Archive for the ‘Politics’ tag
During the Cold War Senator Joe McCarthy believed that the Soviets had infiltrated every branch of the United States government. Unhappy by the prospect of evil communists infiltrating his beloved fascist government, McCarthy decided to do the only thing he knew how to do, perform witch hunts. He made the lives of many people miserable all because he didn’t want international socialists in his national socialist government.
Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do remember history are doomed to watch everybody else repeat it:
On Tuesday, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and six ranking members of major House committees sent President Obama a letter declaring, “We are deeply concerned by Russian efforts to undermine, interfere with, and even influence the outcome of our recent election.”
A prominent signer of the letter — Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee — is among the Democrats most eager to denounce Russian subversion.
A week ago, when the House approved by a 390-30 margin and sent to the Senate the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2017, Schiff praised “important provisions aimed at countering Russia’s destabilizing efforts — including those targeting our elections.” One of those “important provisions,” Section 501, sets up in the executive branch “an interagency committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence.”
The only difference between the beginning of this story and the beginning of McCarthy’s story is that in this revision Russia isn’t a communist nation anymore.
If you read the document you’ll see that it tasks the committee with nebulous responsibilities that are vague enough to mean anything. My favorite responsibility is probably dealing with media manipulation. It must be noted that the document is tasking the committee with specifically countering Russian media manipulation, not manipulation performed by the United States government because that form of manipulation is doubleplusgood. What this requirement will boil down to is any media reports that aren’t favorable to the interests of the United States will likely be called Russian influence and dealt with accordingly. I’m sure there are a lot of journalists out there that will find themselves under federal investigation, probably of the secret variety, because they reported the wrong side of a story.
After the conclusion of the Cold War you might have expected the United States to chill the fuck out. With its only credible adversary out of the picture the United States could stop living in a constant state of fear. Instead it sought high and low for a new threat. Many were tried; Iran, al Qaeda, Iraq, etc.; but it quickly became obvious that the hole in the United States’ heart could only be filled by Russia. So here we are, decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, still looking to hold witch trails on account of Russia.
If you mention the words “political correctness” to a conservative they’ll often respond by acting as seemingly offensive as possible. You’ll also listen to them scream about how everything is terrible because of liberal political correctness. But cognitive dissonance is the staple of any political diet. Conservatives love political correctness, they just love a different form of it:
But conservatives have their own, nationalist version of PC, their own set of rules regulating speech, behavior and acceptable opinions. I call it “patriotic correctness.” It’s a full-throated, un-nuanced, uncompromising defense of American nationalism, history and cherry-picked ideals. Central to its thesis is the belief that nothing in America can’t be fixed by more patriotism enforced by public shaming, boycotts and policies to cut out foreign and non-American influences.
If you want to “trigger” a conservative try sitting for the national anthem. When they start complaining double down by telling them that it’s a shitty song. If you invite your conservative friends over for dinner keep in mind that it’s acceptable to wipe your mouth with American flag napkins but if you have a flag outside and it touches the ground you’ll be getting an ear full. The next time a white cop shoots a unarmed black man under very questionable circumstances bring up the topic of racism as it pertains to policing. Just make sure to have a handkerchief on hand to wipe their spittle off of your face as they’re screaming incoherently at you.
Everything conservatives make fun of liberals for, such as political correctness and safe spaces, is something they also tend to exhibit.
You know we’ve all been sucked into a wormhole and dumped out into Bizarro World when statist rags like Time start sounding more like me:
The approximately 65 million Democrats who voted for Hillary Clinton should pledge that in the future if a Republican wins the presidency with fewer votes than a Democrat for the third time in our era, we won’t pay taxes to the federal government. No taxation without representation!
