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5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

Danny Sjursen discusses America’s absurd Afghan War strategy for the last nearly two decades. Sjursen served in Afghanistan during the Obama surge, seeing firsthand the utter futility of America’s attempt to conquer and rule a country that for centuries has been the graveyard of empires. Scott and Sjursen are hopeful that President Trump will follow through on some of his rhetoric and instincts and actually try to end this war, though they realize how difficult it will be even for a president who seems ready to leave, given all the entrenched interests that would like to stay forever.

Discussed on the show:

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. army major and former history instructor at West Point. He writes regularly for TomDispatch.com and he’s the author of “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet.

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; Listen and Think Audio; TheBumperSticker.com; and LibertyStickers.com.

Donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal, or Bitcoin: 1Ct2FmcGrAGX56RnDtN9HncYghXfvF2GAh.

5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

5/22/20 Brett Wilkins on America’s Secret Bioweapons Programs

Scott talks to Brett Wilkins about Project SHAD, a Cold War era bioweapons test program that exposed thousands of American sailors to chemical and biological weapons. These veterans have been seeking redress for a slew of ailments allegedly caused by exposure to these weapons, but the government continues to evade culpability. Sadly, SHAD is only one of many incidents where the U.S. government deliberately tested dangerous substances on its soldiers, and even on its civilians. On top of such programs, the American military has left behind a wake of chronic health problems and generations of birth defects in places like Vietnam, Iraq, and Pakistan because of the toxic chemicals and heavy metals used to wage its wars.

Discussed on the show:

Brett Wilkins is the editor-at-large for US news at the Digital Journal and a contributor at The Daily Kos. Follow him on Twitter @MoralLowGround.

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; Listen and Think Audio; TheBumperSticker.com; and LibertyStickers.com.

Donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal, or Bitcoin: 1Ct2FmcGrAGX56RnDtN9HncYghXfvF2GAh.

5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional Safety

“In America we say if anyone gets hurt, we will ban it for everyone everywhere for all time. And before we know it, everything is banned.”

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional SafetyIt’s a common refrain: We have bubble-wrapped the world. Americans in particular are obsessed with “safety.” The simplest way to get any law passed in America, be it a zoning law or a sweeping reform of the intelligence community, is to invoke a simple sentence: “A kid might get hurt.”

Almost no one is opposed to reasonable efforts at making the world a safer place. But the operating word here is “reasonable.” Banning lawn darts, for example, rather than just telling people that they can be dangerous when used by unsupervised children, is a perfect example of a craving for safety gone too far.

Beyond the realm of legislation, this has begun to infect our very culture. Think of things like “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces.” These are part of broader cultural trends in search of a kind of “emotional safety” – a purported right to never be disturbed or offended by anything. This is by no means confined to the sphere of academia, but is also in our popular culture, both in “extremely online” and more mainstream variants.

Why are Americans so obsessed with safety? What is the endgame of those who would bubble wrap the world, both physically and emotionally? Perhaps most importantly, what can we do to turn back the tide and reclaim our culture of self-reliancemental toughness, and giving one another the benefit of the doubt so that we don’t “bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security,” as President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about?

Coddling and Splintering: The Transformation of the American Mind

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional SafetyTwo books published in 2018 provide parallel insights into the problems presented by the safety obsession of American culture: The Splintering of the American Mind by William Egginton, focused on the tendency of Americans to tunnel themselves off into self-selected bubbles, and The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, which deals more with the tendency to avoid any uncomfortable or unpleasant information.

There is an interesting phenomenon involved in coddling: Australian psychologist Nick Haskam first coined the term “concept creep.” Basically, this means that terms are often elastic and expand past the point of meaning. Take, for example, the concept of “trauma.” This used to have a very limited meaning. However, “trauma” quickly became expanded to mean even slight physical or emotional harm or discomfort. Thus the increasing belief among the far left that words can be “violence” – not “violent,” mind you, but actual, literal violence.

In the other direction, the definition of “hero” has been expanded to mean just about anything. Every teacher, firefighter and police officer is now considered a “hero.” This isn’t to downplay or minimize the importance of these roles in our society. It’s simply to point out that “hero” just doesn’t mean what it used to 100 or even 30 years ago.

Once this expansion of a term occurs, there is never any kind of retraction. Trauma now means just about anything, and violence will soon be expanded to include lawful, peaceful speech that one disapproves of. Once this happens, there will be no going back. In the words of Sam Harris:

“We (as a society) have to be committed to defending free speech however impolitic, or unpopular, or even wrong because defending that is the only barrier to violence. That’s because the only way we can influence one another short of physical violence is through speech, through communicating ideas. The moment you say certain ideas can’t be communicated you create a circumstance where people have no alternative but to go hands on you.”

It is extremely dangerous to begin labelling everything as violence for reasons of free speech, but perhaps even more dangerous is the notion that when anything is violence, nothing is violence. Redefining words as “violence” means that we have little recourse for when actual violence occurs.

The Coddling of the American Mind notes some other concepts that are important as we speak of America’s obsession with “safety” above all else. First, that coddling combined with splintering means that people’s political views are much more like fanatical religious views than anything. They don’t see themselves as having to debate ideas or seek common ground. Rather, the opposing side and its proponents are seen as “dangerous” and must be discredited at all costs. It is worth noting that this is much more common among the left than the right or the center, which has now become more the place where “live and let live” types congregate.

The problem with this goes beyond simply being irritated by irrational people barking at you or at someone else: There is an entire generation of people who are seriously lacking in critical thinking skills. They think that labelling people and name-calling are excuses for a reasoned argument. In the words of Voltaire, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

These problems are hardly confined to political radicalism or academia. Indeed, the corporate sector is no stranger to this kind of safety obsession. There is the phenomenon of “woke capital,” where the corporations find the latest celebrity cause-du-jour and use it as a marketing strategy.

There is currently an extreme risk aversion in management science. Companies will now do basically anything to avoid “a kid getting hurt” or someone’s delicate sensibilities being offended.

Education from kindergarten up to the universities is increasingly about teaching doctrines and ideology, rather than critical thinking and problem solving skills. All of this is a dangerous admixture that combines the full weight of the academic, cultural and business elites in this country. And its consequences are far reaching.

Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional SafetyFor those unaware, a “trigger warning” is a person’s advisory that disturbing content is going to be posted. However, in an example of concept creep, the meaning of “disturbing” has become expanded to mean, well, just about anything that might offend a leftist. It is also sometimes known as a “content warning,” “TW” or “CW.”

A similar concept is that of a “safe space.” What used to be a term used for a place where people in actual danger of physical harm could express themselves, a “safe space” now means a place where there is no room for disagreement or questions because language is literally violence.

This might all sound very silly and we definitely agree that it is. However, it is quickly becoming de rigeur not just in academia, which is increasingly functioning as a bizarre combination of a daycare center for 21 year olds and an indoctrination program, but also in the corporate world and in the media.

It’s not surprising that such foolishness has reached our corporate elites, because so many figures within that world come from the Ivy League. Harvard Law, for example, was the center of a controversy where they were urged not to teach rape law or even use the word “violate” (which makes it pretty hard to talk about violations of the law). A Harvard professor argued that greater anxiety among students to discuss complicated and nuanced séxual assault cases was impeding the ability of professors to adequately teach their students. This in turn would lead to poorly prepared attorneys for rape victims in the future.

Beyond a simple discussion in the academic sphere, there are student groups on campus who urge students not to attend or participate in class discussions focused on séxual violence. The same student groups advocate for warning students in advance so they can skip out on class and even to exclude “triggering” material from tests. Once again, the real victims here are the victims of séxual assault whose attorneys will be ill-prepared to advise them, to say nothing of the cumulative effect on the prosecutorial environment.

Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis was subject to a lengthy investigation by a kangaroo court and frivolous Title IX complaints over an article she wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education about campus séx panics. Top comedians like Chris Rock now refuse to perform on college campuses, a place that has typically been their bread and butter.

Another key term to understand here is “microaggressions” which means just about anything. Offensive statements under this umbrella include things like “I don’t see race,” “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”

To readers of Generation X or older, this all might sound like a resurgence of political correctness and, indeed, to some extent it is. However, there is something different about the current anti-speech craze sweeping not just campuses, but also boardrooms: Political correctness was, at least in theory, about the elimination of so-called “hate speech” (for example, using “mentally disabled” instead of “retarded” or “little person” instead of “midget”) and also about broadening the canon of literature to include more women and minorities.

One doesn’t need to agree with either objective or be as generous as we are to see that the West has entered a new, accelerated and intensified version of the old political correctness that is qualitatively more dangerous. The “safe spaces” phase of this is about eliminating anything and everything that might be emotionally troubling to students on campus.

This assumes a high degree of fragility among American college students. But perhaps this assumption isn’t totally off base.

The Road to Safety Obsession

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional SafetyIf you were born before 1985 or so, your childhood was vastly different than of those born after you. As a child, you probably came and went as you pleased, letting your parents know where you were going, who you would be with and when you might be home. You rode your bike without a helmet and if you were bullied at school there’s a good chance that you view this as a character-building experience, not one of deep emotional trauma.

So what happened?

A few things. First, in 1984, the “missing child” milk carton was introduced. America became obsessed with child abduction in response to several high-profile child kidnappings over the period of a few years. Etan PlatzAdam Walsh and Johnny Gosch are just three of the names known to Americans during this time period. In September 1984, the Des Moines, Iowa-based Anderson Erickson Dairy began printing the pictures of Johnny Gosch and Eugene Martin on milk cartons. Chicago followed suit, then the entire state of California. In December 1984, a nationwide program was launched to keep the faces of abducted children front and center in the American mind.

The milk cartons didn’t find many kids, but they did create the panic of “stranger danger,” where children were taught to fear strangers even though the lion’s share of child abduction, molestation and abuse comes from friends, family and other trusted figures such as public school teachers or camp counselors. Most missing children in America are runaways and in 99 percent of all child abductions, the perpetrator is a non-custodial father. There is at least one case of “stranger danger” being harmful – a lost 11-year-old Boy Scout who thought his rescuers were looking to kidnap him.

