Archive for the ‘Politics’ tag
I didn’t watch last night’s debate. I’ve already seen enough videos of monkeys flinging feces at each other for a lifetime. But I did find an excellent video that summarizes both candidates’ position on a very important issue:
During his first presidential run, Obama spent a lot of time talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He claimed that he was going to make ending those wars a priority. While he was lying through his teeth it was refreshing to have at least one major candidate opposing war. This year? Both major candidates are war hawks and want to turn Syria into rubble (not because of anything Syria has really done but because it’s a proxy for Russia and old Cold War attitudes die hard). But neither one of them wants to address the fact that the United States is involved in five fucking wars:
In an election flush with conspiracy theories, here’s one that’s real: Both major party nominees, as well as the journalists who cover the election and moderate the debates, are actively conspiring to avoid talking about the fact that the United States is waging war in at least five countries simultaneously: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.
In the first two presidential debates, our involvement in the Syrian civil war was briefly discussed, as was ISIS in vague terms, and the Iran nuclear deal, and Russia’s mischief-making in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and Libya, though mostly in the past tense, focused on our 2011 intervention to depose Moammar Gadhafi and the subsequent attack on American government facilities in Benghazi a year later.
But our role in “advising” the Iraqi army “a few miles behind the front lines” as it works to take back territory from ISIS? Our “secret war” against Shabab militants in Somalia? Our support for Saudi Arabia’s bloody assault on Houthi rebels in Yemen? Our air strikes pounding positions in and around the city of Sirte on the Libyan coast?
Nada. Zip. Nothing.
While Keynesians have wet dreams over all of the economic “stimulus” wars create the only people who benefit are those within the military-industrial complex. Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Blackwater (or whatever the hell they call themselves now), etc. make big dollars on war. People (if you can really call Keynesians people) will also mistakenly point out that construction companies and other rebuilders make big dollars as well. But their ignorance of Bastiat’s broken window fallacy causes them to ignore the fact that those builders would be building newer, better buildings instead of replacing older buildings in an economically prosperous (i.e. not blown to Hell and back by war) region. Furthermore, an economically prosperous region would have goods and services to trade with other regions, which would increase the wealth of both sides. When wars are waged everybody outside of the military-industrial complex gets screwed.
In times of peace wealth is invested in developing new more technologically advanced goods and services. During times of war wealth is diverted to onetime use munitions and rebuilding everything that was blown up. Both sides are diverting wealth that was stolen from their populace into first building bombs, tanks, ships, bunkers, supply lines, surveillance technologies, etc. and then replacing them all when they’re destroyed. It’s an unending cycle of wasted potential.
The United States is already involved in five wars. Getting involved in more wars or throwing more resources into existing wars is only going to increase the amount of wealth wasted on death and destruction. No matter which president wins in November it’s clear that the current wars will not only march on but increase in intensity. This will only worsen the already tedious economic situation the country, and really most of the world, is in. And nobody wants to talk about that. Nobody wants to talk about what is probably the single biggest issue facing the world right now. What is the point of political debates if the important issues aren’t being broached (don’t answer that, it was a rhetorical question)? Where is the choice in an election if both candidates hold the exact same destructive positions on truly important issues (again, this is a rhetorical question)?
Before I end this post I want to address something. I’m sure some very decent human beings are asking themselves why I’m framing this discussion within economics instead of human lives? I’m trying to reach the statists here and as we know statists tend not to value human lives very highly (if they did they wouldn’t be statists). But they never shut up about the economy. I guess a part of me hopes that framing this discussion within economics I might be able to reach one or two of them and convince them to ask why nobody is addressing the issue of war in this election.
George Carlin once said, “And now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin’ retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later ’cause they own this fuckin’ place. It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.”
Social Security is often referred to as a Ponzi scheme and that is a fairly accurate assessment. Ponzi schemes tend to enrich the early participants of the scheme at the expense of the newer participants and the State, which passed the legislation mandating we all participate in this scheme, was certainly enriched while newer participants continue to get screwed harder than the last set of participants. What makes matters worse is that we all realize it. How many people in their 20s and 30s have you heard say “I don’t expect to get anything from Social Security?” Hell, I say it quite frequently. But you know who is benefitting from Social Security? The State.
