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Lee Wrights: The state of the union is still a state of war

Liberty for All:

by R. Lee Wrights

What was glaringly absent from President Obama’s state of the union address Tuesday night, as well as from the response from both the Republicans and the Tea Party movement, is an admission that the real state of the union is a state of war.

The president only mentioned Iraq and Afghanistan towards the end of his hour-long speech, and uttered the familiar shibboleth of “support the troops” as an applause line to gain the longest sustained ovation of the evening. Neither Rep. Paul Ryan, speaking for the Republicans, or Rep. Michelle Bachman, speaking for the Tea Party movement, mentioned these wars in their remarks at all.

Most of the president’s speech was a classic example of elected officials speaking out of both sides of their mouth. While on the one hand calling for a freeze in federal non-security, discretionary spending, the president also called for increased federal spending for a litany of non-security, discretionary items ranging from roads to high speed Internet. Except he doesn’t call it spending money, he calls it investment.

Incredibly, President Obama actually made light of the war on civil liberties being perpetrated by the Transportation Security Agency. He said that an “investment” in high-speed rail could soon make train travel faster than flying, and “without the pat down.” What was particularly disturbing about this quip was that it received laughs and applause from both Democrats and Republicans in the chamber.

Even though he acknowledged that ballooning federal spending and the skyrocketing national debt were unsustainable, President Obama warned against making “mindless cuts.” He admitted that his proposed spending freeze would only affect 12 percent of the budget. Then he said that in order to really tackle the deficit he would have to cut excessive spending “wherever we find it,” and even mentioned the big ticket items in the federal budget: Social Security, Medicare and Defense. But then he backed away from offering any meaningful action, preferring to talk about reducing health care costs, eliminating tax breaks and closing tax loopholes, and making government more affordable, more competent and more efficient.

President Obama said that the war in Iraq was “coming to and end,” even though a few months ago he said that the war was over. He also said, “we will begin” to bring troops home from Afghanistan in July, even though he has actually sent more troops there since taking office. That reminded me of a used car salesman who raises the price of a car before putting it on sale.

Clearly, neither the president, the Republicans or the so-called Tea Party Republicans have the courage to handle the truth and propose the one action that is absolutely essential if we are to avert an economic catastrophe. We must stop the spending on the 60 to 75 percent of the federal budget that cost the most – defense and entitlements.

We can’t avoid economic disaster by slowing spending, lowering spending, cutting spending, or freezing spending. Nor can we nickel-and-dime our way out of the crisis. We must stop spending on items that cost the most. And, we should begin to stop the spending by stopping all wars and bringing the troops home.

R. Lee Wrights is a writer and political activist living in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Lee is considering seeking the Libertarian Party presidential nomination. Contact Lee at rleewrights@gmail.com.

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87 Comments

  1. Down and Out in Dixie Down and Out in Dixie January 27, 2011

    Good article.

    One question though, what is the source of the stats in the next to last paragraph?

  2. Down and Out in Dixie Down and Out in Dixie January 27, 2011

    Oops…never mind.

    Just read it again and saw the word entitlements in there. That answers my question.

  3. Alan Pyeatt Alan Pyeatt January 27, 2011

    “And, we should begin to stop the spending by stopping all wars and bringing the troops home.”

    Amen! And, we need to hold the people who lied to us, killed over 1 million Iraqis, Afghanis, and Pakistanis (according to the BBC), and thousands of American soldiers ACCOUNTABLE for their crimes.

    We have known for years now that our own government lied to us about Iraqi soldiers killing Kuwaiti babies, in order to con our people into invading Iraq in 1991 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurse_Nayirah). Now, Dr. Ron Paul tells us that Wikileaks has confirmed suspicions that the Bush Administration gave Saddam Hussein a green light to invade Kuwait: http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/76462.html. And of course, all the talk about WMDs and Iraqi nuclear weapons leading up to the 2003 invasion also turned out to be a pack of lies.

    So what were those wars all about? Extending the American world empire, and lining the pockets of a bunch of wealthy traitors.

    It is just as important now as it was in 1720, when John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon wrote Cato’s Letters, to HOLD THE GUILTY ACCOUNTABLE. I pray that we find the courage and tenacity to live up to the example of our forefathers.

  4. paulie paulie January 27, 2011

    @3 Good points.

    We could start by calling for war crimes trials for the Bush Gang.

    As Libertarians, I am hesitant for us to go one the record for impeaching Obama, but only because we did call for impeaching Clinton but did not call for impeaching Bush.

    Other parties that did not do that should call for impeaching Obama.

    If and when we (LP) go on the record calling for war crimes trial for Bush and Co., a resolution for impeaching Obama for war crimes would become appropriate.

    Otherwise, assuming Obama voluntarily leaves office and supposing we still have any freedom of speech at that point, we can call for war crimes trials for both the Bush and Obama gangs at the same time.

    See:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance224.html

    The Twenty-Year War in Iraq

    by Laurence M. Vance

  5. Marc Montoni Marc Montoni January 27, 2011

    I don’t think we need to be reticent about impeaching every president, because every one of them in recent memory has knowingly allowed federal employees to violate the rights of individuals.

    Can anyone even name a single president who has consistently vetoed unconstitutional legislation?

    As for prosecution for war crimes, if Bush and Bushbama are to be pursued, Clinton and her aspirin-factory-bombing husband, and Shrub I, and even the peanut farmer belong at the defendant table.

  6. Marc Montoni Marc Montoni January 27, 2011

    As an aside, I think being elected should not confer much, if any, expectation of finishing one’s term. Politicians mess up. When they do, they should face the same music as managers in the honest (private) sector: get fired.

  7. paulie paulie January 27, 2011

    As an aside, I think being elected should not confer much, if any, expectation of finishing one’s term. Politicians mess up. When they do, they should face the same music as managers in the honest (private) sector: get fired.

    Agreed

  8. paulie paulie January 27, 2011

    I don’t think we need to be reticent about impeaching every president, because every one of them in recent memory has knowingly allowed federal employees to violate the rights of individuals.

    This is true. However, specifically in the case of the LP, we should not call for impeaching Obama unless we call for war crimes trials for Shrub first. This because, and only because, we shamefully failed to call for impeaching shrub while he squatted in the oval office, and we quite rightfully went on record calling for WC to be impeached for the correct reasons (not the blowjob, thankfully). Given these historical facts, which it is too late to change, calling for impeaching Obama while failing to call for justice for the Bush gang paints us as going only after Democrats but not Republicans. And that would be bad, no matter how much each and every one of the neo-Caesars deserve to be booted early. Perceptions matter, too.

    As for prosecution for war crimes, if Bush and Bushbama are to be pursued, Clinton and her aspirin-factory-bombing husband, and Shrub I, and even the peanut farmer belong at the defendant table.

    I’d work in descending order from most recent on down. Bombama is not eligible until he is out of office first, which can’t happen as fast as it should, but the sooner the better. Shrubya is the most eligible defendant. WC is the second in line. Ol’ Lyin’ Lips is right behind them, with all three so close together that it’s nuts to butts. In short, all of the white house residents since the start of the 20 year war in Iraq are high up on the war crimes priority list.

    The peanut farmer is a piker by comparison, and besides, he’s older than dirt now. I wouldn’t waste the prosecution’s time, unless maybe they had unlimited resources, and even then I may have mercy on the poor old man so he can spend his last little bit of time on earth in peace.

  9. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson January 27, 2011

    Lee I hope you sent this out to as many news outlets as you can find especially the U.P.I., Z magazine, The Nation, Counterpunch, Mother Jones, NPR, Pacifica Radio, etc. and I’ll send it on to a friend of mine who works at a community radio station. Oh yea, and all the college stations you can find.

  10. paulie paulie January 27, 2011

    MHW @ 9 Amen

    Links for all of the above at

    http://newslink.org

    Very, very useful site. Everyone here should make it their friend and ally.

  11. Observer Observer January 27, 2011

    I would SO love for the terms Libertarian party and anti-war to become phrases people are used to seeing together!

  12. paulie paulie January 27, 2011

    Looking at #4 and #8 above again, it looks like I said the same thing twice in different ways.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to do that. Let me expand on this:

    Given these historical facts, which it is too late to change, calling for impeaching Obama while failing to call for justice for the Bush gang paints us as going only after Democrats but not Republicans. And that would be bad, no matter how much each and every one of the neo-Caesars deserve to be booted early. Perceptions matter, too.

    So, why is this bad?

    Politics in America as most people see it today is like a football game [or a gang turf war] with two sides – Team Red and Team Blue.

