Archive for February, 2015
For some time now Gabrielle Giffords has been one of the more vocal advocates of gun control. While I don’t agree with her opinion I do feel she has a justifiable reason to hold it since she was shot in the head during a failed assassination attempt. At least I felt that she had a justifiable reason until today. The Navy just launched a new warship named the USS Gabrielle Giffords:
A Navy warship named for the former Arizona congresswoman hit the water for the first time Thursday, Giffords announced on Twitter.
The U.S.S. Gabrielle Giffords entered the river outside Austal Shipbuilding in Mobile, Ala., as workers placed finishing touches before its August launch, a picture showed.
This ship has a pretty decent array of weaponry including a 57mm cannon and four .50 caliber guns. Obviously, as a woman who takes a stern stance against violence, Giffords is outraged by the fact that her name is attached to a war machine, right? It doesn’t appear so:
— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) February 26, 2015
I guess guns are bad unless they can take out a sizable chunk of real estate with a single shell. Hypocrisy like this really annoys me. As somebody who was the victim of a politically motivated attack I would think Giffords would take a stand against the primary use of naval warships, politically motivated attacks. If I were in her position, heck even without being in her position, I would be offended to have a warship named after me.
Continuing on the theme of Republicans and stupidity we have a perfect example from presidential hopeful, Scott Walker. Walker seems to be loved by Republicans everywhere, which is how you know he’s a terrible human being. But he’s not just terrible, he’s tough:
Similarly, Walker believes his stance against unions in Wisconsin would be a signal of toughness to Islamic jihadists and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
I’m sure both the Islamic State and Putin are quaking in their boots at the prospect of the United States being run by a man who can sign some legislation. After all, taking on peaceful protesters is the same thing as taking on a violent aggressor!
Walker is just like all of those Internet tough guys. He talks a big game but if you ever encounter him in real life I’d shit his pants before he’s go through with all of this threats against you and your mother.
People, usually those who lean more towards the right side of the American political spectrum, like to say that the Democratic Party is the stupid party and the Republican Party is the stupid party. Well there is more than one reason they call it the stupid party. Not only is it politically incompetent but it has a lot of members who are scientifically ignorant. Take Vito Barbieri for instance:
During a debate over an anti-abortion bill, a Republican lawmaker in Idaho asked Monday whether women can just swallow a tiny camera in order to conduct a gynecological exam remotely with a doctor.
Can a woman swallow a camera to conduct a gynecological exam? Really? That was a question he asked in an actual debate? Holy fuck. That’s anatomy 101. High school students learn about this shit. How did this man live long enough to be a politician without understanding the very simple fact that the uterus isn’t part of the digestive system?
Republicans often complain that they’re treated unfairly but when you have so many members that are so stupid you can’t avoid being made fun off.
Eddie Ray Routh, the man who murdered Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison:
The case went to the jury on Tuesday after a prosecutor said in his closing arguments that Routh, 27, acted coldly and deliberately in a deadly ambush of the pair at a Texas gun range in February 2013.
Only two and a half hours later, Routh was back in the courtroom, standing motionless as district judge Jason Cashon informed him that after their deliberations – including eating dinner and picking a foreperson – the jury of 10 women and two men had unanimously found him guilty of capital murder for killing the subject of the blockbuster film American Sniper and his friend on a rural shooting range a little over two years ago.
I can’t help by think that this case may have gone differently if one of the victims hadn’t been elevated to near godhood by a successful book and movie. Let’s review the events that lead up to the murder. Kyle and Littlefield took Routh to the shooting range supposedly to help him with his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the linked story Kyle referred to Routh as being “straight-up nuts”. So Kyle and Littlefield gave a weapon to a man they knew suffered from mental disorder in an environment that has enough elements to simulate a battlefield that it could trigger somebody suffering from combat-related PTSD. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they hold some responsibility for what happened to them.
This is an especially important thing to note as the gun rights community begins to bang on the mental health drum. It’s probably not a wise idea to hand a person you know to have a mental illness that could result in violent behavior a weapon. If you are going to do so then you probably should watch that person like a hawk at all times.
I honestly believe giving this man life in prison is overboard. My opinion may differ if he wasn’t put into the environment by individuals who knew he suffered from a mental illness that could result in violent behavior. But he was put into that environment and the people who put him there knew he suffered from PTSD.
But I don’t think any of this mattered the second Kyle was elevated to the status of hero and received his own day of recognition in the very state that the trail was taking place in.
Ron Paul provided libertarians a potential political strategy. The idea was simple, overwhelm the Republican Party with libertarians and use it to spread libertarian ideals. Although I know I will receive protests from libertarians still participating in Republican politics I feel safe in saying that this strategy has not only failed but has backfired miserably. By associating libertarianism and Republican politics the gateway (to Hell) was opened for social conservatives to filter into libertarian groups. While social conservatives have always been involved in libertarianism I don’t believe it was to the extent that they are now. Furthermore the public association of libertarianism and the Republican Party wasn’t there.
