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Jacob G. Hornberger

The Emergency Destruction of American Liberty

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Emergencies are the time-honored method by which people lose their freedom. That’s because public officials use emergencies as a way to acquire totalitarian powers, under the rationale that they need such powers to keep people “safe.” Of course, officials usually make it clear that the totalitarian powers will only be “temporary.” As soon as the emergency is over, they say, the powers will be canceled and things will return to normal.

During emergencies, much of the citizenry becomes afraid, very afraid. Being kept safe zooms to near the top of many people’s priority list. They become willing, even eager, for the government to acquire totalitarian powers to keep them safe, especially since the use of such powers is temporary anyway.

One of the best examples of this phenomenon was the Reichstag Fire in Nazi Germany, when the German Parliament building was made the target of a terrorist attack. After the fire-bombing of the building, German leader Adolf Hitler approached the Reichstag and requested totalitarian powers to deal with the terrorist threat facing Germany. After considerable discussion and debate, the legislature gave Hitler the powers he was seeking to wage a war on terrorism.
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Memorial Day is Based on a Lie

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Today, Memorial Day, Americans across the land will hear the same message: that US soldiers who have died in America’s foreign wars and foreign interventions have done so in the defense of our rights and freedoms. It is a message that will be heard in sporting events, memorial services, airports, churches, and everywhere else that Memorial Day is being commemorated.

There is one big thing wrong, however. It’s a lie. None of those soldiers died protecting our rights and freedoms. That’s because our rights and freedoms were never being threatened by the enemy forces that killed those soldiers.

Let’s work our way backwards.

Syria. The Syrian government has never invaded the United States and tried to take away our rights and freedoms. Therefore, any US soldier who has died in Syria was not killed protecting our rights and freedoms.

Niger. The Niger government has never invaded the United States and tried to take away our freedoms. Therefore, any US soldier who has died in Niger was not killed protecting our rights and freedoms.

Iraq. The Iraq government never invaded the United States and tried to take away our rights and freedoms. Therefore, any US soldier who has died in Iraq was not killed protecting our rights and freedoms.
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Political Gamesmanship at the Olympics

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So, why is Vice-president Mike Pence attending the Winter Olympics in South Korea? Is it because he’s a sports fan who just wants to enjoy the quadrennial spectacle of the Olympic games?

Unfortunately, no.

Pence is going to the games for political purposes. He intends to use them as an opportunity to level a propaganda attack against North Korea, the communist regime that the US government has long been committed to regime-changing. To advance this political aim, Pence will be accompanied by Fred Warmbier, the father of the University of Virginia student who died in the United States after being held in North Korean custody for more than a year.

I wonder if the thought has even occurred to Warmbier that President Trump and Pence are just using him as a political pawn, one whose role is to highlight the brutality of the North Korean regime. Never mind that the Olympics are supposed to be a forum for sports events, not political attacks and propaganda. The Trump-Pence mindset is: Why let a good opportunity to make propaganda points go unseized?

Actually though, Fred Warmbier’s participation in this dangerous political gamesmanship serve to provide valuable lessons to the American people, not about North Korea, but about our very own government.
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America: A Military Nation

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Americans like to think of their country as different from those run by military regimes. They are only fooling themselves. Ever since the federal government was converted into a national-security state after World War II (without a constitutional amendment authorizing the conversion), it has been the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA that have run the government, just like in countries governed by military dictatorships.

Oh sure, the façade is maintained — the façade that is ingrained in all of us in civics or government classes in high school and college: that the federal government is composed of three co-equal, independent branches that are in charge of the government.

But just a façade. It’s fake. It’s a lie.

It’s true that the federal government used to consist of three branches. But that quaint notion disintegrated when the federal government was converted to what is known as a “national-security state” after World War II. Even though it was done without a constitutional amendment, that conversion effectively added a fourth branch of government to the federal government — the national-security branch, which consists of the NSA, the CIA, and the Pentagon.

The addition of that fourth branch fundamentally altered the original three-branch concept, especially because the fourth branch quickly became the most powerful branch. The reason is because ultimately government is force, and the fourth branch is where the most force was concentrated within the new, altered governmental structure.
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The Biggest Threat to our Country

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The New York Times recently profiled three military veterans who are running for Congress. All three are women and all three graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Times highlighted the military experience of the women, which they plan to rely on to establish their credentials for running for Congress.

Of course, hardly anyone asks the obvious question: Why should serving in the military operate as a credential for serving in Congress? At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the members of Congress don’t personally do the types of things soldiers do, such as drop bombs on people, torture people, or assassinate people. So, why should a person’s military service operate as any special credential for serving as an elected representative in Congress?

