Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Go here to read Brendan O'Neill's insightful analysis of the war."[T]here has been no serious debate, no serious analysis, no concern with the rights and liberty of the Afghan people. Instead, 130 years after the British Empire first began to unravel in Afghanistan, now the very British state unravels there too. All of this should remind us of the importance of making the principled anti-interventionist argument in relation to Western militarism overseas – not in order to save 'our boys' or hide at home out of fear and defeatism, but in the name of the democratic rights of foreign peoples and of tackling domestic political crises head-on rather than projecting them 'over there'." That's exactly right. It's too bad that so much"anti-war" opinion is not founded on a principled argument against the war.
Tim Black makes a similar argument here.
David T. Beito
Had Lincoln let a weak Gulf Coast CSA secede in 1861, sans Virginia, North Carolina, Tennesse, and Arkansas, it would have been extremely vulnerable to internal rebellions of this type both by dissident whites and slaves.
David T. Beito
Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff has arrived at federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, CNBC has learned, though it is still not clear if that will be his permanent home.
President Barack Obama and the sitting members of Congress have not been charged, much less convicted and sentenced, for crimes that make Bernie Madoff’s look like child’s play. Note well: I am referring here not to the assorted murders, assaults, and batteries for which these men and women are manifestly guilty - I say guilty because they not only admit these crimes, but proudly take public credit for them - but to certain of their strictly financial crimes.
Madoff, 71, was sentenced last month to 150 years in prison after pleading guilty in March to charges that his investment advisory business was a multibillion-dollar scheme that wiped out thousands of investors and ruined charities.
Madoff caused people to lose billions of dollars. The U.S. government has caused people to lose trillions of dollars, and it’s not finished yet. The public’s losses mount during every minute of every day. By its effects in discouraging work, saving, and investment, and thereby reducing capital accumulation, the U.S. Social Security system has caused the nation’s gross domestic product to fall significantly below the levels it would otherwise have reached. According to Professor Edgar K. Browning, a leading researcher in this field, “the available evidence suggests that Social Security has reduced [current] GDP by 5 to 10 percent.” Ten percent of GDP is now approximately $1.4 trillion - or about 28 times the maximum amount Madoff is believed to have cost his clients. Moreover, Madoff’s harm is a one-shot loss, whereas the U.S. government’s Social Security harm is an ongoing loss that grows annually. In the future, the annual loss will be even greater than the currently estimated $1.4 trillion or so.
Authorities said Madoff had carried out the fraud for at least two decades before confessing to his sons in December that his investment business was a fraud and that he had lost as much as $50 billion.
The leaders of the U.S. government have carried out their Social Security fraud - essentially a Ponzi scheme, in substance exactly the same as Madoff’s scheme - since 1935, and they have yet to confess to their crimes, unless their family members have been told and have kept the confession to themselves.
Madoff, in contrast to the government, carried out his fraud in a civilized way: he merely misrepresented what he was doing, purporting to invest his clients’ money and to obtain a high rate of return on these investments. People dealt with him voluntarily. Those who suspected something was fishy did not do business with him, and some people went so far as to give substantial information to the SEC to show that Madoff’s business had to be fraudulent (which information the SEC ignored for years on end, of course).
The U.S. government, however, does not bother to claim any prowess in investing the money it forces people to surrender to its scheme. It admits that the “client’s” return is now close to zero (varying a bit according to the client’s age and other factors). Nor does it carry out its admitted Ponzi scheme in a civilized way. Not only is participation in the scheme involuntary, but the government threatens violence against anyone who fails to participate as it commands him. Thus, the government operates its Ponzi scheme in a markedly more thuggish manner than Bernie would ever have dreamed of. He might have been a crook, but he was not a thug.
Everyone (including Bernie himself) agrees that Bernie Madoff was a crook. What is the correct term for the U.S. government, or does the word government tell us everything we need to know about the honesty, humanity, and justice of its actions?
