Archive | January, 2014

American Fascism

26 Jan

January 20, 2014

This talk was delivered at the 2014 Mises Circle in Houston, Texas.

We know about the transformation of the American police, with their paramilitary equipment, their SWAT team raids, and incentive to terrorize people over drug offenses rather than pursue crimes against person and property. We know about the National Security Agency, which can access every American’s e-mails, phone calls, or text messages. And yet too many average Americans have greeted all this with indifference.

This indifference, I suggest, derives from the widespread public acceptance of the myth of the state that Americans are taught from the moment they step into a government classroom. The myth is this: the state is a public-service institution established to provide you with security, both personal and economic. And after years of indoctrination into this myth, it is little wonder that so many Americans are prepared to give the state the benefit of the doubt, and to look upon dissidents as incorrigible troublemakers. The police and the military, the most celebrated public faces of the state, are to be questioned least of all.

All social theory can be reduced to two categories: those that conceive of society as the result of peace, and those for which the indispensable ingredient is violence. This is the fundamental distinction between liberalism and fascism, a point I discuss further in a book I released earlier this year called Fascism vs. Capitalism.

There is some confusion surrounding terms here. When Ludwig von Mises published his book Liberalism in English translation, he changed the title to The Free and Prosperous Commonwealth. He did so because by the latter half of the twentieth century, the word “liberal” no longer carried the meaning it once had. It had come to mean centralization, the welfare state, and a substantial government presence in economic and social life.

The liberalism I have in mind, of course, is not the modern liberalism of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but the classical liberalism of Thomas Jefferson and Frederic Bastiat. Classical liberalism, by contrast, believed in free markets, free trade, toleration, and civil liberties.

It represented a movement toward a theory of society in which human cooperation emerged spontaneously and without coercion, by means of the natural processes of the market economy. It recognized that society seemed to manage itself without the involvement of extraneous forces like kings, aristocracies, or parliaments, and that the intervention of those forces was more likely aimed at the enrichment of a favored group or of the state itself than of at the well-being of society at large.

The price system, a spontaneous product of the free-market economy, helped entrepreneurs arrange the factors of production in such a way as to produce those outputs most highly valued by society, and to produce them in a way that was least costly in terms of opportunities foregone. Individuals specialized in those areas in which they had the greatest skill or knowledge, and the resulting division of labor meant a vastly greater output of consumer goods for everyone to enjoy. None of this required the intervention of the state. To the contrary, the state could interject only white noise into this naturally occurring process: production and consumption, profit and loss, changing consumer demands and entrepreneurial adjustment to those demands.

For the classical liberal, the state was almost an afterthought. Some would have it provide a few basic services, while others conceived of it as nothing more than a night watchman. Beginning with Gustave de Molinari, the classical liberal tradition even groped toward the possibility that the state was a dangerous, parasitical, and ultimately unnecessary monopoly.

And, of course, it was against a backdrop of peace that the classical liberal described the progress of mankind.

Fascists looked at society and the state quite differently. The prosaic bourgeois virtues of commerce, of producing, trading, and earning profit, are viewed with contempt next to the code of the warrior, which is what the fascist truly respects. Greatness comes not through the ordinary pursuits of the market or the obedience to the duties of one’s state in life, but through struggle.

It is Benito Mussolini’s famous remark – “Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing above the state” – that truly sums up the essence of fascism. The good of the Nation, as defined by the fascist leader, surpasses all other concerns and allegiances. The fascist speaks of the Nation with a religious reverence. An Italian fascist youth movement in the 1920s composed the following creed:

I believe in Rome the Eternal, the mother of my country, and in Italy her eldest Daughter, who was born in her virginal bosom by the grace of God; who suffered through the barbarian invasions, was crucified and buried; who descended to the grave and was raised from the dead in the nineteenth century; who ascended into Heaven in her glory in 1918 and 1922; who is seated on the right hand of her mother Rome; and who for this reason shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the genius of Mussolini, in our Holy Father Fascism, in the communion of its martyrs, in the conversion of Italians, and in the resurrection of the Empire.

This devotion to the Nation is concentrated in allegiance to the charismatic leader. The untrammeled exercise of the leader’s will is a central ingredient in the realization of the Nation’s destiny. Moreover, the leader’s will must trump the array of activities that comprise the free market. The various companies, professions, unions, and government must work together with a conscious plan to ensure the best outcome for the Nation. This is why it is so preposterous to hear opponents of the market economy describe libertarians as “fascists.” No one could be more anti-fascist than a libertarian.

Political centralization was also central to fascism, for if the Nation is the embodiment of the people, and if it is through the Nation that every individual realizes his destiny, we cannot tolerate resistance by lesser jurisdictions within the Nation. As Adolf Hitler himself said:

National Socialism as a matter of principle, must lay claim to the right to force its principles on the whole German nation without consideration of previous federated state boundaries… Certainly all the states in the world are moving toward a certain unification in their inner organization. And in this Germany will be no exception. Today it is an absurdity to speak of a “state sovereignty”‘ of individual provinces…. In particular we cannot grant to any individual state within the nation and the state representing it state sovereignty and sovereignty in point of political power.

