Category Archives: Politics

My latest rants and insights on political events. The rigors of editing and footnotes are what prevent me from writing. So don’t expect anything polished here. My main objective here is to get my thoughts out into words.

Appropriating #BlackLivesMatter

I’ll be honest.  Cultural appropriation and #BlackLivesMatter are two issues that, taken separately, I couldn’t care less about, or I at least can’t be bothered to debate on.  Both are issues that have nothing to do with me.

But a video crossed my feed that raised my eyebrows, as it was an interesting intersection of the two, and quite honestly, it marks the prime reason I got out of politics.  It was this latest video of a “harsh arrest” at the Ferguson protests (action starts around 0:32):

Now, let’s review.  It starts as an ordinary civil disobedience.  The cops uneventfully usher the kids off the freeway.  But a white kid breaks loose and runs around, provoking the cops.  By not following the cops’ orders, they now have to use force.  He gets body-slammed.

And the video gets passed around the internet as an example of police brutality.

I’m sorry, but exactly what is #BlackLivesMatter about here?  Is it about how you want cops to be nice to you when you provoke them?  Because I’ve seen quite a few videos trying to show police brutality, and they generally start with some kind of obvious provocation.

Because I can tell you, no.  No it is not.

#BlackLivesMatter , at least if it’s an issue that is anything serious, is about how black people face a different standard for cops than other people do.  I mean, if this is what it’s about, good luck.  But I think I’ve seen enough statements from well-spoken people like Kareem Abdul Jabbar that it’s about the racial divide.  Dave Chappelle also explains it really well.

And this is where cultural appropriation takes place.  You’ve got white kids running around acting out their anarchist fantasies and trying to speak for others.  You’ve got media channels picking up on these kinds of provocations like that’s what it’s about.

Well, is it?


I’ve written about this issue before in my gut review of 99 Homes.

Like I said, in the end I don’t really care about either of these issues.  So I’m not interested in a debate.  I just want to point out how this #BlackLivesMatter issue is going to be framed.  If it’s to be an issue where some people get treated much more roughly than others based on the color of their skin, great.  That’s an issue people could get behind.

But if this is an issue about wanting the cops to be nice to you when you provoke them?  Most of us, myself (and Chappelle) included, like the cops.  We think they fulfill a necessary function.  And if they get a pass, it’s because we know how rough a job they have dealing with punks like you.  In the end, people will take that video and enjoy watching you get bodyslammed on repeat.

And then it’s not just the pigs who are your enemy, but all mainstream society, blacks included.  So good luck with that, I’ll go get the popcorn.

Economist toys with Blood Libel

The blood libels keep pouring in.  I wrote this letter to The Economist based on their recent article on the Cracking down on Settlers:



“Jew kills baby” is a tagline that should be raising red flags at any respected journal, as it provokes the medieval Blood Libel slur.  And yet, the number of times the press rallied around dead Arab children they hoped to pin on Jews in the past year is staggering.

Which is why I was quite disappointed to see you running the story “Cracking down on the settlers”.  It remains to be seen whether a Jewish settler even committed the arson – forensic evidence actually points to the contrary.

But to take a crime still under investigation, rush to pin it on Jews, and run with it to a criticism of Israeli policies in general, well it only delegitimizes any authority you have on the issue.

Some points I’d like to make:

Settlements aren’t “illegal”.  People like to claim it is so, but the area was never a country, and continues to be under dispute.

Gaza 2014 drove the point, at least materially, that evacuating disputed terriroties to Arab rule only exacerbates this situation.  Old dogmas die hard, but the fact is the best hope for peace isn’t a Judenrein West Bank – it’s making Arabs and Jews live among each other.

Despite your massaging your wording to even out the casualties, one dead Arab baby makes world headlines, while Jews are quite unceremoniously under constant Arab attack.  And it doesn’t matter whether Jews live in disputed territories or well within the confines of Israel.  If an Arab is killed, it’s soldiers stopping them from a murderous terrorist rampage, not any sort of Jew vigilante murder.

Finally, suppose the attack were actually caused by Jews.  A more rational mindset would understand that, under such a tense situation, blowback is inevitable.  Some certainly use it to justify the World Trade Center attacks.

Making hay in a drought

In response to the ongoing drought in California, our esteemed politicians have closed down beach showers.  This is a classic PR Stunt, as beach showers aren’t even a drop in the bucket of our water usage.  Nay, it effectively INCREASES water use, since everyone will just have to take (much more wasteful) showers at home.

PR stunts abound in our current water crisis, whether from Democrats using cheap stunts to pretend we’re saving water, or visiting Republicans telling us we need to relax environmental regulations and destroy even more of our natural rivers to feed our thirst.

