Backtalk July 7, 2004

Republicans Can’t Handle the Truth

Thank you for calling on conservatives to be true to the ideals their party was founded upon. It is very sad to see the GOP devolve into blind, mindless nationalism that represents a road for them, and the nation as a whole, that is pointed straight toward disaster; the proverbial do not pass Go, do not collect your tax refund.

There are many intelligent, thoughtful, non-closed-minded and capable men and women who believe in Conservatism with the capital C. It confuses me as to why the GOP seems to ignore these individuals in favor of small-minded, childish ideologues who are not only limited to spouting the Gospel According to Dubya (I’m waiting for a little blue book, same size and basic function as Mao’s little red version), but worse, they clearly don’t understand why those ideals exist in the first place, what their meaning truly is, and that ideals are goals – not realities that can actually be achieved by ruthlessly and churlishly branding anyone whose takes exception as traitors.

I hope for the party’s near and long-term future that the membership as a whole realizes at some point that it’s time to replace “neo-cons” with Conservatives.

~ Jay M. Thompson

Yard Sign Project

The invitation below has been sent to artists, friends, writers, activists, and strangers. Please contact me if I may provide further information, images, etc. Yard Sign Project is online, allowing individuals to freely print a larger, full-resolution image. As a way of dealing with this crises of humanity, dissemination is crucial to this project, the diffusion of rational, universal, humanistic ideals, realities and responsibilities. Any help you might offer (posting a sign, creating a link, publishing or forwarding this announcement, etc.) would be greatly appreciated:

Yard Sign Project

Red, white and blue signs, approximately 1.5′ x 2′, are to be placed in front yards and other public locations. They are designed to resemble the ubiquitous yard signs printed commercially and posted in front of homes and businesses throughout the southern USA. The “Ten Commandments” yard sign includes text from the Geneva Convention as it relates specifically to treatment of prisoners. “Support Our Troops” includes previously restricted imagery of the remains of US servicemen and servicewomen. “Home For Sale” includes an image of the American flag, violently out of focus.

~ Bill Fisher, Assistant Professor of Art, Georgia College & State University

A Tale of Two Movies

Thanks for your article/ review concerning Michael Moore’s documentary/ polemic Fahrenheit 9/11. It was the most balanced I have read. As I understood you you had big problems with some aspects of the movie but generally thought he was on the right side of the argument. Strangely, even though Moore is considered pretty out there on the left (which I tend to be also) a lot of the left websites have nothing good to say about the movie and I just saw Christopher Hitchens terrorist-baiting Moore on CNN calling him a Taliban/ al Qaeda sympathizer and accusing him of gross distortion and deception! That’s Christopher Hitchens the guy I saw, in the run up to the invasion, say he would eat his shorts if Iraq didn’t possess significant quantities of WMD! Anyway, thanks for the honest and fair review.

~ Bob Ransdell, Soquel, CA

Hate Mail

I‘m sitting at home ’cause I caught a cold, and just discovered your letters section. Great stuff!

I just laugh out loud when I see someone foaming at the mouth and you guys write some clever (sometimes snotty) remark back. Hilarious!

Keep printing the hate mail from the “peanut gallery”! Those are the best!

Keep up the good work!

~ Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers

The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos

Let’s see photographs of murdered Americans and allies too, particularly those beheaded. Inhumanity is not one sided. Your website is.

~ Lynn Wood

Matthew Barganier replies:

A devastating critique – devastatingly moronic. Please see our Photos of the Fallen page. And please write the Bush administration about its suppression of images of American casualties. We’ll show more as soon as they’re available.

Saudis Freed Britons in a Secret Swap of Prisoners

“Six Britons convicted on terrorism charges in Saudi Arabia were released last year as part of a secret three-way deal in which the US set free a number of Saudi prisoners being held at Guantánamo Bay. The deal was brokered to obtain Saudi support for the invasion of Iraq. …

“At the time, the release of the Saudis was opposed by the Pentagon and the CIA. But the joint releases were subsequently presented as diplomatic triumphs by both the British and Saudi governments.”

What was Saudi Arabia thinking when it took five British citizens hostage and threatened to kill them in order to get five Saudis released from Guantanamo? Were they thinking that the world would not find out about this atrocity? Where they thinking that they could get away with blatant violations of international law and human rights conventions?

What was the Bush administration thinking when it released the “terrorists” without even releasing their names? Were they thinking that their secret cache of stowaways were political capital to be used to resolve diplomatic crises? Were they using human lives as “war capital” to get the support of the British and Saudi governments for the planned invasion of Iraq? It’s taken about two years for this rotten mess to surface in the public mind. Now that it has we must dig deeper into it.

