Thursday, March 13, 2008

Where Taxes Are Lowest

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Obama's Fraudulent ACORN Campaign

I have a friend who works for the United Way who told me this story over dinner tonight.

Apparently, the Obama campaign hired a few dozen people to canvas the Miami Valley to in the run up to the Ohio primary. To do this, they used a "company" called ACORN. This organization told these canvassers, "On March 11, show up at the United Way building in Dayton, and you'll get paid."

The problem?

ACORN wasn't located there. Never was. No one had even heard of ACORN. Never been in the building.

My friend told me that the United Way was overrun throughout the day by people "looking for their checks".

Imagine their surprise when it was revealed ACORN didn't exist. It was just an empty office suite.

Is this "change"? Or is Obama just another slimy politician grasping for power?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Blogging Through Blowback, Chapter 3 - Stealth Imperialism

One of the justifications pedaled by the advocates of empire is that U.S. hegemony over the rest of the world is needed in order to provide stability, and tame the violent impulses of otherwise natural enemies in the wilds of global politics. America, it would seem, has been crowned by destiny to inherit this “White Man’s Burden”, and it would be patently irresponsible to shirk this responsibility.

But the question needs to be asked: at what point does a policy of American hegemony, along with the bureaucratic interests and associated rent seekers that evolve there from, become a threat to the world security that is the stated mission of the empire? This is the subject of the third chapter of Chalmers Johnson’s book, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.

From reading the next chapter, one really gets a sense that the Pentagon, and the Defense Department overall, has grown so unimaginably large, that it has become a government unto itself. With its budget in the hundreds of billions, it has created a physical presence on the world stage that has become the metaphorical equivalent of the 900 lb gorilla sitting in the living room. With its various programs to help train elite paramilitary units for other countries (which invariably are then employed as terror and death squads for repressive, but “friendly” regimes), and its influence in helping to facilitate multi-billion dollar business deals to sell weapons to regimes, indeed, if one worries about weapons proliferation and geopolitical instability, one need look no further for the root cause than America’s own military bureaucracy.

Much of this cannot help but force one to wonder how truly unsafe these policies make American citizens. As we help to buttress various regimes under the guise of helping them to defend themselves against attack from aggression, the reality is that we turn a blind eye to the oppressive and brutal aspects of those same regimes. Case in point would be the tale of the Suharto regime of Indonesia, its rise to power, and its subsequent overthrow after years of brutal oppression of political and ethnic undesirables. Behind it all was an American presence, enabling and condoning the atrocities committed by this corrupt regime. The people of that country are aware of the American role, even if the average American is not.

In one very telling part, Johnson comments on how the secrecy of the Defense Department’s more nefarious programs are preserved: outsourcing. As former Special Forces personnel retire from active duty, they often go to work for, or start up their own, private firms, which then offer their knowledge for sale to foreign governments. This is all done with the blessing of Defense Department officials, who can avoid accountability for this because,
One reason privatization appeals to the Pentagon is that whatever these companies do becomes “proprietary information.” The Pentagon does not even have to classify it; and it becomes private property, information on the activities of such companies is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Given the extreme legalism of the American political culture, this is sufficient to shield such companies from public scrutiny, although it would not protect them from the new criminal court.
So there you have it. A runaway bureaucracy that enables oppression and terrorism of foreign peoples, while helping to subsidize a vast military industrial complex, and protecting the world against largely self-manufactured threats. This chapter has been the most powerful so far in demonstrating that blowback is probably the one of the most serious issues faced by America, and will continue to become even more so as we continue our pursuit of empire.

Reading more of this series, "Blogging Through Blowback"

Chapter 1: Blowback

Chapter 2: Okinawa: Asia’s Last Colony

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Libertarians for Open Government

Here is a video clip of Carla Howell, libertarian activist and Chair of the Committee for Small Government, discussing their open letter to the Massachusetts legislature demanding they open the State's books to the public in an easy to access and understand format.

This is very similar to the bill that Representative Tom Brinkman proposed last month here in Ohio, to much acclaim. (Note, the conservative blogosphere is not among his fan base.) HB 420 requires the State to post its finances and expenditures in a very clear format online, so that ordinary citizens can see where the money goes. The only people who would oppose this are people who believe that government should work in a shroud of secrecy. (Like all those Conservatives who believe the activities of the FedGov should remain hidden.)

Also note, the Committee is sponsoring a ballot initiative to repeal that state's income tax. When they tried this 6 years ago, it got almost 45% of the vote. Imagine that, the residents of TAX-achusetts almost voted to END their income tax. What do you think if the same question was posed here in Ohio, which is theoretically more fiscally conservative?

The thing is...Activists in the Libertarian Party of Ohio will be working on a similar initiative in the coming months to kill the income tax, which they've humorously labeled the "R.I.P" (Repeal the Income tax Petition).

I wonder if Conservatives will stand in the way of this. My bet is, of course they will. Since when can you count on Republicans do actually act in a manner consistent with their stated principles?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Let's Impeach the President

Says Neil Young.

Personally, I never liked his singing voice, but he writes some great protest anthems.

Note to self: add this to the list of songs to learn.

Lew Rockwell Interviewed by Scott Horton

One of my favorite libertarian writers/thinkers is Lew Rockwell. The guy is able to put our state of affairs into such stark, clear perspective, its hard to make a serious case for things like war, inflation, taxation, and such. His articles have always inspired me, and I often wish I had 1/100th of his skill at writing.

Recently, he was interviewed by Scott Horton and the interview is every bit of engaging.

This is a MUST listen.