Iraq is a horrifying mess.
Reports of beheadings, military occupation, and outright genocide paint an extremely desperate picture of a region gone out of control. Westerners are right to feel the urge to do something about the situation and the most readily available solution would be to support US or UN military action in the area. But rash judgements based on emotional responses will hardly benefit anyone in the long run. We should seek to understand the situation fully and promote a lasting solution that will help stabilize the region and bring justice to the perpetrators of the evil there.
US Government Fomented the Conflict
It would be incorrect to say that the problem in the Middle East or even in Iraq was created by the US government; that honor goes back 1300 years to the Battle of the Camel when Islam separated into to distinct factions or before. But it is important to note that the US government has had a major role in fomenting chaos in the region.
1) It took out a despotic (though stable) government in Saddam Hussein and installed a democratically elected yet impotent federal parliament, which has threatened disenfranchisement of the minority Sunni population.
2) It disarmed the citizenry. Notable in the constitution that the US helped establish in Iraq is the absence of protection of the right to bear arms. The US even cracked down on gun ownership during its occupation. Once the US troops largely left the area, it left a vacuum ripe for terrorist picking.
3) It funded the very terrorists that are wrecking havoc on the region. In their infinite wisdom, federal warmongers have chosen to support rebels in Syria, who have become terrorists in Iraq.
Clearly, the US government’s role in the region has not helped and most honest analysts will see it as the catalyst for the chaotic mess. We cannot rely on the US or even the UN to do the right thing in the region. Conflicting interests and a complete disregard for humanity has proven that that is not the solution.
So, What Is the Solution?
Apart from breaking up the country of Iraq and perhaps Syria into smaller nations, the security needs in the region are dire and immediate. Some will say that the US military is the only force capable of eliminating the conflict but in fact, the very domination of the war industry by the United States federal government has led to a moral hazard in which Iraq has become dependent on its military support. The previous decade of occupation shows that further occupation is not viable or particularly sustainable.
The best solution to the endless conflict is a system of defense and security, which has lost favor since the dawn of world super powers, but was effective and successful before: the mercenary system consisting of private military companies. The West has a dense concentration of military might, a fraction of which would be necessary to defend the persecuted Iraqis, but when wielded under the auspices of the US federal government, tends to incur corruption, waste, and anti-American sentiment around the world. Private military companies, however, would allow the benefits of the free market (efficiency, innovation) to apply to security. It would also allow America to be officially neutral in contentious conflicts.
This model is not untested. While the Swiss government has a strict policy of non-intervention, Swiss citizens have long been free to personally provide military and security services outside the country. In the past, Swiss individuals often chose to serve as soldiers in foreign regiments protecting neighboring countries, and to this day the Swiss Guard, a private group, protects the Vatican. In the 1930s, groups of Americans were concerned about fascism in Europe and tried to establish the “Abraham Lincoln Brigade” to fight that menace. Private soldiers committed to taking on international bullies can act with organized efficiency without involving their neighbors. And so long as they are answerable for their actions, private soldiers shouldn’t be any more objectionable than private security guards.
It would be naive to claim that a model of private security forces will end the conflict in the Middle East. There are deep-seated philosophical problems there that may never be solved. However, the current US-military interventionism only makes things worse. We need to move to a proven model that allows Americans to defend persecuted peoples without injecting fuel to a fire.
The United States federal defense budget is around $700 billion, most of which is dedicated to blowing up stuff in foreign countries that have very little to do with the defense of the United States. Yet, we have an extremely porous border that lets stuff like this stunt staged by Project Veritas happen:
Our “Defense” budget isn’t defending anything.
After so many unconscionable transgressions against the American people and our Constitution, it is a wonder why Obama is still in office. The congressman gives a hint as to why that may be the case still.
From Daily Signal:
In the city of SeaTac, Wash., where the minimum wage is now $15 an hour, one business is charging customers a “living wage” surcharge.
An airport parking service, Masterpark, “is charging customers an additional 99 cents per parking day,” reported Northwest Watchdog.
What's wrong with SeaTac's $15 min wage in 1 photo — Local businesses are now adding 8.25% "living wage surcharge" pic.twitter.com/IMifQRIWhN
— Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) June 5, 2014
Near SeaTac, Seattle also is hiking its minimum wage. On Monday, the city council voted unanimously to raise the minimum wage over several years until it reaches $15 an hour. In an Associated Press interview afterward, City Council member Kshama Sawant, a self-described socialist, noted that “$15 in Seattle is just the beginning.”