The whole escapade stinks. It stinks because it has been covered up by secrecy. It stinks because the Saudi regime showed its insidious corruption. It stinks because the British “rolled over” and made a stinking deal to save their citizens. It stinks because the U.S. operated outside the court system in military secrecy and quite possibly detained innocent Saudis. All three parties carry the stench of corruption, secrecy and the repulsive notion that some people operate above the law.

I want to know the identities of the Saudis released from Guantanamo. I think we have the right to that information. I think we should investigate these individuals to see where they went, who they know in the Saudi government and why the Saudi government was willing to commit an international atrocity of justice in order to secure their release from the so-called “humane” US detention facility.

This is what happens when we allow our government to detain prisoners without due process of law and access to the US courts. This is the folly of secret prison systems.

We need yet another investigation into this example of the Bush administration’s exceptionalism. This time the exceptionalism was the executive authority of the Commander-in-Chief operating outside the boundaries of U.S. criminal law. Once again the US has aligned itself with a corrupt government doomed to failure and sacrificed its principles of freedom, justice and democracy in exchange for economic gain and support for an unnecessary war. …

~ Steve Moyer

Old Europe AWOL in Iraq

Old Europe is not AWOL, it just did not give in in the shameful WMD trick.

The phony transfer of sovereignty to puppet CIA Iraqi fiends/ friends does not change a thing, Iraqis are still invaded and the US in Iraq is as omnipresent and powerful as ever, it just try to hide behind the curtains to pull the puppet’s ropes and Europe just won’t buy it.

You broke it, you fix it: why should France or NATO play the cleaner after USA made yet another fine mess of things?

~ Hélène Maurhofer

Has it ever occurred to you that a) there are many other ways to solve difference of opinions other than war, and b) that Europe does not want war, we like our children and avoid sending them to get killed. So please, Mr. Buchanan, do not hesitate, go home and do not forget to take your weapons along.

~ Monique Jouvenel-Brandreth

Matthew Barganier replies:

You may have missed Buchanan’s point, which was precisely that the U.S. should abandon its de facto occupation of Europe.

You are so right, Europe should indeed organize itself into an all European NATO (without the US) or a new European Defense Organization.

I am an American living in Europe. The problem is, Pat, that whenever the EU talks about creating a new European Defense our government goes ballistic. If the US would pull out of NATO then the Europeans would be forced to get their act together and create their own defense, but at the very least the US should keep silent when there are efforts to do so.

~ Walter Cole

Article Submission Guidelines

I‘ve read the section on submissions but wanted to know more about parameters. Can I submit an editorial or must it be a feature, etc.? Also can you offer advice to a neophyte? Are there particular stories you’re looking for?

~ David Arroyo

Matthew Barganier replies:

Some general guidelines for submissions:

1) Say something new. Don’t just reiterate what you’ve heard or read on the site. Ask yourself if informed people would be interested in your topic and your approach.

2) Use facts. Arguments must be substantiated, and on the Web this means links. If you make a factual assertion that is beyond common knowledge, please include a link from a reputable news source.

3) Proofread! Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are important. If it’s going to take us half a day to make it presentable, we don’t want it. It helps to let someone else read and critique your work before you send it along. We all make mistakes, but there are numerous guides to help you avoid the most common errors. I strongly recommend The Elements of Style by Strunk and White and Woe Is I by Patricia O’Conner.

4) Be concise. Commentary pieces should usually be less than 1,000 words.

5) Know your audience. Take a minute to read the Who We Are page.


I noticed you have been using this quote (by Ludwig von Mises) on your site: “The philosophy of protectionism is a philosophy of war.”

I believe this quote to be inconsistent with your antiwar principles. It appears to state that a government that does not let a foreign power penetrate certain of its markets is adopting an attitude of war to that other nation. If so, doesn’t it follow logically that that other nation is justified in covert and overt intervention against the first government, the use of subversion (CIA) and invasion (war)? It seems to me that most of our government’s (USA’s) wars and subversions are for the purpose of allowing US multinationals access to foreign resources which those sovereign foreign populations choose freely to protect. It is “free market” dogma that leads to war. Your von Mises quote is something war-lovers like the current cabal would rally behind. It is only through respecting each nation’s sovereignty – including its sovereignty over its own markets – that a powerful motivation for war (market access) can be rendered defunct.


Sam Koritz replies:

The quotation denigrates protectionism by claiming that it encourages war. This implies that war is worse than protectionism. Implicit in the quotation, then, is Mises‘ (and our) belief that protectionism (a bad thing) should not be prevented by war (a worse thing).

An Interview with Sibel Edmonds

Thank you for posting this entire lengthy and very enlightening interview!

This is definitely one of (if not THE) MOST IMPORTANT issues to come out lately, about the intense and absolute corruption in all levels of our “intelligence” and “justice” communities, right up through the White House, for allowing and even condoning it!

