Posted by Big Gav
Worldwide Sawdaust has a great cover image from American Conservative magazine depicting Rudy "War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength" Giuliani.
This is the cover from this month's American Conservative magazine. I don't share most of the magazine's views, however, I think its interesting that paleoconservatives feel this strongly against Rudy. The fact that Glen Greenwald, a major progressive voice, is writing in the same publication is indicative of the fact that the real divide when it comes to electing a president isn't about left v. right as much as it is about liberty versus authority.
Here is what Giuliani had to say about freedom in 1994: that would be one decade after 1984. This is frightening:What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.
So just remember:
FREEDOM IS ABOUT AUTHORITY
FREEDOM IS ABOUT AUTHORITY
FREEDOM IS ABOUT AUTHORITY
BTW, just remember immigrant friends: the magazine is run by Pat Buchanan. He doesn't like you much either.
The likes of Glenn Greenwald and Tom Engelhardt also appear regularly in paleo-libertarian sites like Lew Rockwell now as well - and its not a coincidence (even if far left leaning readers are probably aghast at much of the content at these sites) - the old political divide is obsolete now.
Michael Porter at The Observer has an article in a similar vein, noting the great division in politics is no longer between left and right, but rather between authority and liberty.
Propaganda is theft because it attempts to deprive people of the truth. Our sister paper, the Guardian, ran a debate on liberty, rights and privacy and in it we saw two examples of government propaganda. The first came from the Justice Minister Jack Straw, who held that New Labour had 'deepened and extended' civil liberties - yes, and I am Scary Spice. The second was from columnist Polly Toynbee, New Labour's unblushing champion, who accused people like me - actually, especially me - of being right-wingers in liberal clothing and middle-class paranoids seeking victimhood.
Neither was successful because the authors do not understand the difference between refuting an argument and rebutting it. Straw is an old fashioned statist who believes if you go on saying a lie people will eventually believe it. Toynbee is something different. One senses panic rising from the realisation that it is very hard to deny Labour's programme against liberty when most of it is on the statute book.
So she scurries around wondering how she is going to hold the line. Her first ploy was to muddy the waters by questioning what is a reasonable freedom. For instance, she presents Labour's campaign against free speech as merely anti-discrimination laws, which is nothing like the whole truth. There is, she says, a clash between the right to free speech and the right not to be abused. The point is abuse is the corollary of free speech. I would prefer everyone to be well-mannered and respectful yet I believe gays have the right to be rude about the church and the church to be rude about gays, without either running to the law.
Next step is for her to practise this free speech by referring to what she calls my paranoia. That's fine by me but I'd just point out that there is a difference between fear and paranoia, as there is between sounding the alarm and being alarmist. And again, it's not as if I, or any of the other contributors to the debate, are making this up. It is irrefutably all there in Labour's record.
The breathtaking dishonesty of her argument is to describe anyone who opposes Labour on these grounds as a being a right-winger. In our democracy liberals exist in all parties - thank God - and it is eloquent of her desperation that she seeks to portray those who stand for liberty, rights and privacy as being individualists who are seeking the aura of victimhood, which of course decrypts as privileged middle-class dilettantes. The allegation comes from the hard-line sectarian communists of my student days, and it is hardly surprising to find the same generation still at it in New Labour, yet now adding notes of vanity, self-righteousness and priggishness.
The striking thing is how few in the government and among its supporters really grasp the substance of our complaints about liberty over the last 10 years. With dismal familiarity, we watch them move hastily from the matter in hand to rattle on about social justice. The trick, you see, is to portray concerns about liberty as a luxury for the privileged classes when what really matters is poverty and inequality. She must know that there can be no social justice without liberty, and vice versa. Besides, as the gap between the rich and poor widens every day, New Labour and its cheerleaders are at risk of causing nationwide symptoms of motion sickness when they strike this particular pose.
