Thursday, April 30, 2015


Baltimore burns, the current and most recent example of violent reaction to perceived injustice.  It is not necessary that there is truth or guilt behind the perception in any one particular instance; it is sufficient that there is truth or guilt behind the perceived injustices often enough.  This is sufficient to create the perception.

There is nothing right, moral, or just about indiscriminant looting and violence – let nothing I write here suggest otherwise; yet, the fall into such violence is understandable.  It is a predictable reaction, blowback, to the policies of the right on the one hand and the left on the other.  In the case of the right, the connection is more obvious as it takes little intellectual capacity to connect the dots – the reaction immediately follows the action; in the case of the left, an elementary understanding of economics, incentives, and logic is required – far too much to expect from most, it seems.

The Right

Police can kill with immunity. 

No statement so broad can be always true, yet it is true often enough.  Wearing the badge offers immunity to the gun-bearer.  There are examples of this almost every day, it seems; yet, only a few such incidents draw national attention – and even here, usually only after video evidence in contradiction to the party line is revealed.

Protect the shield, protect the blue line.  It isn’t only within the police departments; what of the prosecutors, what of the judges, what of the law?  All stand silent, at least when not contributing to the cover-up.  No justice, no peace.

Administrative leave or a quiet retirement with full pension.  If punishment is ever meted out, it is such as this.  Not bad work if you can get it.

Occasionally a community will react – see Baltimore.  It isn’t to condone, only to understand: blowback.  There was a statement by one women, one with very poor command of the English language – so poor that one might instantly put her in the category of an uneducated cretan.  Yet, her words were golden – the most die-hard libertarian (too small a minority) or morally-consistent Christian (an even smaller one) would have no trouble agreeing with the justness of her sentiment, which means that she will be ignored by almost everyone.

I paraphrase her statement: The police should be under the same law as the rest of us.

A nation of laws, not men.  What could this mean other than what this insightfully intelligent woman offered?  There was a time when this was true, in the supposedly horrible, dark days of the Middle Ages, when the law was above all, when even the king was below the law with only the duty to uphold the law – nothing more.

The right only offers sentiments such as: obey orders and you won’t get hurt; if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.  Of course, even these admonitions aren’t true – what of the SWAT team breaking down the wrong door?  What of throwing a grenade into a baby’s crib?  Collateral damage.  Cause enough collateral damage and you will get blowback.

Yet, what if the world you live in is one where those you are told to obey often kill with immunity?  What if you have seen this often enough, what if you heard enough stories to make this perception your reality?  In what kind of world is death the penalty for disobeying the one by whom you rightly feel threatened?  It is true in the criminal world.  It was equally true in Stalin’s world.  This is what the right offers. 

I have no idea if death at the hands of the immune is true more often in lower-class black communities than in other communities; however, I suspect if this happened as often in upper-middle-class white communities we would have heard about it – I suspect something would even have been done about it by now.

The Left

Robert Wenzel refers to them as LBJ’s grandkids: those multiple generations who have grown up since the mid-sixties without fathers, without role models, without jobs, without hope, without incentive to improve.  Fruits from the loins of LBJ’s Great Society.  Income guaranteed for proof of feminine fertility and masculine virility, without the need for responsibility. 

On top of this, little chance for legal, introductory employment due to minimum wage requirements.  When legal employment is out of reach, other opportunities are secured.  Peddling drugs is one such option; drug laws have overly impacted (or have been overly enforced against) minority communities, further removing father figures from their responsibilities – victimless crimes resulting in incarceration rates higher than anywhere else on earth.

LBJ isn’t alone with his bone offered to the left in order to have a free hand in prosecuting the genocide of millions of Vietnamese; there is no shortage of voices calling for compassion for those who have had hard times pour down upon their heads.  Compassion with your money, not theirs; compassion with your money whether you want to contribute or not.  Compassion poured down to the point of ensuring the drowning of those being compassioned upon.

Life without consequence or responsibility; one generation after another with this life offered as the model – always another lost generation.  The idea of respect for property and life is lost on those who are able to obtain property and life with no effort necessary – with pay raises offered for promiscuity.

Property without effort results in no respect for property.  Life without effort results in no respect for life.  Two plus two equals four; no respect for property or life results in looting and death.

