Palestine, the Arab Spring, and the Middle East Lobby Reply

Article by Jack Ross.
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During the upheavals sweeping the Arab world, a common refrain among hawkish supporters of Israel has been that the Arab street is indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians, and thus the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not at the heart of Middle East troubles. In theNew Republic, Jamie Kirchick argued that the much-touted divide between democracy promoters and pro-Israel hawks was proof that neoconservatives were not in thrall to the Israeli rightwing. [1] On the Commentary blog, John Podhoretz was particularly gratuitous, running with the headline, “Palestinians Killing Jews While Other Arabs Seek Freedom.” [2]

Contrast these notions with the sermon of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, which during the official celebration of the overthrow of Mubarak regime in Tahrir Square prompted the crowd to chant that it would march on Jerusalem. And while Palestinian flags were notably absent among the protestors in Egypt, they have been a much more common sight in Yemen and Bahrain.

For their part, the Palestinians have begun in earnest to put into practice the example set by the Egyptians. In stark contrast to Podhoretz’s inaccurate inferences, on March 15, tens of thousands demonstrated in the Palestinian territories for a new unity government to recommit to a non-violent intifada (see also, Samer Araabi, “Is It Palestine’s Turn?” Right Web, April 5, 2011).

While it is true that since these Palestinian demonstrations began there has been a sudden increase in violence among Palestinian militants, this could be interpreted as an effort by Hamas to get out in front of any uprising. The Israelis, out of habit, are answering in kind by threatening a new invasion of Gaza, with several exchanges of fire having already taken place as of this writing.

Were You Circumcised? New Passport Questionnaire Baffles Many With Absurd Info Demands Reply

Hat tip to NATA-NY

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Who was present when you were born? Can you remember every address you’ve ever had? How about every place you’ve ever worked? Were you circumcised?

What if I told you that those were some of the queries the State Department is proposing for a new “biographical questionnaire” as part of the passport application?

Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? It’s true.

"I'll take the reactionary over the murderer, thanks" Reply

This really sums up what’s wrong with the thinking of contemporary leftists.
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Ron Paul is far from perfect, but I’ll say this much for the Texas congressman: He has never authorized a drone strike in Pakistan. He has never authorized the killing of dozens of women and children in Yemen. He hasn’t protected torturers from prosecution and he hasn’t overseen the torturous treatment of a 23-year-old young man for the “crime” of revealing the government’s criminal behavior.

Can the same be said for Barack Obama?

Yet, ask a good movement liberal or progressive about the two and you’ll quickly be informed that yeah, Ron Paul’s good on the war stuff — yawn — but otherwise he’s a no-good right-wing reactionary of the worst order, a guy who’d kick your Aunt Beth off Medicare and force her to turn tricks for blood-pressure meds. By contrast, Obama, war crimes and all, provokes no such visceral distaste. He’s more cosmopolitan, after all; less Texas-y. He’s a Democrat. And gosh, even if he’s made a few mistakes, he means well.

Sure he’s a murderer, in other words, but at least he’s not a Republican!

Put another, even less charitable way: Democratic partisans – liberals – are willing to trade the lives of a couple thousand poor Pakistani tribesman in exchange for a few liberal catnip-filled speeches and NPR tote bags for the underprivileged. The number of party-line progressives who would vote for Ron Paul over Barack Obama wouldn’t be enough to fill Conference Room B at the local Sheraton, with even harshest left-leaning critics of the president, like Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, saying they’d prefer the mass-murdering sociopath to that kooky Constitution fetishist.

As someone who sees the electoral process as primarily a distraction, something that diverts energy and attention from more effective means of reforming the system, I don’t much care if people don’t vote for Ron Paul. In fact, if you’re going to vote, I’d rather you cast a write-in ballot for Emma Goldman. But! I do have a problem with those who imagine themselves to be liberal-minded citizens of the world casting their vote for Barack Obama and propagating the notion that someone can bomb and/or militarily occupy Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Libya and still earn more Progressive Points than the guy who would, you know, not do any of that.

Let’s just assume the worst about Paul: that he’s a corporate libertarian in the Reason magazine/Cato Institute mold that would grant Big Business and the financial industry license to do whatever the hell it wants with little in the way of accountability (I call this scenario the “status quo”). Let’s say he dines on Labradoodle puppies while using their blood to scribble notes in the margins of his dog-eared, gold-encrusted copy of Atlas Shrugged.

So. Fucking. What.

More…

Europeans as Indigenous Peoples 2

From Asatru Folk Assembly.
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When we hear the phrase “indigenous people,” we think of Amazon tribes, pygmies in Africa, the Australian aborigines, and other groups around the planet. There are probably hundreds – thousands? – of such societies. Their plight is well-known. Indigenous peoples in Africa, Asia, and Latin America come to our attention through television documentaries, articles in National Geographic, and many other sources.

