I was rooting through my email today looking for spam. I don’t mean the ads for prescription drugs that you can’t buy legally; no I mean the daily if not hourly emailers that you have unwittingly asked to send you messages, and then they drown you in more information than you could possibly synthesize.
I found quite a few of those. Then, at the bottom of the barrel, I see a note from the Travis County Libertarians letting me know that they’ve moved their newsletter from the old Yahoo!Groups site to the new Google Groups site. Well bless their little hearts!
Being bored, in the middle of a task that I had put off for months if not years, I decided to see what was on the latest issue of the newsletter. Ah, the usual. Chat and chews are scheduled. I’ll be skipping those. I’d skip them anyway but I’ll definitely be skipping being face to face with the unvaccinated. The kind of people who think this ad represents any kind of deep thinking:
We can’t force people to get vaccinated? Tell that to the TB-tine scar on my arm. Not only can we force people to get vaccinated, we have before and we should be doing it again. That is how you get to herd immunity successfully, for fuck’s sake. That’s how we wiped out small pox and polio. We could have wiped out the measles, but antivaxxers like the ones that the Libertarian Party is appealing to in that ad have set us all back decades on that goal.
I mean, if they want to thumb their noses at Biden’s policies, Abbott has them beat:
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order prohibiting any entity in Texas from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for employees or consumers, an expansion of a prior order limited to government entities.
Abbott also asked lawmakers to tackle the issue during the current special legislative session, ensuring that “no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine.”
Why does Abbott have them beat? Because he has the office of the Governor, that’s why. Something they will never have because they will never be serious about winning races instead of grandstanding during the race. The libertarians that were serious about winning races became the Tea Party back in 2008, and they have made the Republican party the lunatic fringe that we all know and love today. They are all Trumpists, almost to a man now. The kind of people who will have to be lead to the end of the pandemic at the point of a gun, apparently.
Greg Abbott doesn’t have the power to stop Biden’s orders. Only the Republican delinquents in the Senate stand between effective governance and the anarchy that libertarians crave, and they hope like hell that the citizenry is dumb enough to keep voting Republican so that the government will finally crumble. Here’s hoping they are denied their wish, or if not, that they turn out happier with the results than the anarchists were who backed Stalin’s bid for power in Russia. They didn’t seem too pleased with being sent to the gulag for all their troubles.
I remember those days like a nightmare that you can’t seem to escape. I was walking to work from my remote parking space. I had been loaned out as a draftsman to another firm while working for Graeber, Simmons and Cowan back in 2001. I don’t recall the name of the firm, but I can point you to the building it was in on Congress Avenue if I happen to be driving with you downtown.
I remember the second plane strike most vividly because it was one of the first times that I was forced to use the internet to get essential news updates, there being no television in the office I was working at. We watched the video of the crash over and over that morning, before leaving to go home and contemplate what we had just witnessed.
When the Travis County Libertarians convened later that week to try to pass an antiwar resolution, declaring that Travis County Libertarians were opposed to the war in Afghanistan that the President was proposing, I motioned to table the declaration. With a second and a majority vote, we did table it. The majority of us at that meeting that day knew that blood called out for blood. It was inevitable and probably right for the United States to seek vengeance against the instigators of the plot that destroyed those towers in New York City. I don’t regret doing that; even today, twenty years later I don’t regret it. I regret that we violated parliamentary procedure to get the resolution tabled, but not that we refused to say that the United States had no right to seek vengeance. Blood called out for blood.
By October 7, 2001, when the war against the Taliban started:
The U.S. military, with British support, begins a bombing campaign against Taliban forces, officially launching Operation Enduring Freedom. Canada, Australia, Germany, and France pledge future support. The war’s early phase [PDF] mainly involves U.S. air strikes on al-Qaeda and Taliban forces that are assisted by a partnership of about one thousand U.S. special forces, the Northern Alliance, and ethnic Pashtun anti-Taliban forces. The first wave of conventional ground forces arrives twelve days later. Most of the ground combat is between the Taliban and its Afghan opponents.
I was actively planning to go overseas to help rebuild Afghanistan. They needed engineers and experienced construction personnel, and I wanted to put my money where my mouth was, my expertise to work at something that would hopefully inspire a lasting change in the country that had fostered so much hatred for the United States. This was a radical change from the teenager I had been a scant decade earlier. I was ready to go to jail rather than even register for the draft when I turned 18 in 1980. I was that opposed to war.
I knew that if we wanted to avoid a quagmire in Afghanistan, the Graveyard of Empires, it was going to take finesse and a deft hand on the tiller, and I hoped that the former Texas Governor was up to the job that he had signed himself up to perform as President of the United States. I wanted to be part of the success of that effort. I wanted the cycle we were caught in to end.
My hopes were soon dashed, though. By the middle of 2002, before I had made any headway in deciding if it would be smart to involve myself in Bush II’s ill-begotten war on terrorism, he was already taking his eye off the ball and had begun flirting with conducting a war against his daddy’s nemesis, Saddam Hussein:
There’s an old line: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” And so it was with the Iraq war. Bush and Clinton and Powell and Blair knew quite a bit that wasn’t true. As Robert Draper shows in his book “To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq,” they were certain Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Only he didn’t. They were also certain, based on decades of testimony from Iraqi expats, that Americans would be welcomed as liberators.
We ultimately squandered the opportunity handed to us by our allies in Afghanistan. Instead of pursuing a limited campaign that would destroy Al Qaeda and kill Osama Bin Laden, George W. Bush betrayed the needs of the nation and instead pursued imperial goals, trying to bring more countries under the direct control of the United States military through a permanent troop presence and a widening field of battle that essentially encompassed the entire globe, much less all of Afghanistan.
Osama Bin Laden left Afghanistan while we were distracted and took up residence under the protection of one of our purported allies, Pakistan. He lived in hiding there for another decade while our President’s dreams of empire were pursued at our nation’s expense. At the cost of nearly a million lives. Iraq’s government was destroyed and the entire region was destabilized because of the War on Terror. President Bush played right into OBL’s hands and attempted to colonize not just Afghanistan but Iraq as well.
