When Will Americans Learn that Blowback is Real?

April 29, 2013

In 1953 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency at the urging of the British M16 overthrew democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.  In a declassified report completed in 1954 on the 1953 operation “blowback” for the first time entered the CIA’s lexicon.

At the time, analysts were concerned that the U.S. government’s actions in Iran would yield unintended consequences.  It took a long time, but those concerns were finally realized in 1979 when, after 25 years of brutality and corruption from the Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution engulfed Iran and Iranian students stormed our embassy and took our people hostage for 444 days.

Then in 2004 a Pentagon Report commissioned by the Bush/Cheney Administration, labeled the President’s approach to the so-called “War on Terror” counter-productive.  It indicated that contrary to the President’s rhetoric, Muslim terrorists don’t attack us because they hate our freedom; they attack us because they loathe our foreign policy.  The report went on to suggest that continuing the policy of occupying Muslim countries will have the effect of radicalizing Muslims and instead of preventing future terrorist attacks will engender them.

Through the patriotic and nationalistic bluster of our politicians and the media the Pentagon report was mostly forgotten.  It took the presidential campaign of Ron Paul in 2008 to bring the issue of blowback back to the forefront.  In a Republican presidential candidates’ debate, Congressman Paul was asked about 9-11.  He talked about how U.S. foreign policy was a “major contributing factor”.  In particular he cited our bombing of Iraq for 10 years through the 1990s.  Then he stated:

“I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we think if we were –if other foreign countries were doing that to us?”

And that is the deep question that all Americans must ask themselves:  what would we think and do if other countries were doing the same things to us?  What would we do if another country occupied our territory, supported through financial and military aid a tyrannical government in the United States, or used drones to kill their enemies on U.S. soil consequently killing innocent American citizens in the process?  We wouldn’t tolerate it in the least bit, so why do we think it is justified to do it to others and label those that take umbrage with our actions terrorists?

And so once again, Americans have experienced a “terrorist” attack on our soil.  This time it was perpetrated in Boston by two ethnically Chechen Muslims.  Once again, we are supposed to believe it was done because they hate our freedoms and prosperity.  We are supposed to believe this even though one of the suspects was a naturalized American citizen who enjoyed the freedoms and prosperity he allegedly was accused of hating.  We are supposed to believe this even though the seriously injured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lying in his hospital bed before he was Mirandized admitted that he and his brother were motivated to carry out the Marathon Bombings by American aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan and the thousands of Muslims who had been killed by American forces.

We can continue to delude ourselves that we can do whatever we want to whomever we want and there won’t be consequences.  Or we can learn that the CIA was on to something in 1954 – that blowback is real.

Article first published as When Will Americans Learn that Blowback is Real? on Blogcritics.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina


Bernanke’s Publicity Stunt

March 23, 2012

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has taken his defense of the Federal Reserve System on the road.  In response to recent critics of the central bank, notably Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, Bernanke is scheduled to deliver four classroom lectures at George Washington University.  In his first discourse, Bernanke was Bernanke, extolling the virtues of the Fed while criticizing calls to return the dollar to a gold standard.

One of Bernanke’s criticisms of a return to the gold standard is that it is not practical.  By that he means “it can be a waste of resources to secure all the gold needed to back currency, moving it from South Africa to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s basement”.  But, the benefit of using gold to back currency is precisely because it is scarce and difficult to dig up and transport. Otherwise, it would have little value and be about as valuable as paper money.

A more significant criticism lodged by Bernanke against the gold standard is that it doesn’t prevent “short-term volatility”.  According to the Fed chairman, “Since the gold standard determines the money supply, there’s not much scope for the central bank to use monetary policy to stabilize the economy”.  By short-term volatility, Bernanke must be referring to those periods in the 19th Century when the Second Bank of the United States and the federal government from time to time allowed banks to suspend payment in species thus enabling widespread currency inflation and financial volatility.  The fact is that under a true gold standard short-term volatility would not exist.  Prices would be stable and the artificial booms and inevitable busts caused by Fed monetary price fixing would not happen.

But, to his credit, Bernanke did acknowledge that historically countries using the gold standard have experienced long periods of price stability.  In fact, in the United States from the mid-Nineteenth Century until 1940 prices in the United States actually fell on average from year to year – the main exceptions being during war years.

