Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, August 2006


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Obviously becoming more desperate given the ever-increasing degeneration of the situation in Iraq and the ever-increasing defections among previously pro-war and pro-occupation GOP congressional candidates, Vice President Dick Cheney has compared the Saddam Hussein regime and the “terrorists” in Iraq to the Adolf Hitler regime.

Unfortunately, Cheney misses an important point. In World War II, Germany was the aggressor nation and the U.S. was the defending nation while in the Iraq War the U.S. is the aggressor nation and Iraq is the defending nation.

Of course, Germany claimed to be the defending nation, given the terrorist attack on the German Reichstag and the purported attack by Polish troops on German troops at the Polish-German border, but everyone now knows that those excuses were fake and false.

While the U.S. used the terrorist attack on 9/11 and the purported imminent nuclear, biological, and chemical attack by Saddam Hussein on the U.S. as the excuse to attack Iraq, everyone now knows that those excuses were fake and false. Despite repeated attempts by Cheney, Bush, and other U.S. officials to convince Americans that Saddam and Osama were in a conspiracy to commit the 9/11 attacks, recent polls reflect that the American people are finally figuring out that they’re being lied to.

Even if one buys the administration’s claim that the WMD excuse was an honest mistake based on incorrect intelligence, their subsequent actions belie their claim. Once they confirmed that the WMD “threat” was nonexistent, they could have apologized for their mistake and ordered an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Instead they continued occupying the country, killing and maiming thousands more people, and doing their best to install a U.S.-approved regime — strong proof that it was regime change, not the WMD supposed threat or democracy-spreading or terrorism that motivated the invasion in the first place.

The simple truth is that Iraq never attacked the U.S. or threatened to do so and yet there are now tens of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqis and a destroyed, mayhem-ridden country. That makes the U.S. the aggressor nation and Iraq the defending nation in this conflict. A war of aggression was punished as a war crime at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. And at Nuremberg Nazi officials were rightfully prohibited from arguing at their trials that once their war of aggression was initiated, they had a right to defend themselves from the people in the invaded nations who were resisting their invasion with force.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Leftist commentators are lamenting and criticizing the Bush administration’s failure to “rebuild” New Orleans and are even comparing the failure to its failure to “rebuild” Iraq.

It is truly amazing to see that no matter how many times socialism fails, socialists never lose their hope that just one time socialism will finally succeed. And no matter the failure, they always have faith that if only “their” plan — or some other central plan — had been tried, the scheme would have worked.

And that’s what they’re saying about New Orleans. If only Bush had appointed a more competent person to oversee the rebuilding, all would be well today. If only Bush had sent more federal money sooner, all would be well today. If only there was not so much bureaucratic red tape, all would be well today.

That’s precisely the mindset that has guided liberals (in the corrupted, big-government, socialist sense of the term) ever since the New Deal era. No matter which socialist failure — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, etc. — it was all just a matter of having put the “wrong” people in charge and not throwing enough taxpayer money at the problem.

Attention, socialists: No matter how much taxpayer money had been spent in New Orleans, no matter which central plan had been adopted, no matter which bureaucrats had been put in charge, it still would have been a failure. Why? Because as we have learned all over the world, time and time again, socialism can never succeed because, as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek showed, socialism is inherently defective.

So, what would have been the best solution for New Orleans? The federal, state, and local governments should have adopted the following policies:

1.No government grants, subsidies, or loans.
2.Exempt all residents of New Orleans from federal, state, and local taxes.
3.Suspend all building regulations and permit requirements.
4.Suspend all controls on economic activity, including minimum-wage laws and occupational-licensure laws.

The implementation of those policies would have given rise to an immediate outburst of positive economic activity that would still be revitalizing New Orleans today. In fact, if those policies had been adopted, President Bush and other officials would not have to be begging people to move back to New Orleans because countless Americans would be rushing to move there.

But of course, liberals (and, well, for that matter, many conservatives) would hate that solution because it entails individual liberty, free markets, and limited government rather than collectivism, control and regulation, socialistic central planning, and omnipotent government.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Do you remember when statists were saying, “Microsoft is too big! It’s a monopoly! It’s got omnipotent power over the people. Computers are a necessity! Microsoft can set its own prices! The government needs to do something!”?

