Terrorism

It was a nice break. I didn’t realized how much I’d missed. I take a different view towards the news than most. I don’t rely on mainstream media. In fact, I don’t rely on anything. I listen to the Tom Woods show, which I recommend as the most essential podcast for those who love liberty. And, now I have Jason to listen to, whose show is much more geared towards current events. Besides that, I just let the news come to me.  The news that is really important will find me. Everyone else is wrapped up in the news, and I get some from Jason, but I figure I will hear about it through family or friends or colleagues at work. It’s a strategy that wouldn’t work at all if everyone did it, but it can work for a few people. It’s sort of the reverse strategy of not getting certain immunizations and being protected by the fact that everyone else has been immunized.  The things that are important find their way to my ears, but I’m not subjected to the trivial day to day that is headlined as breaking news.

The thing I want to discuss here is the heretofore-undefined term of terrorism. First, I’m obligated to, and I sincerely do, condemn the violence done at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado.

We have never done a very good job of defining terrorism. Up until the last couple of years, it was pretty easy to tell what it was. It was one of those things that just didn’t need a hard and fast definition, you just knew it when you saw it: hijacking a plane, or blowing up a courthouse. But, shooting 3 people to death?

I had this debate with a friend on Facebook following the shooting at South Carolina church. His view was that it was an act of terrorism, and my view was that it was murder.
The funny thing is how offended he was that I maintained that it was “only” murder. Murder is no small crime; it is still punishable by death in most states. Where capital punishment has been abolished, murder still holds the death penalty.

We are not talking here about a difference in outcomes for the people who commit these atrocities; they will either get the death penalty or not, based on the facts of their individual cases and the disposition of the jury who hears the case. The ramifications come on us as a people and towards our liberties, not immediately, but at some point in the future, I am afraid.

Consider we are fighting a “war on terror” and all those who give them aid and comfort. If you are in a pro-life club and one of the members goes out and shoots up an abortion clinic, does that make your club a terrorist cell? Does that, then, make you a terrorist?

Can you see the difference? If it is a multiple murder, then you and your group are not responsible; he acted alone and you are free to continue expressing yourself through non-violent means. If it is terrorism, I shudder to think what could happen. A dozen more lives may be ruined. This will have a chilling effect of free speech at the very least.

Let’s talk about a few markers of terrorism. Who is terrorism aimed at? All the terrorists attacks I can think of, both here and abroad before 2010 (I can’t remember when people started calling shootings terrorism, but we weren’t doing it before 2010), were aimed at “the powers that be.” There was some sort of message or retaliation. The victim wasn’t merely the people who were killed, but the governing body in some form or fashion. From the 1969 hijacking of YS-11 by the North Koreans to the OKC Bombing, to 9/11.

But motivation, I don’t think is enough. Motivation isn’t necessary to get a conviction in court and it is, in large, part irrelevant.

I put a lot more stock in the methods used and how the attack is carried out. Terrorist attacks are impersonal. When I said that to my friend he was hung up on that; that doesn’t mean that you know the names of the people you kill, but just that you know what people will be killed by your actions. McVeigh and Nichols killed 168 people, but didn’t look a single one of them in the eye. They knew there were nearly a thousand people in that building, but they didn’t know how many would be killed, or which of them would be killed. That is terrorism. It’s a world away from a mass shooting, where even though the shooter is killing as many people as he can, he still takes aim at each individual before pulling the trigger and ending their life.

A terrorist isn’t trying to kill particular individuals, but a shooter is. The shooter chooses who he kills even if his choices are made based on chance, based on who is closest or who is the easier target. A real terrorist just straps a bomb on or flies a plane into a building, not aiming at anyone in particular, but only aiming to kill as many as possible.

By this definition, it may still be possible to make the case that terrorism could be carried out with a firearm, if the individual were to acquire a fully automatic rifle and unload it at random.

But to take aim, is not an act of terrorism. The Planned Parenthood shooter killed three.  At this rate how long will it be until a single murder is defined as an act of terrorism? Do you remember the murder of deputy Goforth in Cypress, Texas back in August? The gunman shot him out of the blue, with no warning and no provocation. The shooting has rattled law enforcement officers and put them on edge around the country. I’m afraid at this rate, an act like that will be considered terrorism very soon.