We automatically think of indigenous peoples as looking like the ones we see on television – technologically primitive, living in tribal structures, and tucked away in remote corners of the Earth. And of course they all have dark skin. We unconsciously draw a sharp distinction between them and ourselves. We’d never think of First World peoples as indigenous.

But why not? Neither technology, geography, nor race have anything to do with the definition of “indigenous” – “originating in, and characteristic of, a particular region or country; native”

Consider all us European-descended people, for example. My ancestors came from Germany, Ireland, England, and Scotland quite recently, where they lived since the last ice age. According to geneticist Brian Sykes, 85% to 90% of the European genome can be traced back to the original hunter-gatherers who migrated in as the glaciers receded. If that doesn’t make us indigenous, I don’t know what does. What arguments could there be to the contrary? That we’re technologically advanced? That we have white skin?

To deny indigenous status to the peoples of Europe would be biased at best – and racist at worst. We are indigenous Europeans!

From our European homeland, we’ve migrated around the world – especially to North America, Australia, Canada, and South Africa, with smaller presences in almost every nation on Earth. But no matter where we roam, we are still us: the people of Europe. We have not changed our essence, we have only changed our location.

We must recover our sense of roots, our awareness of ourselves as a people. Sure, we are not all of one tribe. There are the Germans, Slaves and Celts, all of whom are descended from the Funnel Beaker People. Below that are our modern-day nations of origin, and then come our tribal roots, which are largely lost to us. But, notwithstanding this diversity, we remain Europeans. Genetically and culturally, we are sharply defined from the rest of the planet. Similarly, Native Americans may be Lakota or Cherokee or Maidu but still identify as Native Americans.

Once we understand that we are a definable group, with roots in a particular place since time immemorial, our perspective has to change. We have our own unique characteristics, our own cultural heritage, our own way-of-being in the world. Likewise, we have our own set of closely-related native religions. The largest of these would break down into Germanic, Celtic, and Slavic groups, but even then the similarities are much more pronounced than the differences. Indeed, the whole point of H.R Ellis Davidson’s Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe was to demonstrate that the Celtic and Scandinavian religions were branches of a common European belief and practice.

Only when we realize we are a people (indeed, a collection of closely related peoples) can modern Eurofolk know their inner beings. Only then can we heal ourselves, heal the world of which we are a part, and relate honestly with other peoples of the Earth. Doing this, we can discover and attain our destiny.

“Only when we realize we are a river will we stop drowning in puddles.”

Fight Broadband Fascism in North Carolina Reply

Thanks to Miles for this alert.
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North Carolina’s Senate Finance Committee is poised to take away the right of communities to decide for themselves if building their own broadband network is a good idea or not. If it passes out of this committee, it goes right to the Senate Floor and will likely become law.

We have covered Time Warner Cable’s bill to kill community networks in greater depth than any other story — and now folks in North Carolina have to immediately contact their Senators to oppose this power grab from big companies like TWC and CenturyLink. You can also use this form from Free Press if you are unsure who your Senator is.

In recent weeks, we’ve posted excellent speeches from legislators opposed to the bill, testimony from concerned citizens, and a variety of resolutions from local governments who are fearful of this bill’s impact on public safety networks needed to keep residents and businesses safe.

If you are shy, you can call before or after business hours and leave a message on their voicemail. It takes less than five minutes. Your calls make a huge difference because so few constituents ever call state legislators. Simply let them know you oppose H129 and that the state should concern itself with expanding broadband access, not restricting who can offer it.

And as I have said numerous times, those outside North Carolina should also be contacting their elected leaders — because everyone lives in a state where powerful lobbyists are trying to preserve and expand the power of a few massive companies like Time Warner Cable and AT&T.

Gary Johnson Announces 2012 Presidential Bid Reply

Article by Tim Dionisopoulos. A clash between the Paulistas and the Johnsonians could prove interesting. Ron is the more radical of the two, but Johnson is the more culturally liberal.
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Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico, has announced that he will be running as a Republican in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Johnson announced on his blog that;

“It is with great excitement that I announce my candidacy for president. America needs someone who will say ‘NO’ to the insane spending and stop the madness that has become Washington It is time we put one of our own in the White House. I have the qualifications, the ability and the know-how to do the job.”

I admire Johnson’s gutsy individualism on a variety of issues, but regarding immigration, he just does not understand the importance of what I like to call the national question. Johnson takes a very pro business approach to any situation, so restrictionists should be wary as immigration falls under this pragmatic approach. To Johnson, America is just an economic construct, nothing more, nothing less.

