What is a Rogue State?

A few days ago, I was flipping through the TV channels looking for something interesting to watch between football games.  Golf just doesn’t do it for me.  I zoomed past C-SPAN, which can be interesting at times, even if it’s also annoying.  I was on this channel long enough to hear some Republican congressman whipper-snapper use the term “rogue state.”

“What is a rogue state?” I thought to myself.  In the eyes of the U.S. government, a rogue state is a government that enjoys a monopoly on violence which refuses to do the bidding of America.  Certain governments are not allowed to do what all governments naturally do:  make weapons, enforce monopolies, engage in conquest, etc.  These governments are referred to as rogue states by the arrogant quacks who run the American machine.

In essence, however, the “good governments” are no worse than the bad ones.  They use the same monopoly on violence to drive weaker nations and peoples into submission.  A rogue state has simply suffered the misfortune of getting on the bad side of the sanctimonious oligarchs in Washington, DC.  Many of these “rogue states” were victims of American baiting and switching.  Saddam Hussein, were he still alive, would be able to testify to this.

A more basic question, however, is, What is a rogue?  A rogue is a criminal, a thief, gangster, mobster, murderer, etc.  So are all governments.  They steal the money of innocent civilians under threat of penalty as if the fruits of a man’s labor are not his own; force young men into military service as if the bodies of the citizenry are owned by the state; erode private property rights almost to the point of meaninglessness; go on conquest to enforce oil monopolies; and install puppet governments in far away lands against the consent of the people who live there.

In other words, all states are rogue states.  To use this term is redundant; it is like saying “yellow canary” or “red cardinal.”  The politicians get away with it, however, because most of us are unwilling to re-examine the assumptions that were taught to us in school.  Recently Sen.Harry Reid claimed that taxation is “voluntary.”  There should have been protests everywhere, but the remark went nearly unnoticed.  If memory serves, not even Matt Drudge took note of it.

The sad part of this whole story of “man’s inhumanity to man,” as Ronald Reagan called it, is that this kind of violence reigns on the throne of human ignorance and indifference.  If even a tithe of the citizenry were wide awake, most of the awfulness we see today wouldn’t be happening.  This leads to the most sobering lesson of all:  Most countries end up with the government they deserve.

Rubbish from the Philadelphia DA’s office

A little more than a year ago a mob of Philadelphia police beat three men whom they suspected of committing a shooting.  The grand jury investigation of this incident was released yesterday.  The grand jury, of course, found that the police acted appropriately.

Ironic, that.  After all, in the days after the beating, police commissioner Charles Ramsey fired several of the officers.  A cop thought some of his own deserved to be fired, but a grand jury finds that they acted appropriately.  Something is fishy here.  For his part, Ramsey is standing by his original decision, and good for him.  Also interesting is the fact that one of the suspects was hit or stepped on in the head after he was handcuffed.  I guess the “heroes” with the night sticks were still afraid of him.

The Fraternal Disorder of Police, as you might guess, in light of this verdict, is trying to get all the fired officers re-instated and compensated for all their lost pay.  This sinister organization combines the folly of labor unions with the diabolical love of violence.  They are also campaigning against local Judge Craig Washington because at one time or another this year he refused to do the bidding of the Blue Wall of Thugs.

The government schools, have, of course, done their part in all of this in order to make useful idiots for the “justice” system’s juries.  No one is taught to ask any fundamental questions, and people sure as hell don’t know about jury nullification (which would not, admittedly, obtain in this case).

There is another issue here, one which I hesitate to mention:  race.  But in this case, it would seem to be worth mentioning.  What was the racial composition of the grand jury?  What exactly were the racial makeups of the police squad and the suspects on the night of the beating?  Philadelphia has an appalling amount of racial tension—just the other day a city worker filed suit alleging that the bathrooms in his facility are segregated—and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it was a factor in this case.  I do think that race can be overstated, but I’m not stupid enough to think that it has no impact whatsoever.

There are signs that various members of the booboisie have hung in their windows and on their cars in this city which say, “I support the Philadelphia Police.”  These poor people don’t realize that the police are not their friends, that they will harass them, too, the first chance they get.  For my part, I support peace and non-violence and cooperation; how then could I possibly support the police?

