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September 2020

I Watched Tonight's Debate in Advance, So You Don't Have to!

 


Birdcage

 

I am told–and please correct me if I am wrong about this–that they are going to be holding another presidential election in about a month's time. This is of course very exciting news, because... well I'm not entirely sure why, but I understand that a lot of people are excited about it. 

I've also heard–again, correct me if I'm getting this wrong–that there will be a "debate" tonight between the presidential candidates. This is also (I am told) very exciting, for reasons that have not been made clear to me.

Here's the really exciting part though: I've already watched this "debate." I watched it four years ago–or, rather, I didn't watch it at all, but still managed to give an accounting of it that was, I think, far more accurate than any of the commentary written by those who did watch it.

I am re-printing my commentary from 2016 here, for the benefit of those who want to know what happens at tonight's debate but who don't have the time, or perhaps the stomach, to sit through it. Here you go! All you need to know about tonight's debate. Here's how it all went down:



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I’m told there was a debate last night, between two of the candidates for President of the United States. Only I know that’s not true. It can’t be true, because there are no political debates on nationwide television in this country. Not real ones. There is no place in the national discourse for issues of real substance to be debated. The whole purpose of televised “debates”, and of mainstream political discourse more broadly, is to establish the limits of acceptable topics of discussion; to decree, by the very act of posing the questions, what may be questioned and what may not.

So no, there wasn’t a debate last night. There were two Total Statists standing on a stage (I don’t know - did they stand?) disputing the finer points of how best to wield Total State power over the lives of everyone else. Will we deport all Muslims from our country and build a wall to keep them out? Or simply continue bombing them in their own countries? Will we continue to extort money from the Citizens in order to finance our wars of aggression all over the world? Or will we extort money to build a high-speed coast-to-coast monorail that only stops at national monuments and runs on cheese fumes?

There was a debate once. To this day I’m not sure how it slipped through, but eight years ago, one of the Republican presidential candidates stepped across the line of acceptable discourse and challenged the Status Quo at its heart. He challenged the very mainstream - and very “reasonable” - view that the U.S. military had every right to violently intervene in other countries all over the world. Worse, he uttered the unthinkable: That the reason foreign terrorists had attacked our country on 9/11 was because our government had been attacking theirs for decades.

The Status Quo responded the way the Status Quo always responds when anyone so much as pokes a finger over the line that separates those things that may be questioned from those things that may not: With ridicule. And when that didn’t work, it responded by manipulating and even breaking its own rules to ensure that the man who asked the Bad Questions had no chance of ever becoming the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. And it’s a good thing for that man that it worked, and that the Status Quo was able to stop there.

That was eight years ago, and it was the last time anything of any significance came of a presidential debate in this country: A liberty movement was born - one that is still alive, and one that may actually help to change things for the better.

But not today. And certainly not last night. Last night, a whole bunch of people gathered around their TV screens and their computer monitors and they chose sides and they screamed and yelled the way people do when they watch their Sports Games. Many of them opined that the other side’s candidate wasn’t qualified to head the Total State - and they meant it as a bad thing.

Many of those who watched, I’m guessing, came away even more convinced that THIS TIME ESPECIALLY it is so very important to vote. If not to get the right person in office, then to keep the wrong one out. Many of them, I’m sure, went to bed determined to vote harder than they ever had voted in the past. Because this time it was So Damned Important.

And I just don’t even know what to say.

Because the things that need to be debated aren’t. And the people who most need to listen won’t. It is no longer hyperbole to say that we live in a police state: Every week brings us a new installment in the serial tragedy of police officers murdering people who are not violent and who pose no threat to them and who most likely the police had no legitimate business interacting with in the first place; Every week another officer is acquitted of all charges - if indeed charges have even been filed - for a nearly identical incident; Our country has the highest per-capita prison population in the world - beating out dictatorships like China and possibly even the former Soviet Union; A great many of the people wasting away in prison are not guilty of any crime in the real sense of the word - you know, the kind where there are victims; Oh and yes, there are special, very scary prisons for political prisoners.

