Politics

Congress’ Obsession With Unreadable Laws

Congress’ Obsession With Unreadable Laws

“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap,” Napoleon is reputed to have said more than two centuries ago. Boundless ignorance is also not a handicap, as Congress demonstrated last December by approving a 5593-page bill without reading it. Plenty of activists and editorial pages howled over the sloppy procedures propelling $2.3 trillion in new federal spending.

James Madison warned in the Federalist Papers in 1788 that “it will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” Madison referred to the peril of excessive legislation; he may have never imagined that Congress would routinely enact thousand-page blockbusters without reading the text. But that is now standard procedure in Washington.

On the night of the day before Thanksgiving 1991, the House of Representatives approved a 1400-page highway bill — even though almost no member of the House had seen the bill and only one copy was available in the House chamber. Sen. David Boren (D-Okla.) observed at the time that congressional “bills are five times longer on the average than they were just as recently as 1970, with a far greater tendency to micromanage every area of government.” Conservatives were outraged, and a Republican Leadership Task Force proclaimed in 1993, “A bill that cannot survive a three-day scrutiny of its provisions is a bill that should not be enacted.”

When Bill Clinton railroaded a 972-page crime bill into law in 1994, Republicans saw the legislation only a few hours before the vote. That was irrelevant because Clinton proclaimed that it was “the will of God” that Congress speedily pass the bill. Clinton’s bill created dozens of new criminal offenses and opened a $10 billion subsidy spigot for local and state prison building that sent America’s incarceration rate skyrocketing in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Willful Ignorance

Republicans captured control of Congress in the 1994 elections. But that did not deter House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Clinton from jamming a 4000-page, 40-pound agreement down Congress’s throat in 1998. No one had a chance to read the bill before voting. Legendary “King of Pork” Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) declared, “Only God knows what’s in this monstrosity.”

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the George W. Bush administration strong-armed the 342-page USA PATRIOT Act through Congress. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) complained that “the bill wasn’t printed before the vote.” Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, declared, “We are now debating at this hour of night, with only two copies of the bill that we are being asked to vote on available to Members on this side of the aisle.” Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of the House, said the process was “denigrating basic constitutional rights, and I find it to have been done in a sneaky, dishonest fashion.” Regardless of the legislative travesty, Bush and Barack Obama routinely invoked Congress’s passage of the PATRIOT Act to justify their anti-terrorism policies.

During the George W. Bush era, legislative ignorance became a point of patriotic pride. Shortly before the 2006 congressional elections, Congress rushed to rubber-stamp a Bush administration barbaric interrogation wish-list part of the Military Commissions Act. The Boston Globe reported that “because of the Bush administration’s restrictive policy on sharing classified information with Congress, very few of the people engaged in the debate will know what they’re talking about.” Fewer than 50 members of Congress knew what actual interrogation methods were being debated, according to the Globe. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s first attorney general, boasted, “I don’t know what the CIA has been doing, nor should I know.” Retroactively legalizing torture, as the bill did, was a non-issue on Capitol Hill. Legal analyst Dahlia Lithwick declared, “We’ve reached a defining moment in our democracy when our elected officials are celebrating their own blind ignorance as a means of keeping the rest of us blindly ignorant as well.”

After the Democrats captured control of Congress in the 2006 elections, several members, including Sen. Barack Obama, endorsed requiring that any legislative proposal be available and online for at least 72 hours before Congress voted on it. But that provision was not included in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which Politico hailed as “sweeping ethics reform legislation.” Nine years later, Politico derided that same law as “the lobbying reform that enriched Congress,” noting that it “created an entire class of professional influencers who operate in the shadows, out of the public eye and unaccountable.”

The Obama administration’s 2700-page Affordable Care Act was another unread Pandora’s box. The bill was almost 400,000 words long; within four years, the Obama administration would issue more than 10 million words of regulations to enforce it. This time Conyers scoffed at members of Congress who “get up and say, ‘Read the bill.’ What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) later explained, “I don’t expect to actually read the legislative language, because reading the legislative language is among the more confusing things I’ve ever read in my life.” But not nearly as confusing as the blizzard of new mandates that private companies were forced to obey.

The law sparked widespread outrage, spurring many congressmen to cancel all public meetings with their constituents that summer. At a Montana forum in August 2010, a retired nurse asked Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who boasted that he wrote much of the Affordable Care Act, whether he read the health-care bill before it was passed. Baucus replied, “I don’t think you want me to waste my time to read every page of the health-care bill. You know why? It’s statutory language. We hire experts.”

In the 2010 congressional elections, Republicans campaigned on a “Pledge to America” to “ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives.” Republicans captured control of the House but that didn’t stop Republican congressional leaders a few months later from cutting a deal with Obama and rushing a 459-page budget deal through Congress, leaving members time neither to read nor to digest it before approving it.

Doorstops

Three years later, in December 2014, Congress enacted a 1200-page, $560 billion National Defense Authorization Act that was available to members only 36 hours prior to their vote. When asked whether members of Congress had read the bill, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) replied, “Of course not. Are you kidding?” Moran explained that he felt no obligation to read the text because “I trust the leadership.” Later that month, members of Congress heaved all their unfinished work into a 15-pound lump of paper which no one had time to comprehend before approving. The 1603-page blockbuster was a continuing resolution omnibus bill that was nicknamed “Cromnibus.” House Speaker John Boehner scoffed at concerns about the process: “Understand, all these provisions in the bill have been worked out in a bicameral, bipartisan fashion or else they wouldn’t be in the bill.” And never before in American history have problems resulted from the closed-door deals on Capitol Hill.

