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Liberty and Power

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  • The Contraception Mandate

    by Lester Hunt

    So the president has put forth a "compromise" version of the H & H S decree that health insuranceproviders, including Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities to pay for all female contraceptives, (including sterilization surgery and what some people regard as abortion-inducing drugs).


  • The Fed’s Immiseration of People Who Live on Interest Earnings

    by Robert Higgs


  • “We Perpetuate War by Exalting Its Sacrifices”

    by Sheldon Richman

    Rachel Maddow is using her nightly MSNBC show to agitate for a ticker-tape parade in New York City to honor the Iraq veterans and celebrate the end of the war in that country.

    What could be more ridiculous? Has she forgotten that the invasion, war, and occupation – which laid waste to Iraq, killed over a million people, unleashed sectarian violence/cleansing, and created four million refugees – was against a country that had never threatened Americans and was based on bald-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s connection to al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks?

    What’s to celebrate? Victory? There is nothing that could be described as victory. The invasion and aggressive war guaranteed certain disgrace for the United States. But even in conventional terms, there was no victory. An authoritarian and corrupt government was left in charge -- a government that is close to Iran, which is demagogically portrayed as America’s (and Israel’s) mortal enemy. (I have no problem with the Iraq’s affinity for Iran, but America’s ruling elite can’t be thrilled about it.) The refugees have not returned to their homes. Half of them left the country. The place is a shambles.

    Again, what’s to celebrate?

  • “We Perpetuate War by Exalting Its Sacrifices”

    by Sheldon Richman

    Rachel Maddow is using her nightly MSNBC show to agitate for a ticker-tape parade in New York City to honor the Iraq veterans and celebrate the end of the war in that country.

    What could be more ridiculous? Has she forgotten that the invasion, war, and occupation – which laid waste to Iraq, killed over a million people, unleashed sectarian violence/cleansing, and created four million refugees – was against a country that had never threatened Americans and was based on bald-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s connection to al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks?

    What’s to celebrate? Victory? There is nothing that could be described as victory. The invasion and aggressive war guaranteed certain disgrace for the United States. But even in conventional terms, there was no victory. An authoritarian and corrupt government was left in charge -- a government that is close to Iran, which is demagogically portrayed as America’s (and Israel’s) mortal enemy. (I have no problem with the Iraq’s affinity for Iran, but America’s ruling elite can’t be thrilled about it.) The refugees have not returned to their homes. Half of them left the country. The place is a shambles.

    Again, what’s to celebrate?


  • Atlas Shrunk, Part 9: Atlas Shrugs Again; So Do I

    by Roderick T. Long

    It’s been announced (timed to coincide with Rand’s birthday) that part 2 of the Atlas film trilogy is going ahead.

    I wish I could be excited about this. But I found part 1 so lackluster that I haven’t even bought the dvd yet, despite having spent decades fantasising about an Atlas film. (I’ve probably missed my chance to get the now-recalled dvd box with the blurb praising “Ayn Rand’s timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice.”) Rand is such an intensely cinematic writer, and the film over and over turns away from her cinematic choices (even in cases where constraints of time and budget would have permitted following them) in favour of something less interesting.

    Still and all, I’m mildly pleased that the project will continue.


  • Iran's Nuclear Program

    by Sheldon Richman

    Iran’s Nuclear Program From Gary Sick, Iran expert (“Will Israel Really Attack Iran?”):
    [The International Atomic Energy Agency has] inspectors in all the sites where Iran is producing enriched uranium. These inspectors, who make frequent surprise visits, keep cameras in place to watch every move, and they carefully measure Iran’s input of feed stock to the centrifuges and the output of low enriched uranium, which is then placed under seal.  

  • The Atrocity of Hope, Part 19: Droning On

    by Roderick T. Long

    The politerati are all aflutter because GOP party hack Reince Priebus compared our President Incarnate to Francesco Schettino, the cruise ship captain who’s been charged with manslaughter in connection with the recent shipwreck off the coast of Italy.

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Priebus’s counterhack on the Democratic side, called it an “unbelievable comparison,” opining that “for the RNC chairman to compare the president of the United States to someone who has been charged with manslaughter shows a dramatic level of insensitivity to the families of those victims.”

    I agree. After all, Obama is guilty of actual mass murder against the civilian population of Pakistan. To compare him to someone charged with the lesser offense of manslaughter is dramatically insensitive to the families of Obama’s victims.


  • Trivializing Anti-Semitism

    by Sheldon Richman

     Glenn Greenwald has heroically exposed the latest trivialization of the charge of anti-Semitism. (His other posts are here and here.) These days one is likely to be hit with that ugly charge – or the perhaps uglier one of being a “self-hating Jew” – merely for doubting that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon or is an “existential threat” to Israel. (Guilty!)

    Needless to say, if the epithet “anti-Semite” is going to be used in such a patently ridiculous way, it will have little force when applied to the real thing. Why are the “Israel-firsters” so short-sighted?

    That term – “Israel-firster” – has drawn a good deal of attention from those who lightly throw around the anti-Semitism charge in order to silence criticism of Israel and the Israel lobby, but it’s not at the heart of the issue.


  • The Butler Did It

    by Roderick T. Long

    Josiah Warren is often called the father of American individualist anarchism. (I’m in the midst of reading Crispin Sartwell’s excellent Warren collection.) Most of Warren’s major works are relatively easy to find online; an exception is his unpublished Notebook D, edited by Ann Butler for her undergraduate thesis in 1964.


  • The Butler Did It

    by Roderick T. Long

    Josiah Warren is often called the father of American individualist anarchism. (I’m in the midst of reading Crispin Sartwell’s excellent Warren collection.) Most of Warren’s major works are relatively easy to find online; an exception is his unpublished Notebook D, edited by Ann Butler for her undergraduate thesis in 1964.


  • Nock on Moral Education

    by Sheldon Richman

    The point is that any enlargement [of the State], good or bad, reduces the scope of individual responsibility, and thus retards and cripples the education which can be a product of nothing but the free exercise of moral judgment. Like the discipline of the army, again, any such enlargement, good or bad, depraves this education into a mere routine of mechanical assent. The profound instinct against being ‘done for our own good’ . . . is wholly sound. Men are aware of the need of this moral experience as a condition of growth, and they are aware, too, that anything tending to ease it off from them, even for their own good, is to be profoundly distrusted. The practical reason for freedom, then, is that freedom seems to be the only condition under which any kind of substantial moral fibre can be developed.

    --Albert Jay Nock, “On Doing the Right Thing." 


  • The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination

    by Sheldon Richman


    Jeremy Hammond has written an excellent brief book on the origin of the strife in Palestine. This is the book (available for the Kindle) to read or recommend for anyone who wants to know what’s going on in Palestine but who isn’t prepared to spend her life reading about the matter.

    Thank you, Jeremy Hammond!  


  • There is Only One Choice Left

    by Keith Halderman

    Every four years we are told how important the upcoming election is and how its results will have far ranging consequences. Each and every individual must participate no matter how limited the choice is or how uninformed or misinformed about that choice you are. However, this year unlike years past this talk is not just media hype there is an actual choice to be made for the first time in our lives. We can choose ever increasing financially crippling debt which is systematically destroying our children’s future, perpetual warfare which harms countless lives, but does not make any of us the least bit safer and is one of the main causes of our impending total bankruptcy by voting for Barack Obama or any of the Republican candidates except Ron Paul. Or we can vote for someone who has demonstrated his belief in freedom, which already has vastly improved the lives of millions of people all over the world throughout history, many times before in both words and actions, Of course the Democrat and Republican parties and their handmaidens in the media will do everything and anything they can to stop Ron Paul from being elected because he represents the one thing they fear the most, change and the diminishment of their own personal power as a result.


  • U.S. Employment Woes Continue Despite Small Improvements

    by Robert Higgs

     After the headline rate of unemployment (U-3) reached 8.5 percent in December 2011 ( the most recent month reported), some commentators began to talk as if the employment situation is now improving rapidly. Some have gone on to suggest that those of us who have emphasized the role of regime uncertainty in retarding the current recovery are now barking up the wrong tree, if indeed we ever had a valid point. To speak of employment woes as old news, however, is highly premature.

    The Labor Department has recently made public its preliminary estimate of nonfarm employment for 2011.


  • Wise Beyond His Years

    by Sheldon Richman

    [T]he term “Israeli/Palestinian Conflict” [is] no more accurate than calling the Civil Rights Movement the “Caucasian/ African-American Conflict.” In both cases, the expression was a blatant euphemism: it gave the impression that this was a dispute among equals and that both held an equal share of the blame. However, in both, there was clearly an oppressor and an oppressed, and I felt horrified at the realization that I was by nature on the side of the oppressors. --Jesse Lieberfeld,  11th -grader in Pennysylvania  "Fighting a Forbidden Battle: How I Stopped Covering Up for a Hidden Wrong"  

  • Protect IP/SOPA Break the Internet

    by Amy H. Sturgis

    At midnight, the English language version of Wikipedia (along with reddit and a host of other sites) is going dark for 24 hours in response to SOPA and PIPA.   


  • The Mass Media: Polluters of the Human Soul?

    by Lester Hunt

    I've just re-read Ortega's Mission of the University. Interesting stuff, like everything he wrote, but the best part is the last page, which is a blistering attack on the press -- or what we today would call "the mainstream media." When his colleagues at El Sol, a paper for which he wrote, saw it, they wrote a collective editorial bashing him for it. What's most disturbing is how close to the truth it still is today -- probably much closer than it was in 1930, when he wrote it.

    Here we are in the midst of a primary election campaign, and there is a huge amount of reporting on who is going to win (though it's fairly obvious who will win), little reporting on their positions on the issues, and almost non on the issues themselves. That is exactly the sort of "inversion" Ortega talks about below.

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