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To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality

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Our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Facebook's Fake Money

Facebook's Fake Money

Starting in 2020, Facebook wants to offer its customers a global high-tech currency and infrastructure. The US IT giant says that this will provide many people around the world with easy and cost-effective access to the monetary and financial system. The new blockchain-based money is called “Libra.” Technically, it is something akin to a crypto-money-banknote covered by a basket of official fiat currencies (such as US dollars, euros, and the like). The heart of the Libra project is the “Libra Association” (LA). The non-governmental association, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is supported by founding members such as eBay, Facebook, Mastercard, PayPal, Spotify, Uber, Visa, as well as other renowned firms, and will be responsible for the operation and further development of Libra.

Libra will be created by participants depositing fiat currencies such as US dollars or euros with the LA, and the LA will then grant the depositors a corresponding Libra amount in a digital wallet, which can be used for payments via the Internet, smartphone, credit card or WhatsApp and messengers, i.e., Facebook’s chat services. The chances of success seem to be pretty good for the Libra: Electronic payment is a world-wide mega-trend. People seem to have become increasingly open to new technological ways of making payments. And if money can be sent to and fro via social media, many potential customers will presumably like it very much.

Traditional banks have good reasons to worry. The Libra is about to siphon transactions out of bank accounts and put them into the LA’s hands. Not banks, but the LA will collect the fees and will receive precious data on who pays what, when, and where. The banks will be left even more in the cold should customers begin to use the Libra for savings purposes as well. Because then they would also lose the time and savings deposits with which they refinance their balance sheets at low costs. Or think of the credit business: The LA may at some point also provide its customers with short-term consumer loans.
In any case, from a customers’ perspective it is a good thing if and when the competitive pressure in the banking business gains momentum; as is well known, competition stimulates the search for better products and lower prices, which benefits the customers. The now heightened competition from the fin-tech industry is undoubtedly quite a challenge for many banks. Not least because for decades state regulation has kept unwelcome outside competition from their backs, thereby, however, weakening their innovative strength. But our sympathies have to be first and foremost with the people demanding banking and financial services, not with the banks delivering them.

The critical question, however, is this: Is the Libra really good — or sound — money? Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered in the affirmative. The reason is this: The quality of the Libra depends on the quality of the underlying fiat currencies — and fiat currencies do not make for good money, as should be well known by now. Fiat currencies are inflationary; they enrich some at the expense of many others. The issuance of fiat currencies causes distortions in the credit markets, which provokes speculative bubbles and triggers booms and busts, and last but not least, fiat currencies lead the economies into over-indebtedness.

Against this backdrop, it becomes evident that the Libra will suffer from all the economic and ethical deficiencies that come with its underlying fiat currencies. For instance, the Libra will be inflationary money to the extent that the US dollar, the euro, and all the other underlying fiat currencies are subject to inflationary measures by central banks, resulting in the Libra losing its purchasing power in step with the fiat currencies. In extreme cases, if the official currencies were to go under, the Libra would follow suit. The Libra is, therefore, not a real alternative to official fiat currencies, but rather a more straightforward and more cost-efficient way to use them.

The LA is supposed to keep the fiat monies paid-in by customers as a “reserve.” This should make sure that the Libra can, at any given point in time, be exchanged back into national fiat currencies at its equivalent value. To this end, the LA wants to hold the reserve in fiat currencies-denominated bank deposits as well as in high-quality interest-bearing securities. To the extent that the LA decides to keep debt securities, the result would be a kind of “fractional reserve.” In this case the Libra would even carry a payment default risk — which would strike if and when the LA could not, due to market stress, for example, exchange its bond holdings into fiat currencies at face value.

With the investment of the reserve, the LA hopes to earn interest income. But this is likely to be difficult. After all, central banks have slashed interest rates to extremely low levels, and there is no sign of a move away from this kind of monetary policy. Should monetary authorities impose negative interest rates on bank deposits, this would affect Libra holders directly: Because if the LA is forced to pay for its bank deposits, the owners of the Libra will have to pay the bill. So anyone who thinks that the Libra might offer an escape from the bad fiat currencies is mistaken. The Libra is a fiat money clone; just like fiat currencies the Libra is fake money.

Unfortunately, the Libra project does not appear to be driven by the desire to provide the people in this world with better money. The fact that the Libra will be run on a private (“permissioned”) blockchain does not change anything. The Libra is just the upshot of an entrepreneurial attempt to profit from the global market for payment services (and later perhaps also from the credit markets), and, of course, to collect as much precious transaction data as possible. If Facebook and the others wanted to offer the world a better, actual good money, the choice is obvious: It would be a 100 percent gold-backed Libra. But who knows: Maybe this will be the next step, initiated by Facebook, Amazon, or any other company because there sure is a vast market for sound money out there.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.


By Thorsten Polleit

Facebook's Fake Money

Starting in 2020, Facebook wants to offer its customers a global high-tech currency and infrastructure. The US IT giant says that this will provide many people around the world with easy and cost-effective access to the monetary and financial system. The new blockchain-based money is called “Libra.” Technically, it is something akin to a crypto-money-banknote covered by a basket of official fiat currencies (such as US dollars, euros, and the like). The heart of the Libra project is the “Libra Association” (LA). The non-governmental association, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is supported by founding members such as eBay, Facebook, Mastercard, PayPal, Spotify, Uber, Visa, as well as other renowned firms, and will be responsible for the operation and further development of Libra.

Libra will be created by participants depositing fiat currencies such as US dollars or euros with the LA, and the LA will then grant the depositors a corresponding Libra amount in a digital wallet, which can be used for payments via the Internet, smartphone, credit card or WhatsApp and messengers, i.e., Facebook’s chat services. The chances of success seem to be pretty good for the Libra: Electronic payment is a world-wide mega-trend. People seem to have become increasingly open to new technological ways of making payments. And if money can be sent to and fro via social media, many potential customers will presumably like it very much.

Traditional banks have good reasons to worry. The Libra is about to siphon transactions out of bank accounts and put them into the LA’s hands. Not banks, but the LA will collect the fees and will receive precious data on who pays what, when, and where. The banks will be left even more in the cold should customers begin to use the Libra for savings purposes as well. Because then they would also lose the time and savings deposits with which they refinance their balance sheets at low costs. Or think of the credit business: The LA may at some point also provide its customers with short-term consumer loans.
In any case, from a customers’ perspective it is a good thing if and when the competitive pressure in the banking business gains momentum; as is well known, competition stimulates the search for better products and lower prices, which benefits the customers. The now heightened competition from the fin-tech industry is undoubtedly quite a challenge for many banks. Not least because for decades state regulation has kept unwelcome outside competition from their backs, thereby, however, weakening their innovative strength. But our sympathies have to be first and foremost with the people demanding banking and financial services, not with the banks delivering them.

The critical question, however, is this: Is the Libra really good — or sound — money? Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered in the affirmative. The reason is this: The quality of the Libra depends on the quality of the underlying fiat currencies — and fiat currencies do not make for good money, as should be well known by now. Fiat currencies are inflationary; they enrich some at the expense of many others. The issuance of fiat currencies causes distortions in the credit markets, which provokes speculative bubbles and triggers booms and busts, and last but not least, fiat currencies lead the economies into over-indebtedness.

Against this backdrop, it becomes evident that the Libra will suffer from all the economic and ethical deficiencies that come with its underlying fiat currencies. For instance, the Libra will be inflationary money to the extent that the US dollar, the euro, and all the other underlying fiat currencies are subject to inflationary measures by central banks, resulting in the Libra losing its purchasing power in step with the fiat currencies. In extreme cases, if the official currencies were to go under, the Libra would follow suit. The Libra is, therefore, not a real alternative to official fiat currencies, but rather a more straightforward and more cost-efficient way to use them.

