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The media pundits are shocked! The politicians are slack-jawed. What can we do? Our financial system is in tatters! We’re in a housing crisis, a recession, or a depression, depending on which term you prefer. Credit has dried up for all but the squeaky cleanest of borrowers! How could this be possible? After all, here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. we have this wonderful institution called the Federal Reserve that’s supposed to keep the financial system safe from all of those power mad, greedy capitalists who supposedly ruin the good times for everyone. Well, the whole mess can be summed up with two words: credit expansion.

From USAGold.com we see this statement concerning the central banks actions in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks : “The Fed moved aggressively to supply credit and lower interest rates in an effort to resurrect the markets and keep the economy out of recession.”

And from NPR: “Federal Reserve officials kept interest rates artificially low after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that helped create the housing bubble.”

Even CNBC’s ranting establishment money man, Jim Cramer had harsh words for the Fed when he railed that, “The Federal Reserve created the stock bubble with low margin rates and it created the housing bubble with low mortgage rates, yet I never hear about anyone talking about investigating the Fed,”

And from Robert P. Murphy and Lee Hoskins on Forbes.com: “A good portion of the housing mess itself is the result of Fed policy: In response to the 2000-2001 recession, chairman Alan Greenspan brought the federal funds rate down to a shocking 1% by June 2003, then held it there for a full year.”

Those are just a few comments. However, they illustrate the dangers that are involved when the Fed slashes interest rates below the normal market level in an effort to expand credit and lead people to believe that prosperity can be created out of thin air. The Austrian economists, however, recognized the dangers of reckless credit expansion many years ago. Here a few comments from Ludwig von Mises on this subject. They are all taken from his book Human Action , which was published in 1949.

“The essence of a credit-expansion boom is not overinvestment, but investment in wrong lines, i.e., malinvestment.”

“What is needed for a sound expansion of production is additional capital goods, not money or fiduciary media. The credit boom is built on the sands of banknotes and deposits. It must collapse.”

“If the credit expansion is not stopped in time, the boom turns into the crack-up boom; the flight into real values begins, and the whole monetary system founders.”

“The final outcome of the credit expansion is general impoverishment.”

“Credit expansion is the governments’ foremost tool in their struggle against the market economy. In their hands it is the magic wand designed to conjure away the scarcity of capital goods, to lower the rate of interest or to abolish it altogether, to finance lavish government spending, to expropriate the capitalists, to contrive everlasting booms, and to make everybody prosperous.”

These quotations, and many others on various topics and issues are compiled in The Quotable Mises, edited by Mark Thornton.

Unlike most people I know, I have the utmost respect for the principled non-voter. The so called “right” to vote that most lovers of democracy cherish is not a mandate. Yet that is exactly what the “you HAVE to vote” crowd makes it out to be. Every single one of us also has a right to NOT vote. I have stated many times before in discussions with various friends and acquaintances that if there is not a candidate on the ticket for whom I would TRULY like to vote, then I will abstain from voting. I do not believe this shows apathy, as one of my friends has claimed. It shows dissatisfaction with the candidates. And as far as write in votes go, does anyone really believe write in votes would be accurately tallied, if they would be counted at all? For all of those lovers of the democratic process, I have a few questions for you. Have you forgotten Florida in 2000 already? Have you forgotten Ohio in 2004. Have you forgotten all of the troubles with those voting machines?

Ironically, most of the people I talk to who are so adamant about voting in every election are Democrats.  This comes, of course, after two of “their” guys lost their attempts to become president in the past eight years largely because of the corruption involved in the counting of votes. And yet the liberals remain stalwart supporters of the system. It’s mind boggling!

For more reasons why non-voters should not be castigated by the “vote or shut up” people, here is an archive chock full of articles on this subject at LewRockwell.com

Wow! It’s been over four months since my last blog post! My, how time flies when I’m thoroughly disgusted with politics! And that just about sums it up for me. I’m disgusted.