Ashcroft’s actions are despicable! The fact that Congress cannot, and/or will not, do anything about this is truly reprehensible. Especially when Sibel Edmonds is so willingly and courageously trying her hardest to do her best for the benefit of our country!

If she is never allowed to tell her story we are, indeed, doomed! These criminals MUST not be allowed to illegally dictate their whims upon the citizenry, for their own nefarious ends! Pray tell, what is next?


~ Nerdeaux


I love your site it has become my morning “newspaper” with coffee.

One small complaint. Please don’t allow yourself to be manipulated in the news cycle as are all of the other “standard” news sources.

Example: Just when the F9/11 movie is released and is making a major statement regarding the lies of the Bush administration, they hand over power two days early – citing security issues. YA right! This gets them “positioned above the fold” with news releases.

They then rush Saddam into court, again capturing the headlines. Remember the judge is a Chalabi with DIRECT connections to Douglas Feith at the Pentagon.

Case in point. Your “frontpage” features a picture of Saddam appearing in court. Although it is part of the war issue please consider the weight that you give these obvious manipulations on your excellent site.

If I want to be hand fed the administrations talking points I have hundreds of options.

If I don’t want to be hand fed I only have a few options and I feel YOU and they need to resist covering the party line.

Thanks for all your hard work.

~ Wayne Griffiths, USAF veteran

I appreciate’s compilation of links that expose war atrocities. The site has been a real eye-opener these past few years. But let me do you one better: to be truly antiwar you must be pro-peace. Can you sprinkle in some articles about the efforts of the people working for peace? Can you put them right up in the “Highlights” section where they will get the attention they deserve? We need to build critical mass behind peace initiatives, not just report on how atrocious war is. …

~ Jason Z.

Thank you for your having published my letter complaining about not seeing my letters printed in Backtalk – as well as the reader’s response agreeing that MOST readers’ letters never see the light of day in the “Letters” section.

I also thank you for the suggestion about’s “Readers Forum.” I have participated in the “Forum” and found it to be much less than satisfying intellectually so I stopped participating.

One of my letters you quoted as being available on Google concerned David Horowitz’s interactive reader response section. This letter opines that Mr. Horowitz has the BEST interactive system available on any website. It also lists the negative side of such a system. Obviously, his is not a system you wish to copy, so including a contact address for each contributor may be the best answer to my complaint. Obviously some of your contributors might object to publishing their addresses, but I don’t feel that to be much of a problem. The addresses of some of the best writers in the business are published as a matter of course on such websites as …

~ Nolan K. Anderson

In Defense of Piracy

Copyrights and patents are preventing the non-corporate world from developing. They are keeping the poor poor, and the wealthy wealthy.

Both copyright and patents are monopolies. The seller of the monopoly is, in the case of the article’s examples, nation state governments around the world. The sole benefactors of these government grants is the copyright (monopoly) holder.

The losers are the humans who are not associated with the copyright ownership (usually every human unless associated in some way with the owner of the government granted monopoly power, called copyright). Usually valuable copyrights are owned by corporations and other forms of for profit enterprise. It is this situation which transfers the product of human genius to corporate ownership. Private monopoly power eliminates competitive challenge and makes corporate profit centers of human productive output.

A copyright is a monopoly made possible by a government’s power to establish rule of law and by that government’s enforcement of the rules that lawmakers made possible when they made the rule that is called law.

Who do you suppose coerced government law makers to sequester and vest the powers and resources of government, in one place of private ownership against the balance of disenfranchised humanity? Who do you suppose benefits when the government uses public resources to enforce a private monopoly made legal by rule of law? Who do you suppose that law is designed to benefit; from whom is that benefit derived? Monopoly type profits are non competitive. Monopolies benefit only the empowered and inhibit the balance of humanity.

Monopolies are nation state created. Nation state laws are designed to control human conduct. A law which says, all people who jump at 4:00 PM each day over a chair get a $1000 tax deduction, would produce a nation of 4:00 PM chair jumpers. A law which says it is illegal to read an article that has not been personally paid for, or illegal to listen to music that has not been personally purchased, attempts to force all people to pay the benefactor of the law. Who do you suppose that benefactor is?

Illegal simply means that a lawmakers made a rule that government will enforce against violators. It could be made illegal to breath air unless you have bought a license or paid the party who owns the monopoly on breathing. That type of monopoly would be a patent. Nation state law making powers belongs to humanity not lawmakers. Lawmakers should not make laws against humanity nor should they make laws which delegate, government power to monopolize, to private enterprise, as the copyright and patent laws do.

Copyrights and patents are both antihuman concepts. They direct the economic benefits of mass private competitive efforts into the hands of the few monopolist. The effect of these type of laws is to identify human genius and to capture it to private enterprise ownership.

