Steve G.

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Loving Our Veterans

In Civil Liberties, Human Rights Abuses, Protest on November 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Loving our Veterans

By Don Meinshausen

freedonnow@yahoo.com

 

Despite the holidays of Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day there is little appreciation for veterans. Oh there may be a few generals and politicians pontificating and maybe a parade and a concert but that’s usually seen as patriotic blather for the media and for the declining numbers that remember the conflict or care.  Very few show up. Most go to the beach or stay home.

 

Of course there is not much for the guys who really paid a big price in a war that are still with us.  The amputee, the horribly disfigured, with scarred psyches to match and those who will be in and out of hospitals for the rest of their lives.  And then there are those who were so heavily traumatized that they cannot handle the crowds, the rhetoric and the fireworks will not be brought out or would come out for these events.  It would be too upsetting for all concerned.

 

Now I am not a veteran and I am fortunate enough not to have anyone close to me who was so damaged.  Regardless of what you think of war or a particular conflict you can’t help but sympathize with their situation.  I have thought it would be an interesting experiment to survey those who really suffered in Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq.  I’m not talking about the desk jockeys, short timers or those who saw little action even though they might have been willing to be in harm’s way.  Just to go to the ones who have really suffered and spent some time there and ask  “Was it worth it?”  Maybe they are just as divided as all Americans are years after the conflict. It stands to reason that they would have more wisdom on such conflicts than the pundits, armchair generals and chicken hawks that decide where the next war should be. I think that our wounded vets would be happy to give advice after all that time lying in beds in VA hospitals thinking about their decisions. I think that all of us reading this, hawk and dove alike, would agree that the counsel of such men would be valuable about the worth of war.

 

Most of us men decided not go to war. Only a few avoided due to conscience. Some used the system of deferments to avoid something unpleasant. Others avoided because of fear. Some still agonize over that decision not to serve.  While such a survey would be fascinating, I would not force these veterans through another painful reappraisal.  But many of them who are psychologically fit though scarred, are just waiting to be asked.  Maybe even men in the same unit who fought side by side and suffered the same wounds might have radically different ideas about their service.

 

There was a book called “The Warriors” that showed studies of veterans of different nations and conflicts who were interviewed about why they fought.  The reasons for their participation were not bravery, patriotism, and hatred of the enemy, ideology or religious values.  The primary reason was the bonding of the men who fought side by side and the honor shared between them.

 

This holds especially true for the terribly scarred, whether physically and emotionally, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Let us not make the same mistake we did with the Vietnam veterans who were ignored. They had such high addiction and homeless problems that laws were passed banning discrimination based on service in Vietnam.  The trauma veterans suffer is obvious even after decades have lapsed. It is so widespread that the military is considering asking the government to change the law to allow the use of psychedelics, like MDMA, to treat their veterans PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder.

 

In my middle class hometown of Nutley, New Jersey there was a man named Eddie who was a veteran of the First World War.  He would walk the streets and sometimes started screaming.  He was brought home from the war for being shell-shocked or PTSD.  He still heard the shells explode almost fifty years after the war ended.

 

 

Do you remember the movie “Born on the Fourth of July”?  A young marine shot and crippled in Vietnam returns home and travels with a friend to a town outside the US.  The town is known among veterans for its brothels and bars.  The women there are very sympathetic and very poor and not bad looking.  The movie shows the town as a continuous party with too much drinking. But remember what they have been through. It seems to help but its not officially noted by the veteran’s groups or the VA.

 

This makes sense.  The great sex destinations of the Pacific to this day are Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand and Angeles in the Philippines.  These sex tourist towns got their start courtesy of the US military during the 60’s and were regulated by them.  During the Vietnam War R&R (Rest and Recreation) was called I&I (Intercourse and Intoxication) to the soldiers who went to Bangkok and Pattaya.  Angeles served the Clark Air Force Base and a nearby naval base.  In fact Angeles American Legion Post has a high membership because retirees can find a wife or young girlfriend there who actually wants a relationship. Veterans are very respected here.

 

Back to our disabled veterans who in their minds and remaining body parts are still manly studs and needing affection.  Even with the sexual revolution of carefree contraception these guys find it next to impossible to get laid.  No medal is going to make up for the loss of appearance and self-esteem of missing eyes, hearing, limbs, bodily functions, looks and peace of mind.  Even if they can wheelchair out of a VA hospital, how can these guys go out to a local bar where they will be stared at?

 

There is also the movie “Coming Home” about a disabled Vietnam vet that does get an American woman to fall in love with him with no financial motive.  The American woman happens to be Jane Fonda, and for the life of me I can’t understand why a woman who would go to bat (so to speak) for disabled Vietnam vets is so scorned by veteran groups.

 

There is no movie from a conservative point of view that shows a disabled Vietnam or Iraq war vet who finds love.  Sexual or romantic fantasies via Hollywood would help a lot.  These men still need sex.  These men still need to be held and loved.  The women who provide it whether out of money, personal need or financial support can show love and care as well as any nurse or wife. Some hookers even marry these guys.

 

Many women do this to support parents and their children.  No woman should be forced to be a prostitute, but it can be an ennobling profession.  To be able to combine passion and compassion and give it to guys who may be so traumatized that they cannot respond emotionally is practically sainthood in my opinion. This is the reason that there was in ancient society a tradition of sacred prostitution. Such acts of love and the teaching of love were considered homage to the Goddess.

 

I think of women who respond to soldier’s needs as Valkyrie. They were the Rhine Maidens of German Wagnerian folklore who picked up the dead heroes off the battlefield and carried them to Valhalla or paradise.  Amazon Grace, how sweet the sound, to save a wretch like me.

 

The juxtaposition of sex and death is a powerful one and can be misused. The Valkyrie image was used to motivate women in Nazi Germany to drop Victorian mores and marriage requirements to help repopulate the Reich’s battle casualties in state sanctioned sexual celebration. This release from the strict sexual mores of Germany also was used to motivate potential soldiers as well. The progeny were to be raised by the state or state approved families

This was actually a way to destroy family structure as well as a way to enforce racism.

 

There is a different archetype of women in war that is emerging. There are now women soldiers dressed in khaki to help search and interrogate civilian women and some see actual combat. In Israel they do practically all the jobs that male soldiers do. The more safer, saner and more feminist version of the woman/warrior image is the fantasy/science fiction vixen in Heavy Metal or biker chick attired in studded black leather bikinis and a sword.  Totally hot.  Totally cool.  Sexy, but not my cup of tea and not the model of compassion that might be appropriate here for those traumatized by war.  Besides women are outnumbered by men in the military. Many of these guys can’t get this kind of action, so to poor countries they go.

 

 

In third world countries, twenty bucks for a sex act is more pay than a week’s work in a sweatshop of twelve-hour days.  And you can’t work on your back in a factory or pulling a plow.  Of course the guys are not always so bad and the girls are not always so good.  But with a legal system of brothels men are protected against disease and theft.  Women also have protection against violent and drunken men and predators.

 

According to a prostitution rights activist, based on the Green River killings and other reports there are several unknown serial killers who prey on prostitutes and hitchhikers in every American metropolitan area.  When their activities are illegal and scorned by society, prostitutes are so afraid of the system that many don’t even report rapes, robberies or missing co-workers. The police would rather ignore, exploit or arrest them. In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico many mutilated bodies have been found and hundreds of women are missing.

 

In sex tourist areas even with a quasi-legal format, the hookers are more relaxed and friendly because they are safe from prisons, police rapes and psychotic customers.  Word gets out about who is crazy, alcoholic, dishonest, etc., and these people don’t get hired or serviced as the case might be.  Nicer people become popular and relationships sometimes form and the traditional heart of gold hooker becomes a reality. Extortionist pimping is rare.

 

Here even the most wretched have a chance for passion or even a relationship.  The US military and the State Department is now under pressure by the so-called Christian Right to close this venue even in foreign countries for civilians, soldiers and veterans alike.  We’ve heard it all before for decades.  Prostitution denigrates marriage.  It exploits women.  It gives foreigners a bad image of America.  Sleazy shock journalists, control freaks and moralizers ignore the underlying racism and fascism of attacking poor foreign women who want jobs and relationships with American men.  Nobody asks the servicemen or veterans, who like the ladies’ attention, the ladies themselves or even their neighbors who value the tourist money it brings.

 

Do we care about our servicemen and veterans enough to listen to what they want?  Let me put it this way.  Why don’t all those nice church groups volunteer to give these poor disabled heroes charity sex or porn?  It would be part of the great tradition of pubic support for American servicemen that goes back to World War 2.

 

There were women in America back then called Victory Girls or V Girls like the Valkyrie.  They worked or hung out at USO canteens, dance halls and bars and offered something more sought for than a doughnut. They flouted the strict moral standards of the day by having sex without marriage with soldiers on their way to the front.  In those days any woman who did not hold onto her virginity until marriage was considered a whore. No respectable man would marry her and could have the marriage annulled if she did not bleed on her wedding night. Why should our heroes have to die a virgin or rush into marriage?  These men were risking their lives and honor and the women thought they had an obligation to do the same.  (Venereal disease was such a risk that sometimes they were called VD girls.) . Considering that many soldiers dying young in combat would never have a chance at passion and that many women would not have a chance at marriage due to so many soldiers dying the answer would seem obvious today. But then was a different morality.

 

Still they helped the men the best way they knew to help their morale.  Considering their reduced opportunities to find men during and after the war it was the logical marriage strategy since if the guy came back the relationship could re-ignite.

 

There are many statues of generals and rulers who start and run wars in our parks and military cemeteries. These types rarely see the blood and gore of war and they do profit by it. There are few statues of soldiers who suffer greatly and are poorly compensated for their pain. There are still fewer statues of nurses who had their hands full of traumatized, wounded and needy men.

 

Someday there will be a statue of those whose contribution has been ignored or covered in shame. They took care of our soldiers most deep, personal wants that no one in command would even acknowledge. There should be a statue or some recognition of the V-Girls and prostitutes. They have taken care of wounded, traumatized and lonely soldiers and veterans for ages uncounted.

 

 

But to get that statue a statute need to be repealed. Let’s legalize prostitution to help our soldiers and veterans.  At least send some porn to your local VA hospital.  You do care about veterans, don’t you?

 

Don Meinshausen is a founder of the libertarian movement in that he organized the draft card burning at the 1969 YAF convention, which is regarded in “Radicals for Capitalism” as the “founding of the modern libertarian movement.”  He is also known for his connections with Robert Anton Wilson, Karl Hess and Timothy Leary and being a former political prisoner. He is looking for work in any part of the country.

 

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Libertarianism, Vulgar Libertarianism, and Vulgar Socialism

In Human Rights Abuses, Libertarian, Socialism on October 17, 2009 at 6:34 pm

On September 28th, 2009, Francois Tremblay, a former propertarian anarchist, wrote a blog piece to showcase what he currently sees to be the inexorable problems resulting from a defence of property rights.  In doing so, he quotes extensively from a piece written over thirty-four years ago by capitalism-advocate Walter Block.

In reading Mr. Tremblay’s post, I could not help but to think of how vulgar libertarianism facilitates vulgar socialism and vice versa.  (For those unfamiliar with the terms vulgar libertarianism and vulgar socialism, definitions will be provided below, coupled with examples and analyses.)

The Block piece from which Mr. Tremblay quotes was originally published in 1975 in The Libertarian Forum VIII, no. 9.  Dr. Block’s article, dealing specifically with certain ideological problems he found in the Women’s Liberation movement, does a fine job of inadvertently exemplifying the stigmergic problems of vulgar libertarianism, so I shall start there.  It’s not the simple fact that Block challenges currents within the Women’s Liberation movement that makes his comments of a vulgar stripe, of course, since such challenges need not challenge the validity of the movement as a whole.  Indeed, otherwise good movements should be challenged by radicals who wish to improve said movements by radicalising them.  Instead, the problem is the result of a misunderstanding of the nature and proper constraints of property.

Writes Dr. Block,

It [the pinching that takes place between a secretary and her or his boss] is not a coercive action like the pinching that takes place in the public sphere because it is part of a package deal: the secretary agrees to all aspects of the job when she agrees to accept the job and especially when she agrees to keep the job (p. 6).

My gut reaction here is to say that Dr. Block is wrong.1

And he was wrong, that is, unless he was describing a scenario in which the employment contract specifically allocates to the boss the luxury of pinching or a scenario in which the boss and her employee have mutually agreed to have the sort of relationship where pinching is permissible.2

If this is not what Block was implying, if instead Block was implying that all workers—by sheer virtue of being employees—have de facto agreed to being pinched by their employers, then Block was wrong, and his position was actually in defiance of true property rights.  After all, the woman owns her own body, and does not cease being a self-owner simply because she chooses to seek employment from another human being (i.e., to trade on a voluntary basis the fruits of her labour for something for which she has greater subjective value, e.g., a generally-accepted medium of exchange).  If the employer pinches the employee without the employee having explicitly consented to being pinched, then the employer has usurped from the employee control over the employee’s private property, specifically her physical body, and the employee has every right to sue her employer for such usurpation.

To prevent the employee from issuing such a suit would be just as liberticidal and anti-propertarian as to prevent the employer from firing her employee at any time.

Dr. Block’s insistence here that employers have a de facto “right” to pinch their employees appears to be an illustrative example of what we call vulgar libertarianism.  Vulgar libertarianism is the tendency to see any business-related relationship or institution as de facto just or good.3  Here, Block assumed that if the pinching takes place on private property, it is necessarily consensual by virtue of that fact alone.  While Block was correct to note the differences between private pinching and public pinching, and to point out that the private sector has systemic incentives to eliminate social ills in a way that the government sector does not, he made the irrational jump to concluding that private pinching is somehow not a violation of self-ownership.

It is important that we note the differences between libertarianism and vulgar libertarianism.  While the former is the consistent application of the non-aggression axiom and, by extension, a defence of all justly-acquired, scarce property, the latter is an inadvertent confusion within the libertarian movement between the true free market and the semi-, pseudo-, and un-free markets prevalent under statism.  While it certainly appears true that society has tended to prosper more greatly under state capitalism than under state socialism, nevertheless the libertarian rejects both systems, and confidently predicts that the greatest prosperity the masses can achieve would be achieved under what Rothbard called free-market capitalism or what Spangler calls free-market socialism.

Continued Dr. Block,

There is a serious problem with considering pinching or sexual molestation in a privately owned office or store to be coercive. If an action is really and truly coercive, it ought to be outlawed. But if pinching and sexual molestation are outlawed in private places, this violates the rights of those who voluntarily wish to engage in such practices.

What tortured logic!  This is like saying, “If rape is wrong, then we should outlaw sex.  But if sex is outlawed, this violates the rights of those who voluntarily wish to engage in such practices.”

Of course, the reality is that voluntary sex, unlike rape, should be completely legal precisely because it is voluntary, unlike rape.

Or, “If injecting unsuspecting victims with a drug is wrong, then drugs should be outlawed.  But if drugs are outlawed, this violates the rights of those who voluntarily wish to use them.”

Of course, the reality is that voluntary drug use, unlike forcibly injecting people with heroin against their will, should be completely legal precisely because it is voluntary, unlike forcible injection.

In other words, one does not have to prohibit voluntary pinching (or even voluntary sex) within the workplace to prohibit unconsensual pinching.  It is beyond me how Block ever came to such a silly conclusion.  (At least he realised the virtue in retracting this insanity.)

“The proof,” Block continues,

of the voluntary nature of an act in a private place is that the person endangered (the woman, in the cases we have been considering) has no claim whatsoever to the private place in question, the office or the store. If she continues to patronize or work at a place where she is molested, it can only be voluntary.

This is the same irrationality that leads some people to believe that the state is somehow “really voluntary.”  They say, “You choose not to move somewhere else, therefore you have consented to abiding by the laws of the area.”

Dr. Block would probably reply by correctly pointing out that there is a massive difference between the state and a private, voluntary institution like the free-market firm.  But a violation of property rights does not cease to be a violation of property rights simply because it takes place on another person’s property!

Let us imagine a scenario where radical libertarians have made sweeping victories, and the roads are, finally, all privately owned.  In some cases, the roads may be owned by private firms.  In some cases, they may be co-owned by the residents of the local community in the form of shares.  Whatever the case may be, there is no state ownership, control, or subsidisation of the streets.

Let’s imagine that Smith, who has permission from the owners of Baker Street, goes walking one night down the street and gets murdered by Robinson.  Let’s also say that Robinson is not caught, and thus is not forced to pay restitution for his crime to the family of his victim.

Would this mean that anyone else who traverses Baker Street has agreed to allow others to kill her or him merely by virtue of the fact that she or he has chosen to walk a street where another (Robinson) has been murdered?  Of course not!

Nor would we say that a woman who has been raped on Baker Street has agreed to all further sexual encounters she may have on the street simply by virtue of the fact that she continues to use that street in order to get home.

The only possible exception to this is in the scenario in which the owners of Baker Street have made it perfectly clear to all of their patrons that the street is to be a domain in which people may live out the Hobbesian war of all against all.  Only then could it be said that Smith has agreed to being raped, murdered, or otherwise victimised while traversing Baker Street.  But in any situation where this condition has not been clearly made in advance, it can be nothing but irrational to assume that the victim has “consented” to being victimised!

Let us consider the issue of murder within the home.  If Smith is a guest of Robinson and is standing in Robinson’s home, does Robinson have a right to pull out a gun and simply shoot Smith at will?  Absolutely not.

Robinson does have the right to expel Smith from her (Robinson’s) property, and to brandish her gun if necessary to perform the expulsion.  But Robinson has only the right to use as much force as is necessary to perform the expulsion; she does not have any right to use excessive force, i.e., force above and beyond that which is necessary to encourage Smith to leave.  Since shooting Smith in the head is almost always unnecessary, she therefore only has the right to do this if she feels that she (or her family, or other guests) are actually endangered by Smith.  (This use of force does not, in my opinion, violate the non-aggression axiom because it is a defensive use of force.)

Robinson may also shoot Smith if Smith explicitly consents.  Perhaps Smith wishes to commit suicide, but cannot bring himself to shooting himself.  Thus, he has come to his friend Robinson requesting that she assist him in his suicide.  She is no criminal, in accordance with natural law, for providing such assistance.4

Yet these appear to be the only instances in which one may use this sort of force.  One does not have a right to simply shoot one’s guests, at least not in accordance with natural law.  In a true anarchy where the common legal institutions recognise the supremacy of natural law, one has the right to do whatever one wants except for those actions that would violate the equal rights of others, and since one’s guest remains a self-owner even when she or her invites said guest onto her or his property, the property owner’s property rights clearly cannot extend to a “right” to alienate the property rights of her or his guests.

This bring us back to Tremblay, whose position appears to exemplify a certain vulgar socialism.  Where a vulgar libertarian may assume that property ownership gives one a perverse and totalitarian control over all persons who tread upon one’s property, Mr. Tremblay appears to make the opposite mistake, assuming property itself is perverse and totalitarian.  In fact, we can see that Tremblay makes this mistake by assuming the same property conditions that are assumed by the vulgar libertarians.

Mr. Tremblay writes,

NOTE to all the ancaps who are itching to reply that “sexual harassment is a form of aggression and is simply wrong”: that’s exactly our point. Capitalist property theory allows any form of injustice as long as it’s done “on one’s property.”

I do not know in what sense Mr. Tremblay is using the term “capitalist” here.  If capitalism is to be defined as that mercantilist system of corporate privilege which can only exist as a product of the visible fist of the state, then all libertarians, including anarcho-“capitalists,” are opposed to capitalism.  Contrariwise, if one defines “capitalism” as being synonymous with the free market, then all libertarians, even free-market anarcho-syndicalists and “anti-capitalist” mutualists, are “capitalists.”  But perhaps Mr. Tremblay is using the term in its most basic and value-free sense: a system where one or more person own and may trade ownership of the means of production.

If Mr. Tremblay is using this value-free definition, then he is incorrect to assume that there is any such thing as a “capitalist property theory.”  And if he is using one of the two value-laden definitions I describe here, then he would be well-advised to define which definition he is using, for one’s conclusions may very well be contingent upon which definition is employed.

I’ll simply assume that Tremblay intends to refer to the Rothbardian property theory, which is of course founded on the vitally-important homesteading principle, first developed by John Locke.  Rothbard holds that one cannot own a plot of land merely by claiming ownership over it.  Nor can one own a fenced-off plot of land merely by placing a fence around it.  One can only come to own a plot of land through “mixing one’s labour with the soil,” and as such, when one erects a fence without doing anything to the land that has been fenced off, one can only justly claim ownership of the land directly beneath the fence itself.  This is the Rothbardian property theory.

Rothbard demonstrates quite effectively just how egalitarian his theory of property is in volume one of his Conceived in Liberty (1975).5  Rothbard describes the situation of the evil Virginia Company, which was granted exclusive and authoriarian power by the Crown, granting large tracks of land to privileged elites, elites who in turn would never have been able to maintain dominion over the large tracks if they had been confined by the homesteading principle.  Instead of acquiring and accumulating land through the just means of homesteading and voluntary trade, these elites used labour from slaves and indentured servants to maintain illegitimate control over lands to which they had no right whatsoever.

Assuming Mr. Tremblay indeed did mean to reference the Rothbardian theory of property, let us analyse whether his claim is accurate.  Does such a theory of property allow “any form of injustice as long as it’s done ‘on one’s property’”?  As I have already explained above, it does not.  What I do not believe I have yet sufficiently explained is precisely why it does not.

The short answer is this: the law of non-contradiction.  If I have a right to justly-acquired scarce property that I have either homesteaded myself or that I have acquired through voluntary trade from someone else who has justly-acquired it, it can only be the case that I have this right if and because I justly own my own body and the fruits of my labour.  I cannot justly own any external property if I do not own my own body and the fruits of my labour for, without these prerequisites, how could I ever come to own other things?

Yet, if we live in a universe where the law of non-contradiction is active and real, in a universe in which two contradictory facts cannot both be true, then for a human like me to have a natural right to self-ownership, it must also be the case that other humans also have the same, equal right to self-ownership.  The reason my property ownership cannot justify my murder of you is that our mutual self-ownership is a natural prerequisite to either of us owning any external property in the first place.  To murder you, even if the murder takes place on my property, I must believe that self-ownership is some sort of fiction, and if I do believe it is some sort of fiction, it stands to reason that I cannot accurately be described as someone who believes in any property rights whatsoever.

It is because Mr. Tremblay has recently adopted a vulgar libertarian view of property that he has recently, and unfortunately, declined into a vulgar socialism.6  And this precisely illustrates my point, that vulgar libertarianism and vulgar socialism fuel each other.  The vulgar libertarian sees the vulgar socialist saying “property is theft” and, unthinkingly and uncritically, counters that all property is good.  The vulgar socialist sees the vulgar libertarian saying that big business can do no wrong and, unthinkingly and uncritically, attacks all market activity and division of labour.  Both sides talk past one another, with neither side making any useful progress.

Above, Block assumed that in order to allow voluntary, consensual pinching to take place, we would need to allow all pinching, including involuntary pinching.  Similarly, Tremblay assumes that to oppose involuntary pinching that takes place on private property, we would need to oppose all private property.  In both of these cases, I cannot help but to see the conclusions presented as total absurdities.  If it is true that all pinching is de facto okay, Block certainly has not proved it, and if it is true that abolition of all property rights to external resources is necessary to protect self-ownership, Tremblay has certainly not failed to prove it, either.

Further, in both cases, reason appears to indicate that both are wrong.  It appears to me that reason indicates that a business owner cannot justly claim ownership over her firm if she does not respect the property rights of the self-owners with whom she interacts.  But likewise, it appears to me that reason indicates that if a person has a right to not be pinched, she must naturally have a property right in the scarce matter that constitutes her physical body.7  If this is the case, then it would stand to reason that she also owns the product of her labour, for one’s labour is naturally and indubitably an extension of one’s self.  Thus, in the same way that the vulgar libertarian defies her own belief in property rights when using property claims to “validate” violations of the rights of other self-owners, the vulgar socialist likewise defies her own belief in the invalidity of external property claims when she uses notions of individual autonomy in order to argue against any individual control over those things appropriated from the state of nature through one’s labour.

Therefore, both Block (circa 1975) and Tremblay (currently) appear flawed in their analyses.
  But, perhaps I am wrong.  Perhaps I have misread Dr. Block or Mr. Tremblay—or both!
8  And I’ll be more than willing to consider arguments to the contrary.  In the meantime, all I can say is that I recommend that all libertarians, left and “right,” beware of the lure of vulgar libertarianism and of vulgar socialism alike, for each of them can do nothing good for those who desire liberty, equality, or peace, but instead can only lead to the promulgation of the other.  Let all libertarians, left and “right,” unite, rather than allowing our vulgar variants divide us.

—Alexander S. Peak

Creative Commons License

______________

1 I feel obligated to point out that, according to Mr. Stephen Kinsella, Dr. Block has (I’m happy to say) completely retracted his view on pinching.  On Brad Spangler’s blog, Kinsella quotes Block as saying,

“That passage about secretary pinching appeared in the very first edition (1976) of Defending the Undefendable. When this error of mine was pointed out to me, I immediately insisted that a new edition be published, and those words were deleted from it and all subsequent editions. Those erroneous words of mine were incompatible with the libertarian non aggression principle, and with everything else I have ever written about that subject.”

2 Of course, even if this is the case, the employee is free under natural law to, at any time, no longer consent to being party to such a relationship—just as married couples under natural law are free to divorce at any time.

Let’s say I make an agreement with my boss that she may pinch me at any time, and a year later I decide I no longer enjoy being pinched by her.  I inform her that I no longer consent to being pinched.  She may then threaten to take me off her Christmas list, she may threaten to fire me, she may threaten to call all of her friends and tell them I have a small penis—but what she may not do is initiate physical force against me.  Thus, if she pinches me again even after I inform her that she may not, then she has aggressed against me, and it is my absolute and undeniable right to sue her for this crime.

Unfortunately, Dr. Block would disagree with us on this matter.  He unfortunately believes that voluntary slavery contracts would be enforceable in a free society, despite the fact that Murray Rothbard had repeatedly pointed out that it is impossible for someone to surrender ownership of her or his own body as long as it is attached to the will.  If I make a contract with your recording company to record three albums, and I only record two, the Rothbardian position is that I may not be forced to perform the writing of a third album, and that your recording company is only obliged to fulfill its end of the bargain once I have fulfilled mine.  Block, it would appear, believes that I may be justly compelled with force to write and perform songs for a third album.  It appears like the consensus is against Dr. Block here—most anarchists and libertarians I have encountered reject the “voluntary slavery contract” thesis.

For some interesting thoughts on contract theory as it relates to the current matter of pinching, see Kinsella’s reply to Spangler’s post.

3 Such tendencies often lead otherwise good libertarians into inadvertently defending conditions resulting from statism or aggression as if those conditions were instead the product of market.  The term vulgar libertarian was coined by Kevin Carson.  While I do not agree with Carson on everything, I believe his contribution to libertarian thought in critiquing vulgar libertarianism tends to be rather useful.

4 Nevertheless, it cannot be merely assumed that Smith consents to assisted suicide merely by accepting Robinson’s invitation to enter Robinson’s home.  Nor, I would argue, can it even be assumed that Smith has consented to assisted suicide at the hands of Robinson by breaking into Robinson’s home.  Again, only if Robinson actually feels as though an inhabitant of her home is endangered by Smith—or Smith has explicitly and contractually consented to assisted suicide—may Robinson justly take Smith’s life.  For further thoughts on assisted suicide, see my The Intelligent Yet Flawed Jonah Goldberg, 8 July 2008.

5 It must be admitted that Rothbard would never describe himself as an egalitarian, but this seems to be because he defines egalitarianism to mean the sort of insane, forced “equality” one finds in Kurt Vonnegut’s great short story, “Harrison Bergeron.”

Dr. Roderick Long makes the excellent point that libertarianism is actually founded on a fundamental belief in equality.  Writes Long,

“[W]e must turn from Jefferson to Jefferson’s source, John Locke, who tells us exactly what ‘equality’ in the libertarian sense is: namely, a condition ‘wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another, there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another, without subordination or subjection….’

“In short, the equality that Locke and Jefferson speak of is equality in authority: the prohibition of any ‘subordination or subjection’ of one person to another. Since any interference by A with B’s liberty constitutes a subordination or subjection of B to A, the right to liberty follows straightforwardly from the equality of ‘power and jurisdiction’” (Equality: The Unknown Ideal, 29 September 2001).

6 This is not to imply that Mr. Tremblay (or any other vulgar socialist or vulgar libertarian) is a hopeless case, or even that nothing he contributes to libertarian thought is valuable.  Rather, I am of the hope that this deviation will be short-lived.  For clarity, I do not encourage that anyone treat Mr. Tremblay too hostilely, for such reactionary tendencies are just as likely to lead a libertarian to vulgar libertarianism as they have lead Mr. Tremblay toward vulgar socialism.

7 This point is one that I do not anticipate Mr. Tremblay rejecting.  Even if he rejects the rhetoric I use, and claims not to believe in “self-ownership,” it appears clear he does believe in self-ownership as I understand the term, lest he would not have a problem with the unwanted pinching of secretaries in the first place.  I’ll therefore assume that his anti-propertarianism simply rejects that property which is external to the physical self.  What is important here is the following sentence, in which I discuss the implications of self-ownership.

The reason I do not wish to assume that Tremblay rejects self-ownership is that I do not want to run the risk of employing a straw-man argument.  If Tremblay actually does reject self-ownership, not just in rhetoric but also in fact, then it would be easy to tear down his argument and show how he cannot possibly defend a prohibition of or opposition to pinching without it.  Moreover, if this is actually the case, then Mr. Tremblay would be unable to muster any arguments whatsoever against rape, murder, or even that institutionalisation of aggression we call the state.  But people make straw-man arguments all too often, and I am more than willing to give Mr. Tremblay the benefit of the doubt here.

8 I’ll certainly admit that I have not read everything written by either Block or Tremblay, so it is quite possible that they have written other things that, were I aware of these works, I would have written this entire piece in a very different manner.

Israel’s Biggest Theft of all Time.

In Children, Human Rights Abuses, Libertarian, Middle East, Minorities, Taxation, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on July 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm

I would like to start this by pointing out that when I refer to “Israel” in this piece. I am not referring directly to the people of Israel. I am referring to their government which acts in their name. Just like the American government spreads war around the world with the tax money they coerce out of me, Israel spreads war, death, poverty, inhumanity, and famine within throwing distance of it’s own inhabitants. Even though you might be an Israeli who does not care about the Palestinians or anything about them, please understand that this very second your government is actively killing, harassing, provoking, and starving these people who have a 60%+ unemployment rate in the territory they live in. They cannot rebuild from the last war with Israel because they cannot ship in basic building materials. They cannot seek good health care because Israel has damaged the biggest hospitals in Gaza. Palestinians have no certainty that they will still own the land they live on for any long period of time because of Israel’s illegal settlements that continue to spring up. The worst part of this situation is the theft of time. Palestinians must endure dozens of checkpoints which slow travel time and create hassles for these people on a daily basis.

I don’t think that I have to explain that ‘time’ is the most valuable resource. You can never get it back. It’s one of the most personal things you have. When man invests time into something then part of it becomes his. Time and effort have created all of the buildings and machines that make modern life possible. However, time is an extremely limited and valuable resource. Some spend it carelessly and achieve little in their lives. Some have it stolen through untimely death or imprisonment. Some try to maximize their time and create things to increase the efficiency and speed of the task they are trying to accomplish so that they will not have to spend excess time. Most people have a job or a trade that they do everyday. Your job is a trade-off of your time for money. When time is spent well then you can use it to enhance the life of yourself and your family. When your time is stolen then your death has come a few steps closer, but you take no steps toward your goals. Ultimately the theft of one’s time degrades their legacy.

This is the travesty that is performed by Israel and other governments everyday millions of times over.

I believe that the senseless death and destruction that Israel perpetrates daily can be broken down in to the amount of time and effort they destroy everyday. Every building they destroy in Gaza is the destruction of many people’s efforts. Every time they make a Palestinian wait hours at a checkpoint to go a few miles then they steal some of that Palestinian’s time. The theft is even more deplorable when kill and torture people at these checkpoints. Sometimes people are detained and strip-searched without reason. Young men are beaten without reason. After one is beaten or tortured then more time is stolen from that individual because they have to recuperate. Time is stolen when Palestinians are denied medical care in better Israeli hospitals. Some people die an untimely death because they did not have adequate medical care. Why would this situation be Israel’s fault? Because they destroy the hospitals that would enable the Palestinians to give themselves proper medical treatment.

However this is a double bladed sword. They also waste the time of the Israeli people by keeping the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories going. The men who enlist for the Israeli military waste their time occupying lands and harassing people who pose no threat to them. Israeli generals and bureaucrats pass down the orders that ensure conflict with the Palestinians. Israeli people die as a result of their government’s negligence. Israeli people who live in the settlements stay armed because they stay on land stolen from Palestinians. It’s land that they did not cultivate or plow. It’s land that their family did not grow up farming. Olive groves that could have provided food have been destroyed for illegal settlements. This situation  creates a blackhole that consumes the time of all the parties involved. This blackhole is controlled by Israeli officials who have never seen the bullets and carnage that they create. However they too are trying to make efficient use of their time and efforts. As long as they have radical neighbors then America stays motivated to keep money and weapons flowing to them. Israeli generals and bureaucrats keep fat pockets at the expense of their military personnel, the Israeli people, and the Palestinians.

Apparently the Israeli officials who makes these policies believe that their time is more important than their people’s and the Palestinian people’s time (and lives)…

Peace…

Why Taxes Enslave… Period.

In Austrian Economics, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Economics, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Taxation, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on June 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I often find myself in discussions with people. People who insist that the state is their best friend. People who believe that waging mass murder on the rest of the world is keeping us safe. People who believe that being a serviceman/woman does still serve the good of the world. People who believe that our support for the state is necessary for our well being and that of the world at large. Some people cannot be broken out of this infinitely flawed view. Some of these are the same people who can’t see that capitalism is not the culprit of the current economic crisis or that the same issues that caused alcohol prohibition to fail will be the same causes that make the “War on Drugs” fail.

Oddly, these same people are the ones who’ve never heard of the torture that we carry out at Guantanamo and other “black sights” around the world. They’ve never heard of the illegal detention and kidnapping of people around the world who were tortured, in some cases, and never had the chance to file for grievances with their captors. The daily killings of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan somehow escape their world view. What do these things have in common? The killing, detentions, torture, economic crises, and their continuation are made possible by you and I. Our tax money has not only turned life into a living HELL for other foreign people but it has also enabled the state to use our money to crack down on us. Taser’s, tanks, pistols, missiles, jets, and aircraft carriers are all bought and built with our money.

The money coerced out of me and you not only has resounding macro effects but it also has micro effects like the police state here in the US. Woman, children, and the disabled are being assaulted by cops who are paid by the very people they violate. How else can this occur other than in a state run system. Imagine a company who routinely violates it’s customers. This could not occur in a purely Free Market society because the victimized customers would quickly switch to the competitor and the aforementioned company would suffer great loses and possibly go out of business. Instead we are stuck with a system where the state has a monopoly on security which means that they can treat us any way they want without the risk of losing income. Other municipal systems operate this way too. Instead of water systems finding ways to maximize their water output or conserve they simply cut off water to their customers because they can. Of course in a free market one would be able to switch water companies or other technologies would be created to acquire water in other ways to keep water providers afloat.

So, as I’ve shown above taxes not only fuel wars, torture, monopoly’s, police states, and the war machine, but there are also many indirect consequences. For example the unlawful detention and torture of civilians in other countries creates resentment and hatred for the occupying power. When people are killed then you have others who want revenge against the occupying power (or invader) who committed the atrocity. As a result more enemies are created against the state (who took it’s people’s money (taxes) and used it to create war and mass murder in the foreign land). Some foreigners will want to take revenge on the people who enabled the occupying or invading state to carry out the attacks that killed their loved ones. The attacks that these people carry out in the homeland of the occupying/invading force will in turn be used by that occupying/invading force to justify it’s interventions in foreign countries and might be used to expand these operations. As a result more and more people are hostile toward the occupying/invading country. As a result the occupying/invading state is forced to crackdown more and more on it’s people to stem any attacks that might be carried out by it’s foreign enemies. Thus, the people who enabled their state to take their money for “security” are eventually the ones who the state has to keep itself safe from.

However, this is just one facet of the enslavement that taxes enable. The other facet is one that undermines private property. Certain things like your labor or property (that is acquired from another party) have nothing to do with the state yet they find it appropriate to come in and tax these things. The state has never owned or contributed to 100% of the property in it’s borders so how can it claim to be owed a taxes for 100% it’s use? Likewise, how can the state claim to have a stake in the income you receive from your job? Your labor never belonged to the state so how can they tax you when you trade it for private income (at your job)? The fact that you are taxed in these two ways means that the state feels that it owns us. You can never truly own private property because you must always pay taxes on it or the state will take it. Likewise, if you do not pay income taxes, even though they never owned the money or your labor, they will either take some of your money (a fine) or your time and labor (prison time). Does this sound like an entity “that’s for and by the people”? NO!

In-other-words the state makes freedom impossible for others and it’s own people. The state claims the right to wage mass murder in it’s people’s name while simultaneously taking it’s people’s rights. It creates monopoly’s in certain markets and undermines capitalism. It claims to provide security while being the biggest threat to it. It takes people’s money and converts it into death and destruction on foreign countries. It claims to own everything. It claims to be accountable to nobody.

Peace…

A reply to Rabbi Dr. Pomerantz

In Barack Obama, Constitutional Rights, First Amendment, George Bush, History, Human Rights Abuses, Iran, Libertarian, Middle East, Military, Minorities, Protest, War on June 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Greetings, Last Free Voice community:

Recently Newsmax.com distributed this essay from Rabbi Dr. Morton H. Pomerantz, which accused President Obama of “‘creating a climate of hate” with his “‘code” creating a “danger as great as that posed by the Nazis to the Jewish people”. The Rabbi even insinuated a connection between Obama’s Mid-east trip and Cairo speech with the murder at the Holocaust Museum. While I find many of the President’s actions immoral and unwise, these accusations (and the distortion of the relative threat posed by Israel and Iran to each other) prompted the following reply:

The Rabbi’s conspiracy theory regarding Obama, the Holocaust Museum murder, Israel and Iran is so twisted, off the mark and devoid of reality that it calls his good judgment, and yours, into question. One should be critical of Pres. Obama on many scores, but any suggestion that he is in some way culpable for yesterday’s (06/10/09) unprovoked assault by the loathsome criminal is insulting and absurd. The Statue of Liberty deserves better than to be attached to such an unconscionable screed.

How ironic that as the Likudniks continue their efforts to manipulate America for the benefit of another country and to our detriment, becoming vengeful and petulant at the first hint of the possibility of our country waking up you publish this vile disinformation, meant to gin up hatred and war fever against Iran. Unlike Israel Iran is a signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty, has not invaded or occupied it’s neighbors and has allowed complete and open inspections of nuclear facilities by the IAEA which has declared it to be in full compliance.

How many WMD are they hiding in Israel? How many innocent Iranian – as well as Israeli – civilians and American service personnel would die as a result of an unprovoked Israeli and / or American attack on Iran?

America’s foundation is the recognition that all human beings are born with unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, as granted by our creator.   Theocratic states of all religious affiliations violate these rights and are, contrary to American values. Since “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion..”, according to the First Amendment, it is illegal for Congress or the US Government to support any theocracy anywhere of any faith – Jewish, Muslim or Christian. Private, non-governmental, voluntary support of a foreign cause that does not put the rest of the nation at risk is everyone’s right to pursue to the satisfaction of their own conscience.

Our Founders, including George Washington, urged us to not become entangled in permanent foreign alliances and to not go abroad ‘in search of monsters to destroy’. Considering the harm done to our nation by intervening in quarrels that did not impact our security until after official US Government. involvement, and in light of the outrageous hijacking of American military personnel, safety and tax dollars by advocates for various foreign countries (including, but obviously not limited to, Israel) we can see the wisdom of their admonitions. The American peoples’ blood, treasure and safety are not anyone’s to give on behalf of a foreign country or cause.

Suggesting that is anti-Semitic or hateful to recognize the need for a change in policy that would benefit America is ridiculous, though history suggests we have a long way to go before such a providential change actually takes place. If Rabbi Pomerantz is concerned about dangerous hate activities, he may want to cease slandering Muslims as a group and to challenge these practitioners:

1. Chabad rabbi: Jews should kill Arab men, women and children during war.
2. Prosecution drops indictment against settler filmed shooting Palestinians.
3. Netanyahu Promises Lieberman Pivotal Ministership.
4. Gaza war rabbinical edict draws protest in Israel.

I was part of a group that visited the Holocaust Museum on Memorial Day Weekend. Naturally, it was a very moving experience. All those innocent victims of Man’s Inhumanity to Man! We should never forget what has been done to so many (Turkish Genocide of the Armenians, communist destruction of the Kulaks, Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the holocaust of European Jews, all the victims of the Nazis, Soviets, Mao, etc..etc ) by statist and/or racist collectivists.

We should also never let the terrible crime committed yesterday (6/10//09) against the helpful and courteous Stephen Johns be used to smear innocent people or to promote collectivist political agendae. There are good and bad people of all religious faiths and also, those of no faith. Each human being must be judged on their own personal merits and not as part of a racial, ethnic or religious group.

This response is not an endorsement of the Obama regime, which is continuing which is continuing the bad policies of its predecessors overseas (including terrorist attacks AGAINST Iran by Sunni extremists allied with Al-Qaeda) and is intensifying the socialist, fascistic policies which are creating so many problems at home. God Bless America – and all His other children, too.

Hadji

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…

Live-blogging: Hamilton’s Curse: Chapter 2: Public Blessing or National Curse?

In Books, Censorship, Corruption, Economics, First Amendment, History, Libertarian, literature, Live-blogging, Spending, Taxation, US Government on May 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm

It’s unfortunate that economics is such an esoteric subject, for it certainly impacts all of us.  It’s perhaps all the more unfortunate because of the ease with which the political class can confuse and dupe the public, thereby exploiting the masses.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo begins the second chapter of his Hamilton’s Curse noting that “[g]overnment debt is every politician’s dream” because it allows him or her to “buy votes by spending on government programs…that will make him popular now, while putting the lion’s share of the cost on future taxpayers, who must pay off the debt” (p. 38).

The result of this is obvious enough: we, the taxpayers, never truly grasp how expensive are the programmes with which we’re presented, and so the debt keeps mounting.  The national debt, at the time DiLorenzo was writing his book, had exceeded $9 trillion, with unfunded liabilities mounting around $70 trillion (p. 39).

Then there’s “the biggest government program of all—war” (Ibid.).  The American taxpayer would be much more likely to demand peaceful relations if they were presented with “an explicit tax bill for it” (Ibid.).  Thus DiLorenzo writes, “Taxpayers feeling the sting of gigantic wartime increases would be much more inclined to pressure their governmental respresentatives to limit their military adventures to national defense purposes, as opposed to imperialistic ventures based on more dubious motives” (Ibid.).  And this is why Jefferson held that “the perpetuation of debt, has drenched the earth with blood” (p. 40).

What has any of this to do with Alexander Hamilton? It was precisely Hamilton who “championed,” in pursuit of his goal of bigger, more centralised government and imperial glory, “the creation of a large national debt” (Ibid.).  He did this in two ways:  He (1) encouraged the federal state to assume all of the debt from the old government and (2) encouraged the central government to assume the war debts of the various states (pp. 41, 46).

His first proposal was very popular, as it allowed the political class to become much more wealthy.  Federal politicians and other New Yorkers learned of the federal government’s plans to pay off old war debts at full face value long before the information could filtrate to the rest of the country and the many holders of old war bonds.  These members of the political class, with their inside information, quickly entered the game of speculation, buying up these government bonds around the country from “haplass and unsuspecting war veterans at prices as low as 10 percent of full value” (pp. 41–42).  Republicans and Federalists alike profited from the graft.

This did not sit well with James Madison, however, who proposed that the original bondholders also be paid at full value.  Madison was denounced “as a dreamer” (p. 44).

Hamilton’s second proposal was not as popular as his first.  For one thing, this entire generation saw the various states as free and independent countries, with the federal government being merely a meeting of the states to better secure their basic and collective needs, such as defence or the coining of a uniform currency (p. 46).  For another, the states that had already paid off their debt, such as Virginia, did not want to have to socialise the debt of the other states that had not been in their opinions as dilligent (p. 47).  As such, Hamilton’s assumption plan was defeated in Congress no less than five times (p. 48).  It did not eventually pass until Hamilton struck a deal with Jefferson to allow the U.S. capital to move from New York to Virginia, something Jefferson had desired but the Hamiltonians had, until that point, been blocking (Ibid.).

The reason Hamilton wanted the newly centralised government to assume vast quantities of debt was that “he wanted to tie the wealthy to the state as a permanent, big-government lobbying class” (p. 45).  The primary government bondholders, after all, would be the more affuent citizens, and they would have an “interest in continued borrowing and continued tax increases to assure that they would be paid their principal and interest” (Ibid.).  Therefore Hamilton, not surprisingly, also rallied for higher taxes, “including the notorious tax on whiskey, a carriage tax, and a national property tax (which spawned a tax revolt in massachusetts—the Fries Rebellion)” (p. 43).

Hamilton defended the “[p]lundering of the working class with onerous taxes” because he saw Americans as too “indolent” and held that these harsh taxes would encourage the people to work harder (Ibid.).  Of course, the opposite is true.  The more people have to surrender in taxes, the less motivated they are to work hard.  What’s the point, they ask, when Uncle Sam is taking it all anyway?  Perhaps one of the worst aspect of these changes was the opportunity for a standing army of tax-collectors to be created, precisely what Hamilton had used to squash the Whiskey Rebellion (p. 44, cf. 33–36).  DiLorenzo cites this as “one of the chief reasons why the Anti-Federalists never trusted Hamilton.  A standing army of tax collectors could (and eventually would) destroy states’ rights altogether” (p. 44, cf. 48).

As I expressed in my previous entry, I’m not personally fond with DiLorenzo’s use of the term “states’ rights.”  Governments, after all, cannot possess rights.  Only individuals—and the voluntary associations they create—can possess rights.  The founders understood clearly that states did not and could not possess “rights,” and thus, when they drafted the tenth amendment, they clearly referenced powers rather than “right.”  What this Hamiltonian centralisation of power threatens, therefore, are the powers that were reserved to the states under the U.S. Constitution.

In any event, there were those who opposed Hamilton’s nationalist schemes.  Albert Gallatin of Pennsylvania called Hamilton’s assumption plan “subversive of the rights, liberty and peace of the people,” a view “endorsed by the Pennsylvania legislature” (p. 47).  (Luckily for Gallatin, Hamilton was unsuccessful in his drive to “have Gallatin arrested and put on trial” (Ibid.).)  John Taylor of Virginia pointed out that the Hamiltonian schemes “would result in ‘the accumulation of great wealth in a few hands,’ accumulted through ‘a political moneyed engine.’  It would create British mercantilism in America, in other words” (p. 48).

DiLorenzo also addresses the despicable Sedition Act, which the federal government used to silence Jeffersonians and other Republican opponents of the Federalists’ nationalist agenda.  Many innocent men were arrested under this law, including at least twenty-one newspaper editors, “all of whom supported Jefferson….  No Federalists were harassed by the Sedition Act” (p. 50).  This act, along with the Alien Acts (collectively called the Alien and Sedition Acts by historians), was what lead Jefferson and Madison to author the Virginia and Kentucky Resolves of 1798, thereby nullifying these laws within their state borders.

DiLorenzo attributes the reactionary policies of the Federalists to the 1800 Republican victory.  On pages 51–53, he details the history of national debt in the United States from the time of Jefferson to the present, showing how, over time, the amount of debt the government has opted to take on at any given time has ratcheted upward.  He concludes on page 53 that perpetual government debt “essentially relies on forced labor,” turning today’s citizens into tax serfs, and points out that governments have historically relied in the “hidden tax” of inflation to pay off debt, knowing that citizens do not notice this form of taxation in the same way they notice direct taxes.  Finally he spells out the destructive effects of this approach on pages 54 and 55, and draws the connection between Hamilton’s bad policy ideas and the destructive policies of modern Keynesians on pages 56 and 57.

Overall, I found the chapter stimulating.  Authors do not often comment, especially in any great detail, on the problems with large national debts.  This is probably because historians and political theorists often do not have much background in economics—DiLorenzo does, and is able to incorporate his understanding of this otherwise esoteric subject into his historical analysis.

—Alexander S. Peak

HOW I THINK THE CONSTITUTION CAN BE FIXED (Part I: The Problem)

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Democracy, Democrats, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Republican, Second Amendment, US Government on May 20, 2009 at 7:12 am

I have said many times over many years that I think that The Constitution of The United States is broken.  I have recently been asked to give specific examples of what I mean when I say that.  This is, of course, a very fair question to ask.  To answer it, however, I will both give some background information to help explain WHY I feel the way I do on this subject (which is the topic of this first part of this article) and, as I don’t think that it is helpful when people say what they think is wrong with something without actually offering any possible solutions to the problems that they see, I will also provide specific examples of WHAT I would specifically suggest to fix these perceived problems (which will be the topic of the second part of this article). I will do this by primarily suggesting how I think specific aspects or parts of The Constitution can be improved to better accomplish the goals of the founders.  Now, with my suggested changes, I will not be offering specific wordings for those changes.  I believe it would be pre-mature and a poor process to do so within the scope of this article.  I think that that there needs to be some agreement first about what changes should be made, then establish specific goals and objectives for those changes, as well as agreement on why a specific change should be made and what its purpose would be, and THEN, work on the actual wording to be forever enshrined in The Constitution.  For me, then, to actually propose specific wording changes at this stage in the process would be pre-mature.  In addition, I am rather… verbose… and I personally think that such wording needs to be as concise as possible.

Let me start by telling my readers why this topic interests me and why I feel I am qualified to write an article on this subject.  When I was a 16-year old kid in high school, I was able to get involved in several college student organizations at Texas A&M University.  This was a very unique period at A&M in the mid-1970s, which is what made this possible.  As a high school kid, I was still an outsider in those groups.  This allowed me to be an observer of the organizational group dynamics.  In one of the organizations, after I had been in it for a couple of years, there was a huge internal crisis which literally tore the organization apart.  This was the first time I ever got to experience what I came to call the ‘second generation effect’.

It was for this group that I wrote my first constitution, a 25-page thing that no one ever got to see because when I had completed it, it was stolen before I could present it.  In retrospect, it probably wasn’t very a very good constitution, although I do not have a copy I can read to verify that.  What writing it began for me, however, was hobby of designing fictional organizations and writing constitutions for them that lasted well over a decade.  I would do this in the same way that some people do crosswords or jigsaw puzzles and, to me, the process was, and is, very much a logic puzzle.   Along the way I have written five to seven actual constitutions for real organizations and, because of what I watched happen in those groups I was part of while I was in high school discovered a desire to help other people create better organizations themselves. I eventually earned a Master’s degree that would allow me to work as a student activities / college union professional, which also provided me with the means to collect constitutions from all kinds of organizations from many different locations to study.  This has allowed me to see many commonalities, both good and bad, among those documents and helped me to formulate a guiding philosophy for designing and writing constitutions for ANY organization.  That philosophy is:

You can NOT, by definition, plan for the unexpected… but you are a damn fool if you do not prepare for the predictable.

In case anyone is interested, by the way, I think that my next project along this line will be to try to incorporate a city in the unincorporated area in which I live and try to create an actual ‘laboratory of democracy’.

The second generation effect is when an organization which has been created by people with a common understanding of why they created the organization themselves begins to have people who were NOT part of the organizational creation process reach a level where they begin to have a greater controlling influence on the organization than those who did create it.

When an organization is created, those who created it usually have a common understanding of the principles and processes they expect the organization to operate by.  Because of this mutual understanding, they are generally very minimalist about what they put into the organization’s founding document(s) or constitution because they think that more is unnecessary for the very fact that all of the original members have a consensus about those principles and procedures.  As a result, they leave those principles and procedures unspecified in the organization’s founding document(s).  Even where these people have differences with each other, they are actually bound together by their mutual understandings about the organization.  They simply don’t see how others who will come along later will not share those bonds and will not view the organization in the same way that they do.  This is what results in constitutions and founding documents which are what I classify as the ‘we create this group, and we will do things and we will be friends’ category of constitutions and founding documents.  This is also what I call the ‘first generation effect’.

So, why are the ‘first generation’ and ‘second generation’ effects important concepts when talking about our Constitution?  It is very simple.  I think that the founding fathers operated under the first generation effect when they wrote The Constitution.  Their common experiences with the separation from Britain, The Revolutionary War, and The Articles of Confederation created a common bond which unified them on a subconscious level.  Even with their many disagreements and differences, they were still bound to each other by what they had experienced in common with each other.

