Category Archives: Morality

He Said That? 8/11/18

From Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), German philosopher:

To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great.

Advertisements

Is There Enough of America Left To Be Saved?, by Paul Craig Roberts

The individual rights the government protects has dwindled to the point that very few are left. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

As many readers of this website have noticed, the United States has lost its character and become a dysfunctional society. In place of a largely homogeneous population once united in veneration of the Constitution, there exists today massive diversity which Identity Politics has used to disunite the population into separate interest groups.

No clause or article of the Constitution, nor the Bill of Rights, is safe. The George W. Bush and Obama regimes destroyed two of the most important protections of civil liberty—habeas corpus and due process. Bush declared indefinite imprisonment on suspicion alone without evidence or trial. Obama declared execution of US citizens on accusation alone without due process. The Justice (sic) Department wrote legal memos justifying torture, thus destroying the constitutional protection against self-incrimination. One of the authors of the memos is now a professor of law at UC Berkeley. The other is now a federal judge, indications that respect for the Constitution and enforcement of US and international laws against torture is fading in law schools and the federal judiciary.

A third important protection of civil liberty—freedom of speech which is necessary for the discovery of truth and to serve justice—is being destroyed. Apple, Google/Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, university speech codes, legislation against protesting Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians, and the presstitute media that has been turned into a propaganda organ in behalf of vested interests are all actively involved in protecting lies against truth.

Glenn Greenwald reported that “the single greatest threat to free speech in the West — and in the U.S. — is the coordinated, growing campaign to outlaw and punish those who advocate for, or participate in, activism to end the Israeli occupation” of Palestine.https://theintercept.com/2016/02/16/greatest-threat-to-free-speech-in-the-west-criminalizing-activism-against-israeli-occupation/

To continue reading: Is There Enough of America Left To Be Saved?

America’s Kristallnacht? by Robert Gore

If the US government prosecutes Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, it will mark a point of no return.

We’ll never know what “average” Germans thought on November 11, 1938, the day after Kristallnacht. Perhaps a few recognized it for what it was: a turning point, an acceleration of Germany’s descent into hell. America’s Crystal Night looms, and if it occurs, only a few will recognize it for what it is.

The fate of Julian Assange is the fate of one man, but it is also the fate of one of our most important freedoms. There won’t be shattered plate glass from vandalized businesses littering the streets, synagogues smashed, graves unearthed, or people herded onto trains. But his prosecution by the US government would destroy an inestimable value, one enshrined in the First Amendment, for which generations of Americans have fought and died: the right of the people and its press to inform the people and to hold their government to account.

Aside from armed resistance and revolution, the one defense individuals have against governments is intellectual: the concept of individual rights. There is an argument as to whether those rights come from our Creator (Thomas Jefferson) or from our basic nature as humans and the requirements of our survival (Ayn Rand). Despite starting from different premises, both arguments lead to the same conclusion: individuals have inherent, inalienable, inviolable rights, and the only legitimate function of government is to protect those rights.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were explicit attempts to delineate a set of principles that recognized individual rights and tried to restrain government power. Though real-world implementation has fallen short, often far short, they were towering conceptual achievements.

In 1933, the year Hitler assumed power, the government began enacting laws that restricted Jews’ rights to earn a living, gain an education, or work in the civil service. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws stripped German Jews of their citizenship and forbade them from marrying non-Jewish Germans.

Kristallnacht’s hooliganism was encouraged by the German authorities, and none of the perpetrators bore any legal consequences. More than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and deported to concentration camps. The government would not protect Jews from the depredations of thugs and the government itself was a thug. Kristallnacht was a point of no return: Jews no longer had any legally enforceable rights. Soon enough no German would.

In America, there is no one villain or group that one can point to as responsible for the erosion of rights. Begun the day the Constitution was ratified, it’s been a gradual process. We’ve reached the point where only a few of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights still receive any measure of government solicitude.

Property and contract rights are out the window; the government routinely abridges them. You have no right to your own income, or to conduct your legitimate business or trade free from government regulation and interference. Much of the Bill of Rights is either irrelevant now or has been rendered a dead letter. In terms of individual rights, only the Second Amendment’s much infringed right to bear arms, and the First Amendment—the prohibition against the government establishing a religion, free speech, press, and assembly, and the right to petition the government—are still hanging by a thread.