It’s also what they said about IBM, Alcoa, and many other big, successful companies.

By “do something” they meant, of course, that the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department should prosecute and break up Microsoft into several mini-Microsofts that could then compete against each other.

The economic analysis would be based on the standard Keynesian “perfect competition” claptrap that they still teach in many U.S. universities and colleges.

When libertarians responded that the law did not protect Microsoft from competition, as it does with the U.S. Postal monopoly, and therefore that other firms were free to enter the software market and compete, the statists would respond, “No, Microsoft is too big and powerful. No one else could ever compete at that level. The government needs to protect us from such power.”

Well, the New York Times is reporting that Google will be offering a new range of software consisting of email, calendar, and chat programs, which initially are being offered for free. It’s also developing spreadsheet and word process capabilities.

According to the Times, “These developments are bringing Google into even more direct competition with Microsoft.”

Oh, well, so much for the cries of the statists. What they don’t realize is that in an unhampered market economy, the only way that a company can become successful and stay successful is by satisfying customers. If it fails to do that, it loses market share to competitors. Sometimes companies at the top even go out of business.

And notice something else: Google is giving its products away for free initially not because it believes in charity. It’s giving it away out of self-interest—to get people to try its product and to stick with the product once Google starts charging for it. Both Google and Microsoft are classic instances of where companies that operate out of self-interest benefit mankind as a result of their efforts.

One of the best things the American people could do is leave economic activity free of government regulation, including antitrust laws.

Otherwise, we’re sure to hear the statists soon crying, “Google is too big and powerful! The government needs to prosecute!”

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Bush administration has signaled that it intends to round up another “coalition of the willing” to impose sanctions against Iran if the UN Security council votes to reject the U.S. request to impose sanctions on Iran. It’s the same thing it did when the Security Council refused to approve the U.S. attack on Iraq based on those infamous and nonexistent WMDs.

At the risk of asking an indelicate question, what’s the point of going through the charade of asking the UN to authorize an action if U.S. officials are going to do it anyway?

As the Russians are pointing out, sanctions and embargoes never achieve their intended result anyway.

For example, the more than a decade of sanctions against Iraq were intended to oust Saddam Hussein from power and replace him with a U.S. puppet. That failed, and yet the sanctions contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, which was among the motivating factors in the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The same holds true for the multi-decades of the cruel and brutal embargo against Cuba, whose aim has always been to oust Fidel Castro from power and replace him with another U.S. puppet. That aim obviously has failed and yet the embargo, together with Castro’s socialism, has operated as a vise that has squeezed the economic life out of the Cuban people.

While U.S. officials will undoubtedly sell their sanctions against Iran in the context of an imminent “mushroom-cloud emergency,” as they did with Saddam’s infamous and nonexistent WMDs, their aim will be the same as with Iraq and Cuba — to oust the anti-American regime in Iran and replace it with a pro-U.S. puppet, as they did in 1953 when they secretly ousted the elected prime minister of Iran and replaced him with a brutal U.S. puppet known as the Shah of Iran.

And make no mistake about it: If sanctions against Iran produce terrorist attacks or even war, U.S. officials won’t skip a beat in innocently and “patriotically” announcing to the American people, “They hate us for our freedom and values” and to U.S. troops, “You are killing and dying for freedom and democracy.”

Friday, August 25, 2006

There is some good news in the news. According to the New York Times, a recent poll reflects that a majority of Americans reject the federal government’s integration of the war on terrorism and the government’s war on Iraq.

The war on Iraq, as everyone knows, has killed tens of thousands of people—many more people than were killed on 9/11.

At the risk of being overly optimistic—and hopeful that Americans are thinking and reflecting about foreign policy—maybe a large number of the other half integrate the war on terrorism with the war on Iraq by rightfully noting that the war on Iraq has generated even more anger and hatred toward the U.S., which has led to the threat of more terrorism, which has led to more perpetual war on terrorism, which has led to the government’s suspending everyone’s freedom (i.e., indefinite detentions, warrantless searches, torture, signing statements, renditions, etc.), not to mention all the inconveniences (i.e., long lines at airports) that come with empire, intervention, wars of aggression, foreign aid, and wrongful occupations of foreign countries.