We are all victims of Labour's authoritarian laws but often the people whose interests New Labour claims to represent are especially penalised - for instance, the defendants who are pressurised in police stations to plead guilty by video link to crimes they have not committed because there is no adequate legal representation to hand. Why doesn't Toynbee write about the measures smuggled into the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act which will combine with the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act to make it legal for bailiffs to enter someone's home and seize property on a civil order? Jack Straw's Department of Justice is currently formulating the rules that will govern the force that may be offered to single mothers, old ladies, teenagers and young children who happen to be at home when the bailiffs come. Will she be reminding us that Labour has buried 400 years of protection against this outrage?
Jack Straw's performance last week was wondrously lacking in self knowledge, or at least the elementary sense of the truth we must expect in our ministers. But then Straw was Foreign Secretary when Britain went to war in Iraq and escaped all blame. His time as Home Secretary has escaped all criticism. He was speaking when Walter Wolfgang was hauled out from the Labour conference but did not intervene. He skated from Blair to Brown and then proceeded to blame Blair's people for cash for honours and the more recent illegal donations scandal. At every opportunity it seems he disparages Blair, most recently over Blair's refusal to condemn Israel's attack on Hizbollah in Lebanon. Why didn't he protest at the time? As doubts grow about Brown going the distance, I'll give you any money there's a message at the back of Straw's mind which says: 'You might just get a crack at Number 10, Jack. Who else is there?'
His approach to Labour's programme against liberty is simply to deny that it ever existed - which is to say that water flows uphill. This is not a matter of interpretation, but calculated propaganda, and the readers knew it. In the hours following publication, he was taken apart on the Guardian's Comment is Free blog about his failure to mention such things as ID cards, the restrictions on protest and the building of the database state.
The key sentences come from a feline passage in the middle of his article. 'We have "freedoms to" do things in a free society,' he wrote, 'but "freedoms from" as well. Freedoms from fear, crime and terrorism.' It is this notion of 'freedoms from' that has enabled the attack on liberty. Because people's fears are infinite it follows that Labour's urge to legislate is inexhaustible.
The air is clearing now. Each one of us is probably more certain where we stand in the ideological divide that is opening up. Are we for the growth of state power at the expense of individual freedom, or do we believe that our democracy depends on individual freedom and an inviolate system of rights? If you agree with the following propositions you may just find yourself on the opposite side to Straw and Toynbee:
That government exists to serve and respect the people and can only do so by trusting the people; that every individual has the right to privacy and that personal information is exactly that - personal; that every individual has a right to justice - access to proper representation, to know the evidence against them, and be punished only if a normal court of law has decided the law has been broken; that every individual has the right to communicate, move about, assemble and express him or herself without the state obstructing, interfering with or monitoring those activities; that government and the state are not the same thing; that good government is only possible when these liberties are respected and government is fully accountable to the people.
Harpers has a good article on universal (and illegal, for now) surveillence in the US - "Another Milestone on the Road to Serfdom".
What Lichtblau, Risen and Shane are describing is the dawn of a new National Surveillance State in the United States, a public-private partnership. And the object of this partnership—which emerges as a criminal conspiracy, quite literally, between telecom companies and the Bush Administration—is to watch and listen to you and everything you do. Of course, they will say it’s about “terrorists,” or about “narcotics traffickers.” And indeed every authoritarian and wannabe totalitarian system from the dawn of time has cast its snooping on citizens in just these terms. No problems with the honest citizen, they say, it’s the criminals and the enemies we’re after. We need your cooperation. But the technology used makes no such distinction—it is snooping on everyone.
We learn about this mostly thanks to an engineer who saw what was happening and began to ask questions.The accusations rely in large part on the assertions of a former engineer on the project. The engineer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said in an interview that he participated in numerous discussions with N.S.A. officials about the proposal. The officials, he said, discussed ways to duplicate the Bedminster system in Maryland so the agency “could listen in” with unfettered access to communications that it believed had intelligence value and store them for later review. There was no discussion of limiting the monitoring to international communications, he said.
“At some point,” he said, “I started feeling something isn’t right.”
So the United States intelligence agencies in cahoots with major telecom providers are intercepting and reviewing your communications. This is occurring without warrants. And the legal community is in accord: it was criminal conduct. And that’s why the Bush Administration is frantically pushing right now for immunity: to ensure that its collaborators face no adverse consequences from their criminal acts. What kind of society does this sound like?
