This week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA’s metadata collection program was not authorized in US law. The PATRIOT Act, under which the program began, was too vague, the court found. But the truth is the Act was intended to be vague so that the government could interpret it in the broadest possible way.
But this is really more of a technicality, because illegality and unconstitutionality are really two very different things. Even if Congress had explicitly authorized the government to collect our phone records, that law would still be unconstitutional because the Constitution does not grant government the power to access our personal information without a valid search warrant.
Even though the court found the NSA program illegal, it did not demand that the government stop collecting our information in this manner. Instead, the court kicked the ball back in Congress’ court, as these provisions of the PATRIOT Act are set to expire at the end of the month and the Appeals Court decided to let Congress decide how to re-authorize this spying program.
Unfortunately, this is where there is not much to cheer. If past practice is any lesson, Congress will wait until the spying program is about to expire and then in a panic try to frighten Americans into accepting more intrusions on their privacy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill as a stop-gap measure to allow time for a fuller debate on the issue. His stop-gap? A five year re-authorization with no changes to the current program!
The main reform bill being floated, the FREEDOM Act, is little better. Pretending to be a step in the right direction, the FREEDOM Act may actually be worse for our privacy and liberties than the PATRIOT Act!
One silver lining in the court decision is that it should exonerate Ed Snowden, who risked it all to expose what the courts have now found was illegal US government activity. That is the definition of a whistleblower. Shouldn’t he be welcomed back home as a hero instead of being threatened with treason charges? We shouldn’t hold our breath!
This week Snowden addressed a conference in Melbourne, Australia, informing citizens that the Australian government watches all its citizens “all the time.” Australia’s program allows the government to “collect everyone’s communications in advance of criminal suspicion,” he told the conference. That means the government is no longer in the business of prosecuting crimes, but instead is collecting information in case crimes someday occur.
How is it that the Australian government can collect and track “pre-crime” information on its citizens? Last month Australia passed a law requiring telecommunications companies to retain metadata information on their customers for two years.
Why do Australia’s oppressive laws matter to us? Because the NSA “reform” legislation before Congress, the FREEDOM Act, does exactly what the Australian law does: it mandates that US telecommunications companies retain their customers’ metadata information so that the NSA can access the information as it wishes.
Some argue that this metadata information is harmless and that civil libertarians are over-reacting. But, as Ed Snowden told the Melbourne conference, “under these mandatory metadata laws you can immediately see who journalists are contacting, from which you can derive who their sources are.”
This one example of what happens when the government forces corporations to assist it in spying on the people should be a red flag. How can an independent media exist in the US if the government knows exactly whom journalists contact for information? It would be the end of any future whistleblowers.
The only reform of the PATRIOT Act is a total repeal. Accept nothing less.
Last night a constituent told me that Americans are wimps. We certainly didn’t start out that way, although there were many who were loyal to the king. We should never give up our precious liberties for any reason.
We now live in a society where safety and security are to be sought at all costs. The sacrifice of liberty is not a concern for most Americans today. This is not something new and it has been characteristic of most people throughout history but it has gotten especially bad in America since 9/11. In addition many Americans have become deeply worried as a consequence of the economic crisis that started in 2008. They have lost confidence in their future financial security but continue to deny our nation’s bankruptcy.
This has prompted many to opt for dependency on government even if it requires the use of force to get what they want to ameliorate their fears. Rather than having confidence in the benefits that accrue from a free society, the majority of Americans are now frightened by the thought of self-reliance and accepting the responsibility that comes with liberty.
There has been a steady erosion of confidence over the past 100 years as the American people as a whole have accepted the so-called need for big government to provide safety and security for its citizens. In the process they have readily accepted the personal income tax and the abuse of the IRS along with the illegal power of the money manipulators at the Federal Reserve to pay the bills by simply printing money. Unfortunately they have also convinced themselves of our “righteousness” by supporting force to spread American “greatness” throughout the world. This of course is a fantasy and is self-deceptive. This trend has been ongoing since the Woodrow Wilson era up to and including the policies designed by the current crop of neoconservatives.
