Mar 022015
 

As Paul Gottfried mentioned, there seemed to have been a lot of talk about “American Exceptionalism” at the 2015 meeting of the Orwellian CPAC, the allegedly “Conservative” Political Action Conference. I have made plenty of comments on this notion of American exceptionalism, and especially in this article from last July that I will repost here.

Are You a True Believer?

July 9, 2014

There seem to be a lot of true believers out there, those nationalists who believe in “American Exceptionalism” and that America is or should be “superior” to other places or countries.

But because of the claim of being “exceptional,” or in fact divinely chosen as some people have suggested of America, the bottom line for the American Exceptionalism ideology has become its promotion of the authoritarianism and collectivism of the centralized State while actually opposing the very philosophies and principles upon which America was founded: individualism, independence, free markets and private property.

But I really believe there are now many disillusioned believers in American Exceptionalism who may very well be starting to question such an Exceptionalism ideology. And they are the people who would benefit the most from Lew Rockwell’s new bookAgainst the State: An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto.

In truth, the American Exceptionalism ideology is a rejection of equality under the law, and a rejection of the Golden Rule. After all, what has made America “exceptional” has been more than anything the promotion of the U.S. government having the power to invade and occupy other countries while never allowing other countries’ governments to occupy America’s territory with military bases and other foreign governmental apparatus.

It is as though the Exceptionalism believers think that Americans have some supreme right as a collective population and a single political unit to claim possession of or authority over foreign territories in the absence of voluntary contracts and peaceful agreements.

Millions of people seem to believe these myths and old wives tales, a result of cultural and government school brainwashing, in my view.

As libertarians, private property advocates and non-interventionists have argued, one reason it is almost impossible to get so many people to question such an ideology of moral relativism is that the Exceptionalists have accumulated much emotional investment in feeling they are superior to foreigners.

And I’m sure that many emotional people will shed tears when viewing Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie, America: Imagine the World Without Her.

But do the true believers ever notice any fallacies in their belief in “Exceptionalism”? For instance, some people claim that the United States of America is “supreme” over other nations, and America is “#1″ and so on. Yet, economic prosperity in America has plummeted thanks to the wars overseas and the unwinnable and Orwellian “war on terror,” the fascist regulations and bureaucratic intrusions into private labor and employment contracts, and now the monstrous Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare laws. The U.S. has dropped to #17 in the 2013 Economic Freedom of the World annual report.

The U.S. used to be #1 in the education category, but America’s educational ranking has also declined since the imposition of the federal Department of Education, now at 27 out of 34 countries in the 2012 OECD International Student Assessment. Common Core can only make things worse, no?

America’s global Press Freedom ranking has also severely declined to #46, according to Reporters Without Borders. Thanks to not just Bush and Obama but all the little sheeple in Congress cheering on the Patriot Act and all their other fascist restrictions in the “land of the free.”

So, what happened to “#1″? It seems that America is not so “supreme” or “exceptional,” is it?

Nevertheless, the true believers still have faith. Faith in the government, that is, regardless how incompetent, dangerous and criminal the agents and bureaucrats of the State have been.

Could these true believers be a part of what Eric Hoffer had in mind when he wrote his book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements? Who knows?

And there are those true believers in war, those who believe in the concept of war in the rationalized collective sense that people have been indoctrinated with since their earliest days. But war as we have known it in modern times really has not been what the Rulers say it is. “War” really is an excuse for government bureaucrats and their politically connected cronies to order the commission of criminal acts of physical aggression, murder, assault, destruction of property and theft of wealth against people in other territories. The term “war” is used to emotionally manipulate the masses to support such criminality and destruction, and their own enslavement in funding and laboring on behalf of the criminals.

Sadly, the true believers in the myth of “war” continue to show their blind faith in the pretense, and their obedience to the criminals who rule over them. The post-9/11 hysteria is a good example.

In reality, the 9/11 terrorists didn’t commit an “act of war,” as suggested by the U.S. government, they committed criminal acts. But so did those who ordered the aggressions against and destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan in response to those criminal acts — those also were criminal aggressions, rationalized as “wars.”

But to this day, many Americans are still true believers in the collectivists and statists’ official story of war and they blindly “support the troops,” especially with the emotionalism that has surrounded 9/11 since that day.

