Monday August 29, 2016
When I was a kid, successive presidents told us we had to fight in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, because if we didn’t fight them over there, we’d have to fight them on the beaches of California. We believed. It was a lie.
I was a teenager during the Cold War, several presidents told us we needed to create massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons, garrison the world, maybe invade Cuba, fight covert wars and use the CIA to overthrow democratically elected governments and replace them with dictators, or the Russians would destroy us. We believed. It was a lie.
When I was in college our president told us that we needed to fight in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua or the Sandinistas would come to the United States. He told us Managua was closer to Washington DC than LA was. He told us we needed to fight in Lebanon, Grenada and Libya to protect ourselves. We believed. It was a lie.
Sunday August 28, 2016
Marathon 10-hour talks this weekend between the US and Russia in Geneva failed to produce a comprehensive plan to end the brutal Syrian war.
Cutting through diplomatic jargon, the fundamental problem is that the US remains in denial about its criminal role in fueling the war.
It is this role by the US and various foreign allies in supporting illegally armed groups that ensures the continuance of the conflict, which has been running for nearly six years with hundreds of thousands killed.
Washington and its allies – in particular this week Turkey – claim to be fighting terrorism. But the myriad global networks of weapons, cash, oil smuggling and military intelligence all testify to systematic state sponsorship of terrorism in Syria – in spite of random apparent anti-terror operations by these same sponsor-states.
Sunday August 28, 2016
The decision of several major insurance companies to cut their losses and withdraw from the Obamacare exchanges, combined with the failure of 70 percent of Obamacare's health insurance “co-ops, ” will leave one in six Obamacare enrollees with only one health insurance option. If Obamacare continues on its current track, most of America may resemble Pinal County, Arizona, where no one can obtain private health insurance. Those lucky enough to obtain insurance will face ever-increasing premiums and a declining choice of providers.
Many Obamacare supporters claimed that the exchanges created a market for health insurance that would allow consumers to benefit from competition. But allowing consumers to pick from a variety of government-controlled health insurance plans is not a true market; instead it is what the great economist Ludwig von Mises called “playing market.”
Saturday August 27, 2016
Accused terrorist Abu Zubaydah has not had his day in court yet. But earlier this week he had his day before a military Periodic Review Board, which apparently has the power to determine whether or not he should be released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Zubaydah wasn’t allowed to speak. Instead, a soldier read the prisoner’s prepared statement.
Zubaydah said he posed no threat to the United States or to anyone else and should be released. He said he had been subjected to torture by the CIA—this is fully documented in the Senate torture report—and that he wanted to go home.
For its part, the Periodic Review Board, a part of the military detention system and made up of representatives of six US intelligence agencies, released its own report, trying to justify to itself and others why Zubaydah has no hope of ever being released.
Friday August 26, 2016
Every Sunday at my church, we are exhorted to pray, among other things, for peace in the world and for the men and women who serve our nation — i.e., the military and the CIA . Naturally, the priests who craft the prayer, along with most of the congregation, fail to see the irony of those two prayers. That is, they fail to see that it is the Pentagon and the CIA whose activities around the world, especially in the Middle East and Afghanistan, are a major reason that Americans live without peace and prosperity.
Suppose some federal agency was conducting tours in which they regularly guided people to walk through a bed of rattlesnakes. Every day, some people are bit by rattlesnakes and die. Imagine American churches, seeing this ongoing death toll, exhorted their parishioners every Sunday (1) to pray that people stop being bitten by rattlesnakes; and (2) to also pray for the bureaucrats who are guiding people through the rattlesnake beds.
Do you see the problem with that scenario? Yes, it’s true, God could work a miracle and make it so that people would continue to walk through the rattlesnake bed without getting bit. But there is obviously another solution, one that doesn’t involve asking God to deliver a miracle: Simply shut down the rattlesnake operation, dismantle the federal agency that is in charge of the rattlesnake tours, and lay off the federal bureaucrats who are running the program. That would put a stop to the daily death toll from rattlesnake bites. And it would save taxpayer money.