My point is, so long as there is a global war on terror, being part of a terror cell can single a person out for surveillance and possible indefinite detention at home, and death via drone abroad.

For those of us interested in advancing the cause of liberty, and even for those who might just like to preserve the amount of liberty we have left, we should think real hard about what we call terrorism, and what we might refer to as “mere” murder.

I might also add that we used to have a word for these acts, acts that are not terrorism but are violent beyond the scope of a single murder. May I reintroduce massacre to our vocabulary.

Taking on Mark Levin – November 17th, 2015

This episode is the epitome of why I started this blog, and why I can’t do the same sort of thing for Mark Levin. There are so many problems with Levin. If I were to write a post just on the clips Jason pulled, it would be 4 or 5 pages. We’re talking the constitutionality of the president committing troops to hostile action abroad, to freeing the slaves through civil war.

Jason, on the other hand, rips Levin to shreds. Jason exploded every point Levin made. Except after he was done, there came an almost crippling retort from the other side. Actually, it came at the beginning of the show by way of Tammy, but Levin would have raised it had he and Jason been talking directly. Is this what would the world look like if the libertarians had been in control in 1941? It’s supposed to be this great smack down against libertarian foreign policy.

Jason and Daren got up from that blow and brought the fight back, to even footing with the response, “Hey, look, we’ve been doing it your way for the last 14 years and it hasn’t worked.” Of course, Levin can point to the fact there hasn’t been a major terrorist attack stateside since then, so it seems to be working fine.

Here is the way to land the knock out right after the question is posed. When someone asks, “Well what would the libertarians have done after Pearl Harbor,” is to ask why we should have to take over on December 8th 1941. You can’t play a chess game and ask someone else to take over when you’re two moves away from being checkmated! Let’s suppose that Libertarians had been in power in America in 1916. Had a Ron Paul been elected in 1916, we would have never entered the First World War. The war would have ended sooner. Because the Germans would have either barely won or barely lost. The peace would not have been nearly as harsh. Whether they had won or lost, without the Americans involved, Germany wouldn’t have been saddled with the overwhelming war debt, and more importantly their government wouldn’t have been radically changed. How, exactly, could Hitler have come to power if Germany still had her Kaiser? Of course, one of Hitler’s main complaints, and the way he attracted most of his following, was by railing against the Versailles Treaty. Without the Versailles treaty, and with a Kaiser, the Nazi party would have never come to power.

Not just that, but without fresh blood on the allied side, the war would have ended sooner. Maybe their Czar wouldn’t have been abdicated in Russia. That means the Bolsheviks would never have had the opportunity to take over! That means 60 years of communist rule in Russia and Eastern Europe might have been avoided. Without a socialist Russia, it is highly doubtful either China, Vietnam, or Korea would have turned Communist. Now we are talking about WWII, the Korean, and the Vietnam conflict never happening.

But, what about Japan? Well Japan was on our side in WWI, and won for themselves business rights in the Shandong province of China (a fact that really, really upset the Chinese). But, the Japanese left the Paris peace conference offended! Why? Because they had proposed a clause to be put into the peace treaty, something to the effect that Asians are not inherently inferior to Europeans. This is how we made enemies with Japan and caused them to go over to the German side, and break their Alliance with the British.

Now, I’m not an expert on WWI or the middle east, but it does seem a question might also be raised concerning the impact U.S. involvement in WWI played in the Middle East. I can only hypothesize: had the U.S. not entered the war, the British wouldn’t have been able to devote so many resources and so much man power into attacking the Ottoman empire in present day Iraq. Might the sick man of Europe been able to recover after WWI? The fermentation of resentment of Arabs towards the west might have been shut off at the beginning had the U.S. not gotten involved in WWI. Maybe we would have never installed puppet rulers in the Middle East, maybe the world could have gone on as it had before.

Don’t come to me and tell me I have to take over on Dec 8th 1941! That’s ridiculous! I want to take over in 1916. By December 8th the mess has already been made.