To say that there are fascist trends and features in the United States of today is not to say that this country is just like interwar Italy or Germany. There are some features of fascism as traditionally understood that can be found only faintly in American society today, and others than can be found not at all.

But it would be foolish to pretend that America is the very opposite of the fascist dystopias. Whether it’s the emphasis on centralization, the glorification of the police and the military, the yearning for a “third way” between capitalism and socialism, the elevation of “public service” above the services we freely provide one another on the market, the creepy and incessant references to “my president” or “our president,” or the depiction of the state as a quasi-divine instrument, the commonalities are neither trivial nor few.

Americans no doubt recoil from or laugh at that passage from the Italian fascists I shared with you a few moments ago. But few Americans are in a position to render such a judgement. Most have absorbed the idea that their government, far from a merely utilitarian contrivance established to provide them with some basic services, as many early Americans doubtless conceived of it, is a redemptive force in the world.

John Winthrop appropriated a biblical image of the church when he spoke of his settlement of Puritans as resembling a “city on a hill.” By the time Ronald Reagan made that phrase a rhetorical commonplace in American politics, it had been fully secularized. Not the church but the American state would transform mankind as God’s instrument.

Americans, even (or perhaps especially) American Christians, are for that reason not scandalized at politicians’ appropriation of religious language to describe their government. It bothers them not at all to learn that the iconic Abraham Lincoln said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” America government ideals, or that when George W. Bush said “the light shined in darkness and the darkness did not overcome it,” by “light” he meant American government ideals.

In US history, presidents who avoided war, or who viewed the presidential office modestly and without messianic overtones, are neglected or even denounced by our official historians. You can guess at the views and activities of the presidents favored by the opinion molders. “Beware any politician who is ‘beloved,’” historian Ralph Raico once warned.

The bipartisan adulation of Theodore Roosevelt, the man Bill Clinton called his favorite Republican president, speaks volumes about the values of the regime. Roosevelt once told a friend that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the US got into a military conflict with Germany, because if New York and other cities on the East Coast were burned to the ground, it would remind Americans how badly they need a system of coastal defenses, and it would force German-Americans to make an ostentatious patriotic display against Germany.

The philosopher William James said of Roosevelt that “he gushes over war as the ideal condition of human society, for the manly strenuousness which it involves, and treats peace as a condition of blubberlike and swollen ignobility, fit only for huckstering weaklings.”

After leaving office, Roosevelt became an advocate of “universal obligatory military training,” and thought every young man needed to spend time in a US Army camp. Roosevelt said, “I believe that for every young man … to have six months in such a camp … [with] some field service, would be of incalculable benefit to him, and … to the nation…. [M]aking these camps permanent would be the greatest boon this nation could receive.”

In how many schools can a benign portrait of Theodore Roosevelt be found looking down at students from the wall? Meanwhile, Ron Paul – the man of peace and civil liberties – was ignored and mocked by the American media. This tells us something about the present regime and what it holds dear.

The cult of personality surrounding the US president has only grown since the age of TR, culminating in the creepy videos of schoolchildren pledging allegiance to Barack Obama and the YouTubes of Hollywood actors promising their eternal loyalty. But some of those who ridiculed these ridiculous displays had themselves been part of the cult of George W. Bush. During the Bush years, Christian neocons made a video about the president set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s classic “When the Man Comes Around.” That song had been written about Jesus Christ. Here are some of the words they set to a video about George W. Bush:

There’s a man goin’ ‘round takin’ names. An’ he decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won’t be treated all the same. There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down. When the man comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up. At the terror in each sip and in each sup. For you partake of that last offered cup, Or disappear into the potter’s ground. When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers. One hundred million angels singin’. Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum. Voices callin’, voices cryin’. Some are born an’ some are dyin’. It’s Alpha’s and Omega’s Kingdom come….

Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom. Then the father hen will call his chickens home. The wise men will bow down before the throne. And at his feet they’ll cast their golden crown. When the man comes around.

That man, remember, was George W. Bush.

Americans are taught that they owe their freedoms to their government’s military. Whether it’s a country music concert, a sporting event, or even a restaurant chain, Americans are subjected to a ceaseless stream of reminders of what they allegedly owe to this particular class of government employees. (Let’s not forget the popular bumper sticker: “Only two defining forces have ever died for you: Jesus the Christ and the American soldier.”) How exactly their freedoms were threatened in any of the military conflicts in question is one of those impertinent questions one does not ask in polite society.

Even people who oppose the wars, and who know they’re animated by propaganda, cheer on airplanes for the returning troops who, the airline staff assures them, are “protecting our freedom.” Americans are taught to say “thank you for your service” only to government employees, and just to the regime’s military branch. They are not taught to ask questions of authority.