As I wrote in a recent Dagger Post, with Ron Paul looking set to announce his own presidential ambitions, the stage could be set for a showdown of epic proportions among he liberty movement. Johnson’s bid will gather support from the more socially permissible, free society type, left libertarians, while the more right wing libertarians are likely to keep roost in the Ron Paul camp.

This could be the start of a significant rift in the liberty movement, and it will be particularly interesting for both paleoconservatives and libertarians in this upcoming 2012 presidential race. Dependent on the way in which the ball bounces, immigration restrictionists could benefit from this type of battle, in which the left wing libertarians are forced out of the Ron Paul camp which would as a result become increasingly more right wing.

Marxists and the right to self-determination Reply

by Paul D’Amato from the Socialist Worker.
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WE MARXISTS are internationalists. “Workers of the world, unite!” was the call of Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto. “You have nothing to lose but your chains.”

Does this mean, then, that Marxists turn their backs on national oppression? “Since Marxism is based upon international workers’ solidarity,” a one-sided Marxist might argue, “we therefore denounce all forms of nationalism as a hindrance to that international workers’ unity.”

Critics of Marxism who argue that it cares only about economics and has nothing so say about questions of oppression might attribute such views to a Marxist. But it was Marx who said that a nation that oppresses another cannot be free, and Lenin who argued that nations oppressed by imperialism have the “right to self-determination.”

Nationalism is a very real phenomenon that cannot simply be ignored. In the U.S., national patriotism–the idea that “USA is Number One,” is used to bind workers to rulers, to convince American workers that they have the same interests as wealthy profiteers and their friends in the White House.

In short, workers here are encouraged to believe that they have more in common with George Bush–a scion of the rich who is backed by oil and gas interests–than they do with Iraqi workers that Bush proposes to bomb.

This is true in every country, as all are divided by class, and each state, though it represents the interests of the ruling, capitalist class, seeks the support of its population for its own narrow interests through an appeal to nationalist sentiment.

Nevertheless, socialists make a distinction between the nationalism of the oppressors and the nationalism of the oppressed. We do this not because we are nationalists–on the contrary, we oppose the elevation of any nation over that of another, or the elevation of one culture over another.

Precisely because we are internationalists we argue for full equality between nations, and that such equality can only be established by granting oppressed nations the right to self-determination. Only in this way can workers in the oppressed countries unite with workers in the oppressor country.

Fanatics' fury at Muslim Playgirl Reply

The shit’s hitting the fan now.
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And Islamic fanatics have posted threatening internet messages.

Sila, raised in Germany by conservative Turkish parents, says she fears being “spat at” and “shamed”.

Her parents are said to have reacted with “horror” at the 12-page coverage, and her mother has apparently cut off all contact.

Sila, 25 – star of German soap Good Times, Bad Times – claimed the shoot was a reaction to the “slavery” of her youth.

She added: “What I want to say with these photos is, ‘Girls, we don’t have to live according to the rules imposed upon us’.

“For years I subordinated myself to various societal constraints. The Playboy photo shoot was a total act of liberation.”

Threats

But Islamic internet sites are being monitored by the BND – the German intelligence agency – after threats were posted about her “shaming Muslim womanhood” and “prostituting herself for money”.

One poster on the Jihad Watch website wrote: “She needs to be very careful…” Another simply said: “She must pay.”

A kebab shop owner, asked on German TV what he would do if Sila were his daughter, replied: “I would kill her. I really mean that. That doesn’t fit with my culture.”

Court Grants New Sentencing for Mumia Abu-Jamal Reply

From Infoshop. I don’t know enough about this case to know whether this guy is guilty or not. But, hell, the dude’s already been on death row for almost thirty years. Some countries don’t even allow prison sentences longer than that. Give the guy a break.
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from ABC News:

PHILADELPHIA – April 26, 2011 (WPVI) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered a new sentencing hearing for convicted police killer and death-row activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, finding for a second time that the death-penalty instructions given to the jury at his 1982 trial were potentially misleading.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told prosecutors to conduct the new sentencing hearing for the former Black Panther within six months or agree to a life sentence. Abu-Jamal’s first-degree murder conviction still stands in the fatal shooting of Officer Daniel Faulkner, who was white.

District Attorney Seth Williams pledged to mount another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, at the urging of Faulkner’s widow, Maureen.

“Yes, the criminal justice system in Philadelphia, the criminal justice system in America, have had a history of problems and racism,” said Williams, the city’s first black district attorney. “(But) this is not a whodunit.”

Abu-Jamal’s worldwide followers “don’t know the facts,” Williams said.

