Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

From War to Welfare

Conservatives should be leery of jumping into wars not only because American power may become overextended—especially in a time of fiscal crisis—but because war makes government expand rapidly at home, even in areas outside of national security. Although conservatives routinely criticize Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal for ushering in the era of big government, the deeper origins of the American welfare state lie in the warfare state.

During wars—especially big conflicts that require mobilization of the entire society to fight them—interest groups see the government doing things it didn’t do, or wasn’t allowed to do, previously. After the conflict, newly empowered bureaucrats and constituency groups benefiting from wartime expansion lobby to keep at least some of the new measures in place. The creation of the Food Administration during World War I, for example, ultimately led to the expectation in the farm sector that government regulation could prop up farmers’ incomes.

Even more fundamental, however, is the impact that war has on a government’s ability to finance its expansion at home. The potential for tax revenues determines how big government can grow and the number and size of programs that can be supported. (Even deficit financing is based on confidence in the government’s ability to raise funds through taxes.) And war is the force that has most often led to new and greater sources of nourishment for Leviathan. According W. Elliot Brownlee, author of Federal Taxation in America: A Short History, “moments of sweeping change in tax regimes have come invariably during the nation’s great emergencies—the constitutional crisis of the 1780s, the three major wars [the Civil War, World War I, and World War II], and the Great Depression.”

A case in point is the income tax, one of the most intrusive and economically irrational taxes a government can impose. One commissioner of Internal Revenue went so far as to say in 1871 that the income tax was “the one of all others most obnoxious to the genius of our people, being inquisitorial in its nature, and dragging into public view an exposition of the most private pecuniary affairs of the citizen.” Unlike sales or excise taxes, which inhibit consumption, the income tax penalizes economically productive work and the just rewards for it—thereby dragging down prosperity.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Who Funds the War Party?

Who funds the War Party? Before we answer that very interesting question, it’s important to define just what (and who) it is we’re talking about. I use the "War Party" phraseology as shorthand for a number of different groups and individuals, all of whom are linked by an ideological and/or financial interest in promoting a foreign policy of perpetual war. This includes those groups pushing for budget-busting "defense" outlays, as well as those whose commitment to militarism is more ideological. Then there are the foreign lobbyists who have an interest in maintaining and expanding the American Empire: and while there are a number of foreign interests involved in this vector, the one that stands out on account of the sheer quantity of its resources is the Israel lobby, which combines a rich source of funding with an ideologically-based activism second to none on Capitol Hill.

The following list is by no means exhaustive: that would require an entire book rather than a relatively short column. However, what follows should serve as an introduction to those who are seeking to impose their foreign policy agenda on a war-weary and dead-broke country.
American Enterprise Institute

Heritage Foundation

Project for a New American Century/Foreign Policy Initiative

Center for American Freedom/Washington Free Beacon

Add to this the lobbying efforts of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the political action committee known as NORPAC, which ladles out cash to pro-Israel candidates, and what you have is a formidable apparatus with the power to shape American foreign policy to its own ends.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Beleaguered Christianity

The Pope's Resignation looks like an episode of Dan Brown's sagas involving secret societies, conspiracies, the opus Dei and the prophecies of Malachy, and a final crisis in the already chaotic history of the Catholic Church.

Are the days of Armageddon finally near?
Last night, a lightning bolt struck a dome in the city of the Vatican. Was it a plot of HAARP program or a sign of an angry sky? Of course it could be considered as a sign of the Illuminati, one day after the pope's resignation, which has disappointed traditionalist Catholics who regarded him as their last chance.

Mainstream Catholics actually do not differ from modern submissive crowds. They accept anything, just fearing not being politically correct and they live "en accord avec l'esprit des temps". They go to church sometimes; they accept the sacraments but don't give a damn about the future of the faith and European Christianity.

If the next pope is an African, in conformity with the mainstream media will, and if he asks Europe to accept one hundred million more Africans, these Christians will be happy to submit and to accept their destruction and submersion. Who would take the risk of being labelled a racist?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Does the War Party Have a Peace Caucus?

