Monday, July 22, 2013

Bill Whittle on the lynching of George Zimmerman

The lynching of hero George Zimmerman... very powerful, very disturbing.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Obama's war on Zimmerman

Obama, Holder, and the DoJ worked behind the scenes to organize demonstrations and protests against Zimmerman, sending a federal team to Florida to help coordinate such and also spending over $5000 in taxpayer funds on them.  It's not much money...but how can the DoJ be legally or morally spending anything organizing demonstrations designed to sway an outcome in a criminal trial???

It's astounding that Barack Obama and Eric Holder used the U.S. Dept. of Justice to organize demonstrations to try to influence a state jury trial.  If this isn't a violation of Constitutional separation of powers as well as obstruction of justice, what is?  But there's a deeper problem than just the corruption of Obama and Holder -- DoJ's CRS (Community Relations Service) appears to have a record of racism, or what former director Ondray Harris politely calls "racial favoritism."

And now the Obama/Holder DoJ is teamed with the NAACP to try to cook up a federal civil rights case against Zimmerman.  DoJ has no evidence that Zimmerman committed a "civil rights crime," so it has established a "George Zimmerman tip line" for people to call in "evidence" that Zimmerman is a racist.  Go ahead and explain how such an action could have any legitimacy at all...especially when there's solid evidence that Zimmerman is a civil rights activist who single-handedly waged a campaign on behalf of a black homeless man who was beaten by the son of a police official.  But legitimacy, legality, and morality are concepts foreign to our current regime.

Racist and general scoundrel Al Sharpton is also squeezing as much political and financial gain from this as possible, so much so that various observers have wondered whether he isn't running the show, e.g. here and here.  Sharpton has been boasting that he and his rabble are "peaceful," of course.

Obama and Co, black racists like Al Sharpton, and progressives appear dead set on demonizing and destroying Zimmerman for political purposes.  No doubt Zimmerman's latest exploit, rescuing a family of four from a crashed automobile, will be taken as some sort of evidence against him by . anything that promotes the cause.

May George Zimmerman prevail again!

George Zimmerman, I apologize

George Zimmerman, I apologize. I was wrong.  I regret it.

I only posted three times on the Zimmerman affair, and two out of three of the posts argued that Mr. Zimmerman was guilty. (They are here: one, two, and three.)As I promised, I waited until the due process of law had run its course. It has, and I am quite confident that Zimmerman's acquittal is just and well-warranted.

Reading my earlier posts embarrasses me a little, but I am rather pleased that I did get things right in an important sense. In my first post on the subject I wrote, "[i]f the accounts reported in the press are true..."  I want on to analyze the story reported invented by the mainstream media.  Sure, if Zimmerman had assaulted Martin, he'd have had no grounds for subsequently shooting him, but that's not what happened.  Martin assaulted Zimmerman.  It was not self defense on Martin's part.  Zimmerman was blindsided by Martin.  So says the evidence.

What blindsided me was the extent to which the press lied in order to frame Zimmerman.  I know the MSM is biased, but I would not have expected them to fabricate "evidence," e.g. the editing of George Zimmerman's 911 call so that it said things he did not say, or running old pictures of Martin to make him look like a harmless little boy, or denying that Zimmerman had any injuries at all.

We now know that Martin had Zimmerman pinned to the ground and was pounding him as well as slamming his head against the pavement.  Zimmerman was yelling for help.  There's eyewitness testimony to this, and Martin's actions were a violation of the law.  Legitimate self defense it does not permit one to continue to attack a threat one it ceases, and there's no evidence that Martin was engaging in self defense in the first place.  There is, however, evidence suggesting that Martin himself was a criminal -- among other things he'd previously been found with jewelry stolen in a burglary.  (This sordid story, somehow missed by the MSM, involves a police chief who fabricated crime statistics to show falling rates.  He defined crimes by high school students as mere "disciplinary problems;" the chief subsequently was fired.)

I have not thought much of the MSM for quite some time, but I'm still taken aback by the viciousness and willingness to lie exhibited here.  That the media would repeatedly lie, invent pseudo-facts, and frame an innocent man all for political purposes is so far over the top I wouldn't have expected it even of them.  I guess it's part of this "new American normal."