However, we’re not good Misessians if we don’t take the hardest road. Nevertheless, it should also be fair. How about Jan 20th 1941. That was when FDR was sworn in for his 3rd term. It could have been a Libertarian. So now, there’s war in Europe and we have nearly a year before the attack. Well, the first thing is the most obvious: move the Pacific fleet back to San Diego where it was before the war broke out! Moving your fleet 1/2 way across the Ocean towards a country in the midst of a war seems to be a pretty good way of getting into a war. If the fleet had been in San Diego, it is much less likely they would have been attacked. Secondly, stop encroaching into Japanese waters. It makes it look like you want a fight. Third, don’t shut off their oil supply. I don’t fully recall the details, but the U.S. was instrumental in shutting down the supply of oil going to Japan from the Dutch East Indies. Fourth, don’t freeze Japanese assets held in the United States.

Neutrals in war shouldn’t do these things. You can’t move your fleet half way across an ocean towards another country when they are in the middle of a war. Not while, at the same time, you’re sending war ships into their waters, freezing their assets and shutting off their oil.

Frankly speaking, the administration was only surprised that Pearl Harbor was attacked at 7:48 AM on Sunday December 7th. They knew it was coming sooner or later. Beginning in January of 1941 there was still enough time to maintain the peace, avoid war with Japan, and let the Communist Russia and Nazi Germany wear each other down to a nub. Why wouldn’t Levin want this? Who’s worse than Nazis and Communists.

In truth, France and the U.K. shouldn’t have gotten into WWII, but I think that’s enough for now. Sadly most people are bored by history, and that boredom turns to torture when the history isn’t their own.

Right now, we are living with problems created 100 years ago. We can stop and start to clean up that mess, or we can ignore it and continue to create problems for our children and grandchildren.

I must say I loved Jason’s analogy of neo-cons and war as compared to democrats and fiscal irresponsibility. It’s brilliant.

Take care, and listen to Jason, not Mark Levin.

If you want to know more about what happened leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor here are a few recommendations:

For more on the specifics of Pearl Harbor: http://www.amazon.com/Day-Deceit-Truth-About-Harbor/dp/0743201299/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1447844098&sr=8-12&keywords=pearl+harbor+books

For wars in general, this is a must read. It is amazing how the same raw data can be included in so many histories, but the context remains missing. It’s as if they are children sounding out words which they have no understanding of the definition. Denson does a great job on the major wars between 1861 and 1945: http://store.mises.org/Century-of-War-Digital-Book-P10492.aspx

Or in print at: http://store.mises.org/Century-of-War-A–P152.aspx

 

Paris – November 16th, 2015

For starters, I should say there may not be a post every single day for two reasons. One, it isn’t always warranted. Two, I’m not a teenager living in my parents basement. I work 12-hour shifts, sometimes more than 80 hours in a week. I manage rental property on the side, and raise cattle. On top of that, I have a wife, a 3-year-old son and a 7-month-old daughter.

So, I hope you won’t hold it against me if I make a post each day just for the sake of giving Jason praise, or picking on minor flaws or inconsistencies.

With all that being said, I will make a comment regarding today’s post and Jason’s overall perspective. It kinda bothered me the way he spoke about the way war should be done, and, I think he is wrong to a degree. Perhaps if we actually had an enemy army dividing the country in half, controlling the Mississippi River, occupying New Orleans, and half of Tennessee, then yeah, lets bomb the hell out of the cities from whence these invaders come.

Short of that though, I’m not ready to invest in such a blood fury. I think that is Jason’s position. I was really turned off when I heard Jason talk about how war should be done. This was way before I decided to dedicate a blog to his show. I’ll tell you, when I heard him say, “That when you’re in a war for your own liberty, for your own survival, you bomb their cities until there is nothing left but ruble, then you bomb the ruble until there’s nothing left but sand, and then you bomb the sand until it turns into glass.” Hearing that sent shivers down my spine. I had to listen to it again to make sure I understood it was in context. Today’s episode brought that context a little more into context. It is, in a sense, as if he is playing devil’s advocate when it comes to war.

He is making the arguments that John McCain and Lindsey Graham should be making if they had the courage to accept their own premises and follow their arguments out to their logical conclusions.  However, the premise is where everything goes wrong. ISIS doesn’t threaten America. We weren’t threatened by Al Qaeda, or by the Taliban.