Chuck Hagel’s confirmation process has been the most depressing episode in the Republican foreign-policy debate since George W. Bush was president, not least because the debate is still constrained by terms set by John McCain and impersonators such as Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte.

Hagel may be flawed, but Senate Republicans have largely subjected the would-be Obama defense secretary to a show trial for his modest dissents from the Bush administration as a GOP senator from Nebraska. Among many of Hagel’s former colleagues, the idea that Bush’s Iraq policy was anything less than an unqualified success somehow remains controversial.

Worse, none of the Tea Party freshmen took the opportunity to distinguish themselves from their colleagues in the hearings. This is to be expected of Marco Rubio, who has made his hawkish inclinations plain, but not the trio of senators endorsed by Ron Paul—Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and his son Rand Paul.

All three of these senators joined the vast majority of Republicans in delaying Hagel’s nomination. Lee has said he will ultimately vote against Hagel, calling his positions “weak” and “dangerous.” Cruz has been too demagogic in his opposition even for Graham and McCain.

The bigger concern is what this means for these senators’ broader foreign-policy views. In the 1990s, Republicans used some lowest-common-denominator issues—congressional declarations of war, no troops under foreign command—to appeal to less interventionist conservatives drawn to Pat Buchanan, while remaining conventionally but covertly hawkish.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Obama Returns To Chicago: Gun Control Utopia—Or Black Dystopia?

President Barack Obama has been chided for failing to keep his promise to visit the South Side of Chicago, which he dubbed “his Kennebunkport,” every six to eight weeks, [Obama's Chicago visits: Mixed feelings on infrequency of trips home, By Katherine Skiba and Becky Schlikerman, Chicago Tribune, April 12, 2011] But on Friday (February 15) he returns to one of the largest concentrations of black people in the world to push for more gun control. [Obama coming to Chicago to 'talk about the gun violence', By Ellen Jean Hirst, Naomi Nix and Jennifer Delgado,Chicago Tribune, February 11, 2013]

Obama will use the gun violence in Chicago, in particular the murder of 15-year-old Chicago public school “honor student” Hadiya Pendleton, whose majorette squad had participated in Obama’s inauguration festivities a few days earlier, as a symbol for restricting firearms all over America. Pendleton was gunned down not far from the Chicago residence of America’s First Family. Her four-hour funeral was attended by the First Lady herself. [Hadiya Pendleton funeral: Joyous memories, bitter facts about gun violence, By Dahleen Glanton and Bridget Doyle, Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2013] and Obama invited Cleopatra Pendleton, Hadiya’s mother, to Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

But the violence in Chicago and the “random” shooting of Pendleton—just one of the 51 homicide victims and 185+ gunshot victims in the city of Chicago in 2013 as of February 14—are a fatally flawed symbol of the need to force the American people to surrender the Second Amendment and their right to bear arms.

No—rather, the South Side of Chicago and the condition of the almost entirely black community there instead symbolizes why the Second Amendment must be protected at all costs.

Recall that Chicago was one of the first major cities to eliminate its citizens’ right to purchase handguns—in 1982, its city council passed what amounted to the strictest gun control laws in America. This coincided with Chicago’s black population overtaking the white population for the first time in the city’s history. Chicago was more than 85 percent white in the 1950s, but massive migration of blacks from the South and white flight from the city reshaped the demographics of Chicagoland.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI —A Godly Man in an Ungodly Age

"To govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

With those brave, wise, simple words, Benedict XVI announced an end of his papacy. How stands the Church he has led for eight years?

While he could not match the charisma of his predecessor, John Paul II, his has been a successful papacy. He restored some of the ancient beauty and majesty to the liturgy. He brought back to the fold separated Anglican brethren. The Church is making converts in sub-Saharan Africa. And in America, new traditionalist colleges and seminaries have begun to flourish.

