After two fair and lengthy hearings, the eight elected members of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, in a 4-4 tie vote on March 5, refused to confirm attorney Joseph Berman to be a Superior Court judge. It was a defeat for Governor Deval Patrick, who had nominated Mr. Berman. But the Council took its responsibilities seriously and rendered a well-considered judgment.
Councilors voiced many concerns about the nominee. Foremost was a lack of truthfulness.
Berman, under oath, was asked three times whether he had requested anyone to lobby the Council to advance his nomination. Each time, he replied no.
Later, after some stumbling, he admitted to another Councilor that he had phoned State Senator – now Congresswoman – Katherine Clark to lobby Councilors.
Mr. Berman’s meager criminal trial experience also troubled Councilors. Another concern was Berman’s scant knowledge of drug abuse. And some worried that Berman, politically active and a national leader in the heavily political Anti-Defamation League (ADL), would promote those viewpoints as a judge.
Several Councilors questioned Berman’s $100,000 in campaign contributions, including to Governor Patrick, since being turned down for a judgeship in 2004. They saw this as a possible attempt to advance his judicial ambitions.
At his second hearing, Mr. Berman tried to deflect these criticisms. He claimed, for example, to have misunderstood the Councilors’ questions about lobbying them. He also said he had been studying up on drug addiction and criminal law.
Berman’s being a 19-year member, and since 2006 a National Commissioner, of the ADL also caught the attention of some Councilors and media.
Recall the ADL scandal that broke out in mid-2007. It exposed that organization’s decades-old hypocrisy in denying the Armenian genocide and colluding directly with Turkey, a major human rights violator, to defeat U.S. Congressional resolutions on that genocide.
Shocked at the ADL’s stance, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, which represents every city and town, then dropped its sponsorship of the ADL’s so-called “No Place for Hate” anti-bias program. So did Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Lexington, Medford, Needham, Newburyport, Newton, Northampton, Peabody, Somerville, Watertown, and Westwood. The ADL scandal quickly became national and international news.
Naturally, the Governor’s Council quizzed Berman about his ADL leadership role. He claimed that after the scandal erupted in 2007 he and some New England ADL members tried to convince the National ADL to change its position on the Armenian genocide. But there is no hard proof of that. And surely Berman knew long before 2007 of the ADL’s anti-Armenian stance. Yet he never spoke out publicly or resigned. Even after 2007, Mr. Berman remained publicly silent about the ADL’s indefensible assault on Armenian Americans.
Alongside the Council’s other concerns, Berman’s ADL record raised doubts about his worthiness to be a judge.
On August 21, 2007, the National ADL tried to squirm out of the scandal with a press release that used deceptive and legalistic wording about the Armenian genocide. It implied that the Armenian genocide was a mere “consequence” of wartime events, which meant it wouldn’t qualify as genocide under the United Nation’s official definition. The dishonest ADL declaration was widely rejected.
Nearly 20 countries, such as Canada, France, and Argentina, the European Union Parliament, the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and the Polish Jewish lawyer who coined the word “genocide” in the 1940s, Raphael Lemkin, have recognized the Armenian genocide of 1915 -23 committed by Turkey.
Many American human rights, ethnic, and church organizations have supported the Armenian genocide resolution. These include the American Jewish World Service and the Jewish War Veterans of the USA.
But not the ADL nor, reports the Jewish media, the American Jewish Committee, AIPAC, and B’nai B’rith. They adhere to a long-standing arrangement among themselves, Turkey, and Israel to deny the Armenian genocide. See “History of Lobbying” at NoPlaceForDenial.com.
The ADL professes to defend the human rights of all ethnic groups, not just Jews. It insists that the American people acknowledge and pass legislation on the Holocaust. Yet the ADL tries to prevent recognition of a Christian genocide. The hypocrisy is astonishing.
Meanwhile, a significant precedent has been created: Members of the ADL, or similar organizations, who aspire to a higher post, particularly in government, may now be asked what they knew of their organization’s genocide hypocrisy, when they knew it, and what they did about it. Such are the bitter fruits of deceit.
Imagine you go overseas and give a speech advocating a cause, only to come home and find you’re being sued for “crimes against humanity.” No, what you did wasn’t illegal under American law or under the laws of the nation in which you expressed your words.
You’re being sued under international law.
And here’s the kicker: Your case will be adjudicated by an American court.
Foreign law in a U.S. court?
This is precisely what befell Massachusetts native Pastor Scott Lively after he gave some speeches critical of homosexuality in Uganda and elsewhere. The suit was filed on behalf of activist group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMU) by an organization with the temerity to call itself the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) (emphasis added). The legal action is based on, wrote The New York Times in 2012, “the alien tort statute, which allows foreigners to sue in American courts in situations asserting the violation of international law.” SMU claims that Lively incited “the persecution of gay men and lesbians in Uganda,” wrote the Times.
Lively’s speechmaking hit the radar screen because the Ugandan parliament recently passed a law broadening the criminalization of homosexual activity; moreover, the pastor has also spoken in Russia, whose new law against homosexual activism has figured prominently in the reportage on the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Yet this isn’t — or shouldn’t be — about what Lively did or didn’t say; it’s not about the particular. It’s about the principle:
American courts can adjudicate cases of American citizens sued under law (international law) that the people’s representatives did not in any way enact. Thus, Americans can conceivably be punished under legislation that they had not even an indirect hand in creating.
This is adjudication without representation.
This is an issue because last August federal judge Michael A. Ponsor rejected a motion to dismiss the Lively case filed by the pastor’s lawyers, instead allowing it to proceed to the discovery phase. This is despite the fact that, as activist group Mass Resistance reported, the judge “told the CCR lawyer that he is ‘struggling to see actionable behavior’ in anything Lively did or said, and that he can’t see that any of Lively’s conduct that [sic] amounts to ‘persecution’ or ‘conspiracy.’” Nonetheless, upon issuing his 79-page ruling, writes Mass Resistance, the judge accepted “all of the points raised by the [George] Soros-backed plaintiffs” and denied “all of the points raised by Lively’s lawyers.”
Again, though, this isn’t about the facts of any particular case. It’s about using extra-constitutional means to trump Americans’ constitutional rights; it’s about seeking to use international laws and philosophy regarding “hate speech” to circumvent Americans’ First Amendment right to free speech.
Even staunch faux-marriage proponent and committed liberal Jonathan Rauch recognizes the danger. As he wrote in a Feb. 3 Washington Post editorial, “On the facts as I read them, the plaintiff’s theory would leave no clear line between speaking one’s mind and engaging in a criminal conspiracy, at least if speaking one’s mind could be plausibly connected to some bad outcome. That theory seems very easy to abuse.”
That’s the understatement of the year. Most any opinion could perhaps be connected to a bad outcome, and a multitude of opinions plausibly so. Did Barack Obama’s post-Trayvon Martin shooting statement, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” help spark the revenge attacks on whites that occurred after the event? Could Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) and other eco-terrorists have been influenced by the rhetoric of Al Gore and other environmentalists? And what about the constant racial grievance-mongering of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? The fact is this: everyone who does evil was influenced by someone.
Moreover, even the expression of the most highly esteemed ideas can lead to negative outcomes (which, if the ideas are actually valid, are generally greatly outweighed by the positive ones). Will liberals consider ceasing environmental activism just because a McDonald’s, a fur store and medical-research laboratories were once firebombed? And warning of pedophilia — as I did in a soon-to-be-published piece on rampant child sex abuse in Hollywood — is always a good work. But what if someone reads my piece and then, enraged, attacks an entertainment figure or sets fire to a production studio? Should I be legally liable?
The Lively case is only different in that the pastor engaged in unfashionable activism. And it’s easy to see what placing Americans at the mercy of “international law” can lead to. Consider a short list of activities that could one day, under the CCR’s conception of the alien tort statute (ATS), result in Americans being tried by American courts using international law:
- Christian evangelization, even in a nation where the majority welcomed it: evangelization is illegal in certain places and frowned upon in many others. If Christianity falls into even greater disfavor in the future, spreading the faith could come to be viewed as an invidious “imposition of values.”
- Giving a speech on what you view as the dangers of Islam in front of even a receptive foreign parliament: hate-speech laws prohibiting many types of criticism of Islam already abound in the West.
The above is absolutely possible — all we’d need is for the social winds to blow in the right (or wrong) direction.
And what of this ATS? It was enacted way back in 1789, possibly in an attempt to appease the British after they threatened to retaliate for states’ refusal to satisfy British creditors, as provided for in the treaty ending the American Revolution. This is perhaps why courts based jurisdiction on the ATS only twice between 1789 and 1980. Not surprisingly, however, it has been expanded since ‘80, with judges struggling to determine what is applicable under it. My suggestion?
End the struggle by rescinding the ATS.
Little good comes from ambiguous laws that will continually be interpreted and reinterpreted by an ever shape-shifting judiciary. And these laws almost always benefit the left. After all, conservative judges tend to be originalists who vote based on the law and put their personal beliefs aside, so they generally won’t use ambiguous legislation to advance traditionalism. Leftist judges, however, are relativists who often believe the end justifies the means, and ambiguous law is a favored vehicle through which they can impose their values from the bench.
I don’t think the SMU/CCR will prevail in their case against Lively — not now, anyway. But with many American judges today having the mentality of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who once told a liberal attorneys’ group that the law profession “must start looking for inspiration beyond our borders, to the laws and constitutions of other nations,” the ability to consider international law when adjudicating should be strictly prohibited. If some foreign statute truly is a good idea, it’s up to the people to enact it through their representatives. No adjudication without representation.
Everywhere I go, I meet people who seem to believe that it’s all over, that there is no hope, that freedom is forever doomed. The doom and gloomers are omnipresent. But there is a great line in the newest version of the movie “Red Dawn” that should help put it all in perspective. One of the freedom fighters says, “I’m still breathing so, it’s not over.” I love that line. I feel exactly the same way.
There is no question that the forces of globalism and socialism have pretty much had their way over the past few decades. And with very few exceptions, we don’t have a lot of allies in Washington, D.C., and in most State capitals. For that matter, we don’t have a lot of allies on Wall Street or in most classrooms. But that doesn’t mean that it’s over: not by a long shot.
Freedom didn’t have a majority in 1775 and 1776, either. I doubt that one could find any time in history when the proponents of liberty were ever in a majority. Sam Adams may have said it best when he said, “It does not take a majority to prevail…but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”
However, there is one thing that Colonial America had that modern America doesn’t have: a patriot pulpit. The pulpits of Colonial America were ablaze with the fire of liberty. Colonial clergymen of every Christian denomination explained, extolled, enlightened, expounded, and elucidated the Natural Biblical principles of liberty from their pulpits continuously. Remember that it was mostly the men of Pastor Jonas Clark’s congregation at the Church of Lexington that stood armed on Lexington Green against British troops in the wee morning hours of April 19, 1775, and fired the shot heard ’round the world.
Publisher and historian Gerald Nordskog writes these words about Jonas Clark: “As the pastor of the church at Lexington, he typically gave four sermons a week, written out and orally presented–nearly 2200 sermons in his lifetime. His preaching was vigorous in style, animated in manner, instructive in matter, and delivered with uncommon energy and zeal, with an agreeable and powerful voice. His sermons were rarely less than an hour, often more.”
Nordskog continues, “It can be regarded only as a singularly happy circumstance that, as Lexington was to be the place where resistance to the power of England was first to occur, and the great act of a declaration of war first to be made by the act of the people in the blood to be there shed, making the place forever famous in history, the minister of Lexington should have been a man of the principles, character, courage, and energy of Mr. Clark.
“It can be regarded he was eminently a man produced by the times–more than equal to them; rather a guide and leader. All his previous life, his preaching, his intercourse and conversation among his people had been but a continued and most effectual preparation for the noble stand taken by his people on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775. The militia on the Common that morning were the same who filled the pews of the meetinghouse on the Sunday morning before, and the same who hung upon the rear of the retreating enemy in the forenoon and throughout the day. They were only carrying the preaching of many previous years into practice.
“It would not be beyond the truth to assert that there was no person at that time and in that vicinity–not only no clergyman but no other person of whatever calling or profession, who took a firmer stand for the liberties of the country or was more ready to perform the duties and endure the sacrifices of a patriot, than the minister of Lexington.
“When the struggle actually commenced, the people were ready for it, thoroughly acquainted with the reasons on which the duty of resistance was founded, and prepared to discharge the duty at every hazard. No population within the compass of the Colonies were better prepared for the events of the 19th of April, than the people of Lexington; no people to whom the events of that day could more safely have been entrusted; none more worthy of the duties that fell to their lot; or who better deserved the honours which have followed the faithful performance of them. No single individual probably did so much to educate the people up to that point of intelligence, firmness, and courage, as their honoured and beloved pastor.” (Nordskog, Gerald Christian; The Battle of Lexington; Nordskog Publishing; 2007; Print.)
Can one imagine how history would have been changed had the Church of Lexington, Massachusetts, and all of the churches of Colonial America for that matter, been occupied with the kinds of ministers we have today? I can tell you this: there would have been no Lexington Green and Concord Bridge; no Bunker Hill; no Valley Forge; no Declaration of Independence; no U.S. Constitution; and no United States of America. And that is an absolute fact. The erroneous interpretation of Romans 13, so prevalent today among pastors and churches, would have instructed the colonists that it would be a sin against God to rebel against King George. Pastors would have taught their congregations to be good little slaves to the Crown. Without a doubt, had Colonial America had the kinds of ministers we have today, we would still be a subjected colony of Great Britain to this very hour.
And if you think Jonas Clark was the exception to the rule in Colonial America, you haven’t studied history. Men such as John Witherspoon, James Caldwell, John Peter Muhlenberg, Joab Houghton, Ebenezer Baldwin, Elisha Williams, Charles Chauncy, Jonathan Mayhew, Isaac Backus, Samuel Sherwood, John Fletcher, John Leland, etc., etc, inspired and instructed Christians of all denominations regarding their duties and responsibilities as free men and women under God–including the duty to free themselves from the yoke of bondage.
So prominent was the role that Presbyterian pastors played in the American Revolution that as news of the rebellion spread throughout England, Horace Walpole told his fellow members of the British Parliament, “There is no use crying about it. Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson, and that is the end of it.” And Presbyterian ministers were not the only ones to rally the church for the cause of independence.
So many Baptist preachers participated in America’s War for Independence that at the conclusion of the war, President George Washington wrote a personal letter to the Baptist people saying, “I recollect with satisfaction that the religious societies of which you are a member have been, throughout America, uniformly and almost unanimously, the firm friends to civil liberty, and the preserving promoters of our glorious Revolution.” It also explains how Thomas Jefferson could write to a Baptist congregation and say, “We have acted together from the origin to the end of a memorable Revolution.” (McDaniel, George White. The People Called Baptists. The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1918. Print.)
But it was ministers from all of the Christian denominations who sounded the clarion call for freedom from their pulpits. Writing in the mid-1800s, noted attorney and historian John Wingate Thornton said, “To the Pulpit, the Puritan Pulpit, we owe the moral force which won our independence.”
The patriot pulpit is what Colonial America had that modern America doesn’t have. We lack the “moral force” of that patriot pulpit. For the most part, America’s pastors today are shy, sheepish servants of the state. For the American people to once again muster the courage and conviction to reclaim their liberties requires a revival of the patriot pulpit. As long as Christian people stay seated in the padded pews of these passive pulpits, our nation will continue to plummet into the pit. But this is where the good news begins.
All over the country, tens of thousands of Christians are leaving these timid and cowardly ministers–even pastors are leaving their timid congregations behind and joining up with freedom-minded believers in brand new independent fellowships.
For example, we have over 800 patriot pastors listed on our Black Regiment web page. These are ministers who are not afraid to identify themselves as a patriot pastor and have asked to be included in the list. I invite you to search the list and see if there is a Black Regiment pastor near you. See it here:
Furthermore, there are thousands of Christians who are leaving these say-nothing churches and starting home churches or are meeting with small groups of believers who also share their love of liberty. In addition, we have hundreds of believers who, because they cannot find a patriot pastor in their community, are tuning into the service at Liberty Fellowship each Sunday afternoon at 2:30 Mountain Time and listening to our messages.
Damascus – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—along with certain Arab League countries, plus Turkey and Israel, have this past week reportedly committed themselves to raising nearly $6 billion to “beef up” the just-hatched Islamic Front (IF) in Syria. These “best friends of America” want the Obama administration to sign onto a scheme to oust the Syrian government by funding, arming, training, facilitating and generally choreographing the movement of fighters of this new front, a front formed out of an alliance of seven putatively “moderate” rebel factions.
Representatives of Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan reportedly told staff members on Capitol Hill that committing several billions to defeat the Assad regime by supporting the IF makes fiscal sense and will cost much less than the six trillion dollar figure tallied by the recent study by Brown University as part of its Costs of War project. According to the 2013 update of the definitive Brown study, which examined costs of the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the total amount for all three topped six trillion dollars. This never before released figure includes costs of direct and indirect Congressional appropriations, lost equipment, US military and foreign contractors fraud, and the cost of caring for wounded American servicemen and their families.
Among the Islamist militia joining the new GCC-backed coalition are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force, Liwa al-Tawhid (Tawhid Brigade), the Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham, Suqour al-Sham, al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham and the Islamic Army, which is centered around Damascus. The Kurdish Islamic Front also reportedly joined the alliance.
IF’s declared aim is to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, whatever the human and material cost it may require, and replace it with an “Islamic state.” Abu Firas, the new coalition’s spokesman, declared that “we now have the complete merger of the major military factions fighting in Syria.”
Formally announced on 11/22/13, the IF includes groups from three prior umbrella organizations: the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF), and the Kurdish Islamic Front (KIF). From the SIF, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (HASI), Kataib Ansar al-Sham, and Liwa al-Haqq all joined, as did the KIF as a whole, and former SILF brigades Suqur al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, and Jaish al-Islam. None of these groups have been designated foreign terrorist organizations by the US, and therefore, as an Israeli official argued in a meeting with AIPAC and Congress this week, nothing stands in the way of US funding and support for them. The Israeli official in question is the country’s new national security advisor, Yossie Cohen, who assures key congressional leaders that the tens of thousands of rebels making up the IF will all support “one policy and one military command.” Cohen also pledges that the new group is not as “insane” as other Muslim militia—Daash or al-Nusra or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for instance—that comprise the IF’s chief rivals. Cohen and AIPAC are further telling Congress members and congressional staffers that the emergence of the IF is one of the war’s most important developments, and he vows that the new organization in effect brings seven organizations into a combined force that will fight under one command, a force estimated by the CIA to number at around 75,000 fighters. Reportedly the objective will link the fight in the north with that in the south in a manner that will stretch loyalist forces, and the Saudi-Israel team is also asking the Obama Administration to more than double the monthly “graduation class” of CIA-trained rebels in Turkey, Syria and Jordan—from its current level of 200 per month, up to 500 a month.
What the GCC/Arab League/Israeli team is asking of its western allies (meaning of course mainly the US) is to immediately fund the IF to the tune of $ 5.5 billion. This, Israeli security officials argue, is pocket change compared to the $6 trillion spent in US terrorist wars of the past decade. Plus it will have the presumed “benefit” of toppling the Assad regime and truncating Iran’s growing influence. The plan has reportedly been dismissed by some in the Obama administration as “risible and pathetic.” Nonetheless, Tel Aviv, the US Congressional Zionist lobby, and to a lesser extent Ankara, are pressing ahead under the assumption that linking with the IF now makes sense and that they can take their chances will al-Qaeda later. Ironically these are some of the same voices from AIPAC’s Congressional Team who four years ago were claiming that al-Qaeda was “on the ropes and will soon collapse.” Yet they are optimistic that if Assad goes, “we can deal with the terrorists and it won’t cost six trillion dollars.”
