LRC Blog

Nonessential Federal Employees

With the federal government “shutdown” and “nonessential” federal employees told to stay home, I can’t think of any federal employees more nonessential than the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers stationed overseas on U.S. military bases, occupying countries, or fighting foreign wars. They should forever be furloughed.

9:07 am on January 22, 2018

Both NSA and FBI “Lose” Evidence

Two different cases, two different batches of evidence disappear. How convenient. The NSA deleted surveillance data that it was supposed to retain under court orders. It’s under legal attack for illegal Bush-era warrantless surveillance. Not only did it “lose” data it had promised the court that it would preserve from 2001 to 2007, “backup tapes that might have mitigated the failure were erased in 2009, 2011 and 2016, the NSA said.” In rescue efforts, the NSA is trying to plumb the depths of the reused tapes; it has some metadata and 4 months of data from 2003.

This episode reveals either intentional obstruction, which is bad, or incompetence, which is bad. The flip side of destruction of data is that incompetence can also occur when data are stolen, used for illegal purposes, or released when they shouldn’t be. Incompetence also can mean collecting data illegally. It can mean storing it in ways such that it deteriorates or cannot be found. It can mean mixing up data with mistaken attributions. It can mean not using whatever data it does collect in fruitful ways.

Meanwhile, separately, the “FBI lost crucial texts tied to Clinton probe” says “Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee”. The FBI claims to have lost 5 months of messages between “Lisa Page, a lawyer, and Peter Strzok, an agent, between mid-December 2016 through mid-May of 2017.” The FBI explanations have to do with software updates that didn’t work properly to save files.

We already have substantial evidence of FBI incompetence. “Sen. Richard Shelby in 2002 derided ‘the FBI’s dismal recent history of disorganization and institutional incompetence in its national security work.’ (The FBI also lost track of a key informant at the heart of the cabal that detonated a truck bomb beneath the World Trade Center in 1993.)”

We are poised to hear important accusations from the House Intelligence Committee. High-ranked members of the FBI probably helped to commission and pay for the questionable Steele dossier, not long after its birth. They adopted it and used it for political purposes during and after the election in an effort to discredit candidate Trump. The FBI exonerated Hillary Clinton by soft-pedaling investigation of her handling of e-mails. The FBI spied on the Trump campaign. Critical leaks were designed to undermine Trump. More detailed material along these lines is likely.

Although the NSA and the FBI should be abolished, they won’t be. Our government fails in many, many ways, one of which is that it doesn’t correct its own failings, even after they are revealed.

8:55 am on January 22, 2018

The Absurdity of the U.S. Empire

At the beginning of yesterday’s New England Patriots/Jacksonville Jaguars football game CBS proudly put on the screen, right after everyone sang the anthem to statism while staring at a flag the size of the Titanic:  “This game is broadcast to U.S. military personnel in 175 countries around the world.”

 

8:49 am on January 22, 2018

I Will Be Speaking

At the 2018 Freedom Summit program in Phoenix, AZ on February 3rd, at 3:15 4:00 p.m. My topic will be Libertarian Thinking in the Next Renaissance.

The conference will run from February 2-3, 2018, at the Arizona State University Sandra Day OConnor College of Law in Phoenix. More information can be found at Freedom Summit 2018.

2:03 am on January 22, 2018

The Fed’s Confession of Faith

Soon after the Great War began in August of 1914, the firm of J. P. Morgan & Company was named as fiscal agent for Great Britain and France. Those politicians, journalists, industrialists, and financial elites within the Morgan ambit began a concentrated drive for US intervention into the conflict being waged in Europe. This was seen as essential in order to protect the intimate relationship Morgan partner Henry P. Davidson had forged. In 1910 Davidson was a key participant for Morgan in the secretive meeting on Jekyll Island, Georgia that led to the creation of the Federal Reserve. In its early years the Fed was dominated by a coterie of Wall Street investment firms, led by the House of Morgan. President Woodrow Wilson, after winning re-election in 1916, soon went to Congress asking for a formal Declaration of War on April 6, 1917. On May 3, 1917, the Federal Reserve signed its first reciprocal account agreement with a foreign central bank, the Bank of England, soon followed by the Bank of France.