As every physician knows, in order to arrive at a correct prescription for an ailment, it is necessary to arrive at the right diagnosis of the problem. The same principle applies to ailments that afflict the body politic.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A controversy in Italy provides a valuable lesson for Americans. The Italian press is up in arms over a proposal to cut government subsidies to newspapers. Having become dependent on the dole, the newspapers say that there is no way they could ever survive without their dole.

It is just one more example of what happens when people become dependent on government monies — they lose their sense of self-reliance, independence, fortitude, and “can-do” spirit.

While Americans have not yet added newspapers to those receiving a dole from the U.S. government, many other sectors are on the dole — education, agriculture, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, import restrictions, etc.

Of course, the attitude of Americans on the dole in no different than that of the Italians: “Oh, if you take away our dole, we will die. Please do not take it away!”

Our ancestors had it right — no dole for anyone. True charity is private and voluntary. That is the key to a prosperous, charitable, self-reliant, and free society.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The British government, which partnered with the U.S. government to attack and occupy Iraq, has enacted a new law that arguably criminalizes speech that purports to celebrate the killing of occupation forces by insurgents in Iraq.

This is what goes for “freedom” in England, a country that attacks other countries in the name of “democracy and freedom.”

But pray tell: Why then do British officials still condemn the German people for supporting their government’s military victories in World War II? Weren’t Germans doing exactly what British officials expect their citizens to do – blindly take the side of their own government, right or wrong?

And why then do British officials purport to sympathize with German students Hans and Sophie Scholl, who had the temerity to oppose their own government’s war of aggression and even celebrate the military victories of Allied forces over German forces? Wouldn’t’ British officials have to concede that in their minds, Hans and Sophie Scholl were the no-good, unpatriotic criminals that German officials thought they were?

British officials have lost sight of what freedom of speech really means. The test of a free society is not whether speech that is approved by the government or the masses is protected but whether speech that is considered despicable is protected.

But of course, that might be asking too much of a nation that is keeping pace with the U.S. with its slide into statism and tyranny.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Over the weekend, I read a great new book that I highly recommend —Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power by Joseph Margulies.

Margulies, an attorney who was the lead counsel in the fairly recent Rasul case, where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Guantanamo detainees, carefully explains in regular, layman’s language all the complexities of the torture issue and why the issue is so important to the American people.

He builds a strong case showing how the torture and sex abuse at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram were the inevitable results of President Bush’s announcement that the Geneva Conventions would not apply to terrorist suspects.

One of the most alarming and disconcerting parts of the book is where Margulies shows how the techniques of mental torture that the North Koreans used in the Korean War against American GIs are now being employed by U.S. officials against the Guantanamo detainees.

Margulies shows how President Bush’s torture policy has placed American GIs in danger of being tortured by their enemies, which is why many military men have opposed the president’s decision. Most important, he shows how the U.S., which was once honored and respected for formally adhering to the prohibitions against torture has earned the ire and enmity of the world for having fallen into disgrace.

Monday, August 21, 2006

In an op-ed entitled “War on Daddy’s Dime,” Thomas L. Friedman says that the Iranian taxpayers are bunch of suckers because the government of Iran used taxpayer funds to help Hezbollah wage its war against Israel and rebuild the Lebanese people rebuild their homes and communities.

Friedman’s critique is a classic example of how a person who grows up in a dysfunctional national family spends his time criticizing the parents of others so as to avoid confronting his own family’s dysfunctionality.

Mr. Friedman, what about your own daddy—you know, the federal government, which takes care of the American child-adult with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, food, subsidies, drug laws, and housing with the tax monies the IRS plunders from the American taxpayer?

Pardon me for asking an uncomfortable question but doesn’t your daddy—the federal daddy—also provide military and financial aid to foreign regimes and foreign groups so that they can wage wars against others? And doesn’t it send U.S. taxpayer money into foreign lands to “rebuild” nations, including those it destroys?

After all, look at Iraq. Didn’t your daddy—the federal daddy—provide WMDs to Saddam Hussein so that he could kill Iranians with it? And didn’t he also invade Iraq and wage a war of aggression against it on the pretense that those same WMDs had not been destroyed? And isn’t he now using U.S. taxpayer money to “rebuild” the nation that it itself has destroyed under false pretenses?

