Reason.TV celebrates the (lack of) personalities, the scandals, and the screw-ups that made us all want to forget the first 10 years of the 21st century.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
From Texas Congressman Ron Paul:
Who Wants War?
If anyone still doubted that this administration’s foreign policy would bring any kind of change, this week’s debate on Afghanistan should remove all doubt. The President’s stated justifications for sending more troops to Afghanistan and escalating war amount to little more than recycling all the false reasons we began the conflict. It is so discouraging to see this coming from our new leadership, when the people were hoping for peace. New polls show that 49 percent of the people favor minding our own business on the world stage, up from 30 percent in 2002. Perpetual war is not solving anything. Indeed continually seeking out monsters to destroy abroad only threatens our security here at home as international resentment against us builds. The people understand this and are becoming increasingly frustrated at not being heard by the decision-makers. The leaders say some things the people want to hear, but change never comes.
One has to ask, if the people who elected these leaders so obviously do not want these wars, who does? Eisenhower warned of the increasing power and influence of the military industrial complex and it seems his worst fears have come true. He believed in a strong national defense, as do I, but warned that the building up of permanent military and weapons industries could prove dangerous if their influence got out of hand. After all, if you make your money on war, peace does you no good. With trillions of dollars at stake, there is tremendous incentive to keep the decision makers fearful of every threat in the world, real or imagined, present or future, no matter how ridiculous and far-fetched. The Bush Doctrine demonstrates how very successful the war lobby was philosophically with the last administration. And they are succeeding just as well with this one, in spite of having the so-called “peace candidate” in office.
We now find ourselves in another foreign policy quagmire with little hope of victory, and not even a definition of victory. Eisenhower said that only an alert and informed electorate could keep these war racketeering pressures at bay. He was right, and the key is for the people to ensure that their elected leaders follow the Constitution. The Constitution requires a declaration of war by Congress in order to legitimately go to war. Bypassing this critical step makes it far too easy to waste resources on nebulous and never-ending conflicts. Without clear goals, the conflicts last forever and drain the country of blood and treasure. The drafters of the Constitution gave Congress the power to declare war precisely because they feared allowing the executive unfettered discretion in military affairs. They understood that making it easy for leaders to wage foreign wars would threaten domestic liberties.
Responses to attacks on our soil should be swift and brief. Wars we fight should always be defensive, clearly defined and Constitutional. The Bush Doctrine of targeting potential enemies before they do anything to us is dangerously vague and easily abused. There is nothing left to win in Afghanistan and everything to lose. Today’s military actions are yet another futile exercise in nation building and have nothing to do with our nation’s security, or with 9/11. Most experts agree that Bin Laden and anyone remotely connected to 9/11 left Afghanistan long ago, but our troops remain. The pressures of the war racketeers need to be put in check before we are brought to our knees by them. Unfortunately, it will require a mighty effort by the people to get the leadership to finally listen.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Many advocates of health-care reform are admirers of Canada's state-run, no-opt-out, single-payer system. Indeed, in 2003, President Barack Obama voiced enthusiasm for such a health-care program.
Proponents of Canadian-style health care should meet Cheryl Baxter, a Canadian citizen who waited years for hip-replacement surgery, only to be told that her operation would not happen any time soon. Instead of waiting, Baxter did what an increasing number of Canadians are doing: She flew to a clinic in the United States, paid out of pocket, and had a life-altering surgery in a matter of weeks rather than years.
Baxter's experience doesn't just throw damning light on Canadian health care. The sort of clinic she went to in Oklahoma suggests a different way of delivering health care in the United States, too: A simple fee-for-service model in which providers openly advertise their prices, service, and reputation. Rather than a frustrating, complicated mess of intermediaries such as employers and insurance companies, U.S. health-care reformers should think about bringing medicine into line with the same dynamics that help deliver great service at great prices throughout most other parts of the economy.
While Canadian health care is certainly cheaper than its U.S. counterpart (health care spending in Canada is about 10 percent of GDP versus 16 percent in the United States), it is not necessarily better or more equitable. As a recent National Bureau of Economic Research comparison concluded, "Americans are more likely to report that they are fully satisfied with the health services they have received and to rank the quality of care as excellent." Not only do Americans have far greater access to basic diagnostic tools ranging from mammograms to CT scans, the researchers found "the health-income gradient is actually more prominent in Canada than in the U.S." That is, wealthy Canadians receive far better care compared to low-income Canadians than rich Americans versus poor Americans.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Jack Hunter comments on the dangers of "expert consensus." He compares the so called global warming crisis to the coming ice age back in the 70's and expert consensus on "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq.