Some people might say, “Because they served their country.” That seems to be the mindset of at least one of the three women, Mikie Sherrill, who said, “It’s incredibly important that I decided to serve my country before deciding to run for office.”

But there is one big important thing about her statement: It’s not true. Sherrill, like other US soldiers, was not serving her country when she was a soldier. She was serving her government. There’s a difference, a big one.
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The First Amendment Does Not Give Us Freedom of Speech

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A special insert in Sunday’s New York Times reflects that it’s not just people in countries run by totalitarian regimes that are indoctrinated by the state. It also happens in representative democracies like the United States, especially owing to the government’s educational system.

The insert, which consisted of a variety of articles on different subjects, was oriented toward children. One article was entitled “What’s the Deal with North Korea?” and summarized the decades-long dispute between North Korea and the United States.

The article tells children that Americans are far freer than South Koreans are. It points out, for example, that North Koreans go to jail for criticizing their ruler, Kim Jong-un, while Americans are free to criticize their political leaders.

Here is where U.S. indoctrination come into play. The author of the piece, Elise Craig, writes:
The First Amendment gives Americans the right to be critical of elected leaders without punishment.
That statement is engrained in every single American from the time he enters the first grade and, unfortunately, produces a mindset that continues through adulthood.
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The British Empire in Yemen

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Over the holidays, I began watching a Netflix/BBC series entitled The Last Postwhich revolves around a contingent of British troops in the early 1960s stationed in Aden, a port city in Yemen, the Arabian country today that Saudi Arabia and the United States are bombing to smithereens.

The British troops were there as a remnant of the British Empire, which once controlled foreign lands all across the globe but which, mostly as a result of World War II, had been pretty much dismantled. The British troops in Aden were able to have their families living with them. One of their favorite pastimes was enjoying the amenities of a beautiful seaside resort in Aden.

But not all was hunky dory. Periodically British patrols were being ambushed and killed by Yemeni terrorists. The terrorists also kidnapped the 8-year-old son of a British officer and threatened to kill him if the British refused to release a Yemeni terrorist who had been arrested for killing British troops.

One British soldier innocently asked another, “Why do they want to kill us?” He really didn’t know. The soldier to whom he addressed the question responded, “I just don’t know.”
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What Good Are Domestic Military Bases?

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In an excellent 2016 article in the Los Angeles Times entitled “For U.S. Foreign Policy, It’s Time to Look Again at the Founding Fathers’ Great Rule’” (which I highly recommend reading), Texas A&M Professor Elizabeth Cobbs wrote:
In 2013, for the first time since the Pew organization began polling Americans on the question five decades earlier, the majority (52%) said the United States should “mind its own business” and allow other countries to get along on their own. Today, Pew finds, the number has risen to 57%.
That is an incredible statistic. After the debacles in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, it seems that Americans are finally questioning the interventionist paradigm that has held our country in its grip since the Spanish-American War in 1898. They are questioning the notion that the U.S. government should serve as the world’s policeman, intervener, interloper, aggressor, assassin, kidnapper, and regime-changer.

The United States was founded as a non-interventionist, limited-government republic, one whose government did not “go abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” as John Quincy Adams put it in his Fourth of July address to Congress in 1821.
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A Basic Principle About Drug Laws

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Drug laws bring into existence drug gangs. it’s just a basic principle of economics. If you like drug gangs and the violence that comes with them, then you should support drug laws. if you oppose drug gangs and their violence, you should oppose drug laws.
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JFK, the CIA, and Secrecy

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Today marks the 54th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who famously said,
The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings…
Isn’t that the ultimate of ironies, given that the “investigation” into his assassination was shrouded in secrecy and continues to be shrouded in secrecy?

It’s been that way since the day of the assassination. Everything was said to involve “national security,” which were (and are) the two most important words in the American political lexicon. Most of the proceedings of the Warren Commission, which was charged with pinning the assassination on Lee Harvey Oswald, were conducted in secret. The commission ordered that records relating to its proceedings be kept secret from the American people … for 75 years! When Warren was asked if Americans would ever be permitted to see the records, he responded, “Yes, there will come a time. But it might not be in your lifetime….”

Immediately upon JFK’s death, a team of Secret Service agents, following orders from new President Lyndon Johnson, forced their way out of Parkland Hospital, where the president had died. Brandishing guns and screaming profanities, they made it clear to Dallas Medical Examiner Earl Rose that they had absolutely no intention of complying with Texas law, which required that Rose conduct an autopsy.
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