A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for December, 2017

Goodby Net Neutrality. Almost Everybody Awaits Your Return.

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Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission Fascist Communications Club (FCC) voted to strip Internet Service Providers (ISP) of their Title II status:

The Federal Communications Commission voted today to deregulate the broadband industry and eliminate net neutrality rules that prohibit Internet service providers from blocking and throttling Internet traffic.

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Going forward, home Internet providers and mobile carriers will be bound not by strict net neutrality rules but by whatever promises they choose to make. ISPs will be allowed to block or throttle Internet traffic or offer priority to websites and online services in exchange for payment.

Based on the hysteria that followed the vote, I’m surprised that the Internet didn’t turn off immediately. Apparently Title II status was the only thing keeping the Internet going and without it the Internet is certain to die.

If you’re one of the people who is panicking over this, remember two things. First, Title II status was only granted to ISPs under the last administration, which means that the Internet thrived for a long time without it. The absence of Title II status isn’t going to kill the Internet. Second, the removal of Title II status from ISPs is temporary. As soon as the current administration is replaced with a new one the possibility of Title II status being restored will increase. As I’ve been saying throughout this debate the real problem is precisely the fact that the FCC has the power to grant to remove Title II status. Until that power is taken away from the FCC the battle for net neutrality will continue perpetually.

I also want to take a moment to dispel some myths that libertarians have allowed themselves to believe because this blog is in part about libertarianism. Many libertarians have been celebrating the FCC’s decision because they mistakenly believe that this is the removal of government regulation on the Internet. Removal of government regulation would be stripping the FCC of its power to arbitrarily decide whether or not ISPs have Title II status. The FCC voting one way or another is not an exercise in removing government regulation.

Another myth that libertarians have allowed themselves to believe is that this vote restores a free market, at least in part, to the Internet. After all, if your ISP starts throttling or blocking traffic you can just take your money elsewhere, right? Wrong. One of the reasons so many people are freaking out about the end of net neutrality is because a handful of ISPs hold monopolies or near monopolies in most areas. This lack of competition comes to us thanks to government regulations on the local, state, and federal levels. However, it must be acknowledged because few people can vote with their money if their ISP starts doing something they don’t like. There’s a reason Comcast is simultaneously one of the most hated companies in the United States and a thriving business.

TL;DR: Follow the wonderful words printed on every copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: don’t panic. At the same time, don’t celebrate either.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 15th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The United States Armed ISIS

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Anybody familiar with the United States’ foreign policy won’t be surprised to learn that the country has been simultaneously fighting and arming Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS):

WASHINGTON — Sophisticated weapons the U.S. military secretly provided to Syrian rebels quickly fell into the hands of the Islamic State, a study released Thursday disclosed.

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The arms included anti-tank weapons purchased by the United States that ended up in possession of the Islamic State within two months of leaving the factory, according to the study by Conflict Armament Research, an organization that tracks arms shipments. The study was funded by the European Union and German government.

Efforts by the United States and other countries to supply weapons to rebel groups “have significantly augmented the quantity and quality of weapons available to (Islamic State) forces,” the report concluded.

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Investigators were unable to determine whether ISIS captured the weapons on the battlefield or whether the rebels sold or gave the arms to the terror group.

This is par for the course. The United States’ foreign policy can be summed up as picking sides in wars where all sides are assholes. Vietnam was probably the most famous illustration of this. If you read about the Vietnam War, you quickly realize that South Vietnam, the United States’ ally, wasn’t a beacon of freedom and democracy fighting against the evils of communism. The South Vietnamese government was absolutely atrocious. But that’s not to say that the North Vietnamese government was better. Both sides were committing atrocities at an impressive rate.

It seems like the only criteria the United States uses to determine it allies is whether or not they’re enemies of their enemies. The Syrian rebels may not have been angels but they were enemies of ISIS and that was a good enough reason for the United States to arm them. And either because they lost some battles or because they wanted to make some cash the weapons provided to them ended up in the hands of ISIS.