    If we paint ourselves as combination chest pained drunk superfan-cheerleader with no panties on for one team or the other, we render ourselves irrelevant, not just in reality but even in potential.

    Why the hell would anyone vote for us, much less contribute their precious time and hard earned money, if we are just a copycat of team A or team B, or maybe a sort of team A-plus? They may as well vote for Team A, which is actually on the field and can “win,” or at least score. Under that scenario, letting us in the game makes as much sense as putting the drunk fan in the stands with his chest painted red on the field in a major league game.

    So, our job in politics is to show as many people as are willing to consider the possibility that the two teams don’t represent “both” sides of the game. I like to use the analogy that the grass on the field has a stake in the game. Namely, not getting torn up by the Team A and Team B players’ cleats. We’re Team Grass, sort of, so to speak.

    In the neighborhood gang war, we’re the organization trying to sign up the terrorized non-criminal residents of the community cowering in their homes behind closed doors so we can get both the Red and Blue bandanna gangs out of town.

    So, anything we do to create the impression that we are on the Red or Blue team is bad, bad, bad. Anything we do to make it seem we are rooting for one side or the other – doubleplusbad.

    Our message has to always be: a pox on both their houses. Anything else is cutting our own throats.

    However, as a temporary measure we have to, kind of, just slightly, correct an already existing imbalance in our position in the public mind, since through a long running cycle of misrepresenting our position as being more Team A than Team B in various ways, we have created the perception in much of the public – including our own membership – that we are “Team A that really means it,” or “Team A plus,” or at least closer to A than B.

    A, in this case, being Republicans. There are, to be fair, still some people who see us as more Team B-like, but they are more and more outnumbered.

    So, we have to correct that impression to get our ship upright in the water, or we are in danger of toppling over. And there can’t be forward progress when we are on our side and taking on water.

    Thus, a little overcompensation towards the other side is in order, but only as a temporary measure to get us back upright.

    Bottom line: the absolute very last thing we should be doing is worsening the already existing misconception that we are Republicanesque.

    And going after Democrats only, while not going after Republicans, does just that. No matter how much those Democrats deserve it.

    (Of course, going after the Republicans only would be almost just as bad, but obviously we are far removed from the universe where we are in danger of slipping into that mode).

  13. paulie paulie January 27, 2011

    @12 Sheesh.

    That was terrible.

    Way too long and way too much mixing metaphors. Hopefully someone will read it and understand what I was trying to say.

  14. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    I would SO love for the terms Libertarian party and anti-war to become phrases people are used to seeing together!

    Indeed. Lover of irony that I am, I can’t wait for the idea that Wayne bills himself as “the Anti-war WAR” or “WAR against war” or something. That would get some attention. I think it’s only a matter of time.

    Up until then Lee will have to be the Anti-WAR.

    Oh, and a bunch of other people.

  15. Tom Blanton Tom Blanton January 28, 2011

    It is unfortunate that the LP did not call for the impeachment of George W. Bush, but then there is a reason for that and we all know what that is.

  16. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson January 28, 2011

    Tom the LP could still demand that he be arrested and charged with the crimes he has committed. We certainly need to move in that direction. Be nice to see some of the presidential candidates make that demand before the convention and at the convention with the cameras on them.

  17. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    @16 exactly

  18. langa langa January 28, 2011

    Perhaps the LP could retroactively call for Bush’s impeachment (both of them) by adding a plank to the platform that would call for the automatic impeachment of any President who deploys troops in an undeclared war.

  19. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    Perhaps the LP could retroactively call for Bush’s impeachment (both of them) by adding a plank to the platform that would call for the automatic impeachment of any President who deploys troops in an undeclared war.

    The thing to do with ex-presidents is not retroactive impeachment, but war crimes trials such as the ones that the nazis had after they were defeated, as well as others more recent.

  20. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    From

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_crimes_committed_by_the_United_States#Iraq

    War on Terror

    As a reaction to the September 11, 2001 attacks the U.S. Government adopted several controversial measures (e.g., invading Iraq, applying “unlawful combatant” status to prisoners, conducting “extraordinary renditions”, and “enhanced interrogation methods”[30]).
    [edit] Command responsibility

    Human Rights Watch has claimed that the principle of “command responsibility” could make high-ranking officials within the Bush administration guilty of war crimes allegedly committed during the War on Terror, either with their knowledge or by persons under their control.[31]

    A presidential memorandum of September 7, 2002 authorized U.S. interrogators of prisoners captured in Afghanistan to deny the prisoners basic protections required by the Geneva Conventions, and thus according to Jordan J. Paust, professor of law and formerly a member of the faculty of the Judge Advocate General’s School, “necessarily authorized and ordered violations of the Geneva Conventions, which are war crimes.”[32] Based on the president’s memorandum, U.S. personnel carried out cruel and inhumane treatment on the prisoners,[33] which necessarily means that the president’s memorandum was a plan to violate the Geneva Convention, and such a plan constitutes a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, according to Professor Paust.[34]

    Alberto Gonzales and others argued that detainees should be considered “unlawful combatants” and as such not be protected by the Geneva Conventions in multiple memoranda regarding these perceived legal gray areas.[35]

    Gonzales’ statement that denying coverage under the Geneva Conventions “substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act” suggests, to some authors, an awareness by those involved in crafting policies in this area that US officials are involved in acts that could be seen to be war crimes.[36] The US Supreme Court challenged the premise on which this argument is based in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in which it ruled that Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions applies to detainees in Guantanamo Bay and that the Military Tribunals used to try these suspects were in violation of US and international law.[37]

    On April 14, 2006, Human Rights Watch said that Secretary Rumsfeld could be criminally liable for his alleged involvement in the abuse of Mohammad al-Qahtani.[38] On November 14, 2006, invoking universal jurisdiction, legal proceedings were started in Germany – for their alleged involvement of prisoner abuse – against Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, George Tenet and others.[39]

    The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is seen as an amnesty law for crimes committed in the War on Terror by retroactively rewriting the War Crimes Act[40] and by abolishing habeas corpus, effectively making it impossible for detainees to challenge crimes committed against them.[41]

    Luis Moreno-Ocampo has told the Sunday Telegraph he is willing to start an inquiry by the International Criminal Court (ICC), and possibly a trial, for war crimes committed in Iraq involving British Prime Minister Tony Blair and American President George W. Bush.[42] Though under the Rome Statute, the ICC has no jurisdiction over Bush, since the USA is not a State Party to the relevant treaty—unless Bush were accused of crimes inside a State Party, or the UN Security Council (where the USA has a veto) requested an investigation. However Blair does fall under ICC jurisdiction as Britain is a State Party[43].

    Nat Hentoff wrote on August 28, 2007, that a leaked report by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the July 2007 report by Human Rights First and Physicians for Social Responsibility, titled “Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality”, might be used as evidence of American war crimes if there was a Nuremberg-like trial regarding the War on Terror.[44][unreliable source?]

    Shortly before the end of President Bush’s second term, newsmedia in countries other than the U.S. began publishing the views of those who believe that under the United Nations Convention Against Torture the US is obligated to hold those responsible for prisoner abuse to account under criminal law.[45] One proponent of this view was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Professor Manfred Nowak) who, on January 20, 2009, remarked on German television that former president George W. Bush had lost his head of state immunity and under international law the U.S. would now be mandated to start criminal proceedings against all those involved in these violations of the UN Convention Against Torture.[46] Law professor Dietmar Herz explained Nowak’s comments by saying that under U.S. and international law former President Bush is criminally responsible for adopting torture as interrogation tool.[46]

  21. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    Further reading from same article:

    Further reading
    [edit] General

    * Jeremy Brecher, Jill Cutler, Brendan Smith, ed (2005). In the name of democracy: American war crimes in Iraq and beyond. Macmillan. ISBN 9780805079692.
    * Michael Haas (2008). George W. Bush, war criminal?: the Bush administration’s liability for 269 war crimes. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313364990.
    * Jordan J. Paust (2007). Beyond the law: the Bush Administration’s unlawful responses in the “War” on Terror. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521711203.
    * Mark Selden, Alvin Y. So, ed (2004). War and state terrorism: the United States, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific in the long twentieth century. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780742523913.
    * Frederick Henry Gareau (2004). State terrorism and the United States: from counterinsurgency to the war on terrorism. Zed Books. ISBN 9781842775356.
    * Vincent Bugliosi (2008). The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. Vanguard. ISBN 9781593154813.
    * “Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality”

    . Physicians for Human Rights / Human Rights First. August 2007. http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/documents/reports/leave-no-marks.pdf

    .