It was just over one year ago when I attended a rally for erstwhile Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul here in Pittsburgh. As the year passed I watched the “news” and the “debates,” and came to this conclusion: everything about the American political system as it is now construed is a farce.

Why do I say it’s a farce? Well, let’s just start with the blatant violation of the Constitution by nearly all politicians. Now, maybe I’m missing something here but, it is supposed to be the law of the land, is it not? It is supposed to protect us, the people, against the depredations of government, right? Well, unfortunately, most politicians simply regard it as “just a piece of paper.” And while there are numerous abuses of that document that could be noted, I’ll just mention  the one I consider to be the most egregious. It’s pretty simple, really. According to the Constitution  the power to declare war is given to Congress. However, since the Korean War, yes for longer than half a century,  the president, regardless of his party affiliation, regardless of any popular outcry against going to war from the American people, has been given the authority to bomb anyone, anywhere, at any time, WITHOUT a congressional declaration of war. Congress has shirked its Constitutional responsibility, and the president is now EXPECTED to be the final arbiter in all matters of war. And what do we hear from the mainstream media about this illegal  congressional transfer and presidential usurpation of power?

Zilch.

Call it the liberal media or the conservative media. The truth is that it is the Statist media.

Even more farcical is the fact that our central bank, the Federal Reserve, receives virtually no blame for the calamitous financial situation that exists in America today. Never mind the fact that the dollar has lost 96% of its value since the Fed was created in 1913. Never mind the fact that there exists virtually no oversight of the Fed. Never mind the fact that the housing bubble never would have been “inflated” had it not been for the Fed’s artificial lowering of interest rates to ridiculous levels. Never mind the fact that the United States would not have entered into so many preposterous wars over the last several decades had it not been for the Fed’s relentless dollar creation. Don’t pay attention to any of these facts. Just listen to the blabbering airheads on CNN and Fox News, and their State Department correspondents, Defense Department correspondents, and White House correspondents. Then sleep well knowing that you are receiving the “inside scoop” from all of these wonderful “journalists” who allow us to share in their privileged access to the inner workings of the American body politic. As if they’d even be granted their “privileged access” if they actually reported the truth.

And so here we are on the eve of another presidential election. On the left we have Barack “guns and butter” Obama. On the right we have John “bombs and…well, more bombs” McCain. You call this a choice?! I’d rather see the presidency completely vacated than have either of these two frauds occupying it.

Barack Obama is not about “change.” Sorry to disappoint people but, if he really intended to change anything about the American political system he would have never made it this far in the campaign. If he truly intended to “change” Washington, the media would have paid very little attention to him. Just think about that for a second. When has the mainstream media ever glorified a candidate who truly represented a dramatic change from mainstream American politics? The bottom line is that Obama is just another politician who is willing to say anything to get elected.

As for John McCain, well, I just get the feeling that the man is desperate to be president before he shuffles off this mortal coil. Forget all of this “maverick” nonsense. The man is clueless. Oh, and he never met a war he didn’t like, so I guess that’s a plus when you’re running for President of the American Empire.

As for me, well, I think I’m going to get one of those bumper stickers that reads: “Don’t blame me. I didn’t vote!”

Sometimes the hypocrisy emanating from the mouths of politicians is so brazen, that it’s nigh on impossible to keep a straight face after hearing it.

By now, everyone knows about the trials and tribulations of the poor Olympic torch. In city after city, its presence has been met with protests and condemnations of the 2008 Summer Olympics host country, China.

China’s human rights violations have been cited by newscasters and politicians aplenty as reasons why President Bush should boycott the opening ceremonies of the games. Protesters are also demanding that Tibet be freed from Chinese government control.

Funny but, I haven’t seen any massive demonstrations to condemn the American government’s mass slaughter of innocent Iraqis that’s been happening every day since March of 2003. And where’s the outrage over the American government’s support for the murderous sanctions against Iraq throughout the 1990’s? And while we’re on the subject, what about the American government’s indiscriminant killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese in 1945, with atomic bombs, no less?

