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Shoving Match: Biden Pushes Around China and Russia

After killing and displacing millions of people—and wasting trillions of dollars—in the Middle East our imperial apparatchiks picked concurrent fights with Russia and China. Joe Biden’s military budget is the highest Americans have ever seen and yet it is never enough to satisfy the imperial Congress. Biden has been heating up America’s Cold Wars, but now they may soon be getting hot. Biden and his hawks are playing with fire.

On Thanksgiving, eyeing Russia, the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet sailed yet another warship, a guided missile destroyer, the USS Arleigh Burke into the Black Sea. At the beginning of November, the U.S. sent two warships to these waters—the destroyer USS Porter and the command and control ship USS Mount Whitney—they have only just exited the area. These warships are operating with America’s NATO allies, integrating their surface and air forces, running military exercises, and otherwise preparing for war on Russia’s very doorstep.

As Ron Paul has noted, these hostile provocations would be unthinkable if conversely Russia was drilling for war off the Texas coast or the Gulf of Mexico. However, this year there has been an almost constant presence of American warships in the Black Sea.

This month, U.S. Strategic Command’s Global Thunder exercise saw nuclear capable warplanes, strategic bombers, flying within 12.4 miles of the Russian border and simulating a nuclear attack. According to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu American bomber activity near his country’s borders has increased 2.5 times compared to last year. There have been 30 such flights this month.

The Biden administration is reportedly planning another large weapons transfer to America’s partner, Ukraine’s Nazi infested coup regime. It is also is engaged in a proxy war with Russia. In the Donbas, since the late Obama years, Kiev has been waging war against ethnic Russians in the who refused to be ruled by the anti-Russian, U.S. backed government. After Kiev deployed ultra-right, neo Nazi militias against these restive populations, Russia began supporting their resistance. The war has killed well over 10,000 people. Notably, in 2015, a referendum was held and the people of the Donbas voted to join the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin refused the request. Since the 2014 coup, U.S. military aid to Ukraine has greatly exceeded $2 billion. This newly proposed package apparently includes stinger missiles, mortars, and more Javelin anti-tank missiles. In addition to U.S. aid, Ankara has been selling Ukraine the Turkish Bayraktar combat drones. Along with the new weapons, the Americans may soon be deploying military “advisors” to Ukraine. The Russians say the Ukrainians are already working in conjunction with U.S. and NATO advisors. Washington has been accusing Russia of a military build-up near Ukraine with the intent to invade, Russia denies this and says the inflamed tensions are the fault of NATO and their aggressive actions. Now an American State Department official is saying “all options are on the table” for dealing with Russia, an unveiled threat of war.

Things are not much better with China. For the 11th time this year, the U.S. just sailed a warship through the Taiwan Strait. It has been revealed as well that, compared to the previous year, the U.S. has more than doubled the presence of spy planes surrounding China. There have been more than 2,000 such flights this year over the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea. Biden continues to say the U.S. is committed to defending Taiwan, which is directly contradictory to 40 plus years of Washington’s official “strategic ambiguity” policy. Tsai Ing-wen, the hawkish Taiwanese President, is boasting in major media about the island’s U.S. troop presence. China, along with much of the world, considers Taiwan a part of China. The U.S. still does not recognize Taiwan and officially adheres to the One China policy. This means Washington is deploying troops to Chinese territory to prepare the island’s armed forces for war with the mainland. Such a war would send the world economy into a tailspin, destabilize all of Asia, and surely go nuclear including possibly in continental American cities.

In addition to demanding more welfare for the Pentagon, the legislative branch is demanding the Constitution be formally eschewed, specifically Article 1, Section 8 which plainly states that it is Congress whom must declare war. Should Beijing attack Taiwan, lawmakers from both parties are demanding Biden assume illegal war powers to swoop in and defend the island “immediately.”

This is, in essence, a rubber stamp pre-authorization for a war that must never be fought.

The U.S. is further nuclearizing the Asia Pacific region with the AUKUS military pact, newly formed between Washington, London, and Canberra. The U.S. will provide nuclear submarine technology to Australia whose government is following America’s lead and wants to encircle China with attack submarines. These will be substantially more lethal, less detectable, and much faster than the French diesel-powered subs the Aussies were originally poised to purchase. These subs already seriously undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty as they run on 90%+ enriched uranium, weapons grade levels. Australia’s Defense Minister says it is “inconceivable” that if Beijing moved against Taiwan they would not join the U.S. defense coalition.

These nuclear subs are officially not armed with nuclear weapons. However, China cannot simply trust that that is true just because the would be belligerents preparing for an attack say so.

As Professor Noam Chomsky recently warned,

One U.S. submarine can destroy almost 200 cities anywhere in the world with its nuclear weapons. The United States is sending a fleet of nuclear submarines to Australia, that’s the AUKUS deal…The right measure is not increasing provocation, increasing the threat of an accidental development, which could lead to devastating, even virtually terminal nuclear war. But that’s the direction the Biden administration is following.

With all life hanging in the balance, Americans are not paying attention to how often their criminal ruling class militarily goads Moscow and Beijing. Quite the contrary, the American people are usually eager to parrot dumbed down, fearmongering talking points about the Russians and the Chinese. Tragically, when it comes to foreign affairs propaganda, even the element in the U.S. populace that rightfully distrusts and despises government tyranny at home, is all too inclined to give this same lying and murderous institution the benefit of the doubt.

As a result of disastrous economic policies largely put in place to support the endless war establishment, America is in decline. As we move rapidly into a multipolar world, the U.S. Empire is being continually disabused of its neoconservative “unipolar moment” fantasies. America is picking drunken closing time brawls it cannot possibly win.

In September, Pat Buchanan issued his own dire warning,

And, regularly now, U.S. planes stationed in Alaska scramble to intercept Russian military aircraft. This year, the number of intercepts, 14, is on pace to set a record since the Cold War. In the most recent case, two Russian bombers and two fighters came within 30 miles of the Alaskan coast.

This summer, Russian naval vessels came within 34 miles of Hawaii.

Russian ships and planes off Alaska are perhaps responding to US warships and planes in the Black Sea.

World War II began in Europe when the British, Sept. 3, 1939, declared war on Germany over its invasion of Poland to retrieve what Berlin claimed were its territories, including Danzig, taken from Germany at Versailles against the will of the people of Danzig and in violation of their right of self-determination.

If World War III breaks out between China and the U.S., it is likely to be over islands of Asia claimed by China, with the U.S. fighting not for its own territory but for the island territory of allies, probably islands in no way vital to the security of the United States.

Which is how world powers often end their days as world powers, fighting unnecessary wars on behalf of other nations.

As a result of the ramped up culture war—as the American Empire’s war pigs dance on the edges of Russia and China’s red lines—our people are divided, indeed committed to attacking, killing, beating, locking down, force vaccinating, robbing, and hating each other. In our lifetimes, we may well see the return of conscription, millions upon millions of unnecessary deaths, as well as the use of nuclear weapons.

It’s not too late to stop this, but rational people must demand no wars with Russia and China.

Enough already, we need to get our military to return home and stay there now.

Poland vs. European Union: A Battle of Political Sovereignty

Across the pond, Poland and the European Union find themselves deadlocked over a question about judicial primacy. In early October, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal sparked controversy when it ruled that EU law does not supersede national legislation.

At stake in the EU-Poland legal dispute, was Poland’s decision in 2018 to rein in its judiciary and establish a disciplinary chamber to remove judges. Before these reforms were undertaken, the Polish judiciary was largely viewed as corrupt and inefficient, possessing vestigial features of the previous Communist order, when Poland was a member of the Warsaw Pact. What initially started out as a mundane domestic reform soon transformed into an international controversy.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) took exception to Poland’s reforms and ruled that EU law takes precedence over Polish law. The ECJ’s ruling did not deter Poland, though. Back in March, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki brought the case before the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, subsequently leading to the Polish tribunal’s controversial ruling in October. Following the October ruling, the EU commission had choice words for Poland’s superior court and reaffirmed its EU-law-über-alles stance.

Possessed by a universalist spirit, the EU ramped up the pressure on Poland by slapping it with a daily fine of €1 million euros (slightly over $1.1 million) until the Law and Justice (PiS, Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) government modifies its judicial legislation to align with EU standards.

The Poles remain intransigent. They know what is at stake. Having gone through a series of partitions in the late eighteenth century in addition to being placed under the Soviet Union’s thumb via the Warsaw Pact in the twentieth century, Poles’ skepticism toward supranational entities and hostile external actors is justified. The former Soviet satellite will not compromise on its sovereignty both as a matter of principle and national identity.

The current tension between Poland and the European Union offers a glimpse of the new kinds of struggles nation-states are confronting in contemporary times. The erosion of national sovereignty is becoming the norm throughout the West as governments grow and political planners find every way possible to build superstates. The EU represents the most significant trial run of such a utopian project. Despite its failed attempts to create a United States of Europe so far, Eurocrats remain committed to their fantastical vision.

The biggest obstacles central planners in Brussels face are the former Soviet satellite states, which have grown skeptical of the EU’s pie-in-the-sky project for the Old Continent. As the largest member of the Visegrad Group, Poland has established itself as an opposing pole to Brussels-style globalism.

Poland’s judiciary reforms are part of a broader set of populist measures that span restricting the resettlement of Middle Eastern migrants within Europe to standing up for traditional cultural norms that have irked the bien-pensants all the way from DC to Brussels. For its defiance of conventional Western political norms, Poland has earned the illiberal democracy label, accompanying its fellow Visegrad Group member Hungary in receiving this dubious distinction.

The curious thing about Poland’s fracas with the EU is that Poland doesn’t want to leave the EU, at least not for now. According to various Polish polling firms’ findings, support for leaving the EU has never exceeded 20 percent. Since joining the EU in 2004, Poles have generally held the supranational union in high esteem. Further, Poland heavily relies on intra-EU trade for its exports. Trade with EU members accounts for 80 percent of Polish total exports. Even Prime Minister Morawiecki reiterated that a “Polexit” is not in the cards at the moment.

However, political intentions can change. Eurocrats fail to recognize that the EU’s initial popularity was predicated on reasonable benefits such as free trade between member states, liberalized travel within the EU, and greater diplomatic integration to prevent the kinds of fratricidal wars that devastated the Old Continent during the first half of the twentieth century. The 2016 Brexit vote showed the world that the EU’s power is not yet monolithic and that with the right amount of political will, EU member states can go their separate ways.

