A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Mostly Harmless Opinions

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I’m of the opinion that actions speak louder than words. Opportunities for people to turn their talk into action always interest me because it shows me whether somebody is honest about their stated intentions. Needless to say, yesterday’s Trump rally in Minneapolis was such an opportunity.

When the rally was announced I immediately thought of two expressed beliefs. The first is that Trump is the second coming of Hitler and his supporters are Nazis. The second is that Nazis must be destroyed with violence. If one drew a Venn diagram of people who express these beliefs, there would be a lot of overlap. Trump and his supporters coming to town provided the opportunity for the people in that overlap to demonstrate their beliefs.

I was fairly certain that the rally would pass by with minimal violence and from the linked story it appears that my prediction was accurate. There was only one arrest by 23:00 and I have found no serious injuries or deaths reported. If the overlap group was at all sizable and the people composing it were truthful about their beliefs, shouldn’t there have been blood in the streets? Shouldn’t there have been hospitals packed with combatants? Why wasn’t there? I’ve come up with three potential explanations.

The first is that the overlap group is actually quite small. While this is possible, my personal experience leads me to believe this explanation is the least likely.

The second is that the people in that overlap who opine that Nazis must be destroyed with violence don’t actually believe that Trump and his supporters are Nazis. If they believed that, they would have used a significant amount of violence against them.

The third is that the people in that overlap who opine that Trump and his supporters are Nazis don’t actually believe that Nazis must be destroyed with violence.

Regardless of the explanation, yesterday reinforced my belief that a lot of people hold mostly harmless opinions. When the opportunity to act on their words presented itself, they back down faster than Apple after being given the stink eye by China.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 11th, 2019 at 6:00 am

Posted in Politics

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Keeping the Slaves in Their Place

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Not only is New Zealand punishing gun owners, it is also punishing slaves who expressed themselves improperly:

The United States is unusual in offering near-absolute protection for free speech under the First Amendment. Most other countries—even liberal democracies—have more extensive systems of online and offline censorship. That difference has been on display this week as New Zealand authorities have begun prosecuting people for sharing copies of last week’s white supremacist mass shooting in Christchurch and for posting hate speech in the wake of the attack.

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Distributing objectionable materials online comes with stiff legal penalties. One man—the 44-year-old owner of an insulation company with alleged neo-Nazi sympathies—has been arrested and charged with two counts of distributing objectionable materials in violation of New Zealand’s Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. He is being held without bail and could be sentenced to as much as 14 years in prison for each offense.

If you want to judge some of humanity and find them wanting, go to the comments section of that story and read all of the comments by the fascists who support this nonsense (or, just as bad in my opinion, believe the punishment is too severe but otherwise support the law).

I personally object to the ideas expressed by white supremacists and pretty much every other type of collectivist. I’ll even remove their garbage from my site. However, I object even more strongly against the idea that a government should be allowed to punish somebody for what they say, even if it’s the vilest thing imaginable. But I learned long ago that I’m a rather rare breed because I believe individual freedom trumps the demands of the unwashed masses (often referred to as democracy).

Written by Christopher Burg

March 21st, 2019 at 10:30 am

There’s Nothing Worse for a Revolutionary than Victory

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There’s nothing worse for a revolutionary than victory.

Consider the plight of the Russian communist revolutionaries. So long as the czarist loyalist remained, the handful of communist factions had a common enemy upon which to focus.

Then the communists won. Without the common foe to unite them, they quickly turned on one another (sorry Mensheviks and anarchists, there’s only room in Moscow for one communist party).

Then the Bolsheviks won. Without external communist foes to unite them, they too turned on one another (GTFO, Trotsky, and take Bukharin and Zinoviev with you).

Then the remaining Bolsheviks realized that without an external enemy, they would have to continue killing each other. So the people were accused of being kulaks and counter-revolutionaries.

The counter-revolutionary is the last refuge of a revolutionary that has run out of foes to kill. It is likely that without the counter-revolutionary, the revolutionary would have to kill himself.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 13th, 2019 at 10:00 am

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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

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Ars Technica ran this story with the title China’s “democracy” includes mandatory apps, mass chat surveillance. The important part to note is the scare quotes around the word democracy. From the article:

As the National People’s Congress gathers in Beijing for the beginning of China’s “Two Sessions” political season, state media is making an international propaganda push on social media—including on platforms blocked by China’s “Great Firewall”—to promote China’s “system of democracy.”

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That system of democracy apparently involves mass surveillance to tap into the will of the people. While China’s growth as a surveillance state has been well-documented, the degree to which the Chinese leadership uses digital tools to shape the national political landscape and to control Chinese citizens has grown even further recently. That’s because authorities have been tapping directly into Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members’ and other Chinese citizens’ online activities and social media profiles.