"The Canadians, who have suffered terrible losses, have shown their sovereignty by signalling their intention to leave [Afghanistan] in 2011. Why not Britain?"
"Like the Canadians, they should give a date for withdrawal, to stop wasting British lives and to isolate Obama in his wrong-headed policy."
David T. Beito
"No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top."
Jonathan J. Bean
With my book launch complete ("Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader"), I have time to revive my several blogs. I have been most active over at "Beacon" so I will crosspost several recent links before plugging away here at HNN, there at Beacon, and at my Digital History web site ("eHistory"). No rest for weary bloggers, eh?
FYI: My new book on the classical liberal tradition of race and immigration is aimed at the classroom market and general reader, and priced accordingly.
(**End of shameless self-promotion***).
"Democracy is Dead":
"Classical Liberalism and the Fight for Civil Rights":
and my July 4th celebration of Frederick Douglass, the pivotal figure in my book:
"Why Frederick Douglass Still Matters":
-Alec Baldwin to Sarah Palin (2008)
If there’s any solace in the W Administration’s shredding of Our Country Tis of Thee, it’s that he has dragged down his Republican Party along with everything else. As proof to support my claim, I give you Sarah Palin.
I’ve written about her before but she keeps popping back into my life through the magazines and newspapers that I frequent. This last instance was the August 2009 Vanity Fair, which greeted our dame with a scathing attack on her and everything she stands for. Yet, even a magazine that prides itself on decorum and good taste couldn’t help but post a picture of Mrs. Palin, under label #1, in a very tight skirt, rear view. Why not just put her in a bikini for the next photo op and be done with it?
The RNC is so desperate for a path to follow, so devoid of any principles or ideas to guide them and their friends back to power, that they will cross any line and in Mrs. Palin they have the Republican Party’s pin-up girl, thereby gaining themselves that crucial voting block of males who like to watch women in bikinis fire automatic weapons, yet thankfully (from the point of view of a libertarian) sinking themselves to the level of the New York Libertarian Party’s 1994 nomination of Howard Stern for governor.
Aeon J. Skoble
Berry explains how as the twentieth century unfolded successive British administrations embarked upon unwise policies that led to disastrous consequences for Britain and the West. He explains how they ignored Lord Salisbury's dictum that"Isolation is much less dangerous than the danger of being dragged into wars which do not concern us." And how, after the First World War, much of the British elite was (1)"obsessed, then as now, by the 'special relationship' with their American cousins," and (2) enthralled with Wilsonian internationalism.
Berry concludes:"Great play is still made of the UK resisting Germany and Continental Europe alone in 1940. This book explains how Britain had come to such a position and Buchanan makes it clear that the German military victories of 1940 were only part of the story. Pursuing a League of Nations agenda, antagonising Japan and Italy, keeping the Soviet Union at arms length were all a prelude to the disaster of 1940. Against a more astute German leader than Hitler these policies would certainly have led to the loss of the war. As it was, they merely led to the loss of the British Empire. Pat Buchanan has done a tremendous service by pointing all this out in his frank and well written book."
You can read the review in pdf format here.
David T. Beito
This is the second in a series of photos relating to my book (co-authored by Linda Royster Beito), Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009).
The book is about the civil rights leader, self-help champion, entrepreneur, and surgeon, T.R.M. Howard.
In addition to being one of the wealthiest blacks in Mississippi, and a mentor to the likes of Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer, Howard had a reputation of as America's"greatest black big gamehunter" and led safaris to Africa, India, and Alaska. In this picture, taken in his Chicago office about a year before his death, some of his trophies are prominently displayed.
The good news is that reducing the number of such weapons helps to reduce the risks associated with them—still the most critical threat to humanity, notwithstanding the end of the Cold War twenty years ago.
The bad news is that even if the totals should ultimately be reduced to the ranges stipulated in the agreement, both sides will still have an absurdly large number of such weapons. It is fair to say that a nuclear exchange between these two countries that involved only a hundred large warheads on each side would wreak almost unimaginable death and destruction and extend its consequent horrors throughout the entire world, owing to the spread of radiation and the calamitous effects on the world economy.