Monday, December 7, 2009
An analysis of how the left was diverted from opposing wars and the police state by the global warming hokum. From Lew Rockwell:
The Left Fell into the Climate Morass
It might take a while to sink in, but the global warming cause is on the skids. Two issues are taking the whole project down: it is getting cooler not warmer (and hence the change of the rhetoric to a vague concern over "climate change"), and the email scandal of a few weeks back proved that this really is an opinion cartel with preset views not driven by science.
Oh sure, people are saying that climategate is not really very serious and is only being exploited by Fox News and the like. And it's true that not all measures of global temperature show cooling and that the science can be complex.
On that basis, the New York Times urges us to ignore the outpouring. "It is also important not to let one set of purloined e-mail messages undermine the science and the clear case for action, in Washington and in Copenhagen."
Yes, a clear case. Come on. The whole political agenda of these people is now being seriously questioned. It is no longer a slam-dunk case that we are going to have world central planning in order to control the climate and protect the holy earth from the effects of industrialization. Oh, and tax us good and hard in the process.
But you know what is most tragic to me about this? This whole hysteria led to a fantastic diversion of energy on the left side of the political spectrum. Instead of working against war and the police state, issues on which the left tends to be pretty good, instincts were diverted to the preposterous cause of creating a statist system for global thermometer management.
The effort to whip everyone up into a frenzy over this began more than ten years ago. Every lefty fundraising letter harped on the issue, and demanded people commit their lives to it, explaining that if mother earth dies, then all is lost. It is a more important issue than all the rest, the litmus test to determine whether you are a friend or an enemy.
This made it very difficult for libertarians to cooperate with the left over the last years. Sure, there are some libertarian ideas for dealing with pollution, but none as compelling as central planning, and there was never any way that we would go along with that idea. The costs associated with dismantling industrial civilization outweigh even the worst-case global-warming scenario.
And methodologically, the whole thing was always nuts. If we can't determine cause and effect now with certainty, how in the heck will we be able to determine it after the world state controls our carbon emissions, and impoverishes us in the process? No one will ever be in a position to say whether the policy worked or failed. That is not a good basis for enacting legislation.
Meanwhile, the left threw everything it had into this hysteria. Protests, letters, billions in spending, frenzy, moral passion, mania, witch hunts – you name it. You would swear that climate change was the issue of the millennium for these people.
Meanwhile, the police state has made unbelievable advances in the last ten years. We all live today in fear of the state's "security" apparatus. Airports have become living chapters in a dystopian novel. The local police treat us like potential terrorists. Crossing the US border is becoming reminiscent of East Germany. You can't go anywhere without your papers.
And where has the left been while the whole world is being Nazified? Worrying about my barbecue grill out back.
Then there is the war issue. The scary George Bush started war after war and kept them going to bolster his own power and prestige, creating as many enemies as possible through provocations and making up enemies if he had to. He funded a bubble that wrecked the economy and destroyed country after country in the name of justice and peace.
And what followed Bush? A president who repudiated this ghastly legacy? No, Obama is a supporter of the same wars and continues them, even ramps them up. Does the left consider him a bad guy? Not really. With a handful of exceptions, his critics on the left are friendly critics. They are glad to put up with this because he is willing to do their bidding on the climate change front.
You think Democrat politicians don't exploit this? They surely do. In this sense, the climate issue is much like the pro-life cause on the right. If a politician pushes the correct buttons, it doesn't matter what else they say or do. They are no longer looked at with a critical eye.
The American left has long forgotten its roots. As Arthur Ekirch has explained, the left sold its soul to the state with the New Deal. Whereas it once opposed regimentation and industrial management of society, it turned to support exactly that. War was the next issue to go. The New Left in the 1960s held out the hope of capturing some of that early love of liberty on the left, even the anarchist impulse, but the New Left didn't last long. It was eventually swallowed up by machine politics.
The left today that supports world government to stop climate change bears little resemblance to the left of 100 years ago, which favored civil liberties and social liberality and was willing to do anything to end war. Now it has diverted its energies to a preposterously unworkable scheme based on pseudo-science. This is a terrible tragedy.
