Posts tagged ‘Politics’

Ron Paul’s Farewell To Freedom ………………

This may well be the last time I speak on the House Floor. At the end of the year I’ll leave Congress after 23 years in office over a 36 year period. My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today: promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.

It was my opinion, that the course the U.S. embarked on in the latter part of the 20th Century would bring us a major financial crisis and engulf us in a foreign policy that would overextend us and undermine our national security.

To achieve the goals I sought, government would have had to shrink in size and scope, reduce spending, change the monetary system, and reject the unsustainable costs of policing the world and expanding the American Empire.

The problems seemed to be overwhelming and impossible to solve, yet from my view point, just following the constraints placed on the federal government by the Constitution would have been a good place to start.

In many ways, according to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress, from 1976 to 2012, accomplished very little. No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways—thank goodness. In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues. Wars are constant and pursued without Congressional declaration, deficits rise to the sky, poverty is rampant and dependency on the federal government is now worse than any time in our history.

All this with minimal concerns for the deficits and unfunded liabilities that common sense tells us cannot go on much longer. A grand, but never mentioned, bipartisan agreement allows for the well-kept secret that keeps the spending going. One side doesn’t give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn’t give up one penny on welfare spending, while both sides support the bailouts and subsidies for the banking and corporate elite. And the spending continues as the economy weakens and the downward spiral continues. As the government continues fiddling around, our liberties and our wealth burn in the flames of a foreign policy that makes us less safe.

The major stumbling block to real change in Washington is the total resistance to admitting that the country is broke. This has made compromising, just to agree to increase spending, inevitable since neither side has any intention of cutting spending.

The country and the Congress will remain divisive since there’s no “loot left to divvy up.”

Without this recognition the spenders in Washington will continue the march toward a fiscal cliff much bigger than the one anticipated this coming January.

I have thought a lot about why those of us who believe in liberty, as a solution, have done so poorly in convincing others of its benefits. If liberty is what we claim it is- the principle that protects all personal, social and economic decisions necessary for maximum prosperity and the best chance for peace- it should be an easy sell. Yet, history has shown that the masses have been quite receptive to the promises of authoritarians which are rarely if ever fulfilled.

If authoritarianism leads to poverty and war and less freedom for all individuals and is controlled by rich special interests, the people should be begging for liberty. There certainly was a strong enough sentiment for more freedom at the time of our founding that motivated those who were willing to fight in the revolution against the powerful British government.

During my time in Congress the appetite for liberty has been quite weak; the understanding of its significance negligible. Yet the good news is that compared to 1976 when I first came to Congress, the desire for more freedom and less government in 2012 is much greater and growing, especially in grassroots America. Tens of thousands of teenagers and college age students are, with great enthusiasm, welcoming the message of liberty.

I have a few thoughts as to why the people of a country like ours, once the freest and most prosperous, allowed the conditions to deteriorate to the degree that they have.

Freedom, private property, and enforceable voluntary contracts, generate wealth. In our early history we were very much aware of this. But in the early part of the 20th century our politicians promoted the notion that the tax and monetary systems had to change if we were to involve ourselves in excessive domestic and military spending. That is why Congress gave us the Federal Reserve and the income tax. The majority of Americans and many government officials agreed that sacrificing some liberty was necessary to carry out what some claimed to be “progressive” ideas. Pure democracy became acceptable.

They failed to recognized that what they were doing was exactly opposite of what the colonists were seeking when they broke away from the British.

Some complain that my arguments makes no sense, since great wealth and the standard of living improved for many Americans over the last 100 years, even with these new policies.

But the damage to the market economy, and the currency, has been insidious and steady. It took a long time to consume our wealth, destroy the currency and undermine productivity and get our financial obligations to a point of no return. Confidence sometimes lasts longer than deserved. Most of our wealth today depends on debt.

The wealth that we enjoyed and seemed to be endless, allowed concern for the principle of a free society to be neglected. As long as most people believed the material abundance would last forever, worrying about protecting a competitive productive economy and individual liberty seemed unnecessary.

This neglect ushered in an age of redistribution of wealth by government kowtowing to any and all special interests, except for those who just wanted to left alone. That is why today money in politics far surpasses money currently going into research and development and productive entrepreneurial efforts.

The material benefits became more important than the understanding and promoting the principles of liberty and a free market. It is good that material abundance is a result of liberty but if materialism is all that we care about, problems are guaranteed.

The crisis arrived because the illusion that wealth and prosperity would last forever has ended. Since it was based on debt and a pretense that debt can be papered over by an out-of-control fiat monetary system, it was doomed to fail. We have ended up with a system that doesn’t produce enough even to finance the debt and no fundamental understanding of why a free society is crucial to reversing these trends.

If this is not recognized, the recovery will linger for a long time. Bigger government, more spending, more debt, more poverty for the middle class, and a more intense scramble by the elite special interests will continue.

Without an intellectual awakening, the turning point will be driven by economic law. A dollar crisis will bring the current out-of-control system to its knees.

If it’s not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties. Prosperity for a large middle class though will become an abstract dream.

This continuous move is no different than what we have seen in how our financial crisis of 2008 was handled. Congress first directed, with bipartisan support, bailouts for the wealthy. Then it was the Federal Reserve with its endless quantitative easing. If at first it doesn’t succeed try again; QE1, QE2, and QE3 and with no results we try QE indefinitely—that is until it too fails. There’s a cost to all of this and let me assure you delaying the payment is no longer an option. The rules of the market will extract its pound of flesh and it won’t be pretty.

The current crisis elicits a lot of pessimism. And the pessimism adds to less confidence in the future. The two feed on themselves, making our situation worse.

If the underlying cause of the crisis is not understood we cannot solve our problems. The issues of warfare, welfare, deficits, inflationism, corporatism, bailouts and authoritarianism cannot be ignored. By only expanding these policies we cannot expect good results.

Everyone claims support for freedom. But too often it’s for one’s own freedom and not for others. Too many believe that there must be limits on freedom. They argue that freedom must be directed and managed to achieve fairness and equality thus making it acceptable to curtail, through force, certain liberties.

Some decide what and whose freedoms are to be limited. These are the politicians whose goal in life is power. Their success depends on gaining support from special interests.

The great news is the answer is not to be found in more “isms.” The answers are to be found in more liberty which cost so much less. Under these circumstances spending goes down, wealth production goes up, and the quality of life improves.

Just this recognition—especially if we move in this direction—increases optimism which in itself is beneficial. The follow through with sound policies are required which must be understood and supported by the people.

But there is good evidence that the generation coming of age at the present time is supportive of moving in the direction of more liberty and self-reliance. The more this change in direction and the solutions become known, the quicker will be the return of optimism.

Our job, for those of us who believe that a different system than the one that we have had for the last 100 years, has driven us to this unsustainable crisis, is to be more convincing that there is a wonderful, uncomplicated, and moral system that provides the answers. We had a taste of it in our early history. We need not give up on the notion of advancing this cause.

It worked, but we allowed our leaders to concentrate on the material abundance that freedom generates, while ignoring freedom itself. Now we have neither, but the door is open, out of necessity, for an answer. The answer available is based on the Constitution, individual liberty and prohibiting the use of government force to provide privileges and benefits to all special interests.

After over 100 years we face a society quite different from the one that was intended by the Founders. In many ways their efforts to protect future generations with the Constitution from this danger has failed. Skeptics, at the time the Constitution was written in 1787, warned us of today’s possible outcome. The insidious nature of the erosion of our liberties and the reassurance our great abundance gave us, allowed the process to evolve into the dangerous period in which we now live.