Don’t point to individual cases of the small handful that have found a way to break out of this hell that the left has created for them – there are always exceptions to expected outcomes for every incentive system.  However, incentives have a way of achieving – far more often than not – that which they incentivize.


The right demands order and compliance, hence police are free to kill with immunity; the left demands compassion with your money, hence generations grow without any comprehension of the idea of respect for property and life, no knowledge of how to productively contribute to society.

There is nothing surprising about Baltimore.  Blowback.  Actions have consequences.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Stupid Libertarian

Laurence Vance has a very good piece at LRC, “I’m Sick of It.”  He begins with a typical email he receives whenever he writes of his views of the military – and especially his views of those who join.  Vance offers a wonderfully thorough rejoinder. 

There are one or two comments from the subject email worth noting:

I’ve been a dedicated libertarian for nearly four decades, but I’m getting close to stop using LRC as one of my main sources of information.

What is the specific complaint of this “dedicated libertarian”?

Your misplaced hatred of the military is disgusting. I think we can agree that the mission of the U.S. military has been misused and abused all too often by just about every POTUS, and THAT is where your hostility should voice itself. Not on the individuals, who are UNDER CONTRACT, and are REQUIRED BY LAW to go wherever they’re sent.

You are obviously an otherwise intelligent and educated man. So GROW UP AND BLAME THOSE WHO ARE TRULY RESPONSIBLE.

This writer is a stupid libertarian.  He openly offers that “just about every POTUS” has “misused and abused” the military, hence this is where Vance should direct his anger.  Not toward those “who are UNDER CONTRACT, and are REQUIRED BY LAW to go wherever they are sent,” but against those who send them.  Vance should “GROW UP AND BLAME THOSE WHO ARE TRULY RESPONSIBLE.”

For most of the four decades that this stupid libertarian has been a libertarian, not one soldier was drafted into forced service (the morality of action regarding those drafted is not necessary to address in this environment).   Any “CONTRACT” has been entered into voluntarily. 

I believe I am on safe ground in suggesting that virtually every single member of the US military today has joined voluntarily – during the same period where “just about every POTUS” has “misused and abused” the military.

They join, even though they know – or should know – that they will be asked to serve in immoral wars; killing people who have never presented a threat to Americans.  After all, this is what POTUS has done for decades – as correctly noted in the email.

So, who is “responsible” in this scheme?  Can you blame the criminal boss if people willingly sign up to break a few bones?  Are the volunteers to be left blameless?

Volunteers for a criminal gang for some reason cannot be blamed for decisions made by the gang leader – according to this libertarian; decisions consistent with what the gang leader has decided for decades – according to this “dedicated libertarian.”  Nothing new, nothing surprising.

Does blame belong on POTUS?  Certainly.  But there is no monopoly of blame here.  Vance is placing blame where it belongs – on those who commit the acts, voluntarily.

Stupid libertarian.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Fall of Rome: Condensed Version

Look, I hope you aren’t expecting a six-volume masterpiece….

Davis summarizes the reasons for the fall (actually a slow, grinding, gradual decline) of Rome into four:

…by the beginning of the fifth century the Roman Empire had been suffering from economic decline for at least two centuries.

…the Romans were already being “barbarized.”

…the barbarians were already becoming Romanized

…the precise manner in which the barbarian settlements were made.

I will expand on one of these: the economic decline.  Let’s just say it is expensive to run an empire.

The primary cause of the economic decline was that the Roman economy had become unproductive.  Wealth was gathered via conquest; the people ate free corn from Africa and Sicily, selling nothing in return.  The chief trade was money lending.  When the frontier of empire could not be further extended, growth in this manner stalled – the unproductive Romans ran out of productive to consume.

What is one to do in such a situation?  Debase, debase, and then debase some more, of course.  The decline was long and slow, lasting not for decades but for centuries: from a silver denarius to a silver-washed bronze coin – maintaining, relative to gold, one fortieth of its value.

There was no crash; there was no collapse; there was (apparently) no hyper-inflation.  Just a slow burn.  The single-most important commodity in support of the division of labor was being mistreated, and the commodity just went along for the ride.

The wealthy bought land – it could not be debased; they moved from towns to the country – unknown at the time, but a necessary building block for future medieval life. 

Further, the population in any case was declining; Davis says the reasons are not explained.  However, he describes a system implemented by the government where sons were allowed only to take the profession of the father and marry daughters of others in the same profession.  It isn’t difficult to imagine some might consider striking out for adventure elsewhere in such a scheme.

