Memorial Day

ronpaulpatriotism

Today is Memorial Day in America. Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in 1868 by a union army veterans group to honor union army vets that died in the civil war. In 1967 Memorial Day was made a federal holiday and had informally switched from honoring only those who died in the civil war to honoring American veterans who died in all American wars.

Libertarian anarchy is explicitly an anti-war political philosophy. This is because libertarian anarchy is an explicitly anti-aggression philosophy. The same Non-Aggression Principle that governs the behavior of individuals also applies to nation-states. Combined with a non-interventionist foreign policy and radical laissez-fair economics, libertarian anarchy can be seen as having an attitude of live and let live pacifism. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are undoubtedly some anarchists who consider themselves pacifist, the vast majority of anarcho-capitalists wouldn’t hesitate to use violence in the case of self-defense. This extends to defense of country.

It’s unfortunate that being anti-war is seen as anti-American in our modern-day political culture. Maybe it’s more unfortunate that in order to qualify as a patriotic American today you must support all of the empire’s wars of aggression without question.

It isn’t unpatriotic to say that spending trillions of dollars, while selling our grandchildren into debt slavery, to prosecute wars in the middle east has made us less safe as a country.

It isn’t unpatriotic to say that actively supporting, funding, and arming rebel groups in Syria and elsewhere (the same groups that perpetrated 9/11, by the way) is a bad idea.

And it isn’t unpatriotic to say that dropping tens of thousands of bombs and killing tens of thousands of civilians across the middle east probably isn’t the best way to win the hearts and minds of the people. And that maybe, just maybe, the alarming rise in Islamic terrorism is, at least in part, blowback from the decades of intervention in the region.

The best way to honor fallen veterans isn’t to wrap yourself in the flag, it’s to start questioning the policies that have created so many of them in the first place.

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Government vs Market Resource Allocation

Yesterday on Lew Rockwell’s outstanding site, Walter Williams wrote a piece on differences between the way the market allocates resources and the way that government allocates resources.

Per Walter Williams:

“Free market allocation is conflict-reducing, whereas government allocation enhances the potential for conflict. But I’m all too afraid that most Americans want to be able to impose their preferences on others. Their vision doesn’t differ from one that says, “I don’t want my children to say morning prayers, and I’m going to force you to live by my preferences.” The issue of prayers in school is just a minor example of people’s taste for tyranny.”

There are two major points to make here. The first is that when governments act, social conflict is almost always increased because resource allocation by political means is almost always a zero-sum game. Williams uses the example of prayer in government schools. There are only two options: prayer in all government schools or no prayer in any government schools. Either way, someone loses. This is not the case when the voluntary market acts, though. The outcome is peaceful because it allows people of different opinions to express their preferences without conflict. If all schools were private, though, you could put your child in a school that allows prayer and I could put my child in a school that doesn’t.

The second point is to understand the danger of people using the government as a weapon. They seek to inflict and enforce their preferences and morality on everyone else in society.  You can see examples of this everywhere you look. Take your morally outraged Facebook friends who insist that not only is healthcare is a right, but also that no amount of tax dollars is too much to provide it. In New York, the state assembly just passed a universal health care bill that would cost over $90 billion dollars annually to manage. That is more than the all of the tax revenues collected by the state of New York in 2014 ($77 billion). This means that taxes on New Yorkers, already among the highest in the nation, will have to be doubled to make up the deficit.

Funding your moral projects by using the power of the government to steal money from your neighbors doesn’t make you compassionate and charitable. It makes you a thief. Actually, it makes you worse than a thief, because at least a thief steals the money himself. The market is always more efficient and effective than government and the market for healthcare is no different.

Special Counsel Appointed to Investigate Trump-Russia Ties

Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller has been appointed as special counsel to oversee the ongoing investigation into alleged ties between the Russian government and the Trump administration. The announcement came from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein just days after the termination of FBI director James Comey and the subsequent news of the “Comey Memo”, notes taken by Comey in February that allege President Trump asked him to end the federal investigation into national security advisor Michael T. Flynn.

Mueller’s appointment as special prosecutor seeks to alleviate some of the concern from Democrats and Republicans alike over the agency’s ability to carry out the investigation properly and impartially.

Per the New York Times:

“Mr. Mueller’s appointment was hailed by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who view him as one of the most credible law enforcement officials in the country.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Mueller’s “record, character, and trustworthiness have been lauded for decades by Republicans and Democrats alike.”

Specifically, Mueller is tasked with overseeing the investigation into:

  1. Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
  2. Any matters that arose or may directly arise from the investigation; and
  3. Any other matters within the scope of the special counsel. These include any federal crimes pertaining to the investigation, such as: obstruction of justice, perjury, witness tampering, etc.

It needs to be said that so far there is no evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. To this point, only a lot of conjecture, circumstantial evidence, and accusations have been leveled.

