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Thursday, July 21, 2016

2016: The Year of the Great Republican Troll

Donald Trump is on track to become the 45th President, and you and I and every person that so vehemently opposes him are tragically the ones making it happen.
Image courtesy of

Tonight he formally accepts the GOP nomination and continues to shock the world by remaining within a margin of error's distance behind Hillary Clinton in the polls.

Given the sheer torrent of insanity coming out of the GOP convention in Cleveland, a lot of people are starting to wonder why his poll numbers have remained relatively steady.

Now granted, there will always be a certain percentage of the citizenry who would vote for a bag of dog shit, as long there's an "R" written on the bag. But surprisingly, as this post goes live, RealClearPolitics has Trump in a statistical dead heat with Clinton (and in one poll, actually leading!). Despite an unprecedented disunity in the GOP and almost-daily scandals that would derail any lesser candidates (Biden's 88' run was ended in part due to a plagiarism scandal, for instance), Trump continues to show solid if not winning numbers.

What gives?

The fact that all the crazy has yet to put a dent in The Donald's momentum should scare anyone who follows politics. Instead, the commentary is consistently dismissive and jovial, that it's a foregone conclusion that Trump will implode, given sufficient time and/or rope. I disagree. I believe (and fear) that we're all in for a very unpleasant surprise.

Trump has been in the public eye for decades now, and usually not for positive reasons. He thrives in this environment, and he knows how to make it work in his favor.

Since we're about to elect the first reality show president if we're not careful, let's take a look that lowest common denominator of entertainment. For every uplifting-themed reality show like, say, Extreme Makeover - Home Edition, there are a hundred others garnering real ratings that are the television equivalent of rubbernecking fatal car crashes.

The Donald knows this. He knows that human spectacle attracts and holds viewers -- that people feel better about themselves by watching everyday train wrecks slobber on about their lives. He knows we can't turn away.

And now he's taken these lessons and is applying them to a presidential campaign. We may mock the dumpster fire that is the GOP convention, but ask yourself, when was the last time so many non-political junkies cared about a party convention?

It's all on purpose.

It's modern corporate marketing: bad publicity is still publicity. He can lie all he wants because someone has to say his name to call him out on his falsehoods. He doesn't need campaign money for ads because we're giving him free airspace by railing against his monumental idiocy. And he's already set the bar so low for himself that all the negative aspects of this strategy, things that would torpedo a normal candidate, simply don't phase him.

No one expects him to be honest or tactful or to argue in good faith, so that frees him to be the attention-starved troll that he is.

No really: he's trolling America, everyone. By derailing legitimate debates about issues with demagoguery, using incendiary name-calling in lieu of logic, rapidly changing stances without reason or warning or consistency, he can frustrate his opponents into yielding ground and initiative. By the time one is able to parse through his frustratingly-senseless bullshit, he has already gotten his point out and rerouted the conversation in a direction he'd prefer.

It's classic internet-style trolling at its worst.

So what is the answer? This being a libertarian site, we recommend voting for Gary Johnson, though we are not so blind as to believe that's the only option.

Instead, the next time you reach for the "Share" button on something coming from the Republican nominee, some gaff or blunder that seems so crazy that it can't possibly be genuine, take a second to think to yourself: "who am I really helping here?"

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Q & A: Tanks But No Tanks

A reader writes (in regard to the above picture):

Technically that's an armored personal carrier not a tank. I see nothing wrong with SWAT using APCs since they are trained for things like terrorist attacks, foreign invasions, mass hostage situations and sieges. Shouldn't be used to break in people's walls for selling $100 bucks worth of crack though. The thing to remember when it comes to "militarized" police, is that in the event of a devastating crisis, the only military that can be deployed on US soil is the national guard. So if shit hits the fan, you can really only rely on the police and armed patriots to defend us.

While the vehicle depicted is obviously not a tread-driven assault tank, it is an armored vehicle designed to be deployed to fight foreign enemies. It is, however, equipped with mounted guns and, when bearing troops as it is designed to, can be utilized in aggressive military-style assaults not unlike a standard tank.

For the purposes of the point being made (and being made within the bounds of hyperbole allowed in the meme medium), we felt the distinction was not necessary. That being said, you are absolutely wrong about SWAT's proper role as a policing body.

The military will always be the military. The National Guard might be the first to respond in such an event, but the whole of the military would most definitely be the ones to respond to foreign invasion. SWAT may claim this as a means to justify their existence, but they are absolutely wrong, and it's a shield they use against criticism.