Which is why the fate of Julian Assange takes on such significance. While the government has prosecuted those like Chelsea (formerly Brad) Manning who have stolen government secrets and classified information, it has not prosecuted the press individuals and organizations who have published them. That is WikiLeaks’ business model: it receives, vets, and publishes stolen information, often from governments.

The government has not gone after publishers because it would be a frontal assault on the First Amendment that it would probably lose. Any exception would swallow the general rule of press freedom. Say the Supreme Court recognized an exception: classified information whose publication would constitute an imminent and grave threat to the security of the United States. Who decides what’s an imminent and grave threat? The government would have the power to classify whatever information it pleases under that exception and put those who publish it at risk of prosecution, their only recourse years of costly litigation spent arguing that the information didn’t fit the exception.

Many Trump admirers resist the notion that their man is interested in the acquisition and use of power, but his and members of his administration’s hostility to individual civil liberties belies that resistance. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a gung-ho supporter of the civil-liberties-eviscerating-government-power-expanding War on Drugs and civil asset forfeiture.

In the latter, a government seizes assets it claims were involved with crimes and makes their owners jump through myriad legal hoops—including proving the negative that their assets weren’t involved in a crime—even if the owners themselves were never convicted, or even charged, with a crime. Assets that are not “acquitted”—cars, cash, boats, houses, etc.—are kept and used by the government. President Trump has endorsed civil asset forfeiture, and has extended it outside America’s borders via an executive order (see “By Imperial Decree,” SLL, 1/2/18).

Trump’s Secretary of State and former director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo has fashioned a legal approach the administration might use, in a case against WikiLeaks and Assange, to slither around the First Amendment. In April, still director of the CIA, he delivered a speech in which several passages demanded, but never received, careful parsing from the mainstream media. They are still obsessing over a February Trump tweet in which he declared the US media an “enemy of the people.” This is considered a threat to the First Amendment, but Pompeo’s speech was mostly ignored.

Pompeo called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Most press organizations, and almost all that consistently challenge the state, are non-state. WikiLeaks has published state secrets, undoubtedly considered hostile acts by those states, but how is it an intelligence service? Pompeo is arguing that WikiLeaks cannot be considered part of the press, consequently it’s not protected by the First Amendment.

As for the “abetted by state actors like Russia,” WikiLeaks has consistently denied it received the DNC emails from Russia, and nobody has proven otherwise. The best technical evidence indicates those DNC emails were directly downloaded to a portable storage device, indicating an inside job, and not remotely hacked, by Russians or anyone else.

Pompeo argued that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” This is straight from Orwell: you are free to say what you want, as long as you don’t say anything against the government. He claimed that WikiLeaks “pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice,” and, “they may have believed that, but they are wrong.” Now where would WikiLeaks get such a crazy idea? How about the plain language of the First Amendment?

Finally, Pompeo threatened: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.” Any government “secrets” the press publishes with the full approval of the government probably aren’t going to be terribly revealing. It’s the secrets the government doesn’t want revealed, the ones that are generally “misappropriated,” that reveal the most important secrets, which an informed and free people must know if they are to call their government to account.

From the excerpts quoted above, and the video of the relevant part of speech below, make up your own mind as to who’s perverting the Constitution.

Freedom of the press protects the rights of the press, but more importantly protects the right of all of us to be informed, especially about what was once considered “our” government. It amplifies the freedom of speech. Even a small newspaper reaches more people than someone shouting from a street corner.

If Assange and WikiLeaks are tried and convicted in a US court as “a non-state hostile intelligence service,” the government can slap that label on any person or organization publishing or otherwise disclosing its secrets. The case would probably make its way to the Supreme Court. If the court accepted the Pompeo exception to the First Amendment, freedom of the press and speech would become two more of the Constitution’s dead letters.

Just the prosecution of Assange and WikiLeaks would have a chilling effect. Not that most of the US’s supine mainstream and social media would be chilled. The mainstream media that have spoken out about Assange and WikiLeaks have come down on the side of the government. The social media companies, de facto arms of the government, are shutting down politically incorrect voices. Neither mainstream or social media have anything to lose from the termination of First Amendment freedoms because they don’t say, or allow anyone else to say, anything the powers that be don’t want heard.

Trump is a wild card on WikiLeaks and Assange. WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the DNC emails helped his campaign. He praised it back then, but now appears ready to prosecute. Trump administration officials and Trump himself often say one thing while Trump does another. It is not a given that Assange will be either extradited by the British government or prosecuted in the US.