One House member who strongly agrees with AIPAC is Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who recently declared that “in my heart I am a Tea Party guy.” A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hunter believes the US should use nuclear weapons against Tehran. In a Fox TV interview this week he declared his opposition to any talks with Iran, insisting that US policy should include a “massive aerial bombardment campaign” utilizing “tactical nuclear devices” to set Iran “back a decade or two or three.”
According to sources in Aleppo and Damascus, the IF’s top leadership positions have been parceled out among five of the seven groups. This at least is as of 12/5/13. Four days after the IF was announced, the organization released an official charter. In terms of its basic architecture, the document is similar to that put out by the SIF in January, but the new version is filled with more generalities than other militia proclamations, and seems designed to accommodate differing ideas among member groups. The charter calls for an Islamic state and the implementation of sharia law, though it does not define exactly what this means. The IF is firmly against secularism, human legislation (i.e., it believes that laws come from God, not people), civil government, and a Kurdish breakaway state. The charter states that the group will secure minority rights in post-Assad Syria based on sharia, which could mean the dhimma (“protected peoples”) system, or de facto second-class citizenship for Christians and other minorities. According to Saudi officials in Lebanon, the IF seeks to unify other rebel groups so long as they agree to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. Given this ‘moderate’ wording, the expectation of some is that that the southern-based Ittihad al-Islami li-Ajnad al-Sham will join the IF.
According to the Netanyahu government, the IF’s leading foreign cheerleader, this new coalition gives substance to that which states who have been wanting regime change in Syria have been calling for. One analyst on the Syrian conflict, Aron Lund, believes a grouping of mainstream and hardline Islamists, excluding any al-Qaeda factions, is significant. “It’s something that could be very important if it holds up,” he explained. “The Islamic Front’s formation was a response to both regime advances and the ‘aggressive posture’ of jihadists against other rebels, plus a good deal of foreign involvement, not least of which is Saudi and GCC pushing to unify the rebels.”
Contrary to reports out of Occupied Palestine that the Netanyahu regime is not worried about or much interested in the crisis in Syria, a measure of delight seems to be felt in Tel Aviv that Muslims and Arabs are once more killing each other, along with smugness over Hezbollah’s loss of key mujahedeen as it faces, along with Iran, its own “Vietnam experience.” Yet all this notwithstanding, near panic is reported to have been felt in Israeli government circles over Hezbollah’s achievements in Syria. Truth told, Tel Aviv knows that despite manpower losses by Hezbollah, the dominant Lebanese political party is bringing about major enhancements of its forces. It also knows that there is no substitute for urban battlefield experience with regard to effecting such force regeneration, and Israeli officials have also stated their belief that the Resistance is organizing non-Hezbollah brigades that share one goal in common despite disparate beliefs. That sacred goal is liberating Al Quds by any and all means.
A US Congressional source summarized the Obama administration’s take on this week’s assassination of a key Hezbollah commander as part of a major new Netanyahu government project to weaken Hezbollah. Hassan Houlo Lakkis’ assassination on the night of December 3-4 is deemed in Washington to be particularly significant since Lakkis was in charge of strategic files related to Israel and the Palestinians and also oversaw a number of key operations. The Resistance commander was deeply involved in the development of drones for Hezbollah, as well as smuggling weapons to Gaza via Egypt. He also had good relationships with the Palestinian factions in Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon. Lakkis was known by Washington to be a highly important cadre and a second rank Hezbollah official. According to one analyst “Israel appeared as if it was telling Hezbollah, come and fight me. Israel is upset over the Western-Iranian agreement. It is also upset over the new position that the West has concerning Hezbollah whereby the West is now viewing the party as a force that opposes the Takfiris. Thus, Israel’s objective behind the assassination is to lure the party into a confrontation thus allowing Tel Aviv to tell the West: Hezbollah is still a terrorist organization.”
According to sources on the US Foreign Relations Committee, the White House is being heavily pressured by the US Zionist lobby and the Netanyahu government to take “remedial measures” for the “catastrophic historic mistake” it made in defusing the Iranian nuclear issue and refusing to bomb Damascus. The measures being pushed for, of course, are funding and support for the IF, though doubts persist in Washington as to how “remedial” they will in fact be. The $5.5 billion “investment” is to be paid in large part by GCC/Arab League countries, with US and Zionist contributions. Cash from the latter two sources will come directly and indirectly out of the pockets of American taxpayers—with Israel paying nothing.
Some Washington officials and analysts are wondering if US participation would help unify notoriously hostile rebel ranks and curtail the growing power of al-Qaeda in Syria, or whether it is simply another zany Bander bin Sultan-concocted project, the latest of many—in this case to create a hierarchical revolutionary army with the aim of fighting the Syrian regime essentially alongside al-Qaeda? Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed his personal suspicions this week that “the Israel-Saudi team is trying to drag the US back into a potentially deepening morass,” alluding to what apparently is an effort to head off any plans the Obama administration may have of living with the Assad government until such time as Geneva II happens, that is if it happens, according to one congressional staffer.
Many among the American public also have doubts because they have been told that their government was ‘winding down’ its Middle East wars in favor of rebuilding America’s infrastructure, roads, health care and education systems, all of which, especially the latter, appear to be suffering dramatically. According to the most recent international survey, released this week, the average Chinese student, aged fifteen in Shanghai, is two full years ahead of America’s best students surveyed in Massachusetts. Recent top scores among secondary school youngsters, particularly in math, reading and science, were considerably lower than those achieved by students in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Japan. The US is far down the list and declining, and the survey suggests that the gap is widening.
It’s too early to say whether this latest Saudi-Israel-Arab League collaboration will fail as others have recently, but given the continuing Obama administration efforts at taking back US Middle East policy from Tel Aviv, plus the perceptible movement away from support for the Netanyahu government along with growing angst among American taxpayers over funding the occupation of Palestine, it just might collapse.
There’s nothing like a glass of cool, clear water to quench one’s thirst. But the next time you or your child reaches for one, you might want to question whether that water is in fact, too toxic to drink. If your water is fluoridated, the answer may well be yes.
For decades, we have been told a lie, a lie that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans and the weakening of the immune systems of tens of millions more. This lie is called fluoridation. A process we were led to believe was a safe and effective method of protecting teeth from decay is in fact a fraud. For decades it’s been shown that fluoridation is neither essential for good health nor protective of teeth. What it does is poison the body. We should all at this point be asking how and why public health policy and the American media continue to live with and perpetuate this scientific sham.
The Latest in Fluoride News
Today more than ever, evidence of fluoride’s toxicity is entering the public sphere.The summer of 2012 saw the publication of a systematic review and meta-analysis by researchers at Harvard University that explored the link between exposure to fluoride and neurological and cognitive function among children. The report pooled data from over 27 studies- many of them from China- carried out over the course of 22 years. The results, which were published in the journal Environmental Health Sciencesshowed a strong connection between exposure to fluoride in drinking water and decreased IQ scores in children. The team concluded that “the results suggest that fluoride may be a developmental neurotoxicant that affects brain development at exposures much below those that can cause toxicity in adults.” 1
The newest scientific data suggest that the damaging effects of fluoride extend to reproductive health as well. A 2013 study published in the journal Archives of Toxicology showed a link between fluoride exposure and male infertility in mice. The study’s findings suggest that sodium fluoride impairs the ability of sperm cells in mice to normally fertilize the egg through a process known as chemotaxis. 2 This is the latest in more than 60 scientific studies on animals that have identified an association between male infertility and fluoride exposure.3
Adding more fuel to the fluoride controversy is a recent investigative report by NaturalNews exposing how the chemicals used to fluoridate United States’ water systems today are commonly purchased from Chinese chemical plants looking to discard surplus stores of this form of industrial waste. Disturbingly, the report details that some Chinese vendors of fluoride advertise on their website that their product can be used as an “adhesive preservative”, an “insecticide” as well as a” flux for soldering and welding”.4 One Chinese manufacturer, Shanghai Polymet Commodities Ltd,. which produces fluoride destined for municipal water reserves in the United States, notes on their website that their fluoride is “highly corrosive to human skin and harmful to people’s respiratory organs”. 5
The Fluoride Phase Out at Home and Abroad
There are many signs in recent years that indicate growing skepticism over fluoridation. The New York Times reported in October 2011 that in the previous four years, about 200 jurisdictions across the USA moved to cease water fluoridation. A panel composed of scientists and health professionals in Fairbanks, Alaska recently recommended ceasing fluoridation of the county water supply after concluding that the addition of fluoride to already naturally-fluoridated reserves could pose health risks to 700,000 residents. The move to end fluoridation would save the county an estimated $205,000 annually. 6
The city of Portland made headlines in 2013 when it voted down a measure to fluoridate its water supply. The citizens of Portland have rejected introducing the chemical to drinking water on three separate occasions since the 1950’s. Portland remains the largest city in the United States to shun fluoridation.7
The movement against fluoridation has gained traction overseas as well. In 2013, Israel’s Ministry of Health committed to a countrywide phase-out of fluoridation. The decision came after Israel’s Supreme Court deemed the existing health regulations requiring fluoridation to be based on science that is “outdated” and “no longer widely accepted.”8
Also this year, the government of the Australian state of Queensland eliminated $14 million in funding for its state-wide fluoridation campaign. The decision, which was executed by the Liberal National Party (LNP) government, forced local councils to vote on whether or not to introduce fluoride to their water supplies. Less than two months after the decision came down, several communities including the town of Cairns halted fluoridation. As a result, nearly 200,000 Australians will no longer be exposed to fluoride in their drinking water.9
An ever-growing number of institutions and individuals are questioning the wisdom of fluoridation. At the fore of the movement are thousands of scientific authorities and health care professionals who are speaking out about the hazards of this damaging additive. As of November 2013, a group of over 4549 professionals including 361 dentists and 562 medical doctors have added their names to a petition aimed at ending fluoridation started by the Fluoride Action Network. Among the prominent signatories are Nobel Laureate Arvid Carlsson and William Marcus, PhD who served as the chief toxicologist of the EPA Water Division.10
The above sampling of recent news items on fluoride brings into sharp focus just how urgent it is to carry out a critical reassessment of the mass fluoridation campaign that currently affects hundreds of millions of Americans. In order to better understand the massive deception surrounding this toxic chemical, we must look back to the sordid history of how fluoride was first introduced.
How to Market a Toxic Waste
“We would not purposely add arsenic to the water supply. And we would not purposely add lead. But we do add fluoride. The fact is that fluoride is more toxic than lead and just slightly less toxic than arsenic.” 11
These words of Dr. John Yiamouyiannis may come as a shock to you because, if you’re like most Americans, you have positive associations with fluoride. You may envision tooth protection, strong bones, and a government that cares about your dental needs. What you’ve probably never been told is that the fluoride added to drinking water and toothpaste is a crude industrial waste product of the aluminum and fertilizer industries, and a substance toxic enough to be used as rat poison. How is it that Americans have learned to love an environmental hazard? This phenomenon can be attributed to a carefully planned marketing program begun even before Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first community to officially fluoridate its drinking water in 1945. 12 As a result of this ongoing campaign, nearly two-thirds of the nation has enthusiastically followed Grand Rapids’ example. But this push for fluoridation has less to do with a concern for America’s health than with industry’s penchant to expand at the expense of our nation’s well-being.
The first thing you have to understand about fluoride is that it’s the problem child of industry. Its toxicity was recognized at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when, in the 1850s iron and copper factories discharged it into the air and poisoned plants, animals, and people.13 The problem was exacerbated in the 1920s when rapid industrial growth meant massive pollution. Medical writer Joel Griffiths explains that “it was abundantly clear to both industry and government that spectacular U.S. industrial expansion and the economic and military power and vast profits it promised would necessitate releasing millions of tons of waste fluoride into the environment.”14 Their biggest fear was that “if serious injury to people were established, lawsuits alone could prove devastating to companies, while public outcry could force industry-wide government regulations, billions in pollution-control costs, and even mandatory changes in high-fluoride raw materials and profitable technologies.” 15
At first, industry could dispose of fluoride legally only in small amounts by selling it to insecticide and rat poison manufacturers. 16 Then a commercial outlet was devised in the 1930s when a connection was made between water supplies bearing traces of fluoride and lower rates of tooth decay. Griffiths writes that this was not a scientific breakthrough, but rather part of a “public disinformation campaign” by the aluminum industry “to convince the public that fluoride was safe and good.” Industry’s need prompted Alcoa-funded scientist Gerald J. Cox to announce that “The present trend toward complete removal of fluoride from water may need some reversal.” 17 Griffiths writes:
“The big news in Cox’s announcement was that this ‘apparently worthless by-product’ had not only been proved safe (in low doses), but actually beneficial; it might reduce cavities in children. A proposal was in the air to add fluoride to the entire nation’s drinking water. While the dose to each individual would be low, ‘fluoridation’ on a national scale would require the annual addition of hundreds of thousands of tons of fluoride to the country’s drinking water.
“Government and industry especially Alcoa strongly supported intentional water fluoridation… [it] made possible a master public relations stroke one that could keep scientists and the public off fluoride’s case for years to come. If the leaders of dentistry, medicine, and public health could be persuaded to endorse fluoride in the public’s drinking water, proclaiming to the nation that there was a ‘wide margin of safety,’ how were they going to turn around later and say industry’s fluoride pollution was dangerous?
“As for the public, if fluoride could be introduced as a health enhancing substance that should be added to the environment for the children’s sake, those opposing it would look like quacks and lunatics….
“Back at the Mellon Institute, Alcoa’s Pittsburgh Industrial research lab, this news was galvanic. Alcoa-sponsored biochemist Gerald J. Cox immediately fluoridated some lab rats in a study and concluded that fluoride reduced cavities and that ‘The case should be regarded as proved.’ In a historic moment in 1939, the first public proposal that the U.S. should fluoridate its water supplies was made not by a doctor, or dentist, but by Cox, an industry scientist working for a company threatened by fluoride damage claims.” 18
Once the plan was put into action, industry was buoyant. They had finally found the channel for fluoride that they were looking for, and they were even cheered on by dentists, government agencies, and the public. Chemical Week, a publication for the chemical industry, described the tenor of the times: “All over the country, slide rules are getting warm as waterworks engineers figure the cost of adding fluoride to their water supplies.” They are riding a trend urged upon them, by the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Dental Association, the State Dental Health Directors, various state and local health bodies, and vocal women’s clubs from coast to coast. It adds up to a nice piece of business on all sides and many firms are cheering the PHS and similar groups as they plump for increasing adoption of fluoridation.” 19
Such overwhelming acceptance allowed government and industry to proceed hastily, albeit irresponsibly. The Grand Rapids experiment was supposed to take 15 years, during which time health benefits and hazards were to be studied. In 1946, however, just one year into the experiment, six more U.S. cities adopted the process. By 1947, 87 more communities were treated; popular demand was the official reason for this unscientific haste.
The general public and its leaders did support the cause, but only after a massive government public relations campaign spearheaded by Edward L. Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud. Bernays, a public relations pioneer who has been called “the original spin doctor,” 20 was a masterful PR strategist. As a result of his influence, Griffiths writes, “Almost overnight…the popular image of fluoride which at the time was being widely sold as rat and bug poison became that of a beneficial provider of gleaming smiles, absolutely safe, and good for children, bestowed by a benevolent paternal government. Its opponents were permanently engraved on the public mind as crackpots and right-wing loonies.” 21
Griffiths explains that while opposition to fluoridation is usually associated with right-wingers, this picture is not totally accurate. He provides an interesting historical perspective on the anti-fluoridation stance:
“Fluoridation attracted opponents from every point on the continuum of politics and sanity. The prospect of the government mass-medicating the water supplies with a well-known rat poison to prevent a nonlethal disease flipped the switches of delusionals across the country as well as generating concern among responsible scientists, doctors, and citizens.
“Moreover, by a fortuitous twist of circumstances, fluoride’s natural opponents on the left were alienated from the rest of the opposition. Oscar Ewing, a Federal Security Agency administrator, was a Truman “fair dealer” who pushed many progressive programs such as nationalized medicine. Fluoridation was lumped with his proposals. Inevitably, it was attacked by conservatives as a manifestation of “creeping socialism,” while the left rallied to its support. Later during the McCarthy era, the left was further alienated from the opposition when extreme right-wing groups, including the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan, raved that fluoridation was a plot by the Soviet Union and/or communists in the government to poison America’s brain cells.
“It was a simple task for promoters, under the guidance of the ‘original spin doctor,’ to paint all opponents as deranged and they played this angle to the hilt….
“Actually, many of the strongest opponents originally started out as proponents, but changed their minds after a close look at the evidence. And many opponents came to view fluoridation not as a communist plot, but simply as a capitalist-style con job of epic proportions. Some could be termed early environmentalists, such as the physicians George L. Waldbott and Frederick B. Exner, who first documented government-industry complicity in hiding the hazards of fluoride pollution from the public. Waldbott and Exner risked their careers in a clash with fluoride defenders, only to see their cause buried in toothpaste ads.” 22
By 1950, fluoridation’s image was a sterling one, and there was not much science could do at this point. The Public Health Service was fluoridation’s main source of funding as well as its promoter, and therefore caught in a fundamental conflict of interest. 12 If fluoridation were found to be unsafe and ineffective, and laws were repealed, the organization feared a loss of face, since scientists, politicians, dental groups, and physicians unanimously supported it. 23 For this reason, studies concerning its effects were not undertaken. The Oakland Tribune noted this when it stated that “public health officials have often suppressed scientific doubts” about fluoridation.24 Waldbott sums up the situation when he says that from the beginning, the controversy over fluoridating water supplies was “a political, not a scientific health issue.”25
The marketing of fluoride continues. In a 1983 letter from the Environmental Protection Agency, then Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, Rebecca Hammer, writes that the EPA “regards [fluoridation] as an ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized and water utilities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to them.” 26 A 1992 policy statement from the Department of Health and Human Services says, “A recent comprehensive PHS review of the benefits and potential health risks of fluoride has concluded that the practice of fluoridating community water supplies is safe and effective.” 27
According to the CDC website, about 200 million Americans in 16,500 communities are exposed to fluoridated water. Out of the 50 largest cities in the US, 43 have fluoridated water. 28
To help celebrate fluoride’s widespread use, the media recently reported on the 50th anniversary of fluoridation in Grand Rapids. Newspaper articles titled “Fluoridation: a shining public health success” 29 and “After 50 years, fluoride still works with a smile” 30 painted glowing pictures of the practice. Had investigators looked more closely, though, they might have learned that children in Muskegon, Michigan, an unfluoridated “control” city, had equal drops in dental decay. They might also have learned of the other studies that dispute the supposed wonders of fluoride.
