Where it all started

This was my first political column, written in response to the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago. It led to a regular op/ed column on WorldNetDaily, national syndication by Universal Press Syndicate, and eventually, this blog. 

Unfortunately, in the intervening time, events within the USA have gone largely as I feared they would, with the federal government using the attacks to rationalize more government violations of the unalienable rights of Americans. Even worse, the immigration crisis and the subsequent demographic corruption have combined with the expansion of central state power with the global economic depression to imperil the stability of the US as a unitary state entity. I also think it is interesting to note that even then, before I had become familiar with the concepts of 4GW and non-Trinitarian war, it was readily apparent to that conventional war would not suffice to subdue the latest wave of Islamic expansion.

Yield No More Freedom

In response to a number of questions inspired by last week’s column, we were working on a piece related to PC security, specifically the sort offered to one’s e-mail communications by various encryption technologies, when we were interrupted by the horrifying events of Tuesday. The fatal hijackings and subsequent media response has been difficult to dismiss from our mind, so we have tabled the usual technology review for a week in favor of some reflections on these recent events.

One of the many troubling aspects of the hijackings is the brutal demonstration that we, as a people, have received very little of the security we were promised in return for the many violations of personal freedom and civil liberties that have been enacted over the past decade. We would go so far as to raise the question if this had not been a fool’s bargain, wherein we have given up something of precious value in return for … arguably, nothing. It is bad enough that we allow the FBI to filter our e-mails and record our keystrokes, that we permit the National Security Agency to intercept every electronic communication floating through the aether, but it is even worse that we have done so without realizing that which we hoped to gain.

Just as the drug war has not reduced the amount of illegal drugs used in this country, the sacrifice of our civil liberties on the altar of national security has not brought us security. Keep this in mind, as the inevitable drumbeat begins for more sacrifices, as the calls begin for Americans to give up even more of their hard-won freedoms. National security cannot seriously be cited any longer in the attempts to ban personal encryption technology, not when, as WorldNetDaily reported yesterday, far better forms of communications encryption have already been delivered to terrorist-sponsoring states like Syria with the full approval of the previous administration.

It is said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, but that vigilance must be applied within as well as without. A thousand suicide bombers could not destroy America, but America is quite capable of destroying itself in the pursuit of any number of false idols, among them wrongheaded and illusory notions of security at any price. Individual privacy, like private property, is one of the foundations of our freedom, and it must not be thrown away out of fear. Anonymous cell phones or encrypted e-mail missives could be used by a terrorist, true, but the same is also true of a razor blade or a flight simulator.

What our leaders must realize is that personal technology is not a foe, but a powerful ally. The enemy we face can be subdued and contained by soldiers, bombs and a strong national will, but it cannot be ultimately defeated through conventional war. But satellite transmissions and the Internet know no borders, nor does the concept of freedom. Our enemies recognize this, which is why they fearfully denounce every sign of American influence as decadence, because they well know that they cannot raise another generation of suicide warriors if that generation is allowed to partake of the dangerous and forbidden fruit of freedom.

Some have protested that America must not strike back, that doing so will only perpetuate the “cycle of violence,” that others will only rise up to replace those we strike down. But this is demonstrably untrue, as no German ever rose up to replace Hitler, nor does a Japanese war party trouble us today. It is appropriate for a nation to fight a war in its own defense, especially when war has been openly declared upon it. But in doing so, we must resolutely resist the call to sacrifice that which makes the United States of America a country worth defending – our inalienable rights and our individual freedom.

WND column

The Return of the Great Depression

Eighty years ago this Thursday, the Great Depression began. While the great stock market crash of 1929 actually began on Oct. 24, it was the fourth day of the crash, Oct. 29, 1929, now known as Black Tuesday, that confirmed the severity of the four-day decline and alerted the world to the fact that not all was well with the U.S. economy. Those who appreciate historical rhythm will probably be aware that the most intense part of the subsequent depression was the four years from 1930 through 1933 that Milton Friedman described as the Great Contraction. Although 1929 marked the beginning of the Great Depression, it is important to understand that very few people, let alone politicians or economists, recognized at the time that what they were experiencing was the Great Depression.

WND column

End the Fed
by Ron Paul
Rating: 10 of 10

“The Federal Reserve System must be challenged. Ultimately, it needs to be eliminated. The government cannot and should not be trusted with a monopoly on money. No single institution in society should have power this immense. In fact, I believe that freedom itself is at stake in this struggle.”
– Ron Paul, “End the Fed,” p. 11

In 17 years of writing game and book reviews, I can count on two hands the number of times I have ever given out the highest rating. True excellence is to be distinguished from the merely very good, and it is far rarer than the heavy use of superlatives in our everyday language would tend to indicate. End the Fed is more than a timely political polemic, it is also the story of the long and patient campaign by a small group of freedom-loving patriots to restore economic liberty to the American people.