The propaganda has worked, to some extent at least. When Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which their government was spying on and lying to them, many listeners of right-wing radio demanded not that these activities cease, but that the leaker himself be silenced. The man who had embarrassed their rulers should be tried for treason and executed. I have heard this phenomenon described as a case of society-wide Stockholm Syndrome, and I don’t think that’s far from the mark.

Americans today give the police the benefit of the doubt, consenting to searches and tolerating behavior that would have elicited revolt in centuries past. For the fascist regime as for our own, the public must be overawed by the state’s shows of force. And although more people are beginning to stand up against police abuse, those who speak up for the rights of individuals against the tactics of a police state are widely thought of as the blameworthy parties. We must be united as one against the Enemy, we are told, for he lurks everywhere. Those who insist too strongly on their individual rights in times of danger do not properly appreciate the righteous cause on which their righteous government is embarked.

If some of the superstitions of fascism have made their way into American life, it could be because both fascism and whatever it is that America has become share a superstition in common – namely, the state itself. The state has been cloaked in all manner of flattering but obfuscating rhetoric. The state looks after the general welfare, provides economic stability, protects us from the bad guys, prevents inequality, and binds us together in a common cause greater than ourselves.

It’s time we viewed the state for what it really is: a mechanism by which rulers enrich themselves at the expense of the ruled. Everything else is a smokescreen.

For the proof of that statement, I refer you to the library of books and articles we make available for free at Mises.org. I might also refer you to the daily headlines.

To be sure, the state continues to extend its reach, as the topics we’re covering at this event today make abundantly clear, but the intellectual opposition, spearheaded by the Mises Institute, is growing, and stronger than ever. Inspired by Ron Paul, throngs of students and young people understand the true nature of the state, and indeed the true nature of the police state. A group called Cop Block, started just a few years ago and consisting mostly of young people, sums up the libertarian response to the police state in the pithy maxim: “Badges don’t grant extra rights.”

The fascists, and the rest of the state’s adepts, manipulate the crowd with irrational appeals. Speaking of the political rivals to liberalism, Mises wrote: “Rhetorical bombast, music and song resound, banners wave, flowers and colors serve as symbols, and the leaders seek to attach their followers to their own person. Liberalism has nothing to do with all this. It has no party flower and no party color, no party song and no party idols, no symbols and no slogans. It has the substance and the arguments. These must lead it to victory.”

Support the Mises Institute as we strive to do exactly that.

 

The Best of Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Presidential Placebo

26 Jan

January 23, 2014

When President Obama chose a Friday before a three-day holiday weekend to address a matter as profound as the NSA spying scandal, I suspected he would raise issues that he hoped the media would ignore. That’s because the Reagan White House did a study in the early 1980s and concluded that Fridays are low-value news days and thus a good time to bury the lead, so to speak. Every president since then has followed that lead.

Instead of addressing the massive violations of the natural and constitutionally protected right to privacy, instead of acknowledging that but for the personal courage of Edward Snowden his administration would still be pulling the wool over our eyes, instead of reestablishing the serious constitutional and civil liberties bona fides he established for himself as a U.S. senator, the president defended his massive spying as a necessary tool in the fight to maintain national security and offered only a placebo to its critics.

Just how massive is this scandal? The Washington Post has reported that the NSA hacks into 500,000 American buddy lists and 600,000 American address books every day, and the Guardian of London reported last week that the NSA seizes 200,000,000 American text messages every day. This is in addition to seizing the content of all cellphone- and landline-generated telephone conversations and copies of all emails sent or received in the United States. And all of that is in addition to seizing all bank records, utility bills and credit card bills of everyone in the United States.

By not addressing or refuting any of this, the president obviously plans to continue it. He also plans to reject the most basic principles of American government. If the government derives its powers from the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence declares it does, and if the governed lack the lawful authority to hack and seize our neighbors’ texts and phone calls and utility bills, how could we have given that authority to the government?

In the president’s world, that’s an easy question to answer: Do it in secret. Enact legislation that lets a dozen NSA-sycophantic members of Congress speak for the legislative branch, tell only that dozen about the spying in secret and swear them to secrecy. Enact legislation that lets a dozen secret judges issue search warrants based on the government’s wishes rather than probable cause, and seek permission from any one of those judges in secret and swear them to secrecy. And then in public deny and lie and change the subject.

In a thinly disguised effort to change the subject, Obama’s Friday speech focused on where the seized data is stored, rather than on whether the government in a free society is empowered to collect it. He proposed that the data seized by the NSA be stored at non-government locations that he did not identify and kept there and be made available to the NSA after approval by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.