Rome continually made concessions of land to the barbarians in order to buy peace.  I recall reading elsewhere that free Roman citizens voluntarily gave themselves to slavery to landowners given the life they faced in Rome; it was to both these barbarian landowners and the Romans who previously move to landed estates that they offered themselves.

Bit by bit, perhaps unnoticeable day-to-day or year-to-year, from all angles, the Empire was declining.  Once the barbarians gained access to the Mediterranean, the entire Empire was doomed – control of the Mediterranean (along with the need for continual expansion) was the Roman Empire.

It wasn’t a fall, as in collapse; instead, a decline over an extended period of time.  It takes a long time to fully consume the wealth produced over centuries.  Of course, Rome continued in the East, in Constantinople, for another 800 years or more.  But in Europe, Rome as Rome came to an end.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What About Romans 13?

I have decided to take a break from Bloodlands; after writing about such devastation and hell for several weeks – and adding to that my recent post about the Armenian Genocide – I felt the desire to get away from this most cruel history for a time.  What a rotten century for so many people.

I decided to revisit a book I have read once before – not for the purpose of offering a detailed series of reviews, but just to read.  Something of a lighter nature; a topic not so bloody, not so depressing. 

Yes, the Middle Ages.  In many ways a much brighter period than the supposedly more enlightened twentieth century.

I have written somewhat extensively about the Middle Ages; in terms of law, culture, technology, etc., there is much to be said that is positive of this period – certainly relative to the stereotypical view.  I have cited Davis’s book in one or two of those posts, but never reviewed this book directly.

I am not going to do so now, either.  However, when I come across interesting tidbits, I cannot help but want to capture these.  In order to allow myself to keep my reading of this book relatively light while at the same time relieving myself of the burden of wanting to note certain items, I will offer short posts as I go along.

Again, these will not be extensive reviews; some posts may be little more than the citing of a passage, or comparing and contrasting a passage to something I have written before.

With all of that as preamble, here is something from the book for Laurence Vance: the case is that of one “Andronicus,” an early fourth-century Christian martyr:

There are two accounts of their martyrdom, the first account being held by Thierry Ruinart (Acta Martyrum, ed. Ratisbon, 448 sq.) to be entirely authentic. According to these Acts, Tarachus (ca. 239- 304), a Roman who was a native of Claudiopolis in Isauria and a former soldier, the plebeian Probus of Side in Pamphylia, and the patrician Andronicus, who belonged to a prominent family of Ephesus, were tried by the governor Numerian Maximus and horribly tortured three times in various cities, including Tarsus, Mopsuestia, and Anazarbus of Cilicia.

From Davis:

The magistrate had had the bread and meat of sacrifice thrust into Andronicus’s mouth so that he should not have to pay the penalty of martyrdom.

Apparently, Roman law required the citizens to eat the bread and meat sacrificed to Roman gods.  These three Christians would not do this; the magistrate even trying to force it upon them during the torture.

Andronicus did not react kindly or thankfully to this act.  Snyder quotes from JB Firth, Constantine the Great, published in 1905:

‘May you be punished, bloody tyrant, both you and those who have given you power to defile me with your impious sacrifices!’ shouted Andronicus.  ‘One day you will know what you have done to the servants of God.’ 

‘Accursed scoundrel,’ replied the magistrate, ‘do you dare to curse the emperors who have given the world such long and profound peace?’ 

‘I have cursed them and I will curse them,’ was the reply, ‘these public scourges, these drinkers of blood that have turned the world upside-down.’

I guess a Roman “global force for good” was insufficient reason for Andronicus to offer his worship.  Instead, Andronicus had further choice words when questioned and threatened by the governor:

Maximus: Adore the gods, and obey the emperors, who are our fathers and masters.

Andronicus: The devil is your father while you do his works.

Andronicus did not interpret Romans 13 the way many Christians do today – “obey your emperor” no matter the “devil” that is his father.

Maximus: If you had but the least sense of piety, you would sacrifice to the gods whom the emperors so religiously worship.

Andronicus: That is not piety, but impiety to abandon the true God, and worship marble.

“Religiously worship” marble: the troops and the flag.  Andronicus would have none of that nonsense and blasphemy.  Keep in mind, all of this is happening while Andronicus is being physical tortured.