The Fluoride Myth Doesn’t Hold Water
The big hope for fluoride was its ability to immunize children’s developing teeth against cavities. Rates of dental caries were supposed to plummet in areas where water was treated. Yet decades of experience and worldwide research have contradicted this expectation numerous times. Here are just a few examples:
In British Columbia, only 11% of the population drinks fluoridated water, as opposed to 40-70% in other Canadian regions. Yet British Columbia has the lowest rate of tooth decay in Canada. In addition, the lowest rates of dental caries within the province are found in areas that do not have their water supplies fluoridated. 31
According to a Sierra Club study, people in unfluoridated developing nations have fewer dental caries than those living in industrialized nations. As a result, they conclude that “fluoride is not essential to dental health.” 32
In 1986-87, the largest study on fluoridation and tooth decay ever was performed. The subjects were 39,000 school children between 5 and 17 living in 84 areas around the country. A third of the places were fluoridated, a third were partially fluoridated, and a third were not. Results indicate no statistically significant differences in dental decay between fluoridated and unfluoridated cities. 33
A World Health Organization survey reports a decline of dental decay in western Europe, which is 98% unfluoridated. They state that western Europe’s declining dental decay rates are equal to and sometimes better than those in the U.S. 34
A 1992 University of Arizona study yielded surprising results when they found that “the more fluoride a child drinks, the more cavities appear in the teeth.” 35
Although all Native American reservations are fluoridated, children living there have much higher incidences of dental decay and other oral health problems than do children living in other U.S. communities. 36
In light of all the evidence, fluoride proponents now make more modest claims. For example, in 1988, the ADA professed that a 40- to 60% cavity reduction could be achieved with the help of fluoride. Now they claim an 18- to 25% reduction. Other promoters mention a 12% decline in tooth decay.
And some former supporters are even beginning to question the need for fluoridation altogether. In 1990, a National Institute for Dental Research report stated that “it is likely that if caries in children remain at low levels or decline further, the necessity of continuing the current variety and extent of fluoride-based prevention programs will be questioned.” 37
Most government agencies, however, continue to ignore the scientific evidence and to market fluoridation by making fictional claims about its benefits and pushing for its expansion. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “National surveys of oral health dating back several decades document continuing decreases in tooth decay in children, adults and senior citizens. Nevertheless, there are parts of the country and particular populations that remain without protection. For these reasons, the U.S. PHS…has set a national goal for the year 2000 that 75% of persons served by community water systems will have access to optimally fluoridated drinking water; currently this figure is just about 60%. The year 2000 target goal is both desirable and yet challenging, based on past progress and continuing evidence of effectiveness and safety of this public health measure.” 38
This statement is flawed on several accounts. First, as we’ve seen, research does not support the effectiveness of fluoridation for preventing tooth disease. Second, purported benefits are supposedly for children, not adults and senior citizens. At about age 13, any advantage fluoridation might offer comes to an end, and less than 1% of the fluoridated water supply reaches this population. And third, fluoridation has never been proven safe. On the contrary, several studies directly link fluoridation to skeletal fluorosis, dental fluorosis, and several rare forms of cancer. This alone should frighten us away from its use.
Biological Safety Concerns
Only a small margin separates supposedly beneficial fluoride levels from amounts that are known to cause adverse effects. Dr. James Patrick, a former antibiotics research scientist at the National Institutes of Health, describes the predicament:
“[There is] a very low margin of safety involved in fluoridating water. A concentration of about 1 ppm is recommended…in several countries, severe fluorosis has been documented from water supplies containing only 2 or 3 ppm. In the development of drugs…we generally insist on a therapeutic index (margin of safety) of the order of 100; a therapeutic index of 2 or 3 is totally unacceptable, yet that is what has been proposed for public water supplies.”39
Other countries argue that even 1 ppm is not a safe concentration. Canadian studies, for example, imply that children under three should have no fluoride whatsoever. The Journal of the Canadian Dental Association states that “Fluoride supplements should not be recommended for children less than 3 years old.” 40 Since these supplements contain the same amount of fluoride as water does, they are basically saying that children under the age of three shouldn’t be drinking fluoridated water at all, under any circumstances. Japan has reduced the amount of fluoride in their drinking water to one-eighth of what is recommended in the U.S. Instead of 1 milligram per liter, they use less than 15 hundredths of a milligram per liter as the upper limit allowed. 41
Even supposing that low concentrations are safe, there is no way to control how much fluoride different people consume, as some take in a lot more than others. For example, laborers, athletes, diabetics, and those living in hot or dry regions can all be expected to drink more water, and therefore more fluoride (in fluoridated areas) than others. 42 Due to such wide variations in water consumption, it is impossible to scientifically control what dosage of fluoride a person receives via the water supply.43
Another concern is that fluoride is not found only in drinking water; it is everywhere. Fluoride is found in foods that are processed with it, which, in the United States, include nearly all bottled drinks and canned foods. 44 Researchers writing in The Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry have found that fruit juices, in particular, contain significant amounts of fluoride. In one study, a variety of popular juices and juice blends were analyzed and it was discovered that 42% of the samples examined had more than l ppm of fluoride, with some brands of grape juice containing much higher levels up to 6.8 ppm! The authors cite the common practice of using fluoride-containing insecticide in growing grapes as a factor in these high levels, and they suggest that the fluoride content of beverages be printed on their labels, as is other nutritional information. 45 Considering how much juice some children ingest, and the fact that youngsters often insist on particular brands that they consume day after day, labeling seems like a prudent idea. But beyond this is the larger issue that this study brings up: Is it wise to subject children and others who are heavy juice drinkers to additional fluoride in their water?
Here’s a little-publicized reality: Cooking can greatly increase a food’s fluoride content. Peas, for example, contain 12 micrograms of fluoride when raw and 1500 micrograms after they are cooked in fluoridated water, which is a tremendous difference. Also, we should keep in mind that fluoride is an ingredient in pharmaceuticals, aerosols, insecticides, and pesticides.
And of course, toothpastes. It’s interesting to note that in the 1950s, fluoridated toothpastes were required to carry warnings on their labels saying that they were not to be used in areas where water was already fluoridated. Crest toothpaste went so far as to write: “Caution: Children under 6 should not use Crest.” These regulations were dropped in 1958, although no new research was available to prove that the overdose hazard no longer existed. 46
Today, common fluoride levels in toothpaste are 1000 ppm. Research chemist Woodfun Ligon notes that swallowing a small amount adds substantially to fluoride intake. 47 Dentists say that children commonly ingest up to 0.5 mg of fluoride a day from toothpaste. 48
This inevitably raises another issue: How safe is all this fluoride? According to scientists and informed doctors, such as Dr. John Lee, it is not safe at all. Dr. Lee first took an anti-fluoridation stance back in 1972, when as chairman of an environmental health committee for a local medical society, he was asked to state their position on the subject. He stated that after investigating the references given by both pro- and anti-fluoridationists, the group discovered three important things:
“One, the claims of benefit of fluoride, the 60% reduction of cavities, was not established by any of these studies. Two, we found that the investigations into the toxic side effects of fluoride have not been done in any way that was acceptable. And three, we discovered that the estimate of the amount of fluoride in the food chain, in the total daily fluoride intake, had been measured in 1943, and not since then. By adding the amount of fluoride that we now have in the food chain, which comes from food processing with fluoridated water, plus all the fluoridated toothpaste that was not present in 1943, we found that the daily intake of fluoride was far in excess of what was considered optimal.” 49
What happens when fluoride intake exceeds the optimal? The inescapable fact is that this substance has been associated with severe health problems, ranging from skeletal and dental fluorosis to bone fractures, to fluoride poisoning, and even to cancer.
When fluoride is ingested, approximately 93% of it is absorbed into the bloodstream. A good part of the material is excreted, but the rest is deposited in the bones and teeth, and is capable of causing a crippling skeletal fluorosis. This is a condition that can damage the musculoskeletal and nervous systems and result in muscle wasting, limited joint motion, spine deformities, and calcification of the ligaments, as well as neurological deficits.
Large numbers of people in Japan, China, India, the Middle East, and Africa have been diagnosed with skeletal fluorosis from drinking naturally fluoridated water. In India alone, nearly a million people suffer from the affliction. 39 While only a dozen cases of skeletal fluorosis have been reported in the United States, Chemical and Engineering News states that “critics of the EPA standard speculate that there probably have been many more cases of fluorosis even crippling fluorosis than the few reported in the literature because most doctors in the U.S. have not studied the disease and do not know how to diagnose it.” 50
Radiologic changes in bone occur when fluoride exposure is 5 mg/day, according to the late Dr. George Waldbott, author of Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma. While this 5 mg/day level is the amount of fluoride ingested by most people living in fluoridated areas, 51 the number increases for diabetics and laborers, who can ingest up to 20 mg of fluoride daily. In addition, a survey conducted by the Department of Agriculture shows that 3% of the U.S. population drinks 4 liters or more of water every day. If these individuals live in areas where the water contains a fluoride level of 4 ppm, allowed by the EPA, they are ingesting 16 mg/day from the consumption of water alone, and are thus at greater risk for getting skeletal fluorosis. 52
According to a 1989 National Institute for Dental Research study, 1-2% of children living in areas fluoridated at 1 ppm develop dental fluorosis, that is, permanently stained, brown mottled teeth. Up to 23% of children living in areas naturally fluoridated at 4 ppm develop severe dental fluorosis. 53 Other research gives higher figures. The publication Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride, put out by the National Academy of Sciences, reports that in areas with optimally fluoridated water (1 ppm, either natural or added), dental fluorosis levels in recent years ranged from 8 to 51%. Recently, a prevalence of slightly over 80% was reported in children 12-14 years old in Augusta, Georgia.
Fluoride is a noteworthy chemical additive in that its officially acknowledged benefit and damage levels are about the same. Writing in The Progressive, science journalist Daniel Grossman elucidates this point: “Though many beneficial chemicals are dangerous when consumed at excessive levels, fluoride is unique because the amount that dentists recommend to prevent cavities is about the same as the amount that causes dental fluorosis.” 54 Although the American Dental Association and the government consider dental fluorosis only a cosmetic problem, the American Journal of Public Health says that “…brittleness of moderately and severely mottled teeth may be associated with elevated caries levels.” 45 In other words, in these cases the fluoride is causing the exact problem that it’s supposed to prevent. Yiamouyiannis adds, “In highly naturally-fluoridated areas, the teeth actually crumble as a result. These are the first visible symptoms of fluoride poisoning.” 55
Also, when considering dental fluorosis, there are factors beyond the physical that you can’t ignore the negative psychological effects of having moderately to severely mottled teeth. These were recognized in a 1984 National Institute of Mental Health panel that looked into this problem.
A telling trend is that TV commercials for toothpaste, and toothpaste tubes themselves, are now downplaying fluoride content as a virtue. This was noted in an article in the Sarasota/Florida ECO Report, 56 whose author, George Glasser, feels that manufacturers are distancing themselves from the additive because of fears of lawsuits. The climate is ripe for these, and Glasser points out that such a class action suit has already been filed in England against the manufacturers of fluoride-containing products on behalf of children suffering from dental fluorosis.
At one time, fluoride therapy was recommended for building denser bones and preventing fractures associated with osteoporosis. Now several articles in peer-reviewed journals suggest that fluoride actually causes more harm than good, as it is associated with bone breakage. Three studies reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed links between hip fractures and fluoride. 575859 Findings here were, for instance, that there is “a small but significant increase in the risk of hip fractures in both men and women exposed to artificial fluoridation at 1 ppm.” In addition, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that people given fluoride to cure their osteoporosis actually wound up with an increased nonvertebral fracture rate. 60 Austrian researchers have also found that fluoride tablets make bones more susceptible to fractures.61 The U.S. National Research Council states that the U.S. hip fracture rate is now the highest in the world. 62
Louis V. Avioli, professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, says in a 1987 review of the subject: “Sodium fluoride therapy is accompanied by so many medical complications and side effects that it is hardly worth exploring in depth as a therapeutic mode for postmenopausal osteoporosis, since it fails to decrease the propensity for hip fractures and increases the incidence of stress fractures in the extremities.” 63
In May 1992, 260 people were poisoned, and one man died, in Hooper Bay, Alaska, after drinking water contaminated with 150 ppm of fluoride. The accident was attributed to poor equipment and an unqualified operator. 55 Was this a fluke? Not at all. Over the years, the CDC has recorded several incidents of excessive fluoride permeating the water supply and sickening or killing people. We don’t usually hear about these occurrences in news reports, but interested citizens have learned the truth from data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Here is a partial list of toxic spills we have not been told about:
July 1993 Chicago, Illinois: Three dialysis patients died and five experienced toxic reactions to the fluoridated water used in the treatment process. The CDC was asked to investigate, but to date there have been no press releases.
May 1993 Kodiak, Alaska (Old Harbor): The population was warned not to consume water due to high fluoride levels. They were also cautioned against boiling the water, since this concentrates the substance and worsens the danger. Although equipment appeared to be functioning normally, 22-24 ppm of fluoride was found in a sample.
July 1992 Marin County, California: A pump malfunction allowed too much fluoride into the Bon Tempe treatment plant. Two million gallons of fluoridated water were diverted to Phoenix Lake, elevating the lake surface by more than two inches and forcing some water over the spillway.
December 1991 Benton Harbor, Michigan: A faulty pump allowed approximately 900 gallons of hydrofluosilicic acid to leak into a chemical storage building at the water plant. City engineer Roland Klockow stated, “The concentrated hydrofluosilicic acid was so corrosive that it ate through more than two inches of concrete in the storage building.” This water did not reach water consumers, but fluoridation was stopped until June 1993. The original equipment was only two years old.
July 1991 Porgate, Michigan: After a fluoride injector pump failed, fluoride levels reached 92 ppm and resulted in approximately 40 children developing abdominal pains, sickness, vomiting, and diarrhea at a school arts and crafts show.
November 1979 Annapolis, Maryland: One patient died and eight became ill after renal dialysis treatment. Symptoms included cardiac arrest (resuscitated), hypotension, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and a whole gamut of intestinal problems. Patients not on dialysis also reported nausea, headaches, cramps, diarrhea, and dizziness. The fluoride level was later found to be 35 ppm; the problem was traced to a valve at a water plant that had been left open all night. 64
Instead of addressing fluoridation’s problematic safety record, officials have chosen to cover it up. For example, the ADA says in one booklet distributed to health agencies that “Fluoride feeders are designed to stop operating when a malfunction occurs… so prolonged over-fluoridation becomes a mechanical impossibility.” In addition, the information that does reach the population after an accident is woefully inaccurate. A spill in Annapolis, Maryland, placed thousands at risk, but official reports reduced the number to eight. 65 Perhaps officials are afraid they will invite more lawsuits like the one for $480 million by the wife of a dialysis patient who became brain-injured as the result of fluoride poisoning.
Not all fluoride poisoning is accidental. For decades, industry has knowingly released massive quantities of fluoride into the air and water. Disenfranchised communities, with people least able to fight back, are often the victims. Medical writer Joel Griffiths relays this description of what industrial pollution can do, in this case to a devastatingly poisoned Indian reservation:
“Cows crawled around the pasture on their bellies, inching along like giant snails. So crippled by bone disease they could not stand up, this was the only way they could graze. Some died kneeling, after giving birth to stunted calves. Others kept on crawling until, no longer able to chew because their teeth had crumbled down to the nerves, they began to starve….” They were the cattle of the Mohawk Indians on the New York-Canadian St. Regis Reservation during the period 1960-1975, when industrial pollution devastated the herd and along with it, the Mohawks’ way of life….Mohawk children, too, have shown signs of damage to bones and teeth.” 66
Mohawks filed suit against the Reynolds Metals Company and the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) in 1960, but ended up settling out of court, where they received $650,000 for their cows. 67
Fluoride is one of industry’s major pollutants, and no one remains immune to its effects. In 1989, 155,000 tons were being released annually into the air, and 500,000 tons a year were disposed of in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. 68
Numerous studies demonstrate links between fluoridation and cancer; however, agencies promoting fluoride consistently refute or cover up these findings.
In 1977, Dr. John Yiamouyiannis and Dr. Dean Burk, former chief chemist at the National Cancer Institute, released a study that linked fluoridation to 10,000 cancer deaths per year in the U.S. Their inquiry, which compared cancer deaths in the ten largest fluoridated American cities to those in the ten largest unfluoridated cities between 1940 and 1950, discovered a 5% greater rate in the fluoridated areas. 69 The NCI disputed these findings, since an earlier analysis of theirs apparently failed to pick up these extra deaths. Federal authorities claimed that Yiamouyiannis and Burk were in error, and that any increase was caused by statistical changes over the years in age, gender, and racial composition. 70
In order to settle the question of whether or not fluoride is a carcinogen, a Congressional subcommittee instructed the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to perform another investigation. 71 That study, due in 1980, was not released until 1990. However, in 1986, while the study was delayed, the EPA raised the standard fluoride level in drinking water from 2.4 to 4 ppm. 72 After this step, some of the government’s own employees in NFFE Local 2050 took what the Oakland Tribune termed the “remarkable step of denouncing that action as political.” 73
When the NTP study results became known in early 1990, union president Dr. Robert Carton, who works in the EPA’s Toxic Substances Division, published a statement. It read, in part: “Four years ago, NFFE Local 2050, which represents all 1100 professionals at EPA headquarters, alerted then Administrator Lee Thomas to the fact that the scientific support documents for the fluoride in drinking water standard were fatally flawed. The fluoride juggernaut proceeded as it apparently had for the last 40 years without any regard for the facts or concern for public health.
“EPA raised the allowed level of fluoride before the results of the rat/mouse study ordered by Congress in 1977 was complete. Today, we find out how irresponsible that decision was. The results reported by NTP, and explained today by Dr. Yiamouyiannis, are, as he notes, not surprising considering the vast amount of data that caused the animal study to be conducted in the first place. The results are not surprising to NFFE Local 2050 either. Four years ago we realized that the claim that there was no evidence that fluoride could cause genetic effects or cancer could not be supported by the shoddy document thrown together by the EPA contractor.
“It was apparent to us that EPA bowed to political pressure without having done an in-depth, independent analysis, using in-house experts, of the currently existing data that show fluoride causes genetic effects, promotes the growth of cancerous tissue, and is likely to cause cancer in humans. If EPA had done so, it would have been readily apparent as it was to Congress in 1977 that there were serious reasons to believe in a cancer threat.
