Archive for the ‘Politics’ tag
Where does Trump buy his drugs? Asking for a friend.
President Trump thinks drugs cost as much as a Snickers or Butterfinger.
“Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars,” Trump said at a news conference Thursday.
Could drugs cost less than a candy bar? Perhaps, if the government wasn’t investing so many resources into wielding violence against peaceful drug manufacturers, sellers, and users. But risk increases prices and the war on unapproved drugs adds a lot of risk for participants in the drug market.
When Obama was in office a bunch of neocons claimed that he was planning to use the United Nations military to establish martial law, secretly a Muslim Brotherhood operative trying to bring Sharia to the United States, plotting the destruction of Israel, and a whole bunch of other conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, the neoliberals were calling those neocons paranoid and mocking them ruthlessly.
Today a bunch of neoliberals are claiming that Trump is planning to abolish the public schools, reestablish institutionalized racism, round up and kill homosexuals, and a whole bunch of other conspiracy theories. Likewise, now the neocons are calling neoliberals paranoid and mocking them ruthlessly.
As it turns out, this sudden flip in conspiratorial thinking is pretty common:
Even as Democrats decry the false claims streaming regularly from the White House, they appear to have become more vulnerable to unsupported claims and conspiracy theories that flatter their own political prejudices. The reason isn’t just that a Republican now occupies the White House. Political psychology research suggests that losing political control can make people more vulnerable to misinformation and conspiracy theories.
This isn’t surprising. Anybody who isn’t directly embroiled in the political mess of this country but pays attention to those who are have noticed this type of behavior. When a politico’s team is in power all is great and the world is moving in the right direction. When a politico’s team isn’t in power everything is terrible and the world is going to come crashing down. Regardless of the situation, politico’s will tend to believe whatever news fits their personal bias. If they think everything is great they’ll believe any news that supports that bias and label any news that doesn’t as fake or propaganda. The same goes for when they think everything is terrible.
The State makes hypocrites of everybody involved in it. At some point even the most principled individual will have to compromise those principles. Take Representative Devin Nunes, for example. He strongly supports the National Security Agency’s (NSA) widespread surveillance program when it’s used against you and me. But when surveillance is used against him and his ilk he suddenly hates it:
Back then there was a bipartisan push to try to require some more due process in National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance of Americans. Nunes used the deadly attack on the nightclub in Orlando to argue against it, claiming it would hamper the government in its fight against the war on terror.
But while he was opposed to protecting you and me from unwarranted government surveillance, apparently Nunes does think that the feds recording a call between ex-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and a Russian ambassador in December is beyond the pale. From The Washington Post:
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that the most significant question posed by the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn is why intelligence officials eavesdropped on his calls with the Russian ambassador and later leaked information on those calls to the press.
“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting a review of Russian activities to influence the election. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”
The ability of politicians to hold two mutually exclusive beliefs simultaneously never ceases to amaze me. Usually their cognitive dissonance comes out when discussing so-called rights. Most politicians seem to believe that the State has unlimited rights whereas the people have no rights.
The right to free speech? The State can say whatever it wants, even if it’s false, but the people should have certain restrictions placed upon what they can say. The right to bear arms? The people should be heavily restricted in what they are allowed to possess while the State should be allowed to have an unlimited number of goddamn nuclear weapons. The right to privacy? As Mr. Nunes demonstrated, the State should enjoy an expectation of privacy while the people should be surveilled at all times.
The politicians espousing their cognitive dissonance always have a convenient excuse. The right to free speech is dangerous when that speech is seditious, hateful, untrue, etc. The right to bear arms is dangerous in general because people use weapons to kill other people. The right to privacy is a direct threat to national security because it makes it more difficult for the State to find terrorists. All of these excuses would apply equally to the State but the politicians never mention that.
Whenever the State involves itself in an issue there are unintended consequences (okay, the consequences could be intended but I’ll give the politicians the benefit of the doubt in this case). When the State involved itself in the alcohol market by prohibiting its manufacture, sale, and consumption criminal organizations arose to provide the prohibited good. Today we’re seeing the same thing happen again as the State has involved itself in the markets of several other substances. When the State further involved itself in the healthcare market health insurance premiums skyrocketed.
What happens when the State involves itself in immigration? Unintended consequences:
For four months every year he employs almost exclusively Hispanic male workers to pick the harvest. This year he had 64 men out in the fields.
Then HB56 came into effect, the new law that makes it a crime not to carry valid immigration documents and forces the police to check on anyone they suspect may be in the country illegally.
The provisions – the toughest of any state in America – were enforced on 28 September. By the next day Cash’s workforce had dwindled to 11.
Today there is no-one left. The fields around his colonial-style farmhouse on top of a mountain are empty of pickers and the tomato plants are withering on the vine as far as the eye can see. The sweet, slightly acrid smell of rotting tomato flesh hangs in the air.
