A Good Political Sanity Test

Can you see the many parallels between Donald Trump and the regime (first Chávez, now Maduro) that rules Venezuela?

It’s not biased to either the left or the right. The politically deluded on the right will find it difficult or impossible to acknowledge Trump’s misdeeds. The politically deluded on the left will find it difficult or impossible to acknowledge Chávez’s or Maduro’s. It’s an equal-opportunity screen.

If you are not for liberty and against authoritarianism, then you and I really don’t share that much in common, sorry.

Patriot Prayer Has Much to Do with Fascism

It claims to be nothing but a garden variety Christian conservative group, yet continually sponsors rallies in which fascists show up.

To top that off, today Tiny Toese, one of its leading members, wore a T-shirt with an openly fascist (pro-Pinochet) message. Here’s the front of that same shirt. And here’s another less-prominent member sporting fascist insignia today.

Game’s up, goose-steppers. If you waddle like a fascist and swim like a fascist and quack like a fascist, chances are very good that you are indeed a fascist.

Most Everyone Should STFU about Printable Guns

Printed plastic “guns” are a fucking joke. That’s because any plastic that a 3D printer can print with is way way way too weak to contain the energy produced by the burning powder sufficiently to impart significant force onto a projectile.

In order to make a firearm, you want metal. Some pieces of steel plumbing pipe from the hardware store will work far better than printed plastic. It’s been possible to make firearms from that ever since hardware stores have been selling steel pipe. The result is called a zip gun.

Read what I posted back in 2013 first (including the linked article) before you run off the rails about either a new level of threat due to unregulated gun ownership or a new level of liberty due to the newfound impossibility of regulating guns.

Why Are So Many Libertarians So Fucking Useless?

Exhibit A: Rand Paul (R-KY) recently asked the Trump regime to engage in politically-motivated retaliation against critics with security clearances:

Sanders made the announcement shortly after Trump met with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who said earlier Monday that he planned to ask the president to revoke Brennan’s clearance [emphasis added]. The former CIA director under Obama last week described Trump’s performance at his summit with Putin in Helsinki as “treasonous” and said Trump showed he was “wholly in the pocket of Putin.”

And I’m erring on the side of being kind by calling Paul “useless;” “enemy” might be a more accurate description here, given that just sitting silent and doing nothing while someone else advocated the retaliations would be a more accurate use for “useless.” Paul isn’t just sitting silent; he’s taking an active and leading role in the whole ugly matter.

My theory relates to capitalism: when push comes to shove, it’s an anti-liberty system, because capitalist firms are almost always authoritarian. Once you start preaching that it’s OK for bosses to boss people, and the rich to control and manipulate the non-rich, you’re no longer advocating for liberty. It’s a relatively small step to go from there to advocating for other forms of oppressive behavior.

Helsinki: No Surprise

It’s been obvious to me for well over a year that the most simple available explanation for Trump’s behavior is that he is a Putin puppet, and in Helsinki he acted precisely as a Putin puppet would be expected to act.

My only surprise is why so many other people, mostly longtime anti-Trumpers, are surprised. My guess is related to my own radicalism: it’s not emotionally very expensive or difficult for me to put 2 and 2 together and come up with 4, because I believe the bourgeois state is basically a steaming load anyhow. However, for someone more personally invested in the system, it is very painful to consider this possibility, and people tend to want to avoid emotional pain.

But, eventually, enough straws will break the camel’s back, and I must admit that what happened in Helsinki today was quite a load of straw.

Only the Beginning

This turned out to be an innocuous threat, though it was definitely a threat (the security perimeter around the president was breached). Expect more such threats to hit the news: Trump is a uniquely unpopular president (and rightly so), therefore there’s a uniquely great motive for actions against him.

There are no perfect security measures; all measures have their holes and oversights. The Secret Service knows this, and their response to it is redundancy. They have multiple shells of security surrounding the president. Each shell is imperfect (see my first point), thus has a slight chance of being breached. However, the overall chance of breaching all the shells is vanishingly low.

George W. Bush was in his time astoundingly unpopular, as well, yet he served out both his full terms. The Secret Service successfully stopped all threats against him. The strategy of having multiple security layers worked.

And yes, there were foiled assassination plots. Such plots have existed against all modern presidents. The reason you haven’t heard of them is that the Secret Service lives up to its name: they deliberately keep news of foiled plots classified so as not to have the news of them inspire copycats.

That policy only works if the outermost layers enable plots to be stopped before they start. If surveillance allows a plot to be broken up before anyone can be deployed on the ground, or an agent arrests a gunman well before he gets within even a mile of a motorcade route, it can all be easily hushed up.

It’s basically impossible to hush things up once the outer layers get penetrated. The president is accompanied by a retinue of reporters wherever he travels, and it is newsworthy when the security perimeter gets breached.

That’s what made the Greenpeace action so successful: once that guy got through, it was virtually ensured there would be multiple videos and reports of his action hitting the news. It also made it risky, of course: he could easily have been shot out of the air and killed.

But I am digressing. Go back to my initial points about all security measures having their holes, and Trump being uniquely unpopular. Put those two together and it means that the chance of the outer layers getting penetrated is much higher than for most presidents, simply because there’s more people attempting to penetrate them.

This time, it was a harmless penetration. The Secret Service may well have even been aware that Greenpeace might be planning such an action, and have decided to deprioritize it in favor of focusing on more serious threats. Greenpeace, after all, has a long, proud tradition of confining itself to only nonviolent direct actions, so the worst that would likely happen is what did in fact happen: an embarrassing penetration, but no actual harm done to anybody.

The next time, however, the penetration might not be so innocuous. It probably still won’t be successful in physically harming Trump (odds favor the inner layers of security working), but the news will be more dramatic and dire than it was this time. Also, keep in mind the copycat effect: now that there’s been one such story hitting the news, it will probably inspire others to make their own attempts.

So, this is probably only the beginning.

Umberto Eco and the Trade War

Liberal columnist Paul Krugman makes the pretty obvious argument that we’re in for a trade war in his most recent column. Towards the end, he points out that the capitalist class seems pretty much oblivious to that threat:

For what it’s worth, I don’t think most businesses, or most investors in financial markets, are taking the threat of trade war seriously enough. They’re acting as if this is a passing phase, as if the grown-ups will step in and stop this downward spiral before it goes too far.

But there are no grown-ups in this administration, which basically makes policy by temper tantrum. A full-blown trade war looks all too possible; in fact, it may already have begun.

Of course it is, because they’ve fallen for Trumpism, Trumpism is a form of fascism, and fascism is founded on the words of the leader alone, irrespective of those words’ truth value. Since human vanity will inevitably cause that leader to engage in self-delusions, fascism is inevitably based on lies.

Which brings us to Umberto Eco’s observation: “Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.” Those words are as true for a trade war as they are for the shooting kind.