Archive for the Current Events Category

At Least Our Political Purges Are Nicer These Days

Posted in America, Current Events, government, governments, Political, Politics, The United States with tags , , on May 1, 2014 by FoolishReporter

Human skulls from the Killing Fields of Cambodia, 1981, photo by AP

Human skulls from the Killing Fields of Cambodia, 1981, photo by AP

 

I’m currently reading Steven Pinker’s massive tome: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. In the book, Pinker posits that the most recent decades and centuries of human history have been the least violent and most peaceful. Grabbing from a number of fields of study, Pinker is able to present a compelling argument that we do indeed live in the least violent and most peaceful era in human existence.

One of the main driving forces behind this drop in violence Pinker partially attributes to Norbert Elias’ idea of “The Civilizing Process.”  In this theory, its posited that the emergence of powerful states, combined with an increased emphasis on “good” behavior has been instrumental to making humans less animalistic and more civilized. As Pinker writes:

Elias’ theory, then attributes the decline in European violence to a larger psychological change…He proposed that over a span of several centuries, beginning in the 11th or 12th and maturing in the 17th or 18th, Europeans increasingly inhibited their impulses, anticipated the long-term consequences of their actions, and took other people’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. A culture of honor – the readiness to take revenge – gave way to a culture of dignity – the readiness to control one’s emotions.

He summed up his theory, which linked the centralization of state power to a psychological change in the populace, with a slogan: Warriors to courtiers.

So what does this have to do with the title of this post? Well, I would posit that the civilizing process has even creeped into the arena of political purges. We all know of the Killing Fields of Cambodia, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” and Stalin and his brutality in dealing with dissenters, whether it was through direct physical violence or shipping them off to a labor camp in Siberia. Currently, we have a political climate that’s just as charged as any of those countries and movements already mentioned. But, perhaps because of the Civilizing Process, we no longer seem to resort to actual physical violence in our political purges.

One only need to think of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-a, Brendan Eich, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, or most recently, Donald Sterling, to get a firsthand taste of how our political purges work these days. While many of the people who stand opposed to those four men mentioned would probably happily see them dead, they know that’s no longer a viable option. Instead, the dynamic of the purge is to use economic violence to punish dissenters. In each case already mentioned, (and also in recent campaigns against Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh), the most rabid of the left use the threat of loss of sponsors and advertisers to get whomever is being targeted to repent in some way or another.

In Sterling’s case, it was a fine of $2.5 million dollars and a lifetime ban from the NBA. Eich was forced to step down as CEO of Mozilla, while Roberts and Cathy escaped mostly unscathed.

Regardless, it’s an odd, odd dynamic to watch the left gleefully destroy someone’s life for daring to participate in thoughtcrime. One can easily imagine that the most rabid voices of today’s political left would have certainly joined in a physically violent purge of dissenters, and probably would have done so gleefully.

So while it’s incredibly disturbing to see so many people gladly cheer on the destruction of people’s lives because they don’t share popular opinions, at least they’re a bit nicer these days and (typically) don’t result in the actual death of dissenters.

Aint this modern world grand?

About those Dark Enlightenment guys..

Posted in Current Events, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 4, 2014 by FoolishReporter

cathedral

 

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth recently in regards to a formative political/social movement (?) dubbed “The Dark Enlightenment.” (DE) Lead by their prophet Mencius Moldbug and his apostles Nick Land, Bryce Laliberte, Michael Anissimov and gathered together communally at theden.tv, the members of the DE offer something truly radical in today’s political climate: reaction/neoreaction.

Termed everything negative under the sun from burgeoning neo-Fascists to outright Nazi’s (from both left and right, no less), the members of the DE end up with such descriptions because…well, they may just be right in their deconstruction and critique of modern society. Pulling from a variety of resources, Moldbug especially explains modern society as “The Cathedral”, a combination of state, education and media that programs people to be faithful advocates of democracy, despite nearly two centuries now of evidence that seems to perhaps tell us otherwise.

The DE’s contention also seems to be that previous forms of governance may perhaps be preferable to democracy, if one can free one’s mind to an appropriate extent. One modern example, as Land points out, is Dubai. Very little political freedom exists there, but the single vision of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has allowed Dubai to become a 21st century wonder and a relative island of stability in a region known for anything but that.

