LRC Blog

Listen to Yuri Maltsev!

He understands the enduring fetish for socialism among western elites. This is a fun conversation about the Che Guevara T-shirt types and the people creating a new class of them among millennials.

3:53 pm on May 25, 2018

Is Trump Learning?

Given the Korean debacle, there are no signs yet that Trump is learning. Learning what? For one thing, learning how to make appointments in the foreign policy arena. He chose Pence, Pompeo and Bolton and many other clowns like Nikki Haley. His staff in the first year was a joke. Does Trump yet realize that he’s giving people like this a position of power, a microphone and a license to speak out to everyone’s detriment including his own? Has he learned yet that political appointees do not act like corporate employees? Has he learned that the ambitions and weapons of his appointees are fiercer and sharper than anything he has encountered in the business world? Has he yet learned that the field of battle is much less under his control and much more devious? Has he learned political wiles? Has he learned how treacherous his closest advisors are?

Has Trump learned how to acquire information from trustworthy and knowledgeable sources beyond a closed circle that surrounds him and beyond talking heads on cable channels? This is an urgent need. Trump needs a non-appointed kitchen cabinet with deep experience. He needs people who can tell him accurately what his own official advisors are up to. He certainly needs such people to guide him away from his woefully bad appointments.

Trump stepped into the presidency as an amateur. Business experience doesn’t substitute for political experience. As in most things, specialization is the rule. Skills have to be acquired by experience. Trump doesn’t have it. Also, while being in a job is typically necessary to such development, it is not sufficient, Hillary Clinton being an example. Trump recruited a pack of wolves ready to control his moves. Has he learned that what he feels as rapport or compatibility with someone is not sufficient grounds for hiring them? Not yet.

When and if Trump learns, he will fire Bolton. He will dump Pence, if he lasts that long and runs again for president.

There is time for Trump to recover from the Korean jiggle. There is always time to come up with strategies and policies that alter the landscape, for good or ill. It’s 17 months into the Trump presidency, and there is no evidence that this caretaker emperor is steering the ship of empire any better than his recent predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “Better” in the space of foreign affairs means toward peace, toward the resolution of intractable conflicts, toward reasoned diplomacy, away from wars, away from entanglements, away from conflicts, and away from militarism. The empire’s course hasn’t changed. Syria remains a place for the U.S. to meddle. Iran remains viewed as an enemy to bully and distrust. Israel remains a nation to support unthinkingly. The war on terror remains a strategy. Venezuela remains a place to meddle in. Africa remains a new playground for military bases and state-to-state military exercises. Sadly, a Korean opportunity is currently sidelined. The neocon ideas remain in place, while Trump’s vision remains confused, inconsistent and ineffective.

Trump hasn’t learned yet to be his own president. He needs right now to do two things, if he is to own his own presidency. He needs to find, articulate, and lead toward a new and better direction for the empire, one that involves retrenchment, moderation and peaceful solutions, one that has a sound basis other than military means. The neocon philosophy has to be rejected strongly and openly. Trump needs a sounder guide than “America First”. That’s a faulty guide. It comes down to Trump choosing policies on an ad hoc basis that he happens to think support the vague “America First” notion. The result is inconsistency, contradiction, and lack of clear direction. Trump cannot possibly change the empire’s direction by abdicating leadership to a neocon clique that he himself has created. Secondly, Trump needs to select a small task force whose charge is to find new blood for this new strategy of the empire.

8:20 am on May 25, 2018

Trump Adopts Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy

So Trump cancelled his meeting with the North Koreans on the advice of his national security advisor, the lying neocon buffoon with the Captain Kangaroo mustache, John Bolton, who says he favors “the Libyan model” for dealing with North Korea.   The “Libyan model” was authored by none other than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama:  Dupe Libya into getting rid of its nuclear weapons, promising to be nice in return, then orchestrate the savage and brutal public murder of the Libyan president with whom they made the deal.  Then crow that “We came, we saw, he died!” and chuckle your head off about it, as Hillary Clinton did on video.

8:18 am on May 25, 2018

Trump the Dumb

Trump is crazed. He wants to price you out of buying a Subaru, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan, etc., etc., with a 25% (or so) tariff, so he can protect “the great American autoworker.” He wants to force you to buy America crap by legislating monetary penalties that punish your free choice.