Maximus: My authority shall not be baffled by you.

Andronicus: Nor shall it ever be said that the cause of Jesus Christ is vanquished by your authority.

What?  There goes that Romans 13 thing again, right out the window.

Maximus: Do not expect to die at once. I will keep you alive till the time of the shows, that you may see your limbs devoured one after another by cruel beasts.

Andronicus: You are more inhuman than the tigers, and more insatiable with blood than the most barbarous murderers.

There was a time when the cost of speaking truth to power for a Christian was death.  This is true nowhere in the West today, to my knowledge.  Yet almost every so-called Christian leader avoids confronting the evil of the state; even worse, many fully and whole-heartedly support this evil.

Cowards and blasphemers.

Constantine became Christian – a Christian Emperor of Rome.  In doing so, he took a step that changed Europe fundamentally, a step that ultimately ensured European culture would survive and thrive during the Middle Ages – likely avoiding what would otherwise have been properly labeled a Dark Age after the fall of Rome.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Walter Block on a Sinking Ship

Robert Wenzel ran a post at Target Liberty, “Walter Block Endorses Rand Paul.”  In it, he references a Facebook post that Block wrote regarding his endorsement.  I commented at the Target Liberty site, and also post my comment below:


Well, at least Walter didn’t tell Ron Paul to “shut up” in this post….

I read Block’s entire Facebook post and wonder…why does Block feel the need to endorse anyone?  Why bother?  A “60” on the Block scale is worthy of endorsement? 

Previously, I gave Rand a mark of 70 on my own personal libertarian-o-meter….But, thanks to Rand’s changes of policy, typically in a direction away from libertarian purity, I have demoted him to a 60. By the way, no other Republican candidate gets more than a 30…

Why qualify your statement with “typically”?

Look, when Rand first was running for senate, he got a 90.  Now “demoted” from 70 to 60.  Just wait, Walter – by the time all is said and done, Rand won’t score better than 35 – then what will you say?  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me 7,498 times…well, then what, Walter?

The more money donated to his cause, the longer he can endure in this venture. So, I urge my fellow libertarians to not only financially contribute to his candidacy but to offer him any and all support they can.

Do something productive toward actual liberty with your support and money; give it to the Mises Institute.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Genocide by Any Other Name….

Raphael Lemkin coined the term in 1944:

Genocide is the systematic destruction of all or a significant part of a racial, ethnic, religious or national group.

The UN defines genocide as:

…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

                               (a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Lemkin was asked how he came to be interested in the crime of genocide. He replied:

I became interested in genocide because it happened so many times. It happened to the Armenians, then after the Armenians, Hitler took action.

April 24 is the date Armenians commemorate their genocide.  This year will mark 100 years.

The Armenian Genocide…was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects inside their historic homeland which lies within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople.

In addition to the historic tragedy, a review of this episode offers the opportunity to witness in real-time the impact of realpolitik on the writing and interpretation of history – a peek behind the curtains of the development of myth and the obfuscation of truth.  

Therefore, I will first review the tragic history, followed by a review of the current dialogue – greatly in the news now due to the aforementioned 100 year anniversary.

The History

I have this book on my shelf, to be read.  The end of the Great War saw the end of several European empires; I have yet to do much work regarding the Ottoman.  I am not ready to start through the book, however, given the upcoming commemoration of the Armenian Genocide – as well as my recent posts on the Ukrainian Famines and Jewish Holocaust, putting me in the mood, I guess – I decided to take it off of the shelf and read (and comment on) chapter 7, “The Annihilation of the Armenians.”

I offer the following high-level and superficial summary leading up to this period: By 1915, the Ottoman Empire was a fraction of its former self – most of the European portion now independent or under authority of the Austro-Hungarians, central Asia either to Russia or Persia, much of the Middle East and North Africa under control of primarily either the British or Italians, the French are in there somewhere.  Meanwhile, some factions of the Armenian minorities in what remained of Ottoman-controlled lands were agitating for more control, looking to European powers to aid in the quest for independence.

In other words, things weren’t going well for any Ottoman concerned with hanging on to any portion of past glories.  It is worth keeping in mind while considering subsequent events: the Armenians were seen by the Turks as an existential threat to what little remained of the Ottoman state – a meaningless “threat” unless one views the state as a god. 