James Sherk, a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, remains unsurprised by the development of a living wage charge in SeaTac. Sherk said when labor costs increase, naturally or by design, companies have only two options—decrease payroll or raise prices. In the case of Seattle, he said, “I expect to see both.”
Many Washington state business owners already have taken Sherk’s analysis a step farther. David Jones, the owner of Blazing Onion Burger, recently put the brakes on plans to open a new Seattle restaurant. “I would love to come to Seattle,” Jones said in a CNN-Money report. “But I have to do it responsibly.”
In a sickening case of authoritative mistreatment, a widow claims that a Veteran’s Affairs hospital staff beat her husband to death after he tried leaving because of an extended wait. This is on the heels of stories of long wait times at VA hospitals leading to dozens of preventable deaths.
The Courthouse News Service reports:
After waiting for four hours for dialysis with a shunt in his arm, a veteran told a Veterans Administration hospital he was leaving, whereupon VA police beat him and stomped on his carotid artery, giving him a stroke that killed him, and they lied to his wife about it, the widow claims in court.
The veteran, Jonathan Montano, waited over four hours for dialysis treatment with a shunt in his arm.
“This greatly frustrated Jonathan Montano, who then decided that he didn’t want to wait any longer at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda and decided to leave the hospital and to go to the VA Hospital in Long Beach,” the complaint states.
The nursing staff told him he couldn’t leave and called the VA police, who restrained the patient, then brutalized him.
It’s unclear how any of this is acceptable and it doesn’t bode well for public perception of government health care as ACA (ObamaCare) moves the entire health care system in the United States toward a government system.
Whether it was a stubborn avoidance of competition of my alternative currency in pre-alpha phase, the Ur Monetary Unit, or a skepticism of the underlying soundness of an arbitrary currency, it took me a while to get on board with Bitcoin. But I’m officially on that board.
The principle behind the currency is excellent. We need alternatives to the fiat nonsense that the Federal Reserve has put out there, destroying wealth and incentivizing consumption over savings for over 100 years. And the mechanics behind the currency is even more excellent, providing for stability, anonymity, and decentralization. This is what Wikipedia has to say about the technology:
Integral to bitcoin security is the prevention of unauthorized transactions from an individual’s wallet. A bitcoin transaction permanently transfers ownership to a new address, a string having the form of random letters and numbers derived from public keys by application of a hash function and encoding scheme. The corresponding private keys act as a safeguard for the owner; a valid payment message from an address must contain the associated public key and a digital signature proving possession of the associated private key.
While this technology may lead to increased clandestine activity due to the anonymity, it also allows us to get off of the Federal Reserve plantation and start working for ourselves. Sure, the federal government has the presumed authority to tax all economic activity (even those transactions in bitcoin), but the more alternative currencies there are, the less ability they have to inflate the currency. The Fed can only print US dollars, they can’t make more bitcoin to drive up prices. So if everyone shifted to bitcoin, we would have gradual deflation. In other words, in a bitcoin economy, prices would generally trend down. Instead of $20 buying less and less over time, it would buy more.
And it’s already happening. There are 61 vendors in my city accepting bitcoin as I write this, up from a handful a year ago. This exponential growth will continue and add stability to the market.
The currency isn’t perfect. I’d like to see a currency that is based on the prices of several commodities, as in the UMU, and one that isn’t completely reliant on computer technology (EMP bomb anyone?), but it could be the perfect vehicle to shake up the system so that other alternatives can be used. That being the case, I’d like to offer you, my readers $5 in free bitcoin! Sign up with Coinbase and once you’ve made $100 in transactions, you’ll receive your reward. Your first transaction can be a donation to me! (See the upper right corner of this site).
Oh yeah, and I think I’m also on board with Overstock.com:
It began in 2012 when scattered reports of mismanagement at VA hospitals started to emerge across the country, from vets contracting Legionnaires’ disease at a VA hospital in Pittsburgh to the deaths of several vets after an Atlanta VA hospital lost track of patients to a November 2013 report on CNN that the nation’s soldiers were dying in a Columbia, South Carolina VA hospital as they waited for routine gastrointestinal tests.