The LA is supposed to keep the fiat monies paid-in by customers as a “reserve.” This should make sure that the Libra can, at any given point in time, be exchanged back into national fiat currencies at its equivalent value. To this end, the LA wants to hold the reserve in fiat currencies-denominated bank deposits as well as in high-quality interest-bearing securities. To the extent that the LA decides to keep debt securities, the result would be a kind of “fractional reserve.” In this case the Libra would even carry a payment default risk — which would strike if and when the LA could not, due to market stress, for example, exchange its bond holdings into fiat currencies at face value.

With the investment of the reserve, the LA hopes to earn interest income. But this is likely to be difficult. After all, central banks have slashed interest rates to extremely low levels, and there is no sign of a move away from this kind of monetary policy. Should monetary authorities impose negative interest rates on bank deposits, this would affect Libra holders directly: Because if the LA is forced to pay for its bank deposits, the owners of the Libra will have to pay the bill. So anyone who thinks that the Libra might offer an escape from the bad fiat currencies is mistaken. The Libra is a fiat money clone; just like fiat currencies the Libra is fake money.

Unfortunately, the Libra project does not appear to be driven by the desire to provide the people in this world with better money. The fact that the Libra will be run on a private (“permissioned”) blockchain does not change anything. The Libra is just the upshot of an entrepreneurial attempt to profit from the global market for payment services (and later perhaps also from the credit markets), and, of course, to collect as much precious transaction data as possible. If Facebook and the others wanted to offer the world a better, actual good money, the choice is obvious: It would be a 100 percent gold-backed Libra. But who knows: Maybe this will be the next step, initiated by Facebook, Amazon, or any other company because there sure is a vast market for sound money out there.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.


By Thorsten Polleit


Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Limits of Free Speech


The Limits of Free Speech

During the past week, President Donald Trump excited two bitter public controversies by sending and publishing two highly inappropriate and offensively incendiary tweets.

The first of these was aimed at four female members of Congress — each a person of color, and, as members of Congress, each an American citizen. Yet the president said they should go back to the countries from which they came. The second tweet was aimed at Google, which the president argued should be investigated for treason.

The first of these tweets was xenophobic, racist and hateful; the second was just plain ignorant. Together they revealed a level of misguided thinking not heard from the Oval Office since President Richard Nixon’s tapes were revealed.

Here is the backstory.
For months, four very liberal and highly progressive Democratic members of the House of Representatives — known in the media collectively as “the Squad” — have been taunting Trump over their vast ideological differences. The Squad has also argued that Trump is unfit for office and ought to be removed via impeachment.

As well, the Squad has taunted its leader — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The speaker has wisely distanced herself and the vast majority of House Democrats from the Squad, and she has not taken their bait.

The president, on the other hand, has taken their bait and attacked them personally. The Squad has views of American domestic and foreign policy seriously at odds with even the liberal base of the Democratic Party — hence Pelosi’s occasional public but gentle chastisements.

Pelosi understands that while these congresswomen have every right to advocate for whatever cause they wish, some of their advocacy, if attributed to the national Democratic Party, could enhance the chances of a Republican victory in 2020.

So, when Trump attacked the individual members of the Squad based on immutable characteristics — race, gender, place of origin — he succeeded in doing what no Democratic presidential candidate has been able to do thus far. He united the Democratic Party around an issue and against himself.

Politics is not beanbag; but if the great painful lesson of American history has taught us anything, it is that there is no place in our public discourse for racial hatred. The Democrats know this. The president apparently doesn’t.

It gets worse.

Now, the House Democrats want to add fuel to this fire by using the power of office to censure the president because of his tweets about the Squad. They have no business doing so. The president’s words — backed up by his incessant repetitions — are condemnable, but they are only words. As Thomas Jefferson once argued, mere words “neither pick my pocket nor break my leg.”

Congress was elected to write laws pursuant to the Constitution. It was not elected to isolate words its members hate and fear and then condemn the speaker of those words.

British parliaments did that to political opponents — domestic and colonial — and our Constitution was written by many who had been the target of parliamentary condemnations and who labored mightily in writing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights so that such events would not happen here.

It gets worse still.

Perhaps to deflect the nation’s attention from his vile intemperance about the Squad, the president tweeted earlier this week — solely on the basis of an unfounded allegation by a high-tech supporter of his — that Google has sold technology to the government of China, and so Google should be investigated by the Department of Justice for treason. Such an absurd and ignorant statement would flunk a high school social studies test.

Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution. This, too, like the primacy of the freedom of speech, was essentially the colonists ensuring their experience with British kings’ baseless use of “treason” to justify horrific and bloody acts would not happen again

The constitutional definition states that treason shall consist only in waging war against the United States or in providing aid and comfort to its enemies. The actual phrase in the Constitution is “their enemies,” referring collectively to the states.

The courts have defined enemy — or enemies — as any country or group on which the United States has declared war. Moreover, since only an American citizen can be charged with treason — its essence is a violent rejection of citizenship — it is ridiculous and reckless to suggest that a corporation could.

Where does all this leave us?

We have a president who sounds more like a Mafia don than a statesman and a Congress that wants to pick and choose whose offensive words to condemn. Yet even a condemnation of Trump by the House alone — the Senate seems to work for him — would be legally meaningless and also just words.

Any person faithful to the Constitution should disagree with all these words — the president’s words and the censuring congressional words. But like Voltaire, a patriot will defend to the death the right to utter them.

In America, we don’t punish mere words and there are no limits on public free speech — “free” meaning free from government interference.

The whole purpose of the First Amendment command that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” is to encourage and provoke open, wide, robust, unbridled public utterances about the government and those in it, without fear of any governmental consequences.

Our forebears fought a revolution against a king to assure posterity of that.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.






Trashing the Constitution Again
While the eyes of the political and media classes were on President Donald Trump as he commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day in the United Kingdom and in France last week, and then as we all watched for progress in the tariff war Trump started with Mexico, the Department of Justice was quietly trying to persuade a federal judge in Chicago to abandon first principles with respect to citizenship and sentencing.

The DOJ filed a motion asking a federal judge to strip the American citizenship of one Iyman Faris. Faris, who was born in Pakistan, has been a naturalized American citizen since 1994. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. His fellow “conspirators” were FBI agents pretending to be foreign and domestic terrorists willing to work with him.

In other words, there was no real conspiracy. Yet federal prosecutors persuaded Faris and his lawyers that if the surveillance tapes the FBI made of Faris were shown to a jury, they would likely help produce a guilty verdict.
Faris’ case was one of many in the months immediately following the tragedy of 9/11 in which federal agents found vulnerable loners in the United States with Middle Eastern-sounding last names and seduced them into nonexistent plots. Stated differently, the feds created false crimes and then solved them.

If you believe — as Anglo-American jurisprudence taught for 600 years — that crime is harm, then Faris, who caused no harm, is no criminal. He is the victim of similar FBI tactics as those used on candidate Trump in 2015 and 2016.

If you believe that articulating thoughts about committing a crime, thoughts generated by FBI agents who tricked him into believing that they shared those thoughts — as modern-day Anglo-American jurisprudence teaches is criminal — then Faris is guilty of conspiracy to commit acts of terror.

I have argued for years that the government ought not to be in the business of creating crime just to get those it hates and fears off the street. My argument has occasionally received some resonance, but the government continues on this perilous path. Nevertheless, 18 years after Faris’ guilty plea, we are beyond the issue of whether Faris is actually guilty of a crime. We are now confronted with the unthinkable issue of whether he can be punished for a crime that has not yet occurred.