We posted this meme at Metafederalism in order to highlight this fact. Police are supposed to be a non-military force that protects it's citizens, not a military unit, and their blurring of these lines over the last few decades has been the root of most of the problems were facing with police today, whether it's overly aggressive policing as in the case of the War on Drugs, poor accountability for misconduct (remember, the military has its own entire justice system, civilian police are subject top the same laws as you and I, or at least they're supposed to be), or even smaller things like the police attitude that they are a class of their own and "civilians" (a.k.a. the people they're supposed to be serving and protecting) ought to be beholden to them.

The folly of military-style troops guarding the peace among the citizenry is exactly the scenario that the 3rd Amendment was made law to prevent. For further reading, I recommend Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop.

Now don't get me wrong, police and "armed patriots" have perfectly legitimate roles and we fully support the 2nd Amendment, but if some foreign power were to invade the U.S., I want the finest military in the world defending me, not some bullies who receive less than 60 hours of firearms training and can't tell the difference between a gun an a taser on their hip.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Q & A: Driver's Licenses, the Environment, and the LP

A reader asked:
Q: I watched footage of the libertarian convention. It reinforced that libertarianism is the ideology of adolescents. It was astounding to see "adults" earnestly argue that drivers' licenses are government overreach. It is hopelessly naïve to believe that government plays no role in regulating commerce and activities that take place in the public arena. Very few people have life experience that does not include people behaving badly who would have taken their bad behavior further without having constraints imposed on them. Furthermore, I give you the Cuyahoga River as an example of the need and societal benefit of government regulation - especially in terms of the environment…

A: Let me just start by saying that yes, I agree with you that professionalism is sorely lacking in the Libertarian Party. I have been calling myself a libertarian for 20 years, and during that time the LP has been an absolute joke.

But I would imagine that you could find crazy-looking extremes at any party convention (even the Democratic one, if the superdelegates ever let the people have a voice!), it's just that the LP's room is a little smaller. And it was in Florida this year.

Drivers Licenses are definitively not government overreach. Even from the most strict libertarian perspective, the government owns the roads, they get to set the rules. But given the very un-American government surveillance that Ed Snowden brought to the public, I don't think it's too unusual to have privacy concerns about National ID's and databasing U.S. citizens -- a process that began with drivers licenses after 9/11.

And no one, not Gary Johnson and not any remotely serious libertarian, suggests a wholly unregulated marketplace. Libertarians are not anarchists - fraud is fraud and protecting its citizens property is absolutely a legitimate function of government. It's the onerous, burdensome regulations that do nothing but create unfair advantages for large companies (it's called corporatism, they write themselves favors into the regulations) that need to be abolished. It's not the regulations or the government itself, but how the government it used by bad people.

As for the environment, Gary Johnson is very much to the left on this issue. Here's his words, directly from his website (Johnson/Weld Issues page):

"The environment is a precious gift and needs to be protected. Gov. Johnson believes strongly that the first responsibility of government is to protect citizens from those who would do them harm, whether it be a foreign aggressor, a criminal — or a bad actor who harms the environment upon which we all depend.

Consistent with that responsibility, Gary Johnson believes it is the proper role of government to enforce reasonable environmental protections. He did so as Governor, and would do so as President."

Friday, July 8, 2016

An Open Letter to America Following the Sniper Attack in Dallas

As you may have noticed, #Metafederalism casts a very critical eye upon law enforcement, in part due to necessity created by the police-citizen power dynamic, and in part because so few really understand the full reality of the policing problems in America.

Last night, that reality came home for a lot of people. The murders in Dallas were inexcusable, barbaric, and have the potential to ramp up the unending cycle of violence that exists and has existed on the streets of our country for a long time.

But it doesn't have to.

We can ignore this moment of public awareness and continue killing each other, or we can look with fresh eyes at what is really just the progression of a malady that has long been plaguing our great yet flawed nation.

The tensions between authorities and minority communities have persisted for far too long in a country that calls itself free. As technology has allowed more people a window into that world, awareness has grown for good or ill. But it's what we do with that awareness that matters.

Metafederalism, and anyone who claims to respect individual rights as part of a libertarian philosophy, must adhere to the principle that one has no right or moral justification to initiate violence against another, and violence may only be justified in one's defense. This Non-Aggression Principle is a core tenet of libertarianism.

But I'll go one step further: Violence is obsolete. Violence is nothing but a means of conflict resolution held over from the days when we humans though magic men in funny beards caused earthquakes. Violence has only one purpose in 2016, and that's to counteract other equally-useless violence. It's the buggy whip, the iPod, the leaded gasoline. It's an ancient and barbaric practice that has no place in a modern society.

To that end, I hope that we all look at last night's tragic events with cooler heads, that we seek to discover how we can fix whatever underlying causes led to this horrific symptom, and that we STOP this societal suicide now before it's too late.