A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Watching the Facade Chip Away

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There are many parallels that can be drawn between the United States and pretty much every other major empire throughout history. One of the most common parallels to make, and one I myself often like to make, is the commonality that the United States shares with ancient Rome (which makes sense since the United States was established with Rome in mind).

Early Roman politicians were the quintessential holier than thou characters. Almost everything they did was meant to create an image that they were pious, entirely dedicated to Roman law, and only had the best interests of Rome in mind. As Rome rose in prominence the facade those politicians built began to chip away. The most obvious illustration of this breakdown, in my opinion, was the fate of Tiberius Gracchus. Gracchus fought for and eventually managed to pass legislation that would redistribute much of the public land that was being monopolized but Rome’s rich and powerful to the underdogs. While he used every dirty trick in the book to get his land reforms passed, he did follow the letter of the law more or less (his opponents consider his actions illegal but Roman law, like United States law, had a lot of gray area). But redistributing public land wasn’t a popular idea with the senators who were, not necessarily legally mind you, holding it so they decided to set aside their masks of dedication to Roman Law and publicly clubbed Tiberius to death. What made this assassination a real turning point was that it didn’t appear to be a career killer for most of the involved senators. The facade of political piety to Roman law was torn down and few of the demolition crew suffered any real consequences.

Like politicians in ancient Rome, politicians here in the United States have built a facade of piousness (to the religion of the State more than any other), dedication to United States law, and having the best interests of Americans in mind. Part of that facade is foregoing violence, whether direct or indirect, and instead resolving matters through debates. However, in recent decades and especially in the last decade that facade is beginning to chip away. Although direct violence hasn’t been taken (by the politicians themselves), it’s being spoken of more frequently:

“She’ll cut your head off and you won’t even know you’re bleeding,” Alexandra Pelosi bluntly told CNN in an interview Wednesday morning. “That’s all you need to know about her.”

Pelosi was asked about her mother’s approach to meetings, ahead of a highly anticipated briefing with President Trump and other top congressional leaders scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in the White House Situation Room. The meeting comes a day before Democrats reclaim the House majority, with Nancy Pelosi expected to ascend once again to speaker.

Admittedly it’s difficult to know that you’re bleeding when you no longer have a head but I digress.

The written records we have from ancient Rome are incomplete (an understatement) so I can’t say whether a similar process precede the senators clubbing Gracchus to death but I’m left to believe it did. I imagine Rome’s descent into political violence began with the clientes of one or two senators talking about how badass their patronus was and, failing to be reprimanded for implying that their senators would ever stoop to violence, inspired others to talk up their senators’ badass nature. I imagine that that tough talk eventually inspired a handful of senators themselves to begin making violent comments and, failing to be reprimanded, that inspired senators to finally set aside the bullshit and just club that annoyance Gracchus to death.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an act of politician on politician violence in the coming years. We’re already at the point where talking about violence is, if not acceptable, not something that results in serious reprimand. Given how device politics is today, it wouldn’t be difficult for a politician to justify to themselves an act of violence as being in the best interests of the American people. And, unlike the days of Aaron Burr, I wouldn’t be surprised if the act of violence didn’t end their political career.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 3rd, 2019 at 10:30 am

Promises, Promises

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I guess it’s rerun season for American Politics because we’re stuck rewatching the episode The Wall. Trump wants Mexico, err, the United States to pay for a pointless wall on the southern border and the Democrats, for no reason other than Trump wants it, are refusing to fund it. No we’re at the episode’s plot twist. It appears that Trump doesn’t actually want the wall funded because he’s making great promises if the wall isn’t funded:

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday transformed what was to be a private negotiating session with Democratic congressional leaders into a bitter televised altercation over his long-promised border wall, vowing to force a year-end government shutdown if they refused to fund his signature campaign promise.

During an extraordinary public airing of hostilities that underscored a new, more confrontational dynamic in Washington, Mr. Trump vowed to block full funding for the government if Democrats refused to allocate money for the wall on the southwestern border, saying he was “proud to shut down the government for border security.”

Shutdown the government? Oh no. Not that. Please. Anything but that.

