Friday, September 25, 2015

[Flash fiction] Dearborn Street

He stepped off the jet plane with an eye to looking for something more than a cheap fling. Two days later he got back on the plane with a broken heart, crushed dreams, and a desperation for getting the hell out of dodge as soon as possible.

In looking away from the woman who wouldn't, couldn't be his wife, he could only sigh with longing...  Looking past the glittering, expansive Chicago skyline, his gaze always rested on a downtown loft on Dearborn Street. He thought often of a beautiful Chinese girl with the longest, blackest hair he had ever seen. She was dimmer than a broken bulb, but she could speak fluent French with a fluidity that made the words roll and glide melodically and caused his knees to tremble.

She was a free spirit, a sexually charged rebel whose very existence was a bitter protest against monotony and boredom. Deep inside her soul was a firecracker burning brightly in a sea of urban despair. She was beautiful in every sense of the word, inside and out, and she gracefully lit up the world around her. All the magic in the universe could be witnessed in her carefree laughter.

He found himself falling for her, fast and incredibly, mercilessly hard. Oh, but how she hated him! She hated him with a passion, and the fury with which she hated him only made his foolish heart love her even more.

The best he could hope for was to make her hate him even more, for he'd sooner be loathed with intensity than to never pass through the mysterious passageways of her mind.

He was thousands of miles away now, but he kept an old postcard of Chicago's gleaming spires bathing in the endless sunset. He pulled it out whenever he wished to let his waking dreams wander back to a beautiful Chinese girl on Dearborn Street.

# # #

Chicago skyline painting nt Stephen F. Condren.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Insurgency: A STAR WARS Fan Fiction

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...


* * *

They marched the captive stormtrooper into view of the holocam, clad in full armor except for gloves and forearm plates. His hands were bound together behind his back. His helmet was cracked across the brow and visor, eliminating its ability to send or receive transmissions, especially GPS distress beacons.

Zero walked into view and removed the helmet, betraying the frail humanity beneath the expressionless mask that had become a symbol of fear and repression across the galaxy.

"Name," Zero demanded.

The stormtrooper's fear was visible in his wide eyes. "Zax Shumack." The trooper did his best to retain some composure.

"Serial number."



"Imperial Center."

"Excuse me?" Zero barked.

"C-Coruscant," the prisoner stammered.

Zero knew then that some part of the prisoner still clung to hope for his life. Zero almost pitied him, until the memory of his dead wife strengthened his resolve and his hatred for the Empire. "What is your unit?"

The prisoner shut his eyes, knowing that repeating the information already given up during several beatings somehow wouldn't help his case.
Zero raised his voice to a near boom. "What is your unit?!"

"S-Second Brigade, F-F-Five Oh First."

"Ah," Zero half intoned and half breathed, "the infamous Vader's Fist. We can see how mighty Vader's Fist really is," he bragged to the holocam. "Tell us why you came to this world."

"T-To apprehend and eliminate dissidents."

"To kill them, you mean."

"Or arrest them," the trooper shot back.

"And what happens to these lucky suspects who merely get arrested?"

"Th-They get taken in for interrogation by the Ministry of Security, or Imperial Intelligence."

"And then what?" Zero patiently asked, eagerly awaiting valuable ammunition for his anti-Imperial propaganda.

"I don't know."

Zero grabbed the trooper by the hair and kneed the side of his face. The sound of the prisoner's cheekbone cracking was audible enough to be picked up in the recording.  "You don't know?! You mean to tell me that a member of Imperial Special Forces, with access to more Intel than 99% of the galaxy, doesn't know?! Don't play stupid with me, you criffing Imperial jackbooted bastard!"

"They get executed!" the prisoner yelped as he failed to hold back his emotions. Fearful tears began leaking from his eyes and pouring down his face as the Imperial stormtrooper broke down.

"They get executed," Zero reaffirmed, nodding grimly. "What about the civilians that run from your kind? What happens when they resist unconstitutional arrest?"

"We-- We're ordered to open fire on them. Ordered, I'm telling you. We don't have a choice!"

"You don't have a choice?!" Zero's anger was quickly turning into cold annoyance. "You're not a clone. You weren't bred for war like Palpatine's flesh robots. Nobody put a blaster to your head and forced you to enlist in a postwar army. You had a choice, trooper. Unfortunately for you, you picked the wrong side."