    [edit] By nation
    [edit] Iraq

    * Richard A. Falk, Irene L. Gendzier, Robert Jay Lifton, ed (2006). Crimes of war: Iraq. Nation Books. ISBN 9781560258032.
    * Ramsey Clark (1992). War crimes: a report on United States war crimes against Iraq. Maisonneuve Press. ISBN 9780944624159.
    * Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (2003). Behind the war on terror: western secret strategy and the struggle for Iraq

    . New Society Publishers. ISBN 9780865715066. http://books.google.com/books?id=Ug-755RzCloC&pg=PA86

    .
    * Marjorie Cohn (November 9, 2006). “Donald Rumsfeld: The War Crimes Case”

    . The Jurist. http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2006/11/donald-rumsfeld-war-crimes-case.php

    .
    * Ulrike Demmer (2007-03-26). “Wanted For War Crimes: Rumsfeld Lawsuit Embarrasses German Authorities”

    . Der Spiegel. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,473987,00.html

    .
    * Patrick Donahue (2007-04-27). “German Prosecutor Won’t Set Rumsfeld Probe Following Complaint”

    . Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a3ZI8uTWUHVo&refer=germany

    .External links

    * Human Rights First; Command’s Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan

    http://www.humanrightsfirst.info/pdf/06221-etn-hrf-dic-rep-web.pdf

  22. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    The thing to do with ex-presidents is not retroactive impeachment, but war crimes trials such as the ones that the nazis had after they were defeated, as well as others more recent.

    With current presidents, they have to be impeached and removed first. Only then can they go on to war crimes trials. Alternatively, they are open for war crimes prosecutions after they are termed out of office.

  23. langa langa January 28, 2011

    “The thing to do with ex-presidents is not retroactive impeachment, but war crimes trials such as the ones that the nazis had after they were defeated, as well as others more recent.”

    Yeah, that’s a decent option as well. The only problem that I have with it is that it involves advocating action by an international organization like the ICC, and I’m generally opposed to such organizations, as they go in the opposite direction of freedom (i.e. they lead to centralization of power, while we should be working for decentralization of power). But in this case, I guess I’d be willing to make an exception, since trying them in a domestic court would be farcical.

  24. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    “The only problem that I have with it is that it involves advocating action by an international organization like the ICC, and I’m generally opposed to such organizations, as they go in the opposite direction of freedom (i.e. they lead to centralization of power, while we should be working for decentralization of power). But in this case, I guess I’d be willing to make an exception, since trying them in a domestic court would be farcical. ”

    I agree that I oppose giving power to the international level. If we can have a domestic trial, why not?

    Perhaps we can apply the goose/gander principle and extradite shrubya into Taliban captivity, and let them conduct an inquest according to their customs.

    Another idea may be to simply apply his own rules in his own system and let him do an indefinite stretch in Gitmo, housed alongside other terrorism suspects for so long as any continue to be there, or in their place after they are gone along with his crew. They would be treated exactly the same as everyone else, or, in the same manner as previous detainees were treated. Detention could be indefinite, with no charges and thus save the taxpayers money.

    No, on second thought, maintaining such a system would be inhumane and intolerable.

    And perhaps you are right that a fair trial would be hard to conduct in the US.

    You are certainly correct about global bureaucracy. That is jumping from the frying pan straight into the fire. Although, the system exists and has already been used on several miscreants, so why not one more?

    But of the options discussed, possibly the least damaging is to just hand him off to the Taliban. No global bureaucracy, no USA #1 jury, no maintaining of messy secret prisons in the autocratic style. And complete parity with what was done to many of their own, shipped off to foreign systems of justice. What could be more fitting and proportional?

  25. langa langa January 28, 2011

    Paulie, I hadn’t thought of the idea of turning him over to the Taliban, but I really like it. The best part would be that if he complained about lack of due process, we could just refer him to one of John Yoo’s screeds about the inapplicability of Constitutional protections in time of war.

  26. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi January 28, 2011

    l23: …since trying them in a domestic court would be farcical.

    me: Interesting that you consider the optics as to venue, but not the very idea of a war-crimes tribunal. Yes, the LP could call for impeaching BHO, and bringing Carter, the Bushes, Clinton to justice for their “crimes.” Why stop there? Every VP, every MC, every cabinet member, every employee of the FedGov, student loan users, Social Security recipients, interstate highway drivers…every one of ’em is complicit! Let’s do our revolution right…really show the French how it’s done!

    Seriously, if such loose talk is NOT loose, please then justify this call for a selective prosecution. Is it that W is the largest violator, so y’all want to start with him? William Coleman (sec’y of transportation under Ford) or Nicholas Katzenbach (atty general under Johnson) might be a better place to start, since they are the oldest of some rank, so odds are highest they’ll escape justice.

    Part of me like this idea, but then I also like the idea of lightening up on gravity, too. I’ve never had the vertical to dunk a basketball, but I’d like to.

  27. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi January 28, 2011

    tk27, you leave me guessing. Are you saying I’m engaging in slippery-slope rhetoric by bringing up the idea that a W-only selective prosecution could be viewed as unjust?

    Could be. (Personally, were I God, I’d probably put Cheney on trial before W, since my guess is he’s the more culpable of doing hurtful deeds.)

    My point is somewhat different. The practice of justice is a relative thing. It requires the ability to effect an outcome that repairs a wrong, or dissuades future wrongs.

    Calling for a war-crimes tribunal is empty rhetoric. The LP or LM is not in a position to fix the errors of the W years, much less the LBJ years. As a tiny minority, our first task to gather like-minded people to push for more liberty. Alternatively, some of us can further refine our theory of human liberty, making it a stronger case. I’d think we can stipulate that the case has thus far not been especially persuasive, based on results.

    If ascending the soap box to call for W’s prosecution is an effective means to attract larger numbers to our cause, I’d favor it. My sense is that it would not; most would view it as a fringy stunt, not worthy of further consideration.

    Politics is theater.

  28. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp January 28, 2011

    “Are you saying I’m engaging in slippery-slope rhetoric by bringing up the idea that a W-only selective prosecution could be viewed as unjust?”

    Yes. You’re suggesting that a call to prosecute Ted Bundy for serial murders must end with the neighborhood litterbug’s head poised beneath the guillotine blade.

    Yes, politics is theater.

    Politics also has long-term ramifications.

    At some point, sooner or later, the question of who supported letting America’s war criminals die of old age versus who supported sending them to Fort Wayne for their shots will become politically important. Being wrong or silent on that question may have short-term minor benefits, but in the long run it suicidal.

  29. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi January 28, 2011

    tk: …the question of who supported letting America’s war criminals die of old age versus who supported sending them to Fort Wayne for their shots will become politically important.

    me: Pregnant notion, that. Is someone keeping a list? If it does become politically important, I have to wonder to whom it will be important, and how they’ll make their decision, and what they will do?

    I might die today on the way to work. Or, I might live another 30 years. If the Revolution comes and it’s L (not even more statist, which I think is the more likely) and I’m still breathing, I’ll hope for some mercy from my judge, to the extent that I’m viewed as “impure” for my non-absolutism and default toward moderation and civility. Short of that, I hope they get it over with quickly.

    Ultimately, though, que sera.

  30. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson January 28, 2011

    Mr. Capozzi at some point someone has to start holding the politicians who commit crimes responsible for their actions, otherwise every politician who follows them will feel it is okay to do the same, but first others have to demand that they be held responsible for their actions.

    What happened in Iraq was murder. There was no reason for the invasion. Hundreds of thousands have died, property has been destroyed and the people who lied the U.S. into those actions are walking away.

  31. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp January 28, 2011

    Bob@30,

    Lots of people are keeping lots of lists.

    Your general frame of reference to political questions seems to be the whole “end of history” bit — things are going to go on pretty much the same way as they’re going now, forever, and all that anyone can do is try to find creative new forms of rhetorical masturbation (Blub! Cruft! Coordinating towards higher values!) to describe it and hope that those forms catch on and everyone likes you for them.

    Thing is, history hasn’t ended and history says you’re wrong.

    When — not if — the revolution comes, the best chance for it becoming a libertarian revolution is for libertarians to be recognizable as having been courageous and correct, rather than craven and complicit, toward the crimes which bring about the reaction that results in that revolution.

    I doubt that the next revolution will be libertarian in character — my guess is that it will be right-populist at the start and fascist by the time things gel for awhile — but I don’t see the point in working to guarantee that it won’t be libertarian by trying to make libertarianism “centrist.” The centrists may not be the first ones up against the wall, but they’re always the first ones dismissed from the conversation when it reaches that point.

