A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

It’s the End of the Internet, or Something

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The Federal Communications Commission Fascist Communications Club (FCC) announced its plan to revoke Title II status from Internet Service Providers (ISP) and to preempt state laws that would enforce net neutrality:

In addition to ditching its own net neutrality rules, the Federal Communications Commission also plans to tell state and local governments that they cannot impose local laws regulating broadband service.

[…]

It isn’t clear yet exactly how extensive the preemption will be. Preemption would clearly prevent states from imposing net neutrality laws similar to the ones being repealed by the FCC, but it could also prevent state laws related to the privacy of Internet users or other consumer protections. Pai’s staff said that states and other localities do not have jurisdiction over broadband because it is an interstate service and that it would subvert federal policy for states and localities to impose their own rules.

Predictably a large percentage of the Internet is in full on panic mode. Supposedly this is the end of the Internet and the only way to stop it is to call the FCC and your congress critters to demand that they, for the first time ever, listen to the will of “the people” (quotations used because “the people” doesn’t exist and therefore cannot be listened to).

Let’s take a step back, calm the fuck down, and actually think about this situation. First and foremost, the Internet was thriving before ISPs were granted Title II status. There’s no reason to think that everything is going to turn to shit if that status is revoked. So take a deep breath and relax.

Now let’s consider the situation as a whole. Everybody panicking about this seems to be recommending the same thing, contact the FCC and your congress critters and demand that they stop this. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Neither the FCC or your congress critters give a shit about what you think. You’re a pleb. You can’t afford to buy these people. “Oh,” I can hear one of you saying, “I’ll threaten to vote them out of office during the next election!” Here’s the thing with threats, they only work if the person your threatening can be convinced that you have the power to follow through. Your vote doesn’t matter and your congress critters know that. Moreover, the head of the FCC is appointed, you don’t get to vote for them. And by the time the next election rolls around the damage will have been done anyways.

The real problem isn’t that the FCC is planning to take away Title II status and preempt state laws enforcing net neutrality, it’s that the FCC has power. Why should a single agency have the power to regulate the entire United States Internet? Why should the word of a single man decide whether net neutrality is mandatory or illegal? Take away the FCC’s power and suddenly it can’t decide what rules the entire damned country has to play by. If you want to do something, work to take away the FCC’s power. Whether you want to waste your time with a political solution or a real solution like replicating the work of the people who built the Guifi.net mesh network in Catalonia is up to you. But nobody has ever won a war by fighting the same battle over and over again. This battle between “the people” and the FCC has already been waged several times and will continue to be waged forever if a change in strategy isn’t made.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 22nd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Watching the Dominoes Fall

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The resent glut of sexual assault and harassment reports has been both sad and fascinating to watch. On the one hand it’s sad to see just how many influential individuals have a record of sexual assault and harassment. On the other hand it’s fascinating to watch the accused fall like houses of cards.

Two of Minnesota’s lawmakers, one from the red team and the other from the blue team, announced that they’re resigning their positions due to sexual harassment allegations against them:

A pair of Minnesota state lawmakers — one a DFL senator, the other a Republican representative — announced Tuesday that they will resign from office in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

Word of the resignations of Sen. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish came within two hours of each other, capping a stunning sequence of events that vividly demonstrated a new awareness of what many insiders say has been a long-standing tolerance of mistreatment of women working at Minnesota’s Capitol. Both men had been under pressure from leaders of their parties to resign.

I know very little about Schoen but I’m familiar with Cornish because he has played a major role in both gun rights and criminal law. While he was fairly reliable from the position of gun rights, he was an absolute bastard when it came to criminal law. As an ex-cop he was never shy about his absolute obedience to the blue line. He fought every piece of legislation that attempted to hold Minnesota’s law enforcers accountable. Moreover, he seemed gleeful about every piece of legislation that would make the lives of people found guilty of crimes, even the most petty of crimes, more miserable. Seeing this hardcore law and order politician fall from grace because he violated the law is karma in action.

Hopefully somebody will manage to convince Franken, Minnesota’s other grabby politician, to resign.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 22nd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Something to Look Forward To

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Here’s something to look forward to:

Nov 8 (Reuters) – The Minnesota Senate will furlough its workers and suspend operations as soon as Dec. 1 due to an ongoing funding dispute with Governor Mark Dayton, the chamber’s Republican leader announced on Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said his chamber will run out of money by next month unless the state courts restore funding for the legislature that was vetoed by Dayton. He added that the Senate plans to seek certain funds from the Legislative Coordinating Committee which would keep the chamber operating through Jan. 12.

My only hope is that this suspension of operations ends up being permanent. But that’s a bit too optimistic.

I’m sure this news is being treated with a significant amount of gloom and doom by statists. They probably believe that Minnesotans will end up having to resort to cannibalism because all of the food will magically disappear along with the Senate. But we’ve all been through this before. The Minnesota government has a tradition of “shutting down” various parts of itself and so far the state hasn’t collapsed. In fact it’s usually hard to tell anything is amiss.