Since its inception the Social Security Trust Fund has been “invested” in Treasury securities. In other words, the State pulls money from peoples’ supposed retirement accounts and lends it to itself. But its cronies have been wanting to get a piece of the action and, as George Carlin predicted, they’re going to get it.
The State has been unwilling to directly cut its cronies in on the Social Security scheme but it did throw them a bone. The bone was a tax rule that allowed money invested into a sanctioned scheme to be withdrawn from employee paychecks before taxes. This scheme, referred to as 401(k), has two major flaws from the point of view of the State’s cronies. First, it’s decentralized. There is no single mandatory 401(k) account that all employees have to invest in. Second, it is voluntary so many employees didn’t hand their money over to the State’s cronies. A lot of that is likely to change in the near future under President Clinton:
While Hillary Clinton has spent the presidential campaign saying as little as possible about her ties to Wall Street, the executive who some observers say could be her Treasury Secretary has been openly promoting a plan to give financial firms control of hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement savings. The executive is Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group.
It is a plan that proponents say could help millions of Americans — but could also enrich another constituency: the hedge fund and private equity industries that Blackstone dominates and that have donated millions to support Clinton’s presidential bid.
The proposal would require workers and employers to put a percentage of payroll into individual retirement accounts “to be invested well in pooled plans run by professional investment managers,” as James put it. In other words, individual voluntary 401(k)s would be replaced by a single national system, and much of the mandated savings would flow to Wall Street, where companies like Blackstone could earn big fees off the assets. And because of a gap in federal anti-corruption rules, there would be little to prevent the biggest investment contracts from being awarded to the biggest presidential campaign donors.
The “millions of Americans” that proponents are claiming will be helped by this change are the State’s cronies on Wall Street. Me and you? We’ll get fucked on the deal just as we’ve been getting fucked on Social Security. Instead of voluntarily opting to enter into 401(k) we’ll be forced to give money to yet another national retirement scheme. It’ll basically be Social Security II but the money will go to the State’s cronies instead of itself.
Every decree by the State exists to expropriate wealth from the populace. It’s a nice system if you’re either the king or are connected enough to the king to hold a royal title. But it really sucks for us lowly serfs.
Spain is enjoying a window of economic prosperity. This prosperity coincides with the fact the nation hasn’t had a functioning federal government for 300 days now:
MADRID — Spain is about to pass 300 days without a government. But guess what? Few Spaniards seem bothered by that as the country’s economy roars ahead.
Spanish cities are boasting of packed cafes and restaurants, thriving fashion shops and art galleries, plenty of tourists. The overall impression is of a bustling, vibrant country.
So who needs a government?
“I’m not especially worried about it,” said retiree Goyito de Camacho. “I see it on the TV and in the papers but (politicians) are all the same. They’re all scum who don’t care about the people.”
Two inconclusive elections on Dec. 20 and June 26 have left the conservative Popular Party running a caretaker government for the past nine months _ Saturday will be its 300th day. The party won both elections but lacked a majority and now has until Oct. 31 to muster support to form a minority government or Spain will face a third election.
I’m not saying that the economic prosperity is being caused by almost a year without a federal government but I am saying that not having a federal government is an experiment worth trying, especially in this time of economic turmoil. I believe it would be prudent to cancel this year’s election and put the federal government into caretaker mode for a few years so we could see how its absence impacts the economy.
If Spain’s economic boost is being caused by the lack of a federal government there’s no reason the United States shouldn’t enjoy the same. And even if the United States doesn’t enjoy a similar economic boost, canceling the election would really reduce a lot of people’s stress levels. Since stress is detrimental to health we could consider canceling the election a healthcare initiative as well as an economic one.
Without divine intervention it’s obvious that Hillary Clinton will be the next president. Between Trump and Clinton I have no preference but there will be one annoyance with a Clinton presidency: a shortage of everything gun related. A gun store in Las Vegas has sent out an advertisement that has been getting a bit of attention:
The Las Vegas gun store Westside Armory is predicting a Hillary Clinton victory in November, and it has a message for customers: Buy now, because things are going to get expensive.