Thanks to another auto bubble that promotes and preserves an environment for consumers to borrow themselves into massive debt loads, people are buying cars way beyond their means with little or no interest rates and 7-and-8-year stretch payments, hence the jacked-up sales of huge and ugly SUVs and pickups. So now, the American automakers only want to make these bulbous shit-vehicles because the profit margins are gravy.

Meanwhile, Ford is going to stop making sedans, and GM is going to pursue a similar path. So the consumer will have to refrain from buying a new car, or, they will have to buy what the government and the American auto companies want consumers to buy to serve their larger agendas, while making the competition’s vehicles entirely unaffordable.

6:50 am on May 25, 2018

A Short Audio History of Menger and his Work

Carl Menger is in some ways the forgotten man of Austrian economics, which seems a shame. This is a short and enjoyable history of the man and his work.

4:11 pm on May 24, 2018

Trump Yields To Bolton, Cancels Kim Summit

12:46 pm on May 24, 2018

Pence, Pompeo and Bolton v. North Korea

BREAKING NEWS: “Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long planned meeting.” Trump cancels the June 12 summit meeting with Kim of North Korea.

The rest of this blog was written before this news broke. Trump’s own men caused this to happen. Does Trump realize this?

Trump surrounds himself with men who are willing to get a lot of people killed, Pence, Bolton, Pompeo, and they have a license to make threats against North Korea. They have the power to torpedo the upcoming summit between Trump and Kim, and that is exactly what they are doing. Trump himself wavers in his statements and seems unconcerned by what they are saying. He barely moderates their statements. He doesn’t walk them back, not yet and not enough. It is no surprise that North Korea responds with rough statements of its own. Is this supposed to be pre-summit “bargaining”? It’s stupid, crude, negative and risking the peace. It’s an embarrassment to have these men at the top of the American political heap. This too is to be expected in our system of government.

Yesterday, it was Pompeo who was mouthing off. He demanded that North Korea take concrete steps to denuclearize his country, before bargaining could begin. Today it’s Pence mouthing off. Before Pompeo it was Bolton comparing North Korea to Libya and graphically demanding submission. Trump at best was more ambiguous and cut Kim some slack. The three war hawks have it in mind to be the bad cops promising to bomb North Korea unmercifully unless it kowtows to their demands for North Korea to get rid of all its nuclear weapons. Trump holds out the carrot of large quantities of aid and a beautiful future, plus somehow promising security, i.e., the U.S. won’t attack North Korea.

Would the entire matter not have been handled with greater promise of success and finesse if South Korea and North Korea had been allowed by themselves to continue proceeding without the U.S. entering with its crude threats? After all, they’ve already made some historic steps toward peace. Kim’s nuclear threat to the U.S., while of uncertain caliber, is real, but it is not of a dimension that cannot be contained and even eliminated over time through a stepwise process by which a united Korea is produced and U.S. forces removed from Korea. Bolton, Pence and Pompeo have all jeopardized such a process by demanding that Kim take steps now, before starting to bargain, that demonstrate he will get rid of his bombs and missiles.

The U.S. has vast power, far exceeding that of North Korea, and it has shown, in such cases as the expansion of NATO, breaking the ABM treaty, attacking Libya, and abruptly terminating its nuclear agreement with Iran, that it breaks its word. Given these facts, why should North Korea accede to the demands of these men? Why should they give away the leverage that they have? Pence, Pompeo and Bolton are tossing their weight around, but North Korea can only call their bluff and respond in kind with harsh words of their own. So far, Trump has shown far more restraint, which leaves the negotiating door open.

Perhaps this is how the empire plays its dangerous and potentially very bloody games. Perhaps there is nothing new here. However, the modus operandi of Pence, Pompeo and Bolton is a bluff that is morally unsound. The U.S. does not own North Korea. If the U.S. has nuclear weapons, so may North Korea develop and have them. If the U.S. threatens North Korea with its might, so may North Korea threaten the U.S. Neither of these two states is a paragon of peace; neither is a Switzerland, a Monaco or a Lichtenstein. The U.S. cannot justify destroying North Korea again in order to remove a threat. It threatens massive destruction in return for a North Korean threat that need not ever occur if other routes are chosen. The Pence, Pompeo and Bolton behavior is extortion. If the U.S. ever actually plays the destruction of North Korea card, it’s a further strong signal of moral and practical failure at the empire’s periphery. The fact is that North Korea’s development of its bombs already shows that the U.S. empire has reached a limit, as with Iran, and cannot control a land on its periphery, a land that has allies in Russia and China.