Who’s the bigger sucker, Mr. Friedman? The dupe who knows he’s been duped but can do nothing about it or the dupe who won’t see he’s been duped because he’s too busy focusing on how everyone else’s daddy is duping them?

Friday, August 18, 2006

As our American ancestors so clearly understood, government is the greatest threat to the liberties of the American people, which is why they demanded the adoption of the Bill of Rights. It expressly protects the country from the federal government.

Our ancestors also understood that the time that such threat becomes greatest is during “crises” or “emergencies,” many of which are instigated by the government itself. They understood that it was during such times that the masses are most likely to become frightened and scared and prepared to willingly and eagerly surrender their rights and freedoms to the government in return for “security.”

Thus, not only did they enact the Bill of Rights, which reign supreme over congressional enactments and presidential decrees, they also established an independent judiciary to ensure that Congress and the president obeyed the Constitution, which oftentimes they do not do.

The wisdom and foresight of our ancestors has once again been confirmed with the U.S. district court decision yesterday that declared unconstitutional the NSA’s warrantless monitoring of peoples telephone calls, an action that has, not surprisingly, received the quiet acquiescence of Congress.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor stated,

“It was never the intent of the framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly when his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

She added, “There are no hereditary Kings in America.”

Not surprisingly, conservatives and neo-conservatives are angry and outraged over the decision, believing that the president should have omnipotent powers to wage his perpetual war on terrorism, a war that their own foreign policies have, by the way, engendered.

Ever since 9/11, libertarians have led the way in the defense of civil liberties, fighting hard to defend the rights and freedoms that are protected by one of the greatest documents in history—the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

It is gratifying to see the federal judiciary standing squarely with the libertarian position on many of the civil liberties decisions.

The conservatives and neo-conservatives, however, aren’t going to stop in their ever-constant assaults on civil liberties. Our educational task as libertarians is more important than ever.

In this regard, don’t forget to mark your calendars for June 1-4, 2007, for what will be one of the most important conferences in the history of the libertarian movement: “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy and Civil Liberties” in Reston, Virginia.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

An article about Venezuela and the U.S. in yesterday’s New York Times holds a valuable lesson for Americans.

As most everyone knows, President Bush and Venezuelan President Chavez do not like each other. President Bush doesn’t like the fact that Chavez is acting independently of U.S. wishes, and Chavez doesn’t like the fact that President Bush invaded Iraq. Also, Chavez is personal friends with Fidel Castro, whom Bush despises.

Yet, despite this personal animosity between these two rulers, trade between Venezuela and the U.S. is soaring, not only with respect to oil but also many products and services. In fact, in the capital city of Caracas, “the pervasive presence of American brands and advertising for American products stands in contrast to the colorful murals heroically depicting Mr. Chavez and Simon Bolivar, and billboards emblazoned with slogans taunting President Bush. (One reads: ‘Mister Danger, Let Us Make Love and Not War’).”

What gives?

It’s what libertarians have been saying for decades. Trade produces friendships and interdependencies between the peoples of different nations, which diminish popular support for war instigated by the rulers of such nations.

Thus, the worst thing Americans could ever do is permit President Bush and his Congress to restrict or prohibit trade between Americans and Venezuelans, as they have with Cuba.

In fact, it was a disaster when the American people permitted their government officials to remove their freedom to travel to Cuba and trade with the Cuban people. Such inter-relationships — tourism, trade, cultural exchanges, etc. — would have contributed to a strong, vibrant, wealthier private sector that could have served as a counterbalance to the government, as it does here in the U.S. Instead, by taking away the economic freedom of the American people, the U.S. government contributed to the horrific impoverishment of the Cuban people (which motivates many of them to emigrate) and also gave Fidel a convenient scapegoat for the dismal results of his socialist system.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Conservatives, neo-conservatives, and liberals are taking our nation down the wrong road — the road to statism, socialism, empire, and intervention. The solution to our nation’s woes lies with libertarianism — that is, with the restoration of economic liberty, free trade, and a limited-government republic.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

President Bush announced yesterday that the war on terror will have to last for several more years.

Well, of course it will. How else could U.S. officials continue justifying ever-growing big-government budgets, especially for the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex? No one, not even the most ardent neocon, can deny that “the war on terrorism” is a bigger bonanza for big government than the 30-year war on drugs. Hey, terrorists are even more frightening than communists, and don’t forget that the Cold War lasted 45 years.

