June 27th, 2011 — Politics
After waking up to a victorious 7-2 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, I figured it would be a good a time as any to chase some of the tumbleweeds away from the blog and post something. Given that the 4th Amendment is barely on judicial life support now, and the various other events which have transpired since this case began, this is somewhat of a hollow victory. But it’s still nice to see that my evil plan (or my chaotic, complete lack thereof) worked.
But, yea, way back when we fist posted the little GTA mod which got the moral panic ball rolling again, lots of people told us to shut up and say we made the whole thing up so that the whole issue would go away. A few people ostensibly on “our side” even threatened us, rather comically, with physical violence if we didn’t. Now, it’s hard to say whether the media and the politicians would have slowed down had we said it was a hoax or whatever, so we can’t really take the credit for the whole mess either way. Nonetheless, we made the decision to stand our ground and provoke the would-be censors into showing themselves.
Thanks to my proverbial man in Washington (who shall remain unnamed), I knew that there was legislation waiting in the wings to exploit an opportunity such as the one we presented on a silver platter. Likewise, and/or through independent research, it appeared that there were certain groups working within (but not necessarily in concert with leadership of) the political class who were salivating at the chance to use such legislation as a springboard to push the envelope of censorship even further. Be it, say, this fool who jumped the gun and proposed a law to censor “religious violence” in games (the ultimate goal here, if my sources were correct, was “protecting” children from any exposure to religion..), censoring depictions or promotion of hunting, or attacking all virtual and toy guns as well as pretty much anything which glorified the military.
Granted, some of the above probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere, as the VPC, for instance, can’t lobby their way out of a wet paper bag these days. But we decided to taunt the censors anyway in order to get them to push the laws before they had time to build up their junk science and incrementally legitimize the legal concept of game censorship. Without legal precedent on our side now, I feared we would slowly become like the UK or Australia, where the governments “unofficially” ban games from time to time, and even some gamers seem to think it’s fine to “protect the children.” And had the other side won the precedent in a slow grind, there’s no telling where it would lead.
As such, we felt it better to force their hand, as it were.
Was this a risky gambit? Sure. But in the end it played out mostly as I thought it would (aside from losing Thomas and picking up Scalia..).
While, again, the other modders and I can’t take full credit since it was probably inevitable, I’d still like to take this opportunity to thank the EMA, ESA, and everyone else who did all the heavy legal lifting on behalf of the industry and its consumers. Not that anyone there will ever read this, but, still. I would also like to apologize to them and (especially!) to Rockstar Games for all the money that was spent as a result of a few lines of modded code and my inability to STFU.
I would apologize to the people of California (not to mention Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, and the other States who jumped on the ban-wagon) for all the legal expenses you have to pay for, but you voted for the idiots, and got what you paid for. Or did you pay for what you got? One or the other.
June 20th, 2010 — Politics
Jennifer III posted a great piece yesterday warning about the dangers of collaborating with those who appear to be an enemy’s enemy. To put things in historical perspective, she opens up with an example of how Chinese anarchists were thrown under the bus after helping the Bolsheviks take over.
The whole thing is worth reading, but there’s one part which jumped out at me for some reason:
As soon as the anarchists were no longer needed, the nature of the relationship changed. Many anarchists defected to communism and became influential leaders. Those who chose to continue working toward anarchist goals were dealt with accordingly, just like the guy on the top of this page.
Did the nature of the relationship between the communists and anarchists really change though? Or did the anarchists not properly understand the true nature of the relationship to begin with?
I don’t ask this because I feel her analysis is wrong in any way, but rather because it’s worth exploring just how the Chinese anarchists misunderstood the relationship. Well, that, and lately my brain has been kicking around the question of how so many current “anarchists” continue to align themselves with communists and socialists even after seeing the disastrous real world results.
The obvious answer is that impressionable, would-be anarchists are prone to fall for Marxist propaganda because it claims that the end goal is a classless, stateless society. But under even the most basic examination, this part of Marxist theory is and always has been ridiculous.
According to Marx, the communist workers’ paradise is achieved by passing through an allegedly temporary socialist hell where the state grows so large and powerful that it eventually encompasses everything and everybody. And since the workers supposedly control the state, it is then when the state is supposed to magically disappear. Since everybody would then control everything, the theory is that there would be no need for a state.