The more the EU micromanages Polish internal affairs and punishes Poland for the simple act of exercising sovereignty, the more likely it is to entertain the idea of exiting the EU altogether—a potentially devastating blow to the Eurocrats’ quixotic political project.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

The Gaslighting Government

The film Gaslight (1944), directed by George Cukor and starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, relays the story of a con artist, Sergis Bauer, who under the assumed name of Gregory Anton seduces and marries a young woman, Paula Alquist. The smitten bride has no idea that her charming husband murdered her aunt, Alice Alquist, who left behind a home in London where a cache of priceless jewels is stashed somewhere in the attic. The newlyweds move into the home, which Paula has inherited, and the husband proceeds to dig through the contents of the attic in an impassioned effort to locate the jewels. In order to accomplish this aim, he must keep his wife inside the house while he goes out at night, ostensibly to work in his studio. Instead, he reenters the attic of the house from an alley entrance.

While rummaging around upstairs, directly above his wife’s head, Bauer makes noises, and his use of a lamp causes the gaslight downstairs to flicker, naturally raising questions in his wife’s mind. He quells her concerns about what is going on by persuading her to believe that her perceptions are mere figments of her imagination and indeed evidence that she is going mad. To bolster this claim, he takes down paintings and hides them, after which he insists that she was the one to have moved them, despite having no memory of having done so. The criminal comes very close to having his wife committed to an insane asylum, at which point he would be free to search the entire house without raising any suspicions whatsoever, because she will be out of the picture. Just in the nick of time, the scheme is thwarted by the arrival on the scene of a hero (played by Joseph Cotten) to save the day.

The term gaslighting has come to refer thus to the phenomenon by which people are systematically persuaded to question their own perceptions of reality. It is a tactic deployed by sociopaths and psychological abusers who persuade docile people to accept whatever they say, no matter how preposterous, and no matter how much it conflicts with the deliverances of their very own senses. Such psychological manipulators are greatly aided in this endeavor through their persuasion of other people to agree with their version of what is going on.

Governments which exert influence over the mainstream media are quite adept at this sort of manipulation, as is well-illustrated by the build up to every war. Those who oppose bombing campaigns are portrayed as cowards and traitors, if not miscreants, by war profiteers, who remarkably persuade much of the populace of the necessity of military intervention, despite the fact that it will kill innocent civilians who have nothing whatsoever to do with the behavior of the leaders said to necessitate recourse to war. Gross injustices are in this way portrayed as not only permissible and just, but also obligatory.

The gaslighting tactic was equally well illustrated by the U.S. government’s response to the revelation that illegal mass surveillance had been undertaken against the entire population. Rather than expressing compunction for the crimes committed, those responsible instead insisted that no one was really looking at any of the data anyway. This line was further bolstered by cries throughout the media that “Innocent people have nothing to hide!” The scandal was shortly thereafter forgotten by much of the populace whose right to privacy had been violated by their very own government.

Similarly, when Wikileaks published the Collateral Murder video depicting civilians, including Reuters journalists, executed point blank from an Apache helicopter by the U.S. military, people all over the world were naturally appalled. The powers that be responded to the public uproar by vowing to investigate. But they ultimately concluded that no crime had been committed, for the soldiers had acted in accordance with their rules of engagement. In other words, if you thought that you were witnessing with your very own eyes the unthinkable murder of civilians on film, you were wrong, according to the gaslighting government. Likewise, when the U.S. government defined dead suspects as dead terrorists, by labeling them Enemy Killed in Action (EKIA), even when located outside areas of active hostilities, they effectively decreed that they could use lethal drones to kill anyone anywhere for any reason. Having been told by the gaslighting government that everything done in their name was intended to keep them safe, the populace generally acquiesced to this usurpation even of citizens’ rights to a fair trial before being summarily executed at the caprice of bureaucrats.

Predictably enough, given the precedents already set by the U.S. government, when ten civilians were killed by a Reaper drone in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 29, 2021, the Pentagon concluded their investigation of the case by claiming that they had committed no crimes in destroying those people, seven of whom were children. But that was only because they had not violated the laws of war rewritten by none other than themselves and, again, according to which anyone can be killed at any time for any reason, provided only that the government has determined that this should be done.

These examples underscore the fact that political power once captured is rarely ceded and progressively expands in the absence of resistance, a principle equally well illustrated by the handling of the COVID-19 crisis by governments the world over. Entire populations have been kept in a continuous state of uncertainty, never knowing what they will be forbidden from doing next. Vaccine passports, following the trajectory of circular stickers on floors, have swept through the First World, having been taken up in Israel, Canada, and throughout Europe, in addition to cities such as New York and Los Angeles, with millions of citizens now denied the right to socialize, use public transportation, go shopping, work, drive, or lead any semblance of a normal life without first presenting their health credentials. In Australia, healthy people in the Northern Territory who have been in contact with persons who tested positive for COVID-19 are being sent to quarantine camps.

Fear and uncertainty are powerful tools by which to gain, retain and augment government control because everything that officials do is claimed to benefit their constituents. Whether it is the war on terror or the current health crisis, all bureaucrats everywhere sincerely profess to be doing no more and no less than trying to protect their compatriots’ lives. That’s the standard refrain, rehearsed each time a new policy or intervention is imposed, or a civil liberty stripped away. There is no need to assess the consequences of well-intended initiatives, because the docile populace charitably permits government officials to plod along with their failed policies, no matter what they do—even when they kill citizens themselves. That was how the fiasco in Afghanistan dragged on for two decades, and that is why even when the Fool’s Errand was at last recognized for what it was by people in the position to effect change, a number of pundits and politicians protested in response, insisting that pulling out was a mistake.

As in the case of the many liberty-restricting measures adopted throughout the Global War on Terror, the attempt by governments to force their citizenry to subject to serial injections of novel substances into their bodies is said by supporters to be intended only to protect them. All across the globe, arbitrary punishments are being exacted against those who refuse to comply, this despite the ongoing protests by thousands of people for months on end in countries such as France and Australia, where the protesters obviously have not dropped dead from their failure to comply with public health measures, whether masking, vaccination or social distancing.

The government of Austria recently announced that all of its unvaccinated population would be locked down. Shortly thereafter, the lockdown was extended to cover vaccinated persons as well. It seems likely that this was a part of the gaslighting government’s general strategy to demonize the unvaccinated as the cause of the loss of the freedom of the vaccinated, under the assumption that the latter would increase pressure on the former to comply. Ratcheting up their campaign to vaccinate every citizen, the Austrian government has further announced a hefty 7,200 Euro fine to be extracted from those who persist in resisting.

The polarization of people into two antithetical groups, the vaccinated and the so-called antivaxxers, has been very effective in shutting down nearly all debate into serious questions regarding the efficacy of COVID-19 public health policies. When case numbers surge, this is immediately blamed upon the unvaccinated, as is the appearance of each new variant, even though a number of virologists maintain that the decision to vaccinate the entire population during a pandemic (rather than waiting some time) itself led to the creation of new variants, as the virus fought to survive in vaccinated hosts by wriggling its way around the spike protein antibodies created in response to the mRNA injections.

Because fully half of the population persists in a state of manifest terror at the prospect of death by virus, the major challenge today for free people has become to defend our shrinking liberties from governments which have clearly been captured by pro-Big Pharma forces. It is stunning that so many people have been persuaded to believe that they should do whatever Pfizer wants them to, despite the company’s well-documented history of malfeasance and fraud. Only the climate of fear and uncertainty continuously cultivated by media outlets (sponsored by Pfizer!) and government spokespersons can explain this group behavior phenomenon, which exhibits many characteristics of religious cults. It goes without saying that cult leaders are exemplary gaslighters, for their followers occupy a world of the cult leader’s creation. New Normal, anyone?

Cults are created and flourish in a climate of fear and/or uncertainty. A self-proclaimed special leader with unique access to The Truth arrives on the scene to magnanimously offer himself to a group of people as the solution to the dire situation. In the United States, gaslighter par excellence Dr. Anthony Fauci has become the go-to guru, despite having repeatedly issued contradictory guidance on everything from masks to lockdowns to travel bans to natural immunity to virus origin and the wisdom of mandatory vaccination. When confronted with his contradictions, Fauci has claimed that he lied for the good of the people. In fact, none of this behavior is surprising, because the way in which cult leaders maintain control of their groups is by continually rehydrating the very sense of uncertainty and fear which led people to join in the first place.

One of the most graphic uses of gaslighting by public health officials has been their utter refusal to acknowledge the reality of natural immunity through previous infection. There is no other case of a disease known to humankind and for which a vaccine exists, where previously infected and fully recovered people are exhorted to undergo vaccination. That’s because vaccines are specifically designed to provoke a response from the immune system. Vaccines incite the production of antibodies and T-cells which protect a person from the invasion of a virus. If the immune system did not protect infected people, then they would all be dead. Instead, 99% of people who contract COVID-19 survive, clearly demonstrating the efficacy of natural immunity. Most significantly, if the human immune system could not hold its own against a virus, then no vaccine designed to jolt the human immune system into fighting that same virus could possibly be effective. It is a case of gaslighting extraordinaire to claim that the immune system will only work if one is vaccinated with an elixir whose efficacy depends on the ability of the immune system to work.

A second, and equally remarkable, case of gaslighting occurred in the initial marketing campaign for the mRNA products, when representatives of the product companies exuberantly claimed that the vaccines offered up to 95% efficacy against severe illness and death, which was a protection already enjoyed naturally by the vast majority of the population pre-vaccine, because they were never vulnerable to serious illness from the virus in the first place. Having been persuaded to believe in the manifestly preposterous conjunction that natural immunity is worthless, and mRNA “vaccines” reliant for their efficacy on natural immunity are necessary, much of the populace stands ready to accept nearly any other contradiction which comes their way, even when it entails the surrender of their civil liberties.

Leaders continue to spout out absurdities such as: “We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers,” and the gaslighting government has been relentless in its quest to persuade skeptical citizens that their perceptions of what is going on are all wrong. Parents who worry that their children are being harmed by mask requirements which reduce oxygen flow to their brains, and prevent them from learning appropriate behavior through reacting to facial cues, have been told by the gaslighting government (Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary) that masks are just like “hair ribbons.” Those who wonder whether financial interests (such as stock holdings and patent ownership) might possibly influence bureaucrats’ policy recommendations are shutdown as “conspiracy theorists”. Obviously there is no merit to the idea that nonvaccine therapies were proscribed for the simple reason that Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the experimental vaccines required that there be no alternative therapies available. That’s just another conspiracy theory, according to the gaslighting government.