Of course, when the government of the United States violates human rights around the world it is necessary to “protect our freedoms.” Only communist and “islamofascist” countries are interested in global military hegemony. And only those sinister nations would employ any barbaric means to achieve those ends. Only they would stoop so low as to engage in the wanton annihilation of innocents simply to arrogate more power for themselves. For we must remember that our enemies are irrational. They just don’t think “right,” like we do. They’re crazy. They have no respect for human life. They practice evil religions and speak weird languages. We just can’t trust them. So, in order to preserve our freedom we must eliminate them before they destroy us. Because they really do want to wipe us off the map! Really, they do!

At least that’s what we’re supposed to believe. Now back to the China situation.

On Wednesday, Congress overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for China to end its crackdown on Tibet. As an aside, I’d like to mention that Ron Paul, Dr. No himself, cast the only vote against this resolution. And it’s not because he favors the Chinese crackdown on Tibet. Simply put, the Constitution does not give Congress the authority to pass resolutions condemning the governments of foreign countries .

Now, returning to those members of Congress for whom the Constitution apparently means nothing, I found this statement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be rather interesting:

“It is long past time for Beijing to reassess its failed policy to attack and demonize the Dalai Lama, and show the world it can have civilized discussions as a responsible world power.”

Is it just me, or is there something terribly hypocritical about that type of statement coming from a high ranking member of the United States government? Actually, with a few simple word changes that statement would apply perfectly to the United States government’s policy toward Iran since the late 1970’s. How about this?

“It is long past time for Washington D.C. to reassess its failed policy to attack and demonize Iran, and show the world it can have civilized discussions as a responsible world power.”

Talk about a perfect fit!

Ex-professional wrestler and ex-governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, appeared on the Larry King Live show on CNN last week. He appeared just yesterday with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room, also on CNN. Ventura is not one to mince his words when it comes to the current state of American politics. His opinions will certainly not find favor between the ears of any well behaved establishmentarian.

To put it mildly, let’s just say that the man who used to go by the nickname “the body” offered a scathing indictment of the entire body of American politics. I have to admit that most of what he said was like sweet music to my ears. He slammed the “two party dictatorship ” of the Democrats and the Republicans. He actually said that he would like to see political parties disappear altogether, as a matter of fact! And all I can say to that one is AMEN! I love his description of the two major parties:

“You know, as I would get in trouble with before, I used to call them the Democrips and the Rebloodlicans. They’re the same as the street gangs, only these guys wear Brooks Brothers suits.”

Ventura even mentioned the enormous debt that’s been racked up by our government since Nixon dealt the final blow to the gold standard! Oh no! Not the gold standard! Could it be? Is Ventura one of those crazed “Ron Paulians?”

He might just be. Turning to the topic of the Iraq War, and specifically ending it, Ventura says:

“Look it, OK, 2006 — the voters clearly sent a mandate to the spineless Democrats. They sent a mandate to them saying get us out of Iraq.
Have they done it? No. Are they even close to doing it? No. All we’re getting is cheap talk from them.”

So how does Ventura think the war should be ended:

“I agree with Ron Paul, we marched in there, we can march out.”

I don’t even know Jesse Ventura that well. I certainly have not followed his political career. And I am not saying that if he ran for president, I would vote for him. BUT, it is so refreshing to hear anyone lambaste the entire American political system on national television when most politicians and commentators are only too willing to glorify it.

Ventura even suggested that voters should have a “none of the above” option when they go to their polling places on election day. Yikes! Talk about heresy! How can he even suggest something so preposterous? Doesn’t this guy know the rules? Trash one party or the other. But never speak ill of the sacrosanct institution that is American democratic elections. Even if all of the candidates are awful, every voter must fulfill their obligation to select the “lesser of the evils.”

I even heard one CNN pundit refer to a vote for “none of the above” as a “populist copout.” Strange, but the “copout,” if you ask me, is in voting for a candidate you don’t like, just because you have been told that you must vote for someone.