For decades critics of the Fed have authoritatively spoken out how this cancerous institution in the body politic has enabled war, the destruction of the Republic, and the creation of the warfare-welfare state. Here is a Confession of Faith from Simon Potter, Executive Vice President of the New York Fed, to his global confederates of crime and plunder in detailing these enabling events. Also discussed is the beginning of the sinister relationship between Governor Benjamin Strong of the New York Fed and the Bank of England’s Montagu Norman which played a central role in Murray N. Rothbard’s brilliant account of America’s Great Depression.

10:24 pm on January 21, 2018

Defending the Undefendable I

See below for two interesting letters regarding my book Undefendable I (published in 1976) and my replies to their authors. (Defending the Undefendable II was published in 2013, and I am now working on Defending the Undefendable III; each book has an entirely new and different cast of characters.)

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5:17 pm on January 21, 2018

No Kidding: U.K. Appoints “Minister of Loneliness”

The U.K. has been on the vanguard of implementing statist boobery for some time now, so because loneliness supposedly has the same adverse health effects as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, the U.K. has created a Minister of Loneliness.

4:54 pm on January 21, 2018

One Reason to Admire Jimmy Carter

On this day in 1977, President Carter pardoned Vietnam War “draft dodgers.” The heroes were the ones who refused to go to Vietnam, not the ones who did. Should we honor Vietnam Veterans? I answer that question here.

2:32 pm on January 21, 2018

Trump’s Global Military Aggressiveness Comes Clearly Into View

Two days ago, it was obvious that Trump and Tillerson were increasing instability in northern Syria by their plans to form a U.S.-trained 30,000 man force or army inside Syria and uninvited by Damascus. It has taken only 2 days for that instability to have been realized.

This Trump plan is but one of his foreign policy steps that have brought his global militancy clearly into view.

It was only a matter of time before Trump’s foreign policy moves would come into view more clearly. A year in office has provided enough time and motion for us to see that his policy is at least as aggressive as Obama’s; and his moves more or less approximate the prickly Hillary Clinton agenda. In Syria, he’s after a U.S. enclave. This was presaged by his support a year ago for safe zones. One month ago, the news was that the “Trump administration OKs sale of lethal arms to Ukraine“. Kiev has become more militant about regaining its lost territories, including Crimea. Trump supports this. Trump has clearly taken a militant stand against Iran. If he walks out of the nuclear agreement, that spells war with Iran. Trump’s North Korea policy is one long broken record of militancy, up to and including nuclear threats. After 7 months of heightening tensions, Trump refuses to move on a reasonable de-escalation plan:

“The plan would see North Korea suspend its ballistic missile program and the United States and South Korea simultaneously call a moratorium on large-scale missile exercises, both moves aimed at paving the way for multilateral talks.”

Trump continues to bait and taunt China. Witness the latest episode of a U.S. destroyer sailing close to a Chinese-claimed shoal. This militancy does nothing to bringing the U.S. and China together to address their important differences.

What about relations with Russia? “In the space of a week, the Trump administration has named Russia a ‘rival power,’ sanctioned a close Putin ally, and decided to give Ukraine anti-tank weapons to help in its fight against Moscow-backed militias. It’s a series of steps that has been paired with tougher rhetoric from the State Department about Moscow’s destabilizing activities in eastern Ukraine, and serious charges from the Pentagon that Russia is intentionally violating de-confliction agreements in Syria.”

Trump seems to think that he can use American military assets to back up his power plays, or that these forces are enough to intimidate his targets. He makes threats or dares others to resist as if he holds the upper hand. He’s naive, and he’s badly mistaken. In Afghanistan, where he has added troops, the Taliban is not going to cave in or back down. Iran is not going to alter its policies significantly because of Trump’s threats. Russia and China are going to continue to find ways to run circles around the U.S., despite threats and sanctions, because they know that outright war between nuclear powers is out of the picture.