The list of ideas which fly in the face of commonsense but are fully embraced by true believers is amazing to behold. Clearly it makes perfect sense to require healthy people to undergo experimental medical interventions with unknown longterm side effects. There is nothing wrong with requiring healthy people to submit to medical treatments as a condition on their current and future employment, even though the treatment in question does not prevent transmission of or infection by the disease whose symptoms it is designed to moderate. It is perfectly logical to prevent people from traveling from one country to another where the rate of infection is even worse than the country of origin. The government is better situated to determine which medications a patient should ingest than is the patient’s own doctor. There is nothing at all alarming about the government sending out the vaccine police to ensure compliance with what public health officials believe should be the treatment of healthy people, despite knowing nothing about their medical history or circumstances. It is perfectly fine to mandate that healthy people undergo experimental injections while protecting the manufacturers from legal repercussions in the event of adverse effects up to and including death. Cloth masks have no prophylactic benefit against viruses whose size is smaller than the pores of the cloth, but people should be required to wear them anyway. Health passports do not prevent infection and transmission, because the “vaccines” which they document do not prevent infection and transmission, but people should nonetheless be required to have them in order to be able to participate in society. It is entirely normal for democratically elected leaders to upbraid their constituents and threaten them menacingly, proclaiming, “Our patience is wearing thin!” when they decline to take drugs for which they have no need.

The list goes on and on, and so long as the (for the most part) scientifically illiterate populace continues to bleat “Listen to The Science!” under the assumption that Fauci, a mere man, is the apotheosis of the enormous edifice of all scientific knowledge, then they will continue to accept new and arbitrary policies. The idea that lockdown, quarantine, masking and vaccination requirements will continue on until COVID-19 disappears from the face of the earth has been successfully insinuated into the minds of the Branch Covidians, even though “the virus” will continue to mutate, just as coronaviruses have always done.

Once lured into a gaslighter’s web, it becomes progressively more difficult for people to be debriefed as time goes on. They have invested, made sacrifices, and embraced a narrative which becomes more and more compelling, even in the face of conflicting evidence. Human nature is such that no one wants to admit that they were fooled. Accordingly, instead of blaming at least some of the millions of deaths of Americans throughout the pandemic on the poor policies with which they themselves complied, the followers of Fauci & Co. remain steadfast in their belief that the death toll would have been much worse had they not agreed to do whatever their local health authorities told them to.

For years, the companies in the mRNA therapy business were waiting to test their products on human beings and, with the sudden appearance of COVID-19, their opportunity at last arrived. Advocates of universal vaccination are by now so intransigent in their beliefs that they are not bothered in the least by evidence that males in the age cohort 12-17 years are at greater risk from myocarditis post-vaccination than from the virus itself while unvaccinated. The strident call to inoculate small children with next to no vulnerability to COVID-19 is equally perplexing. Before 2020, few people would have rallied to inject perfectly healthy children with experimental elixirs designed to protect other people from a virus to which the children themselves were not vulnerable. It is shocking that anyone would offer their children up as guinea pigs in what is manifestly an experimental trial for a product of which they have no need.

Impervious to statistical data which belies the story which they have been persuaded to believe, such as the relatively good outcomes in places such as Florida and Sweden, and the poor outcomes in California and New York, in addition to the “inexplicable” success story of largely unvaccinated Africa, where vaccine hesitancy is rife and many nonvaccine remedies have been widely used, the true believers continue to insist that Fauci’s decrees must be heeded. This despite the fact that the virus death toll of 2021 was greater than that of 2020, even after widespread uptake of the “vaccine” so vigorously promoted as the solution to the crisis.

Nonetheless, according to the gaslighting government, this is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” reinforcing in the minds of half the population that every single COVID-19 death is caused directly by the evil “antivaxxers” who decline the treatment. In fact, it has become increasingly clear that the virus is untameable and endemic, as data from highly vaccinated Israel and Gibralter strongly suggests. Ignorant of or impervious to this data, the “good” vaccinated are being told by their gaslighting governments that if they do not present themselves for booster shots at regular intervals (Britain recently shortened the period of eligibility from six to three months), then they, too, will number among the irresponsible unvaccinated killers.

In the face of crisis, leaders are inclined to follow the simple precept: Do something. Do anything, the false assumption being that inaction is always worse than action. Having once implemented new policies, leaders are protected by the inaccessibility of counterfactual outcomes, and they always insist that things would have been much worse, had they not done what they did. Educated people, however, are now well aware that the government’s Global War on Terror itself led to a groundswell of support for the originally quite small group of extremists known as Al Qaeda, and the creation of factional franchises which spread throughout the Middle East and Africa. Similarly, we know that many of the excess deaths over the course of the past two years were caused not by the COVID-19 virus but by the political policies imposed in response to it.

In some parts of the world the average age of persons killed by COVID-19 has been greater than the actuary tables would have predicted, had the virus never emerged. In contrast, the rise in suicides and drug overdoses among young people, most of whom were not even vulnerable to COVID-19, is most plausibly explained by the draconian political policies preventing them from living what should have been their carefree lives. Not unrelated to the destruction of thousands of small businesses caused directly by government lockdowns, homelessness has increased dramatically, as any inhabitant of a major U.S. city can attest, with the sobering existence of vast tent encampments filling the sidewalks in front of shuttered stores for blocks on end.

Meanwhile, as was predicted by critics back in 2020, strict lockdown and medical triage policies have had as a further tragic effect that people terrified of contracting what they were propagandized to believe was the Black Death were prevented, not only by their own fear, but also by policies postponing routine screenings, from seeking even necessary medical interventions such as chemotherapy and surgery. In the U.K. alone, an estimated 50,000 early cancer diagnoses were missed. Yet government leaders and their appointees have doubled down on their failed policies, despite all of the evidence that they have been blinded by a monomaniacal obsession with one cause of death to the exclusion of any other of the many problems in society. Disturbingly, some medical facilities now refuse to treat the unvaccinated, even for serious illnesses which may culminate in their deaths.

Dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers have confirmed the rational grounds for skepticism harbored by “noncompliant” citizens, but the gaslighting government plunders ahead undeterred. For they know that their devotees, having lived since 2020 in a state of profound uncertainty, terrified by what was made to seem the looming specter of their imminent death, will agree to anything, up to and including the usurpation of their bodily autonomy.

If you, Skeptical Citizen, reject The New Normal, then there is evidently something wrong with you. The very last thing which anyone should care about is whether the government itself caused the pandemic by funding the gain-of-function research used to create the COVID-19 virus.

SWAT Team Blew Up Old Woman’s House, Sent Her Bill for $50,000 Repairs

In July of last year, Vicki Baker, 75, was excited to move on to the next chapter of her life in Montana by selling her home she owned for 12 years in McKinney, Texas. That sale would never take place on schedule, however, because the day before she was supposed to close, a SWAT team destroyed it.

After destroying her home, Baker was told by local government that she was on the hook for the $50,000 bill to repair it. After fighting for a year, however, she may finally see some justice after a federal court ruled this month that Baker can sue for damages and get back some of the money it took her to undo the destruction caused by the cops.

“The court recognized that the city of McKinney is not exempt from the Constitution,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Jeffrey Redfern. “This is the first step towards Vicki getting her due, but it’s a big one. The government must compensate individuals when it deliberately destroys their property.”

“At the motion to dismiss stage, it would be imprudent to foreclose Baker’s ability to recover based on the shaky reasoning recited in non-binding cases from other circuits—especially when both the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court have alluded that a taking could result from destructive police power,” United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Judge Amos Mazzant III wrote in the decision to throw out the city’s motion to dismiss the case.

Baker’s nightmare started when she was out of town on July 25, 2020. Her daughter was home when a distraught construction worker—who had worked on the home before—decided to invade. Wesley Little, 50, had holed up in the home along with a 15-year-old girl he had abducted. When he came in the home, Vicki Baker’s daughter ran out, calling police in the process.

When police were contacted, Vicki asked them not destroy the home as she was closing on it the very next day. But they did not listen.

During the standoff, SWAT officers shot approximately 30 tear gas canisters into Baker’s property, blew up her garage door, and drove an armored vehicle over her fence.

Baker claims, and rightfully so, that cops went overboard on the damage they caused, completely disregarding any measures that could’ve limited the destruction to her home. For example, cops blew up her garage door to gain entry, despite being given a garage door opener.

As the Institute for Justice reports, the incident left Vicki in shock, too. When the smoke cleared, the home—which her daughter was living in and which was under contract to sell—was uninhabitable. The only living thing that survived the raid was her daughter’s dog, which was left deaf and blind from the explosions.

Though, Baker was in shock at the damage inflicted on her property, she took temporary solace in the fact that she didn’t cause the damage, so she wouldn’t be liable for it. Unfortunately, the comfort was short lived.

When she sought out compensation for the damage to her home, the city of McKinney and her homeowner’s insurance company told her that police had “immunity” and wouldn’t pay for a dime of the damage. A few days later, the buyer walked away and the sale fell through, according to IJ.

Vicki would go on to max out her credit cards to repair the damage—which was over $50,000—in order to sell the house in the winter. However, the sale was for far less money than the original contract back in July.

She then partnered with the Institute for Justice in a lawsuit against the city to sue them for damages caused by police to her home.

“In America, ‘if you break it, you buy it,’” said IJ Attorney Jeff Redfern at the time. “The McKinney SWAT team didn’t just break Vicki’s home—they destroyed it. Now it is time for them to pay for the damage they caused.”

“The United States and Texas Constitutions make it clear that when the government takes property, whether it’s for a road or in capturing a suspect on behalf of the public, the government must compensate the owner,” said Suranjan Sen, a Liberty and Law Fellow at the Institute for Justice. “Taking a fugitive off the streets benefits everyone, so the cost of the damages caused by the SWAT team should be borne by everyone, not Vicki alone.”

Citing the pending litigation, neither the McKinney police department nor the city would comment on the destruction of Vicki’s home.

“I appreciate that the police did what they thought was necessary to protect the community,” Baker said in a statement. “But it’s unfair to place the costs—replacing or redoing all of my flooring, the burst pipes, the damaged roof, the blown-out garage door, the broken doors, the toppled fence—on me, just because the guy happened to pick my house and not someone else’s.”

Luckily, for now, Baker may see some semblance of justice though the city will likely appeal this recent ruling.

“I’ve lost everything,” Baker told Reason last March. “I’ve lost my chance to sell my house. I’ve lost my chance to retire without fear of how I’m going to make my regular bills.”

While Vicki’s case is certainly shocking, it is not at all isolated. Just last September, Erika Pruiett in Denver had her home destroyed by SWAT. At the end of the raid, she and her baby were left homeless with no compensation.

As TFTP previously reported, a married couple claimed Fresno sheriff’s officers destroyed their house by using it as a training ground for a teargas-wielding SWAT team, 50 vehicles, two helicopters, a K-9 unit and a fire truck—because an unarmed homeless man had been found in their closet. Like Vicki, after attempting to seek compensation for their incredible loss for over 3 years, the Jessens were told last year that they can kick rocks, the government who destroyed their home, owes them jack squat.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

TGIF: Safety in Freedom

With the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, renewed restrictions on liberty or calls for their reinstatement have broken out around the world. The new wave is probably only beginning, and with it will surely come sermons on how we must face trade-offs between liberty and safety. This seems to be the new normal.