Zero released the captive stormtrooper from his grip and stepped out of the holocam's view for a brief moment. He returned into view holding a vibroblade. Zero ignited the blade and a purple glow drowned out the silver of the metal as the blade came to life, its electronic hum echoing the captive stormtrooper's swan song.

"Now," Zero continued, "every Imperial trooper and recruit will see how free men respond to any government thug who shoots down civilians!" Zero grabbed the trooper by the hair and held the vibroblade up to the trooper's throat. The captive begged Zero, 'No no no!' but his fate was sealed. He choked and gurgled as the insurgent leader sawed back and forth, causing the prisoner sharp bolts of anguish until the rapid blood loss made everything go dark.

In less than a minute, Zero was holding in his hand the stormtrooper's severed head. "As you can see, the Emperor's finest troops are not invincible." He threw the head down and watched it roll before he stepped close enough to the holocam to fill the screen with his face. Fire burned in his eyes. "You're next, Palpatine. If the Jedi could be killed, so can you. Don't think you're safe, you monster!"

The holocam went dark with the end of the recording.

Star Wars: Insurgency

A rebel army forms to challenge the Emperor

Vader's Fist will show no mercy

A student of the Force will turn to the Dark Side to defeat the Empire

Do you like what you read? Do you want to read more?  Comment below or email me at

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Star Wars is the property of Disney and Lucasfilm.  This story is a fan fiction and has not been approved by Lucasfilm Story Group.  All images used were obtained from Wookieepedia (

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Iran-Contra Scandal

Originally published by Voices of Liberty

Back in the 1980’s, it was revealed to the public that the CIA under the Reagan administration had been selling weapons to the revolutionary Iranian government. The hopes were that the weapons sales would put the radical Islamic regime in a better disposition toward freeing the American hostages. Better yet, the funds generated from those arms sales funded the Contra rebels in their war against the communist regime in Nicaragua.

Judicial Watch published more of their hard-won documents regarding Hillary Clinton’s private Watergate scandal and 18 minutes of missing tape—excuse me, change that to 32,000 missing emails. It turns out the presidential candidate and self-appointed champion of peace and international cooperation has her own Iran-Contra scandal. It turns out that Libya was a stopping point for running guns to Syria!

When being grilled by the Senate for a massive leadership failure resulting in consulate guards and staff being killed, Clinton was asked over and over again to clarify whether it was a protest-turned-mob or an act of terrorism. Her response is infamous: “What does it matter?” Well, Secretary Clinton, what matters is that this is far from the first time lax security has gotten American diplomatic workers killed.

Instead of using U.S. Marines for their historical job of guarding embassies, or even using State Department Diplomatic Security guards, the State Department under Hillary Clinton outsourced consulate security to Libyan locals. It’s a shame that a former Senator who voted to invade Iraq in 2003 never read the 2006 Iraq Study Group Report, a U.S. government investigation that discussed terrorist infiltration of local security forces being a rampant problem in a war zone. “However, because of Libyan political sensitivities,” there were no armed Americans protecting their consulate in a war zone.

Free Syrian Army volunteers
The State Department made it seem like the U.S. government was wholly respecting the sovereignty of the new Libyan government, which issued restrictions on foreigners with guns. It’s astounding that the U.S. government would run guns from Benghazi, Libya, to rebel groups in Banian and Borj Islam, Syria, but it won’t take proper measures to protect its civilian workers in the same city. Apparently Obama’s government is all for spreading wars and raising war profits, but they won’t protect American diplomats in a war zone because of “political sensitivities.”

The documents from Judicial Watch show that Hillary Clinton was given hard intelligence within hours of the Benghazi attack. A memo from the Defense Intelligence Agency, prepared for State Secretary Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the White House National Security Council, and the Joint Chiefs, clearly stated that “the attack was planned 10 or more days prior on approximately 01 September 2012. The intention was to attack the consulate and to kill as many Americans as possible to seek revenge for U.S. killing of Aboyahiye Al-Libi in Pakistan…”

This memo was prepared and delivered to its recipients within hours of the attack. Repeat: Hillary Clinton knew within hours that it was a pre-planned terrorist attack. Yet for weeks she would not contradict the White House’s line that it was a protest and eventually a “single act of terror,” but that the attack by a jihadist militia in a war zone was not “terrorism.” More intelligence followed, confirming the initial memo.