We betrayed our allies, the Northern Alliance, the people who should have been the tip of the spear in everything we did in Afghanistan so as to keep our footprint in the country to a minimum, and instead tried to occupy the country. Time and again it was shown to us that this effort was doomed, and yet we kept doubling down on the investment of blood and treasure, with no one in leadership willing to admit that we were never going to be able to leave the country that we stupidly thought we could control.
We know now what that error has cost us. Has cost the people of Afghanistan. Twenty years later, the United States lead war in Afghanistan has finally come to an end, and the war between conservative governing factions in Afghanistan is set to begin. No one knows how long that war will rage, or what the ultimate outcome will be, but there is little doubt that the next war in Afghanistan is about to begin. Begin without our presence for the first time in a generation.
Donald Trump, the only president in history worse that George W. Bush, was left in charge of the United States when it came time to cut a deal to get us out of Afghanistan. President Obama could have done it, should have done it, but he thought he could turn that sow’s ear into a silk purse (the same hope of every leader left in charge of a debacle in the making) and kept us fighting an unwinnable war for the entire eight years of his Presidency.
Barack Obama, to his credit, did finally see to the death of the architect of the attacks on our country, but he failed to realize that with the death of OBL we no longer had a reason to stay in Afghanistan. We should have gotten out then, at least. Instead we kept lying to ourselves about what the ultimate outcome of the boondoggle would be. Another ten years went by.
Donald Trump, in his infinite lack of wisdom, decided the smart thing to do was hand the country of Afghanistan back over to the people we had fought for twenty years. He released the prisoners of war that we had captured and had them sign his peace deal, tying the hands of Joe Biden to the August 31st deadline that we have just gone through.
Make no mistake, Joe Biden understood what needed to be done when he was Barack Obama’s Vice President. He opposed the surge. He wanted us to get out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later. As Ezra sums up in his article in the NY Times, it was always going to end this way. President Biden knew this just as well as Ezra’s guest in the podcast embedded above knows this.
There was never going to be a time when the coddled, corrupt Afghan puppet that we installed as leader of the country was going to be willing to risk his life for the country that we created. The same clearly went for all of the military personnel that we meticulously trained alongside us for twenty years in-country. Without leadership that would stand firm beside them they would melt away, leaving all the technology we had left in their hands in the hands of the enemies that Donald Trump put in charge with a stroke of his pen.
The Northern Alliance might have been up to the task if we had allowed them to lead, to put their blood and treasure on the line as the cost of not supporting the central government in Kabul. We’ll never know, because that eventuality never occurred. Instead we colonized and set up a puppet government just like we did in Vietnam; and the entire façade collapsed without our constant support, also just like Vietnam.
Now. Now we need to be working with Afghanistan’s neighbors to insure that it doesn’t devolve into the hellhole the Taliban made of it before. If we don’t do this work then we will find ourselves once again drawn into conflict there sometime in the future. Drawn into conflict or attacked by terrorists that found safe harbor there just as they did before. This outcome can’t be allowed to occur; and the only way to stop it is to help make Afghanistan the place it should have been all those years ago when we decided to continue being an empire instead of being a republic of fellow humans that needed to see past wrongs righted and the guilty brought to justice.
How can we, the country that still can’t come to peace with its own slave history, its own genocide of the original population of the land our country was founded on, how can we hope to ever show others how they can move past the point were blood calls out for blood? Who else is there that will do this work if we don’t?
The Party of Trump is about to be taught the same lesson that I learned from a decade of Libertarian Party activism. If you promote fringe beliefs you become an expensive, unelectable and thusly ineffectual governing machine. Without the majority of votes, votes you get from promoting popular goals, you cannot achieve the purpose of a governing body.
The purpose? Being given the authority to govern. That is why political parties exist. They don’t exist to perfect ideologies. They don’t exist to take the most extreme moral stands. They exist to govern.The Republican party has forgotten this fact. They forgot it when they became the Party of Trump. Kasich should have been the Republican nominee in 2016. In 2020 he is speaking at the Democratic National Convention in support of Joe Biden. That, in a nutshell, is why the Republican party will lose. They have even alienated the governors that they helped to elect in previous decades.
Trump won by a fluke of luck. Two people per precinct sat at home in Michigan in 2016, and Donald Trump became president. No one predicted it because it was a black swan event. An event that hinges on such a small possibility that the math simply can’t be generated to come up with that solution. Just like COVID-19 was a black swan event. A predictable and predicted event that could happen (and almost did happen twice during the Obama administration) could happen at any moment. With just the right virus and the wrong president at the helm of this country. The two events together spell hundreds of thousands of needlessly dead Americans. All of it Trump’s fault, whether he wants to take the blame or not.
Trump is underwater in popularity. His chances of winning in November are once again almost nil. He has no coattails to ride to success, and the Party of Trump is nominating the craziest of the crazies to become legislators, races that solely rely on garnering the majority of votes in their districts. Trump won because he didn’t need a majority of the population, he just needed to flip three Democratic states. When the legislative candidates lose the popular vote they don’t get to have the office, unlike Donald Trump who lost by three million votes but still won in 2016.
I only have two questions in mind for 2020. Will Trump lose in all 50 states? Will the Democrats secure the Senate with a solid majority of the seats? We won’t know for days, possibly weeks after the election. Weeks that Trump will use to spread doubt about the election results in an attempt to retain power. But if the vote is certified as a victory for Biden, then Donald Trump will cease to be president on January 20, 2021. On that day the Party of Trump will cease to exist. Maybe then the ideological purists will recognize their mistakes.
The Libertarian Party candidate for president is skipping campaign appearances because she is being treated for a bat bite.
At first I was puzzled. I hadn’t heard that the LP had picked a candidate already. But then I remembered that I’m not plugged into the backroom talk among work-a-day libertarians anymore and so I wouldn’t have heard about the nominations of a party that isn’t Democrats or Republicans (the PoT) here in the US unless I was actively seeking that information out. I wasn’t, and so I didn’t.