Even if a third party capable and willing to store this data could be found, the additional step to the FISA court is no additional constitutional protection whatsoever. Every federal and state court in the United States follows the constitutional requirement that whenever any government is seeking a search warrant to conduct surveillance, the government must present particularized evidence identifying its target, and the evidence must constitute probable cause of criminal behavior on the part of that target; every court, that is, except the FISA court. That court issues general warrants that do not name a target and are based on the NSA’s wishes, rather than evidence of probable cause.

So, that silent exhale of relief from the NSA last week was generated by the realization that this third-party storage proposal will not restrict the massive spying one iota.

Added to this placebo is the president’s proposal to employ a Defender of the Constitution (what a great job title!) to appear before the FISA court, along with lawyers for the NSA, and argue against the NSA’s wishes. This is another diversion that would add another level of unconstitutional and irrelevant complexity to the present scheme.

In the present scheme, the persons on the FISA court may be federal judges, but they are performing clerical functions, not judicial functions. That’s because, unlike state courts, which are courts of general jurisdiction, the jurisdiction of all federal courts can only be invoked when there are real cases and controversies brought to them. If the Defender of the Constitution appeared in front of the FISA court, he or she could only do so by representing a real client in a real dispute with the federal government. But the NSA does not identify its targets, much less deal with their lawyers. The president’s proposal would turn this non-court court into a law school moot court exercise.

His third proposal adds insult to injury. He offers to stop the NSA from doing to foreign leaders what it has been doing to Americans. No doubt, that is to enable him to save face with his selfie-snapping European colleagues. But it hardly smacks of understanding the problem of massive spying. It may be an insult to spy on his fellow heads of state, and it may affect diplomacy with them, but stopping it hardly enhances the natural right to privacy of the rest of us.

This mass spying is uniquely and profoundly un-American and will continue to undermine our freedoms. I am not arguing here that all spying is illegal — just that spying on all of us is illegal. Why bother with the formality of warrants when they permit all spying all the time? Spying on anyone not named in a warrant, or employing a warrant not based on probable cause, is the hallmark of those totalitarian regimes against which we have fought our just wars and our cold wars. Yet today, the government in America seems more like the former enemies we vanquished than the place of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness the Framers established.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

 

The Best of Andrew P. Napolitano

A Childhood in Athens

26 Jan
No Sign of Socrates, Though

By 

January 20, 2014

 

It is common for aging men, worn by the long years of drinking and skirt.chasing and strenuous dissolution in the fleshpots of Asia, or any available fleshpots, to remember their youth in roseate hues that never were. But, dammit, we really did go barefoot. And had BB guns. And the dog could go anywhere it damned well pleased, and come back when it chose.

Athens, Alabama in 1957 was a small Southern town like countless others in Dixie with a statue of a Confederate soldier on the town square and little evidence of government of any kind, which was well since it didn’t need any. While the South had not fared well in its ardent resistance to Federal regulation a century earlier, still there was little meddling by Washington in my years there. The South’s martial displeasure with federal intrusion was remembered, though: When I moved down from Virginia, I was to other kids “the damyank on the corner” until I learned to wrap words in a comfortable padding of syllables, as God commanded.

On the square. While Southerners are the most patriotic and martial of Americans, they have the least use for Washington. In which I heartily concur. Photos: FOE Staff.

Although my father was a mathematician at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, and perhaps entitled to social pretensions, he didn’t have any. Consequently I lived as a half-wild disciple of Tom Sawyer. So did most of the town’s boys. Come summer, we at first tentatively abandoned shoes. No one thought this odd, because it wasn’t.  Soon our soles toughened to leather and we walked everywhere, even on gravel, without ill effect.

And nobody cared. Oh sweet age of nobody cared.  Child Protective Services didn’t show up, officious passive-aggressive snots, to carry my parents away. Today they would, droning censoriously of hygiene and worms and crippling cuts from broken glass and parental irresponsibility.

Many of my friends lost feet to these perils. To this day you can see them rolling about in wheel chairs in their dozens.

Foot-nekkid and fancy free, we went to the Limestone Drug Store on the town square, piled our ball mitts and BB guns inside the door, and read comic books for hours. The owner, a frizzzly redhead man in his seventies whom we knew only as Cochie, liked little boys. Today this would be thought evidence of pedophilia and he would be required to undergo therapy and wear an ankle bracelet. Actually, Coochie just liked kids. And since it was his store, nobody at corporate got his panties in a knot because the comic books were read into virtual dust without ever being bought. The federal government had not yet regulated small-town soda fountains to protect us.

Still there, fifty-seven years later. Much changed inside but the current owners, whoever they are, had the decency to preserve the orignial soda fountain.

The devastating plagues that swept the South in those years, mysteriously unrecorded, were doubtless the result of bare feet in Limestone Drug.

BB guns, I said. We all had them. Most were the Red Ryder model, costing I think $4.95 in as-yet uninflated currency. Mine was the Daisy Eagle, a more glorious version with a plastic telescopic sight. Every corner store sold big packs of BBs. We went everywhere with these lethal arms, often with a ball glove hung of the barrel for convenient carrying.