  32. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    If ascending the soap box to call for W’s prosecution is an effective means to attract larger numbers to our cause,

    Most absolutely, it would. The number of people who would strongly favor such trials, and have libertarian leanings in general, and would finally notice the LP doing something is much larger than the number active in the LP now. It’s true that we don’t have the means to actually cause the trials to occur, but we also don’t have the means to make many things we wish to happen. It doesn’t stop us from saying they should.

    And as for who should be on trial, see links I posted above. Those in direct involvement with war crimes should be on trial for war crimes. During denazification of Germany, and in other more recent cases where war crimes trials happened, it was possible to determine who was responsible for command decisions that led to war crimes. There was no need to put everyone in the country who took out students loans or worked as a postal clerk on trial for justice to be served.

    Saying there is no way to determine who is responsible for war crimes is to allow them to be committed with immunity in the future. To whatever extent our voice can aid the cause of justice for war crimes committed in our name, we are remiss not to call for it. And we can’t credibly claim to be advocates of liberty, and yet not call for appropriate measures to be taken to deal with what has been done in our name, with money coerced from us, around the world.

  33. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    Yes, the LP could call for impeaching BHO, and bringing Carter, the Bushes, Clinton to justice for their “crimes.” Why stop there? Every VP, every MC, every cabinet member, every employee of the FedGov, student loan users, Social Security recipients, interstate highway drivers…every one of ‘em is complicit! Let’s do our revolution right…really show the French how it’s done!

    So, what about the cops who beat Rodney King? Should they have stood trial? Or would we have to put the whole LAPD, including dispatchers and desk cops on trial? Maybe all LA city employees, such as garbage collectors and kitchen workers in the LA Unified School District? These types of arguments don’t make sense.

    The people who abuse their authority to commit crimes, and those who order them to do so, should be brought to justice. And those who advocate liberty should call on justice to be done, whether we can yet make it happen or not. Liberty loves justice and abhors tyranny.

  34. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    Could be. (Personally, were I God, I’d probably put Cheney on trial before W, since my guess is he’s the more culpable of doing hurtful deeds.)

    I said the Bush gang. That means everyone responsible for command decisions, including Cheney. Had Hitler not killed himself, he would have stood trial, but not alone. As the chief executive, W was responsible for command decisions on his watch. “The buck stops here.”

  35. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    My point is somewhat different. The practice of justice is a relative thing. It requires the ability to effect an outcome that repairs a wrong, or dissuades future wrongs.

    Justice always begins with saying that justice needs to be served.

  36. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    Calling for a war-crimes tribunal is empty rhetoric. The LP or LM is not in a position to fix the errors of the W years, much less the LBJ years.

    So, if there had been a Libertarian Party in Germany in 1945, or any of a number of countries that carried out war crimes, it would have been empty rhetoric to call for war crimes tribunals?

    As a tiny minority, our first task to gather like-minded people to push for more liberty.

    We can only do so by A) being noticed and B) actually advocating liberty, which absolutely includes justice for the innocent as well as the guilty. To ignore the elephant in the room is to tell anyone who hears our message that we don’t really mean it.

    Alternatively, some of us can further refine our theory of human liberty, making it a stronger case. I’d think we can stipulate that the case has thus far not been especially persuasive, based on results.

    I agree. I think that part of that refinement would be to address the issue of war crimes committed by the US government in our time.

  37. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    If ascending the soap box to call for W’s prosecution is an effective means to attract larger numbers to our cause, I’d favor it. My sense is that it would not; most would view it as a fringy stunt, not worthy of further consideration.

    Those people are not the most available audience we have. The many who would consider it a righteous cause would be far more likely to be open to our message in general.

    Politics is theater.

    My point exactly.

  38. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    My point is somewhat different. The practice of justice is a relative thing. It requires the ability to effect an outcome that repairs a wrong, or dissuades future wrongs.

    One does not dissuade future wrongs by ignoring past ones, and the ability to effect outcomes starts with having a clue what those outcomes should be and stating them in some noticeable fashion.

  39. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    At some point, sooner or later, the question of who supported letting America’s war criminals die of old age versus who supported sending them to Fort Wayne for their shots will become politically important. Being wrong or silent on that question may have short-term minor benefits, but in the long run it suicidal.

    Exactly.

    For that matter, it is even suicidal in the short term, since it sends a clear signal to those who already understand that war crimes have been committed – and that’s a lot of people – that we don’t care, and that our commitment to liberty is hollow.

    Pregnant notion, that. Is someone keeping a list?

    Why, yes. Refer to past war crimes prosecutions for examples of how that is arranged.

  40. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    If it does become politically important, I have to wonder to whom it will be important, and how they’ll make their decision, and what they will do?

    It is already politically important to some people and will become more and more important to more and more people with time. As for the other two questions: again, refer to past war crimes prosecutions.

    If the Revolution comes and it’s L (not even more statist, which I think is the more likely)

    Calling for war crimes trials under already established principles of law is not a call for violent revolution.

    I’ll hope for some mercy from my judge, to the extent that I’m viewed as “impure” for my non-absolutism and default toward moderation and civility. Short of that, I hope they get it over with quickly.

    No one has proposed war crimes trials for political impurity. War crimes trials should be reserved for actual war crimes. Links to documentation of same above.


    Mr. Capozzi at some point someone has to start holding the politicians who commit crimes responsible for their actions, otherwise every politician who follows them will feel it is okay to do the same, but first others have to demand that they be held responsible for their actions.

    What happened in Iraq was murder. There was no reason for the invasion. Hundreds of thousands have died, property has been destroyed and the people who lied the U.S. into those actions are walking away.

    Exactly, although I believe a more accurate estimate is at least about 2 million dead from war and the effects of war, including bombing, occupation and embargo (siege), over the last 20 years, in Iraq alone, and that does not count AfPak.

    Mass amounts of rape, torture, false imprisonment, assault and robbery on scales to difficult for the human mind to grasp were also part of the war crimes committed in our name and with the money US raxpayers paid either out of a sense of duty or fear.

  41. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    When — not if — the revolution comes, the best chance for it becoming a libertarian revolution is for libertarians to be recognizable as having been courageous and correct, rather than craven and complicit, toward the crimes which bring about the reaction that results in that revolution.

    We can only hope that it will be a peaceful revolution. Of course, peaceful does not mean devoid of war crimes trials, when war crimes have taken place.

  42. JT JT January 28, 2011

    Robert: “Alternatively, some of us can further refine our theory of human liberty, making it a stronger case. I’d think we can stipulate that the case has thus far not been especially persuasive, based on results.”

    I agree that Libertarians can and should improve their power of persuasion, particularly Libertarian candidates. Positions can be framed in a way that’s clear and compelling, or not (the Advocates for Self-Government is a great resource in this regard). I don’t look at the results and then just chalk them up to WHAT’S being presented. I focus on the HOW it’s being presented, which is often sorely lacking.

    Moreover, it’s crucial to understand there are huge institutional barriers in the path of the LP. Many Libertarians prefer not to acknowledge that, but ballot access laws and campaign finance laws, for example, have a direct, negative impact on Libertarian effectiveness. I don’t think such hurdles are IMPOSSIBLE to overcome, but they do put the LP at a major disadvantage before the starter gun is even fired.

    Paulie: “During denazification of Germany, and in other more recent cases where war crimes trials happened, it was possible to determine who was responsible for command decisions that led to war crimes.”

    This is a good point. I think it would be more obvious to identify who was responsible for such decisions here than there. Never going to happen and probably won’t get a lot of media attention, but I understand the motivation as a matter of justice.

  43. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    I agree that Libertarians can and should improve their power of persuasion, particularly Libertarian candidates. Positions can be framed in a way that’s clear and compelling, or not (the Advocates for Self-Government is a great resource in this regard). I don’t look at the results and then just chalk them up to WHAT’S being presented. I focus on the HOW it’s being presented, which is often sorely lacking.

    Moreover, it’s crucial to understand there are huge institutional barriers in the path of the LP. Many Libertarians prefer not to acknowledge that, but ballot access laws and campaign finance laws, for example, have a direct, negative impact on Libertarian effectiveness. I don’t think such hurdles are IMPOSSIBLE to overcome, but they do put the LP at a major disadvantage before the starter gun is even fired.

    Very good point.

    Getting noticed by taking a stand, such as war crimes prosecutions for Bush and Co and (contingent on the first part) impeachment for war crimes and abridgement of civil liberties for Obama, helps rise above background noise level.

    Which helps overcome institutional barriers.
    It all flows together.

    Never going to happen and probably won’t get a lot of media attention

    I’m not nearly so pessimistic, on either count.

  44. JT JT January 28, 2011

    Me: “Never going to happen and probably won’t get a lot of media attention”

    Paulie: “I’m not nearly so pessimistic, on either count.”