In a September 13 statement on the attack, Clinton did what any good spokesman should do: strongly condemn the attack. However, she made a specific mention of the scapegoated internet cartoon video to subtly lay on it the blame for the terrorist attack. That silly video was used by the administration, Clinton included, over and over as an explanation for the “spontaneous protest” in Benghazi.

Journalist Glen Greenwald made waves when he published some of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA and government surveillance of citizens under the auspices of wartime security. In a recent Q&A session, the topic moved to Candidate Clinton, terrorism, and surveillance. Says Greenwald, “Hillary Clinton is the ultimate guardian of bipartisan status quo corruption.”

It seems as if Clinton thinks We the People are too stupid to put two and two together. She would have us believe that radical Islamic terrorists murdered American diplomats over a silly cartoon. She would have us believe that it had nothing to do with avenging a fallen jihadist commander, or the weapons being transported from Libya to Syria, or the American paramilitary black ops being run in Libya.

If it turns out that Clinton also knew about the weapons being smuggled from Benghazi to Syria by U.S. agents, she’ll have a major problem on her hands. It could even be today’s Iran-Contra Scandal, which would be even more embarrassing, as it implicates the administration of a man who was elected on promises of peace and a humble foreign policy. For more Clintonian deceit and corruption, America will have to wait and see what Judicial Watch will publish next.

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Hillary Clinton images courtesy of Voices of Liberty.  FSA image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

'Tangerines' anti-war movie review

I had the opportunity to catch a screening of a well-reviewed foreign film, Tangerines (2015).  Tangerines tells the story of an Estonian farmer, Ivo, in wartime Abkhazia (northwest Georgia, between Russia and Turkey).  Ivo doesn’t care about the war or to take sides; all he wants is to harvest his crop of tangerines and be left alone.

The remote mountain village Ivo shares with his business partner, Margus, is exquisitely beautiful.   It could be the scene on the back of a postcard.  The village is also a ghost town, as the inhabitants fled in the early days of the war.  To Ivo’s horror, the war comes to his doorstep only days before the tangerines are to be harvested!

After a loud firefight rages past the village, Ivo and Margus check the battlefield for survivors.  There are two:  a Chechen (pro-Russian) mercenary and a Georgian soldier.  Both are badly wounded and require medical care, and both are taken to Ivo’s house where they begin their recuperation.   Ivo and Margus must then find a way to keep the two warfighters from killing each other while they heal.  They must also hide one or the other from enemy troops, depending on what nation’s army or militia passes through the contested area.  As if they didn’t have enough problems, they still need to find a way to harvest an entire crop of ripe tangerines!

This movie is delightful and thought-provoking in a variety of ways.  For starters, there’s not a whole lot of war violence in this movie.  The violence and the impact of the war are mostly implied, so this film is heavily performance-based.  I like the lead actor’s performance as Ivo; he’s a stern grandfather who imposes his authority in his own house, but will also surprise people with a subtle-yet-irreverent joke.  Ivo comes across as James Stewart in Shenandoah, but with a touch of Denis Leary in The Ref.

Next are Ahmed, the Chechen mercenary, and Niko, the Georgian soldier.  Ahmed is an extroverted, often loud-mouthed warrior who often vocalizes his intent to kill Niko.  Niko, an introverted intellectual, cites Ahmed’s ignorance and invites him to follow up on his threats.  Both characters grow as the plot unfolds.

For added context to the film, the story takes place during the Abkhaz War of 1992-93.  There were a series of small wars across Eastern Europe and Northwest Asia once the Soviet Union disintegrated.  Apart from countries seceding from the nonexistent Soviet Union, other nations and “autonomous” republics within former Soviet republics also tried to secede.  Abkhazia today is a de facto independent state and partly occupied by Russia, though it’s internationally recognized as a part of Georgia.

Another element of truth is that the film presents the intermingling of ethnic groups.  Aslan is a white, blue-eyed Chechen Muslim whereas his comrades have Middle Eastern features.  Other Europeans are seen with mixed features as well.  The absurdity of the ethnic cleansing that happened in this war is reflected in the film when, more than once, different soldiers and militiamen from various nations’ troops have to ask what someone’s ethnic background is.  The jackbooted thugs asking can’t tell, because most characters in the film look the same and speak the same language, despite being ethnically different.

Abkhazian war veterans and their families march in a parade.
One sad irony that most American viewers won’t pick up lies in Ahmed’s political loyalties.  Abkhazia’s war of independence was turned into a proxy war for Russia, one of several in the 1990s by which the Russian government hoped to weaken its newly independent constituent republics.  Though a mercenary, Aslan is aligned with Russia and believes in Abkhazia’s right to secede from Georgia.