A brief search of her campaign positions reveals a libertarian that isn’t ant-abortion. Now there is a rare bird, or was back in my days in the LP. I’m guessing most of the anti-abortion libertarians are now members of the Party of Trump, so she can get support from the majority of the remaining base without taking that stance.
The rest of her positions are typically libertarian. She still wants to end Social Security and Medicare, and doesn’t want to replace that with something even more sensible like a Freedom Dividend (less overhead, achieves the same purpose as Social Security) wants to reduce government to a tenth of its current size in pursuit of the anarchist dream of government non-intervention in the day to day life of the average human.
…and now she is treating potential rabies. Not looking good for the LP this year.
I vaguely remember her candidacy as Harry Browne’s 1996 running mate. Considering how much time I was spending in the architectural office at the time (60+ hours a week) I’m surprised I can remember anything at all from that period. We were all rabid libertarians back then, in the good ol’ days. We just weren’t potentially a viral threat to our fellow libertarians. Viral memes, maybe. Actual viruses, no.
Is Trump a libertarian? I don’t think Trump has an ideology. He is a con artist and this presidency is merely his latest con. He caters to the conspiracy-minded, the wilfully ignorant, etc. He’s said it right out loud, like he always does. “I love the poorly educated.” He loves them because they are easily manipulated. It is our job to see him punished for his crimes. The first step on the road to seeing justice done is to discover what is real and what is fake, and to adhere to the real.
Libertarianism is not real.
Libertarians sold their souls to the Republican party when they nominated Bob Barr and then sold them again to the next Republican retread for president. That is, the ones that didn’t outright leave and form the Tea Party and screw up the GOP to the point that it became the party of Trump. I was a Libertarian once. Luckily that fever passed.
Libertarians, like the Orange Hate-Monkey, sneer at expertise in general. They set aside all government theory as statist. Libertarians are anarchists in everything but name, and anarchists are happy as pigs in a wallow when government fails. Government failure, and the population shrugging and accepting government failure, is evidence of their ideals successful incursion into the population. With just a bit more apathy they’ll finally be able to topple the US government (just like the anarchists helped do in Russia in 1917) and replace it with whatever comes next.
Trump is a direct result of the Tea Party’s influence on the GOP, and the Tea Party movement started as a Ron Paul lead incursion into the Republican party. Trump is the result of Libertarian ideals, just as the S&L debacle and other deregulation fiascos are results of libertarian influence in politics.
I have no doubt that they are out there leading the charge right now, demanding their right to infect their fellow men with their uncovered faces, because telling people to wear masks, citing public health concerns, is a violation of their right to contract. If it was only them dying from the infection then I would wash my hands of the subject and let them spread the infection among themselves and then withhold medical treatment on the grounds that they should have known the risks when they refused to wear masks. But that isn’t how public health works, and herd immunity (AKA, a vaccine) remains the only way out of this pandemic.
…that means following the guidelines of the experts in the field, and allowing government to do its job ensuring that there are medical facilities for everyone who needs them when they need them. Because we will all ultimately need them and almost none of us can afford to foot that bill.
Letting government do its job successfully is something that they and their Orange Hate-Monkey president are simply not willing to do. If government works then they can’t point to it and say “see, it isn’t working.” I’m not so fond of my ideals that I’d see other people die for them, myself.
The whole point of the cartoon, as edited above, is that Republican politics is still mired in 1800’s mentality. That the structures that politics are limited to amount to a covered wagon instead of a starship. Parties being in control of the political system is a large part of that problem. Getting past the 1800’s thinking of Republicans is the first stumbling block to fixing the shit we live in.
Just FYI, the dank meme above was originally a cartoon indicting the harnessing of the internet to FCC regulations.
I don’t think that was the problem with lumping the internet under FCC title II. Those regulations could have been updated if we had a working political system. Updating regulations is preferable to selling ourselves to information resellers, making us all nothing more than targets for marketing more stuff, stuff that most of us can’t afford. Net neutrality is going to have to come at the expense of ending the internet of the wild west, where any fraudster is capable of dreaming up a pyramid scheme that encompasses millions if not billions of people.
Editor’s note. Weirdly, the member that posted the image thinks he’s defending Stormtrumpers with that image. Indicting liberals. Every time I turn around I am surprised by the rock-hard political stupidity of the average American. If there is a political group that worships at the altar of money and power, that group is the Republican party and their Orange Hate-Monkey president. How that re-edited image could possibly be seen as indicting liberalism is beyond me.
I’m listening to the news today. Today is the first day I’ve awoken clear-headed in a week or more. I’ve binge-watched Star Trek on Netflix for the last two days, I’ve been feeling so poorly, and before that I was just going through podcast archives because I didn’t want to listen to the news. I’ve been avoiding the news since the El Paso shootings. I’ve been avoiding the news because I don’t want to hear about thoughts and prayers and I don’t want to hear arguments about what kinds of solutions that we could enact that would fix the plague of mass shootings in the US today. I don’t need to hear what we need to do, I know what needs to be done. I wrote about it two years ago. We won’t do it, and prayers don’t help, so why pay attention?
Today I wake up and I feel well enough to risk listening to the news. So I queue up the NPR news feed and throw in ABC (CBS?) and then I go on to the Texas Standard. That’s when I get derailed from my news consumption. They’re still talking about El Paso on the Texas Standard. Well, El Paso is in Texas, I should have expected that. Governor Abbott has held a nearly unprecedented impromptu news conference. Great. He doesn’t think he needs to call a special session of the legislature to deal with the issue of mass killings right here in Texas.
Seriously? The guy who thought we needed a special session over which bathroom you use doesn’t think we need a special session over gun regulations and mass shootings? The governor who is afraid of homosexuals and transsexuals doesn’t think that being shot while in Walmart shopping for schools supplies is a problem that we need the legislature to address? I mean, I guess he gets an attaboy for finally admitting that his president is a racist… No, wait. He said the shooter was a racist, not the president that the shooter quoted was a racist. Nevermind. No attaboy for Greg Abbott. I thought he might actually get one thing right while he was governor, but I guess not.
