Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

  • MacLean’s: Shocking article about NATO compensation schemes for civilian deaths in Afghanistan. It’s a business. Compensation for one tragedy was $20,000 and a new car, whereas for another death, it was just $210. That NATO forces are able to put a dollar value on human life through bargaining is proof of the devastating and dehumanizing effects this war is having. End it now before any more blood ends up on our hands.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, HuffPo: Visualizing what America’s armies hath wrought in Iraq: 100-150k dead civilians, 2 million refugees abroad, 2 million displaced persons domestically.  If you had any illusions about this empire being a liberal or ennobling one (contradiction in terms), they must be shredded by now.
  • The Globe & Mail: In news that should shock no one, a Kelowna (B.C.) Mountie kicked the hell out of a suspect. You can watch the video yourself. Eyewitnesses report that the suspect, Buddy Tavares, was complying with the officer. Cops are not your friend.
  • Juan Cole: We already knew about Jawaher Abu Rahmah, the Palestinian woman killed by Israeli tear gas recently. Add to the list of Israel’s victims the names of Anas Salih (died in Gaza after being denied the exit visa he needed to get medical treatment) and Omar al-Qawasmeh (innocent man murdered in his home in a case of mistaken identity). The occupation must end.
  • Glenn Greenwald: Writing about the “climate of fear” the American government has created in the minds of its citizens. I used to study totalitarian regimes. Many scholars agreed that the worst kind of censorship they exercised was the self-censorship that went on in the fear-wracked minds of their citizens. This self-censorship is now here in America. Progress!
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Guess what–stupid anti-meth laws had the unintended consequences of making the meth trade far more profitable and seeing a boost in meth use. But hey, at least those kneejerk laws that make you feel like a criminal when you go to buy cough medicine kept some old lady without an ID from getting the Nyquil she wanted.
  • NYT: Do not forget the name “Nasrin Sotoudeh.” She is a human rights lawyer in Iran who has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, disbarred, and (my favorite) banned from leaving Iran for 20 years. “You are such an awful criminal that…we cannot bear to have you leave us!” What a vile place. Sotoudeh’s “crime” was talking to the foreign media.
  • National Post: In this time of governmental austerity, the Canadian government has somehow found additional money to expand their prison capacity. To be fair, Canada’s incarceration rate is much lower than America’s. This move still repulses me. At best, it is a cynical way to “create jobs,” never mind the fact that building more jail cells creates a powerful incentive to fill them. At worst, it is a declaration of faith in the untruth that locking more people in cages makes a better society. It doesn’t.
  • Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy: Post on the Illinois budget crisis, where income taxes may be jacked up to cover a deficit. I don’t have a strong position on the budget crisis. What I do have a strong position on is oft-quoted beltway “libertarian” Megan McArdle, who wrote, “Whether or not you think these programs should exist, they do now, and you can’t simply throw people off who planned their lives around them.” Time to write that loser out of the libertarian movement.
  • Via Thomas DiLorenzo, Anne Applebaum: It’s not often a mag like Foreign Policy prints an article titled “Homeland Security Hasn’t Made Us Safer,” so relish it for now. After unmasking the fact that DHS is a porkbarrel subsidy program, Applebaum writes, “As for the TSA, I am not aware of a single bomber or bomb plot stopped by its time-wasting procedures.” Amen.
  • Via Liberale et Libertaire: “Serious” and “respected” pundit Matt Yglesias recently called for the U.S. to institute a gendarmerie system (as he put it, “a quasi-military federal organization specialized in police/security functions rather than finding and killing bad guys per se.”) Sweet Jesus! As if the thing that this horrid little police state needs to get it going again is more cops with more power.
  • MacLean’s: This article about drunk driving nearly made me cry. In each case discussed, a drunk driver killed a beloved passenger. In each case, the family of the dead victim asked for clemency for the drunk driver, a friend of their lost loved one. In each case, Leviathan said, “Down, slave! I know what is best for this society,” and promptly threw the book at the offenders. No respect for the dead.
  • Cienna Madrid at The Stranger: Blogging from day two of the inquest into the murder death of half-deaf woodcarver John T. Williams at the hands of SPD Ofc. Ian Birk. A homicide investigator apparently tried to claim that the legal-sized whittling knife Birk claimed Williams had open but was found closed at the crime scene somehow magically closed itself when Williams dropped it. Mmmm-hmm. Then Birk took the stand to admit that he never called for back-up in 10-second confrontation that ended with Williams dead on the pavement. Birk has the gall to claim Williams looked at him threateningly, even though dashcam footage shows the perpetually drunk Williams shuffling across the street in a pitiful and harmless enough way that other pedestrians continued to walk towards him. It can’t happen in this inquest, but I look forward to the day Birk faces murder charges.
  • NYT: Israeli bloggers question their government’s use of tear gas following the tragic death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah. Awesome work, bloggers. It is a powerful and important thing for the world to understand that not all Israelis support the brutal thuggery and murder carried out in their name.
  • NYT: The Russian opposition thought they had a way around the country’s absurd permit process for protests–sending out protesters willing to stand an approved distance away from each other. Now pro-Kremlin groups are counter-picketing the solo protesters by standing near them, just to get them arrested. Of course, the cops are not arresting the pro-Kremlin folks. Vile.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: In case you still thought NAFTA was really a free trade agreement, did you know Mexican truckers have been banned from driving in the U.S. since 2009? This then led to punitive tariffs from Mexico. Sounding like free trade, right? Well, Obama might be about to address the situation, but not without the noxious Teamsters warning us how awful that would be for America.
  • NYT: My, my, the Israelis are bloodthirsty lately–the latest allegation is that they killed a 65-year-old Gazan man on his farm…for getting too close to the security fence. Of course, Palestinians responded with violence of their own.
  • NYT: The post-election crackdown in Belarus is getting worse. Lukashenko’s rotten state is now trying to place Danil Sannikov, the 3-year-old son of (arrested) opposition leader Andrei Sannikov and his (arrested) journalist wife Irina Khalip, in an orphanage. Never mind that his grandmother has been appointed to care for him! How dare Lukashenko bring innocent children into his bloodsport.
  • Daily Anarchist: Another “ugh” moment from this (formerly good) blog–author Seth King says that it is right to milk the state for benefits. Why? “Only then will the productive class begin to realize that paying taxes is for chumps.” Also, “you are not responsible for its theft because you never condone forced wealth redistribution.” Whatever helps you sleep at night after you’ve spent your ill-gained food stamps, Seth. Shameful.
  • Brendan Kiley at The Stranger: The fourth (and last) installment in an awesome investigative series on the drug war. Kiley comes to the conclusion that the best thing to do is legalize all drugs. This is very good. The only problem is this statement: “The only way out is to legalize—and regulate—everything.” Regulate it? Why? Just let people put what they want into their bodies and face the consequences. If they don’t like the risk, then don’t ingest the drug or create a private testing organization to give them the safety they want. Even if I disagree with regulating, it’s a great and invaluable piece of writing.