The usual justifications for this purported necessity always feel inadequate, with gaping holes in the case for expanding government power to extraordinary lengths. Since we all now have a good deal of experience with COVID under our belts, let’s hope that the public’s doubts about any new power grab will be strong and loudly expressed.

What brought this subject to mind was a recent Oxford Union debate, which I ran across on YouTube. While I’ve watched only a little, it quickly occurred to me that the case for a necessary trade-off between liberty and safety runs aground with the realization that liberty is a necessary condition for safety. After all, it’s not always clear how one can best stay safe in a situation: that requires thought, discourse, action, and therefore liberty.

Moreover, that matter is separate from the question of how safe any particular person may wish to be. Indeed, people have different preferences with respect to risk and safety in part because life is complicated and trade-offs are ubiquitous. Increasing one’s safety in some measure by abstaining from some desirable activity will likely require too big a sacrifice for some people, although for others the benefit will be well worth the cost. (A person cannot violate his own freedom.) So who’s to decide? Why should a faceless bureaucrat or a charismatic politician make the call?

Few people understand that there’s safety in liberty, specifically, the freedom to think, improvise, and innovate. This is true for individuals, but when the potential danger is social or global, the case for liberty is equally clear. That’s precisely when we all need many minds searching for solutions without central direction. Knowledge is dispersed, and no one can say who will have a key insight. Competition is the universal solvent. And to be effective, thinking requires freedom of action.

Matt Ridley and Julian Simon before him elaborated how we all benefit from the often unintentional combination of ideas generated in different and unlikely places. By now, the serendipity that freedom produces ought to be expected. The results often are imaginative approaches to vexing problems that few would have dreamed possible.

The case for giving up freedom to acquire a measure of safety is actually an appeal to trust in an anointed central authority. And that means a threat of force is at least implied.

But where is the actual safety in that arrangement? Why should anyone believe that the anointed know what they are doing? They operate in a centralized, bureaucratic environment. The rulers expect the ruled to behave like children who have been told that all will be fine if they obey. Unfortunately, the ruled often think of themselves as children when it comes to the latest risk proclaimed by their rulers.

So are people really safer than they would have been in a free, decentralized, and competitive environment? We find no evidence for this in places that imposed harsh restrictions on liberty in response to COVID-19. Lockdowns, vaccine and mask mandates, and travel bans show no signs of delivering on the politicians’ promises. There just is no good substitute for freedom at every level because no central authority is knowledgeable enough.

Finally, what about the risks that individuals might present to others and not just to themselves? There are big differences between 1) the potential risks to others that anyone may pose in simply going about the normal business of life and 2) the dangers produced by aggression, gross negligence, and inadvertent toxic pollution, where identifiable individuals entitled to due process can be shown to present demonstrable peril to others. For one thing, in the first case, people are not passive victims-in-waiting but generally informed agents capable of taking precautions against infection. Imagine the nightmare that would come from the principle that everyone in society may be viewed as a threat to everyone else merely by breathing. We don’t have to imagine it, do we? That’s how most governments throughout the world — blunt instruments that they are — responded to the pandemic. As a result, our livelihoods — our lives– are now subject to cancellation without notice.

(Photo credit: Dev Asangbam, Unsplash License)

All the Trouble in the World: The Ron Paul Doctrine

Daniel McAdams is executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and coproducer/cohost of the Ron Paul Liberty Report. Daniel served as the foreign affairs, civil liberties, and defense/intel policy advisor to US congressman Ron Paul from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993 to 1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, and traveled through the former Communist bloc as a human rights monitor and election observer. He has a BA in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and worked on an MA in international relations from San Francisco State University.

Jeff Deist: For any readers who are unfamiliar, tell us what the Ron Paul Institute is and what it does.

Daniel McAdams: We do three main things, Jeff. We publish every day three or four articles and they’re highly curated. We want to show people three or four things to think about. And we do the daily Ron Paul Liberty Report with Dr. Paul, Monday through Thursday with me as a cohost and Friday with Chris Rossini as the cohost. The other important part of what we do is conferences. We met this year to discuss the anniversary of Nixon’s closing the gold window. We had our normal Washington, DC, conference, which was our biggest conference ever. We also had the Ron Paul Scholars Seminar for upper-division undergrads and graduate students, essentially a foreign policy bootcamp. We had Thomas Massie, Phil Girardi, Jim Bovard, and Jacob Hornberger. The lineup was terrific, so it was a great event. We focus on foreign policy, but increasingly, these past two years, we’ve absolutely focused on civil liberties, given everything happening with covid.

JD: I had the opportunity to attend your Washington, DC, conference a month or so back and it definitely was eclectic. RFK Jr. [Robert F. Kennedy Jr.] talking about health freedom was really fascinating to me. Kudos to you and to Ron Paul because I think dollar for dollar the Ron Paul Institute punches well above its weight in terms of influence. The Ron Paul Liberty Report, of course, is a daily go-to for a lot of people.

DM: We’re encouraged that so many people tune in.

JD: Let’s touch briefly on your past. When I met you, you had been living in Europe for several years, in Hungary. I’m told you even had some neoconish tendencies at one point. Tell us about your background.

DM: Well, I don’t know that it was neoconish tendencies, really. When the Cold War ended, I had just finished up at UC Berkeley with a degree in English literature, which is, of course, as we all know, the most useful degree on earth, right? We’re in a recession in ’88 and I had an English degree. I had always wanted to do foreign affairs and politics but was not able to do it. So I decided to go back to grad school and study international relations, which in some ways was a dumb move, but in some ways it was a very fortuitous move, but not necessarily neocon.

When I went to Europe I watched the Clinton administration supporting the so-called Reform Communists, I was pretty naïve back then, I’ll admit it. I thought, These guys, they must not know what’s going on. They must not know the good guys and the bad guys. We have to support the good guys, not the guys that have been exploiting people for decades. A lot of it’s philosophical, Jeff, because there are two ways of looking at the Communist era. One is that it’s an aberration in history. It’s something that became unique, in a nonorganic, nonevolutionary way. If you look at it like the cancer that a lot of us believe it was, if you cut out that cancer, then you have two threads of history that are separated by several decades—in the Soviet Union’s case, many decades. The question is do you rejoin those threads of history and move on in sort of a social evolutionary manner or do you view the Communist era as a part of a normal evolution process, and not an aberration of history, but just another part of history? I had fallen clearly on the side of it being an aberration, of it being a cancer. I and a lot of the people, certainly in Hungary, that I worked with, people in the Hungarian Democratic Forum (which was the first party to win the elections after communism), they looked at the traditions of precommunism and wanted to revive a lot of those traditions. For the US embassy that was anathema. It suggested the dark days of anti-Semitism, which of course it wasn’t at all. It was a thousand years of Hungarian history. That’s the philosophical breaking point of how you view this sort of storyography of twentieth-century central and eastern Europe.

JD: While you lived in eastern Europe you worked with the British Helsinki Human Rights group. Talk about that—why are they controversial? The interventionist regime change types don’t seem to like them.

DM: No, they don’t and, of course, those regime change, democracy-for-all people are now firmly ensconced on our shores. This is something we called thirty years ago, twenty-five years ago. We saw this machine taking on a life of its own and eventually coming over to the West. I was exposed to the British Helsinki Human Rights group in a pretty simple way. I was at the time writing off and on for a newspaper called the Budapest Sun, which was the largest English-language paper in central and eastern Europe. I eventually became the editorial page editor. Early on I’d noticed there was a good conservative writer, Jonathan Sunley, a brilliant British scholar who had studied under Professor Norman Stone. We became friends. It turns out that Jonathan was involved with a group that was doing a lot of work in Hungary and who were skeptics of the received conventional wisdom there. A lot of it has to do with the last answer I gave, the view of history and the view of whether or not, if you or your family were involved in the implementation of communism, you have a right to remain in the vanguard of the change away from communism. And that’s of course, exactly what they all believed that they had the right to do. That’s why they’re the ones, to a large degree, who managed the transition. In Hungary it’s called the Rendszerváltás: the transition was managed by the same people who brought communism in.

I spent a brief period in the State Department in intelligence, and by pure happenstance I was handed the Albania account in the State Department’s Intelligence and Research division because the person who was doing it was following Czechoslovakia’s breakup very closely and didn’t have time for Albania. It just fell in my lap. I wrote several items for the Secretary of State’s Morning Summary briefing book just because nobody else wanted to do it. Then I was asked in 1996, Do you want to go to Vienna and testify at the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] and take a trip to Albania and see the coup that was beginning? I was invited to Vienna by like-minded people of the British Helsinki Group, and then it was off to the races.

JD: You returned to the US a year or so before 9/11 or thereabouts. What did you know about Ron Paul at the time, and how did you come to work for him as his foreign policy staffer?

DM: I mentioned in a speech I gave a couple of weeks ago my gateway drug was Justin Raimondo. It was through finding Justin and, I’m somewhat reluctant to say it now, but I was on a website back then (kiddies may not remember that there weren’t really websites as we know them now) called Free Republic. It was basically a right-wing site, wingnut site, which hated Clinton. I was not necessarily a right-winger, but I hated Clinton for a lot of reasons. There was this guy that kept putting his articles up on Free Republic and being absolutely pummeled by these right-wing wingnuts, but it never deterred him, and that was Justin Raimondo. He responded and responded and responded, and so I started reading Justin and I started realizing, of course, in the late ’90s, how right he was about what was happening in the Balkans because I was literally next door. It was through Justin, thank God, that I discovered Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul and so many of the other people who were saying the same thing. Indeed, it was thanks to Justin Raimondo that I started really questioning my idea that we’ve got to help the good guys because the bad guys are winning. And I started realizing that we should not be helping any guys, and that was my big revelation.

JD: At that point could you have imagined the Ron Paul revolutions of 2008 and 2012?

DM: No, not at all. In fact, at the time, it was a shock to me because I wasn’t awfully interested in politics. I was involved in Republicans Abroad and it was mostly a social club because I was trying to find a way to get some connections and make some dough. We did have the Gingrich Revolution when I was over there so I foolishly thought, Oh, the good guys are going to start doing really good things and, of course, I was wrong.

Then here’s this obscure Texas congressman who didn’t seem like a right-winger. I couldn’t peg him because I didn’t understand libertarianism at the time. I remember my father-in-law used to always say that he was libertarian and I didn’t know what it meant, except that he thought we shouldn’t be put in jail for drugs, which I disagreed with at the time. So no, I never could have foreseen it, even having worked for him for six or so years before the Ron Paul revolution took off. We were fighting rearguard actions, we were throwing metaphorical bombs into the machine to try to slow things up and to try to at least make some points. The idea that all of this would coalesce into a worldwide historic movement that will be written about and is written about in history books, it never would have really occurred to me at the time.

JD: During your years working for Dr. Paul he had a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Henry Hyde was chairman of that committee during some of those years. What was Ron’s impact on that committee? Why did they (the GOP leadership) let him have a spot on a committee dealing with foreign affairs?

DM: He was on the committee before I was hired. I had been writing for Lew Rockwell and Antiwar, and I think that’s what helped me. Our good friend Joe Becker, who’s now with you guys at Mises, he wanted to move on and they needed someone that could handle Ron’s foreign affairs stuff. So it was dumb luck. I just fit the bill. It was not easy for Ron to get on the Foreign Relations Committee. He had tried before and he was told that he wasn’t sufficiently loyal to a different state, which is Israel, to be considered acceptable to be on the committee, but eventually he was offered a position there. I think they probably regretted it, particularly as we faced the run-up to the Iraq War, the years of the Iraq War, the PATRIOT Act, etc., etc. They probably regretted letting him on the committee.

JD: But it did provide him several excellent opportunities over the years to make his case.

DM: Yes, every time it came to his turn, the eyes were rolling. This is not going to be easy; here he goes again. But over and over again, he just made such crisp points, such perfect points. He never let anything slip by him, and as everyone knows, he did it in his calm manner. He wasn’t pounding the table. He wasn’t acting like a buffoon, like so many other members. He just simply assailed them with facts and with analysis, and that’s why they hated him the most, especially Tom Lantos, who was the chairman for a brief period of time.

JD: Ron Paul was motivated by two things in deciding to run for Congress: foreign policy and monetary policy. He was able to dovetail those two things. He understood that interventionism abroad is a cousin of interventionism at home in the economy.

DM: This is something that the neocons and most conservatives never understand. Those same people believe that six thousand miles away, all of a sudden the government becomes omniscient and omnipotent, there’s a huge disconnect and the reason is very simple. They never have to live with the consequences of the policies that they promote overseas. They never have to live in a Ukraine that’s been destroyed by the Maidan. They never have to go back and live in Libya, which has been a nightmare since we “liberated” it. They never have to face the consequences of the policies that they support and promote, therefore they continue to promote them until the whole thing comes down, which, who knows, may be imminent.

JD: If you look at the Constitution, there’s no distinction made between foreign policy and domestic policy. Yet up until recently there was a gentleman’s agreement in Congress that politics stops at the water’s edge. This allowed for a lot of interventionism to go unremarked, with bipartisan support.

DM: You’re absolutely right. It was a very convenient tool for the interventionists because, after all, those were our boys over there and anything you say that might put them in danger questions your patriotism, so that was used a lot to solidify support for intervention overseas. There’s no question about that.

JD: In your mind, is there a Ron Paul doctrine for economics and foreign policy? I recently reread Mises’s Liberalism, and his prescription for a liberal society or even a liberal nationalism was very much in keeping with Dr. Paul’s longtime message. Mises advocated laissez-faire at home, along with self-determination for political minorities up to and including secession. Liberal foreign policy means free trade, which prevents the problems of autarky, and a strictly noninterventionist military approach. These four elements give us Mises’s prescription for a liberal society. Those same four elements are a good description of what we might call a Ron Paul doctrine.

DM: That’s a very good point. I think at its core a Ron Paul doctrine would be resisting the temptation of authoritarian impulses, because they’re there, they’re everywhere. The thing about Ron (and I work with him now a lot more closely than I did on the Hill; as you know, we only went in there when we had an issue. Normally we left him alone.), and it’s evident in every aspect of his life, including his interpersonal relationships, is resisting the impulse to authoritarianism or to any kind of intervention. And sometimes that’s been a little difficult. Sometimes there were staffers who needed a little more intervention. But Ron would always hope that they would straighten up and fly right, and he always hoped that people would do the right thing, but he would always want to tell people what that right thing was. I think it could be encapsulated in bumper sticker simplicity: Well, what should I do? Well, do what you want to do. What should I do to promote liberty? Well, do what you want to do. Do what you’re good at. I think that is at its core. I don’t know if it’s a kind of Protestant work ethic or if it’s the way he was raised, in circumstances where hard work paid off to a successful career, to a successful life, one that started in very difficult circumstances. If you know about his past and about how his ancestors came over from Germany with literally nothing in their pockets and hard work provided them the American dream, I think that’s really kind of who Ron Paul is because he understands what that’s like.

JD: Some of his critics should deliver four thousand babies before they opine.

DM: Or ride in a horse-drawn carriage delivering milk at seven years old! (laughs)

JD: There has always been a split between what we might call DC libertarians and Ron Paul libertarians favorable to the Mises Institute. A tougher name would be regime libertarians. Some people in those circles say, Oh, Ron Paul ends up making apologies for foreign dictators because his noninterventionism is so reflexive. You have also been on the receiving end of these criticisms.

DM: Well, it’s the issue of staying out of other people’s business at home and abroad. You know, there is sort of a Trotskyist faction of libertarians who believe that a libertarian government overseas imposed by force in a permanent revolution is the only way we can have freedom in the world. There are these type of liberal messianic interventionists who do want to have libertarianism here first but who do also ultimately want to export that overseas. And then there are what I call the live and- let-live libertarians, which understand that people in a country, for example, Iran, may want to live under a theocracy and it’s just none of our business if they do. I say, just as a sort of pressure relief system, you might let some more immigrate who don’t want to live in a theocracy but otherwise people should be free to live as they wish, even in Venezuela, if they want to have a socialist system. There are always evolutionary changes, of course, and unfortunately, our evolutionary changes are not going in the right direction, but when you subject that external pressure, you move from evolutionary changes to revolutionary changes, which there’s no example in history where us being a vanguard of democratic revolutionary change overseas has ever produced positive results. All of this comes from understanding the Ron Paul doctrine, as you say, and how Ron Paul views the world. Anyone who follows him knows that he’s not bashful about criticizing Venezuela’s economic policy, but it’s just he doesn’t take it to the next step of calling for us to liberate the people there.

JD: Justin Raimondo received a lot of grief for this over the years too.

DM: Oh yes.

JD: It strikes me, Daniel, how much economic ignorance resides in the neoconservative worldview. We don’t have the money for wars and nation building. It’s all debt financed. If people really understood economics they would know a grandiose foreign policy is flat-out incompatible with so-called limited government—supposedly a conservative shibboleth.

DM: That’s absolutely true, and the more I understand how things work, the more I also understand that it’s not necessarily ideological. You know, people like Bill Kristol live very good lives because they do the bidding of the defense contractors in the military-industrial complex. And we’re seeing so much of that now. We’re looking at now the medical-industrial complex, the pharma-industrial complex. These are special interests that literally have Congress in a chokehold. They probably produced the Cold War itself, if we want to be revisionist, but certainly the post–Cold War era and the maintenance and expansion of the US empire has all been driven by the weapons manufacturers. So, it’s partially ideological, but that ideology is awfully convenient when it leads you to live a better life than normally you would live as a humble scribbler, like Kristol would have been.

JD: Here’s something to consider. There is obviously crossover between a Liz Cheney and a Joe Biden on foreign policy. The Mitt Romney types agree with the Hillary Clintons and the Terry McAuliffes, who fortunately just lost the race for governor in Virginia. But we have interesting left and right crossovers on our side too. In other words, there are voices out there like Dennis Kucinich and Jimmy Dore and Caitlin Johnstone down in Australia aligning with people like you and the aforementioned Raimondo and Dr. Paul. I do think there’s an opportunity there. These endless foreign wars have no natural constituency and are not popular outside the Beltway.

DM: Yes, foreign policy during this entire year and a half or two years of covid tyranny has exposed a lot of the people that I was worried might come down on the other side, because they were progressives. I have been reassured with people like Glen Greenwald, slightly a latecomer to the whole thing, but Matt Taibbi, as you say, Jimmy Dore, who’s so terrific on this issue, some of the people that I’ve known on foreign policy, Vanessa Beeley and her group, Whitney Webb. These are great writers and they’ve all come down as antiauthoritarians where most of their allies or once allies on the left have firmly come down in the camp of the CIA, of the PATRIOT Act, of don’t question … you are in a resistance, but don’t you dare resist the authorities. Thankfully, these ties, these cross-aisle, as you would say, ties, have not only managed to survive the covid tyranny, but they’ve been fertilized by it. So, there is a little bit of optimism for me at least in this point.

JD: I think the covid regime has to be viewed like our interventionist regime overseas. They are part and parcel of the same beast. One thing you’ve mentioned in speeches is the Rockwell Rule, named after Lew Rockwell. We discussed regime libertarians who want to browbeat every tinpot dictator. They may technically oppose actual military interventions, and maybe even oppose economic sanctions, but they demand everyone join the chorus of browbeaters. So what exactly is the Rockwell Rule?

DM: It’s very simply, never, ever, ever in any regime that the CIA wants to overthrow, never ever repeat their talking points. Never criticize any regime that the CIA wants to overthrow, full stop. That is the Rockwell Rule, the Rockwell Doctrine and it deprives the interventionists of the ability to say, see? Even the libertarians agree that Qaddafi is passing out Viagra or that Saddam is eating babies. They can say, Oh yeah, the libertarians, they don’t want to invade, but see? Even they agree. So, deprive them of that ability. Caitlyn Johnstone has a good way of saying it, “Don’t be a CIA mouthpiece.” I think that is very, very important and it’s so funny because you do see these things at exactly the right moment that the CIA and the regime change machine wants you to say them. When they’re ramping up the heat on Iran, for example, all of a sudden, you’ll have some young libertarian gal come out and say, Iran is horrible, a despotism, they’re socialist in their economy. It always comes at the exact right moment. If you’re a libertarian and you participate in this, you’re a dupe or worse.

JD: There is a tremendous amount of hubris in the West today. The whole world has to share our principles and our form of governance, essentially social democracy. And this should be maintained through international governance in the form of the United Nations or the World Bank or whatever. From my perspective this is just the twenty-first-century version of imperialism and colonialism. It is ideological colonialism.