Thank you, Jesse Ventura, not only for not worshiping the State but, for your unflinching denouncement of its corrupt elections.

I was reminded last week about this saying: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” A friend of mine was bemoaning high gas prices. Now, that by itself is not very remarkable. After all, isn’t everyone doing that these days? What was interesting, however, was the solution he proposed for this problem. He suggested that President Bush should issue an executive order to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, better known as ANWR. I should make clear at this point that I have no problem with drilling in ANWR. I do, however, have a major problem with “executive orders.”

In a nutshell, here’s my friend’s take on this matter. He believes drilling for oil in the ANWR would benefit everyone in our country. Everyone else who doesn’t happen to share his opinion, he believes, is just too naive on this matter. So, according to my friend, it’s up to the president to take action and force everyone else to go along. Well, I believe drilling for oil would be beneficial as well, as it would probably lead to drastically lower gas prices at the pump. Additionally, if we combined drilling for oil in the ANWR with the repeal of the environmental regulations that have resulted in the manufacture of ZERO oil refineries in the United States since 1976, that would be even better. But, it would be a major violation of my libertarian principles to favor an executive order that would compel all Americans to accept my views as the only correct ones. We should never allow the president to assume dictatorial powers. Whether the president is a Republican or a Democrat, unchecked Executive power will lead us down a slippery slope to totalitarianism. We already have a president who has referred to himself as “The Decider.” Is this not a suitably poignant illustration of the dangerous direction we are taking in this country?

Of course, there could also be some unintended consequences when a politician my friend doesn’t support comes to power as president. My friend despises Hillary Clinton and all Democrats, for that matter. Well, suppose Hillary receives her party’s nomination and wins the general election in November. What if, upon taking her post in the Oval Office, Mrs. Clinton issues an executive order to stop drilling in the ANWR? She could cite the actions of the Bush administration and say they set a precedent that she is simply following. And just like that, it’s all over.

Furthermore, Mrs Clinton has made it perfectly clear that she favors universal health care. I know my friend does not support this type of insurance but, so what!? Hillary wouldn’t have to worry about anyone who doesn’t want universal health care. She could simply issue an executive order to make it all happen.

Unfortunately, my friend, who most of the time sounds “libertarian-esque”, seems to be calling for a dictator in this instance. With a catch, however. If the dictator forces everyone else to do things he (my friend) believes are correct, then there’s no problem. We’ll then have a nice, happy dictatorship. Turn the tables around, however, and then we have a problem.

Basically, what it boils down to is this: Republican dictators are acceptable. Democrat dictators are not.

Anyone who values their freedom, though, rejects ALL dictators, regardless of their party affiliation.

Imagine for a moment that you are someone who has not paid attention to the 2008 presidential campaign at all. You have no idea who the three leading candidates are. You also have no knowledge of the candidates who were in the race. You never tuned in for any of the televised debates. You never read any of the magazine articles. You never read any newspapers. Now imagine that the first time you see any of the 2008 presidential candidates, it is when you tune in to Glenn Beck’s television program on April 1, 2008. On this program he has a guest named Ron Paul, who he introduces as a Republican candidate for president. Mr. Beck asks Paul about the big profits for big oil, the plan to give the Federal Reserve much greater power over the economy, and the general problems relating to the Fed’s ability to secretly control- along with private banks- all of the finances of the United States. It’s a well done interview. You would probably come away from it thinking that this Ron Paul guy has some interesting points. Even if you didn’t agree with him, you would probably conclude that he at least deserves some respect. Why?

Well, quite simply, it’s all in the way Beck treated Ron Paul. He was fair. He allowed Paul to finish his sentences. He gave the viewer the impression that Ron Paul actually knows what he’s talking about when it comes to economic matters. Of course, anyone who knows Glenn Beck also knows that he is vehemently opposed to Ron Paul’s foreign policy of nonintervention. However, unlike Bill O’Reilly, who had Ron Paul on his program just to yell at him, and give the viewer the impression that he is crazy, Beck spoke with Ron Paul in a civilized manner concerning a topic on which he and Paul agree.