    Understood. I consider it more realistic than pessimistic though. No U.S. officials have ever stood trial for war crimes despite engaging in other unpopular wars of aggression. I don’t see that happening now either.

    Also, I don’t think the LP got a great deal of media coverage when it called for the impeachment of Bill Clinton for crimes against the Constitution in the 1990s (at least that’s how I remember it?). I agree with Robert that calling for war crimes charges against a former President and other former high-ranking federal officials will likely be looked at as a fringe publicity stunt and major media outlets won’t want to cover that.

  45. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    No U.S. officials have ever stood trial for war crimes despite engaging in other unpopular wars of aggression.

    There’s always a first time for everything. No wars in US history have ever been so lengthy, the debt has never piled as high, documentation of war crimes has never been so abundant and undeniable due to new communication technology.

    Also, I don’t think the LP got a great deal of media coverage when it called for the impeachment of Bill Clinton for crimes against the Constitution in the 1990s (at least that’s how I remember it?). I agree with Robert that calling for war crimes charges against a former President and other former high-ranking federal officials will likely be looked at as a fringe publicity stunt and major media outlets won’t want to cover that.

    OK, so we have a difference of opinion. I think it’s the right thing to do. Start a spark, and hopefully it will grow into much more. Maybe much more than you dare imagination.

    Maybe not. Wouldn’t be the first time. But that’s not a reason to not try.

  46. JT JT January 28, 2011

    True. I’m just going by past evidence and my speculation about what would probably happen. Might be worth it anyway.

  47. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    The most widely held backstory about the LP in the media is that we are a far right political party. We are also somewhat known for being for legalizing drugs, although not as much lately.

    Calling for impeaching Clinton when all sorts of “other conservative” organizations are calling for it (on the presumption that we are a conservative organization) is thus not as newsworthy as calling for war crimes trials for the Bush Crime Family. However, I seem to recall that calling for Clinton impeachment did get picked up by some media as well. I don’t remember the details.

    And while it is true that the LP had different reasons for impeaching Clinton than the Republicans did, the headline is read more than the whole news release by busy news editors.

    It probably hasn’t helped our image that we ran the guy who managed the old fashioned Republican Clinton impeachment for president. That may have been an interesting narrative had he run as a changed man first and foremost, but instead he fudged the difference between those who liked him best for his actual record in office and those (relatively far fewer) who saw him more as a changed man.

    As Darryl Northrop writes at Green Party Watch in the thread precipitated by the prospective candidacy of a different Barr,

    http://www.greenpartywatch.org/2011/01/25/rosanne-barr-to-seek-green-nomination/comment-page-1/#comment-13827

    “McKinney, while taking principled stands on issues, has such a poisoned self image that she has little value to the party in general. I know that sounds harsh, but that’s reality. Her narrative is already cast in concrete, and the Green Party does not have the money, will, or political expertise to change that. We just need to be realistic about that. McKinney may be able to to great things for the party, just not as our marquee candidate.

    We need to cultivate, support, and run home-grown Green Party candidates. It allows us to have more control over the narrative, and build the party under our own terms.

    The same may very well hold true for the Libertarians.

  48. JT JT January 28, 2011

    Paulie: “The most widely held backstory about the LP in the media is that we are a far right political party. We are also somewhat known for being for legalizing drugs, although not as much lately.”

    I’d agree with that and don’t like it. But I don’t like the idea of the LP being held as a leftist political party either. I think you might, but I’m not sure.

    Paulie: “Calling for impeaching Clinton when all sorts of “other conservative” organizations are calling for it (on the presumption that we are a conservative organization) is thus not as newsworthy as calling for war crimes trials for the Bush Crime Family.”

    Probably. I just don’t think either would be very newsworthy to major media outlets.

    Paulie: “However, I seem to recall that calling for Clinton impeachment did get picked up by some media as well.”

    Yes, it was. This would probably be too. I said not much.

    Paulie: “And while it is true that the LP had different reasons for impeaching Clinton than the Republicans did, the headline is read more than the whole news release by busy news editors.”

    You’re right. But it was in the headline.

  49. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    I?d agree with that and don?t like it. But I don?t like the idea of the LP being held as a leftist political party either. I think you might, but I?m not sure.

    No, I would not like it. The modern left is far too wedded to what are properly termed rightist – that is, statist – means of achieving supposedly liberal goals, especially, but not only, in the economic sphere. To have libertarians seen as leftists without doing a disservice to libertarianism, we would have to change the meaning of leftist and liberal back to what it had always been prior to this past century or so.

    Which, while it seems far fetched, seems at least somewhat more plausibly realistic than changing the right from what it has always been and continues to be, some deflecting rhetoric to the contrary.

    The thing is (see my rambling post

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2011/01/lee-wrights-the-state-of-the-union-is-still-a-state-of-war/comment-page-1/#comment-313778

    Given where we are now, it takes pushing more to the left just to have us plausibly seen as neither left nor right (in the current sense).

    The second reason is that I see the ideological compass as 3-D. Foreign/military policy is the missing 3rd dimension from the WSPQ. many people already acknowledge that, broadly speaking, there are three general areas of government policy: economic, social, and military/foreign.

    The “left” today is generally considered to be for less government than the right on 2 of these 3: military/foreign policy and social issues. Granted, not all social issues, and they are tremendously hypocritical on their stated support for cutting government in these two areas of policy when actually in power, just as the right is hypocritical in its stated supported for cutting government in the economic sphere.

    But on this 3-D diamond chart, a consistent view of smaller government in all three areas – economic, social, foreign/military – is about 2/3 “leftist” and 1/3 “rightist”. Since foreign policy is orthogonal to the 2-D diamond, it introduces a tension into our directional model which is what is leading us to be falsely perceived as a rightist party and movement. More on that in a minute.

  50. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    Oops…rambled again and didn’t get to my point.

    Short version: while we should not want to be painted as either left or right, since we are already being painted as far right, we need a bit of overcompensation to balance things out, but not too much.

  51. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    Paulie: “Calling for impeaching Clinton when all sorts of “other conservative” organizations are calling for it (on the presumption that we are a conservative organization) is thus not as newsworthy as calling for war crimes trials for the Bush Crime Family.”

    JT: “Probably. I just don’t think either would be very newsworthy to major media outlets.”

    p2: It would depend on how much we talk about it, along with other factors besides message alone, as you pointed out above (presentation, etc).

    Paulie: “And while it is true that the LP had different reasons for impeaching Clinton than the Republicans did, the headline is read more than the whole news release by busy news editors.”

    JT: “You’re right. But it was in the headline.”

    p2: Perhaps you missed my point on that one. The headline: LP calls for impeaching Clinton. The first reaction: another bunch of conservatives with their panties in a knot about a blowjob. Dog bites man. Next. No read more.
    Most likely action: Round file.

    In my other scenario:
    The headline: LP calls for war crimes trials for Bush, Cheney.
    First reaction: Whoah. Conservatives want to put a Republican administration on trial for war crimes….what?

    Man bites dog. Must. Read more.

    From there: ?

    I don’t know, but I’d be interested to find out.

  52. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    @ http://libertarianblue.blogspot.com/2011/01/libertarians-are-right-wing.html

    One of the advantages or disadvantages (depending on how you look at it) to being a libertarian is that liberals and conservatives accuse of us of being the other.

    Daily Dish blogger Andrew Sullivan had nominated Lew Rockwell of all people for the Michelle Malkin award.

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/01/malkin-award-nominee-ctd.html

    Now what in anyone’s political mind who actually pays attention and not just repeats sound bites would think Lew Rockwell and Michelle Malkin are the same stripe? Is it just the repeated myth that Libertarians and Conservatives are the same or is it Sullivan’s plain ignorance (either on purpose or not) of both ideologies? If Sullivan and those who share his view on this subject would do some simple research, they would come to the quick realization that libertarians and conservatives are completely different.

    Conservatives firmly stand for the following;

    1. National Security State/Police Socialism (TSA, Patriot Act, Drug War, etc)
    2. Military Keynesianism (current foreign policy, bases all over the world, etc)
    3. Morality legislation

    However in no way this exempts liberals, since they support both of these concepts as well. They just disguise it enough so their supporters can’t catch on. In reality liberals and Conservatives stand for the same thing with the only difference is that Conservatives mask it in the collectivist concept of organized religion in order to justify it. Rockwell and company have spoken out and continue to speak out against these actions since day one. Unlike conservatives who only pay lip service to the ideas of privatizing social security, cutting and phasing out entitlements, actually letting people keep more of their money, stopping government thuggery, among others, Libertarian Ron Paul is the only one as usual who practices and acts on what he preaches. So if liberals really wanna criticize us, they should really do some research before lumping us with their red statist kin.

