Author Archives: Robert Morris

About Robert Morris

Robert Morris Tweets @TheFederalGovt, posts video as the More Freedom Foundation, and has written a quick pamphlet on the drug war that can be found here.

Fire Them Both: American two-party system has lost legitimacy

Petty Plutocrats

I don’t see why anyone should vote for the Republican or Democratic party ever again. They don’t stand for anything. They work for the interests of the same elites on Wall Street and in Washington. There are slight, temperamental differences between the parties. On all the big issues though, foreign policy, civil liberties, the drug war, financial regulation, they are the same, they are horrible, and they are against the will of the people they haven’t frightened into agreement.

The Republicans will give your money to defense contractors and energy companies. The Democrats will give your money to the same people, and take some more to give to the health insurance companies. Some claim they have meaningful differences on tax policy, but this is largely an illusion.

We all get fooled into voting for these petty plutocrats (Russian Oligarchs at least own and do things). They are very good at convincing us to look for the lesser of two evils. I can’t see the lesser evil anymore. I’m not saying we should all vote for the Libertarians (though I wish we would). Those of you who still believe the federal government has some positive potential can vote Green. This two party system has lasted for 150 years, but it is not immortal. All we have to do is stop voting for it.

The concept of divided government used to be very appealing. As long as two packs of scoundrels were working at cross purposes, the rest of us could get away relatively unscathed. Two recent developments have convinced me that even this last-ditch consolation no longer functions. We are losing rights that used to be sacrosanct. Our government now maintains death lists featuring American citizens. With the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, Congress has endorsed the executive branch’s past decade of tyrannical over-reach. No one in power is challenging these decisions. Our leaders are so ignorant of our own traditions that they don’t see these developments as problems. Government is no longer divided on anything that matters.

Third party candidates, who have been working at the margins for decades, at least have principles of their own. They have thought about issues, and have ideas. Most of our current leaders think exclusively of campaign donations. It is hard to imagine how a Congress full of Libertarians and Greens could be any worse than the one we have now. So let’s fire the bastards. Its time for a new party system, one that respects the rights that any 19th century subsistence farmer could have taken for granted.

The Democrats are the party for killing Americans (Al-Awlaki, Waco). The Republicans are the party for killing everyone else. I’m voting Libertarian.

More propaganda from Rob Morris can be found at The More Freedom Foundation.

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Costa Rica: Another paradise lost to the drug war

Costa Rica is one of the most interesting social experiments of the 20th century. This Central American country of 4.5 million people spent the century’s first half on the same depressing path as the rest of Latin America. The people of Costa Rica had the same succession of military coups, bloodshed, malign US influence, and tin-pot dictators as their neighbors. They figured it out though. The problem was the military. Without it, there was no force to threaten democracy.

Costa Rica abolished the military in 1949. Surprisingly, the US acquiesced in this closing of a market to its defense contractors (The military industrial complex wasn’t as big a deal pre-McNamara). Costa Rica then embarked on a unique development path. It turns out that not having a military frees up a ton of money for other things. While the rest of the hemisphere has begun to catch up, for years Costa Rica was the freest and fairest democracy south of Texas. The people’s human development indicators are among the highest in the hemisphere. Costa Rica is one of the world’s premiere Eco-tourism destinations, and has a reputation as an environmental paragon. At the turn of the century, Costa Ricans could pride themselves on proving what was possible without a military.

Too bad that’s over.

Our drug war has now arrived in Costa Rica, and with it heavy-handed US “support”.

Beefing up Costa Rica’s security forces is a priority for the United States, which has helped build a new police academy, a national intelligence center to eavesdrop on phone communications, and highway checkpoints with cargo-scanning equipment. But many vulnerabilities remain, and Costa Rica didn’t even have a centralized database with the country’s criminal records until this year.

This makes me nauseous. We are offering paradise the same sorts of help that turned Mexico into a war zone. How does nobody see the idiocy of this? We chased these problems into Costa Rica. Our response is to give them the civil liberties trampling military that they benefited so much from not having. The US sponsored “cure” is so much worse than the disease. How many countries do we need to destroy before we grow up and end prohibition?