Defense lawyers said the ruling addresses “an unfortunate chapter in Pennsylvania history.”

“Pennsylvania long ago abandoned the confusing and misleading instructions and verdict slip that were relied on in Mr. Abu-Jamal’s trial in order to prevent unfair and unjust death sentences,” said Widener University law professor Judith Ritter, who argued the most recent appeal in November. “Mr. Abu-Jamal is entitled to no less constitutional protection.”

Tuesday’s ruling is the latest in Abu-Jamal’s long-running legal saga.

A federal judge in 2001 first granted him a new sentencing hearing because of the trial judge’s instructions on aggravating and mitigating factors. Philadelphia prosecutors have been fighting the order since, but the 3rd Circuit ruled against them in a pivotal 2008 decision.

In rejecting a similar claim in an Ohio death-penalty case last year, the Supreme Court ordered the Philadelphia appeals court to revisit its Abu-Jamal decision.

On Tuesday, the 3rd Circuit judges stood their ground and noted differences in the two cases.

Under Pennsylvania law, Abu-Jamal should have received a life sentence if a single juror found the mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating factors in Faulkner’s slaying. The three-judge appeals panel found the verdict form confusing, given its repeated use of the word “unanimous,” even in the section on mitigating circumstances.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court failed to evaluate whether the complete text of the verdict form, together with the jury instructions, would create a substantial probability the jury believed both aggravating and mitigating circumstances must be found unanimously,” Judge Anthony J. Scirica wrote in the 32-page ruling.

The decision upholds the 2001 ruling by U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr., who first ruled that the flawed jury instructions warranted a new sentencing hearing. While prosecutors were fighting that ruling, Abu-Jamal has been trying unsuccessfully to have his conviction overturned.

Faulkner, a white 25-year-old patrolman, had pulled over Abu-Jamal’s brother on a downtown street at about 4 a.m. one morning in 1981. Abu-Jamal, a former radio reporter, was working as a cabbie at the time.

According to trial testimony, Faulkner stopped the brother, William Cook, for a driving infraction. Abu-Jamal, from his taxicab across the street, saw them scuffle and ran toward the scene. Police found Abu-Jamal wounded by a round from Faulkner’s gun. Faulkner, shot several times, was dead. A .38-caliber revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings.

Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, turned 58 on Sunday. His writings and radio broadcasts from death row in western Pennsylvania have made him a cause celebre and the subject of numerous books and movies. His own 1995 book, “Live From Death Row,” describes prison life and calls the justice system racist and ruled by political expediency.

Hundreds of vocal supporters and death-penalty opponents regularly turn out for court hearings in his case, even though Abu-Jamal is rarely entitled to attend.

Steve Sailer on Atlas Shrugged Reply

Read the review.
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Atlas Shrugged: Part I is the most universally despised movie of 2011, but I liked it. Critics hate this adaptation of Ayn Rand’s 1957 cult novel for predictable ideological reasons, while Randites are embarrassed that their exalted capitalist system failed to pony up the munificent financing necessary to give Rand’s doorstop novel the blockbuster treatment they feel it deserves.

Instead of Angelina Jolie as heroine Dagny Taggart (as was rumored in 2008), this adaptation stars Taylor Schilling and other TV types. The film was rushed into principal photography on June 13, 2010, just two days before producer John Aglialoro’s 18-year option ran out.

I’ve never read Rand’s novel about a dystopian near-future in which the unappreciated capitalists who keep the world running go on strike. And from what my wife tells me of her attempt to grind through the book in college, it sounds pretty dire: “Rand lauds the competent, but she herself wasn’t a competent novelist.” Thus, I walked into the theater with negligible expectations, wondering whether it would be ethical to walk out early and still review it.

“Rand is famous for being anti-government, so it’s intriguing to see how much she despised corporate oligarchs equipped merely with deft lobbyists.

To my surprise, I quite enjoyed Atlas Shrugged. Although the story is a hymn to the overdog, this low-budget movie has underdog appeal. I soon started to root for the plucky filmmakers to pull off their high-wire act of making a movie that’s distinctive—not distinguished, but still very 1957 in texture—without having anywhere near enough of the dollars that Rand idolized.

Pacifism as Pathology Reply

Stuart Bramhall on the great Ward Churchill.
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Pacifism as Pathology is a collection of essays centered around Ward Churchill’s original 1985 essay “Pacifism as Pathology: Notes on an American Pseudopraxis.” The premise of the essay is that the militant nonviolent stance assumed by the US progressive movement is based on irrational psychological reasons rather than strategic reasons or moral principle.