Laws that convey a government power (right to monopolize) to private enterprise (government defends private rights against the non rights holders), operate to stifle and inhibit human originality and ingenuity. Copyright and patent laws are such laws.

~ ME

Sascha Matuszak replies:

I agree with you in principle, but it would be hard for geniuses to make a living if there were no mechanisms in place to keep pirates and thieves from stealing and profiting from someone else’s hard work.

I argue that monopoly holders must find other ways to engage the pirates: law-based crackdowns inevitably affect the consumer more than the pirate and smack of greed.

Microsoft’s tactic is a step in the right direction: although still extremely annoying, it is much more effective than taking legal action against people downloading material.

Islamic Democrats

Charley Reese at his best, yet again. His views are very much shared by many in the Middle East. How come those in the Bush administration don’t see it so logically? – or indeed the American public. Surely they are educated and can put two and two together to reach the logical conclusion?

We do not hate your freedom as your president keeps telling you. We just don’t like your one-sided support of the Israelis whilst doing everything to show the Arabs as terrorists. Many like myself resent this logic. Surely you are an educated lot and can find true information in this age of the Internet?

Far from hating you, many of us admire your quest for science and education but we are totally disappointed at your foreign policy in the Middle East. So, wassup dude? Wake up and be a true force for goodness, not just empty political rhetoric. Show it by action, not words. Many of us see through such words. We’ve heard it all before, in fact for the last 50 years! Change the tune, man, and do the dance. Good on you Reese for speaking the truth.

~ Ahmed Asgher, a Muslim from Bahrain

Don’t Call it a Wall

Perhaps it would soothe Ran HaCohen’s angst if the term “isolation barrier” came into common use.

The word “apartheid” does not ring a bell on the west side of the Atlantic. And because it is neither just a wall nor just a fence, it requires a generic term to stop the barriers supporters from protesting the word “wall.” It is something that isolates, and does so by being an impenetrable barrier.

Should you care to see my argument regarding the term I use, “isolation barrier,” visit “Hiding Devils with Slogans,” by Larry Hurlock.

~ Larry Hurlock, Juneau, Alaska

Jackals and Jackasses

Excellent essay by Nebojsa Malic. I have disagreed with him in the past, but here he hit the nail on the head.

I have come to the conclusion (actually accepted it finally) that any correction of the course in Serbia away from statism and towards freedom will be a long and arduous process. I believe that the level of political awareness among the general population is so low that they wouldn’t recognize freedom even if it hit them in the head. For any kind of libertarian idea to be recognized and accepted in Serbia, it would take educating the population through continued efforts for anywhere between 5 and 20 years.

Come to think of it, the whole history of political life in Serbia since the ousting of Milosevic in October 2000 was, at best, nothing but a series of attempts to build a better future via shortcuts. (At worst, it was just a naked power and money grab.) But shortcuts do not work – you can’t make a silk purse from sow’s ear.

One possible way to build the foundation for freedom in Serbia (or elsewhere) would be to start an institute or a think tank devoted to promotion of libertarian ideas, something akin to LVM Institute or I don’t quite have the spare cash to pull it off now, but I have to keep it at the back of my mind.

~ Dragan Popovich, Seattle

Nebojsa Malic replies:

My sentiments exactly. Actually, I’m kicking myself in the head for not thinking of something like this a couple of years ago. However, while establishing a Mises Institute-like organization in Serbia might be troublesome, I don’t see why an equivalent of LRC would be beyond the realm of very real possibility. Shortcuts don’t work, but any educational process can be helped along. I’m not aware of any libertarian activity in the Balkans right now (though undoubtedly there is some). That’s something that needs to be remedied, isn’t it?

The Curse of Oil

Prof. Moore is just chock full of ideas about government financing and democracy, some of which do pertain to Iraq’s unique situation. However, he is a fraudster in that he continues to cloak the truth of the US, i.e. the people lost the “power of the purse” when the Fed was founded, had their fingers slammed in the cash register drawer trying to retain their own money by Richard Nixon’s default on US debt, and consequently our Republic was doomed with the noxious growth of democracy (tyranny of the majority – let’s define it correctly so that we might understand why the Founders were dead set against its establishment) which central banking allows by providing the funds to bribe various segments of the population to the benefit of an entrenched political class. Citizens’ support for and agreement with federal spending is no longer required since the government votes the funds, the Treasury sells the bonds through the Fed, and the debt is settled upon the unwitting population. The annual tax rake we all go half nuts delivering to the Feds does NOT fund the government, it only pays the interest on the national debt to the private cartel of banksters the Federal Reserve Act created and then permitted – in defiance of the US Constitution – the issuance of the national currency (Federal Reserve Notes, not dollars!). …

~ Anne Williamson

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