Month: January 2016

What Happened to the Wall Street Sheriff?

Elizabeth Warren is a big fat phony – that’s the topic of my Taki’s Mag piece today. An excerpt:

Elizabeth Warren has spent her congressional career raging against big-bank bogeymen. She was elected from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts based primarily upon her tough stance against the financial industry. “Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors and acting like we should thank them,” she boomed at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Hallelujah to that, Sister Warren.

I have no qualms with ripping on the coke-addled computer nerds on Wall Street who make money hand over fist without creating anything. I agree with Brit Lord Adair Turner, chairman of the country’s chief financial regulatory body, that most of what goes on in the ledgers of too-big-to-fail banks, trading on amalgamated debt instruments and betting if blue-collar Billy will lose his house, is “socially useless.”

Chief Warren is more or less on the same page. Or so I thought.

Read the whole thing thing here to find out why Sen. Warren whores herself out to Goldman Sachs instead of standing by working folk.

No, I’m not a feminist

The following is a guest post by Daisy Belden

“Are you a feminist?”

People ask me this question all the time. I used to shrug it off, having had a generally benign view of feminism as something that existed to fight against the dangers women faced in their everyday lives, like rape, harassment, and other forms of violence. I could see where they were coming from, since I too, had experienced these dangers: the shaky nervousness of walking home alone, hearing about my mother’s friends who were stalked, dealing with creepy guys who just won’t leave you alone. I got it, I really did. It sucks, having to worry about that stuff. But, I thought, if they really cared about women being in danger, they would just support gun rights, right? The fact that they don’t, well, that was my first clue that feminism was not as advertised.

I started to recognize the detrimental effects of the feminist movement as it merged with social justice activists and gained more popularity on the internet. It seemed like all of the sudden, every college-aged girl I knew had adopted an obnoxious, posturing kind of misandry into her digital presence. Being a man-hating woman has become trendy — a kind of signaling mechanism that means someone is a hip/liberal/down-with-the-kids type of chick. I guess that makes me a grumpy old man shaking my cane, because hating half of humanity is not going to empower anyone.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 1.29.42 PM

When I tell people, “no, I’m not a feminist” the response is usually something like “…but you’re a woman.” For a brief moment I can feel my brain short-circuiting from the idea that 50 percent of the population would subscribe to one ideology simply because of their gender. Almost as if my entire individuality is washed away by the fact that I have ovaries. After regaining my composure after my mini-stroke, I try to find a way to boil down the plethora of reasons I have for not being a feminist into a succinct answer. Turns out I can’t, so here are some of the reasons why feminism is fundamentally flawed.

Women Have Brains

Shocking, I know. A feminist would have you believe that your ovaries should inform your political leanings, not your brain. It would be an understatement to say that this is pretty insulting to women who may have other priorities, like, oh I don’t know, the economic climate. Despite what a feminist will tell you, women are more than the sum of their reproductive organs. It may be hard to believe that any woman would find that she had more to gain basing her belief system on economics or philosophy rather than the parts of her body that make her a woman. But some do.

To a feminist, your brain is but an obstacle to your uterus. I have to deal with people asking me if I’m a feminist instead of my views on other, more intellectual topics, because of feminists, not because of some kind of paternalistic, condescending misogyny. It is feminists, not men, who don’t allow women to have intellectual individuality. They create the perception that women’s political philosophies are completely determined by their body parts instead of their brains. Forget economics. Forget philosophy. Forget business. Being pro-choice and pro-Planned Parenthood are all of the opinions and knowledge I need to navigate the world! Womyn unite!

This aspect of feminism offers an attractive opportunity for its proponents to add “meaning” to their lives (for some reason people seem to equate political activism with “meaning”) without ever having to open up a book — reading one article from Jezebel is good enough. To a feminist, your intellect matters none, because your gender validates your political positions. Feminists don’t have to back up their arguments because they’re women, therefore they know best about discrimination against women and what should be done about it. It is considered offensive to ask for logical, reasoned arguments, or evidence for that matter, so don’t even try.

Collectivism and Absolving Personal Responsibility

In this type of two-dimensional, collectivized perspective of women, all women are victims of men, and all men are violent rapists (because rape is defined by a feminist as any unsatisfactory sexual encounter these days). All individuality is lost, and you are judged by only one characteristic. All unsuccessful or unhappy women are mere victims of their discrimination, and every daily frustration becomes oppression. Because, why take personal responsibility for anything when you could blame the patriarchy?