Libertarians tend to oppose the United States’ foreign policy because it’s interventionist. But it’s actually worse. Not only is the United States interventionist but it’s also incompetent at intervening. For example, instead of using its own forces to intervene it often chooses proxies, which are chosen for the simple fact that they’re an enemy of an enemy. When a proxy is chosen it’s given weapons. Oftentimes members of the chosen proxy defect and take weapons with them. Other times the proxy changes its alliance entirely and joins its former opponent. Sometimes the chosen proxy is wiped out and the arms it was given are taken by the victor as spoils of war. Regardless of the reason the weapons end up in the hands of the United States’ chosen enemy, its soldiers and allies get to face those weapons.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 15th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Getting Away with Murder

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While everybody was losing their shit over the Federal Fascist Communications Club’s (FCC) vote on net neutrality the Hennepin County attorney, Mike Freeman, announced that Officer Noor will almost certainly get away with the murder of Justine Damond:

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Wednesday that he does not yet have enough evidence to file charges against a Minneapolis police officer in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, blaming investigators who “haven’t done their job.”

Freeman made the comments during a union event after being confronted by activists, who recorded the interaction. They asked Freeman why it has taken so long for him to decide if Officer Mohamed Noor was justified in shooting and killing Damond on July 15.

“Fair question. I’ve got to have the evidence, and I don’t have it yet,” Freeman responded. “Let me just say it’s not my fault. So if it isn’t my fault, who didn’t do their job? Investigators. They don’t work for me. They haven’t done their job.”

Isn’t it nice when government agencies can work together to cover up the wicked deeds of a law enforcer? Freeman can blame the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for not doing a proper investigation while the BCA will likely be able to claim that it did a thorough investigation and that Freedom should have pressed charges but didn’t. In that way Officer Noor can avoid any consequences for his actions while both parties can divert blame.

Imagine if the perpetrator in this case didn’t have a badge. If you or I had shot Justine under the same circumstances that Officer Noor did, we would almost certainly be brought up on charges because we would be unable to articulate why we felt our lives were in immediate danger. When those of us without badges shoot somebody it’s automatically a crime and the only question is whether or not that crime was justified. When an individual with a badge shoots somebody it’s automatically justified unless another member of the government is willing and able to prove otherwise.

None of this should come as a surprise though. Double standards are the norm in the “freest country on Earth.”

Written by Christopher Burg

December 15th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Without Government Who Would Terrorize the Children

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I realize that most law enforcers receive barely any defensive tactics training and that makes them frightened little bitches when having to go hands on. However, this day and age I would think that law enforcer departments would put a significant amount of time into training their officers how to not look like goddamn fools on camera. But they apparently don’t so we get videos of armed law enforcement officers terrorizing and handcuffing 11-year-old girls:

The video released by police picked up as Honestie approached a pair of officers with her arms raised. One pointed a gun at her.

She appeared to be coming too fast for the officer’s liking: He began to tell her to put her hands on her head, then instructed her to turn around and walk backward toward him.

Her mother, in the background, yelled for the officers to stop: “That is my child!” she screamed. “She’s 11 years old.”

The moment intensified when Honestie reached the officers. One told her to “put your right hand behind your back” and ratcheted open a pair of handcuffs.

Honestie began whining, then screaming in terror: “No. No. No! No!”

One of the officers handcuffing her tried to calm her: “You’re not going to jail or anything,” but the screams continued as the video clip ended.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Honestie told Grand Rapids Fox affiliate WXMI after the incident. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve never got in trouble by the Grand Rapids Police. I used to want to be a Grand Rapids police officer, but ever since that happened, I want nothing to do with them.”

If an 11-year-old girl who hasn’t even shown hostile intentions scares the shit out of you, you shouldn’t be in a position of authority over anybody. If you’re the type of person who receives a power trip from terrorizing 11-year-olds, you’re a shitty human being and absolutely shouldn’t be in a position of authority over anybody. And if you’re too stupid to think that acting like this on camera won’t turn into a public relations nightmare, you’re too stupid to be in a position of authority over anybody.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 14th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Returning to the Moon

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Trump recently announced that the United States will return to the moon:

President Donald Trump signed his administration’s first space policy directive yesterday (Dec. 11), which formally directs NASA to focus on returning humans to the moon.

But the question remains, how will the United States return to the moon without Nazi scientists?

