10 Oct

The Interventionists Haven’t Learned their Lesson from the Iraq Debacle


(Ron Paul) – October was Iraq’s deadliest month since April, 2008. In those five and a half years, not only has there been no improvement in Iraq’s security situation, but things have gotten much worse. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq last month, the vast majority of them civilians. Another 1,600 were wounded, as car bombs, shootings, and other attacks continue to maim and murder.

As post-“liberation” Iraq spirals steadily downward, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Washington last week to plead for more assistance from the United States to help restore order to a society demolished by the 2003 US invasion. Al-Qaeda has made significant recent gains, Maliki told President Obama at their meeting last Friday, and Iraq needs more US military aid to combat its growing influence.

Obama pledged to work together with Iraq to address al-Qaeda’s growing presence, but what was not said was that before the US attack there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq. The appearance of al-Qaeda in Iraq coincided with the US attack. They claimed we had to fight terror in Iraq, but the US invasion resulted in the creation of terrorist networks where before there were none. What a disaster.

Maliki also told President Obama last week that the war in next-door Syria was spilling over into Iraq, with the anti-Assad fighters setting off bombs and destabilizing the country. Already more than 5,000 people have been killed throughout Iraq this year, and cross-border attacks from Syrian rebels into Iraq are increasing those numbers. Again, what was not said was that the US government had supported these anti-Assad fighters both in secret and in the open for the past two years.

Earlier in the week a group of Senators – all of whom had supported the 2003 US invasion of Iraq – sent a strongly-worded letter to Obama complaining that Maliki was far too close to the Iranian government next door. What was not said was that this new closeness between the Iraqi and Iranian governments developed under the US-installed government after the US invasion of Iraq.

Surely there is plenty of blame that can be placed on Maliki and the various no-doubt corrupt politicians running Iraq these days. But how was it they came to power? Were we not promised by those promoting the war that it would create a beach-head of democracy in the Middle East and a pro-American government?

According to former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, in early 2001 as the new Bush administration was discussing an attack on Iraq, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, “Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that’s allied with US interests. It would change everything in the region and beyond it. It would demonstrate what US policy is all about.”

We see all these years later now how this ridiculous this idea was.

I have long advocated the idea that since we just marched in, we should just march out. That goes for US troops and also for US efforts to remake Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and everywhere the neocon wars of “liberation” have produced nothing but chaos, destruction, and more US enemies overseas. We can best improve the situation by just leaving them alone.

The interventionists have unfortunately neither learned their lesson from the Iraq debacle nor have they changed their tune. They are still agitating for regime change in Syria, even as they blame the Iraqi government for the destabilization that spills over. They are still agitating for a US attack on Iran, with Members of Congress introducing legislation recently that would actually authorize US force against Iran.

It looks like a very slow learning curve for our bipartisan leaders in Washington. It’s time for a change.

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09 Oct

IRS: Guilty Until Proven Innocent


(NY Times) – In an essay published by the New York Times eight years ago, the Internal Revenue Service is pointed out to be in direct opposition to our founding principles of innocence until proven guilty.  When Americans are audited, the I.R.S. is never responsible for proving its case.  Rather, the people are required to prove their innocence.

The taxpayer advocate at the Internal Revenue Service told Congress last week that since 2001, the I.R.S. has labeled as fraudulent the tax returns of 1.6 million people and has frozen their refunds without notice, although most appear to have done nothing wrong. Overwhelmingly, the taxpayers are poor and are simply applying for a break created for them.

Members of the staff of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the I.R.S., met in private yesterday with crime investigators from the agency. The committee’s chairman then issued a letter to the Treasury secretary with the right goal: correcting the I.R.S.’s apparent failure to balance the rights of taxpayers against the need to fight fraud. But the issues raised by the frozen refunds don’t end there. Congress should hold public hearings.


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08 Oct

Obama: Review Local, State Police Militarization. What About the Feds?


(Truth About Guns) – After the police response to public unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama announced a White House review of the 1033 military surplus program for local and state law enforcement agencies. That’s the federal program that “provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety.” So why is President Obama doing this? What’s his agenda? First . . .

politics, of course. As this website pointed out five days ago, the White House review is unlikely to offer anything other than a few rule changes and a new reporting system for police departments accepting loans – note: loans – of ex-military equipment. Eventually.


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07 Oct

Forest Service wants photogs to obtain permit before clicking


(Oregon Live) – The U.S. Forest Service has tightened restrictions on media coverage in vast swaths of the country’s wild lands, requiring reporters to pay for a permit and get permission before shooting a photo or video in federally designated wilderness areas.

Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in 36 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.

Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don’t get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.

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06 Oct

The real reason we are bombing Syria: White House popularity


(Dennis Kucinich) – The administration’s response to the conjunction of this weekend’s People’s Climate March and the International Day of Peace?

1) Bomb Syria the following day, to wrest control of the oil from ISIS which gained its foothold directly in the region through the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan funding and arming ISIS’ predecessors in Syria.

2) Send the president to UN General Assembly, where he will inevitably give a rousing speech about climate and peace, while the destruction of the environment and the shattering of world peace is on full display 5,000 miles away.

Nothing better illustrates the bankruptcy of the Obama administration’s foreign policy than funding groups that turn on the U.S. again and again, a neo-con fueled cycle of profits for war makers and destruction of ever-shifting “enemies.”

The fact can’t be refuted: ISIS was born of Western intervention in Iraq and covert action in Syria.

This Frankenstein-like experiment of arming the alleged freedom-seeking Syrian opposition created the monster that roams the region. ISIS and the U.S. have a curious relationship — mortal enemies that, at the same time, benefit from some of the same events:

a) Ousting former Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki for his refusal to consent to the continued presence of U.S. troops in his country.

b) Regime change in Syria.

c) Arming the Kurds so they can separate from Iraq, a preliminary move to partitioning Iraq.

What a coincidence for war-profiteering neo-cons and the war industry, which has seen its stock rise since last week’s congressional vote to fund the rapid expansion of war. We have met the enemy and he isn’t only ISIS, he is us.

Phase two of the war against Syria is the introduction of 5,000 “moderate” mercenaries (as opposed to immoderate ones), who were trained in Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of Wahhabism, at an initial installment cost of $15 billion. These new “moderates” will replace the old “moderates,” who became ISIS, just in time for Halloween.

The administration, in the belief that you can buy, rent, or lease friends where they otherwise do not exist, labor under the vain assumption that our newfound comrades-in-arms will remain in place during their three-year employment period, ignoring the inevitability that those “friends” you hire today could be firing at you tomorrow.

One wonders if Saudi training of these moderate mercenaries will include methods of beheading which were popularized by the Saudi government long before their ISIS progeny took up the grisly practice.

The U.S. is being played.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia can now overtly join with the U.S. in striking Syria, after they have been covertly attempting for years to take down the last secular state in the region. We are now advancing the agenda of the actual Islamic States — Saudi Arabia and Qatar — to fight the ersatz Islamic State of ISIS.

Now U.S. bombs and missiles might inadvertently “make the world safe” for theocracy rather than democracy. Today we read reports that Israel has shot down a Syrian warplane, indicating the terrible possibility of a wider regional conflict.

What does this have to do with the security of the 50 States United? Nothing!

Last week Congress acted prematurely in funding a war without following the proscriptions of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. (The day of the vote, I urged Congress to resist this dangerous and misguided legislation.) But even while the funding was given, the explicit authorization to go to war was not. To authorize a war, Congress must vote for war. It has not done that yet.

To sell its case, the administration is borrowing from the fear mongering tactics of the Bush administration. ISIS poses no direct, immediate threat to the United States —The White House even said so yesterday, just hours before bombing commenced – yet we are being sold make-believe about ISIS sleeper cells.

This attack on Syria, under the guise of striking ISIS, is by definition, a war of aggression. It is a violation of international law. It could lead to crimes against humanity and the deaths of untold numbers of innocent civilians. No amount of public relations or smooth talking can change that.

And yes, members of this Democratic administration, including the president who executed this policy, must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and by the American people, who he serves.

But as we know, war is a powerful and cynical PR tactic. I expect the bombing of Syria will momentarily boost the White House’s popularity with self-serving heroic accounts of damage inflicted upon ISIS (and the U.S. equipment they use). Stuffing the November ballot box with bombs and missiles may even help the Democratic Party retain the Senate.

But after the election the voters will discover that the president played into the hands of extremists, hurt civilians, and embroiled our country deep into another conflict in the Middle East.

There were alternatives. The U.S. and the international community could have contained and shrunk ISIS by cutting off its funds and its revenue from sale of oil on the black market. We could have looked to strike a deal with Syria and Iran.

In foreign policy, the administration has failed. Congress has failed. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have passed the national checkbook to their patrons in the war contracting business. And passed the bill to future generations.