As I wrote for USA Today in 2014 (“Government by Cromnibus—Blind, Deaf, and Dumb”), “Ignorance of the law is an excuse only for the congressmen who voted for the law.” There have been plenty of “scale-buster” pieces of legislation enacted without having been read since then, usually accompanied by sporadic media whining about the process. Most politicians’ love of power will always exceed their intellectual curiosity.

“You can lead a man to Congress but you can’t make him think,” quipped Milton Berle in 1956. Or read. According to a 1977 survey of House members by the House Administration Committee, the average congressman spends only 11 minutes a day reading at work. That survey result was so embarrassing that it has not been repeated since then. Congress has its own legislative research agencies as well as instant access to more than 4000 reports regularly produced by other federal agencies. But former ten-term congressman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) admitted that “a lot of the reports that have been mandated from these federal agencies are so overwhelming that I didn’t generally look at them.” Rather than reading the reports, one longtime congressional staffer told the Washington Post in 2014 that “we used them as doorstops.”

Legislative ignorance is treacherous in part because there is no Hippocratic Oath—“first, do no harm”—on Capitol Hill. Because politicians won an election, they often act entitled to dictate rules on anything and everything under the sun. The hefty omnibus bill that Congress passed late last year contains a blizzard of laws, penalties, and handouts that will take months to decipher. The media will be exposing horror stories from the bill long after congressional leaders finish their victory lap.

Congress would not be passing massive unread bills without a blind faith that government compulsion is inherently superior to what individual persons can do for themselves in daily life. Politicians assume their clueless decrees are better than decisions citizens make for themselves after gathering the best information they can find. Political action per se is presumptively redemptive for humanity—as exemplified by one congressman’s appeal to vote for the 2014 omnibus bill without reading it: “Hold your nose and make this a better world.”

But Congress in its routine operations is more slapdash than the vast majority of Americans in their daily lives. How many citizens routinely sign thousand-page contracts without reading them? Would anyone hire a lawyer who admitted he failed to examine settlement agreements he approved? Such an admission would spur a lawsuit for malpractice. But congressmen have legal immunity for anything they do on the floor of the House and Senate.

There is no prudent reason to expect fundamental change on Capitol Hill. Congress has always been fairly irresponsible, but the damage is vastly greater now. Instead of being a meddlesome distant uncle who ruins a family reunion once a year, Congress is a daily taskmaster with the authority to intervene in almost every aspect of Americans’ lives. Since we cannot expect members of Congress to behave more wisely or responsibly in the future, how much power should they possess over other Americans? Fantasizing about reforms that could create wiser legislators simply paves the way to bigger boondoggles down the road.

This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished with permission.

Conservatives Created the War on Terrorism, and Are Now Its Victims

Conservatives Created the War on Terrorism, and Are Now Its Victims

The security walls around the U.S. Capitol may be removed, but the federal response to the January 6 protests has only just begun. The Democrats in Washington are determined to treat the incident as on par with the events of September 11, which may explain a troubling report about the potential use of the famed No Fly List.

Yesterday Nick Fuentes, a right-wing social media pundit who attended the January 6 protests in the capital, alleged that he has been placed on the federal no-fly list, preventing him from traveling to Florida for a political rally. While Mr. Fuentes shared on social media audio of an airline employee suggesting that his flying restriction did come from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), later that night Tucker Carlson informed his audience that his staff could neither confirm nor deny the report. While critics pointed to previous social media posts which documented his being removed from a plane for failing to comply with mask policies, Fuentes has noted that he had no problem flying to Washington in January.

It is unclear whether federal authorities will be in any rush to clarify the situation, but there is no reason not to assume that federal authorities would attempt to use this war on terror tool against political opponents. From its inception, what originally began as sixteen names federal authorities had connected to potential future terrorist attacks quickly grew to over 1 million. As is the case with other surveillance tools handed over to the deep state, there is very little oversight or due process involved in how federal authorities handle potential “terrorist threats.”

Since January there has been a concerted effort by Democrat leaders, former deep state officials, and America’s most despicable neoconservatives to push the Biden administration to utilize the power of the federal government against the supporters of Donald Trump. While the incidents at the Capitol on January 6 are used to justify these calls, the weaponization of federal power against political opponents goes back almost as long as the federal government itself. In more recent years, President Biden’s previous service in the White House saw a Democrat administration that used both the IRS and Department of Homeland Security to target conservatives.

Another reason to expect escalation from the Biden administration against vocal figures like Fuentes is the unique critique of the current regime from the right. The majority of Republican voters do not simply oppose President Biden due to politics, but flatly reject his democratic legitimacy.

As Murray Rothbard explained, it is precisely this sort of attack that the state fears most:

The increasing use of scientific jargon has permitted the State’s intellectuals to weave obscurantist apologia for State rule that would have only met with derision by the populace of a simpler age. A robber who justified his theft by saying that he really helped his victims, by his spending giving a boost to retail trade, would find few converts; but when this theory is clothed in Keynesian equations and impressive references to the “multiplier effect,” it unfortunately carries more conviction. And so the assault on common sense proceeds, each age performing the task in its own ways.