Today children of six years are led from classrooms in handcuffs for merely drawing a rifle (curious in the world’s most militarily aggressive country). I suppose we would have been executed for actually having one. But, as I say, the saving benefits of federal counsel had not yet reached Athens.

What did we do with these weapons? First, we didn’t shoot each other, or anyone else. We weren’t stupid. Stupidity properly comes with adolescence, and then is directed into drink and insane driving, as it should be.

A BB gun provides excellent training in marksmanship because you can see over the sights the little coppery pellet arching into the distance. It produces an eye for elevation and windage that shows up on the rifle ranges of Parris Island.

I remember afternoons of shooting cotton-mouths from the rusting iron bridge over the creek near the Valley Gin Company, no longer e3xistent. (In the South, “gin” means a place that takes seeds out of cotton, instead of vodka made unpalatable by the addition of juniper juice.) Further, we tried to shoot dragon flies that flitted in iridescent blues and greens among the swamp weeds, wings making a papery rustle. Usually we missed. These insects, known in varying locales as the Devil’s darning needles, snake doctors, or ‘skeeter hawks, are elusive.

Today they would be a protected species. Buying a BB gun would require proof of adulthood, capacity would be restricted by federal law to six BBs, the purchase of which would require registration and a waiting period. In 1957 Athens figured that BB guns were none of the government’s goddamed business. The concept has been forgotten.

However, regulation is not without reason. If you walk around the town square today, you will notice that perhaps just over half of the men are blind in at least one eye from BB wounds, as they roll about in wheel chairs because of feet lost to going barefoot.

My pooch at the time was Penny, an agreeable gal dog given to occasional promiscuity. This was only human of her.  She was a cross between something and something else, as dogs should be. I do not like snooty purebred dogs who eat only at the finest restaurants and probably have psychiatrists.

At night Penny sometimes slept on the foot of my bed, common in those days. When she wanted to go out, she scratched at the door, and went. I don’t know where she went. She was a grown dog, competent to manage her affairs. When she returned, she scratched, and came in. This did on two occasions result in new little dogs, but no system is perfect

Pretty much identical to our house, now gone, but ours was without the flags.

Today she would require a license, vaccinations, enrolment in Obamacare, and an implanted chip so NSA could protect her from terrorists (always common in Athens). She would have to be constantly on a leash, like all other Americans, and Child Protective Services would carry my parents away for letting her sleep on my bed.

This would be for our own good. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that between 1950 and 1960, 1.2 million Southern children died of dog poisoning. Further, unleashed dogs like Penny frequently killed and ate old people rocking on their porches. I didn’t understand that when Penny licked my hand, she was checking for flavor.

Such was America, when it was America.  It was a helluva country, warts and all, and Athens was a helluva childhood. These never will be again, but they were, and for those who knew them, it was enough.

 

The Best of Fred Reed

Think Tank: “Extraordinary Crisis” Needed to Preserve “New World Order”

26 Jan

Author of ‘shock and awe’ doctrine says elite threatened by non-state actors like Edward Snowden

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
January 17, 2014

Writing for the Atlantic Council, a prominent think tank based in Washington DC, Harlan K. Ullman warns that an “extraordinary crisis” is needed to preserve the “new world order,” which is under threat of being derailed by non-state actors like Edward Snowden.

Image: Atlantic Council Meeting (Wikimedia Commons).

The Atlantic Council is considered to be a highly influential organization with close ties to major policy makers across the world. It’s headed up by Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former United States National Security Advisor under U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. Snowcroft has also advised President Barack Obama.

Harlan K. Ullman was the principal author of the “shock and awe” doctrine and is now Chairman of the Killowen Group which advises government leaders.

In an article entitled War on Terror Is not the Only Threat, Ullman asserts that, “tectonic changes are reshaping the international geostrategic system,” arguing that it’s not military superpowers like China but “non-state actors” like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and anonymous hackers who pose the biggest threat to the “365 year-old Westphalian system” because they are encouraging individuals to become self-empowered, eviscerating state control.

“Very few have taken note and fewer have acted on this realization,” notes Ullman, lamenting that “information revolution and instantaneous global communications” are thwarting the “new world order” announced by U.S. President George H.W. Bush more than two decades ago.

“Without an extraordinary crisis, little is likely to be done to reverse or limit the damage imposed by failed or failing governance,” writes Ullman, implying that only another 9/11-style cataclysm will enable the state to re-assert its dominance while “containing, reducing and eliminating the dangers posed by newly empowered non-state actors.”

Ullman concludes that the elimination of non-state actors and empowered individuals “must be done” in order to preserve the new world order. A summary of their material suggests that the Atlantic Council’s definition of a “new world order” is a global technocracy run by a fusion of big government and big business under which individuality is replaced by transhumanist singularity.

