and Wayne are willing to lead or follow for the advancement of our issues.

Now is their time to lead.

As we move into the final 50 days of the campaign we are in place to make a strong impact on the future of our country.

At the end of the day, the number of votes cast in support of the Liberty agenda in the General Election will influence the national political agenda of the next four years.

If we do our jobs, work hard and give us much as possible until Election Day, our voices will be heard and our agenda of smaller government, lower taxes, more personal freedom and government accountability will be on the table for years to come.

I appreciate your commitment and dedication.

Sincerely,

Russ signature

Russell Verney
Campaign Manager

Angela Keaton’s report from Rally for the Republic

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Iraq War, Law Enforcement, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Police State, Politics, Protest, War on September 5, 2008 at 10:28 am

The following was written by LNC member and Antiwar.com Development Director Angela Keaton, and was provided to LFV by the author.  Thanks, Angela!

While stationed for Antiwar.com at an alternative to the GOP’s convention, I stayed at the Hotel Saloon, Minneapolis’ only gay motel. I highly recommend it and both the Saloon Bar and Pi, the lesbian bar. Didn’t make it to the Gay 90s a few blocks down but some Ron Paul supporters received some acceptable adult gay entertainment there.

The butch who owned Pi said it is acceptable to support Ron Paul just as long as you call him Ron Paul and not “Dr. Paul, cuz that’s creepy.”

The police and secret service were in full force. Pumped up on Starbucks, I foolishly challenged two police officers and two secret service agents much to the amusement of former Outright ex com member Mike Nelson. They were complaining about the presence of “anarchists” in their fair city. I asked if they had ever met an anarchist. “You just did, here’s my card.”

The LP had a presence there but unlike some of the published pictures, it was mostly staffed by two volunteers (Rich Paul and another man whose name I did not get.) The Barr workers and LP staff were nowhere to be found save when I bumped into too attractive to be a libertarian Austin Petersen.

Frankly, the booth was unremarkable bordering on unprofessional. The fact that the LP paid twice the price that Antiwar.com paid for such a sloppy display is why it was the right thing for me to discontinue raising money for the LNC.

People noticed the lack of quality and it reflected poorly. Image does matter. The bags were nice though.

An Antiwar.com donor was also staying at the Hotel Saloon for the Ron Paul event. He’s a Catholic lay leader and rebukes religious people who would vote for a mass murderer just to avoid gay marriage. Something that those who attended the “other” event should reflect upon.

Keaton, an anarchist, no hyphen

LPKY repudiates Landham again

In Activism, Celebrities, Crazy Claims, Iran, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Middle East, Minorities, People in the news, Police State, Politics, Protest, Terrorism, War on August 5, 2008 at 2:36 am

PolitickerKY reports that Sonny Landham, the controversial Kentucky candidate who advocates economic nationalization, culture wars, and the use of a tax-funded military to conduct a war of genocide so that the US can appropriate other people’s oil, has been repudiated by the LP a second time. It appears that Sonny Landham will not be on the ballot at all this year.

For anyone who is not familiar with this story, Independent Political Report previously covered it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Many of the same Landham stories, and a few others, received additional comments at Last Free Voice:

Worst candidate actually on the ballot this year?

Todd Andrew Barnett condemns LP Senate candidate Sonny Landham for anti-Arab remarks

Letters from LFV mailbag: Gene Trosper on Sonny Landham

Lance Brown launches petition re Sonny Landham’s racist remarks

LPKY: Landham “not on the ballot yet, and we control ballot access”

Press Release: Todd Andrew Barnett condemns Sonny Landham for genocide statements, praises Libertarians Against Landham petition

Libertarians drop Sonny Landham

Sonny Landham: the floater that just won’t stay flushed

LPKY withdraws support from Landham

Landham: back on the LP ballot line?

The PolitickerKY story:

An effort to re-nominate former actor Sonny Landham as the Libertarian Party of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidate was rejected by a vote of the party’s executive committee, chairman Ken Moellman told PolitickerKY.com today.

“The motion to put Sonny back on failed,” said Moellman. “At this point, it appears he will not be our candidate.”

After a month as the prospective Libertarian candidate, Landham was stripped of the party’s support after he made a string of anti-Arab comments topped by what could be interpretted as advocacy for a potential Arab genocide.