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I wonder what Glenn Greenwald would have turned out like in a different era. In this present era of surveillance, secrecy, war, and trampled civil rights, it’s like he is pathologically incapable of doing anything but speaking truth to power. He is one of the few people on the left to keep up the anti-torture, anti-war, anti-Patriot Act drumbeat that was so intense under Bush but immediately was silenced under Obama. He routinely spits in the eye of some of the most august publications we have, like The NYT. I. Love. Glenn. Greenwald.

Last week, he had three great columns in a row on the shambolic coverage that the American media gave to the WikiLeaks Iraq release. The Afghanistan one didn’t go so hot for the propagandists at the Pentagon. This time around, they had plenty of time to lean on their sycophants at the NYT and elsewhere. They got more subservient coverage and even an assault on Julian Assange in return.

When the documents dropped in the NYT and got pretty crappy coverage, they also included a hit piece on Julian Assange. Greenwald lost it. At first, I wasn’t inclined to agree with him. Assange is a public figure. If a paper wants to run a hit piece on him, fine, let them.

But Greenwald won me over. The thing is, this media, our media, doesn’t do hit pieces anymore. Look at this NYT piece and how they smeared Assange with unsubstantiated crap from unreliable sources. Look at how his character is impugned. They don’t do this to establishment hacks. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that the slimeball John Burns who wrote it criticized Rolling Stone freelancer Michael Hastings for his brave takedown of Stan McChrystal.

The next day, Greenwald did an unfortunately hilarious headline comparison for the WikiLeaks story from major news outlets. Nearly everyone emphasized Iraqi abuses we ignored. It was only the NYT that licked the regime’s boots and wrote “Detainees Fared Worse in Iraqi Hands.” Spinelessness. Wretch.

