A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Shut Up Slave’ tag

Everything Old is New Again

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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.

Nothing changes.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 9th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Using Data Classification to Hide the Truth

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Continuing on my theme of the State having many layers of protection that hinder any meaningful change, I came across a story about how the Department of Defense used data classification to protect itself from possible budget cuts:

In January of 2015, as the US Department of Defense was chafing under the sequestration of its budget, the Pentagon leadership got some great news. A study prepared by the Defense Business Board (DBB) and a team from the global management consulting giant McKinsey and Company found that even with “moderate” changes to business practices, the DOD could save $125 billion over five years.

[…]

That good news, however, did not fall upon welcoming ears. DOD officials had no real idea how much bureaucratic overhead was costing them, as the costs were never accurately measured. When they saw the numbers from the DBB, the Washington Post reports, some of the Pentagon’s leadership was afraid of a legislative backlash. After DOD officials had complained for years about not having enough money to Congress, the department feared findings would trigger further cuts to the DOD’s budget. So the data for the study was designated as sensitive, and an overview of the report that had already been published to the Defense Business Board website was pulled.

You will never find a department within the State that will willingly submit to a budget cut. In fact, departments will go to great lengths to justify expanding their budgets. Different departments have different strategies to argue against cuts but they all work together to ensure that the State always has a justification to keep cranking up taxes.

I would have liked to see the looks on the faces of those Department of Defense (DoD) bureaucrats when they saw that they could cut $125 billion for their budget. I’m sure they made more than a few implied threats to the people who created the report to discourage them from performing such an investigation in the future. And if the DoD didn’t have a policy to mark any reports arguing in favor of a budget cut as sensitive before, I’m sure it does now.

People talk about changing the system from the inside but that’s not possible when every component of the system has hundreds or thousands of roadblocks preventing changes. Concealing information is one such roadblock. How can somebody make an accurate budget when the information they need is inaccurate or missing? So long as every department only reveals information arguing for the need to increase their budget there is no way anybody within the system is going to be able to make a valid (to the State, not to the people) argument for decreasing taxes.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 7th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Renting Freedom

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Robert Higgs is one of my favorite anarchist philosophers. He has a knack for pointing out the bloody obvious that many people fail to see. In October he wrote a short post pointing out that nobody who is required to pay taxes is truly free:

In the antebellum South, it was not uncommon for slaves to rent themselves from their masters. As a young man, Frederick Douglass did so, for example. His owner gave him leave to go out on his own, to find employment where he could, and to pocket the pay he received for such work, except that each month he had to pay his master a fixed sum for his freedom. Douglass worked in the shipyards of Baltimore, caulking ships. Aside from his rental payment for his own body, he lived as he wished, subject to his income constraint. He found his own housing, acquired his own food and clothing, and so forth, just as a free wage worker would have done.

It strikes me that this practice has much in common with the situation in which an ordinary private person finds himself in any modern country today. The person is in general at liberty to arrange his own employment, spend his earnings as he pleases, acquire his own food and housing, and so on, except that he must pay a rental for this personal liberty, which takes the form of a portion of his earnings that must be paid to the various governments that collect income and employment taxes in the jurisdiction.

People believe that feudalism and slavery are, for the most part, a thing of the past. We’re living under both of those systems but under different names. Instead of being serfs we’re called citizens. Instead of barons, lords, and other royal titles we have sheriff’s, city councils, and other bureaucratic titles. Much like the slaves of the South, we must rent our freedom. We can’t own land, we can only rent it. If we fail to pay our rent on either our freedom or our land one of the royal slave catchers will find us and kidnap us so that a royal judge can decide how best to punish us.

The United States isn’t the freest country on Earth. In fact, it’s one of the more draconian countries because it not only has ridiculous high rents but also because those rents are enforced by a ruthlessly efficient government.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 7th, 2016 at 10:00 am

The Mythical Five Percent

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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.

But you didn’t think the state would make it that easy, did you? This week, as later reported in Ballot Access News, the secretary of state Kim Wyman announced that the L.P. did not in fact qualify.