Ullman’s rhetoric sounds somewhat similar to that espoused by Trilateral Commission co-founder and regular Bilderberg attendee Zbigniew Brzezinski, who in 2010 told a Council on Foreign Relations meeting that a “global political awakening,” in combination with infighting amongst the elite, was threatening to derail the move towards a one world government.

Ullman’s implied call for an “extraordinary crisis” to reinvigorate support for state power and big government has eerie shades of the Project For a New American Century’s 1997 lament that “absent some catastrophic catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor,” an expansion of U.S. militarism would have been impossible.

In 2012, Patrick Clawson, member of the influential pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) think tank, also suggested that the United States should launch a staged provocation to start a war with Iran.

Ullman’s concern over failing state institutions having their influence eroded by empowered individuals, primarily via the Internet, is yet another sign that the elite is panicking over the “global political awakening” that has most recently expressed itself via the actions of people like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and their growing legion of supporters.

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Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

 This article was posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 at 6:09 am

 

Washington: The Illusion of Government. The Media: The Illusion of Coverage

26 Jan

January 21, 2014

 

In a paroxysm of patriotic musing, I reflected that Washington is an insular, incestuous, inward-looking city, chiefly interested in itself, so politically inbred as to be in danger of hemophilia, out of touch with reality, having remarkably little understanding of or interest in the rest of the country or the world. Isnl’t this wonderful?

Inbreeding? By comparison with the Yankee Capital, West Virginians are on the outer limits of hybrid vigor.  We had Bush I, a mediocrity but no worse, and later Bush II, in whom mediocrity would have been a welcome astonishment. We had Clinton the First, Bill, who was at least intelligent, then almost had Clinton II, who instead became Secretary of State, for which her only qualification was having been First Basilisk. Hillary lost the presidency to Barack Obama, whose only qualification was being black and reading a teleprompter well. Next we are likely to get Hillary anyway, and before that we almost had Kerry, whose only qualification was having married a pickle heiress. He is now Secretary of State, for no discernible reason.

So it goes in the national sandbox. Dynasty, nepotism, simony, a small self-absorbed ruling class of no particular merit awarding itself crucial jobs for reasons of keeping itself in power. How long will that work?  I have read that the Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist (sic) Party consists of eight engineers and an economist. We are ruled by a mob of provincial lawyers. Engineers make products. Lawyers make laws. Hmmmm.

The problem, sez me, or at any rate one problem, is that  democracy doesn’t scale well. When the proprietor of a hardware store in Falrmville or Barstow or East Bronchitis or wherever gets elected mayor, he may inadvertently do a good job since he actually knows his town and the people in it. But then he runs for national office and gets to be, say, a congressman or, God help us, moves into the Great Double-Wide on Pennsylvania Avenue. (It occasionally happens: We don’t always get rich twerps with private jets and twelve toes from always being in bed with each other.)

We thn have a negligible attorney who will stay in Congress forever,, who has never been in the military, presiding over an aggressive, nuclear-armed military that couldn’t win a bar fight against an octogenarian in a wheel chair. He is a mere over-promoted ward heeler, he and hundreds like him in the legislature, but makes industrial policy. He has—they have—perhaps never even been in a foreign country other than Arkansas, speak no language but English, but make foreign policy for…you see.

So how does the rest of the country know what its government is doing? It doesn’t. It can’t. The media constitute an almost impermeable shield between Washington and the outer reality festering beyond the Beltway. You’ve heard of synchronized swimming? Try synchronized thinking. It should be an Olympic sport, as everything else seems to be. America would dominate.

In Washington, journalism is founded on diversity. This is a good thing, the dangers of a homogeneous press corps being obvious. Thus in the newsroom of the Washington Post, for example, you find white reporters who all think the same things, black reporters who all think the same things as the white reporters, Jewish, Asian, gay, lesbian, Hispanic, and undecided reporters, who all think the same things. Diversity is their strength.

In fact all across America you see journalistic diversity. We have a wide diversity of newspapers, television stations, radio outlets, all owned by the same few corporations, which all have the same interests. Diversity is their strength too.

The principle characteristic of the media is that they don’t cover much of anything. They do cover themselves (which doesn’t contradict the foregoing statement). If some bubble-headed babble-blonde—I think there is one called Katie Couric—moves from one indistinguishable network to another, we hear about it for weeks. I once saw on television someone called Peers, or maybe Piers, Morgan, who displayed the incisive intelligence of a platypus. His ratings were said to be falling: maybe there is hope for the US public after all. Anyway, for some reason this was news, that and how Bill O’Reilly and several helmet-haired Republican women at Fox News are doing. The media are the story.

Reporters cover each other like Spandex pants, but—I’m serious, think about this— they barely glance at most of the government. When did you last see coverage of HUD? The Bureau of Indian Affairs? The Department of Transportation? FAA? EPA? We get the occasional press release from these, but little else. No one knows what lurks in the bureaucratic shadows, but I promise it costs a lot.