I think Jason knows the idea of bombing cities and slaughtering innocent women and children is unconscionable, and unthinkable.  Yet he contemplates it. He went so far as to say today that his, “black heart desires it.” Thank God it is his black heart and not his justified wrath. It is in this way I think Jason really makes an effective reach to the neo-cons.

It is a dark heart; it is the most basic, primal, even debased human proportion that calls for these atrocities. The truth is, I remember holding the same view, except not as a devil’s advocate. I remember turning in a paper in college about this, and this was back when I was a full-blown Neo-Con. My thesis was that if we’re not willing to utterly destroy these countries we were waging war with, we shouldn’t even be over there. Of course, we shouldn’t utterly destroy them, and we shouldn’t be over there. I remember the professor looking at me like I was a psycho-path when I affirmed her understanding of the paper.

See, the logic of it is sound. It is really the right way to do war. Maybe not at the outset, but there may come a point when it becomes necessary. However, the real issue with it, is that we are discussing it when it’s not necessary. It’s like discussing a scenario where libertarians are locked into concentration camps. Your wife and 3 children are there, and the operators of the camp come to you and your wife and explain that they will have to execute one of your three children and it is up to you to decide which one, or else all 3 be executed. To right now, in a free America, in your own home, in safety to be discussing which of your three children… Or, in another sense, which of your two children you would save, is sick! Maybe one day circumstances might come to that, and that may be something to think about. But, if you’re thinking about it now, before you’ve even set foot into a ghetto, much less a concentration camp, you have major issues.

That is the same way I still see Jason’s talk of bombing cities. Yes, one day it might come to that, but the fact that we are discussing it is highly disturbing.

On the other hand, it does seems he is making a devil’s advocate position. So, maybe that makes it okay, that he is trying to shock the McCain fans back into reality.

This is one of the most difficult topics for libertarians to deal with, especially for Minarchists. For the Anarchist life is much simpler. Wars don’t occur except between states. In a stateless world, there would be problems, yes, but no wars. Violence, yes, but no wars.

That’s all I have for today. I’ll be on night shift for the next 7-10 days so my posts will be almost a full 24 hours following the show. I wish I could do better, but time constraints just won’t allow it.

Have fun, share the show, and share this blog.

 

A Libertarian Party & More On Strategy

So, it’s great Rand Paul might have finally found himself. I’m still confused over the 14% flat tax. Why not adopt his dad’s plan of abolishing the income tax! See, it isn’t entirely all about how much money is taxed, but how it is taxed.

This is where I’m not so much writing for the Anarchists, but to Jason and to the minarchists. Government is a necessary evil: check. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that, or “Government is evil,” and now everyone is on board. Taxes are bad. Taxes are expropriation. That is, in less technical terms, theft. It makes a difference how you are stolen from. It’s one thing to wake up in the morning and find out your car was stolen out of your driveway, it’s a whole ‘nother thing to be car jacked on your way home. Essentially, this is the same difference between an income tax and a tariff. With a tariff, your money is paid into the price of goods that come from overseas and into the artificially high prices of competing American companies. But, that’s a passive tax, one that you don’t even notice unless it becomes too high.

The income tax is more like being car jacked. You are stopped, and you actually have to stop to do your taxes, report how much money you made, how much you spend on interest on your home mortgage, how much you spent on feed and vet bills, and how much you give to charity, and all the details about your family. You know I bet when you think about it, you would rather be car jacked once a year than go through with filing your own taxes.

The income tax is a direct tax, and it is the most wicked type of tax there is. Those who fought for our independence from Britain railed against direct taxation. Frank Chodorov singled it out for attack in the 1950’s and Ron Paul wanted to abolish it, and replace it with nothing.

Why, then, am I being told that 14% is something I should cheer for? Here is the thing with strategy: Yes I get more freedom if my tax burden is reduced to an effective 7%, but, if that’s the case, what are the prospects people will be interested in abolishing an income tax that is so low? If it is that good, will we be able to get improvement somewhere down the road? Besides that, why is 14% our starting point? Why not 6%? Watch me plead with my potential overlord. “Please, Mr. Paul, can we please keep an extra 8% of what I earn?”  Whereas his Dad saw the income tax for what it is; he was principled and he wanted to destroy it!

