Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Corporations control government"

A draft-clearing post here.  This one has apparently been sitting around a while.

Seen on Facebook:

"The government doesn't own the media, corporations own the media. Corporations control government (and farmers and universities, and so on), not the other way around."

At best, this is a semantic argument. More accurately, it is a classic... manipulative sophistry. It is promulgated vigorously like a religious catechism, by the very entities that most benefit from the conflation. And otherwise intelligent people repeat it uncritically, feeding the problem by misdirecting their perfectly understandable anger at the wrong target.

Look, what is the definition of a corporation? It is an entity that is recognized by law (law which is created, interpreted and enforced by the same state), entitled to certain specific favors from the state. What most irritates most of us about powerful corporations is that they use their influence to curry additional favors from the state: to stifle their competition in a way that would not be possible in a free market, to give themselves competitive advantage through the gerrymandering of regulations, to protect themselves from their customers, etc.

The state could shut down any corporation it wanted to, tomorrow, because it is the state to which any corporation owes its existence and its continuing influence. Seems to me the alpha dog is pretty clear, on that basis--even if they are in collusion with each other.

Am I then defending the corporate part of this corporate mercantilist arrangement (that is:  fascism lite) that we have here? Oh HELL no. By aggressing against others, using the state as a hired thug, such corporate entities contribute to the evil and are just as culpable. But if one wants to "strike the root", one must recognize who wields the actual power to harm real people. Without a state, corporations would have no "legitimate" means of exerting their influence. The state, on the other hand, has declared itself the sole monopoly on "legitimate" coercion and aggression--even with respect to the mechanics of buying its influence!

The huge blind spot of most of those who rail on against corporations is that they almost invariably propose to solve the problem by handing over the (rest of the) reins to the single biggest, most corrupt and murderous "corporation" in the history of mankind--the state.

What on earth do they think is going to happen, with that dynamic going on?

Well hello there, David Hathaway.

Not quite by chance (but close) I just ran across one David Hathaway's writing at Lew Rockwell's site, and initial impressions are very encouraging. 

The first article I stumbled on was called "Once Upon a Time in OKC" and it begins:

This story is fiction. Once upon a time, there was an FBI Agent, Bob, and an ATF Agent, Sam, that didn’t know each other. They worked miles apart. But, they both were good little feds and they read their agencies’ marching orders and watched the controlled media to know who they should be targeting.

The FBI Agent, Bob, decided that he could get recognition by targeting militias and white supremacist groups. He didn’t know any, so he hired a guy off the street, Tommy, who in turn hired a paid unwitting flunky underling, to go with him to, um, Arkansas to the small town of Eloy City where people supposedly wanted to be left alone. It was slim pickings in that town until he met a guy, John, who also wanted to talk tough about blowing things up. This guy would be a great target. This guy talked as tough as Tommy did. Tommy could keep the federal gravy train coming his way and FBI Bob could write lots of fancy reports to get promotions.

The ATF Agent, Sam, decided that he could get recognition by targeting militias and white supremacist groups. He didn’t know any, so he hired a guy off the street, John, who in turn hired a paid unwitting flunky underling, to go with him to, um, Arkansas to the small town of Eloy City where people supposedly wanted to be left alone. It was slim pickings in that town until he met a guy, Tommy, who also wanted to talk tough about blowing things up. This guy would be a great target. This guy talked as tough as John did. John could keep the federal gravy train coming his way and ATF Sam could write lots of fancy reports to get promotions.

Of course, you know how this "fiction" story ends.  It sounds pretty convincing coming from a former DEA agent, too.

I was also much taken by his treatment of the "constitutional cop" problem, which begins thus:

There is a lot of chatter amongst conservative “2nd Amendment cops” and military folks about how they will not obey the orders when the grand pronouncement is made to take guns. It will be a cop sit out. What will really happen is quite different. Your Republican cop or military buddy will gladly and patriotically take your guns.

Gun grabs and grabs of anything else – children, money, real estate, raw milk – don’t come down the chain of command as such. There is not an edict that comes out saying:

Obama Executive Order 666:

All federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and all active duty military personnel are hereby ordered and required to seize firearms from all persons whose only crime is non-compliance with the firearms transfer provisions contained in the Children’s and Puppies’ Omnibus Health and Safety Act of 2014. Operation Patriot Crush will commence at midnight on June 1, 2014. All will be required to participate from that date forward and to actively engage in door-to-door gun seizure operations against fellow Americans. Constitutional objections by officers will not be recognized and are hereby deemed meritless.

What really happens is that good ol’ patriotic cops are told by their bosses to show up at the police department at o dark thirty for a briefing about the execution of a search warrant. This happens hundreds of times every day. These law enforcement agencies often have military personnel and resources dedicated to assist in their mission as well. No one ever objects. There is action afoot against n’er do wells. It is based on a hush-hush deep dark sinister undercover deal. It can’t be discussed because cooperators are “in deep” and it’s all “need to know.”