Actually there is very little coverage of things that get a lot of coverage: the White House, DoD, and State. At the White House everything is tightly stage-managed, and a reporter who asks awkward questions never gets called on again. At the Five-Sided Wind Tunnel, which I knew well in my days as an inmate of the press corps, A Story would occur. Maybe a weapon didn’t work, or was said not to work. So every reporter in Washington would frantically write about whatever it was:

Instead of lots of stories, it was one story lots of times. We see the same pattern with Obamacare  (an abortion that contains all other abortions: It sounds like set theory). Hundreds, nay, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of reporters write that it is hard to sign up. Wouldn’t one have been enough? How about some intelligent analysis from a software weenie who designs large programs?

What pours from Washington through the Electronic Wonderland of DC is a Bizarro World of things that don’t exist and aren’t as they are shown. For example, presidents don’t exist. What you see in Rose-Garden photo ops is a virtual-reality amalgam crafted by five pollsters, three speech-writers, several calculating back-room political strategists, an ad agency, a make-up artist and a gestures coach. The actual president is incidental. In fact, he is actually viewed as an impediment by his handlers, who think that the less known about him, the better. Note that the first thing they do is hide his scholastic record and SATs.

If you want something resembling an accurate picture of the government and its misbehavior, you can piece it together from the Guardian, Rolling Stone, Drudge, the Unz Review, and Antiwar.com. If you want actual government, it’s hopeless.  But Washington’s antics are at least interesting. You know, like watching the fingers fall off a leprosy patient.

 

The Best of Fred Reed

A Sunny Place for your Money

26 Jan

January 21, 2014

Grand Cayman: In 1503, when Christopher Columbus discovered this remote island group between Jamaica and Mexico’s Yucatan, its only inhabitants were crocodiles, turtles, iguana and insects. He named it Las Tortugas.

It didn’t take long for Tortugas to become the most notorious pirate’s lair of the West Indies from where they preyed on Spanish treasure fleets sailing from Panama to Cuba – the legendary sea route known as the Spanish Main.

Sir Francis Drake showed up here in 1586 leading a fleet of 23 privateers (government-sanctioned pirates) preying on Spanish merchantmen. Four years later, Tortuga became the British colony of Cayman and so it has remained ever since.

When I first visited Cayman in 1970, it had only 10,000 inhabitants. There was one modest hotel for skin divers, the Galleon Beach. Dense storm clouds of bloodthirsty mosquitos made it impossible to go out of the hotel after dusk. Anyone who did so without a DDT smoke pot would be eaten alive.

Two things happened to change Cayman from insect hell to the world’s second most important tax haven after Switzerland, and the fifth largest banking center.

First, an intense mosquito control campaign and swamp drainage killed most of the island’s insects. Second, the British Crown colony adopted a no tax policy and removed any restraints on the flow of funds.

The New York and London principals of the West Indies port, land and shipping group for which I was working at the time sent me to Cayman to open up banks. I chartered three, including my favorite brainchild, the German-Atlantic Bank.

Would that I had stayed in the banking business. My principals had remarkable foresight. Forty-four years later, Cayman hosts almost 300 banks, insurance firms of every type, and over 10,000 hedge funds managing some $36 billion in funds, as well as registries for ships and aircraft.

The population has grown to 56,000, nearly a third of whom are expatriate financial executives. The inflow of bank business has allowed life without personal taxes and a per capita income of $47,000, giving Cayman the highest living standard in the West Indies. Over 50% of government revenue comes from the finance industry.

With its azure waters, beautiful beaches, fine hotels, well-regarded restaurants, highly developed communications and public infrastructure, Cayman is a paradise for tourists and finance.

By contrast, tax collectors everywhere hate Cayman.

The island’s ultra discreet banks are awash with hot money, particularly from Russia. In fact, almost every major business deal in Russia is run through either Cayman, Switzerland, or Cyprus (though it’s gone bust). This island is a world center for legitimate business but also financial hanky-panky and shielding money from taxes, angry ex-wives and lawsuits.

What makes Cayman so attractive is that it remains a British colony, meaning no revolutions or coups by wild-eyed fanatics. The island offers still largely impenetrable secrecy and a safe place for money. And, to quote Somerset Maugham’s wonderful description of Monaco, “a sunny place for shady people.”

Like London, Cayman pretends to be pukka British and totally legit, but not far behind the scenes it’s as rollicking a pirate stronghold as Tortuga and Jamaica’s Port Royal in the days of the famed buccaneer, Henry Morgan. Except that today’s West Indies pirates are called bankers and hedge fund managers and wear striped shirts and suspenders instead of bandanas and eye patches. Cell phones have replaces cutlasses.

But Cayman, like other tax havens, is now under heavy fire from abroad. Last year, President Barack Obama singled out Cayman as a major financial malefactor. Revenue hungry governments across the globe are closing in on Cayman.