In an advertisement over the weekend in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Westside Armory said it was holding a “Pre-Hillary Sale” on tactical rifles, warning of a price surge if the Democratic nominee wins the election next month.
“Don’t wait!” the advertisement reads. “Prices will skyrocket after Crooked Hillary gets in.”
While the advertisement is playing off of fear it also isn’t wrong. Panic buying has already started. Most gun stores are sorely depleted of AR-15s, AK-47s, and most of modern rifles. When the election results are announced and Clinton is the new president the panic buying will likely kick into high gear.
And it’s fucking stupid. Clinton won’t even take office until January. She will literally have no presidential powers until then. So panic buying immediately after the election results are announced is stupid. Furthermore, once in office she won’t be able to wave a magic wand and make all of the guns go away. She’ll have to wait for Congress to pass her legislation that she can sign. As of now Congress is split between the two parties so the likelihood of her receiving such legislation is low. At most she can continue Obama’s tactic of demanding that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) tweak regulations to make them more annoying to gun owners and buyers.
What I’m trying to point out is that there’s no reason to start panic buying. But I also know any plea I make will be futile. Fear makes people do stupid things. Once somebody is afraid logic tends to go from moderately useful to mostly useless. And gun owners, by and large, are petrified of Clinton.
I’m sur there are a few gun control advocates laughing their asses off about this. To them I will point out that their cackling is also stupid because the panic buying will flood guns into circulation quickly, which means a lot more grandfathered modern rifles if a ban is ever signed by Clinton. It also means standard capacity magazines, ammunition, and modern rifle parts will flood into circulation. Basically, everything the gun control advocates are trying to prevent comes to fruition during a panic buy.
In the end nobody wins during a panic buy.
I’m starting to think that God approached me one night when I was blackout drunk and asked me if I wanted one wish what would be it and I told him that I wanted the 2016 election to be the biggest shitshow in the history of shitshows and he granted it.
Between Hillary and Trump’s behavior, the willingness of the media to act as a propaganda arm for Hillary, and the collapse of the Republican Party this election has already been a tremendous shitshow. But now I’m kind of wishing that God would slow his roll because so much comedy is happening so quickly. The mess that is the presidential election is starting to spill over into other governmental bodies. A criminal summons has just been issued for Chris Christie:
A judge has signed a criminal summons accusing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of misconduct for his alleged role in the 2013 closure of a bridge.
The case will move to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether an indictment will follow.
The news comes as two former Christie aides are on trial for allegedly closing part of the bridge after a mayor refused to endorse the governor.
Being a member of the elite will ensure that even if Christie is found guilty he won’t suffer a severe punishment. But it’s still amusing to see his sorry ass being hit with a criminal summons. Being a man who has made a career out of thievery he is certainly deserving of such a summons but so is every other politician.
With how crazy this election season is going I can’t wait to see what happens next. Although at this rate I may just die of laughter.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been wrecking havoc on the health insurance market. This is quite a feat considering how chaotic the health insurance market already was before the ACA was passed. But now things have gotten so bad that even the true believers’ faith is coming into question:
Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to many Americans — and that fixing it must be a priority for both state and federal lawmakers next year.
Dayton, who has been among the strongest advocates for the package of health care reforms, said that while the Affordable Care Act has been a success in insuring more people and providing access to insurance for people with preexisting medical conditions, it also has “some serious blemishes and serious deficiencies.”
Speaking to reporters, Dayton said insurance companies have driven up costs in order to participate in the state’s MNsure program — and gridlock in Washington, D.C., has made it difficult to pass reforms that could bring those costs back in line.
What reforms could possible bring the costs down? If you’re an intelligent person you know that the only reform that would accomplish that would be the abolition of government interference in the health insurance market. But that’s not going to happen. Instead I predict that the “reform” that will ultimately end up being passed is single payer health insurance.
Advocates of the ACA are already saying the United States should transition to a single payer model because they foolishly believe that such a model is good. On the surface it looks good because the costs involved in healthcare are hidden from tax payers. They only see it as another tax, which they usually don’t notice because it’s pulled out of their paycheck before they even get it. When costs are hidden from the consumer the product begins to be viewed as free.