Today we face a dependency on government largesse for almost every need. Our liberties are restricted and government operates outside the rule of law, protecting and rewarding those who buy or coerce government into satisfying their demands. Here are a few examples:

Undeclared wars are commonplace.

Welfare for the rich and poor is considered an entitlement.

The economy is overregulated, overtaxed and grossly distorted by a deeply flawed monetary system.

Debt is growing exponentially.

The Patriot Act and FISA legislation passed without much debate have resulted in a steady erosion of our 4th Amendment rights.

Tragically our government engages in preemptive war, otherwise known as aggression, with no complaints from the American people.

The drone warfare we are pursuing worldwide is destined to end badly for us as the hatred builds for innocent lives lost and the international laws flaunted. Once we are financially weakened and militarily challenged, there will be a lot resentment thrown our way.

It’s now the law of the land that the military can arrest American citizens, hold them indefinitely, without charges or a trial.

Rampant hostility toward free trade is supported by a large number in Washington.

Supporters of sanctions, currency manipulation and WTO trade retaliation, call the true free traders “isolationists.”

Sanctions are used to punish countries that don’t follow our orders.

Bailouts and guarantees for all kinds of misbehavior are routine.

Central economic planning through monetary policy, regulations and legislative mandates has been an acceptable policy.

Excessive government has created such a mess it prompts many questions:

Why are sick people who use medical marijuana put in prison?

Why does the federal government restrict the drinking of raw milk?

Why can’t Americans manufacturer rope and other products from hemp?

Why are Americans not allowed to use gold and silver as legal tender as mandated by the Constitution?

Why is Germany concerned enough to consider repatriating their gold held by the FED for her in New York? Is it that the trust in the U.S. and dollar supremacy beginning to wane?

Why do our political leaders believe it’s unnecessary to thoroughly audit our own gold?

Why can’t Americans decide which type of light bulbs they can buy?

Why is the TSA permitted to abuse the rights of any American traveling by air?

Why should there be mandatory sentences—even up to life for crimes without victims—as our drug laws require?

Why have we allowed the federal government to regulate commodes in our homes?

Why is it political suicide for anyone to criticize AIPAC ?

Why haven’t we given up on the drug war since it’s an obvious failure and violates the people’s rights? Has nobody noticed that the authorities can’t even keep drugs out of the prisons? How can making our entire society a prison solve the problem?

Why do we sacrifice so much getting needlessly involved in border disputes and civil strife around the world and ignore the root cause of the most deadly border in the world-the one between Mexico and the US?

Why does Congress willingly give up its prerogatives to the Executive Branch?

Why does changing the party in power never change policy? Could it be that the views of both parties are essentially the same?

Why did the big banks, the large corporations, and foreign banks and foreign central banks get bailed out in 2008 and the middle class lost their jobs and their homes?

Why do so many in the government and the federal officials believe that creating money out of thin air creates wealth?

Why do so many accept the deeply flawed principle that government bureaucrats and politicians can protect us from ourselves without totally destroying the principle of liberty?

Why can’t people understand that war always destroys wealth and liberty?

Why is there so little concern for the Executive Order that gives the President authority to establish a “kill list,” including American citizens, of those targeted for assassination?

Why is patriotism thought to be blind loyalty to the government and the politicians who run it, rather than loyalty to the principles of liberty and support for the people? Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong.

Why is it is claimed that if people won’t or can’t take care of their own needs, that people in government can do it for them?

Why did we ever give the government a safe haven for initiating violence against the people?

Why do some members defend free markets, but not civil liberties?

Why do some members defend civil liberties but not free markets? Aren’t they the same?

Why don’t more defend both economic liberty and personal liberty?

Why are there not more individuals who seek to intellectually influence others to bring about positive changes than those who seek power to force others to obey their commands?

Why does the use of religion to support a social gospel and preemptive wars, both of which requires authoritarians to use violence, or the threat of violence, go unchallenged? Aggression and forced redistribution of wealth has nothing to do with the teachings of the world great religions.

Why do we allow the government and the Federal Reserve to disseminate false information dealing with both economic and foreign policy?

Why is democracy held in such high esteem when it’s the enemy of the minority and makes all rights relative to the dictates of the majority?

Why should anyone be surprised that Congress has no credibility, since there’s such a disconnect between what politicians say and what they do?

Is there any explanation for all the deception, the unhappiness, the fear of the future, the loss of confidence in our leaders, the distrust, the anger and frustration? Yes there is, and there’s a way to reverse these attitudes. The negative perceptions are logical and a consequence of bad policies bringing about our problems. Identification of the problems and recognizing the cause allow the proper changes to come easy.

Too many people have for too long placed too much confidence and trust in government and not enough in themselves. Fortunately, many are now becoming aware of the seriousness of the gross mistakes of the past several decades. The blame is shared by both political parties. Many Americans now are demanding to hear the plain truth of things and want the demagoguing to stop. Without this first step, solutions are impossible.

Seeking the truth and finding the answers in liberty and self-reliance promotes the optimism necessary for restoring prosperity. The task is not that difficult if politics doesn’t get in the way.

We have allowed ourselves to get into such a mess for various reasons.

Politicians deceive themselves as to how wealth is produced. Excessive confidence is placed in the judgment of politicians and bureaucrats. This replaces the confidence in a free society. Too many in high places of authority became convinced that only they, armed with arbitrary government power, can bring about fairness, while facilitating wealth production. This always proves to be a utopian dream and destroys wealth and liberty. It impoverishes the people and rewards the special interests who end up controlling both political parties.

It’s no surprise then that much of what goes on in Washington is driven by aggressive partisanship and power seeking, with philosophic differences being minor.

Economic ignorance is commonplace. Keynesianism continues to thrive, although today it is facing healthy and enthusiastic rebuttals. Believers in military Keynesianism and domestic Keynesianism continue to desperately promote their failed policies, as the economy languishes in a deep slumber.

Supporters of all government edicts use humanitarian arguments to justify them.

Humanitarian arguments are always used to justify government mandates related to the economy, monetary policy, foreign policy, and personal liberty. This is on purpose to make it more difficult to challenge. But, initiating violence for humanitarian reasons is still violence. Good intentions are no excuse and are just as harmful as when people use force with bad intentions. The results are always negative.

The immoral use of force is the source of man’s political problems. Sadly, many religious groups, secular organizations, and psychopathic authoritarians endorse government initiated force to change the world. Even when the desired goals are well-intentioned—or especially when well-intentioned—the results are dismal. The good results sought never materialize. The new problems created require even more government force as a solution. The net result is institutionalizing government initiated violence and morally justifying it on humanitarian grounds.

This is the same fundamental reason our government uses force for invading other countries at will, central economic planning at home, and the regulation of personal liberty and habits of our citizens.

It is rather strange, that unless one has a criminal mind and no respect for other people and their property, no one claims it’s permissible to go into one’s neighbor’s house and tell them how to behave, what they can eat, smoke and drink or how to spend their money.

Yet, rarely is it asked why it is morally acceptable that a stranger with a badge and a gun can do the same thing in the name of law and order. Any resistance is met with brute force, fines, taxes, arrests, and even imprisonment. This is done more frequently every day without a proper search warrant.

Restraining aggressive behavior is one thing, but legalizing a government monopoly for initiating aggression can only lead to exhausting liberty associated with chaos, anger and the breakdown of civil society. Permitting such authority and expecting saintly behavior from the bureaucrats and the politicians is a pipe dream. We now have a standing army of armed bureaucrats in the TSA, CIA, FBI, Fish and Wildlife, FEMA, IRS, Corp of Engineers, etc. numbering over 100,000. Citizens are guilty until proven innocent in the unconstitutional administrative courts.