Virginia police over-step authority

These kinds of stories are becoming so common as to hardly merit specific mention anymore, at least as “news.”  At this point the more crucial matter is taking account of the erosion of freedoms in this country.  In a kind of sequel to the Professor Gates outrage, in which Boston police harassed him long after it was obvious that he was indeed the owner of the house, local Virginia police tased a cooperative grandfather and a pregnant woman at, of all things, a baptismal party.  Read about it here and here.  (Recall that tasing can be life threatening, and that it was originally conceived as a possible substitute for deadly force, but only in those situations which would call for the use of deadly force.  In other words, not a baptismal party.)

In both cases, the outdated “disorderly conduct” law was cited as cause to arrest these citizens who were minding their own business.  This is a law that was created to give cops the authority to tamp down race riots over labor conflicts that occurred in the early 20th century between various immigrant groups.  In both states concerned, the law specifically says that the alleged disorderly conduct must have occurred in public in order to be considered a violation of the code; in both these cases, the arrests were made on private property.  Let this be another lesson that the government never follows its own rules.  Keep this in mind when they try to allay your fears about this or that proposal.

Many people have commented unfavorably on my principled dislike of the police, but how else am I to feel about an organization which uses its monopoly on violence to harass peaceful citizens?  These men are considered “heroes” by many, but heroes don’t shoot black labs and claim that they felt threatened; they don’t invoke war zone-like rules of engagement, treating fleeing potential suspects as definite aggressors, as a proposal in Chicago would have it; and heroes don’t tase dudes that just want to ask Sen. John Kerry a question, man.  These acts are not heroic; they are cowardly.  The cops want you to think that they risk their lives for you, but this is not true to the extent that they lead us to believe.  The fact is that they are far more willing to engage in pre-emptive self-defense than they will ever admit.

Worse than the cops, however, might well be the citizens who defend this tyrannical behavior.  These reflexive traditionalists don’t seem to realize that some day they could be the victim of police brutality; that it might be their relative in the ambulance that gets pulled over and medical care delayed (a misdemeanor, btw) because of some power-hungry cop; that it might be they who are harassed by the TSA when they inquire as to whether or not they’re legally compelled to answer questions.  Et cetera.  We call these kinds of incidents “harassment” precisely because the people on the wrong side of luck in these cases did nothing wrong.  So what is going to prevent something like this from happening to you?

The reflexive traditionalists, and some of the thoughtful ones, too, will answer that the police guard the tranquil order.  I suppose that in a State in which the police take appropriate action against violators of the rights to life, self, and property, this argument can be made.  But today the police are, if anything,  disturbers of the ordo tranquilitatis, and our sick willingness to look the other way until it affects ourselves enables them to perpetuate this errand of hostility.

Judge: Government must return seized coins

A judge in Philadelphia has determined that the U.S. government must return ten gold coins which it seized from a family when they showed up at the Mint to have them authenticated.  Lovely how the government just assumed that they were stolen.  The judge seems not to have been fooled.

Is there any chance at all that maybe, just maybe, the government is afraid of real money getting into circulation?

Jury acquits cop of shooting defenseless woman and boy

From LRC we have this story.  William Grigg has said everything that needs to be said, so I’ll only add that my dislike for the police is now principled.  There have been too many incidents like this, and the only time MSNBCCNNFOX seem to take any notice is when the story has the potential to stir up wider-ranging strife, such as when race is a factor.  Other than that, they have no interest in whether or not the cops are actually respecting the rights of the citizens.

Local Polizei kill man

Police in a Philadelphia suburb killed a man on Friday night.  Admittedly, the deceased was being a violent maniac, but this doesn’t seem to add up to me.  The suspect viciously attacked a woman.  The Polizei pursued, and when the aggressor brandished a brick, they shot him three times.  Thrice.

Now, while, in my Weltanschauung, the Polizei have no actual authority, it would seem that they nevertheless have the right to protect their own persons from aggression, just as each of us has a right to do this.  All the same, one has to wonder about this situation.  News reports are always sketchy and always to be taken with a grain of salt.  But a brick vs. a gun?  Three shots?  Come on.  Honestly, this strikes me as excessive.  

Yes, I know bricks can do damage, but where is the bravery that these kops are said to have?  It seems to me that they are often quite quick to shoot.  And then bureaucrats have the guts and/or stupidity to wonder aloud why there has been a rash of incidents in which citizens kill a member of the Polizei.  I am not advocating violence against the police; I am only saying that one must take stock of all the dynamics surrounding a situation.  Police violence against the citizenry is one of them.  Philadelphia has the additional ignominy of being a city which firebombed one of its own neighborhoods.  The old-timers tell me that this event created a stifling level of racial tension.  So much for the idea that authority creates peace!

