The Obama Administration: Change in pennies, part 6,437

“This time, it’s different.”

How many times have we heard this before?  Oh yes, the mainstreamers say, all those other decisions—Vietnam, Korea, the Bay of Pigs, Iraq II, etc.—were mistakes, and the United States should never have stuck its nose into those situations.  But this time, it’s different.

In the video below, Congressman Ron Paul explodes U.S. foreign policy in front of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who, having listened—or at least remained silent—during Paul’s remarks, says, “Afghanistan is not Iraq.”  Then he pulls one of Dick Cheney’s rabbits out of his hat:  “September 11, 2001…..”

This man works for the administration of Barack Obama, the candidate of “change.”  Before the election, I warned people not to expect any real change from Obama.  “Oh, you’re being pessimistic,” I was told.  “Yes, every other president in the past two generations has backed away from his campaign promises, but…….(drumroll, please)……this time, it’s different.”

So much for that.  

Such lunacy will continue to the end of the world, so long as people allow themselves to be hypnotized by these mountebanks each time the olympiad rolls around.  It could change, but I doubt it ever will.  Human nature is flawed, and one of those flaws is gullibility.  One of the evils of the State is that the gullible, who elect these clowns, bring down the rest of us with them.  Maybe someday this will be different, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Hat tip to LRC.

Miscellaneous Political Thoughts

The presidential inauguration is barely a day away, and the United States of America is about to engage in a peaceful transition from one form of self-congratulation to another.  Not much change is really in store.

All across America, people are wetting their pants with the anticipation of a new president.  This is partially understandable, given the monstrous tyrants who’ve run this country for the better part of the past decade.  Nevertheless, the remainder of the excitement is, I’m afraid, based upon the legendary short memories of the American electorate, along with that ageless failure to understand human nature, and, more specifically, the nature of politics.

I do not hold any personal animosity toward Barack Obama.  None.  I’m sure he’s a nice guy.  The bottom line, however, is that he is a politician, and politicians practice politics, which is the art of legalized theft and violence.  This art is enacted to coerce one section of society to do something for the benefit of another section of society, usually at the former’s considerable expense or inconvenience.  Moreover, politicians are the consummate Statists and expect the citizenry to be, as well.  When it comes down to it, we all belong to the State in the minds of these bureaucrats.

With all of this in mind, it would be hard to get excited about change even if the next president were a nominally laissez-faire thinker, which Obama most assuredly is not.  At the same time, perhaps my pessimism guards me from the hysterical hooting and hollering of the self-styled conservatives who are still too stupid to know that they ruined their political standing without any help from their enemies and who actually believe that there is a dime’s worth of difference between the Democan and Republicrat parties.  Socialism or Fascism.  Take your pick.

In a sense I miss the days when I was just as susceptible to the moronic emotional vicissitudes of politics as so many others seem to be; it’s as though I have one less sport to watch.  Maybe I’ve been reading too much Albert Jay Nock.  Or maybe I’ve been reading just enough.

I suppose the danger here, however, in the midst of recognizing the intrinsic evil of politics and the insoluble morass that is earthly life in this vale of tears is the temptation to stick one’s nose in the air, declare oneself to be above it all, and then to walk away into isolation.  Then there is the temptation to think that, just because one has ascertained the depth of the moral turpitude of politics, that one is therefore a saint, someone untouched by the ugliness that happens when we men butt heads.

This is foolishness.  In particular, it is utter folly in the case of your humble scribe, for I am a jackass.  I always have been, and I probably always will be, even if I set out to improve society using means other than the political.

But at least I didn’t vote.

Transition politics

In the past few days, I’ve obtained functioning cable for the first time in years.  I was actually afraid that this would turn me into a couch potato, but so far it hasn’t come to that.

I do get some TV, however, when exercising on my indoor bike, which I’ve been using in lieu of running outside lately.  Tonight I was watching several cable news channels and indulging in the hilarity that is politics.  Really, the most hilarious part about politics is the indignation that decent people, who should nonetheless know better by now, show when some aspect of politics is revealed to be heaped in corruption.

Here are some fragmented obsessions from the transition period:

–George W. Bush today, daring to speak on behalf of the American people, said that the citizenry wants the Big Three auto makers to succeed.  Not me.  These are companies that have been investing unwisely for decades—for example, paying much more for labor than market circumstances would suggest reasonable.  I want them to fail so that better companies with better products and better service can take their place.  And look at it this way: if they were to go under, the remaining inventory would probably sell off for dirt cheap.  As to replacement parts, well, a savvy businessman could fill that void.  Long live Honda, I say!  (And I should have bought a used Honda instead of a brand new GM car, which is now, at eight years old, a complete piece of crap.)

