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Tag Archives: Bush

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.

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The ignominious war in Iraq is now five years old. Much was proferred by the proponents of war in the buildup to this crusade. We were warned that we needed to take immediate action to rid the planet of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. We were told that the “liberation” of Iraq’s long oppressed masses was at hand. We were reminded incessantly about the grave threat the entire planet faced from this latest “Hitler.” Alas, none of their statements were true.

And here we are in 2008. We’re five years into an undeclared war that is illegal according to the United States Constitution. We’re reminded daily by the neoconservative satraps of the Bush administration that the U.S. must continue this war in Iraq until victory is achieved. But what constitutes victory? Since this war is reputed to be part of the larger War on Terror, is the U.S. going to stay until every last suspected terrorist in the world has been killed, or at least waterboarded into admitting he is a terrorist? Or will victory come when Iraq has a stable and suitably pro-American government in place? Which begs this question. If establishing freedom for Iraqis was really the goal, then why didn’t the U.S. simply leave the country immediately after Saddam Hussein was captured? Could it be that there are actually different types of “freedom?” On the one hand there could be the generic and quite possibly dangerous to American interests brand of “freedom.” While on the other hand there could be the “correct, American government approved freedom.” I wonder…

Anyway, I just thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight some of the key U.S. government “accomplishments” during the past five years of “Iraqi liberation.” But first I’d like to draw your attention to the number 935. For that is the number of lies told by members of the Bush Administration in their effort to sell this war.

And speaking of the Decider, there is the number 3,857. That would be the number of American deaths in Iraq since he declared “mission accomplished” on May 1, 2003.

Of course, other numbers are quite significant as well. Take for instance the number 1,191,216. This is the estimated total of Iraqi deaths that have resulted from the U.S. led invasion of their country.

And how about this statistic? Since 2003, as a result of the violence in their nation, nearly 5,000,000 Iraqis have become refugees. I suppose they are just thrilled that the American occupiers have brought them “freedom” from their homes.

But that’s not all. Thanks to the abysmal security situation in their country, many Iraqis now have “freedom” from the fetters of employment, as well. There are nearly 200 major factories in Iraq that used to employ over 300,000 people. Most of those plants are now closed.

Ah, but I can hear it already! I hear those shrieks of “Hey, Ed, its the terrorists in Iraq that are creating the security problem, NOT the United States government!”

Well, the thing is, those terrorists wouldn’t be in Iraq right now if the U.S. hadn’t invaded in 2003.

But now I hear the shrieks again. “But, Ed, are you saying that you liked Hussein? Don’t you remember how he tortured people? Don’t you remember how evil he was?!”

Believe me, as a libertarian I harbored no affection for Hussein. He embodied everything that libertarians abhor in government and human beings in general. But, and here is the crux of the issue. Hussein was no threat to the national security of the United States. The internal problems of Iraq should be solved by the people of Iraq, not by the United States military.

The Soviet Union once posed a much greater threat to its own people and to the United States than Hussein ever could have. And what happened there? The United States was not required to liberate the Russians from the yoke of Communism. Against a truly menacing State the people simply stopped obeying the orders of their leaders. Soviet Communism crumbled from within.

Within the Iraq War we see things crumbling as well. But, in this case, it’s nothing to celebrate. Just take a look at this gut wrenching story from the USA Today concerning the effects of the war on Iraqi children. Imagine dealing with this situation when you were a kid:

“Many Iraqi children have to pass dead bodies on the street as they walk to school in the morning, according to a separate report last week by the International Red Cross. Others have seen relatives killed or have been injured in mortar or bomb attacks.

‘Some of these children are suffering one trauma after another, and it’s severely damaging their development,’ said Said Al-Hashimi, a psychiatrist who teaches at Mustansiriya Medical School and runs a private clinic in west Baghdad. ‘We’re not certain what will become of the next generation, even if there is peace one day,’ Al-Hashimi said.”

How many of these children will look back fondly on the time when the Americans came to “liberate” them?

Finally, as if the Constitutional and humanitarian cases against this war aren’t enough to elicit widespread condemnation from Americans, there is the financial cost of fighting this war. How about the nice round figure of 3 trillion dollars? Just read what Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have to say about it. Boy, this empire expansion thing sure is an expensive business!