The American people, who in 2008 searched for something redemptive after years of George W. Bush’s war, realize in 2014 that hope and change was but a clever slogan. It was used to gain power and to keep it through promoting fear, war, the growth of the National Security state, and an autumnal bonfire of countless billions of tax dollars which fall like leaves from money trees on the banks of the Potomac.

Originally published at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-j-kucinich/syria-isis-war_b_5869964.html

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05 Oct

The Libertarian moment has arrived


(Lew Rockwell) – Earlier this month the New York Timeswondered aloud if the “libertarian moment” had arrived. A good question, to be sure.

To answer it, though, Times reporter Robert Draper sought out not quite the top libertarian thinkers in the world, but instead those people most easily reached within a ten-minute walk from the Capitol or the Empire State Building.

Draper begins with an ex-MTV personality and proceeds from there. None of the people whose work and writing have shaped the libertarian movement, and who have converted so many people to our point of view, make an appearance. Ask the hordes of young kids who are devouring libertarian classics how many of them were introduced to libertarianism, or even slightly influenced, by the figures on whom the Times chooses to rely. You already know the answer.

The movement’s major thinkers have rather more intellectual heft behind them, which I suspect is why the Times would prefer to keep them from you. Far better for libertarianism to seem like an ill-focused, adolescent rebellion against authority per se, instead of a serious, intellectually exciting school of thought that challenges every last platitude about the State we were taught in its ubiquitous schools.

Economist and historian Bob Higgs shared my impression of the Timesarticle:

Of course, it’s easy to ridicule libertarians if you focus exclusively on the lifestyle camp. Easy, too, to accuse them of inconsistency, because in truth these particular libertarians are inconsistent. Easy, too, to minimize their impact by concentrating heavily on conventional electoral politics, as if no other form of societal change were conceivable. Easy, too, to ignore completely the only ones – the anarchists – who cannot be accused of inconsistency or ridiculed for their impotence as players in the conventional political game, a game for which they have only contempt. Finally, it’s easy, too – and a great deal more interesting for general, clueless readers – to focus on the hip libertarians.

As Bob points out, the Times reporter says he finds inconsistency among libertarians, because some want to cut only this much, or abolish only those things. But this is what he gets for focusing on the political class and the Beltway brand of libertarianism. Libertarianism is about as consistent a philosophy as a Times reader is likely to encounter. We oppose aggression, period. That means we oppose the State, which amounts to institutionalized aggression.

We have zero interest in “public policy,” a term that begs every important moral question. To ask what kind of “public policy” ought to exist in such-and-such area implicitly assumes (1) that private property is subject to majority vote; (2) that people can be expropriated by the State to whatever degree the State considers necessary in order to carry out the “public policy” in question; (3) that there exists an institution with moral legitimacy that may direct our physical resources and even our lives in particular ways against our wills, even when we are causing no particular harm to anyone.

Still, I note in passing, political consultants are doing their best to make a quick buck on the rising tide of libertarianism. A fundraising email I receive from time to time urges people to get involved in the political process, since simply “educating people” (contemptuous, condescending quotation marks in original) isn’t enough. Instead. they’re told, it’s more important to spend their time supporting political candidates who occasionally give a decent speech but who otherwise deny libertarian principles on a routine basis, in the spurious hope that once in office, these candidates will throw off their conventional exteriors and announce themselves as libertarians.

The Times, too, thinks primarily about politics, of all things, when assessing whether the libertarian moment has arrived. The article is fixated on the political class. But why conceive of the question so narrowly? Why should we assess the growth and significance of libertarianism on the basis of political metrics alone?

The left understands this point. Recall Antonio Gramsci’s strategy for bringing about lasting leftist victory. He did not advocate immediate and exclusive emphasis on political activity. If the people’s minds had not been changed in the direction that a leftist government would want to take them, all their political conniving would be in vain anyway.

Vastly more important, Gramsci taught, was for their ideas to work their way through the universities, the arts, and all the other institutions of civil society. At that point, it wouldn’t matter who won the elections. The people would already be in their hands – and in all likelihood, the two competing candidates would themselves have adopted leftist language and ideas, whether they realized it or not, to boot.

Now judged by Gramsci’s standard, the libertarian moment has not arrived any more than it has in politics. These institutions are firmly in the hands of those who hold libertarian ideas in contempt, even if an exception might be found here and there.

But if we define the term “libertarian moment” more modestly, a different conclusion emerges. No, we have not reached a point at which anything like a majority of Americans have embraced our ideas. But we have reached a point at which even mainstream sources, which in the pre-Internet age could get away with ignoring us altogether, are forced to acknowledge us, if only for purposes of dismissal and ridicule.

