Monday, December 27, 2010

How Bradley Manning Spends His Days

In a statement issued by Manning's lawyer, David E. Coombs:
PFC Manning is currently being held in maximum custody. Since arriving at the Quantico Confinement Facility in July of 2010, he has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch.

His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length.

The cell has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet.

The guards at the confinement facility are professional. At no time have they tried to bully, harass, or embarrass PFC Manning. Given the nature of their job, however, they do not engage in conversation with PFC Manning.

At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7:00 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.

He is allowed to watch television during the day. The television stations are limited to the basic local stations. His access to the television ranges from 1 to 3 hours on weekdays to 3 to 6 hours on weekends.

He cannot see other inmates from his cell. He can occasionally hear other inmates talk. Due to being a pretrial confinement facility, inmates rarely stay at the facility for any length of time. Currently, there are no other inmates near his cell.

From 7:00 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., he is given correspondence time. He is given access to a pen and paper. He is allowed to write letters to family, friends, and his attorneys.

Each night, during his correspondence time, he is allowed to take a 15 to 20 minute shower.

On weekends and holidays, he is allowed to have approved visitors see him from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Read the rest.

Read David House's interview with Manning on December 18-19, 2010:
Manning related to me on December 19 2010 that his blankets are similar in weight and heft to lead aprons used in X-ray laboratories, and similar in texture to coarse and stiff carpet. He stated explicitly that the blankets are not soft in the least and expressed concern that he had to lie very still at night to avoid receiving carpet burns. The problem of carpet burns was exacerbated, he related, by the stipulation that he must sleep only in his boxer shorts as part of the longstanding POI order. Manning also stated on December 19 2010 that hallway-mounted lights shine through his window at night. This constant illumination is consistent with reports from attorney David Coombs’ blog that marines must visually inspect Manning as he sleeps. . . .
Based on Bradley Manning’s description of his detention to myself and to his attorney, there are clear, unavoidable contradictions with the Pentagon’s public statements about Manning. Because of the longstanding POI order, Manning is subjected to restrictions far beyond the minimum right of other “maximum custody” prisoners held in the same brig.

Since his arrest Bradley Manning has been neither a threat to himself nor others. Over the course of my visits to see Bradley in Quantico, it’s become increasingly clear that the severe, inhumane conditions of his detention are wearing on Manning. The extraordinary restrictions of Manning’s basic rights to sleep, exercise, and communicate under the Prevention of Injury order are unnecessary and should be lifted immediately.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Michael Moore Supports Julian Assange

On Tuesday, December 14, 2010, Michael Moore said he was posting $20,000 of his own money as bail for Julian Assange.  His reasons for doing so are consistent with libertarianism.
Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London , the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.

Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again. . . .
Openness, transparency -- these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. What if within days of August 4th, 1964 -- after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin -- there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today.
Instead, secrets killed them.

For those of you who think it's wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he's being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please -- never, ever believe the "official story." And regardless of Assange's guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here ), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money -- and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.

Might WikiLeaks cause some unintended harm to diplomatic negotiations and U.S. interests around the world? Perhaps. But that's the price you pay when you and your government take us into a war based on a lie. Your punishment for misbehaving is that someone has to turn on all the lights in the room so that we can see what you're up to. You simply can't be trusted. So every cable, every email you write is now fair game. Sorry, but you brought this upon yourself. No one can hide from the truth now. No one can plot the next Big Lie if they know that they might be exposed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mercola: FNB's Vitamin D recommendations far too low

Joseph Mercola:
On November 30, 2010, the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) released their updated recommendations for vitamin D (and calcium), which has sent shockwaves of disappointment through natural health community.

According to the FNB, the new recommended daily allowance (RDA) for pregnant women and adults up to 70 years of age is the same as that for infants and children – a measly 600 IU's. This despite the overwhelming evidence showing that vitamin D is extremely important for a wide variety of health conditions besides bone health, and that most people need about ten times this amount or more.

Rothbard: Libertarians Hate the State

Murray Rothbard (Originally published in The Libertarian Forum, Vol. 10, No. 7, July, 1977):
I have been ruminating recently on what are the crucial questions that divide libertarians. Some that have received a lot of attention in the last few years are: anarcho-capitalism vs. limited government, abolitionism vs. gradualism, natural rights vs. utilitarianism, and war vs. peace. But I have concluded that as important as these questions are, they don’t really cut to the nub of the issue, of the crucial dividing line between us.

Let us take, for example, two of the leading anarcho-capitalist works of the last few years: my own For a New Liberty and David Friedman’s Machinery of Freedom. Superficially, the major differences between them are my own stand for natural rights and for a rational libertarian law code, in contrast to Friedman’s amoralist utilitarianism and call for logrolling and trade-offs between non-libertarian private police agencies. But the difference really cuts far deeper. There runs through For a New Liberty (and most of the rest of my work as well) a deep and pervasive hatred of the State and all of its works, based on the conviction that the State is the enemy of mankind. In contrast, it is evident that David does not hate the State at all; that he has merely arrived at the conviction that anarchism and competing private police forces are a better social and economic system than any other alternative. Or, more fully, that anarchism would be better than laissez-faire which in turn is better than the current system. Amidst the entire spectrum of political alternatives, David Friedman has decided that anarcho-capitalism is superior. But superior to an existing political structure which is pretty good too. In short, there is no sign that David Friedman in any sense hates the existing American State or the State per se, hates it deep in his belly as a predatory gang of robbers, enslavers, and murderers. No, there is simply the cool conviction that anarchism would be the best of all possible worlds, but that our current set-up is pretty far up with it in desirability. For there is no sense in Friedman that the State – any State – is a predatory gang of criminals.

Ron Paul: Wikileaks controversy a diversion

Ron Paul:
We should view the WikiLeaks controversy in the larger context of American foreign policy. Rather than worry about the disclosure of embarrassing secrets, we should focus on our delusional foreign policy. We are kidding ourselves when we believe spying, intrigue, and outright military intervention can maintain our international status as a superpower while our domestic economy crumbles in an orgy of debt and monetary debasement.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Assange and Wikileaks - Dec. 8, 2010

STD Fears Sparked Assange Case blog post by Michael S. Rozeff

WikiLeaks No Threat to Free Society by Steve Greenhut

The Wikileaks sex files

Still Not Convinced on Amazon Boycott by Bob Murphy

Don't Shoot Messenger for Revealing Uncomfortable Truths by Julian Assange

Australia blames U.S. for leaks, Assange in U.K. Jail - Reuters - "Suspected attacks by hackers sympathetic to Assange and against censorship brought down the websites of the prosecution Swedish authority and of Borgstrom's law office."