And just think. Five years of the Iraq War is really no time at all. If John McCain wins in November, we can look forward to another 95! What joy!

Everyone is encouraged to live in the “present”. In fact, it is really all anyone can do. Our lives keep changing as the country and the world change, and it is imperative that we keep up with the pace. Occasionally, however, we should all stop and think of the line from the Talking Heads hit “Once In A Lifetime” and ask ourselves, “Well, how did I get here?”

For, if we really want to know why our country exists in its current state we need to understand how we got to this point. As bad as the current Bush presidency has been, it didn’t start with his administration. There is a long chain of events that brought us endless war, interventionism at home and abroad, loss of civil liberties, debasement of the currency, and the threat of terrorism. I would like to mention some of the events that I believe are the most significant. Admittedly, this will not be a complete list. I welcome any comments about events that I don’t mention in this post. Of course I welcome comments about the events that I do mention as well.

Let’s start way back in the 1860’s with Abraham Lincoln. If you want to know where the precedent for suppression of civil liberties in America was set, look no further than “Honest Abe.” Check out what Thomas DiLorenzo has to say about Lincoln. Funny, but they don’t teach this stuff in the government schools.

Next there is the war that marked the beginning of America’s expansionist foreign policy: The Spanish-American War.

Not too long after that, in 1913, two more pernicious acts were committed upon the American people. First there was the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, that set in motion the forces that are destroying our currency. But, there’s also the Sixteenth Amendment, which brought us the income tax, and the notion that the government actually owns our paychecks and allows us to keep a portion of them.

Soon after these dastardly acts America entered WWI. The Wilsonian policy of “making the world safe for democracy” exists to this very day.

Moving on to the early 1930’s we see the genesis of the American corporate state with FDR and the New Deal. Interestingly, the fascist Mussolini government in Italy was drawn on for inspiration here.

Also significant in American history is the day of April 5, 1933, when FDR made it illegal for Americans to own gold coins, bullion, or certificates, thus speeding up the process of currency destruction.

And what about all of those Japanese internment camps in this country during WWII? Long before people like Dubya were concerned about “Islamofascists” and homegrown terrorism, FDR set the stage.

And speaking of setting the stage, there is the U.S. involvement in Korea and Vietnam. With these wars the Constitutional requirement of a formal declaration of war by Congress was eschewed, giving the President carte blanche to wage war whenever and wherever he likes. Of course, this Executive power is largely viewed as being normal these days. Furthermore, the United States is now expected to get involved in various conflicts around the globe that have no connection to American national security.

And the hits just keep on coming. We now move on to the Middle East and 1953. The CIA launched Operation Ajax in Iran. The end result would be the removal of the democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh from power. He was replaced with the U.S. supported brutal dictator Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran.

In the 1960’s, in the interest of keeping the Commies at bay, the CIA also assisted in bringing Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to power in Iraq. I’ll come back to Saddam in a moment.

Returning to money matters, August 15, 1971 was indeed a fateful day for the American dollar, as Richard Nixon closed the gold window completely. From here the Fed’s printing presses have been working overtime.

Alright, so now more about Hussein. Back in the 1980’s the U.S. government considered the “butcher of Baghdad” to be a great ally. He was the recipient of military support during his eight year long war with neighboring Iran. Anyone starting to see some reasons why the people of Iran might harbor some enmity toward the United States?

Also in the 1980’s, and once again in the name of fighting Soviet Communism, the U.S. supported Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan. Ronald Reagan referred to them as “freedom fighters.” Osama bin Laden was one of those freedom fighters. Strange, now they are portrayed as the people who are trying to take away our freedom.

And why did our “allies” in Afghanistan become our enemies. Well, according to Osama bin Laden it has a lot to do with the U.S. establishing military bases in Saudi Arabia. He cites the existence of those bases as one of the main reasons why he started fighting a holy war against the U.S.

Moving into the 1990’s we have the sanctions against Iraq which are considered to be some of the most brutal in history. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of them children died as a result of these U.S. government backed sanctions. Former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright said on national television that those deaths were “worth it” since the ultimate goal was to remove the now evil Hussein from power.

Again, I know that these events do not cover everything that has brought us to our current state of affairs in America. But, we need to remember them. They are enormously significant as mile markers on our road to the destruction of the American Republic.