Thus, ideological support being vital to the State, it must unceasingly try to impress the public with its “legitimacy,” to distinguish its activities from those of mere brigands….

The gravest crimes in the State’s lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment, for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, subversion and subversive conspiracy, assassination of rulers and such economic crimes against the State as counterfeiting its money or evasion of its income tax. Or compare the degree of zeal devoted to pursuing the man who assaults a policeman, with the attention that the State pays to the assault of an ordinary citizen. Yet, curiously, the State’s openly assigned priority to its own defense against the public strikes few people as inconsistent with its presumed raison d’être.

This perspective explains the disproportionate treatment that mostly peaceful protesters at the Capitol in January have received in contrast to those arrested during riots in American cities throughout the past year. The state will always treat those who seriously threaten its perceived legitimacy with greater zeal than those guilty of simply destroying the livelihoods of its citizens.

This also highlights the self-defeating nature of the modern American conservative movement.

For decades now, the same political party that often gives lip service to “federalism” has often been the party directly responsible for the growth of federal power. As noted earlier, it took exactly one administration before the Department of Homeland Security, created by the Bush administration, began to target the very voters who elected him to office. It was just two election cycles before the PATRIOT Act was used to target a Republican presidential campaign.

The biggest question that now lies in American politics is whether conservatives are capable of learning from these examples. If the American right is capable of fully absorbing the reality that the greatest threat to their lives, liberty, and prosperity lies domestically—and not abroad—perhaps there is potential for a political rollback of the American empire.

If not, American conservatives will come to understand how little constitutional rights truly mean in the face of a hostile state.

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

Montana Becomes First State to Pass Resolution Against Unconstitutional Wars

Montana Becomes First State to Pass Resolution Against Unconstitutional Wars

The Montana state legislature overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan and unprecedented resolution Tuesday calling on the federal government to end endless wars. The resolution passed 95-3 in the House and 47-2 in the Senate.

House Joint Resolution 9, sponsored by Rep. Ron Marshall (R-Hamilton), is the first of its kind to be introduced by any state and is currently being used as a model for other states across the country.

The resolution specifically urges President Joe Biden and the United States Congress to “end the endless war in Afghanistan,” repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, resist sending U.S. troops into combat without a declaration of war from Congress or specific authorization to do so, and to “execute a prudent foreign policy.”

Concerned Veterans for America, a veteran-run organization, endorsed the resolution and plans on utilizing it at the national level. The organization’s Deputy Director Russ Duerstine said in a statement that “the passing of the Endless War resolution is a firm statement—a strong message on behalf of Montanans that there is a better way than continuing to fight endless wars.”

According to USA Today, Montana has the third-highest percentage of veterans of all states in the United States. A recent YouGov and Concerned Veterans for America poll also determined that two-thirds of all US veterans support the complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Our troops have served valiantly in Afghanistan and elsewhere, but perpetual war and fruitless nation building is not in America’s best interests,” Duerstine added. “Worse, endless conflicts marginalize the service of those who have sacrificed for our freedom. We owe our military community better, and we thank Rep. Marshall and Sen. Bogner for leading on this measure and commend all those who showed their support for it.”

Some lawmakers have asked what the resolution will accomplish, referring to it as a “letter to Santa” since it isn’t legislation, but Concerned Veterans for America’s Montana Grassroots Engagement Director Chris Enget, a Purple Heart recipient who served in Afghanistan in 2012, said the resolution would put pressure on Montana’s congressional delegation to take action to end overseas conflicts.

Enget, who helped write the resolution, added that the organization is using it as a model in other states and will also pressure their congressional delegations by passing similar resolutions.

Concerned Veterans for America will also send the resolution to Washington D.C. and use their lobbyists to put pressure on Congress, according to Enget.

“We are going to use this to show America is fed up,” Enget said. “We’re not just going to let it sit there. We’re going to continue to bring it up and we’re going to continue to show that the state of Montana has made this very large statement that we can not keep participating in endless wars.”

The resolution passed a week after President Biden announced that the timeline for U.S. removal from Afghanistan would be delayed from May 1 to Sept. 11, 2021. Biden said, “I’m now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”

Concerned Veteran’s senior adviser Dan Caldwell said in a statement, “while we still believe a full withdrawal by the May 1st deadline in the Doha agreement best serves America’s interests, we are pleased to hear Biden is firmly committed to bringing our troops home within the next few months.”

The organization’s Montana chapter feels the same way.

“We’re going to support President Biden’s timeline, but we’re not going to let the pressure up,” Enget said. “We now have a concrete date from him that this is what he wants to do and we’re going to be supportive of the fact that he wants to fully withdraw troops, but he needs to keep that timeline then. We’re going to pressure his administration to keep that timeline.”

Liam McCollum is an independent journalist and the host of The Liam McCollum Show, a libertarian-oriented podcast. He’s a Philosophy, Journalism, and Pre-Law student at the University of Montana.