Some of the protocols established out of this were useful, such as AMBER Alerts and Code Adam. Awareness of child abduction in general was raised and as a result there’s significantly fewer child abductions today than there were in 1980. Indeed, stranger abduction is incredibly rare in the United States. But this has come with a dark side.

You might be familiar with the myriad of cases in suburban America where children playing alone are arrested by the police because they don’t have adult supervision. The parents are then questioned by the police or, in some cases, the state’s Child Protective Services.

There was also the panic after the mass shooting at Columbine High School, which led to the bubble wrapping of schools alongside the home. “Zero tolerance” policies were implemented alongside school-wide peanut butter bans.

And so the result is that there are at least two generations of American children raised in a protective net so tight that they not only have trouble expressing themselves, but also being exposed to failure and discomfort. What began as a good-faith effort to prevent child abduction and increase overall child welfare has ended up, as a side effect, creating a world where children were raised in such safety that they can’t even handle being upset.

This has not only insulated children from the consequences of their own actions and the normal pains of growing up, but also gives the impression that no matter what their problems, “adults” are ready to step in and save the day at any moment.

It’s worth noting that, in recent years, there has been a sharp rise in mental illness among young people, both on campus and off, including those with severe mental health problems.

Cops and the 24-Hour News Cycle

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional SafetyThere are two other cultural phenomena worth exploring: The television series Cops and the 24-hour cable news cycle. As of April 2020, Cops is still on the air, having moved from Fox to Spike TV in 2013.

Cops was more than just a TV series, it was a cultural phenomenon that changed television. The cinéma vérité style used by the show was to be copied in the 90s by virtually every reality show you can name. Curiously, it came out around the same time that crime rates had plummeted comparatively to the 70s and 80s. And just at that time, people started having the worst in human behavior beamed into their homes for entertainment every Saturday night.

At the same time, CNN was bringing news into your home 24 hours a day without end. This meant they had to fill programming around the clock – and most news is bad news. So in addition to a hugely popular program centered around chasing criminals in the act, Americans also had a constant stream of bad news and dangerous events pumped into their homes. The result was the end of the “free range child,” the kind who learned through play and discovered risk management through trial and error. This was replaced with children whose entire existence was micromanaged by adults, with little to no unsupervised play time.

The ability to learn through failure is a well-established principle going back to the Greeks, who called it pathemata mathemata (“guide your learning through pain”). The knowledge and wisdom gained through failure and pain are arguably more lasting and valuable than those learned in school.

The Generation Gap: Millennials and Gen Z

Older generations (Generation X and Baby Boomers) have a tendency to conflate Millennials and Gen Z (also known as “Zoomers”). However, there are two key differences, one cultural and one clinical: First, Zoomers are much more digital natives than their Millennial counterparts. They didn’t get constant internet access or mobile access at college. They’ve had it since they were in middle school in many cases.

While this is bound to create secondary cultural differences, we know of one clinical difference between Millennials and Zoomers: Zoomers are much more prone to mental illness, specifically depression, anxiety, alcoholism and self-harm.

Depression and anxiety in particular are through the roof for girls, with moderate increases for boys. While self-reported cases are up, we also have harder clinical data: There has been a 62 percent increase in hospital admissions.

The Baby Boomers and Gen Xers created an environment where it is safer than ever to be a child, but at what cost? There has been widespread and verifiable psychological damage done to the younger generation, which is likely being compounded by the coddling taking place in our nation’s universities.

Screen Time and Social Media

“Screen time” is the new obsession for parents, especially among, ironically, those who work in high-tech Silicon Valley jobs such as Steve Jobs, father of the iPhone. But there seems to be an emerging consensus among those who have actually studied the topic that the problem isn’t “screen time” per se, but rather the more specific use of it in the form of social media. This has been identified as the cause of depression and anxiety, particularly among girls.

Why is social media usage particularly impactful among girls? Dr. Haidt and others postulate that it’s because they are more sensitive to the “perfect” lives being lived by beautiful social media influencers – at least the lives that they lead online. What’s more, there is a lot of exclusion and bullying taking place on social media. In days past, you only heard about the party you didn’t get invited to, but now you get to watch it unfold in real time on Snapchat or other platforms. And cyberbullying is much harder to track and police than its real world equivalent.

There’s a related bubble wrapping going on with regard to a different sort of screen time: Kids today are often forbidden from playing with plastic guns or even finger guns. There is the notorious case of the 7-year-old child who was suspended for biting a Pop Tart toaster pastry into the shape of a gun. But millions of children come home (from the same schools where finger guns can warrant a suspension) to play Grand Theft Auto for hours on end.

Indeed, there is some evidence that suggests that violent movies and video games can trigger violent thoughts in some, but not all, people who view them. The National Institute of Mental Health has done an extensive study detailing the impact that violent media has on those who view it.

A Nation Divided

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional SafetyThere’s not much hyperbole in saying that America is barely a single nation anymore. We talk about “red states” and “blue states,” but the divide is much deeper than that. Even the coastal states largely have an urban college-educated Democratic population and a rural non-college-educated Republican population.

While some animosity between different areas of the political spectrum, or even resentment of cities by the countryside and vice versa, is nothing new, the rancor took off sharply in the early 2000s following the controversial election of George W. Bush and his expanded imperial presidency after 9/11.

Social media makes it easier for extremes to amplify their anger. What’s more, it’s much easier for people to become part of an online crusade – or witch hunt – than it is for them to do so without it.

This is a big part of what is behind the string of disinvitations and protests on American college campuses. No one, especially young people (where “young” means “under 30”), can bear to listen to the opinions of someone they don’t agree with. Disinvitations aren’t limited to highly controversial figures like MILO and Richard Spencer, or even the decidedly much more vanilla Ann Coulter. Condoleeza Rice, the first black female Secretary of State, was disinvited in 2014, as was the first female head of the IMF and the first female finance minister of a G8 nation, Christine Lagarde.

Because Americans increasingly refuse even to listen to arguments from the other side, inserting instead a strawman in favor of reasoned debate, there is no reason to believe that the American political and ideological divide will not increase.

The Evolution of Victimhood Culture

America and the West have largely adopted a victimhood culture. It is worth taking a minute to trace this radical transformation of values in the West from its origins.

The earliest societies in the West were honor cultures. While it sounds like a no-brainer that we should return to an honor culture, we should unpack precisely what this means. An honor culture usually means a lot of interpersonal violence. Small slights must be dealt with through dead violence – because a gentleman cannot take any kind of stain on his honor. Dueling and blood feuds are common in these kinds of cultures.

This is superseded by dignity culture. Dignity culture is different, because people are presumed to have dignity regardless of what others think of them. In a dignity culture, people are admired because they have a “thick skin” and are able to brush off slights even if they are seriously insulting. While we might find ourselves offended, even rightfully so, it is considered important to rise above the offense and conduct ourselves with dignity. Everyone heard some variant of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” growing up as a child. This is perhaps the key phrase of a dignity culture.

Victimhood culture is concerned with status in a similar manner to honor culture. Indeed, people become incredibly intolerant of any kind of perceived slight, much in the manner of an honor culture. However, in a victimhood culture, it is being offended, taking offense, and being a victim that provides one with status.

Victimhood culture means that people are divided into classes, where victims are good and oppressors are bad. There is an eternal conflict with eternal grievances that can never fully be corrected or atoned for. People feel the need to constantly walk on eggshells and censor themselves. This leads to an overall emphasis on safety, as even words become “violence” – we need trigger warnings and safe spaces to protect us.

Victimhood culture is closely associated with safety culture. Safety culture is, above all else, debilitating. Those who choose a marginalized identity – and in the contemporary West, a marginalized identity is almost always a choice – become more fragile and more dependent on the broader society. At the same time, the powerful elements in society gain a stake in reinforcing this marginalized identity. The Great Society provides a case study in this dynamic.

Those who do not receive the so-called “benefits” of safety culture are frequently more prepared for the real world. Who would you rather hire? Someone who studied hard in a rigorous discipline for four years or someone who spent four years being coddled in what is basically a day care center for twentysomethings? With this in mind, it’s not too big of a leap to see that straight white men might actually have become “privileged” through the process of not having access to the collective hugbox in higher education.

The Role of Lawyers and Litigation

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional SafetyThere is a relationship with the litigious society in which we live with warning labels everywhere, often for hazards that would seem incredibly obvious to most observant people. In previous generations, even power tools didn’t come with warnings to roll your sleeves up or take off your watch. This information was either common sense or passed along in high school shop classes or on the job.

However, the American legal system has no penalty for frivolous lawsuits, which has led to an explosion in the number of lawsuits. There is a massive army of lawyers in the United States (which has a surplus of some 40 percent) whose profession revolves around finding aggrieved parties who weren’t properly “warned” – or indeed to be able to help write the warning labels themselves. These labels do not even exist for actual safety. The same type of person who is going to do the thing being warned against is likely the same type of person who doesn’t read warnings. The labels are simply there as a form of “CYA” for the firms who make them.

That said, to a certain degree, the “litigious society” is a myth. The oft-cited McDonald’s coffee burn is actually more reasonable than people are aware: The elderly woman in question who was burned simply wanted McDonald’s – who kept their coffee extra hot to prevent people from taking part of their “free refills” policy – to pay for her skin graft resulting from the burn. When McDonald’s refused to settle this out of court and the case went to trial, they were rewarded for their efforts at stonewalling with punitive damages.

So the main example of frivolous lawsuits is a big strawman. But to be clear – frivolous lawsuits are real. One great example of an actually frivolous lawsuit was the man who sued his dry cleaner for $67 million because they delivered his pants to the wrong person. There was no actual damage here and it’s difficult to express just how ridiculous the dollar figure claimed was. This case was thrown out of court, as most of these types of cases are. Still, litigants pursue them either to get media attention or to harass the defendant or both, a phenomenon known as “lawfare.” And these cases clog up genuine claims in the courts.