It’s a sense of insecurity that prompts the need to demonstrate strength and confidence in an artificial manner. In a way it’s “a little man syndrome” to compensate for our diminishing achievements in our domestic economy and our position in world affairs. This includes the “chicken Hawks” as well as those who participate in aggressive behavior both domestically and internationally.
Many get a sense of strength and a feeling of patriotism from being able to bomb and kill individuals 6,000 miles away from our home though they have never committed an aggressive act against us. Our policies are designed to search for enemies to destroy though they pose no threat to us. We use remotely controlled drones and cruise missiles to perpetuate a sense of power even against powerless Third World pseudo-enemies.
We never hesitate to put on sanctions to punish those who do not obey our wishes, causing suffering, including death, to millions of innocent people. It is common now for us to pursue these policies around the world with the use of surrogates and training of other people. Because Americans, though they want to be powerful and in control, do not want to see any more Americans killed. In spite of the need for heroic militarism, Americans are getting tired of proving to the world that we are not a nation of wimps.
They have been convinced that we can be the strongest nation in the world, maintain an empire, and contract out the dirty work. And they seem surprised that it’s not working very well. It is now necessary for us to make snipers our super-heroes. Matter of fact every member of the military is now a hero, “risking his life” defending freedom and the Constitution, and deserving constant public displays of gratitude and special recognition. This pretense occurs while neglecting the veterans whose lives have been ruined by the senseless wars.
Denial is epidemic as to what should be done to address the problem of misplaced militarism being used to compensate for a deep-seated fear of inadequacy. Just killing imaginary enemies doesn’t make us strong and confident. The danger is that this morally confusing policy can destroy the soul of a nation.
We must remember that insecurity and fear provide fodder for authoritarians. And they are only too willing to oblige and fill the needs of the weak to feel better about themselves by engaging in the patriotic defense of our country, even if the threats are manufactured by the propagandists. The tragic part of all this is that it’s all done at the expense of liberty since loss of liberty was the major source of the problem in the first place.
Although the wimpiness of the American citizenry has been developing for quite a while, on 9/11 nineteen individuals brought America to her knees. This was principally due to the lack of understanding of exactly why 9/11 occurred — and to the successful efforts of our government to perpetuate a fraudulent explanation that those who want to kill us are doing so only because they are angry with us due to our freedoms and our prosperity. We are constantly being frightened of some unknown potential enemy lurking around the corner ready to attack and destroy us at any moment.
The Bush doctrine of preemptive war, which is nothing more than aggression, was met with essentially no resistance from the American people and very little from politicians. This idea of presidents being able to go to war recklessly and ask questions later possibly satisfies those who claim this serves the interest of our national security, but it’s a reflection of a sense of insecurity and contributes to the persistent attitude that we have a great need for Empire to make us safe and free. Nothing could be further from the truth
The ones who suffer most from this policy are those who pay and die without questioning, who actually lack courage and wisdom to resist the forces that push for war that serve the special interests. These special interests include: the political demagogues, financial beneficiaries, the military-industrial complex, proponents of the “sphere of influence argument,” money and power and false patriotism which are all promoted by government lies designed to perpetrate fear to a gullible public suffering from chronic wimpiness.
Support for these policies come from the many who succumb to the propaganda. Complacency is also a major contributing factor as people become more and more dependent as long as they believe the government will deliver safety and security. The wimps want to believe these false promises in spite of the evidence of their failure and the true costs. But that may be about to change. Liberty is not thought much about as long as benefits come in spite of the increasing concern for the solvency of the country. This attitude can change quickly when the dollar takes a big hit
The majority of Americans are deeply worried that a foreign enemy is at our doorstep. The Al Qaeda could hit us any day and is out to get us in any country in which we find ourselves. Meanwhile it appears that ISIS is winning all the wars.
People have to be convinced that a potential Hitler is about to attack us at any time even without any evidence that it’s likely to happen. During the 20th century hundreds of millions of people were killed by the Communists and Fascists, yet the size and scope of today’s dangers are miniscule in comparison. Blinded by the propaganda, the wimps refuse to see how the enemy, which is real to some degree, is made stronger by our inciting hatred by our occupations, and foolishly getting ourselves involved in civil wars in the many countries of the Middle East.