The Party’s executive committee initially voted unanimously to withdraw Landham’s nomination on July 28, after earlier launching a petitioning campaign to gain ballot access for both Landham and Libertarian presidential nominee and former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, of Georgia. That campaign gained 7,700 signatures, according to Moellman, which is more than required for ballot access.

After losing the nomination, Landham said he would continue as an independent candidate, but it became clear he would have to collect 5,000 “original” petition signatures for ballot access – a task deemed “impossible” by Moellman, given the limited time window.

The vote to re-nominate Landham as a Libertarian came about because Moellman said it was not the party’s goal to kick Landham off the ballot entirely when removing their nomination.

“There are other factors involved here. It’s more for the third party and independent movement in general,” said Moellman during an appearance last week on the Weekly Filibuster radio program. “While that is not directly related to the LP, we have some concerns in that regard.”

Still, the Party’s executive committee ultimately did not embrace those factors, rejecting the efforts to renew Landham’s ballot slot.

Moellman said the second vote came after the party received comments about Landham’s candidacy from across the country after his controversial remarks about Arabs. A “majority” of the feedback was received from outside of the state, and Moellman said “100 percent” of that communication was opposed to Landham.

From within the state, Moellman indicated responses were “pretty minimal,” noting 60 percent of them were against Landham’s continued candidacy as a Libertarian, with 40 percent supporting Landham. Moellman noted that those Kentuckians contacting the party were largely not Libertarian Party members.

With petitions for ballot access due in to the Secretary of State’s office by August 12, the Libertarians are armed with signatures but no Senate candidate.

Moellman said the party was investigating their legal options and the possibility of replacing Landham, though early indications from the Secretary of State’s office were that the signatures could not be applied to another candidate.

Landham did not return requests for comment.

Landham: back on the LP ballot line?

In Celebrities, Crazy Claims, First Amendment, Immigration, Iran, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Middle East, Military, Minorities, People in the news, Politics, Second Amendment, Terrorism, War on July 30, 2008 at 5:48 pm


PolitickerKY
reports

The Libertarian Party of Kentucky will reconsider its endorsement of Senate candidate Sonny Landham Wednesday evening, just days after initially disassociating their party from his bid. This news comes after the office of Kentucky’s secretary of state announced yesterday that Landham would need 5,000 new petition signatures to secure ballot access to run as an independent.

“We’re really stuck,” said Libertarian Party chair Ken Moellman. “We don’t necessarily want to kick him off the ballot.”

The requisite signatures for Landham’s ballot access were already reportedly obtained by Libertarian canvassers, but – without the Libertarian endorsement – Landham would need original signatures for an independent candidacy.

With an August 12 deadline for petition submissions, Moellman has said obtaining 5,000 new signatures in that window would be “impossible.”

Landham was initially stripped of the Libertarian Party’s endorsement in a unanimous 9-0 vote of their executive committee on Monday night. That vote came after Landham made a series of anti-Arab comments that culminated in his advocacy for a potential Arab genocide.

“When you are in a war, you kill every thing that moves,” responded Landham, when asked if he supported such a dramatic position.

Libertarian Party leaders initially sought to distance themselves from Landham’s comments, with Moellman noting they were not in line with the Party’s philosophy.

With his candidacy in the balance now, Moellman says Kentucky’s difficult ballot access process has the Party reevaluating its decision.

“Now, he will have one of two options,” said Moellman. “A – he runs as a Libertarian or, B he doesn’t run.”

“Our goal was not to kick him out,” added Moellman. “We are in a tough spot.”

Moellman said the ten-person state Libertarian Party Executive Committee will use an “online” voting system tonight to determine whether to reinstate Landham’s endorsement.

“We’re trying to work it out,” added Moellman.

Moellman said their dilemma would not exist if Kentucky’s ballot access procedures did not require 5,000 signatures for “third-party” candidates.

“I wish ballot access was a heck of a lot easier,” said Moellman, who said the number of signatures required for Democratic and Republican candidates was two – a far easier number for Landham to obtain as an independent candidate.

At
Delaware Libertarian
, Steve Newton explains why this is of national significance:

A Secondhand Conjecture is not a Libertarian blog, although it certainly displays some pretty consistent libertarian leanings.