Allowing South Korea and North Korea to negotiate their own peace and progress, with reasoned diplomacy by the U.S., is actually a way for the U.S. to preserve its empire and even extend it. Reasoned diplomacy means understanding the identity, the culture, the preferences and the goals of those on the other side. The stupid Pence, Pompeo and Bolton do not see this. They treat the North Koreans like some kind of mechanical puppet whose strings they can pull. Being ignorant, blind and insensitive to their opposition, they eschew real diplomacy. Our government is permeated with an attitude of superiority in which our excuses for diplomats consider other peoples in the world as children who need the strong and mature hand of the Americans to move beyond their adolescence. Pence, Pompeo and Bolton have this attitude and then some. They mistakenly think that force is the key element in managing the countries at the empire’s periphery.

9:33 am on May 24, 2018

The Cato Institute’s FBI Spy

That would be Stephen Halper, the FBI spy who infilitrated the Trump campaign for the Obama administration/Hillary Clinton campaign.

7:47 am on May 24, 2018

Pompeo’s First Demand on Iran Is 100% Junk

Some guy named Pompeo is now the U.S. Secretary of State. His fast ascent to power is a strong indication of his excellence in demagoguery. It is well always to remind ourselves that a demagogue is “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power”. This describes Pompeo and his boss, Donald Trump.

Pompeo has put his demagogic skills to work by making 12 demands on Iran. They are stupid, impossible, outrageous, and provocative. They are the opposite of diplomatic. They are also factually erroneous when they cite facts. The overall low level of this episode is shameful.

The first demand reads “Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.”

Iran already declared a full account of its nuclear-related activities to the IAEA, and the IAEA examined the case and gave Iran a clean bill of health. This occurred on Dec. 15, 2015. The IAEA declared

“The Agency assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003.

“The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.

“The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009. Nor has the Agency found any credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

Pompeo demagogues the issue to all Americans by acting as if this has never happened. He clearly defines himself as a man who is exceedingly dangerous to the safety of Americans.

Pompeo demands of Iran an impossibility, which is that it “permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.” Why should Iran, which is a signer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that actually allows a certain amount of peaceful nuclear-related activities, give up this option? Why should Iran ever permanently commit to giving up military nuclear options when it faces hostile forces? Would it not be senseless to lay the country open to external hostile elements? Why should Iran even consider the kind of verification that Pompeo has in mind, which involves intrusively entering Iran’s military facilities at the whim of the U.S.?

Pompeo demands sort of a one-sided “peace treaty” or “pseudo-agreement” to be entered into by Iran with a sanctions gun to its head.

Pompeo demands that Iran surrender to the U.S.

What Pompeo asks is an absurdity. It’s a lame excuse for hitting Iran at his discretion.

6:08 pm on May 23, 2018

US Names 18th Afghan War Commander – Are We Turning The Corner Yet?

12:52 pm on May 23, 2018

The U.S. Government Has Bombed So Many Muslims . . .

. . . that it’s running out of bombs and is worried that there may not be enough to bomb all the rest of the world with.  What a dilemma.

11:50 am on May 23, 2018

There’s Been Another Shooting, But No One is Calling for More Gun Control Because of It

I wonder why?  This time it was at Donald Trump’s Trump National Doral golf club in Miami.

1:12 pm on May 22, 2018

Pompeo’s Bombastic Iran Threats: A Sign Of Weakness?

12:38 pm on May 22, 2018

If Only It Could Spread to Cover All of D.C.

The sinkhole that has appeared on the White House lawn.

12:36 pm on May 22, 2018

Brainwashed and Coerced Into Wars

“The Flying Leathernecks” (1951) is a Howard Hughes film starring John Wayne and Robert Ryan. It’s about a Marine fighter squadron at Guadalcanal during World War II. The narrator at the start gives us the philosophy and mission of America going to war:

“This is the story of a group of young American men who comprised the Marine Fighter Squadron, VMF 247, men representing and represented by the American flag which flew at the base of a sleeping volcano; unmistakable evidence that our country, then as always, would fight against aggression and all the aggressors that challenged the rights of free men.”

“All the aggressors” means anyone, anywhere and at any time that the U.S. government says; whoever, wherever and whenever the U.S. government identifies what it calls aggression and leads the country into a war, under the flag of defending freedom. This is Hollywood propaganda.