DM: Yes, and worse because we can kill a lot more people a lot quicker. The people that jump on the bandwagon, We’ve got to do this, we’ve got to overthrow X, you are living in a country whose foreign policy and military leadership are responsible for the deaths of millions. You have a president who just droned a family and then lied about it, started wars, who’s now holding nearly a hundred people in a gulag in DC because they happened to set foot in the Capitol building on January 6. This is one of the most repressive regimes in the world, and if you doubt that, step out of line. Yet nevertheless, if there’s a bad guy overseas, we’re going to jump in and join the chorus and join the two minutes of hate against him, to keep this evil regime up and running, to keep the dollars flowing to the overt and covert regime change mechanism here at home. The thing is, just don’t buy into it. Bite your tongue. OK, the guy’s a jerk overseas, probably true, but we have bigger jerks running the State Department, running the military, running the military-industrial complex, right here at home.

JD: Give us your take on some current issues in foreign affairs. Let’s start with China and Taiwan. I’m interested in Biden’s saber rattling. His administration’s talking to the Japanese about potential joint naval exercises. I wonder what millions of Chinese Americans would think if Biden joins forces with the Japanese over Taiwan.

DM: That’s an interesting point and it’s a variable I don’t think has been considered much. Now I may be wrong, but from my experience, I think the Chinese Americans in the US tend to be rather apolitical. They’re not as involved in politics as other immigrant groups, at least to this point they have not. This is a sweeping generalization, but they tend to keep their heads down and become very successful in business and academia, but there might be some triggers for that. You have a lot of Chinese in the US, and they have ties to their homeland and they retain those ties, so I think you could see some pushback. It would be something that would be very new, but it might be something that does eventually come about.

JD: But given our recent problems in Afghanistan, for example, is the United States military really equipped at all to take on China?

DM: No, and a lot of Americans on the Right are falling out of love with the military and that’s a very good thing. They’re stopping this military worship and it’s because of the wokeness that’s gone on within the armed forces, but that is a good question. Are we really going to provoke a war with China when we can’t beat a bunch of barefooted people after twenty years of war? Well I think that’s all by design too. They didn’t want the Afghanistan war to end because it’s the gravy train, whereas I think a war with China would be pretty quick and decisive. So, are they equipped? No, but they weren’t equipped for Iraq, they weren’t equipped for Afghanistan, they’ve not been equipped for any war, frankly. You could go back to World War I and II. We came in at the end of World War I, when things were pretty settled, so the whole thing is a complete scam, Jeff. It’s a huge ripoff, it’s a huge psyop against the American people.

JD: But even among libertarian audiences there are people who say China is a real threat to the United States. China is biding its time and hoping we suffer an economic fall here. Those people at the Mises Institute who talk about secession would simply open the door for a weakened America to let the Chinese lion in.

DM: What would they do? Take California? I had lunch with my good friend Colonel Douglas McGregor and he said, our military is still fighting the idea of territorial warfare. The rest of the world has given up on this idea. You don’t go and fight and take over. Right now, we’ve taken over 30 percent of Syria. What are we doing there? Nobody knows. We’re the only country in the world that goes around looking to put in bases and get territory overseas. What does it give us? It seems to me the last thing that the Chinese would ever want would be to “own” most of the US. You know, first of all, it’s a basket case. They’ve got their own basket case because of the economic problems they have. Why would they want to inherit something worse? It would be a disaster. The real Chinese threat is that the Chinese do capitalism better than we do. We go overseas and we overthrow governments, we take over media, we push people around, we push gay rights. The Chinese go overseas and make business deals in foreign countries and they get the stuff they want. They get the rare earths. They build factories. And that’s the real reason that the Chinese will certainly outpace us in the future. But instead of addressing that aspect and returning to a noninterventionist foreign policy at home and abroad, domestic policy and foreign policy, we actually are doing things that make it more likely that they will overtake us in the one area that they’re outperforming us. So, scratch your heads on that one really.

JD: Talk about Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Just ten or fifteen years ago, he was the darling of the West and Turkey was going to join the eurozone. Now he’s a devil.

DM: He is a devil now and he’s pretty wily. He knows how to do business with Putin. He’s not chewing on the sound bites that NATO wants to give him. He purchased the S-400s now and that makes him unqualified to participate in the F-35 project, although we’re still holding a billion of his dollars. We’re dangling some F-16s in front of him. Probably best to take the F-16s over the F-35s, actually. He’s a populist. His support comes from the countryside. He comes from the religious countryside. I’m not particularly a huge fan of his, but I find it difficult to avoid cheering for him when he told those ten Western ambassadors including the US ambassador last week, Hey, you signed a letter dealing with something that we’re dealing with in our internal judicial system. You’re persona non grata. Get out of the country. And it wasn’t until countries backed down, that he said, OK, you guys can stay. But he’s not having it. Russia got it, Putin got it. But a country like Belarus, who’s been on the receiving end of US regime change efforts for so long, still allows Western NGOs in the country? I think Erdogan has woken up to that. He’s woken up to what’s happening. Regardless of how you feel about his policies or his authoritarianism, if you don’t like the US empire because it hurts us or hurts people overseas, you have to have a positive view of what’s going on in Turkey.

JD: How about Iran? Are they actually developing nuclear weapons or just nuclear energy? Or neither?

DM: They’ve been about twenty minutes away from the nuclear bomb for the past thirty years, so either they’re taking a long coffee break or it’s, once again, Israel having a conniption fit as they always do, with the US following suit. Again, it’s the same people driving it, the military-industrial complex. And the Israelis, because we subsidized their military so much, they don’t have an incentive to make peace with their neighbors because they believe that the US has their back no matter what they do. This is not a healthy policy for Israel in any sense of the word and certainly not a healthy policy for us. We subsidize a policy in Israel that’s very dangerous to Israel, and if we didn’t do that, they would have to find a way to deal with their neighbors and find peace. The Iran policy was a disaster under Trump, is a disaster under Biden. The Biden administration is trying to have it both ways. They promised to go back to the Joint Comprehensive Agreement, the JCPOA, but they can’t do it because they’re having a lot of pressure from the pro-Israel faction to get additional concessions and Iran is saying, What are you talking about? We already went through this. We made an agreement. Why would we give up more than what we initially signed on to? The whole irony of it, the humor of it, is that we’re pushing Iran more firmly into the camp of Russia and China. They’re saying, Hey, if you don’t want to deal with us, we’re going to go ahead and sell some oil to China, and China says, OK, we’ll take it. Sounds good. We’re actually the authors of our own demise with our stupid foreign policy.

JD: Finally, give us your take on Russia and Putin.

DM: It was an interesting talk that Putin gave to the Valdai Discussion Club this past week. He talked about the wokeism in the US and he talked about how we seem to be devouring ourselves. He remembers from his own history what happened when the Soviets came and tried to suppress speech and tried to suppress normal life as the wokeists in America are doing now. He’s saying that Russia is probably the last conservative, for better or worse, whatever the word means, conservative country on earth. I know that makes a lot of antiwokeists feel like Russia is the answer, is the paradise. One of the things we’ve seen from covid is that there’s still a lot of authoritarian impulses in Russia that we might not necessarily like. It was a three-hour speech. Imagine Joe Biden giving a very detailed three-hour talk on anything! But, it’s very, very, very interesting and I really highly recommend that the listeners take a look at what he had to say.

JD: In 1959, a long time ago, Murray Rothbard wrote a letter to Ken Templeton at the Volker Fund. He said, “I’ve decided that the war-peace question is key to this whole libertarian business.” What a great quote. Are you familiar with it?

DM: Absolutely. It is the key quote.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

What a Homeschooling Surge Means for Our Future

Parents across America were caught unprepared for the mass closure of government schools in 2020. Soon after, however, many decided they and their children had had enough of the status quo. Now at a crossroads, will they choose reform or repudiation?

The wave of ill-advised school shutdowns last year compelled tens of thousands of parents to rethink their children’s education. When the classroom was virtually forced into their homes via Zoom, parents realized just how abysmal the curricula and tutelage were.

Statistics on families fleeing to homeschooling must be worrying the education establishment.

From 2012 to 2019, the homeschooling rate hovered around 3.3 percent of K–12 US students. That figure rose to 5.4 percent in spring 2020. By the following fall, that figure had more than doubled to 11.1 percent.

Among black families, the increase was particularly noteworthy considering only 3.3 percent of black children were homeschooled in spring 2020 versus 16.1 percent in the fall.

While legacy media focused on cases of parents keeping their kids home out of fear of covid, longtime critics of the public school system argued that the pandemic actually helped to expose parents to the abuses and shortcomings that have long plagued public education.

Some chose homeschooling, but many other parents took to school board meetings, facing the beast head-on and ripping apart the deceptive social engineering with the public comment microphone. All the glory, glitz, and glam has so far gone to the latter group.

They grew a decentralized movement with immediate political consequences not only in Virginia’s gubernatorial election but also in school board races across the country earlier this month.

Axios, the popular DC-based news outlet run by former Politico journalists, recently reported on the growth of the 1776 Project, a new political action committee focused on reforming public school systems at the local level.

“My PAC is campaigning on behalf of everyday moms and dads who want to have better access to their children’s education,” the PAC’s founder Ryan Girdusky told Axios.

The 1776 Project won three-fourths of its fifty-eight races across seven states, proving the populist Right’s focus on the culture wars to be smart politicking.

Now Republicans in Congress are pushing a “parents bill of rights” ahead of their 2022 primary elections. Included are so-called rights to know what’s taught at school, the right to be heard, and the right to transparent school budgets and spending.

“This list of rights will make clear to parents what their rights are and clear to schools what their duties to parents are,” their flier states.

The reform position focuses on schools’ duty to parents and ipso facto their children. But what of the duties parents owe to their children?

What if, instead of pointing their collective finger at the school boards, parents looked in the mirror? What if they asked themselves how or why they feel entitled to have a place to drop their kids off for thirteen years of government brainwashing?

Any taxpayer has a perfect reason to object to school mask mandates or the teaching of racist and queer ideologies. Parents must start thinking more deeply about the situation, though.

Certainly for some, running for school board positions is their best shot at helping to provide their children and their neighbors’ children with better education. The problem is that in too many places, there’s an absolute crisis in education that can’t wait any longer for reform, no matter how severe.

Every family and community ultimately applies the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, the notion that the best way to organize society is for each action or decision to be taken at the smallest scale necessary, in assessing what must be done about things such as education.

By simply refusing to accept what federal or state authorities peddled throughout 2020, parents rightfully accepted more responsibility, clearly demonstrating that when things get personal, people will do what it takes to take back control.

Whatever step in that direction is taken, the child is better off. In his great essay “Education: Free and Compulsory,” Murray Rothbard argued that public school and compulsory schooling laws tend to victimize the child: “The effect of the State’s compulsory schooling laws is not only to repress the growth of specialized partly individualized private schools for the needs of various types of children. It also prevents the education of the child by the people who, in many respects, are best qualified—his parents.”