Admittedly, I didn’t really care which of the two crooks was elected president but watching the Democrats suddenly become more anti-state has been filling with me no minor amount of joy. The anti-war left is starting to come back out of the woodwork, Democrats are suddenly outraged by the expansive surveillance powers the State has granted itself, Californians are talking about secession, and Time is urging their readers to stop paying taxes. Of course they will revert to their old selves as soon as their guy gets back in power but for at least four years I’ve got some really good entertainment to watch.
One of the reasons that I have a hard time taking political libertarians seriously is because many of them operate in a fantasy land where the electoral process is fair and the only thing needed for another party to gain prominence is hard work. Take the Libertarian Party struggle to reach the mythical five percent of votes. Many political libertarians naively believe that if their party can get five percent of the national vote that their party will be granted federal campaign dollars. But that’s not how the political process works. Washington is giving us a glimpse of what will happen if the Libertarian Party ever obtains anywhere near five percent of the national vote:
In order to gain gain major party legal status in the state of Washington, the Libertarian Party needed to get 5 percent of the vote in the presidential race. As the final counting for the state dragged on for weeks, the state party looked on eagerly as it seemed they’d just make the cut.
And indeed, according to the public data on the Washington secretary of state’s website on election results, they did! 5.01 percent as of this morning for Gary Johnson for president in that state. Seeing this, Ballot Access News thought major party status was a done deal.
Why? Because that public total doesn’t include the sacred-to-Washington-process write-in vote.
This is despite the fact, as Winger reports, that the state has never even announced any counts of such votes for the past 24 years. But Wyman insists that including the write-ins will be done, and will dunk Johnson’s percentage below 5.
This is another example of the layers of protection that exist within the State to protect it from unwanted influence. In this case the write-in votes, which haven’t been counted in almost a quarter of a century in Washington, appear to be the layer of protection against the Libertarian Party achieving major party status in Washington. Once major party status is denied to the Libertarian Party the politicians of the state will likely pass a law upping the required percentage to 10 percent or more to protect against this kind of thing happening again.
Politics by its very nature is a practice of deception, lies, and changing rules. Libertarianism is an anti-statist philosophy, which means it will never achieve success in the political realm.
Minnesota’s medical cannabis laws are, to put it nicely, absurd. Instead of legalizing cannabis across the board like Colorado, the Minnesota legislative and executive branches allowed law enforcement to effectively write the initial bill. The result was a bill that allowed patients with very specific conditions to access cannabis at prices that today remain artificially inflated due to the government granted duopoly of approved growers. Now that the bill is through minor tweaks are being made. One of the tweaks is adding more approved conditions to the list. Recently post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was added to the list:
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) – The Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday announced the decision to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a new qualifying condition for the state’s medical cannabis program.
PTSD was one of 9 conditions considered for addition this year, including depression, arthritis, autism, diabetes, insomnia, schizophrenia, phantom limb syndrome and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – a genetic disorder that can affect the joints and skin.
I bring this up primarily because it’s an interesting intersection of cannabis and gun laws, especially for one beloved group of individuals that commonly suffer from PTSD and enjoy shooting sport: veterans. Unfortunately, due to the disagreement on cannabis between state and federal governments, using cannabis in a state where it’s legal means you lose your gun privileges. In fact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) recently updated Form 4473 to clarify this. In Minnesota, unlike states that have completely abolished cannabis prohibition, you have to register as a patient with the state, which means that it only takes one agency communicating with another to list you as a prohibited person in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
So now those veterans who suffer with PTSD and enjoy shooting sports have a choice to make. They can either treat their condition or they can own firearms. At least legally.
Illicit cannabis dealers are still happy to provide their product to people suffering from PTSD without requiring any registration with a government agency that might report them to the ATF. The lesson here is that if you’re suffering with any of the approved medical conditions that allow you to legally buy cannabis in Minnesota buy your cannabis illegally instead.