• Early 2012: Dr. Katherine Mitchell, a Veterans Affairs emergency-room physician, warns Sharon Helman, incoming director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, that the Phoenix ER is overwhelmed and dangerous. Mitchell now alleges she was told within days by senior administrators that she had deficient communication skills and was transferred out of the ER.
• Later in 2012: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs orders implementation of electronic wait-time tracking and makes improved patient access a top priority. In December, the Government Accountability Office tells the Veterans Health Administration that its reporting of outpatient medical-appointment wait times is “unreliable.”
• March 2013: The GAO’s Debra Draper tells a House subcommittee: “Although access to timely medical appointments is critical to ensuring that veterans obtain needed medical care, long wait times and inadequate scheduling processes at VAMCs (medical centers) have been persistent problems.”
• July 2013: In an e-mail exchange among employees at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, an employee questions whether administrators are improperly touting their Wildly Important Goals program. “I think it’s unfair to call any of this a success when veterans are waiting six weeks on an electronic waiting list before they’re called to schedule their first PCP (primary-care provider) appointment,” program analyst Damian Reese complains.
• September 2013: Mitchell files a confidential complaint intended for the VA Office of Inspector General, channeled through Arizona Sen. John McCain’s office. Her list of concerns instead goes to the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs and eventually back to the VA. Mitchell, meanwhile, is placed on administrative leave.
• October 2013: Dr. Sam Foote, a doctor of internal medicine at the Phoenix VA, files a complaint with the VA Office of Inspector General alleging purported successes in reducing wait times stem from manipulation of data, and that vets are dying while awaiting appointments for medical care.
• December 2013: Foote retires, assuming the role of whistle-blower by meeting with Arizona Republic reporter Dennis Wagner. He details allegations that patients have died while awaiting care at the Phoenix VA and that wait times have been falsified.
• April 9: Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, says during a hearing that dozens of VA hospital patients in Phoenix may have died while awaiting medical care. He says staff investigators have evidence that the Phoenix VA Health Care System keeps two sets of records to conceal prolonged waits for appointments.
• April 16: A Phoenix rally organized by Concerned Veterans for America and attended by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., draws 150 veterans and their supporters calling for solutions to the controversy.
• May 1: U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki places Helman and two others on administrative leave pending an outcome to the inspector general’s probe.
• May 2: Mitchell goes public with her allegations about mismanagement of the Phoenix VA system and her concerns about wait times, noting that she and a co-worker moved to protect some documents as evidence.
• May 5: The American Legion’s national leaders call for Shinseki’s resignation. Shinseki says he intends to stay put.
• May 8: Shinseki orders records audits of all VA health-care facilities around the U.S. a day after U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., makes the request.
• May 19: White House claims it found out about the fraudulent activity through the news.
• May 20: Documents show that White House knew about fraud for five years.
Trey Gowdy is leading a special investigation into Benghazi and I don’t know if there was a better person to put in charge. In this short clip, he summarizes exactly what’s wrong with the country in entertaining, poignant fashion. “Congress is supposed to provide oversight. Voters are supposed to provide oversight. [The media] are supposed to provide oversight.” That hasn’t happened in this case especially. You can’t have a free society based on checks and balances when no one is doing their checking or balancing.
A while back, a good samaritan made a homeless guy think he had won the lottery. Best day ever, right? That is until the Internet gave him $44,000 and the good samaritan rented a house for him. His reaction is priceless:
If there’s one legitimate role for the federal government, it’s national defense. But that raises the question: what constitutes a national defense? Moreover what constitutes a sound national defense. While defense is vital to our existence, military interventionism is usually unproductive, unreasonable, and un-American.
Military interventionism is unproductive because, not only does it not work to help keep us secure but it actually works against that goal. The CIA has identified the phenomenon of blowback in which unintended consequences of covert operations are suffered by the aggressor—in this case the US.
Over the last 60 years since WWII, the US government has consistently tried to pick winners and losers in foreign disputes and often times our interventionism often comes back to bite us in the rear. When we pick a side and fund or arm them, there’s no guarantee that they will remain loyal and in fact the opposite is true. Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi all received military support from the US before they became US enemies. It has also come to light that the Benghazi terror attack leading to the death of four Americans was a direct result of the US government funneling $500 million in weapons to al Qaida militants the previous year.