This period saw one of the most remarkable collections of great men and great minds in one place and one period of time in all of human history.  I still can’t figure out if history gave us this moment and gathering of mental giants, or if the moment and gathering of mental giants gave us history.  Which one is responsible for the other, I frequently wonder?  The result of their gathering in Philadelphia in 1787, The Constitution of The United States, is an amazing and awe-inspiring document.  In fact, I think that it has single-handedly shaped where the world has moved since it was created more than any other single document, philosophy, event, or person since then.  The downside of what they did in Philadelphia is that they had no other real historical examples which they could study, other than their experiences under The Articles, to see what would work and what wouldn’t.  They pretty much only had theories and ideas to use.  They also came up with a minimalist document that left much more unwritten and which would rely on their common understandings with which to fill in the gaps than it actually specified about the operation of the new government which they were creating.

In 1991, I was hired for my first job as a Director of Student Activities at a small, private liberal arts college in Illinois.  At this time, the Student Activities Board was an unconstituted committee of the school’s Student Forum.  I decided that the SAB needed to be a separate organization with its own constitution and I created a committee of students, faculty and staff to help design the organization and help write it’s constitution.  The Forum’s advisor was also the school’s government teacher and ‘expert’ on the U.S. Constitution.  One day, in passing, she stopped me and asked why the document I was trying to create needed to be as long as it was.  After all, she pointed out, the U. S. Constitution was only 4,543 words long (honestly, I remember it with her saying it was only 1,458 words long, which is the length of The Declaration of Independence and not of The Constitution but I will give her the benefit of the doubt by assuming she said the correct total).  I responded by telling her “Yes, and it isn’t a very well written document.  She got very angry and, without allowing me to explain to her what I meant, she stormed off.  She never again spoke to me civilly and I was terminated at the end of the school year WITHOUT getting my SAB constitution ever publically discussed or voted on, much less passed.

When I said that The Constitution was not a very well written document, I meant no insult to it or to the great men who wrote it.  I meant simply that they didn’t have the advantages of history which we have upon which to base their document.  NOTHING is ever as good as it can be on a first attempt (look at how much better The Constitution was than The Articles were), and distance is needed to see how things work (or don’t work) as desired, and what can be done to improve it.  I think that this is a necessary evolutionary process in any long standing organization.  I also never got to explain to her my theory of the second generation effect or how I think it illustrated the fundamental flaws in the document.

I think that there are many reasons that more things were not spelled out better in The Constitution.  One of them was the first generation effect of common understanding and fellowship.  Another was that the Federalists, under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton, did not WANT things to be spelled out better so that they could use the ambiguities of the document to argue that it said and meant things that it clearly didn’t.  As is common in history, those of a more liberal ideology will concede things to their political opponents in order to create a consensus while those of a more extreme conservative ideology will simply take those concessions as wins for their side and an indication of weakness for the other side, and will then proceed to try to use that point as a baseline from which to further advance their cause at the expense of those they oppose.  A defining characteristic of a liberal personally is individualism and efforts to strive for common agreement and consensus, while a conservative personality is more commonly seen as wanting unification among those who agree with them for the advancement of their agendas, suppression of individual internal disagreement and accumulation of power for their group.  (Please look for a future article to be written by me on the subject of groupthink, conformity and shame theory to further explain this claim.)

By the 1820s, the first generation of those who created our American constitutional government was mostly gone from the scene and the second generation was in control.  As I have personally seen in all too many smaller organizations, the second generation, not having had a hand in giving ‘birth’ to an organization does not feel limited by the voluntary constraints by which the members of the first generation operated.  A key aspect of the second generation effect is the rise of members who are more interested in their personal power than in the greater good of the organization.  These power-seeking second generation members will also look for weaknesses, flaws, loopholes, omissions and ambiguities within the governing procedures and document(s) of an organization to see how they can be utilized to advance their personal power or parochial interests at the expense of the greater good of the entire organization.  I also do not know how to test it, but I theorize that it is the very weakness and flaws in an organization’s founding documents which ALLOW the second generation effect to occur.  The better that things are clarified, and potential problems identified and provided for, the longer an organization can go on with unity and consensus.  I believe that it is the failures of the first generation to study more closely when they create their organization and better provide for potential problems in the future within their founding documents that is the cause of the second generation effect, and not the fault of those in the second generation.

In American constitutional government, this was seen in the rise of a professional political class; party politics holding dominance in the elected branches of government; party and regional (state) concerns being held as being more important by those elected officials than the greater good of the entire nation; and a desire for gaining and using personal power bases in order to control the functions of government at the expense of those who do not help the person wielding that power.

One last aspect of the generation effects is a blurring of the lines between and the convergence of common misunderstandings of the differences between and meanings of both ‘power’ and ‘authority’.  Contrary to common belief, the two ideas do not have the same meanings and, in fact, are completely separate concepts from each other. This is why they are both used together… power AND authority, like assault AND battery.  Authority is the RIGHT to do something.  Power is the ABILITY to do something.  While power and authority might reside together in some cases, it is much more common to have an exercise of POWER by a person or group who do not have the AUTHORITY to do what has been done, or a group or person who has the AUTHORITY to do something but does not have the POWER to accomplish the desired action (much like when the Supreme Court ruled against Andrew Jackson regarding the Cherokee Indian treaties with The United States and Jackson, supposedly, commenting in response that “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”)  Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and John Calhoun are all classic examples of second generation personalities.

Part II of this article will deal with the actual flaws, weaknesses and omissions which I see in our Constitution and my personal suggestions for correcting them.

 

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor

© copyright 2009 by Rhys M.  Blavier
________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for reading this article.  Please read my other articles and let me know what you think.  I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.

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…

PART I: An Introduction to American Involvement with War Crimes Trials

In Activism, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, George Bush, Guantanamo, History, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Military, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on May 12, 2009 at 11:27 pm

If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.

 

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of The United States
Robert H. Jackson

 

Justice Jackson was asked by President Truman to represent The United States in establishing the process for trying German war criminals after Germany’s surrender in World War II. The above quote was made by him in 1945 during the negotiations of The London Charter of The International Military Tribunal (IMT) which established the legal justifications and basis for the trials. He later acted as the Chief Prosecutor for the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (IMT) of the major war criminals.

 

I was probably only 12 years old when I first saw the movie ‘Judgment at Nuremburg‘ (based on the Judges’ Trial of the twelve subsequent Nuremberg Trials held after the one for the major war criminals). Even at that age, several things about the trials didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t have much more of an understanding of law or philosophy than that of any other child of my age, but I have always had a very natural understanding of logic… especially in my ability to recognize what ISN’T logical. The main question I have always had about the Nuremberg Trials is: “Why didn’t the losers get to file any charges against the winners?” That, to my mind, would be the primary aspect of a war crimes trial which would keep it from being simply ‘victors’ justice’

 

As I got older, more questions came to my mind about the Nuremberg Trials. The two most prominent of these questions are:

 

(1) We judged that those who were indicted and tried should have resisted or refused to obey laws and/or orders which they thought were immoral. However, what about those who did not have personal moral objections to those laws and/or orders? If they agreed with them but had no hand in giving or enacting them, weren’t they operating both within the law AND within their own moral codes and, if that was the case, then why weren’t they protected from prosecutions such as those at Nuremberg?; and

 

(2) If we wanted to establish that “I was just following orders” is NOT a valid defense, why doesn’t The United States put procedures and practices into place for our own soldiers and citizens who hold such objections to laws and/or orders which they are expected to follow and for which they would face court-martial and/or civil prosecution if they did refuse to obey.

 

In World War II, while there were several localized instances of American War Crimes which could be truthfully judged to be individual aberrations which could be properly, adequately and legally dealt with internally through courts-martial (the Biscari massacres, the Chenonge massacre, and the Dachau massacre, to name just three), there were no attempts to try larger scale incidents against any of the Allies for potential war crimes which originated at a command level or higher. Examples of these would include: the Dresden fire bombings of a non-strategic civilian city for the psychological effect it would have throughout Germany; the re-designation by the Allies of some German POWs (who were protected by The Geneva Conventions) to ‘disarmed enemy forces‘ (who, allegedly, were NOT protected he Geneva Convention) and their subsequent use as forced (i.e. – slave) labor by the French to clear minefields in France and The Low Countries (while this was provided for by the Armistice, the French government conceded that the practice was ‘perhaps‘ not in accordance with The Geneva Conventions. By December of 1945, the French government estimated that 2,000 German prisoners were being killed or maimed each month in accidents); and American food policy in post-war Germany which directly and indirectly caused the unnecessary suffering and deaths, from starvation, of large numbers of civilians and POWs in occupied Germany in violation of Article 43 of the 1907 Hague Rules of Land Warfare.

 

As we look at the debates our nation faces today about war crimes, it is ironic that, at the end of World War II and during the post-war period, it was The United States which took the lead in demanding legal actions and prosecutions to establish both guilt of those who would be punished AND legal precedence for the future. As early as December 1941, British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, was a vocal advocate for summary executions of war criminals, even to the point of being willing to use Acts of Attainder to circumvent any legal obstacles. It was leaders in The United States who eventually dissuaded him from this stance.

 

In 1943, at the Tehran Conference, Stalin proposed summarily executing 50,000 – 100,000 German Staff Officers. President Franklin Roosevelt tried to lighten this attitude with the suggestion that maybe only ‘49,000’ would need to be executed. Churchill followed this up by denouncing the “cold-blooded executions of soldiers who fought for their country”. In 1945, America’s Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, and his staff at The War Department drafted a plan for the ‘Trial of European War Criminals‘, which was strongly approved by President Truman. This plan formed the basis for negotiations of The London Charter.

 

While there may have been legitimate criticisms of the Allied war crimes trials, including by at least three other members of The United States Supreme Court… Chief Justice Harlan Stone (who called the Nuremberg trials “a fraud” and a “high-grade lynching”), Associate Justice William O. Douglas (who said that the Allies were guilty of “substituting power for principle” and that “law was created ex post facto to suit the passion and clamor of the time”), and Associate Justice Frank Murphy (who said, in protest of the war crime trial of Japanese General Masaharu Homma, “Either we conduct such a trial as this in the noble spirit and atmosphere of our Constitution or we abandon all pretense to justice, let the ages slip away and descend to the level of revengeful blood purges.”), it was The United States of America which led the path to the establishment of norms of public international trials for war crimes. Now we face showing ourselves as a nation of hypocrites who are quick to judge others but unwilling to have judgment turned on our own.

 

The war crimes trials of World War II may have utilized ex post facto laws and rules to judge and condemn Axis war criminals but, thanks in large part to The United States, they establish the precedent for holding accountable those at any and all levels of military, political, civilian AND economic structures for both actions AND decisions which lead to the systematic rule of brutality, terror and violence of both the German and Japanese regimes.

 

The United States considered such trials so important that after growing differences between the four major Allied Powers made additional international trials under the International Military Tribunal impossible, that they held 12 subsequent trials on their own at Nuremberg. Under Control Council Law #10, which empowered any of the occupying authorities to try suspected war criminals in their respective occupation zones, The United States alone, between December 1946 and October 1948, conducted:

 

01.) The Doctors’ Trial (Medical doctors and Nazi officials)

 

War Crimes: Performing medical experiments, without the subjects’ consent, on prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, in the course of which experiments the defendants committed murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts. Also planning and performing the mass murder of prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, stigmatizated as aged, insane, incurably ill, deformed, and so on, by gas, lethal injections, and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums during the Euthanasia Program and participating in the mass murder o concentration camp inmates.

 

Crimes Against Humanity: For performing those same acts on German nationals.

 

02.) The Milch Trial (Field Marshall of the Luftwaffe, Erhard Milch)

 

War Crimes: Knowingly committed war crimes as principal and accessory in enterprises involving slave labor and having also willingly and knowingly participated in enterprises involving the use of prisoners of war in war operations contrary to international convention and the laws and customs of war. Also, knowingly and willfully participated in enterprises involving fatal medical experiments upon subjects without their consent.

 

Crimes Against Humanity: For slave labor and fatal medical experiments, in the same manner as indicated in the first two counts, except that here the alleged victims are declared to be German nationals and nationals of other countries.

 

03.) The Judges’ Trial (German jurists and lawyers)

(Held responsible for implementing and furthering the Nazi “racial purity” program through the German eugenic and racial laws)

 

War Crimes: Abuse of the judicial and penal process, resulting in mass murder, torture, plunder of private property.


Crimes Against Humanity: The same grounds, including slave labor charges.

 

04.) The Pohl Trial (Employees of the SS Economics and Administrative Department)

(Held for active involvement in and administration of the “Final Solution”; they also handled the procurement for the Waffen SS and the administration of the SS ‘Totenkopf’Divisions)


War Crimes: Administration of concentration camps and of extermination camps, and the mass murders and atrocities committed those camps.

 

Crimes Against Humanity: The same grounds, including slave labor charges.

 

05.) The Flick Trial (high-ranking directors of Flick’s group of companies)

(Charges centered on slave labor and plundering, but Flick and the Otto Steinbrinck, were also charged for their membership in the “Circle of Friends of Himmler”, a group of influential German industrialists and bankers for the purpose of giving financial support to the Nazis. Its members “donated” annually about 1 million Reichsmark to a “Special Account S” in favor of Himmler.)


War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Participating in the deportation and enslavement of the civilian populations of countries and territories under the belligerent occupation of or otherwise controlled by Germany, and of concentration camp inmates, for use as slave labor in Flick mines and factories.

 

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Plundering and spoliation of occupied territories, and the seizure of plants both in the west (France) and the east (Poland, Russia). Crimes Against Humanity: participation in the persecution of Jews and the ‘aryanization’ of their properties.