Of course we’ve all seen this episode and know how it will end. The government shutdown won’t be a shutdown. All that will happen is the services that will directly inconvenience the plebs will be shutdown while the “essential” services, all of those services that are convenient to the government itself, will remain operational.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 14th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Tax Them to Death

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The government here in the frozen tundra of Minnesota likes to tax us plebs hard. However, as bad as we get bled it’s nothing compared to California. It’s clear that the government of California doesn’t see the denizens cursed to live in its state as people but as cattle. Every time you turn around the government is enacting or proposing a new tax. Yesterday it was reported that a new proposal is to tax text messages. But a proposal of a new tax in California isn’t anymore newsworthy than pointing out that the name of the day today ends in “y.” What is amusing though is the number of euphemisms that are used to make the new proposal sound like something other than theft:

As mobile phone users have shifted their usage patterns away from voice calls, voice call revenues for PPP have dropped by about a third, while the budget for subsidizing poorer users has risen by almost half. So California’s PUC is exploring its options and, as texts share infrastructure with voice calls — even if the medium is different — it estimates it could raise $44.5 million a year with the change. Applied retroactively it could amount to a bill of more than $220 million for California consumers.

You see? It’s for the poor! If you complain about this proposed tax, you’re obviously a rich baron who hates poor people! Oh, and this proposed tax isn’t actually stealing money from you. You see, “revenues” are down because you stupid plebs don’t call your mother enough so this is really just reclaiming cash that has been lost because of you assholes!

As the article points out though, text messaging is declining as chat applications take their place. This proposed tax will be irrelevant in short order, which means the Public Utilities Commission will be looking for a new way to bleed Californians in a few years. This is the vicious cycle of taxation. A tax is placed on a popular consumer activity, that activity is eventually replaced by a different activity, a new tax is placed on the new popular consumer activity, and so on.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 13th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Order of Operations

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What do you do when a bunch of uppity plebs continue to protest even after your great and generous government was benevolent enough to removed the gas tax hike that sparked the protests? You begin laying the groundwork to justify bringing in the military. That’s what Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is attempted to do by rewriting history a little bit:

The “yellow vest” protests have been “a catastrophe” for the French economy, the finance minister says.

He has his order of operations a bit backwards. It was the catastrophic economic policies implemented by the French government that sparked the protests. The gas tax was merely the straw the broke the camel’s back. But even funnier than his attempt to rewrite history is his attempt to redefine democracy:

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the situation “a crisis” for both society and democracy.

Democracy is a method of government where the majority rules. What could be a more pure form of majority rules than the masses rising up and declaring their opposition to a government decree? These riots are direct democracy in action.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 11th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Welcome to the Sidelines

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I haven’t mentioned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez too often on this blog because, frankly, it’s so easy to ridicule her that there’s no sport in it. It’s like hunting sloths. However, I’m going to give her credit for calling out the hypocrites in her party:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected US House representative, called out her future colleagues in Congress, including Democrats, for paying their low-level staffers salaries below the “living wage” and for employing unpaid interns, even as members of Congress are paid multiple times more than the average American.

The incoming New York Democrat, who took service industry jobs to support herself and her family in the years before she ran for office, tweeted on Monday that she’s met congressional staffers who wait tables to supplement their government wages.

Most of the politicians demanding a minimum wage of $15 per hour have a serious case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” If they pay their staffers and interns at all, it’s a pittance. Much like their demands that individuals be disarmed while they walk around with armed escorts, these politicians believe that they better than the common people and are therefore owed additional privileges.

Unfortunately for Ocasio-Cortez, this is exactly the type of behavior that gets an upstart sidelined in Washington DC. She won’t get invited to the fancy parties hosted by lobbyists, she won’t find support for any legislation she wants to pass, and she won’t receive meaningful press coverage. Make no mistake, she’ll still collected her six figure salary and all of the other lavish benefits of being a representative. But that’s the only thing she’ll do and only until the power players decide to dump their resources into defeating her at the next party primary.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 6th, 2018 at 10:00 am

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Perverse Incentives

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Do you need to mail a letter today? Or buy some stocks? Tough. Almost every federal office, including the United States Postal Service, and the stock market are closed today to celebrate the death of George H. W. Bush:

Wednesday will be an effective federal holiday as the nation mourns the death of former President George H.W. Bush. President Donald Trump declared it a National Day of Mourning, meaning that nearly all federal workers would be excused from work and their agencies would be closed.

The former president will be given a state funeral Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. After the ceremony, his body will be moved to Texas, where he will be buried at his presidential library. Mr. Bush died Friday evening at the age of 94.

I didn’t like the man but I still find taking a day off to celebrate his death to be in bad taste. That’s probably just me though.