Viewpoints from a Range of Activists

The 2007 edition contains a preface by Derrick Jensen, who lays out compelling reasons for the necessity of “violence” in bringing about genuine political change in his 2006 book Endgame. Jensen’s argument, as in Endgame, is primarily ecological. Humankind is being systematically killed off by the capitalist class, via their poisoning of the air, water and food chain, as well as their heedless imposition of catastrophic climate change. Jensen poses the very reasonable question: are we willing to retaliate violently to save our own lives and those of our children and grandchildren?

The next essay is Ed Mead’s preface to the 1998 edition of Pacifism as Pathology, immediately following an 18 year prison term as a result of armed actions (bombings of state and federal buildings in Washington State) conducted by the George Jackson Brigade. Based on his experiences, he arrives at the following conclusions: 1) pacifism as a strategy of achieving social, political and economic change can only lead to dead end liberalism – the most vicious and violent ruling class in history won’t give up privilege without a physical fight; 2) because 99.9% of practitioners of political violence will eventually confront death or imprisonment, it’s imperative that political violence be carried out in a manner calculated to win; and 3) although the George Jackson Brigade applied the tool of revolutionary violence when its use wasn’t appropriate, he feels pride that they erred on the side of making revolution instead of the alternative.

The book also contains an afterwards by Canadian Activist Mike Ryan describing his frustration after 20 years of nonviolent resistance as part of the Canadian peace movement – and his conclusion that violent resistance must be allowed as a tactic for genuine political change to occur.

No Masters, Not Even Ron Paul Reply

Article by David D’Amato.
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Anarchists are assured that rival organizations for defense, without monopoly power or captive markets, would surely shoot it out in the streets, while the single, overarching authority that we have at present will act only for the common good. So although statists are allowed to impute godlike qualities to their apparently preternatural institution, it is anarchists that are said to have a Panglossian vision of human nature and society.

We are supposed to imagine that the best results are achieved from an organization that has absolutely no incentive to serve the citizenry, that itself is subject to no outside check on its power, but why? If human nature really is as gloomy as Hobbes was convinced that it was, with the brutish war of all against all sitting just below the surface of all human affairs, then indeed the state seems to be the very worst and most ill-conceived of our possible options for the good society.

For all other goods and services, we tend to harbor an instinctive skepticism toward lone providers, setting a high standard of proof for claims that a monopoly is either necessary or inevitable due to the nature of the case. For the state, however, the presumptions are exactly the reverse, accepting it as necessary from the outset and ruling out any argument that would call it into question.

To divest societies of the state is not to welcome chaos, but to, in the words of Lysander Spooner, “get rid of the usurpers, robbers, and murderers, called governments, that now plunder, enslave, and destroy them.” Market anarchists seek to expose the myth that unopposed aggression is capable of doing anything at all that voluntary cooperation and exchange cannot; we seek to demonstrate, by both the force of logic and empirical evidence, that the state’s first purpose, rather than creating order, is to allow a few to live off of the labor of all others — that every secondary purpose that seems to contradict the first is only an ameliorative measure.

Even some professed anarchists have, in the past, supported Ron Paul’s candidature for political office, arguing in essence that dismantling the state from within is the best chance we have. There is little reason, though, to think that those in positions of power are even capable of pulling violent hierarchies to pieces from inside of those hierarchies. The best chance we really have is to form peaceful institutions to rival those of the state, to fill up social life with the moral and practical power of the voluntary order.

A Ron Paul presidency shouldn’t be the fantasy of those who want a true libertarian revolution. The state, its every piece and office, must be disapproved and resisted at every step. Only then will its illegitimacy become apparent and its voluntary counterparts grow stronger.

The Aristocratic Left: Enemies of the Human Race 4

Another column from AltRight.

I discuss some of the ideas contained in Roderick Long’s recent paper on how to build bridges between leftists and libertarians. I praise Long’s insightful analysis of what he calls the “aristocratic Left.” Long is rare among hard leftists in recognizing that liberalism is a totalitarian ideology and that its primary constituents are the affluent and wealthy. His concept of an “aristocratic Left” overlaps very well with my analysis of the relationship between class theory and ideology. But I seriously take Long to task for not following though with the easily discernible observation that PC (in which Long himself is a faithful believer) is itself an ideological expression of this same totalitarian liberal aristocratic Left. I also see some other problems with Long’s discussion that seem inconsistent with positions than he and many of his “left-libertarian” compatriots have taken in the past. More on that later.
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One of the more important insights advanced by the “radical right” is the recognition that liberalism is in fact an ideology of the elite. Most hard leftists regard nearly everyone to the right of Leon Trotsky to be an “extreme right-winger” and it is not uncommon to see such people denounce moderate conservatives as “fascists” or “crypto-Nazis.” The publications of the hard left persistently lament the supposed ongoing drift of domestic American politics to the “far right” even though American society continues to become ever more liberal, and the ideas of yesterday’s loony leftists become ever more mainstream and respectable. For example, expressing support for gay marriage, which would have been regarded as insanity during the supposed Golden Age of Decadence of the 1960s and 1970s, is now just another somewhat controversial but still respectable middle-of-the-road, perhaps slightly left-of-center opinion.