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.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 5th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Jurisdiction is Dead

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It seems like every cop show or movie involves the protagonist’s very competent and morally upstanding department fighting with an incompetent immoral law enforcement agency over jurisdiction. Eventually this fight is taken before a judge who rules in favor of the protagonist’s department.

Jurisdiction is supposed to curtail the power of any single agency by only granting them a specific area in which they are allowed to operate. That concept has been dying as the federal government has continuously expanded its jurisdiction. But today that concept of jurisdiction died completely:

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden attempted three times to delay the changes, which will take effect on Thursday and allow U.S. judges will be able to issue search warrants that give the FBI the authority to remotely access computers in any jurisdiction, potentially even overseas. His efforts were blocked by Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican.

The changes will allow judges to issue warrants in cases when a suspect uses anonymizing technology to conceal the location of his or her computer or for an investigation into a network of hacked or infected computers, such as a botnet.

Magistrate judges can currently only order searches within the jurisdiction of their court, which is typically limited to a few counties.

This rule change, as most expansions of governmental power are, was ultimately justified by a crime that almost everybody agrees is heinous. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), using a child pornography site it was hosting, ended up hacking computers in 120 countries off of a single warrant so the question of jurisdiction came up. Instead of slapping the FBI down to protect everybody’s civil rights (because these powers start with heinous crimes but end up being using for petty crimes such as cannabis usage) the rules were changed to make any future shenanigans like this completely legal.

Of course, this is nothing new. The State always rewrites rules that it finds inconvenient. This is the reason why the idea of a limited government is a fairytale.

Layers of Protection

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 30th, 2016 at 11:00 am

The Totality of the Situation

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The line separating lethal and nonlethal force seems clear enough. Something that has a high probability of killing somebody, such as a gun or knife, is lethal whereas something that has a low probability of killing somebody, such as a punch to the gut or pepper spray, is nonlethal. But all too often people don’t consider the totality of the situation (a favorite phrase of cop apologists trying to excuse what appears to be obviously egregious behavior by an officer). Consider this story about the pipeline protests in North Dakota:

Tear gas was used to disperse a crowd of 400 protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline late Sunday after clashes that authorities described as a “riot” prompted by “very aggressive” activists.

A law enforcement officer was hit on the head by a thrown rock during the confrontation, Morton County Sheriff’s Office said in an update at 1 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET).

Videos posted to Facebook by activists showed authorities spray a continuous stream of water over demonstrators in below-freezing temperatures but sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller told NBC News that no water cannon were deployed. He said the water was being sprayed from a fire truck to control blazes as they were being set by activists.

[…]

“Officers on the scene are describing protesters’ actions as very aggressive,” the release noted. “In order to keep protesters from crossing the bridge, law enforcement have utilized less-than-lethal means, including launching CS gas.”

In spite of what the police claimed, the videos and images from the protest make it clear that they were deliberately spraying the protesters with water cannons, not putting out fires. Even considering that normally water cannons are considered nonlethal because spraying somebody with a water cannon isn’t likely to kill them. However, at the time of this police action temperatures in the area were below freezing and anybody who lives up here in the northern states knows that hypothermia can become lethal quickly.

If we’re supposed to consider the “totality of the situation” when police officers do something seemingly terrible then police officers should be held to the same standard. Driving out firetrucks with the intention of spraying down protesters in below freezing weather is lethal force. The officers might as well have opened fire with rifles. They certainly don’t have grounds to claim they were utilizing less-than-lethal means.

Voting Won’t Fix This

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Zero tolerance policies are one of those topics no candidates want to touch. Another policy no candidates want to touch are permits. Permits, like the income tax, started off as a requirement that only effected a handful of people but quickly ballooned into effecting everybody. At first major projects required permits. If you wanted to build a building, for example, you needed to acquire a permit from the city. Today almost everything requires a permit. And if you don’t obtain a government mandated permit you can end up facing time in a cage:

Reulas, who hails from Stockton, California, is part of an informal potluck group on Facebook, where people who like to cook can trade recipes, cooking tips, and occasionally dishes. It’s not uncommon for a someone to offer a small amount of money for an equally small amount of food, says Reulas.