The president said that the U.S. was engaged “in a war against a extremist group of folks, bound together by an ideology, willing to use terrorism to achieve their objectives.”

Meanwhile, in Lebanon Dr. Abdel Manaim Mansour, who was returning to his home with his wife and who the New York Times described as an “elegantly dressed couple,” angrily said, “We will kill every American for this.” A Lebanese bank clerk named Hassan Nasrallah said, “We are not against the American people, we are against American foreign policy.” Majid Kubaisy, surveying the damage in his sportswear shop, said, “Bush did this.” Rahih al-Tiwwi, a volunteer distributing refugee packages said, “Why does your government give bombs away to Israel?”


Oh, well, just a few more ordinary ideology-driven, Islamo terrorists for U.S. forces to kill who now hate America for its “freedom and values,” not U.S. foreign policy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not surprisingly, President Bush is continuing to do whatever he can to centralize power within the federal government. Apparently it’s not enough for the president to now wield the power to have the military arrest, jail, and punish Americans without due process of law and jury trials. Or the unilateral power to send the entire nation into war without a congressional declaration of war. Or the power to monitor people’s phone calls and email without warrants. Or the power to establish secret Soviet-era torture centers. Or even the power to federalize the National Guard in the event of a terrorist attack.

No, all that is still not enough. The president is getting his Congress to enact legislation to give him authority to federalize the National Guard in the event of a natural disaster, such as a flood or a hurricane or tornado. Maybe even a drought.

There is some good news to report, however. It seems that the nation’s governors are not behaving in the same sheep-like manner that the members of Congress have become renowned for since 9/11.

According to the Washington Post, all 50 governors plus the governor of Puerto Rico have joined together to express their strong opposition to the proposed legislation. They even cited the Constitution in their letter of opposition to congressional leaders.

Maybe the governors ought to remind President Bush that some 170 years ago, a strong devotion to federalism motivated a group of Mexican citizens living in a northern province of Mexico called Texas to resist the centralization of power by their president, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Isn’t it fascinating to see how the Bush administration’s primary justification for attacking and invading Iraq has morphed over time?

The initial primary justification for the attack was the U.S. government’s claim that Saddam Hussein was about to unleash WMDs on the United States. That’s the one that frightened most Americans into supporting the war.

Then, when those WMDS didn’t materialize, U.S. officials shifted their primary rationale to “democracy-spreading,” claiming that their love and concern for the Iraqi people had motivated the invasion and subsequent occupation.

Then, when Iraq began degenerating into an endless cycle of violence, chaos, and mayhem, U.S. officials once again shifted their primary rationale for invading and occupying Iraq to the “global war on terrorism.”

And now, we have the newest primary rationale — to stop the Islamo-fascists from conquering the Middle East and then moving onto Spain and the rest of Europe and then the Western Hemisphere (sort of like the communists were going to do if the U.S. exited Vietnam).

Come to think about it, if the Islamo-fascist threat of conquering the world has been ongoing for centuries, then why is it that we never heard about it during the many decades of the Cold War? My recollection was that the official threat during that time, which was used to justify the ever-growing budgets of the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex, was “the communist threat.”

In fact, when the Berlin Wall came down and U.S. officials were desperately looking for a new official enemy, I don’t recall anyone mentioning a new official enemy called Islamo-fascists. The big mission U.S. officials were proposing for the Pentagon post-Cold War was twofold: to fight the drug war and to promote American business abroad.

But when you think about it, Islamo-fascism is an even better official enemy than communists and terrorists. Why, it sure sounds scarier than communism, Saddam, Osama, terrorism, or drug dealers! And given that Islam has been around a lot longer than all those other scary things, doesn’t it sound more ominous too? What better way than Islamo-fascism to justify an ever-growing warfare/garrison state, an ever-growing military-industrial complex, an ever-growing big government, an ever-growing threat of military attacks on countries that haven’t attacked the U.S., an ever-growing federal budget, ever-growing assaults on civil liberties, and an ever-growing perpetual war to achieve perpetual peace?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Those U.S. officials who continue to maintain that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has brought “freedom” to the Iraqi people might be feeling a bit uncomfortable as a result of an article that appeared in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.