And then, the Great War as practiced in the Near East:

By the spring of 1915, the Ottomans faced invasion on three fronts.  Since their conquest of the Basra region of southern Iraq in the final months of 1914, Anglo-Indian troops had poised a grave threat at the southern gates of the Ottoman Empire.  In the east, the Ottoman Third Army was in total disarray in the aftermath of Enver Pasha’s ill-conceived Sarakamiş campaign against the Russians in December 1914 and January 1915.  To the west, British and French fleets had mounted sustained attacks against the Dardanelles, and Allied infantry had managed to secure several beachheads on both sides of the straits.

What remained of the empire was under threat:

There were good grounds for the panic that swept the imperial capital in March 1915.  The empire’s collapse appeared eminent.

The Armenians were located primarily in what today is eastern Turkey (“Western Armenia” to some Armenians; a loaded term for Turks) – right on the lines of the failed battles with the Russians.  There were also Armenians in Russia (“Eastern Armenia” to some Armenians).  Armenians from Russia fought against the Turks, and some portion of Armenians from eastern Turkey joined their further-eastern brethren, or at least supported them.

The divided loyalties of some Armenians had turned all Armenians in the eyes of many Turks.  The Young Turk leadership began to contemplate permanent solutions to the “Armenian problem.”

…when, in the spring of 1915, the Young Turks declared the entire Ottoman Armenian population a dangerous fifth column, the Unionists even mobilized average citizens to assist in their annihilation.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bennie and the Debts

I read John Mauldin’s weekly missives; he excels at providing information from many influential economists, analysts and policy makers.  I don’t often agree with much of what I read, but I have found it worth reading – it helps to know what the movers and shakers think, and it is always good to gather different views.

This week, his Outside the Box is entitled “Germany’s Trade Surplus Is a Problem.”  After his introduction, he offers a selection from Ben Bernanke’s new blog.  It is Bernanke who has written about Germany’s problematic trade surplus.

As I always must when commenting on macro-economic subjects, I offer the caveat: the entire concept of macro-economics as practiced in the mainstream is farcical. 

In this specific case, what is so special about a national trade balance?  Why not a county trade balance, or a city trade balance, or a neighborhood trade balance?  Individuals buy and sell; every moment some will be in surplus and others will be in deficit.  Yet every trade adds value to both parties; this can’t even be measured.

If I, as an individual, am constantly in surplus (meaning a positive net worth or net income), many would consider this a good thing; I produce more than I consume – and what I save is available for the investment necessary to increase productivity, hence increase the standard of living.  If I constantly run a deficit, a wise counselor would suggest I am the one with a problem, and should change my ways.

But not at the national level, where life is viewed through the looking glass.  It requires a Ph.D., apparently, to achieve the sophistication of Mongo: surplus bad, deficit good. 

First, I start with Mauldin’s introduction (emphasis added):

In Code Red I wrote a great deal about trade imbalances among the various European countries, which were at the heart of the European sovereign debt problem. As the peripheral countries have tried to rebalance their trade deficits with Northern Europe and especially with Germany, they have seen their relative wages fall and deflation become a problem. Greece is the poster child.

Please keep that italicized part in mind.

…Woody Brock met me over at Ocean Prime for some fish and wisdom. Woody is simply one of the smartest economists on the planet and knows the gamut of the literature as well as anyone. “It’s the incentive structure that is the driver,” he told me… (emphasis added)

Please keep that italicized part in mind.  I will just say for now, he should have listened to Woody.

Everyone responds to incentives, no matter what the country or type of government. Setting incentives to maximize entrepreneurial activity will produce the most growth and jobs. (emphasis added)

Please keep that italicized part…oh, never mind.  You get the idea by now.

Of course, it is always a balancing act.

What balancing act?  When it comes to “setting” (who will do the setting?) incentive structures, what balancing act?

You have to produce to consume: you have to work to eat.  Isn’t this the ultimate incentive structure?  How much more balanced do you want?  Can there be more?  For those who want to do the setting, I have a suggestion: butt out.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


In the world of alternative history, there seems to be one topic above all topics sure to raise the blood pressure.  I do not mean the world where a revisionist interpretation is raised in a mainstream venue – say something regarding the criminality of Lincoln or FDR, and prepare for incoming.  No, I mean when the revisionists are gathered together; you know, just amongst us girls.