MasterCard site partially frozen by hackers in WikiLeaks 'revenge' - The Guardian - Operation: Payback' hacks into MasterCard site over payment network's decision to cease taking donations to WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange is denied bail - USA Today - "Visa said it would 'suspend Visa payment acceptance on WikiLeaks' website pending investigation into the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules.' MasterCard said it would suspend payments 'until the situation is resolved.' PayPal, a popular online payment service, has already cut its links to the website, and Swiss authorities closed Assange's new Swiss bank account on Monday, freezing tens of thousands of euros, according to his lawyers.

"WikiLeaks is still soliciting donations through bank transfers to affiliates in Iceland and Germany, as well as by mail to an address in Australia, Assange's birthplace."

Why WikiLeaks Is Winning Its Info War By MASSIMO CALABRESI, Time -  "First, the U.S. government pushed WikiLeaks off the servers of Amazon, its U.S. host — thanks in part to an effort by the office of Senator Joe Lieberman, who heads the Senate Homeland Security Committee. After the rogue site was pushed off a smaller, backup host in the U.S., it moved first to a Swiss domain, then to a simple numeric one. WikiLeaks has complained, and some news outlets have reported, about apparent hacker attacks against the website. The effect of all that pressure, however, was very much like cutting the head off the mythical Hydra. By Tuesday evening, WikiLeaks listed 507 Web addresses that it said were hosting the site worldwide."

TIME's Julian Assange Interview - Richard Stengel - "JA: This organization [Wikileaks] in its four years of publishing history — we don't need to speculate, it has a history — has never caused an individual, as far as we can determine or as far anyone else can determine, to come to any sort of physical harm or to be wrongly imprisoned and so on. That is a record compared to the organizations that we are trying to expose who have literally been involved in the deaths of hundreds or thousands or, potentially over the course of many years, millions."

Truth in Chains by Chris Floyd - "It has been, by any standard, an extraordinary campaign of vilification and persecution, wholly comparable to the kind of treatment doled out to dissidents in China or Burma. Lest we forget, WikiLeaks is a journalistic outlet – just like The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, all of whom are even now publishing the very same material – leaked classified documents -- available on WikiLeaks."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mises on the Early Days of the Industrial Revolution

Remarks About the Popular Interpretation of the "Industrial Revolution"
Ludwig von Mises
Human Action, Scholar’s Edition, pp. 613-619

It is generally asserted that the history of modern industrialism and especially the history of the British "Industrial Revolution" provide an empirical verification of the "realistic" or "institutional" doctrine and utterly explode the "abstract" dogmatism of the economists. (13)

The economists flatly deny that labor unions and government prolabor legislation can and did lastingly benefit the whole class of wage earners and raise their standard of living. But the facts, say the anti-economists, have refuted these fallacies. The statesman and legislators who enacted the factory acts displayed a better insight into reality than the economists. While laissez-faire philosophy, without pity and compassion, taught that the sufferings of the toiling masses are unavoidable, the commonsense of laymen succeeded in quelling the worst excesses of profit-seeking business. The improvement in the conditions of the workers is entirely an achievement of governments and labor unions.

Such are the ideas permeating most of the historical studies dealing with the evolution of modern industrialism. The authors begin by sketching an idyllic image of conditions as they prevailed on the eve of the "Industrial Revolution." At that time, they tell us, things were, by and large, satis- factory. The peasants were happy. So also were the industrial workers under the domestic system. They worked in their own cottages and en- joyed a certain economic independence since they owned a garden plot and their tools. But then "the Industrial Revolution fell like a war or a plague" on these people.(14) The factory system reduced the free worker to virtual slavery; it lowered his standard of living to the level of bare subsistence; in cramming women and children into the mills it destroyed family life and sapped the very foundations of society, morality, and public health. A small minority of ruthless exploiters had cleverly succeeded in imposing their yoke upon the immense majority.

The truth is that economic conditions were highly unsatisfactory on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. The traditional social system was not elastic enough to provide for the needs of a rapidly increasing population. Neither farming nor the guilds had any use for the additional hands. Business was imbued with the inherited spirit of privilege and exclusive monopoly; its institutional foundations were licenses and the grant of a patent of monopoly; its philosophy was restriction and the prohibition of competition both domestic and foreign. The number of people for whom there was no room left in the rigid system of paternalism and government tutelage of business grew rapidly. They were virtually outcasts. The apathetic majority of these wretched people lived from the crumbs that fell from the tables of the established castes. In the harvest season they earned a trifle by occasional help on farms; for the rest they depended upon private charity and communal poor relief. Thousands of the most vigorous youths of these strata were pressed into the service of the Royal Army and Navy; many of them were killed or maimed in action; many more perished ingloriously from the hardships of the barbarous discipline, from tropical diseases, or from syphilis. (15) Other thousands, the boldest and most ruthless of their class, infested the country as vagabonds, beggars, tramps, robbers, and prostitutes. The authorities did not know of any means to cope with these individuals other than the poorhouse and the workhouse. The support the government gave to the popular resentment against the introduction of new inventions and labor-saving devices made things quite hopeless.

The factory system developed in a continuous struggle against innumerable obstacles. It had to fight popular prejudice, old established customs, legally binding rules and regulations, the animosity of the authorities, the vested interests of privileged groups, the envy of the guilds. The capital equipment of the individual firms was insufficient, the provision of credit extremely difficult and costly. Technological and commercial experience was lacking. Most factory owners failed; comparatively few succeeded. Profits were sometimes considerable, but so were losses. It took many decades until the common practice of reinvesting the greater part of profits earned accumulated adequate capital for the conduct of affairs on a broader scale.

That the factories could thrive in spite of all these hindrances was due to two reasons. First there were the teachings of the new social philosophy expounded by the economists. They demolished the prestige of Mercantilism, paternalism, and restrictionism. They exploded the superstitious belief that labor-saving devices and processes cause unemployment and reduce all people to poverty and decay. The laissez-faire economists were the pioneers of the unprecedented technological achievements of the last two hundred years.

Then there was another factor that weakened the opposition to innovations. The factories freed the authorities and the ruling landed aristocracy from an embarrassing problem that had grown too large for them. They provided sustenance for the masses of paupers. They emptied the poor houses, the workhouses, and the prisons. They converted starving beggars into self-supporting breadwinners.
The factory owners did not have the power to compel anybody to take a factory job. They could only hire people who were ready to work for the wages offered to them. Low as these wage rates were, they were nonetheless much more than these paupers could earn in any other field open to them. It is a distortion of facts to say that the factories carried off the housewives from the nurseries and the kitchens and the children from their play. These women had nothing to cook with and to feed their children. These children were destitute and starving. Their only refuge was the factory. It saved them, in the strict sense of the term, from death by starvation.

It is deplorable that such conditions existed. But if one wants to blame those responsible, one must not blame the factory owners who - driven by selfishness, of course, and not by "altruismn” - did all they could to eradicate the evils. What had caused these evils was the economic order of the pre-capitalistic era, the order of the "good old days."