Foreign peoples have their own societies and systems. In our biased eyes, they may well be unfree for ideological reasons. There is also an unavoidable economic reason. Other societies, like our own, are far from perfect upholders of the rights of free men, because upholding rights is a costly business. Enforcement of justice costs money. The state’s monopolistic role in it makes it even more costly.

But these imperfect foreign systems are not all threats to the rights of Americans, requiring Americans to go to war. The Koreans, the Vietnamese, the Russians, the Filipinos, the Haitians, the Cubans, the Panamanians, the El Salvadorans, the Mexicans, the Guatemalans, the Venezuelans, the Nicaraguans, the Chinese, the English, the French, the Syrians, the Libyans, the Iraqis and the Iranians do not have “the rights of free men”. Neither do we Americans. They are not threats to our own homemade ideas of liberty, requiring sacrificing ourselves in fights for freedom. That’s propaganda.

Actual invasions of rights elsewhere, in and among other countries, as well as the threats that they manufacture one against another, are not automatically threats to our system of rights. Self-defense against invasions of property rights is a limited concept of maintaining rights, not a boundless concept of extending rights worldwide. Anyway, the latter is propaganda. The actual purposes of meddling in foreign countries have little or nothing to do with extending justice to the affected peoples.

The State mobilizes public opinion in favor of war through events with large public signals, like the Maine, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the 38th Parallel, the Gulf of Tonkin, and 9/11. Lately the signals are terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Anthrax, Chemical warfare, genocide and nuclear proliferation. Pavlov rings the bell and we salivate. The State propagandizes. Our government justifies a war by using phrases like aggression against our rights and freedom. The public responds.

Apart from the Hollywood and Washington image, there is no purity and no nobility in fighting wars and making sacrifices that could have been avoided and that are not in self-defense; wars that are entered into with propaganda, calls for revenge, and battle cries ringing in our ears.

If Americans really believe and accept this, “…our country, then as always, would fight against aggression and all the aggressors that challenged the rights of free men”, it means we will have an empire until the costs break us and other countries unite against us.

8:52 am on May 22, 2018

Ryan McMaken and Mises Institute on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle (Monday 5.21.18)

Ryan goes up against Chris Hahn on whether there are more school shootings than ever before.

1:42 am on May 22, 2018

America: Trapped by the U.S. Empire

Pompeo’s speech today, making 12 demands upon Iran while threatening new sanctions, exemplifies an America trapped in the empire of its government’s making. Americans are hostages who have acquiesced. We can only escape our bonds by ending the empire.

Once an empire expands to take in numerous lands beyond the borders of its core country, its government (in this case, the U.S.) finds that its defense requires removing threats and potential threats in a host of places that are far from the core country, which is America, taking in these 50 states.

Pompeo says at the outset: “President Trump withdrew from the deal for a simple reason: it failed to guarantee the safety of the American people from the risk created by the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Pompeo misstates the reality. The American people or this country consisting of the 50 states, faces no safety risk from Iran. It’s the government, the U.S., that perceives the risk. America is not the U.S.; the U.S. is the government of America.

Although America, if it were shorn of its empire, and were reduced to its 50 states, faces no safety risk or military threat whatsoever from the IRI, when America is viewed as an empire with numerous overseas allies and obligations, then its leaders sense all sorts of distant threats and act against them. America is then trapped in the empire created by its own government, the U.S.

Pompeo and the rest of the foreign policy and defense establishment are men and women of empire. The Congress is too. This means that they do not act on behalf of America and Americans. They act on behalf of the empire. They are always giving us Americans a song and dance that they’re acting for our own good, our safety.

Iran presents absolutely no threat to America. By the U.S. empire, however, it’s conceived as a threat to its interests. America is trapped by its acquiescence to the U.S., which is the government controlling the empire.

6:13 pm on May 21, 2018

Deep State Coup Exposed: CIA Infiltrated Trump Campaign

12:57 pm on May 21, 2018

Marry Down or Else

What are you, some kind of social inequality bigot?

The Independent with a nice demonstration of the deep and reflexive mania of our age. People must not be allowed to do anything natural, comfortable, or (god forbid) instinctive. A New Man must emerge.

 

2:26 pm on May 20, 2018

The Problem with Conservatives

They think (correctly) that the Obama legacy deserves to be destroyed, but not the Bush legacy. And certainly not the Reagan legacy. But that’s not all. See my article “The Problem with Conservatives.”

2:24 pm on May 19, 2018

Wait for Regime Changes

Lately, we read of regime change in Iran: “As the White House formulates its official policy on Iran, senior officials and key allies of President Donald Trump are calling for the new administration to take steps to topple Tehran’s militant clerical government.” The idea is to change, not simply the leadership, but the very form of government. That is what is meant by regime change.

Toppling regimes from the outside is a policy of impatience. In many cases, regimes topple or at least change noticeably with the passage of time and the work of forces internal to a country. We may think of this internal process of change as being natural. It occurs as new generations of people arise who have different ideas and values. We can understand it by applying standard Austrian analysis of the characteristics of states.
(more…)

9:21 am on May 19, 2018

Another Mass Shooting in One of Government’s “Gun-Free Zones”

This time in Santa Fe, Texas.  God Bless the victims and their families and friends.

3:51 pm on May 18, 2018

Republicans Love Torture

Only three Senate Republicans opposed confirmation of Gina Haspel as the new CIA director: Rand Paul of Kentucky, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and John McCain of Arizona (McCain was in Arizona battling brain cancer and could not actually vote against her). Six Democrats, some facing reelection, voted with the majority of Republicans to confirm Bloody Gina.

I note: “Among those who supported her nomination were six former CIA directors — Porter Goss, John Brennan, Leon Panetta, George Tenet, William Webster and Mike Hayden — and three former national intelligence directors — James Clapper, Mike McConnell and John Negroponte.” All despicable creatures. What a surprise.

6:37 pm on May 17, 2018

It’s Not Memorial Day Yet

But if you are in the military, you can go to McDonalds today north of Orlando and get your free Quarter Pounder with Cheese Medium Extra Value Meal. This offer is good for today only, and I am not sure if all McDonalds restaurants are participating. Can’t wait to see how restaurants will top this when Memorial Day actually arrives.

5:55 pm on May 17, 2018

EU Breaks With Trump Over Iran: Good ‘Blowback’

12:48 pm on May 17, 2018

The Dumbest Political Quiz Ever

The Political Compass quiz. Libertarian economist Dan Mitchell took the quiz and comments:

I think two of the examples they provide are somewhat crazy. First, Hitler was the head of the National Socialist Workers Party and he belongs on the left side of the horizontal axis. Second, it’s absurd to have Thatcher anywhere near Stalin and Hitler on the vertical axis.

Some of the other results are very bizarre. First of all, Milton Friedman magically moved. Now he’s very libertarian on social issues, but squishy on economics. Needless to say, that’s nonsense. But not nearly as nonsensical as Benito Mussolini being on the far right for economic policy. That’s crazy. He was a strident opponent of capitalism. Likewise, they have Hillary Clinton on the right side of the spectrum for economic policy. The person who did that must have been on some crazy drugs at the time. And I’m not a Trump fan, but I think it’s laughable to have him ranked as more authoritarian than Mugabe, Mao, and Castro.

12:49 pm on May 16, 2018

The ‘Bolton Effect’: From Breakthrough To Breakdown With North Korea

12:45 pm on May 16, 2018

Hungarian Ambassador to US Tells It Like It Is

This is a fact-filled hour with countless myth-destroying facts and well-defended principles. Surprise! Hungary is Hungarian, and Hungarians are Catholics, and they want it to stay that way!

Of course, the socialist, US-taxpayer-funded “National Endowment for Democracy” objects and its well-paid experts bloviate: that’s **Undemocratic**!!

12:39 pm on May 16, 2018

Good News For a Change!

Congrats to the hard-working patriots at the Tenth Amendment Center! They’ve scored a huge win against the NSA in Michigan: legislators there passed “a law that arguably cuts the NSA off from local water and electricity. There isn’t a known NSA facility in Michigan, but the law’s author says it sends a clear message with a ban on state and local officials, including law enforcement and public utilities, cooperating with federal agencies that allegedly collect personal data without legal process.”

As Mike Maharrey, spokeman for the Tenth Amendment Center, says, “It’s encouraging to get the first one over the hurdle. In politics there’s a lot of copy-catting.”

Indeed. Here’s hoping your state and mine will mimic Michigan and protect us from the NSA, to my mind the greatest threat against liberty in all history.

4:25 pm on May 15, 2018

Gaza Violence: Blowback For Jerusalem?

1:31 pm on May 15, 2018