–GASP!  Caroline Kennedy missed some elections!  The pundits are talking about this in a way that only gives support to my smart-aleky talk about “pious civic claptrap.”  A few talk radio personalities spoke of this revelation as though Kennedy missed Holy Days of Obligation and will have to go to Nation-State Hell unless she repents of her awful sin of not choosing the Lesser of Two Evils.  But since politics is the art of legalized theft and violence, I say that her absences were moments of shining glory.

Kennedy does seem to be campaigning for this Senate seat, something which the Establishment of yore would likely have considered to be in bad taste.  Of course, taste went out the window a long time ago.  Here’s my question:  If Kennedy really is the saint that everyone says she is, why is she seeking to enter the dirtiest profession known to man?  (Yes, politics is dirtier than prostitution, since both the prostitute and the john are engaged in a consensual, rather than a coerced, act, unlike the taxpayer or the young man signing up for Selective Servitude.)

–When did Charlie Sheen become Governor of Illinois?  Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.  In a twisted sort of way, I sympathize with Blagojevich.  He is a politician, so I have no love for him, but the idea that the Federal government should come after him on corruption charges is laughable.

–A number of constituencies which helped to elect Barack Obama are already frustrated with him, which is understandable.  As I said a while ago, expect your change in pennies. Good for the true believers on the Left for holding the new guy accountable (such vigilance always helps to highlight the evils of politics), but I think they’re going to end up being disappointed nonetheless.  George W. Bush broke his campaign promises (humble foreign policy, no nation building…), so did Bill Clinton, so did George H.W. Bush, and so did Ronald Reagan, if I’m not mistaken.  Why should it be any different this time?  And why does the electorate keep coming back for more every four years?  Boycott the 2012 election, I say, and show these people just how much legitimacy this cracked up system really has.

Ultimately, all this stuff is just a big show to me, useful for entertainment purposes only.  Once you’ve read enough Albert Jay Nock, most of this garbage becomes pretty predictable; nor does it seem like a terribly good idea to try to change any of it.  When you’re a jackass like I am, you begin to realize that you’ll be lucky if you just get around to changing yourself.

Two LRC podcasts to drive the Anti-Saloon League batty

Seventy five years ago yesterday, Prohibition was repealed.  It would figure, of course, that this was not motivated by common sense, but rather by political greed.  Lew Rockwell talks to Mark Thornton about all this.

Be sure also to listen to the interview with Thornton about the drug war.

It’s interesting to me that, with respect both to alcohol and drugs, they became more dangerous after they were banned–so that whole bit about banning stuff for our own good is probably complete garbage.

Nonetheless, if you can find more than five people that you know who are capable of having a reasonable conversation about these substances, you are doing better than I am.  Americans love to find the faults of others and to correct them, even if it means ruining lives in the process.  Mencken said that most citizens love the law the most when it is established in order to protect them from themselves.

Everyone knows that the drug war has been an abysmal failure, but its status as a quasi-religion (a false one, to boot), with Nancy Reagan as its heavenly queen, pretty much prohibits reasoned discussion about the subject, let alone a sane recognition of the principles of non-aggression and personal responsibility.

Brothers that refuse to vote separately, stay together?

Last Thursday, I had an IM conversation with my brother, who told me that he wasn’t going to the polls on Let’s Endorse This Murderous System™ Day. Here’s the relevant portion of the chat:

Brother: non-participating, right?
Me: yup
Brother: jesse too
Brother: me too
Brother: we don’t like the menu nor process
Brother: we are in the same canoe
Me: voting = violence by proxy
Brother: here’s a paddle, let’s find an island
Brother: ric is also in the canoe

Three tidbits about this:

  1. Until this conversation, we never discussed politics, at least directly;
  2. He offered his ‘opt-out’ status freely without my asking him;
  3. Though I have no clue how his two friends lean politically outside of their non-participatory stance, based on the little I know, neither of them lead lives remotely similar to mine.

Certainly, I’d like to find out how he and his friends reached the same decision as I did this election cycle. I’d be particularly interested to find out if they would have acted differently if the ‘menu’ or the ‘process’ were different. But I find it interesting — and encouraging — that the four of us arrived the same conclusion without consulting each other.

Cooperation in Evil: A vote for anyone is a vote for the State

Once or twice already in the young life of this blog, the subject of voting has come up, and particularly of whether or not one should or should not vote. Usually the supposed virtue or vice in voting revolves around the candidates involved in the election. For awhile, even I was basing my decision not to vote in the presidential election on the absence of any candidate which I considered to be adequately suitable.