I could go on about all the things that, without even having seen it, I can guarantee weren’t up for debate in the debate: Ending our government’s military aggressions overseas; Freeing up the healthcare industry so that people can choose the treatments they want (or DON’T want), allowing competition in that market so we can stop mortgaging our homes every time we get sick; Ending, once and for all, the idiotic, deadly and destructive War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial Complex that accompanies it…

I could go on, and on, and on, about all the things that desperately need addressing, solutions that desperately need to be considered, but won’t be. Because in the world of politics, the only solutions that make it to the table of Things We Get to Talk About, are solutions that involve more politics, not less - more of the counterproductive meddling that nine times out of ten caused the problem in the first place: More intervention in our economic affairs and personal choices, more government funding, more favors, more back scratching, more regulation, more laws to be broken and more “lawbreakers” to fill the prisons - never less. Because less politicking isn’t what keeps the politicians and their buddies fed.

Which is why voting - appealing to politicians to fix these problems - is not going to produce solutions. It’s just not how this particular game works. The way this particular game works is that things happen when they benefit politicians and their cronies. Things don’t happen because it makes a lot of sense that they should happen, or because we can see from history that they have worked well in the past. The only things that happen are those things that feed the people who feed the politicians. To paraphrase Emma Goldman: If voting were going to change any of the things that need changing, it wouldn’t be getting pimped all over national television as the most important thing the average Citizen can do to Make a Difference.

Voting for politicians is not the way to make a difference*. It is not a way of exercising power over one’s government. Voting is a way to make people feel as if they are making a difference and a way to redirect some of the energy that might in fact have gone into making a difference. If people think they are making a difference by choosing between options selected for them by someone else, then they are less motivated to seek ways to actually make a difference. It keeps people content, satisfied that they are doing what they can, when in fact all they are doing is granting legitimacy to a system that will crush them if they get in its way.

What Edward Snowden did is how citizens exercise power over their government. What Chealsea Manning did is. What Ross Ulbricht did is. It is worth noting that the people who actually do exercise power over their government don’t end up doing so well at the hands of their government.

I didn’t watch the debate last night, but I can tell you who won: The Total State won - one shade of it or another. And I can tell you who will win the election in November: The Total State is going to win that too. And anyone who believes that voting is going to change that either doesn’t understand the nature of the problems we face, or isn’t familiar with how this particular game is played.

There are those who believe it is “cynical” not to believe in voting. But it’s no more cynical than not believing you can use nitric acid to bake a nice cake. It’s just the wrong tool. And there’s nothing cynical about recognizing that.

 

 

*I feel compelled to make the distinction between voting for candidates and voting on local referenda - the latter can and has been used to make some steps for increased liberty, not least of which is the decriminalization of marijuana. For more about this kind of thing, see the heroes over at the Tenth Amendment Center.

 


Time to End the State of California?

 

Palms 2

 

Californians have a problem: The government of California. Not Governor Newsom, not any particular legislators, but the state government itself.

The problem is that–high-school civics lessons notwithstanding–we really do not have effective ways of restraining the state, regardless of who sits at its helm. Many have pointed out that the lockdowns here are in violation of the US Constitution, and that the Constitution does not come with an exception for "emergencies" or pandemics. But none of that matters. Because the reality is that there is no good enforcement mechanism for Constitutional provisions, or indeed, for our fundamental rights regardless of what the Constitution has to say about them.

The problem we are faced with is not that we happen to be ruled by a dictatorial madman hell-bent on crushing the economy and our livelihoods even after any pretense of a rationale for doing so has disappeared into thin air. The problem is that we live under an institution that provides no meaningful protection against this happening. 

Here's my proposal. It is not perfect, and some will say it does not go far enough (and they will be right), but it makes use of tools that we already have at our disposal, and is something that can be implemented immediately and–most importantly–peacefully.

My solution? Nullify the California state government and do not replace it. Allow the county governments that are already in place to continue operating, and to take over any legitimate functions currently handled by the state government. 