Ironic that such PR stunts are making political hay out of this crisis.  When making literal hay is a big part of it.  I’ve been saying this for years.  Alfalfa – i.e. hay – is one of California’s main crops, and to my knowledge it requires about three YARDS of water a year.

It barely gets any mention in the press, but occasionally it does leak out, like in last week’s TED Radio Hour.

And yet, even the title “Will Our Demand For Food Threaten Our Supply of Water?” is misleading.  Here, let me quote them: “…the biggest consumer of water in California is alfalfa. Alfalfa alone uses more water than all of the humans in California combined, and most of it is shipped overseas.”  So this isn’t about us needing food, it’s about allowing completely wasteful crops to be grown, and not even for domestic consumption.

The more you delve into the statistics, the worse it gets.  Unfortunately I’m not a paid researcher, so you can look this up yourself, but I read it costs about $500 worth of water to grow about $100 worth of hay.  So we’re even SUBSIDIZING this wasteful crop.

And I’m not even gonna bother talking about rice.

When it comes to water usage, only 20% is urban, and about 80% is agricultural.  And when you subdivide urban use further – set up some kind of ladder of necessity – you’ll find we need even less.  Drinking, bathing, washing – these take nothing.  Irrigation of lawns starts taking more water.  Heck, even growing decent crops doesn’t take much water if you do it properly.  Eating meat takes water to grow the hay, but hey, let’s make some hay here and stop subsidizing hay production!

The answers are plenty.  Israel has much more of a water shortage than California, they even thought they could only support 2 million people with their water resources.  They now are a population of 9 million, and you know what?  Their public beach showers are AMAZING.  They don’t even have flow restrictors on their faucets, you know why?  Because it’s BULLSHIT.

It’s been the implicit thrust of this blog for a long time now.  The main issue in America is people are more interested in feel-good solutions than asking hard questions and looking at the big picture.  Maybe that’s the doom of America, that clinging such a philosophy as a symptom of our well-being will send us right out the other end of an apocalypse.

But I’d like to think there’s an alternative.

Review of 99 Homes – or, on Ruling Class Radicalism

On a rare following of the advice of others, I went to see Fury Road.  I hate reviews so much that I usually show up late just so I can miss them.  But one review caught my eye: for 99 Homes.  I’ll save you the description.

Even though it was the preview I’d be most likely to see, it still bothered me.  As I watched the family get kicked out of their home, I wondered: oh, is this a movie about how banks use shady legal tactics to foreclose on people who are actually paying their mortgages?  No … well, is it a movie about how banks ignore the laws and just kick people out without notice?  Is it about how people get mortgages they can’t afford and are stuck in an untenable situation?

No … well, what is wrong here?

And then it dawned on me.  The problem the movie is addressing isn’t any of these.  The problem is people have rules they have to follow.  Rules themselves have become unjust.

Here’s the deal.  And everyone who signs a mortgage understands it – or, they sign about 100 pages claiming they understand it.  When you get a mortgage on your home, it is not YOUR home.  The bank paid most of the money for it, and it is only your home provided you fulfill your end of the deal to pay them back their money according to a certain schedule.

If you don’t, and I fully understand there are plenty of people who don’t – there’s a whole legal framework the bank needs to follow before they can A) foreclose on the home B) evict you for living in what is now their home C) get a sheriff to come in and force you out of the house along with your furnishings.

Every one of those steps involves plenty of notification, and after the crash of 2008 there’s even more notification, and aid for those who face foreclosure.

The very fact that when the sheriff showed up, and none of them had any idea what was happening, well that just blew my mind with BS.  Did they not read their mail for the last year or two?  Did they not notice in their checkbooks that no debit was made to the bank once a month?

But I speak in vain here.  Because, see, this reveals a greater problem with politics in America.  I’ve been involved in the left when I was younger on a deeper level than I would ever care to discuss here.  But I was also well read about it.  And my idea of being on the left was to actually go into working class neighborhoods and listen to their concerns.

But time and again I saw people who came in and said all the fancy words to make themselves look cool.  At first I thought I could have a discussion with people like that, but then I realized they were really speaking from a different perspective – that of the well-off, who only sees the world from their well-off perspective, and has no intention of risking that privilege.

Marjane Satrapi echoed a similar concern in her book Persepolis.  Hanging out with a bunch of anarchists, they told her they were going to some Anarchist event.  Coming from an Iranian background of revolutionary communists and atheists, she thought she was going to some passionate demonstration against the injustices of the time.  Instead, it was a bunch of kids playing in the woods.

And that sums up the politics today – kids playing in the woods and fighting for a world where they have no duties or responsibilities.

The police brutality issue is an interesting one.  Remember Rodney King?  That was police brutality.  What are actual black people talking about?  Actual police brutality.  But what gets shown in the media?  Somebody hassling a cop, giving cops a hard time, and then getting their ass kicked.

This is not a fight for justice, it’s a fight for not having consequences for your actions.  And it’s baiting blacks to be the rebel anarchists well off white people want them to be, to fulfill their rebel fantasies.  Now, I’d like to think I’ve talked to enough black people in my life to know they’re for law and order, just like anybody in shitty neighborhoods do.  You meet a cop, they tell you what to do, do it.  If you want to break a law you feel is unjust, don’t resist arrest.

Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle can chime in a bit.

Go to a poor neighborhood, and see how well behaved people generally are in front of cops.  Yes, they know what happens if they don’t, but it’s also to distinguish themselves from the scum in their neighborhoods who so desperately need a baton shower.   Contrast that with somebody in a college town who gets pulled over, and they turn into Malcolm X.  Of course the cop has to sit there and take it or he gets disciplined.

I could keep on going – bitcoin, vaccines, Occupy, gay marriage, the Middle East …  behind every one of these issues of the day is the shadow of an actual issue.  But look more closely and what you’ll see is well off people wanting to escape the laws of society, even the laws of nature.

It’s the disease of every decadent ruling class since those ancient times when they were looking for the secret to eternal life.  And if you’ve actually read your Marx – it is a class problem, not a rules problem.



The philosophical flaw in Bitcoin

I woke up this morning to another hacker’s ransom scam – they would continue to ramp up attacks on our network unless we paid them a bunch of bitcoin.  I forget how much, but I looked up the conversion value.  $250/BTC.  “Hey,” I muttered, “it went down from over $500/BTC, so that’s good.”

“Yeah,” said a co-worker.  “Sure wish I’d sold mine when it was $1000/BTC.  Heck, I coulda bought when it was $1/BTC”

Bitcoin has gotten a lot of press lately as some kind of anarchist’s answer to the oppression of the dollar and state-sponsored currency.  What is money, anyway?  What is the value we ascribe to it, but another fiction?

So without repeating a history of money here, I’d like to address the issue with Bitcoin.  It’s the problem I posted at the beginning.  Since there is no controlling it, there is no idea what its value will be, even a week from now.  That makes it worthless as a currency.

Yes, it is true, money is a fiction.  But it is a good fiction, enforced by professionals who make it worthwhile, and enforced with life-and-death measures.

Feel free to test the fiction of this money.

Feel free to test the fiction of this money.

For money to work, it needs to be a consistent barometer of value.  In areas where no government can back up a “fictional” currency with force, people turn to different commodies which approximate a stable worth, measured in general by how hard you have to work to get it: gold, cigarettes, liquor, ammunition.

This process, as you can see, is inefficient.  If someone manages to build a tobacco plantation, for example, they would either have a monopoly on the economy, or people would stop using cigarettes.  And so on.

But where there is a government which has proper authority, all they need to do is create something that’s hard to reproduce, control its supply, and assure the population that they can count on its value being constant over time.

This is what is known as “backed by the full faith of the government.”  It’s why some governments have more valuable currency than others, and why the dollar is so popular for people to hold on to.

This is where the Fed comes in.  Don’t let the likes of Ron Paul or Lyndon LaRouche fool you – the Federal Reserve does an AMAZING job of assuring the consistency of the dollar.  You know that every day between now and next year, the dollar will be worth exactly around what it is now and maybe 2% less than its current value.  And the only thing that can break that reliability is a collapse in the US government.  You can worry about that, I won’t.

And I know that people like to post scary charts about how it’s worth half what it was worth 20 years ago, and you should see by now why it’s a silly debate.  Instead, compare that to the rise and fall of the Bitcoin.  Would you want to be paid in that kind of currency, not knowing whether you can pay rent or buy a loaf of bread with it in a month?  It’s a serious question – billions of people around the world have dealt with the question of what currency they prefer.  It’s not just bitcoin that has this issue – plenty of countries have helplessly watched their currency spiral out of control.

It’s just that, in the USA, we have this bonehead choice.  We can have a currency that’s under control, that has the promise of very intelligent and powerful groups of people tied to it, or we can have a currency that’s controlled by nothing.  Which would you rather be paid in?

It’s the question of government versus anarchy.  And in the end I feel it is the same trend in our society that believes such thing as police, vaccines, technology and agriculture are all oppressive scams to thwart us from freely achieving our natural selves.  And that, in itself, is a degenerate trend that has become senile to the benefits of organized society.  But maybe that’s the reason I want to address the problem with Bitcoin, because I hope I can do something to thwart this greater downward spiral in our society.

And with that, I’ll let Ted Rall take us home:

Ted Rall visits Afghanistan and gets a practical lesson in Anarchy.

Ted Rall visits Afghanistan and gets a practical lesson in Anarchy.

This is why we draw Mohammed

I THINK this is the winner of Pamela Geller’s Draw Mohammed competition.  I wouldn’t know though, since apparently the American press has sworn fealty to Sharia Law and is refusing to publish it.

News flash guys – you can pretend to CHOOSE not to offend Islam.  Just like all those women CHOOSE to wear the Burka.

But we all know exactly why you don’t.

UPDATE: It’s confirmed this was indeed the winner, via enough evidence from GatewayPundit for me.


Douglas Murray on offending Islam

So apparently the Garland Shooting at the Pamela Gellar “Draw Mohammed” event raised this “controversy” about whether people approve of offending Islam.  

Since people seem to continue to have a problem with this, let me summon Douglas Murray’s words after that initial Charlie Hebdo attack:

“They offended Islamic blashpemy laws, which European nations do not follow and do not believe in.” 

“Twelve people were gunned down because European citizens asserted their right, and they have every right to do that… to do their job as cartoonists in a free society.

“The most important discussion at the moment is whether or not the press stands up for the right to draw what they like … the key issue cannot be stressed enough, most of us are not Muslims, we do not believe in Muhammad… Muslims should not expect non-Muslims to abide by their belief systems… There’s a growing idea in Europe that people who do NOT follow of Islam will also have to obey the rules of Islamic blasphemy.”

“Let’s get on to the substance of this … what Charlie Hebdo has asserted the right to do is treat Islam the same way they treat every other religion.”

In defense of the Inquisition

The Inquisition has a bad rap.

No, I’m not talking about the Spanish Inquisition, though if you haven’t heard, that also got a bad rap.  The Iron Maidens and torture chambers and shadowy omnipotent clerical order were all myths perpetrated by rival powers.  The BBC had a great documentary about this.  And if you really want to get into it, this guy offers a good analysis.

I bring these up because the Spanish Inquisition has been so tarred as systematic atrocity that the very concept of an Inquisition itself has been tarred as some barbaric relic of the past.  But if we take the time to dissect what an Inquisition really is, we find that it has solid legal standing and has a proper place in civil society.

If you just look at the word itself, Inquisition, it comes from the same root at Inquire.  It simply refers to an authority figure asking questions of people.  You could compare it to Israeli airport security.  The American experience of security is a humiliating one: you get shoved through a porn scanner and have to take off your shoes, get felt up, or worse.  Israeli security focuses more on asking you a whole lot of questions. What is your purpose for flying, who are you coming to visit, where do they live, etc.  It’s a much more respectful experience.

With this understanding, we can understand the Spanish Inquisition to be a far more benign and legal procedure.  And we can also use it to try and solve some modern issues.

I became interested in the concept over time, over many debates with people.  Not all debates are good natured, generally they are toxic affairs where you only know you’re right when the other party changes the topic. And that’s what makes a standard debate ultimately fruitless – you lack any authority to have the other person acknowledge their error.

These last few months of debates with Muslims have shed some new significance on this issue.  Where they claim innocence, but when you press them on issues like insulting their prophet, Jihad or Sharia, they change the subject, become violent, or shut you out.

But here in Western Democracies, we have the right to know these things.

So, when it comes to fighting Islamism in the developed world, we have some options.  Islamic reformers have said that its two main tenets that make it incompatible with Western society are Sharia and Jihad, and they have to reform away from that.  Or else what?  What’s the incentive to voluntarily get away from it?

Why should the rest of us wait for Islam to have an internal reformation?  Why can’t we put pressure from without with an Inquisition?  If they live in our countries, we have every right to ask them such questions. Do they acknowledge Sharia law as a higher authority than Civil law?  Do they agree with Jihad and religious spread through violent conquest?  Do they agree that if someone insults their prophet they should fear for their life?

Why can’t we call them in for questioning on these issues?  Why do we need to subject ourselves to all sorts of random surveillance, searches, and costly monitoring, when we see the ideology that is the wellspring of such violence?

The major criticism to anticipate is this violates the 1st Amendment.  Which is nonsense.  The freedom of religion does not grant the right to freely commit crimes under the guise of religion.  If there were, for example, a rash of babies being stolen by Jews to be used to make Matza (i.e. if Blood Libel were actually true and backed by evidence), then this kind of Inquisition would be justified.

The other doubt to anticipate is that subjects could lie to the inquisitor’s face.  But that claim doesn’t hold much water either.  First of all, it doesn’t match with my personal experience.  People don’t lie, especially when it comes to deeply held religious principles.  Apply that to religious leaders whose career depends on their word and that effect is multiplied.  Besides, we’ve gotten good enough in psychology to learn how to ask questions in ways so it’s impossible to lie without eventually contradicting oneself.

At any rate, these are my thoughts on the issue.  They are by no means final, let alone popular.  It is more a thought experiment to get the ball rolling, and bring up some new ideas to deal with 21st century challenges.


It will be because of the left, not the right

Thinking of sending this letter to the Economist, figured I’d post it here first.  It’s in response to two contradictory articles they posted; claiming the PEGIDA march is Neo-Nazi (“Gone Boy on the Right“), and saying Jews don’t have to fear Muslim attacks (“Be Not Afraid“). The irony was a bit much not to write about.

SIR – I have this game I like to play with PEGIDA march pictures, called “Spot the Nazi.” I pore through the dozens of pictures of thousands of people, trying to find a single person, a single sign, with some neo-Nazi sign or signal. So far, I’ve found nothing.  So I was rather amused when a tabloid picked up some obscure picture of one of the organizers in a Hitler pose and threw it all over the place like a political football. It wound up all the way on your journal (“Gone Boy on the Right”), so kudos for that.

I say this in contrast to the “Free Palestine” marches, where a child couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a neo-Nazi reference.  Really, these marches were so glutted with stark raving mad anti-Semitism that it doesn’t bear repeating. It just reminds me of what Marx said, that things happen a second time as farce.

So it is rather cute that while you take such great pains to characterize the far right parties as neo-Nazi (implying some threat to Jews), you take equal lengths (“Be Not Afraid”) to be cavalier about the plight of Jews in Europe. Indeed your tone (the Jews deserve it because of Israel, and they’re so weird looking aren’t they?) does more to reaffirm fears than assuage them.

Fear tends to anticipate the final act rather than patiently wait for it: perhaps today Jews aren’t in clear and present danger in England. But they are in France, they are leaving in droves, and already Netanyahu has plans on his desk to absorb all 120,000 French Jews into Israeli society.  England is undergoing the same demographic shift as France, and if France falls to Islamism and a flight of the Jews, England is not far behind.

And ironically, it will be because of the left, not the right.

UKIP – from a joke to a threat

It’s a testament to just how rare sentient thought is within the human race.  The UKIP’s recent electoral successes sparked the predictable frightened reaction from dominant journals like the Economist.

And I say that by looking at the tone of the article.  Britons have genuine concerns about issues like immigration and the cost of the EU, issues the UKIP are riding high on, but this article is not concerned with that.  Rather, it attacks UKIP on the very issues that characterize a fledgling party: lack of organization, not-so-well-thought-out platform, or that they’re just riding on “charisma” (whatever that means).

Such are issues for UKIP to discuss among themselves, not for outsiders to criticize.  Success and growth bring new challenges.  The UKIP need to figure out how to handle their success and prepare for the next step of refining their message to reach a wider audience, actually handling power, and exercising it successfully.

Rather, the issue here for the rest of us is the vacuum in the discussion, or as they say, the elephant in the room.  From my desk all the way here in Los Angeles, the issue isn’t even so much immigration itself, it’s that the immigrants are not being absorbed into British society, and are instead just festering on the margins, feeding off its safety net, and threatening to reform it in their image.

Muslim immigrants, specifically.

It is an issue that The Economist has made oblique reference to in the past in this study: They Can’t Imagine Not Working.  It’s one thing to welcome immigrants, it is another to make sure society actually benefits from them, rather than them being an albatross around its neck.  And it looks like England is drifting from the American benefit version to the European albatross version.

Why not admit it?  In these days where politics has embraced social media, it is easier than ever to see what people are frustrated with.  There is no way established institutions can deny what’s happening in the British population.  On the flip side, it’s easier than ever to respond to it.

Like I said though, I’m just a guy sitting at my desk in Los Angeles, reading what the papers and select tweeters tell me.  But this is a question I’d like to see discussed.  And I’m not alone.  If the Economist, the Tories, and other parties are willing to enter this discussion, they will attract the attention and passion of mainstream voters, and relegate UKIP back to irrelevance.

But if they simply caricature UKIP as some stuffy old character from Paddington Bear, they are leaving the UKIP’s main issue, and main cause for success, unanswered.  That will give them greater and greater power until they can solve the problem themselves.  If the UKIP really are the demagogues people say they are, it’ll be a much less effective solution than what could have been done by enlightened statesmen.