 

06.) The Hostages’ Trial

(Regarding the taking of civilian hostages; wanton shootings of hostages and ‘partisans’)


War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Greece, Albania, and Yugoslavia by having ordered hostage taking and reprisal killings.

 

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Plundering and wanton destruction of villages and towns in Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Norway.

 

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, and arbitrarily designating combatants as “partisans”, denying them the status of prisoners of war, as well as killing them after such a designation.

 

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Murder, torture, deportation of, and sending Greek, Albanian, and Yugoslav civilians to concentration camps.

 

07.) The IG Farben Trial (directors of IG Farben)

(IG Farben was a large German civilian industrial conglomerate of chemical firms)


War crimes and crimes against humanity: Through the plundering and spoliation of occupied territories, and the seizure of plants in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, France, and Russia.

 

War crimes and crimes against humanity: Through participation in the enslavement and deportation to slave labor on a gigantic scale of concentration camp inmates and civilians in occupied countries, and of prisoners of war, and the mistreatment, terrorization, torture, and murder of enslaved persons.

 

08.) The Einsatzgruppen Trial (Officers of SS mobile Death Squads)

 

Crimes Against Humanity: Through persecutions on political, racial, and religious grounds, murder, extermination, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations, including German nationals and nationals of other countries, as part of an organized scheme of genocide.

 

War Crimes: For the same reasons, and for wanton destruction and devastation not justified by military necessity.

 

09.) The RuSHA Trial (Various SS officials of various political and administrative

                  departments)

(For implementation of the ‘pure race’ program [RuSHA])


Crimes Against Humanity: Implementing “racial purity” programs; kidnapping children; forcing ‘non-Aryan’ pregnant women to undergo abortions; plundering; deportation of populations from their native lands in occupied countries and resettling of so-called Volksdeutsche (‘ethnic Germans’) on such lands; sending people who had had ‘interracial’ sexual relationships to concentration camps; and general participation in the persecution of the Jews.

 

War Crimes: For the same reasons.

 

10.) The Krupp Trial (Directors of the Krupp Group)

                  (The Krupp Group was a collection of large German civilian industrial companies)


Crimes Against Humanity: Participating in the plundering, devastation, and exploitation of occupied countries; participating in the murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, and use for slave labor of civilians, German nationals, and prisoners of war who came under German control.

 

11.) The Ministries’ Trial (officials of various Reich ministries)

(Charged for their participation in or responsibility for atrocities committed both in Germany and in occupied countries during the war)


Crimes Against Peace: Planning and waging aggressive war against other nations and violating international treaties.


War Crimes: Being responsible for murder, ill-treatment and other crimes against prisoners of war and enemy belligerents.


Crimes Against Humanity: Committing atrocities and crimes against German nationals on the grounds of political, racial, or religious discrimination.


War crimes and crimes against humanity: Participating in or being responsible for atrocities and crimes committed against civilians in occupied countries; plundering and spoliation of occupied territories; participation in the enslavement, deportation for slave labor, and ill-treatment of civilians in both Germany and occupied countries, and of prisoners of war.

 

12.) The High Command Trial (Senior Flag Officers of the German High Command)

(Charged with having participated in or planned or facilitated the execution of the numerous atrocities committed in countries occupied by the German forces during the war)


Crimes Against Peace: Waging aggressive war against other nations and violating international treaties.

(The tribunal considered all of these accused to be not guilty of this charge, stating that they were not the policy-makers and that preparing for war and fighting a war on orders was not a criminal offense under the applicable international law of the time.)


War Crimes: Being responsible for murder, ill-treatment and other crimes against prisoners of war and enemy belligerents. Crimes Against Humanity: participating in or ordering the murder, torture, deportation, hostage-taking, etc. of civilians in occupied countries.

 

All of the judges for all twelve of these trials were American, as were all of the prosecutors. As a result of these trials, 142 out of 185 total defendants were found guilty of at least one charge. Out of the 142 guilty verdicts, those convicted received 24 death sentences, 20 life sentences, and 98 other prison sentences of varying lengths. In addition to the 35 of the accused who were acquitted, 4 were removed from the trials due to illnesses and 4 others committed suicide during the trials. All of these trials also included charges of conspiracy to commit the various crimes and to initiate and engage in wars of aggression but those charges were mostly dropped either because of poor wording in the orders which provided the legal justification the tribunals or because of beliefs among many of the judges that consideration of those charges was outside of their scope of authorization, or various other concerns. Any future war crimes trials would have to be aware of these difficulties so that they could adequately justify including conspiracy charges in those trials.

 

The United States has prosecuted our vanquished opponents in war for war crimes at least since the trial of Henry Wirz, Commandant of Camp Sumter, the Confederate prisoner of war camp at Andersonville. We also had a history going back just as long of denying full justice and fair trials to those we have accused while, at the same time, have not held our own accountable to the same standards of justice we have condemned others for. A large part of the problems at the Andersonville Prison, for example, occurred because the Union ended the policy it had with the Confederacy of exchanging prisoners in an effort to cause hardship for the Confederacy, which resulted in the massive overcrowding and food shortages at Camp Sumter (which, at its maximum occupation, held enough Union prisoners to make it the 5th largest city in The Confederacy).

 

In 1902, the Lodge Committee in the United States Senate was supposed to investigate allegations of American war crimes committed in The Philippines, which had been building until they eventually ignited when Brigadier General Jacob Smith remarked to a reporter from The Manila News that he “intended to set the entire island of Samar ablaze” and would probably wipe out most of the population of the island. At Nuremberg, Karl Dönitz Commander In Chief of the Kriegsmarine, was charged, tried and found guilty of violating the Second London Naval Treaty (1936) which prohibited unrestricted submarine warfare even though Admiral Chester A. Nimitz stated that The United States also conducted unrestricted submarine warfare in the Pacific Theatre from the first day we entered the war (Great Britain had also violated the treaty itself).

 

During the Vietnam War, The United States used Agent Orange and other defoliants in Operation Ranch Hand, even though the use of poison agents as weapons in war has been banned since World War I, and initiated The CIA’s Phoenix Program, which was designed to identify and ‘neutralize’ (via infiltration, capture, terrorism, or assassination) the civilian infrastructure supporting the National Liberation Front (NLF) of South Vietnam (or Viet Cong) insurgency. In addition, the files of The Vietnam War Crimes Working Group, a Pentagon task force created to detail endemic war crimes, compiled documentary evidence which confirmed 320 incidents committed by U.S. forces (NOT counting the massacre at My Lai), including seven massacres from 1967 through 1971 in which at least 137 civilians died; 78 other attacks on noncombatants in which at least 57 were killed, 56 wounded and 15 sexually assaulted; and 141 instances in which U.S. soldiers tortured prisoners of war or civilian detainees.

 

These examples show how The United States has not been consistent in its pursuit of international justice regarding war crimes investigations or trials, especially when such investigations or trials should focus ON Americans. However, WE established the precedents at Nuremberg that any and everyone within a nation is accountable to the world for their belligerent actions and intentions against other nations and that, once a nation has acted ON those intentions and engaged in such actions, they are also accountable to the world for their actions regarding how they treat their own nationals, citizens and those within their own borders during such international actions. The United States has also set its own precedents for the legality of removing persons who it considers to be criminals in violation of its own laws, most notably with our invasion of Panama and the forcible removal of Manuel Noriega from his own country to The United States to stand trial under our laws and then be imprisoned in our jail system. This case also demonstrates very nicely our own view that being a head of state is not a protection against international justice.

 

It seems to me that war itself is a crime not ONLY because of what one nation does to another nation and its people in the course of war but also because of what it inevitably causes any warring nation to do to its own people while it is in preparation for and engagement of such wars. This would seem to make the investigation and prosecution of war crimes to be a domestic civil necessity as well as an international criminal one. In 1945, in his opening statement before the IMF during the Nuremberg Trial of the major war criminals, Justice Robert Jackson, in his role as Chief Prosecutor said:

 

Any resort to war – to any kind of war – is a resort to means that are inherently criminal. War inevitably is a course of killings, assaults, deprivations of liberty, and destruction of property. An honest defensive war is, of course, legal and saves those lawfully conducting it from criminality. But, inherently criminal acts cannot be defended by showing that those who committed them were engaged in a war, when war itself is illegal. The very minimum legal consequences of the treaties making aggressive war illegal is to strip those who incite or wage them of every defense the law ever gave, and to leave war-makers subject to judgment by the usually accepted principles of the law of crimes.

 

The United States of America has not demonstrated itself to be deserving of the trust of its own citizens or of the world in examining our own for potential war crimes. Nor would it seem that we could be trusted conducting trials for such crimes internally. Since World War II, the prosecution of war crimes has become, of necessity, an increasingly international matter. The United States needs to cooperate with the international community to investigate and try such crimes. Part II of this article topic will cover the rise of and legal justification for international courts for conducting war crimes trials.

 

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

 

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all Honor”

 

© copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

 

 

The accused and trial results of the Nuremberg Trial (IMT) of the major war criminals were:

 

Martin Bormann: Nazi Party Secretary

(Bureaucrat)

            Sentence: Death

 

Karl Dönitz: Commander-in-Chief of the Kreigsmarine / Hitler’s successor as President of Germany

            Sentence: 10 years

 

Hans Frick: German Law Leader and Governor-General of Poland.

            Sentence: Death

 

Wilhelm Frick: Minister of the Interior and Reich Protector of Bohemia-Moravia

(Authored the Nuremberg Race Laws)

            Sentence: Death

 

Hans Fritzsche: Radio Commentator and Head of Nazi Propaganda Ministry’s news divisions. (Tried in place of Joseph Goebbels who had committed suicide)

            Sentence: Acquitted

 

Walther Funk: Minister of Economics and head of the German Reichsbank.

            Sentence: Life

 

Hermann Goring: Reichsmarshall

(Second highest Nazi official after Hitler)

            Sentence: Death

 

Rudolf Hess: Hitler’s Deputy until 1941

(Flew to Scotland in 1941 to try to broker peace)

            Sentence: Life

 

Alfred Jodl: Wehrmacht Generaloberst

(Military leader)

            Sentence: Death

 

Ernst Kaltenbrunner: Chief of the central Nazi intelligence agency.

(Highest surviving SS official)

            Sentence: Death

 

Wilhelm Keitel: Head of the Wehrmacht command structure

(Military leader)

             Sentence: Death

 

Baron Konstantin von Neurath: Foreign Minister and Protector of Bohemia and Moravia (Resigned in 1943)

            Sentence: 15 years

 

Franz von Papen: German Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor under Hitler, Ambassador to Austria, and Ambassador to Turkey

(Politician and Diplomat)

            Sentence: Acquitted

 

Erich Raeder: Commander-in-Chief of the Kreigsmarine (before Karl Dönitz)

(Resigned in 1943)

            Sentence: Life

 

Joachim von Ribbentrop: Ambassador-Plenipotentiary and Minister of Foreign Affairs

(Politician and Diplomat)

            Sentence: Death

 

Alfred Rosenberg: Party Ideologist, later Minister of Eastern Occupied Territories

            Sentence: Death

 

Fritz Sauckel: Plenipotentiary of slave labor program

            Sentence: Death

 

Hjalmar Schacht: Banker and economist

(Admitted violating the Treaty of Versailles)

            Sentence: Acquitted

 

Baldur von Schirach: Head of the Hitler Youth and Gauleiter of Vienna

(Retired in 1943)

            Sentence: 20 years

 

Arthur Seyss-Inquart: Various political positions and instrumental in the Anschluss

(Political functionary and Diplomat)

            Sentence: Death

 

Albert Speer: Architect and friend of Hitler, later Minister of Armaments

            Sentence: 20 years

 

Julius Streicher: Gauleiter of Franconia, and the publisher of a weekly pro-Nazi newspaper

            Sentence: Death

 

 

Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.

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….

Too Dangerous for Canada!

In Big Brother, Censorship, First Amendment, People in the news on April 1, 2009 at 9:06 pm

It appears that the UK’s maverick anti-war MP George Galloway is too dangerous for Canada. Now if the ban were on the basis of Galloway’s appearance on Big Brother, I’d back the Canucks. The right to defend oneself against crappy reality TV is inalienable. But the stated reason is that Galloway is accused of giving money to the Palestinian radical group Hamas, which is banned in Canada and bombed in Gaza.

I can’t help but think that this ban is perhaps more motivated by Galloway’s outspoken views on the US invasion of Iraq, sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Whatever you think of Galloway, he seems to be in, well… company when it comes to being banned, censored, and punished for unorthodox views. Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP who has built a career on baiting radical Muslims, was banned from the UK where he was scheduled to show his film Fitna to the House of Lords. The UK Home Office said, “The government opposes extremism in all forms.” This may have been in reference to Wilders’ call to ban the Koran. The Lords had to make do with a double-bill of Django the Bastard and A Fistful of Dynamite.

Wilders and Galloway are just Euro-MPs, that’s practically banana-republic territory compared to the lofty eminence of the Imperial Presidency. But even here there is censorship. While President Obama will hardly be turned away from Beijing, the same can’t be said for his inauguration speech. China cut the part where Obama boasted of how the USA whupped Commie butt.

If you are a lowly professor like David Irving, countries that don’t like your speech might just decide they WANT you to stay. In Austria it is illegal to show such gross insensitivity to Jewish feelings as to deny or downplay the Holocaust. Not that there are many Jews left in Austria since they all got murdered without much of any Austrians lifting a finger back when it counted.  In 2006 David Irving got sentenced to three years in the Austrian calaboose for the crime of Holocaust Denial. For similar, but perhaps more effective activities, Kurt Waldheim got six years in the grim Hofburg Palace.