So while even Bernanke admits that the gold standard is an effective means to produce stable prices which after all benefit the poor, the elderly, and others on fixed budgets, why is he still so resistance to a return to the gold standard?  The key is in the answer he gave to one student’s question about why Fed critics are pushing hard to return to a gold standard. Bernanke indicated that they want to remove some “discretion” the Fed has over the economy.  It is this “discretion” that Bernanke and his monetary oligarchs used to dole out trillions of dollars in secret loans to their bank buddies who nearly brought the whole financial system to its knees.  Many of them got a piece of the action – Citigroup – $2.513 trillion, Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion, Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion, Bank of America – $1.344 trillion, Barclays PLC – $868 billion, Bear Sterns – $853 billion, Goldman Sachs – $814 billion, Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion, JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion, Deutsche Bank – $354 billion, UBS – $287 billion, Credit Suisse – $262 billion, Lehman Brothers – $183 billion, Bank of Scotland – $181 billion BNP Paribas – $175 billion, Wells Fargo – $159 billion, Dexia – $159 billion, Wachovia – $142 billion, Dresdner Bank – $135 billion, and Societe Generale – $124 billion.  You see with a gold standard these loans and other Fed schemes to benefit the bankers would not be possible.  Thus, when Bernanke criticizes the gold standard it is more than just professorial theorizing, it is a defense of the current corrupt banking cartel in America.

In the final analysis, Bernanke’s lecture series at G.W. is nothing more than a publicity stunt and not a very good one at that.  The Federal Reserve is an indefensible institution.  Compounding his problem are arguments he is attempting to make against the gold standard which served our country well for so long.  Anything he says cheats the students of valuable educational time.  Perhaps the powers that be at G.W. should invite Ron Paul to debate Bernanke.  Only then will the students get their money’s worth.

Article first published as Bernanke’s Publicity Stunt on Blogcritics.


Ron Paul’s Delegate Strategy May be Working

March 12, 2012

There is an interesting analysis article over at Real Clear Politics that lays out a scenario whereby the August Republican National Convention evolves into the worst nightmare imaginable for party officials – a brokered convention.  Based on how Republican candidates for president have done so far with different demographics and regions of the country, Sean Trende predicts how the race for the Republican nomination may play out and lays out a scenario where a brokered Republican convention could take place.

Now, it’s no secret that a brokered convention would be a catastrophe for Republican Party leaders use to grand coronations at their quadrennial national party events.  After all, anything could happen.  Chaos could rule or a dark horse candidate not officially sanctioned by the party oligarchs could emerge.  In either case their lack of control would disrupt the usual smooth proceedings meant to portray to the nation a party united, happy, and excited about its standard bearer.

Given his campaign’s strategy of focusing on caucuses and out hustling his rivals at local, county, and state conventions nationwide the main beneficiary of a brokered convention would be Texas Congressman Ron Paul.  The fact of the matter is that most Americans do not get involved in politics.  Many rightly view it as an ugly, corrupt business.  Others are too busy following American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, or the latest escapades of Lindsay Lohan.  While others would rather leave it to the professionals.  But, Ron Paul supporters are different.  They may not outnumber the supporters of other candidates, but they are hungrier and more dedicated to their principles.  They are much more willing to show up, outlast, and fight for delegate positions than the supporters of rival candidates.  These attributes seem to be paying dividends for the Paul campaign at least in the early stages of the delegate selection process.

In Iowa, Ron Paul supporters have become delegates for other candidates.  Under party rules, if the convention is brokered at some point those delegates could be eligible to throw their support behind Dr. Paul.

In Georgia, Paul forces took over or as local GOP officials called it “hijacked” the DeKalb County delegate-selection convention in eastern metropolitan Atlanta.  They also missed by a whisker doing the same thing in populous Cobb County.

And in Clark County, Nevada, home to Las Vegas, at the county GOP convention made up of over 2600 delegates, Paul supporters organized and triumphed by electing Paulites to all 14 seats on the ballot for county GOP executive committee board.  These 14 new members of the board will make up two-thirds of the ruling body.  Consequently, that county’s GOP platform now calls for holding elected officials to their oath to the Constitution, repeal of the 16th Amendment, and a full audit of the Federal Reserve.

The process of selecting delegates in most states is in the early stages.  There will be multiple stories like the ones mentioned above.  Ultimately, there may be a brokered Republican convention in August.  Then again, there may not be.  Ron Paul may not get the GOP nomination for president in 2012, but whoever does will be leading a party much different from the one that exists today.  It will include delegates to the national convention, activists, and party officials who support a non-interventionist foreign policy, sound money, and civil liberties.  You talk about a nightmare for the party oligarchs!