Thursday August 25, 2016
Secretary of State John Kerry was in Africa earlier this week. He visited Nigeria and promised more US military aid to the country as it struggles with an increase of activity by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Of course it was the 2011 US attack on Libya that provided a windfall of weapons for Boko Haram and enabled them to dramatically expand. Kerry said he'd look into selling Nigeria some military planes as well. He also promised a few million dollars to Kenya to help them with their elections. As usual, that money will likely help ensure that the "right" people (i.e. US puppets) win the elections. He also discussed the additional UN troops that would be trying to sort out the bloody chaos in South Sudan, another US intervention "success story." The country was essentially created by the US to try to deny Chinese oil interests in Sudan. The result has been nothing but chaos and mayhem. Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
Thursday August 25, 2016
Reading through a recent interview with former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, it becomes clear that his world is one in which US foreign policy has only ever made us all safer and the biggest risk we now face is diminished US power.
The entire premise of his argument throughout the interview is that if the US steps back from playing global policeman, the “bad guys” will win. Simple as that.
The interview, which focuses on Donald Trump, opens with a question about Trump’s views regarding the NATO alliance and how the candidate sees the US’s role in the world. Rasmussen immediately declares he is “not taking sides” in the US election, but his attempt at neutrality goes swiftly out the window moments later when he complains that Trump is undermining “the credibility of the United States” and putting at stake America’s “role as the global superpower”. If Trump were to be elected, he laments, that could usher in “the end of the American-led world order”.
This would be very bad, he says, because if NATO is undermined by a Trump victory, then Vladimir Putin would “open a bottle of champagne” and be “tempted to test” the alliance. This assumes that Putin has simply been waiting in the wings for the 16 years that he has held positions of power for Donald Trump to come along so that he can invade Estonia for no reason. Because Rasmussen doesn’t give us a reason and we’re not supposed to ask. We’re just supposed to assume invading the Baltics is on Putin’s to-do list.
Wednesday August 24, 2016
Throughout the Cold War, the US national-security state told the American people that it was necessary for America to go over to the dark side in order to combat the threat of communism and the Soviet Union. By that, they meant adopting policies and practices employed by the communists. It was a mindset akin to fighting fire with fire.
That’s how America ended up with a formal program of assassination, whereby US agents wielded the power to assassinate people around the world who were suspected of being communists, despite the fact that the victims had never initiated any force against the United States. It was essentially a system of legalized murder or, as President Lyndon Johnson termed the program, “Murder, Inc.”
It’s also how the national-security state ended up with the authority to oust democratically elected regimes in which people had elected the “wrong” people (i.e., communists or communist sympathizers) to be their president or prime minister.
Wednesday August 24, 2016
Just three years after promising the American people that he would not put American boots on the ground in Syria, President Obama has directed the US military to participate in an invasion of northern Syria alongside NATO-ally Turkey. This in addition to establishing de facto US bases in eastern Syria from which US Special Forces are operating. The Syrian territory conquered today and the area around the US bases should be considered "no-fly" zones to Syrian and Russian combat aircraft. From here we can expect areas of US control to expand. Russia's move? We don't know. More today in the Liberty Report...
Tuesday August 23, 2016
Starting today, the Royal Bank of Scotland will become the first bank in the U.K. to impose a negative interest rate on depositors. The negative rate will apply only to corporate customers, including mutual fund managers and pension funds, holding deposits of certain foreign currencies including euros. This means that RBS—in which the U.K. government still maintains a majority ownership stake since its 2008 bailout—will actually charge these customers to “borrow” their deposits. A few weeks ago, RBS notified more than one million small-business customers that they could also be charged for deposits if the Bank of England lowered the target interest rate, which now stands at .25%, into negative territory. Experts are warning that the latest move by RBS would “set alarm bells ringing” among small businesses and ordinary customers. The stage is set for a glorious and long overdue old-fashioned bank run if the BOE ventures to push rates into negative territory.
Meanwhile in the eurozone, since the ECB rate cut the interest rate in March to minus 0.4%, banks have paid a total of about 2.64 billion euros to keep their funds on deposit at the eurozone’s 19 central banks. With European central bankers threatening further rate cuts, private financial institutions are exploring the feasibility of circumventing the charges by converting central bank electronic deposit credits into cash and storing it in nonbank facilities. The German insurance company Munich Re is reportedly already storing tens of millions of euros at “a manageable cost,” and Commerzbank, Germany’s second biggest lender, is considering a similar option.
Of course any significant movement to convert bank reserves into cash would undermine the goal of central-bank rate cutting, because the cost of holding bank reserves in cold hard cash would not respond to a change in interest rates, short circuiting central bank efforts to stimulate further bank lending. More significant, if the movement to convert deposits into cash spreads to the nonbank public, it would bring down the fractional-reserve banking system in short order.