Well, I’m not even going to start on cartoons or magical-realist writers. Down at this level, you don’t ask no questions, you just run for your life!

Now some may argue that Galloway, Wilders, Obama, and Irving are all to one degree or another, opponents of free speech in others, supporters of state violence, or reality TV contestants. In short, they are united in being jerks. I won’t even argue the point. Rather I take my stand with Voltaire, I disagree with the jerk stuff you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it!

–Dave Hardy

With Liberty and Justice for Us… Not Them…

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Abuses, Libertarian on March 31, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Here in America it seems that most people have a very hypocritical understanding of ‘freedom’. Most people believe in the premise of “liberty and justice for all”, but it seems deep down we don’t believe this. On a micro level people don’t believe in the abolition of drugs because others can’t be trusted with ‘legal’ drugs. On a macro level America believes in controlling other people’s countries regardless of whether they pose a legitimate threat or not. I will elaborate on these below.

There’s a stigma associated with people who use certain “drugs” that are not sanctioned by the state. Most people have no idea that the drug war is completely illegitimate. Think about “Alcohol Prohibition”. It didn’t work because the demand never went away. Thus, black markets were started for liquor and violence ensued to handle disputes that courts would normally handle. I bring up the drug war as an analogy to freedom because the argument that people use in defense of it is that “…we can’t have a bunch of junkies on the street dragging down society…”. People assume that their neighbor, brother, aunt, or friend would just sit down and use drugs until they die. The fact is that historical lessons from prohibition can be applied to most, if not, all other drugs. Alcohol is addictive as well but you don’t see alcoholics everywhere. Instead you see social drinkers etc… and people who drink on special occasions. There are some alcoholics but these are fringe elements. The irresponsibility of a few does not warrant the projection of that fault on the rest of the population.

Likewise, people feel that certain other countries cannot be free because “… we don’t know what they would do”. They might attack our state or invade a friendly state. The fact of the matter is that it’s none of our business what they do. Most, if not all, of the enemies of America are a result of the thinking that they cannot be trusted with their own freedom. For example the Middle East cannot be trusted to give us their oil so we have to make them give us their oil. Afghanistan cannot be trusted to let us build a pipeline through their territory so we must occupy them forever. We cannot trust the Palestinians to elect the “right” government for them we we will choose to acknowledge the correct one for them. We cannot trust Iran to make it’s own power from it’s own resources so we will stop them from doing so.

So what I’m saying is that when people say the “Pledge of Allegiance” that most people don’t believe it.  It’s a nice idea but it does not seem to fit in with the Imperial global policy that America is following. The nature of an Empire is to conquer other peoples who don’t submit. This logic automatically makes the needs of others secondary to the Empire’s ambitions.

Peace…

Anthony Gregory on Peaceful Dissent and Government Crackdowns

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Constitutional Rights, First Amendment, History, Libertarian, Police State, US Government on March 19, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Over at Campaign for Liberty yesterday, Anthony Gregory released an article detailing various historical examples of the U.S. federal government targeting peaceful dissenters.

This article comes after a recent release of a memo to the state of Missouri, a memo conflating belligerent, right-wing extremist groups—some of whom are racist or anti-Semitic, some of whom are violently opposed to open immigration, some of whom want to impose upon the American people a system of national socialism—with others who, like many of us, simply want to get big government off of our backs.

Thus, tax protesters, second amendment advocates, anti-war activists, goldbugs, Ron Paul enthusiasts, and “sovereign citizens” (who sound like agorists and other natural-law libertarians from the description given)—all my kind of people—are lumped together with the sort of terrorist scum that would burn crosses on other people’s property, blow up abortion clinics, harass undocumented migrant workers, or—like Timothy McVeigh—blow up buildings with innocent people, including children, inside.

On the surface, one might assume Gregory’s article is nothing more than an explanation to people interested that these are two very different camps, and that the sort of people who frequent Campaign for Liberty have no connection to the violent, aggressive goals of various right-wing extremist groups in operation.  But Mr. Gregory’s article goes much further than that.

Gregory’s article takes an in-depth look at the tendency of the government, over the course of U.S. history, to overreact to criticism and suppress dissent, even those most peaceful of dissenters, the Quakers.  Starting from the horrendous Alien and Sedition Acts of Adams and his Federalist Party, the U.S. government has cracked down on free speech and peaceful dissent of Americans from all angles of the political spectrum—left, right, and centre.

There is a lot of history here, and although Gregory handles the material with breathtaking clarity, I’m left wanting to read more.  No doubt, a book could be written on the subject, detailing these various episodes, the various uses of counter-intelligence and infiltration by U.S. officials.  If Gregory were to tackle such a subject in book form, I would surely order a copy.

In any event, this article is worth the read.

—Alexander S. Peak

Cops Gone Wild: Brutal attack on teen girl not uncommon police behavior

In Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Human Rights Abuses, Law, People in the news, Police Brutality, Police State, Protest on March 13, 2009 at 6:15 pm

By now, unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve seen the video of the 15-year-old girl who was violently attacked by a Seattle (Kings County) cop while being booked, because she kicked her shoe off at him and called him a name.

For said cave dwellers, here’s the video in question from a news report.

The teen had been arrested when she and some friends were seen driving erratically; the car belonged to a friend’s mother, and had been taken without permission.  The girls were arrested and charged with stealing the car.

Bear in mind, I do not condone that behavior by any stretch of the imagination.  No one ever has the right to take someone else’s property without permission, and they were also a serious danger to everyone else on the road since their erratic driving along with their age suggests they had no training or experience driving a motor vehicle.  I therefore have absolutely no problem with the girls being arrested.

I do, however, have a very, very serious problem with cops violently attacking suspects in this manner.

In a nutshell, the 15-year-old girl (Malika Calhoun, who has since given media interviews so her name is in the public record) angered officer Paul Schene, age 31, by calling him a “fat pig” and kicking her shoe off at him (though the shoe was not kicked hard, so it could not have harmed anyone), and Schene reacted with a shocking level of violence.  As you can see in the video, Schene ran into the room in full attack mode, slammed her head against the wall, threw her to the floor, punched her in the head several times, then picked her up by her hair (don’t get me started on what the hair-pulling says about this cop’s psychological problems).  She complained of having trouble breathing after the attack, which I do not doubt.  If nothing else, she may have had a panic attack following the shockingly violent attack against her.

Should she have called him a “fat pig” and kicked her shoe off at him?  Obviously not, and it’s pretty clear that she is a troubled teen based on her being involved in auto theft.  At the same time, that kind of behavior in teens is not unusual, as many parents find out the hard way, and many teens engage in that kind of behavior but grow up to be perfectly respectable, law-abiding adults; in fact, that’s why the criminal records of minors are sealed, since they lack the maturity of adults and do many times make extremely poor choices.  Either way, her disrespectful actions toward Schene do not explain Schene’s reaction, and in fact his reaction says far more about him than her behavior says about her, given her age.  I therefore can’t say her portrayal of him as a “fat pig” was necessarily incorrect.  Why should anyone respect the authority of a cop like Schene, who acts like a violent criminal himself?

Even in light of the video evidence against him, Schene has only been placed on paid leave pending the investigation.  Yet it is very clear that he engaged in brutality, since even his defense – that she called him names and kicked her shoe off at him – does not in any way explain, much less excuse, his violent actions.  So why are taxpayers being forced to fund what amounts to a paid vacation for him?  Clearly he is a danger to the public, and thus should have been fired as soon as his actions came to light.  Steps must be taken to protect the public from Schene.  Pure and simple, this is a man who should never have been given a badge.  Paul Schene didn’t just snap and attack a suspect this one time, that much I can guarantee.  He merely got away with it until now, because he’s a cop.

While the various television talking heads are quick to point out that this is an unusual situation, they’re both completely right and horribly, terribly wrong.  This kind of violence toward suspects actually happens all the time, but is almost impossible to prove since the average person tends to believe cops over the people they arrested, so the public doesn’t hear about it.   The only thing truly unusual about this situation – not unlike the infamous Rodney King beating by the LAPD – is that the attack was caught on videotape.  In this case, the prosecutor who was assigned to examine the criminal complaint (filed by the cop against the girl, not vice versa) pulled the surveillance tape to see what happened.  Had Schene not charged the girl for kicking her shoe at him, the public would never have even known about this shocking instance of police brutality.  The truth is, few if any people would believe a 15-year-old girl over a cop, even if she went public with the allegation.  Schene was counting on that, too.  The fact that he knew there was a surveillance camera there, but still filed the assault charges against her, suggests that he was counting on the prosecutor looking the other way as well.

The other cop in the room, a trainee, never reported the incident even though he had an absolute duty to do so since a violent crime was committed in his presence.  Is this trainee really so stupid that he doesn’t recognize assault when it’s right in front of him?  Does that trainee believe that cops are allowed to brutalize suspects?  Was he afraid of getting into trouble for being there?  Or did the trainee not report it because he feared for his career, and possibly even his life since in the field he has to depend upon other cops to cover his back?

The trainee cop has not been disciplined, and has not been charged.  However, he should have been fired immediately for failing to report the assault.  It’s easy to fire a trainee, since they can be relieved of duty for any reason, or no reason at all.  Chances are he was not fired because he cooperated with the investigation into Schene’s actions, but that still does not excuse his actions (or lack thereof) insofar as his employment is concerned.  At most he should be granted immunity from prosecution, since he does not appear to have assaulted the girl himself (but could still be charged with conspiracy); however, he still should lose his job for not reporting Schene’s assault.

Schene, on the other hand, would be harder to fire because he almost certainly has the Fraternal Order of Police backing him up.  While the FOP is extremely powerful when it comes to defending cops who have been fired, it would also be extremely hard for them to successfully argue that Schene should not be fired in light of the video and his pathetic excuses for his actions.  Yes, it would cost the department quite a bit of money to defend against a union challenge, but that’s their mistake and they now need to correct it.  They obviously didn’t screen either cop very well, or else they would not be in this predicament at all.  They need to fire the trainee, fire Schene, fight any FOP challenge to the decision, and learn from it by more carefully screening their officers.  Either way, take the badge and gun away from this uniformed thug before he kills someone else.

Yes, you read that right.  Schene has been a cop for only eight years, but has already been investigated for two police-related shootings, one of which resulted in death.  He was cleared both times, which is also not at all surprising.  Cops are rarely found at fault in shootings, even when they acted improperly, because the cop’s claimed perceptions are given greater weight than the actual reality of the situation.  Schene’s shootings should be reinvestigated by an independent panel outside the law enforcement community and outside the area, given his actions in this case which clearly show that he has extremely serious impulse control problems which render him dangerous to others, as well as the failure of everyone within the department to report his assault upon the girl – though obviously numerous people knew, including the trainee and the medics – which suggests there may have been a coverup in the investigation of the shootings as well. 

This brings me to another issue, with regard to the complaint made against this girl which resulted in the discovery of this surveillance video.  Simply stated, charges of obstruction of justice and assault on a police officer are rarely legitimate charges.  More likely than not, they are used to pad other charges.  Sometimes, as in this case, a charge of assault upon a police officer is filed only to cover up violent behavior by the cops.  Those kinds of charges are also used as a trump card by the prosecution, to make defendants think they’re getting a deal by having some charges dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on other charges, when in reality there is rarely any evidence to back up the dropped charges beyond than the cop’s word.  That the girl would be charged with assault upon a police officer at all, given what is shown in that video, is disturbing at best.

What I find most disturbing of all, however, is the number of people who are defending Schene for committing a violent crime against a minor.  The internet is overrun by those making excuses for him, from “maybe he had a bad day” to “the girl had it coming because she stole a car”.   I hate to tell them this, but “having a bad day” is not an excuse for attacking anyone, or else it would be an affirmative defense for everyone accused of assault, murder, and other violent crimes; and there is no law in this country which states that the punishment for being accused of car theft is a violent beating by someone much larger than you, and trained to attack others. 

Those who claim to be law-and-order types are strangely the first ones to suggest that violent crime is acceptable, as long as it’s committed by a cop.  Those with the same mindset defended the animals-with-badges on the LAPD who nearly beat Rodney King to death (they claimed he was resisting arrest, though the video shows otherwise), and the NYPD cops who shot Amadou Diallo a shocking 41 times (they claimed they thought his wallet, taken out to show ID as he did not speak English well, was a gun), so making excuses for completely out-of-control cops is not a new phenomenon, but it never fails to be an extremely disturbing reflection upon our society.

At any rate, the US Department of Justice is now investigating Schene’s actions in brutalizing the teenager.  While normally I don’t approve of the feds intervening in local affairs, it is the best thing which could happen in this case since local authorities (and local juries) rarely take appropriate action in cases of police brutality, even when there is clear and convincing evidence and high public/media interest.  Even in this case, in which Schene was criminally charged, he was only charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault.  Chances are he will get probation at most if convicted of that charge, and based upon the long history of cops being acquitted for even more heinous acts against the citizenry, it is not even sure that he will be convicted despite the video evidence.  However, if convicted in federal court, he will likely be sentenced to federal prison, and caged like the animal he has proven himself to be.

Clinton makes a token critique of Israel

In Human Rights Abuses, Middle East on March 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm

The article that I’m referring to can be found here. In the AP article Clinton is quoted as making the comment that Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes is ‘unhelpful’. Though, I admit that it’s good that she acknowledged this travesty, I wish that she would have also reminded people that the construction of any settlements on Palestinian land is illegal under international law. Not to mention the fact that the theft and demolition of Palestinian property contributes to the radicalization of Palestinians.