Civil trials are long and drawn-out things. And with 40 million of them in the United States every year and over a million lawyers, it’s unsurprising that the system has become clogged with lawsuits, many of which are either totally frivolous (remember – there’s no penalty for filing a frivolous lawsuit in America) or just the type of thing that should be either settled or handled through binding arbitration.

While the litigious society exists in parallel to the “safe spaces” of college campuses, it is worth noting because it is part of the larger bubble wrapping of the American landscape. The same kids who were raised with helicopter parents and a general sense that they had a “right” to never be offended were likewise raised in an environment where people could be sued for anything or, at the very least, this was the public perception. It is just another factor of risk aversion in American life.

There are other consequences of having too many lawyers around and having them congregate within our political class: Words are chosen to obfuscate and laws proliferate, as legislation becomes a sort of “jobs program” for lawyers. The more laws we have, the less free we are and the less social trust we have. As laws, regulations, and agencies take the place of civil society, the state grows at the expense of everything else and the less trust we have in our society.

Overreacting to the Wuhan Coronavirus

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional SafetyIn 2020, the Wuhan Coronavirus broke out of China and spread all around the world. The world had not seen a deadly, contagious virus with such scope since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 to 1920. At first, the response was denial and apathy. However, this quickly gave way to what could be considered a massive overreaction: Shutting everything down.

There was a certain logic to this: If people gathering together were what was spreading the virus, then simply keep people apart until the whole thing blows over. However, this is also potentially a huge overreaction. It is a medical solution in the driver’s seat without any nod to the economic, social or military consequences that flow from it. Even if one agrees that medical solutions are to be the primary driver, it does not follow that they are the only driver.

Because of the lopsided and often hysterical reaction, many of the proposed solutions don’t even make sense: For example, telling everyone they can go to the supermarket while prohibiting them from going to small offices, or shutting down the border between the United States and Canada – two countries with highly infected populations and a sprawling border that is largely unpatrolled.

A brief disclaimer: None of us are epidemiologists or virologists. And we defer to their superior knowledge on this subject.

However, during the Spanish flu pandemic, life did not shut down quite so completely as it has during the Coronavirus pandemic. The methods used during the Spanish flu were isolation of the sick, mask wearing in public, and cancellation of large events. In places where these were practiced rigorously, there was a significant decline in the number of infections and death. St. Louis in particular is known as an exemplar of what to do during an easily transmissible epidemic.

“The economy” has been cited as a reason the total shutdown of life during the Coronavirus pandemic was a poor idea. This might sound frivolous, but the mass unemployment not only leads to destitution for those when the economy is so paralyzed that there are no other jobs forthcoming. It also leads to a spike in the suicide rate. There is a certain calculus that must be done – how much unemployment is worth how much death from Wuhan Coronavirus?

The reaction to this virus is noteworthy, because it is the first major pandemic of this new, insulated and coddled age. Rather than reasonable measures to mitigate death, the choice made was to do anything and everything possible to prevent death entirely. Not only might this be an unwise decision, it might be a fool’s errand: The virus seems to be much more contagious than was previously thought, as well as much less lethal.

More than one reasonable person has asked what would happen if we all just went about our lives making reasonable precautions, such as hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing, and the cancellation of large events like sports and concerts. This is effectively what Sweden has done and it appears to work, especially when contrasted with their neighbors in Finland who have done basically the same as America. How much sense does it make to have the entire community converge upon its grocery stores while not allowing anyone to go into an office, ever? Compare this with what has passed for reasonable reaction: Closing down every school, every dine-in restaurant, and the government dictating which businesses are essential and which aren’t.

A big motivator of this is a compulsion to not lose a single life to the Wuhan Coronavirus, which is a totally unreasonable goal. People are going to die. The question isn’t “how tightly do we have to lock the country down to ensure no one dies,” but rather “what are reasonable measures we can take to balance public safety against personal choice and social cohesion?”

The splintering and division of America in practice has meant that the establishment conservative media was largely in denial over the virus for weeks. It is not a liberal smear to say that the amount of denialism from establishment conservative media, pundits, think tanks, bureaucrats and elected officials has in practice meant that America responded much more slowly and conservatively than it might have with a more unified America body politic.

At the beginning of spring 2020, the virus seemed poised to devastate the American South, which largely stuck with the early conservative media denialism, eschewing social distancing, shuttering of certain public places and mask wearing. Again, a more united body politic and the media and trust in the media that goes along with that might have prevented a lot of illness and death.

Imagine the impact of Walter Cronkite or Edward Murrow going on television and telling the American public to mask up and maintain distance versus the impact of Rachel Maddow and Tucker Carlson doing it.

What Is Vindictive Protectiveness?

“Vindictive protectiveness” was a term coined by Haidt and Lukianoff to describe the environment on America’s college campuses with regard to speech codes and similar. However, it can refer more broadly to the cultural atmosphere in the United States and the West today. From the college campus to the corporate boardroom to the office, Americans have to watch what they say and maybe even what they think lest they fall afoul of extra-legal speech and thought codes.

Perhaps worst of all, an entire generation is being raised to see this not only as normal, but as beneficial. This means that as this generation comes of age and grows into leadership positions, that there is a significant chance that these codes will be enforced more rigorously, not less. And while there may be ebbs and flows (political correctness went into hibernation for pretty much the entire administration of George W. Bush – though to be fair, there was an imperfect replacement in the form of post-9/11 jingoism), the current outrage factory is much more concerning than the one that sort of just hung around in the background in the 1990s.

Put plainly: the next wave will be worse. We may not have Maoist-style Red Guards in America quite yet, but we’re not far off and the emphasis should be on “yet.”

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional Safety originally appeared in the Resistance Library at Ammo.com.

5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

Are you a fan of Dan Carlin, George Friedman, Stephen Kotkin, and Victor Davis Hanson?

Good, because we are looking for an American podcast host who is knowledgeable in the following areas:

  • Military history
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Skill-wise, we’re looking for:

  • Affable personality
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We think someone in the Libertarian Institute community might be a good fit for this role.

For more information and how to get in touch with us, visit our job posting.

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History of the ATF: How the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Became Corrupt & Abusive

History of the ATF: How the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Became Corrupt & Abusive

It’s unlikely that there is a single federal alphabet organization less popular among the readership of this website than the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. These are the people who gave us both the Siege at Ruby Ridge and the Siege of Waco. What’s more, they may well be engaged in an entirely unconstitutional exercise: monitoring and patrolling the gun ownership of law-abiding citizens.

There’s also a solid case to be made that the ATF is a rogue organization, the most corrupt of the federal alphabet agencies. This can be seen through a number of scandals beginning with Ruby Ridge, threading through the siege at Mount Carmel in Waco, and continuing to the notorious “Fast and Furious” scandal.

While firearms owners, weapons enthusiasts and Second Amendment advocates might have a special bone to pick with the ATF, we believe that all freedom-loving Americans should be concerned about the overreach, lawlessness and lack of accountability in this organization. Roman poet Juvenal once posed an important (and famous) question about powerful justice officers: Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?” – Who is to guard the guardians?

All told, there are over 20,000 firearms laws and regulations on the books at the state and federal level. Many of these contradict each other or are written with a lot of room for interpretation. Gun owners and gun dealers are easy prey for a corrupt and lawless federal agency that wants to twist its arms outside the bounds of the law.

It’s also worth considering what overreach and lack of accountability other federal organizations are responsible for that we don’t know about, simply because they do not have the same spotlight on them as the ATF – a reminder that the scandals mentioned above are just the ones that we know about.

We recommend reading this article in concert with our other articles on the ATF: WacoRuby Ridge and Fast and Furious. Each of these contains familiar tropes with regard to the ATF: Entrapment, “lost” evidence, a total lack of accountability, aggressive policing tactics where discretion would probably have saved lives, and a vengeful manner of doing business.

The Pre-History of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

History of the ATF: How the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Became Corrupt & AbusiveThe ATF’s genesis lies all the way back in 1886, as a part of the Department of Treasury. Then it was known as the Revenue Laboratory within the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The pre-history of the ATF can then be traced through the Bureau of Prohibition, itself a branch of the Bureau of Internal Revenue formed in 1920. The Bureau of Prohibition was then spun off as an independent agency under the umbrella of the Treasury Department in 1927, before becoming a part of the Justice Department in 1930, and eventually merged into the FBI briefly in 1933.

In December 1933, Prohibition was repealed and the Prohibition Bureau became the Alcohol Tax Unit (ATU) of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In 1942, they were also tasked with enforcing federal firearms laws, which were scant at the time to say the least – remember that fully automatic machine guns were legal until 1986.

In the early 1950s, the Bureau of Internal Revenue became the Internal Revenue Service that we all know and love today. As part of this reorganization of federal alphabet agencies, the Alcohol Tax Unit was tasked with collecting tobacco taxes as well, and became known as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division (ATTD).

It was with the 1968 Gun Control Act that the agency became the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Division of the IRS, and also received some jurisdiction over bombings and arson. In 1972, it became a fully independent bureau of the Treasury Department – the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (B.A.T.F). It was here that the Bureau became tasked more with enforcement of the law around firearms than it did about collecting taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

A Long History of Abuse and Corruption in the ATF

The ATF had a bad reputation long before the events of Ruby Ridge and Waco. They were subject to Congressional hearings in the late 70s and early 80s, because their methods for securing a case were considered overzealous. Evidence at the hearings was presented by American citizens who had been charged, experts who had closely studied the Bureau, and internal officials from the Bureau. The Senate sub-committee investigating declared:

“Based upon these hearings, it is apparent that ATF enforcement tactics made possible by current federal firearms laws are constitutionally, legally, and practically reprehensible.”

The ATF was considered especially harmful because they often targeted people who not only didn’t know they were doing anything wrong, but had absolutely no malicious intent at all. Their efforts focused on gun collectors rather than stopping street crime. Indeed, the same investigation found that 75 percent of all ATF prosecutions were targeted at people who had no knowledge that they were breaking the law and had no intent to do anything criminal.

The Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA) was squarely aimed at reducing the abuses of the Bureau. Nothing less than a complete overhaul of the 1968 Gun Control Act, FOPA allowed for increased interstate sales of long arms, shipping ammunition through the U.S. mail, ended record keeping requirements on most forms of ammunition, and protected the transportation of otherwise illegal firearms across state lines (“safe passage”).

This is also the act that largely prohibited the ownership of fully automatic machine guns by civilians, so it certainly wasn’t perfect.

Ruby Ridge and Waco

History of the ATF: How the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Became Corrupt & AbusiveFollowing FOPA in 1986, the next big chapters in ATF history are the sieges at Ruby Ridge in 1992 and Waco in 1993. These events lead directly to the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

The Siege at Ruby Ridge

In 1992, Ruby Ridge, Idaho, was the site of an 11-day standoff between the ATF and Randy Weaver – who had been entrapped by the ATF into violating the law regarding the barrel length of a shotgun. They attempted to coerce him into becoming a snitch inside the Aryan Nations (which, as it turned out, was basically an organization entirely full of snitches). When he refused, the ATF moved forward with prosecution.

There was a series of bureaucratic SNAFUs that led to Weaver not knowing what his court date was, missing it, and then deciding not to show up at all out of the very legitimate fear that he would not get a fair shake. So the Marshal Service came in, guns blazing in tactical gear, and did what the feds are perhaps best known for: They shot Weaver’s dog. Unfortunately, it went further than that. They also shot his 14-year-old son Sammy in the back and his wife through a door while she held their infant child.

Patriots descended onto the scene and 11 days later, Weaver came out. He was tried and acquitted of all charges except for failure to appear.

The Siege at Waco

The next year, the ATF had a similar situation in Waco, Texas, where they were investigating a religious group known as the Branch Davidians. Here, the ATF (according to many accounts) was more interested in performing for television cameras than they were in enforcing the law. They used aggressive policing tactics against a group of people who had not been convicted of – or even formally charged with – any crime. The final result was a 51-day siege, at the end of which 82 Branch Davidians (including women and children) were gunned down or burned to death.

Each of these events were directly cited by Timothy McVeigh as radicalizing for him on his road to attacking the federal building at Oklahoma City, stating:

“I chose to bomb a federal building because such an action served more purposes than other options. Foremost the bombing was a retaliatory strike; a counter attack for the cumulative raids (and subsequent violence and damage) that federal agents had participated in over the preceding years (including, but not limited to, Waco). From the formation of such units as the FBI’s Hostage Rescue and other assault teams amongst federal agencies during the 80s, culminating in the Waco incident, federal actions grew increasingly militaristic and violent, to the point where at Waco, our government – like the Chinese – was deploying tanks against its own citizens.”

Expanded Powers Post-9/11

Unsurprisingly, the ATF was rewarded for its indiscretions with broader police powers post-9/11, when any three-letter alphabet agency was basically given carte blanche to run roughshod over the civil rights of American citizens. This included an expanded jurisdiction over fuels used in amateur rocketry.

It’s worth briefly noting that the ATF (actually the BATFE, as their agents are quick to tell anyone who will listen) has a bit of a chip on its shoulder because there is a perception that the agency is made up of FBI rejects. The ATF tends to not cooperate with the FBI, something people hoped would end when the ATF was moved from Treasury to Justice. But the so-called “battle of the badges” continues. Each wants to investigate terrorist attacks involving explosives, and there are no clear federal guidelines about which gets which.

The Harassment of Gun Show Buyers and Sellers

Starting in May 2004 and ending (as far as we know) in August 2005, the ATF worked with local police in Richmond, VA, to harass and intimidate otherwise legal gun buyers. People at eight different gun shows were approached by officers and discouraged from buying guns. Gun salesmen were targeted, interrogated, and accused of doing business without a license. Buyers were detained without charge and had their homes visited by ATF agents – all for exercising a Constitutionally protected right. An ATF letter demanded the appearance of buyers to appear before the ATF and explain their purchases. Soon after, the ATF visited the homes of buyers from a Pittsburgh, PA gun show, demanding to see their papers for purchases and arresting those who refused to comply.

All of this was just the lead up to Operation Gunrunner, better known as the Fast and Furious Scandal, an official policy of allowing certain illegal weapons purchases to go through between 2006 and 2011. It led to the deaths of a Border Patrol Agent and some of the weapons in question were even used in a terrorist attack.

The Baiting of Hmong Refugees

One of the more disgusting ATF escapades post-9/11 was right out of their old entrapment handbook: They baited a bunch of Hmong refugees from the Communist regime in Laos into buying illegal weapons over a period of years. It’s worth noting that these men were hardly hardened revolutionary militants. In many cases, they were elderly and infirm men. Even the prosecution admits that their stated goal was not to overthrow the Communist government in Laos, but to arm the native Hmong to protect themselves.

Charges were eventually dropped when a judge told the feds they had no case. But the whole ordeal lasted almost four years and cost tens of millions of dollars. The defendants saw deteriorating health throughout the case – imagine your father or grandfather having to deal with a dubious criminal prosecution in his advancing age.

The Entrapment of Mentally Disabled Teenagers

Have you heard about the ATF entrapping mentally disabled teenagers and coercing them into getting neck tattoos? You read that right, the ATF opened up a fake head shop that it used for (what else?) entrapment. In this case, a 19-year-old mentally disabled drug addict was manipulated by agents into getting the logo for a shill business tattooed on his neck. This was allegedly to keep him from finding out that he was unwittingly informing for the government, a defense so stupid that a federal judge repeatedly and pointedly asked the ATF to explain how suggesting that someone else get a neck tattoo was a method of preventing agents from blowing their cover.

The ATF were ordered by a judge to pay for the removal of the tattoo. But this was apparently not the only example of the ATF using what it euphemistically refers to as a “low IQ informant” – there was another case earlier that same year, with another shill business.

Part of the problem with the ATF is that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. For example, a Bureau audit in September 2008, found that the ATF had waylaid no less than 76 weapons and 418 laptop computers.

Just How Bad Is the ATF?

History of the ATF: How the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Became Corrupt & AbusiveIt’s no surprise to our readers that we’re not the biggest fans of federal alphabet agencies. So one might be tempted to ask exactly what the big deal is about the ATF. Why single them out for criticism?

The ATF is a unique corrupt federal alphabet agency. Indeed, the Trump Administration has gone so far as to cut the organization’s funding. This is part of a broader mood that the ATF is unique among federal alphabet agencies. While there’s rarely a thirst in Washington to scale back federal police powers, the ATF is so controversial even within the halls of official power, that the executive branch – of all places – has looked for ways to constrain it.

The complaints about the ATF are not by any means limited to civilians who they have wronged. As an example, the ATF received 400 employee complaints within one two-year period. This is an astounding number of complaints for an organization that only has 5,000 employees.

What’s more, internal agents who complain are often subjective to punitive measures within the agency, meaning that what resources aren’t being spent on entrapping citizens are being used to persecute what slim opposition to corruption exists within the organization – so how much of their time and money are they using to lock up bad guys?

Indeed, the ATF has been accused of making threats of rape and murder against ATF agents and their families when those agents make good faith reports of corruption and misconduct within the organization. Much of the corruption from the perspective of ATF agents acting in good faith and their families can be found at Clean Up ATF and their forums, a website that we highly encourage people to check out.

The astonishing thing is the sheer volume of complaints ranging from petty corruption to reprisals against agents seeking reform to sexual misconduct and beyond. We take no stance on whether or not each and every accusation against the ATF is accurate. Nor do we take the stance of “where there’s smoke there’s fire.” However, drilling down and looking at the individual complaints, and evaluating each on their own merit, will likely lead you to rather sinister conclusions about the ATF.

What Does the ATF Really Do With Your Form 4473?

Federal Form 4473, also known as the Firearms Transaction Record, is well known to everyone who has ever purchased a firearm. You think that after you fill that out, it goes to some kind of ultra-secure ATF repository – but absolutely nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the form just sits wherever you bought it until the company goes out of business, at which time it’s transferred to the ATF at long last.

What this means is that the Form 4473 is not only insecure, but basically a form of kabuki similar to the security theater people undergo every time they go through an airport. Finding the document is just about impossible, even when they have a suspect or a weapon. It’s the ultimate needle in a haystack problem, with as many as 70 phone calls required for the average trace. A single big-box retailer might send in as many as 50,000 for one moderately busy location closing.

Of course, there is always another sinister aspect to such intrusions: Grooming us all for an increasingly obvious police state.

The Beltway Sniper case presents an illustrative example: There the ATF went out and collected every Form 4473 from all of Maryland and Virginia. This was a precedent for future fishing expeditions, where the ATF can go out, collect as many forms as they want with dubious legal standing, and now have de facto gun registrations for everyone that they collected forms about.

The ATF Slush Fund: Is the ATF a Rogue Agency?

History of the ATF: How the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Became Corrupt & AbusiveThe answer to this question very much depends on what one means. So what do we mean when we ask if the ATF is a rogue agency?

Simply put, we mean: Is the ATF even beholden to the federal government and our elected officials? Is there accountability? The answer is, kind of.

It’s worth noting again that the ATF has had its budget first frozen, which is an effective budgetary cut, then explicitly cut. What’s more, we discussed the Senate investigations of the early 1980s above. And each of the scandals we have covered elsewhere on the website (Ruby Ridge in 1993, Waco in 1994, and Operation Gunrunner in 2010) have had their own investigations. But we think there is one scandal not covered here that is particularly damning when considering whether or not the ATF is a rogue agency.

Over the course of several years, the ATF built up a slush fund that was used without Congressional or executive oversight through a rather unlikely revenue stream: Cigarettes.

Anyone who knows anything about organized crime knows that, silly as it may sound, illegally selling cigarettes is still big business. There’s still a lot of money to be made out of knocking over a truck carrying cigarettes, then selling them well below market value and without paying any of the relevant taxes. This, indeed, is one of the things the ATF is actually supposed to be looking into – if you remember, this was one of their first assignments.

The New York Times uncovered this operation in February 2017. And at first it looked like a few bad apples in one office. However, what the Times found was that this was a nationwide operation based out of the Bristol, VA office. Anytime an agent wanted money for an operation, they didn’t go through the official channels of power. They simply called the Bristol office, which had tons of money thanks to their partnership with a cigarette wholesaler.