Now let’s tack on one further extremely disturbing fact. One telecom company said “no.” It was Qwest. The Qwest response to overtures was simple: “We’d love to work with you on this. But you do need to change the law so we can do it legally.” Apparently as soon as that happened, Qwest lost a series of important government contracts. And the next thing you know, the Justice Department was feverishly working on a criminal investigation looking at Qwest’s CEO on insider trading allegations—amidst very strange dealings between the Justice Department and the federal judge hearing the case. Of course, this is all the purest coincidence. Or maybe not. What kind of society does this sound like?
This is not the America we used to live in. It is not a nation that stood as a bulwark for civil liberties. It is a nation with an executive who is drunk on power. An executive who refuses to respect the legal constraints established by the Constitution, and even the criminal law.
As dawn turned to midmorning in the era of technology, thinkers agreed that the great threat facing mankind was the threat of a totalitarian rule. They saw the vision that Orwell transcribed, in which human freedom would be horribly constrained as the species assumed the role accorded to cogs in some massive machine. This was hard for Americans to envision—they were born and lived in a country that knew and seriously guarded civil liberties. But those who traveled abroad saw the evidence plainly enough, especially in the twenties and thirties, as totalitarian states rose and enslaved their peoples. Then fascism rose and fell. And after it, the efforts to build a Marxist-Leninist world imploded as well. But it’s wrong to suppose on the basis of these failed nightmare-utopias that the threat Orwell envisioned had passed. It has merely moved on, to a new form.
How would America and its market system behave in the face of such a threat? In the mind of some, like Hayek and Mises, the forces of the market would restrain an overreaching government and would serve to maximize human freedom. We needed to be on guard, of course, against the rise of monopolies and preserve the competitive edge. And we have to adhere rigorously to a principle of legality. As Mises reminds us, it is the centering of power in the hands of a few men and not in the rule of law, that presents the gravest threat to individual freedom in the market economies.
I don’t object to private businesses, including those in the telecommunications sector, cooperating with government, including the intelligence services. They should do so, of course, to promote society’s interest in collective security. But this cooperation needs to occur within the boundaries of the law, and it must respect the rights of their customers, and more broadly of the citizenry. What the Bush Administration and the telecoms did was wrong, and both should be held to account for their wrongdoing. That’s the way a state committed to the rule of law works.
The question is now before the Senate for a vote on the telecom amnesty bill. As usual, the White-Flag Democrats are abandoning opposition to the Administration’s initiative and are laying the foundation for it to be steamrolled through the Senate. Harry Reid’s conduct in particular has been reprehensible and spineless. This vote is a milestone on the road to serfdom. It’s time to put up a roadblock instead. Write or phone your senator immediately and advise them that you oppose the grant of amnesty for warrantless surveillance to telecommunications companies and that you expect them to do the same.
Bernhard at Moon Of Alabama notes that the process unfolding in the US has been "perfectly predictable".
From today's NYT we learn that at least four White House lawyers pondered the question of burning evidence of their crimes by deleting video tapes (I believe there are copies) of the CIA torture on Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri:One former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said there had been “vigorous sentiment” among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes. The former official did not specify which White House officials took this position, but he said that some believed in 2005 that any disclosure of the tapes could have been particularly damaging after revelations a year earlier of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The WH lawyers involved were Miers, Bellinger, Gonzales and Addington. Miers and Gonzales are lightweights. I don't know about Bellinger, but Addington has been the heavyweight on the team all along. Being Cheney's henchmen he explained the general overall strategy:"We're going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop."
But what if no larger force appears?
The process is well known:What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if he people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.
That text applies to torture laws, the FISA changes, the Patriot Act and the War on Iraq budgets that still fly through Congress without any significant protest.
But it was written in 1955 and is an interview with an intellectual German about the 1930s/40s. The Goebbels strategy was "push and push and push" too. Back then the larger force appeared only in a very bloody fight over Stalingrad and even after that took years to succeed.
It is the creeping process that is alarming. It is still going on, strong. Several of the last Billmon posts warned about this.