But even beyond choosing policies that won’t get him what he wants, which is a U.S.-fashioned world, Trump is actually hastening the demise of the U.S. empire while making the world a much more dangerous place. Trump and any future president would do well, if they are seriously interested in peace and progress, to retrench the empire significantly while making Russia and China into allies.

1:33 pm on January 20, 2018

This Is How Much The News Triggers People


Zombie Apocalypse or clueless lemmings out to lunch?

11:09 am on January 20, 2018

US Imposes Authoritarian Model Without Help from Russia & China – Daniel McAdams

I am on RT (don’t tell anyone):

12:54 am on January 20, 2018

Leviathan as Landlord

New York City’s rulers regulate every detail, however minute, of a tenant’s interactions with a landlord, from the rent the latter may charge to the times and temperature of the heat he must provide. After all, the commies who’ve run the Big Apple for over a century now deem serfs too stupid to strike their own bargains. Plus, by regularly denouncing and hamstringing landlords, they curry immense favor with a pool of voters in which renters overwhelmingly outnumber those despised owners.

Ergo, government punishes landlords who fail to provide heat, especially during the sort of freezing weather the East Coast has suffered lately, with fines ranging from “$250-$500 dollars per day for each initial heat or hot water violation” to “$500-$1,000 per day for each subsequent violation at the same building during the same and/or the next calendar year from the initial violation or, during the same and/or the next heat season.” Alas, cynics fear that the City’s solicitude for cold renters is actually all about the money.

But I digress. So what happens when New York City is the landlord withholding heat and hot water from their tenants? Granted, those tenants are thieves and leeches, living on our taxes in subsidized housing, so spare them no sympathy. But still, how illustrative of Leviathan’s double standards to hear the beast’s excuses for a situation that, when it befalls a private entrepreneur, earns him nothing but contempt and robbery from the City:  

…thousands of public housing residents in the city were braving the cold without heat or hot water. The inhumane conditions in some NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] buildings have persisted for more than a week, even as Mayor [Bill “Comrade” ] de Blasio urged private renters to alert the city if their landlords weren’t providing heat. … “The folks who work at NYCHA are trying to hold together something that really should’ve gotten investment a long time ago,” de Blasio said…

Yeah, Comrade, and private landlords try to hold together their properties, too, on the pittance rent-control and rent-stabilization laws allow them.

Meanwhile, Comrade will turn the heat back on with yet more money stolen from the taxpayers. Bureaucracy and red tape have delayed that heist, however, as Comrade and New York’s governor, Andrew “Stalin” Cuomo, battle over the loot. Should a private landlord plead that he’ll eventually fix whatever problem has landed him in court as soon as he has the money, the fines would bankrupt him. But when politicians and bureaucrats flog such an excuse, well, no sweat, so to speak.

4:01 pm on January 19, 2018

Left Coast Dilemma: Why California Ranks #1 In Poverty

2:43 pm on January 19, 2018

All the Pieces Starting to Come Together

All the pieces in the Russia-gate scandal are starting to come together:

“All hell is breaking loose in Washington D.C. tonight after a four-page memo detailing extensive FISA court abuse was made available to the entire House of Representatives Thursday. The contents of the memo are so explosive, says Journalist Sara Carter, that it could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and the Department of Justice and the end of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.”

The scandal may have to be renamed because it’s really not about Russia. It has two or three facets. It’s about people in government using the powers of government illegally to let Hillary off the hook. Then it’s about sabotaging the Trump campaign through Russia-related charges. This leads into the dossier, the FISA aspect, spying on the Trump campaign and the entire “soft coup”. The current 4-page memo that we have yet to see but which is causing a big stir should open the box to much more.

After this memo is made public, which won’t take long, this will catalyze even further investigation and revelations that will show who colluded and acted with malice aforethought to influence the upcoming 2016 election through illegal use of government offices and powers. This will take in figures in the Obama administration that go right up to Obama himself, the Democratic campaign, both Clintons, the FBI and the Department of Justice. It will reveal those intelligence officials and those in Congress from both parties who participated in subsidiary ways as by transmitting the Steele dossier.