It sounds like the suspect in question in this recent incident was a dangerous man and potentially mentally disturbed as well.  But was it necessary to kill him?  Maybe it was, but situations like this deserve better than the usual banal press releases from attorney generals’ offices.

Theft, Violence, and Propaganda

Thanks to LRC, I just had the pleasure (?) of watching this American tax propaganda video from the World War II era:

We hear the usual claptrap in this clip, words like “duty” and “sacrifice.”  The interesting thing about “sacrifice,” however, is that it is a lie:  When a thief breaks into your home and takes your most treasured possessions, that is not a sacrifice.  The divestment of your materials was not voluntary, so how could there be any giving or sacrifice?  In the Jewish and Christian traditions, sacrifice is voluntary.  I suppose that this means that the State is more like primordial religions, in which even human sacrifice was conducted without the consent of those whom it, well, impacted the most, if you catch my drift.

Another interesting feature of this excrement is that it glorifies violence and serving the State in the military.  What else are all those salutes and “Yes Sirs” meant to convey?  Couple this with the surprise when the talking radio reveals he’s actually discussing the income tax.  This seems to re-enforce the idea that military service is assumed to be good.  

Interestingly, however, one does wonder why the government, through its shills at Disney, felt the need to make this cartoon.  At the time the federal income tax was not a very old thing; many would have remembered much more peaceful times when they kept much more of their money.  Was there some resistance still?  How did the government prevail?  Were people as gullible then as they are now?  It would seem that tyranny benefits, if you’ll pardon my constantly bringing up this idea, from fragmentation and obsession, as Weaver called it.  This is the myopic fetish with detail that humanity has developed after it has lost sight of civilization’s founding principles.  The most obvious symptom of this is naked hostility to philosophy, most often seen in the neo-conservatives.  But the salient point here is that fragmentation and obsession keeps us from seeing the essential characteristics of a thing.  Indeed, to point out the relationship between theft and taxation is to waste one’s breath even in conversations with the “fiscally conservative.”  The government benefits from this because of the consequent stupidity which makes people more pliable to the idea that paying taxes is “different” from being robbed at gunpoint.

There is one tiny, tiny redeeming piece of this video, however.  It would seem that it shows how the tax system worked before the withholding racket got its start.  Would that each of us, every April 15, had to write a check for every cent in tax that we “owe” for the previous year.  That is to say, abolish the withholding system.  It is a nice trick the government uses, and it keeps most people, who are asleep in general as it is, from realizing just how much tax they pay every year.  It was sold to the gullible as a “convenience” but it is really a weapon:  Employers are required to withhold the money, and there is no chance for people to say to the government, “You’re not getting it.”  It makes any kind of tax revolt well impossible, doesn’t it?

For my part, I continue to pay my taxes honestly, if only out of a sense of prudence.  I value my ability to live freely over my natural right to keep the fruits of my labor.  I am like the coward who, when confronted with a gun-wielding mugger, hands over his wallet without even thinking.  Perhaps, however, the point should not be my cowardice, but rather that the government—that evil, parasitical pile of excrement in Washington—relies on such conundrums for its survival.

Remember that the next time some sports announcer asks you to stand up for the State Song.  “Deutschland ueber Alles…”  Ooops.  Wrong soundtrack.  Well, they’re all the same, though, aren’t they?

Two LRC podcasts to drive the Anti-Saloon League batty

Seventy five years ago yesterday, Prohibition was repealed.  It would figure, of course, that this was not motivated by common sense, but rather by political greed.  Lew Rockwell talks to Mark Thornton about all this.

Be sure also to listen to the interview with Thornton about the drug war.

It’s interesting to me that, with respect both to alcohol and drugs, they became more dangerous after they were banned–so that whole bit about banning stuff for our own good is probably complete garbage.

Nonetheless, if you can find more than five people that you know who are capable of having a reasonable conversation about these substances, you are doing better than I am.  Americans love to find the faults of others and to correct them, even if it means ruining lives in the process.  Mencken said that most citizens love the law the most when it is established in order to protect them from themselves.

Everyone knows that the drug war has been an abysmal failure, but its status as a quasi-religion (a false one, to boot), with Nancy Reagan as its heavenly queen, pretty much prohibits reasoned discussion about the subject, let alone a sane recognition of the principles of non-aggression and personal responsibility.