As I read this post analyzing the Sonny Landham flap and the Libertarian Party of Kentucky, I think Lee hits it right on the money:

Looks like the Libertarian Party of Kentucky has dumped Sonny Landham, previously their clinically insane pick for US Senate. Good for them. Even if given the psychopathic nature of Landham’s views, I feel a little like I’m congratulating them for breathing.

While the Obama campaign might like to think that the LP could pose a serious threat to John McCain in Georgia, the Landham misadventure only reminds me yet again of the extraordinary amateurishness that seems to characterize almost all Libertarian Party political campaigns. There’s simply no excuse for failing to properly vet a candidate you intend to challenge for the seat held by the Senate Minority Leader.

As a former Hollywood actor and convicted criminal, it wouldn’t have been particularly difficult to uncover Landham’s violent imagination or deplorable associations with rightwing hate groups. A simple YouTube and Google search might have sufficed in fact.

I recently quoted a representative of the Libertarian Party of Texas noting that we need fewer paper candidates, and more people out there actually campaigning. True. But we also have to stop feeling so needy that we open our arms to accept people who are not only not Libertarians, but whose calls for bombing other countries over trade issues make us look like total losers.

Reminder: there’s still a
petition
for the LPKY to not give its ballot line to Sonny Landham.

The bipartisan surveillance state

In Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Democrats, First Amendment, Fraud, George Bush, History, Human Rights Abuses, Iraq War, Law, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Middle East, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Terrorism, US Government, War on July 24, 2008 at 10:59 pm

Anthony Gregory in the San Diego Union Tribune:

The Democratic Congress passed and President Bush signed the “FISA Amendments Act of 2008,” legalizing the president’s illegal wiretapping program.

The law allows broad warrantless surveillance of Americans in the United States, so long as the call or e-mail is thought to be international.

Eavesdropping on domestic communications is legal for a week before court papers even have to be filed. The telecom companies that cooperated with Bush are immune from civil lawsuits. Most important, the administration’s illegal conduct has been retroactively approved and future administrations have wider powers than ever to spy on Americans.

The Democratic leadership and virtually all congressional Republicans approved the law. In a complete reversal of his campaign promise, so did Sen. Barack Obama. Last October, his campaign announced, “To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.” Instead, he voted to prevent a filibuster and then he voted for the bill.

Democrats and Obama supporters defend the betrayal with hollow claims that the law actually protects civil liberties. Why then was Bush so eager to sign it? Missouri Republican Sen. Christopher Bond, a leader in this “compromise,” says “the White House got a better deal than even they had hoped.”

Two years ago, the Democrats seemed outraged after we learned Bush had ordered the National Security Agency, a military outfit, to spy on Americans without warrants, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Now they control Congress with good odds at the presidency. Power and the hope for more power corrupt.

The shamelessness of the neocon business press

In Drug War, Iraq War, Media, Politics, War on May 1, 2008 at 5:25 am

Investor’s Business Daily is a great paper for monitoring the financial markets. It’s also great for monitoring the deranged hysteria of the right-most Fascist fringe of the neoconservative movement.

Wednesday’s editorial page featured an absolutely shameless hit-piece against the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Although I do not agree with Rev. Wright’s racially collectivist views, his foreign-policy outlook seems right on the money, at least from what I’ve read and heard. But IBD characterizes Wright’s politically incorrect truth telling as “lying.” Apparently, anything said against the Regime qualifies as a “lie” — regardless of whether it is factually accurate or not. Ignorance really is strength!

From the article:

It’s a lie that the U.S. government pumps drugs into the black community to entice black men into prison. . .

Really? So agents of the U.S. government, i.e. the FBI, don’t sell drugs as part of undercover operations? Is that what IBD is alleging here? With a straight face? Come on! But of course, the federal government’s “pumping” operations go much deeper than that. Even if widely documented accounts of the CIA drug trafficking can be denied, it cannot be disputed that the U.S. government’s unconstitutional prohibition of illicit drugs results in reduced supply, higher prices, greater profits, and stimulated demand.

I guess one could quibble over what the definition of “pumping” is. But can you believe that IBD actually had the audacity to go here?

Wright added another lie — that if we wanted to know if Saddam Hussein was using chemical and biological weapons, all we had to do is check our sales records: “We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people.”

I know plenty of neocons who don’t even deny this fact — even neighborhood fascists who still claim Saddam had WMDs buried in the desert! One has to truly be oblivious to reality to characterize the above as a “lie.”