However, Ahmed is also a devout Muslim, like most Chechen people.  But like most Russian mercenaries in the 1990s, he is probably a veteran of the Soviet Army.  The year following the end of the Abkhaz War, 1994, was the start of Chechnya’s wars of independence.  Chechens heavily rallied around Islam and their war against the Russian government became a holy war.  This leaves the viewer to wonder, should Ahmed survive the Abkhaz War, which side would he choose in 1994: Russia or Chechnya?

I truly appreciated the libertarian message entrenched in the movie.  Apart from the obvious theme that uses war to appeal to the viewer’s humanity, the film also stresses peace and commerce.  Throughout the movie, both Ivo and Margus lament the war and how it’s taken all the men away from productive work, like harvesting their tangerines for an daily wage.  Ivo and Margus repeatedly try to recruit militiamen from any side to work as day laborers in the orchard.  Their focus on peace, unhampered commerce, and ignoring nationality to increase economic cooperation, is a vivid reflection of the pillars of Austrian economics.

Tangerines is a movie that gets it right.  It's also a valuable tool for libertarians to touch minds in eastern Europe.

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Tangerines movie poster courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and used according to Fair Use. Abkhazian parade picture by 'Apsuwara' and used via CC BY-SA 3.0 license, and was obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Waka Flocka Flame for President!

Originally published by Voices of Liberty

Most of the people reading this will vote for Rand Paul or Gary Johnson in the upcoming Presidential election. However, there’s one candidate that everyone should be paying attention to: Atlanta-based rapper Juaquin James Malphurs, better known by his stage name, Waka Flocka Flame. Pundits are already having a good laugh, but here is what those spineless, arrogant fools are missing: this is a very important candidacy coming to the public at a crucial time.

Yes, it’s true that there’s no way Waka Flocka will make it to the White House in 2016; he’s still 28 years old, or seven years younger than the Constitutional age requirement to be President of the United States. But not everyone runs to get elected. Waka Flocka’s video announcement on Rolling Stone Magazine’s YouTube channel, made on “4/20, the best day of the year,” makes the rapper’s number one issue clear.

Waka Flocka has said over and over that he’ll legalize marijuana on Day 1 in the White House. Foreign Policy’s Benjamin Soloway remarked that this is a “goes-without-saying plan.” But from a libertarian perspective, the simplicity of the issue really does go without saying. There are over 11,000 Executive Orders on the books, most of them dictatorial in some way or another, that are still enforced as law.

All that it would take to bring on the beginning of the end of the War on Drugs would be for one Executive Order with one sentence: Marijuana is legal in the United States. If the next President actually gave a damn about constitutional procedure and didn’t want to bypass Congress, he could still put out a one-sentence Executive Order on Day 1 in office: Possession and distribution of marijuana will not be prosecuted by the government of the United States.

I have much respect for Waka Flocka Flame as he tours the country and brings awareness to the marijuana issue and the only clear solution to America’s current drug problem: legalize it. America tried Prohibition already, and it didn’t work. Prohibition has only grown the prison industrial complex, devastated the black community out of proportion with other ethnic groups, and fueled the flames of civil wars across Latin America, especially Mexico and Colombia.

Candidates who are simply running as agents of change have a power to truly change the national dialogue; just take a look at how much more libertarian the dialogue is leaning after Ron Paul’s candidacy than before 2012.

Waka Flocka has also mentioned to the press how he sees himself as an Independent—as do many libertarians and aspiring libertarians—but days after declaring his candidacy, he unofficially endorsed Hillary Clinton. Part of this may be because of her [current, subject to change] support for state-level marijuana legalization. However, this endorsement came with a condition: that Hillary advertise for his new album, Fleckavelli 2. She has not done so, and her failure to return Waka Flocka’s endorsement perhaps voided it. The rapper also later claimed to view Hillary Clinton as his only competition.

Though he at one time endorsed Hillary, his classifying Clinton as the opposition is right on the money. Clinton’s marijuana stance is dangerous to liberty and to the legal cannabis industry. State-level legalization does nothing to end the federal War on Drugs. This has been the case in California, especially San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties, as the DEA under the Obama administration has shut down more state-law-abiding dispensaries than under George Bush.