The article points out,

“The Iraqi exiles entering America are part of one of the largest exoduses in modern Middle Eastern history. The Iraqi government has over the past 12 months issued more than 1.8 million new passports, a figure that corresponds with nearly 10% of the country’s population. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are more than 800,000 Iraqi exiles in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Why should that make U.S. officials uncomfortable?

Well, if Iraq is as free as U.S. officials say it is, especially because of the numerous post-invasion, U.S.-supervised “democratic” elections in Iraq, then why are Iraqis trying to flee their own country en masse? It would seem to me that such an exodus raises serious doubts about U.S. government claims that its invasion and occupation have brought freedom to Iraq. After all, why would people try to flee freedom?

The irony is that the Iraqis immigrants to the U.S. are actually requesting political asylum from the U.S. government based on the danger they face in their home country, which the U.S. government is still occupying.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Those who continue to maintain that the U.S. military’s torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan involves nothing more than a few “bad apples” among low-level military personnel — and that the Pentagon has not whitewashed, covered-up, or looked the other way — might want to read the following article that recently appeared in the Los Angeles Times: “Civilian Killings Went Unpublished.”

The article is a long expose of horrific war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Vietnam with the full knowledge and approval of U.S. officers, with the higher brass whitewashing, covering up, or looking the other way. It is an article that will surely turn your stomach.

The article was based on secret military files that had been declassified pursuant to legal requirements and put into archives where they were largely forgotten, until two reporters from the LA Times discovered them.

The 9,000-page files reveal widespread rapes, individual murders, and massacres of entire groups of civilians in Vietnam. Yes, many more than the massacre at My Lai.

According to the article, “The records describe recurrent attacks on ordinary Vietnamese — families in their homes, farmers in rice paddies, teenagers out fishing. Hundreds of soldiers, in interviews with investigators and letters to commanders, described a violent minority who murdered, raped and tortured with impunity. Abuses were not confined to a few rogue units, a Times review of the files found. They were uncovered in every Army division that operated in Vietnam.”

When prosecutions did take place, the punishments ultimately levied were light. According to the article, “The stiffest sentence went to a military intelligence interrogator convicted of committing indecent acts on a 13-year-old girl in an interrogation hut in 1967. He served seven months of a 20-year term, the records show.”

“’Top Army brass should have demanded a tougher response,’ says retired Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, who oversaw the task force as a brigadier general at the Pentagon in the early 1970s. ‘We could have court-martialed them but didn’t,’ Gard says of soldiers accused of war crimes. ‘The whole thing is terribly disturbing.’”

Equally disturbing, however, has been the reaction of current U.S. officials. The Times articles states: “The Times examined most of the files and obtained copies of about 3,000 pages — about a third of the total — before government officials removed them from the public shelves, saying they contained personal information that was exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.”

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

The New York Times reports,

“Pro-Beijing lawmakers [in Hong Kong] approved legislation here today giving broad authority to the police to conduct covert surveillance, including wiretapping phones, bugging homes and offices and monitoring e-mail.”

That such policies are being embraced by pro-communist Chinese lawmakers is, of course, not necessarily conclusive proof that they are bad.

But shouldn’t this at least make Americans pause and reflect, given that officials in their government — the federal government — are embracing the same policies as lawmakers in one of the most brutal and tyrannical regimes in history?

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Everyone has his favorite stories about America’s favorite monopoly—the U.S. Postal Service. Here’s one that I was able to add to my collection this past Sunday.

I drove to the postal station near my home on Sunday to deposit some letters that I wanted to be sent out first thing on Monday morning.

There was one of those postal boxes that enable a driver to reach out and deposit his mail from his car.

But there was one problem. The opening to the box was facing the postal station, not the street. So, in order to deposit my mail, I had to get out of my car, walk around the box, and drop in the mail.

I guess they thought it was more important to service the customers coming out of the postal station than those who were in their cars.

To add insult to injury, the notice on the box announced: “Next pickup Monday through Friday: 5 p.m. I guess it would be asking too much for them to come outside to retrieve the mail before 5 in the afternoon on Monday.