Unsurprisingly, the slush fund was not only spent on investigative expenses. Two informants were paid a whopping $6 million each – good work if you can get it. One agent in particular spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on real estate, electronics and donations to his church and children’s sports teams. Other purchases included a $21,000 NASCAR suite and a trip to Las Vegas.

Mixing private and public funds is highly illegal. The ATF, at long last, acknowledges that there was no legal justification for the slush fund. But again, this was not a rogue field office or rogue agents: ATF headquarters was openly steering agents to the Bristol office whenever they needed money for something. There were no prosecutions, Congress was kept in the dark, and the Justice Department went out of their way to cover for those involved. This abuse of funds is nothing special – civil asset forfeiture funds are frequently misused. However, the difference is how the funds were acquired.

Tens of millions moved through the bank account in question before it was shut down in 2013. No one knows exactly how much money was involved, because no one was keeping track.

How the ATF Slush Fund Worked

This slush fund bears special examination because it is an example of the ATF as a rogue agency, not one that is “simply” corrupt in the same way as other federal alphabet agencies. Worthy of note is the manner in which headquarters facilitated use of the slush fund, but also how it began and how it operated on a day-to-day basis.

Thomas Lesnak was a well-liked ATF agent. Affable, he was generally thought of as a “good cop.” He had the groundbreaking idea that the ATF would catch cigarette smugglers, not by setting up front companies, but by working with an actual, existing company.

The ATF agents allowed Big South Wholesale to conduct illegal cigarette sales so that the ATF could then catch smugglers and their customers who often paid in illegal weapons and stolen goods. This is very similar to Operation Gunrunner in that the ATF allowed legitimate businesses to commit crimes so that they could track criminals based on these purchases.

This was already illegal. That’s because undercover operations have a series of protocols designed to ensure transparency. Undercover operations are supposed to run entirely on government money, so that there can be government oversight of how the money is being spent. In this case, the money was largely put into a personal account owned by the owner of Big South Wholesale. The spending out of this account, which Congress didn’t even know about, was controlled by Lesnak.

What the money was spent on could be an article all by itself. Credit cards, a fleet of luxury cars, vending machines with hidden cameras, and the personal American Express bills of ATF agents were just some of the perks of working for the ATF and being in the know about this fund. It was a long list as one might expect from an account that ran into the tens of millions.

It gets worse. One of the requirements of keeping this slush fund on the hush-hush meant that the ATF always needed guilty pleas. What this meant in practice was that the ATF was bribing suspects to plead guilty. One defendant testified that he was paid $100 cash monthly, plus the rent on his house while he was in jail, plus a first-class plane ticket to plead guilty to charges.

It wasn’t government whistleblowers who uncovered the scheme, either: U.S. Tobacco thought something was amiss and decided to look into it. They were then informed that the ATF was running their own private lemonade stand out of the warehouse. They raided it and sued the nominal owners for $24 million. The target of their biggest investigation, Paraguayan tobacco company Tabesa, had their own become President of Paraguay.

When notified, the ATF didn’t do anything. No one was prosecuted or even reprimanded. Lesnak retired soon afterward, presumably with a full pension.

It’s easy to get angry at the corruption of the ATF, and with good reason. But what might get lost in the legitimate indignation of a federal alphabet agency profiting off of cigarette smuggling is that the bad guys got away.

Cigarette smuggling admittedly sounds a little silly, but it is often done as part of money laundering operations for much more serious crimes. Not only did the ATF do something highly illegal, they also let other actual criminals get away. There’s a lot more going on here than a simple case of “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”

Who Watches the Watchmen?

The ATF is a classic example of what happens when a federal alphabet agency is given increasing police powers with no meaningful oversight. In the case of the ATF, it’s resulted in a whole lot of crime.

There is also the small question of to what degree the activities of the ATF are Constitutionally protected. While this is an open question for a number of federal alphabet agencies (especially in the era of Congress largely delegating its legislative powers to bureaucracies), it is an especially sharp question with regard to firearms, which are Constitutionally protected in a way that, for example, recreational drugs are not.

The ATF goes out of its way to avoid Congressional oversight in a manner that is more similar to the CIA than it is the DEA or the FBI.

Weaponizing the ATF

History of the ATF: How the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Became Corrupt & AbusiveIt’s not news that gun grabbers have been ineffective at achieving their goals through the regular legislative process. There’s simply no appetite in American politics for a large-scale gun ban or even firearms registration. Every time they attempt it, the attempt falls flat and they’re back to, for example, trying to get payment systems to refuse services to gun owners and weapons retailers.

However, there is a more troubling avenue that the gun grabbers are beginning to take. Following up on the recent love affair of left liberals with the CIA and the FBI (anyone old enough to remember the Bush Administration, remembers when the NPR set considered these to be tyrannical and Orwellian institutions), the Democratic Party is now looking to the ATF to do what it cannot do through the legislature: Take people’s guns away and send a chilling effect over the gun market.

The “Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act” stands in the great American legislative tradition of duplicitously Orwellian bill names. While it mostly just stands to make already illegal activity even more illegal, it has some rather chilling provisions that include closer ATF oversight of gun dealers, stiffer penalties for falsified forms (remember that the ATF is mostly going after people making honest mistakes), ATF discretion when it comes to granting gun licenses, and allowing the ATF to demand certain dealers conduct physical inventories.

It is worth raising the question of what might happen with the ATF under an aggressively anti-Second Amendment administration and Congress. Imagine, if you will, what the Obama Administration with the 111th Congress might look like in today’s far more polarized landscape. This was when the Democrats had a significant majority in both houses of Congress, as well as a friendly rubber stamp in the White House. What would such a government do with the ATF?

Nothing good.

Whither the ATF?

In 2014, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin, proposed disbanding the ATF entirely, giving its duties to more general law enforcement agencies. Those related to weapons, arson, explosives, and terrorism would be given to the FBI. Those related to alcohol and tobacco smuggling would be handed off to the DEA. Congress failed to act on his bill. He introduced the bill again the next year and was met with similar results. Sensenbrenner did not mince words:

“The ATF is a largely duplicative, scandal-ridden agency that lacks a clear mission… it is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership. For decades it has been branded by high-profile failures. There is also significant overlap with other agencies. … Without a doubt, we can fulfill the role of the ATF more efficiently.”

While nothing ever came of this, the Trump Administration began attempting to strip the alcohol and tobacco responsibilities from the agency. This is part of a more general attempt by Republican officials to, in the words of a Mother Jones article “kneecap the ATF.”

We should be so lucky. The ATF is a rogue organization with a dubious Constitutional mandate. This is not a position of the anarchist libertarian extreme, but one that anyone with the evidence in front of them and a lick of common sense could come to.

History of the ATF: How the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Became Corrupt & Abusive originally appeared in the Resistance Library at Ammo.com.

News Roundup 9/30/19

News Roundup 9/30/19

Venezuela 

  • Trump bans senior Venezuelan officials and their family members from entering the US. [Link]

Afghanistan

  • The Afghan election commission had no contact with 900 of the 4900 polling stations. [Link]
  • Indications are that Afghan voter turnout is meager. [Link] Women activist groups warned that mandatory facial imaging makes voting dangerous for women. [Link] 

Israel 

  • An Israeli soldier killed a Palestinian during Friday protests in Gaza. The IDF shot 27 other Palestinians. [Link]

Iran

  • The US denied allowing Iran’s Foreign Minister to attend the UN General Assembly meeting. The US claims it would have allowed the foreign minister in if Iran had released an American prisoner. [Link]
  • Trump says he refused an offer from Iran to lift sanctions against Iran and meet with Iran’s president. [Link]
  • Trump takes steps to keep senior Iranian officials from entering the US. [Link]
  • A UK flagged oil tanker has been released by Iran after being held for ten weeks. [Link]

Syria

  • Iraq will reopen a border crossing with Syria. [Link]
  • Turkey is not happy that talks with the US about a safe zone in Syria are not progressing enough. [Link]
  • Turkey plans to spend $27 billion to resettle one million Syrian refugees in the safe zone. [Link]

Africa

  • The Islamic State claims responsibility for an attack in Egypt that killed seven soldiers and one civilian. [Link]
  • The US claims to kill 36 militants in southern Libya in three airstrikes in the past week. [Link]
  • The Islamic State claims to kill 14 Nigerian soldiers in an attack. [Link]
Ron Paul\’s Immigration Misfire

Ron Paul\’s Immigration Misfire

Ron Paul’s Immigration Misfire



Since there is only One of woman born who was perfect, it’s hardly a news bulletin that Ron Paul, though a decent and principled man, is susceptible to error.

It’s easy to make allowances where Dr. Paul is simply mistaken, since he has proven repeatedly that he’s willing to change his views as dictated by the facts, while remaining true to his principles. But it is disappointing to see him succumb to the impulse to pander to a certain slice of the GOP’s activist base, as is the case with his most recent campaign ad on immigration policy. (See it here or at the bottom of this essay.)

 

One suitable definition of the verb “to pander” would be: “To promise something clearly impossible in the hopes of winning votes.” By that definition relatively little in that advertisement qualifies as pandering.

Three elements of the five-point plan recommended by the ad – no amnesty for illegal immigrants, no welfare benefits for the same, and an end to “birthright citizenship” — are either sound or at least defensible. But they are sandwiched between two thick, crusty slices of pure pandering – the promise to secure the border physically, and to end “student visas from terrorist nations.”

It’s always a bad sign when a candidate begins his pitch by offering something that is impossible. It is entirely impossible to create a physical barricade around our nation that will prevent illegal immigration. Attempting to do so (as I’ve pointed out before) will cause immense harm to the property rights of American citizens who live near the border. And with the Regime increasingly taking on the character of an undisguised garrison state, do we really want it to be in the business of sealing up the border?

Dr. Paul, an immensely intelligent man, knows all of this, which is why this element of his ad is particularly disappointing.