This hinting at monarchism or some sort of “natural” elite rule may also be where DE adherents attract the most criticism, especially with Moldbug’s openness to the question of racial disparities being innate or not. But, if the goal is the restoration of a previous form of government derived from “natural” elites, one has to be able to entertain the concept, that yes, *some* people are inherently better than others in some ways.

Regardless, anyone who professes to claim to have an open mind should give some serious regards to the DE. These guys are smart, effective writers who seem to have the ability to make you say “hmmmm” every other sentence or so. Radical capitalist Hans Herman-Hoppe has often written and spoke of modern society’s need for “anti-intellectual intellectuals” to break society as a whole free from old, decaying forms. While I’m not entirely sure the DE is what Hoppe had in mind, it certainly can’t be denied that the members of the DE are certainly just that, and their growing popularity is a testament to, perhaps, the unspoken recognition that we are living in a completely broken society and something wildly different is needed moving forward.

 

A Detroit Narrative That Needs A Home

Posted in America, Current Events with tags , , , on July 23, 2013 by FoolishReporter

statismdidntwork

With the ongoing dissolution of Detroit, the right and left are engaged in their typical oneupsmanship, each pointing out (the right more correctly in almost every instance), to what led one of America’s once great cities to now resemble a place that looks made-to-order from a third world banana republic.

From the left, it’s the usual yadda yadda yadda of THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WITHOUT BIG GOVERNMENT. (Never mind that government is what led Detroit to this particular time and place). MSNBC propagandists Ed Schulz and Melissa Harris Perry both lamented, quite sadly, that what’s happening in Detroit is the endgame of anyone who advocates for small or no government, with Schulz calling Detroit a “conservative utopia”, while tampon earring-wearing idiot Harris Perry said Detroit’s fate is what happens ““when government is small enough to drown in your bathtub.”

Someone might want to point out that the left has effectively been in charge of Detroit for the better part of 50 years. And that’s exactly what Kurt Schlichter did, with his post at townhall.com titled “Conservatives Should Point and Laugh as Detroit Dies.”  Written with the #caring that Schlichter is so well known for, he states the case that Detroit does need to go through that deep shock of total failure, and that conservatives, deservedly, should take some time to enjoy the proof of the left’s ultimately failed ideas.

Unfortunately, this partisan bickering doesn’t give voice to something that has been happening in Detroit for at least a couple of years now. Namely, the fact that Detroiters have been figuring out how to get on with their lives in the absence of any noticeable government, and, in many instances, the fact that these efforts are aimed at the entire community. People are getting done what needs to be done, and the consequences be damned.

In May, Reason ran a post about how “Spontaneous Order Experiments Take Hold in Detroit.” (FYI: Spontaneous order is the idea attributed to economist and thinker F.A. Hayek, which he used to describe how humans arrive at order free of central planners.)

From the Reason post:

When the system fails us, you have to become the system,” said Mitch Logan, a 48-year-old film producer who is part of a self-dubbed “Mower Gang” that mows neighborhood parks after they’ve finished their own yards.

In addition to the landscaping, a church group is boarding up vacant houses in the Brightmoor neighborhood, one of the city’s most distressed, to keep criminals out. And several neighborhoods are now hiring security to patrol their streets, supplementing an undermanned police department.

And while the above excerpt doesn’t attribute which private security firm is being hired, one of the most well-known in Detroit is Threat Management Center, a company founded in 1995, and focused on non-violent means to conflict resolution.

Transportation needs are also attempting to be met by Detroiters, with various groups working to make bus stops better, and also provide private transportation services. Karen DeCoster’s excellent blog Detroit: From Rust to Riches, highlighted 25-year-old Andy Didorosi’s “Detroit Bus Company”, a private company the young entrepreneur founded to meet transportation needs in the city. As far as the aforementioned bus stop improvement, 22-year-old Charles Molnar, together with a number of other similarly aged people, took it upon themselves to improve the bus stop conditions throughout the city, by building bigger and more comfortable benches at the bus stops. 

Unfortunately for both young men, the last remaining vestiges of the state continue to try and stop their efforts.

