Empires, Freedom, and Liberty

Below is an excerpt from a speech by anti-big government libertarian Lew Rockwell. This speech was delivered on October 28, 2006, at "Imperialism: Enemy of Freedom," the Mises Institute Supporter’s Summit. He mentions that fall-out from the Iraq invasion may tarnish good Republican causes, such as free markets. Don’t read this if you believe US foreign policy is in good hands.

Link: How Empires Bamboozle the Bourgeoisie – Mises Institute.

What must a person forget in order to believe in the unity of interest between US foreign policy and the American people? They must forget that the United States was born in revolt against not only the British Empire but also the very idea of empire itself. They must forget that the only way the US Constitution was adopted was the promise that it would not act imperialistically at home or abroad. They must forget the warnings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many other leaders of the 18th and 19th centuries. They must forget about the history of failure of our own imperial wars in the 20th century, in which guerrilla armies have consistently beat back our regular troops.

Every American is right to be mighty angry at the Bush administration. Bush originally campaigned against the big government of Clinton and called for humility in foreign policy. And what did the Republicans do with their political capital? They squandered every last bit of it on an imperial adventure. In so doing, they further discredited other causes with which the Republicans are linked in the public mind, including the cause of free markets. War is all they have to show for themselves, and it’s a disgrace.

And at this late stage in the Iraq conflict, the Bush-run state is asking us to forget even how the Iraq war began. Recall that the idea was to bomb Baghdad, create shock and awe, decapitate the head of state, and then watch as the rest of the country celebrated their liberation from Saddam. Today, Iraq is a country in ruins. Death and violence are everywhere. The reconstruction is going nowhere. Almost 10% of the population has fled. The only immigrants coming in are those swearing to kill.

And yet I read the headline of the New York Times, which quotes what is passed on as some sort of revelation from the military commanders in Iraq. They have decided that the future of Iraq depends heavily on taking Baghdad, cleaning out its rebels and dissidents, and enforcing this through massive violence.

Folks, this is how this war began. And it is how this war is ending.

But let me say something in defense of the US military commanders in Iraq who concocted this latest scheme. There is something intuitively plausible and honest about the statement that if a government can’t control its own capital, it cannot control the rest of the country.

In fact, I propose that the same approach be used domestically. Before the federal government makes any more attempts to bring their proposed utopia to the rest of the country, let them eliminate poverty, crime, gang war, hate, despair, abuse, corruption, and injustice in Washington, D.C. Once that city is cleared of all such vice, we can talk about moving on to other parts of the country.

I think we can safely predict a quagmire.

The United States has no business attempting to run a government in Iraq, halfway across the world. A policy maker who claims to be surprised by the resistance is feigning ignorance of the heritage of the US. We are all rebels in our hearts. Anyone who longs for freedom must be.

Big Oil’s 10 favorite members of Congress

MSN Money columnist Jim Jubak describes why alternative energy gets very little financial support from the federal government. Big Oil knows how to maintain its monopoly — investing in Washington politicians.

Link: Big Oil’s 10 favorite members of Congress – MSN Money

Wonder why we don’t have a national energy policy or a serious push toward alternatives? Follow the money that oil and gas companies send to Congress.

Amazed that Washington loves to talk about energy research with promise 15 years down the road, but won’t put significant money into alternative technologies that could reduce energy consumption now?

For answers to all those questions and more, just follow the money. Nothing about U.S. energy policy should be a surprise if you know where the money’s been going and which legislators have taken the biggest payouts from the energy industry. So don’t miss your only chance in the next two years — the Nov. 7 election — to tell Congress what you think of its sellout to the energy companies.

The top five contributors were Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Valero Energy, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Here are the top 10 — all Republicans — as complied by the Center for Responsive Politics:

Big Oil’s 10 favorite Congress members
Rank Candidate Office Amount given by oil and gas industry

1

Hutchison, Kay Bailey, R-Texas

Senate

$258,361

2

Burns, Conrad, R-Mont.

Senate

$188,775

3

Santorum, Rick, R-Pa.

Senate

$188,120

4

Bode, Denise, R-Okla.

House

$153,650

5

Allen, George, R-Va.

Senate

$148,600

6

Talent, James M., R-Mo.

Senate

$147,470

7

Cornyn, John, R-Texas

Senate

$142,750

8

Barton, Joe, R-Texas

House

$138,450

9

Hastert, Dennis, R-Ill.

House

$122,200

10

Pombo, Richard, R-Calif.

