Sunday, October 30, 2005

As Worthless as Dollars

Here is what James Grant wrote in the New York Times on October 26 this year, commenting on the choice of Ben Bernanke as the new Fed Chairman:
"...the post-1971 dollar is purely faith-based. Not since the Nixon years has a holder of dollars had the privilege of exchanging them for a statutory weight of gold. Rather, the dollar is a piece of paper, or electronic impulse, of no intrinsic value. It is legal tender whose value is ultimately determined by the confidence of the people who hold it."

If faith can make dollars valuable, it stands to reason that lack of faith can make them worthless. Something to ponder.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Heart of the Matter

Today on LRC, Anthony Gregory admonishes those who avoid seeing the forest from the trees:

The state is not about laws on pieces of paper. It is about looting and violence. Its principal methods of funding are theft and counterfeiting, its regular modus operandi is extortion and its most conspicuous projects are assault and murder.


The state is an organization of coercion, a monopoly on aggression, falsely legitimized by its own fiat and sanctified in idolatrous mythology and through lying propaganda. There is no technicality that can curb its inherent conflict with the natural law and individual liberty. It draws actual blood, bankrupts actual companies, bombs actual cities and taxes actual wealth. Its soldiers shoot to kill, its taxmen are equally ruthless. In principle, it is no more bound by a subsection of its tax code than a mobster is bound by his vague promise to protect you. It is for all these reasons that the state must be understood and eventually dismantled wherever and whenever possible. Don’t get too distracted by the fine print and neglect the big picture.

Gregory doesn't deal here with the Empire (the state writ global), but his argument applies to it as well. Those people who still believe international law serves to restrain the Empire from visiting its whims upon whomever it chooses, or that the Empire has any intention of respecting the treaties it signed, are just as deluded as those who seek loopholes in the US tax code.

I want to retch every time I hear some two-bit wannabe diplomat from Belgrade "defend" Serbia's territorial integrity by invoking Resolution 1244, for example. Quibbling about details in Empire's arbitrary proclamations is futile - after all, it can simply make another, and move along on its merry pillaging way.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tom Friedman and Imperial Hypocrisy

I've considered Thomas Friedman scum since way back in the spring of 1999, when he was baying for Serbian blood as NATO bombers pounded Belgrade and KLA set Kosovo on fire. Nothing he has written since has made me change my mind.

But after the relentless repetition of the "NATO took control of Kosovo to stop evil Serbs from slaughtering innocent Albanians" lie by just about every print and broadcast medium in the US for the past six years, I thought no one remembered Friedman's bloodlust anymore. Turns out I was mistaken. Someone named Drew Hamre wrote an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this Saturday, attacking Friedman for demonizing the Sunnis of Iraq (see text here); to underline the sheer hypocrisy of Friedman calling the Sunnis terrorists and murderers, Hamre used the following examples:

"Friedman has urged terror bombing to force regime change in Serbia ("Let's see what 12 weeks of less than surgical bombing does," April 6, 1999)... Friedman has advocated bombing electrical grids, knowing full well the mortal damage that results when refrigerators and filtration pumps die ("It should be lights out in Belgrade," April 23, 1999)... Friedman has previously argued for war on a people, not just its government ("Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation").

All of this is in the context of Friedman's comments on Iraq, which have run in the same vein. "He appears intent on caricaturing a people, and then demonizing them," Hamre says, describing 9perhaps unwittingly) the US media coverage of the Balkans - and Iraq - over the past 15 years.

Of course, the advocates of Empire - be they social-democratic "liberals" or national-socialist "conservatives" - will at this point argue that there is nothing hypocritical about Friedman's rants against either Serbs or Sunnis. They are, after all, evil, and Americans who bomb them are good; "everyone knows" that. But what makes one good or evil, if not their deeds? If something is considered a heinous crime when attributed to Serbs, should it not be considered a crime when perpetrated by Americans? Quod liced Iovi non licet bovi is such a Roman sentiment. If the Imperialists are saying they are to the rest of the world as gods unto cattle, then we are indeed cattle for not shoving that opinion down their arrogant gullets, so they may choke on it.