For example, feminists often point to office environments as being hostile to women. The struggles of everyday life, like interactions with coworkers, which everyone faces, are now attributed to a greater conspiracy, “the patriarchy.” What no one will say to a feminist is that human interactions are fundamentally imperfect by their very nature, and that “the patriarchy” is not responsible for every interaction with another human being that you didn’t like. If a creepy guy hits on you at work, that sucks, but that’s life. Men have to deal with assholes just as much as women do, they just don’t complain about it. They know that humanity is riddled with imperfections and miscommunications, and that not everyone begins their day brainstorming ways to make your life feel like a fairy tale (sorry to burst your bubble).

Stop collectivizing people. A couple of jerks in your office don’t mean that all men are jerks. It just means that one guy is a jerk. Men probably don’t like him either.

Moreover, it astounds me that in such a free society, feminists have the nerve to say that women’s lack of professional success can be attributed to minor slights against them in school or in the workplace. These women demand that they be given jobs, engineering degrees, and board positions, instead of earning them — the odds are so stacked against them, they say (again, women can’t do it on their own because they are just a pair of ovaries, right?). Ayn Rand put it very succinctly in this quote on the Women’s Liberation Movement:

“There is no place on earth where so many opportunities are open to career women as in the United States, or where so many women have achieved successful careers. Women’s Lib proclaims that success should not have to be achieved, but it should be guaranteed as a right. Women, it claims, should be pushed by law into any job, club, saloon, or executive position they choose — and let the employer prove in court that he failed to promote a woman because she is a slob and not because she is a woman.”

Feminists are constantly infantilizing women as not able to achieve success by their own merit, but instead needing government and a collective movement to force the hand of an organization to raise them up. Women are incapable of achievement or self-confidence without intervention. Mindy Kaling sums this attitude up nicely in her book Why Not Me?:

“Just the attitude alone makes me sad: “We have to help our girls and teach them to be confident.” Well, guess what, young girls. You aren’t damsels in distress. You aren’t hostages to the words of your peers. You aren’t the victims that even your well-meaning teachers and advocates think you are.”

Feminists themselves perpetuate this notion that women are victims of society, in need of feminists’ help. They would love to take credit for Mindy Kaling’s success, by saying that she is the star of a television show because the body-positive feminist movement allowed her to be — discounting all of Kaling’s hard work and her writing and acting abilities. The reality is, Hollywood isn’t about giving affirmative action to talentless actresses just because they are chubby, Hollywood is about making money, and what makes them money is hiring people who get laughs and get shit done. Take your charity case to a non-profit; Mindy Kaling didn’t complain her way to the top. Mindy Kaling gets shit done.

Feminists Want Privileges, Not Rights

The things feminists demand — quotas, affirmative action for women in the workplace, free abortions for everyone — these are not rights, they are privileges. The feminist movement wants us to petition the government to receive political goods, not equality before the law. Peter Schwartz recalls the National Organization for Women’s march on Washington:

“When a march on Washington was organized by the National Organization for Women to publicize “violence against women,” the objects of the protest were, not just rape or battery, but reductions in welfare spending and cutbacks in affirmative action programs. As reported in the New York Times, the feminists “equated what they called ‘political violence’ with physical attacks.”

Feminists constantly blur the line between rights and privileges. Women should have the right to bodily autonomy, not the privilege of having other people pay for what she does to it. Women should have the right to sue their rapists in court, not the privilege of denying their rapists due process. Women should have the right to earn a living, not the privilege of any job they want. This is an important distinction. Women don’t need handouts. They’re smart.

So leave us alone, feminists. Stop telling women they’re successful because of Planned Parenthood. Stop blaming the patriarchy for your problems and build the next iPhone — it will do a lot more good for humanity than your complaining ever could.

Daisy Belden is a senior at the University of Michigan. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and writer, with a love for the controversial and contrarian.

Ron Paul, Donald Trump and the future of libertarianism

ronpaul1988

A little known congressman from Texas became a folk hero American politics for his conviction when he debated with the hawkish Rudy Giuliani, defending his own brand of anti-imperialism. When the supposed common sense would had said that his campaign was over, his results in 2008 showed the possibility of a libertarian future. He was reaching beyond the base of reliably antiwar voters like progressive and radical activists. He counted among his supporters pro-lifers, gun rights advocates and militias. Independents like soccer moms and small business owners also were interested.

Brian Doherty argued in the Ron Paul counter convention of 2012 that the most probable thing would be for his fans to become what Pat Robertson fans were in the eighties after they failed to nominate their candidate: they become part of the GOP. Indeed the religious right is part of the GOP that the establishment can’t ignore but the analogy wasn’t complete. While there are some arguments about how the religious right had become a powerful force they haven’t be able to elect a candidate of their own.