There have been quite a few revelations already in the past month or two, like the role and firing of Peter Strzok, a senior FBI agent, and the role of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The soft-pedaling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail case is part of this multi-faceted scandal.

The Mueller investigation is part of this scandal. It is implicated too and presents a third facet of the case. It’s corrupt, illegal, biased and dangerous in its power as I’ve suggested before (here and here). It belongs more to the Stalin era than to a country that has a Fourth Amendment to its Constitution.

9:09 am on January 19, 2018

Trump Leads the U.S. into War with Iran

On January 12, 2018, Trump issued a “Statement by the President on the Iran Nuclear Deal”.

A key passage says that Trump will kill the nuclear deal with Iran unless the European allies bow to his demands to fix the deal:

“Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately. [Emphasis added]

If these allies bow and attempt to fix the deal according to Trump’s requirements, Iran will not go along and knuckle under, because Trump is making many unreasonable demands. Iran will then have a much stronger incentive to resume nuclear development and hasten its ballistic missile program. This will lead the U.S. to attack Iran.

If the allies do not bow to Trump, but stay in the deal with Iran, that course of action stands a better chance of avoiding war. That assumes that Iran stays in the deal too, despite Trump’s reimposition of sanctions. But in that case, Iran’s incentive increases to develop nuclear weapons and systems to deliver them.

The existing deal gets a non-nuclear Iran for its duration. This isn’t good enough for Mr. Trump, however. He makes demands that Iran will never accept. He wants Iran to be open to international inspections anywhere at any time. He wants to make sure that Iran never ever comes close to possessing nuclear weapons. He wants to void Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities. Iran has no incentive to agree to any of this.

Trump’s demands and his threat to pull out of the deal raise the likelihood that Iran will move ahead to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. That, in turn, greatly raises the chances that the U.S. will attack Iran outright.

If Trump pulls out of the nuclear deal, it means war with Iran. Such a war will be a severe disaster, and made by Trump. It will destabilize every state in the Middle East with incalculable consequences. The forces of 4th generation warfare will proliferate. Extremist groups of many descriptions will take root. Oil supplies will be jeopardized. Israel will be jeopardized, raising the likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons in the region. The turmoil will spread to central Asia, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Russia is bound to become involved.

The best we can hope for is that Europeans create their usual fog of delay, division, imprecision, complication, footdragging and endless talk, in order to give Trump space to back off and back down.

2:42 pm on January 18, 2018

Google’s YouTube Directing Young Boys to Careers as State Bureaucrats

while encouraging young girls to pursue prestigious careers in science and medicine.

12:55 pm on January 18, 2018

What To Expect In 2018 – With Special Guest Gerald Celente

12:50 pm on January 18, 2018

Trump’s Syrian Plans Increase Regional Instability

The news that the U.S. intends to build a 30,000 man army manned by locals in Syria’s northern region caused strong negative reactions from Turkey, Syria and Russia. There was some strong criticism from Congress about Trump’s plans for Syria, even before the news. There was even apprehension from Syrian Kurds who fear that the plan could cause disputes between Kurds and Arabs.

Tillerson’s plans for Syria are those of an empire whose principals believe they have the right to intervene in foreign countries on their own say-so and for their own ends, no matter what those at the receiving end have to say about it. Tillerson insists on the U.S. staying in Syria to assure Assad’s departure. He wants a U.S. presence to disrupt Iran’s plans or his perceptions of those plans. He thinks a U.S. presence will bring stability.

The U.S. plan means in effect a permanent U.S. presence inside Syria, if it goes through, because it entails continuous U.S. support. Turkey has vowed to strangle it, threatening invasion. Sooner or later, Assad will actively find means, military, political and other, to regain control of northern Syria as he is doing now in Idlib.

Tillerson has tried to dampen the reaction with a cover story. (See Juan Cole for further analysis.) He doesn’t deny the creation of the force. He denies that it’s a border force: “That entire situation has been misportrayed, misdescribed, some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all.” He claims it’s projected as an anti-ISIS force: “We have ISIS still attacking in parts of northwest Syria and along the Euphrates valley, so this is just more training and trying to block ISIS from their escape routes.”

His explanation or shift in description doesn’t hold water because anti-ISIS forces in those regions have already overcome major portions of ISIS forces without the formation of an army of the type being projected that would have permanent U.S. support and rely on permanent U.S. bases inside Syria. The defeat of ISIS as a state and territorial entity has largely been accomplished over the past 12 months. Furthermore, parts of the anti-ISIS forces in northern Syria could work with Assad against any remaining ISIS factions.
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9:45 am on January 18, 2018

Mueller’s Investigation

While not up to Stalin’s purges and show trials, it’s getting there in terms of being a total miscarriage of justice. It’s senseless for the Mueller gang to be calling in and interviewing everyone in the Trump gang that had anything to do with the campaign. What possible sense can be made out of all sorts of conversations attended by all sorts of people, who all are afraid now, who all could be hung out to dry now for trivial misstatements and who all have varied recollections of events? What sense can be made out of young and ambitious campaign workers falling all over themselves to look good and get close to the center of power in Trump? Many were and are clowns. On this the book “Fire and Fury” provides accurate insight.

The whole Russian collusion scenario has been a farce engineered by Trump opponents from day one. It has zero credibility. It’s all a politically-motivated witchhunt in the tradition of the worst dictatorial governments. It’s a charade parading around under the cover of a legitimate government process, which it is not. Sessions should have scotched this thing long, long ago; but he was looking out for his own skin. Comey and his FBI fellow gang members should be the ones under investigation as should Hillary Clinton. The whole affair illustrates just how bad the justice system is in this country. The Bundy affair is not an outlier.

As for money laundering through financing, I won’t believe anything that Mueller and his cronies come up with. The world is awash in banks, hedge funds, offshore accounts, investment managers and a myriad of ways to transfer money. Money itself is replaceable by its own type indefinitely through multiple holders, that is, it is fungible. A company cannot control the composition of all its ultimate lenders because funds can pass through so many hands. If Mueller attempts to prove money laundering of criminally-obtained gains or through entities that have been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury, I won’t believe a word of it. That means I’m extremely skeptical.

What I do believe is that Trump ran a loose ship or ran no ship at all, and if that’s the way he runs his business empire, it being a family concern, almost anything is possible that can look bad.

I’m uninterested in defending Trump or any of his cohort in political terms, but no matter how reputable or disreputable, smart or stupid, tight-lipped or loose-mouthed, kempt or unkempt, any of them are, I do not think it’s at all right for Mueller to have the power to delve into every nook and cranny of their lives, conversations and activities in order to concoct or discover “crimes” that are really not crimes. The zeal of the Mueller gang reminds me too much of Robespierre’s prosecutor, Antoine-Quentin Fouquier-Tinville. “His zeal in prosecution earned him the nickname Purveyor to the Guillotine. His activity during this time earned him the reputation of one of the most sinister figures of the Revolution.”

8:39 pm on January 17, 2018

Marijuana Arrests

According to a new report issued by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, “Police arrest more people for marijuana use than for all violent crimes — combined.” On any given day in the United States, “at least 137,000 people sit behind bars on simple drug-possession charges.” This in spite of the fact that medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, recreational marijuana is legal in 8 states, and the possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in 21 states. As I recently stated: “No one should ever be arrested, fined, or imprisoned for possessing a plant the government doesn’t approve of. Not in the land of the free.” Want to eliminate half of the cops in the United States? End the war on drugs. It is, after all, a war on freedom.

6:58 pm on January 17, 2018

Humility From a Politician?

Here are two enjoyable examples of that great rarity: a humble political speech.