Military interventionism is also unreasonable.
We can’t just say that we need to defend ourselves so we must write a blank check to the military and let it do whatever it wants.
The US spends trillions of dollars defending countries that are perfectly capable of defending themselves like Korea, Japan, and our NATO allies. We spend $2300 per person a year on our military (5% of GDP), whereas Korea only spends $581/person per year (2.5%). Japan only spends 1% GDP on military/ NATO on average only 1.5%. These are wealthy countries. We shouldn’t be paying for their defense.
I find it peculiar that people who say that the government is susceptible to waste and corruption think that when the end goal is military in nature that all that waste and corruption go away.
And the hawks will assert that they want all this military interventionism all for the sake of freedom. Well, that convoluted logic may make sense to the Nobel Committee who awarded war criminal Barack Obama the Nobel Peace prize, but it doesn’t make sense to the rest of us. In fact it reminds me of Orwell’s ominous dystopian slogan, “War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength.” It’s completely unreasonable.
Finally, military interventionism is un-American.
There was no standing U.S. Army in 1776. Instead we had several militias in the various states with no standardization between them and no centralized authority. They banded together under George Washington to create the Continental Army and defeated the greatest military power on Earth at the time to gain independence.
That was the Founders’ system—the American model—to have state militias (National Guard) mobilized to create an army when needed for major conflict then demobilized after the conflict. In fact, this system was emblazoned into the Constitution, which gave Congress the authority ”To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.”
This system was implemented because the Founders knew what James Madison said: That The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
After WWII, that exact situation happened. The standing army after WWII was double the size it was before and the hold it had on the power structure of the US led President Eisenhower to warn: “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
The result has been constant wars and interventions since—interventions that are unproductive, unreasonable, and un-American!
It looks like there is some motion to reprimand the fall guy for the IRS targeting scandal, Lois Lerner.
According to The Blaze:
A House committee voted 23-14 along party lines to refer Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the agency’s targeting scandal, to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution.
The result of the vote, which took place in a closed-door Ways and Means mark-up, means that Attorney General Eric Holder will now be called on to bring Lerner to court.
So, we’re going to have a corrupt Department of Justice run by ideologically identical bureaucrats investigate a blatant crime. Don’t blame me if I’m not impressed by this move.
Here’s the transcript from the oral arguments of what amounts to one of the most important religious liberty cases in the history of the country. Will the Court put its stamp of approval on the state infringing on religious freedom or will they shut down the egregious behavior and threaten Obamacare?
According to the website, the nutraceutical Amelior can help mood, joint pain, and complexion. But there’s just one problem: it doesn’t do anything to achieve those results. It’s an inert placebo described in the latest spiritual fiction from Code Publishing, “Now and at the Hour of Our Death.”
“In the book,” author JSB Morse explains, “one of the characters takes what he thinks is a psychoactive pharmaceutical—a miracle pill—that gives him superhuman mental powers. But the pill is really just a placebo and everything he thought it was doing was really just his own belief system.”
Code Publishing worked with Amelior Institute to develop the FDA-approved pill, which is composed of only inert filler ingredients. They also posted several peer-reviewed studies that show the placebo is as or more effective than expensive pharmaceuticals with dangerous side effects.
When asked of the ethics of selling an inert pill with claims of medical benefits, Morse says that there is no ethical problem. “Studies show that people taking placebo really improve their condition, but they must believe that they will for it to work. The companies that push dangerous pharmaceuticals that are less effective than placebo are the ones who should be ethically questioned.”
An Indianapolis man got more than he bargained for after he reportedly stole an iPad on Thursday. Without a tracking app on the iPad, the victim was helpless to find the device.
That was until the thief did something really stupid: he contacted the victim’s daughter via an iPad application called FaceTime, which allows users to video chat.
The daughter (my friend) took a screenshot of the man during the chat and posted it to Facebook with the caption: “This idiot either stole or purchased my dad’s stolen iPad and had the nerve to FaceTime my brother & I. If you see him please report him to the IMPD non-emergency line at 317-327-3811. Help me make this punks mug go viral!!! Share & share & share!!! #Thief #idiot #ipad #viral #likeandshare #share #ipadThief #YouStoleFromAPreacher #Indy #Nap #Indianapolis #iCantStandThieves”:
Within hours, the image had been shared 60 times and my friend had received several emails with the suspect’s name, workplace, and shift.