I don’t blame Ron Paul or libertarians who entered Republican politics (of which, regretfully, I was one of). There was no way to know how the strategy would work out until it was tried. However the toll paid for the mistake has been high. Libertarianism is primarily concerned with the principle of non-aggression. Non-aggression leads to voluntary association. Voluntary association simply means any individual or group of individuals is free to associate or not associate with any individual or group of individuals they choose. You can begin to see why social conservatives find libertarianism appealing. It is a philosophy that allows them to associate with their echo chamber while discriminating against anybody they dislike.
Unfortunately the influx of social conservatives has also tainted libertarianism with racism, homophobia, transphobia, religious discrimination, and other forms of bigotry. None of these are inherit in libertarianism but neither are they prevented. But when somebody outside of libertarianism sees a self-proclaimed libertarian declaring Muslims the enemy of all humanity or homosexuals sinners deserving of eternal damnation that reflects poorly on those of us who aren’t bigoted assholes. This is made worse by the public connection between libertarianism and the Republican Party, which has a notable history of bigotry.
The effect of this is that people often assume I’m a bigot when I say that I’m a libertarian. It pains me that I often have to clarify that I don’t discriminate against Muslims, homosexuals, bisexuals, or transgender individuals when I mention that I’m a libertarian.
Now that I’ve bitched publicly about the damage I believe social conservatives have done to libertarianism I want to make a proposal. Since I’m a libertarian this proposal is made with the understanding that individuals are free to ignore it without consequence. But I would like to see libertarians utilize voluntary association to disassociate with people who express bigoted ideals and loudly shout them down when they start spewing their ignorant bullshit. In other words make it well known that they’re not welcome in libertarian circles. This is the only way I see libertarianism being able to divorce itself from the filth that social conservative have infested it with.
While voluntary association certainly allows bigots to be bigots that shouldn’t be the main draw. The main draw of voluntary association should be the absence of coercion.
TORONTO — Google is cracking down on adult content posted to its popular Blogger service.
The company started notifying users on Monday that they have until March 23 to delete “images and video that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity.”
Google said it will not delete existing blogs that haven’t been purged of explicit content by March 23 but warned it will set them to “private” — meaning only the user and people with whom he/she has directly shared the blog will be able to view it.
I don’t host any adult content on my site but I do discuss firearms, anarchism, and other subjects that can be unpopular with many companies. It isn’t impossible to imagine a host decided it doesn’t want to allow anybody to use its service to discuss weapons or how terrible statism is. But since I host this site on my own server I don’t have to worry about such bullshit!
I’m constantly reminded by self-proclaimed patriots that the United States is the freest goddamn country on Earth. While they admit things have gone downhill since Ronald Reagan blessed this fine country with more freedom than 1776, they point out that we don’t have thuggish police killing people at random or secret facilities where citizens are held without charge or access to a lawyer. In other words they are totally divorced from reality (which should have been obvious when they started claiming Reagan was some kind of paragon of freedom). Police officers killing people at random is nothing new in this country but now we know that one department does run an actual black site:
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
This wonderful black site allows the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to keep detainees off of the books, beat detainees, and deny detainees their privilege to legal council. It also provides the CPD a place to cut off people from their friends and family members.
The article is lengthy and contains numerous accounts of abuse and even one death. But the more worrisome thing about this story is that if the CPD have one of these black sites you can be assured other domestic police departments are operating similar black sites.
Living in “a nation of law” is supposed to provide comfort to us. Unfortunately the laws on the books grant law enforcers a great deal of leeway in how they act and the system is designed to shield law enforcement officers form liability when they perform misdeeds. When the laws of a nation are stacked against the people the phrase “a nation of laws” is entirely meaningless. And since statism grants a monopoly on creating laws to a handful of individuals you can ensure that anywhere a state exists the legal system will be stacked against the people.
Stephan Kinsella, an excellent libertarian thinker to whom I cannot even hold a candle to, made a quick post where he declared Hans-Herman Hoppe the first significant thinker to get libertarianism totally right. In the post Samuel Edward Konkin III received an honorable mention:
One of the people I’m learning a bit more about is Sam Konkin III. From everything I know about him he was pretty solid on everything—the state, IP, everything. He was in fact one of the pioneers of the modern anti-IP movement. However, he was more of a minor figure and did not have a fully fleshed out political theory that I am aware of. He is known for “agorism” and his fairly brief (but profound and correct and perspicacious) comments on IP, but ….
