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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Who Cares if Trump Went to the Western Wall?

Why all the hoopla about Donald Trump's being the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem? It's considered one of the holy sites in Judaism, but classical Reform Judaism regarded the adoration of objects and soil, even a temple wall. as idolatry, a counterfeit form of Judaism that violated the spirit of the prophets. Moreover, the wall was not actually a wall from the temple, which was built by the Roman agent Herod the Great, but "part of a perimeter retaining wall" that Herod also built.

Finally, in 2007 Israeli archaeologists found evidence that, in the words of Ehud Nesher of the Authority, "the site was a massive public project worked by hundreds of slaves." The first temple, Solomon's Temple, was also built with slave labor.

Friday, May 19, 2017

TGIF: The Real Danger from Trump Is Ignored

While the chattering classes spend all their time rehashing Donald Trump’s alleged — there’s a word you don’t much see in the media anymore — coordination with Russians over their alleged — there it is again — hacking of the Democrats’ email, a story with far more ominous implications is being ignored. I refer to Trump’s trip, beginning today, to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Who Wrote the Book on Election Meddling?

The United States, of course -- including Russian elections. Writes Markar Melkonian:
Does the USA meddle in the presidential elections of other countries?
Our friends in South America might have insights here—hundreds of cases of economic and military blackmail, election fraud, assassination, and the violent overthrow of democratically elected leaders. So too in Europe (Greece, Italy, Portugal, Georgia, Ukraine, etc.), east Asia (Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, etc.), north Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco), and dozens of other countries on five of the six inhabited continents. (Joshua Keating, “Election Meddling Is Surprisingly Common,” Slate.com, 4 Jan., 2017; Tim Weiner, CIA: Legacy of Ashes, 2008; Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, 1992, 2006.)... 
In the welter of red-faced indignation, the torrents of denunciations from Senate hearings and press conferences, talk shows and podcasts, one might have expected someone to pose the rather obvious question whether American agencies have ever meddled in Russian presidential elections. And yet (surprise surprise!) America’s corporate-owned press of record, an institution that constantly flaunts its “objectivity,” has failed to raise that straightforward question. 
So, let us raise it here: Has the USA engaged in this sort of meddling? And if so, what effect has it had on Russia? 
The answer to the first question, of course, is a resounding Yes. [Emphasis in original.]
This all brings to mind Tom Lehrer's musical analysis from the 1960s, "Send the Marines":
For might makes right,
And till they've seen the light,
They've got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
'Till somebody we like can be elected.
Americans will live in a perpetual war state as long as they remain historically illiterate about the state they labor under.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Nakba Day 2017

Palestinian_refugees

Yesterday was Nakba Day, the day set aside to remember the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian Arabs in 1948 in connection with the creation of the “Jewish State” of Israel. Over 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and villages, and many massacred, in an ethnic-cleansing operation that should shock the conscience. Hundreds of villages were erased and replaced by Jewish towns. The Arabs who remained in the Israeli state that was imposed on them by Zionist military forces have been second-class citizens, at best, from that time.

Since 1967 the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, many of whom were refugees from the 1948 catastrophe, have lived under the boot of the Israeli government. Their day-to-day lives are under the arbitrary control of the Israeli government. Gaza is an open-air blockaded prison camp subject to periodic military onslaughts (the latest was last year), while the West Bank is relentlessly gobbled up by Jewish-only settlements and violated by a wall that surrounds Palestinian towns and cuts people’s homes off from their farms. For the Israeli ruling elite, the so-called peace process is a sham. Benjamin Netanyahu, who is now embarking on an unprecedented fourth term as prime minister, rejects any realistic plan to let the Palestinians go -- that is, have their own country on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He insists that they must recognize Israel as the Jewish state, that is, as the state of Jews everywhere, even though it sits largely on stolen property (PDF) -- which raises an interesting question: Is subjugation of the Palestinians an instantiation of Jewish values or is it not? If it is (as apparently most of its supporters believe), then what does that say for Jewish values? If it is not, then what does that say for Israel's purported status as the Jewish State?

Again, I note that the best short introduction to the catastrophe is Jeremy Hammond’s The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Israeli-Arab Conflict. Further, Hammond debunks the myth that the United Nations created the state of Israel.

Hammond

Additional reading: "Why the Inconvenient Truths of the Nakba Must Be Recognized," by Tom Pessah; "The Anti-Semite's Best Friend," by Jonathan Cook;  "Israel Must Recognize Its Responsibility for the Nakba, the Palestinian Tragedy," by Saeb Erekat; and "The sacking of Jaffa during the Palestinian Nakba, as narrated by three Omars," by Allison Deger.

(Another version of this post appeared previously.)

Friday, May 12, 2017

TGIF: The Debate Over Taxation Cannot Be Value-Free

Lenin reportedly said, "The best way to destroy the capitalist system [is] to debauch the currency." If by "capitalist system" we mean only what Adam Smith called "the obvious and simple system of natural liberty," we could improve on the quote: the best way to destroy it is to debauch the currency of thought and communication, language. Orwell understood this and made it the centerpiece of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!