That is looking back eight years. Looking back half a century, to that October day in 1962 when Pope John XXIII declared the opening of Vatican II, the Church appears to have been in a decline that, in parts of the world, seems to be leading to near extinction.

At Vatican II, the Rev. Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, was among the reformers who were going to bring the church into the modern world. The encounter did not turn out well.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Beware The Consequences of Pre-Emptive War

Last year more US troops died by suicide than died in combat in Afghanistan. More than 20 percent of military personnel deployed to combat will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some 32 percent of US soldiers reported depression after deployments. More than 20 percent of active-duty military are on potentially dangerous psychotropic drugs; many are on multiple types. Violent crime among active duty military members increased 31 percent between 2006-2011.

The statistics, compiled by the military last year, are as telling as they are disturbing. The Defense Department scrambles to implement new programs to better treat the symptoms. They implement new substance abuse and psychological counseling programs while they continue to prescribe more dangerous psychotropic drugs. Unfortunately, most often ignored are the real causes of these alarming statistics.

The sharp rise in military suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, and domestic and other violence, is the unintended consequence of a violent foreign policy — of an endless and indefinable “global war on terrorism.”

Particularly in the past decade or so, we have lived in a society increasingly marked by belief in the use of force as a first and only option. We have seen wars of preemption and aggression, everywhere from Iraq to Pakistan to Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere. We have seen an unprecedented increase in the use of drones to kill overseas, often resulting in civilian deaths, which we call “collateral damage.” We have seen torture and assassination (even of American citizens) become official US policy. When asked by Senator Ron Wyden last week if the president has the right to assassinate American citizens on US soil, President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan, could not even give a straight answer.

The warning that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword” goes not only for individuals but for entire societies. It is a warning to all of us. A country or a society that lives with the violence of pre-emptive war in fact self-destructs.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

John Brennan as CIA chief would serve his own interests, not America’s

France’s recent interventions in Mali and Somalia underscore the accelerating ability of Al-Qaeda-in-the-Islamic-Mahgreb (AQIM) and its Africa-based allies to threaten the continent’s nation-states, as well as access to natural resources—oil, strategic minerals, and uranium—that are essential to the French, U.S., and other Western economies. The growing power and geographical reach of AQIM mirrors the growth of all components of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups, save possibly the central component in Afghanistan-Pakistan. The bottom line here is that sixteen years after Al-Qaeda and its allies began their religious war, the United States and the West confront an Islamist enemy that is larger, better armed, smarter, and far more geographically dispersed than ever before.
Now, that paragraph merits a fuller and more data-supported explanation, but for now, let’s look at one of the men—John Brennan—who for nearly 15 years has ensured both that the above-described growth in the Islamists’ power has occurred, and that most Americans have no idea that a still-growing part of the Muslim world is at war with the United States.
This month, President Obama nominated John Brennan to be the next CIA chief. Mr. Brennan was a longtime Agency officer and held a number of senior appointments there. He also has held a number of senior positions outside the Agency in the nation’s national security apparatus. One might argue that all of these positions were based on Mr. Brennan’s unvarying willingness to say “Yes, my genius leader” to anything his boss of the moment said was a good idea. It also has been said that he was thoroughly detested inside the Agency while working for DCI George Tenet—primarily because his first question on the proposal of a covert operation to protect Americans was always was “How will this impact on Director Tenet’s reputation”—and for fully supporting the CIA’s overwhelmingly successful rendition program while Messrs. Clinton and Bush were in power, and then damning the Agency for the program and helping to destroy it when he snuggled up to President Obama and his consistently anti-CIA party. Indeed, there was a popular joke inside CIA in the 1990’s which ran something like: “Question: Why is George Tenet never photographed from behind? Answer: Because they have not found a way to dislodge John Brennan’s nose.”
Now, it surely would be unfair to deny any nominee a job because of how people reacted to his performance as professional sycophant or because of off-color humor made at his expense. But there are at least four substantive reasons to deny Mr. Brennan the job of heading the CIA. The following are those reasons, and one would think that if the Senate does not ask him about them, it will have failed to do its job.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

CIA leaked intelligence on Israeli-backed coups against U.S. allies

During the Cold War, the CIA was so incensed at the role played by Mossad in coups and attempted coups against U.S. allies, it began leaking information to the media concerning the role played by Israeli Mossad agents and “dual loyalists” within the CIA’s own ranks about Israeli interference in the politics of America’s NATO allies.