There are two main themes of controversy of this topic:

1)      The Jews did it: everything bad that has happened in the history of the world is one big Jewish plot.  Of course I exaggerate the alternative narrative, but not very much.
2)      The Jews didn’t have it done to them: the holocaust never happened.  On this, I don’t exaggerate the alternative narrative; well, maybe a smidge.

This post is a review of the section from Snyder’s book regarding the treatment of Jews in Europe during the Second World War.  Therefore, it presents a version of history on the topic of the second point above.  It is a long post; I want to deal with this can of worms only once – at least for this go-round.

I cannot begin this review without first addressing this issue: is the generally accepted narrative of the holocaust accurate – six million Jews purposely murdered by the Nazis specifically because they were Jews, many in gas chambers? 

My short answer?  I don’t know.  I have never studied this question in detail.  On my list of topics to study, this has not yet risen to the top; it might someday, but not today – I am here today only because of my interest in the horrendous time and place that was Central and Eastern Europe during the intersection of two tyrants: i.e. Snyder’s book.  You want a can of worms?  Take a look at this.  Or this, with an examination of many of the revisionist / denialist claims.  Where to start?

My long answer?  Bear with me.

I am quite confident in stating that millions of Jews died in Europe during the war years.  There was something like 9 – 10 million Jews living in Europe, and most of these in the regions most devastated by war.  Unless Jews were miraculously spared bullets, bombs, starvation, rape, forced marches, forced labor, etc., I suspect Jews died – and died in the millions.

Beyond this, were Jews specifically targeted because they were Jews?  Not a situation of Jews targeted because they were bankers, or Bolsheviks, or partisans, or Poles, or Belarusians.  But Jews targeted because they were Jews.  There seems to be sufficient evidence of this – statements by Hitler and many in the Nazi hierarchy offer not only intent, but results; they certainly had the means and opportunity.  In my limited reading, there appears to be sufficient witness testimony. 

I am open to being educated on this, but given what I have read, it seems to me that Jews were killed because they were Jews.

Were they gassed?  Were they shot?  Were they starved?  Does it matter?  Not to me.

After this, all that is left is a debate about numbers.  One murder is criminal enough; once you get to numbers that could populate a small city, it is horrific and, if aimed at a particular ethnic group, genocidal.  That the mainstream narrative suggests the numbers are significantly higher doesn’t change the nature of the crime.  In my limited reading, I am comfortable with the notion that the number purposely targeted and murdered was sufficient to be meaningful.

This summarizes my practical-logical analysis of the topic.  What of the history?  For this, I will offer my earlier reply to being questioned on this topic:


The only meaningful comment I can make is based on the following two cites. First, from “1939 – The War That Had Many Fathers,” by Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof:

“In the Transition Treaty (Überleitungsvertrag) of 1954, Article 7 (1), it is bindingly laid down that “all judgments (Urteile) from the Nuremberg Trials “remain valid and effective in every regard according to German law and are to be treated accordingly by German courts and authorities.” Included, as an integral part, in the text of the judgments of the main Nuremberg Trial of 1946 is an exactly 200 pages long account of the German war and pre-war history from the perspective of the Soviets, the Americans, the British and the French….this account of “German history” from the victors’ perspective was recognized by the (German) Federal Government as “in all respects valid and effective” (rechtswirksam und rechtskräftig) and thus binding for German courts and authorities.”

When the telling of history is dictated by law, it is certain to be a false history. Truth does not need law to protect it.

Second, from “Advance to Barbarism,” by FJP Veale:

The subject is the Nuremberg Trials – the source of German-history-dictated-by-law. I cannot offer a simple summary – if you are interested, read the piece. To make a long story short, the trials were set up for political expediency, with no intent to reach justice, only the intent to minimize friction amongst Stalin (who would have preferred to simply put bullets in the heads of 50,000 German officers, with no more formality than that done during the Great Terror) and Churchill (who felt the British people would never stand for Stalin’s barbaric solution).

I put these two together and conclude: it is safe to hold as a starting point that every “fact” we have been taught about this history is false. This might not be always a good assumption, but I am learning it is right more than not.


But just how false a history is protected by law (or political correctness, a more significant restraint on many)?  My conclusion, putting together my practical-logical view and my understanding of the history:  Jews were killed for being Jews; this likely happened in large, even meaningful numbers.  Beyond this, the details – the methods, the numbers – are up for grabs in this mosquito brain.