I’m using the Ars Technica article for illustrative purposes but the general attitude amongst Americans seem to be that China isn’t actually a democracy. However, democracy is a system where voters have the opportunity to gang up against each other. This inevitably results is a paranoid police state where everybody has voted to surveil and punish everybody else.

The primary difference between China and apparently freer democracies is where they started. Take the United States for example. It started with an almost powerless federal government and a strong mythology about individual freedom. It took a great deal of time for voters to first vote a larger government into existence and then vote to wield it against each other. The People’s Republic of China, other the other hand, started with a much more powerful government so there was no delay from voters having to first vote it more power before they could wield it against each other.

The things for which us enlightened people of the glorious Western democracies mock China are in our future. Just look at the massive surveillance apparatuses in the United States and United Kingdom. There is scarcely a thing you can do or a place you can go that isn’t surveilled by some government entity. The Ars Technica article discusses the effort China is putting into propagandizing its party members but the author likely failed to recognize the similarities between those efforts and the efforts in Western public education systems to propagandize young children. While most Western democracies aren’t as overt about controlling their news outlets as China is, all of the major supposedly independent media outlets are little more than government propaganda machines (how else are reporters going to get access to the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room or get themselves invited to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner).

Make not mistake, what we’re witnesses in China today is the endgame of any democratic system. To insinuate that China isn’t a democracy is to misunderstand what a democracy truly is.

96 Dimensional Chess

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Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me 500,076 times, still shame on you. Trump has been in the White House for three years and he, despite having broken pretty much every political promise he made, still has zealous supporters. What’s his secret? His secret is that his supporters are very good at self delusion. Whenever news breaks that Trump is ready to support some reduction of state power his supporters are quick to say, “See? I told you he would reduce government!” Then when he fails to follow through his supporter say, “This is just part of his three dimensional chess game against the libtards!”

I’ve lost count of how may dimensions Trump’s chess game supposedly has at this point. I think it’s somewhere around 96 dimensional. But he decided to add an extra dimension yesterday when he reneged on his claim to support pulling American troops out of Syria:

WASHINGTON — Two months after declaring all U.S. troops are leaving Syria, President Donald Trump wrote to members of Congress that he now agrees “100%” with keeping a military presence in Syria.

This news comes as a shock to nobody who has paid attention to his track record.

Of course Trump isn’t unique in this regard. Lies are political capital and finding an honest politician carries worse odds than even the most rigged boxing match. While those who oppose Trump will scream at the top of their lungs about the importance of electing anybody else in 2020, the only thing electing a different president will do is shuffle the same shit around. After all, Trump’s predecessor campaigned on getting the United States out of its endless state of war and ended up getting the country into a few extra wars before his time in office was up.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 6th, 2019 at 10:00 am

Hillary Clinton Claims to Not Be Running in 2020

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And in other news the life insurance premiums of the other Democratic Party presidential candidates has dropped significantly!

Written by Christopher Burg

March 5th, 2019 at 10:00 am

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How Things Have Changed

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I’m a huge fan of the Hardcore History and History on Fire podcasts so I was excited when I saw that the hosts, Dan Carlin and Danielle Bolelli respectively, posted a conversation they recently had. The two discussed several things including modern political discourse.

One thing Dan said really resonated with me. He noted that he remembers a time when certain concepts, such as support for freedom of speech, were so close to universal in the United States that you could take them for granted in a political discussion and how he has a difficult time operating in an environment where that is no longer the case. I’m not a very old man but even in my relatively short life I’ve seen some dramatic shifts in political discourse. When I was in college certain near universals still existed including support for freedom of speech (although that was dying) and due process (which was also beginning to die). While an individual may not actually have believed in those concepts, they almost always, especially if they were a politician, paid lip service to them. Today’s world is a different one. Consider this fiasco that just went down here in Minnesota:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota House committee has passed a proposed “red flag” law that would allow families and police to get court orders to temporarily remove guns from people judged to be an imminent danger to themselves or others.

Due process, at one time, meant that an individual was only punished after a trial. Today due process isn’t even paid lip service. Rather legislation, of which this is just the latest example (civil forfeiture probably remains the most overt example), blatantly violates the concept of due process. What’s fascinating though is that these violation of due process aren’t met with widespread opposition. Gun owners are opposing this instance for obvious reasons but most people seem to either not care or, worse yet, enthusiastically support it.

I’ve even seen comments from professors who have reported surprise that students have expressed disagreement with the idea that authoritarianism is bad. Even my short life witnessed a time when the concept of authoritarianism was almost universally reviled (if not necessarily in practice, at least in words) here in the United States. Now support for authoritarianism is growing on both sides of the political spectrum.