What was the other topic yesterday? Ah, the banking system was one… I think Jason misspoke here and there when trying to explain the reserve requirements. I think Jason Stapleton is about the only libertarian I’ve ever heard speak about banking and money and not recommend a few books. So, I’ll do that here: From Rothbard we have The Mystery of Banking and The Case Against the Fed . That’s probably the very best place to go to get started on the banking system and the central bank.

Lastly, Jason argued we shouldn’t have a 3rd party, that it’s a bad idea. Well, I think that’s probably true for him. But, somebody’s got to do it. What we are in is a war of ideas. There are all different types of actors on the field. It would definitely be a bad idea if everyone on the battlefield were an archer, or if everyone were operating a trebuchet. It wouldn’t even be good if half did that, and if half of us were archers. We need men on the line; we need Calvary. That’s how we win a battle (at least before gunpowder was brought to Europe).

What I’m getting at is there are those who make subtle comments and suggestions. There are Big Guns like Tom Woods and Bob Murphy, and there are different types of arguments. Some are softer or Socratic and with varying degrees of abrasiveness.  I’ve won people over using all of the above.  One of the most memorable was when I crashed a tea party in 2010. They had an open mic, and I got up and spoke. The things I said…. Oh it was something. I was actually shut down, and asked to leave (it was a very small gathering), and I knew one family there who was in that neo-con mind set. I stayed in touch with them and sent them books a few months later for Christmas. Then sent them more books the next year for Christmas, and you know, now they are some of the most activist folks for the ideas of liberty.

It isn’t good for everyone to be in the libertarian party, or for everybody to do this or that, but it is definitely good that someone do it.

Libertarians & Marines – November 10th, 2015

I thought I should go ahead and make an entry for yesterday’s show, lest folks think I just haven’t gotten to it and keep waiting. Yesterday’s show isn’t the ideal type show of why the blog was set up. Nothing very controversial within libertarian circles. I wish I could recommend a concise book dealing with the history of the mortgage loan industry, but it can be found in many different places, not one I know of has that as its main subject.

Since you should read Meltdown anyway, maybe start there. I think he touches on a little bit of the history of home loans.

It really is too bad there are people out there, especially ”in” the libertarian movement, that would make personal attacks against Jason. In my view, the whole thing is about ideas. It’s about engaging ideas, putting them up against one another, seeing what ideas are compatible and which ones are not. And, if not, which ones are stronger. Personalities and people really don’t factor in.

I’ll make a comment about the whole Marine intro, since I can anticipate he’ll catch some flak for that. Maybe he should have a little more of a disclaimer to his whole Marine talk. In general, the Marines is no place for a libertarian. Now, the fact that he served, the fact that I enlisted in the Guard, that isn’t sufficient grounds for condemnation. The question has to be asked, “What did you know and when did you know it?” Fair enough – if you’d been exposed to the non-aggression axiom, and read a few books, like “Century of War” or anti-war.com for a while, and then signed up for service – I think there might be a problem.

Just about everyone who enlists thinks they are doing it for God and Country, for home and freedom. How can you condemn someone for that? I wasn’t quite that naive when I enlisted. I had already started down my road to libertarianism. I didn’t like the federal government, but thought it might be beneficial to get a little training and know a thing or two, because you never know when that sort of knowledge might come in handy.

So, the next question is, “Why?” I have met men who enlisted to kill Muslims. That’s condemnable! And, I’ve met men who do it because they needed a job. I don’t particularly like that, but when a guy says he enlisted to keep America free, I cannot condemn him. I pity him and see in him an ally, who would put his life on the line for Liberty. Now I just have to show him what liberty is.

A great many in the libertarian movement need to do some deep thinking about how they approach soldiers and veterans. No doubt there are some disgusting individuals out there, but one of the overarching principles of our ideas is that we uphold individualism. We don’t lump thousands together in groups and treat them all the same, that is the notion of collectivism. There are almost as many reasons to enlist as there are enlisted men. You have to take time to connect to them, and hear their story before you make a judgement. I think the armed forces is a great place to find folks who are ready to hear about our ideas, but it needs to be done tactfully.

I won’t labor the point too much here, because it’s something I see come up more and more often, so I’m sure we’ll cover it later.  And, I’ve got to get to work.