None of this tirade would have made the blog if I hadn’t been pinged by Steve Kubby during my cardiologist mandated sweat marathon, something I’ve neglected for several days because vertigo makes exercise into an invitation to take a trip to the emergency room for a cause other than a heart attack. Falling off the treadmill can be about as traumatic as a heart attack, in the scheme of things.
The phone pings while I’m on the treadmill, and because I know I’ve turned off push notifications except for the apps that the family uses, I figure it’s someone I know needing something. So I (carefully) check the phone and notice it’s a messenger notification from Steve Kubby. Now, that’s weird. Steve Kubby blocked me on Facebook seven years ago. What the hell does he have to say to me today?
Who is Steve Kubby? Well, back at the dawn of the internet age, back in the bad old days of the full force insane war on drugs, Steve Kubby was a cancer patient that was jailed for possessing Marijuana. He was jailed for using a known appetite enhancer and pain suppressor to treat the side effects of his cancer treatment. I wrote about him way back then. I friended him on Facebook when I joined Facebook, as I did a lot of my libertarian friends of the time.
But time passed, and libertarians got even less connected to reality than they were before they could tailor their newsfeeds to only tell them things they agreed with, and the rest of the world got progressively weirder and less connected right along with them. I found I had less and less in common with libertarians as I became disabled and had to rely on the stingily released government services that I had faithfully paid for through all of my adult life. Became less connected as I relied on services that my libertarian friends and conservative family members condemned me for relying on (decrease the surplus population!) in the first place, just another bullet point in a long list of things that I no longer had in common with these people.
Then the world changed in some pretty shocking ways. Every bit as shocking as 9-11 was in its time, from my perspective. The terrorist attacks on our country were things that libertarians had seen coming. The US was breeding terrorists with every foreign intervention. This belief was part of the libertarian ideology, a piece of it that just happened to be true. What wasn’t on the horizon, wasn’t even in the calculations, was armed uprisings targeting our own people. The Sandy Hook massacre opened my eyes to the dangers of the killing machines in our midst, and the other horrible mass shooting events that seemed to occur far more frequently than they ever had before. Seven years ago, when Sandy Hook happened, we could go a couple of weeks before another shocking incident occurred. Over the first August weekend of this year we had two on the same day, and those were just the ones the media were willing to talk about. Incessantly talk about.
One wonders that, if the images of those dead children and their teachers had been plastered all over the internet, would that have altered the trajectory of armaphiles in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting? Would they have been less inclined to pretend that the attack was a false flag operation? If the pictures of the aftermath of mass killings were things that you could find easily, would these people who are sexually aroused by holding a killing machine have decided not to take the course they took? Would their masculinity shrivel? We’ll never know now.
We’ll never know because that wasn’t what happened. With Alex Jones, the pied piper of conspiracy fantasies leading the way, the armaphiles subscribed in droves to the truly insane idea that anyone would pretend to kill or actually kill hundreds and thousands of people just to have a pretense of making them give up their fetish paraphernalia. This image is just one of dozens I’ve seen over the years asking the question “Why do they care now? It’s because they want our guns!” In the midst of the Sandy Hook denialism, denialism that has only recently been stymied by successful litigation, I got caught up in a few different conversations about firearms and the purpose of having them. Conspiracy Cults; Getting What’s Coming to Them? was one of them. ZAP Doesn’t Include Firearms and Killer Pets was another. Both of those occurred after the date stamp on the messenger message that Steve Kubby was replying to, so maybe not. The only thing that corresponds to that period in time was the image (above) of the pyre that the Branch Davidians made of their compound in Waco, and contrasting that tragedy with the slaughter at an elementary school.
As I said in the message Mr. Kubby responded to today, responded to seven years after he blocked me and I subsequently wrote it,
Good. Less crap on my daily feed. As if truthers will ever have as much credibility as the just as clueless JFK conspiracy theorists. As if libertarianism hasn’t already seen it’s zenith in political relevancy (it has, by the way) and is determined to find the bottom of the political barrel as quickly as possible.
…to be unfriended by someone who goes to Nazi imagery at word go when it comes to discussions of weapons in the US. I think that’s a compliment. Stick to subjects like drug legalization, Mr. Kubby. It’s something you can at least speak knowledgeably about. That’s why I friended you, not your crazy ideas about other subjects, that much is certain. You were asking for support back then. No good deed ever goes unpunished, indeed.
If I tried telling that story it would take us way back. Back to the days when Al Gore was inventing the internet. Back to the days when Bill Clinton was the president, a conservative Democrat that couldn’t convince the Republicans of his time that he really was their buddy and they should work with him. He even passed the proverbial law and order legislation in his attempts to meet them halfway. Legislation that has helped lead to the highest levels of criminal incarceration in human history. All to no avail. Conservatives and Republicans still hate him to this day, even though he is demonstrably one of them. But I digress.
It would also take us all back to the days before science became political. Al Gore didn’t only invent the internet back in the 1990’s. According to conservatives he also invented global warming. I remember those days clearly. The outrage over the immolation of children shown to us on our TV sets was fresh. The fear of government overreach so graphically on display in those images. Bill Clinton’s assault weapons ban that had every conservative convinced he was coming after their guns. The merest suggestion by scientists and science communicators that we might have to stop burning gasoline while sitting in line at a drive through window to get hamburgers. Every. Single. Day. The unfathomable belief that carbon dioxide could kill us. The belief that the ancient ice that covered the poles of our planet might melt and that the seas might rise. It all sounded… Apocalyptic.
Telling that story would take us back to the days when I believed a lot of that kind of conservative bullshit. Bullshit that was spread by word of mouth because there was no internet, no access to facts and research without hours, days and months of sweating through volumes of information in a library. It would take us back to the days when I first heard the ideas that would lead a shooter to travel ten hours across Texas in order to “shoot Mexicans” in El Paso.