“The behavior by EPA in this affair raises questions about the integrity of science at EPA and the role of professional scientists, lawyers and engineers who provide the interpretation of the available data and the judgements necessary to protect the public health and the environment. Are scientists at EPA there to arrange facts to fit preconceived conclusions? Does the Agency have a responsibility to develop world-class experts in the risks posed by chemicals we are exposed to every day, or is it permissible for EPA to cynically shop around for contractors who will provide them the ‘correct’ answers?” 74
What were the NTP study results? Out of 130 male rats that ingested 45 to 79 ppm of fluoride, 5 developed osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. There were cases, in both males and females at those doses, of squamous cell carcinoma in the mouth. 75 Both rats and mice had dose-related fluorosis of the teeth, and female rats suffered osteosclerosis of the long bones.76
When Yiamouyiannis analyzed the same data, he found mice with a particularly rare form of liver cancer, known as hepatocholangiocarcinoma. This cancer is so rare, according to Yiamouyiannis, that the odds of its appearance in this study by chance are 1 in 2 million in male mice and l in 100,000 in female mice. He also found precancerous changes in oral squamous cells, an increase in squamous cell tumors and cancers, and thyroid follicular cell tumors as a result of increasing levels of fluoride in drinking water. 77
A March 13, 1990, New York Times article commented on the NTP findings: “Previous animal tests suggesting that water fluoridation might pose risks to humans have been widely discounted as technically flawed, but the latest investigation carefully weeded out sources of experimental or statistical error, many scientists say, and cannot be discounted.” 78 In the same article, biologist Dr. Edward Groth notes: “The importance of this study…is that it is the first fluoride bioassay giving positive results in which the latest state-of-the-art procedures have been rigorously applied. It has to be taken seriously.” 71
On February 22, 1990, the Medical Tribune, an international medical news weekly received by 125,000 doctors, offered the opinion of a federal scientist who preferred to remain anonymous:
“It is difficult to see how EPA can fail to regulate fluoride as a carcinogen in light of what NTP has found. Osteosarcomas are an extremely unusual result in rat carcinogenicity tests. Toxicologists tell me that the only other substance that has produced this is radium….The fact that this is a highly atypical form of cancer implicates fluoride as the cause. Also, the osteosarcomas appeared to be dose-related, and did not occur in controls, making it a clean study.” 79
Public health officials were quick to assure a concerned public that there was nothing to worry about! The ADA said the occurrence of cancers in the lab may not be relevant to humans since the level of fluoridation in the experimental animals’ water was so high. 80 But the Federal Register, which is the handbook of government practices, disagrees: “The high exposure of experimental animals to toxic agents is a necessary and valid method of discovering possible carcinogenic hazards in man. To disavow the findings of this test would be to disavow those of all such tests, since they are all conducted according to this standard.” 73 As a February 5, 1990, Newsweek article pointed out, “such megadosing is standard toxicological practice. It’s the only way to detect an effect without using an impossibly large number of test animals to stand in for the humans exposed to the substance.” 81 And as the Safer Water Foundation explains, higher doses are generally administered to test animals to compensate for the animals’ shorter life span and because humans are generally more vulnerable than test animals on a body-weight basis. 82
Several other studies link fluoride to genetic damage and cancer. An article in Mutation Research says that a study by Proctor and Gamble, the very company that makes Crest toothpaste, did research showing that 1 ppm fluoride causes genetic damage.83 Results were never published but Proctor and Gamble called them “clean,” meaning animals were supposedly free of malignant tumors. Not so, according to scientists who believe some of the changes observed in test animals could be interpreted as precancerous. 84 Yiamouyiannis says the Public Health Service sat on the data, which were finally released via a Freedom of Information Act request in 1989. “Since they are biased, they have tried to cover up harmful effects,” he says. “But the data speaks for itself. Half the amount of fluoride that is found in the New York City drinking water causes genetic damage.” 46
A National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences publication, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, also linked fluoride to genetic toxicity when it stated that “in cultured human and rodent cells, the weight of evidence leads to the conclusion that fluoride exposure results in increased chromosome aberrations.” 85 The result of this is not only birth defects but the mutation of normal cells into cancer cells. The Journal of Carcinogenesis further states that “fluoride not only has the ability to transform normal cells into cancer cells but also to enhance the cancer-causing properties of other chemicals.” 86
Surprisingly, the PHS put out a report called Review of fluoride: benefits and risks, in which they showed a substantially higher incidence of bone cancer in young men exposed to fluoridated water compared to those who were not. The New Jersey Department of Health also found that the risk of bone cancer was about three times as high in fluoridated areas as in nonfluoridated areas. 87
Despite cover-up attempts, the light of knowledge is filtering through to some enlightened scientists. Regarding animal test results, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, James Huff, does say that “the reason these animals got a few osteosarcomas was because they were given fluoride…Bone is the target organ for fluoride.” Toxicologist William Marcus adds that “fluoride is a carcinogen by any standard we use. I believe EPA should act immediately to protect the public, not just on the cancer data, but on the evidence of bone fractures, arthritis, mutagenicity, and other effects.” 88
The Challenge of Eliminating Fluoride
Given all the scientific challenges to the idea of the safety of fluoride, why does it remain a protected contaminant? As Susan Pare of the Center for Health Action asks, “…even if fluoride in the water did reduce tooth decay, which it does not, how can the EPA allow a substance more toxic than Alar, red dye #3, and vinyl chloride to be injected purposely into drinking water?” 89
This is certainly a logical question and, with all the good science that seems to exist on the subject, you would think that there would be a great deal of interest in getting fluoride out of our water supply. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. As Dr. William Marcus, a senior science advisor in the EPA’s Office of Drinking Water, has found, the top governmental priority has been to sweep the facts under the rug and, if need be, to suppress truth-tellers. Marcus explains 90 that fluoride is one of the chemicals the EPA specifically regulates, and that he was following the data coming in on fluoride very carefully when a determination was going to be made on whether the levels should be changed. He discovered that the data were not being heeded. But that was only the beginning of the story for him. Marcus recounts what happened:
“The studies that were done by Botel Northwest showed that there was an increased level of bone cancer and other types of cancer in animals….in that same study, there were very rare liver cancers, according to the board-certified veterinary pathologists at the contractor, Botel. Those really were very upsetting because they were hepatocholangeal carcinomas, very rare liver cancers….Then there were several other kinds of cancers that were found in the jaw and other places.
“I felt at that time that the reports were alarming. They showed that the levels of fluoride that can cause cancers in animals are actually lower than those levels ingested in people (who take lower amounts but for longer periods of time).
“I went to a meeting that was held in Research Triangle Park, in April 1990, in which the National Toxicology Program was presenting their review of the study. I went with several colleagues of mine, one of whom was a board-certified veterinary pathologist who originally reported hepatocholangeal carcinoma as a separate entity in rats and mice. I asked him if he would look at the slides to see if that really was a tumor or if the pathologists at Botel had made an error. He told me after looking at the slides that, in fact, it was correct.
“At the meeting, every one of the cancers reported by the contractor had been downgraded by the National Toxicology Program. I have been in the toxicology business looking at studies of this nature for nearly 25 years and I have never before seen every single cancer endpoint downgraded…. I found that very suspicious and went to see an investigator in the Congress at the suggestion of my friend, Bob Carton. This gentleman and his staff investigated very thoroughly and found out that the scientists at the National Toxicology Program down at Research Triangle Park had been coerced by their superiors to change their findings.”91
Once Dr. Marcus acted on his findings, something ominous started to happen in his life: “…I wrote an internal memorandum and gave it to my supervisors. I waited for a month without hearing anything. Usually, you get a feedback in a week or so. I wrote another memorandum to a person who was my second-line supervisor explaining that if there was even a slight chance of increased cancer in the general population, since 140 million people were potentially ingesting this material, that the deaths could be in the many thousands. Then I gave a copy of the memorandum to the Fluoride Work Group, who waited some time and then released it to the press.
“Once it got into the press all sorts of things started happening at EPA. I was getting disciplinary threats, being isolated, and all kinds of things which ultimately resulted in them firing me on March 15, 1992.”
In order to be reinstated at work, Dr. Marcus took his case to court. In the process, he learned that the government had engaged in various illegal activities, including 70 felony counts, in order to get him fired. At the same time, those who committed perjury were not held accountable for it. In fact, they were rewarded for their efforts:
“When we finally got the EPA to the courtroom…they admitted to doing several things to get me fired. We had notes of a meeting…that showed that fluoride was one of the main topics discussed and that it was agreed that they would fire me with the help of the Inspector General. When we got them on the stand and showed them the memoranda, they finally remembered and said, oh yes, we lied about that in our previous statements.
“Then…they admitted to shredding more than 70 documents that they had in hand Freedom of Information requests. That’s a felony…. In addition, they charged me with stealing time from the government. They…tried to show…that I had been doing private work on government time and getting paid for it. When we came to court, I was able to show that the time cards they produced were forged, and forged by the Inspector General’s staff….”
For all his efforts, Dr. Marcus was rehired, but nothing else has changed: “The EPA was ordered to rehire me, which they did. They were given a whole series of requirements to be met, such as paying me my back pay, restoring my leave, privileges, and sick leave and annual leave. The only thing they’ve done is put me back to work. They haven’t given me any of those things that they were required to do.”92
What is at the core of such ruthless tactics? John Yiamouyiannis feels that the central concern of government is to protect industry, and that the motivating force behind fluoride use is the need of certain businesses to dump their toxic waste products somewhere. They try to be inconspicuous in the disposal process and not make waves. “As is normal, the solution to pollution is dilution. You poison everyone a little bit rather than poison a few people a lot. This way, people don’t know what’s going on.”
Since the Public Health Service has promoted the fluoride myth for over 50 years, they’re concerned about protecting their reputation. So scientists like Dr. Marcus, who know about the dangers, are intimidated into keeping silent. Otherwise, they jeopardize their careers. Dr. John Lee elaborates: “Back in 1943, the PHS staked their professional careers on the benefits and safety of fluoride. It has since become bureaucratized. Any public health official who criticizes fluoride, or even hints that perhaps it was an unwise decision, is at risk of losing his career entirely. This has happened time and time again. Public health officials such as Dr. Gray in British Columbia and Dr. Colquhoun in New Zealand found no benefit from fluoridation. When they reported these results, they immediately lost their careers…. This is what happens the public health officials who speak out against fluoride are at great risk of losing their careers on the spot.”
Yiamouyiannis adds that for the authorities to admit that they’re wrong would be devastating. “It would show that their reputations really don’t mean that much…. They don’t have the scientific background. As Ralph Nader once said, if they admit they’re wrong on fluoridation, people would ask, and legitimately so, what else have they not told us right?”
Accompanying a loss in status would be a tremendous loss in revenue. Yiamouyiannis points out that “the indiscriminate careless handling of fluoride has a lot of companies, such as Exxon, U.S. Steel, and Alcoa, making tens of billions of dollars in extra profits at our expense…. For them to go ahead now and admit that this is bad, this presents a problem, a threat, would mean tens of billions of dollars in lost profit because they would have to handle fluoride properly. Fluoride is present in everything from phosphate fertilizers to cracking agents for the petroleum industry.”
Fluoride could only be legally disposed of at a great cost to industry. As Dr. Bill Marcus explains, “There are prescribed methods for disposal and they’re very expensive. Fluoride is a very potent poison. It’s a registered pesticide, used for killing rats or mice…. If it were to be disposed of, it would require a class-one landfill. That would cost the people who are producing aluminum or fertilizer about $7000+ per 5000- to 6000-gallon truckload to dispose of it. It’s highly corrosive.”
Another problem is that the U.S. judicial system, even when convinced of the dangers, is powerless to change policy. Yiamouyiannis tells of his involvement in court cases in Pennsylvania and Texas in which, while the judges were convinced that fluoride was a health hazard, they did not have the jurisdiction to grant relief from fluoridation. That would have to be done, it was ultimately found, through the legislative process. Interestingly, the judiciary seems to have more power to effect change in other countries. Yiamouyiannis states that when he presented the same technical evidence in Scotland, the Scottish court outlawed fluoridation based on the evidence.
Indeed, most of Western Europe has rejected fluoridation on the grounds that it is unsafe. In 1971, after 11 years of testing, Sweden’s Nobel Medical Institute recommended against fluoridation, and the process was banned.93 The Netherlands outlawed the practice in 1976, after 23 years of tests. France decided against it after consulting with its Pasteur Institute64 and West Germany, now Germany, rejected the practice because the recommended dosage of 1 ppm was “too close to the dose at which long-term damage to the human body is to be expected.” 84 Dr. Lee sums it up: “All of western Europe, except one or two test towns in Spain, has abandoned fluoride as a public health plan. It is not put in the water anywhere. They all established test cities and found that the benefits did not occur and the toxicity was evident.”94
Isn’t it time the United States followed Western Europe’s example? While the answer is obvious, it is also apparent that government policy is unlikely to change without public support. We therefore must communicate with legislators, and insist on one of our most precious resources pure, unadulterated drinking water. Yiamouyiannis urges all American people to do so, pointing out that public pressure has gotten fluoride out of the water in places like Los Angeles; Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey; and 95Bedford, Massachusetts. 46 He emphasizes the immediacy of the problem: “There is no question with regard to fluoridation of public water supplies. It is absolutely unsafe…and should be stopped immediately. This is causing more destruction to human health than any other single substance added purposely or inadvertently to the water supply. We’re talking about 35,000 excess deaths a year…10,000 cancer deaths a year…130 million people who are being chronically poisoned. We’re not talking about dropping dead after drinking a glass of fluoridated water…. It takes its toll on human health and life, glass after glass.” 96
There is also a moral issue in the debate that has largely escaped notice. According to columnist James Kilpatrick, it is “the right of each person to control the drugs he or she takes.” Kilpatrick calls fluoridation compulsory mass medication, a procedure that violates the principles of medical ethics. 97 A New York Times editorial agrees:
“In light of the uncertainty, critics [of fluoridation] argue that administrative bodies are unjustified in imposing fluoridation on communities without obtaining public consent…. The real issue here is not just the scientific debate. The question is whether any establishment has the right to decide that benefits outweigh risks and impose involuntary medication on an entire population. In the case of fluoridation, the dental establishment has made opposition to fluoridation seem intellectually disreputable. Some people regard that as tyranny.” 98
Source: Dr. Gary Null, PhD
Proposed solutions have included greater funding, a longer academic year, national standards, measures to reduce school violence, and educational vouchers. The only proper solution is to completely separate state and school thereby permitting education to be purchased and sold through the free market system. Consumer-financed education must replace tax-based funding of education. We need to dissolve public schools and replace them with educational businesses. By de-monopolizing public schools, we would raise standards, better motivate teachers and students, allow greater innovation, bring costs down, and meet the particularized needs of our children.
Public education is inconsistent with freedom and responsibility. Public education erodes personal freedom and thus should be replaced with parental choice, competition, and market solutions. Parents are responsible for the education of their children. Under a free market, families would decide which are the best educational vehicles for each of their children.
State schools are based on the assumptions that the government is sovereign in education that people are morally and legally obligated to fund the public school system, and that state schools can, and should, teach neutral values. Government policy imposes strict rules and regulations and a directive to use education to engineer political and social outcomes. Public education is a collectivist welfare program in which people are coerced to participate. Not only is political consensus substituted for private individual decisions, the benefits of public education are not commensurate with its costs and its subsidized prices distort individual decision-making.
In the past, families, religious groups, and private schools dominated education, but today the state is in charge. We need to eliminate state involvement in education.
A person should be free to pay for a child’s education if he wanted to. Today, people are forced to pay for schools imparting ideas that they would not voluntarily support. Freed of their educational tax burden, individuals would have the funds to pay for private education. In addition, competition would raise school quality and would make private education more affordable and available.
Totally separating education from the state means abolishing school taxes and compulsory school attendance. By divorcing education from political power, parents and their children will be free to pursue education the best serves their needs.
History and Philosophy of Public Education
Rousseau, like Plato before him and Mann and Dewey after him, believed in the perfectibility of man provided that he was educated so that he could not want to do evil. According to Rousseau, there exists a “general will” over and above wills of individuals. He taught that there is an intellectual elite who is able to discern the commands of the general will and, because of that knowledge, have the authority to implement those commands. The existence and authority of the general will is the cornerstone of Rousseau’s philosophy of education.
In Emile, Rousseau portrays the ideal education in the story of a child, who, free from the restrictions of an adult’s will, is able to study nature and thus learn what he needs to know. However, Emile has an enlightened tutor, whose purpose is to secretly manufacture the conditions under which nature will teach the student what the tutor wants the student to learn. Through the tutor’s disguised intentions, the student, by equating his own will with the will of his tutor, is conditioned to identity his own will with the general will.
German thinkers from Luther to Fichte to the Prussian monarchs developed theories of compulsory state education. Hegel viewed the state, through which the general will found expression, as the supreme earthly manifestation of the Absolute and as the embodiment of ethics. People found freedom when they recognized the state’s exalted status and accepted the state’s objectives as their own objectives. This view ultimately gave rise to American nationalism and the movement toward universal education.
For the first two hundred years in America, from the early 1600s to the early 1800s, public schools were virtually non-existent. Before the 1830s, education was primarily an informal local activity. Private education in early America included the home, church, Catholic and Protestant schools, charity schools for the poor, apprenticeships, private study, and circulating libraries. With the variety of educational systems available to our forefathers, tax-financed schools did not receive much support. For many years, the only strong advocates of state schools in the U.S. were Boston Unitarians who denied Christian teachings and accepted Rousseau’s ideas that negative behavior was the result of mis-education rather than due to man’s fallen nature.
Although tax-financed common schools existed by the 18305, most parents continued to send their children to private schools. However, the public school agenda of the Unitarians and other elites began to advance with urgency as Catholic immigration, especially from Ireland and Germany, soared in the 18405 and 18505. Protestants began to fear that Catholic immigrants and the poor would become an unassimilated mass.
Horace Mann, a Unitarian lawyer and legislator, had been appointed secretary of the newly created Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837, the first state board of education in the U.S. During his12 years as its head, Mann created a unified system of common schools including teacher-training initiatives and dedication to a Utopian vision of perfecting the moral character of the nation’s youths. Mann was a die-hard Unitarian moralist who perceived the public school as the cure for social ills and exhibited faith in human goodness given the right education and environment. Mann, an admirer of the Prussian approach to public education, said that closing down prisons would be possible, given a generation of schools according to his prescriptions.
Mann’s goal was to establish mechanisms of social control. He advocated a standard curriculum, centralization of public funds, a strongly moral character of instruction, and state leadership in training teachers dedicated to the common school agenda. Mann and his fellow reformers sought to use the state’s authority and resources to impose a single ethos on every school in the name of enlightenment and social unity.
Originally, many Protestants criticized the peculiar religious character of the common public school. Mann’s religion without salvation was attractive to an elite who was confident of its own success and of the country’s inevitable progress. Protestant critics feared that the schools’ espoused non-denominational neutrality was the same as the institution of secularism through the public schools.
However, the large influx of Catholic immigrants who tended to establish their own schools, was thought by many to be a threat to Protestantism. Encouraged by the Unitarians, many Protestants began to embrace the state school concept. Since the establishment of Protestantism as the American national church was impossible due to the nation’s emphasis on religious tolerance, it was thought the public school could perhaps become an acceptable substitute mechanism to control religion. The public school was thus seen by Protestants as a potential mechanism for instilling the true faith.
Mann’s non-denominational approach did incorporate Bible reading (the King James version), daily prayer, and hymns into its activities. Of course, as America became more secularized so did the public schools. Public education in America really began to boom after the Civil War, as government- controlled and funded schools replaced the earlier private education system. The biggest boost for state schools came when states began to enact laws of compulsory attendance.
Catholics felt left out of the public school system. As a consequence, the Catholic parochial school system was established in 1874. Catholics, like the Protestants, Unitarians, and others realized that whoever controls the schools controls the upcoming generation.
By altering and connecting Rousseau’s ideas of an independently existing general will with the principle of majority rule, 19th century American intellectuals thought that the “will of the majority” as interpreted by themselves, provided a unique source of beneficence and wisdom. Education controlled by that “will” would foster the public good.
John Dewey’s progressive model of active learning or pragmatism promoted a revolt against abstract learning and attempted to make education an effective tool for integrating culture and vocation. Dewey was responsible for developing a philosophical approach to education called “experimentalism” which saw education as the basis for democracy. His goal was to turn public schools into indoctrination centers to develop a socialized population that could adapt to an egalitarian state operated by an intellectual elite.
Thinking for Dewey was a collective phenomenon. Disavowing the role of the individual mind in achieving technological and social progress, Dewey promoted the group, rather than the teacher, as the main source of social control in the schools. Denying the ideas of universal principles, natural law, and natural rights, Dewey emphasized social values and taught that life adjustment is more important than academic skills.
Dewey explained that the subject matter and moral lessons in the traditional curricula were meant to teach and inspire but were irrelevant to the students’ immediate action experiences. The contradiction between the students’ real interests and those of the traditional school alienated students from their schoolwork. School-age children were caught between the opposing forces of immature, undeveloped beings and the values, meanings, and aims of subject matter constructed by a mature adult. Dewey believed that students’ energy, talent, and potential could not be realized within the structure of an archaic school system.