I thought it would be fun to use this announcement to segue into an interesting footnote in history. The interesting parts of history are too often skipped over in school so while most people are familiar with the early space program many people are unaware that the space program received a significant boost from Operation Paperclip. Operation Paperclip was a secret United States program to recruit Nazi scientists after World War II. There was a brain race at the end of the war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Both sides wanted to claim as many Nazi scientists as possible. Many of those claimed by the United States worked in rocketry and aeronautics and they found their way into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

This interesting tidbit of history has lead to some fun jokes. For example, Sputnik is often referred to the time where, “Their Nazi scientists outdid our Nazi scientists.” It also lead to some embarrassing situations such as the Strughold Award, an award named after the pioneer of space medicine that was the highest award that could be granted by the Space Medicine Association, being retired when the Wall Street Journal unveiled that Strughold was a Nazi scientist.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Posted in News You Need to Know

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A Politician Who Solved a Problem

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There is apparently only 31 grams of the element astatine on Earth, making it one of the rarest elements on the planet. Rarer still is the politician who actually solves a problem. But now we can say that one such politician existed. In 2013 a Bible thumping holier than thou preacher sexually assaulted a teenager girl. She reported her assault to the police but they did nothing. Yesterday that assaulter was killed by a politician:

Dan Johnson, a Republican politician in Kentucky who was accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl, has died in an apparent suicide.

It’s too bad Johnson first created the problem that he solved. Breaking somebody’s leg then handing them a crutch doesn’t make one a hero.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 14th, 2017 at 10:00 am

The Government Can’t Even Be Trusted to Carve Up Cadavers

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People often ask me if there’s something innocuous enough that I’d be willing to let government do it. I always say no because if an entity can’t even be trusted to carve up cadavers what can you trust it with?

Two San Joaquin County, Calif., medical examiners have resigned in the past two weeks, alleging that Sheriff-Coroner Steve Moore pressured them to change their autopsy results for deaths in police custody. In other instances also involving deaths at the hands of police, they say, the sheriff ignored their conclusions completely.

Bennet Omalu, the chief medical examiner for the county, tendered his resignation on Nov. 28, as did a colleague, Susan Parson. (Notable aside: Omalu is the medical examiner who exposed the degenerative brain condition found in many former NFL players and was the inspiration for the movie “Concussion.”) Omalu was hired in 2007 to help professionalize and modernize the county medical examiner’s office. In his resignation letter, he said that Moore “has always made calculated attempts to control me as a physician and influence my professional judgement.”

Government coroners suffer the same conflict of interest as crime labs. In the case of the former the government is the coroner’s employer and in the case of the latter the government is the crime labs primary (and oftentimes only) customer. That being the case they have a vested interest in pleasing the government and oftentimes that is accomplished by helping it gets a conviction even if the accused party is innocent.

What makes the position of coroner especially bad is that it is often an elected position:

As it turns out, this is a fun little artifact of the coroner system, which the United States inherited from Britain. Coroners are often confused with medical examiners, but they are two very different positions, and they rarely overlap. A medical examiner is a doctor who performs autopsies after suspicious deaths. The county coroner is an elected position. In most states, you don’t need any medical training, police training or crime investigation training to run for the office. There are only a few states where the coroner must be a physician, and even in those states there’s a big loophole — if no doctor wants the office, anyone can run for it.

So the coroner is often a position filled by an individual who isn’t qualified to be a medical examiner tasked with the job of a medical examiner and influenced by other elements of the government to determine causes of death in a manner favorable to their agenda. What could possibly go wrong?

This is another example of the layers of redundancy built into the State. If somebody questions the accuracy of a law enforcer report on an incident that resulted in a death, that law enforcer can fall back on a coroner report that they helped write by manipulating the coroner. It provides “third-party” verification of the law enforcer’s story so everybody can wash their hands of the mess and move on to other things.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 13th, 2017 at 11:00 am

This One Weird Trick to Make Alabamans Vote Blue

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Last night America learned the one weird trick to make Alabamans vote blue. That trick is having the Republican Party choose a kiddy diddler as its candidate:

Doug Jones has become the first Democrat in 25 years to win a US Senate seat for Alabama, after a bitter campaign against Republican Roy Moore.

His unexpected victory deals a blow to President Donald Trump, who backed Mr Moore, and narrows the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49.

Of course this one weird trick barely works:

Mr Jones won with 49.9% of the vote, to Mr Moore’s 48.4%. All votes from precincts around the state have been counted.