Faris’ 20-year sentence is now nearly complete, since today one ordinarily serves 85% of one’s incarceration in the federal system. Yet the same feds who concocted his so-called crime have now argued to a federal judge that Faris should be stripped of his American citizenship and deported or — worse yet — kept in prison indefinitely, even though he will soon have served his full sentence.

Can the government get away with this?

The short answer: No. The longer answer is that the Trump DOJ, which should be wary of the dangers of false crimes and cutting constitutional corners, has abandoned its professed fidelity to first principles.

What are those principles? This is virgin and dangerous ground that the Trump administration seeks to walk upon. Under current law, one can only lose naturalized citizenship by either the voluntary, knowing, explicit and intentional renunciation of it or by the government proving the existence of knowing and intentional fraud perpetrated upon the government in order to obtain the citizenship.

These naturalized citizenship first principles were reinforced by the Supreme Court as recently as 2017, in a case the feds chose not to address when they made their application for stripping Faris of his citizenship or holding him beyond the duration of his sentence.

There is simply no statute that permits the removal of citizenship out of fear of future harm or for behavior that occurred after the citizenship was granted, and the DOJ knows that. Nor is there any statute that permits incarceration beyond the time sentenced once the sentence has been served. Congress could certainly provide by statute for the removal of citizenship and deportation of foreign-born persons convicted of certain crimes, but such provisions could only apply to crimes committed after Congress expressly provided for the punishments as penalties upon conviction.

As well, the government cannot ask a judge to enhance the penalty for a crime after the crime was committed, without violating due process. And the executive branch cannot on its own constitutionally enhance or threaten to enhance a penalty at any time or for any reason.

Under the doctrine of the separation of powers — which is integral to the Constitution — only Congress can prescribe penalties for violations of federal law, not the executive or judicial branches.
And under basic principles of due process in America, people are not punished because of what the government fears they might do. They may only be constitutionally punished for crimes for which they have lawfully been convicted — once real crimes, but in post-9/11 Orwellian America, regrettably, false crimes as well.

The United States was born as an act of violent political secession from Great Britain. That violence commenced in full after Thomas Jefferson articulated in the Declaration of Independence not only that our rights to due process are natural — he called them “inalienable” — but also that the colonists had had enough of being charged by the Crown for “pretended offenses” that were “foreign to our Constitution.”

The day we move to punish people — citizens or not — because of what the government fears they might do is the day all liberty will be lost. And the day the government punishes not in accordance with the law is the day for abolishing the government.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

By Andrew P. Napolitano

The Limits of Free Speech

During the past week, President Donald Trump excited two bitter public controversies by sending and publishing two highly inappropriate and offensively incendiary tweets.

The first of these was aimed at four female members of Congress — each a person of color, and, as members of Congress, each an American citizen. Yet the president said they should go back to the countries from which they came. The second tweet was aimed at Google, which the president argued should be investigated for treason.

The first of these tweets was xenophobic, racist and hateful; the second was just plain ignorant. Together they revealed a level of misguided thinking not heard from the Oval Office since President Richard Nixon’s tapes were revealed.

Here is the backstory.
For months, four very liberal and highly progressive Democratic members of the House of Representatives — known in the media collectively as “the Squad” — have been taunting Trump over their vast ideological differences. The Squad has also argued that Trump is unfit for office and ought to be removed via impeachment.

As well, the Squad has taunted its leader — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The speaker has wisely distanced herself and the vast majority of House Democrats from the Squad, and she has not taken their bait.

The president, on the other hand, has taken their bait and attacked them personally. The Squad has views of American domestic and foreign policy seriously at odds with even the liberal base of the Democratic Party — hence Pelosi’s occasional public but gentle chastisements.

Pelosi understands that while these congresswomen have every right to advocate for whatever cause they wish, some of their advocacy, if attributed to the national Democratic Party, could enhance the chances of a Republican victory in 2020.

So, when Trump attacked the individual members of the Squad based on immutable characteristics — race, gender, place of origin — he succeeded in doing what no Democratic presidential candidate has been able to do thus far. He united the Democratic Party around an issue and against himself.

Politics is not beanbag; but if the great painful lesson of American history has taught us anything, it is that there is no place in our public discourse for racial hatred. The Democrats know this. The president apparently doesn’t.

It gets worse.

Now, the House Democrats want to add fuel to this fire by using the power of office to censure the president because of his tweets about the Squad. They have no business doing so. The president’s words — backed up by his incessant repetitions — are condemnable, but they are only words. As Thomas Jefferson once argued, mere words “neither pick my pocket nor break my leg.”

Congress was elected to write laws pursuant to the Constitution. It was not elected to isolate words its members hate and fear and then condemn the speaker of those words.

British parliaments did that to political opponents — domestic and colonial — and our Constitution was written by many who had been the target of parliamentary condemnations and who labored mightily in writing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights so that such events would not happen here.

It gets worse still.

Perhaps to deflect the nation’s attention from his vile intemperance about the Squad, the president tweeted earlier this week — solely on the basis of an unfounded allegation by a high-tech supporter of his — that Google has sold technology to the government of China, and so Google should be investigated by the Department of Justice for treason. Such an absurd and ignorant statement would flunk a high school social studies test.

Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution. This, too, like the primacy of the freedom of speech, was essentially the colonists ensuring their experience with British kings’ baseless use of “treason” to justify horrific and bloody acts would not happen again

The constitutional definition states that treason shall consist only in waging war against the United States or in providing aid and comfort to its enemies. The actual phrase in the Constitution is “their enemies,” referring collectively to the states.

The courts have defined enemy — or enemies — as any country or group on which the United States has declared war. Moreover, since only an American citizen can be charged with treason — its essence is a violent rejection of citizenship — it is ridiculous and reckless to suggest that a corporation could.

Where does all this leave us?

We have a president who sounds more like a Mafia don than a statesman and a Congress that wants to pick and choose whose offensive words to condemn. Yet even a condemnation of Trump by the House alone — the Senate seems to work for him — would be legally meaningless and also just words.

Any person faithful to the Constitution should disagree with all these words — the president’s words and the censuring congressional words. But like Voltaire, a patriot will defend to the death the right to utter them.

In America, we don’t punish mere words and there are no limits on public free speech — “free” meaning free from government interference.

The whole purpose of the First Amendment command that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” is to encourage and provoke open, wide, robust, unbridled public utterances about the government and those in it, without fear of any governmental consequences.

Our forebears fought a revolution against a king to assure posterity of that.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.






Trashing the Constitution Again
While the eyes of the political and media classes were on President Donald Trump as he commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day in the United Kingdom and in France last week, and then as we all watched for progress in the tariff war Trump started with Mexico, the Department of Justice was quietly trying to persuade a federal judge in Chicago to abandon first principles with respect to citizenship and sentencing.

The DOJ filed a motion asking a federal judge to strip the American citizenship of one Iyman Faris. Faris, who was born in Pakistan, has been a naturalized American citizen since 1994. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. His fellow “conspirators” were FBI agents pretending to be foreign and domestic terrorists willing to work with him.

In other words, there was no real conspiracy. Yet federal prosecutors persuaded Faris and his lawyers that if the surveillance tapes the FBI made of Faris were shown to a jury, they would likely help produce a guilty verdict.
Faris’ case was one of many in the months immediately following the tragedy of 9/11 in which federal agents found vulnerable loners in the United States with Middle Eastern-sounding last names and seduced them into nonexistent plots. Stated differently, the feds created false crimes and then solved them.

If you believe — as Anglo-American jurisprudence taught for 600 years — that crime is harm, then Faris, who caused no harm, is no criminal. He is the victim of similar FBI tactics as those used on candidate Trump in 2015 and 2016.