And in what could prove embarrassing for America’s new Secretary of State, John Kerry, the Mossad amassed a large dossier on the leftist military officers who overthrew the right-wing regime of Portuguese Prime Minister Marcello Caetano in 1974. One of the files possessed by Mossad deals with a Portuguese naval officer from Mozambique and an ardent Portuguese Communist who supported the leftist Armed Forces coup of April 25, 1974, one Lieutenant Jose Pedro Simoes Ferreira.

In 1974, Israel maintained close relations with the apartheid regime of South Africa and many South African Jewish Zionists were also invested in Mozambique business, particularly diamond exploration and mining. The thought of Portugal granting independence to left-wing governments (and future voting allies of the Arab nations in the United Nations) was anathema to Israel and South African Jews. Therefore, in 1975, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dispatched CIA official Frank Carlucci as ambassador to Portugal to help identify and purge the more extreme factions in the new Portuguese government, particularly the Communists. One individual who was seen as a prime target was Simoes Ferreira. However, the CIA had its hands tied when it discovered that Senhor Ferreira had an influential brother-in-law, John Heiniz III, an heir to the H.J. Heinz Company but more importantly an ambitious Republican congressman from Pennsylvania. Simoes Ferreira is the older brother of Teresa Simoes-Ferreira Heinz, who is now Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of the new U.S. Secretary of State.

Mossad was more than happy to pick up the slack, obtaining as much intelligence on Teresa and her brother Jose from their friends in South African intelligence.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Republican Party operatives working for Karl Rove were trying to dig up dirt on Mrs. Kerry’s left-wing ties while she was a student in South Africa. But former Navy Lt. Simoes Ferreira, who is now 78 and lives outside of Pittsburgh, never came up on Rove’s political radar screen.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hagel Hearing: The War Party’s Waterloo

We have to be thankful to Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of our more theatrical solons, for dramatizing the way in which the Israel lobby intimidates members of Congress: by asking Chuck Hagel if he could name a single Senator who was so intimidated he merely underscored how thoroughly each and every one of them is cowed. The whole spectacle of this public interrogation, with its tiresomely repetitive demands for pledges of undying loyalty to Israel, brought home the truth of Hagel’s remark.

Of course Hagel couldn’t say that, but the ugly reality resonated in the immense silence that followed this exchange. Interestingly, Hagel didn’t back down: He said "I don’t know." As to what motivates any particular member of Congress on any specific "dumb thing" they do – well, he couldn’t know, could he? But of course, everybody knows about the Israel lobby: and if its power and vindictiveness were ever in danger of being forgotten, then surely the battle over Hagel’s confirmation has reminded us.

To anyone who lives outside the Washington bubble, there was something profoundly weird about the ritualistic invocations of undying loyalty to Israel, a country mentioned 135 times in the course of the hearing: Afghanistan only merited 27, while al Qaeda got 2 and Mali one. One would have thought Hagel had been nominated for Israeli Defense Minister instead of the top civilian in the Pentagon. As he faced the pro-Israel "inquisitors" – as Sen. Angus King put it – the educational value of this political drama was worth far more than all the books and articles one could possibly read.

Speaking of motivation, Graham’s grandstanding was preaching to the choir: the wingnuts in his party don’t think he’s right-wing enough, and this is his way of compensating for what the Tea Party types consider sellouts on immigration and other issues dear to their hearts.

However, it was John McCain’s confrontation with his now ex-friend, the former Senator from Nebraska, that was most telling, insofar as it tells us what this whole brouhaha really is about: the country’s verdict on the Iraq war, and the lingering power and influence of those who lied us into it.

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