Regardless, perhaps the most fun piece out there on government-free Detroit was chronicled at DeCoster’s blog. In a post titled The Spontaneous Order : Dining In Detroit, DeCoster describes a fun dining experience taking place in the Motor City these days:

On a recent Sunday evening, hundreds of people dressed in white converged on downtown Detroit’s Cadillac Square Park. They carried folding tables, chairs, white tablecloths, candelabras and food — oodles of it.

A swirl of white clothing and nappery quickly evolved into a formal flash mob dinner party in the urban canyon formed by the Compuware and First National Buildings.

Passersby gawked. The park’s security guard was nonplussed. When he asked people who was in charge of this gathering, the answer every time was “we have no idea.”
And they didn’t.

Finally, there’s this Free Detroit Facebook page  that’s growing fast, having reached 1,000 likes in the few short days since the bankruptcy announcement last week. (h/t to them for the photo you see at the top of this post.)

All in all, the narrative here is the simple fact that people are working together, for profit or not, to repair Detroit. Either side could choose to see the beauty that seems to be going on here, but I rather fear they won’t. And that’s a shame, because what’s happening in Detroit right now is truly an American narrative and it’s one that deserves a home in the larger discussions of our times.

A Hopefully Thoughtful Response

Posted in America, Current Events, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 23, 2013 by FoolishReporter

ocregisterphoto

While I may be a bit older than the younger workers Jeffrey Tucker was addressing in his article titled “Advice To Young, Unemployed Workers“, in the most recent issue of The Freeman, I found myself nodding along throughout the entire piece. Tucker, as always, spells out his points and brings them to life with clarity and brevity. As someone who found themselves swimming back and forth between the waters of unemployment and the shifting ground of any kind of employment from 2007-2011, I can only agree with Tucker that it’s awfully tough for the young to find meaningful employment, and that the system that produced us leaves us wholly unprepared for the realities of economic life.

Tucker gets to the point immediately, when he decries the fact that the majority of our youth are kept from useful work from the ages of 6-18 and beyond.

“Even if it were legal for you to work when you are capable of doing so – from the age of maybe 12 or 13 -,” Tucker writes, “the government has imposed the wage-floor laws that price your services out of the market. Then you are told that if you stay in school, you will get a great, high-paying job right out of college.”

I, for one, fell for this particular myth in many ways, although there were plenty of times during my college years, (2000-2005), where I deeply thought about leaving school in order to work. But I didn’t, and stuck it through to the end. And while I may have been lucky and found a job in my selected profession right out of college, the experience of falling into the miasma of the ranks of the unemployed for the better part of four years had a lasting effect on me, to say the least.

Another point that had me nodding my head and saying, “Exactly!” is when Tucker wrote “the fear that such work, whatever it is, is somehow beneath you is a serious source of personal undoing,” as he discussed that the most important step, for any young worker, is to find and take that job, no matter what it is.  Having fell prey to that particular bit of arrogance that seems to be deeply embedded in my generation’s psyche, I wish I had moved past it much quicker. For about two years, I wouldn’t apply to anything other than a reporter/newspaper job, because I didn’t go to four years of school to flip burgers, dammit!

And then, the lack of a productive life finally caught up to me, both financially and mentally, and I found making myself making $9.00/hr or so manning a ticket booth at a Seattle tourist attraction. Tucker’s wisdom continues when he writes “You learn from every job you have.” This particular job taught me another set of customer service skills, and also gave me a brief glimpse at the odd world of non-profits. Additionally, it let me walk through downtown Seattle on a regular basis, often at times when the city was mostly silent. I still  miss those mornings, sometimes.

I followed that job up with a variety of others, including a portrait photographer for church directories, Verizon Wireless customer care agent, and running an inventory control system for a large retail chain’s regional warehouse. At each step of the way, I was exposed to new and different people, and  learned how to more effectively communicate with those people. I also picked up other odd skill sets, mostly technical, that help me to this day.

The one area where I depart with Tucker in some respects is his point about “thinking about two possible paths forward, each of them equally viable: advance within this one firm, or move to another firm.” While it’s certainly good advice, I think, at least for my generation, we need to flex our creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. As someone who is being awoken to the thinking of the world through economics and liberty and how they mesh and create beauty, I’ve found myself thinking of various means to find more ways to be productive and profitable that don’t fall within a normal employment framework.