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Google Zeitgeist pro-imperialism caption contest

Google has put out its annual year’s end Zeitgeist video. Initially, this year’s edition struck me as more annoying than usual. They spend a lot of time using the world’s triumph and tragedy to sell their failing Google+ product. A bit distasteful, but hey Google does a lot of good, so whatever. On my second view this afternoon though I noticed something disturbing. They end the film with a rapid-fire montage of 2011 images that ends on and lingers on the image below:

What the hell? Maybe I’m missing something, but it looks to me like a child of indeterminate nationality high-fiving an American service-person. This is the image that Google chooses to end its summing up of 2011 on? Is Google taking product-placement money from the Department of Defense? Inexplicable.

Here at Hammer of Truth, the only appropriate response to the inexplicable is a caption contest. Here are a couple to start you off.

“Thanks for blowing up that wedding, I was really nervous about being ring-bearer!”

“If I smile for this picture does that mean you won’t send the robots to kill my daddy?”

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Non-interventionists and isolationists are right, still shoved aside

Lately there has been a lot of criticism of the libertarian approach to defense and foreign policy. It is derided as isolationist and somehow “dangerous for America” to not be all amped up to bomb Iran. Isolationism has been a dirty word in American politics for around 70 years, for some fairly well thought out reasons. This pose has long out-worn its utility, however. It continues because most of our leaders and pundits are historically ignorant. Let’s help them out.

In the run up to World War II there was a significant portion of the US population that had no interest in getting involved. They remembered the 100,000 Americans that died in World War I and had no desire to add to their number. Even after Adolph Hitler demanded part of Czechoslovakia in 1938, they were not interested. The UK Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, seeing no help from the US, and remembering the British Empire’s 1,000,000 war dead, flew to Munich and signed an embarrassing peace treaty giving Hitler what he wanted. This came to be known as “appeasement”. The treaty turned out to be a worthless piece of paper, and the ensuing decade revealed just what a monster Hitler was. The justly reviled appeasement is paired with the concept of isolation in the minds of our pundits. World War II was one of our best wars, fought to rid the world of one of history’s greatest abominations.

But why did Hitler exist in the first place? The last veteran has died, it’s time to look at this honestly. Hitler would never have come to power without Woodrow Wilson’s disastrous decision to jump into World War I. The war started with the assassination of the heir to the throne of one of Germany’s allies. Looking back through the lens of Hitler, though, the Germans have been made out to be the bad guys. This is not fair.

In 1914 European civilization decided to kill itself. Every major power in Europe made the decision that “national honor” was more important than millions of lives. After three years, and an atrocious cost, the war was finally beginning to exhaust itself. Wilson jumped in and picked a winner. The European powers were equally guilty, but because of our participation Britain and France got to impose the Treaty of Versailles on Germany, with massive war reparations, and a loss of territory to go with its 2 million dead soldiers. Germany went insane.

So yes, appeasement is a bad thing, and we should not go for Tokugawa-style isolation. It is important to remember, however, that while our glorious arms did rid the world of Hitler, Woodrow Wilson’s military adventurism also created him. This knowledge of the root causes of WWII is something that our foreign policy establishment lacks. This hobbles them. Everything becomes about appeasement and isolation. 1938 is the only relevant year in history according to too many. In our half-century struggle with the USSR (another fight Wilson picked BTW ), this was occasionally useful. Now that the main enemies are preachers in caves and tin-pot dictators who occasionally mouth off about Israel the mental handicaps of our leaders need to be addressed. Our military might is capable of solving some problems, but it also creates them. More people in power in the US should be aware of that.

Robert Morris Tweets @TheFederalGovt, posts video as the More Freedom Foundation, and has written a quick pamphlet that can be found here.

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‘Operation Ivy League’ drug case shows money corrupting justice

It’s common sense to us at the Hammer of Truth that the poor are the only people who get locked up for long stretches for drug offenses. Drug warriors are sensitive to this critique and every now and then they try to confront it in some high profile display.

“Operation Ivy League” is an excellent example. In December of 2010 the NYPD arrested 5 Columbia University frat boys for dealing marijuana, cocaine, LSD, MDMA and sundry other party favors to their classmates. The NYPD conducted an exhaustive 5-month sting operation, involving 31 transactions totaling $11,000 worth of substances. The story was national news. The drug warriors successfully sent out their message. At great cost, the NYPD showed that even the most privileged have to worry about our drug laws.