  53. JT JT January 28, 2011

    Paulie: “It would depend on how much we talk about it, along with other factors besides message alone, as you pointed out above (presentation, etc).”

    Well, I don’t think how much we talk about it would be a big factor. You can talk about something until you’re blue in the face, but if it’s something the news media dismisses out of hand, it doesn’t matter.

    Paulie: “Perhaps you missed my point on that one. The headline: LP calls for impeaching Clinton. The first reaction: another bunch of conservatives with their panties in a knot about a blowjob. Dog bites man. Next. No read more.
    Most likely action: Round file.”

    I think the headline said something like: “LP: Impeach Clinton For Crimes Against the Constitution,” not for a blowjob. So it wasn’t just a routine “Impeach Clinton” statement. You might not find that exciting either though.

    Paulie: “The headline: LP calls for war crimes trials for Bush, Cheney.
    First reaction: Whoah. Conservatives want to put a Republican administration on trial for war crimes….what?
    Man bites dog. Must. Read more.”

    That’s your reaction as an LP member. I guess we just have a difference of opinion over whether the LP saying it wants to do that is likely to get major news coverage. IMO, it would get some coverage somewhere but generally be dismissed. I can’t predict the future, but that’s what I think.

    Of course, as I said before, that doesn’t mean doing it would be worthless.

  54. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    Well, I don?t think how much we talk about it would be a big factor. You can talk about something until you?re blue in the face, but if it?s something the news media dismisses out of hand, it doesn?t matter.

    I disagree. When it comes to getting any of your positions noticed, it’s all about how much you emphasize them and repetition is the key. Things don’t usually sink in the first time you hear them. And when people only notice you every once in a while, the first thing or few you say will help shape their perception. So if you only say something once, far fewer people will know you said it at all.

    I think the headline said something like: ?LP: Impeach Clinton For Crimes Against the Constitution,? not for a blowjob. So it wasn?t just a routine ?Impeach Clinton? statement. You might not find that exciting either though.

    All conservatives said that the blowjob was a crime against the constitution. More specifically the crime was lying to prosecutors and obstruction of justice, but the lies were still about getting head. So it’s still more dog bites man than man bites dog.

    Also, @ 53 is now a separate IPR post, which also includes Ron Paul discussing the 2011 State of the Union on Stossel as well as a clip from his 1988 LP campaign from the Mort Downey Jr TV show:

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2011/01/libertarian-blue-libertarians-are-right-wing/

  55. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    And in related news:

    http://irregulartimes.com/index.php/archives/2011/01/27/are-war-criminals-coming-to-your-neighborhood-find-out-with-war-criminals-watch/

    World Can’t Wait has created a clever database called War Criminals Watch that discloses the times and places where the war criminals of the previous Bush administration will be appearing in public events. It is only just that these Bush administration officials, who ripped away Americans’ privacy and presumption of innocence while demanding secrecy and unaccountability for themselves, be geolocated so that protesters may assemble nearby to remind Americans what the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Jay Bybee, Karl Rove, John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton and Michael Mukasey did to undermine democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

    When you click through to the War Criminals Watch website, however, a video will automatically begin to play that exposes a blind spot in the project. You’ll hear the testimony of a signatory to the Crimes are Crimes No Matter Who Does Them statement, someone like Joyce Kozloff:

    My name is Joyce Kozloff. I’m an artist. When I received the statement and read it, I completely agreed with it. I just reread it this morning and I still agree with it. I don’t know why there’s been so little criticism of Obama from the left. I think that so many people had such high hopes for him and so many people worked so hard to get him elected, and it’s been very disappointing. These wars continue and there’s very little activity in the peace movement since Obama was elected. Partly people are burned out and depressed and disappointed, and partly I think a lot of people feel that we can’t get any better than Obama and if there is a great deal of opposition we might get someone even worse. So he’s kind of had a free ride.

    I’m particularly upset about the drone attacks, the ongoing drone attacks, and about aerial war in general, and the massive loss of civilian life. It doesn’t seem to be ending; quite the contrary, it seems to be escalating. I wish there were more opposition.

    I wish there were more opposition, too. As of today, nearly a year after the Crimes are Crimes campaign began, only 2,770 people across the country have signed the statement along with Kozloff. Kozloff is right: something is wrong on the left.

    I laud the creation of the War Criminals Watch database. I urge World Can’t Wait to include the appearances of relevant Obama administration officials on this list as well, because World Can’t Wait is right: crimes are crimes, no matter who commits them.

    Yep…

  56. JT JT January 28, 2011

    Paulie: “I disagree. When it comes to getting any of your positions noticed, it’s all about how much you emphasize them and repetition is the key.”

    I’ve always said repetition is key in penetrating people’s minds and getting them to embrace ideas (if you have a means to do that). It’s not key in getting major news exposure though. I work in the news business, and news people decide very quickly whether they’re interested in something or not. If not, the LP saying something a thousand times instead of once isn’t going to make major news outlets cover it.

  57. langa langa January 28, 2011

    RC: “Why stop there? Every VP, every MC, every cabinet member, every employee of the FedGov, student loan users, Social Security recipients, interstate highway drivers…every one of ‘em is complicit!”

    While I think Paulie and TK have done of fine job of answering this, allow me to add my 2 cents.

    Although I can’t seem to find a link to it right now, I recall that Rothbard made a distinction between 2 types of government jobs: those that would be necessary even in the absence of the state (or with only a minimal state), and those that are made possible only by the existence of the modern “big government” state.

    People in the first category (such as those who work for the Post Office or the Fire Department) are still productive members of society, since they are performing tasks that help people. In other words, they’re supplying goods or services that are in demand. Of course, these things could be supplied more efficiently by the market, but they still have some value, no matter how inefficiently they’re being supplied.

    However, those people in the second category (such as those who work for the ATF or the DEA, or even the IRS) are not doing anything of real value. They’re engaged in purely criminal enterprises, and in a truly free society, they would be recognized as criminals.

    Rothbard argued that it was fine for libertarians to work for the government, but only as long as they were engaged in one of the productive (Category 1) jobs, rather than the criminal (Category 2) jobs. I would make a similar argument, that people who are engaged in purely criminal activities (regardless of whether those activities are carried out by the state or by private criminal organizations) should be prosecuted for their crimes.

    Obviously, there are some gray areas, but overall, I feel that this is a very reasonable standard. As for why priority should be given to Bush (or Clinton or whoever), the President is ultimately the man who calls the shots (even if he delegates that duty, he’s still responsible for the end result). Therefore, he should be given priority.

  58. paulie paulie January 28, 2011

    Just so no one is confused.

    However, those people in the second category (such as those who work for the ATF or the DEA, or even the IRS) are not doing anything of real value. They’re engaged in purely criminal enterprises, and in a truly free society, they would be recognized as criminals.

    Rothbard argued that it was fine for libertarians to work for the government, but only as long as they were engaged in one of the productive (Category 1) jobs, rather than the criminal (Category 2) jobs. I would make a similar argument, that people who are engaged in purely criminal activities (regardless of whether those activities are carried out by the state or by private criminal organizations) should be prosecuted for their crimes.

    I did not mean anything so broad when I talked about war crimes prosecutions. Not saying that you said I did, but I want that to be clear.

    I was talking about people who engaged in and/or ordered actual war crimes that are recognized internationally as such, not only by libertarians alone, and up the chain of command from those that carried out the actual physical acts of violence to their commander in chief.

    In other words, the exact same type of war crimes trials as have been carried out for the leadership of some other countries, although I am ambivalent about allowing the international courts to get involved, as discussed above.

  59. langa langa January 28, 2011

    To make my own clarification, I am obviously not saying that all the people that I referred to as “criminals” should be prosecuted for war crimes. I was addressing the more general question posed by RC as to what extent government employees (or even citizens) are culpable in the crimes committed by the state. My answer for citizens is not at all, and for employees, it depends on the nature of their job.

  60. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson January 28, 2011

    Off the top of my head history.

    In the aftermath of WWII one of the Japanese generals was tried for war crimes and charged with command responsibility for the actions of troops under his command in SE Asia even though he was not in the area at the time, found guilty and hanged.

    The idea of command responsibility goes back to the Romans. George Bush was the Commander in Chief of the troops in Iraq. He failed to get a declaration of war and ordered the troops in combat without justification. Subsequently a couple of hundred thousand people have been killed and millions , if not billion in property has been destroyed. Even the death of one person makes him the responsible party to that death.