The “Comey Memo”, if its allegations are true (and if it even exists), provides evidence that President Trump at least attempted to interfere with a federal investigation into one of his close advisors. It can certainly be argued that is an impeachable offense. The question will be whether Trump telling Comey, “I hope you can let this go”, constitutes asking the FBI director to end the investigation. I’m no lawyer, but personally, that sounds like a hard sell; saying you hope an investigation ends is not the same thing the same as telling him to end the investigation.

It is also interesting to note that the memo is supposedly from February, three months before Comey was terminated. If the FBI director had evidence that the President attempted to interfere with an ongoing federal investigation and didn’t report it in a timely manner, then the FBI director would also have committed a crime.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested Comey appear at both open and closed sessions, as well as to provide any memos he has related to the investigation by May 24.

Chelsea Manning Released From Prison

U.S. Army private Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified military and government documents to Wikileaks in 2010, has been released after serving seven years at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Her sentence was commuted by then President Obama in January.

Manning, who before the incarceration identified as Bradley Manning, announced during her prison sentence she was transgender and changed her name to Chelsea. She later complained about a lack of medical attention for her gender dysmorphia and twice attempted suicide behind bars.

Manning’s ordeal began in 2010 when she, as a junior intelligence analyst, began to see the immoral and unethical way in which the United States were prosecuting wars in the middle east, including multiple attacks on Iraqi civilians and the inhumane torture and lack of due process for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Per the LA Times:

“Manning was a 22-year-old junior intelligence analyst at a base outside Baghdad in early 2010 when she began to illegally copy U.S. military field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, battlefield videos and diplomatic cables from classified computer accounts.

She later acknowledged leaking more than 700,000 documents and other materials to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.”

In a statement  read by her attorney after the conviction, Manning made clear the purpose of her leak:

“It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing.  It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity.  We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians.  Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.”

The 35-year sentence is the largest that had ever been handed to a whistleblower in the U.S. Her seven years served is also the longest ever by anyone charged of similar crimes. None of this dissuades her critics, though, who believe Manning should be forced to serve out the remainder of her sentence due to the severity of her crimes. Many charge that she didn’t have the authority to release the documents and should instead have used normal military channels to air her concerns.

This criticism is so naive it borders on ridiculous. If the chain of command is complicit in the attacks and cover ups, as was made abundantly clear, how could a whistleblower possibly hope to effect change via normal channels?

After her release, Manning made this statement to ABC News, hopeful for the future:

“I appreciate the wonderful support that I have received from so many people across the world over these past years. As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past. The past will always affect me and I will keep that in mind while remembering that how it played out is only my starting point, not my final destination.”

Knowing and Defending Your Rights

There are many things about the government that infuriate me. Take the way it extorts money from its citizens through taxation, for example. Or licensing, which is nothing but a scheme of stealing the rights of citizens and forcing them to buy them back. Once one learns the truth about the State, it’s practices, motives, and the way in which it protects and perpetuates itself, it is difficult to not see treachery in everything it does. As Rothbard famously said, “The State is a gang of thieves writ large – the most immoral, grasping and unscrupulous individuals in any society.”

Perhaps nowhere does this quote apply more aptly than to the interactions between citizens and government law enforcement.

In today’s USA Today online, Cato scholar Tim Lynch has a short and well written opinion piece on the verbally, mentally and physically abusive relationship law enforcement has with American citizens, as well as what citizens can do to protect themselves from police overreach.

Lynch writes:

Most people don’t know how to handle themselves during a police encounter. They know they have constitutional rights, but they also know that they can get into trouble by disobeying an officer. Not knowing where the lines are drawn, the vast majority of people capitulate to whatever the police want from them.

From a young age, we are repeatedly taught that police officers are heroes; good people doing the hard job of protecting and serving the American people. We are expected to submit to their authority in all situations. After all, they deserve the benefit of the doubt given all that they must put up with, in large part due to the sheer danger of their job. Those in society who don’t respect the “thin blue line” are painted as anti-social outcasts, criminals, or worse.

But it’s easy to understand what’s really happening in this dynamic. This dangerous statist philosophical groundwork is being laid, in large part, by teachers (government employees) in schools (government indoctrination centers) for the express purpose of reinforcing the rules, laws and mentality of the government itself. By framing the entire debate as “good guys vs bad guys”, it makes it easy to either question the motive of the critic (after all, only guilty people feel the need to invoke their rights) or simply wave away the criticism.

This creates an environment in which law enforcement agencies are given an almost impossible amount of leeway, allowing them to take out their violent and authoritarian aggression on the citizenry. Police are so accustomed to a citizen’s total terrified capitulation that “they react angrily when someone has the temerity to invoke his rights.” As we’ve seen dozens of times, that’s when things get ugly.