Few totalitarian regimes take their people’s rights away all at once. It’s done gradually to reduce dissent, until that Kristallnacht moment where it’s impossible to evade the reality: there are no rights left. If the Trump administration prosecutes Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, that sinking feeling in your stomach will be the realization that the last remnant of your rights are gone, that the government and Trump are your enemies.

If Assange and WikiLeaks are prosecuted, who will dare tell the truth about the government? Trump will have destroyed one of the last vestiges of individual rights—and the freedom that goes with it—that once made America great.

 

How Inflation Destroys Civilization, by Nick Giambruno

Nick Giambruno connects the dots between inflation and the desire for socialism. From Giambruno at internationalman.com:

Yesterday I told you about the unstoppable trend towards more socialism in the US.

I think inflation is the primary factor driving this trend. Americans feel squeezed because the cost of rent, medical insurance, and tuition, as well as other basic living expenses, is rising much faster than their wages.

This creates very real problems for ordinary people. In response, more and more turn to Santa Claus politicians that promise supposed freebies, like a $15 minimum wage or universal basic income.

Why the Cost of Living Has Exploded

This is all a predictable consequence of the US abandoning sound money.

By every measure—including stagnating wages and rising costs—things have been going downhill for the American middle class since the early 1970s.

August 15, 1971, to be exact. This is the date President Nixon killed the last remnants of the gold standard.

Since then, the dollar has been a pure fiat currency. This allows the Fed to print as many dollars as it pleases. And—without the discipline imposed by some form of a gold standard—it does precisely that. The US money supply has exploded 2,106% higher since 1971.

The rejection of sound money is the primary reason inflation has eaten up wage growth since the early 1970s—and the primary reason the cost of living has exploded.

The next chart illustrates this dynamic. It measures US hourly wages priced in gold grams (the number of gold grams the average person’s hourly income could buy).

Measured in gold, wages in the US have fallen over 84% since 1971. That’s an astounding drop.

The next chart measures the federal minimum wage in terms of gold grams. Priced in gold, the minimum wage has fallen 87% since 1968.

Note that the federal minimum wage was $1.60 in 1968. It’s $7.25 today, or 353% higher in dollar terms.

But that $7.25 buys 87% less than $1.60 did back in 1968. That’s the story you won’t hear from the mainstream press.

This is why millennials and millions of others are gravitating toward socialism.

To continue reading: How Inflation Destroys Civilization

Hiroshima Revisited: Memorializing the Horrors of War with 10 Must-See War Films, by John W. Whitehead

Needless to say, none of the movies listed are pro-war. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“The horror… the horror…”—Apocalypse Now (1979)

Nearly 73 years ago, the United States unleashed atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 individuals, many of whom were civilians.

Fast forward to the present day, and the U.S. military under President Trump’s leadership is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes.

This follows on the heels of President Obama, the antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who waged war longer than any American president and whose targeted-drone killings continued to feed the war machine and resulted in at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror.

America has long had a penchant for endless wars that empty our national coffers while fattening those of the military industrial complex. Since 9/11, we’ve spent more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When you add in our military efforts in Syria and Pakistan, as well as the lifetime price of health care for disabled veterans and interest on the national debt, that cost rises to $5.6 trillion.

Even with America’s military might spread thin, the war drums continue to sound as the Pentagon polices the rest of the world with more than 1.3 million U.S. troops being stationed at roughly 1000 military bases in over 150 countries.

To this end, Americans are fed a steady diet of pro-war propaganda that keeps them content to wave flags with patriotic fervor and less inclined to look too closely at the mounting body counts, the ruined lives, the ravaged countries, the blowback arising from ill-advised targeted-drone killings and bombing campaigns in foreign lands, or the transformation of our own homeland into a warzone.

Nowhere is this double-edged irony more apparent than during military holidays, when we get treated to a generous serving of praise and grandstanding by politicians, corporations and others with similarly self-serving motives eager to go on record as being pro-military.

Yet war is a grisly business, a horror of epic proportions. In terms of human carnage alone, war’s devastation is staggering. For example, it is estimated that approximately 231 million people died worldwide during the wars of the 20th century. This figure does not take into account the walking wounded—both physically and psychologically—who “survive” war.

War drives the American police state.