The third piece is a bit too long to be as interesting, but it’s another takedown of John Burns for his supposed fair story on Assange. I did find this line worth just about memorizing and repeating:

Of course, another major reason why these media figures are so eager to parrot the Government line — to try to destroy Assange and insist that there’s “nothing new” in these horrifying documents — is because they cheered for these wars in the first place.

Amen! I don’t think there’s a liberal bias in the American media. Sure, they might favor Democrats over Republicans, but what does that really matter when both parties love war and death? They just want a bigger helping of welfare state with their fat slice of imperialism and war.

Viva Greenwald.

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With the Republicans winning control of the House last week, Rep. Buck McKeon R-CA stands to become chair of the powerful Armed Services Committee. I had not heard of Bucky before, but immediately upon reading his flagrantly retarded imperialist paeans to death, I wanted to tell this man to do something to himself that rhymes with his name. It did not rhyme with McKeon.

First there was LewRockwell.com tipping me to an Antiwar.com article that revealed Bucky has already said his top priority for his chairmanship will be continuing the vile festival of death war in Afghanistan. Isn’t it refreshing when someone’s declared top priority is continuing to see American teenagers come home in bodybags and Afghan kids get blown up by drones? I am so proud to be a patriot and wring my flag out in the  blood of innocent people!

Then Lewis McCrary at The American Conservative pointed out that McKeon is also on the record as supporting a higher defense budget. This is less offensive to me than the war thing because it doesn’t necessarily have to mean people die. That being said, it’s just about 100 times more retarded and logically unfathomable. We already account for 48% of the world’s military spending. Again, we spend nearly as much on our imperialist killing machine military as every other country on earth combined. And this suntanned little imbecile from California wants to spend more? Our country is going bankrupt. Our military is so big it needs to be fed with wars. And he wants to expand it.

This is why the Republicans winning was really no better than the Democrats keeping it. Sure, maybe they won’t blow quite as much money on stimulus programs and healthcare, but they are a bunch of warmongering psychopaths who are certain to continue the wars we have  now and sure wouldn’t mind starting another one in Iran. Heck, the Democrats probably would have done the same thing. There’s one party in Washington–the War Party.

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It’s been a while. Last week got a bit nutty with election coverage. But I’ve done a ton of reading and now you get a super sized-order of links.