Now how about this one:

“We have troops all over the world, just like Rome had troops stationed all over the world. That notion of imperialism is not the message of the gospel of the prince of peace, nor of God, who loves the world.”

What is IBD saying when they say the above is a lie?

  • We don’t have troops stationed all over the world?
  • Rome didn’t have troops stationed all over the world?
  • Imperialism is the message of the gospel of the prince of peace and of God?
  • God does not love the world, but in fact hates it?

I know; it’s all of the above.

But if you think it couldn’t get worse, just read how IBD actually portrays U.S. military presence in the Middle East. This is no joke, they really wrote this:

We prefer to think of Marines engaged in Operation Iraqi Freedom and its aftermath not as imperialist murderers but as heroes laying down their lives for their friends. Greater love has no man.

I’m sorry. I should have warned you to have a barf bag at hand before reading the above. I hope you didn’t sully anything precious.

It’s one thing to disagree with the traditional American foreign policy — the non-interventionism of Washington, Jefferson, the Old RIght, and (apparently) Jeremiah Wright. But to label politically inconvenient truths as lies just because they don’t support the neocon agenda is beyond the pale — even for the bloodthirsty chickenhawks at IBD.

It seems as though neoconservatism is legitimately a mental illness (Thomas Szaz be damned). The only question is whether or not these clearly deranged individuals even have any conception of what the truth is anymore. To neocons, the “truth” is merely the opposite of whatever the Goldstein of the day says. We were always at war with Eurasia.

LP Presidential Candidate, Senator Mike Gravel, Interviewed By Newsweek

In Barack Obama, Censorship, Democracy, Democrats, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Media, People in the news, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Republican, US Government, War on April 1, 2008 at 12:11 am

Senator Mike GravelSenator Mike GravelLP Presidential candidates normally don’t get this level of media exposure, ever. Senator Mike Gravel’s switch to the Libertarian Party is causing a great deal of positive mainstream media attention. Below is an excerpt from the Newsweek interview, posted today. I will note that Last Free voice beat Newsweek to the punch, interviewing Senator Gravel within 48 hours of his decision to run as an LP candidate.

After the crowded presidential primary shrunk from eight Democrats and 11 Republicans to only three viable candidates between the two parties, what’s a spurned presidential hopeful to do? Well, if you’re Ron Paul, you ignore John McCain‘s inevitability and keep running anyway. If you’re former U.S. senator Mike Gravel, you switch parties.

Last Monday, the former Democrat swung by the Libertarian Party‘s national headquarters and defected. “We handed him a [membership] card on the spot,” says Shane Cory, the party’s executive director. Two days later, Gravel formally announced he would run to be the Libertarian candidate for president, joining a field of 15 others. Cory wouldn’t comment on Gravel’s chances at the convention, which will take start in Denver on May 22, but he did say that Gravel’s party swap has garnered some much-appreciated exposure for the Libertarians.

Gravel spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Sarah Elkins about the 2008 race and why he’s still running. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You’ve been a Democrat for your entire political career. Was it a tough decision to switch parties?
Mike Gravel:
It had been eating at me–believe me–ever since I was a senator [he served from 1969 to 1981]. When I was in the Senate, I was a maverick and, at the end of my term, I was not particularly happy with my progress in terms of partisanship with the Democrats and Republicans. So when I left office, I stayed away from partisan politics altogether. But when I decided to get back in the game and to get my message out to the American people about the National Initiative [a political movement that would allow ballot initiatives at the federal level], I had to pick a party that would allow me to get into the debates … But of all the parties I was probably closest to the Libertarians.

It sounds like you’ve been interested in leaving the Democratic Party for some time. Why didn’t you make the move sooner?
It wouldn’t have made any sense for me to enter the race as a Libertarian. [As a Democratic candidate], I got into the debates and got a fair amount of visibility up until General Electric [which owns NBC] along with the Democratic Party leadership, said they would get me out of the debates. And they did. GE said I did not meet their criteria for participating in the debates. I think it’s very interesting that a defense contractor said I had to meet their criteria in order to participate in the MSNBC debates. We’ve really come down in democracy when a defense contractor can decide what the American people hear from a candidate. It was a [Democratic National Committee] sanctioned debate, so we complained to the DNC and found out that Howard Dean had agreed to it and that not a single one of the other Democratic nominees raised a finger in protest, meaning that they were totally tone deaf to the censorship of the military-industrial complex.