At the time of 9/11, many Americans did not consider the possibility that their Rulers were merely exploiting a crisis for the sake of expanded political power, expanded police power, and expanded confiscation of private wealth of the working and productive class. And no wonder America’s news media have such a low ranking, given that so many of the “journalists” merely repeated everything that government bureaucrats told them. No challenging of the bureaucrats’ assertions, hardly any actual objective investigating seemed to occur.

Within hours or even minutes after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, immediately the politicians in charge, the pundits and MSM stenographers knew that the responsible culprits were Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. And the Bush Administration and their spokespeople in the media repeatedly and ad nauseam declared, “Muslims” and “Iraq,” but not “Saudi  Arabia” or other factors which were later whitewashed by the 9/11 Commission. And they certainly didn’t provide any historical review of the previous 10 years, the 1991 U.S. government war on Iraq and subsequent bombings, sanctions and no-fly zones that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians by the year 2000. Warnings throughout the 1990s of possible future terrorist attacks in America were declared by sensible people who understand cause and effect. And post-9/11 the subsequent wars and domestic police state were also easily predicted. Those who brought up the facts of history were called un-American, unpatriotic, heretics.

And typical of government bureaucrats, instead of ending terrible policies which caused the blowback of 9/11, they doubled down. And they got their support from the true believers thanks to relentless propaganda from the low-ranking mainstream media.

But I wonder if the true believers could ever consider the possibility that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were already being planned before 9/11, went forward despite unreliable intelligence, that there was no evidence  linking Osama bin Laden to those terrorist attacks (but there was evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the CIA), that bin Laden denied involvement in 9/11, and in fact prior to 9/11 the FBI were told by the Bush Administration to lay off the bin Laden family and Saudi connections to terrorism. And also we later learned that the Bush-Feith neocons weren’t really interested in al-Qaeda but in “regime change” throughout the Middle East and Asia. And it’s even possible that the “underwear bomber” was helped by the FBI to board flight 253 to Detroit with a visa the U.S. government had ordered not to be revoked despite his known ties to terrorism.

If you’re a true believer in the government and media stenographers’ official narratives of these various stories, then you probably also believed the government’s tales about Osama bin Laden being killed in 2011 despite witnesses claiming otherwise, and even though he probably had already died in 2001 or 2002. By 2001 he had already been suffering from kidney disease among other ailments. This LRC article notes how Osama bin Laden looked younger and younger in videos subsequent to 9/11 and how with all those ailments he couldn’t possibly have survived much after 2001. This 2002 CBS News report describes Osama bin Laden receiving kidney dialysis treatment in Pakistan the day before the 9/11 attacks, and this Guardian article states that he received treatment at a Dubai hospital two months earlier. And this article explains the U.S. government’s history of presenting fake Osama bin Laden tapes.

Well, we would rather not believe that our own government would lie to us and make things up. While it wasn’t revealed until 1997, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962 had proposed Operation Northwoods, in which the Joint Chiefs wanted terrorist attacks to be committed by U.S. government agents disguised as Cubans. That proposal was obviously rejected by President John F. Kennedy.

While that proposal did not go forward, the U.S. government nevertheless has a notorious track record of deceit and wars for political gain.

President Lyndon Johnson and his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara used the Gulf of Tonkin incident to lie the American people into supporting sending American soldiers to die in the Vietnam War, and the Pentagon Papers showed that later on the U.S. government continued with the war anyway even though its officials believed the war to be unwinnable.

After the Vietnam War there was Watergate, and only a few years later President Ronald Reagan was secretly negotiating with terrorists and selling arms to Iran.

After the 1970s and ’80s, how could the American people have believed anything their “leaders” told them? After the Iran-Contra wheeling-and-dealing scandal, President George H.W. Bush started another war for no good reason, in Iraq in 1991,saying, “This will not be ‘another Vietnam’.”

Despite all that, the American Exceptionalism true believers would still rather not believe that our ruling bureaucrats would intentionally commit acts of aggression in other countries to provoke foreigners to rationalize further expanding the bureaucrats’ reach across our borders, and to rationalize their parasitic expansion of the State at the expense of the productive class.

Now, either the true believers in American Exceptionalism believe that America is “exceptional” the more centralized government power is projected from Washington — and look where that’s gotten us! — or they believe that America is exceptional by promoting life and liberty and setting an example of moral principles for others to follow. Now is the time to choose.

So as Lew Rockwell has shown in his book, Against the State: An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto, the State — or at least the central planning regime in Washington — can’t be reformed and instead must be dismantled. And the sooner the better.

This appeared on LewRockwell.com on July 9, 2014.

creativecommons.org

Feb 282015
 

The “Conservative” Political Action Conference a.k.a. CPAC is really out of control now, with this Gen. Michael Hayden, former U.S. government spy chief asserting that he is a “libertarian” like his debate counterpart Judge Napolitano.

Give. Me. A. Break.

Hayden’s describing himself as “libertarian” is like the others at this conference describing themselves as “conservatives.” As Jacob Hornberger noted recently, conservatives, whose slogans are often mixed with the phrases, “individual liberty, free enterprise, private property, and limited government,” do not seem to actually believe in any of those principles. As Hornberger points out, conservatives by and large believe in those principles except in these areas:

1. Retirement (Social Security).

2. Healthcare (Medicare, Medicaid, regulation, and licensure).

3. Education (public schooling, charter schools, licensed private schools, vouchers …)

4. Farm subsidies.

5. Economic activity (economic regulations).

6. Monopolies (Postal Service).

7. Foreign aid (including to foreign dictatorships, such as Egypt).

8. Corporate bailouts.

9. Monetary policy (Federal Reserve System, FDIC, fiat money, banking regulations).

10. Drug laws.

11. Immigration controls.

12. Trade restrictions.

13. Sanctions and embargoes.

14. Permanent standing military establishment.

15. Overseas empire of military bases.

16. National-security state.

17. Foreign interventionism.

18. Regime-change operations.

19. Secret surveillance.

20. Indefinite detention without trial.

21. Secret prisons.

In other words, conservatives are really progressives but with a different social agenda. But they all agree that the government should seize private income and wealth from the workers and producers of society involuntarily and redistribute it as they see fit (but mainly enrich themselves with the loot, as most of what is stolen from innocent Americans is used to fund the bureaucrats’ own extravagances). But they are all statists, though, not really conservatives.

And to think that someone who endorses and engages in state-sponsored eavesdropping, wiretapping, spying and snooping on his own fellow Americans without probable cause, without suspicion, could call himself a “libertarian” shows just how Orwellian these people are.

Speaking of enriching themselves via taxpayer-funded redistribution schemes and the “defense” racket, Gen. Michael Hayden himself is now benefiting from that aforementioned government largess. As Lee Fang wrote in his article on the Hayden-CPAC laugh-fest,

Hayden is a principal with the Chertoff Group, a consulting firm for the multi-billion dollar cyber security and intelligence industry. He is also on the board of Alion Science and Technology, a military contractor that does intelligence and techical work. For that part-time gig he has been paid approximately $336,500 over the last four years, according to reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As I wrote in my 2010 article,  our current system of military and security socialism and fascism is what has enabled the government’s protection racket bureaucrats, consultants and contractors to exploit and profit from such a monopoly structure and exploit and profit from the people’s anguish over security.

And Rand Paul says that “ISIS is a ‘dangerous and barbaric cult’.” Does he really believe that? He wants to sacrifice MORE U.S. troops to go fight a losing war against crazy extremists, and on the extremists’ own turf, no less? How’d that work out in Iraq? Or Afghanistan? Talk about an impossible task.

If you’re someone who really believes these people, these bureaucrats and shysters (sorry for the redundancy) who say this, that or the other thing to provoke people’s emotions and to get votes, then you need to open your mind to new ways of thinking, and then you’ll see the monopoly State as the criminal racket for what it really is. Read Rothbard and Rockwell, and Hoppe to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

Rand Paul says that ISIS is a “dangerous and barbaric cult,” yet he himself is a member of the legislative branch of the U.S. government, an even more dangerous and barbaric cult than ISIS, responsible for the murders of millions of innocent human beings, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Japan and Vietnam and all points between, and a cult that commits crimes on a daily basis against its own people, of murder, theft, harassment, terrorism, invasions of security and privacy, you name it.

As Larken Rose put it, the “most dangerous superstition” is the people’s blind faith in this thing called government, or the State. Regardless how destructive and criminal the agents of the government have been to their own country, the people nevertheless maintain a blind faith in such a system of self-destruction. And I happen to think that such a blind faith is worse now than ever before, given the general decline of America, the way the American people uncritically and unthinkingly believe the government’s media stenographers, and given the cultural depravity as seen in the popularity of propaganda films such as American Sniper and Zero Dark Thirty.

So CPAC gives us Michael Hayden and Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry. On the other side of the statist coin we have Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. And . . . Let’s call the whole thing off. (Election 2016, that is.)

The idea of a “political action” conference is a bad idea, anyway, as political action involves the use of force, coercion and aggression.

How about a “voluntary action” conference? Now, that’s a good idea.

Police State and More

 Posted by at 11:20 am
Feb 262015
 

John Whitehead discusses warrantless forced blood draws, DNA collection and biometric scans without probable cause. Police committing these crimes against innocent people do not seem to understand the constitution they swore an oath to obey.

James Bovard on the death of a hero Mike McNulty who uncovered many details of the disaster now known as the Janet Waco. Good primer on the whole Waco siege.

Murtaza Hussain analyzes how the FBI’s foiling its own terror plot involved a paid informant.

Kurt Nimmo on another dubious round of terrorist wannabes arrested by the FBI and how the feds’ “ISIS in all 50 states” claim is for a strengthened surveillance police state.

Trevor Timm says that if Obama wants to work with telecom companies, he should stop hacking them.

Jeff Deist says that secession begins at home.

Ryan McMaken on the Net Neutrality scam.

And Robert Wenzel’s refutation of MSNBC’s accusation of Ron Paul’s having made a “racially charged” comment.

Feb 252015
 

I found this really terrific performance of the overture to Leonard Bernstein’s operetta, Candide, by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by its music director, Lan Shui, a Chinese American.

Leonard Bernstein was well known as a symphony conductor, but he also composed music, classical and jazz as well. He composed the music for the Broadway musical West Side Story and the film On the Waterfront, as well as some symphonic and choral works. Bernstein died in 1990 of a heart attack. Bernstein was a heavy smoker and suffered from emphysema. I remember hearing one of the local classical radio announcers — I think it was Ron Della Chiesa — refer to someone who had interviewed Bernstein, describing him “with his cigarette in one hand and his inhaler in the other.” If that’s not exactly what I remember hearing, I know I’m close. At Bernstein’s final concert, performing the Beethoven Symphony No. 7 at Tanglewood in the Berkshires August of 1990, Bernstein was having such terrible coughing fits during the performance, he was apparently experiencing a lot of discomfort, but the performance nevertheless succeeded.

Bernstein’s operetta Candide was not particularly popular at first, but in later years it did become popular. This overture, however, has been popular throughout the time, and is played frequently by symphony orchestras. I especially liked this performance by the Singapore Symphony that I found at YouTube. Here they are performing on tour in Berlin.

Feb 242015
 

Yesterday I was listening to Howie Carr on the radio who was discussing Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s special panel — another “blue-ribbon commission,” as Carr puts it — to try to come up with ways to improve the “T,” the century-old Massachusetts subway/streetcar/commuter rail/bus system, following this past month’s disastrous breaking down of most of the trains and subway cars throughout the system from the extreme cold and the 4 or 5 big storms we’ve had.

And given the kinds of entrenched pols Gov. Baker has installed to improve the “T,” we will obviously get business as usual. As Carr wrote in his Herald column this week, it really is a panel of hacks which shows that another new “blue-ribbon commission” will continue to feed the “hackerama,” even if appointed by this so-called reformer Republican Charlie Baker. But Howie Carr sounded surprised that Charlie Baker would appoint a hackarama to this important panel. Yes, Howie, as shocking as it may seem, Charlie Baker is . . . one of them. Yes, he’s a . . . hack. It may take a 12-step program for Carr and other believers in these politicians (like Romney and Scott Brown, for instance, here in the People’s Republic) to face the truth about these shysters who hide under cover of “reform.”

As Carr notes, the Charlie Baker-appointed “crew of hangers-on” includes a former head of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (“a reformer from City Hall. Wink wink nudge nudge”), a member of Obama’s 2009 transition team who had contributed $1,000 to Deval Patrick (Charlie Baker’s 2010 winning opponent), at least two people who supported the gas tax to be linked to inflation (but not deflation, of course) that was repealed by the voters last November, a contributor to Donald Berwick‘s campaign for governor (“the moonbat’s moonbat”), and more. They are all hacks, moonbats, political activists, etc.

Any businesspeople, Gov. Charlie Baker? People who might have actual experience in following the bottom line, perhaps? (Nope.)

Let’s face it, despite the so-called “libertarian think-tank” that Baker co-directed at its founding, the “free-market oriented” Pioneer Institute, and whatever studies they have done toward reforming the system and freeing businesses and freeing the people so they can actually prosper in Massachusetts, Charlie Baker once again shows why I have rightfully referred to him in this space as “Charlie Half-Baker.”