In January of this year, Glenn Beck interviewed Ron Paul on his radio show. Once again, it was very well conducted and even ended with Beck paying Dr. Paul this compliment:

“I mean, you know, we just — I just happen to disagree with you, but I respect you, sir, for your opinion. I have said this, you know, behind your back. So let me say it to your face. I think you are the closest we have running to a founding father. You seem to be the only guy who has actually read the federalist papers. So I appreciate your efforts, sir.”

Furthermore, back in December, 2007, Mr. Beck interviewed and debated Ron Paul on television for the entire length of his (Beck’s) program!

How about that!? Where was Fox News for that kind of “fair and balanced” coverage? This is precisely the kind of debate we should be having in this great “democratic” country of ours. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone’s positions on war, the economy, or anything. There is something wrong, however, with eschewing real debate in favor of flinging epithets at each other as if the discussion was between 9 year olds in a grade school playground.

To be fair, from a left wing perspective I have to compliment Bill Maher for his treatment of Ron Paul as well. After the Republican debate in which Rudy Giuliani and Dr. Paul had this memorable confrontation, Paul appeared as a studio guest on Maher’s television program. Maher even referred to Ron Paul as his “new hero.”

Just imagine what might have happened over this past year if more people in the mainstream media would have given Ron Paul fair coverage. Just imagine what might have happened if the mainstream media actually encouraged real debates on the issues, instead of having their microphones and cameras ready only for political pablum and jingoistic slogans.

Finally, just as Glenn Beck and Bill Maher disagree with Ron Paul on many issues, I disagree with Beck and Maher on many issues. However, I appreciate the fact that both of them treated Ron Paul with respect, and allowed him plenty of time to state his case.

That’s more than I can say for most of the other political commentators.

The hot issue in American politics is the economy. It stems, of course, from the housing boom of the early 2000’s, that inevitably became today’s housing bust. People are angry. They want action. Many of them are calling for tighter regulations and increased oversight of lenders as well as the larger financial sector. Well, the Bush administration has devised a plan. According to this plan, the Federal Reserve would become the great overseer of the financial sector. In fact, the Fed would assume the role of “market stability regulator.” Furthermore,

“The role Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues have been playing to shore up the financial system would be formalized in the administration plan by giving Fed officials greater power to detect where threats might be lurking in the system.”

How interesting. Under this plan the fox would, indeed, be in charge of the hen house. Let’s remember that the Fed slashed interest rates in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in an attempt to spur demand and encourage consumerism. Americans were led to believe that they could spend and borrow their way into prosperity. Many Americans proceeded to buy overvalued homes which they could not afford. The Community Reinvestment Act, which I highlighted here, also forced lenders to issue loans to many subprime borrowers, who normally would not have qualified for those loans.

Everything that transpired after the interest rate cuts, however, would not have happened if the rates were allowed to be determined by the market. So before we blame the market for the mess, it’s important to remember that it was the Federal Reserve that set and held interest rates well below the normal market level. As far as the great borrowing frenzy is concerned, the Fed was the great enabler.

And now were supposed to trust the Fed to oversee the entire financial sector? We’re supposed to trust the Fed to ensure everything remains copacetic?

Here’s what Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, had to say about the housing boom in 2005, just before President Bush nominated him to become Chairman:

“U.S. house prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years, noted Bernanke, currently chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, in testimony to Congress’s Joint Economic Committee. But these increases, he said, ‘largely reflect strong economic fundamentals,’ such as strong growth in jobs, incomes and the number of new households.”

And how did he feel about the prospect of the boom in the housing market coming to an end?

“A moderate cooling in the housing market, should one occur, would not be inconsistent with the economy continuing to grow at or near its potential next year.”

In other words he simply told everyone to take it easy. Don’t worry. Everything’s under control. That was the message.