Government in a free society should have no authority to meddle in social activities or the economic transactions of individuals. Nor should government meddle in the affairs of other nations. All things peaceful, even when controversial, should be permitted.

We must reject the notion of prior restraint in economic activity just we do in the area of free speech and religious liberty. But even in these areas government is starting to use a backdoor approach of political correctness to regulate speech-a dangerous trend. Since 9/11 monitoring speech on the internet is now a problem since warrants are no longer required.

The Constitution established four federal crimes. Today the experts can’t even agree on how many federal crimes are now on the books—they number into the thousands. No one person can comprehend the enormity of the legal system—especially the tax code. Due to the ill-advised drug war and the endless federal expansion of the criminal code we have over 6 million people under correctional suspension, more than the Soviets ever had, and more than any other nation today, including China. I don’t understand the complacency of the Congress and the willingness to continue their obsession with passing more Federal laws. Mandatory sentencing laws associated with drug laws have compounded our prison problems.

The federal register is now 75,000 pages long and the tax code has 72,000 pages, and expands every year. When will the people start shouting, “enough is enough,” and demand Congress cease and desist.

Liberty can only be achieved when government is denied the aggressive use of force. If one seeks liberty, a precise type of government is needed. To achieve it, more than lip service is required.

A government designed to protect liberty—a natural right—as its sole objective. The people are expected to care for themselves and reject the use of any force for interfering with another person’s liberty. Government is given a strictly limited authority to enforce contracts, property ownership, settle disputes, and defend against foreign aggression.
A government that pretends to protect liberty but is granted power to arbitrarily use force over the people and foreign nations. Though the grant of power many times is meant to be small and limited, it inevitably metastasizes into an omnipotent political cancer. This is the problem for which the world has suffered throughout the ages. Though meant to be limited it nevertheless is a 100% sacrifice of a principle that would-be-tyrants find irresistible. It is used vigorously—though incrementally and insidiously. Granting power to government officials always proves the adage that: “power corrupts.”

Once government gets a limited concession for the use of force to mold people habits and plan the economy, it causes a steady move toward tyrannical government. Only a revolutionary spirit can reverse the process and deny to the government this arbitrary use of aggression. There’s no in-between. Sacrificing a little liberty for imaginary safety always ends badly.

Today’s mess is a result of Americans accepting option #2, even though the Founders attempted to give us Option #1.

The results are not good. As our liberties have been eroded our wealth has been consumed. The wealth we see today is based on debt and a foolish willingness on the part of foreigners to take our dollars for goods and services. They then loan them back to us to perpetuate our debt system. It’s amazing that it has worked for this long but the impasse in Washington, in solving our problems indicate that many are starting to understand the seriousness of the world -wide debt crisis and the dangers we face. The longer this process continues the harsher the outcome will be.

Many are now acknowledging that a financial crisis looms but few understand it’s, in reality, a moral crisis. It’s the moral crisis that has allowed our liberties to be undermined and permits the exponential growth of illegal government power. Without a clear understanding of the nature of the crisis it will be difficult to prevent a steady march toward tyranny and the poverty that will accompany it.

Ultimately, the people have to decide which form of government they want; option #1 or option #2. There is no other choice. Claiming there is a choice of a “little” tyranny is like describing pregnancy as a “touch of pregnancy.” It is a myth to believe that a mixture of free markets and government central economic planning is a worthy compromise. What we see today is a result of that type of thinking. And the results speak for themselves.

American now suffers from a culture of violence. It’s easy to reject the initiation of violence against one’s neighbor but it’s ironic that the people arbitrarily and freely anoint government officials with monopoly power to initiate violence against the American people—practically at will.

Because it’s the government that initiates force, most people accept it as being legitimate. Those who exert the force have no sense of guilt. It is believed by too many that governments are morally justified in initiating force supposedly to “do good.” They incorrectly believe that this authority has come from the “consent of the people.” The minority, or victims of government violence never consented to suffer the abuse of government mandates, even when dictated by the majority. Victims of TSA excesses never consented to this abuse.

This attitude has given us a policy of initiating war to “do good,” as well. It is claimed that war, to prevent war for noble purposes, is justified. This is similar to what we were once told that: “destroying a village to save a village” was justified. It was said by a US Secretary of State that the loss of 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children, in the 1990s, as a result of American bombs and sanctions, was “worth it” to achieve the “good” we brought to the Iraqi people. And look at the mess that Iraq is in today.

Government use of force to mold social and economic behavior at home and abroad has justified individuals using force on their own terms. The fact that violence by government is seen as morally justified, is the reason why violence will increase when the big financial crisis hits and becomes a political crisis as well.

First, we recognize that individuals shouldn’t initiate violence, then we give the authority to government. Eventually, the immoral use of government violence, when things goes badly, will be used to justify an individual’s “right” to do the same thing. Neither the government nor individuals have the moral right to initiate violence against another yet we are moving toward the day when both will claim this authority. If this cycle is not reversed society will break down.

When needs are pressing, conditions deteriorate and rights become relative to the demands and the whims of the majority. It’s then not a great leap for individuals to take it upon themselves to use violence to get what they claim is theirs. As the economy deteriorates and the wealth discrepancies increase—as are already occurring— violence increases as those in need take it in their own hands to get what they believe is theirs. They will not wait for a government rescue program.

When government officials wield power over others to bail out the special interests, even with disastrous results to the average citizen, they feel no guilt for the harm they do. Those who take us into undeclared wars with many casualties resulting, never lose sleep over the death and destruction their bad decisions caused. They are convinced that what they do is morally justified, and the fact that many suffer just can’t be helped.

When the street criminals do the same thing, they too have no remorse, believing they are only taking what is rightfully theirs. All moral standards become relative. Whether it’s bailouts, privileges, government subsidies or benefits for some from inflating a currency, it’s all part of a process justified by a philosophy of forced redistribution of wealth. Violence, or a threat of such, is the instrument required and unfortunately is of little concern of most members of Congress.

Some argue it’s only a matter of “fairness” that those in need are cared for. There are two problems with this. First, the principle is used to provide a greater amount of benefits to the rich than the poor. Second, no one seems to be concerned about whether or not it’s fair to those who end up paying for the benefits. The costs are usually placed on the backs of the middle class and are hidden from the public eye. Too many people believe government handouts are free, like printing money out of thin air, and there is no cost. That deception is coming to an end. The bills are coming due and that’s what the economic slowdown is all about.

Sadly, we have become accustomed to living with the illegitimate use of force by government. It is the tool for telling the people how to live, what to eat and drink, what to read and how to spend their money.

To develop a truly free society, the issue of initiating force must be understood and rejected. Granting to government even a small amount of force is a dangerous concession.

Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed. The Founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people. The current crisis reflects that their concerns were justified.

Most politicians and pundits are aware of the problems we face but spend all their time in trying to reform government. The sad part is that the suggested reforms almost always lead to less freedom and the importance of a virtuous and moral people is either ignored, or not understood. The new reforms serve only to further undermine liberty. The compounding effect has given us this steady erosion of liberty and the massive expansion of debt. The real question is: if it is liberty we seek, should most of the emphasis be placed on government reform or trying to understand what “a virtuous and moral people” means and how to promote it. The Constitution has not prevented the people from demanding handouts for both rich and poor in their efforts to reform the government, while ignoring the principles of a free society. All branches of our government today are controlled by individuals who use their power to undermine liberty and enhance the welfare/warfare state-and frequently their own wealth and power.

If the people are unhappy with the government performance it must be recognized that government is merely a reflection of an immoral society that rejected a moral government of constitutional limitations of power and love of freedom.

If this is the problem all the tinkering with thousands of pages of new laws and regulations will do nothing to solve the problem.