Exhibit A is Calvin Coolidge addressing an American Legion convention in 1925, peppering his talk with humble homespun language and his own vision of what “America First” should mean. It’s a tour de force of peace over war (marred only by Cal’s approving depiction of growing US military power and expenditures), idealism over pettiness, charity over welfare, and civilization over statist destruction. He is particularly good at avoiding the Broken Window Fallacy with respect to the then-recent Great War:

In a conflict with engaged all the major nations of the earth and lasted for a period exceeding four years, there could be no expectation of material gains. War in its very essence means destruction. Never before were contending peoples so well equipped with every kind of infernal engine calculated to spread desolation on land and over the face of the deep. Our country is only but now righting itself and beginning a moderate but steady recovery from the great economic loss which it sustained. That tremendous debt must be liquidated through the laborious toil of our people. Modern warfare becomes more and more to mean utter loss, destruction, and desolation of the best that there is of any people, its valiant youth and its accumulated treasure.

Exhibit B is Jimmy Carter’s “Law Day” speech before the Georgia State Bar in 1974, a talk made famous by Hunter S. Thompson. It gave Thompson his first inkling that Carter might be formidable enough to defeat the more popular Ted Kennedy in a Democratic presidential primary two years later. Carter is his now-familiar nagging and scolding self, but only behalf of causes like (real) civil liberties, Nixonian corruption, and local cronyism preying on the destitute and illiterate:

I was down on the coast this weekend. I was approached by a woman who asked me to come by her home. And I went by and she showed me documents that indicated that her illiterate mother, who had a son in jail, had gone to the County Surveyor in that region and had borrowed 225 dollars to get her son out of prison. She had a letter from the Justice of the Peace that showed that her mother had made a mark on a blank sheet of paper. They paid off the 225 dollars and she has the receipts to show it. And then they started a five year program trying to get back the paper she signed, without success. They went to court. And the lawyer that had originally advised her to sign the paper showed up as the attorney for the surveyor. She had put up 50 — 50 acres of land near the county seat as security. And when she got to court she found that instead of signing a security deed that she had signed a warranty deed. That case has already been appealed to the Supreme Court and she lost.

Both are good reads!

4:33 pm on January 17, 2018

Who Made the Afghanistan Mess?

For the U.S. government and America, Afghanistan is a hideous blunder that was created by America’s leaders in September of 2001. The objectives have not been achieved and there is no prospect that they will be achieved. At the time, the attack on Afghanistan garnered a 90% approval rating from Americans, which is all the more reason to keep investigating this war from all possible angles to shed light on a dark and dreadful, not to mention totally wrong, decision, a decision that Trump continues to implement.

For whom has this war been a disaster? Losers include 31,000 documented civilian deaths. The estimated Afghan civilians, soldiers and militants killed number 111,000. An additional 360,000 lives have been lost indirectly due to the war. Those dead in Pakistan are excluded. 29,000 civilians have been wounded. U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan number at least 2,297. As of October 2015, the coalition forces that entered the war suffered 1,137 deaths.

These estimates exclude those American and coalition forces who have been injured, often severely. It’s an utter disgrace that our government does not provide clear tallies. In 2012, it was reported that the American wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan together exceeded 50,000.

The money cost of the resources America has devoted to pursuing the Afghanistan war is near $1 trillion. It is estimated to be $2 trillion if all costs past, present and future are included.

This war is a long-running disaster, still occurring, that was made solely by Bush and his war cabinet. Who were the people responsible for the decision to invade Afghanistan and topple its government in what was a clear act of aggression, illegal and immoral by all standards?

“To plan the administration’s response to the terrorist attacks, President Bush assembled his ‘War Cabinet,’ which included Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Card, and Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet.” (Pfiffner, 2003). The people who created the war were headed by President George W. Bush. Richard Bruce Cheney was the Vice-President. Condoleezza Rice was the assistant to the president for national security affairs. Colin Powell was Secretary of State. Andrew Card was White House chief of staff. George Tenet was Director of Central Intelligence. Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense.

According to Pfiffner, “The president decided that it was important to have U.S. soldiers committed to battle in order to demonstrate U.S. resolve and commitment.” Also “During October President Bush was impatient to get U.S. troops into Afghanistan.” Bush is responsible primarily for this war, and he is the man who conceived of and promoted the fundamental idea of turning action against terrorism into warfare.