  • NYT: Sane people in NYC have run the stats on NYPD’s stop-and-frisk campaign and they aren’t pretty. Of course minorities were stopped more frequently. It turns out that more than 30% of the 2.8 million stops between 2004-2009 probably weren’t justified. Thank God activists are filing a lawsuit. The cop-bullies need to be punched in the nose for this one.
  • Via Tyler Cowen, IT World: Demands a clickthrough, just to see the heartbreaking photo of a 23-year-old North Korean girl who could easily be mistaken for a malnourished preteen. Enjoy your cognac, Kim Jong-Il. If there’s a hell, you’re going to be roasting in it. If there’s not, hopefully your people manage to Ceausescu you first.
  • LewRockwell.com blog: Johannes Mehserle, the Oakland cop who murdered Oscar Grant, received a two-year sentence. With time served, he could be out in just over six months. It’s their country, we just live in it.
  • Via Radley Balko at Reason, poker player Terrence Chan: U.S. customs thugs turn the tourist Chan away twice at the border, even after he gave them personal documents with the insulting level of private information they wanted from him. These people are out of control. Let’s not even get into the right of free people to cross borders. Let’s just leave it at the sheer idiocy of customs bullies keeping people from spending money in our economy during a recession. How smart, you scumbags.
  • Justin Raimondo: Running down a murderer’s row of happy little accomplices to state-sanctioned murder who are about to find themselves holding leadership positions in the House. Yuck. But as Raimondo points out, at least the utterly vile war criminal Ilario Pantano lost his campaign. Thank God.
  • IMPORTANT — English-language PDF of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s final remarks at his showtrial in the gulags. I don’t agree with every word, but I know that we must not forget this man. He abused a corrupt system, he probably did some extremely shady things in Russia’s early capitalist era, and he would have never become as rich as he did if not for state power. But that doesn’t mean he deserves to end up serving a life sentence in prison whilst men who did worse roam free.
  • Glenn Greenwald: Having a field day with the slavish U.S. media’s attempts to blame the letter bomb campaign on al-Awlaki. This is Greenwald at his best, pointing out the near-total lack of evidence for any involvement by al-Awlaki…except for the very convenient fact that he is a U.S. citizen Obama wants to murder targeted-kill.
  • The Economist: They’re getting bolder–after the FBI provoked a man into supporting one of their little agent-provocateur fake terrorist attacks on the Washington Metro, transit police wanted to start searching bags the next day. You didn’t keep us safe from anything, you losers. This guy would have never done anything if he wasn’t put up to it. Don’t you dare try to take away more of our rights.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus: Pitching “instant recall” voting with “None of the above” as an option. If “None of the above” wins, Mickey wants a fresh election with all new candidates. This is how sick democracy is. Even when you don’t want anyone, they make you pick someone, just to make the system look legitimate. Here’s an idea: “None of the above” as an option and the office ceases to exist if it wins.
  • NYT: “Well wouldn’t you know it, most politicians didn’t want to talk about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in their election campaigns.” Is this surprising to anyone? Both parties support our imperialist agenda of death. Of course they aren’t going to remind people of the two evil wars we are fighting.
  • National Post: Columnist says “Embrace the hypocrisy,” regarding the U.S. and Canada’s positions on torture. We condemn other countries for it and condone it ourselves. It’s disgusting to see things have come to this. It’s even more disgusting to watch the supposedly anti-torture left roll over and play dead now that Obama is president.
  • MacLean’s: Using the absurd Randy Quaid refugee case to say Canada shouldn’t accept refugee claims from the U.S. Boo! If I thought I could go to Canada and win a refugee hearing on the grounds of my opposition to the warfare state that operates in my name and with my tax dollars, I would. Americans need Canada to be our safety valve of last resort.
  • Der Spiegel: Reporting on child labor in the Uzbek cotton harvest. I know a lot of Uzbeks. Almost everyone of them had a story about being part of cotton-picking student labor gangs. No, people aren’t dying as under military conscription, but sending 11-year-old girls to cotton fields and paying them nine cents for a day’s labor is SICK.
  • The Globe & Mail: Looking back on liberal interventionism, seven years after we invaded Iraq. It’s not looking too good. Of course, this isn’t stopping Michael Ignatieff from trying to run to the interventionist right of Stephen Harper on foreign policy. For Americans, you can think of Ignatieff’s foreign policy as basically identical to Clinton’s, or you could just read this article about it.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: Destroying the Four-Loko witchhunters on the basis of their own stats. Four-Loko, the new caffeinated beer tallboy, actually has less caffeine than coffee, but this isn’t stopping news hacks from claiming it causes heart attacks. I bought 24 of them for our newsroom last week and drank part of one myself. It’s vile sludge, but we’re all still alive. Of course, this didn’t stop Michigan from banning it last Thursday.
  • The Moscow Times: When two governments suck at once. Canada institutes a new visa questionnaire that could require some Russians to reveal national security info they are prohibited from revealing by law. Canada—get rid of your visas. Russia–stop telling your citizens what they are allowed to say.
  • Tyler Cowen, in the NYT: Immigrants create jobs. Suck it, Lou Dobbs.
  • National Post: Reporting on blatant lying used by nanny state health tyrants. I think our food system is messed up. I hate to see people drink soda. Obesity is out of control here. But trying to assert control over people’s right to ingest things into their own bodies is repugnant, especially when it is hatched on the basis of lies.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: Covering Montana, the latest state to cap payday loan interest rates. “Capping interest rates” is just a polite way of saying “Drives out of business.” Payday loan rates are so high because they are for at-risk clients. In addition, no one makes anyone take one out. Damn these politicians and their populist demagoguery.
  • National Post: A math professor at U of Manitoba sues the school over their decision to award a PhD to a guy who failed his comprehensive exams twice, only to have the requirement waived because of his “extreme examination anxiety.” It gets better–he didn’t even take the required courseload. Rock on, Gabor Lukacs, you principled academe!
  • The Globe & Mail: Requesting Canada get rid of its dairy and poultry protectionism. Amen.
  • NYT: The ugly side of Thailand–censorship. If you haven’t already heard of Thailand’s horrifying lese majeste laws, read up now.
  • NYT: How about some good news? Russia’s brave opposition has absorbed the blows and continued their fight and now they have won a bit of breathing room for their protests. Things are still horribly restricted, but these opposition activists are heroes, people who really put their lives on the line for freedom. Wonderful news. Поздравляю вас, Стратегия-31!
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, LA Times: The specifics of San Francisco’s health-fascist Happy Meal ban. Nice job respecting our right to choose, you fascist guttersnipes.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Cops will charge a 72-year-old man who fired his gun at suspected robbers entering his house during a poker game. Turns out it was a SWAT team. What would have happened if a SWAT thug shot an unarmed person inside? Paid administrative leave? A commendation?
  • Via LewRockwell.com blog, WaPo: Federal judge rules to limit the liability of the Washington Metro in a lawsuit over an accident that killed nine people. And people really think a court system in which the referee plays for one of the teams only could ever be a fair court system.
  • The Globe & Mail: Discussing the Harper’s government sick hypocrisy in blocking the foreign takeover of Saskatchewan’s Potash Corp. Harper the guy who wrote his Master’s about free market economics blocked the deal to win some votes in Saskatchewan. This columnist seems to feel bad for him. No. This was unprincipled opportunism of the lowest order.
  • Ross Kenyon at Center for a Stateless Society: Attacking the proposed “Robin Hood tax” on the financial sector from both the left and the right. Great piece.