The margin of victory is well above the half a percentage point which would have triggered a recount.

Considering how big of a piece of shit Moore is, this race should have been a slam drunk for the Democratic Party. Its victory should have required nothing more than an option on the ballot that said, “Not Moore.” However, its candidate won by a narrow margin. Team loyalty can run very strongly in politics even when a team picks an absolutely deplorable candidate.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 13th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Posted in Politics

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Almost Utopia

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The Venezuelan government has announced that opposition parties will be banned from the 2018 election:

Venezuela’s President, Nicolás Maduro, says the country’s main opposition parties are banned from taking part in next year’s presidential election.

He said only parties which took part in Sunday’s mayoral polls would be able to contest the presidency.

Leaders from the Justice First, Popular Will and Democratic Action parties boycotted the vote because they said the electoral system was biased.

President Maduro insists the Venezuelan system is entirely trustworthy.

In a speech on Sunday, he said the opposition parties had “disappeared from the political map”.

“A party that has not participated today and has called for the boycott of the elections can’t participate anymore,” he said.

By my calculations Venezuela is just a couple of steps away from creating a socialist utopia!

Eliminating opposition parties is nothing new for democratic nations. It’s especially common in socialist nations where democracy is promoted the most. While socialists tend to talk a big game when it comes to democracy, the devil is in the details and while socialist nations often let the proles vote they only let them vote for parties that push a socialist agenda. Oftentimes the number of approved parties is whittled down to one so, while the proles do get to vote, there is only one candidate for any position to vote for (which is where Venezuela is probably heading).

Written by Christopher Burg

December 13th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Mutual Aid in the Real World

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As an opponent of statism I’m often confronted with statists who want to know where welfare would come from without a government. Explaining how mutual aid has worked before governments involved themselves in the industry doesn’t appease them because they can simply write such examples off as archaic solutions that cannot work in the modern world. I therefore keep my eyes open for examples of mutual aid being practiced in the modern world.

I’ve been reading Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles. So far it has been a really good overview of modern history in various African countries. The opening of the chapter on Senegal introduced a fascinating Islamic Sufi order. From pages 255-256:

In 1895 the Senegalese Islamic mystic and poet Cheikh Amadu Bamba Mbacke got out of the boat that was taking him to exile in Gabon and, kneeling on a mat that appeared miraculously in the water, prayed to Allah. Then he walked across the water back to Senegal and founded a global African trading company based on Islamic principles. Those who work for it are known as Mourides. In any city in the world today, if an African street trader offers you jewellery, belts or bags, he is almost certainly a Mouride, a follow of Amadu Bamba.

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The movement he founded is based on three rules: follow God, work and provoke no-one.

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Later his followers founded dahiras, prayer circles where they could meet, socialize and read the Koran and Amadu Bamba’s poems. They were also required to pay a subscription to help follow members in trouble and to contribute to the expenses of the whole movement and its leader.

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For rural people arriving in town for the first time, the dahira provides a base and a network. The subscription enables new members to find accommodations and work. If one of their number dies, it gives money to bring the body home for burial.

Furthermore, taxes aren’t paid in the city where the order was founded, an autonomous zone in Senegal. From pages 257-258:

One shopkeeper in a long robe and Muslim kufi, selling music CDs and tapes, tells me that he came here and joined the Mouride because no-on pays taxes in Tourba. ‘Touba is not part of the state,’ he says.

If there is a problem that requires money the Marabout calls a committee and they ask everyone to contribute. And immediately everyone gives, it’s called Adiya. They give because they follow the Marabout but also because if they give, people know the road will be fixed and the water will run again. This is not like Dakar … It’s all one family here. If you believe in the father, you believe in his sons. Then there is the money you pay for the poor here — two and a half percent of your profit, so no-one suffers.

Entrepreneurs who have setup a network of mutual aid to help other members of their entrepreneurial order? And membership in the order is voluntary? I’ve been told that such a thing is impossible.

I’m not claiming that Tourban is an anarchist utopia or that the Mouride are anarchists. But they are practicing a way of life that provides the commodities most people ascribe to statism without statism. The Mouride are demonstrating today that there is more than one solution to the problems statists mistakenly believe can only be solved by governments.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 12th, 2017 at 11:00 am