A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ tag

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

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Being the Designated Fall Person is Lucrative

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After Officer Noors gunned down Justine Ruszczyk the mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, sought out a sacrificial lamb that she could toss to the public to appease their anger. The sacrificial lamb she found was Janeé Harteau, the now former police chief for the City of Minneapolis. Initially it looked like a pretty raw deal but it turns out that being the sacrificial lamb can be quite profitable:

Former Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau would receive $182,876 in separation pay plus 12 months of health benefits under a severance deal with the city released Friday.

The deal must earn City Council approval. It includes a sweeping mutual non-disparagement clause: Harteau must say nothing negative about Mayor Betsy Hodges, the City Council or other high-ranking city officials, and they must say nothing negative about her.

Shielding the mayor and City Council for criticism doesn’t come cheap.

These deals always amuse me. On the one hand, a person in a management position is terminated because they supposedly did a bad job. On the other hand, their severance package is so good that they’re actually rewarded for doing a bad job. It’s like the people above the sacrificial lamb want to have their cake and eat it.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 5th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Just a Few Purges Away from Utopia

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Comrades, I have great news from the front line of the war against capitalism! Our glorious leader, President Nicolás Maduro, has seized control of the government of Venezuela and is now using his power to purge the counterrevolutionaries from that most prosperous of countries:

Venezuela’s new constituent assembly has unanimously voted to put opposition leaders on trial for treason.

The assembly said it would pursue those it accuses of supporting US economic sanctions against the country.

I’m sure this will fix Venezuela’s failed economy. Once the purges are complete food will return to the tables of Venezuelans, toilet paper will appear on store shelves again, and utopia will rise from the ashes. Socialism, after all, is always just a few purges away from bringing prosperity and equality to all.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 31st, 2017 at 10:30 am

Might as Well Have the Army Perform Domestic Policing

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The 1033 program, which allows government agencies to acquire surplus military equipment either for free or damn cheap, has become more controversial as the public’s trust in domestic law enforcement has dwindled. Obama, to his credit, attempted to curtail the program. But his efforts were undone by the new administration:

Mr. Sessions said that President Trump would sign an executive order on Monday fully restoring the military program, called 1033, and that the president was doing “all he can to restore law and order and support our police across America.”

Mr. Sessions has rolled back a number of Obama-era efforts toward police reform. In April, he ordered a sweeping review of federal agreements with dozens of law enforcement agencies, including consent decrees with troubled police departments nationwide.

Mr. Obama ordered a review of the Pentagon program in late 2014 after the police responded to protests with armored vehicles, snipers and riot gear. The images of police officers with military gear squaring off against protesters around the country angered community activists who said law enforcement agencies were reacting disproportionately.

In addition to the prohibitions on certain military surplus gear, he added restrictions on transferring some weapons and devices, including explosives, battering rams, riot helmets and shields.

The Pentagon said 126 tracked armored vehicles, 138 grenade launchers and 1,623 bayonets had been returned since Mr. Obama prohibited their transfer.

Not surprisingly, opinions on Trump’s decision are split down party lines. His opponents are up in arms over the return of militarization of law enforcement while his supporters are cheering the restoration to law and order that they perceive will come from this. But granting access to surplus military hardware isn’t the problem in of itself and this decision won’t restore law and order.

The motto commonly attribute to law enforcement is to serve and protect. Granted, the job of law enforcement is to enforce the law, not serve or protect, but let’s consider that motto. The ability to serve and protect members of a community depends heavily on those members trust in their protectors. If they don’t trust their protector, they are going to go out of their way to avoid them, which makes their protector’s task difficult.

Obama’s decision to curtail the 1033 program was more about signaling than anything else. It signaled the fact that he acknowledge the widening gap of mistrust between law enforcers and the communities they operate in. Demilitarizing law enforcers would likely go a long ways towards reducing that gap since part of the distrust people have in law enforcement is their heavy reliance on violence. While Obama’s order wasn’t enough to restore the public’s trust in law enforcement, it could have saved as the beginning of a strategy to do so. Trump’s decision to reverse Obama’s order eliminated that strategy altogether.

At this rate the public is going to see less and less of a difference between the police and military. At some point there really will be no difference except the military generally has more restrictions when it comes to utilizing violence.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 30th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Fight of the Century

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This could be the greatest fight of the century:

“The Mother of All Rallies” is coming to Washington, D.C. on September 16th. The Pro-Trump group bills itself as “The Woodstock of American Rallies” on its official website, with the aim of sending “a message to congress the media and the world” that “we stand united to defend American culture & values.” Over 7,000 people follow the rally’s Facebook page. It should be quite the gathering.

There’s only one problem: there will already be another kind of gathering in town.

Also scheduled to storm the National Mall that day is the Juggalo March, a collective of I.C.P. fans seeking equal treatment, which we first reported on here last summer.

Trumpsters versus Juggalos? Where do I buy tickets to this event? Is VIP seating available? I’m willing to pay for it!