House

$121,340

Data from the FEC as of Sept. 11, 2006. Compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

avily to Texas Rep. Joe Barton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; to Sens. James Talent of Missouri, Conrad Burns of Montana and George Allen of Virginia, all of whom sit on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; to Illinois’ Dennis Hastert, speaker of the House, who plays a huge role in deciding what legislation moves to the floor for a vote and what doesn’t; and to Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum, head of the Senate Republican Conference and announced candidate for Republican whip in 2006 if he wins re-election.

ngressional critics of global-warming theories. At a recent congressional hearing, he said, "As long as I am chairman, (regulating the gases that produce global warming) is off the table indefinitely. I don’t want there to be any uncertainty about that." But Barton’s likely replacement would be John Dingell, D-Mich., a fierce advocate for the U.S. automobile industry.

No matter how the elections turn out this year, of course, the connection between money and politicians will survive. Incumbents of both parties know that taking the money out of politics — I mean, really taking it out — would destroy one of most effective tools they have for assuring their own re-election. Taking the money out of campaigns is less likely than the Easter Bunny passing out eggs in January.

So vote your convictions. Throw this year’s bums out. They certainly deserve it. Then watch to see which newly elected politicians start quickly to work to become next year’s bums.

Winning the War on Terror

Tom Evslin at Fractals of Change offers six steps to victory for Winning the War on Terror. These ideas are probably too reasonable to be supported in Washington, where strategy is too often based on cliches and under-the-table profiteering.

Link: Fractals of Change: Winning the War on Terror.

Start a dramatic program to reduce US dependence on foreign oil (and establish US leadership in alternatives). 

Way too much oil money ends up directly supporting terrorists or running schools for future terrorists or supporting absurd monarchies in countries which spawn terrorists. 

End the war on drugs. 

We aren’t going to “win” this one.  Attempts to keep drugs illegal just drive up drug prices and profits for the drug trade.  Terrorists and drug cartels are natural allies.

Partition and leave Iraq.
Time’s up.  I’m still not at all sorry Saddam was toppled.  I still remember that he did not allow the UN inspections required to assure that he did not have WMD.  That was his mistake and not ours.  But creating a democracy in Iraq is a job for Iraqis. 

Take effective action to topple the regime in North Korea.
The most dangerous illusion in the world is that joining the nuclear club puts a country beyond restraint. 

Depolarize our domestic debate on civil liberties.
This debate is much too important for the name-calling it’s degenerated into.

Rename the war on terror.
…much of the world is at war, with Islamic fascists. In fact, no one suffers from radical Islam more than Moslems.  There is no point in being politically correct and not recognizing our enemy. 

Google to House Largest U.S. Corporate Solar Installation

GreenBiz News describes Google’s plans to install 9000+ solar panels on rooftops and above parking areas. This is a great example of how to generate electricity while reducing the heat build-up in buildings and parked cars.

Google continues to take the lead in using technology intelligently.

Link: GreenBiz News | Google to House Largest U.S. Corporate Solar Installation

Google will house the largest corporate solar installation in the U.S., according to EI Solutions, the company installing the system.

EI Solutions, the systems integration arm of Energy Innovations, Inc., says it will begin constructing a solar electricity system for Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters campus. With a total capacity of 1.6 megawatts — enough to supply 1,000 average California homes — the Google system will be the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S. and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world.

The project will involve 9,212 solar panels provided by Sharp Electronics. A majority will be placed on the rooftops of some of the buildings in the Googleplex and others will provide shaded parking as part of newly constructed solar panel support structures on existing Google parking lots. The solar energy will be used to power several of Google’s Mountain View office facilities.

"When the project is completed this spring, Google employees, shareholders and the community around us will begin to enjoy the environmental as well as economic benefits of clean, renewable energy generated on-site," says David Radcliffe, vice president of real estate at Google.

A three-dimensional representation of how the project may look once completed can be viewed online at www.eispv.com.

Americans Understand: Oil Money Funds Terrorism

Thomas Friedman, in an opinion column in The New York Times on Oct 13, 2006 entitled The Energy Mandate, cited an Aug. 27 survey of likely voters that asked the following question:

“Which of the following would you say should be the two most important national security priorities for the administration and Congress over the next few years?”

Here are the results:

42 percent – reducing dependence on foreign oil

26 percent – combating terrorism

25 percent – the war in Iraq

21 percent – securing our ports, nuclear plants and chemical factories

21 percent – addressing dangerous countries like Iran and North Korea

12 percent – strengthening America’s military

Does this suggest that the American public understands that as long as we continue to spend billions of dollars on oil in terror-supporting countires like Saudi Arabia (the origin of most of the 9/11 hijackers), Iran, Nigeria, and Venezuela, well-funded terrorists can continue their destruction of peaceful societies?