The politicians in Minnesota always prioritize the important issues. While this fine state is facing several minor issues such as skyrocketing health insurance costs, stupidly high taxes, and the idiocy of the medical cannabis law that was written in a way that ensures the continuation of the drug war there is a very sinister issue facing us: senators can’t drink water on the floor:
Early in the upcoming legislative session, the Minnesota Senate will again take up an issue sure to spark debate and division among its members: whether to allow senators to drink water while on the Senate floor.
The upper chamber of the Legislature has long prided itself on tradition and a particular view of decorum. Senators are banned from looking at each other during debates, and are required to instead look only at the president of the Senate while speaking. Men — including both senators and members of the press — are required to wear a jacket and tie on the Senate floor, while women have less specific rules but are expected to dress professionally. Anyone on the Senate floor is banned from bringing in food or beverages, including water.
Supporters of the rules, who have continually voted down attempts to change them, say they are needed to enforce order — and protect the Senate’s antique desks from water damage.
I hope these senators come to their sense and realize that the wisdom of the no water rule is so self-evident that the only sensible choice is to expand it beyond the floor. The no water for senators rule should be expanded to encompass the entire state. Imagine how much better this state would be if elected senators were never allowed to drink water. Minnesota’s most significant problems would be solved in approximately three days!
The once positive aspect of Trump being elected, other than the fact that I can actually still find standard capacity magazines, is that self-identified leftists are learning the value of limited government (don’t worry, I’m sure this will pass when their guys gets in just like last time). They’re finally understanding some of the threats that libertarians have been warning about for decades. Adding insult to injury, their guy that currently occupies the Oval Office is busy paving the way for Trump:
For years now, we’ve written about how the Obama administration has regularly rewritten the dictionary in order to pretend that the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) hastily granted by Congress in the wake of 9/11 enabled him to go to war with basically anyone. If you don’t recall, the AUMF granted the President the power to use “all necessary and appropriate force” to go after those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” That’s already fairly broad, but over the years basically our entire government has pretended that (1) the AUMF included the ability to also target “associated forces” (even though it does not) and (2) it allowed the President to simply lump in anyone he wanted as an “associated force” allowing him to bomb them without any Congressional authorization. This is how you get a war without end, in which the explicit authorization to go after Al Qaeda is now being used on a surprisingly long list of groups that didn’t even exist in 2001.
And, just a few days ago, President Obama expanded the list yet again, allowing himself to go after yet another group: Shabab. Now, no one is trying to claim that Shabab, or ISIS or any other group that has been added to the list aren’t out to do serious harm to the US. But, this seems to go way beyond the basic functions of the office of the President and the simple Constitutional requirement for Congress to declare war.
If you mistakenly believe that the Democratic and Republican parties are opponents then you may find Obama’s actions a bit confusing. After all, why would he further expand presidential powers if he knew somebody like Trump was going to take the office in a month? The fact is that both parties are on the same side, which is a fact missed by self-identified leftists.
Remember when George Bush Jr. was in office? As he declared war on Iraq, signed the PATRIOT Act, and otherwise expanded the State’s power the anti-war left was having fits. They were actively out protesting. In fact public opinion was enough against Bush’s actions that Obama was able to openly campaign against those powers. During his first presidential run Obama promised to end the wars, curtail the State’s war powers, close Guantanamo Bay, and much more. Then he was elected. He followed through with none of his promises. In fact, he expanded the number of countries that the United States was bombing and further expanded the powers that Bush’s started implementing. Unfortunately, because their guy was in office, the anti-war left vanished. And now their guy is further expanding the powers of his office even though it will soon be occupied by somebody from the other team.
The anti-war left starting to come out of the woodwork again because their guy won’t be in power for much longer. But they’ll vanish again when their guy gets back in the White House. So long as you allow yourself to believe that the Democratic and Republican parties are opponents you’ll be suckered into a vicious cycle that requires willfully ignoring horrendous acts when somebody you side with is performing them and strongly protesting the very same acts when somebody you don’t side with is in power. If you have any principles at all you need to abandon this infantile notion that there are two major political parties in this country and accept the fact that both parties are working together to solidify their power.