According to Fox 40, someone in the Facebook group offered to buy a plate of Ruelas’s signature ceviche, a Mexican seafood fish. That person was an undercover cop carrying out a sting: twelve potluck participants were arrested for selling food without a permit.

Reulas refused to plead guilty and accept a lesser sentence—probation—so her case is headed to trial.

Good on Reulas for refusing the plea deal. If more people opted to fight their cases the court system would quickly be overflowing with cases and a denial of service attack against the courts would effectively be underway. But the fact remains that by refusing to take the plea deal she faces the risk of being found guilty and thrown into a cage for the crime of selling food.

When you go to cast you vote today remember that these seemingly minor issues aren’t being addressed by candidates even though they are negatively impacting the lives of people across the country. Sure, one or two city council members might pay a bit of lip service to reducing the number of permits required within their city but by and large no candidates are even whispering about the burden of needing permits for even the most minor activities. And there’s no motivation for them to do so because the State rakes in a ton of cash off of permits.

No matter how hard you vote today nothing will change. A few figureheads will be swapped around but the machinations of leviathan won’t be altered.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 8th, 2016 at 11:00 am

This One Weird Thing No Candidate Will Fix

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If you’re heading to the polls today take a moment to remember exactly what your vote will change, nothing. People keep talking about the importance of this election because of guns rights, gay rights, the Supreme Court and so on and so fourth. But nobody seems to be addressing the epidemic of ridiculous laws and policies. For example, no candidate, as far as I know, has come out against zero tolerance policies in public schools, which are fucking kids’ lives up:

Nine elementary school kids in South Carolina have been suspended for violating a school drug policy because they were caught with so-called “happy crack,” a mixture of Kool-Aid and sugar that is not actually illicit but, simply by resembling an illicit substance, violates school policy.

WYFF4 reports that their punishment was reduced from expulsion to suspension, though privacy laws prevent the school from disclosing whether students, who are around age 10, were distributing or simply eating the powder.

While stories like this may seem minor they are important illustrations of the mountain of little laws and policies that punish innocent people every day. In this case the kids’ only crime was possessing something that kind of looks like an illicit substance just as kids before them have been punished for eating a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun shape. These zero tolerance policies are punishing kids who have literally done nothing wrong yet no candidates that I’m aware of have brought up the issue as part of their campaigning.

Go ahead and vote. Vote really hard. But realize that your vote won’t actually change anything. You’ll still be buried under a mountain of stupid laws and policies tomorrow regardless of who takes the presidency, Congress, or your local city council.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 8th, 2016 at 10:30 am

The Slave Suggestion Box Doesn’t Matter

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Voting, when you boil it down, is nothing more than a slave suggestion box. From a curated list of approved options we’re granted the privilege of submitting our opinion. But what happens when the slaves submit the wrong suggestion? That’s when the machinations of the court systems kick in. The slaves in the United Kingdom were given the option of voting to secede from the European Union and they voted to do so. That turned out to be the wrong way to vote so the courts have nullified their suggestion:

LONDON — The British government’s plan for leaving the European Union was thrown into uncertainty on Thursday after the High Court ruled that Parliament must give its approval before the process can begin.

The court’s decision seemed likely to slow — but not halt — the British withdrawal from the bloc, a step approved by nearly 52 percent of voters in a June referendum.

Democracy is an illusion upheld only as long as the slaves vote the way their masters want. When it looks like the slaves will vote the wrong way the rules are either changed or the courts are brought in to invalidate the vote. Here in the United States, for example, most states have implemented various restrictions on who can appear on an official ballot or is considered an acceptable write-in candidate. These rules exist to both prevent the slaves from voting for somebody who isn’t approved by their masters and to maintain the illusion that they can vote for an unapproved master.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 4th, 2016 at 10:00 am