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WikiLeaks has done it again, this time releasing over 400,000 pages of classified documents on the Iraq War. God bless you, Bradley Manning! Before I get into the new information, let me just say that I loved the Yahoo News headline today wondering why the Sunday morning talk shows essentially ignored the WikiLeaks documents. Is it really a mystery? Those spineless “journalists” are all tools of the American imperialist-security complex. Of course they are going to ignore these documents, they’ve got two wars to perpetuate!

The NYT and Der Spiegel both had preferential access to the documents. I liked the presentation employed by the Times more, sort of bundling big clumps of documents together into related portfolios. The two most interesting bundles were about the treatment of detainees and civilian casualty figures.

The documents on detainees are, unfortunately, almost all about their treatment by other Iraqis. The information is horrifying: torture, death, abuse, etc. The U.S. seems to have done a little wink-wink, nod-nod show most of the time and let the Iraqis “investigate” abuses for themselves. Oh, and the U.S. used the threat of Iraqi detention to intimidate detainees in our custody. This stuffy is horrifying, but it’s not surprising at all. It’s basically a carbon copy of the model the CIA has been employing around the world since whenever extraordinary rendition started. We don’t need to torture people ourselves when we can find all manner of thugs from failed authoritarian states who are unemployable in any career except for violence and who would love to torture fellow humans in places beyond U.S. jurisdiction. If the slaves back home get wind of it and try to do anything, just invoke state secrecy against them and let the courts take over!

The civilian casualties in the report add up to an additional 15,000 deaths. That pushes the Iraq Body Count to somewhere between 98-106,000 civilian deaths. That’s blood on our hands, guys. We didn’t have to fight this war. Saddam was no saint, but even his infamous gassing of the Kurds at Halabja amounted to something like 3000-5000 deaths. Keep our crimes in perspective.

Der Spiegel‘s best reporting was on unfair attacks conducted by Apache helicopters, of which the infamous Collateral Murder video was just the tip of the iceberg, it seems. It’s easy to point your joystick at people trying to surrender and click a button that will eliminate them. It feels just like a video game. Maybe you can even compare your kill stats with your buddies back at the base!

Don’t let the war-loving mainstream media fool you: the WikiLeaks Iraq documents reveal new and damning evidence about our awful war in Iraq. Don’t let the government fool you, either: these documents don’t put anyone in any more danger than our continued ignorance would. The Surge is unraveling. Chaos is returning. We broke Iraq, but sticking around indefinitely isn’t going to help anything. Don’t let the military fool you into thinking our conduct there is justified. End the war now, bring the troops home, and don’t forget to Free Bradley Manning and donate to WikiLeaks.

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It’s been a while! Between a heavier workload at my internship last week and a weekend trip to Canada, I’ve been keeping busy. Enjoy some links and look forward to a few longer posts, hopefully tomorrow.