The GOP is Imploding

February 18, 2012

The 2012 Republican presidential race has been, so far, one of the most intriguing contests in recent memory. It has consisted of multiple frontrunners, a sex scandal, one state and potentially a second state changing who it declared the winner of its caucus weeks after voting, the resignation of two state party chairman, and a candidate who is less interested in winning elections than he is in accumulating delegates to win the nomination. Put together, this has not been your typical Republican primary where a frontrunner is declared early and is swept through the primaries with little challenge all the way to their coronation moment at the party’s convention. Instead, this year we are witnessing the implosion of the Republican Party.

By implosion I am not saying the Republican Party is going to disintegrate into nothing. What I am saying is that by the time the party crowns its nominee this summer it may look a lot different than it does today.

As most Ron Paul supporters know, the Good Doctor kept much of his campaign apparatus in place from 2008. This included his allies in the various states being elected or appointed to party positions. This seems to have paid off since his former state campaign co-chair A.J. Spiker was just elected as the new chairman of the Iowa Republican Party in the aftermath of the previous chair’s demise for voting irregularities in this year’s Iowa Caucuses. Additionally, Nevada’s Republican state chair also resigned due to allegations of irregularities during that state’s caucus. It’s been reported that several Ron Paul backers are poised to step up to fill the void.

Then there is the turmoil surrounding Maine state chair, Charlie Webster. He is being censured by that state’s Republican Party and forced to recount votes from the caucuses statewide as well as include Washington County’s in the final vote tally. The new result could force the Maine GOP to change its declared winner of the caucus from Mitt Romney to Ron Paul. In all three instances, Ron Paul loyalists called out the Establishment and will potentially overthrow the old regime by supporters of sound money, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and support for civil liberties.

But, perhaps the biggest reason why the GOP is imploding is because it’s chosen one has faltered. 2012 was supposed to be Mitt Romney’s turn and he was expected to cruise to the nomination. The rules were even fixed in his favor. With strong support in the Florida, Nevada, and Arizona contests, they were moved up in the calendar to benefit Romney. Realizing he would win very few contests in the Bible Belt those contests were changed from winner take all to proportional allocation.

Yet Romney has struggled losing 6 of 9 contests and 4 in a row (yes, I am counting Maine because with potential widespread corruption he still could only out poll Ron Paul by 194 votes). Current polls in his boyhood state of Michigan have him trailing Rich Santorum. And let’s face it, there are still many southern primaries to come and your typical Evangelical voter is not going to vote for a Mormon. Things are looking grim for the Romney campaign.

As all 4 Republican candidates have vowed to stay in the race all the way to the convention, it is looking more and more like a brokered convention in Tampa. If none of the candidates has enough delegates to win the nomination, intense horse trading would ensue. However, I can’t see any of the current combatants for the nomination cutting a deal and dropping out. They all represent vastly different wings of the party and after spending so much time, energy, and money to win the thing through a grueling primary season it seems unlikely that enough could be given to make that happen.

At that point, other party candidates would be offered as a compromise. Delegate totals for each candidate would be diluted with the exception of Congressman Paul. Because of his strategy of winning delegates by out hustling his opponents and because his supporters would never switch allegiance he could become a kingmaker. He may not get the nomination himself, but the party would be changed. His delegates could influence the eventual nominee, change the platform, and return to their states and become the party’s leaders.

The consequences of such a scenario would lead to a future run by a Ron Paul heir. As the Barry Goldwater campaign paved the way for the Conservative “Revolution” of 1980, what could transpire this year could pave the way for a Libertarian Revolution in the future.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

The Internet as Savior

January 19, 2012

It is no secret that online piracy is a very serious problem in our Technology Age.  The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a measure before Congress meant to confront the sale and distribution of pirated movies, drugs, music and other consumer goods by rogue overseas sites.  Supporters of the legislation include big media, pharmaceutical companies, and the fashion industry.  They have overwhelmingly outspent the Internet industry supporting the measure.  For its part, Internet companies have stuck to their belief that the measure goes too far and could disrupt creativity, violate the First Amendment, and could give the U.S. government free reign in shutting down sites it deems illegitimate.  As is true of most legislation before Congress, this one is put forward with the best of intentions, but ultimately if passed could spell the ruination of the Information Super Highway.  Thank goodness, the Internet was around to protect itself yesterday.

The DailyPaul, Wikipedia, Reddit, and over 7,000 other high-traffic websites blacked themselves out or supported the protest of SOPA yesterday online.  The blackouts not only were a form of protest, but were meant to show Internet users how things could be if SOPA becomes law.