Back then, these weren’t the kinds of things that believers talked openly about, except among friends that agreed with them. You certainly didn’t allow yourself to be caught subscribing to them after killing more than a dozen people. Killing more than a dozen people and not even being embarrassed about the bullshit that lead you to do it.
The truncated Branch Davidian narrative was just one of the stops along the route for these deadly ideals. Sovereign ideals. The route from white supremacist, christianist writings back in the seventies to Ruby Ridge and then on to the Waco siege. From there they traveled onward to the Murrah building in OKC and onward still to the Bundy ranch and the Malheur standoff fiasco that should have been put down and it’s perpetrators prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Tax cheats and fraudsters have roamed free spreading their ideas far and wide for decades now, their wrong-headed beliefs largely unchecked and most likely uncorrectable aside from warning the uninitiated away from subscribing to them.
The concept of a sovereign citizen originated in 1971 in the Posse Comitatus movement as a teaching of Christian Identity minister William P. Gale. The concept has influenced the tax protester movement, the Christian Patriot movement, and the redemption movement—the last of which claims that the U.S. government uses its citizens as collateral against foreign debt.
Gale identified the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as the act that converted sovereign citizens into federal citizens by their agreement to a contract to accept benefits from the federal government. Other commentators have identified other acts, including the Uniform Commercial Code, the Emergency Banking Act, the Zone Improvement Plan, and the alleged suppression of the Titles of Nobility Amendment.
For my part, I could never track down the facts behind what sovereign citizens believe, even though I spent several years off and on dedicated to the idea that there had to be some basis for the beliefs that my friends of the time clearly subscribed to. I wrote one article for the blog on the subject back in 2014 titled Ideally There Would Be No Idealists; the Sovereign Version a sort of tongue-in-cheek salute to my disillusionment with idealists in general and the whole notion of sovereignty in particular. As I said there,
The idea that anyone can be sovereign or should expect to be considered sovereign is laughable; this is entirely aside from having the ultimate authority on what you personally will do or not do, whether you will continue to exist or not. Sovereign is a completely different approach to the subject of authority.
Whether or not anyone other than a king can rightfully claim sovereignty as the term is defined is beside the point. The fact remains that all of these events, knowingly or not, were in some part inspired by the sovereign citizens movement and their ideas. They were inspired by these ideas because those ideas flow freely in the counterculture that is represented in the simple phrase bucking the system. That’s where you go when working within existing political structures represents surrender on your part. The counterculture. Being part of the counterculture, a scofflaw, puts you on the fringe, and the fringe is were ideas like those represented by the sovereign citizen movement reside.
…and those ideas have been widely adopted by disparate peoples, many of whom would be appalled to discover the white supremacist roots of the ideas behind sovereignty. There is no doubt that Gale and the group he was part of were white supremacists. These are established facts. What is in question is whether any of the hundreds if not thousands of flavors of the sovereign citizens movement still promote the white supremacist heart of the ideals, or if they simply subscribe to the popular notion that other people’s rules don’t apply to them.
Cliven Bundy is a racist. That much is certain. His sons and their co-conspirators subscribed to the sovereign citizens ideals, they voiced concepts related to them more times than I care to count. It is entirely possible that David Koresh had no idea where his beliefs came from. None of the things that I’ve heard about the man suggest that he was capable of introspection, of questioning his own motivations to do this or that thing. So he may never have questioned why the rules of others should not apply to him; he may simply have accepted the arguments presented to him by the manipulators and con artists that seem to run rife out on the fringe of political belief. When you are profiting from the sale of weapons at gun shows while at the same time selling off the assets of your religious sect to support your and their lifestyles, all the while having sex with all of the women housed on the sect’s property, you tend to not study your relationship to the truth too carefully.
However, the government didn’t kill those children in Waco, as tempting as it is to believe the imagery of that day as I remember it, as conservatives and sovereigns remember it. The followers of Koresh being caught up in a suicidal belief system predicated on the looming end of the world lead more to their demise than any action that the US government did undertake, or even could have undertaken, in the best of circumstances,
The tactical arm of federal law enforcement may conventionally think of the other side as a band of criminals or as a military force or, generically, as the aggressor. But the Branch Davidians were an unconventional group in an exalted, disturbed, and desperate state of mind. They were devoted to David Koresh as the Lamb of God. They were willing to die defending themselves in an apocalyptic ending and, in the alternative, to kill themselves and their children. However, these were neither psychiatrically depressed, suicidal people nor cold-blooded killers. They were ready to risk death as a test of their faith. The psychology of such behavior—together with its religious significance for the Branch Davidians—was mistakenly evaluated, if not simply ignored, by those responsible for the FBI strategy of “tightening the noose”. The overwhelming show of force was not working in the way the tacticians supposed. It did not provoke the Branch Davidians to surrender, but it may have provoked David Koresh to order the mass-suicide.
The ultimate cause of the demise of the Branch Davidians in Waco was not a problem of gun control, the point of drawing a parallel between Sandy Hook and Waco. Most of the Branch Davidians died from causes related to the burning of CS gas, namely cyanide poisoning. The ATF did overstep their authority in this instance, they should have listened to the local police enforcement and allowed them to arrest Koresh the next time he came into town. But the federal government’s missteps did not directly cause these peoples deaths. Their being part of a death cult caused their deaths. If you are hoping and praying for armageddon, you too are part of a death cult.
If anything, the gun show loophole that sovereigns and scofflaws rely on to get their weaponry lead directly to the massacre. It was the purchases of weapons for resale at gun shows that put the FBI on Koresh’s trail in the first place. Had there been proper regulations for weapons of mass destruction like semi-automatic weapons are, there would have been no lucrative arms business for David Koresh to engage in, and he would never have gotten on the FBI’s radar in the first place. At least, not until the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints showed up on government radar, and even then it would have been to quietly arrest the leaders and then liberate the people held in ignorance of their own rights.