If you believe that articulating thoughts about committing a crime, thoughts generated by FBI agents who tricked him into believing that they shared those thoughts — as modern-day Anglo-American jurisprudence teaches is criminal — then Faris is guilty of conspiracy to commit acts of terror.

I have argued for years that the government ought not to be in the business of creating crime just to get those it hates and fears off the street. My argument has occasionally received some resonance, but the government continues on this perilous path. Nevertheless, 18 years after Faris’ guilty plea, we are beyond the issue of whether Faris is actually guilty of a crime. We are now confronted with the unthinkable issue of whether he can be punished for a crime that has not yet occurred.

Faris’ 20-year sentence is now nearly complete, since today one ordinarily serves 85% of one’s incarceration in the federal system. Yet the same feds who concocted his so-called crime have now argued to a federal judge that Faris should be stripped of his American citizenship and deported or — worse yet — kept in prison indefinitely, even though he will soon have served his full sentence.

Can the government get away with this?

The short answer: No. The longer answer is that the Trump DOJ, which should be wary of the dangers of false crimes and cutting constitutional corners, has abandoned its professed fidelity to first principles.

What are those principles? This is virgin and dangerous ground that the Trump administration seeks to walk upon. Under current law, one can only lose naturalized citizenship by either the voluntary, knowing, explicit and intentional renunciation of it or by the government proving the existence of knowing and intentional fraud perpetrated upon the government in order to obtain the citizenship.

These naturalized citizenship first principles were reinforced by the Supreme Court as recently as 2017, in a case the feds chose not to address when they made their application for stripping Faris of his citizenship or holding him beyond the duration of his sentence.

There is simply no statute that permits the removal of citizenship out of fear of future harm or for behavior that occurred after the citizenship was granted, and the DOJ knows that. Nor is there any statute that permits incarceration beyond the time sentenced once the sentence has been served. Congress could certainly provide by statute for the removal of citizenship and deportation of foreign-born persons convicted of certain crimes, but such provisions could only apply to crimes committed after Congress expressly provided for the punishments as penalties upon conviction.

As well, the government cannot ask a judge to enhance the penalty for a crime after the crime was committed, without violating due process. And the executive branch cannot on its own constitutionally enhance or threaten to enhance a penalty at any time or for any reason.

Under the doctrine of the separation of powers — which is integral to the Constitution — only Congress can prescribe penalties for violations of federal law, not the executive or judicial branches.
And under basic principles of due process in America, people are not punished because of what the government fears they might do. They may only be constitutionally punished for crimes for which they have lawfully been convicted — once real crimes, but in post-9/11 Orwellian America, regrettably, false crimes as well.

The United States was born as an act of violent political secession from Great Britain. That violence commenced in full after Thomas Jefferson articulated in the Declaration of Independence not only that our rights to due process are natural — he called them “inalienable” — but also that the colonists had had enough of being charged by the Crown for “pretended offenses” that were “foreign to our Constitution.”

The day we move to punish people — citizens or not — because of what the government fears they might do is the day all liberty will be lost. And the day the government punishes not in accordance with the law is the day for abolishing the government.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

By Andrew P. Napolitano


Friday, July 12, 2019

WORLD’S POOREST PRESIDENT’ EXPLAINS WHY WE SHOULD KICK RICH PEOPLE OUT OF POLITICS

WORLD’S POOREST PRESIDENT’ EXPLAINS WHY WE SHOULD KICK RICH PEOPLE OUT OF POLITICS


People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online Wednesday.
“We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica said in the interview. “So it seems to me that we [heads of state] should live like the majority and not like the minority.”
Dubbed the “World’s Poorest President” in a widely circulated BBC piece from 2012, Mujica reportedly donates 90 percent of his salary to charity. Mujica’s example offers a strong contrast to the United States, where in politics the median member of Congress is worth more than $1 million and corporations have many of the same rights as individuals when it comes to donating to political campaigns.
“The red carpet, people who play — those things,” Mujica said, mimicking a person playing a cornet. “All those things are feudal leftovers. And the staff that surrounds the president are like the old court.”
Mujica explained that he didn’t have anything against rich people, per se, but he doesn’t think they do a good job representing the interests of the majority of people who aren’t rich.
“I’m not against people who have money, who like money, who go crazy for money,” Mujica said. “But in politics we have to separate them. We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.”
Asked why rich people make bad representatives of poor people, Mujica said: “They tend to view the world through their perspective, which is the perspective of money. Even when operating with good intentions, the perspective they have of the world, of life, of their decisions, is informed by wealth. If we live in a world where the majority is supposed to govern, we have to try to root our perspective in that of the majority, not the minority.”
Mujica has become well known for rejecting the symbols of wealth. In an interview in May, he lashed out against neckties in comments on Spanish television that went viral.
“The tie is a useless rag that constrains your neck,” Mujica said during the interview. “I’m an enemy of consumerism. Because of this hyperconsumerism, we’re forgetting about fundamental things and wasting human strength on frivolities that have little to do with human happiness.”He lives on a small farm on the outskirts of the capital of Montevideo with his wife, Uruguayan Sen. Lucia Topolansky and their three-legged dog Manuela. He says he rejects materialism because it would rob him of the time he uses to enjoy his passions, like tending to his flower farm and working outside.
“I don’t have the hands of a president,” Mujica told CNN. “They’re kind of mangled.”


WORLD’S POOREST PRESIDENT’ EXPLAINS WHY WE SHOULD KICK RICH PEOPLE OUT OF POLITICS


People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online Wednesday.
“We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica said in the interview. “So it seems to me that we [heads of state] should live like the majority and not like the minority.”
Dubbed the “World’s Poorest President” in a widely circulated BBC piece from 2012, Mujica reportedly donates 90 percent of his salary to charity. Mujica’s example offers a strong contrast to the United States, where in politics the median member of Congress is worth more than $1 million and corporations have many of the same rights as individuals when it comes to donating to political campaigns.
“The red carpet, people who play — those things,” Mujica said, mimicking a person playing a cornet. “All those things are feudal leftovers. And the staff that surrounds the president are like the old court.”
Mujica explained that he didn’t have anything against rich people, per se, but he doesn’t think they do a good job representing the interests of the majority of people who aren’t rich.
“I’m not against people who have money, who like money, who go crazy for money,” Mujica said. “But in politics we have to separate them. We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.”
Asked why rich people make bad representatives of poor people, Mujica said: “They tend to view the world through their perspective, which is the perspective of money. Even when operating with good intentions, the perspective they have of the world, of life, of their decisions, is informed by wealth. If we live in a world where the majority is supposed to govern, we have to try to root our perspective in that of the majority, not the minority.”
Mujica has become well known for rejecting the symbols of wealth. In an interview in May, he lashed out against neckties in comments on Spanish television that went viral.
“The tie is a useless rag that constrains your neck,” Mujica said during the interview. “I’m an enemy of consumerism. Because of this hyperconsumerism, we’re forgetting about fundamental things and wasting human strength on frivolities that have little to do with human happiness.”He lives on a small farm on the outskirts of the capital of Montevideo with his wife, Uruguayan Sen. Lucia Topolansky and their three-legged dog Manuela. He says he rejects materialism because it would rob him of the time he uses to enjoy his passions, like tending to his flower farm and working outside.
“I don’t have the hands of a president,” Mujica told CNN. “They’re kind of mangled.”