When I talk to people on this topic they are quick to bring up this illusion that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been going on for millennia. I fundamentally disagree with this logic because if this were true; How would there have been a definite beginning or end to the first and second intifada? If they never stopped fighting then the entire Palestinian history should be one long uprising against the Israelis. We must also remember that the biblical Israel and the modern day Israel (state) are two different things. The biblical Israel referred to a people. Today’s Israel refers to the state not the people contained in it. Also there is the fact that Palestinians and Israelis have lived in peace in modern history. So they can live in peace but the repressive and brutal practices of the Israeli regime constantly undermines any peace process that’s underway.

In the AP article it is also mentioned that the ‘Palestinian Authority’ is the only legitimate government of the Palestinians. This also leads to another conflict because the only entity who can determine the voice of the collective Palestinian people is the people themselves. They voted Hamas into office. It’s nobodies place to say that any elected government is not fit to represent it’s people except for the people living under it.  Imagine another government stepping into the American political process and saying that republicans or democrats are not legitimate and that they will only recognize one group. It sounds crazy right? So how can we expect for this model to work for another country?

In conclusion, I would just like to reiterate the fact that the entire Palestinian-Israeli conflict is undermind by Israel’s policies and America’s blind backing of Israel. It’s only when all parties are taken out of their comfort-zone that meaningful changes can be made. I’m sure that the Palestinians have not been comfortable for a long time. It’s time for the Israelis to feel some fire under their heels to make a meaningful change. This means that blind American support should be stopped and maybe Israel might have a bit of motivation to stop displacing and killing their neighbors.

Peace….

The LNC shows its true agenda

In Boston Tea Party, Censorship, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Protest on November 27, 2008 at 12:19 am

The Agenda for the December LNC meeting – which looks like someone has quite an agenda indeed – has listed 30 minutes for “Discipline of Angela Keaton”.

How strangely interesting that Angela Keaton was unaware of this item until the agenda was released. Quite the contrary, in fact, since she was under the impression that the “discipline” discussed at the last meeting was now moot.

There are several theories floating around about that agenda item, and one of them is that Angela is being disciplined for wearing a Boston Tea Party t-shirt. It appears that at least one LNC member snooped around her Facebook until he found the allegedly incriminating photo.  Why on earth would someone do that, unless they had a predetermined agenda?

Problem is, though I had seen the picture numerous times, to the point that I knew exactly which photo was in question even before I saw it, even I didn’t know it was Angela in the t-shirt, since the photo doesn’t show her head or face.  Honestly, I thought it was Miche modeling the t-shirt.  That being the case, how could it possibly be a breach of duty even if, arguendo, it is Angela?

The other theory is that during the last LNC meeting, Angela was given ten days to apologize, but she has not done so; and as a result, rather than the item being moot, it is being revisited.  I did not believe then that the LNC acted professionally or with the best interests of the LP at heart in their behavior during the last LNC meeting, and I still do not believe they acted appropriately.  

One thing is abundantly clear, and must not be forgotten: Angela Keaton is a two-term elected member of the Libertarian National Committee. She is the most active LNC member by far with regard to keeping the membership apprised of party actions and business.  As such, she is irreplaceable.  To even attempt to remove her yet again, will cause irreparable damage to the morale of many libertarians at a time when the LP can hardly afford to spread ill will.  

Last but certainly not least, this silly vendetta makes the LP look grossly unprofessional to those who are outside looking in.  We don’t see the major parties comporting themselves in this manner regarding strictly internal questions, because they know how damaging it would be not only to their personal reputations, but the reputation of the party they represent.  The LP doesn’t have a built-in constituency like the GOP and the Democrats.  The LP cannot afford behavior which makes them look like they’re coming apart at the seams from the inside, yet that’s exactly how this appears.

It is one thing when libertarians fuss and fight with each other.  It is something altogether different when the elected governing body is engaging in that behavior.

This is not how such internal problems – assuming it is a problem at all, and in my opinion it is not – should be handled.  Furthermore, I don’t understand why 30 minutes is being set aside for the LNC to publicly humiliate an elected representative, while far less time is set aside for far more substantive matters.

Frankly, I am disappointed.  I was under the mistaken impression that the LNC is comprised of adults. Instead they appear to be perpetually in kindergarten, where they put people in “time out” for alleged offenses, then keep badgering them until they apologize even when they don’t believe they did anything wrong.

Seriously, LNC, is badgering Angela Keaton worth 30 minutes of your meeting time, when your presidential candidate fell so far short of his pre-nomination promises that the end result was nothing short of humiliating? Is it worth it to burn up that time when you should be discussing the fact that your presidential candidate gave money to Republicans running against Libertarian candidates? Is it worth it so you don’t have to discuss your VP candidate’s racist comments in Reason Magazine?  Is it worth it to burn up that time when the LP is, financially speaking, the rough equivalent of the Titanic?  Or is burning up time the whole point, since “disciplining” Angela Keaton will eat up time more enlighteningly spent analyzing and discussing what went so terribly wrong with the Libertarian Party this election season, and what part the LNC played in that failure?

The LNC already ate up a great deal of its only pre-election meeting with “disciplining” Angela Keaton, when they had far more important things to discuss; and perhaps if they had spent their time doing what it is that they were elected to do, the election would have fared far better. How long is this vindictive agenda against Ms. Keaton going to continue? Why wasn’t this discussed on the LNC talk list, rather than dragged out into full public view? There is really only one possible reason for that, and that reason is to publicly humiliate Angela Keaton.

Why should anyone take the LNC seriously, when they repeatedly waste precious quarterly meeting time trying to remove an elected LNC member, rather than discussing the important issues which affect the party as a whole?  I find the LNC’s behavior on this subject to be extremely distasteful, and downright embarrassing.  

Nevertheless, Angela Keaton has every right to appear at that meeting fully prepared to refute the charges against her.  However, that will prove difficult since she has not been formally apprised of the specific charges against her, nor has she been apprised of the identity of her accuser(s).  

What kind of kangaroo court does the LNC plan to hold in San Diego?  Again, it disgusts me, as it should disgust all libertarians.  It is an act of aggression against a woman elected by the membership, through its delegates.  This is not Ms. Keaton’s first term, so it’s not as if they didn’t know exactly who they were electing, or why they were electing her.  Ms. Keaton was elected to do exactly what she has done to get her into this predicament, which is to represent the voiceless within the LP through whatever means necessary.  That was the will of the membership.  Now, she is paying a heady price, and to what end?  What does the LNC stand to gain from her departure?  That is a question best posed to the LNC member behind the agenda item in question, as well as for any other LNC member who supports this action.

One thing is for sure.  This insistence by the LNC to continue its vendetta against Ms. Keaton will only harm the Libertarian Party, its members, and the libertarian movement as a whole.  Longtime respected libertarian activists are rebelling already; and without the activists, the LP may as well not even exist.

For the above reasons, I respectfully suggest that those who keep pushing this anti-Keaton agenda should be the ones disciplined, for openly engaging in a public vendetta against a fellow elected representative, thus causing serious harm to the party they are duty-bound to protect.

Cheney and Gonzalez indicted in Texas

In Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, George Bush, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Media, People in the news, Politics, Republican, US Government on November 19, 2008 at 2:25 am

From Houston Chronicle:

McALLEN — A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on state charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County’s federal detention centers.

The indictment, which had not yet been signed by the presiding judge, was one of seven released Tuesday in a county that has been a source of bizarre legal and political battles in recent years. Another of the indictments named a state senator on charges of profiting from his position.

Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra himself had been under indictment for more than a year and half before a judge dismissed the indictments last month. This flurry of charges came in the twilight of Guerra’s tenure, which ends this year after nearly two decades in office. He lost convincingly in a Democratic primary in March.

Cheney’s indictment on a charge of engaging in an organized criminal activity criticizes the vice president’s investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees because of his link to the prison companies.

Megan Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on Tuesday, saying that the vice president had not yet received a copy of the indictment.

The indictment accuses Gonzales of using his position while in office to stop an investigation in 2006 into abuses at one of the privately-run prisons.

Gonzalez’s attorney, George Terwilliger III, said in a written statement, “This is obviously a bogus charge on its face, as any good prosecutor can recognize. Hopefully, competent Texas authorities will take steps to reign in this abuse of the criminal justice system.”

Willacy County has become a prison hub with county, state and federal lockups. Guerra has gone after the prison-politician nexus before, extracting guilty pleas from three former Willacy and Webb county commissioners after investigating bribery related to federal prison contacts.

(Click link above to read entire article)

Kooky pro-government conspiracy theories

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Local Politics, Police State, Politics, Protest, Republican, Terrorism, US Government on September 30, 2008 at 2:02 pm

A Letter from the RNC 8

Dear Friends, Family, and Comrades:

We are the RNC 8: individuals targeted because of our political beliefs and work organizing for protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention, in what appears to be the first use of Minnesota’s version of the US Patriot Act. The 8 of us are currently charged with Conspiracy to Commit Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism, a 2nd degree felony that carries the possibility of several years in prison. We are writing to let you know about our situation, to ask for support, and to offer words of hope.

A little background: the RNC Welcoming Committee was a group formed in late 2006 upon hearing that the 2008 Republican National Convention would be descending on Minneapolis-St. Paul where we live, work, and build community. The Welcoming Committee’s purpose was to serve as an anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body, creating an informational and logistical framework for radical resistance to the RNC. We spent more than a year and a half doing outreach, facilitating meetings throughout the country, and networking folks of all political persuasions who shared a common interest in voicing dissent in the streets of St. Paul while the GOP’s machine chugged away inside the convention.

In mid-August the Welcoming Committee opened a “Convergence Center,” a space for protesters to gather, eat, share resources, and build networks of solidarity. On Friday, August 29th, 2008, as folks were finishing dinner and sitting down to a movie the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department stormed in, guns drawn, ordering everyone to the ground. This evening raid resulted in seized property (mostly literature), and after being cuffed, searched, and IDed, the 60+ individual inside were released.

The next morning, on Saturday, August 30th, the Sheriff’s department executed search warrants on three houses, seizing personal and common household items and arresting the first 5 of us- Monica Bicking, Garrett Fitzgerald, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, and Eryn Trimmer. Later that day Luce Guillen-Givins was arrested leaving a public meeting at a park. Rob Czernik and Max Specktor were arrested on Monday, September 1, bringing the number to its present 8. All were held on probable cause and released on $10,000 bail on Thursday, September 4, the last day of the RNC.

These arrests were preemptive, targeting known organizers in an attempt to derail anti-RNC protests before the convention had even begun. Conspiracy charges expand upon the traditional notion of crime. Instead of condemning action, the very concept of conspiracy criminalizes thought and camaraderie, the development of relationships, the willingness to hope that our world might change and the realization that we can be agents of that change.

Conspiracy charges serve a very particular purpose- to criminalize dissent. They create a convenient method for incapacitating activists, with the potential for diverting limited resources towards protracted legal battles and terrorizing entire communities into silence and inaction. Though not the first conspiracy case against organizers- not even the first in recent memory- our case may be precedent-setting. Minnesota’s terrorism statutes have never been enacted in this way before, and if they win their case against us, they will only be strengthened as they continue their crusade on ever more widespread fronts. We view our case as an opportunity to demonstrate community solidarity in the face of repression, to establish a precedent of successful resistance to the government’s attempts to destroy our movements.

Right now we are in the very early stages of a legal battle that will require large sums of money and enormous personal resources. We have already been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support locally and throughout the country, and are grateful for everything that people have done for us. We now have a Twin Cities-based support committee and are developing a national support network that we feel confident will help us through the coming months. For more information on the case and how to support us, or to donate, go to http://RNC8.org

We have been humbled by such an immense initial show of solidarity and are inspired to turn our attention back to the very issues that motivated us to organize against the RNC in the first place. What’s happening to us is part of a much broader and very serious problem. The fact is that we live in a police state- some people first realized this in the streets of St. Paul during the convention, but many others live with that reality their whole lives. People of color, poor and working class people, immigrants, are targeted and criminalized on a daily basis, and we understand what that context suggests about the repression the 8 of us face now. Because we are political organizers who have built solid relationships through our work, because we have various forms of privilege- some of us through our skin, some through our class, some through our education- and because we have the resources to invoke a national network of support, we are lucky, even as we are being targeted.

And so, while we ask for support in whatever form you are able to offer it, and while we need that support to stay free, we also ask that you think of our case as a late indicator of the oppressive climate in which we live. The best solidarity is to keep the struggle going, and we hope that supporting us can be a small part of broader movements for social change.

For better times and with love,

the RNC 8: Luce Guillen-Givins, Max Spector, Nathanael Secor, Eryn Timmer, Monica Bicking, Erik Oseland, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald

Most urgent private message

In Children, Corruption, Crazy Claims, Economics, Fraud, Human Rights Abuses, Humor, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Taxation, Terrorism, US Government on September 25, 2008 at 1:00 am

H/T Delaware Libertarian

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had a crisis that has caused the need for a large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Franklin Raines, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. You may know him as the Chief Economic Advisor for Senator Obama’s presidential campaign, and the former head of Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2006.

Let me assure you that this transaction is 100% safe. Mr. Raines is completely trustworthy with your money. His record speaks for itself.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of friend so the funds can be transferred. Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully

Henry “Hank” Paulson

Minister of Treasury