The precedence this decision sets could lead to interesting places. If federal employees want a day off, they only need to knock off a president. We could have a Praetorian Guard situation where emperors, err, presidents get bumped off on a regular basis (granted the motivations of the Praetorian Guard were usually more than wanting a day off but I’m certain that the average American is lazier than the average Roman was).

Written by Christopher Burg

December 5th, 2018 at 10:00 am

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One of These Things Is Just Like the Other

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Since I already wrote one post about the similarities between Obama and Trump today I might as well keep writing on the theme. A lot of people are up in arms because border agents used teargas on immigrants who were trying to cross the imaginary line that separates the United States from Mexico. How horrible is it that Trump authorized the use of such violence against poor, defenseless women and children (as his critics put it)?! Of course the people crying foul now didn’t utter a peep when the same thing happened under Obama:

Under President Donald Trump, CBP’s use of the substance has hit a seven-year record high, with the agency deploying the substance a total of 29 times in fiscal year 2018, which ended on September 30, 2018, according to the agency’s data.

However, the data also showed that the substance was deployed nearly the same number of times in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 under former President Barack Obama, with CBP using the substance 26 times in fiscal year 2012 and 27 times in fiscal year 2013.

Once again we see the hypocrisy that is common amongst the most vocal of politically opinionated individuals. When a politician on the “other” team does something, the politically opinionated scream bloody murder. When a politician on “their” team does the exact same thing, the politically opinionated clap their hands, cheer, and wax poetically about how effective “their” politician is.

I tend to consider most politically opinionated individuals to be unprincipled but that’s not entirely accurate. They do have one principle, which is that “their” party is always right. Even when “their” party does something they disagree with it’s only because it was forced into doing so by the “other” party. I believe that technically qualifies as a principle but it’s a stupid one to have in my opinion.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 28th, 2018 at 10:00 am

And We Will Call It Truth

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Remember when Barack Obama announced the need for a mechanism to filter approved news for unapproved news? His announcement was met with cheers by his supporters and called an attempt to establish an American version of Pravda by his opponents (of which I am included). Fast forward to today and things have changed. Donald Trump has announced the need for a government operated news outlet to combat fake news:

President Donald Trump on Monday suggested the US should form a state-run, global news network to counter what he called “unfair” coverage from CNN.

“While CNN doesn’t do great in the United States based on ratings, outside of the U.S. they have very little competition,” Trump said via Twitter. “Throughout the world, CNN has a powerful voice portraying the United States in an unfair and false way.”

The president added, “Something has to be done, including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”

I’m sure there are some significant differences between what Obama wanted and what Trump wants. For example, I’m sure Obama was considering calling his proposal “Pravda” whereas Trump will likely settle on a completely different name such as “Truth.”

It should surprise nobody that Trump’s supporters are cheering his announcement while his opponents (of which I am included) are claiming it’s an attempt to establish an American version of Pravda. In other words it’s business as usual here in the land of nonexistent principles and opposition to critical thinking.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 28th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Dog and Pony Show

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the open socialist who won a New York congressional seat, is bitching that since she doesn’t start receiving money stolen from taxpayers for another three months, she can’t afford housing in Washington DC:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the democratic socialist and youngest woman ever elected to Congress, can’t afford to rent an apartment in Washington, D.C. before her job starts in January.

“I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress. So, how do I get an apartment?” Ocasio-Cortez, 29, told the New York Times. “We’re kind of just dealing with the logistics of it day by day, but I’ve really been just kind of squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January.”

She’s full of shit by the way. She’s three months away from receiving a guaranteed $174,000 per year salary (plus other benefits), which means she’ll have no problem whatsoever getting a short term loan from pretty much any bank. Moreover, she managed to raise enough money to run for Congress, which isn’t cheap. If she has enough suckers willing to fund her economic illiteracy all the way to Congress, she can almost certainly sucker them into dumping money into a GoFundMe for three months of housing.

But whining about an inability to afford housing will endear her to her fan base. Since they’re gullible enough to support an open socialist, they’ll buy pretty much any fool thing you tell them.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 9th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Voting Kills

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There are many reasons not to vote. One of the most notable is that voting is ineffective. But perhaps even higher on the list is that voting kills:

An 82-year-old great-grandmother from Texas voted for the first time ever during this year’s midterm elections. Gracie Phillips was battling pneumonia and in hospice care when she voted early Thursday. Sadly, just four days after casting her midterm ballot, Phillips died — but not before she had her voice heard and her opinion counted, her granddaughters told CBS News.

This woman voted for the first time in her life and just a few days later, BAM, dead.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 8th, 2018 at 11:00 am

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