Someone has already done something like that for Friedman; earlier this year, Matt Taibbi penned a superb takedown of the pompous blowhard, worth referencing every time some ignorant idiot in your environs mentions that columnist as worthy of anything but contempt:

"Friedman is... a genius of literary incompetence... It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of writer the Imperialists consider a "sage." Says a lot about them, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Loving the Emperor

Gene Healy wrote an interesting piece in Reason online, concerning Americans' love affair with the Imperial Presidency, as manifested in a current television show starring Geena Davis.

"what's interesting about the show isn't the idea of a woman president, and it certainly isn't the hackneyed dialogue. If C in C is worth watching at all, it's for what it tells us about modern, popular views of the presidency. Judging by the first three episodes, and the show's popularity, the romance of presidential power transcends left and right.
"Geena Davis' Mac Allen is an independent, and if her politics are thus far difficult to discern, it may be because they consist of convictions shared by both parties, such as dedication to a militarized drug war and a hyper-Wilsonianism that sees all the world's quarrels as our own.
"there can be no doubt that the Imperial Presidency is alive and well. And most Americans, liberal or conservative, can't imagine it any other way. The public is no longer content to accept a mere chief magistrate, charged with faithful execution of the laws; instead, over the 20th century, the president has been transformed into a national Father-Protector, who is supposed to keep us safe from everything from economic dislocation to bad weather."

Though the facts of the American Empire should seem crystal clear to just about everyone who cares to look, all too many people are still convinced that this country is a constitutional republic. To steal the line from a movie, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled is convincing people he did not exist. So long as the illusion of a republic persists, Americans will not challenge the American Empire, and keep thinking it's the measure of being "presidential" when Geena Davis - or Martin Sheen, for that matter - order other countries blown up.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Onward and Upward

After almost five years of Thursdays, Balkan Express (est. October 19, 2000) is moving - by a day. From this week onward, it will appear on Wednesdays. It may be five years since the 'revolution' in Serbia, and ten since the Bosnian War ended, but the Empire is still knee-deep in the Balkans mud, and getting deeper.

Will the illegal occupation of Kosovo end in an ethnically-cleansed Albanian statelet? Will the efforts to create a centralized Bosnia-Herzegovina lead to peace and harmony, or another war? Will the EU devour the region, and either solve its problems or create new ones? That, and a lot more, as Balkan Express enters its sixth year - now on Wednesdays.

(reposted from the blog)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Birds of a Feather

Natasa Kandic, the foremost peddler of atrocity porn in Serbia, is to become a honorary citizen of Sarajevo. So says her "Humanitarian Law Centre" in a triumphant post on the globalist web portal,

The "honor" was awarded by the Sarajevo City Council, which apparently considers Kandic someone who has "made extraordinary contributions to the development and promotion of Sarajevo, as well as the field of improvement of international and human relations, based on the principles of solidarity, democracy, humanity and tolerance among peoples of various creeds."

There is, of course, nothing in Kandic's work that resembles anything close to solidarity, democracy, humanity and especially tolerance. Then again, the current Sarajevo City Council is notorious for asserting it was being multi-ethnic and tolerant when it appointed a "Bosniak," a "Bosnian" and a "Muslim" to its offices because it could not round up enough Serbs or Croats to fill the sham multi-ethnic quotas. From the pages of Sarajevo dailies and weeklies pour out the messages of such vitriolic hatred (mostly for Serbs, but Croats are targeted every so often as well) to make Kandic's Serbophobic ravings seem mild by comparison. My hometown has become an abomination, indeed.

I suppose this council and Kandic deserve each other, kindred spirits as they are. But Sarajevo deserves better than either of them.