In a GOP when the most likely future is having Donald Trump as nominee is there a future for Libertarian Republicans? People initially were thinking that Rand Paul was just a younger Paul but his moderation has made angry the most hardcore fans of his father. With a big government Republican like Trump, the future is not a bright as one day it was supposed to be when everybody think Rand Paul was a sure thing for 2016. Certainly Trump has mocked the establishment in a way Ron Paul couldn’t despite being fairly more anti-establishment than the reality celebrity. But some Ron Paul supporters are now backing Trump and others Bernie Sanders. Could someone make any conclusion of these? Certainly not all Ron Paul supporters were libertarians but most were anti-establishment that’s why supporting Sanders or Trump make some sense.

The problem for Libertarian Republicans is that in that leaving the GOP would maybe not be a wise choice. The natural place to go would be the Libertarian Party, which has plenty of problems of their own. Despite being the largest third party, it has never garnered beyond 1 percent of the vote. I don’t necessarily think that third parties are a lost cause. But looking at the contenders of the LP nomination, I don’t think they are the ones to be capable of challenging the system. Gary Johnson is the libertarian version of Jon Hunstman, interesting but not exciting. John McAfee is the kind of eccentric candidate that is almost a cliché. While Austin Petersen tries to make his youth his selling point, ignoring the fact that most successful libertarian Ron Paul was a happy grandfather when he became popular.

But for libertarians stay in the GOP could be hurtful process, I don’t think many hardcore rothbardians would be able to go to vote for Trump so they would be distancing themselves from the party for a little while. The future will depend on whether Trump wins or loses. I honestly think that despite that Hillary Clinton is terrible she would be able to beat Trump. Clinton is probably one of the most intelligent politicians out where, she knows how to play beyond its base, like speaking about releasing classified information of UFOs, she knows there is a public for that. Trump probably would try to sound more populist to gain the independent vote but these is problematic since a lot of independent voters are minorities angered with him over his positions on immigration.

They may still be some light in the tunnel. A new generation of GOP politicians are more libertarian like Justin Amash, Mike Lee and Raul Labrador. Amash on some issues is a reminding of the radicalism of Ron Paul but with more smooth style. In a loss of Trump, libertarians should argue that libertarian conservativism is the only way to attract more people for a party dependent in a declining demographic.

But libertarians could go beyond politics, anarcho-capitalism appears to be radical option for libertarians angry about the current electoral climate. There are also left-libertarians that try to merge a support for free market and social justice. The growth of Bitcoin and the sharing economy may be a powerful driving force but there is also the Free State Project in New Hampshire.

Libertarians may learn an important lesson from Donald Trump. For a long time libertarians had argue over what are the correct ideas, but they hadn’t focused much on the candidates. Ron Paul was able to become a visible candidate because of his conviction. It is time for libertarians to realize that an individualist movement needs individuals that could promote libertarian ideals.

America’s first UFO

Apologies for my light posting these last few months, and thanks to all who have kept things going. I aim to pick up the pace a bit in the new year (though if anyone out there would like to take over social media duties drop me a line; I just don’t have the time to promote this blog like it deserves to be). The podcast is coming slowly but well, with the first three or four episodes beginning to take shape, some sources picked, and I’ve even put pen to paper on one of the scripts. Stay tuned.

Also, Ron Fournier’s book Love That Boy is out in April. You dads out there, pick it up, it’s bound to be great. I helped with a little research when it was still in the early stages, and am excited to see what the final product looks like.

But back to Virginia. The lady and I joined my family for a Shakespeare doubleheader at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton last week, and in between we visited two members of the Virginia Antiquarian Booksellers Association. At Barrister’s Books, so named because it’s tucked into the alley behind the downtown courthouse, I picked up a collection of columns by George Holbert Tucker, the longtime Virginiana columnist for the Virginian-Pilot who got his start as an archivist for the WPA. They’re full of strange little details, like the third Earl of Southampton Henry Wriothesley being visited in the Tower of London by his loyal cat, who kept its notorious rats at bay, John Pory’s drinking habits, a congressman’s attempt to repatriate Pocohontas’s remains, and more.

There’s one that probably won’t fit into the podcast’s story, but it’s so good I’ll transcribe it for you here, about the first UFO sighting in British America, on July 25, 1813. Unfortunately the book does not date when the columns were published, but they appeared in the Virginian-Pilot and Ledger-Star. Tucker begins by noting the more recent UFO sightings in 1965-67 before telling the story:

… the 1813 UFO recorded by the Norfolk County man easily matched all of the recent Virginia-oriented ones described in Vallee’s book and elsewhere, plus humorous touches lacking in the others. SO, first a word concerning the man who saw the aerial object and reported it to Thomas Jefferson.

Edward Hansford, the man who reported the UFO in 1813 over what is now Chesapeake, was a member of an old York County family that acquired notoriety in 1676 when one of its members, Major Thomas Hansford, was hanged by Sir William Berkeley for the traitorous role he played in Bacon’s Rebellion.