If Waka Flocka is as dedicated to marijuana rights as he says—and I believe he is—he should be supporting the Republican frontrunner, Rand Paul. The libertarian-leaning conservative truly believes in “Don’t tread on me,” and is already on board with ending the War on Drugs which treads on millions of people. Rand Paul is the only current (of-age) candidate that’s been calling to end the drug war for years, and he has a voting record in the Senate to prove it.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has supported the drug war since at least the 1990s. Even after President Obama was reelected—after breaking his promises to dial down the War on Drugs—Hillary Clinton said to Politico that “legalization is not the answer to the drug war.” Her sudden back-peddling to status quo of legalizing marijuana at state levels—something beyond the President’s control, anyway—truly gives me the sense that Hillary Clinton is just another flip-flopping politician who will lie when it’s convenient.

Unfortunately for this self-appointed dictator, neither Waka Flocka Flame nor Rand Paul give a damn about her changing positions on the War on Drugs. They both understand that to partake, or not to partake, is the individual’s choice and a natural right that no law or dictator can change.

In the meantime, I look forward to watching Waka Flocka’s candidacy. I think he’ll do good work bringing to light the suffering that the War on Drugs has caused Americans, especially inner city communities that are disproportionately affected. He’s already highlighting the simplicity of the solution: legalization! Better yet, once Waka Flocka realizes his views on drugs are aligned with Rand Paul’s, he might even endorse the good doctor!

So far, this 28 year old rapper from Atlanta is doing a great job getting millions of apolitical fans to pay attention to a key issue. Of the top three parties running candidates for next November, the frontrunners are currently Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, and Gary Johnson. At the moment, both Rand Paul and Gary Johnson are for ending the drug war. Only Clinton is for continuing the oppression. But hey, I still count our lucky stars to know that 2 out of 3 mainstream candidates are pro-liberty!

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First Waka Flocka Flame image courtesy of Voices of Liberty.  Second Waka Flocka image courtesy of Adam Bielawski via CC BY-SA 3.0 license and obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hillary Clinton - So Transparent, She Won't Talk to the Media

Originally published by Voices of Liberty

Sometimes candidates want to keep their cards close to their chest while they wear a poker face. They do this when they have strategies they don’t want to give out to the public. They especially don’t want their game plan leaked to competitors. Then there’s the self-appointed champion of transparency, Hillary Clinton, who’s not talking to reporters AT ALL.

National Journal and NPR reported that, since launching her presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has answered a whopping 13 questions from reporters. The fact that some of these are softball questions is obvious.

Q: “How are you liking Iowa?”
A: “I’m having a great time.”

This is one question that Hillary chose to answer directly, as opposed to questions she’s deflected or dodged altogether.

ABC News’s Cecilia Vega asked Hillary a real question: “Did foreign entities receive any special treatment for making any kind of donations to the foundation or your husband?”

Clinton’s response: “Well, we’re back into the political season and therefore we will be subjected to all kinds of distraction and attacks. And I’m ready for that…”


How is that question a distraction, anyway? The American people have a right to know that a potential President hasn’t been using the power of federal office to sell political favors. It’s a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Perhaps I’ve been a Boy Scout way too long, but any answer other than “Hell no!” is unacceptable for someone who wishes to hold the highest office in the land.

Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill calls this the “ramp-up period” of Hillary’s campaign. In this ramp-up phase, Hillary will completely avoid talking to the media and instead she’ll be “engaging in hours of public question and answers sessions,” which are not public but actually closed-door events. NPR’s Tamara Keith has been following the Clinton campaign and attended one of these Q&A sessions with “the public.” Says Keith, “All we saw was the back of her head as she walked out of the room, to applause from a small hand-selected group of participants and observers.”

At another occasion in Iowa, Cecilia Vega asked Clinton a vital question: “What would you say to Americans who want to know why you are running?” The deep, thoughtful response was this: “I’m running to be the champion to Americans and their families, so that we cannot just worry about treading water, but you can get ahead and you can stay ahead.” (It sounds as if Hillary has been borrowing from the Barack Obama campaign play book of empty slogans.)

If someone were to ask Rand Paul why he was running, he would give specific policy goals and milestones like “I want to audit the Federal Reserve, I want to abolish the TSA and the NSA so the government stops spying on American citizens, I want to end America’s drug war which is killing the black community…” The list goes on. Hillary, on the other hand, will be “the champion” so you can “get ahead” and “stay ahead.”