In the first decades of the Industrial Revolution the standard of living of the factory workers was shockingly bad when compared with the contemporary conditions of the upper classes and with the present conditions of the industrial masses. Hours of work were long, the sanitary conditions in the workshops deplorable. The individual's capacity to work was used up rapidly. But the fact remains that for the surplus population which the enclosure movement had reduced to dire wretchedness and for which there was literally no room left in the frame of the prevailing system of production, work in the factories was salvation. These people thronged into the plants for no reason other than the urge to improve their standard of living.

The laissez-faire ideology and its offshoot, the "Industrial Revolution," blasted the ideological and institutional barriers to progress and welfare. They demolished the social order in which a constantly increasing number of people were doomed to abject need and destitution. The processing trades of earlier ages had almost exclusively catered to the wants of the well-to-do. Their expansion was limited by the amount of luxuries the wealthier strata of the population could afford. Those not engaged in the production of primary commodities could earn a living only as far as the upper classes were disposed to utilize their skill and services.

But now a different principle came into operation. The factory system inaugurated a new mode of marketing as well as of production. Its characteristic feature was that the manufactures were not designed for the consumption of a few well-to-do only, but for the consumption of those who had hitherto played but a negligible role as consumers. Cheap things for the many, was the objective of the factory system. The classical factory of the early days of the Industrial Revolution was the cotton mill. Now, the cotton goods it turned out were not something the rich were asking for. These wealthy people clung to silk, linen, and cambric. Whenever the factory with its methods of mass production by means of power-driven machines invaded a new branch of production, it started with the production of cheap goods for the broad masses. The factories turned to the production of more refined and therefore more expensive goods only at a later stage, when the unprecedented improvement in the masses' standard of living which they caused made it profitable to apply the methods of mass production also to these better articles. Thus, for instance, the factory-made shoe was for many years bought only by the "proletarians" while the wealthier consumers continued to patronize the custom shoemakers. The much talked about sweatshops did not produce clothes for the rich, but for people in modest circumstances. The fashionable ladies and gentlemen preferred and still do prefer custom-made frocks and suits.

The outstanding fact about the Industrial Revolution is that it opened an age of mass production for the needs of the masses. The wage earners are no longer people toiling merely for other people's well-being. They themselves are the main consumers of the products the factories turn out. Big business depends upon mass consumption. There is, in present-day America, not a single branch of big business that would not cater to the needs of the masses. The very principle of capitalist entrepreneurship is to provide for the common man. In his capacity as consumer the common man is the sovereign whose buying or abstention from buying decides the fate of entrepreneurial activities. There is in the market economy no other means of acquiring and preserving wealth than by supplying the masses in the best and cheapest way with all the goods they ask for.

Blinded by their prejudices, many historians and writers have entirely failed to recognize this fundamental fact. As they see it, wage earners toil for the benefit of other people. They never raise the question who these "other" people are.

Mr. and Mrs. Hammond tell us that the workers were happier in 1760 than they were in 1830. (16)  This is an arbitrary value judgment. There is no means of comparing and measuring the happiness of different people and of the same people at different times. We may agree for the sake of argument that an individual who was born in 1740 was happier in 1760 than in 1830. But let us not forget that in 1770 (according to the estimate of Arthur Young) England had 8.5 million inhabitants, while in 1831 (according to the census) the figure was 16 million. (17)  This conspicuous increase was mainly conditioned by the Industrial Revolution. With regard to these additional Englishmen the assertion of the eminent historians can only be approved by those who endorse the melancholy verses of Sophocles: "Not to be born is, beyond all question, the best; but when a man has once seen the light of day, this is next best, that speedily he should return to that place whence he came."

The early industrialists were for the most part men who had their origin in the same social strata from which their workers came. They lived very modestly, spent only a fraction of their earnings for their households and put the rest back into the business. But as the entrepreneurs grew richer, the sons of successful businessmen began to intrude into the circles of the ruling class. The highborn gentlemen envied the wealth of the parvenus and resented their sympathies with the reform movement. They hit back by investigating the material and moral conditions of the factory hands and enacting factory legislation.

The history of capitalism in Great Britain as well as in all other capitalist countries is a record of an unceasing tendency toward the improvement in the wage earners' standard of living. This evolution coincided with the development of pro-labor legislation and the spread of labor unionism on the one hand and with the increase in the marginal productivity of labor on the other hand. The economists assert that the improvement in the workers' material conditions is due to the increase in the per capita quota of capital invested and the technological achievements which the employment of this additional capital brought about. As far as labor legislation and union pressure did not exceed the limits of what the workers would have got without them as a necessary consequence of the acceleration of capital accumulation as compared with population, they were superfluous. As far as they exceeded these limits, they were harmful to the interests of the masses. They delayed the accumulation of capital thus slowing down the tendency toward a rise in the marginal productivity of labor and in wage rates. They conferred privileges on some groups of wage earners at the expense of other groups. They created mass unemployment and decreased the amount of products available for the workers in their capacity as consumers.

The apologists of government interference with business and of labor unionism ascribe all the improvements in the conditions of the workers to the actions of governments and unions. Except for them, they contend, the workers' standard of living would be no higher today than it was in the early years of the factory system.

It is obvious that this controversy cannot be settled by appeal to historical experience. With regard to the establishment of the facts there is no disagreement between the two groups. Their antagonism concerns the interpretation of events, and this interpretation must be guided by the theory chosen. The epistemological and logical considerations which determine the correctness or incorrectness of a theory are logically and temporally antecedent to the elucidation of the historical problem involved. The historical facts as such neither prove nor disprove any theory. They need to be interpreted in the light of theoretical insight.

Most of the authors who wrote the history of the conditions of labor under capitalism were ignorant of economics and boasted of this ignorance. However, this contempt for sound economic reasoning did not mean that they approached the topic of their studies without prepossession and without bias in favor of any theory. They were guided by the popular fallacies concerning governnental omnipotence and the alleged blessings of labor unionism. It is beyond question that the Webbs as well as Lujo Brentano and a host of minor authors were at the very start of their studies imbued with a fanatical dislike of the market economy and an enthusiastic endorsement of the doctrines of socialism and interventionism. They were certainly honest and sincere in their convictions and tried to do their best. Their candor and probity exonerates them as individuals; it does not exonerate them as historians. However pure the intentions of a historian may be, there is no excuse for his recourse to fallacious doctrines. The first duty of a historian is to examine with the utmost care all the doctrines to which he resorts in dealing with the subject matter of his work. If he neglects to do this and naively espouses the garbled and confused ideas of popular opinion, he is not a historian but an apologist and propagandist. 

The antagonism between the two opposite points of view is not merely a historical problem. It refers no less to the most burning problems of the present day. It is the matter of controversy in what is called in present-day America the problem of industrial relations.