The Minnesota Senate suspending operations won’t cause anybody any harm. It will actually reduce harm since the senators won’t be passing new legislation. So kick back, relax, and enjoy a reprieve from the vultures.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 9th, 2017 at 11:00 am

A Joke for Election Day

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I’ve got a good joke for you on this election day.

Your vote matters.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 7th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics

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The Job of a Politician Is to Whine about Productive People Not Being Productive Enough

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The government of China recently attempted to bolster the Great Firewall of China by prohibiting virtual private network (VPN) software. This prohibition caused Apple to remove VPN clients from its App Store in China. Now two senators want to know why Apple didn’t do more to thwart this move by China:

Apple CEO Tim Cook wasn’t pleased about pulling VPN software from the company’s App Store in China, but this July, it happened anyway. As a result, many users who once counted on such software to dodge the country’s Great Firewall were left to their own devices (and we’ve explored the situation at length here). Now, senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have called on Cook in a letter to explain in detail how that process went down, out of concern that Apple is “enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the internet.”

The letter (which can be read in full here) poses 10 questions to the Apple CEO. It asks (among other things) whether Apple formally commented on the Chinese government’s Cybersecurity Law when it was presented as a first draft, whether Chinese authorities requested Apple removed the VPN apps, whether Apple has made any attempt to reintroduce said apps, and how many apps were removed in total. (A report from the BBC when the apps first disappeared put the count at around 60.)

Here’s what I want to know. What did Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy do to stop the Chinese government from tightening its grip on the country’s Internet? As senators they have access to the full power of the United States government so I assume they wielded it against China when it announced plans to ban VPN software. Is my assumption incorrect? Are Cruz and Leahy demanding that Apple do something that they didn’t even though they were and are in a better position to do so? Say it ain’t so!

Once again we see that the job of a politician is to whine about productive people not being productive enough. I guarantee if Apple had pushed even harder against China’s VPN ban that Cruz and Leahy would have still been upset that the company didn’t do enough because there is no satisfying politicians. They’re parasites that’ll continue to take while providing nothing of value in return.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 24th, 2017 at 10:30 am

When You’re Trying to Be Very Smart™ but End Up Looking Stupid

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The announcement of the iPhone X was one of the biggest product announcements of the year. Not only is it the latest iPhone, which always captures headlines, but it includes a new facial recognition feature dubbed Face ID. With the popularity of the iPhone it’s inevitable that politicians will try to latch onto it to capture some headlines of their own. Al Franken, one of Minnesota’s congress critters, decided to try to latch onto the iPhone X by expressing concern about the privacy implications of the Face ID feature. This may appear to have been a smart political maneuver but the senator only managed to make himself appear illiterate since Apple had already published all of the technical information about Face ID:

Apple has responded to Senator Al Franken’s concerns over the privacy implications of its Face ID feature, which is set to debut on the iPhone X next month. In his letter to Tim Cook, Franken asked about customer security, third-party access to data (including requests by law enforcement), and whether the tech could recognize a diverse set of faces.

In its response, Apple indicates that it’s already detailed the tech in a white paper and Knowledge Base article — which provides answers to “all of the questions you raise”. But, it also offers a recap of the feature regardless (a TL:DR, if you will). Apple reiterates that the chance of a random person unlocking your phone is one in a million (in comparison to one in 500,000 for Touch ID). And, it claims that after five unsuccessful scans, a passcode is required to access your iPhone.

Franken should feel fortunate that Apple even bothered entertaining his concerns. Were I Tim Cook I would have directed a member of my staff to send Franken links to the technical publications with a request to have a member of his staff read them to him and not bothered giving him a TL;DR. After all, Apple’s time is worth far more money than Franken’s since it’s actually producing products and services that people want instead of being a parasite feeding off of stolen money.

Still I admit that it was pretty funny seeing Franken make an ass of himself yet again.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Political Favors for Favored Businesses

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In celebration of the country’s favorite annual religious festival being held in Minneapolis this year, the Minneapolis City Council has announce that it will magnanimously allow bars to stay open until 4AM between February 2nd and 4th. But not every bar. Only those close enough to the Temple of Football:

Last week, Minneapolis City Council approved a resolution that will let bars near U.S. Bank Stadium stay open until 4 a.m. for the weekend of the Super Bowl, February 2–4.

The good news is, the chaos will probably be confined to downtown. As GoMN notes, only bars within the “designated area” can apply for the honor of serving the beer-pounding, pigskin-loving, out-of-town masses until the wee hours of the morning — meaning no, you won’t be able to meet up for super late drinks at the CC Club. Bars will also need to pony up a $250 fee for the special permit. (Gee, wonder if that will pay for itself.)

Excellent news for the bars who are fortunate enough to be situated next to The People’s Stadium but not so good news for every other bar.