Unfortunately, far too few parents think of themselves as qualified, much less the best qualified educators of their children. They are easily led to believe simple reforms will “fix the system” they grew up dependent upon as children themselves.

“We always hear, Oh it’s broken. It’s not broken. It’s doing exactly what it was designed to do,” Katie Phipps Hague told Mises Institute supporters at the latest summit in Florida last month.

Hague shared her experience homeschooling her seven kids and encouraged other parents to give it a try, essentially asking, What have you got to lose?

I know this sounds like I’m a crazy person, but if you pulled your children out of school … for a whole year, then include them in everything that you do in all of your trips and all of your conversations, put them around the intelligent, capable people that you all have in your circles and let them become comfortable around those people, you’d probably do better for them than maybe anything else you could ever do.

It’s wonderful that the populist movement on the right is targeting the educational bureaucracy, one of the great roots of societal decay. There is a lot of potential for good in populism, but not if it sets its sights on mere reforms. A much brighter future lies in a libertarian populism where parents free themselves from these decrepit statist systems altogether and grow alternative institutions.

Parents must be responsible for their children’s education precisely so that children learn to be autonomous. Autonomous people don’t support tyrannical policies, so the sooner parents embrace their own power, the sooner their children will be able to unleash their own.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

Australia’s History of Benevolent Fascism

You can read Part I of this essay, published in September 2021, here.

Australia has had a history of complicated relationships between the governments that ruled over its vast sunburned lands and the individual citizens subject to such rule. The states and territories of Australia have had a degree of autonomy when it comes to how they may exercise control over the individual. The police have been an integral tool for these state governments to violate human rights and individual freedom. As is always the case a context of crisis is used and even when emergency powers are not directly cited, there is an implication that without such measures a calamity would befall the state and threaten each and every citizen.

For most human rights violations are those actions that occur overseas, away from the familiar. And should such violations occur closer to home, there must be a good reason. Those whose rights are violated perhaps in some way deserved it. Rights may be denied because of a greater need for security, safety and health, and violations committed for a collective good. Those resisting are radicals and extremists to be isolated or removed. The government is “us” after all; it serves us and it does what it needs in order to protect us from even ourselves. It is a parent, a benevolent and omnipotent entity that ensures society is secure and safe. It permits what freedoms it deems necessary and from within this entity exists righteous and moral human beings that take their jobs very seriously.

This is the deep belief that many feel within Australia. It is the religion that grows government and erodes liberty. It is the culture of dependence and servitude that not only allows such an expansion but marginalizes those who challenge it, or who wish to be left alone. It creates a class of public servants that live at the expense of the rest of Australia, who do not necessarily care or concern themselves with any greater social morality. Instead they go about their professional days in a self-serving manner because their job security, entitlements, perks and pensions are more important. It is an aristocracy of governance. To help retain and swell this government requires an active police and surveillance state that also threatens privacy and many forms of journalism.

Salisbury Affair

During the 1970s, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser requested that each states’ police Special Branches compile dossiers on anti-uranium protesters (among other dissident voices that were critical of government policy). Each of the state governments began to comply in various degrees or modified the spying and information collecting methods that they had already in place.

In 1972 Harold Hubert Salisbury had been a respected British policeman when he was recruited to become South Australia’s police commissioner. The SA premier at the time was a progressive Labour Party man, Don Dunstan, who was famous for policies that led to liberalization and social reforms. Whereas Salisbury was a man known for his tough on crime attitudes, his pro-capital and corporal punishment stance, and as an ardent drug warrior, so his appointment by Dunstan was a contrast.

During his tenure, Commissioner Salisbury oversaw surveillance on numerous South Australian residents. The special branch likely did what it would have done regardless of his appointment but it was in January of 1978 that premier Don Dunstan dismissed the police commissioner for “giving inaccurate information…to the Government” and “having so misled the Government that wrong information was given to Parliament and the public” (Advertiser, 18 January 1978).

A later inquiry found that a lot of the files on individuals and organizations were not specific to any security risk but instead focused on “political, trade union and other sensitive matters.”  And when Police Commissioner Salisbury was asked by Premier Dunstan, he refused to give details as to what the files contained. Commissioner Salisbury, in his defense, insisted that he was not subordinate to the state government on such matters but to the Queen and her representative in Australia.

A later enquiry found that over 41,000 files compiled by the South Australian police special branch existed. The files were considered to be both excessive and extensive but were often filled with biased and inaccurate information, large parts of which had been intentionally doctored. Who was considered a suspected individual was up to the discretion of police members and what information was entered or invented was also up to them. The files could then serve as records and be used against individuals either as means of leverage or to gain convictions.

The sacking of the police commissioner widened into a rallying point for those who were already critical of premier Dunstan’s policies. Harold Salisbury was depicted as a good and honest man who was unfairly sacked by a partisan premier. The individuals who had been harassed and spied upon were objects of fascination and predation by the police and government in such circumstances. The nature of what special branch had done became lost in the politicking of the moment and though it was for a time an important part of Australian history, it has become almost forgotten now.

The event did reveal however the power of both Australian state governments and their police in the surveillance and documenting of individual lives and interactions based solely on the suspicion of their political beliefs. Such special mandates, like the one directed by Prime Minister Fraser, allowed the police the power to compile library, telephone, and medical records regardless of the individual’s guilt or any charges. The individuals would be completely unaware of such evidence, and in some cases the information could be invented to suit the police. In the modern digital age such a controversy of surveillance seems token where it is now assumed that the authorities can and “should” do these things to protect society. In 1978, it was still considered a point of contention that may have even led to the resignation of a state premier a year later.

“Joh” Bjelke-Petersen

As a contrast to the South Australian Don Dunstan, Australia’s longest serving premier of Queensland, Johannes “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen was a hard nosed conservative that ran a police state with little regard for individual liberty. Ruling from 1968 to 1987, Joh oversaw a period of change in Australian culture that many conservatives such as himself resisted. Joh modelled himself as being a law and order leader. By the end his reign, his legacy was a regime of police brutality with two of his state ministers and a police commissioner jailed for corruption, while the premier himself avoided a second trial that likely would have convicted him if not for his age.

As a reaction to numerous street protests in the early 1970s, Premier Joh gave full support and powers to the police to come down heavy against anyone considered a “radical.” The bashing and bullying of protesters and organizers was not uncommon. Under his regime, restrictions on ‘rock ‘n’ roll bands and censorship of many forms of media through the use of the defamation laws “moral decency” laws were tightened. Joh was a proud rightwing conservative dictator.

In an incident when a raid was performed on a commune, the police burned down residents’ home and destroyed their property all on the suspicion that the individuals had been growing marijuana plants. The premier publicly backed and supported police conduct during such a raid. His tough on drugs stance was celebrated by many like-minded conservatives Australia wide. Premier Joh was a macho image for the anti-freedom conservatives that used the backdrop of the Cold War as an excuse to push their beliefs onto others.

By the end of the 1970s street protests had been banned in Queensland by Premier Joh. As was the case elsewhere in Australia, the Queensland special branch had been compiling extensive files on individuals and groups. This had in many cases led to harassment, extortion, and intrusive surveillance. Though unlike in South Australia, there was no controversial sacking of a police commissioner in regards to such files; instead the premier of Queensland granted the police as much power as possible to impose itself on the citizenry.

For a time Premier Joh had even tinkered with the idea of seceding from Australia and often expressed his support of the Apartheid regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa, praising how the minority white governments ruled over their populaces. The premier of Queensland was a famous man outside of Australia as well. His conservative and cold warrior views were heralded as being simply “anti-communist.” Men like Joh had certain beliefs and views of the world, a set of values that they held sacred. The pillars of government and its institutions allowed them to impose such upon millions of others.

The reign of premier Joh was a perfect example of fascism in Australia that eventually was checked when corruption and incompetence that stalled the authoritarianism of his rule. It was also a telling example of how the state police and premiers in Australia can exercise themselves with a special authority. The “law and order” promises that Premier Joh brought with him satisfied a mob of the population that had similar social views. With some irony the opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates are now viewed as having a rightwing flavor to them, but it was men like Joh and his hard-right ideals that revealed how powerful a state government can be over its citizenry, especially in a “crisis.” And whether it was against marijuana or a virus, such premiers will ruin lives for “health.”

“The greatest thing that can happen to the state of Queensland and the nation of Australia would be if and when we get rid of the media. Then we would live in peace and tranquility—but no one would know anything!” Premier Joh said.

In many ways this period was a template for the coming police enforcement of current Australian states. The laws are arbitrary and inconsistent but the states government and their police powers can conduct themselves as they please, so long as it is claimed that it is for the greater good of the community. While Premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson claimed that God had chosen him to save Australia from communism, the present premiers believe that they need to save us all from a virus, poverty, bush fires, climate change (among other past and present health and safety “threats”). Whatever a state government or its premier deems an emergency can then allow them to use emergency powers, liberty be damned.

Journalism and Privacy

Australia was never a nation that ensured freedom of speech as a secured right. It was often assumed and implied that individuals and agencies had a certain degree of freedom to say or print as they please. Early on, even before federation censors were prolific, a state of laws existed that would protect the wealthy and powerful from slander. Late into the twentieth century more liberty was allowed by the various states and federal government but as is always the case, crisis and the neurotic impulse to see any and everything as a threat further stripped back any promise of real freedom of expression.

Instead of law that guarantees free speech, Australia relied upon anti-defamation laws that have traditionally protected the powerful and governed the right of expression. In times of war and during periods of crisis journalists were often threatened both officially and unofficially by the state. This does not make Australia exceptional but it does exhibit a tradition of aggression against a truly independent press. And it defies the popular notion of being “a free country.”

Outside of journalism and the realm of non-fiction Australia has a history of censoring books, magazines, art, film, computer games, etc. It is a nation that has a culture of paternalism and while not burning books per se, redacts, edits, and denies them entry onto the island continent. Whatever the cited context, the government always knows best and exercises an imperial benevolence often to protect its citizen-children from every dangerous infection. Unfortunately such violent paternalism is often supported by many Australians who truly believe that exposure to certain information, ideas, words, images, or depictions may mutate a human mind into such a deranged way that chaos and violence would befall society.

On a commonwealth-federal and state level the Australian governments had a very active censors office. In times past individuals have had their letters frequently read and edited. In the early days of nation these may have been those with Irish Fenian sympathies or anarchists and communists. Or any literature that defied the moral standards of a good white Christian nation that Australian governments desperately tried to maintain into the twentieth century.

The colonial history of Australia was a period where most of the published material was only made available to inform the residents of the colonies what the laws and local rules were. The crown made it compulsory that such things be read out during church services. It would take decades before the first “uncensored” newspaper would appear. The early roots of a government-dominated printing press helped to implant a modern day culture of mainstream media that does not enjoy true freedom of press.