She said, “Dad called the police who said they would only escort him if he saw the guy. He went inside the Shell and immediately saw the guy.” The police accompanied the victim into the gas station and asked him to return the device, which he did.
This is how to use technology and social networks to fight crime! Maybe the NSA could learn a thing or two from this.
In 2008, Al Gore predicted that the entire North Pole Ice cap would be completely gone in five years.
Well, five years have passed and there was still an ice cap at the warmest point of the year. What’s more is that the polar ice cap grew 29 percent over last year.
It make you wonder if there is any accountability with these crazed global warming alarmists. Their scare tactics are freaking people out into a statist solution but according to the data, there is no threat. Yes, global temperatures have risen since the 1980s. But weather models based on the anthropogenic global warming theories have failed to account for stable temps in the past ten years or the dramatic cooling we’ve seen in 2013.
I personally think that global cooling is a more frightening prospect and the alarmists should use that tactic to scare people, but regardless, it’s disconcerting to see such a wide agreement in the scientific community about something that is clearly not valid. It’s confusing too, until you understand that most of the climate-change propagandists get their grant money from governments that stand to benefit from climate-change regulation, what’s called the global warming gravy-train.
Healthcare.gov is an unmitigated disaster. It’s slow, kicks people off, and doesn’t really give the use what he or she wants. Its disastrous failure was no doubt why only six (6) people signed up in the first 24 hours. Oh yeah and it cost the fine taxpayers $634 million dollars to produce. That doesn’t even include the costs for rebuilding it to actually do something worthwhile. Government: 0.
Enter three 20-year-olds with programming skill and a desire to do some good. They took three days to develop theHealthSherpa.com, which basically does exactly what Healthcare.gov should be doing, but for any number of reason is not. And, I almost forgot, they did it with a budget of $0. Free Enterprise: 1.
This is a hilarious example of just how sickeningly inefficient government is compared to the free market. Giving Obama and his cronies the benefit of the doubt by not assuming they want to destroy this country and its health care, Healthcare.gov is a clear example of how worthless government is. theHealthSherpa.com represents the efficiency and effectiveness of a free people in creating helpful products. Free enterprise can do everything that government can do (except for legally harm people), and as we’ve seen here, it can do it exponentially better.
As Jeffrey Tucker said, “The government wants us to live like peasants while the market wants us to live like kings.”
How Does a White Republican Win an Election in a Heavily Black Democrat District? He portrays himself as a black Democrat.
Here’s the story:
It may be a little dodgy to portray one’s self as something one is not but it highlights a serious problem in the democratic system: people vote for people based an any number of ridiculous reasons, not the least of which is skin color. Why would it be wrong for Wilson to portray himself as black if it’s okay to vote for someone just because he’s black?
The system is broken. Kudos to this guy for revealing an aspect of that brokenness.
From the initial premise that forces people to buy something whether they want it or not, to the bizarre defense of that mandate as a tax by the Supreme Court, to the coercion in the HHS mandate that forces employers to buy something against their conscience, to the gutless acquiescence of House Republicans to give in to the hostage threats of the administration, to the repeated lies that Barack Obama told constituents (“If you like your plan you can keep it. Period.”), to the sickening rationalization of those lies by crazed supporters, to the fact that big corporations get exemptions from it but individuals do not, just about everything in the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) makes me sick.
We need to end it before it ends us.
This guy was shocked when he found out that if you give a bunch of people authority to harm people that they actually tend to abuse that authority:
“Our government feels more accountable to those who bankroll their elections than the people they were elected to represent”? Newsflash: that is not a newsflash. It’s nothing new. Wherever there is power, there will be people trying to peddle that power. Our government is corrupt? No kidding. Power corrupts and as we’re seeing more and more, absolute power corrupts absolutely (Acton).
You want to stop corruption? Reign in the authority of government so that wealthy capitalists can’t buy off that power.
Government has one legitimate purpose: to protect the inalienable rights of its citizens. Anything beyond that is contradictory, immoral, and invites the type of crony-capitalism and corruption that this liberal is fighting against. Return government to its only legitimate roll and you won’t have a corruption problem.