The Heart of Darkness: The Sexual Predators Within America’s Power Elite

The Heart of Darkness: The Sexual Predators Within America’s Power Elite


“As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensating to increase. And the dictator (unless he needs cannon fodder and families with which to colonize empty or conquered territories) will do well to encourage that freedom.”—Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Power corrupts.
Anyone who believes differently hasn’t been paying attention.
Politics, religion, sports, government, entertainment, business, armed forces: it doesn’t matter what arena you’re talking about, they are all riddled with the kind of seedy, sleazy, decadent, dodgy, depraved, immoral, corrupt behavior that somehow gets a free pass when it involves the wealthy and powerful elite in America.
In this age of partisan politics and a deeply polarized populace, corruption—especially when it involves sexual debauchery, depravity and predatory behavior—has become the great equalizer.
Take Jeffrey Epstein, the hedge fund billionaire / convicted serial pedophile recently arrested on charges of molesting, raping and sex trafficking dozens of young girls.
It is believed that Epstein operated his own personal sex trafficking ring not only for his personal pleasure but also for the pleasure of his friends and business associates. According to The Washington Post, “several of the young women…say they were offered to the rich and famous as sex partners at Epstein’s parties.” At various times, Epstein ferried his friends about on his private plane, nicknamed the “Lolita Express.”
This is part of America’s seedy underbelly.
As I documented in the in-depth piece I wrote earlier this year, child sex trafficking—the buying and selling of women, young girls and boys for sex, some as young as 9 years old—has become big business in America. It is the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.
It’s not just young girls who are vulnerable to these predators, either.
According to a 2016 investigative report, “boys make up about 36% of children caught up in the U.S. sex industry (about 60% are female and less than 5% are transgender males and females).”
Who buys a child for sex?
Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life. “They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse,” writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.
Ordinary men, yes.
But then there are the extra-ordinary men, such as Jeffrey Epstein, who belong to a powerful, wealthy, elite segment of society that operates according to their own rules or, rather, who are allowed to sidestep the rules that are used like a bludgeon on the rest of us.
These men skate free of accountability by taking advantage of a criminal justice system that panders to the powerful, the wealthy and the elite.
Over a decade ago, when Epstein was first charged with raping and molesting young girls, he was gifted a secret plea deal with then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, President Trump’s current Labor Secretary, that allowed him to evade federal charges and be given the equivalent of a slap on the wrist: allowed to “work” at home six days a week before returning to jail to sleep. That secret plea deal has since been ruled illegal by a federal judge.
Yet here’s the thing: Epstein did not act alone.
I refer not only to Epstein’s accomplices, who recruited and groomed the young girls he is accused of raping and molesting, many of them homeless or vulnerable, but his circle of influential friends and colleagues that at one time included Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Both Clinton and Trump, renowned womanizers who have also been accused of sexual impropriety by a significant number of women, were at one time passengers on the Lolita Express.
As the Associated Press points out, “The arrest of the billionaire financier on child sex trafficking charges is raising questions about how much his high-powered associates knew about the hedge fund manager’s interactions with underage girls, and whether they turned a blind eye to potentially illegal conduct.”
In fact, a recent decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals allowing a 2,000-page document linked to the Epstein case to be unsealed references allegations of sexual abuse involving “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders.”
This is the heart of darkness.
Sex slaves. Sex trafficking. Secret societies. Powerful elites. Government corruption. Judicial cover-ups.
Once again, fact and fiction mirror 
each other.
Twenty years ago, Stanley Kubrick’s final film Eyes Wide Shut provided viewing audiences with a sordid glimpse into a secret sex society that indulged the basest urges of its affluent members while preying on vulnerable young women. It is not so different from the real world, where powerful men, insulated from accountability, indulge their base urges.
In so doing, we become accomplices to abusive behavior in our midst.
This is how corruption by the power elite flourishes.
For every Epstein who is—finally—called to account for his illegal sexual exploits after years of being given a free pass by those in power, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) more in the halls of power and wealth whose predation of those most vulnerable among us continues unabated.
While Epstein’s alleged crimes are heinous enough on their own, he is part of a larger narrative of how a culture of entitlement becomes a cesspool and a breeding ground for despots and predators.
Power corrupts.

Worse, as 19th-century historian Lord Acton concluded, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a politician, an entertainment mogul, a corporate CEO or a police officer: give any one person (or government agency) too much power and allow him or her or it to believe that they are entitled, untouchable and will not be held accountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused.
We’re seeing this dynamic play out every day in communities across America.
A cop shoots an unarmed citizen for no credible reason and gets away with it. A president employs executive orders to sidestep the Constitution and gets away with it. A government agency spies on its citizens’ communications and gets away with it. An entertainment mogul sexually harasses aspiring actresses and gets away with it. The U.S. military bombs a civilian hospital and gets away with it.
Abuse of power—and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible—works the same whether you’re talking about sex crimes, government corruption, or the rule of law.
It’s the same old story all over again: man rises to power, man abuses power abominably, man intimidates and threatens anyone who challenges him with retaliation or worse, and man gets away with it because of a culture of compliance in which no one speaks up because they don’t want to lose their job or their money or their place among the elite.
It’s not just sexual predators that we have to worry about.

For every Jeffrey Epstein (or Bill Clinton or Harvey Weinstein or Roger Ailes or Bill Cosby or Donald Trump) who eventually gets called out for his sexual misbehavior, there are hundreds—thousands—of others in the American police state who are getting away with murder—in many cases, literally—simply because they can.
The cop who shoots the unarmed citizen first and asks questions later might get put on paid leave for a while or take a job with another police department, but that’s just a slap on the wrist. The shootings and SWAT team raids and excessive use of force will continue, because the police unions and the politicians and the courts won’t do a thing to stop it.
The war hawks who are making a profit by waging endless wars abroad, killing innocent civilians in hospitals and schools, and turning the American homeland into a domestic battlefield will continue to do so because neither the president nor the politicians will dare to challenge the military industrial complex.
The National Security Agency that carries out warrantless surveillance on Americans’ internet and phone communications will continue to do so, because the government doesn’t want to relinquish any of its ill-gotten powers and its total control of the populace.
Unless something changes in the way we deal with these ongoing, egregious abuses of power, the predators of the police state will continue to wreak havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives.
Police officers will continue to shoot and kill unarmed citizens. Government agents—including local police—will continue to dress and act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies will continue to fleece taxpayers while eroding our liberties. Government technicians will continue to spy on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors will continue to make a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

And powerful men (and women) will continue to abuse the powers of their office by treating those around them as underlings and second-class citizens who are unworthy of dignity and respect and undeserving of the legal rights and protections that should be afforded to all Americans.
As Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the at the University of California, Berkeley, observed in the Harvard Business Review, “While people usually gain power through traits and actions that advance the interests of others, such as empathy, collaboration, openness, fairness, and sharing; when they start to feel powerful or enjoy a position of privilege, those qualities begin to fade. The powerful are more likely than other people to engage in rude, selfish, and unethical behavior.”
After conducting a series of experiments into the phenomenon of how power corrupts, Keltner concluded: “Just the random assignment of power, and all kinds of mischief ensues, and people will become impulsive. They eat more resources than is their fair share. They take more money. People become more unethical. They think unethical behavior is okay if they engage in it. People are more likely to stereotype. They’re more likely to stop attending to other people carefully.”
Power corrupts.
And absolute power corrupts absolutely.
However, it takes a culture of entitlement and a nation of compliant, willfully ignorant, politically divided citizens to provide the foundations of tyranny.
As researchers Joris Lammers and Adam Galinsky found, those in power not only tend to abuse that power but they also feel entitled to abuse it: “People with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want.”
As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, for too long now, Americans have tolerated an oligarchy in which a powerful, elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots. They have paid homage to patriotism while allowing the military industrial complex to spread death and destruction abroad. And they have turned a blind eye to all manner of wrongdoing when it was politically expedient.
We need to restore the rule of law for all people, no exceptions.
Here’s what the rule of law means in a nutshell: it means that everyone is treated the same under the law, everyone is held equally accountable to abiding by the law, and no one is given a free pass based on their politics, their connections, their wealth, their status or any other bright line test used to confer special treatment on the elite.
This culture of compliance must stop.
The empowerment of petty tyrants and political gods must end.
The state of denial must cease.
Let’s not allow this Epstein sex scandal to become just another blip in the news cycle that goes away all too soon, only to be forgotten when another titillating news headline takes its place.