The US State Department & Independent Media ft. Joanne Leon  Ep. 163

The US State Department & Independent Media ft. Joanne Leon Ep. 163

I joined forces with Joanne Leon of the “Around the Empire Podcast” to discuss the US State Department’s influence on the independent media. We also discuss the West’s narrative against China and Russia, nuance in foreign policy positions, the difficulty in discovering the Truth, my latest article at the Libertarian Institute, and many more foreign policy topics.

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Independent Media Parrots Questionable Uyghur Genocide Claims by Patrick MacFarlane

For a New Libertarian Golden Age ft. What’s HAPAning Ep. 162

For a New Libertarian Golden Age ft. What’s HAPAning Ep. 162

This last Friday, I joined Shaine Scalph of What’s HAPAning for a marathon livestream. We discuss several topics, such as Biden’s gun control measures, my recent feature article at the Libertarian Institute regarding the Chinese Uyghurs, the problem with civil libertarians, the case for libertarian optimism, podcast burnout, and the legality of vaccine passports.

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Independent Media Parrots Questionable Uyghur Genocide Claims by Patrick MacFarlane

Independent Media Parrots Questionable Uyghur Genocide Claims

Independent Media Parrots Questionable Uyghur Genocide Claims

On January 19, 2021 during the Trump administration’s twilight hours, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally accused the Chinese government of committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslims of the Xinjiang region of western China. 

The press statement alleged:

Arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.

The accusation was the climax of the Trump administration’s evolving trade war against the Chinese people.

For all of the republican condemnation of Joe Biden’s  weak China policy, the Biden administration, led by neoliberal ghoul Antony Blinken, did not waste any time endorsing Mike Pompeo’s accusation of genocide and has doubled down on targeted economic sanctions. 

The evolution of diplomatic tension between the United States and China is the dark prophecy of a principle often attributed to Frederick Bastiat: “if goods do not cross borders, soldiers will.”

Indeed, the charge of genocide has been heralded writ large across mainstream media, regurgitated by such truth-tellers as the New York Times, BBC, The Guardian, CNN, The Independent, Reuters and by a cast of  other usual suspects. Those not accusing the Chinese government of genocide spew hawkish rhetoric at a fever pitch unheard since perhaps the invasion of Iraq. Even sometimes-antiwar voices in the mainstream such as Tucker Carlson, Bill Maher, and John Oliver have joined in the saber-rattling.

Much has changed since Operation: Iraqi “Freedom.” The legacy media is desperate for ratings. The US propaganda arm must know that controlling the narrative is no longer as simple as infiltrating television, print, and radio.

Accordingly, a survey of prominent independent outlets reveals the same US State Department narrative on China. For example, The Joe Rogan Experience, the largest podcast in the world, with approximately 200 million listeners per month, has validated the Uyghur genocide claim with Ben Shapiro. Rogan has gone even further–giving the CIA itself a platform to spook its China propaganda. Among the guilty are Steven Crowder, Dave Rubin, Reason Magazine, VICE, The Young Turks, and Democracy Now!.

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CIA Agent Mike Baker with Joe Rogan Credit Mike Baker Twitter

Of all the above independent outlets, the most egregious purveyor of Chinese fear mongering is Tim Pool, an independent journalist who emerged into prominence during Occupy Wall Street.

Pool has exploded in popularity during the COVID lockdowns and in the run-up to the 2020 Election, garnering more than 40 million views in the last 30 days on YouTube alone.

Tim Pool is good on many issues. He opposes the COVID lockdowns and bailouts, the BLM riots, Cancel Culture, police brutality, corruption, and above all–dishonesty in the media. Tim Pool has platformed good libertarian voices such as Dave Smith, Michael Malice, Eric July, Julie Borowski, Phil Labonte, and Luke Rudkowski (who has unfortunately joined Pool’s Uyghur claims).

In spite of his praiseworthy qualities, Pool’s accusations against China are bombastic. Take for instance the lizard-brain caliber of his segment titles: “China is Colonizing The ENTIRE World Even As It EXTRACTS the US, This is How They WIN,” “China WEAPONIZES US Wokeness Where They Used To MOCK The ‘White Left’, They KNOW What They’re Doing,” “Joe Biden WILL Sell The US Out To China on a SILVER PLATTER If They Ask For It,” and, of course: “The Chinese Communist Party is PROFITING Off Its Human Rights Abuses Against Minority Groups.”

In a March 23rd segment he claimed “the biggest threat [the US has] ever faced [is] a rising and despotic authoritarian Chinese Communist Party.” In the same segment, Pool commended the Biden administration’s imposition of sanctions against China for “human rights abuses” against the Uyghurs.

As for the content behind his ludicrous headlines, Pool broadcasts the same US State Department talking points, reporting many unsubstantiated allegations as fact. Like the above mainstream media outlets, He has made affirmative claims that Uyghurs are being detained in concentration camps where they are subjected to systematic sexual torture, involuntary sterilization, and organ harvesting.

The genesis of these claims stem from a June 2020 report by German Christian fundamentalist researcher Adrian Zenz. This same Adrian Zenz has stated he is “led by God” to accuse the Chinese government. Zenz was recently sued by several Chinese firms, who allege his defamatory research caused compensable harm to their industries and led directly to US sanctions.

Investigative journalists Gareth Porter and Max Blumenthal have thoroughly refuted Zenz’s work, concluding: “a careful review of Zenz’s research shows that his assertion of genocide is contradicted by flagrant data abuse, fraudulent claims, cherry-picking of source material, and propagandistic misrepresentations.” 