The left still has much to contribute to American public life. It can oppose the police state and the militarization of society. It can favor human liberty in most every area of life, even if it hasn't made its peace with the free market. Most of all, it can oppose American imperialism. But before it recaptures the spirit of its youth, it has to get rid of the preposterous idea that it should support the total state to manage what every generation has always known is unmanageable.
Copyright © 2009 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The trailer for the movie "The War on Kids" . From the movie's website:
Blame for problems with schooling in America is often assigned to insufficient funding or the inherent failings of today’s kids. In rare cases, parents, teachers, and administrators are also implicated. However, all efforts to improve the quality of education are doomed to fail if the system itself is not examined and understood to be the most significant impediment. After over six years in the making, THE WAR ON KIDS reveals that the problems with public education ultimately stem from the institution itself. Astonishingly all efforts at reform consistently avoid even considering this to be a possibility and the future for children and American democracy are at stake.
In 95 minutes, THE WAR ON KIDS exposes the many ways the public school system has failed children and our future by robbing students of all freedoms due largely to irrational fears. Children are subjected to endure prison-like security, arbitrary punishments, and pharmacological abuse through the forced prescription of dangerous drugs. Even with these measures, schools not only fail to educate students, but the drive to teach has become secondary to the need to control children.
THE WAR ON KIDS begins with the history of “Zero Tolerance” policy. In the 1990s, almost all schools began instituting guidelines that were originally designed to keep weapons and drugs off campus. Very quickly, school officials began to arbitrarily decide what should be considered a weapon and what should be considered a drug. Hundreds of situations followed where children were (and continue to be) suspended or expelled for possessing food knives, nail clippers, key chains, chicken strips, aspirin, and candy. Kindergartners were even suspended for playing cops and robbers and using their fingers as guns. Under the guise of Zero Tolerance, administrators have been able to wield tremendous power without the burden of responsibility and this authority continues to be increasingly abused. Students invariably feel despondent and fearful in the Kafka-esque state that has been created.
The film reveals that students’ civil rights have been virtually obliterated. They can be searched, drug-tested, denied the right to express themselves verbally and in print, as well as be physically punished without due process. They are routinely deprived of protection from self-incrimination and in some circumstances can even be strip searched without the consultation of parents. Courts typically uphold the rights of schools to behave in whatever manner they deem appropriate where children’s rights are involved.
Ultimately schools now look astonishingly like prisons in their structure and operation and the film shows that it is hard to tell them apart. A side by side comparison in the form of a tour displays the apparent inferiority of the average public school with regards to prison in terms of its resources and upkeep. Most disturbing of all, the school environment is clearly much more oppressive and dreary.
Schools have become obsessed with security and THE WAR ON KIDS shows how none of the profoundly invasive measures are effective. Security cameras were present at Columbine High School, for example, and did nothing to mitigate the massacre. From the students interviewed in the film, it is clear that cameras are unwelcome and breed paranoia and fear and may actually contribute to creating a hostile environment. Locker searches and metal detectors have been shown to be ineffective and contribute to creating an oppressive environment.
Police footage is shown from a 2003 SWAT team raid on Stratford High School high school students in Goose Creek, SC when the principal suspected illegal drug activity. In spite of the aggressive search involving guns and dogs, no drugs were found. The raid highlights the persistent scrutiny that students are under and the complete lack of boundaries that exist when children are involved.
Beyond physical intimidation, psychiatric abuse in schools is also rampant. Experts are interviewed about the epidemic of ADD and similar diagnoses. The preponderance of evidence is stunning and implicates drug companies in blatantly nefarious activities. Ritalin and other pharmaceuticals that are being heavily prescribed to children are not only physically harmful with lifelong consequences, but can and do lead to murder and suicide. What is presented as treatment is more dangerous and debilitating than the condition it is supposed to cure. In addition, the condition itself is clearly dubious, and the kids getting treated are often the ones who question teachers and authority. Invariably, these kids are drugged into submission.
THE WAR ON KIDS shows how schools are authoritarian institutions that by their nature cannot be reformed. Children are subjected to the most invasive forms of control and are deprived of the most basic and fundamental human rights that are afforded even to prisoners of war. The net effect is chilling not just for the kids who are subjected to these extreme forms of control, but also for American society’s future as a generation grows up with no first hand experience or understanding of civil rights in a democracy.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky gives his statement at the Senate Banking Committee explaining why he will oppose the nomination of Helicopter Ben Bernanke to serve a second term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Bunning reviews how Bernanke and his predecessor Alan Greenspan destroyed the economy with their policy of easy money and bailing out their friends on Wall Street.