Jeralyn Merritt and Alan Dershowitz, both very left of center and high profile attorneys, called this case correctly. Dershowitz has gone so far as to call for disbarring of the prosecutors for their thuggish tactics, which included withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense.

This was a political show trial, we now know, but unlike those Stalin conducted, there was an actual defense and an actual jury... and actual justice.  Now Barack Obama and Eric Holder -- America's own proto-Stalin-and-Beria -- are contemplating charging Zimmerman with "civil rights" violations.  DoJ is working with the NAACP and other anti-white groups to cook up a case against Zimmerman.  It's these two who need to be disbarred, impeached, removed from office, and sent to criminal trial.  The administration and its sycophants and the press are acting criminally at this point (what else can you call such lawlessness?) and are out to destroy justice and replace it with "social justice." Zimmerman is just a symbol for them; they clearly do not care about facts or guilt or innocence.  It's a leftist jihad, and it is dangerous for everyone who believes in genuine justice.

I wish George Zimmerman all the best and thank him for being a citizen willing to stand up against criminals.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Yesterday the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge by victims of NSA's domestic spying program against FISC's (the Foreign Intelligence Service Court) order that authorizes wholesale warrantless spying.  SCOTUS usually won't consider a case until it has been through lower courts, but in the nightmarish down-the-rabbit's hole world of FISA no one has standing to challenge anything FISC does.  That's right ... "mere" American citizens are not permitted to go to FISC, hence it is impossible to challenge anything it does, or even to know what "law" it is creating.

The Supreme Court, however, could agree to hear this case and perhaps bring some light and oversight to bear on FISC... I guess.  (Maybe they can't -- who knows, perhaps FISC could tell SCOTUS to go to hell -- then what?)

I have no idea whether SCOTUS will hear the case.  If they refuse, it's clear that SCOTUS agrees that American citizens should not have access to courts to challenge laws or defend themselves.  If they accept, I have no idea what they might rule.  I'm reminded of the 9-0 decision in Sackett vs. EPA in which a family building a house was fined by the EPA for millions of dollars for trying to build in "wetlands" (which turns out to be a developed subdivision) and then denied them access to court to challenge EPA's decision.  OTOH, John Roberts appointed the members of FISC, and members of SCOTUS seem capable of scribbling most any flight of fancy in legalese and calling it "logic."

If Americans do not have recourse to the courts in this matter, then obviously the courts are of no particular use to us.  One might also ask if that means anything FISC rules is beyond our challenge.  If, for example, under some odd "logic" FISC decided it could approve summary executions of Americans on American soil if a federal intelligence agency made the request, exactly what oversight or recourse would there be?

"Oh, they'd never do that...they are just trying to protect us."  Yeah, right.

EPIC's account of their challenge is available here and well worth reading.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Our New Secret Government

It's outside the Constitution, it's secret, and it is unchecked.  NYT has a chilling piece today on how the FISA Court is creating new law and giving unparalleled power to the NSA.  There's no public scrutiny or oversight, no adversarial debate, and its conclusions, many of which create exceptions to the Constitution, are secret -- no one but the court and the feds is permitted to know what new "Constitutional" (sic) law (sic) they are creating.

Here are a few choice excerpts:

The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case-by-case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come, the officials said.

A parallel Supreme Court... I wonder what SCOTUS thinks about that?

All of the current 11 judges, who serve seven-year terms, were appointed to the special court by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Oh.  Never mind.

Unlike the Supreme Court, the FISA court hears from only one side in the case — the government — and its findings are almost never made public.

Secret law, created by the security state, and no one is permitted to know its contents.  But surely there's some process, this court doesn't simply do whatever NSA, CIA, et al. ask, does it?

The FISA judges have bristled at criticism that they are a rubber stamp for the government, occasionally speaking out to say they apply rigor in their scrutiny of government requests.

Aha, I thought so...