So you didn’t consider running as a Libertarian from the get-go?
I would have preferred to run as an independent or Libertarian or Green Party, but I knew that none of those candidates would have gotten any traction. So I used my position as a legitimate Democratic candidate to get my name out there.

You still have to win the Libertarian primary in order to run as the party’s candidate.
I am probably the most well known and certainly the most experienced in terms of running for president and as a government official. I have 16 years of experience in elected office and have been a senator, and I have a great deal of foreign-policy experience.

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You can read the very interesting three-page interview excerpt with Newsweek here.

A Conversation With Mike Gravel

In Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Democracy, Democrats, Drug War, Global Warming, History, Iraq War, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Medical Marijuana, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Second Amendment, Taxation, US Government on March 28, 2008 at 1:21 am

Mike GravelEarlier today, I had an opportunity to speak by telephone with Senator Mike Gravel, a presidential candidate who has switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party. Senator Gravel welcomed my questions, and I had a very positive impression of him. He is extremely well spoken, and quite passionate about many of the issues near and dear to the Libertarian Party.

My purpose, of course, was to ascertain why he decided to switch parties, and whether he truly holds Libertarian views as opposed to only conveniently holding libertarian views in order to get the LP nomination. I quickly discovered that his most basic belief, which he has provably held for over 30 years, is thoroughly libertarian: the right of the American people to bypass and even overturn Congress and the President, when those elected officials act in contradiction to the will of the people.

Senator Gravel believes that “the American people are not empowered to do anything, and this is wrong.” He therefore believes Americans should have the ability to directly make laws through federal ballot initiatives. At present, many states allow citizens to present laws directly through initiatives which, if supported widely enough, will be placed on the ballot to potentially become law; an example of this is Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California. Senator Gravel believes citizens should be able to do the same thing on the federal level, under his National Initiative For Democracy.

The government is a tool, the people can use it. But if the people have the direct power to use it, then you’re going to see the government as a real tool, not the tool you have when the special interests determine how the tool of government is handled, by the lobbyists, who pay for the campaigns, who manipulate you to vote for them. That’s the process that has to change.

When he says that the government has the duty to release information to the public, so they can make sound decisions, he is not blowing smoke, nor is he promoting something he hasn’t already done himself. During the Vietnam War, Senator Gravel released the Pentagon Papers, reading thousands of pages into the Congressional Record, so that Americans would finally know the truth behind that war; and his defiance, by informing Americans of information which was previously viewed as classified, was a pivotal moment in American history.

Under his National Initiative For Democracy we, as citizens, could end the war, end the federal income tax, or pass a federal law allowing Americans to carry guns openly; we could make any law we want, as long as there is sufficient citizen support for it. Senator Gravel says that “the real power in this country does not lie with the leadership, with Congress or with the President; it lies with you, the American citizen”. This program would in fact become an important part of the checks and balances system, which Senator Gravel believes should have been in force from the beginning, so citizens could more easily keep Congress and the President in check.

Of course, when he was running for President in the Democratic Party, the Democrats weren’t very happy with that idea. I asked the Senator whether they oppose it because it threatens their power, or if they oppose it because they believe the average American is unable to make sound legislative decisions. He immediately replied, “Both.” He went on to explain that “the average person in Congress believes they are more intelligent than the average American, and there are a few in Congress who are very intelligent; but at the same time the average American is smarter than the average Congressman, and perfectly capable of making sound decisions.”

His suspicion of the leading presidential candidates was made clear when he said, “Don’t trust anyone who says they have all the answers. Nobody has all the answers; I don’t have all the answers. But the American public knows what is best for them, and I trust them to make those decisions.”

Talking war with Senator Gravel, for someone my age who lived during Vietnam, is like getting into a time machine, and going back to the last destructive war this country faced, when he forced a filibuster to end the draft, and thus end the Vietnam war. Senator Gravel was a maverick, and he defied Congress again and again.

As you may recall, even before we sent troops to Iraq, he warned the American public that there were no WMDs in Iraq. I asked him why, in his opinion, President Bush lied about the presence of WMDs. “Oil. He wanted to get control of the oil, and it’s all just more American imperialism and the military-industrial complex.” He went a step further, and agreed that Bush and Cheney should not only be impeached, but that they should face trial for war crimes. “Americans must stop thinking we’re above the law,” he stated. He believes that the United States should stop getting involved in foreign conflicts altogether, and “stop being the world’s policeman”.