All these forehead-smacking pearls of wisdom have been brought to you by Hillary Clinton, self-appointed “champion of Americans and their families.” She also holds the reigning (self-awarded) title of champion of transparency. As we can see from her conduct in Iowa (and the federal investigation on her 18 minutes of missing tape—err, make that 32,000 missing emails and a server)—she is so transparent, she won’t talk to the media and keep everyday Americans informed.

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First Hillary Clinton image courtesy of Voices of Liberty.  Second Hillary Clinton image courtesy of Voice of America and in the public domain.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hillary Clinton - Transparent Like a Brick Wall

Originally published by Voices of Liberty

[On May 10,] the Washington Post reported that a federal judge re-opened a case to go after some of Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. Reggie B. Walton, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia, agreed to a 2012 request for records. This request was filed jointly by the State Department and Judicial Watch.

Judge Walton has an impressive, balanced record of political neutrality. Though appointed by George W. Bush, the Judge didn’t spare the Bush Administration from justice. He even presided over the trial of Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby. Now the Judge is helping Judicial Watch go after Hillary Clinton.

According to Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton, “It’s a significant development. It points to the fraud by this administration and Mrs. Clinton.” South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy said, “The State Department… cannot certify that it has turned over all documents responsive to the committee’s request regarding the former secretary’s emails.” Congressman Gowdy is still investigating other missing emails regarding Clinton’s colossal leadership failure which got U.S. diplomats killed in Libya.

In a nutshell, the great Clinton email scandal of 2015 is that Hillary, while serving as Secretary of State, knowingly used her private email account and private server to send and receive emails regarding official U.S. government business. Using her private account instead of her .gov account kept her untouchable by open-source and Freedom-of-Information-Act requests. This is simply another case of crooked career politicians acting like the Wizard of Oz, telling We the People to ignore the man behind the curtain.

The great irony is that Hillary Clinton has been campaigning and calling for more transparency. She seems to believe that We the People are too stupid to fact check her words against her actions. She said last month in Iowa, “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all.”

This call to get rid of “unaccountable money” comes from the person whose Foundation received millions from foreign governments while they were trying to lobby the State Department during her tenure. The pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA, continues to receive millions in “unaccountable money” to promote Clinton and tear other candidates down.

Now, while gallivanting around the country and blowing smoke of “transparency” in people’s ears, the self-appointed champion of transparency continues to hide her activities. She made a show of turning over 30,000 private emails to the federal investigation, but also deleted 32,000 other emails and wiped the server clean. She refuses to turn over the server for analysis.

Let readers consider this: After the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon was taken to federal court over 18 minutes of erased audio tape. Today, a current presidential candidate refuses to allow federal investigators to find 32,000 emails from an account used for official government business. That’s all that We the People need to know. The self-appointed champion of transparency is really as transparent as a brick wall.

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Both Hillary Clinton images courtesy of Voices of Liberty.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

American Stalin — ‘Joe Steele’ book review

I’ve been a fan of Harry Turtledove’s writing ever since I picked up a copy of Great War: American Front back in 2009. Turtledove has the ability to weave the stories of numerous ordinary people together to make one large patchwork fabric of an impressive, epic tale.  Such is the case with his 2015 novel, Joe Steele.

Joe Steele is based on a short story of the same name written in 2003, and expanded in 2014 to be a long, standalone novel.  In this novel, the man who would become Stalin is an American, a Democrat congressman from California rather than a Georgian-born Communist Party bureaucrat in Russia.  Born and raised among farm laborers in Fresno, Joe Steele is a dedicated socialist and is militantly pro-labor.

The story follows the Sullivan Brothers, reporters both, over a twenty year period.  One will unwillingly become a propagandist for the regime while the other is deported to a labor camp and must later fight on the front lines to atone for his political crimes.  Our story begins at the height of the Great Depression.

When the nominating process at the 1932 Democratic National Convention comes to complete gridlock between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joe Steele, no one knows who will challenge Herbert Hoover for the Presidency.  The sudden death of FDR in a house fire leaves Joe Steele the uncontested nominee and the eventual landslide victor over Hoover.

President Steele immediately begins a series of economic reforms under the first Four Year Plan—an allusion to Stalin’s Five Year Plan but tailored to the President’s term in office—with makes FDR’s New Deal look like a children’s game.  The federal government begins confiscating property under eminent domain for large-scale collective farming.  The Supreme Court justices who rule the new policies unconstitutional suddenly find themselves in front of a military tribunal for a show trial, and promptly sentenced to death by firing squad.  Joe Steele then moves on to purge the military establishment and key political opposition (as well as purging loyal followers who pose a future potential threat to the regime).