Once the United States is on the single payer model healthcare will truly begin to diminish because it will be controlled by a body of people who don’t give a fuck about you. What politicians care about is themselves. And unlike us working stiffs whose personal gain comes from providing goods and services our fellow working stiffs want, politicians derive their profits from stealing your money. When you pay the State for health insurance it’s interested in maximizing its profits. However, unlike a private health insurance provider, the State receives no punishment for doing a bad job. You can’t stop paying your taxes if you’re unhappy with the service you’re receiving. So the State, unlike its private alternatives, has no incentive to do anything other than provide you with a cheap and shitty service. A good example of this is Department of Veteran Affairs, which has been providing lackluster healthcare to veterans for decades.
The only thing you can guarantee when the State admits that a problem exists is that you’re going to get screwed by the solution.
At this point I don’t think there is any serious doubt that Trump is part of Clinton’s campaign. Only an entirely stupid man or a saboteur would run a presidential campaign the way Trump has. Since Trump has made enough of an empire for himself I can’t bring myself to believe that he’s entirely stupid so that leaves the other obvious answer. On top of that he’s been friends with the Clintons for a long time and if you look at the positions he’s historically held they tend to align with the Democratic Party.
When Trump made his “Grab them by the pussy.” comment I was concerned that Clinton may not be getting her money’s worth. It appeared that Trump’s thinking was so deeply imprinted by his Democratic Party beliefs that he wasn’t able to say something that would upset most people within the Republican Party. But while a lot of his supporters did write off his comment as locker room talk or guy talk there was enough public outrage to force the hand of the higher ups within the Republican Party. Those higher ups have started speaking out against Trump and now Trump is delivering the death knell but tearing the Republican Party apart:
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump opened a new front in his war with House Speaker Paul Ryan, accusing the nation’s top elected Republican of being a “very weak and ineffective leader” after Ryan said he would no longer defend the presidential nominee.
“Our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty,” Trump tweeted, referring to a Monday conference call where some House conservatives challenged Ryan over Trump.
He followed that up with a tweet signaling he may take on Republican Party leaders directly while escalating attacks on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as he tries to salvage his embattled campaign: “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”
I’m ashamed that I had any doubts about Clinton’s strategy. Those Clintons know how to play a mean political game and all of the pieces have fallen into place at this point. The Republicans are at war with one another, which gives the mostly united Democratic Party a major advantage not just in the presidential race but also in other races. Merely being tacitly connected to Trump via the Republican Party is proving to be potentially poisonous to candidates. This little trick may end up giving the Democratic Party both the presidency as well as Congress.
All I can say is bravo to Clinton. Her and her good friend Trump have skillfully played the Republican Party like a fine violin.
This election should have been a slam dunk for both parties. The Republican Party nominated its worst candidate and the Democratic Party nominated its worst candidate. The only reason this election hasn’t been a slam dunk for one side is because of how terrible both of the candidates are.
What makes this amusing though is the mental gymnastics each party’s supporters are performing in order to justify supporting their party’s nominee. Republicans are trying to claim that Trump has had a change of heart and is now pro gun and democrats are trying to sweep Hillary’s impressive criminal record under the rug. Although the former were more interesting to me earlier in the election the latter are becoming more interesting to me now. Take the e-mail scandal that Hillary is involved in. She managed to disappear an extensive list of e-mails from her personal server, which she wasn’t supposed to be using. How are her supporters justifying this? By pointing out that none other than George W. Bush did it:
Clinton’s email habits look positively transparent when compared with the subpoena-dodging, email-hiding, private-server-using George W. Bush administration. Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails. This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.
It has come to this. Hillary’s supporters have to compare their candidate to the presidential candidate that has, for 16 years now, been labeled the single most evil individual in history. The only defense Hillary’s supporters have left is pointing out that the Great Satan did it too (but worse because he’s more evil).
I compared this election to a dumpster fire on many occasions but I think that’s an inaccurate analogy. At least a dumpster fire destroys trash. Everybody involved in this election will be free to inflict themselves on us again in another four years. If historical trends continue, the candidates next election will be so deplorable that the only defense their supporters will have is that their candidate hasn’t eaten a baby on live television during prime time.