Senator Gravel is completely against the War on Drugs, which he categorizes as a failure. “We spend 50 to 85 billion dollars a year on a drug war that does no good to anybody other than criminalizing people who shouldn’t be criminals. We have 2.3 million people in jail right now, and half of them shouldn’t even be in jail …. if you want marijuana, why not go to a package store? A fifth of gin will do more damage to you, to your health, than will a pack of marijuana. As for the rest of the drugs, why not legalize them and regulate them? We put addicts in jail when they aren’t criminals, but there they learn to be better criminals, to steal and commit crime to feed their habit. It’s a public health problem, and we need to solve it as a public health problem, and save all this money we’re spending to keep people in jail for drugs, $30,000 a year for each of them.”

He is therefore in support of decriminalizing and regulating all drugs. “If you need to get some coke, go to a doctor and get a prescription. If you’re an addict, you’ll have to register so we can help you. But the way we do it now, we catch you with drugs, we throw you in jail, and you don’t get any help.”

With regard to whether legalizing all drugs would increase addiction, he states, “That’s what they told us about alcohol, during Prohibition. Alcohol is more addictive than marijuana. Should you go to jail for having marijuana, when you don’t go to jail for having whiskey and alcohol? It’s a stupid policy, it’s gutless, and it’s damaging our inner cities. Seventy percent of the people in jail are African-Americans, and most of it is for drugs. It’s gutless on the part of our leaders to not solve this, to not treat it as a public health problem rather than a criminal problem ….. For those who say we have a drug problem, yeah, we have a problem, and it’s with stupidity at the highest levels of our government.”

As for those in prison for drug offenses, he would educate nonviolent drug offenders – whether it’s a college degree or technical training – then grant them a full pardon so they can not only be released from prison, but also have the tools they need to immediately become fully productive members of society.

He is for Second Amendment rights, saying “I have a weapon, and I’ll fight to keep it.” Insofar as how openly Americans should be able to carry weapons, he referred me back to the federal ballot initiative, saying that the American people should decide that issue.

When I asked him about reducing the size of government as well as its spending, he agreed that it has gotten completely out of hand, and that severe cutbacks should be made. The first steps would be dismantling the IRS (which would no longer be needed with his national sales tax program), and the “War On Drugs” arm of the DEA (since all drugs would be legalized). He also believes that “if we empower the people to make laws, they will shrink the government.”

I could actually hear the thrill in his voice when one question pointed out that libertarians are, by and large, for open borders. He believes that we have so many illegal immigrants here because our own laws caused them to not have work available in their own country; he states that 1.3 million farming jobs were lost in Mexico when NAFTA was passed. For that reason, he believes repealing NAFTA would cure most of the illegal immigration, as more jobs are created in their home countries. As for those who are already here and don’t want to leave, he wants to simply “put them on the path to citizenship.” He believes that we should create completely open borders, similar to what is in place in Europe, whereby citizens could cross into or from Canada or Mexico, with no questions asked.

It is undeniable that the federal government is deeply in debt, and must raise revenue. Senator Gravel, however, is opposed to the income tax, since it over-taxes the poor and middle-class, and grossly undertaxes the wealthy. He therefore proposes dismantling the IRS altogether. He would replace the income tax with a 23% sales tax, and give a rebate each month to every American family to pay for necessities. Senator Gravel believes that this would allow the poor and middle class, who spend mostly on necessities such as food and housing, to have far more disposable income. He believes this program will create the same amount of federal revenue, but in a manner which is far more fair to the poor and working class.

“I don’t know whether it’s a step to end taxation, but at this point it is a good way to fund needed revenue. Right now we tax income and investments, and investment income is taxed at a lower rate than income. We don’t tax the wealthy, and that’s what’s wrong with our system.” He again reiterated that the American people could make the final decision regarding whether federal taxation should eventually end, through his ballot initiative program.

Senator Gravel believes that Social Security funds should be left alone, rather than used by the government for other purposes as is now the norm. At this point, most Americans have already paid into Social Security. He wants everyone’s Social Security funds invested in the free market, and he wants everyone to get an accounting of their money and interest earned, just as if they had invested it with a bank; and if they die before spending what they have invested and earned, he believes that the surplus in their Social Security account should go to their heirs.

As for private investments, he believes his sales tax program with refunds for necessities will give the average American the additional funds needed to save in an IRA or other investment vehicle, as additional retirement savings to supplement what they have already put into Social Security.

He is aware that many libertarians are against Universal Health Care, but believes his plan will meet libertarian standards. He came up with the idea of a Healthcare Security System 30 years ago. Senator Gravel pointed out that he knows the healthcare system “up front and personal”. One year, he ended up with over $150,000 in healthcare costs, and went bankrupt as a result.

He believes the Democratic health care plan, wherein businesses are forced to provide health insurance for their employees, is “the wrong way to go, because it is not the responsibility of businesses to provide healthcare; their job is to be competitive in the global marketplace.” So instead, he wants to enact a Universal Single Payor Voucher plan, similar to the plan which the Veterans Administration has in place. Every American would be given a health care voucher. The vouchers would have a very modest co-pay, and a very modest deductible. Americans would have their choice of hospitals, their choice of doctors, and a choice of five or six plans. There would be no exclusions for preexisting conditions.

He doesn’t think we need to raise taxes in order to provide health care for all Americans; we just need to make our healthcare system considerably more efficient than it is at present. He believes that if we computerize healthcare records, it will streamline the system, because he says 30% of healthcare cost is in paperwork. He intends to provide every American with basic healthcare services, and if they want more or different coverage, they can choose to buy additional or supplemental plans in the free market.

He is aware of Ron Paul’s belief that the Federal Reserve is responsible for the inflationary effects which are harmful to poor and middle-class Americans. Senator Gravel wants to reexamine the Federal Reserve, and study the gold standard with an eye toward a global monetary system, which will better protect the value of our money in a global marketplace.

Senator Gravel was pivotal in shepherding the Alaska Pipeline though Congress, but at this point he would oppose any effort to drill for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife Preserve. He states that instead, he wants us to end our dependence upon oil within five years. His goal would be to replace oil with alternative energy sources.

I asked Senator Gravel if there was any one moment – a light bulb moment, if you will – in which he realized that he was a libertarian. He stated, “Not really. It’s an awareness that goes back 30, 40 years, that the best way to to change things was from inside, within the power structure. Now, it’s time for a change. I am joining the Libertarian Party to become its presidential nominee. I can take the Libertarian Party to a level they’ve never been before. I am against war, I am against taxing income, I am against the war on drugs. I am for smaller government, open borders, and the ability of the American people to self-govern. I am a libertarian. I scored seven out of seven on Reason’s “Seven Ways To Win Votes” – I am for internet gambling, for medical marijuana (but I go much further than that, by decriminalizing all drugs) …. so I’m more libertarian than Ron Paul, because he scored lower. And I will work very hard as the Libertarian Party’s candidate, I will get the libertarians the national playing field they need to grow. And not just libertarians, either. I will raise the playing field for all third parties.”

All in all, Senator Gravel impressed me as sincere, intelligent, and passionate about libertarian issues. I did not at all get the impression that he is a pseudo-libertarian; I think he’s the real deal, because his actions even decades ago indicated that he is a libertarian. He left the Democratic Party because he realized that they are not receptive to his ballot initiative plan, and are not in agreement with his healthcare plan, his opposition to the War on Drugs, and many other issues. He has the presence, he has the speaking ability and dynamic personality, and he has the name recognition and contacts to place us on a more even playing field.

The Democrats’ loss may very well be our gain.

Senator Gravel suggested that those interested in more information about his views read his book “Citizen Power: A Mandate For Change”, which can be ordered online here. It is also available on Amazon.com, but their new book price is actually several dollars higher than the price on his website. Amazon’s description of the book is as follows.

As author of Citizen Power in 1971, Senator Mike Gravel determined that much of what he wrote then is apropos in America today; hence, the release of Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change that reflects the accuracy of his evaluation of problems then, his current position on a number of issues facing America now, and the process that Americans can undertake to become empowered as lawmakers in partnership with their elected officials. Most chapters of Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change present material from the original book, as well as new information and revised positions. The exceptions are Chapter 2: The National Initiative, and Chapter 7: The War on Drugs. All other chapters cover similar topics in both books, but with the senator’s fresh insights for today’s world. Each chapter ends with how the National Initiative, once enacted, could help solve the problems presented in that chapter. The Table of Contents is as follows: Chapter 1 – Now It’s the Citizen’s Turn Chapter 2 – The National Initiative Chapter 3 – America’s Failure in Education Chapter 4 – Tax Reform – The Fair Tax Chapter 5 – The Health Security System Chapter 6 – National Environmental & Energy Policy Chapter 7 – The War on Drugs Chapter 8 – Crime & Punishment Chapter 9 – The Shroud of Secrecy Chapter 10 – American Imperialism Chapter 11 – Global Governance Chapter 12 – Who Stole the American Dream?

All three customer reviews give the book five stars. There is a “look inside the book” feature, and based on that material and given that it was originally written in 1971, then updated recently, I don’t think there is any real question whether Senator Gravel is a libertarian. Based upon his statements in that book, it appears that he was a libertarian even before there was a Libertarian Party.

Here are the reviews:

It’s all about lawmaking!,

February 25, 2008
By Goodrich (Dearborn, MI USA) – See all my reviews

Those who still want Mike Gravel’s original Citizen Power, but can’t afford to pay over $200 for the few rare copies that are available, will be pleased with the new Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change. In some chapters, Senator Gravel has incorporated substantial excerpts from his original book and then updated his thoughts on each issue, often admitting that his position on a certain issue in the 1970s was naive and that he now views that issue with a mature mind. This is a refreshingly candid look at a presidential candidate’s positions on key issues facing the American people today. Most importantly, however, is Chapter 2 and supplemental appendices about the National Initiative, which Senator Gravel and some of the nation’s top constitutional scholars crafted to empower citizens as lawmakers; after all, lawmaking is the cornerstone of democracy. All subsequent chapters address how the National Initiative for Democracy (NI4D)would work to alleviate problems, such as healthcare and education.

From ending the war on drugs to restructuring the UN,

March 8, 2008

Senator Gravel has produced an engaging book! He presents complex and difficult issues facing the US and the world in understandable prose and proposes solutions that call for transformational change. In response to a legislative process controlled by corporations and special interests Gravel proposes the National Initiative on Democracy that would empower the people to legislate through direct democracy in national referendums on issues. In response to ineffective global governance Gravel calls for a restructuring of the UN including an end to veto powers for the permanent members of the Security Council. I was delighted to see his position on American exceptionalism. Granted that we are #1 in the world in the numbers of people in our prisons, on many key measures such as education, healthcare we are far from being the best in the world. I was most pleased by the optimism of Mike Gravel’s vision for the future of America in the world. He sees solutions to problems such as global warming, energy, and national security through greater cooperation with other countries. The beginning of his space policy statement on page 59 is particularly encouraging: “SPACE REPRESENTS A LIMITLESS FRONTIER for humankind. Laws modeled on the Law of the Sea need to be agreed upon to make energy, natural resources, and knowledge available in a manner that fosters greater cooperation, rather than greater competition, among all nations. In keeping with this spirit, space must not be militarized.”

Gravel’s Populist Manifesto,

March 19, 2008
By D. Douglas (California) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

An eloquent and lucid political manifesto by an increasingly refreshing, honest and prudent politician.
Citizen Power showcases a myriad of power-to-the-people proposals, and sways from your politics as usual demagoguery, while Gravel’s prose is filled with solemnity and earnestness, contrary to his political opponents.
The book’s motif is the National Initiative for Democracy, a populist program that will enable ordinary citizens to become legislatures, moreover eliminating large bureaucracies and big government lapdogs.
An emphasis is brought upon the military-industrial complex and its draconian, unproductive results. Suggesting the ultimate disintegration of the latter, if not grave consequences will ensue
Gravel’s proposals on education is most interesting, and offer an ingenious subsidiary, if utilized in orthodoxy, to our failing educational system.
The War on Drugs chapter was dismaying at least, and produced a sharp contempt for the activities our government continues to perpetuate.

I have probably forgotten important topics of this book, and my review is ultimately asymmetrical and lackluster. I can only recommend this fine book, so you can make your own judgments and discoveries.

Senator Gravel was kind enough to state that, if any of our readers have additional questions, I can phone him again to get those answers. Therefore, if you have any questions which aren’t answered here, post them and in about a week I will give him another call to get your answers for you.

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