Let us stress one aspect of the matter only. Vast areas -- Eastern Asia, the East Indies, Southern and Southeastern Europe, Latin America -- are only superficially affected by modern capitalism. Conditions in these countries [in mid-twentieth century] by and large do not differ from those of England on the eve of the "Industrial Revolution." There are millions and millions of people for whom there is no secure place left in the traditional economic setting. The fate of these wretched masses can be improved only by industrialization. What they need most is entrepreneurs and capitalists. As their own foolish policies have deprived these nations of the further enjoyment of the assistance imported foreign capital hitherto gave them, they must embark upon domestic capital accumulation. They must go through all the stages through which the evolution of Western industrialism had to pass. They must start with comparatively low wage rates and long hours of work. But, deluded by the doctrines prevailing in present-day Western Europe and North America, their statesmen think that they can proceed in a different way. They encourage labor-union pressure and alleged pro-labor legislation. Their interventionist radicalism nips in the bud all attempts to create domestic industries. These men do not comprehend that industrialization cannot begin with the adoption of the precepts of the International Labor Office and the principles of the American Congress of Industrial Organizations. Their stubborn dogmatism spells the doom of the Indian and Chinese coolies, the Mexican peons, and millions of other peoples, desperately struggling on the verge of starvation.

(13)  The attribution of the phrase "the Industrial Revolution" to the reigns of the two last Hanoverian Georges was the outcome of deliberate attempts to melodramatize economic history in order to fit it into the Procrustean Marxian schemes. The transition from medieval methods of production to those of the free enterprise system was a long process that started centuries before 1760 and, even in England, was not finished in 1830. Yet, it is true that England's industrial development was considerably accelerated in the second half of the eighteenth century. It is therefore permissible to use the term "Industrial Revolution" in the examination of the emotional connotations with which Fabianism, Marxism, the Historical School, and Institutionalism have loaded it.

(14) J. L. Hammond and Barbara Hammond, The Skilled Labourer 1760-1832 (2nd ed. London, 1920) p. 4.

(15)  In the Seven Years War 1,512 British seamen were killed in battle while 133,708 died of disease or were missing.  Cf. W.L.Dorn, Competition for Empire 1740-1763 (New York, 1940), p. 114
(16)  J. L. Hammond and Barbara Hammond, loc. cit.

(17)  F. C . Dietz, An Economic History of England (New York, 1942), pp. 279 and 392.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wikileaks takes Obama at his word

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the "release of hundreds of thousands of confidential diplomatic cables by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks" "tears at the fabric" of government.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder "condemned the disclosures as having put at risk the safety of diplomats and other American government personnel."

"Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, called the release very damaging to U.S. interests."

But "New York Times Editor Bill Keller defended the release of the information, telling All Things Considered co-host Robert Siegel 'it's history in real time.'"

And President Obama?  On January 21, 2009 he made this announcement to his senior staff and cabinet secretaries:

For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but those who seek to make it known.
Emphasis added.  No doubt Hillary would say I'm taking his remark out of context.

To no one's surprise, Wikileaks web site came under a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack on Sunday, "just as it was publishing the first of what it says are 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables. Such attacks normally are done by flooding a website with requests for data."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New CPR Technique

Developed at the University of Arizona, the continuous chest compression technique is more effective and easier to administer.  Watch the six-minute video for details.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Senator Jay Rockeller Praises TSA Chief

Being a creature of government the TSA is not subject to the market forces of competition and profit and loss.  It is instead sustained by the government methods of coercion and propaganda.  If it were a market entity its stock would've plummeted and it would likely be filing for protection under Chapter 11.  But due to popular demand the market's voice has been silenced because it is allegedly flawed and opposed to the interests of the general public.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate committee overseeing air travel, praised TSA chief John Pistole during a Senate hearing recently:  "I Think You're Doing A Terrific Job."

This is reminiscent of Bush's comment about Mike Brown, the former FEMA head, following that agency's predictable ineptitude in handling the Katrina disaster: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Three days after Bush's comment, the embattled Brown turned in his resignation.  But FEMA is still with us, with more muscle and more money.

Someday a U.S. military exercise will go seriously awry and a major city will get wiped out.  Will the president use his bully pulpit to reassure us of the fine job the military is doing to secure our precious freedoms?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Longest Home Run Ever

ESPN’s John Brenkus did some calculations that would seemingly making hitting a home run in major league baseball a virtual impossibility.  I would say something is missing from his calculations.  He might agree.

A pitcher throwing a fastball at 99 mph will get the ball to home plate in 395 milliseconds.  It takes 400 milliseconds to blink. 
A lot has to happen in those 395 milliseconds. It takes the first 100 just for the batter to see the ball in free flight and get an image of it to his brain. If a decision is made to swing, the batter generally has a grand total of 150 milliseconds to get the bat around and through the strike zone.
There's more:
And even if his timing is perfect, he still has to put the “sweet spot” of the bat within an eighth of an inch of the correct spot on the ball. To give you an idea of the margin of error, the width of an average pencil is twice as big as the margin of error on a major league bat.
Most pitchers don't throw at 99 mph, but you get the idea.  And it makes Mickey Mantle's feat of hitting a 565-foot homer on April 17, 1953 all the more mind-boggling.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Police States Implode

Gary North writes:
The police State is doomed. It cannot possibly keep up with the constant innovation of society. It cannot gain access to enough resources to maintain control. It wastes the resources it commandeers.

The free market is winning. The attempts of the Federal Reserve and Congress to delay the readjustment of capital pricing goes on, but these attempts are not bringing the promised recovery.

The voters are growing restless. They have been promised miracles by the politicians. These promises are visibly disintegrating. We are seeing a loss of faith.

 The key to government control is voluntary compliance. Without self-government, the civil government cannot exercise control. Self-government relies on widespread trust far more than widespread fear.

Widespread trust is fading. Widespread fear will fade with it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

All about sugar

I read an article in Reader's Digest many years ago titled Killer Sugar.  It's probably outdated in many respects but not in its conclusion, as expressed in the article's title.  But sugar takes many forms and not all are equally bad, and its effects on our health can be moderated by other foods we eat.  Raw honey, for example, has a glycemic index (GI) of about 30, which is considered low and relatively safe, whereas baked potatoes, watermelon, corn flakes, and white bread are in the high GI range of 70 and above.  From Wikipedia:
The glycemic index, glycaemic index, or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI.

A low-GI food will release glucose more slowly and steadily. A high-GI food causes a more rapid rise in blood glucose levels and is suitable for energy recovery after endurance exercise or for a person experiencing hypoglycemia.

The glycemic effect of foods depends on a number of factors such as the type of starch (amylose versus amylopectin), physical entrapment of the starch molecules within the food, fat and protein content of the food and organic acids or their salts in the meal — adding vinegar, for example, will lower the GI. The presence of fat or soluble dietary fiber can slow the gastric emptying rate, thus lowering the GI. In general, unrefined breads with higher amounts of fiber have a lower GI value than white breads. Many brown breads, however, are treated with enzymes to soften the crust, which makes the starch more accessible (high GI).

