Great Minds…

Jesse Walker pens a much more thorough criticism of the U.S. war on Latin America. On the Bolivian uprising:

[I]t was a short jump from trampling the liberties of the coca growers to trampling other people’s freedoms as well, with Amnesty International condemning the use of “excessive force” against demonstrators over the last month. Like, say, shooting them. On October 12, troops fired on protesters in the city of El Alto, leaving at least five dead. In this way, the war on drugs has undermined not just peasant property rights but the rule of law.

Read more.

Swing Voters in Baghdad

This article about plans to bring troops home made me wonder: In light of all the fuss about military votes in the 2000 election being counted, and the presumption that those votes were heavily pro-Bush, is anyone in the White House worried about how homesick soldiers still deployed next year will vote? Whether the public ever sees fit to notice the occupation or not, the 100,000 or so registered voters in Iraq might be the ones who unseat Bush.

Farm Aid, Pt. 2

When not busy destroying Iraq’s orchards, the U.S. government finds time to shoot and poison Latin American farmers. Thomas Jefferson’s obsession with agrarianism may not have been pure sentimentality, after all. Having regulated and subsidized America’s small farms to death after 70 years of corporate statism, we have eviscerated the concept of property itself and our empathy for those whose property is trampled. Joseph Schumpeter:

This evaporation of what we may term the material substance of property – its visible and touchable reality – affects not only the attitude of holders but also that of the workmen and of the public in general. Dematerialized, defunctionalized and absentee ownership does not impress and call forth moral allegiance as the vital form of property did.

From Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

Fact of the Day

I am not sure the Black Flag (teenage anarchists) knows that their standard “upside down flag” has real meaning:

* United States Code (The Collected Laws of the United States)
Title 4, Chapter 1 – The Flag
Sec. 8. Respect for flag
SubSec. (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

I found this little tidbit at JPFO. Its Executive Director Aaron Zelman explains his reason for flying the stars and stripes upside down:

    One recent afternoon I was working outdoors when a stranger rode up on a motorcycle and started giving me a hard time. No, he wasn’t an outlaw biker; he was an ordinary patriotic American. But he didn’t like what he saw in my front yard.

    It was a U.S. flag. But it was flying upside-down, as it always does at the Zelman household.

    He growled that he was a Vietnam vet and that he’d fought for that flag, and he didn’t like me showing it disrespect. I answered that I was also a Vietnam vet. But I told him that he _hadn’t_ fought for the flag (which is only a symbol); he’d fought for the Bill of Rights — the document that sets America apart from lesser countries.

    And I told him that flying the flag upside-down was as great a sign of respect for my country as I could think of. After all, America is in trouble, and flying its flag upside-down is a sign of distress. The inverted flag calls out to everybody who sees: “Please help the United States. Don’t let the most promising nation on earth fall into tyranny.”