The evidence is overwhelming that our efforts in the Middle East are the best recruiting tool for the jihadist radicals to recruit supporters willing to wage guerrilla war against us. The process has led us to spend hundreds of billions of dollars with the results being that our enemies grow stronger as they end up using our weapons against us. The current foreign policy has been an absolute failure in achieving any positive results and it certainly hasn’t removed the need and desire for the American people to feel victorious on the battlefield to compensate for their sense of inferiority and insecurity.
Economic dependency is every bit as bad as the need for the American people to have military victories to feed their egos. This is initiated quite frequently by the politicians seeking votes and anxious to get people dependent on them so that they can serve as their rescuers. Bad economies, essentially caused by bad economic planning by our government and the Federal Reserve, breeds dependency. It also contributes to wealth inequality, and tragically the blame is placed on free markets and liberty as the cause rather than understanding how the problems are created by the government and its economic policies. The worse the problems get the louder the demands become for “fairness” in the redistribution of goods which of course have to be first stolen from one group to give to another.
This attitude breeds discontent and contributes significantly to the turmoil in our inner cities as the contest between those demanding entitlements are pitched against the militarized police. The militarization of the police of recent years contributes significantly to the problem which prompts those who are dependent to lobby the politicians to fight for their share of the wealth while at the same time the economic pie is shrinking. Rarely is there ever a demand for independence, self-reliance, and free markets — instead it’s for more welfare redistribution for which the recipients believe they are entitled and have a right to. Of course all of this contributes to further wimpiness of our society.
Sociopaths, those without scruples, appear tough but this only compensates for their own inadequacies and fear. They believe the military can provide “the manliness” they seek. They’re convinced they are showing strength and superiority over others yet the real problem is their own lack of confidence. The more inadequate they feel, greater is the need for aggression to prove their toughness. This is especially troublesome since our leaders are incapable of expressing regret or a wiliness to reconsider the policies that have caused so much harm. Without a conscience, they never suffer from PTSD.
This requires that they ridicule, badger and discredit anyone with enough self-confidence and self-esteem that does not require artificial “strength” achieved by bullying weaker nations or individuals by hiding behind the authoritarian force provided by government. It is this insecurity that drives the neoconservatives to depend on war for their sense of satisfaction. Actually they are wimps and afraid of their own shadow. They believe Al Qaeda exists under our bed and we’re about to be invaded. At least this is what they want the people to believe so they can pursue their bold militarism for their own psychological and special interest needs.
Since these are all false and unnecessary justifications for war, success is rare. Since World War II the wars have been essentially lost. Now bands of renegades are achieving military victories every place we go to promote regime change to teach people in faraway lands to adhere to democratic elections following our rules. If the candidate we support doesn’t win, no problem, we can then simply throw our support behind the next “regime change.”
Too often our fighting and spending money help our enemies and never serve our national security. It’s easy to frighten the people by stories of the attacks by ISIS yet they never mention countries like Saudi Arabia which practice sharia law and are not bashful about beheading citizens for even social and religious reasons. The fear and insecurity many Americans feel is encouraged by individuals seeking power and money.
The only answer to this is for the people to stand up to the truth that the real wimps are the ones who hide behind militarism and initiate needless wars. Confidence and strength of character to challenge forced redistribution of wealth is also necessary. An answer can be found in promoting the cause of liberty. The people unfortunately have been conditioned to believe that government violence both economic and military is a “tool” that serves the people. The job of the propagandists, for which there are many, is to convince the people that it’s all done for the purpose of helping them.
Unfortunately dependency destroys the soul, as well as the soul of a nation, by eliminating the satisfaction one gets from producing freely as an individual and assuming responsibility for oneself. And as this lack of self-confidence grows, so does the dependency on the state. Those who seek more government help to alleviate their sense of weakness and fear, conclude that it’s all the government’s fault for failing to provide society with enough security. Seeking more liberty is rarely seen as the answer to the people’s frustrations. Instead this produces a sense of victimization that results in demanding that government do more for those dependent who eagerly grant more power to the authoritarians.