Why shouldn’t bars elsewhere in the city also be allowed to stay up until 4AM during the Super Bowl? Better yet, why should any restrictions be placed on how late a bar can stay open? Why can’t bar owners decide for themselves how late they’ll keep their establishments open? And why are these special privileges only bestowed when the city will be packed with people from out of town (because, let’s face it, the Vikings aren’t going to be playing in the Super Bowl)? Are the people living in Minneapolis not good enough to deserve these special privileges?

Written by Christopher Burg

October 13th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Learning Lessons the Hard Way

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My view of politics is bleak. I don’t believe voting is capable of bringing about meaningful change nor do I believe that the system can be changed from the inside even if decent people are elected to offices. No matter how often I point out the redundancies that prevent meaningful change from occurring within the State, people continue to argue that we (by which I assume they mean the royal we) have to keep trying. Perhaps those individuals, like this individual, will someday get a job within the State and learn the lesson the hard way:

This summer I got to see how Illinois government works from the inside when I accepted a high-level position at the governor’s office.

A lot of people have asked why I took the role, considering I have spent the bulk of my career railing against the government.

It came down to this: If I declined the job, I’d watch Illinois’ problems go unfixed and wonder if I could have made a difference. Or, I could enter the nucleus of state government and attempt to change the system from within.

[…]

The experience was eye-opening, but after six weeks I decided to leave the position. It was a dysfunctional workplace in a flailing administration. The bad I saw far outweighed any good I could do.

But perhaps worst of all is that I learned early on that there would be no fixing the system from within, especially from my role; this is a state government that has been broken for decades. It is designed to reject improvement in every form, at every level.

Then again they, like most people who enter government, might realize how awesome it is to receive a paycheck for doing nothing meaningful and forget all about their plan to change the system from within. But I digress.

The article is a great read and, although it’s discusses the Illinois government, the issues it brings up apply to any governmental body (or any bureaucracy in general). Promotions aren’t based on merit but on seniority and connections. Since promotions aren’t based on merit, apathy is rampant. Tradition rules. “We’ve always done it this way,” is considered a valid argument for doing something in governmental bodies. The combination of apathy and tradition dictating direction is a recipe for failure. Just ask any number of companies that failed due to apathetic employees pursing the things the company has always done.

Every single member of government is an interchangeable cog in a complex machine. Even an office as powerful as the presidency of the United States of America is unable to bring about any meaningful change, regardless of how much people believe otherwise, because the other cogs don’t want to shake up what they perceive to be a pretty good thing (being a government official is a pretty cushy job).

Written by Christopher Burg

October 11th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Spain Apparently Wants Civil War

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The vote on secession in Catalonia has come and gone. The overwhelming majority of voters voted in favor of secession. However, in order to cast that vote they had to risk beatings from Spanish law enforcers:

The Catalan regional government is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the next steps towards declaring independence from Spain, a day after millions of Catalans voted in a tumultuous poll that left more than 800 people injured.

Preliminary results from Sunday’s vote showed that 90% of people cast their ballots in favour of independence, according to the Catalan government.

At least 844 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt on Sunday after riot police stormed polling stations in a last-minute effort to stop the vote.

This vote wasn’t even binding and Spain’s law enforcers were willing to beat down over 800 people, which really shows Spain’s attitude towards Catalan independence. As far as Spain is concerned, the only way Catalonia is leaving is in a body bag. However, secession appears to be extremely popular in Catalonia so Spain is unlikely to succeed at keeping the people there under its boot indefinitely. If things continue down this road, Spain will eventually have to decide whether it will let Catalonia secede peacefully or require it engage in a civil war. I’m hoping for the former but based on Spain’s actions so far I fear the latter may be inevitable.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 3rd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Turning Bodies into Speed Bumps

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I try to avoid straight up politicking because it’s boring and unproductive. However, once in a while a politician hands the world something worth ruthlessly mocking discussing. Hillary Clinton apparently released a book titled What Happened. In it she throws a lot of people under the bus. According to the BBC article she names James Comey, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, the media, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, sexism, white resentment, and finally, in a rather surprising twist, herself. Granted, she only admits some fault and only after blaming everybody else but it’s a start.

I bring this up not because blaming other people is somehow unique but because it’s politics as usual. One of the key characteristics of most politicians is the inability to accept their own faults. When they screw up they tend to point the finger at everybody but themselves. If they’re feeling especially charitable, they might note that an insignificant amount of blame can be aimed at them.

This tendency to blame others isn’t unique to politician though. It has practically become an American pastime. Heads of companies will often blame their underlings with a product or service fails to attract property market attention. Employees will often pass the buck to a coworker when they were the ones who actually screwed up. Children love to blame the dog for failing to finish their homework. One of the defining characteristics of the United States is the remarkable ability many have to pass the buck.

I’m not sure if the politicians normalized their behavior or if they only started behaving this way because it became acceptable to do so in the eyes’ of the general public. What I do know is that personal responsibility is almost entirely absent in the political class and in very short supply among the general population.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 13th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics

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