Sex trafficking, like so many of the evils in our midst, is a cultural disease that is rooted in the American police state’s heart of darkness. It speaks to a far-reaching corruption that stretches from the highest seats of power down to the most hidden corners and relies on our silence and our complicity to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing.
If we want to put an end to these wrongs, we must keep our eyes wide open.

The Heart of Darkness: The Sexual Predators Within America’s Power Elite


“As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensating to increase. And the dictator (unless he needs cannon fodder and families with which to colonize empty or conquered territories) will do well to encourage that freedom.”—Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Power corrupts.
Anyone who believes differently hasn’t been paying attention.
Politics, religion, sports, government, entertainment, business, armed forces: it doesn’t matter what arena you’re talking about, they are all riddled with the kind of seedy, sleazy, decadent, dodgy, depraved, immoral, corrupt behavior that somehow gets a free pass when it involves the wealthy and powerful elite in America.
In this age of partisan politics and a deeply polarized populace, corruption—especially when it involves sexual debauchery, depravity and predatory behavior—has become the great equalizer.
Take Jeffrey Epstein, the hedge fund billionaire / convicted serial pedophile recently arrested on charges of molesting, raping and sex trafficking dozens of young girls.
It is believed that Epstein operated his own personal sex trafficking ring not only for his personal pleasure but also for the pleasure of his friends and business associates. According to The Washington Post, “several of the young women…say they were offered to the rich and famous as sex partners at Epstein’s parties.” At various times, Epstein ferried his friends about on his private plane, nicknamed the “Lolita Express.”
This is part of America’s seedy underbelly.
As I documented in the in-depth piece I wrote earlier this year, child sex trafficking—the buying and selling of women, young girls and boys for sex, some as young as 9 years old—has become big business in America. It is the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.
It’s not just young girls who are vulnerable to these predators, either.
According to a 2016 investigative report, “boys make up about 36% of children caught up in the U.S. sex industry (about 60% are female and less than 5% are transgender males and females).”
Who buys a child for sex?
Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life. “They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse,” writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.
Ordinary men, yes.
But then there are the extra-ordinary men, such as Jeffrey Epstein, who belong to a powerful, wealthy, elite segment of society that operates according to their own rules or, rather, who are allowed to sidestep the rules that are used like a bludgeon on the rest of us.
These men skate free of accountability by taking advantage of a criminal justice system that panders to the powerful, the wealthy and the elite.
Over a decade ago, when Epstein was first charged with raping and molesting young girls, he was gifted a secret plea deal with then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, President Trump’s current Labor Secretary, that allowed him to evade federal charges and be given the equivalent of a slap on the wrist: allowed to “work” at home six days a week before returning to jail to sleep. That secret plea deal has since been ruled illegal by a federal judge.
Yet here’s the thing: Epstein did not act alone.
I refer not only to Epstein’s accomplices, who recruited and groomed the young girls he is accused of raping and molesting, many of them homeless or vulnerable, but his circle of influential friends and colleagues that at one time included Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Both Clinton and Trump, renowned womanizers who have also been accused of sexual impropriety by a significant number of women, were at one time passengers on the Lolita Express.
As the Associated Press points out, “The arrest of the billionaire financier on child sex trafficking charges is raising questions about how much his high-powered associates knew about the hedge fund manager’s interactions with underage girls, and whether they turned a blind eye to potentially illegal conduct.”
In fact, a recent decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals allowing a 2,000-page document linked to the Epstein case to be unsealed references allegations of sexual abuse involving “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders.”
This is the heart of darkness.
Sex slaves. Sex trafficking. Secret societies. Powerful elites. Government corruption. Judicial cover-ups.
Once again, fact and fiction mirror 
each other.
Twenty years ago, Stanley Kubrick’s final film Eyes Wide Shut provided viewing audiences with a sordid glimpse into a secret sex society that indulged the basest urges of its affluent members while preying on vulnerable young women. It is not so different from the real world, where powerful men, insulated from accountability, indulge their base urges.
In so doing, we become accomplices to abusive behavior in our midst.
This is how corruption by the power elite flourishes.
For every Epstein who is—finally—called to account for his illegal sexual exploits after years of being given a free pass by those in power, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) more in the halls of power and wealth whose predation of those most vulnerable among us continues unabated.
While Epstein’s alleged crimes are heinous enough on their own, he is part of a larger narrative of how a culture of entitlement becomes a cesspool and a breeding ground for despots and predators.
Power corrupts.

Worse, as 19th-century historian Lord Acton concluded, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a politician, an entertainment mogul, a corporate CEO or a police officer: give any one person (or government agency) too much power and allow him or her or it to believe that they are entitled, untouchable and will not be held accountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused.
We’re seeing this dynamic play out every day in communities across America.
A cop shoots an unarmed citizen for no credible reason and gets away with it. A president employs executive orders to sidestep the Constitution and gets away with it. A government agency spies on its citizens’ communications and gets away with it. An entertainment mogul sexually harasses aspiring actresses and gets away with it. The U.S. military bombs a civilian hospital and gets away with it.
Abuse of power—and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible—works the same whether you’re talking about sex crimes, government corruption, or the rule of law.
It’s the same old story all over again: man rises to power, man abuses power abominably, man intimidates and threatens anyone who challenges him with retaliation or worse, and man gets away with it because of a culture of compliance in which no one speaks up because they don’t want to lose their job or their money or their place among the elite.
It’s not just sexual predators that we have to worry about.

For every Jeffrey Epstein (or Bill Clinton or Harvey Weinstein or Roger Ailes or Bill Cosby or Donald Trump) who eventually gets called out for his sexual misbehavior, there are hundreds—thousands—of others in the American police state who are getting away with murder—in many cases, literally—simply because they can.
The cop who shoots the unarmed citizen first and asks questions later might get put on paid leave for a while or take a job with another police department, but that’s just a slap on the wrist. The shootings and SWAT team raids and excessive use of force will continue, because the police unions and the politicians and the courts won’t do a thing to stop it.
The war hawks who are making a profit by waging endless wars abroad, killing innocent civilians in hospitals and schools, and turning the American homeland into a domestic battlefield will continue to do so because neither the president nor the politicians will dare to challenge the military industrial complex.
The National Security Agency that carries out warrantless surveillance on Americans’ internet and phone communications will continue to do so, because the government doesn’t want to relinquish any of its ill-gotten powers and its total control of the populace.
Unless something changes in the way we deal with these ongoing, egregious abuses of power, the predators of the police state will continue to wreak havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives.
Police officers will continue to shoot and kill unarmed citizens. Government agents—including local police—will continue to dress and act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies will continue to fleece taxpayers while eroding our liberties. Government technicians will continue to spy on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors will continue to make a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