My personal caution: I will be quite certain before coming to a conclusion that denies this history; treading on this memory without certainty is a step I will never take. 

Therefore, I present the story as Snyder presents it.  There may be debate about the numbers; there may be debate about the methods.  However, unless I find something definitive and convincing to the contrary, it seems to me to be certain that large numbers of Jews were killed by the Nazis because they were Jews.

Now that I have alienated both the believers and the deniers, let’s move forward…

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Festival of All the Freedom Government Will Allow

If it is approaching summer, it is time once again for Pseudo-Freedom Fest – the annual festival organized by Mark Skousen. 

There is no doubt that Skousen plays a part – the allowable boundary for the one “extreme” called freedom.  I have written enough about Skousen’s role and views in the past – I will not repeat any of this here.  For those interested, my first commentary on Skousen’s views can be found here; and this on last year’s Freedom Fest (including a nice little back and forth with Daily Bell, in this case unable to avoid running into a conflict of interest that hindered journalistic integrity).

So I will not repeat any of this.  I have not, however, looked specifically into Skousen himself – his background, training, etc.  I have heard he is an Austrian economist, and has written a textbook on this subject.  Maybe I am wrong on this (a search at LvMI turns up several items).  But, what else?

Skousen was an economic analyst for the CIA from 1972 to 1975.


Skousen served as president of the free market nonprofit Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) from 2001 to 2002.

Skousen's brief tenure as president of FEE ended on a controversial note when he resigned in late 2002 at the request of the organization's Board of Trustees. This move followed Skousen's decision to invite, as keynote speaker for FEE's annual Liberty Banquet, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani proved to be an extremely unpopular choice among many of the organization's board members as well as several prominent libertarians.


An almost idealistic proponent of liberty and political freedom…

Idealistic?  Not based on anything I have seen or read. 

Back to the upcoming festival; I only want to point to the headline draw, the first item mentioned in promotion of this event of freedom (emphasis in original):


We’ve just confirmed the Dream Debate of the Century — Paul Krugman, #1 Keynesian and top New York Times columnist, will face off Heritage’s chief economist Steve Moore, #1 supply sider and Wall Street Journal columnist.

 A Keynesian vs. a supply-sider: I am unable to identify which of these two debaters, in this “Dream Debate of the Century” is debating on the side of freedom.  I will assume you all know Krugman.  What about Steve Moore?

Moore spent ten years as a fellow of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. Moore was the senior economist of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee under Chairman Dick Armey of Texas, where Moore "was instrumental in creating the FairTax proposal.

Cato, Fair Tax, Dick Armey – nothing indicating freedom.  He is currently with Heritage – conservative, yes; freedom?

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

No freedom here.  Standard “make government efficient” rhetoric (we see how well that’s played out over the years) along with a bomb-them-all foreign policy.

So, I guess Krugman will represent the pro-freedom viewpoint in this debate.

Back to the “Dream Debate of the Century”:

Krugman and Moore have been taking shots at each other for years, and now they will finally meet on stage, one on one, to battle it out on the hot issues of the day:  Red States vs. Blue States (especially California)….Flat Tax vs. Progressive Tax….Austerity vs Stimulus….Inequality vs. Growth… ….Market Healthcare vs. ObamaCare….Inflation vs. Deflation….Easy Money vs. Deficit Spending…Market Capitalism (USA) vs. State Capitalism (China)….and many more topics vital to our theme “How Can We Best Restore the American Dream?

Note that Skousen is telling you the limits of the acceptable dialogue:

·        Red States vs. Blue States: you must buy into one or the other.
·        Flat Tax vs. Progressive Tax: what about no tax?
·        Easy Money vs. Deficit Spending: I don’t even know what to make of this.
·        Market Capitalism (USA) vs. State Capitalism (China): Because having markets any more free than you might find in one of these two places in not possible.

Finally, to the theme of the entire festival: “How Can We Best Restore the American Dream?”  I don’t know about the American Dream.  I do have some understanding about freedom.  I am certain one will never restore freedom if freedom is never discussed.

Skousen’s role with Freedom Fest is to ensure that actual freedom is not discussed; that the term is so muddied that any consideration of the concept is not possible as there will be no word for it.