    Now I am not a lawyer and I don’t know squat about the legal system, but common sense tells me that if the men and women in the field in uniform are to be held accountable under the UCMJ for their actions then their commanders need to be held to the same standard.

  61. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson January 28, 2011

    UCMJ is the Uniform Code of Military Justice for those of you who may not know.

  62. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi January 29, 2011

    Mhw31: Mr. Capozzi at some point someone has to start holding the politicians who commit crimes responsible for their actions, otherwise every politician who follows them will feel it is okay to do the same.

    Me: I don’t disagree. Pols have done terrible things throughout the ages. If one is in a position to “hold” them “responsible,” by all means, do so. I suggest that the LP, you and I are not is such a position. Discerning a “crime” requires an ability to prove the case. We’re not there as yet. We’re still in the “social critic” role, identifying institutional dysfunctions and offering alternative theories.

    Tk32: Your general frame of reference to political questions seems to be the whole “end of history” bit — things are going to go on pretty much the same way as they’re going now, forever…

    Me: It may seem that way, but it’s not. I have no idea what the future holds. Any number of possibilities could happen. I invest in none of them. To the extent I advocate near term positions, I agree that in the near term the current social configuration is likely.

    Tk32: When — not if — the revolution comes, the best chance for it becoming a libertarian revolution is for libertarians to be recognizable as having been courageous and correct, rather than craven and complicit, toward the crimes which bring about the reaction that results in that revolution.

    Me: I understand. If you are IN YOUR MIND *certain* that revolution is coming (presumably soon), it seems reasonable that one might prepare and position for such an “eventuality.” That’s not my assumption, however, so that does seem to put us on different paths. I’d like to think that on my path, courageousness involves advocating for peace in all things. My path is about forgiveness, peace and harmony…which I acknowledge is VERY radical. History is marked by judgment, war and taking sides, after all, near as I can tell. Given the choice between Paine or Gandhi, I choose Gandhi. It appears you choose Paine.

    P33: It’s true that we don’t have the means to actually cause the [W war-crime] trials to occur, but we also don’t have the means to make many things we wish to happen. It doesn’t stop us from saying they should.

    Me: Yes. If grandiose posturing is your thing, there’s nothing stopping you. But you have not persuaded me that such a gambit is the optimal approach to advancing liberty. You point to Nuremberg. I point to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at least to the extent that past political crimes need to be healed. I would note that the Allies, including the US, did deeply dysfunctional things that approached the acts of the Nazis (e.g., Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Dresden).

    Optically, when someone or an organization advocates something that is beyond their paygrade, they generally come across as insincere or delusional. In so doing, their credibility is damaged.

    P34: So, what about the cops who beat Rodney King? Should they have stood trial?

    Me: Yes, and they were. The riots in response to the acquittals compounded nonsense on top of nonsense.

    P36: Justice always begins with saying that justice needs to be served.

    Me: Yes, I agree, in some form. I would support a call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the issue of the Iraq War.

    P37: To ignore the elephant in the room is to tell anyone who hears our message that we don’t really mean it.

    Me: Ignoring an elephant in the room never seems wise. A room is FILLED with elephants creates an entirely different situation, IMO. I would suggest that we are confronted with this latter situation. You personally might think the “war crimes” of Compound W is the most salient elephant, others may find high taxes or occupational licensure to be the most dysfunctional elephant.

    L58: Rothbard argued that it was fine for libertarians to work for the government, but only as long as they were engaged in one of the productive (Category 1) jobs, rather than the criminal (Category 2) jobs.

    Me: Yes, Rothbard took his deontological absolutism to absurd places with great frequency. In his mind, I wonder if he felt cops and military people were “criminals” or “productive.” Playing his silly logic games, I suspect one could make either case. It reminds me of his conclusion that fetuses are parasites…again, a point that could be argued either way. In the bigger picture, I find Rothbardian ethics to be a dead-end mind-game that distracts rather than advances the cause of peace and liberty. Lines in the sand get washed away, yet MNR never seemed to get that.

  63. langa langa January 29, 2011

    RC: “Rothbard took his deontological absolutism to absurd places with great frequency. … I find Rothbardian ethics to be a dead-end mind-game that distracts rather than advances the cause of peace and liberty.”

    I suppose if you can’t refute an argument, insulting the person who made it is the next best thing.

  64. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi January 29, 2011

    l64, ok, you want a “refutation”…it’s fine for a L (or anyone) to make a living as honorably as possible. This is no such thing as a “criminal” job, only “criminal” acts. For something to be a crime requires adjudication. Otherwise, it’s an accusation or allegation, not a crime. Others can pontificate about their opinions, but they often fool themselves into believing that their opinions are truth. IMO, they are mistaken.

  65. langa langa January 29, 2011

    Legal positivism, eh? So when slavery was legal, it wasn’t really a crime?

    And are you saying that you see no problem with a libertarian choosing to work for the ATF or the DEA or the IRS?

  66. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi January 29, 2011

    l66, hmm, slavery is not virtuous, IMO. When it was legal, it was legal, so by definition, not a crime.

    I would not recommend working for those agencies, no, but then I would not recommend working for DoD, either. What others do to earn their daily bread is their business, not mine.

    I don’t find a priori rulemaking useful, especially for others. Were I in Congress, I would vote to end those agencies, though.

  67. paulie paulie January 29, 2011

    Pols have done terrible things throughout the ages. If one is in a position to “hold” them “responsible,” by all means, do so. I suggest that the LP, you and I are not is such a position. Discerning a “crime” requires an ability to prove the case. We’re not there as yet. We’re still in the “social critic” role, identifying institutional dysfunctions and offering alternative theories.

    Calling for war criminals to be brought to justice is always the first step. The means to do it may or may not come later. But how credible do advocates of liberty seem to anyone who is paying attention if we ignore the elephant dung of war crimes in the room and sweep it under the rug as we sip our tea? As for proof: see above. For legal standards of proof, that is what the trial is for.

  68. paulie paulie January 29, 2011

    P33: It’s true that we don’t have the means to actually cause the [W war-crime] trials to occur, but we also don’t have the means to make many things we wish to happen. It doesn’t stop us from saying they should.

    RC: Yes. If grandiose posturing is your thing, there’s nothing stopping you. But you have not persuaded me that such a gambit is the optimal approach to advancing liberty. You point to Nuremberg. I point to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at least to the extent that past political crimes need to be healed. I would note that the Allies, including the US, did deeply dysfunctional things that approached the acts of the Nazis (e.g., Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Dresden).

    P Redux: Valid point about the Allies. But at least they were in a war where millions of soldiers and civilians on both sides were being killed. The massive disproportionality of the current conflict was not at play. Not that it makes what they did in those instances in any way excusable.

    And I think a South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be a giant step forward as well. Of course, millions of people were not killed in South Africa – the scale of the human rights abuses was different there.

    What you are calling grandiose posturing I would consider moral duty. I’m not into grandiose posturing for its own sake, but sometimes someone has to speak up and tell the emperor he has no clothes on.

    Optically, when someone or an organization advocates something that is beyond their paygrade, they generally come across as insincere or delusional. In so doing, their credibility is damaged.

    P Redux: With some people, yes. “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” –
    — Mahatma Gandhi

  69. paulie paulie January 29, 2011

    P34: So, what about the cops who beat Rodney King? Should they have stood trial?

    RC: Yes, and they were.

    P Redux: So, we agree that those cops deserved to stand trial. Why not those government employees in uniform who have committed far more numerous and even worse crimes, and those up the chain of command that issued their orders to do so? And how does putting either type of criminal on trial imply that we have to put every government employee or people who take out government loans on trial?

    The riots in response to the acquittals compounded nonsense on top of nonsense.

    That is true as well. But I only brought up the trial in response to your point “Yes, the LP could call for impeaching BHO, and bringing Carter, the Bushes, Clinton to justice for their “crimes.” Why stop there? Every VP, every MC, every cabinet member, every employee of the FedGov, student loan users, Social Security recipients, interstate highway drivers…every one of ‘em is complicit! Let’s do our revolution right…really show the French how it’s done!”

  70. paulie paulie January 29, 2011

    P36: Justice always begins with saying that justice needs to be served.

    RC-A: Yes, I agree, in some form. I would support a call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the issue of the Iraq War.

    P37: To ignore the elephant in the room is to tell anyone who hears our message that we don’t really mean it.

    RC-B: Ignoring an elephant in the room never seems wise. A room is FILLED with elephants creates an entirely different situation, IMO. I would suggest that we are confronted with this latter situation. You personally might think the “war crimes” of Compound W is the most salient elephant, others may find high taxes or occupational licensure to be the most dysfunctional elephant.