In his critique of the Paul campaign ad, Justin Raimondo correctly points out that the second slice of unmitigated pandering – the promise to end “student visas from terrorist nations” — traffics in “the concept of collective guilt….[I]s every citizen of these unnamed `terrorist nations’ to be declared persona non grata on account of the actions of a minuscule number of their countrymen?”

If we’re going to get into the business of assigning collective national guilt for the terrorist actions of a few, how could we object if Americans were subject to international travel restrictions because of the crimes committed by Bush and Cheney and their ilk?

While the other points presented in the ad are worthier of Dr. Paul, the same can’t be said of their presentation. The imagery of dusky-skinned immigrants swarming into the country is a classic Brown Peril trope, as is the ominous voice-over informing us: “Today, illegal immigrants violate our borders and overwhelm our hospitals, schools, and social services.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why the border fence won’t work, assuming it’s ever built.

Speaking on his own behalf in the Republican debates, Dr. Paul has dealt with the same subject in a way that addresses the fundamental economics of the issue: We cannot have a centralized welfare state and a fiat money economy and long, permeable borders without having immigration-related problems of the sort under discussion.

Witness Dr. Paul’s comments during the Univision debate earlier this month. Taking issue with the idea of a “tamper-proof ID for illegals or immigrants,” which he said (correctly) would lead to a national ID card, Dr. Paul offered a brief lecture on the economics of immigration:

“But we have to realize where the resentment [against illegal immigrants] comes from. I believe it’s related to our economy. When the economy is weakening and there’s resentment because of our welfare system – jobs are going overseas; our good jobs, [and] pay is going down…. There’s a lot of resentments because the welfare system is based on mandates from the federal government to put pressure on states like Florida and Texas to provide services which the local taxpayers resent. Some of our hospitals are closing. So it’s an economic issue, too. If we deal with the welfare state and a healthy economy and a sound money [system] and all this wasteful spending overseas, we would have a healthy economy; I think this problem [with illegal immigration] would be greatly reduced.” (Emphasis added.)

This analysis puts the blame for overburdened “hospitals, schools, and social services” on the central government and its onerous mandates, rather than placing it entirely on the backs of the swarthy northbound masses from Latin America.

Lest it be thought that Dr. Paul was pandering in that answer – seeking to ingratiate himself in a Spanish-language debate before a Latino audience – it’s worth recalling what he did just a few minutes later.

In one of the most insanely courageous acts of political principle I’ve ever seen, Dr. Paul – speaking in the teeth of outraged boos from the audience – defended re-opening diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba and Venezuela on the basis of the principles laid down by George Washington. He then managed to win over at least part of the house by explaining that “we create the Chavezes of the world, we create the Castros of the world, by interfering and creating chaos in their countries” — a process which also does quite a bit to generate pressures that lead to illegal immigration.

In an interview with Newsweek, Dr. Paul reflected on the fact that as an obstetrician (is there any profession that can more properly be described as “doing God’s work”?) he delivered children now referred to as “anchor babies” — US citizens born to parents here illegally – who were “immediately put on [welfare] benefits. They can get housing allowances, food allowances, and Americans resent it because our economy is weak…. I want a healthy economy. Then we will be able to have a much more generous immigration policy, which would fit my personal philosophy and our Constitution.” (Again, emphasis added.)

Perhaps his clearest expression of this point came in Dr. Paul’s interview with an Iowa newspaper editorial board, in which he elaborated on the dangers of government-enforced multiculturalism, including compelled bilingualism and welfare benefits for non-citizens.

Something to remember, lest we get just a little too sanctimonious in decrying the immigrant “invasion”….

After reiterating his complaints about the impact of those policies on local communities, Dr. Paul cut to what he considers the nub of the issue: “I’m also convinced that if we didn’t have the welfare state, this would be a non-issue. If we had sound money, no welfare state, and we were thriving…. It’s because we’re having these economic problems that I say the illegal alien becomes an easy scapegoat.”

There’s the word that only Ron Paul, of all the Republican contenders, would have the candor and credibility to use. And that’s the word, tragically, that best summarizes the use of illegal immigration in the most recent Paul campaign ad.

That ad is redolent of the influence of opportunistic PR flacks — people who reflexively seek to blunt principled messages, as if they’re afraid of cutting themselves on sharply defined positions. It certainly doesn’t reflect what Dr. Paul has described as his “personal philosophy” regarding the issue. It also suggests that Dr. Paul needs to impose some message discipline on his campaign right now, before it falls victim to consultants and others lured by his fundraising achievements — the sort of people who would re-brand him as the thinking man’s Tom Tancredo, as if such a creature could exist.

Dum spiro, pugno!

at3:55 PM

Labels: GOP, Illegal immigration, Ron Paul

Content retrieved from: http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2007/12/ron-pauls-immigration-misfire.html.

News Roundup 5/24/19

News Roundup 5/24/19

US News

  • The US indicts Julian Assange on 17 additional charges. The new charges include violating the Espionage Act and carry a 170-year sentence. [Link]
  • Peter Van Buren explains why Justin Amash is wrong to advocate for impeaching Trump. [Link]
  • A senior UN nuclear weapons control expert warns nukes are more likely to be used now than at any time since WWII. [Link]
  • Senator Graham calls for the US to invade Venezuela to remove Cuban forces.  [Link]

India

  • Eleven people were killed in India when a separatist group fired on a politicians convoy. [Link]

Turkey

  • Turkey has developed an advanced drone program. It has used armed drones in Syria, Iraq, and against its own citizens. Drone strikes have killed at least 400 people in Turkey. Turkey claims to target the PKK with strikes, but civilians have been killed. Turkey has exported its drones to Ukraine. Pakistan and Qatar are also looking to acquire Turkish drones. [Link]
  • A Turkish official says Turkey has stopped importing Iranian oil [Link]

Iran

  • Senator Chris Murphy warns Trump may use a loophole in the Arms Control Act to bypass Congress’ objection to selling Saudi Arabia $7 billion in weapons. Murphy says Trump will use tensions with Iran to declare a national emergency.  [Link]
  • The Pentagon is considering a request from CENTCOM to send an additional 5,000 troops to the Middle East in response to tensions with Iran. [Link]
  • Some US officials say the Pentagon will present a plan to the White House to send up to 10,000 more troops to the Middle East to counter Iran.  [Link]

Syria

  • The US alleges Assad is carrying out more chemical weapons attacks against his own people. Like previous accusations, there is no evidence showing Assad used chemical weapons. Caitlin Johnstone explains how the new allegations suppress a recently released OPCW engineering report revealing the chlorine attacks at Douma were staged. The engineering report was initially omitted from the OPCW final report on Douma. The omission caused people to falsely to conclude Assad used chlorine gas at Douma in April 2018. Weapons expert Tim Postol said there was no reason for the OPCW not to include the engineering report.  [Link]

Africa

  • Sudanese protest leadership calls for general strikes. The protest leaders say the ruling military council is refusing to give up power. [Link]
  • The Islamic State killed 29 Nigerian soldiers. [Link]
  • A Central African Republic militia, the 3Rs, killed 32 people in an attack on villages of a rival ethnic group. [Link]  
  • The UN general assembly votes – against US interests – the UK needs to give up control of the Chagos Islands. [Link]
5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

Space War? Please No

So the Pentagon is concerned about the fact that other nation-states aren’t simply surrendering to American hegemony on account of our threat to nuclear bomb them three times as much into oblivion as they will bomb us into oblivion?  America builds a robust first-strike force, so Russia makes a couple hypersonic missiles to sort of kind of maintain Mutually Assured Destruction?  Now the Pentagon is calling it a “space war”?

How about just not messing up space with so much debris that we can never get up there ever again?  Forget having a future (not to mention a present).

How about admitting that MAD is a thing, and total spectrum dominance, total hegemony, aren’t going to happen?  America might have to pay the market price of Tungsten.  Our dysfunctional social, economic, and political front domestically might need actual reforms.  We might actually have to compete with other nations on a fair playing field.  Imagine that!

Nah!  More battlefields, more weapons, more money, more general officer positions to be filled.  Omnicide is someone else’s problem, right?  Dante, you may have to open up a new, deeper circle of hell.

5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

I’m Tired Of Hearing About The End of “Western Civilization”

Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan: “It’s the end of the West.”  Blah blah blah.  I’m not even saying that the horribly racist aspects of their philosophy (and sorry to Buchanan for lumping him with Coulter) is necessarily a problem.  Of course, Coulter’s racism is horrible, but assuming that there’s this “Western Civilization” to save, I don’t know, if it’s a really great thing then maybe horrible ideas might be worth considering to save it.  However, to Pat, Ann, and the many many other commentators who worry about the West’s collapse, I have news.

Western Civilization died already, a long time ago.  It was called “The Great War”.  Britain, Germany, America, France, Russia, Italy, Austria – all the great sub-expressions which embodied “Western Civilization” all charged into that war head first.  Sure, everyone entered at different times, for different reasons, with some amount of fair rationalization for their actions.  Who said, “Hell, no!”?

As “great” as Western Civilization was, and I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, it still had warfare (and consequently colonialism, class, and statism) as part of its foundation.  I think, at this point, it’s honestly disingenuous to think about the West’s “good part” without acknowledging the bad and admitting that, going forward, we aren’t going to “save” the West, but move forward into some new civilization to come.

The inseparable role of the “bad” parts of Western Civilization – inseparable from the good – are why WWI happened.

Western Civilization was nothing but a Jenga tower – that game with the blocks you have to carefully remove.  It grew higher in proportion to compromising its foundations, it was structured that way from the beginning.  And finally, during the Great War, the thing collapsed from truly dizzying heights.  What a mighty collapse it was.  How it reverberated.

Kind of like Rome’s fall.  What a coincidence.

Now we have this bastard thing called Pax Americana, American hegemony.  A lingering remnant of European war culture, poorly conceived, lacking self-knowledge in any meaningful capacity.

Hey, maybe there are good principles which trickled out intermittently from the West’s carnage.  Maybe Ann Coulter’s general demographic concerns have a kind of validity.