Congressman Ron Paul, on the other hand, issued these prescient statements on the housing situation in May of 2004.

“Federal Reserve manipulation of interest rates and the money supply has created a perilous situation for millions of Americans,” Paul stated. “Rising interest rates may well cause housing prices to fall dramatically, leaving many homeowners who bought at the height of the bubble owing more than their homes are worth. Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages are especially vulnerable, as are those who used paper gains in real estate values as collateral for second, third, and even fourth mortgages. The Fed’s easy-credit policies are directly responsible for lowering creditworthiness standards and encouraging millions of Americans to overextend themselves. If trillions of dollars in housing equity disappear, no amount of Fed sorcery will keep record amounts of Americans out of bankruptcy.”

Keep in mind that Paul’s statements were issued more than a year before Bernanke shrugged off the looming debacle. Paul predicted that rising interest rates could cause housing prices to fall dramatically, leaving many homeowners owing more than their homes are worth. And then we see this article from marketwatch.com on March 25, 2008, in which it is stated:

“Home prices in 20 major U.S. metro areas have plunged a record 10.7% in the past year as prices continued to decelerate, Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday.

The 20-city Case-Shiller home price index fell a record 2.4% from December to January, the 18th consecutive decline in prices. For 10 major cities, prices fell 2.3% in January and 11.4% for the past 12 months.”
Furthermore, from Bloomberg.com on February 26, 2008:

“Falling prices have trapped many homeowners who would like to sell or refinance their houses because they owe more money on them than the homes are now worth.”

Dr. Paul also highlighted the risk for homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages. In the same marketwatch.com article we see:
“Falling home values could also trigger higher monthly payments for many homeowners with adjustable rate loans.”
And from Bloomberg.com on those rising rates:
“Defaults among subprime borrowers and those unable to meet rising payments on adjustable-rate loans drove foreclosure filings to the highest since August and the second-highest since RealtyTrac started keeping records three years ago.”
So, it would appear that the man who has been labeled by some as a paranoid, crackpot, conspiracy theorist actually had it figured out. And he wasn’t afraid to spell it out, either. The man who is now the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, on the other hand, simply brushed the matter aside.
Now what’s that about the Fed possibly being the “market stability regulator?”

Who wants to dwell on politics? Isn’t it so much more convenient and so much less irritating to just ignore all of that unsavory political nonsense? And isn’t it easier to just wander into a voting booth every couple of years and vote the way you were raised to vote? And isn’t it easier to base every political argument you may have on the words of some talk radio blowhard? After all, those people do this stuff for a living, you know! They are the experts! They told us so! Perhaps the slogan for election season in America ought to be: “Don’t Think, Just Vote!

A few days ago I received a message on myspace from a friend in which he pays me and this blog the following compliment:

“I read some of your blog, pretty good stuff. I wish more people put as much thought into their opinions as you, I think we’d be better off as a nation.”

Now, I should point out that I am not including this compliment as a way of “blowing my own horn.” However, the writer of this compliment, my friend since 1994, identifies himself as a “lefty” when it comes to politics. I know we disagree on many issues, but I very much appreciate the fact that he took the time to read my blog. Also, notice that he doesn’t say he shares my opinions but, he does appreciate that I have at least tried to present a cogent argument in support of those opinions.

I think an analogy is in order at this juncture. It seems to me that most people are attached to their political parties in the same way they are connected to their favorite sports teams. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter if you don’t like your party’s candidate in any given election. What’s vital, however, is to remain loyal to the party. The ultimate goal is victory. That is, the party must be victorious. All of the various arguments between party members on issues like health care, foreign policy, the economy, social security, and the environment are to be forgotten. It’s time to win! And winning requires a united team effort! Similarly, in the sports world you may not like all of the members of your favorite team. But, when it’s time to play the game, you put aside any ill feelings you may have toward certain players and cheer them all on to what will hopefully be a glorious victory.