It is self-evident that our freedoms have been severely limited and the apparent prosperity we still have, is nothing more than leftover wealth from a previous time. This fictitious wealth based on debt and benefits from a false trust in our currency and credit, will play havoc with our society when the bills come due. This means that the full consequence of our lost liberties is yet to be felt.

But that illusion is now ending. Reversing a downward spiral depends on accepting a new approach.

Expect the rapidly expanding homeschooling movement to play a significant role in the revolutionary reforms needed to build a free society with Constitutional protections. We cannot expect a Federal government controlled school system to provide the intellectual ammunition to combat the dangerous growth of government that threatens our liberties.

The internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda. This is why it’s essential that the internet remains free of government regulation.

Many of our religious institutions and secular organizations support greater dependency on the state by supporting war, welfare and corporatism and ignore the need for a virtuous people.

I never believed that the world or our country could be made more free by politicians, if the people had no desire for freedom.

Under the current circumstances the most we can hope to achieve in the political process is to use it as a podium to reach the people to alert them of the nature of the crisis and the importance of their need to assume responsibility for themselves, if it is liberty that they truly seek. Without this, a constitutionally protected free society is impossible.

If this is true, our individual goal in life ought to be for us to seek virtue and excellence and recognize that self-esteem and happiness only comes from using one’s natural ability, in the most productive manner possible, according to one’s own talents.

Productivity and creativity are the true source of personal satisfaction. Freedom, and not dependency, provides the environment needed to achieve these goals. Government cannot do this for us; it only gets in the way. When the government gets involved, the goal becomes a bailout or a subsidy and these cannot provide a sense of personal achievement.

Achieving legislative power and political influence should not be our goal. Most of the change, if it is to come, will not come from the politicians, but rather from individuals, family, friends, intellectual leaders and our religious institutions. The solution can only come from rejecting the use of coercion, compulsion, government commands, and aggressive force, to mold social and economic behavior. Without accepting these restraints, inevitably the consensus will be to allow the government to mandate economic equality and obedience to the politicians who gain power and promote an environment that smothers the freedoms of everyone. It is then that the responsible individuals who seek excellence and self-esteem by being self-reliance and productive, become the true victims.

What are the greatest dangers that the American people face today and impede the goal of a free society? There are five.

1. The continuous attack on our civil liberties which threatens the rule of law and our ability to resist the onrush of tyranny.

2. Violent anti-Americanism that has engulfed the world. Because the phenomenon of “blow-back” is not understood or denied, our foreign policy is destined to keep us involved in many wars that we have no business being in. National bankruptcy and a greater threat to our national security will result.

3. The ease in which we go to war, without a declaration by Congress, but accepting international authority from the UN or NATO even for preemptive wars, otherwise known as aggression.

4. A financial political crisis as a consequence of excessive debt, unfunded liabilities, spending, bailouts, and gross discrepancy in wealth distribution going from the middle class to the rich. The danger of central economic planning, by the Federal Reserve must be understood.

5. World government taking over local and US sovereignty by getting involved in the issues of war, welfare, trade, banking, a world currency, taxes, property ownership, and private ownership of guns.

Happily, there is an answer for these very dangerous trends.

What a wonderful world it would be if everyone accepted the simple moral premise of rejecting all acts of aggression. The retort to such a suggestion is always: it’s too simplistic, too idealistic, impractical, naïve, utopian, dangerous, and unrealistic to strive for such an ideal.

The answer to that is that for thousands of years the acceptance of government force, to rule over the people, at the sacrifice of liberty, was considered moral and the only available option for achieving peace and prosperity.

What could be more utopian than that myth—considering the results especially looking at the state sponsored killing, by nearly every government during the 20th Century, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions. It’s time to reconsider this grant of authority to the state.

No good has ever come from granting monopoly power to the state to use aggression against the people to arbitrarily mold human behavior. Such power, when left unchecked, becomes the seed of an ugly tyranny. This method of governance has been adequately tested, and the results are in: reality dictates we try liberty.

The idealism of non-aggression and rejecting all offensive use of force should be tried. The idealism of government sanctioned violence has been abused throughout history and is the primary source of poverty and war. The theory of a society being based on individual freedom has been around for a long time. It’s time to take a bold step and actually permit it by advancing this cause, rather than taking a step backwards as some would like us to do.

Today the principle of habeas corpus, established when King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215, is under attack. There’s every reason to believe that a renewed effort with the use of the internet that we can instead advance the cause of liberty by spreading an uncensored message that will serve to rein in government authority and challenge the obsession with war and welfare.

What I’m talking about is a system of government guided by the moral principles of peace and tolerance.

The Founders were convinced that a free society could not exist without a moral people. Just writing rules won’t work if the people choose to ignore them. Today the rule of law written in the Constitution has little meaning for most Americans, especially those who work in Washington DC.

Benjamin Franklin claimed “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” John Adams concurred: “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

A moral people must reject all violence in an effort to mold people’s beliefs or habits.

A society that boos or ridicules the Golden Rule is not a moral society. All great religions endorse the Golden Rule. The same moral standards that individuals are required to follow should apply to all government officials. They cannot be exempt.

The ultimate solution is not in the hands of the government.

The solution falls on each and every individual, with guidance from family, friends and community.

The #1 responsibility for each of us is to change ourselves with hope that others will follow. This is of greater importance than working on changing the government; that is secondary to promoting a virtuous society. If we can achieve this, then the government will change.

It doesn’t mean that political action or holding office has no value. At times it does nudge policy in the right direction. But what is true is that when seeking office is done for personal aggrandizement, money or power, it becomes useless if not harmful. When political action is taken for the right reasons it’s easy to understand why compromise should be avoided. It also becomes clear why progress is best achieved by working with coalitions, which bring people together, without anyone sacrificing his principles.

Political action, to be truly beneficial, must be directed toward changing the hearts and minds of the people, recognizing that it’s the virtue and morality of the people that allow liberty to flourish.

The Constitution or more laws per se, have no value if the people’s attitudes aren’t changed.

To achieve liberty and peace, two powerful human emotions have to be overcome. Number one is “envy” which leads to hate and class warfare. Number two is “intolerance” which leads to bigoted and judgmental policies. These emotions must be replaced with a much better understanding of love, compassion, tolerance and free market economics. Freedom, when understood, brings people together. When tried, freedom is popular.

The problem we have faced over the years has been that economic interventionists are swayed by envy, whereas social interventionists are swayed by intolerance of habits and lifestyles. The misunderstanding that tolerance is an endorsement of certain activities, motivates many to legislate moral standards which should only be set by individuals making their own choices. Both sides use force to deal with these misplaced emotions. Both are authoritarians. Neither endorses voluntarism. Both views ought to be rejected.

I have come to one firm conviction after these many years of trying to figure out “the plain truth of things.” The best chance for achieving peace and prosperity, for the maximum number of people world-wide, is to pursue the cause of LIBERTY.

If you find this to be a worthwhile message, spread it throughout the land.

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Ron Paul Road to the White House

http://dprogram.net

See Also: (NewAmerican) – Ron Paul Wins RLC Straw Poll in a Landslide – Read More Here

(Rys2Sense) – Amazing Speech! –

US : The Tea Party Propaganda Factory You Probably Don’t Know About

http://www.alternet.org

The documentary production company Citizens United has dedicated itself to furthering the interests of the far right and the super-rich.
April 19, 2011  |

The 2010 Supreme Court decision permitting unlimited campaign spending by corporations, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is one of the most momentous rulings in U.S. legal history. It transforms the long but unspoken truth of American politics – corporate wealth buys legislative power — into the law of the land.