Let’s stop waxing nostalgic for “the West”, and “Western Civilization”.  You’re worshiping a corpse.  There’s a desperate need to wash our hands of it and move on.  Otherwise we’ll never be able to defend liberty, because we’ll never stop being too busy dealing with our neighbors incessant trampling out of the grapes of wrath upon all the world and each other.

5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

2/15/19 Gareth Porter on the FBI Putsch Against Trump

Gareth Porter gives an update on the “Russiagate” investigation, which he has long maintained is nothing more than a thinly-veiled ploy to remove President Trump from office. Recent reports on the investigation have only confirmed Porter’s suspicions that the intelligence officials involved in the proceedings have been out to get Trump from the beginning.

Discussed on the show:

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist on the national security state, and author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter and listen to Gareth’s previous appearances on the Scott Horton Show.

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: Kesslyn Runs, by Charles Featherstone; NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.comRoberts and Roberts Brokerage Inc.; Tom Woods’ Liberty ClassroomExpandDesigns.com/Scott; and LibertyStickers.com.

Donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal, or Bitcoin: 1Ct2FmcGrAGX56RnDtN9HncYghXfvF2GAh.

5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

A Liberal New Year’s Via Ralph Raico

It’s a tough new year for me, with Trump and everything.  He, and his opponents, have made me feel like I live in crazytown more than anything else in recent history.   At least (per the recent “Vice” movie) Dick Cheney just seemed like a lying jerk.

I was listening to Raico for some sanity, and I really appreciate his perspective.  Liberals share a certain realist perspective along with the “paleoconservatives” that’s a smidge more tolerant of fascism than the political left would like.  Although the paleos somewhat endorse certain reactionary attitudes, they and the liberals don’t endorse fascism by any means.  Rather, they tolerate society’s effort to resist revolutionary leftism.  Not for ideological reasons, but out of pragmatism, and acknowledging how radical and harmful that leftism really is.  There is a respect for the organic.

We call this “pragmatism”.  It’s an American idea, but frankly I find it to be liberalism’s (not fascism’s) best defense.  We never will know if our current system is just the right one, so we need the flexibility to move on to something different.  This is the essence of liberalism, to me, all said and done.  A sort of pragmatism.

Fascism, for all its flaws, is just more pragmatics in outlook than leftism.  I could foresee fascism bending over to more liberalism.  Such as what occurred in Spain and Chile.  The Fascists don’t oppose liberalism, even as they look down upon it.  But Marxists see liberalism as antithetical to their world view.

America is changing.  As is the world.  We need a new defense not of so-called “liberal democracy”.  We need a commitment and reaffirmation of the definition of “pragmatic liberalism”.

Maybe the troops won’t come home, but good God out of Syria and Yemen!  Ah, nevermind.

5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

News Roundup 12/21/18

  • Twitter locks the accounts and shadowbans several WikiLeaks accounts. [Link]
  • Trump announces Gen James Mattis will be retiring as Secretary of Defense at the end of February. [Link]
  • Gen James Mattis publishes his resignation letter. In the letter, Mattis says Trump deserves a Defense Secretary with the same foreign policy views. [Link]
  • North Korea reaffirms their long-standing position that the US must retract its nuclear threat towards North Korea before North Korea denuclearizes. [Link]
  • Trump is considering a significant drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan. [Link]
  • Trump orders the military to begin planning the withdrawal of about half of US forces in Afghanistan. [Link]
  • US troops will withdraw from posts on the Turkish/Syria border. [Link]  
  • Moon of Alabama explains how Turkish threats of realignment pushed Trump to withdraw from Syria. [Link]
  • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says Israel will continue to take aggressive actions to prevent Iranian intrenchment in Syria. [Link]  
  • The US carries out airstrikes in defense of US ground forces in Somalia. Al-Shabaab militants were threatening the US forces. [Link]
5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

News Roundup 12/10/18

  • Trump says Chief of Staff John Kelly will step down at the end of the year. [Link]
  • Trump will nominate William Barr to Attorney General. [Link]
  • Trump wants to increase the Pentagon budget to $750 billion. [Link]
  • Trump nominates Gen Mark Milley to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. [Link]
  • French police deploy armored vehicles and tear gas against protesters. [Link] France deployed 89,000 police and 8,000 riot police. [Link] Over 1,700 people were attested in the latest round of protests. [Link]
  • A Marine has died from a collision between an F-18 and KC-130. Five Marines are still missing off the coast of Japan. [Link]
  • Mikhail Gorbachev discusses his relationship with George HW Bush and the current US/Russian relationship. [Link]
  • General Dunford says there has been no discussion of a military response to the Kerch Strait incident. [Link]
  • Sanctions on North Korea are preventing South Korea from opening a diplomatic post in North Korea. [Link]
  • Russia and OPEC agree to cut oil production by 1.2 million bpd. [Link]
  • Israel threatens to attack Hezbollah targets in Lebanon. [Link]
  • 14 Afghan soldiers were killed and 21 captured in attacks by the Taliban. [Link] In a separate attack the Taliban kill eight and capture nine Afghan soldiers. [Link]
  • An Afghan election monitor determines all Kabul ballots casts during the October parliamentary election should be invalid. [Link]
  • The Syrian air defense engages targets over Damascus. [Link]
  • Yemen peace talks are focused on a prisoner exchange.[Link]
  • A State Department official says the US withdrawing support for the Saudi coalition sends the wrong message. [Link]
  • A Debate and a vote is expected on a Yemen War Powers resolution this week. [Link]
5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

News Roundup 11/16/18

  • USPS lost $3.9 billion in FY 2018. [Link]
  • A top aide to John Bolton resigns after clashing with the First Lady. [Link]
  • Lockheed Martin wins a $23 billion contract from the Pentagon for F-35s. [Link]
  • Rep Adam Smith looks to roll back Trump’s planned nuclear weapons expansion. [Link]
  • Ray McGovern explains James Clapper’s role in lying the US into Iraq War II and his role in Russiagate. [Link]
  • The US inadvertently reveals charges against Julian Assange. [Link]
  • Two SEALs and two Marines have been charged with the murder of a Green Beret. The Green Beret was killed in Mali in June 2017. The SEALs and Marines murdered the man after he reported their unprofessional behavior. [Link]
  • Vice President Pence says the second meeting between Trump and Kim is likely after the first of the year. [Link]
  • Bangladesh halts the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. [Link]
  • A Brown University study finds the US has spent $5.9 TRILLION on the Terror Wars. [Link]
  • The Trump Administration considered extraditing Fethullah Gulen to Turkey to appease Turkey after the Khashoggi murder. [Link]
  • Saudi Arabia indicts 11 people for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Five of those face the death penalty. [Link]
  • Trump picks 4 Star General John Abizaid to be US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. [Link]
  • Andrew Bacevich writes on the segregation in Israel he witnessed in his recent trip. [Link]
  • Afghan officials claim 60 Taliban were killed in Ghazni. [Link]
  • The Saudi led coalition pauses the offensive for Hodeida. [Link]
5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

News Roundup 10/22/18

  • Several independent media outlets banned from social networks were blacklisted by Prop or Not. [Link]
  • Tulsi Gabbard is considering a 2020 presidential campaign. [Link]
  • Max Blumenthal reports on Nikki Haley’s last speech before announcing her resignation. [Link]
  • Jeff Bezos says Amazon will continue to contract with the Pentagon. [Link]
  • The Government Accountability Office finds US weapons have cybersecurity risks. [Link]
  • The Air Force spent $326,000 on 391 coffee cups that frequently break. [Link]
  • John Kiriakou discusses the persecution of whistleblowers. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Pompeo warns Panama against accepting Chinese Belt and Road loans. [Link]
  • The FAA Reauthorization Act includes the BUILD Act. The BUILD Act creates a new agency that can loan up to $60 billion to developing nations. The new agency is tasked with combating China’s Belt and Road. [Link]
  • A proposed Canadian law will eliminate the fees and waiting periods for those seeking to get pardons for their past pot convictions. [Link]
  • Trump threatens to cut aid to Honduras if Honduran migrants reach the US. [Link]
  • The US is asking the UN to prepare an end of the UN mission in Kosovo. [Link]
  • Macedonia’s name change passes the first vote in Parliament. [Link]
  • The US cancels major war games with South Korea. [Link]
  • Saudi Arabia is the second largest weapons buyer from Germany. [Link]
  • Saudi Arabia admits that the journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Saudi claims that he died during a fist fight. The kingdom has detained 18 people in connection with the journalist’s death. [Link]
  • France withdraws from major Saudi summit over the murder of Khashoggi. [Link]
  • Israel is selling spying technology to several governments who use the Israeli technology to oppress their people. [Link]
  • Trump’s Iran policy is leading to war. [Link]
  • The Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan was nearly killed by a Taliban ‘green on blue’ attack. Reports claim that Gen Miller was shot in his body armor. A critical Afghanistan Army commander was killed in the attack. At least two other American soldiers were injured. [Link]
  • At least 36 were killed during the Afghan elections. [Link]
  • Afghan officials say over 4 million Afghans voted in the election. [Link]
  • The US has failed to make progress against ISIS in Syria. [Link]
  • US airstrikes kill 32 civilians in eastern Syria. [Link]
  • Ethiopia is building a massive new dam on the Blue Nile. Egypt is concerned about the amount of water that will now flow through the Nile in Egpyt. The dam could shift the balance of power in the region. [Link]
5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