The difference between the political side of the analogy and the sporting side involves the ramifications of the end result. If your team wins the game, then it’s time to celebrate. If your team loses, it’s time to commiserate with friends and talk about what you would have done in that 4th and goal situation. Ultimately, however, your life does not change. The result of the political “game,” on the other hand, does affect your life. Your “team,” in this case your political party, may win. However, if you did not vote on principle but, simply to prevent the other party from winning, you may find that is a hollow victory. Since it’s that time of year I will use the Presidential election as an example.

Will the winner of the election start a war? Do you have loved ones in the military who could be called into battle? What if there’s a draft? Would you go?

And what about taxes? Will you be paying more or less? Will the inflation tax continue to diminish the value of your money?

Will your civil liberties be protected under the new administration? Will you be investigated by the government because you publish anti-government posts on your blog?

There are many more concerns, of course, but you see what I mean. The results of the Presidential election will have an affect on your life. To sacrifice principle for party loyalty is to make a great mistake.

This is why I believe that if any political progress is to be made in this country, voters must relinquish their unconditional support of political parties. Many of us are being led like lemmings to that quickly approaching cliff. For all too many people, acquiring a knowledge of politics amounts to nothing more than reading and reciting the slogans printed on bumper stickers.

The internet has made information gathering ridiculously easy. We need to take advantage of this situation to learn everything we can about what really goes on in our government. We should always ask why a law is being passed. We should think critically and wonder who benefits from the new law. We should be concerned that the law may violate our right to privacy. Whether the President is a Democrat or Republican makes no difference. Many Republicans love the fact that the President now enjoys nearly unchecked power. How shortsighted they truly are! For what happens when a Democrat becomes President. All of that power, once cherished by the Republicans, will now be seen as a great threat. And isn’t it strange that since taking control of Congress in 2006 the Democrats have done practically nothing to roll back the legislation that has resulted in so much Executive power. Of course, they haven’t. They know there’s an awfully good chance that they will win this year’s election. Beginning in January 2009, the Democrat President would then have his or her hands on those precious levers of power.

It is folly to assume that your party always has your best interests in mind. Never assume that they will remain true to their principles. Watch them like hawks. Don’t just go along for the ride. You might not like where they’re taking you.

In my last post I highlighted some of the reasons why Americans should condemn the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. However, as deplorable as the past five years of war have been, I also believe it is necessary to look back at the economic war that was waged against Iraq in the 1990’s. The Iraq Sanctions, supported by the Clinton administration, are considered to be some of the most brutal in all of history. The ostensible goal of those sanctions was to weaken Saddam Hussein’s totalitarian grip on the people of Iraq and to eliminate the “threat” posed to the Middle East and the West by Hussein and his alleged weapons programs. Of course, that’s not the way things would pan out. In fact, the Clinton backed Iraq sanctions and the invasion of Iraq begun by Bush in 2003 have one dubious “accomplishment” in common. They have both resulted in tremendous suffering for the Iraqi people.

In the early 1990’s the U.N. Security Council passed resolutions which placed sanctions on Iraq. The first Bush administration believed the sanctions should not be lifted as long as Hussein remained in power. But, Bill Clinton was and still is a humanitarian, right? Surely he wouldn’t feel the same way. Or would he? In 1993, as he takes office Clinton says:

“I am a Baptist. I believe in death-bed conversions. If he [Hussein] wants a different relationship with the United States and the United Nations, all he has to do is change his behavior.” (The New York Times, January 14, 1993)

Clinton adds regarding Hussein: “I have no intention of normalizing relations with him.”

On May 12, 1996 on 60 Minutes Ambassador Madeleine Albright is asked:

“We have heard that a half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?”

Albright responds:

“I think this is a very hard choice, but the price-we think the price is worth it.”

Then, on October 4, 1996, UNICEF releases a report on Iraq in which it states:

“Around 4,500 children under the age of five are dying here every month from hunger and disease.”