What possible benefit warrants the continuing retention of such horrifying potential for global harm by either government? International communism is defunct as a serious threat to mankind. Even if its containment justified the maintenance of the gigantic U.S. nuclear arsenal during the Cold War—a highly debatable proposition in itself—no such justification now exists.
Obama and Medvedev have undertaken to move their governments in the right direction, but they need to move them much, much farther. Nothing short of scrapping these horrible, intrinsically indiscriminating weapons entirely will suffice to eliminate their terrible threat to mankind and other living creatures.
I believe that you, like Ron Paul, are simply incorrect about several of the so-called"Founding Fathers," such as George Washington being"Non-interventionists," or"Isolationists," whichever term you prefer to use.
The General very much wanted an American Empire, and after the 1775 attack on Canada failed, tried, in 1781, to launch another attack, using the Vermont MIlitia. Ethan Allen told his emissary, LaFayette, the Militia would require three things: "Double Pay, Double Rations, and [Imperial?] Plunder." Those demands ended that fiasco. This came at a time when the Revolution was supposedly under severe stress in the South.
The whole notion of our Revolution's success being very much in doubt, fostered by people today like David McCullough, is essentially nonsense, when viewed from the perspective of what we know of contemporary Insurgency Theory. The British had to leave Boston and later Philadelphia because of the strength of the American forces. They controlled only New York City for most of the War, and that was convenient for American farmers to obtain British gold.
The Brits seldom ventured out in less than battalion force. Twice they sent armies into the interior, and lost them both as predicted by Tom Paine. A third of the Hessian mercenary force, the Blackwater of that day, 5,000 men, went over the hill, urged by Americans, usually to marry American women. This happened as well later to the Japanese Army bogged down in China for 8 years, but on an even more massive scale.
Finally, American privateers took over 1,500 prizes during the War, which drove Brit insurance rates sky high and caused many to seek an end to the fighting. That "loot" was a major factor in financing the emerging Industrialization in New England.
Creating this notion of an American Revolution in "Crisis" has been an important background aspect of building a similar Myth today, that our very existence is threatened by some "Terrorists," hiding out in the hills of Afghanistan, and which necessitates our spending about as much on "Defense" as the rest of the world combined! To the extent there was ever a Crisis in our Revolution, it was because Washington, with the exception of Trenton, insisted, on the whole, of fighting a conventional 18th century war, rather than the guerrilla, partisan warfare tactics advocated by some of his officers. The strength of the Revolution was so great, it succeeded in spite of these at times erroneous tactics.
Even in the 1750s, Imperialists such as Franklin wanted an American Bank to compete in paper money with the Bank of England. The boys who brought us the "Fed" in 1913 were, no doubt, aware of Franklin's ideas. He, and others such as Paine, certainly frightened the Brits with his idea that the Empire should be increasingly ruled from "across the Pond," where, given the land mass, the population was growing rapidly. The Brits had responded by the Proclamation Line of 1763. Later, when in 1778. George III solicited advice from British intellectuals, Adam Smith told the King that truth, although that leter was not discovered until 1934.
If Washington was such a "non-interventionist," rather than a "Unilateral" Empire builder, how would you explain his intervention in the Revolution in Haiti in the 1790s; $726,000, when that was considerable "foreign aid," in an attempt to help keep the Creoles in power, rather than allow the Black slaves to achieve independence? Here we have the prototype of US Counter-Revolutionary doctrine from then right up until today, certainly evident from the Philippines adventure in 1898 and after.
These Empire Builders, such as Washington, hated the Second Amendment and the Militia about which it was written, the latter quite obviously during the American Revolution itself, precisely because they couldn't be ordered around to do his bidding, then or later. As, Richard Kohn has noted, Washington attempted to "Murder" the Militia system in the 1790s as well, and in 1906 Elihu Root finished the job, when as the primary policy architect for the Imperial Party after 1898, as both Sec. State & Sec. War, he essentially organized the guidelines of the Empire along the present lines we still see in Iraq and Afghanistan today.