Economic commentary can no longer pretend that our choices are either fiscal expansion or monetary expansion. A new school of thought has spoiled the party, letting Americans know that these phony choices by no means exhaust the real alternatives.

Thanks to Ron Paul, a new generation understands it’s all right to favor the free market and to oppose war. Libertarians have done more than anyone else to expose the Democrats as just another wing of the war party, and to show there’s no real debate in America over foreign policy. This is considered extremely uncouth by those who wish to maintain the pretense that open discussion of important issues takes place in the land of the free.

After decades of virtually no progress at all against the war on drugs, the prohibitionist regime is beginning to crack all around us. The standard bromides in its favor elicit only cynical chuckles from a rising generation that knows better.

Ordinarily, federal bailouts would be bipartisan and all but unanimous, with self-described supporters of the market economy solemnly informing us that just this once, it had to be done. Progressives have not distinguished themselves here as they might have; Rachel Maddow once said we wouldn’t have had an economy without the bailouts. It’s the libertarians who have stood against the establishment tide, as usual.

In other words, we are having discussions that we did not have in the past. Libertarians have staked out positions that a lot of ordinary people share, but which they never saw articulated in public, thereby giving people the confidence and courage to express dissent.

Ten years ago, these dissident views would have been drowned out by the establishment consensus, which closes ranks whenever an issue of real importance arises.

Is it too much to call this the libertarian moment? Whatever we want to call it, it’s the beginning of something never seen before in American history, and that alone is reason to celebrate.

Originally published at: http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/08/lew-rockwell/were-winning-3/

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04 Oct

CA investigates plan to charge drivers by the mile


(Liberty Fight) – In a surprisingly under-the-radar development, Governor Jerry Brown has signed into a law a program which will set up the infrastructure to charge California motorists by the mile. Brown signed SB-1077 into law. on September 29th. Officially titled ‘Vehicles: road usage charge pilot program’, the law will create a task force to address all the aspects of a ‘charge-drivers-by-the-mile’ program in the state, which would replace the purportedly ‘ineffective’ and ‘inadequate’ gasoline tax.

SB-1077 passed by the CA assembly on Aug 25 and the State Senate Aug 26. The bill’s own author admits that “the mileage charge could burden families in California,” and its’ co-author admits that “the task force and pilot program will likely consume substantial resources.”

SB-1077 states, in part, that “the revenues currently available for highways and local roads are inadequate to preserve and maintain existing infrastructure and to provide funds for improvements that would reduce congestion and improve service.” It adds

  • The gas tax is an ineffective mechanism for meeting California’s long-term revenue needs
  • Road usage charging is a policy whereby motorists pay for the use of the roadway network based on the distance they travel. Drivers pay the same rate per mile driven, regardless of what part of the roadway network they use.
  • It is therefore important that the state begin to explore alternative revenue sources that may be implemented in lieu of the antiquated gas tax structure now in place.

The law also notes that the task force would take the following into consideration, not shy about their use of force and confiscation:

  • The ease and cost of recording and reporting highway use.
  • The ease and cost of administering the collection of taxes and fees as an alternative to the current system of taxing highway use through motor vehicle fuel taxes.
  • Effective methods of maintaining compliance.


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04 Oct

The question no Libertarian can answer – but I can


American Revolution(SmallGovTimes) – Attacking the Libertarian philosophy as a pie-in-the-sky idea outside the bounds of reality, a Salon.com article published last year asks a question that apparently has never been answered by a Libertarian.  What is the question?

If your [Libertarian] approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world tried it?

Wealthy and well-connected politicians run virtually every government known to man.  They hinge their success not on the freedom of the people, but on how powerful their office is.  The problem with the question is it assumes that a government would ever, willingly, give up power and control for the freedom and liberty of their nation’s people.  Sadly, that is not the way governments work.

The key word here is “willingly“.

The Salon article continued to press the question.  “If libertarianism was a good idea, wouldn’t at least one country have tried it?”  In other words, Libertarians are being asked if any government in the world has ever voluntarily given up authority over the population to provide the people with a more forceful voice that effectively threatens government’s power and influence over the population.

Well gee, no.  I don’t think any government has willingly given up such power.  Go figure.

But wait…remember the key word “willingly”?