But this is only an illusion of a stateless society. What you actually end up with is a state so pervasive that it simply becomes indistinguishable from anything else. With nothing private to point to in contrast, and no limits on the ability of the collective to initiate force against the individual, one could only define such a society as stateless because there would be no way to prove otherwise.
One could say that Marx’s greatest trick was hiding a totalitarian forest state behind a few rhetorical trees..
So, yea, going back to the subject of enemies’ enemies, how should a liberty-minded person– anarchist, libertarian, Threeper, or otherwise –choose who to ally with? And what lesson should they learn from the Chinese anarchists? Well, I’d say a good rule of thumb is to be very wary of anybody who seeks more power for the collective yet claims it will make you more free somehow. This works whether you’re talking about communist revolutionaries, or “Republicans” like Bush who gave you the so-called PATRIOT Act and “abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market.”
May 16th, 2010 — Guns, Politics
WRSA posted part of Ayn Rand’s famous Nature of Government essay earlier today, with a suggestion to read the rest, then “look around, and behold the antithesis.”
While the portion quoted at WRSA is indeed one of Rand’s most concise pieces on individual rights (well, compared to Galt’s 90 page speech in Atlas Shrugged at least..), it also demonstrates that Rand was her own antithesis. It’s also the reason I don’t consider myself an Objectivist.
Toward the middle of the bit posted over at WRSA, she says this about the right to self-defense..
The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.
If some “pacifist” society renounced the retaliatory use of force, it would be left helplessly at the mercy of the first thug who decided to be immoral. Such a society would achieve the opposite of its intention: instead of abolishing evil, it would encourage and reward it
..only to turn around and say something one would expect from a breathless Brady Bunch press release.
If a society provided no organized protection against force, it would compel every citizen to go about armed, to turn his home into a fortress, to shoot any strangers approaching his door—or to join a protective gang of citizens who would fight other gangs, formed for the same purpose, and thus bring about the degeneration of that society into the chaos of gang-rule, i.e., rule by brute force, into perpetual tribal warfare of prehistoric savages.
And then she takes it one further and says something the Brady Bunch have generally been afraid to say publicly since they changed their name from Handgun Control Inc.
There is only one basic principle to which an individual must consent if he wishes to live in a free, civilized society: the principle of renouncing the use of physical force and delegating to the government his right of physical self-defense, for the purpose of an orderly, objective, legally defined enforcement.
Rand was brilliant when it came to economic theory and rights in general, but this idea of the role of government is downright puzzling. In this very same piece, she talks about how government has exploited loopholes in the Constitution and “is arrogating to itself the power of unlimited whim,” yet she would still trust government to have all the guns.
Yea, yea, I know, contradictions don’t exist, if you think you’re facing one, check your premises, and all that.
Well, in this case, her very own premise is that government “should be an impersonal robot, with the laws as its only motive power.” Likewise, she seems to suggest we just need better rules to limit government power so that it can be controlled.
But until we invent something like Skynet to govern us, does not Lord Acton’s Dictum apply to the men in state issued costumes given virtually absolute power via a monopoly of force? Would not a disarmed society face the same threat as her example of a “pacifist” society (and, later in the piece, her example of an anarchist society) when the first thug comes along to seize the apparatus of the state? Since the government we have now ignores existing restrictions placed upon it in the Constitution, why would it obey more rules? And how exactly would one go about controlling an Objectivist government run amok after relinquishing one’s right of self-defense to same?
Rand once referred to libertarians as the “hippies of the right,” who substitute anarchism for capitalism. Anarchism, in turn, she dismissed as the “most irrational, anti-intellectual notion ever spun.” But what is so intellectual about saying better, objective rules are all that’s needed to control the government? That doesn’t end the argument. Control of any government is only the beginning of the argument.
All this isn’t to say I feel anarchism would work as a system, per se. In my *cough* objective opinion, nothing will work indefinitely. Least of all while humans have anything to do with politics.
Starting at the left, Marx’s Utopian dream of communism would eventually lead back to competition and capitalism as human nature clashed with the dreadful, collectivist sameness. In the real world, where Marx’s purportedly intermediate socialism as as far left as one can realistically go, the poverty caused by dragging everyone down to the lowest common denominator would spark the same competitive spirit. Just as Rand herself was a ultimately a product of the Russian Revolution.
On the other hand, should capitalism (or something vaguely resembling it) be allowed to work, overall prosperity is sure to follow. Prosperity, however, gives people free time to dream up wacky schemes to control other people. Likewise, prosperity also breeds complacency as people forget how much hard work went into creating it. Complacency, in turn, often leads to people assuming prosperity is a given. People who then begin to think like Marx and decide they can kill the proverbial golden goose in order to share all the golden eggs.
On a long enough timescale, rinse. Repeat.
As such, my position as an anarchist “hippie” isn’t to destroy government, but as a foil to statists on both sides. In reverse, my support of restoring the Constitution isn’t because I particularly like government, but because a limited Federal government offers the best chance at some degree of autonomy within my lifetime. Well, unless it collapses under the weight of its own debt first, but, yea..
If everyone else, like Rand, feels (at the very least) that some government is a necessary evil to protect society from force, then so be it. As long as you don’t initiate force against me, enter into whatever flavor of mutual defense pact you like.
But either way, I reserve the right of self-defense no matter which variety of statist is in charge. This is nonnegotiable.
March 21st, 2010 — lol, Politics
While it’s obviously a bit of a downer that the Former Republic is now officially a fascist* state, just think of the epic lulz to be had in four years when the mandate kicks in, and all the college kids who supported Obama realize that “increased access” to health care really means they have to buy insurance.
From the very insurance companies Obama, Pelosi, and fiends have spent the last few years denouncing as pure eeeeevil.
Why, the collective shrieks of “where’s my unicorn?!1″ alone will almost be worth it.
It will be even more amusing if the reconciliation package passes the Senate with the Federal takeover of college loans intact. Should the Feds start handing them out like candy as they did with mortgages through their proxies at Fanny and Freddy, the young O-bots will be lucky to get a job delivering pizzas with their soon-to-be worthless degrees. Which, in turn, will make the mandatory insurance even more painful for them.
*Fascism, properly understood, is essentially a “Third Way” between capitalism and socialism where the state and the corporations (in this case the insurance and drug companies) form a symbiotic oligarchy. So, no, I’m not using the term as generic hyperbole.
October 25th, 2009 — Politics
Over the last year or so, deregulation has become something of a dirty word even though there hasn’t really been much deregulation of anything since the ’90s. Even people who one would normally expect to support free-market ideas have been lulled by the siren song of the statists. Of course it doesn’t help that statists have hijacked terms like deregulation and used them to mask giving special favors to special interests who donate lots of money to them.
During this time, I’ve grow quite sick of explaining the technical differences between actual deregulation and regulatory capture. Likewise, as a libertarian/borderline anarchist with virtually no representation in government, it’s quite annoying to be blamed for said government’s actions. It’s doubly annoying when otherwise intelligent people somehow manage to confuse libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism with corporatism and fascism just because all use words like “deregulation” in one way or another.
Yes. I’ve actually talked to people who think like that. And, yes, that’s people, as in, plural.
As such, I’ve decided to write a simple explanation of regulatory capture to link to in the future instead of wasting breath and keystrokes to explain it over and over and over. Here it is:
Regulatory Capture for Dummies
or: How I Learned to Stop Hating Freedom and Love the Dollar
Imagine you run a small business which sells widgets. You have one other competitor, who we’ll call Bob, that sells twice as many widgets as you do. You’re not all that worried about it though because you’re planning to release a shiny new widget with an extra gizmo and racing stripes next week which will earn you some of his market share.
Now imagine that I’m a grumpy old Senator who decides to regulate your industry because I’m sick of the damn kids using their newfangled widgets on my lawn, have been told the competition between you and Bob is “unfair” by people who don’t make widgets, or whatever.
Now imagine that my idea of regulation involves grabbing both of you by the throat and squeezing gently so that the lack of air makes it harder (or impossible) for you to make widgets. Naturally, I’ll shout that I’m doing it “for the children” while you struggle for air.
If I release both of your throats and walk away so that you can both go back to making and selling widgets, that’s deregulation. Simple, isn’t it?
Seeing as Bob was selling twice as many widgets before I started choking you both, Bob has more money, so he pulls out $100 and sticks it in my pocket. You can call this a license fee, a tax, a campaign contribution, or a bribe if you like. But either way, I let go of Bob and keep choking you.
I’ll then use a photo of Bob being released (which is conveniently cropped to keep your choking out of the frame..) and use it in a campaign ad highlighting my “free-market” record. You probably won’t feel very deregulated, but, hey, when have pesky things like facts ever mattered in politics?
After seeing Bob released to much fanfare, you might start digging around in your pockets, or waving a cup at “investors” walking by on the street, in order to find the $100 fee/tax/bribe thingy so that you can get back to work and/or breathing regularly. However, while you’re trying to come up with the money, Bob is out selling widgets to his customers and yours. He’s also selling them at a higher price since he no longer has your competition.
Now imagine that just before you finally raise enough capital from your pockets or from people passing by, Bob stops by with a big roll of cash he just made selling widgets. Bob sticks another $100 fee/tax/bribe in my pocket, plus an extra $50 campaign donation, and asks me to crack down on those “dangerous” unlicensed widget makers.
Which, of course, means you.
In turn, I squeeze your throat harder. Only this time I use a video of your face turning blue in a campaign ad behind a talking point of how I’m “pro-business” because I saved Bob’s company from the “unfair competition” of unlicensed widgets. And how I “protected the children” from your “dangerous” product.
That’s regulatory capture. See the difference?
(Oh, yea, and assuming you eventually come up with the $100 license fee/tax/bribe before you suffocate, well, now Bob’s prices will collapse since you will now make more product than there is demand and you’ve got a lower price. Due to the rapid expansion of his business while you were choking, I will now deem him “too big to fail,” take 40% of your profits, and give it to him as a bailout.)
Now replace you and Bob in the above scenarios with car companies, investment banks, etc.., or even GSEs like Fannie Mae. Think of all the so-called “deregulation” which gave them special exemptions them to do things which would have gotten you thrown in jail for fraud.
Does that sound like a libertarian free-market where anybody can compete to you?
Or does it sound like an elite group of corporatist oligarchs have essentially bought the state and used its lethal, coercive force– the “..or else!” which stands behind all regulation –to choke their competition?
Regardless of whether you actually agree with me that freedom in the marketplace is a good thing, if you came to the conclusion that choking people on behalf of special interests isn’t exactly free anything, you might understand what it feels like to be a libertarian these days..
August 15th, 2009 — lol, Politics
Speaking of freak shows which I wish one could ignore, watching the escaped mental patients running the asylum District of Crazy government moan about health care is actually kind of amusing. While it’s hard to make heads or tails of the endless spin, it seems their main talking point now is that it’s just too expensive. And as far as I can tell, the popular solution which most of them deny favoring is to emulate the increasingly authoritarian country whom we fought a bloody revolution against a couple hundred years ago by having government “experts” ration/deny care and generally removing as much choice from the system as they feel they can get away with.
Or, in other words, they want to make it better by making it worse. You know, to save money they shouldn’t be spending to begin with.
But, yea, this got me thinking. Apparently, nationalized health insurance is important because, without it, you might go into debt (which they would rather you accumulate by borrowing non-existent money to buy a new TV to A: stimulate the economy, B: distract you via “reality” shows from the wholesale Treasury looting operation, and C: so they can blame your sitting in front of the TV for obesity or something) if you get sick and have to *gasp* pay the bill for some medical service which would have been considered close to Necromancy even ten years ago at an emergency room which cannot deny treatment. Or if your attention span failed during that run-on sentence, I’m saying you won’t die without national health care.
You’ll just be stuck owing ever more worthless bits of paper to pay for it if you get sick.
Without food, however, you will die without it. Period.
So if “health care reform” is important enough to follow the lead of the open air island prison where Great Britain used to be, then shouldn’t hunger care reform be important enough to copy another authoritarian regime?
Like, say, North Korea?
Seeing as political science is essentially the art of inventing numbers to make a really stupid, collectivist point, let’s just go ahead and assume the US spends eleventy times as much per capita on food than they do in N. Korea. Let’s also claim, breathlessly, that there are 47 gajillion, err, un-in-fooded people in the US. If we were to take inspiration from Kim Jong Il, nationalize the food industry, and ration everybody a ball of cold rice every week (and perhaps a rat or something on special occasions, if you’re lucky enough to find one), we could save tons of money while still guaranteeing everyone their “fair share!”
And once the malnutrition kicks in, we’re sure to wipe out the parenthetically aforementioned obesity problem too.
Or, seeing as a vast majority of medical spending is on the elderly, well, instead of just telling them to take a pain pill and shut up and die to save money, why not just combine the two plans..
August 14th, 2009 — Guns, lol
Just when it seemed nothing could ever be ridiculous enough to inspire me to touch the blog again after months of having my senses numbed by ridiculous political theater, this bit of rubbish from the “Gun Guys” totally pegged my facedeskometer.
Summary, in case you don’t want to give them the traffic, goes like this:
Real guy goes to a real town hall with a real gun, which, seeing as it was in New Hamster, was probably attended by other real people with real guns. This real event from the real world, however, is apparently just:
the embodiment of the gun lobby’s dangerous and irresponsible myth: that an “armed society is a polite society.”
And how do they counter this “irresponsible myth?”
But this old XBOX advertisement that was banned several years ago shows the complete opposite.
So, basically, reality is a myth, but paid actors in a fake scenario with imaginary guns in a commercial for a game console is a “cogent argument.” Oooooooooooookay.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be going back to being abducted by aliens in Fallout 3 because it seems a lot more realistic than whatever world the “Gun Guys” and the rest of the freaks in DC think they’re living in..
April 13th, 2009 — lol, Politics
Whilst browsing the politics tab at Fark, my mouse was drawn into an inescapable irony vortex created by this link to the Daily Kos. In it, the author shrieks breathlessly about how Justice Thomas should be impeached. Example:
How is this man allowed to serve on our Supreme Court when he seems to have no idea what is contained in the Constitution? He does not “embrace” the Bill of Rights?
Clarence, here’s a radical idea that may not have occurred to you yet: Look at the fucking Constitution, you dipshit. It sure as hell contains a Bill of Rights, but does not contain any sort of Bill of Obligations or Bill of Responsibilities.
So what are these rights contained in the “fucking Constitution” which Justice Thomas doesn’t know about? Well, if you follow the link to the story which the Kosstard is apparently incapable of reading..
He gave examples: “It seems that many have come to think that each of us is owed prosperity and a certain standard of living. They’re owed air-conditioning, cars, telephones, televisions.”
Those are luxuries, Justice Thomas said.
Unless someone swapped the US and Soviet Constitutions when I wasn’t looking, it appears to me that Thomas was basically telling a group of students they shouldn’t wait around for government handouts. Because free cars and televisions aren’t rights contained in the “fucking Constitution.” Likewise, the “Bill of Responsibilities” line looks like one of those fancy metaphor thingies which one would assume the self-proclaimed intellectual giants on the left would have learned about at school.
Meanwhile, Justice Ginsburg is shocked that her use of foreign law (which obviously isn’t part of the Constitution) to decide cases is controversial. Yet Thomas is the one they want to impeach. But, again, it’s probably just projection.
April 7th, 2009 — lol, Politics
A long time ago, Glenn Beck did a segment where he criticized GTA for promoting violence. Now he’s being blamed for the Pittsburgh loon, and bizarro finger-pointing ensues over at GamePolitics.
The funny part is how so many of the moonbat commenters over there seem to be frothing at the chance to get payback of some sort against the eeeeevil conservatives who try to take their toys. This, despite the fact that roughly four out of five politicians who support game censorship are so-called liberal Democrats. In fact, it’s quite amazing how the left has pushed the whole Republican = censor meme while they’re the ones who were behind 95% of the failed laws.
But, then, like most things with the left these days, they’re probably just projecting their own neurosis onto others.
April 6th, 2009 — Guns, lol, Politics
Remember all that talk about banning guns on the official White House web site or from the mouth of the Attorney General or Secretary of State? Well, some on the left seem to think you’re a paranoid right-wing conspiracy theorist for pointing it out. Likewise, they think you’re paranoid if you believe you might have to defend yourself from tyranny. So how do they want to cure you of this paranoia?
By banning guns and sending SWAT teams to kill their political opposition.
Though, in all fairness, I suppose it wouldn’t be paranoia anymore if they actually did it.