On Friday, the 11th circuit appeals court in Atlanta blocked the first of those measures, but allowed the state to continue detaining suspected illegal migrants. So it is unlikely that Cash’s workers will dare to reappear.
The blow to Cash can be measured in those $100,000 – money he says he had wanted to put aside as insurance against a poor crop in future years. But it can also be measured in other ways.
A great deal of manual labor in this country is performed by “illegal” immigrants. Why? Because they’re willing to do the work for the pay being offered, unlike most Americans. When those immigrants aren’t available to do the work the work often ends up not being done, which costs producers money and consumers available goods.
Immigration is a hotly debated topic amongst libertarians. One camp believes that the State has the authority to decide who can and cannot cross the arbitrary lines it has created. The other camp, i.e. the correct libertarians, don’t recognize the State has a legitimate entity and believe that the only person who can decide who can and cannot enter a property is the owner. If a farmer wants to allowed laborers from Mexico to enter their property then those Mexicans can enter the property. Property rights cease to exist the second the State is allowed to dictate who can and cannot enter the farmer’s property.
Is it okay to punch a Nazi? This question has become quite popular every since white nationalist Richard Spencer was decked by people who didn’t like what he was selling. Supporters of punching Nazis claim that standing idly by is what allowed the Nazis to rise to power and that the only way to prevent Nazis from rising to power again is through preemptive violence. This logic was also used by supporters of the UC Berkley rioters who caused Milo Yiannopoulos to cancel his talk.
But did the Nazis rise to power because good people stood by and did nothing? As with most things, the rise of the Nazi Party wasn’t so simple.
The Nazi Party’s rise to power was due to many factors. One of those factors was the party’s ability to exploit the actions of its opponents. For example, the Nazi Party used the Reichstag fire to suspend civil liberties. The Reichstag building was burned down, supposedly by a communist named Van der Lubbe, which gave the Nazi Party grounds for asking President Hindenburg to suspend civil liberties. He did so with the passage of the Reichstag Fire Decree.
While I don’t claim that the rioting at UC Berkley was the same as the Reichstag fire I feel the need to point out the similarities. Both the rioting at UC Berkley and the Reichstag fire were supposedly perpetrated by communists. Both events were used by nationalists. In the case of the Reichstag fire the event was used by nationalists to suspend civil liberties. In the case of the rioting at UC Berkley the event has been used by nationalists to galvanize their supporters and discredit their opponents.
Is it okay to punch a Nazi? If it is then how far can one go? Is it okay to kill a Nazi? Is it okay to burn down an entire college campus to prevent a Nazi (note that I’m not claiming that Milo is a Nazi but he is seen as such by many of his opponents) from speaking?
I understand the appeal of violence. It’s expedient and far easier than using rhetoric to convince people of your cause. But it’s also a double-edged sword. It can silence your opponents but it can also be used by your opponents to discredit you. The Reichstag fire was a great example of this. If the Reichstag building hadn’t been burned down it’s possible that the Nazi Party would have been unsuccessful or only somewhat successful at getting civil liberties suspended.
You might see violence as the best means of achieving your ends but your opponents might also see you using violence as the best means of achieving their ends. Be cautious of traps.
Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the Education Secretary yesterday:
WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos on Tuesday as education secretary, approving the embattled nominee only with the help of a historic tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.
The 51-to-50 vote elevates Ms. DeVos — a wealthy donor from Michigan who has devoted much of her life to expanding educational choice through charter schools and vouchers, but has limited experience with the public school system — to be steward of the nation’s schools.
The only thing newsworthy about this is the fact that it was getting so much goddamn media coverage than even I heard about it. Why did the nomination of a secretary to a government department get so much media coverage? I have no idea. But I hope other nominations don’t have the same coverage because there are far more interesting things going on in the world.
Still, I’m entertained by the aftermath. People genuinely cared about this nomination. Those who didn’t support DeVos are genuinely upset over her confirmation.
Here’s the thing, the Education Secretary doesn’t matter if you don’t put your children into a government indoctrination center. A lot of people figured this out some time ago. Instead of letting the government brainwash their children under the guise of providing an education they opted to enroll their children into a private institution, homeschool their children, unschool their children, or chose some other means of providing their children with an actual education.
There’s a valuable lesson in DeVos’ nomination for those who are upset that she’s not running the Department of Education. If you place your children into a government indoctrination center they’re going to be indoctrinated by whoever is currently controlling the government. If your political opposition controls the government then they will be indoctrinating your children.
Many World War II movies have a scene where normal folk are walking down the street minding their own business when they’re suddenly confronted by a pair of police officers who say, “Ihre Papiere bitte.” Usually the people being confronted will hand over a set of documents, the officers will look them over, and then one officer will say, “Ihre Papiere sind nicht in Ordnung.” Such scenes are used to show the audience that Nazi Germany was an authoritarian police state. But if demanding identification from people minding their own business made Nazi Germany a police state what does it make the United States:
PHOENIX – You could go to jail for four months if you get caught without an ID as a passenger in a car if a new law proposal passes.