The recent offhanded use of the words "bureau procedures" by the veteran reporter Walter Pincus to describe serious enacted laws really set off my alarm bells.
The creeping slime has seeped into the better folks minds. UESLA goes from there:This is a difficult phase during our nation's rise to imperial glory. The transition from the rule of law to the rule of Strong Men requires, at times, the utmost patience from true patriots.
It is not something that happens overnight, although it will seem like that when it finally blossoms into full view.
Although done without fanfare, it is an absolutely vital step to refer to laws prohibiting torture as mere procedures. It is masterful. It is well over 51% of the victory, for it quietly and adroitly hollows out those laws. They no longer quite apply, and laws that no longer quite apply -- quite effectively no longer exist.
There are dumb laws in every State of the Union forbidding various things like eating ice cream on Sunday, using elephants to plow cotton fields, or keeping horses indoors. No one pays any attention to them, other than to chuckle over their inanity. Laws against torture, and treaties banning torture, are relentlessly joining this list.
Now that the restraints against torture have been effectively removed, the next steps will be easy. In the coming few years, this Mueller fellow will eventually be replaced with someone who is not hampered by regard for defunct laws, who can rule his domain within the empire by fiat and decree.
The same process is taking place in every domain of government. Inch by inch, decrepit laws like habeas corpus and quaint concepts like freedom of speech, honest elections, freedom of movement and assembly, and personal privacy become first hollow procedures, then dumb laws, and finally treason. In the vacuum left when laws become dumb, only Strong Men can hold society together.
America set out on this course many long years ago, with the birth of the National Security State after Dubya Dubya Two. We are approaching the flowering time.
The true nature of the Unitary Executive is the Führer Prinzip, rule by a hierarchy of Strong Men, each ruling their domain with absolute authority. This is precisely the slippery slope of legalized gangsterism rising in America, blithely overlooked by its consumers, the majority of whom still believe they live in a free society.
They don't. They have built their own prison, and elected their own jailers. They are living in a nation of hollow laws, a nation of procedures on their way to becoming dumb laws left on the books only for comic effect. Mute laws, stupid laws, quaint laws for the era before empire, for the era before Strong Men.
The Unitary Executive is rule by thuggery, by fiat, and by raw power. But it is not the cause of America's fall. No, it is the last symptom of America's internal rot, of the merger of unchecked corporate and institutional power with the institution of government itself. The businessman, the soldier, the priest, and the politician are standing forth now as the Strong Men who will ultimately save the nation from dumb laws like that "goddammed piece of paper" the Constitution.
The American populace made room for Strong Men by neglecting the duties of citizenship in favor of life as consumers. They made Strong Men necessary by letting crooks run the banks and towers of corporate power, and shysters write the laws. They demand Strong Men and Messiahs on every hand now to extricate themselves from the consequences of living beyond their means, beyond restraint, beyond moderation or common sense.
Just as they want a Messiah to rescue them from death itself, they want a Strong Man to rescue them from the rigors of citizenship, from the demanding duties of managing the nation. They habitually turn to boundless consumption, constant entertainment, and self congratulation instead, letting whomever promises more of all this to run the country, write the laws, and rule the airwaves.
In such a setting, reality becomes what you wish it to be.
The result is the largest pool of debt in human history, a bankrupt nation currently masquerading as the largest economy in the world. All hollowed out, all ruled by gangsters, by men above the law. The result is that the great American consumer party is over, and the result will be the American Reich, as Americans demand Strong Men to save them from consequences.
All perfectly predictable.
* The Times - The torture tape fingering Bush as a war criminal
* Ars Technica - Australia's controversial national ID program hits the dumpster. Well done to Rudd on this one.
* Huffington Post - Yes, Virginia, There is a War on Terror
* Reason - Romney, Torture, and Teens
And to close, here's Pro Libertate on the recent flap about the New York Times and others smearing Ron Paul again - " Ron Paul: The Smearbund Hates What It Can't Control and Doesn't Understand". It has a great photo of Rudy in drag...