The American revolution was pure libertarianism

What the Salon author fails to realize, however, is how deeply ingrained the principles of libertarianism were in our nation’s revolution several hundred years ago.  Libertarians believe in true freedom and liberty.  They resist strong and all-powerful governments enforcing freedom-killing legislation that renders people impotent, weak and complacent.  As a libertarian, you instinctively believe in the inherent desire of every man, woman and child to be free from tyranny and empowered to build a successful life as they see fit.

A government was formed in the midst of our fight for independence – a government formed under the principles of libertarianism.  A constitution was ratified that limited the power and scope of the government.  Freedom was the prevailing objective, and government involvement was only necessary and prudent in the protection of our natural and inherent liberties as people.

Why is the United States government no longer libertarian?  Hint: it’s not because libertarianism doesn’t work.  Rather, it’s because government doesn’t work.

A cursory study of governments around the world paint a very consistent picture of government growth enabled by deep-seeded corruption and voracious appetites for power and control.  Have you ever wondered why so many of our political figures are extremely wealthy?

Remember: Politicians don’t get wealthy in libertarian governments.

Politicians get wealthy in powerful governments.  Over the decades, our political figures have expertly grown government influence through careful use of war, poverty and entitlements.  At the end of a president’s term in office, have you ever seen our government smaller than when he took office?

No – because governments do not give up power.

And so, to the question of whether I have ever seen a country “try” libertarianism?  Yes, OURS!  But unfortunately, government got in the way.


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03 Oct

Boehner: ‘Somebody’s boots have to be on the ground’ to defeat ISIS


(The Hill) – The U.S. may have “no choice” but to send in ground troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned on Sunday.

The top House Republican said he did not believe the strategy outlined by President Obama, which includes the use of American air power but rules out boots on the ground, will accomplish the goal of destroying the terror network.

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03 Oct

Obama Invented Fake ‘Threat’ to Launch War on Syria


(Daniel McAdams from the Ron Paul Institute) – It has become abundantly clear, thanks especially to excellent reporting and analysis by Glenn Greenwald and Justin Raimondo, that the “Khorasan Group” threat used as the pretext for the US bombing of Syria was totally fabricated by the US government. The purpose was an attempt to legitimize what would otherwise be an illegal US attack.

In the immediate run-up to the US bombing of Syria, unnamed sources in the US government began leaking to the obedient US press corps ever-more fantastic tales about a new group of terrorists that were far more terrifying than ISIS (which we had just been told was far more terrifying than al-Qaeda). This new group, dubbed the “Khorasan Group” by the US government, was said by US officials to post a “direct and imminent threat to the United States.”

The US strikes on Syria thwarted an “imminent attack” on the US homeland by the Khorasan Group, the US administration claimed, as reported by CNN.

For the moment, as the US attacked Syria, we heard almost nothing about ISIS, the originally stated reason for the US strikes in the first place. The US administration had to hit ISIS immediately, “before we all get killed here at home,” as Sen. Lindsey Graham put it at the time.

Yet suddenly the real threat was Khorasan, not ISIS. Why is that?

Clearly White House lawyers were burning the midnight oil looking for some way to apply a legal fig leaf to what would be illegal under US and international law. The US president is not permitted to launch a military attack without Congressional action unless to defend against an “imminent” attack on the United States. That would not include ISIS, which was busy taking over territory 6,000 miles from Washington, D.C.

What to do? Invent an attack. And that is what the administration did. But as soon as the bombs fell, the story had to change very quickly once again. And it did.

Writes Greenwald:

But once it served its purpose of justifying the start of the bombing campaign in Syria, the Khorasan narrative simply evaporated as quickly as it materialized. …

Literally within a matter of days, we went from ‘perhaps in its final stages of planning its attack’ (CNN) to ‘plotting as ‘aspirational’ and ‘there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works’ (NYT). …

Even more remarkable, it turns out the very existence of an actual ‘Khorasan Group’ was to some degree an invention of the American government. NBC’s [Richard] Engel, the day after he reported on the U.S. government’s claims about the group for Nightly News, seemed to have serious second thoughts about the group’s existence, Tweeting that ‘Syrian activists they’ve never heard of Khorasan or its leader.’

President Obama and his administration lied the US into a war on Syria every bit as much as the Bush administration lied us into a war on Iraq. Were the US media not still every bit as compliant with the US government as they had been in 2002, they would be all over this story.

How many people were fooled once again into supporting US military action based on US government lies hyped by the US mainstream media? This time, we were told, we had to believe the US administration. We had to act! And again they lied.

The idea that we have an independent US media acting as a watchdog for the common good is one of the greatest myths of our time.


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