Dewey and other members of the Progressive movement wanted a predictable method for providing a common culture and of instilling Americans with democratic values. As a result, by the end of the 19th century, a centrally-controlled, monopolistic, comprehensive, and bureaucratic public education system was deemed to be essential for America’s future.
During the 20th century, the job of public education was expanded to inculcating moral values, providing nutrition and health, protecting children from psychological and physical abuse, and combating crime and delinquency. Later, additional social and political goals such as racial integration, democratic participation, environmental awareness and activism, and social tolerance were added.
The Nature of Public Education
Public schools are coercive political monopolies that are funded through compulsory taxation and that have a captive audience of pupils through mandatory attendance laws. People must pay for the school system even if they do not use public schools or are not satisfied with them. The state uses its coercive taxing power to take money from some, even individuals who do not have children, to fund the education of others. Since most people cannot afford to pay private tuition after bearing their school tax burden the market for private schools is artificially restrained. There would be many more, and a larger variety, of private schools in the absence of a tax-supported system. In fact, the bankruptcy of some private schools can be attributed to unfair competition from the public system.
Decisions are made from the top-down. Small groups of elected or appointed state officials ignore market forces and make decisions regarding teaching methods, curricula, textbooks, class size, teacher qualifications, etc. Public education is designed to serve the state and its ruling elite who endeavor to create a one size fits all education for a population of diverse children.
Public education views children as property of the state, undermines parents’ moral authority and responsibility, and stifles the entrepreneurial spirit. A system of force and compulsion replaces education with indoctrination. Students learn officially approved state doctrine from state-approved teachers using state-approved texts. Public schools promote agendas that conflict with parents’ rights to shape the values and beliefs of their children.
Opponents of free market education believe that only public education can impart the skills, values, knowledge, and attitudes needed for good citizenship. Political correctness and outcome-based education result from public educators’ attempts to socialize the young to make society in their own egalitarian image through the use of compulsory state education. Public education thus tends to be more formative and indoctrinating than it is informative.
Parents have been denied the right to choose the type of education they want for their children. Children do not learn in the same way, at the same rate, by the same methods, or under the same conditions. Parents are in the best position to take into account the relevant differences in their individual children and should be permitted to select the appropriate education for each of them. Not all parents want their children educated in the same way. The superior performance of home-schooled children testifies to the ability of parents compared to that of state-certified teachers.
Public educators want uniformity in the schools since in their minds there would be social inequality if everyone did not have the same education. However, specialized schools which vary in their methods, goals, materials, and assessment methods would better cater to the diversity of human beings.
Public schools do impart values, but they are the values of conformity and docility. Public schooling suppresses the individuality, initiative, and creativity of students. In its efforts to stay ideologically independent, public education is likely to sacrifice intellectual and character development. The idea has caught on that every individual has a right and a duty to be educated and that society through the government has the obligation to fund the education of its citizens. Supporters of public schooling have maintained that many children will go uneducated if education were not compulsory and if the state did not deliver it. The state assumes that parents are irresponsible and must be forced to do what they should do. Parents are not free to ignore school attendance by their children and are not free to ignore tuition payments through taxation. By avowing the legitimacy of public education, voters try to transfer their responsibility for educating their children to the state. However, parental moral responsibility for their child’s education cannot be shifted to anyone else.
Public schools get their customers through compulsory attendance laws. Public education is based on the prison concept. Tax-funded schools have coercion as part of their culture. As wards of the state, children are jailed with a mandatory sentence until they are 16. The state removes children from parents assumed to be incompetent in order to keep them from being anti-social and to make them into complacent workers and citizens.
When schooling is mandated by law, the sense of opportunity that accompanies free choice is missing. If education is not compulsory, then students are perceiving education as an opportunity rather than as a requirement. In the absence of compulsory education, students would no longer be captive to ideological and political brainwashing on the part of teachers and administrators.
Most Americans accept the propriety of forcibly taking some people’s money in order to educate other people’s children. Students are thus taught by example that they are entitled to government “gifts” and that it is proper to obtain an end through organized force. State education teaches that there are a multitude of good ends that can be attained by the state taking wealth to pay for them in the same manner as it pays for students’ educations. If children are led to believe that they are owed benefits from the government without any work or its product being exchanged, they tend to think that it is not necessary for them to perform work to obtain any of their desired possessions.
Compulsion negatively affects attitudes and poor attitudes obstruct education. Compulsory education has drawn some children into classes who do not want to be there thereby lowering the quality of education as standards are reduced to meet the lowest common denominator. Some students just don’t belong in school, but the government not only forces their attendance, it also compels those who do belong and want to be there to associate with delinquents and the uneducable. Of course, due to self interest, only a few would go uneducated if education were noncompulsory. Attendees would have a financial incentive to get the most out of their education.
When the state provides a “free education” the value of the education is decreased in the minds of parents as well as in the minds of students. Parents will not be as interested in ensuring their children’s attendance when schools are free. In addition, parents will not demand much from their children or the schools when education does not cost them anything. Quality declines when the connection between service and payments is severed. Public education breaks the link between consumers’ demands for education and their ability to control their own resources in voicing that demand.
Public education continues because it is funded through compulsory tax payments. Because public schools are guaranteed revenue, there is no incentive to strive for excellence. When a school has monopoly control over students, the motivation to produce successful students is lacking. Public education deprives parents of their right to select the kind of schooling that is best for their children. The state taxes away parents’ income and permits public bureaucrats to run the school system as they see fit.
Public schools are insulated from failure and protected from competition. Consequently, it is safe for them to ignore their customers. Public educators have little incentive to provide quality, to respect and please their customers, to pursue innovations, to produce results, to be efficient, or to control their costs.
Politicians push for higher taxes to foster their political images by exhibiting their concern for improving public schools. In addition, school administrators do not try to be efficient or cut cost because such behavior would lead to a reduced budget. This helps to explain why the U.S. spends more per student per year than any other major nation. At the same time, student performance has not kept par with the increase in resources devoted to public schooling.
Public school systems lack the entrepreneurial ingredient. The educational bureaucracy is unable to calculate net income or net loss, has no way of using cost-benefit analysis to see if expenditures were appropriately applied, and do not know if they are using taxpayers’ money to accurately respond to consumer demand.
Public education uses taxation to evade market prices. There is an immense difference between government paying for education and the parent paying for it in a free market situation. When public education is financed by the state, the real price to taxpayers is much greater than the price perceived by the consumers. The family of a student only pays part of the cost of a state-financed education with the rest of the cost being transferred to taxpayers with no or fewer children than the particular family has.
Vouchers and Other Pseudo-Reforms
Proponents of educational choice have proposed educational vouchers, charter schools, and tax deductions for private educational expenditures. The fundamental problem, public funding of education, remains under each of these alternatives. There are always strings attached when state funds are provided. Government intrusion always follows government funding.
With respect to educational vouchers, publicly-funded vouchers would be issued to parents of school-age children to spend at the government-approved school of their choice. Parents would be given a voucher worth a precise amount of public tax money. The parent would have the state-granted right to choose from among the local schools that meet the state’s standards. Vouchers are based on the assumption that the state, rather than the parents, is sovereign over education. Parents’ choices will be restricted by controlling school eligibility for reimbursement through vouchers. The state, the source of educational funding, retains its sanctioning authority under the voucher system.
Every private school that accepts a voucher payment is subject to local, state, and/or federal rules and regulations. Private enterprises cease to be private with the introduction of public funds. Since state funds support private schools in a voucher system, if follows that private schools will be accountable to the government if they are to succeed. For example, public educational officials could require open admissions, insist that a private school’s student population reflect the community it serves including proper quotas of minority students, require that vouchers must be accepted as full payment even if they are of less value than the school’s tuition, demand that voucher money not be used to finance religious education, etc. A voucher system could also be used to exclude schools that teach “politically incorrect” ideas or that employ teaching methods contrary to the prevailing orthodox methods championed by public education bureaucrats.
As long as an education is publicly funded, decisions regarding educational policy will be politically made. Under the voucher system, voucher-supported private schools become part of the state’s monopoly on education. The voucher system creates an illusion of parental authority without the substance of such authority. A voucher program violates the principle that parents are morally and financially responsible for their children’s education. In a voucher system, coercive taxation remains the source of education funding. A cosmetic change at best, a voucher program gives the appearance that parents are exercising choice, while, at the same time, transferring the evils of the public system to private schools.
Vouchers will lure students back into publicly-financed education. Currently, many parents remove their children from public education as a matter of principle. The voucher system will entice parents since its benefits will only be received if parents enroll their children in state-approved schools. Vouchers will lessen the demand for private education that is outside the taxpayer financed; education system. Parents who want to keep their children out of government-run schools will have to say no to free education in a state school, turn down vouchers for government licensed schools, and then pay additional funds to send their children to an authentically independent school! In essence, these parents will be paying for education three times while their children only receive one education each.
A charter school is a partially autonomous publicly-financed school that is operated by a group of community members, teachers, and/or parents. It operates under a charter with a local school district board of education or sometimes with an outside agency such as an institution of higher learning. Charter schools are free to a certain degree, but, like the voucher system, charters will corrupt such schools. Restrictions confronting charter schools include the source of its funding, regulations stemming from government control, and such schools’ lack of market feedback and accountability.
Some advocate private educational expense deductions for federal income tax purposes. Pre-tax dollars would be used to finance children’s education under this approval. Less beneficial than a tax credit, such a deduction would only ameliorate one’s tax penalty. In addition the main problem will still be that the educational “benefit” originates in the political order and must be utilized within the political framework.
The Educational Freedom
The best school choice plan is the free market. Education should be bought and sold through free market processes. The separation of state and education would restore intellectual freedom, academic integrity, and individual achievement. The private market can best provide high quality and efficient education services. Private educational institutions can supply a superior educational product but currently, because of subsidized tuition at public schools, most students select the lower-priced option. When a child attends a private school, the family must pay taxes to subsidize the cost of students in public education and pay the whole cost of education at a private school.
Education is an economic commodity to be purchased in the marketplace according to the preferences and valuations of education consumers. In a free education market parents and students would decide based on the perceived costs and benefits of each option. In essence, the procurement of an educational service does not differ from the acquisition of any other private good.
Outcomes in a consumer-funded education market would be the result of voluntary purchases by educational consumers. The best schools would earn the most income. Profit calculations would permit schools to gauge their performance according to customer evaluations. Parents would choose schools based on performance and reputation. Paying customers value and select competent schools and teachers. Thus, it follows that the consumers of education should be the payers.
Market-based schools have incentives to furnish quality education at a competitive price. Competition would drive poor schools from the market. Market mechanisms would provide the most efficient allocation of resources. Schools would compete for the best students and students would compete for the best teachers and schools. Teachers’ salaries would be determined by market competition. Schools would provide instruction at a variety of locations with varying philosophies, specialization areas, and costs. Schools would arise to meet the demands of various students’ abilities and needs. Where the demand for a specific type of education arises, an entrepreneur would form the desired institution of learning. With the diversity that exists among individuals, a variety of schools would appear to meet individual educational needs.
It is critical that parents purchase education directly, when, and only for as long as, they believe their children require it. Only the total separation of state and school can re-institute parental responsibility, protect parents’ rights, and allow students, schools, and teachers to flourish in a free educational environment. Parents have moral authority over, and responsibility for, their own children.
If school taxes are abolished, parents will benefit by keeping their own money. The money belongs to the parents, not the government. They would then be free to choose their own children’s schools. For example, if parents want their children to have prayer, then they would send them to a school that has prayers. If they don’t want their children to have prayer, then they would send them to a school that has no prayer. Parents should be free to send their children to religious schools, progressive schools, trade schools, home school, or even no school at all. Of course, it is likely that the pursuit of happiness will supply enough incentive for people to want their children to improve educationally. Schools privately funded and freely selected would be mediating associations like churches, corporations, and unions, and would foster a true sense of belonging and identity.
In private schools in a free market, failure to provide the promised results would lead to declining enrollments, and financial losses. Competition breeds quality. For example, the free market would encourage teachers to improve their skills and would attract others into the teaching profession. Good teachers would be rewarded and poor teachers would be forced to select other careers. The market would also indicate which teaching approaches worked best in given situations and would stimulate creative individuals to produce and market learning materials. True educational businesses would evaluate teachers and their instructional operations to determine whether or not the customers are satisfied and getting their money’s worth of education.
Educational competition would result in the lowering of costs. Competition would make private education more affordable and widely available. This means that poor families would be more able to afford the cost of financing their children’s educations. In addition, if the poor are excused from the numerous education taxes that currently exist, then they would have the funds to pay for private education. It is also likely that private scholarships and charitable assistance will be available for lower income families, especially when the person or organization funding the scholarship knows that he is paying for a superior educational product.
In a free market, consumer demand and choice would determine which schools survive and prosper. A private, non-compulsory educational system would be better able to provide for diverse student needs, backgrounds, interests, goals, and preferences. A system of voluntary, unsubsidized education means rescinding government compelled financing, attendance, credentialing, accreditation, and curriculum. It means the full separation of school and state.
Are Americans ready to accept a police state? Are pastors and Christians ready to accept a police state? Are Republicans and conservatives ready to accept a police state? Are Democrats and liberals ready to accept a police state? Are there truly enough people left in this country who even understand what a police state is, and if they do, would they really support it?
I can hear many readers shouting, “No!” But I truly wonder just how many Americans have already accepted the police state in their hearts and minds. It is absolutely true that before despots and tyrants can put shackles around men’s necks, they must first put them around men’s hearts. So, just how many of the American people are walking around every day with shackles already around their hearts? How many pastors mount the pulpits with shackles around their hearts? How many teachers enter the classroom with shackles around their hearts? How many State lawmakers walk into their various capitols with shackles around their hearts? How many police officers get into their squad cars with shackles around their hearts? How many military personnel put on their uniforms with shackles around their hearts?
Those of us who are passionate about the freedom fight spend a lot of time discussing and debating the nuances of how best to protect liberty. Except for a precious few, our State governors, attorney generals, legislators, senators, mayors, county commissioners, city councilmen, etc., are doing a fantastically lousy job of honoring their oaths to the Constitution and to the principles contained in our Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Except for a precious few, our pastors, deacons, elders, and church leaders are doing a fantastically lousy job of defending freedom principles. Except for a precious few, our civic and business leaders are doing a fantastically lousy job of defending liberty. And needless to say, you could put the people on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., who are even doing diddly-squat about preserving liberty into an old-fashioned phone booth.
Republicans? Most of them have never seen a bill that expands the police state at home and foreign wars abroad that they did not absolutely love. Democrats? Most of them have never seen a bill that expanded government (any government) that they did not absolutely love. Yes, yes, I know that there are a few–a precious few–exceptions to the above, but not many.
But are the American people truly ready to accept a police state? A recent report at InfoWars.com is quite shocking to those of us who tend to believe that most of our fellow Americans would recoil at the thought of an open police state.
Reporting for InfoWars.com, Paul Joseph Watson writes, “After illustrating their enthusiasm for repealing the Bill of Rights, a video shows Americans happily signing a petition to support a ‘Nazi-style Orwellian police state,’ in what easily represents the most shocking footage of its kind to date.
“Citing issues with how the government shutdown has impacted the ability of the police to ‘keep the community safe,’ [Mark] Dice tells San Diegans that there is a need to ‘increase the Orwellian system.’
“‘Not a problem,’ responds one man as he signs the petition.
“‘We just want to model it after the Nazi Germany system to keep people safe and secure,’ Dice tells another individual.
“After signing the petition to ‘implement the Orwellian police state,’ another man responds, ‘You find the pot of money though,’ apparently more concerned about how much a Nazi-style police state would cost than its actual consequences.
“‘They’re trying to cut the budget by 20 per cent so we just want to make sure that we can model the police state after the Nazi Germany system,’ Dice tells another couple who sign the petition, before adding, ‘Thanks for supporting the police state.’
“‘We’re going to model it after the Nazi Germany-style police state,’ Dice clearly tells another man who signs the petition.
“‘We need this Orwellian-style system to keep everybody safe,’ Dice tells a woman as she is signing the petition, to which she responds, ‘Yeah.’”
See Watson’s report at:
So, how many of your friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, fellow club members, fellow pastors, and fellow church members would be willing to sign such a petition as mentioned above? Probably more than you would think. Why don’t you use Mark Dice’s technique and go stand with a petition on a street corner in your town or on a sidewalk outside the entrance of your church and find out? But be prepared for a shock. It is not just San Diegans that are already wearing the shackles around their hearts.
Those of us in the liberty movement are knocking our brains out trying to devise the best strategy to preserve the vestiges of freedom that are left in this country. The assaults against our liberties are ubiquitous–and so are the battlefronts upon which our fellow freedom-fighters are tirelessly and relentlessly defending the hill. Thank God for every one of them! I may or may not agree with each strategy or the people who come up with them, but if they are in the liberty fight, they are my brothers and compatriots.
But it is time for us to ask ourselves, are we living in a country in which a sizeable percentage of people do not care about, and may actually not WANT, liberty? Are we living in a country in which a sizeable percentage of people have already accepted the shackles of tyranny around their hearts?
I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans; Christians and unbelievers; pastors and pagans; liberals and conservatives; whites and blacks; educated and illiterate; rich and poor; men and women; northerners and southerners; easterners and westerners; military and civilians. How many are already wearing the shackles of tyranny around their hearts? I’m afraid far more than most of us want to admit.
At this point, I must make the following observation: if you are living in a State that does not recognize your right to keep and BEAR arms, if you live in a State that significantly impedes your right to possess and CARRY arms, if you live in a State that is unfriendly to the Second Amendment, you are living in a State in which a majority of lawmakers and citizens are already wearing the tyrant’s yoke around their hearts–and they want you to wear it, too. And if you live in a large metropolitan city anywhere, you are living in one of liberty’s most inhospitable and hostile places. In all candor, one of the chief reasons why my family and I moved to a small town in a rural State (the Flathead Valley of Montana) is because of what I’m talking about right now.
For more information on our move to Montana, please go to this web page:
I realize that we have our share of big-government weenies here in Montana, too. I know we have a bunch of politicians and people who carry the shackles of tyranny around their hearts. I won’t argue that. But I also know that if police agencies in this area attempted a military lockdown such as took place in Boston after the marathon bombings, they would start a modern-day revolution. I KNOW that the majority of people in the Flathead Valley would never submit to such a police state. I also believe that the vast majority of law enforcement officers in this area would never attempt to enact such a police state.
As an example, according to published reports, the average home in the State of Montana has 27 firearms in it. Yes, you read it right: 27. I dare say that the average pickup truck in Montana has more guns in it than the average house in just about any other State.
Ladies and gentlemen, Thomas Jefferson was right: big cities are the “bane” of freedom. And those states that are controlled by big cities are also a major culprit in the demise of liberty.
Several years ago, Boston’s Gun Bible (BGB) ranked the states in order of their recognition of the right to keep and bear arms. According to BGB, the freest states are:
2. Idaho and Kentucky (tie)
3. Louisiana and Alaska (tie)
And, again, according to BGB, the least free states are:
1. New Jersey
5. New York
Now, I would personally argue BGB’s ranking of Montana as number 5 in the list of freest states–especially when it comes to the Second Amendment. Regardless, notice the absence of the dominance of big-cities within the list of freest states, contrasted with the obvious dominance of big-cities within the list of least free states. In the list of freest states, only Kentucky and Louisiana have a metro area with over one million population. And in the case of Vermont, Idaho, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana, the State with the largest population is Idaho with just over 1.5 million–in the ENTIRE STATE. The conclusion should be obvious: big cities equal less freedom; rural states equal more freedom.
Ladies and gentlemen, this divergence of philosophy and the willingness or unwillingness of people in big city states and rural states to either accept or reject tyranny is a boiling pot that at some point is going to spill over onto the eye of the stove. Notice that Mr. Dice’s petition was asked of people in one of America’s largest population centers: San Diego, California. Take that same petition to the streets of Kalispell, Montana; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Cheyenne, Wyoming; or Wasilla, Alaska; and the response would be MUCH different.
I don’t believe tyranny will come to America all at once; it will come piecemeal, city by city, State by State, and region by region. And liberty will be preserved the same way.
So, are Americans ready to accept a police state? It all depends on where you live.
P.S. This weekend, selected cities across the country will be privileged to see the premiere screening of James Jaeger’s fantastic new movie, “MOLON LABE: How The Second Amendment Guarantees America’s Freedom.” The film features such notable freedomists as Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, Larry Pratt, G. Edward Griffin, Alex Jones, and, yes, yours truly–along with several others. It is terrific film. The people of the Flathead Valley in Montana are fortunate to be able to attend this premiere showing at the Mountain Cinema 4 theaters in Whitefish, Montana, at 11am Mountain Time, this Saturday, October 26. If you live within driving distance, you are invited to attend this premiere screening. DVDs of the film will be available at the showing.
If you are not able to go see MOLON LABE this weekend and would like to order the DVD of this new film, you may do so NOW. Order the MOLON LABE DVD here:
These Dates Forever Changed America For The Worse…
Well, Obamacare is now in effect. The decision by Congress to pass Obamacare into law back in 2010 ranks among the most draconian, most egregious, most horrific actions ever taken by the central government in Washington, D.C. This bill rocks the principles of liberty and constitutional government to the core. It changes fundamental foundations; it repudiates historic values. The same flag may fly on our flagpoles, the same monuments may grace our landscape, and the same National Anthem may be sung during our public ceremonies, but it is not the same America. For all intents and purposes, our nation now more resembles the socialist countries of the old communist East Bloc than it does the constitutional republic of the old land of the free.
I was honored to have been invited to be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons recently in Denver. It was a very large gathering of physicians from all over the country. And I can tell you that the doctors I spoke with are all very, very concerned about the future of healthcare in the United States. Take a peek at the condition of healthcare in socialist countries throughout the world or take a peek at the condition of healthcare in our VA clinics and hospitals, and you will get a little feel for what healthcare is going to quickly look like in America.
On March 21, 2010, Congress passed, and on March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the dreaded national health care bill into law, and as such, these dates join a list of dates that have contributed to the destruction of a free America. Of course, there are several such dates, but, in my opinion, the following are the most draconian.
April 9, 1865
This is the date when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Regardless of where one comes down on the subject of the War Between the States, one fact is undeniable: Abraham Lincoln seriously dismantled the Jeffersonian model of federalism in America. Ever since, virtually every battle that free men have fought for the principles of limited government, State sovereignty, personal liberty, etc., has stemmed directly from Lincoln’s usurpation of power, which resulted in the subjugation and forced union of what used to be “Free and Independent States” (the Declaration of Independence). In fact, the philosophical battles being waged today regarding the current health care debacle (and every other encroachment upon liberty and State autonomy by the central government) have their roots in Lincoln’s autocracy.
July 9, 1868
This is the date when the 14th Amendment was ratified. This amendment codified into law what Lincoln had forced at bayonet point. Until then, people were only deemed citizens of their respective states. The Constitution nowhere referred to people as “US citizens.” It only recognized “the Citizens of each State.” Notice also that citizenship was only recognized among the “several States,” not among people living in non-State territories. Until the 14th Amendment, people were “Citizens of each State.” (Article. IV. Section. 2. Paragraph. 1.) The 14th Amendment created a whole new class of persons: “citizens of the United States.” This false notion of “one nation” overturned the Jeffersonian principle that our nation was a confederated republic, a voluntary union of states.
February 3, 1913
This is the date when the 16th Amendment was ratified, and the direct income tax and IRS were instituted. This was a flagrant repudiation of freedom principles. What began as a temporary measure to support the War of Northern Aggression became a permanent income revenue stream for an unconstitutional–and ever-growing–central government.
April 8, 1913
This is the date when the 17th Amendment was ratified. This amendment overturned the power of the State legislatures to elect their own senators and replaced it with a direct, popular vote. This was another serious blow against State sovereignty. The framers of the Constitution desired that the influence and power in Washington, D.C., be kept as close to the people and states as possible. For example, the number of representatives in the House of Representatives was to be decided by a limited number of voters. In the original Constitution, the ratio of “people of the several States” deciding their House member could not exceed “one for every thirty thousand.” (Article. I. Section. 2. Paragraph. 3.) And when it came to the US Senate, the framers also recognized the authority of each State legislature to select its own senators, thereby keeping power and influence from aggregating in Washington, D.C. The 17th Amendment seriously damaged the influence and power of the states by forcing them to elect their US senators by popular vote. The bigger the State, the less influence the State legislature has in determining its US senator. Senators who answered to State legislators, each answering to a limited number of voters, were much more accountable to the “citizens of the several States” than those who were elected by a large number (many times numbering into the millions) of people. For all intents and purposes (at least in the larger states), US Senators are more like “mini-Presidents” than representatives of sovereign states.
December 23, 1913
This is the date when the Federal Reserve Act was passed. This Act placed oversight of America’s financial matters into the hands of a cabal of private international bankers, who have completely destroyed the constitutional principles of sound money and (for the most part) free enterprise. No longer would the marketplace (private consumption, thrift, growth, etc.) be the determinant of the US economy (which is what freedom is all about), but now a private, unaccountable international banking cartel would have total power and authority to micromanage (for their own private, parochial purposes) America’s financial sector. Virtually every recession, depression, and downturn (including the one we are now experiencing) has been the direct result of the Fed’s manipulation of the market. 1913 was not a good year for the United States.
June 26, 1945
This is the date when the United Nations Charter was signed and America joined the push for global government. Ever since, US forces have spilled untold amounts of blood and sacrificed thousands of lives promoting the UN’s agenda. Since the end of World War II, in virtually every war in which US military forces have been engaged, it has been at the behest of the UN. And it is also no accident that America has not fought a constitutionally declared war since we entered the UN–and neither have we won one.
Furthermore, it is America’s involvement in the United Nations that has spearheaded this devilish push for a New World Order that George H. W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Walter Cronkite, et al., have talked so much about. The United Nations is an evil institution that has completely co-opted our US State Department and much of our Defense Department. It is an anti-American institution that works aggressively and constantly against the interests and principles of the United States. But it is an institution that is ensconced in the American political infrastructure. Like a cancer, the UN eats away at our liberties and values, and both major political parties in Washington, D.C., are culpable in allowing it to exert so much influence over our country.
June 25, 1962, and June 17, 1963
These are the dates when the US Supreme Court removed prayer (’62) and Bible reading (’63) from public schools. At this point, these two Supreme Court decisions were the most serious affront to the First Amendment in US history. Think of it: from before a union of states was established in 1787, children had been free to pray and read the Scriptures in school. We’re talking about a period of more than 300 years! Of course, the various State legislatures–and myriad city and county governmental meetings–still open their sessions in prayer, as do the US House and Senate, and even the US Supreme Court. But this same liberty is denied the children of America. There is no question that America has not recovered from these two horrific Supreme Court decisions. In effect, the federal government has expelled God not only from our public schools, but also from our public life. And America has not been the same since.
October 22, 1968
This is the date when President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968. Before this Act, the 2ndAmendment was alive and well in the United States. The Gun Control Act of 1968 turned a right into a privilege and forever forced the American people to bow at the altar of government when seeking to arm themselves. Interestingly enough, this Gun Control Act mirrored Nazi Germany’s Gun Control Act of 1938. In fact, the Gun Control Act of 1968 is almost a verbatim copy of Hitler’s Gun Control Act of 1938.
Our Founding Fathers could never have imagined that the American people would ever allow their right to keep and bear arms be infringed. In fact, it was the attempted confiscation of the firearms stored at Concord, Massachusetts, that triggered the War of Independence in 1775. That the people of Massachusetts would be denied their right to keep and bear arms, as they are today, could not have been foreseen–and would never have been tolerated–by America’s founders.
The hundreds and hundreds of draconian gun control laws that have been inflicted upon the American people have all come about as a result of the Gun Control Act of 1968.
January 22, 1973
This is the date when the US Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, which, in effect, legalized abortion-on-demand. These two decisions expunged the Jeffersonian principle that all men are endowed by their Creator with the unalienable right to life (Declaration). Since then, more than 50 million unborn babies have been legally murdered in their mothers’ wombs. Abortion is, without a doubt, America’s national holocaust. It has opened the door to a host of Big Government programs and policies that have resulted in the wanton destruction of human life both in the United States and overseas. It has created an entire industry whose express purpose for existing is the destruction of human life. It has desensitized the conscience and soul of America. Furthermore, it has forced men of decency and good will to finance–with their tax dollars–the unconscionable act of killing unborn children.
And once again, another Jeffersonian principle was eviscerated. He said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” The Roe and Doe decisions violate this principle in the most egregious manner possible.
October 26, 2001
This is the date when President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act, and the federal government’s war against individual liberty began in earnest. Most of the unconstitutional eavesdropping, snooping, wiretapping, phone call intercepting, email reading, prying, financial records tracking, travel watching, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, by federal police agencies began with the implementation of the Patriot Act. The Department of Homeland Security and the “war on terrorism,” which have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people worldwide, and the usurpation of federal power at home, have all come about as an outgrowth of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act has forever shifted the focus of American law and jurisprudence against constitutional government and individual liberty, toward a police-state mentality.
October 17, 2006, and October 9, 2009
These are the dates when President G.W. Bush signed and President Barack Obama re-signed the Military Commissions Act. This Act is the outgrowth of the Patriot Act and has, in effect, terminated the fundamental protections of individual liberty, which are found in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. For all intents and purposes, the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act (along with the NDAA) eviscerated the 4th and 5th Amendments, and do serious injury to several others. The Military Commissions Act also expunges the constitutional right of Habeas Corpus.
March 21 and 23, 2010
These are the dates when Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the so-called “health care reform” bill that we spoke about at the beginning of this column. While Social Security and various Welfare programs have toyed with socialism in the United States, this bill is the largest and most expansive endorsement of socialism in American history. This bill socializes some 18% of the US economy by socializing the health care industry in America. The fallout and ramifications of this bill are going to be horrific.
When future historians review the demise of our once-great republic, they will observe that the above dates were the dates that destroyed America. The American people have been far too tolerant for far too long.
Here we go again. We have another mass shooting at yet another “gun-free” zone. Not only was the location a “gun-free” zone, it was located inside the nation’s capital, which has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the entire country.
I thought gun-control laws and “gun-free” zones were supposed to protect people from gun violence. If one listens to the vast majority of talking heads on network and cable news shows, including Piers Morgan and Joe Scarborough, that is exactly what we are led to believe. But in reality, just the opposite is true. “Gun-Free” zones are actually “Free Killing” zones. And in truth, guns don’t kill people; gun-control laws kill people.
This is the second time in recent memory when some wacko shoots up a military installation. The first killer was a Muslim; this one was a Buddhist. He also happened to be a black man and an Obama supporter. This combination must drive the politically-correct mainstream media and the left-wing extremist hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), batty. According to these folks, the only people who commit gun violence are angry Christian white guys. But as most of us know, no race or religion or political affiliation has a monopoly on criminal conduct. Unless it’s those miscreants in Washington, D.C., of course.
True to form, the idiotic Washington press corps initially reported that the killer used an AR-15 rifle. To their chagrin, it turned out he used a shotgun. This hasn’t stopped gun-hater Senator Dianne Feinstein from immediately calling for more gun control. And the White House is saying Barack Obama is going to issue some kind of anti-gun executive orders. Leave it to a lame duck Marxist President to try to bypass Congress and ignore the overwhelming majority of the American people (including Democrats) who have made it clear they are in no mood to accept any additional gun control.
It was only a few days ago when two liberal anti-gun legislators who spearheaded the drive for egregious gun-control laws in the State of Colorado were recalled from office. And they won’t be the only ones. Come next year, there will be a host of anti-gun legislators all over the country who are going to be given their walking papers by their respective electorates. The only states where it is safe for politicians to promote gun control are socialist states such as New York, Massachusetts, and California. By and large, the American people have had all of the gun control laws they can stomach. They have drawn their line in the sand. They are not only voting at the ballot box, they are voting with their pocketbooks. Gun manufacturers and retail stores cannot keep up with the demand for guns and ammo. Even .22 rimfire ammunition is as scarce as hen’s teeth.
Mind you, this DC killer had passed at least two background checks by the US military; he had what is called a “secret” clearance; he was given an honorable discharge from the United States Navy; he had been awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. Born and raised in one of the most anti-gun cities in America, New York City, the man was given a rifle permit by the New York Police Department. So, pray tell, please explain how any existing gun-control laws–or any future gun-control laws–would have been able to prevent this guy from doing what he did?
In fact, the gun-control laws that Obama, Feinstein, et al, are clamoring for are the very laws that contributed to the deaths of those 12 innocent victims. Had these victims been allowed and encouraged to carry their own arms for self-defense, the death toll would doubtless have been much less. But this is the same story in every single one of these mass shootings. The perpetrator knows he is entering a “gun-free” zone and none of his targets will be able to shoot back. I repeat: guns don’t kill people; gun-control laws kill people.
Our Constitution recognizes the organic right of free people to serve as self-defenders. The Militia of the several states is comprised of every able-bodied man and woman (excepting conscientious objectors) within the State. And each man and woman is recognized as having the responsibility to: 1) be personally and adequately armed, 2) be adequately trained and skilled in the use of arms, and 3) be expected to defend themselves and others from attack when necessary.
It has never been the government’s responsibility to protect us; it has always been the people’s responsibility to protect themselves. It is the government’s responsibility to protect the right of the people to protect themselves. As seen in every single mass shooting, the government is completely incapable of protecting the citizenry from these kinds of attacks. If the people do not protect themselves, there is no protection. All these gun-control laws do is prohibit the people from protecting themselves. This is why we desperately need State leaders to declare any and all federal gun-control laws to be null and void and boldly declare to the people of their states that they will honor and protect the people’s right and duty to defend themselves.
Furthermore, if Mr. Obama attempts to circumvent Congress and enact gun-control measures via executive order, it is the duty of the US House of Representative to immediately issue articles of impeachment against him. It is past time for these so-called conservatives in the GOP to grow some man stuff and start taking their oaths to the Constitution seriously. It is when the legislators in Washington, D.C., and in the respective states refuse to protect the liberties of the American people that the people themselves must protect their liberties.
I think I speak for millions of Americans when I say I have had it with Obama, Feinstein, Scarborough, Morgan, and the rest of these would-be tyrants who want to strip us of our Natural right of self-defense–and that includes the right to defend ourselves from our own government.
At this juncture, let me inform readers that a brand new documentary film is about to be released to the public. The film is called “MOLON LABE: How The Second Amendment Guarantees America’s Freedom” produced by James Jaeger. This is the same man who produced the outstanding film released a few years ago called “The Spoiler.” MOLON LABE features such outstanding freedomists as Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Larry Pratt, Alex Jones, Stewart Rhodes, G. Edward Griffin, and Edwin Vieira, Jr. And, yes, I am in the film also. The film is scheduled to be rolled out next month. Whatever you do, be sure to watch this film and encourage everyone you know to watch it. Never has a film been more timely or more necessary.
By the way, MOLON LABE means “Come and take them.” This is what Spartan King Leonidas said to Persian King Xerxes at the Battle of Thermopylae when he was told to lay down his weapons.
To learn more about the film, go to:
Plus, it is not too late to become a sponsor of the film. Your donation could help awaken hundreds of thousands of Americans to the importance of the Second Amendment and its relevance to us today. Watch the trailer then consider becoming a sponsor.
Once again, the government’s denial of the people’s right of self-defense has led to the untimely deaths of a dozen innocent Americans. So, I say again: guns don’t kill people; gun-control laws kill people.
The Government Doesn’t Think So…
For the USDA and its sister food regulator, the FDA, there’s a problem: many of the farmers are distributing the food via private contracts like herd shares and leasing arrangements, which fall outside the regulatory system of state and local retail licenses and inspections that govern public food sales.
In response, federal and state regulators are seeking legal sanctions against farmers in Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, among others. These sanctions include injunctions, fines, and even prison sentences. Food sold by unlicensed and uninspected farmers is potentially dangerous say the regulators, since it can carry pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli O157:H7, leading to mild or even serious illness.
Most recently, Wisconsin’s attorney general appointed a special prosecutor to file criminal misdemeanor charges against an Amish farmer for alleged failure to have retail and dairy licenses, and the proceedings turned into a high-profile jury trial in late May that highlighted the depth of conflict: following five days of intense proceedings, the 12-person jury acquitted the farmer, Vernon Hershberger, on all the licensing charges, while convicting him of violating a 2010 holding order on his food, which he had publicly admitted.
Why are hard-working normally law-abiding farmers aligning with urban and suburban consumers to flaunt well-established food safety regulations and statutes? Why are parents, who want only the best for their children, seeking out food that regulators say could be dangerous? And, why are regulators and prosecutors feeling so threatened by this trend?
Members of these private food groups often buy from local farmers because they want food from animals that are treated humanely, allowed to roam on pasture, and not treated with antibiotics. “I really want food that is full of nutrients and the animals to be happy and content,” says Jenny DeLoney, a Madison, WI, mother of three young children who buys from Hershberger.
To these individuals, many of whom are parents, safety means not only food free of pathogens, but food free of pesticides, antibiotic residues, and excessive processing. It means food created the old-fashioned way—from animals allowed to eat grass instead of feed made from genetically modified (GMO) grains—and sold the old-fashioned way, privately by the farmer to the consumer, who is free to visit the farm and see the animals. Many of these consumers have viewed the secretly-made videos of downer cows being prodded into slaughterhouses and chickens so crammed into coops they can barely breathe.
These consumers are clearly interpreting “safety” differently than the regulators. Some of these consumers are going further than claiming contract rights—they are pushing their towns and cities to legitimize private farmer-consumer arrangements. In Maine, residents of ten coastal towns have approved so-called “food sovereignty” ordinances that legalize unregulated food sales; towns in other states, including Massachusetts and Vermont, and as far away as Santa Cruz, CA, have passed similar ordinances.
The new legal offensive isn’t going over well with regulators anywhere. Aside from the Hershberger action in Wisconsin, and a similar one in Minnesota, Maine’s Department of Agriculture filed suit against a two-cow farmer, Dan Brown, in one of the food-sovereignty towns, Blue Hill, seeking fines and, in effect, to invalidate all the Maine ordinances. In April, a state court ruled against the farmer, and in effect against the towns; sentencing is due within several weeks, and the case could well be appealed.
The jury in the criminal misdemeanor case of Minnesota farmer Alvin Schlangen last September acquitted him of all charges after several hours of deliberation. But the regulators’ push against privately-distributed food continues unabated. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has moved forward with a local prosecutor in Schlangen’s rural county, pressing similar criminal charges as the ones he was acquitted of in Minneapolis. He is scheduled to go on trial again in August. And in Wisconsin, prosecutors sought, unsuccessfully, to have Vernon Hershberger jailed for allegedly violating his jail terms since charges were filed in late 2011.