While adding butter or oil will lower the GI of a meal, the GI ranking does not change. That is, with or without additions, there is still a higher blood glucose curve after white bread than after a low-GI bread such as pumpernickel.
Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple has published what he calls The Definitive Guide to Sugar.  Here is his list of warnings about sugar:
  • Sugar stimulates a physiological stressor-reaction cascade that provokes adrenaline and cortisol release and thickens the blood.
  • Sugar effectively disables your immune system by impairing white blood cells’ functioning.
  • Sugar decreases your body’s production of leptin, a hormone critical for appetite regulation.
  • Sugar induces significant oxidative stress in the body.
  • Sugar appears to fuel cancer cells. **[See below] (Check out Free the Animal for much more on the cancer connection.) [In particular, see this article.]
  • Sugar promotes fat storage and weight gain.
  • Sugar disrupts the effective transfer of amino acids to muscle tissue.
  • Sugar intake over time spurs insulin resistance, subsequent Type II diabetes and the entire host of related health issues like nerve damage and cardiovascular disease.
And sugar is also addictive. Sisson writes:
A common theory says that we evolved to crave sweet tastes in order to seek out healthy fruits to diversify our diets. The problem comes in the current age when our inclination is bombarded with the likes of Coco Puffs, Snickers and pudding packs. . . .
Sugar raises serotonin levels, and that boost can easily figure into [your sugar] cravings. But guess what? Exercise raises serotonin as well. If you can, plan your workouts around the time of day when cravings tend to hit.
Read his post.

** "The quest is not to eliminate sugars or carbohydrates from the diet but rather to control blood glucose within a narrow range to help starve the cancer and bolster immune function.  The glycemic index is a measure of how a given food affects blood-glucose levels, with each food assigned a numbered rating. The lower the rating, the slower the digestion and absorption process, which provides a healthier, more gradual infusion of sugars into the bloodstream."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Teaching your kids about the state

Lew Rockwell published an outstanding satire from the late Joseph Sobran today. How do you educate your kids on the true nature of the modern state?  Sobran tells how he did it:
When your child is a little older, you can teach him about our tax system in a way that is easy to grasp. Offer him, say, $10 to mow the lawn. When he has mowed it and asks to be paid, withhold $5 and explain that this is income tax. Give $1 to his younger brother, and tell him that this is "fair." Also, explain that you need the other $4 yourself to cover the administrative costs of dividing the money. When he cries, tell him he is being "selfish" and "greedy." Later in life he will thank you.
Make as many rules as possible. Leave the reasons for them obscure. Enforce them arbitrarily. Accuse your child of breaking rules you have never told him about. Keep him anxious that he may be violating commands you haven't yet issued. Instill in him the feeling that rules are utterly irrational. This will prepare him for living under democratic government.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Tea Party won't save us

To many, the Tea Party looks like the ideal weapon to extinguish the ruinous policies of the establishment.  But as Lew Rockwell explains, this won't happen.  First, many Tea Party members hold inconsistent views on liberty. 
Its activists tend to be good on specific economic issues like taxes, spending, stimulus, and healthcare. They worry about government intervention in these areas and can talk a good game.

But just as with old-time conservatives, there are many issues on which the Tea Party tends toward inconsistency. The military and the issue of war is a major one. Many have bought into the line that the greatest threat this country faces domestically is the influx of adherents of Islam; in international politics, they tend to favor belligerence toward any regime that is not a captive of US political control.

On immigration, the Tea Party ethos favors national IDs and draconian impositions on businesses rather than market solutions like cutting welfare. On social and cultural issues, they can be as confused as the Christian Right, believing that it is the job of government to right all wrongs and punish sin.
Then there is the problem of what happens to defenders of liberty when they win an election:
They are leaned on by their new colleagues, the party elites, related financial interests, the press, and the entire system of which they are now part. Are they going to make themselves enemies of that system, or are they going to work within the system in order to achieve reform, and not just for one term but more terms down the line? Doing a good job means being part of the structure; doing a bad job means being an enemy of the very system that they now serve.

Which choice do they make? The same choice that everyone else in office makes (Ron Paul being the lone exception in all of human history). It is for this reason that newly seated "revolutionary" politicians will betray those who put them in power. It happens like clockwork, same as day turns to night.
Rockwell concludes: "We can state with confidence, all else being equal, that even the best electoral outcome will not lead to actual cuts in the power of government over our lives." 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Has US Become a True Police State?

In an essay called "It Is Official: The US Is a Police State," one of my favorite writers, Paul Craig Roberts, argues that:
An American Police State was inevitable once Americans let “their” government get away with 9/11. Americans are too gullible, too uneducated, and too jingoistic to remain a free people. As another Nazi leader Herman Goering said, “ The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace-makers for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger.”

This is precisely what the Bush and Obama regimes have done. America, as people of my generation knew it, no longer exists.
In a true police state, a libertarian like Ron Paul would be eliminated from public view.  He would not be appearing frequently on TV.  He wouldn't appear at all.  He would be silenced.  The government always has various options, and it might decide to murder him, as it likely did JFK.  The important point is, it would not only have the power to silence him, it would exercise that power.  So far it hasn't.  He's getting the rabble roused, but other than that he's harmless.  Big government marches on.  Let him talk.  The fact that he has little effect will prove that people want government to grow indefintiely.  Slavery will seem like the people's choice. 

In a true police state, the internet would be controlled to the point that no serious criticism of the government would be tolerated; an article like PCR's would be censored and its author arrested for providing "material support" to terrorism.  Lew Rockwell would find his website shut down.  This blog wouldn't exist.  A growing government crushes what remains of our liberty, it will never stop, and it has every reason to be pleased with its progress, but there's still work to do.

As we move closer to a one-world superstate and a global central banking system printing money at will, the prospects for complete state control of our lives in an Orwellian sense becomes more realistic.  Almost no one believes "1984" is a plausible scenario, which is one reason it becomes increasingly plausible.  Did the German people of 1927 foresee the Germany of 1939?  The Russian people foresee the horror of Stalin?

We're in deep trouble, but we still have a fighting chance.  Government is doing everything wrong to get the economy moving again.  As painful as this will be, the coming implosion may be our best hope for diluting the power of the state.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Establishment has good reason to worry

In an email today from John Tate, president of Campaign for Liberty, he notes some of the recent defeats the pro-government forces have suffered:

Dear Friend of Liberty,

This isn’t a good year to be part of the establishment.

Millions of Americans have had enough of runaway spending, shadowy Federal Reserve agreements, and lack of any respect for constitutional limits.

Legislators are used to hearing from angry constituents.

They’re not accustomed to watching one another be sent into early retirement.

Pro-TARP Senator Bob Bennett didn’t even make it out of the Utah Republican convention in early May to be eligible for another term. Audit the Fed supporter and Tea Party-backed Mike Lee was eventually chosen by Republican voters to be their nominee.

Pro-ObamaCare Democrat Senator Blanche Lincoln just barely survived her primary and now trails her Republican challenger.

Florida’s Charlie Crist bolted from the Republican Party for an Independent run to keep his Senate hopes alive. His poll numbers and political future are now in a free fall as he scrambles to repudiate virtually every issue he once claimed to support.

Senate candidate Rand Paul handily defeated Kentucky’s Secretary of State Trey Grayson (who had been crowned the nominee by Washington GOP insiders months before the vote) in the Republican primary and leads Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in general election polling.

After he switched parties just to save his political career, Arlen Specter lost to Joe Sestak in the Pennsylvania Democrat Senate primary in May.

Ken Buck defeated GOP establishment-supported Jane Norton in the Colorado Republican Senate primary.

Sharron Angle is facing off against pro-Big Government and anti-Audit the Fed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after defeating early favorite Sue Lowden in the Nevada primary.

In Alaska, Republican candidate and another pro-Audit the Fed Republican, Joe Miller, came out of relative obscurity to defeat pro-TARP incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the Senate primary.

And just this past week, despite fierce attacks from Republican Party insiders, Christine O’Donnell shocked the establishment by defeating pro-Patriot Act, pro-Brady Bill, and pro-Cap and Tax Representative Mike Castle for the right to run for Joe Biden’s old Senate seat.

Karl Rove, who we know is a genius (or so we’ve been repeatedly told), exemplified the insiders’ reaction to what has been happening by trying to sabotage O’Donnell after she won. A day later, and facing a backlash from angry tea partiers (as well as a long-deserved loss of credibility), Rove switched gears to support O’Donnell.

Today, hundreds of grassroots activists are gathering in Richmond, Virginia to join Judge Andrew Napolitano in taking a stand for states’ rights and against an out of control federal government. They’re not only hearing some powerful speeches but are participating in training sessions to learn proven techniques to reclaim the Republic beginning in their own backyards.

Much to Congress’ chagrin, we’re not stopping at contacting legislators over the phone and via email.

C4L is getting the word out about where office holders and candidates stand on the issues that are important to us through our survey program. Our members are taking part in public forums, running for local and national office, knocking on doors to sign up more concerned citizens to take action, and spreading the message that we will no longer allow our lives to be centrally planned from Washington, D.C.

Simply stated... we’re taking the fight directly to the statists.

They’re worried about what’s coming in November and beyond. And rightly so.

We’re just getting warmed up.

In Liberty,

John Tate


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eric Margolis on 9-11-01

"If the official story about 9/11 is true, the attacks caught the Bush administration asleep on guard duty." - Eric Margolis, 9-11-10.

He adds:
On 28 February, 1933, fire, set by a Dutch Jew, ravaged the Germany’s parliament, the Reichstag. While the Reichstag’s ruins were still smoking, Adolf Hitler’s government declared a war against "terrorism." A "Decree for the Protection of People and State" was promulgated suspending all legal protections of speech, assembly, property, and personal liberties. The Reichstag fire allowed the government to round up "terrorism" suspects without due process of law and made police powers near absolute.

Sound familiar? . . . .

So what, in the end, can we conclude?
1. We still do not know the real story about 9/11.
2. The official version is not credible.
3. 9/11 was used to justify invading strategic Afghanistan and oil-rich Iraq.
4. The attacks plunged America into wars against the Muslim world and enriched the US arms industry.
5. 9/11 boosted pro-Israel neoconservatives, formerly a fringe group, into power, and with them America’s totalitarian far right.
6. Bush’s unprovoked war against Iraq destroyed one of Israel’s two main enemies.
7. 9/11 put America in what may turn out to be a permanent state of war with the Muslim world – a key goal of the neoconservatives .

But I’ve seen no hard evidence to date that 9/11 was a plot by America’s far right or by Israel or a giant cover-up. Just, perhaps, the Mother of All Coincidences. In the end, it may just have been 19 angry Arabs and a bumbling Bush administration looking for someone else to blame.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rising Sea Levels? A Big Lie

As man-made emissions warm the globe, the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps will melt and bring on the Apocalypse, unless governments impose draconian spending and regulatory measures to slow the process. According to a UN commission the sea level will rise some 17 inches by year 2100. According to Al Gore, the the level will increase by 20 feet. Tiny island nations will vanish. Certain cities like San Francisco and Shanghai will be half under water.

Dissent from this view is not tolerated in Establishment circles, but yet we have dissenters. One who thinks differently on sea level changes is Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner. Mörner is the former chairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change. He has been studying sea level changes across the planet for 35 years and says the talk about catastrophic sea changes is one big scare story.

Read about it here.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wikileaks exposes the racket of war

These three articles (among others) explain how the heroics of Wikileaks may SAVE American lives:

1. Thank God for the Whistle-Blowers by Robert Sheer
What the documents exposed is the depth of chicanery that surrounds the Afghanistan occupation at every turn because we have stumbled into a regional quagmire of such dark and immense proportions that any attempt to connect this failed misadventure with a recognizable U.S. national security interest is doomed. What is revealed on page after page is that none of the local actors, be they labeled friend or foe, give a whit about our president’s agenda. They are focused on prizes, passions and causes that are obsessively homegrown.

2. WikiLeaks: Who's Hiding What and Why by Fred Reed
Two ways exist of looking at WikiLeaks, the site that publicizes secret military documents and videos. The first is held self-interestedly by the Pentagon and by Fox News, the voice of an angry lower-middle class without too much education. These believe that Wikileakers are traitors, haters of America, who give aid and comfort to the enemy and endanger the lives of Our Boys.

Implicit in the Foxian view is a vague idea that the leaks give away important – well, stuff. You know, maybe frequencies of something or other, or locations of ambushes or, well, things. Important things. The Taliban will use this information to kill American soldiers. The notion is vague, as are those who hold it, but emotionally potent.

The other view, held usually by people who have some experience of Washington, is that the Pentagon is worried not about the divulging of tactical secrets, but about public relations. WikiLeaks doesn’t endanger soldiers, insists this way of looking at things, but the war itself, and all the juiceful contracts and promotions and so on entailed by wars.

3. US Treasury Is Running on Fumes by Paul Craig Roberts
The White House is screaming like a stuck pig. WikiLeaks’ release of the Afghan War Documents “puts the lives of our soldiers and our coalition partners at risk.”

What nonsense. Obama’s war puts the lives of American soldiers at risk, and the craven puppet state behavior of “our partners” in serving as US mercenaries is what puts their troops at risk.

Keep in mind that it was someone in the US military that leaked the documents to WikiLeaks. This means that there is a spark of rebellion within the Empire itself.

And rightly so. The leaked documents show that the US has committed numerous war crimes and that the US government and military have lied through their teeth in order to cover up the failure of their policies. These are the revelations that Washington wants to keep secret.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Publish Your Book on iPad and other eReaders

Smashwords will do it for no charge, taking only a small percentage from net sales once your books are published. From the Smashwords website:

Publishing on Smashwords is as easy as 1-2-3:

Step 1: Carefully format your manuscript as a Microsoft Word .doc file per the guidelines in the Smashwords Style Guide and, if you desire mainstream distribution via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony and other retailers, study the guidelines for inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. Apple and Sony require ISBNs, which you can acquire from our ISBN Manager.

Step 2: Click Publish on the home page and follow the simple steps to publish your book instantly

Step 3: Read the free Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for valuable book marketing tips!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is it real? iPhone 4 Attenuation Problem

For some iPhone 4 users, the answer is yes, it is real and annoying. And no, they don't want to stick tape on it, hold it a certain way, or enclose it in a bumper case to fix the problem. Nor should they have to.

After having used one for 16 days now, I can happily report that I have no problems with attenuation at all, and I've used it in talking to people located near and far, and in various places on my end. I've paid no attention at all to how I hold the phone, and I trust I hold it as anyone would in making a call. My computer-savvy 5-year-old grandson has used it as a phone without any problems. At this point I can say the iPhone 4 is the greatest gadget I've ever owned or used, and I've worked with computers all my adult life.

From what I've read most people have no complaints about attenuation. The problem is significant for some users, though, and Apple should offer to fix it in some reasonable manner. The company has scheduled an iPhone 4 press conference tomorrow, Friday, July 17, 2010, and they will likely tell us how it plans to remedy the defective units.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Did Lee fight for the North?

John Avery Emison's Lincoln Uber Alles argues that the war of 1861-1865 was not the War Between the States, but the Federal Government's war on the states -- all states, north and south. Lincoln had no reservations about sending troops to any part of the country to shut down opposition to his policies and decrees. When Lee surrendered he gave up the political sovereignty of the individual states to the supremacy of the national government. The voluntary union had been replaced by a coercive union. In this sense, Robert E. Lee was fighting for the rights of states on both sides of the Mason - Dixon line. Consequently, we lost the Founder's republic and witnessed the laying of the foundation of today's leviathan state that, for propaganda purposes, still insists on celebrating Independence Day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

iMovie on iPhone 4

In spite of the anti-market mania of the last - well, forever - people still manage to make some amazing things and offer them to the world. One of those products is the Apple iPhone 4. Last night I put together a short movie on the device using iMovie for iPhone 4.

Twenty years ago, or less, it would've been near fantasy to imagine creating a movie on a phone then posting it for the whole world to see. It is the freedom to innovate and profit that made it possible.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simple-minded appreciation

I ordered an iPhone 4 last Thursday, June 24, and it arrived Tuesday morning, June 29. So far, it's wonderful. I especially like the high-resolution display and the new camera. Reading a document or web page on this device makes you want to read everything on it.

What really amazes me about the iPhone 4 is the manner in which my order was filled. It came directly from the factory in China, by way of FedEx. Here is a summary of its journey:

When the FedEx driver delivered it to my door, I was greeted thusly:

To the best of my knowledge, everyone who participated in getting the device from the factory in China to my home in Georgia did so voluntarily and profited from it. No central czar dictated that it should be done this way, in this time frame, at this price. From what we know of history and economic theory, it was the absence of such a czar that made the whole operation possible.

It's amazing that in this age of government corruption and meddling that something like the iPhone could be made and delivered voluntarily, and in such a global manner. No one was killed, intimated, or robbed in the process - other than the taxes paid to the governments involved. Through the international division of labor, people produced and traded the product of their efforts for a certain payment, all to serve me, who to them is a faceless consumer, at a price I could afford. And I ended up with a device I could not have built on my own if I had ten lifetimes to live.

We made one another a little richer in the process. It's for "miracles" like this that we should all fight for liberty.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The iPhone 4 Thunderbolt

Of all the criticisms leveled at the users of Apple products, the one that emerges most often is the charge that they're lemmings blindly following a cult leader. What an odd accusation it is, given that Apple made history with its anti-"1984" Superbowl commercial in 1984. Has the the company become the IBM of the mobile technology field, a market force so big that competitors clone Apple products and stick their labels on them, hoping that lower prices (made possible by minimal or nonexistent R&D overhead) will keep them solvent? Not at all. Apple is only the number two smartphone maker. Research in Motion's Blackberry has the biggest market share in the U.S. Its other competitors, Google and Microsoft, have the resources that could relegate Apple to a small player in a big field.

That still doesn't mean Apple users aren't lemmings, though. Certainly there are people who buy Apple products with little or no reason for doing so, other than to associate themselves with a certain lifestyle or to see Steve Jobs make keynote speeches in San Francisco. Could such technophobes be considered lemmings? Sure. But this is true of any product. What gives Apple critics a certain leverage is the claim that Apple's fans are buying a technically inferior product. The charge is they don't research the market and buy the best product - they fall under the Apple spell and obey their suggestions uncritically.

Apple might seem to have more than its share of lemmings, but that could be more a reflection of repeated end-user satisfaction and trust than uninformed obedience. Apple creates innovative products with features people want - and in some cases, dream about. And the features usually work as advertised. It makes sense to stay with a company that satisfies customers so well. Loyal customers are being mistaken for lemmings. As for uncritical acceptance of Apple's offerings, check out an Apple forum sometime and read some of the rants the "lemmings" make about their master's products.

Now we have the iPhone 4. At least one reputable source gives it a big thumbs up, and they followed this with suggestions on what to do with it. (No, it's not what you're thinking.) Other interesting iPhone 4 links:

6 iPhone 4 tips
Apple Responds to iPhone 4 'Death Grip' Reports
Smartphone Camera Battle: iPhone 4 vs. the Android Army
Apple iOS 4 vs. Android Multitasking: Which Approach Is Better for Users?
77% of iPhone 4 sales were upgrades
First day sales: 1.5 million iPhone 4s?
What the iPhone means to Apple
What's driving iPhone 4 sales?

Monday, May 31, 2010

War is a Racket

The book by two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Major General Smedley D. Butler, and a five-minute video by Congressman Ron Paul. Both presented here.

Mark Twain's War Prayer

The War Prayer

by Mark Twain

It was a time of great exulting and excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest depths of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast doubt upon its righteousness straight way got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came – next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams – visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! – then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation:

"God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!"

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory – An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there, waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside – which the startled minister did – and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne – bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import – that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of – except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two – one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this – keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer – the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it – that part which the pastor – and also you in your hearts – fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them – in spirit – we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with hurricanes of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

[After a pause.] "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Have you read 'WAR IS A RACKET'?