...a single judge signs most surveillance orders, which totaled nearly 1,800 last year. None of the requests from the intelligence agencies was denied, according to the court.

Uh-oh. [Gulp.]  And it gets increasingly nightmarish...

A Court of Review is empaneled to hear appeals, but that is known to have happened only a handful of times in the court’s history, and no case has ever been taken to the Supreme Court.

What?!  How the hell can there be an appeal when there's only one side, and whatever it asks is rubber-stamped?  Supposedly Verizon, Google, and the like are complaining about FISA requirements, but...

In fact, it is not clear in all circumstances whether Internet and phone companies that are turning over the reams of data even have the right to appear before the FISA court.

In one respect that makes sense, since the FISA court itself has no legitimacy at all.  But again why would we even care about appeals... WE can't appeal, only those who make it into the court can.  WE have no standing and are not even permitted to know what the hell is going on.

Judges on the FISA court refused to comment on the scope and volume of their decisions.

That's more than enough.  Anyone who can read the NYT article and still think it is "over the top" to be worrying about an imminent police state is an idiot.

There are no checks, no bounds, no limits to what these people are doing.  The FISA Court and NSA need to be abolished and dismantled.  There should be charges against anyone who violated the Fourth Amendment and any other part of the Constitution.  There are no exceptions to the Fourth Amendment, and the "special needs" doctrine maintains otherwise must be thoroughly repudiated.  The entire body of "law" created by these shadowy dictators needs to be thrown out.  Otherwise, we proceed to a true Star Chamber world...assuming we aren't already there.  (But how would we know, since it would be secret?)

It's quite unclear to me how we could get rid of this nightmare through political processes.  Neither we nor, I presume, the majority of Congress, are privy to what is going on.  Presumably Congress is among those bugged, and were any serious attempt to stop these -- let's not mince words -- lawless people and institutions, were it ever made, could easily be thwarted by them.  (Surely the good people in Congress couldn't be blackmailed or bribed, could they?)

The Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) has a good analysis of the situation.   I  think they correctly identify what is happening and why...

[T]he American ideal of freedom and civic involvement is being replaced by a technocratic nightmare in which government bureaucrats and their allies in the corporate sector rig the rules of society in order to protect the power and privilege of a select few politicians and businessmen. All the while, the majority of the American people are kept in check via debt, imprisonment, and a vast surveillance network which keeps us monitored, controlled and marching in lock step with the government’s dictates.

If we can't count on Congress (we can't) or SCOTUS (ugh) to protect us, the who is there left to defend freedom?  The president?  Hahaha -- he's leading the attack on us.  So who is left?  Us.  TAC also has a great Independence Day blog post that's worth reading.  Highlights...

The Declaration wasn’t simply a rebellion against British rule. It declared void the old way of viewing government and authority. It boldly asserted that We the People are not subject to our “rulers.”

They are subject to us.


By declaring independence from England, the American colonists threw off the rule of the British crown. But the Declaration reaches to a deeper level. At its core, it boldly proclaimed We the People do not ultimately submit to any government. We are not subject to the president, or the Congress or even the Supreme Court. Those government institutions derive all of their power from us.

That means they answer to us.

We determine the extent of their power. We have the right to interpose and rein it in when they overstep their authority. And ultimately, we retain the right to strip every bit of their power away.

If you, dear reader, have not already committed to refuse to comply with unConstitutional diktats, if you haven't started doing what you can at the grassroots level (or whatever level you find yourself) to combat this growing totalitarianism, if you aren't ready to tell these scoundrels Don't Tread on Me! and then take measures to back it up... is the time to start.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Fourth of July Post: Memo to Supporters of Liberty

America's crisis of statism is the libertarians' opportunity.  Happy American Independence Day.

In the course of a discussion last year, a friend of mine who is a libertarian and well-known academic observed that he had gotten to the point where he no longer could admire America, and went on to name domestic suppression of civil liberties, endless ill-defined wars, and all the other crimes of a national "security" apparatus gone amok. I quickly objected.  Those are acts not of America but of the federal government, and the government is not the country. Even if many Americans foolishly acquiesce to the growing tyranny, many of us do not -- and it is us who really comprise America.  America was founded upon ideals, and in particular the recognition that all individuals have certain unalienable rights.  Corollaries are that governments are instituted to protect those rights, and also that if a government becomes destructive of these ends, it is our right to change it or even to send it to hell, if need be.  My friend was sufficiently convinced that he corrected his statement.