J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover also plays a prominent role in the novel.  Joe Steele’s second term is when the Government Bureau of Investigation—an alternate-history play on the FBI but resembling Stalin’s NKVD and later KGB—sets up a system of labor camps in North Dakota, Colorado, and New Mexico where political prisoners work themselves to death for “political reform.”  These are an obvious take on the true-history Gulag concentration camps in the Soviet Union.

This novel shows America slogging through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War much the way it did in true-history, but with the frightening tones of an endless Executive dictatorship, one-party rule, and a police state.  It’s frightening to watch Norman Rockwell’s America descend into a totalitarian state.  While certain true-history events are changed—for instance, a ‘Japanese War’ kicking off the Cold War instead of the Korean War, or Albert Einstein refusing to design an atom bomb for Joe Steele—much of the novel is grounded in truth.

For starters, Turtledove proves his expertise in the field of U.S. history by using real case law from the Civil War that allows the federal government to try civilians by military tribunal rather than by jury trial.  And while Americans may sleep well today believing themselves safe from labor camps, current federal documents tell a different story.

President Obama signed a series of Executive Orders that essentially allow the federal government to create an America similar to the version in Joe Steele.  Free speech is nothing but a privilege as long as Executive Order 10995 remains in effect, allowing the government to seize and control all communication media.  Natural resources and utility companies aren’t safe from seizure while Order 10997 gives the government carte blanche over all electrical power, gas petroleum, fuels, and minerals.

A maximum security FEMA camp in Wyoming
Collective farms are made possible by Order 10999, giving the government authority to take over all farms and food sources.  Order 11004 gives the Housing and Finance Authority the power to relocate communities, build new housing, and transit large populations.

Even worse, labor camps are also made possible by President Obama’s Executive Orders.  Order 11002 allows the Postmaster General to watch the entire population by operating a national registration of all persons.  Order 11000 allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision in times of war or peace.

After reading what the federal government currently has the power to do, does Joe Steele still look like pure fiction?  This novel is highly recommended to any students of American and Soviet history, as well as anyone who values liberty.

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Joe Steele cover art courtesy of Turtledove Wiki. J. Edgar Hoover picture courtesy of The Guardian.  FEMA camp image courtesy of Popular Mechanics.  These images used according to Fair Use.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

2 out of 3 are Liberty Candidates!

This article makes the assumption that Rand Paul will remain the frontrunner in the presidential race and be the Republican Party’s nominee on the November 2016 ballot.  No other Republican candidate will be good enough for a stalwart libertarian like me.

2016 will be a much better election year for the liberty movement than 2012.  Back then, Ron Paul had to claw and scrape his way to getting two minutes of speaking time out of two-hour-long debates.  Moderators and major networks never took him seriously, except for the times they’d briefly mention him to drive home how ‘crazy’ he was, or to remind themselves that he was ‘unelectable’.  Worst of all, the libertarian ideas Ron advocated were deeply misunderstood. 2012 wasn’t our year.

This time, our libertarian ideas actually have a shot at being heard and accepted.  Rand Paul is being taken much more seriously than Ron was.  This is due in no small part to Ron blitzing America like a kamikaze in 2012, with ideas like “end the Fed,” end foreign aid, and “legalize drugs”.  Because Ron took the full blast of heat in 2012, America in 2016 can find it more palatable when Rand pushes ideas like “let’s fully audit the Fed,” we can start cutting aid to this list of countries, and “let’s end the War on Drugs, which is really a war on the black community.”

To make a long story short, Rand Paul’s candidacy excites me.  Sure, he isn’t a pure libertarian like his father, but making that constant comparison is getting silly.  ‘Conservatarian’ Rand Paul will take mainstream America MUCH closer to libertarianism than Hillary Clinton, that’s for damn sure!

I’m also excited that Gary Johnson will be running for president again on the Libertarian Party ticket.  Though I’ve long-since agreed to actually cast my general election vote for Rand, I can see the importance of Gary’s candidacy.  Many in the liberty movement are concerned that Gary running against Rand will ‘divide’ the libertarian vote in America.

I disagree.