Just today, I noticed my sour apple tree is producing apples a bit earlier this year than normal. For the five years my family and I have lived at this house, we’ve just let the apples fall to the ground, usually to be eaten by the dogs. But now, I find myself thinking of how my family and I could possibly benefit financially from those apples, instead of just letting the dogs have their seasonal treat.

It’s also why I spent the time to figure out how to get setup mining for bitcoins. While I don’t ever expect it to be a hugely profitable enterprise, I do hope to have it be just another income stream, away from all the old structures that have made my generation’s ability to generate income so difficult.

In closing, the bit of advice I’d give to younger workers is pretty simple : Believe in yourselves. You and I were taught that certain things had to be a certain way, that the keys to a good life were to be found in being a good kid, staying in school, and graduating from college. Well, we know how that turned out. Now, let’s believe in ourselves and figure out how the hell we make our own life, and hopefully make it a bit better for everyone else, too.

NO DISSENT OR YOU WILL BE BEATEN : Religious Protester Attacked at Seattle Gay Pride Event

Posted in America, Conservative, Current Events, Freedom, God, Liberty, Political, Politics, Progressives, The United States with tags , , on July 3, 2013 by FoolishReporter

prideflag

 

Seattle’s KOMO News is reporting that two men were arrested after video surfaced of them assaulting a religious protester during Seattle’s recent Gay Pride event. Here’s the raw video:

Now, as you watch that, note that the two men being confronted were *NEVER* the aggressors. In fact, the sign the man is holding doesn’t even directly mention gays, but rather is that view that one finds among the devoutly religious about the state of sin that they believe the United States currently rests in. Also, again, notice, that they were never the aggressors and actively tried to avoid any physical confrontation with those who decided they were worthy of being harassed.

But, yannow, just remember it’s the right-wing that’s inherently violent and reeks of fascism.

LOL.

OBGYN Group Behind “All But 5″ Narrative in Texas Abortion Debate

Posted in Abortion, America, Current Events with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2013 by FoolishReporter

Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis, state senator for Texas

 

220px-Rick_Perry_by_Gage_Skidmore_8

Texas Governor Rick Perry

 

With the Texas legislature reconvening today to argue over a bill that would limit abortions past 20 weeks, and also require clinics/facilities to meet surgical standards, the nagging thought I couldn’t escape was the rather overstated claim by media and “opponents of the bill” that all but five of the clinics currently providing these services in Texas would be closed as a result of the surgical standard requirement.

Given the way the media shaped the narrative, such as with this AP story appearing in the Las Vegas Sun, one was led to believe that Texas Republicans and pro-life advocates were, as one person on Twitter put it, putting in a “backdoor ban” on abortion in the state. (The fun part of that particular story, although I can’t, at this time, prove it, is that the headline read differently the day it was published, declaring emphatically that all but 5 of the clinics would have to close.) Regardless, the AP writers’ closing sentence still sells the idea:

The surgical center requirement would shut down 37 of Texas’ 42 abortion clinics.

NARAL-Texas, framed the issue in about as blunt a manner as those AP reporters did in this press release dated June 10, 2013:

Another bill by Sen Bob Deuell Greenville places extra restrictions on abortion
providers forcing them to become mini hospitals. If enacted, this bill would close down
all but five clinics in the state.

I also emailed NARAL-Texas’ media contact for further clarification. Here’s her response:

Only 5 abortion clinics are ambulatory surgical centers in Texas currently. These exist due to the 2003 law that requires all abortions after 16 weeks to be performed in them. So, in 10 years only five clinics have been able to comply with the burdensome and expensive – and medically unnecessary – regulations. If this law takes effect, none of the other 37 clinics will be able to provide abortions. When you add in the admitting privileges requirement, this could reduce the number of providers to 2 or 3.