Have you ever noticed that those who rail against the “bigness” of Wal-Mart, Microsoft, IBM, Toyota, or other businesses whose success depends on satisfying customers better than their competitors never issue a peep of protest against a genuine monopoly that is protected from competition in the delivery of first-class mail by the force of the government and whose “success” depends on satisfying the members of Congress rather than its own customers?

Monday, August 7, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has a message for the Cuban people in view of the recent illness of Cuba President Fidel Castro: “We encourage the Cuban people to work at home for positive change, and we stand ready to provide you with humanitarian assistance as you begin to chart a new course for your country.”

Here is the translation of Rice’s statement from bureaucratese into English:

“When Castro dies, we, the U.S. government, will help you, the Cuban people, to achieve freedom and democracy, just as we have helped the Iraqi people to do so. We stand ready to have U.S. military forces invade and occupy Cuba, even if it means killing and maiming tens of thousands of Cuban people and destroying your country, just as we have done in Iraq.”

“The price in terms of death, injuries, and destruction will be ‘worth it,’ just as our sanctions against Iraq, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, and our sanctions against Cuba, which contributed the misery of countless Cuban people, have been ‘worth it.’”

“Lest any of you have the bright idea of escaping your communist-socialist hellhole, don’t even think about emigrating to the United States. We love you … but not that much. We do not want you living near us. Just stay where you are. Our bombs, missiles, bullets, death, destruction, intervention, troops, and empire will come to you. If you do try to escape, we will do what we have been doing for the past many years — attack you on the high seas, kidnap you, and forcibly repatriate you into the communist-socialist hellhole from which you came and which our embargo helped to create.”

“One more thing. Don’t concern yourselves about the further destruction of your country that our assistance will bring about. As long as you install someone in power that meets with our approval, we stand ready to rebuild your nation. As you may have heard, we are experts in rebuilding nations that we destroy. Just ask the Iraqis.”

Friday, August 4, 2006

With the testimony before Congress yesterday of the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. John P. Abizaid, that the country is moving closer into sliding into full-scale civil war, the probability of a withdrawal from that country becomes larger despite the official position, repeated by Abizaid, that it is necessary to continue the occupation.

Add to the possibility of civil war the continued demoralization among the troops. As Steven Green, one of the American soldiers charged with rape of a young Iraqi girl and the murder of her and her family, put it: “See, this war is different from all the ones that our fathers and grandfathers fought. Those wars were for something. This war is for nothing.”

Add to that the ever-increasing reports of war crimes committed by U.S. troops along with the ever-growing Pentagon whitewashes and cover-ups.

Add to that the ever-growing number of pro-war advocates who are repenting their initial support of the invasion.

Add to that the ever-decreasing number of people ardently calling for the continuation of the occupation.

Add to that the hundreds of thousands of “liberated” Iraqis marching through the streets of Baghdad today chanting “Death to Israel. Death to America.”

In fact, I doubt whether there’s anyone left who really believes, in his heart of hearts, that the invasion, occupation, tens of thousands of dead and maimed, and destruction of Iraq are going to produce an oasis of freedom in the Middle East. Most of the pro-war, pro-occupation people are standing aside stunned at the ever-increasing violence, brutality, chaos, and conflict and are simply left hoping for a miracle that will permit U.S. government officials to “save face.”

In the event of a forced withdrawal from Iraq, either suddenly or gradually, libertarians must be prepared to raise the level of debate in our nation. We cannot let the discussion settle on Iraq alone. It is up to us libertarians to raise the bar higher — to dismantling the entire U.S. overseas empire, bringing all the troops home and discharging them into the private sector, dismantling the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about, abolishing all foreign aid, sanctions, and embargoes, and restoring a limited-government, constitutional republic to our land.

That’s the idea behind our conference next June 1-4 in Reston, Va.: “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy and Civil Liberties.” We are currently in the process of lining up our speakers. This is one conference you will not want to miss — guaranteed!

Thursday, August 3, 2006

The Iraqi people are developing a serious distrust of government but not for the reasons one would hope—that government itself constitutes the biggest threat to the freedom of the citizenry (a point reflected by our own Bill of Rights).

It seems that among the most dangerous people in Iraqi society are the ones who wear government uniforms. This was evidenced this week when camouflaged Iraqi commandos kidnapped 20 people in Baghdad. No one knows if they were official government employees or not.