Throughout history there have always been opportunities for the authoritarians to run roughshod over the people. A nation of wimps, dependent on the government for safety and security, opens the doors for the authoritarians who delight in satisfying their needs by controlling others and falsely believing in their own strength and wisdom. Soldiers fighting wars and bureaucrats passing out welfare are emboldened by a sense of satisfaction that they are serving a special purpose by providing the strength that the weak and helpless lack.
The problem is that these efforts are never helpful in dealing with the dependency of the weak. By accommodating the needy, who are all looking in the wrong places for satisfaction, the dependency only gets worse. The solution can only come from understanding the significance of practicing self-reliance. This cannot come from government. If it does not come from within us, it will only lead to frustration and a greater desire to foolishly give up more liberty for safety and security. Those who are dependent will continue to seek security in the entitlement system and “strength” from a national endorsement of the warrior state.
The politicians are well attuned to the desires of those whose weakness encourages them to become dependent on government largesse. Polling is key to the politician’s success in responding to the demands and expectations of those who are no longer self-reliant.
Everyone is aware that a thug with a gun used to satisfy his personal needs or demands is a criminal. Politicians and armies in a dependent society, who use guns to wage war and forcibly redistribute wealth at will, are “criminals” as well. This is not only true for many of the poor who have become dependent. Business interests, especially in the midst of a crisis, are always looking to the government for favors with financial bailouts, targeted regulations, special contracts as we see in the military-industrial complex, and in the many benefits banks get from our monetary system.
A predictable consequence of Keynesian economic policy is the development of structural poverty which affects even those desirous of independence and self-reliance but are more or less forced to listen to the promises of the politicians who claim they have an answer for their needs. All political factions are anxious to take care of the people but they do nothing more than create more dependency and a poorer nation.
It seems at this time that the task is overwhelming because more people become dependent on the state and as they do they become more fearful of the future. The only solution for this is to get the people to understand the principles of liberty and the positive results thereof. This cannot work unless we reinstitute the work ethic instead of allowing the lobbyists and big money to run the system.
The solution has to be found in peaceful resistance to the policies of government benevolence, which were supposed to solve our problems. Dependency on government force in redistribution of wealth and militarism around the world as a source of strength has to end. The people have to come to realize that real strength comes from resisting the status quo that preaches the doctrine of a command society, and to recognize that insecurity drives many Americans to support wars that are expensive and futile.
Depending on militarism and promotion of Empire to compensate for weakness and dependency is not an answer. We must raise up a generation of individuals who are not frightened and embarrassed to support the natural instinct for peace, love, and friendship. Wars do little to provide strength of character for individuals who do not understand why we’re in the mess that we find ourselves today. Not only should we insist that the government not lie to us, we should stop lying to ourselves as well. This means that there should be no more glorification of war and using the military personnel as a source of our confidence and strength. This can only come by living in a free society
Summary: The prevailing attitude of the American people today reflects weakness, fearfulness, and dependency. In general, confidence and self-reliance has been lost.
Government failure, false promises, bad economic policy has contributed greatly to this condition. Human nature also is a major contributor to this sense of hopelessness. It is not unnatural to accept unearned benefits when trouble begins. We as a nation have grown to believe that government redistribution of wealth, through force, is a right and an entitlement. Sadly, hard work, savings, production, sound economy, and honest money are of little interest to most Americans.
True sense of worth can only come from productive effort. When people become overly dependent on government redistribution of wealth, true happiness and satisfaction is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. There is little personal satisfaction when individuals become addicted to government “benefits” which actually worsen the conditions and increase the fear that the future does not bode well for us. This only provides the incentive and the need to expand the welfare/warfare state
The cycle, once it has started, sets the stage for the continued erosion of liberty and in spite of the fact that the people become unhappy, poor and angry, they blame government for not doing enough to take care of them. Under these conditions the demagogues in and out of government thrive. The social and economic philosophers, politicians, power seekers, and powerful special interests all step forth with solutions that only serve their interests and not the interests of the people who are on the receiving end of bad policy. It is their use of the “wimps” to enhance their agenda that becomes a full-time job in Washington. The weak are conditioned to believe the lies and promises about both domestic and international affairs. Only individual liberty and the principles of a Republic offer us any hope.
Is the American dream dead? Once it was characteristic of most Americans to believe in the American dream. That meant there was a strong conviction that everyone had an equal opportunity to achieve any goal they sought with hard work and effort. They believed in the work ethic and that determination would ultimately pay off. Achieving the American dream was thought to be a result of hard work.
Today there are still a lot of people who believe in the American dream but too often they are individuals who have recently left countries much poorer than ours and are hopeful that with hard work and effort they too can have a better life for themselves here. It is proven by many who come to this country — both illegal and legal — that they bring with them a work ethic that has become difficult to find in Americans who have become dependent on the “the American dream” being delivered to them by government action and corporate favoritism.
Many Americans have come to the conclusion that hard work and effort is no longer rewarded due to the many obstacles put in their way by an overly intrusive government. And it is for this reason that the numbers are growing of those individuals anxious to expatriate and go to other countries where they believe that their work and effort will not be diminished as they are in our country today.
The majority of the American people unfortunately have accepted the idea that it is necessary to be aggressive and dependent and driven by fearfulness to survive in a political-economic culture that rewards political action and lobbying for success rather than being rewarded for hard work and effort. Because of this, most policies in Washington are designed to accommodate this culture. Even though government policy has been the main contributor to the problems we face and the destruction of the American dream, the majority is still supporting the idea that more activism by the government to intervene in our lives and in the economy is the solution.
Welfare demands drive a lot of politicians to continuously redistribute wealth out of a desire for fairness with a policy that does the opposite. The zeal for patriotism and for the support of America’s greatness makes the electorate overly anxious and willing to support militarism which has done such great harm to us as a nation and to our moral character.
Even though the majority of the American people reflect a philosophy of the past hundred years that promoted dependency and foreign entanglements, a large number of citizens are now recognizing that it has been a failed policy. However difficult this may be to overcome, it does not mean that our policies can’t be reversed. More accurately we’re probably in a transition period, and even though many are frightened by change, support for a philosophy based on liberty and peace is gaining in acceptance.
There are signs on the horizon that the American people are awakening and once again are beginning to understand what the American dream was all about and how our politicians and our culture of dependency has led us astray. The intellectuals of the past century were very supportive of these views that gave credibility to both the domestic welfare programs as well as the international intervention that has given us so many needless and wasteful wars.
The good news is that the intellectual framework that is now developing in our society is advocating a different sentiment for the American people. One day if enacted it will reignite the idea of self-reliance and emphasize that by hard work people can get ahead and do better economically rather than by depending on a government that has driven us into bankruptcy. Hardly has the educational system been enhanced by $1.3 trillion in student debt which is now currently being defaulted on — all we have to show for it is a large number of graduates not well trained and without jobs available.
Something different is required than depending on government controlled education. Thankfully it’s available in the growing interest in home and private schooling. The Internet provides the vehicle for spreading the answer to the mess created by the authoritarian’s false promises to provide safety and security by sacrificing liberty.
The good news is that we’re well on our way to raising up a new generation that understands the dangers and the limits on the system that we have today and are anxious to promote and support the ideas of liberty. That is where the answers will be found.
Libertarians have long argued that an aggressive U.S. foreign policy results in blowback — acts of terrorism designed to avenge real or perceived assaults by the U.S.
The political class has long sneered at this argument. Your friends may even have accused you of hating America whenever you’ve used this line of reasoning. But now, the tables are turning.
Politicians are responding to the recent CIA torture report in ways that justify the blowback theory. This gives you a powerful new argument to defend your position. The article below explains this development. Read it, and if you like it, do three things…
Do politicians now agree that an aggressive U.S. foreign policy causes blowback?
By Jim Babka
The recently released CIA torture report has caused the WARfare statists to contradict themselves.
In the previous decade, if you said that blowback explained 911, then you were accused of justifying or even siding with terrorists. Here’s Rudy Guiliani, in 2007, so-accusing Ron Paul and garnering wild applause: http://youtu.be/cQrwKr_b4Lg
After the release of the CIA torture memo, we learn that blowback is very REAL. Dick Cheney and his pals are claiming that these reports increase the danger of a response by al Qaeda or ISIS or whoever the fear-based flavor of the week may be. In other words…
The torture report also informed us that the CIA torture architects didn’t even read their own agency history on this subject. So this might come as a surprise to them and their fans…
The CIA actually coined the term blowback.
Blowback means an unintended consequence rebounding from a covert act. It’s simply a fancy word for revenge. But…
Because so many of the acts that lead to blowback are covert, U.S. citizens are often confused about why the U.S. has been targeted. Here’s an example…
When Iranian revolutionaries seized the U.S. embassy in 1979, most Americans had no idea why our embassy had been targeted. But every Iranian citizen knew. Our embassy had been used to stage a CIA coup against Iran’s democratic government in 1953. The infamous Iranian hostage crisis was simply blowback for that previous act of covert aggression by U.S. agents.
This is the kind of history that most libertarians know, but most other Americans don’t know. Now…
It must become widely known that the idea of blowback was NOT invented by libertarians. It was a word coined by the CIA itself, to name a very REAL problem.
And the risk of blowback is growing! That’s what happens when you torture people. Their allies and loved ones tend to want revenge. And the warfare statists, like Dick Cheney, are now making it clear that they understand this too. You can further judge this by the CIA’s own actions…
If torture actually protected America, if it brought no risk of blowback, then the CIA should be PROUD of its work. It should be willing to trumpet what it did and what was gained from it. They should use it as a “deterrent” to would-be terrorists. Instead…
Jose Rodriguez, the former Chief of the CIA’s Clandestine Service — the man who created the torture program — destroyed the video tapes of the torture proceedings, rather than share them with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
Why? Wasn’t he proud of his work? Didn’t he want Congress to see what he had done to protect America?
Rodriguez explained his action to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday (12/14). He destroyed the videos because…
“My intention… was to protect the people who work for me and whose faces were shown all over those tapes. I was concerned for their safety. I knew the tapes would leak some day and I was concerned that al Qaeda would try to go after them and their families. That was the reason that I destroyed the tapes.”
BLOWBACK! Then, he went on to say…
“There was a second reason, and that was that I was concerned about the survivability of the clandestine service because I knew that once the tapes leaked, the mainstream media would not make a distinction between a legal program as the one that we had, and programs like Abu Ghraib.”
In other words, there was nothing to celebrate. Rodriquez is admitting that his work wouldn’t survive the scrutiny of natural human empathy. Nearly all of us recognize each other’s humanity. It might take a bit of time, but eventually, we even recognize the humanity of our enemies. Rodriquez clearly understood what would happen if you and your neighbors had a chance to see his work. You would’ve been revolted. You would have wanted a more American approach.
Worse, in a slap to so-called “representative government,” Rodriguez looked at the Senate Intelligence Committee and did his best Colonel Jessup imitation, “You can’t handle the truth!”
It would be more appropriate to say that Mr. Rodrigues can’t handle YOU knowing the truth.
And now the warfare establishment, which claimed NOT to believe in blowback before, is telling us that we risk blowback. Why? Because the torture report was shared with the American people.
In other words, the warfare establishment is admitting that blowback is real, and that our aggressive actions do lead to retaliation. Well…
We libertarians knew that all along. And we’ve long promoted the proper solution to this problem…
If you don’t want people to tread on you, then don’t tread on others.
Don’t initiate force against people.
Reserve force for defensive purposes only, but even then, don’t defend yourself in a way that creates new enemies.
So here’s the takeaway…
The CIA invented the term blowback and Dick Cheney now admits blowback is a real danger.
That means, when we do bad things to others, others do bad things to us.
Specifically, in this case, when our so-called “government” tortures non-Americans, those non-Americans may someday return the favor or gain revenge in some other way. As we judge, so shall we be judged.
Encourage a Golden Rule foreign policy, where we treat others the way we want to be treated.
1. The Libertarian Party supports all of your freedoms, all of the time
2. The Libertarian Party is consistent and principled
3. Voting for old party politicians tells them that you want to keep government big
4. Voting Libertarian is the only clear message you can send
5. Voting Libertarian forces the old parties to take the libertarian positions
6. Because the old parties don’t want you to
7. Voting Libertarian helps your favorite “libertarian-leaning“ old party politician
For great explanations to each of these reasons, click the link above or here.