Emmanuel’s Dream – Disability Does Not Mean Inability

Emmanuel Osofu Yeboah has faced a lot of obstacles in his life. With persistance and some helping hands he has had an amazing journey.

Link: Emmanuel’s Dream – Disability Does Not Mean Inability

On May 5th, 1977, in Ghana, West Africa, Emmanuel Osofu Yeboah was both born – and abandoned. Upon discovering Emmanuel had a severely deformed right leg, Dickson Kwadjo Ofosu, disgraced by his son’s disability, walked out on his family. Emmanuel’s mother, Comfort Yeboah, was advised to kill her son. But rather than surrender to society’s perception that disabled children are the result of a family curse, or a punishment from a deity for a parent’s past transgressions, Comfort neither killed Emmanuel, nor sent him to the streets to beg, as expected. Instead, she enrolled him in school and taught him to believe that he deserved the same treatment, opportunities and privileges as able-bodied Ghanaians.

…on July 14, 2005 Oprah Winfrey presented Emmanuel and his friend, Jim MacLaren with the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY’s. The two men received an emotional, five-minute standing ovation. Previous winners include Muhammad Ali, Jim Valvano, and Billie Jean King.

More Shortsighted Law-Making

Robert X. Cringely says that the new law against Internet gambling is unenforceable and will eventual fund outlaw groups who can exploit this law. Excerpts below.

Link: PBS | I, Cringely . October 6, 2006 – Risky Business

Last Saturday the United States Congress passed a port security bill that carried an amendment banning Internet gambling. This was a huge mistake, not because Internet gambling is a good thing (it was already illegal, in fact), but because the new law is either unenforceable or — if it can be enforced — will tear away the last shreds of financial privacy enjoyed by U.S. citizens.

…The amendment was a surprise late addition, pushed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has presidential ambitions and reportedly sees this battle against Internet gambling as part of his eventual campaign platform.

Only the new law isn’t really against Internet gambling at all, since it specifically authorizes intrastate Internet gambling, imposing on the net the artificial constraint of state boundaries. So the law that is supposed to end Internet gambling for good will actually make the practice more common, though evidently out of the hands of foreigners, which in this case includes not just operators from the UK but, if you live in South Carolina as I do, it also includes people from Florida and New York. Let a million local poker hands be dealt.

What the new law actually tries to control is the payment of gambling debts through the U.S. banking system, making such practices illegal (except, of course, for intrastate gambling, which probably means your state lottery).

Is the end here really worth the effort? The United States already has strict, even draconian, controls over fund transfers that might potentially be used to pay for terrorist activity. Buy a house or open a brokerage account and see how deep an interest the bank takes in where the heck your money is coming from. Now it is proposed that they apply the same diligence to transactions as small as one dollar.

This is ridiculous, not just because it is an unwarranted invasion of privacy, not just because we as consumers will ultimately have to pay for the cost of snitching on ourselves, but because the system of regulation ultimately won’t work. With an Internet gambling market approaching $20 billion per year, there is a huge incentive for new enterprises to spring into being specifically to get around this law. Frankly, it ought to be easy.

Any random group of 535 nerds is smarter than the 535 members of the U.S. Congress and able to circumvent ANY regulation if there is enough profit incentive to do so. Well the U.S. Congress has just created such an incentive where there was none before. And once these various payment schemes start appearing, what’s to say some of them can’t be equally used to finance terrorism? Of course they can be used for that purpose. Thanks a lot Senator Frist.

Here’s a law that purports to end Internet gambling but will instead enable it, a law that is intended to make certain types of financial transactions harder to do but will ultimately make them easier, a law that says nothing about terrorism but will ultimately abet it, making us all less secure in the process.

There is, to my knowledge, no center for Al-Qaida hacking, nor is terrorism as an industry big enough to attract much third-party software development. But ally the interests of terrorists and Internet gamblers who all want to be paid, that’s a $20 billion incentive to corrupt the world financial system — an incentive that didn’t exist before last week.

And what will be our institutional response to these obvious flaws when they come to light? More regulation of course! More scrutiny of financial transactions, not less. But as we’ve seen in recent years, this greater scrutiny often comes with lax or unequal enforcement, depending on your campaign contributions.

Once again, Congress is proposing to regulate something it ought not to — something that in any practical sense is probably beyond its power. And the result will be only bad, not good. And Congress’s response will probably be even more regulation, not less. And all this to push one man’s presidential ambitions?