It's a crucially important point.  The ideal on which America was founded is absolutely necessary to the advance of civilization. It's also under obvious threat.  Today we face what a few years ago one might have called a creeping police state, but which at the moment seems is accelerating far too quickly to be anything like "creeping."  It's working on behalf of a system that would best be described as "mercantilism with socialist characteristics."  In this sense, our position today is similar to that faced by the Founders.  More importantly, our opponents have an ideology that holds that government, and in particular the rulers, are the source of authority, that the role of the individual is to serve that authority, and that individuals who balk at this are dangerous "anti-government" types, possibly "treasonous," and almost certainly a terrorist threat.  This ideology isn't so different from the one that held that the King was the sole source of authority and all subjects were obliged to obey whatever he and his ministers decreed.

America's present situation is dire, and if the behavior of the federal and many state governments is not checked and reversed we will have a genuine police state.  And despite any "good" intentions of the progressives for their "libertarian paternalism" (sic) (gag), it will include camps and prisons for dissenters -- the logic of the totalitarian mindset ("we know what's best for you") makes this inevitable, as Hayek made clear in The Road to Serfdom.

But "dire" is quite different from "hopeless," and one thing that the Austrian theory of entrepreneurship teaches us is that a crisis like this is an opportunity -- not an opportunity to manufacture an even worse crisis and then exploit it with a self-serving phony solution, as Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama, and similar thugs do -- but an opportunity for discovering and enacting a solution that makes things better than they were before the problem arose.  In the decades following the Second World War, Americans were in general too happy and too comfortable to be interested in worrying about seriously checking the growth of the state, and the sphere of state power grew consistently.  That state of affairs no longer holds.  Increasing numbers of us are realizing how perilously close we are to losing our liberty: the Tea Party, the growing (small "l") libertarian movement, the conservative movement (that's the Constititutional conservatives, not the neocons who largely support the status quo), the enormous Second Amendment movement, and even aspects of the Occupy movement are evidence of this.

We're now in a cold war, fundamentally an intellectual and spiritual one, but one with the most serious physical consequences. We are fighting this primarily by means of speech and press and political action, at present, but it could become hot.  The political class is much more threatened than one would think from following the media, mainstream or otherwise.  The statists will fight back to protect and advance their positions, but would they fight physically?  Well, does anyone really believe the D.H.S. has amassed as much combat ammunition as the entire U.S. Army used in 2010 and is still acquiring more just as a cost saving measure?  (If you like that, you'll love the DHS training video prepping them for confiscating citizens' firearms, or the DHS work on a memo identifying people with Ron Paul bumper stickers as possible terrorist threats.)  Who knows what these people might be capable of.  No, it's not certain that the feds and other officials would come after us, but selected groups of them certainly do a strange amount of talking about it, they seem to have taken serious steps to prepare themselves for that eventuality.  So yes, it's entirely possible that "our" government would resort to violence to suppress political opposition.

But still, I often talk to people who are alarmed at what's happening but want to believe that it's really all just politics as usual.  After all, police states and totalitarian tyranny and re-education camps and such are so far removed from our experience (for most of us) that they have a sense of unreality about them ... "it can't happen here."  I get it and agree.  This is the same thing people said in the mid-1930's in Germany: people then expressed a sense of unreality at what was developing around them because most things still seemed so normal and familiar -- "this can't really be happening."   I too would like to believe it couldn't be happening here, but reality trumps our wishes.  It's happening.

It's easy to look at the current situation and become despondent.  This is a mistake. When the American Founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they were standing up against the greatest military power in the world, one whose forces greatly outnumbered them.  In that regard, our situation is in many respects vastly superior.  Our out-of-control government is by no means a monolith.  Not everyone within the federal administrative bureaucracy, or the Congress, or the federal courts is in willful violation of their Constitutional authority or seeks to render the Constitution a dead letter; the bad ones might well be a minority.  And it's hardly obvious that we, those of us who believe in individual liberty and strict limits on government (including, possibly, no government at all, a nod to my anarchist friends) are outnumbered.  We may well outnumber the committed statists, and we are hardly unarmed, should it ever come that.  We have a long tradition behind us, the real idea on which America was founded.  And unlike their system, our system works.  Our position is actually a strong one.

It doesn't matter how things are going at any particular moment.  We should simply diligently resist and undo tyranny, and set up new protections against it.  There's no point in regretting that things aren't better.  Just do what must be done.  When Dwight Eisenhower took command of the European Theater in 1942, the Axis was, he noted, undefeated everywhere, and superficially there seemed no reason to believe the Allies could win.  As Supreme Commander he established a rule he later described this way: "Any expression of defeatism or any failure to push ahead in confidence was instant cause for relief from duty, and all officers know it."  Avoiding defeatism and pushing ahead in confidence...this is a good policy for us to follow.

This July 4th is an ideal time for all of us, wherever in the world we might be, to affirm our devotion to liberty, and to mutually pledge to each other "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" in its defense.

Happy American Independence Day!

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Photo: Every 4th of July I reread the declaration of Independence, either alone or aloud with friends.  Here I am at Unforeseen Contingencies' heavily fortified and top secret Montana compound with my Cato Institute Pocket Declaration and Constitution, 4 July 2013.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Was Michael Hastings murdered?

I don't know.  But consider the following.

 A well-known journalist in Mexico says in an interview that it is time to tell the truth about the drug cartels, that they are making war on freedom of the press, and that he has some real dirt on them. A few days later he tells family and friends they are after him, and that he's going into hiding. A few hours later, he dies when his car explodes. Given this, we would not be considered at all unreasonable if we tentatively suspected that the cartels had indeed murdered him.

 Change "Mexico" to the United States, and "drug cartels" to the federal national security apparatus -- and Obama a leader in the war on freedom of the press -- and that's the story of the death of Rolling Stone assistant editor Michael Hastings. (Remember? The guy whose interview and article got Gen. Stanley McChrystal fired?)  So, why aren't we justified in tentatively suspecting that the federal government -- or some part of it, assassinated Hastings?

"Wait a minute," the careful reader says, how can you consider such a thing?  The government of the United States is quite different from a Mexican drug gang."  To which we at Unforeseen Contingencies respond "Well, we wish that's so...we hope so, but..."

The attorney general has explicitly, publicly affirmed that he and the president have the legal authority to order extra-judicial executions of American citizens.  The president an his administration have broken all records in going after whistle-blowers, in spying on the American citizens, and in using government powers to  intimidate and threaten Americans who oppose their regime.  So why wouldn't they, or perhaps other elements of the security apparatus who so clearly see exposure as a threat, assassinate a threat?  We know that Holder went after reporter James Rosen, going so far as to have him labeled a criminal conspirator in the secret warrants that he, Holder, denied knowing anything about (even though he signed them).  We know that DoJ's "Fast and Furious" operation illegally turned weapons over to Mexican drug gangs, knowing this would result in deaths of innocents.  We know that the IRS made war on conservative, libertarian, Tea Party, Christian, and other groups opposing the current regime, and that the IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman regularly met with the Whitehouse.  We know that the NSA has been engaged in wholesale spying on the American people, and that when asked about it while testifying before Congress Intelligence Director James Clapper lied, denying its existence.  (Now he apologizes for the "misunderstanding.")  The federal government, or substantial elements of it, are utterly out of control and building an obvious police state.

But of course, it's utterly out of the question that they might do anything so violent as kill an opponent.  Sure during an FBI interrogation an unarmed man was shot multiple times, including a shot to the back of the head, but that was self defense.  Back of the head?  Does anyone stop to think that if Todashev really was attacking an FBI agent, shooting him from behind would  threaten the life of the agent supposedly being defended?

Why is it unthinkable that the people in the U.S. government  might assassinate political opponents?  We don't know what happened to Hastings (or Ibrahim Todashev, or Gary "suicide by shooting himself twice in the head" Webb), but is suspicion really so outlandish?  This is not conspiracy stuff, spinning tales out of cobwebs.  All of this is damned suspicious.  I think Hastings was probably murdered.  I don't know it for a fact, but it hardly strains credulity.

Of course, if one even considers such things for a second, one is a "conspiracy theorist."  Gawker immediately went into action, mocking anyone who suggested this could be anything other than a tragic, mundane, run-of-the-mill car accident.

One commenter posted a stinging and well argued rebuttal.  I concur, and reprint it below.

BorromeoUMax Read
The effect of these kinds of stories posted by Gawker and other sites like Salon only squash any attempt to ask real question about any particular story. If our news media actually practiced real journalism as opposed to giving blind legitimacy to government and corporate press releases then perhaps there wouldn't be the need for so much conspiracy theorizing. 

Has anyone, but Russ Baker, attempted to follow up on the Boston Bombing inconsistencies with real reporting? No. Did the FBI not kill someone they were interrogating? Yes they did. Did the story not fall apart piece by piece? Yes. Did anyone in the news media actually follow up on the story to get to the bottom of it? No. Has anyone held the FBI accountable? No.

Organizations like the NY Times, CNN, Fox or whomever spend more time telling people they're crazy for asking legitimate questions than they do actual getting beyond the sanitized gov't propaganda. You see where their allegiance lies.

If you think there is something fishy with Hastings death or think the FBI is covering their ass in the Boston Bombing then you're lumped together with people that believe in shape shifters and crisis actors. To that I say fuck you

Michael Hastings on "Young Turks"

Here's the Michael Hastings clip on Young Turks in which he says the Obama administration has declared war on the free press, and it's time that journalists tell what they actually know. Now he's dead.

Morsi must go!

And may the bastard take the damned Muslim Brotherhood with him.

Apparently a number of high-ranking members of the MB are being arrested and the Egyptian Army is deploying in Cairo.

Morsi is effectively a dictator.  His Muslim Brotherhood is an anti-liberty movement.  The constitution they forced upon Egypt is illegitimate.  It's uncertain what will happen, but it's nonsense to whine about a "coup,"  when Morsi, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and the Constituent Assembly had been working together to crush dissent, shut out the political opposition, and stifle freedom.

Here are a couple of short news pieces on the current events, from Al Jazeera, BBC, and Jerusalem Post.  They'll be dated by the time I finish this, but so be it.  Much more interesting, and quite amusing, is this excerpt from Mark Levin's radio program last night courtesy of Daily Caller.  (Listen to the "video," rather than read the text.)  It's  not so much deep analysis as it is a fine expression of disgust at the MSM and the Barack Obama.  These scoundrels' selective use of "democracy" and "coup" remind me of the Honduras debacle of 2009, when the leftist president Zelaya attempted to remain in power unconstitutionally after his term expired, and when the legislature and Supreme Court took entirely constitutional action to remove him from office, the entire membership of the U.N. declared it a coup.  Barack Obama led the way on that one, even though the U.S. government's own official finding was that there was no coup and the actions of the Honduran Supreme Court and army were entirely legitimate.

Well, Obama's Muslim Brotherhood buddies seem to be in trouble.  I'm not particularly hopeful about Egypt's prospects for freedom, but they will be no worse if the MB is driven out of politics or even simply forced into a much less prominent role.  And to the extent these enemies of the United States are on the defensive, the better off we are.

Update: already dated indeed! Only a few minutes later and it's now announced, Morsi out. For good, let's hope.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Murray Rothbard's "For a New Liberty" revisited

Happy July.  Despite my promise to NV, I failed to post anything celebrating UC's ninth anniversary.  I do plan to get together a Fourth of July post on American Independence Day.  In the meantime, in the course of working on a research paper I happened across the reviews of Murray Rothbard's For a New Liberty.  Most of the reviews are positive, and the ones I read seemed entirely uncritical.  The few negative reviews were trashed in the comments section, and frankly weren't that great, although I think the commenters tended to be rather unfair.  So what the heck, I posted my own review of Rothbard's book, awarding it a measly two stars.  The review, posted below with a bit of editing, explains.  Enjoy.

2.0 out of 5 stars The good, the bad, and the uglyJuly 1, 2013
By C.N. Steele
This review is from: For a New Liberty (Paperback)
It's difficult to figure how many stars to award this book, because it entails both the very good and the very bad, and then descends into the very ugly.

The good first: Rothbard's book is a classic of libertarian thought, and anyone with a serious interest in libertarian ideas should read this at some point. It is well- written in that it is quite readable, very interesting, and in many respects nicely argued. Whether you agree with him or not, Rothbard has very interesting perspectives on many issues and lays out what is a mostly self-consistent system of addressing problems using the free market instead of government. In short, he identifies serious problems with government action in various spheres, and proposes alternative free market/nonstate solutions. His defense of individual liberty is important reading. He takes on supposedly difficult cases for the market, such as provision of education, roads, and police and judicial services. Some of these are quite thought-provoking, and whether one finds them convincing or not, they are certainly worth reading. Rothbard essentially concludes that a stateless society based on anarcho-capitalism would be far superior to any state. This is crucial reading for anyone interested in understanding the anarcho-capitalism variant of libertarianism.

The bad: In some places Rothbard's analysis is quite shallow, so much so as to almost make him seem silly. He basically ignores the public goods problem in economics, essentially by denying it exists. This is a bad error, since the primary argument for having government at all is based on this. His analysis is entirely inadequate and unconvincing. Similarly, in his discussion of private police and defensive agencies (his solution to replace the state) he responds to the challenge that such agencies would fight among themselves like mafias -- his response is to simply assert that they would find it too costly to fight. Well, that's a nonsensical response. One might as easily make the same argument about states to "prove" that wars never occur. If a profit-maximizing private defensive agency in stateless society decided it could make more by killing off its competitors and stealing their assets, why wouldn't it? It's a legitimate and obvious question, and Rothbard has no answer at all.

It gets worse...the ugly: By the time he gets to foreign policy, Rothbard has been on such a jihad against the state, and the U.S. government in particular, that he goes berserk and accuses the United States of being the bad guys in the (then ongoing) Cold War. In the First Edition (1973) he went so far as to attribute to Stalin a libertarian foreign policy, alleging the USSR practiced non-interventionism. When it was pointed out to him that the USSR invaded Finland, Rothbard added to his Second Edition a defense of Stalin's attack, arguing that Stalin only wanted to reclaim traditionally Russian Karelia and liberate all the Russians supposedly living there. All of that is a-historical nonsense and Rothbard simply invented it. The Soviets planned to capture all of Finland and had even assembled a new Marxist government they hoped to install in Helsinki. The areas Stalin invaded are not "traditionally Russian."  But even if Rothbard's interpretation were true, how can Rothbard justify on libertarian grounds the bloodiest dictatorship in history attacking a free country in an effort to get "its" land and people back? It makes no sense, but Rothbard's only concern is to defend his indefensible claim that the United States surpasses the rest of the world in doing evil. Unfortunately for Rothbard, long before the First Edition came out there was ample evidence that the Stalin and other Soviet leaders engaged in interventionism all around the world, often quite bloodily (Katyn Forest anyone?) Rothbard's "libertarian" defense of Stalin is despicable and intellectually dishonest -- and that's the real problem with this book. Rothbard pretends that he's doing careful analysis and finds the state wanting while showing that his own anarcho-capitalist system shines. But in fact, no argument is so bad, no intellectual sleight-of-hand too dishonest, if it will get Rothbard to his pre-chosen conclusion.

I appreciate Rothbard's fierce devotion to individual liberty in this book and there are many interesting ideas, but his willingness to make bad and even dishonest arguments in its defense lead me to conclude two stars. Frederic Bastiat argued "The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended," so by that standard I'm letting Rothbard off easy.

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