Pennsylvania thinks soap is unnecessary

When self-checkout kiosks began appearing in supermarkets in the early part of this decade, I resisted them stubbornly. They seemed to be a symptom of the deification of efficiency, and of the modern tendency to avoid meaningful interaction with other people–two phenomena to which I am just as susceptible as anyone else.

It did not take long for me to mellow on this, if for no other reason than that the stores were making use of fewer red-blooded cashiers in the wake of this new invention. I began to take note of some of the advantages of the self-checkout routine. For one thing, if I’m in a bad mood, I don’t risk subjecting some innocent person to my bad vibe, but for another thing, I pay more attention to certain details on my grocery bill.

One of those details concerns items which are taxed and items which are not taxed. Here in the State of Pennsylvania, the tale is that necessary items are not taxed–for example, clothing and food. Of course, some foods are taxed, if they are deemed to be non-essential. Soda, for instance, is taxed, if I recall correctly.

Never in my life would I have thought that soap would be a taxable item. Imagine my surprise when, on a trip to the store this evening, sales tax came up after I ran the hand soap over the scanner. On what planet is soap not necessary? And are some soaps tax free? I happen to have certain soaps that I like, soaps that kill bacteria and that do not dry, crack, and shred my hands all to hell. How is this not an essential item? Would the people who have to sit next to me on the subway agree that soap is non-essential?

All of this brings out the absurdity in having the government decide what is necessary and what is not. The truth of the matter is that different materials are necessary for different people. (So, as far as soap is concerned, it would be a question, I think, of kind, and not of whether or not one uses it!) To me, having a large pickup truck (to which I will, by the way, never aspire) would be a luxury, but to a hard-working plumber or farmer, it’s surely a necessity. To most people, eating out in restaurants is a frill; but to nomadic workers, it’s a necessity. The short version of this story is that the government is in no position to determine, even for the poorest citizens, what is necessary and what is not. The bureaucrats do not and will never have all the required information to divine (pun intended!) such things. This is a flaw that F.A. Hayek discussed in the context of Central Planning in his fairly good book The Road to Serfdom.

Of course, I don’t expect any Philadelphia tea parties over the State sales tax. After all, it seems that most people regard the absence of the sales tax on certain items to be a favor, like it’s the equivalent to an employer handing out Christmas bonuses. Perhaps this is because most people, having resigned themselves to dealing with what’s right in front of their faces, have not reflected on the manifest injustice that is taxation in all its forms.

And that really stinks.

Remembering broken promises on Veterans’ Day

Although I am quite aware that Veterans’ Day was originally called Armistice Day and was set aside for veterans of “The War to End All Wars”, I recall the sacrifices made by Filipino veterans less than a generation later on their home soil, in response to the call of a faraway imperial regime.

No, not Tokyo. Washington.

WGBH’s American Experience piece on General Douglas MacArthur gives a sufficient overview of the situation, posted below in its entirety with emphases in bold:

“I, __[Name]__, do solemnly swear…that I will bear true faith and allegiance…to the United States of America…that I will serve them honestly and faithfully…against all their enemies whomsoever…and I will obey the orders…of the President of the United States…And the orders of the officers appointed over me…according to the rules and Articles of War.”

With this pledge, approximately 250,000 Filipino men joined the U.S. Armed Forces in the months before and the days just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For the next several years, they would share the fate of their American counterparts on the battlefield, in prisoner of war camps, and throughout the countryside as part of the guerrilla resistance. Accordingly, Washington promised them the same health and pension benefits as their American brothers. Even after the war, in October of 1945, Gen. Omar Bradley, then Administrator of the Veterans Administration, reaffirmed that they were to be treated like any other American veterans.

But on February 18, 1946, the Congress passed and President Truman signed Public Law 70-301, known as the Rescission Act of 1946. It said that the service of Filipinos “shall not be deemed to be or to have been service in the military or national forces of the United States or any component thereof or any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges or benefits.”

Ever since, Filipino veterans and others appalled by this injustice have lobbied without success for a reversal of the Rescission Act. Mr. Ingles, whose sacrifices are vividly described above, gave voice to their frustration in his interview:

Interviewer: And do think most Filipinos were grateful that MacArthur returned?