The U.S. is an empire that has incredible commitments to all sorts of allies across the world. Its power and dominance among its allies depend upon the validity of these commitments. The U.S. has constantly to be showing that the commitments are binding and that it will uphold them. Otherwise, cracks in the power structure and dominance of the U.S. open up if allies begin to doubt the word of the U.S. These commitments are at once a source of strength for the empire and a potential source of weakness. They tie the U.S. down and force the empire to maintain bases and roving armed forces worldwide. Any president who is committed to the U.S. as an empire is hooked, trapped or captured by this chain of commitments. He or she is practically forced by those who are behind the empire and benefit from it to reinforce the image of America as a staunch upholder of its interests, commitments, treaties, and allies. They do not want to go down in history as the person who oversaw the shrinkage and death of the U.S. empire. This helps explain why Bush wanted “to demonstrate U.S. resolve and commitment”.

But as much as this analysis may help comprehend why a president makes irrational decisions in an effort to hold the empire together, there is more to it. Each person in that room bears some responsibility for the decision to attack Afghanistan with American ground troops and topple the Taliban. Each had reasons, and each was wrong. The room was filled with the crème de la crème of the American political system, and they still went wrong. They failed to grasp the countervailing forces that would render this American show of resolve not only meaningless but a show of weakness. They failed to understand the situation. They failed to understand Afghanistan, its people, its nature, its government and the role of corruption. They failed to understand the role of Pakistan. They failed to understand the weaknesses on the American side. They failed to understand the resolve of their opponents.

We cannot trust the political crème de la crème. We cannot trust instantaneous public opinion, which was also wildly wrong. At this moment in time, we cannot trust Trump and his crew, not because of his personality or his unorthodox style, but because he is just as prone to be captured by the idea of empire as any past president. At best, Trump made some anti-empire noises; but his actions speak louder than his words and his words are more and more bellicose. His anti-empire words, really mere suspicions and uncoordinated verbal sallies against empire, were enough to rouse the proponents of empire into a coalition against him. The crème de la crème are blind partisans of the system that has made them the political crème de la crème, but equally partisan in favor of empire are all sorts of other American forces.

3:35 pm on January 17, 2018

More US Bases In Syria…Why Not Come Home?

12:57 pm on January 17, 2018

VA Surgeon Left Scalpel in Patient

where it was discovered four years later.  The plaintiff’s attorney filing suit last week described the VA as “an incomprehensible level of incompetence.”  So why doesn’t the “patriotic” GOP, to protect veterans which it supposedly loves, move to abolish it?

2:45 pm on January 16, 2018

Trump To Embrace Nuclear First Strike

1:32 pm on January 16, 2018

U.S. Brews Trouble inside Syria

Some clearheaded Russian reaction to the U.S. plan to create an army inside Syria is cited here. This article presents the U.S. aims as some Russian analysts see them.

Erdogan’s reaction was strong: “A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our bordersWhat can that terror army target but Turkey? Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.” Assad also reacted negatively: “The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad responded on Monday by vowing to crush the new force and drive U.S. troops from the country. Assad’s ally Russia called the plans a plot to dismember Syria and place part of it under U.S. control.”

The U.S. under Trump continues its primary foreign policy of empire, which entails U.S. hegemony far and wide. Hegemony means dominance, superiority, control and power over a region or country. It requires meddling, intervention and interference in the affairs of other countries. This produces a constant stream of trouble spots of our own making and participation, like Vietnam, Korea, Lebanon and Iran in earlier times and Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Niger, and Syria in later times. We buy into these spots, making trouble for ourselves, because of the attempts at hegemony.

Psychologically, the intent of expanding hegemony is always to show strength. Our government policy is built upon the fear that not showing strength by extending dominance shows weakness and invites enemies to extend their control. We do not walk softly and carry a big stick. We are not confident in our defensive strength, even after building enough nuclear bombs to obliterate the planet 10 times over. We insist on using the stick in foreign countries to show our strength. We do not believe in ourselves enough to let foreign nations create and live with the consequences of their own errant policies. We had such little confidence in our market order that we over-estimated the capacities of the communist parts of the world and instituted parts of their program in our country. The U.S. is so fearful that doing nothing shows weakness that it consistently looks for a response to any event that remotely seems to question its dominance. Trump’s missile salvo launched against a Syrian airbase after a chemical incident is in this tradition.

Trump is following up on Pentagon, State and Obama administration plans that arose well before he became president. He is creating a new trouble spot and predicament inside Syria, designed to serve the empire’s hegemonic aims in that region. Trump now owns the resulting problems and complications that are bound to arise.

10:03 am on January 16, 2018

How Your Brain Is Getting Hacked: Facebook, Tinder, Slot Machines | Tristan Harris


This is the best short clip on flat screen addiction and all the big apps that are intentionally designed for addiction that I’ve seen from Tristan Harris, former Google apps designer.

Intentional delays and other techniques in apps to hook people to little dopamine hits in the brain. Harris calls it the “race to the bottom of the brain stem.”

These apps and video game design features are designed to keep you using it etc. There are courses at places like Stanford University on this “persuasive design” and they talk about “stickiness.” These are euphemisms for really smart people studying the human brain and figuring out ways to addict us so that we spend more time on their app / game etc, for their profit – – and rob us of our time and lives in the process.

The unfortunate results of this global phenomenon surely hit the young whose brains are still developing much harder since their brains literally wire around their “smart” phone.  I, and my high school teacher colleagues, see the disastrous consequences of this everyday at work.   (more…)

5:14 pm on January 15, 2018

Higher Inflation Ahead

The price movements in financial markets are often difficult to interpret, but recently they are acting as if higher inflation lies ahead. It’s the uniformity of reactions in several markets that suggest this.

The key event that launched these moves is the tax cut that passed in early December in the Senate and Dec. 20 in the House.

Gold began a strong upward move starting on Dec. 12. The dollar as measured by UUP fell against other currencies starting on the same date.

The stock market, which already had been making new highs, waited until 10 days ago and then launched an upward move to daily new highs that was even stronger than earlier.

Twenty-year treasuries made a local high on Dec. 15 (128.59 on TLT) and then sold off to its current 124.52.

The implied 10-year breakeven inflation rate as measured by TIPS shows a recent rise too. Its pattern shows a long-term basing pattern that began 3 years ago. This rate appears poised to break out to higher levels.

Hence, all the markets are saying the same thing. Not only will federal deficits rise, but so will inflation.

4:03 pm on January 15, 2018

Who Killed Martin Luther King…And Why?

12:28 pm on January 15, 2018

Did Trump Say It?

People at the meeting have conflicting recollections. So far, Graham and Durbin say he said it. Cotton and Purdue say he didn’t say it. Nielsen said he didn’t use “that exact phrase”. Three other attendees have said nothing.

Is it possible to hear something vulgar that someone else didn’t say? Yes, it is, definitely. I assert this from personal experience.

I once had a one-on-one meeting with a dean who was against me because I disagreed with his program. People in business specialties like finance, marketing, and accounting were in demand. Their salaries had risen relative to economists. The dean, an economist, wanted to hire economists in these specialties. I thought then and still think that economists didn’t know these fields and would propound useless theories. I didn’t think you could build a business school with economists.

Some time after this meeting, a few months, at some occasion in which I again talked with this fellow, he angrily recollected that I had sworn at him using a 4-letter word that begins with the letter “f”. This definitely did not happen. He told me that this happened when I pointed my finger at him. I had used my forefinger or index finger in natural body language to make a point. He was so mad at any sign of independence that he translated this into a memory of a vulgar epithet hurled at him. That thought never even crossed my mind.

When it comes to eyewitness or ear-witness recollections of meetings, in which issues are at stake and emotional reactions run high, it is quite possible that people will remember things being said that were never said.

12:13 pm on January 15, 2018