The military-industrial complex is the world’s largest employer.

to continue reading: Hiroshima Revisited: Memorializing the Horrors of War with 10 Must-See War Films 

What Could Be More Important Than A Seat On The Supreme Court? by Christopher Manion

The story of a man who put principle over political power, told by his son. From Christopher Manion at lewrockwell.com:

The noise of the universe surrounding the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to take the seat of retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy calls to mind an earlier nomination – less contentious, but profoundly consequential.

It all began on April 6, 1953, my father, Clarence Manion, confronted Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, in testimony given before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The issue was the Bricker Amendment, designed by Ohio Senator John Bricker to forbid the president from making secret deals like those that Roosevelt and Truman had made with Stalin during World War II.

Thirty years later, Dulles’ son Avery – by then a Cardinal in the Catholic Church –told me had attended that hearing. His dad was mad.

What galled Secretary Dulles most that day was how Dad buttressed his testimony by quoting Dulles himself, from a speech he had given a year before, when Ike was still running hard to defeat Senator Robert Taft, an avid supporter of Bricker. “The treaty-making power is an extraordinary power, liable to abuse,” Dulles had railed then. Treaties “can cut across the rights given to the people by their Constitutional Bill of Rights.”

The Bricker Amendment was designed to restore the Constitutional requirement that such agreements among nations be publicly disclosed as treaties, debated, and valid only after they had received a 2/3 vote of the Senate. Without the amendment, Bricker warned, any president could run rampant over the Constitution simply by making secret “executive compacts” that changed the Constitution. All he needed was a foreign leader who would go along.

After all, Article VI of the Constitution states that treaties shall become part of the “supreme law of the land.”

Although the platform of the 1952 Republican Convention that nominated Eisenhower strongly endorsed the Bricker Amendment, Ike began backing away from it as soon as he took office in 1953. During that year, the American Legion strongly backed Bricker, and my father sang its praises to packed Legion audiences in every state in the union.

To continue reading: What Could Be More Important Than A Seat On The Supreme Court?

Is Bill Browder the Most Dangerous Man in the World? by Philip Giraldi

Bill Browder helped asset-strip Russia after the Soviet Union fell, but he’s portrayed as a choirboy by his many neoconservative fans. He’s given a lot of money to the Clinton Foundation. From Philip Giraldi at  unz.com:

The darling of the war party needs to answer some questions

Browder

At the press conference following their summit meeting in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin and American President Donald Trump discussed the possibility of resolving potential criminal cases involving citizens of the two countries by permitting interrogators from Washington and Moscow to participate in joint questioning of the individuals named in indictments prepared by the respective judiciaries. The predictable response by the American nomenklatura was that it was a horrible idea as it would potentially require U.S. officials to answer questions from Russians about their activities.

Putin argued, not unreasonably, that if Washington wants to extradite and talk to any of the twelve recently indicted GRU officers the Justice Department has named then reciprocity is in order for Americans and other identified individuals who are wanted by the Russian authorities for illegal activity while in Russia. And if Russian officials are fair game, so are American officials.

A prime target for such an interrogation would be President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who was widely criticized while in Moscow for being on an apparent mission to cultivate ties with the Russian political opposition and other “pro-democracy” groups. But McFaul was not specifically identified in the press conference, though Russian prosecutors have asked him to answer questions related to the ongoing investigation of another leading critic, Bill Browder, who was named by Putin during the question and answer session. Browder is a major hedge fund figure who, inter alia, is an American by birth. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1997 in exchange for British citizenship to avoid paying federal taxes on his worldwide income.

Bill Browder is what used to be referred to as an oligarch, having set up shop in 1999 as Hermitage Capital Management Fund, a hedge fund registered in tax havens Guernsey and the Cayman Islands. It focused on “investing” in Russia, taking advantage initially of the loans-for-shares scheme under Russia’s drunkard President Boris Yeltsin, and then continuing to profit greatly during the early years of Vladimir Putin. By 2005 Hermitage was the largest foreign investor in Russia.

Yeltsin had won a fraudulent election in 1996 supported by the oligarch-controlled media and by President Bill Clinton, who secured a $20.2 billion IMF loan that enabled him to buy support. Today we would refer to Clinton’s action as “interference in the 1996 election,” but at that time a helpless and bankrupt Russia was not well placed to object to what was being done to it. Yeltsin proved keen to follow oligarchical advice regarding how to strip the former Soviet Union of its vast state-owned assets. Browder’s Hermitage Investments profited hugely from the commodities deals that were struck at that time.

To continue reading: Is Bill Browder the Most Dangerous Man in the World?