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The Triumph of Culture Over Politics: Edward Snowden and American Independence

July 2, 2013 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner


To a first approximation, American political history before the 18th century is British political history. As most American schoolchildren know, in the 17th century, John Locke crystallized the idea that human law should reflect Natural Law, but the idea that Law must serve the well-being of the people on whom it is imposed goes back at least to the Anglo-Saxons.

Since tyranny must shape to itself both the law and the political institutions of its day, it stands to reason that when a governing elite has gone too far in abusing its power, the fight back for liberty by the people at large does not start directly in the political realm or in legislation, itself.

Throughout history, changing a country’s politics and statutes has been the final goal of forceful popular attempts to contain power, but mass-refusal to accept political abuses has always begun in the culture. “Culture” is a vague term so let us define it as the sum of actions of the citizens of a country, the attitudes that drive their responses to events, their expectations of what they may do and the memories of what they, and perhaps their ancestors, have always done.

The founding of the United States is just one example of this process. In 1776 (American Independence), as in 1689 (the original Bill of Rights), 1628 (Petition of Right), 1215 (Magna Carta), and even 1014 (Anglo-Saxon Charter), freedoms that citizens already believed they had were codified and concretized to shape political institutions. And in each case, this shaping of political entities with the purpose of increasing or protecting the rights of free individuals that were already recognized in the culture has been invariably triggered by the over-reach of the country’s governing elite (or, at least, part of it).

Seen in this light, the American Revolution was not so much an American Revolution as a British evolution – another turn in the ratchet of Anglo political liberty, driven by the kind of cultural conservatism that all liberals should celebrate.

As William Pitt the Elder, statesman and former British prime minister, said as he spoke against the Stamp Act in the year of the American founding, “I rejoice that America has resisted. Three million people so dead to all feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves would have been fit instruments …read more


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July 2, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

Never has a political song over four decades old applied so well to contemporary events as the song “Monster” recorded in 1969 by the rock group Steppenwolf, best known for its anthemic hard rock masterpiece “Born to Be Wild.” The lyrics are printed below and a YouTube video that vividly illustrates their application to our current situation is here (be sure not to miss the visual references to the Fed and the fiat dollar).


(Words and music by John Kay, Jerry Edmonton, Nick St. Nicholas and Larry Byrom)

Once the religious, the hunted and weary
Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of kingdom and pope
Like good Christians, some would burn the witches
Later some got slaves to gather riches

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

And once the ties with the crown had been broken
Westward in saddle and wagon it went
And ’til the railroad linked ocean to ocean
Many the lives which had come to an end
While we bullied, stole and bought our homeland
We began the slaughter of the red man

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

The blue and gray they stomped it
They kicked it just like a dog
And when the war was over
They stuffed it just like a hog

And though the past has it’s share of injustice
Kind was the spirit in many a way
But it’s protectors and friends have been sleeping
Now it’s a monster and will not obey

The spirit was freedom and justice
And it’s keepers seem friendly and kind
It’s leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won’t pay it no mind

‘Cause the people got fat and grew lazy
Now their vote is like a meaningless joke
You know they talk about law, about order
But it’s all just an echo of what they’ve been told

‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into a noose
And it just sits there watchin’

Our cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin’ the land
The police force is …read more


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Stop using taxpayer money to aid Egypt's Morsy

July 2, 2013 in Politics & Elections

On the one-year anniversary of President Mohammed Morsy’s inauguration, tens of thousands of Egyptians marched in the streets of Cairo in an effort to remove him from office.
The Associated Press described the protesters as ‘an array of secular and liberal Egyptians, moderate Muslims, Christians – and what the opposition says is a broad sector of the general public that has turned against the Islamists.’
You would think these protesters represent an Egypt more favorable or in line with American interests. Unfortunately, our government supports the current regime of Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier this year, we sent Egypt’s government 20 F-16 fighter jets, Abrams tanks and other military aid.
I introduced an amendment that would halt the transfer of advanced weapons to Egypt. I argued that the situation in that country was too volatile and that Morsy was not someone the United States should necessarily embrace.
My amendment was defeated in the Senate, 79 to 19.
Last week, President Obama deployed more than 400 Army soldiers to Egypt as part of a nine-month ‘peacekeeping mission,’ which could include responding to protests-or even riots-led potentially by Egyptians seeking a more secular or moderate government.
Our government insists on calling Morsy an ally. Morsy, on the other hand, has called Jews ‘bloodsuckers’ and has said they are the ‘descendants of apes and pigs.’

The Obama administration announced in March that we no longer had enough money to continue giving White House tours because of the sequester. That same month, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Morsy and pledged $250 million in additional aid to Egypt.
Before America supported the Muslim Brotherhood, we supported Morsy’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. For decades, we aided the Mubarak regime to the tune of about $60 billion in total.
When Egyptians protested Mubarak in January 2011, F-16 jets were used by Mubarak to intimidate protesters. Those jets were supplied to Egypt by the United States.
When hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rallied in Tahir Square to protest three decades of martial law, Mubarak doused them with tear gas made in Pennsylvania and paid for with American taxpayer’s money.
Mubarak abused and tortured his people for decades, while we subsidized his government. As Egyptians marched in the streets to remove this dictator from power in early 2011, former Vice President Dick …read more


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A Tale of Two Economies

July 2, 2013 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn


Richard W. Rahn

Chile and Ecuador provide an almost perfect test case of competing economic visions. Back in 1980, Ecuador had a slightly higher per capita income than Chile. In the past 33 years, Ecuador has increased its real per capita income a little more than threefold, but during the same period Chile has increased its per capita income more than sixfold. Chile now has the highest per capita income in South America, and most of its citizens are now enjoying a middle-class life style. Why has Chile done so much better than Ecuador?

Chile and Ecuador are both Spanish-speaking, South American countries located on the Pacific. They have similarly sized populations (15.4 million for Ecuador, and 17.2 million for Chile). Ecuador has substantial oil reserves, and its oil accounts for more than 50 percent of the country’s export earnings. Chile has huge copper reserves which account for about 19 percent of its export earnings. Both are now functioning democracies with largely capitalistic economies. Chile, however, went through a radical, free-market reform process more than three decades ago, while Ecuador followed the more common semistatist model.

The biggest difference between the paths the two countries took was on economic freedom and the size of government. Back in 1980, Chile ranked only No. 60 in terms of economic freedom, but now it ranks as the 10th most free economy in the entire world. In contrast, Ecuador ranked a respectable No. 33 in 1980, but now has fallen to a miserable 126 rank in terms of economic freedom. While Chile has embraced the rule of law and made property rights very secure, Ecuador is still mired in corruption and suffers from uncertain property rights. President Rafael Correa of Ecuador defaulted on the country’s debt in 2008 and then did a reverse auction in 2009 to settle most of the debt issue at a heavily discounted rate, at the expense of the bondholders. As would be expected, these actions greatly reduced foreign investment into Ecuador. The Chinese are now the biggest investors in Ecuadorean government securities.

Chile has actively pursued free trade. It now has free-trade agreements with the United States and more than 60 other countries. Ecuador, by contrast, has been increasing trade restrictions. By opening its market to the world, Chile has also gained access to the major markets across the globe. This has encouraged Chilean industry to diversify, so Chile is becoming less and less dependent on copper. Ecuador, by not pursuing a policy of openness, has made itself hostage to the world oil price. Given the new hydraulic-fracturing technologies, the price of oil may well fall in real terms, which would cause great economic pain in Ecuador.

Chile has kept the size of government …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Helping Libya, Helping Syria

July 2, 2013 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The Obama administration’s decision to increase aid to the Syrian rebels, including now providing military aid, indicates that the United States is fast becoming a participant in Syria’s civil war. What is so worrisome about that trend is how much U.S. policy is evolving along lines similar to the earlier U.S.-led intervention in Libya. Before Washington goes down that path, it would be wise for officials to take a closer look at how the Libyan mission has turned out. That would be a sobering exercise, for post-Qaddafi Libya is hardly a model that any sensible policy maker should wish to repeat.

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi both deservedly acquired reputations as appallingly brutal rulers. Even if the current allegations that Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons ultimately prove unfounded, there is no question that government forces repeatedly have used conventional munitions against various targets with little regard for the impact on innocent civilians.

Before Washington goes too far down the path of becoming a participant in Syria’s civil war, it would be wise for officials to take a closer look at how the Libyan mission has turned out.”

But as in the case of Libya, the insurgents in Syria are a motley coalition ranging from pragmatic, democratic reformers to radical Islamists closely allied with Al Qaeda. U.S. officials, as well as such outspoken congressional advocates of aiding the rebels, such as senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, display supreme arrogance when they assume that Washington can direct aid to the former while keeping funds and weapons out of the hands of the latter faction. As Senator Rand Paul and other critics of assisting the rebels point out, Washington could end up strengthening terrorist elements that wish to wreak havoc on the United States.

The victorious revolutionaries in Libya, which the United States and its NATO allies assisted so decisively, rather quickly fragmented into assorted armed militias, many of whom are anything but tolerant democrats. One hardline militia in Benghazi, Ansar al-Shariah, is widely believed to have orchestrated the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate. Fighting between other militias has turned Libya into a chaotic, dysfunctional state reminiscent of Lebanon during the 1970s and early 1980s, or Afghanistan in the years immediately following the withdrawal of Soviet forces.

Indeed, the Libyan state shows multiple, worrisome signs of fragmentation. Tribal clashes in the southern part …read more

Source: OP-EDS