Or had they? There has been surprisingly little follow up for such a big story. This gets a little technical, but bear with me, it’s worth it. The operation picked up five privileged Columbia frat boys, and three off-campus drug dealers. All of the off-campus drug dealers are serving or have served time. Miron Sarzynski, the supplier, initially charged with 9 counts including attempted kidnapping and the sole count of first degree Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance (CSCS) is now serving six years. He seems to be a legitimately bad guy, whose incarceration is hard to lament. Megan Asper, his girlfriend, got 45 days for possession. Roberto Lagares, charged with a single count of 2nd degree CSCS is now serving a 6 year prison term (all information on charges can be found here).

It is instructive to compare Lagares to Harrison David, the only one of the Frat boys to have made it to sentencing at this point. David was the most comprehensively charged of the frat boys. In addition to the same 2nd degree CSCS charge that Lagares was charged with, he was charged with an additional 11 counts of drug distribution of varying levels and substances. This is the frat boy that the NYPD had the best case against. Undercover police purchased substances from him on multiple occasions. This is the guy that they spent 5 months trying to put away. This is the guy they were going to prove their point with. They proved a point. Despite being charged with dramatically more than Roberto Lagares, Harrison David is now serving a 6 month prison term. The injustice of our system could not be laid out more starkly. The rich kid, charged with dramatically more criminal activity, received a sentence 1/12th the length of the one given to the poor one.

The frat boys must all have fantastic legal representation. The second most charged frat boy has now been offered a clear criminal record if he completes a year-long marijuana treatment program. The other three frat boys, who are charged with less, will receive more lenient treatment. I bet the frat boys are having a really tough time. It may take them years to get back on the path to the investment-banking house or grad-school of their choice. It won’t take them as much time as Roberto Lagares will spend in prison though.

Robert Morris Tweets @TheFederalGovt, posts video as the More Freedom Foundation, and has written a quick pamphlet that can be found here. This is an excerpt from the pamphlet.

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Manufacturing Tea Party dissent against Ron Paul

The Atlantic has an article up claiming that Ron paul isn’t loved by Tea Partiers. The basis for this story is a recent loss of a call-in tele-conference poll to every other candidates except Utah Governor John Huntsman. The candidates got to speak their piece, and then the listeners voted.

The article goes on at some length about what this means about how Paul’s views are too out there for security conscious tea party voters. You can quibble with a lot about this article. Who are the Tea party Patriots? Who gets on their lists for these tele-conferences? The writer asserts that the poll was scientific, mentioning a sample size of 23,000 but mentions nothing about how those people were selected. It could easily have been some kind of poll specifically geared towards making Paul look bad. You can argue that, but you’d be easily dismissed as a kook or a crank.

The article was posted at 1:18 PM ET. Just in time for lunch hour for most of the country. The article got most of it’s 11,447 views as of this writing. Tea party folks who read it thought again about what they saw at the debates. “The rest of the tea partiers are worried about Iran, maybe I should be too.” Some Paul supporters read it and may have gotten a little discouraged. Some Republican donors brushed off what little enthusiasm they had gotten for Paul’s straight talking. All in all a little depressing.

And all completely manufactured.

Sometime between the all important lunch hour and 6:46 PM ET a small clarification was entered:

“Clarification: Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman weren’t on the conference call.”

see more…

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Nailing Ron Paul on racism: the media’s inevitable, futile exercise

Ron Paul’s ascent over the past few weeks has been thrilling. Everything from his willingness to tackle issues that no one else will, to the fact that he actually answers questions is deeply impressive. He has gotten further than anyone expected, and after his performance in last week’s debates even the media is going to have to start taking him seriously.

This means that we are going to hear a lot on racism.

It will be tempting to just call it a smear, but that is not what it is. My own research has made it clear that Paul and his campaign need to address this issue. They need to address it very well if Paul is going to retain skeptical voters. There are some very disturbing places on the internet. I won’t dignify them with a link. Trust me when I say, however, that to the extent that there is a white supremacist vote, Paul owns it. No big deal, right? As the Republican most likely to beat the black guy, he was probably going to have that anyway.

Unfortunately, there is a lot more. From 1987 to 2001 a series of newsletters were published in Ron Paul’s name. James Kirchick of the New Republic and the Weekly Standard tracked down some of the older newsletters. He has highlighted language from these articles that can only be described as racist. Not that kind of icky feeling you get when old white dudes talk about race, but flat-out, old-school racist filth. The links above contain the details.