  • Via Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic: profile of troops in Afghanistan. Pretty unremarkable except for this: “All our family and friends are home right now eating hamburgers and shooting fireworks,” he told me. “And that’s good. I’m happy for them. But they need to understand the price of that freedom.” What price does freedom have, you goon? Destroyed civil liberties? Tons of dead, innocent Iraqis and Afghans? Thousands of maimed and killed Western soldiers? Two horribly stupid wars? Do you really think this is about freedom? Do you really think I asked you to fight for me? People like this buzzcutted-drone need to put down their guns and get a real job for a turn.
  • Via Lew Rockwell, Bloomberg: Transportation parasite secretary Ray LaHood wants to ban cell phones, even the hands free ones, in cars. Can’t you just sit still and leave us alone, you freak? Stop making laws, especially gross federal laws that piss all over any notion of local government this country might still have.
  • Via Radley Balko at Reason, WBTV.com: 11-year-old D.A.R.E. participant brings his parents’ pot to school to rat them out. They now face charges. D.A.R.E. is a sick little brainwashing outfit that exists to create the next generation of drug warriors and encourage Pavlik Morozov-type stories like this one.
  • Via Lew Rockwell, HuffPo: new military memoir says Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright asked a top general to fly a U.S. spy plane low enough and slow enough over Baghdad that it would be shot down and give us a casus belli against Saddam. The general refused out of respect for the pilot’s life…not out of respect for the lives of thousands of other troops and millions of Iraqi civilians. Gross all around. The U.S. military is clearly not up to the moral level of the power it has.
  • National Post: Canada’s Supreme Court rules 5-4 that suspects in Canada do not have Miranda-style rights to an attorney. Yuck. It’s not often that Canada runs to the right of the U.S. Apparently such rights “would not strike the proper balance between the public interest in the investigation of crimes and the suspect’s interest in being left alone.” Hello, slippery slope. So much nastiness here.
  • The AP: CVS gets down on its knees to lick the boots of Leviathan, but not before leaving a check for $75  million in fines on the table. Why? For selling too much pseudoephedrine, an ingredient essential to cough medicine and meth. They shouldn’t have paid. If I work for CVS, I tell the government, “If you want us to restrict the sale of this product, then you pay for the enforcement.” Better yet, just refuse to follow this law.
  • Via Jacob Sullum at Reason, CTV Montreal: Remy Couture pleads not guilty to “moral corruption and distributing obscene material” for uploading some amateur horror films he made to YouTube. It may sound like a joke, but this is dead serious. How does this drivel even end up in court?
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: the teacher cartel and their vote-hungry lackeys in government gang up against the last frontier, uncredentialed teachers for online coursework.  Is there anyone who still thinks licensing isn’t just a way for people with licenses to lock out competition thanks to the intervention of government goons only too happy to have more powers?
  • NYT: British woman held captive by the Taliban was likely killed not by the Talibs but a stray U.S. grenade. The blood on our hands just got a bit stickier. Stop putting our soldiers in these situations and end this horrible war!
  • The Globe & Mail: Interesting article on U.S.-Canadian border security since 9/11. You know how I feel about the bullies at the border. Just check out this article, though, and see how sad it is that wonderful cross-border relationships have been ruined by life-hating securicrats in Ottawa and Washington.
  • Via Nick Gillespie at Reason, Veronique de Rugy: pretty horrifying graphical comparison of job growth under Bush and Obama. Federal employment grew under both. So much for the Republicans being conservative, eh? The big difference is how much private employment fell under both.  All hail the criminals-in-chief.
  • Libertas Post: Mark your calendars for the first-annual free thought and liberty film festival in Ottawa. Did it have to be in Ottawa, the center of Leviathan’s lair?
  • The Globe & Mail: Sarah Palin visits Vancouver and says nothing. Stop paying to see this vile woman speak. “There were very few specifics, however, on what Ms. Palin would cut to reduce government debt.” That’s because there are no specifics. She was a crappy governor and she’d be a still-worse president, the sort of insane fool who welcomes war with Iran and would never cut defense spending. Please just go away.
  • NYT: Meet Xi Jinping, likely China’s president-in-waiting. Remember his face because he, too, will be a butcher who will one day need to be punished.
  • National Post: Canadian activists work to help American war deserters in an increasingly hostile Canada. God bless these people.
  • Glenn Greenwald: Case-by-case comparison of (fireable) offenses against Jewish Americans versus (non-fireable) offenses against Muslim Americans. Food for thought. Quite damning.

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NPR’s Talk of the Nation invited Ted Koppel on to do an op-ed discussion on Monday. I had nothing against Ted Koppel. I thought he was an ok newsman and his NPR commentaries have, at times, been informative. That all changed on Monday when he let loose this pro-draft, pro-war tax op-ed that I consider the most shameful thing I have ever heard on NPR.

Koppel’s main point was that part of the reason the country is sleepwalking through the never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that most people haven’t felt the wars’ impact. We haven’t levied any special sort of war tax and there’s no longer a military draft. The burden of the war is  falling disproportionately on future generations (footing the bill) and military families (burying servicemen).