Lynch continues:

The Constitution is supposed to be the “law of the land,” yet people can get arrested for invoking their legal rights. If such incidents happen with some frequency — and they do — it exposes a serious flaw in our legal system. Out on the streets, the police have all the power and we’re at their mercy.

Most people aren’t aware that police are trained to bluff, trick, lie, and physically assault people to get confessions and other information. Likewise, police routinely carry out illegal searches, seizures and arrests. The problem is that as a citizen, it is impossible to get justice in real-time. If you refuse to go to jail, no matter how good the reason or how bad the officer, police are trained to kill you. This means you must go to court to express your concerns. These are the same courts that have unceasingly expanded the very same powers that police use against you. Not exactly a fair fight. And in the rarest circumstance where an officer is held accountable in court, the money is paid with tax payer dollars directly from the treasury fund! One way to end police brutality and overreach immediately is to draw all lawsuit payouts from police pension accounts.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to know and exercise your rights, and that’s true particularly when interacting with police. The key is to be polite, calm, and most of all, prepared.

Keep the following things in mind:

First, no matter what any police officer tells you, it is always legal to record police with either video or audio. Keep your phone handy and record the entire interaction. This will help protect both you and the officer, as well as give an unbiased record of the event in the case of court.

Second, you are not required under any circumstances to consent to a physical search of your person, vehicle, or home without a warrant. Though police may lie to you to get you to consent to a search, only consent that is given freely is valid in court, another reason why recording police interactions is so vital.

Lastly, read this and this to protect yourself and enforce your rights during any police interactions.

Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

In a surprising move, President Trump fired FBI director James Comey on Tuesday. This marks just the second time in history that a president has fired the FBI’s chief, the other time was in 1993 when then President Clinton terminated William Sessions over alleged ethics violations.  Trump’s decision has unleashed a firestorm of political criticism. The biggest of which is the issue of timing. The FBI director, who was appointed in 2013 by then president Obama, had been leading an investigation of close Trump advisors and associates and their dealings with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.

That Comey had been involved in the investigation led many Democrats, and even some Republicans, namely Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), to consider having a special independent counsel take over the investigation into Trump-Russian collusion. For the record, though political opponents of the president have been tossing around innuendos, circumstantial evidence, and accusations for months, there remains zero hard evidence of any collusion between Trump, his campaign, and the Russian government.

President Trump has explained that the termination came from Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as well as Department of Justice recommendations. Nevertheless, many in pundits and politicians in the beltway have accused President Trump of firing Comey simply to cover his tracks. Some of the more unhinged and hyperbolic pundits have even called for Trump’s impeachment over Comey’s termination.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as this plays out over the next few months.

Trump has full constitutional authority to terminate the FBI director for virtually any reason he wants

Let’s put aside the very reasonable question of the constitutionality of the FBI’s mere existence. It is certainly true that in a libertarian anarchist society there would be no federal government and thus no federal law enforcement, but private defense and intelligence agencies would no doubt exist. The fact is that the FBI is an executive branch department under the exclusive control and authority of the president. The firing of an FBI director is not a ‘constitutional crisis’. It’s a personnel decision. If congress wants to investigate the factors behind the decision to see if any wrongdoing occurred, they are free to, as is their role, but the firing in and of itself is not unconstitutional.

The FBI has always been political

The idea that the FBI was an apolitical, independent law enforcement group until Trump came along is ridiculous any way you look at it. The FBI has a long history of secrecy, lies, and corruption that date all the way back to its inception. From illegal wiretapping and running child porn and terrorist deep web sites to assassination, the FBI acts much more like a terrorist organization than just about any of the groups it investigates. It would be better for all Americans (and the world) if they FBI was abolished altogether.

The Left’s hypocrisy on Comey and his termination is staggering

You don’t have to look very far back in time to find a time when many Democrats wanted Comey’s head on a silver platter. After James Comey stated in early October during a press conference that his office would not seek an indictment for Hillary Clinton’s undocumented use of a private email server while she was serving as Secretary of State, Democrats everywhere cheered.

Then came October 28. It was on that date Comey announced that the Clinton investigation was being reopened due to new leads. The FBI had apparently incidentally uncovered thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails on the personal computer of Anthony Wiener as part of the investigation into his underage sexting. Wiener, a former New York congressman, was the current husband of close Clinton advisor Huma Abedin. Democrats everywhere used this opportunity to call for Comey’s termination due to the highly unprofessional timing and handling of the announcement. Many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton herself, said that Comey’s “October Surprise” cost her the election. What a difference a few months makes as Democrats are now lining up to praise Comey and condemn Trump for his termination.

It is too early to say what exactly the political fallout over Comey’s termination will be for Trump, or if congress will decide to pursue a special investigation, but one thing is sure: for politicians and beltway pundits, hyperbole and hypocrisy are always in style.