Likewise, the election of the first Black president is somehow dismissed by the Left as just a cosmetic feature that hides what a horrid, racist, White supremacist society America really is, even though nothing destroys the reputation and career of a public figure any quicker than accusations racism, no matter how mild or dubious.

Further, Professor Long recognizes that the upper classes and affluent upper-middle classes are hardly consistent or even frequent proponents of ostensibly conservative economic values such as “free markets” or “limited government.” Rather the wealthy and affluent are like every other socioeconomic interest group in that they want state intervention into the economy on their own behalf, not “free enterprise” or “market discipline.” This is a sharp departure from the usual leftist habit of dismissing conservative and libertarian critics of state-managed economies as mere apologists for the plutocratic status quo. But what Professor Long is missing is the insight that perhaps many of those who present themselves as champions of the workers, the poor, minorities, women, gays, immigrants, and on down the list of the officially oppressed might also have less than honest or honorable motivations, and might in fact frequently be charlatans, crooks, scam artists, or aspiring tyrants. Nor does it occur to him that perhaps those “aristocratic leftists” whom he labels as “enemies of the human race,” and who are persistently agitating for repressive gun laws and intrusive economic regulations, might in fact be the same class of folks who are similarly pushing the vast array of attitudes, institutional policies, and bits of legislation that have collectively been given the popular label of “political correctness.”

For it is among this class of upper-middle income and wealthy liberals that Long describes that we typically find the most zealous proponents of affirmative action, amnesty for illegal immigrants, legislated “rights” for the organized gay lobby that in fact abridge the associational, religious, and economic liberties of others, radical feminists who are not downtrodden seamstresses in garment factories but tenured academics or activist attorneys or other professionals, university professors and administrators, public sector bureaucrats who oversee the managerial state, corporate executives who pride themselves on their extensive commitment to “diversity” and “sensitivity,” and so on. Might it not just be that this socioeconomic demographic, those “aristocratic leftists” who are “enemies of the human race,” are in fact the exact same people who are the most zealous proponents of PC fundamentalism? And might they indeed have sinister ulterior motives for assuming such a stance?

A Clash of Victimologies 3

A recently column of mine at Alternative Right.

The worldview advanced by the “totalitarian humanist” strand of the Left tends to view human social life from the reductionist perspective of group conflict between “oppressed groups” and “oppressor groups.” But what happens when individual members of “oppressed groups” engage in predatory acts against each other?Are not the oppressed supposed to be acting in solidarity with one another? The incident I discuss in this article illustrates a number of cracks in that particular worldview. If the victim being discussed were not a sexual minority, would her plight be given any attention at all? What does that say about the actual hierarchy of privilege in our society? Of course, in a functional society of rational people, violent crime would simply be violent crime. Individuals would be responsible for their own actions regardless of their groups affiliations or collective identities. But we don’t live in a functional society of rational people.

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This incident has created an interesting dilemma for the Left. Which class of official victim groups are they going to side with on this one? The Battle of McDonald’s provides an illustration of why, I believe, the Left as it is presently constituted will fail in the long run, whatever its present level of institutional influence and however much it may be able to endure for a few more decades. The Left will eventually self-destruct because its core tenets are self-contradictory and cannot be sustained in real world social practice. The Left’s core constituent groups: racial minorities, immigrants, the LGBT community, feminists, “secular humanists,” the black and Hispanic underclass, wealthy Jews, etc. have interests that are ultimately incompatible with one another. As the Left becomes more powerful in the short run, as the realities imposed by mass immigration become more apparent, and the tensions between the official victim groups begin to surface to an ever greater extent, the coalition of the officially oppressed will begin to self-cannibalize. Each interest group within the victimology paradigm will begin to battle each other for the “More Oppressed Than Thou” championship title. This will be the death blow for PC. It’s only a matter of time.

Why I Became a Left-Libertarian 1

Essay by “Martin” at the Liberal Conspiracy.
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As Libertarians across the US flock to cinemas to watch the film version of Atlas Shrugged (the film has a limited release and harsh criticism from everyone outside those who are already fully bought into Ayn Rand’s philosophy of corporate apologism and advocacy of selfishness as a way of life), the UK’s own Libertarian Party is caught in a minor controversy over its leader.