And powerful men (and women) will continue to abuse the powers of their office by treating those around them as underlings and second-class citizens who are unworthy of dignity and respect and undeserving of the legal rights and protections that should be afforded to all Americans.
As Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the at the University of California, Berkeley, observed in the Harvard Business Review, “While people usually gain power through traits and actions that advance the interests of others, such as empathy, collaboration, openness, fairness, and sharing; when they start to feel powerful or enjoy a position of privilege, those qualities begin to fade. The powerful are more likely than other people to engage in rude, selfish, and unethical behavior.”
After conducting a series of experiments into the phenomenon of how power corrupts, Keltner concluded: “Just the random assignment of power, and all kinds of mischief ensues, and people will become impulsive. They eat more resources than is their fair share. They take more money. People become more unethical. They think unethical behavior is okay if they engage in it. People are more likely to stereotype. They’re more likely to stop attending to other people carefully.”
Power corrupts.
And absolute power corrupts absolutely.
However, it takes a culture of entitlement and a nation of compliant, willfully ignorant, politically divided citizens to provide the foundations of tyranny.
As researchers Joris Lammers and Adam Galinsky found, those in power not only tend to abuse that power but they also feel entitled to abuse it: “People with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want.”
As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, for too long now, Americans have tolerated an oligarchy in which a powerful, elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots. They have paid homage to patriotism while allowing the military industrial complex to spread death and destruction abroad. And they have turned a blind eye to all manner of wrongdoing when it was politically expedient.
We need to restore the rule of law for all people, no exceptions.
Here’s what the rule of law means in a nutshell: it means that everyone is treated the same under the law, everyone is held equally accountable to abiding by the law, and no one is given a free pass based on their politics, their connections, their wealth, their status or any other bright line test used to confer special treatment on the elite.
This culture of compliance must stop.
The empowerment of petty tyrants and political gods must end.
The state of denial must cease.
Let’s not allow this Epstein sex scandal to become just another blip in the news cycle that goes away all too soon, only to be forgotten when another titillating news headline takes its place.

Sex trafficking, like so many of the evils in our midst, is a cultural disease that is rooted in the American police state’s heart of darkness. It speaks to a far-reaching corruption that stretches from the highest seats of power down to the most hidden corners and relies on our silence and our complicity to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing.
If we want to put an end to these wrongs, we must keep our eyes wide open.



Opposing War Is The Best Approach To Revolution

Opposing War Is The Best Approach To Revolution


 One of the most common labels people use to describe what I do is some variation of “anti-war journalist” or “anti-imperialist blogger”, and I’m always a tiny bit surprised when I see it. Not because I disagree with it; opposition to US-centralized warmongering probably constitutes a majority of my content, so it’s a reasonable description. I’ve just never explicitly had opposing war in mind when doing what I do. It’s been the main byproduct of my journey here, but it’s never been my objective.
I got started on this gig making Facebook posts in Bernie Sanders groups after noticing that the US mass media were actively sabotaging his 2016 primary race. My goal at the time was the same as it is now: to help jailbreak Americans, and thus the rest of the world, from the nearly invisible power structures which are oppressing us all and driving us toward extinction. When I first started writing about the 2016 presidential campaign I didn’t focus nearly as much on US foreign policy as I do now.
The shift toward emphasis on US-led warmongering wasn’t something I planned, it was just the natural consequence of my staring, day after day, at the puzzle of how to free humanity from its chains. I didn’t understand the mechanics of empire all that well when I started out, so I meticulously studied the behavior of government and media structures and watched for opportunities to expose glitches in the narrative matrix so I could highlight them for my readers. As I got better at noticing these glitches, I found that the opportunities to go “Look! See? They’re lying to you!” most often presented themselves around the issues of war and imperialism.


This is because it turns out that endless war is an absolutely essential component of the globe-spanning alliance between oligarchs and government agencies which is sometimes referred to as the “deep state”. Exerting more and more control over world affairs is how the largest power structures on earth continue to expand their power, and this is impossible to do without using the carrot of US military/economic alliance and the stick of US military/economic punishment. US economic control isn’t hegemonic enough on its own to overcome the influence of growing economic powers like China, so the threat of military violence is absolutely essential for maintaining the power alliance. It’s the glue that holds the entire empire together.


So endless war is a 100 percent indispensable element in preserving existing power structures. The US-centralized empire cannot exist without it. The trouble for the empire, however, is that it can’t just come out and tell the public “Yeah we need to destroy everyone who opposes our resource control agendas and dominance in key geostrategic regions, so we’ll be forcibly eliminating this noncompliant government on Thursday.” The public would never go for it, because that’s a plainly sociopathic values system which we are taught since school age that our society evolved beyond many generations ago. People would lose trust in all government institutions, and revolution would quickly foment as a result.
For this reason, propaganda is necessary. Because America is where the empire has centralized most of its military firepower and billionaires, Americans are the most propagandized people on earth. There are thousands of people whose whole entire job is to convince Americans that it is good and desirable to keep trillions of dollars in military hardware moving around the planet and killing complete strangers who pose no threat to any American.
The challenge for the propagandists is that this is plainly bat shit crazy. It’s an assignment that is both absolutely necessary and extremely difficult. When the entire world order depends on convincing millions of people that something transparently insane and ridiculous is perfectly sane and rational, you’re naturally going to have difficulty smoothing over all the plot holes in the narratives you’re selling. That’s why you’re always seeing glaring discrepancies in the narratives used to promote US foreign policy agendas. In retrospect I’ve pretty much built my career on highlighting these discrepancies.
The primary role US-led warmongering plays in maintaining existing power structures, which I first started to notice during the 2016 Democratic primaries, is on even clearer display during the 2020 Democratic primaries. You see candidates like Bernie Sanders being frowned upon by hardline centrists for promoting domestic policies which would hurt the profit margins of the oligarchs, but overall he’s being treated as a legitimate candidate and receiving reluctant coverage on mainstream media networks. Then you look at the treatment of a candidate like Tulsi Gabbard, who is campaigning on a major overhaul of US foreign policy, and she’s treated as a raving lunatic and a traitor.
“Challenging domestic policy status quo in Washington can be controversial and subject you to some attacks. But those who dissent from DC’s foreign policy addiction to imperialism, militarism and support for repression are those who are always most smeared and maligned,” Glenn Greenwald tweeted a while back.

You can get away with promoting things like universal healthcare or student debt forgiveness with only moderate pushback from the establishment, but wanting to scale back the forever war will quickly see you branded a Russian asset or an antisemite and canceled. The empire won’t even tolerate you interfering with their narratives, let alone getting elected. Your voice will be targeted with an aggressive smear campaign until they make sure that hardly anyone is listening to what you have to say.
The fact that we’re so strictly forbidden from pursuing this line of attack is a clear sign that warmongering is the weakest point in the empire’s armor. It’s the most essential component of the oppression machine, and its narratives are the weakest and most plot hole-riddled. If you’re interested in taking down the oligarchic machine which keeps ordinary people poor, sick and stupid, then attacking war propaganda is the most useful expenditure of energy.
American leftists and progressives have not been great at this; even those who identify as “anti-imperialist” tend to mostly stay focused on domestic issues. This is perfectly understandable, since Americans are the victims of the empire’s soul-crushing neoliberal exploitation and it is therefore the thing that is staring them in the face most often.
But the drivers of empire do not fear a push for domestic policy reform nearly as much as they fear a push for foreign policy reform. They know that the plebs can be kept poor and stupid enough to pose no threat to the oligarchs controlling all the money (and therefore all the power) by simply manipulating the system and herding everyone into controlled political opposition groups who will end up telling them “Ohh, sorry, we couldn’t get the congressional votes. Those damn Republicans!” A large public demand to end warmongering would be a much tougher challenge to manipulate around.