I think both you, Ron Paul and others, who talk about the "Founders" as you do, are simply wrong about some of them, especially Washington! You play into the hands of the Empire advocates today by continuing such errors! I have written a great deal on all of the above, most of it available on the Internet for anyone who is interested in a dissenting opinion to what has become, apparently, "Libertarian doctrine."
Aeon J. Skoble
Jane S. Shaw
Higher education is riddled with incentives that lead to inefficiency, political control, and higher costs. There’s a serious “principal/agent” problem. (This economic term refers to the tendency of managers [agents] to follow their own interests rather than those of the principals [the owners]). One reason the issue is so important in higher ed: No one knows who the principals are!
Robert E. Martin, a retired economist, has written an enormously important paper that focuses on the causes, rather than the symptoms, of problems in higher education, and especially on the principal/agent problem. “The Revenue-to-Cost Spiral in Higher Education,” specifically addresses higher costs but tells us much more. The Pope Center has just published it and I encourage you to read it. If the paper is a little lengthy for you, read George Leef's column about it instead.
In keeping with my faith in the History News Network, I turned there for a source of inspiration. I read two articles by Thomas Fleming, both engaging in some sort of dream conversation with George Washington: http://hnn.us/articles/88215.html; http://hnn.us/articles/95850.html
There was only one comment, by our own Jonathan Dresner, which I found about as appropriate a response as was possible: “Prof. Fleming has now successfully demolished the myth that George Washington was a man of wisdom, restraint, or dignity. At least I think that’s what he was doing. . . .” Right on, Jonathan!
A bit distraught, however, at all this, I turned to the Wall Street Journal, perhaps for some deeper wisdom around which to celebrate this day, and found a piece by that observer of all good things Republican and American, Peggy Noonan, “Making History: In appreciation of our country’s founders and our greatest living historian.”
Peggy had taken most of her quotes celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence from David McCullough’s book John Adams, later, of course, after all of the literary awards such as a Pulitzer Prize, made into a successful PBS television series. The last half of her article was a paean to McCullough, and of a meeting she attended, where he spoke....
“and David McCullough rose to speak of Washington, of his courage and leadership. A storm had been gathering all day. Now it broke, and as he spoke of Valley Forge there was, literally, a sudden roar of thunder, and lightning lit the clouds over the river. Mr. McCullough continued, with his beautiful voice, and we all got a chill: What kind of moment is this? What could we possibly have done to deserve it?
Nothing of course. Some gifts are just given.
That's what Mr. McCullough's work has been, a gift, one big enough for a nation. So thanks today to the memory of John and Tom and George, and old Ben, and John Dickinson, and Caesar Rodney too. Good work, gentlemen. You too, David.”
Was this the same book on John Adams that I had reviewed for a publication of the American Enterprise Institute when it came out in 2001? In that book, the author, a chap also named David McCullough, was a bit confused about the relationship between Abigail Adams, and the great historian of the Revolution, Mercy Otis Warren, calling them just “friends,” when they were cousins. Ah well, here in the South female cousins are great to have, sometimes for even sexual relationships, but surely the Puritanical John would never have thought of such a thing, especially since the arch-Republican, Mercy Otis, was always scolding him in letters, even decades after the Revolution, for his pretentious, often almost monarchical behaviors!
That was a minor slip on McCullough’s part, one that could be easily forgiven. On the other hand, I noted, he accepted Adams’ supposed assessment that only a third of the Americans supported the Revolution, a third opposed it, and a third were neutral. This was a much more serious question of interpretation, one that had crept into numerous American histories as early as 1902, and which has been repeated ad nauseum for generations, by serious historians as well as popular ones such as Ms Noonan’s hero.