Written by Christopher Burg

August 18th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Why Collectivism is Doomed to Fail

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Nazism is in the headlines again because there are people who still take the ideology seriously. The fact that anybody takes Nazism seriously is evidence that not enough people have read Ludwig von Mises. Mises thoroughly destroyed Nazism in his book Omnipotent Government. One of the most important points he made was that Nazism, due to its foundational principles, was doomed to eternal strife:

The strong man, say the Nazis, is not only entitled to kill. He has the right to use fraud, lies, defamation, and forgery as legitimate weapons. Every means is right that serves the German nation. But who has to decide what is good for the German nation?

To this question the Nazi philosopher replies quite candidly: Right and noble are what I and my comrades deem such, are what the sound feelings of the people (das gesunde Volksempfinden) hold good, right, and fair. But whose feelings are sound and whose unsound? About that matter, say the Nazis, there can be no dispute between genuine Germans.

But who is a genuine German? Whose thoughts and feelings are genuinely German and whose are not? Whose ideas are German ones—those of Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller, or those of Hitler and Goebbels? Was Kant, who wanted eternal peace, genuinely German? Or are Spengler, Rosenberg, and Hitler, who call pacifism the meanest of all ideas, genuine Germans?

There is dissension among men to whom the Nazis themselves do not deny the appellation German. The Nazis try to escape from this dilemma by admitting that there are some Germans who unfortunately have un-German ideas. But if a German does not always necessarily think and feel in a correct German way, who is to decide which German’s ideas are German and which un-German? It is obvious that the Nazis are moving in a circle. Since they abhor as manifestly un-German decision by majority vote, the conclusion is inescapable that according to them German is whatever those who have succeeded in civil war consider to be German.

This isn’t a problem exclusive to Nazism. Any philosophy that defines what is right or wrong by the “will” of a collective will suffer this exactly problem.

Another thing that Mises pointed out is, “All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.” A collective has no will. It cannot think, reason, or act. Individuals within a collective can think, reason, and act but the collective itself is nothing more than an abstraction. Discussing the “will of the people” is nonsense.

But the abstractions don’t stop there. Once somebody allows themselves to believe that a collective can have a will they inevitably start grouping individuals into various collectives. Usually these collectives are poorly defined. In Mises’ book he points out how poorly defined “genuine German” was. Under Marxism people are grouped into either the proletariat or the bourgeoisie. In the Soviet Union the government threw anybody it didn’t like into a catchall group called kulaks. What constitutes a genuine German, proletariat, bourgeoisie, or kulak? It depends on who gets to define those collectives. Usually the “good” groups, like genuine Germans and proletariat, are defined as “everybody who agrees with me” whereas the “bad” groups, like bourgeoisie and kulaks, are defined as “everybody who disagrees with me.”

The national socialists in this country are already busy defining their collectives. They obvious hold anybody who is white in the highest regard. However, if one happens to be both white and Jewish then they are relegated to the dregs of society because, according to national socialists, Jews are the lowest collective. I’m not sure how Asians rank in their system although I know they certainly rank below whites. Blacks certainly rank pretty low in the national socialist system although I think the current consensus amongst its proponents is that they’re still slightly higher than Jews. These definitions, being abstractions, will shift over time as new people gain influence amongst national socialists. The definition of each race will shift as well as the ranking of the defined races amongst each other. And, of course, battle for influence amongst national socialists will involve a lot of arguments over the minutiae with insults of people who disagree being “race traitors.”

Collectivism is doomed to fail because it relies on poorly defined abstractions. Any system that ignores reality in favor of arbitrarily defined abstractions will implement policies that don’t work in the real world and will therefore eventually collapse.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 15th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Importance of Values

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Ken White wrote a great post that rebuts those who believe the government should curtail certain types of speech. It’s especially timely since, as he points out, we’ve reached the bottom of one hypothetical slippery slope brought up by proponents of government restricted speech: Nazis marching down the streets of American cities.

But you cannot destroy a value in order to save it. Nazis — like terrorists — hope that we will abandon principles and fundamentally change who we are out of fear. Assault is assault, threats are threats, murder is murder, and all of them should be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. The allowance for self-defense by those threatened by Nazis should reasonably be generous. But despicable speech is protected by the First Amendment, and should remain so. Our present circumstances show why it is sheer terrified madness to entrust a broad power to prevent or punish speech upon a fickle state. We’ve flirted with that madness of abandoning rights in pursuit of safety for our nation’s whole life. The flirtation has turned sordid and degrading during the War on Crime and frankly self-destructive after 9/11. It would be philosophical suicide to hasten it now by giving a government — a visibly terrible and amoral government — the power to regulate speech. This is the final hypothetical come to pass: if the state asked you to give up freedoms in exchange for a dubious promise it would make you safer, would you do it? Would you convince yourself that the state would only use the power against Them, and not you?