It’s actually the same agenda anyway; the plutocratic class, which is incentivized to keep everyone else poor in a system wherein money equals power and power is relative, is the driving force behind both neoliberal exploitation and the forever war, and if you can end either of these things you will end the whole empire. It just happens that when you look at the whole picture, warmongering turns out to be the far easier and far more efficacious line of attack.
There are plenty of moral arguments against imperialism, but you don’t even need to enter into morality to see that it’s smart to make opposing war your foremost priority. The kingdom of the bastards who are grinding us all down and trying to make us poorer, sicker and stupider so we can’t muster the chutzpah to toss them out on their asses is fed by an umbilical cord of endless war, and we have the power to cut that cord by opposing war and attacking war propaganda together.
Change that, and we change everything. Ordinary humans can finally begin to make the world their own, guided not by sociopathic oligarchs but by an enlightened self-interest which realizes that the only way we can continue to survive is if we learn to collaborate with each other and with our ecosystem for the common good. This is all I’ve ever been pushing toward here. Deep down, it’s all any of us want.
Caitlin's articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast, throwing some money into her hat on Patreon orPaypalor buying her book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppershttps://caitlinjohnstone.com

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Opposing War Is The Best Approach To Revolution


 One of the most common labels people use to describe what I do is some variation of “anti-war journalist” or “anti-imperialist blogger”, and I’m always a tiny bit surprised when I see it. Not because I disagree with it; opposition to US-centralized warmongering probably constitutes a majority of my content, so it’s a reasonable description. I’ve just never explicitly had opposing war in mind when doing what I do. It’s been the main byproduct of my journey here, but it’s never been my objective.
I got started on this gig making Facebook posts in Bernie Sanders groups after noticing that the US mass media were actively sabotaging his 2016 primary race. My goal at the time was the same as it is now: to help jailbreak Americans, and thus the rest of the world, from the nearly invisible power structures which are oppressing us all and driving us toward extinction. When I first started writing about the 2016 presidential campaign I didn’t focus nearly as much on US foreign policy as I do now.
The shift toward emphasis on US-led warmongering wasn’t something I planned, it was just the natural consequence of my staring, day after day, at the puzzle of how to free humanity from its chains. I didn’t understand the mechanics of empire all that well when I started out, so I meticulously studied the behavior of government and media structures and watched for opportunities to expose glitches in the narrative matrix so I could highlight them for my readers. As I got better at noticing these glitches, I found that the opportunities to go “Look! See? They’re lying to you!” most often presented themselves around the issues of war and imperialism.


This is because it turns out that endless war is an absolutely essential component of the globe-spanning alliance between oligarchs and government agencies which is sometimes referred to as the “deep state”. Exerting more and more control over world affairs is how the largest power structures on earth continue to expand their power, and this is impossible to do without using the carrot of US military/economic alliance and the stick of US military/economic punishment. US economic control isn’t hegemonic enough on its own to overcome the influence of growing economic powers like China, so the threat of military violence is absolutely essential for maintaining the power alliance. It’s the glue that holds the entire empire together.


So endless war is a 100 percent indispensable element in preserving existing power structures. The US-centralized empire cannot exist without it. The trouble for the empire, however, is that it can’t just come out and tell the public “Yeah we need to destroy everyone who opposes our resource control agendas and dominance in key geostrategic regions, so we’ll be forcibly eliminating this noncompliant government on Thursday.” The public would never go for it, because that’s a plainly sociopathic values system which we are taught since school age that our society evolved beyond many generations ago. People would lose trust in all government institutions, and revolution would quickly foment as a result.
For this reason, propaganda is necessary. Because America is where the empire has centralized most of its military firepower and billionaires, Americans are the most propagandized people on earth. There are thousands of people whose whole entire job is to convince Americans that it is good and desirable to keep trillions of dollars in military hardware moving around the planet and killing complete strangers who pose no threat to any American.
The challenge for the propagandists is that this is plainly bat shit crazy. It’s an assignment that is both absolutely necessary and extremely difficult. When the entire world order depends on convincing millions of people that something transparently insane and ridiculous is perfectly sane and rational, you’re naturally going to have difficulty smoothing over all the plot holes in the narratives you’re selling. That’s why you’re always seeing glaring discrepancies in the narratives used to promote US foreign policy agendas. In retrospect I’ve pretty much built my career on highlighting these discrepancies.
The primary role US-led warmongering plays in maintaining existing power structures, which I first started to notice during the 2016 Democratic primaries, is on even clearer display during the 2020 Democratic primaries. You see candidates like Bernie Sanders being frowned upon by hardline centrists for promoting domestic policies which would hurt the profit margins of the oligarchs, but overall he’s being treated as a legitimate candidate and receiving reluctant coverage on mainstream media networks. Then you look at the treatment of a candidate like Tulsi Gabbard, who is campaigning on a major overhaul of US foreign policy, and she’s treated as a raving lunatic and a traitor.
“Challenging domestic policy status quo in Washington can be controversial and subject you to some attacks. But those who dissent from DC’s foreign policy addiction to imperialism, militarism and support for repression are those who are always most smeared and maligned,” Glenn Greenwald tweeted a while back.

You can get away with promoting things like universal healthcare or student debt forgiveness with only moderate pushback from the establishment, but wanting to scale back the forever war will quickly see you branded a Russian asset or an antisemite and canceled. The empire won’t even tolerate you interfering with their narratives, let alone getting elected. Your voice will be targeted with an aggressive smear campaign until they make sure that hardly anyone is listening to what you have to say.
The fact that we’re so strictly forbidden from pursuing this line of attack is a clear sign that warmongering is the weakest point in the empire’s armor. It’s the most essential component of the oppression machine, and its narratives are the weakest and most plot hole-riddled. If you’re interested in taking down the oligarchic machine which keeps ordinary people poor, sick and stupid, then attacking war propaganda is the most useful expenditure of energy.
American leftists and progressives have not been great at this; even those who identify as “anti-imperialist” tend to mostly stay focused on domestic issues. This is perfectly understandable, since Americans are the victims of the empire’s soul-crushing neoliberal exploitation and it is therefore the thing that is staring them in the face most often.
But the drivers of empire do not fear a push for domestic policy reform nearly as much as they fear a push for foreign policy reform. They know that the plebs can be kept poor and stupid enough to pose no threat to the oligarchs controlling all the money (and therefore all the power) by simply manipulating the system and herding everyone into controlled political opposition groups who will end up telling them “Ohh, sorry, we couldn’t get the congressional votes. Those damn Republicans!” A large public demand to end warmongering would be a much tougher challenge to manipulate around.



It’s actually the same agenda anyway; the plutocratic class, which is incentivized to keep everyone else poor in a system wherein money equals power and power is relative, is the driving force behind both neoliberal exploitation and the forever war, and if you can end either of these things you will end the whole empire. It just happens that when you look at the whole picture, warmongering turns out to be the far easier and far more efficacious line of attack.
There are plenty of moral arguments against imperialism, but you don’t even need to enter into morality to see that it’s smart to make opposing war your foremost priority. The kingdom of the bastards who are grinding us all down and trying to make us poorer, sicker and stupider so we can’t muster the chutzpah to toss them out on their asses is fed by an umbilical cord of endless war, and we have the power to cut that cord by opposing war and attacking war propaganda together.
Change that, and we change everything. Ordinary humans can finally begin to make the world their own, guided not by sociopathic oligarchs but by an enlightened self-interest which realizes that the only way we can continue to survive is if we learn to collaborate with each other and with our ecosystem for the common good. This is all I’ve ever been pushing toward here. Deep down, it’s all any of us want.
Caitlin's articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast, throwing some money into her hat on Patreon orPaypalor buying her book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppershttps://caitlinjohnstone.com

Note To Freedom or Anarchy Campaign of Conscience  Community
We ask that you assist us in dissemination of the article published by Freedom or Anarchy Campaign of Conscience   to your social media accounts and post links to the article from other websites.
Thank you for your support.
Peace and joy