Gustavo Ingles Gustavo Ingles: Well, in the case of people of my age, we were grateful to that certain extent that he came back, but the succeeding people who governed the States forgot about the promises made by Roosevelt when he encouraged Filipinos to fight for the Americans, and [about] this we feel very bitter. In fact, even myself, because of what happened to us, I never received any pension from the U.S. Government as a soldier. What I am receiving now is the pension from the Philippine government, and sometimes this is still forgotten because there is no money in the coffers. This promise was made, in fact even before I went to the States as a student in Fort Benning, [when] war was still going on in 1945, but [the] surrender of Japan was affected sometime in September.

So there was already peacetime …[plans] to reconstruct the Philippines, and this was true up to the end of 1945. But [in] 1946, some time in February, the American Congress, because of the expenses it is supposed to receive or give out to the Filipino veterans, put a rider in the veterans code, they noted what they call the Rescission Act, denying all benefits except for those who died or were wounded during the war. And up to now we, as veterans, have not received anything — well, maybe medical treatment from the Old Veterans Memorial Hospital, but that was also cut off already by the U.S. Government.

Today, fewer than 70,000 Filipino veterans are still alive, and that number is rapidly falling as even the youngest of them are approaching eighty. In recent years, their cause has been taken up by Rep. Bob Filner (D-California), who has introduced a bill in Congress which would grant them full benefits. But equally, perhaps even more important to these men is that their service be recognized and the government admit it made a terrible mistake. Hunger strikes, protests in front of the White House, and extensive lobbying have yet to prevail over bureaucratic inertia, fiscal restraint, and plain forgetfulness.

Their case was probably made most clearly back in 1946, before their sacrifice had been relegated to a distant memory. “There can be no question,” said a former World War I artillery captain named Harry Truman, “but that the Philippine veteran is entitled to benefits bearing a reasonable relation to those received by the American veteran, with whom he fought side by side.”

This particular issue touches me a bit more than peripherally; five of my Filipino ancestors served in World War II. Of these five, my maternal grandfather and my father’s two eldest brothers survived the Bataan Death March. None of them ever spoke about it with me; how could they initiate such a topic of discussion? How could I? (My mother tells of my grandfather’s occasional fits of rage, which I can only retroactively diagnose as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.)

Now, the question that I have is this: How many Filipinos would have served anyway, without the “phantom carrot” of quasi-mercenary compensation?[1] One could certainly argue a smaller number; after all, the mercenary attitude is race-neutral. But would not love of country — not love for the United States, to be sure, but for the land of their birth — have prompted some of these same men to rise up to drive the Japanese from their soil? If one were to answer “yes” to this question, then why offer a promise in the first place, only to break it later at the precise moment the stated beneficiaries were expecting its fulfillment? Were the Fed’s printing presses broken that year, and every year thereafter — to this day? Certainly not for Big Auto and Wall Street. But for these veterans, they may as well have been — and might as well be.[2]

Back in the mid-’90s, I was one of many Americans of Filipino ancestry who marched on Washington, D.C. to call attention to the injustice done to these veterans. More than a decade later, a quick Google search reveals little if any progress on restitution.

Like many, I used to think that racism played a principal role in the denial of benefits. I still do, to an extent.[3] But nowadays, while remembering the courage of all these Filipino veterans, and while acknowledging the fine efforts of many who advocate for the less than 20,000 of them that survive, I look at this shameful episode — one of many in American history, to be sure — as a cruel illustration of a lesson that we would all do well to heed:

When the government or its agents promises you good things, do the right thing: call BS on them every time, without exception. Otherwise, you guarantee disappointment for yourself and those around you. And even if they “make good” on their promises, chances are that it will be too little, too late.[4]

(Postscript: Filipino Veterans Left Out in the Cold. For a 62nd consecutive year. What further need have we of witnesses?)


[1] In an earlier age, kings’ soldiers were essentially private contractors; failure to pay them would have been a serious matter. Therefore, the United States essentially treated the Filipinos as slaves.

[2] I do not in any way advocate that the Fed print money for these veterans; rather, I aim to point out the selective benevolence that our current monetary system enables.

[3] A reader relates the fact that the French government did something similar to Algerian WWII veterans under their command. Though I have no knowledge of this, or time to verify, what I’ve been told does contribute to my perception that racism did play some part in the decisions made by the United States, and the so-called First World in general.

[4] Note that I do not single out the United States Government. The Philippine-American episode as related in this piece, the Algerian-French episode in the previous note, and the trails of broken promises left by all governments — especially modern ones — prompt me to place them all under the same ignominious umbrella.


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