If there exists any 'division' within the liberty movement, it runs along these lines:

  1. Most libertarians will ultimately swallow their pride and support Rand. They realize that, despite his ‘impurities’ he’s worlds above the other rabble playing the Ronald Reagan name card.
  2. Libertarian Party members will vote for Gary Johnson because the Party needs to run candidates in order to function as a Party and not as a weekly tea social.  For some of these folks, Rand might not be ‘good enough’.  They have every right then to run a candidate that better represents them.
  3.  Libertarians and libertarian sympathizers who don’t much care for either Rand or Gary will stay home and find creative life hacks that defy government regulations.  Their focus is on advancing liberty through action, not politics.

Judge Napolitano recently said, "I want Rand to win."
Frankly, the liberty movement needs all three groups of people.  We NEED Rand, we NEED Gary, and we even NEED a liberty-advancing alternative for those who are sick of politics.  In the long-run, people are already aligned for what they’ll do or who they’ll support in 2016.  Because libertarians are notorious for sticking to their principles, there'll simply be no arguing with these three groups.

I’m still incredibly excited just to know that I could be seeing Rand Paul and Gary Johnson both on the general election ballot.  Though the Libertarian Party is a smaller party, it’s still the third largest party in the United States.  This means that, of the three biggest American political parties on the November ballot, two out of three candidates will be liberty candidates.

I say again, two out of three general election candidates will be representing libertarian ideas and policy objectives.

Only the Democrat candidate, probably Darth Hillary, will be the candidate representing corruption, government surveillance, and corporate fascism.  The other two candidates will starkly contrast; their platforms will differ from tyranny and instead offer a mostly-libertarian option (Rand) and a super-libertarian option (Gary).

Absolutely nothing about the 2012 election looked like this, and I count all of our lucky stars that years of hard work and activism are finally starting to pay off.  I can only imagine one day in the future when libertarian ideas will have so deeply infiltrated politics, that all three parties’ candidates will be different shades of libertarian.

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Images courtesy of

Friday, May 1, 2015

Hillary Clinton: Champion of Wall Street

Originally published in April 2015 by Voices of Liberty

A month ago the Washington Post disclosed a juicy tidbit of information: the Algerian government made a contribution of half a million dollars to the Clinton Foundation.  This just happened to be at the exact time the Algerian government was lobbying Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State.

Other than the eyebrows it raises at first, this might not seem so scandalous if it weren’t for the fact that Americans get punished for the same thing.  In 2011 and 2012, multiple American companies were charged and heavily penalized under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  The corruption they were penalized for was making donations to foreign charities.

The Obama administration acted on the assumption that charitable donations abroad were meant to influence civil servants to take a more favorable stand towards the American businesses.  Therefore, American businesses get charges and heavy fines levied against them, but it’s alright when the beneficiary of foreign corrupt practices is a sitting member of the Cabinet.  And this isn’t the first foreign charitable gift the Clinton Foundation received during Hillary’s Cabinet tenure.

“The U.A.E. gave us money,” Bill Clinton said to the Miami Herald.  “Do we agree with everything they do?  No, but they help us fight ISIS.”  It looks like the former President would have us believe foreign corrupt practices are okay if foreign governments are helping America prolong the Iraq War…

One thing is crystal clear: when vying for Hillary Clinton’s loyalty, money talks.

Her top political contributors have historically included, and still include, big Wall Street firms like Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, and Time Warner.  These numbers don’t include any foreign or domestic groups that donated to the Clinton Foundation to sway the Secretary of State.

As a Senator, in her statement on the 2008 bailouts, she noted “the prevailing dynamic of corporate America, where the sole priority was the dividend, the inflated bonus and the quarterly earnings report…”  She clearly had words to say about “corporate America,” yet one can’t help but think this may have just been political theater.

Senator Clinton’s pro-working-class, pro-middle-class approach would have been a lot more credible had her top campaign contributors been anyone OTHER than corporate America.  And guess what!  She voted for what the WSWS calls “the largest single transfer of wealth to the financial elite in US history,” and it was financed on the dime of struggling families.

Hillary Clinton talks a good game about being for the interests of the working class and middle class, but that’s just another li from another politician.  Hillary may certainly believe in empowering women, the LGBTQ community, and ethnic minorities.  However, her actions show how she just wants some of those people to be among the ruling elites.

Hillary Clinton is with Wall Street, not Main Street.

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Hillary Clinton photo courtesy of the Munich Security Conference via CC BY 3.0 license.