Apparently the tactic worked.  After being deluged with emails and phone calls many senators including co-sponsors of the measure, Marco Rubio of Florida, John Cornyn of Texas, and Orrin Hatch of Utah withdrew their support.  Rubio used the same medium used to protest the bill when he announced to his followers on facebook:

“Earlier this year, this bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and without controversy. Since then, we’ve heard legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government’s power to impact the Internet.  Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.”

At this point in time SOPA has been essentially tabled and had its most controversial parts removed.

A potentially disastrous bill that seemed to have a relatively easy path to passage in Congress was suddenly halted and potentially killed.  And we owe it all to Internet activism.  Like the invention of the printing press during the Renaissance, the Internet is the great equalizer between moneyed interests and common folks.  The printing press spread the message of the Protestant reformers breaking the stranglehold of the Catholic Church over Europe.  It proliferated Enlightenment ideas dealing with the relationship between people and their government which eventually ushered in a new era of liberalism, representative democracy, and free market capitalism.

The Internet of course has similar potential to transform our world today.  Young folks are in tune with what is happening in their world through it.  My 8th graders in Qatar, who are usually a little behind the curve when it comes to current events, were keenly aware of the SOPA controversy because some of their popular sites were participating in the protest.  It was amazing to me how well read many of them were on the potential harm SOPA could do to the medium they rely on to function.

And there is no question that the Web has been an effective tool used by Ron Paul and his supporters to win over young voters.  It is a place where anti-establishment types can organize and spread information without interference from the corporate/state controlled mainstream media.  And that is the point here.  Any time real Americans can circumvent the bias of the Establishment media to deliver an important message they now can.  So, the Internet didn’t just protect itself yesterday, it protected all of us.

Ron Paul is Nibbling at Romney’s Heels

January 14, 2012

To listen to Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s speech after placing a strong second in the New Hampshire Primary you would have thought that he had just won the contest.  Filled with his usual attacks on the Federal Reserve, Military/Industrial Complex, the bloated federal government, and an ever expanding police state, Dr. Paul’s speech was also an inspiring rallying cry for his ever growing base of fervent supporters.  In many ways he did win the New Hampshire Primary.  He tripled his vote total from four years ago.  He finished a strong, undisputed second behind a candidate with home field advantage and tons of Wall Street cash.  He also proved the naysayers wrong who have been preaching for months that he is unelectable.  Most importantly, the New Hampshire Primary results have made the race for the GOP nomination for president a two man contest between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Look at the facts so far in this race.  Ron Paul is the only other candidate besides Mitt Romney to do well with two totally different bodies of voters.  In Iowa, both men garnered support from evangelical and socially conservative voters while in New Hampshire more socially moderate and fiscally conservative voters.  For his part, Paul got the most support of disaffected Democrats and Independents of any of the other Republicans running.  This trend bodes well for him since as many as 13 states hold open primaries and caucuses where his support outside of his own party will be a distinct advantage for him in those states.  Overall, in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire Dr. Paul has collected 25,000 more votes than his nearest competitor Rick Santorum.

Besides broad support, financial backing also differentiates candidates from one another.  The Paul Campaign reported that it raised $13 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.  The only other Republican candidate to raise more was Mitt Romney.  The sum Paul has collected in donations has allowed him to not only purchase air time in South Carolina, but to jump ahead and spend money on direct mail in Louisiana, Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, and North Dakota.  Additionally, a pro-Paul Super PAC Revolution PAC plans to spend millions more on the congressman’s quest for the presidency.  And recently the Santa Rita Super PAC which was just created on January 4 bought over $300,000 worth of ad time in South Carolina promoting Paul’s candidacy.

Then there are the recent poll results.  A CBS News poll released a day before the New Hampshire Primary found Romney and Paul to be the strongest Republican contenders against President Obama.  Romney leads the President 47 to 45 percent while Paul trails Obama by 45 to 46 percent.  But even more important to the moment, an American Research Group poll conducted over the last two days indicates that Congressman Paul is getting a massive bump from his strong showing in New Hampshire.  The good folks of the Palmetto State are now paying attention to the race because their turn to vote is coming up quickly.  In less than one week Paul’s support in SC has risen from 9 to 20 percent placing him third in that race.

To be sure, the campaign for the presidency is a long drawn out affair.  Staying power is essential.  After South Carolina, lower tier Republican candidates will begin to drop out or become irrelevant.  Two things will happen.  Their supporters’ votes and money will need a new candidate and all media attention will focus on Romney and Paul.  Given Paul’s appeal to a broad base of voters and conservatives’ mistrust of Mitt Romney, I like the Texas Congressman’s chances.  In fact, it is highly probable that he will deliver

many more inspiring, rallying cries for his ever growing base of fervent supporters.