I had addressed this question in 1975 in ”The American Revolution and the Minority Myth.” This is not the place to launch into a full-scale interpretation of the nature of the American Revolution and its relevance for today when the United States has evolved into a great Imperial super-power, with thoroughly “counter-revolutionary” policies militarily, in foreign affairs, and in so-called developmental economic aid as well. And, yet . . .
If Mr. McCullough’s interpretation in both his Adams’ book and his later 1776 were correct, our Revolution was carried out as a kind of minority “coup,” sort of like what some critics are accusing the Iranian Mullahs of doing in the face of protests today. It is certainly true George Washington, in consistent Imperial fashion, was still trying to “take” Canada as late as 1781 as the War was ending, and as President in 1792 gave massive aid to the French Creoles in Haiti in an effort to halt the Black Revolution there, but this “interventionism” on his part was not true of the American nation's attitude as a whole. Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys had told those with an Imperial view of taking Canada, in essence,"to stuff it" in 1781, and had gone home rather than mount such an expedition.
In a number of articles found at the Independent Institute web site, www.independent.org and at my own site, www.marinareport.com, I have sought to show that the American Revolution was a great “People’s War,” whose ideas and tactics have been copied by many revolutionaries around the world, even as our own Government has itself become increasingly counter-revolutionary on a global scale.
Mr. McCullough is, of course, a powerful practitioner of narrative history, one who certainly knows the right line for a “Court” historian of the Empire to take in order to be rewarded by those who offer honors and remuneration for such “fawning” history. His interpretive framework, to the extent there is one in his books but never quite openly articulated, is almost always conservative to reactionary!
On the jacket of the Adams book, for example, it announces McCullough was also awarded a Pulitzer for his book on Harry S. Truman. Go to that book, and see in its over one-thousand pages if you can discover even the slightest hint that it was Mr. Truman who first involved the US into the Vietnam imbroglio.
FDR, whatever his foibles in leading the nation through a “backdoor to war” in WWII, had made it not only a War to defeat Fascism, but Colonialism as well. His Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, had been, as a young Congressman from Tennessee decades before, one of the original American Anti-Imperialists, seeking to free The Philippines, which had been promised Independence in 1936 and which was fulfilled a decade later.
One of those who took such promises seriously was Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. American airmen who were shot down and rescued by the Viet Minh were escorted back to American lines. Those unlucky enough to fall into the hands of the extensive Chinese forces in the South, were usually sold to the Japanese. In the Japanese offensive in the area in 1944, the Chinese fell back and allowed the Japanese forces to capture a number of American bases and airmen. No wonder that Gen. Stilwell was not exactly an admirer of Chiang K’ai Shek. All of this is well documented in official US Military histories, and should not have been news to Mr. McCullough.
On assuming power, Mr. Truman reversed those policies. The British gave the Japanese in Vietnam their guns back to keep out the Vietnamese forces until the French could return. Mr. Truman offered the French some 15 boatloads of military equipment for Vietnam. To their credit, American longshoremen would not load the stuff, and so Harry had the military do so. That great Radical, Gen, Douglas MacArthur, called this perhaps the “most despicable act of WWII.” It was but a prelude, as we well know, to American policies there in the years to come, and, our final defeat in 1975. from which we appear to have learned nothing, as we again"hunker down," this time for a long haul in the Middle East and South Asia, with no end, let alone"Victory," in sight!
And so, as we celebrate this Fourth, Prof. Fleming communing in dreams with George Washington, and Ms Noon enthralled over the “greatest living historian,” let some of us attempt to use this day to try to understand why this nation is looked upon by many around the world, no longer as a bastion of Independence, Liberty and Freedom, but as the very center of Counter-revolution, in all of its numerous manifestations, including outright Occupation, something we once had the honesty to call"Colonialism!" With even the Water Torture in vogue with creatures like Dick Cheney, and Obama now protecting him, it appears to be The Philippines in 1898 all over again. Even that"Sage," Yogi Berra, ought to be able to see that, even if some historians and their admirers cannot!