A curious absolutism from all involved so far, no? Well, it appears they believe they have a reason to be. The first attribution of this “All but 5″ narrative seems to appear in this April 24 article at http://www.statesman.com. According to the article, the narrative was likely originated by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

Deuell’s bill would require abortion clinics to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers, mandating upgraded facilities — including air-filtration systems, backup electricity and specialized medical equipment — to better treat potential complications.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, head of the 12-member Senate Democratic Caucus, said most of the caucus is following the lead of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which opposes Senate Bill 537.

“The bill does not promote the public health objective it claims to enhance — the safety of women,” the organization said in a letter to senators. “Instead, it harms public health by creating obstacles in access to safe, legal and accessible abortion services.”

Only five of the state’s 37 abortion clinics are licensed as ambulatory surgical centers, a requirement for performing abortions beyond the 16th week of pregnancy. Most of the remaining clinics provide only drug-induced abortions and would likely have to close, unable to meet the renovation costs required to become a surgical center, the organization said.

(emphasis added)

It appears there’s a full-blown campaign by ACOG to fight these measures, given the existence of the blog “Me and My OBG“. Curiously enough, at least publicly, ACOG doesn’t seem to specify a number on how many clinics would possibly be affected by the surgical center requirement. In this statement, dated June 20, ACOG points out:

  • Women outside of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin will have to travel long distances to find a clinic that meets ASC regulations.
  • These burdensome requirements will make these services harder to access as well as make these services more costly.

So, somehow, that “All but 5″ quote from the Statesman story has now morphed into “women outside of ____ will have to travel long distances”.

While me being bugged by this and figuring it out is probably not some great revelation, it’s still instructive in how the left and their media allies shape a narrative. (Think the President et al and the 90 percent of Americans want gun control narrative). Usually, when they arrive at some startling number or consensus, there’s an excellent chance that somehow, the information is being spun in a very specific way.

Or, more simply, agenda-driven media has an agenda!

SEIU Set to Rabble Rouse Over #WaLeg Budget

Posted in Current Events with tags , , on June 27, 2013 by FoolishReporter

SEIUletterpg1

SEIUletterpg2

Ah, good ole SEIU. If they don’t get their way, they’ll be sure to let EVERYONE know about it. The letter above came home with my wife yesterday, from our kids’ daycare. Love the language don’t you?

“the real *targets* in this mess are Senators Rodney Tom, Andy Hill and Joe Fain”. (emphasis mine) Remember in 2010 with all that talk about cross-hairs being on a map of legislative districts being the DIRECT CAUSE of madman Jared Loughner’s shooting rampage in Arizona? Apparently using loaded language like “targets” is A-OK if you’re in a rabble-rousing union like SEIU.

Also gotta love the part where they plan on going to Senator Hill’s *neighborhood*. Because, yannow, bringing a shouting mob into a peaceful residential area is sure to win the sympathies of everyone.

Also fun is the promise of “something HUGE” if there’s no budget passed by the Washington State legislature by Friday, June 28. I’m almost rooting for the government shutdown to happen, just to see what their surprise might entail.

For those of you wondering what the hell is going on, here’s the short of it: the Washington State legislature is onto it’s second special session in an attempt to pass a state budget. The oddest of oddities has happened in the Washington State senate, in which two Democrat senators essentially defected to the Republican side in order to create what they call the “Majority Coalition” Caucus”. The State senate has a budget proposal that will meet what’s commonly being called the “McCleary downpayment”, in which a billion dollars will be put towards education as a result of a State supreme court ruling in recent years. The Senate was able to do this by pulling money from “safety net” programs, hence the letter you see above. On the other side, is the House budget (controlled by Democrats), which will also make a downpayment on McCleary, but has provisions to raise taxes in a lot of different ways.

Tom, Hill and Fain are among those Senate democrats who either outright defected (Tom) or have been in support of the Senate’s measures to pass a budget.

Hence, the targeting by SEIU.

Regardless, this was an interesting insight into how one of the most radical, and frankly, most annoying labor unions operates today. Targeting elected officials to the point where they feel they have a right to disrupt a peaceful neighborhood because they’re so aggrieved. *Think Texas legislature earlier this week*

Good times!

UPDATE: Even with Governor Jay Inslee announcing that a budget deal has been reached, it appears SEIU is going to forge ahead with it’s plans to agitate in Senator Hill’s neighborhood anyways.

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SMH.

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