I can agree with everything about this point; I’ve even blogged about it.

What set me off is that Ted Koppel actually wants to institute a war tax and bring back conscription to get people thinking about the wars and to “share the burden” across society. I love the idea that because the military is sending a lot of soldiers home dead and maimed, we should make sure that more people have an opportunity to go fight an unjust war and come home dead or maimed. If the “burden” involves bodily harm, do you really want to spread it more widely? Beyond the volunteers? But most importantly, we don’t need to sacrifice our rights just to make a point to uninformed people.

Maybe if journalists like Ted Koppel had asked real questions leading up to the war in Iraq, maybe if they had used words like “torture” to describe the torture at Guantanamo Bay, maybe if they hadn’t sat on stories like the infamous WikiLeaks Apache helicopter attack video, maybe if they hadn’t been worthless lackeys of state power, the public wouldn’t have become so uninformed and we would have ended these wars long ago or never even started them. Just an idea.

Advocating for the draft is in a class by itself. I could probably live with a war tax. It’s offensive and it would perpetuate the war if anything, but at least it wouldn’t be killing people or violating fundamental rights. But a draft is gross. A draft is the state telling its citizens that they owe their lives (and by extension, their deaths) to the state with no questions asked.

I don’t know about you guys, but I am not a slave to the state. I did not ask for any war in Iraq or Afghanistan to be fought in my name. I did not sign off on those wars. And if this government ever tried to draft me to fight in our two current immoral wars or any in the future, I wouldn’t even wait so long as to sleep one more night in this country before escaping. No government owns my life.

There were even some callers who wanted to talk about just ending the wars and making these points moot. But just like that White House official who admitted that we are planning to be in Afghanistan for the long-term, Ted Koppel the inside-the-Beltway “serious” man told the audience that he wasn’t there to debate the war. What a shameless cop-out, Ted. If Ted Koppel had been doing an interview, would he have been pleased to accept such a pitiful answer from his interviewee?

So Ted Koppel, I dare you to reinstate the draft. Please, draft me. It will give me exactly the excuse I need to get out of this country.

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Kevin Zeese, Anti-War.com:

While the American empire is an empire in its own special, American way, empires are not new, nor is ending them. E.P. Thompson, an influential British historian who was editor of the New Left Review, wrote about the downfall of Rome and the importance of slave and peasant revolts: “Empires only fall because a sufficient number of people are sufficiently determined to make them fall, whether those people live inside or outside the frontier.”

It is time for those inside the American empire to join together and demand its end: empire undermines the economy, weakens security, increases racial divisions, destroys the rule of law, and creates failed democracies. Isn’t that enough to unite around?

I wish Zeese had been a little bit more careful with his language because it almost sounds like he’s hoping for the downfall of America. He isn’t. He’s hoping for the end of the American Empire, the Constitution-trampling, war-loving monstrosity that bears no resemblance to our principled and free republic. Even putting a desired end of empire in that context will upset many who enjoy the prestige we have around the world, but what price are we willing to pay for prestige? How many dead American teenagers? How many dead Afghans? How many men held without trial and tortured? Most importantly, how might reduced military prestige in fact enhance our moral prestige?

A left-right anti-war coalition is a necessity. The people in the middle of this country’s political spectrum are sleepwalking. They don’t care about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq so long as their taxes don’t go up and an acceptable number of body bags comes home each week. They’ve gone along with these wars since 2001 and they aren’t likely to change now.

So it’s those of us at the extremes that have to get the ball rolling. We are painfully awake and aware of what’s being done in our name. We might reach our opposition to war from different starting points, but our goal of peace is the same. That’s something I’ve realized the more I read socialist and communist media in the U.S. I have very little in common with socialists and communists, but this issue of war and empire is paramount to me at the moment and on it, we agree. It’s the issue more than any other that is making me want to emigrate. If peace means having to hold banners with people in Marx t-shirts, I’m willing to do it and I hope the people in the Marx t-shirts would say the same about me in my Rothbard one.

We’ve got to recapture the vibrancy the anti-war movement had in 2002 and early 2003. Otherwise, absurdities like our “end to combat operations” in Iraq and “reevaluation of Afghanistan policy” will be used to continue these wars forever.

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I hate to do this, but I’m going to just do links for one more night. I’m working hard to finish a magazine internship application due this Friday, so please bear with me.

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