So it’s not a brilliant week to be a reader of Nozick, Rand, Friedman or Mises. But then, it’s never a good time to declare yourself associated with any philosophy that holds lassez faire capitalism to be a virtue.

But to an increasing number of self-described libertarians, myself included, the “right wing” libertarians of the LPUK/LPUS are quietly abandoning the doctrinaire “virtue of selfishness” model of freedom advocated by the Capitalist Libertarians who insist on the productive wonders of hierarchial, wealth concentrating and politically powerful private corporations.

The left-libertarian, on the other hand, prefers to recognise these economic powerhouses as what they are: the beneficiaries of near invisible State subsidies in a variety of forms.

These subsidies include
– artificial property rights,
– a regulatory system that benefits large, established players at the expense of smaller suppliers,
– subsidising of long-distance transportation at the expense of local enterprise more able to adapt supply to demand,
– and overhead capital costs made so high that most regular people are unable to ever go into business themselves.

In short, Capitalism as we know it couldn’t survive without the state; “free market” capitalism is an oxymoron. In reality, capitalism – even anarcho-capitalism – is in effect, privatised feudalism.

So why do so called Libertarians come out in full force to support an economic system that is anything but libertarian?

The Partisan Temptation: US Foreign Policy and Presidential Politics Reply

Article by Justin Raimondo.
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In terms of ideology, 19 percent of those who consider themselves “very liberal” support Obama’s Libyan adventure, and the number goes way up to 42 percent when we’re talking about those who see themselves as “somewhat liberal.” 32 percent of self-described “moderates” support the President’s Libya policy, and the numbers go down when we get into the conservative zone: the conservative somewhats and the Tea Party types are17 percent and 18 percent respectively. 49 percent of “very liberal” voters are opposed to the Libyan intervention, but a mere 14 percent say Obama’s latest foreign policy move makes them less likely to vote for him. So he gets to keep his base intact – yes, even after all those drone strikes, the incursion into Pakistan, and now Libya.

Look at the astonishing turnabout made by the activist core of the Democratic party on foreign policy matters: even among the “very liberal” types, nearly 20 percent support the policy and 32 percent are “not sure.” In a swathe of the population that filled the streets with picket signs proclaiming “Bush Lied, People Died!”, this is an about-face that pays tribute to the hypnotic power of partisan politics, and specifically to the distorting influence of our two-party system on the foreign policy debate.

As long as our politics are defined in terms of Team Blue and Team Red, and these arrangements are encoded in law, real change of any sort, never mind a radical reversal of our interventionist foreign policy, is next to impossible. The reason is that the “pragmatists” in the two parties can always count on their respective bases to back them no matter what they do – that, at least, has been the case up until now, and this operating principle extends especially when we get to foreign policy.

The liberal base of the Democratic party has basically made a pact with the Devil in which they agree to forget about all those foreigners being killed overseas, in return for a package of goodies on the home front: and the Obama-ites have certainly gone out of their way to reward their loyalists. The liberals have, in short, sold out, quite literally – and at a very reduced price. Instead of single-payer health care they got a corporate bailout and more money in the pockets of the President’s favorite crony-capitalists, but hey, what the heck, let’s get practical. It takes lots of crony capitalist money to run a presidential campaign. And besides that, what if the Republicans get back in power – do you want that?

This argument always wins the day in “progressive” circles, no matter how committed to non-interventionism some of these folks may be, in theory: it works like a charm every time.

Race and Economics Reply

Thomas Sowell discusses the work of Walter Williams.
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I can still vividly recall the response to one of Walter’s earliest writings, back in the 1970s, when he and I were working on the same research project in Washington. Walter wrote a brief article that destroyed the central theme of one of the fashionable books of the time, “The Poor Pay More.”

It was true, he agreed, that prices were higher in low-income minority neighborhoods. But he rejected the book’s claim that this was due to “exploitation,” “racism” and the like.

Having written a doctoral dissertation on this subject, Walter then proceeded to show why there were higher costs of doing business in many low-income neighborhoods, and that these costs were simply passed on to the consumers there.

What I remember especially vividly is that, in reply, someone called Walter “a white racist.” Not many people had seen Walter at that time. But it was also a sad sign of how name-calling had replaced thought when it came to race.

The same issue is explored in Chapter 6 of Race and Economics. The clinching argument is that, despite higher markups in prices in low-income neighborhoods, there is a lower than average rate of return for businesses there – one of the reasons why businesses tend to avoid such neighborhoods.

My own favorite chapter in Race and Economics is Chapter 3, which I think is the most revealing chapter in the book.