As illustrated by Porter and Blumenthal, Zenz’s allegations are easily explained by a shift in China’s one-child policy and improved access to voluntary birth control and family planning. 

Aside from Zenz’s statistical misrepresentations, the bare facts do not support the genocide narrative. The Uyghur population in Xinjiang has grown from 4.67 million in 1953 to 11.3 million in 2018–hardly a genocide. 

Zenz and others in the mainstream media rely heavily on “eyewitness accounts” of “human rights abuses.” Such accounts form the basis for everything from Tim Pool’s daily talk shows to the US State Department’s official 2020 “Reports on Human Rights Practices.” The latter of which does not contain citations, making it nearly impossible to audit.

This reliance on eyewitness accounts of human rights abuses is troublesome given that eyewitness testimony is one of the least reliable forms of evidence. Moreover, these accounts were not given under oath, were not subject to cross examination, and their credibility was not evaluated by a fact-finder such as a judge or jury. They are not reliable.

Were the testimony subject to these basic legal safeguards, it would likely be found wanting. In part, because the alleged “eyewitnesses” constantly change their testimony–especially after contact with organizations linked to the US State Department.

Blogger Moon of Alabama has scrutinized some of the most cited cases: 

First is the case of Saragul Sautbay, a Uyghur woman who claims to have been imprisoned in a Chinese reeducation camp. 

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Sautbay Credit Ellinor Collin

When Sautbay was first interviewed about her alleged experience in the camps, she claimed she was an instructor there, that she never witnessed any violence while working, and that meat was never served at the camp. 

After gaining asylum in Sweden, Sautbay was taken in by the Swedish Uyghur Association, an affiliate of the CIA linked World Uyghur Congress. Her story then changed. She now claims to have been a detainee of the camp, that she witnessed horrific violence there, and that Muslim Uyghur detainees were forced to eat pork. 

Another “eyewitness,” Tursunay Ziawudun, claimed to have witnessed the systematic rape of detainees in internment camps. Her allegations were trumpeted by the mainstream media in February 2021. Quizzically, when Ziawudun was first interviewed after leaving China, she did not testify that she had witnessed any rape or violence. 

Also as reported by Moon of Alabama, many Uyghur “eyewitnesses” are groomed through organizations connected to the US State Department and the CIA such as Radio Free Asia, the World Uyghur Congress, and the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

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Tursunay Ziawudun during CNN Interview. Credit CNN.

These organizations procured many of their “eyewitnesses” through Atajurt Eriktileri (Volunteers of the Fatherland)–a group founded by ethnic Kahzak Serikzhan Bilash to “keep track Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Uyghurs in Xinjiang.” 

Through 2018 and 2019, Bilash and other members of Atajurt travelled across Xinjiang convincing unsophisticated Uyghur farmers to “speak up about their detained relatives in Xinjiang…They arranged interviews with international media, helped people write petitions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and helped people record thousands of video appeals, which they all made public on their YouTube channel.” 

One wonders how a group of “a few dozen rural Kazakhs” had the means to connect rural Uyghur farmers with the international media without the assistance of special interest groups.

In March 2019, the Kazahk government shut Atajurt down and arrested Bilash for “inciting ethnic hatred.” He was fined and released on the condition he cease his activism for seven years. He has since fled to Turkey with his family.

Bilash’s attorney blames Kazakhstan’s position in the Chinese Belt-and-Road Initiative as motivation to quell dissent. Even if the Kahzak government was cooperating with the Chinese Government to silence Bilash, it would not preclude the possibility that Bilash and Atajurt’s allegations are unfounded. 

The Uyghur Victim Database is another oft-cited source for atrocity testimony. However, its FAQ section admits that its submissions are not fact-checked and should not be treated as “cold hard facts.” Furthermore, according to its founder, Gene Bunin, many of the victim testimonies appearing on the Uyghur Victim’s Database and on the Uyghur Pulse were procured by Atajurt.  

Atajurt’s procurement of “eyewitness” testimony is even more suspect given the CIA’s alledged use of Uyghur terrorists as proxy forces. 

Indeed, the CIA is rumored to have recruited and trained Uyghur Muslims for clandestine operations throughout the Middle East. Journalist Eric Margolis told Scott Horton in both November 2008 and April 2009 interviews that he witnessed Uyghur Muslims being trained in Afghanistan by Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani ISI with the knowledge and support of the CIA for the purpose of destabilizing China.

Col. Laurence Wilkerson claimed in a 2018 speech that up to 20,000 Chinese Uyghurs had fought on the side of Al Qaeda in Idlib, Syria. Several Chinese authorities believe these Uyghur forces were invited there by Turkey, a NATO ally.

But why would the Western establishment concoct a genocide? What is the angle here? 

In the same 2018 speech, Colonel Wilkerson speculated about what a coherent US strategy in Afghanistan might look like. The strategy would have three major components. The first would be to station and keep hard military power in an extraordinarily inaccessible region of the world–an area located near the center of China’s land-based Belt and Road Initiative. The second would be to have military power next to what is potentially the world’s most unstable nuclear stockpile in Pakistan.

The third prong would be to have a military force in position to protect CIA operations into Xinjiang Province, were a hot war to break out. The 12-13 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang already dislike the Han Chinese. The CIA could stoke the existing ethnic tension to destabilize the region from within.

When revisiting the subject in an April 2, 2021 interview, Colonel Wilkerson reported this process may already be underway. According to official sources, Uyghurs who fought on the side of Al Qaeda in Syria are returning to Xinjiang. Some have already arrived. China is reportedly very concerned, as these are trained and experienced jihadi terrorists, at least in their eyes. There are rumors that Turkey and the United States may be aiding these Uyghur jihadis through Afghanistan and into Xinjiang. Colonel Wilkerson ominously concluded that these jihadis are not headed back to Xinjiang to “bake cake.”

Despite the evidence and rumors that the United States and Turkey are covertly involved with the Uyghurs, eyewitness testimony procured by Atajurt forms the basis for most allegations of genocide, including a banner Newlines Institute policy report which argued the prima facia case that the Uyghur situation fits the definition of genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

In March 2021 this same Newlines Report was plastered over every Western-aligned media outlet as the first “independent report” proving the Chinese Government is committing human rights abuses and genocide against the Uyghurs. 

A deeper examination of the Newlines Report reveals that it is, in fact, not independent. Its principal authors, which include the aforementioned Adrian Zenz, are “members of the [] Wallenberg Centre [and] the hawkish Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, [are] former US State Department officials, and [are] ardent supporters of US military interventionism.” 

Furthermore, the report’s financier and the Newlines Institute’s parent organization, Fairfax University of America, is a sham organization whose accreditation was placed in jeopardy after the US Department of Education recommended its termination. This occurred just days before the publication of the New Lines report.

Given his frequent and vitriolic coverage of the issue, Tim Pool’s failure to audit this story, or to present any contradictory evidence is inexcusable. At its worst, it is downright sinister. 

Take for instance Tim Pool’s chosen “experts” on the Uyghur issue: the cast of China Uncensored, whom he has  platformed twice in the last four months–once before Christmas 2020 and again at the beginning of March 2021

What Tim Pool may or may not know (he hasn’t addressed it) is that China Uncensored are an affiliate of New Tang Dynasty (NTD), a broadcasting entity also affiliated with the Epoch Times. Further, that the owners of NTD, the Epoch Times, and the cast of China Uncensored are members of Falun Gong, a bizarre spiritualist group founded in China in 1992 by its charismatic leader, Li Hongzhi.

falun symbol gong ntd new tang dynasty cult epoch times china uncensored

Falun Gong’s Official Emblem Credit Falun Gong

Falun Gong is a hybrid creation of Buddhism and Taoism which involves mediation and adherence to Hongzhi’s teachings. Practitioners of Falun Gong receive the benefits of good health by having Fa energy implanted in their abdomen.

Hongzhi claims that Falun Gong practitioners can levitate and walk through walls. He also claims he can “use [his] mind to direct and order things to happen”  and that “aliens have begun to invade the human mind and its ideology and culture.” Former practitioners have accused Falun Gong of being a cult, and have explained that members frequently die from foregoing medical treatment.

Falun Gong Epoch TImes NTD New Tang Dynasty

Li Hongzhi Photo Credit https://thesanghakommune.org.

In 1999 Falun Gong ran afoul of the Chinese government. Hongzhi and many of his followers fled to New York City. They now reside in a secretive 400 acre compound in upstate New York

Soon after arriving in the United States, Hongzhi and his practitioners launched a campaign to expose the Chinese Government’s persecution of Falun Gong. In 2000 John Tang, one of Hongzhi’s followers, founded the Epoch Times. After founding the Epoch Times, Tang and other Falun Gong practitioners created New Tang Dynasty, a nonprofit broadcasting outlet. 

In 2009, after the Epoch Times and NTD had grown from small startups to sustainable outlets, their “Master” Hongzhi personally addressed them in a combined staff event. In his address, Houghzhi reiterated the outlets’ mission, to “become regular media” and expose the evil of the Chinese government.

Despite its protestations to the contrary, China Uncensored is a subsidiary of NTD. It even uses the NTD studio to film its content. Its cast are practitioners of Falun Gong. 

This is the same cast that appeared on Timcast IRL to accuse the Chinese government of committing genocide, systematic rape, torture, and organ harvesting. During his most recent appearance on Timcast IRL, China Uncensored host Chris Chappel specifically mentioned the Chinese government’s persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

In the combined four and a half hours of content that Tim Pool has filmed with China Uncensored, how could he fail to question them even once about their affiliation with Falun Gong and NTD–especially when these accusations of organ harvesting notoriously stem from Falun Gong itself? 

chris chappel tim pool falun gong uyghur genocide

China Uncensored Host Chris Chappel on Timcast IRL Credit Timcast IRL

Given the seriousness of the allegations and the implication of military or cultural confrontation, it is inexcusable to broadcast them as fact.

So what about the other claims that Tim Pool and China Uncensored have made? Are there really millions of Chinese Uyghurs locked away in concentration camps? What about the Drone footage we saw?

As the Grey Zone reports, the support for the US State Department’s claim that there are 800,000 to 2 million Uyghurs detained in concentration camps stems from two sources. One of those sources is–you guessed it–Adrian Zenz. The other source is the “Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders,” (NCHRD) a Washington-supported policy institute. NCHRD’s 2018 report reached its conclusions after interviewing a total of eight individuals. These reports are not credible.