The two events, the Sandy Hook massacre and the Waco siege, are not related. They are apples and oranges except for one tangential fact. The US as a whole has adopted a siege mentality in the years following Waco. Like the Branch Davidians did right before their self immolation, we see enemies all around us and we know the doom of our way of life is on the horizon. We are all caught up in a death cult. All of us, and most of us are in denial about this fact.
We are poisoning the biosphere that keeps us all alive and pretending that the impending doom of our civilization is not something to worry about. Sea levels are rising, coastal cities are flooding in ways that we’ve never experienced before. All of this was predicted by the models that climate scientists have constructed, but conservatives and evangelicals refuse to believe. What they instead say is “god will provide” never understanding that what he will provide is death, just as he provided death to the Branch Davidians. He provided the death, the release from their burdens, that they prayed for. That is what omnipotence means. If it happens, he does it.
As nature itself turns against us, we live more in terror of being caught up in the next mass killing than we worry about the impending end of our civilization. The terror? That is by design. It is not the design of the government that wants your guns, but by the design of the white nationalist, sovereign, christianist, terrorists in our midst. The people who run the NRA. Young earthers. Evangelicals. The people who back Donald Trump, the Orange Hate-Monkey, his precious #MAGA, the Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. All of them. They want their armageddon. They want to meet Jesus, and they want to do it while they still have truck-nuts on their diesel SUV’s and an AR-15 in each hand. They want this disaster to continue to unfold exactly as it has been spelled out. They’d rather be dead than be wrong about everything.
Death is coming for them. Death is coming for all of us even if we do change our ways. But if we change our ways our children might have a world to live in rather than to have to die with us. If we embrace renewable energy like any sane person should, we can get over this looming catastrophe and possibly avert the apocalypse.
This has to be stopped. Their campaign of terror has to end, and we the people, the citizenry of the United States have to stop it. We are the only ones who can. If they require us to disarm them in order to get started on the real work at hand, reversing climate change, removing ourselves from the death cult of unquestionable economic growth, then that is what we will have to do. I would prefer that they could be made to see reason, but I am increasingly pessimistic that they will admit to their error before most of the currently living are already dead, and we cannot afford to wait that long.
We cared about the dead children in Waco, but we were powerless to stop them from being killed. We cared about the dead children in Sandy Hook, and we were stopped from preventing the next hundred, the next thousand mass shootings from occurring by people too stupid to know they were part of a death cult. We care about the dying biosphere all around us, and we are similarly being thwarted by these same stupid people who want desperately for their god to prove them right.
Those people? They are insane. I don’t know how else to describe it. It is insane to kill yourself when there is no need. When no sacrifice is needed. When suffering amounts to having to walk rather than drive. Cook rather than eat out. Not have the firepower on hand to take down an army single handed, just because you want to have it. They are insane, and we should not be listening to them when it comes to determining our, and our children’s, future.
There was a time when I was a Gadsden flag devotee. In my libertarian days I even used it as a prop for a speech, back in those days when I believed that overcoming fears was something that you just had to put your mind to in order to achieve. I never did get over my fear of public speaking, and I’ve long since given up even trying to do it. No two groups are ever the same, and repeated embarrassment in front of larger and larger audiences just spreads belief that you are incompetent at the task you are trying to achieve. Stop while you’re ahead, advice I should have taken a long time ago when it comes to public speaking.
The Gadsden flag is itself a token of fear, but it says more about the fear of the people who carry it than it does about the people they are opposing. When Franklin came up with the severed snake image for the thirteen colonies, the imagery was undeniably effective. If the colonies didn’t form themselves into a cohesive whole, they would be killed and consumed separately by the world powers of the time. It was such an effective image that it was used more than once by Franklin to call the citizens of the colonies together to support a common cause. It reverberated again and again through the varying crisis that faced the fledgling colonies. Colonies that dreamed of one day being free of their European masters.
The snake on the Gadsden flag is whole. That snake represents the colonies standing as one. It’s a rattlesnake because early Americans had enough experience with rattlesnakes to appreciate the warning rattle they gave. The flag itself was a warning rattle to the British and their Scottish and German mercenaries that the American colonies were determined to be colonies no longer. But since the common European conscript had no idea what a rattlesnake was, the caption DON’T TREAD ON ME was added to communicate the important fact that the flag failed to communicate with its visual representation. We will fight you to the last man to establishour independence. We will take you down with us if you persist. This was a sentiment that we understood for ourselves, but have repeatedly failed to recognize in other former colonies when they fought for their freedom.
However, the necessity of putting text on the flag makes it a bad flag in the eyes of vexillologists. If you have to put words on your flag, your flag has failed to communicate the information you want to pass on. It’s also the first in a long line of bad revolutionary flags. Juvenile attempts to provoke an enemy that proceeds to do the thing that the flag says they can’t do.
Like this image does. It doesn’t matter that that foot will be bitten and probably have to be amputated. That the corporations will face retribution and regulation for their unwise actions curtailing free expression. Not all governments are equal, and not all societies are free. Doing the bidding of the powerful will never make you the friends of the weak, and the weakest among us is always going to be an individual somewhere. The corporations, if they proceed to tread on the snake of free expression, will die along with free expression. It is in the nature of ideas that this is true.
Stepping barefoot on a rattlesnake is a bad idea. Stepping on free expression is similarly a bad idea if you are a corporation that relies on people being able to speak their mind on your platform. Users will leave the platform for other platforms where they can express themselves the way they like without threats of punishment. The individual users need to be smart enough to know that they are being lied to, though. That they aren’t smart in that way is a failing of education, and there is no easy way out of this conundrum. You can’t foment revolution without consequences, and you can’t stop people from calling for revolution without infringing on free expression. GIGO, as I said previously. Garbage in, garbage out. Separating the worthwhile communication from the informational junk food. Not going on Facebook seems to be the first step to kicking the current informational junk food habit.
That isn’t what happened. What the meme image says? That isn’t what happened. Oh, I know the media casts things a particular way. They say cheated when what they can prove is conscious manipulation of existing rules to favor the Democrat within the Democratic party.