That chapter begins, “Some might find it puzzling that during times of gross racial discrimination, black unemployment was lower and blacks were more active in the labor force than they are today.” Moreover, the duration of unemployment among blacks was shorter than among whites between 1890 and 1900, whereas unemployment has become both higher and longer-lasting among blacks than among whites in more recent times.

None of this is explainable by what most people believe or say in the media or in academia. But it is perfectly consistent with the economics of the marketplace and the consequences of political interventions in the marketplace.

Drones Are Coming to America Reply

Article by John Whitehead.
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The U.S. government has a history of commandeering military technology for use against Americans. We saw this happen with tear gas, tasers and sound cannons, all of which were first used on the battlefield before being deployed against civilians at home. Now the drones – pilotless, remote controlled aircraft that have been used extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan (at least 600 civilians have been killed in drone attacks in Pakistan since the United States started targeting insurgents in that country) and were most recently approved by President Obama for use in Libya – are coming home to roost (and fly) in domestic airspace.

As USA Today reports:

Police agencies around the USA soon could have a new tool in their crime-fighting arsenal: unmanned aircraft inspired by the success of such drones on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Local governments have been pressing the Federal Aviation Administration for wider use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs – a demand driven largely by returning veterans who observed the crafts’ effectiveness in war, according to experts at New Mexico State University and Auburn University. Police could use the smaller planes to find lost children, hunt illegal marijuana crops and ease traffic jams in evacuations of cities before hurricanes or other natural disasters.

Attached as an amendment to the “Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Act” (S.223), the legislation allowing drones to fly in general American airspace has already cleared Congress, thanks to support from military contractors and a lack of opposition from those who should know better – including an American populace preoccupied with rising gas prices, a dismal economy and endless wars abroad. The only thing lacking is Obama’s final stamp of approval, which is expected at any moment.

America, Prison Capital of the World Reply

Article by Stephen Cox.
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The California prison system, euphemistically known as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, employs more people than any other state agency. It has 69,000 authorized positions. Between 1998 and 2009, its budget almost tripled, reaching $10.3 billion dollars in the latter year – despite the fact that the number of people in prison had increased by only 9% during the period. (I’m using the Department’s own figures here.) As of 2009, the average cost of maintaining an inmate in this system was more than $49,000, of which about a third was spent on healthcare. That is more than twice what my own excellent healthcare insurance costs me and my employer, the University of California, despite the fact that I, unlike 85% of the inmates in California prisons, am over 50 years old and therefore have higher real healthcare costs than the average California inmate.

Now, if you think this picture is representative only of California, you are right – in a way. Florida, which is demographically comparable in many respects, and also has a “modern” prison system, spends only about $20,000 per year, per inmate, and of that only $4300 is spent on healthcare.

But which state has the better prison system? One measure – bleak and basic – of a prison’s success is the extent to which it prevents its denizens from suffering needless death. The latest comprehensive state and national statistics on this, provided by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, cover the period from 2001 to 2007. They show that California, with 70% more inmates than Florida, had almost 500% more homicides in its prisons. When homicides are combined with deaths from “accidents” and drug and alcohol intoxication, that percentage is about 550.

It needn’t surprise anyone that giving more money to “corrections” may not be the best way to solve its problems (any more than giving more money to government schools is the best way to solve the problems of education). But giving more money is exactly what states have been doing. According to a recent report from the Pew Center on the States, between 1987 and 2007 state expenditures on prisons rose nationally by 315%. During the same period, the number of people in prison rose by only (!) 169%, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Pew report shows that even Florida gives 9.3% of its general fund to corrections, with California slightly behind, at 8.6% – an indication that the total amount of money that a state spends on prisons isn’t influenced so much by the nature of the prison regime as by the amount of money that taxpayers “contribute” to the state. One way or another, the prisons are going to be given their due proportion of the take.

Any problems with the prisons – and there are a lot – are unlikely to be solved by increased taxation and expenditure. At present, it’s difficult to say how much the 50 states spend, per convict, on their prison systems; their reporting methods vary a good deal. The best estimate is something over $30,000 a year. Yet prisons are almost universally regarded as failures by the people who pay for them.

What can be done?

The Bush Dynasty: America's Largest Crime Family Reply

Lew Rockwell interviews investigative journalist Russ Baker.
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Investigative journalist Russ Baker updates what he uncovered in Family of Secrets about the Bushes with his responses to the former President’s best-selling book. In sum, Bush started a war under false pretenses, allegedly left the cockpit because of substance abuse, got fabricated religion in order to keep power, desired to invade Iraq even before his presidency, and works to set up his brother Jeb for the Presidency. Baker finds the Bush Family political system to be a brilliant con job, benefiting large wealthy interests, and being continued by Obama.