    P Redux: War crimes are war crimes, not “war crimes.” There’s no imaginable scenario under which I can see moral equivalence between killing, raping, torturing, unjustly imprisoning, bereaving and making homeless and ill millions of innocent people and high taxes or occupational licensure, although I agree that the latter is also really, really bad. But even people who disagree about whether high taxes and occupatuional licensing are justifiable, necessary, proper or beneficial can and should agree that internationally recognized war crimes should not be ignored.

  71. paulie paulie January 29, 2011

    Rothbard took his deontological absolutism to absurd places with great frequency. In his mind, I wonder if he felt cops and military people were “criminals” or “productive.”

    Criminals. But again, I’m in no way suggesting that all cops and military personnel should be put on war crimes trials. I am only suggesting that people who can be reasonably and specifically accused of war crimes and their chain of command should be.

    And speaking of taking things to absurd places, that is what the statement “ Yes, the LP could call for impeaching BHO, and bringing Carter, the Bushes, Clinton to justice for their “crimes.” Why stop there? Every VP, every MC, every cabinet member, every employee of the FedGov, student loan users, Social Security recipients, interstate highway drivers…every one of ‘em is complicit! Let’s do our revolution right…really show the French how it’s done!” seems to me to be an example of.

  72. paulie paulie January 29, 2011

    This is no such thing as a “criminal” job, only “criminal” acts.

    Criminal acts are exactly what we are talking about here.

  73. paulie paulie January 29, 2011

    hmm, slavery is not virtuous, IMO. When it was legal, it was legal, so by definition, not a crime.

    It was a crime in the sense in which I am using crime in this discussion. That is, a crime against humanity and against its victims.

    However, if you wish to only rely on codified law, war crimes are codified in established international law, and the US is a signatory to treaties (supreme law of the land under the US Constitution) which make it binding on Americans.

  74. paulie paulie January 29, 2011

    I wonder if any candidates for the presidential nomination, or state or local LPs, will call for war crimes trials?

  75. longtime reader x-time alias longtime reader x-time alias January 30, 2011

    @48 It probably hasn’t helped our image that we ran the guy who managed the old fashioned Republican Clinton impeachment for president.

    I think you’ll find that Barr first wanted Clinton impeached before the Lewinsky issue was even known, for the China treason issue. He may have even been ahead of the LNC on that issue.

    Barr also testified at a Congressional hearing about a possible Bush impeachment… he was ahead of the LNC there too apparently.

    You should read Barr’s book that was published back in 2003 (or 2004 (when he was an independent for Badnarik)?) about how he was blunted from managing much of anything by Gingrich et al.

  76. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi January 30, 2011

    p74-75: …if you wish to only rely on codified law, war crimes are codified in established international law, and the US is a signatory to treaties (supreme law of the land under the US Constitution) which make it binding on Americans…I wonder if any candidates for the presidential nomination, or state or local LPs, will call for war crimes trials?

    me: I respect that you believe the case for a war-crimes trial is strong, perhaps even a slam dunk. I am no expert in the international law governing war crimes, but I would think that if it WERE a slam dunk, we’d be hearing more calls for such a tribunal. W was widely hated in the US and abroad. Aside from you, I don’t hear this, although it’s likely you are not the only person on Earth holding your view.

    There can be many explanations…perhaps widespread ignorance, perhaps the case is not as much of a slam dunk as you think it is, perhaps others think that technically there is a strong case, but in practice Bush and the US government would make such a prosecution impossible, etc.

    At the moment, I am unpersuaded that this issue would be a strong one for an LP candidate. It feels a bit fringy, hysterical, and backward-looking.

    While I’m a dove, I don’t see this issue as advancing the cause of non-intervention. Writing checks we can’t cash seems unwise.

  77. paulie paulie January 30, 2011

    I would think that if it WERE a slam dunk, we’d be hearing more calls for such a tribunal.

    There have already been plenty of such calls, both in and outside the US. But coming to terms with such a monstrous reality is difficult, and denial is rampant. I’m sure many world leaders fear consequences if they spoke up and called for the hyperpower’s war criminal leadership to be held accountable; in practice, that is only reserved for defeated tyrants, and in most cases relatively petty ones.

    But refer back to #20-21 and sources cited therein.

    Aside from you, I don’t hear this, although it’s likely you are not the only person on Earth holding your view.

    There are millions of people who hold my view. I meet them all the time.

    There can be many explanations…perhaps widespread ignorance,

    Yes, ignorance is indeed widespread.

    perhaps the case is not as much of a slam dunk as you think it is,

    Let’s have a trial and see.


    perhaps others think that technically there is a strong case, but in practice Bush and the US government would make such a prosecution impossible, etc.

    In the short term, they would be correct. In the long term, not necessarily.

    Smaller political parties are in a good position to call for things that are not practical yet, but might become practical down the line, thus planting the seed and helping it sprout in the public mind.

    At the moment, I am unpersuaded that this issue would be a strong one for an LP candidate.

    Hopefully, some LP candidates (perhaps Mr. Wrights, since we are commenting on his article? Others?) will see it differently. State LPs
    could pave the way as well.

    It feels a bit fringy, hysterical, and backward-looking.

    It’s not hysterical to confront the truth, even if it is so terrible and shocking that it much easier to just not think or talk about it.

    And it isn’t backward looking; the war crimes are still going on. Are prosecutions of aging nazi war criminals backward looking? If they lived freely (even of fear of prosecution) and enjoyed all the accolades of retired world leaders, would that be acceptable?

    Writing checks we can’t cash seems unwise.

    Perhaps I’m willing to extend more faith and credit to the people of America and the world, and saying we were ahead of the curve would be nice for a change. I see it as planting a seed, not as writing a check. And to the extent that the seed has already been planted I would consider it a signal that we mean what we say. People do notice that.

  78. paulie paulie January 30, 2011

    I think you’ll find that Barr first wanted Clinton impeached before the Lewinsky issue was even known, for the China treason issue. He may have even been ahead of the LNC on that issue.

    Quite possibly. But since we are talking about first impressions here, most people believe he went after WC for oral sex, even if it’s not true. And to what limited extent they might be aware that the LP called for impeachment, despite explanations to the contrary, they will still in most cases assume without checking that it was for the hummer – especially after we ran Barr for president. Most people have short attention spans.

    Barr also testified at a Congressional hearing about a possible Bush impeachment… he was ahead of the LNC there too apparently.

    You should read Barr’s book that was published back in 2003 (or 2004 (when he was an independent for Badnarik)?) about how he was blunted from managing much of anything by Gingrich et al.

    It’s too bad he didn’t push that issue as a presidential candidate. The excuse he gave me was that it was too late and Bush would be term limited out anyway. That is true, but the value in the LP calling for impeachment would have been symbolic/rhetorical, not that we would have persuaded Congress to impeach. He also could have called for war crimes trials after Bush left office.

    Obviously, that would not have played into a strategy that fudged the lines between conservatives and libertarians, and (again, in direct response to my personal question face to face), Mr. Barr’s attempt to unite those who admired him for his actual record in office with those who admired the Libertarian Party’s stances around the issues both have in common.
    In retrospect, as I expected, there was too much tension between the two.

  79. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp January 30, 2011

    Bob @ 77,

    You write:

    “I am no expert in the international law governing war crimes, but I would think that if it WERE a slam dunk, we’d be hearing more calls for such a tribunal”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “more calls.”

    As Wikileaks revealed, it was pressure from the Obama administration that apparently torpedoed an official prosecutorial investigation of several Bush administration figures in Spain.

    A prominent American prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi (best known for prosecuting the Manson “family” crimes) wrote an entire book making the case for putting Bush on trial.

    United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak has called for war crimes prosecution versus Bush.

    Complaints have been filed — and not dismissed as yet — with the International Criminal Court, and a former ICC prosecutor who worked on the case against Sudan’s dictator has opined that Bush should be next.

    The position that Bush should be prosecuted is “fringy” in the same sense that, e.g. a Palestinian state is “fringy” with the Israeli government — it’s something they don’t want to hear, not something they’re not being told.

  80. Country Crammer Country Crammer January 30, 2011

    I wonder if any candidates for the presidential nomination, or state or local LPs, will call for war crimes trials?

    That would be interesting to see.

  81. Tucson TEA Party Tucson TEA Party January 30, 2011

    War now.

    War tomorrow.

    War forever!

  82. paulie paulie January 31, 2011

    That sounded better with the original drawl.

  83. Fun K. Chicken Fun K. Chicken February 2, 2011

    Good videos, and the idea of war crimes trials for Bush-Cheney and co. is overdue.

  84. paulie paulie February 2, 2011

    Long, long overdue….

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