In the recent film X-men: Days of Future Past, the “Sentinels” are robots programmed by non-mutant humans in the government to hunt and keep down the feared and marginalized population of “mutants.” Eventually, however, their programming undergoes major “mission creep,” and according to Wikipedia, the Sentinels, “expand their targets beyond mutants to baseline humans based on the logic that they have the potential to produce mutant descendants, culminating in a dystopian future where most of humanity and mutantkind have been wiped out.” This is an apt parable for the police state, which is also used against the marginalized, but which also eventually will turn on its creators and enablers.

Pre-mission-creep.

Post-mission-creep.

The late scholar Chalmers Johnson used to say, “Either give up your empire, or live under it,” referring to the truth that foreign empires tend to foster domestic police states. American experience, especially in past years, has shown just how prescient this unheeded warning was. The September 11, 2001 terrorist blowback from U.S. imperialism in the Middle East excused a massive swelling of the “homeland” security state, as well as an imperialist double-down in the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. These foreign wars, in turn, engorged our police state even further, as a torrent of surplus military gear streamed into our local police and sheriff’s departments, ramping up an already long-running militarization of the police in America.

Chief Ken Geddes poses with the Preston, Idaho police department’s new MRAP.

This militarization has been largely under the radar, in spite of efforts to publicize it by prolific libertarian writers like Will Grigg and Radley Balko. The issue has finally broken into public consciousness and mainstream media coverage after police responded to protests and unrest (over the police shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown) in Ferguson, Missouri with militarized full-spectrum dominance, putting all their new toys from the Pentagon to use and on display.

And yet, even with their news and social media feeds bombarded by images of an American town that are indistinguishable from images of occupied Iraq, many conservatives are still clinging to a “Support Your Local Police” attitude toward the matter. They don’t see the images as indicative of the tyranny of empire “coming home.”

Wall of high beams facing anyone approaching Ferguson, Missouri.

This in part is due to identity politics, which currently dominates judgments concerning public affairs, at the expense of principled concerns for justice and individual rights. These generally non-black, middle-class “law and order” conservatives identify with “black neighborhood” blacks in Ferguson about as little as they identify with Arab townsfolk or bedouins. To many of them, it is not a truly American town that is being militarily occupied, or true Americans being tear gassed. In X-men argot, they’re not “baseline humans,” so it is deemed okay if the “Sentinels” get rough with them.
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Ron Paul is 79 today

Libertarians owe him a great debt, one which can never be repaid. Without him, it’s more than likely that our movement would’ve either gone off the rails, succumbing to opportunism of the worst sort, or else slipped into obscurity, never to be seen or heard from again. Thanks to him,  neither of those dreadful scenarios occurred.

What happened instead was the almost miraculous growth and development of libertarianism into a viable national movement, with “mainstream” media forced to sit up and take notice. Now we are told we may be approaching the “libertarian moment” — by the New York Times, no less! — and 90 percent of the credit (maybe more!) goes to Ron  and the movement he inspired.

But it wasn’t easy. Three presidential campaigns, one under the Libertarian Party banner and two in the GOP primaries, with him travelling all over the country non-stop — a heroic effort for a man of his years. And he looks fabulous: I should only look that good at 79!

His career limns the upward trajectory of the rising libertarian movement, spanning the years when libertarians were totally unknown to the general public — I recall hearing, after telling someone that I was a libertarian, “I didn’t know the librarians had their own party!” — to our present Libertarian Moment. Without him, we may have reached it, eventually — but surely not as soon. And I know many of my readers will agree with me when I say it has come not a moment too soon.

To readers of this web site who may not be libertarians — and there are many — what’s important about Ron and the movement he spawned is the awareness he has brought to the public of the dangers inherent in our interventionist foreign policy. He has stood like a rock, even in the darkest days of the post-9/11 era, when even the staunchest peace advocates hesitated to raise their voices and the War Party was on the march. He stood up to the bully Rudy Giuliani, the has-been NY mayor and failed GOP presidential candidate, who was riding high at the time: he stood firm even as the know-nothings booed him and he told the truth about the gross stupidity and immorality of a foreign policy that has reaped such a whirlwind in the years since that moment. He stood up to the smears  of the War Party — and they’re still attacking him. Yet his stature, far from being diminished, only grows. At the age of 79, he is still speaking truth to power.

I have to tell a little story about Ron that underscores his sterling personal qualities as well as his ideological virtues. In my fiery youth, not even Ron Paul was radical enough for my tastes and I remember penning (yes, it was so long ago that we had pens in those days!) an article attacking him for “selling out.” It was a long diatribe, which was published in a long-defunct journal of which I was the editor. Not long after, I was surprised to receive a letter from him which was as gracious as can be, pointing out that “I don’t believe we are as far apart as you believe” and warmly inviting me to visit with him when I came to Washington. I published the letter in our paper, and came across it the other day as I was going through my old files.

Personally and politically, the man is a saint.

One last thing: I’ve been a Ron Paul-watcher for many years, and what I’ve seen of his long career is unusual in the sense that most people get more conservative as they get older: Ron, on the other hand, only got more radical. Radicalism is often thought of as the exclusive province of youth but in Ron’s case just the opposite pattern occurred. Through some alchemy of spirit, he’s just gotten younger over the years — which is perhaps part of the reason why he has inspired a vital and growing youth movement that has no equivalent on the left or the right.  Thanks in large part to Ron, the future of the libertarian movement is bright indeed — and how can you thank a man for fulfilling the dreams of your youth? You can’t, really — you can only try.

Somewhat lost in the first-hand account of last week’s helicopter crash by NY Times reporter Alissa Rubin, who was injured in the incident, was a potentially important revelation about the attacks on the Iraqi Yazidi minority.

The pilot really made a big impression. You know, the Yazidis feel so betrayed by the Arab neighbors they had lived among for so many years; they all turned on the Yazidis when ISIS came. Many of the atrocities were carried out not by the militants but by their own neighbors.

The focus in the story is on the pilot, himself a Sunni Arab from the region, trying to save his neighbor Yazidis even as others had turned on them. That’s important, without a doubt, but ignores the more important point, that ISIS didn’t actually carry out many of the attacks on the Yazidis.

So to sum up, President Obama started a war to save 40,000 trapped Yazidis from ISIS, and there weren’t 40,000 of them, and they weren’t trapped, and now it turns out ISIS also wasn’t nearly so involved as previously indicated. America was lied into the first Iraq War in 2003 on some mightly flimsy pretexts, but it seems the administration didn’t learn any of the lessons, even bad lessons like keeping your lies less transparent, and the whole pretext collapsed in just over a week. The war, however, will go on much, much longer.

In the wake of the U.S.-engineered coup in Ukraine, the Western Press warns us solemnly and relentlessly that Vladimir Putin is Beelzebub himself, the leader of a vicious and backward Russia. Such deceit is reckless in the extreme since it puts the U.S. at odds with a nuclear power, one that is far from the weak nation that a condescending and insulting Obama sought to depict in his recent interview with The Economist, debunked here. Of course such lies are not new. In our own lifetimes they have been generated to justify US interventions in Korea, Iran, Guatamala, Cuba, Vietnam, Brazil, Chile, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and the list goes on.

What are we to do in the face of this avalanche of lies? Such deception becomes most intense when directed at the three paramount and enduring enemies in the eyes of the US imperial elite – China, Russia and Iran.

But all is not lost. We now have a plan to combat these falsehoods, thanks to Secretary of State John Kerry whom we in Massachusetts know all too well as a blundering, blustering, bellicose blowhard –and, lest we forget, a nauseating narcissist. The Blowhard recently warned us not to read the Russian outlet RT.com, which he decried as a "bullhorn" for Russian propaganda. I have often heard truth coming over bullhorns on street corner rallies, but I have yet to hear an iota of it from a blowhard – most especially this one.

This leads us to a modest proposal for one’s daily regimen, as bracing as an early morning run. Each day quickly peruse RT.com from Russia, China Daily from China and PressTV from Iran. Or at least look at the headlines – and see whether you want to read more.

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Israel’s slaughter of over 1900 Palestinians in Gaza, by far and away most of whom were civilians, got me thinking about Western civilization. Mahatma Gandhi is often cited as responding to a question about Western civilization saying he thought it would be a good idea. However, recent research suggests Gandhi likely didn’t make this quip.

Regarding Western civilization though, there are many impressive accomplishments such as the Renaissance, wonderful arts, tremendous scientific discoveries and medical advances, and the great ideas of liberty and human rights. However, these advances are countered by events such as the Spanish Inquisition, slavery, Western colonial conquest and butchery in Africa, Asia and the Americas, US genocide of the American Indians, the Belgian robbery of and murderous campaign in the Congo Free State, WWI with its almost 14 million deaths, and the Jim Crow racism in the US.

Even if we only examine events since 1940, the Nazi Holocaust killed over 11 million people, including about 6 million Jews. WWII resulted in over 60 million deaths. War crimes such as the fire bombing of cities were followed by the unconscionable US use of atomic bombs against Japan on August 6th and August 9th, 1945.

The use of nuclear weapons eventually led to the mad policy of mutual assured destruction between the US and the USSR that threatened the entire world with destruction. That insane policy is still in play today, now between the US and Russia.

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Israel’s month-long military barrage of Gaza known as "Protective Edge" included numerous attacks on civilian-populated sites, including on homes, hospitals, mosques, markets and United Nation (UN) schools-turned-shelters. To date, Israel’s assault has killed at least 1,300 Palestinian civilians, including over 400 children, and injured more than 10,000. An estimated half a million people have been displaced. Upwards of 10,000 homes have been destroyed and countless others partially damaged. Strikes on some of the abovementioned sites have prompted international calls for officials of Israel’s government to be investigated for possible war crimes in Gaza.

Referring to the deadly July 30 attack on a UN school, the human rights organization Amnesty International argued that "If the strike on this school was the result of Israeli artillery fire it would constitute an indiscriminate attack and a likely war crime." On August 7, citing "mounting evidence" that Israel engaged in “apparently deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals in Gaza" which "left six medics dead" and injured many more, Amnesty International called for an "immediate investigation." The organization also published “disturbing testimonies from doctors, nurses, and ambulance personnel” which detailed "harrowing" lifesaving efforts of medical personnel faced with an "utterly impossible situation" of working "with bombs and bullets killing or injuring their colleagues." Military attacks of this sort, according to Amnesty International, "are absolutely prohibited by international law and would amount to war crimes" and "only add to the already compelling argument that the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court."

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