According to the New York Times, “Everywhere Iraqis in uniform go, from ice cream shops to checkpoints, people now flee.” With good reason. One Iraqi, Omar al-Jabouri, “has been collecting stories of atrocities committed by uniformed Iraqis. In a recent interview, he produced a book of case studies with color photographs showing gruesome evidence of torture and killings by men in uniform: a sheik with a power drill driven into his temple; 14 laborers abducted from a checkpoint in Baghdad and killed; dozens of men beaten, burned with acid and shot.”

Amidst all the kidnappings, maiming, chaos, death, suicide bombers, and destruction in Iraq, among the saddest aspects of all this is that there are still federal officials, including members of Congress, who honestly believe that the U.S. invasion has brought freedom to the Iraqi people. Perhaps deep down, such officials know that it’s all a lie (just like those infamous WMDs that the feds used to scare people into supporting the invasion), which is perhaps best reflected by the fact that not one single pro-war or pro-occupation politician or bureaucrat is spending his summer vacation touring Iraq.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Oh, no! Pity the poor Cuban people. First, they have to suffer decades of misery being squeezed by the vise of Castro’s socialism and the U.S. government’s brutal embargo. And now, faced with the prospect of Castro’s dying, they’re now going to have to bear more U.S. government intervention to “spread democracy” to Cuba.

According to the New York Times, “After waiting nearly half a century for Fidel Castro to relinquish power, Washington is warily monitoring the provisional transition in Havana, confident it has plans in place to assist pro-democracy groups in Cuba and to head off any mass exodus from the island.”

In other words, unable to resist their 108-year compulsion to control Cuba and the Cuban people, federal officials are champing at the bit to start interfering in Cuban affairs once again,

“The one thing that this president has talked about from the very beginning is his hope for the Cuban people finally to enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy,” announced White House spokesman Tony Snow.

So, what exactly do the feds mean by “democracy and freedom”? Well, undoubtedly it will be modeled after the new “democracy and freedom” that now pervades the U.S. and Iraq: where the ruler and his military have the unlimited power to arrest, jail, and punish the citizenry without due process of law and jury trials; the power to torture prisoners and detainees; the power of the ruler to send the nation into war without legislative approval; the power to execute foreigners after trials before kangaroo military tribunals; and the power to establish government-provided Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, income taxation, economic regulations, gun control, and public schooling.

Hey, wait a minute! Does that type of federal-Pentagon, Iraqi-type “freedom and democracy” already exist in Cuba—on both the American side and the Castro side?

The best gift that the American people could ever give the Cubans (and themselves) is to require the U.S. government to completely lift the brutal embargo our government has enforced against the Cuban people for 50 years and, equally important, to require the U.S. government to butt out of Cuban affairs once and for all.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

It must be campaign season. Following standard campaign custom in the United States (as well as Latin America), U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton is reaching out to rural voters in upstate New York with … you guessed it … free federal candy! She says that she wants to revitalize the agricultural sector by increasing federal subsidies.


Just more standard liberal (or conservative) vote-buying claptrap during election time. Of course, it’s not considered bribery in a legal sense because in the United States it’s legal for federal politicians, especially incumbents, to offer U.S. taxpayer subsidies during campaign season in the hopes of acquiring their votes in return.

Of course, Clinton didn’t talk about where the money for the free federal candy comes from. The New York audiences to which she speaks form the impression in their minds that the money will come from other people, just as the people in every other state, where the same thing happens, form the exact same impression.

The fact is that the free federal candy that Clinton is offering during her campaign for reelection comes from all U.S. taxpayers, compliments of the IRS. The loot is then put at the disposal of Congress, whose members then divvy it up among themselves. Then, each incumbent hits the road during reelection season proudly declaring, “I’m an effective congressman. I’m bringing you free federal candy. It won’t cost you a dime. Vote for me. Reelect me.”

Frederic Bastiat put it best: The government has become the great fiction by which everyone is trying to live at the expense of everything else — while doing his best to protect himself from the IRS — while remaining convinced that it’s all “free enterprise.”

How long will the American people continue to fall for this vote-buying scam? How long will they continue to let themselves be fleeced by federal politicians and bureaucrats who will stop at nothing to maintain their grip on their lives and pocketbooks?

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.