The later Hansford, a carpenter, was living in Norfolk County during the Revolution, working on forts erected by the Commonwealth. In 1784, he married Ann Kidd in Norfolk County. In 1802, he was appointed harbormaster for the District of Norfolk and Portsmouth.

At the time of the sighting, Hansford operated the Washington Tavern on London Street in Portsmouth, the sign of which depicted the Father of Our Country commanding his troops on one side and planting a field on the other. When Hansford died is not known, but his widow survived until 1832, running a fashionable boarding house on East Main Street in Norfolk where in 1824 she was Lafayette’s hostess.

So much for prologue. The following is the significant excerpt from Hansford’s letter to Jefferson, dated Portsmouth, July 13, 1813, in which he described the strange object that he and a Baltimore citizen named Jon L. Clark witnessed.

“We the subscribers most earnestly solicit, that your honor will give us your opinion on the following extraordinary phenomenon viz.: At (the exact time is omitted in the letter) hour on the night of the 25th instant, we saw int he South a Ball of fire as full as large as the sun at Maridian (sic) which was frequently obscured within the space of ten minutes by a smoke emitted from its own body, but apparently retained its brilliancy, and form during that period, but with apparent agitation. It then assumed the form of a turtle which also appeared to be much agitated and as frequently obscured by a similar smoke. It descended obliquely to the West, and raised again perpendicular to its original hite (sic) which was on or about 75 degrees. It then assumed the shape of a human skeleton which was frequently obscured by a like smoke and as frequently descended and ascended – it then assumed the form of a Scotch Highlander arrayed for battle and extremely agitated, and ultimately passed to the West and disappeared in its own smoke.”

Whether Jefferson answered Hansford’s letter is now unknown, but one thing is certain: The liquor provided by the Washington Tavern must have been pretty potent. Otherwise, how can we account for Hansford’s transformation of what was a legitimate UFO into a human skeleton or a Scotch Highlander?

If Georgio Tsoukalos feels like visiting Southside to explore Virginia’s extraterrestrial connections, I am at his service.

Dreams, consciousness and sanity

It’s interesting that before he became the first human to die live on the Web, Tim Leary changed his tune (and the title of one of his books) from Exo-Psychology to Info-Psychology.

Leary acknowledged that his one-time obsession with space exploration and the future of humanity off-planet was at least partly the result of his time in jail in the 1960s and 70s and the natural tendency of the mind to want to free itself by flying high above the prison grounds. For an old dude, he seems to have rapidly grasped the possibilities of the Web and some of the changes to our lives that digital world would bring. He apparently continued to consume plenty of drugs up until the end. The funny thing, to me, is that there’s no indication that in all his years of psychonauting he ever deeply explored the free, easily available and abundant resource that’s provided to us every night: The Dreamscape. (more…)

Reddit mods are creepy ideologues

I avoid using reddit, mostly because it has a bad layout, a bad userbase, and bad mods (the cyberpunk subreddit is cool though). Today, upon hearing about the recent New Year’s mass sexual assault and other lawbreaking by migrants in Germany. I decided to wander over to the news subreddits to see if the mods were squelching facts that they didn’t like. It turns out that they were, and my bias was confirmed.

Major subreddits were deleting all reports of the sex attacks. Despite it occurring to perhaps thousands of people in the major cities of Hamburg, Cologne and Stuttgart, mods on /r/new and /r/worldnews all said that it wasn’t allowed, using obviously bullshit excuses like “Wrong subreddit” or “local crime story.” Both of these subreddits regularly break 10,000 users reading at any given time.

Their narrative broke down it was clear that the incidents were so bad that Angela Merkel publicly condemned them. So I notify the mods that the Chancellor of Germany commented on this crisis that other officials had already called “unprecedented.” This forced them to allow one heavily-buried thread in the subreddit after about 24 hours of total censorship.

standardWait, commentary from a head of state is required for such a submission? I immediately know that’s bullshit from links that other “local crime” stories (that coincidentally painted migrants in a positive light) compiled by a user in another thread, and so I send them this message containing these links to point out how the argument clearly doesn’t hold up. Posted in text form so the links can be clicked:

It’s obvious that you don’t like the political implications, since these stories were not removed.

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3vn1w3/gay_refugees_placed_in_separate_accommodation/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3wsr9a/french_teacher_invented_school_attack/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3x3mmy/two_paris_attack_link_suspects_arrested_in/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3vk68q/germany_ablaze_over_200_attacks_on_refugee_homes/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3xbvaq/violence_erupts_between_police_and_demonstrators/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3jlmmi/five_people_have_been_injured_in_a_fire_in_a/

Local crime story: https://np.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3s342w/berlin_protesters_clash_with_police_near/

Here’s the only response I got from the not-at-all ideological moderators:

mutedWhy the sudden stonewalling after a reasonable question is brought up during a reasonable exchange?

(more…)