Upon further reflection, however, it would seem that such an approach is, at best, peripheral. A far more well-grounded tactic would come from evaluating the system in which elected politicians work, i.e., the State. More to the point, how does the State accomplish its objectives? The short answer is by theft and coercion. The truth must not be lost that these criminal activities are intrinsic to the State, for without them, the State would have no resources with which to work.

When a private citizen takes something that does not belong to him, or when he commits an act of aggression against another person, he is rightly considered to be a criminal. What, then, validates the modus operandi of the State? The government takes your money and appropriates it as it chooses; it sometimes takes your sons and forces them into battle; it confiscates private land and allots it to its own purposes (so much for the Constitution protecting freedom!); and it even kills people when the plutocracy deems it “necessary.”

Again, what justifies any of this? What is more troubling: Why aren’t more people questioning the morality of the existence of the State? It would seem that many just assume that the State is necessary. Others—the short-term optimists, long-term pessimists known as conservatives—might well regard the State as an inevitability.

Many, however, refer to the essential services that the State provides and offer this as proof of the necessity of the State. This is rubbish. Every essential service which the State provides has, in the past, been supplied by private contractors. Read that sentence again. It’s true. (See Murray Rothbard, _Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature_, p. 143) The State has not always provided roads; it has not always provided water; it has not always provided education; it has not even been the sole arbiter of justice, and as for the military, it is designed to protect the interests of the State, not the interests of the citizens. (It is too easily forgotten, thanks to the fallacious idea that elected governments are merely an extension of the citizenry, that the State indeed is an entity unto itself, and that it has its own interests to guard, most particularly the perpetuation of its existence and health.) So much for the necessity of the State by virtue of the “services” it (poorly) provides.

What, then, is left to argue for the existence of the State? Do we need a rousing national anthem and a pretty flag to make us feel all fuzzy inside before every baseball game? I could do without it, for sure. The only avenue left to enthusiasts of the State is to argue from the point of view of Divine Right, that somehow God has ordained that we should be subject to overlords who need not heed the Ten Commandments. That doesn’t seem likely. (Even that question St. Peter asked about taxes was framed in context, part of which was that the coin was taken out of a fish’s mouth. Those who know more about such things —I believe it was, again, Rothbard—have written that this is a tool of irony. In any case, this leaves aside the theocratic implications of establishing a State upon Holy Writ.)

Now that we have established that the State has no moral right to exist, let us turn to the subject of voting. When a politician is elected, he is given the resources to wield the power of the State, making use of the aforementioned immoralities of theft and coercion. This is enough to argue against voting, but perhaps even in light of this we might be tempted to say, “Well, we may as well vote for someone who will do less of this than others might.” This ignores one crucial point: Our government builds its legitimacy on the democratic process. A higher voter turnout forfeits to the State more agility in spewing the propaganda that our government has received a mandate to take action.

In short, voting for anyone is a vote for the continuance of the State, and, as the State is a highly immoral institution, it is immoral to vote. Now, I will not say to those who disagree with me that they themselves are immoral. Such judgments should never be made in the absence of a moral certainty. Nevertheless, I stand firm in my convictions, and, as I am already enough of a jackass, I don’t see why I should make myself even more of one by lending support to any of the clowns which appear on this year’s ballot, or to the intrinsic evil called the State.

Minneapolis pigs mace photographer

Police officers once commanded a fair amount of respect in society, but I have noticed that within the past few years, many people have begun to hold rather a disregard for them. These are not troublemakers, but reasonable, good people who have seen cops abuse their power.

Now, from the looks of this article, some of the protesters in Minneapolis are asking for trouble by damaging property, etc, but why would police mace someone who is just there to document the events? What are they afraid of?

From the article:

Marcus Washington, a freelance videographer wearing a “Media” badge, said cops sprayed him with pepper spray twice at Seventh and Minnesota streets.

“I grabbed my press pass, a walked forward with my camera toward police just to film them and they maced me,” said Washington, shirtless and whose face was streaked with a liquid used to flush the pepper spray. “I got delerious and blind and fell over. … It’s still burning because I shaved my head and I have tattoos.”

Again, it bears repeating: this is what happens when the State has a monopoly on force. It reduces the rest of us to mere serfs. From a natural rights perspective, that photographer, granting that his version of the story is true, had every right to respond to protect himself, but of course, if he did that–hell, even if he tried to run away (not that he was able)–he would have been shot.

Only time will tell on how much the news media decides to lump the violent protesters in with the others. If they hate the Statist GOP as much as the conservative punditry alleges, they won’t do it one bit. There are a lot of protesters up there with a message worth hearing.