The truth is more complicated than Tim Pool, China Uncensored, and the mainstream media would have you believe. In fact, the truth seems more akin to the US’s own prison system.

According to Peter Lee, an independent reporter whose work appears in Asia Times, the Chinese Government is attempting to integrate the Uyghurs more closely into Chinese society. The purported goal is to reduce terrorism and to transform the predominantly rural Uyghur population into cosmopolitan factory workers. As terse as it is to say, the Uyghur population is worth much more to the Chinese Government alive than dead.

With that goal in mind, yes, vocational education and training facilities do exist in Xinjiang. The Chinese Government openly admits this. It is unclear just how many Uyghurs are in these facilities and if they are there voluntarily. There is evidence that some are  compensated enough to send money home to their families. Without a thorough audit, however, it is next to impossible to know the true numbers and the reality of their experience there.

If the court documents provided by The Xinjiang Victims Database are reliable, it also appears that some Uyghurs are sentenced to these facilities as a part of a criminal punishment. Admittedly, many of these convictions appear unjust.

Is Xinjiang a bastion of classical liberal ideals? Absolutely not. Neither is it the Great Leap Forward or the Holocaust. Even if it were, the issue would not be solved by humanitarian military intervention.

Regardless, Pool often speaks of the inevitability of war with China, citing Thucydides Trap and the Strass and Howe Theory of the 4th Turning. From this, he argues war is inevitable–we must fight for our own preservation. 

These are self-fulfilling prophecies.

War is the most lied about affair in history. The Uyghur Genocide issue is a large cog in the rising confrontation between the West and China. Before diving headlong into the next world conflict, or the next half century of nuclear brinkmanship, let us take a sober look at the evidence.

I welcome Tim Pool and the independent media to do the same. 

Patrick MacFarlane is a practicing attorney and host of the Liberty Weekly Podcast where he covers libertarian legal theory and Austrian economics. Find his work at http://www.libertyweekly.net.

State Legislators Are Working To Reign in the Empire

State Legislators Are Working To Reign in the Empire

Fed up after years of relentless National Guard deployments in undeclared wars, state lawmakers across the country are pushing legislation that would prohibit the use of Guard units in combat zones without a formal declaration of war by Congress.

The bills are being promoted by BringOurTroopsHome.US, a self-described organization of “right-of-center” veterans working to end American involvement in “endless wars” and restore congressional authority over war-making. The libertarian 10th Amendment Center is also backing the cause.

The proposed laws would require governors to determine the constitutionality of orders that place Guard units on federal active duty; where they’re deemed unconstitutional, the governor is required to take action to prevent the unit from being surrendered to federal control and sent into harm’s way.

The first “Defend the Guard” bill was conceived and introduced by Air Force veteran and West Virginia state legislator Pat McGeehan. While no state has enacted the law yet, interest is spreading widely, with legislators now pushing the measure in 31 states.

Conservative Veterans Taking Point

BringOurTroopsHome.US is led by Dan McKnight, a 13-year veteran of the Marine Corps Reserve, active duty Army and Idaho Army National Guard whose military service ended after he was injured in Afghanistan.

McKnight and many other veterans leading the drive against the War on Terror are from the right side of the political spectrum. That’s a sharp contrast to the typical antiwar veteran of the Vietnam era, but McKnight says vets from both wars share a common experience.

Today’s veterans “are coming home and saying the same thing (Vietnam vets did): ‘What was the point of that? What was our mission? We have no mission, we have no definition of success, we have no clear path to victory, we have no idea what victory means and we’re there without a constitutional authority to send us there’,” he says.

“Every one of us raised our hands and swore an oath to the Constitution…and when it says Congress shall be the only body to declare war, we take that to heart. And when Congress doesn’t do it, we understand bad things can happen: long, endless foreign misadventures,” says McKnight.

In a 2019 Pew Research poll, 64% of veterans said the war in Iraq wasn’t worth fighting; 58% said the same of Afghanistan. A January Concerned Veterans for America/YouGov poll found two-thirds or more of veterans support full withdrawals from both countries.

“The right-of-center veterans are now echoing the message of left-of-center veterans, and it’s hard to ignore when veterans from the entire political spectrum are saying the same thing: Enough already—if you want us to go and bleed and die and spend our lives and your treasure in a foreign land, then Congress should put their name on the line before we put our boots on the ground,” McKnight says.

That’s what the Constitution demands. In an impassioned speech at the West Virginia legislature last month, McGeehan quoted James Madison: “The Constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war and most prone to it. It has accordingly, with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.”

Deployments’ Steep Toll

The National Guard has played a major role in America’s post-9/11 militarism: As recently as December, more than 57,000 Guard members were deployed around the world.

The federal government’s reliance on the National Guard makes state legislatures an intriguing second front in the drive to curtail the War on Terror. “Defend the Guard” laws also give state lawmakers a rare chance to influence foreign policy—and to impose consequences for the executive branch’s usurpation of war powers.

The heavy reliance on the Guard takes a toll on soldiers, families, neighborhoods and states. The intense pace of National Guard deployments was underscored at a recent Defend the Guard hearing in South Dakota: While opposing “Defend the Guard,” the state adjutant general acknowledged that, during the entire Global War on Terrorism to date, the state has had all its troops home for just 42 days.

McKnight has friends who’ve done a staggering 12 or 13 overseas National Guard deployments. Beyond the risk to life and limb, and the hardships imposed on individuals, families and marriages, he says communities also pay a price.

Guard members “are police officers, tradesmen, mechanics, schoolteachers, attorneys. (When) they have to leave that job behind, it puts a burden on the community,” says McKnight. Upon their return, Guard members are generally guaranteed the option to reclaim their jobs—but that sometimes means displacing those who filled their positions while they were away, compounding the disruptive effect.

Deployments also prevent National Guard units from responding to crises at home—their primary reason for existing. For example:

  • When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, thousands of the states’ National Guard soldiers were deployed to Iraq. Mississippi’s 223rd Engineer Battalion returned to repair hurricane damage—but was ordered to leave its equipment in Iraq for use by other units.
  • In 2020, as Oregon endured some of its worst wildfires ever, half the state’s National Guard helicopters were in Afghanistan, including all its CH-47 Chinooks—dual-rotor choppers capable of carrying 26,000-pound payloads and ideal for use in firefighting. The Oregon Guard did what it could with Blackhawk helicopters that have one tenth the lifting power.

The Empire Strikes Back

When Defend the Guard measures are introduced in state legislatures, the national security establishment and its allies emerge to defend the status quo—by hook or by crook.

In South Dakota, McKnight says, “the military-industrial complex…sent a two-star general to testify…and made all kinds of threats, and insinuated the state would lose their National Guard if they passed this bill, which is simply not true.”

Weeks ago, Republican Idaho Representative Joe Palmer, who chairs the state’s Transportation & Defense Committee, seemed to resort to underhanded tactics to kill a Defend the Guard bill.

He put the measure to an initial procedural vote in the committee, and declared it to have failed by voice vote. Video of the proceedings, however, shows the result of the voice vote to be unclear at best, and McKnight says his group’s post-vote polling of members suggests the measure would have advanced had Palmer taken a recorded vote.

If Palmer didn’t already know he should play fair with veterans who are trying to prevent fellow citizen-soldiers from dying in unconstitutional wars, he may be learning that lesson now: McKnight says his group facilitated an emergency meeting of the GOP committee in Palmer’s home town, which is now considering a resolution censuring Palmer for his conduct.

“If you want to play parliamentary tricks and the price of your tricks is the blood of my brothers and sisters who (deploy) over and over again, then we’re going to take some blood of our own, and we’re going to do that the way politicians understand, and that’s with voters in the primary and the general election,” says McKnight.

Sometimes, the establishment’s machinations are done away from cameras. In a 2015 interview, West Virginia’s McGeehan said he was summoned to a meeting in the Speaker’s office with the commander of the state National Guard. The general said he’d received a call from the Pentagon, threatening that, if Defend the Guard became law, West Virginia bases would find their way onto the list of installations targeted for closure.

Liz Cheney Intervenes to Thwart Wyoming Bill

McKnight says “the most offensive opposition that we’ve faced” came from U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney.

“When we pushed the Defend the Guard bill in Wyoming last year, she or her staff contacted members of the Wyoming legislature and said, ‘If this passes in Wyoming, I will personally see to it that two C-130 aircraft are stripped from Wyoming and sent to Texas’,” says McKnight, who was in Cheyenne to support the bill, along with U.S. Senator Rand Paul.

Bethany Baldes, Wyoming state director of BringOurTroopsHome.US, was also on hand. She too says lawmakers told her they received calls from Cheney’s office that included threats to send new C-130 cargo planes to Texas. (Cheney’s communications director has not replied to an invitation to comment on this story.)

The measure failed, 35-22. A statement signed by a group of Wyoming senators opposing the measure seemed to turn logic on its head by claiming the bill “calls into question Wyoming’s support for our soldiers and airmen in the National Guard.”

That episode was McKnight’s second jarring encounter with Cheney, whom he describes as a “warmonger heiress of a military-industrial fortune.” Months before, he and other veterans met with Cheney in Washington to urge her to support the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

“We went into Liz Cheney’s office and we asked her, ‘What conditions must be met on the ground for you to support ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing our troops home?’ And she said, ‘I don’t think I could ever support that position’.”

Pressing the issue, the veterans asked Cheney how long troops should remain. “She looked us stone-faced in the eye and said, ‘Forever. American troops will be in Afghanistan forever’,” says McKnight. “That’s when we decided it was time to step away from the swamp and work in the states, and force the states to force Congress’s hand.”

This article was originally featured at Stark Realities and is republished with permission.

Are Vaccine Mandates Constitutional? ft. Blackbird w/ James Jenneman Ep. 161

Are Vaccine Mandates Constitutional? ft. Blackbird w/ James Jenneman Ep. 161

In February, I joined James Jenneman of Blackbird to discuss a ton of topics: the future impacts of covid, masks, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, conspiracies, crypto, the Gestapo, and my Grandpa, the John Bircher. In this episode we also discuss Jacobson v. MassachussettsThe Supreme Court case which ruled vaccine mandates are constitutional.

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Show Notes:

News Roundup

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