At its heart, this is a struggle over a steady erosion of confidence in the integrity of our industrial food system, which has been hit by disturbing disclosures seemingly on a weekly basis. In just the last few weeks, for example, we have seen shrimp, cookies, and veggie burgers recalled by the FDA for being sold with undeclared ingredients.
Also in recent weeks, members of Congress and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have escalated warnings about the growing danger of antibiotic resistant pathogens emerging from farm animals, which consume about 80 percent of all antibiotics in the U.S. The Atlantic reported last summer that medical specialists are seeing a spike in women with urinary tract infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, likely transmitted by chicken meat.
This erosion in the confidence of the food system carries serious implications. It financially threatens large corporations if long-established food brands come under prolonged and severe public questioning. It threatens economic performance if foods deemed “safe” become scarcer, and thus more expensive. And it is potentially explosive politically if too many people lose confidence in the professionalism of the food regulators who are supposed to be protecting us from tainted food, and encourages folks to exit the public food system for private solutions like the consumers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, and elsewhere. Just look at the vituperative corporate response to recent consumer-led campaigns to label foods with genetically-modified ingredients.
As more consumers become intent on making the final decisions on what foods they are going to feed themselves and their families, and regulators become just as intent on asserting what they see as their authority over inspecting and licensing all food, ugly scenarios of agitated citizens battling government authorities over access to food staples seem likely to proliferate. It’s an unfortunate recipe for a new kind of rights movement centered on the most basic acts—what we choose to eat.
About the Author
David Gumpert is a writer who covers the conflict between food rights and food safety. His latest book is “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights: The Escalating Battle Over Who Decides What We Eat”. His previous book was “The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights”. He has written for Modern Farmer, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Huffington Post, Grist, and Food Safety News. He is a former reporter with The Wall Street Journal and a former editor with The Harvard Business Review.
Source: David E. Gumpert | Waking Times
There’s a frightening new technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that’s right out of a comic book. Scientists at the technical school have figured out how to implant false mental reactions in a mouse.
This technological ‘advancement’ is terrifying when considering that it could lead to real life brainwashing and mind control like that shown in the classic movie The Manchurian Candidate (the classic film starring Frank Sinatra). In the film, communists turn an average man into an assassin by implanting false memories into his mind.
A similar plot is found in Total Recall. The brainwashing shown in these movies were fantasy, but what’s happening at MIT is apparently real.
A team of MIT researchers led by neuroscientist Susumu Tongawa figured out how to implant responses in the brains of mice by manipulating neurons. They even have a name for their technique, optogenetics, and it allows them to manipulate brain cells with chemicals. Remember the term optogenetics; we’re going to be hearing a lot about it in years to come.
Basically, these scientists have figured out how to hack the brain much like cyber crooks can hack your computer. They’re still a long way from hacking human brains, but that seems to be the goal here.
What’s really frightening is that the purpose of this research has not been revealed. What purpose would false memories serve? Could soldiers be programmed to forget things they saw on the battlefield that might embarrass politicians back home? Prisoners could be programmed to forget about abuse or, worse, reprogrammed to commit treason; in other words, a real-life Manchurian Candidate. Could people be convinced to do things that they believe are unethical, such as kill?
There’s also the question of who is paying for this research. MIT’s connections to the Defense Department and the military industrial complex are well known. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has reportedly been doing a lot of research on mind control and brain/computer interface. This memory research has DARPA written all over it.
Do we really want our government, or any government, to have the ability to implant false memories in people’s minds? I don’t think so. Worse, if this technology is like other DARPA developments, it won’t be long before people outside of government, such as criminals, terrorists, and cult leaders, get their hands on it.
This research needs to be investigated now to see who is developing it and why. I’d like to see Congress look into this and perhaps defund these mind control efforts. This is one technology the world probably doesn’t need
The violation of civil liberties in the name of security has had a profound impact on those who came of age after 9/11…
When Darrell Anderson, 22, joined the US military he knew there was going to be a war, and he wanted to fight it. “I thought I was going to free Iraqi people,” he told me. “I thought I was going to do a good thing.”
Until, that is, he realised precisely what he had to do. While on patrol in Baghdad, he thought: “What are we doing here? Are we looking for weapons of mass destruction? No. Are we helping the people? No, they hate us. What are we working towards, apart from just staying alive? If this was my neighbourhood and foreign soldiers were doing this then what would I be doing?” Within a few months, he says, “I was cocking my weapon at innocent civilians without any sympathy or humanity”. While home on leave he realised he was not going to be able to lead a normal life if he went back. His mum drove him to Canada, where I met him in 2006 at a picnic for war resisters in Fort Erie.
Anderson’s trajectory, from uncritical patriotism to conscious disaffection and finally to conscientious dissent, is a familiar one among a generation of Americans who came of political age after 9/11. Over time, efforts to balance the myth of American freedom on which they were raised, with the reality of American power that they have been called on to monitor or operate, causes a profound dislocation in their world view. Like a meat eater in an abattoir, they are forced to confront the brutality of the world they are implicated in and recoil at their role in it – occasionally in dramatic fashion.
It is from this generation that the most recent prominent whistleblowers have emerged: Edward Snowden, 29, the former National Security Agency contractor, now on the run after passing evidence of mass snooping to the Guardian; Bradley Manning, who at 22 gave classified diplomatic and military information to WikiLeaks and now faces a court martial; the late Aaron Swartz, who by 24 was a veteran hacker when he was arrested for illegally downloading academic articles from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later took his own life; and Jeremy Hammond, 28, who is facing federal criminal charges for allegedly publicising the internal files of a private spying agency.
Just as America’s military record abroad, complete with torture and “collateral damage”, has helped push a section of disaffected Muslim youth across the globe towards terrorism, so the violation of civil liberties and privatisation of information has driven a number of disillusioned Americans to law-breaking dissent at home.
In a 2008 book, The Way We’ll Be, US pollster John Zogby categorised this age cohort as First Globals. Tracking everything from views on gay marriage to propensity to travel, he described young Americans aged 18-29 as “the most outward-looking and accepting generation in American history”. Unfazed by social diversity at home, they held more open attitudes towards the rest of the world. They were far more likely to travel abroad than others, have friends or family overseas, and to be aware of international politics. “[They] might not be more able than other age cohorts to point to Darfur on a map,” argued Zogby, “but they at least know there is a Darfur, and they care what’s happening there.”
The perpetual war and accompanying “anti-terror” security structure after 9/11 is all this generation has ever known. And it has had a profound impact on shaping their views on US foreign policy.
In 2007, 63% (significantly higher than any other age group) disagreed with the statement “I support my country, right or wrong”. In 2004, 86% thought “an imperialist power that acts on its own regardless of what the rest of the world thinks” was improper or somewhat improper, while just 3% thought the opposite. On the latter question, Zogby wrote: “No other group we studied, not Democrats nor self-described progressives, not readers of the New York Times, had a greater spread between the two extremes.” It is in this context that the defiance and determination of these young people must be understood.
One could make too much of their age as a unifying factor. Since these leaks demand proficiency with new technology, those involved are bound to be younger. And older people, with families, careers and pensions, are less likely to do things they know will put them in jail or force them to flee. Moreover, for all the similarities between them, there are significant differences. Snowden contributed money to Republican libertarian Ron Paul’s campaign; Hammond describes himself as an “anarchist-communist”.
Yet, while each acted separately from the other, their unrepentant justifications read as though they were unconsciously working in concert. “I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors,” wrote Hammond.
“We need to take information,” wrote Swartz. “Wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world.”
“This is the truth. This is what is happening,” said Snowden. ”You should decide whether we need to be doing this.”
Manning said: “I want people to see the truth, because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
They seek to liberate not land or people, but information. The state seeks to criminalise them as spies. But it wasn’t treachery but patriotism (once blind, now wide-eyed, and arguably always misplaced) that brought most of them to this point. Their aim was neither to enrich themselves nor to aid a foreign power, but to make the power in which they invested much of their identity – America – more transparent, knowledgeable, accountable and honourable.
Anderson, Manning and Snowden, for example, all joined the military-security sector after Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib were in the public domain. They knew what could be done in America’s name. They just never thought they would be put in a position where they would have to choose between doing it, concealing it or exposing it. Raised in the true American ideal that an individual can make a difference, they spoke up.
Forced to choose between allegiance to the flag and uniform, and loyalty to the ideals the flag is supposed to represent and the uniform is supposed to defend, they chose the latter. Their defiance stems from the fact that, in acting as they have, they don’t believe they’ve let down America. They believe they had to act because America was letting itself down.
Source: Gary Younge | The Guardian
I have an old car. And I love my old car. But its funky old sound system consists of only a tape deck — not even a CD player let alone an iPod axillary port. So now I’m forced to play only old-school Books-on-Tape that I check out from the Berkeley Public Library every time I go on a road trip or I even need something to listen to while driving around town. And the BPL can only offer me a limited choice of funky old tapes to listen to — such as Dickens’ “Pickwick Papers” for instance. Or John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage”.
Remember when we used to be forced to read “Profiles in Courage” back in high school? Yeah, sure. But who the freak can even remember what JFK actually said. However, what JFK actually did say in this book is totally shocking. Why? Because it could have been written today — in today’s world, about today’s problems. And it also gives us a way to solve them.
How do you solve the problems of America today? According to JFK, it’s easy. You just show a little moral courage, exhibit a little moral backbone. Like, for instance, the moral courage exhibited by Kennedy himself. John F. Kennedy stood up to the military-industrial complex — because he thought it was the morally right thing to do.
And Kennedy died for his beliefs.
Who killed JFK? We may never know exactly who pulled the trigger or arranged the actual assassination (I myself favor the Pappy Bush theory), but we do know one thing for sure: Whoever did this evil deed has a “Profile in Cowardliness”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
I got so entranced by listening to Kennedy’s words on tape (read by his son John-John, by the way) that I went back to the BPL to check out the actual physical book itself. And guess what? This amazing book, one of the most important and relevant books to be read in the 21st century so far, could only be found in the children’s section of the main branch.
Kennedy wrote about eight U.S. Senatorial heroes who, at great cost to themselves, put America’s interests above their own, especially in times when other Senators were consistently only looking out for their own petty self-interests — and the interests of those lobbyists who had bribed them into corruption.
Senator Daniel Webster, for instance, “was not a Massachusetts man but an American,” who fought like a wildcat to preserve the sanctity of the Union. Imagine how Senator Webster would have reacted today if he had read the following article in “The Voltaire Network” entitled, “Kennedy, the Lobby and the Bomb,” regarding how AIPAC had spent billions of dollars buying members of the Senate to vote in Israel’s (not America’s) best interests.
If Daniel Webster was on the floor of the U.S. Senate today, you bet that America wouldn’t be dealing with the trillion-dollar-plus aftermath of the nuclear arms race in the Middle East that we have been facing since Kennedy was assassinated shortly after telling Israel prime minister David Ben-Gurion that getting The Bomb was a no-no.
“While all NATO member states and countries of the communist bloc were following the example of the USA and the USSR and taking a first step towards nuclear disarmament, Israel was acting secretly on its own, and Kennedy was determined to prevent it [and told Ben-Gurion of this intention in June of 1963 too]. Kennedy’s death a few months later eased the pressure on Israel. Johnson chose to turn a blind eye on the activities at Dimona.” http://www.voltairenet.org/
Johnson also turned a blind eye to the brutal strafing and bombing of the USS Liberty in 1967 by Israeli fighter jets, wherein 34 American soldiers were deliberately butchered http://www.gtr5.com/
Webster would definitely have stood up to the Israel lobby.
In “Profiles in Courage,” JFK also wrote about brave Senator Edmund G. Ross, who was soundly defamed by his colleagues for not letting corporate scallywags sack and plunder the post-bellum South. And today, Ross would surely never have voted to give Monsanto a license to plunder America’s farm and food industries like our current cowardly bought-and-paid-for Congress just did http://thinkprogress.org/
Another example of courage that Kennedy cited in his book was Senator Robert Taft’s protest against the illegality of the Nuremberg trials. “You can’t try someone for crimes ex post facto,” said Taft — or words to that effect. Taft’s highly unpopular stand, however, helped pave the way for the 1949 Geneva Conventions. But his stubborn defense of upholding the Rule of Law in America also cost him his bid for the presidency.
And today? Taft surely would have been horrified by Guantanamo, America’s perverse dark side evil twin of the Nuremberg trials — where Nazis have become us.
And Sam Houston? He became the most despised man in Texas because he opposed his state’s succession from the Union — kind of like when Congresswoman Barbara Lee was the only person in the House of Representatives to stand up against America’s stupid and brutal attack on Afghanistan. Or like Senator Paul Wellstone, who mysteriously died in a plane crash shortly after voting to oppose GWB’s evil and avaricious war policies http://www.newyorker.com/
If Sam Houston were alive today, however, Texas would still be despising him because you can bet your boots that old Sam would have also stood up against Bush’s Folly — Bush’s disastrous war on Iraq.
And in the early 1960s, John F. Kennedy also took a brave stand against unnecessary, trumped-up and preemptive war — putting our nation’s interests above those of Wall Street and War Street when he tried to stop the military-industrial complex’s disastrous war on Vietnam.
In October of 1963, Kennedy apparently also questioned the CIA’s expanding role in declaring and conducting foreign wars on their own — especially the show that they had been running in Vietnam. Shortly thereafter, Kennedy was killed.
In the words of current NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, “You can’t come forward against the world’s most powerful intelligence agency…. No one can meaningfully oppose them. If they want to get you, they’ll get you in time.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?
No wonder John F. Kennedy had to die.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent…as the Grave…
Anyone who was a fan of the old ABC TV series “The Untouchables” or of the later series, also on ABC, called “The FBI,” would know something is terribly fishy about the FBI slaying of Ibragim Todashev.
According to the FBI, Todashev, 27, who was an acquaintance, or friend, of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, was shot and killed by an FBI agent who was interviewing the young man, at his home, at midnight, allegedly because Todashev had suddenly attacked him, causing the agent to feel threatened.
There are an astonishing number of conflicing versions of this official story, involving a variety of different weapons and multiple explanations for how it happened. These versions variously had Todashev threatening the agent with a sword, a knife, a chair, a pipe, a metal pole or even a broomstick. But one thing that stands out is that the agent in each version was alone with Todashev, who was suspected of having been an participant, with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in an as yet unsolved September 11, 2011 slaying of three suspected young drug dealers in Waltham, Mass. at least one of whom was also a friend of the Tsarnaev brothers.
The critical word here is “alone.”
Watchers of those FBI TV programs know that FBI agents always work in pairs. This is not just Hollywood. It’s FBI policy.
Ibragim Todashev and autopsy photo showing FBI agent’s “kill shot” to the head during a midnight household “interrogation”
Indeed, when my father was informed back in 1969, by a colleague at the University of Connecticut School of Engineering where he was a professor, that the FBI was investigating me for my anti-war activities, the colleague, an arch-conservative backer of the US war in Vietnam, said that “two FBI agents” had come to his office to inquire about my activities (he had been outraged that the agents had come to him and not to my father for information about his son!).
It was also a pair of FBI agents who came, unannounced, to my dorm room at Wesleyan University a year earlier, when a group of us students had been hiding my roommate’s older brother, a Marine who had deserted from the service on a visit home from Vietnam whom we later helped escape to Canada and ultimately Sweden. In fact, so common were the visits by agents to anti-war activists that we on the left back in those days used to laugh that the FBI guys always looked like Jehovah’s witnesses when they’d knock on your door on a visit, traveling in pairs and wearing their neatly pressed suits.
Jokes aside, though, there is a reason that FBI agents work in pairs. It’s not that they can’t handle themselves in a confrontation, though safety no doubt is part of it. It’s that lying to a federal law enforcement agent is a felony — one that is very easy to prosecute and win conviction on and that has long proved useful for locking people up when conviction for a bigger crime might be difficult — but it is necessary to have a witness to make such a case. Two FBI agents means that there is always a witness to such lying — one that a jury will be inclined to believe.
So how did it come to pass that when Todashev made his alleged lunge — armed with knife, sword, chair, pipe, broomstick or whatever — at the FBI agent in question, that agent was alone in the apartment with him?
We’re asked to believe that the other agent (two actually, as there were reportedly three of them involved in a five-hour interrogation at the house earlier that night), and several Massachusetts state cops who were also along in Orlando, Florida for the questioning of Todashev, had inexplicably just “left the room” for some reason. That’s a lot of people all needing to relieve themselves at the same time!
This “explanation” for the creation of a situation allowing for a fatal two-man fight strains credulity to the breaking point. The FBI also claims that Todashev had already “confessed,” or was “about to confess” (whatever that means) to having been involved in the triple murder of the drug dealers, though that alleged confession (or pending confession) was, also incredibly, not recorded. Todashev was being questioned too, reportedly, about his links to the Tsarnaev brothers, and was thought to know about their alleged plans for marathon mayhem, so presumably keeping him alive to testify would have been very important to the pending federal case against the surviving younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
I would submit that it is simply not believable that such a suspect would not have been carefully guarded, carefully searched for weapons, and carefully secured in some fashion — most likely with handcuffs, before being questioned. I would also submit that there is no way that one lone agent would have been left alone with him under any circumstances, and not just for security reasons, but because Todashev was supposedly being interrogated, and there had to be a witness to his answers besides just the agent doing the questioning.
On TV, we do see agents or cops playing the old “good-cop-bad-cop” game with suspects, but that is always in a locked interrogation room, where the suspect has been searched for weapons already, and where reinforcements are just outside the door, ready to rush into the room should things get out of hand. Maybe this agent was the “bad cop” who was going to beat the crap out of Todashev while the other agents and cops were not there to call him off, you say? But if that was the case, he would either have had to be a very confident black belt to be alone confronting Todashev, who was known by the FBI to be a mixed martial arts expert, or he would have had his gun drawn. Furthermore, if beating up Tsarnaev, or torturing him, was the plan, they would have already cuffed him and locked him to a chair or table, since there was no advantage to be had by leaving him loose and free to counter-attack or defend himself.
The agent’s response to being allegedly attacked by the apparently un-restrained and variously armed Todashev (the FBI is now admitting that the victim was unarmed  throughout the incident), was to draw his gun and kill the suspect with seven shots, including one fired, execution-style, to the back of the head.
Todashev, who had already been questioned, had already told a friend earlier that he was worried that he was being “framed” by the FBI. Does that sound like someone who would have willingly testified to guilt in a brutal triple murder?
I don’t know what happened at midnight in Orlando in Todashev’s apartment, but it seems clear to me that what the FBI is saying happened, and what it is claiming Todashev told them, is not what it was. The ACLU seems to agree and is calling for an “outside investigation”  of the FBI killing.
America under President and Drone Commander Barack Obama and a “Justice” Department headed by Eric Holder, is fast becoming a very dangerous place — one that has much more in common with the Colonies under British rule than the one that the Founders envisioned when they appended the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. Indeed, if, as it certainly appears, Todashev was executed by the FBI, it is a country that more closely resembles China or Nazi Germany than the free country we all were taught that we lived in.
Source URL: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1778
Of all the delusions we entertain in our lives, both individually and collectively, that we are the “masters of our own destiny” has got to be one of the grandest. It is emboldening to feel we are somehow ‘in control’, ‘in charge’ of the myriad forces and influences that surround and inhabit us but in reality we seem more like high-stakes gamblers than gods, playing a numbers game not fully aware of the odds that, as often as not, are resolutely stacked against us.