The European Union, of which Britain pretends on occasion to be a member, is beating the war drums over Cayman’s tax haven paradise, but Her Brittanic Majesty’s government refuses to extend EU law to Cayman. Some gestures to control the flow of hot money are being made, but Cayman remains open for business at a time when many other tax havens are being slowly shut down.

Cayman has been a brilliant success story. Columbus and Drake would be proud. What a pity Cayman’s model was not emulated by Jamaica, which is near national bankruptcy and suffering 50% unemployment.

 

The Best of Eric Margolis

A Cop’s “Job”: Kill Without Cause or Consequences

26 Jan

January 25, 2014

“What they decided … was that Officer Randall Kerrick did his job,” summarized his attorney, George Laughrun, after a grand jury in North Carolina refused to indict Kerrick for manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Ferrell. “Regretfully, it cost the life of Jonathan Ferrell. But he did his job.”

Some version of this formulaic response is uttered by cops, their superiors, or their attorneys anytime an officer is exonerated after an on-duty killing under dubious circumstances. In this case, the victim, an unarmed 24-year-old man with no criminal record, was shot ten times while he was asking the police for help.

At about 2:30 a.m. last September 14, Ferrell drove off an entrance road in a suburban neighborhood about 15 miles from Charlotte. (The coroner later found that his blood alcohol content was below the legal limit.) He went to a nearby home and knocked on the door in the hope of using a telephone. A woman inside the house, thinking that the large black man on her doorstep was trying to break into her home, called 911. After Kerrick and another officer responded, they found Ferrell walking on the street.

Rather than fleeing – as would be expected from a burglary suspect – Ferrell ran toward the officers, in the hope of enlisting their aid. The cops responded with lethal force – first shooting him with a Taser, and then opening fire. Kerrick fired twelve shots within the space of a few seconds, hitting the victim ten times. Ferrell died at the scene.

A few hours later, Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter and released on $50,000 bond. That decision provoked the passionate displeasure of police spokesman nation-wide.

“What [the decision to charge Kerrick] does is it shakes [the confidence of police officers] because, like it or not, most cops like to think their department has their back,” groused Randy Hagler, president of the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police.

Chief Daniel Trelka of the Waterloo, Iowa Police Department insisted that charging Kerrick undermined the all-important principle of Officer Safety, thereby placing at risk the incomparably precious lives of law enforcement officers: “My concern is we’re going to have an officer – any officer someplace in the country – hesitate when they are justified in taking action and lose their life.”

From that perspective, police are justified in killing someone whose only “suspicious” act was to ask them for help.

“Police are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and police officers are no exception,” added James Pasco Jr., the national executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). “You don’t check your civil rights at the station house door.”

Charging a police officer doesn’t negate the presumption of innocence. What Pasco may have in mind is a presumption of immunity. He likewise claims that in a police shooting “the most accurate information will come out over a period of time … 48 to 72 hours after the event.” He and other police “experts” criticized the decision to charge Merrick within 24 hours of the shooting, rather than allowing him an interval in which he could “decompress.”

This “cooling-off period” following a lethal force incident is one of the myriad privileges reserved for the punitive caste. If Kerrick had been a Mundane, the decision to file charges immediately would have been expected, rather than controversial. However, police who kill are generally granted a special dispensation in the form of the “cooling-off period” — and are are the beneficiaries of the “Garrity Rule.”

Adapted from the 1967 Supreme Court ruling Garrity v. New Jersey, the Garrity privilege is an enhancement of the right against self-incrimination: After an officer invokes that rule, any statements made thereafter can only be used for the purpose of a departmental investigation, not for criminal prosecution. This allows him time to huddle with police union attorneys in order to compose a suitably self-serving story that will conform to the undemanding requirements of investigators eager to exonerate the officer.

In the case of Officer Kerrick, the anxieties of police union officials proved to be unfounded. After a portion of the 18-member panel reviewed the case, the foreman handed the clerk of the court a handwritten note asking that the prosecutor “submit a bill of indictment to a lesser-included or related offense,” rather than voluntary manslaughter.

Kerrick’s attorney said that his client was “relieved that the grand jury members saw fit to keep an open mind and not listen to all the propaganda on all the things he did wrong.” A more plausible surmise is that the jurors, having been marinated in propaganda of the “uniforms that guard” variety (“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm,” and suchlike), had closed their minds to the possibility of holding a cop accountable to the laws everyone else must obey.

For those whose minds are not hostage to such assumptions, this case underscores the fact that the last person from whom we should seek help is someone clothed in the power of discretionary killing. Randall Kerrick’s “job,” according to his defense attorney, is to kill without hesitation, without legitimate cause, and without personal consequences. From the perspective of the State’s punitive caste and those who sustain them, the  unjustified death of a Mundane may be “regrettable,” but holding a police officer accountable for that crime would be unconscionable.

 

The Best of William Norman Grigg