Anti-war films

Butler Shaffer presents his annual list of recommended anti-war films, rating each from 1 - 3 stars, with three stars signifying his favorites. The list is long. Among those he grants only honorable mention to is Born on the Fourth of July starring Tom Cruise. It's possible he has not seen it, but I would give it two stars at least. He also awards two stars to All Quiet on the Western Front. I would rate it three stars. One he omitted that I would include is In the Valley of Elah. Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron, it is a story of how war dehumanizes soldiers.

Bourne's classic

Randolph Bourne began an essay called "The State," but died in 1918 before finishing it. "War is the Health of the State" is the first part of that essay.

Paine on War and Taxes

In July, 2003 I had an article published on Strike-the-Root called "Thomas Paine on War and Taxes." I would refer readers to that link today if it were still in a readable format. Since it is not, I present the article here instead.

Thomas Paine on War and Taxes


George F. Smith

On January 10, 1776 Thomas Paine published Common Sense, which ignited a clamor for independence throughout the colonies. Only six months later the Virginia delegation to the Continental Congress proposed that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states -- an idea that had only a few quiet advocates before Paine’s pamphlet.

Common Sense earned Paine a worldwide reputation. By 1790 he was in Europe, entangling himself in the politics of the French Revolution and defending it against intellectual attacks.

Edmund Burke, a member of the British Whig party, was alarmed at what he saw happening in France. Burke had always been suspicious of government power and years earlier had often urged Parliament to avoid going to war with the American colonies, saying that “a great many redcoats will never rule America.”

But on November 1, 1790, Burke published a 350-page book called Reflections on the Revolution in France, in which he attempted to alert those English gentlemen who had no desire to see “their mansions pulled down and pillaged, their persons abused, insulted, and destroyed.” [1]

Reflections earned Burke praise from his enemies and rebukes from his fellow Whigs. His old foe George III loved it and encouraged others to read it. Charles James Fox, once Burke’s “pupil,” criticized the tome as being in “very bad taste.” [2] The two men argued in Parliament over it, and Burke ended the quarrel by terminating their friendship.

Paine had been Burke’s friend, too, but his mission now was to defend the French Revolution. He studied Reflections and found himself agreeing with a great many points, such as Burke’s claim that “a jealous, ever-waking vigilance” was needed to “guard the treasure of liberty.” But Burke launched into ad hominen attacks on various individuals, including Paine, deriding his line from Common Sense that “government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence.” He also ripped the artisan class from which Paine originated, saying that such occupations cannot be a matter of honor to those employed in them. Burke made it clear that he preferred existing states of inequality in society and attacked the ideals of republican self-government.

Reflections was immensely popular and was finding sympathy in public replies. Paine knew that his answer to Burke had to be strong and expressed in a style commensurate with his views. Burke wrote in the familiar heavy style of the privileged status quo. Paine would need to write in a manner more fitting for a republican. As with Common Sense, his goal was to avoid “every literary ornament” and make his rebuttal “as plain as the alphabet.” [3]

Paine’s reply was Rights of Man, which eventually earned him an absentia conviction of seditious libel in England. Though parts of it delve into welfare and social security proposals, there is much in it that libertarians can treasure. I have extracted some of Paine’s insights on war and taxation, and present them here.

From Rights of Man, by Thomas Paine:

To reason with governments, as they have existed for ages, is to argue with brutes. It is only from the nations themselves that reforms can be expected.

. . .

Had governments agreed to quarrel on purpose to fleece their countries by taxes, they could not have succeeded better than they have done.

. . .

[G]overnment seems to be placarding its need of a foe; for unless it finds one somewhere, no pretext exists for the enormous revenue and taxation now deemed necessary.

. . .

War is the common harvest of all those who participate in the division and expenditure of public money, in all countries. It is the art of conquering at home; the object of it is an increase of revenue; and as revenue cannot be increased without taxes, a pretense must be made for expenditure. In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes.

. . .

[T]he portion of liberty enjoyed in England is just enough to enslave a country more productively than by despotism, and that as the real object of all despotism is revenue, a government so formed obtains more than it could do either by direct despotism, or in a full state of freedom, and is, therefore on the ground of interest, opposed to both.

. . .

[T]he caterpillar principle of all Courts and Courtiers are alike. They form a common policy throughout Europe, detached and separate from the interest of Nations: and while they appear to quarrel, they agree to plunder.

. . .

Every war terminates with an addition of taxes, and consequently with an addition of revenue; and in any event of war, in the manner they are now commenced and concluded, the power and interest of Governments are increased. War, therefore, from its productiveness, as it easily furnishes the pretense of necessity for taxes and appointments to places and offices, becomes a principal part of the system of old Governments; and to establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to Nations, would be to take from such Government the most lucrative of its branches.

. . .

It is time to dismiss that inattention which has so long been the encouraging cause of stretching taxation to excess.

. . .

To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice, and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not.

. . .

If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey, and permits none to escape without a tribute.

. . .

Can we possibly suppose that if governments had originated in a right principle, and had not an interest in pursuing a wrong one, the world could have been in the wretched and quarrelsome condition we have seen it? What inducement has the farmer, while following the plough, to lay aside his peaceful pursuit, and go to war with the farmer of another country? or what inducement has the manufacturer? What is dominion to them, or to any class of men in a nation? Does it add an acre to any man's estate, or raise its value? Are not conquest and defeat each of the same price, and taxes the never-failing consequence?

. . .

Government, on the old system, is an assumption of power, for the aggrandizement of itself; on the new, a delegation of power for the common benefit of society. The former supports itself by keeping up a system of war; the latter promotes a system of peace, as the true means of enriching a nation. The one encourages national prejudices; the other promotes universal society, as the means of universal commerce. The one measures its prosperity, by the quantity of revenue it extorts; the other proves its excellence, by the small quantity of taxes it requires.

. . .

It can only be by blinding the understanding of man, and making him believe that government is some wonderful mysterious thing, that excessive revenues are obtained. Monarchy is well calculated to ensure this end. It is the popery of government; a thing kept up to amuse the ignorant, and quiet them into taxes.

. . .

The government of a free country, properly speaking, is not in the persons, but in the laws. The enacting of those requires no great expense; and when they are administered, the whole of civil government is performed- the rest is all court contrivance.

. . .

Government ought to be as much open to improvement as anything which appertains to man, instead of which it has been monopolized from age to age, by the most ignorant and vicious of the human race. Need we any other proof of their wretched management, than the excess of debts and taxes with which every nation groans, and the quarrels into which they have precipitated the world?

. . .

If there is a country in the world where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America. Made up as it is of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable; but by the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial unison. There the poor are not oppressed, the rich are not privileged. Industry is not mortified by the splendid extravagance of a court rioting at its expense. Their taxes are few, because their government is just: and as there is nothing to render them wretched, there is nothing to engender riots and tumults.

1. Keane, John Tom Paine: A Political Life, Grove Press, NY, 1995, p. 289.

2. Ibid, p. 290

3. Ibid., p. 295