Once in a while karma or the universe or the gods or whatever see fit to teach us a lesson. Take Howard Brookins Jr., a petty elected official in Chicago. He has been waging a verbal war against Chicago’s squirrel population:
Howard Brookins Jr. is the alderman for Chicago’s 21st ward, and one thing he isn’t a large fan of is the city’s “urban squirrels.” Brookins is known to speak out against the “aggresive” creatures for their destruction of the garbage bins around the city.
Tired on his blaspheming against their kind a self-radicalized extremist squirrel decided to take matters into his own hands:
Apparently the squirrels were not going to take that lying down, as WaPo reports.
While he was biking down the Cal-Sag Trail on the 13th of November, one squirrel ran out in front of him and wrapped itself in the spoke of Brookins bicycle. This caused Brookins to flip over his handlebars and land on his head, fracturing his skull, breaking his nose, and knocking out a few teeth.
Today’s lesson is don’t be a politician. Animals won’t like you and they’ll go so far as to sacrifice themselves to strike against you.
I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this but the political process is not an effective means of changing the system. Welcome to the universe, it’s a harsh place that doesn’t care about your hopes and dreams.
Politicos mistakenly believe that if they can get the right person in the right office that the system can be changed for the better (here “better” means whatever political aspirations the politico has, not what is actually better by any sane definition). But it’s a naive belief. Politicians are only one layer in a multi-layer system that has been built up over the centuries to protect and expand the State.
Take something as simple as a sheriff’s office. You might think that electing the right sheriff will get all of the bad apples in that department fired. Were the sheriff the only layer of protection that could be the case but even a county sheriff’s office has multiple layers of protection that ensure the State’s expropriators are protected against the consequences of their actions:
A northern Minnesota sheriff’s office has been ordered by a labor arbitrator to reinstate a deputy back to the force after being fired for a 2015 DUI conviction, according to public records.
Mahnomen Count Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Ohren and his union, Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc., successfully fought the firing, leaving county officials angered and forcing the sheriff to find a non-investigative role for him.
Today, despite his driving record, Ohren is transporting jail inmates around northern Minnesota in a sheriff’s vehicle, not being assigned to respond to 911 calls or crimes due to his credibility being subject to question should he ever have to testify in court.
While Ohren must blow into a breathalyzer before he can start his car going to and from work, the deputy doesn’t have to when he is driving on county time.
In this case a sheriff’s office fired a bad apple but Minnesota’s law enforcer’s union stepped in, fought the firing, and managed to get the bad apple reinstated. Here the union acted as a second layer of protection for the officer.
This complexity is rampant within the State. It ensures that no single individual within the system can make any meaningful changes. It also means that electing the right person to the right office won’t accomplish anything unless that person intends to expand the State (because then they’re working with the various layers of protection, not against them).
When people hear the phrase “A system of checks and balances.” they believe that those checks and balances are meant to limit the power any politician has. In reality those checks and balances are against any forces that would threaten the State’s power.
Another day, another stupid political controversy. This time the controversy involves that symbol everybody loves to lose their shit over, the flag of the United States of America. Donald Trump tweeted that he thinks flag burners should be punished, which is yet another position he shares with Hillary Clinton. As expected, neocons have been jumping for joy at his proposal.
The nation’s skycloth is a symbol and as George Carlin once said, “I leave symbols to the symbol minded.” I’ve never burned a flag nor do I worship it. Another symbol of the United States of America is the Bill of Rights, which is a list of amendments that granted temporary privileges. The very first amendment states that freedom of expression is a protected right. So what we have here is an argument over which symbol sits higher on the Hierarchy of Symbols.
What takes precedence, the nation’s skycloth or the list of temporary privileges? I don’t really care what anybody’s answer to that question is but I feel that it’s important to clarify what people are actually arguing about.