For the past decade Paul has denied writing the newsletters. He has also apologized for them and accepted moral responsibility for allowing the newsletters go out under his name. This is a good start, but it is not enough. see more…

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Office of National Drug Control Policy: decadent and depraved

Few government bureaucrats have any connection to reality, but the ONDCP lives in an extra special world of its own creation. Did you know that communications director Rafael Lemaitre has a twitter feed? I am one of the 200-odd people following it, so you don’t have to be. If you want to follow someone, follow me @TheFederalGovt.

The Monitoring the Future survey for 2011 (MTF11) gives figures on youth drug use. Lemaitre live-tweeted the release of the results at the National Press Club this past Wednesday. (Best read from the bottom up)

Seriously!?!?! This is the lesson he draws? We primarily tackle alcohol and tobacco through regulation, taxation, education and treatment. Teen use of those substances is down dramatically. We primarily tackle marijuana with criminal sanctions, and teen use is at a 30 year high. I can’t think of stronger evidence against the status quo. Yet the drug warrior’s response to colossal failure is – more of the same.

How much longer do we have to pay for this idiocy?

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New Contributor Introduction: Robert Morris

Howdy all, glad you seem to be enjoying my post on Cato the Younger and Ron Paul. The editor asked me to introduce myself so here goes:

I am a recently-minted US Lawyer practicing in Istanbul, Turkey. Political argument has always been a hobby of mine. A particularly depressing law school internship convinced me to take it beyond Facebook. Our absurd war on drugs is my main concern to date. I post videos on the topic as the More Freedom Foundation. You may remember The Drug War is Awesome parts one, two and three.

There is also a short, angry pamphlet on the topic available on Amazon.

I am currently tweeting as @TheFederalGovt.

The piece below is my first for the Hammer of Truth. Hope you like it.

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Ron Paul’s tragic Roman forebearer: Cato the Younger

He is a lone voice of reason, standing up for his country’s constitution. In the face of incredible corruption, he alone stands for keeping the government within traditional limits. When you compare him to his “peers” he doesn’t just seem to have different views, but to be a completely different kind of person. I am talking about not just Ron Paul, but also about Cato the Younger, a Roman politician in the time of Caesar in very similar circumstances. The parallels are striking.

Cato was legendarily incorruptible — Unlike every other Roman politician he never took a dime from his public offices. Dr. Paul, or Dr. No as he is known, is probably Washington, DC’s most loathed congressman among lobbyists. His refusal to vote for anything he sees as unconstitutional mirrors Cato’s.

I was hit with the comparison watching the most recent Republican debates. The rest of the politicians were cycling through small variations of the same talking points. They were going to take care of us, and keep America secure. They were going to create jobs. There is little to differentiate their programs from Obama’s. Paul on the other hand stood up there and outlined a philosophy of liberty.

Cato was the same way. He was rigorously for the Roman Republic’s original laws and traditions. He was opposed to Julius Caesar and his efforts to rule as a dictator. His obsession with stoic philosophy, and tales of his forgoing material comforts was legendary.

Cato is known as one of the first users of the filibuster. He spoke for hours rather than let Caesar change the laws of the country. Paul has also achieved through oratory endurance. He has been pushing the same program, and saying the same things for over 30 years. Against all expectation he is poised to make a real run at the Republican nomination, and he has indisputably changed the conversation.

So what happened to Cato? This is where it gets depressing. Cato was exiled and eventually took his own life after Caesar crushed the last armed opposition to his rule at a battle in Tunisia. Cato’s spirited defense of the Roman Republic is well known because it was one of the last. Within 20 years of Cato’s death, Caesar’s nephew Augustus finally killed the Republic, instituting the Roman Empire.

Ron Paul is almost certainly not going to end up disemboweling himself in Utica. He will probably die in his bed, and sooner than we would like. But will his legacy be any different? Will Ron Paul be remembered, like Cato, as one of the last true defenders of our old Republic? Are we going to continue to elect increasingly imperial presidents, who will promise to watch over us benevolently, while taking more and more of what makes us unique? That’s ultimately up to us.

Cato the Younger – [Wikipedia]
Apologies to Lee Vanwallene and VoteDave

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