News Roundup 9/18/18

  • Google developed a prototype search engine for China. The prototype censored results and connected searches with phone numbers. [Link]
  • A man remained free for 15 years and raped three women because the rape kits went untested. [Link]
  • The US will reduce the maximum number of refugees it will accept in FY 2019 to 30,000. [Link]
  • The Air Force says it needs to grow by 25% over the next 7 to 12 years to combat Russia and China. [Link]
  • Venezuelan President Maduro says China has committed to fund improvements in Venezuelan oil and gold infrastructure. [Link]
  • Daniel L Davis argues the US should prioritize peace with North Korea over North Korea denuclearizing. [Link]
  • The Netherlands ends support for the White Helmets and withdraws from the US-led anti-ISIS coalition. Moon of Alabama explains the story. [Link]
  • The US expels the Palestinian Ambassador. [Link]
  • Taliban attacks kill 17 Afghan police. [Link]
  • A Russian plane was accidentally downed by Syrian government air defenses. The accident occurred while Israel was attacking Syrian government positions. Russia blames Israel for acting irresponsibly. [Link]
  • Patrick Cockburn gives analysis on the protests in southern Iraq. [Link]
  • Daniel Larison explains how Secretary of State Pompeo lied to Congress to allow the US to continue to aid war crimes in Yemen. [Link]
  • The AP reports on children in rural Yemen starving to death. [Link]
  • The US carried out an airstrike in Somalia after US troops came under fire. [Link]
  • A rebel group in South Sudan accuses the government of violating a peace agreement. [Link]
  • At least 23 people were killed in Ethiopia in fighting between ethnic groups. [Link]
  • Ethiopia claims to kill 70 al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. [Link]
  • Rwanda’s President frees an opposition leader and 2,100 other prisoners. [Link]
5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

News Roundup 9/10/18

  • The House passed a bill that will reclassify dozens of crimes as crimes of violence. The reclassification will allow for more crimes that could result in deportation. [Link]
  • A Dallas police officer shoots and kills an innocent man after mistakenly entering his apartment. [Link]
  • Reps Gabbard and Jones introduce a bill that labels wars undeclared by Congress as ‘Presidential Wars’ and makes ‘Presidental Wars’ an impeachable offense. [Link]
  • Aaron Mate argues the George Papadopoulos plea is not a smoking gun. [Link]
  • Trump administration officials met with Venezuelan officers plotting a coup against Maduro. [Link]
  • A Brazilian presidential candidate was stabbed. He is recovering and is in stable condition. [Link]
  • The US recalls top envoys to El Salvador, Panama, and the Dominican Republic over those countries deciding to switch diplomatic stances from Taiwan to China. [Link]
  • The US will deploy 1,500 troops to Germany over the next two years. [Link]
  • Jeff Groom explains why the US is increasing its military presences in Norway. [Link]
  • Kim Jong Un says North Korea will denuclearize by the end of Trump’s first term. [Link]
  • The International Criminal Court rules it can open an investigation into alleged ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. [Link]
  • Myanmar’s president Ang San Suu Kyi is silently complicit in the crimes the Myanmar military committed against the Rohingya. [Link]
  • Trump says he cut aid to Palestine to try to pressure the Palestinians into talks. [Link]
  • A new study finds no evidence linking al-Qaeda and Iran. [Link]
  • State Department officials say Trump has signed on to a plan for US troops to remain in Syria indefinitely. [Link]
  • The top French military official says that France is ready to strike Assad if chemical weapons are used in Syria. [Link] Virginia State Senator Richard Black traveled to Syria and warned of a possible false flag chemical weapons attack. [Link]
  • Russia warns the Syrian Army is planning an offensive against Syrian rebels near US positions. [Link] US Marines carry out a live fire air assault drill in the area. The drill was intended as a warning for Assad and Russia to not attack rebel positions in the area. [Link]
  • Turkey’s President Erdogan says Turkey will not watch Assad kill civilians in Idlib from the sidelines. [Link]
  • Israel supported 12 Syrian rebel groups, including by supplying armored vehicles. [Link]
  • Israel is building a wall along its northern border. The wall is stoking tensions between Israel and Lebanon. Lebanon is concerned the wall will be built on Lebanese territory. [Link]
  • The US is putting out misleading statistics about Afghanistan to give the appearance of success. [Link]
  • Secretary of Defense Mattis makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan to meet with the Afghan leaders. Mattis discussed the peace process with the Taliban. [Link]
  • Eight Afghan police were killed in an insider attack. [Link]
  • UN-sponsored peace talks for the Yemen War are yet to start as the warring parties are threatening to abandon the talks. [Link] The talks fell apart after the Houthis declined to attend. The Houthis looked for a promise that they could return to Yemen after the talks, and Saudi Arabia refused to grant the request. [Link]
  • A video reveals the bus ride Yemeni children took before their bus was hit with a Saudi airstrike. [Link]
  • A plan to remove US forces from many West African nations is moving forward. The plan now needs Mattis’ approval. [Link]
  • The civil war in Libya is creating a power vacuum that is being exploited by ISIS. [Link]
  • 1,200 children were made soldiers last year in South Sudan. [Link]
5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

Daniel Larison on Yemen

He’s been consistently great on it day in and day out for the past three and a half years.

Here’s some more: The U.S. Is Complicit in Saudi Coalition Massacres in Yemen:

“Even though everyone knows that the Saudi coalition is responsible for one massacre of civilians after another, none of the governments in the coalition pays the slightest price for involvement in this war. Because they are shielded by the U.S. and their other Western patrons, they are free to slaughter innocent Yemenis with impunity, and they know they can.”

 

5/29/20 Danny Sjursen on the Futility of the War in Afghanistan

8/06/18 Jonathan Fenton-Harvey on UAE’s Destruction of Yemen

Jonathan Fenton-Harvey journalist at Middle East Eye is interviewed on his article “How the UAE is Destroying Yemen”. The UAE’s role in the expanding Yemeni war, and how the Saudis, UK and USA support the war against the Yemenis is discussed in detail. The UAE’s rift with Saudi Arabia, and their support for rival groups in Yemen, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Jonathan Fenton-Harvey is a UK-based freelance journalist who actively writes about political and social issues in the West, the Middle East and North Africa.

He started blogging innocently in early 2015. My work soon spread rapidly, and then I felt inspired to submit my articles to news outlets.

He writes for/has written for The New Arab (Al Araby Al Jadeed), Middle East Eye, openDemocracy, Tribune magazine, The Globe Post, Mint Press News, Counterpunch magazine, Morocco World News, Evolve Politics and many others.

 

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: Zen CashThe War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.comRoberts and Roberts Brokerage Inc.NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; LibertyStickers.comExpandDesigns.com/Scott; and Kesslyn Runs, by Charles Featherstone.

Check out Scott’s Patreon page.

Episode 130: Cody Wilson – Are We Seeing an End to the Threat of Government Imposed Gun Control?

Episode 130: Cody Wilson – Are We Seeing an End to the Threat of Government Imposed Gun Control?

40 Minutes
*Correction – Mance says this is episode 131 in the beginning. It is 130*
Mance had the pleasure of being able to chat with Cody Wilson. Cody recently won a settlement in federal court awarding him the ability to put the plans to 3D printable guns up on the internet.
One wonders if this can be the end of the threat of gun control for good.
Defense Distributed
Cody on Twitter
Mance’s Books on Amazon
Mance’s Books for Crypto
Mance on Facebook
Mance on Twitter

 

News Roundup

News Roundup 6/2/20

George Floyd Protests Police officers started a riot in Pittsburg. [Link] A SUV attempted to ram a line of police officers. Two officers were injured. [Link] Police used gas, arrests, and military helicopters to breakup protests in DC. Video from yesterday shows cops...

Blog

Cops Kill Man

A Beloved BBQ Chef Who Fed Police For Free Was Fatally Shot After Louisville Authorities "Returned Fire" At A Crowd Update: Dave DeCamp has the full story here.

Police Provoke Riot in Pittsburgh

I wanted to write down and submit to the Libertarian Institute what I saw today at the protest in downtown Pittsburgh over the George Floyd killing. Some background on me: I am a Libertarian—a minarchist, not an anarchist. I was brought into the movement by the Ron...

Dear Leader Hides in Bunker

Doing his best impression of Bush and Cheney on September 11th, Trump flees in cowardly terror to his underground bunker due to protests and riots outside. As though 1 the protesters had any intention of storming the White House and lynching the president or 2 that...

The Scott Horton Show

5/29/20 Coleen Rowley on the Dangerous Failings of the FBI

Scott talks to Coleen Rowley about the failures in America's intelligence agencies that contributed to the 9/11 attacks, and that continue to plague us today. She reminds us that three FBI agents in three different states tried to pass very specific warnings to their...

Free Man Beyond the Wall

Episode 422: ‘Escape From California’ w/ Vin Armani

86 Minutes PG-13 Vin Armani is back to talk about his move from California to Saipan to avoid growing tyranny in response to CV19 by state governors in the lower 48. He also gives his opinion on Rogan's move to Spotify, whether at this point Agorism can free masses of...

Foreign Policy Focus

FPF #499 – Will Porter on Police Brutality and Looting

On FPF #499, Will Porter returns to the show to cover the ongoing protests, riots, and police brutality. The protests started after a police officer slowly murdered George Floyd, while three other helped and watched. The protesters demanded charges for the officers....

Trump Doubles Down on Ineffective Sanctions

On FPF #498. I discuss Trump's foreign policy strategy of using sanctions to deal with any international issue. Trump has sanctioned several countries, including Russia, China, Iraq, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar. For others - North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran - he...

Judge Rules Biden to Be Named in Ukrainian Criminal Probe

On FPF #497, I discuss the developing story of a Ukrainian judge ruling Joe Biden is to be named in a criminal probe from his time as Vice President. The criminal probe is looking into the firing of former-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin. Biden has...

Announcing a New Arms Race guest Will Porter

Will Porter returns to the show to discuss the US announcing that it plans to spend China and Russia into oblivion in a new arms race. In recent years the US has been working towards a new Cold War. Will explains how the announcement ties with Trump's foreign policy...

Don't Tread on Anyone

No Matter What Happens, the World Only Watches

A police officer pushed his knee into the back of the neck of a man until he died. Murder. But we watched. A mob stomped a store owner into the pavement as he protected his property. Attempted murder. Again, we watched. A gunship blew journalists and then a...

Would Governments Ever Use Bio-Weapons Against Civilians?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxHR18f2A1I 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...

Philosophy Professor Responds to Police Brutality

https://youtu.be/ymzUbhQMfTc Do you get extra rights by getting a job with a group called government? Does getting paid to do an immoral action, justify you performing the immoral action under the guise of "I was just doing what I was told to"? To summarize Professor...

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