Article first published as Ron Paul is Nibbling at Romney’s Heels on Blogcritics.

It’s a Two Man Race for the Republican Nomination for President

January 7, 2012

Last month it was announced that only two candidates for president in the Republican Party had qualified for the Virginia Presidential Primary on March 6 – Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.  At the time there was a lot of grumbling by the other candidates and they eventually filed a lawsuit against Virginia’s ballot access laws.  Regardless of how that suit turns out, the incident foretold the eventual contest for the Republican nomination for president.  After roughly 6 months of campaigning and the Iowa Caucuses, the race is clearly a battle between two men – the Establishment candidate Mitt Romney and Constitutional Populist Ron Paul.

Of course, this opinion won’t be heard anywhere on the Establishment-run media.  Instead the talking heads and so-called journalists which grace our TV screens continue to babble on about how Ron Paul is a kook, crank, nut job, etc… incapable of winning the nomination.  Their portrayals of the Good Doctor are more a result of their fears about him actually winning and ending their cushy establishment lifestyles than it is about reality.  But, I digress.  To back up the claim that the race has come down to Paul and Romney here are the facts:  both lead the field in money and organization.  Additionally, Paul has picked up steam in recent polls since Iowa and has demographics on his side.

Money – The Ron Paul Campaign is reporting that they raised $13 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.  The only other Republican candidate to raise more was Mitt Romney.  The sum Paul has collected in donations has allowed him to not only purchase air time in New Hampshire and South Carolina, but to jump ahead and spent money on direct mail in Louisiana, Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, and North Dakota.  The Congressman’s base of financial support is unshakeable and as he rises in the polls it will become much broader.

Organization – As the Establishment candidate and someone who has been running for president for the last six years, Mitt Romney has a solid campaign organization.  But what the media and pundits alike have ignored is the ability of the Paul campaign to organize a first rate political operation as well.  The fact that only Romney and Paul were able to abide by Virginia’s strict ballot access laws and get on the primary ballot in that state is a testament to the quality of their organizations and the mediocrity of the other campaigns’.

The Paul campaign has gone to great lengths in building a strong presence on the Republican State Central Committees across the country.  In Iowa alone his supporters comprise one-third of the members of that state’s Republican State Central Committee.  It is from this committee that actual delegate selection for the National Convention will be done.  Besides Iowa Paul has supporters in the next ten caucus states that are virtually unopposed for delegate seats.

But besides ample war chests and strong campaign organizations, recent polling and demographics indicate that the Republican field has been winnowed down to two contenders.  The next contest on the docket is the New Hampshire Primary.  Two polls last week indicated that the race in the Granite State is between Romney and Paul.  The New Suffolk University Poll had Paul gaining 6 points on Romney in one day.  While Paul stood at 18 percent support, no other candidate garnered more than 8 percent.  At about the same time, a new Washington Times/John Zogby Analytics Poll had Romney at 38 percent, Paul at 24 percent, and no other candidate had more than 11 percent.  It is true that national polls do indicate that Romney leads the race while Paul lags behind other candidates, but two points need to be made.  The Republican nominee will be chosen from more than 50 contests not one national ballot.  And most voters in states with contests in the future have not paid enough attention to the race to make an informed choice.  Thus, given the results in Iowa and current polling in New Hampshire Romney and Paul are the two front-runners going into New Hampshire voting this week.

Lastly, demographics will play a huge role in winning the Republican nomination.  In light of his past poll numbers Romney’s support in relation to other Republican candidates has been steady.  As one after the other anti-Romney candidates rose and fell from front-runner status only one other candidate has seen steady upward poll numbers – Ron Paul.  Santorum in Iowa was just the final shooting star of the lot.  Fortunately for him his star rose at exactly the right moment.  Had there been more time to dissect his record he too would have fallen back to the pack of also-rans.

But Paul’s support has been a slow steady trajectory upward because it is solid, unwavering support.  Besides Evangelical and conservative Republicans the Congressman garners the most support from disaffected Democrats and Independents of any of the other Republicans running.  Since as many as 13 states hold open primaries and caucuses his support outside of his own party will be a distinct advantage in those states.

At the end of the day, the Establishment media and talking heads will babble on about the comeback of Newt Gingrich or the surging Rick Santorum.  They will resort to any distraction to cover the truth.  The truth is that we have a two man race for the Republican nomination.  Because of money, organization, demographics, and recent polling numbers that race is between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina