Certificates · Culturalism · Federal Government

The Illusion of Resistance

Much clucking and chirping is afoot in the GOP Twittersphere over surprisingly good House election outcomes for the 2020 election. Republicans won a handful of seats, and may end up forcing the Dems as low as 220 representatives, a weak majority over next year’s Congress. Though this might seem exciting to politicos and their ilk, the result simply outlines yet again the haplessness of belief in resistance-style politics championed by both the Right and Left.

If we cycle back to 2010, the conservative party used Tea Party anger against Obamacare and “wasteful spending” to power its 63-seat swing against Democrats, leading to a majority of 242. They fell short in the Senate, but nevertheless gained seats. Now, did America see historic cuts or entitlement reform? Absolutely not, because GOP resistance amounted to simply opposing tax increases on the wealthy, whilst blocking serious spending reductions at every turn. Such bumbling proceeded on to the 2012 presidential election, which rewarded the dedicated TP activists with a campaign platform sworn to protect Mitt Romney from tax penalties and back a budget plan with net cuts of only $155 billion. Why? Because the Tea Party quickly became a subsidiary of Koch Brothers interests, not the average American.

In late 2011, Occupy Wall Street protests exploded across the country, determined to draw attention to corporate greed. Despite their fierce tenacity, and the relative pro-corporate leanings of Barack Obama, the protestors ultimately ended up serving as a political and financial cow to help Democrats retain the presidency. The people insistent on getting money out of politics helped return a figure who raised more from Wall Street corporations than his “pro-business” Republican opponent.  Once more, an allegedly populist movement got co-opted by the financial mainstream, and with scarcely a cry issued.

More recently, the Black Lives Matter riots have shown a similar nature. Although presuming to oppose a tyrannical police state praying on minorities, the street advocates and their “La Resistance” friends have no conflict with blindly obeying the dictums of CDC officials to “mask up,” or translating their movement into a train of endorsement for Biden, perhaps the vilest plutocrat to attain office in short memory. The very idea that committed protestors happily obey the medical industry complex as they pretend to stand for justice, or submissively quiet down to help a Democrat attain power; said actions demonstrate a brilliant lack of autonomy and agency which undercut the primary themes. Nothing is really being disrupted, only the comfort of political opponents.

So it’s all well and good that Republicans are excited about their prospects, but these remain meaningless without action. Until legislation is on the desk—signed—their fist-waving and proclamations about being “loyal opposition”  will stay as mere words. For opposition is futile, and resistance an illusion.

Federal Government · investing

Can Bitcoin Be Regulated?

One of the great cultural nuances of the internet is how everyone can be right. Providing you are convincing, or at least look the part, most effective dissent will get chucked out the window, along with any need for respect. In point, we have the prototypical messaging of the Bitcoin-promoting community, which often argues that digital currency is beyond government regulation or control due to algorithms and encryption. They have some credibility, but as with all things deemed to “beat the system,” there are major exceptions which must be considered.

To start, the idea that crypto transactions can simply fly under the radar is muddled by known IRS actions. The federal government has already issued warnings to thousands of people about failure to report crypto gains to the IRS, and significant penalties lurk for those who flaunt such warnings. We also have the recent indictment of John McAfee for allegedly hiding cryptocurrency assets. Thus from a reactive standpoint the State is already gearing up for the long haul fight.

Perhaps more immediately, reports suggest the government seized around $1 billion worth of Bitcoin connected to the controversial Silk Road marketplace, whose founder Ross Ulbricht was given a life sentence for numerous alleged crimes. That’s a small but noticeable chunk of the overall coin value, and it’s not the first time Uncle Sam has held a stake. Other governments such as Bulgaria have snapped up digital currency in the past, with the leaders in Sofia holding 200,000 bitcoins at one stage.

Ruling out these sorts of criminal situations, what of the more obvious methods for centralized regulation? Governments could begin requiring trading firms like Coinbase to meet specific standards of licensure and tax reporting, much as investment companies are required to do. They might also go after crypto miners, placing restrictions or taxes on their Morian mainframes These are hardly out of the question when we examine the history of the State, and its insatiable desire for money.

By this I don’t mean to suggest crypto is a bad idea; in fact, I own a great deal and will continue adding. Just avoid becoming too drunk on the swill of lolbertarianism. As Ronny boy might say, “The government wants what it wants.”

Culturalism · Federal Government

How Conservatives Protest

Last week at the MAGA rally, Sebastian Gorka spoke by the Supreme Court, loudly demanding to the Plural Left, “Where’s all the looting and burning?” Much applause followed, and conservatives proudly reminded themselves how much better they were than their liberal opponents. After further marching and cheering, they all went home.

Gorka’s comment and the behavior it refers to are important because they help encapsulate the very heart of conservative attitudes towards resistance or civil disobedience. Over the summer, the Right continued spinning narratives about how they supported “law and order” versus the historically butthurt and rich leftist protestors who milled about, smashing businesses and looting stores. The idea was that the “good guys” would defend small businesses and “Back the Blue,” while their enemies ran amuck to cause destruction.

Such a storyline works well so long as you maintain power, because it projects the Boomer idea of communities under assault by the wild and communistic. Once elections go the other way, however, the message is a completely dull edge. Peacefully protesting election officials or courts while maintaining support for the establishment (laws, police, military), effectively implies acquiescence to whatever outcome they are sworn to protect. “Law and Order” now means accepting a Bidenesque presidency, even if the tagline is that fraud has been perpetrated across the country.

Herein rests the heart of conservative struggles with any form of a civil standoff. Much as they might enjoy parading around with their gun collections and body armor wardrobes, the fact remains that any sort of outright defiance requires them to break their own political talking points on defense of public order. Doing battle with police or the military makes them “traitors,” or “unpatriotic,” so instead the approach involves softly declaring opposition and then disappearing off into a SuperBowl Sunday watch session.

For all those reasons, it is hard to imagine any significant conservative action to overturn balloting results. The courts so far have been rather timid, and individuals themselves remain caught in the same conflict of belief. Do the people defending tradition and “the way it has always been” take a risk and break their own vows?

Probably not.

Culturalism · Federal Government

Why Revolutions Fail

Ever since I knew enough to remember, there has been talk of revolutions around the world. Tea Party folks declared one would occur if Obama violated their freedoms, leftists did the same under Trump, Arabs bathed in the blanketed feel of their springs, and Hong Kong residents attempted to defeat their colonial government. Whether successful or not, these movements become a romanticized conception of life, a cause that for some seems worth more than all the cost.

Yet they seldom succeed. This isn’t to say political revolutions don’t occur; after all, there is only so much time corruption can stand before the pieces crumble. Instead, the preliminary forces which make such actions possible tend to fizzle out by the time people have gotten a taste of power – and the wealth accompanying it. The average activist doesn’t want to spend their entire life protesting or undermining the system because doing so might cause them to miss out on the niceties of each day. Much like intensely religious people often lapse into the vices of an enjoyable existence rather than remaining pious and stoic forever. The risk of missing out appears too great to ignore.

A book which outlines this dynamic brilliantly is Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky. Besides offering a syrupy account of court intrigue under the Germano-Russian dynasties, Radzinsky dedicates much of the text to documenting the various revolutionary attempts and assassinations that brought down various tsars and their supporters. At the start, he quotes one of the first terrorist revolutionaries:

“Our work is destruction, a terrible, total universal and ruthless destruction. The revolutionary is a doomed man. He has not interests, no work, no feelings, no ties, no property, not even a name. Everything is consumed by the single, exclusive interest, the sole thought, the sole passion: revolution. Poison, dagger, and noose—the Revolution sanctifies everything.”

The level of intensity and faith required to observe such convictions for a time –let alone years—is uncommon in any human society. It demands a level of selflessness, along with humble individualism, to be anywhere near triumphant. That might seem contradictory, but in a sense the person must remain individualistic to the extreme that separation from others based on hiding or imprisonment will not drive him mad or create a backbone for misery. A stoic, minimalistic worldview is demanded, at least once the campaign is in motion.

On a different angle, the anarchist Bakunin tried to explain the revolutionary ethos as being a prime objective of life:

“Engulfing Russia, the fire will spread to the while world. Everything will be destroyed that is deemed holy from the heights of modern European civilization, because it is the source of inequality, the source of all of man’s misery. Bringing into motion a destructive force is the only goal worth of a rational man.”

His view is even harder to square with typical human behavior. It was none other than Fyodor Dostoevsky who began as a revolutionary only to turn against the concept after spending years languishing in one of the tsarist concentration camps. After being released he began producing work with a cynical view of revolutionary figures and the disorder which they bring.

Dostoevsky’s ideological shift is something which the radical Nechaev believed could only be avoided by effectively maintaining the revolutionary spirit and ensuring no one had the liberty to slink back towards bourgeoisie ways. He would go so far as to allow correspondence to be intercepted that landed a number of young radicals in prison. The logic is described here:

“In the first two years, students rebel gleefully and enthusiastically. Then they get caught up in their studies, and by the fourth or fifth year, you see that yesterday’s rebel is house-trained, and upon graduation from university or academy, yesterday’s fighters for the people are turned into completely reliable physicians, teachers, and other officials. They become paterfamilias. And looking at one of them, it is hard to believe that he is the same person who just three or four years ago had spoken with such fire about the suffering of the people, who thirsted for exploits and seemed ready to die for the people! Instead of a revolutionary fighter we see spineless scum. Very soon many of them turn unto prosecutors, judges, investigators and together with the government they start to stifle the very people for whom they intended to give their lives. What should be done? Here I have only one hope, but a very strong one, in the government. Do you know what I expect from it? That it put away more people, that students be kicked out of universities forever, sent into exile, knocked out of their usual rut, stunned by persecution, cruelty, injustice, and stupidity. Only that will forge their hatred for the vile government and the society that looks on indifferently at the brutality of the regime.”

In other words, the situation must become so horrendous that the inconvenience and suffering affects everyone, and thus they have no choice but to unite against authority with absolute fervor. Of course in modern terms this is more complicated than radicals want to believe. Until the printing press runs dry (or inflation takes it all), there will be enough monetary security to safeguard the football watchers, comic book fans, and Netflix aficionados. Enough fancy cars and lifted trucks to addle the brain’s aspirations, or Tinder swipes to keep hope alive. Life will go on in general peace.

Perhaps then Francis Fukuyama was correct, albeit not as he intended. Consumer capitalism and liberal democracy are hardly causing Muslim fundamentalists to abandon their viewpoints and surrender to the modern outlet mall. Rather, the happy slush of processed food and streaming entertainment allows us to feel maximum pleasure, and thus no inclination towards revolution.

Culturalism · Federal Government

Signs of Escalation

Years ago I had a brief gig working security on an overnight basis. The company in question required forty hours of training paid at minimum wage, an upgrade from the unpaid scam they had attempted to run earlier. Perhaps the most memorable part of the experience was the absolutely dogmatic obsession of instructors with telling students to escalate if things got complicated. Not simply for emergency situations, but also minor interactions with non-security employees in the vicinity. Failing to comply meant serious repercussions, which in the security business includes termination or transfer to another spot.

While a dead-end job may not appear to reflect much about the social state, this concept of escalation outlines broader problems in modern culture. The simplest way to explain it would be using the “CYA” moniker, itself a cynical display of the prevailing issue. People in Western realms are expected to always find someone else who will take responsibility in order to protect their own plot. In other words, don’t make a decision, refuse all ownership, and let the “chain of command” find a solution. If you happen to be in the uniformed services, the latter idea is especially crucial. Neglecting to ask permission before making a minor decision as an enlisted feller during peacetime can easily lead to NJP territory, if not something worse.

As matters “escalate,” the process creates spheres of feckless actors more than willing to support what is in their interests – while evading all accountability for the outcome. We see this manifested brilliantly in calls for “universal” healthcare. Republicans advocate “free market” healthcare, pretending it will attain the same outcomes as government-run alternatives. Democrats shill instead for the state-run option, whilst dodging questions about who will pay. In the case of Vermont, the lovingly-labeled “Green Mountain Care” program folded once questions of tax funding came to the fore, leaving moralized arguments behind.

The obvious next step for the Plural Left (and conservatives on other issues), is to appeal for federal promulgation of what the state or municipality has failed to achieve. Why? Because the federal government is a faraway money monolith which can make decisions with impunity, print extra dollars as needed, and enforce laws by the barrel of a gun. Localites and Staties are thus able to wash their hands and plead powerlessness by softly proclaiming, “It’s beyond my control.”

Therein rests the price of CYA and escalation culture: the launching of accountability so high and out of reach to where no one must face the trumpets, or shell out money for what they so tenaciously demand. Obviously such a system requires excessive bureaucracy, and the steadily-encroaching tendrils of top-down power into the lives of everyday souls. You may not wish to take ownership, so instead they will simply take ownership of you.     

Culturalism · Federal Government · Relations and Dating

The Predictable Illness

I admit to spending at least a small share of time browsing the Hufflepuff website. My logic holds that doing so provides an idea of the culture — or mental bearing — of those who think differently, making discourse with them more enjoyable. The alternative often devolves into mindless yammering over talking points selected from the political on high, and little eventual headway. At the same time, the process can reveal saddening truths about the roots of their ideas, and the addictions which fuel them. In the case of leftists, there seems to be a correlation between those perspectives and the swirling domination that drugs create.

Our journey of exposition will focus on Laura Cathcart Robbins, a prominent “Black Voices” columnist who has unleashed the following array of suspect. To start, we have the obligatory “I felt out of place” piece:

Seems to be a wholesome leftist wife:

With a healthy sense of intimacy:

Definitely not hung up at all about her choice of a dating partner:

She’s very comfortable with her decisions:

Not a shred of animosity towards the racial group she prefers:

And the final whammy:

Yes indeed, the empowered writer who layers her work with racist undertones is an admitted recovering alcohol and pills addict. I do not write this to salivate or rejoice over her struggles, but it reveals some difficult truths nonetheless. One would imagine the liberal mind with all of its opulence is capable of bypassing the trivial problems affecting the poor and downtrodden, yet in many cases there is no difference. This majestic “WOC” is brought to her knees by sheer dependency on the most basic of drugs.

On a broader level, Robbins’ story is disconcerting because of the already-established faithlessness of the Plural Left. Imagine if the California Comrade takes office in January, bringing like-minded throngs to the halls of power…will we be ruled by souls enslaved to the bottle, meds, or grass?

Time to drink on it.

Culturalism · Federal Government · investing · Personal Finance

Is Economic Decentralization Actually Good?

Among libertarian circles in the United States, there is a stalwart love for the concept of the gig economy model. The late politician Harry Browne openly advocated that employers should sack their workers and rehire everyone as independent contractors, while Gary Johnson was arguing for the Uberization of everything just a few years back. Their logic holds that getting outside government restrictions allows individuals to earn more, and companies to spend less. It sounds almost like a win-win scenario across the board.

Of course things are far more complicated in the applied economic sphere. As much as 1099’s and “zero hours contracts” are streamlined to begin with, the State has not cooperated with matters going forward. Contractors are thus left having to put aside money throughout the year in anticipation of a tax charge that would otherwise be taken out from the regular employee paycheck.  The result is people (especially the more youthful) getting shafted when they forget or fail to accumulate enough in savings to meet the annual tax bill. In theory the model is more efficient, but also dangerous to the average person’s financial picture.

Being off the hook for standard deductions can also increase the chances of having to purchase health insurance directly as a consumer, without any employer subsidies. Again, the model sounds great, though participants need to be careful about the type they buy. Cheaper health insurance plans and health sharing programs can elect for special rules to delimit their liability for conditions otherwise insured by federal mandate. An example of the shortcoming centers on the story of a diagnosed cancer tumor being deemed a preexisting condition, allowing the Medi-Share plan to deny financial support for medical services. The patient managed to successfully appeal, but at the cost of stress from a five-figure treatment bill.

High personal costs are often accompanied by unimpressive pay for gig workers. Although a top-performing delivery or rideshare driver can theoretically bring in over $1,000 per week, this is liable to demand long hours and no off days due to the nature of the market. Of course none of the money totals are guaranteed like a regular worker’s paycheck, so the pressure level can be astronomically higher, leading to mental health issues. Tie everything to the need to maintain one’s own car, and the picture becomes solidly grimmer.

The other issue with gig mania is the propensity for the leading firms to suppress individual freedoms. While Uber and Lyft have long been heralded as a way for the market to beat back the corrupt taxi union cartels and their big government supporters, they also permit a few silicone nerds to control service access. Uber itself recently admitted to banning 1,250 riders from the app for not observing corona mask restrictions. That’s over a thousand people who can no longer use the taxi service because their name and info has been blacklisted, and doesn’t include the political figures banned from their cars as well. A traditional cab would allow you to pay in cash, hence even those marked for derision would have the option to ride.  

So yes, decentralization has granted us enhanced freedoms, but in a twisted, cynical way. No longer must we tangle with the machinations of payroll; instead, one can simply stress and struggle to conserve money before STILL filing taxes amidst those April flowers. Hours are flexible, but so is the ability to even make a living. The greasy, unkempt medallion taxis have been replaced by loyal contract vehicles, but watch what you think, or they’ll pass on by.  

Ahh, the taste of liberty!

Culturalism · Federal Government · Uncategorized

The Wrath of Undecideds

MSNBC recently interviewed an Ohio voter to gauge his opinion of the Trump-Biden debate. The chap, who is undecided, gave a prototypical spiel about both candidates being negative, and asked them to provide more specifics. I had to stifle a laugh, because his line is so grimly predictable for an “independent moderate.” Such folks are trotted out every election, almost as if to maintain the fantastic faith people place in democracy, and the notion that votes somehow matter. The race becomes all about those swing ballots, with politicians desperately courting the enlightened few in hopes of seizing that magical 50.1 percent ticket so their legacy is protected. Democracy lives another glorious day.

But does it really? This sycophantic obsession with undecideds may warm individual hearts, yet in truth it simply masks the great scam which is civic duty in the United States. Headstrong souls march about feeling self-important in front of the reporter’s microphone, when in fact they reveal the bitter shallows of their own brain, and those of the comrade travelers nearby.

Fly back to 2012 for a moment. Obama and Romney were battling it out for the sainted executive office, and CNN began its custom of assembling a car of simpletons identified by their unwillingness to pick red or blue ahead of the election. Easily the most infuriating to hear blabber was our friend Joe:

The picture is everything here. Despite claiming to be the former owner of a flooring company, which probably required him to manage employees and make tough decisions, Stoltz remained dreamy-eyed until the very end, also demanding “more specifics” from Diversity Corporate Guy and Magic Underwear Corporate Guy.  Perhaps I expect too much of people, but how difficult is it to predict what a president will do based on history? Republicans like to spend on the military and cut taxes for the rich, while Democrats increase trans-revenue and expand welfare. Overlap exists, but namely on the Carebearland question.

 For a grown man who has lived through different elections to be still playing footsie with both parties right before the balloting day indicates either a lazy mind or pure ignorance, but not the foundations for brilliance and the sanctity of the vote. Joey would ultimately cast his paper for Obama after the president “was forceful” when responding to Romney, and because Billy Boy Clinton endorsed him. Furthermore, Obama’s mention of education in the debate really sealed the deal:

“That third debate sunk it all the way in for me — since I am in school and Obama was focused on education.”

That’s right, he voted for a politician who dropped the “education” word in a televised debate, because he is also in school. These are the creatures holding out to the end, my friends. Child-like minds agitating over trigger words and the prospect of being given something. Here are a couple more photos for good measure:

Is this the Try Guys convention?
Who’s writing this blog again?
The undecided “Radical for Jesus”

Ahh, is democracy not happiness?          

Culturalism · Federal Government

Of Mods and Generals

Some months back I noted that the generals who conservatives exalt are usually the biggest defenders of the political status quo. This explains why most nationalist coups in recent history have been led by colonels and below; those who have served long enough (and secured fat pensions) are less incentivized to pursue significant changes which might risk their own plot. Conversely, anti-reform coups such as in Thailand are pushed by generals who wish to protect personal interests against movements threatening the establishment. Rarely do we witness divergence from this general (haha) routine.

The events of this past week are no exception. When James Mattis was chosen by Trump as his Defense secretary in 2017, I had strong personal reservations, despite conservative gushing over the “Mad Dog.” Of special concern was his affiliation with Theranos, the scam-worthy company promoted to inflate the net worth of a certain pseudo-Steve Jobs, who now awaits trial on fraud charges. More information on that subject can be had in this book.

I also held reservations about someone with so many years in the military establishment now leading the Department of Defense, because fixtures are rarely reformers, and the DoD badly needs some changes. It was also painfully evident that few generals in recent memory have been particularly upright characters, with the possible exception of Peter Pace, who was quickly silenced for his opinions. Other characters include Stanley “He CARES” McChrystal, David “Double D Declassified” Petraeus, John “La Resistance” Hyten, and of course James “The OG” Crapper. None of these characters inspire confidence or leadership like Patton or Ike, but we’re supposed to honor them because muh uniform.

Thus it came as no surprise to hear of Mattis’ recently-reported folly. According to Bob Woodward, the retired Marine Corps general advised former DNI director Dan Coats that “there may come a time when we have to take collective action” against the president, who he described as “dangerous” and “unfit,” with “no moral compass.” In a surprise to no one, certain people are very thrilled by this story:

While it is true that previous suggestions were made for a coup against Barack Obama, these came from random opinion pieces, and not the mouth of a four-star general and secretary of defense. The concurrence of Dan Coats in part with Mattis’ comments makes it all the more disconcerting. Let us not forget too what Rod Squirrelstein had suggested about the 25th Amendment, along with prominent celebrities. The facts are on the wall, and somehow the tolerant liberal press is not cranking out foreboding warnings of a military junta taking over.

If this seems crazy, bear in mind what Trump just said at a recent press conference:

In our system of government, so brazenly calling out the powers that be can lead to disastrous consequences. Should something drastic occur before the election (or after), the media can be expected to cover it up by blaming some extremist, yet the average American will know what has occurred. We can only pray they do not become so emboldened as to lash out in that manner, for it would mean the charade of the Republic falls, and the mystique of democracy is lain aside.

Culturalism · Federal Government

Left In Disbelief

Much has been made of the COVID-19 panic over the last few months. An otherwise decent economy was put into the ditch by concerned governors, people got reported for not being zealous enough at their distancing measures, and epic debates were held over belief in the virus’ seriousness, or even more than that, its very existence. On the latter point, progressives made stark contrasts between the anti-scientific mutterings of Donald Trump, and the calm, collected rationalism of Fauci the Entertainer, whose belief in science appeared unshakeable, giving  the liberal order a worshipful altar.

Yet the stage only reveals a great tragedy: that leftists believe in nothing, and thus stand for nothing. Their entire existence revolves around a petty and materialistic lust for the immediate moment, for the fleeting blink and thirty-second spell, before a refresh and new paths. Completely incapable of looking past the foggy future, and desperately loathing the crumpled past, they latch onto brief flair, oftentimes without verifying the truth or consistency of prior advocacy. A couple glimpses and the scene changes, having learned little, and contemplated less.

Consider their broader obsession with shutting down and locking up all free actors during the pandemic. Because leftists tend to be irreligious, they naturally view the possibility of sickness (or death) with caterwauling terror. For them there is no afterlife, hence every minute on earth holds value in gold—even if they do spend it locked in a house to discharge tweets of rage against a national leader. The mask, itself a highly dubious  method to prevent transmission, serves as their symbol of collective mortality, and thus billowing ferocity. Any person not observing the guidelines is threatening them, while also showcasing how empty their lives happen to be.

Historically, leftism has not been any different. Mazzini famously criticized the early socialists for predicating their entire movement on material interests, such as pay and working conditions, safely ignoring factors of faith or dedication to community and nation.  Today they screech about healthcare and taxes, both means to allow the bitter souls within a spigot’s burst reason to survive, so again they live in shallow proof.  

If we look to their ultimate principle, that vision enshrining diversity, again the justification is devoid of meaning. Diversity trumpets as a mere check on the opposing side’s power, not for any rational reason apart. Hence the appeals to different cuisines and “global culture,” the latter topic one of little interest to the progressive outside his strictly political realm. For this same reason leftists do not comprehend good comedy: they cannot process any joy outside the fleeting material aspects of party politics, or financial security for themselves. Everything must be in service to goals of self-preservation, no matter contradictions or folly.

The question is imperative because limited faith does not imply affordance of respect for life to others. Progressives have no issue with slaying babies in the womb (or outside), and will make quick work of those who do not fight back. Such behavior is entirely rational, for if they fear death with the terror of a caught fly, inflicting the same on opponents is a natural route to feeling powerful, the unsated lust of every creature unsure of what control they possess when the heart ceases to tick.

And that makes their faith so dangerous.