The Court’s judgment adds one more nail to the coffin of transparent governance based on popular democracy. The unlimited financing and unreported accountability of the media message complements generous campaign contributions, well-paid lobbyists and effective regulatory capture to further ensure that corporate wealth maintains political influence. The Court’s decision is the icing on the cake to an era of unprecedented class polarization, with the rich seizing an ever greater share of the nation’s wealth.

As has been much reported since the decision was handed down in January 2010, the Court overturned a lower court decision and found that a corporation’s First Amendment protections overruled the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act.

At issue was Hillary: The Movie, a film produced by Citizens United, a staunch rightwing political action group. Since its founding in 1988, Citizens United has matured into one of the nation’s leading documentary production companies. Its films are produced, written and directed by reputable industry professionals and hosted by well-known rightwing figures like Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson. To date, it has released 17 full-length documentaries on such topics as Ronald Reagan, Bill and Hillary Clinton, 9/11, Barack Obama, the UN, conservative womanhood, and religion.

Citizens United is a cornerstone member of a growing praetorian guard furthering the interests of the super-rich. This guard includes law firms, think tanks, policy groups, PR firms, astroturf organizations, co-opted civil-rights groups, talking-head bloviators and unquestioning reporters who further a well-orchestrated rightwing, corporatist propaganda agenda.

In the all-important areas of the media message, Citizens United is the leading voice and vision of the Tea Party agenda. Would-be “pranksters” James O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart are creative hacks, having lost all credibility due to their ham-fisted manipulations of phony revelations.

In America’s secular-capitalist and corporate-religious society, the battle over ideas, beliefs and knowledge is the battle for the citizen’s soul. The Murdock enterprise and talk radio are the most obvious voices of rightwing propaganda. Citizens United is just as pernicious.

* * *

Sleaze runs deep in American politics. During the Revolutionary War, British propaganda circulated scurrilous rumors that General Washington engaged in a number of illicit relations. One alleged he had a mistress; another claimed he kept a corporal’s wife at his campsite; still another alleged he had an adulterous liaison with a neighbor’s wife and she bore his out-of-wedlock child.

In our modern era, the most controversial propaganda campaign is the notorious Willie Horton ad used in the 1988 presidential race. The election pitted George H.W. Bush against Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis. The ad assailed Dukakis’ “liberal” prison polices, effectively painting him with the racist brush, the Republican party’s unspoken secret weapon.

Horton was a Massachusetts felon serving a life sentence for murder; he was mysteriously granted a weekend pass, and while out of prison committed an assault, armed robbery and a rape. The ad, the brainchild of Floyd Brown, linked Horton to Dukakis and played a critical role in Bush’s victory.

Brown was the founder and first president of Citizens United. Prior to founding Citizens United, he served as political director of Americans for Bush and was president of the board of the Reagan Ranch, a division of the Young America’s Foundation. Ever the opportunist, he now serves as president of Excellentia, Inc., an Internet video venture “specializing in marketing to conservatives and Christians.” Brown continues to do battle in rightwing politics, most recently serving as the media adviser to Joe Miller’s ill-fated 2010 Tea Party campaign in Alaska to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The Horton ad is the leitmotif of rightwing media propaganda; it is the template for all Citizens United subsequent media productions. While Floyd Brown created the Horton ad, Citizens United’s current head, David Bossie, has pushed the documentary as the vehicle of rightwing propaganda.

Bossie has a checkered career as a Republican operative. He got his start joining a long-line of dirty tricksters, the most modern examples beginning with Chuck Colson and continuing on with Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. In 1996, Bossie was outed for leaking the confidential phone logs of a former Commerce Department official. In 1998, he gained national attention when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich forced him out as chief investigator for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform pursuing the anti-Clinton Whitewater investigation. He took creative license selectively editing transcripts of recordings of phone conversations involving Hillary Clinton. Playing the dirty trickster’s game, Bossie edited the tapes to make it appear Clinton was complicit in billing irregularities.

Bossie hooked up with Brown and Citizens United in the early ‘90s. In 1996, in a fundraising letter, it promoted Bossie – then a Senate staffer — as its “top investigator” and its insider “directing the [Whitewater] probe.” This created quite a conflict-of-interest stir. So, when Bossie was booted off the Hill — and in recognition of his invaluable dirty tricks against the Clintons – he was rewarded with a lucrative position at Citizens United, ultimately replacing Brown.

* * *

Over the last decade, Citizens United has become one of America’s major documentary production companies, with Bossie serving as either executive producer, producer or director of all its films. These docs frame the ultra-right’s propaganda campaign, set its agenda and give voice to the Tea Party. Its films are:

* Battle for America (2010) – a Tea Party promotion of “Constitutional Conservatives”; Bossie is executive producer/producer and Stephen Bannon is writer/director.

* Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman (2010) – a portrait of Tea Party women; Bossie is executive producer/ producer and Bannon is writer/director.

* America at Risk (2010) — explores the “dangers” facing America in the post-9/11 decade; Bossie is executive producer/producer and Kevin Knoblock is writer/director.

* Nine Days That Changed the World (2010) — a Tea Party morality tale hosted by Callista and Newt Gingrich; Bossie is executive producer/ producer and Knoblock is writer/director.

* Generation Zero (2010) – offers a conservative analysis of the causes of 2008-2009 global economic crisis; Bossie is executive producer/producer and Bannon is writer/director.

* Perfect Valor (2009) – a John-Wayneish portrait of six Marines who served in Iraq, narrated by Fred Thompson; Knoblock, Craig Haffner, Chetwynd and Bossie are co-executive producers; Matilda Bode, David Taylor and Bossie are co-producers; and Taylor is writer/director.

* Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny (2009) – an homage to Saint Gipper, hosted by the Gingrichs; Bossie, the Gingrichs and Lawrence Kadish are co-executive producers; Bossie and Knoblock are co-producers; and Knoblock is writer/director.

* Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage (2009) – the title speaks for itself, hosted by the Gingrichs; Bossie and the Gingrichs are co-executive producers; and Knoblock is writer/director.

* Rediscovering God in America (2008) – the original tale of “one nation under God,” hosted by the Gingrichs; Bossie and the Gingrichs are co-executive producers; and Knoblock is writer/director.

* Hype: the Obama Effect (2008) – a Tea Party slam against Obama during the ’08 campaign; Bossie is executive producer/producer and Alan Peterson is writer/director.

* Blocking the Path of 9/11 (2008) – an “investigative” report into a 2006 ABC mini-series into 9/11 that was pulled by the network; Bossie is executive producer/producer and John Ziegler is co-producer, writer and director.

* Hillary: The Movie (2008) – Hillary, the bashing; Bossie is executive producer/producer, Peterson and Lee Troxler are co-writers and Peterson is director.

* We Have the Power: Making America Energy Independent (2008) – Citizens United’s examination of alternate power sources, including nuclear, hydrogen and wind, hosted by the Gingrichs; Bossie, Newt Gingrich and Lawrence Kadish are co-executive producers; Bossie, Knoblock and Terry Moloney are co-producers; and Moloney is writer/ director.

* ACLU: At War with America (2007) – Citizens United war against the ACLU; Bossie is executive producer, producer, writer and director.

* Border Wars: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration (2006) – immigrants, the enemy; Bossie is executive producer/co-producer and Knoblock is co-producer, writer and director.

* Broken Promises: The United Nations at 60 (2005) – a dubious historical portrait of the UN; Bossie is executive producer/producer; Knoblock is the writer; and Knoblock and Ron Silver are co-directors.

* Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain … Begins to Die (2004) – Citizens United’s rejoinder to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 411; Bossie is executive producer/producer; Lionel Chewynd and Ted Steinberg are co-writes; and Knoblock is director.

* * *

In his role as head of Citizens United and executive producer of its production arm, Bossie has brought together some talented film industry pros to further the rightwing propaganda campaign. This distinguishes his efforts from those “adolescent” provocations by O’Keefe and Breitbart. Brief profiles of leading Bossie co-collaborators follow:

* Stephen Bannon runs Genius Products, a Hollywood production company, and is a co-founder of the National Tea Party Federation. He comes to filmmaking having served from 1976 to 1983 in the US Navy (including a stint at the Pentagon) and then 15 years in media investment banking and film financing at Goldman Sachs, Jefferies & Co. and his own firm. In addition to docs for Citizens United, he has a number of feature film credits.

* Kevin Knoblock is a documentary TV warhorse. In addition to docs for Citizens United, he has produced, written and/or directed programs for A&E, A&E Biography, TNN, The History Channel and the Travel Channel; he did magazine shows at NBC, MTV and KCBS was an executive at KABC-TV and “Entertainment Tonight.”

* Terry Moloney is an established Hollywood writer/director who runs Proletariat Filmworks, an independent production company. In additional to work for Citizens United, his credits include a public-interest film featuring Sean Penn, a feature film and an executive position with PAX-TV.

* Alan Peterson is a Hollywood actor, producer and director. His all but forgotten 2004 doc, FahrenHYPE 9/11: Unraveling the Truth about Fahrenheit 9/11 and Michael Moore (2004), featured such luminaries as shoe-fetishist Dick Morris and former NYC mayor Ed Koch.

* David Taylor received a Peabody Award for a film about Lyndon Johnson following JFK’s assassination and an Emmy for a film exploring the rivalry between LBJ and Robert Kennedy. He has produced, written and/or director about 100 independent docs for everyone from the BBC and Channel 4 to PBS and the History Channel.

* Ron Silver was a well-known and respected actor in film, TV and on Broadway. He seems to have had an incoherent, if compelling, political outlook: He supported Bill Clinton, backed George Bush and voted for Obama.

* John Ziegler seems more a multimedia rightwing self-promoter than an established Hollywood media pro. He’s been a radio sportscaster talk-radio host, then moved to TV, authored a dubious book of the First Amendment, proudly promoted an attack on John Kerry’s presidential campaign, and has championed Sarah Palin while assailing Obama.

The Citizens United talented “team” of film industry professionals suggests how the propaganda battle has been professionalized.

Citizens United promotes what it — and many among the conservative right and Tea Party movement — consider “traditional values.” These values are grounded in what is known as an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution; an imperialist- and militaristic-based expansionist foreign policy; a monopolist (as opposed to a competitive, Adam Smith) concept of “free enterprise”; a belief in a white, Judeo-Christian notion of morality; and reverence to a heterosexual, monogamous patriarchal concept of the family as the basic social unit of American society. These values codify a 20th-century mindset in a 21st-century world. They distinguish Citizens United documentaries.

Citizens United films provide a false coherence to explain the real, complex history that is America and the postmodern life. Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 411, Errol Morris’s Fog of War and Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job are outstanding calls-to-arms confronting Citizens United’s simplemindedness. However, their very success is witness to their weakness. They are one-shots in an era when maintaining a sustained message is critical.

America is in the midst of a profound economic, social and ideological battle. An oligarchy is taking control of the nation, refashioning democracy and popular values. The nation was once defined as welcoming those considered foreign, by a spirit of civility and community, of free social beings. But today, community has been replaced by self-interest, the body politic by personal greed.

Citizens United gives voice and vision to a concerted propaganda initiative attempting to reframe America from a nation of opportunity and mobility to one of social standing and privilege. It’s time for the progressive community to mobilize the infrastructure and to engage in the sustained ideological battle needed to challenge the new praetorian guard exemplified by Citizens United.

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Critical Connections: Egypt, the US, and Israel

http://original.antiwar.com

by Alison Weir, February 05, 2011

Minimally explored in all the coverage of the momentous Egyptian uprising taking place over the last 10 days are the Israeli connections.

A central and critical reality is that it is US tax money that has propped up Hosni Mubarak’s despotic regime over the past 30 years, and that this money has flowed, from the beginning, largely on behalf of Israel.

Israel is generally a significant factor in events in the Middle East, and to understand ongoing happenings it is important to understand the historic and current Israeli connections.

The violent creation, perpetuation, and expansion of a state based on ethnic expulsion of the majority inhabitants has been central to Middle East dynamics ever since Israel was created by European and American Zionists in 1948 as a self-identified “Jewish State.”

Israeli leaders and outside observers realized from the very beginning that the only way to maintain such a violently imposed, ethnically based nation-state was through military dominance of the region. For Israel to achieve this military dominance required two things:

(1) The creation of a military more powerful than all the others in the region combined. Israel has achieved this through a uniquely massive influx of US tax dollars and technology, occasionally purloined but largely procured through the machinations of its lobby. (Among other things, Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons, a fact almost never mentioned by American media or the American government.)

(2) The prevention of any other nation in the region from becoming a threat. Israel has attained this goal through several strategies: divide and conquer techniques, direct invasions and attacks (or pushing the U.S. to carry out attacks), and the propping up of despots who would openly or tacitly agree (sometimes in return for similarly large influxes of American tax money) not to support the rights of those oppressed and ethnically cleansed by Israel.

For the past 30-plus years, Egypt has been among those despotic regimes supported by the U.S. and Israel in return for turning its back on Palestinians.

The Egypt-Israeli peace treaty of 1979 has occasionally been mentioned in news reports on the current uprising. That treaty was an arrangement in which the Egyptian leader of the time, Anwar Sadat, stopped opposing Israel’s previous ethnic cleansing of close to a million indigenous Palestinian Muslims and Christians (at least 750,000 in 1947-49 and an additional 200,000 in 1967). This removed the most populous and politically significant country from the Arab front opposing Israel’s illegal actions and led the way for other nations to “normalize” relations with the abnormal situation in Palestine.

In returnIsrael gave back to Egypt the Sinai, Egyptian land it had illegally annexed in its 1967 war of aggression. (Egypt had almost managed to re-conquer this land and more in 1973, but the most massive airlift in American history, engineered by Henry Kissinger under pressure from the Israeli lobby, was sent to Israel, preventing this outcome.)

Also in return, the United States agreed to give Egypt more US tax money than any other nation, with the exception of Israel. Since 1979, Egypt has received an annual average of close to $2 billion in economic and political aid from American taxpayers (most of whom have known nothing about this use of our money). The arrangement has allowed Mubarak to stay in power for decades despite periodic attempts by Egyptians to free themselves from his ruthless rule.

At the same time, it’s important to note that the U.S., as broker of the peace treaty, gave Israel even greater rewards: guaranteeing Israel’s oil supplies for the next fifteen years; assuring Israel of American support in the event of violations; committing to be “responsive” to Israel’s military and economic requirements; and promising a variety of major transfers of technology and aid, including $3 billion to relocate two Israeli air bases out of the Sinai, where, as journalist Donald Neff noted, they had no right to be in the first place.

In fact, the American financial arrangement with Israel, which had begun years before Egypt’s, has been far cozier than Egypt’s: Israel gets considerably more money from the US, even though its population is one-tenth of Egypt’s; there is little U.S. oversight of how it uses that money; and, unlike Egypt, which receives its allotment monthly, Israel receives its handout in a lump sum at the very beginning of the fiscal year (which means that Americans then pay interest for the rest of the year on money that the government has already given away, while Israel makes interest on it).