You can’t rely on Wikileaks to deliver unbiased, unvarnished truth any more than you can rely on an author flogging her latest book to be completely forthright when it comes to her own complicity in seeing the biggest fundraiser for the Democratic party received the nomination of the Democratic party. This is why the accusation of cheating doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stick because the private entity that is the Democratic party isn’t beholden to advance candidates that are popular with people who aren’t Democrats. Democratic money, Democratic supporters, Democratic choice. This is party politics 101.
I’ve been working on a post for ages that I had titled Why Libertarians Lose. I can’t make the damned article gel out into a set of arguments and ideas that looked like a consistent narrative. An article that didn’t read as petty and vindictive. I can sum up the long, long argument that I’ve made over the years with a single sentence. There is no reason why libertarians lose aside from the fact that they insanely know the reasons they lose, and then they repeat the behavior that made them lose each and every election previously. The reason the article reads as petty and vindictive can also be summed up with a single sentence. Every other independent and every other third party in existence fails in the exact same way.
They all, independently and in all their third party forms, fall into the same trap. What trap, you ask? The trap of not understanding what politics is. Politics, by definition, discounts individual actors. Your beliefs, your feelings, your desires, are irrelevant to political machinations. This is true of every group effort everywhere. Politics is group effort. Working as a group. Achieving a goal, as a group. How do you achieve goals as a group? Compromise. Compromise is the name of the game and those unwilling to compromise are what makes governing impossible without resorting to the use of force.
Force is the jaw of the trap swinging shut. Force will be brought to bear if compromise remains an impossibility. This is a truism, a fact of human existence that anarchists and individualists everywhere need to understand. Unwillingness to compromise on ideological grounds requires force as a response in order to achieve any given goal. You may be right to say you own all the water in a particular area. You may be able to prove this in court. It will not make you any less dead when the people around you who are dying for want of your water kill you for it.
In this system if you don’t vote blue you had best be prepared to be ruled by red. Because that’s where we are headed in the long run. The ground has been staked out. The forces have been drawn up. Democracy on the one side, and authoritarianism on the other side. The Democrats, through sheer force of will on the part of the populace, have been wrenched into the position of supporting democracy. The Republicans represent the feudalist forces of corporate dominance and central authoritarian rule, as I outlined in Authoritarianism vs Humanism.
The Berners or Bernie Bros as they were labeled by some of the press are still intent on Berning it all down. That is an article I wrote during the election, detailing why these accusations of cheating leveled at Clinton and the DNC are fake. The accusation is simply more of the type of authoritarian bullshit that we’re getting now from the Tea Party neh Republicans. One guy can’t fix the United States by himself, and Bernie Sanders and his candidates still aren’t winning Democratic races. They aren’t winning because Democrats aren’t voting for them, and you can’t make people vote the way you want.
You have to alter the underlying system of primaries and party structure, and that means joining one of the two parties encoded into the system. I spent more than a decade in third party hinterlands. That pursuit is a fool’s errand. Good luck with that.
Pay attention to the graphic, the one where Austin is split into 5 different districts. How do you fix that? You fix it by participating in the democratic process and then voting for Democrats because Republicans currently run the state of Texas at all levels above county court. It will either be Democrats or Republicans that run the Texas state government because that is how the system in Texas is set up. It is even worse in several other states. Voting third party is no better than not voting at all; possibly worse than not voting. At least the people who aren’t voting aren’t completely wasting their time.
The Democratic party didn’t cheat Bernie out of the nomination because the Democratic party sets its own standards for who can lead it, and Bernie Sanders did not meet those standards. The Democrats set standards in much the same way that Republicans failed to set standards and so got a demagogue elected to the White House. This is the exact failure of faction that Madison opined about. The failure of faction playing out in front of our faces But that doesn’t alter the system that has to be maintained through the parties in the meantime. Someone has to and will do that work. I would prefer to actively participate in the reordering of American society rather than light the match that burns it all to the ground. That is the difference between me and the people supporting Bernie Sanders. The people supporting Donald Trump. I like the dream that the founders envisioned and tried to capture. Failed to capture. Always we strive to be a more perfect union, and we fail frequently. But we pick ourselves back up and try again. That is what being an American is all about.
Saying that the Democrats cannot win Texas, cannot do the job in front of them nationally, is to engage in the waste of time known as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Vote blue or be ruled by red. Stop serving the factions (including Greens and Libertarians) start serving the long-term good of the country. Vote Democrats like Joe Manchin out of office. Do it at the primary level. His vote for Kavanaugh proves what he is as a person. He’s willing to bend a knee before unearned authority. We don’t need his kind anywhere but behind bars.
The Bernie Bros lost because they (Bernie Sanders and his supporters) did not want to play the game the way the Democrats played it. The way The Clintons have played it since ascending to power in 1992. They played the system they knew, and they won. The Clintons won only to lose to Hillary’s high negative numbers, the highest negatives for any presidential candidate in history except for one. Donald Trump, the most hated president ever to be elected to office. Hated before he had done a single thing in office.
Trump played the Republican game exactly the way the Republicans set it up, and won. He’s president, in spite of the fact that the Clintons got three million more votes, and in spite of the fact that his negative numbers were higher than her negative numbers. This little set of facts proves out the game theory hypothesis concerning the worst candidates winning in straight plurality voting, but it proves absolutely nothing about law, or fairness, or cheating.
Cheating is getting the FBI to question your morality a week before the election. Cheating is getting in bed with foreign dictators (the same foreign dictators that Wikileaks is in bed with) and using their assets to hack your opponents campaign. Cheating is what Trump will finally be brought to trial for, if only the House flips and the Senate changes hands sufficiently that the writing will be on the wall for the surviving portions of GOP power. If congress flips and the Democrats follow through on promises made (and why wouldn’t they? They will after all have to answer to voters just as the Republicans do) there will be proof of cheating in the form of criminal convictions. There are already criminal convictions and Mueller is just getting warmed up.