Okay, so I've got him bookmarked now, and will check out some more as time permits.  It would be  good to have another solid resource to link to.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Protection, without the racket.

Just in case you're tempted to believe that Will Grigg is all "cry the dystopia" with no recognition of workable alternatives, note here his recent report on the actions of one Dale Brown.  Brown may be deserving of some sort of brass balls bravery award for publicly offering a protection service in direct contrast to the protection racket that most of us have to deal with.

"How would things be different,” muses Dale Brown of the Detroit-based Threat Management Center, “if police officers were given financial rewards and commendations for resolving dangerous situations peacefully, rather than for using force in situations where it’s neither justified nor effective?”

Brown’s approach to public safety is “precisely the opposite of what police are trained and expected to do,” says the 44-year-old entrepreneur. The TMC eschews the “prosecutorial philosophy of applied violence” and the officer safety uber alles mindset that characterize government law enforcement agencies. This is because his very successful private security company has an entirely different mission – the protection of persons and property, rather than enforcing the will of the political class. Those contrasting approaches are displayed to great advantage in proto-dystopian Detroit.

All in all, a pretty impressive response to the problem.  Is it perfect?  Of course not, but we shouldn't make the same mistake we so often see and decry in the statists, demanding demonstrable utopian perfection even to consider a possible alternative, while tolerating and defending nearly any atrocity in the status quo.  Brown's idea doesn't have to be perfect, it simply has to be better--and really, that's not such a high bar to get over.  I might personally bristle at the idea of a "good person file", notwithstanding its (very clever) psychological utility as described in one of Brown's anecdotes, but then I must remind myself of the far more important consideration here:  the whole system is opt-in.  Voluntary.  You can walk away if you don't like it.  (No wonder it's got officialdom in such a tizzy.)

Hopefully Mr. Brown continues to have the success he's had so far.  And that more and more people notice.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'll try not to make a habit of this...

...but since the legions of Never Forget! Army soldiers dutifully continue to remind us, continually, of That Event What Made Us Lose Our Shit Completely And Beg For Total Tyranny Really We Like It We Luv It We Wants Some Moar Of's kinda hard to avoid.

And so I ran across this article of a few years ago, from the tenth "anniversary" of the (latest) Great Enabling Event.  It's interesting, in the same way that I now recall all the revelations that came out of the Waco massacre were interesting.  It reminds me that I'm firmly in the camp of "I've Got No Idea What Really Happened, And Neither Do You, And The Only Thing I Know For Sure Is That The Official Story(TM) Is Bullshit, Because 'Official Story(TM)'".  It even seems reasonably done, which is not something that I can say for others in the genre.  Worth a bookmark, at least for me.

But this post isn't about the article itself.  What caused me to pipe up on this Sacrosanct Day Of Remembrance (send money and votes, plebes!) was the thoroughly amusing video reference in the article's end notes:

Some people do understand how to do style.  I usually find the rapid-fire delivery aggravating, but it seems to work here.

And now it's marked here, for future reference.

Friday, August 22, 2014

JPFO and the curse of the institution.

Today I learn from Claire that JPFO--or rather, the (and this is gonna sound hauntingly familiar) arbitrary control structure that pretends to represent JPFO members--suddenly seems hellbent on presenting itself for what seems like certain self-destruction in the form of a business takeover by Alan Gottlieb's Second Amendment Foundation. (For anyone happening across this who needs a primer on why that is a terrible, awful idea, read these items from Claire, who knows the history better than most.)

I must confess that I cannot personally confirm the veracity of most of the details I'm hearing, but I will say that I trust Claire, and David Codrea, and Mike Vanderboegh, in their judgment on this, and I would not be surprised to see El Neil pop back up over the whole matter, recovering-from-stroke or not.  From my own limited exposure to Gottlieb's recent shenanigans with the Manchin-Toomey(-Schumer) pre-emptive surrender, I certainly don't have a great deal of confidence either, that he is not in fact the cat in this observation from the late and much-missed Aaron Zelman:
“A housewife and a cat will both chase mice out of the kitchen. But the cat wants more mice to come back.”
Details sound bad.  Bad enough that it's tempting to wonder if there is not a hand of some Bloomberg-like creep in all of this.  I mean, jeez, where have we heard the "hurry,-we-gotta-do-this-now-before-the-little-people-find-out-about-it" line before?  Again, Claire has details if you need 'em.