Current law only requires the driver of a vehicle to carry a drivers license, which serves as evidence of identity.
If this bill passes, a passenger would also be required to have evidence of identity. Failure to do so would be a class 2 misdemeanor, which allows for up to four months in jail by current state law.
Isn’t it funny how all of the things the United States government once criticized authoritarian regimes for doing are either being done or are being proposed here? And isn’t if funny that many people living here have managed to delude themselves enough to believe that they live in the freest country on Earth?
Germany has a dark and sordid history of tagging those it deems to be undesirable. In the past it relied on badges. The most famous badges, the yellow Star of David, was used to mark Jews. But the Nazis also had other symbols such as pink triangles for homosexuals.
In this day and age tagging people for their religious beliefs or sexual orientation is frowned upon through most of Europe and the United States. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people deemed undesirable. In many European countries and the United States the governments have implemented a new list of undesirables. They usually refer to these lists as terrorist watch lists. The names that appear on these lists aren’t people who have been found guilty of anything, the governments that created and are maintaining these lists merely suspect that the people on them might do something… possibly… maybe. Or at least that’s what they claim. But even that much cannot be determined since the criteria for appearing on these lists is usually secret.
Now that Germany has a list of undesirables again it has decided to modernize its old trick. Instead of making people on the terrorist watch list wear badges they’ll be required to wear GPS anklets:
The German government will electronically tag all people on the country’s terror watchlist even if they have committed no crime, reflecting a tougher approach in the wake of December’s terror attack in Berlin.
The tagging proposal had been agreed by justice minister Heiko Maas and interior minister Thomas de Maizière last month as part of a package of measures to beef up security.
Mr de Maizière said tags were “no silver bullet” but were an “important instrument, to make it easier to monitor people”.
The tag is a GPS transmitter attached to the leg which emits a signal when a suspect approaches a prohibited zone.
The Nazis claimed those badges were an important instrument to make Germany safe as well. But this has nothing to do with safety. It’s about creating an enemy for Germans to fear. So long as the German people are afraid the State is able to grab more power for itself with little resistance.
I’ve seen quite a few friends flipping out over this news:
Now that Republicans have quietly drawn a path to give away much of Americans’ public land, US representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah has introduced what the Wilderness Society is calling “step two” in the GOP’s plan to offload federal property.
The new piece of legislation would direct the interior secretary to immediately sell off an area of public land the size of Connecticut. In a press release for House Bill 621, Chaffetz, a Tea Party Republican, claimed that the 3.3m acres of national land, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), served “no purpose for taxpayers”.
What amuses me isn’t the face that I have friends flipping out over this, it’s that they believe the government has any right to the land in the first place.
The State, being an illegitimate organization, cannot legitimately own anything. Yet it claims ownership over a great deal of land in the Western United States. Now it believes it has the right to sell that unowned land. And for some reason people are not only happy to play along with this charade but they’re upset that the State is planning to sell the land because they want it to remain in the State’s hands!
This is why I don’t give a shit about politics. Politics isn’t an act of legitimate parties trying to resolve disputes. It’s an act of two sides arguing over things neither of them have any right to involve themselves with in the first place. This issue is a prime example. Two sides are arguing over whether or not the State should sell a particular chunk of land. One side says it should sell the land and the other side says it should keep the land. But neither side has any right to decide what should be done with the land because they don’t own it.
In order to involve yourself in the political process you must first accept falsities. Why waste time arguing over falsities?
If nothing else, Trump’s election has taught a lot of people, albeit only temporarily, about the dangers of a power government. The responses to this newfound knowledge have been all over the board. On the minor end a lot of people have stated that Trump isn’t their president. I welcome them to the club of those of us who don’t have presidents. But the minor end of the scale is dull. On the more fun end of the scale a lot of people are talking about secession. Surprisingly enough, the state talking most loudly about secession is California:
A proposal for California to secede from the United States was submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office Thursday.
The proposed “Calexit” initiative – its name borrowed from the UK’s “Brexit” departure from the EU – would ask voters to repeal part of the state constitution that declares California an inseparable part of the U.S.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla said the group behind the proposal, Yes California Independence Campaign, was cleared to begin attempting to collect nearly 600,000 voter signatures needed to place the plan on the ballot.
“In our view, the United States of America represents so many things that conflict with Californian values, and our continued statehood means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children,” the Yes campaign’s website says.
Over a century and a half ago the states learned what happens when you try to secede from a powerful federal government. But what happened so long ago shouldn’t dissuade people from trying again today. Secession is something worth fighting for. It’s the beginning of something that could be beautiful. First states could secede from the United States. Then counties could secede from the states. Then townships could secede from the counties. And finally, individuals could secede from the townships. Going from one federal state with 50 vassal states, which is all the 50 states really are at this point, to 320 million separate states would be wonderful.
Although California is not a place I’d want to live, if it starts the chain reaction of secession I will forever give it its due credit.