I make no effort to hide my disgust with politics. Part of my disgust stems from the fact that many previously near universally supported concepts such as freedom of speech are no longer near universal. Expressing support for such concepts in today’s political environment oftentimes leads not just to disagreement but to a complete breakdown of civility (for example, depending on the other person’s political views, you might find yourself being labeled a fascist or a communist). Trying to have a reasoned debate in an environment where no ground rules exist most people appear disinterested in either being civility or establishing ground rules is, frankly, impossible.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 1st, 2019 at 10:00 am

A Barrel of Laughs

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If it exists, politicians will try to tax it. As a correlative, politicians will try to tax it and tax it again. Politicians already tax personal electronics via federal and state sales taxes, regulatory compliance costs, tariffs, etc. But now some politicians in Kansas want to add an additional tax under the auspices of fighting human trafficking:

Two bills introduced in the Kansas House on Wednesday generate funding for human trafficking programs by requiring all new internet-capable telephones or computers sold in the state to feature anti-pornography software and by mandating adult entertainment businesses charge a special admissions tax.

Sabetha Rep. Randy Garber sponsored legislation requiring the software installations and dictating purchasers would have to pay a $20 fee to the state, and whatever cost was assessed by retail stores, to remove filters for “obscene” material. No one under 18 would be allowed to have filter software deleted.

Pay a $20 fee to the state or ask a neighborhood teenager (who will probably do it for free out of spite) to remove it just for the irony? Tough decision.

Setting aside the mental gymnastics required to tie human trafficking to the legal pornography industry, we’re left wondering how, exactly, Kansas legislators plan to enforce this. Take my ThinkPad for instance. Let’s pretend I purchased it in Kansas 20 minutes into the future and it included this hypothetical filtering software. The first thing I did after purchasing my ThinkPad was replace the stock hard drive with an SSD, which removed all of the included software. Moreover, I didn’t reinstall the included software, I install a Linux distribution. I effectively bypassed this legislation in a matter of minutes.

“Ah, you cheeky bastard,” you say, “but what about your phone?” If I lived in Kansas under this law, I would purchase my phone in a neighboring state. If that wasn’t an option, I would likely purchase an Android smartphone with an unlockable bootloader and flash something like LineageOS on it, which would accomplish the same thing as installing Linux on my ThinkPad.

I also guarantee that if this legislation passed, a script to remove the filtering software would be published to GitHub within a day or two. “But that would be illegal,” you say? Maybe in Kansas but that doesn’t apply to anybody in, say, Minnesota.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2019 at 10:00 am

Establishing Precedence

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I’m not sure what exact train of thought has convinced Trump that building a completely worthless fixed fortification is the hill on which he is willing to die but in his pursuit of building, as George S. Patton once said, “a monument to the stupidity of man,” he has decided to declare a state of emergency. In of itself, this declaration would be forgotten in a short period of time due to the irrelevance of any border wall built between the United States and Mexico. However, it would establish a precedence that could be used by future presidents for other pet projects.

Nancy Pelosi is already making noise about how a future Democrat president could use this precedence to enforce gun restrictions:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Republicans on Thursday that a future Democratic president could declare gun violence a national emergency.

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“If the president can declare an emergency on something he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think about what a president with different values can present to the American people,” Pelosi said.

“You want to talk about a national emergency? Let’s talk about today,” Pelosi said, referring to the first anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead on Feb. 14, 2018.

She said the shooting was “another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America.”

“That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that an emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would,” she said. “But a Democratic president can do that. A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well.”

What’s noteworthy here is that Pelosi isn’t making any real effort to prevent the current president from declaring a state of emergency to push his pet project forward. Instead she’s chomping at the bit to use the same power in the future to push her pet project forward.

It’s almost as if every politicians has a list of things they want to do that aren’t “legal” (as if that means anything when they’re the ones who define what is and isn’t legal) and are just waiting for one of their cohorts to establish the precedence that will allow them to go through with it.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 15th, 2019 at 10:00 am

Bipartisanship

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The rift between the two dominant political parties here in the United States appears to be widening ever day. If one party says that it’s in favor of something, the other party almost reflexively says that it’s against it. But there is one issue on which the two parties agree wholeheartedly: bombing people in foreign lands whose skin color is any shade lighter than Scandinavian pale:

WASHINGTON — The Senate, in a bipartisan rebuke to President Trump’s foreign policy, voted overwhelmingly to advance legislation drafted by the majority leader to express strong opposition to the president’s withdrawal of United States military forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

The 68-to-23 vote to cut off debate ensures that the amendment, written by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and backed by virtually every Senate Republican, will be added to a broader bipartisan Middle East policy bill expected to easily pass the Senate next week.

Granted, if history is any indicator, remaining in Afghanistan is a self-correcting problem. There’s a reason it’s often referred to as the graveyard of empires.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 5th, 2019 at 10:00 am