According to a 2006 Reporters Without Borders survey, ranking countries in relative press freedoms Australia was listed at 35. The post-9/11 world has seen a decline in press freedoms in Australia thanks to new anti-terrorism legislation along with suppression orders on freedom of information requests. The war on terror has given greater muscle to laws that were first penned during World War I, the Sedition Act for example, making it hard for journalists to know what is allowable to write during “war time.”

And as many recent protesters posting on social media are learning, “incitement” is a very real crime in Australia where one can face prosecution based on the allegation that their words or sentiments may lead to sedition or promote the breaking of other laws.

On September 5, 2020, pregnant mother Zoe Buhler was arrested by Victorian police on the grounds that her Facebook post constituted incitement. You be the judge;

PEACEFUL PROTEST! All social distancing measures are to be followed so we don’t get arrested please. Please wear a mask unless you have a medical reason not to. September 5th is FREEDOM DAY! As some of you may have seen the government has gone to extreme measures to prevent the Melbourne protest. Here in Ballarat we can be a voice for those in stage 4 lockdowns. We can be seen and heard and hopefully make a difference! END LOCKDOWNS. STAND UP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS. WE LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY.

The Foreign Interference Bill would make it illegal for anyone to “receive” and “handle” national security information. This would include the information that was revealed in the “Afghanistan war files,” where evidence came to light of Australian soldiers murdering innocent civilians. Regardless of the bloody content that these files revealed, the terrible war crimes, it is the exposure of such things that is viewed as more dangerous and criminal than the murder of innocent civilians itself.

The bill makes it dangerous and illegal for public servants to expose any government misdeeds to the media. The Australian Federal Police has been an eager implementer of such bills, as was seen when journalists were taken into custody in 2019. Since the 2001 attacks on the United States, those nations that consider themselves the champions of Western values have implemented laws that encroach on individual liberty and grow police powers. It has not won the war on terror, it has only terrorized individuals in the name of fighting it.

As an intimate example, when the Australian Federal Police raided journalist Annika Smethurst’s home they spent seven hours ruining her privacy and humiliating her, including going through her underwear with perverse intent. For those who have been through a police drug raid, especially one that can be conducted on the whiff of assumption, the police will confiscate any items that they deem prohibitive. Sports equipment like baseball bats and tennis racquets can be declared as weapons, for example. It is thanks to the war on drugs and the intrusive invasion of ones home and privacy that journalists or even individuals posting on social media may now find themselves at the mercy of police discretion as they suffer violence, property damage, theft, and even face kidnapping all in the name of implementing these laws.

Personal items that should remain intimate between couples can be pulled out and exhibited with no regard for privacy. Even if no charges have been pressed, the privacy of the individual is not sacred and humiliation is always ensured. Police officers often have gone through personal devices; whether they are “allowed” to or not does not change the fact that the individual has little control in each interaction.

“Police have an inherent bias when it comes to investigating their own…and that bias can skew investigations in all sorts of ways,” explains Melbourne lawyer Jeremy King. “It has been my experience with my clients that police are more sceptical of complainants when there is another police officer involved…then on top of that, there have been particular examples where, deliberately or otherwise, statements haven’t been taken, actions haven’t been taken where perhaps they would have been if a police officer wasn’t involved.”

Identify and Disrupt Bill of 2020

In August of 2020 the “hacking bill” was quickly passed through Australian Parliament that now allows government authorities the ability to spy on and impersonate individuals without their knowledge or consent. The bill allows the federal government the ability to access the social media and emails of an individual or group and permits them to delete, modify, and send messages, even impersonating those that are being “hacked.” The bill allows this conduct to occur so longas “suspicion” of criminal activity is raised.

The wider implications of such a bill are frightening and the full repercussions have not yet been realized. The government can now invent evidence, entrap individuals, and use information, real or fabricated, as a means of extortion to get individuals to stop doing things or to even give up information on others. In our social media age it can also allow the government an ability to create false public depictions of an individual or group through public posts and uploads.

Such a bill is the inevitable mutation of the special branch spying of the 1970s and invention of evidence and information in the past. Now with most of society’s reliance on the digital world, it can allow the government an absolute disregard to any privacy and to materialize whatever evidence it needs to take on any one that it deems “suspicious.”

In September, Adrian Lozancic of the Australian Democrats said, “Make no mistake, Orwell would be proud. This authoritarian legislation enables police to obtain, modify and delete your data without you knowing.”

While these bills are always pushed under the blanket of fighting child pornography, terrorism, organized crime or the illicit drug trade it is the inevitable reality that it will be used by the government to protect itself from whistleblowers or any revelations of misconduct. It is also likely that such information will profit certain individuals that are in positions of power, corruption being the greatest partner to any police state.

The bill has a very broad definition of what constitutes a “relevant offense” and it’s likely to be used against activists and human rights defenders as many of these individuals and groups, like journalists and whistleblowers, come under the definitions that relate to “serious Commonwealth offenses.” Such a law, with how easily it was passed, shows how little care the Australian media and public have expressed themselves and reveals a wider culture that embraces a state of limited liberty.

Encrypted email services and messaging apps have also come under attack with a push to ban their usage in Australia. The notion that individuals may wish to communicate in private with family, friends, colleagues, and customers is lost on some. Instead the spectre that only criminals and human monsters would use such means to communicate is the mantra that government advocates push time and time again. Such a bill may in time expand into the prohibition of such services for the Australian citizen.

“The Identify and Disrupt Bill will operate as part of a larger framework of surveillance laws, including the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 (TOLA), that amplifies the government’s powers without adequate limitations, undermines encryption, and endangers human rights,” reported Namrata Maheshwari and Raman Jit Singh Chima in Access Now in August.

It is unlikely that the introduction of such a bill will see a limit to government growth. It will be used as a gateway for state and federal governments to peer into every aspect of peoples’ lives. Such bills can then go after individuals relating to many other aspects that the government is fixated on, from the war on drugs, tax evasion, and even to those wary of vaccine mandates. It is a surface that no longer has been scratched but has been gouged deep to the bone, and it seems many in Australia are comfortable with it. At this time the greatest defense an individual has from such intrusions is to not stand out but to go unnoticed. It is a measure of scale for the government. In time technology and software will change this in the government’s favor.

Whistleblowers

It is no wonder that the Australian Julian Assange lingers in legal hell, given the government that rules his homeland. And it has been revealed recently that the Australian government has been aware of what misery he is experiencing while still supporting the British and American government actions that are punishing a man for publishing evidence of war crimes. Whistleblowing is often the enemy of government, in Australia especially.

Take for example “Witness K,” who exposed the corruption and bugging of an East Timor cabinet room, a bugging that lead to the screwing over of East Timor in favor of Australian national interests and the exploitation of the natural resources of a desperately poor nation. As a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service Officer, “Witness K” faces serious conviction. His trial is being held in secret and behind closed doors in front of a court with no transparency or public coverage. Because of the information leaked by “Witness K” the Australian government was forced to renegotiate its agreement with East Timor, after which the government took out its indignation on the spy that had revealed its dirty deeds to the world.

In August 2020 it was announced that the Australian government had spent nearly $3 million dollars in court waging its war on whistleblowers. It is a war that is waged to destroy individual lives by dragging them through the courts and ruining them financially. The victims include “Witness K,” David McBride who is a former defense force lawyer that helped to leak the Afghan war files, and Richard Boyle, who revealed the predatory actions of the Australian Tax Office.

Such aggressive actions against present-day whistleblowers are a reflection of a past that is smeared with a disdain for those who come out against the government and its nefarious actions. In the case of “Witness K” even his lawyer, Bernard Collaery, is being prosecuted and faces a hefty jail sentence. The Australian government has empowered its police to such a point that journalists are deterred from reporting objectively and whistleblowers risk everything should they expose injustices and misdeeds. It is a state of fear, the perfect instrument of a democratic authoritarian state. And for many Australians, so long as these actions are done with a degree of benevolence and in the name of a greater good, then the sacrifice to liberty and in some cases the murder of innocent civilians is a price that they are willing to pay. Because in the end, so long as people have welfare and jobs then human rights be damned. That seems to be “Aussie way.”

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News Roundup 12/7/2021

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Conflicts of Interest

COI #196: Generating a Conflict in Ukraine guest Dave DeCamp

On COI #196, Dave DeCamp - News Editor at Antiwar.com - returns to explain escalating tensions with Russia over Ukraine. In recent weeks the US has engaged in military drills along Russia’s western border while encouraging a Ukrainian military build-up. The result has...

COI #194: US Threatens Russia Over Non-Ally Ukraine

On COI #194, Kyle Anzalone breaks down the growing tensions in Eastern Europe. The US is simulating nuclear war with Russia, conducting war games in Latvia, and deploying warships to the Black Sea. Meanwhile, Ukraine is engaging in military build-ups/drills on its...

Don't Tread on Anyone

How Empires Perish: Why Republicans Should Be Anti-War

https://youtu.be/lDtN9wat_IE Ideology has always been vital to the continued existence of the State, as attested by the systematic use of ideology since the ancient Oriental empires. The specific content of the ideology has, of course, changed over time, in accordance...

Liberty Weekly Podcast

The Mind as a Prison ft. The Propaganda Report Ep. 193

https://youtu.be/5AhHXy2aZZU This week, I invited Monica Perez and Brad Binkley on to discuss one of their Rokfin deep dive episodes. We address several topics including DARPA brain mapping, conditioning soldiers to kill with implants, the future of warfare, and the...

Merchants of Death ft. Hunter DeRensis Ep. 191

https://youtu.be/h-QMxXAwRk8 Hunter DeRensis joins me to discuss his recent featured article at the American Conservative. This piece tells the little remembered story of a congressional inquest into war profiteering during the first World War. Hunter's piece also...

Year Zero

What’s Happening w/Reed Coverdale

Reed joined me once again. This episode we stay awake and hav a lively discussion about supply chains, current events, and post libertarians. Reed Twitter Naturalist Capitalist Libertarian Institute 19 Skills Pdf Autonomy Course Critical Thinking Course Donate Patreon...

The Rittenhouse Prosecution w/Legalman

Legalman came back on the show to discuss the prosecutor’s malfeasance in the Rittenhouse trial. Legalman Twitter The Quash Libertarian Institute 19 Skills Pdf Autonomy Course Critical Thinking Course Donate Patreon RyanBunting.com

Fighting the Fight w/Michael Boldin

Michael Boldin of The Tenth Amendment Center joined me to discuss moving local communities in such a way that the local legislation nullifies federal powers and enforcement. Michael Boldin Twitter Tenth Amendment Center Libertarian Institute 19 Skills Pdf Autonomy...

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