My observations at this point are two:

1) This is another (and extremely ironic) example of the risk of vesting power in a centralized authority structure--in institutionalizing.  Claire notes that the board of directors is three people--meaning that any two can destroy the organization in an instant, and it's all "legal and proper".  And in this case (presuming that past history is the way to bet), moreso than in most takeover cases, it would really be tragic to lose the organization's identity, as it is unique.  The tragedy is amplified further by the specific who is "bidding" for the takeover:  the way I understand it, Zelman would never have had anything to do with Gottlieb, going back for some time.  The sense of betrayal among the JPFO rank and file must be seething, and once again, unless I'm getting some pretty bad information, it seems very likely that Gottlieb must have known of Zelman's opinion of him, and stipulating that, it does not exactly cast much positive light on Gottlieb's intentions here.

all of which brings up

2)  If the fix consummates the way it appears to be intended, and the result performs the way long-timers seem to believe it will, it will cost the perpetrators, whether they realize it or not.  It's one thing to take over an organization with no soul or passion, but another entirely to do the same to people who are devoted to speaking plainly and rejecting compromise.  Maybe SAF really does see JPFO as just another list of protection-racket customers, newly available for exploitation.  First of all, I'd say they're simply wrong.  Second, even if that's what they believe and they are right, there is this:  protection rackets can work famously, right up until the moment when they don't.  If it really is Gottlieb's business to perpetually stump for money while never intending to kill his cash cow, he presumably understands that his ruse depends on others not figuring out they're being taken.

He would do well to remember that having a name on a list doesn't constitute...ownership

Monday, August 18, 2014

Not quite what I intended...

(MamaLiberty, this one is kinda for you, given the "so what are you wearing right now?" conversation from comments a few days ago.)

I can now confirm personally that the Kahr CW40 suffers nearly nothing from a ten-minute total immersion in 40-degree seawater;  one small bloom of orange surface rust just inside the muzzle came off easily 12h later with a cleaning, and shows no signs of return yet.  Nor does a Safepacker "un-holster" suffer from the same fate;  it launders normally and should now be salt-free once again.

The gun's owner, by contrast, was much grumpier about the whole episode, mostly because he lost his new eyeglasses, and because he held up the kayaking group, with an unexpected roll in choppy water.  (Apparently he felt the need to prove his noob cred in grand style.)

Of related interest:  the kayak guide was understandably worried about the possibility of hypothermia, but fortunately the Wiggy jacket performed exactly as advertised, and to my considerable satisfaction the cold simply was not an issue.  I suspect he figured out that I was exhibiting absolutely no signs, and was far more irritated than scared or compromised.  I wrung myself out and was back in the water in what was probably less than half an hour.  (I suspect he would have been far more freaked about the contents of the Safepacker, had he been even remotely aware of them.  :-)

Helluva first-kayak-trip, really.  Other than the loss of the glasses and the irritation of being caught off balance by an admittedly rough-conditions day, I'd say it was all win:  lessons thoroughly learned and home in one piece!

Your 'Uncle Frank'-ism for the day.

Just when I'm about ready to give up Facebook again, I seem to get a string of things that are actually useful.  Most of those are usually contacts with people about whom I would otherwise know nothing, but today, there was also this, via a site I don't know called Libertarian Money.  


It's hard to explain my continued amazement at Frank Zappa.  (Put as briefly as possible, I am not sure I know of a better use for the word genius.)  It's nearly impossible to explain to non-musicians, who usually either see him as a noisy, shock-jock lyricist, or...well, as a noisy, shock-jock lyricist.  (Many who appreciate him, do so only for that.)  It's a little easier to explain to someone who plays an instrument, and it's easier still with someone who is a geek about it--the geekier the better.  (For any non-musicians reading here:  let's just say that Frank's musical skills are at least as legendary as those of Miles Davis or Duke Ellington.)

But it wasn't until I figured out--really, actually figured out--that politics isn't the solution to the problem, but rather is the problem, that I discovered the next plane of my admiration for the man.  It's not so much that he often said things that I would now find agreement with, but rather that somewhere along the way I realized that personally, he simply shrugged off everything that wasn't real.  No fanfare or peacockery;  he just did.

Sure, he was known for poking fun at things that aren't real, but hell, lots of others did and do that too, without being conspicuously more than that.  In the blurb above, what stands out is what happened so often with Zappa:  the interview effort completely misunderstood its target and had no answer for what to do about the unexpected result.  I strongly suspect FZ loved this--to be continually underestimated, and to not care what came of it.  It is easy for the well-intentioned to presume that he would have been upset that the interview didn't run--but that would be missing much of the point!  (Being well-intentioned by nature myself, it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize this.)

Consider his own musical genius.  During a time when the popular celebration of musical complexity and virtuosity grew from a counterculture beginning to a state of such self-indulgence and overhype that the next musical wave (punk) was specifically an "eff you!" reaction against it, Zappa was himself poking fun at it nearly the entire time--with the satire itself often buried in structures far more complicated than the chest-thumpers on the receiving end of the ridicule had come up with originally.  (And Zappa was skilled and subtle enough to intermix the anti-peacockery with genuine homages to those who deserved them.)

All this (and believe me, this is brief) illustrates a mind that I admire more and more with every new thing I learn.  He understood the world of the seem and the world of the real nearly without flaw, and played them off each other like toys, on a quantity of levels that I can hardly believe, and yet am still discovering.

The most amazing part is that I don't think he could possibly have done it by accident--and yet the significance of that seems to have been singularly unimportant to the man himself.

Miss ya, FZ.

Added later:  I should have caught this the first time, but it was via Kent McManigal on Facebook that I first saw the Libertarian Money link.