In the cases of both Israel and Egypt, the Israel lobby’s role in procuring this U.S. tax money has been central. While this fact is largely missing from US media reports and many liberal/left analyses, it is frequently referred to in Israeli and Jewish media. For example, a current Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) report states: “The question of whether to stake a claim in the protests against 30 years of President Hosni Mubarak’s autocracy is a key one for the pro-Israel lobby and pro-Israel lawmakers because of the role they have played in making Egypt one of the greatest beneficiaries of U.S. aid.”

As conditions change in Egypt, U.S. lawmakers known for their allegiance to Israel are evaluating what to do about U.S aid. Many such Israel partisans have particularly powerful and relevant positions, such as Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the foreign operations subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the House Middle East subcommittee; Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), ranking member on the Foreign Affairs committee and the author of last year’s sweeping Iran sanctions law; and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev), member of the subcommittee on the Middle East of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. A person close to the Israel lobby notes: “No matter what happens, clearly one of the top criteria Congress is likely to use is Egypt’s approach to its peace treaty obligations with Israel.”

Through the years a variety of Egyptian groups have opposed the Egyptian regime, some using violence (while the regime has used greater violence against them). This is virtually always reported without context and in extremely negative terms, without noting that it is routine for resistance movements to use violence; the American Revolutionary War was not known for its nonviolence. Yet, Israeli-centric U.S. media rarely discuss this.

In recent years, Mubarak has collaborated with Israel in closing off the Gaza Strip, largely imprisoning 1.5 million men, women, and children, resulting in a humanitarian disaster in which children suffer malnutrition, stunting, and trauma, and 300 Gazan patients have died through lack of essential medical supplies or being denied exit passes for medical care. Egyptian citizens, furious at their nation’s complicity in this cruelty, have been powerless to stop it.

Israel has long worked to create enmity between Egypt and the U.S. In the early 1950s the Israeli secret service, the Mossad, hatched a plan to firebomb areas in Egypt where Americans gathered — and to make these attacks appear to be the work of Muslim extremists. The plot was discovered and caused a scandal in Israel known as the “Lavon Affair,” but few Americans have ever heard of it. Some analysts suspect that other such plots succeeded and that the little-known Israeli attack on the U.S. Navy ship USS Liberty may have been a similar false-flag operation. (Certainly, there is little doubt that the U.S. would have attacked Egypt if Liberty crewmembers had not succeeded, against all odds, in getting a distress signal out before Israel succeeded in sinking the ship with all men aboard.)

Another little-discussed result of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty was the creation of an international peacekeeping force in the Sinai, known as the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), charged with mediating between Egypt and Israel. It is telling that this force was not placed on Israeli land but instead occupies Egyptian territory.

Its current head is Ambassador David M. Satterfield, an American diplomat who served extensively in the Middle East, was Senior Advisor on Iraq for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and held a number of other high positions in the state department, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

In 2005 Satterfield was named as having provided classified information to an official of the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC. According to documents, Satterfield had discussed secret national security matters in at least two meetings with AIPAC official Steven J. Rosen, who was subsequently indicted by the U.S. Justice Department (later quashed over the objections of the FBI.)

In 2004 Satterfield presided at a State Department conference on the 1967 war. A Washington Report on Middle East Affairs report on this conference stated that Satterfield repeatedly referred to Palestinian terrorism while failing to mention Israel’s brutal attacks on Palestinian civilians. The article reports “Satterfield’s remarks dampened audience expectations for an even-handed U.S. approach to peacemaking.”

Among those in the audience at the conference’s panel on the USS Liberty, though not on the panel itself were USS Liberty survivors, trying to tell their story. State Department moderator Marc Susser quickly cut them off, and his treatment of the survivors reportedly “bordered on abusive.”

Now, David Satterfield is heading up international forces occupying Egyptian land charged with being a “neutral” mediator between Egypt and Israel.

It is unknown whether his conversations with AIPAC continue.

Read more by Alison Weir

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Eurozone Break-Up

http://globalfire.tv

http://telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/8215358/Pimco-says-untenable-policies-will-lead-to-eurozone-break-up.html
20 Dec 2010

Greece, Ireland and Portugal cannot get back on their feet without either their own currency

Pimco says ‘untenable’ policies will lead to eurozone break-up

Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, has called on Greece, Ireland and Portugal to step outside the eurozone temporarily and restructure their debts unless the currency bloc agrees to a radical change of course.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Andrew Bosomworth, head of Pimco’s portfolio management in Europe, said current policies are untenable in the absence of fiscal union and will lead to a break-up of the euro.

“Greece, Ireland and Portugal cannot get back on their feet without either their own currency or large transfer payments,” he told German newspaper Die Welt.

He said these countries could rejoin EMU “after an appropriate debt restructuring”, adding that devaluation would let them export their way back to health.

Mr Bosomworth said EU leaders were too quick to congratulate themselves on saving the euro last week with a deal for a permanent bail-out fund from 2013.

“The euro crisis is not over by a long shot. Market tensions will continue into 2011. The mechanism comes far too late,” he said.

The bond fund argues that the EU strategy of forcing heavily indebted countries to undergo draconian fiscal austerity without offsetting stimulus is unworkable.

The austerity policies are stifling the growth needed to stabilise debt levels.

“Can countries inside a fixed exchange-rate system like the euro grow and tighten budget policy at the same time? I don’t think so. It didn’t work in Argentina,” Mr Bosomworth said.

Pimco also gave warning that the bond vigilantes have lost faith in the policy and are trying to liquidate their holdings of peripheral EMU faster than the European Central Bank (ECB) can buy the debt, causing a relentless rise in yields, and a vicious circle.

Despite this, the ECB said on Monday that it had cut purchases of government debt last week, settling €603m (£509m), down from €2.68bn a week earlier. The withering comments from the world’s top investor in EMU sovereign debt is a blow for Portugal and Spain. Both nations are hoping bond spreads will start to narrow before they face a funding crunch in the first quarter of next year.

Jacques Cailloux, chief Europe economist at RBS, agreed that last week’s European summit had failed to grasp the nettle.

“None of the policy responses put in place in Europe since the start of the crisis provides a credible backstop to prevent further contagion,” Mr Cailloux said.

We remain most concerned about an escalation of the sovereign debt crisis hitting larger economies in the euro area. Markets continue to underestimate the potential disruption via financial transmission channels that such an event could trigger.”

Meanwhile, Spain must cut harder and deeper to rein in its finances, the OECD has warned, calling for an overhaul of its labour laws and employment practices. Madrid is already in the midst of harsh austerity measures, but the influential Paris-based think-tank said more must be done. The Spanish economy should be able to shrink its budget deficit from 11pc of GDP last year to the 6pc target next year, the OECD believes.

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What’s Going on in Tunisia?

http://original.antiwar.com

A revolution in progress

by Justin Raimondo, January 17, 2011

The dethronement of Tunisian strongman Ben Ali, and his flight to Saudi Arabia, has our media conjuring visions of a powerful upsurge of “democratic” populism in what was previously thought of as a minor backwater, famous for its beaches and little else. A friend of the West, Ben Ali was the spitting image of his predecessor, Habib Bourguiba, whom he overthrew in a bloodless coup. Always tempered by the moderate tone of Tunisian politics, which stresses continuity and stability over revolutionary change, Bourguiba and his Destourian (pro-independence) party took decades to negotiate a peaceful transition from French protectorate to full independence in 1956.

For the next thirty years, Bourguiba managed to tamp down popular discontent in all its forms, from the leftist trade unions to the Islamist militants – the latter a very small minority with limited influence. This was done not so much by outright repression, as in other one-party states during the rise of Third World nationalism in the 1960s, but through cooptation – and the strategic gyrations of Bourguiba, a skillful manipulator of competing interests who never let one faction get the upper hand for very long.