WND column

A Prize-winning Presidency

Unlike many right-wing commentators, I had very high hopes for the Obama administration. Whereas most conservatives were wringing their hands about how Obama was likely to destroy the economy, I was confident that Ben Bernanke already had the task well in hand. Sure enough, Obama was content to continue where George W. Bush had left off, expanding the bank bailouts and quadrupling down on the $168 billion Bush stimulus package with his own $787 billion gambit.

UPDATE: I have to admit, Tom Bemis at Marketwatch did it better:

Obama fails to win Nobel prize in economics

In a decision as shocking as Friday’s surprise peace prize win, President Obama failed to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Monday.

You know that’s the inevitable joke every time any prize is awarded anywhere over the next six months.

WND column

Ireland Surrenders Again

So, it was all for nothing. All the pain, bloodshed and sacrifice has gone for naught. The Rebellion of 1878, the Young Irelanders, the 1919 War of Independence, Sunday, bloody Sunday, the bombings in Belfast, the assassination of Lord Mountbatten, last year’s “No” vote and every other aspect of the long and bitter struggle for Irish independence was to no purpose. On Oct. 3, 2009, the voters of the Republic of Ireland threw away their hard-won sovereignty out of fear, naiveté and greed for nothing more than the deceitful promises of the Eurocrats.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has more on the debacle.

WND column

Evolution, Economics, and Evil

The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics
Michael Shermer
Rating: 7 of 10

It is no secret that I hold a rather low opinion of various books produced by a few well-known atheists. Without exception, they are riddled with factual ignorance, easily demonstrable illogic and fraudulent appeals to science. While Michael Shermer is every bit the atheist that Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins are, his scientific expertise happens to be applicable to his subject matter and his approach is entirely different. And unlike the New Atheists, Shermer makes intelligent use of both science and logic in utilizing various aspects of evolutionary theory to consider homo economicus.

By the way, something that I didn’t manage to work into the column was Shermer’s articulation of “Darwin’s Dictum”, which he developed from a letter Darwin wrote to Henry Fawcett.

“About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorize, and I well remember someone saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles and describe the colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!

Shermer writes: “This quote was the centerpiece of the first of my monthly columns for Scientific American, in which I elevated it to a principle I call “Darwin’s Dictum,” as identified in the final clause: all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service. Darwin’s Dictum encodes the philosophy of science of this book: if observations are to be of any use they must be tested against some view—a thesis, model, hypothesis, theory, or paradigm. Since the facts never just speak for themselves, they must be interpreted through the colored lenses of ideas—percepts need concepts. Science is an exquisite blend of data and theory—percepts and concepts—that together form the bedrock for the foundation of science, the greatest tool ever devised for understanding how the world works. We can no more separate our theories and concepts from our data and percepts than we can find a truly objective Archimedean point—a god’s eye view—of ourselves and our world.

I found this to be an intriguing perspective, especially in light of the vociferous claims of science’s pure objectivity made so often by those who fetishize it. It tends to raise two questions, of course. In service to what, or to whom? And by what standard are competing interpretations of the same facts to be judged?

WND column

Bernanke’s ‘Essays’

“It should also be emphasized, though, that not just the existence of financial difficulties during the 1920s but also the policy response to those difficulties was important. Austria is probably the most extreme case of nagging banking problems being repeatedly “papered over.” That country had banking problems throughout the 1920s, which were handled principally by merging failing banks into still-solvent banks. An enforced merger of the Austrian Bodencreditanstalt with two failing banks in 1927 weakened that institution, which was part of the reason that the Bodencreditanstalt in turn had to be forcibly merged with the Creditanstalt in 1929. The insolvency of the Creditanstalt, finally revealed when a director refused to sign an “optimistic” financial statement in May 1931, sparked the most intense phase of the European crisis.”

– Ben S. Bernanke, “Essays on the Great Depression,” p. 96.

One of the benefits of having an intellectual at the helm of the Federal Reserve during this ongoing economic crisis is that intellectuals tend to leave a paper trail. Bernanke, famous for being a student of the Great Depression, is without question very well-informed on the relevant historical issues. His book reveals an intelligent and scholarly mind that does not shirk from the details but, rather, leaps without hesitation into statistical analysis of the most technical economic minutiae. The book simply wallows in charts, equations and log changes; the net result is impressive, especially when compared with his predecessor’s lightweight, revisionist chronicle, “The Age of Turbulence.”