The proverbial “Hand” that manipulates public opinion may be invisible, but it is readily detected by those who consume the news with any degree of critical intelligence. The Invisible Hand has rarely been less subtle than it's been during the past several days when it has summoned into existence a classic hate campaign against Ron Paul. The Hand has assumed a very familiar configuration – a pointing finger of spurious accusation at the end of a limp wrist.
In using the term “Invisible Hand” I do not mean that we are seeing the product of a highly organized conspiracy, with dozens or hundreds of people working with Jesuitical guile and Prussian efficiency. It is most likely a “conspiracy” in the precise etymological sense of the expression – a large group of people “breathing together,” or sharing the same inspiration.
It is certainly possible that “Mordor sent out the memo the libel Ron Paul,” in the words of the somewhat (but not entirely facetious) comment by the estimable Lew Rockwell. But whether or not a specific directive was handed down, it's certain that there has been a distinct change in the direction of the prevailing suck-up wind. Pundits, power brokers, and blogosphere second-handers know that in order to cultivate the favor of an alarmed but potent Power Elite it's necessary to join in the unfolding smear of Ron Paul. The result has been a torrential outpouring of unfiltered ... well, in the interests of decorum, suffice it to say that it's been a real colon-full.
The currency of this smear is the language of guilty insinuation, denominated in hints, winks, smirks, and “I'm-just-passing-this-along” deniable libels. None of the people giving circulation to the charge that Dr. Paul is somehow “linked” to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups appears to believe that Paul himself harbors such views or impulses. This includes Don Black and others of that persuasion who are, as my perceptive friend Tom Eddlem points out, most likely looking for the free publicity they've obtained from Paul's detractors. (There is, as I've noted, an imperceptibly small chance that the Stormfront set might convert to libertarianism,which would require a complete re-examination of their premises.)
The first to put a whetted finger to the suck-up wind, and the source of some of the seminal smears against Ron Paul, was Eric Dondero, a former staff aide to Paul who has announced his intention to run for Paul's congressional seat. ...
But Dondero's soi-disant “mainstream libertarianism” makes generous allowance for imperial militarism: Like a number of celebrity libertarians, Donadero seems to believe that it's possible to have minimalist government at home while following a foreign policy of endless and unlimited interventionism. Or it's possible that he doesn't care at all about intellectual consistency, and he's just in the habit of spitting out words to watch them splatter.
Dondero announced his desire to unseat Dr. Paul following the now-famous confrontation between the good Doctor and the Demented Rudy Giuliani over the origins of the 9-11 attack.
“I have spent the early morning scanning the major political blogs, and news sites,” wrote Dondero on RedState.com, which is sort of a cyber-Volkischer Beobachter for Red State Fascists. “It's unanimous," declared Dondero after a small poll of people who agree with him. "Ron Paul got slammed by Rudy Giuliani last night for suggesting that we - the United States of America - are to blame for the attacks on 9/11. He even had the audacity to cite Osama bin Laden.”
One of the basic understandings shared by all libertarians is that the people of our country, and the government ruling us, are not identical, and our interests very rarely – if ever – coincide. Ron Paul has underscored that principle by pointing out that the attack on innocent Americans that took place on 9-11 was in large measure “blowback” from Washington's decades of foreign adventurism.
Although it requires a certain kind of dogmatic ignorance to do so, I can imagine how someone of a certain political bent could regard the government to be completely blameless in its foreign policy, and insist that its actions abroad have no material connection to 9-11. A person of that sort, however, couldn't honestly call himself a libertarian.
Dondero, it should be noted, wrote in the immediate aftermath of the first debate, in apparent anticipation that the machinery of mass conformity would make quick work of Dr. Paul. He described the exchange as “a horrible moment for Ron Paul. My former boss looked like a complete nutcase. He looked frail. His hands shaked [sic]. He showed his age. He was completely unprepared for Giuliani's romping response.”
Well.... not exactly. More than half a year later it's clear that Dr. Paul – whose demeanor was actually quite composed, and who made his points with plangent conviction – impressed millions of Americans (and millions more abroad) by the courage and decency he displayed in that exchange. He has become an increasingly effective spokesman of truths largely unspoken – about the Constitution, about the Federal Reserve, about our impending descent into bankruptcy and ruin.