I have news for anyone deluded enough to think that third parties can win elections. The Greens will lose in 2018 (they did) and 2020. Do you know why the Greens will lose? Why the Libertarian Party will lose? Why all third parties will lose? Because the system is set up to make sure they lose. You can call that cheating, just like the articles cited by Bernie Bros talk about cheating in the legal sense, all the while lacking actual laws to bring charges against perpetrators. The system works a particular way because it is set up that way. Making memes and spreading apathy and discontent will not win you elections. It will simply ensure that the GOP holds power just long enough to destroy what is left of the United States.
In the meantime Sanders, who is a consummate politician, has altered the Democratic party so that what happened in 2016 won’t happen again. He changed the rules of the game to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He changed the system from within, which is what you have to do if you want to make effective change.
You cannot, repeat cannot, change the system from outside the system, and the system is only set up to allow Democrats and Republicans on the ballot in the majority of states. That means joining and changing either the Democrats (like Bernie Sanders has done) or the Republicans (like the Tea Partiers have done) but you cannot elect national representatives from any of the dozens of third parties and make effective change. Bernie Sanders proved this with his entire career in Washington.
So good for you, Bernie Bros. You can point to articles to bolster you and your followers apathy and resistance. I hope that cold comfort soothes you when the Democrats don’t reclaim the House and the Senate and Donald Trump and his hold on all three branches of government makes sure that the presidency never leaves the hands of his family. Kiss the ring of the new American kings and be thankful for the crusts of bread they leave you.
The latest whiz-bang idea from Donald Trump is this idiocy he calls the Space Force. Even his Vice President, a strangely quiet man lost in the shadow of Trump’s vast vanity, has gotten in on the deal. Yesterday he was promoting the idea publicly. Today on the Texas Standard I hear that Maddog Mattis is gungho to get right on this stupid idea and make it a reality. That’s weird, because I thought even Maddog was against it. When a guy nicknamed Maddog doesn’t want to do your idea, you should know it’s probably even crazier and dumber than you might have thought.
Let me spell out just how dumb this idea is, from the perspective of decades of Science Fiction reading. The Earth sits at the bottom of a pretty deep gravity well. It’s face would be more visibly pockmarked than it is were it not for the wind and water action on the surface, not to mention the verdant tree growth, masquing the damage inflicted on the Earth from simple rocks that it has encountered in it’s annual journey around the sun. There are tons of rocks out there in space. Tons of them. Asteroids that could extinguish all life on this planet, in an instant. If we want to destroy any spot on the globe, that potential is out there right now. It is just waiting for anyone, anyone, to go out there, strap a rocket motor to the thing, push it this way or that and hey, presto! you’ve vaporized the target of your choice on the surface of the earth, and probably several hundred square kilometers around it.
The stupidity of believing we could continue our warlike ways into space was spelled out quite well in Robert A. Heinlein’s libertarian exploration novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. In that book we accompany the main character as he plots revolution against the Earth that sent him to a penal colony on the Moon. In order to avoid any major spoilers, I will simply observe that lobbing rocks at the Earth figures heavily in the plot of that novel. A Space Force is akin to the stupidity of placing the exiles from the Earth at the top of the Earth’s gravity well and daring them to get back at us. I expect a lunar penal colony will be the next great idea that Trumpists will come up with, that’s how dumb the idea of a Space Force is. The world of Starship Troopers is waiting for us down that route through time, and I don’t recommend that future, either.
What life on this planet needs to understand is that we are at war with the rest of the universe, because the universe wants to kill us. Everywhere outside of the blanket of atmosphere that covers the Earth, death awaits. Gasping, freezing, boiling, death. We don’t need a Space Force because we don’t need to militarize space. Everything about going to space is a weapon. The rocket engines are weapons, the ships are weapons, that lug nut you forgot to tighten properly is a weapon after it comes loose, hurtling through space at thousands of miles an hour just waiting to intersect some habitat somewhere and destroy it. We cannot be at war with other people in space, because killing each other is far, far too easy to do out there. A moment of carelessness and everyone dies. Not exactly the place for the murderous or the stupid. Our only hope for the future is demilitarization, and it’s a pretty faint hope at that.
The demilitarization of space is the opposite of a Space Force. This is all aside from the fact that a Space Force is probably just another boondoggle like Reagan’s Star Wars. A boondoggle that will go nowhere and cost billions. It’s a stupid idea endorsed by stupid people. Or as Stonekettle Station put it, the money goes in the black hole and never comes out.
Splitting this so-called space force off from the Air Force (and presumably pulling the space-related components out of the other services as well), what does that give us that we don’t have now — and not just give us, but give us to such a degree that it justifies the cost and significantly increased complexity? What are the distinct requirements, the technology, skillsets, logistics, communications, training, facilities, targets, strategies, tactics, objectives, and missions that will define this space force? And how are those distinctly different from the current Air Force, distinct enough to warrant an entirely separate service with its enormous associated cost?
Why both an Air Force and a Space Force, instead of a single Aerospace Force?
Like everything else with Trump: what are the details?
Apparently I was being too subtle in the article above. Let me be more blunt. If you think that militarizing space is a good idea, if you think that Donald Trump isn’t proposing this project just to the line the pockets of his donors, then you are a member of group I refer to as stupid people. You are the kind of person that watches Iron Sky and masturbates to the images of swastikas on the screen.
Just FYI, if you watch Iron Sky and find you can’t laugh at it, then you have no sense of humor. You take yourself too seriously. You take your country too seriously (if you are an American) It is a European film made specifically to poke fun at Americans. Watch it again and again until you find the humor in it. That is my suggestion to anyone who finds they can’t laugh at themselves. If you undertake this effort maybe, just maybe, you will cease to be a member of the group I labeled stupid people.
We can’t realistically militarize space. Believing otherwise is to fall for storytelling tropes. If we don’t get past this self-hatred, we are done for as a species.
Featured image screencapped from empireonline.com. De-Orangification completed here.