As he got into his late seventies, however, the Tunisian strongman who had successfully steered his country toward independence without an armed struggle – as in neighboring Algeria – went downhill physically and mentally, and his policies became increasingly erratic. Things reached the point where his incapacity was obvious even to his most devoted supporters, and so on November 7, 1987, Ben Ali and his supporters invoked an article of the Tunisian constitution which provides for the transfer of power in case of the president’s incapacity.

In his message to the nation announcing the succession of power, Ben Ali was careful to pay tribute to his predecessor, who still enjoyed tremendous prestige as the veritable father of the nation. In accordance with the Tunisian temperament, which values moderation and continuity, he stressed his intent to build on the foundations laid down by the previous regime. In spite of the renaming of the Destourian party, which was now the Destourian Socialist Party, the new ruler was determined to keep the country open to Western development and maintain its official nonaligned stance.

The great problem for the regime, however, was its self-insulating and self-perpetuating statism, which encouraged – indeed, made inevitable – the development of a particularly brazen form of crony capitalism, with the economy in the hands of the state – and the state in the firm grasp of Ben Ali’s immediate and extended family. As a WikiLeaked US diplomatic cable put it:

“Whether it’s cash, services, land, property, or yes, even your yacht, President Ben Ali’s family is rumored to covet it and reportedly gets what it wants. Beyond the stories of the First Family’s shady dealings, Tunisians report encountering low-level corruption as well in interactions with the police, customs, and a variety of government ministries. The economic impact is clear, with Tunisian investors – fearing the long-arm of “the Family” – forgoing new investments, keeping domestic investment rates low and unemployment high. These persistent rumors of corruption, coupled with rising inflation and continued unemployment, have helped to fuel frustration with the GOT and have contributed to recent protests in southwestern Tunisia (Ref A). With those at the top believed to be the worst offenders, and likely to remain in power, there are no checks in the system.”

But of course there is always the ultimate check on the system – revolution in the streets. Which is precisely what happened when a young man by the name of Mohamed Bouazizi, a graduate student forced by poverty to sell fruits and vegetables in the market, set himself on fire in protest at having been denied a permit. Apparently he had declined, or could not afford, to pay off the appropriate party-state officials. His desperate act sparked a series of demonstrations which soon spread beyond his small town in the southwestern countryside, and in a matter of a few weeks Ben Ali was on a plane and out of power.

Tunisia had a brief fling with economic liberalization in Bourguiba’s day, but this was firmly opposed by both Party militants and Islamists, who feared the social consequences of economic liberty (albeit for different reasons). The liberalizing era was soon halted, however, when Bourguiba saw the opposition it was engendering from his most devoted followers, and when Ben Ali took power there was no similar “liberal” phase. By this time the Destourian apparatus had become completely distanced from the people, with party and state effectively merged and all power vested in the person and family of the President. Elections were held periodically, but there was no effective competition, and besides the whole process was rigged.

As we go to “press,” as they used to say, the Tunisian revolution is far from over. A wing of the ruling party has managed, so far, to retain control, and there is some fighting still going on between Ben Ali loyalists and the New Gang in Charge, but the differences between these two factions is marginal, at best, as underscored by this report:

“A state of emergency has now been declared in Tunisia that bans demonstrations and imposes a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew, with orders given to security forces to shoot anyone disobeying orders or fleeing. “

Meet the new boss – same as the old boss.

The “Jasmine Revolution” is being held up as a hopeful harbinger of things to come in the Arab world: for the first time, we are being told, a sclerotic despotism is being challenged and successfully overthrown by a populist uprising. This is simplistic, to say the least.

To begin with, the folks in charge are hardly revolutionaries, but partisans of the old Tunisian establishment – the party of Bourguiba and Ben Ali. Secondly, the Tunisian temperament is not conducive to revolutionary upsurges in the sense that we understand the concept: Tunisians are no more likely to start their own version of the French Revolution than they are likely to convert en masse to Buddhism. It simply goes against the cultural grain.

Yet there are certain economic imperatives – such as a street vendor’s need to make a living – that militate against a return to the old normalcy. With the world economy undergoing a radical contraction, and countries such as Tunisia entirely dependent on foreign trade and aid, demands for economic liberalization are bound to rise – and surely crony corporatism of the Tunisian or any other variety is going to face increasingly militant challenges.

What this portends for US foreign policy is not all that clear at the moment, but one thing is certain: the US is bound to see this turmoil as a wedge to be used by radical Islamists. This is why we pour billions into regimes such as Ben Ali’s – with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak a very similar case. It’s too late to disavow our support for these tyrants: the history of their collaboration with Washington is too extensive to be denied. As the economic screws tighten worldwide, and these rigid, reflexively repressive regimes come apart at the seams, the US will be caught between the need to be “pragmatic” (i.e. preserve stability at all costs) and its rhetorical stance as the standard-bearer of “democracy” and liberalism internationally.

What to do? The only course is to stand aside and let the process work itself out. Intervention at any level is bound to boomerang and have the opposite effect from the one intended. Tunisian nationalism, the overriding ideological force in the nation’s politics and traditions, has a very weak adversary in the Islamist parties, which are all in exile and wield minimal if any influence in the current upsurge. However, that could change if the US hand becomes too apparent: that is, if Washington creates a problem where none presently exists.

The ruling party will no doubt try to secure its tenacious grip on power, and yet that power is being challenged by a secular populist movement. If, if the interests of promoting “stability,” the US gets too close to Ben Ali’s successors, then this will give the Islamists the opening they have been waiting for. I see that our Secretary of State has already made a statement welcoming the prospect of “democratic reform” in Tunisia and calling for calm: if only our public officials did not feel the need to comment on happenings in every country on earth, no matter how far removed from our shores – if only, in short, they would button their lips, for a change, our national interests would be very well served. The best policy, at the moment, is to sit back and watch as the Tunisians take care of business in their own way, and for their own reasons.

Lots of Westerners fell for the “’Tunisian success story” narrative, which Christopher Hitchens limned pretty well in a 2007 article for Vanity Fair:

“Who wouldn’t want the alternative of an African Titoism, or perhaps an African Gaullism, where presidential rule keeps a guiding but not tyrannical hand? A country where people discuss micro-credits for small business instead of “macro” schemes such as holy war? Mr. Ben Ali does not make lengthy speeches on TV every night, or appear in gorgeously barbaric uniforms, or live in a different palace for every day of the week. Tunisia has no grandiose armed forces, the curse of the rest of the continent, feeding parasitically off the national income and rewarding their own restlessness with the occasional coup.

“And the country is lucky in other ways as well. … It has been spared the awful toxicity of ethnic and religious rivalry, which makes it very unusual in Africa. Its international airport is named Tunis-Carthage, evoking African roots without Afrocentric demagogy.”

For Hitchens, it is enough that the country is not afflicted with what he regards as the curse of religiosity, and he goes on to detail the views of a female professor of theology attached to a Tunis mosque and university who denies the veil is mandated by the Koran. Hitchens characterizes the Ben Ali regime’s attempts to police the internet as “crude and old-fashioned” – not repressive. His main concern is that Islamist radicals who are not “welcome” in Tunisia are given somewhat freer rein in England, from which they broadcast their message, and he ends his piece with this warning:

“An enclave of development, Tunisia is menaced by the harsh extremists of a desert religion, and ultimately by the desert itself. As with everything else in Africa, this is not a contest we can view with indifference.”

The Bourguibas and Ben Alis who created this “enclave of development” sowed the seeds of their own destruction, and yet as long as no one was rocking the boat Hitchens and his fellow interventionists were willing to tolerate their “old fashioned” tyranny. The problem with this kind of ideological one-dimensionality is that it doesn’t take into account the Mohamed Bouazizis of this world, who yearn to be free.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

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