Two days ago was National Register to Vote Day. It amounted to the Internet asking what I was doing to encourage my friends to register to vote and me responding that I don’t encourage my friends to actively participate in their own subjugation. Voting exists to give the subjects the false belief that they have a say in the actions of their rulers. You can see this by simply looking at the ballot. For each office a ballot will list any running candidates and leave a space if you want to write somebody else in. What isn’t on the ballot is the option to abolish the office. As Noam Chomsky said, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum — even encourage the more critical and dissident views.” You are allowed, at most, to choose your master from a curated list but you can’t choose to do something radical.
The system is rigged. This fact has become so obvious that even the rulers are publicly admitting it:
President Barack Obama warned in a radio interview on Wednesday that Americans who vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November risk putting Donald Trump into the White House, as he sought to blunt momentum for third-party candidates.
“If you don’t vote, that’s a vote for Trump,” Obama said in an interview on the Steve Harvey Morning Show. “If you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump.”
There it is, plain as day. And you know what? He’s right. At least about third-party presidential candidates having no chance of winning (he’s still wrong about not voting or voting for a third-party candidate being a vote for Trump). Third-party candidates exist to create the illusion of choice. Their presence on the ballot legitimizes the State in the eyes of many people who are unhappy with the two major parties by creating the illusion that other alternative exist. In reality your only choice on the ballot is whether you want a republican or a democratic ruler (and in reality even that is a false choice based on how poorly Trump has been polling).
Here’s my question, if you know the game is rigged why bother playing it? You don’t have an actual choice, you have a curated list of choices deemed acceptable by the rulers. And if you don’t live in a swing state you don’t even have that. Here in Minnesota, for example, Hillary is going to win. Any vote that isn’t for her won’t count in any meaningful way. Any vote for her is merely an exercise in electoral masturbation since it serves no purpose other than increasing the magnitude of her victory.
Why waste precious minutes or hours of your life in a meaningless exercise? There are so many more productive things you could do. You could read a book, go to the range, hit the gym, smoke a joint, or trim your toenails. But you won’t gain anything by playing a rigged game.
Government agencies only expand, they never contract. Although the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has failed 95 percent of red team exercises the agency hasn’t been abolished. Instead Congress wants to reward the agency by expanding its scope to guard the trains that practically nobody uses:
Several U.S. senators want the TSA to focus more attention and resources on rail, highway, and marine transportation, which would mean greater security oversight at such places as Amtrak stations and Megabus coach stops. A bipartisan bill introduced Thursday by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) would require the TSA to use a risk-based security model for these transport modes and to budget money based on those risks. It would require a wider use of the agency’s terrorist watch list by train operators and more detailed passenger manifests along with tighter screening of marine employees. The legislation also would increase the TSA’s canine use by as many as 70 dog-handler teams for surface transportation.
Why bother? No terrorist attack has been performed on an Amtrak train. Compared to airliners Amtrak trains are practically ghost towns. They’re low value targets to an attacker looking to rack up as high of a body count as possible. Obviously this isn’t about security so what is it about? My guess is that it’s about police state bullshit.
Remember all those movie scenes where the Nazi or Soviet officer asks passengers boarding a train for their papers? It used to be the thing were we told to fear for obvious reasons. But those scenes are pornography for statists. They show everything statists desire: control, order, and obedience. And they swooped in the second they had an excuse to implement the exact same system for air travelers. When you line up in the security theater line at an airport you hand your papers to a TSA agent who looks them over and decides whether or not your can move forward. If you’re
a Jew or a kulak on the terrorist watch lists your trip ends there and you’ll be escorted away but a thug in a uniform. Now that every is used to kowtowing to government agents demanding to see our papers Congress is ready to expand the TSA’s scope. It won’t surprise me if the nation’s highways are someday littered with surprise TSA checkpoints.
Never ending expansion such as this is why I have a zero tolerance policy towards government. If you give government an inch it will slowly take a mile. The only sane solution is to not have a government at all.