And regarding that “free-market think tank” Pioneer Institute formerly co-directed by Charlie Baker, their promotional brochure copied and pasted into Wikipedia  Wikipedia page notes that the Institute is actually somewhat good on healthcare freedom. But on school reform, while they oppose national standards for K-12 educational curricula, they promote the 1993 Massachusetts law mandating state-imposed standards. And get this: According to Wikipedia they propose to “Advance a portfolio of public school choice options (charter schools, autonomous vocational-technical schools, and inter district choice) as well as private school options.”

Nothing about actual free-market choices there, as such “choices” they have outlined would still be under the ultimate control and approval of government central planners. And nothing about promoting homeschooling as an alternative. As Jacob Hornberger pointed out, there needs to be a total separation of education and state if you really want genuine educational reform.

The Pioneer Institute also promotes public pension reforms, but not abolishing the idea of government pensions altogether. Unlike in the private sector, in the government sector there should be no further payments to government workers after their terms of employment. Such retirement plans are the responsibility of those employees, not the taxpayers. (And frankly, that should be the case in the private sector as well, in my view, as individual workers should prepare their own retirement plans which employers should not have to deal with.)

The Pioneer Institute also proposes to lower the corporate tax rate and play with tax credits. No, eliminating the corporate tax is the truly free-market reform. But as Laurence Vance wrote recently, lowering taxes is always a good thing (if the politicians must continue their thieving schemes, that is). But, as Vance points out, conservatives (which is not to say that Charlie Half-Baker is a “conservative” — far from it) just don’t seem to have a philosophical objection to taxes. They agree with progressives that the State has some kind of legitimate claim on Americans’ income.

So, despite his rhetoric during his recent campaign for governor to not raise taxes or fees, I am sure that this new governor Charlie Baker will follow what Howie Carr predicts the new “blue-ribbon commission” will advise: “Taxes, taxes, and still more taxes. . .” Why? In the name of the “hackerama,” of course. After all, Gov. Charlie Half-Baker will want to get reelected, won’t he?

And the commuter rail, subways and streetcars will nevertheless continue to break down. That’s the predictably destructive nature of government monopolies that I wish “reformers” could grasp. Maybe some day.

The Brahms 3rd Symphony

 Posted by at 11:23 am
Feb 242015
 

I thought this was a very good performance of the Brahms Symphony No. 3, played by the Dresden Staatskapelle orchestra conducted by its principal conductor Christian Thielemann. Actually, I am not a big fan of Brahms, except for his Piano Concerto No. 2, and prefer Schumann and Dvorak symphonies to Brahms. But this performance of the Brahms 3rd really is fine-tuned, and expressive. I like the way these Europeans move and sway with their playing. Musicians in American orchestras don’t really do that, they just sit there and blow. And that’s it. I’m sure there are exceptions, however. This conductor, Christian Thielemann, by the way, reminds me a little of Larry Hagman on I Dream of Jeannie. But I can’t see the astronaut Maj. Tony Nelson conducting a Brahms symphony, can you?

Lew Rockwell

 Posted by at 2:36 pm
Feb 232015
 

Chris Rossini has a post praising the writing of libertarian anarcho-capitalist Lew Rockwell, and I agree with Chris Rossini. Not only is Lew Rockwell a powerful advocate of liberty, freedom of association, private property and the truth through his very popular website, LewRockwell.com, but his writing really is superb. As Chris Rossini notes, Lew Rockwell really tells it like it is, especially when it come to the truth of what the State really is. His most recent article on secession was one of his best, in my view. In 2013 he wrote about the Libertarian Paradox.

And in 2012 he had these remarks about Ron Paul vs. the Regime, in which Lew wrote:

Ours is the most radical challenge to the state ever posed. We aren’t trying to make the state more efficient, or show how it can take in more revenue, or change its pattern of wealth redistribution. We’re not saying that this subsidy is better than that one, or that this kind of tax would make the system run more smoothly than that one. We reject the existing system root and branch.

And we don’t oppose the state’s wars because they’ll be counterproductive or overextend the state’s forces. We oppose them because mass murder based on lies can never be morally acceptable.

So we don’t beg for scraps from the imperial table, and we don’t seek a seat at that table. We want to knock the table over.

And of course Lew Rockwell certainly knows how to defend libertarianism as an advocacy of the non-aggression principle and self-ownership, nothing more. No “equality” or “inequality” stuff, no race, gender, or classism stuff. Liberty is really all about liberty, and that’s what libertarianism advocates.