My proposal would start with individual counties and cities refusing to enforce state laws, declaring themselves to be independent jurisdictions, and declaring the California State government to be null and void. We have already seen some California counties and other local authorities do the first part of this, with several across the state refusing to enforce the governor’s lockdown and mask orders.

Some will argue that I have not thought through all of the possible implications of making such a drastic change. They're right, I haven't. But neither did Governor Newsom think through the implications of shutting down the bulk of the state's economy for an indefinite period of time. Of course he didn't. He didn't have to, as he personally will bear none of the costs of his actions.

Should we think this through a little more, discuss the implications, consider different ways to accomplish the goal? Of course. But we should do so urgently, as each day brings more small businesses closer to ruin and more individuals closer to bankruptcy and psychological and emotional collapse. 

The state government's response to a virus has laid bare the dangers of allowing one entity to have so much power over so many people. Radically changing how the state operates has become a necessity for the millions of people whose lives and livelihoods are being held hostage, not by one particular dictatorial governor, but by what has become an all-powerful and menacing institution. We need a solution to this problem now.

 

 

 


WTMWD #34: "Propaganda does not want any argument." A conversation with NYU Professor Mark Crispin Miller

 

 

 

 

 



NYU media studies professor, Mark Crispin Miller, recently came under attack for questioning the official narrative on masks in his class on propaganda. We discuss what happened, and talk about the nature of propaganda and why, after all this time, it is still so effective.

You can find Professor Miller here - and I recommend subscribing to his newsletter for some quality selections of content that is censored elsewhere.

...and you can support his work here.

Professor Miller's essay "Masking Ourselves to Death

 

 


WTMWD #33: "Trump, Minneapolis, and the Divided State of America" - Independent journalist & filmmaker Brandon Ferdig talks about his latest documentary

 

 

 

 

 

I speak with independent journalist and filmmaker Brandon Ferdig, about what's really going on in Minneapolis in the aftermath of the riots, and about his upcoming documentary about why our society seems more divided than ever before.

One year ago, the polarization of American politics was on vivid display at Trump's re-election kick-off event in Minneapolis. Here Brandon Ferdig interviewed eager attendees and angry demonstrators; he captured the protests outside and scenes from the rally floor inside.

And yet this was just the start to the past year's chaos.

This film then turns to 2020, where events have only furthered this divide and heightened the emotion in our country.

Where did this craziness come from? And what do we do about it?

"Trump, Minneapolis, and the Divided State of America" explains how we got to this point of such polarization in the U.S. Finally, it shares how we can reverse this trajectory and come back together as a society.


Watch the film here: https://www.youtube.com/c/theperiphery

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/986123915131411/

Brandon on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bferdig 

...and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/brandonferdig

You can see his writings on Hive (another cryptocurrency-backed medium) https://hive.blog/@fedoraonmyhead

 

 

 


WTMWD #32: Ivor Cummins on Pushing Back Against the Lockdowns, What to Expect in the Fall, & Why Information on Vitamin D is Being Censored



 

 

 

 

Here in the US, it's easy to feel like those of us who care about medical freedom are helpless in the face of the pharmaceutical industry's influence over government and the media. Things are a little different in other parts of the world, and my guest, Ivor Cummins (The Fat Emperor), may have had some success in getting through to politicians and civil servants with some facts and reasoned argument about the lockdowns. He talks about what happened, and how his efforts may have helped to get the government there to back down a little.

He also talks about what most of the media is getting wrong about Covid-19; explains why we are in a "casedemic" rather than a true "epidemic" (also how the WHO changed the definition of "pandemic" in a way that benefitted those eager to sell vaccines to governments around the world); tells us what we can expect in the fall, and what indicators to keep an eye on in order to distinguish truth from hype; and talks a little about Vitamin D as a protective agent against Covid-19 (and many other bad things), and how that information has been censored from public discourse by the FDA.