And of course, it gets worse. On October 3, 1997 a joint study conducted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program discovers that the sanctions:

“significantly constrained Iraq’s ability to earn foreign currency needed to import sufficient quantities of food to meet needs. As a consequence, food shortages and malnutrition became progressively severe and chronic in the 1990s.”

In the face of this disaster, what does Bill Clinton do? He responds with bluster. In November 1997, during a standoff on weapons inspectors, the President says:

“What he [Hussein] says his objective is, is to relieve the people of Iraq, and presumably the government, of the burden of the sanctions. What he has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be there until the end of time or as long as he lasts. So I think that if his objective is to try to get back into the business of manufacturing vast stores of weapons of mass destruction and then try to either use them or sell them, then at some point the United States, and more than the United States, would be more than happy to try to stop that.” (Emphasis Added)

Is this the same Bill Clinton who is now regarded as a supreme humanitarian? Just think of all of those bumper stickers that read “Nobody died when Clinton lied.” The truth is that hundreds of thousands of people died when Clinton lied.

Anyway, the tragedy in Iraq continued, as on November 26, 1997 UNICEF reported:

“The most alarming results are those on malnutrition, with 32 per cent of children under the age of five, some 960,000 children, chronically malnourished-a rise of 72 per cent since 1991. Almost one quarter (around 23 per cent) are underweight-twice as high as the levels found in neighbouring Jordan or Turkey.” Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF Representative in Baghdad: “And what concerns us now is that there is no sign of any improvement since Security Council Resolution 986/1111 [oil-for-food] came into force.”

Just a couple of weeks after this report is issued Clinton reminds the public of his intentions:

“I am willing to maintain the sanctions as long as he does not comply with the resolutions…. There are those that would like to lift the sanctions. I am not among them.”

Then on January 10, 1998 the Pope speaks out against the sanctions:

“I insist on repeating clearly to all, once again, that no one may kill in God’s name,” recalling “our brothers and sisters in Iraq, living under a pitiless embargo… The weak and the innocent cannot pay for mistakes for which they are not responsible.”

The next grim report from UNICEF would come in April. It stated:

“The increase in mortality reported in public hospitals for children under five years of age (an excess of some 40,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is mainly due to diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. In those over five years of age, the increase (an excess of some 50,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is associated with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, liver or kidney diseases.”

On October 6, 1998, Dennis Halliday, the former head of the “oil for food” program for Iraq gives a speech on Capitol Hill in which he cites:

a “conservative estimate” of “child mortality for children under five years of age is from five to six thousand per month.” Halliday states: “There are many reasons for these tragic and unnecessary deaths, including the poor health of mothers, the breakdown of health services, the poor nutritional intake of both adults and young children and the high incidence of water-born diseases as a result of the collapse of Iraq’s water and sanitation system-and, of course, the lack of electric power to drive that system, both crippled by war damage following the 1991 Gulf War.”

However, the Clinton administration remained unbowed in their steely eyed determination to oust Hussein from power through the crippling sanctions. They too, espoused more nonsense about WMDs, for which George W. Bush is now infamous. On November 10, 1998 State Department spokesman James Rubin said:

“We’ve stated very clearly that it is up to Saddam Hussein to comply with the resolutions of the Security Council that lay out the needs and requirements, including on weapons of mass destruction, coming back into compliance with those resolutions, including on Kuwaiti prisoners, Kuwaiti equipment, and, in short, demonstrating his peaceful intentions, in which case we are prepared to see an adjustment in the sanctions regime.”

And let’s not forget the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, in which it is averred that Iraq:

“…has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs.”

So we see that the lies of 2001 and 2002 are strikingly similar to the lies of 1998. Two different Presidents, yet the lies remain the same. In the 1990’s Clinton’s lies led to the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis through those despicable sanctions. In the early 2000’s Bush’s lies have led to the mass murders of possibly over a million Iraqis.

Call one a Democrat. Call the other a Republican. One is “conservative.” One is “liberal.” That is all irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that they are partners in crime.