Long before ‘rationalism’ convinced us it was able to even up these odds thus moving into the dominant position it now occupies in the modern psyche, an old proverb, originating from not only a different era but also school of thought, suggested a more subtle and unpredictable relationship between mans actions and the consequences of those actions, in other words between causes and their inevitable, if not immediately obvious, effects. It was a clear warning to those who presume superiority and dominion over wild, unruly Nature and attempt to subjugate it to a mere predictable mechanism. “They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind”, goes the ancient saying which seeks to reintroduce the principle of the ‘unknown’, the ‘unaccounted for’ back into the minds of those who cling to their sophisticated certainties and complacencies. As Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defence in the Bush administration and no stranger to an elevated sense of certainty, famously and rather ironically put it: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
The Hidden Conditionality
In 1961 mathematician and meteorologist Professor Edward Lorenz working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, made what appeared to be an accidental discovery whilst running some tests on his new, though by today’s standards rather primitive computer, the charmingly named Royal McBee LGP-30. This discovery has helped to change our perception of just how surprisingly sensitive the world, as a vast, organic System made up of many minor, interconnected systems, actually is upending the reductionist, ‘world as giant machine’ model which many, particularly in science, have subscribed to.
Far-reaching ideas often originate and ripple outwards from simple, seemingly insignificant insights; the concept of splitting the atom, for example, must be about as small and inconsequential a starting-point as one can imagine. Lorenz’s profound realisation began life rather similarly. In one of those early tests, in 1961, he re-entered data into his computer for a re-run of a weather simulation he had already completed, but this time using the numbers direct from the original printout. To his surprise, he found that the simulation ended with a totally different result. Using exactly the same input data, the final outcome should have been identical. He did this many times over and kept finding the same wild variations. The reason was that the Royal McBee had, in the first instance, entered numbers to an accuracy of six decimal points, whereas the subsequent printout was rounding them off to three decimal points. It was only a margin of error of less than 0.1 per cent, then seen as quite insignificant over a whole experiment, and yet it resulted in huge deviations from the original, exposing the underlying conditionality limiting the science of long-term prediction and a killer-blow to those who see in it an omnipotent future for man and computer.
Lorenz was not the first to have had an inkling of this somewhat hidden conditionality. Over 100 years earlier, the brilliant French mathematician Jules Henri Poincare, whose work also showed that systems are not as stable or predictable as they were previously assumed to be, was largely misunderstood and ignored. Post-Lorenz though that insight, perhaps finding a more receptive time in which to take root than the 1800s of Poincare, has taken on a whole new dimension, showing up the limitations of systemic modelling and analysis, something we have become, in our attempts to ‘manage risk’, increasingly dependent upon and especially with the advent of computers. This, for example, was clearly played out in 2007 at the very beginning of the global financial crisis, when predictive models employed to chart the behaviour of international trade and capital flows, under an atmosphere – not fully recognised at the time – of accentuated volatility proved to be misrepresentative leaving policy-makers, forecasters and speculators completely wrong-footed. Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman, stated in late 2008, before a Congressional hearing in Washington, “I have discovered a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works”, in what can only be described as a moment of frank admission, for an ultra-rationalist. He added, “This modern risk-management paradigm held sway for decades…The whole intellectual edifice, however, collapsed in the summer of last year “. He was referring partly to his shaken belief in a neo-liberal, ‘free-market’ economic model, and to the ability to predict and control its behaviour, which, on Mr Greenspan’s watch, has managed to dysfunctionalise the entire global economic system and caused untold suffering. Some, including many notable economists, say his policies, whilst the head of the Fed, were significantly responsible for the onset of the financial crisis as they encouraged the sub-prime housing bubble, and it’s inevitable collapse, by keeping interest rates too low for too long – “easy money”. And he failed to rein in the explosive growth of the largely unregulated business of derivatives, risky financial instruments that, as he admitted in the Washington hearing, were out of control and had created havoc throughout the financial world. In 1994, Greenspan successfully opposed the implementation of tougher regulations and restrictions on the derivatives market.
Of course the world still operates predictably and measurably in many ways, as our extraordinary modern science has shown but it has become increasingly clear that this is by no means the full story. Those now infamous “masters of the universe”, both in high finance and science, over-dependent on speculative theories and models, hell-bent on retaining their triple-A, god-like status, have tended to conveniently overlook this underlying fact. All systems, which inevitably experience conditions of stress and can therefore become highly sensitized as a result, are prone to unstable, unpredictable modes of behaviour; an instability which can be symptomatic of being driven too hard and to the very limits of natural functioning. It is a warning indicator that any particular system is reaching or has reached a ‘tipping-point’, beyond which it will move into a disturbed and increasingly dysfunctional phase of activity and eventually completely collapse, much like a wheel coming loose from it’s axle; at first wobbling uncontrollably and then coming off altogether. The climate of a particular region, for example, may be masking underlying instability latent in that system and so the potential for disruptive weather patterns is present but remains unnoticed. Similarly with the economy, where many learned and even Nobel-prize winning economists have been caught out, admitting that they did not see this “once in a lifetime” crisis coming. And in the case of the environment, no one truly knows what might unravel if we reach that ominous tipping-point of a polar ice cap and permafrost meltdown.
The sensitivity of systems to influencing factors which may be miniscule, as Lorenz discovered, and therefore virtually impossible to monitor, no matter how accurate the devices used, is often referred to by the well-known term ‘butterfly effect’. It points to the fact that when systems like the climate, environment or economy are in an inherently unstable condition it can lead to unforeseen events even with the smallest of initial disturbances. Like the turbulence generated by the beat of a butterfly’s wings or for that matter the splitting of an atom which, again when the fissile material, on an atomic level, is unstable enough, can set in motion a cataclysmic chain of events. Put another way, in a highly charged ‘atmosphere’, using the word in its broadest sense, it often only takes the smallest of switching devices, a hair-trigger, to move it rapidly into an either destructive or creative phase of activity. The tension inherent in that atmosphere or environment seeks to be diffused, discharged either dramatically as takes place in a lightning strike or gradually like the steady flow of household electricity, kept relatively safe and useable by a whole network of regulating mechanisms and in stark contrast to our neoliberalised and therefore deregulated financial system, which some believe is “ready to blow” – like a whirlwind. The trigger-point or activating ‘seed’ may be minute but in a system, in a sense, ‘fertile’ enough it can grow exponentially into say a hurricane, nuclear explosion, stock market implosion or even social revolution – not by any means a new phenomena but one we are seeing today in a globalised form which includes protest movements like the Arab Spring, the Spanish Indignados and the Occupy Movement.
The True Nature of Justice
There can be little doubt that the ‘global atmosphere’, so to speak, today is one that indeed can be characterised as highly charged, socially, politically, economically and environmentally not to mention the inner storm brewing up in our collective psyche. These are uncertain times with uncertain futures and distressing to a world that appears, to anyone who has eyes to see and not their head jammed firmly in the sand, to have completely lost it’s way. In the lead-up to its annual meeting, the World Economic Forum published its annual report in January 2013 – Global Risks – warning of potential dangers to the functioning of our most critical systems. Compiled by a panel of 1,000 experts, it urged policy-makers to address the key issues of severe income disparities, the indebted state of governments and rising greenhouse gas emissions. The report states: “Continued stress on the economic system is positioned to absorb the attention of leaders for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the Earth’s environmental system is simultaneously coming under increasing stress. Future simultaneous shocks to both systems could trigger the ‘perfect storm’ with potentially insurmountable consequences… On the economic front, global resilience is being tested by bold monetary and austere fiscal policies. On the environmental front, the Earth’s resilience is being tested by rising global temperatures and extreme weather events that are likely to become more frequent and severe. A sudden and massive collapse on one front is certain to doom the other’s chance of developing an effective, long-term solution.”
We have sown the wind and the whirlwind has surely followed. That is a fact whether generally accepted or not. Many of the operating systems of the planet, as stated above, are under tremendous pressure and are showing the telltale signs of distress and dysfunctionality. The most obvious of course being the degradation of our living environment, which includes pollution and climate change, and yet there are those who are still quite able to rationalise the whole problem away, conveniently understating the human factor and choosing instead to put the emphasis on ‘nature’s cycles’.
As the well over-used cliché puts it, we are now in uncharted territory – a realm of “unknown unknowns” – though perhaps not quite as uncharted as we imagine. For it is always that Nature, an ultimately benevolent, self-regulating Organism, sooner or later, responds to extremes with balancing corrective measures. When the excesses of our planet reach the toxic levels they so obviously have today, with say environmental destruction, carbon dioxide emissions, the wealth and income inequality that exists between the so-called haves and have-nots and many other socio-economic injustices, Nature at a certain point kicks in. Like a safety valve letting off steam it attempts to stem the destructive energetic imbalance before it becomes dangerously polarised, much like an electrical storm, mentioned earlier, seeks to neutralise the build-up of a super-charged differential. There seems in-built in Nature a correcting factor, an element of Universal Justice, which attempts to harmonise destructive inequities and one we appear to be quite unaware of, or at least act as if we are.
In essence, and not to put too fine a point on it, we have somehow succeeded in creating a global ‘energy-bomb’, for want of a better way of putting it, with many factors having gone into its assemblage and ourselves as the unfortunate targets – the ultimate in suicide missions, albeit an unconscious one. The mounting tensions of the world have been, at best, misunderstood, at worst overlooked and ignored for generations by a long succession of influential policy-makers, both in global politics and economics. This has led to a dangerous and seemingly intractable, bomb-like concentration of problems affecting all aspects of life. It has created this super-charged atmosphere, a supercell of disharmony and dis-ease, which will take some skill and a considerable amount of patience to diffuse before some unforeseen trigger sets in motion a catastrophic chain of events, in the same way a single, well-placed bullet, killing Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914, acted as the tiny spark that seeded what would later become the raging inferno of World War One.
The world cries out, knowingly or not, for a team of skillful operators with abilities in all fields, whose primary task it is to diffuse the currently explosive situation facing the planet. High level, high-calibre compromisers and negotiators, a role for which the United Nations was originally set up, respected by many and able to take the sting out of the gathering mother of all storms, we have all unintentionally reaped, before it does further untold and perhaps irreversible damage to an already beleaguered planet. At this time of extraordinary significance can we make the right choices in the sense that we accept what the present situation demands from us, as laid down by the Universal Laws of Nature, particularly the key Law of Cause and Effect, which in the end express the interconnectedness of all things? The universe itself is bound together by the interplay of these underpinning guiding principles, as science is continually re-discovering. Why is it humanity thinks it can reasonably exist in some fantasy realm beyond them? And, perhaps more importantly, when will we wake up to this dangerous delusion and renounce these outlaw ways which have brought us all to the very edge of extinction without even fully realising it? That is the question of our times. We appear not to have forever to answer it.
Last week the Senate passed Resolution 65, mandating a new round of sanctions against Iran and promising to support Israel if it should choose to launch a unilateral war. The bill contradicted explicit US policy in a number of areas: it imposed secondary penalties on US allies; it lowered the bar for military action to Israel’s preferred language of “nuclear capability” rather than acquisition of a nuclear weapon; and it interferes with the attempt to reach a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear impasse at a delicate time. No wonder Secretary of State John Kerry implored Congress not to pass the bill when he testified before the Senate Foreign relations committee last month.
Nevertheless, the Senate bill came to a vote on May 22, and the result – in a roll call vote – was 99-0 in favor of the bill.
In the last Congress, another Iran Sanctions measure – an amendment attached to the 2012 Defense Appropriation Bill — was also opposed by the Obama administration. The provision, probably illegal under WTO rules, mandated secondary penalties against foreign banks which did business with Iran’s oil sector (US banks were already banned from doing so). Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner wrote a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee “to express the Administration’s strong opposition to this amendment because, in its current form, it threatens to undermine the effective, carefully phased, and sustainable approach we have taken to build strong international pressure against Iran.” Two State Department officials of the Administration testified against the amendment; Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry also opposed the measure.
However, when the amendment’s sponsors insisted on a roll call vote, it passed 100-0. Even Senator Kerry voted for the measure he had earlier opposed.
To understand how this can happen, it is useful to look at the Israel Lobby’s legislative MO — as well as the larger dynamic around Israel advocacy within the US Congress, in our political system and in the press.
AIPAC, of course, is the premier Israel Lobby organization. Every March at its annual Conference the group assembles a huge turnout of moneyed and grassroots lobbyists. Scores of members of Congress from both parties and political aspirants of all stripes jockey to express their loyalty to the Lobby. It is at these conferences that AIPAC’s major legislative priorities for the year are unveiled. This always includes renewed (and increased) military aid for Israel and for the last ten years or so various measures to oppose, sanction and preferably make war on to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran — Israel’s last remaining serious military opponent in the Middle East.
Here is the way it works.
–In the days before the yearly AIPAC conference in early March, reliable members of Congress from both parties – preferably non-Jews – are prevailed upon to submit AIPAC-drafted bills with a substantial number of initial bi-partisan sponsors. This year the highlighted legislation included House Res. 850, The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013,introduced on February 28 by California Democrat Rep. Edward Royce and 31 co-sponsors (16 Democrats and 15 Republicans); and Senate Res. 65, Strongly Supporting the Full Implementation of United States and International Sanctions On Iran, also introduced on February 28 by the every dependable Senator Lindsey Graham [R-SC] and 22 initial co-sponsors (13 Democrats and 9 Republicans). Another bill, apparently a late entry from the March 2-4 Conference itself, did not follow the preferred pattern. House Res. 938, The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 was introduced hurriedly on March 4 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-FL27] with only two Democratic co-sponsors. These three bills embodied AIPAC’s 2013 declared legislative priorities: Prevent Iranian Nuclear Weapons Capability; Strengthen U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation; Support Security Assistance for Israel.
– Then, before leaving Washington, the AIPAC Conference attendees launch themselves on Capitol Hill to recruit more co-sponsors for the AIPAC bills. Initially, this is mostly pushing on an open door, as many legislators are eager to join the bandwagon; some were simply not asked earlier in the interest of bi-partisan balance; some were not quick enough to get listed when the initial bills were introduced. Within a few weeks of the AIPAC Conference Senate Res. 65 had an additional 55 co-sponsors, House Res. 850 added more than 250 sponsors; and House Res. 983 more than 150.
–The effort continues to line up more cosponsors with the aim of securing an irresistible momentum for the bills. Many legislators simply take more time to pin down; others (few) might have been reluctant holdouts persuaded not to find themselves isolated against the AIPAC juggernaut. An AIPAC staffer once famously bragged that “in twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on a napkin”. It took a little longer this time, but Senate Res. 65 already had 91 co-sponsors before it came up for a vote. House Res. 850, still pending, now has 351 co-sponsors; H. Res. 983 has 271.
–Not all AIPAC-initiated legislation follows this pattern. Other bills or amendments come up during the year and are pushed as opportunities or needs present themselves. Some of these bills – and the frequent “Congressional Letters” of support for Israel — have little practical impact on policy but are part of AIPAC’s promotion of discipline among US legislators. I call it “puppy training,” so that members of Congress are reflexively obedient to AIPAC’s legislative agenda. The 29 standing ovations for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he addressed Congress in 2011 are a good illustration of the outcome. Pavlov had nothing on the Israel Lobby.
It might be tempting to conclude – as AIPAC and its allies contend – that Congress acts in response to the overwhelming public support for Israel. However, it is important to observe that votes on the Lobby’s bills are rarely much publicized in the US – as opposed to Israeli –mainstream media. Of course, the pro-Israel political machine, the Rightwing and Zionist blogosphere do pay close attention, ever-ready to reward or punish legislative misbehavior. Most of the public remains, by design, completely unaware of these political maneuverings. Not long ago, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor proposed voting separately on military aid to Israel so as to insulate it from potential cuts to Pentagon spending, but he was quickly persuaded to drop the idea. The Israel Lobby prefers to have the $3 billion plus in annual aid to Israel discretely hidden within the vast Defense Appropriation Bill.
So the power of AIPAC derives not fundamentally from Israel’s vast popularity. Although opinion polls do regularly confirm the public supports Israel at a much higher level than the Palestinians (no surprise), substantial pluralities still prefer that the US stay neutral in the conflict. I have seen no polling about support for the billions in military aid to Israel each year. It is hard to imagine that the majority response would be anything but negative in the light of cuts to funding other popular government programs. Not surprisingly the Lobby prefers “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on the question of yearly $billions for Israel.
The apparent dominance of the Israel Lobby in Congress stems from what I would call “asymmetric politics”. AIPAC represents the power of a well-funded and single-issue political machine. It is quick to punish recalcitrant legislators – or to reward good behavior with dollars and campaign support from the many PACS and rich donors who take its direction.
On the other side, the advocates for Palestinian rights are scattered, poor and little threat to incumbent legislators. The Arab and Muslim communities cannot match the Israel Lobby’s Jewish financial base or it mobilized grassroots numbers. Many of their communities are relatively new in the US, insecure and targeted by the well-funded complex of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim mobilization since 9/11. The great mass of the public are simply not involved and not paying much attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict or much aware of pro-Israel political power in Congress.
Seen in this light, members of Congress – ever averse to risk, as are all elected officials – are behaving rationally when they defer to the Israel Lobby. They pay little or no price for playing ball with AIPAC and risk a backlash with no apparent reward if they don’t.
As for the broader anti-war and progressive movements, even when they have adopted good positions on Palestinian rights or opposing the Lobby-supported drive for war with Iran, these issues usually turn out to be “expendable” in comparison to other agendas.
Two recent examples will illustrate this dynamic.
This Spring, a well-established national peace organization, with a significant branch in Massachusetts, decided to endorse Democratic Rep. Ed Markey prior to the special primary election for John Kerry’s vacated Senate seat. Markey is on the right side of most issues progressive hold dear, but he was also an initial supporter of the Iraq War. And he has become a very reliable backer of Israel-Lobby legislative priorities, where in Massachusetts he is something of an outlier on these issues. He was among only three Mass delegation co-sponsors of H. Res. 850 and among only two of H. Res. 983. He is also a dependable signer of whatever letter AIPAC is collecting signatures for, such as the one supporting the assault on Gaza a few years ago.
Some members of the peace organization argued in favor of no endorsement for Markey – at least in the primary – because of his poor record on Iran and Palestine, but they were outvoted. The majority argued that an endorsement and fundraising for Markey would give them “access” to promote better positions on these issues after the election. A cynic may wonder whether Markey, or any other progressive legislator would take this seriously. A long-serving national board member of the group resigned in protest.
Then there is Massachusetts’ celebrity Senator Elizabeth Warren. Many of her progressive supporters were uneasy over the boiler-plate pro-Israel language on her campaign web site, however there was little doubt that she was a genuine populist on other issues and would bring a rare progressive voice to the halls of Congress. This, in large measure, she has done.
However, when push came to shove, Sen. Warren was persuaded to add her name as a sponsor to Senate Res. 65 – late to be sure (not until May 7) – and she joined in the unanimous vote in favor of the bill. Now Warren, a faculty member of Harvard Law School undoubtedly knows the score on the Israel and Iran issues. It is hard to imagine she hasn’t had certain conversations in the Faculty Club about Palestine, heard about the many events at her school on issues of Human Rights and International Law in the Middle East or understood the role of the Israel Lobby in war-promotion and military spending.
No doubt Warren rationalized her vote pragmatically. Why risk becoming an isolated Senate freshman and losing her political credibility? Why not submit to what was required in order to give her space to battle on other political issues she cared about? For Senator Warren – as for so many progressives and Liberals — her seat is worth the price of a vote for AIPAC.
This is the way asymmetric politics works for the Israel Lobby. It is the dynamic that puts our country in opposition to most of the world with respect to International Law and peace in the Middle East. And it may yet succeed in getting us into a war with Iran.