Handing the government more power always sounds like a good idea when the people you agree with are in charge of that government. But that power looks frightening when its in the hands of the people you disagree with.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 15th, 2017 at 10:00 am

A Debate Between National and International Socialism is Hardly a Debate

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In America, much like in Europe, the concept of individualism is almost entirely absent. The political spectrum is synonymous with the socialist spectrum. On the left are the international socialists. On the right are the national socialists. Since the end of World War II, due to their side losing the war, proponents of national socialism have been more or less relegated to the shadows. That has started to change since the election of Donald Trump. The national socialists believe they were critical in getting Trump elected so they also believe that they have a great deal of influence and power, which is probably part of the reason why they are crawling out of the shadows and onto the streets:

Chanting “blood and soil,” “white lives matter” and “you will not replace us,” scores of white nationalists holding torches marched across the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night.

Scuffles broke out between them and a small group of counter-protesters calling themselves “anti-fascists” who were surrounded as they demonstrated in advance of Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, which is expected to be one of the largest far-right gatherings in the U.S. in at least a decade.

As you’re probably aware, the Unite the Right rally didn’t remain peaceful. Several scuffles broke out and one person drove a car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring 19. This shouldn’t have surprised anybody though since this was a political rally and politics is nothing more than a ritualized form of violence.

It seems like most people have either sided with the national socialists or the protesters. If there is a silver lining to this two-sided split it’s that it has revealed many of the crypto-statists who have been hiding amongst the anarcho-capitalists. I’m not a fan of purges but I am a fan of duplicitous people outing themselves. Unfortunately, this being the United States, the protesters seem to be primarily made up of international socialists, which differ from their national socialists brethren only in minor ways.

Under national socialism you’re either a member of the nation and gain the “benefits” of socialism or you’re relegated to the slave class, which means you’re forced to provide the resources necessary for the members of the nation, executed, or the former followed by the latter. What defines a member of the nation or the slave class is largely arbitrary. American national socialists put a lot of emphasis on race, which they also define rather arbitrarily. For example, if you’re white, you’re likely considered a member of the nation… unless you happen to be Jewish as well. This sounds familiar doesn’t it? Replace “member of the nation” with proletariat and “slave class” with bourgeoisie and you have international socialism. So the political debate here in the United States is one of arbitrarily defined definitions.

The only way out of this socialist death spiral is a resurgence of individualism. But if there’s an ideology that is less popular than national socialism here in the United States, it’s individualism. Because while national and international socialists have their disagreements, they can both agree that people who view the individual, not the collective, as supreme are a threat to their power and beliefs and therefore must be exterminated. Since the only alternative to socialism is relegated to the shadows the predominant political debate in this country will hardly be a debate at all.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

A Shocking Development in Venezuela

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I think Venezuela just shocked the entire world. In a totally unprecedented move for a socialist country, the newly established constitutional assembly has granted itself practically unlimited power:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The new constitutional assembly assumed even more power in Venezuela by declaring itself as the superior body to all other governmental institutions, including the opposition-controlled congress.

That decree came Tuesday just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela’s socialist system.

Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the ruling socialist party and leader of the body, said the unanimously approved decree prohibits lawmakers in congress from taking any action that would interfere with laws passed by the newly installed constitutional assembly.

“We are not threatening anyone,” said Aristobulo Isturiz, the constitutional assembly’s first vice president. “We are looking for ways to coexist.”

Leaders of congress, which previously voted not to recognize any of the new super-body’s decrees, said lawmakers would try to meet in the gold-domed legislative palace Wednesday, but there were questions whether security officers guarding the building would let them in.

History may not repeat itself but it certainly rhymes.

The coup is complete. While the leaders of congress may have voted against recognizing the assembly’s decrees, the only thing that matters at this point is which side has the most armed thugs at its disposal. If the members of congress who oppose the assembly can muster a fighting force great enough to take on the assembly then it has a chance to enforce its oppositional vote. Otherwise those members of congress who refuse to “get with the program” will likely find themselves against the wall in short order. Meanwhile, while the elites have their pissing match the people of Venezuela will continue to starve.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 9th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Might Makes Right

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Most people are appalled by the idea that might makes right. They seem to believe that just because somebody has the might to force their will on others doesn’t mean doing so is moral. However, the response is different if I change the phrasing just a little bit. If I say that the plurality of voters agreed to something then suddenly the use of force becomes moral.

Democracy is nothing more than a popularity contest. For some reason a single individual wanting something and resorting to force to get it is considered immoral to most people. But a plurality of voters, regardless of how small that plurality is, wanting something and resorting to force to get it is considered moral to the same people. What those people are actually saying is that they believe popularity contents determine morality.

We see this attitude whenever somebody justifies aggression against a nonviolent person by saying, “He broke the law!” What is law in the United States is determined primarily by what the plurality of a political body say it is. Since a plurality of voters in Congress voted to ban cannabis and they managed to get a president to sign off on it (if he didn’t then Congress would have just had to override his veto by voting harder), using cannabis is against the law and it is therefore moral, at least in the eye’s of those who support democracy, for law enforcers to go as far as killing cannabis users.

Every single law is enforced with force. Every single law exists because a plurality of voters; in this case usually voters in the United States Congress, state congresses, or city councils; endorsed the law. Democracy is nothing more than might makes right with a single additional stipulation. Might makes right so long as might wins a popularity contest first.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 3rd, 2017 at 11:00 am