At a time when good information is being drowned out by media outlets beholden to particular interests, it is more important than ever to support independent journalists and others who are working to untangle truth from fiction. Ivor has been doing fantastic work in this regard. If you'd like to contribute to his work, you can do so here, or here.

Ivor's video on "casedemics" is here, and the video he discusses in this episode is here. I recommend watching both.

The Der Spiegel article he mentions can be found here - and is well worth reading.

And the randomized controlled study on vitamin D with Covid-19 patients can be found here.

Also, just a few of the graphs from Ivor's videos, that help to illustrate some of the points made in this episode:

 

1. What a "casedemic" looks like:


Casedemic Spain

 

2. Excess deaths in Europe, 2020 vs. 2018 (EuroMoMo is the source.):


EU excess deaths against 2018 copy

 

 

3. Regional differences between Covid-19 curves in the US:


Seasonality and regionality in US copy

 

 

Again, if you'd like to support Ivor's work, you can do so at his Patreon site, here, or directly, here.

 

 


Anarcho Soccer Mom's Halloween Message is More Important than Ever this Year

 

"They tell us we should trust them with power over our lives ...but the last thing they want us to do is trust each other."

When I first made this video, seven years ago, there was a little voice nagging at me, telling me that everything I said here about how safe Halloweens really are would soon become untrue and I would one day be forced to eat my words.

I couldn't have even imagined what did happen.

But ASM's words here are more important than ever. At the foundation of any civilization is trust. The knowledge that, when you open your door and go out into the world, the likelihood of one of the people living around you coming running at you with a machete or a blowtorch is very low. That the person you are doing business with is probably not trying to steal from you, or the guy who parks your car at a restaurant isn't going to drive it into another state. 

When anyone engages in a deliberate attack on that trust, when they work to get people to be afraid of each other, to see each other as existential threats to each other, that person is engaged in an attack on civilization.

Los Angeles County health officials tried to "ban" Halloween this year. I guess they got enough resistance that they changed that stance to "recommending against." I hope they're as successful with that recommendation as California's governor was with his "illegal fireworks ban." I've never seen a more glorious display of pro-liberty community-spiritedness (and yes, they are pretty much the same thing if you think about it for more than 30 seconds) in my life.

To me, Halloween is a ritual that is all about social trust and community. I think Anarcho Soccer Mom agrees with me. Let's not let anyone destroy that.

 

 

 

 

 


Ethical Skeptic's First Ever Podcast Interview!

 

PD-Osiris-relief-of-osiris-egyptian-god

Image: Public domain.

 

You can listen to it here. For those who don't know him, Ethical Skeptic is one of the biggest data-digging heroes of the Covid-19 era. You can find Ethical Skeptic on Twitter, and on his own website which among other things is a treasure trove of well-thought-out positions on things like what it really means to be skeptical, and whether vaccines make money for the folks who make them.

And yes, I don't mind saying I'm a little envious. Maybe one day...

 

 


The Post that Got a Pregnant Aussie Mom Arrested:

 

OK, I'm not sure this was the precise post that got her arrested, but these are the protests that Australian mom Zoe Buhler posted about on Facebook - posts for which she was arrested earlier this week. 

The planned protest, "Freedom Day", will be held in multiple cities across Australia, this Saturday, September 5th. 

Please share widely.

 

Sept 5 protest announcement

 

UPDATE: I am told that the actual post for which she was arrested is this one, about the same event.

 


WTMWD #31: Want to fight the lockdowns? Send your sheriff to Virginia this month!

 

 

 

Sheriff Richard Mack, of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, joins me to talk about the Sheriffs' Conference in Lynchburg Virginia on September 30th. He says it could be the most important meeting in America since the Constitutional Convention. Listen to the episode to find out why.

Sheriff Mack also talks about CSPOA's online constitutional training seminar, a six-week certification course that gives people the tools they need to fight for liberty locally and across the country.

You can find CSPOA here, and if you'd like to help support the Sheriff's Conference, you can make a donation here.

You can also purchase Sheriff Mack's book here.