But he didn’t quite top Hoppe in Kinsella’s opinion. Personally I rank Konkin at the top of my list of libertarian thinkers. There are several reasons for this. He was decidedly anti-state. If I remember correctly he lived in the United States illegally and avoided having any legal source of income so he didn’t have to pay income taxes. That’s the type of consistency that is rare to come by. More importantly though Konkin managed something that few well-known libertarians have managed: he described an entire philosophy in a few short essays.
Many people mistakenly believe that Konkin didn’t have a fully fleshed out political theory but I believe he did a better job of fleshing out a libertarian philosophy than almost anybody else. Libertarianism, when you really boil it down, tends to advocate the principle of non-aggression. Where people go from there differs wildly but the foundation is simple. Konkin, by not writing lengthy books explaining a view of the One True Libertarian Theory, demonstrated he understood something about libertarianism that few others did: libertarianism shouldn’t try to describe the single proper society.
Liberty implies individuals having the freedom to form whatever group they desire with the understanding that members are allowed to come and go as they please. Non-aggression ultimately means one person cannot coerce another person into participation. If a group of individuals want to form a collective where all goods are commonly owned they should be free to do so. Any individual in that group should be free to leave if they so desire as well. While collective ownership is almost always scoffed at by libertarians it isn’t incompatible with non-aggression so long as the people participating in the collective are doing so voluntarily.
Konkin identified the opponent of libertarianism and, through his advocacy of agorism, proposed a means of destroying it using a libertarian strategy: voluntary association. By participating in “black” markets individuals can associate with one another on their terms and keep resources out of the hands of the state. It’s a simple strategy that doesn’t need volumes of material to explain. Furthermore Konkin didn’t waste time telling everybody how to do agorism in minute detail because that really is up to the individuals participating in the “black” market.
Mises wasn’t an anarchist and Rothbard and Hoppe both invested a lot of time telling people what the One Truth Libertarian Theory was. Konkin briefly described libertarianism and left people to explore the potential societies that can arise when people are allowed to associate voluntarily. In other words Konkin basically took market anarchism to its logical extent by letting markets determine what kind of associations will succeed and what kinds will fail.
The opinion of an Alabama Supreme Court justice has caused a minor amount of jimmies to get rustled. Justice Glenn Murdock opined that allowing same-sex marriage to continue in Alabama could result in all marriages behind banned in the state. Needless to say this has the writers over at Think Progress very upset:
Thus, according to Murdock, if gay couples and straight couples must enjoy the exact same marriage rights under the Constitution, the proper remedy might be to deny those rights to everyone, rather than extending them to same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike.
In the unlikely event that a majority of the state supreme court adopts this approach, that could cause a largely academic matter that has divided federal judges to suddenly become hugely important. Though the overwhelming majority of federal judges to consider the question after the Supreme Court’s most recent gay rights decision in 2013 agree that the Constitution does not permit anti-gay marriage discrimination, these judges have split on rationale. Some judges have held that denying equal marriage rights to gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals deprives them of their right to equality under the law; while others have held that denying such rights to these individuals violates a “fundamental right” to marry. (Other judges have embraced both rationales in favor of marriage equality, or they’ve embraced a hybrid of the two rationales.)
According to the author’s view denying anybody the ability to marry would be the denial of the right to marriage. I actually propose an alternate view. Rights are supposed to be acts individuals can partake in freely. Privileges, on the other hand, are acts individuals can partake in so long as they have permission to do so. This means any act the state interferes with becomes a privilege instead of a right. Marriage, by being regulated by the state, is today a privilege that one must seek approval from the state to partake in.
Progressives and libertarians agree that people should be free to marry who they want. Where the two groups disagree is how such a freedom can exist. According to progressives the freedom to marry can only exist if the state allows it to. Libertarians believe that the freedom to marry can only exist if the state is entirely divorced (excuse the pun) from the process. The difference between the two beliefs is stark. If the state is involved then it has the power to grant or deny marriages. Currently the fight for marriage equality focuses on same-sex couples. However granting same-sex couples the privilege to marry doesn’t necessarily grant, say, polyamorous groups the privilege to marry. Meanwhile divorcing the state from marriage would mean the institution is up to individuals to define so same-sex couples and polyamorous groups would both be free to declare themselves married.
By denying all marriages Alabama could create a de facto environment where state approval of marriage is no longer sought and therefore individuals would be more apt to declare themselves married on their own terms. In my opinion far more would be accomplished if Alabama denied all marriage licenses than if it approve heterosexual and homosexual couples to get married. The former would encourage people to ignore the state whereas the latter would require, say, polyamorous groups to drudge through a long legal fight to seek permission to get married.
I haven’t posted any Middle Eastern metal in a while and I feel if I don’t do so soon I may lose my terrorist creds (because enjoying anything Middle Eastern in this country is basically the same as terrorism these days). To ensure I meet my quota I’m going to post a song from Orphaned Land. This song is a bit slower but does pick up the pace: